PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

On Leadership

If I asked you who to define what a leader is, how would you do it? Would you say it’s the person in the corner office leading your company? Would you say it’s a member of a professional organization you’re involved with? Would you say it’s an intern in your company?

When I think of what I leader is, a lot of qualities come to mind — dedication, knowledge, attitude, aptitude — and these are probably some you would agree with. However, one prerequisite a leader does not need to have is a title. That means no matter what position you have within a company, whether it’s an intern, assistant or coordinator, you can be a leader.

Here are some tips for effective leadership, especially for students, interns and new professionals. Sure, these might sound like general career tips, but being a leader in the workplace is an entirely different mindset. Check them out and see how you can apply these principles in your office.

Attitude is everything

When you walk into work every morning, you can be a leader by motivating and inspiring with your attitude. Don’t let challenges get you down and look at new projects with a positive attitude. Hopefully, your attitude will be contagious and people will look to you for a pick-me-up when they need it. This creates a great work atmosphere.

Earn respect by doing what you say you’ll do

How many times have you offered help to a coworker and not followed through? I’ve done it before, and I know it doesn’t help with your credibility. Be honest with your coworkers and mean what you say — this will help you earn credibility and trust with your coworkers, and these are two traits leaders have a strong command of.

Learn and understand when to say yes — and no

There are only so many hours in the day, and at a certain point you can only take on so many projects. If you’re already swamped and can barely get through your daily to do list, it probably isn’t a good idea to take on a new project. That said, don’t be afriad to push yourself to do more. The point is there is a fine balance of doing a lot at work and not being able to get through your work. If you can demonstrate your ability to know the difference, you will definitely impress your coworkers and managers.

Give compliments a lot

You really can’t go wrong telling someone you think they did a good job or how much you appreciate their work. This is especially true of your managers and supervisors. Don’t be afraid to give a high-five to your boss if they did a good job. Chances are, your bosses probably don’t get praised for their work because they standards are higher, so go the extra couple of yards. Again, it goes back to attitude.

Promote teamwork, especially among those who don’t know each other

I didn’t realize it, but I let the e-board of MSU PRSSA formulate into pairs who always worked with each other. Looking back on the past year, I think a more effective approach would have been to encourage teams with the members who didn’t know each other as well. Also, you can take the initiative to get to know other people in your company. You never know who might be sitting next to you tomorrow.

Find ways to learn and grow with everything

As a young professional, you’re going to make mistakes. In fact, as you progress with your career, you’ll probably still make mistakes. In most cases, it’s not what you do, it’s how you react to the situation.Value professional development and always learn. It’s a great way to give more value to your company and your coworkers.

For more on effective leadership techniques, check out this slideshow from Andy Hanselman. There are some great tips in here for everyone:

So, what do you think? Can young professionals really be leaders?

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, , , , ,

First Day Reminders

With the end of the school year comes the first for something new: the first day on the job. I wholeheartedly believe that first impressions are incredibly important, especially in the workplace. If you can manage to make a solid first impression to your supervisor and coworkers, you will be off to a great start at your job or internship.

Here are some of my reminders when it comes to making a first impression:

Preparing for the first day
Just because you got the job doesn’t mean you should stop researching the company. Make sure you know about big events relating to the company and the industry in general. Keep on with Google Alerts, subscribe to the company’s blog or news feed and read industry publications to make sure you know what’s up. You never know who you’ll meet the first day!

Appearance
What you’re wearing and how well you take care of yourself really speak louder than words. Before the first day, make sure you get in contact with an employee of the company and see what the dress code is. There’s nothing worse than wearing a suit when everyone else is casual, and when you’re not comfortable, you won’t be able to perform.

officeWhat to expect
Come to your first day with an open mind and get ready for anything. With some companies, you might have an orientation for the entire day. With other companies, you might have a brainstorming meeting, a writing project and some media clipping to do. Chances are you’ll be entering a fast-paced work environment, especially at an agency, where you will have to jump right in. Get to know the people around you and ask them how you can help. By asking questions and becoming familiar with the clients, you’ll be able to be a more effective practitioner.

Lunch
Will your new coworkers take you out to lunch? Will you all eat in the lunchroom together? Will you eat at your desk? Be prepared for anything. I recommend bringing a lunch – something that you can keep for another day in case you go out.

