Open Letter to a PR Undergrad

Summer is coming to an end and for many of you that means heading back to school (if you haven’t already). Entering the workforce was an adjustment to say the least.  The time after graduating college goes by faster than you could ever realize when you aren’t marking years by semesters. We know you ambitious PR girls-to-be are focused on your future, here a few tips we  benefited from as undergraduates.

Join a campus organization  – Don’t always keep your head in the books.  Sure, you should study. Attend classes regularly, be studious and participate in class discussions. However, there is a reason public relations is in the communication department.   The field is interactive and your professional success depends highly on your relationships. Your social interactions should be considered  a priority, along with your grades.   I’m not suggesting you skip a night of studying to attend a toga party. That is not the kind of fraternization I had in mind.  Network with your peers in a positive environment. A great way to do this is by joining a club, participating in student government or joining a sorority. I encourage you to not only be an active member of these organizations, but to hold an office. These skills will help develop your PR know how in more ways than you realize.

Build a relationship with your Professors – In college, your professor is much different from your grade school teacher,  who you had to obtain a hall pass from just to use the restroom. You can even be in a class that is instructed by a teacher’s assistant who is not too much older than yourself. But these T.A’s and professors want you to succeed. They will challenge you more than any other educational instructor has ever attempted.   Sit in the front of the classroom and visit office hours. Develop  a respectful relationship with your professors and you can call on them in the future for a recommendation. My favorite professor in college and I are still in touch, and I am a better person and professional for it.

Elect to have some fun – There are so many diverse skill sets that come in handy in the public relations field. Many of which (I hate to say it) you will not learn in your PR classes. The best way to develop these skills is to take up those talents that interest you personally.  This is why I’d suggest taking a course outside of your public relations curriculum. You will need electives anyway to graduate, so have some fun. Always interested in photography? Take Introduction to Photography and learn how to take photos like a professional. You never know when the candid shots you take during a segment or event could end up running in print (true story).

Boys will be Boys–  On a more personal note, boys can wait. I know, at this time you are eager to start your life. Maybe you are in a serious relationship with your college beau or still pining after the captain of the basketball team (not that I’m talking from personal experience or anything).  Regardless, this is a time when you should be putting yourself and your future first. Still, have fun! Take a chance and agree to a date from the quite guy in your Statistics class, but don’t be too boy-crazed. Trust me, when you are a posh, confident PR girl the boys will be chasing after you, and that basketball player will be living in sticks with two kids and a beer gut.

 

What are some things you wish you knew as an undergraduate?

image via Her Campusl

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How a PR Girl Handles a Sh*tty Day

We have hopefully armed you with advice and fun tips on making the transition from college life to career life or from entry level to senior level seem a little bit easier.  Even if it’s only because you have three girls here who have gone through the same thing.

But even we must admit, sometimes shit happens.

And in the field of PR, when shit hits the fan, it hits it hard.  The world feels like it’s crashing down and your chest seizes up.  No one is curing cancer here, and we’re certainly not splitting atoms, but for some reason when we disappoint our clients or our supervisors it feels like our careers are doomed.  We want to cry, but we know by now that will solve nothing.  We want to curl up in a ball, but that is deemed inappropriate quickly.  Part of us wants to scream and toss our chai latte across the room and screw it all anyway – you didn’t go to college to do this.

But these times of insecurity and failure are what make strong PR professionals.  As quickly as the sky starts to fall, that’s exactly how fast you’ll mature in the eyes of your peers and clients if you slow down, and use the experience to the best possible advantage.

Take A Deep Breath – This is where your weekly yoga/cardio/meditation comes in handy.  Resist the urge to fix as soon as humanly possible and make the mess messier with silly mistakes.  Say you just sent a highly confidential press release to the wrong editor. Instead of quickly emailing the contact with an “OOPS I’M SO SORRY NOT FOR YOU,” take a breath and think of what you want to say and how you can use this mistake to further your relationship with the editor.  Call the contact, and explain that this news is sensitive to your client and you are actually unable to release the information until a later date.  At that time, he/she will be the first to know.  Most (sensible) media contacts understand, and they’ll appreciate the calm response.

