Member Spotlight: Meet Rebecca Hansen

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Name:
Rebecca Hansen

Position/Company:
Marketing and Community Relations Lead at Sky Zone Greensboro

Location:
Greensboro, NC

Education:
B.S. Communication, East Carolina University & M.S. Public Relations, Syracuse University

Social Media Handle:
@RebeccaHansenPR


 

What made you interested in PR and communications?

I was involved in a lot of communication-centric activities in high school like morning announcements, forensics (public speaking) and drama. When it came time to apply to universities, I wanted something that would allow me to merge my writing, speaking and design skills all in one.

How did you find internships/jobs?

  • College of Human Ecology at East Carolina University Internship: Saw an online posting with ECU.
  • Semple Solutions Internship (Small PR Firm): Owner came to speak to my PRSSA group.
  • Syracuse Stage Internship: Sought out an entertainment-focused PR internship by utilizing the Newhouse Career Center (Syracuse University).
  • Dassault Falcon Jet Internship: Networked within the company and created a custom internship.
  • Sky Zone Greensboro Job: Looked on Indeed for communication jobs within North Carolina.

What has been the most valuable thing you have learned through classes or experience?

I was skeptical to take a social media class because I thought as a millennial, I knew pretty much everything about Facebook and Twitter, but I took a class at Newhouse (Syracuse University) and learned to deep-dive into analytics and read demographics to benefit a brand.

What has been the best piece of advice you have received?

Read your material out loud so it’s easier to catch typos or awkward-sounding phrases.

Do you have any advice of your own for future PR pros?

Take advantage of any learning opportunity, whether or not you’ll think it’ll help you at the moment. It may benefit you in the future!

What do you think is the best benefit of PRSA and the New Pros section?

The network is incredible! Many seasoned professionals are willing to mentor recent graduates.

Why did you decide to get your Master’s in PR?

There were a few factors that played into my decision to get my Master’s degree. Due to my academic record, I received a scholarship to one of the most prestigious communication schools in the country. Second, I felt like having another degree under my belt would make me stand out from the competition.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before becoming a new professional?

I should have started applying for jobs sooner than I did. Although I didn’t mind moving back with my parents right after graduation, there was a slight competition among my classmates to be the first to find a full-time job.

New Pros Chapter Spotlight: California Capital Chapter

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#MemberMonday has been on a brief hiatus, but we’re back this week with a brand new Chapter of the Month! This month we’re featuring PRSA California Capital’s growing & vibrant New Pros group, led by Erica Brown, Jordyn True Anderson, Jessica Sweeten & Gina Burdi.

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The Edge: Tell us about PRSA California Capital’s New Pros group:

Erica Brown: PRSA California Capital Chapter New Professionals started in 2014 under the leadership of PRSSA Sacramento State recent grads, Erica Brown and Jordyn True Anderson. Since our inception, we’ve hosted several different events such as mixers, trivia nights and more recently a Career Day where we partnered with PRSSA Sacramento State to tour local agencies, companies and media outlets. Our section is lead by committee of four people right now.

TE: How many members do you have?

EB: 14 and growing!

TE: What kind of programming have you put together for New Pros?

EB: Mixers, trivia night, panels discussing emerging trends and hot industry topics, streamed webinars and the inaugural Career Day, which is an agency tour for local students to discover and get an inside glimpse of local agencies.

TE: How does your group fit into the bigger picture of the chapter?

EB: Our section has helped to bridge the gap between PRSSA students who are newly entering the workforce and helping them transition over to the PRSA Chapter. We help our Chapter with a lot of new member recruitment and outreach. We also look to provide fun, energetic and engaging programming for members and a way to intermingle new and seasoned professionals.

TE: What resources do you provide for New Pros?

EB: Connections to local professionals, job postings, networking/learning opportunities, mentorship

TE: What do some of your members see as the benefit of being a part of the bigger New Pros group?

EB: Networking with local professionals, building and expanding their professional network with other local new professional cohorts

TE: How do you engage and recruit New Pros?

EB: We work closely with the local PRSSA Sacramento State chapter to build relationships with these aspiring PR professionals while they are still students. We offer them mentorship opportunities and include and invite them to all of our programming events.

TE: What advice do you have for New Pros for using PRSA to their best advantage?

“Join right after graduation! There’s no better opportunity to network and continue learning than PRSA.” – Erica Brown

“Join either right before you graduate or as soon as you move to a city with a local chapter to get your foot in the door. You make so many connections right off the bat and those connections are strengthened by attending events, being actively engaged and getting involved with the board or a committee. If I didn’t get involved in PRSA when I first moved to Sacramento, I would probably be stuck working an entry-level job doing something that has nothing to do with PR. Our industry thrives on networking and PRSA is the easiest, most efficient way to become a part of the Sacramento PR Network.” – Jessica Sweeten

“Get involved, volunteer at events, or join a committee and make connections. There is so much opportunity to gain valuable skills that you can put on your resume or talk about in a job interview that are all gained by being an active member of PRSA.” – Gina Burdi

TE: What is the best way for New Pros to get involved in the PR community?