When to leave?
When you’re trying to figure out when to leave, make sure you’re not staring at the clock wondering when you can get the heck out. That said, it might be overkill to stay hours past closing. The best thing you can do is understand when  you’ll be expected to stay and make one more call or answer one more e-mail before heading out.

For more general tips on interning, check out my post here. For some other great articles on first days, check out these:

  • Culpwrit has an entire category dedicated to first days — there are some great posts there.
  • On Brazen Careerist, you can find some good posts on internship first days here and starting off on the right foot here.
  • Pick the Brain (my favorite motivation blog) has a great post on how to survive the first day here.

What tips do you have for those of us coming to the first day of a new job (myself included)? Any good stories to share?

Photo by mikebrown3506 on Flickr.

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, , , , , , , ,

Social Network Separation Is Bad

One thing I see more and more often is students who use different social networks for different reasons. For example, using Facebook for a crazy college lifestyle and keeping a professional blog. To me, it doesn’t make sense. Here’s why.

You’re findable

Even if you’ve changed your name on Facebook or use some kind of alter ego for other social networking profiles, don’t risk it. Here are some stats from an MSNBC article I want to throw out:

“According to a March survey by Ponemon Institute, a privacy think tank, 35 percent of hiring managers use Google to do online background checks on job candidates, and 23 percent look people up on social networking sites. About one-third of those Web searches lead to rejections, according to the survey.”

When it comes down to it, there are many more applicants to any one job, so don’t hurt your chances by taking a risk online.

profiles

Linking up

When I put up the new design on my blog, I added my Facebook profile badge. Before, I always thought Facebook was for my personal friends because I have personal information on there, but isn’t that the case with any social networking site you’re part of? Now, I’m open to networking on any of my profiles. Once you get over the initial “I want to post something really inappropriate” hill, it’s not so bad and helps your reputation in the long run.

Remember when Facebook changed and everyone thought it looks like Twitter? And Friendfeed‘s recent makeover to make it look more like Twitter? I think social networks are going to continue to converge (to some extend). Networking professionally on one site but avoiding conversation on another just plan looks bad.

Choose one side

When Facebook opened up to more than those with a .edu address and I started getting friend requests from professionals, I quickly learned about the importance of keeping a professional online profile — no matter what you’re using.

I recommend choosing one side; there’s no point of using some sites professionally and some sites for fun. This, of course, brings up the question of authenticity: do you have to show a different personality that who you really are? Not at all — just keep your illegal habits out of sight.

Be smart

I’m sure many of you already know what you put online is open for anyone to view. I just want to emphasize how important it is to be consistent and clear with your social networks. You never know, it might end up helping you get a job.

So, do you use different social networks for different reasons? Why? Do you think college students should be in a different category since they will be looking for jobs? All thoughts and comments are appreciated.

Photo by M. Keefe on Flickr.

Filed under: Professional Development, Social Media, , , , , , ,

What If You Start PR Later In College?

During the past couple of weeks, I wrote a series of posts on how to prepare for PR in college. The advice was directed at a hypothetical freshmen about to enter PR studies in college, though the advice can be applied to different parts of a career in the field. Now, I want to write to a more realistic crowd — the sophomores, juniors, seniors and new graduates who just found PR.

Before I start giving some advice, I want to make it clear that you don’t need to have four years of solid PR experience in college to get a job when you graduate. Sure, it would be nice to do all of the things I mentioned in the other posts, but is it completely realistic to do what I recommend each year? Not for everyone. If you start PR even as late as senior year, you can still get off to a great start to your career. Here is what I recommend:

Draw on past experiences

If you were pre-med, philosophy, math or even underwater basket weaving, it’s important to draw upon past experiences and apply them to the public relations field. Chances are, if you majored in biology before you changed to public relations, you have some interest in science or technology. The great part about this is you can use this to your advantage. As a public relations practitioner, you’ll probably represent a company or organization that does things the public won’t understand — and that is where you come in. When you can bring a specialized background to the PR industry, it makes you that much more valuable.

Tip: Apply what you’re learning in other classes to your PR career — it will help you to be a more effective practitioner.

Get solid public relations experience

Although you may be worried about catching up in classes, especially if you changed majors later in college, it’s important to immediately seek solid opportunities that will help you enhance your public relations skills. You will be able to get the most out of an internship if you have a mentor guiding you throughout your time with that company/organization and if the program is somewhat structured. Sure, there are exceptions to those, but if you can find a company with some talented professionals and value their interns, you will probably have a good experience.

