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Print Closures are Changing our World

I didn’t quite realize how much a part of my life newspapers used to be until recently, when I tried to imagine having grown up without them.

Every Sunday morning, my family and I would gather around the dining room table. We divvied up the sections: sports to my dad, news to my mom, and my brother and I got the comics and advertisements. When I go home, this tradition remains, but it’s strange to think that we could be in our final newspaper days. 

CEO of Richmond Public Relations, Louis Richmond recently said, “most communications professionals won’t miss a beat in turning to non-traditional sources, which are now preferred by many clients.” PR Week Article

As our world changes, so do the media industries. As the Internet has expanded, the need for newspapers has shrunk.

If you need movie times,  check Fandango. Weather.com tells you the local forecast, and most news organizations now have all of their stories available online. Other than providing a portion of anyone’s daily routine (i.e. reading the morning paper at breakfast), newspapers are losing their purpose.

Thankfully we are all learning to adapt to this new world of Web 2.0. We are blogging in journalism classes, getting our news from outlets like CNN.com, and staying in touch with friends through Facebook or Twitter.

While it is sad to slowly say goodbye to such a significant part of our history, we can look at this moment as another exciting development in the ever-changing world of media. Who knows what else people will come up with and what else will soon become obsolete, but that’s the exciting part of the industry.

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How to Create Strong Organizational Culture

We have all been in a variety of work environments. Some good, some bad. We can realize the importance of a strong organizational culture when we look to some of the most successful companies.

Pixar, one of today’s leading animation stuidos, ensured that its offices were uniquely designed to provoke positive creative energy for all of its employees. The studios boast a relaxed environment that allows for a free flow of ideas and communication.

Edward Jones was rated Forbes Magazine’s best place to work. This is because they work so hard to maintain a strong community amongst its employees. They encourage employees to bring their family and friends to the office and become more involved in the local communities that surround each office. This helps employees to realize that the staff and their work is about so much more than money.

Plante & Moran (P&M Site)outlined the following tips for creating a strong organizational culture:

1. Define your goals. What changes are you looking to make to your organizational culture?

2. Identify the gaps. Are there any specific issues that you want to target and solve?

3. Identify strong performers; select, develop, and retain them.

4. Modify day-to-day work procedures. Change meeting locations, go out to lunch, or implement casual and/or spirit days.

5. Communicate effectively on ALL levels. Make sure that communications lines are open and comments and questions can always be heard.

6. Rewards and real-time feedback. Positively reinforce the work that employees do and discuss any issues as soon as they arise.

7. Assess progress of defined goals.

I had the opportunity to intern at a business that had a really strong organizational culture. Each morning, there was a company-wide morning call. All employees would gather in the headquarter office or call in, and each person would share work-related and/or personal accomplishments and/or struggles. This helped employees to feel better connected to their colleagues and create a strong community throughout the business. 

Most of our lives currently or will soon revolve completely around our work. It is important that all companies work to make sure that their employees feel comfortable, connected, appreciated, and that they are a part of a strong organizational culture. It is something that we must all keep in mind, especially in these times of economic difficulty.

So take a moment and think about how you can strengthen your organizational culture.

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In Times Like These, Don’t Forget to Stop and Smell the Flowers

We all know that the United States is not at one of its prouder moments. Each day we hear about the bad economy or the death toll in Iraq. Many Americans have become pessimistic and worried, all with good reason.

Yet I’ve always been a strong believer in thinking positively, which admittedly is difficult in times like these. While I am attempting to cut costs left and right, I am also trying to take advantage of certain opportunities that I didn’t before to try and ensure that in these difficult times I am not losing sight of the wonderful people, places, and things that surround me.

A few weekends ago, I went to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. UOMA Site I feel badly saying that as a senior, this was my first visit. I took time to see each piece from the artifacts of the Forbidden City in China to an incredible painting of a house that a local seventh grader exhibited. It opened my eyes to the amount of talent and diversity that our peers all display in such unique ways.

I also was recently in Portland where I got to see the Portland Center Stage (PCS)production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Witty and hysterical, this Oscar Wilde play and its actors delighted the whole audience from beginning to end. With their perfected English accents and impeccable timing, these actors impressed me to no end.

These two experiences reminded me that there are some wonderful organizations out there that, despite their financial struggles, are working every day to show us the beauty and talent that exists around us.

All too often people lose sight of their surroundings. I admit that I can spend days obsessing and stressing over papers and in the process forget how lucky I am to have the opportunity to be learning whatever I’m learning. 

Our world is filled with talented people and incredible things, and in times like these, it’s important that we continue to support and appreciate the organizations that help us to see them.

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Social Media Sites: Grab a Spoon

In most decision-making today, there are so many choices. For example, the cereal aisle in most grocery stores is constantly growing. From Cheerios to Lucky Charms, there is something for everyone.  The same goes for the high number of social media sites. It takes time to sort through them and find the one that’s right for you, but once you do, it tastes so good!

