Celebrating Diversity Should Not End in August

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Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the PRSA Pittsburgh blog. While PRSA celebrated Diversity month in August, this blog is a great reminder how our profession can and should be inclusive year-round. 

In recent months, headlines of violent attacks, mass shootings and tragic moments have occupied the majority of our Facebook and Twitter feeds, causing many of us to question if society is progressing or regressing in its efforts to accept others. 

In a world often overwhelmed with hate and judgment, we as public relations professionals need to serve as thought leaders and celebrate diversity in the industry as well as encourage others to follow suit.

Luckily, PRSA dedicates the month of August to bring attention to diversity in public relations and facilitate inspiring conversations that hope to bridge any gap between diversity and the workplace.

Diversity Month, led by the PRSA National Diversity & Inclusion Committee, seeks to inform and educate the public relations profession about ongoing issues and concerns regarding diversity in public relations. According to PRSA, the committee’s mission is to make the Society more inclusive and welcoming by:

  • Reaching out to industry professionals of diverse racial backgrounds, ethnicities and sexual orientations,
  • Helping diversify the industry by supporting minority candidates who aspire a career in public relations by offering support in the development of industry knowledge, relevant skills and a network of professional contacts,
  • Bringing multicultural understanding and expertise to public relations professionals in order to address the diverse audiences in the nation.

With an array of interactive events, social programs and blog posts for members to explore and join the conversation, PRSA does a commendable job in raising awareness and celebrating the diverse backgrounds in the industry.

But acknowledging and discussing diversity should not end at the conclusion of August. Many companies have taken advantage of the resources PRSA has offered this month by holding diversity-focused meetings, participating in Twitter chats and collaborating with other organizations; however, as public relations professionals, we need to continue the conversation.

If your company is lacking in diverse efforts, get approval from your company’s leadership and begin by defining what diversity means to them. Diversity has a different meaning to everyone, but at its core means recognizing and accepting all individuals. Once you have established a definition, develop a strong committee to start conversations and initiatives.

If your workplace is already committed to creating a diverse environment, make sure all employees are aware of this inclusive mindset. The only way employees will truly know if their company accepts diversity is by seeing it firsthand, so by including your company’s diversity initiatives into leadership trainings and professional development workshops, your company will operate in a more cohesive manner.

Accepting diversity makes us smarter, more well-rounded as well as allows us to become more innovative and creative. This way of thinking and living should carry with us for more than one month out of the year. Keep the conversation of diversity and inclusion going long after August ends, and continue to maintain a work environment that is filled with acceptance.

jordan-mitrikJordan Mitrik is an account executive at Jampole Communications and serves as blog coordinator for PRSA Pittsburgh. He is a recent Waynesburg University graduate where he studied public relations and marketing. Connect with Jordan: Twitter | LinkedIn | Website 

Three Tips to Take the Jitters Out of Networking

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People who work in PR are known for being social butterflies who can drum up a lively conversation with just about anyone. But I’ll be the first to admit that, yes, I work in PR, and yes, I still get a little anxious right before I walk into a networking event. It can be intimidating to attend a luncheon or conference by yourself. There’s that first long minute filled with nervous energy while you look for a friendly face, and then everything melts away after you start your first conversation. And by the end, you’re glad you went. This quote from Kristin Newman’s memoir perfectly sums it up:

“I was a shy little girl and an only child, so on vacations I was usually playing alone, too afraid to go up to the happy groups of kids and introduce myself. Finally, on one vacation, my mom asked me which I’d rather have: a vacation with no friends, or one scary moment. So I gathered up all of my courage, and swam over to the kids, and there was one scary moment… and then I had friends for the first time on vacation. After that, one scary moment became something I was always willing to have in exchange for the possible payoff. I became a girl who knew how to take a deep breath, suck it up, and walk into any room by herself.”

One scary moment is almost always worth the trade-off. Here are three tips to get you through that one scary moment and become an expert networker.

