Editor/Guest post note: The Edelman Immersion Program is a highly competitive program where participants spend 18 months rotating across different Edelman departments to learn the business and determine long-term career goals.
Are you a new PR pro looking to succeed in this fast-paced and ever-changing environment? Graduates of the Edelman Immersion Program have gathered their wisdom to share with PRSA New Pros. Take a look at what members from all three of the company’s Immersion classes had to share from their unique experiences.
Herschel Kissinger, Class of 2015 – Currently in Program
A piece of advice that I often need to remind myself of: nobody is a mind reader. Colleagues and mentors are willing to help you achieve your goals—if they know what those goals actually are. Don’t be afraid to start those conversations yourself.
From working across five different practices at Edelman, I’ve learned that we have an expert or specialist for nearly everything. If you’re starting a new project in an unfamiliar space, the good first question to ask is “Have any of my colleagues done this before?” Often a 15-minute conversation with a subject matter expert gets you a lot more information than an hour of Googling.
Molly Shaheen, Class of 2015 – Currently in Program
Allow yourself to think of your role as you thought of college. In a communications agency, your clients and projects are your curriculum and each is an opportunity to gain knowledge on new things.
During your career, you’re going to have those core accounts that you always work on, much like the core classes for your degree. If you navigate things right, you’ll have room to take a couple electives down the line. Keep your eyes open and raise your hand for projects that pique your interest and are outside of your day-to-day role.
Don’t forget what your professors preached – participation! Speak up in meetings, bring interesting research or insights to the table and ask your teammates thoughtful questions along the way. It will help make you stand out.
Lissa Pavluk, Class of 2013
Don’t underestimate the value of a mentor. Find someone a few levels above you who is willing to help you navigate complex situations, give sage advice based on their own experiences and help you understand how to best grow your career. Your HR department should be able to help you facilitate this if you have trouble identifying someone on your own. The best part? You may end up with not only a mentor, but a good friend!
Jenna Wollemann, Class of 2011
One of the most important things I learned my first year working was the importance of managing up (or simply put, making the lives of your managers easier). Entry level employees are expected to be one step ahead, paying close attention to project timelines and various tasks for the team. When I joined Edelman, I quickly learned that you sometimes have to over-communicate with managers and team leaders so they know what the status of your projects are and when they can expect various deliverables. Over-communicating and managing up can be tough at first, but managers have no way of knowing what’s going on unless you tell them.
Additionally, be resourceful and don’t be afraid to ask questions! These traits go a long way. It’s always better to raise your hand to your manager before diving into a task if you’re unsure about something. Also, don’t underestimate the power of your peers. Other colleagues at your level can be fantastic resources if you have questions or ideas, considering it’s likely they have encountered similar experiences or issues.
Ethics… it’s just a matter of right and wrong, correct? Yes, but there are layers to being an ethical professional. Remember when PR was deemed the profession of spin? We’ve come a long way since then and in today’s media landscape, where everything is picked apart and scrutinized, we must remain trustworthy.
When covering ethics in public relations, there is a lot of mention of keeping the line of communication between the public and company, client and/or brand transparent, as well as legal. It’s a no brainer that public opinion is important but we must remember the gatekeeper, the middle man, better known as the media. Building trust between practitioner and the media is just as important because essentially, they are telling the public your story. One of PRSA’s core codes of conduct is the free flow of accurate and truthful information. That means building honest relationships with journalists, even if they become a close friend along the way. As ethical PR practitioners, we must play fair and keep an even working relationship between all members of the media. Yes, we should tailor each message depending on the interest of the publication and beat, but that doesn’t mean sending over confidential, inside information to a journalist just because you two are friends.
Being ethical doesn’t just mean avoiding bad situations. It is proactively doing what’s right, giving clear, correct, and complete information to the media while building meaningful relationships. Here are three essential rules to build trust between the media and the public:
- Do what you say you are going to do
As a PR professional, it is our primary job to communicate and disseminate information to the public. We are a resource and must be complete, accurate and timely at all times. Don’t be that PR person to hit up a journalist months before or after a issue is being printed with “new news” on the topic. They don’t care, you’ve missed your chance, and you’ve broken a tad bit of trust by wasting their time. We must remember that day to day, we work with a variety of people, companies, and industries that may not work in the same manner. Keep a trustworthy relationship with all stakeholders by meeting deadlines, responding to emails and phone calls, and fulfilling the duty of being a resource.
2. Focus on the relationship not the transaction
Trust comes with respect. If your primary connection with a person is based on press coverage, it is less likely they will come to you when they need a quote from an industry leader. How would you feel if a journalist clearly makes it known they primarily work with you because your company offers cool freebies or perks, you’d feel a little used. Don’t continuously send press releases and pitches without any other dialogue. Set time aside to really get to know the journalist and what they like, beyond their beat. Sometimes, working relationships are forced but to build solid relationships with the media remain open, transparent, and friendly.
3. Remember the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule simply states, “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.” How would you feel if you were on deadline and someone didn’t give you critical information needed? What would you think if you gave a journalist cool information on a new campaign, and they left out the hook that made the story interesting? Ethical public relations can be much simpler if we keep the Golden Rule in the back of our minds. Treat your client, the media, and the public with respect by practicing public relations with the highest ethical principles.
Diversity Month continues at PRSA and I am here to share a little of what I have learned along the way.
When I was asked by Henry Cervera Nique, diversity liaison for the New Professionals Section and fellow member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, to share five tips on how to embrace diversity and inclusion for new PR pros – I was honored. While I have been in the PR and communications field for a bit, I still consider myself a student of the practice as I am constantly learning.
