“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

 

“Development, Reflection and Union” from a New Pro

In these uncertain times, we should support each other. This current situation we find ourselves faced with has forced us to change our way of thinking. While for some of us this change was big, it was not so for others. Even so, it may yet affect your future. I personally believe there are three main factors that are essential to consider if it does: development, reflection and union.

In this post, I will analyze each of these separately so that you may call upon them as we all navigate the unique challenges our new normal creates.

  1. Development

Using the time that we previously did not have, or simply could not use efficiently, is currently possible as interactions turn virtual and work becomes remote. Being able to learn new things through online courses, webinars, reading or really any type of education is something very beneficial with the additional time you may suddenly have on your hands.

As a Public Relations professional, your career may concern many high-stress, quickly changing and even competitive elements. We should take advantage of every learning tool we can to develop our skills during these times of quiet to make a difference in our field when things inevitably speed back up.

  1. Reflection

Regardless of how we use our time, there is something we’ve been given in this situation: a pause.

This pause can be long or short depending on the situation. In my opinion, this is the ideal time to reflect. Try to perceive those things that maybe you didn’t see before.

As you reflect, it’s inevitable that one of those thoughts will be about your health. Indeed, health is the most important thing; it’s essential. In regards to this, I believe that we — as communicators — should use our talents to help represent the essential things in life, rather than the superficial. That we should go beyond what people expect from us, and rise above the typical.

More than anything, reflect on the priorities in your own life. Consider what really matters.

  1. Union

Thirdly, there must be union. Teamwork. Collaboration.

Is it easy? No. And yet teamwork is what solves most of our problems. Consider your own relationships, especially during this particular crisis. You’ve probably had to become very flexible, and maybe pitch — or listen to — more unconventional ideas while trying to navigate the unprecedented restraints we all find ourselves under.

In my opinion, your attitude is the best solution. And by the time this whole crisis is over, it’ll continue to be. Because in the end, an inclusive behavior toward others is always the best solution.

To conclude, I believe that we should remember that self-development, a little reflection on life and some good old fashioned teamwork are three essential aspects to consider — today, and in the future.

Do you agree? Comment below or connect on LinkedIn to share your thoughts.

Facundo Luque is a Young PR Professional from PRSA Argentina on the Communications Sub-Committee in the PRSA Diversity & Inclusion National Committee. He is currently working in an Argentinean public relations agency.

LinkedIn: Facundo Luque

3 International Communications Lessons from a New Pro

Somehow, I was blessed to secure a global marketing communications role right out of college (okay, I worked at Panera for a few months beforehand, but, hey, it worked out). After being immersed in the literal world of communications for a few years, here are three things I learned as an international communicator.

  1. Non-traditional hours: the good and the bad

Whether it’s a call with China at 9pm (your time) or a 4am webinar with the Netherlands, some days and weeks will bring the strangest hours you’ve ever worked. There are plenty of pros to this weirdness, namely the excitement and flexibility that come with a non-traditional schedule. Working the nine to five grind can get repetitive; it’s nice to shake things up a little. Plus there’s a satisfying sense of intrigue when you can say you started the day by meeting with Europe. But be warned: while you may feel like 007 when you’re first starting out, you may also learn just how unrealistic Mr. Bond’s lifestyle is.

The obvious downers to odd hours include irregular sleep schedules, meetings at odd times, and a general lack of routine. The less obvious involve the quality and quantity of your work – tiredness and an unstable schedule can easily affect your productivity.

In addition to how you handle a non-traditional work schedule, be wary of your employers’ approach. Make sure any odd hours you log taking calls or traveling are accounted for as what they are – work time. If you’re putting in 40 hours at the office AND taking early morning calls or flying 20 hours in the same week, you might want to reevaluate your company’s culture around work-life balance. Having an international work schedule is fun and fine as long as it doesn’t quietly take over your personal time.

  1. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is here (and kind of a good idea)

Personal time is important, and so is personal information. That’s why the GDPR exists and came to be fully enforced last year. In case you aren’t familiar, the basic premise of GDPR requires a new level of transparency and consent for marketers using consumer data. For example, if a customer registers for a newsletter by submitting their email, GDPR mandates the email address can only be used to send the newsletter. Unless the consumer explicitly opts into other communications, their information can’t be used for other tactics. Many companies in the US have already adopted this trend of opting-in, but this has been an optional courtesy rather than a legal requirement.

You’re probably wondering: how could a policy that cuts communications be good for marketers? In my opinion, these regulations lead to a better understanding of our audiences. By requiring consent, the ball is placed in the audience’s court. A GDPR set-up could make consumers more transparent because an audience’s decision to opt in or out of certain communications could say more than vague email open rates or website impressions. Plus, marketers operating under these types of policies might be forced to think more outside the box to reach their targets, and innovation is never a bad thing.

Even if you don’t agree about these possible positives, I learned there’s a real potential for more consumer-focused restrictions like GDPR to come into play, worldwide. It’s an important topic for new pros to be aware of as we enter the workforce and adapt our educations to the real world.

  1. Listening + asking questions = the secret sauce for international comm’s success

In my experience, American marketers move fast and feel they must be on the “cutting edge” 24/7. The success and adaptability our country’s communicators may lead you to believe Americans are fairly middle-of-the-road on a global scale, meaning we can work with foreign teams without much difficulty. This is only partially true at best.

