Having been in the industry of PR I have realized a lot of things that one needs to know in case you want to be a PR practitioner, because this is a field concerned with maintaining public image for high-profile people, organizations, or programs. Public Relations (PR) concerns professions working in public message shaping for the functions of communication, community relations, crisis management, customer relations, employee relations, government affairs, industry relations, investor relations, media relations, mediation, publicity, speech-writing, and visitor relations and finally graphics design.
They say internship is an extended interview process that will affect your future in the job market. The professionals you come in contact with during your internship may be a good reference after graduation. This is especially important, as an increasing number of employers require on-the-job experience for potential hires. The one month that I have been attached under collective action has really done me wonders, one of the duties I was to perform during my internship was to design collective action advert materials for meetings and event, the most recent project assignment was to design several advert materials for the project which were to be displayed at ILRI’s Annual Planning Meeting (APM) meeting which was help in in Ethiopia, last month. I decided to start with the poster, came up with a creative work plan which provided me with a framework for planning the work, and it was a guide during the period that I was working on the poster. In my mind I had a lot to cover so I had to look for a good headline and a sub head as well which would capture the reader’s attention, and as they say pictures are worth a thousand words, I had to look for a perfect picture that would represent the whole idea.
Deciding on the content however, given that I had limited space, I had to decide between what was important and what was not necessary. My decision was based on at least some factors, namely; what was I trying to achieve by presenting the posters? Is it to sell the product? Is it to tell people what i have done? Is it to tell people of a new discovery? Is it to convince people that one product or technique is better than another? Who will be attending the presentation? Are they technical people? What is the level of their knowledge of my subject area? The answers to these questions defined the type of content to include and set the tone of presentation.
CGMAP Ongoing Research in Africa gives one the access of hundreds of projects carried out by the CGIAR centers in the world we had to look for complete reasons why one should visit the map, what is in the map and where to find specific information on the projects that are in the map all this had to be done with a standard format. A good poster is readable, legible, well-organized and succinct. Before I begun shuffling charts, text and photos, I asked myself one question; If the viewer only carries away one idea, what do I want it to be? Posters tell stories. Your poster tells viewers what you did, why you did it and what you found out from doing it. My idea was to keep the poster simple and visually uncluttered, in that someone standing three feet away could quickly understand what each component was and why it was there and the poster columns would be easier for the eye to follow than information laid out left to right. The background materials and graphics would have straight edges and even margins.
I started a rough draft process crucial in deciding whether one needs to cut/add text or resize figures or fonts, decisions that entailed many hours of fussing and gnashing of teeth. After the draft i sent my supervisor a copy, to comment on mistakes done, she had to look at the word count, prose style, idea flow, figure clarity, font size, spelling, etc. she printed the poster on a letter-sized paper and we spent a couple of minutes rectifying on the areas that were not in good shape, like the poster’s layout, we had to maintain sufficient white space, kept column alignments logical, and provided clear cues to the readers on how they should “travel” through the poster elements. The strategy was “valuable for portrait-style poster where the bottom part of the paper almost touched the floor” (Purrington, C.B).
After a couple of days I had cleared the advert material needed for the event and sent a copy to my supervisor for approval. In life different individuals will have different views on how best to present certain information so I left Evelyn Katingi, CGMap coordinator to play her part. Days after the event we received an email accepting our poster to be presented in a Knowledge Share Fair; this is another great opportunity for us to think of designing a better one thanks to my supervisor.
Purrington, C.B. Designing conference posters. Retrieved 5th December, 2011, from http://colinpurrington.com/tips/academic/posterdesign.
Compiled by KENSIMON MUNENE