Thursday, January 30, 2014

Honesty Hour: aMUSE Me

We're just here to keep things real.

That is, after all, why we made this segment. Source.
In any sort of writing, it’s important to consider the audience. This is especially true in PR. When you pitch a story, you want to use an angle that will be picked up by your target media outlets, whether they are print, broadcast, or digital. Sometimes this means changing your voice or it might mean drawing influence from the editors you’re aiming your organization/brand’s product or news bit toward.

I like to practice this as often as possible. And, in the spirit of this segment’s title, I’m going to keep things very real and let you in on a little writing secret of mine.

Honesty Hour: I have a muse. It wasn’t something I realized suddenly. It’s not even something I chose to have or something I wanted. One day, he (yes, he’s a real live person who I know and talk to and whatever) just happened to me. I've kept it a secret because I worried that all of the allure and fun would be gone, and I would be muse-less and therefore focusless and broken inside (ok, not really, I’m getting dramatic). Any time I have to write something important, I write it with this person in mind. What would he say about this? What would he learn about me if he were to read this piece? Can he tell my “voice” from myriad other “voices?” Basically, he helps me focus and put my best work forward, which is what I need most of the time. Ironically enough, I don’t think he’s ever read anything I’ve written.

In a way, I dedicate this post to him because he sort of propels my writing forward. Albeit unknowingly. If he ever needs a favor from me I’ll be incapable of saying no. So, if by some odd chance you happen to be reading this and by the grace of God don’t think it’s creepy and it really strikes a chord for you, I’m a) glad and b) serious about letting you cash in favors.

The point is this: when I write, I have a target in mind. It helps me focus, put my work into perspective, and pay attention to detail. These are all important aspects of good writing, but even more so, they are helpful considerations when working with a brand or company or organization.

Even if you don’t have a muse, try keeping a target in mind.

Do you have any special tricks or tips to do this? Let me know!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Frosh Perspective: Facing Fear

Angelina Truchan is a freshman at Wayne State University who plans to major in public relations. She hopes to share a bit of her year and her perspective with our Under PRessure readers. This month, she sums up her successful first semester and shares what's to come!


I have now officially completed my first semester of college here at Wayne State University. There have been a few challenges, but overall I have found that college life isn’t so bad after all. One particular thing I began to realize these past few months is that we are the only ones holding ourselves back from accomplishing our goals. We must thrive and make our own decisions in order to live a satisfied life, because at the end of the day, it's just you. Any time we withhold ourselves from achieving our goals because “we can’t do it” we're battling our own mentality.

This is why I began to train my mind to laugh in the face of fear. Fear is the weakest emotion and I choose to despise it. What I have started to realize is that life is all a game of man vs. self. My biggest hurdle in life is overcoming my own thoughts and dismissing the negative vibes of those around me. Once I have done this, I believe I can accomplish anything. Sometimes discouragement can arise while trying to make it in this cold world, but I believe as long as I don’t give up on my dreams, my dreams will not give up on me.

In fact, I have already begun starting a brand of my very own! My best friend, Rhea Montante, and I are soon to launch a fashion blog which we have called “Cold Chic." We just created an Instagram account: @coldchic and our website will be up and running very soon. Give us a follow and we will keep you all posted on our official launch!

I hope all my fellow college freshman can do likewise in silencing their inner demons as well as any negative people who try to doubt your dreams and ambitions in life. Laugh at them! You’ll be the one holding a pay check and a smile on your face at the end of the day.

Until next time,

Angelina Marie

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Final Countdown: Jasmine's Thoughts on Her Last Semester

It's even my university colors. Perfect!
It’s here: my final semester! Bust out the booze and put on your party hat graduation cap because I don’t think anyone is more excited than me to be done with university!

Don’t get me wrong: I love learning as much as the next person, but standardized testing and being lectured are not my idea of learning. If I could have taken four years worth of internships university would have been the most amazing experience ever, and I would never want to leave.

I have paid my dues: blood, sweat, tears, debt and all, and in four short months, I can close the book on my undergraduate collegiate career forever.

I am more than ready to shed the college kid moniker and fully embrace the young professional title.

As excited as I am, I am also scared. My biggest worry is finding a job. Of course, everyone says it’ll work itself out and if you deserve the job you desire you’ll get it. But that’s not necessarily true: no amount of internships or contacts can guarantee you a job upon graduation.

If you are one of the lucky one to have a guaranteed job, kudos to you.

