Posts Tagged ‘ public relations ’

Featured Professional:

Liz Presson (@elizabethcp), Brand Evangelist (Manager) for GOSO, a BOALT product in Washington, D.C.

How hard was it to find a position out of state?

liz-profilepic

Looking for a position in DC was stressful. My internship was coming to an end, and I knew that they wouldn’t be hiring due to the economy. I knew that I had to make something happen fast. For about a month I was doing five to seven interviews a week. Some were for paid internships, but most for full-time positions.

Any down time I had was completely dedicated to my job search. I went to every interview I was invited to. Even though I needed a job and was completely ready to start my career, I was not going to settle. I turned down a couple of second interviews for positions that weren’t going to fit for me.

Because I didn’t know much about the area I had to do a lot of research. I would drive around looking at names on buildings and go home and Google the names. I utilized every contact I had and just asked questions– where should I look, what companies they knew, etc.

What does your position entail?

My position requires that I head up all efforts in the promotion of GOSO,  a social media and marketing suite for automotive dealers. I not only tout the benefits of GOSO to the automotive community, but I also work hard to position the GOSO brand as a social media industry leader. This includes writing all promotional materials: web copy, commercials and blog posts. I present the GOSO product to automotive OEMs (Ford, Chrysler, etc.) and dealer principals. I utilize social media tools and I’m an advocate of the social media movement. I also help design our booth at automotive expos and conferences.

What has helped you develop your career and improve your skills?

I’m lucky enough to work closely with my superiors. The owner of the company, Adam Boalt (@boalt), gives me consistent feedback. He’s readily available and I can ask questions without hesitation. I think that finding someone knowledgeable within a company and using them as a resource is the most valuable way to learn. Honest feedback is priceless.

What has been the most difficult part the transition from full-time student to full-time professional?

As a full-time student and advertising manager at CMU, I was always busy– classes, work and homework. Any free time I had went to being a college kid, as it should. As a full-time employee, my free time is my own. It’s liberating to come home and feel free, but it’s important to decide who you want to be in addition to your 9 to 5. I love my field, and I want to be the best. So, I’ve made my job part of my life. I’m available to clients all the time, and because writing is a key aspect of my job I’m a food writer and I have a personal blog. That’s been the hardest part, deciding what my personal life is going to be like now that I have time for one.

What would you suggest to a young professional who is preparing to enter the workforce?

I suggest entering the workforce with an open mind. I had a very specific idea of what kind of public relations job I wanted, and if I wouldn’t have opened my mind I would not have the job I do today.

Be careful when applying for positions on Craigslist. I was asked to come in for an interview by email for a PR/marketing position posted on Craigslist. When I got to the place, which turned out to be a chiropractor’s office, there were at least 20 other people sitting in the room. The doctor came out and told us that he needed a PR person, but first we had to pass a test. He gave us 100 fliers and told us to go out on the street and hand them out to people who were willing to give their email addresses and phone numbers to us. Then, they would call the people the following week and whichever interviewee got the office the most business would win the position.

Did I mention that this was on an extremely hot DC summer day? I was in a full business suite with high-heals. I had my portfolio and briefcase in hand. The office was clearly getting free help by having interviewee’s work. Truly out of line, needless to say I left after about a half hour and never looked back.

Enter the contest to win a PR/social media book by commenting on this post. Information here.

QuestionsConferences related to public relations are a great opportunity for networking and professional development. Although I won’t be attending the 2009 PRSSA National Conference, I do have a few tips for the students who will be. I’ve attended several PRSSA conferences at CMU, one national conference and a Ragan Unconference.

1. Swap business cards to connect with people after the conference. You’ll be meeting countless people, so write short notes on the back of the cards to help you remember who they were and what you discussed. (Example: “Met at dinner. Discussed agency work. Has planned a professional development event before.”)

2. Never sit next to the same person twice. Networking was the most fun when I sat beside complete strangers and struck up a conversation with them. If you only sit with people you know, you won’t get as much out of the conference.

3. Ask questions. Whether you are in a session or sitting next to someone you don’t know, ask questions to get a conversation going and to learn more. Strive to get as much out of the conference as you can.

4. Know the schedule. You’ll make your life 10 times easier if you know what sessions you plan to attend and where they will be held. Plan to get to sessions as early as possible. This gives you time to network. Also, remember that some sessions fill up fast (in my experience, event planning and entertainment PR sessions were the fullest).

