FALL 2011 | VOLUME 44, ISSUE 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM The Publication of the Public Relations Student Society of America
INSIDE THE MIND OF YOUR
DREAM EMPLOYER Agency professionals share advice for entry-level jobseekers BY KERI COOK Liberty University
COURTESY PHOTO | www.prsa.org/Directory
PRSSA members have free access to the PRSA Member Directory, a useful tool to connect with professionals around the country.
Making professional connections through the PRSA network By Sonja Popp-Stahly, APR PRSSA National Professional Adviser Looking for a mentor? Want to learn more about a particular industry? Wondering what the differences are between agency and in-house work settings? Interested in interning or working in a specific market? Need an objective review of your resume? PRSA members are here to help. While October is celebrated as PRSSA/PRSA Relationship Month, you will benefit more by reaching out to PRSA contacts all year round. Relationship building takes time. You know you can get lots of valuable advice and information from professionals, but how do you make that initial connection? Don’t be shy! Tap into your Professional Adviser Not sure who your Professional Adviser is? Check with your Faculty Adviser or PRSSA headquarters. In addition to counseling you directly, your Professional Adviser can help connect you with other PRSA members based on your needs and interests. contact your sponsor Chapter’s PRSSA liaison A PRSA Chapter sponsors every PRSSA Chapter. Many of these PRSA Chapters have assigned PRSSA liaisons who are responsible for helping students make connections with both the PRSA
Chapter itself and its individual members. Check the PRSA Chapter’s website for a list of committee chairs. Attend PRSA events PRSA Chapters have regular meetings and often offer discounted registration for students. Not only are these great professional development opportunities, but they also are a perfect venue for in-person networking. Arrive early enough before the program starts so you have time to introduce yourself and talk with professionals. Also check the PRSA Chapter’s calendar for general networking events and new professionals events. Use the PRSA directory PRSSA members have free access to PRSA’s member directory of more than 21,000 professionals nationwide on PRSA’s website. You can search for professionals in specific Chapters, cities, companies, industries or professional interest sections. Once you have identified professionals you would like to connect with, feel free to send them an email introducing yourself as a PRSSA member and ask if they would be willing to talk with you about whatever you are interested in learning. Find a Champion Members of Champions for PRSSA have a particular interest in PRSSA and supporting students. PRSSA members are encouraged to contact SEE NETWORK, PAGE 2
It will not take long for an aspiring professional to discover the industry’s competitive nature. Entry-level applicants are up against a growing number of contenders vying for that same coveted position. The task for young hopefuls is to differentiate themselves from this sea of qualified applicants. With these self-marketing tips from experts at some of the industry’s leading agencies, you’ll be better equipped to do so. Intern Smarter Rare is the applicant who has not completed a handful of solid internships. Novices seeking a competitive edge need to start interning early in the game and find the right places to do so. “Students without internships will have a hard time obtaining a position, especially at an agency,” Lori Kifer Johnson, APR, senior vice president at Edelman, said. Johnson suggested pursuing internships in a variety of sectors to gain an understanding of the role public relations plays in corporate, agency and nonprofit settings. Ken Luce, global chief operating officer at Hill and Knowlton, emphasized the importance of being able to show the results garnered through an internship experience. Interns should keep copies of their projects for portfolio material and be able to quantify achievements on their resumés. Network Harder Networking happens in two dimensions: in person and online. Gillian Edick, managing director of human resources for Burson-Marsteller’s United States offices, stressed the importance of developing face-to-face relationships.
‘PERSISTENCE PAID OFF’ If there is one trait that improves a jobseeker’s chance of success, it is old-fashioned perseverance. Burson-Marsteller associate and former PRSSA member Brittany Fish’s experience has taught her that, and the lessons she has learned can be boiled down to a few key principles. DON’T RELY ON JOB POSTINGS. Sniff out opportunities. Fish learned this valuable lesson while seeking an internship during college. To her disappointment, CNN had no internships listed on its website, but Fish went out on a limb and sent an email anyway. Sure enough, she received a phone call and went to New York that summer to intern with CNN. KEEP YOURSELF IN TOP PROFESSIONAL SHAPE. In the limbo between graduating and starting your first job, be intentional about professional development and strive to stay relevant. “Have a good sense of what’s going on in the world and be well-read,” Fish suggests. “Our clients expect us to know the trends, so stay apprised of current events.” BE WILLING TO DO WHAT IT TAKES. An eagerness to go above and beyond will set you apart from the beginning. Sometimes candidates must endure a several-months-long interview process or the reality of relocation. Maintain a positive attitude and focus on your long-term goals as you take these steps. BE RESILIENT IN THE FACE OF REJECTION. The first position for which Fish interviewed at BursonMarsteller was offered to another candidate. Instead of giving up, Fish kept in contact with her interviewer and sent congratulatory notes when the firm acquired impressive coverage for one of its clients. She did her homework, and she kept at it. When a position opened in the firm’s Houston office, Fish was offered an interview. The rest is history.
Perseverance and hard work will help you to distinguish yourself from your peers. Get yourself out there and be persistent. I can tell you that in my case, persistence paid off. - Brittany Fish
She recommended fostering strong connections with professors and classmates, who will soon become professional colleagues. “Networking is the way to learn what you want to do, hear about opportunities and get your foot in the door,” Edick said. “Ask questions and find mentors. If you are a public relations person, networking is a skill you will always need, so start developing it now.” The social media sphere is a robust new land of networking
OPEN FORUM 4
opportunity. “Social media is the best recruitment tool to connect with technology-savvy and forward-thinking candidates,” Alyssa Boule, vice president of recruitment at Edelman, said. “Because there are so many qualified applicants, just applying to a position won’t cut it. Get noticed. Connect with people at companies you’re targeting on LinkedIn and Twitter. Start a conversation,” said Boule. SEE EMPLOYER, PAGE 3
Learn about PRSA Foundation scholarships available to students.
