3 International Communications Lessons from a New Pro

Blog_ International Comms Lesson

Somehow, I was blessed to secure a global marketing communications role right out of college (okay, I worked at Panera for a few months beforehand, but, hey, it worked out). After being immersed in the literal world of communications for a few years, here are three things I learned as an international communicator.

  1. Non-traditional hours: the good and the bad

Whether it’s a call with China at 9pm (your time) or a 4am webinar with the Netherlands, some days and weeks will bring the strangest hours you’ve ever worked. There are plenty of pros to this weirdness, namely the excitement and flexibility that come with a non-traditional schedule. Working the nine to five grind can get repetitive; it’s nice to shake things up a little. Plus there’s a satisfying sense of intrigue when you can say you started the day by meeting with Europe. But be warned: while you may feel like 007 when you’re first starting out, you may also learn just how unrealistic Mr. Bond’s lifestyle is.

The obvious downers to odd hours include irregular sleep schedules, meetings at odd times, and a general lack of routine. The less obvious involve the quality and quantity of your work – tiredness and an unstable schedule can easily affect your productivity.

In addition to how you handle a non-traditional work schedule, be wary of your employers’ approach. Make sure any odd hours you log taking calls or traveling are accounted for as what they are – work time. If you’re putting in 40 hours at the office AND taking early morning calls or flying 20 hours in the same week, you might want to reevaluate your company’s culture around work-life balance. Having an international work schedule is fun and fine as long as it doesn’t quietly take over your personal time.

  1. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is here (and kind of a good idea)

Personal time is important, and so is personal information. That’s why the GDPR exists and came to be fully enforced last year. In case you aren’t familiar, the basic premise of GDPR requires a new level of transparency and consent for marketers using consumer data. For example, if a customer registers for a newsletter by submitting their email, GDPR mandates the email address can only be used to send the newsletter. Unless the consumer explicitly opts into other communications, their information can’t be used for other tactics. Many companies in the US have already adopted this trend of opting-in, but this has been an optional courtesy rather than a legal requirement.

You’re probably wondering: how could a policy that cuts communications be good for marketers? In my opinion, these regulations lead to a better understanding of our audiences. By requiring consent, the ball is placed in the audience’s court. A GDPR set-up could make consumers more transparent because an audience’s decision to opt in or out of certain communications could say more than vague email open rates or website impressions. Plus, marketers operating under these types of policies might be forced to think more outside the box to reach their targets, and innovation is never a bad thing.

Even if you don’t agree about these possible positives, I learned there’s a real potential for more consumer-focused restrictions like GDPR to come into play, worldwide. It’s an important topic for new pros to be aware of as we enter the workforce and adapt our educations to the real world.

  1. Listening + asking questions = the secret sauce for international comm’s success

In my experience, American marketers move fast and feel they must be on the “cutting edge” 24/7. The success and adaptability our country’s communicators may lead you to believe Americans are fairly middle-of-the-road on a global scale, meaning we can work with foreign teams without much difficulty. This is only partially true at best.

I know from experience. My limited international experience and the company’s English-only policy resulted in my underestimation the effect cultural barriers can have on your communication skills. For example, I learned:

  • Just because some countries seem similar, doesn’t mean they are. Our colleagues in Italy and Spain stressed extremely different pain points after we introduced a global campaign to each office. Only after meeting with them one-on-one and taking the time to listen did we understand we couldn’t put Europe into a single bucket when developing a strategy.
  • “Cutting edge” is a fluid, global adjective. When our Thai colleagues shared a “cutting edge” social media strategy involving anime cartoon characters and egg-related recipes, my boss and I ended the call worried about the effect these tactics would have on our global campaign. After another call to question them, the Thai office graciously shared some amazing social engagement stats. We were floored and immediately learned to put more trust into foreign, “cutting edge” ideas.

I highly recommend The Culture Map by Erin Meyer to anyone interested in a global role – this book contains great data and personal insights as the author paints an experienced picture of how the world communicates.

