6 tips for enhancing your resume

One: Show your creative side.

Sure, Elle Woods went a little overboard when she decided to make her resume on pink, scented paper, but there are definitely appropriate ways to showcase your creativity on paper.

For example, choose an appropriate accent color to use sparingly throughout your document and consider creating a simple logo to set yourself apart.

Two: Quantify your accomplishments.

The more you can quantify previous experience and accomplishments, the better a potential employer can understand your abilities.

According to CareerBuilder, “A job responsibility is something that you do on a daily basis; a quantified achievement is the result of that responsibility.” It is crucial to convey both to potential employers.

Three: Break out the thesaurus. 

Resumes’ work experience sections typically consist of short, bulleted descriptions. We recommend beginning each point with a strong verb that helps potential employers visualize what you’ve done.

Some verbs we chose for our resumes include: designed, developed, composed, informed, interviewed, localized, recruited, researched and supervised.

Four: Check for typos and grammar mistakes.

It is important that your resume and the email it is attached to are free of typos and grammatical errors. Spellcheck does not catch everything. Be aware of the common misuse of homophones, commas and hyphens. 

Five: Double check for typos and grammar mistakes. 

Once you are positive that your resume has zero errors check it again. We are shocked and amused by the amount of candidates that do not know how to spell the name of their city, neglect to spell our names and our firm’s name properly in emails and think the capitalization function on the keyboard should be used as frequently as the spacebar.

 Six: Be honest.

If your resume’s skill section is lacking it may be tempting to add a program in which you are not quite efficient or a language in which you’re not quite fluent, but don’t. Always be honest about your skills and experience. Actually, just always be honest!

Five tips to make the most of your PR internship

So you landed a dream internship with a reputable PR firm. Congratulations! But simply completing an internship alone won’t separate you from the many other students who will soon be applying for full-time jobs upon graduation. So how can you make the most of your experience to gain an edge over your competition? We’ve had our fair share of interns and know what it takes to make it in the PR industry, so we came up with five helpful tips to getting the most out of your internship experience.

One: Always act professional. This should go without saying, but your behavior in person and through technology makes as much of an impression on colleagues and clients as the work you produce. In order to act professionally, you should dress to impress, treat all colleagues and clients with respect and always arrive early or on time to work and meetings.

Two: Let your work speak for itself. If you deliver quality work and give each assignment great care, your boss will notice. It’s always better to go above and beyond with your work than to come up short. There’s nothing worse than getting an email from your supervisor asking you to redo something or put more effort into an assignment. If you don’t put a lot of effort into your projects, not only will you waste time redoing them, or even worse waste someone else’s time, but you will hurt your chances of securing a job with the company in the future.

Three: Never hesitate to communicate your career goals to your boss. After all, he/she has been in the industry longer than you have and would probably love to offer advice and guidance. Also, how will he/she know to contact you for, say, that media relations job opening when you graduate if you don’t tell him/her how passionate you are about that type of work?

Four: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You aren’t expected to know everything. Part of your role as an intern is to soak up as much knowledge about the industry as you possibly can. Find the right balance between asking questions and taking your own initiative, though, because an intern who has to ask a question about every single step of a process may become more of a burden than an asset to the company. Overall, questions are encouraged.

Five: During your internship, don’t be afraid to branch out and begin building relationships with people inside and outside your industry. You never know who could be a useful contact in the future.

All in all, it’s important to look at your internship as more than a 9-5 job with a light at the end of the tunnel. Work hard, take it seriously and treat it like a permanent job, and you will leave with more than just another line on your resume.

It’s not what you know…or is it?

What is media relations really? Is it maintaining strong relationships with local, regional and even national media contacts? Or is it scouring the newspapers, magazines, Internet sites, TV stations, radio stations and all the other outlets out there, until you find a reporter?

To answer that, let me take you back to Auburn University, in Rick Smith’s Mass Communications class. Rick said, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know. Now, I, and your other professors will teach you the ‘what,’ but it’s up to you to find the who.”

As PR pros, it is our job to know to whom we are pitching our ideas. Schroder PR prides itself on having strong media contacts. I have met reporters and editors through the firm, my colleagues, through clubs and organizations in which I am involved and even Twitter! I also utilize our subscription to the database of thousands of reporters to find which beats reporters cover and how they liked to be contacted.

Part of the ‘what’ is knowing what the ‘who’ is writing. As Bailee wrote in “Reader of the News,” we are constantly reading publications, websites and any other news sources out there to keep updated with reporters’ works.

