Hofstra PRSSA Introduces Students to Government PR

At Hofstra PRSSA’s common hour meeting, members had the opportunity to hear from David Chauvin, Director of Public Relations at Zimmerman Edelson, Inc.  David, a graduate of Hofstra himself, specializes in government PR and shared a wealth of knowledge and some great anecdotes with the students.

For several attendees, this was the first they had ever heard about the government sector of public relations, and although many may never have a hand in creating a political campaign (or even, unfortunately, set foot in a polling place) David’s advice was relevant and interesting for anyone looking to pursue a career in the public relations industry.

Tip #1: It is still essential to read print

This does not mean you should immediately delete your Twitter and deactivate your Facebook account (more on that in Tip #2).  On the other hand, you must balance your consumption of digital and traditional media.  David urged students to pick up a newspaper whenever they could get their hands on one.  He explained that print publications set the agenda for the day, so it is crucial that you read, understand, and have an opinion on what these outlets are reporting on.

Tip #2: You are expected to know social media

Thirty years ago, knowing how to type may have been a precious skill but today it is an ordinary prerequisite for most jobs.  Similarly, being a Gen-Yer who is proficient in all things social media is no longer impressive but rather, expected by job recruiters.  David informed us that employers expect students to be active on these platforms and to understand how they work.

Tip #3: Keep showing up, keeping asking for responsibility

This tip is especially pertinent for those of you who are currently interning, or who plan on interning ever (so all of you).  I am a firm believer that when it comes to an internship experience: you get out what you put in.  In David’s example, he was a volunteer who was not initially given much responsibility.  Once he began showing up on a regular basis, and continued to do so, he was given much more challenging and rewarding tasks.  As an intern, always ask for additional projects, and be specific.  If you want more experience writing press releases, just ask!  Your superiors will notice your eagerness and you will receive greater responsibility and a much more worthwhile learning experience.

Tip #4: The public wants information to find them

This piece of advice is applicable for students pursuing a career in any sector of the industry.  It is important to know your audience, and to reach them in places that they frequent.  They no longer want to have to search for information; they want it to find them.  This is where social media can play a huge role.  Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking and micro blogging sites allow companies to reach consumers and talk with them, rather than at them.  Don’t just spew out information and promote your brand (or yourself), join the conversation and become a reliable and trusted source of information.

Rebecca Wool
PRSSA 

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The Must Read Bible: Be Your Own Best Publicist

“Without promotion something terrible happens…Nothing!” – P.T. Barnum

Indeed, what a terrible thing that would be for us PR majors- and hopefully one day great PR professionals- if there was no promotion. Companies, organizations, places, products and even people need promotion like a fish needs water. PR professionals use techniques and strategies to help improve the images of these companies and have become an essential part of their business. Everyone needs a publicist, even you. Yes, I said you. It is a reality that at this moment- with the way things are going in this economy- standing out is critical in this competitive job market. You must be wondering, how can I afford to have a publicist? Well, you can be your own publicist; in fact you can be your own best publicist.

Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper are both PR pros who have been in the industry for a combined 30-plus years. Both women realized that even though there were books out that talked about ‘selling yourself’ or even ‘branding yourself’ there really weren’t any books out there talking about building your own personal image from a public relations perspective. Together they have written Be Your Own Best Publicist which is full of tips on how to make yourself stand out using public relations techniques.

The setup of this book is to clearly show you how to do three major things when being your own  best publicist and that is to prepare, project and protect. Here is a small recap about the book:

Prepare “A goal without a plan is a wish.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  • In order to reach that professional image you want you must build a plan to guide you to your goal. Try building that plan backwards because without knowing where you want to be you won’t know how to get there.
  •  Once you have set those goals it is a good idea to set deadlines. It will help you push yourself to accomplish them and even if you miss the date you can move it to a new one.
  •   There is nothing more important when developing a plan than having a back-up plan, or several.
  • You should strive to be a know-it-all, but the good kind. Doing your research before meeting a potential employer is critical to feeling comfortable when talking to them. “There’s a reason why Google is a verb.”
  • Also, do a little soul searching. You must be able to know yourself- skills, attributes, qualities- and know what makes you, you. Without knowing yourself how will others know you?

