By: Vanessa Gresley
One of the most important responsibilities of my position on the board for PRSSA is planning Communications Connection. CommConn is our yearly networking event hosted by PRSSA Kent and Franklin Advertising. I was intimidated because I had never planned an event before, let alone if any professionals were going to attend.
So the time came for us to head to National Conference and I was super excited; scared because the plane ride but super excited for the trip. When viewing the brochure I saw that one of the sessions was focused on strategic event planning and new this was the perfect fit for my new position.
The session was done by Gary McCormick. Gary is the owner and principal of GMc Communications. He’s worked with HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel and Great American Country. The session was all about creating an event with impact. Gary said that the one thing events do is bind people together with the same memories, it aligns them along the same train of thought. Most of the time events are happy occasions; there is joy in celebrating. Gary said companies use events to build engagement.
Engagement with an audience creates an affinity with the brand and helps the consumers stay loyal. Sometimes it’ll be a brand delivering on their promise or executing a strategic goal. Gary gave six reasons for why we really do events.
When you are hosting an event the first question to ask is why. Always know what the outcome needs to be before you even start designing the event. Sometimes when you see what you want the outcome to be from throwing this event, you will realize that an event may not be the tactic that will get you the best outcome.
Once you know you want to host an event, Gary said the first thing you have to do is build a plain.
Gary said the hardest part can be sticking to your budget. Your plan needs to align with your budget. Things to keep in mind: Speakers, cost, food, vendors, visuals, support services, security, logistics and creative needs.
“When you become an event person you become a multitasker with great communication skills.”
It takes strategic skills to bring the party to plan. Use SMART objectives said Gary. Through the whole process make sure to keep asking yourself questions and going back to the whole reason you are throwing the event.
Partnerships with the local community and businesses that drive your target audience is a great way to make your event successful. Develop the plan, meet the objectives and follow through and you’ll start planning events with the successful outcomes you want.
By: Kassandra Kaczmarek
Sunday, Oct. 22, students gathered in salon J of the Hilton Austin to learn about how the city responded to the Austin bombings earlier this year. This session was held by a panel of four employees of the city: David Green, Anna Sabana, Angel Flores and Lisa Cortinas.
Lisa Cortinas, began the session with a breakdown of the timeline of how the events occurred. There incidents took place over a 19-day span and package bombs were delivered to seven different locations, ranging from FedEx locations and private residents. Two people were killed, and five were injured during the course of these bombings.
All of the panelists explained how they were personally and professionally affected by these bombings. They went into detail of what their job was once they heard word of what was happening
“I cried and was scared for the city,” said Cortinas. The major conference and festival South by Southwest, or SXSW, was happening during this time, as well as multiple college spring breaks. They explained how the work force in Austin was severely impacted at this time and gave an example of garbage men not wanting to pick up boxes, for fear it could be a bomb.
The panelists went through the details of how they communicated with the media, “One of the most important things in these situations is clear communication,” said Angel Flores.
A major struggle with this tragedy was that you can’t prepare for something like this, “How do you prepare for something like this? You don’t. We know how to prepare for flooding’s but there is no preparation for a serial bomber,” said David Green.
By: Madison Brattoli
Jane Dvorak, APR and fellow PRSA member educated attendees of PRSSA’s National Conference on how to conduct a strong interview.
In order to succeed in an interview, you must first prepare! In order to successfully prepare you must do research on the company. Conducting research on a company consists of researching the company’s competitors, website, mission statement and searching multiple employee’s LinkedIn accounts.
Before heading out to an interview, ensure that you are wearing the appropriate attire. One thing that young adults often forget to do is iron their shirts. “I will not take you in front of my clients looking like that. That day you are looking as good as you’re going to get, I can’t imagine what a casual day will be like,” said Dvorak. First impressions are determined by 55% the way you dress, act and walk through the door. This is one of your BIG selling points!
In our generation today, young adult often have tattoos. Dvorak states that it is ok to have tattoos but often baby boomers will disapprove. Before you’re interview, know who you are speaking with and if you feel it is appropriate to showcase your tattoos.
As always, practice makes perfect! Practice answering basic interview questions out loud to yourself or ask a friend for help. Practicing out loud helps you better prepare for the interview. First impressions are based by 38% of the quality of your voice, grammar and confidence.
I’m sure you have shook many hands in your lifetime but have you been executing them properly? It is important to practice a proper handshake since it is one of the first impressions you give to an employer. While shaking hands, make eye contact with the other individual and do not be afraid to give a firm handshake. If you construct a flimsy handshake, it shows a sign of weakness.
