“Getting Involved in PRSA” from a New Pro

Getting fully involved in PRSA may seem like a scary thing – joining a new organization, let alone trying to be active in it isn’t always easy. If you’re anything like me, you may not feel like you should interject because you’re a new young professional and don’t feel like you have enough experience to be involved with practitioners of 15+ years. I am here to tell you that PRSA at the local, district, and national level are ready to welcome you with open arms! They are always looking for young professionals to be involved, because young professionals are the future of the profession and the organization.

If you’re interested in starting to do more than just attend meetings or follow PRSA social media channels, here’s how you can start!


Local Level

The first and probably most impactful way to get involved is to start with your local chapter. As a member of the Oklahoma City chapter and committee chair, my involvement got started when I moved to Oklahoma City in 2017. After attending a couple meetings, I decided I wanted to help serve the chapter. If you already have a connection with someone on the board, reach out to them and ask if there is somewhere you can serve. If you don’t know anyone (like I did), contact the chapter president. They’ll know exactly where the chapter needs the most help and will be willing to get you connected with the right people. Also, don’t forget to attend as many meetings/events as possible so you become a recognizable figure in your area!


District Level

Every PRSA chapter belongs to a district. Here in OKC, we belong to the Southwest District. When we’re able to attend in-person events again, keep an eye out for or ask your chapter leadership about district conferences. Most of the districts hold them annually, and it’s a great way to meet PR professionals in your area and get connected with all sorts of people. Because of my attendance at the last few Southwest District conferences, I am currently serving as the Treasurer of the Southwest District and am presenting at ICON with one of the connections I made!


National Level

There are many ways you can serve at the national level. Although it’s usually best to have some experience serving at lower levels, it never hurts to reach out to someone at the national level. For example, we are always looking for people to write for this newsletter and write for our blog. You may even want to submit something to Strategies & Tactics (PRSA’s national publication). If you’re interested in serving on the National New Pros Committee (I am the 2020 Membership Chair), reach out to one of us! We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. Eventually you may even have the opportunity to serve on the National Executive Board.

As you can see, there are many ways to be involved in PRSA. It all starts with just asking! I highly suggest you attend as many meetings, conferences, and events as possible; especially ICON. If you’re not sure you can afford membership or conferences, check with your local chapter or district about scholarships. Also, ask your employer about paying for your membership – I promise you it’s a great investment and offers a multitude of professional development opportunities. The worst anyone can say is ‘no’ and you’ll never know until you ask!

How do you plan to get involved? Comment below or connect on LinkedIn to share your thoughts.

Landis Tindell

 

Landis Tindell is currently the Communications Coordinator for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in Oklahoma City, OK. He serves as the Professional Development Day committee chair for PRSA-OKC, the treasurer for the PRSA Southwest District, and as the Membership Chair for the National New Pros Committee.

Landis holds a Bachelor in Public Relations from Harding University and is pursuing a Masters Degree in Strategic Communication from Texas Tech University. Landis was named a 2019 PRNEWS 30 Under 30 Rising Star and the 2018 Young Professional of the Year by PRSA-OKC.

LinkedIn: Landis Tindell

 

The Best Webinars on Social Justice & Equality (and Where to Hear Their Recordings)

In June, we saw Black Lives Matter erupt in protests even as the world was recovering from a global pandemic. But after Glassdoor had just reported that 42% of U.S. employees have experienced or seen racism in the workplace last year, was it really such a surprise that the human rights movement started in 2016 was still alive?

Now in July, dozens of helpful resources have similarly sprung up in the interest of social justice and equality. As the public relations professional in your workplace, it may be up to you to begin these conversations.

Below are some of the most authentic and insightful webinars we have found around Black Lives Matter. Watch them, learn from them, and — most importantly — share them.

Brands Taking A Stand Against Social Injustices – When Staying Silent Is No Longer An Option

This PRSA webinar is free with your PRSA membership and digs into how different brands can genuinely address social issues in line with their own company values. Specific topics include:

  • Evaluation Before Engagement (tactics & possible outcomes)
  • Value-Based Action (genuine reactions and leadership)
  • Identify Decision-Making Moments (when to take a stand as a brand)

Watch the recording as a PRSA member for free here: PRSA – Brands Taking a Stand

Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on African Americans and Communities of Color

This free webinar was coordinated by the American Bar Association and is part of their COVID-19 Webinar Series. This particular webinar concerns the “current and foreseeable implications of the COVID-19 pandemic has on the African American Community.” Specific topics include:

  • Healthcare (testing site availability, health insurance assistance, health disparities)
  • Economic Security (minority small business relief)
  • Voting (voter turnout, accessibility)

Watch the free recording here: American Bar Association – Implications of COVID-19

Solidarity Convos: Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders for Black Lives

This free webinar is just one of Act to Change’s many panel videos that cover hard topics that must be discussed to move forward in a modern and safe society. It’s also worth noting that actively encourage live participation in their recordings. Specific topics include:

