Just Keep Swimming: 4 Things to Remember During a New Chapter of Your Career

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You’ve seen the memes complaining that adult-ing isn’t all cracked up to be. Truth be told, it isn’t easy but it is nothing you can’t handle. Believe it or not, your time in school has prepared you for the task at hand. One thing I admire about the public relations profession is that it is full of critical thinkers and crisis managers who think creatively.

As you navigate the real world, think of yourself as your first public relations client. What is your mission statement, what are your goals for the next six months to a year, what tactics will you use to reach them, and how will you set yourself apart from other brands? Now that you don’t have defining markers like grade levels to help you advance through life, you have to learn to identify both small daily achievements as well as significant milestones that move you closer to success. Below are some tips to remember as you start a new chapter.

Set 6 month or yearly goals…

Whether it’s a creative project you want to complete, a personal achievement like reading one novel a month, or a career goal such as getting a promotion. Setting goals are important because unlike when you were in school, the fall “back-to-school” season, and even a new calendar year, don’t present much change in the “real world.”

Remain poised, passionate, and professional…

Although millennials and Generation Z are driving change in the workforce, we must remember that professionalism never changes. Put your phone away at work, take notes during meetings, and ask questions. It’s the little things that will set you apart from your peers when it’s time for a promotion.

Be curious…

Yes, your role is to manage communications for your company’s brand but there is much more to your organization or agency. Talk to everyone! Initiate small talk with someone in the finance department or reach out to someone on LinkedIn in a different industry; you never know what knowledge you will gain and how it can contribute to your personal or professional self.

Just keep swimming…

Your career is a marathon, not a sprint and things don’t always pan out as planned. Plan A can turn it to Plan B which turns into Plan C all the matter of a few months but don’t let that discourage you. Before you know it, you’ll realize you needed Plan B and Plan C to be ready for Plan A. Remember that success is relative and is dependent on what makes you fulfilled. Success doesn’t happen overnight and if it were easy, everyone would have it.

As you start a new chapter of your career, remember to stay creative, give 110% to your work, and most importantly have fun!

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Jasmine L. Kent, a member of PRSA-LA, is a fan of all things food and beverage, pop culture, and media. Combining all three passions, Jasmine builds community through engaging online marketing and dynamic events as a communications professional in Los Angeles, CA. Keep up with her on Twitter at @JaVerne_xo or visit LoveJasPR.com.

New Pros Week is Coming: Here’s How to Get Involved

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Celebrate PRSA New Professionals Week Aug. 1-7, 2016

Each year, PRSA New Professionals Week (Aug. 1-7, 2016) encourages new public relations professionals to share resources and advice with fellow new professionals across the country as we celebrate current members and encourage new members to join.

During this week, we encourage local Chapters to host events focused on providing networking and career development for professionals new to the industry.

Here are a few ways PRSA Chapters, new professionals and employers can get involved with New Professionals Week.

PRSA Chapters

Plan a New Pros Week event

While the PRSA New Professionals Section provides national programming, each PRSA Chapter can host an in-person event of its own. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask a new professional in your Chapter to help plan an event
  • Arrange a mentor meet and greet in which young professionals are paired with seasoned mentors
  • Sponsor a networking mixer at a popular happy hour location
  • Host a “What I wish I knew as a Young Pro” panel featuring seasoned public relations professionals; invite students and recent graduates
  • Host a viewing of a PRSA New Professionals webinar over coffee, lunch or drinks

Once you set a date, be sure to register your event here.

Recruit new professionals to join your Chapter

New Professionals Week is the perfect opportunity to plan a membership campaign targeted at young professionals. Use this week to target your communications to new professionals who are not members.

New professionals

Participate in national programming

During PRSA New Professionals Week, we will provide national programming such as a Twitter chat, webinar and blog series. Stay tuned for more details, and continue to monitor our website for upcoming dates.

Organize an event

If your Chapter isn’t already planning a New Professionals Week event, volunteer to organize one. Once you set a date, be sure to register your event here.

Employers

Work with PRSA to host an event

If your company has a lot of new professionals, consider working with a PRSA member to organize an event to recognize your company’s newest hires. Here are a few ideas:

  • Promote your local PRSA Chapter’s New Professionals Week event to employees
  • Invite a PRSA member to host a training for new professionals at your agency or corporation
  • Write letters welcoming your new professionals to the company and thanking them for their work
  • Sponsor your new professionals’ PRSA membership and use the code AM16 to get a free New Pros Section membership

PRSA New Professionals Week 2016 will be here before we know it. How are you planning to celebrate?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAl1AAAAJGM5NWQyMTZkLWFlZTAtNDU1OS05NDZiLTgxYTU2ZDNjZGJmNgHeather Harder is the PRSA New Professionals co-programming chair and an account executive at Capstrat in Raleigh, North Carolina. Contact her with questions about getting involved with New Pros Week.

