Career – Platform Magazine https://platformmagazine.org University of Alabama Fri, 08 Nov 2019 20:44:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 Closing the Gap — Understanding Media Relations  https://platformmagazine.org/2019/11/08/closing-the-gap-understanding-media-relations/ Fri, 08 Nov 2019 20:44:59 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=20803 Published on November 8, 2019, at 2:45 p.m. by Ally Denton. Public relations professionals are no strangers to the media. We are constantly keeping up with news and trends — ensuring we are at the cusp of anything newsworthy. In this field it’s common to interact with media gatekeepers, and with collaboration comes communication. Taking [...]

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Published on November 8, 2019, at 2:45 p.m.
by Ally Denton.

Public relations professionals are no strangers to the media. We are constantly keeping up with news and trends — ensuring we are at the cusp of anything newsworthy. In this field it’s common to interact with media gatekeepers, and with collaboration comes communication.

Taking a look at the media relations industry from an insider’s point of view can strengthen PR professionals’ knowledge and lead to better partnerships. Public relations and media relations go hand in hand, but the lines can get blurry, especially with new communication channels appearing daily.

According to Everything-PR, media relations consists of a company’s interaction with the media and its key players — editors, reporters and journalists.

Blast Media noted that a PR practitioner’s goal is to shape and communicate their client’s newsworthy message to their audience. According to Blast Media, media relations provides the megaphone for sharing this message by utilizing one of the most trusted, cost-effective methods.

In order for PR professionals to achieve their goals, it’s imperative to understand another one of their main audiences — media relations experts — and to implement simple lessons to close the gap.

Photo by Matthew Guay on Unsplash

Understanding media relations

A disparity between the two groups is the fact that many people in PR have never worked as journalists or reporters and don’t completely grasp what their day-to-day looks like.

WBRC FOX6 News’ News Director Shannon Isbell described her daily duties as management-focused: “I am the leader of the news department, but I have a team of seven other managers that help me manage each daypart.” Isbell said she spends her day “culling through emails, managing the Investigative Team, HR issues, legal concerns, meeting with upper leadership, as well as other departments to talk about special projects, planning, budgets and revenue, etc.”

Isbell continued, “People think it’s glitz and glamour, especially if you’re on TV. The truth is reporters’ work is really, really hard.”

Although it isn’t always glamorous, Isbell noted that “journalists are the documenters of history. That affords us better seats to events than money can buy.” Acknowledging the journalists’ role is essential for PR pros as they reach out to journalists and reporters to cover their stories, Isbell added, “[Our position] allows us to tell stories about the communities we serve and effect change.”

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Pitching effectively 

Public relations specialists are certainly familiar with press releases, but making sure to pitch them effectively isn’t always as easy as it seems.

In a webinar, freelance journalist Oliver Gee observed that when PR pros send out rubbish mass emails, it ruins the chances for other people who have something good to say from being heard.

Isbell agreed, advising PR professionals to “make your pitch stand out and make it succinct!”

Tailoring your pitch is a crucial element is getting the story picked up. A targeted approach ensures you’re reaching the right person, at the right time, with something that’s relevant to them and their audiences.

In the Cision State of the Media 2017 survey, journalists said their biggest motivator for pursuing a story is when someone shows knowledge of their previous work.

Isbell suggested making sure journalists’ questions — such as “What is visual about the story? Why should we cover it? What impact will it have on our viewers? — will be answered. Do your research and include a comprehensive pitch to spark their interest.

Utilizing established media outlets

Gaining media coverage is a great way to tap into different audiences, and most media outlets have spent years building their reach. They have more status and authority than social media, so traditional media coverage will help your newsworthy story gain credibility (CP Communications).

Photo by Redrecords ©️ from Pexels

Gray Television is a leading player in the communication and broadcasting field. Ellenann Yelverton, vice president and deputy general counsel for Gray Television, said, “Gray currently owns and/or provides services to television stations and digital properties in 93 television markets, covering approximately 24 percent of U.S. television households and broadcasting over 400 separate programming streams.”

Reaching these established audiences could be extremely beneficial for PR professionals and their respective clients, but it isn’t always easy. There are many challenges on the media relations side that PR practitioners aren’t aware of.

Isbell explained, “The president has declared war on the media. That’s just a fact. It isn’t a political statement. This [situation] leads to many complications with covering stories and gaining the information necessary for such.”

Yelverton, speaking from a legal standpoint, noted, “We have pre-publication duties we can do to help to try to make sure the reporters and news stations have what they need to properly document news.” She added that many pre- and post-publications’ issues are top-of-mind and urgent, typically from a news station viewpoint, and require constant, quick answers from the news-review legal teams.

Public relations and media relations can run into similar legal issues where access and speech are concerned. Learning the ins and outs of the process encourages favorable partnerships amongst all three facets of communications.

Taking all of these tips and insider tidbits into account can form a holistic view of the media relations field and its role in disseminating information to the public. As PR professionals, it is vital to effectively communicate — especially to our fellow media gatekeepers.

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Inside Tips on Internships https://platformmagazine.org/2019/10/24/inside-tips-on-internships/ Thu, 24 Oct 2019 02:24:58 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=20659 Published on October 30, 2019, at 4:30 p.m. by Ashby Brown. Whether you find yourself in the heart of the South, the sunny state of California, along the East Coast or somewhere in between, there is no limit to the number of internships available to college students. Having trouble finding inspiration for this coming summer? [...]

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Published on October 30, 2019, at 4:30 p.m.
by Ashby Brown.

Whether you find yourself in the heart of the South, the sunny state of California, along the East Coast or somewhere in between, there is no limit to the number of internships available to college students. Having trouble finding inspiration for this coming summer? Check out the profiles below to learn new internship paths for public relations students.


