December 14, 2011
Guest Post from DeAnn Baxter, APR
Job seekers should take heed from guest post. DeAnn Baxter knows from personal experience in this recession the trials and tribulations of job seeking. Her story has a happy ending as she landed HER dream job. So will you, by following her advice:
We all know seeking a job is tough, especially these days. While things are improving on the job front, you still need to be patient. Your search may take weeks or months, but if you approach it the way you would a public relations campaign, your strategies and tactics will help you. The key is to stay focused and keep at it!
Target your search.
Understanding that link between what you want and what the employer needs is the way to secure employment. Don’t grasp at straws, applying for every job out there, hoping something will eventually stick. What interests you? What do you like about public relations? What kind of work environment do you find stimulating? That area where the Venn diagram overlaps is your sweet spot; apply for jobs in that space and don’t stray, or you’ll be looking again in six months.
Prove your worth.
Provide helpful tips in social media spaces. Start a blog to share your knowledge and demonstrate what you’re learning about a specific industry. Comment on industry blogs or answer questions on LinkedIn. Read industry newsletters to stay on top of trends and educate yourself on areas where you’re weakest. Whatever you do, don’t waste your time!
Watch your online profile.
When you post on Twitter, it’s there for the world to see. When you announce each job you’ve applied for, and follow-up with “…and it’s my dream job!!!!” people will not take you seriously. Instead, link to articles about public relations or your target industry to position yourself as an expert.
Looking for a PR job? join the Help A PR Pro Out tweet chat December 15 at 1 PM ET to get resume writing tips from professionals. Use #HAPPO on Tweetchat.com to join in.
Be persistent, but don’t overdo it.
When you’re in front of a potential employer, ask questions like “When will I hear from you again?” or “Would next Tuesday afternoon be a good time to follow-up with you?” Put your mind at ease knowing that you have a firm date as to when you and your potential employer will be in touch again. If you don’t hear from them by that time, you know you can call without being annoying.
Don’t take no for an answer.
So, you didn’t get the job. Ask what you could’ve done better. Some HR folks are unable to give that kind of feedback, while others are willing to give you pointers. Listen carefully, take their advice to heart, and press Keep the faith.
Don’t get discouraged. Find others in the same boat, or find a mentor willing to help. A second set of eyes on your resume can go a long way, as can a word of advice, a positive message, or a note of support.
When the call for an interview does come, be ready! Until that day comes, practice at least one interview question every day, update and have copies of your resume, get your portfolio in order, and dry clean your best suit. The last thing you want to do is scramble for an interview when your nerves are already kicking in for an impending interview.
What do you think? How can unemployment help focus a job search? What tips do you have to stay upbeat and persistent in this economy?
DeAnn Baxter, APR, works in corporate public relations. She holds bachelor’s degrees in public relations and speech communication from Penn State and a master’s in PR from Johns Hopkins University. Connect with DeAnn on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Other job search posts here:
Navigating the Job Market: The Interview
Tips for the Recent Grad Job Search
Networking, Follow-up Key to Job Hunt
Job Seeking PR Pros – The First Move is Yours
November 29, 2011
This phrase from Sir Walter Scott (Scottish author & novelist, 1771 – 1832) has been coming to mind a lot lately as we learn of communicators practicing in deceiving manners. It’s very frustrating for the thousands of professionals who practice with ethical standards and commitment. It doesn’t seem that hard to me to observe the tenets of the professional Code of Ethics.
The basic tenets that guide my personal life also guide my professional life. I wouldn’t have it any other way:
I pledge to conduct myself professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness, and responsibility to the public; to improve my individual competence and advance the knowledge and proficiency of the profession through continuing research and education.
While the basic premise of the PRSA Code might seem fairly easy to understand and abide by, it seems some in the profession, and also many in the media, are hell-bent on showing what unethical professionals we are.
Take a few of the most recent examples. In each of these cases, professionalism, honesty, fairness and responsibility were overtaken by greed and ego. Additionally, once uncovered the perpetrators really didn’t seem to understand what they had done was wrong.
- Utah Mayor Mike Winder created a fake identity and provided his local newspaper with articles about his town…quoting the Mayor. He also used a guy’s photo found on Google Images as his alter ego.
He says he just used a different name to get the publicity his city deserved. But he had to lie to get it so did his city really win in this case? I don’t think so.
