Ready. Set. Collaborate – Five Ways PR is a Team Sport

Word PR.Working in public relations is as exhilarating as it is demanding. I can say with assurance that no two days are alike and that a career in this field promises to keep you on your toes at every turn. Most would agree that PR is for those who prefer to create their own destinies, blaze their own trails. There’s plenty of opportunity for this in our field, and that’s why we love it, right?

Sure, but as much as PR allows us the creative freedom to come up with ideas that’ll knock the socks off of our key audiences, PR is very much a team sport. Here are the top five ways.

Teaming up with customer service
In nearly all organizations, there is a segment of the team dedicated to one audience and one audience only: the customer. Since, ultimately, it’s the job of the PR person to attract more of them, you better believe that the customer service team is a key player in the success of the PR team. No need to be a mind reader when your fellow team members are talking to the customers day in and day out; getting to know their needs, their wants, their pain points and so much more. So what do you do? Turn that information into fuel for awesome PR campaigns and strategies.

Collaborating with designers
Once you’re ready to implement a campaign idea, it’s likely that you’ll want some creative assets to go along with it. In the visual storytelling age in which we now find ourselves, having a talented graphic designer on your side is priceless. Whether it’s creating an image to add to your press release or turning facts and figures into a beautiful infographic that can be shared across the web, a graphic designer can add tremendous value to the success of a PR team.

Tapping the stats guy (or gal)
Speaking of stats, nowadays we have more and more companies with a dedicated team member (or an entire team) who simply does data all day long. This is great news for the PR team because we all know journalists love data. Everything from customer trends and company growth to website traffic and Google Analytics; the data guys and gals are on it. Another reason you want to stick by the data miners is to help show and tell the value of PR and how it’s impacting the bottom line. For more on this subject, check out the previous blog post Communicating the Value of PR: Stop Dodging, Start Measuring.

Working with in-house experts
As PR people, we’re usually fielding media requests and coordinating interviews for others. Whether you’re on an in-house PR team or on the agency side, collaboration with your internal experts and thought leaders is a must. Successful teamwork requires more than just setting up time with reporters. It means collaborating on story ideas and PR opportunities that match the person’s expertise and that align with the organization’s goals and key messages.

Cooperating with journalists
Finally, we sync up with journalists to bring value to our respective audiences. Media pitching an idea and working with a reporter to bring a story to life requires input that meets the needs of both sides. On the one hand, reporters have a story to tell. On the other, PR pros have key messages to deliver to their target audiences. The happy medium is a story that adds value and brings something new to the audience.

What are some of the other ways you see PR as being a team sport? Would love to read about them in the comments section!

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber, a certified news junkie and an aspiring world traveler. Check out Andrea’s back story here then follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carterandrea/.

Advertisements

Careers 101: The Difference a Decade Makes

CAREERSIMG

Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway (third from left) with the Temple PRSSA Executive Board at Careers 101.

Register Today for PPRA’s 10th Annual Careers 101

One decade ago, I jumped on the Broad Street Line with several other members of our PRSSA “e-board” and left Temple University’s Main Campus to attend PPRA’s Careers 101 event for students and young professionals.

As we walked into the building at U Arts, I can remember how nervous we all were.  This was our first professional event, where we tried our best to look and act the part. In retrospect, we truly knew little about PR…and being professional, for that matter.  We didn’t know how agency work differed from corporate or nonprofit work. We walked in as PR “newbies” and walked out with our first real PR contacts. (Fun fact: One of these contacts is now a past PPRA president and the other is running for mayor of Philadelphia.)

If any of us doubted whether we picked the right [PR] major, Careers 101 somehow miraculously assured us that we had in fact made the right decision to go into this fast-paced and ever-changing field of writing, creativity and grit.  We wanted to share this experience with dozens of our classmates.  Therefore, on behalf of our PRSSA chapter, I emailed PPRA Executive Director Denise Downing and, should the event ever be held again, offered to host it at Temple University.

Not only was the event brought to Temple, it remained there for three years before moving to PECO for another three years.  Then, after speaking at a Drexel PRSSA meeting, their chapter reached out to me and offered to host the event.  Needless to say, the event then went to Drexel, where it was held for two years.  Now, the 10th Annual Careers 101 will be held at The Liacouras Center at Temple University, where my career started a decade ago partially as a result of this wonderful event.

As such, I have participated in the event every year since its inception, as an attendee, PRSSA president, College Relations Committee chair, panelist, networking volunteer, resume critique volunteer and now in my capacity as president-elect. It has been an honor and pleasure to watch this event grow and flourish. Each year there is a different angle or twist.  This year, in honor of Careers 101’s 10th anniversary and PPRA’s 70th anniversary, the panelists are all past presidents of PPRA and are some of the top PR pros in Philadelphia and beyond.

PPRA’s College Relations Committee has worked hard to put together a thoughtful program that somehow adds an element to one-up years passed.  Over the years, thanks to the honest feedback of the students and young professionals, as well as input from past panelists and university/college faculty and professors who have supported the event, changes have been made to improve the event for anyone involved.  For example, in its first year, there were only a handful of professionals in attendance, which resulted in a half hour wait for students to get their turn to talk with them.  Event attendees can now expect to network with up to a few dozen professionals in attendance.

