Archive for the ‘The crazy life of a PR student’ Category

Generation Telephonophobic?

“Allison,” my supervisor said, “can you please call this list of organizations, and see if they’d like to be involved in our event? See if you can schedule a time for us to meet with them next week.”

“Of course!” I’d reply. But I dreaded the terrifying task. I would go over and over in my mind what I might say to these unsuspecting strangers. What if I forgot what company they were with, or why I was calling? What if they were rude? My young hands shaking, I’d reach for the receiver and dial, holding my breath, staring at a script I’d made for myself for just about any scenario. And then – I’d get a voicemail. Oh no! I had not prepared for this! What should I say? What information should I give? What if the machine cuts me off? Beeeeeep. Show time. 

These mini panic attacks over simple phone calls were common to me when I first began my internships, despite my college experience as a telephone interviewer. And so, it’s bittersweet for me now to see my interns, who may have even less experience, try to mask their terror when I ask them to make calls.

Is it just me, or does no one know how to use a telephone anymore? Sure, we can use a cell phone to text, email, play games, find information, and so on – but can we still use it to actually call someone? Is my generation so used to zapping information back and forth at the speed of satellite that we are unable have real conversations?

In this information age I am finding myself at a loss. As a PR professional, I pride myself on my ability to communicate both efficiently and politely; however, I am finding myself questioning those skills.

Holding telephone conversations is becoming a lost art, and it is  a skill that young professionals must develop in order to be in the communications business. Check out these phone strategy tips, courtesy of Regina M. Robo. 

Phone strategy

  • Treat the call as if it were a meeting – have a purpose, and an agenda.
  • Decide what you’ll do if someone answers other than the person you’re calling. Would you prefer to leave a message, go to voice mail, or call back later?
  • If you’re on a scheduled call, be at your desk at the appointed time.
  • Learn the names of the people who answer the phones at the numbers you call most frequently. Speak pleasantly to them, and if you talk to them very frequently, send them a card or gift on their birthday or over the holidays.

What do you think? Do you know anyone who is afraid of the phone? What  bad or awkward habits have you experienced during phone conversations? What advice do you have for young communicators?

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I freakin’ love my job.

Well, I finally made it. It only took 8 months after college graduation to snag a full time job. Although it felt like ages, I know I’m luckier than many who wait and wait with no new prospects.

So, sitting thankfully in my own little corner, in my own little chair, working as

Media Relations Specialist/Event Coordinator for The Engine Room, a new creative communications firm in Tulsa.

It’s a little crazy jumping into a place that is so new that is has no precedents to go by, no templates and few rules. It’s so different from any other job I’ve had — and because of that, we have so much more freedom to experiment, to think BIG!

And it’s really fun.

So far, I’ve already planned 2 press conferences, 5 big events, many small events, made viral social media videos, been to a big film festival in Denver, CO  (even made it to the VIP lounge!) and more! While doing all this, I’m also helping to build organizational systems, write proposals, brainstorm huge campaigns and I’m learning even more about the ever-evolving world of social media.

It’s a busy life – but it is worth it. When an event I worked on comes together, or when we are talking about ideas for a new client, or even for our own company, and we have that “Ah-ha!” moment, or we realize what we’ve been working on is finally complete and its a success – well, there’s just about no better feeling.

I can’t wait to see what other adventures unfold!

The young PR professional’s toolkit

Since I’ve been trying to shimmy my way into the “real” world of public relations, I’ve noticed there are a few things that I’ve ended up kicking myself for not having on multiple occasions.

I’ve also noticed that most of the other professionals are smart enough– or, experienced enough– to carry them.

So, I am assembling a “young PR professional’s toolkit” to keep in my super-stylish-and-sophisticated purple work bag at all times, from this day forward, as long as we both– well, I– shall live. Or until I get a new bag!

I love my work bag! Thanks Pier 1 (and Mom)!

Feel free to copy this list. You won’t regret it!

1. Travel-sized toothbrush & floss (it’s hard to impress potential employers, clients, or others in the business with broccoli sticking out of your teeth.)

2. Small comb/brush — You should look clean and coiffed at all times. Everyone else does!
3. Gum– bad breath is no bueno for networking with folks or talking to potential clients
4. Business cards– I may not technically be hired anywhere, but it’s still embarrassing scribbling my contact info on scrap paper for other professionals I meet.

5. Ibuprophen– This may not apply to everyone, but sitting at a computer makes my neck hurt– a LOT. No one likes a whiner.

6. Make-up– Ladies, in PR we often find ourselves running around all day from one place to the next, possibly eating or drinking, and we need to look just as polished each place we go. Touch-ups are inevitable.

7. Pens–Never be caught without a pen. It’s embarrassing to be unprepared when you need to record some good work advice or write a note to yourself and you have to ask your neighbor for a pen. That’s soooo high school! Which brings me to…

8. Notepad– ALWAYS have a notepad. The young professional who is not taking a few notes looks like she’s not learning anything. And you’re not fooling anybody– you don’t already know everything.

9. A change of shoes– Ladies, especially. This one is often overlooked, but the value is incredible. Sometimes travel requires you to ditch the heels (or even flats) and be ready to hike, run around downtown, splash through the mud or rain, etc. Be ready! And finally…

10. Snacks. Sometimes you’ve got to work overtime when you really hadn’t planned on it. Don’t go hungry. Finish up that response to RFP, drop by the PRSA event, and pick up a client’s centerpiece for tomorrow’s event with a granola bar in your system.

