Category: Guest post

Global PR Tips for Students

This was originally posted to the Sparkpr blog.

During my PR studies in the UK, I was fortunate enough to take part in multiple global PR projects, as part of Globcom where collaboration was the real key to success. Despite being young and full on enthusiasm our efforts often fell flat, mainly due to our disconnected approach to global communications. It’s with this in mind I wanted to present some compelling approaches to global collaboration for PR.

No matter what your geographic location or time zone, PR activities are centred on communication with your team and client. Thankfully, working in a global technology agency with some of the most forward thinking and exciting technology start-ups, it’s second nature to have the right tools for smooth collaboration.

If you are in PR, working remotely or not, you need to know the best tools implemented to stay connected and on point.

From pitching new biz to making a big global announcement, and even just staying in touch with your colleagues-in-crime the below recommendations should give you a head start over your peers in the world of global PR.

Pitching New Biz

The best pitches will be innovative, but digestible enough for the client to easily understand. Present your team as experts in the field with a sleek and compelling deck.

Prezi is a cloud-based slide presentation platform that is arguably more visually engaging than Power Point. Each presentation can be easily shared via a URL and can be accessed anywhere.

Top Tip: Prezi is perfect if you have a captivating, story-like narrative to your pitch. Take advantage of the cool slide transitions to illustrate your PR journey.

On the day of the pitch, it’s always best to have someone present in person, but sometimes budgets or timeframes can’t accommodate this. In these instances, have your team use a video conferencing platform like Vidyo (a cloud-based technology). Seeing your potential client’s faces is second best than actually being there, but way better than staring at a computer screen.

Top Tip: Make sure you test the Internet connection ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than having your carefully planned pitch turn to into baffling noises because of a lousy connection.

Developing Materials

You’ve won the client—congrats! Now it’s time to deliver.

Getting ahead of a big announcement is crucial, and that means developing an arsenal of press materials. Make sure your team compiles everything seamlessly—from press releases to FAQs, executive bios to messaging documents, and even company vision statements. It’s not an easy task to undertake alone, that’s why communicating and collaborating efficiently with your team will make these assets more dynamic in the end.

Google Drive eliminates the cumbersome editing process with multiple versions of a document. Keep all your documents updated in real-time, map out timelines and strategies, and keep track of who is working on what.

Top Tip: Have you ever used the chat function? In the top right corner, use the “Comments” button to see who has made updates, inserted comments and leave notifications.

Aggregate all your assets in a Google Drive folder. You can set each document to be private or public, and editable only by users whom you select.

Top Tip: Make sure you backup your Google docs regularly in case a team member accidentally erases all your hard work.

Box is another brilliant cloud-based management tool that makes collaboration super easy if you have a large team working on an account. You can synch it to your computer so that updates are made in real time without having to upload and download version after version.

Collaboration on the Go

PR can have you working out of the office almost as much as you’re sitting in front of a computer. It’s very important to utilize the most efficient tools for collaboration on the go. Moxtra, for example, allows for great real-time collaboration on documents by organizing your work into handy binders. It’s a newcomer to the space and has a great app-interface that integrates between desktop, iPad and iPhone editions.

Top Tip: Not hands free whilst on-the-go? Leave a voice annotation with Moxtra on any document to give feedback to your team.

Whatsapp is another easy-to-use messaging app that is great for global collaboration. It allows you to message within the app and avoid pesky international charges. While it’s easy to use and reliable, it’s much more efficient for quick communication with your team.

Top Tip: Create individual chats for each project so you can manage the workflow in an organised fashion.

Making an Announcement

Imagine your announcement has shifted and you only have an hour before the embargo lifts to fully brief your target media! What do you do?

MailChimp has the answer. This easy to use platform tracks email newsletters and can even utilize your existing Google doc spreadsheets. By creating an email with Mail tags, you can make sure your approach is still personal without spending hours working on each individual email. Furthermore, your whole global team can login to double check and edit these newsletters, and we all know in PR its best to double-check and even triple check!

Top Tip: Make sure you sync up with your global team members ahead of an announcement going live to ensure the time of the news release works for all markets and media targets that have been pre-pitched.

Any PR professional knows that the media landscape is changing, but at the same time so is the technology available for our industry. These tools allow you to show potential employers and current teams that you know how to execute and manage on a global level.

Now, go forth and collaborate!

Joe Groves joined Spark as an intern in 2011 and has worked with a range of clients in consumer technology, ecommerce, B2B sectors as well as leading apps. Joe graduated from the University of Gloucestershire where he studied public relations and began his love affair with all things tech. You can find Joe tweeting at @joegroves.