Abby Goldstein

Abby Goldstein

Abby Goldstein, a senior majoring in international relations and biological anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, interned at New York Life Investments this summer. As a product marketing intern in New York City, she mainly worked on competitor analyses and assisted in the marketing of the company’s ETF — equity, municipal and general investment funds. Before this internship, Goldstein was unsure about her future career path.

“New York Life offers general corporate internships, and I thought it was a good way to start to explore the corporate world,” stated Goldstein.

As a special perk this summer, Goldstein was able to work closely with a team of marketing interns on a special project for the chief marketing officer of New York Life Investments. “It was great to have a project to work on as a group and have that relationship with the CMO,” said Goldstein.

Goldstein learned a lot of new skills at her internship this summer, but what she valued most was teamwork. “As a pretty serious liberal-arts student, I tend to do a lot of research, which is not necessarily teamwork,” she said. Goldstein mentioned that learning to work on a team gave her the opportunity to think more deeply about what she wants to do after college. This experience “helped to set the scene” for what jobs she will look for in the future.

There was much more to New York than New York Life Investments. “Being an intern in New York is just something that is so fun. There are so many opportunities for interns in New York,” she said. From the restaurants and the networking to the culture in the city, New York didn’t disappoint.

Her biggest internship advice is to network with people and utilize LinkedIn. “It’s really hard to find an internship because these companies are making a 10-week investment in you,” she advises. “Cast a wide net and talk to recent graduates from your university.”

Brooke Willet

Brooke Willett

Brooke Willet is a senior studying public relations at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While it may be customary to do a summer internship, Willet is completing a remote internship during her fall semester this year. Currently working as a publicity intern at Choice Media and Communication in Franklin, Tennessee, Willet writes media alerts, compiles top news and updates status reports, among other tasks to help with the publicity of authors and lifestyle influencers.

Willet came across Choice’s internship by searching for what she was passionate about — her favorite authors. “I am a big fan of Jordan Lee Dooley and Bob Goff. I basically just Googled ‘Jordan Lee Dooley publicity’ because they seemed like they were doing a good job,” she said. She continued to search for her favorite authors’ publicity firms, and Choice’s name continued to pop up. After a lot of Googling and investigating, Willet applied for an internship this past summer, and she eventually had an interview with Heather Adams, the founder and CEO.

Working three days per week, Willet loves the flexibility that she has with her internship. “My internship is remote, so I do everything from a coffee shop in Knoxville,” she said.

One of her favorite tasks is writing media alerts for book tours. Most recently, she pitched a media alert to The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Good Morning America. She improved her writing skills by learning how to cater to different audiences. Since working here, Willet has more clarity on “what a press release looks like versus a media alert, how these are formatted and what voice to use.”

Having an internship during the school year is more beneficial than Willet first thought it would be. “I think that having an internship while doing school is beneficial to me because it keeps my mind fresh with what I need to be doing,” she said. “I really like going into my internship and gaining real-world work experience. Then I can go into my classes on Tuesday and Thursday and learn about how I can improve what I’m already doing.”

When looking for an internship, Willet suggests thinking deeply about what you are passionate about. When you know your passions, you can network within that field to hear about certain opportunities. “You have no idea who knows who,” Willet said. “You never know who will have the same passions as you. If you’re putting your best foot forward and putting in hard, good work, then someone will recognize that.”

Emily Edwards

Emily Edwards

Emily Edwards, a senior at High Point University in North Carolina, is majoring in strategic communications with a double minor in marketing and sales. This summer, she worked with Phase 3 Marketing and Communications in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was a marketing intern.

During her sophomore year of college, Edwards created a “hit list” of companies with internships that piqued her interest. Two summers later, she reached out to a few agencies off that list, and, in the end, accepted an offer from Phase 3’s Charlotte office.

The most exciting part of her internship was developing her skill set. “I am a very curious and eager learner, so whenever it came to dabbling in something out of my wheelhouse, like dealing with a new program, I got to learn a lot,” Edwards said. During the summer, she got to create a sitemap for one of her clients, a task that she had never tackled before.

Edwards learned a lot of technical skills at Phase 3, but she also learned about herself. “I think the biggest affirmation that I learned was that you don’t have to be a cookie-cutter business person to go into an industry. You want to differentiate yourself,” she mentioned. “I always had this preconceived notion that having a job would be boring, but the truth is that you just have to find what’s good for you.”

Edwards has advice for everyone searching for internships right now. She wants people to focus on their interests, not on their limitations. “Don’t be intimidated by the qualifications. During your interview, they may find you to be a perfect fit, and make an exception … which would be the outcome of you being proactive and believing in yourself,” she said. “If you are able to let go of your own preconceived feelings that are holding you back, you should just go for it. Now is the time.”

Max Peterson

Max Peterson

Hailing from The University of Alabama, Max Peterson is a senior studying public relations. This summer, Peterson worked at WarnerMedia in Burbank, California, for TBS, TNT and HBO Max in the publicity department.

Peterson focused his internship hunt by researching entertainment opportunities in Los Angeles, California. While he originally applied to TBS, he ended up with TNT, WarnerMedia and HBO Max “due to the changes the company was undergoing at the time.”

His summer internship in LA was nothing short of exciting, he said. “During my first week on the job, I was able to attend the AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards for Denzel Washington at the Dolby Theatre, where I met some of my role models and heroes I had seen before only on the Big Screen,” Peterson explained. “My summer was filled with sporadic press events covering everything from award shows to big news in terms of our television shows and programming.”

Between all the stardom and event preparation, Peterson had some time to reflect on his internship, even if it was for five minutes after his daily media review. “The scope of your job will not always be listed in its description,” he noted. “I had so many new tasks, duties and assignments given to me that were outside of my comfort zone, but accepting these and the feedback that comes with completing them is crucial to my development as a professional.”

