Entertainment PR– Lessons from Hollywood

By: Alyssa Schaefer

I know a lot of young professionals attempting to break into public relations are eager to get their foot into the entertainment industry door.

Who can blame them? We live in a modern society that is fiercely driven by pop culture. The entertainment industry seems to possess a mysterious power to become disturbingly addicting. Consumers can’t get enough, and producers seem to be finding endless dynamics to formulate the next break-out sensation.

However, it is important not to be fooled by the shimmering streets of Hollywood. Behind this industry is a whole army of people working against impossible standards in order to ensure the success of their childhood dreams.

You may find it helpful to get some background knowledge of the industry, and what sort of world you would be dealing with if you choose to pursue a career in entertainment PR, or just the field of entertainment in general.

This article is based on knowledge I’ve gained from my internship this summer at a talent agency – and also knowledge that I’ve picked up through the clients at the agency (since we all know that listening to the customer is the #1 rule these days).

  • It is important to have a good background or understanding of the talent you choose to represent. This could be closely identified with “product knowledge.” Knowledge of the product you’re selling is vital in any business scenario; the same is true in the entertainment industry. One should be able to recognize “good” talent when he or she sees it. The clients you represent want to know that you know what you’re talking about. Experience is key; build trust with your client by showing consideration for the product you both will be selling.
  • A talent agent will spend a good amount of time networking with directors, photographers, choreographers, and other clients. It is absolutely essential that a talent agent possess great communication skills. Both the client and the talent agent will benefit from being extremely organized. The entertainment industry waits for no one. At times, auditions come up with little to no prior indication. It is of utmost importance that the talent agent stays on top of his or her “game” 100 percent of the time.
  • Branding. Classifying one’s projected market is of course imperative in the success of the agency, and therefore the client. “How does this particular client want to be branded in the market he or she is aiming for?” Breakdowns – a list of requirements that casting is looking for – usually specify characteristics they desire in a talent. Knowing which characteristics are associated with each client allows you to pull the most equipped clientele for each specific audition. Every single client is unique, we must remember that we are dealing with the “public”; no one client will ever be the same. By branding your clientele, it not only shows great transparency and personal attention, it ensures a clear and projective path to success.

There are obviously many more qualities vital to success in the industry. These are simply the core values and ideas that I’ve taken away from my summer in the land of the rich and famous. I personally enjoy this fast-paced, “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” environment. However, those who are looking for a nurturing, routine-based work life should perhaps be advised to explore some different options!

10 PR Tips and Tricks from Company Tour 2012

By: Regina Volk

Title Image10) Document Everything
The first thing you should do is add that you went on PRSSA’s company tour to your resume.  It shows that you are taking an initiative in your career and that you care enough about your future to research what you want to do with it!

9) Use the PRSA and PRSSA websites
PRSSA and PRSA have a ton of tips, articles, and job opportunities online. It’s a great resource and it’s at your fingertips. They give you access to this website for a reason, take advantage of it!

8) Stay connected!
You may not always have the answer, but being able to find someone who does will get you far. Staying connected to your contacts will pay off in the real world.  You never know where networking can take you.

7) Prepare for Interviews
When contacting the media, always prepare what you are going to say and know exactly who you need to talk to. Don’t waste time by calling and having them connect you to who you should be talking to – that is your job.

6) Keep it Personal
When you have to interview people for media exposure and you’re forced to do so over the phone, make sure to talk to them as if you truly KNOW them. They need to feel comfortable when you talk to them. Don’t let it get awkward.

5) Have a Goal
Set measureable objectives, it’s the best way to see your results. You’ll never be able to see what you’ve accomplished if you aren’t working towards a specific goal.  You’re company will want to see the return on what they pay you to do.

4) Research, Research, Research!
Research is the foundation of public relations. Every good PR agency uses research-based strategies for their clients. Get familiar with the logistics of surveys and focus groups. It will never be a waste of time.

3) Social Media is not always Key
Don’t use social media for a client if it doesn’t make sense. If your clients’ audience is not a tech savvy audience, then it wouldn’t make sense to use Facebook and Twitter. Always keep the audience in mind.

2) Follow the Swiss Army Knife Rule
In the past, it was enough to find one skill and be the best at it. This isn’t true anymore. Be like a Swiss Army Knife, have multiple skills that can be implemented in all forms of public relations.

1) Content is King
What you put out there matters. This applies to everything from blog writing, website content, to social media. The key to successful social media is strong content. Fine tune your writing skills. Make sure you have writing samples available when you start applying for jobs!

