Week 2


Thank you for your continued support


Hello all! Week 2 is officially underway and its been an awesome experience thus far.

Monday I had my first news writing class. My professor is Donna Stein, APR, Fellow PRSA. From the introduction and the preparedness, she is going to be one of my favorite professors during this entire experience. She studied at Syracuse in the same program we did, but almost 35 years ago. She harped about how her news writing class entailed a type writer, white out and constantly breaking her nails. We all laughed, but I know she was totally serious, I thank my lucky stars everyday that I have the technology that I do. We discussed our syllabi and the expectations for the class. We went around and introduced ourselves noting our most recent internship and where we wanted to be within the field of PR. I was surprised to find out that many in the class hadn’t had ANY internships at all! I felt a little more confident with the fact that I had two under my belt as well as all the positions from Curry Theatre. Our goal  graphics this week is to create a word mark for ourselves and then design a resume, so I will be posting that here at some point for all to see. One of the most important things we discussed today was the difference between hard and soft news. We were required to bring in examples of each and then explain why we felt they were strong examples. I brought in a story about how NY is contemplating splitting Onondaga county into three sections and how they affects everyone in the area. For my soft news story I chose and articles that was based on Casey Anthony (which would currently be hard news), but was about acquittals like Casey Anthony’s that were all considered the court case of the century. Professor Stein seemed to enjoy this article because it had a mix of both hard and soft, but was a feature. I definitely learned how important relationships with journalists are. Both the journalist and the practitioner need to try and make the others job easier. Journalists have deadlines and certain structures they like to follow while writing their stories; practitioners need certain information to be given to the public and in a relevant and timely fashion. Getting to know whom you will be sending your information to on a regular basis is probably one of the smartest things you can do.

We began with lead exercises learning to remember to place who, what, where, when, why and how within our writing. Grabbing the most important information and placing it at the top (inverted pyramid), etc. We all did really well and professor Stein only had a few small suggestions for us. At this point we went over a short lecture on news writing and leads and then were told that it was lunch time. Monday and Tuesday, lunch is only half an hour. I feel slightly rushed, but the sooner we get back into class the faster we can leave. I’m not at a point where I am already tired of the work (its fabulous, I promise), I’m just not back into the swing of working diligently yet. It’s weird being in intensive classes in the middle of the summer. It doesn’t feel right. I know that by next summer though I will feel confident in my abilities and be on my way to a position that I want, but getting in the swing of things again has been hard.

After we came back from lunch we discussed our media kits and the ideas for organizations and companies that will be collaborating and sponsoring an event together. I have decided to go with Ben and Jerry’s partnering with Habitat for Humanity. They will be hosting the “Sundae on Sunday” carnival event at the Waterbury, VT factory. All monies raised will be go to Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Uganda, Ghana, and Mexico. These three countries were chosen as they are three they provide Ben and Jerry’s with Fair Trade products for their delicious ice cream products. Many of the other ideas were strong, but I felt that everyone tried to be extra serious about the company and organization they chose. I picked something that I felt could be fun (I guess part of that is my personality) and at the same time something that interests me. I think in the future if I could work for Ben and Jerry’s (who hires through Unilever) it could be one of the most interesting experiences of my life.  In about two-three weeks from now as a class we will choose our two favorite media kits, split into two teams and create a press conference to announce the collaboration and the event. I’m hoping that I can do strongly enough to have mine be chosen and become a team leader. I won’t be crushed if mine isn’t chosen, but it would be a great confidence booster and resume tidbit. We will see. The day ended up being quite interesting. IU know that I will be learning a lot from this class. I just wish our time wasn’t so short.

On Tuesday we all met with the other section in the Larry Kramer War Room to listen to a speaker named Bob Lloyd. Mr. Lloyd is a news writer for The Post Standard and teaches a few news writing classes at Syracuse. He talked about the basics of writing for news and what some of the reasons for writing about a particular piece of news was. He had some great stories from experience and I was very interested by the information he had to give us. He told a touching story of a news article that was written in the local paper about a boy with autism from Ohio and how it emotionally affected his family because his son was autistic. He was giving an example of how a story can emotionally touch someone or even make their day even if it’s from a different state. we were each required to come prepared to ask a question about news writing. I asked Mr. Lloyd what was the hardest interview he experienced, why and what tips he might have for us in the future interviews we may have. He loved my question, said that it was a strong one and gave a great answer talking about more than just one interview. After all the questions had been answered we broke for lunch. Food.com (the Newhouse dining facility) is very very slow in making food, so some of the people in our group only got about ten minutes to eat once their food was made and they paid for it. Bringing my lunch is much cheaper and easier to point on Weight Watchers. At 12:30 we split into our sections and received our first reflection essays back from our Tuesday night dinner class. My lunch group had been discussing how one section was being given a pass/fail for the essay. We didn’t know how Professor Stein would be grading ours. Turns out we get a grade from 1-8. I unfortunately received a 4 on my very first essay. No spelling errors, but a few grammar and capitalization errors, but I wasn’t the only one. After when our class was over I had a conversation with Professor Stein asking questions of the errors made on my essay and what I could change to make it better. One thing I noticed is that every time I capitalized the words public relations she has marks through the P and the R. I told her that I had been instructed as long as the words we consistent with upper or lower case that that was ok. Well apparently you should NEVER capitalize those words unless one happens to be at the beginning of a sentence. “That’s not how we do it at Syracuse.” Many in my section were given points off for not having a page number starting on page two or the ### at the end of the essay. Apparently every essay you write at Newhouse should have those markings to show its the end, whether it’s a press release or not. I suppose its just to make sure pages don’t go missing, but we email these essays to the professor and the TA and they print them out! I suppose I will learn the norm at some point, but after this I began to feel maybe I wasn’t strong enough for the program.

