Spring Break Day 2: D.C.

Former White House Press Secretary for President Clinton Mike McCurry, myself, and Former Communications Strategist for President Carter Greg Schneiders

Former White House Press Secretary for President Clinton Mike McCurry, myself, and Former Communications Strategist for President Carter Greg Schneiders

I caught the political bug as a young student in elementary school. Learning about the formation of our country and the history of the founding fathers lit an internal flame for the functioning of our government. Since then, I have been entranced by the inner workings of Washington and the political process.

Yesterday, the highlight for me was getting to meet with Mike McCurry and Greg Schneiders. Mr. McCurry was the press secretary for four years during the Clinton administration and Mr. Schneiders worked in the Carter White House as a communications strategist. Hearing the stories of their professional journeys was fascinating! Knowing that my chance to be in front of two people who had worked in the White House was a rarity I took full advantage by finding out as much information as possible. We debated the future of the Democratic Party, Republican Party, and the future of the American political system as a whole. I hope I didn’t annoy my fellow colleagues on the trip by monopolizing the questioning but I don’t regret it at all. Hearing their opinions on the topics I discuss with fellow politicos at home in Charleston was truly amazing. I now know that I hope to one day end up where they were-working in the White House.

We also visited the D.C. offices of Ketchum, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and the Beer Institute. At Ketchum, we heard from many speakers who offered invaluable tips about the job/internship application process and how to make ourselves better candidates. While visiting Senator Graham’s office, we met with Tate Zeigler, who is the deputy communications director for Sen. Graham. Tate told us how he ended up on the Hill and gave us tips on what we could do to end up working on the Hill if we so desired. Lastly, we ended our day at the Beer Institute where we saw the function of communications and good communication strategies in a trade organization.

Having thought that I wanted to end up in New York City upon graduation for the past year, this visit to our nation’s capitol has flipped that on its head. I now hope to end up in either D.C. or NYC and feel that I’d be happy no matter where I land. But for now, all I can do is continue to nurture the relationships I’m making, continue to grow professionally, and enjoy this snowy ride to the Big Apple!

Spring Break Day 1: D.C.

wolfOver spring break, I’m traveling with the College of Charleston Department of Communication on a networking trip where we’re meeting with professionals and alumni in the Washington, D.C. and New York City area. Check back for posts each day about our experiences.

Wow! What a day! How often do you get to roam the nation’s capital with your fellow students meeting with some of the best entities within the communication fields?

We began our day at Fleishman-Hillard where we met with our advisory council member Karen Kaplan and her colleagues. As a political enthusiast who is passionate about public relations, the work that Fleishman does with public affairs and working for different government entities was fascinating to me. The great part about trips like this, is that they allow us to see various aspects of the communications field that we might not have been introduced to previously. I could easily see myself working for a firm like Fleishman.

Following Fleishman, we traveled over to the CNN Washington Bureau. Our host, Mr. Speiser, provided us with the opportunity of hearing from Wolf Blitzer, past interns, and other members within the CNN family about what it’s like working with CNN and for a national news media outlet. Particularly, it was fascinating to hear about the work that they’re doing with their new president. As a life-long CNN fan, it was fantastic to see their offices and meet with some of my idols. The highlight of our visit was the opportunity to stand inside the studio directly behind the cameras while CNN was shooting The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer live. A close second, would be getting to see the room where CNN does all of its 3D graphics that have recently been so instrumental in the network’s programming.

We ended the evening meeting with local alumni and advisory council members. We got to pick their brans for how they have gotten to where they are in their careers and find out what steps we should be taking to end up in similar situations. I enjoyed catching up with past colleagues from various classes and experiences on campus, reconnecting with some advisory council members, and meeting other College of Charleston students!

Today was phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store!

Surviving an Internship

I consider myself a perpetual intern and at any given time, I am interning with at least one organization. It’s how I like to live my life and it’s where I feel that I excel. Interning has allowed me to get involved in my field of study while still in school and has given me the chance to learn without having to truly learn on the job. While some might prefer the “baptism by fire” approach, that’s never been something I’ve been comfortable with. I’ve approached my college years as the chance to get work experience before I’m held completely accountable for the inevitable mistakes that come with the learning process. Here’s my advice about what you should do at an internship to succeed:

1) Make yourself stand out! 

