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. 

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.