PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

links for 2009-05-30

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links for 2009-05-29

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Summer Plans

Besides moving out of East Lansing and complaining about the whole thing, I’ve been up to some pretty cool things. With classes finished for the semester, I’m starting to get my summer plans in order. Part of this is making the move to Chicago, and this will be my first summer away from East Lansing since I started at Michigan State University. I’ll also be starting an internship with Edelman in their digital group, as well as starting my National PRSSA position. In the interest of being open and transparent, you’ll probably be seeing more about the following:

I just moved out of my house last week. While I’ve lived here, the house has been broken into, we’ve had sewage problems, our kitchen has been remodeled and we had unwanted pets (never figured out what the scratches in the walls were), among other things. Even though the house was literally falling apart, I’m going to miss this place and mostly the front porch.

home

Recently, I was elected National Vice President of Professional Development by PRSSA at the National Assembly in New Orleans. In that position, I’ll be blogging at the PRSSA Blog, supporting student-run firms across the country and some other pretty cool things. I’ll also be traveling to Scottsdale in June with the other National Committee members to plan for the upcoming year and get things going. Here’s a picture of the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 National Committees:

nc

Also, I’m going to be moving to Chicago for the summer and interning with Edelman Digital. I’m starting right after Memorial Day and I can’t wait. The team has a blog and I hope you check it out. Below is a picture of where I’ll be for the summer.

office

So, what’s the future of this blog? Because I’m blogging at a few other places, I probably will only have time for one post per week. I’ve covered a lot of “tips” for PR students, and I hope to discuss issues we’ll be facing and how to addresses them in addition to more posts about the industry. Thanks for reading and I hope you keep up with me.

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Your Career = The Stock Market

I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t know a lot about investing. I know it’s a good idea to invest when the market is down, and hopefully, I’ll make some money when the market turns around. That’s about it. I’ve been doing some more research lately and hope to start investing one of these days, but I couldn’t help noticing how similar investing in the stock market is to a career.

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On thing I’ve learned is that your career is a lot like the stock market, for a lot of reasons. Here are 16 basic principles on investing (in your career) from Swap Meet Dave:

  1. Diversify, diversify, diversify. This doesn’t have anything to do with race or ethnicity. It means becoming a well rounded professional and taking an interdisciplinary approach to your career. Try not to limit yourself down one career path.
  2. Start investing early. Your professional career can begin as early as high school. Don’t wait to get experience in the field and taking part in professional development opportunities.
  3. Invest in things you know. Try not to veer too far away from what you ultimately want to do, but do learn about other things that will help you get there.
  4. Avoid fads. OK, I’ll admit, I jumped right on the social media bandwagon. But I’m still learning a lot about more traditional public relations in internships and school. The point here is to not put all your emphasis on one skill.
  5. Don’t let a market fall change your long-term plans. If you want to be the VP of PR for Calvin Klein, make sure you are following your strategy and not becoming deterred when road blocks fall in front of you – and they will.
  6. Don’t check the price of a stock after you’ve sold it. What’s in the past is in the past. You aren’t able to change the past, but you can change the future. Keep your sight directed forward.
  7. Investing consistently works. Invest in your career over a long period of time and it will pay off.
  8. Don’t panic. If you’re worrying about not finding a job or not getting an offer, relax. If you’re confident you did the best you could, you should have nothing to worry about. That said, are you doing the best job you can do?
  9. Pay attention to what’s going on. Always know what’s going on in the company, with the company’s clients and the industry as a whole. It makes you much more capable of holding a conversation.
  10. Hold on to winners and sell the losers. If you’re doing well in your current position, keep it going. If it’s an internship, ask for an extension. There will always be the jobs and internships that aren’t as good, so evaluate the situation and if the job isn’t for you, move on.
  11. Take losses quickly and profits slowly. If you don’t get a job or lose your job, move quickly to your next position. Adopt the attitude that there are bigger fish in the sea, and stay optimistic. It might be hard now, but don’t let the economy drag your spirits down.
  12. Stick to your plan. If you have a research-based and well thought out plan, follow through. Learn from your mistakes and fix it for the future.
  13. Be realistic about your tolerance for risk. Spontaneity is great, but be smart about the decisions you are making. Do you want to move to a city just to move when your network is back home and your have career opportunities? Make sure you are thinking things through.
  14. Get good advice, but make your own decisions. Part of being a young professional is learning from your mistakes. Mentors are great, but make sure you are making your own decisions.
  15. Avoid spending the principle. Budget yourself and make sure you aren’t getting yourself into dept. As young professionals, it’s easy to spend a lot, but be smart about what you are spending your money on.
  16. Make money when you’re right. Seek advancement and promotions when you do good work in your company. Always be proactive and don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you.

