Lessons Learned

4 May

2013

In exactly one week I will be sitting through my very own graduation ceremony, about to walk the stage. This achievement feels like it’s been a long time coming, but in reality, I managed to make it through my undergraduate career in just four years.

 

I spent the first half of my education studying mass communication at a community college in San Antonio before transferring to the University of North Texas to complete my B.A. in journalism and public relations. They were two completely different experiences, but I learned so much throughout the last four years. I want to share some of the things I learned as my final blog post for Public Relations Communication (JOUR 4460).

 

  • Don’t be afraid to explore: I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life straight out of high school. I explored classes in different areas until I found my niche. I may have taken more classes than I needed, but I value the knowledge I gained from each of them. Note: exploring classes and majors is much more affordable at a community college, especially if you’re still living at home.
  • Aim for A’s: The quality of work I turned in was much better on the assignments I really wanted to make an A on. Aiming for a good grade increases motivation and can really make a difference in the work you produce.
  • Read your syllabi: Professors give these out for a reason, so read them. They really are useful in planning as you make your way through each semester. Due dates, points, number of assignments, class schedule etc. are all (usually) listed in the syllabus. Keeping up with these things are important so that you don’t miss anything significant.  
  • Constantly update your résumé and portfolio: Don’t wait until graduation to create a résumé and portfolio. Update your résumé each semester so that it’s up-to-date with your current skill set, job and GPA. Also, if you have a paper or project that you did particularly well on, put it in your portfolio. It’s never too early to begin building one.
  • Talk to your professors: It’s important to get to know each of your professors, especially if they are in your major field of study. These people are there to teach and want to see their students succeed. They can serve as mentors and give you valuable advice, even after you’ve completed their class. I keep in contact with several former professors and I think it’s important to know and continue learning from these knowledgeable people for many years to come.

 

Of course, the number of lessons I learned throughout the past four years are countless and couldn’t possibly be listed here. College has been an amazing experience and it’s a little bittersweet to be (almost) finished. I hope to never lose my passion for learning and will cherish every bit – good and bad – of my undergraduate career.

The End of an Internship

27 Apr

Today was my final day at a semester-long public relations internship. I interned at a small, PR agency in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It turned out to be nothing like I had anticipated, but it was a very insightful 14 weeks, and the experience I gained and connections I made are priceless.

 

With graduation nearing and the full-force of final projects and exams weighing on me, I knew it was time to start wrapping-up my internship. But I quickly realized that I had no idea how to go about leaving an internship. My university provided great resources to find an internship and guidelines once you’ve landed one, but no resources to help you end one.    

 

I began doing some research and found an article on PR Daily that gives advice on nine things to do at the end of an internship. The nine tips are:

 

  • Say thank you – Personally thank everyone you worked with at the internship. A sincere verbal thank you and a handwritten note or email will help keep the door opened for future contact.
  • Get connected – Keep your colleagues’ contact information and connect with them through social media. LinkedIn is the best place to connect, but Twitter and blogs are good too. The agency I interned with has a fondness for Instagram, so I follow each of them and they follow me back.
  • Get your samples – Keep electronic copies of the work you did throughout the internship. These are great pieces to add to your portfolio when interviewing for other jobs. 
  • Get coachedAsk your supervisors to give you an honest assessment of your performance throughout the internship. Have them tell you things you did particularly well, and things that need to be improved upon.
  • Keep workingIf your boss offers you an opportunity to continue working with the company, it’s probably a good idea to take it. You’re already familiar with the work of the company and going from an intern to a full-time employee would be a smooth transition.
  • Stay in touchKeep the lines of communication open. Find ways to continue networking and keep in contact with as many people you worked with as possible. Social media is a great way to stay in touch.
  • Say only good stuffIf you had a bad experience, try not to talk about it. Talk to mentors in confidence about any problems you had, but don’t publicly bash the company. It can, and most likely will, get back to them.
  • Don’t burn bridgesEven if you didn’t like working with someone, keep it to yourself. Keep things professional and leave on a good note with each person.
  • Share your experienceTalk about the things you learned with classmates, mentors and potential employers.

 

These are all helpful tips that everyone should consider when ending an internship. In addition to these nine, my personal tip is to get advice from your mentors. Guidance from professors, family members and other professionals is incredibly valuable. They can help you smoothly transition your way out of an internship.

Breaking News in an Instant

20 Apr
Image

Image via Yahoo! News

A horrible chain of events began unfolding late Thursday night in Cambridge, Mass. At around 10:30 p.m., shots were heard at the Massachusetts Institution of Technology. A young university police officer was found shot and he later died. The scene at MIT turned out to be the beginning of a massive manhunt throughout the Boston area.