When I first entered college, I had facebook. That was the extent of my involvement in the world of social media. I slowly began to learn more about different sites, but I didn’t realize just how many there are until this quarter in my Advanced PR Writing course.

Several guest speakers were quick to name tens and tens of social media tools that I had never heard of. From Twitter to PROpenMic, I was quite overwhelmed by everything that I had yet to learn about.

Thankfully our Professor, Kelli Matthews, helped us to identify and become involved with the more popular sites. Yet, for those without this handy guidance, I would advise some steps:

1. Research: Hundreds of sites and articles exist to rank and explain the new social media tools. Look to these and then explore the sites. (Traffikd is a good example)Often the most popular sites are that way for a reason, so the more talked about sites will likely be good options.

2. Try it out: Create profiles to see how you like the format and tools of the site. Try to connect with others using the site and talk with them about it. The reason that so many sites exist is because people are so different. Make sure that it fits your needs and feels right.

3. Maintain: I have bookmarked all of the sites that I continued to use after my research. Every day I make sure to go through each page, updating content, reading new information, and of course keeping my eye on other new sites.

A final thing to keep in mind is that the task of discovering and maintaining these sites can be daunting and tedious, but just like choosing a cereal, you will find one that you love. You will continue to revisit it, use it, and enjoy it. So grab a spoon and dig in to the world of social media.

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Cover Letters, Interviews, and Networking: Oh My!

As a senior in college, the question is always “what’s next?”

Those who aren’t asking you that question are trying to help you answer it. At family parties over my winter vacation, in a meeting with a counselor at the Career Center, or listening to a guest speaker at our AHPR meeting, I am flooded with information about the process. Now the task at hand is to organize it and utilize it.

My career counselor recently advised me to do research; find out about the different kinds of organizations that are out there. Where are they? What do they do? Who are their clients? How does their organization function? And of course, what opportunities might they have available?

So I headed to Google. I came up with dozens of names of PR organizations in the Bay Area. From there I was able to explore their websites and even better, encounter the company blogs. The blogs were great for better understanding the culture of the organization, which, as Paull Young ( Young PR) told our class the other day, will be a big part of your decision to work somewhere. 

Next, I turned to the wise words of author, mentor, and columnist Heather Huhman. In addition to the abundance of great advice on her website, she provides a list of links to many major PR firms that are looking to hire for certain positions.PR Company Links

The company website and blogs in combination with Huhman’s list of links have become a great starting point as I dive into the next stage of the process: networking. With my cover letter and resume all polished, I am armed and ready. 

I now plan to contact the different organizations, hoping that e-mails and phone calls will provide me with more specific information about the companies, their available opportunities, and any further access and insight I can gain. Wish me luck!

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Building My Blog

Chris Brogan’s most recent blog post gives the perfect analogy for how to create and maintain your blog. He recommends that you consider each post like “a building block to something larger, instead of just loose pages of thought.” Chris Brogan

As opposed to thinking about my blog as an assignment or a random assortment of thoughts and responses to other blogs, I now consider it a series of entries in an overall creation. 

Because I have yet to enter the professional world of public relations, I have little expertise in any one area. So in building my blog, I have been sharing experiences as a public relations student. Most of you guys can probably relate to a lot of things that I have written about because you have either been students or are learning similar things about the industry.

However, my posts may also be of interest because I am part of the newest generation of PR students. We are blogging, twittering, creating podcasts and social network profiles, all as a part of our coursework. My posts can hopefully build on each other to create a guide for other students, a reference for PR professionals, and hopefully entertain and educate any other readers.

As I continue to blog, I will keep in mind Chris Brogan’s words and work to make sure that my posts fit together to add to something that is bigger than each individual entry.

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The Other To-Do List: Journaling

 

Let’s be honest, there’s a lot on everyone’s minds these days. I know that I have multiple to-do lists scattered around my room. 

Yet, in addition to all of the tasks I have to do, I have a lot of thoughts that I have to sort out. Recently my brain has been quite overcrowded. Then I was blessed with a hallelujah moment while reading Sonia Simone’s recent post, \”The Mad Ninja Skill for Getting Anything Done\”

Simone appropriately labels all of the random thoughts in our head as “gunk,” and she makes it evident that there is a lot of gunk in our brains that needs to get out.

You use a pen so that you cannot go back and erase anything. Then you can see exactly what you were thinking on paper. Sort out your thoughts, ease your feelings, and air them out. As Simone emphasizes, “Life works better when you’re not slowed down and confused.”

You can follow your thoughts and begin to operate more efficiently. So now when I’m suffering from a case of the scatter brain, I’m going to take out that pen and paper and let the thoughts flow. 

If anyone has any journaling tips  or other ways of sorting out ideas, please share!

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