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!

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Let’s get lifted

Do you ever feel like you’re not living up to your potential? Like maybe you’re not quite doing as well as you could be – and you want to – but you’re just not sure how?

I’m reading Breakfast with Buddha – part of an attempt (which also includes stretching often and taking walks) to remind myself daily that life is about living, and stress is often an unnecessary evil. (So far it’s going well — we’ll see if I can make it last!)

Last night, I read a few paragraphs that stuck with me. They were supposed to be an excerpt from the enlightened character Volya Rinpoche’s book, and, very summarized, they went something like this:

When a boy is young, he perhaps loves music and wants very much to play the piano. So he takes lessons, and he delights in learning to make music. As he gets older, he realizes that he maybe is not as skilled as others, so he tries harder. And perhaps someone tells him that his fingers aren’t quite straight enough, and his melodies don’t flow perfectly. He gets discouraged, but keeps working at it. Eventually, he feels as if he has reached the limit of his abilities. He feels that he will always be mediocre. And so maybe, as much as he loves music, he starts to associate it with feelings of inadequacy, and he lives the rest of his life thinking he is less than he should be; however, he feels that there is nothing he can do about it.

The author then compares this situation to spirituality. People may naturally want to be spiritual, and to do good, and to feel close to God. But so often in religion, people are discouraged for not being “good” enough, that they eventually feel that it is not worth it to try, as they are destined to fail.

I couldn’t help but see a parallel to this situation in every aspect of life — in work, in relationships, in everything.

I think of the wonderful (and not so wonderful) people I’ve met on my educational and career path and I can’t help feeling that some of them (not most) maybe started out loving what they did, but then felt bogged down by the small hardships of life, and the easy success others seemed to have and, while they were still good at their jobs, they didn’t quite shine like it seemed they wanted to. And they didn’t think they were capable of more. They were content, yes, but happy? I’m not sure.

So I am making it my personal mission to A)Keep fostering my creativity, my education, my work experience, and not be discouraged when things don’t go as well as I’d like them to — even if it happens over and over again, and B)Uplift others. Tell them when they are doing a good job. Encourage them when they are trying to do something they love.

I hope this story helps inspire you to do the same. Basically, life’s too short to feel like crap. =)

Making Time

PR is a dichotomous profession. We are known for getting to schmooze potential clients at elaborate parties (like Samantha Jones from Sex in the City), drink to excess (charged to the company card, for purposes of “client relations” a la Edina in Absolutely Fabulous) and getting free SWAG from our connections.

And I’ve done it before (kind of…not to the extent Hollywood makes it seem like.) And it’s fun. But that’s only a small part of the job. In reality, there are many tasks that need to be taken care of on a timely basis – tasks that can often feel like part of an ever-growing list, all the contents of which require immediate attention. And it can be overwhelming, stressful and even scary.

As much fun as we are supposed to have in PR, it is also a very high-maintenance job. It’s not simply 9-to-5. You have got to be available to people all the time. You have got to be able to watch the news at 10 and call the station to make sure they’ve got the updated information for their 6 am story, and be ready to launch another campaign in the morning.

It’s hectic and fun at the same time. Laid-back and tightly scheduled. So it’s no wonder that we, as PR professionals, are expected to be both creative and task-oriented. These things don’t always go hand-in-hand.

I’ve gotten to do lots of fun, creativity-inspiring things in my line of work so far: attend film festivals, have brainstorming sessions at a bar, create fun contests and more. But sometimes I find myself too caught up in the day-to-day details to access that part of my brain that PR is also supposed to be all about.

It was my supervisor, the super-detail-oriented and also super-creative Erin Conrad who said to me: I know exactly how you feel, but know that there is never going to be time for you. You’ve got to make time. On purpose. Write on your blog! Connect with a friend! Strengthen your relationships with local media!

These things are also very, very important to PR but tend to fall by the wayside. Her true words took me back to that phrase I my music teacher told me long ago, and from time to time ring in my ear: Something’s got to give.

You can’t always do everything, but you need to make time for creativity.

It’s part of what makes me great, in my profession and in my personal life.

I am lucky enough to have a very fun job and I’m passionate about what I do. My resolution (Late, I know!) is too make time for the fun stuff that is going to make me happier AND make me better at my job.

Any tips?

Doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well

I just hung up with an editor who spoke with me very sternly when he heard I did public relations.

**I’m used to PR skeptics as, in college, there was always this holier-than-thou attitude the journalism students had toward the PR students who, as far as they’re concerned, were morally bankrupt sell-outs who wanted to spin the truth to make money. ** (I’ll correct that view in a later post!)

