The New On-Demand Lifestyle

By Jim Parham, Chief Operating Officer

The third season of “House of Cards,” premiered last week. Well, premiere may not be the right term – the whole season downloaded in one fell swoop.

I’m a fan of  “binge watching” – you know, get a few friends together and watch Frank Underwood give a few asides, then you want to see more. No longer do you have to wait a week to see the next episode. No longer do you have to deal with 30-second messages about E.D.-fighting drugs or insurance. Today, it’s about content delivered where, when and how you want it and as much as you want it.

Go ahead, watch all 13 Netflix episodes in a two-day binge. You will undergo the same endless sensory overload experienced by Johnny Depp in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

While TV still has a big audience, The New York Times noted that, “Prime-time ratings for the Big Four broadcasters are dropping more precipitously than ever.”  Part of the problem might be demographics: Business Insider recently reported on a “generational shift in which younger viewers don’t want cable or satellite service, just wireless Internet that allows them to view video on their tablets and laptops.”

Just as we’ve seen the tanking of newspaper readership and subscription rates, there’s more on the horizon. Most likely, there will continue to be an assault on traditional television viewership as we move to a converged communication platform where the tablet, cellphone and laptop are all things to all people. Sure, we’ll sit in front of the 50-inch for an HD version of the Super Bowl, but that’s more of a social function than functionality.

Let’s not forget about where a lot of good “television” is coming from: HBO, Showtime and Netflix.  Looking at the list of Emmy nominations each year, it’s hard to tell that network television exists.  “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Veep” and “Game of Thrones” are landing huge market shares, even though they are accessible through subscription-based services.

It appears to me, more and more people want high quality entertainment that’s smart, entertaining and uninterrupted. Sure, many watch “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol,” but things are changing fast. Reality TV may have been a big hit for the broadcast industry, but there are only so many New Jersey housewives out there.  Thank God.

As traditional broadcasters feel the hot breath of competition, fueled by technology, they may want to turn to the inspirational wisdom of Frank Underwood: “There is but one rule:  Hunt or be hunted.”

6 Pieces of Advice for Aspiring PR Pros

By Kendall Bybee, Account Manager

I was recently approached by an old college peer of mine to answer some questions for one of her PR classes at my alma mater, Indiana University (GO IU!). The questions she asked were thought-provoking and ones that I often mulled over myself when I was in college (oh the good old days). As a fairly new PR pro trying to hack it in the business, I wanted to share my responses with those who are on the brink of graduation and might be looking for some answers and clarity about the industry.

So let’s dive right in…

1. What competencies are needed for a successful career in public relations?

First and foremost, you need to be a great writer. I honestly don’t think there is a more valuable skill to have in PR than being an above average writer – be able to write well, often and fast. Organization is another quality that I believe all employers look for. Especially at the agency level where you’re constantly juggling multiple different clients at a time and usually have to quickly jump from one account to the next throughout the day. Thinking strategically and knowing how to properly conduct research are also key competencies. Lastly, I think being a people person and a good communicator is vital – that is, of course, if you ever wanted to be trusted to be put in front of a client.

2. What criteria do you use to assess the abilities of a potential employee in public relations?

A potential PR employee must be well-rounded with a broad understanding of all aspects of communications. The world of PR is ever-changing and employers are constantly demanding new skills from their employees. Therefore, you must be flexible and able to adapt and grow with the needs of your clients. Also, potential employees should be passionate and curious with a strong desire to learn. You must be bold and creative, quick on your feet, and have a genuine interest in people and building relationships.

3. What PR competencies and skills do you typically miss when you encounter recent college graduates?

Generally speaking, I think the skills that college graduates usually lack are in the areas of strategic thinking and research. It’s honestly the foundation of everything we do and two skills that often get overlooked in college. You use these skills to solve problems, write communications plans, to develop successful campaigns and to monitor and measure those campaigns. Strategic as well as creative thinking is an absolute must when you’re trying to maximize your resources and implement the best possible campaigns and plans for your clients.

