New Professional Spotlight: Shannon Nicholson

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Name: Shannon Nicholson
Job Role: Program Director, West Virginia University Office of Graduate Admissions
Education: B.S. Journalism, ’14, M.S. Data Marketing Communications, ’17 – WVU Reed College of Media
Social Media: @shannonicholson (Twitter) and @shannonpauline (Instagram)

How and when did you first become interested in PR and communications?

My first job in the industry was at a small, B2B advertising agency in Morgantown, WV. I was exposed to all facets of marketing: content development, direct email, digital advertising, media relations, social media, traditional media, and website design (to name a few). What I did not know before I started my Junior Account Manager position was the importance of tying campaigns to business goals, breaking down department silos, and utilizing collected data to be relevant and timely. Enter the Data Marketing Communications, fully-online, graduate program. This program allowed me to bridge my interest in the business-side of marketing and my growing expertise in the field.

How did you find internships/jobs?

As a WVU student and alumni, I have an amazing resource at my disposal- MountaineerTrak powered by the Career Services Center. MountaineerTrak was my first line of defense. During my years as an undergrad, the Reed College of Media hired a Director of Student Careers and Opportunities, Eric Minor. Eric’s weekly “opportunity” email quickly became my go-to resource. Eric is the perfect liaison between current students looking for experience and alumni looking to provide that experience as a way to give back to their alma mater.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced in your career? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I have faced in my young career has been introducing new procedures, and strategies from the ground up. In my current role, I assumed that after six months and I’ll be like a well-oiled machine and have already implemented new strategies. I soon realized that implementation would take closer to one year. The next year will be spent analyzing, and the following year will be about growth and optimization. It is hard not to get ahead of myself and want to be at year three, today! Really, the biggest challenge is not trying something new, it is pacing myself to check one step off the list at a time. Devoting 110% to each step without getting ahead of myself and potentially losing sight of details that could later derail all that the team has worked towards. Slow and steady wins the race.

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

Differing experiences, bring perspective. In my Data Marketing Communications cohort, students had varying backgrounds in data, graphic design, marketing, sales, etc. Listening to each other’s viewpoints helped the entire cohort approach problems with an open mind.

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

You won’t know unless you try.

Do you have any advice for future PR pros?

There are a lot of different ways to apply your marketing/PR knowledge. Don’t limit yourself to certain industries or titles. Today, there are more opportunities than ever to be creative with your knowledge.

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

I think the biggest benefit of the New Pros section is the opportunity for engagement and networking. PRSA boasts amazing partners, and communities for growth and learning. I was particularly drawn to the #NPPRSA Twitter chats. Twitter chats have been a great outlet to informally discuss specific topics with others in the industry. I have found that those who participate want to engage and share. Even simply reading through threads has helped open my eyes to areas outside of my expertise.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting your career?

You will never stop learning. When you think you know enough, there is always more. It is important to be vigilant about the changes within your field.

Tell us a little-known fact about yourself.

I have a Bengal Cat that is about 20 lbs, who acts more like a small dog than a cat.

This New Professionals spotlight is sponsored by West Virginia University. If you are a member of PRSA New Pros and interested in being featured, or interested in nominating someone to be featured as a part of our #MemberSpotlight, please complete the following form.

 

Leveraging your PRSSA Leadership Experience to Launch your Career

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Leveraging your PRSSA Leadership Experience to Launch your Career
By: Emma Finkbeiner, PRSSA Immediate Past President

For recent graduates, standing out amongst your peers in the job search is crucial. In a competitive industry, leveraging the leadership experience gained through PRSSA membership can help you do just that. I spoke with four former PRSSA National Committee members about skills they learned through PRSSA involvement and how they used their experiences to help launch their careers.

