(22) Days of Summer

As many of you know, Oregon had one of the gloomiest summers on record. Lucky for me, I escaped not only Oregon but the country for 22 amazing days of travel.

I’ve always felt that nothing reveals more about oneself than travel, particularly traveling alone. This adventure of mine that spanned four countries, countless cities and multiple islands was by far the most self-revealing to date.

 

This photo epitomizes my time in Greece: an amazing ancient monument surrounded by the modern (In this case a fire extinguisher)

 

I learned that while I revel in my independence, I do need others to surround and support me; that I not only love history but am actually obsessed with it (Every time I saw a pile of rubble in Greece, I could visualize the cities these ruins once created, feel the energy that once radiated from them, see the ancient Grecians wandering about the now dusty roads…); that while I obsess over history, I always need to be up to speed with the present (I consumed a newspaper whenever I could get my hands on one, devoured a magazine that came within arms reach, poured all of my concentration into reading a new post whenever the Internet was available.); that I, in summation, am too social to be left entirely alone for extended periods of time, too independent to be constantly surrounded by people, too entranced by the present to be distracted by the past, and too fascinated by the past to ever forget its impact on my present circumstances

Wait, what!? I know that sounds overwhelming, contradictory and a bit weird, but that’s me. I did not anticipate finding myself on this trip (and rest assured, I know I still have a lot to learn), but that is what my independent travel brought with it, and I really could not be more grateful.

These 22 days of summer brought some pretty amazing “ah-ha” moments that I will never forget. Taking the leap and traveling this summer was one of the best choices I have ever made and one I will never regret.

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Your Portfolio: Your Story

With graduation a mere 28 days away, the reality that I am indeed graduating and will begin conducting face-to-face interviews has started to set in. Making this reality seem all the more real, my professor for Strategic Social Media and Strategic Public Relations Communications, Kelli Matthews, came into my Public Relations Campaigns course last Tuesday to discuss portfolio reviews.

The thought of portfolio reviews sends shivers down my spine. Professionals looking over and judging my portfolio? Yikes. Making this process even more intimidating is the manner in which I have to present each piece in my portfolio: by telling that piece’s story and how it was/is related to a greater campaign. It is suggested to all Campaigns students to tell the piece’s story by answering the questions: What was the problem/challenge? How did you/your team address it? What was the outcome?

After Kelli mentioned this process, I freaked out. I don’t know the story behind all of the work I highlight in my portfolio, especially the work completed during my internship with Edelman. No one ever sat me down at Edelman and said, “This is why we need xyz media list created and this is how it will help xyz campaign.” I felt like I needed to take everything from Edelman out immediately even though this work is some of my best. “What is the story behind xyz media list?” I kept repeating in my brain. How was is relevant to the client? What did it help Edelman and the client achieve?

After ruminating over all of these thoughts for a solid ten minutes, I stuck my hand in the air. “What if we don’t know the story behind one of our pieces?” I asked Kelli.

She then began to walk me through steps to figure out a piece’s story when it is not entirely obvious. One of the first questions she asked was: “Well, what was it that you created?” I replied, “A media list.”

Clue 1: If you are asked to create a media list, chances are it is a part of a greater media relations campaign.

Next, she asked: “Well, was there anything special about this media list? Was it geared towards any particular audience?” I replied, “Yes.”

Clue 2: If the piece is geared toward a particular audience, that gives you an even greater understanding of what this piece is going to be used for and the possible outcomes that may result from the agency using said piece

“What would having a targeted media list enable Edelman to do?” Kelli asked next. “Well, it would give them the ability to better target the media it seeks to gain coverage in,” I replied.

Clue 3: The possible outcome lies in what this media list would enable Edelman to do. So, in this case, by targeting only specific media and only specific writers and editors, Edelman could gain more and better media coverage. Having this specified media list allowed Edelman to personalize messages to particular writers and editors and, most importantly, send news that was very relevant to their publications.

By the end of this conversation, I knew the role my media list played in the grand scheme of its campaign.

What was the problem/challenge?

The client was not receiving the amount of media coverage it desired in trade magazines.

How did you/your team address the problem?

By creating a media list that only targeted writers and editors whose magazines related to construction, tools and home improvement.

What was the outcome?

While I cannot decisively say this resulted in greater media coverage, I can say that it enabled Edelman to better target the media it was attempting to gain coverage in. By better targeting said media, it is reasonable to conclude that this media list resulted in greater coverage.

I hope these clues, steps and questions help you better understand how to present pieces in your portfolio. Do you know the story behind each piece in your portfolio? If not, think critically about the piece, and you will most likely discover its story.