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Have you ever had a job that took you in a different direction then you thought you would ever go? I hope to work for a PR agency after graduation. However my path in college has lead me to some jobs down other roads. I started out being a hostess at a steakhouse. Then this past summer I went on to be a store intern at Target.

While I enjoyed both of these experiences, neither of them takes me any closer to my dream job. Or do they?

Here are the 5 things I learned from my customer service jobs:

  1. Understand the customer’s perspective. Marketers, PR professionals and advertisers alike need to understand what the customer or audience thinks and believes. In Target, I saw first hand the difference it makes looking at the store from the customer’s perspective. I was able to walk the store and give the other managers a customers perspective. As a student I have been a customer much longer than an employee. The key is to not lose that perspective.
  2. Best practices are best practices for a reason. As a student I can’t help but want to innovate. I see a problem and immediately want to be creative and make changes. The problem is that in a big corporation most of the problems have already been solved through best practices. Coming into a new company it is important to understand when to innovate and when to research past situations, best practices and case studies.
  3. Everyone needs to help ensure brand loyalty. I noticed that some people may have loved the steakhouse I worked for. They may have even refused to eat anywhere else. But one bad experience from a stressed out waiter quickly changed their opinion. Target challenges each employee to live up to their brand image because a PR professional can help the world understand a company’s brand, but the employees are the ones who can keep those customers coming back.
  4. Everyone needs a strong writing background. As I looked over my boss’s shoulder while she typed a proposal for a new payroll plan for the logistics team, I couldn’t help but chime in with some editing advice. Even a retail job requires someone to write. In order to express your opinion, it is important to understand how to express yourself through your writing.
  5. It is important to lead. Everyone has come across a boss or manager who is an expert micro-manager. So don’t become one yourself. Learn how to ask questions. Don’t tell people what to do. Help lead them to the right problem solving decision.

The most important thing is that you can get something out of any job experience. So let me know. What have you learned from you summer job?

Since this is a main source of communication for PR professionals it is important to be as efficient and effective as possible.

E-mail allows professionals to speed up decisions making, send to multiple people, and send important documents more quickly than mail.

A memo is a brief written message that can serve many different communication purposes to get a point across.

Letters are best to communicate any message that needs to have a public record.

Here are some tools to manage communication overload:

  • Completeness – a message must contain enough information to serve its purpose.
  • Conciseness – no one wants to take an hour to read a message; keep it to the point.
  • Correctness – accuracy is key.
  • Courtesy – you are writing personal messages, so be personal.
  • Responsibility – understand how you will be perceived by the audience.

  1. Choosing a story — the story should be able to be told using media and graphics. A topic such as how a tornado is formed can be broken down step by step using media.
  2. Making a Storyboard — a story board is like a sketch of an outline. You have to define the elements and identify the media.
  3. Reporting the Multimedia — be prepared when you go out to report. Make sure you bring all your tools such as a laptop and a notebook.
  4. Edit for the web — keep the story short, use great quality sound and graphics, add animation and also include text.
  5. Producing the story — the web designer is the editor. It takes many templates (drafts) to get to the final product.

This week our teacher had us do a LeadLab course online to learn more about writing leads. Here are some basic tips I learned from the course.

  • A lead should be a summary.
  • Use the five w’s when writing leads – who, what, when, where and why
  • The most important newsworthy information goes first.
  • The lead tells the reader what the focus of the article will be about.

I thought this lead course was a good overview of writing leads. It also forced me to focus more on the content of the leads that I write. However, because the course is short and only online, I felt like I needed more practice after I finished the exercises.

I am also in a news, reporting and writing course this semester. We get plenty of practice writing leads. One thing I learned that I think is important to include has to do with structure. Since you always put the most newsworthy information first, do not start with when. A lead should usually go who did what. When should only begin the lead when it makes a story more interesting.


A news release allows PR professionals to get their stories out to the media. The news release puts the information in a format that editors can easily understand. The news release is even written just like a news story. Some news releases might even be put directly in the paper as a story with few to no changes.

When planning a news release be sure to answer these questions:

  • What is the subject of the message? What is the focus?
  • Who is the message designed for?
  • What do you want to achieve.
  • What goal is the organization pursuing; what is the purpose?
  • What is in it for this particular audience? Potential benefits/rewards?
  • What key messages should be highlighted in the news release?

Like I mentioned earlier a news release is written in the same format as the news story. This is usually inverted pyramid. The most important information comes at the beginning of the story. Here are six basic components of a news release:

  1. letterhead – the companies logo for instance
  2. contacts – who to contact to get more information about the news release
  3. headline – a catchy title
  4. dateline  – date
  5. lead paragraph – the most important information (a summary lead most often)
  6. body of text – some more basic information about the topic descending in order of importance

Most people know that a good way to avoid plagiarism is too properly cite ideas or words that are not the author’s own. However, many people get confused with what to cite. I found this video to clarify.

The video pretty much says to CITE EVERYTHING. It is not hard to give things attribution. Just use whatever style book your professor or boss approves.

A quick way to avoid plagiarism online is by using hyperlinks. The internet makes citations much easier. I can directly link the source of my information to my posts, papers, ect.

Lorrie Walker gives PR professionals some different advice. She says to avoid plagiarism simply conduct your own research. If you are gathering information from your own work, you do not have to worry about getting sued.

I have spent years in Georgia’s educational system. I have been taught to write well though out sentences with a specific tone and different types of imagery. I have learned that I can extend sentences to fit a certain word count. The problem is now I need to “unlearn” how to extend sentences. Now I need to learn how to get straight to my point. I chose the Grammar Girl post called How to Write Clear Sentences.

Here are some of the tips that I have found most useful:

  • Try to avoid If . . . instead insert an infinitive. For example instead of saying ” if any of you want to learn more about grammar . . .” say “to learn more about grammar . . .”
  • Avoid redundant words: quite, actually, much, fairly, very, ect.
  • The strongest sentences begin with a Subj. + Verb combination or just with a verb.
  • Avoid unnecessary helping verbs.
  • Be careful with the word make. Ex: “He will be making the decision to . . .”

I learned to write clearer sentences by revising the sentences. Her biggest suggestion was to go back through my writing and make changes.

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