PR Through The Eyes Of A Young Professional

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Young PRos and The Recession: It’s Our Time To Shine!

In Freelance, Internship, Jobs, Public Relations, Specialty, Uncategorized, Young Professionals on March 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

As a young PR professional most of us know someone who is unemployed or you may be out of work yourself. It is an unfortunate situation to say the least but this may be the best time to hone your skills. When you graduated college, you probably thought “I am going to go on a few interviews, get a great PR job, and rule the world.” Fooled You! Mister Economy said “You are going to graduate from school and interview until your tongue falls out and then get so fed up that you leave good ole PR behind and venture off into no mans land.” Don’t listen to him; don’t listen to all the unemployment rates on television. Keep moving forward!

During this trying period of unemployment, it is very important that you stay relevant, especially as a young PRo because we don’t have as much professional experience on our resume as the average seasoned PRo. Therefore, you will need to stay more active than ever. Soon you will begin to feel as if you actually have a full time job but without the perks.

I’m sure everyone has said network, network, network; it’s true we do have to network but what is networking when you have done absolutely nothing to build your skills during your job search? Most companies say they want a self starter, not only does that mean be a self starter in the workplace but you also have to be proactive with your everyday life. Look around you… Ask yourself, “How can I make use of my skills?” Below are a few pointers that will help you to build your professional portfolio:

  • PR  Job Descriptions

What do 98 percent of PR jobs ask of a future employee? Writing, writing is always key. Write an opinion editorial for your local newspaper to see if you can get published, keep trying until you do get published. Start a blog, not only are you creating your own personal brand but you are also getting that creative writing practice. Also, don’t forget about those books you spent a million dollars on in college, use those books to support whatever you write.

  • Your Inner Circle

Look at the people around you. Maybe someone in your circle is trying to start a business or build their personal brand, offer your PR services to them. You will be surprised at how many people don’t, for example, have a Facebook page but are trying to push themselves as an accomplished author. Create an initial strategic communications plan for your project, believe me they will be grateful to receive these free services and it also gives you an opportunity to prove yourself; you never know who others know.

  • Professional Development

Look for ways to gain professional development that would normally be paid for by an employer.  If you have experience in search engine marketing or you are looking to get a job that has a SEM component then it doesn’t hurt to get a Google Certification. You can also take if upon yourself to take a writing or HTML class or workshop at your local community college.

These are only a few ways to stay relevant while waiting to lock down that dream job. You will find that you have actually contributed to the work experience you already have on your resume.  When asked that question, “So, what have you been doing while you have been searching for jobs?” You can actually say you have been doing something to build your PR expertise and not just the typical. “I have been waiting tables,” you are able to say “I have been developing my PR skills by doing… along with my recession job.”

In my previous blog posting, I said “The great recession has made me greater,” always strive for greatness in whatever you do and be confident at what you do.

Do what you can, where you are, and with what you have!

Teddy Roosevelt

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Ashley Marshall #HAPPO Washington D.C./Atlanta

In Jobs, Public Relations, Young Professionals on February 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm

The great recession has made me greater. The unprecedented economic crisis was shocking, but rewarding all the same.  After receiving an advanced degree from a top tier school and working one year on K Street, surely this had propelled me on a firm career path. However, I have had to be very innovative and do a lot of creative brainstorming to stay relevant as a new professional. From consulting a religious organization on social media practices to working on a campaign to continue to hone my public relations expertise; I have had to think outside of the box within the past year.  For this reason it is so important to form and maintain strong relationships. My long standing relationship with Disney has resulted in me co-hosting a school assembly called “Move It,” which spreads the Disney brand to Atlanta area schools through exercise while still searching for full time professional opportunities.

As a recent graduate of Georgetown University with a Masters degree in corporate communications and public relations, I completed a public affairs internship at one of Washington D.C.’s top K street public affairs firms, Adfero Group where I gained invaluable experience. As apart of the Adfero team I worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, The American Institute of Architects, and many congressional offices on Capitol Hill. This experience provided me with much relationship building expertise such as written communications, new media, web-based research, website development, developing communications strategies, advocacy campaigns, and Internet advertising analysis. My impressive work at Adfero Group resulted in my semester long internship being extended for one year.

My resume can offer you a more detailed analysis of my experience. Although I currently reside partly in Atlanta and Washington D.C., I am open to exploring other locations. I am confident my abilities and experience can substantively contribute to an organization while increasing my experience in public relations. They always say the best laid plans often change. While the great recession is certainly unexpected it has enhanced my skills and expanded my creativity.

http://twitter.com/MsAshley08

Prove It To Me!

In Corporate Social Responsibility, Public Relations on February 10, 2010 at 5:06 am

I like to shop, just like many other women, I also like a good deal. For this reason my frugal wallet and I graced the aisles of H&M the other day. As usual I browsed through the euro-centric apparel hoping a shirt would jump out and tell me to buy it.

Bingo!

