Pros and Cons of the “Always On” PR Culture

Although public relations is exciting and engaging, it ranks as one of the most stressful professions. This unfortunate ranking may be due to the idea (or reality) that public relations is a fast-paced industry where professionals have to be ready to manage a crisis at any hour, with lots to know and learn at all times. To be frank, we’re always on — but is the “always on” culture necessarily a bad thing?

The answer varies. An eager new professional may love being immersed in their work, thinking that the commitment and long hours is what it takes to climb the corporate ladder. From an executive’s point of view, they may deem the long hours inhibiting from personal activities like spending time with loved ones or taking care of their health.

There’s the saying, “When you love what you do, it’ll never feel like work.” Most aspects of public relations are exciting for those who truly love it. When there is passion for the work, it is natural to always be on — in many sectors of public relations, key events happen after “office hours.” Passionate professionals genuinely want to keep up with the latest trends and build relationships with influencers and journalists who cover niche subject matters.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, always being on means there is no clear distinction between work and play. Because public relations professionals often choose to work in a niche industry they enjoy, things that were pleasurable before starting a career can now be incorporated into work projects and as a hook when pitching journalists. But at the end of the day, where is the balance?

For those who find the always on culture to be taxing, there is a solution for more work/life balance. Professionals can limit their working hours to a set amount of hours per week, including the time spent returning emails, working on press releases, and managing budgets. During designated free time, turn on your out of office, do an activity that will help clear your head, attend community events, and spend time with those who mean most to you.

Are there any other work/life balance tips that you practice in the “always on” public relations industry?

i-zthGPGn-XL-230x300 Jasmine L. Kent, a member of PRSA-LA, is a fan of all things food and beverage, pop culture, and media. Combining all three passions, Jasmine builds community through engaging online marketing and dynamic events as a communications professional in Los Angeles, CA. Keep up with her on Twitter at @LoveJasPR or visit 

Redefining the Mentor-Mentee Relationship

When most of us think of a mentor-mentee relationship, images of a seasoned expert offering sage wisdom and experiences to an aspiring pro probably come to mind. We tend to think that a mentor needs to have many years of experience and the mentor-mentee is an exclusive, hard-to-find relationship that helps to guide the mentee’s career.

Some of these assumptions may be partly true, but it’s past time that we redefine our definition of what a mentor-mentee relationship should look like. A mentorship doesn’t typically begin by seeking someone out and asking “Will you be my mentor?” It’s usually a relationship that evolves from a previous connection – a professor, a supervisor, a leader in your PRSA chapter, a friend of your family, etc. – to help guide you through your career.

What we get wrong about a mentor is that it has to be someone with a lot of experience, that we only need one and that a mentor will be able to guide our careers to perfection instantly and without much input from us. A mentor isn’t a fairy godmother for your career anymore than you’re a pumpkin who dreams of being a carriage. Dispelling some of these incorrect notions and understanding a mentorship needs can make you both a fantastic mentee and a phenomenal mentor, no matter where you are in your career.

A good mentee…

… knows his or her goals.

A mentorship is all about guidance and no one can guide you if you don’t know where you want to go. It’s important to at least have a general idea of what your goals are and where you’d like to be, because otherwise, you and your mentor will just keep going in circles with no real benefit.

…asks for what he or she wants.

Are you looking for advice? Assistance making some connections? Help fine-tuning your resume? An “in” to agency life? You have to be able to ask for what you need. A mentor can provide all kinds of help, but only if they know what will benefit you.

…is gracious.

There’s a difference between using someone for his or her connections and building a relationship that you can benefit from. It’s gratitude. Be gracious about any and every bit of assistance and help that your mentor provides. Beyond just saying thank you, you can send a handwritten note, a little gift, anything to show that you appreciate his or her time and help. The best thank you that you can give, though, is to follow through with their advice or introductions and building something better for yourself.

…knows that it takes a village.

There isn’t one person that will be able to help you with all the career questions you’re bound to have. It’s ok, actually essential, to have more than one person to turn to for advice. Having mentors at varying levels of their careers, with different backgrounds and experiences can help you get a better picture of the professional landscape as you navigate it and pave your own way.

…takes the lead.

If you’re seeking a mentor, you’re probably looking for someone currently working, with good experience and active in your professional interests. So they’re probably going to be busy, too. Take the lead by knowing what you want to know, scheduling meeting time ahead of time and meet them where they are. Don’t be afraid to follow up and nudge a bit if your mentor doesn’t respond within a day or two.

A good mentor…

…gets to know his or her mentee.

A mentorship is a relationship just like any other. It takes nurturing and connecting a multiple levels to keep it alive and beneficial. Learn other things about your mentee – interests, hobbies, family, etc. – and build a connection beyond professional interests.

…is available.

It’s understandable that you’re busy, but if you’re committed to being a mentor, you have to make time for it like anything else. It’s important to be available to your mentee, whether that’s by email, phone, Skype, social media or in person. You don’t have to be available 24/7 or at a moment’s notice, but you should have consistent communication with your mentee.

…isn’t afraid to share.

