By Leah Marxen
The Hidden World of PR was an invigorating and exciting session on five key pieces of advice that most of us are rarely taught in our studies. Brandi Boatner, a brand communications manager at IBM, previous PRSSA president and PRSSA Hall of Fame inductee, led this discussion on the multiple significant factors we’re missing as PR students today. Brandi went over these five major points.
1. Personal branding
Brandi first talked about personal branding. How our brand is not what me make but what others make of us. She emphasized the importance of beating the “imposter syndrome.” This is where we pretend to be someone else to fit what we believe others want us to be like. Brandi talked about how this was a huge problem within our generation and how we need to defeat it to create our own personal brand. She talked about how we must be completely honest with ourselves and be open about who we are so we can differentiate ourselves in the world. If we continue with this “imposter syndrome,” we all become the same and there will be nothing to cultivate our own brand. Brandi touched on how no one ever opened our eyes to this, and she wants that to change.
Brandi talked about failure and how we all must go through failure to succeed. She said that we must embrace failure, realize that it is inevitable, grow and learn from it. Brandi used examples like breakups to relate this idea of failure and how we must embrace it. Brandi said there is always a lesson to be learned after something ends and you have to meet people where they are. You can’t win every battle.
3. Business literacy
Business literacy is something huge that people in the public relations sphere often miss. As PR professionals, Brandi suggested we know what we are talking about when it comes to business. She encouraged everyone to get familiar with business terminology and learn how to communicate like a businessperson.
4. Building your skills
Brandi gave large amounts of resources for ways to build our skills as PR professionals. She touched on the importance of learning how to code, how to be digitally intelligent and how to be savvy in all different platforms. She provided us with a set of site links where we could get certified for multiple different skills related to the digital world, which is expanding more and more by the minute.
5. The art of negotiation
Lastly, Brandi discussed the art of negotiation. This last bit of advice got very truthful and touched on a lot of issues within America’s workforce today. Brandi talked about pay wages and how women and men are treated in the workforce. Brandi emphasized the importance of being confident and knowing what you want when you are job hunting in terms of pay. She emphasized the point to “get out of your feelings.” Brandi said to look at the negotiation as a business transaction and don’t let business relationships cloud your mind. She also encouraged everyone to do research on the organization they have the potential to work with and make sure the organization is giving you what you deserve.
This session was incredibly moving and helpful in many ways. Brandi’s use of humor and real stories helped keep us all engaged and interested in what she had to tell us. Learning about these key factors in our profession was very reassuring and made me feel more prepared for my future endeavors. It was a great experience and a great session.
By Sophia Iannelli
If you are in the field of public relations, you have probably heard some horror stories about working with “the talent.” Celebrities and influencers can seem difficult to work with and demanding at times, especially when you are the one at their beck and call.
Founder and President of The Celebrity Source, Rita Tateel, shared some tricks of the trade at the Celebrity Focused Public Relations session at the PRSSA International Conference. Tateel began the session by mentioning that we will all have to work with a celebrity or influencer at least once in our career. She then warned us that celebrities are some of the most insecure people on the planet.
“One way they can feel secure is by being demanding,” Tateel said.
The trick to deal with, or even lessen, the amount of demands is to become trustworthy in the eye of the celebrity. One example Tateel shared was “The Booger Principle,” which comes from the time she told a celebrity they had a little something to handle near their nose. No one else had mentioned it to the guest, so when Tateel did, she immediately gained their trust. The goal is to help them feel secure.
But how can you do any of this if the celebrity doesn’t come to the event? The first step is getting them to say “yes.” The following are some of Tateel’s key tips to get celebrities and influencers on the guest list:
Great! The celebrity is on the list and the event plan is complete. They don’t show. Now what?! As the session came to a close, Tateel stressed how important it is to have a backup plan. Crazy things happen, plans change and influencers dip out. If you have a secondary plan built into your primary plan, there’s no need to worry. Preparation is key.
Hopefully, now you feel more prepared to deal with “the talent” and tackle the ups and downs of celebrity public relations. Good luck!
By Vanessa Gresley
When starting an internship people are often focused on the outcomes, like profile pieces and resume builders, but with my internship, I left with something even more valuable: an idea of the work culture I want to maintain in my future.