I can’t say that I’m yearning to have the typical post-grad experience: moving back to mom and dad’s (if you ever left), enjoying the summer months with pool parties and vacays and looking for jobs in your spare time. Instead, I hope to have a full-time job in sports. Whether that’s football or hockey or something else remains to be seen.

While the future holds so many unanswered questions, I’ll enjoy the rest of the certain ride and hold on tight for the uncertain ride ahead.

For those of you also graduating in April (or that graduated in December), know what you are not alone. Others are asking the same questions and going through the predicaments. It might take some time but we’ll all break in the full-time professional world and climb the rungs to the top.

I hope to see you at the top, or at the very least, along the way!

I wish you (and me) the best of luck!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

War(rior) Stories No. 1

We're in our final semester of college. The past four years have been the best of times and the worst times. This segment will highlight our best of times at Wayne State University.
One of many newly reno'd classrooms. Click for more.
Elise: I must admit, the past four years have been tumultuous. It's been wonderful making new friends and learning new things, but come on, that's what school is about. A standout moment of my entire collegiate career has been this first month of the semester, when I finally scored a class in the newly-renovated, super beautiful top floor of one of our buildings. It's my senior seminar, which is the culmination course of sorts for the English major. As if it weren't wonderful enough that I have my favorite professor, I happened to finally have class in an amazing space. Dreams do come true.

Jasmine: I hummed and hawed about what WSU story I could share with you, and I finally settled on the story about my internship conundrum. During my junior year, I was lucky enough to be recommended by my advisor for not one, but two internships. I landed interviews for both, but only received the offer for (the better) one. To be fair, everyone from my university was turned down for the first because the hiring manger/firm VP was teaching a class we were all in (WSU perk: actual pros!). The internship I was offered afforded me great opportunity and has helped carve the path to my current professional endeavor.

Until next month!

Your Girls Under PRessure

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Network: It's Scary Out There

Meet Catia, our segment writer for The Network. As a second year PR major, she hopes to continue to grow professionally and would love to one day see Detroit become a powerhouse city again. Fun fact, she actually inspired big sis Elise to pursue PR!

Earlier this month, Elise posted a feature on a PR pro. I'm here today to give a little insight on network building. Each month, I hope to continue sharing networking tips I've learned and words of wisdom from pros.

As aspiring PR professionals, I’m sure we’ve all been told at some point how critical it is to build a professional network early on in our career pursuits. Well this little gem of advice should not be taken lightly. Finding professionals in the field who you admire or even whose job you want (It is a cut-throat industry after all!) can be hugely beneficial down the road. Connecting with these professionals can serve numerous functions. You could line up an internship or job, stumble upon an awesome mentor, learn more about the industry in general, or at the very least snag a few words of wisdom from someone active in the workforce. The possibilities are endless!

Obviously, networking isn’t as easy as LinkedIn profile stalking, shaking some hands and scattering business cards down the hallway (Ed note: Please don’t do this. Please.). It’s tricky and scary and intimidating, especially for people like me who aren’t the most socially courageous or outgoing. As nerve-wrecking and daunting of a task as reaching out to PR industry professionals may seem, however, the rewards easily outweigh the risks.

Now, I know what you’re thinking--why would industry professionals bother listening to/helping a student or recent grad with little to no experience? Well, that is up to you to decide. Sometimes you need to fake it ‘til you make it--and by that I don’t mean falsify any qualifications or be phony. Big no-no. Even if you are nervous, shy or lacking experience, you must carry an air of self-confidence and exude pride in your accomplishments and abilities. Prove to them how valuable you are.

The nerves and intimidation will fade before you know it and you will be left with a strong professional network. So, make the first move. Be bold, brave and impressive. And remember, networking is an art, one that we’ll learn to perfect, together.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Constructive Distraction: Doodle

Procrastination doesn't have to be a total waste of time—check out some of the web's most constructive gems: educational blogs, career-focused news sites, the latest web tools, etc. These distractions make procrastinating time well spent.
This month's distraction is one of the most useful and underrated tools on the web: Doodle. Haven't heard of Doodle? Let me introduce you.

Doodle is an online group meeting scheduler. You know all that time you spend trying to figure what day and what times work for group meetings and a parties? Doodle helps make that process a much quicker one—instead of manually tracking what dates and times work for each person, you input all the options into Doodle, send out an email to the involved parties and they input what times work for them.

Then you can view all times each person is available in a chart and easily identify which time(s) works the best for everyone or the majority of the group.

