When pursuing a career in Public Relations you have to think about where you want to work. Do you want to start in an agency or do you want to do in-house PR?
Here is what it would look like to have a job in Agency and In-House.
It is more of a fast pacing environment working on multiple projects across different industries. Your agency is employed by another business or individual, so you will be expected to create campaigns for them. With agencies, it is very unlikely you will get a final say over projects. Be prepared to work long hours. Agencies usually have two teams. One team focuses on particular products and the other team focuses on campaigns.
The work can be demanding in an agency because the workflow moves quickly. When working at an agency the projects and priorities constantly change, so you need to know how to juggle multiple tasks at once. Your co-workers will serve as a tool for help or advice on an issue.
Usually, in-house, you are devoted to one specific company. Within this company, you are giving all your attention to the clients and products. You will work on multiple projects as an agency except it will be within one sector. This job is where you will be able to manage budgets, make decisions, and come up with strategies for the company.
Keep in mind that in-house focused on one company, so you eat sleep, and breathe that brand. It gives you an opportunity to dive deep into the company and become more aligned with its goals, strategies, messages, and audiences.
If you enjoy a fast and versatile environment, the agency is for you. If you like focusing on one thing and working with it for a long period of time, In-House may be a good fit for you.
As a Donate Life Ambassador for almost eight years, I still learned more than I expected from my internship at Sierra Donor Services, one of four organ procurement organizations under Donate Life California.
Throughout the course of my public relations internship, I developed a greater and more nuanced appreciation for the public education goals and messaging of a nonprofit organization.
For example, I had the opportunity to work with many other positions in the organization including other volunteers, our front office staff, Media Relations Manager and Executive Director. In team meetings for campaigns, I discussed strategic tactics and plans to pitch stories to audiences. I met with industry leaders, where I learned more about the business model of a nonprofit and how to better fulfil its mission.
My first project involved identifying reporters, crafting pitch letters and sending them out to local gatekeepers for #BetheGift day. The campaign raised awareness of the need for organ, eye and tissue donation. Ultimately, this messaging helps save lives by highlighting the #BeTheGift campaign, which encourages the public to register as donor heroes.
I met with California legislators to discuss lobbying efforts, which relate to organ, eye and tissue donation. This event highlighted the power of a personal story. Before our meeting, I sent them photos on virtual postcards with stories from those whose lives have been touched by organ donation. The strategy behind this tool helped us to be remembered by and build relationships with leaders in the legislature.
Throughout my internship, I assisted the public education staff to create a virtual postcard to send to our staff and hospital partners for National Thank A Healthcare Hero Day. I used a creative design that encompasses the Sierra Donor Services brand and Donate Life theme. When these postcards were shared with the healthcare community, they saw the life-saving, positive side of organ donation. This public education campaign serves to build relationships between Donate Life and hospital partners.
Similarly, I was able to craft a message and design for Donor Remembrance Day. This day recognizes donor heroes, ensures they are never forgotten by their family and community, and expresses the depth of gratitude felt by their recipients. – This celebration of life in our organization is a way to encourage our volunteers, many of whom have personal connections to organ donation, to honor their loved one and donor hero. .
As a PRSSA member and a grateful heart recipient of more than 20 years, I know that organ donation saves lives! Since I received the gift of life as a two-year-old, I am now a senior CSUF, I lived my dream internship on the Disney College Program, and I finished a 10K RunDisney because of my organ donor.
But our work isn’t done yet! Nationwide, more than 100,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving organ, 23,000 of whom reside right here in California. Everyone needs to register as an organ donor to off-set the number of people who die waiting for an organ. Currently, nearly 17 people die each day from lack of available organs for transplant. Communication classes at CSUF have helped me pursue my passion because I learned about multiple professional communication tactics in my degree program. For example, video production and visual design in Digital Foundations, media research from PR Writing II and pitching to gatekeepers have helped me pursue my passion and ultimately, intern for Donate Life this semester.
April is National Donate Life Month!
National Donate Life Month is a public education campaign from Donate Life America that focuses on inspiring and motivating Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the strategic use of social media tactics, celebrations and engagements, community members can share their decision of registering to be a donor.
