a blog by Liz Johnston… just a 20-something PR girl trying to find her way

Archive for October, 2011

The 4 a.m Wake Up Call

I love to sleep. Honestly, it is one of my favorite things to do.  It’s hard to beat that warm cozy feeling of your own bed on a cold fall morning. Some mornings, I would describe it as magical. However, I’m not always affordable those amazing morning fuzzy feelings. Sometimes, work demands my presence at 4 a.m.

Early mornings feel like an alternate universe. In the time between bars closing and the sun rising, this fog-like feeling envelops the morning. Quiet is what is is. Extremely quite and peaceful, to the point of it being eerie.

Not for everyone though!

There is the small group of people who thrive in early mornings, who live off the adrenaline of a 3-2-1 live countdown – the early morning TV hosts. Such energy, such wit and at such an early time. I don’t know how they do it. Mind you, I am sitting in a freezing arena. Literally, the floor is ice, and these hosts are skating around, being joyous and perky, waking people up with a smile.

I’m usually one of those people and thoughts of my warm bed haunted my mind that morning, but you can’t deny the excited of my first early morning PR event.


My First Award, Kind Of.

Those in the PR world know of the national organization, PRSA – the Public Relations Society of America. As a student, I have been apart of PRSSA – with the extra S standing for Student. What is great about both PRSA and PRSSA are the opportunities to meet and mingle with fellow PR practitioners.

This past Thursday, I went to the  PRSA Portland Chapter Spotlight Awards. This is was first PRSA event, and I was there representing my agency. I was excited to be at the event, yet, nervous because I was not just representing me, but my agency as well. No one from the agency’s PR team was able to attend, and being nominated for awards, I went on behalf of the team.

The event was awesome, to say the least. It was held at Nike in Beaverton, which being there, is an experience in itself. It was only a little bit awkward when my bosses name was called to accept the awards and I stood up instead. People were clapping and congratulating me, and I walked up in front of the banquet hall, shook hands, took a picture and sat down. Fun, but awkward.

There is a first time for everything, and that was pretty awesome.

My Personality – Exposed.

Hi, I am a ESTJ. Not sure what that means, let me tell you.

Before I dive into the deep crevasses that define who I am, let me begin with saying I don’t, and never will, trust personality tests. I refuse to believe that there is a test for such a thing – my personality. My personality can change from day to day. Spend some time with me and I dare to try and even begin to define the type of person I am. My friends and family are still trying.

But, back to the matter at hand, my four letters: ESTJ. These four defining alphabet characters came from the classic personality test derived from the minds of Myers & Briggs. (Check it out, I’ll let you read all the fun history)

E   stands for extrovert – I prefer the outside world

S   stands for sensing – I trust on my senses

T   stands for thinking – I like to be logical

J   stands for Judging – I structure my life

My personality code aligns with 12-to-15 percent of the American population – a segment of the population that, from the outside, doesn’t seem to align with me. I tried Googling “ESTJ famous people” and in turn was shows a list of presidents – including George W. Bush. If you knew me at all, you would know that I am gagging at the thought of sharing a commonality with that man. Among past american presidents, other famous ESTJ people include the founder of Wal-Mart, an evangelist and a prohibition agent. This would be comical if the thought of being listed with these people weren’t such a  contradiction to who I am. Like I said early, I don’t trust personality tests.

Then the question arises, if I find myself at such odds with those who I supposedly think alike, then maybe I chose the wrong attributes. Nah. If I had to chose, I would be a ESTJ. The majority of my personality aligns with structure, rationality and organization. However, there is a good chunk of crazy in me to balance the rest.

The results of this personality test warn against one’s blind spots, the consequences of being deemed a ESTJ. I’m bossy, hard-headed and don’t put up with bullshit. To be honest, I would rather be all those things as opposed to being a follower, a push-over and gullible. My possible blind spots also include being close-minded, overly rigid, cold and uncaring, as well as being unappreciative.

