10 things clients get wrong about the media

By: Bruce Serbin                           This original post can be found here

 

I’ve been infuriated lately.

I’m sick and tired of all the bad ideas and strategies I’ve heard from some of my clients and the clients of fellow publicists. I figured I would redirect my frustration by sharing with you the top 10 things anyone working with a publicist needs to understand.

Yes, I’m being blunt, but I’m doing it with the best intentions to keep you from making stupid mistakes that will cost you interviews or, worse, your credibility.

1. No, we can’t ask for the questions ahead of time. 

I will never, ever, ever ask a reporter or TV producer for the questions they plan on asking in your interview ahead of time. So don’t ask me. It will make you and me both look like idiots. If you want to completely undermine your expert status and credibility, go ahead and ask for the questions yourself. You’re supposed to be the authority on your topic, and that’s why the media is talking to you. They expect you to be able to handle anything they throw at you. Asking for the questions tells them otherwise. While we’re at it, no, I also won’t annoy the busy reporter by asking when the story will run. Of course I’ll be happy to check in with him or her after some time has passed.

2. You’re probably not going to get on the “Today” show, so stop asking. 

It’s still laughable to me whenever a client asks, “When will you get me on the ‘Today’ show?” The reality: If you and your topic are a good fit for “Today,” know that I am pitching “Today” and other similar shows. Also realize that just because I have put other people on “Today” and similar national TV shows, that doesn’t mean I can automatically place you there. Yes, my relationships and credibility with producers will help somewhat, but only to a point. The competition is extremely fierce at that level, and although breaking in is possible, it won’t happen for some people.

3. Stop telling me you don’t care about local TV. 

If you don’t care about local TV and are interested only in national TV, you’re an idiot. If I hook a national TV producer on the idea of having you as a guest, the first question he or she will ask me is, “Does this person have any other television experience?” Local TV helps lead to national TV, plus it’s still major credibility in its own right. When someone looks you up on the Internet, what do you want them to see: only things you’ve written or produced about yourself, or credible TV interviews with you, even if they are on local TV?

4. You’re probably not going to sell a lot of books. 

Unless you name is John Grisham or James Patterson, don’t expect to sell a lot of books from appearing in the media, and don’t ask me how many books you’re going to sell. You might sell millions. You might sell none. The one thing I’ve learned about forecasting book sales is that there is no good way to forecast book sales. Being in the media is about building credibility through a third-party implied endorsement, not about selling books. It’s about leveraging your media coverage to help build multiple income streams. Your book might turn out to be one of those streams, but it is more likely to help you earn other income than to be a major profit center in its own right.

5. This isn’t a short-term strategy. 

People call my office and say, “Can I hire you for a month?” The answer is no, because you can’t do this for one month and expect to get big-time results. If you want to hire someone for a month, hire someone else who is happy to take your money and doesn’t care about disappointing you and undermining their own reputation. Publicity is a long-term strategy that takes time and the ability to develop new story angles and play off current events. Those events will happen, but they might not coincidentally happen during the first few weeks. Just as you might advertise for the life of your business, publicity should be approached the same way to continue to build your credibility.

6. Your product, book, or service isn’t going to change the world. 

I believe in my clients and their messages. I really do. Otherwise I wouldn’t be representing them. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “The media is going to eat this up! This is really going to change lives! It’s a ‘game changer’!” I believe in you, but I hear it every day. Take a step back, and understand that the competition for precious minutes of TV time or inches of print is fierce. Although you probably have a very good idea, it’s not the only one out there, and just because you and I think it’s good, you can’t expect every media outlet to agree.

7. Stop wasting your time with expensive press releases. 

You don’t need a publicist to write a press release and distribute it through a service such as PR Newswire or BusinessWire. You can do that yourself. Most press releases are self-serving and contain no news value. If you still want to pay these companies a lot of money to have your release lost in a sea of press releases so nothing much comes of it, I’m happy to help. I just think there are better ways for you to spend your money.

8. Excuse me for trying to make you interesting. 

Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. You might be the expert of all experts in your field, but if you’re boring, nobody is going to care. My favorite example of what I’m saying is my client Steve Siebold’s book, “Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People.” His premise: If you’re fat, it’s your fault. That one phrase has resonated on television show after television show all over the world. Of course, he also has plenty of useful but more mundane advice like “eat better and exercise more.” But if he led with that, do you think he would have been featured all over the world? Nope. Spice it up!