When you register as an organ donor hero and have a conversation with your family about it, YOU save lives! You can be a part of this life-saving mission by getting involved with Blue & Green Spirit Week on April 10-16! Included is a calendar of celebrations in which you can participate to help spread Donate Life awareness in your community!
You can also share your blue and green spirit on social media to share your decision to register as a donor and encourage others to register. To register as an organ donor, sign up today at Registerme.org
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Do you know how Luke Skywalker defeated the evil emperor, overthrew an empire, and saved the galaxy from being blown into pieces by the Death Star? Luke had a mentor. His mentor was the legendary Jedi Master Yoda. As aspiring industry professionals, we all need a Yoda in our lives to guide and keep us from straying into the darkside (i.e unemployment). The beginnings of a fast-paced industry can be intimidating, so having the guidance of someone who knows the nooks and crannies of the industry can give you the knowledge to thrive. That is why mentorship is so important for professional success! Here are 3 reasons why:
1. The Experience
PR pros weren’t born, they were made. Believe it or not, they were once nervous beginners just like us. They faced the same amount of rejection, stumbled over their words, and have had many awkward bumps on their journey to success. PR professionals have an arsenal of useful advice to share that would be valuable for anyone starting their PR journey. Finding a mentor who has successfully overcome obstacles would benefit you tremendously, as it will enlighten you with what career choices you should make and avoid.
2. The Honesty
Henry David Thoreau once said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” And while most of us wouldn’t mind having tons of money and/or being internet famous, what we should really strive for in this industry is to have someone in our corner who can give us the honest truth. That is why it is so valuable to have a mentor. A mentor can provide constructive criticism and even call us out when we have misstepped. There is so much room for growth when our work is evaluated by an experienced pro.
3. The Guidance
Recently in my Entertainment PR class, we were blessed to have a guest speaker talk about her career path in the entertainment industry. We discussed how representation is not only important on-screen, but also behind the scenes as well. Curious about how diverse the industry was when she began in 2008, I asked if the field was inclusive or if it was “dominated by old straight white dudes.” Unsurprisingly, it was the latter. However, she drove home the point about how she found a mentor in someone who was also POC. This mentorship helped her find her voice and hone her skills which allowed her to navigate successfully in a white-dominated space.
Would Luke have been able to defeat the Emperor without the guidance of Master Yoda? Well, yeah, eventually. But It would have been hard. Could you enter the PR field and end up having a successful career without having the guidance of a mentor? Well, yeah, eventually. But why make things harder for yourself? As we enter this field, we should actively seek out a mentor to help guide us to success. And hey, if you are unsure about how to start a professional relationship with a mentor, PRSA has you covered. Check out https://www.prsa.org/career/mentor-connect. PRSA will help connect you with a mentor who can help you with your PR career goals.
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My name is Melika Karimzadeh and I am a Communications major with an emphasis in Public Relations!
How many years have you been at CSUF?
I have been at CSUF for 4 semesters now, so 2 years! I actually am set to graduate this Spring 2021.
How long have you been part of PRSSA?
I have been a part of PRSSA since Fall 2020 and I am so thankful I finally decided to join!
How did you hear about the organization?
I heard about PRSSA at my first ever class taken at CSUF, Principles of Public Relations with Ken Hagihara. He spoke about it quite a bit and I was hesitant to join so I decided to think about it for a little bit and ask around. After hearing about the amazing opportunities, I finally just took the leap and joined!
What is your favorite part about PRSSA?
My favorite part about PRSSA is that you get to network and connect with so many amazing professionals in the industry. I would’ve never met half of the people I have met or went to any of the panels if it wasn’t for PRSSA. They really just throw you in there and get you started on your career path.
How has PRSSA helped you achieve your academic or professional goals?
PRSSA has helped me tremendously in achieving my academic and professional goals. Without PRSSA I wouldn’t have been able to join Titan Public Relations, which is the student-run public relations firm that connects you with real life clients in order to gain experience. Being able to put something like TPR on my resume has really given me an upper hand when searching for jobs and internships!
