Author Archives: Rachel Eides

The Zen of PR

WomanMeditatingInCentralParkNYC-850x400In the fast-paced world of PR, we multitask by constantly tracking news, monitoring social media, planning each campaign detail, writing pitch materials, following up with journalists, attending events, blogging, tweeting, and so on…

As we start a fresh year and new semester, I’m looking for ways to approach PR through a calm and focused perspective. If we maintain a balanced outlook that enables us to focus on the bigger picture, we can see how all of our tasks contribute to the company’s overall mission.

 

Read on for a few ideas to find zen in your PR practice. Ohmmm

Be Flexible: PR practitioners need to persist through multiple changes and ambiguous situations. It is important to adapt with these changes, even if it means slightly deviating from an original plan.

Clarify Your Goal: In some situations, people may have very different perceptions of what justifies a successful campaign. Before you get too deep in the project, be sure that everyone is on the same page with expectations and goals. If you get distracted, be sure to pivot back to your main focus.

Take a Breath: At the times when you feel the most overwhelmed, you need to breathe the most. In the midst of chaos and approaching deadlines, it is still important to give yourself small breaks for mental clarity to be able to calmly produce your best work.

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Pause to Reflect: At the end of each project or campaign, it is key to pause to reflect on the degree of success. Through measuring and evaluating, we can work toward improvements for the next campaign. Ask questions and come together with your teams to discuss what happened and what can be done better moving ahead.

Be Yourself: We each bring unique qualities to our teams and companies. We feel best when we are true to ourselves. In turn, our companies benefit from each individual putting his or her best foot forward.

How else do you find your inner zen? Please share below… NAMASTE!

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How to Succeed in the Midst of Change

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In the world of business communications, change is a constant. While change may seem stressful, it is actually the best way to learn about ourselves to grow as professionals. As millennials in this challenging industry, landing that dream internship or job is difficult enough. But, then actually succeeding at our new jobs in the midst of all of these technology and industry changes… well, that’s a whole other feat.

The student portion of the 2014 IABC Heritage Region Conference featured keynote speakers and a young professionals panel with expertise on how millennials can succeed in communications roles today. We learned that through all of these changes, we need to continuously grow as new challenges arise and find creative ways to engage with our clients, customers, media and employees.

At the start of the keynote session, Tracy Zimmerman, Director of Global Employee Engagement and Internal Communications for GE Healthcare, asked three students from each side of the room to switch seats. While some students stayed in their seats, others jumped up to participate. We immediately introduced ourselves to the new person next to us. The room began to buzz with friendly conversations and excitement. This was Tracy’s first lesson about engaging: we need to put ourselves out there, raise our hands, jump in, and get to know as many people as possible.

When going through change, you discover what you can handle. Tracy told us to embrace change and pay attention to how we go through it… Does your stomach turn at the thought of something new? Are you energized and excited? Are you inspired with new ideas? When facing change, be flexible, adaptable and ask questions.

Once you establish your professional goal, figure out how you will get there and start by taking your first step. Instead of asking your boss or mentor to help you grow, tell them what you want to achieve and ask for ways they can help you get there. Find out what you need to learn to grow your professional career. Do you need to take on a new role in internal communications or media relations? Should you enroll in a leadership training or Photoshop class? Tracy encouraged us to raise our hands to work on projects that will help us build new skills.

Tracy reminded us to take time to invest in ourselves, particularly around our professional image. To be blunt, our appearances do matter. Our employers want us to represent and uphold the company image and reputation. Tracy pressed us to consider important questions: How do you want to be seen? When you leave a room, what do you want people to say about you?

We also need to invest in our teams. “You can have individual performers, but you need to work as one team,” Tracy said. The best leaders are empathetic and good listeners. First off, you need to show that you understand and care about people. To fix problems, ask a lot of questions and listen carefully to find solutions.

Catherine Allen, Executive Vice President at SHIFT Communications, shared smart and practical career tips:

Resume

  • Location matters (easier to hire someone local who won’t have to move)
  • Proofread for typos
  • Create one resume as a template and “spin it” for each company
  • Showcase only your best points from work and school
  • Make sure your resume and LinkedIn match (they both need to be recent)

Cover letter

  • Match tone of organization
  • Show that you did your research
  • Reflect your interest in the company

Interview preparation

  • Do your homework on the company
  • Google yourself (employers will do this!)
  • Have three clear bullet points about why you want the job
  • Have a list of (good!) questions to ask the interviewer
    • Example: Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?

Beginning your first job (yay!)

  • Respond to emails from your supervisor
  • Ask questions
  • Follow-up and report progress on projects
  • After 30 days…
    • Set up a structure for success (organize desk, set goals, plot out how you will be successful)
    • Plan vacation time (reset!)

Catherine closed with memorable advice: “Stay hungry. The day you’re not learning, your career is over.”

A Young Professionals Panel featured Timothy Barry, Event Coordinator at CBI, Advanstar Pharmaceutical Sciences Group, Tiffany Pinciaro, Internal Communications Senior Marketing Specialist at Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and Hayley Collins, Communications Consultant for Public Partnerships at Public Consulting Group.