9. Lack of results isn’t always the publicist’s fault. 

With anyone I work with, have previously worked with or will one day work with, I give it my all, 100 percent dedication and commitment to doing the best I can. But after all, I’m selling you and your message. I’ve worked with really strong messages and others that aren’t as solid. If you’re not getting the media coverage you believe you’re entitled to, don’t always blame your publicist, but instead take a look at the goods you’re bringing to the table. Not all clients are created equal. Having said that, though, I won’t take a client whose message I don’t think I can sell.

10. I don’t care what your branding strategist or social media team is doing. 

Many of my clients and the clients of other publicists have independent branding consultants, advertising teams, internal marketing people, and social media teams they work with as well. Though I’m always happy to jump on a call with them or hear what they’re up to, it’s usually a big waste of time and doesn’t concern me. I don’t care how many Facebook and Twitter messages your social media team is putting out; I care only about generating a lot of media coverage for you to help you build a massive amount of credibility that you can leverage forever.

Bruce Serbin is president and CEO of Serbin Media, Inc. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press, League of American Communications Professionals and the Public Relations Society of America.

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15 tips for a successful PR career

By Dave Fleet – Post can be found here

 

 

 

 

One of the things I enjoy most nowadays is having the opportunity to speak to the future leaders of the PR profession when they’re starting out. I often get asked: “What tips would you offer to get ahead in this field?”

 

Now that summer is upon us and students are turning their minds to life after school, I thought it might be timely to offer some advice here.

Here are 15 top tips for success in a public relations career. Funnily enough, I’d give the same advice to someone 10 years into their career, like me:

1. Be a sponge.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it made the PR pro. Whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve been in the business for years, it’s incumbent upon you to constantly learn in order to stay on top of our industry. Never stop being curious.

 

2. Stay on top of the news.

Make time to stay on top of current events. Read a newspaper (online or offline). Set up news alerts for your company and/or your clients. Listen to the radio or to podcasts about industry news. Watch the news in the morning. Whatever approach you choose, it will make you more interesting and it will make you better at your job. Consider it an investment.

3. Focus on details.

Nothing hurts the credibility of a pitch, a proposal, or a program like sloppy mistakes. Meanwhile, people who become known for outrageous attention to detail become go-to people in a team. Be that person. Read and re-read your work. Be your own devil’s advocate in order to think things through and make sure you’ve covered all the angles. Double-check your calculations. Question your assumptions.

4. Learn to juggle.

This one applies especially to agency folks, but it goes across the board. Learn how to prioritize, how to focus when you need to, and how to manage your time. Life in PR is a juggling act, and you need to know how to manage your workload and the expectations of your clients—however you define them.

5. Learn to write.

Take the time to learn how to write well. Practice. Learn from others. Take a course if you need to. (I recommend the eight-step editing course by the Editors’ Association of Canada, but there are many others.)

Crucial for many new graduates, you may need to unlearn what your professors taught you in university. Short paragraphs, short sentences, and clear language help you to convey your point much more easily than the opposite.

Oh, and if you could put “by zombies” at the end of a phrase, it’s passive. Keep your voice active.

6. Embrace numbers.

Measurement has been a weak point in the PR profession for a long time. Nowadays, companies demand more. This is especially the case for social media and paid media programs. The days of output-focused measurement are numbered, and outcome-focused measurement is on the rise. You don’t need to be an expert in dissecting website traffic (especially if you have a measurement team supporting you), but you should know the basics and know how to coach clients and people within your organization on how to approach measurement effectively.

7. Measure through the life cycle.

Measurement is so much more than reporting, and companies are demanding more from PR measurement nowadays. Know how to take full advantage of the potential that measurement holds throughout a program:

  • Inform your objectives (setting realistic goals, fueled by insights from past programs);
  • Fuel your planning (again, with insights from past work);
  • Identify and help to address issues mid-flight;
  • Measure results and generate new insights to fuel future work.

[Check out more on this in my recent presentation on Social Media at Scale that I gave at PodCamp Toronto.]

8. Provide solutions.

Tough challenges are a fact of life in the PR industry, where the role of communications is often to help to change behavior or perception. That’s difficult. Few things will endear you to your boss more than this: Become the person who comes forward with solutions alongside their problems. It doesn’t have to be the solution they choose (that helps, though), but the fact that you’re thinking it through and considering solutions demonstrates the kind of mindset that managers adore.

9. Learn to stay level-headed.

PR pros frequently have to deal with difficult situations, many of which can’t be predicted. These are moments where you can distinguish yourself and improve your reputation, or the reverse. Be one of those people who keep a cool head. Stay calm, and focus on solutions (per the earlier point). Remember: frantic doesn’t mean effective.

