Friday, October 24, 2014

Should We Take the "Internal" out of Internal Communications?

This post originally appeared in Spin Sucks. It is reprinted here to stimulate thought among those in the hunt for a PR post.


“Internal communications” is an anachronism. 

Born from the recognition that employees were becoming a critical constituency, companies at the turn of the century began establishing internal communications departments to develop employee morale.

According to one historical source, internal communications was a mechanism to help employees understand a company’s mission and instill a sense of pride in the organization.
The method of implementation varied, of course, depending upon politics and the persuasion of the CEO in command.

Sometimes it resided with “human resources,” or more affectionately, “employee relations,” and often it was located in legal or corporate communications.

In this pro’s experience, corporate communications was always the best department for handling specialized employee or internal communications, because nothing succeeds like consistency.

Should We Let Go Of Internal Communications?

These days, however, it seems to be a hodgepodge of organizational dysfunction and redundancy.

How well the function operates depends on which way the winds are blowing, who’s in charge, and what are the priorities and politics of the boss.

Taking a page from Richard Edelman’s manifesto that “Communications Marketing” is the next wave, maybe it’s time to let go of “internal” and “employee” as modifiers of communications to employees and simply designate the umbrella term of “communications.”

Here are some reasons why.

Information in this Century is Realtime, Ubiquitous, and Instantaneous

There is no need to isolate and insulate.

Because of the speed of information, people have many channels and avenues to get information when it transpires.

It is best given directly from the source to those for which it is most critical when it happens.

Employees are Stakeholders

Employees can influence the movement of shares as much as they can sway the effect on customers.

They are the front line and should be treated and honored as other constituents.

Employees are Adults

Employees are educated, intelligent, and decision makers.

They are not to be coddled, cuddled, or conscripted.

Employees are Equal

They are as significant as stockholders, media, analysts, government officials, and executives, to name a few.

Their stature is no less than any other constituent.

They have a stake and can use it responsibly.


Employees are No Longer Mushrooms

No doubt you understand the comparison.

That said, the sunlight of full disclosure is the best disinfectant.

If the employee is trustworthy enough to hire, treat them as you would other favored constituents.


Employees Know More than You Think

Even without your formal communications strategy.

Given all the facts, employees will surprise you every time with their information, insight, innovation, and intuition.

This is even more evident in many of the start-ups emanating from the innovation capitals around the globe.

Many times the front line is where the magic happens, so open the floodgates and convey ownership and dialogue equally to all constituents.

So, is it really about “internal” communications anymore?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Looking for your dream PR job? Five ways to become the right candidate today.


Everyone dreams of that PR job - The One. Just imagine taking an elevator to your office where you fully immerse yourself in the brands, products or services you personally believe in. It doesn’t get any better than that.  But how do you work on getting there? Not only will the right preparation help you land the right job, you’ll also discover what that dream job truly is. 

After I finished my BA in Public Relations, I was sure I would work at a public relations agency.  That’s exactly what I did, but I soon realized that agency life just wasn’t for me. There were many other opportunities I hadn’t even considered because I was set on agency from the start. I finally found my fit as manager of the University Program at Cision, where I now help students uncover what they love most about PR.

Here are five ways you can start to prepare for your dream PR job:

1. Create an ePortfolio. 

Scrambling to assemble a perfect portfolio the night before an interview is the last thing you’ll want to do, not to mention juggling the demands of your current job.  Make sure your best work is within arm’s reach, so you can focus your pre-interview prep on learning more about the industry, the organization and the interviewer you will need to know about tomorrow.  

About.me is a non-traditional take on a bio. Platforms like Wordpress and Wix (which I use personally) also provide turnkey site templates where you can share portfolio items.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile - often.  


A burst of activity on your LinkedIn page shouldn’t send your current colleagues into a tailspin wondering why you’re suddenly “linking in” so much. Maintain a consistent presence on the site; doing so will not only increase the likelihood of showing up in the right person’s feed, but also shows how much you’re continuing to develop yourself professionally. And especially if you’re in – or think you’ll be in – the job market soon, don’t forget to ensure your profile is accessible.


