6 Ways to Manage Your Stress in the New Semester

A new semester brings lots of excitement with it. It brings new classes and experiences, but it also brings lots of work and obligations. It’s easy to get quickly overwhelmed by schoolwork and extracurricular obligations and become extremely stressed out. I’ve definitely found myself flooded by stress before, so I decided to share some of my tips for managing stress for anyone else who is bogged down!

1. Leave Time for Things You Enjoy

Even when you feel like you are drowning in work, it’s important to take time to indulge in activities you enjoy. Studies show that when you are working on a project or studying, taking a short break every hour will actually increase your productivity. It is also important to build larger chunks of time into your schedule for leisure activities. For example, taking time to watch an episode of your favorite TV show  or reading some of the new book you just got. It helps to physically schedule out your time using a planner, your phone calendar or whatever works best for you.

2. Get Some Exercise

If you are anything like me and dread the thought of going to the gym, then you might be groaning at this tip. Exercise is actually one of the best ways to relieve stress (as much as we may hate it). You don’t have to transform yourself into a crossfit star or a yoga goddess. Even something as simple as going for a short walk every day will help. Anything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping will work to bring your stress levels down. To quote the great Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!”

3. Dabble in Aromatherapy

Essential oils have been proven to have positive effects on the reduction of stress levels. There are a variety of different oils you can use and multiple ways that you can use them. You can use them with a diffuser, rub them on your skin or simply just sniff them from the bottle. Oils such as lavender, lemon and tea tree can help reduce stress as well as many others. Some places even sell different mixes of oils designed especially for stress relief or focus.

4. Hit the Snooze Button

We all know that getting enough sleep is one of the most important aspects of keeping your body healthy. However, what you might not know is that lack of sleep directly impacts your stress levels. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it actually boosts the amount of stress hormones you produce. I know it can be hard with late night cram sessions and 8 a.m. classes, but if you prioritize getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night, you will see positive effects on your stress levels and overall health and mood.

5. Give Meditation a Try

I know that when some people hear the word “meditation” all they can picture is a hippie sitting in the middle of a park repeatedly chanting “ohm.” In reality, there are multiple types of meditation and all of them are designed to help you relax. It can be as simple or as in depth as you want, it is just about finding the type of meditation that works best for you. There are even a variety of apps that guide you through the process if you don’t know where to start.

6. Focus On One Thing at a Time

It is incredibly easy to become overwhelmed if you think about every task you have to get done at the same time. Instead, think of each task separately, focusing on each task one at a time. Devote your full attention to one task and when it is over, move on to the next one. Focusing on one task at a time will help to increase your productivity and keep you from stressing over everything you have to get done.

This blog post was written by Gabrielle Sirois. She is in the digital department in Capstone Agency.

3 Hacks to Becoming a PR Pro

Most people think that living in the world of public relations is like living in the world of Scandal’s Olivia Pope, but in reality we don’t all get to wear the ‘white hat.’

Thriving in this industry requires attention to detail and countless hours of researching. Trends are always changing and brand reputations are constantly rising and falling. The integration of media marketing and communications is getting easier with the use of social media, but there is still some difficulty in deciding how to get the message across.

As I start my slow transition into the real world as a graduating senior in May, I have found a few PR hacks that have helped me decide what and how to get a message across to an audience.

 

Media is your new BFF

Working with journalists isn’t always easy, but is so important. They are your go-to outlet for all promotional updates and press releases. Always maintaining good relationships with media is the key to success. Instead of emailing a huge list of journalists, reach out to specific ones to form a personal relationship.

If you work with the same outlet more than once, it is beneficial to send a thank you card or even meet for coffee to show that you appreciate the positive press your client is receiving.

 

Influencers become your advocates

More PR agencies and companies are looking for influencers to represent their brands. Finding advocates who create relationships with their followers and your target audience is the new way to create conversation on all social media platforms.

Advocates with an original voice can shed a new perspective on your client or product that followers will want to be apart of.

 

Video is everything

From Snapchat, to Instagram live videos and even Facebook, this social media tactic has exploded. With the use of visual communication, companies can become more appealing to their audience. People like to see a product before investing time and money into it.

I found this tactic useful when interning for the Country Music Association (CMA). I noticed that more people wanted to watch what happened live compared to seeing it later. The use of real time allows the company or product to be timely and relevant. Plus this also gives time for you to respond to followers.

There are always unexpected twists and turns in the world of public relations, but I have found these techniques helpful in my previous experiences.

This blog post was written by Alexis Anderson. She is in the public relations department in Capstone Agency.

