Careers 101: The Headliner of Philly PR Student Networking

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Register for Careers 101 here.

Careers 101 is a networking and career advice event hosted by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, aimed at helping public relations and communications students connect with professionals in their field. Maybe you are wondering: ‘so what?’ That could describe most networking events anywhere. What makes Careers 101 so special? Well, I could tell you that it is because of the hard work put on by the students and professionals that planned it, or the amazing quality of the panelists and networkers each year, or the amazing sponsors, such as The Creative Group, who make it all possible; but really it’s all that and more.

11 years ago, Careers 101 began as a small event at U Arts, and has since matured into a Philly PR staple for students and young professionals alike. This year, Careers 101 will be at the PECO Energy Hall on 23rd and Market Street, but in the past it has been held at Temple and Drexel Universities as well. At the event, students can look forward to meeting Philadelphia’s very best PR professionals, from the recently graduated to the not so recently graduated. This year, the panel will consist entirely of past PPRA Fast Track award winners. The Fast Track award is given to one individual each year who have made an impact on the profession early in their career and continues to be a trailblazer – so you can be firm in the belief that these panelists have only the very best to offer you. And if you’re feeling nervous – don’t.

Last year was my first time at Careers 101, and even though I’d helped to plan and host the event, I was still nervous as I walked in the doors of the building. Because I had helped to plan it, I was nervous that no one would show up or that people wouldn’t like it. And because I was (and still am) a student, I was nervous about mingling with professionals in the field that I want to become a professional in. But as it turned out, I had nothing to be nervous about. Why? Because all the older, super experienced PR professionals were once in yours and my own shoes: a PR student or newbie looking for some contacts to understand the industry. After the panel ended I picked out the first person I wanted to talk to, reminded myself that they were a student once too, and introduced myself. In fact, after about five seconds I blanked on the entire English language. Instead of any number of negative reactions I was envisioning, my conversation partner laughed, clapped me on the arm, and asked me what I thought of the panel. This opened up the dam, so to speak, and we had a great conversation and agreed to have lunch soon.

Attending Careers 101 helped me decide where I want to work after graduation, and gave me the resources to get there. I met some awesome people and created lasting connections, I heard some top-notch advice from PR’s best, and I even got free tips on my resume and a professional headshot! The Careers 101 of this year will afford you all of the same benefits, benefits that will only multiply as you attend more events, which is why you can expect to see me there again this year.

Faiz Mandviwalla is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with concentrations in Public Relations and International Communication. Faiz is an Assistant Firm Director for PRowl Public Relations, recently completed an internship with Bellevue Communications Group, and is an active member of PPRA’s College Relations Committee and the Temple PRSSA chapter. Follow Faiz on Twitter @faizmand and on LinkedIn here.

#PPRAMemberMonday: Tyler Cameron

Meet Tyler Cameron, PR Account Coordinator at Slice Communications who joined PPRA a year ago. Tyler is a public relations professional at Slice Communications, a premier Philadelphia agency comprised of fully dedicated public relations and social media teams. Tyler provides clients with actionable content and data-oriented approaches that help them to expand awareness and grow their audience.
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Twitter: @tdfcameron
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tdfcameron1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tylercameron

PPRA: Tyler, tell us a little bit about your PR background.
TC: Prior to joining Slice, I studied strategic communication and business at Temple University and graduated in the Spring of 2015. I served as the Vice President of Temple University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. In this position, I oversaw the organization and orchestrated chapter programming. I organized and executed multiple panels and events with industry professionals, students, alumni, and Temple University professors.

I was a former intern at Slice Communications responsible for securing a number of impressive media placements for a variety of clients. My other experience includes coordinating social media efforts for a Philadelphia startup and executing guerilla marketing initiatives for music streaming service, Spotify.

PPRA: Who are your clients, and what projects are you working on right now? 
TC: I work with clients in various industries, including healthcare technology, architecture, education and financial services. Recently, I announced the launch of a new healthcare platform created by CloudMine, a startup in Philadelphia. I’ve also been working on promoting various projects that BLT Architects is working on throughout the city, including East Market and the Logan Hotel, in addition to establishing thought leadership for the firm’s principals in various national trade publications.

PPRA: What’s your favorite part about your job?
TC: My favorite part about my job is the team in which I work alongside every single day. The familial culture that has been implemented at Slice allows me to come to work excited every day. We constantly bounce ideas off of each other and support each other in various endeavors. It’s not often that you experience a work environment comprised of your friends.

PPRA: What’s your latest and greatest accomplishment your job?

TC: In February, I was published as a contributor in Hotel Business Review, a premier online weekly resource for hotel industry professionals on HotelExecutive.com. As something that is often reserved for C-suites, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute an article as a young professional. The piece focused on implementing social media strategies into hospitality marketing and highlighted tactics such as creating “Instagrammable” experiences and utilizing popular Instagram influencers. I am very proud of the article, which you can read here: http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/4607/integrating-instagram-into-hotel-marketing-strategies.

