From Post-Grad to Professional: How to Jump into the PR World in 2017

jump-into-2017

Just do it. And no, this isn’t a blog post sponsored by Nike. Just do it. Dive head-first into the pool of opportunity that is the public relations world. Its waters are deep; you will want a life jacket. And as you have already concluded, there is no lifeguard on duty. Have no fear! You will not sink… as long as you abide by these two policies this year:

Maintain enthusiasm. Seek opportunity.

Structure. It is defined as the process between components of something complex. As students, we developed a habit to systematize our lives around class schedules and the daily routines which coincided with college life. Before you knew it, it was over. What now? Uncertainty is intimidating. The structure you unknowingly relied on is no longer defined by your next class assignment, mid-term paper or upcoming PRSSA meeting. Where to next?

Consider this reality check:

You are the navigator. This is huge. What a wonderful place to be – at the starting line of the real world. There is potential at every corner. Apart from the support of your family and friends, the defining factor of what will push (sometimes pull) you along will be your enthusiasm. This is essential not only for how you conduct your professional life, but also your inner persona.

“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Success does not happen overnight, but becoming self-aware about your attitude can. If you are feeling discouraged, know that some of the strongest leaders were not knock-out superstars on day one. It was through the lessons learned by making countless mistakes that, over time, sculpted the greatest trailblazers in our industry. How did they make it? They were passionate about their work, they thought creatively and most importantly, they were enthusiastic about the “lessons” they learned from failing. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Next, Opportunity

Whether you’re interning at a branding agency, working part-time within a company’s marketing department, taking on freelance work, or still trying to figure out your next steps – know that being fresh out of the graduation cap and gown leaves a door open for the unimaginable. You have the time to invest in yourself outside of what you have done to earn your degree.

This year, make an effort to:

  • Become involved with your local PRSA New Professional section and surround yourself with a community of individuals who also want to invest in themselves. It is an empowering experience.
  • Seek mentorship through the PRSA Mentor Match. There are few words I can use to explain how important it is to find a mentor that can give you valuable guidance during your first steps into the industry. In one word: necessary. Anticipate an awe-inspiring moment when you see exactly what you want to do in your career. Your mentors will open your eyes to this.
  • Conquer the available PRSA training courses online through the PRSA website. These are essential skills and strategies that will prove themselves handy in times of demand.
  • Find inspiration by reading the best sellers in public relations and marketing and by watching webinars. Gain an insight on how industry leaders think. These are unparalleled resources for devising successful campaign strategies and sparking remarkable ideas.
  • If you want to do work in social media, work on earning native social media platform certifications through Facebook Blueprint and Twitter Flight School. Become Google certified in Google Analytics and Google AdWords if you are interested in online advertising. The more you know, the more you grow. Having these certifications under your belt can give you a level up on your resume.

Taking advantage of your resources is the greatest graduation gift you can give yourself this year. Remember, enthusiasm sparks curiosity which introduces opportunity. How did you jump head-first into the public relations world? I would love to hear your story!

anne-deady


Anne Deady is a social media specialist at MMI Agency in Houston, TX and a member of the PRSA Houston Chapter. Her professional interests include influencer marketing and social media strategy. In her spare time, Anne’s favorite activities include attempting every BuzzFeed Tasty recipe and teaching her German Shepherd tricks. She graduated from the University of Houston with a corporate communication major and business minor. You can follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Three Tips to Take the Jitters Out of Networking

networking-thanksgiving

People who work in PR are known for being social butterflies who can drum up a lively conversation with just about anyone. But I’ll be the first to admit that, yes, I work in PR, and yes, I still get a little anxious right before I walk into a networking event. It can be intimidating to attend a luncheon or conference by yourself. There’s that first long minute filled with nervous energy while you look for a friendly face, and then everything melts away after you start your first conversation. And by the end, you’re glad you went. This quote from Kristin Newman’s memoir perfectly sums it up:

“I was a shy little girl and an only child, so on vacations I was usually playing alone, too afraid to go up to the happy groups of kids and introduce myself. Finally, on one vacation, my mom asked me which I’d rather have: a vacation with no friends, or one scary moment. So I gathered up all of my courage, and swam over to the kids, and there was one scary moment… and then I had friends for the first time on vacation. After that, one scary moment became something I was always willing to have in exchange for the possible payoff. I became a girl who knew how to take a deep breath, suck it up, and walk into any room by herself.”

One scary moment is almost always worth the trade-off. Here are three tips to get you through that one scary moment and become an expert networker.

