Spotify’s Special Weapon

By: Suki Paul

Music lover or not, you’ve probably heard about the Apple Music vs Spotify debate. It’s not surprising that this argument has been going on for years due to their loyal fan bases and the similarities between both platforms. Despite the fact that both Apple Music and Spotify provide a wide variety of music, give you the option to create playlists with others, and offer different plan options, there’s something that places Spotify on top. In December 2020, Spotify revamped its “Spotify Wrapped” concept, giving it a comparative advantage over Apple. But, why has this idea been so effective over the last couple of years?

Spotify Wrapped is essentially a music report which allows users to see their “listening personality” and different facts about their streaming habits throughout the year. This includes but is not limited to the total hours that the user has spent listening to music, their top 100 songs, what listening percentage they fall under for their favorite artists, and even allows them to hear messages from the artists themselves. Spotify’s colorful and interactive report successfully captures attention because it provides user generated content; it measures aspects of their listening history in an easily digestible and comparable way.Personally, I love to see how different my friends and family’s Wrapped are compared to mine even if we like a lot of the same music. It also sparks conversation and connects you to people who have similar tastes. Another thing to note is that Spotify Wrapped creates a fun, suspenseful competition where people have to wait until the end of the year to find out the results. Friends can share their Wrapped and see who’s really a music aficionado and do their claims match up to their results. After all, are you really a fan of your favorite artist if you’re not in their top 10% of listeners? 

Likewise, Spotify Wrapped shareability leverages the immense power of social media. With just a click of a button, your Wrapped can quickly be shared on Instagram or Snapchat, which gets the people you follow involved and places a spotlight on Spotify. “In 2020, Spotify Wrapped was responsible for increasing Spotify’s mobile app downloads by 21% in the first week of December” (Moengage). In order to prevent FOMO (the fear of missing out), non-Spotify users are tempted to make the switch and many actually take the bait. Spotify then becomes more than a music streaming platform, it becomes a social tool; and in a generation where social media dominates, that’s gold!

Tips for Moderating a Panel

By Stella Galli

This Monday I moderated the PRSSA Beauty PR panel on Zoom, and it was an amazing experience that taught me the value of good preparation. We had five incredible panelists who all were established in the beauty industry, and I am grateful that they were able to teach the PRSSA members as well as myself the ins and outs of the industry. 

As a moderator, you have the responsibility of guiding the conversation, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to speak and staying on track with the intended topic. It requires a level of preparation and professionalism to make it successful. 

Here are some of my tips for having a successful panel:

DO: Educate Yourself

The most important thing you can do as a moderator is to educate yourself on the industry or topic you are moderating. This ensures that you have a deep understanding of the subject matter and can guide the conversation appropriately. It is essential to research the panelists and their backgrounds, as well as any relevant trends, news, or industry developments.

For instance, when I was preparing to moderate the beauty panel, I was sure to stay on top of all of the relevant beauty influencers and read up on  PR Week to stay informed about the latest trends and innovations in the beauty industry from a PR perspective. 

DO: Practice Active Listening

Active listening is critical when moderating a panel. Pay attention to the panelists’ responses, ask follow-up questions, and engage in the conversation. When panelists feel heard and valued, they will be more likely to share their insights and expertise.

DO: Prepare Questions Ahead of Time

Preparing questions ahead of time is a crucial step in moderating a panel successfully. It allows you to steer the conversation in a particular direction, ensuring that the panel stays on track and covers all of the essential topics. By preparing questions, you can also help the panelists feel more comfortable and confident in their responses. Be sure to prepare open-ended questions that encourage discussion and allow the panelists to share their unique insights and experiences. That means, make sure no question is a simple yes or no answer, but a more in-depth response.

In conclusion, moderating a panel can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By following these three simple tips, you can help ensure a successful panel that engages the audience, educates them on the topic, and provides valuable insights from the panelists. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to moderate the beauty PR panel with five fabulous panelists who made it run seamlessly. 

I hope that you all enjoyed the panel, and gained valuable insights into the beauty industry and PR!

