As a PRSSA professional adviser and PR student mentor, I often get questions about job searching, professional networking etiquette, cover letters, interview preparation and follow-up, and résumé writing (as well as personal branding). Those questions are typically prefaced with “how do I …” and followed by “will you read what I wrote and give me feedback”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I get incredible joy and satisfaction from helping and mentoring PR students and gladly do so; however, I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that I should write this stuff down so I could just send a ‘canned’ response to some of those frequently asked questions—just to save time.
Last Fall, I was contacted via Twitter by Danny Rubin who had just completed a book called, “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?” and subtitled, “Game-Changing Templates for Networking and the Job Search”. He knew (from my bio and various social media activity) that I do a lot with PR students and thought it might be helpful. A free book? Um, yes, please! Then I completely forgot about it until a couple months later when the book arrived in the mail along with a personal note from Danny. After skimming through, I knew within minutes that this book is as good as GOLD to, not just students but young pros or really anyone—especially those who’ve been out of job search mode for some time.
Around that same time, I was planning the PRSA St. Louis annual Career Development Day and thought this would be the perfect opening keynote topic. Fortunately, we were able to bring Danny in for the event to speak and do a mini-writing workshop and it was so helpful I wanted to share with you a few takeaways.
Use the power of storytelling in your cover letters , bio, etc. (even during the interview) to make you stand out from the crowd.
- Lead with a compelling personal story—an anecdote that you can relate to the job skills required.
- Stories, told properly, will capture the reader’s attention and keep them reading.
- Unique details matter!
- A personal story will leave a more lasting impression and makes you more memorable.
- Starting and ending on the same story (a technique that professional journalists use) demonstrate that you “get it,” and that you know how to apply these tactics in a real-world setting.
So how do you do this? I’ll share an excerpt from Danny’s book (Chapter 9: The Power of Stories) where he steps the reader through the six parts of a storytelling cover letter.
Danny’s outline for the storytelling cover letter:
- Open with a line that places readers into the story. Grab their attention and make them think.
- Include concrete details about the story. The more specific you are, the more colorful the anecdote, the more memorable you will be. Quantify your results—provide hard numbers when appropriate.
- Demonstrate how the story applies to the job by referring to the job description—making sure the anecdote reflect the person the company is looking to hire.
- Show you did your research and understand how the company fits into the marketplace by explaining how you will help the company grow its business and make it more successful.
- Share more of your qualities as they relate to the story. Again, referencing the job description, touch on qualities you know the company admires and show how you would be a good cultural fit.
- Mention your story one final time and bring the cover letter full circle.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Danny offers up more than 100 templates demonstrating various scenarios and taking the guesswork out of applying these techniques.
Do you have an example of how you’ve done this effectively that you’d care to share with our readers? Or additional thoughts to offer?
by Emma Hawes
It’s that time of year when you hesitate posting a political gaffe of a candidate in fear that your Facebook page will become a battle ground by posting the article. The truth is election brings out the worst in both parties. Let’s stop fighting for a moment and think about how awesome, and scary, it is that the future of our country is determined by your vote. So not only do your part and vote this election, but do your research over candidates from non-biased sites. It is inevitable that all candidates make mistakes regardless of the party.
Cue the music-
If there’s one mistake we see each year, it’s a political candidate or campaign manager who does not ask an artist to use their music. It just backfires and makes the candidate look bad for not doing their research. Even though a musician might share the same political views they may not want to endorse the candidate. Songwriters need to be included too because Sam Moore changed the lyrics of the Sam and Dave hit “Soul Man” to “Dole man” for Bob Dole. However, the songwriter Isaac Hayes demanded a cease and desists where eventually the song wasn’t played. Enter Sam Moore in 2008, when he asked Barack Obama to quit using “Hold On I’m Coming.” His statement included how his vote was a private matter between him and the ballot box. However, he did perform for Obama later at the 2013 Inaugural Ball.
Whatever you say on the Internet is eternal because a screenshot of a deleted post lives forever. That happened to Bernie Sanders when a tweet was sent out that said, “Greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance. These are just some of the adjectives we use to describe Wall Street.” The tweet was deleted because the words were nouns not adjectives. It’s okay if you have to sing a Schoolhouse Rock song while writing to reintegrate basic grammar.
Cruz fired his communication director around two weeks after the Iowa Caucus. Lies were spread about Ben Carson suspending his campaign after Cruz won Iowa and Rubio’s religious beliefs. Just creating a lie about the opposing candidate is bad and if issues arise the first time the director should not even have a second chance.
When celebrating, don’t get crazy–
Before John Kerry won the Democratic ticket in 2004 enter Howard Dean, the man who won the coveted Iowa Caucus. He stated his excitement how he was going to win states then a scream that doomed his political career. Not only does that moment live on YouTube, but Dave Chappelle made a skit, which parodied the scream.
Everyone is important –
Where does one begin on Donald Trump’s comments about different races and women? His comments about reporter Megyn Kelly is just one of the many numerous comments. That is not a smart way to pick your battles considering that according to NY Magazine single women are currently the strongest political force.
However, during a debate, Ted Cruz stated most Americans could not relate to Trump because he had New York Values. Well Cruz’s mistake was just as bad because it is like calling someone from a rural area in Wyoming a country idiot.
Also, as much as you might want to get a certain demographic don’t try to reach out too hard. Hillary Clinton faced flack for the Hispanic community when she posted an article that said “7 ways Hillary Clinton is just like your Abuela.” Soon after the post was made, #notmyabuela became a trending topic on Twitter. Instead, she should have made the post in different languages to reach out to different demographics instead of speaking Spanglish.