Member Spotlight: Jon Kovach Jr.

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Name: Jon Kovach Jr.
Position/Company: Manager of Innovation
Location: Heber City, Utah
Education: Communication & Business, Utah Valley University
Social Media Handle: @jonkovachjr

How and when did you first become interested in PR and communications?
While earning my associates degree in business at the LDS Business College in Salt Lake City, UT, a two-year trade school, I took a class entitled “Business Communications” where I learned the essential tools for strategic messaging. While in the class, we were challenged to send a letter of request to our supervisors and to generate feedback. Applying all that I had learned from class and from the text book, I crafted a message asking for a raise and generating a leadership position promotion for myself. I was granted the job and the raise upon my request. It was then I discovered my passion for business communication and it was both several instructors of mine who insisted I study public relations.

How did you find internships/jobs?
During my undergrad, I completed 5 internships with several national and international brands including: Cotopaxi (an online, outdoor retailer), Coldwell Banker Commercial Advisors in Salt Lake City, and Spectrum Science Communications in Washington, D.C.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced yet in my career has been taking the leap from one industry of comfort to another new and interesting industry. Though public relations and corporate communication can be virtually equivalent in it’s demands, the adjustments in creativity and strategy have really stretched me as a professional and has challenged me to learn more and more every day.

What has been the most valuable thing you have learned through classes or experience?
The most valuable thing I’ve learned is quality-created relationships is vital to your success. You can pitch ideas all day. You can write up media alerts and construct strategies all day long. But without true, quality relationships brokered through trust, interest and respect, you cannot truly succeed.

What has been the best piece of advice you have received?
The best advice I have receive is to couple your learning between mentor and mentee relationships with the power of a mastermind group or accountability group. I’ve learned that mentors aren’t always going to be the Master Yoda’s in your life. Therefore, learning all that you can from mentor figures, researching their every move, and applying what you learned is only half the effort. You don’t just need a mentor in life. You need a mastermind group to hold you accountable to your goals and to achieve the success inspired to you by your mentors. In the past 12 months and because of the accountability in my mastermind group, I have written a book, pre-launched a podcast, started two businesses, and have climbed the ranks in my profession.

Do you have any advice for future PR pros?
Be curious. Ask lots of questions. Be willing to go out into the world and learn. Develop a habit of researching everything. Become a master Googler. Without natural curiosity and a hunger to learn, you will face the same mundane patterns in your life. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. In order to achieve things, you’ve never done before, you must take action in ways you’ve never done before.

What do you think is the best benefit of PRSA and the New Pros section?
The greatest benefit of PRSA and the New Pros section is the MyPRSA Communities. I love pushing out questions to the general body of professionals in PR throughout the globe in MyPRSA. It is the closest thing to a virtual mastermind for PR pros. I use this discussion board so often because I always get feedback from different people and have wonderful, educated discoveries from those who have experience.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting your career?
If I knew everything then my career wouldn’t be fulfilling. No. Your career is something you need to strive to learn new things every day. I read about a book per week. With each new book and the many discoveries, I find new ways to increase my professionalism and develop stronger relationships.

Tell us a little-known fact about yourself.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 12 years old. It started with helping my mom with a vending machine business. Then I had a lawn care business at age 14. At age 16, I became a local DJ and Master of Ceremonies. Hundreds of events later, I have dabbled in international micro financing. Currently, I own a recreational tackle football league in Utah, a network marketing team through 3-Worx, and a private consulting business for professional development and strategic business planning. I also travel and do public speaking to various groups and organizations. So many things to learn and try so that I can be a better professional in PR and communication.

If you are interested in being featured, or interested in nominating someone to be featured as a part of our #MemberSpotlight, please complete the following form.

 

Member Spotlight: Alex Greer

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Name: Alex Greer
Position/Company: Assistant Account Manager, PR at Rhea + Kaiser
Location: Chicago, IL
Education: B.A. in Advertising, Michigan State University
Social Media Handle: @AlexGreer22

How and when did you first become interested in PR and communications?
Shortly after transferring to Michigan State University, I realized I wanted to combine my writing skills with my passion for social and digital media. I became an advertising major, enrolled in PR classes and got involved with several extracurricular activities across campus. After joining PRSSA, I eventually landed my first internship and began my career in the industry.

How did you find internships/jobs?
There are a ton of great resources online for locating jobs and internships. Sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster are constantly being updated with new opportunities and can be applied to with one click. Organizations like PRSSA and PRSA also provide members with newsletters containing exclusive job leads. Make sure to update your resume and monitor these sources so you don’t miss your next great opportunity!

What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
My first job was working with a client in an industry I had almost no background in, and I was frequently being tasked with writing long-form content pieces. During this time, I asked questions religiously and tried to absorb as much information as I possibly could. While it was certainly stressful at times, I formed productive habits and routines to help manage time, retain information and maximize productivity. Today, I stick to these routines and produce content assignments in no time.

