Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Life After the Glory Days

By Becky Edwards, Assistant Account Executive

I know for certain I am not the only graduating individual worried about entering the “real world” that is fast approaching in fewer than 90 days.

The past four-plus years have been about homework, weekly agency meetings and waiting for allowance on the first of every month.

I know that I will soon have to come to terms that this will end, but I honestly don’t want to.

Reality is about to hit all of us... fast.

I like to think I plan ahead; though I still find myself doing a project the night before it is due and staying up late doing last-minute studying.

There is one thing that I have planned ahead for: finding a job after college.

Let’s be honest – the last thing most of us want to do is move home with our parents and work at the local coffee shop. We want to utilize our degrees and start our careers.

Here are some helpful tips for job-hunting:

  • Network. Everyone says it’s about who you know, not what you know. Networking has definitely helped me out tremendously during this stressful time. Talk to people every chance you get. You never know – that person sitting next to you might be the CEO of your favorite company.

  • Be professional. Make sure everything that the public can see about you is professional. Your social media platforms should not be filled with pictures from your college glory days. Remember that anything on the Internet is always out there. Clean it up.

  • Follow up. After all interviews and/or meetings, ALWAYS send a follow-up or thank you note. Employers want to know that you were appreciative of their time and interested in their company. It also helps them remember you.

  • Keep a portfolio. Having an online portfolio makes it easy for employers to see all your amazing work.

Be yourself, show off your amazing work and good luck to you all!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Taking My TOMS to Ghana

By Colby Smith, Assistant Account Executive and Photographer/Videographer

I get questions about all sorts of stereotypes, generalizations and mistruths after I tell people I studied abroad in Africa:

Africa is a country. Safaris. Starving children with guns. Jungles surround you. People speak in tongues.

And of course I have to tell people I studied in Africa, because if I tell them Ghana I get, "Um … you studied where?"

School children and me while we were visiting the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial. 
Africa, in fact, is NOT a country. I am guilty of going on a safari, but not on top of a Land Rover. I spent most of my time in dirty taxis, and I’m not exaggerating. Ghanaian taxis are full of dirt.

As corny as it sounds, Africa has always had a special place in my heart. I was lucky enough to be in an international studies program in high school, where for an entire semester I learned about Africa and fell in love.

While I was taking my African studies course, a new shoe company called TOMS was just starting up. I was super interested, did some research and found for every pair of shoes you buy, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need.

I was floored. What an amazing idea! Although they started out giving in South America, I hoped they would expand to Africa – and they did. I crossed my fingers all throughout high school that they would survive as a company, because I knew I needed to be involved.

When I began school at Chico State, I looked into options to fulfill my dream of going to Africa, which proved to be out of my budget. But by some miracle, I landed the Gilman Scholarship last year and was able to pay for my trip.

Though extremely broke now, I wouldn’t take back a penny. The culture is warm, happy and blossoming. Accra, the capital of Ghana, is a bustling city. The students at the University of Ghana are the friendliest people I have ever come across. As a soccer player and photographer, Ghana was gold.

I volunteered at a school, where my fellow students and I were able to teach lessons. The children were the highlight of my trip.

But my eye-opening experience was when I traveled to Larabanga, a small village in northern Ghana. It was almost as if I was in a different country. You read in the news about people living in shacks and shipping containers, but it is entirely different to witness it. The kids in the village were swarmed with flies, had  tattered clothes – and they were shoeless.

Not only did I return to the U.S. with the most humbling experience I have ever had, but with burning inspiration.

So here I am. After this semester, I have one year of college left and a new dream: getting TOMS to do a shoe drop in Ghana.

 My favorite little boy from Larabanga.

Friday, February 24, 2012

M. O. H. 101

By Jackie Richardson, Account Executive

A wedding can be the happiest time of one’s life … but does anyone think about the exhausting task of being the maid of honor?

