Name: Tressa Robbins
Bio: A country girl at heart, who loves the city, I’ve worked in marketing/public relations, consultative sales, and media relations for the better part of over 20 years. The skills acquired from these positions come in handy in my present role as Implementation Vice President at BurrellesLuce and in my role as President of the St. Louis chapter of PRSA. This is an exciting time of change in the world of media and public relations, and I hope to initiate conversations that will assist and support public relations professionals in the industry. In my personal time, love the outdoors, boating, fishing, camping and being mom to my three dogs. Twitter: @tressalynne; LinkedIn: TressaLynne; Facebook: BurrellesLuce
Posts by Tressa Robbins:
- Aurrice Duke, Vice President, Midwest Recruiting for PR Talent
- Nick Sargent, Manager, Intern Program Coordinator for Standing Partnership
- Shannon Gerli, Manager, Human Resources for Osborn Barr
- Monique Matthews Wolford, Senior Recruiter, Global Talent Acquisition for Monsanto
- Jeremy Cockrell, Director, Integrated Producer (Creative) for Osborn Barr
- Agency and corporate recruiters alike are looking for real world experience. This can be in the form of internships, student-run firms and volunteer activities.
- Gerli advised researching and knowing the company’s culture so you may follow the appropriate path. For example, a publicly held corporate environment or large global agency atmosphere are going to differ from creative shops.
- Duke advised clear, concise but effective explanations on resumes. She also stated there should be NO typos, and good use of white space—not too ”busy.” This is especially important where an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is used.
- Cockrell suggested focusing on accomplishments and results versus just descriptions.
- Wolford added that your results should be metrics-driven. She recommended you build a bridge between what you’ve done in the past and the position for which you’re applying.
- Sargent stressed that both your cover letter AND resume should be customized to each position. NOTE: This is especially important when ATS is utilized—your resume should include the key words/phrases from the job description, where appropriate. Never lie!
- Educational, but in a different way
- Emotionally Engaging
- Do your research. Know who you’re pitching to. It’s easier now than ever to quickly look up a journalist’s (or blogger’s) body of work to confirm what they write about.
- Customize your pitches. Whether you use mail merge or truly customize each pitch email, there’s no excuse for “Dear Reporter” and other generic communiques.
- Think broadly. Link your pitches to greater trends, offer up newsworthy angles, tie your pitches into the media agenda, and be sure to seek great visuals. Media professionals are very receptive to thorough on-target pitches.
- There is a content and media surplus.
- There is an attention deficit.
- The customer journey is dynamic.
- Consumers have tunnel vision.
- Everyone is influential (regardless of your Klout, PeerIndex, Kred scores).
- Storytelling: Media companies tell stories. Traditional news organizations also tell stories but theirs are typically recent and breaking news. Your brand as a media company will have to decide what story you want to tell and how you want to tell it.
- Content: Media companies are content machines with an “always on” mentality.
- Relevance: Media companies provide content that is relevant to those who are seeking information at a very specific moment in time.
- Ubiquity: Media companies are omnipresent. They dominate search engine results and their content is shared daily across various social channels.
- Agility: Media companies are nimble and able to move quickly. They have writers on-hand ready to produce content on any topic at any time, as well as creative teams capable of producing visual content on-demand. They are not captives to brand team or legal counsel approvals.
- Build a team.
- Assign roles and responsibilities.
- Define your brand narrative.
- Create channel strategy.
- Establish the content supply chain.
- Build real-time capabilities.
- Integrate converged media models.
- Invest in the right technology.
For the fourth year in a row, I had the pleasure of participating in the annual PRSA St. Louis Career Development Day (formerly known as Pro-Am Day) on Friday, February 28. PRSSA chapters, as well as PR, communications and mass media students within a few hours’ drive, were invited to join us for this phenomenal professional development and networking event. Of the more than 100 attendants were students representing 11 different universities from both sides of the Mississippi River—and from as far away as Murray, Kentucky!
Prior to the luncheon and the afternoon PR pro industry roundtable discussions, the day kicked off with a panel of PR talent and recruiting professionals:
The panel was moderated by Sandi Straetker, APR, who posed some basic but essential questions before taking questions from attendees. There was a ton of good information and I was writing so quickly that my notes are nearly indiscernible, but here are some highlights.
Many PR students choose to double major or minor in journalism, mass media, advertising, creative design and other communications-related areas, so we asked Cockrell to briefly discuss how students and pros alike may showcase samples of their work. There are so many sites and tools out there it would be impossible to name them all but he suggested WordPress, Wix, Blogger and SquareSpace as relatively simple options with pre-created templates to choose from. However, if you’re leaning to the creative and design side, Behance offers the most customization (no templates). Cockrell suggested CodeAcademy as a great resource to learn basic coding. He noted that this skill will also give you a leg up on those candidates who have no coding knowledge.