Sharing your mistakes and missteps is just as important as sharing your nuggets of wisdom and best practices. Knowing that everyone makes mistakes in their career and accepting that is an important part of professional development.

…knows age is just a number.

You can be a good mentor at any age and any career level. A mentorship should be focused around learning and growing together. As you progress in your career, you’ll have different experiences and advice to share. New pros can be just as good a mentor for aspiring young professionals as any master practitioner.

…is open to dialogue.

There’s nothing worse than trying to talk to someone who is stuck in their ways and unable to entertain any other viewpoints. No matter where you are in your career, it’s important to keep an open mind to new ideas and methods, no matter how big or small, or who they’re coming from.

The best mentors and mentees know…

…that mentorship is a two-way street.

Like any other relationship, a mentorship should be beneficial for everyone involved. Mentors can learn just as much from their mentees as they can teach them. Investing time in your mentorship, no matter which role you’re fulfilling, is a worthwhile contribution to your professional development.

Robyn Rudish-Laning (1)


Robyn Rudish-Laning is a member of South Carolina’s PRSA chapter and is communications coordinator for the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. Robyn is also a member of the New Professionals executive committee. She is a graduate of Duquesne University and is currently located in Columbia, SC. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter or read her blog here.

Four Ways Giving Back Helps You Grow as a Leader

MY VACATIONLaunching your career isn’t a one-step process. It takes time and strategic planning to really narrow down both your short- and long-term goals. But thinking about these goals isn’t enough. How are you going to get there?

As new professionals, we need to proactively think about how we’re going to land those senior-level executive positions. It’s not going to happen tomorrow but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to take initiative now.

Yes, we’re driven and have aspirations, and we really do want to be leaders. But the important part is for all of us to take steps back and ask ourselves, why? Why do we do public relations, and why do we want to be leaders of the industry? Then, we need to focus our approach on that.

For me, the answer derives in the reason I chose public relations and my biggest motivation in the work that I do: to help people. PR gives me the capability to effect change for the causes and organizations I’m passionate about, so becoming a leader means I’ll have even more knowledge, experience and power to do so.

Looking at my career with that perspective made it easier to narrow down what I could do in addition to my day job to grow professionally while simultaneously making a difference in my community. For me, that’s using my skills to help local nonprofits and community organizations.

The agency I work for, similar to agencies many new professionals work for, works with nonprofits and other community organizations on both a client and pro-bono basis. For me, this includes participating on fundraising and networking committees, directly communicating with donors or members via newsletters and social media, and so much more. By building relationships with these clients and executing campaigns, I’ve noticed firsthand how much these organizations rely on volunteers to achieve their missions, a universal truth for all nonprofits.

As a new professional, you can make a bigger difference than you may suspect for the nonprofits and organizations in your community. In addition to feeling great about doing good work, you’ll:

Expand your network.

As PR professionals, we understand the value of relationships. And while our co-workers become our work families, it’s important to build a network throughout the community beyond the office. Volunteer positions do just that.

It can be intimidating to arrive alone to your first meeting or event, but you need to start somewhere. Before you know it, you’ll no longer feel like you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and want to start volunteering for leadership positions. Also, it’s likely you’ll meet and work with people from different industries and professions, who could then turn into friends and mentors. These relationships can last a lifetime and open the door to new opportunities and shared passions.

Become the expert.

Depending on the organization or people you’re interacting with, you could be the only PR professional in the room. So when a communications-specific question or request is brought up, all eyes turn to you. This doesn’t mean you’re expected to know the answer in a blink of an eye, but you’re expected to be able to figure it out – an important skill as PR professionals are looked to as problem solvers. As an added bonus, you’ll become more comfortable and confident speaking up or learn when to let others do the same in these situations, which can help in all aspects of your career.

Build your resume.

Volunteer-based experiences are often equally as beneficial as on-the-job experiences. Most nonprofits and community organizations run on shoestring budgets, which make successful campaigns extra impressive. The ability to articulate your role in a successful project can speak volumes to your impact and leadership skills. Through volunteering you’ll also get hands-on experience with industries you may not typically be involved with, which can help round you out professionally or let you explore new interests if you’re not super passionate about the PR work you’re doing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Learn new approaches and skills.

You’ll notice there are similar practices utilized among different organizations, but you’ll also pick up on differences. An organization may use a strategy or tool you’ve never explored. Each new skill you learn can enhance your value and help set you apart from peers, vital steps for career growth. And as you gain new skills and ideas, you’ll be able to contribute a different perspective to the meetings you attend – positioning yourself as a leader.

It’s never too early to get involved – whether you’re a college freshman or seasoned professional – take some time to consider how you can give back and become a better leader.

What types of volunteer roles do you have in the community? What are other career benefits you’ve noticed from giving back?

Hannah Leibinger Headshot (1)Hannah Leibinger is an account strategist at Piper & Gold Public Relations, a boutique agency in Lansing, Michigan, that specializes in government, nonprofit and small business public relations. In the Lansing community, she serves as the chair of communications for Grand River Connection, new professionals co-chair for the Central Michigan Chapter of PRSA, social media coordinator for Giving Tuesday Lansing and a member of the Old Town Commercial Association business development committee. Connect with her on Twitter (@hleibinger) and LinkedIn.

