Erika's Summer Internship Experience: Influencer Marketing

Summer has come to an end, which means it’s time to reflect on what I learned during my summer internship. I had the incredible opportunity to be the public relations intern at i.d.e.a. - an integrated creative agency in sunny San Diego! Most of my time was spent conducting influencer marketing research where I learned a few things. Not only was this type of marketing fun for me to dive into, but it’s a growing aspect of public relations that young PR professionals need to keep in mind as they enter the workforce.

Influencer marketing - this form of marketing focuses on the use of influential people rather than directly marketing to whole publics. Whether you’re using an influencer database such as GroupHigh or doing organic research, there’s a few things PR practitioners need to keep in mind when making their recommendations to their client.

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1. Before you begin your research. Always keep in mind your client’s overall brand, goals and purpose before diving into the research. Your goal should be to find an influencer who can relate to the brand authentically so they can in turn share content that will resonate with their followers.

2. Budget. Influencer marketing is a growing industry with costs ranging from the hundreds to the thousands. It’s important to know your budget before beginning your research so you know what you’re working with. During this time you can establish how you will measure your return on investment (ROI). Are you really getting the most bang for your buck?

3. Social. In the world of technology, social media following and engagement is crucial. The more followers and positive sentiment an influencer has, the more likely your client will reach a bigger audience. It’s always a good idea to scan through the followers an influencer has too. Avoid being misled with bought followers.

4. Bloggers. It’s also important to check if the influencer has a blog. Depending on the client, product or service, blogs may not be as important. Bloggers really come into play in travel and food industries. You’ll want to research the number of unique visitors per month (UVM) the blog has. Resources such as Cision can help identify this number. Much like social following, UVM is important in determining the potential reach an influencer has.

5. Media landscape. If an influencer is big enough, they may have been featured in regional and local news. Do a quick Google search to check if their reach goes beyond social and blogging.

Influencer marketing is a growing trend within the public relations industry and although these tips are not all encompassing, they can be used as you begin learning more about and researching influencers.

Happy to talk more about my experience with you. Let’s grab coffee and chat. Contact me at erika.fierro-1@ou.edu.

Lee Reynolds: Sticking to Her Roots

At our meeting on Tuesday, we had the opportunity to hear from Lee Reynolds, the Director of Development at our beloved Gaylord College. Many of us were surprised and excited to hear that she graduated from OU with a PR degree! 

Lee gave us a brief history of her time thus far within the PR field. After graduating from OU, she lived in three different states before returning to her roots: Norman, OK.

She recommended five lessons that we should implement in all of our PR endeavors: 

  1. Importance of storytelling
  2. Every interaction is a networking opportunity
  3. You can never over-prepare
  4. Personal touches can be a game changer
  5. Utilize every resource available
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In addition to informing us of these helpful tips, she also gave us interview advice by suggesting we position interviews as conversations. We're trying to learn as much about them as they are about us! 

In honor of Lee's two favorite words, we say "thank you" to everyone who came to the meeting and heard the wise words of Pritch, Dean Ed Kelley and Lee!

And remember: "It's not the grades you make; it's the hands you shake." -Lee Reynolds

First Meeting of the Semester: MVP Status

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Our first meeting of the semester took place on Tuesday, and it was certainly one for the books! From Dean Ed Kelley telling us we provided the largest cake in OU PRSSA history to Naina Wani speaking about her time working for the OKC Thunder, it was a memorable meeting to say the very least.

Students were lined out the door anticipating the start of the meeting, and some of our Exec members eased their anxiety by handing out slices of the delicious, gargantuan cake. Dean Kelley started the meeting off with a bang by informing new folks about what all our organization entails. 

After each Exec member introduced himself/herself, Naina Wani stepped up to the plate. She talked about her experiences as a basketball communications coordinator for the OKC Thunder, including tips and tricks on how to make it in the world of Sports PR. 

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We were incredibly pleased with the turnout, and the students who attended seemed eager to learn and were engaged throughout the entire meeting. Naina Wani may have talked about MVP Russell Westbrook, but we like to think of all the people who attended the meeting as the real MVPs. 