  • Solidarity (especially the need for it between communities of color)
  • Accessible People of Color (privilege and perspective)
  • Change (what can be done for the next generation, now)
  • Inclusion (in this moment & going forward)

Watch the free recording here: Act to Change – Solidarity Convos

The Black Lives Matter Movement and Your Organization

This free webinar by Paylocity covers Black Lives Matter in the workplace using real examples of what employees (and consumers) expect from businesses. Specific topics include:

  • Employee Expectations (common questions & best responses)
  • Support in the Workplace (how to encourage employees)
  • How Businesses Can Lead (and why you should)
  • The Danger of Silence (how it can translate to acceptance)
  • Inherent Bias (the hiring process, inclusion & diversity)

Watch the free recording here: Paylocity – The Movement and Your Organization

“Do Black Lives Matter in Europe?”

This free webinar is presented by the Council for European Studies to discuss the protests and reactions to Black Lives Matter happening beyond North America. Specific topics include:

  • Racism & Anti-Racist Struggles in Europe (especially amid present dynamics)
  • Global Connections to Black Lives Matter (why it transcends the U.S.)
  • Protests Amid the Pandemic (how we make sense of it)

Watch the free recording here: Council for European Studies – Black Lives Matter

Have a valuable webinar of your own to share? Link it in the comments below!

Careers in a Post-Pandemic World: Should You Seek Essential Jobs?

Summer is here, and so is COVID-19 (still). In a month where we’d normally be distracted by fireworks and cookouts, it suddenly isn’t uncommon to read about massive layoffs, learn that another colleague has just been let go, or even receive a flyer that a favorite local business has permanently closed its doors.

The only thing that seems reliable these days are essential jobs — but what is “essential,” anyway?

ES·SEN·TIAL, first used as a noun in the 15th century, is described by Merriam-Webster as being both “basic” and “necessary.” In February, it might’ve been described as a skilled job that required education or experience to fill. Today, it very clearly means a role that keeps society running (i.e., healthcare workers, grocers, delivery drivers, cashiers, food servers, etc.).

For public relations professionals, that means finding a business or personality to represent that is considered essential (as known by the latter description). And while influencers and celebrities alike are sticking to safety guidelines and quarantining themselves away, that leaves essential businesses as your next bet at a job opportunity.

Anywhere that essential workers are operating generally falls under that essential business umbrella: restaurant chains with delivery or drive-thrus; supermarkets deemed too important to close; retailers with essential goods we couldn’t safely (or humanely) get by without.

Got a few brands in mind? Not so fast — “essential,” after all, doesn’t mean “safe.”

The Advantages

Maybe the essential employers thriving during the pandemic are businesses you’ve never considered before. But don’t dismiss them just because they’ll cause confusion on your resume — future employers will understand why you represented a grocery store during a pandemic. Plus, there’ll be some skills you can learn or grow that’ll move with you when the chance arises to get back into your preferred industry.

Here are a few easy reasons to look up an essential business’ career website:

  • Essential businesses are likely hiring, or at least one of the many not drastically downsizing.
  • An essential business is one of the few locations (both legally and naturally) that consumers are very carefully spending their cash right now.
  • PR jobs could especially be in demand, especially as COVID-19 continues to fall under the high-paced “crisis communications” category.

The Disadvantages

Especially if you’re new to the job market or just had a long-term role eliminated from underneath you, essential businesses may look like a safe harbor in the storm. But before you hop aboard, consider the bigger picture.

Here are a couple of cons to essential jobs that could cause a wrinkle in your plans:

  • Because they’re getting extra business, an essential employer may only be hiring for temporary or freelance roles that could be cancelled at a moment’s notice.
  • Since they’re one of the few hiring and the job market has turned on its head in favor of the employer, they may low-ball you on pay.
  • If they’re essential, they may have special permissions to work around specific safety measures — and possibly put you at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Check out the business’ corporate website (which is where you, as a PR pro, will probably be working) and identify their values. Do they align with yours? Could you see yourself working for them long after the pandemic, or will you trade job satisfaction for job security?

Don’t put yourself in a bad situation out of fear, or pride.

Have something to share about essential employment? Put your thoughts in the comments below!

We’re Over the Rainbow (Logo): 3 Other Things Your Company Should Do to Show Their Pride

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is an American right in 2015, rainbows and ally badges have been steadily making their way into the corporate landscape. Today, it’s not uncommon to see a LinkedIn feed full of colorful company logos that marketing teams schedule to hit on June 1, the start of Pride Month.

Although representation remains incredibly important in such public spaces, there is something a little shallow about dozens of companies who may not otherwise advocate for the LGBTQ+ beyond the rainbow logo. In fact, some have even taken to calling it “rainbow-washing,” which Wired’s Justice Namaste defined in a 2018 interview:

“Rainbow-washing allows people, governments, and corporations that don’t do tangible work to support LGBTQ+ communities at any other time during the year to slap a rainbow on top of something in the month of June and call it allyship.”

