First ImPRessions: PRoperly PRofessional

Think back to your first few weeks as a freshman in college.

I’m sure we all made those frantic calls back home in which we were convinced we were simply meant to join the fast food industry because we really just didn’t know what we were doing. “You’ll find your place,” said every adult we’ve ever known. “Just get involved!”

So we gathered our group of equally confused, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshmen and made our way to the ever-confusing involvement fair on College Green. With so many organizations offered, we couldn’t even distinguish which paths we’d traveled thus far; the Renaissance and fencing clubs dressed in full attire served as our only road marks.Moline

We’d sign up aimlessly, questioning how we’d ever manage to attend all the meetings, nevertheless find the buildings in which they’re located.

But then we, the PR geeks of OU, found PRSSA and ImPRessions. It’s like a love story waiting to happen.

Hand-in-hand, the aspects of these organizations calmed my anxieties concerning whether I was even on the right track to being in the perfect major.

Here’s how I knew I had found my new home:

Sense of community. I never felt uncomfortable at a single meeting. Though I can’t speak for every member of PRSSA and ImPRessions, I’d say it’s pretty safe for me to assume that the chapter is welcoming to new members and anyone interested in exploring the world of PR.

Everyone shows respect. I feel as though I could say the most ridiculous idea possible in my ImPRessions account meetings, and my fellow associates and executives would take it into consideration and see how we could build off it. Even though I’m the only freshman in my ImPRessions account, my ideas are valued just as much as members who have been participating in the organization for multiple years.

Clear sense of professionalism. The young men and women of these organizations have figured out a way to utilize social media in a fun, yet professional manner in order to branch out to other PRSSA chapters and PR professionals. They make communication seem effortless while they build a solid professional background that will help them in their future careers.

Opportunities for advancement. Opportunities to excel in PR are constantly available. Smaller projects within each ImPRessions account are offered regularly, whether it is researching an aspect of copyrighting or getting the opportunity to map out a social media calendar for a professional account.

Looking back now, I can’t believe I’ve only been at OU for 10 short weeks. I feel like I’ve gained a world’s worth of wisdom since that confusing time at the involvement fair. I think I can attribute a great amount of this wisdom to both PRSSA and ImPRessions.

-Amanda Moline is a freshman studying strategic communication. Keep up with her trials and tribulations of freshman year at @mandamoline.

Why I Love My Small College Town

oucampusEver since I was a child my dream was to live in a big city. I pictured myself having my dream job at an agency, going out to dinner with colleagues after work and on the weekends roaming the city and discovering unknown shops and restaurants. Generally, I think that many journalism students aspire to live in a big city because it’s where we think of news stories first breaking and the fast-paced lifestyle correlates directly with the continuously changing social media landscape.

However, despite my big city dreams, here I am in the small college town of Athens, Ohio. It may not have the glamour and endless things to do on the weekend, but going to school in a college town does have its own advantages.

Hands on Experience. ImPRessions is the best example of this because students have the opportunity to work with clients in the community. In such a small town, it’s easy for different companies to see the work the students are doing and this makes them want to be added to the client list. Students are given free hands-on experience doing real-world tasks that can be referenced when interviewing for internships or jobs in the future.

The Bobcat Family.  Going to school in a small town means a small campus and a close-knit family. If anyone were to doubt the love that current students and alumni have for OU and Athens, I would ask them to look at all the alumni that come back for Homecoming Weekend and how much students dread having to graduate. No matter where you are in the world, being a member of the Bobcat Family is something sacred and the connections you make with other bobcats are endless.

The Small Campus. Many bigger schools have the issue of getting students from different areas on campus within a timely manner, thus needing public transportation. At OU we are lucky because we can get wherever we need to be within ten minutes which makes scheduling classes back-to-back and grabbing something to eat before class a breeze. Even off-campus housing isn’t too far, which makes having a car on campus a luxury rather than a necessity.

Strouds, Hocking Hills and The Ridges. It’s easy to think that in a small college town you’ll run out of things to do, but that couldn’t be further from the case. In the foothills of the Appalachians we are surrounded by numerous state parks, historical buildings and one of the scariest places on Earth: The Ridges. When you want to escape uptown Athens, there’s no better way to do it than by spending the day on the water at Strouds or going for a hike in Hocking Hills. If you’re feeling especially brave, try exploring The Ridges and the nearby cemeteries at night.

