Category Archives: Topics of the Week COMM 4333

My Top 10 Tips For New PR Students


As the semester comes to a close, I have been reflecting on all of the things I learned from my Public Relations classes, as well as all of the things I wish I had known coming into them. I literally jumped head first into PR without knowing anything about it other than what I heard about it being a great minor to pair with a Marketing Degree.

So, in the spirit of “Paying it Forward”, here are 10 tips for any new PR students out there that are about to dive “head first” into this subject knowing little about it too.

"Peekaboo" By Lili Vieira de Carvalho

1. Don’t be shy! Before taking PR classes, I had never blogged, never tweeted, nor I had ever wrote anything for internet journalism/ marketing/ public appeal other than some amateur newspaper articles in high school. I was so nervous to start writing because I though that I was going to be so bad at it and fail the class just because I had never written a blog before. If that’s you, I suggest to shrug off your fears and jump into it! If you’re stuck, brain storm ideas onto the page because it’s easier to work with something than nothing at all!

2. Ask Questions! If you don’t know or understand something, please do not hesitate to ask your professor or your peers. In my classes, there were a lot of “snooty” students who came off as really experienced PR people. That really intimidated me to ask questions in class because I didn’t want to seem dumb and make a bad impression. If that’s you, ask your professor through email or after class; never miss the opportunity to learn!

3. Get to know your peers! Networking is an important aspect to anyone’s career and establishing relationships with your fellow PR students is a great place to start (especially if you don’t know anyone).

"Sorry, you have to queue like everyone else" By linh.ngan

4. Get Involved! Professor Nixon always had assignments that encouraged us to either reach out and meet people or stay within our bubble and research to find answers online. Don’t be a lazy bum with all of similar assignments/ projects you get though! Use these challenges to meet people and find out, first hand, how things are done in the real world. Learn how to contact and communicate with people to get what you need!

5. Read, Read, Read! Learn from other PR students, other bloggers, and especially other Professional bloggers by reading their posts. See how they do things and try to mimic the aspects of their blogs posts that are done well.

6. Follow the right Format. It’s a shame that so many PR student bloggers neglect AP Style. If you’re serious about your writing, invest in a AP Stylebook and adhere to it! Memorize as many grammatical rules as you can and dog ear or mark the pages that have the rules that you use the most on a daily blogging basis so you can reference them quicker.

7. Be Genuine. Blog about topics that actually interest you or, if your assigned a boring topic, turn it into an interesting one. Otherwise the tone of your writing becomes robotic and stiff and no one wants to read a paraphrased textbook answer. Make your blogging assignments unique because anyone could be reading your posts, even future employers!

" Embraced By Words" By Robbert van der Steeg

8. Learn Your Blog’s Program. My professor made the class that she was going to use to discuss “how to use Word Press” optional to the students. In turn, there were maybe three of us who actually attended class that day. But, you know what? …Those three that attended that class were continually mentioned by her in person as three of the most well done blogs of the class. So, I advise to attend those classes and learn all you can about the website you are using to write your blogs on because it will enable you to make your blog more interesting, interactive, and you’ll feel more comfortable writing them.

9. Actually do the News University Courses! News University is such an amazing tool for journalists. If you fully complete the courses and engage in the lessons, you’re skills will benefit exponentially. My favorites were the ones that dealt with leads,  grammar, photography, copyright laws, and persuasion. But I advise you to complete all the ones you can. Learn while the learning’s good!

10. Embrace the Class. Before you know it, the class will be over. Embrace every assignment and learn as much as you can while you can. “Just getting by” and being lazy about your writings will teach you little and impress no one. Put your best foot forward in your work and you’ll reap the benefits before you know it.

Overall, my PR classes were probably two of my favorite classes I’ve taken so far while in college. They were so valuable to me in that they opened up my knowledge and skills which helped me coin 2 internships, in both of which I love what I do!

If you enjoy the class while you can and be thorough with your work, you’ll go far!


Twitter Chatting


This week I followed along with a Twitter Chat.

If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter Chats, they pretty much resemble an online chat room but instead are normally associated with one general topic. Anyone can participate in one because all one needs is the chat’s hashtag to post to their tweets so that the other chatters involved can see them.