I also think media relations gets wildly overlooked in college. I believe it’s a huge part of PR and needs to be built into every college curriculum for majors including journalism, public relations, strategic communications, etc.

4. What should a college students focus on in their PR studies?

Focus on the above. And then focus on your weaknesses. There’s nothing better than a well-rounded graduate who is capable in all areas. Hirons is a full-service agency, meaning we offer services in all areas including public relations, advertising, marketing, media relations, media planning and buying, design and production. I didn’t solely focus on PR in college (although is was my specialty), I also took classes in graphic design, advertising, research, intensive writing and marketing. These additional skills not only helped me build a comprehensive and versatile portfolio but they also set me apart from other candidates gunning for the same position.

5. What should college students know about public relations before they graduate?

I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before, but you’ll never fully understand it until you step into your first PR job out of the college – this is a fast-paced industry we work in. There is no such thing as a “slow day” or “down time,” or at least rarely. For me, this is the kind of environment I thrive in and that’s why I chose to begin my career at an independent agency. I love having my hands on multiple different projects and being able to work with and learn from our media, creative and production teams in the agency. It’s a busy, hectic, stressful, crazy job – but it’s also extremely rewarding and SO much fun.

6. Do you have any other advice for PR students?

Start small and finish big. What I mean by that is choosing to work at an independent agency like Hirons verses a larger global firm in a bigger city was the best decision I could’ve made for myself. Not everyone will agree with me on this, but there is true value in starting out in a more intimate setting where you’re able to really learn the ins and the outs of the industry, where you’re trusted with more responsibility and really able to show people what you can do. Downside to working at an independent agency that has a lot of big clients? Long hours, late nights and early mornings. I’ve worked from 7am to 9pm before prepping for a big press conference that was expected to last a total of 20 minutes. Were the long hours worth it in the end? Absolutely. The skills I’m acquiring at Hirons right now is arming me for my future.

Expect the unexpected. Cliché, I know, but it also could not be more true. There is never a “normal” day at the office, which is one of the reasons why I love my job. I don’t thrive in a routine-kind-of environment – I love chaos and I love solving problems. If you’re looking for a job where you can walk through the door each day and know exactly what’s going to happen, PR is not for you. Have I received 11pm emails from clients who needed a press release by 6am the next day? Yes. One thing I didn’t realize when I came into this industry was that we are on the clock 24/7. We don’t live in an 8am-5pm world. Be prepared for that.

Love what you do. If you don’t love your work, there’s no way for you to ever fully reach your potential. Since starting at Hirons 8 months ago, I cannot tell you how far I’ve come as a young professional. I feel more confident, more experienced and more able then I ever have before and more sure that I’ve chosen the right career path.

From the Big Apple to Indy, How PR differs in the Markets

By Elizabeth Friendland

Throughout my decade of experience in advertising and public relations, I’ve worked in both New York (literally on Madison Avenue, a la Don Draper) and Indianapolis. The former always seems to impress clients and bosses, and is usually followed by a wide-eyes stare and a “So what’s it like?

Honestly? Working in the media capital of the world is a lot like working in good ‘ol Indy.

Clients are demanding. Deadlines are tight. The workday creeps into the nights and weekends. Account management and creative continue to disagree. Budgets run over. RFPs are both full of dread and excitement.

That’s not say there weren’t a few differences – but they might not all be what you’d expect.

1. Media relations didn’t get any easier.

Often, clients (and sometimes bosses) assume that by virtue of living in New York City, a PR professional is better equipped to know the right journalists (and therefore produce great placements). I’ve landed clients in the biggest outlets you can name, from The New York Times to Vogue to the Today Show — and it wasn’t because I had a 212 area code.

Rather, I got these placements through traditional research; I zeroed in on a contact (producer, reporter, booker) that I thought would be receptive, I contacted them with a super-targeted and personalized pitch regarding a truly compelling story, and I followed up.  Sure, occasionally I’d grab drinks or lunch with a writer, but that usually happened long after we solidified a working relationship through phone and email contact. I can assure you no one checked my zip code when deciding whether to run a story or not.

