Last week, I worked at my AHPR’s client event. I excited that the account was close an end for this year. Now that I reflect upon it, I’m realizing that through all the frustration, hard work, unpaid time, etc. – it was all worth it.
As the account supervisor, it was a challenge to balance and manage client relations, agency-to-agency relations and student team management. I was really excited in the beginning of the school year when I was assigned this account, but gradually got discouraged to the point where all three aspects were hitting low points, in terms of demand and feedback. However, looking back – I believe I did a great job in handling difficult situations and learning to maintain good relationships with everyone.
These are my key takeaways:
- Do not take anything personally: I’ve developed a much thicker skull from receiving constant criticism. In the beginning, I took it to heart. But now, I realize that everyone is just trying to find the best way to approach a strategy or situation. What comes out of one person’s mouth that may seem hurtful or an attack on me, may just be the way another works and deals with situations.
- Speak your mind: I provided my client pieces of advice throughout the year. Because I was a student, I was filtering myself out in the beginning to pick and choose the advice given, as well as downplaying the advice. Towards the end, I started speaking my mind and letting my client know what I thought would and wouldn’t work. I began to see a higher sense of respect from my client for being honest and transparent in my consultation. Though I still have little experience compared to the working world, I have value.
- A team needs building: I wish I planned team building activities outside our weekly agency meetings. The team didn’t know me or each other, and I didn’t know them. It was until recent that I found out about issues within the team. No one brought it to my attention, and everyone seemed fine and happy at meetings and in e-mails. When the issue occurred, it came down to mainly one thing – we didn’t know how one or the other worked. In a student-run agency, turn around is so high that we often don’t get a chance to ramp-up fully on our clients and teams. We’re diving right into the work. I’d recommend that team leaders start by setting aside outside time with each team member individually and as a team to get to know each other for a more effective working environment.
- It’s about the client, not you: Agencies working together often bump heads. In the past, AHPR and the University of Oregon’s student-run advertising agency have run into several “powerhouse” problems. It was my goal to really mend the relations between the two organizations to work for the same goal (since we had one shared account – the one I was working on). Though I had some issues (mainly related to communication) with them throughout the year, I always put relationship maintenance first and was able to overcome them. I’m sure the strategy is different in every situation, but as two student-run groups on campus – maintaining good relations is number one for future students. It worked out good in the end, where both teams did an awesome job.
To show off some of the success of my team’s public relations campaign for our client, here’s some of the coverage we received from our efforts:
- The Oregonian: Before and After
- The Register-Guard
- Portland Business Journal
- Oregon Daily Emerald
- Business Wire (The press release was picked up by Reuters!)
I’d have to say that I learned the most about myself as a person and public relations professional working in AHPR in all my college experiences. I would also highly recommend anyone to join a student-run agency, if his or her school has one. Otherwise – start one. The experience I received is so valuable, and I can take it anywhere with me.
I’m a bit embarrassed about being away for so long, but with finals and moving – time seems to be a little tight.
I don’t know if it is that I am phasing out of the school and into the career mode, but I’ve done a little reflecting and have come up with a couple of great tips for students that are still studying public relations or communication.
These are the tips:
Be Involved: It doesn’t mean you need to join every club on campus, but it means you should involve yourself in both class and any outside experience. It allows you to engage in conversations, learn from your peers, learn from your professors and learn more about yourself.
Be Proactive: You are responsible for where you go in life. Being proactive is a way to stand out from the crowd, take initiative and get noticed. You end up making your career path, instead of letting others define it for you.
Be Positive/Optimistic: A good attitude is the key to success in any task or job. Having this characteristic sets you apart to show others your work ethic. There may be days where everything goes wrong, but a good attitude can pick you up so it doesn’t interfere with your homework and works.
Be Detail-Oriented: Paying attention to little details shows your professors and peers that you care and put full effort into what you do. You may not be the best at everything, but details will show that you try.
Be Passionate: If you have passion in what you do, everyone will be able to see it. It shows that you give 100 percent into everything. It will reflect on your work, personality and professionalism as a learning and growing public relations or communication student.
Let me just share some great news with everyone. I recently was offered a spring internship with Waggener Edstrom, which I ecstatically excepted (yay!). But this is not the point of my post.
During the interviewing process, every person I talked to emphasized the importance being skillful at e-mail in every angle. People probably usually think: E-mail, really? Isn’t it just sending a message? Isn’t it just another communication tool?
Yes, no and no. Yes, it is sending a message and it is another communication tool, but it definitely is not something that gets a “just.” For my generation, e-mail began as a fun way to connect with friends, which it still is. But now, it also is a tool for effectively communicating in a business, an industry and with clients and building relationships, especially for PR.
Brian Zafron’s post on Freelance Switch gives great tips for successfully learning the “art of e-mail.” Some of my favorites include: “brand with a meaningful subject line,” “don’t be a pompous jerk” and “brevity is key.” I’d like to add one to the list – manage your responses.
Here are my tips to managing your responses:
- Organize your e-mail inbox into folders. You can stick e-mails you’ve responded to and ones you don’t need to respond to in the folders, so you can focus on the e-mails that need action. The uncategorized ones stay within the general inbox as a constant reminder for responding.
