Five Things Friday

I’ve decided to start something new inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Cupcakes and Cashmere. “Five Things” is a post dedicated to 5 things that make you happy to end the week on a positive note. Each Friday, I hope to share five things from my week that brighten my mood whether it be something I did, something I found or something I learned. Enjoy!

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{Hanging out with Brian Taff on the set of 6abc Action News on the PRSSA-UD field trip yesterday}

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{Touring Vault Communications with PRSSA-UD. Sparked my interest in agency PR}

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{Christmas decorations in the apartment}

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{My journalism group project — a left-wing news organization we created}

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{Leading the last Social Media Ambassadors meeting with the other Social Media Leaders}

What things made you happy this week?

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Night With the Pros: Planning my first event

Each fall, the Public Relations Student Society of America at the University of Delaware (PRSSA-UD) hosts the Night With the Pros (NWTP) event. As this year’s program director for PRSSA-UD, it was my responsibility to plan Night With the Pros on Thursday, November 15, which includes a panel of professionals working in public relations with a question & answer session followed by a “networking cocktail hour.” I’ve assisted in the planning of events on campus in the past but the responsibility has never solely fallen on my lap. The entire experience from reserving a room to inviting professional to ordering catering and to the event itself was a valuable and educational one that I’m grateful for. Here are my five lessons learned from my first Night With the Pros.

Our wonderful speakers

1. There’s no business like show business

I’ve come to realize that event planning and public relations in general are a lot like a performance. In high school, I was involved in the musical theatre program. My feelings on Thursday leading up to the event at 7 p.m. closely resembled those that I felt on performance days. A lot of excitement with a hint of anxiety. Public relations involves carefully orchestrated plans carried out to communicate a message. Whether a thoroughly rehearsed musical or a strategically planned networking event, I live for the thrill of a performance.

2. Don’t be afraid of a little interpersonal communication

With technology today, I’m so used to being able to communicate online by submitting a form, sending an email or something of that nature. I hate to admit it, but I often dread picking up the phone and actually using my voice to communicate something. However, I learned that making a phone call often gets the job done a lot faster and, shocker, isn’t as awful as it seems! Making those phone calls to the catering company and University Printing really expedited my planning process.

3. Be curious

Guest speaker, Anna Cramer, social media specialist for Alex’s Lemonade Stand suggested to students that they “be curious.” Always seek out new opportunities, be willing to learn and be enthusiastic about what you’re doing.

4. Be passionate about what you do

Nancy Rawdin D’Argenio, public relations specialist for Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, said when she sees a child in the hospital, she realizes what she does and why she does it. As a PR person, you are a salesperson and must, therefore, believe in what you’re telling a story for and be passionate about what you do.

5. Be versatile and get your foot in the door

Our third guest speaker, Karen Galanaugh of Galanaugh & Company LLC, said to go with your passions and get your foot in the door. Karen told the story of how her ability to pitch a softball jump-started her career. She auditioned for the role of a softball player in a movie and from there, her career grew. She also emphasized the importance of rounding out experiences beyond communication courses to know a little bit about everything. Karen enjoyed riding horses which ultimately led to her representing Olympic athletes and horses.

A fun time at NWTP!

We were fortunate enough to have three wonderful speakers to make the event such a success. They had valuable advice and led great discussion that our members enjoyed. Planning the event wasn’t an easy task but it was certainly an exciting challenge. I realized that these types of things take dedication and time management skills. Next up: PRSSA-UD field trip!

Our fabulous executive board
Our fabulous executive board

Look who’s back

I’ve returned

After a long hiatus from the old blog, I’m ready to come back. With the stress of the semester, it gets so easy to just eliminate “write blog post” from the to-do list, however I really want to start to make blogging a priority. I’m also hoping to give the blog a bit of a face-lift so stay tuned!

So why don’t we start off where I left off back in August. Let me update you on my semester so far…

PRSSA

Since May 2012, I’ve been serving as the program director for the Public Relation Student Society of America at UD. Now that the semester is in full swing, I’ve gotten to work on some of responsibilities. First, I’ve been contacting local professionals working in public relations, communications and related fields to speak at our annual “Night With the Pros” event. A panel of professionals will discuss their experience in the field and pass along valuable knowledge to our members. If you or anyone you know would be interested in speaking at this event, please feel free to contact me. 

In addition, I’ve been planning our fall field trip. We will be taking a trip to Philadelphia to tour Vault Communications and 6abc Action News studios. Vault has a long list of incredible clients so I’m really looking forward to hearing about the daily activities there and getting a look at their “digs.” I’m also a huge fan of 6abc and a loyal viewer so I’m super excited to tour the studio where some of my favorite reporters work and we’ll even get to see a live taping of the 4 p.m. news!

