A Twitter Starter Pack for PR Students

On October 27, 2009, in public relations, by Barbara Nixon

confused twitter birdAre you a public relations student (or recent grad) just getting started using Twitter? It’s usually best to test the waters a bit before you dive in. Try following some (or all) of these people or organizations in my Twitter Starter Pack for PR Students. They all have something in common: they tweet useful or interesting information for people involved in public relations. Read their tweets for a few days before you start tweeting yourself.

You may also want to read these two blog posts I’ve written about Twitter: Choosing Whom to Follow on Twitter: My Strategy and A Twitter Lexicon. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend Prof. Sam Bradley’s College Student’s Guide: Twitter 101.



(PS: Suggestions for other good people for PR students to follow? Please let me know with a comment to this post.)

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How to Study for Final Exams

On April 24, 2009, in Nixon's Classes, by Barbara Nixon

Proving What Was Learned by DennisSylvesterHurd.Last fall, I led a First-Year Experience class for freshmen at Georgia Southern. One of the biggest stresses for freshmen is their first or second round of final exams.

It seemed timely to repost what I shared with them about how to prepare for a final exam.

[Reposted from Making Connections: Facebook & Beyond, November 21, 2008]

Final exams are approaching on college campuses around the world. Finals can be stressful, even for the most prepared students. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

Preparing for the Final

  • Find out what your entire final exam schedule is so that you’ll know how many finals you will have on each day.
  • Prepare a written schedule for yourself indicating when you will study for each test. Leave some time in your schedule for exercise and relaxation, too.
  • If the professor offers a study guide, use it.
  • If the professor offers a review session for the exam, go to it.
  • Know if the final is comprehensive (covering everything since the beginning of the semester or quarter).
  • Find out what kind of exam it will be. You’d study differently for a multiple-choice (Scantron) final than an essay (blue book) one.
  • If the final will be taken online, find out if you have to go to a specific computer lab on campus at a specific time, or if you’ll be allowed to take the final on your own computer. Also find out how many chances you will have to take the final. Assume it’s just one chance unless you hear differently from the professor.
  • If you have your previous exams available, scour the exams for things that you think will be on the final. Flag your notes by highlighting or using Post-It notes.
  • Don’t pull an all-nighter. (Though some people are successful with studying all night and then taking a test with no sleep, I wouldn’t recommend you try it for the first time on a final exam.)
  • Calculate your grades in the class. Determine what score you will need to get the grade you’re hoping for in the class. You may discover that you can’t possibly get an A, no matter how well you do on the final, but to get a B, you only need to get a few questions right.
  • If you’re an auditory learner, record yourself reading your notes aloud, then play the recording back several times. (You can use the free online service Utterli for this; simply register with Utterli and then call your assigned phone number with your cell phone to start the recording.)
  • If the exam is an open-book exam, this does not mean that you don’t have to study at all. In fact, one of the most challenging exams I ever took as an undergrad was an open-book essay exam.
  • ADDED ON NOV 22: Consider creating a detailed Final Exam Battle Plan.

On the Day of the Final

  • Eat a meal and drink water.
  • Don’t overdo it with the caffeine.
  • Know what to bring with you to the final. Do you need a blue book? A Scantron? (And if you need a Scantron, which kind do you need?) A pencil? A pen?
  • Are food and drinks allowed in the classroom where your final will be? Sometimes, the rules are different for exam days than other days.
  • Even if you don’t usually wear a watch, take one with you to the final. It’s unlikely you will be able to look at your cell phone during the final.

During the Final

  • For a paper-based exam, read through the entire final exam before you start answering any questions at all. This way, you will know what you’re facing.
  • If the final is an online exam, find out if you can revisit questions, or if after you click past a question you cannot go back to it again.
  • If you’re using a Scantron and you skip a question to finish later, make sure you’re answering your questions next to the correct answers. (When I took my GRE to get into grad school, I skipped a question on the first page of the booklet, but never skipped a number on the Scantron. When I realized it, I only had 10 minutes to go back and put the answers with the correct questions. Talk about stress!)
  • Keep a close eye on the time you have allotted.
  • Some students benefit from answering the most difficult questions first, while others do better completing all the easier ones. Do what works for you.

After the Final

  • Do not share with other students what was on the final exam. In most universities, this is a violation of the honor code.

Now it’s your turn: What final exam tips do you have to share? Please let us know through your comments below (and also read the 20+ comments on the original blog post).


Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/shaghaghi/73645535/

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My End-of-Semester Rant, Kinda

On April 13, 2009, in public relations, by Barbara Nixon

On my campus, and probably on most campuses, we’re approaching finals time.

If you’re a parent, it means it’s almost time to send off a final exam care package.

If you’re a faculty member, it means even more. Here are a few of my thoughts as the semester winds down.

Students are stressed because “they are so busy.”

Juggling KnivesHINT: Yes, I know you feel busy now. And this is great prep for you when you get into the working world. You’ve known all semester that you have these projects due at the same time. In the world of PR, you’ve got to be ready to juggle. And not just juggling scarves or bowling pins; those are too easy. Think juggling knives while walking on a tightrope over flames. (Isn’t that an awesome graphic? It came from mike r baker‘s website. Check out his other stuff!)

Students are coming to me (usually by e-mail, but sometimes in person or Twitter) asking about what their grades are so far.

HINT: I post everything in GeorgiaVIEW, so this is info that you have immediate access to all throughout the semester. Please don’t wait until the end of the semester to check your progress.

Students (not all, but some) are upset about their grades and seem surprised it’s because they left out big parts of their projects/assignments.

HINT: And this one’s a big one. I give detailed assignment guidelines for all major – and most minor – assignments. I even provide a link to the rubrics for most assignments during the semester. What more can I do to ensure that you know how you will what needs to be included and how you will be graded? (That’s a real question, not a rhetorical one.)

Students follow the advice and guidelines they’ve been given and do extremely well on their assignments. These are the kind of students that employers look forward to hiring.

HINT: It does happen every semester. At least a few people in each class “get it,” and make it all worthwhile for me. If you’re one of these people, THANK U


[NOTE: This post is an updated version from last spring.]

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An Open Note to All of Prof. Nixon’s Students at Georgia Southern University:

We’re almost off and running in our Spring Semester classes at GSU. This semester, I’m teaching two classes; the classes, with hyperlinks to the syllabi, are listed below:

So that we can make the most of this semester, please (PLEASE) take some time to read through the blog posts I’ve included here. I promise you, it will be well worth your time. (How often do professors let you get inside their heads, letting you know their tips for success and their pet peeves?)

Additionally, here are a few more tips:

  • When communicating with me via e-mail (or Facebook), please put your course number (such as PRCA 3339) in the subject line to help me immediately identify who you are and frame your questions or comments. Do your best to write in full sentences, paying attention to standard English grammar and spelling. Always sign your e-mails with your first and last name, as your GSU e-mail address will not make that readily apparent to me.
  • When submiting an assignment in GeorgiaVIEW, always put your last name as part of the file name, and also include your name in the document itself. Papers submitted without your last name as part of the file name cannot earn full credit.
  • Follow me on Twitter, if you really want to get inside my head. (What’s Twitter?)

Let’s make this a great semester together!

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Reposted from Natalie Tindall, Student Advisory Committee for the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS)

Would you like a chance to win a scholarship to attend the NBPRS Conference and Career Fair in Atlanta (November 12-16 2008) –the largest gathering of African American PR Professionals?

The conference will provide four inspiring days of networking, training and honoring those who have paved the way for African Americans in the PR field.

Themed “Real Talk in Tough Times: Communicating for Change,” the conference will offer solutions for the practice of public relations in the economically, socially and politically challenging times society now faces.

Write a 250-word essay about our conference theme – “Real Talk in Tough Times: Communicating for Change.” Tell us how you will make your community better with Real Talk.

Send your completed essay to Dawn.jones@nbprs.org

Limited student scholarships available—All applications must be received by October 1, 2008.

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If Only I’d Known . . .

On May 11, 2008, in public relations, by Barbara Nixon

Back in the dark ages (two years ago), Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications wrote a pair of blog postings about the state of public relations education for undergrads. He wrote about The Trouble with Undergrad PR Programs and Fixing Undergrad PR Programs. Since I teach public relations at Georgia Southern University, this topic piqued my interest. I wondered if his thoughts and research from two years ago still held true today.

If you are a recent PR graduate (or current intern), I’d be quite interested to learn a few things:

  • What’s something you learned in your PR education that you’re applying on a regular basis at work now?
  • What’s something that you wish you had learned more about?
  • And, what’s something that you didn’t really learn anything about in your classes that you’re expected to do on a (fairly) regular basis in your new career in PR?

Comments from recent grads and those who hire recent grads are quite welcome!

Photo titled “graduates” originally uploaded to Flickr by SuzanneK