Three Ways to Keep on Your Game During the Job Hunt

3Graduation time is here, but what do you do if you haven’t lined up your first full-time job in the field? Don’t panic; you’re not alone. According to, it could take between three and nine months for a new graduate to find employment in his/her industry. Here are some ways to keep your skills sharp while you look for work.

Write. A lot.

Top-notch writing skills are a must in the competitive PR job market. The more often you practice your writing and editing, the more of an advantage you have over other candidates. Start a blog with a free service like WordPress or Blogger and write as often as you can (Tip: Keep the subject matter PG since a potential employer could see it.).

There are several resources online and via social media you can use to answer questions about grammar and style. Check out Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty on Her blog has tons of great tips to turn any writer into a pro. Also, follow The AP Style Book on Twitter. The guide is updated every spring, and it is a good idea to stay on top of the changes.

Utilize PRSA and its resources.

Sure. Maybe it’s a shameless plug, but membership in the PRSA provides you with some priceless resources – and most of them are literally priceless. While you’re job hunting, keep learning by participating in any one of the hundreds of free webinars available to you as a member. You can register for upcoming live webinars or browse the years of archived trainings available on demand.

In addition to the webinars, has an extensive job center with new listings added each day. You can find articles on prepping your resume, interviewing techniques, and PR salary standards. You can take a career assessment to find out what job you’re best suited for. PRSA even offers a mentor match service so you can find a veteran in the field to act as your guide and sounding board.

Stay active in your community.

There is no such thing as too much networking. Many metropolitan areas have networking groups for young professionals to stay connected to one another to build relationships and reputations in the community. Join one of these organizations and participate in as many activities as you can. The connections you make through this avenue may very well lead to the full-time job you’re looking for.

While you’re not working full time, take this opportunity to volunteer in your community. Pick an organization that you admire and offer your services, whether it is related to public relations or filing and answering phones. Most non-profits won’t turn down the offer of free assistance. You’re getting the opportunity to use your skills or learn something new while they get to see how hard you work. When a full-time position comes open, you’ll be at the top of their list.

Jennifer MaterkoskiJennifer Materkoski is a graduate of Kent State University with a Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications with a specialization in Public Relations. She has worked as a writer and editor for both newspaper and television and as a member of a non-profit marketing and development team. Materkoski is the owner and principal consultant of a boutique public relations firm, Songbird Public Relations. She is an avid sports fan, a yogi and also owns and operates an online store selling essential oils and natural products. Materkoski resides in Wheeling, West Virginia with her husband and son. Find her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @MrsMaterkoski. She can be reached via email at


PR lessons from your first year on the job

PR Lessons from your first year on the jobI’m quickly approaching my two-year anniversary of being a PR Pro. These past two years have been filled with new faces, places and challenges. I’ve had the opportunity to do things I’d never thought I’d do and build connections with people I would have never run into on my own. While it’s been an exciting two years, and there have been many lessons learned.

A bachelors degree is just the beginning.

While I value and appreciate my degree, it was only a stepping stone into the professional world. Many of the things I’ve learned have been on the job. A degree provides you with the foundation, but creating a pitch letter for a class assignment isn’t the same as actually pitching a journalist.

Lesson Learned: Take feedback and critiques positively, things function differently in the real world for a real client.

Social media is important, but its only part of the package.

Click to tweet: “Social media is important, but it’s only part of the package.” #NPPRSA #PRSA @PRSANewPros

When I first started my career, I assumed I would be working with social media on a regular basis. Depending on the how a company is structured, the marketing department may handle  social media or your role may not be as hands-on with social media.

Lesson Learned: Knowing how to use social media definitely comes in handy, but remember that there are also other skills to focus on in our profession.

Dont forget about writing.

If you haven’t already guessed, writing is a major part of the job. As a PR professionals, it’s our job to get the message across to our client’s audience in the clearest, most concise way possible. And that takes practice. If you have the time at work ask for an extra writing assignment. Or start your own blog. Either way, write as much as you can to sharpen your skills.

Lesson Learned: Practice makes perfect, write as much you can.

Its normal to feel like everything you do is wrong.

Over the past two years, there’s always been a day or an entire week where I feel like everything I do is wrong. As a newbie, there’s no way that everything you do will turn out amazing the first time or even the fifth time you do it. Don’t worry, your manager already knows this, they were once a newbie too. They don’t expect you to produce perfect work, they expect you to put in the work.

Lesson Learned: Be open to criticism and direction. Don’t be afraid to mess up and don’t be too proud to ask for help.

My first year as a PR professional was a whirlwind. It was amazing, it was exciting, it was frustrating, it was challenging, it was everything I didn’t expect it to be. Through all the ups and downs, make sure to enjoy the ride!

Cheers to your first years!


Victoria LightfootVictoria Lightfoot graduated from Georgia State University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, concentrating in public relations. She is currently the PR coordinator at the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and volunteers on PRSA Georgia’s College Relations Committee and co-chairs the Travel & Tourism Special Interest Group. Connect with Victoria on LinkedIn and Twitter (@Victoria_Lenese)