Tips from Pros

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Posted At: April 19, 2007 8:29 AM

compiled by Megan Frazier

Get a Step Ahead

Interview Skills

Job Satisfaction

Job Skills

Skills for Students

Stay Informed

Get a Step Ahead

“Take advantage of every opportunity you are presented. For me, making myself visible in my organizations and taking command of my expertise has resulted in a direct reporting relationship to the CEO.” — Gail Winslow-Pine, APR, director, marketing and corporate communication, Catholic Medical Center, Manchester, N.H.

“Don´t be afraid of constructive criticism. It makes you a better PR professional.” —Dr. Amanda Gallagher, assistant professor, public relations, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

“Always bring suggestions. When you get stuck on a project in a job, don´t bring the problem to your supervisor and ask them to fix it. Think it through, then bring it to them. Use bullet points (speak briefly and directly); outline the problem; describe three options you thought of; and give your recommendation. Your goal is to see if your recommendation is on target. This demonstrates you can problem-solve, consider multiple viewpoints and also that you can take responsibility for your job (your job is yours, not your supervisor´s!).” — Sarah Rasmussen, APR, public affairs manager, Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines, Iowa

“A PR practitioner must understand public relations’ past before determining the future.” — Dr. Michael Palenchar, assistant professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

“We´re such a mobile society; it´s vital to network constantly to stay current regarding opportunities for advancement and moves.” — Lisa Hood Skinner, vice president, Ackermann PR, Knoxville, Tenn.

“For women, get and read ´Nice Girls Don´t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes that Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers´ by Lois P. Frankel. I don´t subscribe to everything in the book, but a lot of it is useful, such as when answering your phone, recording your voicemail, leaving messages or introducing yourselves, use your first and last name, not just first.” — Sarah Rasmussen, APR, public affairs manager, Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines, Iowa

“Don´t be afraid to take risks. Move to another city, state or country. Do something new. This will make you a well-rounded professional.” — Dr. Amanda Gallagher, assistant professor, public relations, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

“We should use the full range of public relations tools to communicate actions to key stakeholders. This notion is not new; however, it is more critical than ever given the scrutiny that organizations receive in the Internet age. By bringing our organizations´ actions in line with its words, public relations professionals can help make our organizations more credible and, ultimately, more effective.” — Timothy S. Brown, PhD, APR director, corporate communications, Delmarva Power/Atlantic City Electric, N.J.

“Always, always follow up with a thank you. If time is short, write an e-mail using proper grammar and complete sentences. But also send a hand-written thank you as well. It really does make an impression.” — Sarah Rasmussen, APR, public affairs manager, Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines, Iowa

“Speak up when appropriate, but truly master the art of listening.” — Kristi Brown, owner, Upside Brown Consulting, LLC, Starkville, Miss.

“Keep in touch with your peers and professional friends in other cities, industries, professional organizations, etc., at least once year – – through notes, e-mails, Christmas cards – – whatever works. I´ve worked all over the world, and several of my jobs were a direct result from calling a PRSA contact in another city, from a Rotary Club visit, from a note in a Christmas card, and even from my appearance in a local community fundraising musical. It pays to stay in certain decision makers´ top of mind – – especially if those decision makers are in positions to hire you.” — Lisa Hood Skinner, vice president, Ackermann PR, Knoxville, Tenn.

“The nature of public relations and in any job is that eventually you´re going to want to move on. You might look up one day and say I´d really like to move up and move on and all of the sudden you don´t have a network to call upon. And that network is so important.” — Kami Watson Huyse, APR, principal, My PR Pro, San Antonio, Texas

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Interview Skills

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“When interviewing (for a job or informational), ALWAYS do research – look at their Web site, read through it, google the company, call ahead or drop by to pick up literature. Don´t come 10 minutes early and read what´s in the waiting area and plan on that to get you by – it shows! And when you do research, be sure that it´s apparent in the interview (i.e., bring it up).” — Sarah Rasmussen, APR, public affairs manager, Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines, Iowa

“Good writing will get your foot in the door with jobs.” — Dr. Amanda Gallagher, assistant professor, public relations, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

“If you have an objective or something similar on your resume, be sure it matches the position you´re applying for and the employer.” — Sarah Rasmussen, APR, public affairs manager, Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines, Iowa

“In interviews, always come with questions. Remember, the interview is a chance for them to interview you, but also for you to interview them. What´s it like to work there? What would you be doing? What´s the culture? As a potential employee, don´t you want to know these things ahead of time? The only way to get the answers is ask the questions.” — Sarah Rasmussen, APR, public affairs manager, Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines, Iowa

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Job Satisfaction

“Work hard to discover your true passion–the one thing that makes you feel alive–and do more of it.” — Kristi Brown, owner, Upside Brown Consulting, LLC, Starkville, Miss.