All in all, those are the principles that I’ve held true during my college career. I’ve applied for a ton of positions. Some I’ve earned, and some I didn’t. Even so, I’m able to pick myself up and move on to the next project with ease. Things happen for a reason, and with a proactive and positive attitude, you’ll see the bigger fish in the ocean.

So what do you think? How else is a career like the stock market? How do you invest in your career?

Photo by eminiforecaster on Flickr.

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How to Write a Communication Plan

During a recent MSU PRSSA meeting, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO of Rossman PR, came in to talk about how to write a communication plan and important principles to execute the plan. Personally, it was extremely helpful and it served as a reminder that we are in a completely strategic field. Doing something just to do it won’t get you anywhere (for an example, look on Facebook for all the companies who have a Facebook page but don’t do anything with them). The video summary of what she talked about is right here:

Kelly talked about her eight-step approach when it comes to strategic public relations. Whether you are running a political campaign or fundraising for a nonprofit, these principles apply. Better yet, try and create a communication plan within a student group or current place of employment. Here are her steps and strategies:

The eight-step approach to strategic public relations planning:

  1. Background/situation analysis: State who the client is, where the client stands today, why they are seeking public relations services and how the agency understands the mission of the client.
  2. Goals and objectives: State the goals and objectives; remember that goals are broad while objectives are specific and measurable.
  3. Research: Perform some qualitative and quantitative research to help you executive and complete the campaign.
  4. Target audiences: Name the key internal and external target audiences that should be part of the campaign.
  5. Messages: Illustrate the key and secondary messages that will best motivate your audience.
  6. Proof points: Stats, stories and facts to support your stance.
  7. Communication tools: What mediums will best deliver your message? Print newspapers, online media, Facebook, etc.
  8. Evaluation: Have you been measuring the success of the campaign?

After you come up with all of these steps and plans for a campaign, it’s important to keep a strategic focus. The next list is a set of questions you should be able to answer clearly and concisely.

Principles of effective communication:

  • Credibility: Is your messenger credible – is he or she a trusted and respected source of information – with your audience?
  • Context: Is your message in context with reality and the environment in which your audience is located?
  • Content: Is your message relevant to your audience? Are they interested?
  • Clarity: Is your message simple and straightforward? How far will it travel and how long will it last?
  • Continuity and consistency: Repeat your message for audience penetration.
  • Channels: What channels/tools of communication are you using? What value are they to your audience?
  • Customer benefits: What’s in it for me?
  • Caring, compassion and concern: Does your audience know that you care?
  • Capability of audience: Is your audience capable of understanding the message? Will they take the time to listen/read/watch it?
  • Call to action: What is your audience supposed to do now?

All in all, it was a great meeting and a great presentation. Another online resource I found is from Dave Fleet, who has a great (and free!) e-book on writing a strategic communication plan here.

Any other tips for writing a communication plan? Any resources you’d like to share?

Filed under: Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, Social Media, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

World Wide Rave

My assignment this week for my NMDL class was to do some free PR for David Meerman Scott. If you haven’t read The New Rules of Marketing & PR yet, you really should. It’s a quick and informative read.

