The Most Basic and Most Helpful Lesson You'll Ever Learn

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Over the course of this semester I have completed morepaperwork.jpg assignments in one Journalism class than I have in any other semester combined. These assignments came in all shapes and sizes, some as easy as a Twitter post andothers as long as a feature length article on a book about social media (with an accompanying blog post). At first we all thought it was just a fluke and that eventually they would spread out, but if anything the assignments came quicker until each and everyone of us almost felt like we were drowning.

Yet each of us dealt with the homework, some through caffeinated long nights and others through multi-tasking during other classes. Everyone in the class has since then made it to the end of this semester, maybe with a little less sleep than normal but whole for the most part. We all know public relations is a fast-paced career path and are looking forward to that, so we wrote the assignment load off as the by-product of a tougher course. But our professor had one more lesson for us planned on the last day of lecture...

The professor came into lecture like usual and said that for her last lecture she was going to give us the overall goals we were supposed to take away from class. They were the usual set of goals, like a skill base and experience with different formatting for releases. But then she gave us a final insight into her class structure. The torrent of assignments had been on purpose to teach us a skill we would need throughout our career: time management.

As basic as it seems learning time management is one of the hardest things I learned. In the real world we each would be balancing five individual projects at the same time, each requiring our attention at the same time.

So even as I sit and finish my last of ten blogs required for credit (though not my last blog I'm going to post) at quarter to five in the morning before it's due, I know that time management is a skill I'll need to sharpen, and thanks to JOUR 3279W and our professor, I am beginning to do just that.

A PR practitioners job is not only about being able to craft well-structured, eloquent messages but to do so concisely. As a naturally longer, more descriptive writer, this Apprentice needed lots of practice to overcome my natural tendencies. The best way I found to do this was to write your own photo captions for photos from the paper. For example...

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Joey Abraham, 23, coaches Jordan Rockman, 15, through a more complicated throwing move. Homegrown Lacrosse is committed to uniting the community through its passion for lacrosse.

Getting some feedback from colleagues and friends will let you know how accurately your short caption summarizes a great image, and what you can improve for the future.

It's the little things

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thank you note.jpg Thank you notes were once the norm among family members, and that lost art can be used to leverage yourself up higher than other applicants when job-hunting.

It's a remarkably simple gesture that leaves a lasting impression with the interviewer. The thank you note should be similar to the 'leave-behind' form your portfolio: short, to the point and only highlighting what is necessary. The main difference lies in the nature of the product, the leave-behind is a resumer where as the note is a lasting piece of your personality.

While the rules of thank you notes are pretty open to individual tailoring, a few basic guidelines will help keep the note on track to be helpful in the interview process...

My favorite tip? Remind the interviewer of a personal piece of your conversation like an anecdote you told or something you found you had in common. This will create a clear picture of you in their mind when they go back over the interviewees.

So you've published a blog... now what?

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Creating a blog in this day and age is as easy as clicking onto Tumblr and signing up. With thousands of new blogs popping up almost daily, the true test now has become getting people to find your blog and getting them to bring other people there. There is one tool that has blossomed out of this need.

The SEO: Search Engine Optimizer.

Brief overview: SEO techniques are ways to make sure that your site (blog, Tumblr, Facebook, etc.) show up above others when your name or brand is typed into a search engine like Google. The higher your site is, the more traffic gets driven there and the more famous you become! Yet this is not a simple process...

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This is just one proposed path to increase SEO. Google has their own strategists and entire companies have been born who deal solely with helping other companies increase their standing, like Gorilla Placement.

For you beginners out their like me, linking your blog to your Facebook , Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc. will help. The more traffic you can direct to your other media sites will increase your standing with both.

A little glimpse into who I am...

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Tyler Jansen is a small-town Midwesterner who has throughout his life seized every opportunity to learn and grow beyond his humble rearing grounds, without ever losing sight of the values learned there. Upon graduation from Appleton North High School as Valedictorian, Tyler already carved himself a niche in the world as a creative, dependable, positive force to be reckoned with.

Ever since he was young, Tyler has been obsessed with communication in one way or another. This obsession began as an unyielding appetite for literature that continues to this day. The art of communicating thoughts and ideas through time in the form of written word sparked his interest in other forms of communicating which has culminated in his pursuit for a degree in Strategic Communications at the University of Minnesota.

Some of the most defining moments in Tyler's life have come through his passion for experiences. Due to this, Tyler has partnered himself with opportunities that have carried him around the world and back, participating and experiencing things not many people can claim. His passion for choir took him on a concert tour, performing in places like Notre Dame, Paris,23421_1168382982184_1606230866_30804856_810198_n.jpg the Pope's Palace in Avignon and La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. Theatre carried Tyler from the Midwest to Dublin to perform in the International Theatre Festival and then into London to stand on the stage of the Globe Theatre. Playing in the band brought him to the islands of Hawaii as well as a few cities in Canada. All of these places, with their unique cultures that were shared through the arts, have given Tyler a wide perspective and an ability to see solutions where others may not be able.

