Tag Archives: public relations

Tips for the future Ad/PR student at Loyola

I only have one semester left here at Loyola, so I feel like I am in a position to hand out unsolicited advice.  Of course there’s the generic stuff; study hard, always do the readings, don’t wait until the night before your 13 blog posts are due to finish the last eight of them.  I concur with all that.  Ideally, those pieces of advice should be followed, although I am aware that most times the ideal does not happen, so don’t sweat it.

There are certain other things that I think are more important (and more pertinent to the advertising and public relations major then the aforementioned college 101 tips.

1. Study abroad during college.

While this does not directly relate to your studies and I most cases won’t have anything to do with them, study abroad experience is a great differentiator on a resume.  If you can learn a foreign language while abroad, even better.  During my internship this fall, my language skills came in to play much more than I expected, which is to say, the came in to play at all.  During one of my first days on the job I was asked to research trade publications in Mexico.  Based on the fact that I has studied abroad and learned Spanish and the other intern had not, I was given the project to myself.  It wasn’t essentially a big deal, but projects like that do come up.

2. Get an internship early.

If you can get an internship at the end of your sophomore year, do it.  If you can get one at the end of your freshman year, even better.  I was a money hungry little monster my first years of college and would always choose a paying job over internship experience.  I had my first internship this semester and I really wish I had a bit more to put on my resume.  I have friends who have had four or five internships already and I know that they are not wanting for job offers.

3. Network!

When guest speakers come in to your classes, ask for their card, email follow-up questions and add them on LinkedIn.  Also, public relations people aren’t the only useful contacts.  The lady you babysit for might be a stay-at-home mom, but her best friend Suzzie’s sister might be an exec at Edelman.

4. Take a class will Allan Schoenberg…

Okay I put that for brownie points.  But he is legitimately a good teacher and definitely worth taking.  I’ve had him for two different classes you actually do learn things in his class.  Plus he invites some really great guest speakers (aka networking opportunities.

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Thanks Loyola profs! We’ll try to do you proud…

I have been studying public relations for over three years now and have had a number of different professors.  I’ve been lucky enough to have professors who have all worked in the real-world.  While professors who are strictly academics tend to be smart and often have a lot to say about their subject, I’m glad that all my professors have experience in the field they are teaching me about.  I have come to realize that I learn the most from listening to real-life stories of professionals and get very little out of theoretical lectures.

One of the best things that professors in Loyola‘s School of Communications do for their students is invite other industry professionals.  Our professors are aware that their own experience is limited and that we’ll learn more by hearing from people with a wide variety of professional experiences.

One of my favorite classes I’ve taken at Loyola was my Organizational Communications class taught by Robert Kornecki.  Professor Kornecki did not lecture instead, he share stories and case studies with us.  Not only was Kornecki himself a wealth of public relations knowledge, but he also brought in a guest speaker nearly every week to talk to us about various aspects of public relations.

Now that I am entering my last semester at Loyola I truly appreciate the opportunity that all my professors have given me to hear from real-world experts.  During interview and at my internship I am able to talk knowledgeably about actual cases and apply those to a given situation.  I will get the opportunity to create public relations plans until I am blue in the face when I reach the real-world.  Having learned from some of the best and brightest in the industry gives me a leg up over the completion who have not had exposure to as many industry professionals as I have.

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Public relations ethics

Anyone who works in public relations knows that ethics are a big gray area of the industry.  PRSA has a code of ethics for its members.  Like many codes of ethics though, it is just vague enough to not be cause for concern among the less scrupulous members of the profession.  There is not an industry standard as far as rules and consequences are concerned.

There are plenty of other industries that have vague codes of ethics, but a vague ethics code isn’t a problem for most industries.  The engineers code of ethics probably is not the most clear code available, but who is asking?  Public relations tends to run into ethic trouble with the generally public a lot more often than engineering world does.  A lot of people have an image of public relations as a shady, fact-twisting spin machine.  A quick Google search will turn up dozens of criticisms of public relations.

Most people in the public relations world seem to be too easy-going to care about what the general public things about their ethics.  This seems odd, considering we make our living dealing with what people think.  I think it is time the public relations world revisits its ethics.

One idea I’ve heard is to make public relations a licenced profession.  Anyone wanting to practice would have to pass an exam, much like lawyers, doctors and teachers must.  The idea is that if you have to be licenced to practice, you are less likely to be unethical because you risk loosing your license.  I am not really sure how practical the licencing idea is, but it make sense.  For now, we will just have to trust that people will do the right thing.

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Why working with startup companies is hard to do

I am writing one of my final papers about the public relations challenges of working with startup companies.  I figured a condensed version (the paper is 8 pages) would make a good blog post.  Ruder Finn has a lot of startup clients.  I emailed my coworkers and asked them all for insights on what makes working with startup companies difficult.  The number one thing I heard was that startup companies tend to lack a clear understanding of what public relations is.  Clients often expect way more than is realistic.  The want the cover of Time and the front page of the New York Times even though that is way out of their league.  Startup companies, because they are created by people who are really passionate about them often lack an objective perspective.  They think that everyone else is just as excited about their product or service as they are and can’t understand why every reporter out there is not dying to cover their story.