Project “Your network is truly your net worth.”

  •  Building a strong network and cultivating those personal connections is a key element of success in any industry.
  •  “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” -JFK   This is especially true when you’re making contacts. Always try to do something for them, hopefully in the future they will reciprocate.
  •  Additionally, you need to be aware of what you wear, how you look and how you present yourself aesthetically. You don’t need to be the best-looking or best-dressed just make a statement- a good one- because how you present yourself speaks volumes of who you are.
  • Break though the clutter! Try to stay at the top of someones mind whether it be by staying in contact or showing your achievements – in a non bothersome way- you don’t want to get lost in the crowd.

Protect “You shouldn’t put anything down in writing that you wouldn’t want published on the front page of the New York Times.” – Unknown

  • Self-promotion is a very important part and you want to be remembered for the right reasons. Being consistently late, wearing inappropriate attire or even acting improper is not the image you want to send out to people. Be aware of how you put yourself out there.
  • Never underestimate the power of a thank you note, especially a handwritten one.
  •  Be aware of your social media reputation and what you put out there whether it be a comment about work or where you check in on Fours Square. One thing is for sure, HR people are going to google everything they can about you.
  • “Anything you say and do can and may be used against you in the court of public opinion.” With phones that take great pictures and have great film quality anything you do can be up on flicker or youtube in a heartbeat.
  •  Problem-solving should be your middle name. When a problem arises don’t see the negative side but view the opportunities that could arise from the situation.

And there you have it, a small recap of the book which contains hundreds of more tips and advice on bettering yourself for the professional world. “Be Your Own Best Publicist” is not your father’s dusty old business book. It is a relatable, inspiring and great insight into the public relations world while helping you discover how to put your best foot forward into the professional world. The book is quite amusing and contains great personal stories from the co-authors themselves- one of my favorites involves an Irish stew and Conan O’Brien incident- and various other stories from different professionals. I highly recommend this book to people who wish to obtain great insight into the public relations world and what it takes to make yourself stand out in the crowd.

Shirley Huyhua
Agency Staff Member

12 Must-Have Networking Tips

Tomorrow is PRSSA’s Annual Networking Dinner and what better way is there to prepare for a networking event than to hear from an expert networker, Mindy Ferrentino Wolfe, President of Neptune Marketing LLC.

Mindy has won countless awards including, but not limited to Public Relations Professionals of Long Island Mentor of the Year award in 2009, was named one of the top 50 most influential women in business by Long Island Business News and presented the President’s Award from Soroptimist International of Nassau County both in 2008.

On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, PRSSA and PRestige members got the chance to learn tips and tricks to develop networking skills from Mindy. Don’t worry if you missed the meeting! Below is a recap of her twelve tips to networking:

  1. It’s all about relationship building. It’s not about giving out and collecting the greatest number of business cards.
  2. Follow up, follow up, follow up!
  3. Networking is not pitching- it is all about relationship building.
  4. Gravitate towards other “onezies” in the room.
  5. Effective networkers don’t wait for opportunities to come to them. Bo an introduction facilitator- be proactive.
  6. Volunteerism- altruism has it rewards.
  7. It’s about giving and not getting- payback will come!
  8. Hey, look at me when we’re talking! You can still work the room.
  9. Don’t sit with people you know.
  10. Effective networking requires investment time.
  11. Name tag on the right side.
  12. Never underestimate the value of a thank you.

Whether this is your first networking dinner, or your fourth, you can learn from Mindy’s tips. Make sure to build relationships with the professionals. You don’t need to talk to all of the professionals in the room; it is about the quality of the relationship not the quantity of professionals you speak with. When the dinner ends is when the relationship building can really begin. Email the professionals personalized thank you emails and connect with them on LinkedIn and/or twitter. The professionals attending the event understand the goal of student attendees is to obtain internships/jobs and make connections that can help them reach these goals so do not feel uncomfortable asking about internship programs or job opportunities- the professionals are attending to help you.

