A PR Pro Vs. The Alterni-Fact Beast

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Image credit: http://www.prsa.org

By Cole Braun

As you go through your Facebook news feeds, there is sure to be headlines for a variety of topics.  Many of them are hilarious, or maybe even scary. But you, the public relations professional, know better than to believe everything. But what about your clients you represent, or your own family? Do they know how to differentiate what is based on fact and what is made up for the sake of increasing click-through reports? You can help them with this guide to addressing fake news and how a professional should deal with it.

The first thing to understand is that PR professionals have no business adding fuel to the fake news fire. We all know it has become a problem which is why we must take a stand against it. The Public Relations Society of America addressed fake news with an official statement in January, 2017 saying that, “Truth is the foundation of all effective communications. By being truthful, we build and maintain trust with the media and our customers, clients and employees. As professional communicators, we take very seriously our responsibility to communicate with honesty and accuracy.”

PRSA & The Code of Ethics

If you are familiar with PRSA, or the student organization, PRSSA, you know this organization established a code of ethics that members take seriously. The official statement on alternative facts, reflects on the organization’s code of honesty, saying that members, “adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.” If you wish to know more about the PRSA Code of Ethics, please follow here.

The PRSA Statement on “Alternative Facts” was released in January by the organization’s Chair of the Society for 2017, Jane Dvorak, APR and Fellow PRSA. After addressing how the society values its Code of Ethics, she finished by saying, “PRSA strongly objects to any effort to deliberately misrepresent information. Honest, ethical professionals never spin, mislead or alter facts. We applaud our colleagues and professional journalists who work hard to find and report the truth.”

One of the first things we as professionals must do is research. When dealing with information, we must ask, ‘Where did this come from?’ ‘Where does this link back to and who said what?’ You never jump into strange waters without a life preserver, or in this case, the facts.

A Rule of Three

Check your story three times before you take it seriously and hit the share button. You need to see how many people are saying the same thing and, if it is coming from a credible source. If the topic is breaking news, more than one publication will be telling the story.

CNN Correspondent, Brian Stelter said in his report, The plague of fake news is getting worse — here’s how to protect yourself, from October 2016, that there are three general categories related to misleading online information sites.

  • Hoax Sites: completely fake
  • Hyper-Partisan Sites: Some truth involved but stretched for the sake of the parties involved.
  • Hybrid Sites: A mix of fake and fact combined to make a good story.

Whatever their purpose, these sites are not going away anytime soon, so learn to recognize them. Here are some tips found in the same article from CNN, shared by the Sunlight Foundation’s Alex Howard in a tweet:

  • Search the source link on Twitter
  • Google it
  • Check Snopes
  • Consider record of source

These are all excellent tips, and you can take it a step further with a Google search of the author’s name to see if they are credible as a reporter.

Open the Floodgates of Positivity

When it comes to combating the fake news epidemic, there are multiple recommendations on what to do.

If you have prepared for a crisis already, you probably have a pre-written response to a situation like this; that’s good! In February 2017, an article on How PR professionals should handle the fake news phenomenon appeared in Agility PR, written by Director of Media Insights Jim Donnelly. Donnelly conducted an interview with Hofstra University Professor and Bloomberg contributor Dr. Kara Alaimo on handling fake news.  One question specifically addressed these situations with two or three rules to keep in mind. One positive measure is to have a response ready in advance, because when it comes to experiencing a crisis, every minute counts.

Alaimo also points out making sure you are keeping your client’s values in mind while communicating. If this is something you have been consistently doing before this incident, then it will be no hassle to reference back to, showing your clients’ interests are a priority.

 

 

A common question is when is it best to respond?

That answer seems to vary across multiple professionals. In the end, it just depends on the situation. For example, when it comes to internet trolls, it is best to just ignore them so they move along. But when their story trends, then answer with the truth, do not allow yourself to get flustered because that only feeds the trolls.

Alaimo share as well that, “you need to monitor carefully. The time to respond is if a social media post is starting to gain traction amongst stakeholders who are important to the company, such as customers, employees, investors, buyers, or board members.”