10. Know what you don’t know.

Self-awareness is a valuable trait, regardless of where you are in your career. Be humble enough to know when you’re out of your depth, and to learn from those who have experience in areas you don’t. Make sure that when you find yourself in that situation you don’t sit paralyzed until it’s too late for anyone to help you.

Bonus points for thinking things through ahead of time and coming prepared with a suggestion: “I’m not sure of the best approach here… here’s what I’m thinking… what do you think?”

11. Learn the difference between objectives, strategy, and tactics.

Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing people confuse objectives, strategy, and tactics with each other.

Simply put:

  • Objectives are what you need to accomplish. They should relate to business goals.
  • Strategies are how you plan to accomplish them. They should drive toward the objectives.
  • Tactics are the actions you take. They should funnel up to the strategy.

Learn it. Preach it.

[Read more on how to set better objectives or download my ebook on communications planning for more pointers.]

12. Become a trusted advisor.

Whether you’re dealing with executives in your company, or with clients at other firms, strive to become a trusted advisor to them. Go beyond what you “have” to do and become a partner. Flag opportunities and threats. Offer strategic opinions. Learn to empathize with them. Have difficult conversations when you need to. Push them to take the right approach (but know when to accept their decision).

Don’t just take orders.

13. Learn from your mistakes.

Accept that you’ll make mistakes. We all make them, and they’re a key piece of how we learn and improve. If you don’t make mistakes, then you’re not trying hard enough or not trying enough things. The key is to make them at the right time, in the right setting, and to learn from them. Conversely, people who constantly shirk responsibility for mistakes, or make excuses, will never learn.

Some of my most valuable lessons, and most beneficial experiences, have come from making mistakes. They weren’t pleasant at the time, but I learned from them and I’m better for it. What’s important is owning them and figuring out what to do differently next time.

14. Think outside your bubble.

It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day routine. Instead, look around and proactively identify ways to expand your expertise. That could be by finding new ways to get better at tasks, or by getting involved in a project that stretches you, or by learning more about a relevant field.

15. Understand converged media.

This point began life as “understand social media,” but nowadays it’s broader than that. Start with understanding social media-monitor and participate in relevant conversations; think about how your programs might play out in social channels, and so on. Social media is just the beginning now, though. The key nowadays is understanding how earned, owned, and paid media play together. You don’t need to be an expert in all of them, but you do need to understand how to leverage them.

There you have it-15 tips for success in PR. What would you add to the list?

A version of this article originally appeared on DaveFleet.com.

A PR fee for your thoughts?

By Donn Pearlman This post can originally be found here

Airlines, banks, and even Las Vegas hotels are all pounding the public with various fees for services that used to be free. Perhaps the public relations profession should consider adding surcharges, too.

Many hotels in Vegas tack on so-called “resort fees,” so I think the PR profession should have “last resort fees” to compensate for wasted time and tears of frustration.

Here are four you might consider:

We’ll have to chase our money fee: Automatically add 20 to 30 percent to the invoices of clients who you suspect will delay payments for 90 days or more. This fee is on top of any lawyer fees or court costs if you have to sue to collect money owed.

Unrealistic expectations fees (part I): An additional 10 to 20 percent will be tacked on to each month’s invoice for every three times you have to tell the client their routine, 300-word “new hire” news release is not going to be on the front page of The New York Times nor attract 10,000 followers on Twitter.

Unrealistic expectations fees (part II): A flat fee of $500 will be added to the invoice in any month during which you have to yet again explain the meaning of an editor’s prerogative to edit and the differences between a news story based on a press release and an actual paid advertisement for which the text you submitted is used verbatim. This usually occurs when the client again asks, “How come the (name of news organization) didn’t print the news release exactly as we wrote it?”

General aggravation fee: A 30 to 50 percent surcharge will be added to the invoices of clients who incessantly call, email, or text every 15 minutes to find out what’s happening with their project and argue each time that their cousin “who used to be in PR [in the 1970s] doesn’t think you’re doing it right.”

Donn Pearlman is an award-winning former Chicago broadcaster and journalist and is president ofDonn Pearlman & Associates Public Relations in Las Vegas. He says he has not charged any of the above fees—yet.

The Most Influential Personal Style Bloggers Right Now

This blog can be originally found here

By: Lauren Sherman

Some say the age of the personal style blogger is over.

Today, the girl needs more than an outfit, a boyfriend, and a camera. Bloggers need to think about production quality, editorial strategy, and affiliate programs to really gain a foothold on the web. They are more like editors, creating publications worthy of a million-person audience than a few thousand super-fans.

Yet it still comes down to that camera. Nine times out of 10, the bloggers who move merchandise, who get people talking, who attract repeat advertisers, love to strike a pose.