I interned at Muse, a content marketing agency in Cleveland. I learned a lot about storytelling, creating a story with a client’s mission and tips on writing and creating. But another thing I learned was the importance of good work environment.
Here are a few aspects of a good work culture/environment I learned from Muse:
Weird right? How just saying hello can make a world of a difference where ever you go. Despite the simplicity of this point, I have worked in many places where you walk into work and people don’t say hello. They keep going about their day, as your about to start yours, and there is no acknowledgment. This sets the tone for the day and saying hello makes everyone feel a little more human and important. Walk-in, smile bright and say hello: that’s exactly what was done at Muse, every day. Every one acknowledged each other as the workday began and the team was getting ready to kick a$$.
It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of it all but that’s why taking time to do the simple things, like saying hello, can make your employees and coworkers feel even more valued.
Teamwork makes the dream work. I’m sure we’ve all heard that before but it’s true. Taking the time to ask and answer questions with the whole team involved gets everyone thinking which creates better outcomes for the client. When you’re stuck, you know the team is there to help and I’ve been in some environments where it doesn’t always feel that way. 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. Muse is successful and will continuously grow to be successful because of their dedication to continuous collaboration and communication.
I watched the team use project management systems diligently, update each other on changes and constantly stay in touch. The team worked together in “whiteboard sessions,” where they would take a topic or idea and write it out on the whiteboard. That way everyone can visualize what’s going on and give input about best practices. The team also held multiple weekly meetings to make sure the whole agency was on the same page and knew what everyone was working on.
I know what efficient teamwork looks like and it’s something I will always keep in mind.
Staying positive is something many say is “key” to a good life but it’s actually the key to a great workplace. Things go wrong all the time but it’s how you handle it that controls how you end up feeling about it. For me, it was the way the team handled miscommunication between clients that created a roadblock they didn’t see coming. The team didn’t get down about it they reconvened and collaboratively talked about ways to change the strategy to avoid the same issue. It’s never a failure with Muse, it’s about how they can improve and change the experience for the team and their clients so it’s beneficial for everyone.
Another part of staying positive is the positivity of the people around you. Working with people who bring positivity to the workplace and work to positively uplift each other is something I will look for in every workplace I go.
You always hope to get something out of an internship and I am forever grateful to have gotten great mentors, new skills and an earning for a positive, collaborative and inclusive work environment.
By: Samantha Ross
Everyone needs an internship to graduate. Some people struggle to find one they're passionate about and take the first one they find because it was the only thing they found. Unfortunately, finding an internship isn’t always easy, but don’t think that you always have to find one you're passionate about online.
Recently, I was looking for an internship in an athletic department at a university. I knew I wanted to gain experience in the sport PR world and, when I couldn’t find anything online, I started reaching out to athletic departments around Kent to see if they offered any internships. I finally heard back from Cleveland State University (CSU) and in just a few months, I began interning there.
Going into my internship, I made sure to stay open to trying new things. I knew that I had a strong interest in working for an athletic department, so this was going to be my time to learn as much as I could. One of the first things I learned about was PrestoSports, an online hub that allows athletic departments to update their website. I used this website throughout my entire internship and, by the end, was comfortable using it on my own. On this website, I updated rosters, schedules, student-athletes’ bios and headshots. This was great for me to learn because many athletic departments across the country use this website or something similar. I was also able to practice and expand my InDesign skills, which is something I didn't have much experience in before.
One thing that I’ve noticed about myself during the internship is that I don’t want to sit at a desk all the time. Most days I was working at a desk, but there were other days that I spent at an athletic event, and that is what got me really excited about work. I had the opportunity to work many different sporting events such as wrestling, volleyball, soccer and basketball. Even though I was there for work, it didn’t feel like it because I enjoyed it so much.
It is important to try to find an internship that you love because you don’t want to wake up every morning wishing you didn’t have to go. I don’t think there was ever a day that I didn’t want to go to my internship. If you are struggling to find an internship that interests you, start thinking about companies that you are interested in and reach out to them. Doing this will let people know that you are interested in interning for them and they will most likely remember your name just because you reached out. I think the most important thing I’ve learned from my internship at CSU was to always be willing to learn new things. Even when I didn’t know how to do something, I would still try it and if I had questions, I would ask. Take every opportunity that you are offered. Your supervisors want to see you succeed, not fail.
