Career Tools from PRSSA

For all public relations students out there getting near graduation or planning way ahead, PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) has provided some GREAT tools for transitioning from college life to career life in the field of PR.

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A few important things to check out:

Industry Information This includes valuable resources about our field in general. Look through career path information, salary data, skills inventory and a career advice packet, all to help you better understand what you’re getting into when it comes to a career in public relations.

Resume Posting Did you know you can post your resume on PRSSA’s website directly? What a great way to let your name and credentials cross paths with PR professionals, by posting at their professional organization’s website.

Rather than give a whole list of what else is available, I’ll let you check it out for yourself! Click the image above to go to PRSSA’s Career Tools and explore!


Zuckerberg the next Jobs: Good for PR?

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In the wake of Steve Jobs death last week, many have been speaking highly of the legacy he left, with good cause. I would venture to say that he was one of the most influential men of the century, and can undoubtedly be given much credit for the state of technological advancement our nation and our world is in today. As a true Apple fan, I’ve already ordered my iPhone 4S, and can’t wait to see how the company will continue to innovate with the spirit of Jobs’ motivation and dedication at the helm where his personal genius is no longer.

All that said, as Jobs’ story is recounted, many wonder who will go on as heir to his legacy and throne of innovation leadership. The strongest front runner so far seems to be Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s young and sometimes controversial CEO and founder. This article has a lot to say about why Zuckerberg is so similar to Jobs, and is headed in the same direction with his career and his company: toward wild and lasting success.

While no one is assuming that the two have the same vision and the same company, this idea could have a PR impact on both Apple and Facebook. The question is whether that will provide good PR or bad PR for these companies.

Personally, I think it’s going to promote good PR for the companies and provide more coverage on each end for both Apple and Facebook. By associating Zuckerberg with a legend like Jobs, especially just after his death when many people seem to forget a person’s shortcomings, the press is providing Facebook’s founder with a more positive and friendly image–something he’s long been lacking. Fortunately for Apple as well, for avid Facebook consumers, seeing the brain behind their beloved social media network associated with another company fosters trust and goodwill toward Apple. This trust and goodwill is developed as consumers who associated positively with Facebook attribute some of those association to Apple as well, just due to the comparison.

Overall, I think this association is good for both Facebook and Apple. And it makes a lot a of sense.

According to the article, “As companies, Facebook and Apple may not see eye to eye. But their founders are kindred spirits.”

Isn’t that the truth?

#journchat: My First Twitter Chat Experience

As a PR student, you would think I’d have at least a little bit of experience with Twitter Chats. Until today, I definitely did NOT. I was actually a little bit clueless as to just how a Twitter Chat worked, so I googled it and came up with this little gem to help me in my endeavor to participate in the elusive “Twitter Chat” scene.

I have to say, I was skeptical at first, but I think this was a great experience! With social media like Twitter and LinkedIn, professionals have an unprecedented opportunity to dialogue with others in their industry from all over the country and the world.

I loved being able to not only ask questions of seasoned professionals, but read the opinions of journalists, PR people and other students. The main questions asked by the moderator sponsored great discussions about the dichotomy between traditional and citizen journalism, the relationship with PR pros and journalists, and tips for new journalists and new PR professionals as they enter the workforce.

The best part about it was seeing people comment and tweet to one another in real time. This is a concept that puts the functions of Twitter in a microcosm of a small group of members Tweeting one another which gave me a renewed perspective on how Twitter works and why it’s so effective for communication. A Twitter chat just concentrates the members participating in conversation and condenses the time between responses by scheduling a chat at one time.

The great thing about this Twitter chat in particular, #journchat, is great because it’s well established and brings together a wide variety of professionals from the journalism and PR professions. The conversation is much more diverse and much more beneficial to the participants when there is a diverse crowd involved.

I also loved seeing my number of followers increase just slightly as chat participants chose to follow me. I also followed them back, as well as some other chat participants that I am interested in communicating with in the future.

All in all, I think this Twitter chat was a beneficial experience for professionals, however I’m not sure how well this concept would work for other types of chats. I’ll have to look into other kinds of Twitter chats, not related to professional conversation, in order to learn more about Twitter chats in general.

I’m glad I finally have some experience with this unique way to utilize what Twitter has to offer!

The Most Important Thing: [Online] Reputation?

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We’ve all been told that your reputation is the most important thing you have. But for a company, what about their online reputation? It can certainly have a huge impact on how publics perceive an organization, and can often impact that company’s bottom line depending on the industry.

But with good PR, managing an online reputation helps ease the impact of negative online publicity. Thanks to this article from PR News Online, “How to Wrangle Your Reputation Online,” we can gather a few important tips on how to handle this.

Let’s discuss their three main points.

1) Checking the brand online daily. In order to effectively manage an online reputation, the organization has to be completely tuned in to what people are saying, who’s saying it and why. A once a month glance at the Twitter feed won’t cut it. Tools like site rankings and SEO tactics can help keep the organization’s website at the top of the list for users online, ensuring that more of the information publics are receiving about the organization is coming straight from the horse’s mouth and less from secondary sites. It’s also a good idea to see what is coming up when users search the company or related specifics via search engine. It’s good know what information they’re getting and how easily they’re getting it. Even monitoring more general keywords related to the company or its industry can be helpful.