Thanks again to Dean Ed Kelley, Naina Wani and all of the students who attended on Tuesday!

For more information about the OKC Thunder and available jobs/internships with them, you can visit https://www.nba.com/thunder/employment

 

OU PRSSA takes Dallas – Current Industry Trends and Hiring Tips

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Last weekend, a group of PR students from the OU PRSSA chapter had the opportunity to visit agencies and in-house communication teams in one of the nation's fastest-growing industry hubs and the self-proclaimed 'New York City of the South': Dallas. After decades of oil and cotton, the city's hottest commodity today seems to be innovative communication agencies and a pool of talented PR graduates coming from the most esteemed colleges across the countries. Below I listed a couple of the things we learned from talking to CCOs, recruiters and interns.

Influencer Marketing
Everywhere we went, influencer marketing was the word of the hour. From the big players to small-size integrated agencies, nobody wanted to live without the endorsement of celebrities, bloggers or community influencers. Especially micro-influencers, 'normal' people with a social media following of about 4 to 10k, are the new darlings of the PR industry. Or as the communication manager of an international convenience store chain puts it, "Customers want real recommendations from real people." For current PR students and recent grads, acquiring tangible skills like pitching and social media monitoring will definitely come in handy as brand activation and influencer marketing are here to stay.

Company Culture
Listening to recruiters and employees, a deciding factor that seems to have moved into the center of every hiring conversation is company culture. Whereas in the past companies and employers have tried to bait talent with good pay and the prospects of a corner office, today it is all about flat hierarchies and quirky office perks. But don't be quick to assume that all millennials care about is free snacks and bean bags.  Employees tend to value the more practical perks, like the access to gyms, nursing rooms, and napping stations, more than fancy break rooms with ball pits and ping pong tables. In the end, it's all about enabling people to do their best work and make sure they don't mind putting in extra hours. Not sure how to inquire about an agency's culture? Ask people what makes them excited about coming to work every day. Usually, you'll get the most honest answers when not asking directly.

Agency vs. In-House
Ah, the eternal struggle. What's the right choice for me? Talking to people in both fields, it's not an either/or question, instead recruiters today expect graduates to have experience in both fields. Right out of college, it is okay to start out in a place or industry that's comfortable to you, but by the time that first big job rolls around, you want to make sure you have both agency and in-house under your belt. Some recruiters even go so far to require candidates to have basic journalistic experience. But don't stress. Whether you see yourself in an agency working on multiple projects at once or need that full in-house emersion into one brand or company, it is okay to decide against one or the other at some point in your career. Listen to your gut.

Internships and Resumes
Some of the most asked questions during the trip circled around the 'perfect' intern or resume. While our hosts had differing views on resumes, almost all shared the same vision for their interns. "We look for people that are proactive and don't shy away from asking questions," says one agency recruiter. "I want to be able to hand you a project and not have to think about it again until the deadline. But if you have questions, don't sit at your desk and quietly drown. The people on your team usually don't mind helping you out." 

Most places we visited are open to welcoming unconventional majors, like economics and English literature, so it is becoming more and more important for traditional PR and communication majors to set themselves apart. Just don't jump to the conclusion that a flashy, over-the-top resume is the way to go. The majority of recruiters we talked to preferred simpler versions with easy-to-read fonts and less color. However, that preference might vary if you're applying for more creative jobs, like graphic design. The key takeaway is to be confident in your design choice and make it work for you. "If you want to do it all hot pink because Elle Woods is your role model, then, by all means, go for it," says one recruiter. "Just don't be wishy-washy, you'll get lost in the middle."

 

Madison Tucker Speaks About Her Journey With PR

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by Alyssa Danley

Small business owner Madison Tucker began her student career at OU as a ballet performance major before finding her way to Gaylord. After an injury at the end of her freshman year forced her to alter her lifestyle, she searched for another major that she could be passionate about. What she found was Public Relations.

Starting later than usual in the Gaylord game, Madison was forced to take on a heavier workload. This did not stop her from signing up for almost every opportunity in Gaylord, including participating in PRSSA and Lindsey + Asp.

