Sunday, December 12, 2010

PRactically done...for today, that is.

First, a rant:
Finals are about the most over-rated concept I can think of. While I understand that for some this single test can count for the majority of their grade, there are plenty of students who use this week as an excuse to over think and over study for a test that is no different than any other (like that last one you study two hours for the morning of).
 Similar to how Hallmark has successfully suckered housewives into thinking they need an overpriced greeting card for every occasion imagined, Starbucks, too, has optimized on this classless, free-time called finals week to brainwash students into thinking they need to spend every waking hour—and most sleeping hours, too—drinking coffee in order to survive (whew, breathe, Carly!).

Ok, ok...moving on:
Regardless of my criticisms towards this week, I will say that it is difficult going straight from 16 hours worth of classes into a week of projects and exams—all of which seem to have snowballed into this moment. You are only just rejoicing from one thing being completed when you are pulled back into another approaching deadline.

Tomorrow I will be able to check off all classes, projects and exams from my 2010 to-do list. However I will have millisecond to catch my breath before going home and diving back into work at the agency I interned at this summer! While to most I may seem crazy to not give myself a good, solid vacation from everything PR, those in Grady with me would agree that I would not want it any other way!

I am eager to take everything I have learned this year in my classes and start applying it to real-life work! I have grown so much this semester, and can honestly say I am exactly where I want to be. So, while I am finishing up my checklist for today, I am already starting one for tomorrow; and how normal that is in my PR bubble!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stop to catch your breath—or go for a run, rather.

Rushing full speed back into life at UGA, I have been going non-stop trying to catch up with friends, schoolwork and all the extra stuff in my life. I think I have spent less time in my bed asleep than I have on my laptop working. Actually that is confirmed.

Today, however, I decided that I needed to clear my head and take a few minutes to just enjoy the day—catch my breath. So, what did I do? Go for a run, of course!

Still groggy from my Thanksgiving feast, I have not had the energy to get up and move (all the work has not exactly given me the opportunity, either). Forcing tennis shoes on my feet, I made it down to the IM trails right before dusk.

With the warm weather today and a light rain falling, running through the now bear trees and soggy leaves could not have felt better. Stopped short by lightning and heavy rain, also known as a tornado watch, I returned home refreshed and more energized than the little pink bunny!

I took still another few minutes to cook a delicious meal of Jambalaya—yum, yum!! By the time dishes were through, I was once again motivated to get back to work. With two tests, a paper and newsletter due this week, I was in definite need of a refocus. A few minutes of 'me' time did the trick.

I act like I've stumbled upon some new revelation, but the truth is, I just never seem to learn. Setting aside time each day to get my mind off of the list of daunting deadlines can put life back into perspective and give me the boost of energy needed to get through the daily tasks we college students pile on.

I encourage everyone to figure out what their brisk run and yummy meal is, and put that at the top of your to-do list!

Monday, November 15, 2010

UT's PR Day 2010

Friday I was able to attend the University of Tennessee's version of PRofessional CONNECTION: PR Day 2010. Being from Knoxville, I am very interested in the PR opportunities there, and was excited to see how UT's PRSSA chapter held the event in comparison to us.
The accumulation of conferences I have attended this year have not only built my professional network, but has begun to straighten the path of my future. Friday's experience was no exception. Some examples:

  1. I first heard about PR Day in Washington D.C. at PRSSA's National Conference from Mary Beth West, principle practitioner of Mary Beth West Consulting. She was supposed to be a panelist at the event, and encouraged me to look into attending.
  2. Gary McCormick, PRSA Chair and director at Scripps Network (a.k.a. my dream job location), was also a primary speaker at PR Day. I had been hoping to set up an informational interview with Scripps when I went home for the holidays...
  3. Luckily, our PRSSA Professional Advisor Neil Hirsch knew Mr. McCormick, and sent him an email last week introducing me. We were able to correspond through email, and meet face-to-face Friday.
Now, I have made multiple connections with professionals in both the Atlanta and Knoxville areas.

I think it is fairly obvious that my career path is starting to take shape through the networking examples. While I may not know exactly where I will end up, I am starting to get an idea of the sectors of PR I think I like best, and would best succeed.

This being said, I am definitely keeping an open mind about my options! Check out my quick video introducing PR Day... Yup, I've become that nerdy girl trying out video blogs!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oh, the seasons change

So, blogging when you have insightful things to say can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I have not been sure what to write about next this week! I have started three posts now, all of
which are sitting in my draft box.

This week my life has been on the slow side, well, as slow as a college student's life gets. It has been interesting to see how my measurement of personal success has changed over my three years at UGA.

Freshman year was determined by social standards: how many events I attended and how many people I had met. Sophomore year was more dedicated to academics: applying to Grady and making good grades. Now, junior year has brought me to career building: leadership experience and networking.

Examples of how my yearly objectives have changed can be demonstrated in this past week alone—resulting in my lowest college test grade to date (74 percent in Horticulture 2000 of all things) and lack of socializing due to attending another PR conference (UT's PR Day 2010).

Obviously I am not proud of my Horticulture grade, but I'll be honest—overall I view my week as very successful! I completed and printed the fifth issue of the PRecedent, and have been in good contact with professionals I've recently met. I have updated my resume, worked on my online portfolio and even got news coverage for the Athens Farmers Market where I intern.

Though cliche, I understand that finding balance between school, social life and my PR life is the most important goal for a successful future (and for my personal health, too). So, maybe a little more study time and a night or two out would do me some good—take a breather from my PR bubble!

Now, if I can just decide which sessions to attend at tomorrow's conference...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

If you've noticed it, it's PRobably due to PR.

I am consumed by PR. I almost literally eat, sleep and breath public relations—between studying others techniques and perfecting my own, I rarely think about much else.

Today for example, I went shopping and saw a huge display of Ray-Ban sunglasses, the "must-haves" of today. My first thought was, "I wonder what methods they used to bring back these 1980s "it" style glasses...did they start by mailing pairs to different celebrities or hit up popular clothing ads?" Yesterday was no better: I watched a rerun of Oprah Winfrey's camping episode and couldn't help but comment out loud what brilliant PR Yosemite National Forest was receiving, almost by accident. Then she conveniently mentioned Chevy and REI... hmmm wonder if they had someone sending her car keys and gift baskets full of nalgenes and sleeping bags?!

I don't admit this because it is an obsession or unhealthy habit—I do have a life outside of PR classes and internships (sometimes). I tell you this because unless you are in direct contact with a communications firm or practitioner, the attention every product receives due to the hard work of someone in the communications industry (PR, advertising, marketing, media) probably goes unnoticed.

So, the challenge I offer is to keep your eyes and ears open this next week. What catches your attention most? Trendy clothing styles? A new, popular song? A food or drink product? Why? Yes, there is something special, unique, catchy or tasty about it; but, it also probably has something to do with the placement, advertisement or celebrity you associate it with—that's where we come in!

A great way to let a company know they are exposing their product well is by showing them: is a new social media site that allows you to literally show brand loyalty. Email pictures of your favorite product in your daily life—you may even find yourself receiving perks from the company!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

For a big, wide world, it's pretty small after all. PRofessional CONNECTION.

Yesterday I attended the sixth annual PRofessional CONNECTION. The event was held at the Tate Grand Hall, and was spectacular. PRSSA members planned, organized and hosted one of the most successful PR events I've ever attended—including National Conference in Washington D.C. this past October!

Students were able to sit in on panel discussions, have their resume critiqued, attend a career fair and even eat lunch with some of the most prestigious professionals in our area's public relations field.

As an exec member of UGA's PRSSA, I got involved with the host and registration committee; my job yesterday was to show the professionals to their table in the career fair. What a fabulous opportunity it was! I got a chance to talk one-on-one to the professionals who later had lines of 10 or more people waiting for that same opportunity!

One company I am particularly interested in is Jackson Spalding. They have an Athens locating, and a potential internship opportunity opening in the spring. I was able to introduce myself to all three representatives throughout the morning, and leave my resume during the career fair.

It wasn't until I sat with them during lunch, however, that I began to realize that these amazing women I admire and look up to had been sitting in my seat just a few years before. In fact, one professional was more similar to me than I had imagined!

We realized with were both from Tennessee and our parents had gone to high school together! Like me, she ventured out-of-state for college, and hasn't looked back since. The steps she made to prepare herself for a job after graduation resemble mine, and help me foreshadow future endeavors I should peruse.

That is the wonderful thing about PR: the people you meet. They will remind you where you came from, who you are and where you going—often, they will help you get there! It is unlike any other profession because it requires continual education, communication skills, self-motivation and persistent relationships with everyone you meet.

So, while the world of public relations is growing, the connections made daily seem to make it less intimidating and more approachable. In fact, the Disney World ride comes to mind: "It's a small world after all..." Already I have met people in PR from all over the country, and even world!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Ode to Walgreens

Walgreen's, oh, Walgreen's...

But seriously, where else can you go at 11 p.m. and create a hard cover photo book (with backgrounds and text) and have it ready in and hour? Not impressed? Well then, where else can you go, and while you wait for your photo book to print, get a Flu shot at 12:24 a.m.?

That's right! Walgreen's has 24/7 photo services and pharmacy! Impressive in my books. A bonus to their bizarre late-night offerings is the exceptional service. I was nervous and skeptical that they would not be able to accommodate my urgent need of this photo book. I could tell that English was not the first language of the woman assisting me, but after only minutes of helping me—actual help, too—I realized that while her grammar was not perfect, she effectively communicated everything perfectly. Better than most, in fact.

Next, while I could have been slightly creeped out by the "after-hours" pharmacist, he was pleasantly professional and reassuring. No one enjoys shots, but he made the process as pain free—physically and emotionally—as possible.

Who knew Walgreen's was so popular after midnight, though! The pharmacist had two drive-through customers and another walk-in while I filled out paperwork and got my shot. The photo station had multiple people come through picking up and dropping off pictures, too!

My whole experience, which included grocery shopping and picking out a new nail polish color, led me to the conclusion that I stereotype too quickly. Walgreen's and the employees I encountered there were much easier and happier than many I have dealt with these past weeks at UGA's student services. The humility, helpfulness and overall happiness was a breath of fresh air, and I cannot for another excuse to spend two and a half hours wondering around Walgreen's!