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Five Ways to Make a Strong Presence Among Professional

1. After meeting a professional from a guest speaking opportunity, agency tour, or a networking event, connect personally with them in some way electronically. This requires grabbing a business card upon meeting them! To follow up, send a personalized email, LinkedIn invite, or even a tweet letting the professional know it was great to meet him or her, and that you would like to remain in touch in the future.

2. If you have connected on a much more personal level with a professional, (information interview, lengthy one-on-one conversation, etc…) it is extremely important to follow up with a hand-written thank you note in the mail. Professionals will never, ever forget a student who has taken the time to write a thank you note.

3. Invite someone you admire to grab coffee. If you are the one to invite him or her, make sure you offer to pay for their coffee as well (even though they will likely decline). Ask questions about where he or she got started, how to thrive in the industry, and what advice he or she would give to an aspiring student.

4. Apply for scholarships and enter competitions that are correlated with the industry’s professional network (e.g. PRSA). Many scholarships and awards for competitions are announced and awarded at a banquet with hundreds of professionals in your field. Talk about a way to stand out against other students!

5. Interact often with professionals – particularly on Twitter. If you know a professional works for XYZ agency, and you have recently heard a piece of interesting news about that agency’s work, let the individual know of your sincere interest in the news. It shows that you are well researched and passionate about the industry you are about to enter.

This post was written by Molly Rasmussen (@MollyRasmussen) and posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).


The Bigger the Risk, The Bigger the Reward


Risk is a very familiar word to those in the marketing field. Just how far are marketers willing to go to stand apart from their competitors and stay ahead in the game? Take a look at two marketers who risk everything to win big. Both of these marketers have shown the world that they have what it takes to battle through the obstacles, take huge risks, and come out on top.

Russell Weiner, Chief Marketing Officer at Domino’s Pizza, showed the world that admitting to the negatives of your product can lead to a positive reaction. In 2009, an employee of Domino’s posted a video of themselves doing revolting things to Domino’s pizza on YouTube. The occurrence showed the power of social media, which quickly unraveled a brand, and gave consumers one more reason to get their pizza elsewhere. Weiner’s response was daring: a campaign that would begin with consumers, in vivid detail, describing how bad the pizza was and then to introduce the reformulated version. “We had to be open, honest and transparent,” states Weiner. “People said our pizza wasn’t good enough, so we changed everything about it.” His bold and risk-taking tactics paid off as Domino’s sales in the first quarter soared 14.3 percent. By admitting to the downfalls of Domino’s pizza in a marketing campaign, Weiner won back the trust and loyalty of its customers, while improving its product is still worthwhile. Russell Weiner shown himself to be a knight in shining armor in saving Domino’s brand, and thus has joined a legend of esteemed marketers.

James Moorhead did not only double the sales of Old Spice body wash within a six month period, but the 31-year-old brand manager for Proctor & Gamble’s Old Spice was also named Adweek Media’s “Marketer of the Year.” Moorhead is awarded for his supervision of the newly created Old Spice ads featuring Isaiah Mustafa, a formal NFL player, who wears only a towel and insists that his female viewers compare their boyfriends and husbands to him. Moorhead became a loyalist of the brand in three years of working as brand manager for Old Spice. If you truly believe in the value of your brand, likes Moorhead does, you will work harder to market it. Moorhead was a big believer in moving the brand into the social media spotlight by using YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. This was a huge success and contributed to the brand popularity. Jason Bagley, one of the creative directors on the commercial advertisement project said, “You can probably imagine the type of faith and courage it takes for a large corporation to allow you the freedom to do all this.” Moorhead pulled off a near-perfect campaign, and showed us that a mixture of creativity, risk, and valor, can create great success.

These two marketers laid it all on the line to win over their consumers. They took big risks, and with that came reward. As their brands continue to flourish, the marketing world is left in awe of the task they accomplished. It’s marketers like Weiner and Moorhead who we learn from. They teach us that you can’t let others deter you from taking risks, especially when it may even be yourself who is standing in the way. Sometimes you just have to believe in your ideas, take a chance, and have a little faith!

This post was written by Manoel Reichel (@manoelthomas) and edited by Jens Heig (@JensRHeig) and Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

How to Get that First Intership

Everyone is always looking for that “foot in the door”, that one opportunity that will help pave the beginning of his or her professional career, but how does one get that opportunity to get that internship, let alone stand out from the thousands of other students? As a freshman, I’ve personally asked myself these questions numerous times. Here is a list of things that I have found helpful in terms of getting a job or that first internship:

Network, network, network.