Leadership In 2016 – Part 3

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Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series by leadership and communication expert David Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA.  In the first two posts, David discussed the importance of leadership today and the keys to effective leadership (with some great input from readers of this blog!)

Leadership Is Easier When You Are Authentic

Growing up, I found myself on the “Supposed To” track.  The feelings I allowed myself to have as a child, teenager and adult were solely happy feelings; the rest of my feelings went into this black hole never to be discovered or talked about.

At age 33, I had achieved all of what I was supposed to and more, and found myself in a therapist’s office.  In talking about my challenges, I had put on the veneer of my polished, professional self.  It’s then that I grabbed the pillow next to me and clenched it to my chest.  Hard.  In that moment, there was a huge disconnect between the words I was saying and my feelings.

My therapist and I now laugh about the pillow that launched my journey of authenticity – one I wish I had started years earlier.

As we think about leadership today, starting on (or continuing on) a path toward authenticity is a way all leaders can make a difference – for themselves and for others.  Authenticity matters today.  Authentic leaders get better business results, have healthier work lives, and excel in real, meaningful relationships. They sleep better at night.

The Road Less Traveled: A Journey of Authenticity

What’s essential for your Journey of Authenticity is to come at it from a place of self-knowledge instead of coming from a place of responding to stress, worry, or anxiety.  This means being as purposeful as you can on your chosen route.

What I know from my research and consulting, as well as from interviews with senior leaders and practitioners – authenticity isn’t a skill.  It’s a component of one’s self that a person can actually accentuate or work on to become better and lead a more fulfilling life – whether it’s on the job, in your relationships, or at home.

No one really learns the skill of authenticity.  Instead, authenticity comes through by improving our communication skills as leaders.   When you come at communication from an authentic place, communication becomes much easier and much more effective.

How To Be Authentic

For me, authenticity has 3 components:

1. Know Yourself

Early in my career, I was fortunate to work with some incredibly inspiring leaders who brought out the best in me. I gravitated toward them because of how they made me feel. I trusted them because they were genuine, authentic, and because they demonstrated much more confidence in me than I had in myself. They stood for my potential, which was incredibly motivating for me as a 20-something professional, and only spurred me on to be even better.

When it was my chance to lead, I was determined to lead in a similarly authentic way. I tried to take the best strategies from each of them. After all, imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Still, I made my share of mistakes as a new leader, and then I realized an important lesson:

Leading authentically isn’t about being “like” someone else. Instead, it’s about knowing yourself and being who you are. Sure, you can “try on” strategies that work for others. Yet in the end, leading authentically is about finding what works best for you. And when you are genuine, you have “full power,” which is what the Greek root of authentic—authentico—truly means.

2. Be Yourself

The second component is about acting in ways that are consistent with who you are. This is your own self-awareness as you relate to others.  This means behaving in ways that are in sync with your values instead of simply trying to please others or get something from others.

Early in my career, I acted like a chameleon, changing my thoughts and feelings based on others.  Today, I strive to be my authentic self regularly.  What it looks like and how I act really doesn’t change very much.  What does change is how I feel on the inside.  When I acted as a chameleon, I did it out of a desire for people to like me.  When I relate to others from an authentic place today, I do it with confidence.  I don’t worry that they won’t like me.  They might not, and that’s their choice – that’s okay.  I’m simply no longer consumed with the need for people to like me.

3. Have Quiet Courage As You Interact With Others

Authenticity is about this constant process of being truthful – first with yourself and then with others – to say the things that need to be said.  It can be very difficult to do it in a kind and respectful way.  Quiet courage is about saying the truth so others are able to hear it.  This isn’t “Rambo” courage but an internal kind of courage that comes from deep inside. It’s about knowing that being truthful is the only way to move people and the business forward. Failing to address the problems or areas of improvement won’t help the business succeed.

Must-Haves for Your Journey to be Authentic

If you’re up for the Journey – and I hope you are – here’s what’s important to have with you at all times:

  • First, your curiosity – You can’t be authentic without the ability to reflect and be self-aware. Your curiosity needs to be as strong – or stronger – than any of the thoughts or feelings you might be having – whether it’s concern or worry, or other much more complex feelings like fear or shame.  If you can be curious, you can look at anything.  You can say, “Hmmm… Wow, that’s interesting. Is there something worth exploring here?  Is there something I can learn about myself or others?” To get ahead in business, you need to continually learn and grow.

