Posts in category Zimmed U Blog

5 Things I Learned On-Site for a Client Event

By Vincent Frazzetto

As consumers, we see the end result of the news—the faces, the quotes, and the settings—with little thought into what’s happening behind the scenes. Heading into my first client-sponsored event, the Long Island Water Conference’s Drinking Water Symposium, I was heading in blind for the most part. We arrived very early, 6 A.M. to be exact, to set up the room and ready ourselves for the troves of officials from water districts and elected offices around Long Island to arrive for check-in. I took part in helping to organize crowd movement and offer officials for interview; it was a very lively, semi-crazy environment. In the down time, however, I was able to pick the brains of the reporters and gauge their own individual styles. I learned quite a few things, but none more important than these five:

1. Know Everybody in the Room
One of the things I underestimated in PR professionals was their innate ability to know every person in the room in some way, whether it was a long-standing professional relationship, a sponsor, or a client’s spokesperson for the event. When I would lean over to Christine, an account executive at Z/E, and gesture to an individual in the crowd, she would knew his or her name, affiliation, and role at the event—priceless information. Knowing everybody in the room is one of the most important skills of PR people.

2. Bridge the Gap
Being a PR person attending a client event is a lot like hosting a party. The press comes from one end, the client comes from the other, and the PR person is the bridge between the two. Our job is to introduce one to the other and appease both parties. The press wants their story and their shots in a timely manner so they can meet a deadline; the client wants to get its name out there and gain exposure for the event. It’s our job as the liaison between both parties to guide the interaction in a mutually-beneficial manner. I watched Christine introduce the reporters to our spokespeople and mediate the conversation between them, which was enlightening to see in action.

3. Behind-the-Scenes Interview Tips
Watching the on-camera interviews from the perspective of the PR person was interesting. I learned great tips regarding what we do during the process. One of the most simple, yet most effective, things I learned was where to stand during the interview: over the shoulder of the cameraperson, so we have an equal-plane view of the interviewee’s body language, responses and monitor.

4. Respect the Vision
Part of the mediating process is understanding the vision of both our clients and the press. No reporter wants to be told what to film/photograph just like the client doesn’t want to sacrifice his or her message for the sake of coverage. One of the cameramen told me, “There’s nothing worse than an overly controlling PR person.” It’s important to make your client’s desires known, but not at the risk of losing a valuable network connection by being overbearing.

5. Never Miss the Opportunity to Make a Connection
Public Relations is all about maintaining successful relationships. After all, if nobody likes your style of work, they will simply choose not to work with you. These relationships are paramount to being successful in getting your clients coverage and keeping your client satisfied. This is one of the most constant realities of a career in PR. During my time at the symposium, I tried to make members of the press, and our clients comfortable and happy with the overall experience. I enjoyed my first on-site venture, and while we can learn a lot about PR in a classroom, the field experience was very insightful.

#Zimmtern Insider: Planning the Greatest Debate Watch Party Ever

By Amanda Benizzi

“I want you to plan a debate party, for around 300 people, in under a week. Go.”

Wait. What?

On October 19, Robert Zimmerman hosted a debate party, co-hosted by the Hillary Clinton campaign with special guest Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, for the third and final presidential debate of the 2016 cycle at the Paramount in Huntington, NY. In under a week, he invited more than 300 Long Island community members and local elected officials to watch history in the making. I was fortunate enough to work on the debate party in multiple ways, from inviting guests to preparing the room, all the way through the entire event and debate.

Public Relations is a fast-paced, ever-moving industry; practitioners have to be skilled in creating events swiftly to keep up with our 24/7 news cycle and generally fast-paced world. As an intern, working on the debate party gave me a real-life look at what work goes into planning an event in a small amount of time with a large amount of pressure. It made me realize that even the smallest things—like creating the actual invite, to mailing each individual letter, to the arrangement of the decorations in the room—make such a difference and can change the success of an event.