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?
TC: Always keep learning. Make sure that you’re constantly educating yourself on everything you can get your hands on, even if its outside the scope of your position. Take the opportunities that come your way because you don’t know how they’ll pay off in the short or long-term.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?
TC: I actually really hate reading books or watching movies more than once or twice. I prefer to watch or read something I’ve never experienced before. I feel like I’m missing out on something else if I spend my time doing something I’ve already done. Although, one movie that I thoroughly enjoy is Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. And of course the Harry Potter series.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?
TC: Provolone, wit.

So You’ve Landed Your First Job in PR. What’s Next?

As new entrants to the field of PR, we sometimes find it surprising to realize that we actually did it. After years of late night study sessions, internships and perfected resumes, we’ve finally landed our first job. Now the time comes to ask, “what’s next?”

Compiled here is the advice of four young professionals and a peek into their experiences over the course of their first year in the field.

Learn As Much As You Can

It is so important to be eager to learn. Don’t shy away from asking questions or expressing interest in something new. Whether you’ve done it before or not, jump into new projects. You gain experience and can demonstrate your willingness and ability to learn on the go.

Keep Your Cool & Speak Up

There is always a lot going on. In the first year, it can be a bit overwhelming until you get into a groove. Try your best to stay organized and on top of your deadlines. But if you think you have too much on your plate, say something!

Maintain Work-Life Balance

It’s easy to get caught up in work, so be sure to check yourself to make sure you have balance.

Be Curious

Ask questions and learn from your superiors. Also, do your part to stay on top of major media outlets, trending topics and best practices in the industry. Having an understanding of industry trends and current events can help guide client recommendations and business decisions.

Take Notes

Take active notes in meetings, during presentations and on client status calls. You’ll never regret writing down too much, but you’ll thank yourself when you need to remember something important.

Prioritize

Learning to prioritize can be difficult, so don’t be afraid to ask your superiors for help. Once you are able to iron out that practice, it becomes a lot more manageable to get work done. 

Get Involved

Philadelphia has a lot to offer, from major events to professional organizations, there’s no shortage of opportunity. PPRA, for instance, is a wonderful resource for professional development, networking and much more.

Build Your Reputation

Be visible within your office and start to build a reputation for yourself. A little extra time can go a long way, so be willing to offer a helping hand and jump in when you can.

Have Fun

Have fun and befriend your coworkers. You spend a majority of your time with them, so it’s important to enjoy and get to know the people you work with!

One Final Piece of Advice

Your first year in the field is all about setting the foundation for your career, so make the most of it.

Author: Kellsey Turner is a PPRA member and an Assistant Account Executive at Vault Communications. Follow her on Twitter @KellseyTurner and connect with her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellseyturner.

Contributions by: Amy Bonsal, Marketing & Communications Specialist at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children; Rachel Christie, Assistant Account Executive at Brian Communications; Colleen Lynch, Assistant Account Executive at Vault Communications.

What a 3rd grade teacher can teach us about getting free media coverage

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In many ways, Stephen Flemming is your quintessential elementary school teacher. He knew since he was a child that he wanted to educate children. But teaching the youth of Philadelphia isn’t the only thing this teacher excels in.

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You see, Flemming is not just an educator, he’s also a media magnet. Being a teacher inside the Philadelphia School District, he has first-hand knowledge about the district’s drama that us Philly folks see in the news every other day. What’s more, this third grade teacher has strong opinions about the condition of the district and what it means for Philly’s children. So, he takes to Twitter, his blog, and public forums to sound off.

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The result is that news media flock to him. Below is a Q&A with Mr. Flemming on how to get free media attention.

Q: How did u start getting noticed by reporters?

A: Around 2010 I began submitting my opinions to the Philadelphia Daily News’s daily views and opinions section. I wanted to express how I felt in response to a political figure speaking negatively about public school teachers. The person’s comments bothered me so badly, it came through loud and clear in my submission and the paper published it.
Tip #1: Have something worthwhile to say!

Q: Why do you think they continue to come to you?

A: I think the news media continues to come to me for a couple reasons. As a teacher for the Philadelphia School District, I’m on the “inside.” But on top of that, I’m not afraid to talk and give my name. This is a big deal with reporters. People are reluctant to give their names for fear of losing their jobs or the potential scrutiny that may come as a result. But journalists won’t pursue stories with sources who don’t want to talk.
Tip #2: Closed mouths don’t get press!

Q: What role does social play in your ability to get media coverage?