In addition to covering networking tips and tricks, Mindy shared with us what students can include on business cards: first and last name, phone number, email address, twitter, LinkedIn, and something to identify yourself (i.e.-PRSSA Member, PRestige Member). If you have networking cards, we encourage you to bring them to the dinner.

This year’s Networking Dinner is taking place today, November 6, 2011 at 8:00 PM. Professional guests include ESPN, Rubenstein, Hunter Public Relations, CJP Communications, Micah Jesse, and the American Kennel Club. I look forward to seeing all of you pro-networkers there!

Kim Caro
President, PRSSA

Professional’s Tips from A Night of Networking

 

Women in Leadership

As we make our way through our college years, networking and forming contacts for the future becomes increasingly important. Connections have become a primary way for communication students to make the transition from college into the working world. I am constantly thinking about people I know who can help me get to where I want to be. On Monday, in hopes of expanding my network, I attended A Night of Networking hosted by Hofstra University’s new program, Women in Leadership. At this event, students and recent alumni were able to listen to and get tips from a panel of Hofstra graduates who have made their way up the corporate ladder and now hold positions that would be a dream come true for many current students. This was a great opportunity to learn some dos and don’ts of the trade; but don’t panic, if you weren’t able to go, here are some helpful tips from the professionals.

 

Ask Questions – Lauren Ruotolo, Director of Entertainment Promotions at Hearst Magazine, is an avid believer in asking questions. Ruotolo stated that a lot of the time, when given a task, interns don’t know exactly what their supervisors are looking for. If you are not 110 percent positive you know what you are doing, make sure you ask questions. This will show that you are passionate about learning the ropes and getting things right the first time. Not to mention, you will make both yours and your boss’s lives easier.

Go Back to the Basics – Facebook, Twitter, and texting has flipped our writing skills upside down. As students, we are constantly using social media to get our points across in a fast manner – these days we don’t even have the time to write out the word “you” anymore. However, once we make our way into the working world, we need to remember that “u” is just a letter and not an actual word. Bonnie Optekman, Vice President of News Technology at NBC, told the audience to always revert back to the basics. Even in a text message, employers want to see that we are aware of proper spelling and possess good writing skills. Optekman advised to always be professional while communicating during your internships.

Snail Mail – Who would have guessed that the postal service still exists? Email has taken over snail mail and to many college students regular mail is no longer a form of communication. However, the panel of professionals believes a hand written thank you note after an interview can go a long way. It was agreed upon that receiving a thank you card rather than an email shows that the interviewee really cares. Celia Berk, Chief Talent Officer at Young & Rubicam Brands and moderator of the event, gave a great piece of advice when she told the audience to add aspects of interview conversation into your thank you notes. This demonstrates to employers that you were interested in what was going on and that you’re passionate about your possible internship. Just think about it, an extra 44 cents for a stamp can put you at the top of any professional’s list!

If you hope to be in the seats of these professionals someday, their tips and tricks are great stepping stones to get you where you want to be.

 

 

Daniele Natola, Junior, Public Relations Major

Building Your Professional Portfolio

Why create a professional portfolio?
The purpose of a professional portfolio is to market your skills and capabilities to potential employers in interview situations. Portfolios can help you negotiate promotions or raises, and apply for bonuses. The condition and organization of your portfolio speaks volumes to the type of person you are and the quality of your professional development. Lastly, but most importantly, portfolios demonstrate prior work and/or learning experiences, making you more appealing to potential employers.
Portfolio Tips…..from Hofstra’s very own Professor Semple!
  • Buy a nice binder in a dark color, so it doesn’t get smudged or dirty easily.
  • Begin your portfolio with your resume in a plastic sleeve (resumes are only to be 1 page, 10 point font at the smallest)
  • All pieces should go in plastic sleeves, laid out front and back.
  • Next you have should have any professional clippings, pitches or press releases that you have from internships. Make it logical. If you wrote a pitch, that resulted in a placement. Show the pitch, then the placement, etc…
  • Continue with any publications you might have written for (school newspapers, newsletters, blog posts, etc…)
  • Last, include any copywriting tools you created from your PR classes or PRSSA and/or PRestige.
  • DO NOT list anything from high school.
  • You can include a list of professional references if you like, put the sheet at the back of your portfolio.

