Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Blacklist of PR Phrases

Every public relations student knows mastering the art of writing press releases is crucial. From early on in our college careers, the rules of writing a press release are drilled into our heads. The piece should not be more than a page long. A quote should be given. A boilerplate should be attached. The ### symbol must be included to signify the end of the release. Breaking any of these rules may cause a journalist to do what a PR professional dreads: hit the delete button. Every PR class drills what to do when writing a press release, but what they do not teach you is what not to do. Here are a few phrases to never use when writing a press release:

 “Pleased/proud/thrilled to announce”- The journalist already knows you are pleased to announce your news, otherwise you would not be writing the press release! Do not try to over sell your news or sound overly enthusiastic. When you have limited space, do not waste it on this phrase. Instead, jump right into your content.

“Wealth of experience”- This phrase is overused when sharing news about a specific person. Sure, this person may have a lot of experience, but it doesn’t explain to the audience anything about that experience. Anyone can have a “wealth of experience.” My eight-year-old cousin has a “wealth of experience” in beating me at video games. It isn’t the experience that is important, but rather what that experience is exactly. Giving specifics builds the person’s credibility.

 “Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”- Okay, let’s be real. Is your event REALLY the only time somebody is going to be able to do this? Are you sending people to the moon? Do you have a genie granting wishes? This phrase is very overused. Unless you actually are doing these things, avoid using this cliché.

With so many style and grammatical rules, writing press releases can be intimidating. Remembering to avoid these phrases though will help making mastering the press release a little easier. For more phrases to avoid check out  

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Lauren Bentley.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

4 Ways To Stay PRoductive When School's Out

As the semester finally dwindles down and you find yourself not knowing what to do when there aren’t any assignments to turn in or classes and meetings to run to, you may sit back and ask yourself: “what’s next?
Sure, we all can stay in bed and sleep, stuff ourselves with junk food and binge watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix but shouldn’t we use the month that we have off to do something more productive? Yes, we should!
Here are some ideas to make the most of winter break and to be more productive:
Social Media Cleaning
Think of this as your major spring cleaning. During spring cleaning you get rid of all of the old, irrelevant and unwanted belongings that have accumulated over the year. The same goes for your social media. Since a new year is approaching, why not clean up who your following and connect with those whose content can be useful and inspiring to you.
Start a blog!
If you have a million ideas floating around in your head, can't keep track of the post-its that you’ve scribbled on or you’ve been meaning to launch (or relaunch) your blog but haven't had the time, now is the time!
There are many reasons why you should blog. By blogging, you enhance your writing and thinking, develop creative content and connect with others
Not only will having a blog benefit your personal development, but also your professional development. The content that you create, can be used to build your portfolio.
Apply for internships
If your friends have went through the entire internship application process and have secured an internship for the spring but you missed the memo, it’s not too late. Companies are still looking for positions to fill and one of them could be yours!
With that being said, gather up your writing samples, spruce up your cover letters, resume and social media platforms and apply for those internships.
If you want to give back and make a difference, then you should volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to get involved within a community and it helps promote personal and professional growth.
How are you planning to make the most of winter break? We'd love to hear from you! 
This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Jade Taylor.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Winter Break: No Time For A Break In PR

As finals are just around the corner and winter break is nearing, students find themselves rushing to finish the classes and head home for much needed relaxation. This includes every other type of student besides a Public Relations student. Trained to keep going and to take charge, PR students begin to make winter break plans that will help them get ahead in the upcoming semester and year.

Below are some of my plans for winter break that I believe would help my fellow PR students prepare for another hectic semester and continue to add to their resumes.

Blog: Think about creating your own blog or find outlets to contribute your own blogs to over break. With the extra free time you will have, it is a great time to unwind, distress and write. As PR majors, we are always writing but it is nice to be able to relax and focus all your thoughts in some new pieces. All of these can be added to a portfolio later on, too!

