Archive for the ‘RACE’ Category

This post is dedicated to the students about to present their campaigns (tomorrow) at Kent State… 

 All PRKenters (a.k.a. students in Kent State’s public relations sequence) heard horror stories about senior seminar/campaigns, which I wrote about here, from the time we entered the major.  All of those who had gone before us had the same words of warning.  It is the hardest class you will ever take.  You will either learn to love or hate the classmates in your group by the time it is all over.  You will stop sleeping, eating and having fun during that semester.  All of your life will be sucked away until the moment after your group presents to the client and it is all over.

I’ll admit under no uncertain terms that it was by far the most time-consuming and intense class I ever took.  I was completely immersed in my client, and my social life did disintegrate in front of my eyes.  It seemed that a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders when I was finally done and able to glimpse my ‘A’ through a film of happy tears.

 Obviously I’m not quite over it, and based on recent events, I’m glad for that.  Although I heard a number of students complain that it wasn’t really a necessary or real world experience for them because they didn’t plan to go into agency work where they would ever have to campaign for a client, I always disagreed on the premise that it was still a class that forced you to use what you had (hopefully) learned throughout the course of your major.  At the very least you had to work through each step of the RACE formula and appreciate in some small way its importance and significance.

The only problem with campaigns is really beyond the control of the classroom exercise, and that is that most people don’t get to go through another experience like that for some time.  Even if you enter an agency, you begin as an assistant account executive or maybe account executive, and while you might have some input or hand in helping with upcoming proposals for new business, you don’t have the bulk of the research, strategizing, writing and presenting trusted to you.  That is usually the task of a senior executive or account planner with years of experience.



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britney-spears-bald.jpgJust as I was getting used to my class schedule, workload and Britney Spears’ new hairdo, I realized there were a few items on the back-burner that had been simmering a little too long. Internship applications!


I have a few rules of thumb when it comes to applying for internships. (Interesting that this looks a little like the RACE process…)


  • Research: You have to know something about the company before you can begin convincing anyone that you are a perfect fit. Although you want experience, you want to make sure that the company can offer you the chance to learn new skills, enhance areas you already feel confident in, and take on responsibilities of your own so you can find out your real abilities. Just because the name of the agency or corporation may look good on your resume in the future doesn’t mean it’s going to offer you the best possible experience you can get.

  • Plan ahead: Due dates are usually set in stone, and it’s important to plan ahead for each application you are considering. Do the applications require writing samples, essays or recommendation letters? These elements all take time, and if you want to differentiate yourself from other applicants, take you submission seriously and choose samples of your work that represent your strengths. Leaving time to get your work together will also make a world of difference if you realize you are missing an extra copy of an article or your transcript when you’re ready to apply.

Allowing extra time will also endear you to those writing letters of recommendation for you. According to Kent State PR sequence coordinator Bill Sledzik, writing a great letter of recommendation for a student can take up to an hour. Your professors and former employers might be willing to help you out, but try to give them notice. Making sure you have an updated resume to send them for reference will also make their job easier.


  • Write, and write well: Most applications require more than just a cover letter and resume, which should both be flawless and specific to the company. It should come as no surprise that in public relations most of those extra materials will be writing-intensive. Ask your professors, friends and career service centers to critique your work for GSP mistakes and clarity.

  • Follow up: Once all of your applications are turned in, don’t just head off for spring break. Follow up with the contact for the internship to make sure they received your materials and let them know you are serious about the offer. Make sure you provide several contact methods so your potential employer can reach you with questions.

InternshipsMost importantly, don’t be afraid to apply. Although many internships note that previous experience is a plus, most companies realize that you have to start somewhere. Find ways to show how your classroom experiences, think print beat, principles of PR and news writing, and participation in extra-curricular activities and leadership roles have helped you understand the PR process and effective ways to communicate.


Showing that you understand the concepts and are ready and willing to apply them to the real world will give you a distinct advantage over someone who just needs to get an internship to graduate.


Be excited, be honest, and be yourself. The next challenge is when that phone rings…

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