Common-Freaking-Courtesy

John Wagner of On Message posts today about how NOT to look for a job. His experience is just an example of the lack of common courtesy that is all too common.

Another example – last week, the managers of the student-run PR agency at the Univ. of Oregon conducted interviews and “hired” for Spring term (students don’t get paid, but all are treated as agency employees and the students can get credit).

After doing nearly 20 interviews, the 8 hires were called and congratulated and those who weren’t hired were also called. One student who was not hired proceeded to question the manager on her decision. The manager told that her best advice would be for the student to work on her professionalism – being sure to dress appropriately for an interview and coming to the interview prepared.

Rather than saying, “thank you. I will work on that and when I apply again in the fall, hopefully I’ll be a better candidate,” she said, “well, why did I have to dress up if you weren’t dressed up?!” Hmmm… what seems to be lacking. Oh! I know! Common courtesy (and that “professionalism” the manager mentioned).

And now, this student has damaged – one might even say destroyed – her chances of being hired in the future.

Use common courtesy! You’re not entitled to networking opportunities, being hired at a student agency (or any job) just because you’re wonderful, fabulous you. PR is a small world and word travels fast.

Career Links for Soon-to-be Grads

It’s usually about this time of the year that seniors start panicking, er, I mean, thinking about their future after graduation.

I’ve come across a couple of good posts today for students figuring out where they want to go with their career (and how):

Forward 10: Ways to Effortlessly Network for Business and Pleasure
The new professionals at Forward offer some great tips for networking – a necessary part of not only the job search, but a public relations career.

Informational Interviews…Should you ask for one?
I’ve always encouraged students to set up informational interviews (sorry, Heather!). I really appreciate this perspective and think that it really adds more value to events that the University of Oregon School of Journalism sponsors like the Portland Paddle (structured informational interviews for advertising and PR students). And the portfolio reviews with professionals that I arrange at the end of the PR Campaigns class.

My favorite ads: Superbowl 2007

The “Heart Attack” ad is a first from King Pharmaceuticals, which is sponsoring the American Heart Association’s high blood pressure Web site. The ad is also a first for the Superbowl by Glow Worm, a Publicis Health Care Groupe.

The Chevy college ad competition winner was probably the funniest commercial of the day. Yay for good student work. Laugh out loud funny!

And Prince rules. He is one sexy little man. I am dying to go to 3121.

The Rise of the Blogger.

Guest Post from Erica Harbison, Waggener Edstrom and member of the PRos in Training “advisory board”

It’s almost a new year – perfect time to resolve to learn more about blogging and bloggers.

So you’ve been hearing a lot about the rise in influence and importance of bloggers, eh? I’m here to tell you that from a PR perspective, what you’re seeing and hearing is true.

Bloggers are here to stay for the foreseeable future and they (we) are powerful. I say “we” because if you haven’t gotten on the blog bandwagon by now, you’re already behind. Being a blogger, as Kelli has evangelized many times before, is the first step in knowing how to reach bloggers. If you’re driving a PR campaign, it’s nearly always appropriate to think about how to reach include bloggers in your strategy.

Your first piece of homework is to research bloggers who are writing about your client / product / industry. How do I do this, you say? Check out Technorati as a first stop. As you do this, take note of who the bloggers are. Where do they live? What are they saying? What blogs do they read and link to? What seems to influence them, and what bloggers or media outlets are linking to them? Besides the average joe blog sites, are you finding sites maintained by pundits in a particular area (e.g. marketing, technology, sports, etc)? In most cases, these should be your target blog audience.

Now reaching bloggers via traditional PR tactics is a tricky business. They are not like reporters who want to be “pitched.” The rules are completely different. The agency I work for has been trying out different strategies to reach these guys and it seems to be working (hosting special blogger-only events and organizing suites for bloggers to post/podcast at tradeshows). The key thing with bloggers is they don’t want to be PR’d. Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • Like traditional press, always know what they write and their slant before outreaching.
  • When you contact a blogger, whether its via posting a comment to their recent blog entry or in the way of a “buddy mail” (essentially an email pitch), keep it casual. Establish yourself and your client with the blogger before coming on too strong.
  • Don’t offer interviews with your spokesperson. Bloggers are not like traditional press. Interviews should be organized only if you feel very confident that you will not be putting your client at risk for a bad experience. Remember, bloggers can write what ever they want; no one is editing/reviewing. There is always a risk for bad “press” when dealing with bloggers.
  • Does your target blogger seem to have a favorite news site? Plan to place a story about your client on this site to get your blogger’s attention. He/she may end up linking to it, or better yet, writing a stand-alone blog post about your news. This is a great way to extend your media relations efforts.

