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Career, Life, Tips,

Work from Home, Remote Learning… Whatever You Call It, Spring 2020 PR Campaigns Has the Tips

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To start this bizarro-world term, I had students in my Spring 2020 PR Campaigns class spend some time thinking about how to set themselves up for success. Like it or not, working from home is going to be our new normal… even when things get back to normal.

I shared a handful of resources & then asked each student to find another that they found helpful to add to the list.

First, I’ll share my list. I wanted to both find practical tips, but also help them see that this term is a great time to build some skills in working from home… and honestly, that’s it’s not a fad. Much of the work we do in PR and comms is either already done remotely or easily could be.

Now for my students’ finds (and their comments about why they’ve shared a particular article or resource). You could consider this a master list of tips and ideas, to be sure! Also: Forbes in killing it in either good advice or good SEO… probably a bit of both.

10 Quick Tips To Create A Home Office You’ll Actually Want To Work In (Fast Company)

  • I’m sharing this article about how to make an at-home office space because I think it’s important to have a workspace that minimizes distractions and gives you a space to feel the most productive. – Suzie G.
  • I’m sharing this article about how to create an at-home working space that is separate from your living space and will allow you to be productive. – Hannah M. 

A Simple Trick for Staying Focused While Working From Home (Mental Floss)

  • This article stuck out to me because it addresses the overwhelming amount of distractions (social media, roommates, Netflix, etc). The author suggests that the most important tip for staying focused while working from home is to create a contract with yourself, which I think could be very beneficial. – Hannah C.

How To Stay Productive Under Quarantine (Forbes)

  • I enjoyed this article because I really liked what was said about mental and emotional health. This is obviously a time that is making everyone a little more on edge, so I think it’s important to practice self-care and do what’s best for yourself to stay happy and healthy. – Elise H.

How To Work From Home (Life Kit from NPR)

  • I want to share this article because it mentions the importance of technology in a tough time. It is the most effective way to keep communication with the outside world. Since most physical stores(including telecoms) are closing now, we need to repeatedly check our internets and other devices to ensure they are working in order. – Andy P.
  • I’m sharing this article because it ties in similar strategies like the ones above, such as being able to claim your own space and set your boundaries with those you might be quarantined with. – Savannah K.
  • This NPR article gives you 8 really good and concise tips on how to work from home and I found it really helpful! – Cole K

Josie Ruff 

Working from home with spouse: 7 tips to make it work (CNN)

  • This article is about how to work from home with a spouse, but a lot of the tips can work for family members, roommates or significant others who many of us may be quarantined with. We may usually be excited about the prospect of getting a day with them, but months on end can strain any relationships so setting up some rules may be really helpful. – Josie R.

5 Ways to Manage Stress During the Coronavirus Outbreak (Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic)

  • This article offers five clear, simple ways to manage personal stress during this pandemic. I appreciate these suggestions because stress management is a key to success; I  am  more productive when I’m not stressed out, so finding ways to keep ourselves calm and collected will be helpful throughout this term. – Jodi A.

9 Tips For People Taking Online Classes (Forbes)

  • The article offers helpful tips for students to adapt to remote education, some of which I had not even thought about myself such as the advice for optimizing my internet. – Lorenzo C.

3 Productivity Tips From Work-From-Home Veterans (Forbes)

  • I’m sharing this link because it’s very authentic. A lot of people are writing about this topic and giving their opinions given society’s new way of life, but the employees referred to in this article have done it for years and offer good advice. – Regan H.

7 Tips for Working Remotely During the COVID-19 Crisis (Dice)

  • I found this article entitled 7 Tips For Working Remotely During Covid-19. I am going to share this because I am going to write these 7 steps in my planner notes to remind me that remote work is achievable and I can be successful during this time if I create a set schedule for myself. – Caitlin E. 

Easy Recipes to Cook During Your Coronavirus Self-Quarantine – The New York Times  

  • These are not the healthiest recipes (there’s a lot of baking!) but they use a lot of items that can be easily found in a pantry. – Sara E.

5 Tips To Balance Remote Working While Your Family Is Also At Home (Forbes)

  • Trying to work from home while balancing family priorities is a new challenge. I liked this article from Forbes sharing how to balance different relationships at home while still making time to get your work done. – Kelsey F. 

Coronavirus: How to work from home, the right way (BBC Worklife)

  • I thought this article was really interesting.  It helped me think of ways to stay productive and positive while at home! – Emma S. 

The Ultimate Working From Home Guide (Investopedia)

  • I like this article because it covers all of the aspects of working from home and how to execute them successfully. – Ashley H.  

Work From Home Tips for the Coronavirus Quarantine (Staffbase Blog)

  • I really liked this article because it is very applicable to this class and how we can be successful in our teams! It talks about staying connected to your co workers,  having clear communication, outlining expectations etc. – Maddy F. 

