At the PRSA Student Summit on February 7, 2013, PR professionals spoke to college students about currents topics affecting the PR world. Content marketing, social media, SEO, writing a resume, and communication in today’s world were some of the topics that were covered.
One of the most interesting speakers of the ay was Ike Pigott, who is the Corporation Communications Director at Alabama Power. He brought up interesting points about the ways to gain the most knowledge from social media networks. He said, “Cultivate the network that makes you smarter,” which means use the social networks that you are involved in to make you more educated and informed about the world around you. One of the main reasons I have my social networking pages is to communicate with friends and see what is happening in their lives, not necessarily to find out new information. He made me realize how important it is to use my resources to the best of my ability in order to gain knowledge.
During the summit, there was a session about what is important to have in a resume and some things that can be left out. Everyone agreed that qualifications were a big part of a resume because it lets the employer know your skills. Also, job experience is something that is important to have on an application because it let’s the employer know that you have had some real world experience. This was an informative and helpful day, especially for Spring graduates.
The Alabama PRSA Student Summit was recently held on February 12 at the Alabama Power headquarters in Birmingham. The summit brought together PR practitioners from throughout the state and PR students from colleges in Alabama and Mississippi. Events for the day included discussions on social media, resume building, and finding a job. Participants were also able to take a tour of the PR department at Alabama Power.
One of the most significant takeaways from my time at the summit was how prepared I felt during the sessions. For example, the first session on social media discussed the importance of using social media and looked at new and innovative techniques for reaching customers and audiences. All of these tips were extremely important, and almost all of these tips were previously discussed in my JMC classes. Throughout the day, the examples that were given and the ideas presented were all a part of my curriculum at Samford. I left the summit feeling more confident in the education I have received in the JMC department and at Samford.
The summit’s keynote speaker was Julia Hood, who works with Haymarket Media. Hood talked about the importance of seizing opportunities in the public relations field. More specifically, her advice for PR practitioners was to:
- Follow your passion. Whatever it is, there is a need for communications.
- Don’t fear the off-road, or the U-turn.
- Embrace your public life in communications.
- Mentor, and be mentored.
- Travel everywhere.
- Build relationships, not contacts.
Each of these pieces of advice was important in its own way, and Hood’s presentation was a beneficial part of the summit. She provided advice for real world public relations that is applicable both today and in the future.
Overall, the PRSA Student Summit was a day well spent. I had the opportunity to learn more about PR, meet professional PR practitioners, and meet other PR students from other colleges in the Southeast. The day provided a unique look into the life of real world PR.
Tuesday February 12 students from all across the southeast converged on Birmingham, Ala. The PRSA Student Summit was held in the Alabama Power Building in Downtown Birmingham. The summit had students from over 12 schools across the southeast from states such as Alabama, Mississippi and others. Topics from the conference included social media, questions for a panel of Public Relations professionals, and a resume review.
After sitting through several hours of lectures and speaking with students from other universities I would have to say that Samford University has prepared me for the changing field of Public Relations. Many of the topics addressed in the lectures were already covered in detail in class. Also, the Samford department of Journalism and Mass Communication has given me more than just simple skills like writing press releases and researching skills. We are prepared in layout and design and video giving us a leg up on the competition.
The lecture that I felt was most important was the one dedicated to social media. A majority of articles written on social media etiquette and job prospects would suggest to lock down your social media accounts to prevent party pictures and inappropriate posts from being seen. The speakers at the lecture suggested to instead clean up your social media to show that you have social media skills and that you are not simply locking things behind a door. Also, the panelists said that it is best to have a plan when it comes to social media for a business. Have a plan of interaction and how this will lead to growing and sustaining your business not just getting more likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter who might never look at your page again.
The most important thing I learned was to listen broadly and to take in as much information as possible. This meant read news stories, and information not just from your field but others. Learning from others broadens your knowledge base and allows you to be more versatile in any job.
