FALL 2013 | VOLUME 46, ISSUE 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM The Publication of the Public Relations Student Society of America
Finding Your Fit in Public Relations by nIColE E. SpEArS Ohio University
hen you enter the field of public relations, it takes some time before you get a solid grasp on exactly what it is you’re jumping into. Many of the early days are filled with definitions and case studies until you’re able to define it for yourself. Then, not long after, you realize how fractional this personal definition is and how endless the possibilities are in the ever-changing world of media. One of the beauties of a degree in public relations is its versatility. Maybe you choose to go on to law school, public affairs or business. But if you choose to follow the public relations path, your career will likely fall into one of three categories: corporate, agency or nonprofit public relations. In what ways are these three categories similar, and in what ways are they different? For a basic overview of the common traits of each work environment, read below. Working in agency public relations means a lot of teamwork and a lot of time management. An agency provides out-ofhouse communication for companies, occasionally working in tandem with their internal team. “Agencies require you to react quickly and be on tap no matter what happens,” said Christine Spasoff, summer intern at FleishmanHillard. Spasoff, a senior at Indiana University and president of the Beth Wood Chapter of PRSSA, is now completing her second internship at an agency. She intends to pursue a career in agency after graduation.
“It’s fulfilling and exciting to see when something you’ve done, even if it’s small, has been a component of a project that has led to big changes,” Kate McFadden said. McFadden, a senior at Ohio University and a member of Scripps PRSSA, is currently a summer intern for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Doing public relations for a nonprofit can include everything from pro bono work to serving as a community manager at a state agency to conducting media relations. There are many opportunities to work for a “change,” – as such, many people get into nonprofit public relations because of a
Corporate public relations practitioners, or in-house professionals, work internally with a company. Although in-house practitioners occasionally seek agency public relations services for large or longterm projects, these practitioners work solely for their company. Anna Moegenburg, senior PRSSA member at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, is currently a project management intern for Kohler Company. Some of her major projects this summer have included developing a social media campaign, contributing to the company’s mobile site and application and evaluating progress.
SEE AGEnCy, PAGE 5
SEE nonproFIT, PAGE 5
SEE CorporATE, PAGE 5
“FounDATIon For InnoVATIon”
What to Expect at the PRSSA 2013 National Conference in Philadelphia by JESSICA hoWArD Communications Director Each autumn, public relations students from around the country and Argentina gather for five days of professional development, networking and fun for the PRSSA National Conference. This year, the PRSSA 2013 National Conference will be held from October 25–29, in the birthplace of our nation, the city of Philadelphia. The diverse presenter line-up and creative educational workshops, coupled with the historical and cultural background of the host city, will make this year’s National Conference, held at the Loews
Philadelphia Hotel, unforgettable. This year’s professional development sessions have been carefully designed to align with the interests of PRSSA members and will be led by some of the finest in the field and offer inside information
oPen foRum 4
over a broad spectrum of professional fields in public relations such as healthcare, sports, fashion, crisis management, branding and more. Saturday keynote speaker, Mary Henige, APR, of General
Video and social media change the way audiences and brands interact with one another.
Motors, will offer her immense knowledge in the world of digital and corporate communications. Attendees will also have the opportunity to step up to the
SEE ConFErEnCE, PAGE 5
Is the end near for unpaid internships? Learn more about what’s happening with the law and in the field.
FroM ThE prESIDEnT’S DESk
Launch Your Career Through PRSSA National brIAn prICE PRSSA 2013-2014 National President
The public relations field is competitive, so how can entrylevel professionals stand out? The work PRSSA members do for their Chapter allows experience-gaining opportunities including coordinating events, creating media materials, raising funds or practicing the art of listening. What many accomplish at the Chapter level is the foundation for a career in public relations. PRSSA National has resources and opportunities that can take members from that Chapter foundation to the fast-track, helping them become a hot commodity when employers are hiring new talent – a career waiting to be launched. Taking advantage of what is available allows for a cutting-edge experience that employers cannot see enough of on a résumé. Below are some opportunities for the 2013-14 year: Attend national Conference to learn from elite professionals about opportunities and expand your network of pros and peers that can be leveraged for employment. Participate in the bateman Case Study Competition, where teams of members organize and implement a complete public relations campaign, including execution. host a regional Conference, which could be the crown jewel of your event planning experience. Read the Career resource Manual to get résumé and cover letter tips, understand potential career options and find guidelines for creating a portfolio. Write for progressions and submit Chapter news to develop writing skills and increase your comfort level in creating news releases and blog posts on a deadline. PRSSA National harbors the resources to help any member graduate with not just job opportunities, but to have the skills to succeed and launch a thriving career in any sector of this diverse field.
Fall 2013 | Volume 46, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
International Internships Impart Valuable Global Lessons
by JESSICA Airey Vice President of Advocacy Anyone who has had the experience of walking into a room in his or her best suit and suddenly feeling terribly overdressed could tell you that cultural context matters. When a person leaves his or her home culture to plunge into an unfamiliar environment, cultural ‘rules’ often change. What defines the norm for one social group may be under the influence of entirely different factors in another. This philosophy applies whether your transfer takes you to the grocery store down the street or to an internship on the other side of the globe. This summer, I left my hometown in northern California for Barcelona, Spain to learn more about what public relations looks like in a foreign country. My internship at Duplex Marketing Agency, where I work primarily with a travel company called Knok, has taught me three important lessons about international public relations and interning abroad. While it may initially feel uncomfortable, diversity always brings out the best in a team.