1. Geek out together

The good thing about attending PRSA networking events is that you automatically have at least one thing in common with everyone else there: you work in PR (or aspire to work in PR). So bring up industry news that your regular social circle doesn’t get nearly as excited about, like Snapchat’s new glasses or the latest brand in crisis. In addition to industry news, it’s helpful to be up on the latest global and national happenings, always, but especially before a networking event. My go-to resource is theSkimm, which presents the news in a quick, easily digestible format. It’s ripe with conversation starters.

2. Go beyond small talk

Based on the idea that we’re not defined by our job titles (although I would argue a career in PR results in a serious work/life blend), I recently stumbled upon this great list of questions to ask people instead of “What do you do?” from Fast Company. Some of my favorite questions are:

  • Do you have any side hustles or passion projects?
  • Are you working on any exciting projects right now?
  • What’s your favorite emoji?
  • What was the highlight of your week/weekend?
  • What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?

These are guaranteed to spark conversations that won’t fizzle out after the first minute.

3. Volunteer

If you’re new to an organization or city, the fastest way to make connections is to raise your hand and volunteer. For example, in PRSA you can join a number of committees, from new professionals to membership to communications. Choose a volunteer opportunity based on your strengths, whether that’s planning events, running the check-in table, or helping with promotion on social media. When you get involved, it allows you to build deeper relationships with members. Plus, you’ll know a few friendly faces when you go to the next event.

What are your tips for becoming an expert networker?

c_ryan_648

 

Caitlin Rebecca Ryan is a PR writer for Eric Mower + Associates in Charlotte, NC, with a passion for live music, snail mail, and novels. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.

5 Apps New Pros Need to Sucessfully Navigate Adulting

5-apps-cover

I’ve been somewhat successfully “adulting” for about ten months now and, I’ll admit, navigating the professional life is in no way a simple transition. No matter your approach, there’s no streamlined way to navigate this journey. It’s only through trial and error I am able to find the right recipe for success.  Since I’m a new PR pro and the textbook definition of a millennial, I’ve survived with the help of a few must-have apps that have helped me appear a bit more professional and significantly less stressed:

Grammarly

I’ll start with something relevant to every PR professional out there: good grammar and quality writing. Grammarly is the app that has saved me when I haven’t been able to save myself. Grammarly proofreads your written work, so anything from a press release to a late night email, and even a Facebook post gets scanned for spelling and grammatical errors. Even better, Grammarly works as a Google Application so it integrates into almost every website platform you’re utilizing. If you’re signing up for the first time, use this link to get one week of premium free and invite your friends!

theSkimm

Let’s be real, small talk that doesn’t go anywhere is meaningless. I believe in making conversations count and, more importantly, having educated things to say. Since we often don’t have the time to read all the news before your morning coffee, theSkimm hits you up with daily emails that provide the need-to-know details on big things happening in the world. Whether it’s domestic or international issues, political happenings or just some major pop culture, theSkimm ensures that you’re in-the-know with the facts to impress. So instead of mentioning the weather, enlighten your boss with an update on that environmental policy legislation that just passed in the House? Sign up for it here.

Unroll.Me

Remember all those subscriptions you subscribed to during college for the “free stuff”? Mmhmm… Now you’re out of that lifestyle, and you still get swamped with countless coupons that get in the way of those real emails from your job. Do yourself a favor and sign-up for Unroll.Me. This app goes through your email and identifies all your subscriptions which you can then either unsubscribe in one click (yeah, you heard me!) or roll them up all into one email. So long are the days of sifting through 30 emails from Macy’s or daily political fundraising emails. Save your GBs for something more important. Enroll in Unroll.Me here!

Shine Text  

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a daily pick-me-up? Every morning someone just reminding you that you’re awesome and capable of handling whatever comes your way? Shine Text is literally a high-five in your pocket.  Daily messages of affirmation that go directly to your phone each morning. Why? Because self-care is important, and so is doing your best. A little encouragement never hurt anyone. Get your daily dose of happiness here.

Mint

Money management, ya’ll. Now that you’ve transitioned from that pesky part-time paycheck, it’s time to see how far your dollar can really go. I use Mint not only to track my income but also to identify where I’m spending my money. For example, Mint lets me know what percentage of my income I should be spending on groceries, entertainment etc. versus how much I actually am. Also, it helps me save toward financial goals. I know how much to put away and how my current spending habits affect how fast I can save that cash. Smart spending makes for smart saving. You won’t be a New Pro forever, so learn smart saving practices early so you’re not playing catch-up in the long game.

