Posts Tagged ‘career advice’


Networking: Keeping Contacts as a New Professional

Monday, February 24th, 2014
flickr user klynslis under CC BY license

flickr user klynslis under CC BY license

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.

What Public Relations Students Should Do During Summer Break

Monday, June 3rd, 2013
Flickr.com: QueensU

Flickr.com: QueensU

Those who were seniors this past year are now graduated and moved on, leaving room for the next class of future PR professionals to fill their shoes—to take next steps on the path of their PR student career.  So, what should they be doing during summer break? Listed below are a few items that came to my mind (but I’m hoping some of our PR pro friends will chime-in with additional tips):

  • Set short-term goals. For example, attend at least one professional industry networking event over the summer. Or, read industry blogs and/or articles and comment on at least one each week.
  • Set long-term goals, write them down and number them in order of importance. For example, attend at least one industry professional networking event per semester. And/or get involved with on-campus pre-professional organization (like PRSSA or AMA).
  • Work on your portfolio. Gather writing samples–or create some by volunteering to write a guest blog post, or better yet, start your own blog. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, research papers, newspaper clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. If you haven’t yet created an online portfolio, do so. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you will be come graduation time. NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.
  • Practice your elevator speech. You should have a 30-second spiel that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills but rather what you can offer to a potential employer. Practice OUT LOUD. Use your smartphone to record yourself so you can play it back and make improvements.
  • Clean-up and hone your online presence—including your social media accounts. Google yourself  (be sure to ‘hide personal results’ by clicking the globe in the upper right)–and don’t forget Bing and Yahoo!. If the first page results do not represent who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. This is even more important if you have a common name and can easily be confused with a dubious doppelgänger. Seek out and follow industry leaders so you can network and learn from the professionals, not just fellow students.
    • Not sure what “digital damage control” is? Here are some tips from CareerBuilder on CNN.com.
    • Don’t think employers are using the Web and social media to research job candidates? Read this from the Wall Street Journal.
  • PR professionals must view themselves as “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should present a cohesive message. Work on ensuring that all these match your “brand.”
  • Research agencies, organization, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Reach out to them and request an information interview. Face-to-face is best but Skype or Google+ Hangouts work, too. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest.
  • If you have free time, volunteer at a local non-profit organization and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. This is experience—it all counts!

What else should students (or young PR pros) be doing in preparation for their career?  If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) to progress your career? We want to hear from you.

Taking Control of Your Career: 7 Tips From ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office’ Applicable to All Genders

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

by Deborah Gilbert-Rogers*

books_office

As the New Year progresses, I find myself drawn to reading a number of professional coaching, personal finance, marketing and sales books. Being a bit of a book junkie and wanting to reduce clutter, I now download samples to the Kindle app on my smart phone before purchasing a physical copy. (This is one millennial who won’t give up her physical books.)

One sample captured my attention recently, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, to such the extent that I purchased and downloaded a digital copy of the book right then and there! Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, part of Dr. Lois P. Frankel’s  Nice Girls series, examines the unconscious messages women are taught in girlhood – which may or may not be helpful – that are then continued in womanhood and how these behaviors and messages influence a woman’s ability to progress in her career (as well as other areas of her life).

For Frankel the emphasis is on the word “girl” not on “nice.” Dr. Frankel is the first to point out these learned behaviors are not exclusive to women and that men experience their own set of messages in boyhood that affect them in manhood. However, our culture has an insidious way of encouraging woman to continue girlhood messages and behaviors in ways that differ from men.

Here are some of the “mistakes” I think relate to most business and PR professionals, regardless of gender, and tips for taking charge of your career.

1. Not Understanding the Needs of Your Constituents: Whether it’s our client, CEO, stakeholder, customer or target audience – we all have people that we serve. It is imperative to know what they need and want. Otherwise we risk missing an opportunity by not providing value. “The trap many women fall into is thinking they know what’s best for their constituents and therefore not asking the right questions on the front end,” writes Frankel. One way Frankel suggests to overcome this behavior is to “be more concerned with doing the right thing than doing things right.” In other words, don’t be afraid to shift perspectives as new data emerge and as change is warranted.