Social Media/Marketing Leader

Back in August, I announced one of my most recent positions as a social media/marketing leader for the University of Delaware. At the time I was still uncertain of my responsibilities but it has proven to be an extremely valuable experience. First, they gave all of the social media leaders (SMLs) and social media ambassadors (SMAs) “Blue Hen” Twitter accounts to engage with the student body about on-campus activities, classes and simply about life as a college student. You can follow me @BlueHenJamie and learn more about the Blue Hen Twitter accounts in the article I wrote for UDaily.

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That’s another great thing about this position. I will be writing weekly articles to be published on UDaily, the University of Delaware’s on-line news service to promote the SMA program and the activities we do to enhance the university’s social media presence. I’m always grateful for any opportunity to practice my writing because as I’ve heard too many times to count, “writing is key,” “if you can write, you can do anything,” “if you want to work in PR, you better be able to write,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And lastly, I will eventually develop a comprehensive marketing plan for the SMA program to set goals and create strategies to accomplish those goals. This is something I’ve never done before so it will definitely be a great learning experience!

Classes

While most employers cite out-of-the-class experiences as the most valuable, my in-class experiences have certainly been enhancing my overall knowledge of communication and PR. In my PR writing class, we’ve learned about a variety of different writing practices used in PR including news releases, PSAs, newsletters, e-blasts and more (look out for those in my online portfolio soon!). Intro to Journalism has helped me to explore all the areas of journalism and our in-class speakers including TV journalists and politicians have passed along valuable advice. And lastly, in my Intro to Marketing course, we’ve looked at different businesses, their marketing plans and what works and what doesn’t in getting a message across to a target market

Overall, this semester is proving to be one full of incredible learning opportunities and I’m looking forward to growing as a young professional! 

And lastly, I must give a shout-out to my incredible sister over at JessicaLawlor.com. She never ceases to inspire and amaze me but with the makeover of her website and her plans to #GetGutsy, I found the motivation to get blogging again!

 

Stay tuned for more 🙂

So long sweet summer…

Tomorrow officially marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new and exciting semester. The summer was a great, relaxing break from reality spent working an easy job, hanging out with friends, and enjoying family time. But now it’s time to get back into the grind of the semester and it’s promising to be a crazy one. I’ve got a lot on my plate but I’m ready for the challenge and excited to further explore PR.

Fortunately, this semester will be one filled with lots of public relations. I’ll be taking a ‘Public Relations Writing’ course as well as other Communication classes like Intro to Marketing and Intro to Journalism that I feel will hone my skills and help me develop more of a PR mind.

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Fall 2012 Schedule

In addition, I will serve as the Program Director for the Public Relations Student Society of America here at the University of Delaware. As Program Director, it will be my responsibility to plan educational programs such as networking events and profession-oriented field trips. I’ll also work closely with the rest of the executive board to carry out ideas and plans to benefit our chapter and its members.

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PRSSA Exec. Board 2012-2013

And last but not least, I will be a Social Media Leader for the University of Delaware. As the Social Media Leader, I will serve specifically as the Marketing Leader and will assist with social media efforts via the @BlueHenSays twitter and Facebook accounts. This is the most recent responsibility I’ve taken on and my tasks are still undetermined but I’m thrilled about the experience I’ll have and the opportunity to learn more about social media.

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#UDel

 All in all, I think this semester should turn out to be an interesting one. I’m anticipating a busy schedule, lots of stress but lots of fun and excitement.  I’m ready to jump back into the swing of things and kick off my junior year!

My Morning as a Broadcaster

This morning I woke up before the sun. My alarm went off at the lovely hour of 4 a.m. and I must admit, I was not excited about it.  Not that I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to my plans for this morning, but let’s just say at 4 a.m., the only thing I want to be doing is sleeping.

So why did I wake up before the crack of dawn this morning? Today I had my first live broadcast on the University’s radio station. I’m currently enrolled in COMM329, Broadcast News Writing, as a requirement for my journalism minor. As part of my grade for the class, I have to go to WVUD, UD’s radio station, and do live newscasts on the air. I have to admit, I really wasn’t excited about this when I first found out. I thought we would learn how to write stories in broadcast style and maybe get up in front of the class and recite those to practice actually “broadcasting.” I was in no way prepared to go to a real radio station, where real people listen, and do real, live newscasts.

We had an orientation session at the station to learn how to use all the recording technology and the Associated Press newswire computer application. After the orientation, I can’t say that I felt totally comfortable with the assignment. Fortunately, our first newscast was done with a partner so I wasn’t alone in trying to navigate my way through broadcasting.

