Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Time for a Change

As much as I loved my skyline banner, I decided over the weekend it was time for a blog makeover. I wanted something more personal, so I made this one with pictures from all of the "chapters" of my life (if I'm sticking with the book metaphor, which I think I am) - growing up in Sarasota, college in Athens, and now whatever this stage of my life is in New York (adulthood? ah!). Anyway, I'd love some feedback! :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

How Do You Measure Success?

One of the things that is constantly debated in public relations is how to measure the success of a campaign. Now, more than ever, we have to prove our worth as practitioners in order for our clients to appreciate our value to their business.

Last semester, I worked on a campaign to fight poverty in Athens-Clarke County for my capstone public relations class at UGA. There were countless times throughout the grueling semester that we wondered if we were truly making a difference to this daunting problem. We conducted student focus groups, interviewed faculty and attended community meetings to try to figure out what we could do to help. The best solution we could come up with to the problem, from a PR front anyway, was to create an umbrella organization to unite the efforts currently on campus working toward this cause. The presentation to our client (or should I say clients: we had a full classroom of attendees!) went very well, they loved our ideas and were very excited to take what we had come up with and move forward. And then the 21 students who created this initiative graduated and left Athens behind, hoping that the best would come of their plan.

So why am I bringing this up now, months after graduation and after I have moved far away from Athens? Because this article on UGA's Grady College web site popped up in my Google Alerts a few days ago.

Our presentation opened with the quote, "the greatest danger is to let this initiative die out." This article is proof that it won't die out, because there are people who care and are dedicated to carrying out our initiative. If that isn't a successful campaign, I don't know what is.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Never Stop Learning, Part 2

Friday afternoon I had the opportunity to attend Internfest, an event for public relations interns in New York City hosted by the Council of PR Firms and Fleishman-Hillard. There were about 100 interns there from 14 different firms, all eager for advice about entering the job market. The event consisted of two panels and a session with a recruiter from APCO Worldwide, Jessica Lee. The panel speakers discussed what they like about public relations, how they got into the field, and their recommendations for those of us looking to land that coveted entry-level position (check out my post on Pepperdigital about our discussion on social media).

It was especially interesting to hear from a recruiter and learn a little bit more about what they're truly looking for. One of the first things Jessica said, and this shouldn't surprise any of you, is that when she gets an application one of the first things she does is Google the candidate. This reinforces how important it is to always be aware of what is said about you on the Internet, whether it's on one of your own personal sites or otherwise. She also recommended five sites that anyone trying to build a personal brand should be active on: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, VisualCV, and Google profile. I was proud to realize I'm on four of the five sites (task for today: set up my VisualCV).

Jessica equated establishing a personal brand to the way companies establish their brand. After asking for successful brands that resonate with us, she recommended we figure out how to turn ourselves into a Target or a Starbucks. I also liked her point about building our brand even when we're straight out of school and don't have much experience to reference. "Think of Paris Hilton," she said. She is the perfect example of someone who has built her brand based on basically nothing. Does anyone really know what she's famous for? Probably not. Is she a household name? Absolutely.

I definitely enjoyed hearing from the speakers and was so inspired by meeting successful people in the industry as well as my fellow interns. Now to go work on that Visual CV of mine...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

A few days ago, I was asked (as I often am) what exactly I like about public relations. For some reason this is always a hard question to answer, not because I don't know what I like about it but I guess it's just kind of hard to articulate. 

When I first applied to the PR major in UGA's Grady College of Journalism, I have to admit I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I remember some mention in a class of event planning as a career, which I thought was the coolest thing you could do for a job, and after doing some research PR seemed like the logical path to get me there. However, I still didn't know what exactly public relations was. I'd taken marketing classes for my business major, and don't think I really grasped the difference between the two industries. 

The farther I got in my classes, the more I fell in love with the field of public relations. I love the writing, the pitching (as much as anyone can actually love pitching) and all of the opportunities to be creative. I also love the constant interaction with people. I'm really fascinated by people and the way they communicate, so figuring out how to get a client in the public spotlight is so interesting to me.

The one thing I heard over and over about PR, which remains my favorite aspect of a career in this area, is that there is no typical day and there is no such thing as "9 to 5." My worst nightmare would be to go to a job and do the same exact thing every single day without any sort of excitement or variety. This is the opposite of PR. Just this summer I've had so many fun, random experiences from painting baseballs for a giveaway to writing for a newsletter, posting to the company blog to researching why people prefer a certain franchise over competitors. Aside from a few daily monitors, I go in to work every morning having absolutely no idea what to expect from the day - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, July 13, 2009

100th Blogiversary

I had another idea for a post tonight but when I logged in I realized I've reached a milestone with my blog - this is my 100th post! Aaand let the nostalgic tangent begin...

I took a minute to read my first post, from the middle of December after a hectic week of informational interviews in NYC. I literally remember that night, staying up all night at my aunt's house in New Jersey thinking about where I would be after graduation. I was so determined to get back to New York after living here last summer, and that week in December was just the beginning of my journey to becoming a New Yorker. One of the interviews I went on was at Peppercom, and after several more rounds of interviews and writing tests, I'm so happy to be interning there. I'm learning so much from some incredible people in the industry I've dreamed about working in, and am having an even more amazing experience than I could have ever hoped for.

