Letter to My Occasional Readers

A new life calls for a new blog! After much deliberation, I have finally settled on a new cheesy name and a semi-aesthetically pleasing theme. You’re welcome.

Upon graduating, I found myself with a full-time paid internship position with the Portland Trailblazers

I don't see this getting old.

—which means that I have moved to Portland. Yes, against all odds, I have tricked someone into paying me to work in a basketball-crazed environment. I have also learned to stop pounding Pabsts like it’s my job and have begun to take on my role as a real live contributing member of society. Well, at least I’m moving in that general direction. The result is still to be seen.

I am still a bit unsure about the general direction that this blog may take. My interests, like my general persona, are a bit scattered and un-concentrated. I have a feeling this will turn into a platform where sports, lifestyle choices and terrible attempts at sarcasm all combine to make a giant mess, but we’ll see. Oh, and sprinkle some marketing/PR/communications thoughts in there as well—those will definitely come into play.

Anyway, if there are still any of you left, thank you for sticking with me through my feeble attempts to become a “blogger”. This time around, my posts will be coming twice a month. Now, notice I didn’t specify on what days said posts would appear—expect a lot of back-to-back posts when I get a sudden burst of energy. This is a rare occasion and therefore must be documented.

Now, because I feel that this post has had absolutely no useful content whatsoever, here is today’s topic: Portland’s weirdness. That whole “Keep Portland Weird” campaign has certainly done its job. Don’t get me wrong; I love this city so far. No wildfire scares (#SoCalgirlproblems), great coffee (Stumptown FTW), even better beer and tons of helpful people—my kind of place. Oh, and INCREDIBLE food carts. However, there are some oddities that I have yet to fall in line with.

First up: sustainable grocery bags. Now, I think that this is a WONDERFUL idea, and I have about 20 crammed into my linen closet. The trouble here is that when I happen to get off of work early and decide to pop into the grocery store to pick up a few items to prevent my hunger-induced crankiness, I of course do not have my bags. Now, in any other city I surely would be joined by at least 50% of the other customers in this forgetfulness. But oh no, not here in Portland! I’m pretty sure that I was the only shopper in the entire store that carried out a brown paper bag—and man did I feel the eyeballs on the back of my head. Lesson learned—three reusable bags are now in my trunk. My height makes me stick out enough; I certainly don’t need to be the neighborhood’s carbon footprint.

Second: the energy. If I look outside and the term “rain” seems to be an understatement, and the puddles on the streets resemble a small lake, call me lazy but the first thought that comes to mind is not “Perfect time for a jog!”. However, these people certainly do not let weather get in the way of their physical fitness. Good for all of you—this one is going to take me a while to adapt to. For now, I’ll stick with my 24 Hour Fitness membership.

That leads me to my third and final observation. As I mentioned, it rains a lot. People don’t seem to be too bothered by it when they’re jogging (feel free to pronounce that with a soft “j”). Or riding their bicycles. Or walking to lunch. Anyway—it rains a lot. However, it seems that all anybody talks about is the rain. Since I don’t have cable, I have about 12 working channels and each of them has a different morning news program. Every morning I flip through these programs to see that the main stories are about “excessive rain” and “big storm fronts”.  Perhaps I will understand this mentality more once I live here, but for now, I think it is safe to say that we live in a rainy part of the country. Commenting on it daily seems a bit unnecessary. Just an opinion.

Although, I will say that the recent “snowmageddon” was a foreign concept to me and I definitely jumped on that weather-obsessed train for a few days.

From my apartment window the night that snowmageddon hit the city. Yeah, I'm a wimp, but it certainly hit some areas like a mini blizzard.

I’m so happy to become a part of the weird Pacific Northwest, and cannot wait to see what these next six months have in store. I promise this is my last completely irrelevant rant-style post. It’s simply not a good look for me.

Cheers,

Nicole

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Event Planning 101: How to Avoid Disaster

This past weekend, my colleagues and I executed the last step in our internship for the term by hosting an event that we had been planning for the past few months. The event was on behalf of Nancy Hughes, founder of StoveTeam International and recipient of the 2011 Purpose Prize. It took place on Sunday at King Estate Winery, and everyone was extremely pleased with the outcome.

Nancy and Sanya

Nancy and her protegé, Sanya. Courtesy of Whitney Taylor at: http://whitneytphoto.com/

That being said, every event has its glitch(es), and ours was no exception. (Based on my general life problems, of course they were mostly technology-based. Darn 21st Century.)