If you’d like to share any lessons not included in this post, please comment or reach out to me. I always love discussing this topic.

Craig TierneyCraig Tierney is the Content Specialist for Kenzie Academy, an Indianapolis-based coding school + tech apprenticeship startup. He’s also a freelance Content Marketer through his business With It Communications. Craig’s international experience comes from a past role as Global Marketing Communications Specialist in the agricultural industry. Website: https://craigtierney.com/

 

6 Tips For Your First PR Job

Blog_ 6 Tips for Your First PR Job

A college education in public relations is a fantastic resource, but it can’t cover everything. Here are a few tips as you begin your journey into public relations.

Pitching is everything
If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent time and effort perfecting your content creation and journalism skills. While these can make you a great asset to a team, keep in mind that the house of media relations is built upon a foundation of pitching. Identifying, writing, targeting and sending pitches are often core functions of entry-level PR jobs. Put time into developing your pitching skills— they’re often the clearest way to contribute value to your team. There are great books on the topic — I’m enjoying Ed Zitron’s “This is How You Pitch” right now.

Learn about your clients
In order to identify pitching angles, you need to understand your clients. I like to read anything I can get my hands on about the companies I work with, as this can allow me to see pitching ideas that haven’t occurred to anyone else.

Identify and track competitors
One of the most important nuances to learn about your clients is their competition. This gives you a frame of reference for the type of coverage you can seek and can alert you to journalists who might be interested in news from your clients.

Don’t be boring
Since your clients spend every day embedded deep in their verticals, they depend on you to help convey their ideas to people who may not live in their world. This means it’s crucial to find news within your clients’ larger stories. Journalists are incredibly busy and receive hundreds of emails each day. You’ll want to find a good story angle that is relevant to the writer you’re pitching and articulate your ideas clearly and succinctly.

Google News is your friend
Don’t underestimate Google News just because it’s available to everybody. Advanced monitoring and tracking tools can be great for media relations, but Google News is a great way to get a glimpse of trending topics and coverage based on simple search terms. It’s a great starting point for learning and establishing context.

Set up Google Alerts
When you’re working with clients, it’s important to keep tabs on their mentions and what’s happening in their industry. Google Alerts sends you emails when new items that match your specified keywords are added to Google’s massive index. Setting alerts for your clients’ names or keywords related to that client can help you stay informed. It’s also a good idea to set one up for your name.

Mike IncavoMike Incavo is an account manager and content creator at Houston cybersecurity firm Zintel PR. He attended Baylor University and is a member of the Houston PRSA chapter. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Subscribe, subscribe, subscribe: Newsletters worth committing to

Blog_ Newsletters Worth Committing To

Video may have killed the radio star, but the increasing number of daily, weekly and bi-weekly newsletters out there are certainly keeping e-mail alive and well. It seems like every outlet and influencer has a new newsletter available every day. On one side, as PR pros, each newsletter can feel like one more thing to keep track of when it comes to your clients and brands. On the other side, it also presents new opportunities to find possible placements, stay keen to what’s being discussed across industries, the markets and society at large.

For example, one of my former clients was in the fast-casual dining space and was relevant across corporate, financial, foodie, mom, fitness and pop culture outlets. It turned out that newsletters were a really great way to read what’s happening with competitors, the industry and general news in one foul swoop. Some were really niche, while others were as common as theSkimm. Throughout this monitoring experience, I also subscribed to several newsletters just for fun, which have come in handy during networking events and helped me in my personal life outside the office.

