Posts in category Zimmed U Blog

Networking at the Hofstra PRSSA “Welcome to NY” Mixer

By Jessica Avenia

Recently, I joined fellow public relations students at Hofstra’s PRSSA Regional Conference, which kicked-off with the “Welcome to New York” Networking Mixer. It was the perfect way to launch the conference because it gave us a chance to connect with young professionals in a laid-back atmosphere next to the Empire State Building, a novel experience for students visiting from out of state.

As graduate committee chair for the Hofstra PRSSA chapter, I was in charge of securing the venue and executing the final details of the event. This responsibility gave me hands-on experience on the event planning side of public relations. It also allowed me to take a step back to observe the interactions taking place with plenty of networking tips to takeaway.

I enjoy meeting new people and consider myself a friendly person, but I absolutely dread going to networking events and having to talk about myself with strangers. The pressure can be overwhelming, as though somehow you don’t fit in because you’re still a student.

That right there is the wrong mindset to have.

Remember, every professional started where you are. Some might be natural networkers, but they most probably learned through experience until they got it right. The key is being confident in what you know, asking questions about what you don’t know and listening to your peers. At the mixer, I actually encountered someone with whom I had a few mutual friends. Once you find that connection, you go with it, engage in conversation and just be yourself. Experiences as a student are interesting and valid, as long as you express passion and eagerness to learn.

Networking can be intimidating for students who are breaking into the field and lack work experience to share. I think school events are the perfect place to build confidence and get accustomed to comfortably introducing yourself to professionals. A few students and I noticed others missing out on this great opportunity by not approaching any of the professionals. We decided two of us would make introductions throughout the night to ensure each student connected with at least one professional. Once they realized most of the professionals were recent Hofstra graduates who not long ago were in the same shoes, they started to let their guard down and enjoyed the rest of the night conversing, asking questions and even exchanging business cards.

The Hofstra PRSSA “Welcome to New York” Networking Mixer was undeniably a wonderful learning experience, and I am thankful I was able to be a part of it. The guests were friendly, approachable and very excited to share their PR stories with us. I now feel that I can go to any networking event and present myself with confidence and not be intimidated by going up to a professional and introducing myself.

5 Things You Can’t Learn in the Classroom

By Jess McNamara

 

1) How to interact with clients and media
This is an extremely important skill that you just can’t ever fully learn in a classroom. Interacting with clients and the media are the most basic components of a PR job, but they also can be the most intimidating. It’s likely that on day one of your first job or internship, you will have to talk to some sort of client or reporter, so it is something you need to get the hang of right away. Only first-hand experience can teach you how to appropriately talk to industry colleagues and develop a professional relationship. Even with the advice given in the classroom, you don’t really learn until you are on a phone call with a reporter who is on deadline and needs information in succinct soundbites.

 

2) Speak up and volunteer
Many college students will tell you volunteering in the classroom is a foreign concept to them. But new job requires active participation, especially while interning. It is vital that you speak up and volunteer at a job: ask questions when you have them and offer to do work that needs to be done even if not specifically assigned to you. In the real world there’s no participation grade, and volunteering shows leadership, work ethic and commitment. The more effort you put into your internship, the more you will be able to learn things that you can’t learn in class from your coworkers in the working world.

 

3) How to use a phone
Sounds simple right? It’s not. I’m not talking about cell phones; I I’m talking about land-line office phones, and if you are tackling your first real office job then this is definitely something you are thrown into on day one. Office phones are scary, they’re tricky, they ring a lot and they have more buttons than you can remember on day one. Mastering the office phone system is probably one of the most difficult things to learn, but you pick it up after a while. Personally, I am about two months into my Zimmerman/Edelson internship, and I still have a cheat sheet on my desk to remind me which buttons to press in each scenario.

 

4) It’s okay to make mistakes
Everyone will tell you this, but it takes actually making the mistakes to realize how true it is. In school, a mistake typically results in a bad grade, a direct consequence of whatever you did wrong. But in the real world people make mistakes and, believe it or not, other people tend to be understanding. You will make mistakes that you didn’t even know were mistakes, and you will make mistakes that instantaneously feel like the end of the world. As long as you own your mistake and do what you can to rectify the situation your coworkers will be understanding. After all, when you begin a new job you are still learning, just through real-world experience instead of through a text book.

 

5) The importance of listening
You will not understand how important listening is until you step out of the classroom and into a real job. Most students get into the habit of passively listening, scrolling through their phone, surfing the web or completing other work. But in a work environment, especially as an intern or junior staff member, listening is key. When you’re being assigned a task, you need to be paying attention to the details and noting all of the specific instructions. Although it is okay to go back and ask questions, it is far more impressive if you show initiative and that you can follow directions on your first attempt at the task. In the classroom the teacher is often there to help you. But as an intern, your goal is to help your coworkers, so try to make their day easier just by fully listening to the instructions you are given.

