The Power of Perception in Your Career

The power of perception in your careerHow many clichés have we heard about perception? “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” “It’s the thought that counts.” Or a slightly deeper and personal favorite, “The difference between a flower and a weed, is a judgment.”

Our perception of the world around us influences our reality in more ways than we can imagine. And I think recognizing this, that the way we look at a situation can either improve or worsen our experience, gives us a great deal of power that few tap into.

Take rejection for example.

Rejection is often seen as a bad thing. And people aren’t wrong; it hurts to not get the raise you were hoping for, the dinner date you’d been looking forward to, the media placement you put SO MUCH time and energy into. Having to turn off the happy-ending movie of expectations playing on repeat in your head really, really sucks. No one likes being told “no.”

But there is a power in understanding the significance of the situation. If we can shift our vision of failure from a dead-end street, to instead an alley with many alternatives, we gain the ability to mold our future into something not only desirable, but preferable. Rejection doesn’t have to immobilize you into a mere spectator.

No, things may not be going according to plan… So what are you going to do about it?

There’s an offbeat idea that floats around the outskirts of mainstream acceptance, that with every decision we make, those pivotal fork-in-the-road moments, there is a parallel timeline that continues without us. The “what if” timeline. It’s a repeated theme we find in movies all of the time. You fail to catch your train before an important meeting at work… You may lose the account and in turn your job, forcing you dig deep to find your true passion and make a new life for yourself. OR… You might find a way to keep your job, move closer into the city and end up meeting the love of your life next door. If either timeline is an equally viable option at the start, the possibilities in how drastically different your timeline could unfold is enticing… What if there were no wrong decisions? (If you haven’t already, watch Sliding Doors staring Gwyneth Paltrow circa 1998.)

Now, while I don’t recommend dwelling on the literal idea dual timelines, I have to wonder; why can’t we see rejection in this philosophical light?

Getting told no, when you step back and think about it objectively, is simultaneously getting told yes (or at least maybe) to a handful of doors that would’ve otherwise been closed had you never been rejected in the first place. It is the pivotal step in scientific theory! Hypothesis, test, fail, repeat until a solution is found. Rejection isn’t a period at the end of a sentence; it’s a semicolon that can guide you on to something better.

It’s all about the way you look at it.

Couldn’t rope an investor to help get your start up off the ground? That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Think about this possible alternative: You’ll likely find an interim job and build your skillset in the meantime, continue to improve your start-up and perhaps meet your new business partner during the downtime. Then, without investors, you’d be free to run things your way, an option that would have never been available had the initial plan followed through.  

This idea isn’t limited to the business world, either. Think about how, if you dropped your initial snap-perceptions of people, places or situations, how things would look different (perhaps even more friendly) to you.  

Self-awareness of our perceptions can be an incredible superpower when used properly. When you recognize this, you won’t immediately act on those preconceived ideas of how you see the word “no.” You’ll pause. You’ll soak in both sides, and feel before reacting.    

Understanding that there are always (at least) two sides to every story means accepting that our perception of reality is likely dramatically different from someone else who experienced the exact same thing. It’s a scary thought, but it’s also a little bit liberating when you think of how you can change your reality, simply by changing the way you interpret the things presented to you.

In life, you can’t move significantly forward without taking a few risks. And we all know that walking on those rocky, risky, unpaved roads typically comes paired with a few unexpected missteps along the way. If you can take these speed bumps in stride, looking for the next alternative route without getting stuck at a dead-end in the road, you’ll be able to handle whatever rejections may come your way. Because being unstoppable isn’t about receiving all green lights, but hitting red lights, stop and “Do Not Enter” signs and persevering onward anyway.

rsz_megan_nicole_oneal_headshotMegan O’Neal graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, emphasizing in mass communications. She is currently the PR Coordinator at Marketing Design Group and volunteers with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, freelancing for the public relations department. Connect with her on Twitter @megannenicole.

6 Tips for Leading a PRSA New Pros Local Chapter

Whether you’re in a current leadership position or your looking to take on a lead role with your local New Pros chapter, it never hurts to seek advice. PRSA writes that “New Professionals membership is a mark of distinction that demonstrates your confidence and desire to succeed.” They’re right. That’s why you’re here, to succeed and to help others succeed.

PRSA New Pros Event Cincinnati

Rebecca Potzner, PRSA Cincinnati New Pros Chair, at one of their many successful New Pros events!

Becoming a New Professional member and now leading my local chapter, I’ve come to learn a lot about leadership and myself. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned from leading my local New Pros chapter that I hope will help you and your chapter.

