Online Resources for Graphic Design

Graphic design of a laptop

By Claudia O’Brien

As a graphic designer, having a foundational knowledge of graphic design principles is essential but can always be helped with tools and resources. 

“We live in an age where there is endless information and material provided by renowned designers and artists online for free.” – Claudia O’Brien

I believe using this online field of information to an advantage is essential to any design student looking to advance their skills. In this blog, I will feature several of my most favored resources online.

Chico State’s Adobe Creative Cloud

I shouldn’t write a blog about this topic without mentioning our university’s prepaid subscription to Adobe. Adobe Creative Cloud is a subscription package that enables access to all Adobe software, fonts, free images, and more. If you’re a student enrolled at Chico State, all you need to do is submit a request to the university’s IT support team and download the Adobe Creative Cloud dashboard. The university offers this service completely free for students.

Colors

Sometimes knowing color theory isn’t enough to create an appealing set of hues right out of your head. My first go-to is Coolors.co. Fabrizio Bianchi founded the website and is a web developer known for creating exceptional and contemporary websites. 

The biggest sell on this particular site is its highly interactive color palette generator. The generator displays attractive color palettes that can be randomized to another color palette, customized by individual hue, be tested for color blindness/accessibility, and many more features on the same web page. Each generated color has its color codes on display for users that are looking for the most suitable hues for screens and printing. Besides the generator, the website has other unique features: hundreds of palettes created and shared by other users, a tool for picking colors from images, and a contrast checker.

Free Images

Free images are classified as public domain- they do not require copyright and royalty fees. Unsplash.com is a beginner-friendly site that has many high-quality free images. The website does not require users to make an account, and there is no limit on the number of images you can download. The images are categorized by themes of Travel, Nature, Business, etc. The site also offers a search engine. When clicked, each photo lists the photographer’s name, the location, and the type of camera used.

Mockups

A mockup is a model meant to display a product or design. An example is a design that has been digitally applied to an image of a T-shirt. When a design is shown to a client, they want to see what the design looks like on the product, not just the design by itself. Mockups can be created within Adobe software, but that takes time and skill. Smartmockups.com offers many customizable mockups free of charge. Users can upload their design to any of the offered images and 3D models and download a JPEG of a completed mockup image.

All in all, countless more free resources are available. I encourage any designer to take advantage of them, as they are there to be used! If you’re interested in learning about more design resources, this article provides various websites to check out.

How To Photograph For An Interview

By Thalia Avila

Great news! You just finished an interview, but now you need to add a photo to complete the story. Snapping a great photograph of a subject can seem intimidating at first, but fear no more. I hope that after reading this blog, your confidence will boost and intimidation will no longer be a factor.

Before you begin the photo session, start out with an email. Remember, email etiquette is important and needs to have a professional tone, clear wording with direct questions. The next step will be to set a date for the interview. After finishing up the interview, make sure to spend five minutes at the end to set a time and location for the photo session. 

If the subject is being photographed outside, the element of time is your best friend! Make sure to schedule the session in the early morning or evening to get the best lighting possible. As the subject is being photographed, make sure to keep the conversation comfortable and flowing. Ask your subject about their hobbies and interests. If their kids are brought up in the conversation and they smile, keep them talking! Observe how your subject reacts when asked how they feel about coming home to their dog or cat later. Always be mindful of the subject of the story. Integrate humor if it is appropriate, and always create a welcoming environment for your subject. 

Be mindful of your subject’s time and schedule. Photo sessions should only last about 30 minutes. Within the 30 minute window, you will want to capture as many different angles and positions possible. Do not hesitate to ask your subject to move to another bench or place in order to get the best landscape in the background or lighting. To wrap things up, make sure to thank them for their time.

Always follow up immediately after your session.  Start to sort through the photos right away to immediately eliminate the bad ones. Narrow it down to 10 photos and then five.  Once you have five great photos, make sure to send them to your subject. Sometimes the subject will pick two or three photos they are stuck with and will let you decide from those. Lightly edit the photo of their choosing if they have any concerns, and then share the final product to confirm.

Lastly, remember photographs are an important part of the story. Getting a great photo of the subject can help the story speak louder. What is an interview without a great photograph?

