How to Get the Most out of a Non-Major Student Organization

By: Amanda Moline, @mandamoline


With dedicated, career-driven college students such as those involved in PRSSA and ImPRessions, it often seems that we should only get involved with organizations that directly relate to our major. However, tacking a passion-based club onto typical schedule, can allow you to follow your passions while still developing key public relations skills.

  • Find “your people.” If you’re around others that have similar interests or the same work ethic as you, you’re more likely to stick with the organization and stay on top of the work. If you don’t feel comfortable with the people in your organization, it may not be the perfect fit for you.
  • Figure out what you’re passionate about, then apply your skill set to make your visions come into fruition. For example, if you care about your club sports team and you want to see your membership grow, you could use your PR skills to recruit members and serve as a leader within the club.
  • Go above and beyond. Maybe your organization needs to be restructured, doesn’t have any social media accounts, or has an out-of-date logo. Take the initiative to give back to this organization. Not only will you feel extremely satisfied improving the organization, you’ll also have a portfolio piece that you were not required to make! This exemplifies your passion for your career.

College is an amazing time to figure out your passions and goals, both within and outside the realm of your career. If you find an organization that is a great fit for you, you just might find out aspects of yourself that you never knew.

PRSSA National Conference Survival Guide

By; Marisa Fiore, @marisafiore1


PRSSA National Conference. Thinking about how close it is either brings out fear or excitement. Whether this your first conference or your fourth or fifth, here are some tips that will help you survive the conference.

1. Bring a Bag

My first National Conference, I forgot to bring some sort of bag that I could carry my things in. I ended up using a giant zebra print bag and running around with it all conference. To say it was embarrassing is an understatement. Bring a bag that can fit the program, a water bottle, snacks, pens, your business cards and a padfolio. You will thank me later!

2. Bring Snacks

PRSSADCWhile I am on this topic, bring snacks! The days of the conference are long and if you are anything like me, sometimes your breakfast or lunch doesn’t always fill you up. I am one of those girls who is constantly hungry, so bringing a snack or two in my bag can help tide me over until my next big meal with my chapter.

3. Dress in Layers

You never know what the temperature difference is going to be like in the different ballrooms and outside. Bring a sweater and a rain coat!

4. Take Advantage of Free Things

There will most likely be free water and coffee around the conference or at the breakfasts in the morning. Save your money and fill up a reusable water bottle with the water around the hotel. Your wallet will thank you! And don’t forget the free swag at the Career Exhibition! Use the bag you bring to store all of your new highlighters and pamphlets!

PRSSADC15. Choose your Sessions Beforehand

It is important to look through your program and choose your sessions before you start your day. This way you can plan which sessions are most interesting to you and find other chapter members to attend the session with you.

6. Don’t be Afraid to Take a Break

National Conference can be tiring and overwhelming! Don’t be afraid to take an hour off to catch a breather. It is worth your health and sanity to relax and enjoy the conference. If you need a break, take one!

7. Roll with the Punches

PRSSADC2It is likely that at some point over the course of National Conference, things will not go as planned. Especially if you are in a large chapter. It is important to realize that sometimes a change in plans isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Take a deep breath and go with the flow.

8. Pay Attention to Twitter

Many conference attendees will be tweeting with the hashtag #PRSSANC. Even if you don’t want to live tweet, look to see what other people are talking about and to find new people to follow.

9. Prioritize

Think about why you decided to attend National Conference. To network with professionals? To learn more about public relations? To make new friends? Set a goal for what you want to get out of the conference. There is no wrong answer!

NationalConference10. Be Open to Meet New People

National Conference is all about getting to know public relations majors from all over the nation. While it is important to bond with your chapter, don’t forget to talk to the person sitting next to you. You never know, they could become your friend for life!

While National Conference is the event that many PRSSA students look forward to all year, it is important to remember that FOMO shouldn’t stop you from taking a break. Don’t get overwhelmed and breathe! This is about to be the best conference of your life! See you in Atlanta!