2. The industry environment was actually less competitive.

I’ve found that smaller markets, such as Indy, are actually much more competitive and cutthroat than larger markets like New York. In Indianapolis and other similarly sized cities, there are a limited number of clients that can afford the services of agencies; therefore, we’re all trying that much harder to vie for a smallish pool of business. For professionals, finding a job can be extremely tough – there are very few positions to go around, so agencies can be hyper-selective.

In New York, it seems nearly everyone works in or around the advertising industry, and jobs are plentiful. While it’s easier to get a foot in the door and obtain a job offer, the stakes are higher; there’s a seemingly endless supply of New York transplants waiting behind you to take the job you won’t (or can’t) do. While agencies in New York do have egos, it doesn’t feel as cutthroat as a small town; there’s plenty of business to pass around.

3. Clients took more risks.

Yes, it’s a cliché that Midwestern owned or based businesses are more conservative, but I’ve experienced this to be true. While few clients, regardless of geography, are flexible enough to totally run with any crazy idea an agency pitches its way, my New York clients seemed to have a larger capacity for risk. Perhaps this reflected a more liberal culture, or perhaps it was solely a business decision – to compete in a larger market, you sometimes have to be over-the-top to attract attention.

4. Salaries were inflated (but it didn’t help).

I remember sitting in the president’s office when she gave me graduate for my first big girl job offer. She asked what I wanted to be paid, and I told her a number nearly ten thousand more than I was making in Indianapolis as a receptionist/PR assistant. As I steadied myself for her shock and horror, she laughed and exclaimed, “Oh, we can do much better than that!” and then threw out a number more than double what I had been making. I had visions of myself living in a penthouse apartment, rolling around in a bathtub filled with dollar bills. I was rich!

That didn’t last long. The reality of New York City rent, utilities and elevated prices on everything from food to toilet paper set in, and within a month I was phoning home for cash infusions. While my salary would have placed me solidly in the upper middle class in Indianapolis, I was struggling to cover the very basics in New York.

5. The pace was unrelenting.

There’s a reason Sinatra sang, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” New York doesn’t hold your hand. I found myself in the office before 6 a.m. and heading home close to midnight. I’m not sure I took an actual lunch hour the entire time I worked there (but man, do I miss deli deliveries!). While my bosses and supervisors were all lovely people and supportive in their own way, there was not the kind of mothering or hand-holding that is truer to the Midwestern spirit. “Figure it out!” was the refrain I heard time and time again.

Punctuation, period.

By Madeline Morgan, Senior Editor/Writer 

Punctuation, like underwear, serves an important function: It holds disparate elements together without drawing attention to itself. At least most of the time.

Punctuation should never get in the way of content. Take the period for example. It is used for complete sentences (with a noun and verb) and lets the reader take a breath. Perhaps the biggest problem I face as an editor is long run-on sentences. Here is a not-so-recent (and cleverly disguised) example that begs to be split in two:

Following the gift from Maurice and Madam Magician, the most beautiful gift in the prince’s kingdom and one of the most beautiful gifts ever to a royal kingdom in the Scottish Lands, Royal Prince Henry received an outpouring of beautiful gifts from merchant businesses such as Robert Down’s shop and Junior Robert Down’s shop, which provided a most precious gift, and from individual townspeople and Prince Henry’s own serf and slave production facilities.

My kingdom for another period!

In advertising, the period is often used to provide emphasis: Stop. Look. Listen. But like anything useful, it can be abused: “Doing It Right. Before Your Eyes.”

Commas, parentheses, dashes and semi-colons bring clarity and order to a sentence. In short, commas allow for a short pause in a series, and they can be used to separate two simple sentences. Semi-colons can be used to separate two sentences, but they are kind of prissy and, to me, they violate the “not drawing attention to itself” maxim. But they have to be used to separate series containing internal commas:

We deliver extensive information to stakeholders through letters, newsletters and social media; we print yard signs, mailers and fliers; and we seek out endorsements from state and federal officials.

