Articles by: Erin Zaranec
How Agency Life Helped Define My Career Path
Public relations is one of the few majors that can provide you with endless career paths upon graduation. Nearly every industry imaginable has a need for public relations services, allowing students and professionals almost limitless options when it comes to choosing a career.
This summer during my internship at Prosper for Purpose, I had the chance to experience social media management, client research, PR writing and blogging, and media pitching. I even populated an entire website with content. Working at an agency gave me an idea of just how broad the field of public relations really is! For some clients, I strictly focused on social media, while other clients needed assistance with compiling media lists or identifying industry influencers.
Some days were more overwhelming than others and my project list always seemed to vary, but overall working at an agency proved to be a beneficial experience to really show me what PR is all about. Team Prosper has a combination of nonprofit and business clients, allowing me to touch accounts from different sectors and learn more about the various facets of public relations.
If you are a student struggling with where to go in the field of public relations, an agency internship may help you define your career path. I was able to add PR writing pieces to my portfolio, I published blogs (like this one!) on Prosper’s website, I conducted research for clients, and worked with PR software to build media lists – all new experiences for me! I also had the chance to sit in on team and client meetings, allowing me to see the business side of agency life in real-time. I attended client photo shoots, media preview days, and listened to weekly phone updates with clients. I learned about retainers and billing, project management, and the roles of account managers.
I still may not know exactly where my career path will take me after graduation, but working at an agency has allowed me to see that there are more job options than I even thought possible.
Top Public Relations Take-A-Ways from Cleveland Hosting the Republican National Convention
Two years ago, the city of Cleveland was anxiously awaiting the results of a bid placed to host the Republican National Convention (RNC). After being notoriously known for our failing sports teams, burning river and dubbed the ‘Mistake on the Lake’, city officials and residents were eager to redeem Cleveland’s reputation by hosting a national event.
On July 8, 2014, the city was thrilled to receive the announcement it had been waiting for: Cleveland was selected to host the 2016 Republican National Convention! Two years of detailed planning ensued and two years later, during the week of July 18, 2016, Cleveland eagerly welcomed visitors from across the country. Cleveland was still buzzing from our beloved Cavaliers winning the NBA Championship, construction projects were wrapping up and the city had never felt safer, it was a great time to be in the city!
Cleveland was the focus of the nation for a week straight. As an aspiring PR professional, my attention was focused on the PR lessons learned from my home city hosting the RNC. Here are my top takeaways:
Plan for anything and everything
According to the RNC host committee website, the city had 1,200 events planned for 50,000 visitors during the four day convention period. To ease concerns from local residents, the city planned for everything: bringing in approximately 2,500 police officers from out-of-state, releasing maps of revised traffic patterns and road closings, opening the city’s court for 20 hours a day (yep, you read that right! The court remained open from 5:00 am – 1:00 am during the Convention) and posting the RNC tipline on all highways going into the city for residents to report any concerning activity. The city even had crisis plans in place for weather emergencies, power failures and had all area hospitals on special rotation schedules. Luckily, none of these plans had to be put into action!
Use social media to communicate to the masses
According to Politico, Cleveland’s population temporarily increased by 13 percent in just four days. Local residents, business owners, delegates and visitors alike all wanted to be kept updated on any RNC happenings and the city did a great job of making sure they got all updates in a timely manner. The City of Cleveland used Twitter to keep residents informed of media releases, events and all things RNC related. The host committee created and managed the @2016CLE handle specifically created for the event. The Cleveland Police Department used Twitter to update attendees of any concerning behavior, arrests and to confirm or deny reports being made by media. According to TweetReach.com, the #RNCinCle hashtag made approximately 415,000 impressions.
Social media was used effectively to spread RNC related news and positive stories throughout the week. Images of police officers playing ping pong with attendees and dancing in fountains with children were posted alongside RNC-related coverage. Visitors went to social to pro
claim their newfound love for the city – often commenting on how kind our residents are. Social media prevailed during the RNC.
Transparency is key
During the Convention, the City of Cleveland remained very transparent about all activities occurring downtown. Whether it was confirming media reports of an arrest, suggesting lunch spots for visiting delegates or sharing information about parking – the City was sure to keep everyone in the loop.
The city hosted daily media briefings, reviewing the day’s safety report and general activity around the city. These reports were also streamed via Periscope, allowing viewers who may not have had TV access the chance to view the press conferences.
Overall, I couldn’t be more proud to be from Cleveland. Seeing delegates and visiting media post about their approval of the city proved that the city’s efforts and planning truly paid off. The rest of the nation can now view Cleveland the way locals have and understand why we hold the city so dearly in our hearts.
As a college student, one of the things I hear most about is gaining professional experience during my four years of undergraduate education. Internships, co-ops and part-time jobs are always strongly encouraged, but can be difficult to manage during a full-time course schedule.
How do you gain professional skills in college (or as a recent graduate) if you aren’t necessarily working a job in your industry, but rather a job that works with your student schedule and pays the bills? Easy! All jobs require specific skills – you just have to know how to transfer them into any career.
Follow the guide below to impress any employer with your skill set.
1) Customer service is key (and kindness never killed anybody!)
Did you spend your summers waitressing, working retail or lifeguarding? If so, chances are you had a run-in or two with an upset customer or someone who needed your assistance. In such roles, you learn the value of customer service, how to diffuse tense situations and how to best represent your employer in tough times. Sure, dealing with someone who is mad that their meal is cold may not seem like a professional skill at the time, but employers are always looking for someone who is well-spoken and knows how to positively represent their brand.
2) Work smarter, not harder – it’s all about strategy.
Those nights of taking inventory, cleaning the pool house or trying to figure out how to get the kids you babysit to fall asleep will pay off. Those situations will teach you the skills needed to finish a job effectively and efficiently – helping you build strategies. Did you create a new inventory system that made stocking a store easier? Great! You just assisted the company in building a strategy to streamline inventory.
3) There’s no ‘I’ in team and teamwork is inevitable.
Throughout high school I worked as a lifeguard and swim lesson instructor. While these may seem like pretty independent tasks, a lot of teamwork is involved to effectively run a pool. Learning to communicate in a team setting is essential – even if it just means telling the next shift about the crazy boys that wouldn’t stop doing flips off the diving board. In a professional setting, teamwork is inevitable and employers want to know that you can work well in a team setting. Look at those late-night closing shifts and waitressing rotations as being part of a professional team and use those moments to highlight your communication skills.
4) Being a full-time student really is a full-time job.
Being a full-time student is hard; give yourself some credit for it! Balancing courses, extracurriculars, job(s) and a social life really is a job within itself. Prior to working at Prosper for Purpose, I had never worked in an agency setting – but I used the skills I honed from balancing 17 credit hours to explain in my interview that I always met deadlines for various “clients” or professors during the academic year. Along with being a full-time student, I held two on-campus jobs that added to my hectic schedule. In comparison to my school schedule (and that of many of my peers), a 9-5 schedule isn’t half bad!
Not every job will be your dream job, but the skills you take away from each position can get you there. By using every opportunity as a chance to build your presentation, time-management and planning skills, public speaking abilities and work ethic in a team setting, an employer will care more about the skills you bring to the table instead of the company names on your resume.