When my sister asked me to be her maid of honor, I was ecstatic; but then I realized what I really got myself into.
Those of you who have a sister who has recently been married or engaged know exactly what I am talking about: the thousands of emails, late-night phone calls, endless conversations about hair, makeup, dresses, invites, flowers, garters, bridal showers, bachelorette parties and so much more.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my sister. She is my partner in crime, and I love my future brother-in-law. I already consider him part of the family. I wouldn’t exchange being the maid of honor and helping plan every last detail of their wedding for anything else in the world. But being the maid of honor of such an event is like having a full-time job.

For those of you who have no idea what tasks a maid of honor is responsible for, let me list just a few:

  • Go with the bride to choose her wedding gown
  • Go with the bride to choose her second wedding gown – for those of you who have a sister like mine!
  • Help the bride choose the location
  • Help the bride choose the wedding invitations
  • Help the bride register for gifts
  • Help the bride create the seating arrangements
  • Host the bridal shower
  • Host the bachelorette party
  • Attend all bridal fairs with the bride
  • Be prepared to run hundreds of errands leading to the big day
  • Stay by the bride’s side throughout the entire wedding

The list could go on and on.
A few pointers I have learned along the way include:
  • Stay calm. Wedding planning can be very overwhelming. Remember, you’re there to help the bride, not freak her out even more.
  • Be honest. If the bride tries on a dress that you don’t care for, be sure to let her down easy.
  • Keep the bride happy. You’re there for support. The happier the bride, the more fun the wedding planning is.

Without these tips and my event planning skills learned through my education in public relations, I would not be the sister/best friend/maid of honor that I want to be.

Good luck to all maid of honors and/or future maid of honors! Keep in mind that this is the most important time in the bride’s life. Stay calm, be honest, keep the bride happy and be sure to create a
checklist for the big day.

Kristen and Kyle will be wed July 7, 2012, in San Francisco.

My sister and me. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Purrrfect PR

 By Ashlee Bischoff, Social Media Director

 No, I’m not crazy. No, I don’t sit at home and knit outfits for my cats. No, I don’t have disgusting hygiene. And no, I don’t plan on being a spinster.

Why is there such a negative connotation associated with owning a cat? I love my cats! Besides teaching me core lessons in responsibility, I think they have several qualities I can learn from. In fact, I would even go as far as to say they help me learn how to be a better PR professional.
1. Who said a little independence was a bad thing?
So what if my cats like to go off and do their own thing sometimes. It’s not a bad thing to embrace independence. Not every client is the same and neither is every agency. As a PR practitioner, it’s important to embrace your unique ideas and strategies. Keep thinking in the back of your mind, “What makes me different? How do I stand out?” Whether you’re applying for a job in the field of PR or pitching an idea, your individuality is what makes you a winning candidate.
2. Value companionship.
However, it’s a fallacy to say that cats are completely independent. They are domesticated pets, for goodness’ sake. Just like in public relations, they know the value of companionship. Remember, your team is there to help you. Every job, whether it is an account executive or support, plays a very important role. Keep the lines of communication open and work together.

3. Curiosity does NOT kill cats.
Ignore the old superstition that curiosity is what killed the cat. Trust me: it’s not true. As journalists and professionals in PR, it is crucial to keep up to date. The media is your best friend; use it. Subscribe to blogs, read the news and watch television. You don’t want to be the last one to know information about your own client. 

4. Add some attitude to your work.
Cats can be sassy. However, you should never be sassy unless it’s with your work. Use that sass in your writing and pitches. What makes your press release worth reporting on? What makes your idea better than someone else’s? Add some flavor and originality to what you produce. It will make it stand out.

5. Cats are a woman’s best friend.  
Build a relationship with the media and make it a lasting one. Reporters are more likely to cover stories from contacts they know and trust. Media relations is one of the most critical components of PR. It’s never too early to build a strong media list and make those connections. 

