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
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 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.
By Jessica Gough
The Span of Social Media
It is no secret that social media is taking over the internet. In fact, over 77 percent of the U.S. population uses a social media profile regularly. That is 2.34 billion sets of eyes just waiting to be captivated. As a company, those eyes are extremely valuable to your success. So how do you attract them to your content?
What is a SMM Plan?
A social media marketing (SMM) plan allows an organization to detail what they would like to accomplish within the realm of social media. Along with these broad goals, a SMM plan also outlines what actions the organization will take in order to achieve these goals. A variety of benefits come from a social media marketing plan, so it is important to ensure your organization is taking advantage of this opportunity.
The SMM Planning Cycle
It is important to understand that, like social media itself, SMM plans should continuously evolve. In order to maintain a successful plan, it is crucial that your SMM plan evolves with society. These nine steps will help guide you through creating your SMM plan.
What is your brand’s current social media presence?
- Setting Goals
Analyze your organization using SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. What realistic goals does your brand want to accomplish?
- Defining Strategies
Use the “8 C’s of Strategy Development”. What strategies will help your brand reach its goals?
- Identifying the target audience
What are the needs of your target audience?
- Selecting Tools
What tools will work best for your strategies?
(hashtags, SEO, link shortening, images)
- Selecting Platforms and Channels
What platforms will reach your target audience best?
Put your plan into action!
Track you progress, and COLLECT DATA.
This is a constant and continuous process.
Creating and monitoring a strong SMM plan will allow you to connect with various audiences in a familiar way. This connection can lead to numerous advantages for your organization.