Another form of combating fake news is to “flood the media with a positive narrative.” In a November 2016 article for PR Week by Ilyse Liffreing, So your brand is the victim of fake news. Now what?  Liffreing shares that you need to embrace the crisis and make the best of it, reversing the dialogue to positive content about what is happening with your brand. Share the truth and back it up with more positivity. If you don’t counter with good news, you could potentially open yourself up to more fake news.

The question now is, where are we headed as a profession in this new era of alternative facts?

The first thing to remember is accountability. Dan Guttridge from Ragan’s PR Daily notes in his March 6 article, PR pros’ role in the fake news epidemic, that we need to hold journalists accountable and “check credibility through facts and sources.” We can even take this a step forward and hold ourselves accountable for what we say to people and how we represent our brand as we traverse this terrain of fake news.

Guttridge shares some more amazing tips as you continue through his article. Here are some other key points we should consider as PR professionals,

  • Do your own research.
  • Stop reading headlines as facts.
  • Expand your world.

That last tip is fascinating because he makes the argument to find some reputable journalist to read and take the time to learn more about what is happening. Speak to people who challenge your views and make you think.

We as PR professionals can provide the cure for the fake news virus. Know that if we keep our integrity and credibility, public relations will thrive in this fight.

 

Do you have any thoughts on the “fake news” epidemic? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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How to Gain PR Experience in College

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Image credit: breakintopr.com

By Jayla Kearney

“We gave the internship to someone else with more experience.” I was stunned to hear those words from a recruiter last year. How could someone already have two years of related experience as a college student? I thought I was on the right track but little did I know, I could have been doing much more.

In public relations and many other fields, it is difficult to obtain a job post-graduation without experience. Employers expect you to already have some type of experience in your field in order to prove that you have built the right skills. Even some internships require you to have experience.

So, how do you build a portfolio of work when the majority of jobs require you to have at least two years of experience?

Here are some ways to gain PR experience in college:

  • Internships: Internships are among the most common opportunities to develop valuable job market skills. Depending on where you live, there are an abundance of internship opportunities in the public relations field. Try getting multiple internships under your belt before graduation. The more you do, the more contacts you make and the more experience you gain. Internships are also a great way to learn what activities and sectors are most interesting to you. In addition, they can be a valuable learning experience.
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Image credit: postandbeam.is

  • Volunteer: Do you want to work for a particular company? See if there are any events or projects in which you can voluntarily get involved. Many companies post volunteer opportunities on LinkedIn. Here is an example from a nonprofit organization needing a social media plan: Social Media Plan for Family Promise of Hawaii (Remote). Volunteering stands out on a resume and catches the employees of that company’s attention.
  • Blogging: Blogging is something anyone with a computer can easily begin doing. Blogging is valuable because it shows potential employers that you have writing skills and they learn what you are passionate about. It can also be an opportunity to showcase your expertise or intelligence about a particular topic. In addition, it helps develop a personal brand.
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Image credit: rachmariepr.com

  • Campus involvement: If you’re not already involved on campus, you should seriously consider branching out. Join any organization that interests you! The organization may even need someone to do their public relations and social media management. In addition to joining PR/communications organizations such as Public Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators, you can become the PR/marketing chair for your fraternity/sorority or any organization that plans events.
  • Student Jobs: Ask around. There may even be real PR jobs for students available. At the University of Central Missouri, we are lucky to have Innovative Public Relations as a student-led agency that gives us real world experience. In addition, check with the theater department, television station or any office on campus for available publicity or social media positions.
  • Build connections with a variety of people: Anyone can be a valuable connection, not just recruiters. Talk to your peers from different majors as well as your own. You may be able to help each other out when an employer is looking for another assistant or intern.
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Image credit: michigancreativevideo.com

  • Pitch yourself: When you cannot find anything that interests you, create your own opportunities. Come up with a list of duties and pick an on-campus organization or a company that can benefit from having a PR Intern. Some small or local organizations may not have a specific person to do their public relations. Ask them about it! It could be a great start for your career. Also, follow professionals on Twitter and people with whom you would like to work. Often, companies and even musicians have gone to Twitter asking for PR professionals.

If you or anyone you know would like to apply for Innovative Public Relations for Fall 2017, navigate to the “Join Our Team” tab.

 

Do you have any advice for future PR pros looking to get involved? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

I could be the crisis communicator?

