Flash Communications

Tales from a student-PR agency at Kent State University


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Networking minus the nerves

Public Relations major Caitlin Potts

Public Relations major Caitlin Potts shares her tips on professional networking for students.

One question we’re asked time and time again in this industry is why we chose to go into the PR field. Every person’s answer tends to be as unique as the individual. Personally, one of my biggest reasons is the forming of relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just about who you know. PR requires a lot more than that. However, a great deal of this industry involves making professional connections.

A few years ago, the idea of networking terrified me. I’ll admit it can still make me feel nervous or intimidated once in a while. I abide by the two ‘P’s: practice and preparation.

Practice makes perfect. I’ll never forget a few of my beginner networking attempts. Were people nice to me? Yes. Did they hire me? No. Should they have hired me? Oh, definitely not. And that’s okay. I gained experience and tested the PR waters by attending internship fairs and talking to professionals at PRSSA meetings.

Research, Research, Research

If you know you’re meeting with professionals, but don’t know much about them, find out what you can. Check out their LinkedIn pages. Where did they go to school? What former companies did they work for? What are their professional interests? Visit their organization’s website. What clients do they work for? What characteristics set them apart? If you can mention something specific or ask a relevant question about their brand, odds are you’ll impress them. Once you’ve established some knowledge, think about how it might relate to you. This will help when you converse.

It’s all in the handshake

Never underestimate the power of a confident greeting. Look a professional in the eyes with a smile and provide a firm handshake. Flimsy handshakes suggest you’re not ready to meet and greet. Avoid those.

Nail your Elevator Speech

An elevator speech is your go-to when first meeting someone. Hypothetically, imagine yourself walking into an elevator and finding the CEO of your favorite company standing inside.  You want to introduce yourself and refrain from gaping at the person. So what do you say? Try this…

  1. Hi my name is….
  2. I’m a (insert freshman/sophomore/junior/senior) PR major at Kent State
    1. I currently work at… OR
    2. I’m really interested in…

Make small talk relevant

You may only have a minute to catch a professional’s attention. Think with a clear, level-head. Remember you’re allowed to pause for a moment to gather your thoughts before answering questions. Avoid awkward moments. You want to be respectful, but not so professional that you’re boring. Practice comes into play in this part of networking. It may come very easy, or you may need a few trial runs, but you’ll get there.

Old School is timeless

Any PR professional will tell you thank you notes are important. Whether it’s an after an interview, a meeting, or they’ve done a favor for you, show your gratitude. If you can hand-write your appreciation and send it via snail-mail, it generates a good impression. Avoid email in this case, unless it’s your only option.

Networking leads to opportunities. When you connect with others, regardless of the industry, a window of opportunity presents itself. While it can be scary, it gets easier over time. Just remember to practice and prepare.


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4 Tips for PR Students to Get Noticed

Shannen Laur

Shannen Laur provides four valuable tips for PR students to get noticed.

Public relations is a competitive field that requires up-and-coming professionals to make a name for themselves. Majoring in PR requires us to do more than go sit in a lecture hall and memorize information for exams. Rather, the field gets us up and moving in a way that other majors may not. We must have connections with people outside of the university, such as alumni and professionals, as well as building an online presence, networking and gaining experience.

With that being said, here are a few ways I have been working to make sure I am creating a name and gaining valuable experience for my future career:

PRSSA

PRSSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America, is a respected network of public relations students across the country. Many universities that offer public relations sequence have their own chapters of PRSSA, ours being PRSSA Kent. PRSSA is a way to meet professionals in the field, to learn about the PR field and to network with students in the major at your university, as well as across the country.

Network and Attend Events

Networking events are extremely valuable and fun. At Kent, we are given many of opportunities planned by PRSSA, faculty members or individual schools. Networking events allow us to meet professionals in the field in a less stressful environment. I’ve been told time and time again that these professionals you meet at the events will remember you and may even be the person to give you first job, so attend.

Build Relationships with Professors

Most professors have worked in the field, and can offer insight to real-world experiences, meeting professionals and job opportunities. It is in the best interest of the students to get to know their professors and build relationships that will help out in the future. Not only could a professor help you meet someone in your dream job but also, it is simply beneficial with classwork if they actually know who you are.

Online Presence

Since public relations can be heavy on social media, it is important to make sure you have some sort of presence on the web. Talking with professionals in the field, I have learned that it is okay to not be on every single social media platform and site that exists, but having a few can help. If anything, LinkedIn is the number one social media account a PR student should have. LinkedIn allows you to connect with professionals, students and professors. After meeting a professional at a networking event, it is a great idea to go and connect with him or her on the site – just make sure you create a professional, complete profile. This will help them remember you and may also lead them to contact you with job openings. Think of LinkedIn as your professional Facebook, posting information related to the PR industry that shows you are paying attention and have some thoughts about it – as well as your own interests.

I believe that following these tactics can help any up-and-coming PR professional get engaged and ready to work in the field. Public relations is all about staying connected, communicating and gaining valuable experience, so remember to put yourself out there!


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The Importance of Social Media

Nicole Winkleman, Senior Public Relations Major, shares her thoughts on the importance of Social Media for students

Your teachers always tell you to keep your Facebook and Twitter accounts professional. Obviously that’s a good idea, especially when looking for a job or an internship, but it can be invaluable and help you land the interview!

I’m a fashion merchandising, public relations double-major at Kent. Although I work at Flash, I haven’t fulfilled my PR internship yet. The summer of 2011 I completed my fashion internship with the Cleveland Indians.

How Twitter helped me. When I first found out about the opportunity, I immediately started following the Indians on Twitter. The day after my interview I had a request to be followed by @tribeinsider. They were tracking my social media use and wanted to see if it was professional. Because I keep my Twitter professional, it helped me land the job.

How you can find jobs. I also started following @PRSAjobcenter recently on Twitter. Although I am not looking for a job yet (I need an internship first), you can easily find what markets are hiring and what types of jobs are out there for entry-level PR professionals.

Don’t be fake. Just because you’re being professional, doesn’t mean to be fake or overdo it. You don’t need to constantly post links to articles and #hashtag things. Make sure what you say is genuine, but it never hurts to link to a good article when you read one.

LinkedIn. Also, make a LinkedIn page if you haven’t already done so. This will help people find you and it is also a way to network with people that went to the same college as you. Sometimes that’s all you need for a recommendation from a colleague.

Network. Although social media isn’t all about networking – it is! Connect with people you’ve had classes with, people that work at a job you’d like to work, any professional in the field. You never know when someone will stumble on your blog, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and will want to get to know you better. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals, but don’t stalk them. A lot of professionals will think of you as a go-getter, if you reach out to them.

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/n_winkleman 
Read my blog: http://portsandlinesoftheair.wordpress.com/ 
Connect with me on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=151992892&trk=tab_pro
OR email me: nwinklem@kent.edu