Category: Event Planning

An Unflinching Look at the Average Day of a College Student and PR Pro

By Jasmine Scott

Clipart picture of an exhausted and stressed businessman cartoon character

Image credit: iStock

Here’s a painfully honest peek into the life of a full-time college student, who also works remotely as a part time PR Professional for a non-profit organization.

 

7:15 a.m.: My alarm clock goes off.

I’d love to tell you that I hop out of bed with an abundance of energy and joy, but I said this would be honest. So, I hit snooze on my alarm clock…two more times.

7:30 a.m.: I roll out of bed and check my email.

I am subscribed to several news reporters, so this is my version of reading the newspaper. It’s very important to keep up with news in the PR world. PR is a quick moving industry and it’s important to keep up with what’s going on in your community as well as the world.

After I’m up to date, I brush my teeth and throw on a coat (it’s winter now). I make sure everything is in my backpack, grab a bottle of water out of my fridge, and make my way to my 8 am class.

7:55 a.m.: I sit down and pull out my notebook. I check my email until the professor starts his lecture and make a mental note of what I have to do this day. Spoiler alert: I have a lot to do.

8:50 a.m.: My only class of the day ends, and I make my way back to my apartment to get the second part of my day started: work.

9:00 a.m.:  I clock in and check my email. I usually only have about 10 unread emails in my inbox, some of which are just funny memes to put everyone in a good mood. I read through everything and update myself on any information I miss working remotely. I respond to the funniest memes first. After that, I email my boss and update him on my projects.

10 a.m.: I make a to-do list of everything I need to accomplish before I clock out. The list usually goes something like this:

  • Review recent Facebook posts
  • Schedule Facebook posts
  • Check email again
  • Scour through thousands of photos and stories sent to the company I work for
  • Check email again
  • Start blog draft
  • Plan out LinkedIn posts for the week
  • Check email again
  • Eat lunch at some point?

10:30 a.m.: It’s prime content creation time. I work for a non-profit company, so our posts are created to be ‘donor-centered’, which means that donors and investors are our target market.

I start creating new content by reviewing our Facebook posts. I see what posts our donors are interacting with and what posts are doing well or poor. Next, I look through our photobank for and start planning out posts in my head. After some creative thinking, I start creating posts. Finally, I schedule it and repeat the process.

1 p.m.: Did you hear that noise? Yeah, it was my stomach growling.

It’s time for lunch. So, I quickly make a sandwich (turkey and cheese with mustard, obviously) and continue working.

1:05 p.m.: I notice I have 4 unread emails since I last checked my inbox. I read through those and continue on with my day.

1:30 p.m.: Coffee.

After I eat my lunch, I tend to lose my focus. This is when I hit my mid-day slump and need to change my focus. I make a cup of coffee and switch my focus to the blog.

The first step of writing a good blog post is having a strong and compelling story to tell. Luckily, we keep track of the stories sent to us by our donors and partners. I read through the stories, sip my coffee, read through a couple more stories, and sip my coffee. I repeat this until one story particularly catches my eye. After picking a story, I start the first paragraph of the blog. I write it, pause, read it, erase the whole paragraph, and start again. Yes, this exactly how it goes almost every time. But I preserve and finish my draft. I email it to the writer I work with and wait for her edits.

4:30 p.m.: My boss randomly Facetimes me.

5:00 p.m.: I should clock-out, but I can’t. My to-do list isn’t complete.

The last thing I need to do for the day is plan out my LinkedIn posts for the week. This really depends on what’s going on for the week. Some weeks there is a huge event coming up, so I center my posts around that. Other weeks, I make posts based off what else is going on or even any amazing stories we have. I write down the posts I want to make this week and plan them out.

5:30 p.m.: After checking my email one last time, I clock out for the day.

5:31 p.m.: I open my fridge and make a snack. Probably a Hot-pocket.

6:15 – 8:30 p.m.: This is usually when I have meetings for different organizations.

9:00 p.m.: I’m tired, but my day isn’t over yet. In fact, it’s just beginning.

I open my agenda book and go over my schedule. I open my school email and see if my teachers have emailed me (they have). I respond. I open Blackboard to see if my teacher’s have put any grades in. I begin my homework.

