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.
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.
Coffee, Cleveland, French bulldogs and good books — the makings of our summer intern, Erin Zaranec. Erin is going into her senior year at Kent State University, where she is studying public relations with a focus on nonprofit management.
A Cleveland-area native, Erin hopes to work in fundraising and event-based PR upon graduation. Throughout her time at KSU, Erin has been actively involved in PRSSA and will serve as Chapter President in the 2016-2017 school year, when she will also serve as entertainment editor for The Kent Stater newspaper.
Want to know more about Erin? Watch as she describes her favorite thing to do in Cleveland, the best place to get coffee and what made her first day at Prosper for Purpose so great.
You did your research, you nailed your interview and you were offered your dream internship. Now what? How can you ensure you have a successful internship?
Follow these five tips to impress your supervisor and optimize your time as an intern:
1. Treat your internship like a real job
2. Set goals
3. Ask smart questions
4. Get to know your coworkers
5. Challenge yourself
Treat Your Internship Like a Real Job
Above all else, acting professionally should be your top priority if you want to leave a lasting impression. This includes being punctual, dressing appropriately and following proper office etiquette. Being professional will show your supervisor you’re taking your internship seriously. It can also lead to a killer letter of recommendation (a powerful tool that can help you stand out when searching for a full-time job).
It’s also crucial to always, always, always turn in projects and assignments as if they were going directly to a client. Don’t expect your supervisor to check your grammar and spelling for you.
When we begin working with new clients, one of the first things we do is set goals and review expectations. An internship should start the same way. Meet with your supervisor to review your personal goals and clarify expectations. What is expected of you? What would you like to accomplish during your internship? This is the time to let your supervisor know what projects you’re interested in working on during your internship (Tip: think about what you would most like to showcase in a portfolio).
Ask Smart Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions (preferably ones that can’t be answered with a simple Google search). Asking questions shows you’re engaged and eager to learn. So speak up!.
Get to Know Your Coworkers
Take the time to get to know as many of your coworkers as possible. Networking is invaluable when it comes to searching for a full-time job. Building strong connections can also help when it comes time to ask for that invaluable recommendation letter. Learn about other positions, ask your coworkers how they got to where they are now and inquire about what else you can do to make yourself more marketable to employers.
The goal of your internship should be to learn and gain valuable real world experience. Don’t waste your time – or your employer’s time – texting your friends or scrolling through social media. Truly focus on developing your skills. Take on new projects, introduce yourself to someone in a different department or make a suggestion at a big meeting. Great things can happen when you step outside your comfort zone.
Looking for more advice? Check out our blog to see what two former interns had to say about their experience at Prosper for Purpose.
All kids dreams about what they want to be when they grow up, whether it’s a doctor, astronaut or chef. As a child, I wanted to be a news anchor on the Today Show. But my career path quickly changed after taking one particular class in high school.
The Business Marketing class at Rocky River High School changed my mind about my career choice. I fell in love with marketing and knew exactly what I wanted to study in college.
I graduated from Ohio University, where I studied marketing and communications. Throughout my studies at OU, I was unsure which area of marketing I ultimately wanted to work in, but I always knew it would be a creative field. Then during my senior year it hit me: social media. OU had just started offering an Undergraduate Certificate in Social Media Studies, so I hopped on the opportunity to sign up for the program. It sounded like the coolest thing ever and a great way to further my education. I have always loved maintaining my personal social media accounts, so this path was a no brainer.
Interning at Prosper for Purpose
Last summer, I accepted a job offer that was perfect for me: a marketing internship at Prosper for Purpose. I was beyond excited to start my journey into the world of marketing, social media and public relations.
Working closely with Prosper’s public relations director, I managed client social media accounts, conducted research, compiled contact and media lists, and assisted with media relations and the coordination of various marketing programs.
This internship has widened my knowledge of marketing and communications, and I could not be any happier! It definitely helped that I had awesome co-workers and a beautiful, creative, open office space!
My Perspective On Social Media
Since I am a huge social media nerd, I thought it would only be right to share my perspective on the topic.
I believe social media is a positive in our lives. Social media platforms are places where everyone can connect with family and friends near or far; search for news, jobs, DIY projects, recipes and cures to illnesses; post pictures of a missing pet; read helpful articles; watch funny cat videos; and so much more. Social media even allows us to express ourselves in ways in we may not be able to during face-to-face interactions. It even helps businesses thrive by engaging their audiences, and promoting their products and services. It provides so many positive advantages that help us with our daily lives.
