Category Archives: Public Relations

7 Things I Learned as a Summer Communications Intern

I work as the Communications Intern at the Eugene Chamber of Commerce. I am responsible for creating written nominations for accomplished businesses in the community for the Chamber’s prestigious Emerald Awards ceremony in October. I’ve been working there for several months in a cubicle beside the Events Manager and the President of the Chamber. Even though I am slightly intimidated, I am excited to contribute, and also be recognized for being valuable to the office. Here are 7 things I’ve taken away from the experience, now that I am halfway through. Oprah-style advice is my forte, so here you go:

1. Be thorough when communicating with your superiors – Following through is so important. One e-mail reminder, or brief “Oh hey can you help with this” is very commonly not sufficient. More often than not, people expect to be reminded. Everyone’s busy with their own to-do lists. Be relentless, but strategic if there’s something you really need to get accomplished.
2. Be as genuine as possible – Honestly it took me awhile to figure out that the whole office really appreciated me. I was scared to contribute, make mistakes, ask too many questions, go to lunch when invited, ask if I could have a leftover scone from the morning meeting…Haha no but seriously. Work environments should not make you tense or nervous. If you are friendly, hardworking, and aware of what’s going on around you, you are set.
3. Accomplish the current most important tasks now – Know your timeline and your priorities – spend most of your time working on the things that will get the action first. If someone sends you an urgent e-mail in the middle of working on another project, stop what you are doing and reply back before you forget or too much time goes by.
4. Spend time figuring out the best way to organize – Not only should you maintain your work efficiently for your own sake, but for your co-worker’s and boss’s sake as well. You never know when someone will urgently need to look at your written notes, computer files, desktop or e-mail inbox for confirmation or clarification. Organizing does not necessarily come naturally to me, but I’ve learned how to create systems and have found the value in spending a little extra time doing so.
5. Bring snacks and hydration – It took me a good month to realize how much it sucks to be so severely hungry by 12, 1, or 2 o’clock because you didn’t bring anything to munch on. And never in my life have I been so careful to make sure my water bottle is in my purse before leaving my house in the morning. You’d be surprised how desperately thirsty and foggy headed you can get.
6. Check in with your advisor, often – Plugging away productively at a project for two days straight is great, but always make sure you’re steering in the right direction. Checking in with your advisor or boss halfway through the day is often a great way to confirm you’re on track. Sometimes too, your boss may give you a task that may turn unproductive halfway through. Trust your gut if something seems like a waste of time. Several times I’ve checked in and my boss has changed her mind about the assignment.
7. Learn consistency – This is hard for me. I like to change up my routine with anything and everything every day, depending on my mood, my patience level, the degree of importance.. But it is so important, because in a work environment, consistency makes almost everything better and easier! Your co-workers are able to pick up where you left of, and you will know exactly why or how you did something.  I have confidence in knowing that routines and rhythms come to everyone in time. Work at fine-tuning your habits so that you continue to be as sharp and helpful as possible.

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Inspiring Statement by Campbell Brown

In response to the article Campbell Brown Leaving CNN Due to Poor Ratings

“Of course I pay attention to ratings,” Brown said in a statement. “And simply put, the ratings for my program are not where I would like them to be. It is largely for this reason that I am stepping down as anchor of CNN’s ‘Campbell Brown.'”

“To be clear: this is my decision, and one that I have been thinking about for some time,” she continued. “As for why, I could have said, that I am stepping down to spend more time with my children (which I truly want to do). Or that I am leaving to pursue other opportunities (which I also truly want to do). But I have never had much tolerance for others’ spin, so I can’t imagine trying to stomach my own. The simple fact is that not enough people want to watch my program, and I owe it to myself and to CNN to get out of the way so that CNN can try something else. CNN will have to figure out what that is.”

Why I love this statement:
Campbell Brown is a very poised and respected reporter from a program which I have grown to love and continue to be educated by daily. I hope to become a future public relations practitioner, and so have spent the last several years in school among many dedicated and inspiring future Journalists.

I have grown to absolutely appreciate when my peers and role models, who I look up to so much, are able to maintain a balance of respecting others and keeping utmost integrity with oneself.

