PReventable Errors

By: Sarah Copeland

Here’s a fact: PR is always changing. Just like all the apps on your phone, PR is always updating and, hopefully, becoming more useful. As a PR professional, there are several things to be aware of so that you continue to be successful. There are plenty of mistakes to be made. Luckily, those mistakes have already, and are constantly being made so that you can learn from them without having to actually experience them.

PR FailImage Source

After reading through different errors past professionals had made I have come up with the top 5 mistakes for PR pros to be aware of. I’m not saying knowing these will keep you from making the same mistake, but they might.

Here are my PR preventable errors:

  1. Bad Timing– It is very important in the field of PR not to procrastinate. Many of your tasks involve heavy amounts of research and then additional time consuming work. Time is also important to consider when working with the media. Journalists have deadlines. No matter how important your press release is, journalists can’t accept a story with limited time for its completion. However, stories can be equally bad if given too early when the story has no timeliness for the journalist. Time is a tricky matter, be aware of the limits.
  1. Bad Press Releases Press releases have a lot of room for error. First the press release must have a purpose. The information presented must have worth or it will be marked unimportant. Also, if the release is poorly written or is written with too much hype, the media is not going to use it. A press release needs to grab the journalist’s attention quickly and it has to get to the point fast.
  1. Bad Follow-ups As for follow-ups, journalists don’t want calls asking if they received your press release. You must have additional information so that your call is useful to them as well. PR is a two-way communicative field and both sides must benefit.
  1. No Research- PR professionals should always know about what they are pitching. This is a research heavy profession, especially when it comes to media relations. One big mistake is sending out press releases to journalists with a beat that has nothing in common with the subject of the release. Research so you know who is best to pitch to.
  1. Bad Planning– Hopefully you, or at least I, will never make this mistake. PR professionals should always have a plan formed. There is no way to be successful in PR by improvising or doing it as you go along. Have a plan and a backup plan to be successful.

Of course there are plenty more mistakes to review. I’m not sure it is possible to never make mistakes. I actually think that mistakes are what keeps PR relevant. Remember that it is okay to make mistakes. I’m just hoping that this will help you stay free from making these common ones.



AllBusiness. (n.d.). Top 10 Public Relations Mistakes. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from

New Harbor Group. (2015). 10 Common PR Mistakes. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from

Wood, A. (2015, December 16). The Top 10 PR Mistakes Journalists Hate Most. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from







One BIG Crisis

By: Sarah Copeland

Last night I watched The Martian for the first time. It was a very interesting movie but the whole time I kept thinking: Dang that PR team must have been working REALLY hard. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, and without me spoiling anything, all you really need to know is that there was a really bad storm on Mars and during the evacuation NASA basically left an astronaut stranded on a desolate planet. That accident is hard to explain to the public because that is one BIG “whoops”.

martian pic 1Image Source

So NASA basically had to do two things. First, they had to find a way to rescue their abandoned astronaut. Second, they had to handle the press asking a range of question about NASA procedures and missions. Originally NASA and the media thought that the astronaut was dead and therefore NASA was dealing with giving a statement about how awful it was to lose a member of their team but it is a well-known risk of space travel. It became a worse situation when they found out he was alive.

So why was this a crisis? Well, when you accidentally leave an astronaut on another planet with limit resources and no plans to go back to the planet for another four years, you have a big problem. The first best practice of PR I saw was when they found out he was alive. NASA did not try and hide the fact they mistakenly announced the death of their astronaut. Instead, NASA released the information within 24 hours along with a statement. Then they worked on a rescue mission. This shows basic crisis communication stages of identifying a crisis and working out ways to fix the crisis while staying transparent.

I know this is more of a sci-fi film but I honestly think it would be great for PR students who are especially interested in crisis communication. There are plenty of instances where the NASA director didn’t use his best judgement and had to take the fall when it came to informing the public of failures. This movie didn’t always show the backlash from the public but you definitely saw the difficulties NASA went through when deciding how to handle their crisis.

Of course, there are ranges of difficulty when it comes to handling crises. This one just so happened to be massive and in the form of an interesting movie. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use a good movie to talk about PR.


