Category: Professional Development

How Public Relations Molded Me Into A Young Professional

By: Sebastian Szczurowski

When I look back at my time at the University of Central Missouri I can’t help but to think about how fast it all went by. It seems like it was just yesterday that I made my first official visit to the university for my scheduled orientation day. When I first made the decision to major in public relations I really didn’t know what to expect from it or what I would gain from it in the future. Ever since I first decided to pursue a college education I knew that I was either going to major in some business or marketing-related field because those two industries always piqued my interest. 

When I completed my two-year tenure in community college and was looking to transfer to a four -year university I received an email from UCM’s Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies advertising the public relations program. When I saw it I didn’t think much of it because my sights were set on becoming a marketing major and I had no prior interest in pursuing a degree in public relations. But, I decided to look more into it just out of pure curiosity. That’s when I discovered that the Harmon College was one of the most highly accredited business colleges in Missouri and I read nothing but good reviews about it from previous students who graduated from the college. That is when I decided to delve deeper into it and reach out to one of the public relations program’s leading professors. 

After exchanging a series of emails with them I wanted to travel to the university to do a campus tour and meet some of the public relations professors in person. After completing my general campus visit I met up with one of the heads of the public relations department and had a very productive conversation with them about what to expect from the program and the types of courses they offer for the major. Many of the classes sounded very interesting to me and I knew from that day on that I was fully committed to the public relations program.

Throughout my time as a student in this program I was able to learn the ins and outs of the public relations industry and was fortunate enough to have been taught by some of the most passionate and driven professors. I had the opportunity to learn many useful skills such as the proper ways to gather and conduct research and how to write strategic public relations plans in a professional manner. I was grateful to have had such supportive professors to help guide me through the program at my own pace and provide me with the necessary tools needed for me to succeed. 

With graduation fast approaching, I reminisce about all the knowledge I was able to gain about the industry and the amazing people with whom I had the opportunity to network.. Now, as I look ahead and begin applying for jobs after graduation, I feel more confident in myself and my abilities as a professional because of all the great mentors I encountered at UCM on my educational path. Majoring in public relations has allowed me to gain extensive knowledge and skill sets in communication, technical writing, organization, strategic writing and much more. I can now confidently say that I’m ready to take on whatever career comes my way and use the skills that I attained in a real-world setting.

Extra Extra, Read All About It: The Importance of Staying in the Now

By: Emily Schaper

Being a Part of the Table 

We’ve all been part of a conversation where we have no idea what is being talked about. It sets you apart from others and can become difficult to get to know more people. When it comes to global issues, reading the news or checking the media every day can set yourself a spot at the table.  Plus, if you know about what’s going on in the world, you can start up a conversation about almost anything. 

How to Get Started

There are so many amazing websites that will send the news to your email every morning. It doesn’t take any time at all to be up to date with what’s happening around you. All you do is enter in your address and the top stories for each day will be sent straight to you. Some beneficial websites include:

  1. theSkimm
  2. Need2Know
  3. The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet
  4. LinkedIn Pulse

Why It’s Important

The news is important for a number of reasons within society. Not only does it inform the public about events, but it connects everyone together. Plus, if you’re interested in Public Relations, the news should already be of importance to you. Continuing on, the media can be broken down locally, nationally, and internationally

  • Local: News from a local area helps advise people about activities that may have an impact on the community. Decisions can be determined and people can be brought together
  • National: When news becomes more of interest, it will have a broader perspective. This can become tricky because of the differing time zones. However, it can be of value to know the situations of other cities and towns
  • International: When it comes to the global economy, news from other countries becomes vastly important. It gives us a sense of other perspectives and lifestyles/cultural differences

Summary

As a Public Relations major, my professors would always tell the class, you never want to be the last to know about anything. If you’re not up to date about what’s happening around you, you probably need to find a new job or area of interest. If you ever want to lock in a seat at the C-Suite Table, you’ll need to define your role, show your ability to think strategically, elevate your game, and act like you belong there. All of these can be achieved by reading the news every single day and knowing what’s happening around you.

Sources

https://www.themuse.com/advice/7-awesome-ways-to-get-your-morning-news-fix

http://clearlyexplained.com/news/importance-of-news.html

https://talentculture.com/land-seat-c-suite-table/

Staying Connected: How to Network Like a Pro

By : Emily Schaper

When it comes to opening new doors and opportunities, networking should be a top priority.  It’s not just about trading information, but establishing long-term relationships with mutual benefits.  Networking, however, may not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list.  People may find it time-consuming, awkward, or out of their comfort zone.  This can be understandable if you already have a lot on your plate and the last thing you want to do is make small talk with strangers.  Although, if you don’t take the time to prioritize networking throughout your career, you may miss out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker.  Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be expanding your professional network in no time!

