So Your Internship was Canceled: 5 Steps to Still Make Your Summer a Success

Though summer is usually a time of smiles and sunshine, this year it marks a bittersweet start to a long and empty season for many students.

As of May, Glassdoor reported a 52 percent drop in internships after the coronavirus caused citizens to stay home and non-essential businesses to close up shop. And while the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that 29 percent of internships did manage to move online, the rest have either been postponed or dissolved.

If you’re facing the latter, don’t despair. There are plenty of actionable steps you can still take to advance your career this summer. In fact, we’ve outlined five below that you can start today.

1. Go Remote

Virtual internships have been around since webcams started appearing in laptops, and they’ve only grown in popularity as 4K smartphone cameras emerged with free video-sharing apps. To find one yourself, try searching for “virtual internship” (or “remote internship”) on popular job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn.

Of course, there are also internship websites that only post remote opportunities such as Virtual Internships, or more general internship listing sites that have a remote section like Internships.com.

2. Volunteer

So maybe you couldn’t score a remote internship, or simply know from your own experience with online classes that a virtual setting is just something you do not want to sign up for. If you’re committed to an in-person experience, we have some good news. Most states are beginning to reopen, and while some vital COVID-19 safety measures are still in effect (cloth masks, six feet social distancing), this could be your chance to volunteer on-site for the summer.

Volunteer recruiting websites like Just Serve and Volunteer Match have a number of opportunities that ask for help with everything from office tasks to gardening needs. This could be your chance to not only get some hands-on experience that aligns with your major, but also meet some community contacts who’d be happy to write a strong reference letter for you next year.

3. Start a New Project

If a remote internship or volunteer match doesn’t sound ideal, why not get started on a new project for your portfolio? A completed project would make a good conversation piece for a future internship (and job) interview, especially as coronavirus-related questions are expected to pop up for the foreseeable future. What could be better for sharing your initiative than a creative summer project you researched, crafted and published from start to finish during the pandemic?

If a project makes sense for you, start by identifying what would benefit you most if added to the old portfolio. Are you missing a particular skill set that a project could help you work on and show off? Is there a class you just finished that had an assignment you’d like to build out more? Whatever you create, make sure you put the finished project in your portfolio so future employers can find it easily.

4. Update Your Resume

Depending on when you last interviewed, your once-polished resume may be a few months out of date. Take another look and consider adding any new skills or experience you’ve gained since. Courses you may have recently completed in your last semester could also be worth mentioning, especially if you can tack a project onto it (that should link to your portfolio, too).

As you update your resume, it may be worth reviewing some basic formatting tips. Indeed has some great tips and examples for college resumes, and Resume Coach even has a free Resume Template.

5. Join a Membership Organization

Lastly, if you do nothing else this summer, join an organization related to your major. We specify membership organizations because they typically offer major resources exclusive to members. Typical memberships come with access to job boards, newsletters with industry news, structured online learning and a membership directory. For students, it’s the ultimate motherload of industry know-how and contact information for networking.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a PR/Comms major, and we can’t recommend the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) enough. It has more than 300 chapters throughout the U.S., so it’s likely there’s a local chapter for you to join and rub elbows with the industry leaders in your community. Plus, you’ll get access to the PRSSA Internship Center and the PRSA Job Center.

And there you have it, five things you can do to still make your summer a success.

Found something even better? Share in the comments below!

What Seasoned PR Professionals Want You To Know When Starting Your PR Career

We are faced with a multitude of choices in our career journeys. If you’re anything like me, you were relieved and excited when the pieces fell into place and you decided what your dream career would be. But that relief was short-lived when you graduated college and realized that getting a first job that’s related to your career goals is not as easy as you thought it would be.

Things seem so simple when you are inside the structured environment of your university, but once you leave that, you must figure out the answer to the dreaded question: “What’s next?” Trying to break into a career on your own is intimidating, and it’s difficult to know what steps you need to be taking to make progress. But the good news is, there are plenty of things that you can be doing now to make yourself a valuable candidate for your dream job in public relations.

