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Managing Mental Health on Campus During a Worldwide Disaster: Insights from the Israel-Hamas Conflict

In times of worldwide disasters, such as the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, the impact on mental health can be significant, especially for students who are already navigating the challenges of academic life. The stress, anxiety, and uncertainty surrounding such events can take a toll on their overall well-being and academic performance. Therefore, it becomes crucial for educational institutions to prioritize mental health support and provide strategies to help students manage their mental well-being effectively.

1. Acknowledge and Validate Feelings:

During a global crisis, it is essential to acknowledge and validate the range of emotions students may experience. Fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness are all valid responses to traumatic events. Professors and university staff should create a safe space for students to express their feelings, providing opportunities for open discussions and active listening. By acknowledging their emotions, students can feel supported and understood, which can help alleviate some of their distress.

2. Promote Open Communication:

Encourage open communication channels between students, teachers, and parents. Regular check-ins, virtual meetings, or even anonymous online platforms can provide a space for students to share their concerns, ask questions, or seek support. By fostering an environment of open communication, students can feel more connected, reducing feelings of isolation and promoting a sense of community.

3. Provide Accurate Information:

Misinformation can exacerbate anxiety and fear during a crisis. Universities should ensure that students have access to accurate and reliable information from credible sources. Professors can guide students in understanding the situation by providing appropriate explanations and addressing misconceptions. This approach helps students feel more informed, empowered, and better equipped to handle the challenges they face.

4. Establish Routine and Structure:

Maintaining a sense of routine and structure is crucial for managing mental health during a crisis. This means keeping to a consistent schedule, even in remote learning environments. Structured routines can provide a sense of stability and normalcy, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of control. Students going through this trauma are encouraged to maintain regular sleep patterns, engage in physical activity, and take breaks to relax and recharge.

5. Foster Peer Support:

Peer support can be the most valuable resource for students during challenging times. Schools can facilitate virtual peer support groups or buddy systems, allowing students to connect with their peers and share experiences. Encouraging empathy, kindness, and understanding among students can create a supportive network that helps alleviate stress and promotes a sense of belonging.

6. Offer Mental Health Resources:

Universities should ensure that students have access to mental health resources and support services. This can include counseling sessions, mental health hotlines, or online resources that provide coping strategies and self-help techniques. By offering these resources, universities demonstrate their commitment to student well-being and provide avenues for seeking professional help when needed.

7. Encourage Self-Care:

Promoting self-care practices is essential for managing mental health during a crisis. Encourage students to engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as mindfulness exercises, deep breathing techniques, or journaling. Encourage them to take breaks from news updates and social media to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the constant influx of information. Encouraging healthy habits, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep, can also contribute to overall well-being.

8. Implement Flexibility and Understanding:

During a worldwide disaster, it is crucial for universities to be flexible and understanding of the challenges students may face. Recognize that students may have difficulty focusing, experience increased stress levels, or struggle with meeting deadlines. Offering flexibility in assignments, adjusting expectations, and providing additional support can help alleviate some of the pressures students may feel, allowing them to prioritize their mental health without compromising their education.

9. Educate Professors and Staff:

Professors and staff play a vital role in supporting students’ mental health during a crisis. Universities should provide training and resources to educate teachers and staff on recognizing signs of distress, understanding trauma-informed care, and implementing strategies to support students effectively. By equipping educators with the necessary tools, schools can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for students.

Managing mental health on campus during a worldwide disaster, such as the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, requires a comprehensive approach that prioritizes students’ well-being. By acknowledging and validating their feelings, promoting open communication, providing accurate information, establishing routines, fostering peer support, offering mental health resources, encouraging self-care, implementing flexibility, and educating professers and staff, universities can create a supportive environment that helps students navigate the challenges they face. By prioritizing mental health, educational institutions can ensure that students receive the support they need to thrive academically and emotionally during times of crisis.

Looking for a Job or Internship? Here’s a list of Philadelphia PR Agencies That Are Hiring

The following is a list of PR companies in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that are currently offering job or internship opportunities that may be of interest to people in the PR field.

Neff (neffknows.com)

Neff is a Philadelphia marketing agency that works with both small business and large corporations. Their services include branding, public relations, social media, websites, advertising, media strategy, photography, and videography. Their wide range of clients includes Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Crumbl, Eastern Airlines, and the Golf Association of Philadelphia.

Neff is currently hiring numerous positions, such as PR & Social Media Account Manager and Social Media Content Creator. They also have applications open for internship opportunities.