Even if you have no real-world experience, you have options. You could create a made-up campaign and build a portfolio around it. (NOTE: Always disclose if it’s made-up work!) However, Sargent suggested an even better option would be to volunteer for a non-profit organization in event planning, media relations, social media, marketing creative, digital content—wherever you can get some relevant experience.
Finally, all job seekers should be aware of what can be found about them online. The HR professionals on the panel stated they do look at LinkedIn profiles but not a candidate’s Facebook page, as people are entitled to their personal lives—and they are prohibited by law to access any information that could be used in a discriminatory way. However, they admitted that personal and professional lines are now blurred so be careful and use good judgment about what you’re posting, and be very cognizant and diligent about your Facebook privacy settings. On the other hand, many hiring managers do vet job candidates through social media and indicated that business-appropriate Twitter (and Google Plus community) sharing and participation is encouraged.
Do your job hunting experiences jibe with our panelists’ advice? Do you have additional advice to offer?
PS – I told you there was a ton of great information! And this was just from the opening panel. Stay tuned for some personal branding tips and statistics from the keynote speaker in my next post.
You studied hard, joined PRSSA, did multiple internships, networked, graduated, networked some more and got a job. Phew! Now, you no longer have to worry about your LinkedIn activity, participate in that Twitter chat or attend local industry events, right? Wrong!
In case you haven’t already figured it out, the PR industry is like a big small-town. There aren’t six degrees of separation, in many cases there are barely three. It seems everyone knows everyone (or knows someone who knows someone). This tight-knittedness is capable of swinging the pendulum in your favor–or not. The choice, really, is yours.
How do you hold on to that network you’ve worked so hard to build? How do you continue to build that network, and make it work for you?
1. My first suggestion is to not just attend your PRSA chapter meetings, but volunteer and get involved. As current president of the PRSA-St. Louis Chapter, I can tell you that having new pros on our committees are just as important as having senior pros. You provide a different perspective, and we need all viewpoints represented. In addition, You will work side-by-side with seasoned pros, who will get to know your solid work ethic first-hand and meet people you may have not have had access to otherwise. Volunteering is work, and creates work experience.
2. Participate in Twitter chats. Not just #NPPRSA, but other industry-related chats, such as #PRprochat started by Carrie Morgan, or the #SoloPR chat spearheaded by Kellye Crane. Not only may you meet your next recruit, but many senior pros participate in those chats as well. Doing this keeps you in front of your network, expands your network, and may even provide informational content you can later expand into a blog post!
3. Join applicable LinkedIn groups and participate in the discussions. Don’t feel like you can’t contribute if you don’t know the answers–ask questions, there may be others with the same question.
4. I’m sure you have certain industry-leading blogs to which you subscribe. Don’t just read those posts, comment and reply to other comments. Add value to the community. Warning: be careful to not over-do it; you don’t want to comes across as a stalker.
5. Finally, swinging back to #1 – involvement in your local PR organization. You should at least set a goal of attending one event per quarter (4 per year). And don’t just attend; make a point of introducing yourself to at least three new people at each event. Then, within a couple days of the event, connect with them on LinkedIn—reminding them where you met and thanking them for the conversation, then follow-up. The follow-up doesn’t have to be often but does need to be pertinent and professional.
A case in point: a while back I wrote a post on mentoring for BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. In it, I mentioned that Lori George Billingsley, director of issues communications at The Coca-Cola Company and past PRSA Multicultural Communications Section chair, claims her mentor has been instrumental in helping her secure all of the PR jobs she’s held. That’s a pretty powerful testament to her networking, diligence and professionalism!
There’s no doubt that social media makes it much easier to keep in touch with people. However, no matter how much you keep in touch electronically, nothing beats face-to-face conversations to build your network!
Share what you’re doing to build and strengthen your network in the comments below.
This post originally appeared on the blog PRNewPros.
As public relations and communications professionals, we all create content. Writing is a core competency to this profession, and is frequently discussed with and emphasized to those preparing for a career in PR. While it’s still true that writing skills are critical, and are no less important than they were, storytelling is now more than just words.
At a recent IABC St. Louis and PRSA St. Louis joint event, Dave Collett, EVP and GM of Weber Shandwick St. Louis, and Chris Vary, VP digital at Weber Shandwick Southwest, offered examples and tips on how to create compelling content that stands out.
The world’s digital content is increasingly findable and sharable. There is a volume explosion occurring in social and digital content! Using content from an EMC Study called “Extracting Value from Chaos,” Collett and Vary showed a chart demonstrating the growth—about nine times what it was five years ago. In 2011, that was 1.8 zettabytes (new word for me—one zettabyte is approximately one billion terabytes, which in bytes is a one followed by 21 zeros). The study also estimates that by 2015, there will be 7.9 zettabytes of data in existence. These numbers are more than staggering, they’re overwhelming! With the amounts of content filling up cyberspace, your content must be as compelling as ever.