3. Keep up with your network. 

Engaging with others in the industry is the best way to stay on top of trends. This isn’t about having three references “on request,” but about knowing what skills you’ll need to add value years from now.  

If creating a network from scratch is intimidating, start small. Attend alumni events where you can connect with peers, as well as more seasoned alums. Industry organizations like PRSA regularly host events where you can meet peers, potential mentors and future employers.

Many professionals forget that networking is about maintaining the relationships you already have. You wouldn’t want someone to reach out to you only on occasions when they need a favor, so don’t be that person yourself. Remember to drop a note to say hello, ask about their current work or find opportunities to simply shoot the breeze. If you stay plugged in to your network, when an opportunity comes up, you will be top-of-mind.

4. Challenge yourself to develop expertise. 

Ongoing professional development is vital to excelling in the field.  Look for avenues to enhance your expertise.  For example, Cision offers free CisionPoint access to universities. As a result, grads say their employers are impressed when they hit the ground running. But this isn’t so much about learning to use a tool of the trade – which is always good – but the demonstrated interest and commitment to PR as a practice. 

This applies no matter where you are in your career. You could be getting your accreditation (APR,) launching your organization’s first measurement dashboard or live-tweeting every free webinar you come across. There’s got to be something about your current job that you absolutely love, so dive right into it. 

Dedication to being personally exceptional in the industry makes a difference to future employers. 

5. Test the waters


If you’re looking for another job while employed, take advantage of your situation to develop new skills. If your current role is too prescriptive, branch out of your comfort zone and simply ask for different tasks. It’s the best way to enhance your skills and open new doors.

If you’re not given new or exciting projects, create something for yourself that will impress. That’s how Cision’s University Program came to be.  Hard work and extra hours created a brand new program that now introduces newcomers to public relations to one of the industry’s most widely-used and popular platforms (granted, I’m biased!), and an essential skillset. 

Taking the initiative on new projects proves to a future employer that you’re innovative and, most importantly, that you’re a self-starter. 

Even if you love your job, it’s worth starting to develop these habits. Consider what you hear again and again when you ask someone how they landed their current job – it happened before they knew it, when they weren’t even looking, when they least expected it. (And that’s no surprise - no one wants to leave a position after it has been “a long time coming!”)

If you love what you do, success and opportunities will follow. And, if you keep acquiring more and more experience along the way, before you know it, your dream job will have found you.

By Sonal Moraes, Product Specialist at Cision and manager of Cision’s University Program


Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Reach Career Resonance: Purpose, Passion and Persistence

Career resonance in my view is a state of existence where you are happy, healthy, balanced, busy and emboldened.  Your life is self-fulfilling because all aspects are generally working together to make you high performing and personally and professionally satisfied with your career and life.  In my coaching practice I see this phenomena from time to time.  To me this is the ultimate state of being and where the rubber meets the road.  It is not to say that it is nirvana but with purpose, passion and persistence you can thrive in a manner that feeds your performance and success.   One such example is my friend Kim Bardakian, who I have known for a number of years in San Francisco PR circles.  Kim epitomizes the outcome of “purpose, passion and persistence.” 

I asked Kim a few career questions to illustrate my thinking.  Take a read.

How did you land your current role as the Director of PR & Partnerships for Visit Oakland?

I was working as a PR and event consultant in Oakland and my contract was coming to an end. I put out an email to my network about potential new opportunities and received a response from someone at Visit Oakland who I had known in the community. She told me about a new position that was opening up and encouraged me to apply. Ironically, the job I applied for was different from my current role. After the initial interview, my boss created my role which plays directly to my strengths—media and relationships. So when people tell me, "Kim, this job was made just for you!" Well, it kind of was!

How did your career lead to your current role?

My career has always centered around PR, event planning and marketing. I began my career at Sony PlayStation, when the company was not even a year old. Our team helped build it to an internationally recognized brand in just a few years. It was hands down the best first job out of college! From there my PR career took off in a variety of industries, including apparel, technology, spas and even a stint at the Catholic Church. Now if you can promote the Catholic Church, you can promote anything!


How much work did you invest to get to your current position?

