Monday, October 31, 2011

Search Engine Optimization: Press Release Edition

Gone are the days of sending your press release to solely journalists or media outlets. The reality is, your audience is everywhere and you need to make your pitch known from all angles. However, many PR pros aren't taking advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) to relay their message quickly, effectively, and with sufficient content that will be seen by over a billion users, all of which are potential clients in some shape, way, or form. Below are some ways that you can make your PR presence known:
  • Keywords are the key: Avoid consumer speak. Be generous with your language, keep in mind that your audience does not think the same way as you. Use keywords that consumers will associate with your content and thus make it easier for your content to be found.
  • Short and to the point: Just like any other press release, make sure your message is clear and precise because the bloggers, journalists, and other PR execs reading your press release will be pressed for time and eager to get to your story.
  • Search smart: Most search engines only show a small blurb of your content. Try to set it up so that your most relevant information is in the first paragraph, so that when readers click on your link, they will get the main idea of the release.
  • Link back! Include links in your online press release. This will make it easier for journalists, bloggers, etc. to cover you and find any additional information to include in their story.
To read more on building your content on search engine optimization, click here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Are You PR Material?

So you’re thinking about a career in public relations, but how do you know if it’s right for you? Although you may not be positive that this career will suit you, you may possess the essential qualities of being a PR pro without even realizing it.

A study conducted in 2004 on agency, corporate and non-profit powerhouses reported several areas that can distinguish a successful career in the demanding PR world:

1. Diversity: Clients understand the need for their public relations staff to have the ability to communicate with a diverse audience. For the ideal PR pro communicating with diverse groups of people all day would not be intimidating, but enjoyable!

2. Communication skills: American public relations consultant and author, Fraser P. Seitel, admits that every PR professional should have a pro communication attitude. If you never fear of talking to the public and take full advantage of those opportunities, you just may be PR material.

3. Proactivity and passion: Take it from me; being proactive and passionate can take you places in this industry. I recently applied for an internship, and I immediately found a contact person to email expressing my interest. She was able to forward my resume to the HR department. After I was called back for an interview, I emailed her once again thanking her for her help, asked for any interview tips to give me a leg up on the competition. She responded enthusiastically by saying, “the communication you’re putting in makes the difference between the average and the great employees, so stay proactive and you’ll go far.”

4. Intangibles, such as personality, likeability, and chemistry: NYC PR Girls say you know you have PR charm if you can confidently and comfortably walk into any event. You would even be comfortable walking in by yourself because you’re confident that you’ll be best friends with everyone before the end of the night.

In The Practice of Public Relations by Fraser P. Seitel, he outlines specific “attitudes” that are imperative to PR professionals:

1. Advocacy: Public relations professionals are required to believe in their clients. They are the voice of their employers, therefore they must advocate on their behalf. Standing up for what their employers represent is a must.

2. Ethics: It is required that public relations professionals be ethical. The PRSA Code of Ethics states that, “bottom line, successful public relations hinges on the ethics of its practitioners.” If doing the right thing is your thing, then the possibility of your success in PR is looking good.

3. Positive outlook: NYC PR Girls warn that rejection happens in the PR industry, but that does not mean you are allowed to take no for an answer. There are times where public relations work can get frustrating, but it is important for the mantra of PR professionals to be “You win some, you lose some.”

Do you "have what it takes" to be a successful PR professional? Let us know!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Samantha Miller.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Minor Details: 5 Minors That Compliment a PR Major

As PR students, one thing we never stop hearing is how many possibilities are available to PR majors. Luckily for us, this couldn’t be more true! Public relations is an extremely large field, and there is no one type of PR. From in-house to agency, the possibilities are truly endless. With so many different possible directions in the PR field alone, minoring in another subject before entering the work force can help ward off indecisiveness while at the same time expanding your horizons. Below are five minors sure to compliment a major in PR:

1. English/Creative Writing: Public relations is extremely writing intensive. It is important that your grammar and overall writing skills are superb. No agency wants to intrust their blogs, press releases, or social media accounts to someone with poor writing skills.

2. Graphic Design: Numerous agencies spend countless hours, and money, working side-by-side with graphic designers. Having a minor in graphic design on your resume would give you a great advantage because it allows executives to cut out the middle man.

3. Sociology/Psychology: The overall goal of public relations is to influence the behaviors and attitudes of the public. What better way to do so than by studying the public you wish to influence up close? Knowing how your public thinks and behaves will better suit you to know how to serve them.

4. Communications: Communications is the foundation of public relations. Studying communications will familiarize you with the theories, history, and practices of communications that will ultimately make you a successful and effective communicator. Also, you will be able to pick up some great group communication skills, which are extremely helpful for networking in the PR field.

