I like to imagine readers as picky babies. Just as newborns are quick to squirm and frown at being offered unsavory food, an audience is easily repulsed by irrelevant content placed in front of them. Both the baby and the reader know what substance they prefer, and anything else will most likely be ignored. To prevent any squirming form your potential audiences, you must focus on delivering value with your writing. Value is one of

If you want to pick a font that causes an emotional connection between your design and your audience, you need to be aware of the psychology of fonts. Even if you don’t know or care about this concept, it’s already at work around you, influencing your purchases, preferences, and brand loyalties. When we first evaluate a font, we come up with what we think it means and compare that meaning to the overall context. In

Most people tell me that I’m just like my dad. “Peaches”, a nickname assigned by my brothers that contradicts his 6'6" frame, has taught me more about what it means to be a professional than he would ever imagine — which makes total sense, because we’ve never spoken about it.

Being a gentleman and respectful to others, looking others in the eye when speaking, acknowledging others wants and needs: these are all part of the foundation my parents instilled in me from the earliest age. However, even as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed something interesting in seeing how my dad carries himself as a businessman.

My dad, Philip Clements, is consistently himself.

Phil, as many know him, is the same man during and after his conference calls and meetings. His clients enjoy being around him because he’s genuinely interested in not only their business, but their families and lives. He’s a friend.

The best part is, he doesn’t waste energy being someone he’s not. His unwillingness to compromise has earned him both respect and success at work and home. I’ve noticed a stark difference between my and the majority’s understanding of what it means to be a professional for this reason.

You see, people appreciate working with someone who is consistently real and honest. Taking your mask off allows others to do the same, which in turn breaks down many of the barriers in communication that prevent the ever-so-coveted efficiency that businesses look for.

With this comes a sense of vulnerability. A split can feel like a break up. But still, the benefits of sharing life, not just crunching numbers beside each other, far outways the consequences of building a genuine kind of “professional relationship”.

Being real and honest doesn’t mean being disrespectful and hurtful to others when your opinions differ. Rather, it means acknowledging that across the table from you is another human being with their own life and aspirations. Take the time to engage with colleauges as humans, not robots, and you might just learn a thing or two about who you spend your time with everyday — helping you to form a better understanding of their human experience. The advantages of doing so aren’t soley for your own gain either. I’m not offering a strategy to manipulate others to like you or land you a promotion.

I’m encouraging you to discover, like I have, the freedom in building professional relationships that don’t compromise who you are in the process.

After all, the only way to find our true passion is by being real with ourselves and others about what really makes us tick. This isn’t taking the easy way out either. At first, it can be difficult to open up and embrace the feelings of vulnerability that may arise, but we can trust that our best work is ahead as we find careers and jobs that best fit our true selves: for both our sakes and for others.

So relax, laugh a little, smile as often as possible and acknowledge that everyone is human — the good and the bad.

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing well” the saying goes.

I can’t tell you what’s worth doing in your own life, but I can tell you what’s not worth doing: being anyone but yourself.

 

The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and here at Innovations PR we are hard at work with some exciting new projects. This fall, our firm is working with several new clients ranging from local nonprofits to departments at Liberty University. Keep reading for a crash course in our clients and the campaigns we’re planning for them.

 

Community Restoration Initiative

This is our second semester working with Community Restoration Initiative (CRI), a Lynchburg-based nonprofit that exists to support the growth of healthy families in lower-income neighborhoods. CRI accomplishes this by providing family nights, children’s after-school groups, and mentorship programs for people of all ages.

Our team at Innovations PR is working specifically to promote CRI’s developing mentorship program. Through events, videos, and other PR strategies, we are creating a campaign to encourage adults to become mentors for CRI.

 

Lynchburg Prayer Breakfast

The Lynchburg Prayer Breakfast is an event in the greater Lynchburg area where community leaders meet together for fellowship and a time of prayer. The 49th annual Lynchburg Prayer Breakfast will take place Nov. 16, at Phase 2, and feature guest speaker Delegate Scott Garrett.

Innovations PR is creating a campaign utilizing social media and guerrilla marketing to promote the event to local small business owners. By marketing the event to Christian young professionals, our team is working to expand the audience of this Lynchburg tradition.

 

Liberty University Student Life

Innovations PR is continuing to work with the Office of Student Life at Liberty University this semester. The Office of Student Life supports commuter, graduate, and online students, and provides resources to help them succeed in their studies and places for them to gather.

Our firm is working on a campaign to advertise Student Life’s Commuter Lounge through guerilla marketing tactics and artfully designed posters. This campaign will promote the Commuter Lounge as a place for off-campus students to gather while they are on campus.

