Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Guide to Deciphering Business Attire

Most of the topics for my blog posts are inspired by real life occurrences from public relations courses to internships to personal experiences and this week’s post is no different. Earlier this week I was catching up with a fellow PRowler and the topic of PRSSA’s upcoming national conference came up. I was excited to share the news that the conference’s opening social was a black tie event. But what exactly does that mean- floor length gowns, cocktail dresses, actual suits and literal black ties? It got me thinking, we throw around terms like “business professional,” “business casual,” or even “black tie” but it’s not always easy to know what is appropriate for each. To help others (and myself!), I put together this easy guide to dressing for each situation.
  • Business casual. For business casual, the general rule of thumb is to avoid anything as casual as flip-flops, jeans and t-shirts. It allows you to dress less formally than traditional work wear but shouldn't affect your credibility in the workplace.
  • Business professional/business formal. Dress to impress. This is a step up from your typical work attire that calls for a more conservative look with either a suit, pencil skirt, or blazer.
  • Casual Friday. This is tricky, you can dress casually but not too casual. It’s generally acceptable to dress up a pair of jeans but definitely leave the tee at home.
  • Black tie. Chances are there will be very few events you will attend which require black tie attire. But if you DO happen to be invited to a gala or formal event (like PRSSA National Conference social) the dress code is traditional tuxedos for men and cocktail or long dresses for women. Think senior prom attire.

(Source: InStyle)

But remember, how you dress often depends on the culture of the office and many provide dress code policies to ensure employees are properly dressed. If you’re ever in doubt regarding what is and is not appropriate, simply look to see what the consensus is with your coworkers. If the rest of your office is in Prada, chances are that "lumpy blue sweater" not be appropriate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crisis Communication: Community Health Systems

Computer hacks are not entirely far-fetched these days. It seems that more and more companies are finding themselves in the hands of a hack before they even realize it. The most recent major hack was within Community Health Systems, one of the United States' leading operators for 206 hospitals across the nation. Hacks are something that PR professionals need to acknowledge, as you could one day find yourself in the position of handling a similar corporate crisis.

Hackers stole data from at least 4.5 million patients. 4.5 million. Just to name a few pieces of information, this means that hackers have access to names, social security numbers, addresses, birthdays, and telephone numbers. Information regarding credit cards has not been stolen, yet this personal information alone leaves space for identity fraud.
(Source: ABCNews)
The idea of an identity theft of this majority leaves many people nervous and cautious.

How do you handle this as the PR coordinator? CHS handled it by immediately hiring experts in the cyber-security field to track down where and when the hack took place. The FBI has also been in close contact with the hospital network to bring down the perpetrators as quickly as possible.

The sticky part of CHS' situation is that patients have grounds to CHS for negligence. This takes the situation into legal matters over those regarding publicity.

Community Health Systems' effort to settle the heavy hearts of its patients includes filing with the Securites and Exchange Commission, stating that it "carries cyber/privacy liability insurance to protect it against certain losses related to matters of this nature." CHS reassures patients that hackers' malware has been removed from their systems completely and that extra precaution has been set forth to avoid this type of hack to ever happen again.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Finding Your Perfect Fall Internship: Don’t Settle!

The summer air is beginning to cool off, and all of the PR newsletters you subscribe to are popping up in your inbox containing key words and phrases like “internships” and “fall opportunities”.

If you are like many aspiring PR professionals, you hope to have at least one internship under your belt before you graduate college and enter the job market.

However, picking an internship isn’t always as easy as filling out an application and getting an interview.
Even if you are able to navigate the interview and application process without a problem, what if after you have spent a week in the office, you realize that you won’t have a positive experience at the company?

This may sound obscure, however, it is very common in the realm of internships.

What if your internship coordinator is too demanding, or what if he or she is too laid back? What if your main task of the day involves being the runner for coffee?

Although it can happen, there are plenty of ways to avoid getting into an internship that won’t help you grow:

1.Gather Info: Do you like the sound of that agency in Center City? If so, reach out to a worker and see if you can schedule an informational interview. Unlike actual job interviews, informational interviews allow a potential intern or employee to ask various questions about the company of their interest to a staff member without having to apply first. Not only will this give you the opportunity to ask important questions, but it will also get you a connection within the company for when you apply!

