The A-Z of Job Searching

The most important letter in the A to Z of finding a job is N, for Networking. As young professionals comb the professional world for job opportunities, it’s important to remember to use your resources. Andrea Nierenberg, author of the great books “Million Dollar Networking” and “Savvy Networking” offers up 26 ways job seekers can get ahead by networking.

1. Action, Attitude.
2. Belong to Industry Groups.
3. Call Your Contacts; Connect.
4. Deliver What You Say.
5. Empathy and Eye Contact.
6. Friendly Approach.
7. Set Goals – “Go for it”, Gratitude, Give.
8. Humor and Help Go Hand in Hand.
9. Be Interested and Have Integrity.
10. Join and Get Involved.
11. Keep in Touch and Be Kind.
12. Listen, Learn.
13. Motivate Yourself.
14. Niceness Pays.
15. Ask Open-Ended Questions; Opportunity.
16. Practice — Be Professional.
17. Set a Quota.
18. Be a Resource and Do Your Research.
19. Strategy and Smile.
20. Timing Is Everything – Trust Is Key.
21. Understand Others.
22. Be Versatile.
23. Write Letters.
24. Do It With Love XoXo; at Least “Like.”
25. Focus on “YOU” the Other Person.
26. Zoom With the Possibilities of New and Nurtured Connections.

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“Two Ears and One Mouth”: Where PR is Headed in 2009

The following article was written by Pat McCormick, of Conkling Fiskum & McCormick in January 2009. It is titled “What’s Ahead for PR When Traditional Media is in Decline”.  Of the dozens of PR related articles I read daily, I chose to re-post this particular article because of McCormick’s smart, progressive and practical approach to the future of public relations. Web 2.0 is forever changing the way companies and their PR reps do business – but some things will remain constant.

…..

Staff of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle’s oldest newspaper, were stunned last week to learn Hearst Corporation, the P-I’s owners, planned to sell the venerable daily within 60 days or close it down. The recession has hurt the media business, but there’s more going on in the media than just a weak economy.

Pat McCormick offers a smart, progressive and practical approach to the future of public relations

Pat McCormick offers a smart, progressive and practical approach to the future of public relations

Brooke Gladstone, host of NPR’s On the Media, started the program last month with this introduction: “Media Land is drowning in red ink – like that’s new. NPR just let go seven percent of its workforce, canceling the programs Day to Day and News and Notes. The New York Times announced plans to borrow a quarter of a billion dollars against its building. The Tribune Company, owners of The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun, declared bankruptcy. We could do this every week. All over the country, at papers large and small, budgets have been slashed, journalists have lost their jobs.”

The Oregonian recently shed close to 100 positions, including more than 40 full-time reporters and editors. It announced this month that it will now print just one edition daily and limit downstate distribution. Earlier, like many newspapers, The Oregonian announced format changes, essentially making the paper smaller. Monday’s paper was cut to three sections from four.

Eleven Medford Mail Tribune and Ashland Daily Tidings employees were laid off last May. Eugene’s Register Guard laid off 12 percent of its staff in July after what its publisher called “an unprecedented shortfall in revenue.” In December the Salem Statesman Journal announced a dozen layoffs. Vancouver’s The Columbian cut 20 percent of its staff and announced plans to move operations back to its old building after moving into a brand new building a year ago.

Lee Enterprises, which owns newspapers in Coos Bay, Albany, Corvallis and Longview, disclosed two weeks ago that it will have trouble paying its debts because of severe reductions in revenues.

In its media business forecasts for 2009, Fitch Ratings negative outlook for 953848_news_1newspapers included this dire prediction: “Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without newspapers by 2010.”

Broadcasters are pinched, too, though election-year political advertising boosted an otherwise weak 2008. Still, KPTV recently announced 10 layoffs. KMTR in Eugene laid off six in June. Broadcasters expect more cuts in 2009.

Certainly the economy is a major reason for media business problems. Fitch Ratings forecast for 2009 that, unlike previous recessions, this downturn is putting pressure across a wider spectrum of advertising categories. “Five of the top 10 advertising categories or over 40 percent of the ad mix will be under meaningful pressure next year,” Fitch reported. “In particular, the automotive category (which can represent over 20 percent of a broadcast affiliate’s revenue) will present meaningful challenges. Fitch maintains that the auto industry is enduring structural changes that will permanently reduce local and national advertising and that the supply of available advertising units will need to contract as a result.”

The bleak economic outlook for newspapers and broadcasters masks something more basic going on. People are relying less on traditional media to package and deliver news to them. Increasingly, people are looking online for their news. They are relying less on ads to form their perspectives on products, and looking to friends and online sources to sort and select the products they buy.

