Your Internship Fell Through…Now What?

My freshman year was coming to a close and I couldn’t have been happier with my first year at Ohio University. I had made great friends in my dorm, joined a sorority and PRSSA, and done well in all my classes. As sad as I was to leave Athens, I was so excited to be heading home to Cleveland for a summer internship I had gotten through a family friend.

Then the unthinkable happened: about a month before break began I was notified the company’s funding for interns was taken away and I was left with an internship-less summer.

I’m not the first student to experience this situation, and I can promise that I won’t be the last.  After some panicked calls to my mom and some too-little, too-late internship applications I decided that if I wasn’t going to have an internship over the summer, I still needed to do any, and everything possible to grow myself—and my resume.

If you find yourself at the last minute without an internship, don’t let it keep you from exploring other opportunities. Here’s what I didn’t to make my summer as productive as possible.

1. Work. I had worked at a local flower shop for several years prior to going to college and my boss was the second person (after my mom of course) that I called when my internship fell through. I was welcomed backed to my old stomping ground with open arms and I was able to save up money..

Whether it is returning to the part-time job in high school or mowing your neighbor’s lawn, find some sort of job. At the end of the day, you’re still a student with lots of student loans. If you are having trouble growing your resume, try to grow your bank account. Employers would ratherGardner see that you were doing something with your summer rather than nothing.

2. Network. Even though I was lacking in the internship department, I still wanted to network and learn about the PR industry. I got in contact with the director of communications at Progressive Insurance and was given the opportunity to not only job shadow an event, but meet with the entire communications department including their public relations and social media teams.

I was able to talk extensively about the different job roles and get a better understanding of corporate PR. I walked away from my job shadowing opportunity with advice, business cards and many promises of helping me find internships in the future.

Just because you don’t have an internship doesn’t mean that you can’t play in the PR sandbox. Talk to your family and friends. Everyone knows someone and it just takes one person to put you in contact with the right person. Find a company or agency whose work you admire and get in contact with them. They may not be able to offer you a full internship, but you can still grow a relationship with the people and the company.

3. Learn. I didn’t have an internship which meant I had plenty of time. I might not have been in school, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t learn. Throughout my summer I explored some of the things I had heard about in my PRSSA meetings, but never had the time to explore – Hootsuite, cleaning up my resume and updating my LinkedIn page.  

If you’re going to sit at home over the summer catching up on the latest Netflix series, bring your laptop with you. Spend time that you don’t have during the school year looking up and creating. Google, google, google. If you heard something mentioned multiple times throughout the year and have no idea what it is, find out. Your computer can’t judge you for asking the same question five times so take the time to really dig deep into topics you aren’t familiar with.

If you find yourself with a less than ideal summer, don’t panic. There is always something you can do to improve the situation and it is up to you to make the best of every situation. Learning to adapt is one of the best skills you can have in life and nothing will test your ability to adapt more than losing an internship.

-Sydney Gardner is a sophomore studying strategic communication. Follow her at @SydneyGardner.

Miley Cyrus is a PR Genius

Photo from weheartit.com
Photo from weheartit.com

In terms of marketing herself, Miley Cryus is a living example of the “all press is good press” ideal, even when most is bad press. When you look around, there are not many supporters of Cyrus, however her name has not been out of the media since she put out her music video for “We Can’t Stop.”

She is currently one of the most famous people in the music business, and that fame is certainly helping her out in her success. Many pop stars have gone through similar transitions but there is something unique about what Cyrus is doing. However, these aren’t just random acts of crazy – Miley Cyrus has a strategic plan about how she wants to reinvent herself.

She is a reflection of youth in America. This doesn’t mean that everyone is running around in leotards sticking their tongues out, however Cyrus is using fashion and culture trends to her advantage. Producer Pharrell commented on her in MTV’s “Miley Cyrus: The Movement,” phrasing it perfectly, “…she grew up in the in the era when kids listen to hip-hop. People ask, ‘Why is she twerking? Why is she doing this?’ Because she’s a product of America.”

Twerking, edgy scandalous fashion, and party behavior are all fads among the young adults of the U.S. that Cyrus has incorporated into her image; how couldn’t she be this famous?

She is actually very talented. A celebrity can be all over the media but never actually have success because they have nothing to offer. Miley grabbed the public’s attention with her outrageous performances and music videos, but the girl has talent. “We Can’t Stop” and “Party in the U.S.A. peaked at #2 on Billboard Hot 100, and her most recent single “Wrecking Ball” made it to #1. Her new album topped the charts and had decent reviews by Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, among many others.

Everyone loves a hot mess transformation. She is certainly not Hannah Montana anymore. The change did not happen overnight, and one of the reasons that she has remained famous is because she keeps developing (as anyone does from age 13 to 20) with the times. Cyrus mixed in her do-what-you-want attitude with skills she’s learned from the industry in revamping herself, like what she said in her documentary, “It’s a strategic hot mess.” But strategic, nonetheless.

Whether you love her, hate her or hate that you love her, there’s no denying the impressive way Miley has handled herself over the past year. It will be very interesting to see what she will do next, and if she will continue to hold our attention. Either way there’s no doubt that she is a PR star.

