UT Celebrates Social Media Week!

The College of Communications hosted Social Media Week April 2-4 in the Communications Building on campus.

This three-day event features presentations, panel discussions, and open forums with social media experts from Nike, Dunkin’ Donuts and McCormick & Company, as well as advertising, marketing and PR agencies from Knoxville and the Southeast. Social Media Weeks sponsors for the event included Coca-Cola, WBIR-TV, Calhoun’s and Latitude 35

This was my second year attending Social Media Week and I love it! I am very passionate about social media and hope to engage social media for my career. My favorite session I attended this year was with Kevin Kirksey, senior director of North American brand communications and digital for Nike Inc. Kirksey graduated from UT’s school of advertising in 1998 and spent a bulk of his career working for ESPN before switching to Nike about a year ago. Kirksey gave an interesting and engaging presentation, filled with discussions and examples of past digital campaigns. Also, Calhouns catered the event which was very delicious :)

One of my favorite quotes of the presentation was, “A great story will engage, inspire, and ultimately move the masses,” Kirksey said. “An innovative social plan is no longer a chapter in that story, its a thread that holds the narrative together.”

I think Social Media Week is a great event and very important to the college of communications. It gives students a chance to learn more about social media and hear from experts actually working in social media. I would encourage everyone to check it out!

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An Art History Student’s PR Journey

When I first happened upon PRSSA, I had just returned to Knoxville after a whirlwind first few years of college. I chose art history as a major, simply because I had studied it in high school and absolutely loved it. However, due to a snow storm, I had to register for classes the night before they began. In the final desperate hours of registration, with no art history  class on my schedule and the cold winter night creeping in, I searched subjects that had always interested me. While I cannot recall the other classes I looked for and failed to get into, I do remember happily announcing to my family that I had registered for 270, an intro to PR class. I knew nothing about the industry, except what I vaguely knew from television and my parents’ jobs as writers. On my first day ever at UT, I attended 270 with Dr. Hilyard. For two years I had searched for what I wanted to do. That day, it stuck.

Though I was an art history major, I made it my mission to get into the PR industry and make it happen. First, I met with professors. Dr. Hilyard was a fantastic resource for extracurricular ideas, resume editing, and interview tips. Though I wasn’t in PR, she was incredibly willing to help me and hear my story. She suggested I join PRSSA, the pre-professional student organization. This simple suggestion allowed me to connect with local professionals, receive internship blasts, and travel across the country to hear from the nation’s top PR professionals. On a more personal note, it gave me an extracurricular activity at which I truly felt I was receiving quality, relevant information. With like-minded fellow members, I received resume, branding, and PR advice from local professionals each month. Next, I scavenged my contacts, parents’ contacts, and friends for connections to the industry. After compiling a list of people, I sent blind emails to each with simple questions asking for advice. These individuals were essential to my learning process. With different backgrounds and insights, each had fallen into PR in a different way. They gave me advice on UT, internships, and provided support in my journey. Lastly, I just plain went for it. I applied to each internship I could find and perfected telling my complicated and often confusing story. Though many didn’t work out, one did. I’ve had the same internship since Fall 2011 and have been able to learn about PR writing, media relations, customer service, and so much more. My experience in my internship has been the most important part of my time at UT by far. They took a chance on an art history student, and I am so lucky that they did.

The point of all this is that if you want to get into any field–except, I guess, biomedical engineering or something terribly complicated like that–you’ve just got to go for it. Dive in, use your resources, and see what sticks. If it doesn’t work out, I can guarantee that something was learned along the way. I am so grateful to have accidentally signed up for PR 270 that January night. It allowed me to find exactly what I love and has given me the tools, connections, and skills needed to pursue it as a career. Ask for help. Take time to plan. You never know what you might find.

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Before I Graduate… A PR Student Reflections on her Then and Now Goals

Today, as i was sitting in my little cubicle at my internship. I thought about what i have accomplished thus far. As a senior who will be graduating in May, it is important for me to look back after i have walked down that stage, with no regrets academically and leadership wise. 

One of my favorite quotes that i always refer to is “if you are lucky, you will find out who you are before you figure out what you want to be.” This quote holds true for so many of us because we pick a major, later to realize realize it was not meant for us. I was lucky enough to have picked PR as a major since freshman year and stuck with it. To be honest, I could not imagine doing anything else with my life other than PR. 

So as i sit here, in my little cubicle, i am looking back at the goals i had set up to accomplish since freshman year. What i have accomplished three and a half years later, and what i wished i could have accomplished. 

Some goals i have accomplish thus far includes; attaining more than one internship, improving my writing, expanding my network not just social wise but opportunity wise. Studying abroad last summer and lastly, an opportunity to be a PRSSA officer. 