Looking closer, it becomes apparent that Tyler's true passion is discovering other people's passions. While this may lead to many great, and varied, experiences it is the joy people exude as they do what they love that Tyler enjoys. Throughout his life Tyler has heard comments about his seemingly limitless energy, excitement and happiness that seem a perpetual emotional state. This enthusiasm allows Tyler to seek the spark of enthusiasm that all people carry, no matter how hidden, and draw it out.

Tyler's future aspirations may not come with many specific details as of yet but there has been plentiful framework laid to know it will be a wonderful experience. Whichever way his path goes, it will be filled with a positive outlook and a quest for the connections between people and their passions and then communicating those passions to the world.

Free Arts MN

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"The efforts of Free Arts can be summarized with the inspiring words of Frederick Douglass: 'It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.'"
Rachel Kimpton, Free Arts MN Intern.

As young adults transition into full adulthood they experience the full range of positive and negative experiences. For Rachel Kimpton, Global Studies Major at the University of Minnesota, her time spent with the children at Free Arts MN, especially one boy who changed her life, will be on of the brightest memories.

FreeArts1.jpgRachel was required to complete an internship for her major, and her older brother suggested Free Arts MN because they were in a constant need of volunteers so getting an internship was a viable option. Rachel quickly made herself invaluable to the organization; working to bolster the organizations Facebook page and Twitter account (@freeartsmn) and personally creating a Tumblr blog (

While her work on the social media front is important to the organization, the most important event for Rachel came from a little boy whose name she doesn't even know.

Mid October the interns were working with a group of abused children, just sitting and drawing with them to build their confidence", says Rachel. This was one of their earlier sessions so many of the children were still distrustful and prone to withdrawing. "When I first sat down, he stopped coloring in the FreeArts3.jpgcow outlined on his paper. This was usual of new kids to the program. Rachel just sat and talked to him while coloring her own picture. "We continued this for awhile: both of us drawing as I talked about nothing." "After half an hour of drawing, the young boy turned to me and said 'I'm coloring the cow red.'" said Rachel, "It was the first thing we had heard him say." Later, after the therapy session had ended, Rachel was surprised to see the boy she had sat with walking back into the building towards her. "He handed me the picture of his red cow and said 'its for you', turned and walked out. It was one of those moments when time seemed to stop", smiles Rachel.

It is because of this moment, when she realized how profound an affect Free Arts MN had on these poor children's lives that she committed herself to preserving the organization for the future. In the spring Free Arts is expanding to two more local locations. On top of this, the turning of the academic semester sees the farewell of many volunteers. Rachel is calling out to anyone wishing to help heal the life of children and through that process, find a deep joy within themselves.

The Dragonfly Effect

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by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith

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"The Dragonfly Effect is the single best road map to social media I have ever seen." Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive.

Aaker and Smith have laid out a guide for communicators to efficiently use social media to achieve great results. These guidelines are easily tailored into the realm of public relations and become great assets to any practitioner. The Four Wings of the dragonfly represent Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, and Take Action and when all four are moving in unison, the smallest of actions cause ripple affects and great change.

The Focus Wing builds on five design principles in order to maintain a clear and concise goal, which is much easier to achieve than a muddied complex goal. The design principles are Humanistic, Actionable, Testable, Clarity and Happiness. For a great example of a company using the First Wing, look no further than the campaign strategy that saw Senator Obama into the White House.

The second wing, Grab Attention, is done through more well known channels to PR professionals; make it Personnal, Unexpected, Visual and Visceral, like the start up plan for Bonobos (

For practitioners of all kinds the Third Wing is the hardest to achieve: Engage. In order for your campaign to make it through the noise of all the other media and hopefully spread virally into the world, Aaker and Smith show through the study of Kiva's initial start up model as well as their current PR model. By looking at their website you can see they take the authors advice and Tell A Story, Empathize, are Authentic and correctly Match their Media (

The fourth and final Wing is the one in which the authors talk about a call to action. Through the beautiful story of Alex Scott ( Aaker and Smith show how creating the right 'call' will make or break your campaign, even in it's final stages. The authors reveal that an Easy, Fun, Tailored and Open prompt to action will provide the best results for your campaign.

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Even though The Dragonfly Effect was written to all communicators, the case studies as well as simple observation show direct correlations to the system a PR practitioner goes through to create a new campaign. With very little stretch it is clear to see the benefits PR personnel would gain from reading through Jennifer Aaker's and Andy Smith's book.