Something I forgot to put in my last posts is a list of resources of finding an internship. So, here are some great places to start:

  • You college’s career network will probably be the most helpful in finding an internship near your college, unless you’re in a big city.
  • PRSSA JobCenter is the job bank of National PRSSA. It’s a great resource with tips and job postings.
  • EntryLevel-PR.com is a great resource for finding internships and full time jobs.
  • Reach out to your own network — make sure people know you’re looking for a job/internship and you never know what might happen.

Tip: Find several diverse experiences before you graduate in order to make yourself more marketable and find out what you want to do in your career.

Get active in social networks

The beauty of using Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed and others for professional use is the ability to build your network so easily. Reach out to public relations professionals, especially at companies you would like to work for, and communicate with them. Another really good place to be is PROpenMic. It’s a network for public relations students, practitioners and faculty members — check it out.

With all of the joining and networking you will do, it’s important to maintain a sense of professionalism. Talking about how drunk you got during the weekend on your Facebook profile used to be OK when Facebook was just for college students. That’s not the case anymore. Know that what what you put online is fair game for potential employers and bosses to read, so make sure you think about what you post.

Tip: Get online and start participating in conversations. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from a strong online network.

Get active in PRSSA immediately

Even though it might be intimidating to join an organization with students already active in their profession, know that many people are in your same shoes. Here is my advice on how to maximize your PRSSA membership later in college:

  • Don’t be afraid to take on leadership roles on the executive board and on committees. By building relationships with peers and learning from them, too, you’ll be able to learn and grow.
  • Attending National Conference, National Assembly and Regional Activities are great ways to help you get caught up from what you missed for the past couple of years. I’ve heard from a lot of people that these conferences ignited their interest in the public relations industry. I mentioned this before, but make sure to network with your peers — someday, they will be your colleagues.
  • If you have the opportunity to work with members of PRSA, do it! If you can serve on a committee or help plan an event, it’s a great way to get to know some pros.
  • Applying for national awards is not just for the members who have been in the organization forever. Apply for them, and at least they will be good practice for the future. The link to the awards is here.

Tip: Get active in PRSSA immediately and start building a network of students and professionals.

No excuses, play like a champion

Is studying public relations at all like Wedding Crashers? Maybe. I like this quote and I think it applies to this situation perfectly. Even though you joined the game a little late, it doesn’t mean you have to stay miles behind the rest of the crowd.

Tip: Don’t make excuses — get active in the public relations industry.

And here is what my Twitter network had to say:

@kellee_m Start networking as soon as you can online, in person, in class and in student organizations.

@sheesidd Immerse yourself in social media & read trade publications like PR Week.

@heatherhuhman Intern ASAP – it will help you land an entry-level job after college sooner. Plus, it will confirm your interest in the field.

@aribadler The best thing you will ever learn is that you haven’t learned enough, so never consider your learning completed.

@maryhenige Need to understand business in order to advise C-suite clients.

@aubzim join PRS(S)A, volunteer, write! Never too late for gaining experience. Work on worthwhile causes; don’t spread yourself too thin

@ssiewert you don’t need 5 internships to succeed! Immerse yourself in the industry, get involved in PRS(S)A, build a network, write a lot.

@AmberMShinn Me: late-in-college PR person. Tips: Get as much varied PR work experience as possible; be willing to volunteer to get it.

What advice do you have for PR students getting active later in the game?

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Prepare for PR in College – Part 4

I’m writing a four-part blog post on how to have a successful collegiate career for those interested in public relations. I’m basing this largely off my own experiences (a lot of what I’m including reflects what I wish I would have done during college, particularly in my early years) and those in my network. Please share and comment — with enough feedback, I may write another revised post.

You’ve made it to senior year! The most important thing to keep in mind about being a senior is to keep up the hard work throughout the entire year. Don’t get lazy, keep up the job search, join PRSA and enjoy your last year in college. Here are my tips for a successful senior year:

Maximize your PRSSA membership

Believe it or not, you can still genuinely benefit from a PRSSA membership during senior year. The most important thing to keep in mind, job or not, is that joining PRSA is the key to continuing your professional development. Keep that in mind as you go through the year and prepare to graduate. Here’s what I would do to maximize your PRSSA membership senior year:

  • Continue to take on leadership roles on the executive board and on committees, but also make sure you are serving as a mentor to the younger students.
  • Continue attending local, regional and national events. Even during senior year, attending National Conference, National Assembly and Regional Activities are still great ways to enhance your public relations knowledge and network with your future colleagues. If you’re lucky and serve as Chapter President, you’ll be able to attend the Leadership Rally and learn from students just like you.
  • Apply for national awards — still. PRSSA has many scholarships and awards seniors qualify for and can help put you ahead of the game. Check them out here.
  • Finally, join PRSA. Did you know that as a member of PRSSA, you can join PRSA as an associate member for up to two years for only $60 per year? How sweet is that?! More information here.