With my current job, I feel like it's the ultimate culmination of all of my previous experience, combined with the diverse people I have met along the way. Having lots of different experiences have help me excel in my current role since I have long standing relationships in a wide variety of industries. Best advice: never burn bridges, you never know when they come back around.


What characteristics drive your passion?


Passion can't be taught. It's in you or it's not. You feel it or you don't. Fortunately, with this position at Visit Oakland, it's innate to me. I'm often told my passion comes through when I talk about Oakland-- to press, friends or basically anyone who will listen. I love my job and the ability to promote all the positive aspects of Oakland. I get to share what you might not know about the city from things to do, new restaurants to try to where to check out the best views!

What advice would you give people aspiring to land a role that satisfies their career?

As cliché as it sounds, find an industry that you love. Or a product that excites you. Once you delve into that world, you will be inspired to learn more, engage more and simply do better. It's imperative to also network within the industry you want to work in. Join a board or committee to meet the leaders and decision makers. Roll up your sleeves and get involved. Arrange for informational interviews with people you admire and or just want to learn more about their role. Ask questions. And always be ready to help others and make introductions to those who need it. You never know when they come back around later in your career. 


Kim is the Director of PR and Partnerships for VisitOakland, the tourism bureau for the city. She uses her experience, network and passion in her current role to help promote the destination to the media and generate partnerships throughout Oakland.  

Previously, Kim worked in-house with a number of growing consumer technology companies including Pandora and has agency experience with OutCast where she developed PR programs and events with Fortune 500 companies including Amazon, Dell and Yahoo! Kim began her career at Sony PlayStation where she founded and implemented the highly successful product placement program.  

Kim currently serves as a Board Member for PRSA San Francisco Chapter and involved in a variety of other PR and media organizations. A native New Yorker, she holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.  She proudly resides in Oakland, CA where she is an avid tennis player.




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How to Work Well With Others in the Workplace

From time to time the PR Job Coach invites guest posts from colleagues on related career management topics.  This guest post come from Tori R. Terhune and Betsy A. Hays, APR, Fellow PRSA, authors of the new book, “Life After College: 10 Steps to Build a Life You Love,”  Read it and leap!


As a young professional in the workplace, it can be difficult to know how best to deal with all the different personalities surrounding you. You’ve probably had plenty of experience with group projects and challenging professors, but at the end of the semester you get to leave, and – sometimes – never work with those people again. But in the working world, teams usually aren’t temporary.

So how do you best work with others and put your best foot forward? In Life After College: 10 Steps to Build a Life You Love, we outline many ways to work well with others in the workplace, and we wanted to share a few with you here.

Watch how you communicate: How you say something is just as important as what you say. Pay attention to your body language and tone when you speak with others to make your meaning and sentiment clear. And be careful when using written communication – nonverbal communication (a smile, wink or chuckle), isn’t easily transferrable into the written word, so you want to be sure they don’t misinterpret your words.

Under promise and over deliver: This is a fantastic rule of thumb in the workplace, as you never want to be the person who is behind deadline. You want to be ahead of your deadline with extra projects completed to beef up the overall product! For example, say you will complete A, B and C, and then work hard to make progress on D. When you are actually able to complete everything, you’ll look like a hero!

Be kind and positive: People love happy people, and when you are nice to others, they will want to be around you even more! This can do a lot for your career, as these folks will want to collaborate on projects with you and champion you to others in your company. Make it a priority to give a compliment or two daily, and you will influence others to help you on your path to your goals.

Don’t worry about credit or affirmation: While you are making the effort to compliment and affirm others, you may not receive the same courtesy. Do your best because you want to produce excellent work, not because you are looking for credit. If you constantly expect validation (which you may not receive), you will stress yourself out looking for value from others. Be secure in yourself and your abilities, and thrive off the few compliments and kudos you do receive.

With these few tips, you will be on your way toward working with others successfully! For more tips on managing your workplace, and many other strategies to thriving in post college life, pick up a copy of Life After College: 10 Steps to Build a Life You Love. If you have more tips to share, or if any of these have worked for you, let us know in the comments below!