Musings on Productivity

For as long as I can remember, I have worked differently than others around me. If you have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) like me, you probably have similar experiences. Never able to start a paper or project and work on it slowly over time, I was prone to procrastination in high school. Back then I found that I was able to produce work I was proud of only when I completed tasks in one sitting. The issue with this method was that I had to purposefully avoid any and all distractions once I got in my zone. The tiniest disturbance would throw me off and cause me to forget what I was doing and move to something completely unrelated.

Without being cognizant of what I was doing, I perfected this method in college by scheduling my classes as close together as possible, in order to afford myself several hours or even full days of “free” time I could spend accomplishing tasks all at once. I developed a routine before these productive periods that included a short walk and placing my phone in another room. I made sure my laptop and iPad weren’t connected to my phone so I could never get a notification.

Until recently, I thought my method of blocking off time to work quickly and with no distractions was odd, but I continued doing so because it worked for me. Then I discovered a blog called “Faster Than Normal.” This blog is run by Peter Shankman, the founder of Help A Reporter Out, and it encourages people with ADD or ADHD to stop trying to cope with their diagnosis, and instead use it to their advantage. The first post I read was Step by Step: How I was able to write close to 30,000 words in 15 hours, and I was amazed at how similar his methods were to mine and how much I learned to make myself even more productive. His philosophy is that people with ADD or ADHD have a unique amount of passion and drive, and are able to harness that to maximize their potential with the right tools and mindset of avoiding distractions.

It can be frustrating when you’re having trouble focusing and those around you are able to stay on track no matter what. However, understanding that there is a method to your madness and knowing you aren’t alone in the way you work can make your life so much better. I wanted to write about the blog “Faster Than Normal” for this reason, because I know there are so many public relations students and young professionals with ADD or ADHD who could benefit from it’s helpful tips and knowing they aren’t alone. It’s alright if you work differently than others, and if you figure out how to work efficiently, you don’t have to cause yourself anguish by trying to be productive when it feels impossible.

This blog post was written by Emily Hillhouse. She is in the digital department in Capstone Agency.

5 Steps to Beginning Your Public Relations Career While at UA

Coming into college as a public relations major, I did not really know what to expect. I had an image of Samantha Jones from Sex in the City in my head, and the notion it would include a lot of writing and communicating with others. I never imagined all that PR could actually encompass.

As a college senior, I could not be more grateful to have attended The University of Alabama because I have not only been taught about the endless opportunities I can have in PR, but I have been given so many opportunities and experiences here that will help me later in my career.  

To all the public relations and advertising majors out there, here are 5 steps to starting your PR career while at The University of Alabama:

1. Utilize the experienced PR professionals that are your teachers

Your teachers truly want to help you and make connections with you, but they also want to help you make connections. They have experience and have been in the business for a while, so even if they can’t get you an interview for your dream job, they probably know someone who can.

Teachers also make great mentors. Schedule an appointment with them, and pick their brains about their previous jobs or the industry as a whole. They know what it takes to make it in PR and can help point you in the right direction to take your career.

2. Join an organization

Joining an organization will not only teach you more about your field, but it will look great on your resume. There are also so many opportunities to become an officer or join a committee within an organization, which will look even better on your resume and help you connect with other students. Networking with other students in your field is just as helpful as networking with professionals. These are the people you’ll be working with and you can learn from each other’s experiences.

Some great organizations to join are Capstone Agency, PRSSA, PRCA, AD Fed, Bateman Team, Plank Center and Alabama Forensic Council. These organizations bring in professionals for you to network with and give you hands on experience that will benefit you in your career.

3. Take electives that will boost your resume

As a PR student, you get the opportunity to take electives that are centered around the specific direction you want to take your career in. Do some research and sign up for the sections that work with real clients. This is a great thing to put on your resume and talk about in interviews, as well as giving you amazing portfolio pieces.  

4. Apply for an internship

There are a variety of internships you can apply for around campus and the best part is, they understand your class schedule. The university also offers tools like Handshake, a site where you can job search and apply for interviews. Simply applying and going on interviews will make you more comfortable with the process. You’ll be a pro by the time you apply for real jobs.  

5. Take advantage of every opportunity

The best things you can do are to get involved and apply to everything. Opportunities like an Industry Immersion trip or working a conference can open your eyes to so many different PR possibilities. It will help you create connections that can later get you internships and jobs.

The University of Alabama is one of the best places to study public relations, but your experience is completely dependent on how you spend your time here. Follow these five steps and you’ll have a great start to your career. There is a reason PRWeek Magazine has recognized UA as having one of the top five PR programs in the nation.

This blog post was written by Jenni Penix. She is in the public relations department in Capstone Agency. 