I know from experience. My limited international experience and the company’s English-only policy resulted in my underestimation the effect cultural barriers can have on your communication skills. For example, I learned:

  • Just because some countries seem similar, doesn’t mean they are. Our colleagues in Italy and Spain stressed extremely different pain points after we introduced a global campaign to each office. Only after meeting with them one-on-one and taking the time to listen did we understand we couldn’t put Europe into a single bucket when developing a strategy.
  • “Cutting edge” is a fluid, global adjective. When our Thai colleagues shared a “cutting edge” social media strategy involving anime cartoon characters and egg-related recipes, my boss and I ended the call worried about the effect these tactics would have on our global campaign. After another call to question them, the Thai office graciously shared some amazing social engagement stats. We were floored and immediately learned to put more trust into foreign, “cutting edge” ideas.

I highly recommend The Culture Map by Erin Meyer to anyone interested in a global role – this book contains great data and personal insights as the author paints an experienced picture of how the world communicates.

If you’d like to share any lessons not included in this post, please comment or reach out to me. I always love discussing this topic.

Craig TierneyCraig Tierney is the Content Specialist for Kenzie Academy, an Indianapolis-based coding school + tech apprenticeship startup. He’s also a freelance Content Marketer through his business With It Communications. Craig’s international experience comes from a past role as Global Marketing Communications Specialist in the agricultural industry. Website: https://craigtierney.com/

 

6 Tips For Your First PR Job

A college education in public relations is a fantastic resource, but it can’t cover everything. Here are a few tips as you begin your journey into public relations.

Pitching is everything
If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent time and effort perfecting your content creation and journalism skills. While these can make you a great asset to a team, keep in mind that the house of media relations is built upon a foundation of pitching. Identifying, writing, targeting and sending pitches are often core functions of entry-level PR jobs. Put time into developing your pitching skills— they’re often the clearest way to contribute value to your team. There are great books on the topic — I’m enjoying Ed Zitron’s “This is How You Pitch” right now.

Learn about your clients
In order to identify pitching angles, you need to understand your clients. I like to read anything I can get my hands on about the companies I work with, as this can allow me to see pitching ideas that haven’t occurred to anyone else.

Identify and track competitors
One of the most important nuances to learn about your clients is their competition. This gives you a frame of reference for the type of coverage you can seek and can alert you to journalists who might be interested in news from your clients.

Don’t be boring
Since your clients spend every day embedded deep in their verticals, they depend on you to help convey their ideas to people who may not live in their world. This means it’s crucial to find news within your clients’ larger stories. Journalists are incredibly busy and receive hundreds of emails each day. You’ll want to find a good story angle that is relevant to the writer you’re pitching and articulate your ideas clearly and succinctly.

Google News is your friend
Don’t underestimate Google News just because it’s available to everybody. Advanced monitoring and tracking tools can be great for media relations, but Google News is a great way to get a glimpse of trending topics and coverage based on simple search terms. It’s a great starting point for learning and establishing context.

Set up Google Alerts
When you’re working with clients, it’s important to keep tabs on their mentions and what’s happening in their industry. Google Alerts sends you emails when new items that match your specified keywords are added to Google’s massive index. Setting alerts for your clients’ names or keywords related to that client can help you stay informed. It’s also a good idea to set one up for your name.

Mike IncavoMike Incavo is an account manager and content creator at Houston cybersecurity firm Zintel PR. He attended Baylor University and is a member of the Houston PRSA chapter. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

A Personal Brand: The Key to How New Professionals Rise to Leadership

Having a personal brand is more than just creating a statement, it’s about your professional attitude.

This is one lesson I learned while at PRSA’s New Professionals Summit in New York City in August.

Emily Nichols-Mitchell, CEO of Accelerations Group and a certified executive coach, led an energized and interactive session titled “Create a Powerful Personal Leadership Brand to Gain Instant Credibility.”

Emily gave examples of famous personal brands, such as Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Oprah, explaining how they all have their own story of how they continue to achieve success.

She then asked us to consider what our brand story could be, such as a unique memory we have that inspires us to do what we love, and challenged us to think about how we can continue to edit our brand and use it in our professional careers.

Troy Thompson, who works at PRSA, thought the workshop proved very beneficial for everyone who attended.

“Emily’s branding workshop is ideal for professionals looking to strengthen their online presence,” Troy said. “Her sessions include best practices and examples that provide attendees with a clear road map for packaging themselves to achieve greater career success.”

Key Takeaways:

Improving your personal brand can benefit your job and online presence.
Brian Edmonds, Communications Specialist Associate at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, said, “Before Emily’s workshop, I never really paid close attention to what I wanted my brand to be or how it was being perceived. Afterwards, it was all I could think about. I now find myself considering how anything I do, whether work projects or updating my LinkedIn profile, will enhance or hurt my brand. I believe this attention to detail will be great for my career going forward.”

Ask friends what traits they would use to describe you.
“Your friends help build and personify your brand,” Emily said. She also offered recruiter tips for building an online brand, such as always editing your LinkedIn profile, broadening your network and strategizing your posts on outlets such as LinkedIn.

Everyone needs personal branding, no matter what career stage you are in.
“Employers are not only looking at your resume but how you portray yourself in conversation and online,” Hanna Porterfield, Chair of the PRSA New Professionals Section, said. “In a competitive job market, personal branding can help you stand out and provide the value you bring to a team. All new professionals should consider building a personal brand throughout their career just as they focus on building hard and soft skills within the industry.”

Jordan AppelJordan Appel is a member of PRSA and the PRSA New Professionals Section. He is an Associate at CommunicationsMatch, a New York-based start-up search engine. He is also a graduate of Rowan University. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.