Tip: After years in PRSSA, the best thing to do is continue your professional development and join PRSA. Keep learning!

Don’t be afraid of post-graduate internships

Finishing up your senior year, you will probably looking for full time positions with your dream company. It’s important to be aware that you will probably have to intern with a company before you work for them. There are, of course, exceptions to this, but I wouldn’t count on you being the exception. Also, even though you might have had four or five internships in college, you still might be to intern with the company before a full time position. That’s OK, too.

The reason for this is simple economics: for any one open public relations entry level position, there will be a ton of applicants, so the employer can be more selective. That means they can have their top candidates “try out” for the position before hiring them on full time.

Tip: Don’t rule out post-graduate internships and don’t be surprised if you get offered one. This is the company’s way of making sure you’ll be a good fit and will do well full time.

Avoid senioritis like the plague

I’ll be honest: I think senioritis is the biggest crock of BS I’ve ever heard. It’s a state of mind and you will only get this “disease” if you let it happen. So, to make sure you have a productive year, surround yourself with highly motivated and hard working folks. Make sure you remember that just because you’re a senior doesn’t mean you can stop trying.

Tip: Don’t get lazy and pride yourself on the work you accomplish senior year.

Understand strategy and work a campaign from start to finish

One of the biggest differentiators between a tactical PR professional and a strategic PR professional is their understanding of “why.” That said, working a campaign from start to finish can be one of the most beneficial things a student can experience.

There are a couple different ways to get this kind of experience. One way is to participate in the Bateman competition through PRSSA. Another way is to stay in an internship for more than a semester. Even if you can’t take part in these above experiences, you can learn about strategy simply by asking your supervisor “why.” Why is a press release going out after the media advisory? Why write three blog posts per week instead of five? Why target this audience? These are all questions you can be asking those you work with in order to better understand public relations strategy.

Tip: Enhance internships and other PR activities by understanding and taking part in public relations strategy.

Know how to network

I mentioned this in one of the previous posts and I hope you listened! The best kind of network is one that you don’t need at that moment, so if you have been building a solid network for the past couple of years, the job search process shouldn’t be long and painful. Remember that networking is not about how someone else can help you; it’s about how you can help someone else. If you help a professional with a freelance project, or volunteered some time to help, that’s what real networking is all about. Continue to build a strong network, even if you’re planning on leaving the area. The PR community is smaller than you think, and local professionals might be able to help you in other areas.

Tip: Hopefully you have been building a strong network for the past several years so you can get advice from mentors and look in the right places during the job search.

Patience, grasshopper

In case you didn’t know, the public relations industry is not really like other industries. Companies usually don’t consistently recruit a certain number of graduates each year. Also unique to the public relations industry is you probably can’t show up to a career fair without knowing anyone and land an internship after. Getting a job in public relations takes a lot of time and work, and chances are you probably won’t find a job before you graduate. The key here is patience — don’t let the job search distract you from finishing up the year strong.

Tip: During the job search, keep your chin up, don’t get too discouraged and know that something will find you.

And for this last post, here is what my Twitter network had to say:

@MelissaHackett (she cheated and wrote three!): Well, I will be a PR senior next year and I think it’s important to realize that it is your LAST year in college. If you haven’t been, become very active in organizations. Soak in as much experience as possible before graduating. In this economy, you need more than a degree. You need skills, and you get those through experience.

@beckyjohns Reach out to people in your network that can be professional mentors. Having a sounding board is so helpful in a job search. Try to involve yourself with as many different types of PR as possible. Use the skills you’ve developed to become well-rounded.

@rossmanmckinney Learn to write w/3 c’s: be crisp, clear, concise. Be curious, ask questions. work ur butt off. do everything!

@kellee_m Start sending out resumes early in the year so agencies have you on their radar. Apply again when you graduate.

@FrancoPRGroup Graduating PR seniors MUST have great writing skills! also need to find a way to distinguish themselves..what makes them unique?

@samemac Work harder than you ever have before. Try something new and dream big.