After finally winding down from the excitement of our event, I have come up with a few pointers for any future event planners out there.

First, know your audience. We decided to use Paperless Post®, an online invitation service that allows you to personalize the invite. While this is a really wonderful option for the tech-savvy young adult, it was not so great for our fifty-and-over audience. We had a number of people that opened the invitation but failed to RSVP, assuming that opening it was enough for our count. Luckily, because my colleagues and I are human vacuum cleaners and will eat our weight in food, we had already overestimated the amount of food we would need, so the fact that about thirty more guests arrived than expected was already accounted for. Moral of the story: research your guests and think about their demographic.

StoveTeam Table

Our table displays. Those information cards were a pain to keep in place. Courtesy of Whitney Taylor at: http://whitneytphoto.com/

Second, have your technology straightened out. This seems to be a recurring theme in today’s world. While we had all of the right pieces, the one thing that we had decided was not in need of a trial run was our speaker set up. When the video that had been produced on Nancy’s behalf began playing without any sound, we had a minor panic attack. Again, luck was on our side as our photographer was able to turn around and pick up compatible speakers before the guests arrived. ALWAYS try out your technology before hand, even if it seems like a no-brainer. Lesson learned. Well, kind of. I’m still struggling with my iPhone. Oh well.

Also, bring a toolkit. My colleague (and roommate, actually—fun fact), is one of the few college girls I know who has a toolkit handy everywhere she goes. It includes nails, a hammer, twine, duct tape—you name it, she has it. And we ended up needing every single one of those items.

Finally, have plenty of visuals. Again, this is an area that we did not neglect, and I am extremely happy that we were over prepared for this. We had photos from the StoveTeam trips, framed awards, statistics, and informational posters for our guests to enjoy. Oh, and plenty of sunny sunflowers, because they can brighten up any room and put a smile on even the gloomiest face.

My experience interning for Nancy was unforgettable, and seeing so many people in one room to celebrate her accomplishments was an inspiration. Although our event had its glitches, it was certainly a hit, and Nancy left smiling!

AHPR Team

Kevin, Krista and myself after the successful event. We made it! Courtesy of Whitney Taylor at: http://whitneytphoto.com/

For more photos from our glorious photographer and fellow Allen Hall PR colleague, visit: http://whitneytphoto.com/. While you’re there, take a look around–she has an awesome portfolio!

Resumes: Revamped, Reworked and Revised

Next Wednesday, November 9, is the University of Oregon’s annual Fall Career Fair. With this date creeping closer, and with my graduation date looming (December 8—eek!), I’ve been joining my fellow super seniors in the act of revamping my resume.

Barney Stinson Video Resume

Who wouldn't hire this guy?! (courtesy of mytvmoments.com)

Never a particularly exciting task, it is important to keep several versions of your resume on hand and to constantly update them. The best way to do this, of course, is to pass your resume on to a knowledgeable pair of eyes in your particular field. As students, professors are a wonderful and easily accessible resource for this—as are recently graduated peers. (Shout out to those of you who have colored my resume with colorful corrections—you know who you are!)

I digress…anyway, the rapidly approaching career fair sparked the idea for me to post about some of the basic ins and outs of resume perfecting. So, here are a few tidbits that I have learned from anonymous editors:

  1. White space is important. When a recruiter receives a resume, he or she does not want to see an array of word vomit crammed into one page—space it out, play with the margins and spaces between headers and descriptions so that even if the resume is a full page in length, it does not feel like a chore to read.
  2.  Use color only if it is relevant to the job description. I once had a fellow student show me her color-coordinated resume, stating that it set hers apart from others. Looking at my black-and-white resume, I asked a PR professor (who also runs her own agency) about adding some color, and she responded with this question: Are you applying for a creative position? Well, no, I am not applying for any particularly creative positions, so she suggested that I keep my resume clean and show creativity with color in other things—my portfolio, for example.
  3. Use descriptive verbs! The first word of each line of descriptions for a position should communicate action. For example, some words that were axed for me were: worked, drafted, learned, help—none of these were descriptive enough to captivate the skimming eye.
  4. Be personable. In the PR industry, professionals are not uptight (generally). Show some personality and transparency in your descriptions and layout.
  5. Keep a consistent font across the cover letter and the resume, and any reference contact information.
  6. That being said, the font does not have to be Times New Roman—play around with it; find a font that helps eliminate dangling words (one word that flows onto the next line—you need that extra space!). However, remember that Comic Sans MS is ALWAYS a no-no. Try Garamond, it is similar to Times but crunches the letters a bit and really helps with spacing.