One member’s studies abroad bring fresh ideas to her Chapter.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Champions for mentoring and advice. The Champions directory of members is posted on PRSSA’s website. The directory even notes which members belonged to PRSSA during their college years. Follow the Champions’ Facebook page for news and updates. Connect on social networks Comment on a professional’s post on Twitter or share an article you think he or she would find of interest and start a conversation. Once you have established a dialogue, connect on LinkedIn. Be careful with Facebook – many professionals do not connect with students there. Ask first. Building relationships with professionals should not be a daunting task. PRSA members are more than willing to help students. Once you make a connection with a professional, keep the conversation going via email, telephone, Skype, Twitter or inperson meetings. Be sure to thank them for their time and keep them apprised of your successes. Sonja Popp-Stahly, APR, is PRSSA’s National Professional Adviser. She also serves on the PRSA Health Academy executive committee and the PRSA Hoosier Chapter board of directors.
FORUM® STAFF 2011-2012
Editor in Chief Amy Bishop Design Editor Sarah Thacker Assistant Designer Jayne Flax Copy Editor Kristina Hunter Photography Editor Autumn Scaglione Web Editor Alisa Wiersema Advertising Manager Kelsey Smith FORUM® is published three times a year for PRSSA members. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Society or staff. The Editor in Chief reserves the right to refuse all copy. Article submissions, comments and suggestions may be made via email to the FORUM® Editor in Chief at firstname.lastname@example.org. FORUM® is produced by students at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
Fall 2011 | Volume 44, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
Recent PRSSA graduate overcomes obstacles with man’s best friend By Bethany Parry Missouri State University
While in high school, Tony Selvaggio lost his eyesight, but he found his career, and the unexpected path turned out to be the right one. This past May, Selvaggio, a PRSSA member from St. Louis, Mo., graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with degrees in communication studies and mass communication, with an emphasis in public relations and advertising. In spring 2005, Selvaggio lost his eyesight because of an autoimmune disease called sympathetic ophthalmia. This incident left some of Selvaggio’s original career paths just out of reach, he said. “Dream jobs like wanting to be an architect or an engineer just were not panning out,” Selvaggio said. “My counselor at the school told me something about public relations, so I looked into it, and decided that was what I was going to do.” In his three years at Southeast Missouri State studying public relations, Selvaggio and his faithful guide dog, Marvel, participated in many student activities, including
the Delta Chi fraternity, Student Activities Council, and the Southeast Missouri State’s Chapter of PRSSA. “I think it [PRSSA] helped me out professionally because the things that it taught me about résumé and cover letter writing were unmatched,” he said. All of Selvaggio’s hard work in PRSSA paid off after he was offered a communication internship with the U.S. Olympic Committee assigned by the U.S. Association for Blind Athletes last summer, he said. “I learned a lot first hand, and that was the most fun I think I had at school,” he said. Selvaggio served as the Chapter’s associate vice president of professional development for one year, and Marvel served as the Chapter’s mascot. He said the Chapter’s Faculty Adviser, Dr. Susan Gonders, immediately fell in love with Marvel during one of their first meetings. “In one of my very first classes I had with her, she was going over the syllabus and she said, ‘There is no excuse for coming to class and saying your dog ate your homework,’ and she turned to me and said, ‘Even you, Mr. Selvaggio’,” he said. Marvel not only became
COURTESY PHOTO | Herff Jones
Southeast Missouri State PRSSA Chapter member Tony Selvaggio and his guide dog, Marvel, celebrate graduation with caps and gowns.
PRSSA’s mascot, but the whole building’s mascot by the time Selvaggio graduated, he said. Currently, Selvaggio is training in discus for the Paralympic Games and looking for a job possibly in the non-profit arena. He is interested in a job where he would look forward to going to
work each day. “I would like to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Selvaggio. “I don’t want to just work to improve a company’s overall bottom line of more money and more money, but actually help someone with public relations.”
to call or not to call? How to stay in touch with contacts BY CIERRA WALLACE Central Michigan University Work performance, networking and building relationships are key elements in the public relations world. Internships are a great way to demonstrate all three. However, many students fail to maintain relationships with their former managers and coworkers once the internship is over. “I wish I had made more of an effort to keep in contact,” Central Michigan University PRSSA alumna Brooke Adams said. “It was my first internship and my first real experience in the public relations world. I did
not realize how important it would be to keep in touch.” Ideally, students should keep in contact with their internship coordinator as a mentor and professional reference. Maintaining the relationship after the internship is a way of creating a network outside of your peers and professors. Having professional contacts can allow opportunities students cannot normally get on their own. “I have gotten almost every professional opportunity I have had because I knew someone or knew someone who knew someone,” Adams said. “Most jobs are not posted for all to see, so it is always good to
know people in the loop who will help you out.” There are many ways to stay in contact with professionals without being overbearing and annoying. Sending a friendly email is a great way to keep in contact, especially for birthdays and holidays. LinkedIn and Twitter are also a good way of not only staying in touch, but staying aware of what the company, product or organization is doing. “Social media has been a great tool in keeping in touch with former interns of mine,” Heather Smith, account executive and public relations specialist at AGP & Associates, Inc. in Midland, Mich., said.
