New Pros Week 2017

newprosweek

Think of your career like a garden. You’ll want to plant it in a fertile area with plenty of room to grow and access to the things it needs to thrive: sunshine and water; opportunities and professional development. You’ll need to spend some time on it, deciding what to cultivate, weeding out the unnecessary and giving it the care and attention it needs. You’ll need to fill your toolshed. Finally, consulting the experts is never a bad idea.

It sounded a bit outlandish before, right? Comparing your career to a backyard garden? But when you think about it, the fruitful, successful ones are the product of a great deal of love, sweat, time and attention. Without effort, they wither away.

This year we’ve decided to give New Pros Week a theme of its own – “Careers in Bloom: Creating a plan for career success.”

Join us August 6 through 12, 2017 as we focus on all the tools and tips you need to continue to grow your career well past your New Pro years and celebrate the things that set us apart. We’ll talk about what tools you need in your PR toolbox, discuss the importance of mentorship to build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships, and connect members from across the country as we explore the ins and outs of being a New Pro.

New Pros Week 2017’s schedule includes:

  • “Planting the seed for career-long growth” TwiChat chat – Monday, August 7 at 8 p.m.
  • “Fill Your Garden: Mentorship & making lasting connections” webinar – Wednesday, August 9 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • “Build Your Bouquet: Follow fellow New Pros” Follow Friday on Twitter – Friday, August 11
  • Social conversation around our favorite things about being a New Pro and advice from experienced pros on what they wish they knew as New Pros
  • Blog posts on topics such as:
    • “Grow where you’re planted: How to build a successful career in a new place”
    • “What’s in your toolshed: Essential tools and techniques for New Pros”
    • …and more!

Links to these programs and events will be shared across our social media channels very soon so keep an eye out and mark your calendars!

In addition to national events, New Pros Week is a great time for Chapters and Districts to celebrate their own New Pros by hosting happy hours or networking events, showcase members in blog and social media content and just generally engaging with their youngest members to highlight the great things we add to the PR field and to help us further grow and advance the profession.

Don’t forget to follow along on our social media channels and join in the conversation on Twitter using #NPPRSA and #NewProsWeek.

If you have any questions or want to get involved, please reach out to us!

Robyn & Veronica
@robyn_rl | @veronica_min
robynmrl@gmail.com | vmingrone.prssa@gmail.com

PRSA’s New Professionals Section 2017 programming chairs

New Pros Week 2017

Math for PR pros – What metrics you should keep your eye on?

math-pr-pros

Raise your hand if you took up a career in PR because you believed math was irrelevant to public relations?

Oh good – we’re all in the same boat.

Initially, I thought a career in public relations would mean I’d spend my time writing, planning events, connecting with audiences and stakeholders and sharing information far and wide. How silly of me to think that numbers wouldn’t play a part in any of that work!

Of course numbers and a bit of math are important to PR. How would you know what efforts were working, where to focus your time and attention when there’s a limited amount of it and where your budget is best spent without consulting the numbers?

If flying by the seat of your pants is your preferred method of answering those questions, think about how you’d answer them if your boss – or the CEO of your organization – asked them. Would anecdotes and generic statements be enough of an answer? Or would data be a better representation of the work that you do?

That’s really what it comes down to – what’s the best way to show that the work you’re doing each day has value for your organization? Numbers and data. Since the world of analytics is a vast and, frankly, frightening one, here are a few key metrics to get you started off on the right foot.

Email Engagement Metrics

Just about every communications program has an email component to it. Whether it’s to sell, to inform, to connect or a mixture of all three, email is one of the best ways to quickly and inexpensively connect with your audience. For that reason, looking at your email’s engagement metrics is important.

So what do you want to look at? There are a few things that are pretty easy to look at right off the bat. If you’re looking at your entire list (which should be broken down into segments, too!), you should be looking at the average cumulative open rate and who are your most engaged subscribers. Are people sharing your emails? Are other people signing up because of that? Who’s interested in what you’re saying? Are your email pitches getting being opened, engaged with and responded to? These are things you’ll want to know.