Scott also came out with another book (I just ordered mine on Amazon). Titled World Wide Rave, this book talks about “viral” marketing and how it works. Why is it called World Wide Rave? Scott explains it pretty well:

“A World Wide Rave is when people around the world are talking about you, your company, and your products. Whether you’re located in San Francisco, Dubai, or Reykjavík, it’s when global communities eagerly link to your stuff on the Web. It’s when online buzz drives buyers to your virtual doorstep. And it’s when tons of fans visit your Web site and your blog because they genuinely want to be there.”

I like this description a lot. Viral is a term that is thrown out there too often. It’s worse when you hear someone saying they are going to make a “viral” video. Scott even calls it sleazy, and I agree with him. Even so, there are some really good examples of products and companies online and I’m looking forward to this read. Here’s the page with more information on the book, and below is the video describing the book. Both are worth your time.

Scott also posted some of the rules of the rave:

  • Nobody cares about your product (except you)
  • No coercion required
  • Lose control
  • Put down roots
  • Create triggers that encourage people to share
  • Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep

I realized that there’s a lot of cool stuff you can do for free online to help get buzz for a company or product. This also means that you can do a lot understand to enhance your education. Below is what I did to share this information online and make his book a world wide rave. As a student, try some of these Web sites out, especially if you have student-run firms:

  • PR.com is a free site you can use to post press releases. I posted a press release on World Wide Rave on this site. Who knows, maybe I’ll get coverage?
  • I used Digg and Delicious to bookmark his site
  • I posted some links on my Twitter feed
  • I even wrote this post! That’s free PR, right?
  • I shared some of his posts on Google Reader

All in all, I didn’t realize that there is so much you can do for free.  I wrote a press release and tried out some free PR sites – it’s on my Scribd profile here. It’s all cool stuff. Check out his book, won’t you?

Filed under: New Media Drivers License, Social Media, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

Google for Students

Sometimes, I imagine my life without Google. And then I realize how dependent I am on Google – if it’s going down I’m going down with it. As students, Google really does make our lives easier. Literally everything is at our finger tips and we should know how to maximize usage on their products to improve ourselves. Personally, I have found that Google makes things simple and easy to sync with the rest of your life. I can’t recommend it enough, if you can’t tell.

google

After creating a Google account here (be sure to use something along the lines of your name, both for credibility and SEO’s sake). Here’s a list of the things Google offers you should be using, both from experience and recommendations:

  • iGoogle – This is your home page. You can add different widgets and sync many of the features listed below to this page. It’s a nice first page to look at when you get online.
  • Gmail – The Web mail of Google is my favorite Google product. You can fetch mail in other inboxes to use one tool for your multiple accounts, as well as chat, label, and store at your pleasure.  I also use Gmail as my to-do list; that is, I keep only the e-mails I need to deal with in my inbox and archive the rest (archiving is not deleting – click on “all mail” to see your archived messages or simply search for it). Oh yeah, your inbox is huge. Like really, really big. Don’t worry about filling it up any time soon.
  • Google Reader – Much more than a tool for news junkies, you can use Google Reader to keep on top of the news, your favorite blogs and even the occasional random feed. If you’re new to blogging, I recommend Alltop – it’s a great place to get started and check out topics that interest you.
  • Google Alerts – This alerts you, either by e-mail or through your reader, when a phrase you select lands anywhere from a news article to a blog post. I recommend using this in two ways. First, it might seem ego-centric, but put a Google Alert on your name. Have this one e-mailed to you so you can know if something is being said about you. Next, put some Google Alerts on the companies you want to work for. I would recommend subscribing these to your reader so you can peruse these at your own pleasure.
  • Google Groups – If you’re in a student organization or you want to keep in touch with friends, Google Groups is where it’s at for you. You can chat, create pages and make your group look fancy.
  • Google Calendar – I’ll be honest, I don’t use this application. I have my physical planner that I wouldn’t know how to live my live without it. However, I’ve heard great things about this easy-to-use app. You can also sync it with your mobile phone – it doesn’t get much better than that.
  • Google Analytics – This gets to the advanced stuff, but you can put a code on your Web page or blog and Google Analytics will show you various statistics on your site usage. Just so you know, visits measures how many times the Web site was accesses, unique visitors measures how many different computers accesses the Web site, and page views measures the total number of pages served to a visitor. The more page views per visitor, the more useful your site.
  • Google Scholar – This is the Google search entire limited to scholarly sources. I’ve used different research tools that MSU has to offer, but honestly, Google Scholar is a lot easier and quicker than anything else. I’m not sure if it yields quite the same content, but this should do the trick for a quick citation on a paper you’re writing.
  • Google on your phone – to die for. I got this on my BlackBerry and it’s done everything from saved to ruined my life. Yes, Google Maps has saved me when I have no idea where I am (this happens more often than I like to admit), and yes, I”m addicted to my crackberry. But hey, I’ve got a world of knowledge in the palm of my hand it’s been more helpful than anything.

