On My Way

Last Friday I had my final portfolio review for my public relations sequence at the University of Oregon, meaning that I am finally done with all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 4 years. While I’m grateful to be graduating early, finally being done with the journalism school is bittersweet. I know I’m ready to enter the work place, but I have learned so much there over these past years its crazy that its all over!

Heading into my portfolio review I was nervous. I’d put so much work into getting my layouts exactly right that I was afraid I was going to over think everything. Luckily, I was able to take a deep breath, relax, and present my material to my review board. (It helped that they were a great group of people just wanting to help me get better).

After presenting they gave me some great feedback, and to be able to remember it always, I thought I’d share the big points they made with you:

1. Make sure you tell a story: When you’re going in to explain your work its important to let them know the history behind it. What was the problem? How did you address it? What were your strategies? Did it work? Were you successful? Going back, what would you have done differently? By explaining the details behind why you did what you did, your interviewer or reviewer is able to understand precisely what you did. My reviewers also liked the info cards I had for each layout explaining what the goal was and what the results were. They encouraged me to change it up a bit and instead include a section like this and tailor it to each layout:Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.57.34 PM

2. Put your most important information first: This means not only in the material you include but also on your resume. Put your best work at the top. My reviewers encouraged me to move my skills section to the top, especially since I specialize in combining of traditional and new media as well as design work. By moving this stuff to the top it is the first thing your reviewer/interviewer sees and so they’ll be more apt to understand that you used these skills to create and present everything in your portfolio.

3. Have a color scheme: My reviewers were very impressed by my layout, especially in the fact that I had a different color that went with each internship and coursework that I included. I had a red banner for all my HIV Alliance work, a blue banner for the blogging I do for Moxie, a wedding planning company in Eugene, a pink banner for the articles I write for Her Campus Magazine, and a purple banner for the group work I just completed for Phelps Creek Vineyards. They said that this not only made my portfolio stand out, but also let them know when the work was transitioning from company to company.

4. Make sure your personality shines through: One thing I’ve never been afraid of is to be myself. My reviewers were impressed by my confidence and ability to show myself through my work while still remaining professional. I think its important to never try and hide a part of your personality as long as you can remain poised and professional. If you smile a lot, keep smiling during your review. If you like to make jokes, don’t be afraid to throw one in there as long as its appropriate for the audience and content. The most important thing is to feel out your reviewer/interviewer, and from there you’ll know exactly what to do.

5. Add a personal interest section to your resume: This one through me for a loop at first. A personal interest section? You really want to know that I enjoy tennis and traveling? Apparently they do. It allows them to see a quick glimpse of who you are through the extra activities you enjoy. One of my reviewers even told me that they hired 6 interns over the past year because each of them had an interest in lacrosse. While the skill set was obviously there as well, their interest in the sport was not only something they had in common, but also was able to show that they had drive, teamwork, and the capability to balance multiple tasks at once.

UO-signThe reviewing process may seem nerve racking, but after it was over I was truly grateful for the experience. I was able to receive positive feedback from working professionals as well as constructive criticism. I plan on taking all the information and feedback they gave me, creating a better portfolio, and heading out into the real world a confident, successful graduate.

Thank you J-School for all you taught me. I think I’m finally ready!

Building Relationships Through a Diversity-Friendly Workplace

In today’s workplace it is becoming more important to understand how to effectively communicate with a diverse audience. Whether with your employees, clients or customers, establishing a diversity-friendly environment will be to everyone’s advantage.

Public relations professionals work with people around the world and interact with multiple diverse groups. In an article, Robert Wakefield says that PR professionals work across different social, economic and political systems through multiple time zones, and because of this, public relations is one of the most diverse fields to work in. Understanding how to efficiently create a diversity-friendly workplace will foster a better relationship with all your publics.

Respect everyone’s opinion

In a journal article, Celso Guzman says that being diversity-friendly means that you value everyone’s contributions no matter his or her race, ethnic background, age, gender or physical ability. Being able to appreciate everyone’s opinion on different matters not only allows for an agreeable workplace but also means you’ll have differing views on your projects. People from diverse backgrounds have different ways of addressing problems and assignments, and because of that, they might come up with ideas you never would have thought of.

Show your support for diverse groups

Many companies take the opportunity to partner with diversity outreach groups to show their support. Big name companies like Kraft Foods, American Apparel and Starbucks have all shown support in the past for diverse groups. PRSA has been doing diversity outreach for over two decades and even has a multicultural communications committee. Chrysler Group was named the “Best Company for Diversity” in 2011. These companies and groups understood the importance and saw the chance to show their commitment for diversity in the workplace. By showing support of different diverse groups, your company not only gives its respect but also creates a better workplace for all.

Understand people’s backgrounds

The United States is becoming more diverse as a country every year. The 2008 United States census projected the population to be made up of 54 percent minority groups by 2050. With a growing minority population and different diversity groups becoming more prominent every year, it is critical for companies to understand their employees and their customers’ cultures and backgrounds. With a growing diverse population, you never want to cause a problem by not knowing what is accepted and what is a limit to someone.

Fostering a sense of community within your company is as simple as showing your support of people’s backgrounds and differences. Having a diverse group of people is what makes companies and groups stand out, allowing them to grow and evolve with the changing times.

Things You Need to Know to Succeed in The Public Relations World

Immersing yourself in public relations can come as a shock. When in classes, we have ideas thrown at us left and right. We examine past PR cases; observe what went wrong and praise what went right; and study, highlight and compile lists of what you would have done if you were in the PR practioner’s shoes. All this practice that we are doing now is preparing us for success in the future.

Thanks to an informational interview with Lee Weinstein, owner of Weinstein PR in Portland, Ore., here is a list of what I felt he conveyed as some of the most important things a student could know when trying to start a career in public relations.

Learn to write.

“Writing well is the most important skill anyone in PR could have. It helps develop great stories. It helps strategize,” says Lee Weinstein. Writing is something we practice over and over in school, and it’s for a reason. Being able to not only write well but also write in correct grammar and format is something that is going to save you down the line.

Always be ready to handle anything.

There is no “typical day” in public relations. You never know what is going to happen because you can’t control how people are going to react to situations. This is why doing your research and preparing yourself and your team for any obstacle is necessary.

Learn early how to time manage.

A working day in public relations can last 24 hours, but those 24 hours will seem a lot shorter when you have 50 things on your plate. You have to manage clients, bosses, otheremployees and whatever projects you are working on at the moment, so learn how to juggle multiple things at once on a time limit.

“The most challenging part about [public relations] is not having enough time and taking on too much work,” says Lee Weinstein.

Love what you do.

This is going to be your career – what you are going to be doing for the rest of your life. If you wake up one day and look in the mirror and you aren’t happy, then make some changes. This can mean anything from taking on different projects to switching from a nonprofit to an agency, to even a completely different path. But whatever you are going to be doing, make sure you love it.

Having a successful career is something everyone strives for, so remembering some tips from the pros should help along the way.

Special thanks to Lee Weinstein.