I don’t think we could have had a better night, to be honest. We arrived at the venue just two hours before the debate was set to start and just one hour before the guests were set to arrive. We decked out the room with games, posters, buttons and stickers. We assembled more than 50 Clinton-Kaine lawn signs, which to my surprise turned out to be the takeaway that guests were most interested in—some people even took them home for their friends and family.

Watching a debate with friends is an event in itself, but watching a debate among passionate members of a community next to their own elected officials is an electric feeling, not to mention a great opportunity for networking. It gives you the chance to meet other members of your field—those who influence the public relations world—and to build relationships with your coworkers outside of the office.

As an intern, if you haven’t had the chance to work on an organization or client event, ASK! It’s a very rewarding feeling to see the results of your hard work, and it shows your employer that you are engaged in the events your firm is holding and you’re willing to work on things beyond what you are assigned to do.

Working this event definitely put the perfect ending to a crazy debate cycle, one that’s been completely different than anything we’ve experienced. I’m grateful that I was able to take the opportunity to learn about event planning and combine them with my interest in politics. It’s true that you get out of something what you put into it, and if you put your time and effort you will come out with amazing experiences that will last beyond your time as an intern.

Why Adaption Is Key to Being a Successful Public Relations Practitioner

By Ashley Zachariah

Sitting on the train, I anxiously listened for upcoming stop announcements. I turned to a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) employee and inquired about my transfer stop. As a newcomer to riding the LIRR, I didn’t realize a double transfer was necessary. Somehow I had managed to end up in Brooklyn, far from my desired destination. I scrambled to Penn Station, pushing past moody New Yorkers craving their coffee on their morning commute. Sprinting onto the Port Washington line, I arrived just in time for my summer internship interview at Zimmerman/Edelson.

My internship interview experience is more than just a comedic story to tell my grandchildren one day. It opened my eyes to the importance of adaptation on both a personal and professional level. Experiencing life outside of my suburban hometown in Connecticut and a quaint college town in upstate New York has been a constant adjustment.

After completing my undergraduate career at Binghamton University, I made the decision that I was ready to try the New York City lifestyle. After all, I went to school with so many Long Islanders and was always eager to see how different city life was. As I write this blog, I have been living on Long Island as a graduate student at Hofstra University for about a year.

Adjusting to the lifestyle has not been as glamorous as anticipated. I’ve had to figure out how to get myself from point A to point B smoothly, learning various train lines and the best travel apps to use. I’ve had to change to a much quicker pace: In the city, I can’t walk and observe the environment around me; on the contrary, I must move briskly, even at the risk of developing massive blisters from not wearing the right shoes. Lastly, I’ve had to adjust from commuting via Amtrak to the LIRR and the subway system. Unlike Amtrak, where I always had a seat, clean air and personal space, the LIRR and subways can be rather uncomfortable. I often lack the luxury of my own seat and am squished too close for comfort with another passenger.

In many ways, public relations practitioners must also be able to step out of their comfort zone and plant themselves in an unknown, constantly shifting environment.

No one would argue that the fundamentals of PR will ever change. The critical need to be an excellent writer and storyteller will remain the same in this industry. However, technology is undeniably changing how to effectively communicate.

For example, one of the newest social media trends is live streaming. As a #Zimmtern, I’ve learned that Facebook Live and Periscope are dominating the social media world. Just when PR professionals adjust to a new social media platform or various platform features, a new one emerges. As the digital world expands, so too must our PR knowledge toolbox.

Change is never easy. However, I believe it is essential for anyone considering working in this industry.

A Proud Moment for #ZimmCasters and the Girl Scouts of Nassau County

By Marisa Drago and Marissa Kelly

This year was the 100th Gold Award Ceremony for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, and we were lucky enough to cover the event in our new role as #ZimmCasters! When we were presented the opportunity to attend, we weren’t sure what to expect. We were Girl Scouts when we were younger, so we knew a bit about the organization, but never made it far enough to earn the prestigious Gold Award. We were excited to attend the ceremony and learn what the award was all about.