- LA-based Coglan Consulting Group created fake news sites for their clients so it looked like their clients were getting more news coverage. Gini Dietrich covered this quite well last week on SpinSucks as did PR pro Denis Wolcott when the story first broke in September.
In this case, I can’t really find a statement from either Coglan or their clients, namely the Central Basin Water District. So…no apology? No commitment to make changes in how you do business? Unbelievable.
- Facebook hired Burson-Marsteller to smear Google in the press. Then, when exposed, the agency deleted Facebook posts on its page about the incident. Burson really didn’t do a great job of cleaning up the mess.
This one hit especially hard because Burson is one of the oldest and most respected agencies in the US. It was founded by Hal Burson, one of the fathers of modern public relations. The agency apologized (called lukewarm by many) and promised to make sure their employees understand more about the code of ethics.
- Reverb Communication wrote fake product reviews for their software customers about a year ago. The FTC cited them but many media put all PR pros in this bucket.
In this case, Reverb said there were no rules against what they did. I was reminded of my Mom who would regularly ask us…if he asked you to jump off a bridge would you do that too? The answer, of course, was a sheepish no.
What’s missing from each of these stories is someone to say – hey don’t do that. It’s wrong. But also, what were the leaders at each company, client, agency or organization saying? For that matter, where were all the employees involved? It’s hard to believe it got this far without someone raising a flag. But I think it takes some guts to raise the flag today, when jobs are tight. However, one still has to feel good about going to work.
We need to feel okay in our jobs when we question a decision, especially when it’s a question based on honesty, transparency and decency.
One that’s so far from what we were taught as children we know it’s wrong. And, as senior leaders, we need to provide an environment where that line of questioning is allowed and even supported. We need to listen respectfully and promise to change. In fact, we need to teach ethical practices, demonstrate what high standards are, and reward those who support the ethical practice of public relations.
October 11, 2011
This week, like many of my colleagues, I’m scrunching my work week into about 4 days before heading to Orlando for the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference.
Coming from Alaska, I’m also looking forward to some warm sunshine. This conference is my largest professional development expense each year but it pays dividends well beyond its expense. For those coming for the first time, or wanting to know how to maximize the experience, I offer some tips:
1) Plan ahead for professional development workshops
There are so many professional development workshops it can be overwhelming. Before reaching Orlando, figure out what types of things you want to learn. Then you can focus your attention on those topics in the program. To make things easier, the workshops are divided into several tracks:
- Strategies — Sessions address strategic thinking and planning, reputation, behavior change, branding, marketing mix, risk communications, collaboration and policy development.
- Tools & Techniques — Sessions address proven tactics, techniques and case studies in public relations, integrated marketing communications (IMC), messaging, word-of-mouth, media relations, media pitching, content creation, skills building and social media.
- Specialization — Sessions include targeted content for PRSA Professional Interest Sections-sponsored programming, focusing on specific audiences and industries. Topics include health, global, travel, employee communications, diversity and financial, among others.
- ROI — Sessions address the roles of research, social media measurement, ethics and brand value, as well as The Business Case for Public Relations™.
- Leadership & Management
Download the conference app to your smart phone and select session you want to attend. At the bottom of each session on the app is “add to calendar.” If you think you’re interested, add it. Once you’re done, check your calendar for duplicates and decide which is the higher priority. I sometimes don’t delete the second choices from my calendar as, occasionally, a session won’t focus where I thought it was going to focus. It’s okay to move to your second choice when that happens.
2) Take notes
Once you’ve decided on sessions, download the presentations for those workshops which the presenters provided ahead of time. Then, take notes so you can remember relevant information when you’re back home and need to apply it. On the other hand, don’t spend so much of the conference note taking that you don’t see those around you.
3) Attend social and networking events
Meeting other professionals from around the US and other countries is a wonderful benefit of the conference. Don’t skip out on any of these events including the opening night reception, lunches, exhibit hall events and such. In fact, there’s a newcomer’s session Sunday morning at 11 AM. This is a great opportunity for those new to the conference.
If you have a specialty or want to grow one, check out the activities from PRSA’s professional interest sections, especially during Monday’s lunch. Here you can meet people who share your specific career interest. There are also a couple of tweetups already scheduled you shouldn’t miss…even if you’re not on Twitter.
