Grad School & PR: What’s the deal?

By: Jenna Newman

“You don’t need to go to graduate school for PR.” “Only go to grad school if they pay for it.” “Grad school is a good way to broaden your network and learn more about the field.”

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These are all the different things I heard throughout my junior and senior year, which made it really difficult to figure out what I wanted to do post-grad. On top of that, most of my friends were looking for big city, big agency jobs, which isn’t exactly the route I’ve seen myself taking. My guess is that I’m not the only one who has considered grad school or just felt as though they were on a totally different path than most of their peers, so here are some questions and insights that I found helpful in my journey to grad school.

What are your goals? Not the goals of the people around you. This can be so hard when you’re surrounded by friends and classmates that are all fighting for the same internships at the same firms in the same big cities. But within PR, there is so much you can do. You can teach, do research, work in-house, work for an agency, work for a non-profit and so on and so forth. That being said, it’s super important to figure out your goals.

What gets you excited? A good way to figure out your goals is to figure out what you’re passionate about. Almost every organization has (or needs), a PR person. Start by figuring out what gets you excited and then determine what the best way  to go about working for a company that does that, or that company is. I am really interested in working with nonprofits; however, I am also potentially interested in teaching one day. I grew up in a household with two professors and I got to see the benefits of teaching and what that entails. I’ve always been passionate about helping others and have really enjoyed my experiences at UD as a teaching assistant, working as a peer tutor and conducting research for various honors projects. Although grad school means postponing my dreams of working in a non-profit, it lines up with the excitement I have teaching and doing research.

Are there programs that line-up with your goals/interests? Once you figure out what makes you excited and what your goals are, start looking into programs that line-up with those. You can start this search before you definitively decide that you want to go on to grad school. Look into how long the program takes, whether it’s online, in person, or a hybrid, cost, funding opportunities and the location of the program and whether the program is career only or has a thesis track. I was looking for a program that was located in the Philadelphia area and had the option for a thesis track because I am interested in research and potentially want to pursue my doctorate. I also ideally wanted to get an assistantship that would cover my tuition as well as provide a stipend. That’s what led me ultimately to applying to Villanova University for their masters in Communication and certificate in PR & advertising program.

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How does COVID-19 impact the industry’s trajectory? This may not be a question that everyone has to answer. Personally, I hope that after this year’s graduating class, COVID-19 does not need to be a consideration, but either way, COVID-19 will change the way the industry functions. My father, a professor, said he’s had many students suddenly come asking for graduate school recommendation letters, because even though many companies are putting a freeze on hiring, graduate schools are still accepting applicants. Also, if you have any interest in research, there will be a whole new base of literature being conducted in the aftermath of this pandemic and you may be able to get your name on a paper that will be read for years to come.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to going right into the job field as well as getting your masters degree. I opted to get my masters because I love learning in a classroom, conducting research, teaching and I see additional education as an opportunity to advance myself in my career, but you need to make the decision for yourself. Consider these questions, evaluate your goals, and determine the next steps to get you to your dream career!

 

Why Should You Take Communication and Persuasion?

By: Matt Caplan

Over the course of the semester, I’ve had the opportunity to take a great class that has helped me gain pubic relations skills, as well as how to create effective communication campaigns. This class is called Communication and Persuasion (COMM452), and it has been great in helping me understand how persuasion works in the field of communication; it’s taught me what it means to be persuaded. We have done multiple activities in class and learned a lot of information, such as features of persuasive messages, media effects as persuasion, persuasion in behaviors and attitudes, emotions, persuasion in television shows, the inoculation theory, and we just learned about health communication.

Being a student that is not a communication major, this class has helped me develop an understanding of how persuasion is used in various ways during our everyday life. There are persuasion techniques that I have learned that can be useful to my future in public relations. This class also helped me continue my interest in the communication field, since it is a field that I have recently been more interested in. I am a political science major and picked up 2 minors in political communication and advertising. If you are someone that is not majoring in communication, these minors are definitely ones to think about if you want to take communication courses and expand your public relations skills.

What I enjoyed most about this course is learning about the role in media effects as persuasion. The role of the media is essential for understanding how persuasion is used in public relations, since its effects are substantial to gaining the trust of viewers. Media is all about trust; viewers will only have trust in media that supports their beliefs and attitudes. I enjoyed learning about the link between the message, source, recipient, channel, and context to make a media message persuasive. When going into a career in public relations, it is essential to understand how the media effects society as a whole, and what specific message will resonate to the target audience. I enjoyed learning about health communication, and the amount of campaigns that are present in this area. There are many firms that focus on health communication; they try to take action by solving health crises. This is a very important part of communication for the current COVID-19 pandemic, since there are many campaigns that are advocating to stay-at-home to slow the spread of the virus.

