My PR story: Robyn Rudish-Laning

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“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” ― Julia Child

There really isn’t a better way for me to describe my career, especially since Julia Child’s passion was food. I, too, love food and that’s where my passion for PR started.

First, a little about me. I currently live in Columbia, SC, with my boyfriend and our tail-less cat Izzy and where I work for the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan, business-led nonprofit that works to advance South Carolina’s long-term economic competitiveness. I grew up on a farm in Southern New Jersey and when it came time for me to head off to college, I packed my bags and moved to Pittsburgh. There I attended Duquesne University, right in the heart of the city, which is where I belong – right in the middle of a city. I earned my bachelor’s in public relations and a master’s in media arts and technology, focusing on creative media practices. My PR experience has been a little all over the place: nonprofits in Pittsburgh, New York and Columbia, retail, boutique agency and pharmaceutical research.

So how did I get here? I figured out early that I wanted to work in PR and communications. My first job back in high school was waitressing at a local restaurant. It was small and, being the master of multitasking I am, I began helping to organize some of our events and putting together marketing pieces and campaigns, in addition to my normal job and learning how to cook in the kitchen on slow nights. So in a way, food led me to PR.

As a student I interned with two nonprofits – the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania & West Virginia in Pittsburgh and the 9/11 Tribute Center in New York. In both, I created and maintained media lists, drafted press kits, press releases, media advisories, social media content, web content, print marketing materials – basically if it was written or designed, it probably started on my desk.

That’s a common theme through each job I’ve had so far. If there’s writing to be drafted, a piece to be designed or, more recently, strategy to be crafted, it’s started with me. I could outline all the different types of projects that I’ve worked on, but the point is that through all the places I’ve worked, no matter how thrilling or mundane the project or task might have been, there was a similarity tying them all together – each was its own form of storytelling. Telling stories is the heart of what PR is and it’s what I love about the field. Being able to find and share stories, whether that’s through blogs, video, social media, events, photos or whatever type of content lies ahead, is important to me. It’s what I’m tremendously interested in, what I’m passionate about. It’s what I’ll keep looking for in every job through the end of my career.

Whether you’re trying to tell your own story, still trying to find a path for yourself or anywhere in between, that’s the best advice you can take. Find what you’re passionate about, what drives you, inspires you, makes you feel like you’re doing something, and stay interested, learning everything you can along the way.

robyn-rudish-laningRobyn serves as PRSA’s New Professionals Section’s programming co-chair and is a communications and PR pro currently living and working in Columbia, S.C. In addition to volunteering with PRSA’s New Professionals Section, she also serves as the 2017 VP of Communications for the South Carolina PRSA Chapter and brought together the chapter’s first New Professionals group in 2016. She’s a native of southern New Jersey and currently resides in Columbia, S.C., by way of Pittsburgh, and currently works as the communications coordinator a statewide non-profit organization. In her spare time, Robyn likes to cook, read, spend time with her tail-less cat Izzy and write for her own blog – and almost always with a cup of tea in hand. Find her on Twitter & talk to her!

Member Spotlight: Meet Rebecca Hansen

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RHprofile

Name:
Rebecca Hansen

Position/Company:
Marketing and Community Relations Lead at Sky Zone Greensboro

Location:
Greensboro, NC

Education:
B.S. Communication, East Carolina University & M.S. Public Relations, Syracuse University

Social Media Handle:
@RebeccaHansenPR


 

What made you interested in PR and communications?

I was involved in a lot of communication-centric activities in high school like morning announcements, forensics (public speaking) and drama. When it came time to apply to universities, I wanted something that would allow me to merge my writing, speaking and design skills all in one.

How did you find internships/jobs?

  • College of Human Ecology at East Carolina University Internship: Saw an online posting with ECU.
  • Semple Solutions Internship (Small PR Firm): Owner came to speak to my PRSSA group.
  • Syracuse Stage Internship: Sought out an entertainment-focused PR internship by utilizing the Newhouse Career Center (Syracuse University).
  • Dassault Falcon Jet Internship: Networked within the company and created a custom internship.
  • Sky Zone Greensboro Job: Looked on Indeed for communication jobs within North Carolina.

What has been the most valuable thing you have learned through classes or experience?

I was skeptical to take a social media class because I thought as a millennial, I knew pretty much everything about Facebook and Twitter, but I took a class at Newhouse (Syracuse University) and learned to deep-dive into analytics and read demographics to benefit a brand.

What has been the best piece of advice you have received?

Read your material out loud so it’s easier to catch typos or awkward-sounding phrases.

Do you have any advice of your own for future PR pros?

Take advantage of any learning opportunity, whether or not you’ll think it’ll help you at the moment. It may benefit you in the future!

What do you think is the best benefit of PRSA and the New Pros section?

