Maximize Your Career Potential by Managing Up

managing-up

Picture this: you’ve just started a new job, but your new manager isn’t as hands-on as previous supervisors or professors. Instead, you get 30-minutes of one-on-one time with them every other week and—before you can even learn how to use the printer—they expect you to show results. Yikes! Other managers may report into someone that is too hands-on—an entirely different challenge. Whatever your situation may be, learning how to work with your direct supervisor can make or break the early days of your career. The right manager can be your mentor, guide and biggest cheerleader, and it all comes down to how you manage up.

Changing Workplace Dynamics and the Keys to Managing Up
According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials (ages 21 to 38) have overtaken Baby Boomers in the workforce. Did you cringe at the word “millennials”? It’s Ok. I hate that word, too. Younger generations get a bad rep – we are often pegged as needy, entitled, narcissistic, unfocused, lazy – the list goes on. What’s interesting is that we see ourselves as motivated and purpose-driven, trying to make a difference in the world.

Simon Sinek’s video about Millennials in the workforce highlights a key point that unlocks a lot of our problem here: Millennials tend to have difficulty developing meaningful relationships—especially in the workplace. They also tend to be impatient about getting to where they’re going.

The reality, as stated by Sinek, is that the key to managing up is found at the intersection of patience and relationship development.

We’ve all heard the saying, “People leave managers, not companies.” According to Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, “The single biggest decision you make in your job—bigger than all the rest—is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits—nothing.” (Source: Inc.)

But what makes a good manager? In my experience, the best managers are available when you need them, capable of sharing quality feedback, and able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses in others. While it’s easy to demand those of others,  best way to bring these characteristics out in your manager is to portray them yourselves.

Millennial psychology aside, there are some clear ways to “hack” managing up—no matter which kind of manager you have.

The Power of Quick Wins
If you’ve worked at an agency, you’ll be familiar with this concept. This is the first rule of onboarding a new account—deliver quick wins. However you define a “win,” immediately delivering on your promises and showing success can go a long way in getting the right attention from your manager.

This doesn’t only work for new relationships. In fact, this works after every performance review, weekly one-on-one meeting and more. Remind them of why they hired you and remind them that it was a good decision.

How to Ask for Feedback
How many times have you felt criticized or unappreciated at work? In those situations, I would say it’s probably because you were lacking quality feedback. There are hundreds of articles and books about giving and receiving feedback for a reason—it’s the key to every good relationship.

When giving feedback, first make sure they’re open to it. Ideally you would have already established a relationship with your manager so you can go to them with your questions and concerns. If you have a weekly 1:1 with your boss, then it’s easy—that’s your chance to talk about things that are/aren’t working.

If not, then you need to ask. It’s easiest to do that in the context of your work with them. When they come to you with a new project ask if you can discuss your concerns one-on-one. Some helpful phrases to try out:

  • “Would it be helpful to have another perspective?”
  • “Now that I’ve gotten my head around this assignment, can I talk to you about how things are going?
  • “Do you have a minute to discuss ____? I need more clarity from you on [my role, my responsibility, how we are approaching the assignment].

The key with this is to be specific and don’t get personal. If you start making generalizations or start attacking them as an individual, you could put them on the defensive, and lose your chance to be effective.

It’s worth noting that some relationships will not allow for feedback. In those situations, it’s usually a senior executive so empower yourself to do your best to see things from their perspective.

Receiving feedback is simple—all you need to do is ask:

  • “Do you mind providing feedback on this project? I’m interested in getting your thoughts so I can learn and make adjustments next time.”
  • “Did this meet your expectations?”
  • “Am I getting closer to your vision for this project? If not, where should I focus?”

Feedback should be honest (not brutal, but direct) and real-time. If you only get feedback once per year, then you only have one chance per year to improve. If you get generic responses to your questions, follow up: “Tell me more about that.”

How to Discover “Unwritten Rules”
I’m a fan of discovering “unwritten rules” by befriending the gatekeepers—like the receptionist or your boss’s assistant. You should also work to get to know the people that have been at the company longer than you—they will be a tremendous asset to you as you get to know the “way” of a company’s culture. They can also share tips for working with certain individuals (like your manager).

Unwritten doesn’t usually mean secret, so also don’t be afraid to ask. You’re probably not the first person to do so.

