PR Through The Eyes Of A Young Professional

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Creating Job Experience For The Resume…Without a Job!

In Freelance, Jobs, Lessons Learned, Public Relations, Social Media, Young Professionals on August 5, 2011 at 1:34 am

You have the degree or degrees, but you are still unable to find a job. It’s like a Catch 22: “ How do I get the job experience, if I can’t get the job?” These few tips will help you stay connected to your field even though you aren’t currently working in your field.

Accepting a job outside the field

No matter what type of degree you have you, can pretty much apply it to any industry and it will get you a job. Since we are not in a perfect world, you must be willing to accept a job outside your field, temporarily of course, if you want to sustain your lifestyle.  Employers are looking for actual work experience in addition to education, so if you cannot get it in your desired career field then it is time to get some experience, somewhere. To avoid going too far off base, limit the jobs you’re applying to so that they still meet job duties that are applicable to your career choice. In the communications field you have to know how to adapt and recognize how job descriptions often overlap. Most times, accepting a job anywhere in the field of communications can be used to your advantage when revising your resume to the jobs that are relevant to your career. Whatever you do, do not lose the steam to keep applying or you WILL stay at that job and will never make advances in your passion of choice.

Freelance work

If you say you have a passion  now is the time to show and prove!  There are a lot of up and coming businesses that may or may not have the budget and are unaware of their need for Public Relations or Marketing or Social Media. Go out and make them aware! It is ok to accept a lower pay because at this point your main objective is to continue to stay active in your field so that you can continue to fuel your passion and show those jobs your tenacity and experience.

Social Media

Social Network relationships don’t cultivate themselves. It takes some work on your part, as would any other relationship. Continue to use social networking sites to reach out to potential employers; but don’t forget the most important thing of all…NETWORK!!! Do not network with the  intention of simply  getting a job, but rather, build meaningful relationships with the intentions to connect and offer  information. Posting relevant information about your field or engaging in discussion about topics related to your field can accomplish this.

Reading Materials

So you have you Bachelors and maybe even you Masters. Does that mean you can get away from educational reading? NEVER! Not if you want to be successful. Things are always changing so it is in your best interest to keep abreast with everything that is going on in your field.  Since you aren’t learning these things in the workplace, and you don’t plan on continuing your education in the classroom, then you need to make sure you are being proactive in your attempts to staying to date with information.

So take a moment to ask yourself — Are you being proactive or reactive in pursuing your career? What other tips have you tried to build your work experience and credibility in your field? Do you have any tips for ways to expand the tips that were given? Please share below.

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To Accept or Not to Accept?

In Lessons Learned, Social Media, Young Professionals on July 27, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I think it’s safe to say, we live in a very social society – social networking that is.

No matter who you meet, whether it is at the grocery store or your kids little league game, everybody and their momma (literally – AARP reported seniors are one of the fastest growing users of social media) are networking,  online.

But social networking can be exhausting: friends, followers, connections, +’s, the list goes on; but as a professional how are you managing to keep everyone in their respective categories?? Read the rest of this entry »

Picking A Username: A Guide For The Indecisive

In Lessons Learned, Social Media, Young Professionals on April 29, 2011 at 12:34 am

As somebody who regularly has to deal with a multitude of Twitter accounts, both personal and client-based, I often come across confusion when it comes to the thorny issue of naming your @account.But once you’ve picked the name you want, what else do you need to bear in mind? Here are some tips that people often forget:

Tell People!

This is the most common one I see – change your username and then don’t tell anybody that you’ve done it. I guess it comes about from an (incorrect) assumption that everybody is using a Twitter platform like you do, and that they’ll just be replying to something you’ve tweeted.