A small college town may not have the endless shops and restaurants that a big city has, but the memories and relationships you make will last forever. The tight-knit community provides many opportunities that are just waiting to be grasped and endless networking opportunities. Only a bobcat knows how truly special a place like Athens, Ohio is.

-Allison Rumsas is a junior strategic communication major with a Spanish minor. Follow her  at @allisonrumsas.

Blogging 101: What Should I Call Me?

blogTrying to figure out the theme of a blog, let alone the name could take hours, weeks or months if you’re really stuck. It’s like the epitome of writer’s block but worse because there’s not a definite focus. What did I do when it came to creating my blog? I thought about what I liked, what I am passionate about and what I am going to do with my life. The first two were easier, but the last one helped me with what I was going to write. My advice, follow these steps and you’ll have your own blog in no time!

Step 1: Pick a website. If you look online right now you’ll see that there are more blog websites than you can count on your hands. If you’re going to pick a website, think about what you’re going to use this personal blog for. I do write about other things than PR, but I find WordPress to be geared more towards professionals so that’s what I chose. If you’re not a WordPress fan, check out other blog websites such as Tumblr and Blogger.

Step 2: Pick a theme. This means color theme, blog theme and layout. On WordPress I chose the ‘Suburbia’ theme because I really liked the layout. As for my color theme, since I want to go into fashion and I traveled I chose black, white and teal. My background photo is a picture I took in Dublin. It’s somewhat blurry but it’s a photo of postcards laid out and it creates a great background. When you think about what the theme of your blog is remember to think about what you like, what you are passionate about and what you think you want to do with your life.

Step 3: The Name. The last step is to think of the name of your blog… the dreaded name that could take you hours. I chose ‘High Heels High Hopes.’ My cover photo is a picture of high heels with the name in italics. I love fashion and I do own very high heels and my hopes in life are much higher than that. When you’re thinking about the name for your blog, don’t be afraid to do a little research. Look up favorite quotes, past times, etc. Do whatever you need to, to figure it out and once you find what you’re looking for, you’ll feel that ‘aha!” moment.

These are the basic steps to making your own personal blog. I guarantee you step three will take you the longest amount of time. However, if you are still stuck check out some popular blogs to gain inspiration, my favorites are NYC PR Girls, Literally Darling, the Career Kid and the PR Woman. Just remember one last thing, it’s not just about the words written but the writer behind those words.

Happy blogging!

“Blogging is a great way to show your talents and interests to prospective employers, while adding an edge to your resume. If you blog consistently it shows your dedication, passions and creativity – all of which are key attributes employers look for in job candidates.”

-Lauren Conrad

–Kelly Hayes is a junior strategic communications major with a specialization in German and a Global Leadership Certificate. Follow her at @kmshayes. 

A Night of #SwingsNWings with the Copperheads

Swings N WingsWednesday night the Copperheads ImPRessions account held their first event of the semester. The Swings ‘N Wings World Series Watch Party, held at Buffalo Wild Wings, was a real hit.

Attendees watched the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals battle it out in the first game of the 2013 World Series while snacking on delicious wings and other appetizers. Raffles were called between every inning as well, where Copperheads shirts, hats and bobble heads were up for grabs. Insomnia Cookies also graciously donated prizes to the event including gift cards, pens, magnets and hats. Homer, the snake wrangling bear and the official mascot of the Copperheads, even made an appearance.

The Copperheads ImPRessions team put a lot into the preparation of this event. Before anything could be planned, the team had to first contact BW3’s to make sure the event could be held there. Some team members also made pitches to local Athens businesses for prize donations. This was a great way for them to gain some experience in writing a pitch letter and then actually executing the pitch to real businesses.Wings 2

A big part of the event preparation was promotion via social media. With a focus largely on twitter, all members were encouraged to use the original hashtag “#SwingsNWings” created by Colin Madigan, a freshman on the team this year.