@heatherhuhman Apply for internships and entry-level jobs simultaneously. You never know what opportunities you might uncover.

Filed under: Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Prepare for PR in College – Part 3

I’m writing a four-part blog post on how to have a successful collegiate career for those interested in public relations. I’m basing this largely off my own experiences (a lot of what I’m including reflects what I wish I would have done during college, particularly in my early years) and those in my network. Please share and comment — with enough feedback, I may write another revised post.

You’re half-way done with your college career by now, but you’re hardly heading down the hill. As a junior, you should know a lot about public relations and what you want to do when you graduate. In a lot of ways, the jump from sophomore year to junior year is huge: you’ll be taking upper-level classes, you qualify for more scholarships and internships, and your younger colleagues will look up to you for help and advice. Here are my tips on how to have a successful junior year in college.

Maximize your PRSSA membership

I’ll ask this again… If you haven’t already joined PRSSA, what are you waiting for? Junior year is a great time to not only be an active member, but a leader and mentor to your peers. As a leader, you should have strong skills and be able to demonstrate how to be successful in PR. Here’s what I would do to maximize your PRSSA membership junior year:

  • Take on leadership roles on the executive board and on committees. Build your relationships with peers and learn from them, too.
  • Continue attending local, regional and national events. Attending National Conference, National Assembly and Regional Activities are great ways to learn more about the profession and network. If you have been to one of these events before, don’t think you won’t get anything out of attending another year. Also, make sure to network with your peers — someday, they will be your colleagues.
  • Get published! One of the most practical membership benefits is that you can get your work published from the local to the national level. Consider writing for your Chapter’s newsletter (or even start one). You can also write for national publications and submit press releases to Chapter News.
  • If you have the opportunity to work with members of PRSA, do it! If you can serve on a committee or help plan an event, it’s a great way to get to know some pros.
  • Apply for national awards. Did you know PRSSA gives away around $20,000 in scholarships and awards? Check them out here.

Tip: Again, your membership will take you miles if you get active. What are you waiting for?

Choose your summer internship wisely

It’s really important to recognize the fact that this internship might be your last before you graduate. As such, if you do a good job, the chances of you getting a full time position with that company when you graduate significantly increase. Work hard, learn a lot and check out my tips on interning here. Also, getting a top-notch internship doesn’t mean you have to go to Chicago, LA or New York. You can get quality experience anywhere as long as you make it a quality experience.

Even so, you might find that you have a negative experience at the internship. Make sure that you make the most of the position and don’t burn your bridges with that company.

Tip: Choose a company that you can see yourself working for when you graduate. Prioritize what you value and look for companies that are similar.

A word on what you submit professionally

I’ve heard this too many times to ignore putting this in my post. When you submit your resume, cover letter or professional work samples, make sure it’s absolutely perfect. That means no spelling, grammar or AP errors. If a recruiter sees a single error on something you submit, chances are you’ll be out of the running for that position. The reality is that for one position in a PR jobs, there will probably be a ton of applications, especially at the agency level. Make sure your work is the best that it can be and that you and people in your network proofread it.

Another tip that has helped me is make all of your work follow AP Style. In your resume, make sure your states and dates follow the correct abbreviations, don’t write website anywhere (it’s Web site, according to AP) and follow the correct capitalization rules of titles. Again, have this proofread by as many people as possible.

Tip: If you haven’t already, get yourself an AP Stylebook and learn the rules. Some supplemental quizzes are here, here and here.

Get to know the industry

Truthfully, the best way to learn about new things going on in the public relations industry is to read about it. Knowing about account changes, new trends (especially in the digital sphere and best practices will help you learn the lingo and know what’s going on. I’ve included my recommendations as to what to read in order to learn more — I definitely recommend you check these sources out, both in print and online.

Tip: Subscribe to these publications/Web sites to better understand the world of public relations:

School is still important

I participated in a recruitment event for MSU a couple of years ago, and amid a conversation with a future Spartan, I realized something that is often forgotten when career advice is discussed. In my spiel, I talked about how many opportunities he will have to prepare himself for a successful career, but admittedly, I didn’t talk about classes. He then asked me, “so classes really aren’t that important, are they?”

Unfortunately, this is a bad attitude that a lot of over-achievers tend to spread. Sure, gaining internship experience, getting involved on campus and everything else is really important, but doing well in school is a given on the road to success. Even more discouraging is that GPA isn’t the most important thing to a public relations student. I think a better attitude is to treat college like a mini real world: there will always be things you don’t want to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not important.

