PRSA ICON 2021: Media Pitching Rules, Master PR Writing, Proving Brand Purpose 

By Rachel Ornstein

Though hosted virtually again this year, the PRSA International Conference offered various powerhouse sessions with professional speakers. The last three weeks involved attending live webinar sessions in between classes or watching recorded sessions from the day before. Here is a roundup of my biggest takeaways from a few sessions that resonated with me.

Mastering PR Writing in 2021

Speakers: John Bianchi and Kelly Quigley 

As any aspiring public relations practitioner knows, the name of the game in this practice is writing. In this session, I learned about the core writing skills required for different types of writing such as social media posts, speeches, and news releases. Among many, here are three of my takeaways: 

  1. Remove unnecessary words or phrases like “that,” “in order to,” and “to start” in your writing
  2. Write press releases in AP style to give journalists the option to use as much of your content in their story, as AP Style is their language  
  3. Use the active voice in your writing by having the subject act and the object receive the action.

Ex: Passive Voice: “The report was released by the CEO” 

      Active Voice: “The CEO released the report” 

Media Pitching Rules for 2022 

Speaker: Michael Smart

A common practice of public relations is media pitching, but as time goes on, the rules change to stay effective. In this session, I learned how to have the most success with media pitching in 2022. The key point for practitioners was to niche down their media lists, as that is what consumers are doing in their news consumption. 

The speaker said to niche down to daily newsletters rather than pitching to big organizations for higher results. He claimed media outlets who win in today’s landscape will do the best job at serving their focused audience instead of a broad one. Overall, the formula for media success is quality with niche audiences.

He also shared a tip for pitching outlets that involve subscription-based newsletters. These are outlets less interested in the shareability or virality of news since they are focused on serving their core audience. Therefore, the objective needs to be credible when pitching to them, because the focus is on being showcased in that specific outlet to their niche audience. 

Pledges to Purpose: Proving Brand Purpose in 2021

Speakers: James Wright, Ben Boyd, Ruth Harper

Now more than ever, brand purpose needs to be proven and not just stated. In this session, I learned about what it truly takes to prove brand purpose in today’s landscape.

A statistic shared in this session claimed that 73% of people think brands must act now for the good of society and the planet. This made me think of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as companies can’t just exist for their own purpose nowadays; instead, they must have a larger positive impact on society and the world. 

My biggest takeaway from this session involved the three pillars underlying brand purpose and examples to demonstrate them:

  1. Wellbeing Before Everything

This pillar represents the heightened importance of employee wellbeing. The speakers showcased the brand Salesforce as an example, as they conducted internal surveys with their employees to gauge topics of interest and things that the company can improve on to better their working environment.

  1. Doubling Down on DE&I

This next pillar encompasses the importance of how companies need to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to DE&I efforts, as it’s not just talking about the efforts the organization plans to implement, it’s about actually doing so. Paypal exemplified this idea by funding $500 million dollars to support black and minority businesses in addition to the company’s internal diversity program.

  1. Counteracting Climate Change

This third pillar demonstrates the importance of CSR and how audiences are keeping brands accountable by making sure their efforts focus on the sustainability of our planet. To exemplify this, Mercedez Benz published an article by the company’s CEO detailing the comparison of learnings from the COVID-19 global crisis, and how society can adapt these same takeaways to the global crisis of climate change. In addition, the CEO specified how Mercedez Benz implemented sustainability practices.

Overall, I enjoyed the opportunity to attend many sessions that reflected what the PR and Communication industry looks like today. I learned the most sought-out writing practices, the media pitching practices of next year, and how companies are held to a higher accountability standard by their audiences.

My Summer Internship at HUNTER PR

By Evelyn Zanowski

This summer I had the pleasure of interning at NYC-based integrated marketing and PR firm, HUNTER PR who have recently been named the Consumer Agency of the Year by Provoke Media. The agency is led by PRSSA-UD alumnus Grace Leong, and work with a variety of brands such as Tabasco (their first client ever!), Amazon, and Diageo brand liquors.

