The Professional Internship Hunt

Think of someone you consider the consummate professional. In addition to perhaps well-worded emails and a carefully scheduled agenda, most people we admire have an “it” factor, a subtle finesse. There is something that makes them the type of professional that stands out.

When I think of professionalism, I think of one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite professionals:

“Three rules of success in fashion: perseverance, dream a bit, and be passionate about it,”-- Grace Coddington

Coddington, for those a little less obsessed with Vogue than I am, was Creative Director at large for American Vogue. Although she just retired this year, looking back on her work is inspiring; there is rich texture, luxury and a story in every photograph.

Grace Coddington is a brand.

I realize this time of year makes most students think of coup de grace rather than Grace Coddington. However, as we all embark on the seemingly never-ending quest for an internship, I mention this quote as inspiration to reduce the usual intimidation that surrounds a job hunt.

Persevere. Dream. Be Passionate.

Consider what was discussed in our previous full agency meeting:

Persevere:

  • Take a look at your strengths, weaknesses, and what you want out of your internship
  • They will ask about weaknesses, so be sure to have an answer ready
  • Review your resume
  • Use industry buzzwords, quantitative improvements, and client names to bring your resume to life

Dream:

  • Make a master spread sheet of every opportunity you want to pursue
  • Include company, deadline, location, type, letter of recommendation, samples, follow ups, ect.
  • When emailing people who have your dream job, make it count
  • Email should be grammatically flawless, respectfully humorous if possible, and concise

Be Passionate:

  • Express your passion for PR when you discuss Capstone Agency
  • Get specific about your achievements, know what it taught you, know how and when you applied that knowledge
  • Write well and write often
  • Have strong writing samples that show your range and strengths with emphasis on those samples that have been published

Find your own brand. Find your own “it” factor. That is what will make you stand out as a professional. Whether it is through a personal blog or a consistently witty email dialogue, develop a style that is your own.

I know this time of the year is stressful, but, with these tips in mind, I hope you find your dream internship, a candid sense of humor, and a little bit of Grace.

This blog post was written by Jessica Babbin. She is an account executive in Capstone Agency.  

 

Learning PR, Then Loving It

I don’t know about you, but I was one of those people who came into college not quite knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So naturally, not truly understanding what it was, I declared my major to be public relations. I have spent the past two years investigating what it means to be in the world of PR and this is what I have found:

When you are sitting at home with your friends and a commercial comes on, they look at you and say, “Hey, you’re going to be making cool commercials like that, right?”

Then there are the friends who believe that as an adult, your sole purpose and career is going to consist of social media. They imagine you sitting at a desk on your phone all day coming up with clever captions for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Whenever you find yourself at a family gathering, there will always be those family members who ask questions such as, “When am I going to see you on TV?” and, “Aren’t you going to be writing the newspaper?”

The truth of the matter is, although PR is commonly used interchangeably with advertising, journalism and broadcasting, it is something all it’s own. I remember the very first moment I ever got excited about public relations. I had just started my first internship at an up and coming coffee shop that was coming to Tuscaloosa. I was put in charge of running the Instagram account for the social media team. During meetings, I realized that there was so much more to this job than I ever would have imagined. We researched, brainstormed, planned and scheduled every move that was made.

After creating a graphic, writing the copy and posting my first official post, I found so much unexpected excitement in seeing how all of the moving parts came together and paid off. With the help of the social media campaign, this new business reached their financial goal which allowed them to officially begin the opening process.

Once I truly discovered what all PR has to offer, I fell in love with it.

I can spend my career writing speeches for political figures or handling the social media for a client. I can write press releases for a company or perform crisis management when an unexpected event occurs. The possibilities are endless.

The secret to loving public relations: Learn how to make it your own!

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

New LinkedIn App for College Students

Hi, my name is Amanda Perrucci, and I love LinkedIn.

Whether it is my nosiness or my slightly intense concern with how I am perceived on the Internet, I am borderline obsessed with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social media platform to grow your professional network, but many college students struggle with expanding their professional connections because of the sheer fact that they aren’t professionals yet. However, according to recode.net, more than 40 million college users already have LinkedIn accounts; it’s the company’s fastest growing user demographic.

In an effort to connect with the increasing number of college-age users, LinkedIn released a new app on Monday, LinkedIn Students, that has the potential to perfect the way college students engage on the social media platform. LinkedIn Students is a resource for soon-to-be college graduates and helps them find jobs, read relevant articles and connect with alumni.