Find Your Networking Style

Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker.  First, you need to determine what style works best for you.  If you are energized by being around people, for example, you could network at a large social gathering instead of just one-on-one.  Be aware, however, Covid-19 may alter these plans.  Organizations are utilizing Zoom, so if you happen to enjoy engaging with others online, this could potentially help a lot.

Network Outside the Box

Second, don’t be afraid to network outside the box.  Think of events and organizations to attend that you otherwise wouldn’t consider.  Sometimes, being able to volunteer around people of similar interests is enough to advance your career.  It’ll show you really value helping others and have a passion to learn new skills/abilities.  

Do Your Research

Don’t forget to do your research before you connect with someone.  It’ll help the conversation flow better if there’s a base understanding of their interests, education, work history, and more.  Plus, it’ll show you genuinely care and respect the other person.  They’ll remember that about you later on.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Next, always follow up.  The time you invest in speaking with someone won’t benefit your personal and professional development if you fail to follow up afterward.  This can easily be done by utilizing social media platforms, such as LinkedIn.  Just sending short, personalized messages helps differentiate you from other individuals.  According to Deena Baikowitz, chief networking officer and co-founder of Fireball Network, “The worst networking mistake you can make is not trying at all.”  

Pass It On

Last, but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to pass it on.  If you have the opportunity to help someone who has taken time to reach out to you, act upon it.  Your referral has a lot of power and can help them land a job.  You were once in their shoes and what goes around comes around.

Utilizing these tips will set you apart from others in the long run.  Remember, if you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone, then you’re not growing.  Now’s the time to reach out and stay connected.

Resources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancamillercole/2019/03/20/why-networking-should-be-at-the-core-of-your-career/?sh=1c2d1e181300

https://www.michaelpage.com.au/advice/career-advice/career-progression/benefits-networking

https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/importance-of-networking-for-career-success

The Importance of a “Thank You”

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?

Getting the Most Out of Hashtags

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.

The Basics

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.

Differentiating Public Relations from Similar Industries

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

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

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

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. 

Journalism

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

  • Coca-Cola: 

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.

  • Always:

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.

The 4-Step Approach All PR Professionals Must Master

Written By: April Wood

Several guiding principles exist in the world of public relations. One message impressed upon students by professors and mentors in the industry that I strive to carry with me at all times is the statement, “Get the right message to the right audience at the right time and on the right platform.” Following this foundational statement can help you ensure that your efforts in executing tactics are not wasted. Let’s break it down together.

 

The Right Audience

I know this is not the first segment of the phrase, but I’m covering this segment first intentionally. Knowing your audience is of paramount importance. You cannot hope to know the right message, the right time, or the right platform without knowing to whom you are speaking. You must know your audience intimately, and this is not something that a public relations professional can afford to forget. Familiarize yourself with their beliefs, values, and interests. Learn who they are by building personas that can help you envision exactly to whom you are speaking. Furthermore, knowing your audience closely will give you nearly everything you need to know to reach them. 

 

The Right Message

If you know who your audience is, you know what they care about. If you can tap into this information, you can glean how to make them care about what you are saying. Craft your message with your audience in mind. Do not write something that sounds great to you, a city-dwelling millennial, when you are speaking to rural members of Generation X. Take the information you need to get across and translate it into terms that your audience can understand. A skilled communicator and writer can do this.  A message that is not properly crafted is a message that will be ignored. 

 

The Right Time

People are busy. You are a busy person too, I presume. People are full-time workers, or homemakers, or a combination of the two, or fill a million other roles. This is to say that your audience is not always listening. An enormous library of research has been conducted in order to discover when audiences are most reachable. It varies, of course, for each audience. Personally, I consume messages most devotedly at about 10 p.m. The same can not be said of my parents, who are most usually asleep by 9. Don’t waste your efforts by starting a conversation when no one is there to reply.

 

The Right Place

Let’s talk about my family again for a second. I am on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I do not watch cable (except when the Chiefs are playing). My parents, on the other hand, have no social media. They watch the news in the morning and evening. My dad listens to talk radio at work. This simple anecdote proves that not everyone collects their information from the same source. You cannot hope to reach your audience if you do not have a sense of where they engage. Just like research can inform you of “when” to reach your audience, research can also inform you of “where” to reach your audience. Familiarize yourself with the research surrounding your audience, or conduct your own if necessary.

 

Putting it Together

Everything I’ve covered ties directly back to one thing. I have relentlessly pounded this messaged in during the few hundred words preceding this: it all ties back to research. You cannot know anything about your audience if you do not take the time to learn about them. Nothing in public relations should be done thoughtlessly. Know your audience, know what they will listen to, know when they are listening, and know where they are listening and align this information and use it to communicate with them. 

 

5 Ways PR Blogs help Professionals Stay on Trend

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.

 

Revamp Creativity

 

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. 