“LinkedIn is a great tool for networking, and it is very helpful as they move from college into their careers.” Internships are all about quality, not quantity. Interning is a way of networking and improving of work performance, whether you have completed 10 internships or three. “It is all about networking,” Smith said. “Keeping the ties you have made — especially if you had a positive internship experience and left a good impression — is very important in our profession. You never know when you can utilize those relationships to learn new things or advance your career.”
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Fall 2011 | Volume 44, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Be a Self Starter Generation Y has been diagnosed with the entitlement syndrome. Sadly, many experienced practitioners have come to expect their younger counterparts to demonstrate a lax work ethic coupled with a sense of superiority. Hiring managers are onto this trend and are watching for it in interviews. “If you are entry-level, your resume matters less to me than your attitude. I want to see a spark. A zest for life. Hunger. An interest in working hard,” Dushka Zapata, executive vice president at Ogilvy, said. “Now that I think of it, I’d like to see this in applicants at any level.” Rachel Wallins, partner and director of global human resources and talent management at Ketchum, likes to see entrylevel applicants display a team attitude, rather than an inflated ego. “It’s about knowing there’s always something we can learn from each other — and that includes everybody,” she said. Robert Mathias, president of Ogilvy Washington, looks for candidates who display a sense of purpose and a passion for the industry. Mathias said these traits are demonstrated through the way applicants present themselves at interviews. What now? Hopefuls preparing to enter the industry can begin by developing their own distinct brands and communicating those brands with clarity, enthusiasm and conviction. Claudia Patton, president of Edelman’s Southeast region, summed it up. “There isn’t a more exciting time to be in our profession than right now. What is your narrative and why did you choose the public relations path? Be sure you can articulate your purpose in an authentic way, because no amount of education can help you if you are unable to express your own unique value.”
Get to know your peers
THINGS YOU WILL WISH YOU WOULD’VE KNOWN IN COLLEGE
By Janelle Huelsman Account Executive, Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations
and to get an outsider’s perspective.
As I sat down to write this article, I came across a significant milestone in my new life as a young professional—my one-year anniversary at my first post-college job. A week after graduating from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2010, I moved to Columbus, Ohio, to begin my career at Fahlgren Mortine, an advertising, public relations and marketing firm. And what a year it has been. While my job has certainly kept me busy, there are a few things I wish I would have known a year ago — inside and outside the walls of work.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable “Stepping outside the box” is a phrase we often hear in creative environments, but that does not apply to just the right side of your brain. You also need to know how business models work and how analytics and data tie into your job. This will allow you to showcase your added value and prove to others you understand how to demonstrate value. This principle also ties into your willingness and flexibility to learn other business practices and to “wear more hats,” which can lead to more responsibility.
Networking does not end after you Get the job A few months into my job, I found myself suddenly jealous of a good friend who, while unemployed, took it upon herself to network with public relations professionals she admired. She did not bribe them with coffee in exchange for a job interview or even ask for freelance work; she was just doing it to learn as much as possible and to meet new people. Since then, I made it a goal of mine to meet a new professional I respect for lunch or coffee once or twice a month. Although I am not looking for a job, it has been a great way to see what others are doing
Create a life outside of work After spending my entire college career engaged in PRSSA and a host of other student activities, I was looking forward to a mental break when I started my job. I liked the idea of a daily routine limited to working, making dinner and relaxing in the evening. However, relaxing became boring soon after it started, and if I was not relaxing in the evenings, I was tempted to check email or to put in more hours at work. I reevaluated my need to be involved in organizations outside of work and to make friends. Joining PRSA and volunteering for nonprofits in which I am interested has been
a great way to meet new people with similar interests and to explore my new city. Life in the real world is not doomsday Leaving the comforts of college and becoming a functioning member of the “real world” is intimidating. There are a lot of responsibilities I did not necessarily enjoy — including creating and following a budget, paying back student loans and learning how my health insurance works. However, being a young professional is more enjoyable than most make it out to be. Many cities have social clubs and activities specifically for our age group and, as a young professional, you can bring fresh ideas to the table at work, follow your other passions other than public relations by volunteering in your community and ensure you budget enough money to allow yourself to have fun. Janelle Huelsman is an account executive at Fahlgren Mortine, where she provides media relations, social media outreach and event management for clients. She is an active member of Central Ohio Public Relations Society of America, a member of the Chapter’s PRSSA Liaison committee and a professional advisory to the PRSSA Chapter at Ohio University. Janelle holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University and is a former member of the PRSSA National Committee.
WANT MORE ADVICE? VISIT US ONLINE @ BLOG.PRSSA.COM If you can’t wait until the next issue of FORUM® for public relations tips and industry news, check out the PRSSA Blog. It is updated regularly with posts from professionals and other Chapter members. Some of the recent posts have included: A Day in the Life of a Brand Marketing Professional Porter Novelli assistant account executive Tessa Kurman shares her experience working for a global public relations firm and reveals the common daily tasks of a brand marketing professional including: • Monitoring • Writing • Pitching • Research • Planning and strategy sessions • Event planning
The Art of Disney Storytelling: Q&A with Conference Keynote Speaker Craig Dezern Dezern, Vice President of Global Public Relations for Disney Destinations, shares his experiences using social media for Disney. Check out this post for professional advice from this PRSSA 2011 National Conference keynote on story telling, using social media and setting goals for a public relations strategy.