5. Foreign Language: In today’s world, people are more globally connected than ever. Working in the PR business, you will meet and be in contact with people from all over the world. Being able to communicate with various groups of people is definitely a resume booster not to mention an invaluable asset!

No matter what minor you decide on, there is always some way to connect it back to public relations. However, adding the right minor can be the one thing on your resume that sets you apart from hundreds of other PR students. Remember, the more you stand out the more likely you are to be remembered!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Amber Burns.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tools for a Professional Tweeter

As someone who spends a lot of time on Twitter, whether for personal use or when managing a client's social media efforts, I loved the aritcle of Ragan's PR Daily, Tweet like a pro: 8 Twitter Tools to Try. The tools range from optimizing the timing of posts to building your network with relevant followers. The following are a few that I have either used or plan on using in the future:

1. Tweriod: Ever wondered which times of the day would be the best for you to tweet? Look no further. Tweriod gives you a wonderful analysis of when you will be able to reach the most followers. The app takes into account how well your tweets perform at various times and when your followers tweet the most.

I love using Tweriod for both my own account and my clients' accounts because there are many times that I wonder when my posts would receive the most amplification with followers. Tweriod takes all of the guess work out and provides you with insightful analytics on optimal posting times.

2. ParrotFish: ParrotFish from labs is a wonderful productivity tool that will save you a lot of time. It displays all links from the tweets you come across with rich text preview. This means you can read the post from the link before clicking through.

This is a tool I plan on using in the future because there are several times when I click through a link and it turns out to be a big waste of my time. Now I can save time and only read articles that are of interest.

3. TweetLevel: While building your network on Twitter, it is often key to make the people you engage with relevant and impactful for your niche. TweetLevel offers a wonderful solution to search other Twitter users by a number of different parameters. For example, you can search by influence, trust, engagement or popularity. It is then very easy to follow and start talking to these people right from the app.

I am incredibly excited to start using this tool for our clients. It can sometimes be difficult finding the right users to connect with. By analyzing users through a variety of metrics, it will be easier to build a network of relevant followers.

To read about the other 5 Twitter tools for professionals, read the rest of the article here.

What are some of your favorite social media tools? Let us know!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

#Occupy Social Media

How can social media networks aid and implement large scale social revolutions and thought movements? Just ask the folks over at the Occupy movement.

The Occupy movement started with an online call-to-action by Adbusters, a fringe culture magazine with anti-capitalist tendencies. Adbusters urged Americans to begin an occupation of the financial district of New York City on September 27, 2011. Now, 41 days later, tens of thousands of Americans are occupying cities all across the country thanks to amazingly effective social media communication.

So how did they do it? Hashtags, videos, Facebook events, and total social media infection. The idea spread like a virus; from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to youth across the nation. Once the movement attracted the attention of traditional media there was no stopping it.

Social media’s role in modern social movements came to light during the Arab Spring in early 2011. Populist movements in Egypt and Tunisia used social media, namely Facebook and Twitter, as a communications and organizational tool. When government -controlled media outlets spewed only propaganda, the people turned to social media for the truth.

The Occupy movement has taken this idea and expanded on it. Social media can now be the catalyst for social movements, not just a medium through which they operate. Too bad Occupy can’t use social media to come up with a coherent platform; that might just be too much to ask.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Branding 102: The Personal Brand Statement

Last week I discussed the importance of a clean slate to begin developing your personal brand. In this branding segment, I will be explaining how to brainstorm your personal brand statement.

The Personal Brand Statement:
A personal brand statement is a great start when you are trying to figure out who you are and how you want others to see you (this is why we started with our personal Google search).

Start by making a list of your personal attributes. The ultimate goal here is to distinguish yourself from others by discovering and exemplifying a strong personal skill. Your personal brand statement will be the basis of your entire personal branding campaign and essentially how you make an impression on others. It’s important to be confident in your personal brand statement. If you do not believe in your personal statement why would others?

My personal statement is as follows:
“I pride myself in my ability to connect and relate to others through means of various communications.”

Simple but, it allows others to see that I am personable and have the ability to articulate my thoughts.

Next week I will be discussing the logistics in how you market your personal brand.
Happy branding.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How NOT to Get Hired-Resumania Part II

Working off of Niki's recent blog post about resume tips from PRSSA National Conference, I want to clarify items aspiring professionals may not even realize are hurting their odds of getting hired.

