Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Going Abroad is Important for Aspiring Public Relations Professionals

Today is my last day abroad of the summer, and I'm writing this post from Berlin, Germany! I've spent this summer interning abroad in Barcelona, Spain, and also had the chance to visit the south of France, the Netherlands, and Germany. This summer, along with the summer I spent 2 years ago in London, Paris, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, has shown me how important it is for aspiring PR professionals, like myself, to experience the world beyond the United States. This summer has gone by far too fast for me, but before I (gratefully) return home, I wanted to share why going abroad is so important.

1. Living, studying, or interning abroad will undoubtedly teach you things about a culture you could never understand just by looking at it. Learning about the rest of the world through class and study is well and good, but cultural immersion is the only real way to experience it.

2. Our world is becoming ever more connected, which means that at some point, you'll probably be dealing with a foreign company or public. When you do deal with this foreign entity, knowing the culture can be vital to accurately forging a connection with them. For example, spend a week in Spain and you'll realize that between 2-4 pm is never a good time to do business, because everyone is on siesta, either getting lunch or napping. But, if you'd never been to Spain, you wouldn't know this, and your business efforts could go to waste.

3. An often-overlooked component of inter-cultural relations is food; and who doesn't love food? Well, if your're from Spain, you probably before some sort of Iberian ham, or some seafood. If you're German, on the other hand, you're likely to go for some sort of curry sausage dish, or some delicious brattwurst. And if you're from France, then a crepe or some crackers and cheese might be your preference. When interacting with people from a different country, serving the wrong food or going to the wrong restaurant can ruin the relationship from the start.

If you ever get a chance, even a glimmer of a chance to go somewhere abroad, then take it! Even if you're just going on vacation, go somewhere different, and take the time to feel out the culture. My professor once said that as soon as you arrive in a new city or country, take a minute to think about what your smelling. What you smell when you arrive will be the unique smell to that place, and if you don't acknowledge it immediately, you'll stop noticing it after a little while. So, all I'm saying is to get out of your bubble, your comfort zone, and go somewhere new. First time I stayed in a cheap European hostel, I hated it, but give it a chance, and it'll grow on you, just like whatever foreign destination you choose will grow on you.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Mid-Summer Check-In: Starting Those Fall PReparations Now

While fully entrenched in the “dog days of summer,” it can be alarming to realize to that the fall semester is rapidly approaching. Temple University’s first day is Monday, August 26 and that puts us about a month away from returning to North Philadelphia for another school year. Though it can seem tempting to put off all back-to-school preparations to the last couple weeks in August, now is actually the best time to start! The following are tips on ways to begin doing so.

Class schedules: As seasoned college students, we all know how crazy the first few weeks of a new semester can be. Between adjusting to new classes and professors and getting back in the swing of things, it’s wise to take another look at your class schedule well before August 26. Questions to ask yourself may include:

Am I taking classes to fulfill the mandatory gen-ed requirements?
How am I on taking core classes for my major? Am I taking the right classes to satisfy a potential minor? Do I need to meet with my advisor?
Am I okay with the times of my classes? Have I scheduled breaks in the day?
Am I looking to receive credit for an internship and what are the deadlines for that?

Fall Internships/Jobs: While us Strategic Communications students have been lucky to receive emails throughout the summer from our Internship Director Amanda Bednar, now is the time to begin actually solidifying those fall plans. In regards to internships:

What are you interested in? What sector of public relations are you looking to gain experience in?
What office environment do I thrive in? Is there somebody I can ask for a recommendation?
When finding a job, many students main concern is finding the time to fit work into an already busy schedule. Questions to consider include:
What range of flexibility does this job offer? Will I be able to fit this into my schedule?
What is the commute like and what would the typical hours be?

Resume/LinkedIn: While updating one’s resume and LinkedIn can seem like a daunting feat, now is the best time to do so before the hectic school year begins again! Make sure to include:

What you did over the summer: Did you intern, work, volunteer, start a blog or learn a new skill? Make sure to update accordingly! As you grow and learn as a student, your resume should reflect that.
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn, make one! LinkedIn allows for one to expand upon their resume and provide more information in regards to interests, career goals, etc.

Set goals: I’ve always looked at the upcoming school year as a great time to set goals. The start of a new school year always holds new opportunities and setting/reaching goals is an incredibly satisfying feeling. Seek to differentiate between short term and long term ones and set a reasonable timeline! Some potential goals may include:

Taking on a new internship or two.
Seeking out new volunteer opportunities – both professional and personal.
Working towards a leadership position in a current organization or joining a new one.
Working towards a higher GPA.