Capstone Agency Strategist Receives Most Promising Multicultural Student Award

Cassie Downey, UA senior and public relations major, is the perfect example of the phrase “you’ll never know until you try.”

Downey, along with being a full-time student, is an insights strategist on the EcoCAR 3 team at Capstone Agency and the social media manager for The Grit.  She is also involved in various campus organizations, such as PRSSA and Capstone Ad Fed. Having such a busy schedule, she was slightly apprehensive to add another thing to her plate when one of her teachers recommended her to apply for the Most Promising Multicultural Student Award.  

“It was a lengthy application that involved submitting six short essay questions, creative pieces, examples of social media, coming up with a slogan and hashtag for your personal brand and a letter of recommendation from an AdFed advisor,” Downey said. “I really did not expect to win.”

Despite receiving an accidental rejection letter at first, Downey received a call the next day letting her know she had been chosen along with 30 other graduating seniors from across the United States to receive the award.

The Most Promising Multicultural Student Award is an award given by the American Advertising Federation to students who promote diversity in their university. The top 30 applicants receive a full expense paid trip to New York where they are given a packed, four-day schedule of networking with top advertising companies, workshops, professional development seminars, industry immersion, interviews and a Broadway show. The week is concluded with an award ceremony where the 30 students have an opportunity to get on stage and pitch themselves to top executives using the slogan and hashtag they applied with.

Although this year’s event schedule has not yet been released, previous winners got the chance to meet with executives from Omnicom Group, Google, Wieden and Kennedy, Turner, Publicis Group and many more.

Downey said she is most looking forward to getting the chance to network with executives from such prestigious companies, as well as the industry immersion part of the week. Being a senior graduating in May, she is also looking forward to getting the chance to interview and pitch herself to some of her dream companies.

After graduation, Downey hopes to work for a international public relations agency that specializes in digital and strategic communication. Her dream job would be working for a company where she can utilize her Spanish minor and pursue her passion for digital communications she developed through Capstone Agency.

This feature story was written by Jenni Penix. She is in the public relations department of Capstone Agency

The Art of Personal Branding

Coming into college I was one of the lucky ones. I knew exactly what I wanted to major in and what field I wanted to pursue. However, that was hardly the battle. Although I knew what I wanted to do, I truly struggled with how I was going to get there. I felt as if my childhood self came out and I had this big dream career that seemed suddenly so unattainable and distant.

Needless to say I hit a plateau. Yes, I was involved. Yes, I made decent grades. But when it came to who I was as a person and what made me, me, that is where I struggled. You hear the terrifying numbers and percentages of how many people apply to jobs and internships, and how many actually get it. It was then and there as I scanned application after application that I knew I had to stand out. I knew I was funny, innovative and charismatic, but how could I convey that to the people reading my application without meeting them?

It hit me as I was meeting with my professor. Branding is all around us, especially in the PR world. If we’re constantly working on building up brands, why shouldn’t we brand ourselves? After that realization, it all made sense. Personal branding is a necessity in today’s job market. It is so easy to find and apply to jobs and internships online. Through personal branding, employers can get a feel of your personality and even your work ethic through a simple job application online.

The first step with personal branding is to figure out what types of jobs or internships you want to apply for. Before you develop who you are, you have to find who you want to work for. The next step to go along with that is to dive into research. Talk to professors, look at blog posts, stalk LinkedIn and even look at where the companies are located. The more you research, the more you will know how to properly brand and market yourself to your dream company.

After your research, assess yourself. What do you bring to the table? The key is to be honest. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, but really think and be creative when it comes to that. Are you organized, team-oriented, a grammar whiz? Really try and set yourself apart, because saying you’re a “perfectionist” is anything but original. I for one can get around in Adobe suite, but by no means should I be writing that I am an expert in Adobe on my resume. The easiest way to convey who you are to an employer is to be honest about your skill set, because that is the first thing they will test.

You must think of yourself as a package. From your social media, to your resume, to your business cards and all the in between. Part of the reason personal branding can be difficult is because there needs to be a common thread linking all of these different platforms to you.

The first place to start with your tangible branding is your resume. Your resume is often the first impression an employer has of you. The time for dull Times New Roman, 12 point font is over. Color can be your friend, as well as fonts and a unique layout. This is not the time to go completely wild and send a vivid pink resume to a straight-laced agency, but as with anything, know your audience and use your judgment. At the end of the day you can’t go wrong with a clean, organized resume. However, a hint of color or a design element here and there could set you apart.

