Half Day with a Pro 2014 Recap

Indianapolis, Ind. — On Wednesday, November 12, IU PRSSA members had the opportunity to take part in Hoosier PRSA’s annual Half Day with a Pro, an event that allows PRSSA students from across Indiana to spend the morning shadowing different PR professionals in the Indianapolis area, followed by the monthly luncheon. We’ve gathered some member highlights below:

I had the pleasure of shadowing Kristen Fuhs-Wells of Indiana Humanities, a nonprofit that seeks to connect people throughout the state with opportunities to engage with the humanities (art, music, food, literature, history, etc.) and provide support for such programs. The office is housed in a historic home on the Old Northside of Indianapolis; the working environment felt very cozy and comfortable. The staff is small, so a lot of collaboration takes place when getting the job done.

During my visit, I learned about some of the tools Kristen and her co-workers use, such as Exact Target to send e-newsletters to specific audiences and Hootsuite operate the official social media accounts. I was with two other students from another university, and Kristen had the three of us write up some tweets to help the organization promote an upcoming workshop about grants. We also watched as she edited the website to reflect the recent addition of a new employee.

Some of the most important skills to have in this kind of job, Kristen said, are:
1. Writing clearly
2. Being able to adapt your writing for different purposes
3. Working well with a team
4. Being flexible and responsive
5. Pitching to reporters and keeping up on current events
6. Being creative, able to come up with solutions even when you don’t know the answer to something

Kristen also looked at my resume and pointed out some areas for improvement. I learned a lot about nonprofit PR and PR jobs, even in just the few hours I was there. Despite the early start to the morning, I’m so glad I took advantage of this opportunity to network and grow professionally, and I look forward to more opportunities in the future.

Alyssa Schor

I had the great opportunity to attend the PRSA Hoosier Chapter’s Half-Day with a Pro event in Indianapolis. I was assigned to shadow the Director of Marketing and Communications, Darcy Marlett, at the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG).

IU PRSSA members spend the morning at National Chimney Sweep Guild. Picture by Allison Lara.
IU PRSSA members spend the morning at National Chimney Sweep Guild. Picture by Allison Lara.

Chimney Sweeps? Much to my surprise, they still exist.

Upon arrival, I received a tour of the building and learned about chimney sweeps in America. Darcy then took the time to sit down and answer any questions I had about the PR industry and the job search. She graduated from IU in 2011 with a Journalism degree and had a lot of relevant experience and current insight on looking for jobs in the industry.

Darcy’s advise on what to bring to an interview:

1. Extra copies of your resume
2. A portfolio to show specific examples of work to your potential employer
3. AP Stylebook in case you have to take an AP editing test

After shadowing Darcy, I attended the PRSA Hoosier Chapter’s monthly luncheon, where we met with other PR professionals and students. During lunch, two professionals presented “Beyond the Pie Charts: How to Fend Off the PR Research Woes.” They addressed the topic of market research and how it relates to the PR research process. Understanding the customer and what drives their decisions is the key goal of market research. With the recent boom in smart phone users, it has opened up new opportunities to reach consumers anywhere and anytime.

This was a valuable experience because of the new connections I made and the insight I gained. It gave me confidence that I have chosen the right field of study. I highly encourage students to attend next year’s Half-Day with a Pro event.

Allison Lara

I spent my Wednesday morning at Hirons Advertising and Public Relations. You never truly know how much you want to work in an industry until you step into the environment. As soon as I entered the doors of Hiron and said hello to the receptionist, I knew public relations was the place I wanted to be. During my short time at the agency I learned a lot and was able to relax just a tiny bit about finding a job after graduation next semester. A small panel of Hirons employees, three being IU graduates, were more than happy to answer any and all of the questions thrown their way. Making connections and having a portfolio were, as expected, a few of the topics discussed.

Toward the end of my time at Hirons the panel briefly mentioned having your own personal brand. They recommended taking that one thing that makes you special or stand out from the crowd and use it to your advantage. Design a personal logo, add just a touch of color to your resume or even add graphics to your resume that your employer might like. Hirons encourages innovation and creativity. It’s go big or go home; the worst that could happen is hearing the word “no.” If I learned nothing else at Hirons, it’s that stepping outside of the box and being bold is what gets you noticed. Be creative, be brave and always have fun doing it.

Charnay Pickett

Our #HalfDayWithaPro experience started off bright and early on Wednesday with a tour of Borshoff’s office in downtown Indianapolis. Tim Coxey and Mary Higgins showed us around the 5th floor where account coordinators sit and the 4th floor where the so-called “creative” work. After our tour, Tim gave us a crash course on what it takes to work at an agency like Borshoff. 6 basic skills: – Writing – Editing – Proofing – Pitching – Researching – Attention to detail. Tim stressed the important of AP Style and of being confident making 30 second phone pitches. 4 advanced skills: – Building media relationships – Thinking about strategic marketing planning – Writing and editing – Budgeting.

Our half-day at Borshoff provided helpful insight into the skills needed to succeed at an agency and what type of daily work one would have at an agency like Borshoff.

Katie Denta

During Half Day With a Pro, I shadowed Tim Coxey, an account manager at Borshoff. Throughout the day, we heard from several different Borshoff employees of all different positions such as principals of the company, art directors, and account directors.

A section of the presentation that I thought was really interesting was when Brittany Melvin, an account manager, discussed community relations. Brittany had six tips on how to form the best relationships with people in the community so that your story can be heard.
1. Target the right reporters. Make sure that you’re researching which reporter writes on your topic so that you can be certain it’s something they’re going to be interested in.
2. Build relationships. Brittany suggests using social media platforms to find common interests that you have with reporters or opinion leaders on your topic. If you find that you and the contact are both “foodies” and enjoy food blogs, for example, try to bond over that. The contact will remember that you have something in common and will be more likely to pick up your pitch.
3. Excite the reporter with something that also excites you. Create a hook for your pitch that would be interesting to you—it will likely be interesting to the reporter as well.
4. Share a visual. Include a picture, video, or infographic with your pitch so that it stands out from the rest.
5. Answer the question “so what?” Make sure that your pitch has a good news hook. In the end, reporters are there to make sure that the news is covered, so it’s important that you show them why your story needs to be told.
6. Be concise. The reporter isn’t going to want to read a lengthy pitch. If you can present the basic information in a short, informative message, you can share the details during your interview.

Kathryn Vance

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