My Causerie

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." ~ Ronald Reagan

Questions and Answers for the Job Hunters April 12, 2017

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

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Spring is in the air and as commencement inches closer, seniors are working hard to land those first post-graduation jobs and begin their professional careers.

I often get a lot of requests to review resumes and writing samples, and I share a lot of the same advice I have heard from other professionals at conferences or through other professional development opportunities. Much of what I have shared with students pertains specifically to their writing, but I thought I would share a few other professional tips that came from a PRSSA conference a couple of years ago, but I think all are still pertinent today.

What do employers want?

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According to a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, leadership and being a team player top the list.

Positivity and confidence were also mentioned at the PRSSA conference.  They want you to be yourself, so make sure your “self” is  the person a company would be excited to add to their team.

Make sure you can demonstrate what makes you a good fit for the company; make your brand represent you! One suggestion to do this was to write down what makes you who you are. Identify your top skills. Then pick five of the most important ones. Then pick the top three you want a possible employer to walk away with from your interview.

Know what your goals are and how you are going to get there. For more tips, see the article on

What’s your digital footprint?

It is often suggested to Google yourself just to see what comes up; make sure it is positive. If it isn’t, what’s your game plan in addressing those issues should they come up during an interview? And start creating new content to strengthen your online presence.

One suggestion for professional social engagement included the following:

–Facebook: post two times a day

–Twitter: tweet 5-6 times a day

–LinkedIn: post two times a month

Although this is a general recommendation, keep in mind consistency and the content itself that you are creating or sharing is more important than the quantity. Be a part of conversations that are relevant to your industry.

Why is this important? Because networking is critical in today’s job market. A recent study found that 85 percent of all jobs are filled via networking. Although digital networking is a tremendous resource to professionals today, one professional who spoke with students as part of a PR professional panel reminded students that “people hire people.” Make sure you are taking advantage of face-to-face networking opportunities. Attend industry-related events, go to business-after-hours; in other words, get out there and meet people. Stay in touch with your connections too!

How do you prepare for interviews?

Be prepared for the standard questions…and the hard ones. There are a myriad of online resources to help you prepare for all types of questions including behavioral questions. This is where that advice to start your professional portfolio early in your college career comes in handy. You think you’ll remember every task, project and problem you faced…and overcame, but when you get busy your senior year, the previous three can become a blur. Keeping a running tally of these experiences can serve as a line on a resume or talking point to one of those “hard” questions. Make sure you review your files before each interview; you want to know your own story.

Research the company. Pour over the website, review LinkedIn profiles of those within the company. Be familiar with latest company successes and challenges. Your interviewer will be researching you; you should do the same. Make sure they know why you want this specific job and not just any job.

Send a thank you, preferably a hand-written card,  after every interview. If you do not get the job, consider emailing a thank you. Say thank you for the opportunity and ask if there is any advice he/she could share to help you in the future. Stay positive!

I hope these tips are helpful to our soon-to-be alumni. I look forward to seeing where each of them go in their professional careers…and I hope they come back to serve on one of my professional panels some day! 🙂

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.








Lessons learned are not always from a textbook March 20, 2017

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm
Image has been cropped.

Photo Credit: Biocat, BioRegió de Catalunya Flickr via Compfight cc Image has been cropped.

Attention all college students: the lessons you learn do not always come from a textbook.

In most college classes, professors have an attendance policy. My policy for an absence being excused or unexcused is not based on my judgment of your reason, but simply that you are professional in notifying me in advance that you will not be in class. I used to operate an in-home childcare business, but that’s no longer my job. I see no reason to babysit college students.

However, my attendance policy, along with how I conduct my classes and design assignments are created in such a way to help you strengthen your professionalism and your work ethic. Although having these innate qualities certainly makes it easier for you to succeed, I think they can be learned…sometimes the hard way, but  learned none-the-less.

Unfortunately, students don’t always listen to my words of wisdom. What? Say it’s not so! Oh, but it is so, which is why I bring in reinforcements. Whether it is through other professionals visiting the classroom or sharing outside resources such as this article, “5 traits employers really want younger workers to have,” they all strengthen my defense.

Although I disagree with the subhead of the above article, which says, “A new survey sheds light on the sought-after skills that can’t be learned in a classroom,” I do agree with the findings of the survey, which was conducted in 2016 by the Society for Human Resource Management.

According to the survey, dependability/reliability, integrity, respect, teamwork and customer focus are skills employers value most in younger employees. The structure of my classroom, course assignments and, like or not, my own strong work ethic, are all used to help you develop these skills. I encourage you to read the full article. In addition to discussing these so-called soft skills that are in high demand, the article also shares tips on how you can demonstrate these sought-after skills during an interview.

I also encourage you to not feel defeated if you have not yet mastered these skills because as I said, I do think they

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can be learned. There is so much more to learning than what comes from a textbook, and if you take the initiative, these soft skills can be developed and help you reach your professional goals.

Yep, no textbook rental fee required for these lessons! They are free for the taking, but it is up to you to take them. The job market is competitive–fiercely competitive. You have to bring your “A” game, and you know what? The game has already started. Are you playing to win?

