PRSSA-UD’s General Meeting Recap: Crisis Communication

Jumping into the spring semester, PRSSA-UD wasted no time getting down to business at their official second meeting on Monday, March 2.

The meeting began with two speakers talking to the organization about SPPA (School of Public Policy and Administration) and its potential to help members who decide they want to join and apply. From there, a quick re-cap of general information was discussed, such as the benefits of becoming a dues paying member and the organization’s mentor-mentee program, the PRSA Delaware award that members can apply for, and a Hunter PR Fellowship opportunity that is being offered. Also introduced were things to look out for this semester, such as the headshot fundraiser April 15 with discounts for dues paying members and the first PRSSA-UD Skill Slam of the semester, entitled “Break Through the Interview” on March 23.

Once the basics were covered, members had the opportunity to use their own skills and brainstorm. In a PR-strategy workshop, members were asked to handle an example crisis. The workshop included a scenario that actually occurred in real life; when a link between a local E.coli outbreak and Odwealla’s fresh, unpasteurized apple juice was discovered, in which one child died and more than 60 people became sick. This situation prompted more than 20 lawsuits and members were asked to use their PR knowledge and split into groups, visualizing themselves as the head of PR to determine how they would handle the situation, who their audience was, and how they would go about creating awareness whilst changing attitudes and behavior.

Each group came up with their own unique spins on how to handle the crisis, including press conferences where high-ranking company officials would present. Members stated that in the conferences representatives should use total transparency and apologize, make it clear to consumers of the drink that the company valued buyers’ trust, and should additionally state what changes the team would make to their processes in order to keep said trust. Also mentioned was compensation for the one child who passed away and those who became sick because of the apple juice product and to put a FAQ sheet online of commonly asked questions and their answers about the product and the companies’ procedures.

After the exercise members got the chance to read how the company handled the crisis in real-life. Astonishingly enough, it was almost identical to what members came up with… PRSSA-UD really knows how to train students for the future field they are considering. The meeting concluded with a quick hot chocolate social where mentors and their mentees got a chance to connect after the long UD winter break. Although cut short by an incoming class, the atmosphere was relaxed, yet informative, helping all members to feel at ease and prepared for the upcoming semester of events to come.

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By: Brittany O’Connell

Brittany O’Connell is a freshman communications interest that is passionate about art and social media. She is a Social Media Ambassador for UD on her Twitter account @BlueHenBrittany, and hopes to broaden her horizons, step out of her comfort zone and help many throughout her next three years at UD.

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#UDPRIntern: The Five Do’s and Don’ts of Interning for a Small Business

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When did you realize you were meant to work in public relations?

This past winter, I interned for The SuperNutritionist (SN), a nutritionist business based on Long Island. My favorite part of the experience? Getting a rush knowing I was helping a small business owner thrive in today’s economy through my social media strategies. That rush was my light-bulb moment; I knew from then on I was meant to pursue a career in public relations.

I happen to love developing social media campaigns for small businesses. Unlike working at an agency, at a small business you have only one client and only one brand to define, making it easier to invest all of your energy into achieving the owner’s goals.

Interning at a small business also provides a chance to test out all facets of a public relations career. I know my internship with the SN prepared me to handle everything from data analytics, to scheduling tactics in a content calendar, to even getting behind the camera and shooting videos!

Interested in looking into the small business internship market? Here are my top 5 tips for being the best public relations intern a business owner can have:

1. Do Develop a Social Media Plan and Content Calendar. Think of writing the plan and the calendar as creating the instructions for a new board game; they must be so foolproof and detailed that anyone can follow them without your help. These tools ensure that even when your internship is over, the business will have a consistent stream of fresh and varied content.

2. Don’t Ignore to What the Owner Is Looking For. Listen to what the business owner sees as their branding strategy or their selling point. Although you are in charge of developing the social media strategy, you need to make sure your boss’ vision is expressed. Once the plan and calendar are compiled, explain how every tactic contributes to overall awareness of their company and their brand.

3. Do Discuss ROI with the Owner. Business owners often crave immediate results from social media- more likes, more followers, more money, etc. It is critical you explain that social media is not a short-term process, it’s a long-term commitment. Let them know ROI is also measured via impact, influence, and most importantly, engagement. While you should still evaluate metrics the owner cares about, also make sure to evaluate the ones you believe will create the most results in order to prove what works and what doesn’t.

