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: Sarah Arnett
When I entered college, I did not know what I wanted to major in. While I knew I wanted to make a difference, I continued to explore and research, eventually landing in Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn’s office to discuss public relations. However, I was unsure how public relations made a difference in the world around me. As I begin my senior year, I have a set of tools in my back pocket, ready to utilize and make a difference.
Networking is crucial to public relations. To be a successful professional, it is important to make connections whenever the opportunity presents itself. Whether it be at a professional event or at the local Starbucks, never pass up the opportunity to make a connection with somebody. You never know, they may be your next partner on a groundbreaking campaign!
– Social Media
Gone are the days of reading the morning newspaper. Instead, you can catch people scrolling through Twitter and checking their email first thing in the morning. A strategic public relations professional knows that social media is a powerful tool to share messages and appeal to human interest.
– Team Work
As much as some hate group work, there is no denying that the best ideas come from the culmination of several ideas. When used effectively, group work sparks creativity and inspires great ideas. These ideas are the ones that motivate audience members to take action, making a lasting impact.
– Setting SMART Goals
If you want to change the world through public relations, big goals are to be expected. However, it is important to make those goals SMART. A goal must be strategic, with sound reasoning and research backing it up. It must also be measurable, to ensure that it is results driven and justifiable use of resources. A goal must also be attainable and realistic, as there is no point in setting a goal that has no chance of being accomplished. A goal must also be time-bound to ensure that resources are being used efficiently and team members are focused on providing results. By setting SMART goals, public relations professionals have a strong plan in place to change the world.
– Finding Your Passion
At the end of the day, the biggest results will come from efforts you are passionate about. There will be projects that you work on that don’t set your soul on fire, and that is okay. But the best ideas and results come from working on things that set your soul on fire. Whether that is grounding breaking technology or a new brand of coffee, the best results are those that you are proud of and feel that you made a difference with.
By combining these skills, as well as many others, public relations professionals are able to provide results that make an impact on the world one message at a time. I’m excited to put them to use in my future career as a public relations professional!
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.
By: Emma Honn
We have all heard it before: to be a public relations professional, you have to be a creative storyteller, think outside of the box and be quick on your feet. There’s still not much talk about being analytical. As technology develops and our means of communication becomes more sophisticated, PR professionals must begin to think about how data can provide value to their work.
People have a hard time believing what companies say about themselves. Facts can substantiate a claim, but using data alone does not build a personality for your brand. Creative storytelling can be amplified by incorporating facts along the way, and bringing credibility to a message will help audiences believe and trust in your brand. Research and data can also help in measuring attitudes before and after a PR effort. It’s a win-win situation on both sides. Remember, being a creative storyteller is one thing, but incorporating analytical thinking into storytelling is another.
Connecting with your audience
Often times, we believe that being creative and having great ideas will lead to success. While that may be true, there has to be a way to measure how well the great idea actually performed. By using big data, we can understand how audiences have reacted to a certain idea or campaign, or if they behaved in a certain way because of PR strategies. The element of measurement that big data offers allows PR professionals to be strategic in decision making. Instead of guessing what target audiences want or how they think, big data offers improved insights about what our audiences did, what they want and what they expect.
A seat at the table
We can also use big data to conduct attitudinal and behavioral research. This is essential to the success of a campaign or initiatives that PR professionals develop. By conducting attitudinal and behavioral research before and after a campaign, we can see how well our campaign actually performed.
It seems like, nowadays, PR professionals are standing in the corner instead of sitting at the table. Professionals are having a hard time proving what PR is worth to an organization, but having cold hard data to show the C-suite will prove the worth of any PR team, and show that we are a vital and valuable part of every company.
When students get into PR, they think, “No more math! I get to be creative all the time!” This may have been true 30 years ago, but with the developments in technology and communication, a background in data is more important than ever. If PR is going to have a seat at the table, build stronger relationships with their audiences and amplify communications, data must be in the conversation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Maddison Armbruster
If you’re anything like me, I felt incredibly lost freshman year. I had no idea what I wanted to major in or what I wanted to do with my life. After some time, I selected public relations as my major and began to find a path post-graduation. However, there are a few more things I’ve learned during my time at UCM I couldn’t resist sharing. Follow these tips and you too can benefit!
Attend class and ask questions and actively listen to lecture and discussion. Attend events that are going on around campus. It’s a part of putting yourself out there and meeting new people. There are plenty of opportunities to learn something new outside of the classroom or participate in a new, fun experience.
It is so beneficial to take the time to introduce yourself to your fellow classmates and professors. It allows you to make connections and practice your networking skills. It’s also the start of creating and building relationships with those around you in your major. This is crucial when the time comes to search for your first job after graduation. These individuals can help guide you to the right location. It cannot hurt to connect to future colleagues early.