For readers looking for internships now, Peterson advises to search for a company or a city that interests them, then start broad. For example, Peterson started broad by deciding where he wanted to be in the country, then he began researching studios and companies within the city. “I promise there will be housing options; don’t let that deter you from looking at certain places,” Peterson said.

Peterson shared one last piece of advice: “People in these companies want someone who is excited, who is thankful for the opportunity, and who is ready to work. Let it show in your communication with them.”


From these four different experiences, we can see that the public relations field can extend to nearly any skill set. PR practitioners can find their niche in the form of publicity, classic press releases, site maps or even through investment funds. What is it that all four of these students have in common? They all know the hunt for an internship may be arduous, but the hard work invested is worth it in the end.

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Educating the Next PR Generation https://platformmagazine.org/2019/10/04/educating-the-next-pr-generation/ Fri, 04 Oct 2019 20:06:31 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=20322 Published on October 4, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. by Zoie Mestayer. These days, public relations educators have their work cut out for them. Clients demand creative, flexible and experienced employees — a tall order, to say the least. PR professors are wholly responsible for creating this next generation of public relations practitioners to suit the [...]

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Published on October 4, 2019, at 2:00 p.m.
by Zoie Mestayer.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

These days, public relations educators have their work cut out for them. Clients demand creative, flexible and experienced employees — a tall order, to say the least. PR professors are wholly responsible for creating this next generation of public relations practitioners to suit the ever-changing needs of a diverse industry. Behind every successful public relations professional, there’s a number of professors who helped them get there.

That said, there is no clearly defined path to becoming a PR educator. A commonly held misconception is that you need to get a doctorate to teach at a university, but that’s not the case. Some institutions require a master’s degree, but the requirements are otherwise flexible. Aspiring professors often do follow the traditional academic route and pursue a doctoral degree, conducting research along the way. However, there is also a place for experienced professionals in higher education, even if they have never considered academia an option.

Mark Harris, a visiting professor at The University of Alabama, is a perfect example of the latter; his teaching job was somewhat of a happy accident. He had just retired from IBM, where he served as the vice president of communications for IBM Global Business Services. He had planned to do some freelance work, but mainly relax, during his retirement. He was a board member of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, which is headquartered on UA’s campus, and was contacted by the head of the university’s advertising and public relations department about filling a recent opening on the faculty.

Now, Harris is beginning his third year of teaching. He attributes much of his approach in the classroom to his experience in the industry. He knows what matters to employers because, until very recently, he was the employer. Imparting these skills is essential to teaching the next generation of public relations professionals to make the move from the campus to the workplace. For example, in his leadership class, he tries to “de-mystify what the professional world is all about — the standards and expectations” and focus on skills that he knows will get them hired, like critical thinking, building persuasive arguments and public speaking. He wants his students to feel prepared and confident to enter any work environment when they leave his class.

“I don’t have the expertise of people doing cutting-edge research on trends and developments in communications,” Harris said. “Exposure to that expertise is essential. At the same time, I think what we offer here is a balance of that kind of scholarship along with the perspective of very recent, working experience in the profession.”

Dr. Christal Johnson, assistant teaching professor at Syracuse University, agreed that on-the-job experience is helpful for any educator. She maintains, however, the benefits of pursuing graduate degrees in public relations — both for aspiring educators and future PR practitioners. She began teaching communications and writing courses at a community college after being laid off as a result of downsizing. Later, she went back to school, got her doctorate and began working at a four-year university.

“Pursuing a graduate degree helps you learn theory that shapes the practical concepts implemented in the PR profession,” Johnson said. Additionally, the research skills taught in graduate programs translate very well to practical applications, she noted.

Dr. Karla Gower, another professor at The University of Alabama, had more of a nontraditional path to education. She had always wanted to teach but, after graduating college with an English degree, chose to go to law school over getting a teaching degree. After finishing law school, she practiced law for seven years but concluded that it wasn’t for her, “although a law degree gives you instant credibility,” she noted. Instead, she decided to go back to school to get her master’s in mass communication.

She took a few PR classes as a part of her master’s, and she knew she had found her calling. Her thesis adviser mentioned that he thought she’d fit in well with academia. She then got her Ph.D. and started teaching soon thereafter.

Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

“I loved going to school,” Gower said, “but I think the best public relations teachers have some experience working in the field.” She stressed, however, that personality has a large effect on an individual’s teaching capabilities. “You have to be able to relate to the students,” she said.

As for the future of public relations education, all three professors believe that there will be increased pressure to integrate with other forms of communications.

“The work of PR practitioners does not exist in a silo, but in conjunction with various departments and functions within an organization,” Johnson said. Johnson also hopes that public relations educators will become more diverse to represent the publics with whom they wish to relate.

Harris echoed these sentiments. He touched on the trends of convergence, driven largely by digital techniques for personalization and amplification, but identified a caveat. He cautions that educators not lose sight of the “eternal” skills of public relations — the ability to analyze situations and render business advice, relationship building, clarity and logic in writing and in verbal expression. Those things only become more important during this time of transition. The challenge, he thinks, is ensuring that educational programs prepare students for a world in which activities and traditional roles within public relations, marketing, advertising converge, while maintaining expertise within disciplines. “Nobody calls marketing to mitigate a crisis, and nobody wants PR managing the product or signings pipeline,” he said.

“Things are changing so quickly and schools are struggling to keep up with that change and revamp curricula,” Gower said. “Higher education moves at a snail’s pace. We’re going to have to speed that up and make sure you’re getting what you need in order to be successful.”

Johnson believes that pursuing a career in higher education is a noble vocation that should not be taken lightly. She urges aspiring educators to “count the costs before you make the leap into higher education, and make sure you are truly dedicated to the rewarding career of educating, instructing, learning from, and guiding students as they matriculate through higher education and become PR practitioners.”