Once you have a good handle on these things, take a look at your individual email campaigns. What subject lines, formats and topics are performing well? Are your messages reaching the right people in your list? Is there a particular time of day that gets better engagement? Evaluate all of these things and, if you haven’t already, give segmentation and A/B testing a spin. Break down your subscriber list into segments based on demographics, engagement, location, interests – whatever information you feel is important to group your audience by – and begin testing different campaign elements. Test different subject lines, content, delivery times and more to find the ideal combinations for your messages. Be careful to only change one variable at a time and to keep track of what you test and how it performs each time.

Mentions

I’d bet the first thing that came to most minds were Twitter mentions. Social media mentions are a great thing to keep an eye on, but they’re not the only mentions you should be aware of. Which media outlets are talking about you? Who in the public is talking about you? Is it positive or negative? Who’s talking about your competition and your industry? Setting a handful of searches and alerts is the best way to keep your finger of the pulse of what’s being discussed.

Free options include setting up Google Alerts for your organization, key public-facing individuals in the organization, your competitors, your products, your industry, etc., running regular Twitter and Facebook searches using advanced options to fine-tune your searches. Paid services like Cision and Meltwater can aggregate and automate these searches for you into a central place, while identifying trends and streamlining your media outreach as well.

Website acquisition

Your website is the hub that connects your organization or brand with the rest of the world, right? It would make sense that you’d want to know how people find you and end up at your website. Using Google Analytics, you can set up detailed reports or use Google’s templates to analyze user acquisition and activity. These reports can show you where people come to your site from, what pages they’re interested in, how long they visit and more.

You can further drill this information down using Google’s URL Campaign Builder to build unique, descriptive links with campaign and origin information to help you keep track of where people are coming from. You  can track these in Google Analytics, along with goals and flow to see if users are completing the actions you’d like them to and what information they’re interested in.

Audience growth

Knowing what your audience is doing is important, but it’s also important to make sure that your base is growing in a healthy way. Tracking your subscriber growth, your social media audience growth and your website user growth is a good way to make sure that your brand and the content you’re sharing is still relevant and engaging. Check out how your subscribers subscribe to your email list. Take a look at your new social media followers and see what, if anything, they have in common. Same with your site viewers. If you can identify similar trends and commonalities, you may start to see other ways to engage your audience and new content marketing and PR avenues you can pursue to keep your organization growing.

Want to know more about PR metrics and measurement, including ways to use them to grow your own career? Join us on Wednesday, June 21 at 8 p.m. for a Twitter chat with Shonali Burke, independent PR pro and host of the monthly #measurePR chat, to learn more!

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!

#MemberMonday: Olivia Salsbery

member-monday

Oliva-new-pro-blog-photo

Name: Olivia Salsbery
Company & Title: World Affairs Council – Washington, DC (Global Communications Program Staff/Intern)
Location: DuPont Circle
University/Degree: University of Oklahoma, Dual-Degree: BA public relations; BA international studies; minor political science
Social Media handle: Instagram junkie — @destination_blank is my travel Instagram :) 

What made you decide to go into nonprofit work in DC?

Honestly, I wanted to jump right into graduate school for a Master’s in Environmental Sustainability, but my Dean at OU recommended me for this internship in the meantime as he thought it would marry my two degrees perfectly. I jumped at the chance to check out DC, but it was never somewhere I sought, nor was the political arena. So far, I’m absolutely loving it. Being here opens so many doors and it’s a great place to boost my resume, knowledge and network. I’m even putting off graduate school for a while. 

What’s your average day on the job like?

I think this is the non-profit aspect coming out, but it can be so many different things depending on what’s going on. We have a very small staff (including intern help), so everyone has to be able to dive into different projects every now and then. Day-to-day, I take care of our social media accounts and I also work on some bigger projects such as the annual report and website re-development. I also took initiative to start a young professionals campaign over the summer. I’m excited to work on a project I initiated (young professionals of PRSA-NCC watch out!).

What’s most surprised you about the “adult” PR world after you left college?

