By Ashleigh Horn
“Thank you“ can be defined as a polite expression of one’s gratitude. Though this definition seems so simple, the action of thanking others has become about as rare as some students coming to class these days.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have historically been guilty of not taking time to express my appreciation for others when they have done something for me—acts of service I often have benefitted from. However, as a student and future professional, I’m continually learning the importance and impact of taking two minutes out of my day to sit down and write a thank you note to someone who has gone out of their way to make my life better.
Saying “thank you” not only reflects graciousness, it also lets that future employer, a professor, or even your parents, know that you’re mindful and appreciative of their time. In return, it will likely encourage them to want to help you again in the future.
I understand that we live in a hectic and fast-paced world. We’re busier and more involved today than we were even 10 years ago. Between school, work, jobs, and extracurricular activities, it can be difficult to find time to go out to the occasional dinner with friends. However, this fast-paced culture we’ve established is no excuse to not say “thank you.”
Unfortunately, it has become a common practice. In 2019, Jennifer Spencer, recruiter and owner of The Spencer Group, Inc., shared that no one sends thank you’s anymore. She believes that, nowadays, probably for every five people a hiring manager will interview, one person sends a thank you. That’s it!”
Managers, employers, and educators alike go to great lengths to invest in students and these two little words stand out when you say them simply because few ever do. To my fellow students, if you want them to notice you, take time to acknowledge them!
In The Power of Thank You, blogger Chris Rackliffe identifies three reasons why giving thanks is mighty. According to Rackliffe, saying thank you is not only the ultimate way to reaffirm yourself, but doing so also shows that you appreciate and respect what connects all things, as well as opens up doors of possibility.
Likewise, Spencer mentioned that sending a thank you can result in your resumé being bumped up to the top of the applicant list for that company you just interviewed with. This is a prime example of opportunity stemming from showing gratitude. Soon-to-be graduates, please take note, this could be especially important for those of you who are looking for jobs right now!
Though saying “thank you” may seem easy, it takes intentionality and effort. However, there can be great reward in carving out time to do so. We all like to be acknowledged and I believe expressing our thankfulness should become a more common practice.
Who’s one person in your life that you want to thank today?
By: Armani Shumpert
Hashtags are important for success in supporting social media content. Appearing as a keyword or phrase with no spaces with the # (pound) symbol at the front of it, the hashtag is a way to make material easy to find, at least when used correctly.
Hashtags have been widely used on Twitter, but they are now popular on other social media platforms sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Understanding the difference in these platforms and how to use hashtags effectively is a great way for you to maximize your engagement with your followers.
While a hashtag seems easy to place before keywords, some other specifics are important to note as you try to reap the greatest benefits of using hashtags. Here are some tips for general purposes:
- Keep hashtags brief and unforgettable rather than attempting to include a variety of words with one tag.
- Try not to pressure any post with hashtags. Use them only if they add importance to your post and are likely to encourage dialog and discussion
- Do not overuse hashtags. The number of hashtags you use depends on which platform you are using, but in most cases, one or two hashtags work better than many.
- The use of descriptive and unique hashtags can yield better results than widespread or generic ones.
Using hashtags is not a one-size-fits-all proposition that is the same for all social media. Here are a few ideas about how hashtags on specific social media platforms can be used properly.
Use Hashtags on Instagram
When it comes to Instagram, using more hashtags will lead to more engagement. Use up to 10 or 11 relevant and popular hashtags on this platform to get the most out of it. You probably do not need to use too many of them, but it is good to know that using more is good here, so you can experiment with what works for you.
Use the search box to see which hashtags are used by influencers or competition. Since this is the best forum for many hashtags, try various hashtags. For blogs, videos, and comments, use them.
Use Hashtags on Twitter
Using the appropriate Twitter hashtags will boost your participation. One or two hashtags on a tweet should be enough. If you use a few hashtags and explicitly ask your followers to retweet, this may result in more engagement.
Using Twitter hashtags can make your post available as people search for your tag. It can also help you locate conversations to get involved. To have even more effect on this forum, research hashtags are trending. Twitonomy is a good method specifically for studying Twitter patterns.