I don’t necessarily read *every* newsletter thoroughly *every* day, but am able to get a nice variety of content, be it professional or more social. Here are some of my go-tos:

The Business Newsletters

  • The Skimm – the OG morning brief that sounds like your friend is sharing the news
  • The Morning Brew – a newer brief that focuses a little more on in-depth and market news
  • The Broadsheet – Fortune’s women-focused news update
  • Fortune CEO Daily – Fortune’s daily news brief with great perspective from Alan Murray
  • Fortune RaceAhead – Fortune’s diversity-oriented news update (Ellen McGirt’s Friday Haikus are unmatched)
  • WSJ’s CMO Today – Good outlook on industry happenings, especially on the business/corporate side of Advertising, PR and marketing
  • Marketplace – Quick hits of daily market/business headlines (Also accompanies a podcast. Very 2019.)
  • FastCompany’s Daily News – More tech/innovation-focused daily update
  • The Hustle – Like a hipster version of FastCo’s Daily News/theSkimm, with a slightly more obscure set of topics
  • PRSA’s Issues & Trends – A great benefit of PRSA membership, the daily trends shows clips of hot campaigns and topics across the industry

The Miscellaneous-but-Interesting/Productive Newsletters

  • Quartz Obsession – Dives into one topic/product/company a day. My favorites so far have been “Burrito” and “The Post-It”
  • Finimize – Non-intimidating financial news in a quick/easy to understand read
  • SheSpends – Think “Money Diaries” meets your personal finance professor, in a cool template with a relatable approach for young pro women
  • FastCompany’s Work Smart – a weekly guide with quick tips for being more efficient at work
  • Now I Know –  A good way to learn something new every day (and great fodder for small talk)

The “Just For Fun” Newsletters

  • Links I Would Gchat You if We Were Friends – a compilation of good reads from the week that you’d want to read and share
  • The Newsette – Aesthetically pleasing Instagram accounts, daily routines of successful women and some fun fashion items/tips
  • Girls Night In – I look forward to this every Friday. (Seriously.) It shares great reads for 20-somethings, thoughts on self care and “things to put in the group text”
  • NYT’s Smarter Living – This weekly newsletter provides helpful takes on a variety of topics

It’s hard to sift through the amount of content available to us every day and week, but these have added value, whether at the office, for my professional development, or my personal benefit. Consider which outlets would be helpful and beneficial for you, your clients and your team.

Pro tip: I have a rule set in Microsoft Outlook to automatically filter newsletters into a specific folder so my inbox itself is free and I can find/skim the newsletters in one place. If you aren’t using Outlook, you can also use Unroll.me to receive all of your newsletters/subscriptions in one email instead of ~20.

What newsletters are your go-tos? Let us know!

Sarah G. Dougherty is a member of PRSA and PRSA New York. Following a stint on the agency side, she is on the external communications team at a Fortune 100 company. Sarah is a former member of the PRSSA National Committee and a graduate of The University of Alabama. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgdougherty.

Three Ways to Get Involved With Your Local PRSA Chapter

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Graduation is around the corner and the job search is on! But what happens after you secure your first gig? It is important to stay involved in professional organizations like PRSA even after graduation for continued professional development and networking. Here are three ways that you can get involved in your local PRSA chapter:

  1. ALL ABOARD!

A great way to get involved with your local chapter is to join the board. This allows you to plan the best year yet for the local chapter. Whether you want to be the historian or happy hour coordinator (like me), you are in a space where you can contribute ideas on programming and network closely with like-minded individuals.

  1. Be Hands On

If you’re not ready to be a board member yet, volunteering is a great way to start getting involved. There are fundraising events, award ceremonies and networking mixers that need planning and support. Contact your local chapter to see how you can play a part.

  1. Show Up!

Beth Lamb, Chief Marketing Officer at Ronald McDonald House Fort Worth (TX) said “it can be very easy to get involved with your local chapter, and the easiest way is to simply attend chapter programming. Get to know your fellow members and leadership board through the various events. If you are ready to serve the chapter, ask. Boards always love to know who is ready and willing to fill committee chairs. If your schedule does not allow you to do more than attend programs, offer your ideas on luncheon topics or event programming.”