Looking back on my internship, I see that social media isn’t the only positive in my life. I have learned so much working alongside #TeamProsper, and I am very thankful for the positive experiences I gained at Prosper for Purpose!
After Alexis completed her internship at Prosper, she accepted a position at Innovation Foods in Twinsburg, Ohio as a marketing assistant.
Bill Gates is quoted with saying, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR.” While there is some debate about whether or not Gates actually uttered those words, there is no doubt it is sage advice.
The success of your business depends on how well you communicate with your customers. This is why we (and other PR agencies) exist. But agencies aren’t just competing against each other for your business. We are also contending against in-house PR teams. So why is an agency a better hire? Here are five ways hiring an agency benefits your organization.
More Bang for Your Buck
We hear it all the time: internal hires are less expensive. Are they though? When you hire an employee, you only get the experience of one individual person. When you hire a PR and communications agency, you get the knowledge and skill of an entire team. With Prosper for Purpose, that means more than 80 years of combined experience (wow, that’s a LOT of experience!). To match what we bring to the table you would need to hire a strategist, a writer, a designer, a social media guru, a publicist, a researcher, an event manager and more. Does an internal hire still sound like the less expensive option?
Handling PR internally requires finding, hiring and training the right employee. PR agencies, on the other hand, have the ability to quickly ramp up capabilities when necessary. On any given day you may work with everyone from the intern to the CEO. Our team is always up-to-speed on the latest and greatest trends not only in PR, but also in a variety of industries. As we like to say, we wear as many hats as experience permits and our closets can hold.
We’re Masters of Messaging…and More
Good PR practitioners are good writers. Prosper’s tagline, “communications for a better world,” is based on the belief that words have the power to transform relationships. We’re storytellers at heart. Creatively trying to find a buzzworthy story warms our hearts as much as the eighth cup of coffee we just consumed. But that’s not all. Our strengths range from brand development, strategic planning and crisis communications to media relations, fundraising management and organizational training. Simply put, we offer a large suite of services. Pretty sweet, huh?
Good communications start with good networks. Hiring a PR agency with a team of connected people can greatly increase your chance of connecting with the media and consumers. PR is what we do all day, every day. We’re pros at pitching. We know which reporters cover the nonprofit sector and which journalists prefer to write about consumer products. And we can make that knowledge work for you.
A PR agency can become an extension of your company, while also providing independent perspectives. We can help you build a brand, launch a new product or make your business stand out in a crowded market all while remaining impartial. It’s easy for business owners to become die-hard fans of their companies and believe everything about it is newsworthy. Sometimes an outsider’s outlook can help you see things in a different light.
These are just a few of the many reasons why a business should hire a PR agency. If you’re looking for a communications firm, give us a call. We’d be happy to talk to you about our capabilities and how we can help your organization prosper.
You’ve probably seen Prosper for Purpose hinting at a big announcement these past few weeks, and we’re so excited to finally share it with you. We are incredibly proud to announce that Prosper for Purpose is a Certified B Corporation. The ‘B’ stands for benefit.
There are more than 1,400 Certified B Corporations in nearly 50 countries but only nine in Ohio. Prosper for Purpose is honored to be among those nine B Corps, and we’re incredibly proud to announce that we are the first marketing and communications agency to receive certification in Northern Ohio, and the very first certified nonprofit consulting and fundraising agency in the state.
So, what is a B Corporation, and what does this mean for Prosper? B Corporations are part of a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Certified B Corps meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Think of B Corp certification as a Fair Trade certification–like LEED or USDA Organic–that’s not just for a building or product but for the business as a whole.
By receiving B Corporation certification, we join a movement of like-minded organizations who strive to not only be the best in the world but also to be the best for the world. Through this certification, we have the opportunity to set benchmarks as a business for good, and to learn how we can build and improve upon those measurements for the future.
B Corporation certification was a natural fit for Prosper. We’ve always believed that businesses should do well and do good, and that in a business world that follows a ‘zero sum game’ philosophy, we can all win through collaboration, creativity and purpose. Since our founding three years ago, we’ve made a conscientious effort to support this belief, from choosing to work with mission-driven organizations, offering pro bono services through our Prosper Project, giving back to our Cleveland community through volunteerism and regulating our office’s consumption of energy and other resources. Becoming a B Corp further demonstrates our commitment to these values.
Any organization can apply to be a B Corporation. B Lab, the company behind B Corps, has a rigorous certification process, where they survey and closely examine a company’s social and environmental impact on all its stakeholders, including its employees, vendors, community, consumers and the environment. Organizations must receive at least 80 out of a possible 200 points to receive certification, and they must be recertified every two years.