What has been the most valuable thing you have learned through classes or experience?
People notice when you are putting in extra time and effort. Going above and beyond is the quickest way to get to the next level. It may take time, but you’ll eventually reap the benefits.

What has been the best piece of advice you have received?
Like any other industry, mistakes are bound to happen. When you make one, don’t beat yourself up over it. Focus on correcting the mistake and taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Never make the same mistake twice!

Do you have any advice for future PR pros?
Keep an ongoing portfolio of your best writing content. Employers want to hire professionals who write well, so be ready to prove you can with samples from the past.

What do you think is the best benefit of PRSA and the New Pros section?
I think Twitter Chats are the most underrated benefit of our section. We discuss the latest trends in PR, digital media and marketing and provide helpful tips and strategies for growing your career. Twitter Chats also allow you to connect with young professionals across the country in real-time. Join the next chat using #NPPRSA on Twitter!

Is there anything you wish you would have known before becoming a new professional?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Reach out to people who inspire you. Find a mentor at your company or through PRSA. Grow your network and never stop learning. Doing these things from the beginning will benefit you in the long-run.

Name one little-known thing about yourself.
I was the first person to complete the social media program at Central Michigan University.

If you are interested in being featured, or interested in nominating someone to be featured as a part of our #MemberSpotlight, please complete the following form.

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Member Spotlight: Cait Crenshaw

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Name: Cait Crenshaw
Position/Company: Communications Manager at Signature HealthCARE
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: M.A. Communication from University of Louisville
Social Media Handle: @Cait_Crenshaw

How and when did you first become interested in PR and communications?
I changed my mind about my career twice, without ever changing my major. Changing from high school English teacher, I discovered a real love for journalism and storytelling in college. I was hooked. I spent entire weekends in the basement office of our university newspaper. After a few years, I realized it is the storytelling, editing, details, and strategic planning that I love and switched to corporate communications.

How did you find internships/jobs?
My professors were my best resource for internships. I checked our university career center’s listings and department’s listings, too. Actually, one of my professors recommended me for an internship, and that internship led to my current job. I found my full-time job when someone I had previously worked with during an internship emailed me the application. It was a fit!

What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career so far has been when someone, who had power and pull at the organization I worked for at the time, said, “Oh, she can’t do it. That’s not what she does.” I felt deflated for a moment, but the experience taught me an important lesson.

The experience taught me to create growing opportunities for myself. Instead of waiting for an invitation to sit at the table, I flipped my thinking and directly asked for a seat at the table.

What has been the most valuable thing you have learned through classes or experience?
Working hard is important but working smarter and strategically is even better. School only required me to do the work but starting my career has challenged me to work smarter. I start every week with a list. The things that I can automate in Outlook I do.

What has been the best piece of advice you have received?
At the end of my very first internship, my boss gave me an honest evaluation, and I am incredibly thankful for her. I don’t remember any of her compliments or praises, but I do remember her telling me, almost commanding me, “Take more risks.”

Also, it’s not really advice, but here is a favorite of mine, especially when I think about the future of my career. A wise professor in my master’s program at the University of Louisville said, “People work for daily meaning, as well as daily bread.”

Do you have any advice for future PR pros?
Be a sponge and learn. Ever have a meeting where afterwards you google the acronyms they were using? Oh, just me, okay. The point is there are limitless resources to learn at our fingertips. We just have to grab one, learn, and apply it.

Also, your greatest asset is the ability to adapt and communicate at different levels of an organization and with different types of people.

What do you think is the best benefit of PRSA and the New Pros section?
In the New Pros section, I like that I am connected to people who have or are going through the same professional growing pains. There isn’t a time when I login to PRSA and do not learn something new. In an industry that changes so quickly, learning from other pros is a big resource.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting your career?
I wish I would have had a better sense of the things no one wants to talk about, such as salary negotiation and time off. My tendency is to work, work, and work, so the idea of work life balance is very much still in-progress for me.

Tell us a little-known fact about yourself.
My first job was working as a soccer referee at the age of 13.

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If you are interested in being featured, or interested in nominating someone to be featured as a part of our #MemberSpotlight, please complete the following form.

 

Member Spotlight: Meet Rebecca Hansen

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Name:
Rebecca Hansen

Position/Company:
Marketing and Community Relations Lead at Sky Zone Greensboro

Location:
Greensboro, NC

Education:
B.S. Communication, East Carolina University & M.S. Public Relations, Syracuse University

Social Media Handle:
@RebeccaHansenPR


 

What made you interested in PR and communications?

I was involved in a lot of communication-centric activities in high school like morning announcements, forensics (public speaking) and drama. When it came time to apply to universities, I wanted something that would allow me to merge my writing, speaking and design skills all in one.

How did you find internships/jobs?