Today, nearly all the most visited Web sites in Oregon are linked to local media.

And, of course, newspapers and broadcasters have moved aggressively to stake an online presence that complements their traditional media products. In announcing the P-I’s fire sale and possible closure, Hearst Corporation said the P-I may become a Web-based news outlet, with a substantially reduced staff. When the Portland Tribune cut its staff and went from twice- to once-weekly publication last year, it shifted its promotion to emphasize its online edition as an alternative daily news source for Portlanders. Today, nearly all the most visited Web sites in Oregon are linked to local media.

Given the yin yang relationship between public relations and journalism, when people use media differently, the practice of public relations evolves.

What is public relations? It’s often described as promotion or “spin.” But we agree with David Phillips who described public relations in a Journal of Communications Management article as: “Building and managing relationships with those who influence an organization’s important audiences.”

It’s a management function and, like journalism, it’s a communications discipline. Applying best practices, PR communications are based on thorough research, thoughtful planning and skillful execution – followed by hard-nosed evaluation of their effectiveness in achieving goals.

PR professionals will continue to work closely with journalists. Though there may be fewer journalists, those who remain are likely to be multi-media journalists. Today we are finding more of our outreach is aimed online – at influential bloggers, online journalists and directly to our clients’ key audiences. Tools of the new media are perfect for public relations because they facilitate genuine engagement, one to one, with those we’re trying to reach.

So-called Web 2.0 tools not only ease the challenge of building and maintaining relationships, they also provide effective tools to connect with our clients’ key customers and contacts, and provide a platform for dialogue.

What works is active listening, using research and direct engagement, to join in a meaningful dialogue. That builds the mutually respectful relationship communicators should be seeking with their audiences.

A long time ago I remember my mother telling me that God gave me two ears and one mouth so I should listen twice as much as I talk. Some see PR as an amplifier to make what they have to say louder so people will hear them. That kind of PR doesn’t work very well, especially in today’s communications environment where people expect to control their conversations with companies and organizations communicating with them.

What works is active listening, using research and direct engagement, to join in a meaningful dialogue. That builds the mutually respectful relationship communicators should be seeking with their audiences.

We don’t expect newspapers or local broadcast stations will disappear anytime soon. But their world is changing. So is ours. To be credible, companies, brands, organizations – even governments – must value dialogue and engage with those they seek to influence.

That’s where public relations is headed in 2009.

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Designing + Facilitating a Workshop

With the right format and preparation, seminars are an effective way to communicate a variety of messages on just about any topic.

With the right format and preparation, seminars are an effective way to communicate a variety of messages on just about any topic.

Public relations practioners must feel comfortable communicating in a variety of professional settings. Taking communication one step further than the traditional press release or media kit, PR practitioners can communicate a message to specific publics by conducting seminars for their clients. A workshop can educate and inform participants while relaying important messages or information about an organization.  Designed correctly, seminars can be powerful because they communicate to target publics on just about any topic, relaying a variety of messages. Plus, once you’ve designed a useful workshop, it can be used again and again. 

While this form of communication isn’t as common in PR as a press release, for example, it is a useful tool to understand and have basic experience with.

As Student Body Vice President at WOU, I facilitated several workshops for students and organizations, and taught my staff how to design and facilitate their own.  From topics on organizational budgets to how to be a leader, I’ve successfully used the same format.

With preparation, well thought out content and a few ‘pointers’, facilitating a workshop isn’t as overwhelming as you might think.

Designing + Facilitating a Workshop

Prepare. Identify your clients goals for the seminar and ask serious questions about what you hope to accomplish by conducting a seminar. What should participants walk away with? Next, brainstorm ways you can meet the goal of your workshop.

Audience. Outline what the needs of your audience will be – what are they looking for from your seminar? Identifying your audience and their demographics is an important step in creating a useful seminar. Consider the design and style of your seminar according to your audience. What will be their energy level? Interests? Age? Goals?

I’ve found that an hour + is a good length for seminars – if it must be longer, plan for a short break.

Consider Specifics. Once you’ve identified your audience demographic, set a date and time for the seminar. What works for their schedules? Review workshop content with clients, coworkers, and experts if possible – edit at least twice.

Connect. Spend time before your seminar begins connecting with

Taking time to connect with participants before, during and after a workshop can ease your nerves and greatly improve the workshop for attendees and help you get feedback.
Taking time to connect with participants before, during and after a workshop can ease your nerves and greatly improve the workshop for attendees and help you get feedback.

participants – building your confidence and easing any nerves you have.