Why Personalities Matter in the Workplace
In Meyers-Briggs, I’m an ENTJ. That means I’m extroverted, intuitive, a thinker and judging (i.e., logical and decisive). The better you understand yourself, the better you can help others to understand you. And for someone to truly manage me, they need to understand me—it works the other way, too.

Understanding how your manager processes information is something I’m still learning—my manager internally processes information and needs more time to think before coming back to me with feedback. I, on the other hand, externally process everything—meaning I like to talk it out with you right then and there until we come to a resolution.

Get to know your manager and be curious about how they think. Learn to anticipate their questions based on their priorities. Understand that everyone is different, and it would be unreasonable to assume otherwise.

What it Means to Set Expectations
Understanding what your manager wants from you—and vice versa—comes down to how you communicate expectations. Be clear about what’s expected up front so there are no surprises (or disappointments) down the road. How do you do that? Have a process. First, ask questions and repeat what you’re hearing. Then, put it in writing (e.g., in an email) and get them to agree to it.

Communications for Communicators
Practice what you preach. Sometimes we can be so client-focused that we forget to utilize our own best practices. Try creating your own formal strategy, just as you would with any client, for how you communicate with your manager. Pre-empt their asks by being proactive. If your manager ever has to come to you and ask you for a status report, you’re too late in getting it to them.

Learn to anticipate the questions of your manager: what are they being held accountable for? That’s what they’re going to ask you about. Find a way to let them know the status of what you’re working on so they don’t have to come looking for you.

In closing, managing up is a challenge because managing people is hard. Be patient with yourself and with your manager. Everyone is on a journey and learning at their own pace.

And the key to any management relationship—up or down—is not management, but the relationship. Take your boss out for coffee and get to know her. That relationship will be the key to your success.

Scott ThornburgAbout the Author
Scott W. Thornburg, APR, is an accredited marketing communications leader with nearly a decade of global agency and in-house experience. Passionate about his work, he is known for thoughtful management of complex issues, careful attention to detail and high-impact leadership. Scott has been a strategic communications adviser for top global brands like Oracle, ExxonMobil, Dell, Cirque du Soleil, Hard Rock, Nasdaq, lynda.com (acquired by LinkedIn) and more. He now works as a senior public relations manager for Sojern, a travel marketing and advertising technology company. He’s a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi (2010), with a degree in journalism, and an emphasis in public relations. Scott is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and serves on the organization’s national board.

We <3 Being New Pros

We LovePRSA New Pros

New Pro (n)  /n(y)o͞o – prō/

  1. A public relations practitioner with five years of professional experience or less, possibly a student, aspiring PR pro or one who has recently made a career transition to public relations;
  2. A member of PRSA’s New Professionals Section;
  3. A cause for celebration!

Being new pro is an adventure in itself; full of new experiences, people and opportunities. Being a part of PRSA’s New Professionals Section amplifies all of those experiences by giving members a community in which to share their experiences, connect with other like-members and learn from each other. To kick off New Pros Week, we’re sharing some of our favorite things about being a new pro.

“Being a part of the PRSA New Professionals section has provided a network of like-minded professionals right out of college that not only allow me to tap into when I am seeking advice and best practices, but also allows me to share efforts from my local community that might save other new pros from having to recreate the wheel. In addition, this group has also provided friends that I would have otherwise never had the opportunity of meeting. The best of both worlds!” – Greg Rokisky

“The New Professionals Section has given me a sense of belonging within the PRSA organization. My favorite benefit is the opportunity I have to build relationships and to work with other professionals from diverse backgrounds, many of whom I can call friends.” – Henry Cervera Nique

“I love being part of PRSA New Pros Section for the networking and mentorship opportunities I receive. Two years into the working world, I’m still learning tons more about my specific work each day. I rely on several experienced mentors from my PRSA network who help me apply past experiences to new projects, set goals and understand the larger landscape around communications and marketing.”  – Brian Price

“After you get past the initial excitement of not having homework, I think the best part about being a new pro is going through the journey of your young 20’s. While it can be challenging, being fully independent for the first time is also very exciting. And the post-college social life is great. Happy hour to catch up with fellow new pros after a long day of hard work is the best!” – Heather Harder

“Two things to love about being a new pro: Connecting with fellow professionals across the country to learn about how to strengthen my career and taking advantage of all sorts of resources to help achieve my professional goals.” – Simon Oh

