The Final Countdown

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Phew! The first month of this semester flew by quickly, and February is off to a quick start as well. I’m both happy and nostalgic about this record-setting pace. Happy because I’ve become severely infected with senioritis, which can only be cured by wearing a cap and gown. Nostalgic because I’m wrapping up the last semester of my undergrad career, never again to pull all-nighters, have the world in the palm of my hand or do all of things that crazy college kids do.

As I’m writing this post, the melody of “The Final Countdown” by Europe is playing in my head on repeat. While the finish line is in sight, there appears to be many hurdles in the path ahead. Will I receive a job right out of college? If I do, what will it be? Where will I live? Will I be financially secure? And, this list of daunting questions goes on and on and on. So, how does one handle the looming stress of graduation? Well, for starters, follow the Graduation Check List. While some of these tips may seem like no-brainers, all are important to check off in order to make this significant life transition as smooth as possible.

As for handling the stress of the infamous “job search,” I’ve yet to find a full-proof method, but am learning from mine and other’s personal experiences. I think the two most important things to keep in mind are start early and network, network, network! Even though graduation is still three months away, it’s never too early to start looking for opportunities. And, you never know who knows who, so be sure to take advantage of networking opportunities.

I wish I had all of the answers. I wish this last semester wasn’t so stressful. But, in the end, I know all of the cover letters, résumés and interviews will be worth it. Until then, I’m going to try to enjoy this final countdown.

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Check out my blog post on the Ohio State PRSSA website.

Ohio State PRSSA

By Emily Widener @emilycwidener

I think the one thing that all communication majors and PR-related majors can agree on as one of the best things about the career path is that there are no required math or science courses, other than your typical GEC classes, of course. Personally, I am not a math or science person but rather a reader and a writer, so this major suits me well. But, in an attempt to delay my graduation until this spring, I was forced to choose two minors to compliment my major studies. Professional writing was the easy minor to choose, but general business on the other hand, not so much. “Accounting” and “operation systems management” and “finance” were not words in my vocabulary.

I reluctantly started taking these business courses at the beginning of fall semester, but it wasn’t until the Ohio State PRSSA Alan VanderMolen event in November that…

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The Beauty of Blogging

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As cliché as this may sound, I’m blogging about blogging. Before I get boos and hisses from the cheering section, let me clarify. Since blogging is so different than other types of professional writing, it is a difficult skill for some students to grasp. But have no fear; your blogging angel is here!

As a PR student, blogs have become a staple in my daily routine. But like others, I used to struggle writing my blog posts. What should I write about? Why would other bloggers want to read my posts? What if my blog posts are boring? All of these questions plagued any attempt I made in drafting a blog post, until one day, the infamous light bulb clicked on in my head. The beauty of blogs is that if you are passionate about your content and posts, then others will enjoy reading what you have to say. This realization took away the stress of writing the “perfect blog post” and helped me find new inspiration for blogging.

These simple steps help me when I sit down to write a blog post:

  • Love it, write it – I find that it is much easier to write a blog post about a topic in which you are interested. Not only will you be happier as a writer, your readers will enjoy the passion you have for your content.
  • Add your own flair – Not only is it important for you to write about a topic that you’re interested in, it is just as important to incorporate your own perspective on the topic in your post. Develop your own writing style that is unique to your blog.
  • Keep it short and sweet – One of my favorite things about blogging is that it is so dissimilar from the typical college research paper. Take advantage of the lack-of-page-requirements and get your point across in a concise manner.
  • Share the love – Follow other blogs and bloggers regularly to learn what the trending topics are in your particular interest area. For my fellow PR students, my favorite is http://prtini.com/.
  • Share links – Do you see what I did there? Not only is it important to cite your sources if necessary, it is also important to give your readers links to other blogs and news stories that are relatable to your post.
  • Layout love – Since blogs are usually read via a screen, it is important to write your posts in a reader-friendly format.
  • A picture’s worth a 1,000 words – To spice up your blog, find a photo that somehow relates to your content, and post it as well for a complete blog package.
  • Share the wealth – Once you have published your blog post, make sure you show off all of your hard work. Post a link to your blog on your Facebook and Twitter to encourage others to read it.

