The University of Oklahoma's Public Relations Student Society of America chapter traveled to Chicago, Illinois from November 1 to November 5 to tour seven well-established public relations agencies.
After a long Wednesday full of traveling, we were all undoubtedly ready to explore Chicago and learn from professionals in the PR industry. On Thursday, November 2 the OU chapter of PRSSA woke up bright and early to tour four agencies: Propllr, Ketchum, Edelman and Allison PR. With coffee in hand and a short walk around the foreign city, we did not know what to expect.
Throughout our first day of site visits, we were shown nothing but enthusiasm. Various individuals from different companies used their experiences to provide advice to us on several subjects: what skills to practice pre-graduation, ways to grow our network, how to stand out among recruiters, etc. Among the very important information we learned, here are some major points that stood out:
At the end of a long day of visits, we ended our Thursday with an OU alumni dinner. The kind of support and advice that previous Sooners showed us was unexpected, and we left that Thursday wanting to add to the number of Sooner alumni in the Chicago area.
After a long night of sleep that led us to our second day of visits, we woke up to visit Motion PR, the Chicago Cubs Assistant Communication Director and Walker Sands. Very much like day one, these professionals poured advice into us and were eager to answer any questions thrown their way. From day two, here are some major points that I took to heart:
Exhausted, yet inspired, we left the site visits with valuable advice. It is comforting to know that current industry professionals are eager to help the next generation become successful. Public relations is all about building relationships, and the networking opportunity that was given to us throughout the Chicago trip left us with several new connections. I can’t thank the people from Propllr, Ketchum, Edelman, Allison+Partners, Motion PR, the Chicago Cubs and Walker Sands for genuinely pouring into us. We appreciate these visits more than we can put into words!
Work Hard, Play Hard
After learning from PR industry professionals, we got the chance to explore Chicago on Saturday and Sunday. Though it was cold and raining the whole weekend, we took advantage of the opportunity to be true tourists. From exploring Cloud Gate (the Bean), Sky Deck, Wrigleyville and the Signature Room to getting dessert at Magnolia Bakery and the Nutella store, our free days were spent making memories and exploring a beautiful city. Chicago’s small-city vibes and big city aesthetic attracted many of us as a dream location to work. The city exceeded our expectations… As you can tell in all of our pictures!
The OU PRSSA Chicago agency tour trip was both enjoyable and beneficial. The advice we were given and the memories we made will be remembered and passed on to the next generation of professionals. Thanks again, Chicago, for making us feel right at home. You may see some of us back in the near future!
PR Publications was a perfect mix of learning and creating. In the first couple of weeks, we took the time to evaluate designs and learn about the elements of design, which I think was so beneficial to do before creating anything for ourselves. After learning the basics, as frustrating as it was at the time, I can now say that there was no way better way to begin our first project than just going for it. This course not only taught creativity, but also trial-and-error.
Personally, I believe the amount of projects we had in this course was perfect. It allowed us to have ample time to create something awesome, but not enough time to be bored or become lazy. There was always improvements to be made, which made coming to class exciting. Lastly, the "complete or incomplete" grades in this course made me enjoy this class that much more. Instead of worrying about adhering to A-worthy designs, I got to focus on learning and creating. Not having to worry about my percentage throughout the course was refreshing, because it gave me the opportunity to focus on other things rather than making an A. This course's grading style was definitely unique and effective.
Blogging at the end of each week was interesting to look back on. Although a couple of times I questioned the motives behind blogging, I now realize that it was a timeline of our emotions throughout the course. Now that I'm pretty knowledgeable in using InDesign, it's hard to believe I ever didn't understand that the frame and the picture are not in the same box. However, according to my blog, there were so many little things I overcame throughout the semester. I think blogging is effective in this class, because it's a nice contrast from designing projects and it gives students the opportunity to reflect.
My Site's Future
As you can see, I already have a personal website started. I began this website [because it was a requirement] in Intro to PR, but I didn't originally have much to put on it. Now, in the process of learning Adobe Programs in this class and applying what I've learned through my internship, I have a good number of designs in my "Experience - Design" tab. This class opened the door for me to start designing through my internship and PR Pubs gave me the opportunity to begin a "Design" tab that I will continue to add to in the future.
Before this class, I didn't really see myself as a creative person. I have been told I am creative, but I have just always seen my ideas as being effective rather than creative. However, there was a turning point where I realized I have grown creatively. The day that each of us had to go around the room and talk with three different classmates about our business card designs opened my eyes. I got a few comments such as, "How did you think to do that?" that really motivated me to continue thinking outside of the box. The business card was just the first design of many to come, so I like to think that I've come far since then. Here are some examples of creativity I created and am proud of:
Thanks, Croom, for a great semester. PR Publications is a class I'll remember!
PR Publications began in January 2017, which marks the beginning of my learning.
This class has had a significant number of highs and lows. From being frustrated because I couldn't understand any Adobe Programs, to having awesome designs to put on my online portfolio, I can honestly say the work (and frustration) was worth it.
