Posts Tagged ‘PRSSA’


Five Back-to-School Tips for Public Relations Students

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Back to schoo tips public relations students Tressa Robbins PR Public Relations Press Clipping Media Monitoring

flickr user katerha under CC BY

Mentoring, advising and otherwise helping PR students is a passion of mine. You may know that I’ve previously written about what public relations students should do during their summer break, what PR students can do to build their personal brand, and more. If you are an underclassman, you have the advantage of time; however, if you are entering your senior year, there is no time but the present.

Here is a mash-up of those tips (and some new ones) to help put you on the right path to becoming a new public relations professional.

  • First things first, clean-up and refine 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 you and who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. (This is even more important if you have a common name or have a dubious doppelgänger out there.) There are free tools to help you keep an eye on your online reputation –personally, I use BrandYourself.

Human Resources professionals will likely tell you they look at LinkedIn profiles but not a candidate’s Facebook page or other social media, as they are prohibited by law to access any information that could be used in a discriminatory way. However, they will also admit that many hiring managers do vet job candidates through online/social sleuthing. Proof in point: According to the 2013 Jobvite study, 94 percent of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts.

  • Read, write, repeat. Reading exercises your brain. Writing is a skill that requires practice. But it’s more than that. Reading improves your vocabulary, makes you a better conversationalist, gives you a broader understanding of language and improves your storytelling skills (a key component of public relations). Sure, industry-related content is important but also read general news and (try to) read for fun as well.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ~Stephen King

 

  • Volunteer. Get involved with an on-campus pre-professional organization (like PRSSA, AMA or AAF). That doesn’t mean show-up once or twice a month and sit through a guest speaker or meeting. Run for office and/or lead a committee (demonstrates leadership). Head-up a fundraising event, volunteer to be part of a team, work in the student-run PR firm (if there is one). 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. Do something that’s going to give you experience and help sharpen your skills—it all counts!
  • Network—virtually and IRL. Seek out and follow industry leaders on Twitter, LinkedIn groups, and blogs so you can learn from the pros; but don’t just lurk—participate! Attend industry events (not just those for students but where there will be pros as well). Research agencies, organizations, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Develop and 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, rather what you can offer to a potential employer. Use your smartphone to record yourself so you can play it back and make improvements. Then, reach out to your targets and request an informational interview. If face-to-face isn’t an option, Skype or Google+ Hangouts are good alternatives. 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. Doing this NOW allows you time to make a quick change to a more pertinent elective, audit a course or self-teach additional skills.
  • Create an online portfolio if you haven’t already. Gather writing samples from internships, volunteer gigs, blog posts, class assignments. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, newspaper/media clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. (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.) PR professionals must view themselves as “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your online portfolio, business cards, blog, resume, etc. should all present one cohesive message.

What else should students be doing to prepare for their PR career?  If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) that’s helped to progress your career?

Your Public Relations Career May Start With a Post-Grad Internship

Thursday, May 8th, 2014
flickr user Ian Norman under CC BY license

flickr user Ian Norman under CC BY license

Hats off to those PR students who recently graduated, and to those who are about to walk—in your commencement ceremony and into the next chapter of your lives!

You are likely now focused on the job search.  Many grads will quickly realize that they don’t have what it takes to get that entry-level job. Yes, I know entry-level would seem to indicate just that—no experience required, but in PR (and some other industries as well) things work a bit differently.  Most entry-level public relations jobs ask for at least one year of experience. In some cases, they may also ask for additional skills such as graphic design, publication layout, web coding—ones that are historically outside the realm of traditional PR or summer internships. While it can seem frustrating that to get work experience you need work experience, there is a way to get that: the post-graduate internship.

Through various touch points, including being professional adviser to PRSSA-SE over the past few years (and previously PRSA-St. Louis’ PRSSA liaison), I have had occasion to talk with students, graduates, new pros, faculty and hiring professionals.  Post-grad internships seem to be a trend so I did a little digging, and to my surprise, found it wasn’t exactly a new trend.

