New Pros Week 2017

Think of your career like a garden. You’ll want to plant it in a fertile area with plenty of room to grow and access to the things it needs to thrive: sunshine and water; opportunities and professional development. You’ll need to spend some time on it, deciding what to cultivate, weeding out the unnecessary and giving it the care and attention it needs. You’ll need to fill your toolshed. Finally, consulting the experts is never a bad idea.

It sounded a bit outlandish before, right? Comparing your career to a backyard garden? But when you think about it, the fruitful, successful ones are the product of a great deal of love, sweat, time and attention. Without effort, they wither away.

This year we’ve decided to give New Pros Week a theme of its own – “Careers in Bloom: Creating a plan for career success.”

Join us August 6 through 12, 2017 as we focus on all the tools and tips you need to continue to grow your career well past your New Pro years and celebrate the things that set us apart. We’ll talk about what tools you need in your PR toolbox, discuss the importance of mentorship to build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships, and connect members from across the country as we explore the ins and outs of being a New Pro.

New Pros Week 2017’s schedule includes:

  • “Planting the seed for career-long growth” TwiChat chat – Monday, August 7 at 8 p.m.
  • “Fill Your Garden: Mentorship & making lasting connections” webinar – Wednesday, August 9 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • “Build Your Bouquet: Follow fellow New Pros” Follow Friday on Twitter – Friday, August 11
  • Social conversation around our favorite things about being a New Pro and advice from experienced pros on what they wish they knew as New Pros
  • Blog posts on topics such as:
    • “Grow where you’re planted: How to build a successful career in a new place”
    • “What’s in your toolshed: Essential tools and techniques for New Pros”
    • …and more!

Links to these programs and events will be shared across our social media channels very soon so keep an eye out and mark your calendars!

In addition to national events, New Pros Week is a great time for Chapters and Districts to celebrate their own New Pros by hosting happy hours or networking events, showcase members in blog and social media content and just generally engaging with their youngest members to highlight the great things we add to the PR field and to help us further grow and advance the profession.

Don’t forget to follow along on our social media channels and join in the conversation on Twitter using #NPPRSA and #NewProsWeek.

If you have any questions or want to get involved, please reach out to us!

Robyn & Veronica
@robyn_rl | @veronica_min |

PRSA’s New Professionals Section 2017 programming chairs

The New Pros Bucket List

Whether it’s your first day or your second year on the job, there are several ways to get the most out of your first few years after graduating. Being a new professional is exciting, eye-opening and sometimes a little intimidating. Not sure how to set yourself up for success? We’ve got a few ideas that will make a good start. Welcome to the new professionals bucket list.

1. Find Your Passions and Dig In – This is the perfect time in your career to try everything and discover what you love…and what you don’t. Raise your hand for any opportunity that comes up in the office, even if it seems like something you’d never enjoy. Ask to help the digital guru. Sit in on a brainstorm. Learn a new research software. As you experience all the avenues of our industry, you’ll discover what you’re good at and be able to passionately hone those skills. Plus, you’ll be more of an asset to the company because you’re well-rounded.

2. Sit on a Junior Board – This is something both of us are extremely passionate about – and we think you should be too! Most nonprofits are always in the market for a little pro-bono help, especially when it comes to communications. Find a charity or nonprofit that really resonates with you and see if you can volunteer, or even better, join their junior board. This is a great way to give back to your community and to meet other young professionals. If you’re not sure where to start, some cities have junior board search engines, or you can visit to find an organization perfect for you.

3. Find a Mentor – Finding a mentor in your professional life can be intimidating. Remember, acquiring a mentor may not be as daunting as you’re making it! If any of you are fans of Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” (and if you’re not, we suggest hitting up Amazon right now), you’ll remember her entire chapter on mentors. She reminds us not to “ask anyone to be your mentor,” but instead, ask people both senior and junior to you for specific advice. This could be as simple as “Can we grab coffee sometime and discuss how I can make my press releases more engaging?” By doing so, you begin fostering an organic mentor/mentee relationship.

4. Become a Mentor – Practice the flip side of No. 3. Both of us were lucky enough to have a plethora of supportive mentors while we were students, and I’m sure you did too. So, you’re a young professional now – it’s time to pay it forward! As we’ve said before, mentoring is so important to the success of your career, but so is being a mentor. You can start by reaching out to your own college or university. Do they have a mentoring program? If not, can you help start one? But, if you’re like us and moved far away from home, you can also reach out to the schools, or PRSSA Chapters, in your area.

