PR Through The Eyes Of A Young Professional

Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations’

It’s NOT a Hobby, It’s Freelance!

In Freelance, Jobs, Lessons Learned, Public Relations on August 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

 

In my previous posting I discussed how freelance work contributes to your ability to strengthen your skills and credibility while on the job hunt. Now the question becomes, “How do I put this on a resume?” This issue can be overwhelming for applicants. While you don’t want it to seem like the job you are applying for isn’t your main focus, you also don’t want to underestimate your experience in your field. From my experience it is important to let employers know that you are driven and dedicated to your field. Many employers will be impressed by your proactive approach to stay connected to the field. Here are a few tips on how to list your experience.

List infrequent projects cautiously

If you pick up freelance projects infrequently and do not intend to make freelancing a full time career, omit them from your resume. The only time you would list occasional freelance work is if it allows you to fill any gaps in your professional experience.

If you freelance regularly, have worked as a contractor for a period longer than three months, or have ever owned your own business, indicate that experience on your resume. Highlight those attributes of the job experience that qualify you as a perfect candidate for the job that you are seeking.

List your job responsibilities in the same way that you would for any other full-time job you’ve held; focus on those responsibilities which best meet your career objective and quantify your achievements when possible. Exemplify your self-starter attitude under the Qualifications section of your resume. Make sure to list any employable skills you have acquired or strengthened while you were self employed.

Be prepared for the following questions

Even after you have listed the details of your employment on your resume, you may still get several questions from your potential employer about them. Questions may be along the following lines:

  • Were you self-employed because you were in between jobs, or because you wanted to start your own business?
  • Are you still working on your own, as a freelancer or a consultant? If so, do you intent to continue this work in addition to your full time job?
  • Is your self-employment presenting a conflict of interest for the company?
  • Are you working as a freelancer or a contractor on part-time basis, and never intend to have this replace full-time employment?
  • Does your long-term career goal include owning your own business?

You can see that all of these questions are valid from your potential employer’s point of view. Companies don’t want to spend the time and resources to hire you, train you and provide you with benefits only to have you quit after a year to start your own business.

Show your commitment to the job

As a final indication of your commitment to the job you are seeking. Make sure that your cover letter or email addresses anticipated concerns of your potential employer. Make references to anything on your resume that may raise questions. If you still own your own business, but are looking for full-time work, for example, make sure to let your employer know what your long-term professional goals are and how you intend to balance your roles at both businesses.

Avoid apologizing for how you make an income. Your resume and cover letter should present you as a credible and passionate professional. Focus on the positive experiences and skills you have acquired as a freelancer, and make sure to let the employer know how these will benefit the company if you are their chosen candidate.

 

Group Discussion: Help, I’m Trapped! or Am I?

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Every month, the New Kids on the Block writers will ditch the traditional blog posts and open the floor for discussion to our readers.  We will present a topic or issue that commonly conflicts public relations professionals and allow YOU to offer your best advice to fellow practitioners.  We are only one voice. Sometimes 10 heads are better than 1. So jump in!

Here’s this week’s  discussion topic: Read the rest of this entry »

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!

We’re Back!!!

In Public Relations, Uncategorized on February 1, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Yes, after a 5 month hiatus, New Kids on the Block is BACK!!

We promise our lack of presence hasn’t been been in vain. We’re introducing brand new writers, fresh content, and so much more.

We invite you to join the conversation and become a part of the New Kids on the Block community.

If you’re a ‘New Kid on the Block’ practicing PR, marketing, social media, or any other communications discipline, who would be interested in contributing a post,  just let us know! We’d be happy to have you!

Stay tuned for more great posts!

Peace, NKOB

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 »

A Masters Is the New Bachelors

In Education, Internship, Jobs, Public Relations, Specialty on March 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm

In order to keep our content fresh and interesting, we have decided to allow other new and young PRos to serve as guest bloggers in order to share their experience and insight. Enjoy!

This week’s guest blogger is Shannon Smith:

Now more than ever, recent graduates who hold a Bachelors degree are feeling pressured to stay in school to pursue their Masters. Most people feel that a B.A. today is the equivalent of having a high school diploma and more employers are beginning to require a higher degree. The Census Bureau data shows us that typically young adults with Master’s degrees earn about $10,000 more a year than those only having a bachelor’s degree.  At times having a Masters degree is almost essential to ensuring progression on the corporate ladder of success. This may be a lot of pressure and overwhelming for recent graduates, especially those who are eager to get their careers started.