Business Casual vs. Business Confused [Infographic]
Collaborating with other Chapters By kate ryan University of Toledo National and Regional Conferences are not just for networking with professionals. They are for networking with other public relations students, too. Make use of those business cards and actually hand them out. Make connections at events and follow up. There is no way of knowing who else could share your ideas or who could open some doors during the journey of a job search. Share and Discover Chapter Stories Draw from the experiences of what other students are learning and doing in their Chapters. Use this as a great conversation starter, as well. Sure, everyone likes to talk about what school they are from and what they ultimately would love to do with public relations, but the process of discussing ideas and sharing stories could prove to be far more beneficial. take advantage of OTHERS’ Experiences There are ways to avoid doing something that has been proven not to work just by reaching out to other students and hearing their experiences. Ask questions and discuss ideas to find out how to go about something that could be great for your Chapter. Bounce ideas off each other. CREATE and MAINTAIN Relationships This is where the concept of exchanging business cards comes into play. These people are your peers as students, and they will soon become your peers as professionals. This could be an immeasurable benefit when it comes to searching for a job or implementing new business opportunities down the road. Keeping good, professional relationships can increase your chance for sharing knowledge and seizing even more networking opportunities. Stay in touch with people through email, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Good things will come your way. In addition to in-person networking, be sure to use the PRSSA discussion platforms as a tool to stay connected as well. Join Facebook groups, LinkedIn discussions and Twitter chats. Participate, participate and participate some more! Chances are there are other Chapters and students who have the same questions, concerns and ideas.
Fall 2011 | Volume 44, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
Where are they now? Membership develops into career for former PRSSA member BY AARON SMULLIN Missouri Western State University Jennifer Ecclestone, assistant manager of executive and social media communications, product and technology communications at General Motors, was a 2008 graduate and PRSSA member at Michigan State University. Ecclestone said she believes PRSSA membership is vital for aspiring public relations professionals and stresses the value of membership for those looking for a career in public relations. “The connections, national opportunities and realworld experience that comes with membership makes it worthwhile,” Ecclestone said. Ecclestone’s first experience with GM came from PRSSA’s 2006 National Assembly in San Francisco, where she had the opportunity to participate in the Day-of Competition sponsored by Chevy. Ecclestone stayed in touch with the contacts she met there — Travis Parman, APR, employed by GM at the time, and contacts at GM’s agency of record, Weber Shandwick. Through her networking at Assembly, she received the opportunity to participate in an on-campus Chevy Aveo grassroots campaign, and from there she applied for a summer internship. GM accepted Ecclestone as an intern in the summer of 2007 and offered her a full-time position at the end of the internship. Ecclestone said she enjoys her position at GM and that no day is the same in public relations. The day she was interviewed she had already done three conference calls, organized for a media trip next month, provided content for a corporate blog post, planned for a social media tech conference in November and edited a media release. Ecclestone has recently joined the Detroit PRSA Chapter. She was a SEE NOW, PAGE 5
Receiving an award from the Betsy Plank/ PRSSA Scholarship Program, Scott Wofford of the University of Tennessee - Knoxville Chapter meets Mickey G. Nall, APR, PRSA Fellow, at the 2010 PRSSA National Conference. COURTESY PHOTO | PRSSA
PRSA provides ‘foundation’ for students Students receive awards, scholarships for research and educational outreach BY JEMALYN CHAVEZ PRSA Foundation College is officially in session: classes are in full swing, Facebook networks are expanding, and in the midst of a recovering recession, financial aid lines seem to be longer than ever before. Now more than ever, PRSSA students need to know the PRSA Foundation is here to help. Since it was founded in 1990, the Foundation has provided thousands of dollars to deserving students throughout the nation. More than $168,000 has been awarded to more than 69 students and 80 PRSSA Chapters since 2003 alone. However, only a limited number of students are aware of the philanthropic organization and its services. “It’s essential for PRSA and PRSSA members to become aware of what our organization has to offer,” President-elect of the PRSA Foundation Gail Rymer said. “Through the fundraising activities of the PRSA Foundation, deserving students can receive the needed support to finish their education and become contributing members of our
important profession.” The Foundation aims to serve students who will eventually become the future practitioners of the public relations profession. Striving to spearhead initiatives that impact the public good, the Foundation’s three objectives are: Research The Foundation funds research on a national and international level that impacts the industry. Recently, the Commission of Public Relations Education received $20,000 from the Foundation to conduct a study of public relations education programs around the world. Educational Outreach Advocacy for the profession is another goal of the Foundation, and it exercises this goal by educating the public, businesses, government and community leaders about the role of public relations. Scholarships When it comes to scholarships, the Foundation not only secures funds for PRSSA scholarships, such as the John D. Graham and Marcia Silverman Scholarship, but also
aids PRSA Chapters in establishing scholarships for PRSSA students in their local areas. “All three initiatives are designed to maximize contributions to the PRSA Foundation and help fund the scholarships and research that will help our future professionals complete their education to step into a career where they can help our industry support the public good,” Rymer said. PRSSA Chapters that want to get involved and take action can do so in a variety of ways. First, all graduating seniors can make a $30 gift donation to the Foundation when transitioning to PRSA. Second, PRSSA Chapters can and should encourage local PRSA Chapters to consider a local scholarship fund. Finally, students can help by spreading the word. The PRSA Foundation aspires to continually create opportunity, provide financial aid and advocate for the public relations profession as a whole — it is up to future professionals across PRSSA nationwide and globally to create a strong, sustainable Foundation for generations to come.