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Image credit: rflcommunications.com

By Hali Mieser

Public relations has many different definitions but it all comes down to being “the voice behind the voice.” But what if you were the “voice behind the voice” during a crisis? As a public relations professional, crisis communication is one of the many jobs we take on for our organization.

What is crisis communication?

Crisis communication is the dialog between the organization and its publics prior to, during, and after the negative occurrence. During a crisis, PR professionals must create strategic messages to inform an organization’s key publics about a crisis that has occurred within the organization. In today’s world, social media is an important factor that plays a huge role in the circulation of information. Traditional media outlets, however, are still valuable depending on an organization’s key stakeholders.

With the rapid flow of information, PR professionals have to be “on their toes” at all times. The “golden hour” has now turned into the “golden few minutes” when it comes to disseminating crucial information about an organization’s crisis.

Now you know what a crisis is but how do you handle a crisis?

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Image credit: makeameme.org

Crisis management is the process of removing some of the risk and uncertainty from the negative occurrences that an organization could be exposed to which allows the organization to be in greater control of what happens to them. Another thing that allows an organization to be in greater control, particularly during a crisis, is creating and maintaining positive relations with their key publics.

 

Why are good relationships important?

A positive relationship with the media is imperative when it comes to a crisis. Having a good relationships with the media ensures that they know you are ethical, professional, reliable and accurate in the information you provide.

It is important to maintain a positive relationship within the community in which an organization resides. In the scene of a crisis, the organization knows it can rely on its community and vice versa.

What better way to keep an organization afloat than its employees? Building solid and supportive relationships with an organization’s’ employees and internal publics is important because it makes employees feel a part of the organization and helps them feel valued.

The final group to create positive relations with is the organization’s consumers. It is important to create a mutual bond between the company and its customers. Building this relationship can be as simple as return policies, sales advantages, educational material, open houses, and a complaint system.

End Notes

Many public relations professionals say it is not a question of if an organization will experience a crisis, but when. Be prepared for these challenges, understanding that being able to add “crisis communication specialist” to your resume will serve you well in the job market.

 

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Have any tips for becoming an effective crisis communicator? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

10 ways to use LinkedIn to its fullest potential

 

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Image credit: brand.linkedin.com

 

By: Elizabeth Fisher

LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media platforms among business professionals, but many people do not know how to use it to its fullest potential. Here are some helpful hints to making your LinkedIn account stand out from the crowd:

  1. Use photos to make your profile more attractive
  • Include a business professional profile photo and cover photo on your profile. The photos should represent you, but also in a professional manner.
  • Use this photo to feature your personality and style.
  1. Use LinkedIn to feature organizations and job experience not included on your resume
  • When future employers visit your LinkedIn account they do not want to see the same experience featured on your resume. Create a LinkedIn account that features your personality and qualifications.
  1. Connect with individuals with whom you are currently connected
  • Professionals you have worked with in the past are perfect individuals to connect with because you already have an established a connection.
  • These individuals will be more likely to make a connection with you and help to build your LinkedIn profile.
  1. Connect with individuals with whom you wish to establish potential connections
  • Do not be afraid to connect with potential employers. This will show your enthusiasm for a job or for their company.
  • Connect with people who are connected with your friends. Having a mutual common ground will most likely lead to a connection.
  1. Do not send the general ‘add me’ message

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    Image credit: Linkedin.com

  • Create and customize your own message when connecting with professionals.
  • By creating your own message, it shows individuality that will stand out to employers.
  1. Continue interacting with individuals with whom you are already Linked
  • Making connections is important, but maintaining connections is equally important.
  • Like a connection’s posts or congratulate them on a career milestone. This will help build stronger relationships with your connections.

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    Image credit: Linkedin.com

  1. Use LinkedIn to search for potential employers
  • Employers will remember your face from LinkedIn, especially if you create a message of your own when requesting a connection.
  1. Connect with company profiles you are interested in and relevant industry profiles
  • When you connect with company profiles it allows you to network and build trust with that company.
  1. Download the LinkedIn app
  • This will help you stay connected so that you will receive messages and notifications that you may receive on your LinkedIn account.
  • You can even read company profiles and resumes directly from your mobile device.