Although at first I didn’t want to do another internship because it was in Cleveland and unpaid, I’m so happy I had this opportunity because I was able to gain so much valuable information. In the end, this internship made me realize that I do really want to work in the athletic department at a university. I did so many things during my time at CSU that I didn’t even touch on, so if you’re interested in sports and want to talk, feel free to reach out!
Connect with Samantha Ross, VP of Fundraising via email.
By: Hannah Wagner
As a college student, it’s normal to be stressed, have ups and downs and concerns about where you will end up post graduation. You may start off freshman year thinking you know exactly what you want and how to achieve it, but then senior year rolls around and you aren’t sure if the original path you paved for yourself is still the right one. How do you overcome being unsure or uncomfortable in the point you’re at in life?
Personally, I’ve had many ups and downs throughout my college career and changed my path, hobbies and plans numerous times. My whole college experience has been filled discomfort. As graduation approaches in May, the pressure became stronger to nail down what I actually want to do with my life. After weeks of thinking and analyzing what is important to me and where my passion lies, I’ve been able to get a better understanding of what I want, and I want to share some advice and steps I took with other students to help them if they’re going through a similar situation.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable
When I started my college career, someone gave me the advice to “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” and that really stuck with me. You grow the most when you are out of your comfort zone, and just because things may not be going as you planned doesn’t mean you are as off track as you think. Learn to be okay with being uncomfortable, and take advantage of tackling the situation to grow as an individual
Write down your goals and values
One big thing I did when I was having what I’d like to call my “Quarter life crisis” is to write down my goals in life and things I valued. For example, I wrote down goals I’d like to accomplish by the time I was 25-30 and what values I wanted and, more importantly, didn’t want in a career/job opportunity. This really helped me narrow down what I cared about.
Find where your passion lies
In my opinion, everyone can learn how to do a job, but not everyone can grow a passion for it. No matter what it is you’re struggling with, you need to understand if you’re doing something just because it’s working or convenient for the moment, or if it’s something you’re passionate about. I’m not talking about quitting your part-time serving job that pays the bills because you don’t aspire to work in a restaurant. I mean if you’re actively participating in a student organization, full-time career opportunity or volunteering at a nonprofit because you think you have to but you dread going to it every time…stop! Focus on prioritizing what gets you excited, what you spend your free time learning about and what doesn’t feel mundane to you.
With that being said, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and finish out that internship you just can’t stand or lead a fundraising activity you may not have wanted to. Make sure to appreciate the experiences you have and learn something from them, while also growing and tailoring your next experience to be something you’ll enjoy more.
Network in areas you’re considering
Maybe you’re just completely lost and can’t figure out where to begin. The key to overcoming this is talking with others who are in areas that you enjoy! For example, if you’re undecided between going into sports or nonprofit PR, or staying local or moving out of state, talk to people who have been in your position before. Ask them how they tackled it and what challenges and rewards they faced along the way. This helps give you a better guide for expectations. Maybe you think Washington D.C. would be the best place to live, but a friend that just moved there hates the fast-paced life. This gives you an inside perspective on what to expect without having to make big decisions and realize it wasn’t what you thought when it may be too late. Use your network!
Side note: PRSSA Kent has a huge network of PR professionals that are around the country; utilize them to help you figure out your own life!
Don’t put others first
I’ve always struggled with feeling guilty about hurting others’ feelings, but as a young college student you really must prioritize yourself. Close relationships can play a huge role in your life and be a strong supporter, or opposer, of your life choices. For example, if you daydream about living in New York but your family doesn’t want you to move, don’t let that diminish your passion. If your significant other is staying local and you want to take your dream job in California, you should put yourself first. These decisions are hard and not as easy as it sounds, but you can’t let others make life choices for you - you must make them for yourself. I’m a firm believer in attempting to try something I feel strongly in and fail, than never trying at all. You can’t be afraid to fail; you are your own best friend and you know what’s best for yourself, so believe in your decisions and back them up with your goals and values.
Overall, getting through college and planning out your life is difficult. You will be confused, uncomfortable and stressed, but you will get there. Surround yourself with people that support you and you will make it, I promise!
If you’re going through an uncomfortable time, you can reach out to Hannah, Web and Social Media Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more advice or just to grab a cup of coffee and chat.