2) Manage customer reviews. It’s important to take note of what people are saying in customer reviews. Especially the negative ones, but rather than ignore them, the best tactic is to respond, and do so quickly. A lot can be said for a company that actually works with complainants instead of shutting them out. Also, use of SEO techniques can ensure that the positive reviews and comments rank higher than the negatives. That way, people searching for the organization don’t get negativity as their first impression.

Last but not least…

3) Maintain social media sites. This is absolutely vital to managing an organization’s online reputation! Any company that has a Twitter, Facebook, etc. but doesn’t use it, or doesn’t use it enough, gives the impression that they know they need to connect with publics online, but they just don’t care enough to put the time necessary into it. The last a good PR person wants to do is make their publics feel like they don’t actually care. Good social media activity includes daily posts, as well as responses to posts made by publics. This not only gives publics an opportunity to communicate with you, but it also shows others that you’re willing and eager to communication with them.

5 Things to Know About Nonprofit PR

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When it comes to nonprofit PR, there are so many different things to be covered. So rather than try writing a novel, I’ll boil it down to five of the most important aspects of nonprofit PR, taking those I find most useful from this list of 10 in the Worcester Business Journal. (These are listed in no particular order.)

1) Media Ties For nonprofits, having a good connection with the media is absolutely vital, especially with the obstacle of distrust of nonprofit organizations in the marketplace. A good relationship with varied media outlets and pitching good, interesting and news worthy stories to them will garner good coverage to improve the nonprofit’s position in the minds of their publics. Nonprofit successes, fundraisers that have a visual story or a great achievement always make for a good news story, so pitch those events creatively to the local media.

2) Heart Strings This is one of the aspects of nonprofits that can set one apart from the crowd. People respond very positively to emotional appeals. Anyone ever seen the ASPCA commercials? You know what I’m talking about. Showing personal accounts of those who have benefited from the organization will help to show¬† publics why the work has value. This is where the nonprofit can begin to connect more deeply with publics and get them involved, whether it be through donation, volunteering, or other ways of support.

3) Proofread Now, the article only discusses this briefly in relation to press releases, but this is of the utmost importance for all documents put out by a nonprofit. Anything that looks half done, has typos and errors, or appears to be something that anyone could create on their own computer is going to send a message that the group is amateur, doesn’t have any money (and is therefore bad at fundraising and communicating the message) and isn’t worth anyone’s time or money. Who really wants to support an orgnaizatoin that cant splel anthing corectlly? It comes off as not only poorly done, but lazy, and that’s the last thing an organization wants to be seen as when trying to garner support.

4) Multimedia There’s nothing that looks more professional than simple, but well-edited multimedia content. When it comes to an organization’s website, Facebook and other social media outlets, videos and photos should be included as often as possible to show, not just tell, the publics what the organization does. While putting together good multimedia may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t take more than a decent video camera (a Flip or iPhone would work), a simple editing software (like iMovie or Windows Moviemaker) and a little bit of finesse to create something informative and emotional to reach an organization’s publics.

5) Get Linked In organizations like nonprofits, publics want more than anything to feel a relationship to the organization, and therefore an association with the good the group is doing. By connecting to people through Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media, an organization can help foster that relationship and improve the group’s retention rate of supporters, donors and volunteers.

Framing Negative Conversations Positively

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Difficult conversations with coworkers, bosses or subordinates in the workplace can be a huge challenge if you’re not prepared. Our human instincts don’t always promote self-control and careful wording. But in order to get real results from your challenging discussions, you must take note of some important communication skills that allow you to use the principles of PR to handle the task.

Let’s go through these six PR principles defined by APR Kami Watson Huyse, a 17-year-veteran of PR and co-founder of PR firm Zoetica, and apply them to challenging workplace conversations.

1. Tell the truth

If you have to tell someone who’s working for you that what they’ve produced is not up to your standards, don’t sugarcoat it or alter your message. The situation will never improve if you just tell them that you want to take the project a different direction. While that may be true to some extent, if it’s not the reason they’re work isn’t acceptable, don’t tell them that. You don’t have come down on them so hard that they’re terrified to turn anything into you again.

You might be tempted to say: “This is shotty work. We can’t use it because you didn’t do a good enough job even though I told you exactly what I wanted.”

But you should really be saying: “Unfortunately, I don’t think the quality of this is quite up to the standards we discussed previously. Why don’t you go back and rework it until it meets those expectations, and if you have questions about what those are, let’s go over it again.”

2. Prove it with action

When it comes to taking on challenges given by your supervisor, you have to be a man or woman of your word. If your boss asks you to develop a social media plan and you tell him you’ll be able to get it done by Friday, be sure that you get it done by Friday. If you’re unsure of what your time line will be, you have to let them know, rather than make a claim that you can’t stick by. Would you ever send out a press release about a program that should be rolled out by a certain date, but you’re not actually sure that it will happen? Probably not. In the same way, you shouldn’t tell your boss you can finish something by a certain time if you don’t know that you can.