 

Writing tips

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! 

Online Personal Branding for the College Professional

By: Myah Duncan

“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” -Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon 

 

Actively branding yourself via social media can go a lot further than a resume and cover letter when it comes to getting a first internship or job. It can also keep you from getting that internship or job. Employers never hesitate to do a quick Google search to see how a potential employee represents him/herself online, in fact, according to CareerBuilder, more than 70% of employers check a candidate’s social media content BEFORE deciding to hire. So ask yourself, do you want what you are posting to be seen by a potential employer? Do you think you’d get that internship you want so badly? As a college student, this is the best time to clean up your social media and build your online personal brand in a way that benefits you. 

 

Cleaning Time

 

It is easy to get caught up in the moment and post every picture that you take to your social media accounts. But do you really want your future employer to see the wild time you had when drinking last Thursday night on Pine Street? You don’t want them to see it just as much as they don’t want to see it. They want to make sure you know how to act professionally when in public. So, the first lesson is, don’t post that picture. But if you have, this is the perfect time to start going through all those photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that may not shine that professional light. Delete them from your social channels, but you can keep them if you save them on your laptop, make a scrapbook, or do whatever feels right. But do not leave them on there for the world to see. Oh, and don’t forget to ask friends to delete questionable images of you from their own feeds. It’s time to draw that line between personal and professional life. You can still post fun experiences, but you have to make sure it’s strategically fun content.

 

Crafting Content

 

The content that you put out on your social media accounts does not necessarily have to be all about business and links to different articles. It is still important to be yourself via your own channels; it’s like a portfolio of who you are. First, focus on your grammar and spelling. This is an easy way to represent your writing ability. It’s a huge red flag if all of your posts have many errors in them. Take time to read through your posts and delete or edit those posts that do have errors. Second, carefully evaluate the images you want to post. Ask, what do they say to others about my professionalism? My choices? My values?

 

Leaving the lasting impression

 

Just like after meeting a professional in person, those who engage with you via social media want to remember who you are and have a solid impression of the type of person you are. You want your social media to leave a positive lasting impression on a professional who views it. Actively cleaning and crafting now will help you leave a good impression. 

 

By putting the time and effort into your social media you are giving professionals or anyone who views your page a well-rounded peek into your life. Don’t let inappropriate social media end your chances of landing the job.  

 

References

Salm, L. (n.d.). 70% of employers are snooping candidates’ social media profiles. Retrieved October 4, 2019, from https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/social-media-survey-2017.

Tips for Building Your Personal Brand. (2019, June 14). Retrieved from https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/tips-for-building-your-personal-brand/.

Sentiments of a College Senior

By Meredith Trapper

As graduation quickly approaches, I cannot help but reflect on my time here at UCM and the defining moments that brought me to where I am today. Everyone has a reason for why they picked the degree they did, but for me, there were many reasons and many people.

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I came to UCM in 2015. However, I quickly realized I had absolutely no clue. I somehow found myself sitting in class thinking about the things that I enjoy the most in life: interacting with people, writing, giving presentations, problem solving, and having not one day be alike. I love always being on the move and challenging myself in every opportunity. Knowing that, I wound up sitting in Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn’s office trying to understand what on Earth this degree called Public Relations was all about. Little did I know, that Public Relations is all of those things I loved and so much more.

Thank you, Dr. Hansen-Horn, for always taking time to talk through things with me. I will forever be grateful for the life advice you give and for challenging me to do things I never thought myself capable.

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From that conversation on, I was sold. Not only do I love everything about the degree I am pursuing, but I love the people within the program. I have never related better to a group of people than I do with those in my program. Prior to starting the program, all my friends were in my sorority, and I never really tried to make friends within my classes. However, that quickly changed as I became more involved in Public Relations.

Thank you Kylee Julian for being the friend I never knew I needed and for pushing me out of my comfort zone to opportunities like Innovative Public Relations (IPR) and studying abroad in Australia with the PR program. You are a true life-long friend that I know will continue to push me out of my comfort zone for many years to come.

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Innovative Public Relations has been one of my favorite memories while in college. Not only did I receive real-life experience, but I made friends and memories along the way that I will hold with me forever. My teams and I have accomplished work I can be proud to show off and did so in a fun and exciting way.

Thank you Blake Hedberg for turning me into that nerd who is truly excited to go to a class. You have been a great mentor and someone I respect immensely. 

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Lastly, thank you to Dr. Horn, Dr. Hansen-Horn, Professor Heapes, and Professor Mullins for not only pushing me to be the best version of myself, but for going above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you for always making time to help with classes, internships, jobs, and so much more. I am so fortunate to have professors that not only want you to succeed in their class, but want to set you up for success in the future. You all make me proud to be graduating from UCM’s PR program, and I know many others in my shoes feel the same way.