Some states have passed legislation that legally requires B Corps to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, community, consumers and environment as well as shareholder value. While Ohio has yet to pass such legislation, B Corp certification still allows Prosper to introduce conversations in our community about the importance of being cognizant about our social and environmental impact.
If we haven’t mentioned it yet, Prosper for Purpose is so proud to be a part of this inspiring movement. We look forward to sharing this journey with you and to continue our mission of communicating for a better world.
In today’s business world, employee volunteer programs are as commonplace as meetings, business trips and conference calls. Some of the most notable organizations have taken strides to increase their philanthropic efforts and create robust employee volunteer programs. Yet, some still question the value of volunteering.
To some, volunteering is a one-sided equation offering benefits only to the recipient of the deed. But in actuality, volunteering is just as valuable to an organization and its employees. Here’s how:
Employees who volunteer report more job satisfaction and improved morale
When someone volunteers, several things happen. They feel good about themselves for helping others. They form connections. They witness the impact of their actions, however small. When people volunteer, they not only improve the lives of the recipient, they are also improving their own lives. And when employees volunteer through their organization, they experience the same positive benefits, but with an added bonus: they feel good about where they work.
When an organization actively gives back to the community, employees feel they are working for an employer that is truly concerned with the betterment of others, and they are proud to be a part of it. They believe they aren’t just working for a paycheck; they are working for a purpose.
Volunteer programs serve as a recruitment tool for up-and-coming talent
Recent studies show that when job searching, nearly half of all millennials are more likely to apply to organizations they feel are working toward a better tomorrow. They want to work for a company with values similar to their own and have the flexibility to allow them to support those values.
With one-third of today’s workforce comprised of millennials, companies increase their chance of hiring top talent when they support employee volunteering. Not only does the company widen its talent pool, but it is also more likely to attract individuals who share the company’s values. Many times, employees serve as the ambassadors of the brand, and having employees who exhibit the company’s beliefs can have immense value with customers.
Getting involved in the community drives brand recognition
When employees enter the community on behalf of their organization, they are promoting the organization’s brand to the public. They’re showing people firsthand the company’s beliefs and values.
Additionally, employees are interacting with individuals on a personal level, and this face-to-face, human interaction leaves people with a positive impression of the brand that is more valuable than any advertisement. Individuals appreciate the organization’s efforts to enhance the community, and they are reminded that there are real people behind the brand.
While many larger companies have robust employee volunteer programs, there are simpler ways for your organization to give back. Here are a few easy ways you can make a positive presence in your community:
1. Offer skills-based volunteering, which is a great way for employees to lend their talents to those in need. Through skills-based volunteering programs, employees are matched by their specialized skills and talents with nonprofit organizations needing the help of these individuals to build and sustain their infrastructures. Examples of service may include assisting with bookkeeping, providing PR support or serving on a board.
2. Consider a company-wide, single-day volunteer initiative to encourage employees to become more involved. Employees will feel more motivated to take time off if they know everyone is involved. Plan a day to visit a food bank, homeless shelter or other organization where you can work together as a team. You’ll help an organization and individuals in need, and you’ll form stronger relationships among team members.
3. Ditch the holiday party and arrange a collection drive. Take the money you typically spend on a holiday party and use it to purchase donation items for an organization you support. Or consider encouraging employees to make a monetary donation in a coworker’s name instead of purchasing gifts.
Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media pages can be your first opportunity to make a positive first impression on a customer.
According to Adweek, people follow businesses on social media for three main reasons:
● Promotions and discounts
● Latest product information
● Customer service
There are many scenarios that can cause you to lose current and potential customers because of your social presence (or in some cases, lack thereof). Is your brand’s social media providing people with the three types of content listed above? If not, maybe it’s time to put social accounts in the hands of a professional.
Business owners are busy enough managing their products, their employees and all other day-to-day tasks associated with running a company. This doesn’t leave much time to stay updated on the latest and greatest social media features, techniques and trends.
Did you know that without advertising, your Facebook content will only reach approximately 2% of your total followers? This means that if you have 1,000 Facebook followers, only 20 of them will see your posts.
Social media changes on what seems like a daily basis. That’s why communications professionals can be extremely valuable for a brand. Not only do we read countless blogs and stay meticulously updated on platform changes and newly released features, but we also bring experience. We know what works well and we can navigate each platform like the back of our hands.
With more than 2.206 billion active social users, there is true opportunity to engage with your customers and build your brand presence through social media.
Are you looking to increase traffic to your website or reach more customers? Do you want to expand your brand’s recognition or develop a loyal community of engaged followers? A strong social presence can help you achieve those objectives.