Author Archives: alexhyken

Defying Stereotypes: Being a Millennial and (hopefully) getting the job

Public relations is an ever changing field. This is one aspect of the industry that makes getting an internship or job so difficult. Millennials have the stigma of being self-centered with no work ethic. However, we are in PRSSA, so at least part of that statement isn’t true. At the 2014 National Conference, we heard from a variety of speakers, all who touched on how to defy that stereotype, what remains important in job searching, and what has changed.

The common thread throughout each presentation was that tradition and respect still matter. While it is important to understand the nontraditional landscape and have an experience or skill that makes you unique, you still must rise to a level of professionalism that is and has always been expected in a career.

During the Living Legends keynote session, Thomas Hoog of Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Maril MacDonald of Gagen MacDonald discussed what they look for in applicants and what we should be looking for in positions. Often you hear that a professional earned their success because the stars aligned and just when they were feeling unsatisfied with their horrible position, someone in their network reached out and thought about them regarding this wonderful opportunity they had always wanted. Boom: they had this wonderful job. Well, that’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Make the magic happen for yourself. You have the power to make wherever you are the right place at the right time. If you have built your network and worked ethically and readily, then maybe not stars, but something will align.

Here are some other tips the “living legends” had for us:

  • Be enthusiastic
  • Be ambitious
  • Be curious
  • Be engaging and engaged
  • Be confident
  • Love to learn
  • Try something new
  • Have great writing skills
  • Being global makes you relevant
  • Take pride in what you do
  • Exercise your left and right brain
  • Don’t just be interviewed, interview
  • The best networking is to offer help
  • Ensure cultural fit with the workplace
  • Believe in what you do, it will make you a better hire

Additionally, Hoog looks for what he calls the 3-Bone Approach. This is an applicant with a funny bone, a backbone, and a wish bone—a sense of humor, an ability to make hard decisions, and a goal. Constantly ask yourself what do you have to do to enhance your strengths to differentiate against competition and fill in your weaknesses. Both keynotes suggest leveraging the uniqueness and individuality of being a Millennial, but remembering the traditions of a workplace.

In “Who’s Coming to Dinner: Restaurant PR,” Linda Roth of Linda Roth PR said that she refuses to hire anyone who could tell her what was on TV on Friday and Saturday nights. She claims that PR is for people who like to have a social life because so much of the position requires you to be social.

Other advice came from PRSA General Session Speakers Amy Robach of Good Morning America and Polly LaBarre, Co-Founder of Fast Company. Robach’s greatest recommendation for standing out as interns was the old adage: “Get in early, stay late.” As simple as this piece of advice is, it is more important than ever because it helps Millenials defy the stereotype of being lazy. LaBarre suggests that you can be the change that you seek and that you should ask more questions than have answers because it will break the stereotype of Millenials being self-centered.

Lastly, LaBarre gave one more piece of advice: invite a weirdo to lunch. Once a month, have lunch with someone who is weird, because that means that his/her ideas are different than yours, and he/she has the ability to inspire creativity and innovation in you. This experience allows you to open your mind, see from different perspectives, and gives you a greater more humble understanding of the world, all of which will make you more hirable.

Reading recommendations: Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath, books by Dan Pink, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Never Eat Lunch Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, books by James O’Tool, Culprit (blog)


PR Advanced: Embrace the Possibilities

Here are some word’s from our conference coordinator of PRAdvanced Alex Hyken: 

I can’t believe that PR Advanced is already this Saturday! I’m so proud to be contributing to such an awesome urlprogram. The goal of this year’s conference is to help attendees find their spots in this business world we are all about to enter—because while we have the freedom to choose where to take our careers, we have an overwhelmingly large amount of choices. With attendees having the choice of two out of eight breakout sessions combined with our keynote, Rob Flaherty, and the afternoon career panel, we have accomplished this.

When I was trying to decide on the theme last summer, I realized that many aspects of the industry overwhelmed me. As a PR student, I felt like I had to understand how to use every sort of technology, have a presence on every form of social media, and needed to know something about everything—but I didn’t want to. This lead me to wonder if everyone in the industry actually does all of this and how one follow the path that he or she wants?

PR Advanced: Embrace the Possibilities will present you with a diverse group of professionals who can offer insight into different pockets of the world of communications. From storytelling through video to a social business, from analytics to entertainment, there is something for your brand of communications.

Register here:

Bridging the Gap: Travel the World with Your PR Career

This post is part of our PRSSA 2012 National Conference series, where members of our Executive Board will be sharing tips from various breakout sessions.

How amazing does it sound to be based in California or New York, but to only live there half the year because your job needs you in London, Spain, India, China, Australia, and so on? Shabnam Asthana and Morgan Mclintic are two awesome public relations professionals who have mastered the art of global PR.

Asthana is from India, and she founded Empowered Solutions, which provides all sorts of communications services. Her panel partner Mclintic is from London, and is the EVP of Lewis PR and lives in San Francisco. Both have traveled the globe with their public relations careers, and here is how.