-Morgan Brenner is a freshman studying strategic communication. Follow her at @Morganbren.

Recent Challenges in Social Media Ethics

Current trends in social media are both exciting and potentially scary. The amount of change is unprecedented, and the future of social media is a giant question mark waiting for our ideas to shape and transform it. Social media is centered around real people being themselves and expressing their ideas in a honest and open dialogue. It’s about connection. It’s about being social. It’s about opening the doors to a global community.

However, there are threats that many users may not even be aware of.

Astroturfing. Before reading this article I had no idea what ‘astroturfing‘ was, let alone how greatly it could affect online users. For those that were in the dark like myself, astroturfing involves using sophisticated software to pose as real people and support the cause of the software purchaser.

This is an almost unbelievable problem. Movie plots of smart technology going horribly wrong like the Matrix, Smart House, and iRobot all come to mind. However, the worst part of it is that the bad guys here are not smart technology — it’s people. This is something that used to be done as anonymous letters to the paper, but as technology advances the threats become even more expansive.

The people involved in using this software are betraying the very nature of blog comments and social media. These forums are meant to give each individual a voice, including those who are using astroturfing to silence that voice. It is a behind-the-scenes lie that attempts to sway public opinion by pretending to be the public, something so unethical I can’t believe that it’s legal. As journalists, I believe it is our responsibility to call out such activity and advocate for the public, although the software could comment on our articles and make it appear that no one agrees with our take on the issue.

Sponsored Tweets. While astroturfing can take place on a number of platforms, sponsored tweets are a challenge that has grown as Twitter has become increasingly popular. Well-followed celebrities or parody accounts will accept money to give a company or brand a positive shout out.

As a Twitter user, I can think of nothing I detest more than when these kind of tweets pop up on my news feed. Twitter should be an ad-free space, and I greatly lose respect for any popular people I follow that engage in this activity. Most of the time I simply unfollow them. These people are well trusted in the media and, while they may not consider themselves accountable to journalistic standards, they need to reevaluate their ethical standards. Accepting money in attempts to try to persuade their followers is not keeping the best interest of those followers a top priority. Take a look at how much some of the most popular tweeters are being paid.

With both of these growing issues it seems we are being catfished by celebrities we may look up to and businesses or government agencies that might not deserve the respect we give them. For those that don’t know what catfishing is, the following video will make the similarity abundantly clear.

Just as Nev didn’t know who the girl he met online truly was, perhaps we are getting to the point where we can’t trust the authenticity of fellow blog commenters or advocating tweeters.

It is up to us to stop these shady breaches of confidence from happening. If celebrities lose large followings every time they take cash for a tweet, it will decrease their incentive to do so. In addition, if the public can shed light on the specific events and organizations involved in astroturfing, the software loses its purpose and the public dialogue can continue to be an exchange worth having. Like I said before, it’s up to us.

-Ann Watercutter is a junior studying strategic communications with a minor in business and a marketing specialization. Keep up with Ann at @AWatercutter.

ImPRessions Set to “Rock The Firm”

Platform Magazine, the student-run public relations publication at The University of Alabama, is conducting their first student firm spotlight series “Rock The Firm: What’s your Platform?”. The top student-run communication firms from across the country are submitting blog posts featuring their firm and clients.

Platform

The spotlight blog featuring ImPRessions, launched today and features the firm’s Athens County Humane Society Account along with the new restructure of ImPRessions. Check out the post and promote the amazing work ImPRessions creates!

Once all of the firms are featured, Platform Magazine will set up a competition to see what firm is voted the best student-run firm. Be on the lookout for the announcement that the voting is open so we can work our magic and hopefully achieve the imPRessive (hehe) feat of best student-run firm!

Avoiding Social Media Crises

TweetSocial media: we love it. It’s the first thing we see in the morning and the last thing we see before bed. We can’t be away from it for more than two hours, and that’s even pushing it. As much as we love social media and want to believe it will never turn its back on us, it is possible that it could happen if we aren’t careful. It could turn into our own worst enemy.

We are always representing a brand in some way, shape or form. Whether that brand is a company, a team, or ourselves, what we decide to post on social media reflects that brand. One tweet can cause an enormous social media crisis.

In order to avoid a social media crisis there are a few steps a brand can take:

Engage, engage, engage. It is important to engage with your audience. Dialogue helps build a brand’s personality and create trust. If a crisis were to happen, your audience would already have a sense of loyalty and confidence in you.

Have a plan. Problems are sure to arise at some point when it comes to social media. If you have a plan on what steps need to be taken if and when a crisis arrives, it will make life a lot easier.

Don’t try to brush mistakes under the rug. Transparency is key with an audience. In order to gain trust, you have to acknowledge criticism and deal with any issues right away.

Be cool. It is hard to be criticized, especially when a problem was never your intent. Don’t get defensive with your audience. Apologize, own up to your mistakes, and be cool.