But if they sometimes use text messages to tweet, or simply feel like reaching out to you unprompted, not knowing that you’ve changed your @username will most likely result in a big misunderstanding. Save everyone the embarrassment, by telling people. And not just once either, remind them for a few days. The average tweet has a lifespan of 15 minutes, please don’t  assume your followers hang on your every word…

Keep your old username

Once you have your new username, set up a spare account and grab your old username. Then you can put up a tweet saying you’ve moved, maybe even set up an auto-tweet to let people who tweet you know that you have a new home. Simple and pain-free, and saves so much embarrassment if you forget.

Track mentions of the old name

Hopefully you’ll already have saved-searches or more sophisticated tools in use that keep track of mentions of your brand or name. If so, add your now-defunct username to these tools too, so you can make sure you’re not missing out on any messages that might be important.

Get it right the first time

Twitter supports are a lovely bunch, but getting changes made can be a tricky process at times. Try to avoid annoying them by making sure you get things right the first time.

So there you go, three easy tips, some probably fairly obvious, but all should help you make this process as pain-free as possible – not just for you, but for the people following you too!

Reaching Your Professional Greatness

In Education, Internship, Lessons Learned, Public Relations, Young Professionals on April 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

The journey to becoming a certified, verified, and vetted public relations professional is a very intricate and arduous process. MY ultimate goal as a professional is to be seen both within and outside my field as a valuable thought-leader on issues that matter to the advancement of the PR practice and it’s practitioners.

What are your goals as a professional? How are you moving toward achieving your ultimate goals?

The journey of a young pro always begins with finding that first job -and being taken seriously as a professional would be nice too, but that usually comes a little later.  The first few years are about you earning your stripes by spending long nights at the office, doing less than appealing client work, and conducting tasks that may make you ask: Am I still an intern? Or where is the intern?

Despite the struggles of being a new PR pro, establishing or at least thinking about your professional legacy is a must.  Therefore I offer the following tips to help you ascend to professional greatness.

Will they work? Hell,I don’t know.

Nevertheless these are the strategies I’m following, so you are more than welcome to apply them to your own goals wherever you see fit. Plus I would never steer myself wrong!

My Steps Toward Professional Greatness (in no particular order):

1. Define your professional legacy early – it’s never too early to think about the mark you want to leave on your field. Be passionate and proactive.

2. Establish your professional philosophies as soon as possible– as a young PR pro you probably haven’t even considered what your professional philosophies are; but after a few years in the field you should have a firm grasp on what you can offer different than anybody else. Don’t be another cookie cutter pro!

3. Connect with the YOU 10 years from now– having a mentor is still the best resource for any professional- no matter the field. Find a pro that embodies everything you want to be when you reach their years in the field. Know their path and take what you need to make your own.

4. Contribute to the conversation– one of the most valuable tips my mother has ever given me is to always have something to say. As a child/teen I never quite understood what she meant, but now as an adult, I know exactly what she means. Always be able to add value to a topic of conversation. Whether it be as small as asking a question in a meeting, commenting on or penning a blog…or as impactful as joining a board or teaching a class…never be a wall flower.

There are several other tips I could offer but I think that’s enough for now. I want to hear your tips. What steps are you taking to reach your professional greatness?

Please share!

The Professionals Guide to Twitter

In Lessons Learned, Social Media, Young Professionals on February 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm

 

Twitter is addictive, but it also has lots of traps that can lure you into looking unprofessional and lazy. The following guidelines will enable you to be personable and professional.

Cut the Shortcuts

 

Being that it only allow you to express yourself 140 characters at a time , there are appropriate shortcuts for Twitter, but don’t go overboard. Otherwise, no one will be able to understand you, and they may think you’re lazy. Be sure to remember to be clear and concise. You’re not receiving an official grade from your postings, but you are being judged on your grammar mistakes so don’t forget to edit your work. Take a few seconds to review your messages so that you can correct any mistakes.

Pay Attention To Your Brand

Social media is about being honest, not tricking people. On Twitter you maybe able to get away with using a unique username but be sure to put real information on your biography section. In an effort to be even more transparent, be sure to use a real photo of yourself to help others understand who they’re connecting with.