1. Geek out together

The good thing about attending PRSA networking events is that you automatically have at least one thing in common with everyone else there: you work in PR (or aspire to work in PR). So bring up industry news that your regular social circle doesn’t get nearly as excited about, like Snapchat’s new glasses or the latest brand in crisis. In addition to industry news, it’s helpful to be up on the latest global and national happenings, always, but especially before a networking event. My go-to resource is theSkimm, which presents the news in a quick, easily digestible format. It’s ripe with conversation starters.

2. Go beyond small talk

Based on the idea that we’re not defined by our job titles (although I would argue a career in PR results in a serious work/life blend), I recently stumbled upon this great list of questions to ask people instead of “What do you do?” from Fast Company. Some of my favorite questions are:

  • Do you have any side hustles or passion projects?
  • Are you working on any exciting projects right now?
  • What’s your favorite emoji?
  • What was the highlight of your week/weekend?
  • What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?

These are guaranteed to spark conversations that won’t fizzle out after the first minute.

3. Volunteer

If you’re new to an organization or city, the fastest way to make connections is to raise your hand and volunteer. For example, in PRSA you can join a number of committees, from new professionals to membership to communications. Choose a volunteer opportunity based on your strengths, whether that’s planning events, running the check-in table, or helping with promotion on social media. When you get involved, it allows you to build deeper relationships with members. Plus, you’ll know a few friendly faces when you go to the next event.

What are your tips for becoming an expert networker?

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Caitlin Rebecca Ryan is a PR writer for Eric Mower + Associates in Charlotte, NC, with a passion for live music, snail mail, and novels. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.

5 Apps New Pros Need to Sucessfully Navigate Adulting

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I’ve been somewhat successfully “adulting” for about ten months now and, I’ll admit, navigating the professional life is in no way a simple transition. No matter your approach, there’s no streamlined way to navigate this journey. It’s only through trial and error I am able to find the right recipe for success.  Since I’m a new PR pro and the textbook definition of a millennial, I’ve survived with the help of a few must-have apps that have helped me appear a bit more professional and significantly less stressed:

Grammarly

I’ll start with something relevant to every PR professional out there: good grammar and quality writing. Grammarly is the app that has saved me when I haven’t been able to save myself. Grammarly proofreads your written work, so anything from a press release to a late night email, and even a Facebook post gets scanned for spelling and grammatical errors. Even better, Grammarly works as a Google Application so it integrates into almost every website platform you’re utilizing. If you’re signing up for the first time, use this link to get one week of premium free and invite your friends!

theSkimm

Let’s be real, small talk that doesn’t go anywhere is meaningless. I believe in making conversations count and, more importantly, having educated things to say. Since we often don’t have the time to read all the news before your morning coffee, theSkimm hits you up with daily emails that provide the need-to-know details on big things happening in the world. Whether it’s domestic or international issues, political happenings or just some major pop culture, theSkimm ensures that you’re in-the-know with the facts to impress. So instead of mentioning the weather, enlighten your boss with an update on that environmental policy legislation that just passed in the House? Sign up for it here.

Unroll.Me

Remember all those subscriptions you subscribed to during college for the “free stuff”? Mmhmm… Now you’re out of that lifestyle, and you still get swamped with countless coupons that get in the way of those real emails from your job. Do yourself a favor and sign-up for Unroll.Me. This app goes through your email and identifies all your subscriptions which you can then either unsubscribe in one click (yeah, you heard me!) or roll them up all into one email. So long are the days of sifting through 30 emails from Macy’s or daily political fundraising emails. Save your GBs for something more important. Enroll in Unroll.Me here!

Shine Text  

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a daily pick-me-up? Every morning someone just reminding you that you’re awesome and capable of handling whatever comes your way? Shine Text is literally a high-five in your pocket.  Daily messages of affirmation that go directly to your phone each morning. Why? Because self-care is important, and so is doing your best. A little encouragement never hurt anyone. Get your daily dose of happiness here.

Mint

Money management, ya’ll. Now that you’ve transitioned from that pesky part-time paycheck, it’s time to see how far your dollar can really go. I use Mint not only to track my income but also to identify where I’m spending my money. For example, Mint lets me know what percentage of my income I should be spending on groceries, entertainment etc. versus how much I actually am. Also, it helps me save toward financial goals. I know how much to put away and how my current spending habits affect how fast I can save that cash. Smart spending makes for smart saving. You won’t be a New Pro forever, so learn smart saving practices early so you’re not playing catch-up in the long game.