Do you have any tips for getting prepared for the fall semester now? Let us know; we could all benefit from them! 

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Rachel Draghi.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Is A Pitch The New Pick-Up Line?

As public relations students we have all become familiar with a “pitch,” also known as OPEN MY E-MAIL AND GIVE MY CLIENT SOME PRESS! I’ve recently realized the pitch is present not only in the PR world, but in the dating world as well. 

Going into my senior year as a PR student, I have learned and practiced my “elevator pitch,” (name, major, internship(s), future goals, etc. all in 30 seconds), similar to a speed date. This type of pitch has been learned in the classroom and utilized in networking and business events. Unfortunately it seems as though people cannot get out of this “pitch” mindset, even in social settings.

So the question is, is a pitch the new pick- up line? According to Web definitions, a pick-up line is a conversation opener with the intent of engaging an unfamiliar person for romance or dating. This definition is ultimately the same as what a pitch is (minus the romance and dating part).

This post can be taken two ways:

1.     When brainstorming a pitch to the media, think of it as “engaging an unfamiliar person.” You have done enough research on this person to know what his/her niche is, so be confident and personalize your pitch, just as your personalize your pick- up lines. 

2.      Stop with the “elevator pitches” when out. Whether it is a happy hour, night out, or randomly bumping into someone of interest. Not every setting needs to be so professional you need to share your life goals within the first five minutes. Save the pitch for another time, and live in the moment.

What are your thoughts? Do you think a pitch and pick-up line can have the same meaning? Have you ever experienced it? We’d love to know!  

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Amanda White. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

XOXO PR Girl: Avoiding Gossip in the Office

(Source: Tumblr)

With a small office, open cubicles and chatty co-workers, inner-office gossip is bound to happen. It can be a fun distraction during a stressful work day to exchange stories churning in the rumor mill. But this bad habit could end you in hot water. When gossip comes up in conversation at the office, be mindful of these few points to avoid getting caught up in workplace gossip.

Be aware. Gossip is defined as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.” But gossip isn’t always that obvious. To help you determine if you’re participating in harmful rumor spreading, consider how you would feel if the person you were discussing heard your conversation.
Have a strategy. Create and commit to a strategy for steering the conversation away from rumors. Try to subtly change the direction of the discussion by asking your co-worker how their weekend was or what big project they’re working on.
Stay positive. Gossip is almost always negative which creates a toxic work environment. When comments come up, it’s important to stay positive. By countering the gossip with something productive, you diffuse the negativity and stay out of the drama.
Stay focused. It can be disruptive to your workday and even affect your performance. Try not to get sidetracked by gossip; it won’t serve your overall path to success. It may seem like a harmless rumor but by participating in hurtful gossip, you could be risking your job and even career.
Don’t perpetuate rumors. Spreading the gossip that you’ve heard is just as bad as starting it in the first place. Rumors can only end when those they are shared with refrain from repeating them.

At the end of the day, gossiping at work just appears unprofessional and immature. Staying out of inner-office chatter will benefit you by increasing your credibility and trustworthiness while helping you avoid harmful drama.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Senior Year Prep 101

As the weeks of Summer continue to pass, students everywhere are starting to prep for their return back to campus. Among those students are a very special group --the seniors. The one's who are prepping to make this return from Summer for the last time.

There are many challenges that incoming seniors face as they prepare to complete their last semesters in college. From crafting and sending out resume and cover letters, to wondering if "x amount of internships is really enough to get me a job," to the endless answering of the daunting question "so what are you going to do post-grad?" All while dealing with the realization that, in just a few months, the real world awaits.

As one of those incoming seniors, I'm here to attest: this season is a lot.

Rather than stress over the situation, the best way to walk into a new, albeit nerve racking, experience is by taking the time to do a little preparation beforehand. Here are some easy ways that you can prepare to enter your senior year with a little less stress.

Start reviewing job applications. You don't necessarily need to start applying this far in advance, but knowing how job postings and applications are worded and where to find them will be incredibly helpful a few months down the line. Look into different companies that you may not be as familiar with and see what kinds of openings they have, and where you may be interested in applying later.

Reach out to old supervisors and mentors. Now is the time to take advantage of the network you've been creating for yourself. Reach out to your old internship supervisors, managers or any mentors that you've met over the years. Ask them for advice, any strengths or weaknesses they observed in you, and suggestions that they have for your last few semesters.

