Tuesday, December 13, 2011

10 New Year's Resolutions for PR Students

'Tis the season to commit to improving. So, here are a few suggestions for all the promising public relations students still in school.

1. Read the Trades: The best way to learn what's happening in the public relations field is to read the top journals, blogs and trades. Try PRWeek, PR Tactics, PR Strategist, O'Dwyer's, Public Relations Review , Journal of Public Relations Research and PR Daily.

2. Invest in Your Wardrobe: Sure those designer jeans are nice and so is that shirt. However, you can't wear them to work. You need to begin to build your professional wardrobe one piece at a time. Start now.

3. Don't Burn Bridges: I've heard so many horror stories from students who forget that they must make as many connections as possible. Don't get anyone at your internships angry. You will need them for a reference, and stay on the good side of your teachers, counselors and deans. They often are the first to receive emails about jobs, internships and scholarships. You want them to think of you first when an opportunity arises.

4) Intern: Find an internship related to your field or interests. Some of my students graduate with more than five internships. Believe me. If you want to compete, you need to intern as much as possible.

5) Clean Up Your Online Image: You already know you need to do it. So, make 2012 the year when you commit to fixing that risky Facebook profile picture, you delete those not so professional tweets and you keep the blog about something other than your weekend exploits. Oh, and once you do it. Keep it clean.

6) Google Yourself and Set Up an Alert: You should always know what is being said about you. Have you googled yourself lately? Do it, and see what the results are. Now, decide what you can do to fix the results or maintain them. Also, set up an alert to ensure you know when something else is uploaded.

7) Create an Online Portfolio: Hopefully, you already have a great traditional portfolio filled with all of the right elements, right? Well, it is time to take advantage of technology and make an electronic one. There are so many options and reasons to do it. Start exploring the best options, and don't forget to try the free sites. Some have a money back guarantee.

8) Improve Your Writing: Yes. It is obvious, but you need to do it. Take a creative writing course. Read more. Write more. Get someone to critic your writing, and don't get upset by any negative feedback. Instead, take the criticism in stride and use it to improve.

9) Find a Mentor: If you don't have a mentor in the public relations field, find one. It is the best way for you to get career advice and guidance from an insider. Plus, consider getting a younger professional mentor and a seasoned one, too. You'd be surprised by the difference in views and opinions. You will get an understanding of how things work on the technician and management levels.

10) Create a 5-year Plan: There's no better way to meet your goals than by following a road map. Figure out what you want to do, and how you can do it. Be flexible, but be focused.

Good luck, and I hope you have a successful and prosperous 2012.

Monday, October 31, 2011

#Wisdoms - #Keep A Real Record of Your Work in Social Media

As many of us dabble in social media and others master the use not only personally, but strategically, I am always reminding my students how important it is to keep a record of your work. Now, this is a bit confusing. Once something - anything - is uploaded, you give up control and many argue it is there forever. This is true, because "it can be copied over and over, manipulated, combined and mashed up into any creative form or digital format. It can be forwarded to others and take on a life of it's own and never really ever be removed." The abscence of rules and respect has earned social media the label of the Wild Wild West. Just think of those celebrities who put up an embarrasing tweet only to remove it moments later, but it's too late. With millions of followers, bloggers and friends watching their every moves and taking screenshots, those seconds can hurt them for a lifetime.

While I want my work to impact the social media landscape like purple mountains on the horizon, I will admit I work to simply try to create somewhat of a teeny, tiny, tiny ripple in social media. I blog. I tweet. I spread messages about personal and work projects through Facebook. However, I am learning that you must keep a record, too, of what you say and do. For some of us, once our work is pushed out of our timelines or too hard to retrieve on Facebook pages, it is gone. Therefore, you have to pause to copy your online work offline. I did it recently for the #wisdoms I place on Twitter in 2011. I regret these are not all of them. Since I'm not a celebrity, there was no one waiting in the wings to record my every move. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy them.

My #record of my #wisdoms...

