Author Archives: Rachel McLean

#PRSSANC Fashion Tips

5 Clothing Items to Help You Survive Boston Weather When You Visit for #PRSSANC

The PRSSA 2017 National Conference is just around the corner, and the Boston University Chapter is so excited to be hosting. Looking ahead at the forecast, we realized that some visiting Chapters may not be prepared for our cooler climate, so if you’re looking for some packing advice for the National Conference, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some ideas of must-pack clothing items when visiting and exploring Boston:


  1. Layers Layers Layers

October in Boston can be chilly or it can be warm. The best way to be prepared is to layer up, so you’re able to add or remove layers as you go from outside to inside and room to room in the hotel. Some of my favorite layering items would include cardigans, scarfs and light jackets.


  1. Boots (Preferably Waterproof)

Fall boots such as heeled booties, dress boots or desert boots can be a great addition to your look for the Conference to keep you confident while networking at the Career Development Exhibition, but they will also keep you warm and prepared to go outside if the weather is drizzly.


  1. A Raincoat

The forecast for Oct. 6-10 is already predicting a light rain for at least one of the days, but Boston weather in autumn is unpredictable, so come prepared with rain gear no matter what the forecast predicts. I would definitely recommend a raincoat versus an umbrella because Boston can be fairly windy, and the wind tends to turn umbrellas inside out.


  1. A Large Tote or Backpack

You need someplace to store all your layers if you remove them, right? But seriously, as you’re exploring the city, especially in the fall, it’s best to bring a bag with you to carry water, if it gets hot, and a raincoat or extra layer, if the weather takes a cooler turn.


  1. Warm Socks or Stockings/Tights

You will want to look your best for all of the sessions planned for the National Conference, but you will also want to make sure you’re prepared to stay warm. Adding tights, stockings or fun, warm socks to your Conference look will keep you looking fresh and feeling toasty.


Why Everyone Should Join PRSSA

I originally joined PRSSA because it “helps students interested in public relations and communications enhance their education, broaden their networks and launch their careers in PR” (straight from the PRSSA website). This is true. There is a lot to gain as a member of PRSSA, but its more than just enhancing your education.

Here is a breakdown of why I think everyone should be joining PRSSA.

  1. Alright, the obvious one: you learn A LOT about PR and the communication industry. You talk about different professions, listen to awesome guest speakers, and take part in real-world exercises to help you figure out if PR is for you and where in the world of PR you fit. Even if you aren’t a PR major, you can still learn useful skills for communicating in a professional environment and learn about the kind of people you could be working with in the future.
  2. You make all the connections. Part of PRSSA is bringing in guest speakers to talk about the industry. Lucky for us, the people coming in to talk about the industry are usually currently working in the industry. These guest speakers are the perfect opportunity for you to practice your networking skills and find opportunities for internships and employment.
  3. You build your resume. You can add PRSSA to your resume! It’s a great way to show future employers that you’re serious about the industry and have taken the extra step to learn more. Many chapters (like ours) also have opportunities for you to build your resume in other ways like writing for the chapter blog, doing client work in a student agency, or participating on the executive board.
  4. You have access to all of PRSSA’s online resources. PRSSA offers its members this whole online resource for you to find internships, scholarships, events, and even catch up on news. They also send out a news letter to active members with updates in the industry.
  5. You meet amazing people. I knew coming into PRSSA that I would meet professionals, but I had no idea I would meet friends. The people in PRSSA are some of the most open and friendly you will ever meet. You will find common ground with other young professionals by sharing similar ambitions, and you will find a diverse group of people willing to share their passions beyond PR. Most importantly, though, you will find people willing to be your friend. Networking and having connections are awesome, but it’s even better when you can get to know people on a personal level.

So go out and join PRSSA! It provides great experiences and, trust me, it’ll be worth it.

The Power of the Hashtag

This may seem like common sense to some, but I recently discovered the power of the hashtag. I used to be somewhat skeptical about the hashtag. To me, it seemed like an unnecessary use of characters. You put # then a word to emphasize or reiterate what you already said in the copy of the post, and that seemed like too much.

After all, we learn in Public Relations, or really in any communication with the public, that we need to be concise and too the point. Only use as many characters as needed to get your message across.

I always got overwhelmed with the bombardment of hashtags some people would put on their posts, so I figured I would save others the onslaught and leave my posts simple and untagged. Well, that is, until recently.

I started a blog about a month ago. It was for personal use and to share with family and friends. My only follower was my mom, so yeah, it was a small blog.

On one of my more recent posts, I realized there was the option to tag your posts with keywords. I thought Why not? and put a few #keywords along with my post.

The next day, I checked my email, and I had a bunch of notifications from the blog site. People had found my post! They were interacting with it! I had likes, comments, and new followers. People searched the hashtags, stumbled upon my post, and actually liked what I was writing!

Since then, I’ve become a bit of a hashtag fanatic. Even tagging your post with one or two words can help increase visibility and make your messages more trackable. Don’t believe me? Try hashtagging one of your posts and see what happens! Or check out Tagboard or Hashtagify and search some hashtags you see trending on twitter.

