Posted by: sarawaltemire | June 1, 2011

Goodbye, Portland. Hello, Seattle!

This term has definitely been an amazing experience for me. I proved to myself that I could move to another new city where I know few people and still succeed. The experience also made me realize that I want to move to a bigger city following graduation.

I’m very thankful for the opportunities that living in Portland has given me. I’ve met some great people, refined my networking skills and learned to juggle a lot of different things at once. Working two internships–and three for about a week and a half–was a crazy awesome experience that I probably never would have had if I stayed in Eugene. I know I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work at not one, but two, amazing arts institutions. I’ve gained some great insight from both Literary Arts and Portland Art Museum.

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I do enjoy Portland, but I’ve decided that Seattle is where I most want to live. For that reason, I am moving up there in a week for my marketing internship at King of the Web. I plan to bring a lot of things I learned at all my internships to the company, and I hope to see some significant growth to the website as a result. I know it will be an great learning opportunity working with some brilliant people.

Even though I decided to take a marketing position, I still plan on staying involved with the events community through social media and Meeting Professional International. I was thrilled to learn that I received a full scholarship to attend my first meeting professionals conference in Orland this July.

It’s all been a phenomenal experience, but I am looking forward to taking the next big step in my life with this move. I’m sure it will be a great one for me.

So this is goodbye to Portland. Next time you hear from me, I’ll be living in the beautiful city of Seattle!

Posted by: sarawaltemire | May 31, 2011

A Valuable Lesson

During the course of my term at Literary Arts, I worked very closely with an independent contractor on one of my larger projects. It was a new experience for me because at the other organizations I have worked for, we have done most things in house. Our relationship with this contractor has been bumpy at best. Early on, he exhibited some signs that made me believe the project would not go as smoothly as I had hoped. He was slow to respond to emails and missed deadlines fairly frequently. My job at Literary Arts was very dependent on him completing his part of the work, so over time I began to stress about the situation as deadlines continued to be pushed further and further back.

Despite the difficulties, this situation proved to be a great learning experience for me. I know that not all working environments will be ideal, but this was really my first hands-on experience working with someone who didn’t pull their weight in an office setting. It helped me to develop some important interpersonal skills.

  • I had to be firm yet poised when dealing with him. My negative attitude would have only made the situation worse, but I needed to stand by our deadlines in order to get anything done.
  • I also needed to be very specific in my instructions and make sure every single item on my side was completed so that there was no reason for delays. It’s also a good idea to closely document your work under these conditions.
  • However, the most important skill I fine-tuned was my persistence. When dealing with a frustrating situation, it may seem easier to simply brush it to the side or deal with it later, but when things get difficult its best to face it head on. If you’re not persistent about your needs, a breakdown in communication can occurs, which will only stall things further.
Ultimately, despite the challenges this is likely one of the most valuable lessons I learned this term.
Have you ever had to deal with a similar situation? How did you handle it?
Posted by: sarawaltemire | May 25, 2011

Finding the Perfect Bloggers

For me, one of the interesting aspects of public relations or marketing is the fact that I have the opportunity to learn a little about a lot of different things.

As I said in my last post, I just started a job at King of the Web, and this has required me to research a lot of different types of blogs.  I’m looking for everything from makeup blogs to drag queen blogs, which means I’m being exposed to areas I’m not exactly an expert in. This has created a small speed bump for me…how do I find these people?

As if it isn’t hard enough to find bloggers writing about subjects you know very little about, it’s even harder to find ones who accept guest posts and have a highly interactive audience. So I’ve been trying some different strategies to seek them out:

  •  The most obvious first step is a Google search for the type of blog you are looking for. However, this can be difficult. I’ve found that several of the top sites on Google aren’t actually all that active. Many of them haven’t posted in over a year or two. Some deeper digging can be helpful though.
  • Another option is to ask your Twitter followers what blogs they are most interested in. Many of my followers are into fashion and makeup, so they were a great help for those topics. If you’re following quality people, they are generally willing to help.
  • Once you find one or two good blogs, it becomes a lot easier from there. Blog rolls are usually a gold mine of great resources or that blog may have guest bloggers who lead you down another great path of resources. The people who generally make the blog roll are there because they engage their readers and other bloggers often. For me, this has proven the most effective way of finding quality blogs.
What advice do you have on finding influential bloggers? Does your research follow a particular trajectory?
Posted by: sarawaltemire | May 18, 2011

Post-Grad Internships

Now that my internships have started to wind down I’ve been thinking a lot more about my post-grad plans. Probably one of the  best things I’m going to take away from the Portland Experience program is the confirmation that I really want to move to Seattle. Portland’s a cool city, but Seattle’s definitely more my vibe.