The network is incredible! Many seasoned professionals are willing to mentor recent graduates.

Why did you decide to get your Master’s in PR?

There were a few factors that played into my decision to get my Master’s degree. Due to my academic record, I received a scholarship to one of the most prestigious communication schools in the country. Second, I felt like having another degree under my belt would make me stand out from the competition.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before becoming a new professional?

I should have started applying for jobs sooner than I did. Although I didn’t mind moving back with my parents right after graduation, there was a slight competition among my classmates to be the first to find a full-time job.

How I foster my public relations skills

tell-us-your-pr-story

 

Don’t settle for mediocrity. You’re young. Be nimble. Be an expert at what you do.

I’ve learned a lot about public relations from my nearly two years of working as a new professional. In particular, I’ve learned about media relations, research, leadership development and time management. I’ve developed a groove for these skills. In fact, I consider them to be my strong suites in public relations. Here’s what I do to further develop each:

Media relations.

Keep tabs on what’s going on nationally and in your area. I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but theSkimm sends a daily newsletter with national news. For local news, save websites in your bookmarks for easy daily access.

Research.

Become a research powerhouse by using Google operators to find valuable information on the internet. Search for a specific word in a domain name, find related bloggers and locate news in minutes after a press release goes out. Find a list of Google operators here.

Leadership development.

My supervisor encouraged me to become a PRSA Charlotte board director and New Professionals leader for our local chapter. I was hesitant at first, but I agreed. I now lead ten New Pros who plan programs and networking events. Additionally, at the time of this writing, I’m gaining leadership skills through John Maxell’s book, Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters. I highly recommend it. (Thanks for the recommendation, dad!)

Time management.

My first alarm goes off at 5 a.m. every weekday morning. I eat breakfast, drink lemon tea, read, journal, meditate and stretch before 7 a.m. This sets me up for success each day before I arrive at work. Daily stresses vie for my attention throughout the day, and these few peaceful hours help me manage all of them.

What facets of PR are you good at? I’d love to chat. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Read more tips on my blog.

Seth Kingdon

 

Seth Kingdon works as an account coordinator at Chernoff Newman’s Charlotte office. He assists with social media, media relations and research for the agency. He’s also a director at-large with PRSA Charlotte, and leads the New Pros committee for the chapter. He could eat Chick-fil-A sandwiches every day.

5 ways to use social media to build your personal brand & help your job search

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Spring is just around the corner and now is a perfect time to spring clean your social media. Twitter, Facebook and the like are for sure a treasure trove of cat videos, gifs and other humorous bits to procrastinate your day away, but social media – Twitter in particular – can be a powerhouse career tool if done correctly.  Here are five things you can do today to harness the magic of social media to build your personal brand and boost your job search.

1. Give your LinkedIn a make-over.

If you’re on the job prowl, the first place you should start with your social media is on LinkedIn. Show your page some love by refreshing as much as necessary. Think your photo, positions, volunteer work, summary, skills – anything and everything. Don’t forget to give yourself a new header image if you haven’t already and a personalize URL for easy sharing.

Spend some time really digging into what you write beneath each position. LinkedIn is a great place to expand a bit more on what’s in your print resume, but don’t get bogged down in the job description and minutia of your day-to-day. Focus on your accomplishments and impact right up front and highlight the key functions of your position if you really feel inclined or they’re a little out-of-the-ordinary.

2. Find & join a Twitter chat (or two).

Twitter chats are the hidden networking gems of social media, especially for PR people. Depending on your interests, joining an industry-focused Twitter chat can be a great way to make new connections, meet and learn from industry thought leaders and establish yourself as someone in-the-know.

New Pros hosts them, PRSA hosts them, some of your favorite PR veterans host them – there’s really no shortage of chats. My favorites are the New Pros #NPPRSA chats (third Wednesday of most months at 9 p.m. EST) and PR Daily’s weekly #RaganChat (Tuesdays at 3 p.m. EST).

3. Make connections.

Social media is all about connecting the world, right? Find and follow some PR pros you admire and reach out to them. Build a relationship by commenting on their posts, resharing them and connecting with them to chat. Most PR pros are more than willing to chat and share their expertise, so building a good repertoire is easy to do.

4. Join a Facebook or LinkedIn group.

Just like there are a number of great Twitter chats, there are some pretty awesome Facebook and LinkedIn groups out there for PR people too. Unlike Twitter chats though, these groups aren’t limited to a specific date and time or even a set topic that everyone will talk about. These groups encourage members to post their own topics or questions as they come up and for everyone to engage at their own pace. Group moderators will often post topics or questions as well to keep the conversation flowing. Two of my favorites are Shonali Burke’s Social PR Posse and PRSA’s New Professionals Group. Both are closed groups, so you’ll have to request to join, but both are very worthwhile.