The key to success in any work environment comes with a willingness to listen to other points of view and to allow a free flow of ideas and creativity. An international environment especially requires a healthy dose of flexibility, humility and patience. The group I work with in Barcelona is made up of individuals from all over the world. Sometimes their input initially sounds strange to me, but when we collaborate and combine our different perspectives, the results far exceed what we could have accomplished on our own. In addition to the usual communication struggles, many complex challenges face the international public relations practitioner. Huge barriers exist with differing time zones, geography, customs, media, business etiquette, cultural groups and, of course, languages. Even with an almost entirely multilingual team, some messages simply do not translate well. The cultural context alters the understood meaning of everything. If you want to intern or work in another country, start increasing your cultural IQ now. Follow their media, learn their language, pay attention to
courtesy photo | Jessica Airey
Jessica Airey (right), 2013-14 vice president of advocacy, poses with her supervisor, Laura Martinez Celada, during her internship at Knok in Barcelona, Spain.
global news and immerse yourself in other cultures whenever you can. Whoever coined the classic saying, “Think global, act local,” knew the importance of tailoring every strategy to the particular people it impacts. Despite feeling a little overwhelmed by the cultural differences
Mining Hidden PRSSA Gems by Ben Butler Vice President of Public Relations
growth as a professional and put you ahead of the competition.
You may have networked with PRSSA members from around the country at events such as National Conference or you may have applied for scholarships. But have you taken an extra few minutes to explore some of the hidden gems that your membership grants you? As a PRSSA member, there are a variety of digital and organizational resources that will enhance your
PRSSA Style Guide A powerful tool to accompany the AP Style Guide, this resource clarifies proper PRSSA capitalization, spelling and terminology. For example, in PRSSA, Chapter is always spelled with a capital letter — something you probably already knew — but did you know “president” in Chapter president is not capitalized? Disciplining yourself in these practices will not only enhance your credibility as a PRSSA member, but also will inform your efforts as a professional. Every organization requires its own style guide to ensure consistent branding, so it’s likely you will refer to style guides for future clients and employers. Familiarizing yourself with PRSSA’s guide now will help you become accustomed to working with style guides for the future.
FORUM® STAFF 2013-2014
Publications Editor in Chief Mallory Richardson Managing Editor Emily Herrington Photo Editor Christina Riviere Design Editor Carli Thibodeaux Copy Editor Elise Bernard 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 Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La.
PRSSA Brand Identity Guidelines These instructions follow the same concept as the Style Guide — enhancing ethos and practicing consistency. Rather than wordrelated concerns, these guidelines detail standards for PRSSA designs such as logos and other elements. The guide starts with an explanation about why branding is important and continues with the preferred orientations and colors of the PRSSA logo. It concludes with templates for letters, business cards and press releases. Champions for PRSSA The Champions for PRSSA provide a variety of services for the Society, many of which are done behind the scenes. In addition to encouraging PRSSA graduates to become PRSA Associate
Members, the Champions serve as speakers for various National- and Chapter-level student events and support scholarships, including Teahan Awards and the Altschul Outstanding Internship Award. As many Champions are actively involved in the Society, chances are you’ve already met a few – for example, if you attended the PRSSA 2013 Leadership Rally, then you likely met one of the co-chairs for the Champions for PRSSA, Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA. International Public Relations There is an increased demand for public relations practices in other parts of the world. PRSSA created a detailed list of resources designed to assist students in understanding other cultures, global issues and maintaining ethics in cross-cultural situations. Covered locations include Africa, Asia, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. PRSA Case Studies Better prepare your next public relations plan by reading awardwinning case studies provided by PRSA. These studies are from past Silver Anvil award winners and cover a wide variety of categories in different industries with successful outcomes. PRSA Webinars As another exclusive benefit, PRSA offers several of its webinars free to PRSSA members. These webinars are informative sessions covering topics including crisis communication, digital media, writing, career preparation, community relations and employee communication. In addition to personal use, they are also incredibly valuable to use during Chapter meetings and events.
in Spain, I quickly made an exciting discovery: We are essentially experts when it comes to our home cultures. All the networking, professional development and experience I’ve had in United States have proven valuable here. My supervisor takes my thoughts seriously regarding English news releases that we pitch to
American journalists. Likewise, I defer to an intern from France when it comes to approaching bloggers in Paris. When we work together, we keep our brand consistent but our communication clear and audiencespecific.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Enhance your Writing: Contribute to PRSSA Publications Mallory richardson 2013-2014 Publications Editor in Chief
With summer now behind us, an exciting and productive school year awaits. Whether you’re a new or returning member, PRSSA has many opportunities for you to better yourself as a pre-professional and gain valuable information about the public relations industry. Looking for a tangible way to increase your participation in PRSSA? Refine your writing skills by contributing to this publication, PRSSA’s tri-annual online newspaper, and PRSSA’s national blog, Progressions. Both publications seek articles about industry trends, Chapter and professional development, current events and career preparation. FORUM articles should be journalistic in nature, while Progressions posts can have a more conversational tone. If you have an interesting idea for an article or blog post, pitch it to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to write, but aren’t sure what to write about? Read up on public relations news to gain inspiration. You can also contact me and together, we can analyze your interests and experiences to come up with a unique story angle. Make sure to adhere to the writing guidelines before submitting for review.
Still not convinced? Here are three more reasons to write for FORUM and Progressions:
Public relations professionals need to be exceptional writers, plain and simple. The more you write, the easier it becomes. Practice now during undergrad, and you’ll stand out among the competition come time for a job interview or writing test.
2. Once you land a job or internship, you may be required to write a press release in one hour or whip up a series of social media posts for a client on the spot. Showcase your versatility by challenging yourself to write for both publications this year. 3. Writing for PRSSA’s publica-
tions can also help you connect with other PRSSA members or seasoned professionals. You never know who might read or comment on your post or article. Don’t look back at your time in college and wish you had tried a bit harder to write for professional publications and blogs. Receiving a passing grade in a public relations writing course is an accomplishment, but there’s no better feeling than having your work published on a national scale. Trust me—your portfolio will thank you! Best,
Fall 2013 | Volume 46, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
A Moment with Mary Henige, APR
Director, Social Media, Digital Communications and Reputation Management at General Motors by Jessica Howard Communications Director At the PRSSA 2013 National Conference in Philadelphia, Mary Henige, APR, of General Motors will serve as the keynote speaker. Henige is a graduate of Wayne State University and in 1986, received her bachelor’s degree in speech communication and public relations, and then later earned her master’s degree in organizational communication. Henige has been with General Motors for almost 27 years now and is the brain behind GM’s employee policy and training, blogs, community engagement, crisis management and social media strategy. Beginning her involvement as a student, she is now a much accredited member of PRSA and in 2003 was the president of the PRSA Detroit Chapter. Under Henige’s thumb, the Chapter won a national diversity award for exceptional multicultural programming and an East Central District Award for professional development. The Conference Committee got the opportunity to ask Henige about her involvement in PRSA, thoughts on the public relations profession and experiences as a seasoned professional.