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
My favorite social media platform is a three-way tie between Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Instagram is just a great resource to connect with the world and I do find a lot of information about what’s happening around me on there. TikTok is what’s new and trending so it’s always a great resource for those looking to get into the social media industry. Lastly, I love LinkedIn! After all, where would I be without all the amazing connections and professional mentors that I’ve met on there?
Where do you see your career taking you after graduation?
After graduation, I really hope to pursue a career in the video game or tech industry. I really enjoy the atmosphere and those two things have always played a big role in my life. I hope to work with top companies like Blizzard, Riot, or Kingston Technology. Regardless of where I’m going, I am so thankful for the friends and mentors I was able to meet at CSUF and so happy I decided to go here!
While social media is a great way to keep up with friends and classmates, it’s also a huge part of how we see public relations today. It’s a direct line of communication between an organization and their target audiences. It’s a perfect tool to utilize in a field that benefits from public engagement and understanding.
It’s crucial to utilize these social media platforms! When it comes to connecting with your public, this is one of the most efficient ways to do so and here’s why:
People have access to your organization’s brand and message in summary through social media. From these sites, they should be able to decide whether or not this organization is something they could see themselves supporting or engaging with. From your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, people are able to make a quick assessment before deciding if they want to learn more.
When it comes to spreading the word, and fast, social media’s your go-to. And we know that from experience, whether that be good or bad. The same goes for using social media in a public relations practice. While we may not put out an entire news release on a social media outlet, we might link and share it across platforms. It’s how we get our Instagram audience and our Twitter audience to come together and find the same source. No matter how they found your client, they will all be directed to the same information quickly and efficiently.
Moreover, the speed of social media allows practitioners to stay in the loop and ahead of the curve. Social media helps practitioners look at what’s trending and find ways to be a part of that conversation while it’s relevant. Whether it be commenting on a trend that aligns with your public as it happens, or dispelling potential rumors before it becomes a crisis communication situation, social media is the perfect tool for instantaneous communication.
Social media allows direct insight on what resonates with your public. Many forms of social media allow you to monitor how well your posts are performing through likes, shares, views, and other analytics. This helps practitioners understand how successful media campaigns are going.
Maintaining the Relationship with Your Audience
One of the most essential uses of social media is that it helps you build and maintain your audience. Your socials allow you to be in constant communication with the people who follow your organization. As your brand grows, so will your audience. As we engage in these social media platforms, we’re able to get direct feedback from our publics and do our jobs efficiently. It’s important to take advantage of these opportunities to understand and maintain the longevity of the relationship between your organization and their target audience.
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As aspiring PR professionals, we understand that networking is everything. Connections are the ingredients needed for having a successful career. But you can’t just wait for connections to fall on your lap – you must be on the hunt! So, what is the best way to do this? You have to put yourself out there and get involved – and the sooner the better. Not only does getting involved allow you to create professional relationships, you can also utilize the skills you learned about the PR field in a real-world setting.
For example, you can employ your sweet PR skills by joining one of PRSSA’s committees or Titan Public Relations! Involving yourself will allow you to gain experience, network with others, and apply your PR knowledge in the field. It is so important and refreshing to surround yourself with individuals who are passionate and goal-oriented because it will keep you focused and motivated.
But hey, perhaps you are currently involved in one of CSUF’s many other organizations that do not seem to have a direct relation to PR. Well, you would be surprised how you can still employ those PR skills into practice.
For instance, last year when I transferred to CSUF, I did not know exactly what I wanted to do or which one of the hundreds of clubs to join. I just knew that I wanted to find a place where I could enjoy myself and be a part of something that would help propel my career path. That’s when I found Titan Radio, CSUF’s radio station, at Discoverfest. They pitched to me all the reasons why I should join, but I was hesitant and unsure how this would even coincide with my PR goals. But after being with them for over a year, I am glad I joined because it sharpened the skills I need to thrive in PR.
Let me tell you the 3 ways how:
1. Emails! Emails! Emails!
As a current Titan Radio intern, I am constantly sending email pitches to different organizations on campus for possible collaborative events. And as students of PR, we know that constructing the perfect email that can hold the recipient’s attention is, dare I say, an art form we are constantly trying to perfect.
