I heard about your blog from my roommate and have fell in love! You guys speak the truth and there is nothing better than that.
I am a Sophomore in college and have just received two internship opportunities, one at a PR firm in the city and another with College Fashionista. I’m loving both and want to share my experiences with others (such as you two). Over the past year, I have been thinking about starting a blog or even a YouTube page. I am just not sure how to go about it and also fear the I will not have any followers and/or viewers.
Was wondering if you had any advice on how to start a blog, how to get followers and if it is even a good idea.
- A Girl With The Need To Blog
First off, congratulations on your internships! Both sound like great resume builders and being only a Sophomore, you’re on the right track. This blog has become such a source of relief for M and I. We’re both extreme advocates for younger girls like yourself getting into blogging (or vlogging). We originally started this blog over three years ago just to vent and share our everyday experience. In no way did we ever anticipate the following that we currently have. Starting a blog should never be about how many people are reading it, it should be about the articles you share and the connections you might make.
The blogosphere has become extremely crowded and I can understand how it may seem intimidating, but don’t think of it like that. Look at your blog as your own little slice of the internet to use as a creative outlet. If you’ve been thinking about starting one, DO IT. Don’t focus your worries on design and making it look perfect now. Start a blog using a simple template on WordPress and begin writing. Dedicate time to write 3-4 times a week. See how it goes and KEEP IT UP. Share your posts on Twitter and Facebook and don’t get discouraged if you aren’t getting a ton of views. It takes time and you’ll find that blogging is a great way to meet other people who want to be in the position you’re in. Plus it’s another resume builder that shows your dedication to the PR profession.
Sometimes, even when I muster the energy to roll out of my bed (which can be hard to do on cold mornings like we’re having in New York), my mind still isn’t fully awake until many hours later. I will slowly go through my morning routine, make my commute in a zombie-like state, and sit at my desk ready to conk out just as if I never got out of bed.
While you may think you can make it through the day in your half-awake-mentality, I’m here to tell you you’re sadly mistaken. Even if you have an “easy” day, whether it’s studying for a final, a slow day at the internship, or a day when your boss is out of the office, coming in with your eyes part closed only increases your chances of making a foolish mistake, losing your cool, or procrastinating until your easy day becomes a nightmare.
If you need help getting some gusto in the AM, here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years:
Find your sleeping-time sweet spot- I’ve realized that the reason I sleep in some mornings is because my body absolutely NEEDS 8 hours of sleep. If I need less, I can function on 6. For some reason, at 7 hours I’ll feel cranky and any less than 5 I am pretty much dead to the world. Take a couple weeks to figure out what works for you. Can you function on 6.25? Must you have 9? Arrange your sleeping schedule so you’re giving yourself enough time to fall asleep and wake up after your desired amount.
Work out in the morning - In college, I hated working out in the morning. To me, it made no sense. Why would I do something now that I have plenty time for later, and can squeeze in some sleeping-in? Adrianna and I have been encouraging each other to get up each morning and work out, and when I do, boy can you tell the difference. My mind is sharper, I’m happy for the day, and ready to kick-ass. Not to mention, I have more time after work to unwind, make a nice dinner and take time for myself & friends.
Drink some caffeine, but the right kind of caffeine - No brainer, right? Coffee wakes you up. The tricky thing here is, you can easily become dependent on coffee to get you through the day. So rather than waking you up, your coffee is just making you functional. I like to switch up each day. If I need a little extra boost, I have about 6 oz of coffee. Just a tiny amount wakes me up and gets the nerves firing. Almost every other day I have green tea, which has less caffeine but will still slowly wake you up.
Put your brain to work - This changes for me every day. Sometimes, it’s as simple as reading the news on the subway (I love TheSkimm, it loads early on my iPhone each morning so I can read through it on my commute). Other times, I need to do a puzzle on my phone or read a feature article when I sit at my desk. Get your brain awake and thinking as soon as you can. I also like to play music to get groovin’.
Happy Monday! Hope everyone had an amazing Super Bowl. NYC turned into an extended version of the giant tourist attraction it already is, so laying low was our best bet. Here are some of our favorite #PR101 Twitter tips from the month of January. Thanks to all that contributed.
@onlymytweets: Please don’t send me ghost stories. Attribute quotes.
@PawsPR: 9 times out of 10, an email’s subject line determines whether or not it gets opened.
@iamsheabutta: When in doubt, leave them out. Or at least cross-check your lists.
@samanthaperry: Dear PR Company, sending me a newsletter with no unsubscribe link is spam.
@CharissaLauren: PR no no: do not set up automatic Twitter DMs for every new follower.
@VanGirlsPR: Remember, at the end of the day, you are your own brand. It’s okay to sell yourself!
@Sam__Dickson: To reach your audience effectively, you need to understand them. Always listen to their perspective on matters that impact them.
@nycprgirls: HINT: When on an interview, NEVER swear or use foul language.
Meet Allie Duncan, a Chicago PR girl that’s had a dream career thus far – an internship at Vogue, Tory Burch and a current job at a national retailer – to say the least. Allie’s story is both insightful and inspiring. Take notes while reading Allie’s story and reach out to her on both Twitter and Instagram.
How did you get started in public relations?