Coronavirus: Mental Health Coping Strategies (NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness)

  • I think assessing one’s mental health is already necessary, but even more so with coronavirus. A little unrelated to resources for at-home productivity, but definitely essential for getting through your day and staying healthy in the long run. – Alexa M. 

People are sharing their best advice for working from home (Cosmo)

  • I liked this Cosmo article because it provided people’s actual experiences from their “home offices”, so you get real feedback about what works and what might be helpful to you too. – Gracyn E.
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Tips,

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.

Extinguished Candle On Dark
Life, Professional Advice, Tips,

Reigniting the Fire When You’re Burned Out

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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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Career, Networking, Professional Advice, Public Relations, Tips,

A Year-Long Plan for Senior PR Undergrads

[Updated September 2014]

 “When should I start applying for that internship?”

“Where do I start with my job search?”

“Do I need to be sending my resumes out now?”

There’s a point of recognition where the senior public relations major realizes that yes, barring any major gaffes, chances are good that they’re going to graduate and need to find a job. And then the panic sets in.

Senior year both flies by in a blink and seems to drag on forever at the same time.  Benchmarking a few key activities may help you create your own plan for prepping for graduation.

A quick note: University of Oregon is on the quarter system – we start the last Monday of September and finish mid-June, so this calendar may vary based on your University.

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Networking, Tips,

Asking for a LinkedIn Introduction

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LinkedIn is such a valuable tool for any job seeker, but for undergrads looking for informational interviews, networking connections or to research a potential company or interviewer, it really can’t be beat.

But using it well (and not annoying your connections) takes a little know how and some LinkedIn etiquette. I think no where is this more true that in asking for introductions.

LinkedIn allows you to reach out to people directly to make a connection (I always recommend adding a personal message about why you want to connect). However, using the “Get Introduced” feature, can help facilitate a connection and give you an edge.

So how does it work?

Start by finding someone you want to make a connection with. You can do this is many ways, but my two favorite (and most basic) are to a) search the connections of one of your contacts. If you’re connected to me, you have access to my 1500+ connections. You can sort by city (say you want to move to Los Angeles) or by company or a few other filters or b) search LinkedIn directly by name or company.

Look for second degree connections. That means just one person exists between you and them.

Recently, I did a company search for Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. A lot of our grads work at WaggEd and it’s the largest PR firm in the northwest. In doing that search, I found an account director to whom I had a second degree connection. I found her profile interesting because we have so many students with an interest in event planning — and that’s what she does for WaggEd clients. Neat.

So say I want to get connected to Megan. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Click on the arrow next to “Send InMail” to get the drop down options. The first says “Get introduced.” Choose that option.

linkedin-intro-screenshot 2. The next screen will show you all the people who you and the desired contact have in common. Turns out Megan and I have several mutual connections. Choose the one that you think would be most willing to “put in a good word” for you. I chose my friend, Erica, also an account director at WaggEd. She and I did our undergrad work together in the SOJC and I know she’d be willing to facilitate this connection for me.

I started with a note to Erica about why I wanted to connect with Megan.

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3. The final part is the most important. To make it easy breezy for Erica to forward my connection request with her own note, I finish the request with a note directly to Megan. Consider a mini cover letter. Why do you want to be introduced?

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 9.15.24 AM

 

That’s it! Take a read through, do a final edit and hit “Send Request.”

Erica will get a notice in her inbox that I’ve requested an introduction with the option to forward or decline.

Have you used this feature of LinkedIn before? Any tips beyond what I’ve offered here?

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Career, Professional Advice, Tips,

5 Ways to Spend Your Winter Break

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Classes are wrapping up at the University of Oregon and we’re all more than ready. I get the need to hibernate over the break. I intend to do some of that myself. But if you feel like getting a job start on the intern or job search, winter break can be a great time to focus. And if I know our PR students, they’re not likely to “hibernate” for long.

Some suggestions to make the most of your winter break:

Update your resume (and LinkedIn). Adding new positions, editing based on instructor or professional feedback, playing with the layout and design… Your resume is in a constant state of change at this stage in your pre-professional career. Make sure it’s up-to-date. While you’re at it, update your LinkedIn profile and add some new connections.

Work on your e-portfolio. An online home for your writing samples and resume is a must. If you already have an e-portfolio, take some time to update the materials. If you don’t have one, this is a great time to start. Finding a platform (I like WordPress) and uploading your favorite writing samples is a good start.

Read. Pick up a PR, social media or general business book. Or update your feed reader and find new blogs to follow. Catch up on your PR industry news and trends while you have some time. Yes, you can even read some fiction for fun. It’s ok! This summer reading list is still pretty relevant if you need some suggestions for books. You can also use my public Netvibes dashboard for PR, marketing and social media blogs to read.

