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

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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!

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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.

Why Mentorship Still Matters

mentorship-npprsa

Many young professionals are not aware of the importance of mentorship to their career advancement. In fact, the concept of mentorship has been around since the concept of a workplace has existed, it’s just that it wasn’t always called that. Centuries ago, this practice was most commonly referred to as an apprenticeship. Apprentices learned to become goldsmiths, bakers, farmers and metal workers through this practice. They depended on the maturity, experience and wisdom of their teachers to gain the skills they needed to become masters of the trade themselves. It’s only in recent history that this method of learning has been called mentorship.

In today’s modern world, mentorship is just as important than ever, if not more. The reason for this is the complex, fast paced and sometimes overwhelming business world we live in. It’s almost impossible to build a solid career and advance in it without learning to apply business practices and recent technologies that would have baffled the mind as recently as a couple of decades ago.

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Mentorship not only benefits the protege, but the mentor as well. While the mentee learns valuable skills and techniques, the mentor can take note of the methods of training that have been proven to work just by observing the progress being made by his or her mentee. This mentor can then pass this on to other mentors, and if careful records are taken, newer and even more efficient methods of training can be established and passed on to other established and would-be mentors. This spells progress for both mentors and mentees.

How Mentorship Leads to Career Advancement. The benefits of mentorship to career advancement cannot be overstated (Click to Tweet!). Young professionals that receive mentoring advance in their careers much faster than those who don’t. There are good reasons for this.

Emotional & Psychological Support. Surely, it’s understandable that when young aspiring professionals enter into a field of expertise there can be stress and anxiety associated with it. When a mentor is available for guidance, the mentee can experience the inner stability of knowing he or she has someone to advise them during times of doubt, frustration and nervousness. When we as human beings are calm and focused, our creativity, perseverance and thinking processes are at their best.

Faster Learning Process. Young professionals that have mentors they can count on do not need to count solely on the knowledge they have learned while in college or other training facilities. They have at their disposal established professionals in their chosen field who have the experience and knowledge they need to quickly advance. This is not to say that the formal training they have received at institutions is not important, because it is. It’s just that nothing can compare with the real-world experiences their mentors already have. Those that have mentors are usually higher achievers, earn more promotions and see more frequent and higher salary increases than those who don’t.

Job Socialization. Although new professionals have been trained through formal educational institutions, internships and other educational involvements, they still have a lot to learn about the organization they are entering into. Having the basic skills to do their appointed job properly is not enough. They need to develop ways to adjust to and fit in with their new professional environment in order to thrive in it.

Importance of Choosing the Right Mentor. Clear communication is crucial for a mentee and mentor relationship to be successful. When a potential mentee considers a potential mentor, they should first make it clear what they hope to gain from this relationship. A clear set of goals should be clearly defined by the mentee. This will start the process of establishing the right mentor and mentee match. If it’s a good match, the mentor will have a lot to offer to help the mentee reach their career goals.

Erika KauffmanErika Kauffman is the General Manager & Executive Vice President at 5W Public Relations. With over a decade of experience in communications and management at 5W PR, Erika is an integral part of the firm’s leadership team and oversees a number of industry practices at the agency.

What skills do young PR pros need?

What skills do young PR pros need-If you want to excel in the PR world, it’s time to think beyond the classroom.

(Uh oh. I can already hear some angry rumblings from my former professors…)

I’ll admit, the skills you learn in your PR classes are vital. They’ve helped me understand strategy, ROI, media relations and much more.

(Phew. Now my next campus visit won’t be so awkward.)

But today’s PR pros need more than the basics. Even if you have a progressive professor teaching integrated PR, there’s still no way you can learn every single new marketing skill in one semester, or even four years.

With the way this PR world is changing, it’s just not humanly possible. To stay competitive in the job market you need to be:

  • Constantly learning.
  • Subscribing to podcasts.
  • Reading blogs daily.
  • Heck, even starting your own blog.

But don’t just take my word for it. To help answer the “What skills do young PR pros need” question, I’ve aggregated tips from some leading industry experts. 

Understand the data @johnsonhui 

As a new PR pro, you’ll be heavily involved in reporting and measurement. But Johnson Hui of Edelman notes the most impressive employees can infer actionable insights from data – instead of just regurgitating numbers.

“PR professionals no longer simply grind data from press clips and media audits,” he says in Edelman’s blog post. “They need to be able to identify valuable data and tell evidence-based stories that can impact business decisions.”

Learn content marketing@GiniDietrich

In her August 2014 post, Gini suggests doing content marketing for yourself to really understand how to use it on the job. Get started with a personal blog on Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger.