I interviewed 5 seasoned PR professionals who are members of PRSA’s College of Fellows to see what their advice is to those of us who are just starting our PR career journey. They provided wonderful insights that were so helpful and encouraging.

Here are the 6 tips to be successful at the start of your PR career:

1. Be Curious

The most common theme that came up in the interviews was the idea that you must be curious to be successful in the public relations industry. The concept of curiosity comes into play with public relations for several reasons. PR is a job that requires the ability to be dynamic and flexible in your approach. According to the seasoned professionals I interviewed, one important aspect of this is being a life-long
learner.

Katrina Schwarz, APR, Fellow PRSA explained, “You must be willing to put yourself out there and learn, even if it means putting in extra time and effort to get done what needs to get done.”

Dr. Joe Trahan, APR, Fellow PRSA said, “You must have a drive to be the very best, be open to challenges and to take on responsibilities, even if they are not in your specific area.”

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA articulated how important it is to continue your development. She explained, “Your development doesn’t have to necessarily mean getting another degree. It could also be placing a value on growing your skillset. Show an interest in bettering yourself, and you show a willingness to learn.”

Gerry Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA said, “Have big ears, listen well! This is the key to building knowledge and ability.”

2. Read

A recurring piece of advice from the pros was to be an active reader. I thought this was especially interesting because it’s not something that is commonly associated with professional development, but hearing the interviewees discuss it made me think that it should be! Reading does wonders for training up your mind and keeping you sharp.

Gerry explained, “The more you read, the better you write. Reading trains your brain to be able to write well, simply and quickly; and being able to write is your first key to success in your first PR job.” We all know how crucial it is to be an excellent writer if you want to be successful in public relations, and reading is an amazing way to maintain and grow your creativity and writing abilities.

In addition to this benefit, reading also provides valuable insight that you can use to stay up to date in your industry. Gerry said, “Think about what industry you want to work in and read as much as you can about that. Become a jack of all trades based on what your interests are. Explore blogs on what you want to do, and search PR blogs made by people who are doing what you want to be doing.”

3. Be a Self-Starter

The advice to be a self-starter seems to be everywhere, but what does it mean? A self-starter, according to the pros I interviewed, is all about taking initiative and finding creative ways to find solutions.

Have you been told that you don’t have enough experience to get that job you applied for? Don’t let frustration get the best of you. Be creative and find a way to get that experience. Dr. Joe advised that students can gain experience by reaching out to nonprofits. You can volunteer to write for them and end up with some stellar writing samples and valuable experience to talk about in your next interview.

Are you unhappy with your current job? Make the most out of what you have. Dianne said, “Remember that you may not love your first job, and that’s okay. Your first job is what you make it. If it’s not the perfect job, do what you can to make it the perfect job for now, and try to stay there for two years. You may have to work in opportunities you don’t love, but you can still be an asset to them and grow in the process.”

Being a self-starter is an attitude that employers can sense from you. When asked what she looks for in job candidates, Dianne said, “I assume they have training in writing/communication. I hire for attitude; you can’t teach that. You must always be curious, always interested in what’s going on beyond the surface level. You must show a company what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.”

4. Love Your Client

Kathy Hubbell said that her first mentor taught her the importance of loving your client. Working in public relations means you are constantly absorbing the values and stories of other people and companies. You must absorb them and resonate with them in order to successfully share their story with their audience in a meaningful way. Therefore, you must be passionate about the stories that you are telling. Otherwise, you will not compel any audience.

Kathy advised that new pros be careful when choosing who to work for. She said, “It is important to choose your company as carefully as they choose you. In PR, we promote a company’s values and ethics. If they don’t match yours, you’ll do a terrible job and you’ll be miserable.”