So the Chat I followed is called Blog Chat (#Blogchat) and is held on Sunday nights. It was started in March 2009 and each week there’s usually a different blogging discussion topic such as about personal blogs, business blogging, optimizing your blog in search engines or how a company can pick a good blogging team.

"Two Bloggers, After Norman Rockwell" By Mike Licht,

This week was an “Open Mic night” where the chatters get to pick the topic and initiate in their own conversations and get the chance to get their questions answered.

I asked this, “Hey Blog Chatters! I have a question for you: What are some tricks I can do to maximize traffic to my client’s blog?”, and I had several replies that offered great advice. For example, Ashley Ashbee replied “@cynflynn91 Do you know anything about search engine optimization? Make client’s blog searchable using audience-based keywords. #blogchat” In other words, I can optimize my client’s blog so that it will come up near the top in search engines searches by following a few simple tricks on

I learned so much from asking just one question!

I recommend getting involved with blog chats because they are fun and a great tool for Public Relations Professionals. They provide easy access to a network of PR Pros and they are a quick way to discover and share new ideas. The only thing I would say to watch out for is how fast they happen. There are over 300 million impressions on any given night, according to Hashtracking, from September-December of 2011, which means there are about 2.4 million people every week!

Blog Chats containt a range of skill and knowledge amongst the people that participate, and because there are so many people, I admit it, I get intimidated to participate and prefer to just follow along so I don’t embarrass myself by tweeting something that’s common knowledge.

If this is you too though, I encourage you to keep trying to participate and get your ideas out there! After all, the more the merrier when it comes to learning and teaching!

To find out more about Blog Chat, check out its description and FAQs here; to follow along with other Twitter Chats, check out these top five twitter chats to get started.


Writing Your Own Introduction


Guest speakers often must provide their own introductions when they’re invited to speak somewhere. These introductions, however, must be written in a way that someone else can introduce the speaker to the audience.

Lisa B. Marshall

So the question today is, how does one write an engaging introduction? To start with, here are some tips from Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall:

1) Ask yourself what the purpose of the speech is and mention the main topic of it and three memorable subtopics.

2) Build rapport by analyzing your audience and finding common ground that can help you make a instant connection.

3) Be brief and conversational. Ask questions or make statements that allow the audience to interact with what you’re saying.

4) Use proper body language to communicate positives and a sense of openness.

I think, though, that the most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Let the audience know who you really are and allow them the chance to get to know you; this will give them more of a reason to listen and digest your message.

For more information, visit Marshall’s website, here, or visit the Quick and Dirty Tips website where Marshall discusses Introductions.

Podcasts Can Benefit PR Newbies Too!


Google defines a podcast as ” A multimedia digital file made available on the internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc.”

"Look at the Technology" by Simon Clayson

That’s a great definition, but I mostly assimilate them to a cross between the kind of information on the radio and the convenience of downloadable music files. The main difference about podcasts, though, is that everyone has the ease and freedom to create and upload their own.

Because of this freedom, anybody can benefit from downloading and listening to podcasts because of the vast amount of topics. For example, homemakers can download a cooking podcast if they’re  looking for new recipes and up and coming chefs can upload their own podcasts to help promote their recipes.

"Roscoe Considers Recording a Podcast" by zoomar

Who would have thought that podcasts can benefit public relations students and/or new PR practitioners, though? …I for one didn’t realize that PR and marketing skills/news existed on this kind of media (Thanks Prof. Nixon!).

As a marketing major and PR minor, Marketing Over Coffee was my favorite podcast website because it provides podcast topics involving marketing and PR.

In “Now More With Nelson“, John and Chris (the hosts) discussed the new iPad, Facebook’s Timeline becoming a requirement at the end of this month and other topics involving call-in voicemail questions as well as “the death of print” from a link to an article that gave statistics about sales of printed material vs. digital material.

I also listened to “Fly the Creepy Skies“. This podcast discussed Facebook Social Advertisements and how they’re supposedly “re-creating marketing” as well as Pinterest vs. copyrighted Flickr images and a topic about the simplicity of creating a Pinterest Resume and how it benefits PR professionals because all it puts all of one’s work on the internet and in one spot.