You might be tempted to say: “I can definitely finish this by Friday. I’ll get to you before 5 pm.”

But you should really be saying: “I’d love to get this done by Friday, but I can see that there may be some unforeseen challenges that arise in the process. My goal is to get as much accomplished as I can by Friday and incorporate the resolution of any challenges as soon as information becomes available.”

3. Listen to the customer

In this case, whoever you may be having a conversation with is your customer. When it comes to listening and paying attention to needs, you should always treat others like a customer in your interactions. It will help you to remain humble without allowing you to become a complete pushover. You don’t want to react to everyone like you’re there to do anything and everything for them, because that doesn’t help anybody. But you want to be attentive to them and their concerns. It will make your communication more productive, and cause others to appreciate the way you communicate with them.

When proposing a communications plan to a client, it’s easy to talk like an expert (because essentially you are, that’s why they hired you), but you have to frame your relationship as a partnership. You’re not the parent telling a child how to behave. You’re walking alongside your client, using your skill set to benefit their efforts.

You might be tempted to say: “Your company doesn’t know how to communicate effectively. Interactions with your clients have been dismal at best, and there are no efforts to control public perception. You really should have been paying attention to this a long time ago.”

But you should really be saying: “From what we’ve discussed, it sounds like there haven’t been many resources allocated to communications efforts in the past, which is why we want to start by elevating direct communication to the clients you already have. Then we’ll focus in on portraying a better image to enhance public perception of your company.”

4. Manage for tomorrow

Every time you communicate with someone, you’re setting the stage for how they will respond to you in the future. It’s been said that it takes 10 new interactions to change a first impression. I think the same can be applied to general communication with others. If you have 10 positive conversations, and one day just decide that you’re gonna let them have it rather than handling conflict appropriately, their perception of you and how you interact with people will certainly be tainted, so make sure every conversation is framed positively and handled appropriately.

For someone who makes repeated mistakes, but has not exhausted their second chances at the particular task, addressing the problem yet again can be a challenge as you’re likely to be frustrated. But if you speak to them respectfully and honestly, you’re more likely to have positive interactions in the future.

You might be tempted to say: “You did it again. You’ve made this mistake time and time again. If it keeps happening, we’re gonna have a big problem on our hands.”

But you should really be saying: “Be sure that you’re keeping an eye on this and doing it as we discussed. I hate for you to be spending extra time correcting it so often. If you need some more detail on exactly to do this, we can go over it again.”

5. Conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it

Be sure that every conversation you have is treated like an important conversation. This tells the person you’re interacting with that not just the issue, but the person is important to you and has value in your mind. This will make all your conversations more positive, and the people you communicate with will be more receptive to what you have to say.

You might be tempted to: Consider your next point or develop your argument further rather than listen to what the other person has to say.

But you really should be: Listening to them so that you can later acknowledge their points in your response to reiterate that both opinions have value.

6. Remain calm, patient and good-humored

It probably goes without saying that in the world of PR, you can never lose your cool, especially when it’s your job to make sure your company doesn’t lose their cool in the wake of crisis or negative publicity. It’s important to project yourself in the same way you want people to see your company. Explosive, impatient and easily offended is not a way to act when representing your company or yourself.

If somebody confronts you with a problem, you have to be sure to approach the situation calmly.

You might be tempted to say: “This is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t believe this happened. Who didn’t do their job correctly?”

But you really should be saying: “Let’s get to work taking care of this right away. The sooner we resolve this, the better of we’ll be. We should start by finding out where the problem started go from there.”

The next time you have a difficult conversation, remember these tips. Using public relations for your organization as well as for yourself is a sure-fire way to help manage conflict and interaction of any kind.

How PR Research Can Work For You and Your Clients

According to this article by members of the Commission on Public Relations Measurement & Evaluation, using research as a valuable piece of every public relations effort can do many things for your organization or your client.

I have a hard time thinking of ways to use PR research outside of pre-campaign planning, but thanks to this article I can see some great ways to use research in different areas of PR, from decision-making to organizational support!

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First, research can help you determine what current tactics are working or not working. Before changing or ending a public relations campaign, it’s a good idea to find out what it’s strengths and weaknesses are. That way, you know whether you need to correct some areas of the current campaign or throw it out completely to start fresh.

Research can also be a great tool to help you win support for your strategy. If you’ve done enough research to know how you need to move forward with a communication strategy, it’s a good idea to let others know about it. You’re more likely to win over a strong dissenting voice with data rather than rhetorical persuasion.

A great way to show your organization the value of PR is to show its impact on sales. To do this, you must research sales and what affects them before and after implementation of your PR campaign. Find out how high sales are and why. Use that information to determine how you can impact sales through PR efforts. Then, see if your tactics caused any change in sales numbers. Pass the information along to management to easily show how PR contributes to the bottom line.

Researching how your organization is positioned in the minds of your publics in relation to competitors will give you a good idea of how to use PR efforts to improve on weak areas and reinforce the strong ones.