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    Image credit: Linkedin.com

Linked Up Life

  1. Create and share posts
  • Posts can show off your personality that cannot be seen within your content.
  • Sharing posts can create great networking opportunities!

By following these key points, you can ROCK the LinkedIn world!

 

How do you use LinkedIn in your professional career? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Social media night is coming!

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Image credit: ucminnovativepr.com

By Cole Braun

Innovative Public Relations, a student-led PR firm at UCM, has organized a social media night event for five years and is more excited than ever before to launch this year’s activities. It’s funny how people believe these events are easy to execute, however, this is far from the truth. Social media is still an unrefined tundra in the last frontier of digital marketing.

Weeks of careful planning and writing are necessary to facilitate an event like this. It is much more than just tweeting about something and seeing if your audience comprehends what you are trying to say. Every sentence and word are planned for a specific reason and you have to account for cross platform posting. It requires critical strategic thinking about the choice of platforms.

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Image credit: networtech.com

Multiple publics are being taken into consideration as we prepare certain messages for the event. We want to have giveaways that will engage people in the event, so we have collected a wide variety of prizes for our multiple audiences. We think about what certain publics would like, what is something everyone would want. This is where the tactical tool of research can help. Then the next decision is, which platform is best through which to give certain prizes away.

Events can be complicated, intricate and overwhelming, so in recognizing the complexity of event planning, I wanted to share tips I have learned in preparation for this social media night. These tips can help you survive the Wild West, that is the world of social media marketing right now.

Here are 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts on hosting a social media event.

● DO: Engage your audience with fun and exciting content.

If you want your audience to engage with you then you need to give them a reason to hit the like button and respond back. You will not get far just telling people to go somewhere else online to do something. Be creative here, make a silly pun or add a goofy image. Don’t be another block of text in the news feed.

● DO NOT: Copy previous work from local similar attempts.

It looks silly and confuses the public. They are not paying attention to who is doing it, only that something is happening. So don’t embarrass your organization and step all over the work done by previous groups.

●  DO: Provide a variety of opportunities for all in attendance.

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Image credit: ucminnovativepr.com

Not everyone in attendance is going to be a Twitter user, or a Snapchat user. So if you want your event to be engaging, make sure to interact with all audiences in some form. Alienating one  audience may compromise their engagement and your brand image.

●  DO NOT: Make it an obstacle course for the audience.

Making it a hassle to participate is not how you create a successful event. No one wants to  download this, click here for more or have to jump across multiple platforms for one prize. Your audience will instantly lose interest if they have to take too many steps. Make it simple such as, “reply with the answer to this question or send us back a picture.”

● DO: Plan ahead!

I know this seems like a silly thing to say, but it is important. Social media is still a Wild West world and anything can happen. So plan ahead for an inappropriate response or someone trying to abuse your competitions. Create a plan of action for any incident that could possibly happen. If something never happens, that’s great, but it’s better to be prepared.

● DO NOT: Be afraid of collaboration.

Sometimes you aren’t going to have all the answers, that’s okay. That is why it’s fun to bring in people from outside organizations to share ideas. By working with multiple individuals, you will have the chance to get tips and tricks you never would have considered. Collaboration is a key tool in the world of public relations, but sometimes it’s not the best tool. If those partnerships are not ideal, then separate. Don’t just burn the bridge.

● DO: Thank your sponsors!

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Image credit: forbes.com

If you have brought in outside groups or businesses to help sponsor giveaways or other parts of your event, thank them. Giving them appropriate acknowledgement could strengthen their future participation. Keep your side of any commitments you have made. Showing gratitude to groups that help you put on your event is essential to its success and future endeavors.

 

● DO NOT: Try to plan last minute.

Lack of planning creates heartache, confusion and makes for a sloppy event. So plan ahead. Last-minute work is messy work.

● DO: Keep note of all interactions.

Paperwork may be stressful at the time, but it makes life so much easier further down the road. This helps with keeping track of promises made to sponsors and what sponsors have done in the past. When you go back to them for the next event, you have record of their previous contributions, which can help make their decision in participating again easier. Essentially, you will have all the answers for them so all they have to do is decide how much support they can provide above last year’s efforts.

