5 Things I’ve Learned Since Graduating College


It’s been AGES since I’ve written on my blog and for that, I apologize. Adulthood hits you hard and fast and before you know it you’re halfway across the country with your husband and child filing taxes and figuring out how to make a budget. I’m getting ahead of myself let me explain why I’m writing this.

Three months ago I graduated college. I took a gap year (for personal reasons mentioned in previous posts) so I was a bit older than most of the graduates and thought I was well prepared for “adulthood” as I’d already had a child and husband. I didn’t realize how much more there was for me to learn. With that in mind, I thought I’d pinpoint the top five things I’ve learned as a post-grad (and PR Professional) and share them in hopes of preparing other soon-to-be graduates for “adulthood”.

That feeling of “now what” after graduation is completely normal!


I already had a job lined up when I graduated so most people might have assumed I didn’t experience this but that’s completely untrue. Whether it hits you right before graduation, right after, or even months later when you’ve started your new job it’s completely normal. We’ve spent most of our lives being told to do well in high school so we can go to college. Go to college and do well so we can graduate and get jobs. Most people don’t guide us much beyond that point.

So unless you’re going to grad school, it’s a strange feeling to settle into your life after college, whether you’ve just begun your dream job, have decided to travel abroad, or are still figuring out your plans. Remember you’ve achieved a major milestone and what you do with your life is now completely up to you. That kind of freedom can be scary but it’s a good thing.

Despite how many years you spent studying your profession you will still have a lot to learn in your first job.

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I was a pretty good student my last few years of college and by the time I’d graduated I felt confident that I’d be able to glide into my new job with ease. I survived the stress of my last semester of college by reminding myself that I’d soon be in my new job and things would be a lot easier. However, once I actually began that job I quickly realized I had a lot to learn. Becoming a part of a team, learning internal processes, learning how to communicate with clients and most importantly becoming confident in my own knowledge and skills were all just the beginning (to think I thought all of this would be easier).

The beginning of your career is much like freshman year of college. You’re meeting so many people, soaking in so much knowledge and learning about yourself each and every day. You couldn’t have convinced me three months ago that three months later I’d be THIS into Fintech and listening to cryptocurrency podcasts on the train to work. You’d be surprised at just how much more there is to learn, not only about your profession but about yourself in those first few months after college. You’ll make mistakes and that’s completely ok. It’s just part of the process.

Spending time seriously thinking about your goals and things you’re passionate about will be crucial

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This was important during college but only becomes more important after graduating because now is the time to make those dreams a reality. It’s easy to talk about the things you want to do but a totally different thing to spend each day actively working toward those goals. In college, your short-term focus is passing a class so that you can get the credits you need to graduate. Once you’ve accomplished that and have taken those next steps in life, the pressure to make those goals a reality becomes more apparent.

My first few weeks in my new job I had to take time to seriously sit and consider what my passions are and where I hoped to be in a year, five years or even 10 years down the road. You might find that your passions have completely changed or that you want to take a totally different an unexpected route but it’s important to at least sit and think about it (or even write it down). Knowing this will giving you guidance moving forward. If you’re unsure my advice is to pay attention to what you spend the most time talking about and thinking about and move forward from there. Even if it seems crazy, now is your chance to make it happen.

Finding balance is NOT easy!

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When I was in college I somehow managed to balance finishing my last two years of college while raising a child and managing a marriage. At the time it felt like the hardest thing in the world but now I’m glad I was able to have that experience because it prepared me for what life would be like outside of college.

For traditional graduates who aren’t married with kids (and probably aren’t even thinking about it), this will be a challenge. Remember how you felt when you had multiple social events, several projects, multiple tests and a part-time job to juggle in college? That feeling won’t go away after college (at least not if you work in PR like I do.) Work/Life balance is VERY difficult. As a PR Professional especially, I found myself working constantly the first month. Even after I’d get off and come home I’d continue to work. I really had to learn from my senior-level colleagues and boss how to manage. To be honest I’m still learning but I’ve found it’s important to learn how to focus on the present. Work when you’re at work, relax when you’re not. Don’t overwork yourself! It sounds easy, but trust me in those first months when you’re trying to prove yourself it can be difficult.