Whether you’re the only intern working for the company or organization at the time or one of 100, find a way to make yourself stand out. Pay attention to the culture of the organization and determine what they value the most and see how you can develop that quality within yourself or highlight it if it already exists. Don’t simply come to work each day and do the bare minimum.

2) Beat everyone in “seat time.”

My grandfather, a graduate of MIT with a doctorate in electrical engineering,  has a saying about how he survived his many years of schooling and became an extremely successful businessman. His motto is that you should beat everyone in “seat time” (he used another word but we keep it PG here at the Spin Room). In essence, work harder than everyone else. Work longer. Work harder. Make your time count. If you’re working longer than is expected of you on a project because you’re that dedicated to it, you’ll show your coworkers that you care just as much about their clients as they do.

3) Ask questions

Always, always, always ask questions! It ensures that you understand what’s expected of you, helps you to become a part of the culture, and will allow you to grow exponentially in your professional life. Be a silent observer and you might learn a bunch from the internship, but you probably won’t be remembered in any significant way by the employer.

4) Get to know your coworkers. 

While some might consider this taboo, I simply suggest that you proceed with caution. Get to know your coworkers and their professional stories first and then, if you start to develop a more open professional relationship, find out about their kids, what they value in life and what makes them who they are. Your coworkers will be able to provide you with valuable career advice and will be a great asset long after your time at your internship is over.

5) Take EVERY opportunity that is presented to you. 

Even if it’s outside of your comfort zone, take every opportunity that comes your way. You never know what lies just around the corner and no matter what, you will learn something. It might be that you find out the exact area that you never want to work in again or you might find the field that you’re meant to work in. You’ll never know what’s waiting for you though, if you don’t take the first step and try.

What advice do you have for interns? Comment below!

Sorry for the delay!

13050Hello Spin Roomers!

Sorry for the delay in posting the past two weeks. It’s those two weeks in the middle of the semester where every day there’s a test or project due so I’ve been slammed. Should have another post up tomorrow evening/Thursday morning about the recent social media hacks! Stay tuned!

 

Welcome to South Carolina!

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I’m a born and raised South Carolinian and I couldn’t be happier with the state that I come from. But, too long our politics have brought shame to this great state. In recent years, we’ve gone from political scandal to political scandal without a seeming end. Our former Governor Mark Sanford (and avid Appalachian Trail hiker), or as he is affectionally referred to at times as the Luv-Gov, was involved in an extra-martial affair and lied about a hiking trip to the Appalachian Trial in which he really was visiting his mistress in Argentina. Under our current governor, Nikki Haley, our state’s Department of Revenue was hacked. We’re the home of the guy who yelled “You lie!” during President Obama’s State of the Union address in 2009. The list goes on and on and on (seriously, if you need a good chuckle just Google “South Carolina political scandals” and you’ll take a trip to weird lane via scandal alley). Where else would it be more possible for comedian Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, to be in the running for the same congressional seat as former Governor Mark Sanford (back from his hiking trip just in time for the Republican Primaries) among 18 others? South Carolina, of course! After all, we were just named the Most Interesting State for Politics.

It looks like our politics are going to remain entertaining and scandal filled for the foreseeable future. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next. Get your popcorn ready!

Women in the Military? It’s about time!

Today’s guest post is from Lauren K. Gray, National President of PRSSA. 

Equality can mean different things to different people, but to me it means everyone, no matter race, sex, religion, cultural history, sexual orientation or any other “difference,” is treated exactly the same. We are all humans. We are people. We deserve to be treated the same in every aspect.

Recently, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey announced the ban on women serving in combat positions in the military would be lifted. Although there has been opposition to this announcement, it is a great thing to see our country moving forward in the direction of progress for treating everyone equally.

Women deserve every right a man has. If a woman wants to openly serve and put her life on the line, she has every right to do so as a man.