I have also read and watched enough material relating to the media to be discouraged by a certain lack of transparency; that which we are taught to uphold so strongly in school.

Many times I’ve been let down by the reactions and responses of figures in the media, journalists more than not – because during the moment of truth, transparency seems to jump out the window.

This statement by Campbell Brown refreshed me. I found it very comforting to see how honest she could be in a fishbowl moment, with so much personal frustration surrounding her. I think future journalists can really relate to where she’s coming from and be inspired to maintain clarity even when we think it doesn’t matter anymore.

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“We Believe the Mess is Just as Important…”

In response to the post by Heidi Hackeme entitled “Get a Life: What’s Your 20% Project?”

This blog post caught my attention. It’s about inspiration primarily, but also about balancing hard work with creative freedom.

This blog post by a BBH employee gives us a glimpse into some innovative new projects created by their members. The company encourages creative minds to embrace the courage to execute projects, no matter how random and off-beat they may be – and not even for the financial profit of the company but for the benefit of a positive working environment.

“We looked for candidates that had a bit of ‘mess’ in their resume, i.e. a curiosity, a drive to think about and do things beyond pursuing the perfect advertising career,” says the planning director from the global innovation and advertising company BBH. “We believe the mess is just as important as the “proper” education.”

The company was inspired by Google’s “20% time” philosophy, which allows engineers to dedicate one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in the job description. Employees can use the time to develop something new, or fix something that’s broken.

Here are some of the BBH team’s inspiring “20% projects”:

These ideas are so fun and such great reminders to invest time fine-tuning fresh ideas that may not be given permission to execute elsewhere.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr member virginhoney)

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Overcoming Nerves & Procrastination

This week has been a challenge for me. I was not allowed to be lazy this week. Really really really not allowed. Who cares if it’s week eight of my senior year of college? Work is to be done!

Luckily I have this little thing called a laptop that let’s me do everything I need to do curled up in my cushy green bed. I have my lap desk, my yellow legal pad, my blackberry, my noise canceling headphones and my motivation. In my world, I am set.

Here is my challenging To Do list for the week:

– Make dozens of cold calls

– Get quotes for press release

– Write press release

– Create keynote presentation

– Update PR plan

– Upload videos for client’s FBook website

– Continue my search for the elusive job

Here’s my problem:

– I have a serious fear of making cold calls

– I have a fear of public speaking…I’m getting over it slowly

– I am absolute beginner on iMovie

– I’m not sure what kind of job I want, thus making my job searching hugely frustrating

This is how I’ve managed to ease nerves and get my work done, enjoyably if I dare say:

1. Always jot down notes before speaking on the phone.  Fewer words is better. (I prefer yellow legal pads because they stimulate my senses).

2. Making Keynote presentations is currently my biggest thrill in life. If there is anything that will single handedly help me get over my public speaking fears it will be Keynote. Because I enjoy creating the slide shows so much I am excited to present (Flickr images + Transitions = Bliss).  My nerves are washed away by my little project accomplishment. Therefore, I’m working hard to get excited about everything from here on out. I think it’s really possible. Even if it’s corporate responsibility we’re talking about.  If you don’t have Keynote you can give it a free 30 day trial here.

3. Take music breaks. Sitting down with my big Bose headphones to an uplifting, soothing song makes all the difference in the world to me.

4. Drink liquid. I prefer water. Sometimes I prefer my honey tea. Sometimes I prefer Gatorade, maybe apple juice. Regardless of the beverage, our minds work so much clearer when we are hydrated.

6. Find inspiration! My roomate loves to visit Stumbleupon.com and search under “writing” whenever she gets writer’s block.  I like to hit up my blogroll and browse through every single blog if I get the chance.

5. Get comfortable asking bosses or peers questions. I’m learning to take advantage of the art of a quick email, direct tweet, Facebook chat message, or text. People appreciate being appreciated and I always feel better when my jumbled thoughts are straightened out. It’s never good to dwell in your discomfort. Ask those questions!

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The Beauty of a Good Website

I can’t be the only person who bases decisions on website first impressions…

I remember starting my college search like it was yesterday. It wasn’t until I visited UOregon.com that I started to feel better about the daunting application process.  This website was clean, manageable and inviting.  It was my official first impression of the University of Oregon, which proved to have been a lasting one.  I will never forget it.