Tip: Challenge yourself in classes, and do a good job in them — it pays off.

Here’s what my Twitter network had to add:

@ckeppler Obvious, but they should take the opportunity to build their resume with internships and volunteering over the summer.

@LJZuber Make sure to go to networking events as well as run for leadership positions!

@kellee_m Get PR experience to build your resume in any way that you can, even if the job doesn’t pay

@AllisonLeAnn Create & perfect your resume, portfolio, blog/website & interview skills; Network, Network, Network!; Don’t procrastinate!

So, what do you think PR juniors should be doing to stay on track? Anything else to add?

Filed under: Internships, PR Book Club, Professional Development, PRSSA, , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Prepare for PR in College – Part 2

I’m writing a four-part blog post on how to have a successful collegiate career for those interested in public relations. I’m basing this largely off my own experiences (a lot of what I’m including reflects what I wish I would have done during college, particularly in my early years) and those in my network. Please share and comment — with enough feedback, I may write another revised post.

The way I see it, you really need to lay strong foundations in your college career. That means starting early. Sure, some people can pull it off starting in their junior year (and do a good job, too), but if you keep these important principles in mind early, you’ll be off to a great start. That said, here are my tips on sophomore year:

Get your career going!

Now you’re out of the “way to get involved so early” phase that is freshmen year (I heard this a lot), get going with your professional career. Start seeking internship experience during the school year (if possible) as well as the summer after the year. In my previous post, I talked about getting jobs on campus working for the school newspaper or in sales/fund raising — these are great jobs to develop necessary public relations skills. You can move on from those positions to PR internships, or take on leadership roles within those positions.

If you choose the PR internship route, start by making a list of several companies you want to work and find ways to network with their employees. One of these ways is to attend networking events through PRSA and other associations. Another way is the informational interview. E-mail a younger professional with the company and see if they have a half an hour to talk about the company. This is a great foot-in-the-door opportunity, and remember not to be shy.

Tip: Make business cards, attend networking events and follow up with the professionals you meet. You’d be surprised how many people don’t follow up and that puts you far ahead of the rest.

Think diversity

As you begin to think about what you want to do with your career, make sure you’re thinking diversity. This doesn’t necessarily pertain to ethnicity; it means to think of your career in an interdisciplinary fashion. Working at two mid-size agencies specializing in health care probably isn’t your best approach. Try to get as much experience in as many different industries in a many different atmospheres as possible. It’s a mouthful, but learning from different people will help you down the road.

This also means to get involved with different things. Getting involved with communication organizations is great, but also think about student government, research with professors and other leadership opportunities. Sometimes, the best experiences come from where you’d least expect it.

Tip: Try to work in at least three different settings. Some options you have include large and small corporations, differently sized agencies, nonprofits and writing jobs. Try to mix and match with what you would like to do when you graduate.

Maximize your PRSSA membership

If you haven’t already joined PRSSA, what are you waiting for? Sophomore year is a prime time to be active in the organization and network with your peers. Here’s what I would do to maximize your PRSSA membership:

  • Take on leadership roles. Yes, you have to do more than just go to the meetings. Talk to your executive board and learn ways to lead committees, shadow the e-board and learn as much as you can about the organization.
  • Attend regional and national events. Here’s where it gets a little more expensive. Attending National Conference, National Assembly and Regional Activities are great ways to learn more about the profession and network.
  • Work with other Chapters in the area. Get to know some of the other students at colleges nearby.
  • Work for your student-run firm. If you don’t have one yet, consider starting one with a single client and work up from there. Check here for more info on this.
  • Learn about the member benefits — locally and nationally. Talk to your local executive board for information on scholarships and awards, mentoring programs and other benefits. Also, there are so many benefits at the national level. Check them out here.

As you can see, I put a lot of emphasis on making the most of your membership. This organization probably won’t help you if you aren’t active. If you are active and get the most out of your membership, you’ll have a job when you graduate.

Tip: Don’t make excuses — get active, take on leadership roles and go to conferences.

Study abroad or intern?

I’ve heard this debate a lot, and truthfully, there’s not necessarily a better choice. Some companies would rather see more experience, but some of the larger corporations want to see international experience. I know a lot of this depends on your financial situation, so if you have the money and can do it, I would recommend fitting this in some time during college.

Tip: If you can fit in a study abroad, try to do it earlier than later so you don’t have to choose between your trip and a sweet internship.