SCHOLARSHIPS AND AWARDS Altschul Champions for PRSSA Outstanding Internship Award Due Date Sept. 13 Award $300 Requirements » Application form » Letters of recommendation » 1,000- to 1,200-word essay Chester Burger Scholarship for Excellence Due Date Oct. 17 Award $1,000 Requirements » Enrolled in a graduate studies degree program » Application form » Essay » Letters of recommendation » One page resume Gary Yoshimura Scholarship DUE DATE Jan. 30 AWARD $2,400 REQUIREMENTS » Application form » Minimum 3.0 GPA » Letter of recommendation » 1,000-word essay » Official transcript
Fall 2011 | Volume 44, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
2011 NATIONAL CONFERENCE EXAMINING NEW STRATEGIES, ATTITUDES BY Cody Ned Romano University of Florida More than 1,000 public relations students from universities nationwide are expected to attend presentations and networking opportunities set against the magical backdrop of Orlando’s Sea World during PRSSA’s National Conference this fall. The annual event, hosted this year by the University of Florida Alpha Chapter, will educate young professionals about emerging concepts in public relations while providing an elite environment for networking, through which participants can establish lifelong professional relationships with each other and with industry leaders. This year’s Conference theme, “Perception is Reality,” will examine new strategies that public relations professionals can use to understand the feelings and attitudes that motivate their target audiences. Beginning on October 14, the five-day Conference will feature experts and executives from various industries, including entertainment, sports and nonprofit. Presenters will offer insights into the future role of social media, strategies for excelling in competitive fields, new ways of advocating for causes and the
entertainment industry’s secrets for following — and sometimes predicting — hot trends. Debut sessions such as creativity and story telling will speak to all attendees, as they bring to light the power of public relations’ most powerful strategies. The first of two Conference keynote speakers will seize the podium Saturday, October 15. Craig Dezern, vice president of global public relations for Disney Destinations, will provide first-hand insights into one of the world’s largest tourism centers. On Sunday, October 16, Rick Leventhal of Fox News, the second keynote, will explain the news media’s evolving place in public relations. Members will learn alongside seasoned professionals at the PRSA General Sessions, aas they get insiders’ points of view from professionals such as Joe Rohde, creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, and Chris Brogan, a New York Times bestselling author who teaches Fortune 100 companies how to use social software to build organizational value. All PRSSA Conference attendees are invited to attend PRSA General Sessions at no additional cost. In addition to the breakout sessions, you will have the opportunity to receive
instruction in the resumé and portfolio critique workshop. All attendees are encouraged to bring business cards to share with other PRSA and PRSSA attendees, as well as copies of their resume should potential internship and/or job interview opportunities arise. Speed networking and media training require students to pre-register, as space in limited. All attendees are invited to attend the Career Development Exhibition where you can chat, share your resumé and learn how to be an ideal job candidate from corporations and agencies across the nation. Hear more fresh ideas and build on your Chapter’s success in the Chapter Development sessions. This year, eight of the nation’s leading Chapters will share successful fundraising practices, recruitment tactics and ways to improve your Chapter’s relationships with local professionals. Some sessions highlight topics such as how to rebrand your Chapter, dominate National competitions and develop relationships with public relations agencies. Beside career enrichment opportunities, the Conference offers plenty of time for students to socialize, celebrate and explore Orlando’s nightlife. During their first night in the city, guests can
ONLINE ONLY WHAT PRSSA 2011 National Conference WHEN October 14-18 WHERE Renaissance Orlando Hotel at SeaWorld Registration The registration and hotel reservation deadlines are Sept. 12. Full Registration $295 for PRSSA members $300 for affiliate members $330 for non-members Single Day Registration $170 for PRSSA members $175 for affiliate members $180 for non-members Online: www.prssa.com/events/ conference By mail: 411 Lafayette Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10003 By fax: 212-460-5460 If you have questions about registration, please call 1-800350-0111. For other questions regarding the PRSSA National Conference, contact PRSSA Headquarters at (212) 460-1474.
indulge in Carnaval, a Brazilian masquerade sponsored by Walt Disney World. Additional events allow students to mingle before they venture off to explore worldclass amusement parks and attractions. With such possibilities abound, members should regard both their visit to the city — and to PRSSA’s National Conference — as a precursor of adventures and opportunities to come.
PRSSA INTERNSHIP CENTER Browse internship listings, post your resumé and find career resources at www.prssa.org/ internships.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 member of the Georgia PRSA Chapter while living in Georgia and served as the co-chair for the membership development committee and was a member of the social media committee. Ecclestone has the following advice for current PRSSA members: Get as active in whatever you can as soon as you can. Join committees, volunteer for fundraisers, become a part of your Chapter’s student-run firm – if it doesn’t have one, help to create it! Another bit of advice: It is extremely important to make professional connections. “I can’t tell you how important it is to create professional connections early on,” Ecclestone said. “Connections are everything in this business. The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be.”