Internship Spotlight: Southwest Airlines

By: Gentry Bennett, @Gen__andTonicGentry Bennett Southwest 2

Interning at Southwest Airlines is unlike any other internship. There is absolutely a reason they call working at Southwest “the flight of your life.”

My experience with Southwest started out in November, when I applied for the summer semester Social Business Intern position. On the website, I had the feeling that many applicants apply for a variety of positions, leading to the website stating if you apply for more than three positions, it does not increase your chances of being selected. Thus, I only applied for the position I was most able to fulfill. I printed out the job description and carried it around for months waiting on an email or call.

In February, I found out I was selected for the second round, an essay portion. After the essay portion and another grueling waiting period I received a call that I had made it to the third round, a phone interview. I prepared more than I had for anything else in my life. The conversation was easy — I was asked to talk about my major and my involvement in school organizations (my favorite subject!). Next thing I knew, I was being flown out for an in person interview, the last of four rounds. To my surprise, I was chosen as one of 128 interns for the summer! Over 14,000 people applied to positions and only 128 of us boarded the flight of our lives.

Gentry Bennett SouthwestEvery day at Southwest is different- that’s the beauty of the airline industry. One daily task that I was able to take part in was stand up meeting, a meeting every morning with folks from multiple departments of Southwest. We would talk about any campaigns and communications that were being pushed out and also discuss trending topics. I would come prepared with trending hashtags, current events, airline industry updates and more. Not only would I be able to present this information but I would also come with full details to update employees. Then, I would compile everything that was discussed in to a Shift Brief that was sent every day to over 400 employees including executives. After stand up meeting, I had different tasks every week.

These ranged from compiling reports using analytic software to attending content brainstorms and pitches from companies. The coolest thing I was able to be a part of was a beta program to promote positive posts from Southwest’s customers. The reality of social media for a business like Southwest is that it will be used as a customer service tool. With customer service comes negativity, but this program highlighted the positivity of Southwest’s online presence by rewarding customers that are advocates for the Southwest brand.

Gentry Bennett Southwest 1My internship at Southwest really prepared me to understand the airline industry and how corporations run their businesses. Working in an office for three months helped me to understand what it is like to have a full time job and be a full time employee. My first internship was virtual so I wasn’t able to say that I spent time and learned the ins and outs of office life — but now I can!

If you are interested in working at Southwest, I highly recommend it. All you need to do is send in your resume to apply and the rest goes from there. One perk I forgot to mention? You fly on standby for free on the weekends! I was able to explore six cities and Dallas, Texas where all of the interns work at headquarters. Please email me if you have any questions about the program or the application process!

There Are More ImPoRtant Rankings Than Playboy…

By: Hayley Baldzicki, @hayleybaldzicki

Looking for a job or internship in the near future? Due to the recent party school rankings by Playboy Magazine, Ohio University students may struggle when asked by a professional about this #1 party school ranking.

We all know OHIO has so much more to offer than HallOUween, but how do we explain this to a professional?

Here are some tips and tricks to sell yourself!


Scripps should definitely be your first go-to when describing your college experience. If you’re like me, you came to Ohio University because of Scripps. Here is an example of what you could say: “Scripps College of Communication offers nationally recognized academic excellence. Through my experiences within Scripps I have gained real-world experience and world class practicality I can apply to this position.”

2. Ohio University ranked among nation’s best colleges for 2016.

This one speaks for itself. However, if the party school ranking is brought up say, “I did see that ranking, however did you see that U.S. News & World Report ranked Ohio University as a top college for 2016? This ranking is far more you can respond with, valuable to me than a Playboy Magazine ranking.”

3. You can brag about Athens’ beauty, too.

I mean, why wouldn’t you? You can say something like, “Ohio University was also just ranked #2 for most beautiful college campuses by The beauty itself provides a great atmosphere to go to college.”

4. GPA & Personal Experiences.

Of course sell yourself on your academics and professional experiences. “Ohio University has offered me an excellent education where I have strived for greatness through my experiences inside and outside of the classroom.”