Brian Price, PRSSA 2013-14 National President
Corporate Communications Manager, Starwood Retail Partners

Heather Harder, PRSSA 2014-15 National President
Communications Manager, RSE Ventures

Laura Daronatsy, PRSSA 2015-16 National President
Communications Leadership Development Program Associate, Lockheed Martin

Veronica Mingrone, PRSSA 2015-16 National Vice President of Career Services
Analyst, Canvas Blue

What did PRSSA leadership experience teach you about professionalism?

Brian: “I think it showed I took my profession and professional development very seriously. But, you need stories to back it up to show why and how PRSSA experiences are so valuable. Seek out leadership positions not just to have the line on your resume, but for the development that comes with it.”

Laura: “PRSSA helped me launch my career because it allowed me to learn what professional behavior looked like and how to emulate it.”

Veronica: “PRSSA taught me how to interact with professionals at much different stages in their careers than I was. Now, I feel better prepared to engage with senior leadership at my company and, more broadly, at networking events. Knowing how to approach others confidently and keep in touch with them has been instrumental in my career.”

Heather: “Engaging with senior PR professionals as a student taught me a lot about when to speak up and when to listen.”

PRSSA leadership positions are volunteer positions. How is this type of leadership experience different because of that fact?

Laura: “PRSSA taught me it’s not enough to just show up. Raise your hand. Be a volunteer! Help someone else out. You have to be a giver, contributor and follower before you can truly be a respected leader. By thinking about what you can contribute, you’re already doing a crucial part of leading — leaving the place, organization or person better than the way you found it.”

Veronica: “Regardless if your aspirations are to serve students as a Chapter leader or on the National Committee, the operative word is “serve.” Any position you hold in the society – at whatever level – will likely be a time commitment and a good amount of work.”

What did you learn from leading a group of your peers?

Brian: “Much more than group projects in classes, PRSSA taught me to work with a group of my peers. Now, I do it all the time at work, especially when I was at Edelman with so many like-minded colleagues. In PRSSA, you work for clients, projects, fundraising programs with people you (hopefully) like personally, but also respect professionally even when there are competing ideas and different approaches. It’s just like a good workplace in that sense.”

Laura: “I referred to my leadership positions multiple times throughout my interviews because I had learned so many lessons — both good and bad — by leading my peers. It definitely helped (still helps) me in my job now because I know how to manage a project when working with people completely different from me.”

Heather: “Coming into a PR firm with leadership and management experience, I was immediately recognized as someone with the potential to manage our interns and given more responsibility because of the skills I’d developed in PRSSA.”

How did the network you built from involvement in PRSSA benefit you as you began your career?

Brian: “PRSSA prepared me the most by developing my network. I was active in PRSSA outside of just my Chapter, and met many influential professionals and rising new professionals. They became mentors and trusted resources who helped me through the job search process.”

Veronica: “I was able to leverage PRSSA in the job hunt by tapping on the connections – both peer and professional – that I had made in the four years I was a member. These people knew the value of PRSSA and what it meant for my professional development.”

Heather: “You have to continue to cultivate the network and keep in touch with everyone interesting that you meet. It really was useful for obtaining the recommendations that helped me get two very important jobs in my career. I don’t know that I’d have gotten those jobs without being able to call up some PRSSA/PRSA mentors and have them put in a word, because I’d kept a genuine connection with them.”

How did your leadership experience help you stand out among the crowd?

Laura: “You can set yourself apart as a teammate and a leader simply by putting in a little extra time and effort.”

Veronica: “PRSSA gave me an opportunity to lead – and I don’t think I would’ve had experience managing a team this early in my career were it not for the society. It allowed me to become confident in my leadership abilities, to explore my career interests, to travel and figure out where I wanted to move post-grad, to become an ambassador for my university and well-known in my program – and the list goes on and on.”

Heather: “Once I brought it up and explained how much management, leadership and hands-on experience it had given me, I was able to immediately standout as someone with a unique experience and a passion for the industry. These skills helped me prove myself to get more responsibility very early in my first job.”