BONUS: Gmail Notifier

So for those of you rocking #TeamGoogle for work email (sorry Outlook users) Gmail Notifier is a quick little add-on providing you with instant notifications whenever you receive a message from your Gmail account. Regardless of what screen you’re on or, if your Gmail window isn’t open, you’ll always know when a new message enters your inbox. It also works on multiple Gmail accounts so it can be synced to your work or personal accounts. Install it here.

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Herasanna Richards is a member of the Central Michigan PRSA Chapter located in Lansing, MI. Currently, Herasanna is the Communications Specialist at Grassroots Midwest, a bipartisan political advocacy firm. She holds both her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communication and Political Science from Michigan State University. In her free time, she enjoys getting out and involved in her #LoveLansing community and binge watching the latests Netflix Originals. Catch up with her on
Twitter and LinkedIn!

PRSSA: How to Kick-Start a Relationship with Your PRSA Sponsor Chapter

Editor’s Note: This blog originally appeared on the PRSSA Progressions blog. Whether you’re a college student or a New Pro, it’s important to build strong chapter relationships between PRSA and PRSSA.

The dynamic nature of the public relations profession, coupled with the current market saturation of recent and soon-to-be graduates, requires that students go above and beyond to create meaningful connections and make themselves stand out. One of the most valuable benefits of PRSSA membership is the opportunity to befriend and learn from local PRSA professionals.

The relationship between PRSSA and PRSA Chapters is an important one. PRSA sponsor Chapters provide mentorship, programming and fundraising assistance, training and industry insights, and students preparing for their careers need talented and engaged professionals to emulate. However, the day-to-day rigors of life, school and work can make managing these relationships especially challenging. As a PRSSA Chapter member or leader, here are some things you can do to kick-start your Chapter’s relationship with PRSA:

Help them help you. PRSA members are working professionals and contribute to PRSSA during their limited free time. They’re happy and eager to help, but it’s up to you to reach out and establish the foundation of a relationship. Don’t be afraid of the follow-up and always come prepared to talk about what help your Chapter could benefit from. Many times, PRSA professionals won’t know how to help you create a better member experience until you tell them.

Establish a constant. Because of the high turnover rate in PRSSA leadership, it’s difficult for Chapters to maintain meaningful relationships with PRSA annually. If you really want to leave a mark on your Chapter, create or utilize assets that can stand the test of time. Here are a few examples:

  • Create a tradition that requires your PRSSA Chapter and PRSA sponsor Chapter to interact at least once each year. You can create an event that brings professionals and students together, and allows the professionals to share and mentor. You can draw attention to your Chapter and create networking opportunities by inviting professionals to an entertaining event on-campus: Think (fun)draising, food and professional development.
  • Build a constant into your bylaws. If you take your Chapter’s relationship with its PRSA sponsor Chapter seriously, you will make it part of one of your officers’ duties or create a committee. Someone who is not the Chapter president needs to be responsible for making sure members have access to PRSA members — it’s that essential.
  • Use your Faculty or Professional Adviser to facilitate introductions. These people are tasked with counseling Chapter leadership and guiding members. Your Faculty and Professional Advisers are required to be PRSA members, so they should have ready access to your sponsor Chapter.

Be resourceful. PRSSA National has a wealth of resources available to you, as both a member and a leader. If you’re a Chapter leader and struggling to contact PRSA, you can reach out to: the vice president of professional development, the National Faculty Adviser or any other person on the PRSSA National Committee. Furthermore, consider reading the PRSSA/PRSA Relationship Manual or contacting someone in your area through theChampions for PRSSA directory — an exclusive PRSSA member benefit.

PRSSA members are the future leaders of the communications industry, and will one day be the CCOs and CMOs of the world’s most influential companies. It’s imperative professionals do a better job engaging, and students do a better job asking for that engagement.

gary-bridgensGary Bridgens is a project assistant in APCO Worldwide’s New York office and the former PRSSA National vice president of Chapter development. You can contact him via email at garybridgens@gmail.com and add him on LinkedIn.