4 STEPS TO SECURING YOURSELF A NETWORK

Image credit: Shutterstock

By Brailyn Hardy

In a world where we are constantly connecting via social media, face-to-face networking can sometimes fall to the wayside. It’s easy to put off and even easier to do when hiding behind a computer screen but there are so many benefits to breaking out of your shell and attending that networking opportunity you have been dreading. Face-to-face networking showcases that sparkling personality you have, builds more meaningful relationships and allows you to cover more ground in a shorter period of time without a chain of email threads. 

Step 1. Have a go-to: Before you enter any potential networking environment take a few minutes and come up with a conversation starter or question. I try to read up on current events before heading into the danger zone so I am prepared to participate in a conversation if someone brings up a trending topic. 

A few of my other favorite questions depending on the situation are: 

  • How long have you been in Birmingham and what brought you here?
  • What do you do?
  • What brought you to this event tonight?

Step 2. Break out of your comfort zone: Regardless if  you know 1 or 100 people in the room, I try to treat every networking situation the same. Always greet previous connections first to maintain that relationship you worked so hard to establish then try to build on it by having them introduce you to people they know. In a situation where you don’t know a soul? Take a deep breath and smile. This friendly expression says your approachable and interested in meeting new people then approach a group and use the skills you learned in step one. 

Step 3. Actually listen: Sometimes I get so caught up in focusing on what to talk about next I forget to ACTUALLY listen to what someone is saying about themselves. Asking questions and nodding here and there helps you stay alert and shows you are actively interested in what they are saying. Try to avoid those repetitive nervous gestures like fixing your hair, jewelry or clothing and a huge no to my worst habit - picking at my nails. It makes me (or you) seem uninterested in the current conversation.

Step 4. Following up: Because I know you asked your new connection for a business card, follow up with them relatively quickly. I tend to make the first move simply by following them on social media or connecting with them on LinkedIn. If you do go as far as emailing them, make sure you mention where you met and mention the topic of your conversation. Remember it’s not an either-or when choosing networking online or face-to-face. It is both. 

KC PROJECTS PR SPRING INTERNSHIP

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KC Projects PR is looking for PR interns to start for the upcoming season. We are looking for candidates who are extremely organized, motivated, and hard-working. Candidates must have great interpersonal and phone skills, be able to adapt to a fast paced working environment. We appreciate a passion for presentation, social media and creativity. You should have a college-level understanding of communications and the desire to learn more about the PR industry. Knowledge of Word and Excel are required.

Roles and responsibilities include, but are not limited to: 

  • Assisting with general daily administrative duties

  • Relationship building and networking with colleagues, clients, and the media

  • Working as part of an account team to implement media plans

  • Creating media lists

  • Researching and writing press releases

  • Tracking print, broadcast, and new media for ideas and coverage

  • Assisting in the strategic development of PR plans for all clients

  • Preparing press kits, which include bios, fact sheets, menus, recipes, press clips, and photos

  • Updating press kits as necessary, tracking and creating clips

  • Working with images, including reducing size, cropping, and lightening

  • Scanning and archiving editorial placements

*Needed 2 to 3 days per week. Hours are flexible; however, interns must be available a minimum of 15 hours per week. Internship is unpaid.

Please send resume &  witing samples to: LaceyRae@kcprojects.net

PITCH PERFECT

By Samantha Jarman, PR Executive

One of, if not the most important components of public relations is pitching. A media pitch is the letter, usually in the form of an email, to an editor or journalist outlining a story or piece of news that you think they will be interested in covering. Pitching your news or story to the media takes a lot of practice, thought, and attention to detail. Identified below are the four basic steps public relations professionals should follow when pitching the media.
 

Research is a very important part of pitching the media and probably to most time consuming. It is important to not only research and identify the publications that your news or story could be a fit for but also the specific person you would like to send your pitch to. Read the latest articles that this person has written and look up their social media profiles to see what they are interested in. It is always good to have an idea of who the person is with the ultimate goal of developing a relationship with them.
 

