Monday, December 14, 2009

Preparing for an informational interview

This past Friday, the season of informational interviews began for me. One down and 7 to go. While I was nervous at first, I was surprised how at ease I was discussing public relations, social media and the communications industry. After spending almost four years studying and after five internships, I've soaked up quite a bit of knowledge about the industry and have found it to be one of my favorite topics of conversation. Don't get me wrong, I know that I have much to learn. I am just so eager to hit the ground running!

I have two more tomorrow and as I sit here listening to Christmas music, I'm preparing for them both. Preparation is vital to the success of an informational interview. It shows great respect for the person you're meeting with and being prepared will make you feel more confident. I would like to give a big THANK YOU to Kelli Matthews, Pat Curtin and Tom Hagley for their tremendous support and encouragement throughout this process.

Here are some articles that have been helpful for me in this process:

The New York Times

Bad Pitch Blog

Cornell Law School Career Center

Vanderbilt Career Center

Here are some general tips:

1. Do your homework! I know it's Chrismtas break, but after June you're signing your life away to two weeks vacation anyways, so you'd better get used to it now. Research the person you're interviewing and the company they work for.

2. Write up some thoughtful and inquisitive questions.

3. Bring your portfolio and be prepared to present it if time allows and the situation is appropriate.

4. Bring business cards and copies of your résumé.

5. Write a handwritten thank you note once you get home and send it out that same day.

Moreover, be confident in who you are and what you have to offer! What tips do you have? What have you found useful?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The right to post: Holy moly is that Masoli?

What gives someone the right to post something? What are the ethics surrounding this issue?

This week, four University of Oregon students, Brian McAndrew, Michael Bishop, Jamie Slade and Robert Martini, posted this video that they made. Yesterday the UO Athletic Department pulled the video from their site claiming that they didn't have the right to use "Puddles" in the video.

Because of this, students have been buzzing about this for the last couple of days on campus.

According to the group's facebook page "Supwitchugirl," the video has resulted in, "Interview by the Oregonian and the Daily Emerald, Email from Chip Kelly, on Jerry Allen's (the voice of the ducks) radio show, On numerous sports blogs, ESPN talk radio, 1000's of views within the day and the video is takin off youtube because of Angie Sit, head of Marketing for UO is afraid she will receive a hypothetical phone call from Disney."

This is an interesting PR and communications issue. Face it, they made a video that is more innovative than anything the UO Athletic Department has cooked up in my four years here. It inspires me, motivates me, fills me with school pride and fills my heart with immeasurable amounts of love for my Ducks. Just because a group of students accomplished this and the UO Athletic Department is unable to, shouldn't justify punishment. Here's an idea, these young men clearly know what they're doing, why not hire them on as communications interns??

Moreover, it doesn't do any harm. In fact it does quite the opposite. The video accomplishes the desired mission, and because it's students (for goodness sake) I find the video to be completely ethical and I post it here with pride. Watch and enjoy. GO DUCKS!

I Smell Roses @ Yahoo! Video

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In the event of an emergency, the UO isn’t there: A critique of the UO Conduckt System

At last night’s Duck victory over USC, there were just fewer than 60,000 fans in attendance. Sitting in the student section, alcohol and drugs were to be seen around every corner.

A couple of years ago, the University of Oregon Athletic Department recognized this and implemented the
Conduckt System in which students could report an intoxicated or violent student via text messaging.

This was a wonderful idea, as while this behavior bothers most students, few will risk reporting such an individual, as they fear retaliation from that individual’s friends.

This was a brilliant communication method, however the UO Athletic Department failed to recognize several variables. One variable is that this system needs to be properly and frequently communicated to fans. If an incident occurs, a fan should know that number immediately. The second variable is that all wireless providers need to receive strong and consistent coverage at Autzen. The last variable is quick response from Autzen staff.

With “falling over 3 aisles every ten minutes” drunk guy behind me and “I smoke more pot than Dave Matthews” guy in front of me, I texted Conduct and was told that the service was down. The service was down at the rowdiest, most intoxicated game in all my 4 years here as a student. Right when I needed this brilliant communication system, it was down.

Also, where is the number? It's not on the site and it wasn't announced at the game. There is no point in developing and publicizing an emergency communication system unless it works and works well.

Despite helping Drunken Dan up from his falls and breathing in my jacket to avoid the pot smoke, it was a game and a victory I'll never forget. Once again, as always, it's a privilege to be Duck.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Falling in love with Lilly

Over the summer, I contracted some sort of virus that had me on the couch for a week drinking tea, eating apple sauce and watching one of my favorite shows, The Martha Stewart Show. The intro began and Martha walked onto the set wearing the most colorful and beautiful dress I’d ever seen! It was “Lilly Pulitzer” she said. Having grown up in Oregon, I had no idea what she was talking about.