Another part of the ‘what’ that I’ve learned at SPR is having a complete story and messaging. We know what is and is not interesting, and so do reporters. Don’t pitch reporters with untimely or boring subjects!

So, does Schroder PR get hired for media relations based solely on our relationships with reporters? No. Do we get hired because we subscribe to every eNewsletter and paper, and read/watch/listen to as many outlets as we can? I don’t think so. I think we understand that media relations is, simply put, not only about who, but also about what you know.…read the full article here.

Why that journalist isn’t responding to you

Yes or no. Why don’t they just respond to me?

That’s one of the top complaints PR people have about journalists and it’s no wonder. We all hate to be ignored. Why can’t they just send an email telling you whether they are interested or not. It just takes a few seconds, right?

A lot of journalists, me included, receive more than 300 emails a day. Another thing to remember is that most journalists are working with constant deadlines. They have to remain focused on meeting those deadlines. And that can mean less time to respond to pitches such as yours.

This was a hard reality for me to swallow. I was raised as a well-mannered Southern girl who promptly writes thank-you notes following every occasion. I initially tried to respond to everyone who emailed me. Then I realized I could either take the polite route or I could take the professional route and actually get my work done.

So what can you do about it?

  • Do your homework before you send out a pitch. If you are targeting a few journalists in particular, spend a few minutes checking out their publications and what types of articles they write.
  • Don’t take it personally. If a journalist is not responding, chances are good that he or she is just not that into your pitch. It’s not personal.
  • Follow up, but only to a point. How you should follow up varies by each journalist. I don’t mind a follow-up email asking me if got their press release or the occasional phone call. But a lot of journalists would rather pick up a hissing rattlesnake than answer a follow-up phone call and they will more often than not respond poorly.

I wish I had a magic solution. Journalists and PR folk may often have an uneasy alliance. But we need each other to do our jobs.…read the full article here.

We are into interviewing season, but much of our intelligence is gathered before we ask the first question.

Although we interview qualified candidates for our PR firm year-round, our email inboxes get especially full this time of year as another class of public relations students approach graduation time.

Just looking at the documents a candidate initially sends us completes much of our intelligence work on prospective teammates. When a résumé comes in by email, our fingers linger above the delete button, ready to press it should we find any of these items in the included documents:

  • Bad document name: If the résumé document itself is named “PR version,” then we know you aren’t focused on our industry, but instead are casting a wide net.
  • Signs of mass email distribution: If the email or letter is addressed to “Hiring Manager” or “HR Department” or “To Whom it May Concern,” then we know the candidate never researched our company before pressing “send.” So we press delete.
  • Verbosity: if a student in college can’t condense his or her brief history into one page, then we know they won’t meet our firm’s mission to develop “Clear Messages in a Cluttered World.”
  • Self-centeredness: If their introductory narrative is all about what a job at our firm can do for the applicant and his or her career, then we figure another firm can accommodate their needs.
  • No work history: you don’t have to have internships with other PR firms, but having no work history at all is a sign we’ll have to train you on a lot of basics. We once had to advise a young employee of the value of showering before coming to work!

So that’s just a list of what we can discern from looking at the résumés. You can imagine what we find when we type a candidate’s name into Google! We’ll save that for another posting.…read the full article here.

One of my favorite holidays: National Grammar Day

March 4th was National Grammar Day – did you not celebrate? The day serves as not only a celebration of language, but also as a day to raise awareness of what it means to write and speak well. At Schroder PR, we take an AP style quiz before our staff meetings twice a month, so I’ll use some feedback from those to begin.

Firstly, adverbs have to be one of the most wrongly used parts of speech. For example, bad versus badly is surprisingly confusing. Sometimes I want to use “badly” because I think I need an adverb in my sentences, when I should simply be using, “bad.” For example, “I feel badly about that.” That sentence could be interpreted as meaning your sense of touch is bad. So, remember: when you’re sick, you feel bad. When you’re remorseful, you feel bad about it.

Who and whom are another example of words that are habitually interchanged, but it’s actually a fairly easy rule to remember. “Who” refers to the subject of a sentence, and “whom” refers to the object of a sentence. If you can answer the question with him, use whom. If you can answer the questions with he, use who.

Let’s try it. (Who/Whom) will we listen to tonight? We will listen to him. In this example, “Whom” is appropriate. (Who/Whom) will accept the delivery? He will accept the delivery. In this example, “Who” is appropriate.