Draft. The actual pitch copy should not be longer than two to three short paragraphs. Always start with a hook sentence, this is where you can incorporate a personal fact or comment about an article you read or something interesting you learned in your research. The remainder of the pitch should be direct and to the point, with the main facts first. You do not want to tell the whole story but make sure to identify to the editor or journalist why your news or story is a fit for their publication. The last and a very important part of drafting your pitch is developing the subject line. The subject line is the initial hook that will hopefully entice the recipient to open and read your pitch. Don’t be longwinded with your subject line, be direct and concise.  


Send. Finally sending the pitch sounds like the easy part but there are three important factors to think about before hitting the send icon: reviewing, formatting, and timing. Make sure to have coworkers or peers review your pitch for any grammatical errors, attachment issues, or links that aren’t working. Format your pitch so that the email is clean and the content flows easily for readers. Plan to send your pitch at a time where you think the recipient will be available to read it. This means not sending on the weekend, after business hours, or early on a Monday.  


Follow Up. Simply following the steps to media pitching does not guarantee that you will receive a reply. When you do not hear anything back from the editor or journalist you sent the pitch to it is best to follow up after two to three days, depending on the timeliness of your news or story. Editors and journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day but there is always a chance the recipient did not receive your pitch, accidently deleted it, or simply forgot to go back to it. It is best to send a short follow up email simply letting the editor or journalist know that you want to make sure they received your email.


Media pitching involves a lot of patience and can often seem like a lot of wasted time when you do not hear back. When you do have a pitch that gets picked up and you are able to see your hard work published, you will see that the reward is worth the effort. 

KC PROJECTS WELCOMES NEW TEAM MEMBER, LIZ RODELL

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LIZ RODELL, COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST

As Public Relations & Communication Specialist for KC Projects, Liz Rodell strives to learn the client’s story and communicate it an innovative way that amplifies the client’s strengths and vision. With her thirst for a challenge, Liz approaches the clients’ needs with a creative perspective and strategic mind that allows for maximum results.

Liz is a Toronto native who graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Public Relations.  Her professional career led her further south to Birmingham, where she gained experience in communicating the story for retail brands, restaurants and nonprofits. This exposure allows her to tailor a public relations strategy for each client, combining traditional public relations tactics with new media.

When Liz isn’t working, she can be found nurturing relationships and exploring the city. She currently leads a small group through Church of Highlands and is always eager to try Birmingham’s thriving culinary scene. Liz’s affection for chocolate never fails to help her enjoy a good workout. Ultimately, her love for people and thirst for ingenuity inspires her to produce fruitful results and strong connections. 

 

MEET OUR KC PROJECTS FALL 2017 INTERNS!

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KC Projects welcomes new interns to our team every semester. This fall, we’re fortunate and excited to be working with three go-getters who have an eye for detail and a passion for public relations. Meet Caleb Carden, Amanda Smith, and Tamara Green!

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Caleb Carden

Tell us about yourself: I’m from Hueytown, Alabama; born and raised right here in the Birmingham area. I graduated from Auburn University with a B.A. in Public Relations in May 2017. I love traveling and exploring new things. I’m obsessed with all things Disney. I love coffee, pop music, and long walks down Main Street, U.S.A. My hobbies include binge-watching Netflix, Food Network or HGTV, and live-tweeting award shows.

Why KC Projects? I hope to learn specifically what it’s like to work in a firm/agency setting. While I do have previous PR experience, my only client was the company that I worked for. I’m excited to learn what it’s like to manage multiple clients and serve their needs accordingly.

If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be? I would want to meet Taylor Swift. I’ve been obsessed with her for years. I’ve always found her lyrics to be beautifully crafted while also remaining incredibly relatable. Throughout her career, she’s remained graceful and has always stayed connected to her fans.