The Newest Star at Starbucks: the Clover

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As a coffee enthusiast, as well as a student at the Journalism School, I wanted to make sure an article in the Daily concerning the new Clover system at the Washington Avenue Starbucks did not paint an incomplete picture and leave a bitter taste in everyone's mouth.

The addition of the Clover system is a rare opportunity for any Starbucks and the Washington Starbucks is only the second location in Minnesota that has gotten this honor. While most students may look at the price tag of the Clover itself as well as the effect on the cost of a cup of coffee, the numbers provided in the Daily's article on Nov. 7 are misleading. The Clover system itself cost the Washington Avenue location nothing; it was provided by the Starbucks Corporation in anticipation of increased customer flow due to the light rail and a natural part of the expansion of a high profile and high volume store.

But most importantly, the hyperbolized price increase per cup of coffee tells nowhere near the whole story. The Clover system unlocks multiple layers of the coffee beans, rendering one of the most complete coffee experiences you can have. With the Clover brewing system, every whole bean coffee that Starbucks sells can now be bought as a brewed cup of coffee; you are no longer limited to the two or three flavors that Starbucks normally brews during the day. This location also has the honor of carrying Starbucks Reserve Blends, which only five other stores in Minnesota carry, and only the Galleria Store (which also has a Clover system) is able to brew as well. The Reserve coffees, when brewed as a single cup, carry a larger increase in price due to the increased cost and exclusive nature of the beans. However their core coffees only carry a ten to twenty cent increase across the board. It is also important to note that this only applies to the Clover brewed coffees; their normal menu prices have not changed at all.

In the end the beautiful renovations that have taken place within the Washington Avenue Starbucks, both in the dining room and with the coffee, have turned it into a campus asset. I would strongly recommend to all coffee drinkers to head down Washington and try a cup of the worlds best coffee brewed with the Clover.

Submitted to : MN Daily concerning the article 'Campus Starbucks reopens with new brewing system' which can be read here.

A story of animosity turned trust


One day, sitting in a journalism lecture at the University of Minnesota, I was struck by an initially strange parallelism between my college studies and swords; the past and present relationship between a PR practitioner and a journalist.

During high school, I had the amazing opportunity to learn Elizabethan swordplay from a certified Sword Master. The initial purpose for learning was to perform during A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet, but after the shows I continued learning to fight. Through my studies I learned many forms of sword fighting and have used the lessons there in my day to day life.

The way it used to be

Sword fighting used to be just that; a fight to the death between two adversaries. While in the past PR personnel and journalists may not have literally been trying to kill each other, the animosity was still there. As depicted in commentary and the movies, they stood on opposite sides of the line form each other just like two fighters settled into avant garde waiting for the other to make a move. Once the fight began a whirlwind of action and reaction took place, much like the interaction journalists and PR practitioners had through the media. The journalist forgoes a rapier for quick-cutting questions and the practitioner dropped their broadsword and nudged the story in a more conducive direction. The sword fight used to be a relationship of complete adversaries and a complete lack of trust.

The way it is today

The stronger correlation that I found was between the modern journalist and practitioner relationship. While looking at a staged fight, the combatants are hammering away at each other with realistic speed and precision, creating the appearance of deadly intent. To the regular person, a fight like this seems real and believable. For example in this clip from Cyrano, from 0:39 to 0:47, two of my fellow sword fighters appear to intend each other harm. In actuality, this and all other fights seen nowadays have been carefully crafted and practiced for weeks. Two sword fighters today have trust in each other to follow the scripted fight for each other's safety and they have a set of hand signals to communicate in the middle of a fight. This aspect is what first connected PR and journalists to sword fighting. Today, journalists and PR practitioners have realized the mutual dependence they have with each other. Relationships formed between these two groups need trust in order to function, a trust in factual information and a trust in a fairly presented article. The public may still see that relationship as fighting with harmful intent, but sword fighting has shown me that the real relationship is based on earned trust and friendship.

Constituent Letters - Who really has the voice?

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When looking at the Senators and Representatives that are your voice in the Federal government, many may believe that they have the power.

But in actuality, you are their boss, and they will listen.

As Carey Alexander writes in her article, How To Write To Congress, she states that "Very few people write to a Member of Congress, so the few that do carry a disproportionate influence".

In class we were assigned a Constituent Letter, to write a letter to some political figure that represents us. I had always thought about writing to Congress, but figured I wouldn't be heard or I would make a mistake and seen childish.

Yet with a simple guidelines, crafting a powerful message will get your voice heard, and your desired actions accomplished.

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  • Introduce yourself
  • Be specific
  • Marshall facts
  • Be exceedingly polite
  • Clearly state your request