I stumbled upon a post from 2009 on PR Channel’s (now abandoned)  blog, which quoted Meg Carosello (nee Fullenkamp), who heads up PR at Captiva Marketing in St. Louis, where she said, even if you’ve graduated without internship experience, it’s not too late.

First, don’t be afraid to do a post-grad internship. My first internship was after graduation at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. It was for 2 months, not much pay, but I learned so much and got to work with major editors at publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News and more! This internship gave me valuable experience that made me more attractive to employers. Secondly, don’t be afraid to do more than one post-grad internship. After my time was over at Opera Theatre, I landed a position as an intern in the marketing communications group at Fleishman Hillard. I had applied at FH twice before and didn’t even get an interview. My internship at Opera Theatre made me extremely attractive on paper and I landed the job. While my six months at FH were crazy, it was great having such a large agency on my resume.”

I reached out to Meg to see how she felt about that quote today (and to ask permission to use it). She noted the PR world has changed a lot in the past several years and by adding web and digital marketing skills, she’s not only keeping relevant but it has made her a much better resource for her clients. She said, “By taking chances on something new and continuing to learn something new every day I have found my niche even though it was not necessarily my original plan when I graduated and I am much happier now because of it.”

As if to punctuate the point, I found a recent post by Nicole Bersani, who had plenty of undergrad experience between a couple internships and her work for ImPRessions (Ohio University’s nationally-affiliated student-run firm) but still chose to take another internship after graduation. She did this to get her foot in the door at a globally recognized agency, and successfully leveraged that internship into a full-time job!

Whether you’ve been told you need additional experience, want to check-out a new city (or country), or are simply trying figure out what you want to do, there are plenty of reasons to take a post-grad internship. You should expect to be paid, be committed to the job that you accept, and be willing to work beyond “normal” hours. Be inquisitive. Be open to all opportunities.

Most of all, don’t feel bad if this is what you need to do. The job title doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are moving toward your next goal—which is to find a job that is satisfying.

PR Career Tips: Get Screened IN, Not OUT

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

PR Career Tips Get Screened In Not Out Tressa Robbins BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasFor 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.

  • 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!

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.

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.

This Week’s Shot of Fresh: Statues, Socialocity, The Loop, Compelling Content, Groundhog Day, Advocados, Quoting Accurately, and Lawyer Up

Friday, February 7th, 2014
Squared Splash by flickr user derekGavey used under CC BY

Squared Splash by flickr user derekGavey used under CC BY

It’s been a busy two weeks here at Fresh Ideas. This week’s Shot of Fresh rounds up our Fresh Ideas content for the past two weeks:

Get Thee to a Lawyer: What You Need to Know About Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law

Almost every commercial email falls under purview of this law, so if you have affiliates, headquarters, clients, or leads in Canada, there’s a lot to do before July 1.

Issuing Citations: How to Quote Wisely and Accurately

Friends don’t let friends misquote. Misquotes shift the focus from your message to your mistake – here are some tips to quote someone accurately.

Jargonology Episode 3: Advocado

Don’t be an advocado – that’s what fact-checking is for. Don’t know what that means? Check out the video for your latest jargon jar addition.

Five PR Takeaways From Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is still just once a year, but PR lessons from the movie are forever.

How to Build a Brand Using Compelling Content

It’s the age of content marketing but that content needs to be compelling and contagious in order add to the brand. Check out the three E’s of contagious content.

The Loop: A 360° Approach to Public Relations – Registration Now Open

Know a PR student? Then they should attend The Loop, a PRSSA conference in downtown Chicago early next month. Plus, our own Tressa Robbins is a speaker.

Art Discourse, or Community PR?

When an ultra-lifelike, nearly naked statue of a sleepwalking man appears on the Wellesley College campus (a women’s college), is it PR stunt, or glaring misread of the audience?

Jargonology Episode 4: The Story of Socialocity

We’ve all witnessed socialocity firsthand – the rapid-fire pace at which an offensive tweet is shared, the traffic and comments a fan base can bring – and let’s face it: We all want to be on socialocity’s good side, even if it means performing emergency hashtagectomies, quarantining our influenzers, or reforming advocados.