Making Connections from Coast-to-Coast

BY: JENNA NEWMAN

After being on the executive board from PRSSA Delaware for two years, I had still not attended National Conference or any other PRSSA national event and honestly, WOW, I was missing out. This spring, I finally had the opportunity to attend PRSSA National Assembly in Portland, Oregon. Before I talk about my key takeaways from the conference, let me talk about a little bit about what National Assembly is and what we did.

What is PRSSA National Assembly?

PRSSA is a pre-professional, international organization, with chapters not only all over the U.S., but also internationally in South America. Then, beyond each individual chapter, there is a group of students that are part of the PRSSA National committee. Their job is to connect all of the chapters, manage the PRSSA National social media, send out all the emails, collect dues, and so much more! Each year, one member from each chapter is invited to come to some city (this year Portland), and vote for the new National committee. Saturday was our primary day of voting, where we heard candidates talk about why they are qualified to serve PRSSA on the national level. We also went over new proposed by-lines, including adding in a new VP of Diversity and Inclusion position on the committee. Some people call this the “boring” day, but I found it so interesting!

What did we do (beyond voting)?

Beyond voting (which was only one day), we had a mix of other keynote speakers and break-out sessions. Our keynote speakers included amazing, influential PR pros such as Trisch Smith, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Edelman and Matt Prince, Sr Manager, Public Relations and Brand Management at Taco Bell Corp. I could talk about all the wisdom that our keynotes shared each in a separate blog post, but I don’t have the time for that, so I’m just going to keep going! Our break out session included meeting with other students in similar executive board positions at their respective PRSSA chapters and talking to them about what has been successful and what has not.

Key Takeaways

Get involved. 

There are so many different, incredible opportunities to get involved with PRSSA at either the chapter level, regional level, national level, or even the international level. As I finish up my junior year, I only wish I got involved sooner and I’m grateful for next year to continue expanding my influence.

We have the power to make a difference.

There were over 100 students in a Marriott hotel in Portland talking about Public Relations. We are the future of Public Relations and because of that we have the power to make a difference on the industry moving forward.

Put yourself out there.

Most students at the conference were the only ones from their chapter (like myself), so that meant that you were either alone all weekend, or you made friends. By putting myself out there, I was not only able to network, but to build friendships that I’m going to carry to International Conference in San Diego and probably beyond that.

National Assembly was AMAZING and now I’m just counting down the days to International Conference (184Days!!)!IMG_3353.jpeg

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A Chat with Joey Silver: General Meeting Recap

BY: MORGAN ZYSMAN

On March 18th, Joey Silver, a UD alumnus, joined us via skype. He discussed his time at UD and what he was involved with on campus, his past experiences, and his current position as a Data Account Manager at PINCHme.

Joey said what makes him unique and sets him apart from others is how he took advantage of his time at UD. He did this by being a part of a variety of clubs and organizations on campus. He told us to do the same and to do as much as we can in order to make ourselves unique and to get the most experience that we can while we are still students.

Joey gave us great interview, career, and professional advice. His valuable knowledge and positive attitude kept everyone engaged and eager to learn from him. Below are his interview tips and early career advice.

Interview Tips:

  • Eliminate “like” and “um”
    • Using these words, or any other crutch words, will affect how people perceive you. You always want to have mindful communication, especially during an interview, so that you are communicating the best version of yourself and appear confident.
  • Know the answers to the “basic” questions
    • For example: tell me about yourself, why should we hire you, why do you want to work here, etc.
    • These are questions that are almost, if not always asked. These are questions you have time to prepare for before-hand. Since they are expected, your answers to these questions should be perfected.
  • Align your answers with the job description and requirements
    • You should try to use the same wording used in the descriptions to describe yourself and your abilities. Do not make it completely word-for-word, but make sure you are definitely showing you have the skills and abilities the company is looking for.
  • Look the part
    • Whether you are in person or interviewing over video, the way you dress will affect how you portray yourself, how you will act and how you will speak. Be the best dressed in the room and you will feel more confident in yourself, too.
  • Smile!
    • A smile goes a long way. First impressions are half the battle. You should look like you want to be there. An enthusiastic person is someone people are going to want to work with, so make sure that person is you!

