Setting New (School) Year Resolutions

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! 

Ducklings Take Flight! My Favorite Posts from Winter Term Students

My Strategic PR Communications students were immersed in blogging this term. In fact, they wrote a minimum of fifteen posts over the course of about eight weeks. And they did a great job. Keeping up that kind of schedule is demanding, as you bloggers know. I want to showcase some of my favorite posts from the term. I have at least one favorite from each student.

Best of the Best

These six students really took flight with their blogs. The posts I’ve selected here stand out as the very best.

Daniel McCrone had two great posts. Daniel’s a really good writer, so I encourage you to hang out on his blog and check out some of his other posts, but these were my two favorites:

In Twitter Symptoms May Vary, Daniel explores the five stages of twitter from an older post by Rohit Bhargava. And in Behind Every Success There are Hundreds of Failures, Daniel philosophizes a bit on the psychology of “dead week” and how the spectre of failure ultimately drives so many students to demand the best they have from themselves.

Rachel Koppes‘ post Recipe for Twitter Success is an insightful look at how to make the most of Twitter and be someone worth connecting with. Rachel strives to make each tweet “epic” (which I love!), but also finds ways to share her personality and make meaningful connections with people. Whether you’re brand new to Twitter or just want to refresh your thinking, this is a great post.

I love Mackenzie Davids‘ blog. I know from having her in class a couple of times that her love-hate relationship with social media has not kept her from jumping in and trying things out. So her post Social Networking Relationship Status: It’s Complicated was a perfect description of how Mackenzie, and many young professionals, struggle with how much to reveal and how to use these tools effectively.

Mackenzie had a second great post recapping her experience in the portfolio review process – Practice Makes Perfect. She gives some great advice by sharing what she learned. I can tell you from looking at the evaluations from her reviewers, that whatever she did, worked.

Caitlin Jarvis has a passion for nonprofits and helping them communicate more effectively. Her blog was a terrific platform for exploring this passion and digging into how nonprofits are using social media. It’s for students like Caitlin that this assignment really “clicks.” It was clear that she has a knack for blogging and she had some outstanding posts. I encourage you to read more from her blog, but my favorite of the bunch was her recap on the Red Cross’ “rogue tweet” – Going Rogue: Mistweets Happen. Caitlin went out of her way to connect with someone at the Red Cross on Twitter to provide an added perspective to her post.

I’m not much into sports – especially professional sports – but Nicole Hyslop knows her stuff and did an outstanding job of bringing PR into her discussions. One post I particularly liked was @ProfessionalAthletes: #PleaseRead. As you might guess from the clever headline (love it!), this is a post with some Twitter tips for the pros. She has four easy tips ostensibly for pros, but are really useful for even us mere mortals.

Andy Jenness, one of the grad students in the course this term, brings such a unique perspective to his blog. As an active member of the Grande Ronde tribe, Andy took his blog as the opportunity to apply the principles we talked about in class and explore other stuff on his mind. His post Tribal Ethics was an outstanding one to me. Andy ponders how, if at all, social media changes the way the Tribe needs to think about how its ethics standards (passed pre-social media) might need to change to include online behavior. Interesting food for thought.

Also Awesome

Every one of my students this term had stand out posts. Here are some more of my faves.

Like many seniors, Stephanie Sahaigan is excited and nervous about the job search. Her post, The Real World is Approaching, takes the advice from The Hiring Hub and applies it to what she’s thinking and feeling about post-graduation.

Heather Lee loves event planning and her blog focuses on that as a career aspiration. Her post Top Keys to Success in a Hard Market has some great advice whether you are a small business owner or, like Heather, are planning a career providing services to them.

Katie Brennan, the other grad student in the course, has a diversity of interests and used her blog to share them. I really liked this post about creativity in business – What Do You Know about Mr. W? (watch the video Katie links to, it’s great!).

If you review the students’ blogs, you’ll find lots of them talk about the dreaded job search. Crystal Barce does a good job recapping and applying six tips in her post Interview Tips Every PR Rookie Should Know. A tip post is good if the tips are applicable. Crystal show how to do just that.

