Tagged: #StudentAgency

Staying Connected: How to Network Like a Pro

By : Emily Schaper

When it comes to opening new doors and opportunities, networking should be a top priority.  It’s not just about trading information, but establishing long-term relationships with mutual benefits.  Networking, however, may not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list.  People may find it time-consuming, awkward, or out of their comfort zone.  This can be understandable if you already have a lot on your plate and the last thing you want to do is make small talk with strangers.  Although, if you don’t take the time to prioritize networking throughout your career, you may miss out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker.  Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be expanding your professional network in no time!

Find Your Networking Style

Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker.  First, you need to determine what style works best for you.  If you are energized by being around people, for example, you could network at a large social gathering instead of just one-on-one.  Be aware, however, Covid-19 may alter these plans.  Organizations are utilizing Zoom, so if you happen to enjoy engaging with others online, this could potentially help a lot.

Network Outside the Box

Second, don’t be afraid to network outside the box.  Think of events and organizations to attend that you otherwise wouldn’t consider.  Sometimes, being able to volunteer around people of similar interests is enough to advance your career.  It’ll show you really value helping others and have a passion to learn new skills/abilities.  

Do Your Research

Don’t forget to do your research before you connect with someone.  It’ll help the conversation flow better if there’s a base understanding of their interests, education, work history, and more.  Plus, it’ll show you genuinely care and respect the other person.  They’ll remember that about you later on.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Next, always follow up.  The time you invest in speaking with someone won’t benefit your personal and professional development if you fail to follow up afterward.  This can easily be done by utilizing social media platforms, such as LinkedIn.  Just sending short, personalized messages helps differentiate you from other individuals.  According to Deena Baikowitz, chief networking officer and co-founder of Fireball Network, “The worst networking mistake you can make is not trying at all.”  

Pass It On

Last, but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to pass it on.  If you have the opportunity to help someone who has taken time to reach out to you, act upon it.  Your referral has a lot of power and can help them land a job.  You were once in their shoes and what goes around comes around.

Utilizing these tips will set you apart from others in the long run.  Remember, if you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone, then you’re not growing.  Now’s the time to reach out and stay connected.

Resources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancamillercole/2019/03/20/why-networking-should-be-at-the-core-of-your-career/?sh=1c2d1e181300

https://www.michaelpage.com.au/advice/career-advice/career-progression/benefits-networking

https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/importance-of-networking-for-career-success

How COVID-19 is Causing Event Planning Evolution

By: April Wood

I hate to begin a blog post by talking about how COVID-19 has changed the communication industry, but to write a blog about “normal times” feels disingenuous. Public relations and other communication departments are rapidly adapting to communicating at a time of uncertainty and illness. A particularly challenging aspect of public relations during the pandemic has become apparent to me in the last few months: event planning. All of the relevant skills remain, and a new set of often unintuitive skills is becoming necessary for many event planners.  

As Important as Ever

  1. Writing and Design – The tone of writing you use and the style of design you implement depends on your audience. These are foundations of public relations. Writing and design will always be necessary skills in this field, even and especially in event planning. If you do not communicate your event and its intentions well, no one will participate. 
  2. Contingency Planning and Being Flexible – It is inevitable that something will go wrong the day of your event. Take time BEFORE the event to create a list of things that might possibly go awry and devise a contingency plan for each of them. If and when something doesn’t go as expected, you have a solid plan for how to handle it that can be tailored to fit the issue perfectly. A crisis that could spiral out of control is stopped with minimal damages. 
  3. Organization – Planning for a virtual event still requires careful organization using traditional event-planning measures. Guest lists need to be compiled, invitations sent out, registration organized, plans established and executed, and so much more. Do not assume that you can just hop in on a call and your event will go off without a hitch. That would be like assuming that if you give everyone a time and place to meet that the event will just happen naturally. “Planning” that way will only lead to disaster. 
  4. Event Scripting – I’ll admit that this one is more of a grey area. It is an old skill applied in a new way. Usually, you would have an itinerary in the program you hand out at the event that outlines the order of events, in addition to a more in-depth one that lays out the timeframe of each section of the event. When live video enters the mix, however, it gets a bit more complicated. Depending on the type of event,  you may want to play a number of videos, present a PowerPoint, and also have some live content. Your files need to be clearly named and ordered and a script should be developed to tell you exactly what order they are played and at what times. Delays in getting videos or presentations started will delay your whole event and throw off the schedule for the night. 

Skills of Emerging Necessity 

  1. An In-depth Knowledge of Your Broadcasting Program of Choice – The program you choose to host your meeting is a critical component of the event-planning process. It is like selecting your venue and support staff for an in-person event. Choose one that you are familiar with, has a good reputation, and is user-friendly. If you are not particularly adept at technology, take an online course on the program or try it out in advance to experiment and get comfortable with its use. Take the time to learn the program and host a dry-run with your fellow planners to locate any potential problems and resolve them before the event. 
  2. Troubleshooting – Be prepared to handle technical difficulties if they arise the day of the event. These problems will likely be both on the host’s side and on the virtual attendees’ side. This means doing research beforehand on possible technical issues and their solutions as well as having someone available on event day to monitor the chat, email, and social media pages for attendees who may report issues. They can only be swiftly resolved if they are swiftly identified. When it comes to event planning, today’s public relations professionals must  learn how to provide technical support in addition to their usual skills.

This is clearly not a comprehensive list – I’ll leave that for the academics -, but it serves to give you a realistic picture of what you can expect to undertake in order to get your event off the ground. 

Thinking Analytically in a Creative PR World

By: Emma Honn

We have all heard it before: to be a public relations professional, you have to be a creative storyteller, think outside of the box and be quick on your feet. There’s still not much talk about being analytical. As technology develops and our means of communication becomes more sophisticated, PR professionals must begin to think about how data can provide value to their work.

 

Strategic storytelling 

People have a hard time believing what companies say about themselves. Facts can substantiate a claim, but using data alone does not build a personality for your brand. Creative storytelling can be amplified by incorporating facts along the way, and bringing credibility to a message will help audiences believe and trust in your brand. Research and data can also help in measuring attitudes before and after a PR effort. It’s a win-win situation on both sides. Remember, being a creative storyteller is one thing, but incorporating analytical thinking into storytelling is another. 

 

Connecting with your audience

Often times, we believe that being creative and having great ideas will lead to success. While that may be true, there has to be a way to measure how well the great idea actually performed. By using big data, we can understand how audiences have reacted to a certain idea or campaign, or if they behaved in a certain way because of PR strategies. The element of measurement that big data offers allows PR professionals to be strategic in decision making. Instead of guessing what target audiences want or how they think, big data offers improved insights about what our audiences did, what they want and what they expect. 

 

A seat at the table

We can also use big data to conduct attitudinal and behavioral research. This is essential to the success of a campaign or initiatives that PR professionals develop. By conducting attitudinal and behavioral research before and after a campaign, we can see how well our campaign actually performed.

 

It seems like, nowadays, PR professionals are standing in the corner instead of sitting at the table. Professionals are having a hard time proving what PR is worth to an organization, but having cold hard data to show the C-suite will prove the worth of any PR team, and show that we are a vital and valuable part of every company. 

 

When students get into PR, they think, “No more math! I get to be creative all the time!” This may have been true 30 years ago, but with the developments in technology and communication, a background in data is more important than ever. If PR is going to have a seat at the table, build stronger relationships with their audiences and amplify communications, data must be in the conversation.