All in all, Bobcats know there is so much more to our beloved school besides the party school reputation. However, as PR people we know how things seen on the news, or read online can influence public opinion. Having the experience to sell ourselves to a professional will be especially beneficial going into the real-world potentially facing crisis communication. It’s important to get across to professionals that, besides this Playboy Magazine ranking, here is why my school is better than that. Here’s why my experiences through Ohio University have led me to be qualified for this position. Lastly, here’s why I’m proud to be a Bobcat, and will bring this sense of pride to this organization.

What You Should Know About Interning for a Nonprofit Organization

By: Rachel Hartwick, @rachel_hartwick

Rachel Hartwick Ohio University ImPRession Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition

I went into my summer internship at the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition knowing hardly anything about nonprofit work. I was still a news and information major and hadn’t explored many aspects of PR yet. At first, I was unsure of what I could bring to the organization. However, I came out of the internship with a greater understanding of nonprofit work as a whole. Here is just a slice of some things you can expect with a normal internship for a nonprofit:

Rachel Hartwick Ohio University ImPRessions Press Badge1. Nonprofit internships aren’t as glamorous as other internships. It’s a NONprofit for a reason, so don’t expect to be rolling in money. Many internships aren’t paid, and there’s a good chance your nonprofit internship—especially if it’s your first one—won’t pay, either. Additionally, your office may not be sparkling, clean and have automatic doors—my office was in the lobby, which is open to the public. Because of this, I had to make sure my belongings were always shut in the room or with me at all times. That’s something you don’t always have to worry about in a glamorous office with locks on every door.

2. You’re able to put your creativity to use (and it’s appreciated!). Nonprofit organizations thrive on getting the word about their mission out. Hence, they need PR people, that’s us! You may not have received an exact job description at your internship, but many nonprofits are more than willing to let young, tech-savvy interns come in with fresh ideas for campaigns. Essentially, you get hands-on experience and portfolio items doing exactly what you’d like to do.

3. You will do much more than just PR. Because many nonprofits are understaffed and underfunded, there’s probably not IT personnel, maintenance staff AND someone to handle all the donations—so you may be picking up all those jobs. You’ll also have your own personal tasks to complete, and you’ll be picking up some of the tasks the staffers can’t get to. You’ll have to wear many hats, even as a PR-specific intern.

Rachel Hartwick Ohio University ImPRessions GCHC4. It was extremely rewarding. When my friends and I compared stories of our internships, my experience was drastically different than theirs, but I wouldn’t trade my internship for anything. Working with a nonprofit organization gave me an opportunity to expand my culture far beyond my suburban hometown and little college bubble. I got to talk one-on-one to people who were experiencing poverty and dedicated to finding housing for themselves, and I was able to help them in their journey to a better life, too. When you work for a nonprofit, you know that little by little, you’re making a difference.

I’d encourage everyone involved in PR to intern, work with or at least volunteer at a nonprofit at some point in his or her life. If you’re not sure where to begin, pick an issue you’re passionate about; more likely than not, there’s an organization dedicated to spreading that message. Not only will it build your resume and experience, but you’ll help more people than you could imagine along the way.

The Best of Humor Based Marketing

By: McKennah Robinson, @kennmilli

We unknowingly encounter thousands of advertisements and marketing campaigns every singleday. We see them in product placement in movies, posters on bulletin boards, billboards or commercials. The world of marketing has become so mainstream and saturated that it has become almost impossible to grab the attention of potential consumers. So how do marketers work to increase interest and ultimately traffic to their companies? They seem to be ending on two ends of the mental spectrum. Some go for deeply emotional campaigns. While others go for humor. If an ad, tweet or video can make us cry or make us laugh, we are almost guaranteed to remember it.

I am a huge fan of campaigns that do humor and do it well instead of play on emotion, and these are some of my favorite local and not-so-local brands that do just that.


Dollar Shave Club

I’ve written about Dollar Shave Club before, and will continue to be amazed by them for as long as I can. This company started out so small that they had to film their own starter video, and has since grown into a phenomenon of a company. They used uncanny humor to attract attention, as seen in the video above, and have perfected the art of funny humor without being too over the top.