Ayan Jama uses her blog to demonstrate her interest in integrated campaigns. Her post Pistachios Get Celebs Crackin was useful and insightful, showing how the PR team complements advertising and branding. The particular celebs on this campaign are pretty risky, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Ayan has some great insights.

I love music. My favorite parts of Julia Neff’s blog were her links to and video embeds of the music she loves – which ranges from Bluegrass to Dubstep. Julia also has some great PR and communications advice for musicians, too. In her post The Seven Deadly Sins of Playing a Live Gig, she riffs on another blog of a similar title and adds her own take. The advice isn’t necessarily intuitive, which makes Julia’s insights that much more valuable. You should also see her recommendations for Bluegrass tunes to turn your frown upside down.

Reality shows about PR make me cringe. A lot. Isabelle Morse-Dias shares her guilty pleasure and ponders Kell On Earth: Beneficial to the Industry?. Isabelle raises some good questions and while she may not have an answer, it’s clear that these shows are popular as much for the PR as for the glam industries they service (like high fashion). I have to say that Kell on Earth is not nearly as bad as PoweR Girls, that show was horrid.

In You Can Pay for School, But You Can’t Buy Class, Alaina Revoir talks about George Clooney, the celebrity statesman. She has an interesting perspective and ends by saying that she hopes her future will include work for an individual or company with a vision outside themselves.

Photo by Dave Briccetti

Ducklings in the Water! We Have New Student Bloggers

It’s that time again! My class of Strategic PR Communication students take to the water and launch their blogs. For many of them this term they’ve blogged before – although not on a topic of their choice, more of a multimedia journalism endeavor. So this is new territory!

If you have a moment, take some time to read a few and say hello (what blogger doesn’t like comments?).

Crystal Barce

Katie Brennan

Mackenzie Davids

Nicole Hyslop

Ayan Jama

Caitlin Jarvis

Andy Jenness

Rachel Koppes

Heather Lee

Daniel McCrone

Isabelle Morse-Dias

Julia Neff

Alaina Revoir

Stephanie Sahagian

As a bonus shout-out for last spring’s class & hopefully some inspiration for this term’s ducklings, here are my picks for “best of” from Spring 2011.

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?

Guest Post: Big Agency 101, Part One

Andrea Nowack is an intern at Waggener Edstrom in Portland, Oregon. A recent University of Oregon graduate, she was also the PRSSA chapter president and a member of the student-run PR agency, Allen Hall Public Relations. Her post will be offered in two parts. This is the first.

I graduated June 16 and started my first official PR job June 18… And I have my stellar education and extracurricular activities to thank for that, so when Kelli called on former students to write guest posts for her blog, I couldn’t say no!

A little bit about me… I graduated from the UO SOJC in June and began an internship with Waggener Edstrom Worldwide 2 days later. Talk about jumpstarting my career. But so far, I love it here! I work on the Microsoft Online Services Business, which deals mostly with MSN and Windows Live services (don’t be misled by the “Microsoft” title; it’s actually a consumer account ☺).

I work mostly on the OSB analyst relations team. And in case you are wondering what analyst relations is (trust me, I had no clue either before I started!), a PowerPoint slide I read today defines it as, “a form of public relations in which the use of detailed engagements is used to produce desirable and targeted outcomes.” Simply put, analysts are very similar to reporters but they write reports and blog posts as opposed to news articles, and they are often quoted by reporters as a credible source. (You can count that as your tech tip of the day!)

Working at a big agency is a lot of fun and it’s a great place to start out if you aren’t quite sure what type of PR you’re interested in. As an intern, I get to dip my feet into all kinds of things around the agency and help different people out with projects during my down time. For example, this week and last I got to help drive a Microsoft/ Nokia mobile announcement- definitely a challenging experience!

I toiled for hours trying to think of interesting topics to write about in this blog post, and then I asked myself, “hm, if I was a University student interested in studying PR, what would I want to hear about?” Oh wait, that was me less than two months ago! My how time flies…

Anyway, irrelevant comments aside, a question that I am often asked is, “how the heck did you land an agency job right out of college?” I’ll give you my top tips in the next post!

Congratulations, Graduates!

On Saturday, our seniors walked across the stage in MacArthur Court to receive their diplomas. Well deserved.