When users download the app, they can either sign in with their LinkedIn account or create a new account. You are then asked several brief questions about your major, college and preference areas. The main purpose of the app is for users to swipe through recommended articles, careers of alumni and job postings.

If users are interested in the “ideas” provided, they can favorite the recommended readings or job postings, which are then compiled into “My Stuff” located on the lower bar. “My Stuff ” includes jobs you have applied to, saved jobs, companies, people and locations for easy reference.

LinkedIn Students is available for iOS and Android with easy-to-use features and the potential to connect college students with the networks they need in order to be successful.

Less than one hour after downloading LinkedIn Students, I have favorited three job postings and two recommended readings. My LinkedIn obsession is no longer just borderline. It’s reached an all-time high and I could not be more excited.

This blog post was written by Amanda Perrucci. She is in the media relations department in Capstone Agency. 

Why I Chose PR

Ever since I can remember, I had what my parents liked to call my “career of the day.” Much to their amusement, I would find myself switching from dream job to dream job as quickly as day turned into night. Although they frequently found my “career of the day” quite silly, my younger, naïve self often believed the job I had set my heart on for the day would grow into my lifelong occupation. Sadly, I could not have been more wrong or far-fetched in my career choices. Little did I know my pursuit of ballet would come to an abrupt halt due to a lack of grace and my gangly composure as a child. Or that my longing to be the next Legally Blonde would never come true because, let’s be realistic, no one but Elle Woods can solve a court case based on pure cosmetic knowledge all while wearing a completely pink outfit. At the age of 16, though, I knew I had finally settled upon a career to last me a lifetime: nursing. However, I quickly learned while volunteering at Baptist Hospital that my dreams clashed with a cold reality.

On my very first day of work in the neonatal intensive care unit, I was asked to sit in on a Caesarean section. No longer than two minutes into the procedure, I lay on the cold tile floor of the ER with my right arm pinned abnormally underneath my body. Apparently, Grey’s Anatomy did not prepare my squeamish stomach for the operation at hand, and I saw my future in nursing go down the drain. Upset and unsure of what to do with my life, I spent countless nights lying awake worrying about my future. Anybody that knows me truly well knows I am the type of person who likes to have her life in order, especially when it comes to career choices.

At last, I finally stumbled upon the career I wanted to pursue: public relations. All arrows seemed to point towards public relations. Not only do I enjoy networking with others, but I actually volunteer in the public relations department of a local, nonprofit organization, the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program. The experience I possess and the passion I am already feeling about my future career tells me I am making the right choice with public relations.    

In a perfect world, my first day volunteering at Baptist Hospital in the NICU would neither have abruptly ended with me fainting during a C-section, nor would my dreams of nursing have died. But without fainting in the NICU, I never would have realized exactly how public relations is the perfect job for me. Public relations will give me the chance to touch and change many different people’s lives just as my experience at Baptist Hospital changed mine. Thankfully, the “career of the day” girl is gone because she finally discovered her place in this world.

This blog post was written by Maret Montanari. She is in the account services department in Capstone Agency.  

Working in Multiples

I’ll admit it. I needed the hours. The financial benefits of remaining a full-time student at The University of Alabama being self-evident, I began my search for the most luxurious hole you can ever put in your own head: the extracurricular elective.

“I’ll take a language,” I thought, “I know about six French words.” I fancy my ancestors might have been French. I don’t know this; my Father tells me our family comes from Georgia. As in Coca-Cola, Young Thug, Paula Deen-Georgia, not the small soviet satellite. At any rate I scrolled through sections of French 101.

All were at eight a.m. All were every day.

“I’ve taken enough language,” I thought, “six words is enough to s’il vous plait your way pretty far in the old country.” I changed tactics. Looking down at keyboard, I searched for the answer in my spindly fingers. Surprisingly enough I found it. Creative people, don’t take it for granted when that happens. Everyone always told me I have “piano fingers”. I guess that means they’re long and thin. I take no offense or exception to this comment. It’s almost a compliment, but what a weird thing to say to someone: “You have piano fingers.”

You don’t tell people with thin wrists they have “Pringle wrists”. You don’t tell people with thick necks they’d give the guillotine a hard time. But they will tell you what instrument you should be playing. And maybe that’s good advice. I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and sign up for piano for non-majors. I sat back, satisfied with my not-too-often, not-too-early music class. That looked like the end of the story.