There are also opportunities to meet with senior professionals from PRSA’s College of Fellows about your career goals, have your resume reviewed and get answers to your most pressing professional needs.
Now that you’ve made a few friends, get a group together for dinner on Monday night. There are several restaurants within 10-15 minute cab ride of the hotel.
You don’t have to wear your most formal business clothes but make sure you look professional. Slacks and sweater sets are some of my favorite outfits. You’ll be mixing with those who could hire you some day as well as those who want to work for you. Look —and act — the part you want others to see. Wear comfortable shoes. No matter what, you’ll be walking a lot to get from workshop to sessions and such. There’s no point in having achy feet.
5) Have fun
Having gone to the conference and been involved in PRSA nationally for several years, I see friends there I only see at conference each year. But we look forward to seeing each other. The time spent chatting in the lounge or hallways can be as valuable as the time in a workshop.
When you get home, enter your new friends’ contact information in your address book and send a follow-up note. Connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or whatever your favorite tool is to keep you connected throughout the year.
August 30, 2011
Almost every day I see another discussion about who owns social media, whether social media will completely reinvent the profession of public relations and on and on. I’m not going to weigh in and answer any of those questions because, quite frankly, I don’t think it matters. Instead I’d like to offer my own viewpoint on how public relations professionals can enhance strategic communications programs by employing social media tools.
For more than thirty years, I’ve been proud to be a public relations professional. I’ve built strategic plans that are based on research, analysis, communications and evaluations. Those fundamentals haven’t changed with social media and I don’t expect them to change with the next mousetrap to come along either.
What has changed are the tools in our tool box and the way we communicate and engage our target audiences. Obviously, the reason this change is occurring is the way our audiences receive their news has changed. Does it mean every program needs to contain all the social media tools? There are literally thousands of social media tools from which to choose so the answer is a resounding no.
I maintain it all goes back to planning…if you don’t know where you’re going and why you’re going there, how can you possibly know when you arrive? By the same token, if you don’t know to whom you’re talking, how can you possibly know how to reach them?
As outside strategic counsel to my clients, it is important I understand the tools and when it’s best to use (or not use) each one. That’s how we rationalize spending time each day reading, learning about, and using the new tools. Some days it seems there are too many but most of the time it’s fairly easy to know where to concentrate.
That means I do a lot of listening and planning before I choose the tools. And, I haven’t completed too many plans lately that don’t include a mix of traditional and new tools that are available. If we are going to affect change for our clients, we need to know what’s out there and what is having an impact on their customers’ decision making. In the end, it’s normally telling a story to a variety of people, using multiple tools and tactics.
How do you listen and learn what’s important in your world? Do you believe public relations can continue to grow and thrive? What do you think are the obstacles in our way? Can we really live in peaceful harmony?
August 9, 2011
I was in a meeting recently with a group of seasoned professional communicators. As seems to regularly happen, someone was lamenting the fact they don’t have a seat at the decision making table within their organization. Through the course of the conversation I began to wonder if we bring this on ourselves?
- Do we understand what senior management wants from the communications team?
- Do we offer insight into the stakeholders they don’t get from other sources?
- Do we understand the customer in a way senior management doesn’t but should?
- Can we articulate a strategy that shows we understand what they need?
And…do we offer insight regularly and in a way they want to hear it. Not that we need to say what they want to hear. But we do need to speak in language they understand.
- Do we know enough about the activities of competitors and stakeholders that we can answer questions on the spot?
- Do we appreciate and understand management’s goals or are we always trying to sell our own?
And, my favorite…
Are we offering more than media relations? Public relations today is about much more than sending out a press release.
Instead, it’s a complex series of multi-disciplinary strategies that require analysis and understanding before use. In fact, it’s often advisable to offer management a series of options where they could select from different options.
As professionals, we need to be able to demonstrate the numerous tools in the public relations tool box. It’s not that imperative the senior manager/executive understand how to use these tools, or really even use them. However, they must know that their communications professionals do.
If we don’t understand the perspective and vision of senior management; we can’t expect to have that seat. Because, quite frankly, we aren’t helping them.
I would suggest that these questions, and likely many more, should be front and center before we consider requesting that seat. In addition, find ways to gain some understanding of the language of business. It will make it easier to speak management’s language.
Have you gotten a seat at the table? What did you do to get it? What advice do you have for professional communicators still angling for a way in?