However, this guy was forward with me, spouting out a list of do’s and don’ts of which any good PR professional is already well aware:

1. “If you send me an email and I see that you sent it to a big list of people, I won’t touch it.”

** Because then it’s no longer special. If I want to be cool and different, I’m not going to buy the same outfit all the other girls are wearing. And if you try to make me, I’ll assume you’re just trying to make a buck, and you don’t care whether it’s my style.

Solution: target your media based on the story, send personalized notes with the release whenever possible, and always, always use BCC when you have to send to a big list.

2. “I get hundreds of press releases a day, so you have to call me to make sure I saw it.”

** Yup. My inbox buries emails all the time, so I can’t imagine what it would look like if I were an editor.

Solution: Always do follow-up calls.

3. We prefer exclusive stories. We’ll definitely look at it if it says “exclusive.”

**No shit. Everybody likes to have what no one else does.

Solution: Give a publication exclusivity whenever possible. You’ll strengthen your relationship with that publication and probably get way better coverage.

While the conversation with this naysayer was mildly offensive, I appreciated his honesty- had I not already known these things, it would have been extremely helpful.

Also, it made me proud of myself. If he felt the need to share these tenets right of the bat, there must be lot of people out there screwing them up. It’s good to be reassured that I’m doing it right. =)

My Own Client: Me

I was reading an article on PR Careers by Meg Handley of US News & World Report when I came across this sentence that really stuck out to me:

“The interesting thing about public relations is that every public relations professional is almost a brand unto themselves,” says Gary McCormick, 2010 chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America.

This is a basic concept that we learn in college but I think sometimes forget, I think–  especially entry level professionals, like me, who are working so hard at their companies that they might forget to make time to develop their own relationships, to build their own brand.

And, of course, building your brand will benefit you and also your company. It’s a win-win.

The author reminds PR professionals to “make yourself your own client.”

She says, “Start building a network of people in the industry through informational interviews and other career-related events.’First and foremost, it comes down to networking,’ says McCormick. ‘It’s really the cornerstone for what we do for clients and companies all the time.'”

I pledge to make more of an effort to treat myself like I’m my own client. In fact, I’ll go ahead and make that my New Year’s Resolution– you can make those in December, right?

 

 

Too much food

Like everyone else in this country, I’m sick of turkey. It’s a few days after Thanksgiving, and my kitchen isn’t the only place I have too much food on my plate. But I can’t. Stop. Eating.        Yum.

Work is also booming right now– we just had our first Black Friday Party for ShopTulsa — a project we are running that promotes  (you guessed it) shopping

The Engine Room ladies at the ShopTulsa Black Friday Party

locally. The coordinating for this event was a little crazy, but at the end of the night we had more than 200 attendees at Blue Dome Diner and gave away many thousands worth of prizes from local merchants! It’s so cool to see when all your hard work finally comes together. Oh yeah, and Isaac Hanson stopped by. Pretty cool!

With a photographer, live bands, and a Route 66 Photo Booth, I’m thinking it was a success.

And it’s far from over. This is an ongoing thing, and more people are getting involved. We’re already taking notes on ideas for next year.

This is just one of the many big projects I’ve been working on since I started work at The Engine Room and it’s been a blast. Super busy, but super awesome.

I might have a little too much food on my plate, but it’s delicious.

Foursquare Love Affair

Today, I joined Foursquare.

I know, I’m a little late for someone who wants to think of herself as an emerging “expert” in social media as a PR tool.

I knew Foursquare could be used to help businesses communicate with their clients/customers, and so I’ve understood a good deal of it’s marketing value. You can reward your loyal customers, make it easy for them to suggest your business to others, etc. It’s a great, organic way to grow and maintain your client base.

However, what I didn’t fully realize until today, is the ironic way that this social media tool actually drives you into real places, real events, real people.

With the boom of social media, critics preached that although people are networking more extensively, they are losing any meaningful contact with others. And to a significant degree, I think they were, and still are correct.

But Foursquare is different. Yes, every entry is recorded online in app-world, but the whole point of it is to encourage you to go out in your community, to get away from your computer and do something real.

Foursquare transforms our technology addiction from something that keeps us in our comfort zone, alone at our desk,  to a facilitator of face-to-face interaction, experience.

Foursquare is a perfect example of how social networking should be used– no, utilized.

Foursquare fulfills not only the PR/Marketing side of me, that wants to see as much of this positive communication between businesses and their audiences as possible, but it also inspires me to go enjoy my city and its people.

Foursquare, I think I love you.