I had found yet another shirt to add to my collection of “seemingly unique but similar to all my other tops” shirt. I then proceed to the register with my new find and the cashier asks, “Would you like to make a donation to help the victims in Haiti, H&M will match all donations made.” Without thinking twice I responded, “No thank you,” and proceeded to check out.  

When the cashier asked that simple but heavy question, I could just see my donation sitting on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia in a tightly tied bag waiting for recycle pick up because they had too much of it. Many of you may remember the embarrassing New York Times article about the clothing giant’s flagrant behavior toward an influx of unworn clothes.  

Money On The Ground Royalty Free Stock Images

Yes, the company made a reactionary statement to show they are in fact a very charitable organization. But, what about people like me? People who will shop at H&M but will never donate to H&M for fear their donation may be in vein or for the people will no longer shop at H&M at all. This may be troglodytic of me because everyone deserves a second chance, but here is the number one question… How do you get that second chance? How do you go back to that untainted place in the consumer’s mind when you were the best retailer ever?

This is a hard question but holds a simple answer… Maintain VISIBILITY! You may say you are a very charitable organization, but I want to see it especially after tossing tons clothes.  For example Disney’s “Give a Day Get a Day” program is a great way for people to get out and get involved to improve the communities around them on behalf of Disney.

Get out there in the local communities in which your stores or organization reside. It only takes a consumer one second to categorize your organization as untrustworthy. In the mind of a few consumers your organization may be dead forever, but in the process of building your charitable appearance you will most likely gain back the trust of most of your consumers and new consumers as well.  

We all know how important a company’s appearance is in maintaining the customer. Therefore after a big let down, we do not want to have to change the brand image of a company just to maintain the customer. I want to be able to grow tired of seeing your organization and how charitable it really is. It’s almost like having a person apologize to you a million times before you give in.

As for H&M, I will shop there but I will not give my money to H&M on behalf of any cause. Prove to me you are who you say you are!

CSR in the Face of a Crisis

In Corporate Social Responsibility on January 20, 2010 at 4:03 am

Every other Television channel in the past week has had something about the tragedy in Haiti and ways you can lend a helping hand. Driving down the street I saw billboards on ways I can help with the crisis in Haiti. You could even observe the Corporate Social Responsibility efforts of various companies on many of your news stations and the large sums of money they choose to give.

Money is always one of the best gifts  you can give anyone in the face of a crisis or just as a plain birthday or Christmas gift because only the “gift receiver” knows what he/she really needs. However, when you look back on your life and think about your parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, etc… what do you think about? You think about past times you may have spent with those people. TIME is one of the most valuable gifts you can give anyone because there simply is just not enough of it.

I recently heard the simple but very meaningful phrase “give what cost you the most.” It’s not saying give your whole life savings but rather give something that you are going to miss. When it comes to giving some people may give clothes they no longer want, year-old can goods from the pantry they never plan to eat, or the two dollars they will probably never think about again. Instead of giving the old can goods, why not include something you may plan to eat during the week?

From my personal observation the giving efforts from not only the United States but around the World has been immense in helping Haitians during their time of need. I began to think, I may not have the necessary resources to actually go to Haiti and lend my helping hand but if given the opportunity I would definitely give my time to assist with the overwhelming need.

When you think of a company, what is one of their most valuable assets? Their employees of course.  Employees keep a company running and generate income for the company they work for. As a person working in the public relations or communications department of a company one of your jobs may be using your creative juices to ponder up ways to improve the CSR efforts of your company. While watching CNN earlier in the week I saw the amount of money many organizations gave to aid the efforts in Haiti and often this money went to nonprofits that usually respond to all types of crisis around the world.

I thought why not take these CSR efforts a step further in the face of a crisis. As discussed earlier, I came to the conclusion that time is the most valuable resource, whether personal or professional. As an example many companies gave one million dollars to aid Haitians. Companies are able to take these efforts a step further if they use a small portion of the money to sponsor a few willing and trusting employees to personally go over to Haiti and contribute their time on behalf of his/her organization. As a representative of your company you may get there and do something as little as comforting a child while his family is being located or locating formula for a mother to feed her newborn. I’m sure that the individual you helped will remember you because you were there in their most despeserate hour.

 Of course this may not be the best time to push your companies brand in a country that has just experienced one of the worst natural disasters to date. However since you are in this country representing your company then you will most likely have some type of company logo visible to the natural eye to differentiate yourself from the other groups giving aid. Therefore, you never know what people know, notice, or remember about you. A person from a different organization doing a similar job as you may take notice or even the Haitian citizen standing a few feet from you watching you comfort a child may be observing you. Naturally these people will associate your positive efforts with the organization you represent. It may only be one, two or hundreds of people that take notice but whatever the number, people are associating your company with a positive image and not with just the business aspect.

If the time of your employees is one the components that makes your organization run efficiently then why not sacrifice that in the face of a crisis, especially if this could be beneficial to your company in the future. Take your CSR efforts a step further and lend that personal touch to those who really need it, not only are you helping someone but you are also helping your company to continue to prosper in the end.