And here is what my Twitter community thought about sophomore year:

@AdrienneBailey Find an internship with a nonprofit for experience or job shadow to learn the ropes! And of course join & get involved w/ PRSSA

@KarenRussel get more involved in student orgs (as PR rep) and volunteer positions — starts to build experience for internships

@KFo11 and get connected with professors to ask them what they did and what did/didnt work for them! MISS YOUR GUTS

@makeyourownfun Now that they’ve probably had time to hear of some of the student organizations, to get actively involved with them

@AngelaHernandez It’s never too early to gain experience. Do PR for nonprofits, small biz or other student orgs

@kelle_m Take as many writing classes as possible

So, what else do you have to add for sophomores?

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, , , , , , , , ,

21 Ways to Get Hired, Get Ahead and Enjoy Lifelong Success

On Thursday, I attended the 5th Annual Career Summit held by MSU Career Services. The theme of the event was “The Big Picture” and I can’t think of a theme more relevant for those about to begin their career. I talked about having this strategic approach in a recent post, yet the event added a lot to my ideas about what the big picture of my own career is.

The keynote was delivered by Kevin Donlin, an MSU alum who runs The Simple Job Search. He gave us some great tips on finding that job while offering a unique perspective on such priciples as networking and success.

Here are his tips broken up into three groups.

7 ways to get hired faster:

  1. Start with clarity. Figure out what job you want, the skill sets necessary for that position and your top employers.
  2. Stop networking – start helping other people get what they want.
  3. Employers are like children – write what they want you to read. In your cover letter, you should be talking about how you will help your potential employer. Heather Huhman, who was kind enough to give me feedback on my resume and cover letter, has some great tips about this here.
  4. No Experience? No problem! Let other people sell you. Use LinkedIn to get recommendations, but don’t ignore the importance of having a recommendation in print, too.
  5. Combine tactics to product synergy.
  6. Create your own board of directors for your job search. Use mentors and professionals within your network to helped you in your job search.
  7. Start working before you get hired by doing research on the company and offer suggestions and solutions in your interview.

7 ways to get ahead:

  1. Control the first hour and the rest of the day is easy. Kevin recommended not to read the news because it’s bad and out of our control. I disagree with this, probably because I’m a news junkie, but if your specific career doesn’t require this, try it out.
  2. Do it now! Put your ideas into action and get the job done.
  3. Make yourself indispensable. You can accomplish this by doing what others can’t do, doing what others won’t do and by doing more than is expected of you.
  4. Practice kaizen by constantly improving yourself and you work, especially through professional development.
  5. When at work… work. Don’t get distracted by Facebook or the refresh button on your e-mail.
  6. Document your results. Set goals that are measurable and track them. Also, keep a portfolio of your professional work demonstrating versatility and quality.
  7. Learn how to think by writing down things. Instead of just thinking in your head, Kevin recommended you write your thoughts down.

7 ways to enjoy lifelong success:

  1. Find a hero (Kevin’s term for a mentor). Every master was first a student and many are willing to help out the younger generation.
  2. There’s a benefit in every adversity – you just have to find it. With so many people losing their jobs, it’s easy to feel down in the dumps. But by unpacking your experience, you just might be able to get something out of it.
  3. Capture ideas in a journal. Or a blog.
  4. Adopt funnel vision by doing the work in the interview and treating cover letters as sales letters.
  5. Leave your comfort zone. Kevin said that all growth happens beyond it and all successful careers demand it.
  6. Become a lifelong learner. Read, go to grad school.. the opportunities to learn are endless.
  7. You can be a success now. Choose a worthy goal and start making progress today.

All in all, it was a pretty interesting presentation. It’s also pretty relevant to a wide variety of careers.

So, did Kevin miss anything? There are probably many more ways, but I found this to be a great set of principles.

Filed under: Professional Development, , , , , , , , , ,

Being a Career Strategist

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard a trend from multiple recruiters and professionals concerning what they look for in a prospective employee. More than just having internships, demonstrating the right skill sets and showing a professional attitude, it’s important to remember the difference between strategy and tactics. In your own career, you can show employers that you are a strategist, which is more important than just contributing to the tactics.