Dianne explained that she had learned something similar in her job. “When you work to make me look good, and I work to make you look good, it benefits everyone!”

5. Be Active

Every single pro who was interviewed discussed the importance of being active in professional organizations and in networking — especially new pros.

When asked what people can do to prepare themselves for success in getting their first PR job, Kathy noted, “Have broad contacts and make yourself available to other people. You can do this in PRSA by attending webinars, online chats — the more the better! PRSA is a non-competitive organization, which means you can search the directory and find someone to ask for advice. As long as it’s not a conflict of interest, they’ll help.”

When asked if there was something that she wished she’d known when starting her career in PR, Katrina said, “I was a late bloomer in taking advantage of networking groups. Get out there and network as soon as possible. Building relationships is something you should start early on.”

Gerry emphasized his belief that having a board of mentors is crucial to your professional development. He said, “it’s good to have a mentor, but it’s better to have a board of them. Find people who are doing what you want to do, get to know them, strike up a conversation with them. Don’t limit yourself to one person, different people can bring different perspectives.”

6. Know Your Value and Be Able to Communicate It

I think Gerry said it best: “KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.” We’ve heard this phrase in relation to preparation for interviews, and I think it is especially applicable for landing a position in public relations. You must show that you can communicate your value to your employer, because if you can’t market yourself, how would you be able to market the company?

When asked what he looks for in candidates, Gerry said, “I look for someone who can communicate very succinctly on what values they could bring to an employer. This translates to knowing your value so you can communicate it to them. A candidate is memorable when they can do this. Your resume must also communicate your value.” He added that taking the time to create and practice your 30-second elevator speech is a key to communicating your value to an employer.

Breaking into a new career is not always easy, but is definitely possible. The main takeaway that I got from hearing the advice from these seasoned pros is that we have more control over our career than we may think. It is easy to feel like we must follow a set path to success that is built for us by an employer or professor. And while it is true that development through education and your job experiences is highly important, we can’t forget that the most crucial key to success is the attitude we have and the growth we create on our own.

Being an asset to a company is a skill that we must develop within ourselves. Developing yourself professionally and personally takes dedication, motivation, and creativity. Development is the way to make yourself stand out from everyone else, and it is the way to maximize the value you can bring to an employer — and to yourself.

3 Ways Destination-Based Businesses Stay Relevant During the Quarantine

While neighbors and state officials alike ask citizens to “stay home,” destination-based businesses have had no other option than to close their doors. From theme parks to museums, it’s clear the tourism and hospitality industry is taking a hit amid country-wide quarantine closures.

If you happen to work for one, there’s no doubt you and your team have had to get a little creative to remain in the public eye. Here are three of the best things we’ve seen destination-based businesses do to stay relevant.

1. Rouse Your Crowd with Remote Offerings

Just because your doors (or gates, or nature trails) are closed doesn’t mean you can’t reward your fans for being fans. However, the physical items you may be used to handing out as they walk on-site won’t work during a pandemic.

The Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure theme park in Lenwade, England has understood that from the very beginning. Since closing their park in March, Roarr! has offered a slew of virtual offerings, including an online Design a Dinosaur competition, a free downloadable activity book (complete with a handwashing guide) and — something unique to the remote life we’re all suddenly living — Roarr-some video conference backgrounds for your endless Zoom meetings.

While you don’t have to go as above and beyond as Roarr!, you certainly can’t go wrong with sprucing up some HD photos from the last marketing shoot to share as a fun background.

2. Rebound with Virtual Content

Whether you’ve already secured thousands of followers on social or are using the quarantine as an excuse to start a Facebook page, now is your chance to wow with virtual content. But you can’t just post a picture and hope it goes viral. Rather, you have to engage with your audience.

Zoos and aquariums do this incredibly well by focusing on their animals. They understand that the critters are the main attraction and are happy to restrategize their content to keep them in the spotlight. Take the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, for example. They host a weekly Home Safari Facebook Lives event every day at 3 p.m. for fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at their animals. Plus, they share the final video on their feed afterward with a note about donations.