I found one website, Know Your Type, that actually describes a ESTJ that is me. Here is how the site describes a ESTJ:


The ESTJ was born to manage. They are often seen by others as people they can depend on. They will often volunteer for more work and responsibility than others. The type is also known for a raucous sense of humor.

In love relationships they can be very good at managing emotions to the point of control. Don’t expect a quick courtship out of an ESTJ. They enjoy organizing and planning events and everything has a plan.

Family events and rituals are the symbols of an ESTJ’s cultural heritage; therefore it must be honored with the strictest adherence and most loyal obedience.


The ESTJ is a fixer of broken things and also believes in doing the job right. ESTJ’s believe in being ‘company men’ and give their loyalty in expectance of the company working for them. Other popular ESTJ career directions include: Government employee, Auditor, Electrical Engineer, Dentist.


The ESTJ is often viewed as a scholarly student, albeit somewhat mouthy and argumentative. The practical classes that deal in tangible results often appeal to the ESTJ more than those of an abstract nature. The idea of hard work is never far from their core

So what does this mean for me and my career path? I feel like I am pretty well matched. But as I make this transition from student to professional, I need to remember to keep my mouth shut at times. I know I don’t know everything and I know that I have a lot to still learn, but I need to become better at showing that. Sometime I come off too strong. Sometimes, it’s good to step back and just listen. That is something I need to work on.

I said it earlier in this post and I will say it again, I do not believe personalities are fixed. They are always changing. If I did this test when I was 15, I would have diagnosed myself as a ISFJ; shy, emotional and lost without someone telling me what to do.

Time will only tell where my personality will go from here. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up being a ENTP. Stay tuned, folks!


The Senior Experience and Beyond

The Portland Senior Experience is an above and beyond program that students of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication may choose to apply for. Few complete the application, even fewer are excepted. However, this post is not about the amazing benefits of this one of a kind program, rather this post is about what happens outside of my internship and classroom experience.

I feel very lucky to be given this opportunity to work, learn and live, in what I refer to as, the real-world. As a Eugene native, Track Town USA has been my world – my one and only comfort zone. But, I’m graduating and moving on with the PDXSX has a perfect spring board into the professional life I have been dreaming about for years. What I am really trying to get across is that this program is more than just an internship, it’s a chance to test out life – that is, test out life with other students who are in the exact same place that you are. Stepping into the world after college can be a shock, but with this program and with my fellow PDXSXers, I feel like it’s no biggie what so ever.

Today was the first day that I feel like I bonded with my fellow PDXSXers – Taylor Long, Annelise Schoups, Megan Kleck, Katie Armstrong and myself hit the happy hour scene together. It was a happy coincidence that it was also Katie’s 21st birthday! (Happy Birthday Katie!) Our little get together was a great time to hear about other intern experiences, what has been good, what has been bad, and what it is that we all hope to get from this program. While none of us can 100 percent relate to each other, there are commonalities with us all. It’s hard to explain the significance of having to college to reality conversations with students who understand my career goals, and the situation that we are all in trying to achieve our goals.

While the professional experience and benefits brought me to this program, it is the personal growth and connections that I can’t wait to share with future PDXSX students.

Staffing Shake-Ups in the Office

Let’s be honest – I am participating in this internship in the hopes that it will turn into a job. A JOB!  I never thought I would be this excited at the thought of working for the next 30+ years of my life. And let me remind you, that is without recess and summer vacations. Yet, I job is what I crave. A job is what I need. I can’t be a nonpaid intern forever.

I’m in week four of my ten weeks at my internship and changes are happening. Good news for me, I hope. Within the public relations department at my agency, my office-mate has been promoted and transferred to the San Francisco office. She is thrilled and we all couldn’t be more excited for her. Except maybe me. With her promotion/transfer there is now officially an opening here.

This internship just got all the more real. This could be it. But, it could not. I’m not afraid to say that I kick ass. I am damn good at what I do. I have a lot to learn, I am a newbie. However, for as new and as fresh of the college train I might be, I am on top of my game. I am professional and respectful and most importantly, I want to learn, I want to be here – I want this internship to become my life. I already feel like I am doing a really good job of showing this to the PR team. I have received some great feedback. However, that could mean nothing.