TALES FROM CUBELAND
What classes didn’t teach me about my first job Summer internships are imperative because they give you a true taste of what to expect from a job after graduation. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to know what you are spending tens of thousands of dollars in tuition to become? I made good decisions to prepare myself for a career in public relations — three internships, broadcast and print media experience, national PRSSA involvement and solid grades. Despite my efforts, there were still a number of surprises to come after I received my first full-time job. Trial by Fire The first thing worth noting – I was not expecting to pitch media on day two of my job. When I interviewed for the internship position, the internship coordinator touted how interns are valued as integral members of account teams, carrying out many tasks that an account coordinator would normally handle. This was one of the foremost reasons why Taylor Global, Inc., seemed like the best fit for me – I
wanted to show my worth. My orientation period quickly came and went, and my first week coincided with a crazy activation period for both of my client accounts. Instead of having a cushy week of getting to know names and where the water cooler was, I was immediately thrown into the fire. Key Takeaways Ask questions. It does not hurt to solicit feedback or collaborate with colleagues to share best practices. Take that extra minute to clarify any confusion; this will save you time in the long run of having to redo your work. As a second point, learn to effectively manage your time. This includes finding a system that works for you, as well as keeping the lines of communication open with your supervisors. As work gets hectic, supervisors have a tendency to lose touch with other things on which you may be working. It is your responsibility to speak up if your plate is too full. If you allow the work to pile up, deadlines will
be missed or the quality of the work will suffer. Luck & Timing One of the more common paths to a full-time position in the industry is through an internship, which is especially true in the agency setting. My post-grad internship at Taylor was scheduled to run from June through mid-August, but things did not quite work out that way. No matter how well you perform during your internship, timing and luck play a crucial role in determining your future with the company. In my case, our office’s largest client account was bought out, leaving budgets and our staffing model in question. Luckily for me, new business came, and I was offered the job. Key Takeaways Work quickly to establish relationships with your colleagues. Find a mentor in the office — someone who knows the landscape and carries some weight with upper management. Having
the support of your colleagues can help buy more time before a decision is made. Also, do not stop networking. If the timing just is not right, it helps to have relationships with managers who may have something available. Sprint vs. Marathon This last surprise hit me about a year into working on the same program. Your job, if you are lucky, has a never-ending workflow. As a student, classes and teachers come and go, but that is not always the case in a working environment. Some projects will continue for years with no tangible end point. Key Takeaways You need to find a work/life balance. A year-long project does not need to be finished by this weekend, but it is important to not let off the gas. In other words, the different structure of work requires the mindset of a marathoner rather than a sprinter. A career is a long-term commitment that has its ebbs and flows. It might
RYAN MCSHANE Account executive Taylor Global Inc.
take awhile to figure out, but finding that comfortable cruising speed will help you maintain your production (and sanity). Sure, there are times that require a fullspeed effort, but it is important to reward yourself with a life outside of the workplace. Ryan McShane is an account executive at Taylor Global, Inc., and works from the agency’s Charlotte office. He served as FORUM Editor in Chief in 2007-08 and was a member of the Hanna E. Norton Chapter of PRSSA at Arkansas Tech University. In 2010, McShane was named Young Professional of the Year by Charlotte’s PRSA Chapter. His blog, ryanmcshane.com, is dedicated to public relations students and young professionals.
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FORUM OPINION FROM PARIS TO ILLINOIS
Chapters benefit from member’s experience abroad
Kaitie Ries, Illinois State University
This summer, I spent five weeks studying abroad in Paris, France. Studying abroad has always been something I wanted to do, but I never anticipated the kind of learning I would actually be doing. As cliché as it sounds, I truly learned so much about myself. Prior to departing for Europe, I considered myself an independent person. I thought going abroad would be a breeze. Fast forward to the first time I realized working with the same 17 students from the time I woke up to the time I fell asleep was stressful. I knew then I was in over my head, and I needed to make some mindset adjustments to succeed. The things I learned in Europe will be useful to me this year as I prepare for my vice presidency in our Chapter. I hope the tools I learned working as a team member will benefit you and your Chapter as well. Everyone’s voice needs to be heard. As a group of 17, we had to make decisions on a daily basis. It was hard at first because we had a very opinionated group, but as the weeks passed we learned to respect one another and listen to what each person had to say. This made the decision-making process smoother. Think about this when making a decision in your Chapter. When everyone feels like their ideas are appreciated, they are less likely to become angry, even if their idea was not the most suitable. Respect that people have different ideas than you do. This was our biggest problem in France, because even if we each listened to everyone’s ideas, pleasing everyone was still a struggle. Some people wanted French cuisine, others did not. Some people wanted to stop at shops along the
walk to the restaurant while others did not. However, when our small groups presented at the end of the course, we saw that when everyone had different ideas, the rest of us were able to learn something new. We realized if we had all thought alike, the trip would have been a lot different. Likewise, the members in your Chapter and executive board have great ideas that might be different than yours but are still valuable and need to be considered. Who knows – someone might come up with a great fundraiser that supports your Chapter heading to National Conference or think of a great speaker who will benefit everyone. Different is good. Remember everyone is working toward the same goal. We all went on the Paris trip because we wanted to expand our horizons and learn to become more independent. We wanted to share an experience that would lead us to have a different mindset than others. This holds true with both your Chapter members and executive board leaders. Everyone is working together because they enjoy PRSSA and want your Chapter to be successful. Remember that when things seem frustrating. Armed with everything I learned while abroad, I cannot wait to get back to Illinois State University and work with my executive board and Chapter. Remembering the experiences I had while abroad with help me to recognize how to deal with conflicts as they arise. Learning these tips and knowing everyone in our Chapter is passionate about PRSSA is inspiring and will help me be the best leader possible – I hope these tips help you and your Chapter as well.