Commas, dashes and parentheses can be used to set off nonessential phrases (information that might be useful but isn’t necessary). While parentheses act as an aside, and commas as a pause, dashes do it with a flourish: She was the love of my life – the source of all that was good – and an excellent mouser.

(Clearly, I’m partial to dashes.)

As for colons … if you’ve read this far, you’ve seen them in use. And exclamation points! In public relations and advertising, we use a lot of these!

Or course, this has been a very cursory look at punctuation. There are many, many more rules; they are tiresome but necessary and too complicated to address in a blog. I’ve neglected apostrophes, quotation marks and hyphens (because they service words) and question marks (which I hope are self-explanatory).

Instead, I’ve focused on how simple punctuation can enhance sentences. In sum:

  • Generally, use periods to break up complete sentences, but don’t abuse them.
  • Use commas to offer gentle breaks in the action.
  • Use parentheses to whisper to your neighbor.
  • Avoid semi-colons if at all possible – they don’t make you look smarter!
  • Embrace the dash as an airy way of setting off information.
  • And consider the exclamation point as a treat you deserve only rarely.

Word Power: Yes, it Still Exists

Word Power: Yes, it still exists

Let’s be frank. Today, writing well still counts in many ways. But, sadly, there’s a lack of sophistication and purpose to much of what we read. Why? It may be that we’re living in a world of 140 characters, Facebook likes and Snap Chat. Short was always good, but clarity and meaning used to matter more.

At Hirons, we place a great deal of emphasis on good writing. We churn out a lot of copy: radio and television spots, news releases, website copy, brochures and fliers. Luckily, we have developed a strong, diverse team of communicators who provide solid, effective copy to clients. Our goal is that, as this material hits the printed page, Web or airwaves, people will respond to it. Our business depends on this skill. If we don’t write well, we don’t get a second chance.

Read more of COO Jim Parham’s blog here: PR Chronicle

Follow the PR Chronicle for real world advice from Jim Parham, who has 30 years of experience in the world of public relations.

 

 

PR for Dummies: A Basic Guide to Handling Media

By Blair Mulzer, Account Coordinator

My first call to a TV-station went horribly wrong.

I called the station, asked for the news desk, and waited for my call to be transferred. But then, once connected, I unloaded my script, ahem news pitch, as if every second wasted would result in less coverage for my client. Producers, news directors, reporters – all were scary, practically celebrities and too important to listen or care about my news tip, right? And then the fear of being rejected – being told “no thank you, we aren’t interested”, or even worse the lack of a real response, “we can’t promise anything, thanks.” – was all quite disheartening.

After venting to my coworker about my lack of success, it became evident that I had been doing it all wrong when she said, “Did you ask them how they are doing?”

Being relational, my friends, is the first and far most important ingredient I have found to be successful in media relations.

You, me and the news desk assistant, reporter, news director and producer all have something in common – we are all plain human. Regardless of our positions, we each have friends and family, a history, hobbies and lives outside of work, strange right? Not at all.

Therefore, it’s very important that you pitch your news like a person, not a robot. Have a discussion, not a one-sided lecture. As a PR professional, you need to build your media contacts. And you’re not going to get anywhere with people if you are a monotone individual who calls on occasion to pew out a news tip then hang up.

Let your personality free! It’s okay, actually great, to bond over your love for Kentucky if your reporter mentions she studied there – this actually happened, and as a result, is someone I now work often with. It’s a win-win relationship, you have a good story to sell, and they need a good story to broadcast.

Oh, and when your new Kentucky-loving media contact doesn’t use your story one time, it’s okay. Respect their right to choose the best story – because sometimes it’s just not the right fit or time.

This brings me to my next point, target someone who your story might actually make sense to, and be smart about it.

As a former editor-in-chief, I received numerous pitches a day. The ones that stuck out were not the 300-word, detailed story ideas, they were the short, direct and personal ones – A targeted, personal phone call or email that aligns with that reporter’s beat or topic of interest will go a long way for you.

