March 17, 2008

Public Relations: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Posted in Jobs tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:14 pm by rawrelations

The PRSSA regional activity titled “Public Relations: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going” took place March 1-2 in downtown Nashville. Speakers from the nonprofit, sports, agency and entertainment sectors shared some insight and advice from their unique perspectives. It was also a great networking opportunity, because most of the professionals stuck around to answer questions and chat with students.

Rachel Holder, president and CEO of United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, addressed the nonprofit sector. According to Holder, communication at a nonprofits range from fundraising, to volunteering, to advocacy. The key fundraising and volunteer target audiences, said Holder, are offices and retired people. Another key audience is those who are in need. If the United Way has great programs but the people who need them the most don’t know about them – what good are they? The organization also uses social media to communicate with its publics. Some of the “e-marketing” tactics include podcasts and e-newsletters.

Holder came up with a list of myths associated with working for a nonprofit:

  • You have to starve to work in nonprofit – Many organizations recognize the need to attract talented individuals, and will compensate accordingly. There can be great benefits, and flex time.
  • Everyone who works in a nonprofit is just a “do-gooder” who doesn’t care about having a successful career – The nonprofit sector is filled with people who are thriving at what they do.
  • Upper level management is not the same – In nonprofit, you get to wear a lot of different hats.
  • They depend on grants – Nonprofits have many healthy ways of earning funds
  • There isn’t opportunity for growth – There are plenty of training opportunities and possibilities for advancement

Like many public relations jobs, two days are never the same:
All in a Day’s Work
* Mailers
* Phone calls
* Meetings
* Media relations
* Developing partnerships

Holder’s favorite part about working for a nonprofit is the variety it affords her, the different people she gets to meet.

Dwight Spradlin, assistant director of communications for the Tennessee Titans, addressed public relations from the sports/entertainment point of view.

Spradlin explained that PR touches every aspect of the organization and there are many publics to think about. The external includes fans, media (national, local), community, and government. The internal includes players, employees, and executives.

The communications office is the nerve center, explained Spradlin, “I have to be in the know…and be the source of current information. People come to me for anything and everything.”

The Titans have an attitude of openness and transparency, and see the media as an asset. Spradlin believes being honest and inviting responsibility earns trust, which is key for any organization. “Sometimes your best PR is done before anything happens, so the public can understand better,” Spradlin said.

How his office tries to prevent the need for crisis communication:

* Steers conversations the way they want them to go
* Gets to know the players and coaches and their personalities/tendencies
* Continues media training
* Frequently updates controlled information (Web site, press releases)

All in a Day’s Work:

  • Interview requests
  • Press conferences
  • Press releases
  • Marketing
  • Community Relations
  • Media Guide
  • Web site
  • Gameday functions (350-400 media at each game)
  • Crisis communication

There were some other speakers, too, but I don’t want this post to turn into a book. I am really satisfied with the event and am happy I took the time (and money) to attend. I have not decided what my ideal job in PR would be, so it was great to see the different sides of it.

I think whenever you have an opportunity to hear from or meet with a professional in your field, you should jump on it – not only to learn from them, but to network as well. You never know how you may need them in the future, or how you could be of service to them (always remember networking is a two-way street).

I’d love to hear of any events you’ve gone to, or professionals you’ve met with and what you took away. Feel free to post on your experiences!

Check here to see if there will be a PRSSA regional activity in your area!


March 10, 2008

Résumés and Interviews: It’s not all common sense…but it should be

Posted in Jobs tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:55 pm by rawrelations

For many of us, graduation is looming closer and closer, prompting more and more people to ask us “Do you know what you’re going to do when you graduate?” My instinctive response is “Yup – going out to a nice restaurant with my family to celebrate!” Ohhh, I guess they mean job-wise.


I’m still unsure of my future, but I’m not going to worry myself over it. I applied for a number of those programs and internships listed in my first post, and have yet to hear back from one of them. There’s still time (that seems to be my favorite phrase this semester).


So, besides searching job opportunities, I am constantly trying to better my résumé and fine-tune my interview skills. I search tips and tricks online and take note to what professionals have to say. Our PRSSA chapter is fortunate to have campus events featuring practitioners from the top agencies in Nashville.