Well, did I succeed in my purpose for writing this blog? Did I write about something relevant to professional writing while still adding my own personal touch to the topic? You be the judge! Leave your comments below; I’d love to learn some other tips for successful blogging endeavors. And remember, no matter how difficult you may find this type of writing, keep calm and blog on.

The Power of Prezi

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One of the most valuable aspects of a summer internship is learning about the up-and-coming trends in the PR industry. And during my first three weeks at my internship, I’ve done just that. Not only was I first introduced to Prezi a mere three weeks ago, I’m now known as one of the “Prezi experts” around the office. Most of you may be thinking, “What the heck is Prezi?” This is not surprising seeing as I had never heard of it before either. But as aspiring PR pros and seasoned PR veterans alike, Prezi may change the way we present our messages, so it’s essential that we learn the value of this new tool.

Prezi’s tagline is “The Zooming Presentation Editor,” and it is just that. Did I also mention that it’s free to use? What I like to call a mix between PowerPoint and Photoshop, Prezi allows you to captivate your audience rather than clicking through yet another boring and mundane presentation. While Prezi still features all of the basic tools of PowerPoint, it goes one step further in its presentation mode, allowing you to twist and turn and rotate in displaying your content. And forget the hassle of embedding videos into your PowerPoint; with Prezi, you can simply copy and paste a YouTube URL or upload a video file.

As I’m writing this post, I’m finding it hard to explain the power of Prezi in words. The only way to justify the uniqueness of this application is to encourage everyone to explore the website for themselves. Create your own account, watch the tutorials and use the explore tab to view current Prezis for inspiration. And I promise, it’s not as hard as it may seem to master Prezi; in fact, it is very user-friendly.

Whether you are a college student who needs to create a presentation for a class assignment or a PR pro who needs to throw together a presentation for a client, use Prezi to wow your audience and leave a lasting impression. Next up on my Prezi list is to create a “Prezume.” Stay tuned for that and also, please feel free to post your feedback and thoughts on Prezi. I’d love to hear what y’all think!

No Rest for the Weary

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After allowing a full week of recovery for my brain (and trusty laptop!) after a grueling finals week and quarter, it’s time to get back in the swing of things. While my past summer breaks have consisted of road trips with friends, laying out by the pool and other mindless activities, I realize this summer is different. It’s my last summer before I am a college graduate and venture off into the real world. As an aspiring PR pro, this realization is somewhat nerve racking. In a cut-throat industry like public relations, every second of preparation matters, whether you are working for a client or preparing yourself for a job hunt. So this summer, instead of taking it easy, my goal is to prepare for my senior year and the ever-looming “real world.” Here are some items on my to-do list this summer:

– Update my online profiles: Nowadays, potential employers search for your online profiles, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, before even meeting you. It’s important to make a good first impression, even if that means having clean and professional social media accounts. These are also great platforms to show professionals your experiences and areas of expertise. Take advantage of these networking sites!

– Put together a portfolio: This has been on my to-do list for awhile now, and I’m looking forward to checking it off this summer. Potential PR employers will most likely ask for writing samples and it’s key to present them in a polished and well-put together fashion. Be sure to include all relevant samples from your classes and any internships. For some tips on putting together an impressive portfolio, check out this presentation.

– Get personal business cards: While this may seem like an “old-school” thing to do, no online platform will ever top the practicality of business cards. They are very convenient to hand out to potential employers at career fairs and other networking events. Check out Vistaprint to order FREE business cards!

These items along with others are what I hope to accomplish this summer in order to prepare for a very busy senior year. Also this summer, I plan to blog about valuable lessons I learn at my PR internship and other relevant topics in the industry.

Stay tuned for updates of the summer adventures of a young PR professional!

