Becoming Inventors in PR

BY: MARISSA DIGIACOMO

University of Delaware’s Public Relations Student Society of America had the pleasure of Skyping with Adam Ritchie at our general meeting on Monday December 4, 2017 at 5pm. Ritchie is the principle of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse and he shared with us his presentation on “Invention in PR.” We were honored to host such a successful business professional considering his company has won awards such as, the PRSA Bronze Anvil Award, Marcom Platinum Award, and the Hermes Creative Innovation Award, to name a few. As a graduate of Syracuse University, he is also the owner of “A-ritch-brand: a communications team with ri(t)ch experience, helping brands tell ri(t)ch stories.” His company is solely himself and his receptionist. He impressively brainstorms ideas that only he comes up with. As he skyped with us, he was walking on a sort of “treadmill desk” contraption that allows workers to walk and work as it keeps track of the worker’s miles. He told us about his event designed for social media posts which promoted a Boston rock band’s album, T.R.I.P., on a beer can. The event partnered with the Untappd drinking app which allows users to share which brew they’re currently enjoying and who they’re enjoying it with. This allowed for a large amount of publicity for Ritchie’s client. This was just one campaign for one client, but Ritchie explained to us that it can be done for other clients as long as there are food and drink companies to partner with. When it came time for our members to ask Ritchie questions, Ritchie explained to us that sometimes clients ask to approve his pitch. Ritchie believes in not letting them see the pitch unless it’s a fake detailed one in order to make sure the company is comfortable with the language being used. It was a great time listening to Ritchie and you can contact him here: adam@aritchbrand.com.

Marissa DiGiacomo is currently a sophomore communications interest major here at UD,
looking to become involved with a career in multimedia journalism and/or public relations.

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Lessons from London

BY: GILLIAN ZUCKER

It’s been four months today since I initially boarded the plane and left the comfort of my New Jersey and University of Delaware homes for the great unknown of my study abroad trip to London. As corny as it sounds, it’s also been four months of personal growth, global education, collecting knowledge from the five other countries I’ve been lucky enough to visit, and the best times of my life as I experience every aspect of entirely new cultures firsthand. As all of these opportunities fuse together and I reflect on the lessons I’ve learned, I now realize that I have a clearer vision of my career aspirations in the future, especially in the context of my work in the increasingly global and ever-changing world of public relations.

Last semester, when anyone would ask me about my major (“Interpersonal Communication with minors in Advertising and Writing”) and what I intended to pursue with it, I’d vaguely respond: “Definitely something in public relations, but I’m not exactly sure what aspect of it yet.” Since I’ve finished my general Communication Interest studies, I’ve been able to take classes in London that tackle the more in-depth concepts of the industry. Recently, in my Advertising and Marketing in Britain course, we practiced with one of the most common scenarios in the agency world – the creative pitch. Having never presented a pitch, whether to a class or to a working agency in one of my internships, the project seemed entirely daunting and a bit frightening at first.

However, my time in London has taught me to step out of my comfort zone so that I can accomplish the many items on my list of goals. By accepting challenges and taking risks, whether getting involved in a controversial class discussion or embarking on an independent adventure to another country, I feel that I am becoming more comfortable with myself and my abilities. In taking on the difficult task as the “Creative Director” of the pitch project, I realized how much my public relations passions lie in brainstorming and actually executing creative content, such as humorous videos, social media posts, and stunning graphic designs, that will preserve a human factor in relating the right brands to the interested consumers. Furthermore, with more experiences under my belt that have greatly broadened my perspective of the world, I actually feel that I can make an impact in the world around me. As a result, I’ve begun the process of networking and applying to internships with large agencies anywhere in the world that make a difference with the causes I’m passionate about.

PR Across the Pond

BY: GILLIAN ZUCKER

While I haven’t been in London enough to be legally considered a true British citizen, I HAVE been immersed in many aspects of culture across the pond. Believe me, I drink approximately three cups of tea each day, call potato chips “crisps” and French fries “chips,” and understand more British popular culture references than I ever did before. As the days pass, I’ve grown fond of all the charm in my daily Tube commute to the center city. It’s not the exhaust of the train, dragging along like its impatient rush-hour passengers or the cheerful lilt of their British accents that strikes a chord with me, but rather, the ever-changing, glowing advertisements and accompanying public relations strategies that line the walls of the platform. I’ll admit, as a Communications nerd with aspirations in the field of advertising and design, I pay close attention to the differences between product promotions and messaging in these masterpieces all across the city.