Like Henry, I am a storyteller and a diversity superhero. Throughout my life, I have championed diverse and inclusive stories and points-of-views, from high school to college, and now, in my professional career. And, what have I learned along the way? LOTS! The most important thing I have learned is to use your voice – there is power in one. Your voice is strong. Your voice is influential. Your voice matters. Never forget this.
With that said, here’s five tips to help new PR professionals embrace diversity and inclusion:
#1 – Mentoring
As new professionals we are often concerned about finding a mentor, someone to guide us, and give advice – to help with transitioning to the professional world. But remember, there is also great value in you serving as a mentor, too. This can be peer to peer, reverse mentoring, and traditional mentoring. By being a mentor and sharing your experiences, background, advice – you’re adding to the story, one which is diverse and inclusive. Plus, if you’re reverse mentoring with a senior professional, you’re automatically gaining exposure and visibility for you!
#2 – Networking
You may have heard the saying, ‘you never know where that next connection will lead you.’ Well, it’s true. The key to networking is to be yourself. Be authentic. Take a genuine interest. Take initiative when sharing your story, your elevator pitch. And, when you’re first starting out, talk to everyone. And, talk to them again. This is the time to build your network. Be open minded with who you talk with and soon, you’ll have an amazing strong and diverse network to support you. Most importantly, now that you’ve made these great connections – don’t drop the ball. Follow up and continue to nurture those relationships. Your next gig will most likely come from your network.
#3 – Personal brand
What is your personal brand? Do you know what your personal brand is? Your personal brand will help you stand out and be part of the diverse and inclusive fabric of your company or organization. When it comes to your personal brand, remember your online self. Are your snaps and FB posts reflective of your brand? Once you define what your brand is, be consistent – this will help to strengthen and reinforce your personal brand. You’re building value. Remember, no one else will do this for you – only you have that control. Be true and be you!
#4 – Taking risks
This may seem simple in theory but when it comes to practicing it, taking risks can be intimidating. Turn that fear into an opportunity. Taking risks is fun. Taking risks is challenging. Taking risks is rewarding. When it comes to embracing diversity and inclusion, some may see this as taking a risk. Imagine if we all took risks and embraced change, how much more an inclusive environment we would have? Go ahead and take risks – what have you got to lose? It could be your most amazing career experience yet!
#5 – Managing change
Similar to taking risks, managing change in today’s economy is more important than it’s ever been. Change is all around us. Change drives innovation. Change disrupts. While change can be scary, it can be very liberating. Think of all the stress you’d let go of? Bring on the change! Once you do, you’ll automatically build a more inclusive way of thinking, in turn, embracing a more diverse and inclusive environment!
These are a few tips I have learned along the way to help new PR pros on how to embrace diversity and inclusion. As the next generation of leaders in PR, your voice is critical. Be vocal, be the change agent you are, and cheers to your continued success in making our profession the most diverse and inclusive ever!
Laarni Rosca Dacanay is an award-winning communications professional with expertise in the entertainment and media industry. Currently, she is the External Communications Manager for Comcast and her other experience includes: NBCUniversal, Focus Features, and NBC. Laarni also serves on the PRSA National Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Follow her on Twitter @laarnid1.
As we’ve written in the past, mentorship comes in all shapes and sizes. The beauty of it all is that everyone has something to offer–even the new pros! We’re taking questions from PRSSA members who are looking ahead to the great transition from being a student to entering the working world. Each month, look for our answers to students’ pressing questions. If you want to contribute as a virtual mentor to PRSSA by answering some questions in the #AskNewPros series, send Alyssa an email.
Do you have a burning question for PRSA New Pros? Ask us!
“Setting up benefits, insurance, etc.”
— Ruthann Campbell, Programming co-chair
Realizing that work/life balance really is an art.
“In comparison to an internship or a semester at school being full-time has no specific end date, so you have to make a conscious effort to find your own work/life balance while giving your career all you can.”
— Jess Noonan, New Pros chair
“I thought I was prepared for everything – a new environment, new city, real job, you name it. Turns out the one thing I wasn’t prepared for was how to handle time management for a good work-life balance. I know it seems like this is such an easy thing to manage, but any YoPro will tell you that this is one thing you need to prepare for in the real-world. Time management and over-communication are extremely important traits to learn quickly. it’ll get you ahead of the rest of the interns/entry level folks if you’re an over-communicator and have a handle on your time!”
— Andrea Easley, Membership co-chair
“Making time for things I’m interested in outside of work. Everyone always talks about how important work-life balance is, but no one really explains that it’s more about making time for the things you care about. In college, it’s easy to make time for going to the gym, hanging out with friends, reading that book you’ve been wanting to finish, getting involved with an activity or organization, whatever because there are clear blocks for everything. You go to class from this time to that time, you go to your internship or to work, you study and everything fits. After college, it’s just as easy to plop on the couch after work because you’re mentally drained and fall down the Netflix rabbit hole instead of doing those things that you tell yourself you’ll get around to. It’s important to make time for things you like, even when you’re tired & busy. If you care enough about something, you’ll find the time to do it.”
— Robyn Rudish-Laning, Membership co-chair
How tired I’d feel! The adjustment to early mornings was hard. If you feel like you’re zapped every day after work, your body will adjust. Get on a good sleep schedule and stay hydrated!
— Heather Harder, Programming co-chair
The expectations of doing your job well all the time. When you’re a professional, even a new one, your supervisor and team look for you start helping them move toward their business objectives soon after you start. “Getting it right” 85 percent of the time as an intern might be great, but when you’re full-time the expectation of a good employee is more like 99 percent.
— Brian Price, Chair-Elect and Section Liaison