Finding a Company Culture That Fits

think about what motivates you, makes you feel comfortable and helps you thrive. (2)

“You’re a catalyst to your own happiness, you know.”

That’s what NONONO says in its song “Pumpin Blood,” and that phrase has stuck with me.

With so many factors in the world that we have control of, we have the ability and responsibility to make our happiness a priority.

So how do you stay happy in the hectic and exhausting field of public relations? Think of what you need in a company culture that will make you happy and successful. Yes, you. Not what your parents want for you, what your friends want or what society says you want because you’re a millennial. What’s going to make you enjoy going to work most days? (Let’s be real, nobody wants to go to work all the time.) What will be an environment you can be successful in?

Are you a cubicle-loving, in-house PR person who wants to work in the automotive industry or maybe someone who likes the fast-paced, open-concept agency that works with consumer products?

It’s all up to you.

There are so many factors that contribute to company culture, so think about what motivates you, makes you feel comfortable and helps you thrive. Come up with a list and write it out, though it may seem tedious, so you have something to refer to.

Once you have built out a list of what you’re looking for, rank the items from top to bottom according to the importance of each. It’s likely you’ll have to make compromises when it comes to your list of ideals, which is why you need to determine what matters most. Then, you’ll be able to match that list against employers you’re interested in working for.

At Piper & Gold Public Relations where I work in Lansing, Michigan, we openly communicate about our company culture and what we call our #Truths that shape it. From our familial office relationships to our persistent mentality of always improving, our twelve #Truths lay out how, what and why we do what we do, as well as why it’s enjoyable at the same time. We created them during a team brainstorming session based on what already existed and have lived by them ever since.

I understand not all businesses have #Truths but most have a distinct culture that they’re willing to discuss with you – so do your research and ask questions about company culture before starting a new gig, your happiness and success may rely on it. After all, new professionals aren’t all about happy hours and foosball tables – we want much more than that.  

hannahHannah 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 and a director at large 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.

The Do’s and Don’ts for Making 2016 YOUR Year

I believe 2016 is going to be a big year. You know what I mean, how some years take much more space in your memory than others when you look back. It’s an overwhelming inkling, like the way you feel a sticky summer breeze and can just know it’s going to rain. Yes, 2016 is going to be a big year. It’s an election year for starters, but I think it’s something in our collective energy that’s buzzing for change. So as we take our early steps into 2016, here are some tips to be more intentional and make sure our efforts go toward making this new year bigger and better than those that came before it.

TAKES

  1. Drink more coffee.

Kidding! Though new health standards say you can have up to five cups a day now. Which is great news for those of us who need a little java courage to tackle early morning segments. So, to good health!

1.5 Don’t check your email/social media pages until an hour after you wake up.

Email, Facebook statuses, news headlines all can have a major affect on your mood, which can alter the way you frame your day. Let yourself have a media-free hour and put the reigns back in your hands. Whether you chose to blast a pump-up morning mix or eat breakfast with your original thoughts. Use the time to touch base with your kick-ass self and start each day with your best foot forward.

  1. Write things down.

This is not just to make your 3rd grade cursive teacher feel validated. Studies show that handwriting notes facilitates memory, cognitive function and also helps with your creative process. (Click here or here for proof.) Maybe it has something to do with how writing in ink relinquishes your ability to backspace, making it a more permanent declaration. Whatever the reason, if handwriting my to-do list could ensure I don’t accidentally skip a thing, I’ll hand-sign myself up for that.

  1. Don’t be afraid of a phone call.

Speaking of going old-school… Humor me. Tap your phone and click on your recent calls; how many outgoing calls did you make besides those to your mother? It’s widely agreed that things like sentiment, sarcasm and even the contents of conversations get shortchanged through text, and yet 90% of the time when presented with both options, we chose the less efficient. Don’t be afraid to dial. An hour-long texting conversation can be communicated more personably over a ten-minute phone call. I mean this for both our personal and professional lives. PR is all about relations. It’s hard to have relations with a digital ghost.

  1. Put effort into “doing you.”   

The worst thing you can do – at any point in your life, not only at the start of the year – is allow yourself to feel comfortable coasting on autopilot. I understand life tends to throw a lot at us and sometimes all you have time for are “survival tactics:” sleep, work, eat, work, Netflix. And that’s fine. We’re at a unique stage in our lives where the effort we put in now can and will shape the course of our careers. But I think we need to stay mindful in making sure we don’t forget to build a life as well. We all have interests besides work that make us tick, and if you can’t remember what those are, go discover them! Be it painting, running, photography, cooking, traveling, guitar etc. Dedicate time for it and don’t lose touch of that part of you. It’ll likely be what sparks your next big idea into a full flame.

The new year can either be seen as another month, no better nor worse than that before it (besides the lack of holiday sweets delivered at your door), or as a wonderful opportunity; to evaluate what we’ve done well, what we maybe didn’t do so well at and set goals (not resolutions) to gradually build on for the months to come. I challenge you to look at 2016 as a blank canvas of opportunity. Choose one thing you’d like to accomplish, professionally or personally, and add a brushstroke each day. It’s going to be a “big year” after all, so don’t be afraid to choose bold colors.

gtzQK8HpMegan O’Neal graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, emphasizing in mass communications. She is currently the PR & Social Media Manager at Marketing Design Group and volunteers with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, freelancing for the public relations department. Connect with her on Twitter @megannenicole.

