FORUM Spring 2016 FORUM Spring 2016 - Page 10

SETTING THE PACE Recruiting 101: How California State University, Dominguez Hills, grew their Chapter from 62 members to 103 in one semester The California State University, Dominguez Hills, PRSSA Chapter executive board. Photo courtesy of Claudia Uballez. BY CLAUDIA UBALLEZ CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, DOMINGUEZ HILLS California State Universi- printed flyers with a picture of ty, Dominguez Hills put their Billy Rae Cyrus. Chapter on the map this year In the end, the Dominguez by growing their membership Hills Chapter reached a rewell into the triple The key components to digits. Last August, raising awareness of PRSSA the Dominguez Hills Chapter had 62 mem- was advertising by word-ofbers on their roster. mouth. Board members came Once the November together as a team to create deadline approached, buzz about PRSSA. the Chapter reported a total of 103 members consisting cord-breaking attendance of of returning and new members. 130. To achieve a triple-digit atMost Chapters across the tendance, banners were created nation know how challenging and pinned to all the approved it is to grow membership and bulletin boards to keep everykeep members engaged with one informed. Board members the organization. One of the also went into classes to make initiatives that the current ex- announcements. Our dirececutive board worked on was tor of member services stated, scheduling most of the semes- “I believe what worked for the ter activities ahead of time with Mullet Mixer was that we pera variety of events including sonally called people to invite bi-weekly meetings, keynote them.” speakers, agency tours, fundThe key components to raisraisers, internships and volun- ing awareness of PRSSA was teering opportunities. Planning advertising by word-of-mouth. keeps members anticipating up- Board members came together coming events. as a team to create buzz about At Dominguez Hills, the PRSSA. Soon after, communicommunications major focus- cations students began to feel es equally on advertising and as though they were missing public relations. In order to an opportunity, which lead to engage current and potential urgency to join the organizamembers, the Chapter focused tion. Chapter leaders began on creating a campaign based visiting the waiting room of the on our meetings. communications department to To kick off fall semester, the network with everyone. A group executive board hosted a simi- of executive board members lar event like Biola University would introduce themselves and called “Mullet Mixer; Business use one-liners such as, “Hello, in the front and party in the what’s your name and major?” back.” The goal of the “Mul- followed by sharing the benefits let Mixer” was to inform re- of joining PRSSA. turning and potential members The kicker was that at the the benefits of joining PRSSA. end of the meetings, alumni The meeting was hosted at the were invited to the bi-monthly Loker Student Union (LSU) meetings to share how PRSSA ballroom, then followed by a aided in their personal and promixer in the LSU terrace with fessional growth. This message appetizers, refreshments and became powerful in gaining music. The board created and and keeping members. 10 WWW.PRSSA.PRSA.ORG/FORUM Ten Steps From a Professional for Preparing for the Job Market BY STEPHEN DUPONT, APR VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC RELATIONS AND BRANDED CONTENT FOR POCKET HERCULES About 30 years ago, I wondered what to do to prepare for a career that would utilize what I learned from studying public relations and communications. Chances are, many of you are wondering the same thing. The “a-ha” moment came for me in a magazine writing class. To pass this class, students had to write a real inquiry to the magazine’s editor. The hope was that if the editor said yes, you might actually get paid to write the article. While I didn’t get my first paid writing assignment, I did obtain something more valuable: my first rejection letter and a lesson in the school of hard knocks. But I persisted and eventually I pitched that editor again about another story. The editor liked it, and I was paid $50. I’d like to share a few more of these lessons with you now: fessors to put you in touch with alumni, reach out to the Champions for PRSSA or go to PRSA events and meetings where you can meet working professionals. STEP FOUR: Learn to accept “no” graciously. Asking can lead to the elation of hearing “yes” or the depressing sound of hearing “no.” I have literally had thousands of ideas and suggestions rejected by reporters and clients. Don’t argue with the decision. I’ve learned to always accept rejection with grace. More important, I’ve learned to ask those who said “no” to share why they made their decision, so I might learn from it and improve what I’m asking for in the future. STEP FIVE: Choose trust and kindness. Even if you’re a freshman, you must take the initiative outside of the classroom to gain writing experience. I know that many college students struggle with paying college expenses, but set aside time in your schedule to begin developing samples of your work that you can show to future employers. These samples could include articles, videos, social media posts, emails, public relations plans and more. People tend do business with those they know, like and trust. You may have experienced this yourself. If one of my trusted friends asks me to do an informational interview with a relative or bright college student whom she’s met, I’m more than likely to do so because I trust my friend. So starting today, make a commitment to live a life of integrity, be kind to others and be generous with your time. You can start working on this while attending college, for example, by showing up to classes and meetings on time and volunteering in your local community. STEP TWO: STEP SIX: STEP ONE: Start now! Take