So we say the personal style blogger isn’t going anywhere—-in fact, she’s more powerful than ever.

Fashionista’s list of the most influential personal style bloggers was determined by a strict methodology: We factored in Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr followers, monthly pageviews, press mentions, affiliate marketing successes, and industry sentiment. (Affiliate marketing, in this case, means the act of using trackable links to get a commission on products sold because you wrote about a product/linked to them. There are a lot of affiliate marketing programs: The most popular include Reward Style, Skimlinks and ShopStyle.)

To ensure the numbers we crunched were accurate, we worked with individual bloggers, affiliate marketers and Fohr Card, the new database for brands to access legit stats and information on thousands of bloggers.

We also took into consideration audience feedback about 2010′s list. You’ll notice that this group is tighter—any site arguably more about lifestyle than fashion or beauty was eliminated.

Like any list you read on the internet, our ranking is up for debate. And we encourage it! Let us know what you think. And feel free to Tweet me if you have any more questions about the methodology.

Click here to see who made it http://fashionista.com/2013/01/influential-fashion-style-bloggers-2013/2/

Lies Samantha Jones Told Me

This post can originally be found here

I have a bone to pick with Samantha Jones of Samantha Jones PR.

If we’re to believe this conniving liar [which, sadly, a lot of wide-eyed young publicists and publicists-to-be do], publicists are nothing more than glorified socialites, flitting from red carpet appearances to restaurant openings to the front row of New York Fashion Week.

This is why Samantha Jones is a liar:

Publicists do not get to have this much fun.

Samantha Jones Miley Cyrus

Public relations executives function almost entirely behind the scenes. If you think you’ll get to actually enjoy events you put together, you’ve got another thing coming. A publicist will be found in the background of a photo of an event, likely frantically trying to network with all the key media attendees in the room or scowling at a waiter for not being attentive enough to guests. Remember that time Samantha left her own restaurant opening event before it was over? Yeah. Not so much.

What the hell is with her schedule?

Film title: Sex and the City: The Movie

This is an overall problem with the Sex & the City story lines, but you will not find a publicist who has as much free time as Samantha. Lunch is eaten at your desk. Sometimes dinner, too. Sometimes on weekends.

About all that money…

Samantha Jones Money

Seriously, WHERE does this bitch get all her cash? Granted, an owner of a successful PR firm can make a lot of dough, she apparently has no employees, intermittent [and not that well-known] clients and doesn’t work realistic PR hours. Not exactly the recipe for her success.

This office [overlooking Times Square]:

Samantha Jones Office 1Nope. Just nope.

But, whatever. Work hard, play hard. You can pretend you’re this fabulous.

Samantha Jones gif

The best—and worst—times to post to social media

By Kristin Piombino- This post can be found here

t’s the million-dollar question for social media managers everywhere: What is the best time to post to social media?

 

While the optimal time to update your Facebook page or Pinterest boards may vary depending on your audience, Social Caffeine created an infographic that lists, in general, the best and worst times to post to the major social networks.

[RELATED: Master the can’t-ignore social media tools after Mark Ragan’s one day social media boot camp.]

Here’s a look at three of them:

Facebook: Traffic is highest between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET.

Best time: Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET

Worst time: 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. ET

Pinterest: Saturday morning is the best time to post.

Best time: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET or 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET

Worst time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET

LinkedIn: Post before or after business hours.

Best time: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET or 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET

Worst time: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. ET

Check out the full graphic for more:

Kristin Piombino is an editorial assistant for Ragan.com.

Should PR pros get accredited?

By Matt Wilson| This post can be found here

 

Of the Public Relations Society of America’s 21,000-plus members, only about 3,800, or 18 percent, hold the organization’s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) certification. The number of professionals seeking the accreditation is on the decline, too, according to PRWeek.

That’s likely why the PRSA is re-examining the APR. In a Monday night email to members, Mickey G. Nall, chairman and CEO of PRSA for 2013, announced plans to work with a consulting firm and the Universal Accreditation Board to “enhance the profile and prestige of the APR credential” for the 50th anniversary of the credential next year.

“Rest assured, abandoning accreditation is not an option that PRSA is considering,” he added.

Yet plenty of PR pros have clearly decided accreditation isn’t something they need. To find out why—and whether they’re mistaken in that assumption—PR Daily talked to a handful of accredited and non-accredited PR professionals.

The reasons why 

Brian Lee, president of Revelation PR, Advertising and Social Media, says he got his APR credential in 2011 for a very simple reason: It “helps distinguish the contenders from the pretenders, to put it bluntly.”