Take advantage of the resources that are available to you. There are so many different offices on campus that you can benefit from. Become a better writer through the Writing Center or take a break at The Mule Post in between classes. Everything from meeting with your advisor to heading over to the Career Services Center to make sure you are interview ready, this campus can help prepare you for life after college.
Remember college is not all about school. It’s also a great time to try out different clubs and organizations on campus, regardless if they pertain to your major or not. This is a great way to give yourself a mental break and remind yourself to have fun on campus. You can expand your network, meet new friends, and gain invaluable experience!
Opportunities are everywhere and can benefit you in a number of ways. Make the most of your time on campus by getting involved and stepping out of your comfort zone!
By Amanda Walls
From someone who is weeks away from college graduation and hunting for a full-time job, trust me, finding a position you are happy with is difficult! Landing that position is even more challenging. Here are some tips on how to create a resume that stands above the rest.
Short, but sweet.
A general rule for college graduates, keep the resume one page only! Sure you have work experience, but it is unlikely that the person who is hiring for the entry-level position in which you are applying wants to read a book about your work experience. In fact, the average time a recruiter spends looking at a resume to decide if it is relevant is 10 seconds. Keep it brief, but keep it relevant. A lengthy, wordy resume is much more likely to get tossed aside than a resume that is well organized and to the point.
Cater to each position.
No two resumes that you send out for job applications should be the same. Your resume should be edited so that your work experience directly relates to the job you are seeking. Better yet, use some key terms that the job description uses, the person reading your resume will notice! It is also important to put the most relevant job experience first. If a professional glances at your resume, the first things they should see are your name, and your most relevant experience. That way, they immediately know this applicant has the experience they are looking for.
Add some personality!
Reading the same document over and over is tedious. That is basically how hiring committees feel when they are exposed to several generic resumes. It is important to include some personality, without overdoing it. Add a pop of color, a unique layout or an attention grabbing introduction to set your resume apart from the others. Make certain your resume is still clean and professional, but show the employer how you stand out! This will help the employer have some sort of memorable takeaway from your resume.
Go beyond the resume.
If you are in any industry where you create some type of content, it is obvious that just simply writing about it isn’t enough. Visuals are important, so consider creating an online portfolio. Your portfolio should follow the general theme of your resume, while showing off all of your created content. Dropping a link to your portfolio on your resume is an easy way to show the employer that you are organized and mean business!
Ready to make a show-stopping resume? Follow this link for some great guidelines and ideas to get you started https://zety.com/blog/public-relations-resume-example
By Hannah Treat
Working on campus is a typical job opportunity for most college students, whatever university they might be at, but you don’t always get to work in an area that is dedicated to your major. Personally, I have worked in housing and the music department. Although they are both great job opportunities, they are not public relations focused. Entering my senior year, I started a new job position at the Elliott Student Union at the information desk and their promotions team. Finally a job that caters to my major!
Typically when I tell people I work in two different areas for the Elliott Student Union (ESU) they look at me like I’m crazy, and they may be right. But I’ve also found that they pair together really well. Working on the promotions team is where I perform the most public relations work. I get to help take and create social media content, whether that be a photo, flyer or a graphic. One of my favorite projects was getting to create all the physical and digital content for a new project about coffee that the Union implemented to engage their target audience and students to increase awareness for on campus coffee shops. Was I terrified having so much free reign, absolutely! However, the experience was such a fun way to get more insight to something I could actually be doing in the real world.
The best part about working on the promotions team is how much it benefits my other ESU position at the information desk. My responsibilities at the desk aren’t as exciting as my work in the office. I answer questions that any guest in the Union might have, as well as run the print stop. The tasks for this job aren’t what is challenging, engaging with students and other visitors is the harder part. We are the face of the ESU. When people come up to the information desk, they expect me to have all the answers. I honestly think working at both positions has helped me truly understand ESU, what type of events they host and what resources they have or house.
Sometimes I feel like I’m juggling too much, and working at an on campus job is too much, but then I remember the benefits. The obvious is having a schedule that is built around my classes. I KNOW that isn’t the same for off campus jobs. Then there are other perks. As a PR professional, it is important to look at your key audience, for the ESU that is primarily students, and know how to message to them. Being a student myself I have a bit of insight, but getting to work face-to-face with our audience on a daily basis at the information desk, I get insight to what students want and expect when they enter the Student Union.
An opportunity I didn’t see walking into this job is perfectly illustrated in the article ‘The Benefits of On Campus Jobs During College’ that says, “Many students who seek on campus employment are able to grow their networks this way, leaving them with more career opportunities after graduation.” Every PR student knows it’s all about networking. Through my job at ESU, I have built relationships with Grad Assistants and staff members, who have connections throughout Warrensburg and other local areas. Knowing that they have seen my work ethic at not only one job, but two, makes me confident that when I graduate, I can turn to those professionals for potential recommendations or jobs.