Communication and Persuasion (COMM452) is a great class if you have a desire to expand your skills on how to persuade an audience and learn how persuasion is used in the world that we live in today. This class is great for the media and interpersonal concentration since it factors in both aspects of persuasion. Persuasion is a vital component of public relations and it relies on years of practicing strategies that can get trust among target audiences. Persuasion is all about influencing, and if the right people are influenced, then a good reputation is built. Overall, I would highly recommend this course to be taken to gain more knowledge in public relations]\ and to expand your communication skills.

First Online Meeting Featuring Kerry Cheney

By: Sammy Chmara

Even though we couldn’t meet in person for this weeks meeting, we did have the opportunity to have a live zoom session with an experienced Public Relations and Media Relations specialist!

Kerry Cheney; a University of Delaware alumni, currently serves as Vice President of OGILVY in NYC. She began her Public Relations journey at Motion PR in Chicago where she got to work with a lot of food and beverage companies like Panera Bread. She then spent time at GOLIN, and then became PR director of Park Hyatt. At OGILVY, Kerry has done work with companies like Brand USA, Citizen’s Bank, and MSC Cruises. Her journey has included a lot of freelance where she’s done other work for McDonald’s, LG, and Country Crock.

She specified what exactly Media Relations entails, which her entire career has consisted of. Media Relations focuses on trends, including consumer, corporate, industry, and media trends. It is all about quality, personalization, cultural relevance, and awareness. She emphasized that the field is always changing and can be very time consuming to work in, but always worth it at the end.

She explained how it is important to customize pitches specifically for a certain brand or company, and that it can often take multiple pitches to get the right one. She also said she prefers pitching on the phone rather than email, if possible. Additionally, she differentiated what she considers “Good PR” and “Bad PR”. Good PR is connecting people to useful or interesting information while bad PR is being too showy or dishonest.

The last topic she was able to touch on was how the current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the media industry as a whole. She explained that the media is heavily producing articles covering COVID-19 related symptoms, proper sanitation, and testing facility information. Other topics such as the election, the economy, and small businesses are also being covered by the news. Even articles about virtual travel and at home beauty and entertainment tips are being supplied. The media is really interested in taking extra steps to help during this time, but there is certainly a fine line between appropriate and non-appropriate pitches to be made during this very difficult time.

Public Relations Related Things You Can Do During The Coronavirus Pandemic

By: Katie Coulson

Have lots of free time all of a sudden? Still trying to be productive but failing and giving up? Here are some simple tips to help a public relations student stay motivated during the Coronavirus pandemic!

  • Start a blog. With all the time you potentially have, start writing down your thoughts. It helps a lot (for me at least) to write down my thoughts and worries; it clears my head. You can write about anything, PR related or not. This is also something that can help you stand out on a job application in the future. Employers love to see writing skills within school and outside of school and this is a great way to show it.                                                                                                                                        
  • Touch up on your resume. With companies and internships being put on hold, you never know when you are going to need your resume next, but it can’t hurt to look over. Resumes are extremely important to a potential employer; it is the first impression you make about yourself. Have a friend or family member look it over and talk to them about potential improvements. It’s never a bad time to look over a resume.                                                                                                                                                                                
  • Continue networking. Even though in person meetings are on hold, a LinkedIn connection is still possible. Some people you reach out to are still willing to have informational calls which can be super beneficial. You can learn about potential opportunities and also learn about companies in general. Also, look out for online workshops or speaker events. This is a great way to learn about the public relations industry and network with professionals.                                                                               
  • Watch the news with a PR perspective. Don’t listen to fake news, or spread fake news. Also, understand how the news is framed; take a look at headlines. Take note in what words they use often and what words they avoid. Read articles and try to understand why journalists write the way they do.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Do your research. You have lots of time to research everything and anything you want. If you are a senior, research potential agencies or companies you want to work for; learn about what they do and how they do it. If you are a junior or sophomore and are looking into internship opportunities, research internship programs and highlight the ones that interest you. Another thing you can do during this time is research about the public relations industry in general; find out what agencies are doing during this time. Research brands that are taking steps to help people in need; research and discover brands that impress you.                                                                                                             
  • Practice some interview skills. This is a perfect time to touch up on that one thing that everyone dreads: interviews. I suggest looking up potential questions and picking one question a day. That day, focus on just that one question. Think about potential answers, practice answering the question out loud, and work on it throughout the day. And the next day do the same. This will add up overtime and benefit you in the future.                                                                                                             
  • Have a lazy day. Not every single day is going to be the most productive day you have. Some days are going to be hard and some days are going to be not so hard. Sometimes you need to lay back on the couch and relax. Tomorrow can be another day of work!