I started my own PR blog last year, and the insights I’ve gleaned have been tremendous. I researched and uncovered entirely new social and syndication tools to help my content get found, which, in turn, is used to help my clients amplify their own content.

Bonus tip: If you’re thinking to yourself “I have nothing to write about!” check out another Gini post on generating blog post ideas.

Speak publicly – confidently @RachelAMiller

Sure, digital is an integral part of PR, but that doesn’t mean face-to-face communication is obsolete. Not by a long shot.

Rachel Miller of PR 20|20 notes that public speaking is the number one fear in the U.S. (Yes, number *one* above disgusting spiders or 50-legged silverfish bugs – my arch enemies). But, whether you’re sharing ideas during internal meetings or presenting a Q2 or annual plan to clients, public speaking is a necessity.

To beef up your public speaking skills – and calm those jitters – Rachel suggests finding local speech classes, clubs or even making toasts at family functions like weddings. (Look no further than Michael Scott for this inspiration.)

Look for trends, not just hits @Julia_Sahin 

In her post “10 things young PR pros need to STOP doing to get ahead,” Julia tells young PR pros to look for trends hidden within clients’ stories and industries. It’s easy to find client coverage and call it a day, but the PR pros who find the underlying trends are the PR pros who excel.

“Picking up the patterns and interests of reporters, publications and blogs and identifying opportunities is one of the most valuable skills in the industry,” she says in the post on Muckrack. “Start this practice early and you’ll be a real pro before you know it.”

Understand the media landscape@allenmireles

Despite the ongoing PR changes, one traditional tactic remains integral to the industry: media relations. The third-party credibility is irreplaceable, says Allen.

But today’s media relations looks quite different than media relations 10 years ago. We now have blogger and influencer relations under that media umbrella. To stay updated on the media landscape, you must read, watch and listen to the news. And better yet, get your news from a variety of outlets.

This knowledge will get you far in the interview process and on the job.

PR is a constantly evolving industry.  To get ahead of the pack, you’ll need to make sure these skills (plus those described in the subhead hyperlinks, which I strongly suggest reading) are part of your PR repertoire.

And now, it’s your turn: What must-have PR skills would you add to this list?

Stephanie VermillionStephanie Vermillion is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati. She is the PRSA National New Professionals blog co-chair, and is on the PRSA Cincinnati Leadership Team. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter (@SMVermillion).

Five PR Tips From Taylor Swift

Five PR tips from Taylor Swift

Image from Canva.com

A pop princess may be the last person you’d expect to look up to as a public relations professional, but Taylor Swift is definitely doing something right. Between buzzing up constant media attention, building a loyal fan base, and staying true to her strengths, there’s a lot we can learn from Taylor about being a successful communicator.

She knows her brand. Crossing over to full-fledged pop could have spelled career disaster, but Taylor stayed true to herself by making the switch.

Be like Taylor: Spend time learning the voice of each of your clients and you’ll be able to decide the best ways and places to tell their stories.

She’s a conversationalist. Taylor has crazy follower counts across the board, but she’s not just broadcasting on social. She’s truly interacting with her fans! With so many people talking, it’s hard to actually hear anything these days.

Be like Taylor: Running a brand’s social media? Pull a page from Taylor’s playbook and reply to fans posts, seek out conversations via hashtag searches, and be proactive in your interactions. Use your personal Twitter to build relationships with media. In other words, be social! (Click to Tweet)

She offers the exclusive. Before her latest album dropped last fall, Taylor held secret listening parties across the world with 89 of her biggest fans at each event. Fans were invited to get a first listen to 1989 in Taylor’s very own homes. Hearing the album ahead of time didn’t dull the excitement around the release: these select fans were even more thrilled to see her music finally debut weeks later.

Be like Taylor:  Have a great story brewing? Reach out to one of those contacts you’ve built a relationship with and offer it as an exclusive. Between the 24-hour news cycle and a saturated media market, breaking a story has become just as rare as a Taylor Swift listening party. Working together on an exclusive can benefit both you and your contact. You’ll secure a great coverage hit while your contact gets to lead the media frenzy.

She knows what’s trending and how it aligns with her brand. She uses news angles to her advantage to ensure she’s being talked about. When Tumblr went crazy over the Becky meme, Taylor was spotted the very next week in a “no it’s becky” tee.

Be like Taylor: Consume a variety of media every day so you know what’s hot and how you can be a part of the story.

She shakes it off. At the end of the day, not every relationship, song lyric, or pitch is going to work. Taylor doesn’t stress about the things that don’t fit – she’s able to kick back and poke fun at herself for every faux pas.

