Coping With PR

Public relations life lessons from a student who is still in the trenches.

Don’t lose your cool…or your portfolio April 6, 2007

Filed under: helpful tips,internship,interviewing,Kent State Public Relations — copingwithpr @ 3:41 pm

PR Life Lesson # 345

         Alright so I promised in my last post to update you on the internship situation after I got back from spring break.

          Let’s take stock shall we? Internship interviews: 2; paid positions: 0; number of attempts it took me to actually get back on to I-60N after one of my interviews: 3; internship offers: 2; positions excepted:1

          The entire interviewing process was a great learning experience, but it was stressful. I interviewed for Congressman Jason Altmire’s district internship in Aliquippa, Pa., and I interviewed for a position with Salem Community Hospital in Salem, Ohio.

           The two lessons I learned were keep your cool and don’t lose your portfolio. I unfortunately wasn’t calm and cool during this process. I frantically prepared for the interviews. I read local newspapers, press releases and background information. I left two hours early for my appointments…just in case. (I’m still not sure what emergency could occur that I would have needed two extra hours for. Even if I got attacked by ninjas on the way and had to buy a new suit, I still would have been on time.) For the record two hours is too early. I think an hour would be more than enough time.

        I got in the interviews and all my research flew out the window. They asked questions I wasn’t expecting. No matter how much you prepare, you’ll never be able to guess all the question you will be asked. So prepare as much as you can, but stay calm. Answer questions openly and honestly. That way when you’re at the internship it can be a positive experience (instead of you frantically trying to learn all the things you promised you could do in your interview).

The other lesson was don’t lose your portfolio. I spent hours creating a professional hard-cover portfolio. Something that I could proudly display during interviews. I get into my first interview and they immediately asked if they could keep it. (It cost about $25 and I had another interview in three days.) Now in my head I said no but somehow my lips said, “Of course.” So I lost my portfolio. The lesson is be prepared to  say no or lose it. I lost it and made a new one. A great way to avoid this scenario is create both a permanent portfolio and a leave behind. That way you can say, “You can look at my full portfolio and this is yours to keep.”

I am pleased to say I excepted a summer internship with Salem Hospital.


BYOB! March 23, 2007

Filed under: helpful tips,internship,Kent State Public Relations — copingwithpr @ 1:06 pm

PR Life Lesson # 5 (Even though it is so close to spring break, “BYOB” does not refer to “bring your own beer” in this case “BYOB” means “bring your own BRAIN!”

         I know this sounds like a harsh lesson but lately I’ve listened to some of my classmates with shocked disbelief. I am amazed at how people are handling the internship requirement for our major. So I think the lesson is worth sharing.

        Throughout the year I have heard people talk about internships and I have found most students lack the healthy fear that I have. (I know I am neurotic but it isn’t a factor here.) Some students don’t seem to mind that their lack of internship is going to push their graduation back a semester. Maybe my college experience hasn’t included enough of the first type of “BYOB” but I am ready to graduate– on time.

        So for any one else that feels the same way, I have some “use your brain” tips in order to get an internship. (Now I should add that I haven’t technically obtained an internship yet. That will hopefully change over break. But these tips just make sense to me, and I suggest you use them if they make sense to you.)

Internship Tips:

  • Start researching early. (If you want a summer internship pick at least 5 realistic places by January.)
  • Take time to create and edit a solid resume and coverletter. (I would complete this by February. This was hard for me; I suggest to set aside more time then you anticipate.
  • Apply to multiple places. (Everyone is applying for the dream job and only one person will get it. I hope you get it, but play it safe and assume you won’t.)
  • If it’s your first internship consider unpaid positions. (I know we all want money, but often the experience is more valuable . Plus unpaid positions are often less competitive, which increases your chances as well.)
  • After you apply call to check on your application. (A mild amount of stalking is necessary. Companies want “go-getters”. If you can’t be an advocate for yourself, how could possibly champion their causes?)

         Do what you want with these tips. They just make sense to me. I’ll let you know how successful they are after my interviews over spring break.


Have good manners! March 16, 2007

Filed under: helpful tips,Kent State Public Relations,manners — copingwithpr @ 1:02 pm

PR Life Lesson # 94  (I know, I’m sorry there’s no quippy title this week… But this is a good lesson so read the entry anyways)

        I was in Media Relations yesterday and Professor Jeanette Drake brought up a simple but important point. She said that in order to be successful public relations professionals, we must have good manners.

        Now I realize being polite/professional at work is common sense. But people still chose to ignore proper etiquette all the time. Alright here’s the “so what?” This is important because besides being annoying, poor manners can be detrimental to a public relations career. This industry is about interacting with people and building relationships. It is obviously more difficult to build a positive relationship with someone you find rude or inconsiderate. I know in college manners isn’t exactly a pressing issue, but in the “real world” clients and other professionals will evaluate you based on them.

Simple Tips:

1. Use those golden phrases your mother taught you! Always say “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me” and “you’re welcome.” Use titles of respect (Mr., Mrs., Miss., etc.) to address others.

2. If you are meeting someone new– make the extra effort. Introduce yourself and shake their hand firmly.

3. Pay attention when people talk. Actually listen to what they are saying! Ask questions and be engaged in the conversation.

4. Extend a helping hand. This can be a simple as holding or door for someone. If you see someone struggling with a task offer them help.

        This is obviously a very short list. There are lots of other areas of manners/etiquette to consider (for example appropriate dress or polite conversation topics). Most of the time I’ve found if you use common sense it is easy to be polite. (But then again my mom drilled manners into my head since birth.) And if you are unsure just ask a professor or polite classmate.

        Bottom line– manners are well worth the effort!


Don’t Be Afraid To Use Your Grandma! February 7, 2007

Filed under: family,internship,Kent State Public Relations — copingwithpr @ 2:32 pm

PR Life Lesson #37   (No– this is not a ‘how to’ in Grandma-labor)

            I, like many PR juniors and seniors at Kent State, have been scrambling to find a summer internship. In theory this task would be easy…  Bill sends out information on internship opportunities to the PR majors listserv practically everyday. So all I really have to do is pick a few and send out my resume. Right? Wrong… 1) I’m finicky. I can’t just pick an internship all willy nilly. It has to feel like a right fit to me. 2) I live in Chippewa, PA, so most of listserv opportunities are just too far away to work for me.

            So I have set off on a lovely magical adventure this semester called “let’s find Emily an internship.” I scoured the Web, asked professors for direction and basically tried all the typical ways to find an internship. I found ONE internship that fit my picky standards. Needless to say I had to find other internships to apply to so I frantically began using everyone and everything I could think of. This is how I stumbled upon my greatest internship resource: Grandma.

          Actually, not just Grandma, but my whole family. I mentioned my need of a summer internship once, and my mom and Grandma swooped in. My mom asked her friends about which local businesses offer internships. She got me contact information for two places and helped me get my foot in the door (we live in a small community…you ALWAYS know someone). My grandma put the word out on the ‘grandma-network’. She gave me two great internship leads too. Plus she suggested I look into the health care industry, which I never would have thought of on my own. My uncle was even able to give me a few recommendations.

            I went from ONE internship possiblity to SIX with the help of my family. I am not writing this to brag… yes, my grandma is better than yours, but that is besides the point. The point is use all your resources, especially your family! My family might be a little foggy on what PR people actually do, but it dosn’t matter. They still had personal connections and insightful suggestions. PR is all about building relationships and communication. So when you’re looking for an internship (or doing a number of other things) don’t forget to take advantage of the relationships you’ve already built!!