Opportunities in Disguise

By: Erica Sturwold
UI PRSSA President

You need to jump.  No, you need to leap. Yes, leap, at any, and every, internship opening that presents itself on your path through college.  Experience, even if unrelated, uninteresting and unpaid, is still experience; even when a prospect seems to have very little to do with your desired field, it doesn’t mean it should be ruled out.

If your chosen path is in public relations and something like an opportunity to do design work for a university magazine may not seem to have much relevance, does that mean you turn it down? The answer is definitely, “no”.

In the past I’ve sold advertising for two different radio stations, and though I was apprehensive to be involved in sales (for fear I did not possess the skills to smooth-talk), I found the jobs were nothing short of confidence and character builders. Not to mention, they were actually more about listening, than speaking.  When I bring up these experiences in interviews, I find employers are pleasantly surprised with my willingness to work a job where rejection is around every corner and perseverance is key—this somehow has a way of proving my work ethic.

These types of experiences are the ones that set you apart, and, more importantly, mold you into your own brand. Though your past jobs and internships may not all have been for major marketing agencies and professional event planning firms, the other portion, made up of somewhat out-of-the-ordinary experiences, is a very important piece of your background—what makes you “well-rounded” and “cultured”.

Though I can gladly say I have now had two very multidimensional strategic-communication internships, I know I got there by my ability to be open for whatever comes my way. Before these, and aside from the radio stations, I have written for a magazine, done publication design work, organized and programmed an entire office’s files and recently wrote for and edited a summer newsletter.

One good thing to keep in mind is that while certain positions you pick up may not be exactly what you want to be doing now, they can lead you to something, or someone, who can take you where you want to go.

A simple trick I have learned to find new opportunities is to take the initiative to be friendlier with teachers, and more importantly, internship advisors.  These are the people who, if they know you, will set aside prospects they know you will be perfect for you when those prospects come along.

Aside from this, open every email, read every University posting and keep your eyes peeled for any job-opening posters in your class buildings—even if the extra work feels hard to squeeze in your schedule, it usually has a way of fitting itself in and paying off big time in the long run.

Maybe the chance to lead freshmen on tours around campus is what you consider to be a resume-filler, but, to right employer it could prove both your leadership abilities, and, your inclination to leap into any possible role.

Five Tips to Have a Successful Internship

By Emily Messerly, PRSSA Member

We’ve all heard about the importance of internships. They are the key to getting your references, building skills, and ultimately landing your first job, but only you determine what you gain from the opportunity. Through my own internship experience, which involved working as a press/legislative intern for Senator Tom Harkin in Washington D.C., I learned five things that will give any intern a successful experience.

1)    Network-How did I get such an incredible internship? I reached out to a family member who has worked for the Senator for almost twenty-five years.Building relationships with your collegues can prove beneficial when you look for a job post-graduation.

2)    Take Initiative-In my internship, some days had a lot of downtime. However, I wasn’t there to sit around, so I went out of my way to get work. There were times when it was menial, but it led to more opportunities. Employers need to see that you’re dependable, and demonstraing that you’re capable of initiative is a huge showing point for them.

3)    Don’t Ever Say ‘I’ll Never Use This’-Did I ever learn this the hard way. One day, I was asked to do a project which involved creating a spreadsheet with working formulas. Um . . .oops. Just that past fall I had taken a class that dealt with spreadsheets, and I didn’t remember a thing because I never thought I would use it. Eventually, I did figure it out, but it’s much easier to benefit from every class, and not just the ones you think are important.

4)    Learn From Experience-Your colleagues are going to be the best sources of information, because they’ve been there and done that. We had the privilege of having lunches with most of the major staff, who would go over their college and career paths. Everyone has a unique story, and you can benefit from everything they experienced.

5)    Go Above and Beyond-Doing only what you’re told simply shows your supervisor you can take direction well. Going above and beyond shows your employer that you’re hard working and can think outside of the box. Companies are always looking for innovative minds. Take every task you’re given as far as you can, even if it’s something small.

Interested in an opportunity to intern for a Senator? Go to http://harkin.senate.gov/students/intern/ for more information.

Follow Emily on Twitter! @emilymesserly

AP Style Quick Tips

By Katelyn McBride

As newsletter editor of PRSSA, I’ve had the opportunity to improve my own writing skills through reading and editing  many other people’s work.  Although I am not an expert in AP or English grammar, (and have the worst spelling of anyone I know), there are a few common AP errors that I’ve noticed and want to address.

The Associated Press (AP) stylebook is like my bible. Knowledge of AP style is important for journalists and PR practitioners, which is why familiarity with this guide is critical! Here are some tips:

1. Lists: Place commas between list items, but do not place a comma before the last conjunction (and, or) if the series is made up of simple items.

Simple: Was the culprit Jack, Chuck, Dan or Nate?

