A Journey of a Semester

The fall 2018 semester is coming to a close, and it is time to reflect on all that I’ve done. After these last few months, I can say that public relations publications has been one of the first classes where I feel like I have put to use my toolbox of PR skills that I have been collecting.

We have created business cards, direct mailers, newsletters, and are now working on a video project. I have learned the ins and outs of InDesign and Adobe Photoshop.

When looking back at my old blog posts, I can’t help but laugh at how little faith I had in myself. All of the editing software we have learned to use has been daunting at first. After lots of trial and error, I managed to work my way through the programs to create work I am proud of.

The assignment which I am most proud of as a representation of my best work and creative effort is the newsletter. I created the newsletter while following the Starbucks general brand. However, we utilized both indesign and adobe photoshop to create our newsletters. Using these two programs in sync to create a finished piece felt like culmination of all the learning I have done this semester.

Going forward, I feel as though I have become a better public relations professional. I now have a pretty full toolbox of skills and knowledge that I can use in my future career. I have learned how to work quickly and efficiently, while not being discouraged by mistakes. Furthermore, this class has sparked an interest in me for graphic design that I look forward to pursuing.

 

More Tools in the Toolbox

These last two weeks, my PR Publications class has continued to expand the knowledge of tools we can use to create various publications.

Last week, we completed an assignment that focused not only on good design, but on speed. We only had two class periods to create four social media graphics for any company of our choosing. The graphics were supposed to be advertising a Halloween themed event.

We were introduced to Adobe Spark, a design program which is free and available online for anyone to use. The program was fairly easy to learn how to use. It’s interface is not that much different from the interface of Canva, an online design program which I’ve used before to make simple publications such as business cards.

The graphics were intended to be Halloween themed to advertise an adoption event.

I chose to create four graphics designed for a Halloween-themed adoption special, organized by the Humane Society. The most difficult part of this assignment was including valuable information within the graphic, while at the same time keeping the design clean and appropriate for social media.

A graphic I made using Adobe Spark

Admittedly, it was also very difficult to think of four fresh concepts to use for the social media graphics. The Halloween theme helped a lot!

After creating these graphics, we are now returning back to more complex design with our Newsletter project. For this project, we will be utilizing both Adobe Photoshop as well as InDesign to create a three-paged newsletter for a Fortune 500 company.

The most difficult part of this assignment so far is creating a template with an aesthetically appealing, on-brand header which is not too expensive to print and still functions as a newsletter. I have decided to go with the company Boeing, a Fortune 500 company which specializes in, among many things, airplanes and commercial travel. I’m looking forward to incorporating their sleek, blue and white design into my assignment.

 

Better with Time!

This week, we finished creating direct mailers for our theoretical client, the OU office of admissions. More than a couple of things were tough about this task, from learning how to use photoshop for the first time, to being creative and designing in an attractive way while following OU’s brand guidelines.

The process of deciding which students to target with my direct mailers was lengthy and full of changes. Eventually, I narrowed down my groups to two very distinct demographics.

The first group I decided to target is student veterans. In my mind, the students are those who have served and are now entering the college world needing a good community, and scholarships.  In my research I learned that the University of Oklahoma has made a good attempt to connect with student veterans, including requiring Green Training from the faculty.

To target this group I included familiar student veterans logos, while keeping the direct mailer clean and simple.

The second group I decided to target are the aspiring “campus climbers”. This group of students are those who are interested in things like community service, leadership groups, and other student organizations.

To target this group, I included pictures from various student organizations and attempted to showcase the many opportunities OU offers for involvement. I also used a more charismatic color scheme.

 

This assignment has taught me a lot of useful skills which will help me as a PR professional. I learned how to resize and combine images, create transperant images, recolor items, and how to create an attractive publication. After working with the photoshop program and going through so many processes, I can now create a work from scratch in photoshop, which is a nice feeling.

While I still prefer InDesign, I feel prepared to use photoshop in the professional world, and I look forward to creating more.

Photoshop: A Game of Trial and Error… and Error, and Error…

 

This week, in PR publications, we tackled the task of beginning how to learn Adobe Photoshop.
Photoshop is one of the most powerful photo editing programs that exists, giving users the capability to essentially work photo magic. Photoshop offers tools that allow users to do numerous things, including merge photos, create shadows, and completely alter colors.

Photoshop is a valuable tool for the PR professional because it can be used to design business cards, letter heads, direct mailers, event ads, and other public relations tools.