● DO NOT: Forget the reason for your event.

It is easy to get so hyped up about your social media event you forget the reason you are doing this in the first place. An immediate example is our event this Thursday, Feb. 16, #teamUCM Social Media Night. The purpose behind this event is to foster a strong sense of community between the University population, local businesses and citizens of Warrensburg, Missouri. Though the main audience is UCM students campus, we cannot forget the other factors. If we lose sight of that, then the event can easily fall to shambles.

In conclusion:

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Image credit: brandanew.com

Social media is a tool for all, not just college students and teenagers. It can be part of a strategy to make your event engaging. Remember this; research, critical thinking and tactical decision-making are your best tools in the Wild West-like field of social media.

Are you ready for #teamUCM social media night?? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
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Image credit: ucminnovativepr.com

Five public relations lessons from Scandal

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Image credit: huffingtonpost.com

By Jayla Kearney

ABC’s award-winning TV show, Scandal, has recently returned for it’s sixth season. If you haven’t watched, Kerry Washington stars in Scandal as Olivia Pope, a crisis communications manager, and her character is based on Judy Smith (former press secretary for U.S. President George H.W. Bush). The scenes and activities are more dramatic than real-life crisis management in order to make for good TV but there are still valuable PR lessons to learn from Olivia Pope & Associates (OPA), her crisis communications firm.

Here are five public relations lessons from Scandal:

  1. Master media training

“Artie take a breath. Keep your head still, maintain eye contact. Just answer what was asked of you; if you go off on a tangent it will look unreliable. Let’s try again.”- Olivia to her client Artie.

Olivia spends a lot of time training her clients to speak to the media. She often advises them on how to respond to media questions. She has advised them to prevent saying the phrase, “no comment” when answering questions. Preventing yourself from answering a question will make it seem like you have something to hide. It’s better to answer a question positively or empathetically. Never place the blame on someone else and don’t apologize when it’s not your fault.

 

  1. Perception is reality and looks matter
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Image credit: yahoo.com

“In a case like this, perception is more important than evidence. The truth doesn’t matter. He looks guilty, he is guilty.”- Olivia

In the PR world, it’s all about public perception. Your client may be innocent but if they look guilty or seem guilty, then they’re guilty in public opinion.

  • Remain calm

Whenever there is a crisis, Olivia keeps her cool and remains calm. Being a crisis manager can be stressful and takes someone who knows how to remain calm in difficult situations.

  • Dress Professionally

No matter where Olivia is going, she always dresses like she’s ready for business. You never know who you may run into so always look your best. When you look good, you feel more confident and are taken more seriously.

  • Be confident

Olivia is very confident in her abilities and she makes sure her clients are confident through their media training. She also does not give up on a client or case.

 

  1. Value Teamwork

“ You don’t get to run, you’re a gladiator. Gladiators don’t run. They fight.”- Abby

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Image credit: awesomelyluvvie.com

Olivia works with a dynamic team, which she calls “gladiators in suits.” Olivia Pope & Associates is the name of her crisis management and communications firm. Each member of her team possesses different values and skills. One of her colleagues may be great at technology and research whereas another co-worker could be more creative. In addition, Olivia and her team have great connections and have built a relationship with various media outlets and opinion leaders.

 

 

 

 

  1. Be in the Know

“I have looked at it from every angle”- Olivia

Members of Olivia Pope & Associates watch a lot of TV, always keeping up with current events. Crises can come quickly so it’s best to keep up with what’s going on. You may be able to prevent a crisis this way. Always be two steps ahead of your clients and competition. Constantly research your clients and the industry in which you practice and keep up with trends so that you’re able to capitalize on them.

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Image credit: louisegreen.com

 

  1. Wear your white hat

“Dirty little secrets always come out.”- Olivia

This means do what is right and ethical. Olivia has performed unethically in some cases, but we can learn from her mistakes. For example, she rigged a presidential election and it haunts her throughout the series. Also, be honest because “Dirty little secrets always come out.” Public relations professionals are often misunderstood and believed to put a “spin” on situations in order to improve their client’s reputation. However, PRSA has established a code of ethics by which members should abide.