The Committee wanted to come up with something else new and special for the 10th Careers 101, so this year’s attendees can look forward to getting their professional headshots taken for their LinkedIn profiles.   Also, a number of PR professionals are raffling off their time for shadow days, networking lunches and informational interviews.  The access to high-caliber professionals is a tremendous value to students and young professionals alike.  Of course, what’s Careers 101 without a resume critique?  That must-have bonus will be available again this year.

If you are a student or young professional considering going into PR, this event is for you. Your path to internships, mentors, professional contacts and maybe even employment opportunities, it all starts here.  If you are a PR professional and you have interns and/or young employees, this is an event they will benefit from…and where you might be able to find your next interns!

Additionally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the 2015 Dr. Jean Brodey Student Achievement Award.  This award honors a college junior or senior who has exhibited outstanding professional promise in the field of public relations, has an excellent academic track record and contributes to his or her community. Any PPRA member or internship supervisor in the Philadelphia region may submit nominations for the award. Self-nominations are welcome. The winner receives a commemorative plaque and a $250 cash prize.

To learn more about the PPRA Dr. Jean Brodey Student Achievement Award or the PPRA President’s Fast-Track Award, which honors recognizes an up-and-coming professional who has contributed greatly to the organization, the profession and the community,visit:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5891762/2015%20Awards%20Information.pdf.

See you at Careers 101 on April 1!  Remember, your career is no joke.

Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway is President-Elect of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association and Director of Communications and Marketing at the Philadelphia Bar Association.  Follow Meredith @MZApoetry on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/meredithavakian.

This is a great career path. Now what?

Rita_Friedman_PCC_headshot

With the continued steady growth of the public relations industry – up 11% in 2013 according to The World Report and anticipated to grow 12% over the next 8 years by the US Department of Labor – this is a great time to be a PR professional.  But just because companies are spending more time and resources on their reputations, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be the one reaping the benefits.

Just as you wouldn’t want a dentist with bad teeth or an unfit personal trainer, your clients won’t feel comfortable with you if you don’t have a clear brand of your own.  While early in your career, your goal may be to gain as much broad-based experience as possible, as you mature, you probably want to narrow your focus and become The Go To Person for something.

Pinpoint your value.  Identify exactly what it is that sets you apart as an expert in the field:  Do you serve a certain type of client?  Do you know how to cater to specific demographics?  Do you offer a depth of knowledge regarding a given industry?  Are you known for helping startups define their place in the market or for helping established organizations revamp their images?

Make a name for yourself.  In addition to whatever bio your employer maintains on you and having a strong presence on LinkedIn, you should have a place where potential clients can get a feel for who you are.  A website with your own blog, digital portfolio, and clear contact information is key.  Be sure your online footprint reflects your PR style and speaks to your target audience.  (A WordPress site isn’t going to impress major multinational corporations; a complex site with an ultra-sleek feel isn’t going to put small locally focused organizations at ease.)

Be careful to separate your work and your personal life.   It’s not simply a matter of making sure your clients don’t find those less-than-professional pictures you couldn’t help but post of inappropriately hilarious things your kids have done – it’s also a matter of being able to dedicate yourself to the task at hand.  If you never disconnect from work, you’re much more likely to burn out on both fronts.  With the increasing expectation of connectivity and the blurring of personal/professional, it’s more important than ever to set boundaries for yourself.

Manage your calendar.  Just as you wouldn’t send out an email blast or slap together a press release on a whim for a client, you shouldn’t let the pacing of your career go with the flow or be another item on your to-do list.  This works on both the micro and the macro levels.  Defining clear blocks of time each week as “personal” and “professional” can help enforce those boundaries.  Setting bigger picture career milestones or checkpoints for yourself can help you stay on track when you get caught up in the whirlwind of your home or your office.  Literally – pick a date to take stock of your career and mark it on your calendar.

Maintain your resume and your portfolio.  Add this to your calendar, too.  Even if you absolutely positively love what you’re doing right now, make a date to review your own marketing collateral at least once a year.  You never know when some amazing opportunity is going to pop up (or, some unanticipated disaster), but if/when it does, you’ll be ready to tackle it.

Continually expand your horizons.  Take advantage of networking and career development opportunities – PPRA has regular programming geared specifically towards industry professionals, and there are plenty of other exciting events throughout the region all the time.  Set a goal for yourself – plan on attending one extra event or volunteering your time for a cause at least one extra time each month.   Add events to your calendar to make sure you actually go!  Do this right now.  Seriously, open a new window in your browser and just do it.  You’re much more likely to go if it’s on your agenda.

Become a leader*.  Mentor junior-level personnel – you’ll need someone to fill your shoes as you move up to the next step in your career.  Take charge of a project at work.  Find ways to contribute to the community through volunteering or participating in special initiatives.  Use your career objectives and value propositions as markers to help you find ways to align your endeavors with your goals.  Feel free to add these experiences to your resume as appropriate.  *Ask for help as needed and look to learn from colleagues – this only makes you a better leader.

Above all, treat yourself as you would a client.  Your image, your messaging, and your visibility as an independent professional is your career.

Certified Career Coach Rita Friedman  –  PhillyCareerCoach.com –  helps clients plan their careers, conduct effective job searches, give great interviews, and grow professionally.  She provides one-on-one coaching, leads small group workshops, and writes a career advice column for Philly.com.  Subscribe to her blog or connect with her on LinkedIn.