Sentimental, Budget Friendly Gift Ideas

By Janina Camp

As the holidays are right around the corner, I’m sure most of you are brainstorming gifts to get for your friends and family. Not only that– but with the various discounts and sales that pop up, from Black Friday, to Cyber Monday, to general holiday deals, you’re likely shopping for yourself as well. And even if you’re not, then it’s safe to say you’re still constantly exposed to holiday advertising and promotions. I, for instance, just recently purchased a few candles from Bath & Body Works for the sole reason that they were on sale. 

With all of this in mind, it is important to think before you buy. In the midst of all the frenzy to buy a ton of things you (and potentially your friends and family) likely don’t need, I’m encouraging you to slow down and consider other ways to make this holiday special. Here are a few gift ideas that are budget-friendly, thoughtful, and don’t encourage overconsumption: 

  1. Craft something! Do you have any artistic skill or creativity? I’m sure some of you are saying: absolutely not. But even if you don’t, this is still a viable option. You may even discover that you have more talent than you think! Let’s say you know how to crochet – why not make a hat or coaster? Or, maybe you have some old paints laying around. I’m sure your friend or family member would appreciate a painting equally as much (if not more) than a bought gift. 
  2. Write down wonderful moments. One year, when I was particularly short on cash, I decided to fill a jar with fun memories from the year that I had spent with my friend. I wrote them down on small pieces of paper, folded them up, and watched the jar fill with colorful bits of memories! Not only is this special and sentimental, it is a cute decoration for your friend or family member’s room. 
  3. Make a playlist or mixtape. This one is pretty simple — put together some of your friend’s favorite songs, or songs you think they’d like, and share the playlist with them! Or, better yet, make it a mixtape. Not as many people listen to CD’s anymore, but physical copies always showcase that little bit of extra effort. 
  4. Scrapbook or photo album. You may have to spend a bit of money on this, for instance, on printing out photos and a book to put them in. But, it’s still relatively budget-friendly, very sentimental, and something that your loved one will appreciate for years and years to come. 
  5. Homemade food. Lastly, if you love to cook, or have been dying to try out a new recipe, then this is the perfect option for you! Almost everyone loves food, so offering to cook dinner one night or even making a batch of cookies is a great way to showcase your love. 

I’m sure there’s infinite ways to craft the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Keep in mind that whatever you choose, it’s always the thought that counts. I hope everyone has a wonderful winter break! 🙂

The Power of Heart First Authenticity

What David Grossman taught me about a new level of inspired and authentic leadership, the “Heart First” approach.

By: Dani Raskin

DALLAS- After picking up the Organizational & Community Leadership minor, I grew a deep interest in  employee engagement, company culture and organizational development. I have had the chance to do deep dives into organizations and evaluate their leadership, values and framework. 

I eagerly signed up for the session titled “The Power of Heart First Authenticity,” at ICON. I was captivated by the title and the description of the session, but was blown away after the session.

David Grossman is an award-winning leadership and communications expert as well an advisor, CEO and author who helps organizations get the results they want through strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy. Grossman coined the term “Heart First” leadership, which is all about leading with humanity. This concept is based on the outward focus on others, authenticity and empathy.

As he was presenting, I was thinking back to my courses and the organizations I looked into. It was clear which organizations were using this method and which were not. Those that know how to lead with more heart and more humanity, are those who run more successful organizations with less turnover.

David Grossman was able to connect the Heart First approach to his personal life. His story was truly inspiring. He feels his best when using his heart and being his authentic self. He has dedicated his life to helping others feel that same way.

He provided us with the three steps to “Heart First” leadership. 

  1. Know Yourself
    1. Listen to that inner voice
    2. Get to know your leadership style
    3. Make a list of people you admire who lead with their heart
  2. Be Your Best Self
    1. What are your values? 
    2. Talk out loud (allows you to self correct)
  3. Have Quiet Courage
    1. Listen to others
    2. Communicate in a way where others can hear you
    3. Empathize and express compassion (everyone has a story)

I had many key takeaways from this presentation. A few being: Embrace who you are – our imperfections create connections with others, focus on what you can control, and don’t follow someone else’s path – you always have choices.