  • Keep it relevant. While it may make your resume longer, don't include jobs you held in high school or some of your first, basic internships. Tailor your experience to the employer that is receiving your resume. Also, leave out hobbies that don't pertain to your profession. These things can be brought up in an interview.
  • Be professional. This may seem obvious, but besides your name and contact information, personal details should not be included. Examples of inappropriate information include race, political affiliation, family information and religious beliefs. On a side note, it depends on the industry but a resume is not the place for a head shot, even though it may seem professional.
  • Salary expectations. Keep this out of your resume unless the employer specifically asks for it, in which you would provide a range. This can be discussed later in the interview process if you are being considered for employment.
  • Don't embellish. State your duties and responsibilities, but do not exaggerate for the sake of trying to impress a potential employer. Avoid dramatic phrases in these descriptions such as, "Implemented a very impressive social media campaign that gained a great deal of praise from supervisors". For that example, include statistics that show off your accomplishment such as, "Increased Twitter followers by 10%".
  • Negative experiences. Your resume is supposed to shed a positive light on your accomplishments. Do not include jobs you were fired from, or if you ended an internship early. The interview can be the place to share that information truthfully, if necessary.
Do you have any advice about what NOT to include on your resume?

Monday, October 24, 2011

What does Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) Mean?

Doctors have it, lawyers have it, and now PR pros have it too: a title. You may notice that your PR professors may have APR next to their name. So, what does that mean? APR is short for Accreditation in Public Relations, a graduate program designed to demonstrate competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to practice public relations effectively.

How do you earn your APR? Candidates must complete some form of education whether it be online classes, an independent case study, or independent readings, and finally pass an exam to demonstrate knowledge in modern PR practices.

Not sure about earning your APR? Those who earn the creditation are set apart from the rest of the PR professional community. In order to maintain active status, APRs are required to continue their education by volunteering, participating in development activities, or taking supplementary courses. The main benefit that APRs attest to is the community, that there is always a connection for APRs to network with other professionals who can mentor and guide them to furthering their career in PR with the leadership skills and dedication aquired from the APR program.

In a competitive job market, it is important to set yourself apart from the crowd, and earning your APR may do just that, proving to yourself and your colleagues that you are both committed to the field of Public Relations as well as knowledgable to current trends, making you invaluable to any employer.

To learn more about how to earn your APR, click here.

Are you thinking about getting your APR? Why or why not? Let us know!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cover Letter Cues from RKPR

We constantly hear professionals complaining about the horrid cover letters they receive during hiring time and it’s not something us young professionals should be proud of. Many very qualified students don’t get opportunities they may be fit for solely because of easily corrected errors in the application process. San Diego PR Professional, Rachel Kay CEO of Rachel Kay Public Relations, vents about the careless mistakes she sees on internship cover letters and how to fix them. Here are a few of her tips to take with you:

1. Know The Contact—Yes, sometimes companies do not list direct contacts for who specifically hires the interns, but stating, “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Staff” is not acceptable. If you don’t know a specific name, write to the company itself. “Dear RachelKPR team” would be a great way to personalize the greeting. Take advantage of the information that is already known.

2. I’m Applying Because I Need A Position, Any Position—We all have times when we are desperate for any job that may come our way, but it isn’t appealing to let a company know that. It is important to prove that you are fit for the position and you are interested in what the company does. The average Joe would write, “I saw your ad for interns and I’m very interested in the position. I haven’t worked in PR previously, but I have experience in other departments.” The more appropriate answer would be, “I’d be a great fit for the company. While I haven’t worked directly in an PR function, as hostess at Malone’s I was responsible for serving as each customer’s first impression of the company, which enabled me to cultivate my communication skills.”

3. Don’t Regurgitate Your Resume—A cover letter is a chance to show your knowledge of the company and why you would be a great addition. As Rachel says, it’s your chance to show you know their business, not the business. Instead of restating your experience in your resume, talk about the company, their clients, and what they’ve been up to lately. Let the professionals know that you keep up with the company and your common interests would be a great addition to the team.

4. Be Relevant—It is always impressive when prospective interns are in the know about what the company has been up to lately. It’s even more impressive when interns offer ideas that they can bring to the team if asked to come on board.

5. Enough About You Already—It’s easy for students to want to talk about all they’ve experienced, but cover letters that discuss the employer show that solid interest and knowledge of the company which can be more impressive than someone with tons of previous internship experience.

6. Edit, Edit, Edit—We hear this time and time again, editing is the most important step. It’s easy to miss tiny mistakes when you’ve been reading the same letter over and over again. Send your cover letter to a friend or a professor to look over before sending it out. That extra step could make the world of a difference in the end.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Andrea Jordan.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

For your PR Toolbox

How will you become a successful PR person? Know your resources! Familiarizing yourself with websites and software relevant to the industry gives you an edge over the less-informed PR pro.