“You can only earn the designation after you have proven mastery of areas such as research, ethics, media relations, crisis communications, and management,” he says.

Bad apples, such as the PR firm that helped Facebook plant negative news about Google back in 2011, can give the PR field a bad name, Lee adds. Accreditation can help separate those bad apples from the bunch.

“I’m hopeful that no APR-trained practitioner would ever agree to do something that unscrupulous, and that’s reason alone for the need for more accredited PR professionals,” he says.

Crystal Smith, director of integrated media for public relations at Strategic Communications and president of the Central New York chapter of PRSA, says it’s tough to explain to people outside the PR industry what PR professionals actually do.

“I relate the APR to a CPA for accountants,” she says. “You don’t need a CPA to do business as an accountant. But if a business or consumer has a choice, they’ll pick the CPA—especially for their more serious and significant accounting needs.”

Philip Chang, partner at the PR firm Carbon, says firms benefit from managers having APR credentials, as a shorthand way to prove the company means business and cares about PR and its history.

The reasons why not 

Chang says he can see the other side of the coin, though. To the untrained eye, one certification—APR—isn’t all that different from any other, such as the Business Marketing Association’s Certified Business Communicator credential.

“Where there are competing organizations, there are competing credentials and consequently, it diminishes the value of the credential,” he says.

Jenni Gritti of branding firm Wyatt Brand says she had every intention of gaining accreditation after graduating from college in 2009, but it’s become less and less important to her over time.

“APR at the end of my name doesn’t make anyone open my emails any faster, get back to me any quicker, or approach me with ideas and business any sooner,” she says. “My hard work makes a name for itself, and I personally don’t need the three letters at the end of my name to prove it.”

[RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to the digital PR industry changes at this August event.

Josh Cline, president and CEO of The Cline Group, seems to confirm Gritti’s suspicions.

“I find no need for anyone to be accredited,” he says. “Anyone can pass a test, but work experience, accomplishments and understanding how PR is only a subset of marketing and marketing needs to map to business objectives.”

Is it worth it? 

PRSA hasn’t explicitly tied APR to higher earnings for professionals, though the organization has done surveys that found the accreditation has been beneficial to those that have earned it. Most, 91 percent, view their APR as a source of pride, and large majorities have used theirs to develop professional skills (78 percent) and resolve ethical dilemmas (58 percent).

Even so, Bob Birge, director of marketing at Blue Pillar, says accreditation seems to have simply gotten buried under other priorities in the past decade or so.

“Those in hiring positions often are looking for the best people available, with the right background and at the right price,” he says. “Whether or not APR appears after their name is somewhat irrelevant.”

Smith, who earned her APR as soon as she was eligible—which is after one gains five years of experience—says the roadblock she sees most PR pros encounter is the cost involved in becoming accredited. An application fee, an online course fee, and the cost of textbooks are all part of the deal.

For that reason, she’s starting a scholarship program for professionals in Central New York.

What do you think, PR pros? Is there significant value in having APR after your name?

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.

5 things not to expect from an unpaid intern

Don’t be surprised if they come in late or don’t give their all. Without being paid, they have less motivation to do either and can damage your business, argues this PR pro.

By Hannah Stacey

 

 

Ah, the PR internship.

That much-maligned rite of passage for anyone hoping to make their way in the communications world.

It’s a bit like that inevitable bin-dunking you get on your first day of junior school (just me, then?) or learning to drive: Painful and a bit degrading at the same time.

Hopefully you emerge from the whole sorry mess a better, more enlightened person (or, alternatively, a sniveling shadow of your former self).

Those bewildering weeks spent shackled to the photocopier, the tea-making, the media-list compiling, the general skivvying—and without being paid—that’s all a massive favor, isn’t it? No, not on the intern’s part, silly! It’s an act of kindness from PR agencies, giving career-thirsty 20-somethings extremely valuable lessons in the workings of the illustrious communications industry (and hot beverage-making too, of course).

If anything, these interns should pay PR agencies for such an enlightening induction into public relations, right?

Wrong.

My cheekiness aside, unpaid internships can potentially be harmful to your business. At the very least, you’re probably not going to get the very best. And they could prove detrimental to your business.

Unpaid interns can’t do it all

Here are five things you can’t expect from an unpaid intern.

1. They get out of bed on time. We aren’t all morning people. It takes a wildly irritating alarm clock and the comforting reassurance that Starbucks will be open to get me out of bed on time each morning—and I love my job. If you’re not paying someone to get to work on time every day, chances are they won’t.