ShinePR (shinepr.com)

ShinePR is a boutique PR agency in Philadelphia with over 20 years of experience working with marketing agencies and major companies. Their services include branding, marketing, and public relations. They have also earned the Certified Women’s Business Enterprise designation from NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), which recognizes that ShinePR is a woman owned business.

ShinePR is currently looking for people to join their team.

Buchanan Public Relations (buchananpr.com)

Buchanan Public Relations is a PR agency located in Bryn Mawr that specializes in PR, digital communication, and crisis communication. Their work includes content creation, media relations, graphic design, video, and social and digital for a variety of industries such as food and beverage, non-profit, and healthcare. Buchanan Public Relations is also a member of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America).

Buchanan Public Relations is looking for people to join the Buchanan PR Apprenticeship Program, which is designed for recent college graduates looking for experience in PR. They also offer summer PR internships.

Gregory FCA (gregoryfca.com)

Gregory FCA is a PR company located in Ardmore. They help to grow businesses, build awareness, and create credibility to increase the value of an enterprise. The company consists of an editorial team, a creative team, and social media professionals. They also offer media training to clients. Their large list of clients includes Lyft, Mitsubishi Electric, Summit Financial, and People’s United Bank.

They have a list of available job opportunities. If there’s not any currently available, you can also connect with them over email if you have experience in public relations, communications, journalism, or social media so they can offer you opportunities in the future that may be a good fit.

Vault Communications (vaultcommunications.com)

Vault Communications is a PR agency located in Plymouth Meeting. Their work includes PR and strategic communications, creative strategy, digital strategy, and crisis support for local, national, and global brands. Clients include Aqua, Campbell’s, Bayada Home Health Care, and Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. Vault Communications is also a 100% woman owned and led company certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

They are hiring and have a jobs inbox where you can send a resume and cover note. They also offer paid internships in the summer, fall, and spring; applications can be sent in the internships inbox.

Interning for Little Sprouts at Snipes Farm

In my senior year at Arcadia University, I have made many strides toward what careers I want to explore post-graduation. In the past, I dreamt of being a veterinarian, a sports journalist, a NASA scientist, or a drummer in a band. At this moment in time, I am none of these things, nor am I on a direct path to becoming one of these things– and that’s okay. Interests change, dreams change, and aspirations change. Right now, my interests lie in photography, public relations, and communications in general.

I undertook an internship with the Little Sprouts Education Program at Snipes Farm in Morrisville, PA this semester and I have been nothing short of obsessed with it. I work under the supervision of Nicole Kissinger who is one of the educators. Little Sprouts is an outdoor education program for ages two to five that emphasizes the importance of child-led play. The program runs year-round and is outside in all seasons! This fall, class started on October 3, 2023, and is running until December. My role in the program is to take photographs, create content, and help Nicole and the other instructors with communication purposes. These responsibilities are helping me greatly in my professional development.

On the first day of class, I brought my brand-new Canon Rebel and introduced myself to the other instructors and some of the parents. It wasn’t until the second week of classes that I could take pictures of the students and activities since the photo release forms got turned in. I have been to class at least once a week since, and I love what I do there. I have learned so much about photography, my camera, and editing since I started. Learning by doing is definitely proving to be true!

On the other end of things, I have been making graphics and posting on social media for the Little Sprouts program, positively representing them to the public. I post frequently on the page. It is quite daunting knowing that what you post on a brand or organization’s social media will be seen and perceived by current and potential customers, and it is your job to make sure the brand comes across as professional and put-together. I enjoy doing this part because it gives me practice in writing for professional communication settings.

In the future, I hope to apply the skills I have learned in my internship to my career. I eventually want to manage small bands and/or musicians, so I think that this is a pretty decent and humble start to that. It’s not quite the same industry, but the skills I am learning will hopefully translate well!

The PR Crises of the Future

There’s a branch in public relations that often goes overlooked, that important emergency button used in the most dire of circumstances, that usually isn’t thought of until absolutely necessary. While companies tend to avoid the thought of crisis PR, public facing crises are an inevitable part of any company’s future. While crisis PR is often overlooked, it is a fast-paced, high-stakes field that takes years to understand and even more to master. As the landscape of business-customer interactions have changed over the past several decades, so too have the needs of crisis PR actors.