Be like Taylor: Take what you learn from every experience and use it to be better the very next day.

We all know Taylor’s talents are countless! What other PR lessons have you learned from Taylor Swift? Share below!

 IMG_0011.JPGChristine Perez is an Account Executive at The S3 Agency, a boutique advertising, social media, and public relations agency in Northern New Jersey. She has a wide array of experience with CPG products on both the agency and client sides. In her free time, she volunteers with a local animal rescue as a communication strategist and pet foster. Tweet with her @ICtine or connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

Why Training for a Half Marathon Will Make You Better at Your Job

Image via Thorpe Triathlon

Image via Thorpe Triathlon

I was skeptical at first, too. Running for anything besides the mall during a scarf sale wasn’t something I previously enjoyed, let alone dedicated my precious free time to. But when someone made a bet that I couldn’t run the entire Great Wall of China Half Marathon, I accepted the challenge and got my butt into gear. And after successfully running two half marathons this year, this is what I’ve found:

Image via Thorpe Triathlon

1)   Distance running improves your time management.

When you work at an agency, you learn very quickly that you only have 18 waking hours in the day (give or take a few). Then, as you attempt to squeeze in time for a 9+ mile run, you begin playing a mental game of “The Price Is Right” and become an expert at estimating how long something will take you, to the minute. Need I explain how useful this will be at work?

2)   It forces you to get creative.

Speaking of time; what do you think you think about when you’re running for 60 minutes? Once you get past the torturous part of training, your breathing regulates and your mind is free to wander towards ideas you may have never pondered before. While I am a big advocate in preserving a life outside of work, this is a time when I say just let your thoughts flow. Maybe a song on your playlist or a billboard you jog past sparks a great idea for a client. Or perhaps during this time away from outside pressures you finally unlock a solution to a problem you’ve been having. Either way, you will discover a way to entertain yourself, and it usually isn’t counting pavement squares.

3)   Patience is a muscle that strengthens with use.

It is widely agreed by experts that you shouldn’t increase your mileage by more than half of a mile per week as to avoid injury. With that in mind, when creating your training schedule you must be deliberate, strategic and realistic in setting your goals. Sound anything like creating a PR plan?

You’ll learn that baby-steps, though small, meaningful steps forward. You’ll more easily acknowledge and accept your limits and find ways to work with them rather than try to hide them. Patience is a virtue that is essentially a public relations job requirement. Because we all know, PR is a marathon not a sprint.

4)   Stress (and desserts) are no longer an issue.

Stress is a simple word that for most people causes a lot of anxiety. However, I find that having pre-designated training times throughout the week lets me easily pour out my frustrations on the pavement, helping transform my anger into focused energy (a great skill for the workplace). In fact, I recommend running angry! You’ll run harder, faster and with more determination. And by the end of it, you will be too exhausted to carry that extra baggage all of the way back home, or to the office.

5)   The rule of inertia.

The rule of inertia: every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion UNLESS an external force is applied.

Newton was spot on with this one. Get up and get moving! Life isn’t a spectator sport. The more active you become outside of work, the more energy you’ll have during work. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. An active free time will be the external force to propel your career to the next level.

6)   It’ll toughen you up.

Everyone almost brags about how PR is “the most stressful” job, but not a lot of discussion is devoted to the emotional toll PR can have on its greener members. You will face rejection. A lot. Rejection during the application process, rejection from the media, rejection from the client… It’s everywhere, and you’ll need to have a strong sense of self in order to thrive in this business. Distance running will both literally and figuratively thicken your skin and force you to develop a mental toughness that will help the no’s in life just roll off of your shoulder.

7)   The importance of quality time with me, myself and I.

During your training you will spend a lot of time by yourself. Sure you might have a running buddy keep you company every so often, but unless you are one of those fitness freaks of nature (you know the ones, having a full conversation while running uphill in 90 degree heat), the majority of the time will be spent silent with only the sound of your thoughts. You will, by mere force and repetition, truly get to know yourself. And as your run farther and faster, succeeding in your goals, you will learn to trust yourself. This is important. When you trust yourself, you believe in yourself, and we all know how essential confidence is in this profession. You won’t be afraid to share that “stupid idea” or second-guess your writing. You have confidence and trust that what you’re doing is your best. And THAT, is everything.

 

Megan Nicole O'Neal headshotMegan O’Neal graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, emphasizing in mass communications. She is currently the PR Coordinator at Marketing Design Group and volunteers with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, freelancing for the public relations department. Connect with her on Twitter @megannenicole.