Category Archives: Public Relations

Agency Tour Recap: Weber Shandwick

By: Madison Harmon

Recently, our chapter was given the grand tour of Weber Shandwick Detroit! It was inspiring, to say the least. We were guided by a relatively new employee and fairly recent graduate, Shelby. She made us feel welcome as we settled into a gorgeous meeting room. Weber Shandwick Detroit is a quintessential example of Detroit’s industrial past and its modern urbanity; sleek glass surfaces and espresso colored wood were in tasteful contrast to the exposed overhead ceilings and metal light fixtures. It looks like a television set designed by millennials come to life before my eyes. The pretty face of Weber Shandwick Detroit is matched by its talented and diligent personnel behind its walls. We got to meet several team members and leaders and ask questions and exchange information for quite a while. Here are the golden nuggets of what I learned:

  1. ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING! One team member said she would rather work with a person who is able to face a challenge with optimism rather than a person who might be great at the job but is awful to be around. So, keep your head up!
  2. REACH (FAR) OUT! Stretch those arms a little for that next handshake! As we all know, networking is everything. Another team member of Weber Shandwick Detroit encouraged us to reach out to professionals that we may only have one tiny connection with. So that could mean a mutual connection on Linked In, or that they just happen to have graduated from your school. Suggest meeting up for coffee and having an informational interview – people remember being in our undergraduate shoes, and are often happy to set time aside for someone looking to better themselves. Think about it! Showing the initiative to reach out and learn makes you look good all by itself!
  3. BE A SPONGE! Get as many experiences as possible. This doesn’t always have to be a rigid summer internship! Be creative; if you notice a small business in your hometown doesn’t have a large social media presence, offer your services to them pro bono. Don’t disappoint! Or write a blog in your free time; this serves you by enhancing your writing skills (practice makes perfect, 10,000 hour rule, etc.) and proving that you can operate a functional website. Learn everything you can from your peers, professors, and jobs.
Madison is a student and loves learning no matter what she’s doing. She is both an optimist and a realist, which gets a bit hard to maintain! She is independent and self-assured, both in her personal and professional potential, and in her ability to find the bottom of those supposedly bottomless chips and salsa. Petter of dog bellies, ruler of quips, Madison is sure to make you laugh whenever you’re around her (or cry, but don’t take it personally). Ask her for brutally honest opinions, but never for directions. Madison can be reached at mharmon3@emich.edu.
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#PRSSANC: Sports Public Relations with Nikki Barjon Recap

By Hope Salyer

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Source: NIUPRSSA

The amount of sessions at PRSSA National Conference can be overwhelming when trying to decide your schedule for the conference. This year’s sessions ranged from Sports Public Relations to Celebrity PR. I’ve decided to write a recap of the Sports Public Relations session with Nikki Barjon of The Barjon Group in Atlanta. Be sure to keep an eye on the EMU PRSSA blog for more session recaps from my fellow e-board members.

Barjon started the session with the energy of a walk-off home run in the final game of the World Series. Right from the start Barjon gave an honest, straight to the point presentation.

In the beginning of the session, Barjon told the audience that landing a job in sports is high-stakes, intense and not for the weak or fake. The industry is very cut-throat in today’s world, and it is easy to pick out those who can’t handle the stakes. As Barjon pointed out, you are working with multi-million dollar deals, and your client’s livelihood is at stake if you screw up.

Barjon said because of this, as a practitioner, it is your job to be your client’s coach. You have to constantly be thinking about the big picture: offense and defense. Barjon stated she can’t risk focusing only on offense because you never know when the other shoe is going to drop.

In the world of sports PR, practitioners also have to remember that they are working with a sort of celebrity PR as well. Practitioners have to always be nonjudgmental. You can’t risk or take the time to judge your client. You just need to figure out how to solve whatever problems you are presented with.