I can’t wait to read more about this leadership style in Heart First by David Grossman. 

Thank you so much to David & ICON for this amazing session!

Behind the Scenes Look into Agency Life

By: Emma Churgin

At PRSSA ICON 2022 I was fortunate enough to listen to three excellent speakers about the behind-the-scenes look into agency life. These speakers were Jennifer Little: the Executive Vice President and Texas market leader at BCW, Scott Pansky: Co-Founder and Senior Partner at Allison+Partners and Valerie Beesley: Vice President at Finn Partners.

When the speakers were asked about why they prefer working in an agency rather than in-house they said that it is a personal preference. Scott Pansky has been at Allison+Partners for over 21 years. Making it very clear he has loved agency life and is not planning on leaving it just yet. He said he is “having fun in the sandbox – the day I’m not having fun is the day I find a new sandbox.” I appreciated the way he had a youthful view of his career by comparing it to a sandbox. It was also said that agency is about the people, you are given the chance to work with so many different people which allows you to gain more insight. 

With Gen Z being the future of the industry it is important to note how PR is evolving. With that, Valerie said that agencies need to be more aware of their audience reach and start making more integrated campaigns. Utilizing multiple channels will gain more reach for the client and implies that there is a unified tone as to which the stakeholders can connect with. Another prediction for the industry that Jennifer had brought up related to the controversy that currently surrounds Twitter. With the mystery of where Musk is taking the company Agencies to need to be aware of other platforms going in a similar direction. Lastly, press releases have been in the industry forever, Scott believes that they are not going anywhere, however, he believes they will evolve with the industry due to the changing environment. 

One last question was asked prior to wrapping up with the speakers; If you had to offer advice, what would it be? The advice given was; don’t be shy and share your voice in meetings. Companies need younger opinions and we have the freshest ideas in order to help them evolve. Stay curious; keep asking questions and never stop learning. Lastly, we need to be ok with making mistakes. The mistakes we make help us learn about ourselves and help us grow. The advice given really resonated with me and I appreciate all the speakers taking their time to help us. 

Being able to attend ICON this year in Dallas has been such an amazing experience. I am truly grateful I got the opportunity to learn from such admirable professionals.

What Motivates a Celebrity to Say “Yes!”

What Rita Tateel taught me about the celebrity public relations business.

By Stella Galli

DALLAS – If you know me, you know that the one thing I am on top of is celebrity gossip. At my first internship at JMG Public Relations, I was introduced to working on celebrity brand partnership projects and instantly became obsessed with the idea of working with celebrities in the public relations field. Therefore, when I saw that there was a professional development session at ICON with the President of Celebrity Source, an agency that supports celebrity booking companies, I quickly signed up.

Rita Tateel is well-known for getting celebrities to say yes – the single-most challenging thing to get celebrities to do. But how does she do it? After attending her informational session, here were some of my biggest takeaways on how to do so:

Make sure the celebrity knows what’s in it for them. This is the first thing that the celebrity will want to know – how will this benefit them? Sometimes, money is not a big enough motivator. For celebrities who are already very wealthy, a $100,000 payout won’t mean that much to them. Be sure to connect what you are asking them to do has a more meaningful purpose to their overall brand, purpose, or interests. So, what are some of the things you can tie into this?

  1. Media exposure. Media exposure is a great way to motivate two different kinds of celebrities: celebrities who are up and coming (on the rise) or down and going (used to have lots of exposure and are starting to be forgotten in the public eye).
  2. Personal interests. When it comes to persuading celebrities by bringing a hobby they love to do into the equation, Rita specifically said almost no celebrity will turn down one thing: golf! She has been able to sway celebrities to attend events for just a few minutes, take some photos, answer some questions by pointing out that the celebrity can go golfing after. 
  3. Perks and gifts. To put it quite simply: celebrities are humans. What do humans love? Gifts. As Rita explained, gifting nearly always works. 
  4. Connecting it to their hometown. When the celebrity feels a sense of connection that brings them back to their roots, they feel more compelled to be a part of it. Rita explained that when they were curating celebrities to be a part of the “Don’t Mess With Texas” littering campaign, celebrities born and raised in Texas were excited to be a part of it. 