Q: What are you look-
ing forward to the most during the PRSSA 2013 National Conference?
Henige: Meeting the next
generation of PR leaders. I must confess I enjoy the National PRSSA Conference even more than the International PRSA Conference. There’s an energy and eagerness at the student conference. It infuses me with excitement for the profession and the possibilities.
How did you first become involved with PRSA?
courtesy photo | MARY HENIGE, APR
Mary Henige, APR is the director, social media, digital communications and reputation management at General Motors. She will serve as the keynote speaker at the PRSSA 2013 National Conference.
I joined the Wayne State University Chapter (now the James S. Measell Chapter) in 1984 when I was a junior, and have been a member ever since. I know! That sounds like a long time ago, and it was.
PRSA International Conference, which was held in Detroit and partly sponsored by GM. Again, I can’t explain what a thrilling and memorable experience this was.
What do you find is the most rewarding Q: How do you think part about your job? being so involved in MH: No matter what facet of PRSA has impacted your public relations we work in we’re professional develop- really story tellers. Our team has been involved in helping to enment? hance GM’s reputation by human-
Joining PRSA is the best professional career decision I’ve ever made. PRSA has helped me learn at every stage of my career. As a student I was exposed to speakers and conferences that led me to pursue a corporate career. In my 20s I joined committees, and later led a few. Committee work helped me learn, get some mentors, expand my network and view of public relations. Later I got the best professional development opportunity of my career by joining the PRSA Detroit Chapter Board. In 2003 I became the Chapter President. Leadership positions provide an incredible learning opportunity. Where else can you lead 500 or more volunteers and professional colleagues? I focused on education during my presidency to help highlight and strengthen the great work the Chapter was doing. Later, in 2008, I co-chaired the
izing our company and changing perceptions – by telling stories. We’re doing this through our social media channels and content, as well as in the relationships we’re building with consumers and influencers. In May, Fortune magazine recognized GM as one of nine corporate social media stars. This is extremely meaningful recognition, which we didn’t seek. It’s motivated us even more.
Q: In your experience,
do you feel there is one particular social media site that is the most effective when it comes to reaching an audience? Why or why not?
MH: As communicators we
have to look at what we’re trying to communicate and to whom. This will dictate how you should tell a story. If you’re trying to reach a younger audience then social channels may be the way to go. However, if you’re reaching a retired audience then perhaps you’ll want to put your content on a website, or even communicate with print materials. Our team works to ensure that each of our corporate channels has a specific target and is used to reach the right audiences. There’s nothing worse than someone saying they need a Facebook page, because they probably don’t. The first question is what is your objective? All that said, if I have to select one site, than I believe it should be a company’s media site, which should serve as a gold source of content that can be shared with various internal and external audiences.
Q: When you were a rep-
new professionals and you have been a guest lecturer at numerous universities. What inspires you to share your knowledge and educate others who are interested in PR?
MH: Helping others is the
right thing to do – in any profession and in life. There are many adages that say that the helper receives more help (or greater rewards) than the person being helped, which is true. It gives me great joy to share my knowledge and to help students and new professionals launch their careers. Additionally, working with students and new professionals keeps me current, and I learn things from them all the time. It’s also a way of saying thank you to those who helped me throughout my career. I love this profession and am still enjoying my career immensely. Pay it forward.
resentative for Pontiac, you had a hand in the $11 million dollar car giveaway on the Oprah Q: If you could give any Winfrey Show. could you piece of advice to youngtell us a little about er PR professionals, the development of that what would it be? project?
MH: The Pontiac G6 give-
away on Oprah’s show was a marketing idea. I was fortunate to be the PR director at the time. When something is as newsworthy and interesting as giving away 276 cars it’s an easy PR job! It did help me to realize the importance of transportation and what these vehicles meant to the men and women who won them. The whole experience was incredible, for sure.
MH: Join PRSA when you
graduate – and get involved. Join a committee, lead a committee, and go into Chapter leadership and even district or national roles. I also recommend that new professionals – and experienced ones, too – use their communications skills to help nonprofit organizations. Join an organization or support a cause you believe in, and volunteer to do the PR for them. You’ll be doing important work and your personal development and fulfillment will be amazing.
You have a lot oF experience with mentoring students and
WANT MORE? Visit Us @ PROGRESSIONS.PRSSA.COM If you can’t wait until the next issue of FORUM for more public relations tips and industry news, check out PRSSA National’s blog, Progressions. It is updated weekly with posts from professionals and Chapter members from across the country. Recent popular posts include: Intern Talk: 3 Ways to Develop Professional Skills Without an Internship
One for the Money: Fundraising Tips for the PRSSA 2013 National Conference
How to Pitch PRSSA Membership
Beat the Summer Blogging Blues
While internships give students valuable professional experience, they can always develop their public relations skills through other means. Ellie Boggs, PRSSA vice president of career services, suggests that students:
Fundraising early in the semester can make attending Conference easier on members’ wallets. Jessica Howard, National Conference communications director, provides Chapters with ideas to fundraise for the PRSSA 2013 National Conference:
Joanna Berkowitz, vice president of member services at the University of Florida PRSSA Chapter, gives students four key tips when pitching PRSSA membership to potential members:
Ben Butler, PRSSA vice president of public relations, and Heather Harder, PRSSA vice president of member services, walk readers through a personal blogging strategy:
• Seek out opportunities on campus. • Start blogging. • Volunteer your skills to local
• Plan a fun run. • Host a restaurant fundraiser. • Get sponsorships or donations.