Author bios:

Tori Randolph Terhune is an award-winning author, speaker, coach and public relations and social media professional. She is CEO of Brand Chicks (www.BrandChicks.com), an online branding consulting firm, and her experience varies from career coaching for recent college graduates to website and social media search engine optimization practices. She is a popular speaker to college groups and women’s conferences, as well as serving as a guest lecturer for many college courses over the last five years. She was recognized as the Outstanding PR Graduate by Fresno State in 2009 and as Rookie of the Year by PRSA Central California in 2008. You can reach Tori on Twitter @ToriRTerhune.

Betsy A. Hays, APR, Fellow PRSA, is an author, keynote speaker, and workshop presenter whose topics include personal and professional success, public relations excellence, effective communication, and landing your dream career. She is also the lead Public Relations Professor for the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at California State University, Fresno -- a post she has held since 1999. Betsy is the faculty adviser for the Public Relations Student Society of America and Fresno State's student-run PR firm, Talk. Active in the PR world’s premiere professional organization (Public Relations Society of America) since 1998, she is currently the president-elect for the North Pacific District. You can reach Betsy at www.BetsyHaysPR.com or @BetsyHays (Twitter). 


Tori and Betsy's first book, “Land Your Dream Career: 11 Steps to Take in College," (http://amzn.to/1f7UPsF)  was listed in the American Library Association's Bests of 2013. Their second book, "Life After College: 10 Steps to Build A Life You Love" (http://amzn.to/1f7UV3L) was published in early May 2014. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Great questions can prompt great insight – What should you ask?

More often than not how you convey your value and abilities can determine whether you end up at the top of the consideration set of a job interview.  If you are prepared, can tell compelling stories of your career and chemically connect with the hiring managers, more than likely you have struck a resonant tone for a positive outcome.  



To cement that connection and fully bond with your job suitor, what you ask can also contribute greatly to the interview and a positive reaction to your candidacy.  One of the many young brilliant folks with whom I have connected, Ethan Wilson, has done some great due diligence and come up with a list of questions that are both smart and savvy.  Often what you ask can directly communicate to the hiring executives what are your critical thinking skills, how you strategize about issues and what are your interests and passions.

Bottom line is the quality of the questions asked may make the difference in whether you get an offer.  And what is learned from the answers will also give you great clues to whether it is a good fit.  So consider these:

  • What is an example of a client challenge you have recently faced? 
 
  • Where do you see the company going in the next year? 10 years?
 
  • Can I watch the other departments work so I can get a sense of their needs?
 
  • What is the question you really want to ask me but haven't?
 
  • What impact would I have on the team if I get hired?
 
  • Looking at your social media presence, I can see that your brands have been more active over the past few months. Has your strategy changed?
 
  • What would make someone really successful in this role?
 
  • What has been the most difficult part of filling this position?
 
  • Can you describe a typical day in this type of role?

 
  • How long have you been at the company and what makes you stay?
 
  • How would you describe the work environment and corporate culture?
 
  • What are some of the goals for the company in the short and longer term?
 
  • How would my performance be measured?
 
  • What types of career opportunities may open up down the road for a person starting out in this type of position, assuming they perform well?
 
  • What are some of the company's initiatives regarding learning and development?


Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Evaluate Multiple Job Offers

If you are one of the fortunate few to begin benefitting from the slow-going jobs recovery you are in an enviable position.  Furthermore, if the offers number more than one you truly are in an exceptional position and can count your lucky stars for your luck, diligence, experience and brilliance.  In a recent New York Times editorial, Thomas Friedman opines about the factors necessary to get a job at Google.  Casting aside the importance of GPA and test scores, Mr. Friedman’s piece cites leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and a love of learning or relearning as critical metrics to assess success.  These same attributes likely are the factors that can help you evaluate multiple job offers. 


Here is how it might work.  First, employing your skills at Excel, create a spreadsheet that gives you a quick assessment table to compare and contrast the offers.  On one axis, list the offers that you have received whether it be one or many.  On the other axis, list the factors of leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and a love of learning.  You might want to also include other elements that are important to you in a job such as ethical behavior, salary, perks, health care coverage, 401K, free lunch, Friday beer bashes, free donuts in the morning, etc.  You get the idea.  Assign a point system to each of the cells and rank them based on fit and preference.  Once you have assembled your spreadsheet, evaluate each job offer based on the total points and see how each stacks up. 

