My favorite public relations event I went to in college was Public Relations Career Jumpstart, hosted in Seattle every year by the Puget Sound PRSA Chapter. PR Jumpstart 2010 is coming up soon, and if you’re a student or recent graduate looking to work in public relations and within driving distance of Seattle, you should definitely go. It’s on Saturday, April 3, at Seattle University.
A couple of months ago, I decided I needed to do some public relations for myself as a teacher. After having problems motivating the students in one of my classes, my Chinese friends suggested that I make myself seem like more of a friend to the students. I signed up for the most popular instant messenger client in China, QQ, specifically to communicate with students at my university. I also think this is a nice contact information alternative to my phone number, which many students I meet at campus events ask for.
Since February of 2009, three of my fellow graduates from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication‘s public relations program have all begun teaching English in South Korea. All three students were interested in international cultures while in college and active in public relations on campus, specifically the Oregon Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. I felt the phenomenon was worth blogging about and interviewed them for this post.
BJ: I think my journalism degree has definitely helped in terms of being an effective English teacher. I am confident in my writing and comprehension of grammar, which were both fine-tuned in the J school. I also think that my leadership roles on campus contributed to my teaching abilities. Classrooms — especially kindergarten classrooms — are dynamic places that present unique and often challenging situations. A teacher has to be flexible yet maintain control and respect. It’s not easy, but my college experience prepared me in ways I never expected.
What do you want to do after your contract is up (if you know)?
Nciku is a Web site worth blogging about. It’s a popular site for native English speakers learning Mandarin and vice versa. I’m highlighting what I view as their excellent Web development efforts, public relations efforts, and a little bit of both.
Web development efforts:
- A dictionary with Chinese character handwriting recognition
- Abilities for users to add vocabulary words and sample conversations to the site as well as ask each other language-related questions
- Personal vocabulary lists that the site automatically updates every time a user looks up a new word
Public relations efforts:
- Participation in popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter
- An accurate, succinct, catchy core message: “More than a dictionary.”
A little bit of both:
- A blog that people actually want to read daily
- An on-site social network
- Multiple levels of involvement for users to choose from (kind of like President Obama’s online election campaign headquarters)
How did I find out about Nciku? Someone on a Facebook group for my university’s Chinese-language students recommended it as a good online dictionary, specifically mentioning its hand-drawing tool. I’ve been using it as my primary Chinese-to-English dictionary ever since, and have recommended it to a few friends, who are happy with it as well. Nciku’s public relations efforts would be fruitless if it wasn’t a Web site that satisfied its users.
Image taken from Nciku.com without permission
Humans have a psychological need to feel like a part of a group of people like them, a need that Robert D. Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone, The Collapse and Revival of the American Community” argues is disappearing in the United States. Part of the reason people do things like go to art gallery openings and conferences is not just to learn something new, but to be around people who share their passions.
- MyBO – Part of Barack Obama’s campaign, allowed users multiple levels of involvement
- ArtReview.com – Built by a magazine called Art Review using Ning. The site makes it easy to read the magazine through it, but most of its content is art lovers interacting with each other.
- MINI Space – Built by MINI for young, urban professionals in art, design and fashion. The branding connection is these people maximize small spaces creatively the same way MINI cars do.
I just read “A New Framework for Building Participation in the Arts“, which offers interesting research insights into arts participation strategy, mostly for nonprofit arts institutions in the United States in a variety of artistic genres.
- They suggest that “building art partipication” is the new word for “audience development.” Audience development implies that people only participate in art via attending live performances or visiting exhibitions. They define art participation to include hands-on, such as making a sculpture or playing a musical instrument; through media, such as watching an opera on television; and live attendance.
- More people in the U.S. attend live performances every year than sporting events.
- On a macro scale, the crossover effect is a myth. An amateur ballet dancer is not much more likely to attend a live ballet performance than a non-dancer, and someone who attends ballet performances is not much more likely to attend concerts than someone who doesn’t attend either.
- I already knew that education was a huge factor in determining arts participation, but I didn’t know it was the single most important factor.
- Art managers need to make their product accessable via media to people with flexible and unpredictable schedules. Three quarters of people in the U.S. consume art through media.
- Opportunities for art enthusiasts to interact with each other and be part of groups of other art enthusiasts fulfills a major psychological need in U.S. society.
- Unless you have way more resources than a typical nonprofit art organization, it’s pretty hard to simultaneously deepen, broaden and diversify your audience.
- In order to get why people with more education in and experience with art enjoy it, think about the analogy to sports. People are much more likely to enjoy a baseball game if they know the rules and background about the players, and they usually go for the first time with a family member or friend who invites them.