You also have to always remember to ask, “Is this what happened?” With celebrity PR, the old saying there are three sides to every story rings truer than ever. Barjon stated that she is always either one of two phone calls in a crisis situation: the first or the last. Ideally, Barjon says she should be the first; however, more times than not she is the last. In these types of situations, Barjon has to always ask if she is going to get the real story, or a dwindled down version. It is critical to ask this questions because as a practitioner, you can’t do your job to solve the problem and minimize the impact if you don’t have the whole story.

Barjon ended the session by stressing the importance of getting your own playbook. She said she is always surprised by the number of people who come up to her and tell her they want to be just like her. Barjon said no one is ever going to be her because every individual has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and passions and goals. What worked for Barjon to get where she is today is not going to work for someone else who doesn’t have her same skillsets or interests.

For this reason, Barjon says you need to get your own playbook. Find what you are interested in and what you are good at, and work your way up from there. What works for the Broncos is not going to work for the Lions, and the same goes for practitioners. Once you figure out what your passions are, don’t stop until you get what you want.

Barjon ended the session with one final piece of advise, and it stuck with me so well I wanted to end my blog with it as well. “Do what you need to do to win because losing sucks!”

Hope Salyer is a senior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Vice President of Special Events and Programming of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s second year serving for the PRSSA E-Board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency or local nonprofit in Michigan. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

4 Things I Learned from my PR Internship at Make-A-Wish

By Abby Cousineau

“School can teach you a lot, but nothing beats real-world experience.”

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Source: Abby Cousineau

I’m sure you have heard this phrase more than a few times in your life. And while it sounds cliché, there is a ring of truth to it.

This past summer, I spent my days working for an awesome non-profit, Make-A-WishÒ Michigan. While I learned a ton about PR and communications at a non-profit, here are the top four things I got out of my internship:

  1. Being a good writer is crucial

I can honestly say I wrote something every single day at my internship. Whether it was an email, a press release, a feature story or social media copy, it felt like I was literally always writing. At most non-profits, Make-A-Wish included, there is a small communications department that is responsible for pretty much everything PR/marketing related, so being a strong writer is important. You learn a lot of these writing skills in school, but nothing truly prepares you for your boss telling you she needs social media copy, a feature story and a press release by the end of the work day. Being able to write well, write quickly and being capable of taking one topic and translating it into multiple stories fit for different mediums is essential.

  1. Having solid research skills is almost as crucial as being a strong writer

During the summer, there were many times where I had to write about something I had no clue about. Being able to gather information and apply it to your project is a very good skill to have. Your boss will expect you to be able to find out what you need to complete the task on your own, and they will want you to be able to take that information and put it into something organized & clear.

  1. Event planning is tedious

Make-A-WishÒ Michigan puts on multiple fundraising events every year and I got to be part of & observe one of their largest events: the Wish-A-Mile Bike Tour. This event lasts three days, participants ride over 300 miles and there are multiple “mini” events that take place over the course of the weekend. I won’t get into the whole thing, but I got to see first-hand how event planning works at a non-profit. SO much goes into this process & it is extremely tedious. Communication between team members and extensive preparation has to be more than solid to pull off large-scale fundraising events. The weeks leading up to the Wish-A-Mile tour were hectic, but seeing everything come together in the end was truly magical and made all the stress feel worth it.

  1. If you want to work in PR, you have to be passionate about the company you work for

I think this is especially true if you choose to work for a non-profit, but working in PR in general can be exhausting. At my internship I saw my supervisors put in 15 hour days, push themselves physically and mentally for three days during the Wish-A-Mile Tour, and spend countless hours planning events, writing stories and working on design projects. PR can be draining, but if you work for a company you truly believe in it makes everything easier. There were a few times where I questioned why I was going to school for PR, but when I saw a kid get their wish granted, or talked to a parent on the phone and heard them cry about how grateful they were for the wish experience, it made me realize how powerful and meaningful the jobs we do every day really are.