Portfolio Tips From PRSSA.org:

  • Gathering material is the most challenging part of putting together a good portfolio. The best advice in this regard is –keep everything! You can decide later what to include.
  • Organize, Organize, Organize! Keeping “press kit” portfolios will allow you to either send them to employers or leave them with interviewers.
  • Be considerate of your potential employers time, you don’t need to include everything that you wrote while in college, just the most outstanding pieces that scream talent. This is more impressive to an employer than a large portfolio.
What can be included in a professional portfolio?
Items typically found in most professional portfolios include:
  • Resume
  • Evidence of professional affiliations
  • Licenses or Certificates
  • Letters of reference
  • Evidence of specific skills (e.g. public speaking, leadership, writing)
  • Work Samples (e.g. class projects, items produced during internship or co-op experiences)
A strong portfolio includes several things…
  • A writing sample – if you must, use an academic writing sample and clearly mark it as such.
  • A brochure, newsletter or copy of a website that illustrates desk-top publishing or technical skills.
  • Make sure your portfolio is organized and free of typos. Even if your portfolio is outstanding a typo will grab the attention of potential employers.
  • Clearly label your name, address and phone number on your portfolio.
  • A good portfolio highlights what you would most like to be doing in the future and is representative of your skills.
  • Your portfolio should provide your employer with a good mix of your skills and talents.

Networking Tips and Etiquette

Hofstra’s chapter of PRSSA will be hosting its 4th annual Networking Dinner on

Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7:00 p.m.

Networking Dinner is an excellent opportunity for Hofstra students to connect to PR professionals on a more personal level. Professionals attending the dinner will include: Jessica Bellucci from Pix 11, Stephanie Golden from The Lippin Group, Erin Maestas from The Knot, Michelle Betrock from the Food Network, Jill Weiskopf from New York Magazine, and many more. All professionals will be invited to share a few words about what they do and will then be able to mingle with students.

For any PR student looking for an internship, or just more information about a particular branch of PR, this event is a must!

It is essential to not only be able to network but be able to walk into any situation and confidently begin a conversation with anyone in the room. As the saying goes, it’s not always what you know but who you know.

Andrew Weich, a PR and Social Media Coordinator, provides some good tips on the Comet Branding Blog http://cometbranding.com/blog/.

1. Hang up and Live.

First of all, put your phone away. “Hang up and Live.” My good friend Vince always preaches this to me when we are together in social settings. I know,  sounds hypocritical for me to tell people to put their phone away when I catch myself disobeying this rule. I often find that my phone can be a crutch at a networking event. Instead of forcing myself to talk with someone, I’ll just whip out the ol’ Droid from my pocket and check my email, Twitter and Facebook. Then I think to myself, “How can I expect to engage with other attendees if I’m glued to my phone the whole time?”

The phone doesn’t have be turned off or left in the car, but be conscious of how other guests perceive you. I’m less likely to walk up to someone and spark up a conversation if all they are doing is staring at their phone. Even in this TweetUp/MeetUp/Web2.0 world we live in, we still need to be aware of our surroundings and make the right impression.

Prepare your Elevator Pitch

Typically the first question someone asks you after finding out your name is “what do you do?” It’s a pretty basic question, but sometimes can cause a lot of people to trip up.  Before you enter a networking event, quickly practice your elevator speech to yourself. How do you want these potential professional contacts to see you? Make sure it’s not too long — just some quick facts about who you are and what you do, which will hopefully open up into more conversations.

