twitter… My Top 3 Handles for Keeping Up with PR Trends by Janet Krenn

Keeping up with the trends means that you stay relevant, and developing those good habits now will only help in the future. (It may be hard to believe, but one day, when we’re not the New Pros, we’ll have to stay on top of what the newbies know!)

I end up reading several blogs, pubs, and papers to keep up on PR trends, but I also use Twitter to keep up with PR trends. Here’s my favorite top 3 people or organizations that I follow to stay up to date on PR trends:

  • @Mashable – When it comes to social media news, Mashable has been my fail-safe source! This blog posts so often, the only way I can keep up, is to follow them on Twitter.
  • @PRSAtactics – Getting Tactics in the mail is one of my favorite PRSA benefits. Reading about the trends and news before it hits print, is only better.
  • the New Pros of PRSA list – OK, it isn’t a handle per se, but I do glean some interesting ideas off of my fellow New Professionals of PRSA as they tweet personal and professional news. (I also get to know you all better!) If you’re a New Pros of PRSA member, you can join the list by making a request to join on our eGroup. (Only members can access the eGroup, and only members can be included on the list!) If you’re not a New Pros of PRSA member, you can become a member and then request to join the Twitter list, or just follow us!

Of course, this list is very short.

Who do you follow on Twitter to stay up-to-date on PR trends? (Shameless self promotion is only acceptable if you tweet PR issues and trends most of the time!)

JANET KRENN is the 2010 Chair of the New Professionals of PRSA. She also “hosts” the New Pros of PRSA Twitter list! You can contact her at janetqs(a) or @janetkrenn, but remember, to get on the New Pros Twitter list, you must respond to the eGroup posting to prove you are a member.

communication and pr… Three Things I Do to Improve My Communication Abilities by Janet Krenn

In The Public Relations Strategist, I recently read an article called: “Leading in Tough Times” by David Grossman (APR, Fellow of PRSA, and CEO of The Grossman Group). The article had several bits of interesting information, but one point stuck with me. Grossman points out that just because you write or talk doesn’t mean that you are communicating.

“If your audience isn’t understanding you, then it doesn’t matter what you are saying. Communication happens in the mind of the listener,” Grossman writes. In other words, the difference between writing and communication is how well you’ve reached your audience.

For people who aren’t in public relations or journalism, this concept is just about completely foreign! In school, other departments teach students to write in academic prose, which is typically too wordy with too many clauses and too stilted for consumption by the average individual. Just because you communicate well with an academic, doesn’t mean that you are communicating well overall.

In my opinion (and I don’t believe this is original thought, but maybe just difficult to determine to whom to attribute it), there are three things we can do to better communicate with a general audience:

1. Prune
How many times have I written useless words in this article? “Just”, “so”, the list continues. Trimming back these useless words and some redundant sentences would make any written piece more understandable. As William Zinsser, author of “On Writing Well”, wrote “It won’t do to say that the snoozing reader is too dumb or too lazy to keep pace with the train of thought. My sympathies are with him. If the reader is lost, it is generally because the writer has not been careful enough to keep him on the path.”

2. Practice
We all practice writing at work–it’s part of the job! But what do you do to practice when you’re not in the office? Later, I might practice by writing a long update email to some friends or by adding to the pages of my neglected journal. Right now, I’m practicing by writing this blog post. If you’re looking for more ways to practice your writing and communication, New Professionals members can also write for this blog. (Contact me if you’re interested.)

3. Read
It’s no secret that the best writers are enthusiastic readers. Now, we find so many sources of content, narrowing down options has become tough. Hundreds-of-thousands of books are published each year, and maybe as many blogs are posted each day. Then you have newspapers, social media. So how do you find what to read? On top of my work-related updates on Google Reader, the dailies, and the weeklies, I typically take recommendations from magazines, friends, or colleagues. (Did you notice that your New Pros group has been reading and discussing 3 books during our “Summer Book Club”? It’s not too late to participate in the August’s book “Crush it!; we’ll discuss the book on the blog during the first two weeks of next month.)

What about you? How well do you think you communicate with your intended audience? Do you have tips or tricks that keep you on your game?

JANET KRENN is the 2010 Chair of the New Professionals of PRSA and will be hosting the “CRUSH It!” discussion during our Summer Book Club in August. You can contact her at janetqs(a) or @janetkrenn.

Intro to Series… Agency PR by Adrienne Bailey

As you can imagine, agency life is exceptionally eventful, fast paced, and extremely rewarding.  Unlike other areas of public relations, you are constantly working with numerous clients in a wide array of industries. A typical work week can vary depending on deadline, events, client projects, and journalists’ needs—no two weeks are ever the same. Often, you may be working on several accounts at a time; each requiring just as much attention as the others. Being able to effectively allocate enough time to each account is essential to meeting client’s needs and exceeding expectations.

Due to the fast paced atmosphere, it is imperative to think quickly on your feet. The flair to provide swift and meticulous responses and work at the drop of a hat comes from a true understanding of the evolving industry and your client’s business. As agency people, we are constantly researching, keeping with the news and latest trends, and bringing new, unique ideas to the table. The work environment is extremely conducive to learning and collaboration—and while there may be a laid back feel, people are constantly working hard to stay ahead of the game.

What kinds of things would you expect to do working for a PR agency?

