Posts Tagged ‘professional development’

PRSA-NCC Members Told Social Media is ‘Where We Live Today’

Friday, May 11th, 2012

This post first appeared on Capitol Communicator 5.11.12 and is cross-posted with permission. 

PRSA-NCC session on Social Media

Shown in the picture, (l to r) Chris Brooks, Julie A. Weckerlein, Cappy Surette, Jennifer Mitchell and Gloria Huang. The session was moderated by Debbie Friez, vice president, BurrellesLuce.)

Five communicators made the case that social media is “where we live today” during a May 10 professional development session conducted by the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC).

The session at the Navy Memorial, “Social Media Tips and Success Stories for PR Pros,” featured Cappy Surette, director of public relations at U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; Chris Brooks, manager of social engagement at Hilton Worldwide; Julie A. Weckerlein, public affairs specialist at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Gloria Huang, senior social engagement specialist at the American Red Cross; and, Jennifer Mitchell, director of social media at BRG Communications. The session was moderated by Debbie Friez, vice president, BurrellesLuce.

Social media allows you to reach “a wider and more diverse audience than we can through the use of traditional media alone,” said Surrette. He and the other panelists said social media provides a great opportunity to attract advocates you may never have considered. These advocates, it was noted, can come to your aid when your organization is being challenged.

Brooks, who said his job at Hilton Worldwide is to put “heads in beds,” added social media allows you to build up a “community of supporters” in advance of a problem. He added , to be successful, you should consider multiple channels – such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Flickr. During his presentation, Brooks also offered these two observations: Approach social media in an organized manner and remember that “measurement is key.”

Regarding social media, Weckerlein told seminar attendees, “don’t be afraid to take calculated risks,” but use the “same voice” and present the “same message.” She also presented a case history from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showinghow cost effective social media can be for an organization. The real cost of the CDC campaign based on the Zombie Apocalypse preparedness relating it to hurricane preparedness was $87.00, but the campaign generated more than three million dollars in estimated marketing value.

In her presentation, Huang said, “you don’t have a choice on whether to do social media, the question is how well you do it.” She offered the followed social media principles employed by the American Red Cross: Be accurate, be relevant, be considerate, be transparent, be human and be compassionate.

Mitchell stated organizations do well in social media when they look beyond their own organization. As an example, she said that social media allows you to ask questions to your target audience to get them involved with your organization. In short, she said, personal relationships are more important than ever, so encourage your target audiences to interact with you. Content is king, and she reminded the audience, “People spread (share) awesome content. They don’t spread mediocre content. However, Mitchel also offered an observation that put social media into perspective: It’s an addition to, not a replacement for, “old” communications platforms.

The bottom line, according to Surrette, is that “You can’t control the sea of public opinion, but (using social media) you can at least navigate it.”


Phil Rabin has covered trends in communications for more than two decades for a number of media outlets. Currently, he is editor of Capitol Communicator,, an online resource working to bringing together communications professionals who influence and educate the Mid-Atlantic region by providing news, trends, education and opportunities for networking. Phil also is Vice President of West Glen Communications,, and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

The ‘You’ Brand: Planning and Executing Your Job Search (Pro-Am Day At Saint Louis University)

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
I am proud to be PRSSA chapter professional advisor for Southeast Missouri State University (my alma mater). SEMO had a whopping 14 students (the most for any one school) in attendance, despite being nearly two hours away from St. Louis!

I am proud to be PRSSA chapter professional advisor for Southeast Missouri State University (my alma mater). Despite being nearly two hours away from St. Louis, SEMO had a whopping 14 students, the most for any one school, in attendance at the PRSA St. Louis chapter’s Pro-Am Day!


On Friday, March 23, 2012, I participated in the PRSA St. Louis chapter’s Pro-Am Day. PRSSA chapters and communications students were invited to join public relations practitioners for a special professional development and networking event. Students from nine different universities, spanning both sides of the Mississippi River, were represented.

In addition to industry section roundtables and resume reviews, the event featured keynote speaker Carrie Muehlemann from The Creative Group, a specialized staffing firm and division of Robert Half International. Muehlemann shared strategies for developing and sustaining a personal brand that grabs potential employers’ attention, as well as statistics to support how implementing these tactics can aid in your search.

To land a job in today’s competitive public relations industry, PR professionals must view themselves as “brands,” and ensure all of their job-search materials evoke a compelling and cohesive message. Muehlemann recommended approaching the job search with a “lean forward” attitude, exuding positivity, energy, and individuality. But, she cautioned to be authentic.

Thirty-nine percent of marketing executives surveyed said they would not respond to gimmicky tactics (e.g., Sending a shoe with a note that you want to get your foot in the door.) Instead, Muehlemann suggested that you write a creative brief on yourself, whittling it down to 5-10 core attributes. Also, set goals, write them down and map a path to get there. For example, attend at least one networking event per month and post at least one industry article per week on LinkedIn. Be sure to practice your elevator speech. She also advised that your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should all match your “brand.”