As magical as this tool sounds, I do have one caveat: no one knows how to use it!

Ugh! It kills me! It's the simplest tool on the planet, but most people: a) think it's spam and delete it or b) are too lazy to read the (extremely short) instructions. Change is hard for most people, even the simplest change, which is really a huge time-saver.

If you're looking for a new web tool to learn or a simple way to impress friends (or your boss!) the next time you're planning a party or coordinating a meeting, use Doodle.

Until next month!

Your Girls Under PRessure

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Elise's Thoughts on Her Final Semester: A Follow Up to Her Thoughts on Senior Year

A picture of school just felt really right. Source.

I didn't think I'd be this sad. Or scared.

I'm a mere months a way from a day I've been waiting for since I was a little kid. I looked forward to graduating college and building my career, and now that I'm so close to having what I wanted, I feel strange and empty. I expected to be happy, to be relieved. It's been a tumultuous four years for me for reasons I prefer not to share here.

A few months ago I felt so ready. I was strong and prepared to take on the world. I was also in a different city, skipping some school to finish out the intern life. I felt so happy and so ambitious. Since then the sparkle in my eyes has dulled a bit, faded into an anxiety induced deadness that I'm really working on shaking.

This time one year ago I knew where I would be. In school. This time next year, will I have a job? What city will I be living in? Will I make new friends? Keep the old ones? Will my work be fulfilling? Will the sparkle, the inspiration, return? Will everything up to this point be worth it or will I have done everything in vain?

I always try to keep it real with you, but I tend to err on the side of bubblegum and sweetness. So here's the truth: I'm really afraid to leave the comfort zone that is school. It's all so familiar to me, and as much as I always crave change I'm afraid to let this chapter in my life close because success isn't certain, even if I put my blood, sweat and tears into my work. It just never is.

At this moment, I'm not ready for this to be my last semester. Hopefully by April I will be.

To anyone who is also in this place, I understand. To anyone who has been there, I hope you have some sage words for me because I'd be oh-so grateful.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Word Play: January

Welcome to a little feature we'd like to call word play. A vocab lesson or two never hurts, especially when the words are either hilarious or made up. And since sharing is caring, we give you our favorite word of the month.

Hermèsing (adj.): Amazing in Hermès.

Elise came across this word on a blog she happened to be persuing a few months back (almost certain it was this one). It stuck.

We'll use it in a sentence. That stack of orange boxes must have some Hermèsing things inside.


Love it? Have a suggestion for next month's word? Let us know!


Your Girls Under PRessure

Monday, January 13, 2014

PRactical: Documents

Here at Under PRessure, we're always learning the ins and outs of the industry, and we want to share those tips with you! This feature is PRactical advice for interning and working in the PR world.

In recent internships, we each did something we had never done before—signed legal documents regarding our positions. Elise signed a non-compete agreement, and I signed a non-disclosure agreement.

For me, this was the first time I signed an official NDA. In my previous internships, it was just a verbal agreement. Of course, when you think about NDAs and sports, the first thing one usually thinks of are injuries, trades, coaching strategies, etc. What you don't think about are the typical situations that would happen in any office—not directly related to the team, but directly related to your office coworkers and business transactions. Whether it's personal or business, do not share information about your coworkers—including with other coworkers.

Just because you're privy to specific information doesn't mean your entire organization is. In departments like partnerships/sponsorship and marketing, they may be making deals that the entire organization will not know about until the deal is finalized. These types of interactions take time and go through multiple stages. No one everyone is or needs to be privy to the entire process from start to finish.

And you have non-compete agreements. Elise signed her first during a recent internship. Here is her experience and words of advice:
When you take an internship, it's important to establish that both parties, the intern and the employer receive what they're seeking. For the intern, it's work experience, a look into a prospective industry, and the opportunity to learn and grow. For the employer, taking on interns is beneficial for the business. It's also risky. What if the intern learns something and takes a new innovative idea as his or her own and builds an empire. What if the intern were to poach clients? These are ethical issues that can be solved by a non-compete clause. I never would do that to an employer, that is just wrong ethically, but to make sure, it doesn't hurt to say that you won't in writing. An issue here? Sometimes these clauses can be created to keep new talent for a set amount of time, which can stunt professional growth. I've never personally come across one like this, but I've heard stories. Just make sure you're reading contracts carefully and are in the internship for the right reasons. You definitely don't want to cheat an employer, but it's also important to make sure your talent isn't being exploited. 
So, there you have it. It's always better to err on the side of safety, even if that means signing on a dotted line instead of simply putting a verbal agreement in place.