I think just how much our line of work is appreciated and valued. Honestly, sometimes in college friends outside my major treated it like an “easy major”. Although it may not have been organic chemistry, it was challenging in its own ways. PR is important to every industry, so PR professionals work at almost every level of every organization. With that comes respect of our ability to adapt, but also the chance to put an organization outside of its comfort zone. 

What’s it like doing PR in DC right now? How are PR pros navigating the politics? 

In the first few weeks I was in DC I attended a breakfast session with PRSA-NCC  before I became a member that discussed non-profit communications in the new Administration. I arrived in DC the Monday before Inauguration, so I really only have a DC perspective with the Trump Administration. It’s been a  huge learning lesson and working PR in DC right now is throwing everyone from senior to entry level positions for a loop. It‘s a great reminder of how much our profession changes and why it’s important to vibe off your audience and always keep your organization’s mission at the core of what you do, whether that means remaining neutral or entering the political conversation. 

How have PRSSA and PRSA membership benefited you?

There’s a difference between “what if’s” and real life situations. The former was used a lot in the classroom at OU, but I get the later with PRSSA and PRSA. I remember once during an OU PRSSA chapter meeting, a senior executive PR professional at a fortune 500 company shared a story of her own daughter who graduated from a top PR school and had a difficult time finding a job, which shows even with a killer resume and great network, things still do not always pan out. That’s what I loved about being a PRSSA (and now PRSA-NCC member), I don’t get the what if’s that you get in a classroom or from a textbook: “build your resume”, “expand your network”, etc. – I get real life stories and experiences from other members that are valuable and realistic.

What’s your advice for young pros who want to get out to D.C.?

Spend twice as much time listening as you do talking. Often the best opportunities come from someone else getting a good vibe from you and wanting to continue building a relationship. Networking is key in D.C., but it goes well beyond a business card. Oh, and feel free to reach out to me.

Four Lessons from 4 Years Running an Agency

tell-us-your-pr-story

In my opinion, the best way to sum up anyone’s story is to pretend like you’re writing their obituary.

So here’s mine: coffee-crazed workaholic started an agency in Pittsburgh. Experienced moderate success.

It seems like just yesterday I was skipping classes my senior year of college to meet clients in the city. Back then, it was just me and a handful of contractors making it happen. It’s hard to believe that four years, countless clients and some awards later that we’re now a bunch of full-time employees. I’m mostly surprised I haven’t keeled over from drinking too much coffee yet.

Since Top Hat’s celebrating its fourth year, four seems like a magic number. So here are four lessons that I’ve learned along the journey:

Sometimes You Have to Put Yourself in the Microwave

In the past four years, there were two times I doubled-up on full-time opportunities. In 2014, I joined an inbound marketing agency as their director of inbound partnerships while still running Top Hat. The second time was in 2015 when I served a software as a service (SaaS) startup as their head of communications while (again) still running Top Hat.

There are crockpot and microwave experiences—both can be useful. These were the latter. Life was a bit chaotic and out of a balance for a while. To this day, however, these are two of the most significant experiences I’ve ever had that significantly catapulted things forward.

A microwave cooks things faster. So, if you’re looking to develop a certain skill or resume-lifter, a microwave experience can help you get ahead faster. Look for entrepreneurial opportunities or work on your side hustle to boost your overall momentum. Just be sure not to keep that microwave on for too long!

Build a Recipe Book of Interdisciplinary Techniques

Communications is becoming more integrated than ever. It’s critical to study, evaluate, experiment and understand not just public relations, but marketing and advertising too. To understand those disciplines a bit more intimately, you might have put yourself in the microwave. Ultimately, it will enhance your career, sense of direction and perspective in ways that will surprise you everyday.

You Must Understand How Business Works

The single biggest mistake communicators make is not understanding how business works. We as communicators need to prove our relevance at the business table. At the end of the day, what we do must support the goals of whoever we’re working with—client, employer or partner.

tell-your-pr-story-ben-butler

You Must Be Business-Objective Focused

One of the earliest lessons I learned is that the impressions, click-through-rates and other metrics don’t mean anything if there’s no real return-on-investment. Some of the most blunderous client relationships early on were because I didn’t help the client establish tangible business objectives. The moment that changed, the entire business changed as well.

