Brand Journalism: Combining My Love of Storytelling and PR

By: Erin McMahon, @emcmahon1

erin blog

I was always one of those kids who knew exactly what career they wanted to have. From middle school onward, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded with “journalist.” This was a bit of an odd response, as most other kids I grew up with blurted out answers like teacher, doctor, nurse or veterinarian.

My dad had also wanted to be a journalist, and worked as a reporter for a wire service right out of college. As a kid, my dad would tell me about the stories that he covered, including a prison break in West Virginia and when he got “the interview” with Dan Quayle, the vice president at the time. These stories fascinated me and I thought that journalism would be the perfect career. It would allow me to tell stories, utilize my communication skills and travel all over the world. What could be better?

After a long process deciding on colleges and which programs I’d like to target, I knew that the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University was the place for me. I mean, it even has journalism in the title, for goodness sakes! During the decision process, my parents (although incredibly supportive of me) suggested public relations as a potential major, considering the current struggles of the news media industry. After six years in the journalism industry, my dad had made the shift to PR and thought that I might like it too. However, stubborn me couldn’t think of anything more boring than doing, what I thought would be, the behind-the-scenes work for a company. I wanted my name in a byline, my face behind the news desk. There was no way I was changing my dream…until I took my first strategic communications course.

Upon learning about why consumers make certain product decisions and how to construct a marketing campaign, I knew that the PR and advertising industries were where I needed to be. While I was really happy with my shift in majors, however, I still had a deep love for journalism. I thought that I would have to pick between corporate communications and reporting – that is, until I heard of “brand journalism.”

According to Forbes, brand journalism is “marketers using the tools of digital publishing and social media to speak directly to consumers.” More easily put, it’s using storytelling and reporting to convey a brand’s image, without the messaging looking like an advertisement or PR stunt. For example, if my agency was trying to promote a new product, I could introduce that product through a story told by a consumer who was positively affected by the product. It doesn’t look like an ad – just a heartwarming story that gets all of the necessary information across to the audience.

The inception of brand journalism is shaping and changing the PR landscape, providing yet another new tool for companies to gain visibility. While new digital and social media devices are bombarding the industry and it’s tough to keep up, this is the best time to enter into the job force as a young professional – especially if you have a love for storytelling and journalism.

Once I had learned about the brand journalism industry, I became more excited for my future career than ever before. I can combine my love for storytelling with my creative, promotional side. And, I can still talk to my dad about my career, because even HE knows what brand journalism is. I guess older really is wiser (but as I like to tell him, “not for long!”).

4 Ways to Stay Calm During the Job Search

By: Mallory Laird, @LairdMallory

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 9.49.50 PM

While at times the much anticipated job and internship search may seem far off, in just the blink of an eye it will be your senior year spring semester and you’ll be thinking to yourself, where did the time go?  Along with this search comes many ups, and at times, even many more downs.  While this process can be stressful and discouraging, here are a few tips to make the search a little easier!

1.Apply, apply and then apply some more

We all know the expression “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Well, that expression is very relevant to finding a job after college. It’s essential to apply to as many jobs as possible. This way you will have plenty of job options and may find a job sooner than you think. That dream job you’ve always wanted may not be available right away. So it’s important to keep an open mind.

2.Apply and move on….

It’s the same feeling many of us have after sending a risky text. Will they text back? Was what I sent good enough? Why haven’t they texted back yet? After you hit the send button on a job application, move on. Don’t dwell on the fact that you haven’t heard back and it’s been a week. Businesses get hundreds of applications and it takes them time to go through all of them. Dwelling on this matter will only make the application process that much harder.

3.Take breaks

Just like studying for an exam, or doing a hard math problem. Applying for jobs takes time and can be stressful. Research finds that even a small break can increase mental sharpness by an average of 13%.  Even if you close your eyes for 10 minutes, or take a short walk, taking a break will keep your stress level down and your head clear.

4.Stay positive

One of the most important pieces of advice I have gotten is to stay positive! The job search can be stressful and discouraging. Many don’t find their dream job right out of college and that is okay. You must remember that you are just coming out of college, whether you have internship experience or not, it is still your first job. Keep an open and positive mind and remember, everything happens for a reason.

Although these tips may not directly help you score the perfect job or internship, they will make the process a little bit easier.


Key Components to a Well-Written Cover Letter

By: Emily Barber, @emilybarbershop

Ohio University ImPRessions Cover Letter

The season has begun. And no, I’m not talking about Christmas. Internships are on the minds of students around this time of year – finding, applying, interviewing and all of the panicking that goes along with the process. If you’re sending in an application, chances are that you’ll have to write a cover letter to precede your resume. For many people, this will serve as your first impression with a company. Use these guidelines to help your cover letter avoid the recycling bin and instead land you the perfect internship:


Address it to the right person

Nothing will ruin an application like calling someone by the wrong name. Find the name of the hiring manager, recruiter or other employee that will be looking at your cover letter. If you can’t do this, just make sure to avoid the overused “To Whom This May Concern,” which sounds extremely impersonal, not to mention lazy.