Want a bit more PRactical advice? Send us an email or leave a comment!


Your Girls Under PRessure

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lip Service: January

For 2104, we've decided to turn Lip Service into a more comprehensive segment. A perfect pout is always a must have, but we have a few overall beauty favorites to share so you'll always look primed and professional at school or work!

Elise's Pick: For me, 2014 is about putting my best face forward. Gone are the days of dull skin! My beauty picks for the month are at-home microdermabrasion systems. Microderms are pretty amazing, especially in the exfoliation department, but they're incredibly pricey. For a fraction of the price, these magical little tools give comparable results (though you'll need to give them more than one go to achieve the same results as you would in one professional treatment). I have tried both the Neutrogena system and the new (pictured) system by Olay and I love them both in different ways. Neutrogena's is wonderful for simplicity (and just a note--this one feels more abraisive than Olay's), and Olay's is wonderful because it also comes with a daily exfoliation system to keep your skin glowing forever. Okay not really forever, but it does extend results.

Find them at Target or Ulta!

Jasmine's Pick: Following Elise's mantra for 2014, my fav way to pamper my face is with Lush Fresh Face Masks. These are masks are au naturel, made with fresh fruits, veggies, essential oils and clays in awesome combinations to help your skin aliments: oily skin, dry skin, clogged pores, etc. My fav mask is Brazened Honey (pictured), a deep-cleansing mask that helps unclog pores and exfoliate skin. Because these masks are made with all fresh ingredients, their shelf lives are short: two weeks. So, make sure you are dedicated to using face masks before you invest in Lush Fresh Face Masks.

Masks are only available in Lush stores.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Network: Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR

Welcome to The Network, a segment of our blog dedicated to talented professionals and the gems of networking advice we receive from them and from experience. 


A little exuberance, a lot of hard work and word of mouth can characterize any professional, but couple these traits with a touch of perfectionism and off-the-charts love for PR and you have Monique Tatum, president and CEO of Beautiful Planning Marketing and PR.

Tatum, who attended Fordham University, and (unlike me) always knew she wanted to go into PR has found major success in the field, especially in the eight years she has owned her own company.

Monique, as mentioned, always wanted to be in the PR and marketing fields. From being a natural people person (you can even tell just from a phone call with her!) to knowing how to identify people who shine and putting the spotlight on those who do, this career path was nothing short of a calling.
While working at Integrity Partners, Monique began freelancing on the side, partly to fuel her love for expensive shoes (a smart idea we at Under PRessure fully support). References and a lot of late nights turned freelancing into building a company, something Monique didn’t expect.

She put into practice one of the primary lessons Jasmine and I (and now Catia) learned in our fave PR professor, Shelly Najor’s class. Third party credibility. Word-of-mouth references set PR apart from other, related fields, and it’s what sets Monique apart in an industry that can feel very “small-world.”

The word-of-mouth references truly paid off, though, and Monique calls the start of Beautiful Planning one of the "best decisions" she has made. And once the clients began coming in, it was time for Beautiful Planning to start advertising their services. Both of these approaches seem to have aided the company's astronomical success. Their talented team doesn't hurt, either.

Many of the new clients are fashion related. Though she didn’t think of fashion first, the industry excites Monique. So much of her growth over the past year has been from this industry. The hard work that goes into planning events or shows or getting placements is gratifying and most importantly exciting.

Source: Beautiful Planning

How did she punctuate her skills of bringing the best out of people and shining herself? With a smart move: “pinhole focus.”

Focus, coupled with the dynamic duo, competitiveness and perfectionism, makes the PR world go ‘round, and successfully at that.

She offers up vital tips to those seeking to break into the industry:
  • It’s smart to learn different industries—you never know where you’re going to land.
  • Be educated: whether that means brushing up on the different aspects of the industry you’re interested or learning how a specific firm you’re interested operates day to day, educating yourself is vital.
  • Don’t apply to positions for which you’re unqualified. This seems like a no-brainer, but people do this every day.

What are her plans for the future? Expansion! Monique and the BPMPR team hope to expand their company to a larger team and to incite growth in all departments. On the fashion front, the team hopes to work on fashion weeks for other cities.

This is a firm with a bright future and an incredible amount of talent.

We really look forward to their expansion in 2014 and wish Monique and the team all the best for the year to come!

Don't forget to give Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR a follow at: @NYCPRFirm!