Tag Archives: tools for PR practitioners

The Skimm makes reading the news…enjoyable?

By: Abby Cousineau

the-skimm-1

Source: theskimm.com

I’m not talking about celebrity or entertainment reporting, I’m talking about the hard, stone-cold facts in the daily news presented in a way that’s actually not boring.

As a public relations student, one thing that has been drilled in my head over and over again is the importance of reading the news. Public relations professionals have to be up to date with current events and trends in order to communicate relevant and newsworthy information to the public. If you are anything like me though, reading the news can be a real bummer, especially when you are pretty much required to skim through the headlines before your morning cup of coffee is even finished. I have found that staying current by reading the news is one of the hardest things for me to do, since I usually don’t have much interest in reading the often dull and depressing “breaking stories.” Checking Twitter and Facebook for my daily dose of news is also a no-go, since I will most definitely get caught up reading updates from my friends and scrolling through random memes and cute animal videos. I was at the point where I thought I would just have to suck it up and get over my hatred for the headlines, but then I discovered  the Skimm.

The Skimm is an email newsletter publisher, which delivers popular news to its subscribers’ email on the morning of each business day. The thing about the Skimm is that what ends up in your inbox isn’t just a copy-and-paste version of a news story, but instead a shortened version that is written in a conversational style so it’s actually fun to read. Yep, that’s right…news that is fun to read!

the-skimm-2

Source: theskimm.com

the-skimm-3

Source: theskimm.com

The company, created by Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, is specifically targeted at women ages 22-34 and has over 4 million subscribers. Not only is the Skimm owning up to their catch phrase of “making it easier for you to be smarter,” but they are also doing some significant work. According to a  NY Mag article, the company is responsible for getting a staggering 95,000 women registered to vote, and their partnership with Rock the Vote actually got more than 110,000 subscribers to register in total. It’s no secret that millennials have a hard time making it to the polls, but the Skimm, which specifically targets this demographic, got thousands of them to sign up. How did they do it? Pretty much the same way they get their subscribers to read the daily news, by breaking down the election into a simple, easy-to-read format and conveying the information in an impartial and interesting way.

Obviously, this company has it down. They know their audience well and they know what they are doing. I never thought news could be so interesting, and I sure am happy that somebody found a way to do it. All I’m saying is that I no longer wake up dreading my time spent scrolling the headlines, I actually wake up and look forward to reading through the news. Staying current just got a little bit easier, and who doesn’t like making their life a little easier?

Abby Cousineau is a junior at EMU majoring in public relations and minoring in graphic design and marketing. Abby is currently serving her first year on EMU PRSSA E-board as social media director. She was drawn to social media because it allows her to merge her passions of writing and design. You can usually find her outside any time the weather is nice, or exploring the Ann Arbor restaurant scene. Connect with Abby on Instagram @abcattt.

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The usefulness of online portfolios

Source: Design Web Identity

Source: Design Web Identity

Online portfolios are a great tool for PR students to have. Having an online portfolio allows potential employers to see all of your work. It’s also an way to keep track of everything you do. As a student, you can put up your best PR class work.

Online portfolios is also an easy way to submit work samples. You can simply direct them to your site where they can view all of your work. The portfolio site should an include an bio with a resume/experiences, contact information and social media profiles. The url address should be a variation of your legal name, its commonly the first and last name.

Sites that can be useful for creating a portfolio site is WordPress or Wix. Be sure to keep your site updated with your most current work.

How a Clandestine Copy of Photoshop Enhanced My Career

(courtesy of accxess.com)

When I was 18, a friend gave me the holy grail of software: a bootlegged copy of Photoshop. For a broke college kid looking for something fun to do that was also creative, this was the perfect gift.  My whole life, I felt my creativity bubbling below the surface. Unfortunately for my parent’s fridge, all I had to offer was renderings of stick figures.

As I grew older, I gravitated towards writing as an outlet for my creativity. I chose to major in public relations at my older sister’s urging (she is also an EMU graduate with a degree in PR. Go figure.). Public relations allowed me an outlet to use and improve my writing skills with the idea of actually getting paid (eventually!). But my creativity wasn’t getting enough use and I still felt like I hadn’t reached my full potential — until Photoshop.

As soon as the program was loaded on my computer, it was like the universe created a new galaxy just for me: the galaxy where I could actually create images! My roommate was very excited. We both had LiveJournal accounts, and all of the sudden I had a program that was able to create LAYERS. The sad-looking icons I had been building pixel-by-pixel in MS Paint were no more. I was able to take her wildest JPEG dreams and make them a reality. Soon, she had folders upon folders of magical looking images, icons, and backgrounds. When she’d get tired of them, I’d whip up more. I was the GIF Willy Wonka of the Phelps dorms at Eastern, creating multiple images and icons for anyone who asked.

It wasn’t long before I taught myself HTML. I was tired of the same generic layout everyone had using LiveJournal. I had dabbled in HTML when I was in high school because I was determined to have a Geocities website. (My dabble lasted about two weeks.) I told myself I had a history with HTML and I’d be able to figure it out with no problems.

