Why you should offer your PR skills to a nonprofit

By: Katie Gerweck

Source: blog.moredonors.com

Source: blog.moredonors.com

Last week my fellow eboard member Natalie Burns wrote about her summer internship experience, and the lessons she learned there. Although internships are a great way to gain experience, they’re not the only way to practice your PR skills! Volunteering at a nonprofit can be a great way to work with social media, practice writing, and make a difference- all at the same time.

For example, I just spent the last two weeks helping a small nonprofit add content to their website and Facebook page. I’ve been volunteering with this organization, an all-volunteer animal welfare nonprofit, since last September, and I knew none of the volunteers had much time to work on social media. Since I had some free time this August, I offered to step in and see what I could do.

The website hadn’t been updated since 2013, and the Facebook page was only updated sporadically. But after some hard work, the website’s content is concise, clear, and up-to-date…and I learned so much doing it! Working on the website gave me more experience working in WordPress, and I learned some new tricks along the way. I got to write more, and brainstorm ideas on what content people would want to see. I also worked on scheduling consistent and engaging content on Facebook, which was fun and informative. I looked at what content had done well in the past, and studied Insights to see when our audience tends to be online.

Although I brainstormed with others in the organization about the kind of content we needed, when it came to the technical stuff I was on my own, and it really pushed me to learn and improve. I’m looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to the changes, and learning from that as well. Volunteering your time and PR skills at a nonprofit can be a great learning experience, and it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Katie Gerweck is a senior majoring in public relations with a minor in journalism. She is the editor-in-chief for EMU PRSSA, and also works as a copy editor for the Eastern Echo. She was the copy chief for the Echo during the summer of 2015.

A taste of the real world: lessons learned from a summer internship

By: Natalie Burns

Source: accuratebodylanguage.com

Source: accuratebodylanguage.com

The majority of the year, Michigan is frigid cold. We trudge through heavy snow and dangerously drive into blizzards and ice storms. Many of us wait all year for the beautiful summer that Michigan brings. Summer is amazing. Beaches, sand dunes, weddings, sunshine, bike rides, and pool parties bring bronzed skin and gratified faces. Although I missed out on a lot of summer festivities this summer, I wear a smile across my face because I gained hands-on experience as a Development Intern at SOS Community Services.

From my experience to yours, I want to share what I learned as a summer intern, so that maybe you can take something away from it too.

Open Communication

SOS Community Services is a non-profit organization based out of Ypsilanti. At SOS, they are dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness. This organization in particular promotes housing stability and family self-sufficiency through collaboration, care and respect (source). The SOS team is all about open communication. My first week as an intern was rocky because during orientation and training, I wasn’t open about my capabilities and strengths. Although they had a guideline of what I was able to do, I wasn’t vulnerable enough to prove that I really had what it took to be a good intern. It took a few weeks to get adjusted, but after several meetings, my walls were down, and I was able to communicate with both the director and the coordinator about what I really wanted to get out of the internship. Many places, just like SOS, are giving you a chance to prove you are worth having on board. You need to be honest and open about what you want.

Gaining Trust

Piggybacking off of open communication, gaining trust will go a long way. If you are a great writer, then prove it! If you are organized and well spoken, prove that too! Public relation professionals are about image, so create one! You don’t have to be great at everything. I got bored with posting social media, so I spent extra time on revamping articles for the newsletters. They seemed impressed with my articles, so I wrote more. Whatever I lacked at, I asked questions about. I tried to prove that I could be trusted by completing projects, listening, and always being willing to go the extra mile.

Working as Team vs. Working Alone

You will continue to hear this more and more the closer you get to graduation. It is a requirement that you may think is taken lightly, but it’s not. In PR, you absolutely must know how to work both in a team and alone. If you are a perfectionist, you have to learn to let things slide if the other person is not. If you do not play nice with others, you might want to consider a field that doesn’t involve people! In many ways, I try to be a chameleon. I get along with most people, and over time, I have learned to pick my battles. It wasn’t hard at SOS because the staff I worked with were friendly, kind, flexible, and helpful. But for some, it is not so easy. You also must learn to manage your time alone. I quickly learned when it was appropriate to take a break and use my phone, and when it was time to focus and work.