“Attend events and meet someone new every time!” – Erica Brown

“Go to events! There’s mixers that are socially based and there’s workshops that are educationally based so whether you are shy and nervous or outgoing and vivacious, there’s an event for you to get your feet wet!” – Jessica Sweeten

“Show up and follow up. If you meet someone at a PRSA event, follow up with them and foster and grow that relationship. Personal connections can really help to pave the way to success.” – Gina Burdi  

For more information on PRSA California Capital’s New Pros Group, check out their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. If you have specific questions about joining PRSA California Capital’s New Pros Group, tweet at Erica, Jessica, Jordyn and Gina.

10 PRSA member benefits you should be using to network & grow your career

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The main draw of joining a professional organization like PRSA is its plethora of member benefits. Among them are the oft-missed resources to connect professionals of both similar and different backgrounds no matter where they are in the country. Networking, in any of its forms, can be overwhelming, particularly for new pros. So how can we use PRSA’s tools and benefits to network and grow our careers?

First, it’s important to know what’s out there for you to use. New pros have two types of networking tools to use: those available to all PRSA members and some that only New Professionals Section members may access.

For all PRSA members:

Member Directory

Know a member that you want to connect with? Moving to a new city and want to connect with some members of your new chapter beforehand? PRSA’s member directory can help you. The member directory allows PRSA members to search for other members using a variety of criteria. Whether you want to search by name, location, designation, chapter, expertise, section, organizational setting or industry, the member directory is the place to go. Click here to search the PRSA’s member directory.

Twitter Chats

If sending an email to a stranger isn’t quite up your alley, you’re not alone. A great way to meet other PRSA members organically is by participating in the organization’s monthly Twitter chats. Professionals in a variety of backgrounds and experience levels tune into these chats and share their experience on whatever the topic at hand is. Feel free to like, retweet, reply to and follow any members participating. After the chat, if you’d like to talk more with particular members, tweet at or direct message them. Click here to follow PRSA on Twitter.

MyPRSA Forums

The forum is an online message board hosted on PRSA’s website. Members may read threads, post their own questions or comment on those posed by others. There are different threads for professional interest sections, including New Professionals, current issues, and topics in PR. The forum is a great way to ask advice from other members in a somewhat private setting. Click here to access the forum.

Chapter meetings & events

All chapters host meetings and events for members. Attending a happy hour or presentation is a great way to meet other professionals in your area and make connections. Attending is also a great way to get your foot in the door and participate more within your local chapter. Click here to find contact information for your chapter.

Conferences

PRSA’s international and regional conferences are another great example of how to use your PRSA membership to meet other professionals. Regional conferences are hosted throughout the year by the organization’s 10 districts. PRSA’s annual International Conference is hosted each fall. While attendance is not limited to PRSA members, registration is always discounted with a membership. Click here to learn more about PRSA events.

PRSA Connect

PRSA Connect is a new benefit launched earlier this year. This online community makes it easier to collaborate and stay connected with your peers. You can join discussion groups and boards relevant to your interests, search for colleagues with similar interests and backgrounds and share resources and information within your community groups. Click here to access PRSA Connect using your MyPRSA login.

For New Professionals Section members:

New Pros LinkedIn Group

Members of the New Professionals section may request to join the section’s private LinkedIn group. Their members can post questions and relevant articles and engage with other section members from across the nation. Click here to visit the New Professionals Section’s LinkedIn group.

New Pros Facebook Group

In addition to our Facebook page, where you can find updates from the section and articles of interest to PR pros, members can join our Facebook group to chat with other members, discuss topics of interest to new pros, ask questions and more. Click here to join the New Pros Facebook group.

Section Twitter Chats & Google Hangouts

As a section, we host monthly Twitter chats and Google hangouts for members to participate in. Each one has a specific topic to be discussed and some have special guests attending to provide some insight from their own experience. All members are encouraged to participate in these chats and hangouts as a great way to learn and meet other section members. Click here to view scheduled chats and hangouts for the rest of 2016.

Section Blog

The New Professionals Section also has a blog chock full of resources, tips, and advice for new pros. Anyone can read the blog, but it’s entirely written by section members. Each month focuses on a particular topic and is a great way for new pros to showcase both their writing skills and expertise. Click here to check out the upcoming topics and volunteer to write for the blog.

As you can see, there are plenty of resources out there for new pros members to use to network and further their careers. What are your favorite tools and benefits available to PRSA members? Share them with us on Twitter using the hashtag #MemberMonday.

New Pros Chapter Spotlight: PRSA Central Michigan

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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.

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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.