After listening to a couple of other podcasts, too, I realized that these downloads are great tools for PR newbies for so many reasons like keeping up with current PR news, discovering opinions and the teachings of PR professionals, and even learning new ways to utilize social media.

To listen to some for yourself, check out the link to Marketing Over Coffee above, or visit other sites such as For Immediate ReleaseInside PRThe Creative CareerComing Up PR, or Trafcom News.

Ever Heard of HARO?


According to Wikipedia, Help A Report Out (HARO) is a  is an online service for journalists. It helps them to quickly gather feedback from the public by enabling them to connect with people who have expertise or experience in certain issues. Using this service, journalists  can obtain valuable advice and quotes for articles they are writing instead of time consuming-ly sifting through databases of people to find good sources of information.

"Rolodex" by Myles!

HARO also offers a rating scale service that gives their users a chance to “be honest” with the people who supply sources. All one has to do is choose the rating at which they believe is the best constructive feedback choice on a scale that ranges from “thumbs up” to “try harder”.

From the perspective of a PR professional and their clients, HARO is definitely a  great media tool because it quickly connects reporters to important information for free and includes great features and services. Just think, the deadline is fast coming and there’s no time to sift through databases and Rolodexes to find sources for the information needed; and there’s no time to listen to all the unsolicited pitches from people “who don’t know how to pitch their ideas the right way” (scenario as stated by the HARO website). If you were in this position– you sure would be thankful for Peter Shankman and his creation of the 2008 Facebook group that eventually turned into the HARO online service that we know today.

Nearly 30,000 people are signed up for HARO and you can too… for free. All one needs is a name, their media outlet employer’s name, an email and a clever password.

To find out more, check out or sign up for HARO, go to!

Guest Blogger: Lauren Gray


This week, I am featuring a blog post from Lauren K.Gray’s blog, Social PR Lifestyle. I loved the advice she had to offer!

To check out more from her blog, click on the link above.

12 Pieces of Advice for PR students in 2012

As a PR student myself, I know it can be difficult to really get yourself out there and to really feel successful. Although I’m still a student too, here are my best pieces of advice for fellow PR students for this year:

1. Build up your presence online. I know this is pounded into us all the time, but it really is important. The more people you network with and connect with, the more chances and opportunities will come to you.

2. Build a blog/website. Blogging gets you noticed. There are tons of things to blog about in the news, in new technology, about case studies, about crises and about your own opinions. Start a blog and a website to showcase your materials and showcase yourself on the site.

3. With building your presence online comes watching yourself online. I know this is pounded into us constantly as well, but it really is so vital. No matter where you are or what you are doing, someone is watching what you are posting. It could be an employer, a student, a professor, etc., but someone is watching and it could affect an opportunity or an impression for the future.

4. Manage your social networks. Just because there are 32840932 social networks out there does not mean you necessarily have to have a presence on every single one of them. Should you be aware of the newest ones, especially the popular and successful ones? Yes, but you can know about them and not actually be on them. Join what you do and join the ones you actually like and intend to actually be on and stay on.

5. Gain experience! I think this is really the most important one. Apply for internships or some type of job experience. If you’re like me and there don’t seem to be a lot of jobs around you, look for virtual internships and jobs online. You can also create an opportunity for yourself by asking a local business if they would like to take you on as an intern too.

6. Go to networking events. Local PRSA Chapters and other associations have networking meetings, sometimes at least once a month. Put yourself out there and start networking at these events. You never know where one connection could take your or what friends you can make at these events.

7. Adopt a mentor. I have three mentors and they are absolutely invaluable to me. They are the most incredible and the most helpful people I know. They are there to guide me through the roughest situations and to correct me when I make errors. I fully suggest everyone adopt one and you can through networking with professionals!

8. Research companies. As we head into 2012, companies and organizations are changing. Research what types of companies and businesses you think you would like to work for and try to reach out to them to find out more information.

9. Do informational interviews. Great concept and very helpful. I think 99% of companies are willing to do them. In your research, call companies you think you might be interested in and ask if they do informational interviews or if you could do a tour of their business/agency.