Instagram and Vine, social media outlets fairly new to the Copperheads, were utilized as well. In addition, the team made a promotional flyer for the event. The team was highly successful in the promotion of this event, making it a great start to what is going to be a successful year.

Not only was this event great for the attendees, but it was an incredible way for the ImPRessions team to bond as well. It was a great night for Cardinals fans, Red Sox fans and the ImPRessions team members alike!

Make sure to catch all the happenings of the Copperheads accounts!

Twitter: @Copperheads

Facebook: Southern Ohio Copperheads

Instagram: @copperheadsbaseball

Vine: Southern Ohio Copperheads

-Mira Kuhar is a sophomore studying strategic communication. Follow her at @mirakuhar.

Finding Your Daily Inspiration

Sometimes, even the littlest things can remind you of your importance and help to push you where you need to go. I turn to inspirational quotes to get my motivation and encouragement. No matter how cheesy or cliché they may seem, quotes can get you through some of the toughest times.

My computer background is my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote, and possibly favorite quote of all time: “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Every time I open my computer, I am reminded to dream big and to never be afraid of what will happen as a result.  Eleanor

If Eleanor Roosevelt’s wise words don’t tickle your fancy, find another one! You can find motivation in anything from Dr. Seuss to lyrics from your favorite song. Everywhere you look, there are inspirational quotes. So why not cover your whole wall in your favorite inspirational quotes? When you’re upset, look at your wall. When you’re excited, look at your wall. When you feel stressed, you’re wall is there to help.

There’s no inspiration like someone’s words of wisdom. They can remind you that you’re not alone in the toughest of times, and even the best. It is nice to be reminded that other people have felt what you felt and can relate to you while reminding you to always keep pushing forward.

Many of us Scripps kids are constantly beating ourselves up for not doing everything absolutely perfect. I’m guilty of this myself, but I have added quotes to my wall to help ground me and keep me from going completely nuts. One that always sticks out to me is, “shoot for the moon, if you fall you’ll land among the stars.” This reminds me that everything happens for a reason and it is never a bad thing to shoot too far and miss. As long as you have given it your all, you’ll be able to get something good out of the situation. You don’t have to land on the moon to learn what you were meant to.

The important thing is to just take a break when you feel like nothing is going right or you just need some motivation to get you through that rough Monday and remind yourself that things will turn out OK in the end. All you need is some motivation and encouragement to push you in the right direction.

Never under estimate the power of a few words. In the words of Rascal Flatts, “My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to. I hope your dreams big and your worries stay small.” Let your dreams run wild and always keep some powerful words by your side to help you make those dreams come to life.

-Jessica Carnprobst is a sophomore studying strategic communication. Follow her at @jess_carnprobst.

How Shattering my iPhone Screen Taught me About PR

It finally happened.

Just a few weeks ago I was walking around without a care in the word. I was texting, taking pictures, checking my Twitter feed, acting like my iPhone 5 was an indestructible commodity. But then, with one small slip of the fingers and one little shatter of glass, my entire world changed.

Not to be dramatic, but shattering my nearly new iPhone 5 is definitely on the “Top 10 Bad Things That Happened To Me In 2013” list. My iPhone was my baby; the one special thing that I went to sleep with every night, and woke up to every morning. For a whilePhone, I even thought about giving it a name.

Although my shattered iPhone still works okay, I am forced to live with the ever-present reminder that things are just not how they used to be. It’s easy to be mad at Apple for not making its products stronger and sturdier, but looking back on the relationship with my iPhone, it’s easy to see that I was in the wrong.

So, here’s what I’ve learned from shattering my iPhone screen, and here’s how I’m going to carry these lessons with me into the professional, PR world:

1. Never sacrifice quality. When I shattered my iPhone, the only protection between it and the cold, hard, unforgiving ground was a thin, flimsy case that I had bought on Amazon for $1.25 the week before. Although the case was pretty and very cheap, I knew it did not offer even one percentage of the protection my old OtterBox Defender Series case did. However, after having had my iPhone for the past four months without incident, and especially after watching this YouTube video, I decided to sacrifice quality and go for what I thought was a cooler, more attractive upgrade.