While punctuality may seem nitpicky to some, rocking through the office door at 9:15 a.m. just isn’t cool; it massively de-motivates everyone on your team. Hitting the ground running at 9 a.m. sharp is crucial if you want to maintain a professional working environment.

2. They give it their all. Okay, so your new intern might start out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but anyone who seriously expects them to arrive with a smile on their face, ready to bust a gut every morning when they’re not getting a dime in return, probably needs their head examined.

If you’re not offering your intern money or job stability for their efforts, you can’t really complain when they dedicate some of their working hours to finding someone else who will. When you pay interns, it’s not unreasonable to expect they’ll put a decent amount of effort in. The result? You’ve got someone who’s genuinely adding value to your business rather than sitting twiddling their thumbs.

3. They’re a team player. Your intern might be as altruistic as Robin Hood, but working day-in and day-out with people who are getting paid when they’re not earning a cent isn’t going to make them feel like part of the team. No matter how much they smile and laugh when you give them another media list to compile, chances are they’ll resent you. When everyone’s hard work is recognized and remunerated, they’ll feel more team-spirited and you’ll be free of office bad vibes.

4. They’ll hit the ground running. Having an “extra pair of hands” around the office sounds nice, but an intern is another person to manage (this is particularly true if they haven’t been through the company’s full selection process). I’ve said enough about how paying your interns will encourage them to work harder. It’s inevitable any intern will cost you in management time. Why not invest this time in someone who brings value to your business rather than someone who doesn’t feel like they owe you anything?

5. They’ll be the best of the best. Unpaid internships make the PR industry silly and elitist. Effectively they say: “You can only work for me if you (or your parents) are willing to fork out for food.” That’s nearly as absurd as saying: “You can only work for me if your surname begins with Q and your dad’s called Nigel.”

You’re shooting yourself and your business in the foot because, as we all know, being rich or influential doesn’t make one good at managing public reputation. Justin Bieber is walking proof of this. Give your interns enough to live off and you’ll likely attract the talented ones—not the ones whose mommy and daddy own a home in the countryside and let them crash at the penthouse in the city rent-free.

Not paying your interns is tempting, but will ultimately damage your business and prevent you from finding those hidden gems who could prove to be your best next hire. What are your thoughts? Are you pro or con paid internships?

Hannah Stacey is an account manager at integrated B2B marketing agency TopLine Communications. A version of this post first appeared on Spin Sucks.

20 pieces of advice every young professional should follow

After 30 years in the working world, a onetime ‘big-haired career rookie’ offers tips and tactics for surviving and succeeding in the workplace.

By Reba Hull Campbell This post can be found here

May 23 marked the 30th anniversary of my first day in the working world.  Photo  credited to PRSSA 2012-2013 National Committee

That day in 1983, I started my job as a receptionist on Capitol Hill after a local congressman hired me, sight unseen, over the phone three weeks earlier. I had a head full of big permed hair, big expectations, and little idea of what I was supposed to do as an employed and responsible adult.

Looking back, I didn’t have specific career goals in mind at that point, but I did know what I was good at and the type of work I wanted to pursue. Here, 30 years later, I’ve been fortunate to have a rewarding career that gave me 10 great years on Capitol Hill and took me back to my home state of South Carolina for jobs that combined my love of writing, communications, and politics with my curiosity about people and places.

In 1983, I never dreamed my work would give me the chance to travel with a congressional delegation to Taiwan; raise money for causes I believe in; lobby the legislature and Congress for millions of dollars; ride in a fire truck; bike the Golden Gate Bridge; get published in national magazines; pick tobacco; work with great South Carolina mayors; have my picture taken with famous people like Tip O’Neill and Mister Rogers; visit 38 states; work on national, state, and local campaigns; stand at the podium in the White House press room; or be in the State House dome the day the Confederate flag came down.

I’ve figured out a few things along the way that I wish someone had told that 22-year-old with big hair walking into her first day on the job. Maybe the thoughts below will help others just starting out. I write this with huge thanks to all the bosses, mentors, friends, family, and colleagues I have had the privilege to work with and learn from over these 30 years.

1. Establish your personal brand. Decide what you want your reputation in the workplace to be, and let your actions define you. Keep promises, and make deadlines. Under-promise and over-deliver. Avoid behavior in your personal life that could hurt your professional life (even more true today with all the risks of social media in the mix). Remember that details count, especially when getting the details right sets you apart from others. 

2. Seek out a mentor. I’m guessing many busy professionals may say, “I don’t have time to be a mentor,” but most mentor relationships happen naturally rather than being established formally. Be on the lookout for them. I bet my best mentors probably don’t know they even served in that role.