Applying Out of Your Comfort Zone

By: Isabella Antignani

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This past winter I had the opportunity to work with a healthcare PR, marketing, and health communications consulting firm right here in Newark, Delaware, Tipton Health Communications. They specialize in assisting healthcare facilities (hospitals) in strategizing their internal and/or external PR campaigns. Tipton also has a consulting side to it, called Magnet and Pathway to Excellence. With these, Tipton focuses on giving guidance to nursing programs at hospitals to earn either Magnet status or Pathway to Excellence. Magnet is a program created by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and it’s considered one of the highest recognitions in nursing excellence. Pathway recognizes healthcare organizations who have great practices where nurses excel. 

When I first applied to Tipton at the end of this past fall semester, I was worried because I had absolutely no experience in healthcare PR. I had seen their job posting on Handshake, and I wanted one last bit of experience before graduating (I highly recommend this), so I decided to just go for it. When I went in for the first round of interviews, I mentioned that I didn’t have any experience working with healthcare, however I knew it was a field that I was curious about. They reassured me that this was the kind of place that teaches you anything you would need to know, and I think that my enthusiasm and willingness to learn made a great impression. I’ve found that whenever you apply for something new or out of your comfort zone/area of expertise, if you show that you are willing to put in the work to learn, they will happily bring you on and teach you along the way. 

Because I went into this internship not up to speed on pretty much anything within healthcare PR, I knew that I would be learning every step of the way. That meant making sure I was always attentive in every meeting, every internship check-in with my supervisor, not be afraid to ask questions (even if they seemed small or dumb, I was learning after all), and to do some research of my own when assigned certain projects. 

I ask professionals now about their college experience and if they studied this particular career field. Many times professionals are surprised to see where their work takes them, but many know what they want to do and do just that. I ask them if they felt ill-prepared for their positions, and they just said it took a lot of catching up and researching. It just goes to show that even after graduating there will always be times where we still have to learn! Trust me, it can be fun when you’re working on projects and with companies you’re passionate about.

Top Seven Reasons Why You Should Go on Professor Bartoo’s London Study Abroad Program

By: Katie Coulson

Have you ever wanted to study abroad? Have you ever wanted to study abroad in London? Here are top seven reasons why you should apply to Professor Bartoo’s study abroad program.

  1. You get a hands on learning experience. On this program, you learn both inside and outside of the classroom. The main focus of the program is advertising and international public relations. Some days, time is spent learning in a classroom.  Then we would travel to a certain monument, cultural site, museum, or palace, and tie in our classroom knowledge to the site. For example, one class was spent analyzing tube advertisements. We discussed certain colors, certain fonts, and why certain advertisements were placed in specific tube station rather than others across the city. When I traveled inside a tube station that same day, I was able to apply my knowledge and analyze advertisements. I was able to personally see why a font was a certain way and why an advertisement was placed in a certain section and not the other. I had a hands on learning experience.
  2. You visit REAL WORLD agencies. Edelman, which is currently the biggest public relations firm in the world, was a highlight of the trip. While learning all about public relations and advertising, we got to visit, tour, and meet with FOUR public relations and advertising agencies. During our visits, we got to hear people with REAL JOBS and got to participate in activities that the company would actually do. The employees talked to us about their passions and day to day jobs, while also giving us advice about the workforce. It was a great real world experience which will prepare me for the future interviews and job opportunities.
  3. IMG_6683.jpegProfessor Bartoo makes the most out of every single experience. Many abroad professors can be boring. Professor Bartoo was anything but boring. On all tours, excursions, and class trips, she made sure to ask questions and made comments about how the information related to our class. She made the most out of every experience. She also invited us on other, outside of classroom tours that were useful and informative. She was a great resource to have in our hotel and I felt very comfortable going to her for anything I needed. She is excited for every single student and clearly cares about her students. Still to this day, I receive emails from Professor Bartoo about our London program and memories we made.
  4. You learn about more than just advertising and public relations. The two classes you take on the program are “introduction to advertising” and “international public relations.” I learned a lot about advertising and public relations through both of those courses however, I learned much more than that. I learned about the world. My friends and I had weekends to travel and we traveled to Copenhagen and Dublin. Traveling to these other countries, I stepped out of my comfort zone. I was able to see the world and experience a place other than my own country. I fully submerged myself into a totally different culture than my own and I am so grateful for that experience. 
  5. I got to visit cultural excursions I probably wouldn’t have gone if I was alone. With our trip, we got tickets to Hampton Court Palace, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Tower of London, and St. Pauls Cathedral. All of these trips were long days and full of information, but they were well worth it. I learned about English history in ways I never thought I would and I actually enjoyed learning about it. All of these places surprised me and I took a lot away from them all. 
  6. London is a great place to study advertising and public relations. I’ve said this many times but our program was able to take the knowledge we learned in the classroom, out in the city. We were able to analyze advertisements in tube stations and learn about how companies and brands advertise their products. With many advertising and public relations firms located in London, it was a perfect place to study. London is also a major international city with lots to do, all day everyday. We were able to make the most out of everyday and every experience we had. 
  7. The people. 22 people were on my program, which included Professor Bartoo and one program assistant. Many of the students are in the communication school, but a small number of students were other majors. Many of the other students had similar interests and similar career goals as me. This made the classroom environment better and easier to work with. While we were all similar, we were all from a variety of campus organizations and clubs. This meant that we had a lot of different backgrounds and were able to use those backgrounds to our advantages. I also made lifelong friendships that I not only consider just my “abroad” friends, but I hang out with them back on UD’s campus.