PRSA is a great way to enrich your professional life through networking and career development. “Plus, your involvement, no matter the level, is important to your growth and the growth of your local chapter,” said Lamb. Find your local chapter today at PRSA

By – Jade Fails

Jade Fails is a Baylor University public relations graduate. She is currently the Marketing Administrator at The Shops at Clearfork in Fort Worth, TX. 

One Mentor is Not Enough – Build a Board of Directors

One mentor is not enough

There is no such thing as an ideal mentor.

That’s an idea it took me a long time to understand. Every person I had heard speak about mentoring spoke about their mentor as if he or she were a omniscient fairy godmother guiding them through life.

I tried finding that one person who would guide me through the ups and downs of my career, imagining teachers and professionals I admired as that go-to person, trying out formal mentoring programs to no avail.

Then I heard a take on mentoring that completely changed the way I looked at it – the idea that everyone should have their own personal board of directors filling that role of mentor and advisor.

It took a while for the ideas to stick, but when it did, it made so much sense. I don’t depend on just one person for advice in any other area of my life, why would I expect one person fill that need professionally?

Like an organization needs a board full of people from different backgrounds with varied experiences and perspectives, so too do professionals. No lone person will have had the same exact experiences you will, so having a pool of trusted advisors will help you grow and develop in a variety of situations.

For your board of directors to be effective, your group needs to be varied. Having two people whose careers and lives mirror each other won’t necessarily be the most helpful to your development. Look for people in your life and your network who fill roles like:

  • Someone who’s career you admire
  • Someone who’s experience is similar to yours
  • Someone who is in your field, industry or niche
  • Someone who is not in your field, industry or niche
  • Someone who is at your experience level
  • Someone just a couple steps ahead of you experience-wise
  • Someone with a lot of experience
  • Someone who will help connect you to others to grow your own network

You don’t need to fill out your board of directors all at once – that will happen over time. You do need to make sure there is variety in who you’re approaching for advice, though. It may seem like quite an undertaking to find people, but I’m sure if you take a good look at your own network, your board of directors will begin to take shape.

Looking amongst your own circles makes a lot of sense when you think about it. For a mentorship to be successful, there needs to be trust, common values and common interests. A mentor needs to be someone you respect and with whom you mesh, so looking to people you already have a connection with is a great place to start.

If you feel there’s little variety in your network, try casting your net just a bit wider to your PRSA chapter, your alma mater’s alumni network and your network’s network. Asking to connect with strangers becomes a bit easier when you already know you have something in common.

One-on-one coaching like a traditional mentoring relationship may work for some, but it’s not the only way. Like any other relationship, a mentorship should grow and change over time. Being mentored is an ongoing process, not an accomplishment or item to check off along your career path. It’s something that takes work, time and dedication. And much like other things in your life – your relationships, your professional development, your own well-being – you get out of it exactly what you put into it.

Looking to learn more about building a successful mentoring relationship? Join us as we partner with the College of Fellows for Supercharge your career: How finding or being a mentor can transform your professional development, a webinar to discuss the ins and outs of mentoring. Register now.

(P.S. The first draft of this post contained an ode to my own personal board of directors –  a zany group of professionals who have helped guide me through my career. While everyone should have their own board of directors, no two groups will ever be identical and I think it’s important for everyone to find what works for them. They know who they are and know how deeply I value them. However, the story of how our paths have crossed is one I’m always happy to tell to anyone who asks.)

Image uploaded from iOSIn her fourth year on PRSA’s New Professionals Section’s executive committee, Robyn serves as 2019 chair. She’s a native of southern New Jersey and currently resides in Washington, D.C., by way of Pittsburgh and South Carolina. Robyn currently works for Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), a trade association representing North America’s airports, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a master’s degree in media arts and technology, with a focus on creative media practices, both from Duquesne University. She likes to spend her spare time cooking, reading, exploring, crocheting and spending time with her tail-less cat, Izzy. Learn more about her on her website or find her on Twitter & talk to her!