 

Rekindling Ministries

Rekindling Ministries is a nonprofit that provides resources for Christians to pursue their callings and revitalize their passion. These resources include workshops, various teaching materials, and more.

Innovations PR is helping advertise Rekindling Ministries’ resources by updating the design for their products. Our team is also developing videos and podcasts to communicate the nonprofit’s mission.

 

Beautiful Mess Ministries

Finally, our team is working with the nonprofit Beautiful Mess Ministries, a Lynchburg-based organization that supports communities across the globe by providing them with basic physical needs and sustainable business opportunities. Currently, the nonprofit is focused on supporting a community in Rwanda, Africa.

Our client team is working to develop strategies for the ministry to promote themselves and effectively communicate their vision. We are also redesigning their website with an updated layout.

Interested in learning more about what we’re doing this year at Innovations PR? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with firm-related news!

This week I interviewed an former Innovations member, Hannah Dixon. Hannah is a Liberty Alumni that graduated in May of 2015. She grew in Indianapolis, Indiana. After visiting Liberty her senior year of high-school she decided that this was the place for her; in fact, she liked it so much that it’s the only school she applied for. She went on to study public relations and minor in global studies. She decided to join Innovations in her last year of school and worked as the Communications Director. She oversaw social media and blogging as well as internal communication in general. I think what Hannah has to say is very encouraging for those of you who are currently a part of Innovations and are wondering where life will take you next. I also think she has some wisdom to share that would benefit any college student. I hope you enjoy this interview.

Why did you join Innovations?

  “Innovations caught my interest because I desired to apply what I was learning in the classroom to real-life scenarios. It was a great way to meet new people within my major and learn the practical skills of PR. Innovations was conducting interviews for several positions and the position of Communications Director seemed most fitting for what I was interested in doing in the future. My favorite part of Innovations was the team aspect of it all. From start to finish, you were working with one another to see goals become a reality for clients.”
What did you do after school? “After graduation, I joined International Justice Mission in Manila, Philippines as a Church and Community Mobilization Intern. Currently, I work for a HR tech startup called BetterWorks as a Communications Generalist.”

Did Innovations help prepare you for life after school?

“Looking back, Innovations definitely helped prepare me for where I am today. For example, when I was responsible for tracking weekly engagement analytics - it seems redundant and mundane - that couldn’t be further from the truth. I now track analytics on a daily basis and I see that it is of the utmost importance. Answering questions like: where are we currently on all social fronts and where do we want to be in the future? By using analytics, you are able to track your progress and goals in order to achieve what you set out to accomplish.” “Another way that Innovations prepared me for where I am today, is by teaching me to PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL. In any field, especially Public Relations, paying attention to detail is key. Double checking your work may seem like an elementary idea, but when posting a blog post, going live with social media, or pitching a press release to a journalist, detail is so important to ensure your point is being made in the best and most concise way possible.”

What advice do you have for people during and after school?

  “For those of you still in school: stop caring about what others think of you, and what they think of the future you are currently dreaming about. This sounds cliche, I get it, but there are more people than you think who are paralyzed by self-doubt about what they really believe they are called to do after school. Second, it’s ok to have no idea what you want do in the future. People lie because, guess what, most people have NO clue what they want to be when they grow up (including those who have already graduated). But, do not let that truth stop you from stepping into the opportunities God has placed before you right now. Get your hands dirty and get your feet wet. This is the time to try new things and experiment with different interests you may have career wise.”  “I can’t lie, I didn’t handle my first year out of school so gracefully. I was halfway around the world as I was watching my best friends together on a daily basis via snapchat and Instagram. I had a serious case of FOMO. Nobody tells you how lonely post-grad life can be. Wow, this makes you so excited to graduate huh? Well, the story doesn’t stop there. One thing I wish I would have been told is this: it takes time to cultivate deep friendships, community, and belonging in a new place after graduation. It’s supposed to take time! I am now two years out of college and some of my absolute best friends are those I have met post-grad. I truly believe the best days are always ahead.”

Why Social Media Matters

The world of advertising, marketing and public relations was turned upside down by the rapid expansion of social media in the last decade.  Social media provides an effective way to communicate with a target audience with a level of interactivity that traditional media had never allowed before.  The benefits of social media can only be maximized when the individual responsible for social media understands how to properly use it, which is why having a thorough knowledge of social media can make you a valuable asset to a client. According to a study by Pew Research, more than 50 percent of people between the ages of 14 and 17 use social media at least once per day, and its use is constantly growing in the majority of demographics.  When a message of less than 140 characters has the potential to reach millions, the individual who understands how to achieve a high level of success brings significant value to a client.