Some goals i wish i could have accomplished includes;Working an internship that actually pertains to my field of interest. Although i enjoyed the internships i have acquired, i wish i had given myself more time to be a little more selective with my internships. I am although very grateful for my internship experience. Besides, there is always summer internship opportunities.  Lastly, i wish i had taken PR 310 and 340 more seriously. Yes, i confess, i did not take either PR courses as serious at the time it took them. I had no idea how important they would be especially since my other PR classes always refer to them. So, if there is one advise i would offer to you young ladies and gentlemen would be make sure you take all your major courses serious. Even if it is an entry level course, if it involves your major, PAY ATTENTION.

 

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Making Social Media an Asset

Social media plays a major role in today’s world of public relations. These social media platforms connect individuals with each other in a personal and timely manner. But can they be used for professional interactions or even for job opportunities?

Yes, social media outlets have been created for professionals from all different fields and industries to connect and stay in contact. LinkedIn has been created for just this purpose. It allows professionals, young and old, to connect or reconnect after a recent meeting. These connections can be instrumental in helping young professionals establish themselves in their field and even help during a job search.

After speaking with successful public relations practitioners like Gary McCormick, Director of Partnership Development at HGTV, and Jade Williams, Public Relations Coordinator at HGTV, I learned the importance of a strong LinkedIn presence. LinkedIn is a resource that could be used to find HR managers to follow up after a job application or to connect with professionals you aspire to be like. This platform is geared toward fostering a social interaction between individuals that could lead to a professional relationship, which can be very useful when looking for a job.

If you are focused on looking for a mentor or even a job, you may want to be mindful of who you “connect” with and how you “connect” with them. A request to connect with a professional is your “pitch” or elevator speech. It is important to show why they should connect with you. (You can’t forget that professionals will be allowing you access to all of their connections.) You should remember a few key tips:

  1. Make sure your profile is current and complete.
  2. Read, reread and edit your profile. Be positive there are NO typos!
  3. Use the optional message when connecting to sell your pitch or for a sincere message about a recent meeting.

A professional profile and an online presence can be a vital asset, especially to a young professional, but it can also be very detrimental if it is neglected. Remember to keep a mature, professional persona on online outlets, such as LinkedIn, and it could lead to an excellent job opportunity!

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Branding Yourself

Tonight, PRSSA welcomed Jennifer Holder, owner of Pirate Girl PR. Jennifer talked to the members of PRSSA about the importance of branding yourself. Because the world has decided that social media is not just a fad, but a way of life, Jennifer talked about the importance of integrating your brand into social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Doing this can really set you apart in the corporate world when applying for jobs. While this is a good thing, Jennifer stressed the fact that it can also be a bad thing. We must be careful of the way we present our brand on social media, because if inappropriate it can get you removed from a job. Always be mindful of pictures you are being tagged in or things are you are re-tweeting, it reflects your brand.

If your presence on Twitter and Facebook is minimal however, there are other ways of presenting your brand. Jennifer mentioned that if you have a portfolio that contains writing samples, a blog is recommended to showcase your work. I have a friend who has presented herself as a brand through her blog and she has seen amazing feedback from this medium. She is interested in becoming a stylist in New York City, so she created a fashion blog where she posts pictures of models in stylish clothes and then writes her own blurbs about the fashion industry.

Whatever industry you are trying to break into, whether it be PR, fashion or finance, branding yourself via social media is a great way to put yourself out there.

 

 

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Taking Advantage of a Crisis

Did you catch the Super Bowl? Even if you didn’t, you probably heard about the blackout that lasted about 30 minutes.

Public relations professionals across the nation collectively cringed at the thought of being the poor communications manager in that situation.

But, if you were a communication manager for anything else, the blackout was an opportunity for extra exposure for your brand. Take a look at what a few of these brands did during the downtime.

In this day and age, when consumers reach for their laptop or smartphone at the first sign of boredom, it is critical to respond to events such as the blackout in a timely manner, and brands like Tide and Calvin Klein had the right idea.

How would you respond to the situation?

Comment with your thoughts or bring them to a PRSSA meeting this semester!

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The Importance of Completing an Internship…or 2…or 3

Earning a degree is extremely important; however, the classroom is drastically different than the real world of PR. Internships give students the chance to get real world experience before they graduate. This experience adds to student’s marketability when venturing out into the professional world to job hunt.

Experience is not the only benefit a student receives by completing an internship. How many of us have heard our friends or even said so to ourselves: I know I want to go into PR after I graduate, but I don’t know what I want to do in PR? That uncertainty is another great reason to complete an internship or maybe even 2 or 3 internships. Intern for a couple of different places. Compare interning for an agency versus interning for a business versus a company. You may even find out you were born to do PR for a non-profit foundation. Now is the time to explore your options.

Maybe you’re not sure what you want to do at all when you graduate. Well, a public relations degree is very broad. This affords PR majors the opportunity to enter into a variety of different jobs and industries. Try out a few different jobs and industries that peak your interest until you find the right fit. Internships are an excellent way to do this. If you’re constantly switching jobs post-graduation, it will make you look uncertain. If you try out 10 different internships as a student, however, you look like an all-star! Seize the opportunity now to boost your resume and gain real world experience!

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