The Art of Live-Tweeting

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After my first attempt at live-tweeting during an event last week, I realize I have not completely mastered the practice. I think it is a really beneficial practice for professionals, celebrities and top TV personalities, but not so much for the average college student. Not only did I find myself having a hard time multitasking listening to the speaker and trying to tweet relevant information at the same time, I also did not connect with any new tweeters. Perhaps my problem was that I chose to live-tweet during a relatively small event (an Ohio State PRSSA meeting) in which the tweeting audience was mostly fellow PR students. After my experience, I think that most successful live-tweeters choose large conferences or other popular events as their topic of choice. This way, there is a greater chance that there will be a greater number of fellow tweeters at the same event who will be more likely to respond to your live-tweeting.

Although, the most successful live tweeters tend to be celebrities, their success stories with the art prove that it can be a successful social media practice. In an article titled “Live-tweeting Best Practices,” celebrity live-tweeting success stories are analyzed. Popular personalities, such as Kyra Sedgwick, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Trey Wingo and Lea Michele, have more than doubled and tripled their number of followers and mentions through tweeting at grand events, such as The Emmy’s, NFL Football Sundays and season finales of their respective TV shows. While being a celebrity helps, I believe than anyone can have success through live-tweeting by giving your audience access to current and relevant information that they, otherwise, would not know.

So what do you need to know in order to live-tweet an event? Here’s a 12-step guide to the art of live-tweeting: choose a hashtag, pay attention, know your audience, use attribution, use rich media (i.e. multimedia), link back to earlier tweets, follow others during the event, keep the conversation going, bring in diverse viewpoints, follow back other live-tweeters, reconnect with you new followers and take note of the most interesting conversations.

“Twitter co-founder Evan Williams live-tweets on stage at the TED conference.”

I know this seems like a lot to take in; my mind is spinning right now. But the potential positive outcomes of live-tweeting outweigh all of the preparation and work involved. Especially in the PR world, live-tweeting could potentially boost your credibility as a professional. So the next time you decide to live-tweet during an event, remember the 12 steps to follow and try not to become too overwhelmed. Oh, and remember to bring your laptop; it’s much easier to live-tweet from a computer rather than a smartphone.

Happy live-tweeting! I’m looking forward to joining in on your conversations.

The Beauty of Brochures

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Regardless of this new day in age in technology for the public relations industry, brochures and other tangible products, such as hot cards, are still some of my favorite PR tactics. Sometimes I think that PR professionals are losing sight of the older foundations of PR, like handing out literature, because everyone is so caught up in social media and other online mediums. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm supporter of the new social media era, but I also think that it is still effective to physically promote your clients. Last summer at my internship at a small PR firm, whenever an order of brochures or hot cards was delivered, everyone was so excited to see the finished product. In a way, it was physical evidence of everyone’s hard work on a particular campaign, from the account manager to the graphic designer.

Another positive aspect of producing literature for a client is that it allows you to get the creative juices flowing, which is sometimes prohibited by the limitations of a strictly online campaign. However, it is important to design a brochure effectively in order to catch the eye of your target audience. No one wants to spend too much time reading a lot of content in a small space, but rather, they enjoy the pictures and creative elements of the brochure. In an article titled “The Essential Parts of a Public Relations Brochure,” several important elements of successful brochure are identified: the name and logo, the cover image, the mission and vision, the main body, current news and contact information. These components seem simple enough, but it is how all of them coincide with another that can make or break a brochure.

The above photo is an example of a brochure for a water company. Although a water company could potentially be viewed as boring to consumers, this eye-catching brochure justifies the effectiveness of a well-done brochure. The bright colors and large wording invite the readers to consume the information without overbearing them with useless filler content.

It’s important to remember that the “perfect” brochure won’t be the same for every client. However, it is essential that every PR brochure contains the components listed above and positively promotes your client. But the rest is up to you as as PR professional, and that is the beauty of brochures!