 

How to Get Better At Social Media

Always stay up-to-date with trends in social media use and technological developments.  Online news sources such as Mashable and TechCrunch cover significant events and developments in social media and various related technology.  Staying informed about social media news that directly impacts the industry you are most interested in is also a helpful practice.  Regularly check the news sources that are most likely to have content relevant to the industry in which you are interested in working.  If you have difficulty finding a news source with stories that are germane to your area of interest, set a Google Alert for key words related to that area.

 

Learn how to understand and apply social media analytics.  Proper interpretation and application of analytics measured from social media activity is crucial to the successful use of social media. Knowing who is reached by which posts when and whether there is interaction with the primary target audience should inform the way future social media posts are composed, because it tells you what is working and what is not.  Certifications are also available for social media analytics and strategy. These can boost your resume and make you stand out among the crowd. 

 

Follow brands with an excellent social media presence.  Brands in a variety of industries, like National Geographic in publishing and Starbucks in the food and beverage, stand out among their competitors on social media.  By following brands that are successful in using social media well, you can learn about what sets their social media apart from the rest of the industry. Then, you can take away core principles that can be applied to the needs of clients in the future.

 

Social media has shaped the way businesses now operate, and having an expertise in social media allows you to bring considerable value to a company or client. Individuals who develop strong skills at utilizing social media for marketing purposes and stay informed about trends in the industry will be a desirable candidate for any marketing or public relations position. 

 

Personal branding is critical if you want a job in public relations. Ultimately, it does not matter how skilled you are if you are unable to communicate that convincingly to a potential employer. By developing your personal brand now, you can prepare for the job market.
In order to stand out in the field of public relations, you must distinguish yourself from the competition. As Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of the Start, states, “Niche thyself.” This applies to businesses, but also to you. Find out what you’re better at than anyone else. Find out what makes you unique. Use that to create your niche and outperform your competitors.

Tell your story
Public relations professionals use countless different strategies and tactics in their work, but PR is fundamentally about storytelling. In personal branding, you get to tell your own story. All the principles about branding for businesses also apply to your personal brand. What’s your brand identity? Target audience? Unique selling point? Write these down and refer back to them as you craft your personal brand. These elements should all work together to create a compelling narrative.

Creating your resume and cover letter
Your resume is a key aspect of your personal brand. Often, this single sheet of paper is the only part of your story a potential employer will ever read. According to a study by TheLadders, recruiters only spend six seconds looking at a resume. If you only have six seconds to convince them to buy into your brand, how can you best communicate your story in a few bullet points? Be selective and highlight what makes you truly unique.
Your cover letter should be your resume in narrative form. Turn bullet points into paragraphs and weave your personal brand into the plot. While these two documents differ in format, both tell the same story.

Personal branding on social media
The digital age offers a huge opportunity to build your brand on social media. According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, 92% of employers use social media in the hiring process. This is both a risk and an opportunity. The risk lies in a potential employer finding something unprofessional on your profile. Here’s a good rule of thumb – if you would not want an employer or your mom to see it, don’t post it.
However, there is also great opportunity in social media. Social media is a great avenue to showcase your personality. Keep it professional, but be yourself. Show potential employers that you’re a person by being relatable. On platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can be more personal, but LinkedIn has a strict standard of professionalism.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a lengthier and more personable version of your resume. Because you aren’t limited by a page count, use it to your full advantage. Use the biography section and write something compelling about who you are. Fill out every section and include as many details as possible, using concrete skills and quantifiable numbers. This is your chance to sell your brand online.

• Keep it current. The length of your resume limits what you can include, but LinkedIn offers no excuse for missing or outdated information. Make sure that everything on your profile is up-to-date and completely accurate.
• Use a professional photo. According to LinkedIn, people that have a professional photo are 14 times more likely to have their profiles viewed. Invest in a professional headshot – it’s worth it.
• Be consistent. You are telling your story on a social media platform, but make sure your story stays the same. At the end of the day, you need to have a consistent message that tells employers why they should hire you.
Your personal brand will always be a work in progress, because humans are always a work in progress. However, the most important part of building your brand is being confident in your skills. Believe in your own brand and start convincing employers to believe in it too.