If we take a look at some of the crises facing modern businesses, it becomes apparent that crisis PR is no longer just an important back-pocket tool for when a crisis might arise, but an ever-evolving constant that should be utilized to mitigate risks as they develop. Although we are hardly through the first few years of the 2020’s, the landscape of business and technology has changed dramatically during the decade. The meteoric rise of social media apps like TikTok have made public-facing companies even more vulnerable to crises, as negative press can spread like wildfire more so than ever before. In addition to social media communication allowing for constant contact between potential consumers, technology is playing a new, unique role in shaping modern day crises.

Artificial intelligence has had a groundbreaking year. Breakthroughs in AI have brought the power of technology to a level previously only thought to be possible through science fiction, and that power has only recently been made available to the general public. With these extraordinary breakthroughs come changes throughout all parts of our society, and public relations is no different. Earlier this year the apparel brand, Levi’s, experienced backlash for its use of Ai-generated models to display new clothing on its website. The intention, as Levi’s stated, was to generate inclusivity by using AI-generated models of all backgrounds. The crisis began when customers began to ask if it was really inclusive to remove all diverse models from its website in favor of AI-generated mimicry.

In response, Levi’s has restated its position, claiming that AI models are not the sole solution to problems of inclusion, but has not changed its plans to use AI models for its website.

The lessons we can take away from Levi’s are less in its response to the backlash, and more in the greater picture this paints for PR professionals. In a world where information can be disseminated online at incomprehensible speeds, advances in technology and the use of AI should keep crisis PR professionals on high-alert. This is not the same as other potentially controversial decisions a company could make. As AI presents new ethical challenges to humanity, it does the same to businesses hoping to use it.

The use of AI in any company should be assessed by crisis PR professionals who are well-versed in both the company’s reputation and their clients’ potential views on artificial intelligence. The worlds of technology and crisis are changing, and public relations professionals are no exception to that.

Thankfully, there are ways to assess the public’s opinion of AI use. Where Levi’s went wrong was by appearing blind to the real reason behind DEI, and presumably using AI as a shortcut to real diversity. When consumers didn’t agree, Levi’s didn’t equivocate. Instead, companies should look at AI as a tool to promote professional goals within their offices, using AI for efficiency without overlooking the human aspects of their missions.

Ultimately, consumers are still human and while AI has exploded into the cultural zeitgeist, the populus is still wary of its use. PR professionals should keep this in mind when considering AI’s use and the ethical implications. Technology has changed PR and its cousin, crisis communications, immeasurably over the last several decades, but just as quickly as AI changes, so too must the professionals who use it.

My Experience as a PR Student-Member

Being a member of the student Public Relations agency is very interesting. My background with Media & Communication has been very media-centric, so to branch out into something different from what I am used to is a bit unnerving. However, the rest of the agency is made up of other students from the university, both who have been involved before and those who are new to the program, some of them are also Media & Communication students but the agency accepts any type of student here.

The agency is managed by Dr. Mullin, who helps guide students through what they should be doing, but leaves a lot of control to the students. We can choose how things are designed, who we do work for, and how we do that work. We also organize our own fundraisers to raise money that is reinvested into the agency, that money can be used to buy promotional merchandise, fund field trips, pay for fees, etc. The student agency is a great way to gain real experience with performing tasks related to PR while also being able to make mistakes along the way.

My experiences with Public Relations have been similar to Media, a lot of it is interacting with others and working together to accomplish a common goal. We always have something to do at the agency, which helps keep us productive. The work is manageable but is always changing based on the needs of our clients. We have a lot of creative freedom with how we do our work, as long as it meets the needs of the client. We also discuss our progress with the other students, so we can stay on the same page and remain productive and professional. Overall, media is still my main interest, but public relations are still interesting to have experience in.

How To Be A “Good” Collaborative Team Member

It is almost a universal experience having to work in a group or a collaborative environment throughout school. This continues in adulthood with careers that may rely on communication between coworkers or superiors. Additionally, I think everyone can remember a time when someone in their group may not have attributed as much or when they had a coworker they dreaded working with. No one wants to be that person. These are some tips I can provide to be a “good” team member whether that is professionally, socially, or collaboratively.

#1 Communication

As a PR Professional, many of us have background education in communication. Even if not, we have to communicate at some point throughout our days. Having a group member who is open about their work, whether it is that they are struggling to get it done or simply need ideas is much more appreciated than someone who doesn’t.

Lack of communication causes anxiety between members which can then lead to tension and unnecessary barriers to work. But communication can ease those anxieties and especially in a college environment when there are enough stressors, I can appreciate and understand when someone is having an issue.