2.Blast from the Past: Doing a quick LinkedIn search of the company you may want to intern with may help you find students who previously interned with the company. Take a look at their profiles to see what kind of duties performed while interning, and perhaps if you share connections, reach out to them to see what their experience was like.

3.Close Reading: It seems simple, but reading the job description posted online for an internship very closely can help you determine if you want to reconsider applying. If the job description doesn’t interest you or your qualifications aren't what they are looking for, you may need to wait until they do match or find another company you are interested in.

How did you find your perfect internship? Let us know in the comments below!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ready, Set, Conference!

It is time to register for PRSSA National Conference 2014! Last year, I had the honor of attending National Conference in Philadelphia. I attended with several of Temple’s PRSSA and PRowl members, and it was one of the best weeks of my life. Each day was filled with a variety of sessions, networking events and career opportunities. It was such a rewarding experience, and I learned more 5 days about public relations than I did my whole freshman year.
There are a countless number of benefits of attending this conference. Here are just four reasons why you should register for conference!

1.     Find your way in public relations
As a student, finding a particular type of public relations to work in is extremely difficult. There is nonprofit or corporate or agency or sports or publicity… the list goes on and on. Luckily, there were sessions for all of these at conference. Some of the sessions I attended included “Step up to the Plate: Sports PR,” “Fashion PR: More than Selling Items in a Store” and “Juggling Life at an Agency.” Each had a handful of professional that told stories of their experiences, weighed the pros and cons of each industry and of course answered questions. I enjoyed the session and wish I could’ve attended all of them, but it solidified my interest in working at an agency.

2.     Learn a little each day
The whole experience is such a great learning experience. I got tips on how to best pitch stories to the media, how to stand out in an interview and write a strong cover letter to prospective employers. The best thing I did to absorb as much information as possible was always have my notebook on me. I took notes at each Keynote and session. I now can go back and utilize the advice from all of these professionals and put it to use at my future internships and jobs.

3.     Network, network, network
Being at conference was such a unique experience. I participated in a Twitter chat hosted by PRSSA National a couple of weeks before the conference. The chat included tips of what to bring and expect for first time conference goers. The whole night I was favoriting and following fellow eager public relations students. Later, I went back and direct messaged them and talked about with they do for their PRSSA chapter and where they’ve interned for. Then at conference, it was easy to meet up with them and talk in person. I also made sure to sit next to other students at the sessions rather than Temple friends to branch out and introduce myself. Lastly, there was a career fair where I talked to different firms and companies about their internship opportunities.

4.     Travel
Being in Philadelphia last year wasn’t too exciting since I grew up right around the city, but students from other schools loved going to the landmarks like the Love Statue, Liberty Bell, the Art Museum steps and more. Washington D.C. will be just as great with all of the historic memorial and monuments. I have been on family vacations to D.C. a couple of times and love going to the free Smithsonian museums and memorials. Conference is like a mini field trip away from school. Take the time after sessions and lunch breaks to go explore the capital!

Conference is a unique and highly rewarding experience. It is the prime place for anyone interested in public relations even if you’re majoring in marketing or journalism. It’ll show you new opportunities to grow and learn.

Register for the 2014 PRSSA National Conference here. I hope to see you in D.C in October! 

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Shaun Luberski.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

How Did I Become a "S" Word Already?

As most can agree, college comes and goes in a blink of an eye.  I never thought I would see the day when I became a dreaded “S” word, a senior. It is almost unbelievable that I am heading into my final year as an undergrad this fall.  During my time here at Temple, I definitely gained skills and knowledge that have helped me advance as a student and prospective graduate.  However, there are a few things I wish I started sooner and opportunities I wish I took advantage of earlier.  So for those incoming freshman, whom I am greatly jealous of, here is a letter to you on your first day.

Dear Incoming Freshman,

Before you know it, you are going to be a senior.  Yes you will be called the dreaded “S” word.  Now, do not worry, although these years fly by, they will also be the best years of your life.  Here are some tips to help with your first year.

1.     It is okay to not know what you should major in right away.  So if you are not sure join any club, group, organization that sparks your interest.  If it relates to what you end up majoring, great.  If it has nothing to do with it, that’s cool too.  As long as you put yourself in positions to meet new people and learn new things, you will be benefiting.

2.     Go to office hours!  My best papers/grades have been from meeting with my professors and asking for help when I did not understand.

