Making a List and Checking It Twice

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Published on December 2, 2016, at 1:14 p.m.
by Megan Perkins.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” And everyone knows what that means – holiday shopping! Stores around the country are stocking up for the holiday season as wish lists are made, and family members and friends are frantically trying to figure out what to put under the tree this year.

As I get older, I find it harder to answer the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” I’ve long retired the American Girl Doll clothes and Polly Pockets from my list, so it’s been difficult to come up with “big girl” items.

OK, maybe not that difficult. I could easily compose a list including clothes, makeup or jewelry, but I’m at the point where I’d rather receive something more practical. As a public relations student preparing to enter the workforce, I realized there are items I could ask for that would benefit my professional development.

Whether you’re looking to add to your wish list or searching to find the perfect gift for your friend, family member or colleague, I’ve compiled a list of everything a PR pro could ever desire. These may not be as good as receiving an actual job from Santa, but they’re a step in that direction.

Look the part

1. Business professional and casual clothing
The number one rule for interview season is dress to impress. In the public relations field, it seems there is always an occasion that pops up where you need to whip out your very best suit or dress. And suits aren’t cheap! The holidays are the perfect time to stock your closet with professional clothing that you’ll more than likely need on a regular basis.

2. Professional bag or purse
To complement your snappy business outfit, pair it with a sleek bag. You’re going to have items you’ll want to bring with you to interviews or to your internship, but you won’t want to rely on your bulky backpack or studded satchel. Plus, you should never have your phone out, so having a place to tuck it away is a must!

3. Padfolio
Nothing says, “I mean business,” more than a padfolio. They’re great for taking notes during presentations or on agency tours, they provide a spot to store your résumés, and they make you look super important. Consider asking for a customized padfolio, such as one for your college, an organization you’re a part of or simply with your name. You’ll look much more professional with a padfolio in hand rather than a spiral notebook.

4. LinkedIn upgrade and personal website domain name
Looking the part also applies to your online presence. Employers rely on the digital world when sifting through applications, which means a printed résumé is no longer enough. It’s necessary to have a strong presence on sites such as LinkedIn. It offers tremendous opportunities to network, stay updated on the latest news and search for jobs.

On top of using other useful sites, it’s important to establish one of your own. Creating a personal website is a useful tool for establishing your personal brand, and it allows you to present an online portfolio. However, customized domain names aren’t free, so if you’re looking for your website to be personalized, add it to the list.

Gadgets and gizmos

1. Planner
Deadlines are a top priority in the PR world, so an organizer or planner is a must to stay on track. Whether you prefer a daily, weekly or monthly structure, there is a planner out there for you that will ensure you don’t miss that meeting or event.

Making a List

2. Watch
Timing is everything. I usually rely on my phone to check the time, but there are situations where it’s inappropriate to pull a phone out. A watch guarantees you’ll know the time in a respectful and fashionable way.

Subscriptions

1. News publications
Following the news is required to succeed as a public relations practitioner. There are thousands of apps and websites to rely on for the latest and greatest, but some require a subscription to receive the entire content. PRWeek, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are a few publications to consider subscribing to this holiday season.

2. Adobe Suite and Creative Cloud
The days of Word Art are over. Design programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop have taken over the industry, and it has become almost necessary for rising PR pros to learn the skills to use them. Familiarizing yourself with these programs on a regular basis can give you an edge over the competition.

3. AP Style for Microsoft Word
This added feature will save you from making the dire mistake of writing “resume” instead of “résumé.” Obviously, you should know AP Style backward and forward, but we all slip up from time to time and could use the extra help.

If you’re like me and struggle to come up with a yo-pro gift list, hopefully this list can guide you when trying to figure out what to ask Santa for this season. Happy holidays!

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