Answering The Tough Questions

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Weighing the ethics of any situation may seem like something better left to those with more experience under their belts than we New Pros. Questions of ethics are the tough questions.

But being an ethical professional isn’t magically bestowed on PR pros once they have a certain amount of experience. That would be nice, right?

As PR professionals, the closest thing we have to an ethics fairy godmother is PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards, or BEPS. BEPS is responsible for developing PRSA’s Code of Ethics and counseling professionals through ethical dilemmas and practices.

Since an ethical professional can’t be born overnight, New Pros has teamed up with BEPS to answer any and all ethics-related questions to celebrate Ethics Month. Throughout the month of September, we’ll be collecting questions from New Pros via this form. BEPS will answer each question and we’ll share the answers in a blog post and across our social media between Sept. 25 and Sept. 30.

Have a question, but prefer to remain anonymous? No worries! Just select that option on the form before you submit your question.

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That’s a wrap!

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Thank you for joining us for New Pros Week 2017!

Each year, PRSA’s New Professionals Section puts together a weeklong celebration of PR’s new, aspiring and up-and-coming professionals. Working together with PRSSA and PRSA, we organize conversations and programming that highlight the great things new pros bring to the profession.

This year, we decided to take it a step further and focus not only on our successes and newness, but to explore the opportunities out there for us to grow and learn as we progress through our careers. We worked to build conversations around what we need to know and what we can to to set ourselves up for career-long growth, how we can find and utilize a mentor relationship to grow as PR professionals, what we can do to give back and cultivate future PR talent, and the importance of building and maintaining our networks. In addition to conversations, we created handouts and guides to help members find their own path to success.

If you missed any of last week’s New Pros Week events, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!

Celebrating New Pros doesn’t have to be limited to just one week of the year!

If your organization or PRSA chapter is interested in engaging New Pros and creating programming for them, here are a few of our tips.

  • Host a special viewing of a PRSA webinar for new professionals
  • Sponsor a Networking Mixer or Happy Hour at a popular local restaurant or bar
  • Coordinate a job fair or career connection event for new professionals
  • Host at an event or workshop at a local company or agency
  • Create a mentor program
  • Host a happy hour or meetup around one of our upcoming programs

What’s in Your Toolshed: Advice from fellow New Pros

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When we began planning New Pros Week, we began discussing what kind of theme would best tie everything together and give members concrete advice and next steps once the week was over. As we mulled topics over for different programs, there were a few things we kept coming back to: what do New Pros need to be successful and what do we wish we had known before we entered the working world.

The answers to both of these questions are key to professional growth, the theme we decided on for New Pros Week 2017. To gather the best advice we could, we asked New Pros from all over to share their insight with us and the wider New Pros network. Below is advice from fellow New Pros.

What tools & skills do New Pros need in their toolshed?

New Pros need to be curious, whether it’s staying on top of new trends in the industry or learning a new skill, the genuine desire to learn something new everyday will keep you at the top of your game. I think it’s also incredibly important for PR pros to be level-headed and solution-oriented. PR is a balancing act of ever-changing priorities, client expectations, personal workloads, among other things. A calm demeanor and inquisitive attitude will definitely help you conquer any challenge thrown your way. Arielle Schrader, NYC

“New Pros need to know how to manage several projects at once and prioritize things.” Alyssa Thys, Atlanta

“PR pros need to know how to write!, AP style, understand social media, be able to see things from multiple perspectives, and be proactive.” Laura Fooks, Dallas

“New Pros need to be willing to learn and ask questions of professionals who have been in the business longer than you.” Ruthann Campbell, Tallahassee

“New pros need to be self-starters and pick up new skills quickly – especially in agencies. Things change rapidly and you have to be proactive about keeping up.” – Veronica Mingrone, NYC

“I consider two skills to be most vital. First, writing. You need to communicate clearly, and effectively to your co-workers, clients, and consumers. Second, decision making. This is particularly important if you want to be an effective leader.” Anne Deady, Houston