Pull up a chair and let’s talk.



And the Oscar goes to… March 13, 2017

Filed under: ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm

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The Academy Awards on Feb. 26 had nine films vying for the top award of Best Picture. Whether your favorite film walked away with the Oscar or not, all the films offer great advice for public relations professionals. Take a look at this PR Daily post by Dee Donavanic, “9 PR lessons from ‘Best Picture’ Oscar nominees.” As Donavanic points out, as public relations professionals, “We help clients determine their message, decide which audiences we want to affect, use the appropriate channels and find the most effective ways to tell captivating stories.”

As you work on your feature story assignments, maybe you will glean some creative ideas from one of your favorite nominated films. Here’s a few of Donavanic’s PR takeaways that stood out to me.

  1. “Fences”–The PR takeaway: “In PR, if you have a strong message, you can similarly adapt it in order to reach audiences through a variety of channels—whether it’s through a blog post, YouTube video or other means.”The operative word here for students this semester is “adapt.” You have to understand that each piece of writing is different. If you are using the same message for your feature that you used for your news release, you want to make sure you understand the differences. When I was in the Army, I heard the adage “work smarter, not harder,” and that is certainly applicable to public relations writers. However, if you do not adapt your news release message to fit a feature-style piece of copy, it will not be effective, and that means you are working harder not smarter.
  2. “Hell or High Water”–The PR takeaway: “Be strategic.”Donavanic reminds PR professionals to always begin by identifying your goals. If you are sending out a news release about an upcoming fundraising gala, what’s your goal? You probably have a dollar amount in mind that you want to raise. To reach that goal, you are going to need people at your gala. That means your news release should give your audience all the information they need to answer your call to action.I think some of you failed to look at your goal before writing your news release because you left out key information such as where to purchase tickets, how much the tickets are or even where you are holding the event. If you have a call to action, always make sure you provide the necessary information so your intended audience can respond.
  3. “Hidden Figures”–PR takeaway: “Use your team.”I like this one…a lot! As Donavanic said, “People with different backgrounds can contribute different perspectives and lead you to a solution that you may not have thought of on your own.” If you are working on a campaign, don’t shy away from asking for help early in the planning stages. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Teamwork is essential in the public relations industry; learn to be a good team player.This can apply to your writing assignments also. Taking part in the revision process allows you to brainstorm ideas with others, which can make your copy more effective. If you have not been taking advantage of this process, you are, essentially, submitting a draft as your final copy. That probably doesn’t meet the “work smarter” criteria. Use your team.
  4. “Moonlight”–PR takeway: “Get up close and personal.”This hits the nail on the head for those of you still working on your feature stories. If you are using the same message as you did with your news release, this is where you dig deeper to find the backstory. Grab your audience’s attention, pull them into your story.Using the previous fundraising gala example,  the news release shares the basic information about the event with your audience, but your feature story needs to get personal. Tug at some heartstrings, paint a vivid picture for your audience–give them a reason to want to support your cause.
  5. “LaLa Land”–PR takeaway: “Persistence is the key to results.”This is a great one to end with for students because at this time of the year, you can start feeling worn down, but I want to encourage you to hang in there. It might mean starting early on writing assignments so you have time to submit one, two or even three drafts–be persistent. It might mean you are taking those baby steps toward landing your dream job by seeking out one, two or even three internships–be persistent. You will see a return on your investment, but you have to be persistent.

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.





Career Development Day Success February 27, 2017

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm

1PRSA-St. Louis and PRSSA-SIUE collaborated on another successful Career Development Day giving students from Illinois, Missouri and even Kentucky a chance to learn from some of the best communication professionals across the country.

Paul Spooner, PRSA-St. Louis president-elect, opened the event with a reminder to 3students of the doors their PRSSA membership will open for them as they pursue their careers. Many of the professionals speaking throughout the day affirmed Spooner’s statement as they shared stories of how their PRSSA/PRSA memberships have impacted their professional success.

The morning keynote speaker was David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman4 Group and author of “No Cape Needed: The simplest, smartest, fastest steps to improve how you communicate by leaps and bounds.” Grossman shared advice regarding respectful authenticity. He also surprised everyone with a free copy of his book, and he even conducted an impromptu book 6signing after his presentation.

Afternoon keynote speaker, Travis Sheridan, President of CIC Venture Cafe Global Institute, talked about the importance of diversity and collaboration among industries. From a global perspective to individual advice using a nursery rhyme that explained why you need a butcher, a 8baker and candlestick maker, his energy was contagious.

There were also two informative professional panels. The first panel gave students the opportunity to learn more about real-world jobs in the communications industry, and the second panel shared advice with students regarding the various career advancement options they could consider as young professionals.

The day-long conference wrapped up with a professional speed networking session that allowed students to talk one-on-one with professionals from a variety of different sectors of the communication industry including public relations/marketing agencies, retail, corporate, government, healthcare, nonprofit, education and entertainment.