So, there you have it – how you should be maximizing all of Google’s capabilities. Google offers so much more than what I put on this short post and I recommend trying out a little bit of everything. The best finds are often the ones that get the least coverage.

How else do you use Google? Do you have anything to add to this list?

If you’re looking for more information about all Google’s apps, check out their how to site.

Filed under: New Media Drivers License, Professional Development, Public Relations, Social Media, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Fresh Start

I’ve been blogging about being a public relations student at MSU since August and I’m hooked. I’m learning a lot, and I hope channeling what I learn is helping you, too.

So, as I sit here in my “New Media Drivers License” class taught by Derek Mehraban, CEO of Ingenex Digital, I wanted to give my blog a fresh start. The students in the class will each be developing a blog, joining the social media conversation and learning how it’s changing the world. Here’s some more information on the course – it’s going to be great.

I have big plans for this blog. I want to have more guest posts on here from you guys. Currently, I’ve got some lined up so get ready for those. Also, I want to share more relevant information – not just my own. Eventually, I would like to create a tool kit for students starting off in PR. In the immediate future, however, I’ll be sharing what I learn as I go through this 10-week course. I can say with full confidence that this is the path public relations education needs to be taking in today’s day and age.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your help in sharing and contributing, and so do the readers.

What do you think of my blog’s new brand? Any other suggestions?

Filed under: New Media Drivers License, Public Relations, Social Media, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

The Right Way to Take Time Off

If you had to leave work early today, could you leave and know that your stuff would be taken care of? What if you had to take tomorrow off, too? What if you went on a world cruise and took a week off? A month?

For the next two weeks, I’m going to be multitasking like I never have done before. During this time of year, I’m normally working at The State News, gearing up for another semester of MSU PRSSA and doing that whole school thing at MSU. At the end of my summer internship, I was asked to come back to John Bailey & Associates and be the NAIAS intern in between school semesters. Could I turn this down? Heck no. Can I stay away from my work at the State News for more than, um, two hours? Heck no.

Thus, I had a dilemma. I knew having two jobs was possible, but I also knew I needed some major help. After asking a co-worker and some major preparation, I’ve been able to stay semi-sane and still be able to stay on top of other things.

I’ve come up with four principles that have helped me have two jobs simultaneously. For those of you who have no desire to have two jobs, you can insert “vacation” or “personal time” where I love to express my workaholic tendencies.

  • Delegation. Used correctly and properly, delegating tasks to the right people will not only take the load off your shoulders, but it will also have your co-workers learn and grow with you. Used incorrectly and improperly, you can seem like you don’t care about your work and will give it to whomever. Make sure you have a concise list of daily tasks that need to be completed and that it’s not too overbearing for one person. Interns – try to get your hands on some of this work! It’s a great way to step up and take on more responsibility.
  • Communication. There’s some people that are out of the office and are out of the office. If you’re the second type, you better hope you have all your bases covered. For most people, it’s a lot more practical to be out of the office while still aware of what’s happening in the office. It’s important to respect the people who are back in the office doing your job. Taking 10-15 minutes out of your personal time to make sure they have a clear understanding of your projects and assignments can probably save them a lot of time. Keep lines of communication with the person that’s helping you out.
  • Cooperation. Don’t be afraid of these new challenges – generally, you want to be the one that’s helpful in the office. It’s not always easy to take on new tasks, so do the best you can with what you’ve got. Reach out to the client and your supervisor – communication and explanation can go a long way.
  • Return the favor. Show the love with a token of appreciation. Taking on a crappy assignment from your helpful co-worker is great. If you went on vacation, bring something back for that person and help them out with their work. Come up with some other creative ways to say thanks. Also remember to return the favor when they need help.