2. Personal Brand
I took advantage of Titan Radio’s powerful platform by using it to establish my personal brand. Every week for one hour, not only did I play hits that were absolute fire, I used it to showcase my Adobe editing skills. Additionally, I crafted a specific narrative about myself that would appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Through Titan Radio I have met so many passionate people from different backgrounds and majors. I value every professional relationship created, because like I said, we are hungry to make connections in a field where knowing the right people can make all the difference.
In closing, I stress again the importance of getting involved! There are so many opportunities for you to grow and hone your skills, you do not want to let a semester go by without getting involved in anything. Even if you feel like there is no direct PR relation, believe me when I tell you that all roads lead to Rome. And by Rome, I mean PR. Because no matter where you find yourself involved in, you could write social media posts to promote your organization, or network with individuals who are actively involved within it. And you know what that is? That’s PR, baby!
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If you’re a member of PRSSA, you’re likely familiar with the Executive Board. The head honchos of our student chapter. Our fearless, flawless leaders. Our brilliant, overqualified, super-human overachievers. Or at least, that’s what we like to tell ourselves.
In reality, every board member got their start with an ordinary membership. We just knew we wanted to get more involved, felt like we were ready for the responsibility, and took the steps we needed to take to move forward with the election process.
How Do You Start the Process?
Running for the board might sound intimidating, but really all you do is choose the position or positions that you think you’d be best suited for, attend one of our open board meetings (the last one is on March 10, mark your calendar if interested), and submit your application and resume. From there, you go through an interview process and give a speech to your chapter about why you think you’d be the best fit for your role of choice, and then the EB members are determined by popular vote.
But this begs the question: Why run for the Executive Board in the first place? To answer that question, I’ve outlined a couple of major benefits I’ve found from my experience on the board.
1. Resume-building Experience
To say that a position on the e-board offers a breadth of experience would be an understatement. Depending on the position you’re in, you might become proficient in social media management, writing, event planning, or networking with professionals.
Regardless of what position you’re in, however, what remains consistent across the board is that you will learn how to work in a team and represent something bigger than yourself. You have to learn to coordinate with and depend on your fellow members, while in many cases, also being the leader of your own committee.
On your resume, a leadership position in PRSSA shows you’re dedicated to the industry. It shows you’re ambitious and know how to thrive in a professional environment (plus the flashy “VP of ________” title really catches the eye).
2. Long-lasting Friendships
A great aspect of being a part of the board is the relationships you make along the way. You work with your fellow board members to meet deadlines, advance PRSSA as an organization, and, through those tasks, bond with them on a regular basis. Once everything’s said and done, you’ve likely made some meaningful friendships. For example, I’m nearing the end of my experience with the board and can confidently say I’d recommend any of my fellow members to a future employer; if only because I would be ecstatic to have a chance to work with them again.
You’d think that what you’d miss most from your board position would be the professional perks or the opportunities that follow, but what you actually end up mourning the most is that you don’t have another biweekly board meeting scheduled where you get to catch up and work alongside your friends.
Running for board can be intimidating, but the experience you receive from your position is more than worth it. It puts you in a position to make professional connections, beef up your resume, and create lasting friendships with your fellow board members.
If I had one recommendation for anyone on the fence about applying for a board position, it would be: Just give it a shot! You won’t regret it.
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The management team is the foundation of a successful PR company. Without strong leadership and communication, most companies would fall under. As a college student, you should start learning how to become a better leader.
Here are some tips on how to improve your leadership skills.
A person in a leadership position needs to know how to delegate. One person in a team can’t do all of the work on their own. It’s just inefficient and can result in burnout. This is where your delegation comes in. Determine what tasks need to be done, assign them to your members along with deadlines, and then make sure to check in with them along the way.
You can start practicing this skill by volunteering to be the head of any group project. Then you can begin to practice delegating tasks to your group members. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also be doing your share of the work. Delegate some tasks, but not everything. You also want to lead by example, but more on that later.
2. Get Involved
It might go without saying, but the best way to gain leadership skills is to get involved and volunteer yourself for leadership positions. For example, you could apply to become an account executive in Titan Public Relations, CSUF PRSSA’s student-run PR firm, or run for a position on our Executive Board.