To help get your team on board, host an online meeting and share what you think your audience misses most. Give them examples of what your local competition is up to, and what unique content your own destination can create.

3. Regularly Update Your Fans

Last but not least, keep your audience updated. That could be an email to the list of passholders you’ve been building for years, a social post to the followers you’ve amassed online or even a website pop-up to the people behind the pageviews on your website.

For the Field Museum in Chicago, that means posting a red banner on their website that reads, “For the safety of our community, the Museum is closed until further notice.” It’s even got a hyperlink tacked on the end that leads to a new Updates on Coronavirus webpage outlining their response as a museum (available in both English and Spanish).

Whatever you do, make sure to keep your audience in the loop so they know 1) what you’re doing to keep your destination safe, and 2) when they can expect a reopening. Even if you don’t have a set date, simply posting a note that you have no plans to open within the next month can soothe your more die-hard inquisitors. Plus, putting the information out there for such easy consumption could also grab the attention of a local reporter trying to report on the state of their area.

And there you have it! Three of the best ways destination-based businesses have stayed relevant during the pandemic — even if their destination is closed.

Should You Do a Woke Campaign or Not?

Social media has an undeniable power to communicate, connect and inspire. For brands, social media is also a way to engage with, listen to and understand your audience for more effective campaigns.

Take Nike. One of the most recognizable brands in the world and no stranger to controversial campaigns, now called woke campaigns, that provoke social debates. In 2018, the brand decided to align a major campaign with Colin Kaepernick’s protest on social justice.

While most would find socially- or politically-charged campaigns to be a risky move, Nike had the upper hand – audience insight. Knowing that its target audience tends to be more liberal and socially conscientious, Nike found this campaign to be a risk worth taking.

Even within this very polarized social environment, if you know your target audience, and if you know your message is going to jibe well with your target audience, there is a greater chance that your PR campaign can really help your business.

I have researched Nike’s recent campaign, specifically focusing on how Nike’s target audience behaved on Twitter compared to the general U.S. public based on the six days of big Twitter data when most social conversations took place. While the campaign was not without negative pushback, the overall sentiment from the target audience was more positive than that of their target publics, and successfully positioned their brand at the center of social discussion. In sum, my study suggests that Nike had successfully energized its target audience, and later Nike reported on their increased sales in the initially troubled North America market.

Public relations practitioners should, however, weigh the risks and benefits before launching campaigns, especially those built around social issues.

As long as your target audience is getting the message and they are excited about your campaign, then it could eventually help your business and help your reputation and image.

Source: What does Corporate Social Advocacy (CSA) do for a brand? Twitter Analysis of Nike’s Kaepernick Campaign Case. Lee & Rim (2018).
5555555[1]YoungAh Lee is the director of the public relations graduate program with a diverse educational and professional background. Her research focuses on investigating the impact of strategic communication with an emphasis on reputation management and social media. Her approach to public relations emphasizes the role of reputation, believing that businesses best succeed when they align their communication and business goals. Recently, she has turned her focus to social network analysis to have a more theory-driven understanding of rich social media data while developing media analytics curriculum.

 

 

Ball State University was founded in 1918 and is located in Muncie, Indiana, 55 miles northeast of Indianapolis. At more than 22,500 students, enrollment for the 2017–18 academic year is Ball State’s largest ever. Students come from all Indiana counties, all 50 states and 68 countries. Ball State’s seven academic colleges offer 190 undergraduate majors, 130 undergraduate minors 140 graduate programs and 200 study abroad programs. Ball State students, faculty and staff are empowered in a culture that believes in them and demands they believe in themselves. Three of every four Ball State graduates choose to live, work and play in Indiana. Alumni hold leadership positions in businesses and communities across the state and the nation. Ball State has been named one of the best universities in the Midwest by The Princeton Review for more than a decade.