I love being a PR major because my homework mostly consists of writing, creating content for mock clients, and preparing presentations. A PR Pro must be deadline driven, even in college. I don’t miss a deadline.

10:30 p.m.: Have I eaten today?

Yeah, I have. But I’m hungry again. I know you aren’t supposed to eat big meals before you go to bed but…it’s only 10:30 and I’m still doing homework. So, I usually eat. Most of the time it’s super healthy and definitely not a bag of chips.

10:31 p.m.: I open a bag of chips. Hey, I’m just doing what I can to make it to graduation.

11:30 p.m.: If at all possible, I try to give myself at least 30 minutes of relaxation before I go to bed. Sometimes I’m being productive until 2 am, but I try not to be.

I love working remotely because it’s helping me get one step closer to my goal of being a PR professional after I graduate, but it definitely takes focus and balance to get everything done. Every day is different. But it’s worth it.

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How to Land Your First Job Before Graduation

By Emily Jarboe

Graduating college and venturing out into adulthood can be a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s terrifying, intimidating and exciting all at the same time. As if leaving college wasn’t scary enough, then there’s the pressure to secure that first job after graduation. Say goodbye to student discounts and hello to a 401K.

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Image credit: iStock

Most people plan to apply for jobs once they get out of school, but I made it a personal goal to land a full-time job before graduation. From teachers and career centers to job fairs and internships, there are so many resources to take advantage of that will no longer be available once I leave. Since I was so proactive in the job search process, I was able to land a job before graduation. Here’s how you can too:

 

Perfect Your Resume

Your resume is your big chance to catch a potential employer’s attention. This is where you can brag about your incredible work experience or highlight your summer internship. It’s a place to showcase your skills and all the hard work you put in during your time in college. I would recommend a clean, easy-to-read design that is tailored to fit your major. Be consistent with the spacing and choose an appropriate font. It’s also important to have several different people look at your resume to get a variety of feedback. Visit your college or university’s  Career Services Center where they can assist you in creating a resume that stands out from the crowd. Most importantly, keep updating your resume and continue to tailor it to every application.

Internships Are Key

An internship, whether during college or after, is a great way to gain real-world experience in your career field. It also can help you establish important relationships and connections with company professionals that can be very beneficial for your future career. The right internship can lead you to a full-time position, so choose wisely when searching for one. Personally, I believe that my internship gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself and pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. Plus, employers are much more likely to hire someone who has completed an internship rather than someone lacking real-work experience.

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Image credit: Snagajob.com

 

The Value in a Career Fair

There are so many benefits to taking the time to attend a career fair. One of the biggest benefits is the opportunity to network with potential employers. Many students believe it’s easier to find jobs online. While that might be true for some, I believe you have a better chance of landing the first interview when there is an opportunity to speak one-on-one with a company representative. I attended three different career fairs during my time in school, and each time provided me with the chance to practice interviewing. Approaching a potential employer can be intimidating, but by the third or fourth time I became comfortable and was able to make some valuable connections. Dress in professional attire, bring 20 copies of your resume, and take advantage of this free networking opportunity.

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Image credit: theblacksheeponline.com

 

Cultivate Relationships with Your Professors

I’ve always tried to keep good relationships with all of my teachers because you never know what kind of doors they can open for you. One of my professors helped me land a job interview that otherwise would not have been possible without her assistance. She recommended me for this position, which gave me a significant advantage over my competitors. I ended up receiving a job offer, and I wouldn’t be where I am in this process without the help of my teacher.

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Image credit: bestvalueschools.com

The most important takeaway from this post is to remember to trust the process and don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive a response right away. Good things take time and it’s important to be patient during the job hunt. I applied for several positions in the beginning and didn’t hear back from anyone until a week later. Take your time and enjoy the process. Don’t be tempted to take the first job offer you receive. It’s okay to be picky and wait for the position that is the right fit for you. Lastly, don’t neglect your LinkedIn account. Keeping up with LinkedIn can help you get noticed by future employers and recruiters.

Endless opportunities are waiting for you, so go out there and get them. Good luck and happy job hunting!

