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:
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
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.
By: Hannah Staul
As I prepare for graduation, all I can think about is what the next step is. How do I know when I am even ready to apply for full-time jobs, when school is still in the forefront of my mind? I did the research for you, so follow along for a step-by-step guide, from the perspective of a busy college student. If I can do it, you can too!
Step 1: Accept Failure
You may have already accepted failure in some way, either failing a class or not getting into your dream college. Failure is something everyone faces, but knowing how to overcome it and learn from your failures will lead you to success. While applying for jobs or graduate programs know that not everyone will want you. You will be rejected. It sounds harsh but it is the truth, knowing how to manage it ahead of time will help you in the long run. The fear of rejection affects many people. Jia Jiang, author of Rejection Proof, provides a great example about his story of how he was able to accept “no” with confidence and turn them into a “yes”.
I have had to overcome failure many times, it is recurring. There is something new you can fail at everyday, so take each day with a grain of salt knowing that failure will happen. Below are some tips to prepare yourself for failure:
● Do not call it failure:
a. Thinking about the word “failure” it does not bring a good feeling. It brings back memories of past failures, a time where I was not able to accept it. Try using these words instead!
● Be Realistic
a. When applying for jobs do not go for the 100k salary position that requires 10 plus years of experience. Obviously, as a college graduate you would not have the skills or experience to accomplish that position. But don’t undershoot your skills, if you see an opportunity that you could potentially achieve, then go for it!
● Everyone Fails!
a. Michael Jordan’s story of success is one of the most influential examples of how he accepted his failure. Pretty much starting from the bottom as the draft three pick in 1984 he built himself up from there. Today he is a highly successful basketball player because he was able to accept failure. Be like Michael Jordan and accept that we all fail and find success after.
Step 2: Classes come first
You read that right, classes come first. College is full of fun, but try to keep in mind that you came here to learn. I am guilty of letting other activities come before classes, and let me tell you, there is no success from that. Yes, applying for jobs is important, but make sure you are doing well in classes and staying on top of your work. Below are some tricks I have implemented:
● Google Calendar: Keeps you organized with meetings and classes
● Reminders! My best friend, I use this app on my iPhone to remind me when work is due that day.
● Set goals: Accomplish the work you need to get done that day and then do the “other things.”
● Ask for help: Let your professors know when you are struggling.
These tips may seem redundant, or you might be a professional at getting your work done on time. Keep in mind that it can happen to the best students, especially when something new is added to your plate.
Step 3: Build your portfolio
Finally, some real steps for post graduation! Let’s review the type of portfolio needed for the public relations and related industries field. You will need to build an online portfolio, and some great websites to build from are Wix or GoDaddy. Digital portfolios can increase your chances of being seen by employers and represent your brand.
Your brand is the person you want to be seen by the professional world. Frame your portfolio around that person, the man or woman who is extremely professional and will benefit the company you are applying for. This is a professional website, so do not include going out photos or crazy stuff you did in college.
What should be included in your portfolio? Here are some of my recommendations: ● Resume
○ Downloadable version and a walkthrough of it
● Unique website design
○ Should include your brand personality: colors, fonts, professional logo ● Skill
○ Include soft and hard skills
● Works done by you
○ Press releases, designs, blog posts, etc.
● Short bio
● Professional photos
Think of your portfolio as an extension of yourself, and include the information you want people to see and know about you. Portfolios are great to share with potential employers, a place to keep your work organized and highlight what you have accomplished.
Put it all together!
As February comes to a close, start to think about what needs to be done before graduation. Do you need a resume or cover letter? Have you applied for jobs or graduate school? Make the list that is important for you and will lead you to success. The steps above are meant to help guide you through the next couple months and feel prepared to graduate from college.
By: Ashleigh Horn
Research is the key to all successful public relations strategy. It is the defining factor in how we choose to tell our client’s story and helps us identify how our target audiences will react—long before they are ever exposed to any messaging.
But why is research crucial? How can it single-handedly define the effectiveness of our PR efforts? Isn’t research a little bit…old school?
No! Before I continue any further, I would like to emphasize that research is not old school. Call me a nerd for thinking it’s cool, but you actually need it to be successful in this industry. Here is why:
Beyond identifying an objective, research is the first step in defining what steps should be taken to solve a problem. A need may be increasing brand awareness, avoiding a crisis, or launching a campaign. The list is endless. However, used strategically, research can be conducted to meet needs, elevate your client’s brand and create lasting mutually beneficial relationships.