Networking: With all of your free time, it is a good time to reach out to your professional contacts and keep in touch. Also, this would be a great time to collect all the data from the business cards you’ve collected over the semester and put them in a neat and tidy Excel document. This way, you will have all the contact information of every person you’ve ever met in one convenient location! You never know when you will need to reach someone in your professional network and this ensures you will always have his/her contact information on hand.

Apply to Spring/Summer Internships: Towards the end of the semester, it gets hard to keep track of all the internship advertisements sent over listservs while juggling final projects and papers. Take this free time to carefully plan your next semester and summer. Reread all the emails you’ve received over the semester and begin your research. This break provides ample time to make strategic plans that ensure you are going after all the internships that interest you! This is also a great time to figure out firms and companies that offer summer internships and prepare your paperwork necessary to apply.

With these tips, you will feel prepared and ready to tackle the next semester easily with all necessary tools for success! 

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Rene Cosides.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Burnout Season

If you're anything like me, finals season can be quickly followed up by burnout season. After the end of a long and taxing semester it's easy to still feel wound up, stressed out, and overall exhausted. After all, if you're interning, freelancing, or on an executive board for an organization at your school you know those responsibilities don't take a break just because classes do. However, it is possible to get a little R&R while still getting your work done. Here are a few tips on how to truly make the most of your time off from school.

  • Have one email free day a week. I know some of you readers who are also in public relations probably just cringed, but one day of being logged out won't kill you. Email is probably one of the most anxiety-inducing tasks we have to face so stepping away from it one day out of the week could prove to be a huge stress reliever. If something comes up that requires your immediate attention, I'm sure there are alternative methods to get in contact with you.
  • Reward yourself. Just finish a huge project you've been putting off until winter break or had a super long day at work? Instead of running home to crash in your bed, take a moment to treat yourself to something you really enjoy. Whether that comes in the form of ice cream, going to the movies with friends, or people watching at a cafe, do something you love. After all, you just spent the past few hours on something you're not too fond of; it's only right that you balance it out. Your bed will still be around once you get home.  
  • Plan for the future. Okay, I understand this sounds like an odd tip compared to the first two, but if you love what you do this should be exciting for you. We've discussed on this blog before how important winter break can be in finding a job. Take the extra time you have to dig a little deeper and uncover what your dream job looks like. Just because you haven't seen it on a job posting doesn't mean it's not out there. Hone in on your passions, find out who doing something similar, and ask them how they got there. If you're in the right field, this shouldn't feel like work, rather a learning opportunity.
There are so many ways to balance responsibilities and relaxation; these are just a few. What things work for you? Share your own experiences in the comments below!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Follow Up with Busy People

We've all experienced the feeling of wanting to follow up with a professional, whether it is about that internship position you've been gunning for or to schedule an informational interview. We even experience it when working with the media, trying to contact a journalist regarding a pitch we emailed earlier that day. It can get disappointing when we don’t hear back from a contact, but don’t get discouraged too quickly! As we all know, PR pros are busy so here are a few easy ways to effectively follow up with people who have little time to spare:

  • Effective Subject Line. First things first, you need to gain their attention with a subject line that will stand out. They likely get tons of emails each day, so you don’t want yours to get lost in the crowd.
  • Introduce yourself. Be sure to give an introduction (or reintroduce yourself) so they know who their reading an email from. It’s also a great place to mention a mutual contact or referral.
  • Keep it Short. Industry professionals don’t have time to read a long and detailed email. Effectively getting your point across quickly with the least amount of work is essential. Cover your bases of why, what and why. 
  • Do Your Homework. Do a quick Google search before sending your email. Mentioning an award they received recently or a new client they landed shows that you put in the effort. Chances are they’ll be more likely to get back to you.  
  • Know Your Boundary. Of course it’s encouraged to send a follow up email when trying to contact a busy professional. But there comes a point when you need to realize that, unfortunately, they likely will not get back to you.

Lastly, if you plan in sending a follow up email, be sure to give them enough time respond. That being said, you also want to contact them again in a timely manner. Remember, don’t take it personally when your emails aren't immediately responded to, PR pros have a lot on their plate.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Finals, the New “F-Word”

As finals creep up on students, so does widespread panic and feelings of dread. However, in many cases, this panic doesn't need to exist at all.