Don’t repeat your resume

Your cover letter shouldn’t be a copy of everything that’s on your resume. This is a waste of time for both you and the employer. Instead, highlight some unique experiences you’ve had, or go into detail on another time when you learned valuable skills.


Explain why you’re different

There might be many people applying for the same position as you. What sets you apart from them? Do you come from a different background? (Hint: this is a great time to mention why Scripps kids make great employees!)


Show your knowledge of the company

Mention something in your cover letter that the company has recently done that either interested you or pertains to the position you’re applying for. If they have core values or a mission statement, explain why you relate to these messages and how you will fulfill them if you’re hired.


Give it a personal touch

You’re not a robot – so don’t write like one! Be respectful and professional, but don’t be afraid to show your personality in your cover letter. Many companies look for employees that are personable, and if you can convey this trait in your cover letter, you’re that much closer to a second interview.


Cover letters can be daunting, but a well-written one makes all the difference. Have any other tips? Let us know in the comments below!

ImPRessions Wins Prestigious National Award

By: Marisa Fiore, @marisafiore1


The Ohio University, Hugh M. Culbertson Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (Scripps PRSSA)’s on-campus student-run public relations firm, ImPRessions, won the PRSSA Dr. F.H. Teahan award for 2015 Chapter Firm of the Year at the 2015 PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

This is the most prestigious award a nationally affiliated student-run firm can win. Criteria for the award included performances and results achieved for clients, and the management and operation of the firm in providing strong business and professional experience for its staff.

Though there are more than 100 student-run firms around the country operated by PRSSA Chapters, only those among the upper echelons are PRSSA Nationally Affiliated. ImPRessions is part of this elite group of 29 firms who represent the most accomplished and successful student-run firms operated by PRSSA Chapters. Firms with this designation have successfully gone through an application process to ensure the firm is soundly based in three areas: a solid PRSSA/PRSA connection, a high level of professionalism and an effective structure.

The 2014-2015 ImPRessions Administration at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Awards Banquet where they were each honored with separate awards. From left to right Kerry Tuttle (Senior Assistant Director), Melaina Lewis (Executive Director), Sarah Rachul (2014/15 Junior Assistant Director, 2015/16 Executive Director).

The 2014-2015 ImPRessions Administration at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Awards Banquet where they were each honored with separate awards. From left to right Kerry Tuttle (Senior Assistant Director), Melaina Lewis (Executive Director), Sarah Rachul (2014/15 Junior Assistant Director, 2015/16 Executive Director).

“Last year’s Administration strived to improve and make a lasting impact for ImPRessions’ members,” said 2014—2015 ImPRessions Director, Melaina Lewis. “We focused our energies in providing professional development workshops, opportunities for leadership and firm-wide events. We had an outstanding support system in the Board of Directors, and the supervisors, executives and associates’ work ethic and commitment was undeniable. This couldn’t have been done without the members. I’m elated and proud of this firm.”

Sponsored by Champions for PRSSA, the Dr. F.H. Teahan Chapter Awards Program recognizes the outstanding achievements of PRSSA Chapters in 12 categories each year. Hundreds of Chapters apply for the Teahan Awards in hopes to be nationally recognized at the National Conference in the fall.

“I learned so much from being a part of the 2014-2015 ImPRessions Administration and knew that we were leading an amazing group of students and budding PR professionals,” said 2015-2016 ImPRessions Director, Sarah Rachul. “This win just confirms all those thoughts. It also serves as an incentive to work even harder this year now that the bar has been set so high. I can’t wait to see how much all our incredible members accomplish in 2016. I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Executive Director of this year’s 2015 Firm of the Year.”

Scripps PRSSA was also named a 2015 Star Chapter. The Star Chapter Award, for which all Chapters are eligible annually, encourages Chapter leadership to provide programming and relationship building opportunities for students and rewards them for achieving these goals. Scripps PRSSA is one of 43 chapters to earn this achievement. This is the second year in a row Scripps PRSSA has been recognized as a Star Chapter.

The last time ImPRessions won Chapter Firm of the Year was 2007 and the last time Scripps PRSSA won a Teahan award was 2012. ImPRessions was awarded $400 and a plaque for its achievements. The plaque will be displayed in Schoonover Center to honor ImPRessions.

For any media inquires about the award, please contact Marisa Fiore at 

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.


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