Social media platforms improve PR campaigns by providing a means to reach and engage an interactive audience. But to be effective, PR people are itching to know how to correctly use social media. AddThis, an online bookmarking and sharing service, has analyzed sharing statistics for the past five years. After diving deep into its data pool, the service provides answers to burning questions about the social web. For example, AddThis tells us that we share the most on Wednesdays; social media users are not suffering from the mid-week blues. Awareness of social media trends makes it possible to update and post at optimal times. Is your audience retweeting your tweets, posting a link to your latest blog entry, or missing your posts altogether? PR people get inside the heads of their audience through AddThis.


Effective media relations requires up-to-date knowledge of press, broadcast, blogs, and the like. However, media contacts can become quickly dated as journalists move between outlets and cover new beats. MyMediaInfo, an in-depth media contacts database, is another time-saver, by targeting relevant outlets and journalists. Subscribers can search by outlet, contact or social media handle while narrowing the search to a designated marketing area or a publication’s focus. A current, relevant media list is a requirement for successful outreach and MyMediaInfo perfects the art.


When it comes to measuring PR impact, collecting press clippings is the easiest way. Although, simple cutting and pasting—whether on Microsoft Word or with scissors and glue—is tedious (and boring!). Screen capture programs like Snagit offer some relief. In just a few clicks, you can snag, edit, and organize screenshots of online media placements. Snagit will scroll an entire website or grab only a small portion of picture and text. The variety of ways in which to capture and edit digital formation using Snagit saves time and prevents stress-management headaches!

What other public relations resources might you suggest looking into? Let us know!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Frank Kunkle.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Resumania: Standing Above the Rest at #PRSSANC

During this year's PRSSA National Conference, I was one of the lucky few attendees to be randomly selected to attend an exclusive resume critique. The critique allowed students to sit at a table with one to two additional students, and receive personalized feedback from experienced professionals in the industry.

I had the opportunity to speak with three professionals in a variety of fields, ranging from international PR to public affairs. Their wide range of experience provided me with a wide range of advice and I wanted to share the main points that I found most helpful.

1. Write your resume in AP style. Although it isn't required, it is an extra touch that will show employers that you are familiar with AP while demonstrating that you have taken the extra time to pay special attention to detail.

2. Education should come AFTER experience. Everyone applying for the job has received a BA from some university, therefore its not going to make you stand out. Catch employers attention immediately by putting your most relevant experience at the very top of your resume.

3. The bigger your name, the better. Your name should pop on your resume and should be the first thing the eye is drawn to. Make the font bigger and bolder to make a bold statement on your resume.

4. Make two versions of your resume. Many people say they receive resumes longer than a page and they throw them out almost immediately. Create a comprehensive but thoughtful one-page resume in order to secure the interview. However, after landing an interview, bring a two-page resume with you that has more detail and information in order to demonstrate all of your experience.

5. Use strong verbs to demonstrate your experience. Get rid of the "responsible for..." and replace it with stronger words such as "managed" or "implemented." Your potential employer doesn't care about what you were responsible for but what you were able to achieve with the responsibilities assigned to you. Show these achievements through statistics, numbers and growth.

After ending each session, each professional made sure to state that many times, resume critiques are a matter of individual opinion or preference and that everyone will tell you something different. It is up to you to feel confident in your resume because you know yourself and your accomplishments better than everyone else. You have a single sheet of paper to make yourself make it count!

Do you have any other advice for building a strong resume? Let us know!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Senior Correspondent Rick Leventhal Advises Students at #PRSSANC

Who better to give advice about media relations than a senior correspondent with 24 years of experience under his belt?

That is exactly what Rick Leventhal, senior correspondent with Fox News Channel, did on Sunday, October 16, to a room of future public relations professionals at the Public Relations Student Society of America’s National Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Leventhal has been to warzones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Albania, Macedonia and Libya. He has covered such domestic stories as the BP oil spill, the Hudson plane crash and the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. Below are some great pieces of advice he offered to budding public relations professionals:

  • Research the Reporter: Do background research on the reporters you pitch, know what they write and why they would care about your story.
  • Focus on Brevity: Consolidate your media pitch into a small package. Reporters are stretched for time so make your pitch easy to read, concise and straight to the point.
  • Have an Angle: Every person or company has a story to tell. Make sure you find the unique story that will relate to the audience to which you are pitching.
  • Be helpful, not forceful: Reach out to journalists as a resource, not just a PR professional. Always be helpful but never tell a journalist how to write his story.

