An open letter to my little sister, an incoming college freshman

TabithaI have a little sister and her name is Tabitha. She’s a senior in high school and committed to DePauw University for the fall, intent on studying Political Science and Criminal Justice — big dreams for such a young girl. I remember my senior year in high school like it was yesterday rather than four years ago. Bound for the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, I was determined to become an award-winning journalist for National Geographic magazine — I wanted to travel the world and write for a living. Again, big dreams for such a young girl.

But now, that’s all changed. Not only have my career goals altered, but I have also changed as a woman. During college I’ve experienced some of the best moments of my life, but also some of the worst. I have been continually forced to grow and adapt, to mature and develop. I’ve fallen in love with myself, but I’ve also despised my personality at times. I’ve befriended phenomenal women, but I’ve also lost a few friends along the way. I’ve had my heart broken. Many times. But, I am better person because of it all. So, this letter is to my little sister, but also to all the other little sisters and big sisters and even brothers who will be leaving the nest next year to test the wild and independent winds of college life.

So, as you finish the final weeks of your last semester of high school, here are a few lessons that I wish somebody had taught me four years ago. Please learn from my mistakes and live your lives with a passionate purpose in mind:Tabitha1

If you hate a class, drop it.
For me, that class was “French Phonetics.” I sat in French Phonetics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, willing myself not to cry with frustration. I spent hours — literally, hours — each night on my homework, but could never do better than a C. I have a deep fear of failure, so the thought of giving up was torture. But, after a long talk with my mom, I decided to drop the class and I never looked back.

2 true friends are worth infinitely more than 20 fake friends.
College is a strange time of life where friends are more than just friends — they are family. And if your friend doesn’t treat you like a genuinely concerned sibling or parent, then they’re not your friend. True friends want the best for each other, always. True friends are honest and open, and never worry about the consequences of speaking their minds. With a true friend, you can be your true self, free from judgement or self-doubt.

If a boy texts you at 2 a.m. to “hang out,” he doesn’t actually like you.
Believe me. I’ve worried and wondered enough for all of us. Don’t set your sights on a man who doesn’t think the world of you, because that’s what you’re worth. Easier said than done, but use your good sense as a girl and always trust your gut.

Never drink diluted vodka.
The 2-day hangover isn’t worth the few dollars saved.

Drugs aren’t cool. Neither are people who do them.
I try to live life by a simple rule — if I wouldn’t want my future daughter to do something, then I try not to do it. It’s really that simple. Never give up your personal values in order to be “cool” or impress the people around you. Stay true to yourself and do your utmost to be the best you can be.

Read as much as you possibly can about the Universe.
There’s nothing more exhilarating than the discovery that we are all infinitely unimportant. That simple fact alone is often enough to put life in perspective.

Travel while in college.
Borrow money. Fundraise from family and friends. Do all that you can to see the world on your own while you are young and able to do so. Learning about the world and all the crazy amazing people in it will help you to develop a unique character of your own.

Form original opinions. Always speak your mind.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far in life, it’s that intelligence will always be in style. There’s nothing more attractive than an engaging conversation, and being able to adequately lend your voice in a productive and educated matter is so important to your overall success not just professionally, but personally too.

I am so excited for you all as you prepare to embark on this next adventure. College has no doubt been the best four years of my life, but I am also ready to see what post-grad life has in store for me. It’s never too late to grow up, and I am convinced that I will continue to learn, grow, and develop all the days of my life. And there’s no time to start like now.


Briagenn XOXO

This post was originally published on — Where Students & Schools Find Each Other

Dear Miami (of Ohio),

Athens BlockDrunken Undergrad,

I, along with every other future, current, and past Bobcat, would love to take the time to respond to your “Dear OU (of Ohio)” article.

Your attempt to write a witty blog post was cute. Substandard, but cute. As a senior at one of the nation’s most celebrated journalism schools — the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, to be exact — I should know. University on the decline? Think again.