As soon as students hear the word “final”, it’s as if they were just stepping foot into their class for the first time. However, most students have spent the entire semester carefully taking notes and learning the material covered by the professor.

But why does the new “f-word” put everyone into a frenzy?

Maybe it’s something about the cumulative nature of them, or perhaps the final percentage they hold towards a student’s final grade.

Regardless of why, it is important that students push past this fear and see finals for what they really are.

When first looking at a study guide or surveying the amount of notes that one has to review, it is common for an individual to feel overwhelmed.

However, it is important to remember that you have covered the material before throughout the semester, so you may just need to jog your memory on certain concepts or materials.

Perhaps going through the list of items covered on the test before jumping right in will help you remember some of the materials, which in turn, will make you feel more confident about your ability to ace the dreaded exam.

Also, students need to realize that they are prepared for the exam in the sense that they know their professor’s style of teaching and questions.

Going through a semester’s worth of classes, students get to know the layout and style of questions on their tests.

Although a final may be longer and cumulative, if a student has been paying attention throughout the semester, they can be put at ease by the fact that they will have an understanding of questions and the wording on the exam.

Going forward, remember that finals are not life or death. In most cases, students are more prepared for them than they think. In most cases, a student’s worst nemesis during finals is their own fears!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

5 Tips To Becoming A Successful Transfer Student

While almost half of Temple University’s student population is made up of transfer students, its pretty safe to say that many students have had their start at another institution. Whether you’re coming from another University or from your local Community College, transferring can be an overwhelming process. So what do you do when you feel like a little fish in a big pond? These few tips will help you maneuver your way through what many may consider the awkward transfer stage and become more comfortable adjusting to your new college home.

Attend Orientation: No matter what year you’re starting in, one of the biggest thank yous you can give to yourself is attending transfer orientation. There are so many things you’ll be able to learn and questions you’ll be able to have answered just from attending orientation and getting to know your new school. After the orientation is over, utilize all the resources Temple has to offer for the day. Take a tour of the school, visit the advising office, and talk to faculty members. Their faces will become very familiar after sometime.  At some point, I suggest you stick around and explore the campus by yourself to become more familiar with your new environment. Knowing the campus will make the first day of school a lot easier and assure you’ll get to class on time.

Get to Know Your Classmates:  Getting to know your classmates is one of the easiest ways to adjust as a transfer student. No one likes to go through anything alone, so make friends along the way. Meeting people who know their way around and can teach you a few things about your school is always a good idea. When I first got to Temple there were so many things I didn’t know, such as how to print documents, what “Blackboard” was, and how to connect to wifi.  Luckily my classmates helped me learn the school and eventually everything became second nature. Linking with classmates makes learning the simple things, that much easier.

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Involved: Get involved with organizations related to your major. When I first transferred to Temple I knew I wanted to meet people that were in my major so I went on “Temple Search” and typed in “Public Relations Organizations”. Listed were all the opportunities that were available, so I decided to email for further information. Since joining I’ve met more people, have had the chance to have amazing volunteer experience. Just remember you’re never “too new” to get involved.

Take Advantage of Guest Speakers: When your teacher tells you that you’ll be having a guest speaker for the next class don’t take it as an invitation for a day off. Go to class and listen to what they have to say.  Use these opportunities to build relationships and hear important insights. Professionals love to share their experiences especially with college students.

Keep a close relationship with your advisor: Because you’re a transfer student things can get a little tricky when its time to transfer over your credits. Make sure you keep a close relationship with your advisor to ensure you’re on the right track for graduating and taking the right classes. Read your syllabus closely and if you feel like you’ve already taken a class that has a close relation to any of your requirements see what you can do to receive credit for that class.

