Are You Ready to Present?

Tips and advice for a professional portfolio review.

If you are in the midst of your senior year in college and you are studying public relations, you probably have heard of a portfolio review. If you haven’t, be sure to keep reading. A portfolio review is generally a 30-minute presentation of your collective professional work, academic work or both to an individual or a panel of PR practitioners. Sure, this may sound daunting; however, there are several ways to prepare yourself and make sure you stand out in a sea of applicants.

The University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication held a portfolio workshop this past Friday, Nov. 18, in Agate Hall. Melanie Moir, senior manager at Waggener Edstrom, and Tom Eiland, partner at CFM Strategic Communications, presented tips and tricks to senior public realtions students who will soon head out into the workplace.

Prior to ever stepping foot into a potential employer’s office, you should think about your resume. Your resume should say the following to an employer:

  • What can you do for the employer?
  • What design skills do you have?
  • What kind of skill sets do you have? (e.g., Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, iMovie)
Eiland told the workshop participants that every resume coming into his office looks the same to him. It has a name, address, phone number; you know, the basic information. Then it mentions a university attended, classes taken, and then onto the previous employment. “By the end of the first few paragraphs, my eyes have glazed over, and you are just lost in a pile of other applicants,” said Eiland. “You truly need to stand out.”

First, you need to tell what you can do; then show what you are doing. More importantly, employers want to know who you are other than what you can do on paper. When creating your resume, tell the reader about yourself! Do you like to cook, take photos or play lacrosse? Mention it.

For example, Moir said she once saw the following statement on a student’s resume: “I am as comfortable in Bryant Park as I am on the slopes of Aspen.” This particular student showed her audience how she enjoys both fashion and also outdoor activities (e.g., skiing or snowboarding.) Now the employer can have a sense for who you are, not just what you have done.

Here are a few quick tips the pair also mentioned about resume building:

  • Don’t overstate what you have done for a previous job. It is okay if you have worked at McDonald’s; however, don’t make it sound as if you were managing a department at Microsoft.
  • Create an emotional connection. You may never know what interests the employer.
  • Do not include a GPA. Generally, employers aren’t interested unless it’s stellar. Otherwise it can be a detractor.
  • Don’t miss out on highlighting yourself. 

Next, you need to know what you want to gain from the job you are applying for; from there you can know how to market yourself. “You have to remember that you are the product you are selling,” says Eiland.

You should leave the room with interviewers remembering three things about you, according to Moir and Eiland. However, you can’t leave with this in mind if you don’t walk in knowing what they are. Those details could include a personality trait, a standout piece of sample work or a specific interest of yours.

During the presentation itself, tell a story! The interviewer can flip through pages of your portfolio just as easily as you can. Moir suggested picking three standout pieces of your work to show. “At the beginning of your presentation mention how you would love to showcase these pieces. Then when you talk about each of those three, talk about the key issue, the target audience and the results. Then you haven’t just read what is on the page, you told us what you got from it,” said Moir.

Here are a few final tips Moir and Eiland introduced to the portfolio workshop participants:

  • Fake it until you make it! Employers, interviewers and potential clients know you are nervous. However, don’t start off saying how nervous you are. Remember to be confident in not only yourself but also the work you have completed.
  • Make it personal! Do some research on the person who is going to interview you, or research the company. If you and the interviewer have something in common (either with you or your work) mention it.
  • Ask smart questions and answer all questions. If an interviewer or employer asks is there anything else they should know about you, don’t just say you have covered it all. There is probably something you would like him or her to know.

What other tips do readers have for seniors entering the work field regarding portfolio reviews?

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Painting the Congregation Pink

It is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women.

Approximately one in almost every eight women will develop it in her lifetime.

Every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer.

We women have probably heard these statistics more than once in our lifetime. But did these motivate you to run to your cell phone, dial the nearest oncologist and schedule a mammogram? Probably not.

Which is exactly what the United States’ Food and Drug  Administration‘s (FDA)  Office of Women’s Health (OWH) thought. The OWH knew the statistics, fliers and advertisements regarding breast  cancer only reached a certain number of women, especially women of other ethnicities, races and religions.

According to Women’s Health About.com an estimated 71 percent of African-American women diagnosed with breast cancer experience a five-year survival rate compared to the 86 percent of Caucasian women who experience a five-year survival.

In addition, Women’s Health.gov reports that “research has shown that African-American women are more likely to get a form of breast cancer that spreads more quickly” than the kind that gradually progresses.

So what could the OWH do to inform a large minority quickly and personally? It created the Pink Ribbon Sundays Program. This program was designed to educate African-American and Hispanic women about early detection of breast cancer, similar to other breast cancer organizations. However, there is a twist! OWH’s recently created program didn’t wait for women to come to it, it went to the women.

Beginning in the early spring of 2011, the OWH encouraged African-American churches throughout the country to paint the congregation pink. On Sunday, April 10, 2011 The Park Ministries church of Charlotte, N.C., hosted its first Pink Ribbon Sunday event. By this time, Susan G. Komen For the Cure decided to join in on the challenge to raise awareness.

“We’re providing free educational materials on breast health,” said Mary Hamrick, Komen’s community outreach coordinator manager. “Then each church can plan their own Pink Sunday program.” (Originally printed in The Charlotte Post.)

Five months later, the Pink Ribbon program continues to flourish. Although it was originally targeted towards churches and religious organizations, both the OWH and Komen expanded the program to several other organizations from Oklahoma to Puerto Rico. In addition, Komen offers a variety of positions, including a Pink Ribbon ambassador.

Through the use of mobile mammography events, health fairs, “Pink” luncheons and concerts the Office of Women’s Health personal approach has reached more than 100,000 African-American and Hispanic-American women.

How can a simple approach eventually reach this many individuals?

1. It is personal yet credible: Women listen to other women. If a friend of mine approaches me with concrete information, I am more likely to take it into consideration. Advertisements don’t necessarily convince us to go out and visit our doctors. We invest and value what those in our surroundings have to tell us.

2. It is all about convenience: You don’t have to go further out of your normal schedule. A member of a congregation hears about it during a sermon and stays a few moments afterwards. If there is a “Pink” luncheon but you and your girlfriends had planned to go to lunch in the same general area, you could instead go to the luncheon.

3. It is emotional: Chances are  good that more than one woman you know has experienced breast cancer or knows someone who has. People generally take into account the stories we hear and often times take action based on those stories.

Where can you take the Pink Ribbon Sundays Program in your own community?

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Let’s get it started

Hello, visitors!

My name is Jerica Pitts and welcome to my blog!

I have always loved to write. In elementary school I would quickly finish my in-class work and then take the extra time to research types of animals. From there I would write stories and present them to my class. I didn’t understand why my fellow classmates didn’t love to write as much as I did. Growing up with an overachieving older sister may have had something to do with my passion for writing and researching.

A decade later, I am still researching, planning, and writing. I consider myself a lucky breed of student. I can combine most all of my interests to create my dream career. Where else can I take fundraising, event planning, the health field and writing and have a single career?

I believe my calling to be making a difference in an individual’s life. I chose the name of this blog, PRactically PReoccupied, to represent my daily task in life: continuously absorbed in a new way to make a difference.

This blog is indeed an assignment for my Journalism 452: Strategic Public Relations Communications. I’m excited for the opportunity to make use of my time and blogging abilities. My goal for this account is to educate visitors on the better use of public relations and hopefully change at least one’s idea of us so-called “spin doctors.”

Please visit my comment policy page and my “A bit about Jerica” page. Thank you for stopping on by.

You learn something every day if you pay attention. –Ray LeBlond

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