As communicators, the hard truth is that we’re often the first budget item cut when the going gets rough. We need to be in a business-objective mindset. It might not be revenue in all cases, but it must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Time-Based (SMART).

Want to hear more from Ben Butler? PRSA New Pros Opportunity:
TELESEMINAR 4/19

Join PRSA’s New Professionals Section as we talk with three PR pros from different industries about just a few of the different career paths public relations and communications have to offer. You’ll hear from Ben Butler, APR, founder of Top Hat IMC, on what it was like to start his own PR firm as a new pro, Sean Cartell associate media relations director for the University of Texas, on game day communications and managing media for multiple teams, and Brittney Westbrook, assistant director for marketing communications at The University of Southern Mississippi, on developing strategic campaigns for a university of 15,000 students and more than 120,000 alumni. Learn more about the opportunities out there in independent agency, sports and non-profit PR and how to get started on whichever path you choose.

register

ben-butler-founder
Ben Butler, APR, is the founder and client services director for
Top Hat—an award-winning marketing communications firm in Pittsburgh. In his past life he served as a public relations guy for a motorsports complex, director of inbound partnerships for an inbound marketing agency and head of communications for a software startup. He’s been named a Top Under 40 Communicator and is Accredited in Public Relations (APR)—a distinction held by less than 20-percent of all practitioners.

My PR Story: Evan Martinez

tell-us-your-pr-story

The public relations industry has a vast array of career options and the opportunities for professional and personal growth are endless.

Like many PR professionals, the above is one of the primary reasons I chose to enter the public relations field. My love for communications is rooted in the passion I have for understanding people – what makes them tick, why they act a particular way – and while the curiosity is mostly natural, I have only become more intrigued over time.

I am currently the Communications Associate at American Iron and Steel Institute, a trade association representing the North American steel industry on Capitol Hill. Working on the Hill allows me to combine communications and politics, which are the two subject areas I am most interested in building. Regardless of the type of PR you work in, I have found three things to be vital for a successful PR career.

1. It’s okay to go off the beaten path

If someone had told me when I graduated from college I would be working for a trade association that represents the steel industry, I would have told them they were crazy. But everyone’s PR story is different, just like mine is different from many of the people I graduated with. Whether you are passionate about working for a firm or a nonprofit or a hospital, communications is everywhere. The sooner you realize it’s a variety of experiences that create your PR story, the sooner you will end up in the job you have always wanted.

2. Develop a professional routine

I wake up, go to the gym, make a hearty breakfast, pour the coffee in my travel mug and head out the door. On my morning commute I read Politico Playbook and The Skimm, which provides the perfect synopsis for happenings around the country. It is our job to know about world events and to educate others about those events.  Every organization has go-to publications every employee should read and be able to hold a conversation about. Developing healthy professional habits (having a good breakfast, reading, etc.) will ultimately make you a better and more productive employee.

3. Keep building on your PR story

It might be a cliché, but it is true–our stories never really end. No matter the amount of internships you completed, what degree you graduated with or what title you have at work, your PR story does not end. My current role is merely a stepping stone in a long PR path that will continue to grow with time and experience.  Make sure you are putting yourself out there and meeting new people who can introduce you to new professional opportunities.

pr-story_evan-martinez

Integrating any portion of this advice into your life will hopefully help you like it has me. Find work that you are passionate about and master it.  Ensure that you are constantly learning and challenging yourself because that is how truly great PR stories are formed.

HeadshotEvan Martinez is a Communications Associate at the American Iron and Steel Institute, a trade association representing the North American steel industry on Capitol Hill. He graduated from American University in May, where he served as Vice President of AU’s PRSSA chapter. Evan has also been featured on PRNews Online. He will be attending Georgetown University in the fall for his Master’s where he will study Public Relations & Corporate Communications.