Use Hashtags of LinkedIN
On LinkedIn, people have not always stressed the use of hashtags, but they function on this site in the same way as any of the other social media sites. Using a couple of hashtags on your post if you are posting long-form material on LinkedIn. LinkedIn typically recommends one or three hashtags.
You can get your alerts outside of your network by using hashtags on LinkedIn. It is a perfect way to raise awareness about the brand.
The use of hashtags is an excellent tool for interacting with your followers as well as increasing interaction and attracting new target audiences. To be effective please keep in mind the social media platform you are using and best practices for best results.
By: Rebeka Dickerson
Public relations is often confused by the general public with many other industries, but specifically marketing and advertising. The three are so similar that they are even commonly integrated these days. And then there is journalism which is frequently mentioned in the PR world as well. So, to help provide a better understanding of these four important communication mediums, I am providing some information below about what makes each unique.
Public relations is all about awareness and reputation. Awareness and reputation can in turn help a company sell products or become successful. PR deals with the long game; keeping customers coming back and obtaining new loyal customers.
An example of PR is the #IceBucketChallenge. The 2014 viral campaign raised awareness for ALS by inspiring people to post videos of themselves being drenched by a bucket of ice water and/or donating for ALS research. Many celebrities participated and over $115 million dollars was raised for the ALS Association.
Marketing is a technique for stimulating a demand for a specific product or service. The main goals are to make a product or service widely known and to increase sales. The transaction of something in the moment matters more than what will happen with the company in two or three years. Professionals in this industry often refer to product, price, place, and promotion as the four Ps of marketing needed to sell goods or services.
An example of marketing is Spotify and how it is is marketed differently than other music applications. Spotify assists users in finding music they have never heard before. Users can click any category of music and explore a multitude of artists. Spotify also sorts music options by music someone may want to workout to, sleep to, or even play video games to.
Advertising is a paid message. It is a part of marketing (promotion). It can also be part of a public relations campaign. An advertisement could be a television commercial, but it could also be a print ad, digital ad, radio ad, billboard, and so on.
Examples of companies that are known to continuously use ads to their advantage are Geico, Ford, and Nike.
While public relations has a target audience, journalism does (or should) not. Journalism’s purpose is to simply inform the general public in an objective way. A PR professional’s job is to advocate for a specific company or individual, while a journalist is traditionally meant to remain unbiased.
Examples of Journalism can vary. The many types include broadcast, investigative, opinion, entertainment, political, and sports.
A Couple Examples of Integration
As part of its brand awareness strategy, Coca-Cola has combined PR and journalism by utilizing storytelling on its website (https://www.coca-colacompany.com/). This is also known as brand journalism. Stories on the website detail how the company supports the community, how they promote diversity and inclusion, and how they help the environment.
The brand Always has an ongoing PR campaign #LikeAGirl, which encourages people to change the meaning of the phrase and how society views girls and women. A popular Super Bowl advertisement was created to promote the campaign in 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Ep0O5fWN4).
So although similar, all four of these industries definitely have their own place. They each have their own distinct objectives. Yet they all work with the public in mind, and any of them can be combined strategically to create even greater success.
By: Emma Honn
As a senior in the public relations program at the University of Central Missouri, I am often asked “What is public relations?” I get the question at family functions, social gatherings and different events around campus. Sometimes, I get tired of the question and think to myself “How do they not understand?” I have realized that people do not know what public relations is because PR professionals have been doing PR for their clients, and not for the profession itself.
Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” To a public relations professional, this makes sense. However, to someone who knows nothing about the industry, it may not. Here are a few things you need to know about public relations.
We are strategic storytellers. We use narrative to build our brand and relationships with our intended audiences. It can be through social media, brand specific communications or the media. We tend to try and humanize a brand, meaning we add a human element to a story or brand to help our audiences relate. For example, instead of saying “buy this product,” we say, “this is important because…” We do this to build trust between our company and our audiences.
