A nearby conversation caught my attention during a recent subway ride. Three gents were talking about starting their freshman years of college. My initial thought was, “Lucky.” After that, I got to thinking about how I was feeling at their age about my upcoming new life chapter.
Don’t take anything for granted. People say your time at college will be the fastest four years of your life. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but time only gets faster when you leave the bubble that is college and enter the “real world”. Go out on a Tuesday night. Skip a class to enjoy time on the quad with friends. (But don’t make a habit of it – as a “student always” words cannot express my jealousy for not being able to go into a classroom daily. Take full advantage.) Choose courses for a reason. And then throw in some for the heck of it. Read the class assignments not because you have it, but because you can see how it will benefit you.
Leave behind your comfort zone. As someone who took her sweet time adjusting to life at college, I urge you to jump in without any reservations. College is the most ideal time to work really hard, play really hard (sorry parents) and fail more times than you’d like to count. You have your entire life ahead to be a professional – now’s the time to try, fail and give that whole trying thing another go.
Contribute to the community. Donate to a cause. Host a fundraiser. Chalk the quad. Join a club. Start a club if they don’t have what you’re looking for. Introduce yourself to someone new in class. Write an opinion piece for the daily newspaper. Run for student office. Do something to get involved.
Take road trips. Visiting my friends on their campuses created memories that we still laugh about to this day. Make sure some of those trips bring you home to Mom and Dad. Aside from the perks like free laundry and home-cooked meals, you will find that your conversations with M&D have reached a new level. You’ll appreciate them even more and your relationship will only improve with age.
Create a loose life plan. There will be plenty of time for tailgates and nights out, but it is important to remember that college is not forever (sad, right?) and you will need to land a job one day. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do when you grow up – I certainly didn’t at your age. Internships, job shadows and informational interviews will offer you great insights into the working world. Instead of focusing on the title/department, I looked for companies I thought I would look forward to going to every day…knowing that the workload would inevitably interest me.
To the college kids, what questions do you have? To everyone else, what did I miss?
Stephanie Florence is a 20-something who can talk to a brick wall and dance to a kazoo. She contributes to the 40:20 Vision as the Millennial Editor and on every day that ends in “y” you can find Stephanie meeting people, telling exceedingly long stories and taking the approach of a student…always. Find her dancing around New York City in her personalized Chuck Taylors, complete with her Twitter handle: @StephanieFlo.
When you hear the words “Twitter Powerhouse,” you may think of a brand like Mercedes Benz or Starbucks. But, you’d be wrong. The Twitter Powerhouse we are referring to is Stephanie Wonderlin. Not only is Stephanie a passionate user of Twitter (@swonderlin), Facebook, and Instagram, she is also one of the savviest people on YouTube. Whether it is TweetheartTV, being a social media corespondent, or working on her own new segments, titled “It’s a SWonderful Life,” Stephanie has proven time and time again that not only is she one of the most talented people on social, she’s also one of the kindest.
In this edition of The JourneyCast Podcast, I talk with Stephanie about her career, so far, how she has had to adjust her brand, what “lean in” means to her, and how she balances her busy home and work life.
You can find all of Stephanie’s links by going to her website.
Subscribe to The JourneyCast Podcast and don’t miss an episode. We’re listed on iTunes, so you can listen in the car, while you’re working, or even working out!
“‘I am Iron Man”. You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” – Nick Fury, Iron Man
The above quote by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in the first Iron Man film was very prophetic. In fact, it actually set into motion a series of monumental successes for Marvel Studios. When Iron Man pulled in $98.6 million on its opening weekend, it not only guaranteed a second Iron Man movie, it put the wheels into motion for the greater Marvel movie Universe. Box office hits since Iron Man? “The Incredible Hulk,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor,” “Iron Man 2,” and 2012′s “The Avengers” has marketers excited and movie goers giddy for the follow-ups.
The first Iron Man’s worldwide success, rocketed not only Marvel’s brand back into the stratosphere, it put Robert Downey, Jr. back in the limelight, too. Marvel (and director Jon Favreau) took a very big risk with Downey, who was coming off a pretty rocky few years. Now, when you think Robert Downey, Jr., you think Tony Stark. Downey and Marvel aren’t too unhappy with that fact.. and that’s not bad thing for a brand.
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.- Marvel decided to take one of their more popular “Phase One” characters, Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and create a show around he and his team. The buzz heading into the pilot episode was outstanding. In it’s first week, S.H.I.E.L.D. delivered 11.9 million viewers . That made it TV’s highest-rated drama debut in nearly four years. Ratings have been up and down, but that hasn’t deterred the folks at Marvel, who really understand their core audience.
- The Disney acquisition- While not necessarily something Marvel did right as a brand, it has only helped to enhance its image worldwide. Disney has been able to target males that they weren’t able to before. Now, Iron Man will become the first Marvel character to have a themed ride at Disneyland in Hong Kong.
- Tom Hiddleston- While his name might not have rung a bell a few years ago to many, his portrayal of the mischievous Loki in the first Thor film, and subsequently the Avengers, had fanboys and girls repeating his lines and swooning. There were even some that felt Loki stole the show in the Avengers. Then, there was his epic appearance (in character) at 2013′s San Diego Comic Con. It’s a perfect example of enhancing your brand through a great supporting cast.
- Digital- During 2012′s SXSW, Marvel #1 offered over 700 comics for free. It worked so well that it crashed the site. This year, Marvel was back and made sure they upped their game with big additions to Marvel Unlimited. The features appealed to longtime fans, as well as Marvel newbies, something that helps to continue to spread Marvel’s brand.