Don’t expect to have everything figured out because that will NEVER happen. Ever.

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When I was a student I used to see professionals who would come to speak in my classes and think to myself how successful they are and how inspired I was by all of the things they were doing. I’ve now realized, even in such a short amount of time, that part of “adulting” is figuring things out little by little. I see my superiors at work still sorting out doctor’s appointments and figuring out how to manage work. It made me realize this is something I’ll always be doing.

You will never have it all together. Even those who seem like they do, don’t. We are all learning day by day. Give yourself time to figure things out and when you feel like you’re stuck remember that you will never have everything figured out. As simple as it sounds remembering this will keep you sane (trust me).






The importance of Crisis Communication and staying prepared for the worst

Every year my college, Harding University, conducts a disaster drill that simulates various crises and allows the university to develop strategies to use in the event of an actual disaster.


This year’s disaster simulated a multi-vehicle accident. Many students and staff participated in the event as well as emergency personnel within the local community. Theatre students portrayed injured students, nursing students were present to bandage them while local EMT’s loaded students into ambulances. Firemen and police officers were onsite along with Harding’s public safety officers. There was even a helicopter onsite for practice with life-flights.

Public Relations students, like myself, attended to get a better understanding of crisis communications. We were able to get an idea of how Harding University’s Public Relations office were to respond in the event of an actual crisis.

For starters in the event that a serious injury or death occurs communications professionals are not to be the first to release that information. Law enforcement must inform family members before the university can. However, this doesn’t mean the communications team simply cuts off all communication with the public. It’s vital that the communications team create a way for the public to access all information regarding these types of events. This can be done by:

  • Creating a website that is frequently updated with factual information regarding the event. This can be shared across various platforms to allow the public to have easy access to information as it comes.
  • By holding a press release where media personnel can come to access information and ask questions. This allows the communications team to develop the message and allows that specific message to be released rather than information that may be misleading or untrue.

It’s important that the information is accurate before posting. It is better to wait and post accurate information than it is to rush and post false information. Developing strategies internally can help to prevent miscommunication that may cause false information to surface. A good example of this is that Harding University must ensure that every staff member knows who direct calls to and aren’t attempting to answer questions they may not have the answers to. Having good internal communication is just as important as external when managing a crisis.

Overall, I believe staying prepared for these types of scenarios are important for everyone working in communications.


United Airlines; The greatest example of what NOT to do during a PR Crisis


By now I am sure the majority of you have heard the news about United Airlines and the unfortunate incident involving one of their passengers being forcibly removed from one of their planes.  The entire scandal is awful but what is worse is the way it was handled by United Airlines.

When dealing with a PR crisis to this degree, the initial response is crucial in successfully remedying the situation. In this case United Airlines escalated the issue by first blaming the incident on an “overbooking issue” which was later found to be untrue. Later, United CEO Oscar Munoz issued a statement that only apologized for “having to re-accommodate” customers. In my opinion both of these responses neglected to show concern for the passenger and only further ruined their reputation as an airline.

In circumstances like this I believe it’s easy to forget basic problem-solving skills. I believe United Airlines was too caught up in not wanting to be blamed for the incident that it failed to remember these skills. The communicators involved with this issue should have taken a step back to first recognize how any of them would feel as a customer in this situation and then speak to the public as if each of them were a potential customer.

Beginning with a sincere apology, moving onto addressing internal issues truthfully and resolving the issue with that particular passenger and then reassuring the public that the issue was resolved might have been a better approach. It’s a simple strategy, just address and resolve the issue honestly and with integrity. If the airline would have approached the issue with immediate concern for the passenger and steps to improve and prevent internal issues that may have caused the incident, they may have been able to flip the situation to something that could have actually benefited their company.

I hope that this situation can be a learning lesson for all professional communicators of how crucial it is to have a well-thought out plan for handling issues like these in the future.