It's not the type of bag you put your candy in, but the candy inside the bag. It's the same way with people. Happy Halloween. #wisdoms

Are you hiding behind a mask? If so, take it off. Be bold, and show the world who you really are. #wisdoms

2 steps forward but 1 step back is still 1 step forward. #wisdoms

Nostalgic but prophetic words: "I yam what I yam." - Popeye. http://bit.ly/vZXUpF (Watch Popeye - Robin Williams- Sing the tune) #wisdoms

If your client is a ladybug without spots, don't buy black paint. Figure it out. Promote her specialties/uniqueness. Make it work. #wisdoms

I dare you to share an idea with someone. You'll surely make it better through hard work and a good collaboration. #wisdoms

Be your own inspiration. When others are your muse, you are forced into their definition of success. Create your own, and go for it. #wisdoms

Engagement in #PR isn't a one time thing. It should be the start of a relationship between you and your audience/reporter/blogger. #wisdoms

Expect the unexpected. Then plan for it. #wisdoms

There's noting better than tasting the fruits of your labor. Yum. #wisdoms

Success is defined in many ways. Regardless of how you define it, u must set goals, create a plan + make it happen. #wisdoms

Do you live by the 5Ps - proper preparation prevents poor performance? I try to do it. #wisdoms

Ambition is not learned. It is a trait. I've seen it in some, and it never dies. They are the ones that succeed no matter what. #wisdoms

Just keep trying. #wisdoms

New school: Everyone gets participation ribbon/Old school: Leave w/ nothing. Feast on defeat. Return meaner/stronger/ready 2 win. #wisdoms

Study their strengths and weaknesses, and when the time is right, get in there, play and win. #wisdoms.

You gotta work to work it out. Start today. #wisdoms

We share too much as a culture. I remember when privacy was understood and not selections on settings menu. Bring back old school. #wisdoms

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. #wisdoms

If you are unhappy, unfulfilled or uncommitted, you should look inside for a change, and not necessarily at changing your job. #wisdoms

Before I begin, I want to share a sentiment from an email sent earlier to a student. Your 9to5 shouldn't define you. It is a part of you. #wisdoms

Best thing about your 20s? You feel invinceable. Worst part of your 20s? You feel invicible. Be careful. Be smart. #wisdoms

*Image Credit
** My wisdoms are information from the heart and those I heard or believed as I live my life. Perhaps, for some attribution might be needed, but I don't think so.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Couple Who Cries Media Wolf

I purposely waited a while before writing this post. It's been knocking around in my head for a few weeks now. But, I needed to see how this was really going to end.

When I first heard the husband of Real Housewives of D.C. Michaele Salahi's tearful cries for help in finding his "kidnapped" wife, I was immediately worried. How could this happen I thought? Did someone make good on the death threats? Worse, could this happen to me one day? Could I leave home for the hairdresser, and well, never come back?

Then, I paused and thought for a minute. Is this another "publicity stunt" from the Salahis? Is Tareq, the husband, in on it? Or, this is a horrible crime in the making? I was reminded of the many stories of the two alleged "White House party crashers." Their appearance at the State Dinner rocketed the “The Real Housewives of D.C” reality series into the forefront of many of our minds and television schedules, and it made them the newest pseudo reality star celebrities. The massive amounts of news coverage that followed was staggering, and as is the case in any crises, the blame game started and people fell like dominos, most notably Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. Although a horrible situation and one that could have spelled disaster (i.e., uninvited guests close to our beloved President), it became a platform for the Salahis to make the rounds on most major news shows, including the daily morning shows. And, it was also fodder for the late night talk shows and birthed the Saturday Night Live skit below.

But, was this different? Suddenly, I was reminded of Michaele Salahi's short stint in Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. She allegeedly came to rehab, ah, without an addiction. Strange, right? Clearly, this should have been discussed with producers prior to signing the contract, or getting on the plane, or checking into the center, or, well, you get the point. Controversy brewed following this situation, too. Her mother came to her defense and noted her appearance wasn't about an addiction, but her need to cope with the aftermath of the above mentioned fiasco. Hmmm.

So, here I was listening to Tareq and wondering what to think. Was he crying wolf? I wasn't alone in this thought. Again, the media questioned whether it was a hoax. It turns out Tareq was wrong. His wife wasn't kidnapped. She is/was with her new alleged lover and had simply left her husband and possessions to do it.

I teach my students about the need for PR professionals not to bombard news outlets with pseudo events. They must work to create meaningful news and only present newsworthy topics, people or events to the media. Why? Our lives are filled with media "noise." We consume information virtually every waking moment of the day from our radios, televisions, iPads, smart phones, billboards and other sources. As PR professionals, we must strive to release information worthy of consumption, because so much of our precious news time is fractured with salacious, tabloid-worthy news, instead of those things relevant to the health, wealth and safety of Americans.