“Keep a positive, enthusiastic attitude. Public relations is an exciting field. Enjoy working in it!” — Dr. Amanda Gallagher, assistant professor, public relations, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

“One cannot manage relationships without communicating or thinking creatively and strategically.” — Dr. Lynne Sallot, associate professor, public relations, University of Georgia, Athens

“People who are the most successful stay in one place, but do not necessarily do the same thing.” — Holly Shepherd Lollar, o2 Ideas, public relations, Birmingham, Ala.

“Find your passion and make this your specialty. You don´t have to be an expert in every aspect of your career; simply find what gives you the most enjoyment and make this your focus.” — Gail Winslow-Pine, APR, director, marketing and corporate communication, Catholic Medical Center, Manchester, N.H.

“Nothing is worth sacrificing your personal integrity.” — Kristi Brown, owner, Upside Brown, Consulting, LLC, Starkville, Miss.

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Job Skills

“It is increasingly important for public relations professionals to counsel clients about the fact that their actions are as or more important than their words. We need to bring the public interest to the forefront in discussions with those leading our organizations and challenge them to take actions that demonstrate our commitment to the public´s well-being.” — Timothy S. Brown, PhD, APR, director, corporate communications, Delmarva Power/Atlantic City Electric, N.J.

“It is necessary to understand the language of public relations in order to understand the role PR plays in society today.” — Dr. Michael Palenchar, assistant professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

“Stay organized: process paper fast–One way communicators get bogged down is being inundated with paper. Reports, fax messages, magazines, notes, invoices and more all cause clutter, making it more challenging to work efficiently. Try to touch anything made of paper one time. If you can´t use it immediately, file it, recycle it or pass it on.” — Edward M. Bury, director of public relations, CCIM Institute, Chicago

“Critical thinking skills are so important to ethics — questioning what you´re looking at. Young practitioners tend to just go with the flow, but the idea is, when you look at things, really question where they come from.” — Kami Watson Huyse, APR, principal, My PR Pro, San Antonio, Texas

“It is extremely important to understand the role of ethics in public relations today.” —Dr. Amanda Gallagher, assistant professor, public relations, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

“Practice public relations, not just publicity. Any serious practitioner of public relations should bring a broad scope of prospective services and counsel to the table, not just media relations. Too often, public relations plans are structured around generating clips, footage and blog postings – even today. If you´re planning to enter this profession and elevate yourself, learn what it means to think strategically. Base programs on the four step process: define the opportunity or threat; conduct research; communicate; evaluate and make revisions to the plan. ´Publicists´ don´t practice public relations.” — Edward M. Bury, director of public relations, CCIM Institute, Chicago

“A PR practitioner must be able to clearly understand who their target audience is.” — Dr. Michael Palenchar, assistant professor, public relations, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

“You´re not going to write business plans or press releases right away so be prepared to work long hours and handle a lot of administrative work. Whether you´re pitching media or doing research, make sure to hone those skills as they are essential to the development of a good PR practitioner.” — Michael Delgado, account supervisor, LAagencia, Los Angeles

“Keep it short. I have found that persons who are listened to can succinctly and quickly summarize their point of view. This applies to both spoken and written forms of communication.” — Gail Winslow-Pine, APR, director, marketing and corporate communication, Catholic Medical Center, Manchester, N.H.

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Skills for Students

“Get as much ´real-world´ experience as you can while you are an undergraduate. Use every class as an opportunity to build your portfolio. Get involved in organizations and hold leadership positions. Seek out jobs and internships to help advance your career.” — Dr. Amanda Gallagher, assistant professor, public relations, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

“I teach my students how to think critically by using their research critically.” — Dr. Michael Palenchar, assistant professor, University of Tennessee. Knoxville

“Join a professional organization. This will be invaluable as you will have the opportunity to make important connections that will lead to future jobs and/or internships.” — Dr. Amanda Gallagher, assistant professor in public relations- Texas Tech University

“Students should have excellent writing and communications skills as well as critical thinking skills.” — Dr. Lynne Sallot, associate professor, public relations, University of Georgia, Athens

“Students can never get enough writing practice.” — Dr. Amanda Gallagher, assistant professor, public relations, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

“Students should be able to use research to solve business and communication problems creatively and strategically.” — Dr. Michael Palenchar, assistant professor, public relations, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Stay Informed

“There´s nothing more important and valuable to clients than to provide fresh and creative ideas. Read as much as you can on all topics so that you can broaden your marketing horizons and stay on top of the current trends. From The Wall Street Journal to Cosmopolitan magazine, you´ll be more valuable and a better rounded professional by reading.” — Michael Delgado, account supervisor, LAagencia, Los Angeles

“You should never stop learning. When you first start working in public relations, it is such a busy job. You´ll go in early and come home late, and just be exhausted. It is such a busy job. Stay on top of your networking and stay on top of going to professional development seminars and developing your skills beyond what you´re doing in your job.” — Kami Watson Huyse, APR, principal, My PR Pro, San Antonio, Texas

“Read everything and not just industry specific. At a moment´s notice you´ll need to have knowledge and awareness of cultural, historical, global, economic and political issues.” — Gail Winslow-Pine, APR, director, marketing and corporate communication, Catholic Medical Center, Manchester, N.H.

 

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