After graduating in 2014, Madison landed a job as a customer success manager at an oil and gas technology company. She knew nothing about oil and gas, and the position had nothing to do with PR.

However, she views her experience at this company as a valuable opportunity in which she learned many life and work skills that she could continue to apply in future careers. That is what she did and continues to do so.

Her next job was at a Pinterest and Instagram marketing platform. It was during her time here that she realized she wanted to start her own business.

After briefly returning to the realm of oil and gas to do admin work at a firm, she launched her small business named Optimal Life Space. Her company focuses on helping businesses and people organize and declutter their life spaces at work, home and elsewhere.

She explains how she never envisioned having her own business and did not know what all it entailed when she started.

“It’s definitely been a crazy ride,” said Madison.

While her career may be centered around organization, her daily schedule is not. She describes her work days as “unorganized,” “off-the-cuff” and as a daily attempt at “figuring out how to run a small business.”

“My title never included ‘PR’. I’ve never worked at an agency, but every single thing I do every day requires PR," said Madison. As a result of running a small business, Madison has to tackle a wide range of tasks, including networking, marketing, creating and scheduling social content, accounting, bookkeeping and more.

Madison emphasizes the value of social media and learning how to communicate with people on different platforms. She explains how she is constantly working on using social media to connect with her audience, sell her services and create a broader brand moving forward.

Madison attributes her career success to the information she learned during her time at Gaylord. “OU introduced the topics, and I have been able to practice those," she said.

The tips that have proven beneficial to Madison’s success are: “Don’t apply for positions solely online,” and “say yes to every opportunity.” She suggests that all current Gaylord students and job seekers adhere to these guidelines to get the most out of their journey in the world of journalism and mass communication.

“You need to be passionate about what you’re doing. You’re signing up for a long period of time, so you need to like it just as much as they like you.”

For more information about Madison Tucker and Optimal Life Space, you can visit:

Website: optimallife.space.

Instagram: at “optimallife.space”.

If you are interested in running a small business or have questions about what life is like as a PR major, Madison is open to talking with you. You can contact her at madison@optimallife.space.

Guest Speaker: Brian Ferrell from factor110

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On January 24, Brian Ferrell came to our meeting to speak about his journey in creating his company, factor110.

factor110 is all about "factoring in the difference." 

Brian started his company a little over 10 years ago. He worked for a few different companies before getting his CMP certification (Certified Meeting Professional). He had to study a lot before he got this certification because he had no knowledge of the industry beforehand. 

While he was studying to get his CMP certification, he added the term DMC to his vocabulary. DMC stands for Destination Management Company and is a firm that manages and plans out-of-town event services. 

He then decided to create his company, which has grown into three different parts: factor110, 110events and Destination Oklahoma. Brian's company is the only DMC in Oklahoma, so they have the upper-hand. 

factor110 plans and produces events for companies. These events include trade shows, award shows, company dinners and much, much more! Based on what Brian shared with us, it seems like the people that work for this company have produced some really cool, different events. 

When it comes to events, Brian had a few pieces of advice for us:

  • Events are an extension of your brand.
  • The success or failure of your event is dependent upon the attendees experience.
  • Be different. Be confident. Be authentic.
  • Create a unique signature event. Instead of doing a lot of things not well, create something that is signature.

110events is a rental company that the public can rent things from for their events. Brides, caterers, hotels and many more people will rent items for their event that they can't get anywhere else. 

Lastly, Destination Oklahoma is a company that gives daily tours around Oklahoma to connect people to the attractions and stories around Oklahoma. They also began sell Oklahoma inspired gifts after Brian realized that people who visited Oklahoma wanted to be able to buy gifts that are unique to the state. 

We had a great time learning about Brian's company. Learning his tips and tricks in the event planning industry made for a great meeting!

Guest Speaker: Kristin Sauro

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by Shelby Westbrook

Last week at our general meeting, we had Kristin Sauro come speak to us about Burson-Marsteller, a global PR and communications firm. Kristin works in the New York office as a Human Resources Associate. She mentioned part of her job is recruiting at schools just like ours, attending career fairs nationally and coordinating the communication between the company and applicants for jobs or internships.