This summer, I served as the Marketing and New Business Development Intern and worked directly with the agency’s internal marketing division. During my time at HUNTER, I would consider my role a “jack of all trades,” as I was ready to help with whatever was needed to be done. No day was the same, and that was something I loved about my experience! Other responsibilities of mine included creating media audits for potential new clients, creating social media content for the agencies’ social platforms, and proofread some important RFIs! What is an RFI you might ask? It is a request for information and a process for PR agencies to complete when reaching out to new clients looking for an agency to work with. It was exciting to see all the behind-the-scenes work that is done to obtain new clients!

I went in wanting to learn as much as I could and to virtually make as many connections as possible. A unique aspect about HUNTER I noticed is how involved higher-level staff works to create connections with everyone at the company. I also enjoyed getting to know my fellow interns who study at other schools around the country. 

I want to thank PRSSA-UD for this opportunity, as I served as the Barbara Hunter Fellow, a program that allows one student from UD to work at HUNTER during their summer internship program. My engagement in PRSSA helped me obtain this role, and I encourage other members to get involved as well. 

On the last week of my internship, I was able to visit the NYC office which is in the One World Trade Center. I got to see breathtaking 360-degree views of NYC and was able  to meet my supervisor, Cal, as well as other staff members. I truly enjoyed the culture, energy, and work ethic of HUNTER, and I hope to one day work for this incredible company. Thank you to everyone who made this such an unforgettable experience.

Hazy view of midtown!
The fun HUNTER wall of work!
The HUNTER front lounge, Barbara Hunter’s desk!
View of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

3 Lessons I Learned From Moderating a Panel

By Lia Hyman

It’s no secret that I really enjoy public speaking, so, naturally, I was ecstatic when I discovered that my role as Diversity Director included moderating the Spring Diversity and Ethics panel for PRSSA-UD. As I planned out the event, I determined themes to focus on, panelists to invite, and ways to engage an audience overwhelmed by Zoom burnout.

As I reflect on the incredibly thought-provoking panel I moderated last month, I want to share three lessons I learned along the way about planning and moderating a successful panel discussion.

  1. Think Like The Audience 

While drafting questions for the panelists to discuss, I put myself in the shoes of an audience member. “What would I find most interesting and insightful?” I pondered. I needed refreshing content that would benefit college students and established professionals alike, always relating back to the communication field. During this process, I made it my mission to think outside of the “diversity” box and ask questions that reflected the fast-paced landscape of public relations. Prefacing questions with current event references also helped make topics applicable and relatable to listeners. By imagining you’re just another participant on Zoom, you’ll find it easier to formulate stimulating questions. 

  1. Follow The Flow

I’m a planner. I prepared over one billion questions to ask these esteemed professionals and spent many hours researching their work, diversity and inclusion, and the public relations discipline. During the actual event, I probably only asked about six of those questions.. And that’s OK! Map out and clarify the content as much as you see fit, but make sure to follow the natural flow of the discussion when you’re in the thick of it. Be ready to take things in an unexpected direction, and trust your panelists to share their wealth of knowledge accordingly. You can always steer the ship back on course with a re-directing question if need be!

  1. Speak Less, Get More

Honestly, moderating can feel like center stage. The audience and panelists are both looking to you to guide the conversation, and that can fuel your ego. But… You aren’t the star; you’re more like the pilot on a plane, responsible for the passengers on board, avoiding turbulence, and landing safely. This means shining the spotlight on the real stars – your panelists. My uncle advised me, “The less I say as moderator, the happier I am”. Don’t share your own opinions, and only preface questions with the context that’s absolutely necessary. This will help your audience form a memorable connection with your speakers instead of feeling like they’re intruding on a personal conversation.