While I still don’t feel completely at ease with broadcast, today was really eye-opening in terms of how the radio works. I certainly learned a lot but I know that there’s so much more to learn in order to improve myself. However, I think I’ll certainly have time for improvement with 2 more solo newscasts throughout the semester. But here are a few lessons learned from day one:

  1. Not a lot is going on at 6 a.m. Maybe today was just a boring day in the world, but I was really struggling to find current news stories for my earlier newscasts at 6:30 and 7 a.m. Obviously at that time, there’s new things happening all around the world, but I found it difficult to report to a local audience when a vast majority of them are still sleeping or just waking up. There was a good variety of international news but with two and a half minute newscasts at 6:30 a.m., it’s most important to get the information locals really care about, rather than what’s happening across the world.
  2. Not all news is newsworthy. Just because a story may be interesting to you, it does not mean that the rest of the world cares. Especially when it comes to two and a half or five minute newscasts where it’s important to share the most imperative information. I found myself considering sharing the recent news of The Bachelor season finale (I’m a TV addict, sorry) but had to stop myself, realizing that most people won’t care about this when they’re just trying to find out the latest, most important news during their morning commute.
  3. Rewording isn’t as easy as I thought. Today, one of the big stories that I wrote was about the primaries in Mississippi and Alabama. I felt this was an important story to share during all of my newscasts seeing as many people want to be updated on politics (maybe I’m wrong about that; it was only my first day). However, it’s important to change up the stories a little bit so you’re not constantly repeating yourself but I found it difficult to update the story and change the wording to switch it up.
  4. Broadcast is conversational. Going into today, I felt like I was going to have to be super formal and perfectly recite my stories into the microphone. However, I was reminded when I heard the DJs this morning talking on the air that broadcast is just a conversation. I was just sharing the news with my audience. It’s not wrong to fumble on your words every once in a while and correct yourself and it’ll most likely even make your audience more comfortable.
  5. Just breathe. When you get stressed and you have 2 minutes before you go on the air and you still haven’t reworded your story, just take a deep breath and calm down. Sure, broadcast can be stressful but it’s important to stay calm. In addition to breathing to stay calm, it’s important to breathe while reading the news. Speak slowly and clearly and don’t forget to breathe!

These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned and I’m looking forward to getting some more experience at the station. Despite my hesitation, I’m really grateful that my school does have a radio station and that my class gives me the opportunity to actually get real experience as a broadcaster. Although broadcast may not be my ultimate goal at this point, I fully believe in a holistic approach to education and broadcast is just one of the many facets of communication.

#MakeKonyFamous

A few days ago, as I was walking back from classes, I went to open the door to my building when I noticed something. To get into the building, I have a little grey fob that I place against a big white square that senses my fob and unlocks the door. But on this day, the big white square didn’t just say, “Christiana East Tower.” It also had a little red sticker. I quickly scanned the sticker but didn’t pay much attention to it. It looked like some sort of presidential campaign sticker but I knew I didn’t recognize the name “Kony” so I idly passed it by. But last night when my twitter and facebook feed exploded with #kony2012 #makekonyfamous #stopkony, I knew it was time to further explore this topic.

I found the link to a certain video and began watching. I noticed it was 29 minutes long and was a little stunned and planned on watching the first few minutes to catch the idea and then getting back to my homework. However, as the video started, I was enthralled. If you haven’t yet seen the video, PLEASE watch it. I’ll make it easy for you by putting it right here:

The video is not only so touching and about such an important topic, but it’s also so brilliantly made. While they could have just stated the facts, told a story and said stop Kony, they turned it into a giant campaign; one that grasps the audience’s attention. A simple video telling the sad story of Jacob would’ve inspired viewers and earned some donations, but they took this to a new level.

When you think about fame you think about Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, and other stars of the like. Sure a few dictators and rulers have made the news, but not in the way that these celebrities have. The Kony 2012 campaign has the idea of not just capturing Kony, but making him famous. Spreading awareness of his existence because like me before yesterday, many have no idea of his role in the world. The video challenges people across the world to make Kony as famous as George Clooney, Justin Bieber and Snooki by “covering the night.” It tells people to make a donation and get the action kit to start spreading the word and advocating the fame of Kony. They’re also getting the help of celebrities and politicians to give Kony the fame that they enjoy on a daily basis. The campaign ends on December 31, 2012 in the hopes that by then, Kony will be captured. But the only way to do that is overwhelm the world with images of the campaign, posters everywhere, and make it everywhere you turn. It advocates the idea of social media as a tool to spread the word and it’s so amazing to think about how the internet has evolved to a means to persuade and stop a criminal. But the ultimate test is on April 20, 2012 when we will cover the night. When people wake up on the morning of April 20th, if they haven’t yet heard of Kony, they will now be aware.

I just thought the video was so inspiring and such a brilliant PR effort to spread the word. So often you hear of campaigns to raise awareness of heroes, great events, happy stories but it seems like a rare occurrence to hear of such a massive campaign to stop a murderer. My words can’t accurately describe the power of this video so I ask you to watch it. I hope this video inspires you as much as it did me and I’m looking forward to doing my part to #MakeKonyFamous.