However, if those kinds of positions sound intimidating, start smaller. It doesn’t even have to be PR related. Take charge by starting a study group with some of your classmates, or by creating a book club and designating meeting times on Discord. The important thing is that you make progress!
3. Lead by example
A great leader has good ethics. They don’t just dictate all of the work to their team members. When you’re in charge, you don’t want to assign any task that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. This means you want to be reliable and consistent. When your team sees you working hard and doing your best, they will likely be compelled to do the same. And remember, you’re supposed to be the backbone of your team, so if you aren’t being consistent, it’s likely that your team will follow suit.
To elaborate more on this concept, if you want someone to listen to you more, make sure you are a good listener. If you want your team to try their best, make sure you’re also giving it your all. You can also try this at your work. If you ask a coworker to do something, make sure you can return the favor. It earns respect and appreciation.
Being a leader is something that you’re going to have to get good at if you want to make it far in the PR industry. If you ever want to be in charge of your own client or even your own agency one day, you need to put yourself out there and hone your ability to take charge. To that end, it’s best that you sharpen those leadership skills now, while you’re still in college, rather than later, when your job depends on you.
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Out of all of the benefits of becoming a member of PRSSA, the one I’m most grateful for was the opportunity to participate in Titan Public Relations, CSUF’s student-run PR firm. It was an experience that taught and challenged me, whilst introducing me to colleagues that I now call my friends. For that reason, if you’ve heard about TPR and are on the fence as to whether you should apply, I encourage you to join. Take a leap of faith. Give it a shot. You won’t regret it.
And if my word alone wasn’t enough to persuade you, I’ve outlined four reasons why you should join Titan Public Relations below.
1. Hands-On Experience
One of the hardest things about starting a career in any industry is getting your foot in the door. Many entry-level PR jobs require that you have years of experience to qualify. This can make your first job-search a nightmare, and it’s the reason why some of my colleagues had to spend over six months after college looking for a job before they got their big break. This is also why TPR is so valuable: no experience is required to join.
For me, this was a game changer. Prior to TPR, I had no experience other than learning about public relations theoretically in a classroom setting. After I joined, however, I was dropped right into the PR industry, doing actual work for real clients that depended on our team. Though it might sound like a lot of pressure, the experience that I got gave me confidence in myself and my resume moving forward.
2. Make Your Resume Stand Out
This point heavily relates to the last one. That’s because I really wanted to hammer home the fact that: Employers want their employees to know what they’re doing. The more experience you have prior to your first job search, the more competitive your resume will be. The more competitive your resume, the quicker you can score a well-paying job and start paying off those pesky student loans.
During my internship interviews, all hiring managers I talked to wanted to know the extent of my past experience. Had it not been for TPR, I would have been stuck telling them solely about projects I completed in my classrooms. Now, this isn’t necessarily the worst thing. School projects are valid experiences, however, TPR is on another level. It gave me experience in drafting PR proposals, crafting and sending out media pitches, and running full-blown social media campaigns for actual businesses. These experiences are what made me stand out from the crowd and are the reason I have the internship I have today.
Sometimes, living in the virtual world can make it seem as though networking is impossible. Though that isn’t the case, it sure is a lot more difficult to form those deep bonds with colleagues when you aren’t in person. This is part of what makes TPR such a great opportunity: it’s an environment that facilitates the creation of personal and professional connections.
When you are working in a team of proactive students toward a common goal, it’s hard to not become friends by the time you finish. The best part is, I’ve found the more rapport I build with my team, the more motivation I have to produce quality work, and the more fun I have doing so.
4. Leadership Skills
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, I recommend you apply to be an account executive. This role requires that you head communication with your client, set deadlines for your team’s goals, and delegate tasks to the account coordinators working under you.
Prior to TPR, I had zero experience when it came to being a leader. Becoming an Account Executive changed that. I had to oversee everyone else’s tasks, keep them on track, and make decisions to pivot our goals when necessary. For me, being in charge was a challenge, but it was also the most rewarding experience I received from the firm. I highly recommend that any CSUF student interested in owning their own agency or freelance team one day starts by applying to be an account executive for TPR.
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