With that in mind, I begun my job search, focusing in Seattle while still keeping my eyes open for the perfect job elsewhere. During this search, I hardly ever came across entry-level event jobs–and very few entry-level marketing ones for that matter. So I changed my strategy a little bit. Although I was hoping to find a full-time job, I decided finding an internship to get my foot in the door somewhere was the best idea for me.

I think this is something important for a lot of graduating seniors to consider for a variety of reasons:

  • The economy hasn’t fully bounced back yet, so we are competing against people with far more experience for a limited number of jobs. I learned that one of the entry level positions I applied for was given to a person with four years experience in the industry. That makes it’s pretty tough for new grads!
  • It’s a good trial period for a company. It can be scary to commit yourself to a new company that you might not know a lot about. An internship gives you the opportunity to test the waters before diving in.
  • If things don’t work out, at least you will walk away with more experience and having worked with a different group of people. In the very least, you built your network and gathered more portfolio pieces.
However, I set some limits for myself that I think are important for other graduating seniors as well.
  • Try to find a paid internship. I’ve put in a lot of effort to get where I am today, and I don’t think I’d be happy not making any money for my work after graduating. Plus, nobody wants to be the one who’s living back at home after graduation. The independence of making at least some money is important.
  • Work as many hours as you can. I would recommend this for any intern, but it’s particularly important for someone who is trying to get hired on at the company. This will make it harder for them to imagine their day to day activities without you. You will also learn a lot more about the organization and better understand the projects you’re working on this way.
  • Ask if the company is looking to hire on the intern at the end of the summer or if it’s common practice to hire the interns. At this point, networking and building strong relationships in the industry is my primary goal for an internship. It’s important to know that there’s potentially a good opportunity at the end of the summer. Your goals are as important as the organization’s.
Ultimately, this change in my thinking paid off. I was offered a full-time internship at a web startup company called King of the Web. It’s going to be a great opportunity where I can learn from people with a lot of experience in Internet marketing, and it has a lot of potential at the end of the summer! Sometimes getting your foot is the door is the biggest challenge to overcome, and an internship is a great way to make a strong impression.
Posted by: sarawaltemire | May 15, 2011

The Importance of Constantly Learning

Earlier today I was reading a great One+ article, Learning How the Brain Learns, about how to adapt conferences to address the right brain more thoroughly. Ironically, this article got me thinking about how important continually learning really is.

As I mentioned in my last post about “underrepresented event jobs,” you know never what you will have to do next in your career. With how quickly new technologies develop, you have to constantly be on top of new products and services in order to keep up with the industry. I read tons of blog posts on how to leverage any number of apps to improve your next event or make something or another easier for your event attendees. Just prior to reading that article on psychology, I was reading one about social networks and another about how to stimulate two-way conversations at events (and that’s just in one issue of one industry magazine). Clearly, every field you work in will have tons of overlap with other fields.

This means that you not only have to stay on top of the trends in your own field, but also on more general trends and news. On the night Osama bin Laden was killed, I saw a instantaneous string of conversation on Twitter about how this would affect travel and hospitality; two industries very closely linked to events. In the midst of it all these consequences hadn’t crossed my mind, but I wasn’t surprised to see that it was an issue people were already talking about.

The best way to stay on top of it all is to read constantly and keep up with conversations on Twitter and LinkedIn with people in and outside of your field. I would also recommend attending events put on by your industry’s professional organizations. You never know when you will stumble across information that can be a game changer for your field or your job.

What do you think are the best ways to stay up to date on industry trends?

Posted by: sarawaltemire | May 11, 2011

The Underrepresented Event Jobs

Last week I have an informational interview at one of my favorite event companies, SH Worldwide, where I got to talk with three employees about their jobs and the event industry in general. Over the course of the conversation, I realized I’ve been looking at the industry fairly narrowly. When people ask me what I want to do I often say special events or meetings. Before Friday, I’d never even thought about fields like transportation or ticketing, which are major fields in the event world.