The cost, type of program and school are all issues that can contribute to creating more stress for recent college graduates. Especially those who decide to go straight through without taking a break. I believe if you create a sound and realistic plan for entering graduate school, your anxiety levels will be greatly minimized.

5 Important P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Q. How can I pay for graduate school?

The grants and scholarships at the graduate level are not always as plentiful as they are in the undergraduate level. Student loans aren’t always readily available at the graduate level; however loans are not always the desired options, especially for those that have an outstanding debt from undergraduate school.  For those not interested in loans may find it beneficial to research graduate assistantships or fellowships. Most schools have them and many are willing to cover majority  if not all tuition fees. On occasion stipends may also be available.

Q. How do I know what school is right for me?

It is imperative to pick a college that provides the program you are interested in. Try not to pick a college based off convenience because you may find that they do not offer the program you REALLY want. You will only hurt yourself in the long run. Most people pick programs that will concentrate on a specific component that is included within the discipline of their Bachelors degree. However this is also an opportunity for those who are interested in another area to shift their focus.

The best way to avoid a burn out during graduate school is to continue to make short term and long term goals while constantly engaging in small projects that will help you achieve those goals. Do not let temporary situations overwhelm you and make you lose focus on lifetime achievements. While in school you should continue to follow up on all internship, job, and networking opportunities available to you. It is crucial to incorporate your education with real world experience because that is ultimately what employers looking for. Not only do they want you to have knowledge, they also want to see you use the information in action. Your ability to  apply your knowledge will make you a stand-out candidate for any position.

Obtaining your Masters Degree will seem less overwhelming once payment arrangements and a school has been chosen. Try following these steps and staying focused on your future goals to lessen your anxiety about graduate school. Remember: Planning is crucial!

Shannon Smith has a strong foundation in the communication field. A graduate from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications.She has completed an internship at WFLD/Fox Chicago in the production department for the Fox New in the Morning Show as well as an Online Marketing internship with Urbanwire.tv. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in Media Studies which she will complete in August 2010. She currently serves as the proud and dedicated co-owner of Howard Smith & Associates PR which keeps her pretty busy. Feel free to contact her at ssmith@howardsmithpr.com.

Young PRos and Freelance: 5 Tips Before You Take The Leap

In Freelance, Jobs, Lessons Learned, Public Relations, Young Professionals on February 16, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Chances are if you’re a young professional ( 1-3 yrs exp.) working in marketing, public relations,  advertising, or any other communications discipline, you haven’t done much in the world of freelance. Freelance/Contract work is traditionally a niche community made up of  professionals who have been practicing in the field for some time and are looking to have more creative control over their work. Some freelance work also may be done in order to earn extra income . Whatever the case , the freelance world is generally not the place where you will find many young professionals.

However due to the economy, there are more qualified professionals than there are available jobs. Traditionally PR, for example, is a very transit field. However hiring freezes and low client budgets has brought everything to a screeching halt. Nevertheless in light of this reality, several young professionals such as my co-author , my Twitter Buddy Keeyana Hall and myself included, have taken that leap of faith into the world of freelance.

Having not been fortunate enough to secure FT employment right out of graduate school, I have remained resilient and dedicated to my craft by becoming a freelancer/contractor and using the skills I’ve acquired.

No use wasting all that education and training… LOL.

Deciding to become a freelancer, as a young professional, is not a step that should be taken lightly. I guarantee your novelty to the field will  be tested, therefore it is imperative that you be ADEQUATELY prepared. 

Here are 5 Tips (in no particular order) I think every young professional should remember before taking on any freelance assignments. I would also encourage them to continue to engage these tips throughout their career.

