Sunday, July 26, 2015

Education Vs. Experience: How Combining the Two Could Maximize Your Career

With increasing competition in the job market, graduate school has become standard for many people to get jobs in their field.  While a career in public relations has never required a graduate degree, recent studies are showing that a combination of graduate school and work experience could maximize one’s PR career.

Most PR professionals would say a graduate degree is unnecessary. However, as the need for PR specialists continues to grow, a graduate degree may become the new standard. Attending graduate school affords students the opportunity to gain credibility among their peers and colleagues. It may also offer networking opportunities that are not present during one’s undergraduate years.

Before you decide to take out another loan to pay off the hefty tuition, you should know that a graduate degree without experience may not make you more desirable to employers.  In fact, a survey of 32 PR professionals showed that a majority believe in getting a few years of experience before attending graduate school. This is because skills obtained in the field make classroom learning more practical. Also, when a student delays work experience in order to earn their degree, they may be deemed overqualified for starting positions but under-qualified for more executive positions.

A career in PR allows you to choose if graduate school is the right choice for you based on your goals and aspirations. As of now, a graduate degree is not required to earn most positions. However, a more in-depth and refined education never hurts.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Victoria Goins. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

How to Engage Millennials

Who runs the world? Millennials! Sorry Queen Bey, Millennials make up one-third of our population today, making the largest generation represented.

With that being said, it’s nearly impossible for brands and marketers not to think about marketing this group since they control most of the market share. Millennials are vastly different from any other generation. They aren’t as traditional as the baby boomers or Generation X. They care about social issues, immersed in technology, and have different goals. All these things create a need to understand and develop new strategies to capture this interesting group.
In order to engage millennials, three factors are important:
Incentives, Incentives, Incentives.
Millennials are more reluctant than other age groups to look into something new, especially brands; I like to call us the “cynical” generation. Recently, Urban Outfitters wrapped up a contest in which customers were supposed to take picture-in-hand photos and use hashtags on Instagram. The prize was something that this generation is currently reclaiming Polaroid cameras, similar to the return of vinyls. To get millennials engaged, brands have to cultivate incentives that are creative as well, something millennials will enjoy and see as important.
Create an Environment
While a brand’s main objective is to sell, many brands have had shift focus to improving their selling tactics. For millennials it’s all about an experience. Think of Starbucks: it’s a home away from home. They have mellow music, outlets for electronics, jargon that’s only a Starbuck’s regular can understand, like tall, grande, venti. Starbucks creates an ambiance that’s irresistible to millennials. It’s not about the quality—it’s about the experience that a customer walks away with.
Be Accessible and Digitize
Saying millennials are obsessed with technology is an understatement, so it is vital for brands to create a digital presence. In four seconds, a brand’s layout, mobile responsiveness, or content can drive a millennial away.  As for social media, a brand doesn’t have to post every day but often enough that their audience doesn’t acknowledge their absence. Engage and respond to your customers. It’s important to communicate that a brand cares about their audience.

With these three factors incorporated into your marketing strategy, millennials will be lining out the door, ready to snap and share their brand loyalty!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Taylor Carnard.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Is a Personal Website More Important Than Ever?

Has anyone ever suggested to you to create a personal website other than LinkedIn? The thought of creating a website focusing on only you can be nerve-wracking at first. Don’t people see enough of your personal and professional life through other social media platforms? My opinion on a personal website changed after taking a Personal Branding class last spring and some argue it is more important now than ever before.

First off, one must take time to reflect on their own personal brand. Everyone’s brand is different depending on their interests and passions. Once you have an idea of what direction you want to take your personal brand you can start thinking about forming a website.

There are so many directions you can take on a personal website. You can use it to showcase your professional work or you can make it very casual and use it as a way to let people know more about who you are. As a PR major, we might not have creative work to showcase online like an advertising major would, but there is still plenty of material to create a portfolio. Press releases or blog posts you’ve written can easily be shared.

The best part about starting up your own personal website is all the extremely helpful websites to get you started. Don’t know HTML codes? Not a big deal. Websites like Wix, Wordpress, Flavors, and many more all are beginner friendly. They all offer a great deal of creative options from fonts to layouts.

Creating a personal website is a great thing to do as an upperclassman starting to begin the job search. It will help you connect more and help separate you from the pack. A personal website isn’t something you can forget about because it is important to stay on top of updating the content. Although it is definitely not a necessity to all public relations majors, it will still be a bonus to your personal brand.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

How to keep your brand relevant

In today’s society, trends can come and go in the blink of an eye. Cellphones that sold out on their release dates 2 years ago are now distributed for free with a prepaid data plan, and music artists that dominated the top 40 radio stations last summer are now struggling to sell copies of their albums. With such a rapidly changing environment, relevancy is the most powerful tool a brand can possess in order to remain successful and continue to grow. Here are three techniques that companies have used and continued to use in order to stay in the public eye.


1) Jump onto new trends as soon as possible

Many companies focus their efforts on being as unique and different as possible in an effort to differentiate themselves from their competitors. However, it can be just as beneficial to keep an eye out for the newest trends and use their popularity to your advantage. Snapchat is a great example; the social media app has become increasingly popular, so artists and companies in turn have created Snapchat accounts as a newly emerging method of marketing. Celebrities might use their Snapchat story it to show their fans an interesting behind-the-scenes look at their daily lives, while magazines such as Cosmopolitan and People use the new Discover feature to reach out to a different audience.


2) Use popular news stories to your advantage

A smart, unique way that companies have been able to stay relevant is by referencing current pop culture events; as a company, this is a great way to relate to your audience and appear up-to-date. The team behind the Oreo cookie Twitter account, for example, made headlines during the 2013 Super Bowl for their quick, improvised marketing efforts. Many sports fans remember the sudden blackout that put Super Bowl XLIX on hold for a good 15 minutes. Oreo took advantage of the confusing moment to tweet out an advertisementwith the tagline “You Don’t Have to Dunk in the Dark” The spur-of-the-moment ad was retweeted over 10,000 times, leaving many wondering how Oreo managed to make it all happen.