Breaking Out of Your Shell

One of the greatest gifts that I take with me from this internship is being humble. Having gained the trust of my director, she put me in charge of all the silent auction items for their biggest fundraising event in October called “The Road to Home.” I had to call organizations and businesses and ask for donations, something I had never done. Of course no one likes rejection, but I was persistent, and in the end my humility brought me farther then I would have ever imagined.

So this is what an internship is all about! What you put in is exactly what you will get out. I am grateful for SOS Community Services providing me with exactly the experience I needed. I may not have enjoyed the warm sand on my toes like I wanted to, but in the end, I received so much more.

Natalie Burns is a public relations major and marketing minor. Her writing, communication, and multitasking skills have allowed her to do especially well in her field. She has an outgoing, bubbly personality. Natalie is currently a public relations intern at SOS Community Services in downtown Ypsilanti. She is also Chief Financial Officer of PRSSA. Connect with her via Twitter @burns_natalie and Instagram @natattack03. Follow her blog at natalierb.wordpress.com.

How traveling made me a better communicator

By: Andrea Mellendorf

Photo provided by: Andrea Mellendorf

Photo provided by: Andrea Mellendorf

I recently studied public relations in the United Kingdom for a month on a study abroad program through the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. My home base during the program was Regent’s University in London. However, I and many of my classmates used our weekends to travel to other parts of Europe. Besides being able to do cool tourist things and see new places, traveling helped strengthen my communication skills and confidence, and here are a few reasons why:

1. Being in a new place keeps you humble and challenges your confidence.

No matter what country I was in, it was new to me. Having to ask for directions and trust the locals to give you good advice serves as a good reminder that no matter how much travel experience you have or how confident you are in your sense of direction, you are still in a new and strange place and you have to rely on people who know the area better than yourself to help you survive. While keeping you humble, traveling simultaneously builds your communication confidence because you become more and more comfortable with stepping outside of your comfort zone, talking to new people and asking lots of questions.

2. Speaking clearly and articulately is really important.

Have you ever seen this video that shows how English sounds to non-native speakers? Well that is a really good representation of what it’s like to be a non-native speaker trying to keep up in a conversation. Even knowing a good bit of the German language, sometimes the friends I stayed with in Germany would talk so quickly that even if I could recognize words, I could not piece together the whole message being communicated. Experiencing this made me aware of how quickly we native English speakers talk to each other, and helped me to speak much more clearly when talking to my German friends and other people I met who were not native English speakers.

3. Not everyone speaks the same language as you, and it takes patience to overcome that.

I used to be a German language minor here at EMU, and I have studied the language for six years. However, I am nowhere near fluent. Many Germans speak wonderful English, but that doesn’t mean that communicating across that language barrier is easy. During my time in Germany, I learned valuable lessons about speaking clearly and articulately and also having patience. In the same way, the people that I spoke to in German had patience with me as I worked to sharpen my German language skills during my time in Frankfurt.

As a future public relations practitioner, strong communication skills are crucial for my career. Just like many other life experiences, traveling helped to continue to strengthen my communication skills, but I know that these are by no means the last lessons I will learn in regards to communication. If you ever find yourself traveling to a new place or a place where people do not necessarily speak the same language as you, I challenge you to consider the lessons that I learned and also keep your mind open to learn lessons of your own throughout your experience.

Andrea Mellendorf is a junior at Eastern Michigan University and serves at the Vice President of Special Events and Programs for EMU PRSSA.

Four reasons you should follow PR In Your Pajamas

By: Rachel Dwornick

Source: depaulmediarelations.com

Source: depaulmediarelations.com

We all know following career blogs are important, but finding blogs that are interesting and will be useful in your career can be difficult. Here are four reasons I believe you should follow the blog PR In Your Pajamas.

1.  Tips and Tricks
PR in Your Pajamas is a great resource for finding tips and tricks to use in your career, like how to write press releases or why your company needs a Pinterest account. This is important for anyone looking for new ideas to try out at work. One of the main reasons I love PR In Your Pajamas is because of the tips and tricks blogs they post. They are always informative and helpful.