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Top 5 Professional Networking tips for Students

Guest post by Troy Adams

A solid network of professional individuals can help you find jobs before they’re advertised to the general public. During your time at college, you can give yourself a head start on your job search if you learn how to network with the right people. From creating a pitch to seeking student jobs, you should begin your networking endeavors now.

1. Create Your Pitch

Before you can network successfully, you need to create a pitch that helps your contacts quickly learn more about you. Your pitch should include your educational background, accomplishments, skills and professional goals. Your speech should only last for about 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t let your pitch sound like a dry reading of your resume; put a little flavor into it to make it more memorable. You should practice giving this speech so that you’ll feel confident and ready to use it at any moment.

2. Attending College Networking Events

Your college doesn’t host networking events just to fill empty dates on the campus calendar. Use these opportunities wisely to get yourself known in your desired professional field. Before attending, prepare yourself by performing some research on each of the attendees. During your research, think of some questions that you can ask these representatives. Make sure your questions show that you know about the attendee’s industry and are genuinely interested in learning more.

Don’t forget to perfect your pitch before attending a networking event. You should also bring   along business cards with your contact information. If you establish a good rapport with an attendee, consider sending them an email later to continue your conversation. You may end up forming a lasting professional relationship that helps you in your future career.

3. Work with Your Existing Network

You may think that you don’t have any useful contacts in your personal network. However, even friends, neighbors and family members can help you reach out to businesses. Let these individuals know more about the type of opportunities that you are seeking. These contacts will probably not be able to hire you right after college, but they may remember to pass your name around their own professional network.

4. Learn How to Network Online

Social media continues to expand its reach into daily life and can even help people find jobs.   Learning how to use social media responsibly while attending school can greatly increase your networking opportunities. Keep your social media profiles updated with relevant information about your education and your career goals. Each time you attend a networking event on campus, look online for contact information for each attendee. If you choose to share your profiles, make sure to refrain from posting photos of your crazy weekend parties.

5. Look for Student Jobs

Getting more experience in your desired professional field will help you gain even more contacts in your growing network. Look for relevant student jobs that will also help you build your resume. Although these jobs won’t pay you very much, you’ll discover a learning experience that is impossible to replicate in the classroom. Volunteering is another way to gain relevant experience while juggling the demands of your education. Through volunteering, you can sample a number of different fields and jobs without devoting too much time to the endeavor. You’ll also accumulate more contacts for your future employment search and boost your resume.

Networking plays a critical role in securing a job, especially for students who enter the job market with little job experience. Through solid networking efforts during your time at college, you’ll have plenty of contacts to help you find the right job after you graduate.

Author Byline: Troy Adams is a recent University of Alberta graduate that owes his current  success to social networking.

Advice For Soon To Be Graduates

Guest post by Elizabeth Grace

As a 5th year communication and public relations major, I have learned a lot from PRSSA and PRSA mentors. I have also seen many friends go through the graduation process of finishing school and finding a job. Lately, I have been hearing college graduates blame the economy on why they’re not working yet and when asked about what they did in school and what they’re doing now, I was surprised by their answers. A majority of them had maybe one job in their field, if any, and have only applied to a couple of places in their current city. Today, my professor asked us if anyone planned what car they want to buy after graduation and only one student said yes. It shocked me realizing that a lot of students are not planning for after graduation. I know my fellow dedicated PRSSA members are all amazing about their careers but what about everyone else? Do they think college lasts forever? News flash: Your future is coming whether you want it to or not. Here are a few basic things that I think every college student should be doing before and after graduation to help them get started:

Gain Experience.

Gaining experience while in college is always stressed at PRSSA Conferences and meetings. It is VERY
important. Join various organizations and societies. Have a new internship every semester. Work on projects for teachers or do freelance work. Do anything you possibly can to learn outside of the classroom and the reward will pay off. Future employers want to know what you spent your time on while in college. If all you have to show for your college experience is your GPA, retail experience and a beer gut they may not be too thrilled.

Explore The World.

While you have the chance in school, take every opportunity to travel that comes your way. Whether it is an internship, working for your church or all the many conferences out there, take it! I have traveled to so many cities and it has taught me a lot. I know exactly where I can and cannot live after graduation. I’ve met wonderful people along the way and they are so inspirational and amazing teachers. I would not be the person I am today if I stayed cooped up in little ol’  Ohio.

Pay Bills and Save Money.