While Rita shared all of these key influences to get a celebrity to say yes, she also gave us beyond compelling insight into the celebrities’ psychology, as well as what to avoid when trying to secure a celebrity.

Thank you to Rita and ICON for a thought-provoking session!

My Tips for Landing a Summer Internship

By: Janina Camp

Picture of Janina in professional attire for her internship

This time last year, I was a junior looking to secure an internship for the summer. I felt intimidated by the process, and after multiple rejections, I was starting to lose hope. Eventually, I landed a marketing internship with The Delaware River and Bay Authority, even though I was up against numerous applicants. What made me stand out amongst the others? In retrospect, I believe there are three things I did which gave me a competitive advantage. 

1. Attend UD’s Career Fair and Research the Employers Beforehand 

I discovered DRBA’s internship opportunities simply by searching on Google for marketing internships in my area. When spring semester came around, I noticed DRBA was attending UD’s career fair, so I took the opportunity to meet with them one on one. I met with a woman named Rosa, who was excited to hear that I was familiar with DRBA and had already applied for the marketing internship. She said she would put in a good word and help me  interview with the marketing department. 

If I hadn’t gone to the fair that day, it’s possible I would have never been offered an interview. At the end of the day, networking is vital and your connections are everything.

2. If Possible, Apply to Multiple Positions at the Same Company/Organization

While I was at the career fair, Rosa recommended that I apply for the communications internship. I had previously only applied for the marketing internship because that is the role I was most interested in. However, if there are multiple positions that you feel could match your skill set, why not apply to them all?

In retrospect, I can see more clearly how it benefited me to apply for both. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed for both positions, and because of that, both the communications department and marketing department knew my name. If I wasn’t a perfect fit for one of the roles– then I could be recommended for the other. In my opinion, it demonstrates your interest in the business and increases your chances of being selected. 

3. Understand the Company/Organization and Position You’re Applying For

Always make sure you research what the business does, their history, and any other relevant information. This is especially important to do before an interview. The night before I had my interview for the communications internship, I made sure I would be able to answer the question “What do you know about the DRBA?” Which, to my surprise, was the first question they asked me – before they even asked me about myself. 

Because of the research I did beforehand, I successfully answered the question and was told it was the best answer they’d heard in the many years they’d been interviewing. I was shocked, I thought my answer was relatively simplistic. It turns out – DRBA is a complex organization, and many misunderstand what they do, or don’t fully realize the breadth of each sector. “Once, someone said ‘uh, you do work with the water, and stuff’” said TJ, the man who interviewed me. 

Even if you think you understand a business, always go back and check again. While they may not ask you, it’s important to be prepared if they do. 

I hope my tips help you in your journey of securing an internship this summer! Remember that there are endless opportunities out there and I know anyone reading this is going to find success. Here are a few bonus tips:

  • Always write a cover letter, even if it’s optional 
  • Bring a notepad and pen to the interview in case you need to write something down. It looks good if you are prepared.
  • Email a thank-you note 24-48 hours after the interview 
  • Have confidence!

The Ethics of Influencing and Gifted Content

By: Hayley Grossbauer

Social media has permanently changed the field of Public Relations. Not only has it just arisen in the 21st century, but it is constantly evolving, with new platforms coming out all the time. This challenges us in the field of public relations to keep up with these trends and to utilize them to our advantage. One of the ways PR professionals have done that is through the use of sponsorships with celebrities and influencers. However, there are some blurred lines when it comes to the ethics of sponsored posts. In this day and age, it is important that we start to set guidelines in order to not mislead consumers. It is common to see hashtags alluding to sponsorship, like “#ad” or “#spon,” at the end of a sponsored post, but is that the correct form of disclosure? What are the guidelines surrounding this, if there are any? 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that influencers should disclose a relationship with a brand when they are receiving monetary compensation or even products for free. It suggests that hashtags alluding to endorsement are not a quality way to show a sponsorship or brand deal, and influencers should instead treat sponsorship tags like any other brand deal., an organization dedicated to fighting against deceptive advertising, says that an influencer needs to disclose their financial, employment, personal, or family relationship with a brand whenever they express their opinion on said brand, regardless of whether they were paid, gifted, given a discount, etc. Influencers have a responsibility to their audience to provide truthful information. According to an article for Vanity Fair from 2017, around 90 celebrities received letters from the FTC as cease and desists for lack of disclosure on sponsored media, including Kim Kardashian, Anne Hathway, and Gigi Hadid. Celebrities are known for receiving thousands of dollars per sponsored post, so it is important that they follow ethical guidelines set by the FTC for full disclosure to audiences. The FTC did not plan to take legal action, but they do have the power to in the future. 

