Four Essentials I Learned from the Portland Paddle

On Friday,  April 27, I had the opportunity to participate in the Portland Paddle with 16 public relations students. When I told people what I was doing that Friday they thought I was crazy for wanting to go boating at this time of the season.

The Portland Paddle is an annual event organized by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) and Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

Each year the Portland Paddle provides the opportunity to meet with public relations professionals. During the short practice interview, students receive tips on how to present their portfolios, how to give an effective interview, and how to write resumes and cover letters that stand out.

Public relations professionals from Edelman Worldwide, Lane PR, AM: PM PR, Public Relations Institute Inc., CFM Strategic Communications, DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, MacKenzie Marketing, Nokes Communications Inc., and Kimball Brand Marketing were all present at the event.

Along with the insights I have gained from speaking with Pat McCormic and Deston Nokes, I learned four essential tips for success in the public relations industry.

1.    Have an online platform, whether it is a blog, portfolio or both.

“Keeping a blog is important; it is an exercise of writing for value.” – Pat McCormic.

A blog allows the reader to have a digital relationship with someone on a human level. It serves as a good tool that captures an audience and allows the blogger to receive feedback.

Maintaining a blog and online portfolio gives employers a sense of who a person is. These online platforms also effectively measure passion by showing online involvement through participating in discussions and engaging in current topics.

2.    Have strong writing skills.

People who write well are assets to the public relations world because they know how to write strategically. The ability to sort subjects from the most significant to the least is a valuable skill to develop as a public relations professional.

3.    Use the cover letter as a way to tell a story.

Cover letters should be written in a way that escapes what is conventional. The cover letter should emphasize why you should be considered and should show what makes you different.

Be sure to mention skills that increase your return on investment (ROI), but don’t restate everything on your resume. The cover letter is a piece of information that makes the employer want to read your resume.

4.    Employers have values that they expect you to follow through with.

After you are hired for a company, you are expected to meet the standards of your employer. Some values that companies may have are

  • Deliver what you promise to do
  • Be punctual
  • Be on time
  • Slow down and be thorough

“It is important be relatable in our industry. The best way to start is online.”– Deston Nokes.

Young Social Media Guru Shares Tips for Excelling in Public Relations

Dana Lewis- Swedish


The power exuded in a presentation does more than inform, it can spark new found inspiration.

I listened to Dana Lewis speak during a PRSSA meeting on April 4, and her presentation did exactly that.

After the experience she exercised during her years as an undergraduate at the University of Alabama, her hard work has contributed to Lewis’ success as the Interactive Marketing Specialist at Swedish Medical Center. Lewis works on digital and social technologies for the company while managing the Swedish blog.

Her presentation varied from talking about how Swedish started, how Swedish used social media to cater better to its patients, explaining that social media isn’t what we think it is, and discussed that social media isn’t always external.

However, Lewis drew my attention deeper when she said: “What most people don’t realize and what you should take away from is the importance of building relationships in the community.”

Key Elements for Good Relationships:

  • Be present
  • Listen
  •  Engage

Furthermore, contributing content to the conversation is equally as important as listening because both elements contribute to developing more skills.

Lewis than stressed the importance of being a part of a community because we are essentially the only people limiting ourselves. Dana Lewis is a perfect example of a PR professional who has exceeded limits by expanding from solely Alabama PR Professionals to Healthcare Professionals in general.

Relationships and channels built can also be helpful during challenging situations. According to Lewis, the three components of a challenge are time, fear, and lack of confidence.

These three components strike close to home for me because once my week starts, I feel like every second is crucial and that I should be spending it productively. Sometimes I feel I don’t have enough time, which causes a struggle in completing everything that has to be done on my list of things to do.

Nevertheless, Lewis mentions that, “A little time invested goes a long way. Make sure everything you do is strategic.” It is important to organize time in a way that is beneficial to your future actions.

Another element that sometimes discourages me is fear. I think about the what if’s, and grow discouraged at what I lack compared to others. However, Lewis reassured me that a continuous education is key in overcoming fear. Fear is also important because it builds confidence and the persistence to persevere.

Dana Lewis definitely left a permanent mark in my mind with her closing statements. She emphasized that it takes a village to build success, so collaborating is crucial. As individuals we are the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of our ambitions and we shouldn’t let others tell our story.

“Read. Learn. Rinse. Repeat.”-Dana Lewis


Hello, everyone, and welcome to my blog!

My name is Bianca Bernath and I am a public relations major at the University of Oregon. Although I created this blog for my Strategic Public Relations Communication class, I intend on updating it after the class ends. My blog will focus on how to effectively use social media and other resources to become well informed on how to be successful in the public relations industry. Furthermore, it will emphasize hot topics in public relations, new social media techniques, the importance of networking, public relations career advice, ethical public relations dilemmas, and other interesting PR topics. Thus, with the goal of spreading knowledge of public relations through my blog, I am anxious to dive into the blogosphere and grow along the way.

Thanks for reading, and look forward to stimulating further discussion with you!

“Being in PR is like being at a cocktail party. You have to be a good conversationalist.” -Dianne Danowski