We work with the media. Read that correctly: we are not the media, we work with the media. The goal here is to earn media placements. We build a story with a human element, and earn media coverage on the subject. This gets our brand in front of our audiences for something that may not necessarily be our products. Although there is no guarantee of media placement, when we do earn a spot, there is a third party validation of our brand, our products and our story.
We write press releases and speeches, and plan and execute events. A press release is typically written by a public relations professional with the goal of it being picked up by a media outlet. These, however, are written with much thought, newsworthiness and human element. If you are ever listening to a speech, chances are, the script was written by a public relations professional. The basis of speech writing is solid writing skills. PR professionals have an eye for detail and design, two things that are essential to a great speech. Public Relations departments typically handle the planning and execution of events meant for public outreach and media relations. If you are ever at a large event, it was probably handled by someone who works in PR.
We manage social media and handle crises whenever they arise. Social media is a tricky subject. Since it is a relatively new thing in public relations, we have had to learn how to adapt and work with ever-changing platforms. We handle crises that may come up for organizations. For example, think of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal. Every statement given by VW, press conference held, you name it, was planned and handled by a PR team. Crises can range in severity, but whatever the crisis may be, a solid PR professional can handle it.
We are strategic storytellers, work with the media, write press releases and speeches, plan and execute events manage social media and handle crises. These topics are all under the public relations umbrella, but this just scratches the surface. Now, the next time someone says “I work in public relations,” or “I am a public relations major,” you will know a little bit about what they do.
By Shelby Bueneman
Podcasts have become increasingly popular. You can listen to them on Spotify, on the app itself and on Apple music. With such a wide variety of podcasts it can be difficult to find the right one that will benefit you. For public relations professionals there are five basic podcasts to listen to that will help them grow their skills and their business. Listening to these podcasts will help them stay on top of trends, revamp their creativity, find ways to be a better leader, keep up with the actual PR industry and benefit from writing tips.
Stay on Top of Trends
Public relations professionals need to keep up to date on what is trending within their business area, nationwide, and globally. Keeping up with different trends allows PR professionals to see how their target audiences are affected and how they react to the trends. They can use this to their advantage to reach their publics more efficiently. For news podcasts I ,recommend NPR News Now by NPR and Global News Podcast by BBC. Both of these podcasts are updated daily and are fact based with some occasional humor.
Having a creative mind is important for PR professionals. It’s how campaigns and other communication strategies are created. PR professionals should keep their mind flowing with these different podcasts. The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry is a great podcast that showcases different speakers, artists and thought leaders. In this podcast Henry points out different ways to be happy, healthy, and creative, not only at work but in life.
Find Ways to be a Better Leader
I previously attended a conference where it was noted that leadership does not only come from those with higher up positions. Leaders are found throughout the whole company. This sentiment is shared through different podcasts such as Leadership and Loyalty by Dov Baron and This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt. Baron talks about leadership by using honesty and emotional intelligence. This provides a more insightful way to connect with those you oversee or those with whom you work closely. Hyatt’s podcast is more about helping those with fast-paced lives lead with confidence.
Keeping up with the PR industry
While it is important to stay on top of current trends, it is also important to stay on top of what is currently happening in the PR world. With so many new ways to keep track of everything it is helpful to have much of you need to know wrapped up in an episode. You can follow The Spin Sucks Podcast by Gini Dietrich and Inside PR podcasts to keep up with the PR world. Both of these podcasts follow the inner workings of the PR world and talk about current trends within it.
PR professionals are constantly writing and there is always room for improvement. While professionals usually use AP style, these podcasts can provide a bit more of a fresh narrative. Check out Writing Tips by Brian M. Taylor and Copy that Pops by Laura Peterson, M.A.E.D. for inspiration. Both of these podcasts has some humor to them so you won’t snooze on your way to the office.
With the PR world always changing, listening to podcasts is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch. They are great to listen to on your commute to work or even when you are unwinding from a long day in the office. Happy listening!
By: Sarah Arnett
Searching for a job can be overwhelming, no matter what stage of your career you are in.
“Where do I start? Do I have what it takes to find a good job? How can I set myself up for success? How am I supposed to find a job if I am not sure what I want to do?”