• Be straightforward. • Figure out what is unique about your
• Establish your audience. • Brainstorm potential topics related to
• Add a personal touch. • End with a call to action.
• Develop a habit of posting. • Stand out.
• Choose a theme you’re passionate about.
Fall 2013 | Volume 46, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
The Deciding Factor: Office Culture
CourTESy phoTo | PAIGE ROBINSON
Ogilvy & Mather’s Chicago summer interns Hillary Stedman (left) and Adara Ney, help raise money for Off the Street Club, a Chicago nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children. Stedman and Ney had the opportunity give back to the community as a part of their internships.
by JACQuIE MCMAhon University of Alabama It’s intangible. It’s hard to describe. But it’s one of the most crucial aspects of any organization, especially in the public relations field: culture. When choosing a place to intern or work, it’s not always about an impressive list of clients or a company’s status. These factors, even among top firms in the industry, may start to seem similar after several interviews. It’s the office culture that truly sets them apart. So, what should you look for? ACCeSSiBility It’s important for your coworkers to be accessible and for you to feel welcome to ask questions and interact with everyone in the office. This often goes hand-in-hand with the structure of the work space, where more open spaces often enhance accessibility. For example, Edelman locations across the globe are currently transitioning to open spaces with lower cubicle walls and no individual offices, where the company vice presidents are accessible to assistant account executives. SoCiAl eventS Some companies make a point to host out-of-office social events for networking and building friendships. These can be monthly or weekly events like happy hour or trivia nights where everyone can participate and get to know one another away from the latest work project. How important are these types of events to you? The answer may help determine if the office culture is a good fit for you. AttiRe If you’re the type of person who wants to do your work in jeans and tennis shoes, look for an office that will provide the
freedom to do just that. Personally, I wanted to work where I could express myself, and my summer internship allowed – even encouraged – my bright color choices. emPloyee SAtiSfACtion It’s not rocket science: happy employees produce a higher quality of work and achieve greater success. For example, the Atlanta office of Porter Novelli emphasizes the importance of a satisfied workforce with volunteer groups called “Circles” tailored to the employees’ shared interests. These groups can range from a Foodie Circle to a Fun Circle. Can’t find a Circle that fits your interests? Any staff member with a passion can create a new one. Community SeRviCe Public relations firms often dedicate their talents to helping the community. For example, IBM and Ketchum have teamed up to host IBM’s Centennial Celebration of Service, the largest corporate volunteer event in history. The event included different projects across the globe, from IBM volunteers in California installing solar panels in lowincome houses to employees in Uruguay mentoring youth from impoverished neighborhoods. The initiative reached communities in 120 countries and earned several awards, including the PRSA 2012 Best of Silver Anvil Award. If it is an important factor for you, research the company’s community service projects during your application and interview process. Whether you’re passionate about making a difference in the community or a fun night of trivia, every person is a unique applicant. By knowing what cultural aspects are important to you, you can increase the chance of finding employers that will match your interests and work style.
Social Video Becomes the New Branding Tool for Professionals by pAMElA ChInAWAh California State University Northridge Technological advancements have changed the way audiences experience brands and media and have subsequently changed the way public relations professionals approach branding. Recently, the star seems to be social and mobile video. Earlier this year, Twitter released Vine, a mobile application that allows users to post and share six-second videos. Vine instantly took a lead in the mobile video market that had been pioneered by apps like Viddy. In a competitive move, Instagram developed its own video-sharing platform in July. Instagram borrowed a few tricks from Viddy, which had previously been known as the “Instagram of videos,” by allowing users to create longer videos and add filters. A competitive market in social video platforms means public relations professionals and users have a variety of options to choose from. Competition typically signifies a rise in popularity and rapid improvement. As video use increases, the industry must adapt and integrate the new medium into its practice. Social and mobile video creates a new kind of user engagement for professionals and their clients. It further demonstrates a proverbial leap from paper, which has been the mainstay in the industry for decades. The traditional methods of one-way communication and simply writing messages for audiences to read are becoming a practice of the past. The increasing popularity of social video gives practitioners the opportunity to create a
conversation with target audiences. Additionally, it allows for a level of creativity that is leaps and bounds above what can be achieved with standard text. Christopher Duran, a public relations and marketing associate at Vans Footwear, said creativity and messaging personalized to a brand is more likely to engage users on a long-term basis. “Until now, most networks relied on storytelling primarily through text and photos. Videos incorporate so much more: imagery, audio, verbal, nonverbal communication, motion. It’s more likely to give users a unique experience that will keep them coming back,” Duran explained. Brands are sweeping in on the opportunity to woo consumers with this personalized medium. The social media analytics tool Simply Measured showed that among the top 100 global brands listed by brand consulting firm Interbrand, 14 posted videos within the first week of Instagram’s video debut. Lululemon was one of the first brands to post a video to Instagram, seemingly minutes after the feature was announced. The athletic clothing company averages almost 6,000 likes per photo and now receives double that amount for its videos. Arkansas Tech University PRSSA president Emily Langford attributes the video success of companies like Lululemon to the visual aesthetic that comes naturally with the products. “Fashion is a visual art and an often misunderstood art. I think social video is immensely helping the fashion industry become more relevant and accessible,” she said. “A
great example is New York and Paris Fashion Week. Before social video, anyone who didn’t attend shows had to rely solely on publications to report what they deemed important. Designers and brands are now capable of instantly interacting with their customers right away by uploading their own clips.” YouTube’s growth over the past eight years demonstrates the potential for user-fueled video platforms. The company implemented extended commercials and a Google AdSense-based system, which created a successful revenue stream for brands and users. As Vine, Video on Instagram and Viddy become more popular, it is possible that sponsored content will find a home on the new platforms. Social video could end up directly in the middle of the convergence of public relations and marketing. Because of this, the public relations industry will need to continue adapting to the rapidly changing world of social media. Roles have yet to be defined and the potential for success is endless. Ruben Ochoa, a graduate of the California State University, Northridge PRSSA Chapter and a digital media associate at Burson-Marsteller, believes brands and businesses must adjust in order to stay relevant. “Any communications professional would be crazy not to adapt, master and monetize this movement,” he said. “Social video complements other media platforms and while it is not currently at the forefront, a shift is more than likely.”