Subscribe, subscribe, subscribe: Newsletters worth committing to

Video may have killed the radio star, but the increasing number of daily, weekly and bi-weekly newsletters out there are certainly keeping e-mail alive and well. It seems like every outlet and influencer has a new newsletter available every day. On one side, as PR pros, each newsletter can feel like one more thing to keep track of when it comes to your clients and brands. On the other side, it also presents new opportunities to find possible placements, stay keen to what’s being discussed across industries, the markets and society at large.

For example, one of my former clients was in the fast-casual dining space and was relevant across corporate, financial, foodie, mom, fitness and pop culture outlets. It turned out that newsletters were a really great way to read what’s happening with competitors, the industry and general news in one foul swoop. Some were really niche, while others were as common as theSkimm. Throughout this monitoring experience, I also subscribed to several newsletters just for fun, which have come in handy during networking events and helped me in my personal life outside the office.

I don’t necessarily read *every* newsletter thoroughly *every* day, but am able to get a nice variety of content, be it professional or more social. Here are some of my go-tos:

The Business Newsletters

  • The Skimm – the OG morning brief that sounds like your friend is sharing the news
  • The Morning Brew – a newer brief that focuses a little more on in-depth and market news
  • The Broadsheet – Fortune’s women-focused news update
  • Fortune CEO Daily – Fortune’s daily news brief with great perspective from Alan Murray
  • Fortune RaceAhead – Fortune’s diversity-oriented news update (Ellen McGirt’s Friday Haikus are unmatched)
  • WSJ’s CMO Today – Good outlook on industry happenings, especially on the business/corporate side of Advertising, PR and marketing
  • Marketplace – Quick hits of daily market/business headlines (Also accompanies a podcast. Very 2019.)
  • FastCompany’s Daily News – More tech/innovation-focused daily update
  • The Hustle – Like a hipster version of FastCo’s Daily News/theSkimm, with a slightly more obscure set of topics
  • PRSA’s Issues & Trends – A great benefit of PRSA membership, the daily trends shows clips of hot campaigns and topics across the industry

The Miscellaneous-but-Interesting/Productive Newsletters

  • Quartz Obsession – Dives into one topic/product/company a day. My favorites so far have been “Burrito” and “The Post-It”
  • Finimize – Non-intimidating financial news in a quick/easy to understand read
  • SheSpends – Think “Money Diaries” meets your personal finance professor, in a cool template with a relatable approach for young pro women
  • FastCompany’s Work Smart – a weekly guide with quick tips for being more efficient at work
  • Now I Know –  A good way to learn something new every day (and great fodder for small talk)

The “Just For Fun” Newsletters

  • Links I Would Gchat You if We Were Friends – a compilation of good reads from the week that you’d want to read and share
  • The Newsette – Aesthetically pleasing Instagram accounts, daily routines of successful women and some fun fashion items/tips
  • Girls Night In – I look forward to this every Friday. (Seriously.) It shares great reads for 20-somethings, thoughts on self care and “things to put in the group text”
  • NYT’s Smarter Living – This weekly newsletter provides helpful takes on a variety of topics

It’s hard to sift through the amount of content available to us every day and week, but these have added value, whether at the office, for my professional development, or my personal benefit. Consider which outlets would be helpful and beneficial for you, your clients and your team.

Pro tip: I have a rule set in Microsoft Outlook to automatically filter newsletters into a specific folder so my inbox itself is free and I can find/skim the newsletters in one place. If you aren’t using Outlook, you can also use Unroll.me to receive all of your newsletters/subscriptions in one email instead of ~20.

What newsletters are your go-tos? Let us know!

Sarah G. Dougherty is a member of PRSA and PRSA New York. Following a stint on the agency side, she is on the external communications team at a Fortune 100 company. Sarah is a former member of the PRSSA National Committee and a graduate of The University of Alabama. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgdougherty.