by Haylie Schmoll '19 As a confused freshman, I remember scrolling through Otterbein’s course catalog. After reading degree description after description, I came across public relations:
“Do you like to take on leadership roles? Enjoy planning and promoting events? Have talents that include writing, speaking, and organizing? Find that you are versatile with diverse interests and want to combine them in unique ways? The answers to these questions might lead you to major or minor in public relations at Otterbein.”
At that moment, I knew I wanted to declare PR as my major.
Talking to my new advisor, I felt confident in my decision that would allow me to leverage my skills of event planning, utilize my leadership ability and develop my writing. My advisor explained typical projects of a public relations professional including writing press releases, planning and executing large events, writing speeches, creating publications and maintaining the image and reputation of an organization.
What my advisor didn’t tell me was a public relations degree at Otterbein would prepare me for so much more. As I began classes within my major, I learned how to create and execute such projects that my advisor explained. But, the projects served for more than a grade. In fact, many of my projects were utilized in real-world settings. One of my largest projects first semester was a strategic plan utilized by our university’s library this year. Because of projects like this, I realized my work inside the classroom would improve my university and the community around me. The skills learned from projects were quickly transitioned into real-life experiences outside the walls of my university. Internships gave me opportunities to showcase my skills to benefit the organization in which was working for. I obtained media for large events from writing press releases, organized community gatherings and refined my public speaking skills. I just accepted my fifth internship for the summer at my dream organization and cannot wait to learn and do more. While I’m utilizing my skills and testing the waters in my industry, I am continuing to refine these skills through on campus involvement. Being involved on Otterbein’s PRSSA board has allowed me to develop my PR skills through creating publications and organizing events. Otterbein’s forensics team has helped refine my oral skills.
My involvement does not end within my department though. Through service organizations, I am giving by to my community through planning events and raising funds. Did I mention in my free time, I’ve attended tours of non-profits and Blue Jackets games to learn from PR professionals in the industry? I couldn’t imagine having these opportunities at any other institution.
As I explain my choice of degree to my friends and family, I note that my degree is unique compared to other degrees. My degree has allowed me to discover what truly makes me tick, find ways in which I can use my passions to make a difference in the world, and see the endless possibilities for careers after my time at Otterbein. I am confident in my choice of major and feel my degree is more than a piece of paper. Otterbein has prepared me for any career I wish to take —that is the value of an Otterbein education.
by Brian Hammel '18 You know the saying “practice makes perfect”? I would be willing to place money that a PR person made that comment. In the field of public relations, practice is the only way to develop the basic skills —writing, strategic thinking, relationship building, you name it and I guarantee practice makes you sharper and more competitive. Internships are perhaps the most crucial component to a public relations education —one can only learn so much about the field by sitting in a classroom. Internships offer so much more than a plethora of portfolio materials or networking opportunities; they give a glimpse into what the professional world looks like —they are passion incubators where you can learn what you like (and, more importantly, what you don’t like). In the past year of my internship, I have learned countless lessons about the field of PR —so many, it would probably take up a decent part of your day to read them all! So, here is the abridged version of the top five things I’ve learned about PR by actually working in public relations. Prioritization and organization are your best friends When juggling different projects, deadlines and meetings, keeping an organized to-do list (or five) are key to ensuring that the job gets done and done well! Find your style of organization and own it! Company culture is crucial Before starting an internship, I had never really known what “company culture” meant. I had a rough understanding of it but until I started working, I realize it can make or break the best employees. One of the first questions I now ask in interviews is for the hiring manager to describe their company culture to me. Research and numbers can be really fun I never thought that I would ever see the words “research”, “fun” and “numbers” in the same sentence, let alone write them myself —but when you are passionate about a campaign, these findings can be a rush. What tactic brought you the highest number of views to your website? What does burnout mean and how can resiliency help with that? Research and analytics can answer these questions and help push your strategic planning to the next level. PR isn’t as glamorous as it looks on TV Although I’m sure we’d all love to be brushing elbows with celebrities on red carpets and strutting around Washington D.C. like Oliva Pope, PR is hard work! There are late nights, gift bag stuffing, sorting through thousands of lines of Excel data, toting prizes, you name it, a PR person probably has done it. Always remember your why At the end of the day, working in communications or public relations is a job —it (hopefully) puts food on the table and clothes on your back. Although it can be stressful, never forget why you do what you do —PR has the power to capture attention, affect behavior and bring about change in the world. Never forget to see the big picture in your work.
by Marisa Glusich '19 On Monday, March 20, the Otterbein University Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) executive board held elections for the 2017-2018 school year. Abby Dawson, Kerigan McNamara, Courtney Kilmer and Mikayla Pieper are current board members who will be graduating this May.
At the monthly speaker meeting the executive board, along with PRSSA members, unanimously voted in the new board of 14 members.
Six new board positions were added including: Manager for Programming, Manager for Planning, Co-Social Media Manager, Co-Publicity Manager, Content Creator and Vice President for Planning and Programming split into two separate positions.
The chapter added eight new executive board members with six members returning to the board.
Introducing the 2017-2018 Otterbein University PRSSA Executive Board:
President: Brian Hammel Vice President for Communication: Emily Dawson Vice President for Programming: Haylie Schmoll Manager for Programming: Adeline Almendinger Vice President for Planning: Marisa Glusich Manager for Planning: Jenese Wallace Co-Social Media Manager: Lauren Heberling Co-Social Media Manager: Kaitlin Carlisle Co-Publicity Manager: Josh Plichta Co-Publicity Manager: Clara Berglund Secretary: Lindsey Jones Membership Chair: Araina Carpenter Treasurer: Gillian Janicki Content Editor: Sara Anloague
After the voting, Otterbein welcomed the Central Ohio PRSA President, Beth Watkins as the monthly guest speaker. “Remain visible,” Watkins advised Otterbein students as she spoke on her past work history and the challenges she faced while trying different positions.
“You are not alone,” Watkins encouraged students in times of transition or unemployment. “People are going to help you if you’ve done your legwork with maintaining relationships.”
by Lauren Heberling '19 I became a part of PRSSA my freshman year at Otterbein. I joined the organization without any knowledge of PR and was honestly scared to be in a room of people who used words like “media strategy” and “social media campaign”. I could only think, “what did I get myself into?”
Unknowingly, I joined an organization that gave me an opportunity to challenge myself, and it is undoubtedly the best thing I could have done for myself. By the end of my second semester at Otterbein and my first semester in PRSSA, I became more familiar with fellow members and confident in myself.
The time came in the year to elect the 2016-2017 executive board. To my surprise, I applied and landed the position of membership chair. Through this position, I have developed excellent communication skills with my peers, practiced collaborating with other executive positions to promote membership drives and have become even more confident in my abilities as a PR student. It is almost the end of my second year in PRSSA and I have learned so much. I am incredibly thankful for this experience and am excited to see what this next school year holds and what else I learn.
by Kerigan McNamara '17 I would have never imagined that I would change career paths just two semesters before graduation. I love PR, communication and all things digital media. I enjoy analyzing campaigns and appreciate a company’s superb social media presence more than the average person. On my fifth internship, I hold a fair amount of experience in planning events, managing social media accounts, building websites and coordinating media relations. I have truly appreciated and enjoyed every minute of it, especially the incredible mentors I have gained along the way. This past summer, a casual conversation with my parents in our kitchen ended in me revamping my senior year schedule in the matter of two days. I am still graduating with majors in public relations and health communication but it is not my goal to go directly into either of these fields. I am pursuing a master's degree in dietetics to become a registered dietitian by spring 2021. Yes, that is four more years of schooling. No, I do not regret majoring in PR whatsoever. Here are five reasons why I am thankful for my PR degree! I have refined my written and oral communication. This reason comes first because communication is universally essential! I’ve always enjoyed writing but ceaseless practice has taught me how to communicate far more effectively. I now know how to write for a target audience to capture their attention and leave an impression, public speaking does not intimidate me in the slightest, pitching ideas to the media is right up my alley and relationship building is my sweet raspberry chia jam (I promise that is the only nutrition reference in this post!). It has taken practice but altering my communication style to fit the circumstances at hand whether it is in person, writing or over the phone comes instinctively. Oh, and knowing how to use commas is a plus...turned pet peeve for those who forgot that they exist. Whether I go into writing for nutrition publications, become a spokeswoman on TV/radio/podcasts, blog as a dietitian or simply communicate to my clients, I have the tools to do it with strategy, compassion and AP style. I understand all the “behind-the-scenes work” that go into a brand. One thing I hear PR guest speakers consistently say is, “You can never act superior to anyone or anything. No task is ever too insignificant for your job description.” This could not be more true! I have had responsibilities that ranged in severity from greeting people at a pho restaurant for seven straight hours to having to nail my word choices as I communicated on behalf of an eating disorder center to not trigger the clients. There are endless details that go into a brand’s image and reputation so I hold much greater respect for all the efforts that go into building and maintaining it. No matter what field you go into, recognizing the hard work behind any person’s profession is so important. And who knows...maybe I will build my own brand someday as a dietitian! I can create goals as easily as my daily to-do list. My strategic thinking hasn’t always come naturally but after writing many strategic plans and SWOT analyses, I swear my brain now operates in a different manner! PR majors must be incredibly detailed, carefully attentive to the client/audience’s needs and complete thorough research before jumping into the planning phase. The end result to this strategy is hopefully growth so whether it is personally or professionally, I feel well-suited to write and execute goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. There is no doubt in my mind that this strength will be beneficial as a practicing dietitian when I am problem solving and creating plans for my clients. My involvement has greatly increased my professionalism. PR majors are practically forced to immerse themselves into on and off-campus experiences. Not only is it in our nature as people who like to socialize (and possibly put out all the fires we see) but our professors understand that there is only so much we can learn in the classroom. Just yesterday, I emailed a few PR professionals for our PRSSA Mixer on April 17, a Regional Development Representative for a nonprofit I am working with for an event tomorrow, Marketing Coordinator at a restaurant to organize a fundraising night, a woman who is coming on campus next month to give a guest talk and both advisors of the student organizations I am president of. My point is not that I can whip up professional emails as easily as I can text my best friend. But, I have continuous communication with people who are older than me and that I can learn from. Having many responsibilities in addition to coursework has been a huge part of how I have grown in my professional development. I am confident. This may seem like it is not related to PR but oh boy, it is. Looking back, my internship assignments and class projects have gone best when I was truly myself and did not hold any crazy idea back in brainstorming sessions with supervisors or peers. With a lot of teamwork, eagerness to learn and many late nights including Schneider’s and appreciation for FedEx Print Center’s 24-hour policy, I have learned endlessly about myself. My creative mind, strong work ethic, time management skills, flexibility in all situations (prepare yourself for this one, PR majors), willingness to take risks and appreciation for humor through it all is a part of who I am and what I pride myself on. I hope you, whoever you may be, find confidence in yourself through the people around you and the experiences that have shaped you.
by Brian Hammel ' 18 Most people look forward to their winter break to return home, visit loved ones and recharge their batteries for the next semester. My break, although I will be returning home eventually, will be spent in the marketing and communications suite at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.
Last spring, I began my hunt for my first official summer internship. I was relentless in my Google searches and left no stone unturned when it came to potential opportunities. I was in a PRSSA meeting when a fellow member approached me and told me to apply for an internship at OhioHealth. I took her advice and sent my resume and cover letter through. Before I knew it, I was interviewing with a panel of communications professionals and two weeks after that, I received an offer to work at Riverside Methodist Hospital beginning in April 2016.
There is no typical day for a public relations or communications professional nor a typical day for a public relations or communications intern. My responsibilities at Riverside may have me interviewing an associate for our bi-weekly newsletter Riverside Pride or writing a communication plan to help drive participation for a resiliency survey. I have also had the pleasure of working alongside nine other interns to launch an internal and external launch campaign of the brand new OhioHealth.com (if you haven’t seen it, you should go check it out!).
My time at OhioHealth has taught me a lot about the industry and provided me with invaluable experience about working with clients and how to connect communication to a business operation. The best part of the experience? My time at OhioHealth isn’t over yet!
I am very fortunate to be able to continue my time with the company through the holiday season and into the new year! As the search begins for the next great summer internship, remember to always use your connections! You never know who someone might be able to connect you with.
As a sophomore public relations major, I am delving into the world of communications with full force. All of my classes are major-related and the thought of potential internships are always lurking in the back of my mind. I am constantly looking for ways to learn outside of the classroom and gain experience that will help me in the coming years. Luckily, as a member of PRSSA, I am able to go to monthly meetings with communication professionals who give me insight into the field.
PRSSA meetings are the perfect way for me to expand my knowledge of the communications field, while being able to ask questions that wouldn’t always get answered in my day-to-day classes. The meetings are excellent networking opportunities with professionals from all around Ohio, including successful Otterbein alumni. They offer us priceless advice and help me feel more confident about my abilities and options as a PR major.
At meetings, we discuss opportunities to visit large companies like Nationwide Children’s Hospital and local PR firms to learn about specific jobs within the field. These trips are also beneficial to help me narrow down what kind of work environment and field of communication I would want to intern at or eventually, work in. Meetings are valuable time to sit and reflect on my goals and refocus on what is really important when it comes to having a successful career. The one-on-one time with professionals motivates me to challenge myself; their stories of success normally stem from the hard work done in college. They remind me to work just as hard and to take advantage of the time I have as a member of PRSSA.
If you asked me where I thought I would be in life a year ago, I never would have imagined being where I am today. As I stepped foot on Otterbein’s campus, I thought I had my whole life planned out. I was going to change lives, actually, save lives. I was going to be a nurse. My life was pretty much written in stone… or so I thought.
As a child, community service was what defined me. I loved helping people. I felt like my life changed as much as the lives of those I was helping along the way. I wanted my community service to be a career. As many kids do when they want to help people, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse.
Coming to college with blinders on, I never imagined myself in any other field of study. To be honest, I didn’t even know that several other majors even existed. As a first year student, I put undue pressure on myself to know everything and to have everything figured out. The undue pressure made me realize that I overlooked opportunities in front of me that would help create my future path.
I joined many organizations that allowed me to explore topics outside of my major like policy, advocacy, healthcare and community engagement. My involvement and courage to step out of my comfort zone allowed me to meet some amazing individuals who made me realize that it is possible to have a career that helps people, other than nursing, and make a living out of it. As I connected with professionals that pointed me in new directions, I revaluated what truly made me tick when it came to my future career. I discovered that to be happy, I needed to combine my head with my heart. I have been blessed with skills of leadership, organization, event planning, and communication along with a heart for people. If I can find a way to combine these blessings to create a unique combination, I can do great things. I took a risk and switched my major to Public Relations and Communications. When I did this, I started to discover careers that I never even knew existed!
I quickly became immersed in the culture of communication and have been blessed with many opportunities. From meeting with my advisors, to conducting informal interviews with professionals in the field, to hearing great speakers at PRSSA meetings I have learned so much. I immediately wanted to get hands on experience and I am currently in my third internship and loving every minute of it. I do not know where I will end up on this path, but I do know some things for sure. I want my life (every part of it) to inspire others to find their passion and go out and make a difference for what matters most to them. If we all do that, we WILL change the world and will be happier doing it! I want my success to be measured by the number of lives I touch instead of the amount of money in my bank account. I know if I continue to follow my passion, it will lead me to my purpose! When I find it, I will fix it!!! I am just getting started!
Changing your major in the middle of the school year is never easy. I switched to public relations in the middle of my freshman year. I wanted to do anything I could that would help make me a successful public relations professional one day. I heard about PRSSA and decided to attend a meeting just to see what it was about. I soon found myself going to every meeting and learning so much while I was there. I ended up becoming the treasurer of PRSSA and have benefited so much from my time in PRSSA.
PRSSA opens up so many opportunities for internships and jobs. Every month PRSSA hosts a guest speaker. These speakers are always willing to talk with students after the meeting and give out their business cards. These networking opportunities are right in front of you and can open the doors for your future. There are also various conferences you can attend to learn more about public relations. These conferences are also a great way to network and meet professionals in the industry.
PRSSA has been so beneficial to me. I have had the opportunity to network with professionals, attend conferences, build my resume, learn more about public relations and make friends. I have personally gained so much from this organization and I will forever be indebted to all that it has given me.
Over the past two years, I’ve applied for a handful of internships. The application processes have all been slightly different but a resume and a cover letter have been consistently required throughout. Do they really read both? How important are cover letters, anyways? That’s debatable and differs from employer to employer but I always wrote one and proofread it 63 times.
In May, I applied for an internship for this school year that requested a strong cover letter. The exact request stated, “Write me a kick-ass cover letter letting your personality shine”.
This internship was plastered over social media so I was aware that I was in the application pool with a good amount of students; some who already expressed that they applied. I figured that if I didn’t let my personality shine, I had no chance of standing out and would never get an interview.
I started with a previous cover letter and completely edited it far away from AP style. I made it personal, friendly, and what was asked for: me. That included a “shalom”, “178%”, “eeeek”, “YAY” and two instances of double exclamation points. I don’t know about you, but I would have never had the courage to send these expressions off to a possible internship supervisor before this day. Although this position is with a company that thrives off of creative writing, I was nervous to press the submit button.
Each day afterwards, I eagerly waited for a response. Day five came and so did a five sentence email in my inbox. It read, “Where have you been all my life? Your cover letter was seriously the highlight of my day. You're weird and interesting — I love that. Let's chat. You free for a Facetime/Hangout this Thursday?”
I was free on Thursday and for a follow-up interview over lavender cupcakes. I can now start referring to myself as a Yelptern (Yelp Intern) all because I took a chance on my cover letter. Okay, maybe not all but it was a first impression that set me apart from the cover letters that started with ‘To Whom It May Concern’. I know this because Aliza Licht, former DKNY PR Girl, always says, “ ‘To Whom It May Concern’ never concerns anyone”. Oh and my supervisor also said it himself.