My coworkers also mentioned that because startup companies don’t fully understand what public relations is, they often use public relations as their entire marketing, sales and advertising strategy.  Since public relations is not the same as sales, marketing and advertising, clients will often be upset when public relations practitioners can’t deliver everything the company wants.  Often this leads to upset clients give who are easy to give up on public relations altogether when they don’t immediately see the results they want.  Other challenges people pointed out include lack of financial and personnel resources and limited or no public visibility.

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Good advice from a young pr pro

A coworker at Ruder Finn mentioned the Creative Career blog to me the other day.  It’s written by Allie, a friend of his at Edelman.  Her blog offers advice to the college student/ recent grad looking for a job in the world of creative communications.  Allie is a relatively new to the public relations world too.  So she understands the mindset of those of us looking for jobs, but also has the perspective of someone who’s been there, done that and survived.  Her recent post, The Art of Proving Yourself in a New Career is worth reading.

I’m in total agreement with everything she says.  I especially like number two “attention to detail comes first.”  She says that “you have to prove that you can get the details right before moving on to the ‘bigger picture’.”  In class all our projects focus on creating plans and campaigns.  No one mentioned that when we first started working we would be sitting around researching technology reporters and Smart Grid bloggers.  But that’s where you have to start if you one day want to get to the point where you’re doing things that are more creative.

Number seven, “learn to prioritize” is also a great point.  When I first got to Ruder Finn, it felt like everyone was giving me different projects and that I would never get them all finished.  Once I learned to do the most important things first and save the routine projects for when I had time, I began to get things done really quickly and was able to take on more and more.

If I could add anything to I’d say that you should get to know as much as you can about the client and the project, even if you’re just told to make a media list.  When I first started working I’d get all these assignments that seemed really random and that I couldn’t put in context.  I think it’s really helpful to research the client and then ask your boss about the work you’re doing for that client.  That way if you get stuck on something you can ask intelligent questions.

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T-minus seven months until graduation…

Although I am not the type of person who particularly enjoys school and lives for classroom learning, I might rather be doomed to being a student for the rest of my life than have to think about what I am going to be doing this time next year.  But more school is not an option for me at this point for several reasons, so I have to buckle down and figure this out.

I was browsing through the public relations page on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, hoping to find the answers to all my career questions.  However, I quickly realized the Federal government isn’t too concerned with giving every soon-to-graduate-and-freaking-out-about-it 22-year-old career advice.  And when I really think about it, I am not yet desperate enough to take career advice from the Federal government.  But in any case, being a big fan of numbers, it was nice to read the statistics.

The stats are from 2006, so a little bit out of date, but good enough.  The current economic situation probably means they are no longer totally accurate, but I tend to assume an “-ish” after numbers to make up for economic turbulence.  Apparently in 2006 there were 243,000ish people working in public relations and the BLS is saying that by 2016 there will be 286,000.  For us soon-to-graduate types, that is good news.  The industry is growing, so if we are willing to work hard there is a place for us.  That being said, the Feds dutifully report that ” keen competition is expected for entry-level jobs”.  Luckily for us Loyola kids, we have been told that from day one and we are expected to have internships in order to give us a leg up over said competition.

The rest of the page talked about qualifications and advancement in the public relations industry, all information I already had a good grasp on.  What I have concluded after reading through the page is that I should not be worried about finding a job in public relations.  Jobs are definitely out there and I know what I have to do to find one.  Realistically, I (and most of my fellow students who are soon to graduate) am just worried about committing to the “real world”.  Bottom line,we all have to make that leap sooner or later.  The fact that I am graduating with a degree in public relations gives me a tangible skill set that will work to my advantage in whatever field I choose to work in.  Time to man up and jump in!

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Why I’m going to like my internship.

This semester I have my first internship at Ruder Finn.  When I was doing the mandatory pre-interview research on the company, I came across a message from chairman and founder, David Finn.  I really liked what he had to say about public relations and the role he thinks it should play in shaping the future.  He points out that public relations professionals have many of the skills necessary to help improve understanding in the global world; good public relations people are great communicators and skilled at situation analysis.  These two skills play an obvious role in global relations and are skills that make public relations professional truly valuable.

I think this is exactly the reason I became interested in public relations in the first place.  While I can usually write myself off as being young and idealistic, it is nice to hear that a seasoned public relations professional can hold the same optimism about the industry.  Reading David Finn’s letter made me excited about starting my career in public relations and really excited about working for Ruder Finn.

I don’t necessarily expect the research I was doing today on health care trade publications in Mexico to improve the world in any way.  I do, however, expect that if I work really hard now, while I’m on the low end of the public relations food chain, that I will eventually be able to work my way up to a position in which I can help bring about actual change in some small way.  From my young, inexperienced perspective that is what makes a career in public relations both exciting and challenging.

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