As the PR professional representing those relations with the public, we’ve compiled a simple list of things you can do to help your company more genuinely follow-through on their promise to the community when they incorporate rainbows this month.

1. Create an Internal Pride Committee

If your company really doesn’t know where to start, remove the pressure and start by looking to your staff. Do you have LGBTQ+ folks working at your organization who feel comfortable sharing ideas to make the workplace more inclusive? Or worse, have they already submitted some ideas, but were left unheard?

This is your chance to create a real space for pride within your company all year long, not just during June.

2. Show Up at Your Community’s Pride Celebrations

While the fight to keep LGBTQ+ rights is still very real, plenty of Pride events take place all over the U.S. in celebration of how far acceptance has come. Even if your company is not based in a large city, your community probably has some sort of non-profit organization or city committee that hosts a parade each year. Consider pitching participation to your employer and inviting employees out to enjoy the event under the company’s registration.

If you don’t have the large staff or budget to attend community events, consider offering a discount for those organizations that arrange them. It is Pride Month, after all.

3. Share the Importance of Pride with Staff

Maybe your company is so unsure of where they fit into Pride that they don’t even do the rainbow logo during June. As the PR pro, it’s up to you to start those conversations, and there’s nothing wrong with simply starting with your staff.

Consider creating a Pride newsletter full of historical facts that you can share, or working with your graphics team to publish a temporary internal webpage on a staff-exclusive communications site. This can help your business be more inclusive for their people, and possibly for the community as an ally in the future.

Has your company gone above and beyond in support of Pride? Share in the comments below!

So Your Internship was Canceled: 5 Steps to Still Make Your Summer a Success

Though summer is usually a time of smiles and sunshine, this year it marks a bittersweet start to a long and empty season for many students.

As of May, Glassdoor reported a 52 percent drop in internships after the coronavirus caused citizens to stay home and non-essential businesses to close up shop. And while the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that 29 percent of internships did manage to move online, the rest have either been postponed or dissolved.

If you’re facing the latter, don’t despair. There are plenty of actionable steps you can still take to advance your career this summer. In fact, we’ve outlined five below that you can start today.

1. Go Remote

Virtual internships have been around since webcams started appearing in laptops, and they’ve only grown in popularity as 4K smartphone cameras emerged with free video-sharing apps. To find one yourself, try searching for “virtual internship” (or “remote internship”) on popular job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn.

Of course, there are also internship websites that only post remote opportunities such as Virtual Internships, or more general internship listing sites that have a remote section like Internships.com.

2. Volunteer

So maybe you couldn’t score a remote internship, or simply know from your own experience with online classes that a virtual setting is just something you do not want to sign up for. If you’re committed to an in-person experience, we have some good news. Most states are beginning to reopen, and while some vital COVID-19 safety measures are still in effect (cloth masks, six feet social distancing), this could be your chance to volunteer on-site for the summer.

Volunteer recruiting websites like Just Serve and Volunteer Match have a number of opportunities that ask for help with everything from office tasks to gardening needs. This could be your chance to not only get some hands-on experience that aligns with your major, but also meet some community contacts who’d be happy to write a strong reference letter for you next year.

3. Start a New Project

If a remote internship or volunteer match doesn’t sound ideal, why not get started on a new project for your portfolio? A completed project would make a good conversation piece for a future internship (and job) interview, especially as coronavirus-related questions are expected to pop up for the foreseeable future. What could be better for sharing your initiative than a creative summer project you researched, crafted and published from start to finish during the pandemic?

If a project makes sense for you, start by identifying what would benefit you most if added to the old portfolio. Are you missing a particular skill set that a project could help you work on and show off? Is there a class you just finished that had an assignment you’d like to build out more? Whatever you create, make sure you put the finished project in your portfolio so future employers can find it easily.

4. Update Your Resume

Depending on when you last interviewed, your once-polished resume may be a few months out of date. Take another look and consider adding any new skills or experience you’ve gained since. Courses you may have recently completed in your last semester could also be worth mentioning, especially if you can tack a project onto it (that should link to your portfolio, too).

As you update your resume, it may be worth reviewing some basic formatting tips. Indeed has some great tips and examples for college resumes, and Resume Coach even has a free Resume Template.

5. Join a Membership Organization

Lastly, if you do nothing else this summer, join an organization related to your major. We specify membership organizations because they typically offer major resources exclusive to members. Typical memberships come with access to job boards, newsletters with industry news, structured online learning and a membership directory. For students, it’s the ultimate motherload of industry know-how and contact information for networking.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a PR/Comms major, and we can’t recommend the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) enough. It has more than 300 chapters throughout the U.S., so it’s likely there’s a local chapter for you to join and rub elbows with the industry leaders in your community. Plus, you’ll get access to the PRSSA Internship Center and the PRSA Job Center.

And there you have it, five things you can do to still make your summer a success.

Found something even better? Share in the comments below!