The two of us are currently interning at Zimmerman/Edelson Inc (Z/E), a public relations firm that has the Girl Scouts of Nassau County as a client. This summer, as part of our season-long intern project, we were tasked with becoming “ZimmCasters.” This means we must challenge ourselves by becoming reporters and social media handlers for Z/E and several of its clients. As #ZimmCasters, we wanted to experiment with live steaming videos at different events. When we found out about the 100th Gold Award Ceremony, we recognized that it had great potential to be shown live on social media.

Before arriving at the ceremony, we came up with interview questions to ask some of the Girl Scouts, emcees, and the executive director of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, Donna Ceravolo. We compiled possible tweets to send out, ideas for footage and interviews, and taught ourselves how to use the live-stream app, Periscope. When we reached the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, where the ceremony was held, we were fully prepared and extremely excited to cover the event.

First, the two of us took a tour of the facilities at the Marine Academy that were being used for the event. Throughout the night, we would be traveling back and forth between two buildings: Wiley Hall and the auditorium. Wiley Hall is where this year’s Gold Award projects were on display for families and friends to observe. We held several interviews in this building, some of which were with Girl Scouts Bianca, Maribel, and Chloe, all of whom were receiving their Gold Awards. The ceremony took place in the auditorium, where we caught footage of the 101 Girl Scouts receiving their Gold Awards, the Girl Scouts of Nassau County’s Chorus performing, and several speakers proudly talking onstage.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Donna Ceravolo and ask her some questions. She opened our eyes to what an accomplishment the Gold Award truly is, and she beamed with pride speaking about the girls earning their Gold Award this year. Her evident passion and excitement for the event and for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County showed us how remarkable the girls who complete their Gold Awards projects truly are. “This project is a symbol of the tangible steps that girls have taken to make the world a better place,” said Ms. Ceravolo.

This ceremony was nothing like we have ever experienced before. Both of us were blown away by the extensive and thoughtful projects put together by the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. Each Gold Award Project, along with the girl who created it, was more amazing than the last. As we sat in the auditorium and watched every girl cross the stage we recognized their true leadership qualities, and every single one of the girls should be incredibly proud of their accomplishments. The Girl Scouts of Nassau County gave us an opportunity to learn, not only about their incredible organization, but about what it’s like to be behind the scenes of such a meaningful event like this one.

We extend our true congratulations to all of the girls that earned their Gold Award this year and would like to thank the Girl Scouts of Nassau County for letting us be a part of this wonderful event!

5 Reasons Why #ZimmEdU is the Ideal Place to Intern

By Jillian Baker

1. The People. In any job, it is essential to surround yourself with good people in the workplace. You want your fellow colleagues to be amiable, intelligent and approachable. At #ZimmEdU, everyone fits these criteria and offers much more! Each team member wants to get to know the interns on a personal level to help him or her feel comfortable. Interns never feel worried or nervous about asking a question or two, because the team members are extremely friendly and approachable. One of the many goals of the Zimmerman/Edelson team is to see their interns succeed and take the most from their opportunities. Essentially, the firm wants each intern to leave this program with great experiences and new insights in public relations, social media, advertising, and marketing. Everyone is excited to teach and help!

2. The Work: Too many students land an internship and find themselves bogged down with “intern work,” work like filing or making spreadsheets. However, at #ZimmEdU every intern is provided with real work with a variety of clients and graduates from the program with a significant understanding of public relations and the work involved. Additionally, the work provided covers every aspect of communications—interns get a well-rounded education! They gain experience in marketing, advertising, social media, and public relations and, from there, can decide which subject they enjoy best. The team is happy to provide interns with specific responsibilities and jobs that fit their preferences, so they can truly enjoy the work they are doing each day. Overall, from one session, interns learn a great amount in all areas of the public relations field.