1. Don’t be a lone wolf. While you’re leading the chapter, this doesn’t mean that you should be doing absolutely all of the work on your own. Forming a leadership committee will not only strengthen the bond of your chapter but it allows members to take initiative and to help shorten your to-do list. Don’t be afraid to delegate or to ask for assistance. Remember, two heads are better than one!

2. Communication is key. As cliche as it sounds, keeping a strong open communication channel between your members, leadership team and PRSA board is crucial. Scheduling board meetings, emailing updates or even meeting for a quick coffee can help keep everyone accountable and in the know. This tip falls hand in hand with the next two.

3. Collaborate. As New Pros, we are essentially the middle man between PRSA and PRSSA giving us the opportunity to open new doors and spark new relationships. Take advantage of this. Connect with local PRSSA chapters by inviting them to events or offering to work with them on future events. The same goes for your PRSA chapter. They want to know what the younger generation is up to, so keep them in the loop! Even better, reach out and work together on a future program. After all, PRSA offers all the perks!

4. Be Socially Connected. Considering our demographic, social media has become the best outlet to reach members and potential new members. Networks like Facebook and Twitter are great to share content and to help to spread the word on your upcoming events. While your organization’s profiles are important, a great tool to take advantage of is Facebook groups and Google Drive. These both allow you to reach your board and start an ongoing conversation without bombarding their email inbox or clogging their hard drive.

5. Map it out.  It’s no secret that people like consistency. It makes things easy. Taking the time to map out chapter events for the year helps to keep a consistent calendar and makes for easy planning. After establishing your chapter’s goals for the year, brainstorm program ideas and line them up throughout the year. This helps establish a plan you can stick with and promote.

6. Make it fun. It’s not all work, promise! Take time to relax and enjoy some time with your members to catch up. As for events, think outside of the box. Events don’t always have to consist of sitting in a stuffy room listening to someone speak or just a simple happy hour.  Go behind the scenes somewhere, attend a sports game. or take a tour around the city. Your opportunities are endless and each option offers a chance to make a new connection.

Rebecca Potzner is the PRSA Cincinnati New Professionals chair, and runs her own blog, Twist on PR. Follow her on Twitter @BeckuhBeck for great PR insights & tips! 


The Plank Center’s Value to Young PR Pros {New Pros Week Series}

Betsy-Plank-QuoteThe namesake of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, Betsy Plank, commonly referred to as the First Lady of Public Relations, dedicated more than 60 years to the industry. As a distinguished leader in PR, Betsy was an advocate for its education and young professionals. Betsy believed, “Public relations people must be eternal students.” She recognized the importance of leadership and mentorship, and envisioned creating an avenue in which PR students, educators and professionals had resources to continue leading and mentoring throughout their careers.

In 2005, The Plank Center was founded at her alma mater, The University of Alabama. Established to help develop and recognize outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors, The Plank Center continues to implement Betsy’s ideals to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society.

As new public relations professionals, are you recognizing the importance of leadership and mentorship? Betsy believed in the power of leadership and mentorship and you should, too.

Learn to Lead

You may be thinking that you cannot be a leader, because you’re beginning your career in public relations. Guess again. Leaders are needed in our industry at all levels, not just at the top. The Center debuted its first leadership report card, which revealed a “Grand-Canyon-sized gap between leaders’ evaluations of their own performance and those of their employees.” As new PR pros, learning to be an effective leader early in your career can help close this gap.

It’s been said, “Those who become involved with the Center will truly become better leaders.” From interviews with PR legends, material from the best experts in the industry to the latest research, the Center has value for everyone. Here you will find inspiration from the legends such as Betsy Plank, Harold Burson, Ofield Dukes and many more. Their paths to success remind us to keep learning, dreaming and, of course, leading.

Learn to Mentor

Some may say the Center introduced them to the true definition of leadership in public relations. Others, such as Brian Price, assistant account executive for Edelman, mention how the Center has expanded their network and motivated them to continuously find mentorship, and also seek out ways to be a mentor.

Betsy had many quotes, but one in particular truly sums up what mentorship means to our profession, “Mentoring is one of the strongest ways to spell success in public relations.”

And remember, you don’t have to always have an answer to your mentee’s questions. Sometimes, it’s best to be a sounding board and ask thought-provoking questions. At the end of the day, take Betsy’s advice, “You’re never too young—or too old—to mentor others.”

Pay It Forward

Wendi Strong, executive vice president of corporate communications with USAA, said, “No matter how experienced or knowledgeable one is, if you can’t leverage your skills to motivate, inspire and lead others to be superior practitioners then you haven’t fulfilled your duty to our profession.”