While general tasks may vary based on the client, agency work in PR does involve a great deal of pitching, writing, planning, creating, and collaboration! Agency pros are regularly educating the media and the public on a wide variety of topics by effectively sharing stories in a compelling manner. My work involves consistently developing newsworthy and unique angles to pitch to the media, educating clients on social media and Web 2.0, landing placements in targeted platforms to ensure the message is reaching the right people, and much more. Taking the time to do thorough research and personalize your correspondences with editors and journalists is vital to developing great relationships. In my experience, I have come to recognize and develop several skills needed for success in an agency: persistency, organization, urgency, commitment and the ability to multi-task are just a few.

What kinds of challenges could you face working for a PR agency?

Regardless of your industry, challenges are something we face each and every day. A few challenges in the agency work include:

  • Keeping up with not only the public relations industry, but the industries of our clients
  • Work and life balance is a bit tricky- especially with the amount of professional development needed at any level
  • Pressure to bring cutting-edge ideas to our clients on a consistent basis
  • Staying atop the evolution of technology and ensuring integration when necessary
  • Being able to deliver metrics and accurate measurement of our efforts
  • Helping clients and potential new business prospects understand our industry’s work and value
  • Multi-tasking between current accounts and potential new business

What kinds of courses would be beneficial to someone working for a PR agency?

Outside of the general courses in PR and Journalism, courses in

  • marketing,
  • business,
  • economy
  • public speaking
  • various cultures and second languages

Adrienne Bailey, Account Executive at Y&L PR- a division of Young and Laramore, 2009 Butler University graduate.

Summer Book Club… Get Ready! Discussion Begins the First Friday of June

Remember summer reading? Like it or not, extracurricular reading ensures that you stay on top of your game, and as New Pros, anything we can do to keep ourselves more knowledgeable than expected will only benefit us.

Enter the New Pros of PRSA Summer Book Club!

We invite you to join us and our members as we read and discuss 3 books this summer.

Here’s how it will work: From June through August, everyone interested is invited to read the month’s book selection. On the first two Fridays of each month, we will post interviews with authors, discussion questions, and other things to the blog. You can participate by reading and commenting or simply following along.

Start your reading engines

Here are the books we plan to include in this summer’s Book Club: (Remember, the discussion will take place on the first and second Fridays in June; so make sure you have a copy of the June selection and start reading before then!)

Vote for the August book by May 31

You can help us choose which book we should read in August. Vote on our Facebook Page by May 31. Here are your options:

career advice… Real People Think This is OK When Job Hunting, but It’s Not by Janet Krenn

I’ve been completely astounded by the way that people act in networking and job-hunting situations; and I start to wonder, how could any rational person think that this is OK?

The only way I can explain it? These crazy interactions must be the unhappy result of someone misapplying generic advice. Here are real stories of bad networking behavior that I have witnessed along with the four bits of generic networking and job hunting advice that I want to bring to your attention. By all means, apply these pieces of advice, but please do so with a healthy amount of restraint!

Generic Advice #1: Don’t be afraid to take a risk.
How much “risk” should you as a job hunter take? Risk can indicate that you are a leader or that you are confident. But if the risk turns out to be a disaster, you may come off as arrogant or reckless.

Bad Application: Taking a risk without considering whether the risk will give you the desired outcome.
Once I was at a trade show with our CEO. A newly minted graduate and now intern planted himself in our exhibit space. While the CEO was off talking with someone else, the recent grad indicated to me that he thought our company was interesting and inquired whether we were hiring. We weren’t right now, I told him, but if he’d like to drop off a resume, we’d hold onto it. He walked away, but when he came back, he didn’t have a resume–He had redesigned the company logo and started pitching his unsolicited redesign to the CEO.

Generic Advice #2: Don’t be afraid of networking! Get your name out there. Show your face.
When I lament to my boyfriend that my bike needs some work, but I didn’t know where to take it. He says in reply, “Oh, if only there was some international network of information that you could use to find this out!”  There is no excuse for walking into any prospective partner, employer, or client’s office as if you were conducting a “cold call”.

Bad Application: Contacting an individual about whom you know nothing.
The other day, a job hunter walks into my office and asks, “Do you know who the expert is in XYZ?” and then “What can you tell me about him?” This gent wanted to establish a partnership with someone at my company, and assumed that just because I had a desk on campus that I was going to have answers for him. When I told him I didn’t know who he should talk to, he asked that I look into it and email him. Which brings me to #3…

Generic Advice #3: Ask for help.
Finding a job is work. You can probably look to your close friends and colleagues to help you drum up business or interviews. Be careful whom you ask for help.

Bad Application: Asking others to carry you.
When you ask for assistance from someone who doesn’t know you better, you run the risk of looking unambitious or lazy, and once you’ve made that impression, you have a slim chance that that connected individual will want to recommend you for an interview.

Generic Advice #4: Contact the hiring manager before you submit your resume. Ask questions during your interview.
The questions you ask a hiring manager could make you appear thoughtful and intelligent. The caveat is: In order to appear thoughtful and intelligent, your questions need to be thoughtful and intelligent. Walking into a networking situation or a job interview, you should already know why you want to be there.

Bad Application: Asking a company to tell you how you could benefit from this position.
Don’t contact a hiring manager and ask her to justify why you should want the job. This seems obvious, right? I’m only bringing it up, because I’ve seen it happen more than once. If you don’t know why you should want the job, don’t waste anyone’s time. Don’t apply, and don’t bother the hiring manager. You never know when that hiring manager will be posting a job you are interested in, and you don’t want to have that first negative interaction hanging over your head.

JANET KRENN has never been a hiring manager, and even so, she’s seen some job hunters doing some wacky things. She is also the 2010 Chair of the New Professionals of PRSA. You can contact her at janetqs(a) or @janetkrenn.