For the first five factors I mentioned above, let me elaborate on what to consider and to pose questions you should ask of yourself..

Leadership.  Does the new position give you the latitude to both lead and learn new leadership skills?  Is the company itself a leader? Have the people with whom you interviewed demonstrated leadership to you.  Is your potential boss a leader and have you seen evidence of such skill?  You may want to scour the Internet, including Google to look for signs and validation. 

Humility. Does your moral compass resonate with that of the potential employer? Does the company seem to have the intellectual fabric to both learn from you and teach you new tricks?  Do you believe you are open to be accepting of new ideas and the means of accomplishing what you are being hired to do?  Do you have an ego that can be left at the door in the morning?  At the same time, have those with whom you interviewed struck you as being open and accepting?  Have they demonstrated an equal measure of humility and ownership?

Collaboration. Do you have the courage and mentality to team play?  Are you able to join forces with others in pooling your intellectual talents and creative ideas based on your experience.  Has the company and those with whom you interviewed demonstrated mutual commitment to both cooperative and collaborate through their word and/or actions in the marketplace?  Do you get a sense of team from your interview experience and from what others outside the organization say or write? 


Adaptability.  Does the company demonstrate operational flexibility?  Do they conduct their business with flexibility in both ideology and action?  What do their customers say about them both privately and publicly?  What is the company’s track record in the industry.  Has its record over the years demonstrated its ability to adapt to change.  There are many examples of firms able to adapt such as IBM, 3M, P&G and Google.   There is also an equal number of firms who have not. 

Learning.  How is your learning curve and thirst for new knowledge?  Do you sense that the role to which you have been offered includes a road map of learning at the firm?  Does the culture encourage expanding the employee knowledge and skills?  Does the company have a training department?  Does the company sponsor post college education?  Does it boast a high number of degreed employees and does it have ongoing relationships with academic institutions? 


While these are not the only metrics to evaluate job offers, they do represent an important basis to compare and contrast the characteristics that will lead to a good decision and selection. As you evaluate the offers based on the criteria, consider also your passions, interests and abilities.  Assess each position based on the characteristics spelled out in the spreadsheet.  Rate each one and when you have completed the exercise, tally the results.  In the outcome is your answer. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Career Lessons from Bridgegate: Don’t be a Savior or a Martyr

Time and again we are witness to crises of major proportion that often are unbelievable and defy a thinking person's logic. Bridgegate is one such example. How on heaven's green earth would anybody with an ounce of intelligence think that they could get away with creating a traffic jam on a major artery between New York and New Jersey and not get caught.  Moreover how could a senior executive in government service on the scale of New Jersey be so dumb as to think this was a good move for the Governor. Retribution, I suggest, is a dangerous playmate.

The career lessons learned from this debacle are rich, robust and many.  Here are just a few.  

 
Don’t be a savior or a martyr.  Be loyal but not stupid. Always have the boss' back but not at the expense of your moral compass and personal integrity.  Before you sacrifice yourself or try to save the day, let your conscious be your guide.  The life you save may be your own. 
 
Ethics rules.  Personal ethics matter. Ethical behavior is de rigueur for any career and critical to career survival and growth.   At the end of the day, all you have is your credibility.  Stay honest.


Play fair. Politics in the office can never end well. It is poison in the workplace and will never help you get ahead. Instead as we know from bridgegate you will very likely lose your head.
 

Retribution is a dangerous game. It never ends well and almost always comes back like a bad penny, harming the originator.  Your career and good reputation are not worth the risk.  If you have a beef, state it, discuss the dynamics, generate a solution and get past it.
 

Fess up. If you crossed the line in the sand on ethics or even made a mild faux pas, admit, apologize, fix and move on, all the wiser.
 

Run a tight ship. Manage your career well and with rigor. Follow your moral compass and always do the right thing. Be honest and open. One of the side benefits is you need never stretch the truth or orchestrate highway havoc.
 

Learn the lessons of history.  How many examples does the world need to benefit from faux pas of the past?  The books are littered with example after example of screw ups, indiscretions, bad behavior and man’s inhumanity to man.  Let’s start benefitting from lessons learned people.