PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

University Code of Ethics

In my public relations tactics course, we were assigned to write a letter to anyone we wanted. Most wrote to companies supporting products or to legislators supporting the smoking ban. I wrote a letter to the President of Michigan State University asking to adopt a code of ethics. Go figure.

A view of MSU's north side of campus.

A view of MSU's north side of campus.

I’m not posting this because I’m frustrated with the university – in fact, I kind of think MSU is the greatest place in the world. I wanted to post the letter to see what you think about it. Do you think a university should have a code of ethics? Is there any public relations value in having such a code? Would students care about this? I think yes to all of the above, but what do you think?

“Dear President Simon,

As a student at Michigan State University, I cannot put into words how grateful I am for the opportunity to live, learn and grow on this campus. I arrived at MSU in 2006, and I am proud to say attending this university has been the best decision I have ever made.

However, I believe that the university is missing a key component in its quest to educate students. This component is a code of ethics, and it is incredibly important for any business or institution to adopt and implement. Part of the MSU Mission Statement describes how the university strives to provide outstanding education to students so they can “contribute fully to society as globally engaged citizen leaders.” I believe that now more than ever, it is essential for this university to demonstrate a strong ethical base to shape future leaders. While there are several ethics classes offered in the university, there is not any single thing that ties everything together. This is an opportunity the university can use to be a leader for its students, faculty, staff and the community.

I was disappointed to see that ethics was not part of the university’s core values. Quality, inclusiveness and connectivity are all important ideals and the university does a tremendous job integrating these in various forms throughout campus, but a commitment to ethics is just as important as these values. In my own experience as the Chapter President of the Public Relations Student Society of America, our code of ethics is a driving force behind the organization. We strive to educate and inform our student members about the importance of making ethical career choices. The public relations industry is often a punching bag because of critics claiming we lack principles and morality, but our organization is working to overcome these perceptions. While the university does not have an unethical reputation, I believe that an overlying theme of ethical behavior on campus would greatly contribute to the education of every student.

The University of Virginia Code of Ethics, which is available on the university’s Web site, demonstrates how a code of ethics can be integrated within the goals and purpose of the university. If MSU truly strives to “advance knowledge” and “transform lives,” having an ethical base is key to success.

One challenge facing a code of ethics, whether it is within a business or organization, is holding the members accountable to their actions. However, by challenging everyone affiliated with the university, including professors, administrators and students, to uphold the highest ethical standards, I believe this university can leave a mark on each individual. Furthermore, these individuals will be able to share and spread their knowledge and values.

Ethics is essential in any field of study and these principles will take MSU to a higher echelon of professional development. I genuinely hope that you will consider adopting a code of ethics university-wide in order to serve as a model for your students.”

Photo by Eridony on Flickr.

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

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, , , , , , ,

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.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Investing in Your Career

Back in my freshmen year, I served on our PRSSA Chapter’s committee to host a regional activity. This was the first event (of many) that triggered my passion for the public relations industry. We had some great sessions and I learned a lot. But if I can remember anything, it was Rhoda Weiss’ keynote address to us.

While this regional conference was occurring, Rhoda was serving as Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America. I could go on about her accolades as an industry leader, but suffice it to say that she rocks.

She talked about investing in your career as one of the best things that you can do as a pre-professional. For some of us students, professional development can be expensive. Add up traveling to conferences, membership dues, magazine subscriptions… you can easily drop a couple of grand in a year. I recommend planning out your year and setting aside money with each paycheck to be used for professional development. I don’t want to disclose any details of my sad bank account, but I do have a separate account strictly for professional development things.

Here’s a list of some of the things a pre-professional should be spending their money on:

Professional association membership
If you know me, you’re probably heard me say, “you know, you really should join PRSSA…”At the beginning of the semester, I promised our eager group of students that if you make the most of this organization, you will walk out of MSU with a job. And I mean it. The economy affects the amount of jobs, the changing indsutry affects the amount of jobs, but if you make the most of your student career, you can prove your worth to any company.

After discussions with a couple professionals, there are three general things companies look for: education, professional experience and professional development. You can get good grades in school and have a couple of solid internships, but there will be people who have done the same as you AND been involved in student organizations and associations. Don’t underestimate the power of networking with your peers – after all, you will be working with them when you graduate.