Hopefully, the next time Tareq or Michaele decide to contact the media they won't get past the gatekeepers, what few are actually left. Hopefully, there will be something more substantive on the media agenda that day. Hopefully. In the meantime, it should be a lessen to PR professionals not to have your organization crying wolf in every press release or media pitch. Be cautious about contacting a journalists or blogger for coverage. You don't want to be the Salahis of PR.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Siesta? - Can't Social Media Never Sleeps

As a college professor, I always dreamed of summers off. I pictured myself relaxing, watching television, hanging out with family, going to the beach and just enjoying the lazy days of summer. This, my friends, is not the life of a young, aspiring tenure-track professor. I work hard in the summer. I work full days on many research and work projects. I am especially busy because I've decided to engage the use of social media for many of my projects.

I'm the co-editor of HBCU Experience - The Book with Howard University alum Christopher Cathcart. We engage those interested in the project via our web site (www.blackcollegebook.com) , Twitter using @HBCUbook and on Facebook at HBCU Experience - The Book. It's nearly a daily drum beat to grab attention, get followers and engage our potential supporters and writers. We've found many friends in the HBCU social media community who give us support and spread the word, including @HBCUDigest and @HBCU_Lifestyle.

Oh, and I also taught a social media class in the spring, which really gave me a greater understanding of social media. It is also the reason I am presenting at the 97th Annual National Communication Association conference in November 2011. I'm sitting on a panel titled "Demystifying Voices: Running towards and not away from Social Media in the Classroom." It is also the reason I am helping to organize the first annual Social Media Technology Conference & Workshop being sponsored by Howard University and Bowie State University. It is set for September 29-30, 2011 on the campus of Bowie State University. This will be an affordable, engaging and very practical introduction into the world of social media provided by practitioners, students and academics. You can follow our progress on Twitter @smtechconf2011 and on Facebook at Social Media Technology Conference & Workshop.

With the social media conference, we've just started to set up the social media accounts. It's easy to set things up, but it's the engagement of the world that is the larger hurdle. I've learned to cross promote using the various outlets for myself, and I plan to do the same with the conference and book projects. For example, you can see my Twitter feed is on my blog, and it is also present on my LinkedIn account. I get it, but it's not easy to get the exposure you want overnight. There's lots of advice out there, and it's mind boggling to figure out which advice to take. Mashable once noted there was over 15,700 social media experts on Twitter. Social media experts, a controversial label, offer contradictory advice, and it's hard to even know who is correct.

What I have learned is that you need daily, engaging content. To me, this is the most important aspect of social media. You must provide daily content that people want to read, hear and see. If you don't do it, than you will be a faint whisper in the wind that people will soon forget.

So, I'm back to my busy summer schedule. I'll be writing, researching, tweeting, posting and updating until the first day of class and beyond. Godspeed to us all.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

18 Serious Things to Do If You Graduate College Without a Job

You spent four, maybe five, years in college, and when you graduated, you didn't have a job. This is not what you expected, right? You stayed up late, studied hard, followed directions, sacrificed and took out loans - lots of loans. Where is the pay off? Don't worry. It's coming soon.

Graduating without a job is tough. It's happens to a lot of people. Heck, it even happened to me. The worst thing to do is worry. The best thing to do is make getting a job your new job, and perhaps, follow my advice below:

1) Look Over Your Resume. I've had several students tell me no one is responding to their resumes, and after one glance, I can see several reasons. Whether you have grammatical or stylistic errors, a lack of details, poor design or another challenge, have a professional you trust offer you some constructive criticism.

2) Redo Your Cover Letter. The generic cover letter won't do anymore. Spend some time getting the proper name of the contact who will read your letter. Be sure to tailor it to the job, and please don't simply rehash your resume. Tell the reader something about you that's not obviously understood from your attached resume.

3) Reach Back to Old Contacts. You went to several networking events and had guest speakers in your classes, right? When was the last time you sent an email to catch up? Do it. You never know what you might learn or what job tips await you.

4) Go to New Networking Events. As a new graduate, it's time to get yourself out there and network as a real professional and not a student. Dress well, bring copies of your resume and be ready to impress everyone in the room from the people at the registration table to the hosts.

5) Connect with Your Mentor. If you have a mentor, this person is committed to seeing you succeed. Ask your mentor out for a cup of coffee and discuss ways to get a job, stay busy and distinguish yourself from the crowd.

6) Read the Trades. When you get an interview, you need to be able to speak the language of your industry. You need to know what's happening and be able to have an intelligent conversation about it. The best way to gain knowledge is by reading your industry's trade magazine.