  1. 1. Know your strength: As a professional you MUST know in what areas your strength and weakness lie.  It is safe to say:  “You Don’t Know Everything!” ;and it is important that you don’t pretend to. However you should definitely be cognizant of what you do well. But more importantly you should know the basics. For example as a PR pro you should know how to write and format press releases and  how to clearly and definitely answer “What is PR exactly?” and “How can it help MY business?” when someone (and they will) asks.
  2. Be Confident:  The worst thing any pro can do is seem hesitant and unsure of their work. No one will know you only have two years experience working in the field (internship and PRSSA  experience mostly) unless you tell them.  Remain confident in yourself and it will show through your work. One of the greatest leaps of faith you will take as a practitioner is going out on your own, professionally, without supervision. Being your own boss is a very powerful feeling.
  3. Form an Advisory Committee: As I mentioned prior, no one is great at everything, especially a young pro. Therefore I recommend creating a small team of people who you can brainstorm with, help you edit materials, and even  pitch a reporter or two just to help. This team should  consist of  a professional mentor,   an educational colleague, and a more experienced professional in your field.  I guarantee these people will be essential to your success!!
  4. Stay Relevant: READ, READ ,READ!!! Every morning I wake up to  an email full of RSS feeds from some the industries most respected sources; (Ragan Communications, PRNewser, PRWeek, just to name a few). And I love it! While freelancing, it is your duty and professional obligation to your clients,  to stay current on all relevant issues of the industry. Although you may not be working FT at a firm or organization , you want make sure you know just as much if not more than your professional colleagues that do.

And last but certainly not least,

5. Know your professional worth: I can’t stress this  tip enough. Just because you haven’t been practicing for 10 + years doesn’t mean your work isn’t worthy of compensation. I can’t lie, in the beginning this concept was very difficult for me. All I wanted to do was practice my craft; money had no immediate importance.  I worked for free on several occasions and sometimes when I was lucky I got paid pennies (literally). When you meet with a potential client have your  range for compensation (less for NPO and more for Corporations) already in mind. Don’t be embarrassed, this is business.  Remember  you don’t have millions in the bank ( and if you do, can I have a dollar?).  If you are doing freelance work , while still looking for a fulltime job, chances are  money is essential to your lively hood. Do research on rates specific to your skill set, experience, and geographic location.  Your advisory committee will be extremely useful at this point.

I hope these tips help.  And if you have other tips that you think young pros should know before jumping into the world of freelance please share!

Reminder: Your greatest professional recommendations will undoubtedly come from your clients that you’ve worked so hard for.

When Your Luck Run’s Out…

In Crisis Communications, Lessons Learned, Public Relations, Young Professionals on February 6, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Very, very very few companies are fortunate enough to avoid a crisis at some point in their history. While  only a small number of companies  face a crisis so catastrophic that its relief seems inconceivable.  It can be safely assumed that most companies will indeed face hardships.  

We all know that some industries, such as transportation, are more prone to high volumes of crisis situations compared to less risky industries.  An occupational hazard, such as a plane crash,  doesn’t necessarily  mean that the aviation industry’s (or even the plane company’s)  reputation is damaged.  Well, that  is unless a plane crashes everyday. But we can all agree that crisis’ are bound to occur in one form or another. Therefore every company should be adequately prepared right?  

Raises Hand 

Then my next question is:   What happened to Toyota?  Was there nothing the playbook about this? I must say that I  am a little disappointed (but not too much because I drive a Honda 🙂 ).

When I think of a crisis,  popular case studies such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill or Tylenol’s product tampering,  instantly  pops into my head as the highlighted examples of “how to effectively and efficiently handle a crisis”. These studies have been the revered by the entire public relations industry as two of  the best crisis plans ever executed. However these are just a few rare situations where the company/industry was able to bounce back and regain the trust of its stakeholders after a disastrous course of events. Will Toyota’s future prove to be the same?

In my opinion, it will take several years.

It is without question that motor vehicle accidents can be lumped into the presumed hazards of the transportation industry. Car accidents occur every day, and unfortunately many of those accidents prove fatal. However when an accident doesn’t occur at the  fault of the operator, but the manufacturers…. then that changes the game drastically.

For many years Toyota has sat high on a pedestal as one of the world’s most reliable vehicle manufactures. With a brand that screams, reliable, affordable, and quality, Toyota has been one of those “fortunate” companies I  referred to earlier. Practically skating through without any bad press or general negative perception, Toyota has had a good ride. Pun intended. 