Sauro started off the meeting with a large and intricate PowerPoint that highlights everything about Burson-Marsteller. She talked about the company’s history, the company culture, and the main focus of the company brands. Burson-Marsteller works on several nationally known brands such as Ford, Chipolte and Bank of America.

Another great part of working for Burson-Marsteller is that they are known for their crisis management. They have specific classes for their interns to learn about crisis communications as well as many other components of the industry.

Burson-Marsteller is unique in that they have three companies that work alongside them in their offices worldwide that specialize in different expertise. These companies are known for client business guidance, government and politics as well as grassroots. Along with agencies that work underneath Burson-Marsteller, they have “sister” agencies that are constantly working together with the BM team to tackle a client’s problem or proposal.

In order to intern with Burson-Marsteller, you must be going into your senior year, graduating or going into grad school, with a GPA of 3.2 or higher. You will also have to send in a transcript when you apply for a position with them or internship. From what I gathered, the internship program is for the most elite applicants, as the application process is difficult and they choose only a few applicants every summer, fall and spring. You must also have very strong interpersonal, communication and research skills.

It was so wonderful hearing about such an esteemed public relations company, and Kristin gave the insight to several pointers and tips in order to be successful at the company. Kristin was very informative and helpful, as she also gave personal one-on-one sessions to students for three hours before the meeting so they could answer questions in private. We were so thankful to have her come speak to us as a group, and we are very much looking forward to having the next speaker come the Tuesday after Thanksgiving!

November 2017 Chicago Agency Trip

 PRSSA members visited Cloud Gate before they headed home!

PRSSA members visited Cloud Gate before they headed home!

At the beginning of this month, a group of our members took a trip to Chicago, Illinois to visit a seven agencies and meet with alumni.

Our agency trips give members the opportunity to travel to big cities around the country and see what agency life would be like in the respective cities. Past trips have included Chicago, New York City and Dallas. 

For this trip, members visited Propllr, Ketchum, Edelman, Allison + Partners, Motion PR, the Chicago Cubs Communications Director and Walker Sands. The members also attended a dinner with OU alumni living in Chicago. They got the opportunity to talk to Sooners about their experiences in The Windy City. 

One of our members, Demery Pennington, wrote an amazing blog post about her experience on the trip, what she learned from some of the agencies and the fun sights she got to visit while on her free days in Chicago.

Check out Demery's blog post by clicking here.

Guest Speaker: Chloe Cumbie and Kylie Kallsen

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by Sahra Somani

This week at our OU PRSSA meeting we had the wonderful Chloe Cumbie and Kylie Kallsen talk to us about BigWing in downtown Oklahoma City. They chose to discuss the various clients that BigWing has and define how the company helps benefit them. Cumbie and Kallsen also spent time discussing their work environment and why BigWIng would be wonderful place to work at for any senior or even junior at Gaylord College. This stands for both internships and future careers.

BigWing happens to be the biggest digital media marketing firm and is one of the largest agency in the state and is owned by the Oklahoma Media Company. Cumbie and Kallsen mentioned that their company focuses on their client’s online presence. They drive traffic towards their client’s online platforms and anticipate gaining numerous benefits from it. They have been awarded Google partner and are also known as one of the top five digital agencies in North America for the 2016 year.

BigWing does most of their work by a method that they like to call content marketing. They take the content from what the client is willing to portray and go forward with that on various online formats. This is the majority of what their job entails. They have numerous clients that they work with daily that allow for them to have a large amount of variety with their work. The number of clients that they tend to work with begins with a few and then continues to increase depending on their capabilities of what each worker can handle. They even mentioned that the people at the company tend to rely on each other’s strong suits so that they can gain knowledge from them and increase their own expertise. The agency works as a team and keeps from competing with each other relying instead on building one another up.