Recently, senior account executive at Katcher, Vaughn & Bailey Public Relations, Heather Schablik, spoke at a PRSSA meeting about getting your dream internship. Ronald Roberts, Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence spoke at a convocation event on “How to Say It: The Interview.” Below are some of the highlights from their visits:



            Heather Schablik:

·        Writing samples – Even those from class will work. Anything that show cases
your writing ability

·        Relevant experience – previous internship or experience do PR for a club or organization on campus

·        Involvement in PRSSA

·        Brevity – Keep it to one page. Don’t put every menial task. “If you’ve worked in an office, I expect you can answer phones.”

·        DOES NOT look at GPA – “I don’t even notice if it’s not on there.”


Ronald Roberts:

·        Proof everything before you send it – Have another pair of eyes look it over

“In my industry, you’re out of the running…just that quickly if it is not proofed. It’s the simple things that kill you.”

·        Don’t hesitate to put a job on there because you think it is irrelevant – “If you’ve worked at a restaurant, it shows me you’ve dealt with customers.”

·        Gain practical, commercial experience – “What I want to see if something you’ve done outside Belmont.”

·        Make sure your references are strong – “Have someone who will make you sound good.”



            Heather Schablik:

·        Beforehand: Be aware of what is online about you – “I have not called candidates back because of what I saw on their Facebook or MySpace page.”

·        Express yourself with confidence, but don’t be an ego-maniac

·        Bring a portfolio, even if you can’t leave it with them. Some people even bring a video/DVD, or have an online portfolio listed on the résumé

·        Talking salary – “Do your research. Talk intelligently about why you are asking for what you’re asking. It’s all about how you come at it.”


Ronald Roberts:

·        Research beforehand – Find out about the company. Come up with questions to ask during the interview. Definitely have a name to put on the cover letter

·        Practice and rehearse; especially be familiar with weaknesses and strengths – “Don’t memorize so you sound like a robot, but be prepared.”

·        Be early – “Fifteen minutes early is on time for an interview.”

·        Follow up – “Thank you notes are really nice.” However, only ONE communication is sufficient. Don’t e-mail, call and send a note.


I would love to read any other suggestions or tips you have. What has been helpful for you? What mistakes have you learned from?

March 2, 2008

Expanding Market Reach: Tapping into a Key Demographic

Posted in Diversity tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:41 am by rawrelations

The Latino population in the United States is growing by the hour – Hispanics comprise the largest ethnic minority group in the nation.

The Hispanic population in my home county is about 15 percent of the total population, and nearly 20 percent of the population in the schools is Hispanic. I also have a step mom from Bolivia, so I recognize the need (and potential) for businesses and service providers to reach out to the Latino community.

There is a great organization here in Nashville, Conexión Américas, which strives for the social and economic advancement of Hispanics living in Middle Tennessee. It offers them “information, resources, support networks, and tools needed to address immediate, midterm, and long-range challenges,” as well as helping businesses reach the Latino community.

Former reporter, Liliana Ospina, a Colombian native, started Latino Public Relations, LLC, with offices in Pontiac, Mich. and Bogotá, Colombia, which provide standard public relations services as well as translation services. A blog post in the Oakland Business Review includes an interview with Ms. Ospina.

One of the firm’s goals is to “teach the consumer marketplace that the Hispanic community is diverse and complex.”

We have discussed this in my Spanish class, and I was shocked at how uninformed some of the other students were on the diversity of the people from the Central and South American countries. It is so important to realize that people from Mexico are so different from those in Argentina…or someone from Mexico City, for example, is so different from someone in Oaxaca. Each region has unique social, economic and political histories which affect the cultures.

Personally, I think organizations like Conexión Américas and Latino Public Relations is just what this country needs for the growing diversity. Liliana Ospina has developed a company which is advantageous to a lot of Americans, and I hope more and more practitioners will follow suit. Even if it’s just reaching out more to the Latino population, every business can learn from Ospina’s example.

Free Swag for Celebs at the Oscars

Posted in Giveaways tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:26 am by rawrelations

Thanks to the recent end to the writers’ strike, the 80th Annual Academy Awards did not suffer the same fate as the SAG Awards earlier this year. Make-up artists, limousine drivers, event planners and the like had plenty of work to do, and stars a red carpet to stroll down.