4. Don’t Execute Something That’s Busy Work. Small business owners don’t have large budgets or amounts of time to dedicate towards managing a campaign that doesn’t generate results. Do your research before you implement a campaign or suggest new types of content to curate. You can never guarantee results, but backing up your ideas with research gives them a better chance of actually creating meaningful impact.

5. Do Introduce New Platforms to Optimize Reach. I introduced the SN to Instagram and Pinterest, providing her brand with desirable multimedia content. More platforms also equal more target audiences for the business to reach (for example, the SN can now target older women on Pinterest versus the young adults on Instagram).

It may not be a glamorous agency experience, but working for a small business teaches you a lot about meeting a client’s social needs. As an intern, you will not only learn, but you will also leave a small business better equipped to tackle the ever-changing worlds of social media marketing and public relations.

And if you weren’t already convinced that PR is the career for you, executing all of these tasks for a small business will definitely help you figure out what you want. Go ahead, have your light-bulb moment.

By: Paxton Mittleman

Paxton Mittleman is a sophomore Communications and English double major with an Advertising minor. When Paxton isn’t attending PRSSA-UD meetings or writing for the blog, she is volunteering with the sisters of Gamma Sigma Sigma, planning events with the UD Honors Program Senior Fellows, or tweeting up a storm on her Social Media Ambassador Twitter account. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn!

#UDPRIntern: Double Duty: How to Work Two Internships

Tabs, to-do lists, and timesheets—oh my! This winter, I took on two internships—one at The Journey church and one at UpTrend Creative & Consulting. Fun? Absolutely. Crazy? For sure.

As per usual, I accepted a hefty workload without realizing its weight. However, the lessons learned and the skills acquired are far worth the frantic and frazzled hours I spent flipping between multiple assignments. As Olivia Pope would say, I have it #handled. Kind of.

If you choose to wear multiple intern hats, here are a few of my tips:

  1. Set boundaries

When you accept one job, you need to set boundaries. When you accept two, you seriously need to set boundaries. How many hours can you work? What deadlines are realistic for you? When can you come into the office? If need be, will you drive in the snow or bad weather? What hours will you be online? How much is too much? You need to think through all of these questions and communicate your limits before you even begin. Remember—you are a human, not a robot. Your boss will understand.

  1. Stick to those boundaries

Remember those boundaries you set before you laura1entered the office? Did you make exceptions to your nonnegotiable rules? I often catch myself caving into requests that are not realistic for me. I will set a deadline that is not comfortably feasible. I will take on more work than I can manage within a certain time frame. I make mistakes and start blurring my boundaries—it happens. Sometimes, we have to make exceptions to get a time-sensitive task completed…but this should not be happening on a daily basis. Be realistic, and respect yourself and your time.

  1. Unwind

Whatever you do, do not forget about this step. You have to rest. You have to breathe. You have to have fun. When I am home, I split my time between catching up with friends and family, binge-watching Netflix and reading some inspirational books. Everyone needs to recharge his or her battery. You and I are no exception. Settle down, get plenty of sleep, and maximize your down time. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you.

Working double duty can double the fun and double the development—just make sure you double your balancing efforts. Happy interning!

By: Laura Hepp

journey2Laura Hepp is a junior mass communication major with minors in advertising and theatre performance studies. Aside from interning at The Journey and performing in various musical theatre productions, Laura loves running, laughing, and eating far too many vegetables. She serves as Vice President of Professional Development for PRSSA-UD.

#UDPRIntern: …But Can You Talk the Talk?

As a college student, the term “networking” is far from a foreign concept. Students are regularly told how networking can positively impact their future. However, for many people, networking can seem like a confusing or even frightening task. This is where “casual networking” comes in handy.

Casual networking is no more than maximizing conversations with everyone you communicate with. Once a conversation gets into full swing, it is easy to learn a lot about the person you are talking to, and vise versa. Here are a few easy tips to casual networking.

1. Be Yourself- The goal of casual networking is to develop contacts and connections to further one’s life, and career. Spreading fallacies about one’s accomplishments will only be detrimental in the long run.

2. Never make assumptions- Always be open minded about talking to someone because you never know how a person can change your life!

