Break the Block

A blonde woman with her hair in a bun looking down in distress with an open laptop, notebooks and other supplies on a desk with her hand on her forehead

Writer’s block… more like a writer’s nightmare. Try these tricks to break the block.

Staring at a blank page for hours, days or even weeks can be terrible. Your brain hurts and your vision becomes blurry. Every writer’s’ worst nightmare is having writer’s block.  Try these tricks to get past your block.  

  1. Free write  

Write about anything on your mind, even write about how you don’t know what to write.  Write about your day or a dream you had. The goal of a free write is to get your mind thinking about anything and hopefully it will spark an idea.

     1. Take a break

Stop staring at the blank page. It will only make you go crazy and fall deeper into your writer’s block. Go for a walk or watch your favorite show on Netflix. Take a few hours or days off from writing. When you get back to it try to forget how difficult it was before and have an open mind.

     2. Brainstorm

Make a list of ideas. Start with broad topics and narrow it down to more specific ideas. The list should be from your stream of consciousness, so just bullet point what comes to your mind.

     3. Say “see you later” to all the distractions

That means turning off that cell phone and hiding it in a different room. Try to limit all technology unless it’s the laptop or computer you are using to write. Don’t have your favorite television show on in the background while you work. Stay focused on writing all your ideas.

     4. Get your body moving

The worst feeling is being frustrated with yourself for not having any idea on what to write. Go outside and get some fresh air or do your favorite activity to get your body moving. Exercise is a great escape for a lot of people, give it a try and clear your mind.

Lastly, when you finally get back to writing, forget about all the frustrations you had before because it will only hold you back. Best of luck!

By: Angelina Castillo

 

 

5 Tips to Ace Your Interview

A planner with a pink stick note of helpful tips for an interview and a flashcard on top that reads "Interview"
  1. Be confident

The saying “fake it until you make it” holds a high level of truth to it, especially for interviews. It is okay to not be confident internally. As long as you portray confidence externally you are set.

Giving off the illusion of confidence is all about body language. A strong handshake, a smile and good posture are three things that create the image of confidence. Also, be mindful of your body language. Make sure that you are not fiddling with your hair or playing with your clothes because this makes you come across as nervous.

If you want to be confident both on the inside and outside, give positive thinking a chance. Remind yourself of the successes in your life, this will help you feel more confident on the inside and that will show on the outside.

  1. Dress professional

I always wondered what to wear to interviews. Should I dress business professional, business casual or simply casual? There are two answers to this question.

First, dressing business professional is the safest bet. Looking your best can also increase your confidence level, while showing professionalism. Dressing up may also set you apart from other applicants.

Second, the dress code depends on the company and type of job. When I was applying for a retail position, I dressed in a white T-shirt, jeans and Converse. I knew the company’s brand which was keeping things casual and fun. I arrived at the interview dressed casual because I researched the company and what they were looking for in their employees. Note, this only applies to a slim number of companies and positions. For instance, if you were to apply for a public relations job, it is better to dress business professional.

  1. Prepare

(Image of planner and checklist for upcoming interview)

Being prepared for interviews shows the interviewer you care. Some ways you can prepare for interviews is to: practice answering typical questions, bring extra copies of your résumé and do your research. Before the interview, research the industry, company and position. This will help you answer any unexpected questions. For example, if I were to apply for a video game company as a public relations professional, I’d research the companies past public relations campaigns for their popular games.

  1. Ask questions

Try to ask at least two questions at the end of the interview. This will show the interviewer you were attentive and focused during the interview. If you don’t ask questions, it will be a missed opportunity to impress your interviewer.

  1. Practice

To ensure that your interviewer clearly understands your talking points, practice your lines beforehand. Read through your résumé and practice expanding on the points in your résumé. A lot of the time, interviewers tend to ask questions relating to your résumé. For instance, if you put that you had experience in a collegiate speech and debate team, the interviewer might ask about speech and debate. When you answer such questions, try to incorporate the skills you’ve learned from the experience.