2.  College, college, college
There couldn’t be a better time than in college to start following PR In Your Pajamas. They post advice on how to get internships and important lessons college classes don’t teach you. PR In Your Pajamas is a great learning tool for any PR major.

3. Updates
If you ever need to find new ways to use social media or learn how PR is changing, PR In Your Pajamas is a great tool. They give great advice on how to use social media in the 21st century and other ways PR is evolving. This is important for anyone wanting to continue to grow and expand his or her education even after graduation.

4. More Than PR
While PR In Your Pajamas is a great blog and tool for any PR major, it is also great for any college student or entrepreneur. They provide useful tips and tricks that anyone could use. PR In Your Pajamas is all around a great blog to follow.

Rachel Dwornick is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a minor in communications. She holds the position of Member Relations in PRSSA and is an active member of Alpha Xi Delta. Follow her on Twitter at @racheldwornick.

Internship: SOS Community Services

SOS Community Services, a community-based nonprofit serving Washtenaw County, is looking for a development intern.

The Development Intern will assist the development department. Responsibilities include but are not limited to: assisting in the planning of SOS Community Services events, assisting with marketing campaigns and social media updates, creating and maintaining documents, engaging with volunteers, serving as a SOS representative in the community, and providing administrative support.

Requirements:

– College students pursuing a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in marketing, public relations, communications, nonprofit management, or a related field
-Strong written and oral communications. Public speaking skills a plus
– Proficiency in all Microsoft Office programs
-Prior experience or dedication to fundraising/development projects preferred
-Attention to detail and organizational skills
-Must attend accredited college or university

The Development Intern is currently an unpaid position. A commitment of 10 – 12 hours per week for a minimum of 12 weeks is required along with the ability to help with occasional weekend or night events. Intern must have their own transportation.

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter explaining their interests, resume and additional materials if applicable to Chelsea Brown at chelseab@soscs.org.

Internship: ZF North America

ZF North America, one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world,  is looking for a corporate communications intern for its fall internship. It is a part-time paid position. To learn about the position’s responsibilities and required skills, and to apply,  click here.

Deadline: Monday, August 24

Tips to improve your writing speed

By: Katie Gerweck

Source: psychologytoday.com

Source: psychologytoday.com

It happens to everyone. You sit down, determined to write a great press release or blog post. But as much as you try, the words just won’t come out the way you want them to, and you struggle to organize your thoughts into a coherent message. It can be hard to write quickly, which is a problem- especially in public relations, where the turnaround on papers can be very short. Luckily, there are ways you can improve your writing speed and get the words flowing.

1. Get your ideas on paper

Too often, we’re so caught up in writing the perfect sentence or paragraph that all we can do is stare at a blank Word Document. When this happens, it can be helpful to simply put all of your thoughts on paper, even if it isn’t perfect yet. Getting all of the half-formed ideas and phrases out of your head and out in front of you can make it easier to organize your thoughts and gives you something to build on. Which leads us to…

2. Outline

An often-suggested method to improve writing speed is outlining your ideas. Having a framework for your ideas makes writing easier because you won’t have to stop after a paragraph and ask yourself where you’re going with it- you’ll already know, because it’s written down. Outlines also help keep your papers to-the-point and flowing smoothly.

3. Practice!

The most obvious way to get better at writing quickly is to write often. The more you practice, the more naturally writing will come, and the faster you will get. You can even set a timer to force yourself to work on a deadline, and see how quickly you can type up a press release- then try again to beat your old time. (You’ll be happy you did when you’re asked to do a timed writing test at a job interview!)

If you don’t overthink it and can organize your thoughts, you’ll find that putting a paper together becomes much easier and with practice you’ll be able to write much more quickly and efficiently.

Source: 10 Simple Ways to Double the Speed of Your Writing … Right Now

Katie Gerweck is a senior majoring in public relations with a minor in journalism. She is the editor-in-chief for EMU PRSSA, and also works as a copy editor for the Eastern Echo. She was the copy chief for the Echo during the summer of 2015.