I saw my Civil Rights Icon: Ruby Bridges


Growing up black and southern I heard a lot of stories of the difficulties many of my ancestors and family members faced 50 or so years ago. Ruby Bridges’ story was one of those stories I always grew up hearing. My family owned the film created in honor of her and I watched it all throughout my childhood. I was not able to understand what she faced and how significant it was until I was much older and now I can fully appreciate everything she experienced.

On Feb. 2, 2017 I was able to see my childhood icon share her story in person in the auditorium of my very own campus at Harding University. It was a historic moment as I, an African American woman at a historically white university, was witnessing a woman who helped break the boundaries to allow that to happen. Needless to say, I was extremely excited.

The event began with a formal introduction of Ruby Bridges along with a video that shared a bit of her story. We were then introduced to her and were able to hear her story in detail. Afterwards, the President of Harding University was able to sit with her and ask her a few questions. This was the only part I didn’t quite enjoy because I was unable to see her from where I was seated. After that she stayed on stage to sign copies of her book, which were available for purchase prior to and after her speech. I unfortunately was not able to get a photo with her but being able to hear her speak was incredibly rewarding. I really loved that even with the amount of people who showed up, everyone was incredibly respectful and courteous. She had several standing ovations and just had a way of speaking about a difficult experience with such grace.

Several of the things she said have been engrained in my mind. One of my favorite quotes from her that night was: “Evil doesn’t care what you look like. If you open yourself up to it, it will use you to do the work that it wants done. And if evil doesn’t care what we look like, why should we if we consider ourselves good?”

I hope these are words we all take to heart. All in all it was an event that I and many others will remember for a lifetime.

How to get the perfect summer internship!

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So It’s been a while but I promise I have a good excuse. I was accepted as a summer intern for my dream public relations company for the summer! It was an extremely competitive process and I spent a lot of time preparing for every stage of that process so I thought I’d share some of the things I did to help secure my internship. Hopefully it will help some of you.

1) Prepare a killer resume!

Your resume is the first thing they will see so you want to make sure it represents you and your skills adequately. You want to make sure your resume fits within the field you’re going into. My field is public relations therefore I need to show that I have basic software media tool skills. So for more creative fields choose more creative designs, other fields may just want a standard resume (you can check out mine in the portfolio tab of my website).

On your resume make sure you include your education, relevant work experience, skills, extracurricular activities if you have them, contact info and any awards you may have received. I wrote RELEVANT work experience because you want to include jobs that fit within the field you’re going into, or at least find a way to show that the skills you’ve learned or utilized will fit with the skills needed for the internship you’re applying.

*Tip: Double check the job duties of your internship to tailor your work experience to it. I’m not saying to lie… you should have some experience whether that be school, volunteer or previous jobs/internships.*

2) Have a well thought out cover letter

Do not rush through your cover letter, this is your first impression. Introduce yourself and tell how you are best fitted for the internship. Highlight some of your skills and experiences, this is a good time to sell yourself. Make sure you are sincere, if this is an internship you really want express that. They want to know you are serious about the opportunity and that you have what it takes to be there.

I tend to use the first paragraph as an introduction, the second one to pitch myself and my skills, and I conclude in the third paragraph by expressing why I’d love to intern with that specific company.

3) Prep for your interview

I over-prepare for everything so I took notes of possible questions they could ask *thanks google* and prepared answers in advance. Common questions include:

“How has your experience helped prepared you for this internship?”

“Why do you want to work for this company?”

“Tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?”

A good strategy is to practice with a friend or out-loud to yourself, that way it feels more natural once you have the actual interview. Remember to ALWAYS have questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview. They will almost always ask “Do you have any questions for me?” It’s awkward to just answer no, if you are truly interested you will have questions.

Some questions I asked were:

“What do you expect from an intern?”

“What does a typical work day look like for you?”

“Who would I report to for daily tasks?”

“What is the company dress code?”

If you are truly interested in the internship it will be easy to come up with questions because you will be curious.

