Friday, September 25, 2009

APR: PR Boot Camp


After much consideration, I have taken the plunge -- starting classes to prepare for the APR (Accredited in Public Relations) with my colleague and PR partner in crime, Erica Villanueva. This is something I’ve put a lot of thought into and have been eager to accomplish, particularly because I don’t have a PR degree and I entered the field after working in television.

Two classes in and I’m feeling pretty good. But don’t get me wrong; it’s not easy. We have classes every Monday after work and I usually don’t get home until 8:30 p.m. There’s a lot of reading, terminology and theories to master, but I know that in the end the APR designation will be worth the time and effort and hours of reading, classes and preparing for the readiness review and exam.

The pluses: We have a teacher (Rachel Smith) whose passion is accreditation and who wants us to succeed. Our class is diverse, but small, so we can learn from each other, play off our strengths and shore up our weaknesses. I think in the end we will all be better professionals for it. The APR designation is universal, and like a diamond “it’s forever.”

A poll on TWT Poll ( asks “Is earning the APR designation worth the time and effort?” The poll will close on September 30th, but so far 64% of the votes indicate that most APRs and non-APRs think it’s worth it. I have to agree with the majority.

As a young professional, I’m a firm believer that the more distinctions and designations you can acquire, the more you will stand out in the marketplace. And in this economy, with so many people competing for scarce jobs, you need to do everything in your power to shine brighter than your competition.

I have a feeling there will be days when I’m exhausted and freaking out, but when I think about the APR, those three little letters always make me smile.

I plan on tracking my APR experience on this blog, so until next time…

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So, you want to be an intern... Now what? Part 1: The application process


Why should you listen to me? I have been the internship coordinator at Ron Sachs Communications for nearly two years and during that time I’ve hired and managed more than 20 interns. To be honest, I didn’t always know what qualities to look for, but along the way I’ve come to learn exactly what makes the perfect intern applicant.

Many employers rate internship experience as one of the most important criteria in selecting a new hire. You can even pay some companies to find you an internship. For only $750, Intern Abroad will place you in a position. But why dole out all that cash, when you can score a spot on your own?

Timing is everything

Don’t just apply when you feel like applying. Find out when the company you’re applying to is actually looking to hire. This will help keep your e-mail out of the “abyss of forgotten intern applications.” The internships we offer at Ron Sachs Communications coincide with school semesters and we begin interviewing a month before the beginning of the new semester. This is the perfect time to apply!

Its important to follow up, but don’t be a stalker about it. A polite follow-up e-mail to check on the status of your application is plenty. Several calls and voicemails are too much, so don’t over do it.

Creating a complete application

In an application e-mail, I always like to see a cover letter, resume and writing samples. Including your availability is also helpful; that way I know if I can work you into our office schedule. Sometimes I’m looking for a specific time to fill, like Tuesday or Thursday, for example. Of course, your experience and writing samples matter, it’s just helpful to know how much time you can dedicate to your internship.

Make your resume relevant
Try to keep your resume to one page. I think it’s best to pick and choose the most relevant experience you’ve had.

You shouldn’t include summer or high school jobs like your position as a grocery bagger or a babysitter for your neighbor, since those jobs probably didn’t give you much PR experience. If they did, explain how.

Remember to highlight scholarships or awards you’ve received. It’s important to document all of these honors because it tells me you are dedicated to school and would therefore be dedicated to your job.

Extracurricular activities matter
Look for opportunities to get the experience you need to stand out. Set yourself apart from the other applicants by being involved in clubs or associations that provide opportunities for professional development.

Your church or temple may need help writing their newsletter, your sorority may need to ramp up new member recruitment or you can volunteer to work on a political campaign if that interests you. You can pretty much turn any of your hobbies or clubs into opportunities. Everyone needs PR, even if they don’t know it.

, PRSA and AAFT are all professional organizations with student chapters you can get involved in. Student newspapers like the FSView and the FAMUAN are other great ways to build your portfolio.

If you’d like to apply for an internship at Ron Sachs Communications you can e-mail your application to So, go ahead and start working on building your resume because I’m always on the look out for those few stand out applicants to join the Ron Sachs team.

Coming up in my next blog, I’ll talk you through the interview process and give you tips and tricks on how to knock the socks off your interviewer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Levels of Incivility Undermine U.S. Democracy, Culture


Our nation’s hallmark virtues of vigorous public debate, unfettered freedom of speech and of the press, and unfiltered self-expression make us strong, free and uniquely American. But the recent plunge to new depths of incivility by high-profile music, sports and political figures has quite the opposite effect.

USA Today’s front page story today highlights recent outbursts by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, who interrupted President Obama’s address to Congress to shout, “You lie;” tennis great Serena William’s expletive-laden verbal assault on a line judge; and hip hop star Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Music Video Awards to argue that Beyonce should have won.

As Jeffrey Slee wrote recently in Newsroom Magazine, “It’s such a simple concept; don’t interrupt when someone else has the floor, play nicely with others, share and wait your turn. It’s what we all should have learned in kindergarten.”

We can disagree without demonizing the person with whom we disagree, be it a line judge or the President of the United States. The tenor of the ongoing national health care debate, with critics of the President’s plan calling him alternately a socialist and a fascist, is as frightening as it is uninformed. Opposing the plan is one thing; whipping up personalized attack-based hysteria is another.

Closer to home, Florida’s ongoing dialogue about whether to lift the decades-old ban on energy exploration off our coast has prompted opponents of the idea to resort to ugly personal attacks. It should still be possible to discuss an issue on the merits, even ones as important as oil drilling or health care reform, without maligning the character of those who engage the conversation.

A return to civility strengthens the democracy we all support, regardless of our political affiliation or stand on any one issue. As Abraham Lincoln said, “In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.”