My first two years in college I splurged a little too much on credit cards and I am finally done paying them off.  Before you graduate, paying off all your bills is a must. Most of us soon to be graduates will have loan money to pay off the second we get our diploma, no point in adding credit cards to our list of expenses. Once you’re all caught up, figure out your budget for what you’ll need after graduation and start saving! It’s a great idea to have 3-6 months’ worth of  expenses in your savings account. It is always best to be prepared.

Research. Research. Research.

Since you’re an amazingly outgoing student and have traveled around your favorite cities, pick your top five employers and research everything you can about them. Know their type of environment, what they look for in interns and entry-level applicants and all about the business they conduct. If you live close, ask someone in the company if you can shadow them for a day. You’ll learn a ton about them and it’s your sneaky way of introducing yourself. When your email and resume come into their office they’ll remember you! Figure out what could make you stand apart from other students    and go for it.

Get Involved.

Getting involved is very important before and after graduation. Find an organization you love and stick with it. PRSSA has been extremely helpful in my career and I cannot wait until I join a PRSA Chapter. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a couple different societies you love. Meeting new people before and after graduation can greatly enhance your career. They’ll help you find your first job and help you excel up that work ladder.

Get EXCITED!

Yes, it can be depressing you’re done with college. At the same time, get excited for your future! The sky is the   limit after graduation. Up until this point, the majority of our life has been decided for us. Now we can move anywhere we want. Start fresh. Learn new cultures. There are all these amazing experiences just waiting for us. As of right now, I can’t picture myself settling down because I just want to continue traveling the globe. There is so much out there that we haven’t seen yet. Now is a chance we get to decide where we go from here. So, what are you going to do with your one and only life?

Here are some other pieces of advice from a few of my favorite people:

  • Kion Sanders: “Don’t stress, don’t give up and don’t settle for less.”
  • Lauren K. Gray: “Always go after what you want and don’t be afraid to take any chance you see! Go outside of your comfort zone and do what it takes to get your dream job! Never give up.”
  • Brian Price: “Set up informational interviews to find out first-hand what the organization is like and use what you learn to showcase your level of knowledge in cover letters and interviews.”
  • Rachel Sprung: “Network, network, network. Even if the people you know do not have a job position open at their company, they will most likely know someone who does!”
  • Ashley Funderburk: “Network as much as possible. Attend conferences and luncheons to meet future employers. Don’t limit yourself to specific locations because it will be much harder to find a job starting out.”

Make sure you follow all of those wonderful people on Twitter: Kion- @KionSanders, Lauren- @LaurenKGray, Brian Price- @BrianDPrice, Rachel- @Rsprung and Ashley Funderburk- @amfunderburk1,

Please leave more advice for soon to be graduates in the comments section! Let’s help each other reach our dreams.

Elizabeth Grace
Communication & PR Student, University of Cincinnati

5 Reasons You Should Seriously Consider Working Freelance

Guest Post by Ben Holbrook

1.       You Can Be Picky

Working in a traditional job role, often means you work with the same people day-in day-out.  This often makes people feel stagnant and bored. Working freelance allows you to pick and choose who you work with, meaning you can work with people that inspire you and help you develop. Freelancing allows you to work with a diverse set of people who will also appreciate working with a fresh face.

2.       Diversity

People working in steady jobs often get bored of doing the same things day in day out and often end up working on long, dull projects. Working as a freelancer means you get to be involved in lots of different projects in lots of different places. This keeps freelancers feeling fresh and excited about their work as they rarely work on something long enough to get sick of it.

 

3.       Work More. Earn More.

Anybody with a regular job knows how it feels when, no matter how hard you work, you still earn the same amount of money. This often discourages people and they stop pushing themselves. Working freelance means that the more you work, the more you earn. Surely this makes more sense!

 4.       You Decide When You Need  A Break

When you work for a company, they decide when you can and can’t take a holiday or a day off. It often means you end up paying more for travelling at “peak” travel times and staying in overcrowded locations. Working as a freelancer means you can decide when to take your holidays and days off. If you see a great deal, you can make the most of it. If your friend is getting married, you don’t have to worry about asking for time off.

It also means you can work at the times that suit you best. If you feel most creative at 2 o’clock in the morning why shouldn’t you be able to work then? Freelancing offers the greatest flexibility.

5.       Freelancing Is Easier Than It’s Ever Been

Years ago, freelancing was considered difficult because it was so hard to build networks and find work. It often meant hitting the road and trying drum up business, which was incredibly time consuming. Nowadays things are very different. The internet allows you to connect and work with people all over the world. If you can’t find work in your city, try the next city. If you can’t find work in your country, try the next country – all from the comfort of your home office!