It’s important to note that the leadership journeys of these four individuals are far from over. All four have continued their development by joining PRSA, serving on the New Professionals Executive Committee and getting involved in local PRSA Chapters. Leadership and professional development is truly never finished, and dedicating time to an organization like PRSSA or PRSA shows your continued interest in the industry and your own professional growth.

Congratulations to the PRSSA National Committee

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The PRSA New Professionals Committee would like to congratulate our 2018-2019 PRSSA National Committee members. We know they’ll accomplish much as members of this committee and as leaders for the future of Public Relations as they progress through their careers. 

NEW YORK (March 14, 2018) —The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) announced the election of its 2018–2019 National Committee during its annual National Assembly in Miami, March 8–11.

More than 200 students and advisers from across the country and the world converged in Miami for the four-day meeting. During the Assembly, attendees participated in career- and leadership-training events, and learned about the Society, their member benefits, how to pitch public relations, and networked with their peers and public relations professionals.

The 2018–2019 National Committee, which begins its one-year term on June 1, 2018, will be led by National President Andrew Young, of Middle Tennessee State University. Young previously served as vice president of external affairs.

New National Committee members also include:

  • Vice President of Career Services: Alyssa Murtagh, Ohio University
  • Vice President of Chapter Development: Nicholas Goebel, University of Florida
  • Vice President of Digital Communications: Briana Spears, Millersville University
  • Vice President of External Affairs: Rosa Ambriz, Texas State University
  • Vice President of Member Services: Trevor Rayhons, University of Northern Iowa
  • Vice President of Professional Development: Ashleigh Kathryn, University of South Florida
  • Vice President of Events and Fundraising: Ryan Will, North Carolina State University
  • Immediate Past President: Andrew Cook, Brigham Young University*

*This is a regular transition from the presidency.

About the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communication. Founded in 1968 by its parent organization, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), PRSSA includes more than 10,000 student members and advisers and is active on more than 350 college and university campuses.

Four Ways to Stand Out (In a Good Way) at Your First Job

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From navigating the lunch scene to navigating office politics, a first job can be tricky. You want to find just the right balance of doing your job well without seeming like a suck up. I’m no expert, but I do want to share a few tips I’ve found to be helpful as I navigate my first real job:

Have an opinion

This piece of wisdom floated my way from a mentor who’s worked in communications for over 30 years. Just because you’re the new guy or gal doesn’t mean you have to be quiet. There’s a time for speaking and a time for silence. While it’s extremely important to embody a sponge sometimes — taking in all the newness and expertise around you — recognize that you were hired for a reason. Your insights, thoughts and opinions are company assets, so don’t let them go to waste by being unspoken.

Get to know your coworkers as people

You’re likely spending 40 plus hours in the office each week, sitting next to the same people every day.  Take the time to find out what your coworkers’ lives are like when they’re off the clock. What do they love? What do they hate? What’s their favorite way to goof off or relax? By asking these questions and more, you’ll have a better understanding of who your colleagues are — not just as fellow workers, but as fellow humans. I think you’ll find that this has a catalyst effect when it comes to building trust and empathy. Plus, it’s never a bad idea to gain a little extra social capital by remembering someone’s birthday or wishing them well before they leave for vacation.

Keep a work/life balance

Plenty of people throughout your career will tell you to “say yes to everything.” In my opinion, it’s not the wisest way you can live and here’s why: If you keep saying yes to everything, you’re going to find it harder to flex your crucial muscle of discernment. Instead, you’ll find yourself automatically accepting job assignments and social invitations that are going to wear you out with no substantial gain. To function at your best, you have to create space to recharge and connect. Don’t believe me? Check out this handy PR Daily infographic that explains even more benefits of keeping your weekends free from work.