Furthermore, I would like to send my deepest condolences to your sorority sisters. It must be a shame to waste daddy’s money on a fake friendship with such a negative person. And while we’re in the business of name-calling, let’s pause to address a few of the pathetic profanities you threw our way:

Unoriginal? Ohio University never once attempted to establish superiority over Miami University as an institution — we’ll leave the status-bashing to you fine folks. You’ve had much more practice. Nor have we ever claimed to be the creators of Green Beer Day. We just know how to recognize a good thing and we’d be stupid not to join the fun.

And it’s strange that you should call our street names “boring.” This upcoming Saturday is High Fest, which is named after “High Street.” Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I believe High Street is where the majority of Miami University’s nightlife is located, yes? How ironic.

Point is last Wednesday meant everything to us, the students who actually matter. Memories were made, friendships were created, couples were born. In true Bobcat fashion, we fested with the best. And rest assured that Miami University and the students of Oxford did not once register on our radar — we were too busy enjoying the amazing people in Athens, Ohio, and the unparalleled atmosphere present in the oldest and most historic university campus in Ohio.

We’ll forgive you this time for being too cowardly to include a byline or picture with your article. Not that I don’t understand your motives, however. I’m sure you’ll want all the free beer the friendly students of OU will offer the next time you visit our campus to experience a rager that is on par with the standards of Ohio University. See you there.

After all, trailer park parties are the best.

The Do’s & Don’ts of a Budding Public Relations Professional

With a new school year under way, thousands of freshmen are beginning the inevitable journey of choosing a future career. While some may become doctors, or teachers, or CEOs of an up-and-coming Silicon Valley startup, there will always be those blessed people who pick the path of Public Relations. To help aid the transition, below is a list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts for a budding PR professional:

1) Do build a resume: This one’s a no-brainer. If you don’t have a resume, you won’t have a job. Be sure to include your major, minor, and expected date of graduation, to prove that you are a bonafide college student. Oh, and K.I.S.S. — Keep It Simple, Stupid. No need for fancy frills; a small pop of color will do just fine. Be concise but get your message across.

2) Don’t include your high school job at Burger King on your resume: Newsflash: you’re in college now and high school no longer matters, especially your minimum wage stint at a local fast food joint. You want to include meaningful, relevant employment experiences on your resume — something you can talk up in an interview. No relevant experience to speak of? No worries, refer to list items #7 and #9.

3) Do create a personal brand: Your “personal brand” will follow you for the rest of your career, and it will help you differentiate yourself from the other 300 applicants vying for your dream job. Be sure to include hobbies like traveling, reading, blogging, or ballet dancing. Even better? Squish it all down into a 140-character, Tweetable blurb.

4) Don’t include hot pink, unicorns, or Justin Bieber in aforementioned personal brand: Professionalism is key. I don’t care if hot pink has been your favorite color since the first grade, if unicorns are your secret obsession, or if you have an extreme case of the Bieber Fever.  Your personal brand should focus on all personality aspects that make you a unique, memorable person…. but in a good way.

5) Do have a LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn is the single best thing you can do for your future career. As we all know, we live in a virtual world where anybody can become a personal investigator with a little help from Google. That being said, the first thing a potential employer will do is search for your name on the Internet. You better have something awesome to show them. Not to mention, LinkedIn is the ultimate professional networking guide.

6) Don’t upload a picture of you with a beer and your best friend as your LinkedIn headshot: LinkedIn does not equal Facebook, and it never will. Think of LinkedIn as an electronic extension of your resume, and treat it with the same level of professionalism. That being said, no booze or besties allowed. Make an effort to connect with professionals in the PR field, but be sure to always include a personal message with each invitation — otherwise you’ll just look like spam.

7) Do join your local chapter of PRSSA: If you’re in PR, you’d better be in PRSSA. The Public Relations Student Society of America is an excellent resource for budding professionals looking to break into the vast and often confusing world of PR. With weekly speakers, national conferences, Twitter chats, networking trips and a slew of Chapter bonding activities, PRSSA is key for the development of your mind, body and spirit. Not kidding.

