Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mission Accomplished!

Guess who [finally!] got a full-time job?! Yep, me! I start on Thursday as the PR Coordinator at Pearl S. Buck International in Perkasie, PA- about 20 minutes from my house. Perfect! I can't wait to start. I'll be in charge of writing some publications, press releases, and managing all of their social media. I basically get to build my own social media program because there isn't a whole lot in place, so I'm psyched to get that started.

Because I've been doing to job search for quite some time... coughMAY2010cough... I feel that I can give some advice to others doing the dreaded job search. The best piece of advice I received while searching was to get involved with the local Chamber of Commerce. I contacted the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce saying that I was just looking for experience and maybe an internship if they could offer that and they were so nice and let me help out with some events and sit in on meetings to network with people.

One meeting I went to was the new member orientation and a membership directory was passed out. I decided to kind of "spam" email everyone in the directory that did anything pertaining to PR, event planning and marketing. I said I was an intern at the Chamber and was looking for full-time employment and attached my resume. Many of the people responded; some said they had nothing available but would keep me in mind, others gave me advice and other places to look, some gave me the names of other people to contact, and ONE said "perfect timing, my PR assistant just left." Perfect, it was all worth my time! That's how I found my part time Public Relations job and through my boss there and a friend from college, I found my new full time job!

It's ALL about who you know, and networking in this job search, and a Chamber of Commerce is a great place to do so. Each meeting is a group of diverse people working together. There could be engineers, architects, nutritionists, and marketing consultants all serving on the same committee, all of whom you'll meet if you attend the meetings.

While job searching, I also did not use the traditional "job search" websites. I stopped using Career Builder before I even graduated college because there were so many spam AND scam job postings, it was annoying to weed through them. Monster is nice because you can "browse" jobs in your area instead of just searching for them. Idealist.org had a lot of jobs I was interested in pertaining to PR, event planning and marketing and I applied to a few there, and even Craigslist was a good resource for me. Not all companies post on job sites though and you have to remember to go directly to company's websites to see their job listings; I had a list of about 15 company websites I'd visit on a regular basis to check the listings.

Another tip I gave previously was to make your resume tech-savvy, click here to read that post. I also suggested that job seekers have their own business cards made, even if you do not have a business. I love my business cards and they were so inexpensive. Click here to read that post!

I hope some or even ONE of my tips help someone. Do you have any job searching tips? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Social Media 101

I’m currently helping a non-profit organization to get acquainted with the fabulous world of social media. It’s a new company so they’re not behind, but the owner of the organization does not have much prior social media experience. I wrote her a lengthy email about how to get people to “like” her business’s page and thought it may be useful to other people as well. I'll call the company "ABC" for now.

In response to your question about how to get people to like the ABC page [as well as follow the Twitter page], here are some ideas:

-          Include links on the company’s website to the Facebook and Twitter pages. Whoever created the website should know how to do this. The buttons on the top right-hand side of Oprah.com’s page are nice because they’re easy to find.
-          If a person employed by the company or the owner of the company have a lot of connections on their own personal Facebook or LinkedIn pages who would be interested in “liking” the company page, post a status about it on both websites. For example, “The ABC page is up and running, I’d appreciate it if you “liked” it and also follow us on Twitter @ABC!” Post that status maybe every 3 days to your Facebook and also post it as a status on your LinkedIn page every few days so that it stays current and in people’s minds.
-          Whenever a press release is sent out regarding ABC, include “More information about ABC can be found on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/________ and follow us on Twitter @ABC.” This will go on the boilerplate of the press release, and a PR person will know more about that.
-          If your company is promoted on local news channels or newspapers, mention the page and Twitter.
-          On the company’s Facebook page, “like” some other pages that are relevant to your cause- for example if your company has to do with animals, “like” the SPCA. Go to the SPCA’s page and write a brief post about how you appreciate the work that the SPCA does and then write about your company describing your cause, the event, and invite people to like your page. Do that maybe every other week so that it stays current.
-          And finally, when both are up and running and have received some attention, cross promote the two. On Twitter, mention the Facebook page and vice versa.