It’s crazy how all the hype these days has a lot to do with gaining a larger network. One of the keys to success is networking a ridiculous amount, yet people still don’t seem to do it. Some people still have not realized that the people you meet may not necessarily be the ones offering you a job, but those same people may know people who can. The bigger your network is, the more opportunities you may be offered.

Going along this same idea, you must also go outside of your comfort zone and walk up to professionals at job and internship fairs and introduce yourself. You must understand that you have to put yourself out there and become well-known in order to become successful.

Post fair.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you did it – you went to a internship or job fair and you found the perfect internship. What you do in the next 24 hours will be the determining factor in whether you get called in for an interview or just get passed on like the rest. Marketing yourself goes beyond going to a fair, handing the representative a copy of your resume, and hoping they’ll call you back. You have to keep in mind that at least 200 other students did the same thing. 200 people, maybe 4 spots, what makes you different?

So here’s something you can do to stand out – email them. It’s as simple as that. Hopefully you had asked for a business card after you handed them your resume. The day after the fair send them an email using the address provided on their business card saying something like: “Hello, I spoke to you yesterday regarding the internship you have posted. I’m very interested and would love to get more information” so on so forth. It’s also important to make them remember you. Bring up something you two had discussed at the fair. I would even attach an additional copy of your resume just so they are forced to look at yours rather than search through their large stacks of other resumes.

Set up informational meetings.

If you didn’t attend any internship or job fair, another option you have to stand out from hundreds of cyber resumes is setting up informational meetings with professionals. Informational meetings are a great way to network and learn a little bit more about a specific company or the industry. These types of interactions are extremely helpful if you don’t know anyone who works in the agency or business that you want to get into. It’s pretty obvious that everyone loves talking about him or herself, and no matter how busy someone is I’ve found that most professionals have an hour or so to get coffee with a student.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to informational meetings is that it is NOT an interview. Don’t go into the meeting expecting to get a job offer, or to even talk about yourself. This meeting is about talking to the professional and asking them about how they got in the industry, their experiences, etc. If they do ask you about yourself, you should definitely answer, but don’t always expect that too happen. 

A way to get in touch with these professionals is by cold emailing. Basically this means finding the directory and sending out an email introducing yourself, and asking for a time to meet. This may seem intimidating, but it definitely pays off.

These are just a couple of suggestions and things to think about as you start applying and looking over applications for summer internships and jobs! Good luck to all of my fellow PRSSA members who are younger like myself and looking to get their foot in the door.

This post was written by Mohamed Sakallah (@msakallah5) and edited/posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

The Keys to Communicating with Professional Journalists

One of those relationships we will inevitably have to build as public relations professionals is with news reporters and journalists. They may hold the power to get our stories, events, and clients in the press, but we have influence over the ever important brand. Business columnist Eric Wieffering talked to our PRSSA group about the best practices for a relationship between publicists and journalists. Eric has spent the last 25 years in journalism, with 14 of those being at the Star Tribune. Essentially, there are two situations where you will have to interact with reporters: when a writer calls you for information about a crisis or feature story and when you go to the reporter to promote a story. Eric gave guidelines to professionally navigate both situations.

Crisis Management

  • Be available – When there is a crisis or breaking news at your company, the best thing the spokesperson can do is answer the phone. Journalists are under tight deadlines; if you don’t talk to the reporter, you may not have a chance to get your side of the story to the public. Responding to the reporter’s needs is appreciated and critical. Eric also mentioned that it is generally best to give some sort of statement on the given situation opposed to saying “no comment”.
  • Be prepared – Part of the journalist’s job is to get accurate facts in a compelling manner. They may not always want to talk to the company’s spokesperson and may push to speak with a principal of the company.  Try your best to get the information they want to avoid negative images of the company.
  • “Become a counsel to your client. Figure out the risks and opportunities.” – In addition to being prepared, if a reporter comes to you looking for quotes or photographs, know what they are writing about. Don’t assume the story is going to be positive for the company; be proactive and aware. It is the publicist’s job to know what the story is and the possible repercussions.

Pitching Stories 

  • Know your reporter – For important stories, try to tailor your pitches to the specific reporter. Investigate what they like and what they typically write about. Of course, you can’t know exactly what everybody wants, but try to do your research.
  • Pitch new, fresh stories – A reporter is not going to write about ‘old news’. Pick the outlet you want most and try to offer some “exclusivity” with your big stories.
  • Keep it short – Between investigating, writing, blogging, and tweeting, the demand for a journalist’s time is a struggle. Many times, press releases go to the bottom of their to-do list. Be sure to include contact info so if there is interest, the writer can reach out to you for more information. “A good pitch is not a story. The pitch is going to sell the reporter, not the media kit.”
  • Write well – Creativity and originality are key to your press releases.  Even though your pitch may be short, spice it up with compelling writing.
  • “Be persistent, not overbearing.” – Be patient when waiting for a response. Reach out to the journalist a couple days after you e-mail them your press release. Don’t e-mail them at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday and call them Thursday morning expecting a response.

