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Cross-posted to the blog of UO PRSSA

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The secret to a standout resume is to measure your results, and you’ll need to plan ahead to do this. Here are the steps to follow:

1.    Identify the ultimate goal of your efforts. Why are you about to engage in this public relations endeavor? What is the purpose?

2.    Set objectives. Your objectives are how you measure whether you’ve achieved your goal, so each objective must be measurable. To set objectives, you’ll want to find out what your past performance was. You want to do better than last time, but you don’t want to set objectives that are tough to reach. Make sure to set your objectives with your manager.

Ideally, you’ll have access to the organization’s prior performance, so you can report the difference you have made (e.g., increased museum memberships by 5 percent).

If you cannot get information about the organization’s prior performance, you can at least report on your resume whether you met your objectives, and you can potentially report that you exceeded your objectives by a particular percentage (e.g., exceeded attendance objective by 20 percent).

If you will manage your organization’s social media, make sure to use tools to measure your organization’s performance before you take the helm. You can find these tools through an Internet search for “[name of tool] measurement.”

Some of my favorite measurement tools are Edelman’s TweetLevel and BlogLevelStatigram, and PinPuff. There are plenty of other good tools, as well. Facebook has built-in metrics you can use through Facebook Insights, which you can access as soon as you’re an account administrator. Make sure to record the “before” scores, so you can measure the percentage of improvement at the end of your internship. You might also take some screenshots of the before and after measurements, which would be good visual illustrations for the professional portfolio you’ll prepare during J454.

Another important online tool is bitly, which you can use to measure the number of times people have clicked on a link you share.

3.    Measure your results. To figure out the percentage change between your performance and the prior performance, follow this simple formula:

A. Subtraction: Your performance – prior performance = X
B. Division: X divided by the prior performance

Then move your decimal to the right by two numbers, and you have your percentage change.

If you’re interested in reading more about measurement, subscribe to Katie Paine’s blogcheck out one of her books from the library, or do both. Best wishes with your summer internship!

Photo Credit: MarcelGermain via Compfight cc

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Some online tactics do not print well, so printing screenshots can be ideal for portfolios. Here are some tools to consider:

Option one: Use “Firefox Abduction!” version 3.0.4 plug-in.

  • Download plug-in here.
  • Using Firefox as your browser, go to “file” and “save as image.”
  • Draw a square around your image or double click for the entire screen.
  • Save what you have selected in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • Open your saved document and print.

Option two: Press “function” and “print screen” (PC users only).

Option three: Use the “grab” application (Macintosh users only).

  • Select the “grab” application.
  • Select “capture” from your menu.
  • Scroll down to “selection.”
  • Draw a box around what you want to print.
  • Save the image.
  • Open your saved document and print.

I usually use the grab application, but I use the Firefox tool when I need to scroll down for a long screen shot. Feel free to share your screenshot tips here.

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One of my former students is in her mid-20s and works as a senior account executive for an agency. She asked me whether to use a second page for her resume and whether to omit her college internships. I turned to Chad Tragakis, a trusted colleague, who is a senior vice president in the Washington, D.C., office of Hill & Knowlton:

“An SAE should limit his or her resume to one page. I would not expect PR professionals to need or warrant a two-page resume until they have been working for 20+ years (e.g., VPs/SVPs with lots of clients/projects to list, at multiple agencies/employers) or unless they have very deep academic or technical expertise that cannot be conveyed on one page (e.g., someone in tech or healthcare PR who needs to list special software or credentials). If she is pushing toward two pages, she is likely going into too much detail in her bullets. She needs to keep them tight, focused and impact oriented.

People are so overloaded; they just won’t read beyond the first page — and even then, they are likely to skim… so it’s important that the resume be formatted with this in mind (e.g., clear, bold headers, bullets, short tight sentences, etc.).

If there is lots of good stuff to tell, she should work some of it into her cover letter or e-mail (for example, a major project she managed, a great client outcome, etc.); just make sure she doesn’t also include these examples in the resume as well.

She shouldn’t arbitrarily take off college internships or experience. It all depends on how relevant they are to what she is aiming for. What may be in order is for her to condense multiple college year experiences/internships into a single line or bullet, somewhere toward the bottom of her experience section — maybe in a section called “Other Experience.” This is actually what I have done on my resume so that I capture what I did, but don’t go into a lot of detail on any one listing. This way, you can introduce and raise these points during the interview.”

Many thanks to Chad Tragakis at Hill & Knowlton for sharing his expertise!

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A Window Into Nonprofit PR Work

WindyBy Windy Hovey
A couple of months ago, Tiffany invited me to post on her blog about my professional public relations work with a local nonprofit organization (WREN). I realized how excited I am to meet college students who are eager to dedicate their energy and talents to social change. You see, that was me five years ago. Fresh out of my undergraduate studies, I found that the inquisitive nature, strong writing skills, and ability to work under deadlines that had led me to a bachelor’s degree in journalism were of great benefit to a small, ambitious nonprofit in Idaho. I was immediately addicted to this line of work and since then my life has intertwined with this sector.

