By R. Devin Hughes, CEO
For the last time, I am writing a blog post with the “CEO” title, as I am soon to graduate and hand the role over to Nicole Bersani. As I do so, ImPRessions is unveiling its new slogan, “Build a brand. Shape your future.” Having spent four years with the firm, four years which I consider the best of my life, I feel qualified to say that this slogan more accurately represents what ImPRessions, at its core, is all about. For my “swan post”as ImPRessions CEO, I would like to walk you through this new slogan, including my insights over the past four years and an overall summation of the value of ImPRessions.
At its core, ImPRessions does two things: we help our clients by giving them quality, free PR efforts, but we also help ourselves, engaging in real-world PR work that will qualify us for internships and jobs. In selecting a new slogan, we wanted something that encompassed both of these elements, doing justice to everything that ImPRessions is.
Build a brand
On the surface, this is what we are doing for our clients. We help shape their brands and engage in PR strategies and tactics designed to improve their standing with their target audiences.
But those aren’t the only brands we build in ImPRessions: we also build personal brands. Using a conservative estimate, if you work on one account all four of your years at OU, you’re going to meet between 30-40 people. And you aren’t just meeting them; you’re spending an entire year working closely with them. These are people that are going to graduate and go into the same field as you, and ImPRessions gives you the opportunity to show them what you’re all about.
I have accepted a post-graduate internship for this summer. The person who encouraged me to apply was my account supervisor during my sophomore year with ImPRessions. She went on to work with a major PR agency, and wrote to me when an internship opened up. If I had been a complete screwup, do you think she would have done that? This is proof of where ImPRessions can take you: she was two years older than me; we didn’t run in the same social circles or have the same classes. We met through ImPRessions, period. This firm was the one chance I had to brand myself in front of someone, and she apparently liked what she saw.
Shape your future
Again, on the surface this can refer to our clients: obviously, if we brand them well it will have a positive impact on their future performances. At the core, though, it comes back to the students, just like “build a brand.” In my example, I effectively shaped my future by coming across a post-graduate internship through someone I worked with in ImPRessions. You can too.
Those hiring for jobs can get hundreds of resumes for one posting. Your best chance is to have an “in,” someone who can advocate for you and get your name to the top of the list. I have met some of the smartest, most hardworking people I know through ImPRessions, and if they told me they were applying for a job where I worked, I would make it a point to badger the hiring manager, advocating for these people. This has actually already happened–despite just being a student, super low on the totem pole, I have had managers ask me who I recommend for positions, and these people have gotten hired.
But not everyone chooses to shape their future positively. When it’s winter quarter, it’s cold, and you’re snuggled under your blanket at home, you might not feel like going to that ImPRessions meeting at the library. I guarantee you, though, that your execs will notice if you do. I was an account executive; I felt immense gratitude to those I could consistently count on showing up to meetings and getting their work done on time. I would do anything I could now to get those people hired.
As a student, you can shape your future by working hard in classes and getting good grades. However, I think people forget about the network they are building around them. In my opinion, the best way to effectively shape you future is by learning from and imPRessing your peers. They’ll remember you, and that could end up going much further than a high GPA. Which brings me to my final point…
Leave an ImPRession
This is not part of the official new slogan, but it goes with the overall theme and you may see it thrown in there from time to time. You’ve got four years to leave a positive ImPRession on as many students as you can. I can candidly say that I know there are students who would recommend me if they got the chance because of my work with ImPRessions. I can candidly say that there are students I would recommend because of their work with ImPRessions.
Setting yourself apart is easy. It doesn’t involve being the smartest or the most creative or having the most Twitter followers. It simply involves showing enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and volunteering for as many things as you can. As CEO, when I was hiring executives, my line was always that I looked for attitude more than brains. You’re a student; nobody is expecting you to be a PR expert. We just want someone who is dependable, and ready to learn.
I’ve been an account associate, an account executive, an account supervisor, an assistant director (that position doesn’t even exist anymore!) and a CEO. I’ve played all the roles, and I’ve heard so many stories. Stories from students who got internships almost solely because of their ImPRessions work. Stories from clients who love our work and want to hire an OU student.
People like to tell stories, and that’s how your network grows. I’ve actually never directly worked with our incoming vice presidents on an ImPRessions account, but I know how qualified they are because other people tell me good things about them. Conversely, I’ve had executive candidates described to me as “hot mess train wrecks.” You hear these things. When you leave ImPRessions, you will have left an ImPRession.
So you can choose to be known as the hardworking, organized associate or you can choose to be known as the hot mess train wreck. Personally, I would try my best to make it a good one.
This is your chance: Build a brand. Shape your future. Leave an ImPRession.