Monthly Archives: May 2017

Internship Reflection: My Time at True Digital Communications

Today is our intern’s last day at True- and we can’t thank Bailey enough for all of her hard work the past several months. Here’s her reflection on her time at True!

Over the past 4 months, I have had the privilege to work with amazing people, clients and one very cute pug named Murphy. As the content intern for True Digital Communications, I learned more than I could have ever imagined. Believe it or not, as a True intern you are not sent on coffee runs or made to sort papers – although one day I did upload 1000 USB’s with marketing collateral for a client! At True, interns have the freedom to create content for clients, learn about digital marketing and become familiar with analytics. I was able to sit in on client meetings and connect with partners from all over the world. At True I didn’t feel like the intern, nor was I treated like one.  During my three days a week at True, although I wish it were more, I was not just an intern, I was part of the team.  

During my time at True, I learned not only about my profession but also a lot about myself. As a senior at Kent State, it was a very busy semester for me. Tackling 19 credit hours, my senior capstone, a job where I had to travel on the weekends and my internship, I was nervous that it would get overwhelming. I learned that having an internship you love made a busy schedule less stressful. I realized I love the agency setting. The upbeat ever-changing workload made me, a not so morning person, excited to wake up and go into the office. I learned that it is okay to mess up. This was my first real internship so there were times that I made mistakes. These mistakes gave me the opportunity to pick back up and try again.

I worked with a knowledgeable team who gave me advice and feedback on my work and offered me valuable tips about my future. I feel as if I have met lifelong mentors during my time at True. I have acquired connections that I will hold onto forever and each member at True has taught me something different. Whether it was a recommendation on an insight post, how to sort through data on an excel document or even where the closest Chipotle was – everything I learned in my four months was positive advice that will help me in my future.

Although my time here flew by, I learned a lot along the way and am thankful I was able to be a part of the True Digital family. I want to thank everyone for making me feel important and preparing me for my future ahead. Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll be back to visit. I’ll miss Murphy too much not to.

We’ll miss you, Bailey! Best of luck in all of your future endeavors! 

Meet True’s Summer Intern

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Meet Latisha, our new content intern for the summer! In this blog post, she tells us more about her PR experience so far, what she likes to do in her free time and where she sees herself in the future!

Name: Latisha Ellison

School: Kent State University

Major: Public Relations

Year: Senior

Other internship experience: Flash Communications, a student-run agency located in the Kent State University Communications and Marketing office. We write stories for the Kent State homepage and the faculty and staff e-newsletter.

Do you have any hobbies? Does trying different red wines and binging the latest Hulu original count?

What are 3 fun facts about you? I celebrated my 21st birthday in Barcelona.  I became an aunt at the age of 5. I’ve seen all three queens live, in person (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj).

What’s your favorite snack? Popcorn and M&Ms

What do you hope to gain from your internship at True? I hope to gain a better understanding of how an agency operates and a better understanding of how to measure social media’s impact on brand growth.

What made you interested in an internship at True? I knew that a lot of the focus is on digital communications (surprise!) and I want to learn more about being digital and to gain and expand on those skills. I also heard there was a really great collaborative culture at True, which is something I’m looking for in a company.

Where do you want to be in ten years? I’m a firm believer that no matter how hard you try, life has its own agenda for you, so I have no idea where I’ll end up. Hopefully I will be at a purpose-driven company working with a passionate team, and hopefully working with a local nonprofit in some capacity.

Welcome, Latisha! We’re so excited to have you on our team!

 

The “Marketing” Connection to Internal Communications

There’s a brewing problem in marketing, and the solution to it might be staring back at us across our desks at the office.

When you’re making a decision about a product to buy or service provider to hire, how do you do it? For years, if you knew someone who worked at the company, you’d ask them. Social media has expanded that network from your first-level contacts to people around the world. Sites like GlassDoor, Great Places to Work, Indeed and many others offer first hand reviews from the people behind the scenes.

In response to this development, some companies are trying to bring marketing techniques to bear. They launch campaigns to encourage social sharing by employees, going so far as to script tweets and Facebook posts. They might target specific sites and ask employees to write reviews about how terrific the company and its products are. This is a mistake.

The connection between “marketing” and internal communications needs some work. At a regional bank some years ago, we reported to the marketing department, and our principal internal client looked at a newsletter one day and exclaimed, “These are like, articles!” Patiently, we agreed. They indeed are articles, collections of sentences and paragraphs that inform, inspire and motivate. What she wanted were ads. Brand-connected images with cutlines, graphical illustrations…things that evoked mood rather than information.

We wound up somewhere in between, but the lesson I took away from that experience was that marketing and communications weren’t the same thing. Marketing is based on an exchange relationship – you give us money, we give you stuff. That dynamic lends itself to the high-visual, low-detail world of advertising.