Early Career Advice:

  • Always say yes!
    • When first starting out, always be willing to jump in and help out. Be the first one to raise your hand to volunteer. This will help you be more present, set an impression, learn the most that you can, and leave a positive memory. This will lead you to become the “go-to” person for future help on projects!
    • Dress-Code
      • At your interview, read the room of what other people are wearing. You want to be overdressed at the interview, but if (and when) you get the job, dress how everyone else does.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
      • Ask your peers, supervisors, managers, even CEO’s. Have questions ready for the higher-up people.
      • Most people in the room have the same question as you, but are afraid to ask.
    • Get to know other people in the office, even if you don’t necessarily work with them.
      • Use breaks as an opportunity to start conversations with people in different departments that you don’t normally work with or see day-to-day.

Thank you, Joey, for sharing your experiences, giving us fantastic advice and important professional tips. I definitely feel more confident and prepared going into the next chapter of my life! Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn if you have any questions!IMG_1088.jpeg

Media Pitching Skill Slam Recap

BY: GILLIAN ZUCKER:

As public relations and communications professionals, having strong writing skills is essential to our craft. It isn’t uncommon to apply for a role in the industry and be expected to provide a portfolio of samples or to complete a timed writing task even before scoring the coveted interview. On the job, as I’ve learned from previous internships and from networking with my peers and professionals, it’s paramount to be able to create engaging yet concise pieces, such as media pitches, press releases, and media advisories to increase buzz and coverage surrounding an event (essential to the role of any professional in the media).

Being a senior, as I look back on the classes I’ve taken here at UD, I can say with full confidence that one of the most valuable and highly recommended for sharpening my writing skills was COMM311: Public Relations Writing, taught by the brilliant Adjunct Professor Jon Buzby, who serves as the Director of Media Relations and Program Innovations of Special Olympics Delaware, a Sixers Insider for ESPN 930, Sportscaster for Fox Sports 1290, and a Sportswriter for the Newark Post. From day one, we learned everything from the essential elements of strong public relations pieces (such as the aforementioned press releases, advisories, pitches), recorded our own public service announcements, and even worked on a hypothetical crisis situation to test our skills with responding to negative press and emergency scenarios. IMG_0706.jpeg

Overall, I can’t thank Professor Buzby enough for not only teaching me the tricks of the trade but also for inspiring in me a greater passion for writing and for the non-profit sector of public relations. In an effort to inspire our PRSSA-UD members to strengthen their writing skills for the future, I planned and held our skill slam workshop on Monday, March 4th, focused around an overview of public relations writing, from the structure to the applicable uses in real-world scenarios. After giving everyone a background on each piece and sample templates, we launched into our media pitch contest, much like how our class activities in Jon Buzby’s class ran. For the contest, members split into groups of four, devised a pitch based on a real-world scenario, and then emailed their completed work to me as if I were a journalist for the Newark Post. After the skill slam, I was delighted by all the positive feedback I received, as members told me they truly felt that they could bring the night’s experience to a future opportunity.

In all, I hope that future public relations professionals remember how important these writing skills are and that they can always be learned in the classroom setting if one lacks prior experience and of course, refined by taking on publishing opportunities (such as writing for the PRSSA-UD blog).img_0707.jpeg

Meeting Speaker Turned Internship Opportunity

BY: MARISSA DIGIACOMO

This past fall semester, University of Delaware’s PRSSA chapter had the pleasure of hosting our general meeting speaker, Lauren Hess, the Director of Social Media and Partnerships for bloom Daily Planners. She intrigued our audience while discussing loom as a company along with how she manages promoting the company, engages social media viewers, and increases brand awareness. bloom (always spelled with a lowercase “b”) is so much more than simply a stationary brand designed for women. It is an outlet for helping empowered women reach their goals through staying organized along with giving back to the less fortunate in the process.

Lauren told PRSSA about the importance of sharing content that your followers are asking to see along with reaching out to brands and companies that share the same demographics. She told us she is always looking for influencers and other brands to collaborate with. For example, she reached out to Sweet Ambs, an Instagram account that creates uniquely iced cookies. The page crafted a planner shaped cookie in order to increase promotion while also promoting Sweet Ambs.