Social media Connection FrIEnDS, FolloWErS & MorE
#prSSA TWITTEr ChAT
Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. EST
@PRSSANational: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” -Warren Buffet
Blogs, podcasts and webinars from PRSA can broaden your knowledge of trends in the industry.
Theme: “Ethics and PRSSA” Follow Twitter Chats using #PRSSA
JoIn ThE ConVErSATIon Follow the newest additions to the PRSSA social media family:
Connect with us further on our existing platforms:
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 “Because I’ve only had experiences with agencies, I might be a little biased, but I definitely think it’s a great place to start out because you are forced to learn quickly in order to keep up,” Spasoff said. While many careers in public relations have a fast-paced, unpredictable playing field, agency work is notorious for this. Some of Spasoff’s current responsibilities include media monitoring, researching for
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 plate with Michael Preston and Rebecca Timms of the Philadelphia 76ers, Bonnie Clark of the Philadelphia Phillies and Kevin Saghy of the Chicago Cubs as they give the inside scoop on the inner workings of sports public relations. Attendees can also learn the ins and outs of crisis management with Rae Bazzarre and Katherine McLane of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Special topic sessions include: personal branding with JRMComm president Jason Mollica, striving for work-life fit with David W. Ballard, PsyD of the American Psychological Association and Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR of San Diego State University, and a “Juggling: Life at an Agency” panel with recent PRSSA graduates. These presenters, along with many others,
Fall 2013 | Volume 46, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM campaigns and new business and strategic writing. The pros? “You don’t get bored because every day is different,” Spasoff said. But of course, there are some drawbacks. “You may plan to get something done one day but then something else pops up that calls for your immediate attention,” Spasoff said. She added, “If you like consistency, agency public relations might not be the place for you.”
will share their professional tips and tricks with attendees. Don’t forget – PRSSA attendees will also have the opportunity to attend the General Sessions of the PRSA International Conference (located across the street from the PRSSA Conference hotel). This year’s General Session presenters include new media expert Brian Solis; the first AfricanAmerican combat pilot, Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour (now an author and founder and CEO of VAI Consulting and Training, LLC); and John Wood, founder and board co-chair of Room to Read. The professional development workshops will complement the numerous opportunities for attendees to network and collaborate with experienced professionals as well as other PRSSA members. The Conference Committee is organizing “The Ivy Lee Club Opening
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 personal interest or passion. As a remote intern for HSUS, McFadden has worked on a variety of projects, including pitching and monitoring media, compiling a feature regarding state directors and many writing projects. “It’s my job to get news outlets and reporters to cover what the HSUS is doing. Whether it’s passing a new bill in legislation or hosting an event to save turtles, it’s my job to get reporters to talk about it and, ultimately, to get Night Celebration” to welcome all PRSSA attendees and the “A Step Forward: Innovating the Future Awards Ceremony and Dinner” on the last night of the Conference to celebrate the achievements of PRSSA’s outstanding Chapters and members. In addition to all that National Conference has to offer, the city itself presents several exciting opportunities as well. Founded by William Penn in 1682, the city of Philadelphia is the second largest city on the East Coast and one of the oldest and most historic places in the nation. Philadelphia, once the capital of our country, has served as the sources of many of our country’s innovations and advancements in both the past and present (including serving as the home of several Fortune 500 companies). Attendees can also take advantage of opportunities to explore Philadelphia’s endless array of culture, art, food
people to care,” McFadden said. The benefits and drawbacks of nonprofit public relations go hand-in-hand: it’s easy to become attached to the cause you are working toward and therefore, easy to make your job more personal. For those that choose this career path, the potential to make a difference outweighs the cost of emotional attachment. “You feel as though your work is a component of achieving a ‘greater good’ and that you’re serving a higher purpose,” McFadden said.
and history. The countless opportunities to engage in the dynamic community of public relations at National Conference combined with the incredible history that Philadelphia possesses will help guide attendees towards the path of success. There is always room for more personal and professional growth and the PRSSA 2013 National Conference will provide participants with a well-rounded arsenal of professional skills, a personal sense of achievement and fond memories that will last a lifetime.Be sure to register by the deadline of September 24 to reserve your spot at this sure-to-be memorable event! Be sure to register by the deadline of September 24 to reserve your spot at this sure-to-be memorable event!
