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Making the Most of Office Hour Meetings with Me

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I truly enjoy meeting with students. One-on-one chats provide time to explain a confusing topic, go over feedback on an assignment or just chat about career (or life) goals. And everyone’s time is valuable – your time as a student, my time as faculty member and a PR pro.

I ask students to make appointments with me using an online calendar system because it helps me manage my schedule and be more available and present for students.

Telecommunication Digital Device Networking Concept

Do You Know Anyone At….? LinkedIn Research Tips

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We’re in the thick of job & internship season. LinkedIn can be your best friend for researching contacts, companies and opportunities.

The most frequent question I get is “do you know anyone at XYZ organization?” With a little research via LinkedIn, you can answer this Q and ask instead, “I see you’re connected to this alumni, can you help connect us?”

Advanced search filters are your friend! Here’s how to use them:

  • Enter the company name in the search bar at the top of the screen and find the company’s page on LinkedIn
  • Check out that right side info. It’ll tell you if you have a contact there (or in this case, 32 contacts).
  • If you have contacts, you can click on that line to see who you know. You can narrow by location — in this case, I’m interested in who I know at Edelman in Seattle.
  • Then narrow to alumni. #OnceADuckAlwaysADuck

And voila! You’ll end up with a nicely refined list.

But what if you don’t have any contacts at the company? A common dilemma when you’re just starting to build your network.

In that case, click on the number of total employees and refine with the search filters.

In this case, I’m looking for 2nd degree contacts, who are also alumni of the University of Oregon, and work at Logical Position in Portland. Take note of the search filters across the top.

This search gives me 34 people. Under each person there’s a small line that says how many shared connections we have. If I was interested in connecting with anyone on that list, I have two options:

  • First, ask a mutual connection to make an e-introduction or provide an email address. This can be helpful if there’s a specific opportunity you’re applying for. You can say, “Kelli, I see you’re connected to XYZ on LinkedIn. I’m applying for an internship there. Would you mind making an email intro so I can ask a few questions or get some tips for my application.”
  • Second, reach out myself! Click that connect button and send a note that says something like, “I’m a soon-to-be-grad of the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon and excited to launch my career in Portland. I’m building my network of fellow alums who work in public relations/marketing/advertising in the area.” This is a powerful way to build your network and connect with alumni.

Don’t be shy! Ducks love helping Ducks.

Looking for more tips? LinkedIn has a great guide for college students with lots of how-tos and tutorials.

Career, Networking, Professional Advice,

I Went on an Agency Tour! Now What?

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More than 50 public relations Ducks spent two days in San Francisco meeting with agencies and PR teams. It was two days of soaking up all the info, walking all the miles and meeting so many alumni and friends. 

Our PR Ducks are lucky to have the opportunity to participate in several experiential learning opportunities — Golden Gate Ducks (San Francisco), Windy City Ducks (Chicago) and quarterly professional development tours with our Public Relations Student Society of America chapter

So, what’s next? Take advantage of all the learning done and connections made: 

OutCast Agency
  • Take a minute and capture your key takeaways. Review your notes, reflect on the experience, write a short blog post for your own blog or as a guest blog for a student group, a professor or your school. (Note: I’d be happy to host a blog here!) 
  • Connect to the people you met on LinkedIn. When you ask to connect, leave a short note that says when you met and thank them for their time/expertise/inspiration. The Muse has some advice about connecting with people.
  • Follow-up more directly with your priority contacts. Send a handwritten card or a thank you email that calls out your specific interest in their organization. Not sure what to say? Here’s some advice. 
  • Set up Google Alerts for your priority agencies/companies and their clients. When a client gets a piece of coverage or some exciting news, you can follow up again with your contact and congratulate or ask about how the campaign worked. 
  • Try out the specific advice that your connections offered. For example, several panels mentioned things like read relevant media every morning or practice your writing. Find a way to build that into your routine! 
The SalesForce “Ohana” Floor

Our SOJC alumni and friends are so generous with their time and energy! Make the most of the visit with a few simple steps. Have others to add! Share with me.