Four Creation Tips For Your Online Portfolio

By Nickey Buzek

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“Can I see some of your work?” You may have a wealth of experience and the skills to back it up, but if your abilities aren’t coming across in an easy-to-access fashion, you may be missing professional opportunities. Here are four tips that will make your online portfolio showcase your skills:

  1. Choose the right platform – There are a multitude of providers dedicated to helping you build a website. Some of them include Wix, Squarespace, and web.com. You’ll want to do your research and make sure their platform aligns with your portfolio goals. If your public relations skills are focused on design, for example, you’ll want to choose a platform that lets you be more creative with visuals. If your skills lean more toward the written aspect of PR, you’ll want a platform that showcases verbiage.
  2. Choose a design – While each of the providers mentioned above will give you suggestions on funky templates, there are two basic designs that are proven to enhance user experience (UX). The F pattern is used for websites with large amounts of content. Wikipedia is an excellent example. Notice that important headers are on the left and description information flows to the right.
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    Image credit: wikipedia.org

    This makes it easier for the user to locate information and understand the organization of the page. The Z pattern, however, is the pattern you’ve probably seen most often. It uses four main spaces for important information: the top left, top right, middle, bottom left and bottom right. This pattern is used so often that internet surfers are quickly frustrated when they can’t find important information in its “natural spot.” Using the Z pattern will cater to user’s natural search.

  3. Showcase your skills – While your portfolio is a reflection of you as a person, the purpose of the website is to showcase your skills. Refrain from making your homepage a giant picture of your face with a bio attached. Chances are, if someone’s already on your portfolio website, they’ve already met you. Have your homepage showcase the different areas your skills cover. Include clickable images or links that take them to more in-depth examples and explanations.
  4. Create a visual guide – The aesthetics of your website act as the user’s road map. Manipulating content size, color, groupings, and contrast will help the user understand what content you want them to look at first. 123222221223223Large items and bright colors will be seen first, and items grouped together help the user see what items go with one another. When creating your visual guide, it’s helpful to have someone look at it who has a third-party view. How they navigate your website will more than likely be how others navigate your website.

 

Designing a portfolio that’s easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to navigate is a daunting task when you’re just trying to meet the needs of people asking to look at your work. Just remember, your portfolio is meant to showcase your skills in an easy-to-navigate fashion. These four tips can start you on the path to success, but don’t hesitate to take a deeper dive into the world of website design!

Crockpot Controversy Crisis

By Emily Thole

*Warning. This post may contain spoilers about the hit TV show, “This is Us.” Proceed with caution.*

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Image credit: NBC.com

 

“This is Us” is the television show everyone is telling you to watch. It is full of happiness, anger, sadness, joy and every emotion in between, however, there is one monumental episode that you can’t forget. If you’re anything like me, this blog post will bring up a flood of emotions, so get your tissues ready.

As avid viewers of the show, we all know where we were when Jack died. Yes, I’m bringing up that heartbreaking moment. I was sitting with my roommates on our red leather couch in the living room, staring at the small screen with tears rolling down our faces, full of disbelief. This man fearlessly saved his entire family from a house fire, and then went back into the blazing building to rescue his daughter’s dog and a few personal items, only to wind up valiantly perishing. He was a hero, and then he was gone. Not because of burns, or an injury that was visible, but for having too much smoke in his lungs. This is the drama that keeps viewers coming back.

What does this tragic scene have to do with public relations? Well, after the episode, fans were boycotting one particular brand, and because of that, they had a crisis on their hands.

One thing I didn’t mention was how the fire started in the Pearson household. It was a Crock-Pot. The faulty slow cooker is accidentally left on and it starts a fire in the family’s kitchen, which leads to the entire house burning down, and later, Jack’s demise. Fans of the show immediately took to the Internet to share their heartbreak and frustration over the episode and the Crock-Pot brand. Their name was disgraced, and their stock plummeted, but Crock-Pot’s response to the crisis is one PR professionals can learn from.

 

Quick Response

First, Crock-Pot responded quickly. They released a statement less than 24-hours after the show aired. And shortly after they sent out a news release stating facts about their products to ease consumers’ minds that can be read fully here. Not only that, but they created a Twitter page called “CrockPotCares” to respond to viewers who were concerned about product safety, and throwing away their Crock-Pots.

 

Empathy

Crock-Pot did a great job of listening to consumers’ complaints. They understood that people were upset, and they did their best to respond with understanding to build back their image. They even created the hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent to use in their responses to defend their brand.