Harris offered this piece of advice to aspiring educators: “Define the role as developing thinking members of society, not just skilled practitioners for public relations. Not everyone in our classes is going to chase a career in public relations, but they all will have to cast votes and raise families and contribute to their communities, so find ways to get them engaged in the issues of the world and the ability to think about those independently and objectively.”

He asserted that, although it is a huge responsibility, becoming an educator was one of the best decisions he ever made, even if it was unplanned.

“I don’t believe that you can chart your career that precisely,” Harris said. “You can think about it, you can keep yourself ready for the next development, but in my experience a lot of it happens by accident. So stay ready for the accident to happen.”

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Inside Look: The Quotes PR Club at UCF https://platformmagazine.org/2019/06/03/inside-look-the-quotes-pr-club-at-ucf/ Mon, 03 Jun 2019 12:19:51 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19460 Published on June 3, 2019, at 7:19 a.m. by Mickey Kennedy. Since 1981, a club has been growing at the University of Central Florida providing public relations students a place to learn, network and find internships together. The Quotes PR Club at UCF, now 80 members strong, is just the place for that. The mission [...]

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Published on June 3, 2019, at 7:19 a.m.
by Mickey Kennedy.

Since 1981, a club has been growing at the University of Central Florida providing public relations students a place to learn, network and find internships together. The Quotes PR Club at UCF, now 80 members strong, is just the place for that.

The mission
According to its website, The Quotes PR Club’s mission is “to cultivate the professional development of future industry professionals who will lead in the field of communication.”

This stated goal is backed by the club’s president, Rachel Illardi, who said, “[Quotes’ mission] is to help students learn what they want to do in PR and what PR really is, since there are so many things so you can do, whether that is government or agency or nonprofit. We can give students a taste of that on a day-to-day basis; it really helps people learn what they want to do in the PR field while they are also networking with local professionals who can possibly get them a job when they graduate.”

The club’s mission is fulfilled through the events and workshops the club promotes and hosts both on campus and through in-state trips.

For example, this spring semester the group had a trip planned to Miami during which members were able to learn more about future opportunities in the South Florida region, as well as visit agencies and get a chance to network.

Illardi explained, “We found out that some of our members were from South Florida and wanted to get them networking with people from that area if they decided to go back home after graduation.”

Alyssa Harrell, the director of events for the club, helps plan these trips. She said, “We try to do at least one per semester if we can get the details organized and if there are opportunities in those cities that students are interested in.” She continued, “We are always interested in going to new places especially since we have a rotation of members with students graduating and new members joining the club.”

For just $250, which includes the hotel room as well as breakfast and lunch every day, students can take the three-day trip to Miami. Students will be able to meet with Kivvit and Norwegian Cruise Lines as well as take a visit to the Wynwood Art District.

Intern Pursuit
The main event that The Quotes PR Club hosts every year is Intern Pursuit, similar to a job fair with companies from the area and across the state. Harrell helps put on this event, which features “around 80 employers [who] come to the student union and table and students can network and try to get internships. It is something we have been doing for around 10 years and is a super important part of our club.”

Employers who come to Intern Pursuit offer opportunities that range from government PR jobs with the city of Orlando to on-campus internships at UCF, such as with the college of business and even the athletics department.

The website gives short blurbs to inform members on what the employers are looking for, how many potential interns they are looking to hire, what type of work they would be doing, and if the internship includes any form of compensation.

To prepare for Intern Pursuit, the club puts together “Company Coffee Chats” to help its members learn about employers. Harrell said, “For Intern Pursuit we really want to prepare the students to be at the best when they come through the doors and talk to professionals. So we thought to do something like this [Company Coffee Chats] would help students feel more comfortable and know what questions to ask and also know where they think they would fit best in a company.”

The Quotes PR Club builds a space where young PR professionals can grow and develop their talents. Through strong leadership and key events, these students at the University of Central Florida can prepare for a future beyond campus before having to leave it.

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Publicity Perspectives from Three Music Industry Insiders https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/19/publicity-perspectives-from-three-music-industry-insiders/ Fri, 19 Apr 2019 15:50:01 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19373 Published on April 19, 2019, at 10:50 a.m. by Michaela McLean. Due to the ever-changing digital landscape, the music industry has drastically evolved in the last decade. For example, vinyl records and cassette tapes have been replaced by streaming services, such as iTunes and Spotify. According to Forbes Magazine, streaming is officially the lifeblood of [...]

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Published on April 19, 2019, at 10:50 a.m.
by Michaela McLean.

Due to the ever-changing digital landscape, the music industry has drastically evolved in the last decade. For example, vinyl records and cassette tapes have been replaced by streaming services, such as iTunes and Spotify. According to Forbes Magazine, streaming is officially the lifeblood of the U.S. music industry.

The implementation of new technology creates more hyper-competition amongst artists than ever before. With artists vying for consumer attention, the role of publicity is indispensable and imperative. In the midst of a digital revolution, how can publicists effectively attract the public’s attention to their artists?

To maximize artist publicity, today’s publicists must understand the industry’s demands while collaborating with both artists and managers. Three music industry insiders share their different perspectives on gaining and maintaining music publicity.

Photo via Unsplash

The publicist
From networking to marketing, music publicists act as liaisons between the artists and the press. They highlight and promote the artistry, creative works and personalities of their clients. Publicists possess stellar writing and editing skills to create content for the artists and media contacts. In addition, successful publicists understand how to cultivate relationships in order to make themselves trusted resources.

Shannon Walker served for over two decades as senior manager of publicity for Christian music label Integrity Music. From album reviews to broadcast interviews, she promoted artists, projects, songs and the label itself from the initial pitch to placement of all earned media. She also served as the label representative for industry awards shows, such as the Dove Awards and the Grammy Awards.