Office buildings

Guest Post: Five Takeaways from #GoldenGateDucks

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Kelli’s Note: Jillian was one of 33 students who went with Instructor Courtney Munther and me to San Francisco in early December. I was impressed by her preparedness, smart questions and overall professionalism during the trip. In fact, I’ve been pretty impressed with all my interactions with Jillian. Man, we have great students! I’m happy to share her five takeaways here. 


A few weeks ago, I was lucky to have the opportunity to travel to San Francisco with fellow UO students to tour PR agencies and communications branches of companies. I left inspired, starry-eyed, and a tad intimidated. But most of all, I left with some key advice:

1. Opportunity only knocks once.

When an opportunity presents itself, take it. You should try everything once. This will help you become versed in numerous disciplines. This attitude will not only help you at work, but in life.

2. Not every question has an answer.

When a supervisor asks you to research something, ask them how long they want you to spend and what they expect you to find. If you have spent an hour looking for something with no success, it may not be there to find. Ask for help, but accept defeat when necessary.

3. ESP

  • Eye contact
  • Smiling/nodding
  • Paraphrasing a question when you answer

(These are key qualities to focus on in interviews to seem more personable.)

4. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Don’t compare yourself to others. At your age, no one really knows what they’re doing. Anyone can portray themselves differently from who they really are. You never know someone else’s truth.

5. Never burn a bridge.

It’s a small world. You never know who from your past could connect you to your next job.

Jillian Niedermeyer is a University of Oregon junior majoring in public relations and media studies. She is originally from Portland. She is currently a member of the PRSSA Bateman Competition team, working for Allen Hall Public Relations as an account executive and trying to catch up on much needed sleep. You can find her on LinkedIn


Q & A with Paige Jepson of Allison + Partners Scottsdale

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Kelli’s Note: I recently (re)connected with Paige Jepson (’15) and asked her if she’d be willing to share a bit about her experience as an account coordinator at Allison + Partners in Scottsdale, Arizona. Huge thanks to Paige for taking the time to respond and offer her advice. By the way, if you would like to participate in a future Q&A, let me know! 

Tell me about Allison + Partners in Scottsdale. What’s your role, what clients do you work on? 

Located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, the Phoenix office houses close to 30 employees and is the third largest Allison + Partners office in the world.

Our team works with clients big and small, spanning such industries as automotive, healthcare, hospitality, sports, technology and consumer goods. Our office is home to the agency’s Research + Insights team and Hispanic marketing group (Nuestra Voz), working with clients such as Toyota and Dignity Health.

My role as an Account Coordinator is to provide general support to my team. It really depends on the account (and the day), but my work consists of taking the first draft at media relations materials, managing client’s social media pages, participating on internal and client meetings, staffing events, managing influencer relations, reporting, staying up-to-date on local and national media trends and industry trends, and presenting speaking opportunities for spokespeople to name a few!

My accounts have changed throughout my year and a half at A+P. Especially as an intern, I would touch accounts that I wasn’t a main member of to gain experience in different industries, but my current clients are below:

  • Toyota
  • StrataTech Education Group
  • Superfly’s Lost Lake Festival
  • Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Partnerships with Native Americans

What activities were you involved with at UO? Any big “lessons learned” from those activities? (ex: AHPR or a sorority)

I was involved with a sorority at UO – Alpha Phi! I helped organize our annual philanthropy event, which gave me event planning experience that has proven to be helpful.

The biggest lesson I learned would be time management. In college, I had to work on my time management when it came to balancing my workload (I graduated a year early so I was consistently taking 18+ credits per term) and my sorority.

In an agency setting, it is crucial you know how to prioritize and communicate with your teams. Deadlines are a real thing, they aren’t often extended, and with announcements that come at a drop of a hat, it is important you know what to move around and who to communicate with so nothing falls off the radar.