If you are interesting in learning more about Rick Leventhal, check out his Twitter account and read his bio.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Branding 101: Your Google Search

As future PR professionals, we need to begin to understand the rules of personal branding. Let us start with our personal Google search, shall we? How others see you in a simple Google search is the first step in understanding your personal brand. It is imperative to see what is associated with you and your name BEFORE you establish a personal brand. If anything on the Internet contradicts your values as a PR professional or your image, it is a misrepresentation of you and your future.

A recent Ragan article, "5 Simple Steps to Improve Your On-line Presence” sheds a bright light on how you clean the slate to establish a personal brand.

1. Google yourself regularly- Google your name, with quotes, and see your various results. My first result is my personal Twitter @swann824, which I keep professional but some are not so lucky. It’s important to Google yourself multiple times a month because of the updated algorithums Google conducts. Its also important to go pages deep in your search. Unfortunately for me, my Xanga still haunts me on page 12 of my Google Search.

2. Remove/hide negative content related to you- If there is any content control, like on Facebook, change your privacy settings to private or unsearchable. Its important to reset your Facebook privacy every so often because with every update Facebook changes its privacy terms and conditions, sneaky.

3. Highlight your achievements- Google has the ability to push your most searched content. So if you are extremely proud of your one blog post, try to find it on Google by associating yourself with the article and simply click on the link, i.e. "Samantha Wanner" AND "Organization in Writing."

4. Communicating your unwanted content- If there is unflattering content associated with your name ask the owner of the domain to politely take down the negative content. This also goes to Facebook, if there is an unflattering picture of you on Facebook, ask the owner to delete the picture from the album DO NOT just remove the tag, people can still find you.

5. The ultimate protection- The ultimate protection is buying your own domain. Spend the few dollars to have your content controlled under one name controlled by you. Another advantage of owning your domain is the ability to read your own analytics, like how many people view your blog posts through Facebook or Twitter, which channel is better for reaching certain audience.

Look out next Wednesday for more tips on how to coin your personal brand.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Perception Trumps Reality in Crisis Communication #PRSSANC

Returning from PRSSA National Conference in Orlando, I have been reflecting on the most beneficial session I attended. On our second day Richard Levick, President and CEO of Levick Strategic Communications, came to speak with us about his experience in crisis communications. Below I have outlined some of the tips he shared with us that really opened my eyes to the inside of the industry.
  • "What got you here, won't get you there." While your work got you the job, you can't keep performing at that same level to better yourself as a professional.
  • It is always a 1-0 binary. There is always the villain and the hero in a crisis, the public doesn't acknowledge the reasons for that or the people in the middle that are involved.
  • Be courageous. If you want to work in crisis communications you need be able to tell CEOs what they don't want to hear, and to go toe-to-toe with lawyers to succeed.
  • Do not be too slow to recognize the need to switch goals. Don't prolong the acknowledgement of a crisis because you are worried about being reprimanded. The right thing needs to happen now.
  • No word in marketing ends in "-ed". It is an ongoing process with words such as branding, promoting, etc.
  • We're not logical, we're emotional. Most of the public doesn't listen to the facts, they react to the way something makes them feel.
  • Silence is arrogance with the volume turned down. While it could be an unfavorable situation, it must be acknowledged for your audience so that they know you are addressing the problem and that you're working on fixing it as soon as possible.
To learn more follow @richardlevick or visit his website at

Monday, October 17, 2011

Netflix Revisited

When I first posted "Dear Netflix:" back in July, it was only the beginning of their branding and customer relations woes.

Last month, in an effort to make a clean break from their streaming service, Netflix announced that they were going to rebrand their DVD service into 'Qwikster'. Qwikster would work the same as Netflix, except with a separate bill, rating system, and movie selection. Wrong. Netflix users took to Twitter to voice their dismay:

Next time Netflix wants to make a rash, impulsive decision, maybe they should just buy a puppy or get a tattoo. #RIPQwikster

Dear Netflix, thanks for my very informing letter that I never saw coming. Qwikster a bad idea? And you're sorry!? Keep up the great work.

This is all stemming from Netflix's decision to separate their bundled DVD and streaming service in July, effectively causing a 60% price increase for customers who wanted both DVD and streaming features.

On October 11th, Netflix retracted their Qwikster plans, announcing on their blog that they would resume their DVD-by-mail service under the Netflix name. However, the damage was done, Netflix had made the mistake of overcomplicating what customer's have always loved the most with Netflix, their ease-of-use and simplicity.

Have you continued your service with Netflix? Why or why not? What do you think of the Qwikster retraction? Let us know!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How to Combat the Interview Question: What is your Greatest Weakness?