I keep telling myself that I can’t get my hopes up. I don’t know anything and things can change. But oh man, it’s hard not to dream. I have seven weeks to prove beyond I doubt that I can work here. It’s on!

The Art of Business Email

Email – one of the most essential tools one can have. At my internship, much of  my day is spent on email and in the business world, there is a real art to writing a good email. Much of public relations is communication with different persons, trying to get them to do something for you. An email has to be persuasive but firm; short but informative; serious but friendly. Even harder to portray when my email signature states I’m an intern.

In the recent weeks,  I have been helping to coordinate a series of events for a client in the Bay Area. For me, the trouble has come in the fact that I am at the bottom of the totem pole. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the client, their history, and I am still learning how my internship company operates. I was having a hard time expressing my professionalism and honestly, my confidence in acting like a professional, in emails to different vendors.

However, I can act the part. And this is where the artistry come in.

It’s a hard balance to find, acting like a professional who knows what she is doing, but also an intern who is still learning. Too much of one and I could be in trouble. I make mistakes. I make a fool out of myself on occasion, who doesn’t? But what I have found to be important, and possibly the most difficult, is creating a person relationship via an Internet connection.

I always try and start off with a friendly greeting like “I hope you had a great weekend!” or “Happy Friday!” but then immediately get to the point of the email. I find it’s important to get down to business quickly, no one likes long, drown out emails. I try and always make reference to past conversations as a reminder of the current situation and thank them for any help they have provided. They key, however, be ok with making mistakes. Being too worried about it only makes me make more mistakes and the truth is, people, professionals, all understand. Trust me, in only three weeks I have made some stupid email mistakes, but none of them have hurt my internship and future professional career one bit.

Making the Mundane, Not So Mundane

Mundane tasks are a part of life; you can’t escape them. And while what we consider to be mundane might not be the same for all, we can, however, relate to the feeling of “my brain is going to implode if I look at this one more time.” We may try to procrastinate, leaving the most tedious tasks for the end of the day, but that is a mistake. There’s a good chance it won’t get done. But at times, that is my job as the intern, tackle the tedious, mundane tasks that no one else in the office wants to deal with. It’s not fun, but it needs to be done. Already, within my first few weeks at my internship, I have been handed a few of these tasks and I’ve discovered some tricks to help ease the boredom.

  1. Plan and organize the task. I love organizing, I really do. I literally feel a sense of giddiness when it’s time to tackle a messy closet. However, organization provides more than just a weird sense of joy for myself, it also provides a sense of meaning to every step of your task. Take my current job of sending out 100+ pairs of shoes, each unique in style, size and color, and each destined for individual media contacts. Each shoe box has to be unpacked from the shipping box and repacked into an individual box, all of different sizes. But with a plan and my organized spreadsheet of every shoe received, I think I got it!
  2. Break-up the task into manageable parts. Many of my intern projects involve media lists, a common task in the public relations industry. I’m used to spending huge chunks of time sitting at my desk, scanning through listed media contacts, but blogs are a whole new beast. I have been asked to work on updating the “beer blogger list.” Do you know how many beer blogs there are?! Too many. And when I am trying to narrow the search to only 5 regions of the country, looking a brew-this and beer-that from who knows where, the feeling of an imploding brain creeps in quite quickly. My tip: tackle the task in two-hour intervals. I’ve been using a “Complete Beer Blogger List” I found on the internet, and I’ve found it helpful to move through the alphabet one letter at a time. Pieces make this manageable.
  3. Turn it into a game. Challenge yourself. Set yourself a goal and  time period to complete it in – then race yourself! I know it sounds a little like something a 5-year old with a toy race car would do, but it works! We all need a little competition in our lives, its healthy, but can be hard to find when sitting at a computer all day. However, be weary of rushing through a task if it means your rushing through your work.