The entire show was dedicated to Lilly. The audience, crew, staff and guests were all wearing Lilly! It was wonderful and made for the most colorful show. Being a very girly girl, it didn’t take long before I was intrigued with Lilly. The splashes of color and the hand drawn patters captivated me and left me curious about the story behind Lilly herself.

A spokeswoman from Lilly was there that day, a savvy PR woman I presume, who told the story of Lilly. Lilly was a young housewife who worked at a lemonade stand during the day. Spilling lemonade on herself often, she began to feel frustrated as her dresses became stained. She decided to make her own dress, a yellow one with a fun print on it. That way, if she spilled, it would be less noticeable. All these years later, that dress is now known as the “shift dress” and has truly reinvented American femininity through the years.

After the show I went online and checked out their website. I was impressed. The fun and feminine feel of the brand that I received on the show carried over seamlessly onto their website. They were on Twitter and Facebook too! Here it was the same, lovely feel.

Two nights ago, after a rough day at school, I bought my first Lilly dress online, on Ebay (I’m on a bit of a student budget). It comes in two days and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve already decided to start saving so that when I go to New York City for spring break I can treat myself to a Lilly dress for my graduation. Oh, I almost forgot, I ordered my first catalog last night!

I have seriously fallen in love with Lilly. I love the style, the story and the brand. It’s all thanks to Lilly and their innovative PR crew. Across several varying mediums, their messaging and branding was seamless. This is no easy task. On their Twitter and Facebook pages, they are quick to respond to enthusiastic fans sharing pictures and stories of their lives with Lilly.

In order to really get the maximum benefit out of social media, you really should be using it to dialogue with your consumers, potential consumers and key publics. The Lilly folks have this one mastered. They truly have one of the best Facebook fan pages I’ve ever seen. It’s stocked with all the info and photos you’d ever want along with fantastic desktop wallpapers to brighten anyone’s dreary day of homework.

It just goes to show that when done all the way, social media, when used in conjunction with other PR tactics can be extremely effective. Thank you Lilly, I can’t imagine my life without you now!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How the Bakery Bar saves the morning

I'm not really into promoting things here on my blog as most do not relate to the profession of public relations. However, what does relate to my job and life immensely is coffee. When I'm at school I have my favorite place, Cafe Roma by campus, but when I'm on the job here in Portland, there is always so much to choose from.

After getting to bed quite late last night and being woken early by the sound of the trash-man rolling down my street, coffee after my 9 a.m. meeting became vital to my day's happiness. A new favorite place is The Bakery Bar. Serving Stumptown Coffee, home-made biscuits and scones, those who say you cannot buy happiness have yet to try this place.

And you know what, even if this post doesn't have to do with PR strategy or tips for finding your next internship, the truth is, without coffee and a hearty breakfast, work suffers. Or at least mine does. It's wrong to write on an empty stomach.

So here's to good coffee and scones and how they keep me on my toes!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Joy in the Job

I've just completed week two of my summer internship at The Mentoring Project, a non-profit organization in Portland, Oregon that seeks to end the national crisis of fatherlessness through pairing fatherless boys with men in the community to mentor them.. 

My main responsibility is to contribute to the social media side of the organization as well as to launch and contribute to the blog. Social media is something that I greatly enjoy. I also believe in its possibilities for businesses and non-profits alike. 

This has led me thinking this morning about the great hunt that everyone seems to be on to find happiness in their job. I however, do not believe in the pursuit of happiness, as it is fleeting, but rather the pursuit of joy. 

How does one find joy in the job? In my years of working I think it is most often found when it plays into your own personal strengths and interests. 

In a WebMD article by Dulce Zamora, "Different people have different needs, and different things that motivate them," says Roni Reiter-Palmon, PhD, director of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

When we feel joy on the job, that motivates us to excel and put in 110%. 

When looking for a job, look for one that plays into your strengths and interests. If you're stuck in a job that has your counting down the minutes until 5 p.m., then consider your strengths and do your best to incorporate them into your present situation. 

For more information on The Mentoring Project, you can visit their website at 

Friday, June 12, 2009

I wish I were Superwoman

I pride myself on being the person everyone can count on for anything at anytime. I am highly organized and run my life on a color-coded planner that has every day broken down into 15 minute time slots. I make To-Do lists for every day so that not a single task goes undone. 

Problem is, I'm human. This means that very, very rarely...I make a mistake and something slips through the cracks. I wish I were Superwoman, bet she doesn't forget anything.

In the public relations profession we pride ourselves on answering all the calls, drafting a release, following through with that one reporter and writing up key messages for tomorrow's press conference, all while looking fabulous and having a cheerful smile. However, we all make mistakes, sometime in our career it's bound to happen. It's what we do with our mistakes that counts.