What assignments or projects from your classes have been most valuable in your career so far? 

So many! Our research course was incredibly valuable. Sometimes there will be a period when your client doesn’t have any new news, so it is important that even if you aren’t the one conducting a survey, that you can make suggestions as to what facts and tidbits would be interesting to a reporter and know what types of questions you might need to ask in order to get the information you want.

Our strategic writing class (J352) was probably the most valuable. It forced me to memorize AP style and taught me how to write press-facing materials.

Strategic communications allows you to see an entire plan built out and understand how it all works together.

The weekend portfolio class. In this class, we learned how to be storytellers, but sometimes it can be difficult to tell our own stories. In an interview or a new business pitch, the way you talk about yourself and your work is important.

You’ll stand out if you get in the habit of using the STAR approach (which you’ll learn in that class). Additionally, when a candidate comes in with examples of their work and can talk to it, it really makes them stand out.

As an account coordinator at an agency, what advice would you give juniors and seniors thinking about their post-grad life? 

  • Take the time to refine your skill set.
  • Keep up-to-date on media trends and start to form relationships with journalists.
  • Get in the habit of solving problems. People will appreciate when you offer solutions right off the bat and would much rather listen to someone who has ideas on how to solve problems, rather than someone who just simply presents the problem.

I understand you’ve been participating in internship interviews! Any big takeaways from that experience that you’d share? 

I’ve been sitting in on internship interviews to answer any questions candidates may have about what to expect from the internship and agency life in general. A few things I would suggest are:

  • Bring a portfolio or examples of your work: Showing an example of your work and telling the story with the situation, tactics, action and results is important
  • Writing samples: It is always good to be able to showcase your writing
  • A notepad: Come with questions and take notes during the interview. It shows you are genuinely interested and passionate.
  • Thank you!: Everyone appreciates a thank you!

What is the Scottsdale PR community like? Are there opportunities for young professionals? 

Scottsdale doesn’t have any societies or local chapters that I am aware of, but Phoenix does have an IABC and PRSA chapter which represents all of the Valley!

I am actually planning to attend the 14th Annual Valley Publicity Summit in Phoenix next month! The Society of Professional Journalists presents the event, bringing together a roomful of locally based journalists who will share insights, give their story pitch preferences and industry updates with area public relations practitioners.

Anything else you want to share? 

I think informational interviews are so important. I moved back to Arizona after I graduated, and knew not one person in the industry. I heard about the internship opportunity through an informational interview I had done at another agency who was not hiring at the time 


Rubber ducks floating down the water in the summer

Make the Most of Your Summer

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We’re about mid-way through summer break at the University of Oregon. With just a few weeks to go, I’ve been starting to think about how to make the most of my time before we’re back in class. I have a light schedule, but a long to do list with class prep, personal projects and catching up on family time.

If you’re a student or recent grad, how can you make the most of your summer? I have a few suggestions:

Update your resume: I’ve had to update my own resume this summer and I wish I hadn’t waited so long! Spend some time this summer adding your recent experience, making sure to focus on accomplishments and results. Make sure you update your LinkedIn profile, too. While you’re at it, why not update your online portfolio?

Do some informational interviews: Regardless of where you are in the world, spend some time doing informational interviews. Find a PR pro near you and ask if you can buy them a coffee and talk about their path and what advice they have for a young professional. Informational interviews lack the stakes of a “real” interview, so you can just have a conversation. You never know who you’ll meet that can help you find your next internship or first job.

You could even spend a day doing this if you’re traveling this summer — what a unique opportunity to spend an hour with a PR pro in Italy, Israel, Greece or Mexico!

Need some help figuring out what to do? Figure out how to set one up and what to ask.

Read: Read newspapers, read books, read magazines, read blogs… just read!  Need some inspiration? 25 books for  your summer reading list from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog; 12 blogs you should be reading; 20 people you should follow on Twitter (most of whom write things you can read!).