Thank you, Eric!!

This post was written by Brooke Ahlers (@blahlers) and edited by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

What to Expect in 2012: Social Media

Tech Crunch recently published an article that applies to all things social media.. Here’s a recap:

2011 brought social media to a whole other playing field. While some corporations struggled to find their existence in social media, other companies, such as Best Buy and Target, utilized social media to their key advantage. But what should we expect to see in 2012? Here’s a breakdown:

1. Social TV Integration

Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.

As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.

2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way

2012 will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be streamed live to the world. Since the Super Bowl is generally viewed as the mother of all advertising spectacles, it will add a new dynamic into the digital component to advertising and social media integration.

3. Facebook Credits Take Center Stage

Facebook in 2012 has the potential to project its power and truly take Facebook credits into a viable currency.

4. Big Business Has Woken Up

The way corporate entities approach social media is shifting. Many companies realize that setting up Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts is not going to cut it as their social media strategy. Brands will need to seriously shift their perspective by treating social channels more like communication channels and less like an advertising channels in order to make a difference. From my perspective this transition has already occurred, judging by the extent to which brands’ Twitter accounts are now used as channels for CRM and customer support, managing pissed off or happy customers in near realtime.

5. ROI Is Still Huge

ROI will remain a key metric to any social media strategy. The concept of engagement is now becoming more and more an excepted metric. CEO adoption of social media is improving, and more CEOs are recognizing the benefits of humanizing their brand by taking to Twitter.

This post was written by Joseph Puopolo at Tech Crunch and posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

“The Skills Employers Desire in Today’s PR Professional”

Recently, Ragan’s PR Daily wrote and one of the most unique articles I’ve read about PR professionals.

Arik Hanson asked agency owners, recruiters, and HR people across the industry three key questions:

1. What’s one skill that every PR pro needs today and why?
2. What’s one PR skill that you see evolving—and becoming critical to success—in the years ahead?
3. What’s the one skill you currently have the hardest time finding in the marketplace as you recruit for new talent?

Check out the article for the answers!

This article was posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

5 Resume Tips from Jon Pushkin, APR

Last Thursday I took a trip to Denver and sat down with Jon Pushkin from Pushkin PR for a helpful informational interview. After talking about the Denver PR market, and different companies in the area, we talked about resumes and portfolios. Jon sees multiple resumes come across his desk on a weekly basis. Here’s 5 tips from Jon on how to make your own resume and cover letter stand out among the many:

1. Do your homework: Before sending a company or a professional your cover letter do your homework and check out their website, blog or any social media they are on. Find a way to connect instead of sending a general cover letter that you send out to everyone. Saying something along the lines of, “I’m interested in this client of yours because it’s similar to the work I’ve done on so and so..” will make your cover letter much more personal.

2. Talk about your extracurricular activities: Your resume should include more than just what school you went to, what your major was and when you plan on graduating. Any outside activities (like a sorority or fraternity, PRSSA, volunteer work) makes your resume stand out more. If you’ve traveled abroad make sure this is also included on your resume and talk about your oversea experiences.

3. Show how you’ve actually been active: If you are in any of the activities I mentioned above show what you’ve done and how this applies to the line of work you’d like to get in to. Just because you have a membership in PRSSA doesn’t mean you are more qualified then someone who isn’t a member. Explain how these organizations have benefited you and explain what you’ve done in them and what you’ve learned from them.

4. Show that you have interest in the world around you: Include information about what news you read and from what news outlets you get your news from. If you can’t include it in your resume because it doesn’t fit anywhere include this information on your cover letter. Jon said it’s a rare occurrence to find a young professional that shows that they stay up-to-date on news, but it’s appreciated when he does see it. Whether you watch CNN every night, or have a subscription to the New York Times, talk about it.

5. Have an easily accessed portfolio: Many of us in PRSSA know the importance of a portfolio. It’s beneficial to take to interviews and it shows the work you’ve done. But, when sending out a cover letter or a resume online, you can’t show your tangible portfolio. So, create one online. Your online portfolio can either be a link to a PDF file, or to your blog, or to an actual website of your own. Either way, show off what you’ve done so far in your PR field.

This post was written by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall). These tips were given by Jon Pushkin (@Jon_Pushkin).