Celebrity Endorsements Prove Highly Effective Tool Can Boost Sales and Strengthen Brand Credibility by Andrea gils Southeast Missouri State In an open editorial on PR Moment.com, an online magazine, Immediate Past Chair and CEO of PRSA Gerard Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA said that one of the most effective ways to get the public’s attention is by wordof-mouth marketing, especially when those words come out of a celebrity’s mouth. “Overt product endorsements by pop culture icons, or even something as seemingly innocuous as their wearing a certain designer or carrying a particular bag, can generate enormous public attention and translate into huge product sales,” Corbett said. Celebrity endorsements not only boost sales, but they also strengthen a brand’s credibility, building trust and affinity between the brand and its publics. Celebrities make brands appealing to specific target audiences and create a connection with consumers. Whether they’re “brand
ambassadors,” “brand champions” or “brand fans,” celebrity endorsement is a tool that public relations agencies frequently use as part of their campaigns. Ketchum’s implementation of celebrity endorsement in their PRSA Silver Anvil Awardwinning “Rock ‘n’ Advil Stories” campaign is just one example of how agencies use this tool. According to Megan Malley, the Advil account supervisor at Ketchum, the agency’s core Advil team worked with Ketchum Sports and Entertainment and Pfizer’s Consumer Healthcare team to create a campaign that showcased Jon Bon Jovi’s and Regis Philbin’s real pain stories. “The focus of this campaign was not to tell the celebrity story but the ‘real people’ story, so we needed to find celebrities that were appealing to consumers as well as relevant, given the timing, and that were natural to the brand,” Malley said. Vice president of CoynePR Deborah Sierchio said in a white paper that there are five key attributes to seek in potential
endorsers: trustworthiness, expertise, attractiveness, respect and similarity to the target audience (TEARS). Apart from the TEARS model, Sierchio said that one should check the celebrity’s background, ensure there are no conflicts with competing or similar brands and research media appeal, newsworthiness and relevance, the celebrity’s willingness to endorse and his or her worth, according to the company’s budget. Malley said that if Ketchum could leverage an opportunity to create relevance and surprise, the campaign could be engaging for consumers. At the time, Philbin had announced that he was leaving “Live! With Regis and Kelly,” so Philbin’s departure became the relevance factor. In addition, Bon Jovi’s adherence to the campaign marked his first verbal product endorsement, which served as the surprise factor that Ketchum was looking for. According to PRSA’s case study on the Rock ‘n’ Advil
Stories campaign, showing spokespeople in real pain situations allowed consumers to emotionally connect with the celebrities. Ketchum measured Bon Jovi’s and Philbin’s celebrity appeal and discovered high name recognition and likeability for both spokespeople. As a result of this campaign, dollar sales increased by more than five and seven percent compared to the previous year, after Philbin’s and Bon Jovi’s announcements respectively. Celebrities not only can have a positive effect on a campaign, but they also can also result in a marketing failure. Substantial research and planning are vital in finding the right celebrity whose personality matches the brand’s, who will best represent the brand and who will best relate to the brand’s audiences. Malley said, “Taking the extra time to make sure you that you have all the information makes your program that much stronger, and I think that this [campaign] was a perfect example of that.”
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 In her experience, “Throughout college and PRSSA, everyone has been speaking so highly of agency life that I essentially forgot about corporate public relations,” Moegenburg said. However, her time at Kohler has already swayed her interests. “If you would have asked me a few months ago [if I planned to pursue a career in corporate public relations], I would have been extremely hesitant to say yes. Ask me today, and my answer would be completely different,” Moegenburg said. “I will certainly pursue positions in corporate public relations now that I’ve been exposed to it.” One benefit of working for Kohler is Moegenburg’s ability to work with a project from start to finish, which is typically unique to in-house positions. Working in-house can also give public relations professionals the ability to become a subject matter expert and build meaningful relationships with relevant media contacts, which is not always the case with agency or nonprofit work. Take it from a Professional “If you’re not sure what route you want to take – agency, in-house, or nonprofit – then try to get an internship in each area. This will allow you to explore each and determine what best fits,” Brad Kostka said. “Plus, it looks great on a résumé.” Kostka is the senior vice president of integrated communication agency Roop & Co. He formerly served as president of the Greater Cleveland Chapter of PRSA. Although Kostka currently works in an agency setting, he previously held an in-house position as Championship Coordinator for the 1996 U.S. Senior Open and has contributed to nonprofit clients through internship and pro-bono positions, including United Way and March of Dimes. Throughout his experience, Kostka noted three professional strengths that brought him success: writing, curiosity and organization. Writing and organizational skills serve as a virtual precursor to entry into the public relations world, but curiosity may be brought up less often. According to Kostka, “Curiosity is important in an agency because one must be a jack of all trades but a master of none of them. It’s about learning enough to serve the needs of your many clients.” “One of the great things about pursuing a career in public relations is that it allows you to follow your passion – whether it’s business, the arts, politics, healthcare, sports or another avenue,” said Kostka. “Doing so will ultimately lead you to happiness and success in your career.”
Fall 2013 | Volume 46, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
Listening to liaisons
From Student-to-Pro: PRSA is at the Ready Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA PRSSA Board Liaison
As many of you begin a new school year, there’s much to anticipate and celebrate throughout the coming months. When thinking about the future, PRSSA can be a springboard to your professional career and growth. As a former PRSSA Chapter president from the days when big hair was big and being “bad” was cool, I understand the challenges ahead of you. In that regard, not much has changed — except the hairstyles. You’ll have a year filled with speakers, field trips, social
activities and the excitement of the PRSSA National Conference. Each of these experiences prepares you for the next move. The transition from student to professional can seem a bit overwhelming at times, but rest assured, there is a whole new community waiting to receive you – your professional PRSA Chapter members. Making this transition early will help grow your career, increase your skill set and provide you with the necessary network to be successful. You are already investing in yourself by being a part of PRSSA. The next step is Associate Membership. The savings at this entry level will give you a jump start on your career. The value is priceless. I made the transition from PRSSA to PRSA
upon graduation and haven’t looked back since. Thankfully, my hairstyle has changed in that time, although my “Farrah-feathering” was quite stylish! The Society is poised and ready to serve you in a myriad of ways. In 2014, we’ll celebrate the 50th anniversary of the APR credential, which has helped elevate the level of our professionals and educate the business world about our ethical standards, strategic capabilities and in general, the comprehensive body of know ledge we use to practice public relations effectively. As you begin this year as a PRSSA leader or member, you are setting the foundation for achieving this valuable credential in your future. I encourage you to tap into your Faculty and Professional
TALES FROM CUBELAND
Advisers as you work through this year. They can be a familiar and welcome resource as you gain more experience, explore the profession and begin your professional journey. These champions are ready to connect you with local professionals and internship opportunities and serve as valuable mentors. One of my PRSSA Advisers has turned into a lifelong mentor – if that wasn’t worth the PRSSA dues, I don’t know what was! Don’t have a close relationship with your Chapter Advisers? There’s a long list of professionals who are part of the Champions for PRSSA eager to help. Take a moment to see who is in your area. No doubt they’ll help you and your members make the transition from student-to-pro
in a heartbeat; not to mention, they can help with fundraising and serve as speakers for your Chapter meetings – really, the list is endless. PRSSA is fortunate to have National Advisers as well. These senior professionals and faculty advisers are ready to help as they can. I’m honored to serve as the National Board Liaison with Geri Ann Evans, APR. We work in tandem with Robert “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA, National Faculty Adviser and Don Egle, APR, ABC, National Professional Adviser. Don’t hesitate to look to these resources as you plan your year, help your members transition to PRSA and mentor those who are joining with excited anticipation. Make it a great year!