On April 13th, Chris Davis, Director of Integrated Communication at Fi-Plan Partners spoke to Dr. Martin’s Class. Mr. Davis’s road to Fi-Plan was not one you would normally expect to see. He graduated with a degree in English and then pursued his career as a traveling musician. During his time as a musician he worked his way into owning a recording studio and an O’Henry’s Coffeehouse. He then began freelance work before landing at Fi-Plan. The focal point of his presentation was center around the question “How are people going to find you?” The answer, of course is by using proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Mr. Davis explained that their are two was to perform SEO. Black hat is SEO by manipulation. It’s randomly throwing names and keywords in your tag bars in hopes that you will land towards the top of a Google Search page. White hat is the proper way to conduct SEO. It involves actually using your keywords on your website or blog post and using them frequently. He then informed us on the top 5 things used in SEO: Keywords, Links, Changing/New Content, Video, and Image tagging. There are three kinds of links: outbound (sending someone away from your website) inbound (someone getting sent to your website from another website) and Internal (sending someone to another area of your site). Mr. Davis stated that blogging is the easiest way to stay current and that he often shoots video blogs with the camera on his iPhone. “Video is the hottest thing in SEO,” Davis said, “Google loves video.” On the subject of image tagging, he said “it is the most overlooked thing.”
On March 2nd, Meredith Foster, Project Specialist for Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, spoke to our class. Her job is influenced heavily by social media. Her position also requires her to be a jack-of-all-trades and she does everything from graphic design to writing press releases. In her line of duty, Ms. Foster is often doing a lot of traveling between Birmingham, Bessemer, and Anniston, Alabama. Two of the programs she uses most are Indesign and Photoshop. Ms. Foster advised us to be avid readers. Some of the blogs she reads on a regular basis are Nonprofit tech 2.0, Social Media Examiner, Mashable, Social Media Today, Social Mouths, and Techcrunch. She also informed us on the ideal times to tweet and make Facebook posts (8:30, 12:30, and 4:30). “At 8:30,” she explained ” people are waiting to get on the clock at work so they’re are more than likely just killing time.” During the other ideal social media times, 12:30 and 4:30, people are surfing while they’re eating lunch, and checking their computers as soon as they get home. She the proceed to give us advice on building a portfolio. Two of the biggest things someone can do are getting published and going to professional development seminars whenever possible.
On Tuesday April 17th, Samford University presented a screening of the documentary Hot Coffee sponsored by the Cumberland School of Law. The documentary centers around tort reform and the McDonald’s lawsuit of 1994. There were about 90 people in attendance and convocation credit as well as lunch was offered. Dr. Martin’s Public Relations class first learned about the documentary from, guest speaker, Stacy Smith. After a brief viewing of the documentary, we as a class, along with Ms. Smith, brainstormed on ideas to successfully promote the screening around campus. Our class then became responsible for making our peers aware of the screening. Our tactics differed from running ads in The Crimson, to hanging up posters, to informing Samford’s Greek Life about the documentary. As a personality for Samford’s radio station, WVSU, I was put in charge of creating a pubic service announcement to air on the station. The PSA I ended up writing was : The Cumberland school of Law will be hosting a screening ofthe documentary Hot Coffee Tuesday,April 17th from 11-1. Convo credit is available and lunch will beprovided to the first 80 students in attendance. That’s Hot Coffee Tuesday, April 17th from 11-1 in the grandroom of the Cumberland School Law. I then relayed the PSA to Andy Parrish, the general manager of WVSU to air during station identification breaks.
On March 14th, Shawn Wright, Director of Venue Management for the Leslie Wright Center and The Pete Hanna Center, gave insights to the event planning aspect of Public Relations. As with pretty much all of our speakers for the year he told us that there is no typical day for him. However, what stood out the most to me about his work as a planner is the fact that he had some events booked for upwards of two years in advance. He stated that there were four major seasons that really never ended and all seemed to run together. The busiest time of the year for him is booking season that starts 18 months before any performance is held. He called this season “very frustrating” noting that things could change at the drop of a dime. Booking season is followed by grant season which is vital for funding with Samford being a private school. Finally, event season starts which means preparing the Hanna and Wright Centers for their busy schedules. While all of the planning stages are going on, Mr. Wright commented that he is always budgeting. After telling about his experiences, he then gave advice about going into his line of work. Although his schedule is usually quite hectic, he embraces it because the chaos keeps everything running. “If you’re in the venue business and you’re standing still, then something is wrong,” he told us. He pointed out that there is nothing worse than a unproductive theater. “A dark theater is like a dead corpse in your living room,” he explained, “it’s there and it’s there for everyone to see.”