5. Share your stuff. Share relevant stuff. Share all the things.

Consistency is key and content is king, right? So put them together to build your personal brand on social media by sharing industry pieces you like, news articles you think deserve some attention and your own content. Using a scheduling platform like Hootsuite or Buffer to make sure you have content being shared consistently, not in a giant rush all at once and then not again for weeks. Don’t forget to add your own commentary or insight. Repurposing your own content – whether it’s something on your own personal blog or something you guest wrote and published elsewhere – and scheduling it out for later on is also a great tactic for keeping yourself fresh in your followers’ minds.

Want to talk some more about social? Join PRSA’s New Professionals Section on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. EST for February’s Twitter chat. We’ll be talking about social media and PR trends in 2017. Follow along and join the conversation using #NPPRSA.

robyn-rudish-laningRobyn serves as PRSA’s New Professionals Section’s programming co-chair and is a communications and PR pro currently living and working in Columbia, S.C. In addition to volunteering with PRSA’s New Professionals Section, she also serves as the 2017 VP of Communications for the South Carolina PRSA Chapter and brought together the chapter’s first New Professionals group in 2016. She’s a native of southern New Jersey and currently resides in Columbia, S.C., by way of Pittsburgh, and currently works as the communications coordinator a statewide non-profit organization. In her spare time, Robyn likes to cook, read, spend time with her tail-less cat Izzy and write for her own blog – and almost always with a cup of tea in hand. Find her on Twitter & talk to her!

From Post-Grad to Professional: How to Jump into the PR World in 2017

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Just do it. And no, this isn’t a blog post sponsored by Nike. Just do it. Dive head-first into the pool of opportunity that is the public relations world. Its waters are deep; you will want a life jacket. And as you have already concluded, there is no lifeguard on duty. Have no fear! You will not sink… as long as you abide by these two policies this year:

Maintain enthusiasm. Seek opportunity.

Structure. It is defined as the process between components of something complex. As students, we developed a habit to systematize our lives around class schedules and the daily routines which coincided with college life. Before you knew it, it was over. What now? Uncertainty is intimidating. The structure you unknowingly relied on is no longer defined by your next class assignment, mid-term paper or upcoming PRSSA meeting. Where to next?

Consider this reality check:

You are the navigator. This is huge. What a wonderful place to be – at the starting line of the real world. There is potential at every corner. Apart from the support of your family and friends, the defining factor of what will push (sometimes pull) you along will be your enthusiasm. This is essential not only for how you conduct your professional life, but also your inner persona.

“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Success does not happen overnight, but becoming self-aware about your attitude can. If you are feeling discouraged, know that some of the strongest leaders were not knock-out superstars on day one. It was through the lessons learned by making countless mistakes that, over time, sculpted the greatest trailblazers in our industry. How did they make it? They were passionate about their work, they thought creatively and most importantly, they were enthusiastic about the “lessons” they learned from failing. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Next, Opportunity

Whether you’re interning at a branding agency, working part-time within a company’s marketing department, taking on freelance work, or still trying to figure out your next steps – know that being fresh out of the graduation cap and gown leaves a door open for the unimaginable. You have the time to invest in yourself outside of what you have done to earn your degree.

This year, make an effort to:

  • Become involved with your local PRSA New Professional section and surround yourself with a community of individuals who also want to invest in themselves. It is an empowering experience.
  • Seek mentorship through the PRSA Mentor Match. There are few words I can use to explain how important it is to find a mentor that can give you valuable guidance during your first steps into the industry. In one word: necessary. Anticipate an awe-inspiring moment when you see exactly what you want to do in your career. Your mentors will open your eyes to this.
  • Conquer the available PRSA training courses online through the PRSA website. These are essential skills and strategies that will prove themselves handy in times of demand.
  • Find inspiration by reading the best sellers in public relations and marketing and by watching webinars. Gain an insight on how industry leaders think. These are unparalleled resources for devising successful campaign strategies and sparking remarkable ideas.
  • If you want to do work in social media, work on earning native social media platform certifications through Facebook Blueprint and Twitter Flight School. Become Google certified in Google Analytics and Google AdWords if you are interested in online advertising. The more you know, the more you grow. Having these certifications under your belt can give you a level up on your resume.

Taking advantage of your resources is the greatest graduation gift you can give yourself this year. Remember, enthusiasm sparks curiosity which introduces opportunity. How did you jump head-first into the public relations world? I would love to hear your story!

anne-deady


Anne Deady is a social media specialist at MMI Agency in Houston, TX and a member of the PRSA Houston Chapter. Her professional interests include influencer marketing and social media strategy. In her spare time, Anne’s favorite activities include attempting every BuzzFeed Tasty recipe and teaching her German Shepherd tricks. She graduated from the University of Houston with a corporate communication major and business minor. You can follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.