Cumbie and Kallsen then went on to discuss the various forms of content that they produce as a company and what forms of content they have worked on individually. Typically, in their work environment they tend to create content that differentiates their clients from their competitors as well as allows them to take the next step to five their business to the client. They also mentioned that not only are content marketers creators but they are also researchers. It is their job to determine how they are going to disseminate the created content and spread it to others.

Next, we were informed on the methods that we learn that the company uses in the workplace. Cumbie and Kallsen stated that not only is SEO research used, but client specific goals are applied to focus and fine tune the content to fit their personal client’s needs. They tend to use traditional PR in content marketing through press releases, media relations, community outreach and crisis management skills. They also mentioned that writing is the basis of most of their media through social media and press releases and that it is something we, as college students, should work towards perfecting. A proficiency in social media was also mentioned as beneficial due to social media’s current standing as a legitimate way to contact and connect or network with people. The world is now becoming immensely social media based in how we communicate. They listed various examples to highlight this as well such as influencers, engaging with audiences through online surveys and polls and even communicating to various consumers though these social media platforms.

We feel so lucky to have had two incredibly successful OU Alums be able to join us for this week’s PRSSA meeting. They not only educated us on how an agency functions, but also passed on some knowledge on what skills helped them to prosper. We gained so much wonderful wisdom from them and we cannot thank them enough for taking out the time to come and mentor us as a group! Thank you so much to Chloe and Kylie! OU PRSSA is immensely grateful to have you to guide our members and wish you two much success in your future endeavors! 

Guest Speaker: Matt Woods

by Sahra Somani

On October 10 we had Matt Woods from McMahon come by and share his personal tips for getting internships. He explained that while applying online allows for easy access nationwide a con that we don’t account for is only eight out of ten jobs are posted online. Even though we feel we have the upper-hand when sending out our resumes through the various online job search engines, the truth is we honestly don’t.

Woods went on to explain his three pillars to successfully stand out amongst your peers. The three pillars are as follows:

1) Develop Irresistible skills.

2) Hack the hiring system.

3) Build a three-circle network.

He made sure to discuss each of these in as much detail as he could manage.

When discussing the first pillar, Woods mentioned that to highlight your irresistible skills it would be beneficial to talk about your skills and achievements over focusing on your certifications. He even went as far as to mention that you could even pre-plan a pitch to the company by creating your own mock posts to display your knowledge rather than simply walking into an interview with just a resume. The most helpful concept is to show that you can do the work rather than to talk about what you can do. Show don’t tell. Another concept that Woods mentioned was to build a T-shaped experience. T-shaped is when you can show that you have a variety of schools and are just a specialist it shows that you have more capability than your peers.

When it came to the second pillar, Woods mentioned that it would be best to tweak your resume each time you submit it to a future job prospect. This simple technique of changing the skills and experience on your resume to cater to the job you would like to have will give you an edge over others applying for the same position. He also mentioned a concept called the unicorn card. The unicorn card is a concept that highlight what it is about you that allows for you to be unique and memorable. It needs to be the one thing that you do that no one else thinks about doing. Two other tips he had were to make sure to endlessly follow up with companies for a job position and to get internal referrals to advertise your application from inside the company. These will also tip the scales in your favor when it came to the hiring decision.

For the last and final pillar, he mentioned that you needed to build a three-circle network. It would start with your inner circle which comprised of your role models and mentors and have it grow naturally from there. The second circle consisted of a professional network. This could comprise of a list of 10-30 people who are better at networking than you. The third and final circle consisted of the crowd. A good way to approach the crowd could be through social media posts or keeping up with a blog. It was at this point that Woods unfortunately ran out of time to add any more detail to emphasize his third and final, however he did mention that if you went to his website and added your name to his e-mail list he would send constant updates and tips through e-mail. This presentation would be available to you through that as well.

OU PRSSA is so thankful for Matt Woods to come out and talk to our members! He was an immensely eloquent speaker while managing to remain relatable and comedic throughout his presentation. We all enjoyed him so much that we even requested for him to continue when he mentioned that he was running out of time to present. Hopefully, these tips will help you with your internships as well! We will see you again at our next meeting on October 24, 2017! Until then, take care!