3. The Culture: Zimmerman/Edelson has many unique aspects that establish the company culture that makes this firm successful. The environment is extremely welcoming, the relationships are close, and the work ethic is efficient. Everyone has an open desk, which epitomizes how approachable each person is. Furthermore, the traditions play a germane role in company culture. For birthdays and other milestones, everyone gets together to enjoy the celebration. This portrays the relationships that exist within the company, which I instantly felt my first day. Everyone was so engaging and friendly that I felt comfortable discussing almost anything. I was immediately embraced with open arms and accepted as a member of the Zimmerman/Edelson team. Lastly, it is quite clear that the people here are diligent and efficient. Everyone gets their work done in a timely manner and is open about the projects they are doing. During the weekly Monday meetings, each member explains their plans for the next several days. People ask for help and offer assistance depending on their schedules in order to provide the best services for their clients. Overall, the company culture is derived from unity and efficiency- the perfect fit for an intern.

4. The Zimmtern Program: The #ZimmEdU intern program is unique in that it encourages the interns to form relationships, work outside of their comfort zone, and choose their tasks. It provides the perfect load of dependency and reliability and pushes interns to think and try new things. At the end of the session, interns give a presentation to the firm regarding what they have learned and done during their time with #ZimmEdU. It gives them the freedom to create one unique project, which can involve live streaming, blogging, and more. In addition, they are invited to go to events for the clients that the company is responsible for in order to get the full experience. Zimmerman/Edelson does a phenomenal job of recruiting students who fit the company culture, which is why I have become friends with the other interns. For instance, we get lunch, talk about work, discuss our social lives, and go to events, which creates the relationships needed to feel fully comfortable in the workplace! Overall, the #ZimmEdU program has made this experience very enjoyable and educational.

5. The Result: From writing press releases and photo captions to giving live interviews, I learned so much about the field of public relations. By my third week here, I had learned how to write on social media platforms for clients, how to write a variety of public relations documents, and the best strategies and tactics to advertise events. I’m not even halfway through the program, and I’m learning such a significant amount at the perfect pace. I am constantly being taught something compelling and new while improving my writing every day. Coming to Zimmerman/Edelson was definitely the right decision because I know how prepared I am going to be for the future and how much I enjoyed learning about the various elements in this field. Especially as a rising sophomore, I now have the experience that many students don’t receive until much later in their academic careers, and I know that I have the capability to succeed when I am truly dedicated and driven.

My First Week With #ZimmEdU

By Haylee Pollack

Starting a new job or internship can be stressful. You don’t know what to expect, and you don’t know if it will be worth your time and effort. But after finishing my first week at the firm, I have already taken away so much from this position. Here are five things I learned in my first week as a #Zimmtern in the ZimmEdU program:

1) Writing a press release

Sure, we’ve written a press release or two in my PR classes, but never to this extent. During my first few days as a #Zimmtern, I wrote four press releases for real clients. I learned how to format it correctly for the company and what needed to be included in every release (never forget a quote and the boilerplate). I already see a difference in my writing style, and I can thank this internship for giving me the opportunity to write a real press release and receive immediate feedback to help me grow.

2) Answering the phone and calling the media

Not going to lie: Talking on the phone stresses me out. As a millennial, I prefer texting and emailing. However, in public relations, communication over the phone is essential. During my first week as a #Zimmtern, I learned how to answer phones, what to say, what information I needed to get from the caller, and how to then transfer the call to the correct Zimmerman/Edelson Inc. employee. I learned how to communicate with the media and how to best represent our clients. I have to admit, I still need to work on this skill, but it’s only the first week, and I am confident that the rest of the summer will give me the time and experience to do so.

3) Writing photo captions

In just the past three days I have written countless photo captions. I did this in school a little bit, but not for real clients—or even with real pictures. As a #Zimmtern, I have an opportunity to write photo captions with real people and actual information, which is an experience I wouldn’t have gotten if I did not take on this internship. Z/E employees taught me the correct way to format a photo caption, including how to write the headline and subhead and how to attribute photos.

4) The Zimmerman/Edelson Inc. clipping process

On my second day as a #Zimmtern, I was taught all about the clipping process at the firm. This included how to work the scanner, cut out articles from newspapers and file clips. My favorite part about this lesson was the woman who taught it, Lynn. She really gave us insight into how much this internship can help us in the future, and she even told us more about herself. This definitely took made me feel more at ease on my second day. Thank you Lynn for giving us this lesson.