“I love being a member of PRSA New Professionals! For me, the best benefit is the spirit of mentorship within the section. We not only have the opportunity to connect with accomplished, established mentors, but we benefit from the collaborative leadership of our fellow members. Our members bring fresh perspectives to the practice of PR and communications.  We ask questions, we share our ideas, and we combine forces to advance our individual careers and the shape of PR as it evolves as a profession.” – Alyssa Stafford

“Being a part of the New Pros section has helped to make me feel like I belong within the larger PRSA organization and given me the confidence to take on a larger role in my job, in my chapter and in the section itself. Being new at something or somewhere is uncertain enough and being a part of the New Pros section helps to ease the transition from graduating, moving and changing jobs by knowing that there are other people experiencing the same things.” – Robyn Rudish-Laning

“My favorite thing about being a PRSA new pro is having a larger society full of senior, mid-level and junior professionals who are all open to connecting and giving you advice as a new professional. As I’ve progressed in my career it’s also been really rewarding to stay connected with PRSSA through the society!” – Jessica Noonan

“Getting involved in PRSA’s New Professionals section has allowed me to connect with PR pros in other industries and across the country. My favorite part about being a member is bouncing ideas off other PR pros at the same level I am (otherwise difficult if your workplace or city is small), mentorship from seasoned pros who value my involvement with PRSA, and a community that shares my passion for public relations.” – Hanna Porterfield

“I love being a new professional because I feel I have more time to truly figure out what I want to do before I settle in more. I have a lot of new opportunities with new teams and groups, and have been able to branch out more. Being a part of PRSA New Pros has allowed me to continue and strengthen the friendships and connections I made while in PRSSA.” – Lauren Gray

“When you’re just starting out in your first job, your team doesn’t know you. They don’t know your work ethic, your leadership style, etc. So naturally, they aren’t going to give you a whole lot of leadership roles until they know they can trust you. This is true no matter if you’re an intern or an entry-level employee. But for a lot of people who were active leaders in college, (shout out to PRSSA!) this can be disappointing, maybe even frustrating. You’re so ready to make your mark and show them what you’ve got! Being a member of New Pros has provided me with opportunities to lead outside of my office. I’ve been able to further my leadership development through the section so that now, when I have the trust of my co-workers, I can be a better leader in the office and take on those leadership roles I aspire to.” – Jenna Mosley

“PRSA New Pros provides a strong support system when challenges arise. I’m grateful to be a member of this group because I know I can rely on experienced professionals for guidance in tough situations.” – Seth Kingdon

“My favorite part of being a new pro is the ability to experiment, to take risks, to explore, to discover new things. As new pros—as young people—we have that ability to change what we’re doing very rapidly without much consequence. To take a new career path, to try a different industry, to try corporate and then agency, followed by you name it.” – Ben Butler

Book Preview: “Public Relations for the Public Good: How PR has shaped America’s social movements”

public relations

Editor’s note: The below Q&A with Shelley Spector previews her forthcoming book, available in August. 

You have a forthcoming book coming out this summer, “Public Relations for the Public Good: How PR has shaped America’s social movements.” Could you provide a synopsis?

The book (co-authored with Lou Capozzi) explores how public relations activities have been used to make social movements more successful.  While they were not called “PR” at the time, nor did they involve “professional” PR people, these historical milestones were, nevertheless, powered by people who understood public opinion and how to influence it. So there’s a lot to be learned about strategy, messaging, impacting attitudes, and measuring one’s impact.

The topics in the book include a wide range of topics spanning the 20th century: including, the Triangle Shirt Waist factory fire, the Harlem Renaissance, anti-smoking campaigns and civil rights campaigns.  To me, the most exciting thing about the book is that my students wrote most of the chapters.  This was for the class I teach at Baruch College/CUNY:  “From Plato to Twitter: A History of Influence, Media and Public Opinion.”   It’s exciting that our students have a chance to be published!

IMG_0609What inspired you to write the book?

While I find PR history fascinating, I find PR in history even more fascinating. When you look at historical events through the lens of PR, it often reveals PR in its purest sense. With social media dominating much of the workday of PR people, it’s important that young professionals understood that the Internet is just a channel, just like TV, film, word-of-mouth, carrier pigeons, pony express and cave drawings. It’s the message that counts, not the medium.

IMG_0611You’re also the founder of the Museum of Public Relations. How did the museum begin and what is your favorite artifact or resource within it?