Another mistake that I didn’t realize was so common until I was asked about it last week – using apostrophes in inappropriate places. I’ve noticed that people love apostrophes. Have you ever seen this: “90’s?” Why would the ‘90s be possessive? You should either write it as “the 1990s,” or “the ‘90s.” Apostrophes indicate possession or are used in contractions, but they do not denote plurality.

Hope you all had a wonderful National Grammar Day! I can’t wait until next year! In the meantime, please share your list of annoying grammatical errors you see regularly…read the full article here.

Private Blunders and Public Apologies

We all make mistakes, and I’d like to think we all apologize when we’re in the wrong. Fortunately, not many people notice when I make a mistake – but when newsmakers such as Lance Armstrong, Manti Te’o, Anthony Weiner or a CEO of a major corporation make a blunder, the whole world pays attention.

The reputation of an organization or a celebrity is an intangible asset, but it’s an extremely important and valuable one. Many CEOs, actors and sports stars face a crisis situation with the potential to seriously damage their good reputations. When in this situation, a public apology is often the beginning of the road to redemption – whether through a statement, a press conference or an appearance on Oprah or Katie Couric’s television show.

This hoax was perfect for Internet comedians – this GIF was one of many out there.

I thought about writing this post when I read that the alleged “mastermind” of the “dead girlfriend hoax” of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o – Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was going to tell his side of the story this week. Te’o has already scheduled an interview with Katie Couric. In a sermon last Sunday, Tuiasosopo’s father, a pastor at Oasis Christian Church, told his congregation that he was learning to say “No comment” in 20 languages!

With my crisis training at Schroder PR, the first thing I thought was – that’s the last thing he should say! Maybe 20 years ago, “no comment” was the advisable go-to response for responding to hard-hitting questions, but not anymore. The world has changed. When the public reads that phrase now, it assumes the party is guilty and being evasive.

I do think it’s smart that the whole Tuiasosopo family is planning to meet to figure out when and how to tell Manti’s “side” of the hoax story. They should get the complete story gathered in an understandable narrative and then decide who is going to be the family spokesperson. Whoever is behind the hoax, “No comment” isn’t going to pass muster with the public and the media – both of which feel duped. Tuiasosopo isn’t well known, or even a little known, and he and his family are already under the media spotlight. It will be very interesting to see how they plan on responding – and hopefully apologizing.

Another recent fiasco in the news is Lance Armstrong speaking about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. He sat down with Oprah (who else) and addressed the doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating and the drugs throughout his career.

Lance apologized on the show – and that’s worth something right? An apology to all those he inspired, competed against and beat probably came to welcome ears. Throughout the first night’s interview, Armstrong appeared “defiant, distant, difficult” and “arrogant, unaware, flippant.” He obviously had a coach – and the plan was to appear open and honest. If you saw the interview, you could tell it was rehearsed, until he apparently went off script on the second night.

On some level, Armstrong seemed to understand that he had to make a perfunctory admission – but that’s all he gave. In my opinion, a person who is genuinely sorry doesn’t say they looked up the definition of the word “cheat” and then declares he doesn’t think he meets that definition.

Another interesting part of the interview was Armstrong referring to himself in third person. He seemed to be trying to distance himself by calling himself “Lance Armstrong,” and trying to separate “that part of my life” from “this part of my life.” Given his celebrity, we all expected him to be media-trained, but I can imagine his PR team wasn’t thrilled with the way he appeared on camera. Even with the best team and the most media training – you can’t prevent someone who has no remorse from giving a fake apology and diminishing his or her brand.

There may not be just one way to publicly apologize, but we definitely have witnessed a lot of examples of what not to do. In giving an apology, choosing the appropriate venue or outlet is important. Armstrong could’ve conducted his first interview since being stripped of his titles with anyone – but he chose Oprah, assumedly because he thought it would be the best chance for an image revival.

CEOs have internal and external audiences – including investors, employees, customers, competitors and media – to worry about. Waffle House CEO Joe Rogers Jr. recently came under public scrutiny when he was accused of sexual harassment. He managed it remarkably well, telling his employees about the scandal before it broke in the media. In his apologies to the media, he spoke of the pain and embarrassment he’d caused his wife and family – showing sympathy for others, not himself. He accepted wrongdoing, although he denied any sexual misconduct.

Once a press conference, television appearance or other event is scheduled, it’s important to prepare an open and transparent apology. Showing respect for victims and accepting blame should be a perfectly human response, but demonstrating genuine action that corrects any wrongdoing would be divine.

Sarah Funderburk