2. Skipping Meetings: Attending meetings is just as much about personal branding and marketing as it is about the content explains Frankel. She suggests, “Using meetings as an opportunity to showcase a particular skill or piece of knowledge (provided it’s not note taking or coffee making.)”  Additionally, “Ask to be invited to a meeting where you’ll have the chance to meet senior management or make a presentation about something for which you need support.”

3. Ignoring the Importance of Network Relationships: Years ago people believed that showing-up for work and doing a good job would be enough to protect their careers, explains Frankel. Unfortunately many still buy into this belief today and have been taught that building relationships at work wastes time and distracts from the job at hand. Frankel suggests actively participating in a professional association and developing relationships before they are needed. If you wait until you need the relationship, it is too late.  

4. Making Up Negative Stories: As PR and communications professionals we understand the importance of storytelling and the power it has to influence audience perception and behavior. However, as women we have a habit of creating negative stories and assuming we’ve done something wrong in order to explain a mistake or why something didn’t go as planned, addresses Frankel. In the workplace, this negatively affects our ability to take positive risks and trust our intuition. Frank suggestions beginning to “replace negative stories with neutral ones” and to look at “alternative scenarios that could explain what has happened that have nothing to do with you doing something wrong.”

5. Failing to Define Your Brand: Just like corporate branding and marketing, personal branding involves defining the value you bring to the table and how you stand apart from the competition. Frankel advises coming up with three to five things you enjoy most about your position as a way to start defining your personal brand. The reason? “We tend to be good at what we like,” notes Frankel. Then relate these strengths to your position and what you bring to it. Having these statements in place will help set you apart from the competition, whether that is within the organization or externally when delivering a proposal to a client or prospect.

6. The Inability to Speak the Language of Your Business: While there are times when it is best to avoid jargon, you must still be able to use the language of the entire business. “Influence comes from knowing the business, and one of the best ways you can exercise your influence is to use language unique to your industry and profession,” writes Frankel. Beyond your area of expertise and department, familiarize yourself with the ROI, bottom line, and other performance indicators of your corporation or client. BurrellesLuce offers a great newsletter on Finance for Communicators which is available in our free resource center.

7. Using Gestures Inconsistent with Your Message: Presentation is everything. Your “gestures should be integrated with your energy,” remarks Frankel. Don’t be afraid to take up space – a behavior that runs counter to what many women have been taught. Frankel suggests “allowing gestures to flow naturally from your spoken message” and to “match your gestures to the size of your audience.”

What professional books have you read lately that you’ve found helpful? Share your recommendations here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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Bio: After graduating from Rider University, where she received a B.A. in English-writing and minor degrees in Gender Studies and French, Deborah joined the BurrellesLuce Marketing team in 2007.  As a marketing specialist she continues to help develop the company’s thought leadership and social media efforts, including the copywriting and editing of day-to-day marketing initiatives and management of the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: @BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: dgrogers

Career Building Tips for Sports PR and General Public Relations from Rich Dalrymple

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Katie Levy, Southeast Missouri State University

Katie Levy, from Southeast Missouri State University PRSSA Chapter, tried on Rich Dalrymple's Super Bowl Championship ring exclaiming, "It's prettier than an engagement ring!"

Rich Dalrymple, Dallas Cowboys spokesperson and vice president of public relations and communications, recently spoke to eager PR students at the PRSSA Regional Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. In an earlier post, I shared a typical week in the life of Dallas Cowboys public relations.

Below are some of the tips Dalrymple offered during his presentation. While some suggestions are relative to PR students seeking a career in sports communications, others are timeless and can be applied to anyone working in PR.

1. Study the careers of other public relations professionals. Knowing where other people have been can help you figure out where you want to go with your career.

2. Hone your writing skills. “If you can write, you can do any job,” explained Dalrymple. He believes this is true as writing teaches you how to organize your thoughts, organize your ideas, and structure them in a way that others can understand. This is especially true in public relations. You can write speeches for the CEO, communicate messages to stockholders, explain policies to employees, etc.  If you can write and communicate well, you are able to organize other aspects of your life and business, too.

3. Work at your university’s communications office, university sports department, official events, etc. If you can’t do that, then find an off-campus job as an undergrad. You need real-world experience BEFORE your senior year. I was glad to hear him reinforce this as I’ve been advising PR students that if they’ve waited until their senior year to begin job searching and networking, then they’re already behind the eight ball!