One of the easiest ways for people to decide whether or not they want to follow you is to check your follow ratio. Try to keep it balanced so that you don’t look desperate or like a snob. Also, since you never know who’s watching you on be sure to always promote your absolute best work, not your mediocre stuff. However, when tweeting  your work, do not be so self involved that you forget to share other people’s work. For every tweet you make about yourself, make two or three tweets about someone else’s work or a third party article.

Be assertive but not pushy

While it may be tempting to add your friend’s entire friends list, when circumstances allow, always make sure you are asking friends for introductions. While situations may not always allow you this luxury, in the cases that you share a friend in common take advantage of the opportunity.  You’ll avoid freaking people out if you ask a friend to make an introduction rather than friending people you’ve randomly spotted online.

Please keep in mind that while responding to messages on tweets and DM’s  is common courtesy; you cannot demand a response from anyone. Especially people you don’t know well and you hope to do business with. If you’re never getting any responses back or retweets and still continue to ask, then you’re cyber-stalking . Stop. If your tweet is good enough to share, your followers will retweet it without a desperate plea.

I’m sure most of you PRofessionals are familiar with these guidelines but sometimes its easy to get comfortable and slip into bad habits. Remember these are social netWORKs and  your always on the job. Being professional is a must so remember to continue putting fourth effort in everything that you do.

 

 

 

The Young Professionals Guide To Social Networks

In Lessons Learned, Social Media, Young Professionals on February 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm

People use social networks impulsively. It becomes an outlet for many things, whether it is to network, keep in touch, find out more information, or just to vent! What young professionals should keep in mind at all times is the overall impact information released on these sites can have on their lives – personally and professionally. Here are some general guidelines to adhere to that will help maintain a healthy social network image.

When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong

Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to being a professional, it is ok to be yourself on social networks. No one expects you to be a professional 24 hours a week 365 days a year. It is expected that on the other side of that blackberry, android, or computer is a human being and not every day is going to be a good day. Those you connect with on social networks will appreciate this and may also be able to connect with you on those feelings. However it is important to be conscious of how much of ‘you’ should be revealed. Just because you’re having a bad day does not mean that you should use offensive language or offer uncomfortable details of your experiences. The best rule of thumb is if you would not use derogatory language in a professional setting, it probably should not be posted on social networks either. PERIOD. Remember that you’re always ‘on’ in social media realm, and somebody is ALWAYS watching. Don’t give them a show, you might regret in the future.

Be A Friendly Follower

One golden rule that we should all be very familiar with by now; “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” By doing this on social networks you’ll develop a reputation for being a worthy friend and follow who other users will want to pass along to their network. Keep in mind that both good news and bad news travels fast, so always be prepared to make a good impression. You wouldn’t make a nasty comment to a person you just met at work or school would you? In fact I bet you’d probably go above and beyond to seem friendly and helpful. Apply that same attitude to your social media activity. Keep in mind that once you’ve established a relationship with an online contact, you can ask for advice or help, but be prepared to reciprocate these efforts. But don’t abuse those privileges by logging on just to ask people to do something for you.

Quality Over Quantity

You can earn respect on social media sites by offering quality, accessible information in a friendly way. Share relevant links, commentary and helpful advice. However, if you’re on social media sites constantly, you’ll burn yourself out and possibly annoy other people. Find a balance so that you’re making quality contributions to the discussion, not dominating it. As we know “your network is you net worth”. You’ll never broaden your network if you don’t connect with people outside of your circle and comfort zone. Be willing to open yourself up to all types of followers and friends. But keep in mind you can’t be friends with everyone online – keep it professional; trying to do so will make you crazy and it will give your timeline sensory overload! Make educated, intentional and meaningful connections.