Landing the perfect dream job is a goal many have today. In order to achieve that career goal, there is one question that can make you stand out among your competitors or place you in the no pile. This question is, “What is your greatest weakness?” I’m sure everyone has faced this same question whether they were interviewing for a paying job or an internship. The sad part is that this question will never cease to exist in an interview. Your answer to this question helps reveal to the interviewer your key qualities such as managing shortcomings, mistakes, self-awareness, and humility. It gives you the opportunity to distinguish yourself from the group and show why you are the best person for the job.

In college, many students learn to answer interview questions the same way and in the same context. I hate to break it to you college students, but interviewers are tired of the same old answer “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m a workaholic.” We need to be more original and answer honestly because most likely the ten other applicants that came before you gave a similar response. Also, refrain from replying, “I don’t have any weaknesses” or “I don’t know what my weaknesses are.” This is definitely not going to land you that dream job position.

Everyone has weaknesses, and no one is perfect. What interviewers are interested in knowing is what steps you took or are taking to overcome those weaknesses. It shows that you’re aware of your flaws and are determined to fix them. You can conquer this question by packaging your strengths within weaknesses. For example, if your weakness is that you have a tendency to rush through projects and end up having mistakes, you can then follow up with, “This is why I always double check my work to make sure there aren’t any errors.” Make your weakness into a positive, and showcase how it made you into a better worker. This reveals that you took the initiative to fix the problem and that completing assignments accurately is important to you.

Have you ever been asked "what is your greatest weakness"? How did you answer? Let us know!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jessica Irizarry.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Effective Strategic Communication-The Basis of all Human Interaction

Being the rather indecisive person that I am, it came as no shock that I hadn’t the slightest idea of what I wanted to study coming into college. So naturally, I took the easy road, and like so many other freshman, enrolled myself as an undeclared. During my first year at Temple I took the typical GenEd classes, sprinkled in with some advertising and education classes, hoping that I would find my niche. Upon completing my freshman year, I thought I had a better understanding of what I wanted to do with my life; I had no idea.

After an untypical chain of events occurred over the next year, including transferring out of the university only to find myself re-enrolling at Temple the following year, I finally had some guidance in my life. This guidance came during Summer 2010, as I was perusing the Temple website looking for perspective majors. There are only so many of those personality strength tests you can take before you finally have to stop and ask yourself: What do I want to do? Surprisingly enough, once the communications light was shed on me, I was hooked. I wanted to study strategic communication. I knew that if done effectively, strategic communication is the basis of all human interaction.

Unlike other majors in the university, strategic communication teaches you how to express your needs and desires in a way that gets others to stop what they’re doing, and listen to what you’re saying. Oppositely, it promotes attentive listening so you can comprehend and understand exactly what messages are being relayed. Without effective two-way communication, nothing would ever get accomplished in the world. Strategic communication is ever-present in our daily routines, though we may not even realize it. It is what separates us from other species, what drives production; it is the basis of all human interaction.

Extraordinary communicators can change the world. If you can talk the talk, you better believe people will be on your side, listening to what you have to say. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Ronald Reagan; all phenomenal masters of communication who let their words and rhetoric bring about change. It is no secret as to why they had so many supporters. People believed in the messages they were delivering. Whether all of these messages were actually truthful and sincere is a whole different matter. The point is this: their words were empowering.

I could not be happier knowing that I will be graduating this spring with a degree in strategic communication. Learning how to become an effective communicator in this fast-pace world, where messages often get lost or convoluted, is a skill that is uncompromising to any other.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Steve Jacobs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Greetings from #PRSSANC in Orlando!

After traveling by plane, train and automobile, Doug, Emily and I arrived in Orlando, FL last night for PRSSA National Conference!

Today marks the first day of the conference and we have been busy attending Chapter Development Sessions learning invaluable information ranging from "Being the Best Chapter in the Sea" courtesy of University of Northern Iowa and "How Your Chapter Can Dominate National Competitions" from University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh.

The sessions have been very insightful providing advice on how to secure "starfish" speakers such as CEOs of national corporations, how to develop relationships with your local PRSA Chapter and how to prepare for national competitions such as Bateman and NODAC.

With one day of sessions almost over, we are all incredibly excited about what the rest of conference has in store for us!

Check back next week for updates on conference sessions and workshops!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Off to Florida for PRSSA National Conference!

My bags are packed, my plane tickets are in hand and the hotel is waiting. Today I head off to Florida for the Public Relations Student Society of America’s National Conference with PRowl Firm Director Niki Ianni and Assistant Firm Director Emily Ascani. We will be embarking in a four-day, jam packed weekend of learning, networking and development.