Internship Lessons Learned

For any new readers who may not be aware, I was fortunate enough to land my first internship a few months back for the duration of my winter session. When the new year finally rolled around, I was eager to get started with the Friends of High School Park and now I’ve finally had the chance to recap my amazing experience as an intern.

My time with the Friends was beyond useful and I can’t even begin to explain the wealth of knowledge I gained while working there. I genuinely enjoyed going to the office and looked forward to whatever assignments came my way. The office was such a great environment and I loved getting to know Diana and Gina, the two staff members in the office (Hi Diana and Gina, if you’re reading!). Both were so welcoming and taught me so much and I can’t begin to thank them for the opportunity they gave me.

I could type out everything I did everyday at the office but I have a feeling that would get long and boring so I’ll just give you a quick recap of some of the major projects I worked on.

The first flyer I created for the Annual Meeting
Flyer made for the Maple Sugaring Event
Banner I created for the Winter Warm Up
Certificate for an auction item at the Winter Warm Up

So as you can probably tell, a lot of my projects were designing various flyers and items of that nature. I became very friendly with Microsoft Publisher which I’ve found to be very valuable knowledge. However, in addition to these graphic design projects, I wrote 2 press releases and sent them out to press; one about the Friends’ annual meeting (for which I made the above flyer) and their newly elected board members and the second to spread the word about their upcoming event for the Winter Warm Up silent auction & dance party (if anyone is from the Philadelphia/Cheltenham area and interested in attending/learning more about the event, please feel free to contact me!). I also did your basic secretarial/organizational work like putting together sponsor folders for their biggest event (Arts in the Park), updating some excel sheets, sending out some emails and stuffing envelopes. In addition, I assisted with some of their social media in updating some things on the Facebook page, creating a Facebook event and sharing their fan page with my friends to increase awareness.

The amount of information I learned while working at FHSP is endless but I tried to put together a list of some of the most valuable things I learned. So here goes:

1. I really love working in nonprofit. I know I haven’t yet worked in for-profit so I can’t really compare it but there was something so great about working for an NPO. Maybe it’s just because High School Park is such a gorgeous, special place in my hometown and FHSP does incredible work to maintain it, but I felt so good about what I was doing. It was as though I was doing a small part in giving back to the community. I would definitely love to try out another NPO to get that feeling again but also test out a for-profit to see what that’s like.

2. How to write a press release. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a lie. I didn’t technically learn that and for all I know, I did it completely wrong. I learned through trial and error which I’d say is a pretty good learning method! However, I did write two of them with the help of the internet and both were approved by my boss so I’d say I was pretty successful in teaching myself how to write a press release?

3. How to use Microsoft Publisher. This one I would say is definitely an achievement. When I started making my first flyer, I had no idea what I was doing but as I played around with it, I started getting the gist of this amazing tool (you can probably tell by the difference between my first and second flyers above). I think this will definitely be a handy resource in PR, especially if I decide to pursue the advertising minor and I’m glad to just have another useful skill under my belt.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, an internship is a learning experience and how will you ever learn if you don’t ask questions? At first I hesitated to ask questions when I was confused and would just try to figure things out alone which ended up taking more time than necessary. You don’t intern if you already know how to do everything so when you’re confused, ask your boss! It really helps to make the most of your opportunity.

5. How to use Excel. Excel is something I’ve truly always been scared of (is that crazy?). It just has so many gadgets and formulas and things I don’t understand. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m an Excel expert, but I definitely have a better understanding now. Gina is a whiz when it comes to Excel (and many other tools related to the computer) and she really guided me and helped me understand how to use the program which I know will be of great value in the future.

6. A bit about horticulture/meadows. Maybe this doesn’t relate to PR but I definitely think it’s a cool thing I learned! Diana is such an expert on the park and horticulture in general and it was so cool to overhear some of the meetings about various plant and animal species that thrive in the park.

7. How a small organization works. One of the coolest things was really just to observe how such a small organization gets stuff done. FHSP has only 2 staff members and besides that, survives with a board of directors, committees of volunteers and members who donate to support the organization. Throughout the day, Gina would make and receive various phone calls with the volunteers in order to keep things going and it was so amazing to see volunteers so passionate about FHSP.

That list doesn’t even begin to describe my incredible experience and I really can’t put into words all of the knowledge I gained from the organization, Gina and Diana, and all of the volunteers and board members I was fortunate enough to meet. High School Park and FHSP will forever hold a special place in my heart and I’m excited to announce that I will hopefully be helping them out again in the future! I’ve offered to do whatever I can from school and plan to help in last minute details for Arts in the Park.

Overall, I’m excited to have an internship in the book and moreover, one that I genuinely enjoyed, learned from and was able to actually get my hands dirty and do some real communications work!