 

Some of the terrifying events that took place during the early hours on Friday included a carjacking, a pursuit of the suspects that ended in gunfire and explosions, the death of a suspect, Watertown, Mass. residents warned to stay inside and the entire city of Boston being put on lockdown. The two men involved in the Friday events were identified as the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this week.

 

The press immediately swarmed the areas. Many cable news stations, such as CNN and Fox News, reported all through the night. However, the TV networks seemed to be lagging. They were reporting repetitive information and the “live” video was being played on a loop. Like many others, I was glued to the unfolding story all night, so I decided to turn to social media in attempt to get more up-to-date information.

 

My Twitter feed exploded with up-to-the-minute information about the story. Every major news outlet had reporters tweeting information as it was received. I noticed several people tweeting about someone who was posting on the popular website Reddit. This citizen was listening to police scanners and reporting information heard directly from law enforcement officers. I was amazed at how thorough and quick this person was. He was providing information that was several minutes ahead of Twitter and live television. I couldn’t help but refresh my browser every minute to read what was unfolding.

 

This citizen reporting took breaking news to a whole other level. There was suddenly no need for me to even have the TV on. Updates were streaming online in an instant.

 

Of course, getting information from websites like Reddit doesn’t come without problems. The website received heat for releasing the name and photos of a man who users believed to be one of the suspects. They were wrong. Another problem that arose during Friday morning’s manhunt was the wide distribution of law enforcement locations and their potential next moves. The release of this information could have tampered the investigation.    

 

While the Reddit feed was informative, I still believe the information provided by trained journalists has more validity.

 

The unfolding of the events and investigation in the Boston area makes it clear that people want to receive updates immediately. I saw tweets about the second suspect being taken into custody minutes before CNN reported it. It seems as though people may begin to skip cable news and turn to Twitter or other social media websites during similar situations.

Smooth Move, Kmart

13 Apr

Kmart’s newest commercial is quickly going viral on the Internet. The somewhat controversial ad was released on Wednesday and has already had more than half-a-million views on YouTube (around 400,000 of those views were just from today). The innuendo-filled commercial is geared to make you want to do one thing: ship your pants.

 

The opening line of the Kmart ad is a man saying, “Ship my pants? Right here?” This phrase may sound offensive at first listen, but it instantly makes you pay attention. That is one of the main purposes of an ad, right?  

 

But the real purpose of this ad is to inform shoppers that if they can’t find the item they are looking for in the store, they can go online and have it shipped for free from Kmart.com. If you need assistance, a sales associate can find the item for you and have it shipped to your house.

 

Throughout the commercial, the phrase, “ship my pants,” or a variation of it, is used 12 times. It’s a double innuendo that goes along with the shipping message while making the viewer laugh and say, “what!?” 

 

The concept is funny, but did Kmart take it too far? According to most sources: no. Adweek, Bloomberg TV, the Huffington Post and several local news outlets agree that the attention-grabbing ad is entertaining. However, it has only been released online. If and when it airs on television, there may be another set of viewpoints concerning the matter.

 

If you haven’t seen the commercial yet, it’s a must-watch for anyone with a juvenile sense of humor.

 

 

So what do you think: Funny or offensive? Does it really make you want to go to Kmart and ship your pants?

Graduation Preparation

6 Apr
Image via Forbes.com

Image via Forbes.com

My college career is finally coming to an end. After four long years, I will be graduating from the University of North Texas with a public relations degree in just 35 days.

 My first three-and-a-half years seemed like a lifetime, but my final semester has gone by in a flash. Reality is setting in and I’m starting to get nervous about what the future holds for me. For the first time in my life, I’m not ready to be done with school. But the fact of the matter is that I will be. And soon.

 

It seems as though everyone I know is starting to line-up full-time jobs after graduation and I have yet to begin even applying. So as I begin my full-fledged job search, I researched some tips that will come in handy as I move forward in my hunt.

 

  • Update your resume and portfolio: I have tweaked my resume and carefully proofread every piece in my portfolio. But that’s not enough. Give these materials to multiple people to proofread and ask for suggestions. Also, most universities, including UNT, have a Career Center that will help you perfect these materials. Your resume is what employers first see – so make sure it’s good.
  • Know where to look: There are generic job search websites like Monster and CareerBuilder that are a great place to begin. But it’s important to look for job search sites that are tailored to you. Look for websites that feature industry-specific jobs in your area, such as DFW Communicators.  Also, look at business journals in your city and look for the companies with good ratings, and then apply directly with the companies.
  • Do your research: Don’t just apply for a position, research it and customize a cover letter based on the job description. If you land an interview, knowing as much as possible about the company and the position will not only impress the employer, but also increase confidence going into the interview.