Kelli Matthews noted on her PRos in Training blog that local nonprofit organizations are a superb place for public relations students to get real-world experience. From the standpoint of both a former student and a current nonprofit professional, I would like to further explain why this is true.

It’s All About Relationships
So what does public relations look like in the nonprofit world? There is a tremendous range of publics with whom we build relationships, including (but by no means limited to) clients who receive an organization’s services, business owners that might sponsor special events, media professionals, volunteers, and donors. The last two publics I listed are unique and essential to nonprofit organizations. How lucky are nonprofit staff to get to relate every day with individuals who demonstrate the most inspiring personal qualities you could ask for in people: philanthropy (means love of the human race) and voluntarism? When it comes to donors and volunteers, our primary focus is not on the checks they may write or the hours they may commit. It’s about – you guessed it – cultivating long-term relationships with people.

Making an ask of someone is merely one part of a continuous cycle that includes raising awareness, gaining feedback, addressing concerns, involving supporters in programs, and recognizing support. One key principle often repeated among development professionals is “people give to people, not good causes.”

Potential Public Relations Projects
Below, I depict some examples of projects that a public relations practitioner or student intern might undertake.

  • Calling members and donors after an organization’s fundraising event they attended to thank them for their donation: Ask them how they think the organization is doing or if they have any ideas for future events.
  • Giving presentations about an organization to local associations and businesses.
  • Developing a public relations campaign for an upcoming special event
  • Completing an assessment with an organization’s board, staff, volunteers, and major donors. Overall, are they in agreement with the direction and mission of the organization?
  • Reviewing an organization’s key messages and developing a media campaign around those messages.
  • Building an organization’s online visibility: Discuss with organization leaders whether launching a blog or social networking site would align their goals. If so, create and implement a social media plan and set them up with the knowledge and programs to track traffic on their online sites.
  • Launching or revitalizing an organization’s newsletter: Are there ways the organization can freshen up its publications, save money, or more directly reach target audiences?
  • Compiling testimonials, photos, and narratives: Take a month to attend an organization’s programs and events, take photos, and interview participants, volunteers, and donors. Put this together into a document that an organization can use for everything from grants to donor packets to presentations.

These are just a few ideas to get the brain buzzing. Please do remember that nonprofit organizations are limited on time and resources. When working with them, use their time efficiently, and under-promise and over-deliver.

Closing Thoughts
Members of the Millennial Generation are said to be more engaged in civic action than previous generations. This is fantastic news for nonprofits and the communities they serve. The personal satisfaction of working to save the world one day at a time is immeasurable. To top it off, you receive the privilege of working with others who wake up each morning driven to make this world a better place. I encourage you to share your knowledge and skills with the challenging-but-rewarding, sometimes chaotic-yet-highly gratifying nonprofit world.

Windy Hovey graduated in September 2008 with a master’s degree in communication and society and a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Oregon. She has five years professional experience working with nonprofits in public relations and fundraising. Currently, she is working as the resource development specialist for the Willamette Resources & Educational Network in Eugene. She is seeking a position in development for a nonprofit organization or consulting agency in the Portland and Seattle areas.

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One of my graduates asked if I would write a blog post about getting an entry-level job in a tight market. I corresponded with Jodi Moore from Waggener Edstrom to find out what she looks for in new hires. The advice below is from Jodi Moore and Heather Flynn, who are both senior staffing partners in the Portland office of Waggener Edstrom.

Most companies consider people their greatest asset. A high premium is placed on those who embrace and encourage curiosity. The most important thing you can convey to an interviewer is why you are interested in their company and their open opportunity. You need to express the value you bring and the value you will add. Ask yourself, what is my unique ability? Am I passionate about this business and this company? Am I conveying that passion in this interview?

Recruiters and HR professionals know that recent college graduates have limited work experience. Regardless, employers want to hire people who are passionate and have initiative. At Waggener Edstrom we value curiosity. We embrace and encourage curiosity at all levels of our organization. So how do you show passion and initiative in a job interview?

1. Do your research. Know the company, the interviewer and the practice area. The Internet will probably have information on all of this.

2. Be prepared. Dress appropriately, bring copies of your resume, work samples or portfolio, arrive just a few minutes early, and bring paper to take notes.

3. Know your strengths and your value. Think through your experiences: What was the business problem, how did you solve it, and what was the positive outcome?

4. Have appropriate questions. You need to ask questions; it shows you thought about the meeting beforehand.

5. Closing. Make sure you ask what the next steps are in the process and communicate your interest in the job.

6. Follow up. A handwritten note is preferred, but e-mail is still good.

Update: If you’re a member of PR Open Mic (free to join), you can read this interview with Fleishman-Hillard recruiter Brian Batchelder.

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