Although some of the practices from Olivia Pope & Associates may be unethical or dramatic, there is no doubt that there are several good public relations lessons to learn from Scandal. Remember to wear your white hats, do your research, collaborate, look your best and master the art of media training.

 

Have any thoughts on Scandal? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Contemporary Corporate Culture

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Image credit: robfields.com

By Hali Mieser

What’s the big idea with Corporate Culture anyway?

Corporate culture is an organization’s shared goals, standards and attitudes that define how its employees and management interact. This is something that must be developed over time; not something that is explicitly stated. The culture of a corporation is created by the people that are hired. For example, when I interned at Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, the culture was relaxed and depended on great communication. The marketing and events associate, the development coordinator, the office manager and the President and Executive Director are located in the same building therefore, this allows for effective and fast communication. Along with good communication, all employees know each other by first name in every department which helps the culture feel like a family.

30 Years in the Making

The term “corporate culture” was developed in the 1980s and continues to be a vital part of today’s workplace. The culture of a workplace could mean the difference between going to a career you love or a job you dread. Today, corporate culture not only includes foundational pieces such as company-wide value systems and employee communication but also national cultures and traditions and economic trends.

Who’s doin’ it right?

Southwest Airlines is leading the way when it comes to corporate culture. Southwest communicates to its employees that they are part of a bigger purpose. Employees are given permission to go the extra mile when it comes to helping customers. Because employees have this freedom, they are able to enhance the vision of what corporate culture looks like to Southwest.

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Your Turn!

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So how do you create a successful culture within your company? The Harvard Business Review identifies values as one of the six components. Values allow every employee to have a moral compass to base their business decisions around. When all employees have the same moral compass, a culture is born. You can’t have a corporate culture without people and you can’t have a successful corporate culture without the right people. Companies use rigorous recruiting techniques in order to find the perfect match for their company.

Just like Southwest, it is important to allow employees to feel as if they have freedom. When people are given the power to go the “extra mile,” they can do great things. Along with freedom, companies must embrace transparency. Allowing every employee, no matter their level, to be a part of the responsibilities and strategies of a company and providing feedback can strengthen a business’s corporate culture.

 

Do you have any thoughts about corporate culture? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Fit your personality into your PR career

Image credit: drmilsteineducation.com

Image credit: drmilsteineducation.com

By Megan Myers

Whether it’s your freshman or senior year of college, you may still be unsure about which public relations career path you should follow. You might be fortunate and have a passion for one field over another, which will make finding your PR field of choice much easier. However, for most PR students, all they know is that they have a passion for PR and need a little extra help determining which direction to go. Just like how your personalities must complement each other in a personal relationship, you have to fit and mesh your personality to work well within a company and career.

You may have taken personality quizzes before such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, to gain insight about yourself. Some careers or company cultures may be better suited for different personalities. Knowing who you are and how you work can help you determine which PR fields may be a good fit for you.

In case you haven’t taken a personality test before, 16Personalities offers a quick and easy way to gain insight about some of your traits. The test will sort you into one of four personality archetypes, which include diplomats, analysts, sentinels or explorers. If you don’t already know your archetype, you can take the test and use these suggestions to consider your fit with potential PR careers.

Image credit: timeinc.net

Image credit: timeinc.net

Diplomats

Being a diplomat, you are considered adaptable and manageable because you work well in a group setting. Your features include compassion, recognition, and artistic abilities. Diplomats would fit better in the PR fields of agencies, non-profits and corporate organizations with a creative/fun cultures, such as Google, Nike, or Netflix. Diplomats’ cooperative and imaginative nature means they will be an asset to any team and have creative ideas and solutions.

Analysts

As an analyst, you are firm and self-reliant. You take it upon yourself to do a job with little to no questions. You rely on your research and are there to get the job done. Analysts would fit better in corporate and academic PR fields, such as writing for a company like Cerner or for a college or university. Their strategic mindset makes it easy to be the strategist for a campaign or foresee the long-term effects that may occur in campaign implementation.

Image credit: Westchester Cleaning Services

Image credit: Westchester Cleaning Services

Sentinels

Being a sentinel, you need order and organization in your life. You love a good challenge, but like to stick to the rules when it comes to creativity. People in this category are considered to be achievers. Sentinels would fit better in governmental, medical, and financial PR fields. This could include working with county government organizations, lobbying or working for a major corporation such as State Farm Insurance. Their meticulous nature means that they would fit well in a managerial position in any field, focusing on achieving goals and objectives makes them great at moving up the ladder.