One area of PR that came to mind when we discussed ethics in my Communication class, COMM309: Introduction to Public Relations, was about beauty influencers and the cosmetic industry. Beauty influencers are known to receive boxes of new products that beauty brands put out, referred to as PR boxes. They often include new products in decorated packaging with other free items related to the products. I have noticed this more and more in recent years on platforms like Tiktok or Instagram, but I even grew up watching “unboxings” and reviews on Youtube. I spoke to University of Delaware Professor Tara Smith about the ethics of gifted and sponsored content, in general and in relation to the beauty industry, and this is what I learned from our discussion:

1. It’s all about disclosure.

Never assume that your audience knows that a product was sponsored or gifted. The reason gifted collaborations have such a gray area is because many fail to or don’t know how to properly tell their audience that the items are gifted. The FTC suggests that influencers avoid things like only putting a vague hashtag at the end of a post like “#gifted,” and, instead, make it as transparent as possible to the audience that there is a brand relationship. This can be done by fully and clearly stating in a video or post that the content was gifted. The FTC even says that thanking the brand for the products could be a proper way to disclose a business relationship if put in an obvious place of the post, same with the words ad, advertisement, or sponsorship. When a business relationship is fully disclosed in a post, the post would be considered ethical. 

2. You can give gifted items to influencers, but there is more of a gray area when gifting to those outside of that category, like journalists. 

A big part of beauty influencers’ jobs in this day and age is receiving gifted or sponsored content and posting about it. But there are gray areas when there are people who are influencers but also may work as a blogger or a journalist for a beauty magazine. Journalists are actually not allowed to receive any forms of gifts. Instead, a journalist may buy the product themself or borrow the product from the brand and give it back after their review or article. 

3. Know who you are gifting to. 

This is a big one. If an influencer has a history of just using a vague hashtag at the end of their post, this may not be an influencer that you want to work with. Know who you are gifting to and what their morals are, and make it clear about the guidelines you want them to follow to properly disclose the brand/ influencer relationship.

Overall, although it is generally considered the PR professional’s responsibility that the influencer discloses a brand relationship, I think that there needs to be more education on both sides about the ethics of gifted and sponsored posts to create the most ethical content for consumers. There are a lot of gray areas, but the main takeaway from my research and conversations has been this: when it comes to sponsored or gifted content, transparency is the most important thing. Always disclose, and disclose properly, in accordance with FTC guidelines. 

Not So Pitch Perfect

By: Zoe Shapiro

Picture of Zoe Shapiro in front of her "Pitch Perfect" presentation.

As the Director of Internal Professional Development for PRSSA-UD, I host two skill slams per semester. A skill slam teaches the members an industry-sought skill that is centered around professional development. Our first Skill Slam dissected how publicists write pitches to journalists and, taking inspiration from the movie Pitch Perfect, I called it “Pitch Perfect.” 

For those who don’t know, a key part of PR is pitching to journalists. PR professionals need journalists as conduits for getting important messages about their clients out to the public. And journalists rely on PR experts as sources for story ideas and relevant information on ongoing stories. 

A “pitch” is usually executed via email – as short, personalized messages that outline the value of a story and why it should be published. And just like anything else, it’s very competitive -there are typically about six PR professionals for every journalist, and 95% of pitches are rejected by journalists. This is due to fast news cycles, unprecedented media outlets, and not customizing the pitch for the specific journalist. 