Many of “my” seniors are going on to some great position with agencies. Here are a few:

Heron Calisch-Dolen: Gooby, Silverstein & Partners
Andrea Nowack, Marisa Olson and Peter Lytle: Waggener Edstrom
Julie Ma: Koopman Ostbo
Nicole Wasowski: LEWIS PR, San Francisco
Devon Ashbridge: Verve Northwest Communications
Kristin Hunt: Chevalier Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations
Maya Shaff: SZPR

I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting or haven’t heard about yet. If you’ve landed a job or internship, let me know!

Some of the Best Posts from Students

Students in my Advanced PR Writing have been blogging the last five weeks. It was an experiment on my part and it worked pretty well. In fact, I think next term I’ll have the students start sooner so they have time to find their blogging “voice.”

Stu’s Clues: In my PR Thinkin’ Chair
First of all, more than a little odd that Stu references the perennial children’s favorite – down the the “thinking chair” – but he did an outstanding job with this assignment and I hope he keeps his blog up. My favorite posts –
I Keep a Fire Extinguisher in my Pants (ok, I admit it, I mostly like the headline. funny!)
NBA Severs Ties with Tim Hardaway

PRemonitions
Danielle Galluzzo is a rising star. Not afraid to ask when she doesn’t know, contribute when she has a good idea and commit herself fully to every assignment (whether it is a new release critique, a blog assignment or a corporate booklet). Her blog was no different. A mix of the professional and the personal, Danielle has some great posts:
Spring Break in Oregon (my son, Braxton liked this. He was giggling the whole time it was on)
PR Portfolios (Thanks for these resources, Danielle!)

Jay’s Ad Blog
This is the first time I had Jay Hermele in a class. Now, in all fairness, he could’ve easily been in my PR Principles class but that doesn’t really count. There are typically 100+ students in that class. Jay was a great addition. He is a very thoughtful writer and does really top notch work. He had a couple of posts that I particularly enjoyed.
Product Placement at a Whole New Level
Entitled Kids

Will post more tomorrow….

You’ve Gotta Show, Not Just Tell

From one of my favorite new reads: Indexed by Jessica Hagy

I often find myself telling clients what Jessica has illustrated so clearly and what they should know. Just because you say you have a plan, or you have a great vision does not mean people are going to buy what you’re selling. People need proof. They need action.

Say you’re about being socially responsible and committed to your local community? Prove it! Say you’ve got the best new product to revolutionize the way people do this or that? Show me!

Arlie & Company, a local Eugene, Ore.-based real estate developer (and a client) is my favorite example of a company that does this. Arlie gives thousands to local nonprofits that owners Suzanne Arlie and husband John Musumeci believe are doing good work. And they are committed for the long-haul. Organizations like Relief Nursery and Womenspace benefit from Arlie & Company’s support and have been able to do more good things because of the company. On top of financial support, Arlie & Company employees volunteer hundreds of hours to organizations like FOOD for Lane County, The Child Center and Center for Community Counseling.

In addition, in its day to day work, Arlie & Company believes strongly in sustainable building practices. Their new urban village, Crescent Village, will be environmentally, socially and financially sustainable (aka The Triple Bottom Line). I’m certainly proud to work with an organization like this and, even more importantly, restaurant, retail, commercial and residential customers are proud to buy or lease from a company like this.

As a future PR practitioner, it’s your job to the be the objective (but supportive) third party, helping clients understand how to match what they say (we support local nonprofits and are committed to sustainable building) with what they do.

Seed Newsvine

Guest Post: The Shaping of PR Superstar (part two)

This is part two of a guest post is from Marilyn Hawkins of Hawkins & Company PR. In part one, she listed 1 – 10. Here she rounds out the 25 qualities that will set you apart in the PR industry.

If you’re serious about the public relations business, you can never settle for being
just an average professional. Here are 25 ways to shine – waaaayyy beyond the solid list of tactical skills and basic attributes you may have acquired already. There are probably 2,500 qualities of a great public relations practitioner, but I’ll only tick off the top one percent. Are these in any particular order? Nope. They’re just as random and chaotic as the average PR pro’s typical workday.

So, what do you have to do – or be – in order to walk on water?