These guidelines will help maintain your social media image. The reality is it matters more how people truly view  or perceive you then how you THINK they view you. Those that befriend you on social networks are not privy to knowing everything about you so you must be mindful of what they do see and conduct yourself in a personal yet professional manner. If you have not done this prior to now, do not be discouraged, it is never too late to develop good habits. In the words of Maya Angelou “When you know better, you do better”

Be sure to look for my next post entitled “Breaking Down The Networks” for guidelines on Twitter and Facebook specific rules!

You’ve Got The Job….Now What?!

In Internship, Jobs, Public Relations, Social Media, Specialty, Uncategorized, Young Professionals on April 19, 2010 at 8:23 pm

So maybe your job search was easy or maybe it was….trying (raises hand). But no matter the time length, you’ve been luckily or savvy enough to land a job in your field. Now what?

Do you stop networking?

Do you stop receiving job postings from Careerbuilder, Paladin, Doostang, etc?

Do you stop reading articles and industry news?

Do you run in the middle of the street and do your happy dance?

Answer: No. No. No. Hell Yeah!!! Read the rest of this entry »

Looking for a job in PR? Here’s where to start!

In Education, Internship, Jobs, Specialty, Young Professionals on April 6, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Continuing with our guest blogger series, we have recruited another up and coming PR professional that is making some real progress in the field – Sophia Alfred…

Graduated? Have Experience? Looking for a Job in PR? Where to Start!

You may have a Bachelors, a Masters, or maybe just straight experience. In school you may have learned the fundamentals  public relations or you may have learned how to write a research paper. But I don’t remember a single time where I was taught how to look for a job! It has been drilled in us as PR professionals to network, network, and network so more! While that is probably one of the best ways to find a job- it can’t possibly be the only way, right? What if you don’t have connections in the specialty you want to explore? Or there are no openings… anywhere? What do you do, where do you start? Read the rest of this entry »

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

Finding Your PRofessional Niche

In Internship, Jobs, Public Relations, Social Media, Specialty, Young Professionals on February 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm

One of the hardest things for me as a young professional has been trying to identify my professional niche. Entertainment, health care, technology, education, …. So many to choose from.

The weird thing is, I’ve never had a specific specialty that I wanted to focus on within public relations. As a student in college I was simply enamored by the concept of PR. After realizing how powerful public relations could be, I immersed myself in learning as much as I could.  In regard to identifying a specialty, I assumed it would come with time and experience.

During my time in the profession, I have encountered several fellow  practitioners who also share my “generalist” approach to identifying a specialty. Most PRofessionals are satisfied with this approach because it doesn’t limit them in their field. The “well-rounded” strategy is the best, and it is the road I’ve taken in securing my status as a truly dedicated practitioner.

But there are several professionals who feel lost without having a specialty to focus on. But if you MUST, here are some things you may want to consider while on your search:

1. Various Internships: Prior to obtaining  full-time employment try doing as many internships  as you can in different areas of PR (at least three) to get a variety of experiences. Hopefully you will be able to identify one or more areas you find most interesting.

2. Agency Job: If you aren’t able to get as many internships as you would like while in school, then try seeking employment at an agency where they have a variety of practices. Working at an agency generally gives you an opportunity to work with  different clients and teams, allowing you to have your hand in various projects.

3.  Your Passion: What are you passionate about?  If you have always been interested and knowledgeable in the music or fashion industry, try collaborating your professional passion with your personal passion. Work will never feel like work again.

If you apply these 3 little tips I am confident you will be on the right path to identifying your PRofessional specialty.  Yet I insist that you don’t stress yourself about finding one specific area.  You will be more marketable to employers if you’ve had a variety of experiences, thus not limiting yourself professionally.

One of my favorite quotes:

To find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then to work hard at it, is about as near to a formula for success and happiness as the world provides. One of the fortunate aspects of this formula is that, granted the right career has been found, the hard work takes care of itself. Then hard work is not hard work at all.

Mark Sullivan(1874 – 1952)