“The greatest skill New Pros, and PR pros in general, can use to their advantage is the thirst for lifelong learning. Many people get busy and don’t take the time to stay on top of certain trends or target audiences. If you make learning a daily habit, and seek out others who push and encourage you to learn, you’ll find great success! Additionally, seek out things that make you uncomfortable. If you’re comfortable you may have fallen into some complacency which doesn’t encourage learning (see above point). If you always push yourself into strategically uncomfortable situations, you’ll demonstrate a willingness to go above and beyond!”Greg Rokisky, Lansing

“It seems like the landscape of PR is drastically changing. So fast that it’s hard to keep up. New Pros need to have two skills: curiosity and persistence. I call them skills because I believe they can be fostered. Curiosity keeps you asking “why” and persistence “how.” Develop these two and you cannot fail.” Seth Kingdon, Charlotte

“Write well. This doesn’t apply only to media materials, but everything involving words – emails, presentations, social media and so on. Beyond spelling and grammar, being creative and concise are key.” –  Natalie Bailey, Charlotte

“The most important career skill is the ability to learn and adapt quickly. In a media environment disrupted by technology, young PR pros must demonstrate their ability and commitment to mastering new skills all the time. There is also a tremendous amount of media to consume. New Pros should be experts at synthesizing this information and developing relevant client recommendations.” Peter Walpole, NYC

“I think an incredibly valuable skill for new pros to have is self-awareness. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and understand what your value add can be from both a client and internal perspective. Once you hone in on your strengths, it will become easier to work on your weaknesses and help you become a more well-rounded professional.”Annelise Campbell, NYC

“I think the number one skill to be successful in PR is writing. From news releases to blog posts and even 140-character tweets, it’s so important to be able to communicate clearly and engage your audience.”  Caitlyn Ryan, Charlotte

What do you wish you had known before that may have helped you grow where you were planted in your first job?

“Find and be a mentor. Maintaining relationships in a variety of fields – not just PR – can be meaningful when you need advice or a reference, and there is nothing more rewarding than helping someone else be successful. It’s important to have someone ahead of and behind you on the career jungle gym that can offer a different perspective and help you navigate your journey.” –  Natalie Bailey, Charlotte

“In an agency setting, don’t always pine after the accounts you think you’d be good at – keep an open mind and an eager attitude and you may surprise yourself. When I first started out, I was determined to work with clients that I already had an interest in. When I joined a technology-focused team (an area I had zero experience in), I found myself learning and loving the industry more than I thought I would. It’s important to expand your creative boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone is a great way to do so!” Paige Raiczyk, NYC

“I wish I was reminded that there are many different, unique paths to success, especially in such a vast industry like PR. My biggest advice to New Prosentering  the working world? Determine what success means to you individually, then work really hard to accomplish your goals. There’s no need to directly compare your path to anyone else’s and, remember, every experience is valuable.” – Arielle Schrader, NYC

“Before I entered the working world, I wish I really knew the power of networking. If I could go back in time, I would have joined my local PRSA chapter immediately. It’s invaluable.”Caitlyn Ryan, Charlotte

“I wish I would have known that life as a new pro goes quick, so say yes to as much as you can while you have the time. The more you grow as a professional, the more responsibility you take on and the less you can say yes to. Entering the working world means you have the freedom to explore and find your likes, dislikes, side projects and more!” – Greg Rokisky, Lansing

“Beware of the office gossiper.” Alyssa Thys, Atlanta

“There are high levels of turnover throughout the PR industry, particularly in junior-level roles. The lesson here is that your best network is the people around you. It is critical to build strong relationships with your colleagues, including those you intern with. The industry becomes smaller as you advance in your career and if you’re lucky, you will likely work with many of these people again down the road.” Peter Walpole, NYC

“The more you learn, the more you will be asked to do. Learn how to prioritize and say “no” when you can’t keep up with your current workload.” Ruthann Campbell, Tallahassee

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help! In agency life things can get extremely hectic. If you have too much on your plate, seek out a more senior person for help. Chances are a senior person can offer advice and solutions that you may not have considered. If you are feeling very overwhelmed, get in the habit of communicating it before you burn yourself out.”Annelise Campbell, NYC

“You need to adapt to your surroundings and be open to change. Be fluid. Sometimes you will be handed a task you are not crazy about – but it will grow your skillset and boost your value.” Anne Deady, Houston

“I wish I would’ve had a better understanding of analytics, Google AdWords and web development.” Laura Fooks, Dallas

“Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, take every opportunity possible to learn and network. You’ll end up finding your place in the industry sooner than you think.” Veronica Mingrone, NYC

What’s the best advice you have for other New Pros? What skills do you think are essential? Comment below or tweet at us!

