Tools for new pros

Editor’s note: The Edge will feature posts every other Monday to discuss the benefits of PRSA membership for new pros and celebrate the work being done for new pros by local chapters. Join the conversation on Twitter using #MemberMonday.

When we think about resources for newly minted PR pros, tools like Help a Reporter Out, Buffer, IFTTT, Evernote, Dropbox, Hootsuite and Google’s entire suite of programs come to mind. Membership in a professional organization is often overlooked on that list.

PRSA, or any other professional organization, membership can be a big expenditure for recent grads. Understanding the benefits that come with your membership is helpful in deciding which organization is the best fit for you.

So what tools are available to PRSA members?

PRSA Jobcenter

For new pros on the prowl for a job, Jobcenter is a great resource. With jobs listings from all over the country, it’s an ideal source for seeing what new opportunities are out there. Anyone can view the jobs, but only PRSA members can apply for positions, post their resume and ask experts for advice and insight throughout the interview process. Many chapters also have job boards members to peruse local openings and apply. Since companies have to pay for each job posting on both the local and national organizations’ sites, listed positions are often legitimate and actively considering applicants.

Special Interest Groups

PRSA has 14 special interest groups for members of all experience levels and areas of expertise. Joining a special interest group gives members the opportunity to connect with and learn from their peers and gives them access to exclusive perks, such as networking opportunities, members-only message boards and forums, volunteer and leadership opportunities.

On-Demand Training

PRSA’s on-demand library is a perk well worth the membership dues. Members can browse dozens of training opportunities on everything from PR writing and branding to crisis management and accreditation. Training is offered as a live webinar for those who can tune it at the appointed time and as an on-demand option for those who want to watch it on their own schedule. Web training opportunities are free to members (with some exceptions).

Blogs & Publications

In addition to all of the available professional development and training opportunities, PRSA has a number of blogs, including ComPRehension and PRSAY, to share industry trends, tips and news with members. Its print publications, Public Relations Tactics and The Public Relations Strategist, are mailed directly to members monthly and quarterly, respectively. Individual special interest sections, like the New Professionals section, and some of the 100-plus chapters also have blogs that focus on topics of interest to members. All PRSA blogs are available to non-member as well as members, but content is written almost exclusively by PRSA members and is a great way to establish yourself as an expert or showcase your knowledge in a particular area.

Networking Opportunities

With PRSA’s annual International Conference, special interest conferences and regional conferences across the country, PRSA members have the opportunity to connect with other PR pros from all over. For members who are more interested in making one-on-one connections closer to home, many chapters host local networking events and most special interest sections use special hashtags to facilitate conversation and host monthly Twitter chats. Members can also use PRSA’s member directory to contact particular members.

Mentor Match

Mentor Match is a great option for those who are looking for a little extra guidance, especially those who are new to the profession. Mentor Match pairs a seasoned professional from PRSA’s College of Fellows with a mentee to answer questions, strengthen your resume, set goals, solve a work dilemma, and more.  PRSA’s is currently revamping its Mentor Match program, so be on the lookout for updated information on the program.

PRSA Connect

Just announced to members last month, PRSA is launching a new members-only community called PRSA Connect. PRSA Connect will give members the opportunity to interact with their peers to quickly share information, collaborate and discuss issues and questions. In addition to connecting members, PRSA Connect will store all member benefits, such as articles, webinars, recordings, presentations and more. More information will be available later this month.

Want to learn more about PRSA’s benefits for new pros and what tools your peers are using to navigate the PR world? Join us for our April Twitter chat – “Tools for Your PR Toolbox” – on April 13 at 8 p.m. with #NPPRSA.

How to Stand Out in the Sea of PR Pros

PRSA THE EDGE OCTOBERThere’s great news! The economy is looking up for today’s job seekers, but that doesn’t mean companies are just hiring anybody. In today’s job market, tenacity and creativity go a long way.

Employer’s want to know you were productive between the time you graduated and the time you applied to your dream job with their company. They love to see that you are committed to your career and gaining valuable experience independently. After tailoring your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile, going on informational interviews, and actually applying with a compelling cover letter, we often complain that the job hunt is a job within itself. The hustle is real but is well worth it once you land a job you love.

Prepare yourself for job-hunting success by creating a job hunt strategy. This goes beyond updating your online presence and applying to jobs but actually making strategic moves to land the job you want. Think organization. Create a list of companies you want to work at vs. companies you would love to work at. Use this list to prioritize time spent on cover letters and networking. Create a google doc and track the applications you send and the responses you receive. Keep in mind the date you applied and the date you followed up. Did you land an interview or was their no response at all? Log it!

Public Relations is a career that requires constant learning. While you are searching for full time positions, strategically introducing yourself by reaching out to companies you the companies on your “love” list. Share the relevant skills and accomplishments that would add value to their company and why you are interested in working with them. Show your passion by volunteering to assist in a project part time or on a paid contract basis. This is the perfect time to prove that you are an asset to the team.