7) Use Social Media and the Internet. What's the point in having a LinkedIn account if you don't use it to connect with employers and other job seekers? Why follow friends on Twitter when you can follow companies and experts who can give you some good information? Use social media to your advantage. Also, spend time looking directly on the "job" or "careers" sections of company websites, instead of relying on searches or other job websites.

8) Ask for an Informational Interview. If you like a company, don't hesitate to ask for an information interview. It's a good way to get in the door and make yourself known to the very people who can place you in a job. It also shows you are committed and want to work.

9) Contact other Recent Graduates. Most entry level jobs are ripe for professionals with one to two years experience. Your former classmates are in those jobs, and some of them may be ready to move to the next job. Contact them to see if they are planning a move or know of others who are doing it. You might learn about a job even before it's listed.

10) Reach Out to Recruiters and Headhunters. These professionals have the unique job of being employed to find people like you. Get to know them and make sure they have everything they need to get you in the running for an open job.

11) Email Your Career Counselors and Professors. Other than your parents, no one wants to see you employed more than your professors and career counselors. We've helped nurture you, and we want to see you land your first job. We also have lots of contacts and people who reach out to us about jobs. Be sure you are on our radar and our email lists.

12) Reconnect with Your Internship Coordinators. If you did well at an internship, chances are your boss remembers you. It's also a chance your former boss has a job opening. Send an email to reconnect. You might just have perfect timing.

13) Develop a Portfolio. What makes PR students from Howard University special is each has a portfolio with their best work, which they should show at job interviews. Develop one and be sure it has a cross section of your work. This will set you apart from everyone else who just comes in with their resumes. You will be able to show them what you can do, instead of simply telling them about it.

14) Volunteer. Don't let there be a big empty time frame on your resume. Get out there and put your skills to good use at a local nonprofit, community organization or even church that might be in desperate need of some help. You'll keep your skills sharp and add some more experience to your resume.

15) Intern. If you thought your interning days were over, well change your mind. You can get paid internships as college graduates, and many companies use this time as a probationary period to check out how you perform. If you are offered one, take it. It could be the precursor to your new job.

16) Hyperlink. We are in the digital age. Be sure to make your resume dynamic. If you worked on a new website, insert a hyperlink. If you developed a new video, insert a hyperlink to it on YouTube. If you developed a new brochure, insert a link on Google Docs. Make it easier for the people reviewing your resume to be impressed by you and your work.

17) Clean Up Your Online Persona. Someone is probably going to find you online before they even call you in for an interview. What will they find? Be sure what you present online passes my M.O.B. test. Negative content can cost you an interview now or even your job later.

18) Be Flexible. Many people will disagree with my last statement, but do not wait for your dream job. If it's your dream job, it's probably the same one thousands, if not millions, of others are waiting to get. So many have their hearts set on the media, entertainment or fashion industries. They are closed networks and tough to easily crack. It's possible, but tough. Set your sights on something more attainable, and work tirelessly to connect with those who can get you in the door of your dream company.

Good luck.

Monday, April 18, 2011

M.O.B. Mentality for Social Media Ethics

As my social media class comes to an end, I am astonished by how much both my students and I have learned over the semester. From the mechanics of how to use some of the social media tools to developing strategies, we have covered it all. We were, and hopefully will remain, a part of the "stream" on a daily basis.

However, part of what has irritated me over the semester is the ethical issues that come up often in the "Wild Wild West" that is the social media landscape. From the inappropriate tweets related to Japan's tragedy to physicians fishing around Facebook to query patients, ethical issues abound in social media. With this said, I'd like to offer my M.O.B. rules for social media. They can be applied to a cross section of social media platforms, including social networks, microblogging and blogging sites and more.

M - What would your mother say if she saw, read or heard this? There is nothing more disheartning than to hurt your mother's feelings. Have you ever been told, "I'm not angry. I'm just disappointed?" That one hurts to the core. So, think before you hit the enter button, and ask yourself if this post would upset your mother, grandmother, godmother or great grandmother.

O - If you are a bit older, perhaps you have little ones, children or offspring. The principles remain the same for this category. What would your children think if they saw, heard or read this post? Would they want to know their mommy did or does this? Worse. Would you want their classmates to know? Be mindful that even if you are comfortable with the content that it does have ramifications for your children.