During the class we worked on some news story exercises, having to take the information we were given and turn it into an interesting news story. I felt that I did well on these, especially with headlines. Maybe I should have been a journalist. There’s just something so much more appealing to being a PR practitioner than a columnist of some sort.

That night we had a cold cut buffet of sandwiches and listened to a Power point on public opinion, stakeholders, and propaganda. the reading for preparation was pretty dense and took me a very long time to get through, but in bullet terms it was much easier to understand. Overall the class was pretty interesting. I’m noticing that the lectures are very very similar to the readings so its just kind of a repeat, but there are different interpretations of how somethings should be done within PR. Hearing the different opinions can make me start thinking from other points of view, which I love.

Wednesday is my early morning of the week. I have lab from 8-12 and then graphics lecture from 1-4. On Wednesdays my news writing lab has an AP Stylebook quiz. We discovered we could work in groups and use our Stylebooks, but 20 sentences is still quite overwhelming. Since we aren’t pro’s at AP style we basically had to look up every word, and ran out of time. Turns out the whole class did poorly, but now we know what to expect so week 3’s quiz should be a little less hectic.

The lab period is awesome to have. I can use those three hours to catch up and no feel so cramped for time. THANK YOU SU FOR FORCING STUDY HALLS ON US! I was able to finish my next essay for the previous days dinner lecture and finish up a required graphics blog. I like to take longer lunches on Wednesday if I can. It makes me less anxious before graphics lab which is tough to get through sometimes.

This week we will be doing an update of our resumes and making them more design based. We heard a great lecture on typography and what to think about within the different typefaces as we create our resume and all other projects we have this semester.

We learned about typography and how there are 8 million different options. Serif, san serif, novelty, etc. I guess I didn’t realize how much work went into picking a font and decided between the hundreds of thousands that Syracuse gives us, which is the best option.

One of our lectures was all about how people get or create ideas. Many things we see in the world is an older idea modernized. Though you can change something and make it brand new, many decide that they are going to create the exact same thing and slap their name on it. It was very surprising moving through her slideshow of how many things in our life time really have already been done by someone else……And I thought my generation was cool. NOT.

On Thursday we began to learn illustrator in our lab period. THANK GOD I HAVE TAKEN CLASSES IN INDESIGN. Most were clueless even after the short lesson. There should have been much more instruction time about the programs and less about design and the theories behind it. Though interesting our tasks were on the computer and to not have full knowledge or a basic grasp on what these programs can do, there is no use of the program to us. So much potential is lost. We were given tools that could be used for our particular project which happened to be Resumes. This didn’t concern many of the artistic or complex things this program is capable of, but many names went on the question lists handed out and many were behind on the project because they couldn’t move forward since they were stuck on a “step” of the process.

After class, the PR group met up at a pub down the street to speak with some recent graduates and their experiences. i have become nervous as  to what is going to happen to me come Summer 2012, but I HAVE to stay optimistic. I really want to be in Boston for my internship and then continue to look for work there afterwards, but I am getting the feeling I may have to go somewhere else and then move to Boston jobless and start slapping the pavement. I feel my skills now, and by then will be strong enough to warrant an internship somewhere, I just don’t want to be stuck in Syracuse. Many interesting tales of professors were shared over beers. Some of them should be quite interesting. Apparently starting in April I’m going to become a zombie and know nothing but the library and the labs in Newhouse. We will see about that, but I’m sure there is going to be an insane amount of work. I’m concerned about graduating mother’s day weekend and then still having to complete a week long may-mester, a comprehensive exam and then a capstone internship all summer before ACTUALLY receiving my diploma. Things could get interesting.

On Friday resume projects were due by 430. I spent the whole day from 9-4:30 working on my projects. I loved all the feedback I was able to receive from Cookie (my professor) but I sat more staring at my screen waiting for her than I did working on my project (or thats how it felt to me). Not the end of the world though, gave me a chance to thin about how it looked and get student feedback on it as well. They also handed out our project for the next week, logos, business cards, envelope design and letterhead. All need to be cohesive. Since it really was the first project, I didn’t even want to think about the second, but it would continue like this every week I assumed. I was proud of what I handed in (which has been posted on the blog already), and anxious to see the grade I received.

That night Newhouse sponsored a Trivia night at a waffle house near SU called Fink’n Waffles. Its a great little place that catered waffles just to us. My team was the PR Allstars. We did pretty well. Came in third, but there were some very interesting questions. Fun was had by all and we each finally had the weekend to relax and recuperate for week three.



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