Introductions. In addition to your name, outline your qualifications, reasons for teaching, and ‘thanks for attending’ sentiments. Explain the goal of your seminar, and outline the agenda.

Start on the Right Foot. If it fits your message, consider a simple, painless ice breaker activity to get participants opened up and talking (I recommend finding ideas in The Ultimate Icebreaker & Teambuilder Guide by Jon Tucker). Explain the basic seminar format, and explain your expectations of the seminar.

To The Heart Of It. In the body of your workshop, develop a flow of material and plan your timing carefully – this is where editing can make a big, big difference. Incorporate unique concepts and new skills, and explain them in detail. Utilize various teaching methods (ex: visual, groups, speaking, lecture). This part of the seminar might include useful links, readings, or further workshops for participants to continue learning from after you seminar.

Concluding. Make SURE to review major themes and ideas of your seminar and provide ways for participants to find even more information. It’s often useful at this point to allow questions (covering your butt if you forgot something) or give attendees a place to direct questions.  Be careful of  bring your workshop to an aprubt end – which can leave attendees feeling awkward and unsure about their committment to the topic.

Get Feedback. Reconnect with participants as they leave, asking them to give you feedback on the seminar (ultimately an important tool for refining your message and delivery)

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Ask, Brainstorm, Communicate: Building the Journalist, PR Pro Relationship

With ever tightening deadlines, budgets and newsroom staff, today’s relationship between public relations practitioners and journalists is increasingly symbiotic. As this relationship grows and even overlaps as more public relations professionals blog or write guest columns, both parties have sought greater understanding and better communication.

The relationship between journalists and public relations professionals is increaingly dependent. Is it improving as well?

The relationship between journalists and public relations professionals is increaingly dependent. Is it improving as well?

One study has shown that somewhere between 25 to 50 percent of news stories originate from public relations practitioners (Cameron, Sallot & Curtin, 1997). There is certainly potential, as both parties work toward mutual collaboration, for the general public to receive more timely, applicable and worthwhile news and information.

In 1975, a Texas-based study by Aronoff found that many journalists viewed public relations practitioners as obstructive or even manipulative.

My question is how much, if any, has this relationship improved since 1975? If so, in which ways?  What are professionals doing differently to improve it?

Interconnectivity has expanded the journalist-PR relationship

Interconnectivity has expanded the journalist-PR relationship

My hypothesis is that this relationship has improved: boundaries have broken down, biases or misconceptions have been proven wrong, the communication has simply improved. Good public relations practitioners have begun to ask in earnest how they might deliver information better, faster, or better tailored to audiences. Great journalists have started brainstorming how they can ask for, sort through, or seek information that is best way for their readers. And we’ve all become better consumers of the news since 1975.  We sort through junk, we wade through clutter, and we have begun to build mutually dependent realities into meaningful, beneficial relationships.

Do you agree? Which other ways are we improving the journalist-PR pro relationship?

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Communicating via Twitter

freeimages.co.uk workplace imagesProfessional communicators have been Twitter as a tool – with great success – since 2006. The number of users on Twitter has increased dramatically recently, providing more links and possible connections every day. @MackCollier recently tweeted:  “don’t focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate.” Twitter is a powerful tool, but it’s only as powerful as you make  your connections. As a young professional preparing to join the world of public relations, I’ve spent the last 2+ weeks finding ways to connect with other professionals, find advice, join discussions, and find information on a variety of subjects.
Are you using Twitter? If so, are you using this tool effectively and creatively to enhance relationships?

Three reasons you should be Tweeting now

    1. It’s simple and takes little time.
    2. It ultimately connects you with new people you might not have met otherwise, and helps to maintain meaningful and content-driven professional  relationships.
    3. To start seriously reconsidering how brevity can change your life – think, 140 character-style brevity.

      For those new to Twitter or with a current Twitter profile, here are a few Do’s (and Dont’s) of tweeting:

      Twitter Do’s

      Include a picture of you (or a picture related to you).

        Profile ‘logos’ look neat, but may turn possible Twitter connections off from following you to avoid what they think could be spam.

        Include a brief and to the point description of who you are and what you do.

          For example, if you use Twitter primarily to connect with others in your profession, make sure to identify which profession or company you work in. This is the easiest way to connect with others you are interested in. On the same note, include which city you work in.

          Use the @_name__ feature more than not.

            Reply and comment on interesting tweets using the @ tool as often as possible. It’s simply the easiest way to connect with others.