I hope you’re able to use some of the lessons I learned while planning our Diversity and Ethics panel, and I am honored to have moderated a panel with such seasoned professionals. Thinking about how much I’ve learned fills me with excitement for future moderating opportunities!

If you didn’t get the chance to tune in live, check out the recording of our 2021 Diversity and Ethics Panel HERE!

[https://youtu.be/Iinr497zpC8]

Meeting Recap: Stuart Schorr

By Sammy Chmara

For today’s general meeting, we had the opportunity to hear from Stuart Schorr who is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Jaguar Land Rover North America. It was very interesting getting to hear how the car industry intersects with Communications from a career aspect, as we’ve never heard from a speaker who works with cars. Stuart was a Communications student at the University of Delaware who graduated in 1988 and was able to land his first job in Public Relations right out of college from a contact he had. Stuart highlighted some important components of his role as well as some advice for us students who plan to enter the Public Relations and Media workforce Stuart mentioned how he has always had a love for cars and even came from a background in cars. He explained how being able to mix a passion or interest with a career is really great but can be difficult. Whether you are interested in beauty, fashion, or sports, trying to get a job with one of these markets can help you succeed in your career.

Stuart highlighted his companies car Marketing launch timeline which included the different auto shows he has attended. The Public Relations team was responsible for creating these events and figuring out which media outlets should be invited to get coverage. He explained that in order to decide which outlets should be incited, you should consider who would be most interested and who would be most willing to come. Some of the outlets that have covered his car shows include USA Today, CNBC, Bloomberg, Forbes, and more. The purpose of these shows is to include things that will get the media’s attention where they will want to create a story about it.

Stuart suggests that anyone wanting to pursue a career in Public Relations must have thick skin and not take anything too personally that the media says. He also mentioned that you should avoid blackballing any news outlet that says something negative about your brand because it could ruin your chances of being mentioned positively in a future story.

We had such a great meeting learning about Stuart and his professional journey in the car industry!

Meeting Recap: Paxton Mittleman

By Becky Kazenoff

Guest speaker Paxton Mittleman, a senior associate at Mission North, provided a refreshing and energetic presentation on how to maneuver job applications and professional development during the pandemic. Being a UD PRSSA Vice President of External Affairs alumna, it was encouraging to see how her time at Delaware contributed to much of her success now. She was even a Communication Committee contributor to the platform you’re reading right now. Her blog posts are one of the many examples of what helped build her online portfolio. In addition to PRSSA, she was involved in the Student Television Network, Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority, and was a social media ambassador. 

Paxton gave members her best advice while being personable and providing a comfortable space for any questions. Her extensive involvement at UD and accomplishments give members the motivation to utilize the unique opportunities UD offers. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Paxton’s presentation:

  1. Google yourself and be aware of what your name is associated with. Before entering the workforce and internship search, be sure to scrub your social media of anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother seeing. Think before you post. 
  2. Take advantage of your university’s alumni network. Reach out to someone on LinkedIn whose job you’re interested in. Be proactive and set up informational interviews. Taking those extra steps will pay off later.
  3. Consume news, beyond just reading it. In interviews, they often ask you where you get your news from, what your favorite campaign or advertisement was, etc. Paxton recommends listening to podcasts. Some include “Ad Age” and “Yeah That’s Probably an Ad.” News consumption should become a part of your routine because as a PR professional, it’s important to know current events and be up to date on what is in the best interest of your company and/or client. 
  4. Utilize social media. This means following accounts that share PR-related news and sharing your opinions using hashtags to increase exposure. Think about how you want to brand yourself and what opinions you want to be amplified. Twitter provides a great space for you to pitch yourself and interact with like-minded people. 
  5. Any job can be made relevant. Many of us are struggling more than ever with finding internships due to Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean new skills and experiences can’t be attained. Foodservice or retail jobs, although not related to PR, can still be used to your advantage as you’ll have gained skills like multitasking, customer service, and problem-solving. Don’t neglect any experience you can get during this time. Take this time to create an online portfolio or gain certification of some relevance to your job path. 
  6. It’s important to be employed by a company that provides you with growth opportunities, a supportive environment, and room for your mental health. You will learn something from any job you have, but these three things are non-negotiables. 