Abby Cousineau is a senior at EMU majoring in public relations and minoring in graphic design and marketing. She is currently serving as president of EMU PRSSA and is excited to be leading such a creative and dedicated group of individuals. You can usually find Abby outside anytime the weather is nice or otherwise spending her time behind a computer screen, working on one of her design projects. Connect with Abby on Instagram @abcattt.

The Power of Pinterest for Businesses

By: Nicole Raymond

Everyone knows social media is extremely important for organizations to engage with consumers and draw attention to their business. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are some of the top performers when it comes to marketing through social media with millions of users, but many businesses overlook social media such as Pinterest.

Pinterest has seen exponential growth and marketing opportunities since its inception as a beta site in 2010, and it continues to grow and evolve as a strong social network. Let’s take a look at the features Pinterest has available for business and marketing uses.

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Source: Nicole Raymond

BUSINESS ACCOUNT

Pinterest has a business account to accommodate many types of businesses, large and small, for free. To sign up for a business account through Pinterest, users enter an email address, password, business name and an optional web address. Utilizing a business account instead of a personal account will allow the user to unlock more features that will help with marketing.

ANALYTICS

Overview:

When you sign up to Pinterest with a business account you have the ability to see your post analytics. You can track your Pinterest boards and pins to see how content is measuring up and which topics are the most popular with viewers. The analytics tab also allows you to see how many people your content has reached over average monthly viewers and monthly engagement rates. Pinterest analytics also allows you to connect your website through HTML code to see all of your pin analytics including click-through rates, saves and much more. At the bottom of the Pinterest Analytics page is your top impressions, saves, clicks and the pin type for the last 30 days.

Profile:

Analytics for your Pinterest profile will allow you to see your average daily impressions as well as average daily profile viewers through your own customizable timeframe. This will allow you to see how certain days and time frames work best for potential customers. The profile analytics page will also allow you to see the top impressions, clicks, saves and pin type of posts and boards within the last 30 days.

People You Reach:

This feature on Pinterest Analytics allows you to see your audiences and analyze the people that see and act on your pins through average monthly rates. The site further breaks down your audiences for you by country, metro, language and gender and even include this helpful hint for better analyzing data to better your business .

Helpful hint

Source: Nicole Raymond

ADS

Pinterest for Businesses has an advertisement feature that allows your business to pay for more users to view your pins. It also has, as you may have guesses, built in analytics for those ads. Ads create traffic and engagement to reach audiences, while allowing you to measure success, failures and compare the two. Pinterest Ads will also help you stay on top of all that needs to be done with reminders and other helpful notifications. The analytics will help you determine which pins are most popular so you can create content similar and drive more traffic to the right places.

Built-in analytics and ads to social media platforms continues to grow in popularity and Pinterest has all the tools needed for a successful promotion or advertising plan, in an easy to understand format. With the immense popularity of the site, I think the tools available will continue to help marketers of all sizes succeed in their Pinterest marketing efforts.

Nicole Raymond graduated from EMU in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and served as PRSSA’s VP of External Relations from 2016 to 2017. Raymond will be starting graduate school at Eastern Michigan University to get a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications.

Student and PR Pro Mixer April 13!

Want to network with PR professionals from the Detroit area AND win a free PRSA Detroit membership upon graduation? Come to the Student and PR Pro Mixer on Thursday, April 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. located at the Local Kitchen & Bar at 344 W. Nine Road in Ferndale, MI 48220. This event is free and will have complimentary appetizers and a cash bar. Please RSVP at www.PRSADetroit.org. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Skidmore at 248-545-6499 or nskidmore@earthlink.net.

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5 things I wish I had known before choosing public relations

By: Hope Salyer

Every day I’m in the Public Relations Program at Eastern Michigan University makes me love my decision to major in PR even more. However, there are a few things I wish I had known beforehand. Here are five things I wish I had known before choosing to major in PR.