Do the right thing

At Lockheed Martin, “Do what’s right” is one of our three ethical mottos. (I’m fortunate that it’s also a life motto for me, too.) Lots of times it may be easier to purposefully overlook a small error or choose to end a task before going the extra mile. Hey, nobody’s even going to notice, right? Wrong. The trouble with that thinking is that it doesn’t matter if nobody notices. If you’re not doing the right thing and making choices out of integrity, then you’re not only cheating the company, but also yourself and your coworkers. Instead of “advancing the profession,” you are choosing to take the whole ship down with you.

What advice has been helpful to you at your first job? Or what advice do you wish you would have been given to you?

lauradaronatsy_headshotLaura Daronatsy is the Immediate Past President of PRSSA and currently works as a Communications LDP Associate at Lockheed Martin. She graduated from Biola University with a public relations major and biblical and theological studies minor. Connect with Laura on Twitter @lauradaronatsy.

PRSSA: How to Kick-Start a Relationship with Your PRSA Sponsor Chapter

Editor’s Note: This blog originally appeared on the PRSSA Progressions blog. Whether you’re a college student or a New Pro, it’s important to build strong chapter relationships between PRSA and PRSSA.

The dynamic nature of the public relations profession, coupled with the current market saturation of recent and soon-to-be graduates, requires that students go above and beyond to create meaningful connections and make themselves stand out. One of the most valuable benefits of PRSSA membership is the opportunity to befriend and learn from local PRSA professionals.

The relationship between PRSSA and PRSA Chapters is an important one. PRSA sponsor Chapters provide mentorship, programming and fundraising assistance, training and industry insights, and students preparing for their careers need talented and engaged professionals to emulate. However, the day-to-day rigors of life, school and work can make managing these relationships especially challenging. As a PRSSA Chapter member or leader, here are some things you can do to kick-start your Chapter’s relationship with PRSA:

Help them help you. PRSA members are working professionals and contribute to PRSSA during their limited free time. They’re happy and eager to help, but it’s up to you to reach out and establish the foundation of a relationship. Don’t be afraid of the follow-up and always come prepared to talk about what help your Chapter could benefit from. Many times, PRSA professionals won’t know how to help you create a better member experience until you tell them.

Establish a constant. Because of the high turnover rate in PRSSA leadership, it’s difficult for Chapters to maintain meaningful relationships with PRSA annually. If you really want to leave a mark on your Chapter, create or utilize assets that can stand the test of time. Here are a few examples:

  • Create a tradition that requires your PRSSA Chapter and PRSA sponsor Chapter to interact at least once each year. You can create an event that brings professionals and students together, and allows the professionals to share and mentor. You can draw attention to your Chapter and create networking opportunities by inviting professionals to an entertaining event on-campus: Think (fun)draising, food and professional development.
  • Build a constant into your bylaws. If you take your Chapter’s relationship with its PRSA sponsor Chapter seriously, you will make it part of one of your officers’ duties or create a committee. Someone who is not the Chapter president needs to be responsible for making sure members have access to PRSA members — it’s that essential.
  • Use your Faculty or Professional Adviser to facilitate introductions. These people are tasked with counseling Chapter leadership and guiding members. Your Faculty and Professional Advisers are required to be PRSA members, so they should have ready access to your sponsor Chapter.

Be resourceful. PRSSA National has a wealth of resources available to you, as both a member and a leader. If you’re a Chapter leader and struggling to contact PRSA, you can reach out to: the vice president of professional development, the National Faculty Adviser or any other person on the PRSSA National Committee. Furthermore, consider reading the PRSSA/PRSA Relationship Manual or contacting someone in your area through theChampions for PRSSA directory — an exclusive PRSSA member benefit.

PRSSA members are the future leaders of the communications industry, and will one day be the CCOs and CMOs of the world’s most influential companies. It’s imperative professionals do a better job engaging, and students do a better job asking for that engagement.

gary-bridgensGary Bridgens is a project assistant in APCO Worldwide’s New York office and the former PRSSA National vice president of Chapter development. You can contact him via email at garybridgens@gmail.com and add him on LinkedIn.