Good tweet to consumer https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956258200239706114

Free crockpot https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956278840103448577

 

Help from Star Power

Although this was a crisis they didn’t see coming, Crock-Pot wasn’t afraid to ask for help when getting their image back. They used the actor who portrays Jack, Milo Ventimiglia, in a commercial promoting the Super Bowl, joking about the Crock-Pot controversy. “The Late Show” host, Stephen Colbert, mentioned the issue on his show, stirring up conversation. Ellen DeGeneres even partnered with the company to hand out Crock-Pots as one of the giveaways on her show. Each of these people helped Crock-Pot restore their image.

A crisis can pop up at any time. Companies must be prepared in case a television show uses your product to kill off a beloved character. In a time of crisis, PR professionals can use Crock-Pot as an example. Although the situation presented on screen was fictional, Crock-Pot responded successfully and recovered quickly because of the crisis plan they had in place.

 

Crockpot even got Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) to make a video joking about the crisis as a whole (https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/959789384785715200)

SUPER BOWL

Their own hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent

Ellen https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/961722927833067521

Stephen cobert https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/958022381741764609

Good tweet to consumer https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956258200239706114

Free crockpot https://twitter.com/CrockPotCares/status/956278840103448577

Innovative PR wins professional awards for #teamUCM Social Media Night

By Blake Hedberg

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WARRENSBURG, Mo. (Aug. 27, 2018) — The University of Central Missouri’s student-led public relations firm, Innovative PR, received two professional awards this summer for its 2017 event #teamUCM Social Media Night. The agency competed against many for-profit businesses in the Greater Kansas City Area.

The Kansas City chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) awarded #teamUCM Social Media Night a KC Quill award, the second time in the firm’s history to receive this honor. However, the winning wasn’t over for Innovative PR for the summer. In July, the firm received a Silver AMPS award from the Social Media Club of Kansas City at the organization’s annual banquet.

“We are incredibly honored to be distinguished for our work. Many hours went into making this event a reality and it is a great feeling to see the work of our students pay off,” said Agency Manager Blake Hedberg. “The 2017 event pushed our agency to new heights and created many opportunities, while providing visibility to our firm. I had a great team behind me.”

For six consecutive years, Innovative PR has been the driving force behind UCM’s popular #teamUCM Social Media Night event. Launched in 2013, the event takes place during a UCM Mules and Jennies basketball game and has engaged, entertained, and rewarded participants with a night of prizes, trivia, and contests.

The spring 2017 Innovative PR team raised more than $2,000 in donations and their comprehensive social media plan ushered in more than 1.2 million media impressions. IPR and UCM Athletics social media impressions more than tripled, while mentions increased more than 40 percent and profile visits nearly tripled over 2016 event numbers.

“Innovative PR’s work on behalf of its many clients is excellent. Winning the 2018 awards is an illustration of that excellence,” said program supervisor Dr. Tricia Hansen Horn. “We are proud to have the agency’s work represented and recognized by the Kansas City IABC and the Social Media Club of Kansas City.”

For more than nine years, students in the UCM Public Relations Program that are accepted into the UCM Innovative PR agency have the opportunity to gain real-life experience, while working with several client projects. In its time, more than 100 students have dedicated more than 22,000 hours of service to the greater UCM community.

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Innovative Public Relations (Innovative PR) is University of Central Missouri’s student public relations firm, managed and operated by UCM public relations students. Under the direction of UCM’s Integrated Marketing and Communications office and the academic public relations program, the firm was founded in January 2010. It is comprised of several public relations students who are dedicated to professional development and public relations initiatives. Innovative PR is committed to serving the UCM community by executing timely, accurate and ethical strategies and tactics, with a goal of serving clients outside of the UCM community in the future. For more information, visit ucminnovativepr.com or contact Innovative PR at ipr@ucmo.edu or 660-543-8557.

Social media night is coming!

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Image credit: ucminnovativepr.com

By Cole Braun

Innovative Public Relations, a student-led PR firm at UCM, has organized a social media night event for five years and is more excited than ever before to launch this year’s activities. It’s funny how people believe these events are easy to execute, however, this is far from the truth. Social media is still an unrefined tundra in the last frontier of digital marketing.