So, what’s the difference between a career strategist and a career tactician? Here’s what a career tactician does in college and in their early career:

  • Makes a list of internships to complete
  • Plans their class schedule to fulfill all requirements
  • Has a portfolio full showing different things they can do
  • Goes on a study abroad to have international experience

Here’s what a career strategist would do in the same situations:

  • Keeps internship and career options open, but keeps in mind how it will help future roles
  • Takes classes that supplement their career interests, not just to get the credits done
  • The portfolio shows they were part of a campaign and contributed to the success of it
  • Studies abroad and is able to “unpack” and apply their international experiences

There are plenty more, but what it comes down to is being able to see the big picture of what you’re doing and why. If you are a strategist, you can answer why, when, what’s next, was it successful and what would you have done differently. It’s also important to remember that you can be a leader no matter what company or organization you are involved in.

plan1

I think it’s a good idea to take a top down approach to college vs. a bottom up approach. That is, keep in mind what you want to do upon graduation and then find the best things to fill in the gap of that goal and where you are now. If you want to go into PR, a good idea would be to have different internships that emphasize different things.

If you don’t know what you want to do when you graduate, you can still be a strategist. Your goal of what you want to do upon graduation will still require general skill sets that you can enhance with collegiate experiences. Personally, this is where I’m at. I know I want to do PR when I graduate, but where I want to work and with what kind of company… I’m not set in stone. I still know what I need to work on and improve, so I am still able to be strategic.

After you have created your top down plan, it’s a good idea to micromanage each step. When you earn those internships and leadership positions, don’t come in with a checklist of things you need to have. You should approach everything like a sponge – absorb as much information as possible and look at your projects from the big picture prospective. When you’re assigned to write a press release, you shouldn’t just do it. Ask why you’re writing the release and how it is important to the client. The Career Strategist blog has some great posts that talk more about preparing for a strategic career.

Seth Godin wrote a great post on the difference between strategy and tactics. He even says the right strategy can make any tactic work. So, when you’re planning your career, make sure that you know where you want to go and that you’re taking the right steps. Look at the big picture of what you want to accomplish in your early career that will propel you forward.

So, are you a strategist? Any tips or advice on how to become one?

Photo by soccergoalx on Flickr.

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, Public Relations, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Learning from the Critics

I don’t remember exactly how I came across this Web site, but I did last night. It’s called PR Watch and it is run by the Center for Media and Democracy. Here’s how they describe their organization:

“The nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy strengthens participatory democracy by investigating and exposing public relations spin and propaganda, and by promoting media literacy and citizen journalism, media ‘of, by and for the people.'”

Ouch.

Then there’s this video featuring John Stauber, co-founder of PR Watch, who makes the argument that PR = Propaganda. Watch it here.

Double ouch.

I respectfully disagree for plenty of reasons, but that’s not why I’m writing this post (I’ll be writing posts on this later). After searching through the site and reading what they have to say on some different PR companies and campaigns, it’s easy to throw it away as garbage because we’re on the other end of the spectrum. I’ll argue that it’s important to listen to what they have to say in order to improve the industry.

So, as PR practitioners and students, we can take this in one of two ways:

  1. Do any combination of: whining, blaming, disagreeing, fighting, etc.
  2. Respect their opinions and move forward.

I’m thinking the second choice is a little better. The Ogilvy PR Digital Influence Blog has a post on how to deal with negative detractors in the social media sphere, and it’s pretty applicable to this situation. Here are their steps with my additions:

  1. Always say thank you. I like that they point out what they think is bad PR and bad ethics. It’s great that the industry is held accountable to PRSA’s Code of Ethics.
  2. Address the issue. Let’s acknowledge the faults and see what we can do to make it better in the future.
  3. Correct any misinformation. Opening channels of discussion to see what’s wrong and talk it out. I like to think that #journchat on Twitter is a 3-hour Dr. Phil episode that occurs each Monday evening where PR practioners and journalists talk about improving relations. I also think PRSA (and PRSSA) and SPJ should work together on this, too, as each both have ethical codes.
  4. Be transparent and honest. Even more important is regulating and enforcing these ethical standards.
  5. Opportunity is knocking on the door – it’s the future of the industry. Educating young PR professionals and PRSSA members on past mistakes can help make a better future. Teach us to take the right path for our careers.

I’ve found that you can learn the most from your critics. I’ve also learned that you can never learn enough. I’ll be perusing PR Watch and use it a guideline of things not to do in my career. Whether it’s accurate or not isn’t the point.

What do you think of PR Watch? Do you think it’s accurate? Can we learn from our critics? These are questions you should answer – here and in your career.

Filed under: Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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