PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

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.


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:


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.


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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On Giving Back

Normally, I like to blog several times in the week, but a recent project (amongst other things) has been taking up my free time. Before I talk about the project, I’ll preface it by saying I’m pretty bad at saying no. I’ve been getting better at learning how, but this was one thing I couldn’t turn down.

About the Project

I’m proud to be part of the volunteer PR team for the Shinsky Orphanage. John Shinsky is an MSU alumnus who literally has been overcoming the odds his entire life. When he was eight years old, his father died and his overwhelmed mother put him in an orphanage. After entering the foster system, John worked and worked to earn a football scholarship at MSU. He then went on to a career in education and now teaches at GVSU. He recently beat cancer and is now biking 2,000 miles with two other friends from the MSU football team to Matamoros, Mexico to build an orphanage there.


The 2,000 mile bike ride from Michigan State Stadium in East Lansing to the “The City of Children Orphanage” in Matamoros, Mexico shows the passion and commitment so many people have for building and supporting the orphanage. These kids are going to have an incredible opportunity because of John and the people of the project. Every day, John asks himself, “Is there anything I’m doing that makes my life worthwhile?” On the Web site, John said, “what matters is that we use those gifts to make a positive impact on people’s lives; whether it’s an individual or a group of people. I am fortunate to have been in tough situations where I could work and overcome them. Some people don’t get that chance.”

John Shinsky is the real deal. My short summary doesn’t do the guy justice. Read more about why he’s doing what he’s doing here.

What I’m Learning

I wish I can preach about how I volunteer hours and hours in any given week and work with different nonprofit organizations, but the reality of my situation is that I’m unable to commit a set number of hours per week to another organization. I can, however, use my skills in a way that can help other people. And that, is what I have come to find out, is so great about public relations.

How many times have you hear negative things about PR? Whether it’s crappy pitches, or unethical behavior; it can sometimes be disheartening to see and hear such bad things about what I want to do with my career. This project, however, has shown me the incredible capabilities I have as a practitioner. I’m starting to pitch the media this week, and it feels so good to have a heartfelt story that journalists would be crazy to turn down.

The Point

Working with John has been an incredible experience for so many reasons. First of all, he really shows his true passion for helping the children out and engaging his fellow Spartans to help him in his effort. Even better is that I’m getting hands-on public relations experience with a great team.

More than anything else, he made me question, “Is there anything I’m doing that makes my life worthwhile?” It’s easy to get caught up in trying to be the best students we can be, but it is these kinds of projects that are truly fulfilling.For more information on the fundraising bike ride, check out the site here. And for the orphanage Web site, check it out here.

I know this post isn’t what I normally write about, but I was compelled to share the goods things coming from this project. How do you volunteer and give back while balancing everything? Any good stories out there?

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Social Media Etiquette

For someone just entering the social media sphere, like many of my friends and colleagues at MSU and PRSSA, there’s a couple of important things to remember. While there are many cool things about sharing content on Twitter and other social networks, it’s easy to make mistakes, too.

One of my favorite bloggers and colleagues is Shannon Paul. Not only did she write a great post on how not to be that guy in social media and did a presentation on it, too. Here’s the Slideshare version:

I’ve come up with some tips and reminders for the younger crowd on how to participate. I think many of us do know how to participate, but there’s some preventable errors we all make. Check out this list:

Consistency is key

As part of branding yourself, it’s important to be consistent. This doesn’t only apply to keywords, titles and social networking user names, but it also applies to your personality throughout the Web. Primarily, this is concerned with our wacky college lifestyle and how professionals use social networks. The biggest thing I’ve run into is my Facebook “personality” versus the “personality” I show on Twitter, LinkedIn and my blog. So, you have two options: keep Facebook for social uses, or add it to your list of general networking tools. I went with the latter. This article sums up Facebook use pretty well.

When is it OK to tweet?

Sharing information is one of the best things about social media, but it can get you into trouble. If you caught the story about an agency employee posting a negative tweet regarding the city where their client is located, it’s a perfect example about posting the wrong thing at the wrong time. The recap is here. It’s good to have a personality online, but make sure that when you’re sarcastic or joking around, people won’t always take it as a joke.