Why wouldn’t we love social media? It connects us to the rest of the world and brings people together. As much as we love it, we have to be careful with it. It can turn its back on us and break our hearts at the tap of a screen. If we use these steps, we can keep our brands flawless and representative of who we are.

-Annie Beard is a junior studying strategic communication. Follow her at @annie_beard.

Promoting Outside the Box: Innovative PR Stunts

Public relations professionals are always on their toes, anticipating what’s next. PR is an industry that is constantly on the verge of change and perpetually in motion. Today’s consumer market is so highly competitive, it forces PR brains to extend beyond traditional promotional tactics and stand out innovatively. Teams work to creatively break through a clutter of brands targeting the same audiences by staging PR stunts.

Small Girl PromTake Small Girls PR’s 30 Days of Prom stunt, for example. Two small girls delved into the glamorous, glittery world of prom by wearing a different Tiza.com prom dress every day for 30 days.  Fashion-crazed, prom-ready teens could follow the activities on a tumblr page to explore prom tips and tricks, and maybe even participate in the challenge themselves. The stunt concluded with a prom event hosted my Styleite, Tumblr, and Tiza.com.

Girls all over the country fell in love with prom again. 30 Days of Prom was even featured in Elle Girl, Glamour and The Gloss, just to name a few. This genius PR stunt created major buzz and hyped the anticipation for girls to find their perfect prom dress via Tiza.com. 30 Days of Prom caught the attention of many, and made Tiza.com stand out as a leading prom dress supplier.

Other mastermind PR stunts include Chevy’s aerial attraction, where Chevy sent a new Sonic sedan out of an airplane and streamed a video of its airborne free-fall on YouTube, generating millions of views. Someone please tell me that they would not be curious to see this?

As young professionals, here’s how we can get our creative wheels turning.

1. Think outside of the box. Tear down all the boundaries that box-in traditional PR tactics. Think beyond city limits, beyond American culture and beyond objectives. Think big and get creative.

2. Recognize that no idea is stupid. Anything can lead to something big and great. Pitch all your ideas, even if you think they’re stupid, because there is always a possibility that your small, silly and underdeveloped idea will snowball into something buzz-worthy.

3. Use your resources. Pull from all angles that are available to you to either create or implement a stunt. What lies in your bag of resources? Printing, street festivals, influential people, college libraries, anything at all can help exponentially.

4. Find what engages your audience and run with it. Hosting PR stunts will only get you so far. Along with a head-turning stunt, take the conversation online. Facilitate a dialogue that engages the audience with your brand, placing the stunt at the center of conversation.

Everyday brands pull out their swords and battle against the cluttered market population to win the hearts of consumers, especially within the plethora of logos, slogans, billboards and blogs. Attracting attention demands innovative, out-of-the-box PR stunts. Brilliant PR stunts can work wonders for your brand’s reputation and recognition, and it all begins with out-of-the-box, innovative thinking.

-Marisa Dockum is a junior communications studies major with a global leadership certificate. Follow her at @MarisaDockum

Blogging – Your Own Blank Online Canvas

BrickIf I had a quarter for every time a class, professor or professional stressed the importance of being a good writer I’d be rich enough to have a closet full of Louboutins and Louis Vittons. (A girl can dream, right?!) From press releases to ad copy to news writing to social media lingo, a successful PRofessional is one who can creatively communicate and articulate a message to their audience.

Blogging allows you to demonstrate your strengths and style as a writer. Whether you’re writing for a company or trying to develop your own personal brand, a blog can be your blank online canvas. Plus, it’s a great way to create clips for your portfolio. Whether your blogging about the best blueberry pie recipes or a new fortune 500 company’s philanthropy initiative, a blog can help you be seen as a thought leader. In our ever-changing technological world, brands and businesses are even implementing blogging into their social strategies. In fact, businesses that blog average 55% more website visitors than those who don’t.

Over the years, I’ve blogged a little, writing posts here and there for an organization’s or internship’s website, but this semester I’ve upped the aunty on blogging. In a professional setting I’ve been blogging for my marketing 4900 class taught by Nate Riggs. In an effort to recruit students to next semester’s class, my peers and I have been contributing to our blog – Ohio Marketing Students. From case studies to podcasts to how-to’s and more, our blog showcases the world of content marketing.

Through the purchased version of WordPress, we’ve been utilizing different analytical tools to help gain the best SEO. For example, instead of creating clever or cheeky blog titles, we create titles based on actual search terms. We’ve love for you to join our conversation by subscribing to our blog.

On a personal level, this semester I’ve also started by own blog – One Brick at a Time. In an effort to make the most of my senior year, (because YOSO – you’re only a senior once). I’m blogging about all of my bucket list experiences. From Larry’s Dawg House to karaoke at the Smiling Skull to stealing an Athens brick, each post will follow my journey as I complete signature OU/Athens things that I haven’t done before I leave this special place. Although it’s somewhat of a silly topic, my blog not only gives me a creative outlet, but it also is a way for me to showcase my writing skills.

You too can become a blogger! Choose a topic your passionate about and go!

-Sara Lowenstein is a senior studying public relations with specializations in sociology and community health. Check her out at @SaraLowenstein.