A Semester with Sonnhalter

Interning in Public Relations

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Posts Tagged ‘Sonnhalter’

The Short and Easy Blog, Micro-blogging

Posted by sonnhalter on March 13, 2009

twitter-logoRecently, the Web has been flooded with the uproar of Twitter. It seems to be the new hot item in social media and has been featured all over the news. I have been on Twitter for about a year and I am addicted! I have not ventured into other micro-blogging sites other than Twitter but the concept of micro-blogging really fascinates me. Here is everything I know about micro-blogging and Twitter!

What is micro-blogging?

Micro-blogging is a form of blogging that allows users to send short updates from about 140 – 200 characters (depending on what site you use) to other users. Micro-blogging is more topical than blogs and less strict on what you talk about always. It can be more portable because the texts are shorter and can be managed through a variety of devices (like cell phones). Also, some micro-blogging incorporates video or audio clips into the messages.

I think micro-blogging has really caught on because it is quick. You only can write 140 characters easily and quickly and you can also read 140 characters quickly. You can see what people are talking about, what the hot topics are, and what is going on in people’s lives in a matter of seconds. In today’s busy world this is an ingenious idea. Micro-blogging can also be more casual. You might micro-blog with someone you wouldn’t e-mail, IM or text normally allowing users to expand their networks and learn information they may not have had the opportunity to otherwise.

Now my expertise is in Twitter so let me explain what I know about the site. twitter1

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a micro-blogging site which allows users to answer the question ‘What are you doing?’ for followers (those who have signed up to receive the updates) in 140 characters or less. These updates are known as ‘tweets.’ Updates are displayed on the user’s and followers profile pages. You can personalize the site by uploading a picture of yourself, adding a short line of information about yourself, and personalizing your homepage format.

What can you do with Twitter?

Now from a personal view twitter is just a short way to keep in touch with friends and to share ideas but it can be so much more. Twitter is used by almost every major person and organization out there from President Obama to Dell Computers.

Businesses have really begun to understand how Twitter can help make an impression and help grow their customers and business. I really like this case history for how to use Twitter. It is for bbgeeks a small company that owns a Blackberry related Web site. When a business’s name is known like Dell it is easy to get followers on Twitter but when you have to build your name on the network it becomes a challenge. Bbgeeks was very successful in doing this and they lay out how they did it step by step.

Tips on being successful on Twitter:

  1. Update on a regular basis
  2. Tweets should be helpful and useful to your followers
  3. Reply to people, engage in conversation with other people
    1. Retweet when you can (posting someone else’s tweet)

Ex: @reply RT: The message!

  1. To be followed, you must follow (at least at the beginning)
  2. Make it about what you are personally interested in
  3. Have fun with it!

Tips for a business account on Twitter:

  1. Be Professional
  2. Monitor keywords (tweetscan or tweetbeep)
  3. Reply in a timely fashion
  4. Remember it is about engaging the customers not shooting out self promoting information
  5. Design the page for the company

Some other micro-blogging sites:

  1. Pownce
  2. Tumblr
  3. Jaiku
  4. MySay
  5. Moodmill
  6. Hictu
  7. Frazr
  8. IRateMyDay
  9. Emotionr

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Social Networks Offer Great Opportunites Beyond Making Friends

Posted by sonnhalter on December 18, 2008

socialnetworks1Most people, especially people my age, think of social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, as places to just make friend connections. While this is definitely true, these networks can be utilized in so many other ways also.

Connections beyond your friends

One of the really valuable elements of social networks is the ability to connect with people in your profession without ever having to leave your house. There are professional groups, pages, causes, etc. for every topic imaginable and now a days you can find most people with an account, including professors and professionals.

When I was working on the “Do It Now” campaign for a class a few semesters ago, I went on Facebook and became ‘friends’ with other people working on the same campaign in different states. I became connected with people across the nation who had participated in the same project and could help me with it. I was also able to join many groups that supported our cause and get opinions on the topic from a broader audience. These ties were vital to our work; two of our main tactics were developed from the connections made through the social network.

Meet the professionalstotalpercentages

Most professionals have caught onto the social networking wave and have made accounts for themselves. I am ‘friends’ with both my professors and co-workers on Facebook and Twitter advisors, professors and some people.

First, by doing this you really get to know a person. My professors who update their page or status often are seen in a completely different light now. Making connections with my professors on Facebook has made me feel more connected with them. Because I can read their interests and opinions online I haven’t been as intimidated by them in the classroom.

When I started at my internships becoming friends with my co-workers online helped me connect better with them in person. You can find things in common even though you don’t have the time to get into extensive conversations during work hours. I felt like it really helped me feel more part of the team.