Research. Research companies you want to work for, who their clients are, what kind of jobs are available while you have time to follow the Internet rabbit trails (and have fun doing it!). You can find some tips here to get started.

Do some informational interviews. If you’ve done some research, reach out to people working in PR and set up a time to chat over coffee. Info interviews are a great way to network and get to know the industry. An oldie, but a goodie… this post gives some great advice for informational interviews. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to work in your hometown, you can always get out and meet some people. PR is a small industry and you never know where a chat over coffee will lead.

What are your winter break plans?
Photo via Flickr by niznoz.
Fear in the Office
Media Relations, Tips,

Six Pieces of Media Relations Advice for the Newbies

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Heart racing, palms sweating… no, you’re not having a heart attack. You’re pitching your first story as an intern or entry-level pro. Whew! it can be nerve wracking, for sure. Through a good process, you can feel prepared and confident in your delivery.

  1. Know “why.” What’s the point of the media relations effort? What’s the big picture? How does this release, this pitch fit into what the client/company wants to accomplish? It’s ok to ask. You’re not just “smiling and dialing,” asking why can help you craft a better pitch, but also helps you understand the business of public relations and the media relations function.
  2. Know the story. Understand not only the primary story, but all the potential angles. You may not be able to pitch the primary story to every editor (in fact, you probably can’t).
  3. Create, refine and refine again your media list. An awesomely targeted and strategically refined media list is your golden ticket. This part is pretty freaking tedious, but it’s so important. Don’t let the tedium deter you. Tools like Cision and Vocus can help a lot if your organization has a subscription. If they don’t, there are a bunch of free or almost free tools… including your eyes and brain. If you understand the “why,” (see #1), you can be reading, watching and listening to the right sources and you’ll get to know who will be interested in your pitch. This takes time, so the computer-aided-search-tools are a nice boost, but don’t lean on them too hard. Know your organization’s industry.
  4. Write the pitch. If you’re emailing it, make sure the grammar is pristine, the message clear and that it’s SHORT. If you’re calling, make sure the grammar is pristine, the message clear and that it’s SHORT.
  5. Practice the pitch. Have colleagues read and listen to your pitch and give you feedback.
  6. Make the call! (or send the email). But really, you’re going to have to make the call at some point, even if your first pitch is via email.

I asked my friends via Twitter what advice they would give to newbies and, boy! did they have advice. Check it out. And follow these super smarties – some are vets and some are newbies themselves.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Bookgirl96/statuses/106815124261703680″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/JenJAshley/statuses/106816028138422272″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/mculpPR/statuses/106815993988386816″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/mculpPR/statuses/106815639099949056″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/JulieMa/statuses/106812944096047105″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/jpitts/statuses/106817252728389632″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/RACHELkoppes/statuses/106816629446410241″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/jenna_levy/statuses/106819096561192960″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/behindthespin/statuses/106831502993657856″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/KellysDavies/statuses/106832108646965249″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/ztzinthecity/statuses/106820662022250496″]

 

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/jamescrawford/statuses/106832389141037056″]

See James’ blog, too.

 

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/kevinkennedy320/statuses/106833121214865408″]

For even more tips & advice, check out my Delicious tag on media relations. And I’d love to hear what you think? What would you add?

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Professional Advice, Tips,

Setting New (School) Year Resolutions

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January, schmanuary. The real “new” year for those of us who are students and teachers is September. So as we all gear up to head back to the classroom, it’s time to set some new (school) year resolutions.

SWOT Yourself

Take an objective view – well, as objective as possible – about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal.

Strengths: What are you good at? What kinds of activities are a natural fit for you?

Weaknesses: What areas are more difficult for you to master? I’m not going to say “what can you improve on?” because that’s not always an effective use of your time. But are there specific skills that you need to add to your repertoire? Particularly tactics or skills that you want to learn?

I highly recommend a book called StrengthFinder 2.0. Take a little online quiz and get back your top 5 strengths. We did this last year with AHPR and it was eye-opening. You can read about it here.

Opportunities and threats are external.

Opportunities: What activities, events, programs can you take advantage of? Where can you gain the experience you need?

Threats: Where are the potentials for time sucks? What external factors can diminish your ability to achieve your goals?

Threats are tricky when you’re looking at yourself as a students. It might be a heavy class schedule, for example. You can’t really do anything about that, but you can be aware it’s coming and plan accordingly.

Thanks, @CBLangev for this suggestion.

Make a Plan

 


Now that you understand what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are, make a plan for making the most of the good and minimizing the impact of the not-so-good.

Some tips:

  • Start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? And what does that “end” look like?
  • Be realistic, but ambitious. You can’t do everything. You have to make strategic decisions about where your time will be best spent. Where is the best return on your time investment.
  • Have a good planner. Whether you need a written planner or an electronic version, make friends with your process and use it to stay organized. About.com has some nice (basic) tips for collge student calendar management.
  • Find tech tools that support your goals, and focus on those tools.  I’m a little bit notorious for giving a new tool or app a try, but not spending enough time with it to really integrate it into my schedule before I get distracted by the next shiny, new thing. Don’t do that.