We’ve talked about the importance of ROI in class, and I would venture to say all the students who decided to spend $25 to attend this conference saw a tremendous return on their investment!

If you attended Career Development Day, what was your favorite part?

Pull up a chair and let’s talk.





Last Chance to Register for Career Development Day February 20, 2017

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm

Stop waiting for things to happen; make them happen!

Photo Credit: sarah dinu Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: sarah dinu Flickr via Compfight cc

That’s just one piece of advice shared in the article “5 professional development tips for college students,” and if you want to heed this advice, today is your lucky day!

Today is the last day you can register for the PRSA-St. Louis Career Development Day, hosted by the PRSSA-SIUE Chapter on the SIUE campus. Registration for students is only $25 and includes breakfast and lunch. If you are a member of PRSSA-SIUE, the Chapter will also reimburse you $10 of the registration fee.

Getting two meals in one day that consist of more than Pop-Tarts and Ramen noodles is probably deemed a win by most college students, but attendance at this Friday’s Career Development Day will do so much more than just feed your belly.

You’ve heard it multiple times: It’s important to network! Who you know could be the deciding factor between you and someone else getting that job you are going after. If you are early in your college career and thinking you have plenty of time, read this article, “4 things networking can help you do (besides get a job)” for more motivation to step up your game. As the article says, “There’s no excuse to not be networking,” and considering Career Development Day is right here on the SIUE campus, there really is no excuse! Have you registered yet? No? Why not?

According to Jason Weingarten, co-founder and CEO of talent acquistion software Yello, “If soon-to-be grads are just starting their job search, they are already behind. As early as freshman year, college students should begin building their networks by attending club events, networking with faculty members, securing leadership roles within campus organizations and lining up internships.”

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have plenty of time to network before you graduate. Instead of sleeping in this Friday, why not take the initiative and register for Career Development Day? Make things happen!

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.


Choose your classes wisely February 13, 2017

Filed under: ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm
Photo Credit: Leonard J Matthews Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Leonard J Matthews Flickr via Compfight cc

As you look ahead to your coursework, consider what classes will best advance your career goals. This applies to the classes you take within your major and in choosing your minor and electives.

For example, take a look at “10 things young PR pros need to stop doing to get ahead.” All the tips offer sound advice for young professionals, but there are a few I want to point out to you.

No. 5: Ignoring the numbers. You have to understand the business of your clients and this includes understanding data and analytics. Don’t shy away from business or marketing courses that could help strengthen your understanding of the numbers game.

No. 6: Monitoring for stories, not trends. You can practice this now. As you look for story ideas for writing assignments this semester, consider current trends. This is what produces publishing opportunities.

No. 8: Being a generalist. Once again, with so many facets to the public relations industry, consider classes you can take to help build your expertise in a specific sector of the industry. Whether that be crisis communication, healthcare, finance or something else; be strategic in the classes you take. You want to make yourself marketable.

No. 9: Accepting the existing process. Young professionals can bring a wealth of knowledge to a project especially when it comes to the use of technology. You are avid users of technology, now learn how to use that knowledge in your chosen career. Sign up for the social media for PR class to learn more about how to use the different platforms from a professional standpoint instead of just to take cute selfies!

These are a few suggestions that can help make the most of your college classes. Remember you are pursuing a career in public relations–as No. 4 points out, it’s about building relationships. That is something you should be doing now. So grab that cup of coffee and meet a mentor.

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Photo Credit: jeffdjevdet Flickr via Compfight cc

I have one last piece of advice: stay organized. That way No. 10 won’t slip away from you!

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.




Celebrating Valentine’s Day like a pro…a PR pro! February 6, 2017

Filed under: ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm
Photo Credit: ara_shimoon Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ara_shimoon Flickr via Compfight cc

As a student studying public relations, you may start seeing everyday situations differently. Problem solving might become more strategic, purchasing decisions analyzed more closely and holiday marketing might have a different perspective when viewed through your rose-colored PR glasses. Let’s take Valentine’s Day as an example.

You have to be proactive in your planning, but if a student organization you are involved in is doing any kind of campus or community project relating to Valentine’s Day, it could serve as an opportunity to pitch the story to the campus or local newspaper. Take a look at the tips on “How to Pitch Valentine’s Day” from the Tin Shingle.

If using Valentine’s Day for an assignment doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, then maybe you want some gift ideas. With juggling coursework, internships, jobs and deadlines, you might want to show a little love to yourself this Valentine’s Day. Here’s a unique list of Valentine’s Day gifts that an up and coming PR pro like yourself might enjoy.

If you aren’t into gift buying for Valentine’s Day, maybe you’ll enjoy sharing this top 10 list about why you love PR! It’s also a great reminder of all the different career opportunities available to public relations professionals. What’s not to love about that?

Speaking of different career fields, here are some “Valentine’s Day PR tips for hoteliers and hospitality pros” or take a look at this list of some of the “Top Valentine’s Day PR Stunts” of 2016. All of these stories point to creativity, one of the most-loved characteristics of the public relations industry.

What do you love about your future career? Pull up a chair and let’s talk.




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