Over the years, I’ve really started noticing a trend with my relationships to websites in general.

Just the other day I browsed for Eugene catering services for my graduation party and made my decision within minutes because of the efficiency, thoroughness and clarity of the website.  Hole in the Wall BBQ’s website not only caught my attention, it answered all my questions and made it simple to order a dinner for 40 guests.

Of course bad websites can also get my attention. I chose my capstone PR class client based on what the organization’s inefficient website showed me. To me, all I saw was potential. The website was unreadable and bland, and I instantly knew there was progress to be made.

As it turned out the organization needed all the help they could get managing their presence online. We’re not finished with the site yet, but hopefully with simple improvements they will  be able to keep traffic flowing to the website and allow clients to use their service more effectively.

To sum things up, I thought it would be interesting to ask friends which websites they enjoy and revisit the most based on site efficiency and organization.  Here are few that came up:

Mashable

NYTimes.com

Politico

YouTube

Coachella.com

Weiden+Kennedy

SasquatchFestival.com

Let this be a reminder that websites are the face of business these days.  They have the power to attract or lose people in an instant.  If you’re ever in the position to help set up a website or blog, just take your time to scrutinize the format, and remember what a clean, user-friendly template does to you.

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It’s OK to be imperfect

In response to a blog post entitled,“It’s OK to be imperfect”: One school’s quest for social-marketing success by Mary Ellen Slayter

How fun it’s been to see how effective marketing and public relations has changed over the past few years thanks to the freedoms and accessibility of reliable technology. In my experience on college campus’ specifically, it’s the imperfections in the social-marketing techniques that are keeping audiences most interested and engaged.

Take for example the UO’s campaign to get students involved with the Census. The Bateman team, a group of public relations students, executed their message around one simple question, “Do you count?”

The team collected video clips of students answering the question with a random variety of responses. Even if the answers weren’t about “counting” in terms of the Census the campaign worked for me because I didn’t feel cornered to participate. The message’s open-endedness had me thinking about my response, for days longer than the usual split-second.

In Slayter’s blog post, she discusses the success of Oregon State University’s new social marketing campaign created to update their dated, rural image. Public relations consultant Michael Stoner called it “the most comprenhensive university social-marketing campaign we’ve seen to date.”

According to Slayter, the campaign,“Powered By Orange,” proved successful because it too reflected authentic pride in a rather unsystematic and “chaotic” way.

The other social-marketing gem that proved a huge success on the UO campus was of course the “I Love My Ducks” video, created by three guys from the journalism school (a.k.a Supwitchugirl).

The boys intended to create a video for an advertising class project to rally Duck fans behind the Rosebowl headed Oregon football team. The video was a success to me because it was community oriented and refreshing even though “imperfect” by mainstream media standards.

If you didn’t experience the aftermath of the video all you need to know is that it reached almost 800,000 viewers on youtube, and 4,000 people within four hours bought t-shirts with the slogan on the front.  If that’s not success I don’t know what is.

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Compiling History with Twitter Tweets

“When History is Compiled 140 Characters at a time”

“Twitter users now broadcast about 55 million Tweets a day. In just four years, about 10 billion of these brief messages have accumulated,” says blogger Randall Stross. It’s incredible to see this simple online program take off the way it has. Truly.

It took me months to understand how vast and informative twitter can really be. It’s been a year since I made my twitter account, and I can honestly say that I’m hooked. Each twitter tweet is concise, made of no more than 140 characters each – perfect for my short attention span.

I used to get discouraged by having to keep up with current events, sports stats, celebrity gossip, entertainment and local news, but Twitter has completely diminished that frustration. I can sit down for a no more than a half hour and feel significantly caught up on the weekly, daily, hourly happenings.

Not only am I informed but I am free to share my thoughts and tokens of wisdom with my followers on my own schedule. As Daniel J. Cohen of George Mason University puts it, “Twitter is of the moment; it’s where people are the most honest.” I couldn’t agree more.

Tens of millions of users are tweeting their thoughts, daily activities, factual information, theories, inspiration and business ideas. How absolutely fascinating would it be if there was an archive to organize this information. Imagine years and decades and centuries later reading through this kind of history.

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