Setting the pace
Work-Life Effectiveness 2013 Bateman Case Study Competition Crucial for Derailing Winners Share Best Practices Job Stress EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
1. Spending Ryan mcshane Senior Account Executive, Taylor
I come across articles a few times every year that rank public relations as one of the most stressful careers. The most recent list I found put our chosen field in the same breath as enlisted military personnel, military generals, firefighters and commercial airline pilots. While I find it difficult to compare a bad day in the office to that of a firefighter, putting out a public relations fire is not something I look forward to in the wee hours of a weekend evening. The occasional crisis isn’t the only thing that can make us pull our hair out. Cranky journalists, uncooperative weather, budget cuts and a slew of other variables will also test our blood pressure. This is why we need to find balance. Work-life effectiveness, or WLE, comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s leaving a little early on Wednesdays to catch a hot yoga class or having access to the proper technology to work remotely during appropriate circumstances, WLE should be individualized and encouraged by organizations. WLE can be mutually beneficial to both the employee and the employer and should be addressed continually in internal conversations to establish best practices and ground rules. Here are just some of the perceived benefits of WLE that I have experienced during my career:
enough time away from the office will help employees avoid burnout.
2. Balanced employees are more consistent and efficient in their work. 3. Travel, culture and entertain-
ment contain touch points that resonate with all kinds of consumers. Having opportunities to experience new things will yield creative inspiration during brainstorms and program refinement. EMPLOYER BENEFITS
1. A happy workplace helps reduce turnover.
2. In a closely connected indus-
try, a company that promotes WLE will attract talent through employee referrals.
Active employees are less likely to deal with chronic illnesses, ultimately lowering the cost of healthcare for the organization.
As a closing note, include questions about WLE during research and interviews with companies. When a public relations fire heats up the stress in your life – and it will – it’s comforting to know there is some balance on the way. Ryan McShane is a senior account executive at Taylor and works from the agency’s Charlotte office. He served as FORUM Editor in Chief in 200708 and provides advice to public relations students and young professionals through his blog: http://www.ryanmcshane.com.
by Leah whitlock Loyola University New Orleans
The Bateman Case Study Competition, the Society’s premier national case study competition, offers public relations students the unique opportunity to create and implement a comprehensive public relations campaign for a cause or client. This past year, Bateman teams were required to launch a youth bullying prevention campaign. Sixty-eight teams from colleges and universities across the United States entered the Competition. My team, from Loyola University New Orleans, placed first in the competition with its Step Up, Reach Out! campaign, taking home the Chapter’s eighth national title. Is your Chapter considering entering a team in the next Bateman Case Study Competition? Here are some of our best practices for executing a successful Bateman entry: Be a team player Remember that old saying, there’s no “I” in “team?” Well, as a Bateman team member, this saying could not be more true. One person can not do all of the work alone – there is no way one person could do even half of the work alone. Delegation is key, and each member needs to be willing to put in the effort. Remember to always support one another and act as a team. Be flexible As public relations people, we need to expect the unexpected. Every situation may not go as planned, so be willing to adapt. Don’t just create a plan A; create a plan B, C, D and E as well. In addition, be prepared to step
courtesy photo | Cathy Rogers
The 2013 Bateman Case Study Competition winners from Loyola University New Orleans, left to right: Leah Whitlock, Haley Humiston, Dwayne Fontenette Jr., Vannia Zelaya and Charlie LaRock.
outside of the public relations profession. During our bully prevention campaign, my teammates and I assumed many roles throughout the month, including teacher, mentor and public speaker. Plan, plan, plan To be successful, every step of your planning needs to be well thought out and strategically executed. Avoid procrastinating – throwing something together at the last minute will cause your overall campaign to suffer and may hurt your campaign during the judging process. Remember to be thorough and to cover all aspects of the Bateman Competition’s objectives. When it comes to Bateman, being called an over-achiever is a compliment. Stay organized and plan. Don’t be afraid of big ideas Bateman requires executing
a campaign with a limited budget and time period, but this does not mean it is necessary to stick with small ideas. Do something different and exciting to make a big difference with your key audiences – this will also get the judges’ attention. Just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it’s unattainable. During our planning, some of our strategies and tactics at times seemed too “out there” or too difficult to achieve, but those are the ones we are most proud of today. By implementing some of these practices, your Chapter’s team(s) can develop an effective, impactful campaign in your local community that will receive high marks by the Competition judges.
Fall 2013 | Volume 46, Issue 1 | www.prssa.org/FORUM
Looking at Internships: Paid and Unpaid
by Amanda Gambill Middle Tennessee State University Unpaid internships have always been a hotly contested subject, but coupled with a high-profile court case and a growing industry that demands experience, the public relations realm has never needed to discuss internships more. The question, however, is not, “Should students take on unpaid internships?” but rather, “Are unpaid internships ethical?” The question was brought up recently because of the lawsuit two former interns filed against Fox Searchlight. The unpaid interns, who worked on the set of the movie “Black Swan,” filed suit against the company, claiming they should have been paid, and won. While this win may not signify the end of unpaid internships, it did reintroduce the conversation. “The time of the unpaid internships is probably over — at least in our industry,” Keith Miles, a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations, said in a phone interview. MP&F is a full-service communications firm located in Nashville, Tenn. In January 2013, the firm began offering interns an hourly wage. Before the switch, interns were reimbursed for the value of the college credit hours they received. Miles said many factors played into the switch, but one key component was
students who already received college credit and graduates were applying for the internships. “There was discussion in the U.S. Department of Labor and in the general business world about whether or not internships should be paid or unpaid,” Miles said. He also mentioned the PRSA Professional Standards Advisory, which spells out the ethical use of interns. The guidelines mention the common predicament students face: “Employers value work experience when hiring. Job candidates who wish to be competitive willingly accept unpaid positions to gain work experience.” The guidelines highlight free flow of information, disclosure of information and enhancing the profession, as well as the professional values of advocacy, honesty, expertise and fairness. In addition, the guidelines advise both the employer and the intern to consider several ethical questions, including those related to federal law and state legislative rules. The U.S Department of Labor also has guidelines that employers must meet to decide if their interns should be paid or unpaid:
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training, which would be given in an educational environment; 2.