And look where that got me. Lesson learned? Never sacrifice quality… oh, and don’t believe everything you see on YouTube. Who cares if my Otter Box case wasn’t the best-looking thing on the market? It did what a phone case is supposed to do – protect a phone – whereas my Amazon deal failed me.

So, how does this translate to PR? Basically, in every way. When you’re working with clients, never present them with cheap, slapdash work just because it’s easy to produce and superficially attractive. Instead, go for quality. Spend the extra time and money to really perfect a project; show your clients that you care about their success. In the end, when their investments have been proven worth it, clients will thank you for your quality service and they will form loyal, lasting relationships with your company.

2. When disaster strikes, pick up the broken pieces and make do with what remains. I broke my iPhone. I broke it, I broke it, I broke it. It sucks. However, no matter how many times I wish I had held a firmer grip, no matter how many times I let out a sigh of exasperation because I can barely read the time, the fact remains that I broke it, so now I have to make do with my mistake.

The first thing I did after I broke my phone was order a screen protector. Now, instead of resembling Bill Hader on that T-Mobile commercial, I can at least slide my fingers across my screen without drawing blood. Although this is a small accomplishment, it’s much better than no accomplishment at all.

Likewise, when you’re working in PR, it’s probable that disaster will strike at one point in your career. If – and when – that happens, you can’t take back the mistake, but you can learn to recover and move on. You might not be able to forget what happened, but at least you’ll no longer feel the lingering pain.

3. Always, always have insurance. (Or a Plan B). Thank GOODNESS I have insurance on my iPhone. Of all the life decisions I have ever made, buying insurance for my iPhone 5 was one of the smartest. If not for insurance, I would have to pay up to $900 for an entirely new phone. As it is, because of insurance, I will only have to pay $100. Still a lot of money for a broke college kid like me, but way less than it could have been.

For the purpose of this post, I will equate buying insurance to having a Plan B. If something fails – a client event, a pending press release or a media pitch – it’s always essential to have a backup plan. That way, when that previously-mentioned and inevitable disaster strikes, you won’t find yourself out on the streets, begging for charity and forgiveness.

(And, speaking of, it you are willing to contribute the Briagenn Adams’ shattered iPhone cause, feel free to tweet me, @Briagenn!)

-Briagenn is a junior studying strategic communication with a minor in French. Follow Bri at @Briagenn.

How to Communicate for a Complex Client

This summer I had an amazing opportunity to work for a company ranked within the top ten of their industry in QuestionAmerica. Their industry? Trash. I was more than a little nervous accepting the position; my knowledge of trash stopped at the curb.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to properly communicate their needs when I didn’t understand their business. Luckily, with a little guidance from supervisors and some serious personal effort, I now consider myself an expert at talking trash.

Check out the competition. The quickest way to get an early idea about an industry is to research your company’s competition. The more sources you have, the more information you have. By reading up on competition you get a more extensive idea of trends in the industry and a better understanding of what sets your company apart.

Keep up with industry news. Even the most niche industries have outlets designated to publish trends.  In terms of trash, I was regularly reading at least three different websites designated solely to discussing garbage and recycling. Not every article published by these outlets will connect to your client’s specific needs. However, understanding the ins and outs of the business as a whole can help you communicate more effectively and understand how other departments work, a necessity if you are working with internal communications. Which leads me to…

Get to know other departments. Especially when surrounded by fellow communications professionals, it is easy to lose sight of how other people understand and discuss different ideas. Mingling with people in other departments provides a new perspective that your coworkers may not be able to provide. They can also be a great resource when dealing with an especially difficult problem. Have a customer with a rare or new problem? Perhaps sales can better understand how to create a solution.

Ask questions. As an entry-level employee or an intern questions are not only expected, they are encouraged. In order to avoid feeling insecure about lack of knowledge, try asking “why?” instead of “what?” For example: “Why do we use a different social media platform than Competitor X?” This shows not only shows a commitment to learning, it also allows for an even more in-depth explanation.

Taking on communication for a client you don’t quite understand can be extremely intimidating. On the flip side, it offers an opportunity for growth and to prove yourself as a true communications professional. If you can become an expert about a niche industry, what can’t you do?

-Darby Fledderjohn is a senior studying strategic communication with specializations in business and sociology. Follow her at @dfledderjohn.