BONUS: Gmail Notifier

So for those of you rocking #TeamGoogle for work email (sorry Outlook users) Gmail Notifier is a quick little add-on providing you with instant notifications whenever you receive a message from your Gmail account. Regardless of what screen you’re on or, if your Gmail window isn’t open, you’ll always know when a new message enters your inbox. It also works on multiple Gmail accounts so it can be synced to your work or personal accounts. Install it here.

headshot


Herasanna Richards is a member of the Central Michigan PRSA Chapter located in Lansing, MI. Currently, Herasanna is the Communications Specialist at Grassroots Midwest, a bipartisan political advocacy firm. She holds both her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communication and Political Science from Michigan State University. In her free time, she enjoys getting out and involved in her #LoveLansing community and binge watching the latests Netflix Originals. Catch up with her on
Twitter and LinkedIn!

Turning Your Internship Into A Full-Time Job

Turning your Internship into a full-time job

On the first day of my internship, I was handed a laptop, emailed a contract, and shown to my desk. That’s all. No new-hire orientation, no manual; the rest was up to me.

That was nearly three years ago. The trajectory of my internship relied entirely on my own ambition, and quite frankly, my desire to land a job. From my 8-month “audition” I found that there are three basic practices that interns should adopt in order to land a full-time offer.

Follow the Leader

It won’t be difficult to identify the individuals that you admire at your internship. Do some calendar stalking and you will find the leaders—their calendars will be packed with meetings since colleagues crave their input. Ask to join those meetings, as many as they will allow you to attend, and then, stop, sit, and listen. Really listen to the dialogue taking place inside the room, absorb what’s working, and make note of what isn’t.

As an intern, this practice almost felt like cheating. I had regular exposure to the most brilliant minds of the business.

Be a Duck

On the heels of one of our largest, most stressful, customer events of the year, my boss at the time, pulled me aside to share some advice that will stick with me for the rest of my professional career. “Today is going to be hectic,” she said. “Something will go wrong and it will be overwhelming, but all the while, you need to be a duck. Paddle furiously beneath the water and work through the chaos, but maintain cool composure up top where people can see you.”

Every day of your internship is a test of your ability to handle stress and problem-solve. Don’t let them see you sweat. Be a duck, and paddle like crazy. This is an indicator of how you will handle added responsibility as a full-time employee.

elizabethBe Better than Coffee, but Don’t be Above Coffee

Without question, your attitude will be one of the deciding factors of your future employment. In the investment banking world, it’s called the “punch test.” You’re working long hours, you’re stuck alongside the person in the other cubicle—is that person someone you want to be in the trenches with? Or will you fantasize about punching him after 2 months?   

In the tech world, there are common tasks that test your willingness to get your hands dirty. It’s  a “coffee run” or a seemingly never ending source of data that needs to be inputted into a spreadsheet. It’s something that every intern will and should have to experience. Don’t groan, don’t eyeroll, and for godsake, don’t mess up.

Be willing to do any job, but elevate yourself to the point where you’re trusted to do any job. What’s been stereotyped as a demeaning “intern task” is an exercise in teamwork and, depending on the complexity of the order, attention to detail. Be the person who gets coffee AND thrives in your role.       

In that same vein, I would be remiss to not call out to the employers who are reading this: there is a wealth of opportunity for you to learn from your intern and for your intern to learn from you. I was incredibly fortunate to intern with a company that recognized the value of giving interns an opportunity to earn their stripes and take on meaty projects. Interns don’t have to just be coffee runners and spreadsheet fillers, if you nurture their hunger and talent, you’re able to get a great sense of the type of full-time employee that will be. Hiring and onboarding an intern who has a deep knowledge of the company and a proven willingness to learn, saves you both time and money. And that’s just good business.

SamanthaSubarSamantha Subar is a Global PR Manager at Spredfast. She appreciates good sushi and data stories. Preferably combined, if possible. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

New-Pros-Wk_Doug-Killough

Every story is different; you can’t compare yourself to everyone else.”

This is a phrase I have heard more times than I can count over the past 15 months — a phrase that is 100 percent true.

When I graduated from college on May 1, 2015, I was feeling the way many of you might be feeling today. Or maybe you are one of those who graduated from college with the security of knowing what your next step was. If that’s you, congratulations! If that’s not you, trust me, every story and path to success is different. Here’s my story and advice for those new graduates looking for their first job:

The End of the Beginning

I remember my senior year like it was yesterday; the late nights and early mornings in Reese Phifer Hall, The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences building — my home for four years.