3.     Relating to tip number two, professors are great mentors.  One thing I am very appreciative is the relationship I have with one of my professors.  She has helped me with cover letters, internship questions and other class work.  The people teaching you have the skills and experience that can be of great value to you even outside of classroom topics

4.     Avoid buying books from the bookstore.  90% of the time you can find them cheaper online and save a lot of money.

5.     Manage your time so you can get the grades and still go out.  College is all about time management.  There is such thing as having enough time in the day for school, good grades, and fun.

6.     Enjoy every second.  These next four years are going to fly right by.

So, I hope you go into your first day of college beyond excited and ready to take on the challenge.  Although the dreaded senior year will creep up on you sooner than you think, appreciate the opportunity you have been given and make these years the best years of your life. Good Luck!

Any other "S" words have advice for incoming freshman? Leave your tips in the comments! 

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Brittany Barish. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

This Week In PR | No. 9 #Ferguson

Though there are always many public relations fiascoes to share, this is another week where it seems more appropriate to focus on one major issue that, believe it or not, impacts us all.

On Saturday, August 9th, Mike Brown, an 18-year-old Ferguson resident, was shot down by a police officer. Though some details of the altercation between the two are still fuzzy, it is clear from witnesses on both sides that there was a physical scuffle before Brown was shot 10 ten times, though his arms were raised above his head prior to being killed. Unfortunately, the cops and eyewitnesses tell two completely different stories as to what led to this tragedy.

Since the shooting of the unarmed, college-bound student, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, and the nation, have been in an uproar, both on the streets and on social media.

In Ferguson, many peaceful protesters joined together in a vigil to remember Brown earlier this week. However, police were sent to disperse the crowds and soon, the peaceful protests quickly morphed into looting and rioting. Ferguson police responded by throwing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets at civilians, most of which were the peaceful protesters.

In response to the media's interpretation of Ferguson events, many young, African American students took to social media using #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, a hashtag used to start a conversation about how black people are often portrayed in the media. The hashtags #MikeBrown and #Ferguson have also seen traction on social media as a means to share up-to-date information with the public about the developments in Ferguson since some major news outlets are misreporting stories.

Unfortunately, the events in Ferguson show no sign of slowing down and people are starting to take action. This past Wednesday students at Howard University, a notable Historically Black College or University (HBCU), shot a powerful photo featuring hundreds of young, black men and women with their hands raised in surrender. The following day, even more supporters came out for National Moment of Silence vigils held in major cities across the country. In our own city of Philadelphia, hundreds of people stood in solidarity at Love Park to show their support. Though issues in Ferguson still rage on, hopefully their citizens feel comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

UPDATE | After widespread public outcry, this morning the name was finally released  of the police officer who shot Brown: Darren Wilson. Wilson is a 6-year veteran with no previous incidents on his record.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

HR Insider: Interviewing Tips and Tricks

We’re all familiar with that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach right before an interview. Nervously waiting in an unfamiliar office while clutching your portfolio and trying to remember absolutely everything you can about the company you’re about to interview with. Well now you can relax thanks to some insider help! I sat down with Mara Sardella, Human Resources Coordinator at Brownstein Group, Philadelphia’s oldest independent brand communication firm to find out her best advice for nailing that interview.

How can a student make the best first impression in an interview?
When they come prepared with questions to ask the interviewer as well.

When interviewing a candidate, what generally impresses you the most?
When you can tell they have done their research on the company they are interviewing with. Also, knowing our clients and work and telling me how they can contribute their skills to what we offer.

How important is it to follow up after an interview with something personal, like an email or thank you note?
An email or hand written thank you note is very important. The HR Director and I always share thank you notes we get from candidates, it lets us know they enjoyed their time with us.

What is the oddest thing someone has done to set themselves apart from other job applicants? And do those over the top gestures really work?
We have had someone make us a tank top with the BG logo stitched onto it, someone sent their resume over in a bottle that looked exactly like our Liberty Kvell April Fool’s Joke, someone made a parody video to the song of Backstreet Boys, “I want it that way”, and it was called “I want a job today” (they actually got offered a job with us). All the creative gesture submissions get noticed and will always get a response and most of the time a meeting, but in the end it matters what is on the resume and if that applicant is qualified for the job.

Do you have a great tip for interviewing? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!