Being that Photoshop is so powerful, it is no surprise that it hasn’t been the easiest to learn how to use. We began our learning journey with an exploration of merging images, in this case two pizza related images.

Pizza on Wooden Peel

Pepperoni pizza

It was a difficult task, and took about an hour and a half of replaying turtorial videos, and tweaking settings to get a realistic look. Eventually, I was able to put a pizza holder under the pepproni pizza. Hooray!

 

Unlike InDesign, the other design application we have used, Photoshop works on a pixel by pixel basis, so images have to be spliced.

Personally, I prefer to interface and tools available in InDesign. While the photo editing tools are lower quality, it offers a gridded guideline, and makes it easy to build images centered around fonts and business-type design.

Another of my challengers arose from trying to create works for a client with a really hard set brand. This week we are designing direct mailers for the University of Oklahoma admissions office.

OU has a very set in stone brand, with logo and color guidelines, as well as specific guidelines like what font is preferred for documents.

It has been hard to be creative while following these strict guidelines and creating something which will represent OU, not myself.

 

You Know What They Say… Fonts are a Gateway to the Soul

One of the most compelling things I have learned as a public relations major is the subconscious effects that design elements can have on the audience one is attempting to reach. I had no idea the depth of thought which goes into choosing which fonts to use, how to design a layout, or even when choosing color schemes.

Design directly influences the way that an audience absorbs the information put in front of them.  Typography, defined by Business Dictionary as the “study of the design of typefaces, and the way in which the type is laid out on a page to best achieve the desired visual effect and to best convey the meaning of the reading matter,” is a large aspect of design. Those creating publications must decide which fonts to use, the spacing between letters, and font size, and many other things, all focused on finding the best way to display content.

In Public Relations Publications, students were given the opportunity to play a couple of online typography games to practice various typography skills. The first game I decided to play was ‘Type Connection‘, a game that turns the fonts into eligible bachelors.

The First Step of the Game: Choosing a Main CHARACTER

With this game, I ended up creating a successful ‘date’ between Adobe Garamond Pro, a strong and serious font, and Maple, a font which tends to bring warmth and comfort to the table. Together, the two make a great combination to show off information in an inviting way, such as on an upscale restaurant menu.

This game helped me realize the depth of analysis that goes into typography, as the matches went down to the minute details of things like the transition from line into foot serifs.

The next game I decided to play was ‘Kern Type‘, the kerning game which teaches players how to properly space letters for legibility.

The Kern Game Teaches Players to Properly Space Letters

After adjusting the spacing of letters, I was to compare my work with that of a professional typographer. Needless to say, I didn’t do too well my first couple of tries, a testament to the difficulty of spacing. I was surprised at just how specific the letter spacing needs to be. Often times, I knew that the word didn’t look right, but lacked the skills to adjust accurately. When playing this game, I played alongside a friend of mine who is a design major, and was horridly outpaced.

The last game I decided to play was ‘Type War‘, a relatively simple game, compared to the others, which challenges players to visually determine what font is shown on the screen.

The Type War Game Challenges Players to Identify the Font Shown on the Screen

Type War was the hardest game for me, but it gave me a great opportunity to become more familiar with the various fonts. I began to notice some patterns in the fonts, such as some fonts having serifs, and others not, a helpful distinction.

Overall, playing these various typing games gave me a chance to become familiar with a couple key aspects of typography.

 

Professional Portrait

Taken in Oct. 2017, Lincoln, Oregon. Photographer: Sarah Smallwood

My name is Sarah Smallwood. I am a Norman, Oklahoma native currently attending college at the University of Oklahoma. I am pursuing a degree in public relations with a minor in environmental studies.

Being a junior in college, I have narrowed down my future goals to include working as a public relations agent for an organization working with the environment, either in marine conservation or outdoor gear and clothing. My hobbies include photography, video-gaming, and a multitude of outdoor activities.

My passion for the environment and conservation is what drives most of the fundamental decisions I make. I believe that climate change is simultaneously one of the largest threats to society, while also the most overlooked. I want to advance the cause of conservation and wildlife advocacy by managing the relationship between the public and wild-life related entities, whether that is a conservation firm or a clothing company which sells hiking and camping gear.

As a public relations major, I am expected to combine effective writing and communication skills with research and strategic thinking. In a world that increasingly relies on personal devices for sources of content, the area of design is becoming vital to public relations specialists. Currently, I am a novice to design and all that it entails, still learning how to use an advanced camera and editing tools.

I look forward to attempting to master various design tools and techniques, and learning how to apply these to my career goals.