At the end of the day, relax. As long as you’re prepared and confident, your chances of making a good impression are high. I hope you find these five tips as helpful as I did. Good luck.

 

By: Kim Cuong Nguyen

Time Management: It’s Not Just a Skill… It’s a Lifestyle

An organized, color coded planner with granola and coffee beside it with a note pad

BEEP BEEP BEEP…It’s 7 a.m. when your alarm goes off and the first thought is, “How am I going to do today.” As the day progresses, you begin to realize your list of to-do’s is growing and you are losing daylight to complete everything. By the end of the day, you struggle to finally find a peaceful night’s rest. The ever growing list of very important things you need to complete by a looming deadline never seems to go away.

As a student working to pay my way through college and completing an internship with Tehama Group Communications, my day to day life makes time management a must. Time management can have different meanings for each individual. For me, it feels as though I am achieving my highest level productivity. Below are the five ways that I make time management part of my life style.

How to beat your busy PR schedule:

  1. Write it down:

Write down everything that needs to be done for the day. This helps by making sure that you aren’t forgetting anything important by trying to memorize it all in your head.

  1. Prioritize:

Put the things that need to be completed first at the top. By doing this, you will be able to make sure that even if you don’t complete everything on your list you at least finished the most pressing and important!

  1. Schedule in breaks:

It is easy to try to push through the day without taking time for yourself; give your body and brain a rest. When you come back from your breaks, you will feel more refreshed and ready to get down to business.

  1. Cross it off:

As the day goes on and you are able to complete a task, cross it off. The act of crossing off an item can help alleviate stress of looming deadlines.

  1. Find a routine:

Staying with a consistent routine will help you make sure that you are taking care of yourself and the little things that become after thoughts on the busiest of days.

How you spend your day and the amount of work that you feel like you are completing can be a huge factor in the amount of stress that you feel every day. So the next time you hear BEEP BEEP BEEP, you will know that with a little time management the day is yours!

By: Taylor Pickle

Siblings Build Better Character

Elizabeth Ernster posing with her brother and sister on grass

When I found out I was going to have a younger brother, according to my mom, I did not talk to her for three days. On the other hand, when I found out we were going to adopt my younger sister, I could not contain my excitement.

 

I never thought being an older sister would be one of the most beneficial steps in my career. These youngsters have pushed me to the limit on multiple occasions and made me want to rip my hair out but most importantly, helped me grow into the best version of myself.

 

Here are the top four skills that my siblings have taught me:

 

    • Art of negotiation: With every fight, comes a compromise. My younger siblings have taught me that anything has a price. Yes, doing a week’s worth of my laundry definitely seemed worth it to my brother so he wouldn’t get ratted out for throwing away his report card.
    • Leadership skills: Having two younger siblings has shown me how my behavior can affect them. When being around each other starts to go haywire, I know just what it takes to settle them down before everything escalates.
    • Creative ideas: Babysitting on a Saturday night can get boring. As the oldest sibling, I have had to come up with new ways to entertain the youngins. My personal favorite was having them recreate a zombie apocalypse movie.

 

  • Patience: Having younger siblings is a test to your patience. Helping them with their homework has by far been the biggest challenge for me. With practice, I have learned to be patient when teaching them new skills and that it just takes time.

 

 

All of these skills have helped me become a better public relations professional. To be in this industry, it takes a lot of patience, communication and creativity to thrive. Having 21 years as an older sibling under my belt should be enough experience for my resume.

 

By Elizabeth Ernster

Moving Media

A strip of camera film against a blue background, gives the illusion that the film is moving, on the film there are three pictures of sunsets are are orange

With the ever rising popularity of social media, more advertisers and designers are embracing the capabilities and testing the limitations of digital media. These include features like sound, sequencing and interactivity, which can all be used to engage the audience on a different level. In the past, advertisers were dependent on static print pieces that their audience may encounter while flipping through a magazine or walking past a bus stop. Now, while scrolling through one’s Facebook feed, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the busy squares of color and music that make up advertising on social media.