What would an awards show be without the already-rich-and-famous receiving loads of free stuff they can already afford? Public relations practitioners at many businesses hope stars will be photographed with their products and end up in one (or more) tabloid magazines, entertainment news shows, or popular blogs – and with good reason.

Our society is obsessed with celebrity culture, making celebrity gifting a popular practice.

“Americans see famous faces and get wide-eyed, weak-kneed and extraordinarily loose in the wallet,” according to Jaimee Rose of the Arizona Republic.

Honestly, I’m glad I’m not one of them – why pay more for some high-end brand that is just going to help the designer live in a ridiculously bigger & better house and me with credit card debt? Although I realize this is not always the case, and do not judge those that do. (On a related note, I’m not for paying ridiculously low prices if it means supporting “sweatshops” either. See here and here).

Who am I to get in the way of those who can and do to wish to purchase such items?

To be considered for inclusion in gift suites, bags and baskets during OSCAR time and others, companies often pay steep fees and prepare bids at least six months in advance.

A few of the items given out this year include:Swarovski crystal dog collar
* Swarovski crystal dog collar
* Spoil Me Spa service
* Glo To Sleep mask
* Skull and crossbones dog collar charm
* Personalized Motorola phones

Some companies, like Backstage Creations and On3 Productions specialize in connecting clients’ products with celebrities; holding “retreats” and “gift lounges” at celebrity events. Newly formed Ms. Public Relations held a pre-Oscar gifting suite at the Four Seasons Hotel, and featured products from Ferrari, Blue Tattoo Denim, Tigerlight and many others.

I have to commend GBK Productions, which donated more than $20,000 from the profits of its annual OSCAR Gift Suite, to five charities and invited visiting celebrities to contribute as well.

For those hoping to see one of their products in the hands of or on the backs of celebrities, MarketingSherpa offers tips on how to get items included in celebrity gift bags.

So what does this have to do with emerging PR practitioners? One, it is a method of promotion to think about. Secondly, I think there is a bit of an issue with the “Honesty” and “Disclosure of Information” sections of the PRSA Code of Ethics whenever gifts are involved. On the other hand, it can be excellent exposure for a product.

Let’s examine. The code states:

“To build trust with the public by revealing all information needed for responsible decision making.”

I think most people are aware that celebrities receive hand-outs, but how is the public supposed to differentiate between what was purchased by the celebrity and what was received as a gift? Do you think it matters?

I’d love to read your input!

Related interesting link:

Give Your Business An Oscar Moment
An article on why and how to earn awards for your business

February 18, 2008

Who Are the Happiest People On Earth?

Posted in relationships tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:55 am by rawrelations

So we all know Walt Disney World (my former place of work) is the happiest place on earth, but who are considered the happiest people?

Well, according to a scientific survey of international happiness carried out by Leicester University in England, the Danes carry the number one spot. Americans rank at a distant 23rd.

There was a report on CBS News’ 60 Minutes this weekend, and it was quite fascinating to hear the Danes’ outlook on life (in general). For one, expectations aren’t set so high, so when something out-of-the-ordinary happens, like the national soccer team winning the European championship, a state of euphoria kicks in.

This isn’t to say they don’t have ambition: “I think that we have very high hopes. Just like any other people who, we just don’t get so disappointed when we don’t see them through,” a man in a focus group explained (italics are mine).

The piece also stated that 94 percent of U.S. college students are stressed and overwhelmed (sound familiar?) as a result of all the pressure to succeed.

The number one predictor of well-being is close friendships and close relationships in general, which includes of course, family relationships. Much better predictor of well-being than affluence is,” said Psychology lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar.

The Danish students in the focus group shown said Americans put too much importance in stuff and accumulating material wealth.

Asked what he would advise Americans to do, a student said, “Well, okay. I have an advice. Don’t depend too much on the American dream. Yeah. I think you might get disappointed.”

This reminds me of a discussion we had in my Spanish class. My professor brought up the point that in our society “we spend how many hours a day at and commuting to/from work?” Minus time spent sleeping, showering, exercising, etc… from the 24-hour day, and how much do we actually spend with our family (whoever this is for you, not necessarily biological)…plus, for the usual work day, it’s not our “best hours” (its evening, you’re tired). Then, we don’t have a lot of free time until we retire (the Danes have 6 weeks of vacation a year), and by then, relationships may not have been nourished as much as they could have…and honestly, those aren’t necessarily the best years of our lives in terms of health.