I could go on and on, but that’s probably enough for now to get you started. Happy blogging (and blog reading).

photo: Kelli & Erica, January 2006

Be-attitudes For PR Students in 2007

With the new year, comes a new term and a new chance for students of all kinds to think about how to be better.

1. Be Curious: Read, ask questions, find out everything you can about your chosen profession. In public relations that means reading the industry blogs (I recommend Communication Overtones, PR Squared and On Message), paying attention to industry news (PR Tactics, PR Week and Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog), talking to local professionals in your community and being an avid consumer of media.

2. Be Engaged: Beyond curiosity, engage your mind. What are the greater implications of what you’re reading, listening to or talking about?

3. Be Empathetic: To succeed in public relations, you must be able to put yourself in another’s shoes. Practice now! How did your teammate come to that conclusion? If you were a member of a particular target audience, how would a company or organization reach you? As a client, how often would you want a report and what information would be important?

4. Be Active: Active involvement in pre-professional organizations is an excellent way to be involved on your campus and in your community and make connections for your future at the same time. At the University of Oregon, PR students are involved in PRSSA and Allen Hall Public Relations, the student-run public relations agency.

Start your own blog, make connections via social networks like MySpace or Facebook. Find a new site like Zaadz, 43things or even Dogster.

5. Be Responsible: Your actions, your education and, yes, your grade are your responsibility. Your instructors (hopefully) provide the direction and the tools. But if you’re serious about your education and your future career, personal responsibility is essential. If you need help, get it. If you have a question, ask.

6. Be Confident: As you mature into a young professional, trust your instincts and your ability to find a great internship, offer counsel to your brother’s friend’s start-up company and generally do good work. The balance, of course, is to be confident and humble. Know when you are in over your head and get help.

7. Be Passionate!: The beautiful thing about choosing a career in public relations is that you can find the industry that makes you passionate about communicating. Maybe it’s performing arts? Or high-tech? For me, it’s nonprofit work and social change. Find your passion and shout it from the rooftops!

In 2007 these six “be-attitudes” will be, in many ways, easier. We have greater access to information and resources that help us achieve to our maximum potential.

This post is part of the ProBlogger group writing project.

Toss the Powerpoint? But How Will I Know What to Say?

Leo Bottary, one of my favorite bloggers, offers 10 tips for agencies pitching new business. His tips, as always, are terrific. And even though I don’t do a lot of new client pitching on a scale that would require a formal “presentation” – I am responsible for an inordinate number of presentations on a weekly basis. Comes with the territory of being a university instructor, right?

So, taking Leo’s tips and applying them, not only to business pitches, but to my lectures, I find myself coming up a little short. I fear I may be responsible for a large number of presentation sins.

From PRos in Train…

My favorite tip:

  1. Engage in an actual conversation. Toss the PowerPoint. Get to know one another. Everyone thinks capabilities are about qualifications. Maybe it’s actually about capabilities. Are you capable of being fun, likeable, smart, funny, human, etc.? Would I want to spend two hours with you in a car? Or would I likely jump out of the moving vehicle

Now, in my defense, in a class of 100+ students, engaging in actual conversation is very difficult. However, in my senior seminars – with 16 – 20 students – can easily be directed with conversation, not PowerPoint.

Rather than my capabilities, as an instructor, I would tend to focus on specific skills or the golden nuggets of knowledge that I need to impart to these sponge-like minds that sit before me. Sure, my students have a need to know. But there are ways to accomplish the course objectives by collaborating and joining in a conversation – can I practice the “two-way symmetrical” model that I teach?

I am jazzed about next term (starting January 8), not just to improve my lecturing skills but I get to teach a brand new class. That, to me, is usually a good motivator. I’m always up for a challenge.

How to get a job in PR

I was updating my blogroll and cruising around some new PR-related blogs this evening and came across this post. It’s an “oldie,” but a goodie – and worth bookmarking.

From Morgan McClintic at LEWIS (current employer of Sharon Howell, UO ’06) talks about what he looks for in a new hire. He has some great tips.

A highlight is his description of the type and number of internships you should have. When students ask, I’m always reluctant to be specific, so I will let Morgan do it for me:

Internships – the definition of internship varies by country – in some it’s just a few weeks, in others months. Regardless of the length, get at least two different internships before applying for your final role. This will help you decide if PR is really for you – it’s not all champagne and parties. It’ll also give you a feel for the tasks you’ll be charged with, whether you like agency or in-house, and which industry you like. You’ll also learn more about which firms are the good ones to work with when it comes to applying for positions.

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