Blog Archives

The Next Step for Communications Pros

To go back to school or to not go back to school: that is the question.

And this is the very question Jason blogged about recently — one that almost every working professional grapples with at one time or another. Especially in the communications field, if you’re already gainfully employed, you wonder how anything learned in a classroom could possibly trump real-world experience.

7ladderAnd then there’s the prospect of giving up said job to go back to school for two years, or, better yet, having to relocate to chase a master’s degree from your dream school on the other side of the country. Online education, however, has been a complete game-changer in terms of flexibility, and we’ve seen the quality of the experience elevated to meet — and in some ways exceed — the on-campus one.

I’m totally biased on this front because I work on behalf of an online program. Newhouse School recently announced a new Master of Science in Communications delivered online: Communications@Syracuse. Specializations include public relations, journalism innovation and advertising, taught in live classes by Newhouse faculty. But this post isn’t about me.

Looking Ahead

It’s a great time to be in this field — employment of PR specialists is projected to grow 12 percent through 2022 (from 2012).

And let’s face it: communications and public relations are constantly evolving. Tactics that worked for PR pros even five years ago may seem antiquated today. Attention spans are short and competition for real estate on the web and in print is more intense than ever. Creative storytelling and unique content is paramount to separating your client from its counterparts.

“It’ll be back to the future for PR in 2015,” says Ellen Ryan Mardiks, vice chairman, Golin. “As the PR business grows and expands its remit, we’ll keep doing more, better. Clients will turn to us at an even greater pace for compelling content delivered across all forms of media.”

As a modern-day professional, you want to remain grounded in the fundamentals, while also staying up-to-date with new strategies and tools. To stay competitive, in some cases, advancing your degree, online or otherwise, is the next logical step to help hone your skills and position yourself as a leader who gets results for clients. But, as Jason wrote, you have to ask yourself if continuing your education will be worth the inevitable sacrifices you’ll have to make. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, nor should it be made based on what anyone else thinks — “do it for you.” Other things to consider:

  • Accreditation: Is the institution accredited? This is something employers care about and, if it’s not, could hinder your chances to advance.
  • Credit-transfer policies: Make sure the previous credits you’ve earned and the work experiences you have are taken into consideration.
  • Faculty and student support: Are your professors invested in your success? Will you have access to the resources you need?

Bottom line: There are pros and cons of on-campus versus online — both offer a unique set of challenges. The key is to prioritize what’s important to you (staying put versus relocating, etc.) and commit to the decision 100%. Success in today’s public relations environment will require innovation, adaptability and greater accountability — it’s up to you how you get there.

Erica MossErica Moss is the community manager for Communications@Syracuse, a masters in communications online program, offered from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. In her free time, she enjoys all things pop culture and connecting with people on Twitter @ericajmoss.

Blog Series: Taking the Next Step in Your Career

Maybe you are a recent graduate and entered the workplace just months ago. Or, maybe you have been in your job for five years. Regardless, you should always be thinking of this phrase: How do I take the next step?

Complacency is never a good thing, so you should always be driving yourself to be a success. By settling, we lose the drive and the ambition to take that next step.

I’ve had a number of jobs and switched careers. All those experiences helped me launch my own business. Here are five tips that I believe can help you take your next step.

1. Keep Your Eyes Open– You never know when a great opportunity may come upon you. Never just dismiss it; think about the pros and cons. I always do a personal SWOT analysis at every opportunity.

2. Be Smart– I never would tell someone to jump to another job just for the sake of jumping. Do your research. Look at what you can offer them as much as why they can offer you.

3. Spread Your Wings– As much as you may not want to, considering a job in another city or state could be the perfect move. It offers the challenge of learning a new area and making a name for yourself. Plus, meeting new people always helps to challenge us.

4. Listen to a mentor– A trusted colleague can sometimes be the best sounding board. They can also often give terrific career and life guidance. They’ll also be blunt in their opinions, which you should listen carefully to.