Complex: Please fetch me the coffee cup on the counter, my notebook on the table, and  that piece of paper on the floor.

2. Academic majors: These are NOT capitalized unless it is a language.  I am majoring in journalism and Spanish. (In general, I see a lot of overcapitalization.)

3. Titles (of people): Don’t capitalize if it stands alone or isn’t directly before a name.

Example: Talk to Megan McIntyre, the PRSSA president.

Example: Talk to PRSSA President Megan McIntyre.

4. Titles (of things): Know the name of your own institution, and anything else important. You attend The University of Iowa, not the University of Iowa.  Respect a company’s choice of how it capitalizes or punctuates its name. Check the Web site!

Fleishman Hillard (or) Fleishman-Hillard

Stuff Etc. (or) Stuff Etc

Better Homes & Gardens (or) Better Homes and Gardens

*Hint: the second choice is right for all of these!

5. Cities/States: Let’s take California for example… CA is only an abbreviation when it’s a mailing address. If you are from San Diego, in the text it should read,

Blair is originally from San Diego, Calif., but now lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

State abbreviations are something you probably need to refer to the AP stylebook for, unless you have a really good memory. (Oh, and there are eight states that are not abbreviated in text; Iowa is one of them!)

Hopefully you learned something about AP through these few tips, but remember to keep your stylebook handy in case you ever have a doubt on how to style something.

The PAR Story

By Kelsey Thortsen – Finance Director

This summer, I am doing an internship in Paris through a program with the UI. As part of my preparation, I am enrolled in a seminar where we learn how to make the most out of our global internships. This past week, I learned a strategy that I found particularly helpful and thought I would share it with my fellow PRSSAers. It is called the PAR story: P-Problem A-Actions R-Results. Using this strategy will help you develop impressive resume bullets and interview stories.

First, you want to start out by describing a problem you were faced with in your internship or job. Next, write out the actions you took to handle this problem and the results the company or firm received from your actions. This first part should be done in paragraph format, and you want to make sure you spend the most amount of time describing the actions and results (employers are most impressed by these). Once you have written your PAR story, try to identify the skills or characteristics you demonstrated with this story (leadership, problem solving, negotiating, initiative, creativity, etc.). As you go through your internship, try to write out a PAR story for every accomplishment you make; do NOT wait until the end of the internship, because you will undoubtedly forget some of your accomplishments.

Next, pick out the PAR stories that you find resume worthy and organize them into a bullet point. Remember to start with the problem you faced, then move on to the actions you took and end with the results you created.

Lastly, dissect your PAR story by bulleting the main points in a logical order. Remember to have a balance of the P, A and R parts. This last part will help you in interviews. When an interviewer asks you to tell them about a time you demonstrated leadership, you will already have a story ready. Think back to a PAR story that you identified as demonstrating your leadership and tell the story using the bullet points you created in this last step. A lot of times, students tend to be all over the place when telling their stories; using the PAR story strategy will make your answers much more decipherable and will impress the interviewers, making you a more desirable candidate for the job.

That’s all there is to the PAR story strategy. It will help you create bullets that make your resume stand out and prepare you for difficult interview questions. If you don’t want to put the effort into doing it for all your accomplishments in an internship, at least try it out for one story. Good Luck!

What Not to Do at an Internship

By Natalie Dubs


…Leave Early

..even when the boss says it’s okay. It’s never a good idea when you’re trying to prove yourself to the “real world” to take the first opportunity you get to bolt. The sun may be shinning, and your friends may be at the beach, but you signed up to prove yourself as a young professional. The stakes are set higher now than ever for interns, because the amount of people willing to intern in this economy is growing. You want to make them proud to have you, and even snag that recommendation letter at the end.

…Take Long lunches

You never want to be away from your desk for too long when you’re an intern. You never know when an opportunity may come up where it’s between you and another person and just because you’re the first one your boss sees, you get to do it. It’s happened to me and has given me more avenues to demonstrate my abilities and willingness to work and be successful

…Say “no”

NEVER SAY NO. (on a serious note, unless it’s unrealistic or inappropriate) You want to prove that you’re there to gain as much experience as they will allow. Push the boundaries a little. If your boss asks you to do something, whether it be running to Kinkos or putting together a quarterly review- never turn down an opportunity. As boring as the task may sound it will accomplish one of two things:

  1. Set you ahead of the game
  2. Give you knowledge of something you didn’t have before


Never talk bad about employees to employees, or anyone for that matter. You never know who is talking to who, who may be best friends with who. A lot of things go full circle in corporations and it’s almost a guarantee that someone above you, or the actual person will hear about it. Not only will it damage your reputation, but it may also hinder your work and the opportunities you get.