I never thought I would find a job on campus that would truly help me prepare for post-graduation life, but working at the Elliott Student Union has given me that opportunity.
The Benefits of On Campus Jobs During College. (2015, April 15). Retrieved from https://gentwenty.com/on-campus-jobs/
By Emily Thole
It is officially March, one of the most exciting months of the year. This month brings forth multiple things to look forward to. March is a time to celebrate Women’s History, St. Patrick’s Day, spring break, and one of the most exciting and authentic events in college athletics: March Madness.
March Madness is a historic event that involves 68 of the best college basketball teams in the nation, matching up for a chance to compete for the NCAA Men’s Division I National Championship. There will be excitement. There will be upsets. There will “edge-of-your-seat” moments. And behind it all, there will be moments where public relations plays a powerful role in the game of basketball.
When you look at March Madness, there are a few things you can take away from the game that also apply to the public relations profession.
- Teamwork makes the dream work.
Most teams don’t rely on just one player to win a game. Each individual plays a specific role to help achieve an end goal. That may be defense, shooting threes, or cheering from the bench.
Public relations works the same way. Each person in an organization must keep the end goal in mind by understanding client needs, publics, objectives, strategies and more. Team members must know their role to keep the project on task and consistent. If someone doesn’t complete their tasks, they may hinder the end result.
- Believe in comebacks.
In basketball, anything is possible. Your team may be down by 20 points, but with heart and persistence, they can still win the game. In PR, sometimes it may seem like your organization can never come back from a crisis. No matter how hard you push ahead, something keeps pushing back
Understand that although your organization may fall, you can stand up and keep pushing until the buzzer sounds. Your game plan may need to change and adjust as the crisis occurs, but maintain a winning attitude and strategy, and you can come out on top.
- Practice makes perfect.
Each team wants to win a national title, but unlike other teams, UCLA is used to the applause. The school has won 11 national championships over the years, but they still keep pushing to get be better. They could settle with their glory, or practice to achieve more.
As a PR professional, you must polish your skills in order to stay on top of the game. Industry trends, media, networking and more are changing daily. Practicing and polishing your skills can only make you a better PR professional for the future.
Each of these points proves that the game of basketball and the business of public relations have a lot in common. Just as in March Madness, making it far in the PR industry is not guaranteed, but with the right preparation and mindset, your organization can create their own Cinderella story.
By Amanda Ferrin
Although you may not be considering working abroad, intercultural awareness is essential for anyone in the PR industry. Whether you’re interested in working in the corporate sector or a nonprofit, understanding the global market can greatly enhance your career.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to do my internship for a tourist company in Costa Rica. It was a terrifying experience that forced me to step out of my comfort zone. Here are some of the things I took away from it:
1. Knowing English is vital, but learning a second language is important
Considered to be the language of business and technology, English is the most spoken language of the 21st century. There are over 1.5 billion global speakers around the world! However, recent data from the United States Census Office suggests that the nation will have an estimated 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, which would make it the largest Spanish-speaking nation.
Because our world is getting smaller and more diverse, many employers are looking for bilingual people to work in their PR/communication departments. Although you may not be able to travel abroad or take language classes, there are many free apps and websites, like Duolingo, available for practicing your language skills.
2. Successful communication isn’t always with words
Although I was translating marketing materials from Spanish, my actual Spanish-speaking abilities are limited. There were many instances where I had to use hand gestures to convey what I was trying to say. Smiling and showing confidence is key in those situations. Whether there is a language barrier or just a communication gap, stay aware of your non-verbals, which are vital in making a positive connection. This is especially important when you’re interviewing or meeting with clients.
3. Learn to look outside of your own cultural lens
When you are living in a certain location for a while, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is exposed to the same things as you. Your organization may be targeting a large demographic of people who have diverse interests. It’s vital to consider how things will be perceived by your audience.
Although we are taught everything in PR is deadline-driven, I found that to be less true in Costa Rica. Living by the phrase, “Pura Vida”, Costa Rican culture is laid back. The World Cup was going on during my internship and my co-workers actually stopped working to watch the game. If you ever partner with an international company, you may find yourself adjusting to different cultural norms.
4. Research, research, research
We are told to do this all the time as students, but it’s so important! I don’t know many people who use WhatsApp in the U.S., but it’s actually the most popular messaging solution in the world. Nearly 1 billion people are using it and everyone was using it in Costa Rica. Don’t assume that what’s popular at home is popular somewhere else. Do your research! You may have to utilize social media platforms you’ve never used or sell a product that’s not well-known in the U.S.
These are just a few of the lessons I learned during my internship. Whether you choose to stay in Missouri or move to the other side of the world, having intercultural awareness can give you the capacity to develop meaningful relationships with new, diverse audiences.