Explorers

Image credit: 123rf.com

Image credit: 123rf.com

Explorers have the most exciting and outgoing personalities. These types of people are sharp-witted; they are the go-to person during a crisis situation. Explorers would fit better in the PR fields of event planning, crisis management or consulting firms, such as O’Neill Marketing & Event Management Company or Edelman. Their ability to connect with their surroundings and ability to think on their feet makes them perfect for situations that are high pressure with lots of moving parts.

 

Now that you understand which category you fit into, you are better equipped to choose the path you should take in your PR career.

 

Do you have any tips to help young professionals choose a career path? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Four tips for improving your communication skills

Image credit: checkerboard.com

Image credit: checkerboard.com

By Haley Gleason

After reading the title of this post, I’m sure you’re thinking, “I can communicate just fine with people.” However, you may not be as effective as you think. The world is constantly changing around us, and the same goes for the ways in which we communicate. As future business professionals, we must take the necessary steps to stand out from the crowd, and being exceptional communicators is a great way to do it. With that in mind, here are a few tips to improve your communication skills.

1. (Actually) Listen to others

Hearing what people have to say is something we do on a daily basis. However, are we truly listening? Many of us take listening for granted, believing we are good listeners simply because we hear others. Yet many people they feel as if they are not receiving the full attention of those they converse with. According to Chip Rose, a professional mediator, “We all use language to communicate, to express ourselves, to get our ideas across, and to connect with the person to whom we are speaking. When a relationship is working, the act of communicating seems to flow relatively effortlessly. When a relationship is deteriorating, the act of communicating can be as frustrating as climbing a hill of sand.” Personal and professional relationships alike require both parties to listen effectively. Therefore, it is important to take steps to avoid disruptions, such as our phones, background noise or even our own thoughts.

Bearing this in mind, consider making these personal adjustments as necessary to be a more effective listener:

  1. Face the speaker and use eye contact.
  2. Use body language and gestures.
  3. Keep an open mind.
  4. Don’t interrupt. Listen to everything others have to say before you provide feedback.
  5. Ask questions to ensure you understand what others are saying.

2. Provide valuable feedback

Image credit: drawing-factory.com

Image credit: drawing-factory.com

Providing valuable feedback goes hand-in-hand with listening. You can only truly provide valuable feedback if you listen to what a person has to say. It is not always easy, but it is obtainable with conscious effort. One aspect to consider that is very important in providing feedback is patience.The point of providing feedback is to improve and/or satisfy the person you are talking to, which is best accomplished by exercising patience and conveying your support. Being honest is another important part of good feedback, but note that you are often not going to get your point across by being critical or harsh, as this behavior often causes people to become guarded or hostile. Again, exercise patience and provide feedback in a positive, supportive manner.

Feedback also requires constant attention and timeliness. This is especially true since methods of communication have changed. Feedback is more relevant when provided as soon as possible, and modern technology enables near instantaneous responses. Make an effort to utilize your resources and provide feedback in a timely matter when it is needed the most.

3. Break down boundaries

Image credit: mentalfloss.com

Image credit: mentalfloss.com

Sometimes, poor communication skills may make you feel as if you’re on a deserted island, attempting to send a message in a bottle which no one ever receives. In a way, you may have unknowingly placed yourself on that deserted island by not breaking down boundaries with whom you are trying to communicate with.

The first step to break down these boundaries is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Try to understand where their opinions and ideas are coming from. This does not mean you have to always agree, but gaining an understanding of their stance can help you move forward to communicating effectively.

The next step is to be fearless. Don’t be afraid to talk to others and ask questions. Talk to people you normally wouldn’t, like people in other departments and different seniority levels. If you are an entry level employee, break the norm and go engage with a manager or executive. That is your opportunity to learn from them and grow in the company.

As described in an article on Fortune.com, breaking down these boundaries can help you secure nigh unlimited potential in the workplace. This potential will not only help you grow as an individual, but also as an unstoppable business professional.