The museum was the brainchild of Edward Bernays. What a wonderful way to preserve historical documents, books and artifacts that tell the story of our field. The first collection we received was from Bernays himself: two dozen first-edition books from his library, artifacts from the Light’s Golden Jubilee, original newsletters published by his wife and business partner, Doris Fleischman. 

I have a few favorites: The 1966 press release announcing the formation of the National Organization of Women (N.O.W.) with Muriel Fox and Betty Freidan as contacts. The issues of magazines from the 1930s that explore the burgeoning new PR field. The photographs of civil rights marches in the 1960s and collection of anti-slavery literature from a century before. And, of course, Bernays’s inbox.

FullSizeRender_1And what are some other examples of early public relations throughout history?

Every PR student learns about Bernays’s campaign to promote bacon and eggs, or Ivy Lee’s counsel to the Rockefellers.  Some of the best campaigns, though, are ones that are not mentioned in the textbooks. You can find wonderful examples of modern PR at work throughout the 20th century. Take for example, the campaign to raise public awareness for the polio vaccine; the “Meatless Tuesdays” program during World War II; the campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; and the promotion of the Works Progress Administration during the Depression.  Some of the best “PR” programs may not be called “PR” but are every bit as much “PR” as Bernays’s campaign to boost sales for Ivory Soap.

You are an adjunct professor at Baruch College as well as president of Spector & Associates, working with aspiring PR pros every day. What is your go-to piece of advice for new professionals in the public relations industry?

Get as much “real world” experience while you’re in school or immediately after graduation. You want to be able to walk into your first job interviews with an impressive portfolio of work that displays, not only your “PR” skills, but your professionalism, creativity and drive. That may mean taking on internships (whether paid or unpaid) whenever and wherever you can.  We see young professionals apply here who already have four of five internships under their belts. This shows us that he or she is truly serious about making a career in this field, and already has the required skills so they can hit the ground running from Day One… One other suggestion, equally as important:  Become familiar with the organization before you even send your resume in. Chances are, you’ll be asked, “So why do want to work here?” “What attracted you to us?”  You’d be shocked to see how many have no idea beyond, “I saw your post on Indeed.”  The more time you spend researching the company the better that interview is going to be.

 Any additional information you’d like to share about the Museum of Public Relations?(I’ll include a note about how it’s open to the public by appointment, link to website, etc.)

The museum has a very active online presence, with 90k views on our website and 6,800 followers on the Facebook page, representing some 60 countries from every corner of the world. We have hosted a dozen classes so far this year, some over Skype.  We also host events for organizations, such as PRSA and the Plank Center, as well as give tours for PR agencies, such as Burson Marsteller, Weber Shandwick and Ketchum.  Scholars come from all over the world to do research here, as it is the largest and most complete repository of books and materials documenting the history of the field.

Editor’s note: The Museum of Public Relations is free and open to the public by appointment.

Any other book recommendations or “must reads” for PR professionals?

I would recommend the writings by Bernays and Lee (you can find them through our Facebook page).  Although their work was written nearly a century ago, Bernays and Lee remain the top writers of our practice. Their writings are as relevant today as ever.  

I would also urge everyone who aspires to succeed in this field to read the New York Times every day.  Keeping up with the news is essential in this business.

shellyShelley Spector is the president of Spector & Associates. She has counseled some of the world’s largest defense, technology and communications companies — from Exelis and ITT to HP and AT&T — and has won more than four dozen awards, including the Silver Anvil and Gold SABRE.  Prior to founding Spector & Associates in 1991, Spector worked at Hill & Knowlton and  RuderFinn, and served as press relations manager for the American Stock Exchange. She is an adjunct professor at the graduate level at NYU and Baruch College/CUNY.  Spector is also founder of the Museum of Public Relations. Spector earned a B.A. Journalism at the University of Rhode Island and an M.S. at the Newhouse School, Syracuse University.

You Can’t Just “Tap” Into Influencers

Influencer marketing seems to be the latest buzzword over the last few years and platforms like Klout, Get Little Bird and Traackr have dominated this space when it comes to identifying influencers within specific markets.

At W2O Group, we have proprietary methodology that combines quantitative scoring and human intelligence to identify the top 1% of influencers (in a specific category, topic, geography, language) that actually move the market when they speak.

Before diving into influencers you must first understand the market and how it’s shaped. (Click to Tweet!)