8) Don’t half-heartedly attend meetings: Get involved! “Active member of PRSSA” on a resume might look great, but you won’t have anything to talk about when a potential employer asks you to elaborate on your membership with the organization.

9) Do get involved: I don’t care if that means volunteering to write for an on-campus environmental magazine or offering free social media services to a struggling restaurant uptown. Just do something that relates to your future career field.

10) Don’t be TOO involved: You’re in 5+ organizations? Good for you, now explain how you personally benefited from each individual club. You probably can’t. Quality over quantity is a good rule to live by, in all aspects of life and especially in PR. Don’t over commit, and never stretch yourself too thin. Choose 2 or 3 organizations that you’re really passionate about and give them your all. Join committees, attend networking events. Make a name for yourself and people will notice.

When all is said and done, Public Relations is a versatile and rewarding field that will continue to grow and develop with the times. If you’re an ardent individual with an endless thrive to succeed, if you work well in creative environments and believe in the limitless power of words, if you flourish under pressure and dream of changing the world, then PR is for you. Good luck, now get started.

Would a Briagenn by any other name smell as sweet?

Excuse me? Didn’t quite catch that.

You must be Irish.

Oh, hello again, Bri… have we met before?

If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard any of the above phrases plus maybe 100 more, I would have my Ohio University education AND a deposit for a brand new 2014 Lexus paid off by now.

My name is Briagenn Piper Linnea Adams — quite a mouth full. With a title like that, I seriously ought to be royalty by now. (Harry? Where you at?) Briagenn is the female form of Briag — as in Saint Briag, an Irish man who spread Christianity through France during the sixth century.

For the record, it’s BRI-UH-GEN. Or as some people like to think, BRI-AGAIN, which is where the “Have we met before?” confusion stems from. Both pronunciations are fine by me.

I know my name is difficult. I understand. I’ve dealt with it for 20 years. However, now that I’m becoming a more professional person, my name is beginning to worry me.

I recently attended a client meeting during an internship at The Eisen Agency in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the meeting, I attempted to introduce myself as “Briagenn,” because… well… that’s my name. However, that created a riot and I eventually had to back down and resort to “Bri,” the (in my opinion, no offense!) much more boring, shortened version of me.

I’ve always thought my name to be an interesting asset to my personality. It’s unique and memorable, and you’d think that would be great in an industry like PR where there can be more than 300 anonymous faces competing to score an interview for each employment opportunity. But now, I’m not so sure… if people are intimidated by my introduction, or nervous to say my name for fear of being wrong, where does that leave me?

I need some personal classification guidance, and I need it now.

Haters gonna hate, even when it comes to PR

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post for Ohio University’s student-run PR firm, ImPRessions. My story was about shattering my iPhone 5’s screen, and the PR lessons I took away from the accident. Overall, it took me about an hour to write, and I thoroughly enjoyed crafting each and every sentence. (The blog post is published below.)

After my article had been posted to the ImPRessions blog, I got so much positive feedback from my fellow PR students and PR professionals alike. I had no idea people would like my writing so much; it was one of the most flattering experiences of my life. A few days later, the ImPRessions Communications Director, Ashleigh Mavros, asked me if she could submit the iPhone article to the one and only, PR Daily. I was ecstatic.

The rest happened in such a rush. Within a week I had heard back from PR Daily that they had decided to run my article on their website and promote it via their daily subscription email. Amazingly, I heard this news just one day after my 20th birthday, so the timing could not have been more perfect! The article ran on October 30, and seeing my name and work published on PR Daily was one of the best moments of my entire life, seriously.

Over the next 24 hours, the reaction I received was shocking – both shockingly wonderful, and shockingly insulting. Under my article there is a section for comments from readers. Within 20 minutes, I was told that I “have little to no experience,” “lowered the bar for PR Daily,” and was referred to as “Doogie Howser,” the teenage physician.