Once again, enter my father. A former high school band director, I thought my dad would be pleased by my choice to take up an instrument again. The next time I saw him I threw on a big stupid grin and told him all about my hard and fast life choices. He looked over his glasses and asked what experience level they expected going in. I stared blankly. I reiterated that it was a course for non-majors, and that we’d probably be tink-tunking out “row, row, row your boat”. The immovable object to my unstoppable force, he turned back with the same expression.

 “Yeah, but how much experience are you supposed to have?”

Now, the Internet is supposed to be the fastest, most efficient information tool ever created. I disagree. It takes more than just a connection. Googling something might be fast, but Googling something to prove a point is the fastest. After furiously navigating the Wild West that is a music department’s website (try it sometime), I returned the prodigal son. Experience was required and I was out of an elective again.

I’d call what happened next soul searching but comparing myself to a paragon like the prodigal son is self-centered enough. I knew I wanted to do something practical. I knew I wanted it to be creative. Doodling is a compulsion for me. I always loved copying album art from my favorite bands in high school. Loved it, that is, until I ran off the page without leaving room for the “H” in an elaborate attempt at the first Rush album cover and hung it up forever. Well I decided to unhang it up. I signed up for Drawing I, bought my $75 dollar starter kit, no idea what I was walking into.

I’ve never been happier to have flown blindly into something since I flopped out of my high school pond into this one. I could go on about how art keeps me balanced and humble, and the satisfaction of marrying technique with intuition, but what I’m most excited about is what art does for me as student of the discipline of advertising.

The first thing my art professor taught us was to work in multiples. That is, don’t get married to one rendering of your forms too early. Size your subject up, take a walk around it, draw some thumbnails, make some light, airy sketches from the hip. Drink all of this in and layer what it teaches you down over and over again into new iterations of the same thing. This, in a word, is hard. Most of us are one-off sorts of folks. We sit down, usually right before a deadline, and hammer out one adequate version of whatever we’re doing. And don’t get me wrong, adequate is just fine for some things. But creative work is like giving birth. The best ideas you come up with, the cleanest executions you deliver, they’re your babies. And who wants adequate babies? No one wants adequate things coming out of them. Your work should be something you’re proud of. “Adequate” isn’t the word any client would want describing their brand, so why would you want it in your portfolio? We have all the resources to do what’s outstanding. We have all the resources to do what’s excellent. We have all the resources to do what’s most important in this business: make people not hate us.

So invest the time to make. Switch gears. Invest the time to edit. Switch gears again—I’m learning that’s an important part of the process. A Rembrandt never got painted by overanalyzing every brush stroke in the moment. Edit after you’ve made, or the temptation to throw out anything less than stellar will leave you depressingly little to build off (no matter how good you are at what you do). After you’ve done that once, turn right around and do it over, with one more level of insight informing your process. Not all iterations of a piece will break the mold or wow you in its improvement over its predecessors. I’m also learning that’s rarer than I’d like. But over time the previous iterations will show themselves in subtle changes, in the things you’ve added to your piece, or more likely in the things that are missing.

Ultimately quantity yields quality. That’s one of the best lessons I’ve learned from this department in 2 1/2 years, and I learned it weeks ago in copywriting class. Working with The Plank Center this semester has been an exercise in working in multiples. It’s been a lesson in creating, editing and reworking. When I can come up with an idea I’m proud of, give it room to breathe, then take criticism and integrate it into a better version of what I could have done alone, I see the magic inherent in what we do. The Plank Center works every day to make this industry better too, so it comes full circle. I’m thankful to Capstone for the opportunity to walk the walk. And, while I’m walking, you can catch me in Woods Hall every week, drawing mediocre still life after mediocre still life. Which is okay. Because one day they’re going to be great, and I can’t wait. In this case, getting there is all the fun.

This blog post was written by Harrison Martin. She is in the creative department of Capstone Agency. 

Schedule, Post, Engage, Succeed

Businesses rely on marketing to drive customers to their products and services. Social media marketing is one of the many subcategories that make up digital marketing. It is no longer just helpful for businesses and professionals to use social media, it is essential.

Social media marketing is exactly what it sounds like – using social media platforms to promote, market, advertise and push content. Whether you want to market a business or yourself, maintaining a successful social media presence is key.

While social media applications like Facebook and Twitter are great engagement platforms, they do not provide all the tools necessary to successfully grow and reach audiences. These four applications offer additional features to help companies fully utilize their social media outlets.

Crowdfire

“A holistic friend management platform”

Used with: Twitter and Instagram

Best used to: Keep track of user data, such as number of follows and unfollows. Crowdfire also finds relevant users.