But internal communications needs context and detail alongside the motivational, emotional feel of marketing.  That’s not to say it always is textual, or that it’s always lengthy. The sort of relationship IC is about is a communal relationship – the sense of getting people to identify with the organization, its mission, its vision and its values. When that sense of identification is well established, employees are more satisfied, happier at work and more fulfilled. They tell others. Organically.

Developing identification relies on building comprehension, understanding and commitment, and that means managers and supervisors play a crucial role. Manager communication effectiveness is highly correlated to those factors, according to research Dr. Julie O’Neil of Texas Christian University and I conducted a few years ago.

What marketers should be doing instead of thinking of employees as one more set of influencers to exploit is to partner with internal communicators to support managers and supervisors with solid tools, techniques and information to help them lead, guide and better understand their employees. Improving the communication environment will help expose issues and problems, develop solutions, innovate and generally make for a great place to work

If that happens, organizations will reap the rewards of a motivated, engaged workforce – which helps the organization win in the market.

How to Get Value Out of an Internship – Whether You Get the Job or Not

Are you a college student? Take a seat and let me tell you how it is.

Just some advice from the one that does the hiring. An interview is a great opportunity for professionals to not only get to know students, but for students to find out as much as possible about the company. Plus, just an interview can give you a gauge of whether or not you like corporate, nonprofits, agency or the other million options.

Let’s start at the beginning. When you enter a business, enter with confidence. You know who you are there to meet with, so show that. Also, dress professionally. I know True has a relaxed culture but I appreciate someone who comes dressed for the job they want. Work! Also, bring extra copies of your resume and work samples, but I’ll hit on that a little later.

My pet peeves that are a must from interviewees: Ask questions. Please, please, please ask questions. Some good ones are:

  • What is the favorite project you’ve worked on?
  • Have you ever had an instance that you didn’t know what to do or recommend? What did you do?
  • What is your favorite part of working at XYZ? What’s your least favorite?
  • What will I be working on?
  • Can you show me some work you are doing right now?

Bring work samples and extra resumes. Don’t just bring them but show them off! I want to see them but it’s also a bit of a test because I’m not going to ask you every time to see them. Work them into the discussion about your resume. Own it! Writing is key to any marketing, public relations and even analytics internship. Good writing is a lost art form and we want to see you can write to a key audience and know the right messages.

That leads me to one that may seem picky – but make eye contact. And act enthusiastic! If you don’t seem to care, I’m not going to hire you, because you don’t fit into True’s culture. Also, send a thank you. You pick the best way but I really love to get snail mail… (hint, hint)

At the end of the day, I have to tell people no. And that’s the no fun part. We can have 10 good applicants and interviewees but we only have one spot. Get the most you can out of an interview. If the interviewer tells you to keep in touch and follow-up for additional help or advice, do it. We don’t tell everyone that.

Keep in mind that someone telling you “no” is certainly not the end of the world so keep your head up, and keep on shining!

Conference Recap: PRSA Counselors to Higher Education

It’s my first PRSA Counselors to Higher Education Senior Summit, and it shall not be my last. In my new role at True Digital Communications, I lead the education practice, so these are some of MY PEOPLE! It was terrific, and here are five reasons why, along with some commentary.

  • Some universities get the concept of integrated communications, and some do not. Marketing, public relations, community relations, alumni and internal communications should be working together more consistently. Common planning would help a lot, and it would make measurement easier. These things might be out of the communicator’s control – as with a lot of organizations, if you’re a member of the leadership team, you’re in better shape than if not.
  • Universities who feel unprepared for the coming communication convergence know they need help. Integrating comms can be controversial, so stepping through the process of opening up lines of communication, coordinating among the comms functions and collaborating as opportunities avail seems to be recognized as a path forward. We need to watch out for the belief that we, as PR people, are somehow above the marketing function. It’s true that we often have different objectives and audiences, but we also can play a vital role in improving advertising and marketing performance, and contributing to other university objectives. “All marketing is communication, but not all communication is marketing” is a truth, but that doesn’t mean we’re “better” than marketing.
  • Communication measurement is a continuing developmental need. There’s a fair amount of “output” measurement, but still a disconnect (with a few exceptions) with business impact measurement. Attribution of a “lead” is part of the problem. What leads came from comms and what from marketing? Why does that matter? We’re all on the same team, right? We hope we’re on the same team (see above…) Measurement is as much about improving planning as proving value — let’s have clear objectives for our measurement as well as for our programs.
  • Internal communication in universities is an increasingly pregnant problem. (Like it isn’t in other organizations? ROFLMAA!) But who’s responsible for it? Anyone? Anyone? The comms function should include internal in its planning – and find the faculty, staff and administration leaders to partner with to improve it.
  • Crisis preparation and response is probably the dominant issue universities are grappling with. Some universities have well-prepared, trusted advisors, and some neither. Crises occur, and yes, we have to respond. We also should do solid research (including environmental scanning) that help to identify potential crises in advance.

Good information, good discussion — good food and beverages! Thanks for making the True Digital Communications crew feel so welcome. We appreciate it!