A: I use Twitter and my blog to unleash my thoughts on what’s happening inside the Philadelphia public school system. A key piece of advice is to use trending hashtags that are associated with your topic. In my case, it’s #phled. Hashtags have faithful followers (many of whom are reporters) who will read, react, and retweet. As far as my personal account goes, there are quite a few reporters who follow me on Twitter and most of my interview requests come through DMs. I don’t know of any journalists who subscribe to my blog, but some will tweet my posts so I do know they’re reading and following.
Tip #3: Use social media to show your thought leadership

Q: What’s your “hook”?

A: When I post something on social media, I don’t think about it. I just speak the truth. Reporters are looking for “real” and I think the public wants it just like that as well. I speak from experience and I never talk on behalf of other teachers; just myself. Also, I have no shame in calling Philadelphia’s public school district out on Twitter. Keep it real, tack on a hashtag at the end, and you’re sure to get someone’s attention.
Tip #4: Keep it real

Mr. Flemming’s four tips work. See for yourself. Here are just some of his media mentions from 2015.

Billy Penn – Sixteen Young Teachers and Leaders Shaping Education in Philly
Technical.ly Philly – How Schools Across the Philadelphia School District are Building a Tech Culture
Philly.com – Teachers Express Anger at SRC Decision to Impose Contract Terms
Philadelphia Metro – Street Talk: The Reality of Budget Cuts in City Schools
NBC 10 – Judge Grants Injunction for Philly Teachers

A version of this blog post originally appeared on The PR Maverick blog. To view it, click here.

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber and a freelance PR consultant. Visit her website, The PR Maverick, and follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR.

Four Ways That Being In Public Relations Is Like Being a Backup Singer

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When I first watched the 2013 documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” I was captivated by the storytelling, the history, and the music that made it an Oscar-winning film. I also felt some personal connection to the characters, and I couldn’t help but see their relevance as metaphors for the public relations profession, at least as I know it.

In my experience, being a PR professional has been all about working outside of the spotlight to make others look good. Rather than a Flavor Flav-type hype man, if the client is the “star,” then in many cases I’m the “backup singer,” adding detail, accentuation, and the necessary ideas to flesh out a plan or initiative and make it feel complete. In that spirit, here are four ways that being in PR is like being a backup singer.

1. You work to make the star shine brighter

There’s no doubt that public relations takes talent to perform well, but you’re always applying your skills to draw the attention to the main attraction, whether that’s an individual, a business, or a product. It’s a role we play mostly anonymously. Some PR folks do become rock stars in and of themselves, like Richard Edelman or Peter Shankman to their Luther Vandross/Sheryl Crow counterparts, but it’s clear that they’ve succeeded on the merits of their core work ethic in addition to their talent.

2. You understand what can be accomplished as part of a team

There are great independent practitioners out there, but nobody works in a complete silo, especially those of us at agencies. When you have colleagues that you can bounce ideas off of, share insights with, and talk through problems with, it’s possible to work at a different level than you can alone. As recounted in this Washington Post article on the movie, a festival-screening participant addressed director Morgan Neville, saying; “Most of us work collaboratively, for bosses, in positions we’re proud of and which are key to the successful running of an operation, creative or otherwise.” I believe this is true no matter how talented you are.

3. It’s the depth and details that sell the story

What would “Young Americans” be without the backup singers? Would “Walk on the Wild Side” even be considered a classic if not for the “do do do’s”? Let alone the wailing of Merry Clayton in “Gimme Shelter”? The details and the hooks brought out by the backup singers add richness to the story of the song, and are often what sell it to the listener. In much the same way, PR professionals find the information that substantially transforms an ordinary pitch, press release, or piece of marketing content into something much more valuable.

4. Success is defined by the love of the art

As Merry Clayton says in the film, “there’s no guarantees in entertainment,” and the same is true in public relations. We can’t guarantee a media placement. We can’t guarantee the messaging will be relayed verbatim, or even accurately. We can’t guarantee an article run date. But we can guarantee putting in the time and critical thinking and creativity to make sure a client’s goals are achieved to the best degree possible. Every one of the best public relations practitioners I’ve worked with has had many times where things didn’t work out as planned, but they’ve continued to persevere in the industry because of their integrity and their work ethic. What keeps a true PR pro going is the inspiration of helping to get a story told, just as delivering the music drives the singers in the film.

Public relations has its ups and downs, just like any job. We work not to garner accolades, but to provide a foundation for communications and often guide the direction for clients. It’s a presence that is felt and is vital, yet when executed properly is hardly noticed. By filling in the details, public relations ensures that the background is developed, providing complete harmony instead of an awkward silence.

Adam Leiter is a PR professional with ab+c Creative Intelligence, responsible for the strategic development and implementation of communications programs for clients in a variety of industries. Working with a team of communications professionals to earn media opportunities for accounts including B2B, B2C, non-profit, and civic engagement programs, he seamlessly weaves in social media strategies, digital services, and creative development to ensure an integrated marketing program on behalf of clients.

*This post was previously featured on LinkedIn.