If you’re anything like me, you may have asked yourself these questions. Thankfully, there are many experienced professionals who are happy to share tips and tricks with you. Whether you are entering the job market for the first time or considering changing career paths, there are a few steps you can take to set yourself up for success.
First, know your why. As a public relations professional, you have probably heard this phrase a hundred times. It may seem cliche, but it is important to understand why you are in the public relations field. It may be because you are a talented writer, a big thinker, passionate about helping others, or a variety of other reasons. No matter what it is, it is important to establish your personal why to figure out what motivates you to succeed. Knowing this will allow you to continue to grow personally and professionally. At the end of the day, you are your most important client.
Once you have established your why, it is important to find a company that is a good fit for you. While a job is a job, it is a great benefit to work for a company that you enjoy. Research companies and learn about their values and corporate culture. It is important that a company is a good fit for you on both a professional and personal level, and if you’re the right fit for them.
Another important step after establishing your why is to take a leap. No matter the size of your professional network, ask those you have connections with about potential opportunities. They may not have a position open within their organization, but more often than not, they will pass on your information to other professionals. Not only does this expand your network, but you might be presented with an opportunity you did not know about. In the past year searching for internships and full-time positions, I have learned that you will never know if you do not ask! The worst thing that can happen is someone will say “no”.
While I have learned countless things during my time in college, I have discovered that everything works out in time. No matter what stage you are at in your education and career, the things happening right now will all work out in the end and it will be okay, if you work hard, stay
focused and maintain a positive attitude. While it may be hard to believe at this time, you will realize it is true ten years from now as you reflect on the past.
As you search for jobs, keep these tips in mind. If you become overwhelmed, remember your why and continue to work hard. A positive attitude and strong work ethic will help you succeed in the job market, no matter what challenge you face.
By: Shelby Bueneman
This summer I was fortunate enough to get an inside look into the life of a blogging influencer. Getting a behind-the-scenes look into how the blog runs, different events that the blogger is invited to, and the creation of pieces after event attendance was eye opening. Influencers are on the rise and they can be beneficial to public relations professionals through their outreach, honesty, trust and mutual benefits that exist between blogger and clients.
Influencers can have a big outreach or a small one. The influencer you choose depends on what audience you want to reach. The blogger I worked for had a small outreach, with followings of one thousand or less. Based in Kansas City, she had a strategic way of connecting personally with audiences. Her posts and blogs were pointed toward the interests of those who were from Kansas City and those who wanted to visit. Because she intentionally solicited a smaller outreach, she could make posts and promotions seem more personable and real. She talked about things her audiences knew about or had experienced themselves. She had a lot of clients and they all wanted to reach Kansas City folks. So, it’s clear that to reach your exact target audience you need to find the right influencer. There are many different bloggers ranging from lifestyle, entertainment, fashion, DIY’s, and so many more. Once you find the right one, it is as simple as reaching out to them with the right pitch. They are always looking for their next blog and more events to attend.
One thing that I found stimulating was that influencers want to be honest with their audiences. As a consumer it’s easy to think that they are only saying a product works or that an event was great because of the deal they have. That is not the case. Just like public relations professionals, they are looking to gain trust with their audiences. The amount of research they put into their blogs to make sure they have all the relevant facts is notable. Honesty is one of their main concerns; if they are dishonest with their audiences, they lose their credibility. Credibility gets and keeps clients. This leads into the third benefit, trust.
Honesty and trust are intertwined. Without honesty there can be no trust. Influencers that are labeled as the everyday person are seen as the most trustworthy in the consumer’s eyes. Business 2 Community talks about how over ninety percent of consumers trust people within their network. Generally, the larger a blogger’s reach, the more celebrity status that influencer holds. If you choose a mainstream celebrity as your influencer, your product or event may not be perceived as authentic because it’s most likely that money changed hands. When you choose an influencer with a smaller outreach, you find the audience that has the most trust. This benefits your brand through the relatability to influencer holds with audiences. Working with the correct influencer can help your brand to stand out against the competition.