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It goes without saying, but I was deeply hurt by such mean-spirited feedback. I was proud of my post, so excited that a website as reputable as PR Daily had deemed it worthy of publication. However, I had received so much negative criticism that I began to regret the original submission.

But, you know what? That is completely idiotic. Why on earth should I allow completely anonymous users to rain on my personal, PR parade? I loved my article. PR Daily did, too. I guess what I’ve taken away from the experience is that no matter what you do, no matter what you say and no matter how you act, it’s impossible to make everybody happy.

My most favorite quote in the whole world comes from Dita Von Tesse: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the word, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”

dita von tesse

Dita got it so right. Also – on a side note – peaches are awesome, so those haters are totally missing out.

From this whole PR Daily incident, I have completely changed my mindset when it comes to pleasing people. Essentially, it cannot be holistically done. There’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t agree with you, who thinks you’re not qualified to have an opinion. WHO CARES? If you’re happy with the work you do, and you have a solid foundation of outside support to back you up, then you’re good to go.

When it comes to PR, the situation is exactly the same. You’re not going to be able to please everybody. You’re not going to command the entire consumer market. However, as long as you have a base of loyal, happy customers, your business will thrive. And a thriving business – and a published blog post – is something to be proud of.

So, haters gonna hate, but don’t let the negativity get you down. Just keep on keeping on, and always, always walk with your head up and eyes to the future.

How shattering my iPhone taught me about PR

It finally happened.

iPhone 5, shattered

Just a few weeks ago I was walking around without a care in the word. I was texting, taking pictures, checking my Twitter feed, acting like my iPhone 5 was an indestructible commodity. But then, with one small slip of the fingers and one little shatter of glass, my entire world changed.

Not to be dramatic, but shattering my nearly new iPhone 5 is definitely on the “Top 10 Bad Things That Happened To Me In 2013” list. My iPhone was my baby; the one special thing that I went to sleep with every night, and woke up to every morning. For a while, I even thought about giving it a name.

Although my shattered iPhone still works okay, I am forced to live with the ever-present reminder that things are just not how they used to be. It’s easy to be mad at Apple for not making its products stronger and sturdier, but looking back on the relationship with my iPhone, it’s easy to see that I was in the wrong.

So, here’s what I’ve learned from shattering my iPhone screen, and here’s how I’m going to carry these lessons with me into the professional, PR world:

1. Never sacrifice quality. When I shattered my iPhone, the only protection between it and the cold, hard, unforgiving ground was a thin, flimsy case that I had bought on Amazon for $1.25 the week before. Although the case was pretty and very cheap, I knew it did not offer even one percentage of the protection my old OtterBox Defender Series case did. However, after having had my iPhone for the past four months without incident, and especially after watching this YouTube video, I decided to sacrifice quality and go for what I thought was a cooler, more attractive upgrade.

And look where that got me. Lesson learned? Never sacrifice quality… oh, and don’t believe everything you see on YouTube. Who cares if my Otter Box case wasn’t the best-looking thing on the market? It did what a phone case is supposed to do – protect a phone – whereas my Amazon deal failed me.

So, how does this translate to PR? Basically, in every way. When you’re working with clients, never present them with cheap, slapdash work just because it’s easy to produce and superficially attractive. Instead, go for quality. Spend the extra time and money to really perfect a project; show your clients that you care about their success. In the end, when their investments have been proven worth it, clients will thank you for your quality service and they will form loyal, lasting relationships with your company.

2. When disaster strikes, pick up the broken pieces and make do with what remains. I broke my iPhone. I broke it, I broke it, I broke it. It sucks. However, no matter how many times I wish I had held a firmer grip, no matter how many times I let out a sigh of exasperation because I can barely read the time, the fact remains that I broke it, so now I have to make do with my mistake.

The first thing I did after I broke my phone was order a screen protector. Now, instead of resembling Bill Hader on that T-Mobile commercial, I can at least slide my fingers across my screen without drawing blood. Although this is a small accomplishment, it’s much better than no accomplishment at all.