11. Tolerant of contradictory points of view. You must be able to see all facets of a problem, then propose a workable synthesis – without unnecessarily alienating any important stakeholder(s). Rarely are important decisions clear-cut. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind.”

12. Commanding of attention when necessary. If you have good ideas, make sure people get an opportunity to hear them. Be able to call attention to yourself – without making anyone squirm about your motives or your messages.

13. Thick-skinned and able to handle rejection and learn from it. Let’s call this the gift of a cast-iron stomach and a bulletproof business heart. Ambiguity, misdirection, contradiction, sarcasm, disingenuousness, passive aggressiveness—they’re all served up daily in a typical high-stress PR job. The counterparts of those negatives appear equally, but people often only hear the tough stuff. Your mantra must be: “Even great bosses and wonderful clients have really crummy days.”

14. Engaging – and comfortable conversing with complete strangers, at length if necessary. Then actually remembering most of what they said. In a field where we sometimes get paid to talk, listening is a vastly under-rated skill.

15. Perceptive and adaptive. Able to assess and then quickly mirror another person’s behavior and key characteristics. “People like people like themselves…” No, you don’t have to convert from one religion to another to impress someone. Just be able to see and quickly align your commonalities.

16. Gregarious and likeable: One characterization of a great PR person is “the one passenger who knows and says ‘hey’ to everyone in the elevator – from the janitor to the CEO.” If you’re not naturally outgoing and generous of spirit, commit to working harder at it. You want to be seen as the smiling golden retriever at the door, not the snarling pit bull or sad-faced Bassett hound.

17. Willing to admit your mistakes, then rectify the situation. Coupled with that is the skill to recover quickly and recycle to peak performance. Sports shrinks know that a big factor separating professional athletes from talented but hapless semi-pro jocks is the ability to move on after a mistake. Don’t sweep your screw-ups under the rug. Learn from them, don’t agonize and get right back on track.

18. Possessing a highly refined, appropriate and visible sense of humor. And the absolute best kind of humor is self-deprecating. Show people that you take your work seriously, but not yourself seriously.

19. Unafraid of conflict – and strong enough to be the bad cop if warranted. Also, it’s good to cultivate the knack of saying unpleasant things at just the right moment. When do people change? When they have to—and not a minute before. You’ve got to find the precise opening to share bad news and offer up curative cod liver oil. Most conflicts, interpersonal or international, arise over issues of power. One way to prompt an undesirable but necessary step is to show how the person gains a measure of power, not cedes it all.

20. Able to speed up without hurrying. Most of us are yawning Ferraris at work, moving along in second gear. When things get crazy, suddenly we’re up to sixth and the engine overheats. That leads to poor decision-making, ill-advised shortcuts and painful “What were we thinking?” moments. True PR pros glide through any level activity or anxiety, never losing the skill to plan the work and work the plan.

21. Easily accepting of responsibility and authority; not always looking for somewhere to push off work or blame. Never be shy of doing the heavy lifting and always be willing to take on the toughest assignments. Anyone can succeed on the easy projects – only superstars can improve truly impossible situations.

22. An enabler, in the best sense of that word. “You can accomplish anything you want, as long as you don’t care who gets credit for it,” said former Louisiana Congresswoman Lindy Boggs. Often, you need to play multiple roles simultaneously: strategist, producer, confessor and/or cheerleader.

23. Exhibiting patience beyond the saints. Don’t talk before someone is willing and able to hear you. “A worried mind retains nothing….” Don’t pitch your ideas or solutions until someone is ready to accept them. Constantly tell yourself: if not today, then tomorrow.

24. The capacity for keeping your head while everyone around you is losing theirs. At bottom, we’re all pack animals. If the alpha dog gets nervous and cranky, it spreads quicker than ringworm. You must project a genuine sense of grace under pressure. That’s the only reason anyone will ask for and accept your input.

25. Finally, the forbearance to take direction from seeming fools. Anyone with an inquiring mind and a decent sense of self will chafe at being ordered about or schooled by lesser mortals. There are few worse deals than taking clues from the clueless. The problem is that, sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. Hear before you judge; understand before you opine; and think before you act.

Marilyn Hawkins is a corporate communications consultant based in Ashland, Ore. You can reach her at mhawkins@prhawk.com.

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