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 LoveJasPR.com. 

From Superleader to Fly-on-the-Wall: Finding Time for Post-Grad ‘Extracurriculars’

Many ambitious new professionals graduate from college holding past leadership positions through on- and off-campus organizations. They’ve strived to be involved for personal and professional development. Gaining that experience is what sets them apart when finding a job.

But once you’re hired, how and what you stay involved with is a problem many new professionals struggle with. Staying involved and joining professional organizations doesn’t need to be difficult though, and can enhance your career for years to come.

Time is a huge issue holding people back from getting involved with the equivalent of “extracurriculars” after college.

Networking for New ProsNew pros regularly face long hours while trying to balance a social and healthy lifestyle (even more difficult if moving to a new city was involved). The truth is that membership will be what you make of it. Check out the organization you want to join – does it meet bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly — and in person or virtually?

In addition, evaluate how often you’ll want to volunteer: small commitments from a one-time blog post or working check-in at an event are a great way to ease your way into joining a new organization, without the potential stress of undertaking a large event.

Money is another issue that holds people back from staying involved. Many organizations require dues to cover the cost of membership and events, but there are ways to make it affordable. Depending on the organization, there are likely discounts offered for new professionals. In addition, many companies will pay for a portion of professional organization dues, knowing that it will contribute to shaping better employees.

Either way, if organization membership is important to excelling in your career (I’m looking at you, PR pros), it’s worth thinking about setting aside some money for dues as you save for other expenses.

The simple trait of timidness is also enough to slow new professionals from getting involved in groups out of school. From once knowing everyone through four-year involvement in organizations such as PRSSA, it can be daunting to even outgoing individuals to attend a new meeting or networking event.

A text from your roommate to meet for drinks or having just landed a new gig may seem like easy excuses to blow off a first meeting at the organization you looked into, but after going once you could meet a mentor, future colleague or new friend. Getting involved in a professional organization is also a great way to meet industry peers that you can bounce ideas off of and hangout with at conferences. Join a new organization with the goal of listening, before jumping to be the leader.

Wondering what organizations are best to join early in your career? I’d be amiss to not mention joining the New Professionals Section of PRSA. Staying connected to your alma mater by leading an alumni club is also a great way to network and joining a casual-level social sports league can combat work burnout. What do you do to grow your career, develop leadership skills and meet new professionals? I’d love to hear from you.

Hanna-PorterfieldHanna Porterfield is the Newsletter Co-Chair of PRSA’s New Professionals section and an Assistant Account Executive at Development Counsellors International. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 and is actively involved in the alumni club’s New York chapter. Connect with Hanna on LinkedIn and Twitter (@citygirlhanna).

Conquering the Awkward Stage at Work: A Young Pro’s Guide

Being a young professional is hard sometimes. Between work/life balance and climbing the career ladder, it’s a challenge to navigate this stage of life.

Conquering the Awkward Stage at Work: A Young Pro’s GuideAs a young PR professional, hard work alone is not enough to get you noticed. You must learn to build and leverage relationships, develop leadership skills, and stand out amongst your peers to achieve success in the awkward stage between an entry level position and a managerial role.

Here are a few ways to navigate your career when you’re in the stage between recent graduate and mid-level employee, so you don’t feel like you are in career purgatory:

Raise Your Hand

Build your reputation at work by volunteering for side projects or taking on extra responsibility. You want to show your team and bosses that you are willing to take initiative to help the team stay on track, are reliable and engaged in the company, and committed to the growth of your career.

When working on projects out of your day to day task, you are able to network with colleagues in different departments and learn skills that will benefit you in the long run. Your superiors will take note and soon enough you’ll get the promotion you’re dreaming of.

Attend Conferences

The learning doesn’t stop after college. In addition to reading the news and case studies, attend conferences and webinars. There is a wealth of information out there to help you grow as an employee and it’s even better when you can learn from industry professionals.

Conferences and webinars give you the ability to learn about new industry trends, network with professionals of all levels, and hopefully encourage a new way of thinking about your career. As markets evolve, you have to make sure you stay sharp and ahead of the curve.

Join Professional Groups

There is power in numbers and professional groups are a great way to get ahead. Networking opportunities and mentor/mentee relationships are great reasons for joining professional groups but the biggest perk is being able to serve on a committee.

When you are active in an organization, you see the impact of the different functions that make an organization work.

Pick Up a Side Hustle

All work and no play makes John and Jane dull employees. As much as you invest in your career, invest in your passion.

Your side hustle can be anything from doing PR for a local band in your city or planning events for a non-profit you believe in. Stay well rounded and follow your heart. You don’t have to go through a quarter-life crisis!

Speak Up

Don’t be intimidated in meetings and brainstorming sessions; you were hired for a reason so show the team what you can bring to the table. It is your job as a young professional to give a fresh perspective.

Have the confidence to speak up on opportunities a client can take advantage of, share your viewpoints while developing strategies, and most importantly don’t be afraid to ask questions.

The road to success is not a straight one, but you steer the wheel. Taking initiative and developing leadership skills is key to your success as a young professional. Do you have any suggestions on navigating your career when you’re not quite a recent graduate but not yet a manager?

Jasmine 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 LoveJasPR.com.