At first, I wondered why some of the ads were so engaging and filled with text, when they must be overlooked during the speedy transit journey. However, according to ExterionMedia, a leading British out-of- home advertising firm selling media spaces in public transportation, about 60% of Tube users notice when new ads appear and 65% feel that Tube advertising isn’t as intrusive as other methods. As the semester went on, I began to understand this concept more. There’s enough time to view the advertisements in between trains, and frankly, with their snarky humor, it’s become a game of noticing the Tube ads, to the point where my flat mates notify me when the advertisements change. Recently, we were excited when our local station started incorporating electronic billboards onto the main train platform.

In my experience back home in the United States, campaigns try to “break through the clutter” by screaming at their target audiences with a direct, highly product-focused style and high frequency on media platforms. Time and time again, I remember being in the middle of my favorite show when an unpleasant, irrelevant advertisement intrudes on my viewing experience. In complete contrast, I’ve noticed that British public relations, whether before a YouTube video or on my Facebook newsfeed, is witty, entertaining, and low product-focused, making it seem more natural and less invasive than other styles.

While in America, the annual football frenzy of the Super Bowl marks the biggest day of advertising in the year (and the most expensive spots), the UK takes a softer, more family-oriented approach. In early November, the country’s best supermarket chains release their long-awaited Christmas adverts and compete against one another for the most prestigious awards. In keeping with the jolly season, the city is currently glowing with Christmas lights throughout the streets (and has been since late October). To me, this holiday spirit just further evokes the thoughtfulness and emotional impact of the UK ads that I’ve encountered. As the semester comes to a close and I make my journey back home, I’ll remember what made the UK advertising so magical and join it with my knowledge of the American media landscape.

 
Source: https://www.exterionmedia.com/uk/our-products/tfl- rail-estate/london-underground-advertising
My Advertising and Marketing in Britain class notes.

Time at Tipton

BY: TYLER NOLLEY

Over this past semester, I interned at Tipton Communications, a full-service marketing communications agency that specializes in strategic internal communications, public relations, certification support and content marketing solutions for corporations, hospitals, and healthcare systems nationwide. I served as the co-director of Tipton’s student-run public relations agency, providing much-needed support to local nonprofit organizations in Delaware. I also served as a social media communications specialist for Tipton’s clients.

My experience at Tipton has been different in comparison to previous internships. This was my first time feeling autonomous at a company. Since managing the student-run firm was my main responsibility, the work was very hands on. I was required to participate in the process of client acquisition, perform social media audits, design social media strategies, and tend to client’s needs at all times. Therefore, my day to day routine constantly changed.

My co-director, Kelly, and I brainstormed ideas to pitch clients, worked with their design team to create visually appealing content, optimized social media plans, drafted press releases, created online marketing campaigns, and more. Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 3.54.17 PMWe were given the liberty to execute these projects on own timeline and without much supervision. Tipton’s CEO, Dan Tipton, requested that we take the reins on all our projects, making the internship a continual learning process.

Typically, interns are responsible for a lot of administrative and organizational work to help the higher-level employees function more smoothly. It is rare that interns can actively participate in strategy development for clients, which is the aspect that interests me most. My passion for PR stems from the development of creative messages and strategies that have lasting effects on clients, communities, and corporations. Tipton gave me that opportunity, which was the best part. I was able to express my creativity through the projects assigned, essentially aiding the company to achieve effective communication and form mutually beneficial relationships.

My time at Tipton was unique, because of the rarity to obtain so much decision-making power at an agency at such a young age. In the PR world, many employees don’t manage clients until they’ve reached the Account Executive status, so having this experience as a senior in college is invaluable. I am extremely grateful to Tipton Communications for helping me grow as an aspiring PR professional. I will continue to apply and develop the knowledge and skills gained from my time there throughout my post-grad life.