5) Communication with others

On my first day as a #Zimmtern, I wasn’t sure how to approach other employees to ask if they needed help with anything—I didn’t know if I should email, message, etc. I found that any method is fine, since everyone in the office is so nice, friendly and willing to help you grow. I started off by helping Jill, but by day three I had helped almost everyone on the first floor with a photo caption, press release, phone call or other task. The main thing I learned from this was that I shouldn’t be shy, and that having more work to do makes the day go by faster and makes the experience much more enjoyable. Always ask people if they need help. And if nobody does… read Newsday.

If you are debating whether to pursue an internship in PR—such as one with the ZimmEd U program—I recommend you do. It will be worth your time and will only be beneficial to you in the future.

5 Tips on Making Media Calls

By Marykate Guilfoyle

Media calls are a necessary part of any PR job; PR Professionals need to make sure the media outlets receive their press releases and advisories. Making your first calls to pitch a story can be nerve-racking but with the right guidance you will be a pro in no time. If you follow these five tips you will be well on your way to a successful media call:

1. Know What You Are Talking About.
This is the most important thing. If you are trying to pitch an event to the media, you must know all the details so you’re ready for whatever questions they may have. You should have the information in front of you, that way you are prepared for whatever questions someone may throw at you.

2. Be Confident.
It’s important to assert yourself as an expert on what you are talking about. Be clear and be confident when speaking and you will be received better. If there is ever a question you do not have the answer to, let the person know that you will point them in the right direction.

3. Be Respectful Of Time.
Reporters are busy people. Try asking if it’s a good time to talk or if they have a second to speak to you before you begin your pitch. This shows respectful, and it helps to know how quick you have to pitch your story. If they say no, ask them when would be a good time to reach them.

4. Be Concise
Give a brief but interesting overview of the event you are pitching. If the media seems to be interested they can ask more questions on specifics. Always make sure you get the time, place and what the event is answered in the pitch.

5. Practice Your Pitch
Know what you are going to say before you get on the phone. You don’t need a script, you want to sound natural, but it is important to have an idea of what you are going to say. You don’t want to stumble on the phone.

The Hofstra PRSSA 2016 Regional Conference

By Jessica Avenia

Check out Jessica’s previous post about networking at the Hofstra PRSSA ‘Welcome to NY’ Mixer

We are constantly reminded about the importance of interning while at school and I agree; students should always look for opportunities to grow and better themselves professionally. I also believe students should be encouraged to join professional organizations just as much as they are encouraged to look for internships. Recently, I attended the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Regional Conference at Hofstra University, and I hope my experience will inspire students to find additional ways to be involved outside of the classroom, aside from getting an internship.

The PRSSA 2016 Regional Conference was an all-day event with the first workshop starting at 9:00 a.m. and the conference wrapping up around 5:00 p.m. To kick-off the weekend, the Welcome to New York Networking Mixer was well-attended the night prior. Several workshops were held throughout the day featuring panelists from various industries, including fashion, technology, entertainment, travel and tourism, international, nonprofit and more. There was definitely something there for everyone!

I chose to attend Live from NY! Entertainment PR in the City; Eat, Sleep and Travel: PR in the Food and Travel Industry; and Como se Dice PR? workshops. I was most excited about the travel PR workshop because I plan to work in the travel and tourism industry. I did, however, discover a new interest by attending the Como se Dice PR workshop. Despite being fluent in Spanish, it had never occurred to me to pursue a career in this fast-growing market, which shows how joining a professional organization and attending events like this one can help you define your interests and guide you towards the right career path.

All the panelists offered great insight on their industry, their own perspective on how to break in and many helpful PR tips. In addition to all the amazing panelists, the luncheon was accompanied by an encouraging keynote speech delivered by Edelman Vice President Ashley Chauvin. Mrs. Chauvin addressed the changing landscape of the PR industry, and stressed the idea that to be a great PR practitioner we must learn to be great storytellers—we must be aware of our surroundings and capture the moments that make a story connect with our audience.