Overview of key tactics:

  • Email etiquette with professional tone, clear wording, and direct questions
  • Set a date for the interview
  • Lighting is everything
  • Create a comfortable and fun environment
  • Be mindful of their time and schedule
  • Keep it to 30 minutes
  • Play around with different angles and positions
  • Pick 5-10 photos
  • Follow up after the session
  • Narrow it down to five photos
  • Share final product for confirmation

3 Things I Learned From Tehama Group Communications

By Benjamin Goldberg

Stepping into an internship that I knew almost nothing about, I took it upon myself to become acclimated with the environment and learn the essentials of becoming a professional Account Executive. At first, it felt as if the stress never ended and the feeling of being uncomfortable in a new setting kept growing. As cliche as it sounds, I was able to slow time down, gather all of my thoughts and emotions, and put everything that I was taught to the test. 

Here are three things I learned from TGC:

Time Management

Heading into my second semester of junior year, soon after being awarded dean’s list for the year prior, I thought I understood everything that needed to be done in order to stay on task. TGC quickly made me realize that the tools under my belt needed some improvement. Weekly tasks including team and client agendas, slide decks, timesheets, reports, and team member evaluations are just the base of what needs to be completed. As an Account Executive, you take on the role of the middleman between your team and your client, which also means constant communication, delegation of tasks, and running professional meetings. To stay on top of all of this, TGC has taught me to prioritize tasks based on timeliness and importance to the client. Once I began to prioritize my assignments and tasks as such, the light at the end of the tunnel began to shine brighter. The work I was producing was more thorough and to the best of my ability, making for a more confident self and client. 

Etiquette

Being from sunny Southern California, I never dressed in anything but shorts and a t-shirt, unless for special occasions. Even in my first couple years of college, with GE classes and online school taking up most of my time during the pandemic, there wasn’t a need to dress up. TGC has helped me realize that dressing for success actually helps one feel more confident, present, and attentive. Not only does it allow me to feel this way, but it also allows for the quality and presentation of my work to be more effective and professional. 

Teamwork

Without my team(s), there is no telling where I would be at this point in the semester. As an Account Executive, the sense of feeling that everything you touch is your responsibility creeps up on you quite often. Stress and anxiety levels run high, resulting in a poor quality of work. It is important to remember that your team members are there to help you relieve that feeling. TGC has implemented the standard of “don’t be afraid to ask for help.” Getting help is nothing to be ashamed of, but something to be proud of. It shows that you care about what you do, that you want to get better at it, and in the end, be able to help someone else who was in your shoes at one point. 

As my time at TGC comes to an end, I take it upon myself to reflect on the experiences I had and the lessons I have learned. Not only will these lessons serve me throughout the rest of my college career at Chico State University, but  also travel with me throughout my career post-grad . Everyone has to start somewhere, and to be frank, TGC was the best place to start. 

How to Utilize Your Campus Resources

4 tips on how taking advantage of campus resources can accelerate your education

By Hannah Sarwar

Many college students overlook the importance of campus resources while they are available to them. Hundreds of helping hands that are tailored to benefiting students are right at their fingertips. Resources are there to help, and are designed specifically to make their lives easier. This blog will dive into four tips on how utilizing campus resources can accelerate an educational career as a college student. 

1. Exploring Academic Resources 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the aid of academic resources on campus. From help ranging anywhere from skills workshops to writing centers, there is guaranteed to be a program that directly meets a student’s needs. More often than not, undergraduate school can feel overwhelming, especially with ongoing pressure of transitioning from online to in-person classes after the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking advantage of academic resources is something that can help ease the madness of getting a degree. For example, taking ten minutes out of your day to explore academic resources is a benefit that may surprise you in a good way! 

2. Take Advantage of Advising 

Many of us know the dreaded word “advising” from lugging our backpacks to our high school advisor while looking over future classes. Well guess what, college advising is not only different, but it is extremely helpful. Discussing future goals and pathways can be a large contributor to a student’s success. Whether it be academic, graduation, or even career advising, there is always someone on campus to help with personal needs. This can be extremely helpful for expected graduates to work on resumes and cover letters for future employers. Having a professional set of eyes on your resume is an advantage that will put a student ahead of their competition. 

