There are many PRSA chapters that are doing great work to bring together New Pros and creating an inclusive group to make the transition from student to professional a little easier. This month, we sat down with Hannah Leibinger and Greg Rokisky, chair and vice-chair, respectively of PRSA Central Michigan’s New Professionals group.
The Edge: Tell us about Central Michigan PRSA’s New Pros group:
Hannah: Central Michigan PRSA New Professionals is the premier networking group for up-and-coming public relations professionals in the greater Lansing area. The group is for new professionals – up to five years new to the field – to network, hone public relations skills and transition into the public relations field with a group of familiar peers. Members of CMPRSA New Professionals don’t need to be CMPRSA members and most activities have little or no cost.
TE: How many members do you have?
H: Since we launched our group in February 2015 after it was inactive for several years, we essentially had to cultivate a group from scratch. We’re currently at around 35-40 new professionals.
TE: What kind of programming have you put together for New Pros?
H: Our goal is to provide programming our members want, which means we frequently have discussions about what everybody is interested in and what they’ve liked so far. Our events have included casual happy hour mixers, a tour of a print shop (which included putt putt golf!), launching a book club (we’re currently reading No Cape Needed by David Grossman, ABC, APR, FELLOW PRSA), LinkedIn peer reviews with free professional headshots by a local photographer, a graphic design workshop for the holidays, a Q&A happy hour with some of our chapter’s more experienced professionals and more.
TE: How does your group fit into the bigger picture of the chapter?
Greg: Essentially, the CMPRSA New Professionals section is the key network that bridges the gap from new graduates to new professionals in our region’s public relations industry. We encourage PRSSA students on the cusp of graduation to attend our events and get a feel for the mid-Michigan professional world. Most students don’t escape the bubble of Michigan State University’s campus and miss out on the great opportunities Lansing has to offer. From there we give new professionals an outlet to comfortably express the highs and lows of transitioning to new professional life, in order for them to become fully integrated members of the larger PRSA community.
TE: What resources do you provide for New Pros?
G: We provide resources from PRSA national, PRSA New Pros national and opportunities to strengthen their resume such as pro bono professional headshots, contributing to The Edge and networking opportunities with more seasoned professionals. But what Hannah and I believe is most valuable for a new professional is a network of like-minded individuals that can come together and communicate any hurdles or achievements we experience in our workplaces. It’s a safe place to learn, vent and grow to become the talented public relations leaders that we look up to, both in our chapter and beyond.
TE: What do some of your members see as the benefit of being a part of the bigger New Pros group?
H: We’ve had a lot of great feedback from our members. Some of the best things we’ve heard are:
“I like being able to connect with and share experiences with other PR new professionals in the community. We can bond together, whether it’s sharing successes or occasionally venting.”
“It’s great to collaborate with other professionals who are experiencing the same success and failures as they navigate the PR profession. I joined for networking opportunities but have now made some great friends!”
“I love new pros because it’s the perfect outlet to engage with other new professionals and establish strategic relationships.”
TE: How do you engage and recruit New Pros?
G: We do a blast for every new professionals event to our full chapter membership, and then ask our board to inform interns/new professionals that might not be on our list. We also have our own Google form for our new professionals section that allows us to easily capture emails via social media posts and at events. Overall, it’s been a lot of grassroots and word-of-mouth effort on our part.
TE: What advice do you have for New Pros for using PRSA to their best advantage?
H: PRSA offers a variety of resources, so it’s just a matter of taking advantage of them. I stay in the loop by following all the social media accounts for PRSA, PRSA New Pros and my local chapter.
G: Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, virtually or in-person, that you think you could learn from. Attend Twitter chats for both PRSA and PRSA New Pros and put yourself out there and go beyond the “four walls” of your city.
TE: What is the best way for New Pros to get involved in the PR community?
H: In regard to advice, I’d say to take initiative and step up for leadership roles, such as spearheading your new professionals group or volunteering on a committee. It makes meeting PR and other professionals in your region a lot easier, plus you get great experience to add to your resume!
G: It’s tempting as a new professional to want to blend in to fit in, but that’s not the case. Be yourself, as only you can offer your unique set of skills and abilities. Look for mentors that can help guide you, and that often means looking outside of your organization. Above all else, never stop learning! The more you can provide value in your presence, the harder it will be for your company, PRSA chapters, etc. to ever let you go.