prssa

Add Social Media to Your Event Networking Strategy

This post was written by UF PRSSA member Ryan Baum and was originally featured on culpwrit.com.

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PRSSA 2014 National Conference has finally arrived, and many students are brainstorming ways to maximize their weekend in D.C. With an intentional approach to networking, attendees can build valuable relationships that last long beyond the closing ceremony.

Strategic networking can lead to mentorship opportunities, internships, and, in my case, even a guest blog post on Culpwrit.

It is important to practice smart networking during any meetings with potential connections, but, in this day and age, any professional repertoire is incomplete without a social media component.

Social networking can be used to set the scene for in-person meetings and to sustain newly formed relationships once everybody returns home. It’s also a great way for students not at the conference to stay connected and engage with attendees.

The advice in this post can be applied to large gatherings like National Conference or on a smaller scale with professionals that visit your PRSSA chapter. Here are my tips for success:

Brace for Failure  

Before you start reaching out to new contacts, it’s important to prepare yourself for silence.

Most of the time, even when you are doing everything right, you won’t hear anything back from the professionals you reach out to. Try not to take it personally, and keep at it — it will all feel worth it when you finally get a response from a popular speaker or industry leader.

Culpwrit owner Ron Culp, providing perspective from the other side of the aisle, explained that industry-standard long weeks can make it difficult for professionals to interact. “There simply isn’t enough time in the day,” he said, “even for those of us who are inclined to respond to everyone.”

Plan Ahead 

Start by researching the event speakers, and, more importantly, their topics.

Try to find personal connections with your target contacts, like something distinctive you share in common. Bring it up when you talk during the event, and then mention it when you follow up to jog the professional’s memory.

In that vein, narrow down your pool of potential contacts at larger events to focus on a handful of authentic interactions instead of an abundance of shallow small talk.

Attend sessions and workshops prepared with the Twitter handles of the speakers and some background information, which can be gleaned from their Twitter history and a quick Google search. By understanding what each speaker cares about, and why, you can engage in a more meaningful way.

You can also set yourself apart by starting in the days leading up to the event and tweeting to speakers about how excited you are for their presentations. Again, authenticity is key, so utilize your research and include one specific aspect of their topic that you are particularly looking forward to.

Provide Value

Students often have more to gain from professional relationships, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a one-way street. Figure out what you can bring to the table to show that you care about the other person beyond what they can provide you. Use what you learned in your research to determine what needs your new connection has and think about how you can help.

This could be as simple as tweeting an insightful article related to a speaker’s discussion point during her workshop or even recommending a restaurant if a professional travels to an event in your town.

I have personally had success with live-tweeting speakers at the UF PRSSA chapter and creating Storify event recaps afterward. Here is an example I made after Golin CEO Fred Cook spoke to our chapter last month.

This technique works because you are engaging with the speaker (and other attendees), sharing the content with a larger audience and preserving the presentation for posterity — all benefits for the speaker. Also, any engagement will help professionals remember you when you follow up.

Continue the Conversation

Face time at the event is important, but relationships form over time, not through a quick handshake.

As you process National Conference and assess all of your new connections, follow up by requesting to connect on LinkedIn and make sure that you personalize the message. Include something distinctive that you talked about to recall his memories of the conversation. I also like to include one specific idea from the presentation that resonated with me, and how I plan to apply it to my life or professional career. That means a lot more than saying “nice presentation.”

In the case of a multi-day conference, you can also use social media to follow up before you leave the event. My university hosted the first frank gathering last year and one of the speakers was Jenifer Willig, who led the charge on the international (RED) campaign. Adara Ney, 2013–2014 UF PRSSA president, reached out to her on Twitter after her presentation, and they ended up having coffee the next morning before Willig flew home.

In the weeks following the event, continue the conversation by occasionally reaching out and staying on the professionals’ radar. Like and retweet their content that you enjoy and share your own relevant articles and information with them when appropriate. You can also reach out via email for a more personal discussion. Just be careful that you don’t overdo it; it rarely helps to come off as overeager.

No 'Faults' in my Blogging Adventure

By Sarai Cruz Interviewing Nat Wolff, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort at “The Fault In Our Stars” fan event in Miami. Photo: Gustavo Caballero / Stringer

This summer was a summer of hard work but also fun. In June 2013, I joined a friend in creating a blog about the book and movie, “The Fault in Our Stars.” We had a huge passion for the story, along with brewing excitement and nervousness about our favorite book being turned into a movie. Not all book adaption films do justice to the original material. We decided that the best way to deal with the excitement was to follow every single step of the process.