Public Relations, Politics and the New Hampshire Primary

By Marykate Guilfoyle

Being a student at Hofstra University, I’ve gotten wonderful opportunities to advance my education with personal experiences. In February, I had the chance to attend the New Hampshire Primary with Hofstra’s Political Science Department. This was an experience of a lifetime, in which I was immersed in the media and political culture of New Hampshire.

Zimmterns Jessica McNamara, Marykate Guilfoyle and Gregory Stengel at the NH primary.

Zimmterns Jessica McNamara, Marykate Guilfoyle and Gregory Stengel at the NH primary.

Being a public relations and political science major, the primary gave me a look into the world in which I want to be a part. I got to experience the middle of a media frenzy while also listening to candidates speak in intimate settings. I was able to attend small events for Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Jim Gilmore, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Being a New Yorker, this is something I would have never been able to experience.

New Hampshire is all about retail politics and authenticity; the candidates had to relate to everyday people. It was their job to make as much of a personal connection as they could to make sure their message was heard. If the people didn’t feel that the candidate’s message was genuine and authentic, the candidate has failed.

This is what PR is all about; you have to connect with people and deliver your message in a way that your constituents will understand it. At all of the different candidate’s events, staffers were handing out posters, flyers, pamphlets, stickers and more. Everyone that worked on the campaign did whatever they could to keep potential voters and guests of the event happy.

Sen. Rubio and Marykate

Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio pictured with Zimmtern and Hofstra student Marykate Guilfoyle.

Marco Rubio was late to an event and as we waited the staffers ordered pizza to keep everyone upbeat. At a Hillary Clinton event people got shut out of the event due to the gymnasium reaching capacity, so the staffers made it their job to give everyone waiting in line priority seating at the next Clinton event. This was all done to maintain the candidate’s image and reaffirm the importance of the guest at the event to the candidate.

Public Relations and politics go hand and hand, and I had the opportunity to experience it firsthand.

zimmterns new hampshire primary 2

The Zimmterns got a first-hand look at campaign rally’s for both the Democratic and Republican Party’s.

Dial ‘1’ for a Guide to Working the Phones

By Dan Schaefer

Riiiiiiing.

I stopped in my tracks and glared at the blinking device sitting to my left, its red, ominous light daring me to pick it up. It was silent for a moment. I wished the person on the other line realized they had dialed the wrong number and hung up.

Riiiiiiing.

Nope. The noise was no different to me than the classic sound of a haunting church bell from a horror movie.

I had received a very thorough, simple, and helpful training session on how to work the office phone system just hours earlier. Still, there’s a big difference between training and being thrown into a situation for the first time. A police officer’s first call. An actor’s first performance. An athlete’s first professional game. A public relations intern’s first time answering the office phone.

“Zimmerman/Edelson, this is Dan,” I whispered. “Yeah, is Robert available?” said the voice on the other end.

“Robert…Robert as in Robert Zimmerman, Robert?” I said, desperately hoping I hadn’t said the wrong name. I mean, in fairness to me, it was my first day at Zimmerman/Edelson, and the two founders first names were Robert and Ron. Pretty easy to mix-up.

“Yes…this is his father,” said the voice. “Please hold,” I answered.

I glanced over at Robert’s desk. Empty. Thinking back to my training, I had 30 seconds to get Robert on the phone. The clock was ticking, and knowing that someone was probably listening to some mundane hold music only added to the pressure. I mean nobody likes listening to that stuff.

After asking several people in the room where he was, I saw him through the window of the back office on what looked like was an important call. The door was shut and he had his back to the window. The idea of barging in on one of Robert Zimmerman’s important phone calls was not something I was hoping to do my first day. I somewhat expected someone to shout “Dead man walking!” as I nervously moved towards the door.

“Robert? Your father is on line one,” I said as I poked my head through the door. “I’m already on with him,” he answered as he moved the phone away from his face.

It took me a second to realize that in the half of a minute I was dealing with the call, it had already been taken care of. This gave me confidence.

For the rest of the day, I didn’t think of the phone like a time bomb. Rather, I looked at it as an opportunity to gain more experience. I found that in many cases the person on the other line needed something very simple.

I took messages for other employees and began to decipher their hand gestures when they were already on other calls. I transferred people to voicemail. I even went on the overhead intercom to announce someone was on the phone for an employee upstairs.

One of the first things I was taught at Zimmerman/Edelson was the fact that handling business through the phone in a professional and efficient way is key. Yet, I guarantee you will never see “How to Answer a Phone at your PR Internship” marked on any of your class syllabi as a topic of discussion. That’s because it’s just a small part of adjusting from being a student to an intern or even a professional, something I’ve just begun.