With this long list of “Do’s”, here are a couple examples of what not to do with a resume:

Even though her resume stands out, Elle’s scent may not be pleasing to everyone. And the pink paper? For a legal position? Not extremely relevant. Entertaining and true to her character, though.

Lying is bad, especially on a resume. At least he can chug a gallon of milk in ten seconds!

I hope that these tips are as helpful to my small pool of readers as they were to me! Happy editing—and remember, if you’re a student at the University of Oregon don’t forget to attend the career fair next week!

Miss Representation Opens Eyes

I would like to preface this post by stating that I am not a feminist. I am all for equal rights and representation for men and women, but I am not a “girl power” type of person. That being said, yesterday my professor showed us a trailer that has been blowing up on Facebook and Twitter the past few days. He pulled up the link to Miss Representation, a campaign about the ways that women are portrayed and misrepresented in the media. Normally this sort of thing rubs me the wrong way, but for eight minutes we all sat there in complete silence with our eyes wide and our jaws open. The numbers presented in this trailer are absolutely shocking. American teenagers spend an estimated 10 hours and 45 minutes consuming media in some form or another each day. Not 10 hours and 45 minutes a week–every single day. That is about 2/3 of the time we spend awake. Out of all of that mass media, women hold 3% of clout positions.

Perhaps this lack of representation across the channels of communication has something to do with the way that women are portrayed. We are symbolized as sexual figures rather than scholarly intellectuals. Even the most powerful women in the world are scrutinized on E! News‘ Fashion Police and Us Weekly‘s Best and Worst Dressed section. On the other hand, magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour are run by women from the top down, and yet the majority of their content is concerned with looking good and being sexy. The problem here is that sex sells–society has reached a point of no return, essentially. Women are consuming these magazines based on their content, and until that changes, the content will stay the same. The argument is one that may never have an answer, but the issue is unavoidable. Women are simply not equally represented in the media industry, and at the rate we are going, they never will be. This does not say much for the future of the little girls toting around their grossly proportioned barbies and watching Toddlers in Tiaras. Scary, isn’t it?

For those of you who haven’t yet seen the trailer for Miss Representation, (which airs in full on OWN October 20), please check it out. Trust me, it is worth eight minutes of your time.

 

Lions and Tigers and…Social Media? Oh My!

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with a talented public relations professional and she

Wizard of Oz

Dorothy is clearly not a fan of social media.

posed an interesting question. She asked, “How has PR education changed with all of this social media stuff?” This got me thinking about how rapidly the world of social media has changed business and job descriptions—especially when it comes to public relations. I then began to wonder: how can we, as public relations professionals, make the most of social media for our clients? After letting this thought stew for a while and thinking about what I have learned in the classroom as well as in the field, this is what I came up with:

  • Test the water first. There are so many different social networking sites out there that it is tough to initially decipher between the ones that are worth your time, and the ones that will fizzle out in a month. Google+ is a good example of a medium that many users, (yours truly included), jumped right into without reading the necessary articles or asking the question, what is the purpose of this? Take some time to research what you are getting yourself (or your client) into.
  • Keeping the previous note in mind, do not be afraid to try new things. Some clients have to be gently pushed in the right direction—social media is a new idea to many people, and the thought of putting a company, brand or individual on the Internet in real time can be daunting. Be sure to highlight the proper uses and specific benefits that can be reached by using social media.
  • Not all social media outlets are for everyone. Not all clients will benefit from having a Facebook
    page, and then there are some that will reap countless benefits. Know the audience that each medium serves and find the right match for your client.
  • Transparency is key. If you tweet for your client or manage their Facebook page, let it be known. “Friends” and “followers” want to know who they are connecting with. A great example of this is a Portland-based marketing agency, CMD. Each day the company “tweeter” edits the profile so that it clearly states who is on tweeting duty.
  • Be consistent. Signing up for a Twitter page alone is not going to generate any followers or form meaningful relationships. You or your client must monitor that page and supply meaningful content on a consistent basis. For some companies, this may mean sleeping with an iPhone on your bedside table and with loud alerts set for every @mention. For others, it may mean devoting five minutes of every hour to check in with followers. Either way, be sure that the route you choose is consistent, or those relationships will begin to burn out.
  • Provide meaningful content. No matter what route you take, the connections you make do not want to hear what you had on your bagel that morning (unless you are tweeting for a fitness magazine, and in that case I’d love to hear about a healthy alternative to cream cheese). Be sure that every tweet or post provides insight, contains clickable content, or sparks a conversation among other users.
While I am certainly no professional, I hope that this turned out to be accurate and useful. Maybe someday I will have more hands-on experience with the topic of social media and client relations! In what ways do you find social media useful? Or useless, for that matter? (Google+ is toeing the useless line in my book).