The early days of this class were filled with uncertainty. I had no idea what kind of programs, let alone projects, we would create through this course. I originally had zero experience with Adobe Programs, so I knew I was starting from square one. This made the early days intimidating and frustrating. However, between the business card and the letterhead projects, I felt like I turned a corner. In my PR internship, I told my boss I was practicing InDesign in this class and he gave me some advice and opportunities to practice it more while on the clock. This was awesome, because I started to design flyers and brochures through my internship using InDesign and I can now confidently say I understand it and am proud of things I have created with it. Here are some of the designs I've made at work:
I take a lot of pride in my direct mailer project (shown in the first picture above). After finally getting super confident in InDesign, I was somewhat bummed to move on to another program (Photoshop) and start the learning process all over again. But, after creating that project, I realized I'm capable of using different programs. I also was very proud of my Carnival Cruise Line business card, too, since it was the very first project we had and mine came out relatively well. My Intro to Advertising group even used the business card I designed in PR Pubs in our campaign book (because our client was Carnival), so it was a win-win! The only assignment I feel I could have done better on is the video project. Toward the end of it, I just felt kind of content with how it was and didn't look for many more ways to improve it. I felt like every time I touched Premiere Pro I ended up taking steps backward, and so I left it as is. It's definitely not terrible, but with more time and patience I think I could've made it better. Realizing this has made me want to try and make a video with Premiere Pro, just so I can master the challenge.
This class has been one of my favorite classes in college yet. The combination of the lack of stress due to "complete or incomplete" grades, learning programs I genuinely wanted to learn, having designs to put in my portfolio and Croom's teaching style, has made grown as a public relations practitioner. I am now able to think both more creatively, and more effectively. This class was one I looked forward to going to each and every day and I can't believe how quickly it's flown by. I'll definitely miss having PR Pubs in my schedule.
Croom, thanks for putting up with my confusing (and dumb) questions from start to finish, and for being such a cool and inspiring teacher. You rock and I hope to have you as a teacher again in the future! We'll miss you!!!
Wow, I can't believe it's already the end of the semester.
PR Writing was a class I looked forward to taking. I originally knew a little about press releases, some about fact sheets and had heard of a pitch, but this class gave me the opportunity to craft all of these, and more, from start to finish.
There are many things I can pick up on now that I couldn't before. First, the importance of the inverted pyramid. In all PR writing it's crucial to give newsworthy information quickly and concisely, which I got to practice on almost every assignment. In the first days of this course, I was a bit afraid of the assignments. I would look over the week's "introduction," and be afraid I couldn't adhere to every guideline asked of me. I got more familiar and comfortable with the process as the course went on, and I enjoyed the challenge of meeting all the requirements each week. I felt like I "turned the corner" after writing the news releases. This is because releases are very strategic and important in PR, and after making two releases that I was sincerely proud of, I knew I could do anything else the course handed me.
I take a lot of pride in the backgrounder and pitch assignments, for different reasons. The backgrounder is very out of my comfort zone because it is strictly fact-checked information that isn't necessarily as interesting to read as many other writing types. For the pitch, I had heard of pitches several times but never got to try to write one myself until this class. I asked my sister for example pitches she was written through her job, and it was really cool to know that the assignment we did for this class is very similar to what we will most likely be doing in the future.
Looking back, I probably could have written a better Op-Ed. I Googled ideas for topics for my op-ed and wrote about one I found ("Do you think Facebook is becoming a has-been?"). Although it was interesting and something I was able to write about, I think that if I would have picked something I enjoyed and was more passionate about I could have written a better article. I will say, however, I gave full effort on every assignment so that I could use them for my online portfolio experiences in the print writing section. Check it out on this website!
I grew a lot in PR writing. I now am familiar with several PR writing types and have experience writing in each of them. These assignments have given me a point of reference within my internship; if I'm ever asked to write one of the types of writings we have practiced, I look back at my previous assignments for examples. This class was very beneficial for me and I plan to keep my assignments saved to help me in the future!
On Tuesday, we got to hear from Kacie Kinney about what she has learned from her time in real estate.
There were many important things that Kacie said that were memorable.
In regards to our futures, Kacie told us to think of our job as nature vs. nurture. That being said, we should be doing things that are "nature" to us while working on things that are "nurture" to us. She told us that the nature part comes easy and is enjoyable, while the nurture is challenging and uncomfortable. I think this is an accurate presentation of having a career in life. If we don't love what we're doing and find it second-nature to us, then it will make us feel like we are living our lives in the nurture section, being uncomfortable and unhappy.
Another thing Kacie said that stuck with me is that we will know when we're not where we need to be when what we are doing feels like writing with the wrong hand. Hearing this helped me a lot, as I've been thinking about what sector of PR I want to pursue after college. Whether it's sports, travel, non-profit or the many other options, I have been afraid I will choose the wrong one. Kacie's advice helps comfort me into knowing I will know what's right for me as soon as I begin doing it. I originally questioned what real estate had to do with our PR Publications class, but after hearing her speak it made me more motivated to find a job I'm passionate about.