This also means more women will be allowed in more training programs. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, an anonymous woman said, “while some physical fitness requirements are slightly less stringent for women, men and women did the same activities and carried the same amount of weight in their backpacks on ruck marches.”

Although with every change we seem to make, there are conditions. According to The New York Times, women are still banned from serving in the infantry, combat tank units and Special Operations commando units. They also note, “many women in Iraq and Afghanistan have served in combat as attachments to infantry foot patrols, and in many cases they have come under fire and fought back. More than 140 women in the American military have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Women should be more fairly treated in the workplace overall. There should be no “glass ceiling” for us just because of our gender. We should be described as womanly and be proud of it. I don’t want a “manly” power, I want to be proud of my womanhood and all that comes with it.

Equal pay and treatment would be a good start. We work just as hard and just as long as our male counterparts and we should be paid like it. We should also be given equal treatment with workload. No one should ever tell us “oh we can’t give that to her, she can’t handle it.” Trust me… we can handle it and MUCH more.

Emotions are not a weakness. They provide us the opportunity to think about all aspects of an issue before driving a solution. Being emotional is not a weakness, it can be used as a great strength.

Things are changing and we all need to move forward with these changes. Progress does not happen overnight, but I believe we will continue to move forward as a nation with more changes for equality in the future.

Why the “Spin Room?”

Author’s note: Sorry for the delay in posts. I’ve just started a new internship as well as a new semester and had been trying to figure out how best to balance everything. Unfortunately, the blog got pushed to the back burner but I’m glad to be back and posts will be more frequent now that my schedule has been worked out. I couldn’t think of a better post than to address my reasoning behind choosing “The Spin Room” name. Hope you enjoy! 

For the longest time I struggled with coming up with a creative name for my blog. In fact, this dilemma is what has contributed greatly to delaying the launch of a blog for over a now year.  When contemplating names, I always kept coming back to the “spin room” phrase. Few other terms are so closely associated with both public relations and politics. But, I was concerned about the negative associations with public relations and the light that we are often times cast in–as manipulators–masters of spin.

Many public relations and communications professionals resent the bad reputation that PR gets and I have to admit that I’m one of them. So then, why would I choose to name my blog with one of the descriptive terms that is so often used to the detriment of our field? The answer is simple. I choose to embrace it. No, I do not embrace the negative stereotypes nor do I embrace the morals, or lack there of, that are so often considered synonymous with our field. Whether we like it or not (or care to admit it) the vast amount of the general public think that we are manipulative people. It’s our job to change that perception. After all, isn’t one of the many aspects of our field brand management and brand resuscitation? Public relations needs a resuscitation. We need a resuscitation.

Too long have we allowed ourselves to be understood as the bad guys. Especially when, in the past few years, we have made strides to combat this image. Consider the lengths that PRSA has gone to make ethics and professional conduct a core of our field. But, do many people outside of our profession know this?

As a college junior, whenever I see family members or friends who haven’t seen me in awhile the second or third question (after the obligatory “How are you?”) is always what are you studying? When I tell them communication with the intent to go into public relations, nine times out of ten I get a shocked look and a snarky comment.

“Oh, you want to be one of those guys?”

or

“Why not just be lawyer? They’re both liars but lawyers get paid better?”

Clearly, our perception and image problem runs deep. When I receive a comment like this, I always respond with a level head and highlight the high regard that ethics has within our profession and that, unfortunately, there are a few practitioners who have caused the whole profession to have a bad reputation.

When offering a rebuttal to these questions I also ask people to consider the following (some may disagree with my outlook). Public relations professionals believe that their first–and  most important–responsibility is to the public.  Yes, our clients are a close second but above all else, we must be honest and transparent with the public and publics that we are serving.

Let us, as a profession, embrace the terms that are used to negatively describe us. President Obama did this by embracing the Republican party’s branding of the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare.” He dulled their Obamacare sword. In fact, they gave him a gift. They should have seen the obvious, yet oh so slight, change that could be made to their term–Obama cares.

Let us show that PR cares. We care about the publics that we serve. We care about the clients that we represent. We care about you–all of you.

Welcome to the Spin Room. There will be no spin here. Only honesty and, hopefully, a bit of fun.