 

Networking is a subject public relations students hear about often, but those same students rarely grasp its full significance for advancing a career.  Building relationships with potential employers, or those connected to potential employers, is vital for college students finding their way in today’s job market.  Networking is often perceived as a natural gift one either has or doesn’t have.  But in fact, there are ways to grow as a networker and increase the likelihood a company you find exciting will hire you. 

 

Why Networking Matters

The old adage “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know” is a cliché for a reason – there is an element of truth to that statement.  While knowing someone at a company or organization does not guarantee you a position, having a personal or professional connection to the employer can give one candidate an edge over similarly qualified applicants. 

Having connections at the organizations you are most interested in working for can give you name recognition and a sense of credibility candidates without a specific connection cannot match.  When a current, or former, employee in good standing at a company gives a candidate a personal endorsement there is a sense of inferred trust in their assessment that few other references could possibly achieve. 

 

How to Grow Your Networking Skills

Practice, Practice, Practice.   Many people believe that networking is about the natural ability to converse with strangers and thus cannot be learned.  However, networking is a skill that can be developed over time because it’s primarily about feeling comfortable interacting with people you have never met before. 

The way to become a better conversationalist, and thus a better networker, is by learning to feel comfortable meeting someone new and share what you could bring to their organization.  While some people are more comfortable with meeting strangers than others, everyone can improve this skill through repetition. 

 

Resources for Becoming A Better Networker

The Liberty University Career Center is an excellent source of information and contacts for students who are interested in networking opportunities.  The many career fairs hosted by the Career Center provide opportunities for face-to-face interactions with representatives from a variety of organizations that can lead to valuable relationships.  Even if the connections made at career fairs do not directly result in securing a position, the interactions the career fairs facilitate can serve as helpful practice for future networking opportunities. 

The Career Center’s LU Network also has a wide array of information regarding who to talk to about the jobs you’re interested in and how to contact them.  Even if you are not a Liberty University student, similar opportunities are offered through local Young Professionals networking events and career centers on other university campuses.  Landing your dream job in the competitive world of public relations can be difficult, but with the right strategy and the right contacts, no position is out of reach. 

It’s crucial for college students to begin the process of developing marketable skills that add value to a potential employer’s organization.  The task of deciding how to best use the spare time and energy not dedicated to classes and social life can be daunting.  The team at Innovations PR is here to help you make the most of your time in college by identifying what skills will help you land that dream job and pointing you to resources for developing those skills.  This is the first in a five part series where we will break down which skills will most impress employers, why they matter and what you can do to grow your skill set.

 

Why Writing Skills Matter

Being a skilled writer can go a long way in impressing a hiring manager.  In marketing and communications, excellent written communication skills can allow you to make substantial contributions in curating social media content, drafting press releases, writing copy for marketing campaigns and more.  Being a polished writer gives a potential employer the sense that you are competent and able to tackle tasks assigned to you.

 

How to Develop Writing Skills

Start writing.  It’s well-established that practice is a crucial part of developing strong writing skills.  Amandah Tayler Blackwell, of Ragan.com, suggests flexing your writing muscles by committing to write a certain amount each day or week as a strategy for improving your writing.  While practice writing in the field of marketing is ideal, any form of writing can be helpful if it is being edited and critiqued to facilitate growth.  Expressing your thoughts in writing, whether you start a blog only you know exists or submit your work to a major publication, can help with the process of developing a voice and growing your skills.

Read voraciously.  Reading the work of experienced writers, be it a classic novel or a press release about a new marketing campaign being launched by Coca-Cola, can help with developing the ability to distinguish between good and bad writing.  Consider putting yourself on the email list for online news sources like the Washington Post or the New York Times and regular check websites that always have content about advertising and public relations, like Mashable and AdAge.  Following sources like Mashable and AdAge will keep you updated on industry trends and provide excellent examples of good writing.

 

Resources for Developing Writing Skills

If you are just getting started with writing, your peers can be a great source of feedback about a blog or journal you might not be ready to share with the world.  If you are a student at Liberty University and want to use writing assignments for a class as an opportunity to improve your writing skills the Undergraduate Writing Center is the place to take your essays and term papers for proofreading and editing.  Online resources for improving your writing, like the 34 different online tools recommended by Hubspot, can be an excellent supplement to university resources.  Learning to be a better writer can seem intimidating, but if you work hard and stay dedicated, you will see significant improvement in your writing and your job prospects.

College is more than assignments, work and social life. Instead, college is where you discover your interests, pursue your dreams, and collaborate with like-minded individuals. Some people go to college just to get a degree, but you are different. You want to get ahead of the game, and you want to stand out from the crowd. That’s why you should have a side hustle. Side hustle usually refers to having a side job to earn