Author Archives: Texas PRSSA

9/26 Meeting Recap: Striking a Chord

IMG_9985.JPGBy: Leslie Ortega

For our first meeting of the semester, we had a guest speaker from Margin Walker, a live-music promotions marketing company. Matthew Barron started a digital media company to mix digital marketing with creative and experiential marketing, which allowed him attendance at every music festival to take high level pictures for free. This has lead to his current employment at Margin Walker as a creative director. Matthew spoke to Texas PRSSA about experiential marketing and taking a creative approach to advertising.

When taking a creative approach, Matthew emphasized that one-on-one marketing is essential but also said to personalize things and remember to hone in on the audience you want. South by Southwest is one of the biggest events to try out these marketing ideas with big companies going head to head to see who can attract the biggest audience.

Matthew also explained that social media is a 360° appeal because it’s how consumers appraise your company. Digital presence should be a first priority as one represents their company on their social media posts. A great example of this is Wendy’s twitter account as their digital presence is known for their tweets and replies to consumers and other companies.

Lastly, Matthew talked about experiential marketing and creating experiences for your consumers. The epitome of what you give consumers at experiential marketing events is a lasting experience that they can keep forever. Examples of this include limited edition gifts and opportunities, such as hats, posters, and meeting celebrities.

One important thing to remember is that what and who you’re marketing is very important, but make sure to keep your audience in mind when creating these opportunities.


4/18 Meeting Recap: Best Practices for New Business



By: Leslie Ortega


For our final meeting of the semester, Texas PRSSA had Hill+Knowlton Strategies come talk about the steps of acquiring new business within their firm. With over 86 offices in 47 countries, H+K is a full service global strategic firm that helps brands and the public communicate while coordinating with counterparts to pursue global opportunities and campaigns. Here’s a review of their presentation.

First, H+K starts off by finding leads on new business. H+K generates leads through either their website, personal connections, referrals, or even cold calls. After finding these leads, they check to see if this opportunity works with their company by using these 4 objectives:

  • Revenue: making sure their client’s budget is inline with them
  • Relevance: having work examples that can help with the new business or partners with past experience in this field
  • Reputation: is the client company viewed in a positive light?
  • Resources: are there adequate staff and resources to do the work?

If they decide to move forward, H+K schedules a meeting with the client to make sure they tailor to them and start to build a relationship. They have to make sure that they match what they do with what the client is looking for. They also ask questions like why they chose H+K, who they view as their competition and why they issued an RFP (Request for Proposal).  

  • RFP: An RFP typically is a 30-day process but it can vary with each client. A project timeline of a 30-day RFP includes:
    • Day 1: RFP is qualified
    • Day 4: Submit questions
    • Day 10: Written response
    • Day 24: Pitch
    • Day 30: Contract negotiations

Next, H+K gathers research and insights in order to understand the client. This includes finding company profiles as well as information on a company’s board of directors, number of employees, markets they work in and whether they’ve been in the news lately. H+K uses this research as guideposts to shape creative ideas. They first start off with templates and canned language but these are building blocks, not the final products. No matter how big or small the company is, they make sure to customize ideas to their needs.

After gathering research, it’s time to handpick the team that will be pitching to the client. Roles are assigned to each member based on their past experience or relevance to the new client. H+K makes sure to know the team they’re pitching to and where it will be taking place. After collecting this information, the team works on their presentation. Submissions tend to be more text-heavy while pitch presentations more of an emphasis on photos and visuals. Those on the pitch team don’t usually have scripts but rather notes so that they won’t sound too scripted. They also have to be able to read people in the room – it’s important that the client connects with the pitch team.

If they win the account, H+K starts working with other agency partners to help the company. If they don’t win the account, they take steps to find out why and how to prevent losing the next one. It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your pitch team, so asking for feedback afterwards is necessary. Most companies feel comfortable sharing what they didn’t like about the pitch, which makes it easier to improve and grow the company.


Announcing Our 2017-18 Executive Board!

(From left to right) Madeleine Markson, Carina Torres, Leslie Ortega, Chloe Mark, Komal Charania, and Shannon Switzer (Not pictured: Alexa Lewis)


By: Alexa Gonzaga


As the school year draws to a close, it is now time to pass the baton to next year’s Texas PRSSA executive board! Congratulations to our newly elected officers – we can’t wait to see what the next year brings.


  • President: Chloe Mark
  • VP of Operations: Komal Charania
  • VP of Public Relations: Leslie Ortega
  • VP of Special Events: Carina Torres
  • VP of Membership: Madeleine Markson
  • VP of Professional Development: Shannon Switzer
  • National Conference Committee Chair: Alexa Lewis



How to Get Career-Ready in College

By: Alexa Lewis

On top of studies and extracurriculars, college students often feel pressure to heavily network with professionals in the industry in order to have jobs soon after graduation. This is important, but something else to focus on is how to make the transition from college to career less stressful.

Here are a few tips to help:

  1. If you know what field you want to work in, start working on your own media contact list. 

    Often, one of the first tasks PR professionals and interns are assigned is creating and updating media contact lists. A way to make this task easier beforehand is to start following the social media accounts of different reporters, bloggers, and influencers in the field you want to work in or in the field you’ve secured a job in. By doing this, you’ll get a feel for the kind of work they do and the kinds of stories you can pitch to them.