When employers ask you open ended questions do not “puke up information” about yourself. Stick to the information you feel is important to share without reiterating your entire resume yet again to the employer. The employer is interested in an in-depth conversation about your accomplishments. Pick three bullets form your resume to broaden upon for an interview.
When the interviewer asks the inevitable question, “tell me about yourself” be prepared! Instead of reciting your resume ask the interviewer, “Would you like to know about my internships, work ethic or writing experience?” This will reduce your nervousness during the interview since you will already have these topics planned.
Remember that this interview is not about you, it’s about them. Expand upon experiences you have had that relate with the company. Your experience is your big selling point, not your education.
While in the “hot seat” during an interview always be prepared to dazzle. Show the company why they should hire you. “It’s all about what the company is going to get when they hire you,” said Dvorak.
Another question that is almost certain to be heard in every interview is, “what is your weakness.” Always prepare this question before your interview. When you have detected your weakness, know what the opposite of your weakness is. For instance, say your weakness is procrastination, the opposite is that you can work under pressure effectively. Learn to turn your weakness into a positive attribute that you hold. In an interview, NEVER say that you do not hold a weakness, everyone has some weakness.
Always have questions prepared for your interviewer. These questions can consist of topics you have not talked about in the interview. Have these questions reflect your research you conducted on the company.
In just only 20 seconds employers make a decision on a good and bad pile of employers. Find ways to make your resume to stand out compared to others and when you are given the opportunity to conduct an interview, find your confidence and expand upon your experience. Dazzle those employers!
By: Isabel Illig
Now that PRSAA National Conference is over, we can begin to look back on what we learned. One session at the conference was called Code for Communication with guest speaker Brandi Boatner, the social and influencer communications lead at IBM.
A saying from scientist E.O. Wilson quoted at the beginning of the session really stood out to me, "We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom."
Boatner said how we reach people when there are so many different ways to do it is our current challenge in the communications world. We need to mix analytics and algorithms with what we do best and create some sort of clear-cut ROI to bring PR to the next level.
She went on to tell the audience that there are 15 skills all public relation professionals need:
1.Social media listening
10.Digital Media Relations
Having just five of these skills will get you a good job in the industry, according to Boatner; list them on your resume!
Key takeaways from this session were:
1.Focus on public relations AND technological innovation. Observe how communications affects STEM and why.
2.Work to make PRTech prevalent such as MarTech and FinTech
4.Professionals need to understand the 3 A's - analytics or data storytelling, architecture and algorithms of PRTech. The three A’s affect your most important A of all - your AUDIENCE.
5.We need to find new ways to aggregate information, minimize clicks, and make content consumption easier and more enjoyable.
Boatner leaves us with this quote, "We must lead the charge and disrupt our own medium of delivery!"
By: Sophia Iannelli
Entering the workforce after graduating is such an exciting time, but can also be super intimidating. At the “Kick-Start Your Career: Tips from New Professionals” panel at the PRSSA 2018 National Conference, recent graduates, Gemrick Curtom, Robyn Rudish-Laning, Hannah Porterfield, and Mia Simon, shared their thoughts on what it is like to join the PR industry post-graduation.
Here are just a few tips these new professionals discussed during the panel.
Don’t underestimate LinkedIn and other social media platforms. In today’s world, social media is where a lot of connections are made and really valuable networking can happen. Rudish-Laning explained that you can make really helpful connections through LinkedIn and other platforms that can help you land that first job; you just can’t underestimate the power of social media.
You need to ask for what you want. Simon shared that just because you are new to the industry doesn’t mean you have to let people walk over you. You can still ask leadership for what you want and what you think you deserve. You will be noticed if you exude confidence and make it clear what you want from the beginning.
Don’t forget about your peers. So many people focus on impressing long-time professionals while trying to land a job or get a promotion that they forget how important their peers are. The people that are at your level will be with you at the top someday, and keeping those connections strong and growing will only benefit you and your team in the future.
Never overpromise things to a client. Once you have your first client it makes sense to want to impress them and show them everything you’ve learned throughout your college career. But, you never want to overpromise something to a client that you may not be able to achieve. “You want to set realistic goals and manage the client’s expectations,” Curtom said.
There are so many other things to learn as a new professional that aren’t on this list and a great way to gain that knowledge is through the New Professionals Section of PRSA. Once you graduate you are able to join this group of professionals who are new to the industry with less than five years of experience. You can find out more about the New Professionals Section here.