After Lauren’s visit, I was able to find out more information on becoming a social media intern with bloom. I applied and received the position as the winter social media coordinator and I have PRSSA to thank!  

While working for bloom, I’ve learned a significant amount of professional skills along with social media tactics that I plan to take with me throughout my career. I remember meeting Lauren at one of the career fairs hosted at UD and then meeting her again at the general meeting, which I believe helped me gain her as a connection for this opportunity. The internship has taught me to always keep your mind running with content that will then lead to posts, including listening to podcasts, following inspirational accounts, reading email newsletters and novels. Another piece of advice when managing social media is to engage your viewers whether that be asking them to comment on a post or hosting a giveaway.

This experience has been an incredible opportunity with an even better work environment that I am so thankful to have discovered. You can find bloom on Amazon, eBay, at trade shows, in various book stores throughout the country, and their website: bloomplanners.com!

 

Night with the Pros Recap

BY: ROSALIE BASEMAN

On November 6th, 2018, I had the pleasure of hosting the annual Night with Pros event on behalf of PRSSA’s University of Delaware chapter. This event is an evening that is highly anticipated each year, as it gives our members a chance to learn from and interact with experience professionals, and a chance for them to give back to the next generation of those aspiring to work in the field of public relations.

This year we had a panel of five professionals joining us : Mary Ellen Payne, Erin Donovan, Jaimi Blackburn, Michele Besso, and Lauren Mancini, all of whom are alumnae of University of Delaware and who were very excited to return to their alma mater. With careers in industries ranging from telecommunications, environmental concerns, and health, to the arts, hospitality, and retail, our panel members were able to offer a broad scope of experience and knowledge.IMG_7494.JPG

After brief introductions, the panel opened with a discussion of how PRSSA and PRSA has shaped their career in public relations. While the student chapter was not yet founded at the time when some members attended University of Delaware, they all emphasized the tangible significance of being a part of a professional organization such as PRSA to make connections between other public relations experts, not only to network for clients and projects, but also to advance in their understanding of the field – especially as it rapidly changes.

The diverse experiences of our panel members allowed for extensive and engaging discussions of various topics as they relate to public relations. Some of our panel members started their careers before the dawn of social media, while for others, digital media relations was immediately part of their job. We were therefore able to discuss their experiences in the transition from traditional to digital media, and the challenges (and benefits) that come with it. Michele and Jaimi initially worked as news reporters, so they gave our members the inside scoop and advice on how best to pitch a story and how to effectively communicate with reporters to make their jobs easier – which would ultimately benefit the client if their story got covered. Jaimi and Erin both opened their own public relations firms and they shared with us the importance of networking in order to build and maintain a client base, as well as advantage of working independently and having control over projects and management. Another topic that was discussed was the difference between in-house versus agency public relations; Mary Ellen was able to speak to the opportunity of watching a large brand such as Verizon Communications grow and adapt itself over an extended period of time, all while maintaining its image and identity, and Lauren discussed her appreciation of the many different fields and industries that she gets to work on, even as a small agency such as Tipton Communications.

The panel members fielded questions from the member audience, and they all stressed the importance of having an internship experience,  especially to get hands-on work in the field that will aid young professionals in their skill and understanding of public relations. After the panel discussion, we opened the floor so that PRSSA members could have a chance to converse directly with the panel speakers and further their connections. Altogether, the night was a success, and we look forward to more excellent Night with the Pros in the coming years!

 

New Findings in Philly: PRSSA Field Trip Recap

BY: SAMANTHA MURPHY

Throughout the semester, PRSSA offers a variety of opportunities and events that fully immerse members into the strategic, fast-paced world of PR. Our fall field trip to Philly served to do just that, providing us with a glimpse of everyday life at two different companies; Karma Agency and Braithwaite Communications.