What makes content contagious? According to Vary and Collett, you should ask yourself why would people care, and why would people share? The answers should be that the content is:
They offered up several examples of wildly popular campaigns. Red Bull’s Stratos – Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 128,000 feet – which broke all kinds of records (and not just the physical ones). This demonstrates Red Bull’s success with promoting a lifestyle, not just a product.
You don’t have to have those kinds of numbers for your campaign to be a success. Vary and Collett presented another example–Stratasys, a company that makes 3D printers. They “printed” a robotic exoskeleton for a little girl who couldn’t raise her arms. She dubbed them her “magic arms.” There was lots of media coverage and I dare you to watch the YouTube video and not get a little misty-eyed. (Note if you’re in a hurry, after the first two minutes, jump to 2:55 for the rest.) This is an emotionally engaging example of focusing on the human side and the product’s effect of on people.
Content doesn’t always have to be serious. Content doesn’t have to be expensive, either. It can even be irreverent—depending, of course, on your industry and organization’s business mission. Just take a look at DollarShaveClub.com’s brotastic and amusing “Our Blades are F***ing Great” campaign.
Vary and Collett stressed that while these are all YouTube examples, and video is a great platform, compelling content doesn’t have to be video. Mappings have been trending in the past year or so. Haven’t we all done the New York Times Online questionnaire that asks you questions about your vernacular and then predicts where you live or are from? Facebook offered up its own version of mapping with the NFL team allegiance charts. You can create features like this yourself by using the Facebook graph search, using U.S. census data, or another data source—the key is to package it in a compelling manner.
The bottom line is, it’s not just about awareness anymore. PR now creates awareness and engagement—actions, enrollments, sales, whatever—to support the overall business objectives of the organization. What are some of the most compelling pieces of content you’ve seen recently, and what aspects have you applied to your own content? How do you continue to create compelling content, and where do you find your inspiration?
A few weeks ago as the new year approached, I took a stroll down Fresh Ideas memory lane by re-reading some old posts. As I did so, I ran across one I penned back in February of 2010, titled The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.
Word geek sidebar: Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, a French journalist, and novelist in the 1800’s, is credited with the epigram “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” (technically, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” translated to “the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”).
Once again, I was struck that not much has changed in the realm of media relations. Sure, delivery methods have evolved with technology but really not much else. As a matter of fact, it seems to be the opposite is occurring—we’re going back to the basics.
It used to be that blasting out a bland press release to a ginormous number of media outlets was the thing to do — not because it was a good tactic, but simply because technology made it easy. We got lazy — and so did reporters. It became not uncommon for a newspaper to publish the release verbatim, passing it off as a story. So you got the “hit,” you scored eyeballs, people saw it. That means your media relations campaign was successful, right? Um, no, not necessarily—not if those eyeballs weren’t the right ones.
Let’s say your client is opening a new pub and grill catering to the young professional crowd. Are you going to target the AARP magazine? Okay, so that was a bit extreme, let’s try another example. Your local veterans organization wants to notify residents of a memorial for a soldier killed in action, so a release is blasted out to every media outlet and community groups in the area—but no one really looked at the list. If they had, someone would have noticed the Westboro church bulletin was on it. Essentially, you’ve just formally invited a hate group—known for protesting such events. Oops.
We’ve come to realize that just because it’s easy to do something doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be done. We are taking a step back—back to the basics. It’s okay to use the tools available to you (media directory database) but that’s the starting point.
As this diagram shows, the realistic PR sweet spot tends to be with communications that are more personalized (though not necessarily individually-tailored), and sent to a select few, not just one person, and not massive email list.
I’ve followed Michael (aka @Britopian) and virtually interacted with him for a couple years and but had not met him in real life—that is, until Social:IRL brought him to St. Louis to present “How A Social Business Strategy Can Enable Better Content, Smarter Marketing And Deeper Customer Relationships.”
The book just arrived and I haven’t yet had a chance to read it, but below are just a few snippets from his presentation.
Brito began with the five truths that are shaping today’s digital ecosystem:
To top it off, with all this chaos, business objectives remain constant. This means YOU have to change, and Brito suggests you and your organization start to think and act like a media company. Change makes sense, but why a media company? What is a media company anyway?
According to Brito, your brand must adopt these five characteristics if you want to break through the clutter.
Brito goes beyond the “why” and details the “how to:”
He discussed his definition of a social business strategy, the pillars of the social business transformation, using social business framework to enable positive outcomes, and more. I have several pages of notes from his presentation and will provide some additional takeaways in my next post but a couple of blog posts cannot summarize 247 pages of integrated marketing brilliance as well as multiple case studies from brand leaders worldwide!
Do you agree that brands must become, or are already transforming into, media companies? Is your brand (or client) moving in this direction?