But now their number has been called…

Lately my personal perception of the brand  can be expressed as : faulty construction, and poor communications. In the beginning, Toyota’s communications efforts  appeared as though the company was  crossing its fingers and praying that  the problem would simply go away. But phantom accelerations and “floors mat entrapment”, started snowballing into a much bigger problem.  As the public and industry outrage became louder, a recall was announced. Finally when U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took his concerns of the cars malfunctions to the public,  we finally saw our first glimpse of Toyota’s public relations.

In every PR , crisis communications guide, Toyota’s response can be seen as untimely and  unacceptable.  FYI:  this situation has been brewing since last year.  In PR to react first is a very powerful sign. Its shows that the company is taking the crisis seriously.  While the actual fatal accident was an event that could not be predicted, it was up to the company to act hastily in light of the news to avoid…well… BAD PR.

Whether it was Toyota’s arrogance, or just lack of planning, they will indeed feel the negative affects of their actions.

Nevertheless I always find that situations like these, and even those superficial circumstances like the Tiger Woods scandal, brings  about very important  lessons for PR  folks. Unfortunately the greatest teaching moments in our lives, come from tragedy and hardship.  If we are to grow professionally, we have to learn from others mistakes. As a young professional I am always watching and listening to the teachings of the industry. You should do the same…Young and Old.

You’re Such A Liar! … Right?

In Public Relations, Social Media on January 22, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Like a million other professionals, I am a member of the LinkedIn community. Initially I joined as a prerequisite for a good grade in my graduate social media class. Nonetheless I’ve found it to be an extremely useful resource.  I’ve connected with at least 15 groups on the social networking site  that are specifically dedicated to the public relations industry. Every day I receive RSS feeds from each group full of current job listings, professional advice, pertinent industry news, new product launches, etc.  Recently I received an email from one of my groups with a topic on the discussion board called “PR and Lying”.

 Well PR 101 teaches us not to repeat any negatives, so from now on lying will be referred to as the “L-Word” …I don’t wish to actively participate in the negative branding of my profession. 

Moving on…

 Nevertheless, I knew this was going to be an interesting discussion.  We all know that unfortunately Public Relation Pros and Lawyers are perceived to be the biggest liars out of any other profession (I guess you could throw politicians and career criminals in the pot too.). And it is this school of thought that has burdened the field of PR that we as professionals have tried to so assiduously shake.

But back to the discussion board…

A member of the group, who shall remain nameless, posted a discussion that he and his company were conducting research and wanted “PR people to complete a survey for a report on ethics in public relations”. Simple enough right? Wrong!

While most professionals in the community were extremely receptive to the survey, others felt the survey was too black and white and left no room for explanations or variables.

 Too many “yes or no” questions make people nervous.

But nevertheless, the professionals of the group went to bat for their profession proclaiming, in a collective voice: PR professionals are not liars (I mean L-worder’s)! But don’t get me wrong the gloves did come off and mud was thrown… the biggest disagreement between the professionals was how do you define lying? And with many insisting that withholding information is different from lying entirely. Despite the conflict the need for this type of conversation is imperative to  the professions evolution.

No matter how hard we try, pr practitioners are still fighting their inner demons about lying.  But let’s see what we can all agree on:

1)     2+2= 4 (or at least last time I checked) – this can be classified as an absolute truth; nothing can change this.  2+2 will not equal 5 tomorrow. We can agree this is the truth

2)   No one likes a liar. People don’t say: “Hey that guy’s a great liar, he’s so awesome!!” The act of  lying is looked down on in every society. Liars are never (knowingly) revered.

But when the participants were asked “when is it justifiable to lie professionally?” , most agreed NEVER but some said:

When the lie will not damage your reputation, the clients business or breach the need to meet the public interest

If the lying is innocuous

Lie is a strong word and there is a big difference between withholding information and lying…(there’s more but I’m withholding it hahaha (in my villain voice))

???!!!

All depends on the specific situation at a given point

Harmless lies to avoid hurting someone People don’t necessarily want to know the truth when they ask “Do I look fat in this??”

To avoid war and/or death

When someone’s life could be in danger

As professionals we want to do better.  There is still so much to be discussed.  Therefore I implore you to start the discussion in your offices and boardrooms  about Half Truths and Whole Lies. Let the journey begin.

Check out the complete survey and results:

http://www.pwkpr.com/downloads/Graphs200110.pdf
http://www.pwkpr.com/downloads/FurtherComments200110.pdf