Professional development seminars
Your group or organization that you join will most likely have some kind of conference. Go to it! It makes a world of a difference when you list your group on your resume and being able to answer the question, “so what did you do with _______.” Recruiters will know the difference between an active member and a non-active member.

Some pretty awesome PRSSA Chapter Presidents at the PRSSA Leadership Rally in Scottsdale. I had a blast and met some of the coolest people in the world.

Some pretty awesome PRSSA Chapter Presidents at the PRSSA Leadership Rally in Scottsdale. I had a blast and met some of the coolest people in the world.

For PRSSA, the most common objection I hear is “it’s too expensive.” I’m not made of money. But I do have my conference registration saved up for next year. And the year after. Professional development takes priority in my pre-professional career over a new car or spring break. I’m not saying don’t spend money for fun, I just can’t emphasize enough the importance of saving your money for the right things.

Dress the part
You will be judged if you don’t look your best at interviews. Once you get the job, it’s important to stay on top of your appearance, too. Make the investment in a really good suit or two that will last for a long time. A good friend of mine, Jenni Lewis, pointed out to me that she will buy expensive business clothes because she knows they will last a long time. Also, keep in mind that people look from the bottom up. Give a nice pair of shoes, too.

Industry publications
Making yourself knowledgeable of the current industry news sets you apart from other interns and entry level employees. You never know when you’re going to run in the CEO of your company – it’s best to have something to talk about.

The good thing about industry publications is that most will have student discounts. PRWeek and Advertising Age both do – check them out. Also, pay attention to when these publications are seeking participants for surveys interviews. It’s a nice way to get some ink before you graduate and makes you look pretty cool to potential employers.

There’s a nice supplement to the above list. Please note that I did not say alternative – it’s important to do both. You can do some of these things online! Read blogs and news. For blogs, get started on Alltop.  Check out podcasts – you would be surprised what a quick search of “public relations” or any other industry search shows up on iTunes. Also, follow the right people on Twitter and you will hear about Web seminars and discussions.

What else can you do invest in your career? Is there a way to invest too much in your career? Not enough?

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

A Social Media Workshop from a Pro

On Friday, our PRSSA Chapter had the pleasure of hosting one of the social media greats to come in a run a hands-on workshop. Shannon Paul of the Detroit Red Wings showed us everything from setting up accounts, why each social media platform is important and how they can be integrated in public relations.

As a student with a couple of internships under my belt, I am finding the best way to supplement what I am learning in my classes is to get experience and get involved. Besides finding an internship, workshops and seminars that such organizations as PRSSA offers fill in the gaps to make you a more well-rounded pre-professional. Here are some of the things that we touched on:

  • Social media is an information trade. While traditional print media is only one voice yelling at a large group of people, social media offers the opportunity to have direct conversations online. Cool? Yeah, it pretty much is.
  • Using and understanding SEO (search engine optimization) is key to having a strong presence online. There is not need to have a clever headline if it won’t show up in a Google search.
  • The people who are best at social media are the ones who are the most human. Don’t endlessly self-promote, don’t change who you are, and most of all, don’t be that guy. Be a human!
  • The future of the public relations industry, for my crowd, at least, is straddling the fence between social media and traditional public relations. You don’t want to only know how to use social media tools and be able to play on Facebook all the time. But you don’t want to only know how to write press releases and make follow-up calls either. Know both. Again, try to be as well-rounded as possible.
  • Social media is a tool, not a channel of communication. Supplementing a public relations campaign with social media tools, especially today, is the key to success. Shannon called social media “connecting the dots,” and I think that’s a pretty cool way to put it.

Then, we got on the computer and set up new accounts. The first thing Shannon recommended was to set up a Google Reader account and start reading. Shannon showed us how to use Alltop and find blogs that interest us. Here’s what I read:

I read a lot more, but those are the best. I totally recommend that you add them to your Google Reader, too!

Also, Shannon talked about joining the discussion on social media. Comment on other blogs before you start your own. And always remember to promote other blogs more than your own. Again, don’t be that guy.

Lastly, it is important to remember that as a student, it’s OK to make mistakes on social media. Whether it’s a misspelled word on your blog (it’s happened to me) or an inaccurate opinion that you tweeted (it’s happened to me), you’ll live. Always ask for feedback, encourage people to comment on your blog or other forms of social media, and learn from others. That’s how this blog got started.

What do you think? Was Shannon crazy or right on target?

Filed under: Social Media, , , , ,

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