My Favorite Reads

Photo is my own.

It’s undeniable that writing is one of the most — if not the most — important skill of a public relations professional. He or she must be able to convey a concise and grammatically correct message to the intended audience. One of the strongest foundations for excellent writing skills is, of course, reading. Well-written pieces give the reader examples of effective syntax and proper grammar.

For that reason, I want to just a few of my favorite reads with you (and even my favorite speaker, too). As an introvert, I’ve always found that there is much to be learned through careful and thoughtful observation.

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones employs a simple, whimsical writing style that mirrors its story – a fictional tale of a woman who, cursed by a witch, becomes old and stumbles across the moving castle of a young wizard. Although the book’s intended audience is much younger, I still find it to be a great read in my 20s.
  2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan employs an excellent use of syntax to reflect the emotional states of its two principal characters. The more “normal” character’s chapters feature proper grammar and capitalization, while the other, who suffers from more than normal teenage angst and depression, is portrayed with no capitalization and little punctuation to reflect his characterization.
  3. “Unbuttoning My Boy Shirt” by Joy Young is an excellent use of language in spoken word poetry. It makes use of fantastic metaphors and rhythm to create a truly exceptional piece of writing. You can listen to the poem here.

You might say that the professional writing used in public relations scenarios is completely different from fiction novels. However, fiction still provides an opportunity to show the power and nuances in language. For me, it’s a satisfying challenge to try to use both types of writing effectively. However, it all comes down to the purpose for the writing itself — am I trying to make someone laugh with a funny story, or am I writing social media content for my internship? The purpose of the writing should determine your style, but I still find that my love for fiction novels and the thousands of pages I read for my high school English classes has made me a better writer today all around. I think this quote by Ben Jonson puts it best, “For a man to write well, there are required three necessaries: to read the best authors, observe the best speakers, and much exercise of his own style.”

My Favorite Beauty Influencers

Photo Credit: Idhren Flickr via Compfight cc

It’s no secret that YouTube and Instagram influencers have become powerful forces in the makeup and skincare industry in the past few years. They frequently receive “PR packages” of new products from brands in the hopes that an influencer will give a positive review of the product on their platform. With the most popular influencers holding more than 7,00,000 subscribers (names like NikkiTutorials, Huda Beauty, and Zoella stand out), they have the power to make products sell out by their rave reviews. Not only are these influencers highly skilled at makeup, but they must be able to create strong video and photo content for their pages. Many brands even collaborate with influencers to create new products due to the selling power of their platforms.

Because my favorite influencers combine my love for social media and makeup, I thought I would share my top three with you today.

  1. Thataayla. I first stumbled across Taylor’s YouTube foundation reviews in the search for someone with oily, acne-prone skin like mine. Since that time, over a year ago, I have seen every one of her new videos. Taylor also has a career in marketing, so, even though she has the fewest subscribers of everyone else on this list, she has really made a brand for herself that focuses on transparent product reviews and being confident with acne.
  2. Jackie Aina. Jackie Aina’s content is centered around high-quality cosmetics with a focus on brands that are dark-skin friendly. I particularly love her content for not being afraid to be honest with her thoughts on brands that don’t have enough shades for women (and men!) with deeper skin tones. Even makeup could use to be more inclusive!
  3. Emilynoel83. I’ve been watching Emily’s content since the seventh grade, when I fell in love with her rave reviews that were for products in my drugstore budget. Even eight years  and 1,357 videos later, Emily still is creating wonderful product reviews, and she continues to impress me with her innovative video ideas, such as her latest “CHRISTMAS IN JULY | 5 Looks, 5 Rediscovered Holiday Palettes” to inspire viewers to dig out those old Holiday products they haven’t used in months.

I hope someone else may be able to find a new favorite influencer from this list. I would recommend these women to anyone looking to improve their makeup skills or get new product recommendations.

Fundraising for Karen House, St. Louis

As a communications student at my university, one of the class options available is Small Group Communications. I enrolled in the course for elective credit, assuming it would be like most of the other communications classes I’d taken during my previous three semesters at SIUE. However, one element of the class that was not like the others was the Inevitable Group Project. Our professor called it a service learning project, and our assignment was to get into groups based on a charitable organization we’d like to support and raise funds or products which we would donate upon completion of the project.

After some research, I presented to my class Karen House, a shelter in St. Louis that provides housing for homeless women and children. What set Karen House apart for me was its commitment to being an accepting and inclusive home for people of all races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and religions. You can read more about Karen House and its purpose at its website.

Four other students had chosen to work with Karen House. I was excited that others wanted to work with an organization that I supported, but nervous because I didn’t know any of them and didn’t know if we would work well together. We came up with a plan to raise clothes, hygiene products, and money for the organization.

Fast forward a few weeks and we were still short on our goals from donation boxes and bake sales. Putting our hope into our final event, a Wal-Mart donation day, we designed a poster to attach to the front of a shopping cart and mentally readied ourselves to not receive any donations.

By the end of the three hour time period, though, we were amazed. We had raised over 600 hygiene items just from the generosity of other shoppers. We all left that day with just a bit more faith in humanity than we had started with. Furthermore, we had collected more than 500 clothing items from the donation boxes set up in residence halls in just the final two weeks, and from a combination of the bake sales and others just donating their spare change, we raised over $200 to donate to Karen House.

Only half of the items we raised on our Wal-Mart donation day. Lots of toothbrushes and toothpaste! [Photo is my own]
The best part, however, was being able to walk into Karen House at the end of the semester to deliver everything we had collected. Just being able to meet some of the people we had helped made a rather stressful semester worth all the worry and all the effort we put in to pull it off.

Even though everyone (myself included!) might groan just a bit when the next group project begins, this experience reminded me that working together is often more powerful than working alone.

Why Quidditch is the PR Major’s Perfect Sport

Hi everyone!

Image is my own.

In September of 2016, I joined my university’s Quidditch club upon the encouragement of a mutual friend. My first few practices were mostly made up of a lot of “What on Earth?”s as I tried to match 40 new names to faces and understand the rules for a sport that was unlike anything I’d ever done before. Once I had gotten the hang of everything, SIUE Quidditch suddenly had become the coolest team I’d ever been a part of.

I had kindled my interest in Public Relations not long after joining PRSSA the previous year. Two years later, I am facing my first semester as PRSSA chapter President, and everything I’ve learned so far has only made me think about the similarities between Public Relations and Quidditch. Here are my top three:

  1. Multitasking. If my internship with C. Green & Associates in Edwardsville taught me one thing, it’s that a Public Relations professional has to be able to give attention to multiple projects at once. Clients won’t line up to wait their turn; rather, you must be willing to meet the deadlines they set. When you think about it, Quidditch is the same. Players often describe it as three games going on at once: Quaffle play, Bludger play, and Seeker play. Experienced players will be able to keep their eyes on all aspects of the game at the same time.
  2. Networking. Not only will you forge friendships with your teammates, but joining Quidditch offers the opportunity to travel to tournaments across the country where you can meet other players, share tips and strategies, and have fun. Doesn’t this sound like a PRSSA meeting to anyone else?
  3. Imagination. Every single day, Public Relations professionals must put on their thinking caps to create campaigns, write press releases that will build their client’s reputation, or post engaging social media content. Quidditch players do the same every time they step onto the pitch as they organize strategy to play a sport that is based on magical fiction.

If you’re a Chaser who has yet to declare a college major, why not drop into a PRSSA meeting or take an Intro to Public Relations course? Or, if you and Public Relations already have a good thing going, take a look at your university’s club sports offerings or find a community team near you by visiting the US Quidditch Teams page.

See you next week,
Hannah