They were telling me about how one of their projects was shuttling thousands of people to Husky Stadium for ESPN Gameday last season. This is quite a feat considering it was rush hour in Seattle and their stadium is surrounded by water on two sides. They had to coordinate with the city and a major transit company to get the attendees there. Up until this conversation, I had never thought of this as an event coordinator’s job, but as I’ve been learning they do a lot more than just events.

At Literary Arts, we’ve been working on subscription renewals for the 2011/12 Portland Arts & Lectures series. This has involved a lot of promotion, including creating flyers and ads, running Facebook contests, contacting the media and selling people directly at our other events. However, I’ve also gotten to see that there is so much more to ticket sales. It involves a lot of coordination throughout the office in our case because the development department has to make sure they are acknowledging any donations that come in with ticket sales, our box office manager has been trying to help people get better seats without jeopardizing the seats that have already been reserved by past attendees and our marketing department has to track what brings in the most ticket sales. It’s taken a lot of effort, and I’m curious every day to hear what our numbers are.

I’ve learned it’s a much more complicated process than I had ever thought before. It’s definitely opened my eyes to some aspects of the events field I’ve never considered.

Posted by: sarawaltemire | May 7, 2011

Is Bureaucracy a Bad Thing?

Yesterday I had an interview with a small startup web company called King of the Web in Seattle. Almost everyone at the company came from very large organizations like Microsoft, Expedia and Big Fish Games, and the 11-person office was something new to all of them.

During my conversation with one of the employees, I had mentioned that I have never worked in a large office before and that I really enjoyed the culture a smaller company. However, I have noticed some problems with this in the past, and it got me thinking: What’s better? A large bureaucratic organization or a smaller, more fluid organization?

I often hear people complain about interning at non-profits because they don’t pay and can expect a lot out of their interns. But in the small non-profit offices I’ve worked in I’ve gotten some of the most amazing experience I could ever ask for. At March of Dimes, I was responsible for the logistics of five March for Babies fundraising walks and managing a huge team of volunteers the day of the event. Now that I’m at Literary Arts, I’ve been responsible for designing a ton of promotional materials and creating a whole new website for the organization. I’m not sure I would have had these opportunities in a large organization.

Also, at every internship I have been able to define my own position.  I have been able to decide what part of the job I am most interested in (often events) and focus my efforts there.

These have all been great experiences, but there have been some difficulties too. I think in a more established company structure, it’s easier to find out what your role is. There are usually procedures in place for each position and you learn the first day what you will be doing. You could even argue that this structure is more efficient because everyone knows what their function is without having to stumble around for the first few days or weeks trying to figure it out.

Personally, I love working in small offices and the excitement of jumping into a position not knowing what will happen. What kind of organization do you prefer?

Posted by: sarawaltemire | May 1, 2011

What Makes an Engaging Public Speaker

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of hearing Art Spiegelman, the cartoonist and author of Maus, speak about his career and the history of comics. His lecture actually ran twice as long as it was supposed to, but no one in the audience seemed to care. They still loyally laughed at every joke and leaned in fully engaged in everything he was saying. It probably helped that he was speaking to 2,200 literary fans, but the fact that the room was full of Portland natives on the night of game six in the Blazer playoffs made this quite a feat.

I’ve read a lot of articles regarding how to select conference speakers, but I think I learned even more for watching Spiegelman’s talk. Although this event was part of a lecture series, many of his strategies would carry over to a conference audience.

First of all, he was a perfect fit for the audience he was speaking to. Not only is he a Pultizer-Prize winning graphic novelist, but also worked as a comic artist for the New Yorker for over ten years. Before he stepped on stage the buzz of excitement over seeing such a huge literary figure was clear throughout the concert hall.