Needless to say, we were successful with more than 1 million views, 100,000 followers on Twitter and 50,000 followers on Tumblr. Filming started August 26, 2013, coincidentally the first day of class. I remember being in class and on Twitter and ready to retweet any tweets or news from set (sorry, professor!).

With this blog I was able to apply skills I learned in my public relations classes. In my head I could hear Ann Christiano, professor of PR strategy and public interest communications, going over engaging with our audience and understanding what they need and want. I also learned a lot of new things that you can only get from actually doing. I learned to use social media as more than a personal tool of socializing, but also as a way to inform and communicate with others who care about the content you put out. I did a lot, and I mean a lot, of writing. I collaborated with a graphic designer in making original graphics for the website. I was interviewed by Yahoo! Movies and the Los Angeles Times to discuss the blog and the passion behind this amazing story.

I attend the red carpet world premiere of "The Fault in Our Stars" in New York City. Photo: Sarai Cruz

This blog was a lot of sweat, a lot of tears, a lot of late nights, but it was a joy. We were fortunate to work with 20th Century Fox and attend events as press. In Miami, I got the chance to talk to John Green, Ansel Elgort, Shailene Woodley and bond with Nat Wolff over the Floridian heat. I was also able to travel to New York for the world red carpet premiere and talk to cast and crew.

It was a once in a lifetime experience, personally and professionally. I look back and I am amazed at what I and the team, who were so passionate about a story, accomplished on our own. I am and will forever be proud of this project. I don’t know what is next for me, but one thing is for sure, I can only go up from here.

First Speaker Series of Fall 2014: Fred Cook

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Fred Cook speaks at UF PRSSAJoin UF PRSSA at our first Speaker Series meeting of the year, featuring Fred Cook, at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, in Turlington L005.

Fred Cook is the CEO of Golin, an award-winning public relations agency with 50 offices around the globe.

Before joining the corporate ranks at the age of 36, he talked his way into a job as a cabin boy on a Norwegian tanker, peddled fake Italian leather goods to unsuspecting tourists, ran a rock-and-roll record company, substitute-taught in Los Angeles’s worst schools and winged it as a novice tour guide.

In his book, Improvise -- Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO, Mr. Cook shares the wisdom he’s accumulated through his unconventional life experiences.

Mr. Cook was recently named one of the 50 most influential people in public relations by PRWeek and has worked with top business leaders such as Apple’s Steve Jobs and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Feel free to invite your friends and join the Facebook event.

All majors are welcome, and food will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there!

Fall Membership Rally

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Fall Membership Rally at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 3! 

UF PRSSA Fall Membership RallyUF PRSSA is gearing up to hit the ground running with our first meeting of the semester. Check out our Facebook event page to RSVP and keep up to date with the location of the rally.  We booked Weimer G037 (in the basement) for the meeting but due to changes in room reservations for Drop/Add Week, the location may change.

We'll be providing an assortment of food to enjoy while you learn about upcoming events, ways to get involved, as well as all of the great things PRSSA has planned for the upcoming semester.

We hope to see you there!

If for some reason you cannot attend but would still like more information, email us at ufprssa@gmail.com.

New Position Opening- Director of External Relations

Want to get more involved in UF PRSSA?

We have an opening available- Apply to become our next Director of External Relations today!

Some responsibilities of the position include:

  • Working with Executive Board to strategize semester recruitment
  • Assisting VP of Chapter Development in reaching out to other organizations on campus and planning class visits for recruitment
  • Strategizing with executive board to determine sources of potential new members
  • Maintaining relationships with campus organizations
  • Communicating and collaborating with College of Journalism and Communications organizations

For the general application, click here.

For the election packet and requirements, click here.

Applicants can email the application materials to Sara Jane Wilder at swilder.prssa@gmail.com

How I survived an unpaid internship           

By Sarai Cruz It is officially summer-internship-searching time and in the communications field, unpaid internships are the norm. They are easier to find compared to paid internships, but don’t let the lack of monetary compensation deter you from learning all that you can from a really great internship. Last summer, I was the intern for The Riviere Agency, a New York and Miami based fashion and beauty integrated marketing agency. The internship was unpaid, but I don’t regret it.