Starting Off the Spring

By: Jessica Gardner
Spring has always been a season of new beginnings, and my first week of the
spring semester holds true to this statement. It feels ironic to be writing about springtime when there’s a snowstorm happening on the other side of my window, but regardless of the weather, the University of Delaware’s spring semester has begun. This semester is my first semester on campus!

Seeing as I’ve only been on campus a couple days now I am unable to write
comprehensively about campus life, but I can share my experiences so far. I am very impressed with the University’s dedication to safety. On campus students need to complete a daily health check, and there is also mandatory weekly covid testing. One of the nice things about living on north campus, is that I am a five minute walk from one of the covid testing facilities. Not only is safety enforced through testing, but it’s also enforced during in person events such as eating with other students in the dining hall or during building-wide events that the RAs plan for us.

I’ve definitely enjoyed being here for the past week, but I feel that even if I wasn’t on
campus there would still be many opportunities for me thanks to the University’s robust virtual student life. One skill that I really want to improve this semester is my writing and so, along with volunteering to write blog posts for PRSSA UD, I am also applying to write for The Review. This is something that I can do on or off campus. There are so many online opportunities for students, no matter where they are zooming in from. Even if it may feel far away, things are going to get better, so let’s go into this spring with some much needed optimism!

Meeting Recap: Samantha Antapol

By: Sammy Chmara

In our recent meeting held on November 30th 2020, we were joined by Samantha Antapol who does Marketing, Communications, and Events for Veuve Clicquot. Veuve Clicquot specializes in premium wines and is one of the biggest champagne houses in the world.

Samantha began the meeting by giving us some background on her education, college involvement, and internship experience prior to her current job. Samantha graduated from the University of Delaware as an English major who always dreamed of working at a magazine. She was very involved in UDress as she started as a writer and then was promoted to several higher up roles. She was also part of The Review on campus and PRSSA as a general member. Her writing experience began as she worked for Charolette Ronson as an intern and online editor who wanted to work at Teen Vogue. She has always admired University of Delaware and their PRSSA organization as she felt that these students have gone on to do such amazing things.

Upon graduation, she started as a Freelance Marketing Assistant and Freelance E-commerce Copywriter. Her first real career began at Vogue Magazine in the role of Advertising Assistant and then Coordinator. Her roles consisted of developing media plans and marketing programs. She loved focusing on French fashion and beauty advertisers here.

Her current role with Veuve Clicquot has been extremely rewarding and fun for Samantha as she has gets to do so much on a daily basis. She plans and executes marketing programs and events that LVMH carries out. She partners with PR firms to get their expertise in media relations and focuses heavily on celebrity and influencer relations. She does a lot of celebrity gifting, email marketing, and media buying. She said that even though she didn’t go through with a writing geared career, she still has to do it a lot.

Samantha ended the meeting by giving the group some career focused advice. She first stressed the importance of internships both in college and after. She advised us to intern at different places and not be so focused on just one brand. She also told us that you have to love what you do first and like where you work second. This means that you should care more about your daily roles than the name of where your work. She also addressed the stressful topic of not being able to find a job right after college. She says to just stay in contact with people because it might give you an opportunity and you should always take an opportunity even if it isn’t the exact role you wanted. Lastly, she gave some advice pertaining to interviews. She says be yourself and be upfront about things you don’t know. Additionally, always send a follow-up thank you email or letter.

We are so glad that we got to hear from Samantha and we will definitely be taking her advice to heart!

CURRENT EVENTS IN PUBLIC RELATIONS

By Julia Sciacca

This week held one of the biggest wins for women in public relations. President-elect Biden named his communications team in which all seven roles are held by females. As a young woman looking ahead to her future in the industry, this is a very promising and motivating sign that women will someday be on the same playing field as men without needing to work twice as hard. Along with being fully female, the President-elect’s incoming communications team is very diverse, which will give the country more well-rounded communications.

As the holiday season kicks into full gear after a year of change, the public relations industry will be facing even more unfamiliar situations and tasks. The holiday season is usually one of the most important seasons for advertising, PR campaigns, and marketing, all of which tend to incorporate family together time, community events, and various celebratory gatherings to promote the warm, holiday feeling. How are these industries going to go about capitalizing on the holiday season when gatherings are now unsafe and families may not be celebrating the holidays together? With no surprise, Amazon was one of the first organizations to put out a successful holiday commercial that incorporated COVID, and still gave viewers holiday cheer through fantastic storytelling. Other possible trends for this coming season are an increase in animated content and capitalizing on the nostalgia most people are feeling for holiday seasons past.

This past Saturday, November 28th, the Vanderbilt football team put Sarah Fuller in as their kicker in their game against the University of Missouri. She is now the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game. Fuller is a senior at Vanderbilt and was the goal keeper for the University’s women’s soccer team before joining Vanderbilt’s football team mere days before she stepped on the field. While Fuller’s new position on Vanderbilt’s team is one for the books, unfortunately many people are looking at is as an elaborate publicity stunt. Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis is one of those people. Travis did a whole segment on his show about why he believes that the decision to bring Sarah Fuller in was a publicity stunt coordinated by the team’s former coach to attempt to save his job. Clay Travis also tweeted multiple times about his thoughts on Fuller’s new position on his Twitter which has 748 thousand followers. Between his radio show and his significant Twitter following, he reaches a wide audience who now, unfortunately, instead of celebrating Fuller’s accomplishment, are questioning the legitimacy behind it.

There will definitely be more newsworthy events coming our way in the weeks to come. It will be very interesting to see how the public relations industry continues to adapt to the new COVID climate through the holiday season. As the public transitions to 2021 however, public relations professionals in D.C. and the political field won’t see much rest as the Presidential transition will be continuing on and the inauguration will be fast approaching. 

My 2020 Summer Internship Experience And What It Taught Me

By: Sammy Chmara

As summer 2020 was quickly approaching, I was hesitant about if I would be able to find an internship or not. Internship searching is hard enough, and the COVID-19 pandemic was posing even more challenges to getting hired. After submitting a ton of applications, I decided to reach out to some local Marketing and Public Relations agencies to see if they were still offering remote internships for the summer. After a few weeks, the president of the Digital Marketing Agency called PurpleGator reached out to me. I was thrilled and relieved that this company got back to me and was really considering hiring me for the summer. After an interview with him and his fellow vice president, they said that they thought a Marketing internship with them would help me learn so much about the industry and be great experience to get my foot in the door. I excitedly accepted the role, even though I was not exactly sure what I would be doing. I knew I would have something to keep me busy for the summer while being able to add relevant experience to my resume.

The first week of my internship was extremely overwhelming, since working for an agency like this was so new to me. Being the only intern at the time, my two supervisors were constantly giving me tasks to do and it was hard to know how much time I would be spending each and every day on them each and every day. Since the whole company was working from home, we used Skype regularly to stay in contact with each other about what needed to be done. We would also have daily team meetings in the morning to go over everyones jobs for the day. Being the newest member of the team who was only an intern, I was definitely nervous about what my team thought about me and if I was living up to the companies standards. I found that my supervisors and other team members were extremely friendly and helpful towards me.I also made sure that I spoke up about any confusion or concerns that I had and made sure that I was extremely receptive to my supervisors and answered them swiftly.

During this internship, I was exposed to so many different elements of the Digital Marketing and Advertising fields. I was able to sit in on team and client meetings to see how these types of meetings operate. I also got to write blog posts on a variety of different topics such as business advice during the pandemic, mobile marketing, and website development. Being able to research and write about these different topics taught me a lot and seeing my pieces actually on the companies website made me really proud of the progress I was making. I also got to help format and insert content for company campaigns as well as research client companies and logos.

The opportunity that I had interning for this company taught me a lot about myself and what am I able to accomplish when I work hard and diligently. One thing that I learned is that if you want to find a job or internship, you really have to put yourself out there. If you look hard enough, you are eventually going to find something. Your first internship does not need to be the most glamorous or the most exciting opportunity, but any experience you can get is definitely worth it. This internship also taught me the importance of asking questions. Internship Supervisors do not expect you to know everything, and it is really important that you speak up when you are confused about tasks. This shows them how committed you are to the company and to learning Lastly, I learned that you are capable of achieving so much more than you think you are able to. I was so nervous about starting this internship because I thought that I did not have enough experience and that I did not know enough about the field. After each day, I realized that I have already been exposed to so much information just through my classes and extracurriculars. It is important to not put so much pressure on yourself and instead just keep an open mind, because you can end up accomplishing so much more than you thought you were able to.

My Role As Diversity Director

By Lia Hyman

When I first interviewed for the position of Diversity Director, all I really knew about it was that I was passionate about it. There was no previous director to reach out to, but based on the description and responsibilities of the role, I knew it was a position that had to be filled with a real sense of commitment. Little did I know that only a month later, the country would erupt in protests nationwide after the death of George Floyd. This only made me more sure that it was more important than ever to have a Diversity Director on our executive board.

Since I accepted the position, I have started reading and watching as many articles, books, and documentaries that I can. Connecting with professionals in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)  field has been a big focus of mine, so I have initiated conversations with executives who can tell me about what they do on a daily basis, giving me inspiration for actions I can take as well. These conversations have helped me brainstorm for the Diversity Panel that PRSSA will be holding in the Spring, an event with a panel of qualified professionals to answer questions about diversity and ethics, followed by a Q&A from the audience. After much contemplation, I concluded that this event would be most beneficial if our panelists answer questions about Ethical Company Procedures vs Individual Expression in the workplace. In the coming months, I hope to solidify our professional lineup and questions for the event.

One of my main goals as Diversity Director is to give members opportunities to hear from a wide range of people that hold different perspectives on issues. In a world that has become so divided, I hope to invite people outside of their comfort zones and listen. This includes promoting events that discuss heritages, religions, disability awareness, and more on our social media accounts. By making members aware of these opportunities for growth, I hope to inspire a more inclusive atmosphere within our own chapter of PRSSA. This leads me to another one of my goals, which is to reach out to other student organizations on campus and collaborate with them so their members can also take advantage of our PRSSA meetings. By making these connections, I hope our chapter can not only grow in size, but grow in diversity.

As a committee member of the PRoud Council, I also have been lucky enough to learn a lot about DE&I from my fellow committee members. The PRoud Council seeks to “actively facilitate diversity and inclusion initiatives on a local and international level on behalf of PRSSA by acting as a resource for Chapters and individual members”. Our committee members come from all different backgrounds and languages, and it has been an honor to engage with such hardworking students, committed to making Public Relations a more inclusive field. Some of my responsibilities for the Council include developing 3 DE&I activities for PRSSA Chapters to engage in, assisting in creating three changes in terms of accessibility, and assisting in implementing a workshop for DE&I leaders and Chapter general body members. 

I look forward to our upcoming viewing of “The Social Dilemma” where we will discuss the ethics of addictive and manipulative social media; controversial topics like these help engage our brain and prepare us for a career in PR! Open discussion around ethical problems in PR is another goal of mine. As Diversity Director, I know it is important to be genuine and well-researched on crucial issues, but the truth is that I will make mistakes! This is why I am very open to feedback and hearing from our members, as well as other UD students, on how I can do better. I am excited to continue my work in making our chapter welcoming to all!