Tag Archives: Hope Peterson

Putting the “relations” in public relations job searching

by Hope Peterson

I can think of few things more nerve-racking than entering the real world. It’s frightening to think of a place without the cushion of our parents’ security blanket, familiar faces and the excuse, “I’m only young once.”

However, entering that place should be a little less intimidating for PR students like us. The scary black hole of the real world should seem a little less unsettling.

Now, it’s a given that grades are important, but the key to obtaining the interview and holding the job is delivering greatness in person. You can’t get that from a transcript.

PR teaches communication, which places its students ahead of their competition. Through effective communication practices, PR students are familiar with the “how-to’s” of networking and interviewing.

First, the more people you know, the easier it is to do your job as a PR professional. Logically, networking before and after obtaining an interview is crucial.

This is not to say that “sucking up” is beneficial, because often that can lead to more name calling than job offers. But rather, it’s the art of knowing how to establish connections that will get you the phone call for an interview.

An article on the PRSSA website defines networking as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.”

There are two types of networking: “social and real world.”

PR professional Derek Devries said on his blog that is it important to create social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to establish your online identity the way you wish to be perceived. Devries said, “In your spare time you need to be blogging, tweeting, posting, liking, creating, and sharing content with the goal of creating a big footprint for people to find when they’re searching the web.”

As Devries put it, “just do something” to force yourself to be seen by others.

Next, real world networking includes most social interactions dealt with in every day life. Everyone you meet is important; every party you attend, after-class talk with your teacher, dinner with your friends’ parents or lunch with your sorority adviser could lead to something more.

Devries advised in his blog to “take these opportunities: they can be the difference between starting a new career OR moving back home with mom & dad when you graduate.”

But it takes a little more than a smile and a “how are you?” to establish a connection. You need to separate yourself from the crowd. Devries said that PR students are ahead because they never enter “blindly.” He said to always be prepared for social situations with a professional and online presence, business cards, notes and information for small talk.

After ensuring plenty of successful connections, the interview is next.

It should go without saying that PR students should be able to communicate and carry on conversations; putting the relations in public relations comes with the degree, right?

An article on PR Daily advises students who are interviewing to do their homework about the company, practice common manners, maintain appropriate work-related conversation and follow up without stalking.

Basically the tips can be summed up through one over-arching statement — learn how to connect with people to establish a relationship.

Graduating with a PR degree might just make that jump into that real work a little less scary. PR doesn’t just tell us to make an impression, but teaches us how. Effective communication is key.

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CSR: More than meets the eye

by Hope Peterson

I usually pick out cereal according to which brightly colored, sugar-packed, questionably nutritious snack looks the most appetizing. Like many others, I don’t normally make my decisions based on what kind of corporate social responsibility (CSR) the brand I am contemplating has engaged in.

Is this because we, as consumers, don’t care about CSR? Or is it because CSR is already combined with public relations in consumers’ minds — a part of the total packaging we perceive?

According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development CSR is defined by a business’s “continual commitment . . . to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.”

Wouldn’t that make CSR crucial to all public relations firms that need relationships to build communication?

In a Holmes Report article, Paul Holmes suggests that CSR is actually an integral part of public relations, that you can’t have one with out the other. This proves how important CSR is, even though it might not be recognized by consumers.

Holmes said, “An organization can’t have good PR without good CSR.” He explained if a company does not have good relationships, then its foundation won’t be solid or reliable. And to build those relationships with consumers, companies have to behave responsibly and ethically to gain trust.

This symbiotic relationship explains why companies that are not interested in “saving the trees” still valueCSR in their everyday business operations and, similarly, in their goals and mission statements. According to the Holmes Report, capitalists are even interested in CSR because it leads to happy employees, loyal customers and less strict regulators; CSR benefits the money-driven as well as the environment-lovers.

And the reason for these dual beneficiaries of CSR could be because CSR and public relations are often synonymous. Ogilvy Public Relations World Wide (http://www.ogilvypr.com/en/content/corporate-social-responsibility-more/) said CSR is the “ongoing process of aligning corporate behavior with stakeholder expectations.”

Ogilvy developed an eight-step process for CSR that even further supports the theory that CSR and PR are woven together.

The first two steps are conducted through the planning process and include “identification” and “prioritization/classification.” These steps involve research and gathering data pertaining to the issue or the company.

The next two steps are “monitoring” and “preparation,” both dealing with preparing specifically for the issue researched in the previous steps.

The next steps are “action to influence” and “issue/crisis response.” These two steps involve taking action to solve the problem at hand.

The last two steps are “evaluation” and “reclassification.” These steps force professionals to look over their work and make sure that the issue was handled correctly so that future situations will be solved more efficiently.

When choosing a public relations strategy, professionals often follow a similar multi-step process: researching the situation, forming a plan related to the specific target audience, using their research to carry out a plan through structured tactics and finally evaluating the plan’s success.

CSR is much more than just the pink cups companies use to promote breast cancer or the recycling symbol they place on bags; it is the continual relationships the companies are building.

For example, Nike has implemented its CSR plan, the Environmental Apparel Design Tool, that aims to decrease the use of scarce natural resources. Nike engages in multiple small campaigns, initiatives and ads to promote its overall mission but, ultimately, its goal is to build relationships with customers who value its same environmental interests. Nike uses CSR to gain consumers and build target audiences for its campaigns.

Although CSR is often only equated with environmental promotions, would effective public relations be possible without a successful CSR plan? The relationship building public relations relies on might be lost without a little undercover help from CSR.

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