Digital advancements in the music industry affected her job on multiple platforms. Alongside the rise of streaming options, she experienced a rise in digital media outlets, including those covering her focus genre, Christian music. Over the last few years, she watched an increase in fan-driven media outlets (websites, blogs, podcasts) run by enthusiasts who do not have a journalism background. She claimed, “While the level of storytelling/writing/editing may have declined in some cases, the passion for the subject matter remains strong.”

“Both professional and fan-driven media outlets are often run by a skeleton crew, including volunteers, who don’t have time to create ‘from scratch’ content,” added Walker. “This means fewer journalists and more curators. Both factors have helped shift the landscape, requiring publicists to think and act as content creators and to push their clients to do the same. For example, where I once would have pitched a story, provided related materials and coordinated the interview, I am now creating copy that can be lifted directly from a press release, bio or email pitch to be used as ready-made content.”

Photo via Unsplash

She went on to explain that the music industry is “moving from an ‘album culture’ focused on one big project promoted across a limited time span, to dealing with a song-driven digital economy in which artists release multiple songs on an ongoing basis. This only adds to the urgency of content creation so that there are continuous touch points for your client.”

Publicists must always have artists’ reputations and images at the forefront of their minds. Most importantly, publicists must create the habit to truly know their artists and their music. Walker said, “You can’t represent someone well if you don’t ‘get’ them. For me, nothing beats believing in what you represent.”

The manager
Managers are looking for publicists who cultivate strategic connections to propel their artists into the limelight. They are seeking a professional who communicates clearly and succinctly, while understanding the artist’s target audience.

Eric Champion is an artist manager for Multiplied Management, a “360-degree management and coaching for artists, producers and songwriters who want to change the world.” He consults with artists on major career decisions and assists in expanding the artists’ brands and reach. Moreover, he communicates daily with publicists regarding each artist’s brand and vision for future goals.

Photo via Unsplash

Eric Champion stated, “Publicity is one of the first things we contract out. We need someone with the connections we don’t have to help us get the word out.” Moreover, he strives to always be on the same page as the publicist to determine “what publicity avenues we’ll spend our dollars pursuing.”

According to a Cyber PR Music article, artists must have a compelling story, also known as a “signature story,” that attracts potential fans before they hear the artist’s music. The artist’s story is the foundation that a publicist works with when seeking publicity.

Champion helps artists discover and craft their stories to make them unforgettable to their publics. “There is a massive population of talented people releasing new music every day,” Champion explained. “There has to be some unique twist that can highlight what makes you different. That’s the story that publicists use to help them get traction to promote the artist.”

The artist
Artists pursue publicists who will partner with them. Walker stated, “They want to know their music is safe in the hands of their publicist because representing someone’s artistic expression is far different from representing software. There is a deep emotional connection for the artist and for their fans. Trust is essential.”

Photo via MusicRow

Noah Schnacky, a singer/songwriter from Orlando, Florida, just signed to Big Machine Records. His hit single “Maybe We Will” is sitting on the highest position for country music on Spotify.

In his search to find the perfect publicist, Noah Schnacky desires a professional who specializes in his specific markets and understands the ever-changing digital landscape. He struggles “to find publicists who understand your vision and how you’d like to portray that to your audience like you would yourself.” He added, “Any time I’ve tried outsourcing a task or content it’s always felt like the people were trying to put what we were doing into a formula.”

As a millennial pop-country artist, Schnacky is uber-active on all social media platforms and hopes to break into the world of subscription-based media. He mentioned that Netflix is a powerful tool for content, and he would “rather have connections to a show on that platform than a morning show opportunity, even if it’s untraditional to our current standards.”

In today’s evolving digital landscape, the publicist, manager and artist must establish and prioritize a harmonious relationship to propel an artist to the top of the charts in the music industry.

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“Coffee?” — Perfecting the Art of Informational Interviews https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/19/coffee-perfecting-the-art-of-informational-interviews/ Fri, 19 Apr 2019 15:36:59 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19323 Published on April 19, 2019, at 10:37 a.m. by Olivia Lake. In public relations we constantly hear the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This can seem daunting for those who haven’t perfected the art of networking. However, one of the simplest networking approaches is an informational interview. The Career Center [...]

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Published on April 19, 2019, at 10:37 a.m.
by Olivia Lake.

In public relations we constantly hear the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This can seem daunting for those who haven’t perfected the art of networking. However, one of the simplest networking approaches is an informational interview.

The Career Center at the University of California, Berkeley describes an informational interview as “an informal conversation you can have with someone working in an area of interest to you. … It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings.”

Leading a conversation with a professional can be a bit nerve-wracking. But, if you follow the steps below, you’ll be prepared to direct the conversation and leave the interviewee wowed.

Before
An informational interview is not a job interview; rather, it’s an opportunity for you to learn more about a career, a region or a company. Beforehand, research whichever facet you want to explore.

While researching, create a running list of people you can contact. If you know where you want to go, but you’re struggling with whom to contact, head to your professors! They can connect you with alumni, who in turn can connect you to their network.

Consider what you want to gather from the conversation, then prepare a list of questions to bring. If you’re interested in their position, you can ask things like, “What does a typical day look like for you?” or “What has been your favorite campaign you’ve worked on?”

Photo via Unsplash

When setting up the interview, emails are commonly favored, but there is nothing wrong with a phone call. Be kind in your inquiry, and remember they are busy, so you may not get a response right away.

During
A coffee shop is the perfect setting for an informational interview — you can keep the meeting to no more than 30 minutes, and it is feasible on a college budget. Picking up the tab will leave a positive impression on the professional.

In a recent Lunch & Learn focusing on networking and informational interviews, Dr. Laura Lemon, an assistant professor at The University of Alabama, advised students on what to wear. She suggested wearing business casual due to the informality of the meeting.