  1. PR is not a 9 to 5 job.

If you want a 9 to 5 job, PR isn’t the best choice for you. Part of your responsibilities as a PR practitioner is to do what your client asks. This can mean attending events late into the evening, getting up early for a meeting, or waking up to a crisis at 2 a.m. Things happen every day, and as social media continues to expand, a crisis is bound to happen. It might not be as big as Donald Trump’s tweet at Boeing, but even a small crisis needs to be handled immediately. This means you need to be prepared to have unconventional, unexpected work hours.

  1. Networking is VITAL in this field!
live-books

Source: Live Books

Don’t get me wrong. Networking is important in every profession, however, it is one of the most important things to remember when joining the PR industry. Public relations is a growing industry for college graduates, but it is also a very competitive industry to break into. Having contacts to help you get into the field is so important. On the other hand, in order to get the best coverage and meet the goals of your client, you must have connections. PR is all about building mutually beneficial relationships. This means you need to build and maintain your relationship with journalists, and your client needs to build and maintain his or her relationship with the public. Having a network of professionals you can turn to when you need help is paramount in this industry.

  1. If you don’t love writing, PR probably isn’t for you.
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Source: Giphy

If you ask any PR  practitioner what the most important skill is for someone in the industry to have, I guarantee they will say strong writing skills. Writing is key in PR. If you can’t write a compelling pitch email free of grammatical and punctuation errors, you’re never going to get any media coverage for your client. Journalists are extremely busy, and they don’t have the time to decipher the message from a terrible pitch email. Additionally, every time you send out a press release, get quoted in the media, or click post on your client’s social media page, you represent that client and the company you work for. If you don’t have good writing skills, it’s going to be an embarrassment to everyone. Writing skills can be honed in on and perfected if you practice, but if you don’t enjoy writing, PR isn’t going to be enjoyable for you.

  1. Take advantage of the services and organizations offered to you.
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Source: PRSSA

As PR students, you have services and organizations to help you out. Taking part in organizations like PRSSA will help you build connections with professionals that you can use down the road for job interviews, references or contacts in the field. It’s better to start using these opportunities now than to not know where to go when you need them after you graduate.

  1. Know that you will almost always get asked what PR is.
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Source: Giphy

If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me what PR is and what PR practitioners do, I would be a millionaire. When you tell someone you’re going to school for PR, it will become second nature to you to explain to them what PR actually is, and what PR practitioners do on a day-to-day basis. On the off chance that someone does know what PR is, they are probably going to say something about spending your time covering up mistakes or planning parties. While yes, planning events is oftentimes part of a PR campaign, and sometimes a crisis will happen that you need to handle (by being truthful and honest about the situation rather than covering it up or lying about it) most people don’t understand the actual purpose of PR. PR is all about building mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders. This could be between a client and his or her publics, a PR practitioner and a journalist, or a client and his or her employees. A PR practitioner’s job is to communicate information on behalf of the client. Sometimes, that is through hosting a fun event, and other times it’s by sending out a press release.

These are just a few things I wish I had known before choosing PR. Not a day goes by that I regret my decision, and I know that PR is the absolute right choice for me. What are some things you wish you had known before choosing PR or choosing your major in general? Let us know in the comments below!

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-Board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

 

PR from a royal point of view: Q&A with journalist Princess Gabbara

By: Anissa Gabbara

“I don’t write articles. I tell stories.” These are the words of a young and talented journalist Princess Gabbara, who just so happens to be my sister.

princess

Courtesy Photo

Princess graduated from Eastern Michigan University back in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Since graduating from college, she’s been on a roll with bylines in Ebony, Essence, Jet and Sesi magazine, and stories picked up by People.com and Huffingtonpost.com. She currently writes for the Lansing State Journal as the “Things-To-Do-Reporter.” I guess you can say she’s in her prime.