This year’s PRSSANC theme is “Perception is Reality: Inspiring Effective Communications.” The conference is being held in Orlando, Florida from October 14-18 and includes sessions on entertainment, non-profit, corporate, agency and government public relations, as well as seminars covering social media, media relations and chapter building.

This will be my first PRSSANC ever and I’m extremely excited to learn more about my field and network with students and professionals from around the world. I will be live tweeting all throughout conference, so be sure to follow me on Twitter. If you’ve ever read my blog posts before, you know I’m into government, politics and social media so you don’t want to miss my coverage of the “Government Relations/Public Affairs: An Era of Change” and “Social Media: Think Before You Tweet” on Saturday afternoon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gmail: Keeping You Sane Through Labels

Thanks to the power of the iPhone I have access to my email virtually 24 hours a day, but with my organizations, school and work, I have a messy inbox.

Gmail has a variety of ways to keep your inbox organized with labels. Labels allow you to color coat and categorize emails from different people or a set of group of people. So for example, I have a set color label for all of my staff members who work on one particular account. Gmail also allows you to create folders where you can save particular conversations. For instance I have a TO-DO folder where I filter all of my to-do emails.

To create a label:

1. Click the Labels drop-down menu; click the gear icon Mail settings and Labels.

2. Select Create new.

3. Type the name of your new label and click OK

To apply a label to a message, you can select the check box next to the message(s) in question, and then select the label name from the Labels drop-down menu. You can also drag a message to a label's name to move that message to a label.

Also, when you receive an email from a person who you would like to add to an existing label:

1. Click More
2. Select Filter messages like these
3. The From box should already have the individuals email address, from there you select Next Step.
4. Under Choose action select Apply the label and choose accordingly

For more tips follow Gmail on Twitter: @gmail.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Perfecting Professional Pages

As aspiring professionals, it is crucial to our potential careers to always keep our social media accounts clean in the event that a future employer would look for them. Because of their popularity, I have outlined some tips for Facebook and Twitter to keep in mind before you permanently put information associated with your name out there on the Internet forever.

  • If you wish to post things that are for your friends, consider making a personal account as well as a professional one. For your professional account, make it an easy name to remember such as your first and last name, or initials. A potential employer won't be interested in looking at posts from "Puppylover22", let alone hiring them.
  • While it is beneficial to follow people in your field, talk to them too! Relationships can be formed easily just from retweeting something they are promoting, or responding to one of their posts. Creating conversation on social media can give you a point of reference when contacting them in the future.
  • Watch who you are following and who your followers are. Don't follow anyone with posts that you wouldn't want to be associated with, or let your followers mention you in explicit posts.
  • Stay unbiased. It will turn professionals off to you if your profile is filled with your opinions about issues such as politics, business or other hot topics.
  • I'm going to be a broken record and emphasize the importance of monitoring your page's pictures. Family vacations, fine. The crazy party you went to last weekend, not fine. If you need to keep those pictures, untag and save to a flash drive. If you really want to make a professional impression for yourself, make your profile picture similar to a head shot instead of a cropped one, or one with friends where it is unclear whose profile it really is.
  • Be aware of your fan pages. Make sure that everything you "like" on Facebook is appropriate, and that they should refer to your interests and organizations you participate in.
  • Utilize privacy settings. Keep some of your personal information to the imagination. You don't need to put your cell phone number and address on your profile, as well as any details of your personal life.
  • Keep your statuses rated PG. Do not swear or bad mouth organizations or activities you are involved in. You want to create a positive brand for yourself and encourage productive interaction with your page.
How do you stay professional on your social media accounts?

Monday, October 10, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

On October 5th, 2011 Steve Jobs, CEO and founder of Apple, inc. passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Apple users worldwide left flowers and trinkets in front of their local Apple store, with personal notes on the effect he had on the technological world.

In the time that Steve Jobs was CEO for Apple, he dramatically revolutionized marketing in such a way that no one expected him to. By streamlining packaging, holding separate Apple events, and using commercials to connect with their audience, Steve Jobs made Apple less of a computer company and more of a life style.

Every unveiling event that Steve Jobs held was always met with anticipation. Bloggers, journalists, and colleagues flocked to each event, anxious to see what Jobs had in store. Jobs himself almost always led the events, where simplicity ruled. Instead of the usual tech talk, Jobs and his colleagues always presented new devices in lamest terms. Following these events, Apple's website was always updated with the newly revealed product; with brightly colored displays, clear specs, and videos showcasing new additions. E-mail blasts are sent across the web, encouraging Apple users to by the newest and greatest Apple product yet, without the usual overselling tone.