4. Embrace change

Image credit: blogspot.com

Image credit: blogspot.com

Change can be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, especially because we often become comfortable in our abilities and current situation. However, it is important to remember that change is an important part of stimulating personal growth. To help embrace change, get rid of the negativity in your life, such as the self-doubt that takes over in uncomfortable situations. Develop the confidence to break down boundaries. Have the strength to actually listen to people. Be patient, honest and timely in providing feedback. With the help of these tips, you can set yourself on the path to becoming a great communicator.

 

Do you have any tips about communicating effectively with others? Share them in the comments below, and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The journey begins: Five tips for making the most of your internship

Image credit: sky.com

Image credit: sky.com

By Blake Hedberg

You have done all the necessary research, crafted an excellent cover letter, branded yourself with an excellent resume and survived the strenuous interview process. The company you hope to work for finally gives you that long-awaited phone call – you have landed your first internship. However, this is no time to relax. Plenty of hard work and learning opportunities await.

For most students, the process of finding and securing an internship is a daunting task. The amount of research, time and effort that goes into the process can be extensive. Some students put the process off until their senior year (do not wait this long). For those who have gone the extra mile to be placed in an internship program, your journey is off to a fantastic start.

You are about to embark on the beginning of your professional career, and you’re ready to begin your first day as a professional. Before you do, here are a few tips for maximizing your internship experience.

1. Embrace hierarchy with a smile

Let’s get this out of the way from the beginning: As an intern, you might have to perform trivial tasks at one point or another. Photocopying, coffee runs and things of this nature are not uncommon for interns. Get over it.

Image credit: weheartit.com

Image credit: weheartit.com

You are there to help the business by any means necessary – do this with the biggest of smiles. You must understand that there is a hierarchy at the company you are working for and everyone has been in your shoes sometime during their careers. Employers will remember you better if you perform any task with enthusiasm. Doing these small tasks will demonstrate your ability to listen and work effectively. This will, hopefully, lead to better assignments in the future.

2. Don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions

An internship is an incredible opportunity for learning, personal growth and development. You are expected to be asking questions. After all, you are there to learn, aren’t you? Don’t hesitate to pull your employer off to the side and ask them something when you are uncertain. Make sure the time is convenient for them, however, and they will likely be happy to give you some guidance. Asking questions is a necessity in getting the most from your experience. If you do not ask about it, they will assume you already know it. The more questions you ask, the more knowledge you gain.

3. Get to know anyone and everyone

Image credit: ed2go.com

Image credit: ed2go.com

From the other interns, to the CEO, to the janitorial crew; get to know the people around you. You never know who might be able to help you with something down the road! Participate on company softball teams, go out for drinks with your internship team, stay after events and chat with fellow employees.

Go above and beyond the hours you are expected to work and establish relationships with co-workers. Your work will become more meaningful that way. Networking does not have to stop once you have landed an internship. In fact, it is just now beginning. Keep building that professional network. It will pay off when you are looking for your first job.

4. Be willing to learn

Having the right mindset in any workplace is extremely beneficial. Taking a positive approach with an open mind will definitely impress of your employer. Not all internships are the same and you may have unique opportunities that go beyond your job description. Be ready. Take in as much as you possibly can from whatever you are doing. You will appreciate that you did after the internship has concluded.

No one likes a know-it-all. If you walk around and act like you know everything and that the employer has nothing to teach you, this will resonate with them in a negative way. Accept when someone is offering to teach you something, no matter what that may be.

5. Sell yourself

Image credit: conquesttechnicalsales.com

Image credit: conquesttechnicalsales.com

When it comes to internships, there is also a more competitive angle that is often forgotten. As you make friends with the other interns at the company you must not forget that, from an employer’s perspective, you are competing against one another. Whether you realize it or not, your employer is grading each intern with the possibility of hiring one or two of you at the end of the process.

You must be able to work and get along with others, but make sure you are selling yourself and reinforcing why you should be considered for employment post-internship. You need to outperform the other interns in your program. Yes, this is somewhat of a bleak realization but is in fact a representation of the real business environment. Leave no doubt in your employers mind that you are the candidate they should pursue.

 

Do you have any tips for young professionals as they work their way through an internship? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.