5. Don’t Doubt Yourself– This sounds easy, but it isn’t always the case. You are the one that knows your skills best; believe in yourself and know that even though you may not know it all, you can still be a success.

Do you have some tips that have helped you take the next step? Let me know in the comments.

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Blog Series: Re-invent Yourself Often

In 2008, I came to the realization that public relations was changing. Facebook was just starting to make an impact; Twitter and YouTube were still fairly new. I noticed that more and more forward-thinking PR pros were adapting these social platforms into their thinking. It was going to be the future.

What was I to do though? Should I just forge ahead with the old ways or should I start integrating them into my practices? I chose the latter, thankfully. Those months of changing my ways and learning more about social media led to me re-inventing myself. It also helped me move on to a new agency job a year later. Ultimately, it was also the building block to my business, JRM Comm.

Here is what this should mean to you. While you may feel like you are good, you can always do more and be more. Every single day, you can look at ways at being better and being more than you are already.

re-invent1) Don’t fall into the comfort zone- I mentioned this in part two of my blog series. The more comfortable you get, the more we become lackadaisical. Find ways to learn something different to make yourself unique and resourceful. This will not happen in one day. Over time, your peers and co-workers will see you are the “go-to” person for new, fresh ideas.

2) Challenge your own mind- I worked in television and radio for years. I knew after a while though that it wasn’t going to give me what I ultimately wanted: Control. So, I challenged myself to do something different. Sure, many TV/radio folks transition into PR nowadays, but I still knew it was going to be a different way of life. I dove in head first and immersed myself into learning as much as I could. I wanted the challenge… and so should you.

3) Risk… understand it- By re-inventing yourself, you are taking a risk- calculated or otherwise. Understand that by trying to change-up what you’ve done for years isn’t exactly something you flip the switch on. The risk is that it may not work, but how many times did Steve Jobs try before he became successful. Believe that risk is part of your plan and you’ll have a better grip on your future.

Remember, change is good. But you have to believe it. Don’t think you can be this new, re-invented person overnight. It may take a few months or up to a year to really feel comfortable. BUT, if you believe… it WILL HAPPEN!

Three Steps for New Pros

[Jas’ note: I’m thrilled to welcome Niki Ianni, a fellow Temple University alum, to the blog with a great and timely post.]

Six months ago to the day, I put on my new Macy’s clearance rack suit, smoothed my hair, double-checked my briefcase for all the basics and took a deep breath as I walked confidently into the next phase of my life – the start of my post-graduate career.

The all-nighter study sessions, thousands of draft edits and hundreds of internship hours… everything I worked for in the past four years had finally paid off. While getting here had not been an easy feat, full of dozens of applications, gallons of coffee and the occasional mental breakdown…with hard work and determination, I secured my dream job working as a public relations specialist at the largest animal protection organization in the country.

For those who are preparing to start their careers or have already just begun, here are my three biggest pieces of advice for you that these past six months have taught me:

It takes time. You know the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Well, there’s actually a lot of truth to it. I’m not sure why I thought I could leave my first day of work knowing everything and being able to do everything – but I did. When it came time to submit my first press release to my director for review, my stomach was in knots.

I remember apologizing in the email… something along the lines of, “Here is the release for your review. I’m sorry it’s not perfect!” I’ll never forget her response: “Niki, I don’t expect it to be perfect… nothing ever is. You’re still learning.” Sometimes you just need to remember that all of your colleagues who have been there for years started off exactly where you are and eventually they grew, too… with time.

You’re going to make mistakes. Probably more than you’d like to admit. But that doesn’t make you a failure – it makes you human and it teaches you lessons you might had otherwise never learned. I’m a firm believer that it’s not the mistakes themselves, but how you handle them that really defines your character. You can cry and hope the mistake goes away, or you can take responsibility and fix it. I’ve sent out releases with a typo, or hit send too soon. I mean, in my first month I accidentally called a reporter in Seattle at 6 a.m. (I forgot about these things called time zones) and woke her up. Not my shining moment.