Big mistake.

I trashed my entire account. I didn’t know what tags were, had no idea what I was deleting, and ended up with something that had no words, huge images and a curser that looked like a horse. A few hours of tweaking, Googling and reading later, I had figured it out and had a site that looked RIGHT and, most importantly, different from everyone else! It was one of my proudest moments.

Through the rest of my college career, I remained fixated on Photoshop and the interesting things I could create. It never occurred to me that it was something I could study. When I was 21, beginning my first “big-girl” job, I realized what a valuable skill I had. I was able to create graphics, layouts, brochures and invitations for the nonprofit I worked for, allowing them to save money.  During my third year at that job, the entire 800 page (yes, 800 page) website was redone. It was my duty to accomplish this, while creating new graphics and images.

Now, I find myself working for a new nonprofit in Oakland County. A huge part of my job is creating collateral materials like fliers, posters and booklets. If I didn’t have the graphic design skills, I wouldn’t have this job. If I were still in college, I wouldn’t change my major; I’d still be a self-taught designer. I wasn’t trying to follow along with an exercise from a book, with other talented designers in a classroom, I was making funny images, backgrounds and greeting cards long before LOLcatz or Etsy were around.

I have since purchased my own legitimate copy of the Adobe Suite.

Susan Aumiller
Community Relations Coordinator
HAVEN

Susan Aumiller

Susan Aumiller graduated from Eastern Michigan University in December 2006, with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She is currently the Community Relations Coordinator for HAVEN.  She is responsible for managing public relations efforts, social media, graphic design, public speaking engagements, and events for the nationally-recognized nonprofit. Prior to working at HAVEN, Susan worked for Lutheran Social Services of Michigan. 

Susan also maintains a blog called Suze Geeks Out, and is a freelancer for many individuals and organizations throughout the Midwest.

Susan lives in Ann Arbor with her husband (also an EMU graduate with a degree in public relations) and two co-dependent cats, Ruckus and Loafy. She loves writing, especially when it’s a third-person bio. She is currently writing her first novel. Follow Susan on twitter at @redheaded.

Gina’s Top Ten for Building an Amazing LinkedIn Profile

Photo Courtesy of blog.hubspot.com

Why is it important for students to have a LinkedIn account? It’s important because LinkedIn is the ultimate business social networking tool right now. With over 100 million users all with the same purpose-making business connections-you can’t afford to not have an account.

Here are my top ten steps for building a great LinkedIn profile:

1. Create the account via www.linkedin.com.

2. Be sure to customize your LinkedIn website URL (ex. LinkedIn.com/in/yourname). Remember, you are a brand, so it’s important to promote yourself. Plus, it makes it easier for others to find you.

3. Display an appropriate profile photo. LinkedIn is a business social networking tool – it’s not Facebook. Select a professional, high-quality headshot of you alone. If you can’t afford to have one taken, then ask a friend to help you. Remember to wear professional clothing.

4. Show off your education. Include information from all the educational institutions you’ve earned degrees from. If you have an Associate’s degree put it in, if you have a Bachelor’s from a different university or even from a different time, include it. Be sure to denote your major and minor if you have one, as well as highlights of your activities. It’s also appropriate to include study abroad programs and summer institutes. LinkedIn is where you need to show off what you’ve done. Include accomplishments such as:

  • strong GPA
  • study abroad
  • organizations you belong to, esp. professional ones (like PRSSA)
  • honors, awards, scholarships
  • internships within your field of study

5. Write a keyword-rich description of yourself in your professional headline. It should be clear and impactful. If you are an e-board member, use that as your title. If you are a student studying PR, say something like “Public Relations major at Eastern Michigan University.” Using specific keywords based on expertise, location, awards, title, etc…will help future employers and those searching for someone with your talents find you.

6. Try to add all your connections. With Gmail and Yahoo! it’s easy to upload your contacts and even see who is on LinkedIn. Those that have accounts, you simply connect with.

7. Ask for recommendations. Ask from your peers, bosses, colleagues, and even your professors. Giving recommendations is a two-way street. You need to give them, too. Only give recommendations, though, if you truly feel the person is worthy of your recommendation. Don’t feel obligated to give them out. Recommendations go a long way, especially when employers are looking to hire. They read them!

8. Build links to your profile. Use your profile URL in your email signature, link to it from your website, when you comment on blog posts or news articles, and on your Twitter profile too. This helps your profile rank to be placed higher for searches with your name.

9. Update your status regularly. An excellent way to be noticed is by updating your status regularly. This also enhances your professional image as well. Tell people about events you’re attending, major projects you’ve completed, professional books you’re reading, or any other news that you would tell someone at a networking reception or on a quick catch-up phone call.

10. Show your connectedness to the PR profession with LinkedIn badges. Joining groups and displaying the group badges on your profile are excellent opportunities to not only fill out the professionalism of your profile, but to illustrate your desire to connect with your chosen profession.

Regina Luttrell
Faculty Advisor
EMU PRSSA