Leadership and mentorship go hand-in-hand. Don’t think of it as a challenge, but rather an opportunity to grow professionally and personally. How many times do we talk to someone about our experiences and offer advice to those who are seeking answers? Experience equals knowledge. Whether you see it or you don’t, you’re already incorporating leadership and mentorship into your life by sharing your experiences and advice with others.

We were taught to be strategic, ethical communicators, and it’s our time to start leading and mentoring the future of our profession. It’s important to note that you are making an impact. While it’s not going to happen overnight, sharing your knowledge with others will lead to our industry’s advancement.

The Center, with the help of its board of advisors, has carved out a direction that makes it of “distinctive value to anyone wishing to learn more—or be more—in public relations.” The value of leading, mentoring and paying it forward is there, not only for new professionals, but students, educators and practitioners. Why not start your leadership and mentorship journey today?

J White

Jessika White graduated from The University of Alabama with a master’s degree in sports management as well as a bachelor’s degree in telecommunication and film. She is the communications specialist for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Find her on Twitter or LinkedIn and follow The Plank Center on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.


How to Make the Most of PRSA New Pros {New Pros Week Series}

When I graduated from Michigan State University in 2010, I moved to Chicago to begin my career at Edelman. I was active in PRSSA and had interned with Edelman before starting full time, but once I was there, I had a feeling of ‘what do I do now?’

Nick Lucido, PRSA New Professionals Section Chair

Nick Lucido, PRSA New Professionals Section Chair

That’s when I decided to get active with the PRSA New Professionals Section.

Being involved with the New Pros group, I learned and networked my way through challenging career situations, learned how to advance my career and broadened my knowledge of the profession. While PRSSA is designed to help you start your career, and PRSA is broader in nature, the New Professionals Section is the buffer group designed for those with less than five years of public relations experience. We have more than 1,200 new professionals across the country covering different industry verticals and settings – this means there’s definitely someone out there in the same boat as you.

Questions like – Should I try to negotiate my salary? When is it time for me to move to a new position? How can I advance to the next level? – were all things I learned from programs and other members.  I can promise you that whatever question or doubt you have about your career, there’s someone else out there with advice and experience to share. While we offer a long list of benefits for our members, the most powerful thing we offer is the connection to others.

This virtual support group has ‘traveled’ with me to Brazil, where I’m now stationed at Edelman’s operations in São Paulo. As I proudly lose my New Professional title, I’m proud to have been part of the organization and look forward to continuing my PRSA membership in other areas of the organization.

My piece of retirement advice is to make the most of your membership. If you’ve not yet taken advance of the membership benefits, there’s no better time to test it out than our annual New Professionals Week. Here’s a few ways to get involved:

  • Be sure to tune in to our free webinar on Tuesday, August 25th at 11 a.m. ET – How to Activate an Influencer Network with Converged Media.
  • There are 13 local events happening across the country – check out the full list here to see where the closest event is near you.
  • Follow along to conversations online about the week and network with fellow members across the country: #npprsa
  • Make sure you’re making the most of your membership – follow our content on the blog, participate and ask questions to other members in our Linkedin group and check out our database for past programs.

If you have any questions about your membership, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any other executive committee member. Happy New Pros Week!

Nick Lucido is the PRSA New Professionals Section Chair.

August 2015 #NPPRSA Twitter Chat Highlights

Twitter Chat Recap SquareWe’d like to thank everyone who participated in the August #NPPRSA Twitter chat, as our digital panel discussed how new professionals can successfully and efficiently take their career to the next level.

We would especially like to thank our all star panel for joining us to kick off PRSA 2015 New Professionals Week:



  • Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow – Director Corporate Communications at Scripps Networks Interactive
  • Sonja Popp-Stahly, APR, Global Employee Communications, Eli Lilly and Company; PRSA National Board of Directors
  • Mary Beth West, APR – CEO/Founder Mary Beth West Consulting LLC
  • Nick Lucido – Senior Account Supervisor, Global Fellow, Edelman Significa, PRSA New Professionals Section Chair
  • Danny Rubin, Vice President, Rubin Communications Group
  • Plank Center board members
  • Institute for Public Relations

Join us again in September for our next #NPPRSA chat for Ethics month and stay up-to-date with PRSA New Professionals on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Review highlights of the chat below. What did you learn from the August chat? How can you improve your career with these tips?


Register for the #NPPRSA Week webinar on 8/25 with @britopian to learn how to activate an influencer network!


Lauren Loxterman is the PRSA New Professionals Social Media Co-Chair and freelance digital public relations specialist. You can connect with her on Google+LinkedIn or Twitter.