Graduation Time

22 04 2009

graduation-capGraduation is in about 2 weeks for most college students. I cam across this post on the Creative Career titled: Graduation is approaching – Still looking for a job? I found this post very useful not only for graduates, but for all college students.

One thing that the post talks about is the power of networking. The post says to give the online job sites a rest and get to know real professionals. Get on twitter, comment on other blogs, go out to coffee, go to networking opportunities and set up informational interviews. This advice is useful for all students and is something that Clemson PRSSA and Dr. V have stressed here at Clemson University. Myles Golden, a career strategist, was a guest speaker in my negotiation class and he said that 85% of jobs are found through networking. This is so true. you need to be more than just a piece of paper. Meet professionals and give them a face to put with a name.

Another useful tip for all students, not just graduates is to pump up your digital knowledge. Many employees expect younger generations to know the latest technologies and want us to teach them. Sharpen your skills and familiarize yourself with a variety of online sites like blogs, microblogging sites, and other social media sites. Delve into it and teach yourself.

I definitely recommend this post to anyone wanting to know how to better market themselves in today’s job market.

Good luck to all the 2009 graduates!

Feature Writing 101

20 04 2009

In earlier post I introduced feature writing as a beneficial skill for PR practitioners to know. Often the news about clients can be considered as feature, therefore it is essential to know how to write one. This week in Dr. V’s class (@prprof_mv) we will be editing features and putting together the Clemson Communication Studies Department Newsletter.

I interviewed Stephanie Harvin, features editor of The Post and Courier, to get some tips on writing features. The interview is as follows:

Q: What makes a good feature story?

A: A good feature story is just like a news story, it contains elements of news, but is generally an expanded version giving more about what the news means. For instance, a news story about recycling will tell you the hottest tip on recycling, but a feature story will incorporate more people, more facts, and more context for the story. It will also have more photos and graphics attached to it to give it a reader-friendly approach.

Q: What is the most important thing that all feature stories should have?

A: An element of surprise. Features don’t have to be read by anybody, so the language and the idea should engage the reader’s emotions or interests quickly and reward them for reading.

Q: How do you come up for ideas for stories?

A: They come from all kinds of sources, but they should be about something that is happening in your community. They should go from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Q: Some people say that you should never put yourself in your stories. Is this always true? What is your policy at The Post and Courier on first person features?

A: No. With the impact of social media on print, we are relaxing some of the first-person rules to be more reader-friendly. More readers want to engage with a person they recognize rather than an impersonal and remote reporter. But you still have to tell the story from a balanced perspective.

Q: What is the best way to structure a feature?

A: The structure comes from the way you decide to tell the story. Some stories are narratives, some straight news structure, some intros plus bullets or Q&A’s. There are also good charticles – articles done in a chart – that make good features. There is no one structure that fits feature stories so you have to master a number of them.

Q: Do you believe subheadings make for a good feature structure?

A: Subheadings are just one of the tools we use to break up masses of gray type. They should add to the value of the story, though. Again, these should follow the structure, and not be a worry by themselves.

Q: Some people like to insert bullets and other punctuation devices to make their stories “scannable” at times? What is your policy on this?

A: The more you break up a long story into boxes, briefs, bullet points and easy to scan points, the better it will be. The main thing is to have different information in all these various forms, and not repeat the main story in them. You should choose one of these devices per story, though, so you don’t confuse the reader.

Q: What makes or breaks a feature story?

A: A good feature story should engage the reader from the first word, and a good one uses a strong theme and clean writing to make its point. It should never vary from its task, although the path can meander a bit. What breaks a feature story is a lack of clarity on the writer’s part. If the writer doesn’t really know why they are writing the story, it doesn’t matter how much they write or interview, it will still be a mess.

Are these tips useful? Why do you think feature writing is an important skill for PR practitioners to have?

Applying for PR Jobs and Internships out of College

6 04 2009


Recently I have been applying to a lot of internships. I came across a post from CareeRealism about what not to do when writing cover letters and resumes and think that it is very helpful.

Cover letters and resumes are the most important thing when applying for jobs or internships. They help you get your foot in the door. If you don’t have a well written cover letter or resume, you may not even have the chance to meet the internship coordinator or job seeker in person. CareeRealism discuses 3 don’ts when it comes to cover letters and resumes.

  1. Don’t send out cover letters or resumes with typos or formatting errors. Have someone else proofread for you.
  2. Don’t be self-absorbed or pretentious in your cover letter. The cover letter should be about the company. Show how your experience relates to them.
  3. Don’t use a multi-page resume right out of college. You just don’t have that much experience. Keep it short and simple and only put the relevant experiences on it.

I think these tips are very useful and will help when applying for jobs and internships. Remember that your cover letter and resume are your foot in the door. They are the first step.

From my personal experience with resumes and cover letters and speaking with PR professionals I have added a few Do’s to CareeRealism’s list of Don’ts.

  1. Make your resume scanable. Use headings to divide your resume into sections. Companies will get thousands of resumes for job and internship postings. Most likely they will only spend a few seconds reading your resume. Therefore, make sure it is easy to read.
  2. Don’t use fancy fonts or formats when writing cover letters and resumes. Make them as easy to read as possible. The more professional they look the better.
  3. Before writing your cover letter, research the company you are applying to. In your letter comment on their clients or perhaps a campaign they worked on and comment on this. As CareeRealism stated relate yourself to THEM.
  4. If you are submitting a paper copy of your resume or cover letter, print it on a quality paper. Some people recommend an off-white paper, but as long as its a resume paper you should be fine.

I hope these hints help you when applying for jobs and internships. Good luck!

Comment about the USA Today Collegiate Readership Program

1 04 2009

I posted a comment on Lauren Gaulin’s post about the USA Today Readership Program on Clemson University’s campus.  This program provides The USA Today and NY Times free of charge to students Monday-Friday.  I think this program is a great idea!  Student government hopes that it will help to increase the number of informed citizens.  Also, it looks very good when someone visits campus to see that Clemson students read these 2 prestigious papers.  Comment on Lauren’s post and give her your thoughts.

Comment on How do you Explain PR?

1 04 2009

Fellow classmate Cara Mitchell wrote a very interesting post on explaining what PR is.  We have learned many definitions in our PR classes, but often these can cause confusion.  Check out the comments on the post and post your thoughts as well.