Bernstein, J. (2015). The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications | Bernstein Crisis Management. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from

Clawson Freeo, S. K. (n.d.). Crisis Communication Plan. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from

The Martian – Zone 6. (2016). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from

What is crisis communications? – SHIFT Communications PR Agency – Boston | New York | San Francisco | Austin. (2013, April 02). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from

Never a Break Even During Spring Break

By: Sarah Copeland


Spring Break is finally here! If you are like me you would usually go somewhere awesome to get away from school and just relax. However, this year, my hometown is the only place I’ll be for the majority of my break. But I’ll be making the most of my time.

As a public relations student, there is hardly ever a point in time where you can be ignorant of the things going on around you, even during a break from school. For anyone who is staying home like me, we will have the time to become even more prepared for our career. And, for those who get to have more fun this break, there are still some things you can do to make sure you don’t lose too much touch with the PR world.

For the vacationers: First, always be the wonderful PR person you are. These traits make you extremely valuable, especially when you are out of town. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make some useful connections by meeting new people. An opportunity that comes with traveling over spring break is networking.

networking pic 1Image Source

To make this opportunity even better try traveling to a place that you may eventually want to work. What better place to build connections? And don’t forget to keep an eye on the news. It’s important to keep in the know.

For those stuck at home: Well, it looks like you’ll have a lot of time on your hands so may as well get a jump on improving your PR game. Of course, there are still networking opportunities at home. You can also spend this time updating all your social media pages like LinkedIn.

sPRing Break pic 1Image Source

You can also use this time to hone your writing skills by making a blog or posting to your existing blog. And, since you know you will have to do it sooner or later, try looking for internships that you may be really interested in. Finally, work on creating good PR habits. Read all you can, write well, communicate with people and listen.

No matter where you are this spring break there are still ways to stay connected and maintain your PR influence. Don’t forget about your responsibilities but still have fun.


Mills, E. (2015, February 26). How to Up Your PR game Over Spring Break. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from

PR Buzz: Nine Habits of Highly Effective PR People » Zapwater. (2014). Retrieved March 11, 2016, from

Sen-Gupta, G. (2014, March 06). Expert Advice: 6 Tips for Networking over Spring Break – NerdWallet. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from

Internships-Enough Said

By: Sarah Copeland
Intern pic 1Image Source

Last week I had my very first interview for an internship. One of my connections through LinkedIn messaged me about the opportunity and I decided to apply. I have to say, the main reason I applied was because of that connection. Honestly, if I could get through college without having to do an internship I probably would have. I was nervous is because I’ve never done an internship before and I don’t know what to expect. But, completing and internship, especially as a PR student, is 100 percent necessary.

I feel lucky, though. The internship would be a great opportunity and it is a paid position. The most important part is my boss. During the interview, he answered all my questions and gave all the signs that he would be a good mentor.

Here are a couple things to look for when applying and interviewing for an internship:

One-on-one Mentoring Experience: There is so much to learn before entering the field as a professional. And you can’t be expected to do tons of work without help, at least at first. Internships are intended to help you grow.

Real Responsibilities: Good internships give interns the opportunity to build new skills by doing things like hands-on projects.

A Professional Environment: This is an experience that leads you one step closer to your real-life career. It is important that this internship is a serious program preparing you for your future.

Paid: PR interns are responsible for so many things and offers significant value to the company and, therefore, deserve compensation.

All PR students know what is expected of them in their future careers. In fact, we are gaining valuable skills during our education. If anything we are learning how to multitask several important assignments all at once, keep up with deadlines and handle the stress of our workloads. College is a key training ground for the professional world, at least for public relations.

Since I was so nervous I decided to look up some important things that I can look forward to during an internship. These are the skills anyone might need but PR interns should definitely have.

  1. Good Writing
  2. Multitasking abilitiesIntern pic 2
  3. Public Speaking
  4. Researching
  5. Questioning


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Like I said, college has already prepared me for a majority of those skills. And one thing I already learned from my interview is that skills can always be improved upon. That’s what is nice about an internship, the opportunity to have one-on-one training to help hone those skills. I’m still nervous, but at least after the interview I’m a little more excited also.


Finn, L. (n.d.). Job Description of a PR Intern. Retrieved March 04, 2016, from

Huhman, H. (2013, September 27). Why PR interns should never be unpaid. Retrieved March 04, 2016, from

Wood, S. P. (2014, October 17). 5 Important Skills PR Interns Should Possess Before They Get the Gig. Retrieved March 04, 2016, from