In addition, he personally exemplified some characteristics that I think define an engaging speaker:

  • His use of humor of impeccable. He spoke for an hour and a half, yet he clearly knew every pause he needed to make for laughter. Even as he had a coughing fit, he used humor to fill the space while he finished coughing. It seemed as though he had prepared for every moment, though not in a way that came across as rehearsed.
  • His passion was contagious. It was clear the whole lecture that he truly loves comics and is an expert on the subject. If you plan on using a speaker for any event, finding a person who can light up a room with a passion for subject is key.
  • He had great visual aids. Though this may have been easier for him because comics are a visual subject, an engaging Power Point that supports what a speaker is saying is vital to keeping the audience’s attention. Most of us are not auditory learners, so using multiple platforms is a must.
  •  He made great use of movement. Although there was a podium set up for him, he spent half of his time walking slowly across the stage. He used his body language to convey his message to a huge audience, and it made him seem even more confident in what he was saying. It was as though he was addressing different segments of the audience independently throughout the lecture. It made it seem much more personal.
However, not everyone has the “star power” of Art Spiegelman. Can you think of subtler ways to engage a large audience?
Posted by: sarawaltemire | April 29, 2011

It’s All Who You Know

This week has been crazy busy for me; I’ve been at a variety of events all week! What struck me at these events was how large of an impact small talk with someone you’ve never met before can make on your life.

The idea that networking is important is obviously not new to me. We learn about it in class, online and from professionals. However, I haven’t had much experience with it personally.

On Monday, I was working at the Oregon Book Awards, an award ceremony put on by Literary Arts every year to celebrate the best in Oregon’s literary and publishing community. I had an interesting opportunity while I was working to watch people network, something I’ve been wanting to do more. It became very easy to identify which conversations were going well by the participant’s body language and facial expressions.

This helped me the next night when I found myself at an Alumni Conversations event hosted by my school’s career center. It was my first networking event, and it proved to be a great experience. This is when I realized just how important first impressions are. I started talking with a man who by the end of our conversation offered to put me in touch with a very important individual in my field. We’ve been in touch several times since and although the women is currently travelling, he is still committed to getting me in touch with her.

During this conversation, there were certain networking tips that really helped me:

  • Maintain eye contact. This may seem like such a simple thing, but a person seems so much more engaged when they are visually focused on a person.
  • Lean into the conversation. To me, this is all about showing confidence. Uninviting body language can really turn people away.
  • Make the conversation about them. People love to share what they do and love. Ask them about themselves before talking about yourself.
  • Remember people’s names. If it’s a fairly lengthy conversation, try to repeat their name once or twice to show that you took the time to remember their name.
These really helped me out, and I hope they’ll help you too!
Can you think of any other networking tips that have worked particularly well for you in the past?
Posted by: sarawaltemire | April 22, 2011

Reaching Hispanic Audiences

In class earlier this week, when we were all discussing what new things we had experience at our internships, I noticed that three of us mentioned working with the Hispanic press.

Hispanics are obviously becoming an important target market. They are the demographic that is likely to grow the most over the next generation. This is not only due to immigration, but also above average birth rates. For example, in Oregon this group makes up 11 percent of the population but they account for 17 percent of the births. (For more great demographic information on Hispanics, check out the Pew Hispanic Center.)

From past research, I’ve learned that many Hispanics are particularly receptive to bilingual messaging, which means marketers, public relations practitioners and advertisers need to be seeking out those types of publications.

However, I’ve noticed in Oregon that this is particularly difficult.  Some don’t have websites, and some of those that do are difficult to find in an English search. Some are bilingual, but others are strictly Spanish publications making it difficult to communicate your message with only an English-speaking staff. However, the biggest problem I’ve encountered is that they don’t always have regular distribution. Most of the newspapers are monthly, but they have been hit particularly hard by the economic crisis and may go two or three months without printing a paper.

From my experiences so far, the Hispanic press in Oregon seems like a difficult group to reach. Luckily, my boss has decided to enlist the help of Lara Media Services, a wonderful Hispanic media company that has helped us phenomenally in reaching this audience. This solution was interesting to me because I’ve noticed that most services, particularly at non-profits, are done in-house. I think there’s a lot of potential for companies that can serve as a middle man between organizations and Hispanic press and communities. It’s an interesting trend in a time when so many companies are downsizing and bringing more and more work in-house. For us it has proven an effective way for building a relationship with members of the Hispanic press we were having a difficult even finding before.

Can you think of other effective ways to reach this audience, particularly from the perspective of a predominately English-speaking organization?

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