Next, LinkedIn can be a blessing and a curse. Just because you “have” a LinkedIn doesn’t mean you utilize it. If your profile is not updated and your picture is from last weekend  where you had to crop your friend out, you may want to reconsider. LinkedIn is such a hub for networking and job-hunting with professionals it can even replace a resume on an application. The key is to include everything you have done, because at the end of the day your profile on LinkedIn can include a lot more than your one page resume. Follow the companies you want to work for so you can stay up to date on their actions. Include a clever but informative description of your current goals, whether it is job searching or simply looking to network.

All in all, personal branding never stops. You yourself are a brand, from your social media to the way you dress for an interview. Knowing who you are and being able to effectively communicate that across multiple platforms confidently is what will make you stand out amongst your competitors.

This blog post was written by Kerry Marques. She is in the public relations department in Capstone Agency. 

Navigating Reese Phifer: Six Hotspots Explained

If you’ve ever set foot in Reese Phifer, you know how confusing it can be. Parts of the building don’t connect to each other where you think they might. The main entrance isn’t on the first floor. Overall, Reese Phifer is a building that is difficult to understand and near impossible to master.

Here are a few of the most common places you might want to visit in the building C&IS calls home.

The Rotunda

The rotunda is the hub of Reese Phifer. When you enter the front door, you are in the Rotunda. This is a great place to start no matter where you want to go, because it has so many hallways branching off to many other locations.

 

PH 216

If you’re a C&IS major, odds are you’ve had or will have a class in PH 216. It is also the site of many meetings for C&IS clubs and organizations, like PRSSA.

 

The Commons

The Commons is a great place to go if you need to use a computer, print something or check out a book on communications. You can also rent out study rooms for meetings or group projects.

 

Tisch Student Services

Tisch Student Services is the go-to for all things C&IS advising. Changing your major, adding a minor, exploring internships and more are all topics you can learn more about by making an appointment at Tisch Student Services.

 

Student Lounge

The Student Lounge was recently renovated and is now back and better than ever! Similar to The Commons, the Student Lounge has conference rooms available to rent out as well as vending machines if you need a snack or a drink.

 

Capstone Agency Office

One of my personal favorite spots in Reese Phifer: the Capstone Agency offices. They are always filled with agency members working for their clients, socializing with other members and just enjoying the space on the first floor of Reese Phifer.

 

So, if you’re looking to explore some more of Reese Phifer, try one of the options on this list and get to know C&IS a little bit better!

This blog post was written by Emma Bannen. She is in the public relations department in Capstone Agency. 

The First Semester at Capstone Agency

You’ve made it into Capstone Agency - congratulations!

You just survived the first ever interview process we’ve ever had to conduct. That says a lot about you; out of all 155 applicants, you were selected to come onto this team. Amazing.

So, you’re here. You’re on the roster… now what?

Well, as a senior who joined on in January, I can tell you three things I learned about the first semester at Capstone Agency.

1. Learning never stops.

Capstone Agency has so many different facets to its operations, so I feel like I’m always asking questions. Like, I didn’t know you could come down to the Tank whenever you have a break to study until ten minutes ago. (It’s much quieter down there, and you’re surrounded by people with similar class experiences.) Or, I didn’t know there were so many elements that go into creating a cohesive design piece. (Color schemes seriously matter, people; more than I thought.)

That’s something I learned very quickly here--never stop asking questions. If you’re confused about something, ask. If you’re curious, ask. You’re not hurting anybody when you do. You’re actually gaining experience for when you have a real job down the road! This is a real agency, after all, and learning more about your field is a lifelong journey.

2. Stay afloat by staying organized.

Google Drive is stressful when there are too many files and too few folders. Do yourself a favor and star the files and folders you know you’ll need most often. For instance, I starred the folder for Plank Center (my client team) and for the Public Relations Department. I can access them easily from my Drive’s home page.

Also, go the extra mile and make a separate folder on your personal Drive. Put the things you know you’ll often need in there, as well as everything you’ve done personally to have for your portfolio. It’ll help in the long run!


3. Your connections are invaluable.

The people in this agency are the cream of the crop. These are all students who seek to make the most of their college career by preparing for their future career. As such, you’ll find some pretty knowledgeable, helpful and driven people.

Not only that, but they’re seriously fun!

This is your network. This is the baseline from which you will expand your connections in the field. You’ll be able to help each other within the agency and in the classes you may have together. However, never forget that while making connections is beneficial for your college career, making friends is even more valuable. Enjoy your time with them! I promise, it’s easy.

There’s so much more I could write about. But I’ll leave the rest of the story up to you. Your story begins now.

This blog post was written by Hope Todd. She is in the public relations department in Capstone Agency.