Posts tagged public relations

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.

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!