PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

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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All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Check out his Web site here.

Back in junior high, I had monthly visits to the orthodontist. In his office, I saw a poster that read “all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.” Despite the horror of braces, that sign stuck with me. Now, a couple of years later, I still find a lot of these principles to be true in both personal and professional settings. Go figure! Here are some of my favorites:

Share

Whether it’s a stuffed animal or your lunch or even five minutes, sharing is a great way to build relationships. In the PR industry, agencies pitching companies to earn their business will sometimes send articles about the company they find in various media outlets to build rapport. Sharing is also a great foot in the door – especially when it involves making time for some one. It’s important to remember that is someone scratches your back, you need to return the favor.

Social media makes sharing knowledge and information really, really easy. Start tweeting with people, commenting on their blog and generally engaging yourself in coversation. I haven’t come across many people that aren’t open to hear new opinions and to get more input. Don’t be shy!

Play fair

Every kindergarten class has the one kid who thought he or she was the supreme ruler of the world and therefore is entitled to special rules in games, the right to take snacks from everyone else, etc. Those standards are the roots for a disastrous career.

I really look up to professionals who uphold high standards of honesty and ethics. This summer I worked at a company that really valued ethical professionals. The company culture that grew from this ethical base reflects on the solid professionals who work there and the stellar work they do for their clients. When I graduate, I’m going to be looking for a company with a solid code of ethics and that actively follows that code in their work. I hope you all consider that, too.

Flush

While this might have been referring to something completely different, the principle is the same for me: if it’s just floating there not doing anything, get rid of it. When I was redesigning my resume a couple months ago, I had some (what I thought were) cool extracurricular activities on there and were near and dear to my heart. After getting it critiqued, everyone else seemed to come to the conclusion that I needed to “flush” those bullets and add some more important things.

In today’s rapidly changing world, we need to have the ability to let things go when they aren’t working. If it’s holding you back from something better, don’t be afraid to “flush” it. This might create more work, but it will be worth it in the end.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours

A deal breaker when working on a team is not giving credit when it is deserved. Who doesn’t like to be recognized when extra effort is put into a task? I’ve been working in ad sales at The State News for around two and a half years and I have been really lucky with bosses who are fantastic at recognizing hard work. At our weekly staff meetings, everyone who beats their monthly goal gets a shout out. If you really kicked butt, you get a lot of oooohhhhs and aaaahhhhhs.

Even if you’re not in sales, recognition goes a long way. Nothing motivates me more than getting a message from a boss or co-worker thanking me for the extra effort.

When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together

This is my personal favorite. And I have to say that I can be guilty of rushing into something before I look both ways before crossing the street. Take the time to do your research. Look and listen to all the options – you might miss something if you only look or listen. Also, “traffic” might come at you from any direction, so always be prepared. Whether you lose your job or change your major, awareness and reaction are key.

The most important part of this is the last part: stick together. One of the reasons that I love the public relations industry so much is how genuinely supportive professionals are to students. While students can get a lot out of a mentor and internships, I also believe that professionals with an open mind can get just as much out of the relationship. So, cross the street with your team – whoever may be on that team.

So, what else did you learn in kindergarten that still works today? Any cool examples out there?

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Why I Don’t Say “Busy”

Working with several different teams, there’s one word that really grinds my gears and that is said way too often: busy.

For starters, I looked up the real definition of the word. Nope, not from the Webster’s dictionary. Urban Dictionary has a great definition that really captures how I feel about it:

1. Busy. Attempting to seem important, and not being shy about it. I’m so busy that I can’t keep up with all my phone calls and e-mails. I am so important!

OK, I know this definition is a little extreme and over-exaggerated, but it emphasizes my point.

Today, and for the past couple of days, I did a little experiment. Whenever I asked some friends and co-workers how everything was going, I started mentally keeping track of how many responses talked about how “busy” they were. Granted, it’s drawing upon finals week and I hang around a lot of over-achievers, but are we really that busy? And furthermore, are we really too busy to help out others?

I’ll be the first one to admit that I use the “b” word a lot. I wouldn’t go as far saying that the “b” word is offensive, but it’s close. Let’s face it – we’re all really, really busy. We balance jobs, professional associations, school and hopefully a social life. If everyone is doing so many things, is it really necessary to talk about how many things you do? I don’t think so.

While there are some points when I get frustrated or tired, I remember how lucky I am. Even though I have a lot of stuff to do, some things more fun than others, I really like what I do. And I’m honored that I get to have a job and leadership positions that often take priority over class. Don’t tell my professors I said that.

I’m quickly finding out that success in the public relations profession is based on networking. After all, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.. right? It’s important to keep in mind that when you scratch someones back, chances are they will eventually help you out at some point, too. This was one of the points discussed at our PRSSA Chapter’s PR vs. Journalist Discussion on Media Relations back in September. For PR people, this especially holds true with reporters. For every one reporter, there are a lot more PR practitioners. You can stand out amongst the crowd by being the one that helps people.

All in all, there aren’t that many people who are too busy to help out someone else. I know I’m not one of them.

Well, this will be as close as it gets for this blog to get into personal stuff. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’ve got thanks on the mind. So, the next time someone asks you how things are going, think of a more unique answer than the “b” word.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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