It’s inevitable that transferring may feel overwhelming and some days you may feel lost than others. But just remember that eventually it will get easier and you’ll feel right at home. Always know that there are people all around the University that have walked in your shoes and are there to help you. Good luck and have great semesters to come!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Tai Virgil.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Stepping Away From The Screen: The Importance Of Face-to-Face PR

Technology is changing how professionals in the public relations industry communicate. While email and social media make connecting with key stakeholders more accessible, many professionals form relationships with clients without ever speaking to them in person. The disadvantage of technology is that it allows for PR professionals to hide behind their screens.  However, the best communicators understand the value of face-to-face public relations.

Communicating beyond the screen is essential to creating stronger and more personable relations. In our current culture of technology, public relations professionals are more transparent than ever before. It is essential for PR professionals to engage in meaningful conversations with clients that go beyond an email correspondence or a weekly account memo because it creates trust and credibility. Meeting regularly with clients allows you to clearly meet each other's expectations, effectively reach decisions together and walk away with a sense of accomplishment.

Beyond transparency, making time to meet face to face with stakeholders shows that you care. It demonstrates that you are willing to walk away from the screen and take time out of your busy day to go above and beyond for your clients. Generally, there is a lot of miscommunication when professionals communicate strictly online. When you meet in person with a client, you can grasp how they feel based on their expressions and tone of voice which is primarily absent from online communication. Taking the time to discuss and plan with your client in person helps you better understand how to meet their needs.  

Moving away from the screen, and creating a friendly presence for your clients is well worth the effort. We depend too much on technology to communicate, and often forget how rewarding it is to communicate in person.

How has communicating face-to-face improved your PR practices? 

This guest blog was written by PRowl staff member Colleen Chase.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ed Trayes Photography Pop-Up Exhibition

The holiday season is no longer "quickly approaching," we're in the midst of it right now! People are bustling from shop to online shop looking for the perfect gifts for their friends and family. However, what about a gift that gives back? A Temple University School of Media and Communications (SMC) professor is way ahead of you! 

Ed Trayes, who has taught photojournalism here since 1967 and spent a lifetime taking iconic photos from around the world, has graciously donated his entire collection to SMC. Over 50,000 (and counting) breathtaking images are now available online for purchase and would easily make the perfect gift. What makes the collection even more special is that 100 percent of the proceeds go towards a scholarship fund for students at Temple. 

The Ed Trayes Photo Archives team will be hosting its first pop-up exhibit this coming Wednesday, December 10th in the lobby of the Liacouras Center before and during halftime of the Temple men's basketball game against Towson University. Be there at 8:00pm for treats, giveaways, and a chance to sample some of Trayes' recent work featuring the university and the scenic City of Brotherly Love. 

To purchase from the collection visit or for more information email and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @edtrayes. 

Hope to see you on Wednesday; I know I'll be there! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Star Wars: The Jedi Masters of Entertainment PR

Last week, Walt Disney Studios released the first teaser trailer for the much anticipated film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise.  As the fifth highest-grossing movie franchise in history, the series is synonymous with entertainment for decades. With these films, writer and director George Lucas, effectively changed the way the movie industry publicized films.

You can watch the teaser here.

Marvel may have blockbuster films and widespread products, but Star Wars did it first. Series like The Hunger Games may be hyping up a film a year in advance, but Star Wars beat them to it by about 40 years. The series made its silver screen debut in 1977 and has been dominating pop culture ever since. After its release, the films became cultural phenomenon spawning collectibles, video games and even pajamas. The franchise brought a whole new element to the film industry- merchandising on a massive scale.

Before its release, Lucas had the idea to begin building up anticipation for the film months in advance. That promotional tactic of using teaser trailers with long lead time seemed ridiculous at the time, but has now become the new model for publicizing films.

(source: Mashable)

Rumors of the latest Star Wars installation began back in 2013 when a photo of Lucas and Hollywood sci-fi director J.J. Abrams was “leaked” before the director announcement was made. Since then, the studio was silent, allowing the public to generate their own speculation. Like Lucas’ long-lead teaser trailer tactic, studio generated hype has been dominating in film publicity.