Jessica Lomelin interviewed me on my experience working in China for a blog post, which was mentioned to a large lecture full of International Communication students at the University of Oregon. Jessica and I got to know each other last year from working in the same groups in two of our public relations classes and serving on the Executive Board of the University of Oregon Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapter together. She’s now a team assistant at the Seattle office of Weber Shandwick. You can read the post on her blog here. For those of you behind the Great Firewall of China, I’ve copied and pasted the full text below:
I’ve become someone fascinated with Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, located about a five-minute walk from my work and known as the first non-profit art organization in China. Here’s a copy of its press release on changing chief curators, followed by the English version from Google Translate. The translation’s definitely not perfect, but you get the idea.
Please press release issued 20080513
You Lunsi Chief Curator of Contemporary Art Center, Qin, deputy director of the source will carry out his resignation and an independent curator career, Guo Xiaoyan successor as the center’s chief curator
You Lunsi Contemporary Art Center curator of the UCCA杰罗姆桑斯announced that Deputy Director and Chief Curator Qin source will leave the Arts Centre. From the opening date, Qin source for a non-profit organizations that provide a crucial contribution and efforts, and building a comprehensive Juju highly professional team of art for art center in China’s development and success of planning a series of exhibitions, Arts education courses, and the related promotional efforts.
You Lunsi left on Contemporary Arts Centre’s decision, Qin said the source of self-originated from his personal career planning considerations. Qin source said: “I hope that the next step can be an independent curator and artist’s identity, with other artists and art institutions work more closely……, I UCCA of work experience, I was invaluable.”
The newly appointed Chief Curator Guo Xiaoyan, as early as You Lunsi before the opening of Contemporary Art Centre (September 2007), then to join the identity of the curator. She Arts Centre will develop into China’s contemporary creative voice market, an important role to play. Guo Xiaoyan have been involved in China’s first folk art museums “on the River Art Gallery” (Chengdu) the establishment and management. In 2002 the Guangdong Museum of Art, “the Guangzhou Triennial” deputy director of the office, planning, planning, organizing many important contemporary art exhibitions and activities, in November 2005 of the second session, “the Guangzhou Triennial” planning one. In 2004, Guo Xiaoyan as Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art in Lyon, France planning “China Year” exhibition.
杰罗姆桑斯 said, You Lunsi Contemporary Arts Centre grateful Qin’s outstanding contribution to the source. In his work done on the basis of Guo Xiaoyan will continue to vigorously develop the arts centre of the arts projects, in-depth and international artistic dialogue.
As an international platform You Lunsi Contemporary Art Center display contemporary art from China as the creative mind would have been extended. In the next few months, the center of a series of art projects will increase cooperation with the Chinese artists of the new project.
You Lunsi Contemporary Art Center is a non-profit integrated arts centre, funded by collectors You Lunsi couples construction, in November 2007 was officially opened. Arts Centre launched, including well-known young artists and the exhibitions, to create a through education, research projects to share the experience of contemporary art platform.
I’ve been in Beijing for about six days and 22 hours so far. The reason I haven’t blogged yet is partially due to technical difficulties, but also because I think it’s wise for me to allow time for me to collect my thoughts before jumping on particular topics because I experience about as much in a day here as I do in a week in the United States.
One topic that is particularly relevant to both my Ning networks, PROpenMic and Considerations: The Art in Marketing is how locals view my major. I was worried that I might face a little workplace discrimination because I majored in neither art nor Chinese. However, I’ve found the opposite is true. Everyone I’ve met has said that public relations is a very good major. My employer’s president remarked that he’s working on a project to open a huge building that will require a lot of public relations work.
My supervisors seem to think my most valuable human capital is in my native English speaking ability, public relations education and internship experience. I’ll eventually become fluent in Chinese by living here, and I can learn about Chinese contemporary art by working here and visiting Web sites my direct supervisor suggests.
Of course, all my friends and colleagues either study at the Central University for Nationalities or work in the fabulous 798 Art Zone, so I can’t speak for the entire Chinese population. However, this country does appear to be undergoing essentially an industrial revolution, which creates an exponential demand for public relations. I learned in my college classes that the public relations major began in the U.S. and is much rarer in other countries.
Do you want to get a job in China? I’d say it’s hard to find a public relations job here unless you have a strong network related to China in your home country. I got mine because my randomly assigned roommate was from Beijing and knew someone who was prestigious within this art community. (So much for all my active networking in college, right?) My friend and former classmate Jessica Lomelin found in her job search that many worldwide firms’ offices prefer to hire locals so they won’t have to deal with immigration processes.
I suggest that you either get involved with your college’s Chinese student group or move here to teach English. One of my friends gets paid 200 Chinese dollars (30 USD) an hour to teach Korean children here full-time. Through these tactics, you’ll develop the necessary network to break into the public relations market. Lastly, make sure people know you want to work here! The day I graduated, I received a job offer out of the blue for an excellent job in China from a student looking to replace himself, which I had to decline because I already had this one. The reason? Pat Curtin, Ph.D., knew I had a strong interest in working in China and referred me to the e-mailer.
Your comments are welcome. What are your experiences looking for and working in jobs outside your home country?
*Note: This is the same post that appeared on my PROpenMic profile’s blog on July 1, 2008.