And once you understand how to tell your story like a relational being who has done their homework, it’s time to follow up. Many pitches get buried in a reporter’s inbox, so make sure your story is top of mind without being pushy or forceful. That means, don’t call repeatedly. Send a follow up email later in the day with the charge that you will give them a call the next day or so to check in.

In addition, make their job as EASY as possible. Reporters often run around like chickens with their heads chopped off.

A longtime Indianapolis reporter told what a typical day looks like for her and other reporters. Most mornings she has no idea what story she will be submitting to her station that day. So when she is scrolling through her emails in the morning, she looks for the story idea that is both relevant and engaging to her audience and makes her life a little easier. That is, it is a huge bonus if you can offer up pictures and/or b-roll, interviews with a variety of people – because all news stories need to be well-rounded – and if you have a track record of being easily reachable.

While there are many other tips to offer up, these are the absolute basics. Be relational and respectful, create personal and targeted pitches, follow up, but don’t harass, and make a reporter’s job easy by covering as many of their needs as possible.

Mastering the Art of Multitasking

By Chloe Lyzun, Management Coordinator

As I write this I’m in the middle of scheduling meetings, facilitating the movement of projects between account management and the creative department, compulsively checking my email and editing a new business proposal. It may sound like a nightmare, but mastering the art of multitasking has allowed me more opportunities than I ever thought possible. I quickly learned towards the end of my college career that I was not prepared to commit to one career path for the rest of my life. Thankfully, Hirons trusted me enough to give me all sorts of different duties.

While it’s helpful to care about and see the value in all of your jobs, it’s important that you don’t give all of yourself to just one task. This blog, like every Buzzfeed article circling your Facebook timeline, provides a nice, neat list of how I stay sane despite having a dozen daily responsibilities.

Don’t get overwhelmed. The opportunity to take a breather is highly sought after in this business. I’m not going to get a thing done if my brain feels like it’s trying to go 8 different directions. It’s OK to take a deep breath and relax your mind for a second.

Make a list of attainable goals. If someone asks me to edit a 30 page focus group report, I have to break it down into smaller pieces. It’s a lot more fulfilling to check off six 5-page segments at a time.

Organize your time. More often than not, people give me things to read, edit, write, etc. that they want back “by the end of the day”. It’s usually reasonable, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time. Which leads me to my next point…

ALWAYS COMMUNICATE. Every crisis can be avoided if there’s plenty of communication. If I really am too busy, I’m not afraid to say no. It’s better than turning to my coworker at 4:55 and saying, “Yeah, this isn’t going to get done today.” Even the best multi-tasker has a breaking point. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Be a good writer. With as many little projects as I’m involved in, I don’t have time to write something shoddy and implement someone else’s changes later. We’re in the business of communications, yet I feel as though writing quality is the first thing sacrificed when people are pressed for time. If you have time to do something wrong twice, you have time to do it right once.

Listen to good music. I guess this one is a personal preference, as I’m sure there are plenty of people who prefer to work in silence. I’ll never understand that. I’d much rather zone out to Pink Floyd’s Animals than listen to my keys click as I race towards my deadline. Do I need to submit 15 purchase orders? Walk the Moon is going to help me power through. Need me crank out revisions of a 40-slide PowerPoint? Start up some James Taylor and watch me go.

And finally…

Smile. If you’re stressed out, chances are your coworkers are, too. Smile, and you’re making work just a little brighter. I’m sure that no one can say their office has too much light.

Hirons Welcomes Six New Hires: Agency’s digital and Creative Departments Continue to Grow

Hirons welcomes six new hires
Agency’s digital and creative departments continue to grow

Indianapolis — Hirons Advertising and Public Relations has made six strategic hires in multiple departments to bolster an already talented staff.

John Molloy, Carrie Marsteller and Luke Woody-Fehribach join Hirons’ creative department.

Molloy joins Hirons as executive creative director and brings a wealth of experience on regional, national and international brands along with numerous local and regional ADDY awards. His work has been showcased in such prestigious annuals as Communication Arts Advertising and Design, LogoLounge and Graphics.