I hope this list will be helpful to others– don’t make the same mistakes I did! Don’t be unprepared!

Also, if you’re a professional who has been around this block and you have anything else to add to the toolkit– please let us know!

Many thanks!

Allison

Gee, thanks Aunt Bea!

In class on Friday we created our own networking group, Socially Orange, using Ning.

It’s what we’re calling “Our Mayberry”- our own little town where we all share some common interests- and others can join or not join, or observe, or just keep walking. It’s going to be a nice little- or maybe even big- community.

I was surprised by how easy- and inexpensive- it is to create such and interactive Web site.

And people actually get paid to make sites like this? That rocks (if you’re the person getting paid…)!

It got me wondering just how many different “Mayberrys” are out there…and how many there WILL be….and all the crazy things they will be about…and I’m wondering what the future of the Web will be like. It’s going to be nuts. Somebody is going to have to find a way to help us navigate all these Mayberrys, and how to organize and simplify all the gobbledygook out there. And that person is going to make a lot of money.

And the thunder rolls

I heard the voice again today, loud and clear- like a thunder clap that both startled and relieved me. 

I was in the middle of Modern French Theater class, and I realized I hadn’t had a chance to read any of the material yet, and I would not have a chance to later. And the midterm is approaching. And I’m lost. And tired.

And I can’t focus because I’m too worried about making-up-the-points-I-missed-in-Media-Law-on-Monday-when-I- had-to-skip-because-I-was-sick-AGAIN and-worrying-about-the-test-I-have-in-Microbes-on-Monday-because-I-am -not-a-science-person-and-worrying-about-writing-THIS-blog-and-wondering-how-in-the-world-I’m-going-to-have- time-to-get-my-bangs-trimmed-because-they-are-always-in-my-eyes-and and and and and and AAGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

And that’s when the rain clouds starting rolling in, speeding up as they approached. And the room went dark and the rain started to fall and I forced the tears back because I was not about to cry in the middle of French class- and there came the voice- “Allison, something has GOT to give.” 

I didn’t want to have to drop a class, but 21 hours is just too much for me to handle when I’m trying to give my all to every class, work project, and group. There’s just not enough to go around. 

So here are some tips and information I collected that calm me down and will hopefully do the same for others out there getting lost in the storm: 

1. Be preventative. Don’t take 21 hours and work every day if you want to get good grades and/or have a life.

2. Prepare for the worst. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, cut some things from your schedule. Stay home. Take a bubble bath. Do Yoga. 

3. Take shelter. Call mom, dad, best friend, boyfriend- whoever those people are who you rely on to listen to you and remind you that you can do anything, and that taking care of yourself is what’s most important. 

4. Dance in the rain. Crying can be very cathartic. It releases all that tension and bad energy that stress creates inside you that you might not even realize was there.

5. Get some air. Breathe in. Breathe out.  

6. Repair damages. Cheer up. Listen to happy music. Clean your living space to start over. Reorganize. Schedules seem crazier and demands seem more outrageous when they are floating around in your head without a place to live. Write everything on a calendar. And if needed, give something up. (Like a French class that you may not really need…)

WebMD provides some really good information about stress management including an interactive tool to help you gauge your stress level: http://tinyurl.com/6s62yw 

 

Hope this helps somebody, 

 

Allison

Hello, Mr. Moneybags

So I’ve decided I need to marry rich. After hearing our speaker from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, I know I’m a non-profit personality. 

I had a suspicion before but I chose to ignore it. I used to volunteer with YMCA and then I worked for them for years- I loved the feeling that I was helping kids. 

I’ve always wanted to do something that was helping others. And I’ve always loved kids. My favorite project at work was when we started doing PR for Stillwater Public Schools and I got to plan ways to promote the school and improve communication and leadership within the school and community. 

When I walked in the schools to interview the principals, I immediately felt happy and comfortable. It felt so good to be in a place that I knew was benefiting kids- helping them learn, express themselves, and giving them positive role models. 

I am going to end up doing some sort of non-profit or school PR. Neither pays well, I know, but it’s who I am. I want to make money! I want to live comfortably! 

Looks like I’m going to have to marry rich.

Would you like fries with that?

After venting on the phone to a friend about how discouraged I’ve been at work, I realized just how true what my adviser had been talking about in our meeting last week was.

Last week, my adviser, Mary, told me that no matter what industry you are in, you go into it young and excited with a fresh outlook and fresh ideas. Then, you often run into a big brick wall of discouragement. She said that the people you are working with (or for) have been with the company for years, and they are comfortable doing things just the way they are. They are resistant to change, or at least they don’t see it as necessary.

Last semester, my friend had a great part-time job at a marketing firm in Tulsa. He worked every morning and went to class in the afternoons. He was making good money, but often complained about how his boss and co-workers were complete idiots. They would take 20 minutes to describe a task that should take five, and they would leave the office for extended periods of time. He said they were always surprised when he finished his work 45 minutes before everyone else. He quit.

I was happy about his job because he was making money and it looked good on a resume. I did not understand why he was so frustrated. Now I am starting to get it.

I’ve been trying to convince my boss it’s worth it to “become a part of the conversation” and engage in social media. I was proud that he listened to me.

It’s been a week, though, and still no change. I asked when he was going to update the Web site and put my plans for blogging, tweeting, commenting, and more into action. He replied “It’ll be interesting to see if either of us has time for that…”

What other choice is there? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. This could turn into something really great, I hope it does!