5. Take good notes. You might be able to refer back to them for a project or write a blog post about what you learned.

6. Be a professional. Even though you are a student, you are at a professional conference. Have fun, but act professional. There are PRSA professionals nearby and some of the students could be your future coworkers.

7. Dress nice, but comfortable. Professional dress is the norm at many conferences. Keep comfort in mind. For example, flip flops are unacceptable, so buy some gel inserts for your heels or have a comfortable pair of flats.

8. Get a decent amount of sleep. With a full day of sessions and a night of socials, it’s hard to find time to rest at conferences. But definitely try to get some sleep because you don’t want to miss a good session because you’re exhausted.

9. Take advantage of every opportunity and session. You aren’t required to show up to sessions, so you might be tempted to enjoy the San Diego beaches instead. Don’t miss out on opportunities to network with your peers and learn from professionals though.

10. Follow up with those you met. When you go home, you’ll be incredibly motivated about your career. Be sure to send notes to people you met and thank the speakers for attending the event. It’s great to make that last connection and you will stand out in their mind.

I won’t be there to experience the 2009 PRSSA National Conference, but I’m sure it will be a great experience for those who are attending.

ProfessionalsWin a PR/social media book by commenting and tweeting about this blog post. Information here on rules and prizes.

With the many social networks that are available today, it is important to manage your professional image. How do you portray yourself? What does a potential employer or client see when they Google your name?

Here are three tips on managing your professional image professional:

  1. Facebook status. Don’t use your Facebook status updates to share information about the actions an employer doesn’t need to know about, censor your wall posts and patrol the posts written by others on your own wall. For example, “Getting trashed” is not an appropriate status update.
  2. Facebook photos. While you are not expected to be in a business suit in each photo, use caution when uploading or tagging yourself in pictures. Photos that portray you as immature, inappropriate or unprofessional will impact people’s perceptions on your professional image. Keep watch on the photos your friends upload of you as well.
  3. Facebook apps, fan pages and groups. Some of the applications available on Facebook might be fun, but watch which ones you publish on your wall. Informing people of your results on “What is your stripper name?” might not be the best idea. If you wouldn’t want to discuss it with your company’s CEO or your grandparents, don’t join the group or become a fan.

Some of you might believe that since your profile is set to private, that you will be OK. But, what if your friend works at the company you just applied to? The potential employer could go through your friend to see your profile. In conclusion, think twice before posting to social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

Managing your image isn’t enough. The next step you should take is to use social networks to enhance your image online. Here are four tips to enhance how potential employers see you:

  1. Share ideas and information. Did you read an interesting article? Did you learn something new today? Write relevant and useful updates often. Also, consider bookmarking great links on Delicious to share with others.
  2. Go beyond just joining networks. The best example to use for this is LinkedIn. How many of you are on LinkedIn? And, how many actually use the features of it? Take full advantage of social networking sites. For example, on LinkedIn you can request recommendations, join groups and answer questions.
  3. Start and maintain a blog. Blogging can display to your leadership and knowledge in public relations. It can help others understand the field and inspire them to take a more active role in developing themselves professionally. Write posts that will showcase your skills, knowledge and ambition and comment on other people’s blogs.
  4. Create an online portfolio. If you are truly serious about your career, an online portfolio can help promote your personal brand to potential employers. In addition to work samples and your resume, your portfolio also could have recommendations.

First impressions are extremely important. Your social networks can have an affect on them, so be cautious and work hard to enhance your professional image online.

Looking to enter the contest to win a PR/social media book? Information here.

I’m always looking for writing opportunities. I’ve written for Central Michigan Life and Grand Central Magazine at CMU. Whenever I can, I try to guest blog. Right now I’m writing for Vision Mid Michigan and I have another possible opportunity in the works.

Working as a journalist will immensely help you succeed in your public relations career.   Here are ten reasons why:

  1. Finding the story
    - As a reporter, you are given story assignments. But often enough, you aren’t given clear direction. Or, other times, you are given a possible angle and it will completely flop. So what do you do when the idea you were given just doesn’t pan out? You dig deeper and find the story.

    - As a PR professional, you are pitching the story. You want the editor to assign it to the reporter. If you win that battle, then you must work with the reporter. If you have ever been a reporter, you will know that they want a great story. Helping them find the story will make you more successful and their job easier.