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Image source: http://beauty4abargain.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/experiencing-miamis-swim-week-as-an-intern/

Yes, it was hard to work without getting paid but I survived those eight weeks. First, I saved money beforehand. I knew that finding a summer job while doing an internship was going to be really hard, so thankfully I had saved enough money during the school year to cover expenses. Secondly, I picked an internship in a location that wouldn’t create excessive cost. My internship took place in my hometown of Miami, which meant I didn’t need to worry about housing and transportation.

Most importantly, I understood that monetary compensation isn’t everything. For example, I was able to work during Mercedes Benz Swim Week, which meant lots of swag bags and free samples. Plus, experience and knowledge are more valuable than money. I am so thankful my boss made sure I was able to absorb as much as I could, from writing a media alert to producing a television segment. She understood that I was more than someone she could ask to go to Starbucks and grab her latte.

So as you send in your applications and resumes for those summer internships, remember to do your research and don’t let the paid or unpaid label deter you from it. As the debate whether employers should offer unpaid internship to college students heats up, keep these tips in mind.

 

North Florida PRSA Luncheon Experience

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By Jessica Albert, UF PRSSA Member PRVille

I had the opportunity to “Meet the Media” at a luncheon with the North Florida PRSA chapter in Jacksonville on Wednesday Oct. 16. Our parent chapter invited leading people in the media so practitioners could develop contacts with the people that they could potentially pitch ideas to for their clients.

The event was extremely beneficial to me as a public relations senior because I was able to see how I could connect with local media in my career. I gained valuable insight and was able to network with local professionals who actually practice the skills I’m learning about.

During the session, I heard a number of ways the media likes to receive pitch ideas and how we could effectively send out press releases.  Public relations is such a diverse field that we as future practitioners should prepare to expect almost anything.

After graduating, I would strongly consider joining a chapter of PRSA. The meetings are usually scheduled once a month, and the networking opportunities are truly amazing. Just at the one luncheon I met so many interesting people and talked with fellow Gators. I heard personal experiences and found that my public relations degree can take me anywhere.

Diversity in the Workplace

 Diversity in the workplace is inevitable. At last Wednesday’s UF PRSSA meeting, Lori VanNess explained the role of diversity in the workplace and Jarrod Cruz related these roles to his position on campus.
     VanNess, the AT&T associate director of retail sales operations said her company defines diversity as “something you can see.” You can see when someone looks different, she said. She went on to explain the importance of making employees feel included through the company’s 11 employee resource groups.
     Cruz, the director of intercultural engagement within UF multicultural and diversity affairs, describes diversity as broad and complex differences between people. He said he believes these differences are brought on by the multiple identities that people can have. He said we maintain these identities through factors like family, values and religion.
     When asked about the different cultural subgroups at UF, Cruz explained the groups all come together under certain organizations. For example, the Institute of Black Culture tends to bring together the other black organizations on campus through communication. He stressed that the diverse organizations must communicate with one another in order for them to be productive. This is similar to in the workplace. VanNess explained AT&T employees come together during employee resource groups to discuss projects that include the other departments. This brings everyone together in an efficient manner.
     According to VanNess, as a part of AT&T’s goal to create a more diverse workplace, the company has been focusing on recruiting women and people of color from a regional level. “We just want to make sure that everybody is being represented,” she said. She said she sees how many of these people have been promoted. In the past, white males have seen more promotions, but the company is trying to create more balance and provide opportunity for advancement to all employees.
     Cruz’s take home piece of advice for students looking to be more diverse to employers is to immerse themselves in different cultures. He advised students to develop their multicultural understanding and competence through expanding their social circles. Cruz said in order to do this, students must step out of their comfort zone. For example, they could attend a meeting full of people who look different from themselves. He said this will help develop students’ cultural understanding. Cruz stressed that now is the time for them to take advantage of the diverse environment UF has to offer.
     VanNess advised students to get involved with different communities. She said this will help students get to know obstacles they could be faced with in bringing together people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. She said this will help you learn to adapt how you act no matter what community you work in.
     Both speakers brought great advice and insight to the panel. They encouraged students to get educated in diversity now, while they still have the opportunity take advantage of the diverse UF campus.
By: Annie Uzar, UF Public Relations Student Society of America Member