Marsteller makes her return to Hirons as an associate art director. A graduate of the Herron School of Art and Design, she spent her senior year interning at Hirons before relocating to New York City. There, she worked for many well-known clients including Bayer Diabetes and Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol with brands such as Smirnoff, Ciroc and Crown Royal.

New associate art director Woody-Fehribach comes to Hirons as a recent graduate of Ball State University, where he majored in advertising and creative development. Woody-Fehribach interned with Barn-Find Productions (where he won a creative Emmy for his photography work), Redwall LIVE and Cardinal Communications.

Hirons also welcomes Jake Miller as a senior producer, Meghan Hamm as digital media strategist, and Chloe Lyzun as management coordinator.

As a senior public relations consultant and producer, Miller brings his award-winning talents as a former TV news anchor and reporter to Hirons. As a journalist, Miller has covered stories from natural and man-made disasters to the Super Bowl. A native Hoosier, Miller studied telecommunications, marketing and anthropology at Indiana University.

Hamm will serve Hirons as digital media strategist — a new position on the Hirons roster. She will be focusing on digital strategy in marketing campaigns. Prior to joining Hirons, Hamm managed online marketing at an ecommerce company. Hamm is a graduate of Butler University, where she received a double bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing/international business.

Lyzun has been promoted from intern to management coordinator. A graduate of Butler University with a degree in public relations and advertising, she previously interned with Live Nation, MOKB Presents and Do317 prior to joining Hirons.

“We are thrilled to add outstanding talent to the Hirons team as our year comes to a close,” said Tom Hirons, president and CEO of Hirons. “2015 will undoubtedly bring bold work as a result of our brilliant and enthusiastic staff.”

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About Hirons

Hirons Advertising and Public Relations, established in 1978 by Tom Hirons, is headquartered in Indianapolis and is ranked as both a top 100 advertising and top 100 PR firm in the U.S. Hirons is a digital leader in advertising, public relations, public affairs and media buying. Hirons’ clients include leading private, public and nonprofit sector organizations locally and nationally. Hirons is an employee-owned company. For more information, find Hirons on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Hirons provides a collegial work environment fueled by innovation and passion. Peer mentoring and collaboration inform everything we do, from conceptualizing to presenting award-winning solutions to our clients. Hirons employees are more than just worker bees; they’re actual owners of the company. In 2013, Hirons transferred ownership of the company to a trust on behalf of its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. By giving our employees the keys to the agency (literally and figuratively), our team is uniquely motivated to produce the very best work possible — after all, we own the place.

To learn more about potential employment opportunities, visit http://hirons.wpengine.com/contact/career-opportunities/.

Post-Grad Tips from a Young PR Pro

By Kendall Bybee, Account Manager

My first bit of advice to all you young PR or advertising professionals out there who are on the brink of graduation and surely chomping at the bit to start your job search (sarcasm) would be to take a big, deep breath. Although the “real world” seems uncomfortably daunting, I promise it’s truly not as painful as some people make it sound.

With my six month work anniversary approaching, I’m now able to look back and feel semi-nostalgic about that crazy and often unpredictable time in my life when I was eagerly, and sometimes desperately, searching for a job.

Here are a few tips I learned along the way:

Don’t be afraid to fail.
Yes, my first tidbit of advice is cliché and something your mom probably tells you every day, but I’m here to remind you once more not to be afraid to fail. The process of attaining your first real job out of college can be pretty intimidating. I mean, let’s be honest here. And it’s possible your dream job is going to turn you down. But in my experience, that only makes you push harder to get to where you want to go.

You know that job you don’t think you’re qualified for? Apply anyway. No one ever succeeded without taking chances.

Find a mentor and network like your life depends on it.
Finding a seasoned professional that shares the same passion as you is beneficial on so many levels. Not only does it allow you to communicate with someone who has already been through the trenches and can support you through the process, but it can also help grow your network. I’m sure some of the individuals I’ve considered mentors don’t even realize how much influence they’ve had on me and how many connections they’ve helped me build. And if you’re smart, you’ll stay in touch with those people who have helped you. Many of my mentors are now my colleagues in the industry whom I continue to learn and grow from.

