Previous blogs and many other sources and writers have defined what public relations, advertising, and marketing degrees and job fields entail. Yes they have different names, and some classes differ, but when it comes down to the real world job application processes, do we all want the same things? It isn’t fair to say that people who go into these different fields will be the same kind of person with the same kind of brain, but to say they don’t cross over and work together is a lie. I think the difference in job skills is not as big as it seems to be.
As Grand Valley State University has these programs set up, Marketing is part of the Seidman School of Business, whereas Adverting and Public Relations falls under the School of Communication. Often times Marketing is associated with taking more economics classes and Ad/PR take more communication classes. But when it boils down, what are employers really looking for? Someone who can recall the economic formulas, or someone who can remember Communication theories? After being in both the American Marketing Association (AMA) or GV’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) I’ve seen many speakers come in and tell us the tips to getting a job and succeeding in interviews from both sides. Not surprisingly, both sides have said very similar if not identical things. No one said the classes you take like Marketing 350, will get a job, but rather going out, networking, finding mentors, and being yourself are your best bets.
This idea held but many that Marketing students greatly differ from Ad/PR students is not allowing for a great connection to be made. If these majors came together more, there could be an unstoppable force going out together into the scary and ever-looming real world. They are not the same, otherwise there would be no need for the separation, but there can be more recognition about the teamwork these two majors will need in the world force. The classes often touch of different subjects and don’t create overlap, but success is about who you know, and by increasing Marketing networks with Ad/PR networks, the possibilities are endless.
“The early bird gets the worm”… or the Black Friday deals.
Each year, it seems that the time to go Black Friday shopping is getting earlier, the sales are getting bigger, and the social media campaigns are exceeding previous years. Companies like REI have decided to #OptOutside of Black Friday this year, in hopes to bring the focus of their company, the outdoors, and their customers, back to the true spirit of the Thanksgiving season.
Here are a few social media lessons we can take away from this Black Friday season:
Think ‘Outside’ the Box: Being an early adapter to trends not only propels your social reach, but also tells followers that your brand is innovative and not afraid to take risks. An average Black Friday shopper sees approximately 5,000 advertisements daily regarding sales and brands and it’s important for your brand to be seen through that mix. REI has used empathy as a major aspect of their campaign, created 10x more conversation than any other brand, as well as spark a 6,557% increase in their social media mentions. In REI’s terms, they thought outside the box, and now want you to actually go outside.
Have a Plan: Just like the Black Friday shoppers who set their alarms for the wee hours of the morning, bundle up to brave the cold with cash in hand, and wait in horrendously long lines to get the deals; brands need to have a plan of action. You need to know your objectives when targeting your audience. Whether your business is hoping to acquire new customers, or keep the loyal ones, you need to know exactly who is in your target market, and what sort of deals (or brand engagement) they are looking to attain this season.
Take a Step Back: Once you’ve created and implemented your Black Friday plan, it’s time to take a step back, add up the receipts, or mentions, and think: “What went well? What went wrong? What can we improve for next Black Friday season?”. The answers to these questions will help your brand or company craft another Black Friday campaign for the next year, and give your consumers the best deal… impact.
The best deal of the season in my opinion? The use of social media.
I’ve been thinking about what propels some people directly into exciting careers, and why others may take longer to find their place. Of course, there are many factors beyond our control, yet, there are elements we can master to help light the way. I’d like to share a few ideas with you.
First, let me to introduce myself. I am an Assistant Professor in Advertising/Public Relations major, teaching college level courses for over 15 years. My professional career spans 20+ years in advertising/public relations.
I am the faculty advisor to the GVSU Advertising Club and the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team. I also serve on the board of the American Advertising Federation of West Michigan, (Ad Fed) as Director of Student Initiatives.