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Overall, I highly recommend applying for Professor Bartoo’s study abroad program. I made many memories that I will never forget. I learned more than I ever thought I would, not only about advertising and public relations, but about the world and myself as a person. Professor Bartoo made my abroad program the best it can possibly be and I cannot imagine going on any other program.

Night with the Pros Recap

By: Sammy Chmara

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This week, we had the honor of welcoming 5 Communication professionals from a group of diverse organizations to join us for a highly interactive and informative panel. The experts gave us a little taste of what their professional journeys have entailed and how they got to where they are today. They also gave great advice and tips for landing a job or internship. Guests included Janelle Mazur; Digital Marketing Manager at Dogfish Head, Nicolette Kerr; Global Marketing Communications Specialist at Agilent Technologies, Christine McCann; Public Relations Account Executive at Aloysius Butler & Clark, Keri Papili; Marketing Specialist at Wilmington University, and Scott Day; Assistant Athletic Director of UD Athletics.

Christine McCann handles the PR and Social Media at Aloysius Butler & Clark where she is also in charge of their seasonal interns. McCann emphasized the importance of maintaining strong communication with all of her companies teams in order to ensure the best possible deliveries to her clients. She said figuring out the best way to communicate with all of her clients is also crucial, as everybody has different needs. McCann suggested that student interns interested in getting invited back to work in the future should be in a good place with all employees and make it known that they would love to come back. She also informed us of how important it is for interns to connect with everyone from your company on LinkedIn, even if they’re in another department.

Janelle Mazur said she landed a job at Dogfish from tweeting at them to see if they had any internship opportunities. Since then, she’s done customer service and now is creating paid and organic content for the brewery’s social media sites. She says that one of the most important elements of working for a food and beverage company is paying attention to customers and making sure that her projects best fit what they want to see. 

Scott Day’s job with University of Delaware Athletics is fast paced, constantly on the go, and fun. He says his job handles a lot of different components; from coaches, to staff, to interviews, to marketing. He says from the media side, it’s important to remember who the target audience is. He also suggests that interns at any company are always willing to learn new tasks and take any opportunity that comes their way.

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Keri Papili, UD PRSSA alumni member, talked about her experience prior to the higher education industry. She worked for Archer Group, where she did the social media for many well known companies like Wawa. She said she loved the collaborative culture she was exposed to in an agency environment. She said the most important part of her job was to look at competitor companies social media to see what they’re doing, and then try to work around that. She also talked about how important it is to network and stay in touch with professionals. Being in contact consistently is ideal, instead of just reaching out when in search of a job or internship.

Nicolette Kerr emphasized the importance of writing skills and how one needs to get their ideas across right of the bat. She is currently a global marketing communications specialist at Agilent Technologies in Wilmington. She said it’s important to get a sense of how your company writes and get any experience early on. She also explained how being an English major, she had little experience with science but still was able to succeed doing Marketing for a technology company.

Overall, all panel members were able to stress the importance of internship experience, continuous networking, and jumping for any opportunity you can get. We are so happy we got to hear from all of our panel members this week. We know that we were able to take away so much from this event!