I’m not saying that I mastered this on my first try. In fact, this is pretty much a list of the things I should have done better during my two weeks out of one office and in another. But, on the whole, I’m able to keep up with two jobs, school and PRSSA mostly because my friends and co-workers have been helping out. I because I have a “support group” of sorts. My good friend and co-worker Gina is doing an incredible job of doing the crappy part of my State News job – scheduling, routing cards and solving production issues. She makes me look good to my clients. Thanks, Gina.

There’s probably some jobs out there that are individualistic in nature and don’t require team work, but I’m quickly finding out that what I’m doing is not one of those jobs.

What do you think? Any advice?

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Breaking Down the Walls

For me, 2009 is going to be a year of breaking down the walls. I’m talking about changing the traditional college paradigm that has resulted from the increasingly competitive job market. 

break-down-the-wall

More then ever, students are pushing themselves through difficult curriculums, taking on leadership positions in student organizations and getting a job or two. The days of going through college and getting a sweet job are over. Hopefully there is no one out there that honestly believes that.

As a result, college is competitive and stressful. The college setting is meant to test and prepare us for “real world” situations, so the question then becomes is the real world as competitive and stressful? 

As students, sometimes we get caught up amidst the competitive atmosphere. We’re all competing for the top internships, the best grades and ultimately the best jobs. Too often we forget about our peers and their own professional pursuits. I was always taught to treat others the way I want to be treated. Just like in social media, cultivating relationships with your colleagues takes time and work, but it pays off in the end.

Here are my goals (note: not resolutions) for breaking down the walls this year:

  • Build my network and share it. I love networking and meeting new people. My friend puts it best: “I can’t keep my PR legs closed.” This year, I want to connect the good people in my network with the other good people in my network.
  • Improve this blog so that it does help people. I like to share what I learn, who I meet and new trends with you guys because I learn from you. I hope to continue to product worthwhile content and please let me know if I start going senile.
  • Look beyond the short term and always look for the long term. Questioning old practices and replacing them with new, more effective practices is what I’m going for. 
  • Connect Michigan PRSSA students with each other. I’ve been in contact with some really great people at other Michigan PRSSA Chapters and we all share in similar pre-professional pursuits, so why not help each other out? I had dinner with Jared Bryan from Wayne State University and Stephanie Scheer from Eastern Michigan University and I’m looking forward to working with them over the next couple of months.

This past year, a friend and mentor of mine, Jennie Ecclestone, who happened to be the MSU PRSSA Chapter President at the time, nominated me for a Central Michigan PRSA award. Typically, the award goes to a senior who has dedicated him or herself to their PRSSA Chapter and made a dramatic impact. Even though I and a couple other people nominated Jennie, her recommendation that she probably put a lot of time and effort into got me the award. This completely selfless action taught me more about leadership then any conference or book. Jennie was breaking down the walls and she will always have a friend and colleague with me. 

When it comes down to it, people make the difference in my life. I’m lucky to be surrounded by such dynamic, dedicated and funny people. They keep me sane and drive me nuts. But because they have help me so much in my career, I would do anything for them. Public relations and other industries are often based on who you know, not what you know. I hope I will be able to repay the favor to Jennie somehow.

This year, I challenge you to break down the walls in your own pre-professional career. Ask yourself, “why the hell not?” Value honesty and listen to your peers. And most importantly, don’t forget your friends and colleagues. 

Photo by rulosblack on Flickr. 

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