The Graduation Bucket List

The other day I came across this bucket list and immediately felt small and insignificant. I have lived the first 22 years of my life and have done NONE of these things. (Scratch that, I’ve been to Hawaii–

The Bucket List

These guys know what's up; Courtesy of amazon.com

#19– but I spent most of the time in the gym scrambling for a spot with the California Storm). Anyway, reading that bucket list inspired me to create my own. Since I am a bit of a realist, it is a much shorter scaled-down version of what I hope my lifelong bucket list will look like, but it is a start. So, here it is—a bucket list of things to do before I graduate!

  1. I WILL go skiing. This must happen before I graduate—basketball always prevented me from getting out there and now I’ve been free from that excuse for three years, so it’s time to hit the powder.
  2. Travel to an away football game for the Ducks.
  3. Make it to Sam Bonds Garage and experience the Eugene music scene.
  4. Pack a picnic lunch and hit Sweet Cheeks Winery.
  5.  See Blake Griffin play at The Rose Garden (again)—David Stern, please negotiate and end this strike or you will have some unhappy people pounding on your door come November.
  6. Land a job in the sports industry or in event planning. If that doesn’t happen before I graduate, Mom and Dad will have an unwelcomed houseguest on their doorstep.
  7. Finish the Bend Ale Trail.
  8. Make it to Black Butte—whether I hike or ski I do not care but I hear it is an unforgettable place.
  9. Ride my bike to Saturday Market at least twice a month. There’s nothing like fresh cut flowers, happy hippies and juicy berries to start off the weekend.
  10.  Last but certainly not least, I want get shots up in Matthew Knight Arena. This may happen while a security guard is chasing me in circles, but I’ll take what I can get.

While my bucket list is not half as awesome as its inspiration, I figure it is a start. Hey, at least it gives me ten things to look forward to in this victory super senior lap!

Got an Interview? “Bee” Yourself.

As an almost graduate, I began my endless interview loop yesterday morning with a phone interview, which I had never done before. After stressing about it all night, I began to think about what we, as social media connoisseurs who often get caught up in ourselves, can do to stand out among the crowd. My thoughts led to a list (surprise, surprise—lists make me happy, what can I say).

1. Sell yourself. My dad was reviewing my portfolio the other day, and he had a great point when he said:

for sale

A little desperate, but you get the idea. Courtesy of hubpages.com.

“Nicole, everyone that looks at this or who interviews you is going to be thinking, ‘what’s in it for me’? You need to be able to field those questions before they come.” Although my dad is from what seems like the stone age, he has a great point, (he also happens to be one of the most business-savvy people I know). Sell yourself, but remember that you need to do this while also answering the question of what is in it for them.

2. Know the requirements. Before any job that I apply for, I look over the qualifications and requirements, and I contour my resume to highlight how I fit their needs. This also goes into the “what’s in it for them” idea, but here it is important to dig deeper. The requirements for a job should be your talking points. Use them as guidelines for your cover letter, and if you land the interview, use them as talking points to highlight why you are the best candidate for this specific position.

3. Be interested in them. One of my professors once gave me a name to contact for a potential job, and the only piece of advice she gave me was to flatter him. Not in a creepy weird way, but in a professional manner—know the work that they have done, and be able to comment on it. Whether it is on a personal level or a company level, showing an interest in whom you are talking to goes a long way. After all, who doesn’t like a good compliment every now and then?!

4. “Bee” yourself. Every time someone says this to me I am reminded of the moment in Aladdin when the genie turns into a bumblebee and tells Aladdin to “bee” himself. My goodness, Disney is inventive. All joking aside, this was one of the most important lessons of our childhood, and it still carries into our lives today. Remember, public relations/marketing/advertising executives know how to read people. If you are attempting to build up a persona in order to please them, they can tell. The best thing to do is to let your passion for the position shine through and let your true talents be the basis for your conversation and connection with that person. Don’t learn this the hard way like Aladdin did.

Genie Bee

In the words of the wise genie, "Bee yourself." Courtesy of sarahnoelsmusings.blogspot.com