The questions you prepared beforehand should be printed out or written in a notebook. It is OK to take shorthand notes, as long as your note taking isn’t distracting, according to Dr. Lemon.

Wear a watch to avoid using your phone for the time. According to The Muse, staying cognizant of time and letting the interviewee know when you have 10 minutes left gives them “the opportunity to either extend the interview, or transition to a graceful conclusion.”

After
This section can be summed up in three words: Thank. You. Note.

Photo via Unsplash

Don’t underestimate the impact of a simple handwritten note. On top of your preparedness for the meeting and a thank-you email, the note will earn you a positive, professional reputation.

If you follow this process, not only will you walk away with a wealth of knowledge, but when it’s time to apply for jobs, you will also have a strong network to reference.

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Convergence: Same Difference https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/17/convergence-same-difference/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 17:20:04 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19233 Published on April 17, 2019, at 12:20 p.m. by Whitney Blalock. As roles continue to converge in the public relations and marketing industries, many things stay the same. The convergence of the public relations and marketing industries is not a new subject; however, new ideas and insights have continued to spark the discussion. As the [...]

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Published on April 17, 2019, at 12:20 p.m.
by Whitney Blalock.

As roles continue to converge in the public relations and marketing industries, many things stay the same.

The convergence of the public relations and marketing industries is not a new subject; however, new ideas and insights have continued to spark the discussion. As the discussion progresses, it seems many things still remain the same in a world of converging roles.

Photo via Unsplash

Leslie Gaines-Ross (link 3), chief reputation strategist for Weber Shandwick, said she began seeing C-Suite titles change as long as six years ago, marking the beginning of the convergent change we see today. For example, chief marketing officers became chief communications and marketing officers, combining two “silos,” if you will. As CEOs and other leaders saw the benefit of combining communication departments, the trend rapidly caught on.

Keith Burton, principal and founder of Grayson Emmett Partners (link 1), shared in-depth knowledge pertaining to both student and professional opinions on the convergent model. His “Seven Truths” (link 2) of convergence address patterns and trends affecting the converging industries. Being just average is officially unacceptable, traditional agency and corporate models are broken, the speed of disruption has drastically changed, and data at the center of everything the industry does are just a few of Burton’s “truths.”

So many changes. First, just graduating with a degree and an internship does not cut it anymore. Employers want the best, the go-getters, the above-and-beyond applicants. Leadership roles, involvement and experiences beyond the classroom setting are more important than ever.

Second, typical agency and corporate models are broken. One can’t expect to work just in the media relations department anymore; silos have been busted to create collaboration across departments.

Next, the speed at which work must be turned around or responded to has increased tremendously. Practitioners are no longer working 9-5 jobs; they are expected to rise at the crack of dawn for a video chat with partners in Hong Kong.

Also, as practitioners, we have to be able to back all of our claims by data. With convergent models, communications practitioners often answer to the CFO or CEO directly and responding with actionable results to validate campaigns or plans builds credibility.

Burton’s “Seven Truths” might emanate the usual feelings of panic and uncertainty that arise during times of change, but more things may continue to stay the same as others shift. It’s important to realize that although job roles and descriptions are altering, many things remain steadfast.

Photo via Unsplash

This convergent model may lead people to believe that being specialized or distinct is the way to separate you from a combined communications workforce, but Burton argues being a generalist may benefit you in a world of convergence. “I’d say that the pendulum has really swung back from specialization into more generalization over the past few years, and we really have some [practitioners] that are just skilled in some specific things,” said Burton. Clients and companies require more bandwidth, calling on practitioners to have a general understanding of the PR and marketing world, no matter what their special interests may be.

Whether you are working in a traditional PR or marketing role, or within an agency or company actively using the convergent model, a few skills remain eternally necessary.

Writing
Both Gaines-Ross and Burton agreed writing is at the top of the necessary skills list. “If you cannot write, you cannot work in the business,” said Burton, with or without convergence. From using gathered research and data to draft reports to creating client materials to writing meeting minutes, being able to clearly articulate thoughts and ideas is vital. “You could be so smart, but if you just can’t communicate it correctly, it won’t work,” said Gaines-Ross.

Willingness to fail
Burton also argues that the “willingness to fail” is a skill all employers should search for. Especially in an age of uncertain roles with convergence, being able to fail and learn from your mistakes is crucial. Many address the “blurred line” when dealing with convergence, and often this “blurred line” leads to unclear expectations on who does what and how it gets done. Being able to know when you’ve failed and turn around to correct that mistake and learn from it is a sign of a valuable team member during the beginning convergent phases.

Good judgment
Along the lines of virtues, Gaines-Ross said any student or practitioner needs good judgment. Whether you were working in the industry two decades ago or just got hired out of college, good judgment and decision making are fundamental. Gaines-Ross said you need to be able to “align messaging with the times,” whether you are a PR practitioner or more marketing-based.

Photo via Unsplash

As the shift to convergence continues, the extent varies. Burton weights heavier on the notion that the convergent model will dominate agencies and companies. He believes “convergence is the new ROI,” and many companies and agencies will make the decision to converge based on economic and functional gain. Gaines-Ross, on the other hand, believes convergence may be a trend that affects only 30 percent of companies or agencies. “I think it will depend more on a case by case, company by company basis,” said Gaines-Ross.

Regardless of how many agencies or companies the convergent model reaches, convergence is still a thing. While it is important to be aware of the changes this convergent model is calling to action, it is equally as vital to keep your eternal skills like writing, the willingness to fail and good judgment sharp.

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Landing Your Internship https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/13/landing-your-internship/ Sat, 13 Apr 2019 22:21:42 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19190 Published on April 13, 2019, at 5:25 p.m. by Julia Landon. According to a study done by the Chronicle of Higher Education, when media/communications employers were asked to rank the most important attributes when they evaluate graduates for hire, internships were at the top of the list. Students hear almost every day about the importance [...]