Fall 2011 | Volume 44, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
ADVICE ON ADVISERS
Understanding what your Faculty Adviser really does This column was created to help members get the most from their Faculty Adviser. The position is a tough and often thankless job, but a key factor in your Chapter’s success. Most scholars agree that Faculty Advisers can have a huge impact on an organization. Evans, Evans & Sherman (2001) went so far as to say, “Faculty Advisers really can make or break a student organization.” But advisers do not operate in a vacuum. They operate in relationships with a host of others, including their administration leaders and public relations practitioners. That said, their most important relationship is with you, the Chapter members. As in any relationship, understanding where the other party is coming from is critical, so that’s where I’m going to start. One of the first things to understand is the environment in which your faculty adviser is operating. All tenure and tenure-track professors are evaluated for promotion, tenure and salary increases on three areas: research, teaching and service. At larger, research-oriented universities, the Faculty Adviser may be judged on the quantity and quality of their scholarship (aka, research). At many universities and colleges, teaching is the most valued area. In almost every situation, advising your PRSSA Chapter is considered “service,” which often gets short shrift unless your Adviser is on a professional or contract track. Understanding
his or her situation will go a long way toward helping you figure out how to make the job easier. Another part of your Faculty Adviser’s operating environment is the tremendous investment in time he or she makes to accomplish the task of educating the leaders of tomorrow. For every hour in the classroom, the typical instructor will spend three hours preparing materials. Most Faculty Advisers also serve on department or college/university committees, which means meetings in academe are typically interminably long. As mentioned above, they need time to develop scholarship. Then there is grading, which usually takes another several hours. Time rapidly becomes a very valuable commodity. My wife has commented on many occasions that she saw more of me when I was in the Navy! Again, understanding that will help you realize why your email, text or phone call does not always get answered immediately. Patience and being respectful of your Adviser’s time will go a long way to helping him or her meet your and your Chapter’s needs. Finally, everyone wants to feel appreciated in a relationship – you know that from your own experience. In my experience, teachers appreciate an occasional “thank you” or pat on the back. Hearing from students that you made a difference in their lives is almost as rewarding as a paycheck. It increases your Adviser’s motivation and sense
Bob “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA PRSSA National Faculty Adviser
of satisfaction, which is inevitably returned to the members ten-fold. Some of my most cherished “thank you” moments have been when some of my Chapter leaders have given me a small token of appreciation at the spring induction ceremony on behalf of the entire membership. These treasured mementoes help me identify fondly with each cohort of students under my tutelage over the years. Whenever I am feeling under the gun or my motivation starts to flag, I just have to glance at a few of my treasures and I’m back on the step again! I am not suggesting this is always appropriate. But I am suggesting that every Chapter find a way to say “thank you” to its Faculty Adviser. A simple “thank you” card will often suffice. You would be amazed at what such a simple gesture will do for you and your Chapter. Bob “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA, is PRSSA’s National Faculty Adviser and Faculty Adviser for the University of Oklahoma Chapter. Pritchard also serves on the PRSA Educational Affairs Committee and the MBA Initiative Task Force. He is a retired U.S. Navy Captain, and has more than 25 years of experience as a public affairs officer in the U.S. Navy.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The secret to sharpening skills Many factors can be attributed to the success of the most successful names in history. There are singers, athletes, artists and thousands of others, including great public relations professionals. But what makes them great? As professional soccer player David Beckham said, “My secret is practice.” To perfect a skill, one must first practice it – then improve it. It is a constant circle that gradually perfects the art of a skill. We cannot automatically
be great at something. We must build our way to the top one step at a time. Most of us dream of leading the industry and obtaining great jobs. For us, practice is a secret weapon and a fundamental training tool in the process of leadership and professional development. With practice, we can be great. To perfect our skills of professional practice, we must gain professional experience. The best way to practice our skills is through internships. Internships can
Adam aisner 2011-2012 PRSSA National President
teach us the fundamentals for public relations practice and can offer professional development. While practicing our current skills, we can also acquire and use new skills. It is the constant cycle of learning and perfecting that gradually builds our SEE SECRET, PAGE 7
Fall 2011 | Volume 44, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
CULPWRIT ON CAREERS
12 tips for a successful interview My receptionist Georgia Enty routinely calls me when I have a visitor arrive for an appointment. I usually tell her I will be right out to greet the guest, but one day she told me to take my time. When I arrived in the lobby, she and the guest were deeply engaged in an animated conversation I was reluctant to interrupt. When I brought the guest back to the lobby, he and Geor-
gia finished their conversation. Later that afternoon, Georgia told me he was the most impressive job applicant ever to visit the office. This unexpected third-party endorsement carried considerable weight as we determined if the candidate would be invited back for a follow-up interview. He eventually received an offer and landed a job at the agency. Moral to this story: Treat
not over-caffeinate before the 1 Do interview. It speeds up your conversation and often
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makes you come off as overly nervous. Arrive 10 minutes early. Better to sit in the lobby and wait than be late. Use the extra time to practice mental relaxation exercises and dry sweaty hands. Do a test run prior to the day of the appointment if you have not been there before. One applicant last year was nearly an hour late for an interview, so she only managed to meet one of the three people scheduled to interview her. She did not get the job. Dress for the occasion. Even if you have been told it is a business casual environment, dress a level above what is expected. Do your homework. Study the firm’s website so you become familiar with the business. I quickly dismissed an applicant after she said she always wanted to work for an ad agency, clearly missing the point she was interviewing with a public relations firm. Assume everyone you encounter from the moment you approach the door may have a vote in the hiring process. Georgia proved that point. Make solid eye contact. Smile with your eyes when you greet people.
everyone with respect during every aspect of the job search. Georgia notes that a majority of applicants politely introduce themselves, but sit quietly on the couch as they await their interviews. By the way, in her experience, male applicants generally are more talkative than women. Georgia is not necessarily looking for a prolonged dialogue, but those who share relevant small talk are show-
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RON Culp Professional Director of Graduate PR & Advertising, DePaul University
ing her respect that she notices and appreciates. Besides properly greeting people, perhaps these additional 12 tips for job interview etiquette will help you navigate the interview process from door to door.