It can help you learn an organization

Social networks can help you learn about an organization too. A lot of organizations have taken advantage of Web 2.0 and have Facebook pages or MySpace accounts, where people can find information about the organization.

Before I applied for my internship with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, I went online and checked out its Facebook page. Komen is a great example of an organization taking advantage of social networking. They utilize about every tool available to them and as I discovered when I started working there, have someone monitor Web 2.0 and update their various elements.

On Facebook alone, they have a pink ribbon application, causes within the cause application, several pages, Facebook accounts and several groups. All the elements are updated and each has received an enormous response from users.

I was able to learn a lot about the organization before I even accepted the internship and was ‘friends’ with several employees before I ever met them in person.

So next time you browsing your social network of choice, keep in mind how you can use it to your advantage professionally.

I do want to make a note that I am specifically talking about just social networks that are typically used for friend connections not professional networks like LinkedIn.

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Why Blog?

Posted by sonnhalter on November 25, 2008

blog-to-blogLike I mentioned in my last post, I attended the PRSA Cleveland Chapter Student Day Luncheon a week or so ago when SONNHALTER sponsored a table at the event. The overall idea for the day is wonderful as I have already expressed. Networking is crucial to any young professional but I did not attend the event as a young professional trying to network. In fact I was only there for the luncheon/lecture portion of the day.

Ed Garsten, keynote speaker.

The speaker at the luncheon was Ed Garsten, manager, electronic media communications for Chrysler LLC. He discussed Chrysler’s application of social media.

I found his presentation to be very interesting because he focused on many types of social media that I use myself. Including blogging, Twitter, Facebook to just name a few.


His main focus was on blogging. First, he talked about several blogs that Chrysler has set up allowing them to reach many different audiences. Now blogging is becoming something I can relate too. This blog is the second blog I have written. The first has died off because I went to Italy the semester after I started a blog for my PR online class.

While listening to him I was reminded of some the pointers that my professor gave in class. Garsten outlined several tips on how to write an effective blog.

Blogging Tips

  1. Be transparent
  2. Set goals and objectives for your blog and stick to them
  3. Establish a voice for the blog and make it conversational
  5. Your goal is to make it interactive

These are pretty basic tips but they will make a world of differences in your blog’s success. Linking is by far the most important piece of advise in my opinion. Link to other blogs (that is one of ways a blog is ranked, so it is very important) and link to sites. Make sure you tag your blog also, so it shows up in searches. When you get the attention it won’t take long for it to become interactive and as long as you have certain objectives and you stick with them, you will keep your followers.

Check out one of Chrysler’s blogs:


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Networking It’s Worth the Effort

Posted by sonnhalter on November 14, 2008

handshakeIn college and in high school my professors, teachers and my parents have stressed the importance of making good connections. You will have an easier time getting into a program if you know the head of it. You will do better in classes if you make a point of getting to know the professors. And you will have a better chance of getting a job if you know someone in the office or have made a connection with the company in some way.

This was stressed even more for me today when I had the chance of attending PRSA’s Cleveland chapter Student Day. The event is open to college students who are majoring in some sort of communication and are interested in PR and in networking with professionals.

SONNHALTER sponsored a table at the event and I was lucky enough to attend and see the professional side of the event rather than the student side.

The Importance of Networking

PRSA’s Student Day invites professionals for a portion of the day so the students can interact with them and begin the networking cycle. Professionals get the benefit of meeting potential interns or employees. This is so important especially in today’s economy and job market.

I have always been told that jobs are obtained through word of mouth and that can be a hard truth. Hundreds of resumes are sent for open positions and what will make you stand out? Most likely your resume looks very similar to everyone else’s. Some pointers for an effective cover letter and resume.

The scenario can be very different if you have met with the firm. Student day offers students a chance to stand out. If you want to work at a particular firm, going to a networking event where they will be represented is a great idea. You can spend lunch chatting with the employees and possibly the boss from the company and showing them that you are more than a list of college accomplishments. Now when they receive your resume and your cover letter (that, of course, mentions the enjoyable time you had with them at the networking event) you are no longer just another name on the page but a person they can remember and relate too.

Find Other Ways to Meet People

It can be really hard to find these opportunities but you can easily start by checking with the local chapter of PRSA or if your campus has a PRSSA branch on their campus. If you can’t find a networking event or can’t find someone you wish to meet, with go straight to the source. Call the company you are interested in, and ask if you can shadow a professional or see if you can come in for a tour. This can take you very far in your professional career.

And FYI: Do this with other aspects of your life. Before you apply for college or grad school tour it and see if you can meet with a professor in your desired major and students in the courses. Always make it a point to go out there and meet people. You never know when that connection will help you later.