So I hope that wasn’t too depressing. My point is, that even though we are running around a million miles a minute and stressing out about school work – especially where to find a job – stop for a second. Take time to call your mom for no reason, send your grandpa a card just to say “Hello!” Even just a text message to your brother to say “Good luck on your exam!” I know this isn’t entirely PR-related, but PR is about relationships, right? And what relationships are more important than those with the ones you love and who love you? I think we all know this at some level, but the way our society is, its not always the utmost priority.

In no way am I saying one particular way of life is better than the other. We, as a nation, have achieved so much in such a short time, and it is due to the strong work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and intellect of the people. I’m just saying, my advice is not to get too caught up in material happiness and to take some time every day to enhance a relationship with a loved one.

What makes YOU happy?

If you want a few tips to help “make the world a better place,” which, in turn, could make you happy, Click Here

What’s your take on how Danes view the “American Dream?”

February 17, 2008

Let’s Get it Started – The Job Search

Posted in Jobs tagged , , , , , at 12:11 pm by rawrelations

Huh, so this is what my first blog would be like? Cool.
Instead of rehashing my About section to introduce myself, I’ll just let you know I am graduating in May 2008 with a bachelor’s in public relations (journalism minor). There are so many things to think about as someone in this situation, which I know many of you are or will be soon. So, I thought I would share my experience and hopefully help others out in the process.

“So what are you going to do when you graduate?”

Never read the book, but liked the title

Don’t you just love that question? I know sometimes it is just a conversation filler, but it still makes me cringe each time I hear it. The inquiry carries so many implications:

  • You’re about to be in the “real world” – are you ready?
  • There are so many opportunities out there, haven’t you researched them?
  • Among the opportunities, which could possibly be what I’m “meant to do?”
  • Departing the comfort of college – yes, a lot of us may be eager to graduate, but for some, losing the familiar environment of learning and socializing college affords, may not be completely satisfying.

I didn’t really even know where to start. Last semester I began scouring the internet – Googling “public relations jobs for recent graduates,” “entry-level pr” and the like.
I once shadowed at a large firm, but have never interned at an agency or at a corporation. My focus turned to those and the ones that offer paid programs or internships for college students and recent graduates. Below is the result of my exhaustive search.
What has helped me is creating a file for each possibility, as well as a main page which lists them by deadline and requirements (essays, transcripts, recommendations, etc…)

I’m not planning on applying for all of them, in fact, for some, the deadline has already passed, but hopefully a majority will hear from me. I’ve been told to just apply to as many as possible and see what turns up.

This is perfectly logical, but I can’t help but think, “If I put as much effort as I would like into each application (many of which require essays), that would be a full-time job.” With all my other activities consuming a great chunk of time, I couldn’t possibly create each up to my personal standards. So then would I have to “settle” for something I didn’t want as much because I didn’t spend as much time as I should have on the places I most want to work for? OR maybe I shouldn’t place so much emphasis on where I think I would rather go, because a higher power (yes, I’m putting it out there, I believe in God) has plans for me elsewhere? And if so, WHERE IS THAT?

I’ve decided to be completely open, and potential employers should not assume a lack of interest in their particular organization when looking at the results of my vast search.

One more thing… no, I don’t see this as “helping the competition.” I believe I will go where I’m supposed to go and because I’m qualified, no one can hurt my chances but me.

But I digress. I hope the following list of sites and internships (in no particular order) is helpful to you in your job search. If you have any questions for me, or if you know anything about these internships, or someone who has participated, please don’t hesitate to comment or contact me! Of course, contact familiar companies/agencies you know about to see what they offer. Also, if you know what city you want to work in, research what there is there, and contact anything that perks your interest.



OTHER Helpful Sites:

And who knows, maybe I’ll be offered a job at my current internship or something else around town, I am eager to secure a summer position, and no matter where I go I will give my all.

Wow, someone’s actually read this! I sincerely thank you 🙂 Please give me feedback – on the content, design, broken links, whether or not links should open into new windows – anything!

Oh, and most importantly, I encourage you to please add to this list, or share your experience, where you hope to be after college, etc…
Thanks much,