Perhaps you were heavily involved in extracurricular activities such as student organizations, clubs, sports, or represented your school through ambassador programs; whatever the case, you knew that you were gaining experience throughout your college years that would set you apart post-graduation.

Well, that was me. I served as vice president of PRSSA at Alabama. I had an internship at a local (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) strategic communications agency, which became a part-time job during my senior year. I was padding my resume with all of this experience, and I knew I’d have no trouble landing that first full-time job. I knew I would soon be on my way to a meaningful and successful career.

Don’t get me wrong – being involved in student organizations and having internships are two of the best ways to set yourself apart from others when searching for a job. But that’s only the first step.

Fast forward to post-graduation and what I know now: Your resume alone will not land you a job. Your resume and the impressive experience you have under your belt may only be enough to secure an interview. When you’re in the interview, you need to prove your worth and why you’re the perfect match for the job.

The Uncertainty of Post-Graduate Life

Here’s where it gets tough. Here’s where each day without a solid lead or connection for a new job induces anxiety, stress and panic.

The days started rolling by, and I still wasn’t anywhere close to landing a full-time job. I woke up each day not knowing if I’d hear good news or if I would go to bed that night with the same pessimistic mindset that I would never get out of this slump. My friends were all getting jobs, and I was batting .000, striking out with every at-bat. I’d start to doubt my abilities and worthiness and wonder why I hadn’t found a job like everyone else I graduated with. It even seemed like younger students were walking into internships with the door held open for them, and every door seemed to be shut in my face.

This is where it gets tough, but remember, every story is different.

What I know now: With every step in the right direction, you will eventually make it to your destination. My parents used to always tell me that everything would work out in the end if I stayed positive and kept working toward my goals. They were right, everything worked out. It always works out in the end.

Not Where You Want To Be

Like I said, every story is different. Fortunately, I was able to keep a post-grad, part-time job at the aforementioned strategic communications agency, but I had bigger plans. I had plans to leave the Southern comfort and hospitality that I grew up in and find my way in a city full of driven and hungry professionals.  While in Tuscaloosa, I was fortunate enough to have a boss that motivated and encouraged me to chase my dreams.

The problem: I couldn’t find any opportunity that would open doors. The solution: I had to create those opportunities.

What I know now: Creating opportunities is key. For me, it meant networking and meeting professionals who were willing to share their own advice with me. However, I met so many people during my job search that it began to seem pointless… until I met someone willing to mentor me, encourage me and support me along the way. Thanks, Patrick!

What You Need to Know Now

If someone had told me that it would take over a year after graduation to find my first job, I would have been shocked, only because we’re told early on in college that if we get involved and be proactive about gaining experience then we will be fine.

My story is different. I had to fly to different cities and schedule informational interviews. I had to make networking my full-time job. I had to knock on as many doors as possible to finally have one open. For some reason, my work experience just wasn’t getting me anywhere.

After a long year of getting my hopes up, getting rejected and getting discouraged, I am proud to finally say that I am working in sports and entertainment PR with some of the industry’s brightest and most passionate people.

So, to each and every new college graduate reading this, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Most job opportunities won’t work out — that’s fine. Don’t be discouraged with 100 rejections; it only takes one offer to outweigh all the rejections.
  2. Get out there and meet people who will share their experience and advice with you. You just might meet someone willing to mentor you and guide you along the way like I did.
  3. Never give up on your dreams — reaching your goals will never be a smooth, straight road, just keep moving forward. I finally landed the job I had been dreaming about – the journey to my job now is worth every up and down along the way.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s story is different, and that’s what makes it so great. So what if your classmates already have a job? Your time will come…just keep pushing forward.
  5. Enjoy 1 – 4. My friends can tell you I spent most of my job search stressed out and worried. Remember, it will work out in the end so enjoy the ride.

Today I find myself at Ketchum, more specifically, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment (KSE). Looking back, I can say that I wish I had known then what I know now — that it always works out in the end. Sometimes you just have to make it happen for yourself. So when it seems like everyone else around you is moving on, starting their careers and establishing themselves, just remember: every story is different; you can’t compare yourself to everyone else.

doug-killough

 

Doug is currently an account coordinator at Ketchum, specifically Ketchum Sports & Entertainment (KSE). He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Information Sciences, Public Relations from the University of Alabama. Connect with Doug on Twitter and LinkedIn.