Flash Communications

Tales from a student-PR agency at Kent State University


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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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PR Students Head to National Conference to Present

It’s true – Flash Communications students do get out of the office! Last week, Sarah Lack and Heather Thomas traveled to Orlando, Florida, for the 2011 Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference.

As part of PRSSA Kent, Sarah presented with four other officers during the Chapter Development Sessions on Friday. Their presentation was all about how to “Cash in on Communication.” They shared fundraising best practices and tips from professionals about how to execute a successful fundraiser. Check out their best practices slides and the video they produced.

And here’s the video. A lot of this was produced at Flash Communications (special thanks to Nick and Phil who work in University Communications and Marketing for their cameo performances). Oh, and those adorable children in scene one? They’re mine!

In addition to the opportunity to present to other PRSSA chapters from across the country, Heather and Sarah attended breakout sessions with top industry professionals to learn about the ins-and-outs of being a PR professional. From social media to crisis communications and travel and entertainment to healthcare PR, the sessions covered a wide range of topics relating to young professionals in the public relations and strategic communications industries.

Sarah and Heather shared some key takeaways from their favorite sessions.

Crisis Communications: Confronting Reality with Strategy

  • Public expectations have risen since the Tylenol murders of the 1980s. Companies must respond faster than ever and be aware that the story is never-ending, 24/7 coverage. If you wait for traditional media, you’re too late.
  • Crisis is about actions, not solutions. Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Do not fail to recognize the need to change goals during a crisis.
  • In crisis, you need to control your narrative. It’s about hero vs. villain –which are you?
  • Perception trumps reality 100% of the time in crisis. Audiences believe what they hear first.
  • Companies are tying risk terms (ex: “oil spill” for BP) in with SEO and SEM to ensure that when people search these terms, BP’s side of the story comes up first.

Corporate vs. Agency: Finding Your Place

  • Agency PR is about working with like-minded people. As agencies integrate with other disciplines, agency professionals must be up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies.
  • While agency professionals may work on several different clients in different industries, corporate professionals know one industry intimately –competition, trends, and their own company.
  • Corporate PR is usually a set work schedule, while agency professionals tend to be the “workaholic” type. As a result, it’s easier to move up the management ladder in an agency.
  • In both industries, it’s important to practice ethical behaviors and act with transparency.
  • No matter where you choose to go, stay involved in PRSSA/PRSA!

Travel and Tourism Session:

  • Make sure you’re getting your key messages out to overcome any misconceptions about the travel destination or resort.
  • Take advantage of media relations and local media to get the message out about a resort opening or other event. The local media and opinion leaders will spread the word to the broader audience.
  • Be creative with a small budget and other limitations. Limit expensive, over the top demonstrations and gags during a launch, and go for something more creative and intimate.

Entertainment PR session:

  • Celebrity endorsements can significantly help further a brand and the brand message. Having one of the Kardashians endorse a product will have 50% more visibility.
  • Making relationships with the media is crucial for establishing a positive brand identity amongst the public.

PR Kent students not only absorbed valuable information, but also they had a chance to network and bond with their peers. Ah, takes me back to our trip to National Conference in Nashville, Tenn., many, many years ago. We stayed at the Opryland Hotel. What a blast.

Thanks to Sarah Lack and Heather Thomas for contributing to this post.