3. Keep it light- Due to the fact that casual networking can happen in any situation, it is important to speak lightly and conversationally. In doing this, one can further exhibit his/her own charisma while still offering up information about work experience and interests.

4. Ask questions- Asking questions can further develop a conversation, while still keeping it on a personal level. Questions also show the other person that you are interested in talking to them.

5. Follow up- Do not be afraid to follow up on any offer or information you are given. It never hurts to try.

A likeable personality can be just as powerful as a high GPA, if used correctly.

Resource: http://www.advancedresources.com/blog/unusual-places-network-tips-casual-networking

By: Morgan Pudimott

Morgan Pudimott is a freshman Communication Interest with a minor in advertising. She is passionate about the field of Public Relations. Morgan plans to continue to become more involved in the blog, and PRSSA itself.

#UDPRIntern: Learning over the long-haul: How to grasp new opportunities at a long-term internship

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Let’s face it—as ambitious communication students, we plow through internships with a “what’s next” mentality. We want something bigger, better and more boast worthy to add to our resumes once we conclude our current internship. I get it. But what if we decide to stay right where we are? Does this derail our practically perfect resume?

I have spent the last year working as the Communication & Development Intern at The Journey, a rapidly growing nondenominational church in Newark, Del. I originally signed on for a five-week winter internship…but life had something else in store for me. I ended up staying, all because I loved what I was doing and who I was doing it with.

Over the past year, I found that professional development only flourishes when you plant roots in some great soil. Here’s how you can stay fresh and fruitful at a long-term internship:

1. Overachieve on and off the job

Go above and beyond to learn about your industry. Listen to pod-casts on your way to work, follow key influencers on social media, skim through articles and blog posts from industry innovators and read books about leadership. Uncover potential opportunities, and then go after them!

2. Connect with your coworkers

Stop hiding in your cubicle. Seriously. Do not allow those three walls to imprison you and your success. Start talking to others in the office and ask them about how their days are going. Ask them about their jobs. Ask them how you can help. Just start asking—new and exciting projects (and connections) could start coming your way. Hello, networking.

3. Ask for feedback

Build a relationship with your manager and start regularly asking for honest feedback. It might not feel great or it might even sting at times, but this is essential to sharpening your skills and growing as a person and professional. You can’t improve if you don’t know where to start.

Best of luck with your internship endeavors, and remember: it’s not about checking a box; it’s about soaking in the experience.

By: Laura Hepp

journey2Laura Hepp is a junior mass communication major with minors in advertising and theatre performance studies. Aside from interning at The Journey and performing in various musical theatre productions, Laura loves running, laughing, and eating far too many vegetables. She serves as Vice President of Professional Development for PRSSA-UD.

#UDPRIntern: 5 Tips for Future Event Planners

Planning and setting up for events is definitely not as easy as it may seem. When that day rolls around, after months of planning, you need to make sure everything is exactly how the client wants it. Whether it is a Bar Mitzvah, a Sweet 16 or a Corporate Company Holiday Party, there is always so much to do when the day of the event arrives. Stefanie Bartell-Zednick, who also happens to be my aunt, is the owner of SBZ Events, a full-service event planning and production company. I have had the opportunity to work some of these events with her and have learned so much about event planning and how to make sure everything runs smoothly.

  1. Arrive VERY Early. Stefanie does a lot of the preparing before the day of the event. Any décor she can arrange before she does. She has a complete layout of what everything is going to look like before she gets there and she also makes sure that everyone involved in the event is on the same page. However, there is always something that doesn’t go as planned, or some problem that comes up that has to be taken care of. When planning an event, youevent planning have to make sure you leave yourself a lot of time for any unexpected issues that may arise. For example, if an event starts between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m., I am usually there between noon and 12:30 p.m.
  2. Have a Timeline. Although things will come up; you want to have a rough timeline for how much time you want spent on each project. If you don’t watch the time, you might get caught up in it all and run out of time.
  3. Don’t Ask Unnecessary Questions. In the beginning, I would go up to Stefanie for every little problem I had. When setting up for the event, the person who is running it all is going to have a lot of things going on. You can’t be going to them with every little problem you have. Either ask someone else or figure it out yourself. If it’s a stylistic question definitely ask, but don’t ask where the tape is. Learn to be a problem solver and work through it.
  4. Relax, Breathe, Don’t Stress. Depending on the size of the event, the hours leading up to the event can be very stressful. With so much going on, you can get very overwhelmed. The hour before the event starts is always the craziest. All of the final details have to come together and everything is being checked to make sure it’s up to standards. I once did a corporate event in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We were holding the party in one room that didn’t was open to the public until 6:30 and our event started at 8. We only had an hour and a half to pull it all together and it was the most stressful hour and a half of my life. People will yell at you, and you will be all over the place, but do your best to relax and breathe because it will all turn out great.
  5. Bring two pairs of shoes. I learned the hard way that working in the same pair for shoes for 12 hours is a terrible decision. Always wear sneakers to work and then different shoes for when the event starts. Otherwise your feet will be numb by the end of the night!