Find Balance

You have to be able to balance school/academic work, extracurriculars, internships, volunteer opportunities and your social life (more on that in the next point). In a professional program like public relations, you really do have to look and think beyond the classroom – even in your in the honors college… even if you know you’re headed to grad school.

The challenge of course, is figuring out how to fit it all in. Refer to the aforementioned planner/calendar system. Find your process! It is possible to create balance when you know what your goal is and how you plan to get there. (Oh, look at that! All these fit together…!)

Thanks, @ColbyReade for this resolution.

Have Fun

You’re in college. Have fun! Find time to make what you do fun and to have a social life outside of the books and the work. I went through a goal setting process for myself recently and found that I was conflating “have fun” with “have a hobby.” I don’t have time for a serious hobby, but I do have time for fun.

And I have fun all the time. I think life is fun! And I find the fun in work, family time, vegging out in front of the TV… all those can be (and usually are) fun. So it doesn’t have to be BIG fun. But make sure you’re including time for you.

So there’s my list. They are all “big picture.” Tell me about what you have planned this year. What are your new (school) year resolutions?

Special thanks to my Twitter & Facebook friends for offering their suggestions! 

twitter-bird-2
Social Media, Tips, Twitter,

Brand-Tweeting-New: Tips for Twitter Newbies

We’re kicking off another year at the University of Oregon. I’m not teaching social media-focused classes this term, but I always encourage my students to tweet and use a hashtag for the course. This term you’ll likely see #J350 and #J453 tags from students. Because the classes aren’t social media oriented (although certainly infused), I don’t take time to “teach” Twitter. But I’m not under the illusion that it’s intuitive and doesn’t need to be demonstrated. It’s been awhile since a did a post with resources and tips for those new to the microblogging platform, so here you go!

Some of my favorite resources on Twitter basics

  • Twitter 101 for Business: Written by the folks at Twitter, this guide is a terrific how to on using Twitter professionally. For journalism students, you really do have to think about all social media in that way. You’re a professional communicator and all your communication should reflect that.
  • Twitter’s Twitter Basics: A helpful guide from Twitter that covers a wide variety of topics.
  • College Students Guide to Twitter: This has long been one of my favorite resources for Twitter. I’ve shared it many, many times.
  • 10 Ways Twitter is Use for PR Practitioners: An overview on the top 10 reasons PR pros can find Twitter useful.

Who to Follow

  • Twitter Starter Pack for PR Students – a list created by another professor of her recommended people to follow. You can follow everyone at once.
  • 100 PR People to Follow – another list based on a blog post that identified the top 100 people in PR to follow. The two lists will have some overlap.
  • WeFollow.com – A handy directory of Twitter uses categorized by tag.

More Tips

  • Give Twitter at least 30 days & aim to follow and be followed by at least 100 people. Thirty days because Twitter is not intuitive – it takes time to figure it out. And the 100 following/follower level forces you to think outside your physical/offline networks and connect with new people.
  • Participate in chats: There are a few Twitter chats either specifically geared toward students or are particularly useful. Top 10 chats for PR & Marketing professionals. That list doesn’t include two that are specifically targeted at student and young professionals, so check out #PRStudChat and more about #u30PR0.

What are some of your favorite Twitter basics tips or resources?

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Social Media, Tips,

My Top 5 Shortcuts: #4 Use a Smartphone

This is a quick tip, but an important one. See tip 1 on feedreaders, 2 on creating a process and 3 on using twitter, too!

If you’re in communications – get a smart phone. For real. It doesn’t have to be an iPhone. Just get a smart phone.

A quick scan of Twitter or Facebook, a timely update to your Tumblr or blog, even being able to handle an urgent situation are all possible from the palm of your hand. Knowing I can “hear” if someone is talking to me (or a client) saves me a ton of time.

It’s also not all about social media specifically, but for generally being productive and saving myself time.

Applications I use to help:

  • Twitter for iPhone
  • Tweetdeck for iPhone (yes, I use 2, I monitor a bunch of accounts)
  • Facebook with all the Pages for which I’m an admin bookmarked.
  • Tumblr for posting photos (this is a personal outlet for me)
  • WordPress (although I rarely use it, I have it set up if I need to)
  • LinkedIn (again, not often used, but you never know!)

Other productivity apps I use:

  • Harvest (my time tracker. If it’s on my phone, I can track my time on the fly.)
  • TeuxDeux (my favorite list maker, to do list builder)
  • Huddle (my project management/coordination program)

Do you have any apps you use to help manage social media (or your life)? I’d love to hear about them!

photo by K!T



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