4. Find a mentor. There is no substitute for shadowing pros and riding their coattails, so to speak. If you’re lucky enough to “find Superman,” Dalrymple said, hold onto his cape and you may find yourself taken to heights you’ve never been and maybe never could have on your own.  He uses himself as an example, saying that he hung onto one of his early bosses and mentor, making him in 1990 the youngest NFL PR guy at the age of 30! He did admit that luck also helps.

5. Find what you do well. Put yourself in a position to showcase those skills and attributes and a positive impression.  Dalrymple also stressed that you shouldn’t be afraid to start small—it’s okay if your first job(s) are not “sexy.” Find the decision-makers and get to know them and what they like. Dalrymple went on to say that so much of what you learn in public relations crosses over to advertising, marketing, sales, and other communications disciplines.  Yes, he said PR is sales – you’re selling ideas, strategies, views, concepts.

6. Read a newspaper every day. Online or in print doesn’t really matter, but read ALL the sections – not just sports, or just local, or wherever your interest lies. Read every section, even international. You need to see big picture of the news and world to know how and where you fit. 

7.  Figure out your dream job. Start mapping a path to get you there. He said “fantasize, and then strategize.”

What PR career building tips would you add to the list? Please share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas by leaving a comment below.

Client Meetings: Know Your Role

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

by Denise Giacin*

client meetingYou finally confirmed a meeting with the client you have been trying to schedule with for weeks. Your boss is watching closely and you know this opportunity is too important to fly by the seat of your pants. Sometimes being face-to-face with a client is cause for momentary lapses in judgment. Sitting across the table from someone you lose the comfort of writing carefully worded emails or the ability to hide your hair twirling habit a client never sees on a conference call. Everyone has quirks; however, it’s important to know how to keep yourself in check during client meetings. 

These six tips will help you stay focused and reassure your clients they are in the best hands and can serve as an important reminder for both new and seasoned professionals alike.

Be Prepared.
Know who you are meeting with and have enough materials for everyone attending. (Bring extra just in case there is a last minute sit-in.) Make sure you understand the reason for the meeting as well as how you are going to contribute. If you are demonstrating a new product or service, make arrangements for everything you need (such as a laptop, Internet connection, conference room, etc). The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be and the more confident your clients will be in your abilities to provide them with the services they need. 

Communicate.
Fully understand the product or service you are presenting and provide accurate and intelligible information to your client. Speak clearly, intellectually and choose your words wisely. Remember: you will need to adjust your approach depending on who you are meeting with, their familiarity with your product or service, and their position in the company. 

Never Say Never.
While it is important to manage client expectations, try to avoid saying “no” or “impossible” during your meeting. If a situation arises, communicate how you will make an effort to look into any concerns or requests and that you will get back to them with a solution or appropriate alternatives. And give them a timeline of when you plan to follow up.

No Complaining.
Clients do not want to hear how bad your day is going or how much work you have at the office. Pointing out negativity is only going to lead the conversation in that direction. Focus on positive, energetic conversation points to keep your client interested in what you have to say.

Dress Professionally.
This should be a no-brainer; after all, you are a representation of your company. You do not want to show up at a meeting looking like you just rolled out of bed. Depending on your corporate culture, your dress may vary. Most companies make it quite clear how they would like you to dress and if there is any confusion you should inquire with your supervisor.

Mind Your Manners.
Always be polite and respectful. Never swear or use derogatory language, even if your client speaks freely. If you are having a meal, use proper etiquette. If alcohol is involved, know your limits and do not cross the line. Your maturity in these situations is reflective of how you will handle the account and, again, reflects on your company or brand.

If you are new to the area of client services, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of client-facing meetings? If you are a seasoned PR, marketing, or client service pro – what tips can you give for weathering client meetings? What have been some of the challenges you have faced at client meetings and how have you handled them? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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*Bio: Prior to joining the BurrellesLuce Client Service team in 2008, Denise worked in the marketing industry for three years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Connecticut, where she gained experience interning in PR and working for student organizations. By engaging readers on the Fresh Ideas blog Denise hopes to further her understanding of client needs. In her spare time, she is passionate about Team in Training (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s charity sports training program) and baking cupcakes. Her claim to fame: red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. LinkedIn: dgiacin Twitter: @denise10283 Facebook: BurrellesLuce