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Amanda Smith

Tell us about yourself: I graduated from the University of Alabama in May 2016 with a degree in Public Relations.  I have decided to make my home in the thriving city of Birmingham, Ala. with my fiancé who was born and raised here.  I am getting married in December so wedding planning has taken up a huge part of my life right now.   I love hiking, traveling, discovering local hangouts, and spending quality time with my friends and family.  I am ready to start defining my career and grow in my field. To do that, I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be an intern at KC Projects!  

Why KC Projects? I applied to KC Projects because I knew when I graduated college that I would fit best in a small firm atmosphere rather than a big corporate position.  I think my personality mirrors that of the fast-paced agency life. I like that some of the clients are local.  I am very interested in local business and culture, especially because Birmingham is such a unique and growing city. I am excited to learn everything I can through this internship.  I am most excited to learn the process of working with a client and the day to day tasks that it involves.

If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be? Ellen DeGeneres.  I am very inspired by her work ethic, addictive personality, and true kindness. I believe she is the most genuine celebrity and stands up for what she believes in.  I would be honored to meet her. 

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Tamara Green

Tell us about yourself: I am from a very small town known as Walnuthill, Florida. I am currently a senior at The University of Alabama pursuing a degree in Public Relations. I will graduate this upcoming December. In my free time I enjoy shopping, watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, binge watching reality shows, and spending time with family and close friends. I’m excited to be interning at KC Projects during my last semester of undergrad because it has given me an opportunity to experience what it’s like to work for an agency and manage multiple accounts.

Why KC Projects? Landing an internship at KC Projects during my last semester of college was a great accomplishment for me because I’ve pursued this company for years. I’ve followed KC projects on social media to stay updated on their client news and internship opportunities. I chose to apply here because I knew that I would have an opportunity to gain experience that would help me exceed in the PR world. The best part about this internship is that you’re actually gaining real world experience and working with clients. It’s exciting to come into the office and begin working on different assignments for those clients. Each day is different and you never know what project you’re going to be assigned next, that’s the fun part about PR. I’m looking forward to gaining more experience in all areas of PR especially Digital PR.

If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be? If I could meet one person in this lifetime, it would have to be Michelle Obama. She’s a very successful woman. She has accomplished so much during her lifetime, such as building a successful career and launching initiatives to help cultivate a healthier lifestyle. If I had the chance to meet to her, I would get advice on building my personal brand and finding ways to help others.

RESUMES: OUT WITH THE OLD IN WITH THE NEW

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By Lacey Rae Sport, PR and Community Outreach Coordinator

As a previous intern turned coordinator, I review resumes daily and surprisingly enjoy it. I’m constantly flipping through pages of accomplishments, experience, skills, and even relevant coursework. I often find myself wishing I could help the person whose resume is in front of me. I’ve also come to realize that the ‘tried and true’ template (that even I started using years ago) is on its way to being obsolete.

Why? There are now so many ways you can make your resume and thus your name stand out. From bolded words to formatting, some resumes simply pop while others are quick to be dismissed. It can be refreshing to see color amidst a white blur with black lines and bullet points. Even if I’ve seen your template a thousand times, one unique aspect can set it apart from the others.

Disclaimer: We don’t need Elle Woods’ pink scented paper. Keep it clean and find what fits for you.

Look into the PR world and you will see creatives, out-of-the-box thinkers, individuals, outgoing and dynamic personalities. All of which are unique and well organized.

Want to snag an interview in 2017? Here is what you should do, ditch, and digitize.

Do it. Organize your resume in a clear, concise format and be consistent. Guide my eye to what you want me to see. Read your resume aloud before sending. Do you use the same phrases over and over again? Is it boring? Are you listing what you were supposed to do, or what you accomplished? Use action words that highlight your skills or successes.

Trick for the newbies: when creating your resume in a word document, use the “synonyms” tool to help you avoid using one word or phrase repetitively. Better yet, let those synonyms jog your brain and help you come up with a more accurate or impressive description.