On the other hand, failure to conduct research may lead to indecision, inaction or financial loss. It may also make identifying key publics and their needs difficult. In many cases, actions taken without sufficient knowledge about who or what they will impact can even lead to tarnishing your brand’s overall image.
One brand whose reputation was tarnished because of its failure to conduct any research was Digorno. In 2014, the frozen pizza brand received major backlash for inappropriately using a trending Twitter hashtag to advertise its product. The company’s Tweet, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza” was ill-received by Twitter users who were disgusted that the company would poke fun at domestic violence to encourage pizza sales.
The company could have avoided the situation altogether by researching the nature of the hashtag before Tweeting. While research may frontload your efforts, it helps prevent mistakes later on. Doing so allows you to preserve your brand and may even save you money.
I will be the first to admit that research is not always sexy. In fact, anyone who has taken University of Central Missouri’s PR 3605: Survey of PR Research & Theory with Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn knows that research can be tedious and seemingly mundane at times. However, it can also be exciting and provide key insights that will make decision making easier down the road.
Research allows us to strategically gauge information about our key publics. It helps us identify possible reactions and outcomes of our efforts and avoid unnecessary costs. It also equips us with the tools to measure the impact of our efforts from the get-go. At the end of the day, it takes out the guesswork and lays a solid foundation from which you can build—without fear of total failure.
You may be thinking, “Gee, that sounds great. However, I have no experience conducting research. I would never know where to begin.”
But you do!
May I ask if you have ever had a friend tell you that they have begun to develop feelings for someone? If you are like me, this small piece of information often triggers Sherlock-Holmes mode. Within the next hour you have scoured up a list of their hobbies, identified their grandmother’s name, and searched through all of the accounts they follow on Instagram.
Does this activity sound familiar? Don’t lie, I know you have done it too.
Curiosity is in our nature and whether we recognize it or not, we conduct research every day. We care about our friend and use research to ensure that the one who has them so smitten is actually right for them.
But where should you start?
Certainly there are methods to help guide how we research. However, there is no set protocol for how it should be conducted, especially in PR as we deal with all things human. I advise formulating one single question and allowing your curiosity to fuel any questions and quests for answers that follow.
You may think research is boring. It’s not! It is a vital element in the daily life of a PR pro. Ask questions, find the answers, then ask more questions that lead you to solid strategy and valuable decision-making.
By: Sebastian Szczurowski
While it seems like social media has been around for a very long time, it has actually only been popular for barely a decade now. With the steady rise of social media over the past few years many companies have been able to strengthen their position in the marketplace by using it to effectively promote their brands and products.
One of the main things that social media allows companies to do is gain faster and more widespread coverage to thousands or even millions of individuals in under the span of a few minutes. This is something that was unimaginable 15 or 20 years ago. The rise of the internet has allowed this rapid increase in media and news coverage outlets across the globe, and has enabled social media to become a powerful tool when it comes to increasing a brand’s visibility within its target market. When a company is able to establish a strong online presence it will become more visible to the public by implementing a communication strategy that helps to promote the company and gain more followers on social media in the long run.
Another well-known advantage that social media has had on the public relations industry is increased communication. Social media allows everyday people to post their thoughts about all sorts of topics with just a click of a button on their phone, laptop, or tablet. These communication channels can also be used to develop relationships with your brand’s consumers and help PR professionals create relevant content that will resonate with their target audiences.
Nowadays, most people have some form of social media account or maybe even have multiple accounts. Today’s social media platforms are designed to provide easy integration for all of their users which allows people of all ages and backgrounds to have access to some form of social media. This has made it much easier for PR professionals to increase awareness of their client’s business and the products and services that are offered.
Social media has allowed many companies worldwide to promote their brands and develop a sense of relevancy with their consumers. Social media allows PR practitioners to track results in real-time and learn more about the people who are interacting with their clients online and how often those interactions are occurring.
While social media is still in its early stages, its value in promoting client branding and as a means for conducting research, are rapidly demonstrating its importance as a strategic public relations tool that is only gaining momentum.
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: 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 Ashleigh Horn
There’s no denying that each generation is different. Baby Boomers, Generation X, Xennials, Millennials, Generation Z, I’m sure as you read each of these titles, you may have recalled your own thoughts toward each group. During a time where as many as five different generations are working together in the workplace, it’s important to understand how they all function and what each brings to the table.