Ask A Confidante for Advice – We encourage making a couple dependable friends at work, especially developing a “mentor” relationship with someone in the office (preferably slightly senior and not on your account teams if possible).  Most likely they have gone through a similar crisis in their careers, and have grown from it.  If they’re not close to the project, they can take an objective look at the situation and steer you in the right direction.

Do Not, We Repeat, DO NOT Beat Yourself Up – This is the best piece of advice and the one I am WORST at taking.  Do not assume your supervisors are talking about your mistakes.  Do not assume your will get yelled at or punished.  Do not assume you are horrible at your job and will be canned with no warning the next day.  This will only lead to more mistakes and tripping over yourself.  Again, take this as a learning.  Own up to your mistake, and ask your supervisor if he/she can take time to talk it through with you.  What could you have done differently?  What part of the direction did you miss?  How can you avoid this mistake in the future?  Be proactive, and your supervisor will end the day a little miffed, but happy at how you controlled your situation.

At the end of the day, go out and do whatever rejuvenates you – a run, kickboxing class, a glass of wine, a chick-flick marathon, or a shot of tequila and shameless flirting.  Just arrive to work the next day fresh and with a new perspective.  Crisis averted.

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Hurricane Irene Hits New York City

New Yorkers were stuck inside their apartments this weekend with the arrival of Hurricane Irene. Downtown was evacuated, public transportation was suspended, Broadway shows shut down, stores were closed and the city pretty much fell asleep for the first time ever. Luckily the damage in the city was minimal and with that came images both disturbing and beautiful.

Were you affected by the hurricane? Wishing the best to all of those who were.

images via  nationalpost.com &  newyorker.com
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Does This Look Okay?

I hear this questions often in my office, either coming from a  co-worker who ran  out the door in a rush or from my own lips when I’m having a similar morning. Occasionally, it is even something I will ask a girlfriend when I meet her for brunch, or via the text image I just sent to my best friend in Atlanta while I’m shopping (she often does the same).

I bet even KK often needs some reassurance on her style choices, right?

Moving to the city, I lived alone for one of the first times in my life. Though I loved the solidarity, at times, I missed having easy access to my best friends/roommates.  I missed our impromptu movie nights and dance parties and having someone you could rely on when you locked yourself out of the apartment. Most of all, I missed another set of eyes. I love to mix it up with my closet staples and new trends, but sometimes you just need a reassuring comment from a friend. Someone to assure you that your overplay of stripes makes you look polished, instead of a twisted version of a nautical zebra. Though there are just some trends you can’t pull off and should leave to the professionals. That assessment is often a hard one to make on your own and of yourself.

I thought I had discovered the solve for one of my biggest complaints of living alone. I could start a website and post my questionable style choices online for a fashion forward public to judge (Think Hot or Not, but for outfits instead of physical traits). Meg can attest to this “brilliant” idea that came about during a wildly off beat G chat discussion, in which she made me realize one of the commandments of fashion. Thou shall not wear something you don’t feel 100% confident and yourself in! If you are not feeling confident in your look, you are not going to look confident. Confidence is key to many things, fashion and PR included. Though I am a firm believer in dressing on the edge at times, leave those “questionable” ensembles for a day (or night) out with the girls to test the waters instead of debuting on a first date or day at the office.

However, if you’re like me and still need a little reassurance every now and then, you can check out the below websites that offer such fashion advice. Turns out my “brilliant” idea already exists via these sites:

Polyvore.com: Here you can post images of a single item, or an entire outfit, then get a thumbs up or down on whether it’s fashionable.

–  Chictini.com: On this website users can vote on whether your outfit is ‘œchic’ or ‘œweak.’

StyleFeeder.com: This website  is a browser add-on that lets you shop online with friends and get feedback on what they think before you purchase anything.

 

And remember you are one confident and in control PR girl, lets shoot for more than just “okay”. We are going for fabulous, you don’t deserve anything less. Don’t forget it!

image via Daily Mail

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