    Plus, curiosity will make you a better listener.  The better you listen to others, the better they will listen to you, and the better your relationships will be, including your most important relationship – the one you have with yourself.

  • Second, embrace who you are – It’s our imperfections that create connections with others. People say all the time to “let it go” – the phrase that made the movie, “Frozen,” so popular.  You can never let go what you haven’t embraced.

    You have to say, “This is mine.  I can hold it.  I can own it.  Now, I can let it go.”  And then once you really accept it, saying, “Yes, this is me.  It’s not my favorite part.  Now I can begin the process of letting it go and setting it aside.  It doesn’t really control me.”

  • Last, focus on what you can control – think about all you have control over, and focus on that. Not how your boss, colleagues, or clients behave.  Not the economy.  Not the fact that “stuff happens.”  Don’t focus on where you’re powerless to change things. Instead, focus on what you can do something about.

When In Doubt, Take A Step Back

If you find yourself stressed, or feel stuck on your Journey, just listen to yourself – to your gut.  Take a step back and try to see the forest through the trees.

When you’re approaching a mountain and are miles out, it seems really small.  When you get to the bottom of the mountain and look up, you realize it’s huge.  When life gets too big, back up a little bit.  Sometimes when you’re too close to something, it can feel overwhelming.  You feel incapacitated and can’t take the first step.  Or, the alternative strategy is to get to the base of the mountain and don’t look up; just put your nose down and start. A CEO I used to work with at McDonald’s often would say, “Jump in; the water’s fine!”

The process of looking at yourself can be very difficult in the beginning.  But the value at the other end can be so worth the process.  Very few things feel as rewarding as being who you are in the workplace.

How are you doing at leading authentically, and what’s a next step to advance your Journey?

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David Head Shot High ResDavid Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is both a teacher and student of effective leadership and communication and helps leaders drive productivity and get the results they want through authentic and courageous leadership communication. He’s a sought-after speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 leaders. A three-time author, David is CEO of The Grossman Group, an award-winning Chicago-based strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy; clients include: Hill-Rom, Eastman Chemical Company, Kimberly-Clark, McDonald’s and Motel 6, to name a few. His newest book, “No Cape Needed: The Simplest, Smartest, Fastest Steps to Improve How You Communicate by Leaps and Bounds,” was published in the fall of 2015 and recently won the Pinnacle Book Award for the “Best in Business” category. In addition, David teaches Internal Engagement at Columbia University, in New York City. To connect with David you can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

How My Graduate Degree is Advancing My PR Career

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Editor’s Note: As part of our month-long topic on continuing education we’ve touched on the APR, Tools for New Pros and other professional development. Today, we’re interviewing members of PRSA’s New Professionals section that have completed some form of higher education or are in midst of earning their graduate degree, with an end goal of advancing their public relations career.

Meet our panelists and their earned or in-progress graduate degree:

Lindsay Moeller
Master of Education in Higher Education (Student Affairs), Iowa State University

Simon Oh
Master of Science in Transportation Management (administered by the Mineta Transportation Institute), San Jose State University

Brian Price
Master’s in Public Administration, Northern Michigan University

Robyn Rudish-Laning
Master of Science in Media Arts & Technology (focus in Creative Media Practices), Duquesne University

Alyssa Stafford
M.A. Journalism and Mass Communication (concentration in Health Media and Communication), University of Georgia

What made you decide to go to graduate school?

LM: First, I love school. Second, I knew I would need to get a graduate degree in order to pursue a career in Student Affairs.

SO: To prepare myself for a greater role in transportation, potentially managing a team, department or an entire organization within the business.

BP: I decided to stay at NMU after graduating with a bachelor’s because I had a graduate assistantship opportunity. I worked as a G.A. in NMU’s communications office both years. I couldn’t turn down the discounted tuition, stipend and relevant work experience (and faculty lot parking pass!) so I’d advise anyone looking at grad school full time to research G.A. opportunities. I thought about an MBA but lacked prerequisites for multiple classes and ultimately decided to build on my communications background by applying it to public administration and policy.

RRL: It was a perfect storm of things. When I finished my undergraduate degree in 2011, jobs were hard to find and I had had some internships, but nothing that turned into a real full-time lead. I didn’t feel like I had a completely firm grasp on what I wanted to do, besides work in PR, (I understand now that no one actually has it all figured out.), but I didn’t want to move back home to figure it out either. I knew that I would have better opportunities to gain experience in Pittsburgh and I had already begun to develop connections out there from my undergraduate work. It just so happened that my alma mater, Duquesne, also offered 25 percent off of graduate degree tuition for particular programs, mine included, to alumni. So in August 2011, I packed everything up and moved back up to Pittsburgh to pick right back up where I left off in May.