5. Try Getting Down and Dirty – Be willing to get down and dirty and pour all your effort into your tasks. Sometimes you’ll be tasked with seemingly monotonous or menial assignments, but they’re actually the backbone of a much larger project. So, raise your hand and get excited! You’ll gain firsthand knowledge of all the small details that go into a successful project or campaign, which will make you a better leader down the road.

6. Grab Coffee with your PR Idol – Is there someone in the industry that you’ve always looked up to, but never approached? What better time than now! Senior-level people in the public relations world are almost always willing to grab coffee with a curious up and coming professional. Whether your idol is in your city or not, there is no time better than when you’re a new professional. If they are not in your city, try scheduling a time with them while you’re on vacation or a work trip. Or do the old-fashioned thing and set up a call! You will learn so much in those thirty minutes, and who knows, maybe your PR idol will turn into your PR mentor!

7. Expand Your Experience – Try a different sector of PR! This is a great way to discover what you’re passionate about and where you can learn the most. You’ll also be more qualified for serving clients from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, try working in different practice areas, even if it’s in the same office. Think you love the consumer practice? Volunteer to help with healthcare or crisis communication needs. You never know where you are most equipped!

8. Join a Speciality Networking Group – While PRSA is a great way to learn about our field, your personal education, and professional development, shouldn’t stop there. Like PR, most industries have networking groups specific to their concentration. Do you work in-house at a technology company? Join a professional tech organization. Are you in a corporate responsibility sector of a PR firm? Join a CSR networking event. These groups are a great way to dive deeper into your projects. Then you won’t only be the go-to person when it comes to communications, but you’ll also be all-knowing of your industry!

9. Attend a PRSA Event – Making the transition from college, and PRSSA, to the workforce, and PRSA, can be very intimidating at first. But, you have to take the plunge! The best way to network with other PR Young Professionals is to attend a PRSA event. Find a friend at work and ask them to attend with you. PRSA will not only make you smarter when it comes to industry trends, but it will also give you a strong network of people just like you.

10. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – Perhaps most importantly, decide from the beginning of your career that you’re committed to growing professionally and personally. Do what scares you, whether that means moving to a new city or asking someone to lunch. You’ll never grow until you expand your viewpoint and embrace new perspectives. There isn’t just one right path in our industry, which makes the opportunities endless and the future exciting! Choose to seek those opportunities and discover what you love.

You’re only a new professional until the newness wears off. This is your chance to be the rookie, make mistakes and impress your co-workers with your fresh insight. Adding these 10 items to your bucket list (and probably a few more) will set a pattern for continued success and development throughout your career. So get going — your career is waiting.

Lindsey Young headshotLindsey Young is a May graduate of The University of Alabama, finishing her term as UA PRSSA president. During her time in PRSSA, she participated in two Bateman Case Study Competitions, attended seven nationwide PRSSA related conferences and hosted a regional conference. Along with PRSSA, she worked for her student-run firm, Capstone Agency, as a media relations specialist for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Lindsey is currently working in Chicago as the New Business Development intern for Burson Marsteller’s U.S. team.
You can usually find her looking for the best place to cheer on the Crimson Tide or catching up on Saturday Night Live. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter!

taylor-shelnuttTaylor Shelnutt graduated from The University of Alabama in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Information Sciences (Public Relations) and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. She served as the firm director of the PRSSA nationally affiliated student-run integrated communications firm, Capstone Agency, and worked directly with The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Taylor spent the past two months as a Summer Fellow at Ketchum Chicago and has loved learning the ins and outs of agency life! Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter!

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Every story is different; you can’t compare yourself to everyone else.”

This is a phrase I have heard more times than I can count over the past 15 months — a phrase that is 100 percent true.

When I graduated from college on May 1, 2015, I was feeling the way many of you might be feeling today. Or maybe you are one of those who graduated from college with the security of knowing what your next step was. If that’s you, congratulations! If that’s not you, trust me, every story and path to success is different. Here’s my story and advice for those new graduates looking for their first job:

The End of the Beginning

I remember my senior year like it was yesterday; the late nights and early mornings in Reese Phifer Hall, The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences building — my home for four years.

Perhaps you were heavily involved in extracurricular activities such as student organizations, clubs, sports, or represented your school through ambassador programs; whatever the case, you knew that you were gaining experience throughout your college years that would set you apart post-graduation.

Well, that was me. I served as vice president of PRSSA at Alabama. I had an internship at a local (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) strategic communications agency, which became a part-time job during my senior year. I was padding my resume with all of this experience, and I knew I’d have no trouble landing that first full-time job. I knew I would soon be on my way to a meaningful and successful career.

Don’t get me wrong – being involved in student organizations and having internships are two of the best ways to set yourself apart from others when searching for a job. But that’s only the first step.