Ditch it. While some may suggest adding an objective statement, it can take up valuable space on your resume. When you apply for a position, your objectives are already clear. We know that you will provide references if requested. Including “References available upon request” is meaningless. Have those contacts readily available, but don’t worry about sending them along when you first reach out. Pictures or headshots on your resume. I don’t want to know what you look like the first time I view your resume. I’m simply looking at your potential and personality.

Go Digital. Your digital footprint is just as important as your printed resume. Use this to your advantage. LinkedIn is an incredible tool that can connect you with employers. Do so. It is also a place to list experiences, involvement, or interests you might have left off your current resume for lack of space. Keep your profiles up to date. Don’t be afraid to show off the accomplishments, milestones, or adventures you’re proud of. We like seeing those too.

Make my job easier. Hyperlink your email, website, or social media profiles that you include. Disclaimer: All your social media profiles are fair game. Middle or misspelled names do not make you invisible so be careful of what you are tagged doing.

REACH VS. IMPRESSIONS

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By Brittani Harris, Digital PR Lead

1.86 billion.

That’s how many active Facebook users there are to date.

So what does this mean for marketers? In case you had any doubts about marketing your business on Facebook, you shouldn’t. It is the largest social network by far and has been the default choice for advertisers. Any why not?! Social media has proven to be more effective than traditional media. One defining metric that defines the better option between traditional media and social media is cost per thousand impressions (CPM). The goal of any advertiser should be to reach as many relevant people as possible at the lowest cost and Facebook is the only form of media that can expose you to over 1,000 people for less than $5.

While it is the more cost effective, it isn’t always easy to navigate or read the analytics. If you have spent any time working on a social media campaign, reach and impression are two terms you are no stranger to hearing. While it is very easy to group them together, they do have their own definitions and if you want to measure the results of your social media campaigns correctly, it is important to know the difference between the two.

Reach. Simply put, REACH is the number of people who see your content. On Facebook, reach measures how your content is spread across the platform. If you work in social media, you have high hopes that every single one of your followers sees your published content or ads, but unfortunately they don’t. Reach is a measurement of your effective audience, those unique people who see your content.

Impression. In the world of social media IMPRESSION means that content was delivered to someone’s feed. The viewer doesn’t have to engage with the post in order for it to count as an impression. So, when designing your ad be sure to think of what type of “impression” your ad will make. Your first impression makes a difference and could be a determining factor in whether or not the viewer clicks on your post.

While it is natural to get excited when you see you’ve received a lot of impressions, it doesn’t necessarily mean that many people saw your ad. One person can have multiple impressions on the same piece of content.  For example, if you have 200 followers and your ad reached 200 people with 200 impressions, that means your 200 followers saw your ad. Now, say you have 200 followers and your ad reached 200 people with 400 impressions, that means every single one of your followers has seen your post twice.

If it is still confusing, think of it like this, reach is the number of people who have seen your content while impressions are the total number of times the people you’ve reached have seen your content. 

WHY PR?

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By: Krista Conlin Robinson, President / Founder

As long as I can remember I knew I would own my own business. The when, how and what wasn’t always so clear.

The public relations light turned on in my world while working towards my M.B.A. (way back when). However, it didn’t fully manifest until years later. In 2011, the inevitable came to fruition; I started KC Projects PR.

Sure, I was scared, but that fear lit a fire in me. I was confident in my abilities, thrilled for the opportunity, grateful for my supporters and excited to embrace the challenge. Once the firm was up and running, I knew owning a PR firm is what I was born to do!

Fast forward to 2017 and I am extremely proud of the accomplishments KC Projects has made, the team we have built, the relationships we cherish and the clients we represent.