AS: My bachelor’s degree is in creative writing, and I ended up in a job where I was doing sales and marketing. When I discovered public relations, I knew I wanted to make the switch, but I had no idea where to start. I decided to get my master’s in PR, thinking a formal education was what I needed to make the transition. It turned out that while my classes got me up to speed academically, the most important thing for me was being exposed to professional development opportunities as a graduate student.

Robyn Rudish-Laning on graduation day.

Robyn Rudish-Laning on graduation day.


How has your degree helped or simply played a role in your PR career?

LM: It helped me to get my first job out of graduate school working in college admissions, which put me on the path to working in the marketing department and eventually PR.

SO: Although the degree is not required, it will almost certainly help me elevate to a position like a PIO or community relations manager for transportation projects down the line.

BP: In the classroom I learned general concepts like how to apply research, how to truly research a topic and honed my ability to read and digest complex issues; it was a unique opportunity to really build up those muscles. Outside of class, I applied that knowledge to executing digital and traditional media for NMU as a G.A. and just spent a lot more time crafting my skills. I was really in that student mindset where you try to read and learn everything while in grad school, which is difficult to maintain in a full-time job.

RRL: I felt like my graduate program was much more hands-on than my undergraduate program, even though they were within the same department at the same school. It also wasn’t entirely PR-focused. Instead, I learned a lot about related skills, like marketing, social media, journalism, advertising, web design, etc., on top of furthering my PR knowledge. The program wasn’t rigid, so I was able to pick and choose classes from a number of disciplines to round out my skill set. I think these things have been most helpful in my career because I was able to really dive into what I was interested in and what I thought would benefit me most. No two people in my program graduated with the same exact experience or degree, no matter what our diplomas said.

AS: I actually switched my concentration from Public Relations to Health Media and Communication, because I wanted to develop expertise in healthcare communications, social marketing. My concentration also emphasized health journalism, which trained me in writing about health topics for a broad public audience. I joined the Association for Healthcare Journalists and attended their annual conferences and reported at the Society for Neuroscience conference. I learned how to shoot and produce videos, worked on my writing craft and came away with a great portfolio of published work.

I also dove into professional development opportunities through UGA’s PRSSA Chapter. I served as the chair of the events committee my first year, and became president my second year. I really put myself out there in ways I hadn’t during undergrad. A big part of this was finding my passion. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in college, so I was much more energized and ambitious during graduate school. I also felt a sense that this was my last chance to make the most out of being a student. I credit PRSSA with helping me land my job at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. I was hired on as a contractor in 2014, an opportunity I had because I met the PR manager at a PRSA/PRSSA networking event.

What is some advice you would give to PR pros wondering if they should go back to school?

LM: Graduate school was such a great practice for me in really learning how to buckle down and apply myself. Even if I didn’t get a degree in public relations, I think that it really helped me to learn how to research, plan and effectively communicate with multiple audiences and the importance of being able to do all of those things. I think it maps really well to PR.

SO: Think about where you stand now and where you want to go in your career. A graduate degree could expand opportunities beyond where you currently stand. Do your research before embarking on any program.

BP: Hard for me to say as I went straight through at NMU for six years. But I would think it’s important to have a vision for how this plays into your larger career goals, because this isn’t a challenge you’re going to want just for fun.

RRL: Only go back if you’re willing to put in all the work necessary and if you’re doing it to better yourself. Don’t go back to delay getting out into the real world or assume it’s going to be easy. The two years I spent working on my master’s were the two hardest years of my life so far. The best advice I can give is to be sure you’re pursuing it because you want to continue to learn.

AS: Even if you get funding through a graduate assistantship, grad school is expensive and time consuming. Think deeply about your goals and spend time asking questions of faculty and staff at your prospective grad school. Make sure that you really need and want a graduate degree before you commit. I usually encourage people to work for a year or more between undergrad and grad school, because it gives you time to establish yourself in the workplace. If you’re like me, you’ll learn a lot about yourself during that time and it will lend a lot of perspective to the decision-making process. Also, you’ll have work experience on your resume that will distinguish you from other graduate students who are job hunting at the same time you are.

Brian Price with his diploma in snowy Northern Michigan.

Brian Price with his diploma in snowy Northern Michigan.

What’s a fun fact or your favorite memory from grad school?

LM: This won’t seem like a fun memory to most, but at the end of my first semester of graduate school I had to write four papers which were due during finals week for a total of over 60 pages. It wasn’t fun at the time, but it was really fun for me once it was over.