The internship experience is
for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
These guidelines were also mentioned in the ruling of the “Black Swan” case. “There’s been a lot of discussion about intern programs and paid versus not paid that predate this particular case,” Miles said. He mentioned while there may be “shifting attitudes” from the industry, “we still want to get the best and brightest young people and give them a real-world look.” Though unpaid, these types of internships can still offer students the opportunity to showcase their passion for the field, gain real-world experience and acquire networking connections. “If a student is willing to work an unpaid internship, it can be the best internship experience [he or she] may have. You
GRAPHIC BY Mallory Richardson
PRSSA’s Internship Center has been re-designed. Visit www.prssa.org/career/ internships to retrieve your MyPRSA username and begin taking advantage of this member benefit.
learn so much, and you learn to appreciate a paid opportunity that much more,” said Gina Masciantonio, Millersville University of Pennsylvania PRSSA Chapter president and marketing intern at Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Del. Masciantonio has held five internships: three unpaid, one for college credit and one paid. “I honestly cannot complain and have been very lucky. Obviously, I think students would always prefer a paid internship because it is hard balancing schoolwork, an internship and a part-time job to make up for working for free. That being said, I am not against unpaid internships – I think they can be great!”
CULPWRIT ON CAREERS
Social Media: #LearnItLoveItForSuccess Ron Culp Professional Director of Graduate PR & Advertising, DePaul University
“Embrace social media or you’ll be out of business in five years.” That opening statement from my stump speech gets the attention of business men and women, many of whom would prefer to avoid engagement in digital communication (despite knowing it’s not going away). The same declaration can be modified to apply to higher education and anyone in college today. Just eight years ago when I joined Ketchum, not a single employee was dedicated to social media. Now every office has a team of digital specialists and, like many agencies, everyone is being trained to both understand social media and incorporate appropriate elements into client assignments. Many agencies have developed their own social media training programs because the talent pool from which they are hiring often lacks those necessary skills. Colleges are rushing to catch up with the growing demand for social
media talent, and wisely so. Unfortunately, simply offering a couple of social media and online courses won’t do the trick. Students need to be comfortable with everything digital and be able to work well with both in-person and virtual teams. This is best achieved through fully integrating social media into every public relations course in the college catalog. Many creative instructors are already including social media in their courses. From George Washington University to the University of Southern California, faculty members are incorporating Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms into their coursework. To underscore the importance of digital education, Louisiana State University launched a “Digital Media Initiative” that encourages faculty and students to embrace the future of communication. But just because it’s digital doesn’t mean it can be taught virtually through online platforms. A recent survey of 1,500 high school and college graduates made it clear that a complete educational experience requires more than completing a series of online courses. “Results indicate that online efforts will continue to grow,
especially in some sectors, but won’t replace the on-campus experience,” said Jeff Hunt, a partner at strategic communication consultancy PulsePoint Group. At DePaul University, I have increased the social media components in my courses, thanks to inspiration from my fellow “pracademic” colleague, Don Ingle, who, like me, began his teaching career after a long and varied corporate and agency career. Ingle began using a Facebook Group in all his classes about a year ago. “We have assignments posted to our group page and conduct one class per quarter on Facebook instead of in the classroom. The goal is to take students’ personal involvement with social media and turn it into professional involvement,” he explained. There are numerous benefits to incorporating social media into the curriculum. “Students see how companies and organizations are engaging their customers and best prospects in various social media spaces, including newer ones like Vine,” he said. “There is tremendous participation in our live class. Students love learning from one another
through their commentary on their posts, and they use what they’ve learned by applying it into a social media tactical public relations plan, which is part of their final projects.” Student response is overwhelming, he reported. One student commented, “It was eye-opening to understand the world of social media and how much it has grown in the last few years. It is crucial that we understand social media because many jobs that young public relations practitioners start off with are primarily centered upon monitoring social media.” There’s almost nothing more rewarding for an academic to hear than that a former student has taken knowledge and experience from the classroom and directly translated it into his or her professional life. To those who fully embrace social media and all of its potential, you’ll be thriving — not out of business — in five years. Ron Culp is a veteran corporate and agency professional who now consults and serves as professional director of the graduate public relations and advertising program at DePaul University. He blogs on public relations careers at www. culpwrit.com
Masciantonio offered her skills for free to a company that she “knew [she] would be passionate working for” because she “just wanted to learn.” Justin Rothrock, Middle Tennessee State University PRSSA Chapter vice president of web and technologies, also uses his summer internship at Average Joes Entertainment in Nashville, Tenn. to demonstrate his passion. “As I’ve worked an unpaid internship this summer, it’s afforded me the chance to distinguish how much I love my potential career,” he said. “When there’s no paycheck on Friday, and you still want to be there, I think that’s a sign you’re headed in the right direction.”
FIRM OF THE ISSUE
by Helma von Zadow Vice President of Professional Development ImPRessions is the student-run public relations firm associated with the Hugh M. Culbertson Chapter of PRSSA at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism (in Athens, Ohio). A successful PRSSA Nationally Affiliated firm, ImPRessions’ mission is to provide students with professional experience that will prepare them for future internships and employment opportunities. ImPRessions has served clients on the national and regional levels, as well as local clients in Athens, including the Athens County Humane Society, AVW Productions and Cardinal Health. ImPRessions has been recognized on several occasions as an outstanding firm because of its members’ professionalism, knowledge, dedication, passion and creativity. The account team and leadership provide organizations with valuable public relations services free of charge, and in turn, gain wonderful experiences and build résumés. Learn more about ImPRessions at www.ouimpressions.com.