Partnering with a blogger is mutually beneficial. By promoting for a public relations professional, the influencer is creating more content and catching the eye of more consumers. This can generate more engagement for both the influencer and the professional. Working with an influencer as a company allows you to be seen in a more positive light and gives you more organic engagement with potential customers.
By: Sydney Halas
In college, time seems to fly quickly. One moment you are moving into a dormitory room for the first time, and the next, you are a senior, hopefully, well-prepared to embark on your professional career. Like many students, I was lost as a freshman. I entered school with an undecided major and no specific direction. After taking a class where I had the opportunity to explore many majors, I found myself considering either a degree in public relations or speech pathology. In several hours of discussions with my academic advisor, we decided a career in public relations would be more fulfilling for me.
My first class in the public relations program was taught by Professor Tricia Hansen Horn, and she wasted no time emphasizing the importance of networking. Being a first year student, I didn’t understand the importance behind her message. I wasted more than two years doing absolutely nothing to connect with public relations professionals. I sat through presentations by guest speakers in classes and conferences hardly paying attention to the speakers’ names. My grades have always been incredibly important to me but taking the extra step to connect with professionals who could offer me future opportunities did not register with me.
Finally, a few months into my junior year, something clicked. I needed an internship. I knew I had a better chance at securing one if I made connections before applying. I began taking extra steps after listening to a guest speaker. I would go up to a speaker after he or she spoke and shake their hand and introduce myself. I would connect with them on LinkedIn, and in some cases, send them a message about what I learned or extra questions I thought about later. They often responded. Networking enabled me to get a summer internship at Worlds of Fun through an employee who reached out to me. Had I not learned about the value of networking, I may have failed to check LinkedIn, and I likely would have missed the opportunity.
Another incredible networking opportunity was presented to me earlier this year. I was discussing my plans as a future public relations professional with my best friend from back home, and she gave me the name of a young woman who might be of interest to me. I connected with her online, and we made plans to get coffee in Kansas City. As a gesture of good will, I offered to buy her coffee, just like Professor Hansen-Horn had always instructed us to do. And, as Professor Hansen-Horn predicted, she instead bought mine. I followed up the day after the meeting with a hand-written thank-you note. Now, she is personally helping me tailor my resume to apply for an internship with her public relations firm, which is one of the largest in the world. I would have never had this incredible opportunity if I was not brave enough to make the first move and capitalize on this valuable opportunity to meet a professional in my chosen field.
I hope that any college student who reads this learns from my mistakes. Networking is an incredibly valuable skill for any student and young professional, not just those who plan to work in public relations. You never know who might offer you your next internship, job or phenomenal career. Never let your laziness, or fear, or whatever it may be, stop you from reaching out to a professional in your field. Remember, the worst they can do is say “no.” What’s the best thing they can do? Well, you will never know until you reach out!
By: Samuel Jordison
For the past year, I had the opportunity to work as a human resources intern for a manufacturing plant in Kansas City. When comparing PR and HR on the surface it looks like two completely different fields, but there is a lot they have in common. I’ve found that certain commonalities extend not just between PR and HR, but PR and almost every field in business. One of those things is that you have to know your audience.
One of the first things we learn in Intro to Public Relations is that you need to understand who your “public” is if you want to relate to them. That advice is universal across the world. If we want to communicate something to someone, first we need to make sure they are interested in what we are communicating. If we want them to respond, we need to communicate in a way that is clear to them. If we want them to have a positive reaction to what we say, then we need to say it in a way that encourages them in a positive way. All of these things hinge on knowing who your audience is and understanding what is important to them.
This is not exclusive to those in the PR world. In the workforce, managers need to know that their employees have an interest in their work to be good employees. Parents want their children to understand them, and will try and communicate in ways their children will understand. Even friendships are built with recurring positive interaction.
Knowing your audience, whether it’s employees, co-workers, friends, or family members, is important in any setting. As an HR Intern, my primary audience was the employees inside the company. I strived to gain an understanding of how they think and the best way to communicate with them. Otherwise, the programs or events we would roll out would be ineffective.
When we take time to figure out how those around us will best receive our message, we are strengthening a relationship. Whether that relationship is with consumers, employees, family or friends, it’s extremely beneficial.