Tyler Nolley is a PR enthusiast double majoring in interpersonal communication and Spanish with a minor in advertising at UD. Connect with her on Twitter- @tyler_nolley and LinkedIn.

Chris Daley Crosses the State Border to Share Experiences with PRSSA-UD

BY: KARA NORTH

Monday night, PRSSA was host to Chris Daley, the Director of Business Development for Maroon PR in Columbia, Maryland. While this was Chris’s first time experiencing Delaware’s main campus, he had no shortage of experiences to share with the students. The room was quiet and the students engaged, enjoying the stories Chris told and the
advice he gave over the next hour.

Chris received his undergraduate degree in communication from Towson University, where he played lacrosse. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree at Stevenson University and serves as an adjunct professor. In between these degrees, Chris secured an internship at Warschawski, a boutique marketing communications agency, and a position at Maroon where he has been for the past 11 years.

Having always had an interest in sports public relations, Chris sought out Warschawski and its array of sports clients following college. There he pitched newspapers and magazines through cold calling, a practice of which has become a thing of the past in the evolutionized field – which Chris touched upon later. He noted how crucial it was to save all of the media placements he had secured, suggesting that students create an online portfolio in order to showcase their work.

It was at his first internship that Chris demonstrated the key to public relations: networking. He met John Maroon, who began his public relations career in Major League Baseball. Maroon went on to found Maroon PR in 2006. This is where Chris comes in – he maintained a relationship with Maroon throughout the agency’s beginning and not only accepted but offered to do an unpaid internship. The small agency setting allowed Chris to have a hand in everything from working with clients directly to continuing pitching to media. This, Chris said, was one of the things that helped his career most as it allowed him to learn all areas of the industry. Chris was soon hired full-time and recently accepted his current position as Director of Brand and Business Development.

This new role is relevant for Chris, who stressed the importance of feeling passionate about the clients you are representing. His life-long love of sports has paid off as he has represented clients like USA Football, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Under Armour and many more. He has also expanded his client experience to non-profit, consumer and hospitality to name a few. It is important to gain new experiences in the constantly advancing industry that is PR, Chris says.

One of the biggest changes that Chris has experienced is the expansion of social media space and a shift towards content creation. He has witnessed this firsthand through the expansion of Maroon, which now employs social media and content creators. One thing that has remained the same, though, is the core skills required of any PR professional. Those include strong writing and story telling abilities. Although the method of doing say may have changed from cold calls to communicating mainly online, pitching stories to the media will always be a part of the job.

Additionally, research has and always will play a large role in the industry. Chris advises aspiring professionals to “keep a pulse on what the media is covering”. Know what outlets are covering which stories, review reporter’s past coverage and, perhaps most importantly, build relationships with those reporters. Once you’ve secured media placement, analyze and understand the return that that outlet brings in order to benefit future pitches.

Chris closed his talk with a suggestion that every student needs to hear as they look towards their future career: be passionate about your work. Public relations is often and “unglamorous and thankless” profession. As Chris clearly demonstrated, loving
the work you do and committing fully to it will pay off for years to come.

Thank you Chris!
You can connect with Chris on LinkedIn or at the email below. Also check out his
personal website, chrisdaley43.com.

chris@maroonpr.com

Living the PR Dream: A Day at Ketchum NYC

BY: ANASTASIA MATYOLA

Ketchum. One of the most well known, well respected PR agencies in the industry. Some argue even the best. Through networking with alumni, PRSSA-UD was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit the New York office on Friday, and the experience was nothing less than amazing.  Located on the Avenue of the Americas, it is evident that the lively energy of one of New York City’s most famous streets is translated into the company’s office. Just by walking through Ketchum’s door, it was easy to feel the sense of community and the overwhelming creativity that floods the hallways of the vibrant office.

Our visit began with an overview of the company, given by one of the  HR representatives. Next, we were greeted by Mr. Ronnie Tolson, one of the company’s Creative Platforms Managers. Ronnie gave us a detailed description of the summer fellowship program at Ketchum and gave us even more insight into the close-knit company culture. After meeting with Ronnie, we were introduced to the lively, energetic Kelly Kenny, the company’s Strategic and Creative Planning Specialist. It was with Kelly that we had opportunity of taking part in a real-life brainstorm activity for one of the company’s clients. This activity gave us priceless insight into one of the most important aspects of consumer Public Relations, finding the “big idea”. We learned that inspiration for brand awareness can come from anywhere, but working with a team and bouncing ideas off of one another is not only fun, but extremely productive.