Using Social Media to Create Your Personal Brand
As for social media, you don’t need to be everywhere.

  • Pick two or three platforms to focus on and keep them up-to-date.
  • Listen as much as you talk. Comment on industry blogs and actively participate. “Quality over quantity is key here,” Muehlemann stated.
  • Google yourself. Do the first page results represent who you are? If not, immediately begin doing digital damage control.

72 percent of advertising and marketing executives said they will “Google” an applicant and review his/her digital footprint, cites a February 2010 survey by The Creative Group.

Résumé Writing Tips
Muehlemann offered a few résumé writing tips:

  • Make your résumé easy to understand and follow.
  • Make it keyword rich, complete and thorough.
  • Include points that are relevant to the job, as well as ROI statements.
  • And above all, be sure your résumé is error free!

Résumé Follow Up Best Practices
What about after you’ve sent your résumé? Eighty-two percent of hiring executives surveyed said they DO want to hear from job candidates within the first two weeks of sending the résumé. Muehlemann suggested to first follow up via email. Include the job title in the email subject line, attach the résumé (again), and close with a call to action at the end of the message . If you have still not received a response, she suggested a phone call – but only after you’ve practiced your 30-second elevator speech ALOUD. Remember, be professional; there’s a line between assertive follow-up and harassment. 

Interview Tips
So, you’ve secured an interview. What should you do? Research the company (or clients that they represent, if it’s an agency) and the person(s) who will be conducting your interview and be ready with questions of your own. Also, when it comes time for the interview, be prepared to answer the standard questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How did you overcome a difficult situation or issue?
  • What is your value / why should I hire you? *Be ready with ROI statements

Finally, what do you do when you don’t get the job. Don’t take it personally. Ask for constructive feedback, as well as other positions. And, don’t forget to thank them for their time.

What would you add? What have you found helpful in your job search? Please share our thoughts here, with me, and the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.

Professional Development and Business Success: Video Interview w/ Joseph Thornley, Thornley Fallis Communications, and Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce, at the 2011 Counselors Academy

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and we’re here at Counselors Academy. And I’m joined by Joseph.

Joseph, will you please introduce yourself?

JOSEPH THORNLEY: Hi, I’m Joseph Thornley. I’m the CEO of Thornley Fallis Communications in Toronto and Ottawa, Canada.

BURKE: Joseph, you know, here at PRSA Counselors Academy, I know that this takes a weekend out of your life and a lot of time, and so it’s obviously very important. Can you talk about how you work your own professional development into your day-to-day, and how you encourage your staff to do that as well?

THORNLEY: Sure, absolutely. I think–I’m 59, and I was saying to my wife last night, because she’s here at the conference with me, that I’m still learning every day. And that’s what makes me know that I’m still alive. And I learn a lot by reading things online. I’m a big believer in RSS. I can find the people that I really care about and I can read what they have to say and I can learn, I can write about myself. But I come to conferences—I probably come to more conferences now than I did 20 years ago because I’m very often meeting the people I’ve been reading and I’m getting engaged in discussions with them, and it’s a true learning experience. What I look for in a conference is a session where I can have one actionable takeaway once an hour. And if I get that, it’s a tremendous success for me.

BURKE: Fantastic. Now, where can people connect with you online and in social media?

THORNLEY: They can connect with me, I’m thornley on Twitter and I’m—my blog is, P-R-O-P-R.C-A.

BURKE: Thank you so much.

THORNLEY: OK. Thank you, Johna.

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. 

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.


*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

PRSA Counselors Academy 2010: Abbie Fink, HMA PR, Interviewed by Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the PRSA Counselors Academy with Abbie.

Abbie, will you please introduce yourself?

ABBIE FINK: Sure. My name is Abbie Fink. I’m vice president and general manager of HMA Public Relations in Phoenix, Arizona.

BURKE: And, Abbie, you’re also the co-chair of Counselors Academy. Can you please talk a little bit about the programming and how you as an agent see–drive some of that content to make this a valuable attendee event for some of the participants?

FINK: Sure. Counselors Academy is a special interest group of the Public Relations Society of America, and it’s attended by owners and managers of public relations firms. And so we are all here–it’s our professional development opportunity for agency owners and managers to really learn about our businesses. We are talking about growth strategies, what are the trends that we’re seeing in the marketplace as it relates to social media, green initiatives, Hispanic communications; really, the types of things that we can look at as new revenue-generating sources, new business opportunities that we can then take back into our own markets and implement new programs and things that we’ve learned as a result of the conversations that we’ve had here.

BURKE: Great. Thanks, Abbie. And where can people find you on the web and in social media?

FINK: Well, thanks for that opportunity as well. We are on the web at We also host a blog at And then you can find me on Twitter @abbief, that’s A-B-B-I-E-F, and of course on HMA Public Relations page on Facebook. And I look very much forward to connecting with you there.

BURKE: Thanks, Abbie.

FINK: Thank you.