Discover your interests. While most seniors tense up and roll their eyes each time they're asked 'so, what do you want to do?', it's a question worth exploring. And if you don't have a concrete answer right away, that is more than normal and totally acceptable. Rather than beat yourself up over this, take some time to explore your interests. Social media, media relations, internal communications, corporate communications --the PR world is vast and expansive and has a place for everyone.

Next time someone inquirers about your post grad plans, instead of answering with stutters and uncertainty, explain your interests. Saying "I have an interest in community management and corporate communication" or even, "I'm taking time to explore all of the opportunities my field has to offer," sounds much more confident than "I don't want to think about it."

Review your list of work. Chances are, you've done a lot in your previous semesters that employers would love to hear about. Did you coordinate an event for a student organization? Did you join the student run PR firm on campus? All of these things add up and they matter! Take some time to list all of your work, breaking down your individual work on each project --including the results! Once you've done this, rework your resume to make it come to life as a living portfolio.

Create a portfolio. Speaking of portfolios, if you don't already have one, now's the time to create it! A portfolio is a compilation of all of your work, put together in an organized and easy-to-follow format. Spend some time collecting writing samples and projects you've worked on in a binder or digital format that you can take with you on interviews.

Seniors, we could spend months and weeks preparing for our last lap, but in the midst of all of this, it is equally important that we celebrate the fact that we've made it this far, and that we are close to accomplishing a huge milestone in life. Remember that all work and no play isn't a recipe for success. Make the memories of your last year good ones, and know that you can handle whatever lies ahead.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Make the Most of Your Morning

Whether it's the summer and your responsibilities seem slimmer, or the fall when you have no choice but to be awake earlier than you would like - the morning is an important step towards a successful day. Before you get caught up in checking your email for 30 minutes, consider dabbling in any or all of these activities for a brighter a.m.

( Source: Flickr )
Work out - Going on a run or heading to the gym during the first half of your day is a guaranteed source of energy. If you value fitness, then chances are going to the gym is on your to-do list anyway, so why not think about going after you wake up? Running an aesthetically-pleasing route in the morning under the sun is also a source of inspiration!

Drink up - No, no, not that kind of drinking up. Make your favorite coffee, latte, juice, or smoothie to put a little pep in your step. Think of it as treating yourself, but also something you need! Depending on your beverage, you'll receive the proper nutrients or energy boost to start your day on the right foot.

Chit chat - Personally, my favorite part of the morning is sitting down with my roommates over coffee and chit-chatting before we get the day started. Especially during the academic year, everyone has somewhere to be and it's good to remind yourself that you're not the only one with what seems like a 4-page to-do list. Sit outside and call a friend, or wish a good morning to your neighbors.

The morning hours are often associated with a living nightmare, but with the proper sleep and scheduling, you can wake up and love the morning just as much as you love your night life. Hopefully these three short & sweet activities will leave you with a smile on your face when you walk out the front door!

Have any other tips or tricks for getting the morning started off right? Let us know; we could all use them!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Give a Little: How you can Start your Career in Non-Profit PR

As an aspiring PR professional, there are many fields that you can chose to gain experience in.

Do you enjoy helping others? Are you passionate about fighting for social justice?

If so, non-profit public relations may be the field for you.

Some people chose fashion/entertainment PR, others chose agency, but if you answered yes to either of the above questions, you may just find your passion in the non-profit realm.

Even though the name suggests otherwise, non-profit organizations do have the ability to pay their employees. The name “non-profit” merely means that the organization isn't primarily concerned with making a profit for themselves (meaning they give their profits to other organizations or groups of people).

If you are interested in breaking into the non-profit PR field, volunteering is key.

It’s great to have an internship, but if you are an underclassmen or you don’t have the time to fully commit to one, volunteering can be your saving grace.

Also, in many cases, non-profit organizations look to people that they know are great workers when a job opens, and often times, the hiring manager looks at the organization's pool of volunteers.

The other benefit associated with volunteering is that you will be able to narrow down your field of interest even further. As there are many different kinds of PR, there are many different kinds of non-profit organizations.

Are you interested in helping people, the environment, or animals? What about all three?

Luckily, there are many different non-profits in the world, so you may be able to find your perfect match! By volunteering at multiple organizations, you may be able to narrow down your search and find the type of non-profit PR that is right for you.

The other great thing about volunteering is that you can still build your professional portfolio. Even if you don’t have a for-credit internship, any of the work that you do for the organization is yours to use professionally. Any types of press outreach that you do while volunteering can add to your qualifications.

Have you volunteered at a non-profit organization? If so, please share your experience below in the comments!