SO: Working on a group project about transit-oriented development and, by my suggestion, injecting corgis into nearly every aspect of our presentation. Too bad we couldn’t get corgi ears headbands as part of the bit…or actual corgis.

BP: Teaching. During my final semester I was an adjunct instructor in my undergraduate academic department, teaching Introduction to Public Address to 23 freshmen and sophomores. It’s fun and I learned so much having the chance to teach a class while in grad school.

RRL: As a grad student, I worked for the Duquesne’s student newspaper, The Duke. In addition to helping me fine-tune my writing skills, all of the hours and late nights spent working on it gave me some of the best memories. My favorite was the “awards” ceremony we did after we finished the last issue of the year each year. We’d spend a week coming up with awards or superlatives for each of the editors and our advisor. I use the word “award” loosely because most of them were poking fun at the recipient or an inside joke we were all in on. Some of them were incredibly heartfelt, though, even if they were tinged with a bit of sass. We’d try to get the issue done as early as we could that night and take turns bestowing these awards on our colleagues, before heading to the nearest pizzeria/bar to celebrate. My favorite award? “Most likely to keep the newsroom waters calm as a proverbial tsunami approaches.”

AS: Traveling to the 2015 Association of Healthcare Journalists conference in San Francisco, meeting incredible reporters from around the country who are telling important health stories.

Considering going back to school or have an experience to share? Tweet us at #NPPRSA 

New Pros Spotlight: PRSA Charlotte

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Connecting with other new pros is an important benefit of PRSA membership for many members. PRSA chapters across the country have organized groups within their chapter to help them connect on a local level, like the New Professionals section does nationally. We will feature a q&a each month to showcase chapters’ new professional groups. This month we spoke with Seth Kingdon, PRSA Charlotte’s New Professionals Committee Chair.

PRSA Charlotte’s New Professionals group works to plan events and workshops to help Charlotte’s young professionals gain a deeper understanding of the PR industry. The committee is made up of nine members, led by Seth.

“We, as a committee, want to cultivate great PR professionals in Charlotte. To make this happen we strive to offer helpful resources and one-of-a-kind opportunities for our members so they can blossom into successful public relations practitioners,” Seth said.

According to PRSA Charlotte New Pro member Justin Taylor, “Being part of PRSA has not only expanded my network, but has given me a great amount of support as a young professional. This support ranges from when I was a recent college graduate on the job hunt to building important skills to be successful in both my professional and personal life.”

Here are some of the questions we had for Seth about PRSA Charlotte’s New Pros group.

The Edge: Could you tell us about the programming and resources you put together for your members?

Seth Kingdon: Our committee initial began by establishing a shared vision for providing professional development opportunities for New Pros and students. We planned a networking event because we saw the value of meeting other new professionals and students in the Charlotte-metro area. We scheduled professional development workshops throughout the year because we all need tools to do our job better. Our committee’s future endeavors include establishing a mentorship program with local PRSSA chapters and pro-bono campaigns and projects.

Overall, we offer networking events and workshops. However, on a deeper level, we recruit new professionals to come to monthly PRSA Charlotte luncheons where they can meet experience PR practitioners from organizations like Duke Energy, Bank of America, Food Lion, Luquire George Andrews and Taylor. We believe mentorship drives a successful PR career, so we encourage our members to find a mentor and to be a mentor.

TE: How many members/participants do you have?

SK: It’s hard to know how many New Professionals are scattered throughout Charlotte, but approximately 20 professionals and students generally attend our meetings.

TE: How do you engage new or potential members?

SK: We each personally reach out to students and meet people at other networking events and invite them to PRSA gatherings.

TE: How does your group fit into the bigger picture of the chapter?

SK: Our New Professional section brings a unique perspective to the overall PRSA Charlotte chapter by offering millennial insight, inventive concepts and an energetic atmosphere for success.

TE: What is the best way for New Pros to get involved in the PR community?

SK: First and foremost, attend events so you can meet professionals. Second, it is important to continually build your skill set and be self-taught on important PR topics so you can offer knowledge and insight. Third, establish relationships with two or three professionals—your age and older—who are your “go to” for questions. As you do these things and progress through your professional career, you will consistently learn and be a marketable public relations professional.

TE: And finally, what advice do you have for New Pros for using PRSA to their best advantage?

SK: Meet and develop relationships with as many PR professionals as you can. Build a strong network you trust to contact with questions or advice. Especially connect with those who have more experience than you—even if it feels intimidating.

Is your chapter doing great things for New Pros? Do you know a New Pro doing great work in and outside of PRSA? Let us know!

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