Don’t forget to connect with CMPRSA on Facebook, Twitter or by visiting their  website. You can also connect with Hannah (Twitter or LinkedIn) and Greg (Twitter or LinkedIn).

Transitioning from PRSSA to PRSA

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You’ve put in the work, your finals are in and graduation is finally right around the corner. You’re making your post-grad to-do list and checking it twice. Joining PRSA as an Associate Member should also be at the top of your to-dos.

Why Join PRSA?

As a graduating PRSSA member you likely already know that being a member of PRSA is a step you should take to further your career. You probably also know that joining the world’s largest public relations professional organization gives you unlimited opportunities to connect with and learn from more than 21,000 other public relations and communications professionals at all career levels. You may also understand that participating in PRSA, volunteering and taking on leadership roles give you the opportunity to actively shape the future of the profession, as well as shaping yourself as a professional.

By investing in joining a professional organization like PRSA, you’re investing in your career and your own development. Beyond connecting with other professionals, PRSA membership offers the opportunity for continued professional development, career advancement, mentoring and more.

So how do I join?

Joining PRSA couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is fill out the online application, list your Alma Mater, select your local Chapter and special interest sections (please keep in mind both of these are optional) and submit your payment. Don’t forget to keep your receipt since professional organization dues are tax deductible.

Membership dues for PRSA are tiered, depending on experience level. Associate Membership is ideal for recent grads and young professionals. As an Associate Member, you have access to all of the benefits of PRSA with discounted dues. Current students who are within five months of graduation and PRSSA graduates (within two years of graduation) can join at $60 a year. Professionals with less than a year of experience, or those who weren’t PRSSA members, can join at $115 a year; those with one to two years of experience, $155 a year; and those with two to three years of experience, $200 a year. Associate members may also join the New Professionals Section at no additional cost with the promo code AM16. Professionals with more than three years of experience are simply classified as members. Regular membership dues are $255 a year for the duration of your career.

How is PRSA different from PRSSA?

PRSA differs from PRSSA  because it offers professional development for members in all stages of their careers. As a PRSA member, you can seek out ways to get involved and serve your Chapter by contacting your Chapter president or the chair of a committee you’re interested in helping with. PRSA has more than enough opportunities for every member to get involved, but it’s up to each member how much time and energy they want to invest in the organization.

What role does my local Chapter play?

PRSA and its New Professionals Section offer great opportunities for networking with other professionals all over the country, but your local Chapter is the most important piece of your professional puzzle. If you’re looking for a job, to relocate or both, searching your Chapter or prospective Chapter’s online job board is a great way to find positions located near you. Connecting with members of your local (or prospective) Chapter and meeting with them to discuss the opportunities that are available, who you are and what you’re interested in is another often overlooked way to become aware of new jobs within your area. Most new opportunities are passed around and come across the desks of seasoned professionals before they’re posted online, if they ever make it there. Having yourself fresh on your colleagues minds is the best way to become aware of what’s out there, whether you’re looking for a new job or not.

Are there any groups or benefits specifically for recent grads?

Joining the New Professionals Section, one of the organization’s 14 Professional Interest Sections, is a great way to make the transition from student to professional. If you already have an idea of which industry you’d like to work in or would like to have a little extra guidance in the industry you’re currently (or soon-to-be) working in, check out any of the 10 industry specific Sections PRSA offers. If you only join one though, make sure it’s the New Professionals Section. Membership is reserved to those with three years of experience or less and is a great community for young pros to get advice from peers, begin to get involved and give back to the organization, and learn to navigate the working world.

In addition to PRSA’s national New Professionals Section, many Chapters have their own New Professionals group to help connect members and offer resources on a local level. Chapters typically list special interest groups and contact information on their websites. The New Professionals Section also keeps a list of New Professionals groups and their parent chapters.

Will my employer pay my dues?

Some employers will pay professional organization dues for its employees, either through group rates or as part of an employee benefit package. Whether PRSA membership is included as a benefit depends entirely on the company or organization, but it can’t hurt to ask. If you’d like to discuss PRSA and its membership benefits with your supervisor or boss, mentioning items like the industry-focused publications, networking opportunities and the library of free resources and professional development opportunities may be great information to help make the case for employer investment in PRSA memberships.

How can I make the most of my PRSA membership?

All of these benefits are great, but the best way to get the most out of your membership is to get involved with the organization. It can be as simple as volunteering to help with an event or writing for your Chapter’s blog or as involved as taking on a leadership role. Jumping right in and getting your hands dirty is the best thing you can do to put yourself out there, make those important connections, gain experience and make your membership work for you.

Robyn Rudish-Laning (1)

Robyn Rudish-Laning serves on PRSA’s New Professionals Section’s executive committee and is an active member of South Carolina’s PRSA chapter. She holds a master’s degree in Media Arts and Technology and a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, both from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Robyn is a native of Southern New Jersey and currently resides in Columbia, SC.  You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter, email her or read her blog here.