Ensure a firm handshake. Practice with family and friends because you do not want to crush anyone’s hand. An overly firm handshake, however, is rare. Sit up straight. Good posture says you are paying attention and showing respect. Engage the interviewer in conversation; do not wait for them to ask all the questions. Be prepared with thoughtful questions when asked the proverbial final question: “So what questions do you have for us?” A memorable question will stand out and let them know you cared enough to study up on their business. jot down the names of all people you meet. I have often asked candidates whom they have already met, and I am amazed with how many cannot recall the names of people who had just interviewed them. When the interview is arranged, be sure to ask for a list of people you are going to meet and their titles. And be sure to do a Google search on each of them, which will help you engage in conversation. Send follow-up notes. It is okay to send via email, but hand-written notes get the most attention. Ron Culp is a Chicago-based independent public relations consultant who has held a variety of senior-level corporate and agency positions. He writes a career advice blog, www.culpwrit.com.
SETTING THE PACE
How to revitalize your Chapter This issue’s “Setting the Pace” column focuses on the recently revitalized Chapter at New York University in New York, NY. Though New York University received its charter years ago, it recently underwent a revitalization process. Chapter president Doreen Naor sought to regrow the Chapter with the mentorship of her friend and recent NYU graduate Natan Edelsburg. With a lot to do in a short time, Naor chose the executive board through an application process and invited PRSA members and former PRSSA National Presidents Cedric Bess and Jeremy Bridgman to be advisers. NYU PRSSA took several steps to grow its Chapter in recent months: • Created a fresh logo that represents the Chapter and adheres to PRSSA National’s Graphic Standards • Worked to increase awareness on campus by organizing a
kick-off event with other communication organizations • Built connections with both local PRSSA and PRSA Chapters • Promoted Chapter best practices by writing for FORUM As a vice president of communication of the NYU Chapter, after more than nine months of planning and foundation building, I feel confident in saying our new Chapter has succeeded in several ways. Throughout the stages of the Chapter’s growth, we have learned several lessons about successful leadership. Passionate Leaders with Great Content The first lesson we learned is that guest speakers who are passionate and inspiring, along with their engaging content, will surely bring a crowd. More than 50 NYU students attended the Chapter’s first meeting to hear Elias Buchwald, APR speak about his
experience as former president of the NYU Chapter from 1987-88. Bridgman, then an account supervisor at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, became one of our Professional Advisers and welcomed us to the organization, providing insight for new and prospective members on the industry. Hands-on Experience We engaged with communities on a larger scale by getting experience with local organizations. We took the opportunity to begin tackling our first project at a local German cultural institution. We have been tasked with rebranding and raising awareness of The Deutches Haus, a historical landmark. This experience not only provided great hands-on, practical experience for members, but also brought the group together to create a stronger foundation for the Chapter.
SHIRA PALKA New York University
Learn from Others At the PRSSA Leadership Rally this summer, our president learned valuable advice to make the member experience as beneficial as possible. One of the most valuable pieces of advice we received is that it is important for new Chapters to grow by taking one strong step at a time, without scrambling to tackle everything at once. So our third tip? There is always much to learn from PRSSA conferences and professional development, so get involved! We are thrilled to be a part of the PRSSA community and are eager to delve in more. We welcome and encourage everyone to follow us @NYUPRSSA, “like” our NYU PRSSA Facebook page, and visit our new blog at nyuprssa.tumblr.com.
expertise over a period of time. The key is to remember that learning is a constant process that continues throughout our career, and we need to embrace this process to become better at what we do. Having one or more internships can help you hone your fundamental public relations skills. Once you have mastered these, you can practice and master more challenging projects and assignments. While it is necessary to practice our professional skills, we must also practice and perfect our leadership skills. To work in public relations, we must be able to work effectively in teams, motivate others and exhibit profound leadership skills. With a little practice, this mission is easy. Practicing leadership helps develop us into well-rounded professionals and enhances our expertise. As students, we should become members of PRSSA to stay on top of industry trends, be team players in the office and take advantage of Chapter leadership opportunities that challenge our skills. Leadership is a challenge, and there will always be accomplishments and frustrations, but working through these experiences will prepare you to lead a team of professionals in the future. We need to practice leadership whenever we have the opportunity, so that later we may lead the industry. As we practice both leadership and professional skills, we make errors and accept that these mistakes are an essential element to the learning process. It is acceptable to make mistakes as long as we learn from the experience and improve for the better. Sometimes we learn what to do, and other times we learn what not to do. This constant process helps craft our skill and develop us into highly effective strategic communicators. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because there is always something to be gained. In the end, challenging yourself to learn from your missteps will make you a phenomenal leader. As we move through our academic and professional careers, we must remember that practice makes perfect. It is essential to constantly develop our skills and further our learning. The more we practice, the better we become. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and learn something new from everything you do. Practice, practice, practice and you will be a fantastic leading professional in years to come.
An Integrated Partnership A Shared Vision West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) online graduate program and PRSA share the same goal – to develop the best PR professionals in the world. That’s why WVU’s IMC program and PRSA have formed an educational partnership. WVU IMC graduates have the skills needed to lead their company’s communication strategy in today’s dynamic digital environment, and they’re ready for what the future holds. Learn how you can gain a cutting-edge, customizable graduate education from anywhere in the world at:
Look for WVU IMC white papers and program information in PRSA’s: • Strategist • Tactics • ComPRehension blog • JobCenter • E-newsletters • PRSSA’s FORUM And, look for us in Orlando at the PRSA 2011 International Conference Scan the QR code to learn more about our program:
The Public Relations Student Society of America's fall 2011 issue of FORUM.