PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

Timeless Tips I Found in Chicago

During the weekend, I attended a PRSSA Regional Activity in Chicago. It was a great event with a lot of useful information, no matter your level in college. I also will disclose that I’m a bit of a conference junkie and hop any conference I can fit in my schedule. This was was particularly well planned and the programming was fantastic. I give my props to the planning committee from Valpraiso and DePaul.

I even got to stop by the office that I'll be working at over the summer. It's near the top of this monster. Cool!

I even got to stop by the office that I'll be working at over the summer. It's near the top of this monster. Cool!

I found the interviewing workshop to be the most useful for me. Below I’ve recapped some of the tips I got from the event:

  • Prepare your toolbox. Have a strong handshake (not too strong), bring extra copies of your resume and cover letter, have your portfolio in hard copy and on CD (or online if possible), prepare your elevator pitch and have business cards.
  • Research your prospective companies. In public relations, finding an internship can be extremely challenging, so many of my colleagues tend to apply for 10+ internships each summer. That’s fine, but it usually works out that you get the interview with the company you know the least about. Make sure you do your research and set up Google Alerts on each company to keep in the know about news and developments.
  • The core elements to a successful interview are as follows: 40 percent attitude, 25 percent image, 25 percent communication and 10 percent job qualifications. Note: your job qualifications are the lest important. While this may not be true for every company, the take-away here is that if you get the interview, you can sell yourself on your attitude, image and communication skills. Basically, come in there with a smile, think beforehand about some questions that might come up and answer clearly.
  • When answering questions, use the PARK model: problem, action, results, knowledge gained. In situational questions, keep this in mind. Also remember that it’s OK to admit you’ve made mistakes; if you have learned since and corrected the problem, that demonstrates maturity and skill.
  • Utilize grouping answers in threes. When the interviewer asks about your strengths or weaknesses, give three each time. One isn’t enough and four or more just sounds too much.
  • If you’re asked to start with “a little about yourself,” use this format: education background, what you’re passionate for and why you’re applying. Skip the “well, I’m…” and “uh.” This is one that you can easily prepare beforehand.

The last thing I learned was something that I think is timeless. I went to lunch with some friends that I see at PRSSA events and one of the things that came up was how knowing fellow students eventually turns into professional relationships. It’s hard to think that all of the people going to these conferences with you will soon be your colleagues, but it’s imperative to build your network with them, too. Don’t cut them off in line at the career fair and don’t ignore them.

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

Why Digital?

Until yesterday, I thought it was because I wanted to learn more about digital media and how it’s changing the public relations industry. That pretty much changed at the PRSSA Regional Activity I attended. In downtown Chicago, I went to a couple of presentations from local professionals discussing professional development and how to get ahead in the industry.

Most of them said that knowing how to use digital media will put you ahead of many, but I disagree. From taking my New Media Drivers License course at MSU, I’ve realized that there is a lot more to digital media that just “doing it.”

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You need to listen to the conversations happening online, but you also need to know how to contribute.Between AdWords, various social networks and blogging, there is a lot to know before throwing yourself or your company out there. All in all, the basic public relations principles apply when moving online: have a clear objective, be strategic and evaluate your progress all the way through.

For more information on the course, I recommend checking out my course Web site. You can get a New Media Driver’s Licence, too.

Photo by Krista76 on Flickr.

Filed under: New Media Drivers License, Professional Development, Social Media, , , , , ,

Lessons Learned (and Relearned)

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the PRSSA National Conference in Detroit. Growing up in the the suburbs of the city, I was proud and excited for the conference to be in my backyard. Even more exciting was the energy and zest PRSSA and PRSA members brought to the city. With more than 3,000 public relations practitioners in Detroit, it was a really great time.

My first conference was last year in Philadelphia, and since then, I have attended every national event. This year, I was able to network with new people, see new practices and participate in unique sessions. More importantly, I relearn at every conference how dynamic and elastic the PR industry is. I also leave these conferences motivated and excited.

Besides the breakout sessions, I found those PRSA general sessions with a speaker outside the PR industry to be the most valuable. Some pretty incredible speakers with extensive backgrounds in the industry lead the breakout sessions, but to me, an outsider’s perspective on the industry and on business in general is even more valuable. I came to this conference with about 30 other MSU PRSSA students, and every one thought that the general session speakers weren’t relevant to public relations.

Just because the speaker isn’t the CEO of a huge PR agency does not mean that they can’t offer real advice to public relations practitioners.

When we work with clients, the audience of any campaign probably won’t be the ones who put together the campaign. As public relations practitioners, we communicate to families, students, adults, the baby-boomers and everyone in between. We also communicate to the nerds, corporate executives and journalists. That’s why Craig Newmark, Bob Lutz and Mitch Albom were able to make such a strong impact on me. Here is what each had to say:

  • Craig Newmark of Craigslist discussed his experience founding a start-up Internet company that would become one of the most visited sites on the Internet. My favorite part about his presentation was that he still does work at the bottom of the company- he works in customer service to ensure that his consumers are satisfied with his product. How cool is that?
  • From a more corporate perspective, Bob Lutz of General Motors discussed why communications is so valuable. To me, I was so relieved to hear from a guy who supports communication and values it sincerely. He was honest and blunt, and made sure to remind the audience to keep up with the times. Communication is a constantly evolving industry and we as professionals need to always be learning and integrating new tactics. PRSA’s ComPRhension blog does a great job recapping what he had to say here.
  • As a Detroit-native, I have know about Mitch Albom for a long time. I know that he’s a sports writer, a talk show host, a columnist, and a host of other things. He told us the story of how one of his books was written. He also reminded us of the power of connecting with people and networking. Even as students, we can start building these connections and maintaining them. Follow up with the people you met this weekend and contact them once in a while. Hey, you never know what might come out of your network.

Even though there were so many positive aspects of the conference, I felt that the conference was a bit lacking on practical social media advice, and I think that represents the knowledge and expertise that is still being acquired. In the social media sessions, we were told to join the conversation, learn how to use the tools and be smart about usage. But how can we use social media for our clients? How should we not use it? What are some case studies on social media?

All in all, this was a great reminder of the ethical, professional and knowledgeable industry I am hoping to enter upon graduation. I relearn at every conference how great this industry really is and how bright its future is.

For all PRSSA/PRSA attendees, what did you think of the sessions? What did you take away from this conference?

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