- Flag e-mails by category. Microsoft Outlook and Entourage (not too familiar with Mozilla’s Thunderbird) allow you to color code flag e-mails. Flagging signifies that the e-mail is important, and the color signifies the category or importance (you can choose the one that fits you best – everyone works a little differently) of the e-mail. Plus, you can pull up all the flagged e-mails at once.
- Respond to important e-mails immediately. The business world (and society) is extremely fast-paced, and for anything important, you must respond immediately. Even if you need to do a little more research, a simple – I will research and get back to you within 24 hours – will go a long way. Just don’t forget to actually get back to the person. It keeps the person informed and helps him or her know what is going on. It’s active communication.
- Respond to not-as-important e-mails eventually. I would say the rule of thumb for responding to an e-mail is within 24 hours (probably 48-72 hours, if you get at least 200 e-mails a day). But this is only for e-mails that can be given some time before you respond.
- Learn your e-mailers preferences. If he or she says – get back to me in the next day or two – you better get back within a day or two. Once you begin building relationships with the people you constantly e-mail, you’ll get to know how they work.
- ALWAYS set up an automated response when you are out-of-town or out-of-commission and give another contact for immediate needs. It helps the person on the other side to know that they need to contact someone else, in the case of emergency.
These tips and Zafron’s tips are great starting points to writing and managing e-mails. Everyone works a little differently when it comes to organizing and writing. Start here and begin finding your ways to being a successful e-mailer.
Do you have any other tips for the PRos?
Everyone has his or her own tricks to overcoming or avoiding the common cold. For many, Airborne was the answer. In 2006, an ABC report sparked a lawsuit against Airborne on false advertising. Today, media are reporting that a $23.3 million settlement for refunding consumers has been made. Here are my thoughts on the good and bad things Airborne did in reacting to the allegations.
- Responded immediately
- Providing refunds – although consumers must show receipts
- Revised Airborne Web site and packaging immediately to respond to “deceptive” wording
- The health hotline gives consumers a place to ask questions about the product. I haven’t called it, but the concept shows that the company is listening and answering. It’s especially critical that Airborne directed consumers to physicians about further medical inquiries.
- Airborne trusted and promoted inadequate research studies. They should have renounced it as good evidence, once it was found that the trials were not run by scientists, doctors, etc.
- Airborne is not taking responsibility of the false advertising. If the company is settling the lawsuit with refunds, it should not continue to deny any wrongdoing. It was a matter of ethics, and by not owning up, the company will always face the false advertising as an issue. Instead, Airborne should make itself accountable and move forward from there. It shows integrity and transparency.
I believe that in a situation like this, it is important for a company to face it, deal with it, be honest and then move on. It keeps everything simple and saves the image of the company by reflecting its values for its consumers and stakeholders.
* Image courtesy of Airborne.
1986. Generation Y. I’ve grown up in a fast-paced, ambitious world. At least, this is one perspective. I’ve also grown up in a value-minded, integrity-oriented environment.
Marshall Goldsmith talked to Eric Chestler, president of Generation Why, about generation Y individuals in the workplace. Personally, I find Chestler’s comments a little negative about the development and values my peers and I have. It may be that I am coming from the perspective of someone in generation Y; it may be that my parents brought me up to work hard for what I want out of life; and it may be that I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But for what it is worth, I think my generation is a little misunderstood.
This is what I’ve seen:
- Many of us are hard workers for the issues and tasks we care about.
- Many of us study all night just to do well on a test.
- Many of us thin ourselves out with activities just to stand out a little more than the other job candidate.
- Many of us work and study, just to alleviate college loans.
- Many of us work unpaid internships and jobs to get the experience required by employers.
I’m not saying everyone in my generation is hard working because I think every generation has individuals that take short-cuts. In fact, I’ve come across peers that join organizations without putting any work in just to stack their resumes. There is some truth to Chestler’s words. I just want to give my view as someone who doesn’t fully categorize herself with the description given.
However, it’s good to know that employers are feeling this way about us. It makes me work harder to prove myself worthy of each position I hold.
Getting Ink has done it again – another great post with more great tips. As students training for the professional PR world, my peers and I can use a little help with getting coverage for a client. Getting Ink’s post features tips from the perspective of a journalist on doing so. I think learning from a journalist is extremely valuable for PR students because it gives us the opportunity to strategically get media to cover our stories.
A couple weeks ago, I had my AHPR team update the media list. I cannot emphasize how important it is to do this. After compiling the list, each team member called the media outlets to obtain updated lead times, reporter/editor preferences for sent materials and publication general preferences. We found that some smaller town publications only covered local news. By local, it meant that only anything within the town’s limits, nothing in the bigger city right next to it.
See, when we were creating the list, we thought it would be great to include the little suburb cities on the outskirts of a large one. For some publications, it was fine because they still found it relevant (see tip 9 of Getting Ink); however, for others, it did not want anything outside of its own city. So, what did we do? We listened and understood. We pulled those publications out of the media list so we don’t waste our time or the publications’ times.
So, here is my 11th tip to add to the 10 on the Getting Ink post:
Research and communicate with the media before sending press kits and other collateral materials. Going through and updating the media list is a great way to organize yourself and your team and increase the success rate of your media coverage.