3) Don’t be afraid to try new things

Many people have heard the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” This rule does not usually apply in the business world; in a world with constantly evolving technology, it is not always a good idea to stick with the same old methods. Instead, it is more important to continuously adapt in order to keep up with your competition. This is a mistake that has caused the downfall of many different companies. Blockbuster, for example, was knocked out of existence when more convenient alternatives such as Netflix started to appear, allowing customers to watch and order movies without ever having to leave their house.


By adapting to new technology and paying attention to what is popular within the market, a company will be able to prevent themselves from being forgotten in a world where new and modern companies are constantly emerging. Any brand that is able to stay relevant will be sure to have long term success within the market.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Dylan Rhudd. 

Benefits of a Small Firm Internship

When searching for an internship, every PR student will possess their own individual criteria for what they are looking for in a position. One student may be looking to gain some experience in the nonprofit sector while another might be looking to score a spot with a major agency. Regardless of where you intern, the goal is to learn, develop and to get closer to becoming an established public relations professional. 

In April I started at Jenna Communications, a small firm in Center City Philadelphia. I did not know what to expect and was skeptical about how much experience and knowledge I would gain at such a small firm. However, within the first month I had learned as much as I had in any course. Working with a small group of employees, I was thrown into the fire right away. During my first weeks I was creating social media campaigns, drafting press releases, connecting with press contacts and working directly with clients. By the end of my first month I not only had gained a significant amount of writing samples but I had also gained a significant amount of confidence. This confidence may have not been found if I had jumped into a large PR agency for my first internship. 

This is not to say that an internship at a large PR agency or for a major corporation is not a valuable experience. Interning for a top company allows students to learn directly from some of the very best in the industry. My advice for students to strongly consider what they want out of an internship. Although many may be tempted to overlook a smaller firm or company, they may be offering exactly what you are looking for. 

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Jason Conaway. 

PRSSA National Conference summer prep: Steps you should be taking now


Even though PRSSA National Conference doesn’t take place until early November, it isn’t too early to begin getting ready for the professional experience of the year!

Summer is a great time to stock up on much needed supplies as well as revamp your professional materials, so don’t spend all of your free time in the next two months soaking up the sun:

1: Stock up on Professional Wardrobe Essentials: During the last few weeks of the summer, stores begin to display their fall collections, which means that summer clothes go on sale. This is a perfect opportunity for students to buy nice shirts or professional dresses that are marked down significantly after being on the racks throughout the summer. These pieces can be layered with blazers, sweaters, or cardigans, which will take away their summer feel and have you more prepared for the November weather in Atlanta, Georgia!

2. Update your Resume: After many days of tanning in the sun or swimming in a pool, you may feel the itch to be productive again. If this is the case, there is no better task to pour your new-found productivity into than updating your resume! You will want to have a proofread, clean copy of your latest achievements for National Conference, and it won’t take you too long to update your current one!

3. Create an Online Portfolio: With so many free website builders out there, it is easy to create your own personal portfolio site without having to pay anything. Also, you shouldn’t get nervous if you have no experience with website development. Many of the businesses that give you the option of creating your own site will give you free templates to choose from, and oftentimes, there are helpful guides and tutorials to get you through the set up and maintenance of your creation. Also, think of how great it will look to have your own custom website listed on your business card when networking with the professionals at National Conference!

Are you getting excited for PRSSA National Conference? Tell us your tips and tricks for preparing for your trip to Atlanta!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What are we really using LinkedIn for?

Since the beginning of this summer, I have noticed an increasing popularity around the social media platform LinkedIn. While I made an account on LinkedIn during my freshman year of college, I was never too active on the account until this past year when I began to network with people that I felt the need to connect with. Maybe it is because my peers and I are now beginning to advance in our careers, but it seems that I am not the only one who had the same idea.

When I first made my account, I was prompted to sortthrough the “suggested connections,” so I connected withany close friends who also had an account at that time. As I have met more people in college, I have continued to go on and connect with those I felt necessary. However, lately I have been receiving requests from all different people, some of whom I have not seen since high school. The times where I have watched my phone light up with the notification asking if I would like to connect with someone from high school that I barely knew then–or even have a remotely similar career path to now–lead me to think about what the purpose of this platform really is.

Typically when you think about logging into LinkedIn, youwould probably end up updating a section of your profile or connecting with someone that you recently met in a professional setting. One of the best aspects of this app is its ability to allow you to stay in contact with past professors and employers. Some people have even heard of that one friend of a friend’s sister who received a full time job with benefits right in her LinkedIn inbox. With the importance of networking rising, LinkedIn has become crucial for staying in contact with those who could be beneficial to your career.

Or has it really just become a way to brag about your accomplishments to others?

If the future chemical engineers, firefighters, and financial advisors that I went to high school with want to connect with me, a communications student pursuing marketing and PR, what could have prompted their decision to connect with me? There is a slim chance our industries will ever cross paths, so did they just want me to look at their profile so I can see how well they are doing in college? Or has LinkedIn become a spinoff of Facebook where you need to have a certain amount of connections to be taken seriously?

Whatever their reasons may be, the most important thing to remember when using LinkedIn is that even though it has become the easiest way to present yourself as a professional, it is crucial that you are still able to network and act professional offline and in a public setting as well. 

Do you think the people you connect with on LinkedIn should be relevant to the industry you are planning to have a career in? Or should you have as many connections as possible, even if they are from completely different industries? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Kristen VanLeer.