Even the packaging that every Apple product arrives in sets it apart from every other product in the market. No one ever mistakes an Apple product for anything else, no doubt Steve Jobs's intention from the start. Users everywhere film YouTube videos of their Apple product unboxing, a tradition to some. In fact, when I bought my iPad, the salesperson handed it to me in a way that can only be compared to as being handed the Holy Grail.

Every Apple commercial has the air of familiarity in it. They show everyday people using their products; taking pictures and videos of their children, calling grandparents, making plans with friends, it is impossible to call Apple products impractical.

Steve Jobs changed the way that consumers view their devices. Jobs always put practicality and functionality first and did it with style, creating a global force to be reckoned with?

How do you feel about Steve Jobs's passing? What do you feel was his biggest achievement as CEO of Apple, inc.? Let us know!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Diverse Definitions of Diversification

"Diversification remains one of the most fundamental investing principles, and it’s often one of the most misunderstood," says Carl Richards, a writer for The New York Times whose primary focus is the stock market. Investors typically view stocks as individual entities instead of groupings or as a collective whole. We often neglect how individual stocks work in correlation with one another for the benefit of the whole and instead focus on which individual stock potentially offers the greatest return in the shortest duration of time. This approach to investing is short-sighted. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is a considerable risk, but spreading around your money allows one to reduce certain risks that come with placing your money in the stock market.

A diverse portfolio is one that is spread out in a variety of markets and not concentrated on a particular company or industry. This makes it less likely that you will be fully impacted if an entire industry were to crash; just ask those who put all of their investments behind the dot-com explosion in 2001. The same is true with purchasing individual stocks. Yes, placing a large sum of your investments in an individual stock can lead to a large return, especially if you pick the next Apple or Microsoft. However, the odds are highly improbable and if the company collapses, so does your portfolio.

The volatility of the market over the past 10 years has led many to believe that diversification is irrelevant. The current standing of the global economy is less than stellar, meaning all stocks are subject to another recession. So yes, one can say that diversification is irrelevant if the entire market crashes. But rather than saying diversification is irrelevant, for those who would like to remain secure, maybe the definition of the term simply needs to be altered. Dividing your investments between stocks and bonds is a safe way to potentially acquire a return on your investment while reducing the level of risk. The New York Times examined two portfolios over the past 30 years. One solely invested in the S&P 500 (domestic stocks) and the other diversified with 60 percent invested in stocks and 40 percent in bonds. Although the non-diversified stock had a 1 percent higher return rate, it also experienced 7 more quarters of negative growth. So yes, with another recession potentially looming, the old definition of diversification may not save you from a precipitous crash, but spreading your wealth between risky stocks and safe bonds may save you some money as well as frustration.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Evan Galusha.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

30 Seconds or Less...

Just the thought of being interviewed can make some students’ skin crawl. But talking about yourself should be easy right? After all, no one knows all you have to offer a potential employer better than you. An interview or networking opportunity should be looked at as a privilege. It’s a chance to show yourself off and be confident you’re exactly what that employer is looking for. So you’re wondering how to do all that. You’ve got 30 seconds.

I was once told by a PR professional that 30 seconds can change everything. After all the introductions and questions, you have half a minute to say why you’re the best for the job. Sounds challenging right? It is. I tried this exercise and failed miserably. But after reading "Interview introductions: how to perfect your personal pitch", I had a much better understanding of what to include and what to leave out of my personal pitch.

Focus on:

Review. Go over what you think are the most stand-out things about yourself. Make a list of work and personal experiences that make you unique.

Make it beneficial. Research the organization you’re applying to and tailor your pitch to their needs. Keep in mind you’re there to help them.

Practice. Rehearse how you’re going to sum yourself up. Look in the mirror and say it out loud. It may seem silly at first but watching and hearing yourself will help you see whether or not you’re on the right track.

Keep it natural. The last thing you want to do is sound like you’re reading from a script you have engraved in your memory. Smile, be yourself, and most importantly believe in what you say.

Leave out:

Clichés. Avoid sounding fake by using general descriptions about yourself. Rather than saying, “I’m determined” tell the employer exactly what drives you and what you hope to accomplish for the organization.

Unrelated experience. Since your resume details all you’ve done take this time to tell the employer what experience relates to their company and how it will benefit them.

Phony promises. Chances are you won’t be able to just waltz into a company and solve all their problems. You don’t want to seem desperate and most employers will see through empty promises.

In such a competitive field, we are constantly selling ourselves. Now is the time to practice your personal pitch and focus on what makes you unique. It may make all the difference.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Tara Innamorato.