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Published on April 13, 2019, at 5:25 p.m.
by Julia Landon.

According to a study done by the Chronicle of Higher Education, when media/communications employers were asked to rank the most important attributes when they evaluate graduates for hire, internships were at the top of the list. Students hear almost every day about the importance of internships, but sometimes the concept can be very overwhelming. This year’s internship season may be almost over, but here are some tips to get ahead of the game for the next application cycle, whether that be for a fall, spring or summer internship.

Do your research

Photo via Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Many people want to be in a specific city but don’t really know what company they want to work for. When starting the search, simply Google “PR agencies in [enter city here].” This will give you a list of most, if not all, of the potential opportunities available in the city. Another option you have is to go to O’Dwyer’s and use its “Find a PR Firm” search engine.

Once you narrow down the names of potential companies, start looking at websites. Note what you like, don’t like, interesting case studies, etc. All of this information, even informally stored in the back of your mind, will make your search so much easier.

Narrow your options (even further)
The initial research, even when narrowed down, can leave you with an overwhelming amount of options, depending on your preferred location. This is when you start perusing companies’ internship/employment pages and LinkedIn profiles. Look to see what current employees and interns are doing.

Sometimes companies don’t have internship opportunities posted, but don’t let this deter you! Find a way to contact them, whether it be an email dedicated to hiring full-time positions or a contact form. Send a brief version of your cover letter describing your interest and offer to send your résumé, as well.

Photo via William Iven on Unsplash

Keep track
Throughout your internship hunting process, it is absolutely crucial that you keep track of your progress. Create a spreadsheet with names of the positions, contact information (great for when you’re sending thank-you notes!), required materials for submission, deadlines, notes and updates on your status. This system will ensure you have your application properly submitted before a company’s internship application deadline.

Getting an internship in the PR field is stressful, but at the end of the day, the payoff is worth it tenfold. You will leave your internship with connections that can last a lifetime and help you find your first (or second, or third) post-grad job.

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The Skills You Need to be Great at Pitching (That You Probably Already Have) https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/13/the-skills-you-need-to-be-great-at-pitching-that-you-probably-already-have/ Sat, 13 Apr 2019 22:04:28 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19263 Published on April 13, 2019, at 5:05 p.m. by Emma Bannen. At some point in your public relations career, you’ll need to be able to pitch to the media. PR professionals responsibility is to secure media placements on behalf of their clients. The key is a strong pitch. Some aspiring PR professionals never gain pitching [...]

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Published on April 13, 2019, at 5:05 p.m.
by Emma Bannen.

At some point in your public relations career, you’ll need to be able to pitch to the media. PR professionals responsibility is to secure media placements on behalf of their clients. The key is a strong pitch.

Some aspiring PR professionals never gain pitching experience before beginning their career. How can you learn to skillfully pitch if you do not have a client to pitch for? Many skills common to budding PR professionals seamlessly translate to pitching stories to the media.

Photo via Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

Writing
Perhaps the most obviously necessary skill to successful pitching is writing. The most common method of disseminating a pitch to the media is email. To catch a reporter’s eye, a PR practitioner must write clearly, concisely and without error.

The quicker a pitch grabs a reporter’s attention, the more likely it is to earn a placement. Bri Roselius, media director at Capstone Agency, said, “Being able to have fun with your writing and being confident in your writing skills translate to being able to pitch.”

Since pitches are meant to communicate a message in as few words as possible, it is crucial these few words be particularly compelling. Getting your point across quickly is arguably the most important skill for pitching.

“People don’t want to read a long email, they want to read four sentences that tell them exactly what they need to know,” added Capstone Agency Media Director Nora Wahlbrink.

A good pitch must also be utterly error-free. Mistakes in your writing will cause you to lose credibility in the eyes of journalists. To improve your media pitching, Wahlbrink said, hone your AP style and grammar skills by writing as much as possible and seeking out feedback on your work.

Megan Perkins, a media relations specialist at Walker Sands Communications, emphasized the importance of “being a real person and putting your own personality” into writing pitches. Reporters respond better to personalized pitches, rather than those that could have easily been written to anyone.

Research
In all functions of PR, you need to know your audience and know your client. This is no different from pitching. In order to write a personalized pitch (as mentioned above), you must be familiar with the reporter to whom you are pitching.

Ashby Brown, assistant media director at Capstone Agency, said that the big things to know about a reporter are who they are and what they do, including topics they’ve covered in the past.

Many areas of life require research on various topics. It’s more than likely that you’ve carried out research for essays or projects in class before.

These same skills come into play for pitching. Seeking out reporters, learning about them and what they write about, and examining how a story fits that reporter’s niche are steps of the pitching process that call for research.

Photo via Austin Distel on Unsplash

Wahlbrink said that skills like “knowing where to look for information and knowing how to find out what reporters you want to target” are great places to start when researching for a pitch.

A significant part of research is timing. As Perkins said, “Pay attention to your calendar and what a certain reporter might be doing at a certain time. Think about the reporter — when and how they want to receive something.”

Persistence
One of the biggest lessons Brown has learned about pitching is that it doesn’t always work out. The majority of pitches will likely be turned down, and PR practitioners should not quit pitching after a rejection.

While you should not badger a specific reporter after they decline to write about an idea you pitched, persistence is key to receiving a response.

The continuing development of social media gives PR professionals another opportunity to pitch to reporters. Perkins said that if she cannot find the email for a reporter, she might direct message or tweet at them, mentioning the story idea and providing contact information for further discussion.

With this strategy, you must determine that the reporter you target on social media is a near perfect fit for your story idea, said Perkins. If not, the reporter may be annoyed you are contacting them with an irrelevant idea.