6. Finally, don’t forget a catnap.
Remember to breathe and relax! Public relations can be overwhelming, so take a step back and clear your head.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stitching Out the Stress

By Megan Hoffman, Editorial Assistant

It’s a long, tiring day. Many of my peers are preparing to go home and nap, hit the gym, play some video games or even knock back a beer or two. But not me.
I’m going home to cross-stitch.
Much like needlepoint, cross-stitching creates images on fabric using needle and thread. However, these images are formed through X’s in squares, much like pixels form a picture. The more pixels, the more detailed the picture.
I began cross-stitching small projects at the age of 10, no doubt an idea of my mother’s to keep my hands busy and out of trouble. However, as I have gotten older and worked on longer, more detailed projects, I’ve begun to realize that stitching has not only become a part of me, it is something I strongly recommend to all my male and female friends for several reasons.
1. It helps you study. According to the Secrets of Studying website, cross-stitching is one of the many artistic projects you can do as a brainteaser. If you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself and enhance the power of your brain, try stitching it up.
2. It helps relieve stress. While stitching, you are forced to concentrate on what you’re doing, which helps leave any worries behind. In research conducted by the Stitchlinks website, stitching is one of the activities that is recommended to treat depression or achieve a relaxed, meditative state.
3. It helps you learn patience. Stitchlinks also found that stitching helps you be more calm and understanding when you have a problem such as undoing a knot or making a mistake. Just as taking pictures is simple, carefully placing together each pixel that forms a picture can take much more patience.
4. It’s a portable stress reliever. The great thing about stitching is that you can take it anywhere. Waiting for two hours at the DMV? Cross-stitch so you won’t kill the lady at the counter. Long plane flight? Cross-stitch to pass the time.

5. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. When I cross-stitch, I’m normally creating projects for other people. Also, once I’ve finished, the work of art that I’ve just created makes me feel very proud of myself after all the effort that it took to finish the project.

So, ready to suppress that stress? Stitch your way into joy with me! I guarantee it’ll be worth the time.

My finished project.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lessons for a Lifetime

 By Kelsey Barnes, Account Executive

In some places becoming an adult is a highly recognized event that is seen as one of the most exciting points in a person’s life. Many cultures recognize this stage as a “coming of age.” It represents the transition from childhood to adulthood.

So when do Americans come of age? Is it when we get our wisdom teeth out? Is it when we can drive? Or maybe when we turn 21?

I personally think you become an adult when you decide to take full responsibility for yourself. Your actions, your behavior and your life all come back to you. I learned this when I realized that I am the only person who can get me where I want to be.

The world can be a large, intimidating and, at times, scary place. This is one of the rude awakenings when going to college: You are fully responsible for yourself. No more mom and dad telling you what to do, how to live or what your limits are.

With my time spent at Chico State, I think I’ve been able to accept and adapt to my coming of age. I’ve had the opportunity to spread my little wings and learn some key life skills here that have shaped me into a well rounded, independent, self-sufficient individual.

Some lessons were learned the hard way and others were easier. Lessons have included managing my own bank account, budgeting, buying groceries, making time to work out, getting the proper amount of sleep, studying effectively and so much more.

I would have to say the most important lessons I have taken from my experiences are to
  • Prioritize your life
  • Do the best you can do
  • Always take care of yourself
There are a few people who have supported me through this and have helped me get to where I am today. Something I do feel very lucky to have had in my college experience has been the journalism department here at Chico State.  

With the support of my peers, the dedication of my teachers and our well-built program, I feel prepared to go into the “real world” and find a nice little spot for myself somewhere.

Note: This picture inspired me for the topic of my blog. This is my best friend, Lacey, (left) and me (right) on my 12th birthday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Musings from a Designer

By Leza Ahrens, Graphic Designer
I had the opportunity to work on a logo for the Center for Entrepreneurship this summer. Thrilled with the opportunity, I couldn't wait to get started. When the time finally came, however, I was stumped. I couldn't think of anything to make into a logo; my mind was blocked.

I am sure many designers, writers and entrepreneurs go through this all the time. I am here to write about what I do when I run into problems like this and how to work with a client.

Where to Start?
Guidelines were given to me after talking with the client:
  • Make a corporate identity that will last for years
  • Use any graphic
  • Use any stylized letters

I could do anything I wanted – as long as it was appropriate, of course. So, how did I get the ball rolling? I did a little research (through Google and  entrepreneur.com) and started sketching.

When I sketch, I usually draw a bunch of squiggly lines or shapes over and over again until I see something. Looking at my sketches, a person can't possibly see anything in them, but for me they spark an idea. I researched anything that would relate to entrepreneurs.