Though I could certainly cover all five of these and the impacts they have in the workplace, I want to instead provide first-hand insight into a generation that is seemingly misunderstood by its predecessors. This is a generation with a desire to create change; a generation that I have nearly 21 years of experience being part of.
Who are we?
Although the lines defining the age range of my generation are a bit blurry, the Pew Research Center identifies this group as having been born after 1996 (Parker & Igielnik, 2020). Today, some Gen Z-ers walk the halls of middle schools, whereas others are hunched over books in their dorm rooms, working full-time agency jobs or even preparing to vote in the upcoming presidential election. There’s no doubt we’re all at different stages in our lives; however, somehow, some way, there are a few common desires and passions we all seem to share.
How is this generation different?
Generation Z is the largest generation to date. We also have access to more technology, media and quite honestly, each other, than any generation before us. It may be our sheer size, or it quite simply may be the comfort we feel in sharing our thoughts and ideas through Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, that compels us to reach for our dreams and to stand up for what we believe in. Politics, social injustice, sustainability, ideas for new products or businesses, we Gen Z-ers are a researched, opinionated, innovative, change-making group.
The Target Incubator
A few years back, the Target retail chain set out to better connect with this next generation of consumers. One way they did so, was through directly engaging with young Gen Z entrepreneurs in what they called the “Target Incubator.” Inspired by these young adults’ big ideas about “better for people” and “better for the planet” products, the company selected eight business pitches, created by students, to help become a reality.
You may be asking, “Why would the company do this, and what was their reward?”
Generation Z is often referred to as the “Changemaker” generation. Target recognized that many of its Gen Z consumers have big plans to change the world and sought to help make their dreams become reality. The students’ ideas ranged from producing compostable single-use products to using juice pulp waste to create healthy snacks. These eight businesses were not only unique—they did not simply provide innovative products or services—rather, they were all created as solutions to a number of the social and environmental issues we face in the 21st century.
I think James Sancto, founder of We Make Change, hit the nail on the head when he described Generation Z’s passion as “not willing to accept the world as it is, [who] believes [it] can address the challenges the world faces today, and [who] will do whatever [it] can to make the change [it wants] to see” (Sancto, 2019). The product of the Target Incubator is a testament to Gen Z’s eagerness and willingness to ensure the changes we wish to happen are made.
Gen Z’s not so breakthrough solution to creating change is to have a purpose. Whether you’re a business, college institution, or just someone we pass on the street, Gen Z-ers want to know what you’re all about.
What are your goals?
Who or what do you stand for?
Does your vision align with what we believe?
Generation Z prioritizes purpose and “[looks] to engage with brands and organizations that have a higher purpose that goes well beyond a simple transaction” (Beal, 2019). Unlike generations before us, we don’t simply purchase a product or rep a brand because we like it or it’s “convenient.” Rather, we use the power of reviews and our access to technology to compare prices, product availability, to research a company’s CSR practices and what it values, in order to make educated purchases (Salesfloor, n.d.).
Google, Netflix, Spotify and the Walt Disney Company are all examples of some of the most loved brands by Gen Z consumers. It’s no coincidence that all of these same companies placed in the Digital Marketing Institutes (2020) list of the “Top 16 Brands doing Corporate Social Responsibility Correctly.” Generation Z values these brands because they do more than provide their specific products and services; these companies use their platforms to create change on issues important to their employees and to each company as a whole.
As I mentioned earlier, Gen Z-ers look for ways to impact our own corners of the world. In fact, we often make decisions with long-term consequences in mind. We’ve been called lazy, self-involved, tech-dependent, and more (The NPD Group, 2020). Yes, some of these monikers may be partly true. But, we are also a passionate generation focused on standing up for only those issues or movements that align with our interests. Our passions drive our actions. We just might change the world.
As each new year has passed onto the next, Generation Z, or the “Changemaker” generation, has become older and older. With this age has come new responsibilities, both in our own lives and in contributing to the world around us. We are growing up, entering the workforce and making an impact in our own generationally-unique way. Slowly but surely, we are revealing who we are, what we value, what our goals are, and are debunking the generational stereotypes that have defined us since we were babies. In turn, we are using these differences to provide new perspectives in both the workplace and in society, and are doing all in our power to create change.
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: 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.