There are so many websites and contracting agencies out there, all you have to do is set up your account and let them do the searching.  Not only has it become easier for freelancers to find work, but also for companies to find freelancers. Freelancing has never looked so attractive!

 Ben Holbrook is a freelance writer

The Public Relations Potential Of Reddit

Guest post by Andrej Hendelja

Social news sites are an excellent way for users to chime in and contribute on a particular story. Many social news sites feature rating and ranking system that allow items that interest the user base to filter up through the rankings. Digg was a forerunner of this model and helped pave the way for social news sites to bring the public information the mainstream media did not. In recent years, Digg has experienced a slow down and backslide in interest from the community. Reddit provides many of the same great benefits with a number of features. At present, Reddit averages approximately 35 million visitors per month.

Ask Me Anything (AMA)

A web user looking to build familiarity and their expertise should take a moment to start a thread in the Ask Me Anything (AMA) section of Reddit. Ask Me Anything provides a platform for a person to take their individual experience and expose it to a greater audience. It provides an excellent opportunity to help a person demonstrate their expertise and knowledge in a very meaningful way that could potentially build new business contacts.

Just how popular is the Ask Me Anything section of Reddit? Celebrity appearances from such people as Stephen Colbert, R.A. Salvatore, Bear Grylls, Louis C.K, Zach Braff, and many others have generated tens of thousands of replies in their respective discussions. A great opportunity exists for anyone with quality information to provide and a thick enough skin to deal with the Internet going public in that arena. The AMA section gives you the ability to reach out directly to build rapport and better relations with those people.

Making The Most Of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything

It is far too easy to incorrectly use a piece of technology if a person does not have a solid understanding of the impact. Woody Harrelson is one such example. A significant following of people posted an AMA request for Harrelson to chime in and interact on Reddit. He failed to show to answer any questions or interact at all. The result was a significant backlash against him for ignoring a vocal portion of his fan base that may have helped him reach different people. The mistake generated plenty of negative publicity around the incident due simply to Harrelson not responding to or understanding the ramifications thereof.

Moderation And The Community

The community at Reddit is self-policed in general. Quality information can be up voted while bad information can be down voted. Several different types of people and users come together to exchange information on Reddit, thus it is easy to find those passionate about some very obscure celebrities or topics. Junk content filters to the bottom of the pile efficiently as Redditors explore what is being offered.

The AMA section and community offer an interesting pairing of public relation building tools. On one hand, there are the positive interactions. On the other, you have trolls. It is not uncommon for disruptive people, known as trolls, to ask pointless questions or attempt to pick fights for the sake of causing chaos. Interacting with the public on Reddit guarantees a person’s path will eventually cross with trolls. All online communities have them.

Learning to ignore the trolls or counter their behavior with humor of your own are the only effective ways to handle them. Responding in anger or posting threats will just have them coming back for more entertainment. Be prepared to contain these negative interactions to keep the experience positive and potential damage to a minimum. “Don’t feed the trolls!”

  Andrej is a longtime Redditor and PR student doing marketing research for a Long Island elevator company.

If you start a PR consultancy, you need to know the following

Guest post by Paul Alfred

If you are looking into different companies and get fascinated by the public relations they have with investors, government, media parties, trade unions etc, you may look into making a career in the field of a PR consultancy. This field is a high paying job and area of expertise. It requires the capabilities of being creative, innovative and show skills in the field of new approach towards marketing tactics. These consultancies help define and maintain relationships with all the public related to an organization. Whether it is internal customers or external, the relationship building is quite important.

Working in the area of a PR consultancy is a good job, when you know you will get plenty of opportunities meeting people, celebrities; work with different companies, renowned and influential people. There is a huge personal satisfaction level when you know you have been able to satisfy your customers with the help of your PR services. So many steps have to be taken while bringing you with neck to neck of the competitor, quality providing PR consultancies.

  • Build your portfolio by trying to acquire worthy companies and fulfilling the requirement of building your reputation.

  • You have to acquire some experience so try to work with another PR consultancy to know what you can do.

  • The education matter a lot. It has to be related to the PR building and the skills required building PR through different strategies and skills.

  • Develop the skills required to do successful PR ship.

  • The most important thing to do while starting your career in the PR consultancy field is to know the job and the requirements of the field. This helps in identifying what to do and what to plan.

  • The clients you have are from the government, the trade sector, the investors and the media. One has to have the potential to acquire the cliental base with intriguing services.