Overall, my experience at the Hofstra PRSSA Regional Conference inspired me to work harder by meeting successful individuals who did more than just go to class when they were in my position. I’ve learned that it is important to stay connected and join professional groups that will support your career goals.

Tips from a Journalist on How to Pitch the Media

By: Dan Schaefer

One of the most difficult tasks for a public relations intern or young professional just starting out is getting in contact with a major publication for the first time. However, there are ways to ensure that developing a connection and building a relationship with a media outlet goes as smoothly as possible.

John Jeansonne retired from New York’s Newsday in 2014 after an illustrious 44-year career as a sports writer, and he is now an adjunct professor at Hofstra University’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. He says the first step is to keep in mind that “any good reporter should always be keeping their eyes and ears and mind open to possible stories.” This is key to building the confidence needed to start typing that e-mail or picking up a phone. Reporters, no matter how busy they may seem, are always looking for story ideas.

Keeping that in mind, the next step is research. The PR practitioner must make sure he or she knows the story being pitched inside and out. Be prepared to answer any and all questions about the story.

“I have had publicists call me to pitch a story and found that I knew more about the story than the publicist did. On occasion, the publicist would have facts wrong or would demonstrate a general lack of knowledge. So, the first thing for the publicist to do is know his or her stuff before contacting a reporter,” said Jeansonne.

In addition, the practitioner needs to study the outlet that he or she is pitching. The story has to be relevant to the outlet’s audience for it even to be considered. Next, the correct reporter must be targeted.

“The reporter might steer the publicist to another reporter, another department at his paper or magazine or radio station,” Jeansonne said, in the event that the practitioner has contacted the wrong reporter. But this is not a given, especially if the reporter is on deadline or busy. Getting in contact with the correct reporter helps the publicist’s image.

Jeansonne says that e-mails or phone calls are appropriate to pitch that first story. If the publicist does send an e-mail, he or she should avoid blasting it out to multiple outlets. Personalize the message to each reporter, and be sure to follow up with a phone call to make sure the message was received and to gauge the reporter’s interest.

“A good relationship between a reporter and publicist is vital to both, and through those relationships you learn who is competent, who can be a real go-to person when you need information,” said Jeansonne.

The First Day for a #Zimmtern: Part Two

By Greg Stengel

After finding out I was headed to the New York American Water Press Conference featuring Senator Chuck Schumer on my first day, the feelings of both excitement and diving into the unknown had doubled. I found myself, an intern on his first day, in a room full of media, elected officials and Long Island water industry representatives. As the press conference began, I found myself learning more than one priceless lesson in public relations.

From the moment I pulled into the parking lot the learning experience had begun. I was starting to learn that for a press conference, and for any in-person or on-camera statement, the message is almost equally as important as how you present the message. First off, the press conference was being held at Massapequa Water District Well 9, which was an iconic location for a press conference on Long Island’s water industry. In addition, it served as a great backdrop for the conference; when talking about water on Long Island, it adds legitimacy when you are speaking at a well that provides water for the area.

As the conference continued, several more lessons would reveal themselves. As Senator Schumer spoke, he and the two water industry representatives wanted to make a point how safe the water on Long Island is to drink: They each drank a glass of water and showed that they truly believed in what they were saying, that the water really is safe for everyone to drink. It added both a visual and emotional effect to the press conference, which I think really helped them convey their message.

The final lesson I learned from attending this press conference was that the use of visuals is key to making sure your audience comprehends the message you are trying to get across. The entire time the senator and water representatives were speaking they had a large map in the background. The speakers would periodically reference this map and show it to the cameras, physically displaying locations and reinforcing their point to the audience in a more clear way through the use of a visual reference.

From not knowing if I was even going to be able to make it into my first day at Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. because of the snow storm, to attending a press conference with Senator Schumer just a few hours later, it’s possible that my first day experience will go down as one of the most exciting and interesting first days in the history of the Zimmtern program.

Looking back it will all be worth it knowing that in such a short time I took away several valuable lessons in public relations that I will without a doubt carry with me for the rest of my career.