Attend a professional association meeting: Find your local PRSA, IABC or American Marketing Association chapter and attend a meeting. Most offer student discounts and often have great speakers. Another opportunity to learn something and do a little networking.  Note that some areas don’t have official national chapters, so you may have to look for a local option.

Learn a new skill: We can’t possibly cover every tool, app, tech thing or concept in classes. But there are plenty of options for learning new skills — and in some cases, even coming away with a certification. My colleague Karen Freberg has a wonderful list of options from Hootsuite, Hubspot and Google Analytics (and more). Or take a stroll through and find something that piques your interest. (Remember that UO students have free access.)

Volunteer: TBH, this is my favorite piece of advice. Volunteering can not only fill your time, but also help you make great connections and even build your portfolio! If you have a favorite cause or a favorite nonprofit, contact the volunteer coordinator or development department and ask if you can help a few hours a week writing web copy, contributing to social media or supporting an event. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at a site like VolunteerMatch — search by city or by cause or by skills. You can even find remote opportunities that could have you working for a global NGO.

Oh, and if you’re a senior, make sure you read my year-long plan for senior PR undergrads.

I’d love to hear your ideas! If you’re a student, how are you spending your summer? If you’re already a pro, what advice do you have for your up-and-coming colleagues?


water balloon fight
Just For Fun,

Why I Participate in Photo Challenges

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I’ve fancied myself a pretty good amateur photographer for a couple of years. I have the gear I need and I love taking photos. Sometimes I have plenty of reasons to do so, but then other times I go for long stretches without an excuse to feed my inner shutterbug.

Photo challenges are a great way to force myself to get out and take new photos. I look at other photographers’ work to be inspired to make better photos. The bonus is by participating in a couple of Facebook groups, I also  see a glimpse of people’s lives from around the world.

Heron at Delta Ponds

365 (+1) Days in Nature Weekly Theme: Greenery

365 (+1) Days in Nature (Facebook) is exactly what you might expect. Nature photos. In fact, the group rules say that your photos should have few (if any) man made elements. There’s a weekly theme, photos are generally very high quality and the participants are from all over the world.

playing in smoke bomb smoke

Photo 365 Prompt: Never a Dull Moment

365 Photo (Facebook) is probably my favorite group. Like many photo challenges, there’s a new list published each month with a prompt a day. The quality of photos varies from very amateur or professional. The moderators choose a set of “top shots” for each prompt, which is a nice recognition for a good photo.

FMS Photo a Day (Facebook & Instagram) is the first photo challenge I participated in on Instagram. I found Instagram to feel less like a community than the Facebook group, but both lists use the same list. Photos vary widely with the top picks for each day’s theme typically very high quality. But  scroll through the feed and you’ll find plenty of snapshots in the mix, too.

ClickinMoms (Instagram) is pretty kid-focused, but even if you’re not a mom, you may have young siblings or spend time with kids in your life. I love the photos the feed features; I get so many great ideas for photo composition and editing with my own kids. There’s a monthly prompt/theme list.

It’s My Week (Instagram) is a new one to me, but I love the way the moderators showcase the theme and the photos. Each week has a new theme and the featured photos are lifestyle/editorial in style (not obviously staged or posed).

FMS Photo a Day Prompt: Blue

FMS Photo a Day Prompt: Blue

Or, if you don’t want to be bound by someone else’s theme, you can try a photo challenge that gives you a little more flexibility. Two that I’ve seen on Instagram are:  #100HappyDays and the #365Project.

What do you think? How do you keep your creative muscles active?


Great White Sharks

No Social Media Plan Puts Your Company at Risk

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“Build it and they will come” is Hollywood fantasy, not social media reality. To grow and engage an audience, build relationships and create conversations takes sustained focus, constant attention and a strategic plan.