B - There has always been a question about how much your personal life reflects upon your professional life. Are you really off at 5 p.m., or do you remain an extension of your company 24 hours a day? In the oversharing world that is social media, can you say or show too much? Before you hit the send button, ask yourself if your boss would be embarrassed by what you share online, or would customers think differently of you, your work or the company? Further, ask if you are sharing your thoughts or if you are really talking too much about what happens in the office, with coworkers or on projects? Today, many companies require employees to sign confidentiality or social media agreements. It's a real possibility what you do online can be a problem at work.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Top 10 PR Writing Tips

This semester I'm teaching two special courses: event planning and social media. I usually teach at least one public relations writing class. I miss it. So, I've decided to share my top 10 public relations writing tips. Perhaps, my blog readers will enjoy and learn from them. They go from generic writing tips to specialized PR tips.

1) Remember the rules your elementary school teacher taught you. - If most of us just remembered basics grammar rules, we'd be great writers. Don't be afraid to dust off your English 101 grammar book.

2) Be concise. - The more concise you write the easier it is for your audience to understand your message. Reread each sentence to see if you can cut words or replace a few words with one that means the same thing.

3) Read and write as much as you can. - Start to view writing as a sport. If you want to excel, than you need to engulf yourself in everything involving writing. The more you read the more you'll learn tricks and tips from other writers, and the more you write the better your skills will become. Practice makes perfect.

4) Edit. Edit. Edit, again. - Always proofread your work for spelling and grammar errors. In addition, check and double check your facts. Don't stop until you are sure you have everything right. If you are "too close" to your work, ask someone else to read it for you.

5) Don't be embarrassed to fix a mistake. - Everyone makes mistakes. I don't know a single entry level PR person who hasn't made the dreaded "pubic relations" error. Don't worry. Simply fix the problem, regardless of how much time, energy or money it might take to do it.

6) Learn to take constructive criticism. - If you don't have thick skin, get some. You should be willing to learn from those who know more than you. Just remember to take the advice and use it on your next project.

7) Take your writing seriously. - When you write, it should be done with care and precision. A lack of concern or a desire to quickly finish will cause you to make simple mistakes.

8) Know the tool. Know the rules. Know the medium. - Each public relations tactic is used for a specific reason, and each one has specific rules, including the appropriate writing style and content. For example, you don't include the same information in a OP-Ed piece that you'd include in a brochure. Further, you must know the best medium - U.S. mail, email, mass media - to deliver your tool.

9) Have a purpose. Stick to it. - You should have a specific goal or objective for each tool. Don't stray from your key message or strategic plan.

10) Know your public and write to them. - Be sure to include the information your audience will want to know. Anticipate questions, and answer them. Use proper language, proper calls to action and tone.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's All Your Fault Flu Shot; You Need a New Image

Today, my goal is to sit up unassisted. I'm goal oriented, so I've decided to sit up until I finish this blog. Here I go.

I'm a fairly healthy person. I'm not in the gym, check out my abs, Jilian Michaels healthy. I'm just a thirty-something-year-old-with-no-health-problems healthy. I'm usually fine with it. But, my how this week has changed my life forever. Forever. After not being able to move for about 12 hours on Saturday - pain, chills, fever, coughing, other awful weird unidentifiable stuff - I summoned my mother for help. She helped me with all the necessary things and took me to Patient First. I dare not begin to explain all of the wonderful things that happen there, but when you are sick on Saturday night and you don't quite fit the ER profile, it's the place to go.

When we get there, there was a kiosk before you entered the lobby. The words quieried if you had any of a number symptoms. I read the list. I mentally check off each one. Grab a mask. Use the hand sanitizer. Feel like an Outbreak extra, but I press on. Everything about check in, waiting and getting to the back is painless. I appreciate it. When I get to the back, I sit on the bed, and I stare at the curtain until someone arrives. It takes about 30 seconds before I am horizontal. No good. I commit to just answering questions politely with a smile from that vantage point. Thirty more seconds and I commit to just answering questions. Thirty more seconds and I'm wondering if I can blink my way through my diagnosis. A very, wonderful nurse comes in quickly followed by Dr. Fox. A few questions. Deep breaths, and she proclaims I have the flu. She concludes, "Did you get a flu shot?" No. Absolutely not.

I never, ever get a flu shot. The flu shot needs some serious PR assistance. There are some things it has working for it. Many of our trusted "influencers" believe and push it - doctors and government officials. Research galore. There's a new television ad campaign designed to combat the myths surrounding it. I saw it. It was entertaining. I wanted to embed it for you. It's nowhere on the Internet. That's a problem in this digital age. Besides, we all no funny doesn't make a behavior change. There was also the Washington Redskins cheerleader flu shot "hoax." See below.

