Sunday, November 1, 2009
Great PR Insight I Received While in NYC
Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend a benchmark trip for Syracuse University graduate students in the public relations program. We traveled to New York City on Wednesday, and on Thursday and Friday we visited various public relations agencies and the PR departments of companies. On Thursday night, we also attended a panel discussion of Newhouse Alums working in the public relations industry.
The trip was an incredible and invaluable experience, where I learned so much about the different sectors of public relations. Before attending this trip, I was positive that tech PR was the only thing I wanted to do. Being from Boston, I was sure I would move home after graduating from Newhouse, and get an entry-level position at one of the many tech PR firms in the Boston area.
After the trip, I find myself re-evaluating my life plans as I'm not entirely married to the idea of tech PR, or Boston anymore. While tech PR is still my number one choice for a career path as I am truly fascinated by the fast-paced and exciting industry, I am not limiting myself to only that industry. We visited Bliss PR, where I learned all about B2B PR and that's it's not nearly as boring as I thought it might be. At Financial Dynamics, I learned about the various tasks that go into financial PR and also that you don't need an accounting degree to understand the business. At A&E Television network and the PMK agency, I learned about the excitement of entertainment and celebrity PR.
At the panel discussion Thursday night, we were fortunate to hear the experiences of Newhouse alums from the Edelman PR firm, and the lessons they learned about getting a foot in the door and living in NYC. The Q & A session that followed was invaluable to all of us who are still nervous about where we'll be in a year from now. After the panel discussion, I truly have more confidence in my abilities to find a job in the field, and excel at it.
Bite Communications was the tech PR firm that we visited, and the Vice President, Sean Mills, also sat on the panel Thursday night. Tech PR is a field I have always been interested in and the presentation by the Bite team truly added to that interest. It's an exciting field that is in constant motion, always changing. The fast-paced environment seems like the right fit for me. Additionally, the organizational culture that I observed at Bite was incredible. Every employee appeared to feel like a valued team member and they were all quite friendly and comfortable with one another.
Here's a list of a five of the most important things I learned while on this trip:
1. Writing Competency is Indispensable - No matter what sector of PR you end up going into, you will need to have absolute confidence in your writing skills. One mistake, one typo, can make or break a pitch or a press release.
2. Be Confident in Making Pitches - You need to be comfortable enough with your communications skills to just pick up the phone and make a great pitch to a reporter or anyone else. This part of PR will never fade, never go away, so it needs to be mastered by anyone in PR.
3. Networking is Invaluable - Whether it is to find a job, or to make a pitch to a media outlet or reporter, the connections you have are vital. Always stay in touch with people you meet in the field, no matter what. Send friendly e-mails, or thank you notes to people who have taken the time to assist you in any way, or that you have assisted. This will set you apart from the rest of the crowd.
4. Get Involved in the Industry You Want to Work In - If you want to do tech PR, B2B, financial, or entertainment PR, you need to follow those industry trends. Every industry needs PR; you need to be involved in those industries that interest you most. This means following the news, as well as the online conversation. Pay attention to blogs and follow companies from the industry on Twitter.
5. Be Really Good at One Thing - While it is very important to be versatile, it's also important to have a niche that you are really great at. This will allow you to be the go-to person for that thing at your company. If you're great at social media, let people know that so when they have a problem or question about it, they will come to you. Your expertise could really impress the people you work with and help you move up faster in the organization.
In any field, the ones who are truly great are the ones who are always learning. One can never know everything there is to know about public relations, but the greatest practitioners never pass up an opportunity to learn something new or become better. That's my PR thought for the day.