So what is it about people who fast track their careers? I have an educated guess based on my observations, experience and research. I’ll share some thoughts with you:
Motivation and Enthusiasm are Key. A fire in the belly, willingness to take a risk and tenacity are integral to success. I know. It’s hard. No one likes to fail or be judged. But if you try, fail, and pick yourself back up again, you will learn valuable lessons. Don’t give up. You are creative. Stop holding yourself back. You will find creative initiative is not only exhilarating, but attractive to others. They will notice your bold enthusiasm and want you on their team.
Embrace the Unknown and Dive In. Humans don’t like uncertainty. We want to know we have the right answer. But in this field, there is no one right answer. It’s about creative problem solving. Be bold. Dare to be different. Set yourself apart. People want to see something they’ve never seen before.
Make Connections and Get Inspired. Find people who inspire you. Get out there and look them in the eye. Strike up a conversation. Ask questions and listen well. Peers, professors, and professionals – everyone has something valuable to share. Join clubs, volunteer, find cool internships, attend speaking engagements, read about what and who inspires you, write about what you learn and discuss your findings with others. Feed your soul. Spark a fire.
Find Your Niche and Trust Your Gut. Take time to reflect. Absorb what you are learning and think about how you can apply it. There are many aspects to the APR field. Find what excites you and focus on developing a special skill set. It’s good to be well rounded, but even better to have something extra to offer. Also, realize that no one has all the answers and no one is always right. It is up to you to discern what is best for you. It’s your life. Learn to trust your intuition through deep introspection.
Be Grateful. Don’t compare yourself to others. There will always be someone better, and many that are worse, at whatever niche you choose. Accept that. Then focus on your best self. Don’t panic. Get perspective. Look around you and count your blessings. Be thankful for all that you are and who you are becoming. Take a deep breath, channel good energy and move forward with confidence.
Be Kind. Play well with others. Foster a warm and safe space for others to interact with you. Be approachable. We are in a creative field. Creative people need to feel safe to share ideas. Sharing ideas with others leads to exhilarating possibilities. This is where the magic happens. Work is no longer work; it becomes a passion. The fire burns, motivation soars, enthusiasm takes flight. The next thing you know, you are unstoppable. People take notice. And you have just positioned yourself for a very exciting future in your chosen field. Why? Read tip #1. You’ve got this.
Before you read too much into this, I’m just going to throw this out there: writing about yourself is weird. My inner narcissist is ecstatic, but the everyday, typical college kid inside of me is screaming “DON’T DO THIS.” Maybe I just question if I’ve got the right stuff to make this writing interesting.
Regardless, I’ve been asked to write a blog. So doggone-it, I’m gonna.
Let’s start with introductions. For those of you I haven’t met yet, my name is Rachael Vruggink. I’m a junior in the Advertising and Public Relations major with an emphasis in Advertising. This year I’ve had the honor of being el presidente of the GVSU Advertising Club and I’m currently a social media and marketing intern for a startup company called OXX Beyond Rugged. Other fun facts: I sell bread on the weekends for a bakery in Allendale, I drink more coffee than I probably should, and I am a big flea market junkie.
I was a finalist for the Immediate Impact Award for leadership. That award nomination (which I did not win by-the-by) is not what I want to talk about. Instead, let’s talk about something more applicable to you. Like how to be a leader. After giving it some thought, I came up with 3 lifehacks for being a great leader that could apply to your student project groups, RSOs, or your job. Here’s what I got:
Good leaders have great mentors. Before starting my role this year as president, I first looked to personal and professional connections for guidance. Having a leadership mentor or role model can keep you grounded. If anything, the greatest advantage of having a mentor is that they’re outside of your organization or group, and they can help you see the big picture.
Good leaders seek feedback. In a leadership role, you should always be looking for ways to improve how you and your organization operate. Try to get feedback from everyone in the group, including all the shy-guys. It’s your job to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. Once you’ve heard from everyone, take that feedback and act on it.
Good leaders admit when they’re wrong. Screw-ups are going to happen. When that time comes, don’t try to justify or defend, just apologize. Look for forgiveness and be humble, then take whatever it is you learned and move on. In return, when someone in your group makes a mistake, be forgiving and don’t hold it over their head. Team relationships are give-and-take, and keep in mind that nobody’s perfect.