Lucas must have had the right idea. Since the teaser trailer was released last week, Star Wars has been a hot topic on social media, trending on Twitter for days. The film doesn't hit theaters until December 2015 but the trailer certainly leaves plenty for fans to discuss in the meantime, continuing to build hype. Hopefully, the film can deliver. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Happy Honda Days from Skeletor

Twitter was abuzz with laughs and speculations yesterday when Honda's official Twitter account was seemingly hacked by none other than the cartoon villain, Skeletor. After taking over the brand's account, Skeletor made a few changes, editing their bio to read: "It is I, Skeletor! Master of the Universe, Internet, and now Honda's Twitter Account! Prepare to experience my evil in 140 characters or less!! Muahaha!!!"

The takeover had all of the classic elements of a social network hacking, which has happened to many brands including Skype, Jeep and Burger King. However, this was no hacking matter. The takeover was a part of a new advertising campaign, promoting Honda's annual Honda Days sale. The takeover remained live on the brand's account for about 4 hours before they returned to business as usual, tweeting:
Unlike other brands who have staged account hackings, Honda's seems to have been very well received. Followers engaged with the tweets and many found it entertaining --though they didn't quite understand the thought behind it. Those who had seen this commercial released by Honda earlier in November better understood the Skeletor connection.

Now that Honda's Twitter account is back to normal, do you think the social media tactic will help their Honda Days sales? Will social media takeovers become more prominent moving forward? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ferguson Desperately Needs Some Good PR

I am sure that everyone reading this knows what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri; that a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown. I am also sure that everyone has their own opinions and views on this issue, and in this post I will endeavor to remain neutral regarding the larger issue at hand, and concentrate my focus on where public relations fits in. Ferguson is back in the national, and international, spotlight because last week, on Monday night, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that the police officer in question would not be indicted. Since that announcement, protests of all kinds have been taking place nationwide, from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles. Highways have been blocked, malls boycotted, and even a few players on the St. Louis Rams got involved. Some believe that some of this could have been avoided, or mitigated, if the announcement of the grand jury's decision had been handled better.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch
 The announcement was made just after 8:30 p.m. on Monday, November 24, and immediately sparked protests and riots all night long, leading to the destruction of multiple properties around Ferguson. During his announcement, St. Louis County Prosecutor McCulloch made some questionable comments, such as saying the jury 'gave up their lives' while making the decision, and blaming the 24-hours news cycle and media for much of the unrest. According to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, the decision on when to announce was McCulloch's alone. He should have consulted with somebody, anybody, preferably a PR professional. The timing allowed protesters ample time to set up and get in place, and it is much harder for the police to do their job at night versus during the day. He should have made the announcement early in the morning, ideally before most people are awake, thereby giving police a full day to control any riots. Plus, I think that people are less likely to loot and burn down buildings in broad daylight. Outside of Ferguson, major cities saw protests nationwide, here in Philadelphia protesters marched from City Hall up Broad Street to Temple University. Maybe if McCulloch had announced the decision in a more positive way, without blaming the media, there would have been less of a firestorm of riots and backlash.

Police line during Ferguson riots
From a public relations perspective, I would start by saying that Robert McCulloch is not the ideal spokesperson; he's white. Furthermore, it seems that no one was allowed or able to vet anything he said. Blaming the media and the news never ends well, but he did it anyway. Well-known and respected media figures, as well as social media users everywhere, immediately attacked the idea that media was responsible for Michael Brown's death. That comment likely turned people away from supporting the decision, only adding more fuel to the fire. The situation in Ferguson is so bad that even other countries are commenting on it, China and Russia frequently receive criticism and condemnation for human rights abuses from the U.S., now they are pointing to Ferguson as a testament to 'American hypocrisy.' Ferguson desperately needs some good PR.

This post was authored by Faiz Mandviwalla, a junior at Temple University and the Director of Finance for PRowl Public Relations. Follow Faiz on Twitter here, @faizmand

What do you think about the way Ferguson officials have handled the situation? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!