            The @ feature offers a simple way to introduce yourself or connect with others who Tweet interesting content.
            The @ feature offers a simple way to introduce yourself or connect with others who Tweet interesting content.

            ReTweet (RT) worthwhile Tweets..

              …and acknowledge accomplishments, great ideas and new users.

              Join Twitter discussions

                There are Twitter discussions happening on just about every subject. Simply type an #_(keyword) into your Twitter update to join the discussion. The simplest way I’ve found to read ongoing discussions is to type the #keyword into Twitter Search (found at the bottom of the page) Some of my favorites are #portland, #journchat, #beer, #nonprofit and #gaza. Start your own & invite followers to start a discussion.

                Do you have other discussions you join? I would also love to find an easier way to view discussions on Twitter…write a comment below.

                Twitter Don’ts

                  Don’t forget to keep the ‘social’ in your social media outreach. Extending your Twitter contacts to deeper connections are some of the best professional connections you can make. Invite your Twitter connections to meet up for coffee or lunch,  send emails, do a phone consultation. Extending into social media, connect with Tweeters on LinkedIn or Facebook, and comment on relevant blogs.

                    Expect everyone to be as interested as you are in your personal life. If you must tweet on what you ate for breakfast, find an interesting link about the Cheerios brand to share with your followers. Always include interesting content, or lose followers & possible connections.

                      Use your Twitter profile as an uploading station for all news on your product, brand or company. No one wants a Twitter feed full of useless, irrelevant pitches.

                      Consider the results, as recently I…

                      Connected with @kmatthews, a PR professor at the University of Oregon. She provided insight on University of Oregon’s masters program in Strategic Communications and an email address for more information.

                      Created my online portfolio at carbonmade.com. Check it out!

                      Enjoyed insight on public relations from Waggener Edstrom staffing researcher @researchgoddess.

                      Provided basic PR consulting for @alaskapodshow of Alaska HDTV, a “series of shows produced in high definition with a dedication to sharing the Alaska experience with a global audience,”  and pointed them in the direction of  a great Alaska-based PR agency.

                      Connected with more than 10 young professionals in PR, many based in the Northwest. Including @amandajones an intern at Nike, @consumingPR a young PR professional in the Seattle area, with a rockin’ fashion PR blog, @kalebjake a copywriter based in Texas and complete pro with Carbonmade. (Check out his killer portfolio at http://kalebjake.carbonmade.com/)

                      Received dozens of responses to a general question about LinkedIn’s ‘Get Introduced’ tool. Used the tool with great success later that week

                      Redesigned and reintroduced my personal blog on WordPress

                      Have other useful Twitter Do’s, Don’ts, fun Twitter discussions, tools or important points? Write a comment below – I’d love to hear what you think.

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                      Merry Christmas from Alaska!

                      For my favorite family, friends, coworkers and readers: I love you!
                      Warmest wishes and all my love from Alaska.

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                      Copyright Remix: Updating Prohibition-Style Laws for Web 2.0


                      On National Public Radio’s Fresh Air program yesterday, author and law professor Lawrence Lessing discussed his perspective of today’s antique copyright laws and how they apply to Web 2.0.

                      Typically a casual NPR listener, I was quick to tune into this story. Copyright laws and their implications were discussed at length in my Communication in the Information Age course this term. The ways that existing copyright law relates to technology in a 2.0 world is a tricky course but also an example of ways government and the corporate world scrambles to keep up.

                      Lessing offers an interesting and progressive ideas to update copyright laws he describes as “antique” and likens to Prohibition.

                      In my opinion, there are several things to be accomplished by copyright laws. First, artists and creators of content need to receive just compensation for their work. Second, consumers and active users of creative content need some degree of rights to use, share and enjoy content. If both components are fulfilled, content will benefit both groups and society as a whole.

                      Another soundbite that caught my attention:
                      Lessing is also the creator of
                      Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that promotes the legal sharing, repurposing and remixing of creative work. (NPR 2008) While developing Mercy Corps Flickr site, Tiffany Wheeler (my boss and coworker) explained the opportunity provided by Creative Commons. As we discussed and dug through the internet, it became clear that there was plenty to learn about the Creative Commons concept.

                      As Lessing points out, there are clearly alternatives to our current laws on copyrights that would better address the world of Web 2.0, for artists and consumers. Although I hadn’t realized how many alternatives were available for online copyright strategies, I am excited that the social networking world and thinkers like Lessing are helping explain and promote these possibilities.

                      You can listen to Lawrence Lessing’s interview on NPR here

                      The sooner we create laws to fit the needs of constituents, the further our society can move forward – using social media and the Web as a tool.

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