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Posted by sonnhalter on November 4, 2008

b2bBusiness-to-business is a term I wasn’t always very familiar with. I had heard it in school, mostly in my marketing classes, but never really understood it. In my PR classes, we mostly worked with nonprofit organizations so I didn’t get to tap into this aspect.

Now that I am at SONNHALTER though, I am getting to tap into this segment of the field and understand it in its entirety. SONNHALTER is a marketing communication firm that specializes in business-to-business communications.

What is B2B:

Now to tell you the truth, when I read on SONNHALTER’s Web site that they specialized in business-to-business I had to look up what that meant. (So I knew for the interview and see what I was trying to get into.) This is more or less the definition I found,

Business-to-business or B2B is when to an organization facilitates the sale of products or services to other companies.


What is PR’s Role:

PR plays a role in this like any other type of business. But there are some distinct differences that I have noticed.

The one thing you must get use to is writing for another business. Now you are probably saying, DUH, that’s a given. And yes it is, but it is something that takes getting use to. This is the first time I have had to write for a public that was another organization or business. In the past all my target audiences have always been part of the general public, not another organization.

This changes the writing style. You’re writing for someone who is very educated on the topic and knows all the organizations and organizations products out there. This makes things more competitive and makes your message more competitive. Trade magazines come into play here (read my post about trade magazines).

There are many aspects of each sector of PR and I only know a limited amount about some but I love discovering and learning the new facets of PR!

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How to Write for Trade Magazines

Posted by sonnhalter on October 17, 2008

During my time as a PR student I have had to write for lots of different publications. Most required a different style. I had to adapt for online writing verses newspaper writing and etc. etc.  but in the last month (which just happens to be how long I have been at SONNHALTER) I have had to learn how to write for trade magazines because SONNHALTER is a business-to-business marketing communication firm.

Now this is something completely new to me. None of my classes or past experiences included this medium and like before there is a certain style to this writing, which I have had to adapt to.

What I have learned about writing for Trade Magazines:

1. Cut the fluff. All that wonderful PR training on how to hype up your story will go to waste here. Just stick with what the release is about and keep to the information.

2. Be specific. State the facts and in the case of what I have been writing, the specs of each product. The release should be useful and have the information.

3. Don’t forget your basics. It should still be clear and concise. It should be newsworthy and relevant. It should be well written. Make sure you don’t forget all those fundamental things you learned in your first news writing class.

4. Don’t sweat the time! Don’t stay over on Friday to finish up that press release because guess what, it probably doesn’t matter! Trade magazines don’t present the same type of news that newspaper, radio, TV, etc. do and the timeliness factor is removed from their news. You can have weeks to get them a press release so take your time and enjoy the weekend!

Learning to adapt my writing and being able to present examples of all different writing styles has been so beneficial to me. Like I said in my last post I have had to endure lots of red ink but the payoff has been worth it.





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Posted by sonnhalter on October 3, 2008

So the fun begins, but I warn you this first post is going to be a bit introductory to me and my experience. For all of you who didn’t read the “About the Intern” section, I will take a moment and introduce myself. My name is Anastasia (Ana) Duller and I am currently the Fall PR intern at SONNHALTER a marketing communications firm in Berea, Ohio.

I will be recording my time and experiences with SONNHALTER through this blog and the next intern at SONNHALTER will take over after me. I am sure each intern will have a different objective for this blog but one of my goals is to help other PR students who are conducting or looking for internships.

Before my first internship, I was terrified and did not know what to expect. Most students don’t know what the employers are going to expect and have no idea if they are capable of all those things learned in class. I brought every one of my PR books to my first internship, convinced I would forget everything I ever knew, including how to write a simple press release!

My Suggestions:

First, breathe.

Second, you will surprise yourself with how much you do know and can do.

Third, take the criticism. Listen to it and learn from it and try not to repeat mistakes.

I have interned and worked with very different organizations. During school, I worked with non-profits that had very limited budgets and lots of constraints. My first internship was with Susan G. Komen for the Cure Headquarters. Although it was a non-profit, it was the national headquarters and ran more like a large business. Right now, I am interning with SONNHALTER, which is a marketing communications firm that specializes in business-to-business communications.

Each of these organizations operates differently and each offered me something I had never experienced before and I have needed guidance throughout each. But that is what an internship is for; you are supposed to be learning from professionals. My work has been torn apart and given back to me and I have learned to accept that as inevitable.

When I started at Komen I didn’t know how Komen wanted to present their message and the same happened at Sonnhalter. I had to learn the organizations language and writing style and that takes time and lots of red ink!

To wrap up my first post I want to encourage all students to seek an internship and not to let fear get in their way. It is a learning experience and you are expected to make mistakes so learn to embrace them, just remember to learn from them also!

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