I realize a lot of this sounds super time consuming but in order for social media efforts to pay off, you definitely have to put some time into it! + It’ll be the most time consuming at the beginning. After the original posts it’s just keeping up with it and staying current on other’s pages too.

Be sure to monitor the Facebook page too in case people have questions, and just comment on their post with the answer so other people can see it too. The most successful companies Facebook pages are ones where the company is actively involved and engaging with their customers. Comment back to people whenever they say something, even if it’s a simple “Thanks for liking us!” 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Essential Traits of a PR Pro

Public Relations can be a difficult field to become a professional in and in order to be successful in the world of PR today, there are some traits that are considered essential to possess. Here are a few that are absolutely necessary to possess:

--Thick skinPR is not a profession for people who are easily offended or who do not take criticism well- constructive or not. PR pros need to be able to roll with the punches and not take the criticism personally in order for their career to be successful.
--Toughness – The ability to quickly recover from or adjust to change is necessary in the ever-changing field of PR. You are going to get knocked down and need to develop this skill to get back up and get back in the game again.
--Editing skills – Things posted on the internet or sent in an email cannot be taken back, they are permanent. A small error can be magnified and can endanger you and/or your brand’s image.--Originality – Journalists are overwhelmed by all the media pitches they receive daily and the original, creative pitches are the ones that stand out from the rest.--Interpersonal skills – Relationships are everything in PR and PR pros need to build relationships and rapport with clients and journalists alike.
There are many skills necessary to be successful in the field of PR but these are five that stood out and five that are worth sharpening if you desire to succeed in public relations. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Prepping for Interviews

I feel like I'm always preparing for interviews. Yes, it's good I'm getting the chance to interview for jobs YET I'm not getting any of those jobs. I think I interview well but I recently decided to re-vamp my portfolio which will hopefully speak to my writing and social media skills. If you are in PR or event planning, you need a portfolio- it gives potential employers concrete evidence of your previous work. Items I include in my portfolio are:

  • Press releases I've written. Either from my current job as a PR assistant or my internship at the PR office at WCU while I was in college.
  • Because so many jobs I apply for require a presence on social media, I include screen shots of the social media sites I'm on. These include my Twitter and client's Twitters that I contribute to, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Just hit the PrtSc button while on these pages, open up MS Word, paste, and crop your picture.
  • Screen shots of my blogs. [This blog and this one.] 
  • The Examiner articles I'm a ghost-writer for at my PR job. 
  • Any other work-related writing samples.
I put all of the writing samples in sheet protectors in a binder which is neatly organized and always bring it to interviews. I also have another copy of all the samples in the portfolio in a folder in case I'm being interviewed by a panel of people. So get your portfolio together and go show those future employers what you're made of!

Friday, February 17, 2012

PR is a "Learn as You Go" Field

I had a wonderful PR professor at West Chester University, I adored him and really learned so much from him. I had my internship at the WCU PR office the following semester and while I used many of the skills I learned in my PR class, I had to learn a lot on the job about writing press releases and about how to work in an office environment.

PR Daily recently wrote an article which I can definitely identify with- "5 PR skills you won't learn in a classroom" by Gini Dietrich.

  1. The business forms. Did you learn how to read a profit and loss statement in college? Do you know how your efforts can affect revenue and margins? If not, find a friend in the accounting department and it will pay off in the long run. [I don't know these things yet! Maybe when I work for a bigger company I'll come across them.]
  2. Old fashioned marketing. PR and marketing go hand-in-hand today so it's important to know the basics of marketing even if you are in PR. Work with the sales team to understand old-fashioned marketing better because it will end up relating to what you're working on too.
  3. How to stay on budget. As you advance in your career, you will most likely be in charge of a budget and forecasting a budget at some point. Budget and forecast conservatively and aggressively. 
  4. Management skills. Whether it be managing a client/customer relationship or managing an internal team or interns, management skills are necessary to succeed in the work force.
  5. Willingness to learn. It is important to learn the business you're promoting- be it the medical field, auto industry, whatever it may be. No one is going to believe what you have to say if you're not knowledgeable on the topic.
Are there any other skills you've picked up on the job that you didn't learn in a classroom?