…Dress Sloppy

We all have days where we’d rather roll out of bed and stay in our pajamas all day, this is not the time. Wake up a couple minutes early to leave yourself some extra time to be lazy in the mornings. The sloppier you look, the less professional people will perceive you as, and that is the last thing you’re trying to accomplish with this internship.

Practical Advice from Monica Madura

At our October 28th Chapter meeting, Monica Madura, the Communication Studies Academic Advisor, came to speak.  Monica geared her presentation towards job searching and how to prepare oneself for the “real world.”  She also offered a valuable question and answer session where members got their most burning questions answered.

Monica suggested that the earlier we start looking for jobs and internships, the better.  Not only can you utilize the Pomerantz Career Center’s Employment Expo and Career Shift, but look on the Communication Studies webpage and utilize your network.  Some ways to get your network started can range from attending Chamber of Commerce events to talking with your professors here at the University of Iowa.

Once you find a job or internship that you are interested in, Monica talked about the importance of customizing our resumes and cover letters for the specific position.  It’s a great idea to make a “master resume” where you list everything you have done.  Then once you look at the job description or requirements you can cut and paste on a new document what is most relevant to that job.

The take away message from our speaker was to start job-hunting early, customize your resume, and utilize the resources we have at our fingertips here at the University!

By Shannon Kane

Trying to find internships this spring or summer?

On Tuesday, October 20, 2009, I attended a small class led by Amy A’Hearn the communications career advisor. When I say small, I mean small. It was a class size of three people including myself and it was wonderful. The class was all about how to find an internship whether it be for the spring, summer, or fall. She started off the class by asking what our priorities were, what did we want out of the internship? What was important to us, location, paid/unpaid, work environment, work hours, etc? She said the key to finding an internship was first figuring out what you, yourself wanted out of one.

Next, she showed us the Pomerantz Career Center’s website (www.careers.uiowa.edu) and located the Career Guide button which brought up a number of sample resumes, cover letters, letters of inquiry, etc. A’Hearn urged us to look at each of these to begin writing and then advised us to go to walk-in hours at the PCC. During walk-in hours, students can have their resumes reviewed by a peer advisor who will be sure to provide them with tips to improve their resume.

To actually find internships, A’Hearn showed us the Expo website on the PCC’s webpage. This site is used to find jobs and internships with companies who are affiliated with the University of Iowa. The easiest ways to look for jobs is to first log-in, then click on the Jobs button, then Search. A’Hearn said to use the “Major Seeking” button which allows for a wider search of jobs within your major that you may have never considered before. Also, for the “Type” you should select Internships. Then click “Search” and a whole skew of internships appear on the page. Expo also has you upload your resume to the site, so if you do find an internship that interests you, all you have to do is click Apply and your resume is already there. I should mention that Expo does have a one-time fee of $32, but that you can use the site all through college and even after.

Also, on the Expo site is a tab labeled ICE-NET, which is an awesome tool! It has alumni from the University of Iowa who put their job information on the website and then you can look them up and ask them about their current jobs. This is a great tool because it allows you to have an informational interview which is when you get to ask people about their job and find out how they got there. Also, the PCC has a whole page on how to go about have an informational interview, A’Hearn stressed that this was a good way to get to know what a specific job was actually like.

The final piece of advice from A’Hearn was that everyone should start a LinkedIn account! This is like Facebook for big people, the real deal. This is a site where you can upload your resume and talk about all the things you are great at (what could be better!). Just make sure your LinkedIn page is professional!

Hope this helps & Best of luck!

Melissa Rasper—Historian/Alumni Relations

A summer in Italy

This past summer I spent three months in Naples, Italy working with the Camp Adventure Youth Services program. I was able to provide military families with an amazing opportunity for their children, while living in a beautiful location. This program not only offers an amazing trip, but the opportunity to obtain credit hours toward your education.

With the program I spent my days working with children ages 11-13. This was a very unique experience for me as I have never really had such hands-on experience with this age group. We provided a fun environment so the children could unwind and escape from the realities of everyday life. Since they come from military families, the stresses of life can be a little bit more demanding than your typical child.

Aside from the work I did with Camp Adventure, I was able to travel all over Italy. I went to Rome, Venice, Florence, Capri Island and many other breathtaking locations. This was an opportunity I would have never been given if I didn’t get involved with this program.

I truly can’t stress enough how this abroad experience has helped with my growth as an individual as well as my growth as a professional. I think that going abroad is something that every student should participate in, whether it be studying abroad, participating in a program like Camp Adventure, or even taking a vacation. The experiences that you have while in a new culture is something that will stay with you for life.

So I encourage you, as someone with the experience to take any opportunity given to you, because in the end it could be a great chapter in your life!

By Megan McIntyre, Vice President