After meeting with these three employees, it is easy to see that Ketchum chooses to fill its positions with only the most unique, compassionate, and creative individuals. I think all of us who attended the event can say that this field trip was nothing less than an honor. To be able to see Ketchum in action, in real time, rather than reading about its practices in a textbook, was sincerely a one of a kind experience for PRSSA-UD.

Night with the Pros or a Night to Remember?

BY: SAM MURPHY

For the past few weeks, “Night With the Pros” was overflowing my social media and email inbox, stressing the magnitude of this exclusive networking opportunity. With this being my first year attending, my nerves were as high as my expectations as I entered the Career Services Center room displaying my best business casual and an open mind.

As the event began, four professionals whose expertise radiated intimidation sat before us: Jonna Ford (Director of PR and Social Media at Aloysius Butler & Clark), Katherine Bartell (Assistant Account Executive at MSLGroup), Katie Wilson (Press Secretary for Senator Tom Carper), and Jon Buzby (Director of Media Relations for Special Olympics Delaware). Myself along with other students were as hungry for their wisdom as we were for the delicious pasta and sandwiches that welcomed us inside. Our Program Director, Brittany O’Connell, kicked the panel off by asking each professional about their day-to-day duties (although we all know that in PR, there’s really no such thing). Each panel member conveyed their most glamorous job aspects including media relations, event planning, social media campaigns, and more. Whether connecting with people globally like Kat Bartell, or acting as a liaison between government officials and the media like Katie Wilson, each day achieves that appealing adrenaline rush we PR people live for. However, with this exhilarating uncertainty also comes daily challenges. In Jon Buzby’s field of nonprofit work, these challenges may revolve around “wearing an extensive amount of hats,” considering nonprofits are usually composed of less employees and more responsibilities. In Joanna Ford’s unpredictable agency life, an everyday hurdle encompasses developing and maintaining good relationships with the media.

Even though each professional covers a different job description and undergoes diverse struggles, it was refreshing to hear them reinforce one another’s advice to prove that each individual’s perspective could be applied to any career path. The following tips were reiterated time and time again, permanently ingraining themselves in your memory. Some may spark you as a valuable, new gem of knowledge to scribble into your notebook. Regardless of how you perceive them, each of these habits is deemed beneficial in building a successful career in public relations:

Network Within your Job: The networking doesn’t stop once you’ve secured a seat in the office! Introduce yourself to people outside of your department, and let them know you’re available to lend an extra hand if needed. This shows initiative and that you value learning new things, rather than just getting the task at hand finished.

Always be Thorough: Regardless of whether you’re an intern or full-time employee, it’s easy to make simple mistakes when rushing to meet a deadline. ALWAYS proofread and when you’re finished, have two others proofread as well. The consequences of not doing so could result in an unprofessional image of you projected towards either your boss, clients, or both.

Keep up with Current Events: Staying tuned into what everyone’s talking about on social networks platforms can prevent your company from sounding tone deaf in the media atmosphere. Remaining up to date can also sometimes open a door of opportunity by finding a commonality between the public conversation and the company.

 

Be Proactive: This one may seem redundant, but each professional emphasized the importance of being eager to take on responsibility. Whether this be staying that extra hour after work, asking your team what else you can do to contribute, or doing a little more than was asked of you, this ambition resonates with employers.

Structure Surpasses Subject Matter: When exploring the PR field, our ears perk up at words like writing, creativity and storytelling. However, even if you don’t consider yourself a master of words, you can partially redeem that quality by being grammatically correct. Knowing how to accurately write a press release or establishing proficiency in AP style are favorable skills in the industry.

 

Many other lifelines of advice were thrown at us students at this informative Q&A session. Through this panel and the personal conversations initiated afterwards, the nerves I initially felt entering through the doors of the Career Services Center room dissolved, along with my preceding fears of being unprepared for the workplace.

Thanks to all of our four professionals who came out and offered their experiences!