3. Exploring Mental Health Services 

Self-care can often get overlooked by college students. Between the stress of passing classes, maintaining a social life, and allocating time for yourself, it can become intense. One way to combat this in order to find a balance between academics and personal life is to explore mental health resources that may be available on campus. Many schools acknowledge that students are stressed, and provide various resources that allow them to de-stress or even just talk about it. Some resources that are available on many campuses include free counseling, confidential support services, medical care services, de-stress centers and much more! With a tough transition back to campuses after the pandemic, many campuses are also offering virtual resources that students can access online. Self-care is an extremely important asset to take time for early on in life, especially when there are many resources that can help.

College can be overwhelming. Seeking help and taking advantage of the on campus resources that are available to students is a great way to combat stress and further prepare oneself for the real world.

– Hannah Sarwar

4. Attend Study Workshops

More often than not, various campuses will arrange study groups throughout the year for students in different majors to attend. This not only allows students to be exposed to various academic mindsets, but it allows them to connect with peers while getting adequate help in a subject they may be falling behind in. Study groups allow for student interaction while also helping improve academic performance. Looking into a calendar of upcoming study groups your school is hosting is a great way to kickstart a student’s performance in classes they may be feeling stressed in. 

College can be overwhelming. Seeking help and taking advantage of the on campus resources that are available to students is a great way to combat stress and further prepare oneself for the real world. For whatever reason, many students do not realize the impact that utilizing your resources can have on your academic career. By taking one step ahead and exploring what schools have to offer, one may be surprised with just how many resources they can find!

How to Tackle Unfamiliar Topics

By Victoria Hernández

In the world of Public Relations clients range from standard practices to niche fields such as government relations. Every business, organization, and public figure partake in PR one way or another. Take advantage of the flourishing field and find a career uniquely suited for your interests.

When working at an agency or job hunting, there may be clients in an uncommon industry. When you find yourself in a situation such as this, take a step back and assess the situation. The following features a guide of what to do when interacting with unfamiliar topics:

Gather what you know

Even if your prior knowledge is extremely limited, it is important to write down any and all information you do know about the topic. By doing this you’re able to get your brain thinking about the matter, while also creating basic points of reference for future information to latch onto.

Take advantage of Google

Although some resources may be unreliable, your primary search engine is a staple when attempting to acquire basic knowledge. Take a look at an online encyclopedia, articles, or industry news sites. By reading a bit about the topic, you are able to become familiar with industry terms and verbiage along with origin points. When obtaining base knowledge, Google can become your best friend.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

It is acceptable to admit that you don’t know something. Nobody knows everything about everything. It is important to put your ego aside and talk to someone knowledgeable about the topic. Asking an individual questions can create a better learning response for your brain. When actively engaging in a conversation with an individual you are more likely to absorb information and actually understand it. 

Fact-check before publishing

If you are unsure about a fact, make sure to obtain various sources conveying the same information. At times it can be confusing to know whether something is accurate when you do not know much about the topic to begin with.

All in all, it is important to show interest and motivation to learn. Don’t stress yourself out too much in attempting to learn everything about a specific industry. As you grow within your field, you will gain new experiences and knowledge as time passes.

You’re Graduating! Here Are A Few Tips To Kickstart Your PR Career

By Alexis Harvey

Congratulations! You’re graduating! You have the whole world ahead of you! But you are stressed! 

The months leading up to graduation are some of the most exciting times of your life, but they can seem daunting at the same time. After all of the excitement settles down, reality sets in, and you have some decision-making to do. Where do you go from here?

It can be difficult to choose what type of PR you want to pursue or where you want to go after graduation. Here are a few ways to make these next couple of months leading up to graduation smooth and headache-free: 

Finding your niche

The best thing about PR is that it is such a diverse industry. One of the most difficult decisions public relations students face is deciding what type of PR best suits their abilities. You should think about your personal interests and unique experiences to find your niche.

A niche is a combination of your professional skills, interests, and fields you want to work in. It can be a whole department of the industry or even a specialty, such as content creation in the realm of digital media. 

Begin by asking yourself a couple of questions: 

What are my greatest strengths? Weaknesses?

What do I love to do?

What do my peers say I am best at in the world of PR?

Some PR specialists thrive in content creation while others may excel in writing. It is important to immerse yourself in all departments of public relations during your time in college to better understand your strengths in the industry. 