Brand yourself.
You are your own brand. We tell brands’ stories for a living and sometimes we forget that we also have to tell our own story. How are you supposed to properly give advice to clients on how to effectively promote their brand if you aren’t abiding by that advice yourself? Your personal brand starts with your actions and behaviors and dwindles all the way down to the way you dress, how you express yourself on social sites, in job interviews and to clients.

And as a young pro trying to win over an employer, your portfolio is a vital aspect of your brand. It’s never too soon to start building one either. Weebly, Wix and WordPress are user-friendly platforms you can use to begin that process.

Do your research.
There is literally nothing more embarrassing than an employer asking you a question about their agency and you not knowing the answer. DO YOUR RESEARCH. This will also come in handy when you’re searching for agencies and companies you would potentially like to work for. In my non-expert opinion, your first job is extremely important and you should actually like the clients and brands you work for, so doing your research beforehand will help you in the long run.

Side note: Whether you want to believe it or not, research is a large part of everything we do in PR and advertising, so you better get used to it anyways.

Work hard.
No one owes you anything and certainly no one is going to hand you a job undeservingly. We work in an industry that is becoming more competitive every day and it’s your job to prove to employers that you’re worth the risk. Why should they hire you? What can you bring to the table that your competitor can’t? (Legitimately have answers to those questions.)

Also, don’t forget: We work in PR—meaning a good, genuine conversation with an employer can go a very long way. If your resume states that you have killer interpersonal skills, then you better illustrate that in your interview.

Lastly, be confident. If you’re not confident in your abilities then how is an employer supposed to be? Believe in yourself first, the rest will follow.

 

Four (or really seven) Ways to Write Creatively

By Matthew Neylon, Associate Copywriter 

Steve Jobs said creativity is just connecting two things. So in the sense of writing, let’s dive into the ways to connect point A with point B, the beginning with the end, the ooh with the ahh.

So where do we start?

1. Start writing on paper
When your writing starts on the computer, your ideas jumble together faster than your rate of words per minute. Ideas just seem to flow from the head to the hand to the pen to the pad more cohesively. When you write by hand—especially in the drafting and initial stages—you have a better handle over your ideas.

2. Keep it simple (with a surprise).
Creativity is simplicity. It’s meant to be understood, not figured out. It should have a simple surprise that makes you say “ahh!” not “huh?” Keep it simple, for the sake of your writing and for the sake of the reader’s interest.

Part of simplicity is economy. Creativity shouldn’t be sought after in a long list of long paragraphs full of long sentences full of long clauses full of long words. Like Jobs said, creativity is connecting things. And the reader is the one doing the connecting. So omit the extraneous content so the reader can fill in the blanks and connect the dots for themselves.

3. Be an avid reader
When I was a scrawny young boy, I played a lot of soccer. One of my most influential coaches was a retired pro named Mike. During practice one day, Coach Mike wasn’t happy with my team’s scrappy playing. He told us to watch a professional game of soccer on TV when we get home. What he wanted us to do was learn from the best by watching them.

Part of learning how to do is by learning how the best do. Developing a voice in your writing can be tough. So learn from those that have already done so. Read some Hemingway or James Joyce. It will help you garner some techniques and acumen for the written word.

4. Do it
Mining the gold nugget that creativity is begins with the mining. Ideas don’t just think themselves up. Words don’t just write themselves down.

In a way, writing is a lot like riding a bike. A shiny, red bike that just shed its plastic training wheels. You have to get up and ride in order to go anywhere or get any better. And to keep going—to keep getting better and to keep moving forward—you need to keep pedaling.

Bonus:
Here are some additional rules and guidelines.

5. Break the rules and guidelines.
Don’t always blindly follow grammar and structure. Especially given the context of what you’re writing. If everyone always followed the rules, we wouldn’t have creativity.

6. Develop your own style.
Writing is written word (duh), not spoken word. So you need to create your own coherent voice for your words to be read beyond the two-dimensional page.

7. Have fun.
Writing should be fun. Creativity should always be fun.