There are many benefits from digital media such as the ability to convey concepts through time with things like animated posters or slideshows. This medium allows the creator to express an idea rather than simply imply it. Designers Josh Schaub and Eric Brechbuhl created an animated poster (below) showing the tourism aspect of traveling to Lucerne, Switzerland. While they could have created a static poster which implies the busy street, they instead animated the buses, creating a scene of choreographed chaos.

While eye catching and conceptually complex, moving media does have some drawbacks. If the content is on a moving object like a bus, then the animated media won’t have an opportunity to convey the complete message in the time available and would be less functional than a static message. Another drawback could be that the file size of moving media tends to be larger than that of static, which can cause complications when trying to be used on a mobile platform. This is because mobile platforms have more limited internet download capabilities than a desktop computer.

As the number of media environments continues to grow to include spaces like virtual and mixed reality, so will the demand for motion graphics and other forms of moving media. As we move forward, designers will develop and test new styles and techniques and begin to form the foundation for the future of media interactions.

By Giovanni Lopez-Quezada

Ad Campaigns Promote Body Positivity

A woman with tattoos and her hair in a pony tail kissing her boxing gloves

Companies are launching dynamic PR campaigns designed to motivate women to achieve greatness, whether it is being comfortable with their bodies or challenging gender stereotypes. Here are four ad campaigns that have positively impacted women of all ages:

 

  • Aerie launched Real in spring 2014, an ad campaign that refrained from retouching photographs of their models. Studies show that unrealistic, airbrushed representations of women’s bodies are negatively impacting women’s body image. This campaign was designed to show that diverse types of bodies are beautiful and change the perception that beautiful bodies are thin bodies. In addition to building young women’s self-esteem, it also boosted their sales 20 percent the first year alone.

 

  • The 2014 #LikeAGirl campaign by Always worked to challenge gender stereotypes placed upon young girls. Research shows that as young girls reach puberty, their self-esteem plummets. The campaign battled this issue by highlighting photos of strong, confident girls, in an effort to reframe girls unrealistic ideas about the “ideal body.”  This campaign is generating long-term brand loyalty by focusing on young girls who can identify with the campaigns messages and will need Always products for years to come.  

  • Barbie launched a campaign called Imagine the Possibilities, intended to show young girls that they can achieve anything. This video showed five girls playing with Barbies that represented what careers they wanted to pursue when they got older. As the video goes on, you see these girls become a veterinarian, professor, paleontologist and CEO.

 

  • Under Armour launched a global campaign called I Will What I Want that depicted photographs of ambitious women achieving their goals. This campaign celebrated bold women who persevered through  adversity and followed their dreams, regardless of backlash from others. With this global ad campaign, Under Armour gained a 42 percent increase of traffic onto their website.

 

Ad campaigns like these are improving women’s perceptions about their bodies. By showing diverse types of bodies, with stretch marks and freckles, girls are realizing that it is okay not to fit into the mold that society has plastered across the media.

 

With widening how they represent women in the media, these companies have gained more traffic and sales from the “normal” type of woman.

By Elizabeth Ernster

5 Ways My Blended Family Helped Prepare Me for the PR World

Taylor Pickle's family photo outside by a pool

PR agencies can easily become the people you spend the most time with and, in many ways, become your pseudo family. For me coming from an unconventional family background, I have been able to take those experiences and use them in a PR setting. PR life can be fast paced, hectic and unpredictable and so can families. I didn’t realize how well my family prepared me for the ups and downs of being a part of an agency until midway through the semester when there were deadlines looming and various projects needing to be completed.