 

The job searching tips available are endless. But remember – it’s important to apply for jobs that seem interesting and know that it’s OK to turn down a job if it doesn’t feel right. Be persistent, showcase your skills and aim to make a lasting impression. I will be using these tips, as well as advice from friends, family and colleagues as I go forward with my job search and inch closer and closer to graduation each day.

The Timberlake Takeover

23 Mar
Image

Image via justintimberlake.com

Superstar Justin Timberlake just released his first album in nearly seven years. “The 20/20 Experience” was released on Tuesday and is expected to sell around 900,000 copies by the end of this week.  The album has been No. 1 on the iTunes charts since its release.

 

The hype prior to the release of Timberlake’s album is largely responsible for the massive sales. Timberlake, along with his management, public relations and marketing teams managed to create major buzz in a short amount of time. How did they do it? A carefully orchestrated, selective and highly secretive marketing plan.

 

It all started on Jan. 10, when Justin Timberlake announced his return to music in a YouTube video titled “I’m Ready.” The video had no mention of when he planned to release a new album=. Just three days later, Timberlake released his first single, “Suit & Tie” on the new MySpace and iTunes. The single made a record-setting debut, receiving the most first-week plays on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart.

 

The anticipation of the album was amplified at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 10. Timberlake made his comeback to music by performing at the award show. During the broadcast, a new 60-second Bud Light Platinum commercial aired, which featured Timberlake as the new face of the brand. And there’s more… Timberlake appeared in a Target commercial that announced his partnership with the store and his plans to release a deluxe edition exclusive to Target. Finally, immediately following the Grammy’s, Timberlake released a new single, “Mirrors,” on iTunes.

 

The week of the Grammy’s, Timberlake announced a stadium tour with Jay-Z and released the official music video for his song “Suit & Tie.”

 

Just when it seemed like the buzz was dying down, NBC announced that Timberlake would be hosting “Saturday Night Live” for the fifth time on March 9. The episode featured many Hollywood stars and was a huge success. It had the highest ratings of any “Saturday Night Live” episodes in more than a year. Also, it was NBC’s highest-rated show of 2013 (excluding sports and the Golden Globe Awards).

 

The week prior to the album’s release, it was available for streaming on iTunes. Timberlake also appeared for five consecutive nights on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” which was dubbed “Justin Timberweek.” Each night, Timberlake appeared in skits, interviews and performed a new song from the album.

 

Finally, “The 20/20 Experience” was released on March 19. The night of its release, Ryan Seacrest hosted “Target Presents the iHeartRadio Album Release Party with Justin Timberlake,” which streamed live online. The icing on the cake was when Timberlake confirmed that he will be releasing a sequel to the album.

 

This is only the beginning of Justin Timberlake’s musical comeback.

 

And from the huge number of album sales, it’s clear that Timberlake and his team successfully pulled-off “The 20/20 Experience” promotional campaign. He was all over the media and managed to create anticipation without being overbearing. But does the album live-up to the hype? That’s for you to decide.

A Facelift for Facebook

9 Mar
Image

Image via the San Francisco Chronicle

Facebook is finally getting a much-needed makeover. On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed a new user interface for the social networking website’s home page. The new design is meant to be more engaging and be “the best personalized newspaper in the world,” according to Zuckerberg.  All members should have the update within the next four weeks.

 

The redesign was meant to address one of the key challenges the social networking site is currently facing – how to keep users engaged and coming back, despite competing social networks.

 

What’s so special about the updated News Feed? InformationWeek says it’s brighter, less cluttered and more mobile-friendly. They are featuring the use of larger and sharper photos and video thumbnails. This is meant to make stories on your feed more appealing and interactive.

 

The News Feed also has a new feature that gives the user a choice of feeds. Some examples include, an “All Friends” feed, a “Music” feed, a “Photos” feed and a “Following” feed, among others. This will give users more control over what stories they see.

 

The redesign will also be just as visually appealing on mobile devices and tablets.

 

Like most people, I use Facebook on a daily basis. I like to see what my friends are up to, but get irritated sifting through information that I don’t want to see. But I’m interested in seeing for myself how the News Feed looks, so I have already added myself to the waitlist to get the new homepage.

 

Here’s hoping that the new News Feed will be successful and show us the stories we really want to see.