#2 Reliability

This ties into my previous point a bit, but nothing is worse than a coworker or group member that is unreliable. Reliability stems from the ability to perform or appear in relation to responsibilities given. The urge to procrastinate may happen here and there, but simply warning other participants that you may be late turning something in or appearing for a study session eases anxiety.

#3 Organization

Life can get overwhelming, but establishing some sense of organization will not only make things easier in your personal life but also can be used in your professional life to keep you on track.

Some suggestions:

  • A weekly/daily planner. These are typically more detailed than monthly calendars and allow more planning for day to day life.
  • Google calendars. A good digital alternative to a physical planner.
  • Alarms!! As someone who often will forget something, another digital reminder apart from calendar dates are alarms that will ring when I need to do something.
  • Accountability partner. Similar to a gym partner, having a friend with similar classes or activities as you who can help remind you of due dates and upcoming events.

Hopefully these tips can be found useful in your journey of becoming a better team member in whatever aspect of your life that may be.

What’s With All the Nerves? PR + Graphic Design Internship First Day – Before, During, and After

What It’s All About:
Learning that Public Relations and Graphic Design go hand in hand was something I had to sit with for a while. As someone who had no clue what they wanted to do until the last month of their junior year, it was a lot more daunting than my other impulse interest. Graphic Design was something I could sit with overnight. If I was obsessed with an idea enough I could make it a reality quickly. I once made three different posters for a Drag bingo event at Arcadia University in 30 minutes after getting tipsy at a Harry Potter-themed bar in Philly. And the people who I was designing for LOVED it. My point is that public relations was this whole other beast that I had no idea how to tackle. I still have no idea about it. But I knew I needed to, which is why I applied for the internship I did.

The Internship:
The internship I applied for was one with Salus University’s Department of Communications. I have no clue what it is I am doing for them but I know it has something to do with digital marketing. I have a little experience with that, as I’ve taken classes that have breached that topic one way or another, however, I feel like there are so many terms that could mean virtually the same thing. And that may seem offensive to those who know they aren’t the same thing, But to me, It feels like I get a word bank and these terms are described as the questions and I get them confused on the test and fail. It’s dramatic, I know but I believe this anxiety will plague me until I take my first steps into the building of this internship. Until someone can tell me that I am right where I need to be, I won’t believe it’s the right path for me. And I feel like that’s the issue with a lot of folks in my position. The first mountain to hike is even getting an internship and the second mountain is finding one that feels right.

The Night Before:
As the hands on the clock approach my bedtime for my first day, I sit and wonder what I need to prepare for this internship. I can’t say I am completely lost. I emailed the person who hired me and she told me I don’t need anything. Which is equally as comforting as it is blinding. I am going in semi-blind. I know what the job entails but does it entail business casual attire? Does it entail a lunch break? Does it entail getting my car towed because I don’t have the parking pass yet? It’s these little things that would seem silly to ask an employer but questions new employees have nonetheless. I think that’s how I know I’m in the right place. I’m not nervous about the work at all. Because I know I can get it done. I know I can complete work I am proud of.

The Morning of:
Because I planned out my semester so I wouldn’t have to wake up for anything, I also had the luxury of choosing when I wanted to have my internship. So of course, I chose to go in at 12:00 and leave at 3:00. I felt like this was a happy medium and also I do my best work when I have time to warm up as a human.
I Still Wasn’t Nervous About The Job. It was starting to set in that I had one and I had to be professional. But it wasn’t something that would scare me away from it all. My supervisor emailed me her number so that I had someone to walk me through the building which was so nice. I remember driving to Starbucks at 4:40 in the morning for my first shift and not even knowing where the back door was so, this was a nice upgrade.

Sitting in The Chair:
Similarly to syllabus week, it was a whole bunch of information thrown at me. Between new program names and new tricks on old programs, it was a lot to carry. But soon it was a piece of cake. I understood most of what I was doing and the things I didn’t I was able to figure out. It was a very awesome experience going into a job that I knew generally what I was meant to complete.

Overall:
I’m super excited about this internship and what it could teach me in my field. As someone who didn’t know they wanted to do PR and still doesn’t know if they want to do PR, this first day was kind of perfect. I know this won’t be the case for all internships and interests. I was talking to my supervisor about this particular task field and she was saying how it’s easier to find things you don’t want to do as opposed to things you want to do. And I couldn’t agree more. I feel like my whole college career was just going through the motions of things I didn’t want to do. And now that I am here it feels weird to be nervous about the things I was nervous about. But yet it all makes sense.