Whether it be researching for a paper, group project, or even a job, research is and important and necessary feature of the advertising and public relations (APR) industry. In a business setting it is especially important to do quality research. That is important becuase good research is where every great idea comes from. Without research, a company wouldn’t know important information regarding to their audiences, consumers, and service providers.
In the terms of the APR field, without research an organization doesn’t know what problem they are looking to solve or what product their clients need. From the many classes that I have taken and my work experience with campaigns and plans books, research is the first step of the process. Research allows you to strategize before diving head-first into a project. Good research allows an APR practitioner to come up with tactics and strategies that will best serve their campaign. Research also helps give insights about the pros and cons of the task you have taken on.
Sometimes the research process can seem timely and frustrating, however it results in a better overall outcome in the long run. Some tips to keep in mind when doing research for APR are:
Keep an open-mind. When researching keep an open-mind to any information that could be important. It might be exciting to jump right into the tactics and strategies, but information that might be over-looked in research could be the one thing where the big idea comes from for the most successful tactic.
Use the resources that are provided. At Grand Valley there are multiple resources online and in person that could help with the research process. Being able to use the recourses could lead to the big idea and will make the rest of the process easier.
Being able to understand and have the skill set to research effectively can help with future tasks, projects, and jobs. Having the skill to research can also be a key talking point in the job and during the interview process so it is a skill worth developing.
Beginning the search for a job can be a daunting task. The possibility of not getting hired, especially after you’ve spent years honing the skills that will make you a viable and competent employee, is enough for many soon-to-be graduates to put employment preparation on the back burner. Though natural and experienced by many, these feelings are counterproductive. Why let the fear of failure increase the likelihood of its occurrence? By taking the opposite approach, one fueled by ambition and preparation, you can make the transition to the professional world with confidence. It is not a simple task, but here are a few tips to make the job search a little easier:
Networking. Time and again students are lectured on the importance of networking (and for good reason). Forming connections with individuals or organizations in the industry is an excellent way to find your place in the local marketing community. It can provide you with insight into different disciplines of the field while simultaneously showing potential employers that you’re proactive and driven. Some networking opportunities include events hosted by professional associations (ex. PRSA), regional conferences, and presentations made at the university.
Crafting a Unique Resume. Employers receive multitudes of resumes, most of which conform to the traditional (and typically unexciting) format. Adding subtle visual deviations from this layout can help your resume stand out from the others in the pile. Caution: don’t overdo it. Utilizing alignment settings, bold and italicized fonts, and line tools are usually sufficient. The goal is to please to the eye without distracting from the content. It’s also important to consider the position for which you are applying—a creative position may allow for more freedom than a business-oriented one.
Utilizing Social Media. Social media has become an integral part of modern communication, which includes the connections you form with potential employers. LinkedIn is an exceptional tool for building relationships and engaging with professionals, but shouldn’t be the only medium you’re utilizing to build your network. As long as your accounts are appropriate, Facebook and Twitter can be useful resources for learning about an organization and deepening your relationship with them.
Being Informed. Knowledge is power. Knowing the condition of your industry can develop the instincts needed for finding employment opportunities. Knowing professionals in the community can lead to you getting hired. Knowing the history and ideologies of an organization can impress an interviewer by showing that you’re prepared. Do your research and don’t be hesitant to show that you know what you’re talking about.
Though learning about tips and recommendations for employment is necessary, the most important thing you need to know is yourself. If you’re consciously aware of the qualities that you value in a position, you can begin on the path toward an enjoyable and fulfilling career. Utilize these tips, and the many others that are available, to prepare yourself for the professional world while learning a few things about yourself in the process.
“You know what leadership looks like. You have experienced it before,” encouraged Doug Conant. “You can do this. You have to do this…I’m depending on YOU.” That is only one of the many heartfelt and authentic moments Conant was able to create during his presentation “Branding By Storytelling.”