Karma Agency specializes in public relations, advertising, and marketing, their current portfolio consisting of around 20-25 active clients. Our delightful hosts, Laura and Hafsa, were eager to share their expertise on how to effectively build a brand’s reputation, a phrase they deemed as synonymous with earning trust among target consumers. Both professionals emphasized the importance of cultivating a brand promise, which poses a challenge for the client to dig deeper into their overall mission, in an effort to discover how it makes their products/ services unique from competitors. In order to stand out in the crowded consumer space, it isn’t about promoting what you do, but rather, the impact you have.

Another key ingredient to leveraging a brand’s reputation is by developing “thought leadership.” Laura and Hafsa defined thought leadership as establishing oneself as an expert in their respective industry. For Karma’s clients, this involves an extensive amount of media training in which a company’s leader is prepped on how to craft a message in a way that will resonate most with their audience. While this tactic might seem trivial, it is especially beneficial for brands that are often overlooked, such as those in the healthcare or chemical manufacturing sectors. The ability to mold wording, perspectives, and taglines that are both captivating and easily understood can initiate a major breakthrough in reaching consumers.

Braithwaite Communications is a full-service agency, their objective to utilize storytelling to drive results for clients. Braithwaite employees pride themselves in not being composed into specialized teams, but rather, working collaboratively as a whole. From branding, to content creation, to media relations, all work is distributed equally across the board, which I found to be a very interesting, yet innovative approach. This allows employees to touch every area of the agency to gain a fuller, more in-depth understanding of the industry.

Employees Megan, Freddy, and Marissa recalled the most valuable lessons they’ve learned since being thrown into the field. As they relayed their personal accounts and stressed key tips for success, I gathered my own takeaways from the discussion:

 

  • First Impressions: Within every professional interaction, you should always be emulating your personal brand. Your passions, aspirations, and skills are what will make you unique from others, and are going to be the features that enable you to stand out among the crowd. Take time to reflect on each of these aspects to ensure that you’re consistently representing them.

 

    1. Experiential learning: Always be actively searching for ways to learn outside of the classroom, not just through a formal internship. Anyone that you meet can turn into an opportunity, but you must willing to seek it out, show initiative, and provide support in any way possible. Overall, be hungry and be open to jobs/ volunteer positions outside of your interests, because they can offer invaluable experience.

 

  • Maintaining relationships: This comes in handy most when fostering professional connections. The most important things to keep in mind are authenticity and insight. Whether congratulating someone on a new job or passing along an article that you find relevant to someone’s work, make sure your message displays genuine interest.

 

Both companies were so generous to host the members of our organization and nurture our curiosities of public relations and workplace. I think I can speak for all attendees when I say it was truly a great experience, filled with useful knowledge that we will carry with us throughout our entire professional careers!

 

What I Learned From Lauren Hess

BY: FAWN BARTOKIMG_6792.jpg

Lauren Hess, a University of Delaware and PRSSA alumni joined us on Monday, October 22 to discuss her position at Bloom Daily Planners. Lauren is the Director of Social Media and Partnerships. It was insightful that Lauren had graduated only in 2016 and has already worked her way to such a successful position. She is in charge of Bloom’s social media which includes tasks such as creating content for posts, pitching ideas for giveaways, and holding creative meetings each week to plan content for the upcoming week among Bloom’s social media platforms.

Keeping Bloom’s social media up-to-date is not an easy task and requires a lot of creativity. Especially with a growing company like Bloom that has 81,000 followers on all their social media combined, it is crucial to stay creative and relevant.

This includes campaign creations- for example, Lauren and her social media team created “Bloom Productivity Week” which consisted of a new post every day that included tips on how to stay motivated to ensure a productive week. Each post featured a Bloom product with helpful tips on how to be the most productive version of yourself.

Lauren has also already been planning future campaigns such as “Thanksgiveaway” where Lauren and her team will be posting different giveaways during the holiday season. This is a creative way to keep their social media audience engaged in their brand, as well as show customer appreciation.

Lauren stressed customer appreciation and women’s empowerment were at the core of what Bloom stands for, which I found inspiring. It is refreshing to see a company care for its consumers and have a mission to help women become the best versions of themselves. Hearing from a young recent college graduate who is dedicated to a job she loves was refreshing and encouraging!