Set yourself apart from other job seekers by taking on alternative positions that are related to the industry. A great way to gain experience is to serve as a Brand Ambassador at local events. Some of the top brands are represented at local festivals and doing a great job marketing their product is attractive to employers. Have you ever thought about asking your local coffee shop if they need some help with their social media? I mean you’re always there anyway applying to jobs, right? The least they can offer in return is a free cup of joe. Create a Social Media Strategy Proposal for them and if they like it, ask them to pay for you to implement it. If not, you have a social media strategy to add to your portfolio.

What are you doing to stand out from the crowded job market?

i-zthGPGn-XLJasmine L. Kent, a member of PRSA-NCC, focuses on building community through dynamic events and engaging online marketing as a freelance integrated communications professional in Washington, DC. Keep up with her on Twitter at @LoveJasPR or visit 

Join New Pros at the PRSA International Conference!

Are you attending the PRSA International Conference this November? Lucky you! Not only will you have the chance to learn from some of the leading industry professionals, but you’ll have a chance to get one-on-one time with the PRSA New Pros group, too!

We’ll be hosting some exciting sessions at the conference this year, and we’d love for you to be part of them. If you’re unable to attend the conference in person, join the New Pros conversation online with the hashtag #NPPRSA.

Lucky enough to attend? Here’s how to join us for our exciting PRSA ICON New Pros event!

  • WHAT: PRSA New Professionals Meet and Greet – Join us for some networking, an update on the section and advice from senior PR professionals.
  • WHERE: Marriott Marquis, Room L 402
  • WHEN: Sunday, November 8, 11:00am – 12:00pm
  • QUESTIONS?: Reach out to

Here are two other events that will be happening in the Atlanta area that week, too:

See you soon, New Pros!

Three Ways to Become Indispensable at Work

Three Ways to become indespenSableWhen I started my PR career, I focused on nailing the basics of PR – writing strong press releases, building solid media lists, writing great emails. I strove for accuracy and a job well done. As I’ve grown in my career, I’ve realized that while mastering the fundamental PR skills is paramount, I also need to always be looking for ways to add value to my organization. PR professionals who prove that they add real value to their organizations simply do better professionally – they are promoted, secure new jobs more easily, and are liked by coworkers. Here are a few strategies I’ve picked up on so far, and try to put in practice in my career.

Go above and beyond.

Basic advice, but many PR professionals just do what absolutely needs to get done per their job description. They complete tasks delegated by their supervisor, and leave work when they finish them. This is a fine approach to work, but it’s not likely to get you promoted quickly. It’s like the old saying, dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

Show that you are worthy of the job that you want, instead of just doing a decent job at the one you have. Be the person who offers to stay late to finish a big project, or take some workload off of a coworker who is over-burdened. Communicate your interests and ideas to your supervisors. They will take notice of the team members who demonstrate passion, creativity, and ambition.

Build strong relationships with your coworkers.

PR is based on relationships. We’re focused so much on client and media relationships, that sometimes we forget about the other important kind of work-related relationship: coworker relationships. Think about the kind of coworker you personally would like to work with. For me, that person would be trustworthy, friendly, positive, encouraging, collaborative, helpful, drama-free, professional – try to be that person at work!

When you genuinely like the people you work with and they like you, you’re able to collaborate better, advocate for each other and increase your productivity. Get to know your coworkers outside of the office. Coffee dates, happy hours and exercise classes are all great ways to bond.

Manage up and make your supervisor’s life easier.    

If you think about the purpose of a job in the most basic sense, it’s to make the life of your supervisor easier. This is especially true in an agency environment, where account coordinators support account executives, account executives support account managers, and so on.

Make sure every piece of work you turn into your supervisor – research, media lists, pitches, press releases, fact sheets – is absolutely spot-on and error-free. Attention to detail is so important in PR. Don’t drop the ball by turning in work with mistakes that could have easily been avoided by an extra review. When supervisors barely need to edit your work, they will appreciate you and ultimately view you as a necessary component of their own work life – making you irreplaceable.
If you quit your organization tomorrow, what kind of impact would it have on your team, and the company overall? Becoming indispensable at work is different from being good or even great at your job, and has everything to do with the value you add to your organization. What are some of your strategies for becoming that indispensable team member?

Screen-Shot-2015-05-21-at-11.23.51-PM-241x300 2Lauren Leger graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in communication, concentrating in public relations. She started her career while still in college at Boston-based PR firm, Zazil Media Group. Lauren relocated to Dallas, Texas in fall of 2014 and began working atThe Power Group as a PR account executive. She recently took on a new role as Power’s manager of digital strategy, where she brings her PR expertise to the digital realm of the business. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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.