Working for Stefanie has taught me so much about event planning. It is definitely a stressful job but when you see the finished project it is definitely worth it.

To view pictures of events or to learn more about SBZ events, visit http://www.sbzevents.com.

By: Katherine Bartell

Katherine Bartell is a sophomore with a Communication Interest major with a Spanish minor. She is the Finance and Fundraising Director for PRSSA-UD, and a member for the Harrington Theatre Arts Company. She is a PR enthusiast and can’t go a day without a cup of coffee!

Photo source: https://samaneapr.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/like-most-about-event-planning-s.jpg

#UDPRIntern: #UDWinter At Home– Not Boring When You’re Exploring

Recently, my social media feeds have been chock-full of study abroad pictures, tweets about UD’s first snowfall of 2015 and the top ten reasons to spend winter session at Delaware. But what about all of those students reading social updates from their living rooms? What about everyone that opted not to pack up their bags, go abroad, or just go back to the land of the Fightin’ Blue Hens?

I never thought I would be one of those people that chose to come home and stay home from mid-December to mid-February. Until I was.

When I made my decision to stay put for the entirety of winter session, I received mixed feedback from my family and friends. Because UD’s break is pretty unique, people who have never heard of winter session can’t understand why it even exists. They don’t see the point of giving college students extra time off when almost every other university is back in session while we still have five weeks to go. Some people assumed that, like most college students with typical-length breaks, I would sit at home and take time to relax…except for two months rather than one.

Little do these people know that winter session is far from a time to gloat about how you are spending two months on the couch instead of in the classroom. Winter session allows people to explore a new country while knocking out some breadth requirements along the way. Winter session enables people get a broader education by offering classes students wouldn’t normally take. To put it simply, the goal of winter session is to allow the UD community to explore what other opportunities are out there.

paxton1This winter, I chose to explore professional development from the comfort of my own home. I have two internships, both within public relations and social media marketing-related fields, to obtain experience doing the work I love. I am compiling a list of PR firms that have internship programs matching my interests, and I have a list of Delaware alumni I want to reach out to before February. In my free time, I have a reading list of books I’m making my way through on effective engagement and professionalism. I even finally launched my own blog!

 

I barely have any time to sit on the couch and binge-watch Friends, and I am totally okay with that.

Like myself, PRSSA members choosing to stay home this winter have the chance to explore and apply themselves towards achieving their post-graduation dreams. From home, PR students can gain valuable experience in the industry through a winter internship. There is also no better time to get ahead on networking and developing a personal branding strategy; both become much harder to make a priority once classes begin. And with a clear personal voice in mind, students can get ahead on summer internship applications, knowing their unique voice sets them apart from other candidates. paxton2

I don’t regret that I’m not posting pictures of me jumping off a cliff in Hawaii, or that I’m typing this up on my desk instead of in the Trabant Lounge. I, along with my fellow aspiring public relations professionals, choose to have clear-cut goals and tactics I can take on at home. I am broadening my horizons, sharpening my skillset, and preparing to tackle whatever opportunities come my way this winter session and beyond.

Now excuse me as I take a selfie of myself writing this and post it using #UDWinter. My social media audience needs to know that I’m at home this winter, and I’m going exploring.

By: Paxton Mittleman

Paxton Mittleman is a sophomore communication interest and English double major who is passionate about public relations and social media marketing.  When she’s not attending PRSSA meetings, Paxton is tweeting from her @BlueHenPaxton Social Media Ambassador account, volunteering with the sisters of Gamma Sigma Sigma, or planning events as a Senior Fellow for the UD Honors Program.