Influencer MarketingWe look at the market through the lens of the 1:9:90 audience framework. We didn’t create this model but we have perfected it over the last 7 years in activating programs and the model has proven to be true regardless of what vertical or industry you work in.

The “1%” drive the market based on their actions – what they write/tweet about or what they say at events and interviews. They are influencers and are seen as subject matter experts for a specific topic.  Our algorithms show that there are never more than 50 people who drive the majority of share of conversation for a brand or a topic in a given country or language.

The “9%” are highly active online. They recommend, share, sign up, download, comment and other actions that let their community of peers know what they think about certain topics. In many respects, this group serves as the “trust filter” for the rest of the market.

The “90%” are the great majority of any market. They lurk and learn. This group is satisfied with using search for discovering new products or consuming the content of their peers. They decide how compelling the 1% and the 9% really are in telling your brand’s story based on their purchase behavior.

In the upcoming PRSA webinar, I will go deep in explaining how we arrive at identifying the 1% of influencers; and then provide very actionable examples of how you can activate those influencers across paid, earned, shared and owned media channels.

 —

Michael Brito Michael Brito leads social strategy for the W2O Group – an analytics driven marketing and communications firm. He is also an Adjunct Professor at San Jose State University and author of “Your Brand, The Next Media Company”.  You can connect with him directly on Twitter and LinkedIn

Three Alternative Methods for Identifying the Right Media Contact

As new PR pros, you’ve likely sat through a webinar or listened to some sort of training for PR software and services such as Cision or Vocus.

Three Alternative Methods for Identifying the Right Media Contact While an extremely useful tool for building media lists and identifying media contacts to reach out to with the awesome story you have to tell, don’t fall into the trap of letting these portals be the be-all and end-all of how you determine who you’re going to pitch or share your news release with.

As an entry-level PR pro at my first job right out of college, I was asked to build a list of media contacts that might be interested in sharing details of the large-scale art installations at an upcoming music festival. Of course, my list included the likes of the local weekly alternative publications and those already who had shown an interest in the music festival.

But it also included Rolling Stone, and Forbes.

My supervisor – and mentor to this day – immediately questioned me on this. Why would Rolling Stone, let alone Forbes, write about a collection of art installations? That doesn’t exactly fall into their realm of the publications’ typical coverage topics.

But I stood my ground because I knew I had done my research. Sure enough, Rolling Stone was the first-ever national placement of my career on the art installations of an electronic dance music festival.

What’s the lesson here? I didn’t use Cision to find these contacts.

Here are three alternative methods for identifying the right media contact for your pitch or news release:

Use the outlet’s search function.

Admittedly, this is easier when you know what outlet you’re hoping to see your client’s story featured. For example, you know you have an excellent finance story.

Head to Fortune.com (or whatever outlet you’ve identified) and search for topics similar to your client. Is the pitch on the state of the economy? On an innovative payment system? Search using these terms to identify who has covered this type of story for the outlet in the past and go from there.

Take to Twitter.

More times than not, you will find a reporter using the method above and find that their email address is as elusive as the golden snitch. This is where social media can be an excellent tool to identify a media contact’s info.

A simple tweet to the journalist giving them a quick synopsis that you want to reach out to them with a story idea and a request to have them DM you their email address can work magical wonders.

Additionally, consider using Twitter to cross-check that the journalist is the right fit. Often times, you’ll find that their designated beat / what they cover is referenced in their Twitter bio.

Ask another reporter. 

Read: this is not to say email or call a random reporter and ask them who you should pitch.

Rather, this is a recommendation to never take no for an answer. As part of pitching or sending a news release, there’s the follow-up phone call. If a reporter turns you down, don’t let that be the final word. Ask them, “Do you think this might a better fit for someone else at the outlet?”

Remember that the person on the other end of the phone is in fact a person. They are likely willing to help you and point you in the right direction.

And if not, the worst they can tell you is no.

These are just a few tried and true methods I’ve found to be helpful when Cision or Vocus just doesn’t have the answers you’re looking for. Do you have another tool or route you’ve taken to find a media contact? I’d love to hear it! Share with me on Twitter at @shandihuber.

Shandi HuberShandi Huber is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati, Ohio. An enthusiast for all social media platforms, you can often find her pinning her dream closet on Pinterest or posting photos of her new puppy on Instagram. Connect with Shandi on LinkedIn and Twitter(@shandihuber).