What’s interesting is that as close as we are as sisters, our career choices are known to sometimes bump heads—with her being a journalist, and me being an aspiring PR practitioner. It makes for interesting conversation from time to time, but it’s informational more than anything. We’re constantly learning and seeking advice from one another to better ourselves within our fields. With me still being a student, I learn a great deal from hearing about her experiences with PR practitioners, and it’s always interesting to hear things from her perspective as a journalist. To learn more, I sat down with my sister to gain a better understanding of how the relationship between a PR practitioner and a journalist should function. This is PR from a royal point of view:

Why is it important for PR practitioners to maintain good relationships with journalists and vice versa?

It’s very important for journalists and PR practitioners to maintain good relationships with each other because it benefits both parties in the long run. From a journalist’s perspective, I have kept in touch with many PR practitioners long after the first story we worked on and they continue to be great sources of information as they still pitch me interesting stories from time to time. I see it as a win-win because I get to tell a great story and they get an opportunity to promote their client and/or company.

How do you maintain good relationships with PR practitioners?

One of the best ways to maintain good relationships with PR practitioners is to keep in touch even when you’re not working on a story. Simply checking in and saying hello via email or Twitter can work wonders. However, it’s important to let this happen naturally. Of course, you may not “click” with every single publicist who comes your way, but it makes sense to build on what’s already there naturally.

What’s a good pitch to you? 

A good pitch is something that excites me. So many publicists pitch their clients to be considered for an upcoming profile, but there are a million business owners, makeup artists and fitness experts out there. What’s unique about your client? Spell it out in your pitch. This is key! As journalists, we write hundreds of stories. We want to cover topics that interest us and our readers. Write your pitch so that we cannot say no.

When has a PR practitioner come to the rescue?

Not too long ago, I received an email from my editor asking me to put together a holiday gift guide featuring 40-plus items along with photos. I only had 10 or 11 days to pull this off! After narrowing down the list of items, I was responsible for communicating with more than 40 PR reps to secure a photo for every single gift featured in the guide. If not for the cooperation from the PR reps, the gift guide would not have been possible. Prompt responses were crucial since we were pushing up against a very tight deadline. All of the PR reps I worked with definitely came to the rescue during this short amount of time.

When writing a story, how heavily do you rely on a PR practitioner to get you what you need, when you need it?

Whenever I’m writing a new piece, I tend to communicate most with the publicist when scheduling the interview with their client, sending any follow-up questions, running the client’s quotes pass him or her for review and approval only if the publication requires it, and sharing the completed article when it goes live. To be honest, when PR practitioners are on top of their game, there isn’t the need for lots of emailing back and forth.

Many people believe that there is friction between journalists and PR practitioners. Is it true or is it just a myth?

I think it’s a bit exaggerated. Sure, journalists and PR practitioners work with different goals in mind, but I can honestly say that I have maintained positive relationships with most of the publicists I’ve worked with over the years. Of course, there are some who will ask to see the entire story before it runs. In that case, you simply explain that you are unable to do so, but it’s important for both the journalist and PR practitioner to be mindful of each other’s needs and to meet each other somewhere in the middle.

As a professional journalist, can you give any advice to PR practitioners regarding pitching journalists?

Shorter is better. Sometimes, I receive pitches that are two pages long. We live in a fast-paced world and we’re all doing a million things at any given time. Journalists need to be able to read through and understand the pitch in less than a minute. It’s a known fact that employers only spend 30 seconds reading a candidate’s resume to know whether they’re interested. Publicists should take that same approach when pitching journalists. Also, an attention-grabbing opener never hurts.

Read Princess’ work by visiting her site or follow her on Twitter @PrincessGabbara.

Anissa Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a double minor in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the vice president of public relations on EMU PRSSA’s E-Board. She has an interest in celebrity PR and hopes to one day work with some of the biggest names and corporations in the entertainment world. She plans to hone her craft while becoming a valuable source of information to others. You can follow her on Twitter @AnissaGabbara.