In the weeks leading up to the Skill Slam, I spent time researching the topic and creating a presentation that wasn’t just informative but creative and engaging. As a public speaking tutor at the University of Delaware, I know the difficulty of keeping an audience’s attention, especially for an hour.

When it was time to present, I had a plan. I was going to present, ask questions along the way, and finish it out with a fun activity that allowed the members to write their own pitch about a made-up company and send it to me, “the journalist.”

As I reflect back on the skill slam, I think it was a success, but it didn’t go exactly how I planned it. I anticipated talking more throughout my presentation and devoting less time to the activity. Thankfully, it turned out to be the exact opposite.

Every member pitched for the same client, but everyone wrote it differently- whether it was the information used, their writing style, or even their creative flair to make it stand out from the rest. I provided the members with tools on how you are supposed to write the perfect PR pitch, but they taught me a much bigger lesson- there is no perfect pitch. We all sat around and picked out our favorite subject lines and read the pitch, discussing what we liked and didn’t like. Everyone’s opinions varied in the responses, much as they each expressed the same idea in a unique way in their own pitch.

I thought with all my research, I knew how to pitch, but it wasn’t until I saw the variety of everyone’s responses that I realized I had been wrong. While there are tools at your disposal to learn how to write a pitch and learn which journalist to send it to, the key is personalization, creativity, and confidence.

While I was in charge of this Skill Slam, the members highlighted the importance of what PRSSA means to me. PRSSA is a community of people who work together to learn and practice professional skills in a safe and encouraging environment. It is a community that I am very proud to be in, and I continue to learn new skills every day from the members of PRSSA!

PRSSA-UD’s Field Trip to the Wells Fargo Center!

By Emma Churgin

This past Tuesday, October 4th, PRSSA-UD and the UD Sports Marketing Club went on a field trip to meet the Sports Marketing and Communications team for the Philadelphia Flyers. This was a fantastic experience where we learned more about the ins and outs of each professional’s role. The field trip included a panel where we were able to ask each member questions and then was followed by a pre-season game with the Philadelphia Flyers against the New York Islanders. 

We spoke to four professionals; the Events Director, the Senior Marketing Director, the Communications Director, and the Senior Group Sales Representative. All of the members were enthusiastic when talking to us and gave advice about how they started their careers to get to where they are now. The most inspiring advice that I took from them was the importance of being confident in yourself to take on different roles while still being able to rely on your team members. Each member’s role is fast-paced; they need to think quickly and be on top of their game and they have admitted this could get overwhelming. However, having confidence in yourself, as well as in your team members, will make the work much more enjoyable.

I was amazed to hear of all the projects that their roles had included. To give an example, the Events Director, Lyric Hamilton, is in charge of setting up each Flyers game as well as setting up concerts with artists like Ariana Grande and Lizzo. She is also the backbone of everything getting done within the arena. Due to the nature of her role, she is constantly working, and setting boundaries with her work life is very important to prevent burnout. When asked where she would like to progress with her career, Lyric Hamilton shared that she aspires to own the Wells Fargo Center; and with her strong personality and commanding work ethic, she persuaded me that she will make that goal a reality.

The team also shared their favorite stories when working in their roles. One that stood out to me was when Senior Marketing Director, Ben Dicandilo, told the story about how Gritty became the team mascot. He said that he was one of the creators for deciding on every feature of the mascot including the color, size, and eye shape. Over time when they had just a few options left they decided to go with the more “crazy” option. If you have ever seen a picture of Gritty, you would understand what he meant by crazy. The day Gritty was introduced to the Flyers Ben Dicandilo shared that the team went to Twitter to see how the fans would react. Posts said things such as, ‘the marketing team needs to be fired’ ‘what were they thinking, etc. However, there was enough press about the mascot that publications like GMA and Jimmy Fallon called to get Gritty on. The marketing team took a risk and it clearly paid off. 

Overall, the field trip was an amazing professional experience with the help of the panel. I am thankful I got to share this experience with other PRSSA members and I’m glad I got to hear from the panel!