Here are some tips for when you slip up. 

1. Try not to freak out. I know it's tempting, but breathe.

2. Remember that whoever is in a position above you is human too and they've most likely forgotten something important at least once in their life before too.

3. Apologize. Collect yourself and humbly apologize.

4. Don't make excuses. My father once said, "Excuses are like belly-buttons, everybody's got em." Take responsibility for your actions. 

5. Prove yourself to be a responsible and trustworthy member of the team. Trust is earned, so you'll need to work on earning yours back. 

Finally, remember that professionalism and good manners count in every situation, even when the blame is on you. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

REALLY!?! Best Buy, REALLY!?!

On one of my favorite shows, Saturday Night Live, Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler do this skit called,
"REALLY!?! with Seth and Amy," where they bash on something or someone in current events or pop culture. 

Real lesson learned: When employees behave against corporate policy and ethics, be quick to humbly apologize and reassure key publics that you are committed 

Today, I'd like to do my very own. So here it is. 

REALLY!?! with Kristina Rhodes

Really Best Buy, Really!?! 

Best Buy, you say you are helpful and happy to repair computer products purchased at your store, but wait, that's not really true now is it.  

When local news source, Fox News Channel 12, "pulled the plug on a computer's hard drive to make sure it would not boot up," they brought it to several mom and pop stores in the Portland area who found the rigged problem instantly and returned the computer for no fee. 

But Best Buy, no, you charged them $580 for the "repair" in which they also found a virus, among other things AND ultimately suggested that they buy a new computer!

Buy a new computer, oh sure at your fine establishment! I bet it comes with helpful consultation! Bah!  

Way to be the most unhelpful corporation, well... basically ever. 

Lesson learned, when you have a computer problem, visit your local "ma and pop" corner store. 

In the end, Steve Carter, from the corporate offices released the following statement:

"We take any misdiagnosis very seriously, and I personally feel horrible that we missed this opportunity to be consistently accurate. I'm working closely with my Geek Squad agents going forward to ensure that the highest level of service is maintained consistently for our customers in Portland."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Don't be afraid! Embrace Social Media!

Last night amidst doing some homework, I came across a Craigslist job posting for a "Social Media Coordinator and Communication Director" position with Multnomah County. Reading through the requirements I was pleased to see that the requested requirements were all attributes that I obtained (minus my degree of course, which I'll have next spring). Reading further down, it stated that the position would pay $60k-$70k a year! That's almost twice what an entry level agency PR position pays. I was thrilled! The main area of public relations that I happen to enjoy the most is something that could be made into a career!

But my career parade quickly experienced a downpour. This evening I came across an article from KATU news in Portland, Oregon reporting that the position is no longer available as it has been eliminated due to the thought that social media simply is not a priority. 

This is so unfortunate for me to see this. As a journalism and public relations student in 2009, Social Media is at the forefront of my mind as it is incorporated into all of our teaching here at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication. The dramatic impact that Social Media can have on a business or an organization is far greater than most people realize. With so many people heading online to receive their news and information, it is vital that businesses and organizations are utilizing this method of communication with their stake-holders. 

As the wedding planner in Father of the Bride once said, "Welcome to the 90's Mr. Banks!" Welcome to the new millennium folks! Sit down and relax. Social Media is here to stay. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Seize the Moment!!

As a junior, I am always surprised to hear that there are seniors out there, who've never had an internship or any real world PR experience, are thinking that the job hunt after graduation will be a breeze. 

With the struggling economy, it is so vital that we are making ourselves as marketable and hirable as possible. This means seizing moments of opportunity and networking. Here are some suggestions on how to do this.

1. Seek out student organizations on campus that could help you practice your PR skills and gain some real world experience. 

2. Join your local PRSSA branch and GET INVOLVED! Attend meetings, introduce yourself to the speakers after the meeting and exchange business cards. 

3. Follow-up! Every time you meet a PR professional and get their card, send them an email or handwritten note thanking them for their time and expressing how nice it was to meet them. This will go a long way. 

4. Remember your manners! Every-time you have a conversation with a PR professional, extend your hand with a polite handshake, eye contact and a smile. Remember to be a good listener and pose insightful questions. 

Networking and good manners is the key to success in business. Remember that the next person you meet could be your next boss. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Well hello there!

On Tuesday night it was announced that I have been selected as the new Allen Hall Public Relations Firm Director for next year! I am so thrilled and so very honored to lead this outstanding group of students. This summer I'll be interning with The Mentoring Project in Portland, Oregon. You can find more information at 

I intend to use this blog to write about my life as a PR student: what I see, what I learn and what I experience. 

I hope that this can be a place of learning and sharing life experiences and how they correlate with the public relations profession.