When applying to college, I focused on schools that were known for their journalism departments. I had chosen the major in high school when, forced to think about my interests, realized how much I loved magazines, fashion, shopping and writing. It sounds like such a trivial way to decide my future now, but I definitely made the right decision for me! I spent my first semester of college at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications but was ultimately unhappy and transferred to the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in the spring of 2010, where I spent the rest of my college career.
I applied for numerous internships during my freshman year and did not receive any offers, so I spent my first summer home from school editing my resume and applying for positions with small, local companies near my school and started as a marketing intern for Word Marketing in the fall. I immediately requested a letter of recommendation from them to add to my ‘portfolio,’ which they were gracious enough to provide, and then perfected a pitch letter about myself that I sent to nearly every contact at most of the major women’s fashion magazines in NYC that I could find. This was in October, and I couldn’t start interning until May/June!
I had a great response, and I think that can be attributed to applying early and to including a letter of recommendation with my resume. I was also fortunate enough to be able to travel to NYC from my hometown of Chicago over winter break to interview in-person, which really does make a difference so if you’re able to , I recommend it!
In February, I accepted an internship in the fashion editorial department at VOGUE Magazine, where I spent the summer trafficking samples, creating lookbooks and mood boards, assisting on photo shoots, working on the CFDA presentations, etc. I spent three days a week at VOGUE and the other two at a small fashion PR firm, Michele Marie PR, which I chose to do so I could further develop my interests in the industry for an internship the next summer. It’s really important to always be thinking about where you want to be and how you’re going to get there, even though it seems far off!
I asked for letters of recommendation from each of my employers – don’t be embarrassed or nervous to do so! – and created an admittedly large PDF file including them and my resume, along with some samples of my work, if applicable. I knew I wanted to spend my last ‘intern summer’ doing in-house PR for a designer since it was the one area of fashion that I was interested in but hadn’t yet worked. I spent the 2012 summer as a public relations intern at Tory Burch and couldn’t have loved it more! I was able to pull looks for editorial, assist on editor press previews, compile press reports and editorial calendars, and more. The internship really solidified that I wanted to work in public relations, rather than on the editorial side of fashion.
I’d always thought I’d end up in NYC but eventually decided I wanted to move back home to Chicago. I was diligent about finding the ‘New York fashion job’ in my city but wasn’t able so I accepted an internship in April to have a back-up plan for post-graduation while I continued to look for full-time opportunities. I had been freelancing for a small public relations agency, YL Communications, when the founder mentioned she was getting ready to hire a full-time account executive. I became her first hire!
I accepted the job with YL Communications, although it was a risk to work in a small start-up environment, because I really wanted to be in a place where I could hit the ground running – working on real projects, contributing to the bottom line, and making professional contacts. We had approximately eight clients in the food, hospitality and beauty industries, and I was involved in most aspects of their public relations initiatives, including media relations, celebrity outreach, event planning and production, etc.
It was a great experience, but I continued to keep my eyes and ears open for ‘fashion jobs.’ I had actually reached out to my current employer (a nationwide retailer) months earlier, at which time they politely informed me that they weren’t hiring but would keep my resume on file. A few weeks after turning down the project manager position, I received an email from my current employer that they’d had a recent opening for an assistant PR manager and after a long application process, I was offered the job – my dream position! Again, waiting for the right fit and not settling made the difference in my current happiness in my career.
What is your average day like?
In every interview I’ve ever read with a public relations professional, he/she says that there is no typical day for them. While that’s somewhat true, there are some things that are generally pretty standard in my days, like reaching out to potential partners for upcoming events, pulling clothing for editorial requests, monitoring media impressions and archiving press, etc.
What’s your favorite part of working in public relations?
What makes public relations so fun and exciting are the days that are different! Whether it’s working on a major event with a local blogger or celebrity or meeting with our extended team to discuss upcoming trends or developing creative campaigns to pitch to the media, it’s hard to be bored and easy to be inspired. That’s especially true when you work with great people and for a fun company like I do!
What’s the best PR advice you ever received?
The best PR advice I’ve ever received relates to the job search, and it’s to always evaluate the company you’re interviewing with as much as they’re evaluating you. There’s nothing more important than finding the right fit, and it’s worth it to wait if you’re not excited about the offers you’re receiving. That’s not to say you shouldn’t work at all – do some freelance work, start a blog, whatever sparks your interest – but think about the things that are important to you in a company. Do you want lots of coworkers so you can meet new people? Do you want a small agency with plenty of creative flexibility, or a large company with more established practices? Is a flexible schedule important to you, or do you care more about your title? Whatever it is, it matters!
Any advice for those looking to get into PR?
While back at school, I was a national contributing writer to Her Campusmagazine and also served as the publicity director for the campus branch, Her Campus Mizzou. I definitely recommend writing as much as possible if you’re looking for a career in public relations. Most employers will ask for writing samples, and I was so relieved to have some on hand from my days writing for Her Campus.
Also, although untraditional, I’ve only written a cover letter once or twice in the hundreds of applications I’ve sent out in my lifetime, and I rarely apply through online forms. Find a contact – it doesn’t matter who. Anyone in the company, if intrigued by your email and resume, can refer you to the right person. Reach out to anyone and everyone, and let the body of your email be your ‘cover letter.’ In PR especially, it’s important to be tenacious and know when no isn’t an acceptable answer. If it’s really important to you, find a way in, whether it’s pushing for a five-minute phone call, asking to take them to coffee, sending ideas you have for a client they have on their roster, etc.