The eyes are the windows to the soul

My high school theater director told me this quote in terms of engaging with the audience, but the same concept can be applied to a networking setting. Non-verbal communication cues are very important in a social atmosphere and I believe the eyes take the cake. We can say so much with our eyes alone, so maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to, smile, be engaged in the conversation and see where you can contribute.

Speak up!

This is one tip I usually have the hardest time with. Being a young professional in a networking setting, I often just try to blend in the background and listen, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but shouldn’t always be the case. When in a discussion, feel free to speak up. Show your smarts and contribute to the conversation. During my college career, I had a professor with an outstanding business record that would always say teaching had opened his eyes to so many possibilities. Although young professionals might not have all the experience, we still have some pretty cool ideas so don’t be afraid to share and contribute.

Melissa has read several articles about networking etiquette from various business professionals and websites. Each article she’s read more or less said the same thing. Here’s the consensus:

Pay attention to social cues

Although you may have intentions of discussing business, your prospective contact may have been looking forward to some down time. If you infringe on certain topics the other person is not interested in talking about, you are risking losing what may be a valuable contact to you in your future. Be sure to gauge what mood the person is in, or perhaps warm up with basic topics of interest so you may eventually ease the conversation into what you intended to talk to the person about.

Dress to impress

Networking isn’t always at a ready set time and place. You could find potential contacts at a bar, restaurant, or even in line for popcorn at the movie theaters. Therefore, make sure you are always in clothes that flatters you in a composed way. But don’t feel inhibited if you aren’t dressed your best when you run into a potential contact; your best outfit is a genuine smile and confidence. Basically, you want to make sure “your visual message matches your verbal message” as Aviva Shiff says in her article on Sideroad, a website that gives “Practical Advice Straight from the Experts”.

Set a goal

Why are you networking? Is it because you’d like to learn from people involved with certain industries? Is it because you think you’ve designed the next form of social media?  Be sure to mingle genuinely with everyone, but setting a goal such as “I’d like to walk out tonight with 5 business cards” will not only give you more drive, it will help you avoid sitting at the bar or table where you may not meet as many people compared to if you were up and about.

Master small talk

Easiest way to do this? Research, research, research!!! Read newspapers, books, listen to different kinds of music. Basically, you want to have a well-rounded basis of information. You never know what sort of interests people will have. Challenge yourself to be able to find common ground with everyone you meet.

Follow-through

Networking is all about building relationships. It goes beyond a conversation. Be sure to shoot a follow-up e-mail or call, either about meeting up at another event, congratulating he or she on a latest accomplishment, or even sending information on topics that you were discussing.


The bottom line is that networking is self-promoting and personal branding. Look and talk the way that you want to be seen and heard. Show interest while others are speaking and actually try to develop relationships.

Alissa Crist, Freshman, Public Relations Major

Melissa Louis-Jacques, Junior, Music Merchandising Major with Public Relations Minor

Internship Spotlight: FOX News Channel/FOX Business Network

Name of Company/Organization: FOX News Channel/ FOX Business Network

Office Location: New York City

Was it In-House or Agency? In-House

Type of PR: Media Relations

Size of PR Department: Small to Medium

Semester and Year you interned: Spring 2008

How did you find out about this internship? Professor Geyer

How many days a week did you work? Are they flexible? I interned 3 days a week from 9 -6pm. They are very flexible.

Was it a paid internship? $10 a day stipend.

What were some of the things you were responsible for? Clips!!!! A million clips, getting video grabs, submitting daily guests to AP Daybook & Reuters, ordering newspapers, building  & maintaining media lists, reading a million blogs.

What did you learn from this internship? I learned how to get video grabs, how to search for clips, who to pitch to in radio.

What did you like about this internship? The location and the people were great – with the exception of one person. I liked that I was busy almost all of the time.

What, if anything, did you dislike about the internship? One person was awful. You don’t really work with the upper management. I did no writing. The commute was rough because they keep you so late.

Would you recommend this internship to other PR students? Yes

Additional Comments/Advice: Be prepared to work a lot of long hours for basically no pay.