Over the weekend, I was able to finish my video project. Although it's not perfect, it's a lot better than I thought it would be. All I have to say is... Thank God for B-Roll!
This week, we had a slideshow and caption assignment.
This assignment asked us to take at least nine high quality photographs and compose a cut line for each of them. The challenge within this project was refraining from stating the obvious.
I can definitely say I can pick up on something now that I didn't before. When taking these pictures, I wasn't too aware of my surroundings. For example, the photo above was taken from the rooftop of Edelman in NYC. Though I know this, I don't know the name of the city it overlooks. Similar pictures have the same problem, which makes me want to pay attention to detail more now than I did before.
I'd love to know how to tie in more creativity to even the simplest of pictures. It's difficult to refrain from stating the obvious, but I know that PR professionals need to be able to step outside of the box when describing things like photos. I know that in many cases, PR professionals are in charge of making captions via social media for pictures. That being said, I'm glad I got to practice this with this assignment.
I'm also glad that I got the chance to show off my NYC pictures! :)
This week in PR Publications, we are getting down to business in producing our video project.
On Tuesday, we have begun editing our footage from our live interview. The goal in this process is to produce a two minute branded story: a story that exemplifies our classmate's life.
After watching Lynda tutorials, I was originally very afraid to begin editing my video. I was proud of the set-up Grace and I used for the interview, but I didn't want my editing to negatively effect my project. After beginning to edit, I can definitely say that I'm not a professional. However, knowing keyboard shortcuts makes the process much easier.
Although my video project won't necessarily be award-winning, I'm excited to see how it turns out. But first... That requires me remembering that audio and video are not connected.
I'm thankful that Croom alloted us extra time to finish this assignment, and I'm glad this assignment gives me a challenge and an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone!
This week, we are beginning to take steps toward our video project.
Using Adobe Premiere Pro, we are going to make a branded story about one of our classmates. This process requires learning about the Gaylord cameras, interviewing and editing our footage.
On Tuesday, we visited the Cage. The Cage in Gaylord holds a ton of equipment that students can rent out for short periods of time using their Sooner Card. I'm really glad we got to go see the cage, because I've always heard about it but never seen it. At the Cage, we learned how to use the Gaylord camera: a Nikon d1700. I'm excited to see what life looks like through the view of a lense.
I have a Canon camera, but I don't really know how to use all of its features. This learning experience was beneficial not only for this assignment, but also for my own personal use. I didn't know how many options there were to manually focus/take pictures myself, so I'm excited to try this out on my own time. But, back to class.
After checking out our cameras, we are ready to start interviewing in class Thursday. This requires us to be ready with questions for the interview. For this branded story, I have the following questions prepared (to be edited/added to):
I'm excited to get started with this new (and challenging) project.
What were you asked to do?
This week, we wrote a Public Service Announcement. We wrote as if we were the programming director for PRSSA, wanting students to attend a chapter inclusive panel.
What can you pick up on now that you couldn't before?
Before, I knew that PSA's were most commonly spoken. I did not, however, know that PSA's are in the two-column, SFX/Voice format. In writing for mass media, we practiced this format, but I hadn't had any experience with it until this assignment. I love the simplicity of the layout!
What else would you like to know about this skill set?
I would love to know how professionals are able to write PSA's with a lot of information, forced to stuff into a 30 or 60-second time. This assignment just explains how important it is to write concisely.
How does this particular skill set jive with your expectations of the responsibilities held by a public relations professional?
Like I said, writing concisely is important for PR professionals. Every word matters, and, in PSAs especially, every word could be payed for and should not be wasted. PR professionals must be talented in writing, but also in knowing what is important enough to be written.
How do you see this particular skill set helping you in your career?
Being able to know the format and rules for other types of media writing is going to help me in my career. I often see my creative media production friends working on two-column designed assignments, but this week I got to do one myself. Being adaptable with writing types is important, and I'm excited to learn about other writing types!
At first glance, I did not originally know what an "op-ed" was. Op-Ed often stands for opinion editorial. Like an op-ed that incorporates opinions, a letter to the editor does the same thing. These assignments gave me the opportunity to express my opinion carefully and respectfully. Most times in PR or journalistic writing, opinions are left out of the picture. However, this week was a good opportunity to practice stating my opinion strategically. PR professionals must be able to know their take on certain issues, but communicate them in a way that does not offend anyone and that is strategic. That's exactly what we had to do in these assignments, which jives with what I know PR professionals do in everyday life. I'd love to write more op-eds in the future, because I loved the freedom of getting to choose a subject that interests me and be able to explain my opinion on it. I know that careful and considerate writing is important, so I'm glad that we got to practice something this week that will help me in the future!