Is that it? No. First, everyone says get a flu shot. What kind? Everything has a kind or type or brand? Am I to believe there's just one type? For example, name anything simple, and you'll find there's types. Water. Tap, sparkling, carbonated, spring. See? Eggs. Brown or White. Farm or Organic. Small, medium, large or extra large. See? I need to know what kind. I don't need one in little blue box with a white bow or one with a bedazzled syringe. I'd just like to know there is some identifiable quality. Second, you can get them everywhere - and not in a good way. I don't want to buy pantyhose, gum and head past the 90% off Christmas stuff to get a medical procedure in the back of a random Walgreens or CVS. I like those stores, but not for a medical procedure. What about when they offer it at the supermarket. Yes, I need juice, eggs, and a needle with medicine in it. Ah, no. What about the random places that pop up? You drive by the mall, and there it is. Sale at the Gap, and flu shots in the food court. Yuck. I ain't buying it. Literally.

Back to Saturday night. The nurse who was amazing, funny, professional and helped me so much. She agreed to stay late, when my second bag of IV fluids needed to be administered and the clinic was closing. She also created some amazing contraption with my coat and a portable heater that made me feel so toasty and warm. Pure genius. When it was over, Dr. Fox noted this would get me "over the hump." Strange choice of words, but I guess she was right. As I walked slowly toward the front, my husband trailed behind asking more questions about prescriptions and next steps. (Yes, he showed up somewhere through the haze of my treatment.) The lights were dim, but I saw people in the lobby. Little people. Boy, I was hoping it was a mirage. It wasn't. My sons in all their nighttime glory were waiting patiently in the lobby with my mom. Vance,3, in his Batman slippers and Sesame Street pajamas, and Joshua, 18 months, in snow boots and bright yellow SpongeBob Squarepants pajamas. "Mom," I said. "There in their pajamas" In her infinite motherly wisdom, she said, "That's what men do." Sigh. Vance asks if I'm okay. I muster a smile and nod. But, I am distracted. Joshua is behind him and partying like it's 1999. "What is he doing, and what is he eating?" I asked. Cookies from the nice receptionist. She clearly made a friend and a happy customer.

So, I will get a flu shot ever year. Despite it's bad PR problem. My behavior change is based on two things. First, I can't be this sick ever again. I vow to not let the "convenient" locations distract me from the goal or not getting sick, and I will get a flu shot from the doctor's office, maybe even at Patient First. Second, I never, ever want to see my sons in their pajamas in a public place again. Two hard lessons to learn.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Collaborations Help Best Educate PR Students

There's an old African proverb that I'm sure you've heard hundreds of times: It takes a village to raise a child. The idea is that you aren't an island, and the maturation process is best done by a community of people who care and have a vested interest in you. Well, I teach a class at Howard University that follows this same principle, and it does so with much success.

CapComm Lab is our capstone course. Students in the course are usually graduating seniors who are about to show the world exactly what they've learned during their time at Howard University. With "real clients" and "real deadlines," students are put to the challenge each day and must help serve their clients by establishing a strategic plan and working to meet specific objectives. The results and the successes are phenomenal. We can boast a long list of satisfied clients, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Student Press Law Center, Amtrack and Children's National Medical Center.

The most important aspect of the class is the "team teach" component. We work with some of the world's top advertising and strategic communication firms to help teach our students the proper ways to serve a client. Past firms include APCO Worldwide, Ketchum, GMMB and Burson-Marsteller. Last semester, we had the privledge of having Weber-Shandwick/Powell Tate. Not only did highly qualified and influential members of the staff come to the university to teach almost every week, some traveled from as far away as California just to deliver an hour lecture. Now, that's a commitment to help the best truly become the best.

While collaborating with a firm is not unusual for us, Weber-Shandwick/Powell Tate created the opportunity for us to serve one of their trusted clients, Bank of America. Students created mock strategic plans and tactics to help the bank improve its image. This added teaching exercise was a bonus experience that pushed students to not just work to satisfy their assigned clients, but work to help foster better communication between a major financial institution and its customers.

I am proud to say Bank of America was also delighted with the students' work, and you can see a bit of the background of the project below.

Weber Shandwick - Howard University from weber shandwick on Vimeo.

Ultimately, developing bright young minds can't be left in the hands of one person. It should be done in a collaborative atmosphere where seasoned professionals work strategically to share lessons learned and best practices. I want to personally thank Weber-Shandwick/Powell Tate and Bank of America for helping us do it and do it well.