Can a campus radical make it in PR? Not a problem!

April 6, 2010

Where have all the radicals gone?

I admired campus radicals back in the day.  These long-haired, sandal-sporting, granola-chomping freaks sounded the alarm that eventually ended a war in Southeast Asia. And along with all that social justice came the sexual revolution, a welcome development to any young man coming of age in the late 60s.

By the time I got to campus in ’71, the protests were pretty much over. Hippie attire and hippie lifestyle were mainstream by then, but most of the passion was gone. Being a “hippie” in the 70s was more about rearranging brain cells than rearranging the world order.

Campus-radical wannabes learned that social movements seldom pay the rent. So we cut our hair and went to work for “the man.” Read the rest of this entry »


It’s tea time in Appalachia; I’m in a parallel universe where communication and logic are lost

March 25, 2010

Is this the end of civility?

I don’t watch the TV pundits, liberal or conservative. And I don’t listen to the radio numbskulls like Glenn Beck. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t influential — and scary.

I’ve spent the past 10 days in rural Western Pennsylvania. I grew up here, the grandson of union coal miners – one a Democrat, one a Republican. They were smart and civil men, and they made up their own minds without any help from the likes of Beck or Limbaugh. They read the newspaper, they attended union meetings, and they went to church. They thought things through, and they believed in community. Read the rest of this entry »

PR Interns Part III: You get what you pay for

March 22, 2010

I’ve been placing interns for 18 years and mentoring them for 30. And I’m still surprised when I learn so many of them work for free. That’s nuts.

Or is it? Why don’t most employers actually “employ” their interns? Is it a budget issue? Or don’t they see value in the interns’ contributions?

My predecessor at Kent State, the late E. Zoe McCathrin, set the tone for paid internships long before I arrived here. She cajoled every employer in the area to pony up at least minimum wage, and in some cases she outright bullied them into it. If you knew Zoe, this won’t surprise you. Read the rest of this entry »

PR Interns Part II: Interviewing and Selection

March 19, 2010

The last post focused on finding the best intern candidates for your PR firm or department. Now lets discuss the selection process. If you’ve done a good job promoting your internship, you should have plenty of applicants.

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Email/resume/samples. For most internship candidates, the email and its contents create the first impression. And it’s usually an accurate one. You don’t need my help evaluating these packages, but let me recommend you focus on these questions:

Did the subject line break through? Did the message offer a clear and concise introduction of the candidate’s qualifications? Was it accompanied by the the writing samples you requested — or links to them? You did request writing samples, right?

One caution: Don’t expect students to be too creative or flashy. They’ve likely been advised to make a simple, crisp presentation — and with good reason. If you find a few smart candidates who also write well, test their creativity later. Read the rest of this entry »

PR Interns Part I: Finding the right candidate

March 15, 2010

About now, PR firms and departments are reviewing resumes and interviewing internship candidates for summer positions. If you plan to hire interns this year and you haven’t begun the process, get a move on. The best of the crop are interviewing now.

How do you find the best intern candidates? As one who’s been guiding internship placement for nearly 20 years, let me offer a few tips: Read the rest of this entry »

Why passion, alone, won’t make you successful, with apologies to Chris and Gary

March 8, 2010

Last week I posted a review of Gary Vaynerchuk‘s book, “Crush It!” What I neglected to include was the subtitle: “Why now is the time to cash in on your passion.”

Chris Brogan

Then, last Friday, I spotted this post from Chris Brogan. The title: “How passion powers everything.”

I’m sure you see the common thread.

Is passion critical to reaching your goals? Absolutely. But it’s only one ingredient to success, and that’s a lesson that students and young professionals must learn early on. Read the rest of this entry »

Putting people before profits: Classic PR case study, but without the fairytale ending

March 5, 2010

In class this week, we discussed a case study that PR experts have lauded as “excellence” in employee relations. It involves a CEO who put the welfare of his employees ahead of his own bottom line. He did so in the most trying of circumstances, and his leadership landed him in the textbooks.

Fire at Malden Mills, 1995 (

In late 1995, a fire at Malden Mills put 3,000 union jobs at risk. The timing couldn’t have been worse. The 90-year-old manufacturer in Lawrence, Mass., has seen its revenues triple and employment double since emerging from bankruptcy in 1982. It’s popular Polartec and Polarfleece fabrics were one reason. A loyal and productive workforce was the other.

In a time when offshore manufacturing became standard procedure in American business, Malden Mills’ CEO Aaron Feuerstein opted to stay put and to rebuild his factory on the very site where his family had made textiles for 90 years. Read the rest of this entry »