In the last five months, Marvel has seen Thor: The Dark World rake in over $206 million at the box office and now Captain America: The Winter Soldier is setting records. As of April 21, it has been number one for three straight weeks, adding over $200 million (and counting) to Marvel Studios’ coffers.
Marvel’s brand is as shiny as Captain America’s shield. That’s something Stan Lee would say “Excelsior” to!
A few weeks ago, I was absolutely thrilled to visit the campus of Illinois State University and it’s nationally recognized PRSSA chapter. The visit was part of “March Brandness,” an extension of my CEO of You talks I’ve held via Skype and at various conferences.
This talk wasn’t something that was thrown together by ISU PRSSA, it was months in planning. It started back in December of 2013, when Hailey Lanier reached out, followed by Marrison Worthington, the chapter’s president and vice president, respectfully. After Skyping in to a chapter meeting (and getting jealous about the Jimmy John’s they were eating), I was able to see why they have been recognized as an award-winning group. When it was finally time for my visit, I was treated to, frankly, some of the more professional students and future pros I’ve ever met.
Here are three things I, ultimately, learned from my visit and being a Redbird for a day.
Proper Planning- From the moment I gave the thumbs up to visiting the campus, ISU PRSSA shared ideas on promoting the talk via email, Skype, and phone conversations. Planning is a key component of any successful event. If you haven’t planned for every possible contingency, something will go wrong. In this case, chapter leadership thought of everything. From transportation to campus visits, ISU PRSSA even gave me an itinerary of what the day would look like from the minute I landed to the day I left.
The Value of Mentors- One my first stops on campus was Fell Hall (the mecca of ISU’s Communications program). It was there I was introduced to, among others, Dr. Pete Smudde and Tom Lamonica. After talking to both gentlemen, I realized why the students held them in such high regard. They have taken a vested interest in the education and development of these students. They have helped to shape the future careers of many of the chapter members. Both also stressed the importance of the March Brandness event. Every student needs a mentor to give them support, honesty, and advice when necessary.
Show Off Your Surroundings- When I landed, I was greeted by Marrison and Hailey at the airport. Both ladies gave me the lowdown on Normal, Ill., including what businesses were based there, as well as a great understanding of the ISU campus. I was given a great tour by both ladies and then was joined by Ali Seys, who discussed the unique food truck, Two Blokes and a Bus. From there I was treated to lunch at the Pub II’s, with its outstanding cheese balls (and members of the e-board) and Sugar Mama Bakery’s delicious cupcakes. I felt as if I had been to campus and surrounding Normal before, thanks to how well the group educated me and helped me understand this great area. It also proved to me that working and living in a town or city is more than just saying, “I live in XX.” You should know as much as possible about your surroundings. It could come in very handy.
Ultimately, this trip also proved to me how outstanding PRSSA is. I’ve spoken to many chapters and students over the years; I have never, ever been disappointed in the passion, drive, and dedication each of these student show. Case in point, on April 9, it was announced that Illinois State’s PRSSA chapter was awarded a Pacersetter for the month of March 2014 from PRSSA National because of how well March Brandness went. I could not be more proud to have been part of such a great event with great people.
Big thanks also go to Ryan Smart, Melissa Fortes, Abby Brennan, Shelby Ray, and the many other great members that made this trip so memorable!
Learn more about Illinois State’s PRSSA Chapter by checking out their website.
[Jas' note: I'm happy to welcome Samantha Dickson to the blog with a timely guest post.]
A quick glance at the headlines of any newspaper will tell a company that they should always expect the unexpected. Yet still, companies fail to realize the importance of preparation. I’m referring specifically to crisis management.
As PR professionals, we recognize our role within a company. We also see the value of our position when we are prepared for a crisis before it even strikes. So what happens when this forward thinking isn’t present? Negative brand reputation, drops in stock price, and loss of investor trust, just to name a few.
With such negative impacts on a company, it’s hard to imagine that some CEOs will still assume “Oh, that will never happen.” Sadly, it can, it will and when it does, you better be prepared. This is where the public relations role, and corporate communication position is of extreme value within a company.
Outline company threats.
In order to be prepared, a company needs to begin to analyze potential areas where a threat could arise. It is extremely important to understand your industry and what could be a problem for your company or client.
Taking the threats that you’ve outlined above, the next stage would be to strategically plan how to deal with the crisis. This might include identifying your stakeholders, potential solutions, and how to work on brand recovery once the peak of the crisis is over.
Develop pre-crisis communication material.
It is imperative to have audience messages and material ready to be disseminated. If you can identify a large threat that will impact your company or client, develop some material that can be tweaked should the crisis occur. It is better to have something prepared than nothing at all. This might be the shell of a press release, a prepared tweet if it’s social media related, or a letter from the CEO. If you have this material in advance, you’re able to act more quickly in the moment of the crisis.
The brands that are able to recover from a crisis are the ones that have a plan in place. The key takeaway is to do your research. If a crisis does occur, take the time to do a post-analysis on implementation and effectiveness. It is important to see what worked, what didn’t and ways to improve in the future.
Samantha Dickson recently graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, ON with a B.A. in Political Science. She is currently a graduate student at New York University in Public Relations and Corporate Communication. In her spare time, Samantha writes for her blog One Heel Ahead, provides freelance communication services and loves to travel.