control of your personal brand. You know you need to prepare a resume to apply for a job. But think bigger. Think about how you want to write the story of your career (and life). You’re writing that story now with every post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Those who may hire you will be looking at those posts. Is that really the best “you” that you want to put forward? If not, start writing a story that showcases your potential, your dreams and what you’re really capable of. STEP THREE: Ask. Write every day. STEP EIGHT: Get real-life work experience. If I’m looking at the resumes of two recent college graduates, I’m going to gravitate to the person who has some work experience. I think most employers would. So don’t wait until your senior year to get an internship. One year, I used a month-long January break to write for my hometown newspaper, The Prior Lake American. I ended that month having six stories published, with an invitation to write more articles, and most importantly, a job reference. STEP NINE: Be curious. In the years to come, technology will continue to transform the workplace. The true value of your college education is absorbing new material and ideas and adapting them to new applications. In the decades to come, you will need to continuously re-train yourself to keep up with the advances in technology. That’s why you must stay curious. Be a voracious reader. Travel often to meet new people and experience new cultures. Try the latest and greatest new technologies. STEP TEN: To communicate effectively, you need to continuously work toward improving your writing. And believe me, 30 years after my own start, I know there is a lot of room for improvement. For an internship or job interview, you’ll go miles further if you have writing experience outside of the classroom. Go to your student newspaper and ask if you can write a story. Volunteer to write the promotional materials for a student event. When you start your career, don’t stop. For years, I’ve been a freelance writer. I’ve learned invaluable skills by researching, writing and editing stories about other people and organizations. Keep asking “why.” I recently spoke to an executive recruiter about what she’s looking for in a job candidate. She said, “When I recommend a candidate to one of my clients for a position, I want them to be crystal clear as to why they do what they do.” Sometimes we take jobs because it’s the only thing available, or they fall into our laps. But the most satisfying job is the job that you intentionally took. You’ll encounter many choices throughout your lifetime — choose to act with intention. STEP SEVEN: You’ve been asking for things your entire life, but when it comes to something new — such as asking a reporter to consider writing a story about your company or your client — it can feel like a harrowing experience. Learning to ask people for things is an art. How can you learn? Ask for an informational interview. Ask to volunteer for a cause you believe in. Ask if you can lead a project. There are many opportunities you will never experience if you don’t ask. BY HEATHER HARDER PRSA NEW PROFESSIONALS PROGRAMMING CO-CHAIR No matter how much you learn in college, there’s one thing it doesn’t prepare you for: surviving the early years as a new professional. Fortunately, PRSA and the PRSA New Professionals Section can help you navigate these challenges. For those who will soon graduate, here are some answers to your burning questions about joining PRSA and finding value in it. Q: Why do you recommend joining PRSA? Jenna Mosley, New Pros PRSSA Co-Liaison: Even when you have a full-time job, you should always be thinking about career development, building a network and broadening your experience. By joining PRSA right at the start of your career, you’re able to build that development into your professional routine. So whether you’re in your first job or your fifth, career development outside the office is part of your professional experience. Q: How is PRSA similar to and different from PRSSA? Lauren Gray, New Pros Taskforce Director: PRSA is really just grown up PRSSA. The same people that were with you in PRSSA join PRSA with you, so the fun just really continues. Mosley: The main difference is that everyone in PRSA is a professional. T hat can be a little intimidating as a recent graduate. The important thing to remember is that everyone is involved with the organization for the same reason. They want to network with you as much as you want to network with them. Stephen Dupont, APR, is vice president of public relations and branded content for Pocket Hercules, a brand marketing firm based in Minneapolis. SPRING 2016 Q: Do you recommend joining PRSA right away or waiting? Ruthann Campbell, New Pros Programming Co-Chair: I recommend joining right away if you can afford to. The connections you will make within PRSA through your local Chapter are crucial to developing a network with professionals in your industry. Mosley: I waited a few months before joining PRSA after graduation only because I wanted to get settled in my new job first. I don’t think taking a few months off is bad, but you should definitely join within your first year of being a professional. Q: What are your tips for the transition from graduate to new pro? Gray: Be confident in yourself and your new profession. Always be willing to learn from every opportunity and don’t let every mistake get you down. Accept challenges and opportunities as they come and always remember to have fun with your career. Not everyone starts their first job in their dream job. It takes work and time to figure out where you want to be. Mosley: Stay on top of your emails. So many opportunities will come through your inbox from PRSA because there are so many ways to get involved. Q: How can a recent grad get involved with New Pros? Jess Noonan, New Pros Committee Chair: Reach out to