Doug Conant was the most recent guest speaker of the GVSU APR speaker series. He is the retired president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company, the current chairman of the board for Avon Products, the Chairman of Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute at Northwestern University, and the founder and CEO of Conant Leadership. Conant visited the University Club Room in the Devos Center on the the GVSU Pew Campus to speak with GVSU APR students, faculty, and alumni.
Conant engaged the audience by telling them stories from his life and having them share their own unique stories. All of this was in an effort to show the power a story can have and how to use that power in a position of leadership.
Conant admitted he aware that leadership is daunting, but he assured the group that they don’t have to be afraid of it. These are some of the main points that Conant highlighted in his presentation to help make the task less intimidating:
Approach situations with a “How can I help?” mindset: Conant said this is the best way to approach a situation. He noted that we have a multitude of touch points (personal interactions) each day. With those touch points we need to ask ourselves “How do we make them useful?” and “Can we be effective in the small 5 minute interactions that we have each day?” Conant says yes! We just need to approach the situation wondering how we can be of assistance. Doing this will be the first step to resolving a situation and creating a meaningful touch point with those who are involved.
Listen, frame, and then advance conversations: Good leaders make the touch points with their audiences valuable. They don’t just assume that they know how to remedy a situation the moment they walk in. The first and most important step is to listen. Once the leader fully understands the situation they can begin to frame it. Figure out how they can actually be of assistance whether it be helping personally or pulling in an outside resource. The final step is to advance a conversation by asking meaningful questions. Listen to the problem and offer unique solutions and viewpoints, specific to each situation.
Monitor Progress: Great leaders follow-up with the situations they have addressed. They check to see if the problems have been resolved or are on a positive path. Conant presented a great example of how he did this when he was at Campbell Soup Company. He wrote small notes to each of the people he contacted to let them know the work they were doing was appreciated. Reaching out like that made the people feel important. He knew this because when he walked around any Campbell facility he would see his little notes hanging in people’s cubicles and offices. Following up and monitoring progress is what really shows people a leader cares about the problems they encounter.
Be tough minded on standards and tender hearted with people: “Great leaders have world class standards,” Conant said. Great leaders hold those they lead to a higher standard because they know that they can do great things, however there is a caveat to that feature. Conant noted that leaders must also be tender hearted. They need to show up and be present in the moment when they are dealing with people. They tell people they are there for them and then actually show up when they are needed. Doing this will help push and motivate people to be and do better.
Use your head, heart, and hands: These were some of the most important features of a great leader that Conant mentioned. He said great leaders use their head to create a leadership model for themselves. He compared this to building a personal brand. He encourages future leaders to ask themselves how they want to go through life and how they want to see situations through. Then comes heart. This is as easy as putting authenticity behind behind words and actions. Tune in with empathy early for others and often. The final element in the equation is hands. This is where great leaders put their plans into action. Conant mentioned that No one is going to get it right right away, but with practice anyone’s skills will get better.
Conant was quick to admit in his presentation that a leader doesn’t have to be the next Gandhi or Mother Teresa to be a good leader. He encouraged his audience to think about people in their own lives who have been leaders to them. He suggested to be more like those individuals who have helped be a leader to their personal lives. A coach, parent, sibling, professor, anyone can be that person.
Conant also said, “Anyone who says business is not personal is not very successful. Its all personal, because you are dealing with people.” That is something to keep in mind as we enter the corporate world as APR professionals.
Conant inspired with his wisdom and experience during his presentation. It was a pleasure to hear him speak and share his knowledge. He was a great addition to the line-up of speakers of the APR series
If you would like to learn more about Doug Conant and his work you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter. He also co-wrote a book with Mette Norgaard titled “Touch Points: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments.”
For more information about the next speaker in the GVSU APR Speaker Series follow the GVSU APR Twitter and like the Facebook page.