Deciding what area of PR interests you the most

Along with finding your niche, it is also important to tap into your personal interests to figure out what area of PR you want to work in. As an intern or in an entry-level position it is important to take this time to expose yourself to all aspects of the industry to figure out what areas of focus you enjoy working on. 

You may consider entertainment PR if you have an interest in working in the world of television, fashion, music, or celebrity culture. Your role would be to represent and promote those within the entertainment world. 

Maybe you have an interest in healthcare but don’t want to become a healthcare provider. Healthcare PR would be a great match for you! Healthcare PR reps work with various health organizations, non-profits, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals. They act as liaisons between these organizations and the mainstream media. 

Technology PR is also a great position for those who enjoy keeping up with the newest technological advancements and gadgets. 

There are an array of PR jobs in different industries so it is important to find the one that is best suited to you.

Remember to keep going and not feel discouraged

This is probably the best advice anyone can receive after graduating from college. Yes, change is quite difficult, especially when it comes to graduating, leaving the place you have called home for the last four years, and deciding what to do next.

After finding your niche and area of expertise it is time to start applying to different jobs in different cities. It can be overwhelming in the beginning but it is important to remember to not feel discouraged. We all know how anxiety-inducing it can be to begin the interview process but it is also such an exciting time. You want to take this time to truly understand what you want out of a career and just because one company turned you down, your dream job may be right around the corner.

As a PR professional you have so many different options, but that is also the beauty of public relations. Being so new to the industry it is the perfect time to try new things. Remember that no matter what path you choose to take, all experience is a valuable experience, so don’t be afraid to begin your journey in public relations. 

How To Use Social Media Networks For Personal Branding

By Mia Taxin

The pandemic has forever changed the way we view business, entrepreneurship, and the media. In a world that was virtual for so long, online communication was the only way to form an identity for many. Thousands of creators grew during the pandemic, sharing their workdays, life advice, business experience, and niche of expertise in their field. Now more than ever is the importance of being educated on social media, and how you can use these tools to push your business or personal brand to new heights. Knowing where to begin can be difficult. Learn how to get started by reading the following.

1.  Establishing your Brand

If you are passionate about growing your brand or creating a lasting identity for yourself through social media, finding your niche is key. Establishing your brand as an individual or company allows you to have a stronger social presence. Forbes explains this concept by saying, “Creating branded content helps connect your customers or future customers to your company’s message and the value of services or products offered.” Not only does it ground your social precedence, but also allows your online community to easily recognize you through what you share.

2. Networking

Networking is a key way of gathering a following for your social platforms. It can also be a new way to gain attention from different communities. The New York Times writes, “Smart, relevant, timely posts can help you raise your company’s profile, especially when you use hashtags in a professional manner,” it’s not only hashtags that can grow your individual or company’s platform. The article also advises the importance of, “Building lists of influencers by industry and topic (these lists can be public or private)… get ideas on how to reach out and connect to them.” 

3. Knowing Which Platforms to Use

With over two billion users and 65 million active businesses, it’s no surprise that Facebook takes the lead on popular social media platforms. However, in the year 2021, TikTok surpassed what many thought of as growth, “Going from 55 million global users in January 2018 to 689 million by July 2020, according to Reuters.” While these two apps are heavy in video and text, if you aim to grow your business or personal brand on the visual side, head to the app store to download Instagram. With far-reaching hashtags, blank canvases, and millions of online communities, there are endless possibilities of how to represent yourself on the app.

Building Coffee Connections: Corporate vs. Local Business

A white background with black words the say "Tender Loving

It’s hard to imagine getting through a busy weekday morning without a cup (or two) of freshly brewed coffee. Whether it’s made at home, a chain or your local cafe of choice, coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the U.S., generating $5.18 billion annually. While this industry is booming, it hasn’t always been so successful and good public relations and marketing have had a big hand in its popularity.

When I got a job as a barista at the coffee behemoth Starbucks four years ago to support myself through college, I never imagined the impact that coffee has had on both my personal and professional lives.

Tender Loving Coffee is now my client this semester. They are a small batch specialty coffee roasting company located and served locally in Chico. It has been a huge learning experience to be able to implement my own PR strategies into both of these companies.