State Farm

Wait, insurance can be funny? State Farm has recently proved that, in fact it can be. We all know the “Jake from State Farm” commercial almost verbatim and have all quoted “Can I get a hot tub?!,” at least once. It’s completely unconventional for an insurance company to do more than just recite their stats and facts to potential customers, but working humor into their marketing efforts has really paid off.


Old Spice

Does anyone remember Old Spice before they started these hilarious commercials? Sure, they’ve been around forever, but we know and love Old Spice because they’ve cracked the code on how to be quirky and funny without pushing their product on us too much. These commercials might have started out as a way to draw in more consumers, but the commercials have continued because consumers are connected to the humor and, quite frankly, humor sells.


Avalanche Pizza

They’re local, they’re funny, and their pizza is AMAZING. It can be hard to penetrate the pizza market and actually stand out, but Avalanche Pizza combines both humor and deliciousness to put themselves at the top of the pack in Athens. (In my opinion, anyway.) I’ve never seen an ad for Avalanche that didn’t include some type of humor, and they always have signs out front claiming that “[X] person eats here” or “[X] person has NEVER eaten here.” Their humor hits home with us college students and we in turn are loyal customers… Because nothing is better than pizza and laughing.

The world of marketing can get heavy and can sometimes push consumers away with too much advertising and too much emotion. The brands that have mastered the art of light hearted conversation and humor are the one’s that have won the hearts of like-minded consumers, and tend to get the most out of their marketing efforts. As for me, I appreciate a good pun, a good laugh, and a good ad, so if a brand can do just that, they have my business.

3 Reasons Why Franchise PR Rocked My World (and Why It Will Rock Yours Too)

By: Maddy Plaster, @maddyrose1620 awkward animated GIF

All PR bobcats can agree that figuring out what you want to do after college can sometimes be a little overwhelming. The first step in calming those nerves is to explore and experience all of the different industry-specific specialty areas that the public relations world has to offer. Most PR firms offer services to companies in all different types of industries. However, some PR firms specialize in only one industry. Their industry focus could range anywhere from food and travel, to healthcare and education. An often overlooked (but quite remarkable) field is the franchise industry.

I recently interned with the leading franchise PR firm – Fishman Public Relations in Chicago. Fishman focuses on providing brand awareness and positive media exposure for franchise companies across the United States. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “franchise,” here is the lowdown:

A franchise is an agreement that is made between two companies. Within that agreement, one company (the franchisee) buys the rights to sell the goods/services of the other company (the franchisor). The franchisor is in charge of then providing a successful business model for the franchisee to model its company after. Some of our very own Athens businesses are owned by franchise companies, e.g., Wendy’s, Jimmy John’s, and Pita Pit.

Here are just a few reasons why franchise PR might be the right industry for you:

  1. Best of Both Worlds. The greatest part about this type of PR is that you get both corporate and small company experience, unlike most firms that focus on only one. Often times the franchisor is a large corporate company, like McDonald’s or Corner Bakery Cafe. The franchisee might be a small “mom and pop” business that owns one store. Learning how to work with both the franchisor and the franchisee is a very beneficial skill to have when entering the PR industry after college.
  2. Pitch, Pitch and Pitch Some More. You will be writing pitches in your sleep after working at a franchise firm. Your writing skills will improve drastically, and making media lists will become second nature. You will also develop long-lasting relationships in the media, both at news stations and major publications all across the country.
  3. Not Just a 9-5 Job. While this may seem a bit intimidating, that’s what makes PR and specifically franchise PR so exciting. Sometimes product placements on network or local TV shows call for working nights, weekends or even holidays. For instance, last Fourth of July weekend, I coordinated a “food drop” for my restaurant franchise client at an NBC affiliate news show in South Carolina. Making your client happy is always the number one priority, and occasionally that means working off the clock.

While Franchise PR may not be for everyone, it is definitely worth checking out. The knowledge I gained, the people I met and the memories I made at my internship this past summer, have changed my PR journey forever. For those of you “Strat Com” kids still unsure of where your path will take you, I highly recommend you give Franchise PR a shot. I hope it rocks your world, like it rocked mine.