  1.              Always expect the unexpected

Just when you think you have a plan you can always count on, the truth is that someone or something will come in and change everything. Being prepared for the unpredictable can save you from many late nights and your bank account from suffering those caffeine cravings.

  1.              Adaptability is your best friend

There comes a time when you have everything completed and put all your time and effort into completing a task. And, at a moment’s notice, things change. Being able to adapt to last minute or major changes will have a huge impact on how successful and smooth your life in PR will go.

  1.              Communication is key

We spend a majority of the day communicating with all different kinds of people and in order to get quality work done efficiently, having a solid foundation of communication will change your life.

  1.              There’s always a positive

In many cases taking away a positive can be hard to do, especially knee deep in edits and last minute client changes. But taking away at least one positive thing from the situation you find yourself in will help alleviate negative attitudes and unwanted stress.

  1.              Keep calm in a crisis

There are times when you can’t avoid a crisis. But, how you handle the crisis initially can set the tone for how you and your team will overcome it. Having the ability to stay calm when faced with a dilemma will help you in producing the best content possible for your client.

By Taylor Pickle

Four Necessary Elements of a Great Website

Someone's hands typing on a silver laptop with a black keyboard on a wooden table with a cell phone, camera and wallet surrounding the laptop

With technology growing increasingly important in our society, websites have become a big part of marketing. This causes many businesses to just slap something up on the web and hope it works, but there are some techniques to helping your website be more effective. Here are four necessary elements to any great website:

  1.     Aesthetically appealing

Websites need to have a tone that matches the feel of the website. The look of a website is very important; it tells your audience what you are about. For example, at Tender Loving Coffee, a client I have worked with, we spent a lot of time understanding what their company is about before developing their website. They are an inclusive, positive, fresh environment and we wanted their website to reflect those feelings.

  1.     User friendly

A website should be easy to navigate. If your audience cannot figure out how to find the information they need, then it is not a well-designed site. Websites need a simple design for anyone to know how it should work.

  1.     Call to action

If you do not have a purpose for your website, then what is the point? A call to action button or slogan is a vital element to any website. The audience should be directed to complete a task such as: donate to your cause, buy your product or learn information about you. There needs to be a reason for your website to exist or people will just look elsewhere for what they need.

  1.     Mobile-friendly

According to Smart Insights, 71 percent of Americans use the internet on a mobile phone. If your site is unable to be viewed on a phone or other mobile device, then you are missing out on a big demographic. It is very simple to add a media query into your coding when creating a website, and I suggest that you consider that when creating a website.

With so many websites popping up every day, you want your business to stand out. Try out these necessary elements when starting up a great website for you and your business.

 

By: Emily Rench

 

Three Steps Employers Can Take to Shrink the Gender Wage Gap in PR

A zoomed in picture of hundreds of coins

Even though 70.9 percent of public relations professionals are women, women are still getting cheated in the workplace. On average, male PR executives earn $125,000 a year while women make $80,000. The average yearly salary for gender nonconforming individuals and minority women is even lower.
Why are women making less?

Some believe that women choose to work less hours, prefer working jobs that turn out to have lower pay or have docile personalities that make it tough to succeed in higher paying jobs. These beliefs imply that women could shrink the pay gap if they worked harder. While working harder might help some women, it’s unlikely to help others.  Not all women have the time and resources to work harder, longer hours.

What can employers do to shrink the gap?

  1. Offer both parents paid family leave

The US is the only industrialized country in the world that does not provide paid family leave to new parents. Currently, women who cannot afford to take unpaid time off, have to choose between their children and their careers. It’s no surprise that women’s wages decrease by about 4 percent with every child they have. Providing paid parental leave to both parents makes it possible for both parents to share caregiver responsibilities. Mothers who share parental responsibilities equally with their partners have a much easier time balancing their careers with their home life.