Also, especially as an intern or entry-level employee, it’s important to make sure you should not be revealing or announcing any client information that should not be revealed. If you let any detail slip, it might ruin your media or audience outreach strategy. Whenever you post something about your client online, make sure it’s OK with your supervisor.


When anyone asks me why I’m on Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., I say that I like reading and finding new information.. basically, a news junkie. And that’s the beauty of the Internet – you’re able to find all the information you’ll ever need. But remember, share other information more than you share your own content. You’ll quickly find out how soon you lose credibility if you shamelessly self promote yourself all day long.


As interns, it’s cool to share the projects you’re working on with your fans. But just because you are an intern doesn’t mean you don’t have to disclosure your affiliation with the client. Frankly, it’s not ethical when you fail to disclose the relationship. Be honest and upfront when you’re working on a client project and make sure that you’re not getting your company into trouble.

Networking – old school style

As a student, you’re probably using social media to build your network and learn. I know I am. Make sure that while you’re building your network online, you’re doing it in the right way. Remember that relationships are built through conversation and helping others out. These same principles apply online, too. For some tips on how to take this network offline, I wrote a guest post on Rachel Esterline’s blog about the importance of an offline networking – check it out.

One last rule of thumb

In my public relations techniques class last week, we talked about ethics regarding media relations. We came to the conclusion that if you don’t want your e-mail conversations or any other written communication on the front page of The New York Times, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it. The same goes with social media. If you’re talking about how drunk you were last night or how much you hate your boss, chances are all the wrong people are going to see it. It’s not a chance you should be willing to take.

There you have it, some tips and advice when it comes to social media. Any other tips? Have you seen these mistakes being made?

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

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.

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Gaining Necessary Writing Experience

I attended a presentation last week given by Dr. Richard Cole and Andy Corner, APR. Dr. Cole is the Department Chair of APRR at MSU and Andy is an instructor in the department. They have been working on some research about the level of writing skills associated with entry-level public relations practitioners.

Dr. Cole blogged about the specific findings here, but here is a quick summary. The survey reflects the views of 848 PR practitioners from PRSA.

  • Only 14 percent of PR supervisors think their subordinates are good writers
  • Writing for the media amounts to around 20 percent of the entry-level PR practitioner’s time spent in the day
  • Supervisors graded their subordinates less than 3 out of 5
  • Nearly half the respondents have been reducing expectations of entry-level writing skills

Basically, we need to get our act together.

I think there’s a lot of reasons why this is occurring. First, if you look at the more seasoned professionals, many of them have degrees in journalism and/or worked at a newspapers. Now, many schools have a public relations major and that’s where much of the PR industry is recruiting from. Another reason. While I don’t have any research or stats to back this one up, it’s something I have noticed. Shannon Paul once told me that the future of the public relations industry will need to be able to balance new media with traditional practices, and I think that’s the best approach a student can take.


If  you’re not a journalism major, you can still saturate your degree with writing courses. I’ve found that my political science, English and foreign language courses to be the most useful now that I’m learning a different form of writing. I studied French all four years in high school and that taught me more about grammar than I ever learned in any English class (sadly). At least within my circle of PR students, many of us are intimidated by a “low grade” in a writing class, but sometimes we have to bite the bullet to make the most of your degree.

Here are some resources to improve your writing in addition to your classes:

  • Copyblogger. Read it. No questions asked.
  • Various AP Style exercises: Newsroom 101, Platform Magazine, OK Cupid.
  • Your internship experience should include not only agency and corporate components, but a writing component as well. Work at your college newspaper, write for various departments and offices in the university.. anything. Just make sure you have a supervisor who is willing to make your projects bleed.
  • Join the conversation on-line. Writing a blog will let you make those embarrassing mistakes that lead to you being called out. Just make the mistake and learn from it.
  • Proofing your work. Honestly, I used to never read my work (shame, shame) and I learned the hard way that this really is essential. By printing off your column or release and reading it over, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about proofing and writing.

The bottom line is that you need to be a good writer to be a solid public relations professional. That doesn’t mean you need to write a certain number of press releases, opinion editorials, etc. Remember when I talked about being a strategist rather than a tactician? Learning to be a good writer should be part of your career strategy.

How else can students improve their writing? Can writing only be improved through classes? Are there any other resources we should know about to help improve writing?

Photo by churl on Flickr.

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

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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