    And, you’ll save a lot of time researching these contacts and impress your bosses. 😉

  2. Stay up-to-date on industry trends.

    Going into a new job or internship can be scary, but if you’re up to date on the industry’s trends, you’ll know what kinds of things you’ll be focusing on at work and know some of the obscure terms people are using. Being informed is key.

  3. Learn to use different software.

    This includes DropBox, the Google Suite, and Photoshop and Illustrator. Knowing how to use these programs will give you a leg up on competition at interviews and will make your future job a lot easier if you don’t have to get over the hump of actually learning the programs when you need to use them.

  4. Write, write, write.

    Having a good amount of writing samples will make applying for jobs SO much easier. As we know, most, if not all PR job and internship applications require writing samples. Being able to pick the best one out of several will be much easier having to write a new one (and a better option than using the same albino squirrel news story as everyone else). Additionally, having a blog or website where you keep all of your writing filed away will help in the long run, as us PR people write a lot (like, a lot) in our careers.


3/21 Meeting Recap: Weekend Language

By: Tiffany Lin

As innate storytellers, Weekend Language is our default when we are out of the office, two days out of every week. Andy Craig, Principal at Elevator Speech Inc., came in to talk to us about weekend language and how we should use our default setting in any professional setting.

On the weekends, we tell stories to our friends, families or even strangers. If the story is good, our audiences tell our stories to their friends, families and strangers to them, which is communication nirvana. Companies want that same effect in journalists and consumers.

When we are placed in front of cameras, we tend to switch to our more “business” side and use the most ridiculous language to sound more professional. Questions like “What do you do” and “What’s going on these days” become the hardest to answer. Interviewees have a difficult time boiling down everything they know into one to two sentences. The downside to complicated language is it turns audiences away, which is bad for business. These same questions translate to “Tell me about yourself” in an internship or job interview setting and how you answer them can greatly impact the end result.

Craig then introduces us to what he calls Magic Words. Magic words like “Imagine… For example… Think about it this way” help translate, summarize, and illustrate your knowledge and experience to your audience to the point where they a) understand and b) care about what you’re talking about. Analogies and metaphors can also do the trick; they are tweetable and relatable. Journalists love them. Next, Craig shows us how we can build a narrative through the lead, story and language.

Firstly, how do you find your lead? Creating your lead is not focused on who, what, when, why and how. It is the entire point of the passage and pulls people in. Journalists have two tasks: report and write. No reader is going to care about all the research journalists have done or how well they have written it if it doesn’t relate to them at first glance. The same thing applies when trying to obtain your next internship or job: find what the interviewer or company cares about and start with that.

The story is the second piece in the narrative puzzle. Anyone can walk down a resume but telling a cohesive story that explains your skills and what you actually did during your time at the internship is what will really grab your interviewer’s attention.

Lastly, the more conversational your language is, the better. Companies typically want to include as much fancy jargon and claims as they can like “leading provider.” But these meaningless words can often chip away at the company’s credibility, and these words can do the same to you when in an interview. Speaking a bunch of complicated words doesn’t mean you are communicating.

Weekend Language helps companies reach their audiences and can help you get your next internship or job — your narrative is what sets you apart.


3/7 Meeting Recap: Illustrator 101

By: Gracyn Green

This week, PRSSA’s creative director Mallie Rust stopped by to give a quick tutorial on Adobe Illustrator! In the world of creative and public relations, Illustrator is a valuable tool to be familiar with. Here are some quick tips and tricks to get you started.

The Selection and Direct Selection Tool
The selection tool is like the home button on an iPhone. You will generally refer back to this action quite often while creating your Illustrator masterpiece, as it selects and moves objects. The direct selection tool, however, is used to select and move anchor points, lines, and used to adjust Bézier curves.

Choosing Colors in Illustrator
Color can be considered a make or break factor in your Illustrator creation as it is one of the first things your audience will see. Because of this, you need to stay ON BRAND. This means that you should generally stick with the color your organization identifies with – PRSSA, for example, identifies with navy. (Hence why our shirts are this lovely shade of blue.)

Each color has a unique, identifying code, called a Hex code. Generally, if your organization has a specific color they identify with, they should have a Hex code. If you’re not sure, ask.

Mallie pro tip – get a Style Guide. A style manual, or style guide, is a set of standards for the design of documents, signage, and any other form of brand identifier. The reason for their existence is to ensure complete uniformity in style and formatting wherever the brand is used to ensure no dilution of that brand.

Control Z is Your Best Friend
One of the best ways to get familiar with Illustrator is to explore on your own! Click different commands, try out different color combinations and options to create something out of this world. If you don’t like it, no worries – control z will have your back every time.

Also, if at any point you want to get rid of a design choice, click on the box with the red diagonal line in the alternate color drop-down menu.

If you want a more tutorial based, outlined guide of how to use Illustrator, ask Lynda. Lynda is an online database for courses, training, and tutorials in business, technology, and creative skills – FREE for all UT students. Expert instructors teach you all about Adobe Illustrator: how to work with layers, create infographics, trace artwork, and use the application’s powerful drawing tools to create vector art like a pro. Lynda’s Illustrator tutorials range from beginner to advanced.