Buffer

The best way to drive traffic, increase fan engagement and save time on social media”

Used with: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest

Best used to: Schedule content, post to all of your social networks, and create content

Constant Contact

“Professional emails that bring customers to your door”

Used with: Email marketing

Best used to: Manage email-marketing campaigns by offering customizable templates,

scheduling emails and managing email list. Constant Contact also provides insights to who is opening, clicking and sharing emails.

Hootsuite

“Let’s you do more with social media”

Used with:  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Youtube, FourSquare and LinkedIn

Best used to: Strengthen social media presence

Hootsuite offers eight different tools. The three most useful are the engagement, publishing and analytics.

 

  • Engagement: Users are able to engage with people across all social media accounts through a single dashboard where users can “create custom, targeted streams to see the conversations relevant to you as they unfold.”

  • Publishing: Automates social media content by publishing to maintain consistent presence. You can find, manage and publish content, while protecting your brand and tailoring messages to the right audience.

  • Analytics: Measures the effectiveness of social media outreach and campaigns. With easy-to-read and easy-to-share insights, users receive information critical to tailoring their messages to reach specific audiences and understanding their overall impact.

Companies and professionals that want to take their social media impact to the next level should consider using a social media management tool.

This blog post was written by Amanda Perrucci. She is in the media relations department of Capstone Agency. 

 

 

 

 

Searching for Internship Personal Experience

As the spring semester begins, most upperclassmen are on the prowl for summer internships. This quest is a fierce competition, and highly qualified students are fighting for intern positions at the top advertising and public relations firms across the country. As a sophomore, I’m preparing to look for internships for the upcoming summer and am finding that this process is not as easy as one would think.

I am from Memphis, Tennessee, which is a fairly large city that has a wide range of agencies and businesses. I have found that there are large corporations, banks and other financial institutions that have internships in the field of communications. The need for advertising and public relations is found almost everywhere, so if you are having trouble securing an internship in only an agency setting, try broadening your horizon and options. You never know if you will experience a line of work you love or even make a connection that could help you later on when searching for a job after graduating.


Keep your mind open and don’t be discouraged if you haven’t found one yet. Keep up the search and good luck!

This article was written by Ellen Clarke. She is in the public relations department of Capstone Agency. 

Client Meetings: 3 Ways to Make Them Count

More often than not, clients are not in the same city as the agency they are working with, which can make relaying information difficult. However, the power of technology has made  long-distance work relationships function. This is evident with Capstone Agency’s client, the Higher Education Partnership of Alabama, which is headquartered in the state’s capital, Montgomery.

Typically, we communicate with HEP through our account executive, Erin Brown, or with team conference calls. Nonetheless, communication via telephone and email sometimes isn’t enough and face-to-face interaction is needed. The HEP team traveled to Montgomery, Alabama for our first client meeting of the 2015-2016 school year on October 21.

First, we met with the HEP directors, Brett Johnson, Diane Causey and Gordon Stone. Once introductions were out of the way, our AE highlighted all of the work we’ve done so far and went into the final decision-making process regarding the new HEP logo. Meeting with the client is a great time to see your work come to life and gain their perspective immediately versus waiting for a response to an email.

After meeting with the HEP directors, we stayed for another meeting with a number of communication directors from various universities across the state. This was an added bonus because we got to meet the people who communicate and advocate for a specific university. Each team member formed a professional relationship with a university representative and will continue to connect with each other for the remainder of the year regarding Higher Education and what is happening on their campuses. Meeting these professionals allowed us to network represent not only Capstone Agency, but also ourselves.

Here are some tips that we found helpful for client meetings:

  1. Prepare to be on the same page: When working with a team, it is so important to communicate clearly and have everyone informed. This is especially important when you are about to relay your hard work to the client. Make sure to meet before the meeting and know each person’s talking points so everyone is equally informed on the client and the team’s strategies and ideas.

  2. Take notes: Remember to write down the important stuff. Typically, client meetings are long and it is difficult to remember all the facts. This is especially true if a client wants to change an approach or a color scheme; it’s easy to forget all the important details. Taking notes will help spark your memory when your team members meet next.

  3. Be an active listener and share your ideas: When client meetings are long, staying in tune can be difficult. It’s natural to get sidetracked and lose focus. Remember to be an active listener and focus on what the client is saying. Doing this will help you take great notes and better understand their needs. Actively listening can also spark the light bulb. If an idea comes to mind be sure to speak up and share your opinion. More than likely the client will love it!

This blog post was written by Samantha Vlahos. She is in the media relations department of Capstone Agency.