When I run out of ideas, I work on other projects. Usually when I work on other things it helps me gather ideas for other purposes. This is why I am constantly working.  

Working With the Client
After I came up with several different prototypes, I sent them to my client. He polled the other professors in the department to find the favorite ones. I took the top two, added a color scheme and  sent them back to the client where the final one was chosen. The client then wanted to see variations of the logo. After many revisions, the client and I were satisfied with the outcome.

Working with a client can be tedious, especially when you're stuck on ideas. As long as you ask questions, do the research, rest and relax, it will end up becoming a great experience.

If you have to keep revising your work, don't worry about it or take it personally. Always make the client happy, but don’t forget to give your input because in the end it helps both of you understand each other.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coffee's Local Flavor

 By Alia Gray, PR Director

 Hi. My name is Alia … and I’m addicted to coffee.

As a public relations student and an athlete, my days tend to fill up pretty quickly. So, I rely on my favorite performance enhancer: a strong French roast, with just a touch of cream.

Seriously, though – on those rare mornings that I fail to factor in enough time to grab my morning cup of joe, my eyelids droop a dangerous amount and my motor functions just aren’t there.

Coffee Craze

The mere thought of coffee actually has the power to get me out of bed in the morning.

I know that I’m far from being alone here. The love/dependence on coffee that many people share has allowed companies like Starbucks to make boatloads of money.

Local Flavor

In my own coffee ventures, I decided to start trying out some of the local shops that Chico has to offer. Empire Coffee, Naked Lounge and Augie’s Cafe are just a few locally-owned and operated coffee venues.

These places supply a unique ambiance, often exhibiting the work of local artists. As it turns out, the coffee prices generally aren’t any more than your generic Starbucks or Peet’s.

Don’t get me wrong – Starbucks and Peet’s have been very, very good to me in the past. There is definitely something to be said about a quality product with consistency.

However, I’ve decided to use my addiction to better the local economy when I can, even if it’s in small, simple ways.

When I’m choosing what cafe I want to spend my afternoon in to get some work done, I try to lean toward locally-owned operations. That way, I get my daily fix and give my local stomping ground a boost. Win-win.

At least my addiction is benefiting something, right?

Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee.” – Stephanie Piro   

Friday, February 10, 2012

How to Make a Business Card

By Mark Rojas, Art Director 

Business cards are very important networking tools, not just a resource to try to win free lunches. My basic recommendations include carrying them with you at all times and to not be afraid to deal them out in multiple quantities.

I have made a video to show you the basics of making your own card that you can print at home. To fully utilize the guide you will need access to a computer with Adobe InDesign 5 (earlier editions will not work with the template) and buy some heavy paper at your local supply store. Color is optional but please be conservative and do not use too many colors.

If you have any questions about the video or want a more clear description comment below and I will be sure to answer when available.

Thanks for reading and good luck at landing that dream career. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Clue Into Your Craze

By Megan Grasty, General Manager
My passion for food, cooking, eating and baking has led me to discover a new version of cookbooks: blogs.

I’ve found that food blogs are an enhanced version of a cookbook; they have a never-ending index of recipes utilizing the most up-to-date trends in food.

New and interesting recipes aren’t the only things I look for when finding a new blog to follow, the wit of the writer is just as important to me.

My all-time favorite blog is Joy the Baker. She not only has delicious recipes, but she includes charm and humor into her edible storytelling.

 Some of my other favorites are: 
Reading these blogs might be my form of entertainment, but blogs should also be used as educational tools for industry trends.

As PR practitioners, it is imperative to stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Whether working in tech, lifestyle or entertainment, there are blogs to follow.

I used to think I wasn’t interested in the tech industry until I started following the blog Mashable through an app on my iPhone. Now I find myself curious about Google’s next move or explaining issues such as SOPA to my friends.

Some other useful tech blogs include

The lifestyle industry has always been an interest of mine as well, from food to travel to hospitality and more.

Some lifestyle blogs:

Basically blogs are a fast and fun way to keep informed, learn new facts and remain in touch with the latest craze.

Whether following your passion or following your industry, figure out what you love and immerse yourself in it.