3. Keep up with the news every day. Read the paper, check news websites and blogs, listen to NPR on the way to work. Know what’s in the news about your organization or industry before your boss or client asks.

4. Get away from your desk, and walk outside. Even if it’s just to walk around the block or grab a sandwich, at some point during the day your brain needs natural light and a whiff of fresh air, and your body needs to stretch.

5. Plan the work before you work the plan. Having no plan gets you nowhere. Plans will change either by force or circumstance. Be flexible, but have a plan regardless of whether it’s a work project, a trip, a major purchase, or an important life decision.

6. Don’t pass up a chance to learn. Find out what your boss or leaders in your profession are reading (books, professional publications, websites, etc). Seek out professional development opportunities; pay for them yourself, if necessary. Join professional organizations, and get involved.

7. Go to your boss with a solution, not a problem. Your boss is solving problems all day. Make her life easier by presenting a solution when you present a problem. Even if it’s not the solution that ultimately solves the problem, it keeps your boss from dreading the sight of you at the door.

8.Write thank-you and follow-up notes (handwritten, not emailed). Collect cards from people you meet at events, in meetings, or just out and about. A handwritten “nice to meet you” note will set you apart and help the people you meet remember you. Technology is good, but the personal touch still matters.

9. Travel any chance you get. Travel to small towns and big cities across the country and around the world. Don’t put off travel. You’ll never tell your grandchildren about that great trip you didn’t take because you were too busy at work.

10. Be interested and inquisitive. Ask good questions, and ask them often. Young professionals have a great deal to offer a work environment. Speak up when you have something to offer, but remember to balance your enthusiasm with senior-level colleagues’ experience.

11. Remember that everyone carries their own sack of rocks. You never know what type of personal issues the co-worker who missed a deadline is dealing with at home or with his family.

12. Create your own personal style. That doesn’t mean wearing flip-flops in a formal corporate environment. However, you can set yourself apart from the pack with a twist on the ordinary. To each his own, but just find your own.

13. Stay in the loop, but avoid the gossip. Be a “boundary spanner”—someone who is respected and trusted by people in all parts and at all levels of the organization.

14. Look for “reverse mentoring” opportunities. You can be a resource to your older colleagues. Seasoned professionals can learn a great deal from their younger peers.

15. Looking busy doesn’t equal being productive. The co-worker who crows about his heavy workload and long hours is probably much less productive than the one who is organized and prioritizes his days.

16. A good editor will make you shine. Don’t look at having your writing edited as you would look at a teacher correcting a paper. Editing is a collaborative process, and there’s always room for improvement in your writing.

17. Don’t come to work sick. No one appreciates the stuffy-nosed martyr. That’s why you’re afforded sick days.

18. Cultivate contacts outside work.
 Your next job will probably come from someone you know through church, nonprofits, alumni groups, friends, and professional organizations.

19. Take risks. It’s OK to mess up occasionally. No one can expect perfection. You can often learn more from mistakes than successes. Yes, really, you can.

20. Strive for work/life balance. The “balance” will probably fluctuate daily, but creative outlets, exercise, and hobbies make you a more valuable (and saner) employee.

Reba Hull Campbell promotes the interests of South Carolina cities and towns as deputy executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina. She can be reached a rebahcampbell@gmail.com.

Photo  credited to PRSSA 2012-2013 National Committee.

13 Books Every PR Pro Should Rread

By Brad Phillips-  This post can be found here

 

 

 

I’ve read dozens of books that focus on media training, crisis management, body language, and public speaking. Many are quite good; a few have become favorites.

Below are some of my all-time favorites. This isn’t a comprehensive list, as there are surely great books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. So if you have favorites that are not on this list, please leave them in the comments section below.

Public speaking

You Are The Message” by Roger Ailes: A true classic chock full of smart thinking and “ah-ha!” moments. Before Roger Ailes was hired to run Fox News Channel, he was a high-profile communications consultant. (He coached Ronald Reagan in 1984 before the second presidential debate that cemented his re-election.) If you want to learn how to be a more effective public speaker, this is a perfect place to begin. This book was originally released in 1989, but it’s still as fresh and relevant as anything being published today (with the exception of a few pages that offer a rather outdated view of women in the workplace).

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery” by Garr Reynolds: Many communications consultants advise their clients not to use PowerPoint. I disagree with that absolutist stance, because the problem isn’t the tool, but the use of that tool. Garr Reynolds gets that, and strikes the perfect balance by offering a visually stunning guide that helps presenters design minimalistic PowerPoint slides that enhance presentations and reinforce verbal points. It’s no exaggeration to say that this book changed the definition of “best practices” for presentations that use PowerPoint.

Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story” by Jerry Weissman: This classic offers a detailed, almost technical, guide to public speaking. This is the type of book you’ll want to highlight and come back to before every speech you deliver. Although you should read it cover to cover, you’ll eventually get more out of it as a must-have reference title. Mr. Weissman’s examples come almost exclusively from the world of high-tech IPO road shows, but anyone in any sector can learn just as much as his tech clients.

Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun: This book isn’t a public speaking book, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s not particularly granular or tactical—you won’t find much here about proper posture, slide design, or ways to begin a speech, for example. Instead, this book focuses on some of the bigger issues speakers get wrong, such as failing to maintain the audience’s attention, work a tough room, or manage their own fear. Oh, and it’s the funniest book about public speaking I’ve ever read. (Read my full review here.)

Body language

What Every BODY Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People” by Joe Navarro: Reading body language is notoriously difficult. Sure, some “tells” are more certain than others, but even rather obvious tells usually require other, complementary tells—known as clusters—in order to accurately assess their meaning. That’s why I so thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is filled with all of the responsible caveats but is still an easy read full of fascinating tidbits. Navarro rests his conclusions on the most recent science, but impressively avoids the pitfall of weighing down the book with dense prose. (Read my full review here, and five body language tips from Navarro’s bookhere.)

The Definitive Book of Body Language” by Barbara and Allan Pease: A terrific starter’s guide to body language that covers all of the basics—gestures, eye contact, and deceit signals—and some unexpected material, including the hidden meaning of certain seating arrangements, physical space, and courtship displays. An easy-to-read and highly accessible book.

Crisis management 

Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Damage Control” by Christopher Lehane, Mark Fabiani, and Bill Guttentag: Preparing in advance for crisis is more important today than ever before. This book helps readers do that by detailing “Ten Commandments” of damage control, the purpose of which are to help restore trust to companies in crisis. But the greatest strength of this book lies in its case studies. The authors went into great detail on numerous recent scandals—ranging from those affecting Toyota, British Petroleum, Penn State University, Tiger Woods, baseball’s steroid users, and a few politicians. (Read my full review here, and an excerpt here.)

RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to the digital PR industry changes at this August event.

Damage Control: The Essential Lessons of Crisis Management” by Eric Dezenhall and John Weber: This book got a lot of attention upon its original release, as it gleefully tore much of the prevailing crisis communications “wisdom” to shreds. Among other memorable moments, the authors discuss why “getting all of the information out early” is often impossible, why sometimes companies have to do reporters’ jobs for them, and why the oft-cited Tylenol “best practices” crisis response is badly outdated. If you like hearing a smartly argued counterargument, this book’s for you.

The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management: How to Manage the Media In the Digital Age” by Jane Jordan-Meier: Jane’s straightforward prose, expert sourcing, relevant data, and instructive case studies make this detailed book an easy read. Her international perspective (she cites cases in Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States) makes clear just how universal these crisis communications truths are. (You can read excerpts here.)

Media training 

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip and Dan Heath: The Heath Brothers practice what they preach. Two years after reading their book (for the first time), I still remember many of the anecdotes they shared; those case studies make their underlying and more substantive points even stickier. Their SUCCESs formula is an easily-remembered way to create more effective messages. This is not a “media training book,” but I’ve included it in this section since much of their advice can be applied brilliantly to your media interactions.

The Sound Bite Workbook” by Marcia Yudkin: In her short workbook, Marcia Yudkin offers some terrific advice to help spokespersons create the all elusive “sound bite.” You can use it to create captivating quotes for the media, presentations, website taglines, and marketing messages. This book is only available for the Kindle—and at $2.99, it’s a steal.

Your Public Best: The Complete Guide to Making Successful Public Appearances in the Meeting Room, on the Platform, and on TV” by Lillian Brown: This book, which was updated in 2002, is a bit outdated. Its strongest section—about clothing, makeup, and hair—predates the era of HDTV. So why am I recommending this book anyway? Because Brown’s section on how to dress, apply makeup, and wear your hair is still the strongest on the market. If you plan on making television appearances (or serve someone who will), buy this book and read the first 60 pages. (You can preview some of Ms. Brown’s work here.)

The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview” by Brad Phillips: OK, this is my book. I’m not going to review it myself, because I have an obvious conflict of interest. The book is organized as 101 two-page lessons and covers message development, media interviewing, body language and attire, and crisis communications. I hope you’ll consider adding it to your book collection. (You can read independent reviews here and find free sample lessons here.)

Brad Phillips is the president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training. He tweets @MrMediaTraining and blogs at Mr. Media Training, where a version of this story first appeared.