  • College of Human Ecology at East Carolina University Internship: Saw an online posting with ECU.
  • Semple Solutions Internship (Small PR Firm): Owner came to speak to my PRSSA group.
  • Syracuse Stage Internship: Sought out an entertainment-focused PR internship by utilizing the Newhouse Career Center (Syracuse University).
  • Dassault Falcon Jet Internship: Networked within the company and created a custom internship.
  • Sky Zone Greensboro Job: Looked on Indeed for communication jobs within North Carolina.

What has been the most valuable thing you have learned through classes or experience?

I was skeptical to take a social media class because I thought as a millennial, I knew pretty much everything about Facebook and Twitter, but I took a class at Newhouse (Syracuse University) and learned to deep-dive into analytics and read demographics to benefit a brand.

What has been the best piece of advice you have received?

Read your material out loud so it’s easier to catch typos or awkward-sounding phrases.

Do you have any advice of your own for future PR pros?

Take advantage of any learning opportunity, whether or not you’ll think it’ll help you at the moment. It may benefit you in the future!

What do you think is the best benefit of PRSA and the New Pros section?

The network is incredible! Many seasoned professionals are willing to mentor recent graduates.

Why did you decide to get your Master’s in PR?

There were a few factors that played into my decision to get my Master’s degree. Due to my academic record, I received a scholarship to one of the most prestigious communication schools in the country. Second, I felt like having another degree under my belt would make me stand out from the competition.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before becoming a new professional?

I should have started applying for jobs sooner than I did. Although I didn’t mind moving back with my parents right after graduation, there was a slight competition among my classmates to be the first to find a full-time job.

New Pros Chapter Spotlight: California Capital Chapter

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#MemberMonday has been on a brief hiatus, but we’re back this week with a brand new Chapter of the Month! This month we’re featuring PRSA California Capital’s growing & vibrant New Pros group, led by Erica Brown, Jordyn True Anderson, Jessica Sweeten & Gina Burdi.

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The Edge: Tell us about PRSA California Capital’s New Pros group:

Erica Brown: PRSA California Capital Chapter New Professionals started in 2014 under the leadership of PRSSA Sacramento State recent grads, Erica Brown and Jordyn True Anderson. Since our inception, we’ve hosted several different events such as mixers, trivia nights and more recently a Career Day where we partnered with PRSSA Sacramento State to tour local agencies, companies and media outlets. Our section is lead by committee of four people right now.

TE: How many members do you have?

EB: 14 and growing!

TE: What kind of programming have you put together for New Pros?

EB: Mixers, trivia night, panels discussing emerging trends and hot industry topics, streamed webinars and the inaugural Career Day, which is an agency tour for local students to discover and get an inside glimpse of local agencies.

TE: How does your group fit into the bigger picture of the chapter?

EB: Our section has helped to bridge the gap between PRSSA students who are newly entering the workforce and helping them transition over to the PRSA Chapter. We help our Chapter with a lot of new member recruitment and outreach. We also look to provide fun, energetic and engaging programming for members and a way to intermingle new and seasoned professionals.

TE: What resources do you provide for New Pros?

EB: Connections to local professionals, job postings, networking/learning opportunities, mentorship

TE: What do some of your members see as the benefit of being a part of the bigger New Pros group?

EB: Networking with local professionals, building and expanding their professional network with other local new professional cohorts

TE: How do you engage and recruit New Pros?

EB: We work closely with the local PRSSA Sacramento State chapter to build relationships with these aspiring PR professionals while they are still students. We offer them mentorship opportunities and include and invite them to all of our programming events.

TE: What advice do you have for New Pros for using PRSA to their best advantage?

“Join right after graduation! There’s no better opportunity to network and continue learning than PRSA.” – Erica Brown

“Join either right before you graduate or as soon as you move to a city with a local chapter to get your foot in the door. You make so many connections right off the bat and those connections are strengthened by attending events, being actively engaged and getting involved with the board or a committee. If I didn’t get involved in PRSA when I first moved to Sacramento, I would probably be stuck working an entry-level job doing something that has nothing to do with PR. Our industry thrives on networking and PRSA is the easiest, most efficient way to become a part of the Sacramento PR Network.” – Jessica Sweeten

“Get involved, volunteer at events, or join a committee and make connections. There is so much opportunity to gain valuable skills that you can put on your resume or talk about in a job interview that are all gained by being an active member of PRSA.” – Gina Burdi

TE: What is the best way for New Pros to get involved in the PR community?

“Attend events and meet someone new every time!” – Erica Brown

“Go to events! There’s mixers that are socially based and there’s workshops that are educationally based so whether you are shy and nervous or outgoing and vivacious, there’s an event for you to get your feet wet!” – Jessica Sweeten

“Show up and follow up. If you meet someone at a PRSA event, follow up with them and foster and grow that relationship. Personal connections can really help to pave the way to success.” – Gina Burdi  

For more information on PRSA California Capital’s New Pros Group, check out their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. If you have specific questions about joining PRSA California Capital’s New Pros Group, tweet at Erica, Jessica, Jordyn and Gina.