Fast forward to post-graduation and what I know now: Your resume alone will not land you a job. Your resume and the impressive experience you have under your belt may only be enough to secure an interview. When you’re in the interview, you need to prove your worth and why you’re the perfect match for the job.

The Uncertainty of Post-Graduate Life

Here’s where it gets tough. Here’s where each day without a solid lead or connection for a new job induces anxiety, stress and panic.

The days started rolling by, and I still wasn’t anywhere close to landing a full-time job. I woke up each day not knowing if I’d hear good news or if I would go to bed that night with the same pessimistic mindset that I would never get out of this slump. My friends were all getting jobs, and I was batting .000, striking out with every at-bat. I’d start to doubt my abilities and worthiness and wonder why I hadn’t found a job like everyone else I graduated with. It even seemed like younger students were walking into internships with the door held open for them, and every door seemed to be shut in my face.

This is where it gets tough, but remember, every story is different.

What I know now: With every step in the right direction, you will eventually make it to your destination. My parents used to always tell me that everything would work out in the end if I stayed positive and kept working toward my goals. They were right, everything worked out. It always works out in the end.

Not Where You Want To Be

Like I said, every story is different. Fortunately, I was able to keep a post-grad, part-time job at the aforementioned strategic communications agency, but I had bigger plans. I had plans to leave the Southern comfort and hospitality that I grew up in and find my way in a city full of driven and hungry professionals.  While in Tuscaloosa, I was fortunate enough to have a boss that motivated and encouraged me to chase my dreams.

The problem: I couldn’t find any opportunity that would open doors. The solution: I had to create those opportunities.

What I know now: Creating opportunities is key. For me, it meant networking and meeting professionals who were willing to share their own advice with me. However, I met so many people during my job search that it began to seem pointless… until I met someone willing to mentor me, encourage me and support me along the way. Thanks, Patrick!

What You Need to Know Now

If someone had told me that it would take over a year after graduation to find my first job, I would have been shocked, only because we’re told early on in college that if we get involved and be proactive about gaining experience then we will be fine.

My story is different. I had to fly to different cities and schedule informational interviews. I had to make networking my full-time job. I had to knock on as many doors as possible to finally have one open. For some reason, my work experience just wasn’t getting me anywhere.

After a long year of getting my hopes up, getting rejected and getting discouraged, I am proud to finally say that I am working in sports and entertainment PR with some of the industry’s brightest and most passionate people.

So, to each and every new college graduate reading this, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Most job opportunities won’t work out — that’s fine. Don’t be discouraged with 100 rejections; it only takes one offer to outweigh all the rejections.
  2. Get out there and meet people who will share their experience and advice with you. You just might meet someone willing to mentor you and guide you along the way like I did.
  3. Never give up on your dreams — reaching your goals will never be a smooth, straight road, just keep moving forward. I finally landed the job I had been dreaming about – the journey to my job now is worth every up and down along the way.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s story is different, and that’s what makes it so great. So what if your classmates already have a job? Your time will come…just keep pushing forward.
  5. Enjoy 1 – 4. My friends can tell you I spent most of my job search stressed out and worried. Remember, it will work out in the end so enjoy the ride.

Today I find myself at Ketchum, more specifically, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment (KSE). Looking back, I can say that I wish I had known then what I know now — that it always works out in the end. Sometimes you just have to make it happen for yourself. So when it seems like everyone else around you is moving on, starting their careers and establishing themselves, just remember: every story is different; you can’t compare yourself to everyone else.



Doug is currently an account coordinator at Ketchum, specifically Ketchum Sports & Entertainment (KSE). He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Information Sciences, Public Relations from the University of Alabama. Connect with Doug on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Plank Center’s Value to Young PR Pros {New Pros Week Series}

Betsy-Plank-QuoteThe namesake of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, Betsy Plank, commonly referred to as the First Lady of Public Relations, dedicated more than 60 years to the industry. As a distinguished leader in PR, Betsy was an advocate for its education and young professionals. Betsy believed, “Public relations people must be eternal students.” She recognized the importance of leadership and mentorship, and envisioned creating an avenue in which PR students, educators and professionals had resources to continue leading and mentoring throughout their careers.

In 2005, The Plank Center was founded at her alma mater, The University of Alabama. Established to help develop and recognize outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors, The Plank Center continues to implement Betsy’s ideals to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society.

As new public relations professionals, are you recognizing the importance of leadership and mentorship? Betsy believed in the power of leadership and mentorship and you should, too.

Learn to Lead

You may be thinking that you cannot be a leader, because you’re beginning your career in public relations. Guess again. Leaders are needed in our industry at all levels, not just at the top. The Center debuted its first leadership report card, which revealed a “Grand-Canyon-sized gap between leaders’ evaluations of their own performance and those of their employees.” As new PR pros, learning to be an effective leader early in your career can help close this gap.