4) Always write a thank you note/email.

I had several interviews throughout my process but I tried to remember to always send a formal thank you email to the interviewers thanking them for taking the time to interview me. Remember, the interviewers are busy employees and it’s a big deal for them to take time out to speak to you so make sure you show them you are thankful. It’s not only polite but it makes you look that much more professional.

5) Be yourself

As overwhelming as the entire process may be, try to always be sincere. Others can tell when someone is trying too hard so don’t. The best way to find the opportunity that’s right for you is to be yourself. Remember you will get rejected, I was rejected several times before I was finally accepted and I now appreciate those rejections. If you are being yourself do not be discouraged if you don’t get an opportunity because the right one will come along.

I hope this post will help some of you and good luck to all you future interns!





Understanding SEO; Basic Tips and Tricks


So for my PR-Tactics class we had a brilliant speaker named Haley Burkhead, owner of marketbeautifully.com, who came to speak with us about SEO and I thought I’d share what I learned.

The term SEO is short for search engine optimization which means optimizing your website, or business so that it can be easily found through search engines. This is allows you to maximize the number of visitors you receive.

A few key-points that she mentioned were:

  • Site Speed: Site speed is how fast your website loads. She mentioned that it’s important that your site loads quickly. According to her a great tool to monitor this is Google analytics site speed tool. It monitors page-load time, how quickly images load, and how quickly the browser analyzes documents and allows for interaction.
  • Keyword Optimization: These are the words you use that make finding your content through search engines easier. She mentioned Google’s keyword planner which helps you find these keywords and even predicts the amount of clicks you may receive using these words.
  • Quality: She stressed the importance of quality content and I couldn’t agree more. I definitely believe gaining visitors has a lot to do with what you’re bringing to the table. One thing she said that stuck out was “work on solving problems.” If you offer a solution people will come.
  • Permalinks: This is the URL on the site for particular content. For example if you’re a blogger you can click on a post and see a unique URL in the search bar. She say’s you should edit these to be short and searchable.
  • Image File Name: The images on your pages should be uploaded with keywords included in the file to make it more searchable. So instead of just uploading images as 001.jpg for example, use keywords.
  • Mobile Responsiveness: Make sure your website works just as well on mobile devices as it does on desktop computers. We live in a world where many consumers and potential clients use their cell phones to make a search and if they are to come across your site you want to make sure it’s user friendly regardless of which device they used to get there.

So those are some of the basics she mentioned and I’m sure glad she did. I’m excited to continue to grow my knowledge of SEO and put these tips to good use.


Die! Press release! Die… or maybe not

So Tom Foremski posted an article entitled “Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die! 11 years ago detailing his strategy for changing how news releases would function at the time.

His opinion was that “press releases are nearly useless” and typically just result in wasted time and effort. He proposed a new strategy for organizing press releases that involved deconstructing it into various sections and tagging the information so that the publisher could pre-assemble it.

While I appreciate the idea of organizing the information in a way that makes it easier for journalists to pull information, his strategy involved using various pages of quotes and information. I’m not sure a strategy of this nature would have a chance in this era.

Journalists are oversaturated with press releases and as busy as their profession is, I think we live in an era of short and sweet. The idea of having several pages of quotes seems unthinkable and I can’t imagine anyone would be willing to read through all of that information.

Modern press releases are formatted to be concise, and are organized to only include the most relevant information. I’m not sure where his idea of including a lot of links would fit within this structure.

I also think press releases still play an important role and wouldn’t quite agree that they are useless. In our culture today we are typically only getting a few snippets of a story and not the entire thing. Despite popular belief, many people still look to major outlets for the full story so I think sending news releases can still play a major role if done properly.

While I may have disagreed with Foremski in terms of formatting, I did agree that those writing press releases should leave the direction of the story to the journalist and not try to put their own spin on it. It only makes sense to allow the journalists to do it since that is their job and it saves wasted energy.

I’m interested to see how press releases will continue to develop and change overtime and what new strategies will be put into place to help them avoid the trash.