Don’t get me wrong…PR isn’t easy. However, the pros outweigh the cons. It is true that PR is not for the faint of heart and yes it does typically land on the “most stressful” jobs lists. Personally, after I realized I enjoyed turning rejection into challenges, I was meant for the fast-pace, my DNA speaks PR and was a tad-bit crazy (requirement in our industry), there was no turning back. With any job there are challenges but for me there are so many more fantastic reasons to be a publicist and work in the PR field.

Here are 15 reasons why I love what we do:

1. Get to tell stories

2. Never a dull moment

3. Making an impact

4. Get to work with interesting companies, brands and people

5. Enjoy challenges

6. Seeing results

7. Team collaboration

8. Solving problems is satisfying

9. Socializing is part of the job

10. Working out your brain every day

11. Never stop learning

12. Flex creative muscles

13. Perks are real

14. We are professional stalkers and proud of it

15. PR really does matter

We have the opportunity to communicate with so many people – from media to clients and partners of companies to internally with team members and management at all levels. We become networkers to the highest level always developing out the latest “who you know” network, which can be priceless not only in business, but also in life.

Every single day in the world of PR is a workout. Seriously, our brains are ALWAYS on and we are ALWAYS connected. The profession sounds intense (and it is), but it raises me up! It keeps my mind opened and the creativity flowing. It pushes me to be better professionally and personally. It is hard work that brings great satisfaction. 

In PR, our team has the opportunity to work with some incredible individuals. They are leaders, innovators, decision makers, and entrepreneurs. They trust us with their brand. They inspire me as a business owner, they empower me as leader, and the best part of it all - I get to call these clients friends. 

At KC Projects the end goal is results but our first priority is to achieve complete trust with and for our clients. We work with the highest integrity of pushing their brand, their product, their message forward.

Doing PR for over 14 years has opened the door to great opportunities but most of all it is the interesting people that have crossed my path who inspire me most. Every day I am growing in every sense, as a publicist, as a worker, as a boss, as a business owner, as a wife, as a mother and as a person. My “who you know” network is ever-evolving. I couldn’t be more excited to where it will take me or who it will introduce me to next. This is why I chose PR or better yet PR chose me!

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A KC PROJECTS INTERN

By Daley Henson, KC Projects Summer 2017 intern

In the past two months that I’ve been interning at KC Projects PR, so many friends have asked questions about my first steps into the real world. From the sleek office vibes to the clients we work with, interning at KC Projects is just as cool as it looks. The question that I get asked most often is, “what does your typical day look like?” So here I am with details on my day-to-day activities, to give insight into why interning with KC Projects PR is unlike any other opportunity.

9 AM: To start my day, I catch up on news and see what’s trending on social media. In between sips of my first cup of coffee, it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat (usually in that order). My favorite email newsletter, The Skimm, makes it easier to keep up with the headlines.

Upon arrival to the office, I check in with our intern supervisor, Lacey Rae, and recap my completed tasks. I’ll also check out my to-do list for the day and get started. If it’s short, I make note of what others are working on and follow up to see if I can help out. There are two other amazing interns working with me, and we each have assigned clients to focus on this summer.

10:45 AM: Write, edit and repeat. Between social content, email blasts and blog posts, my keyboard gets a workout. I usually spend mornings writing or scheduling social content for my assigned clients. The feeling when that perfect caption comes to you is priceless! I often switch between multiple clients and industries, so brand voice differentiation is key.

At KC Projects, planning ahead for content is always our strategy. Every photo or video executed for clients started in a brainstorming session with plenty of caffeine or La Croix. As a long-term planner, I love creating content calendars and finding any excuse for a weird holiday. For example, Full Moon Bar-B-Que is celebrating National Hot Dog Day with their Moon Dogs!

12 PM: Time to eat! Just one of my favorite things about KC Projects is the prime location in Homewood. Local favorites like Urban Cookhouse, Real & Rosemary and Slice Pizza (one of our clients!) are all just a short drive away. I usually meet a friend for a quick lunch date.