Weeks of careful planning and writing are necessary to facilitate an event like this. It is much more than just tweeting about something and seeing if your audience comprehends what you are trying to say. Every sentence and word are planned for a specific reason and you have to account for cross platform posting. It requires critical strategic thinking about the choice of platforms.

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Image credit: networtech.com

Multiple publics are being taken into consideration as we prepare certain messages for the event. We want to have giveaways that will engage people in the event, so we have collected a wide variety of prizes for our multiple audiences. We think about what certain publics would like, what is something everyone would want. This is where the tactical tool of research can help. Then the next decision is, which platform is best through which to give certain prizes away.

Events can be complicated, intricate and overwhelming, so in recognizing the complexity of event planning, I wanted to share tips I have learned in preparation for this social media night. These tips can help you survive the Wild West, that is the world of social media marketing right now.

Here are 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts on hosting a social media event.

● DO: Engage your audience with fun and exciting content.

If you want your audience to engage with you then you need to give them a reason to hit the like button and respond back. You will not get far just telling people to go somewhere else online to do something. Be creative here, make a silly pun or add a goofy image. Don’t be another block of text in the news feed.

● DO NOT: Copy previous work from local similar attempts.

It looks silly and confuses the public. They are not paying attention to who is doing it, only that something is happening. So don’t embarrass your organization and step all over the work done by previous groups.

●  DO: Provide a variety of opportunities for all in attendance.

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Image credit: ucminnovativepr.com

Not everyone in attendance is going to be a Twitter user, or a Snapchat user. So if you want your event to be engaging, make sure to interact with all audiences in some form. Alienating one  audience may compromise their engagement and your brand image.

●  DO NOT: Make it an obstacle course for the audience.

Making it a hassle to participate is not how you create a successful event. No one wants to  download this, click here for more or have to jump across multiple platforms for one prize. Your audience will instantly lose interest if they have to take too many steps. Make it simple such as, “reply with the answer to this question or send us back a picture.”

● DO: Plan ahead!

I know this seems like a silly thing to say, but it is important. Social media is still a Wild West world and anything can happen. So plan ahead for an inappropriate response or someone trying to abuse your competitions. Create a plan of action for any incident that could possibly happen. If something never happens, that’s great, but it’s better to be prepared.

● DO NOT: Be afraid of collaboration.

Sometimes you aren’t going to have all the answers, that’s okay. That is why it’s fun to bring in people from outside organizations to share ideas. By working with multiple individuals, you will have the chance to get tips and tricks you never would have considered. Collaboration is a key tool in the world of public relations, but sometimes it’s not the best tool. If those partnerships are not ideal, then separate. Don’t just burn the bridge.

● DO: Thank your sponsors!

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Image credit: forbes.com

If you have brought in outside groups or businesses to help sponsor giveaways or other parts of your event, thank them. Giving them appropriate acknowledgement could strengthen their future participation. Keep your side of any commitments you have made. Showing gratitude to groups that help you put on your event is essential to its success and future endeavors.

 

● DO NOT: Try to plan last minute.

Lack of planning creates heartache, confusion and makes for a sloppy event. So plan ahead. Last-minute work is messy work.

● DO: Keep note of all interactions.

Paperwork may be stressful at the time, but it makes life so much easier further down the road. This helps with keeping track of promises made to sponsors and what sponsors have done in the past. When you go back to them for the next event, you have record of their previous contributions, which can help make their decision in participating again easier. Essentially, you will have all the answers for them so all they have to do is decide how much support they can provide above last year’s efforts.

● DO NOT: Forget the reason for your event.

It is easy to get so hyped up about your social media event you forget the reason you are doing this in the first place. An immediate example is our event this Thursday, Feb. 16, #teamUCM Social Media Night. The purpose behind this event is to foster a strong sense of community between the University population, local businesses and citizens of Warrensburg, Missouri. Though the main audience is UCM students campus, we cannot forget the other factors. If we lose sight of that, then the event can easily fall to shambles.

In conclusion:

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Image credit: brandanew.com

Social media is a tool for all, not just college students and teenagers. It can be part of a strategy to make your event engaging. Remember this; research, critical thinking and tactical decision-making are your best tools in the Wild West-like field of social media.

Are you ready for #teamUCM social media night?? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
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Image credit: ucminnovativepr.com