Starbucks didn’t become a household name solely by serving up tasty coffee and friendly service. A whole lot of PR and marketing campaigns help them stay relevant. I’ve begun to pay much closer attention to the promotional materials we are sent, the company’s social media posts and how they handle crises. (Red cup situation anyone?)

I’ve seen how the corporation takes responsibility for its actions and addresses controversy when needed. They make sure to send messages out to the company’s employees or “partners” to address major changes or problems in the company.

Tender Loving Coffee is a more intimate experience, which makes the PR pretty fun. So far, there’s been a giveaway on the TLC social channels. Winners picked up their prizes at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market, where the company sells their coffee in a mobile coffee cart. Being so connected to TLC customers and the Chico community as a whole is a very different experience in comparison to Starbucks.

With the rise of social media, many Starbucks stores have begun to create their own social media presence through Instagram. This helps to create connections with customers and give a more intimate look and feel to your local Starbucks.

I am the closest thing my store has to an in-house PR professional. After establishing the account, I’ve helped create content on the downtown Chico Starbucks Instagram. More recently, I have been documenting the store’s remodel, upcoming specials and developing a more recognizable aesthetic.

While the idea is to connect more with other Starbucks partners and the Chico community, there is a noticeable difference in posting for Tender Loving and Starbucks — even if they are both small accounts.

That’s a no brainer though, right? A small coffee company with less than 300 followers on Instagram versus posting for Starbucks, the multi-billion dollar coffee giant.

Posting on social media for a small, local coffee company is a more interactive experience. The customers are wholeheartedly supportive of TLC. They send direct messages to check on and communicate with Anna, the brains behind the roasting.

I think the idea behind having stores run their own Instagram is to make that connection with their customers like Tender Loving Coffee already has. Through maintaining their social media, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t for that warm, welcoming feeling Tender Loving gives off effortlessly.

Making connections with PR and coffee is about engagement, having empathy and being a part of a community. Implementing these has already made the downtown Starbucks Instagram and Tender Loving Coffee more successful and gives the companies their own personable identities.

Incorporating My Passion for Food into My Future

A photo of an assortment of fruit and other food on a plate with a bottled drink to accompany it

With graduation six months away, my mind is being pulled in so many different directions of where I could see myself. On one end, I see myself living the glamorous city life in San Francisco. On the other end I see myself moving across the country to North Carolina living a humble life on the lake with extended family members.

Both these situations are completely different, but I want to be immersed in something I am passionate about while utilizing the skills I learned in Tehama Group Communications.

I have been surrounded by cooking and baking my whole life. My dad has always had a passion for cooking. After his career as a golf pro ended he decided to start a catering business, Fuget About It Catering, out of our tiny suburban home kitchen.

Since then it has developed into an incredible business that spread throughout our community by word of mouth. He now has a commercial kitchen and multiple catering jobs a day to prove his success. We started working for him right away as a way to make some quick cash but it soon turned into an amazing learning experience in the kitchen. Cooking is a means to express my creativity and come up with meals using ingredients I would have not thought would be good together.

So, how do I incorporate these passions into my future?

According to an article in Economy Watch, “the food industry comprises a complex network of activities pertaining to the supply, consumption, and catering of food products and services across the world.” This includes the marketing, distribution and advertising of products. That’s where I am most interested within the food industry.

Human’s basic needs will always include food and water therefore the food industry has nothing but room for growth and a profitable future. The food industry is a trillion dollar industry with is wide variety of networks.

O’Dwyer’s released a ranking of the top food and beverage public relations firms and amongst the top three are Edelman ($116,626,00),  Hunter PR ($16,500,000) and APCO Worldwide ($16,283,000). These are just three of a list of 48 agencies that work with the food and beverage industry. These growing numbers prove to me that I can work to incorporate my passion for food with my personal professional goals.

So, what’s next?

Network, network, network! That is the number one word I hear when I do site visits and it’s the way I plan to weasel my way into employers minds. I hope to stand out within these lucrative companies by incorporating my passion for food into my application process and researching their projects that involve food in some way.

Hopefully, in ten years when I am looking through old files I read this blog and have a smile on my face. The smile will be a result of incorporating my professional goals with my passions for cooking and baking.

By: Miranda Carpenello