The main concept is to think locally, but act globally. Because you are based in one place, you have to think about the needs and wants of that specific area, but on the other hand, you must base your actions on what a global community is interested in.

The hardest part of global public relations is adaptability. You must be able to adapt to all cultures and accept cross-cultural challenges. For instance, the media asks different types of questions in different countries. So you need to understand each market individually and anticipate what kind of feedback you will get from the different cultures.

In global PR, there is a paradox of simplicity and complexity—you want your message to be simple and get across to everyone, but it is complex to do this across cultures. In order to do this, the PR pro must integrate trends into global fashions. What hashtags will people see in this part of the world versus that part of the world? What social media platform is better here than there? Because of these differences, there is a shift from content creation to relationship management. Rather than trying to create content for each market, if your relationship is strong with someone from each area, then you can convey your message to him/her and that person can share it strongly with their market.

Global public relations introduces a new way of thinking. Not only do you have to consider the behavior of your audience in your home, but also in other cultures that might not be as familiar to you. While this seems a bit overwhelming and entails some research, Asthana and Mclintic really emphasized how great the travelling experience is.

Bridging the Gap: Media Training with Dr. Joe Trahan

This post is part of our PRSSA 2012 National Conference series, where members of our Executive Board will be sharing tips from various breakout sessions.

Everyone is sitting in the quiet room, waiting for a typical breakout session of how-to’s and information on this type of business or tips and tricks of the trade when Dr. Joe Trahan’s booming southern voice takes over the crowd. Already everyone knows this is not your typical breakout session.

Dr. Trahan currently works at Georgia State University, owns Trahan & Associates, a media and crisis communications firm, and was the Media Relations & Mass Communications Expert & Master Public Affairs Instructor for Defense Informational School.

Speaking from his experience, he told us that the three most essential things for media relations are control, competence, and concern.

Control: The first thing to do before you prepare for the scene is to determine the format (are you live or recorded) and to demand fairness from the reporter. You also must research questions. Prepare yourself or your client by thinking of 5 good questions, 5 bad questions, and 5 ugly questions that the reporter could ask. And if you really want to be prepared, do 30 of each—that’s what Dr. Trahan does. Every minute of airtime is equivalent to one hour of prep time.

Competence: Never repeat a negative question. Remember that you command the message. Dr. Trahan created a saying for how to command your message, SAPP:

  • Security. If you cannot tell the reporter something due to confidentiality then tell the reporter why you can’t.
  • Accuracy. Always put things into the right context.
  • Propriety. Your most important goal is protect the people or things that you are discussing.
  • Policy. When you take a stand, you are your organization.

Concern: Keep in mind what you want the audience to remember: is it what are we doing about a problem, or is there a specific position or angle that you want your group to take? Stay consistent with your word choice and avoid jargon because it will make you more appealing to the public. It is okay to pause and think of an answer because it shows that you are truly listening – just don’t pause too long. Thing about who is going to watch and/or hear this.

The last piece of advice that Dr. Trahan gave was to keep in mind that people remember 85% of what they see on television, and only 15% of what they hear. That means appearance matters. Women should pull their hair back, wear solid jewel tones with minimal jewelry, have no nail polish, and don heels. Men should shave one hour before their appearance, keep to solid colors, have a maximum two rings and no other jewelry, and usually wear a solid tie.

This breakout was one of my favorites because I learned so much in just an hour. Before Dr. Trahan departed, he illustrated for us that the most terrible thing to do in front of a camera is show the middle finger with both hands. And with that image engrained in our brains, the session ended and we were free to approach Dr. Trahan for questions.

PR Advanced: Embrace the Possibilities

I am excited to announce that we have received the bid to host a Regional Conference! Our seventh annual Regional Conference PR Advanced: Embrace the Possibilities will take place on February 23rd, 2013.

This year, the conference focuses on how there is no single way to a successful public relations career. As upcoming professionals, we find ourselves in an exciting time for public relations: we have the freedom to choose from a plethora of career paths and social media platforms, but the amount of choices is overwhelming. Embrace the Possibilities will help attendees find the right spot for them on the spectrum of traditional PR to a breaking with convention, of fitting in to standing out.

How many times have you, as a PR student, felt overwhelmed by all of the career options, the social media sites, the technology tools or the constantly flowing newsfeeds? I know that I have. Our speakers will bring a combination of inspiration and information to help you manage all of the noise. Whether you are interested in hearing from Fortune 500 companies or innovative start-ups, there will be a speaker for you.

The committee is already hard at work to bring us great speakers and breakout sessions. Past attendees include Jon Iwata, SVP of Marketing and Communications at IBM and Margery Kraus, Founder of APCO Worldwide, as well as representatives from MTV, Fleishman-Hillard, Marina Maher Communications, Burson-Marsteller, the Celtics, 360 PR, USA Today and more! Look out for this year’s speaker status updates on Facebook and Twitter.

After last year’s conference PR Advanced: Unleash Our Generation brought over 200 students and professionals, I am even more excited for this year’s conference.

What did you like about last year, and what would you like to see this year?