  1. Flexible work schedules

Another workplace policy that holds women back is inflexible work schedules. Studies show that fields that offer the most flexibility with work schedules have the smallest gender wage gaps. This is likely because women typically take on more parental responsibilities. Mothers who struggle to balance their caregiver roles with their work schedules typically need more flexible hours. Unfortunately, those flexible positions tend to pay less.

 

For example, a mother might not be able to stay late at the office in attempts to balance her full-time job with her parenting responsibilities. This could require her to take a job that allows her to work from home, even if it pays less. A father with less parental responsibilities might have more time to spare, giving him the freedom to work overtime to make more money and possibly get promoted. Both partners work in PR, but the man has more opportunities to make a higher salary and gain a higher position.

 

PR firms have the opportunity to allow for greater job flexibility by giving employees the opportunity to work from home. This could prevent working mothers from having to quit higher paying jobs to take lower paying positions for more flexible hours. If companies want to help close the gender wage gap, allowing more flexible schedules to accommodate employees with busy home lives could be a solution.

  1. Hold diversity trainings

Employers can organize agency-wide, mandatory diversity trainings to show employees that the organization is committed to an inclusive work atmosphere. Studies show that organizational climates for diversity and sexual harassment are linked to whether or not organizations hold diversity trainings.

 

Diversity trainings can help by increasing individual’s awareness of their biases. This ultimately creates a more inclusive work environment by helping employees be more understanding and supportive of each other’s different backgrounds and home lives.

 

How long will this take?

These three steps won’t solve the problem of unequal pay overnight, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Written By: Hannah Stevens

Social Media Best Practices

Collage of smaller pictures that contain coffee, the back of a woman's blue curled hair photos and the road

Social media is invaluable to organizations these days. Posting on Instagram and Facebook are ways to reach audiences of all ages. People are frequently visiting social media platforms on their phones and this gives organizations an opportunity to advertise. It is an excellent opportunity for organizations to stay relevant to their publics. Constantly posting updates, information and photos is a way to reinforce your presence.

 

Here are a few steps to a great social media feed:

Step 1: Be entertaining but not over the top.

Step 2: Inspire your audience to talk, engage and converse.

Step 3: Provide your audience with information that is useful to them.

 

How to accomplish those tasks:

 

  1. Choose a theme and stick with it. Many companies center their content around certain colors or styles of posts. Try to keep your photo quality, colors, styles and content consistent. This allows followers to recognize your brand easily.

 

  1. Use relevant hashtags to make your content discoverable.

 

  • #MotivationMondays #MeetmeMonday
  • #TransformationTuesday #TipTuesday
  • #WisdomWednesday #WellnessWednesday
  • #ThrowbackThursday #ThankfulThursday
  • #FridayFunday #FeelGoodFriday #FlashbackFriday
  • #SaturdayShenanigans #ShoutoutSaturday
  • #SundayFunday #SelfieSunday

Use day-of-the-week hashtags because it gives the company a reason or excuse to post a photo. This draws attention to your company or your cause.

 

  1. Show followers behind-the-scenes footage of the company work atmosphere. This allows followers to feel as though they are close to the company because they get an inside scoop.

 

  1. Keep captions short. Posting interactive captions will engage the audience and get them involved, getting them to feel like they know the company. This can bring people into the cause. Keeping captions short also makes it easier for people to read the whole thing.

 

  1. Post highly visual images. Highly visual photos gain the most traction. Look for photos that are appealing to look and attention grabbing. These types of photos encourage viewers to stop scrolling and check out your posts.
  2. Engage with followers by liking, commenting and responding! This benefits both followers and the company because it is a way to partner and get the brand or name out there, thus expanding the audience.

 

  1. Avoid:
  • Trendy Slang (Bae, On fleek): Trendy slang is unprofessional and makes it appear like you are trying too hard to be cool. Additionally, not everyone will know what it means, ultimately minimizing your reach.
  • Posting too often. Aim to post two to three times a week. Posting too often can cause users to grow weary of the overflow of content.

 

Written by Christa Boyton