The second part to that dream was moving to New York by myself and supporting myself - which I think I'm actually succeeding at too! I have a lot of friends here, though most are just up for the summer, but I'm meeting new people every day and thanks to a few part time jobs I'm avoiding depending on my parents for the most part.

It's so cool to look back to just six months ago and realize how much I've done, and how I've truly accomplished everything I hoped I would by now. Happy anniversary blog, thanks for the memories!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What are the odds?

Almost 2 million people live in Manhattan. I know less than 100 of them. The island is about 20 square miles. So what are the odds that on any given day I'll run into someone I know? 

Apparently pretty small.

I can't get over how frequently it happens! I was keeping track when I first moved here but I lost count. Yesterday while walking to Central Park, my friends happened to be driving right past me on 3rd Avenue (I can't decide what is more bizarre - that I ran into them or that they were driving?). This afternoon I was wandering around near my apartment and ran into a friend I graduated with. These are just two of about 20 random run-ins I've had since I moved here!

I used to get annoyed when Carrie would run into Mr. Big at least once per episode on Sex and the City. Come on, the city is packed full of people - how does she see him that much? Apparently it's not that weird. 

Does everyone experience this or do I just have crazy luck? 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Never Stop Learning

When I first started this blog, I was in college and wrote a lot about my internships and what I was learning in class. I realize lately it has evolved into more of a "Life in New York" diary since I've been so caught up in exploring my new city.  However, just because I'm out of college doesn't mean I'm not still learning about PR - that's what interning is all about (not that it should stop after that)! One of the things I love about my particular internship is the emphasis on our professional growth, which was apparent today in our pitching and writing workshop. 

Of course we're all busy, interns and account executives alike, but it was nice for people to take time out of their day to teach us a thing or two. There were a few key points that really stuck out to me from our workshop that I wanted to talk about and think all people in PR should know.

First, a great quote from our writing workshop:

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. - Mark Twain

This perfectly articulates the difference between PR writing and creative writing. In PR, we need to say the most we can in the least amount of words. We need to be able to get our point across quickly and effectively to our specific audience, not spend extra time (and words) with superfluous descriptions.

Next, my favorite takeaway from the pitching workshop:

Put yourself in the mindset that when you call to pitch to an editor or reporter, talking to you will be the highlight of their day. Thinking positive will come through in your voice and they will be much more receptive to your pitch.

I love this. There are very few people I know in PR that truly enjoy pitching, even though it's a big part of the job. This silly little tip honestly works though! Pitching is so much easier when you just relax and talk to a reporter like a real person. Be casual, have fun with it. Sure, you'll get the reporters that are still very formal and short, but in general people are much more receptive if you come across as someone they could get along with. 

I won't bore you with all of my notes (even though I still need to type them up for my "intern guide book" - a great idea from one of our intern coordinators), but I just wanted to share those two main points. I think it's easy to assume that once you're out of college, the learning stops there. I'll admit, it did feel weird taking notes from a powerpoint presentation (and I've only been out of school for two months!). I truly enjoyed it, as anyone does when they're learning about a subject they really care about. It's so much easier and more fun to learn about things you're passionate about from successful people in that industry than to sit through a boring lecture on a topic you couldn't care less about in college.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hostess With the Mostest

Before my very much needed mini Hamptons vacation, I got to entertain one of my best friends in the city for a few days. I love having visitors wherever I'm living because I get to show off my city, but it's especially fun in New York because I get an excuse to do all of the touristy things I secretly want to do but can't because I live here now. Here are a few of the best pictures from the week...

Strand, the most amazing book store in the world.

Union Square.

Of course we had to go to Crumbs. We got the caramel apple cupcake, it was amazing.

Farmers Market in Union Square.

It wouldn't be a touristy trip without stopping by Times Square. A little reminder of where we lived last summer.

Ground Zero. I hadn't been in years but it looks frustratingly the same as it did last time I was there.

9/11 Memorials

Empire State Building lit up for the 4th of July.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Quick Vacation

Any New Yorker, no matter how much they love the hustle and bustle of the city, will tell you it is necessary to get out of Manhattan every now and then in order to keep your sanity. After living here a little over a month (does that even make me a New Yorker yet?), I jumped at the opportunity to spend the 4th of July with girlfriends the Hamptons. 

Beautiful sunset before the fireworks started.

Happy 4th of July!

Having grown up in Sarasota, I'm a total beach bum at heart. I love love love living in the city, but sometimes I just need to be by the water (I'm aware Manhattan is an island, but dirty rivers just don't do it for me). East Hampton even reminds me of where I grew up a little bit, so this weekend was very nostalgic and a nice change of pace from what I've experienced since I moved away.

Who knew kids even had lemonade stands anymore? This was way too cute not to stop.

Beautiful day at the beach.

Lazy day in the sun with a silly girly book = perfection.

It was nice having a change of scenery, but I'm glad to be back in the city, sunburned and exhausted. It was cool coming home to my apartment from a night away and truly feeling like I was back home. Even after living here last summer, I could never really call New York home... now I'm finally able to.