1:30 PM: Intern Classes are when account executives at KC Projects invest in us, teaching practices or methods that we may not have experienced yet outside the classroom. These intern classes are a source of valuable wisdom, and have taught me so much about agency life already! I’m confident that the skills we’re learning (and engaging now) will carry into my career. Some of my favorite classes have focused on digital content and media pitching.

3 PM: After lunch, I finish up any morning tasks I didn’t quite get around to finishing. Then I’ll take a look at the rest of the week: are there any blog posts I need to write (hello!)? Am I on track to finish a project on time? There’s never a shortage of things to do or help out with.

5 PM: As the day starts to wind down, I usually spend my afternoon researching articles for our clients. I also check the calendar for the next few days to see if there are any upcoming events. Finally, I wrap up a few e-mails, check in with account executives and head home for the day.

This definitely isn’t the usual summer internship. You’re not running to get coffee or just watching from the sidelines. Interns are deep in content development and strategy, with major campaigns and projects to complete. There’s also no such thing as a “typical” day in the life at KC Projects, but that’s the best thing about working in a public relations agency. As Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”

PR / COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

The Public Relations / Communications Specialist will play an integral role developing, executing and evaluating strategic communication plans for traditional PR and digital PR initiatives for assigned clients.

This role is a fully proficient, seasoned specialist who can work independently but thrives in a team based environment.

Candidates should be strategic thinkers for multiple brands in the PR and Social Media space combined with managing and motivating a team. This position requires a great communicator (written and oral) across multiple platforms. This person will develop public relations opportunities for selected clients relating to new business, strategy, news and successes with the goal of promoting the client(s) to their targeted audiences with the best messaging. Did we mention STRONG written skills is a must!

Exceptional project management skills, as well as highly organized, strong communicator, client-centric, and strong attention to detail/follow-through are essential. OH YEAH, and strong writer for the win!

 Public Relations

  •  Lead daily contact / management between the agency and assigned client accounts

  • Meets and communicates with assigned clients regularly both in person and electronically including weekly status calls/meetings as appropriate. Maintains ongoing monthly status report for each assigned client.

  • Build and implement targeted editorial and PR campaigns for multiple client accounts

  •  Copywriting & Distribution: press releases, bylined articles, keynote presentation, bios, backgrounders, newsletters

  • Develop compelling narratives and tailor to engage and delight audiences

  • Drafting talking points for client speaking and presentation opportunities

  • Proactively develop and maintain relationships with media and 3rd party client-related constituencies

  • Develop and manage strategic public relations plans for multiple client accounts

  • Identify and organize client appearances

  • Serve as representative and advocate for client brands at networking and industry events associated with the client

  • Compile and analyze research data; Research top influencers, competitors, and trends in clients’ industries

Digital Media

  • Promote client news, articles, client successes and case studies

  • Communicate with client stakeholders through multiple social platforms

  • Create timely and engaging content optimized for platform used and intended audience

  • Develop and monitor social strategy for multiple clients

  •  Create engaging and professional visuals that reflect clients and their brand

  • Assist in developing paid media strategies to optimize performance on Facebook and Instagram

  • Track, analyze and report on social media metrics

Qualifications / Skills

  • 3+ years agency / public relations experience (at PR agency or in-house)

  •  Experience managing a team of PR and/or Social Media team members

  •  Proven success with PR and Social Media campaign management

  • Passion for knowledge of all things PR and understanding of social media execution

  •  Must have exceptional writing and communication skills

  • Experience in social media platforms for business (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter)

  • Ability to manage multiple projects in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment

  •  Strong presentation skills

  • Self-motivated go-getter with a positive attitude

  • Active team player with commitment to excellence and ensuring client satisfaction

  • Exhibits strong attention to detail and organization

  • Deadline-oriented and shows initiative in taking on new tasks and projects

  • Is able to seek out information and solutions to problems

  •  Experience with Cision, or another PR content marketing software a plus

  • Values align with KC Projects core values

Apply to: Krista@kcprojects.net