It’s been said, “Those who become involved with the Center will truly become better leaders.” From interviews with PR legends, material from the best experts in the industry to the latest research, the Center has value for everyone. Here you will find inspiration from the legends such as Betsy Plank, Harold Burson, Ofield Dukes and many more. Their paths to success remind us to keep learning, dreaming and, of course, leading.

Learn to Mentor

Some may say the Center introduced them to the true definition of leadership in public relations. Others, such as Brian Price, assistant account executive for Edelman, mention how the Center has expanded their network and motivated them to continuously find mentorship, and also seek out ways to be a mentor.

Betsy had many quotes, but one in particular truly sums up what mentorship means to our profession, “Mentoring is one of the strongest ways to spell success in public relations.”

And remember, you don’t have to always have an answer to your mentee’s questions. Sometimes, it’s best to be a sounding board and ask thought-provoking questions. At the end of the day, take Betsy’s advice, “You’re never too young—or too old—to mentor others.”

Pay It Forward

Wendi Strong, executive vice president of corporate communications with USAA, said, “No matter how experienced or knowledgeable one is, if you can’t leverage your skills to motivate, inspire and lead others to be superior practitioners then you haven’t fulfilled your duty to our profession.”

Leadership and mentorship go hand-in-hand. Don’t think of it as a challenge, but rather an opportunity to grow professionally and personally. How many times do we talk to someone about our experiences and offer advice to those who are seeking answers? Experience equals knowledge. Whether you see it or you don’t, you’re already incorporating leadership and mentorship into your life by sharing your experiences and advice with others.

We were taught to be strategic, ethical communicators, and it’s our time to start leading and mentoring the future of our profession. It’s important to note that you are making an impact. While it’s not going to happen overnight, sharing your knowledge with others will lead to our industry’s advancement.

The Center, with the help of its board of advisors, has carved out a direction that makes it of “distinctive value to anyone wishing to learn more—or be more—in public relations.” The value of leading, mentoring and paying it forward is there, not only for new professionals, but students, educators and practitioners. Why not start your leadership and mentorship journey today?

J White

Jessika White graduated from The University of Alabama with a master’s degree in sports management as well as a bachelor’s degree in telecommunication and film. She is the communications specialist for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Find her on Twitter or LinkedIn and follow The Plank Center on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.


How to Make the Most of PRSA New Pros

When I graduated from Michigan State University in 2010, I moved to Chicago to begin my career at Edelman. I was active in PRSSA and had interned with Edelman before starting full time, but once I was there, I had a feeling of ‘what do I do now?’

Nick Lucido, PRSA New Professionals Section Chair

Nick Lucido, PRSA New Professionals Section Chair

That’s when I decided to get active with the PRSA New Professionals Section.

Being involved with the New Pros group, I learned and networked my way through challenging career situations, learned how to advance my career and broadened my knowledge of the profession. While PRSSA is designed to help you start your career, and PRSA is broader in nature, the New Professionals Section is the buffer group designed for those with less than five years of public relations experience. We have more than 1,200 new professionals across the country covering different industry verticals and settings – this means there’s definitely someone out there in the same boat as you.

Questions like – Should I try to negotiate my salary? When is it time for me to move to a new position? How can I advance to the next level? – were all things I learned from programs and other members.  I can promise you that whatever question or doubt you have about your career, there’s someone else out there with advice and experience to share. While we offer a long list of benefits for our members, the most powerful thing we offer is the connection to others.

This virtual support group has ‘traveled’ with me to Brazil, where I’m now stationed at Edelman’s operations in São Paulo. As I proudly lose my New Professional title, I’m proud to have been part of the organization and look forward to continuing my PRSA membership in other areas of the organization.

My piece of retirement advice is to make the most of your membership. If you’ve not yet taken advance of the membership benefits, there’s no better time to test it out than our annual New Professionals Week. Here’s a few ways to get involved:

  • Be sure to tune in to our free webinar on Tuesday, August 25th at 11 a.m. ET – How to Activate an Influencer Network with Converged Media.
  • There are 13 local events happening across the country – check out the full list here to see where the closest event is near you.
  • Follow along to conversations online about the week and network with fellow members across the country: #npprsa
  • Make sure you’re making the most of your membership – follow our content on the blog, participate and ask questions to other members in our Linkedin group and check out our database for past programs.

If you have any questions about your membership, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any other executive committee member. Happy New Pros Week!

Nick Lucido was the 2015 PRSA New Professionals Section Chair.