the New Pros Committee! We’re here as a resource to our members and more than happy to take any ideas you have and get you more involved. Take advan- PRSA New Pros at the PRSA 2015 International Conference in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Heather Harder. “Be confident in yourself and your new profession. Always be willing to learn from every opportunity and don’t let every mistake get you down.” Lauren Gray, New Pros Taskforce Director tage of all that being a New Pro has to offer. Whether it’s joining a Tweet Chat, checking out the blog, hosting a local event during New Pros Week (Aug. 1–7) or tuning in to our webinar, get the most out of your membership by being engaged. Q: How can you make PRSA connections at the local level? Brian Price, New Pros ChairElect: Do everything you wish freshmen at your school would do in PRSSA. Start showing up at events and don’t be shy with your peers or experienced professionals. Look for the New Pros Section of your Chapter and consider getting involved with planning/leadership. Q: How has volunteering in PRSA helped you personally and professionally? Gemrick Curtom, New Pros Social Media Co-Chair: Volunteering in PRSA has professionally given me the opportunity to develop a social media strategy and execute it using our best practices. Personally, volunteering has helped me continue developing my leadership skills. It feels good knowing the work we do through PRSA can make an impact. Q: If you don’t have a job, how can PRSA membership help you get one? Gray: PRSA events are the perfect place to network and meet connections at places that offer jobs. You also can continually check the PRSA Jobcenter. There’s no doubt about it. The transition from student to full-time professional is hard. Joining PRSA early during your first year on the job will help you adjust as you gain a network of supportive professionals and resources to help continue your education and success. INDY PRSA Sponsor Chapters: Major Key in PRSSA Success CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 BY BONNIE UPRIGHT, APR, AND JO ANN LESAGE NELSON, APR PRSA BOARD LIAISONS Indianapolis City Market PRSSA leaders often struggle with developing ways to connect with their PRSA sponsor Chapter and their PRSA District, especially because leadership responsibilities in PRSSA Chapters change with each academic year. Bonnie Upright, APR, and Jo Ann LeSage Nelson, APR, PRSA Board Liaisons to PRSSA, offer these easy ways to make those connections, and keep them strong. The year-round market is located in a renovated historic landmark. Over 25 local businesses are housed within the market, which offer full meals, snacks, unique gifts, a coffee shop and more. FUNDING When you’re looking for sponsors for an event, don’t forget to reach out to your PRSA sponsor Chapter. There are often funds available to help support PRSSA activities. You don’t get, if you don’t ask. PROGRAMMING Build a mentor team. One of the most valuable assets you could cultivate in your life is the trust of a handful of people who can share with you their life lessons. You know these people as mentors. Even today, I still seek the counsel of a few experienced, trusted people. Look for a person who will tell it to you straight, a cheerleader and a person who is fantastic at generating ideas. How do you find them? Ask your pro- PRSA Transition Tips From New Professionals The members of your sponsoring PRSA Chapter are terrific resources for identifying and contacting speakers, panelists, judges and others who can support your programming. Ask for their input when planning programs. SPEAKERS Invite PRSA members to speak to your Chapter. They are eager to meet students interested in the profession and can offer great advice on internships, resume writing, job hunting and preparing for your first public relations job. LEADERSHIP Seek invitations to PRSA Chapter and District board meetings. There’s a wealth of information available, from program ideas to upcoming events to volunteer development. You can learn effective leadership skills by watching how others manage their board and executive committees. Plus, you just might be able to offer up an idea that hasn’t been considered yet. VOLUNTEER Offer to volunteer at a District conference. Districts SPRING 2016 often offer volunteer hours in return for conference registration fees. It’s a great way to meet professionals in your area and you get top notch professional development too! NETW ORK Ask a PRSA member to bring you along to an event and introduce you to PRSA members there. Having an ally will make it easier to network among people you don’t already know. Be sure to bring a business card, and collect cards from everyone you meet. AWARENESS Use your social media channels to cross-promote Chapter and District events. Your sponsor Chapter should be doing the same for you. Be sure you’re following, liking and sharing each other’s content. You’ll be the first to know about trends, jobs and activities that will benefit your members. TRANSITION Be sure your sponsor Chapter and District leaders know who your Chapter leaders are. With most PRSA Chapters using a calendar year, and PRSSA using a school calendar, contact names and information can get lost mid-year. Introduce your executive board to the local board when you take office. Put a one-pager together with names, roles and contact information. You’ll be remembered for making life easier for Chapter leaders, and that can never be overlooked. Café Patachou Just a block from the hotel, Café Patachou serves “Indy’s Best Breakfast” according to Where Magazine and was named a “Top Ten Healthiest Restaurant in the Nation” by Gourmet Magazine. Indy is full of passionate Millennials who love their city. I am one of them and look forward to welcoming you to Indy on Oct. 21. See you where the “Crossroads of Public Relations” meet. WWW.PRSSA.PRSA.ORG/FORUM 11