Social media are not free. This mindset is a barrier to creating an effective social media strategy and leaves an organization vulnerable to all sorts of problems. Managing, maintaining and evaluating social media channels takes time – a lot of it.

One of the biggest risks of not having a plan is that an organization isn’t able to allocate the right resources.

I totally get it. In small business and nonprofits, particularly, resources are tight. It’s common for an employee (and often a junior-level employee) to be given the responsibility of managing an organization’s social media channels on top of other responsibilities.

So what happens if that person doesn’t have enough time – or the support, or the skills – to manage the organization’s platforms?

Questions may go unanswered, negative feedback or reviews may go unnoticed, content is low quality or inconsistent and the results are (at best) mediocre.

Languishing social media channels – abandoned Facebook Pages, dried up Twitter streams and deserted blogs – are almost always the result of lack of time and budget for social media management.

All of the great things that social media can bring to the table quickly become lost opportunities that can actually hurt your business. If social media is a priority, it’s crucial to identify and allocate resources to effectively manage, maintain and grow the channels.

Concept of fake threat when businessman float in paper ship and sharks in water appear to be goldfish

A solid plan won’t magically add time to the day (I wish!) But it can help budget resources that align with the internal capacity of staff or find the budget to outsource help.

Ready to create a plan? I found a few resources that will get you pointed in the right direction:


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Just For Fun, Social Media,

Getting Smart with Your Smart Phone

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Creating great content takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and effort. Every post, update, status or other online missive requires a good visual. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need expensive equipment or lots of training. Most of us are carrying a pretty good camera with us around in our pocket.

For my social media management workshop that I teach to incoming freshmen student athletes, we spent a day talking about smart phone photography. Here are my best tips:

Note: all photos in this slide deck are mine. Don’t use without permission.

Extinguished Candle On Dark
Life, Professional Advice, Tips,

Reigniting the Fire When You’re Burned Out


By July 16, I was a puddle. After a very busy spring term, a move to a new home after five years in our previous abode, travel to Chicago for a week with five PR students, teaching summer classes and lots of client projects, July 16 was the final day of my first summer workshop. Even though it was just a blimp, a (very) small milestone, it felt like a much needed end. After I left campus, I barely got off the couch for two days.

I realized as I shook off some of the fog of that crazy busy season was I was totally and completely burned out. I didn’t want to teach, I couldn’t get excited about client work and everything I was supposed to do felt like a giant drag. I wasn’t sleeping well at night, but wanted to sleep all day. My normal productivity is pretty high, but man, it was hard to get anything done. I spun my wheels. A lot. It’s taken me most of the summer to feel like I’m even remotely back on track.

It’s helped to set some boundaries (“I’m not going to be on campus this week, we’ll have to meet next week.”) and enjoy my time with my family. I’ve been reading a lot of advice from others on dealing with this state of mind and here are some of my favorite tips:

Do Only Three Things. I love this idea from an Entrepreneur article with a handful of “lesser known” tips. A big to do list can be totally overwhelming and when productivity is nil, it is impossible for me to get going. But committing to doing just three things a day for the next two weeks feels good. And a little momentum can go a long way. (I also like the “watch cartoons” advice in this article… I love cartoons.)

Create Outlets. Zen Habits suggests finding an outlet – maybe a side project or a hobby that can clear your mind. For me, it’s horses. I’ve also recently gotten involved with Stella & Dot as something completely different than everything else for me to focus on when I need a break. Sometimes “totally different” is a good thing.

Be Assertive. A PsychCentral post says to say “no” and don’t feel obligated to offer an excuse. Oh man, I’m bad at this one. But I’m working on it. I am saying “no” more often, but I totally try to explain myself. I was talked to our director of student advising just today and she was giving me a total out on speaking at an event and I still offered an explanation.

So I’m headed into the new academic year not feeling very motivated and inspired, but at the end of the day, I love my job and that matters a lot.

How about you? Ever felt burned out? How did you cope?

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