  • Self-promotion is also one of the major aspects to consider. This can be done by banner ads on different websites, opening your own websites, word of mouth and attaching yourself with any good company you acquire as a client.

PR consultancy is a good field to work and to let the others know at what you are good. While the trend of acquiring consumers has changed from bulk audience to one on one relationship, PR consultancies are now blossoming and flourishing in this field.

Paul Alfred is a professional writer and has experience in writing articles on PR consultancy and online media domains.

3 fun activities for a public relations class

Guest post by Chloe Trogden

The spectrum of public relations goes far beyond just writing press releases. There are a variety of other aspects students must learn during their studies that are not only essential to the public relations business, but fun and interesting as well.

Whether you’re a public relations professor and you’re hoping to integrate new activities to the students in your classroom, or you’re a public relations student and you need to think of a good team project for an assignment, here are three activities you could try in a public relations classroom:

    1. Promote a fashion show

Contact a local clothing store and see if the owner would be interested in putting some of their clothing and products in a fashion show for the university or classroom. Ask the students to find out various information about the different items of clothing as well as pricing information, and then put together a media kit to give out to the attendants of the fashion show.

You could even go as far as contacting other students who would be interested in modelling for the show, (if the owner doesn’t already have someone in mind already), and then include biographical information about the models as well as photographs of each item of clothing in the media kit as well.

You could ask your university student organization if they would help organize the show by hosting it in a classroom or a lounge area in the school, or ask the business owner if they would be interested in having the fashion show in their store as well.

    1. Conduct a survey

Ask a group of students to write up their own survey on any topic of their choice, and then ask them to write up a series of questions to ask other students or even professors on campus.

Once the answers are complete, tell the students to put their results in a power point presentation with graphics, percentages, etc. and then do a presentation for the classroom once they are finished.

You could even ask students to record a podcast discussing the findings of the survey, or write a post about it on a blog as well.

    1. Promote a campus talent competition

Ask your students to venture out on the campus and see if any music or theatre students would be interested in participating in an upcoming talent competition. In order to promote the competition, the students will need to write up a media kit which includes all the biographical information of the competitors, and also write up a press release to submit to the university or college newspaper as well.

You could even go as far as asking the students to record the competition with a video camera, and then post the video files on a website or blog as well.

 

Bio:

Chloe Trogden specializes in research involving all forms of college grants. She has compiled thousands of resources including teaching grants and Minnesota college grants along with many others. She is currently attending UNC Chapel Hill and is entering her Junior year in the fall.

 

May 2010 #PRStudChat Graduate: Rachel Esterline

We’d like to start 2011 with an update from the Class of 2010. It has not yet been a year since the #PRStudChat Class of 2010 graduated, but these new public relations professionals are already demonstrating a passion for their career choice. Florida State University 2010 graduate Lauren Novo has started a new series on her blog to learn more about her peers transition from PR student to professional. With Lauren’s permission, we will be sharing the series on prstudchat.com. The first interview is with Rachel Esterline, an account executive and social media specialist at AGP & Associates in mid-Michigan.

What are you currently doing? Include your job title/responsibilities/location/etc.

I work at AGP & Associates, a marketing communications firm in mid-Michigan. I am an account executive and social media specialist. My responsibilities vary, but include: writing (news releases, Web copy, newsletter articles, direct mail, e-mail marketing and more), media relations, social media planning and implementation, trade show tactics, project coordination for clients and much more. I’ve also been able to write proposals, pitch new business and speak at conferences.

How closely-related is your job (title/location/responsibilities) to your college major and what you planned to be doing after graduation?

It’s funny how closely my job relates to all of the things I wanted to do. When deciding on a major, I bounced from marketing to journalism to business to advertising – and finally settled on PR. And, at my current job, all of these areas come into play. I actually prefer marketing communications over some aspects of PR (such as media relations). It’s not always what I expected to be doing though.

What tactics did you take before and/or after graduation to get to where you are today?

As simple as it sounds, the main tactic is to be proactive and ambitious. AGP had offered me an internship for the summer in 2009, but I ended up moving to Columbus to intern at Fahlgren Mortine. When I returned to CMU for my senior year, I contacted the CEO and took an internship there. In February, I asked if there was a chance I would be hired after graduation. I received the official job offer letter shortly afterward.

And, if it wasn’t for networking at a PRSA event, I probably would have never gotten an interview at AGP in the first place. One of the people I met at the event told the CEO about meeting me. There is some truth in “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

What tips would you give new graduates who will soon be facing the “real world”?

Continue reading the interview with Rachel at Lauren Novo’s PR Journey