Fenty Beauty Center Stage at the Super Bowl Halftime Show

The Super Bowl took us all by surprise this year when Rihanna made her appearance at the halftime show. There are a lot of people who had mixed feelings about the show itself, or just straight up didn’t like it. Despite whether you liked it or not, there is no denying that Rihanna was smart and took advantage of the opportunity that she was given. Not only did she choose that time to announce that she was pregnant, but she also chose to use that time to promote her company called Fenty Beauty.

Fenty Beauty is a make-up company that was founded by Rihanna. While Rihanna wasn’t offered cash for her performance, she certainly didn’t miss out on the chance to make some. During her performance, she took out her instant setting and blotting power to touch up her face. According to Nielson, there were over 113 million people watching the super bowl. Her strategy of promoting her product helped increase the net of Fenty Beauty to around 44 million dollars, according to tribedynamics. Rihanna knew the opportunity that she was given and she wasn’t afraid to use it to the best of her ability.

Lizzo Apology

For me, keeping up with celebrity and influencer news is everything. Not in the sense that I am completely involved in their lives like reality TV but in the sense that I am intrigued by what they’re doing and how their choices or actions change public perception of them. Lizzo (Melissa Jefferson) has been a champion for body positivity and has been a welcome face in the music industry. Ever since her first hit Truth Hurts, she has skyrocketed in her fame. Recently Jefferson has come under fire for a lawsuit that was served to her by former dancers who worked with the singer. The lawsuit covers allegations of sexual assault and harassment, religious harassment, the creation of a hostile work environment, body-shaming, and many other allegations that painted the singer in a very negative light. The internet, mainly TikTok from what I witnessed ran with the story with many people reading over and explaining the lawsuits, restating accounts of the dancers who served the lawsuit, and people generally shaming Jefferson for her hypocrisy.

After the news was released Aug 1, 2023 Jefferson released a statement to her official Instagram account on August 3, 2023. The statement is a gallery-style post with multiple slides with text on them. The statement attempts to do three things: Displace blame from Jefferson onto her former employees, blame her employees for their own ‘unprofessional’ behavior, and overshadow this controversy by trying to invoke her previous good work. Jefferson’s apology was only posted to Instagram and no official press release or statement was made by her PR team. The apology was not received particularly well by the jury of public opinion, nor was the apology well written by any means. There were strategic points to release a statement after the official lawsuit was released, but the apology did entirely fall flat because of the attempts to displace Jefferson’s blame onto the Plaintiffs. Overall, Jefferson’s response was in general ill taste, and she did not actually provide an apology for the allegations set before her.

My Experience as a Public Relations Intern and the Advice I’d Give

As a Communication major at Arcadia, we are required to complete at least one semester with an internship. I was lucky enough to secure a position with VMS Communications, a small public relations firm based in Houston. I was hired as an assistant and my general tasks were to work closely with the CEO and complete assignments that ranged from drafting press releases to creating excel contact sheets.

I had no previous experience in the field so having this job provided some much needed hands on learning. My goal of this post is to highlight the advice I wish someone had given to me before starting.

#3 Honing Organization Skills

(Example of where my Internship folder is located on my computer and how specific the subfolders are)

I’m not a particularly unorganized person, but as far as files and images go on my computer it can be a no man’s land. However, at any moment your boss can ask to reference a previous draft of an assignment you’ve worked on. It would be expected for you to have some record of it.

Learning how to save multiple copies of files and having a detailed organization system that is labeled and up to date on your devices is important. It is three years later, and I am still referencing the work I did when I was at my internship. This would not be as easily accessible if not for the system I created.

#2 Become Familiar with Excel (and other programs)

I rarely, if ever, have had to use Excel or Google Spreadsheet during my time as a student. So, when my first assignment was to create a celebrity contact list that had to be created in Excel, I was flustered.  I spent days on a task that shouldn’t have taken longer than a few hours.

My advice: Ask your superior before starting what programs are commonly used with the job and use the time before starting or in between projects to familiarize yourself with it. It will save you a lot of time.

#1 Don’t Be Afraid to Be Honest

With your first internship or job there is usually an immense pressure to be perfect. But the company you work for knows they hired an intern and that you do not know everything. In my experience, it is better to ask for help and be honest about not being sure how to complete a project than messing up and having to explain it afterwards. A good boss or superior will use it as a teaching lesson and it’ll improve your skillset.

Overall, my experience as an assistant was one that I can look back fondly on. However, like with any job there are always ups and downs. If I knew these few tips going into the position it would have certainly eased some of those anxieties.

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