PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

Final Presentation from NMDL

I had my last New Media Drivers License class a couple of weeks ago, and our final project was a presentation on what we learned. I wasn’t a stranger to new media in the beginning, but I still learned so much. I think the most important thing I learned was, while I have some pretty solid knowledge of today’s media, tomorrow will be different. Keeping on top of things is important, but as the brilliant Shannon Paul once told me, the new wave of PR professionals will need to walk on the fence between new practices and old techniques.

I tagged all of my adventures under “New Media Drivers License” with this blog, and you can see more about the class here. Because I already some sort of preexisting knowledge about new media, my presentation was a little different than most of my classmates. I focused on these areas:

  • Your online brand
  • Ethics in social media
  • The power of an offline network
  • Continuing your education

Check out the presentation below or on my Slideshare profile.

I’m hoping to help out Derek Mehraban, the instructor, teach the course next semester, so I’m looking for some feedback from all of you. What would you like to see in a new media class? Does your school (or association) have some sort of indstruction on new media? Any best practices you’d like to share?

Thanks for the help!

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

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.

Share

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.

Disclosure

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, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Writing

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, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Public Relations in 2009

I’ve seen a lot of posts going around about social media in 2009, specifically ones from Brian Solis, Shannon Paul and Todd Defren. Check them out – those are some pretty solid posts. So in anticipation of the new year, I wanted to write about what I think is going on in public relations in 2009 – challenges, obstacles, what’s working and what needs to change.

From my perspective, here are some of the buzzwords within the industry for 2009:

Diversity of the industry

I see diversity as more than solely differences in gender, race and ethnicity. To me, diversity is just different kinds of people. In public (or people) relations, it’s important to keep in mind that when you are reacing out to a large audience, chances are that audience will be very diverse. Learning how to reach out to different kinds of people is key to successful public relations outreach.

Another point of interest – I was listening to a recent PRSA diversity podcast and heard a great discussion on the future of diversity in public relations. I discovered that 90 percent of PRSSA members are female – HOLY COW. The industry is definitely dominated by females, but it seems as though this gender gap will only widen. While I have my own theories why this is happening (hint: some of my friends call me a party planner.. yuck), it’s something that the industry needs to pay attention to. Also,

You can check out the PRSA Diversity Today podcasts here. They are full of great information.

New standards in PR education

Because public relations is a constantly changing industry, PR education needs to be constantly changing, too. I’m lucky to have a solid curriculum at MSU – we have a strong balance of PR academics and PR professionals teaching courses that are generally relevant and topical.

I think combining theory with practical experience is the name of the game for successful PR education. Last semester, I took a journalism class on writing for the media. It was a really great class because touched on some history and communication models in addition to working on a press kit for a Lansing-based non-profit. It gave the students the opportunity to build their portfolio right in class.

public-relations

Is PR Social Media?

I’ll be honest – I don’t have an answer for you. And I don’t think that the answer is black or white. But I will say that knowledge and understanding of social media is becoming more and more important for the public relations student. It’s also becoming expected, too. One thing that us students sometimes forget is that we really do need to know the basics of PR, too. Solid writing skills, understanding business principles and office etiquette will still trump having 10,000 followers on Twitter – at least in 2009. We’ll see what 2010 has to offer.

Ethics for you and me

I think 2008 was a year of dishonesty and unethical behavior. Whether it’s the Madoff scandal or the Blagojevich drama or the Wall Street CEOs and their ridiculous bonuses; it hasn’t been a pretty year. I’m hopeful that corporations have learned to be honest, ethical and transparent – 2009 will be the year to show it. Now more then ever, public relations professionals are relied upon to build that trust. Mike Cherenson from PRSA talks about how important this will be for the professional in a PR Tactics article.

Advocacy for itself

Public relations professional often get tied up with client work that the industry often forgets to advocate for itself. We need to hold our colleagues and clients accountable to high ethical standards and make sure that the rest of the world knows we’re doing it.

The new wave of professionals

My fellow public relations students are tenacious, curious and dedicated. But as I previously mentioned, we need to remember the PR fundamentals, too. The future of the public relations industry, as I see it, balances old habits with new techniques. We can’t get too caught up in the blogosphere – we still have to go to class, right?

Call me an optimist, but I’m really excited for what 2009 has to offer the PR industry and PR professionals. While there are some challenges ahead, there is much to accomplish, too.

What else am I missing? Where do you see public relations going in 2009? Are you as optimistic as I am?

Photo by Rasso on Flickr.

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