Likewise, when you’re working in PR, it’s probable that disaster will strike at one point in your career. If – and when – that happens, you can’t take back the mistake, but you can learn to recover and move on. You might not be able to forget what happened, but at least you’ll no longer feel the lingering pain.

3. Always, always have insurance. (Or a Plan B). Thank GOD I have insurance on my iPhone. Of all the life decisions I have ever made, buying insurance for my iPhone 5 was one of the smartest. If not for insurance, I would have to pay up to $900 for an entirely new phone. As it is, because of insurance, I will only have to pay $100. Still a lot of money for a broke college kid like me, but way less than it could have been.

For the purpose of this post, I will equate buying insurance to having a Plan B. If something fails – a client event, a pending press release or a media pitch – it’s always essential to have a backup plan. That way, when that previously-mentioned and inevitable disaster strikes, you won’t find yourself out on the streets, begging for charity and forgiveness.

(And, speaking of, it you are willing to contribute the Briagenn Adams’ shattered iPhone cause, feel free to tweet me, @Briagenn!)

This post was originally published on the OU ImPRessions website. 

3 PR lessons learned from my summer job

I have been a hostess at the local Buffalo Wings and Rings for two years now.

I love the restaurant itself, don’t get me wrong, their Sweet Thai Chili sauce is out of this world. But working as a hostess for the rest of my life is not ideal. And although I usually start counting down the minutes until the end of my shift beginning from the very moment I clock in, I actually have learned quite a few valuable career lessons from my summer job.

1. Customer is key. I don’t care if you know – IF YOU ARE 100% POSITIVE – that the customer did not order an extra Blue Cheese on the side. If they said they did, they did. End of story. If you forgot to repeat the order back to the customer before you hung up the phone, that’s on you, and the restaurant will suffer because of the error.

Now, in my opinion, this lesson can be translated to a PR setting. If a client of a PR agency is not pleased with the agency’s work, that client has the right to make its argument known and appreciated. There will always be another wing joint to eat at, just like there will always be another PR agency to employ. If a lack of communication is the culprit, then the organization must cut its losses to please its customer.

2. Mistakes happen. Own up, apologize and move on. Just tonight I completely messed up an order. The restaurant was very loud – it was difficult to hear over the phone. Although the woman said her order would be under the name Spike, I heard Synthia. So, when Spike came to pick up her order, there were no wings waiting. I checked the system, then double-checked just to be sure. But no, Spike did not exist. So, I found my manager and the kitchen re-cooked her order. Luckily it was only $6.75. However, at the end of the night a mystery bag remained. Synthia, it read. 5 Teriyaki wings with a side of cheesy potato wedges. Spike’s order. Whoops!

So, instead of discretely hiding the proof of my faux pas, I went to my manager and revealed my mistake. And guess what?! He said, “No big deal, take the wings home to your little sister.”

Lesson learned? Always own up to your mistakes. Saying, “Hey, I screwed up here and I’m sorry,” sounds way cooler than, “Umm… I don’t know what happened… I think it was the computer’s fault.” The truth is always better than a slapdash lie, and in the end your boss, your coworkers and your clients will always thank you for it.

3. No matter how petty the task, do it with upmost integrity. Let me tell you something, there is nothing I hate more than cleaning toilets. Specifically, public toilets. I mean honestly, who likes that? However, as a hostess it’s my job to clean the ladies’ restroom at the end of the night, toilets and all.

Now, some people might simply spray the toilets down with disinfectant and call it a job well done, but I am meticulous. I clean those freakin’ toilets until they shine like porcelain shrines. And you know why? Because it’s my job. That’s what I’m getting paid to do. If I’m already in the bathroom armed with chemicals and paper towels, why not to the best job I can do? So I scrub, and it’s disgusting, but nobody can say a bathroom has ever been left dirty by Briagenn.

Again, this translates to PR quite well. Who cares if you’re not working with a super cool client? It’s not a big deal if your campaign plan isn’t as cutting edge or as exciting as you had hoped. Do your best, no matter how tedious the task. Do your best for your client, and do your best for yourself.