Consulting 101: Uncommon Tips for Agency Success

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Public relations agencies are microcosms of the greater industry, embodying the most dynamic and challenging elements of communications work. Achieving success in the agency setting requires hard work, long hours and a laser focus on personal growth. After one year into my role at a global public affairs firm, I looked back to take stock on what I believe makes a communications consultant stand out.

Understand the business of the business. For a junior staffer, a comfortable understanding of budgeting, billing, staffing and client services can be a significant differentiator. Public relations agencies are professional services businesses, and employee billings are the primary driver of a company’s revenue. Whereas it’s certainly not all about the money, a budget-conscious approach to work is a paramount trait among strong leaders. The best way to position yourself for advancement is to look to those working above and alongside you to gain an understanding of the fundamental questions behind the business: How does my company make money? Am I doing everything I can to maintain top-quality and budget-conscious service? How can I help to keep my clients happy?

Master flexibility. Communications work is often unpredictable. Depending on your occupation, the degree of this unpredictability can vary dramatically. However, a basic principle of agency work is to expect the unexpected. As an agency professional, you will need to be able to work quickly and tactfully with a variety of issues. The best practitioners can approach an issue, dig into it with confidence and handle it competently. Learn to embrace the project-based and short-term engagements that tend to appear in the agency setting – every task is an opportunity to demonstrate your aptitude. If you’re unfamiliar with a topic or task, embrace it, and ask every smart question you’ll need to inform your success. Never say “that’s not my job” or appear reluctant to roll up your sleeves and engage.

Learn how to quantify your own successes. When you work in an agency, it’s easy to become consumed with the day-to-day rigors of short turnaround deliverables, meeting your managers’ expectations and articulating your work’s value to clients. Measurement is the key component of demonstrating the value of public relations, for both campaign outcomes and your individual services. Young professionals should maintain a file of professional accomplishments that quantify your hard work. This can include a list of valuable media hits, event results, campaign outcomes or any other computable metrics, including something as simple as a “good work” email from the client. When the time comes to discuss your performance, you’ll have a portfolio of your own achievements to lean on.

Don’t fear strategy. It’s easy for junior agency staff to feel like they’re running through the motions, often executing on the tactics assigned by mid-level account leaders and senior agency directors. Young professionals joining the agency world should be mindful of this dynamic, but never abandon the instinct to think and counsel strategically. You don’t need to have 20 years of experience to have a good idea, and you must embrace the reality that you are a part of the team. Be careful and measured in your proposal of good ideas, and be open to healthy scrutiny. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and always remember it is your remit to take the active role in bringing your ideas to life.

The best young professionals are always looking to take their roles to the next level, constantly asking, “what can I do to add value here?” What do you do to add value to your agency?

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Gary Bridgens is a project consultant in APCO Worldwide’s New York Office, and the PRSA-NY Executive Secretary. Connect with him on LinkedIn, or email him directly.

 

 

 

Take part in New Pros Week 2017

For more information, and ways to get involved, with this year’s New Pros Week check out the below infographic schedule, or click HERE.

Full Schedule

New Pros Week 2017 Twitter Chat Recap

We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the 2017 New PRSA New Pros Week Twitter Chat as we discussed what it means to be a new professional and what steps we can all take to maximize success.

Review highlights of the chat below. What did you learn from the August chat? How can you maximize YOUR success as a PR New Pro?

Take part in New Pros Week 2017

For more information, and ways to get involved, with this year’s New Pros Week check out the below infographic schedule, or click HERE.

New Pros Week 2017