While I was horrified and for a few brief moments thought, “Okay…surely this is the one to ‘end’ my career,” I instead found ways to resolve each problem and instilled practices that would prevent them from ever happening again. Because that’s the thing about mistakes – it’s okay to make them occasionally, so long as you never make the same one twice.

You have a voice – don’t be afraid to use it. I’m fortunate to work with a team of highly accomplished and talented professionals who have been honing their craft for many years. So naturally it was a bit intimidating to call these people my colleagues because in comparison to their experience, I felt way out of my league. Remember you were hired for a reason. Yes, your co-workers may have been in the industry for a decade and have a great deal they can teach you, however don’t discount the skills and knowledge that you can bring to the table as well.

Sometimes it’s your lack of experience that can be your greatest asset as you’re able to bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas that may have never been considered before. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and opinions – it will only make your team that much stronger.

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can remember is to believe in yourself. Believe in your talents, your knowledge and your skills – because this opportunity didn’t just come to you; you created it. Never lose sight of that.

Niki Ianni is a recent Temple University graduate where she majored in strategic communication with a concentration in public relations. At Temple, Niki served as the former director of PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s first student-run PR firm and was an executive board member for Temple PRSSA. She now resides in the Washington, D.C. area where she works as the public relations specialist for The Humane Society of the United States.

Follow her on Twitter @NikiMIanni or read her blog at www.whenthegirlmeetsworld.wordpress.com.

Monday Minute: Teamwork

Whether you are a new pro or seasoned veteran in public relations and marketing, you know teamwork is one of the most important parts of a campaign. Today’s Monday Minute discusses this further.

What are your teamwork secrets. Let me know in the comments.

Monday Minute: Leadership

Are you a leader? There’s often the thought that just because you are in a leadership position, you must be one. I discuss leadership in today’s Minute.

What are your thoughts on leadership? Let me know in the comments.

Monday Minute: Opportunity

Are you making the most of your opportunities? Watch today’s Monday Minute for some inspiration!

What opportunities have you jumped on lately? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday Tip: Getting Ready for 2012

In today’s Tuesday Tip, I discuss how you can make 2012 even better, by learning from 2011’s successes.

How are you getting ready for 2012? Let me know in the comments.

Monday Minute: Moving Forward

At some point in our career and life, we are let go from a job. It’s disappointing, but how you move forward is most important.

Gimme a Break!

“You got me workin’… day and night.”– Michael Jackson

That’s the way I’ve felt lately. I work during the day, then come home and jump into doing my consulting work. This isn’t me complaining about work. Believe me, I love consulting and working with passionate people. It keeps the juices really flowing. But, at some point, you feel your body start to crack.

Last week, I felt that cracking. A constant negativity was overcoming me and I didn’t like it. You may know this feeling. You slouch, you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, or even worse, nothing makes you happy. What helped? It was really simple. I stepped away. No blogging, Tweeting, or scouring over white papers for insight.

Why is this important? Because, at some point, you will break if you don’t take a break. I don’t care if you have all the energy in the world, you need to relax your mind and body. You can’t be running on Red Bull and Starbucks all the time.

So, whether you are a parent or a new pro fresh out of college, find the time to recharge and refresh. Here’s some ways you can “reboot.”

-Music: Load up your iPod and just lose yourself in some great tunes. You’d be surprised just how invigorating music can be.

-Curl up to a good book- Whether you are old school (hard copy) or new school (e-reader), take an hour (or more) and read that book you’ve been putting off since last Christmas.

-Travel to a winery- How can this be relaxing? A wine tasting is the perfect place to let your senses do the work. Plus, a good tasting wine can spur on a good time. Don’t like wine? Hit up a local brewery.

-Shut down the social- Don’t check in on Foursquare, post on Twitter or Facebook, or even touch your blog. You’d be amazed just how much you’ll appreciate the social shut down.

What do you do to recharge the batteries? Share your ideas in the comments section!