10. When you’re doing informational interviews, they will probably ask what experience you have or what you’ve been involved in. This is where student organizations come in! JOIN PRSSA or another PR, marketing, journalism or communication related organization. PRSSA has been the most beneficial organization to me and I’ve grown tremendously because of it. Join the local Chapter at your university or you can become an affiliate member if you do not have a Chapter.

** Apply for scholarships and awards through companies and organizations too!

11. Stay close with your professors. I know some professors can seem like they are on your case all the time, but quite a few of them are just looking out for your best interests and can actually be very cool and very awesome! I don’t know what I would do without a few of mine, especially our PRSSA Adviser, and they have really helped me out a lot!

12. HAVE FUN!! Get creative and have fun with your college years!! Although it is important to get ahead in your career and to do all of the above, it’s also so important to have fun too. Do something you have always wanted to do, take time to make a craft, spend time with friends, take up a new hobby, etc. Just make sure you are enjoying what you’re doing :]

I really hope this posts helps you prepare for 2012! Always feel free to reach out if you have any questions about anything, especially anything PRSSA, at anytime!

Graphics Can Communicate Better Than Words


According to the online encyclopedia website, Information graphics (infographics) are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. Infographics can be used where a lot of complex information needs to be communicated quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. In newspapers, infographics are commonly used to show the weather, maps and site plans for newsworthy events and/or graphs for statistical data. Some books are almost entirely made up of information graphics, such as David Macaulay’s, The Way Things Work. Although they are used heavily in children’s books, they are also common in scientific literature, where they illustrate physical systems, especially ones that cannot be photographed (such as cutaway diagrams, astronomical diagrams, and images of microscopic or sub-microscopic systems).

When you were a kid, did you want to read the book with no pictures? No, of course not. Everyone appreciates a picture that compliments or helps communicate the story the words give.

Thus, infographics are important to Public Relations professionals because of this picture psychology. People tend to be more drawn to  pictures than words, and it is the job of the PR professional design, or work with a graphic designer, to create something that will draw a greater audience toward their client’s page. I’ve had a lot of experience with graphic design because it is one of my many passions and something I hope to get more professionally involved with in the future. Assembling infographics are an important concept for graphic designers to understand because they, if done well, can essentially communicate information more effectively and faster than words. Readers are far more likely to read a story with lots of visual stimuli than a page with none. Graphics also can entice a person to want to further investigate the information around the graphic; thus increasing the successfulness of the information that is being advertised.

Listed below are some examples of successfully or poorly designed infographics:

"Burj Dubai (Burj Khalifa)" By GDS Infographics

The Dubai Tower graphic displayed above is great because the viewer can instantly tell that this picture was designed to give facts about the Burj Dubai. The secondary information (the scale along with the stats and facts) doesn’t overcrowd the subject but successfully compliments the main idea so that the Burj Dubai remains the main focus.

"American Presidents:Length of Inaugural Addresses:Infographic" By sacks08

This graphic had an interesting and original concept, but it was poorly executed. At first glance, the microphone would seem to be the central theme because it is the biggest image in the visual. It takes a more in-depth look to see that the graphic is meant to display information about the length of all the past presidential speeches. Also, the large amount of information in this graphic is so crowded that the designer had to shrink the font so it could all fit in the picture– so a viewer has to either squint or enlarge the picture three times in order to read it. Lastly, the semi-circular shape of the graph makes it difficult to see the differences in scale between the smaller speeches.

"Infographias" by juanpablobravo!

This graphic has both good and bad aspects about it. Although it is in a different language, any viewer can tell right away that it is describing a space module and the aspects of its journey to another planet. It provides a visual representation of the shuttle’s transformation to a terrestrial ship as well as a scale the gives the onlookers perspective of its size in comparison to a human. Lastly, it uses bright colors and high contrast which is visually attractive. However, the bottom graph and its images are where this graphic becomes confusing. This section doesn’t visually establish what the main idea of the information is about; in other words, one would have to speak the language in order to determine what information is being communicated.

To learn more about assembling infographics, how they can be useful communication tools or beneficial to Public Relations professionals, check out Randy Krum’s blog about Cool Infographics.