Roselius noted that pitching is about taking initiative. In order to be recognized by reporters, PR practitioners must be willing to step out of their comfort zones. Attempting to persuade a reporter is not always easy, but persistence can often elicit a response.

Confidence
The goal of any media pitch is to earn media coverage. This begins with confidence. Without confidence in your abilities and your message, your pitch will likely fall flat with a reporter.

Your pitch must show a reporter why they should care about the topic. “If the reporter doesn’t care, nobody’s going to care,” said Brown.

The best way to increase confidence in your pitching skills is to practice. Both Brown and Perkins suggested practicing by writing pitches about anything you might think is newsworthy, even if you will not actually send them out.

Photo via Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Confidence in pitching can also come from other areas, such as public speaking. For Wahlbrink, being able to speak effectively in different contexts contributes to developing strong pitching skills.

If you put yourself out there, your confidence in your pitching ability will grow. Roselius reiterated that you will only grow as a writer if you push yourself to do so.

Many of the skills that you are already developing are essential for writing strong media pitches. Further honing your writing and research skills and cultivating persistence and confidence will translate effortlessly to developing your pitching ability.

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Extreme PR: Flexibility and Expertise https://platformmagazine.org/2019/04/13/extreme-pr-flexibility-and-expertise/ Sat, 13 Apr 2019 21:38:35 +0000 https://platformmagazine.org/?p=19295 Published on April 13, 2019, at 4:35 p.m. by Mickey Kennedy. A nimble pan-American public relations firm with soccer-focused branding power from around the world. That is exactly what Extreme PR brings to the table as a unique sports agency built in Mexico City, Mexico. Strengths Extreme has clients across several sports entities but within [...]

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Published on April 13, 2019, at 4:35 p.m.
by Mickey Kennedy.

A nimble pan-American public relations firm with soccer-focused branding power from around the world. That is exactly what Extreme PR brings to the table as a unique sports agency built in Mexico City, Mexico.

Photo via Extreme PR

Strengths
Extreme has clients across several sports entities but within the last few years has built its identity around supporting European soccer in the Americas. Xavier Perrin, the digital marketing director, said, “We try to help brands, clubs and leagues expand outside of Europe and, in particular, in the Americas. We do a lot of the marketing strategy and run content with their website and social media.”

The smaller agency size affects the way Extreme operates. “The strength of the agency is that it is very lean,” said Perrin. “We can rise to a lot of challenges with expertise … by looking at the brief from the client and then putting together the best team to manage it. The model is small and applies very well to us as we are a team of experts and can really make it work for clients.”

The agency sets itself apart from standard agencies as it boasts its expertise on soccer, both international and abroad, which it claims is its main focus. Leonard Santiago, a director at Extreme, said that “sets [Extreme] apart from your traditional PR agencies and even your sports agencies that may just dabble in soccer.” Santiago went on to say, “We are soccer people. We live, we breathe, we eat, we sleep soccer. We know the game inside and out. We know the international game, the domestic game and the connections between the two as well as the differences.”

The diverse expertise brought in from Santiago plays into Extreme’s ability to adopt large clients and plays into how the agency is run, says Perrin. “I think that one of the strengths of this agency is that we have senior people from different origins and backgrounds, but all are experts at what they do. What we do in the agency is to apply what we have learned before and try to learn from new clients as well,” Perrin explained.

Relationships
Upon forming the agency, Miriam Ortiz kept her strong relationship with Red Bull and brought it in as a client, which included its Air Race, Stratos and Cliff Diving events, to Extreme PR.

The agency itself was built upon these strong relationships. Santiago said, “A lot of it is relationships. A lot of the clients we have people within the agency have worked with personally.” Santiago noted that the agency’s unique expertise “really makes us an ideal partner for clubs who are looking to align themselves with someone who knows the landscape, the reporters directly and someone who knows the best way to tell that story.”

Photo via Red Bull

Perrin also brought a client to the table upon joining Extreme. “I was extremely happy with Chelsea football club and was able to do a lot of things with them. I managed to bring in Chelsea as a client [for Extreme PR] when I moved to Mexico, and we are doing communications for them in Spanish,” he said.

Nimbleness
The ability for these individuals to leave a large, world-renowned brand and join a smaller one while still maintaining a professional relationship shows that despite its size Extreme PR brings to the table the same thing big firms do. As Santiago said, “By offering a full suite of PR, community management, and digital marketing expertise, we are positioned to really be great for some of these businesses looking to grow in the U.S. soccer market.”

Santiago emphasized that the size plays to the agency’s advantage. “We aren’t a big global agency with 10,000 employees; we are a nimble firm that wears a lot of hats, but has a ton of flexibility with a proven track record of working with some big clients around the world.”

Distance
Santiago joined the agency officially within the last year to be a direct liaison for the global game in the United States. Before joining Extreme, Santiago represented soccer domestically across several different facets. “I have worked with clubs in the U.S. second division within USL and even when USL was considered the third division. So I know the U.S. soccer landscape all the way up as well to the US Soccer Federation and CONCACAF,” he explained.

Photo via Unsplash

Santiago still lives in Orlando and represents the agency here when the company has its headquarters in Mexico City. Santiago thinks that the distance still works out perfectly for the agency. As he noted, “We work in lockstep. We are in communication pretty much every day whether it is through WhatsApp, which is our mode of choice for communication, or phone calls. We [Ortiz and Perrin] do get together for meetings from time to time. They were here in Orlando in January and together in Miami in November and together for a client bid in New York City just last week.”

The flexibility of a smaller agency allows Extreme PR staff to work together and learn quickly to adapt to new challenges, a variety of which they face through a diverse client base. Extreme PR is a rising tide in sports PR agencies and can show its strength in its ability to be nimble while building expertise in the soccer world both internationally and domestically.

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