We live in an age where there are thousands of people sending messages out into the digital world. Why not make yours a little easier to find by adding a few more characters including that little # above the 3 on your keyboard.

Inbound Marketing: What’s it About?

The first time I encountered the term “Inbound Marketing,” I was interning for a combo marketing/PR team that was looking to draw in customers. At this time, I was a little unsure of whether it was a PR or marketing tool (or both!), but I tried to pay attention to how they intended to use it.

The second time I heard about inbound, I was in the introductory meeting for our chapter of PRSSA, and, though it was mentioned shortly, I still took notice.

Then, in my Principles and Practices of PR class, inbound marketing came up again. The third time was the charm for me, and I decided to look into it more and to learn how inbound could benefit PR professionals.

So what is this “inbound marketing” thing? Inbound marketing is when you draw your audience in and get them to voluntarily provide you with information, so you can better tailor your campaign to them.

For example, you’re on a website for a clothing store, and you provide your email to receive newsletters on seasonal trends. By voluntarily giving the clothing company this information about yourself, they can then tailor the content they send you using various inbound tactics beginning with receiving your email address. Inbound marketing helps the company ensure they’re sending you relevant and more personal content. In other words, it’s an attempt to make marketing tactics less “spammy.”

How does this apply to PR professionals? Rachel Sprung, a member of the Customer Demand Team for Hubspot (a company full of inbound marketing masterminds), suggests that inbound marketing could help PR professionals think outside the box.

“When they are creating PR campaigns, they need to think of what would be the most relevant and helpful to their audience,” Sprung says. “The way the world learns about new companies has changed, and inbound marketing is the solution for marketers [and PR professionals] to continue to effectively do their jobs.”

So it’s not just for marketers! Inbound offers a whole new mode of communicating with publics and driving campaigns. Maybe inbound marketing is the tool we need to effectively target our audiences in this age of new media. I’m definitely excited to see how it evolves and how PR professionals can take advantage of this new technique.

The Benefits of Research as a PR Professional

When people think “Public Relations,” that thought may not often be followed by “Research,” but research is actually a large part of public relations. When you think about it, it makes sense. PR is about shaping perceptions, and research can help you learn more about the impact of your organization.

Research at all points of a campaign is valuable. There are so many benefits including defining audiences, preventing crises, remaining up to date, and measuring your success. There are also countless resources available to us for secondary research (research using existing information and data), such as the internet, news releases, and all forms of media we can get our hands on, but we do have the option of conducting our own research.

Before you compose a campaign for your organization, you have to develop a baseline. This gives you an idea of how your client is perceived before the campaign is put into action. Here’s an example: you’re organization is a dairy distributor and your target audience is families. To develop your baseline, you may look into your current customers and see how and why they consume your products. Additionally, you may look at those who don’t choose your products or who buy less often and figure out what impacts their behavior. Following the launch, you need to monitor your publics and the impact on their beliefs about your organization during the campaign. This helps you adjust your plans and make your company palatable. With the dairy example, you may analyze families’ responses to your content and update anything that seems like a flop. Following the campaign, you must evaluate how successful your it was, so that you know how to best enact change in the future. If you’re selling dairy products, the easiest way to do this would be seeing how much product was sold to families; you could also analyze consumers responsiveness and engagement to determine how successful your campaign was.

A PR professional is expected to know the ins and outs of his or her organization. You must be knowledgeable of your client, any current or future problems, and your client’s audiences and how to target them. All of that knowledge is bettered by research, so if you can’t find what you need from a secondary source, don’t be afraid to conduct your own investigation and develop your own data.

This can be done in a number of different ways. Some are less involved, like ethnographic observation. Ethnography is a type  of research where the observer situates himself or herself into a naturally functioning environment and takes note of the patterns that occur. To continue with the earlier example, if you were representing a dairy company targeting families, you may go to a grocery store where your ideal consumer would shop and observe the type of dairy products they purchase and how they interact with them. This type of research can be easily and informally conducted by a PR Professional who just wants to learn a bit more about his or her organization’s publics. It is also ideal because your subjects are unaware they are being observed, so they behave more organically.

Another option is to conduct interviews to form a better campaign. The tactic of interviewing provides many options for a PR professional. You have the option of structured, semi-structured, unstructured, or group interviews. The varying ways you can interview allows for more flexibility in formality, so you can still take the initiative to learn more about your public even if it is not specifically required. This can result in rich data where you can get the exact opinions people have about your organization. You can also conduct interviews at any or each point in a campaign, so this strategy can be used to find your baseline, midpoint, and final evaluative data.

There are more than a few ways to conduct research and it can be so beneficial for your campaigns. Plus, it doesn’t have to be hard to do because there is flexibility as a PR professional. Take the time to learn more about your organization; whether that be by going out and interviewing people on the street or sitting in your cafeteria and observing how people interact within the company. Happy researching!