The First Day for a #Zimmtern

By Greg Stengel

After months of applying to countless public relations internships and traveling all over New York to make interviews, I was confident I had finally found my home as a “Zimmtern” at Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. I could not have been more excited or relieved to know I had finally taken my first step into the real world. I anxiously waited throughout winter break for the first day to arrive, mentally preparing myself for the unknown world I was about to encounter.

Winter break passed and it was finally time to get started. As if I wasn’t nervous enough for the first day, Mother Nature decided to pound the New York area with one of the biggest blizzards in history. All weekend the only thought on my mind was if I was even going to be able to trek through the snow to make it to Great Neck for the first day. But after surviving the blizzard, the other interns and I finally made it on time to our first day as Zimmterns.

I walked into the office both extremely nervous and excited. Almost immediately after finding my desk and meeting the staff I was instructed to attend the weekly staff meeting. There I was shocked to find out that I was going with Jill, one of the account executives, to a press conference with her client New York American Water where Senator Chuck Schumer would be speaking. Within 15 minutes into my first day as a Zimmtern I was out in the field learning about the industry from a real-world perspective, which is something you simply cannot do in a classroom.

Having such an exciting first day really set the tone for the rest of the internship. On top of learning about the public relations industry on my first day, I’ve learned that as a “Zimmtern” you should expect the unexpected and come into every day with an open mind. I look forward to more exciting learning experiences as the semester continues.

Stay tuned for Greg’s follow-up post about the press conference!

Day in the Life of a Zimmtern

By: Saralynn Kupperberg

It’s hard to define a typical day at a public relations internship, as every day is different, bringing new challenges and learning opportunities.

My day begins with checking the many emails that come with a public relations internship, and planning out and prioritizing the different tasks that I have for the day.  On a typical day I could be writing a press release, media advisory, photo captions, or posts for social media. I could also be organizing media lists or creating press clippings. I have even had the opportunity to pitch media, calling the news organizations that I admire.5

Additionally, during my internship, I have even had the opportunity to work on events for clients, teaching me about the world of event planning.  All of these tasks have helped learn new skills that I know I will use in the future, as well as improve on the skills that I have learned in class with real world experience.
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5 Ways to Network Like a Pro

By Saralynn Kupperberg

Network. Network. Network. You’ve heard it so many times from professors, family, and professionals in the field, but how do you master the skill that is so essential to public relations? Here are 5 tips to network like a pro.

1. Don’t be afraid.
Networking seems like an overwhelming concept, but like all things in life practice makes perfect. Come up with a quick elevator pitch describing yourself, as well as a few questions that you can ask any professional, and you will be ready to network with anyone that you meet.

I'm scared

2. Put your reporter hat on.
Everyone loves talking about themselves. Put your reporter hat on and ask them the questions. Some great question to ask are: how did you get your start? What are some major issues in the industry today? As well as, where do you think the industry is going. There answers will allow you to dig deeper, and make connections to your life and experiences. After using this method you won’t realize how much time you have spent networking.

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3. Say thank you.
Make sure to get a business card at the end of your networking experience, and then send a thank you note. This is a an essential part of the networking process. Even it is only an email, this step will help plant the seed for creating a contact and a professional relationship.

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4. Let’s keep in touch.
Don’t let the thank you letter be the last time you ever talk to them. Keep in touch. A few weeks after your networking experience, send that person an email letting them know that you were thinking of them. You can send them an interesting article related to the industry, or a specific aspect of the job, or something that they mentioned during your conversation. This contact helps turn that networking experience into a professional relationship.

call me

5. You can help them too!
You can be as much of a resource to a professional as they can be to you. While you may think that you can’t offer anything to a professional as a college student, you never know what they are looking for. In your thank you note, let them know that you are available if there is anything that you can do for them. This creates a reciprocal relationship, rather than a one-way street.

howmayihelpyou-copy

5 Tips to Ace Any Job Interview

By: Allie Giordano

1. Research the company before the interview. It’s so important to make sure you know the company’s core values and most important clients before you go into the interview.  Always be prepared to answer questions about the company. If you are not asked these questions, you can still refer to the interviewing company’s recent worjakek as a way to demonstrate your familiarity with the organization and your attention to detail.

2. Bring extra copies of your resume to the interview. There is no downside to being extra prepared. Maybe more than one person will be interviewing you, or perhaps the interviewer did not bother to print one out. It’s always better to go home with a stack of unused documents than to not have the one you need. Also: Make sure all papers are in a folder so they don’t get crumpled up.

3. Dress for success. In general, you should know where you’re applying to, and dress accordingly. You’re not going to dress the same for an interview with a financial institution as you would for one with a gardening organization, for example. But in any instance, it’s better to be overdressed then under dressed. Business casual is the way to go.

4. Arrive five to ten minutes early for the interview.  Always give yourself a little extra time in case your train is delayed or you can’t find the office right away.

5. Always have a question prepared to ask the person who interviews you. You will sound more engaged and interested if you ask a question about the company, particularly as it pertains to the position for which you are applying.