  2. Working on deadline
    -
    Reporters have incredibly tight deadlines. I can’t even imagine how it must be at a daily newspaper. I have a professor and an acquaintance who do though. But, I do remember getting last-minute story assignments at midnight.  I’m guessing the reporter prefers PR professionals who return calls quickly, but don’t bug them with too many follow-ups.

    - PR professionals have deadlines. I know from experience that agency life is incredibly demanding. One of my mentors, Lara, is a complete social media nut like myself and we have had discussions about how hard it can be to find time to blog (let alone take care of other priorities).  My suggestion to new PR professionals is to get back with the reporter ASAP. If you are waiting on some key information, let them know. And as much as some reporters hate it, follow up on pitches. There have been many times when I have called a reporter and they told me to resend the pitch because they hadn’t seen it, but were possibly interested.

  3. Clear, concise writing is key
    - One of my mentors, Dan, always told me to “write tight.” Basically, get rid of the unnecessary. The key to improving any skill is to practice. A lot. When you are a reporter, you spend a decent amount of time writing and editing. You learn how to sum the story up in the first few paragraphs and improve your AP Style skills.

    - Once you become a PR professional, you will already know how a reporter thinks and writes if you have worked as one. So when you’re writing a pitch or press release, you will know what the reporter expects to see in the area of writing.

  4. Interviewing skills
    - Whenever I do an interview, I always prepare as many questions as I can beforehand. Interviews don’t always go in the direction you think they will, but it’s always handy to have questions ready. Reporters do countless interviews to find their story.

    - When working with clients, you might be their spokesperson or you may have to help prepare them to answer interview questions. If you have worked as a reporter, you might be able to quickly draft answers to potential questions to prepare for the interview ahead of time.

What experiences have you had that have helped you succeed in public relations?

Win a PR/Social Media Book

October 13, 2009 11:10 pm | 11 Comments

International Communications StrategyI’d like to celebrate my new blog launch with a contest and you can win a book! I might add more prizes, but for now I have two books. Read on to find out more:

The Prize:
International Communications Strategy: Developments in Cross-Cultural PR and Social Media by Silvia Cambie and Yang–May Ooi (There will be two winners because I have two copies) - each worth close to $50 each

How to Win:
The two winners for this giveaway will have gained the most points by Nov. 1, 2009. Here is how you can get points:

  1. Comment on blog posts. You must leave insightful, good comments. “Good post” does not count. Add to the conversation. Tell me what you think. 1 point per blog post
  2. Tweet about blog posts. Send a tweet such as, “4 Ways Being A Reporter Can Help A Future PR Pro: (link here) by @RachelEsterline.” My Twitter handle has to be in the tweet to get points. 1 point per tweet (unless you tweet the same article so many times that you annoy people)
  3. Post the link to my blog and let people know they can win a book on your own blog (or other site). 2 points
  4. Write a great guest post about PR, writing, Gen Y, career, design, etc. Submit a guest post to me at EsterlinePublicRelations [at] Gmail.com to be posted in the future on this blog. 10 points

The Rules:

Don’t lie or cheat. If I think you did something wrong, I reserve the right to choose a different winner. If your blog post doesn’t make sense, is riddled with errors, etc., then I have the right to deny it and not give you points. If  you have any questions, comment or e-mail me.

Suggested Reading

October 13, 2009 9:00 am | No Comments

Here are a few links to things I’ve found interesting recently:

Social Media

Public Relations

Writing

Career

Why I started a new blog

October 12, 2009 2:15 pm | No Comments

I started blogging towards the end of my sophomore year. I called my blog “A Step Ahead” and wrote about what I was learning through my PR experiences. That blog really helped me get ahead in my career while improving my writing skills.

But now, as a senior, I am starting this new blog to share my experiences as a new public relations professional. I’ve also relaunched my personal Web site and portfolio with a new design. It feels great to have a fresh start.

Subscribe and check back soon. I’ll be having giveaways to celebrate the launch of my new blog. I’ve also created an editorial calendar to keep me posting at least every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m very excited about a few new features I’ll be unveiling as time goes by.

About

Rachel M. Esterline works in public relations and marketing communications. Her blog, ExPRessions, contains her musings about PR, marketing, career and professional development, Gen Y issues, personal branding and more. Rachel also does freelance consulting and writing. She is originally from Genesee, Mich., and will graduate from Central Michigan University in May 2010.