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Posts Tagged ‘PR pro’

I recently posted an article for my students entitled “The skills employers desire in today’s PR pro.” (http://linkd.in/rFp1fz)

Written by Arik Hanson for Ragan’s PR Daily (Nov. 17), the article is actually a series of short interviews, asking working professionals what skills and attitudes are most valuable to them when they hire new practitioners.  Good writing and storytelling came up frequently, as we would expect; so did a driving curiosity.  Strategic thinking, conceptual thinking, the ability to use metrics and analysis – these all come up as well.  One person mentioned creativity and resourcefulness, and several mentioned the ability to combine the effects of social media and traditional media; I think any of us who have been in the field for any length of time would agree with those thoughts as well.

But in today’s marketplace – and particularly for those looking for a job – I want to add a couple of things: dogged determination and a willingness to go back to Square 1.  I was an entrepreneur for over 25 years, and still work independently for various clients in addition to my teaching duties.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to remind myself of my brother’s very good advice:  “Turn over every stone.”  The willingness to look everywhere and anywhere for the next job or the next client is critical in a down market; the ability to keep going without giving up is both exhausting and necessary.

Couple with that determination has to be a willingness to go back to Square 1, and by that I mean a willingness to start at the beginning – again.  The salary or hourly rate may be lower; the benefits may not be there; you may have to build from scratch all over again, or – if this is your first time out in the work world – you may need to lower your expectations and be willing to accept a less-than-ideal job.  In this market, a job is a job.  Being open and flexible to something that is not what you have hoped for – or indeed, even worked for – will take you farther in the log run than waiting until that perfect job or high-rolling client comes along. I’ve often told my students that if they can’t find an entry-level PR job they should consider something in media sales – selling advertising space and time.  Learning the other side of media and learning to sell are two extremely valuable sets of skills to have for anyone in public communication.  You learn to deal with people; you learn what makes people tick.  You learn the differences between advertising, promotion, marketing and media relations from the inside out.  You’ll never forget any of that training.

Remember that looking for a job while you’re employed – at all!  – is the best way to look for a job.  Your relationships are still there, and you still have the opportunity to build new relationships; you’re not holed up somewhere just wishing.

Last spring I asked a couple of students what they planned to do after graduation.  One said, “Oh, I don’t know.  I haven’t planned, really.  I’m sure something good will come along.”  I cringed.  Good things don’t just happen to us; we have to go out and make them happen.  As I used to say when running my public relations firm in Montana, “No one pays me just for showing up.  Somehow or another, I always have to produce results.”

That’s how it is now for anyone changing careers or just starting out in the work force: no one’s going to pay you for being a great, competent person who is simply out there looking.  You have to turn over every stone; you have to persevere; you have to remain open and flexible; you have to lower your expectations or be willing to start again at Square 1.  You may be really lucky and land something fairly quickly that proves to be a great fit for both you and your employer or client.   But more than likely, you’ll find you need patience, resourcefulness, and a dogged belief in yourself and your future.  The future isn’t what it used to be; but it’s there.

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