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STOCKS & PUBLISHINGTom Hagley Sr., an outstanding educator, author and public relations expert, reached out to me this week with helpful advice for job seekers. His guest blog post appears below.

There will be an increasing number of job opportunities in what looks like a very dismal market. Out of the current chaos, we already see the need for a fresh resurgence of helpful public relations. For some, the pandemic recovery is depressing, confusing, beyond definition and dangerous. For you, it should be seen as an opportunity for public relations to facilitate change and to be of help to the way people under duress think, speak and behave.  To take advantage of this situation, you need to keep your spirits up, think positively and act creatively. I am going to offer some observations and suggestions for sharpening your tools for a job search.

 The pandemic recovery is creating a new landscape of work and social behaviors. It is raising awareness of:

  • public health and the need for support industries;
  • home-based offices and the need for new telework technologies;
  • stay-at-home life styles and the need for new products for reprioritizing;
  • remote learning and the need for programs for certificates, diplomas, degrees;
  • changes in human behavior and the need for retraining;
  • departure from traditional thinking and pathways to redefined livelihoods;
  • rebuilding and restructuring social interacting;
  • reimagining how to live better based on lessons learned. 

Now is the time to think creatively about ways in which the new landscape will develop public relations jobs, what the jobs will entail, how they will be promoted. Clearly there is a need for professional communication:

  • honest, truthful, complete, accurate, trustworthy discourse;
  • expressions of empathy, compassion, hope;
  • data in understandable terms;
  • guidance and direction in powerful persuasive, creative forms; and
  • solutions for dealing with misinformation, cyber influence and crime.

To take part in a resurgence of PR, you must first pay attention to the confidence you have in yourself, your abilities and your education. You need to shed the image of your predecessors who ventured into interviews with timid expressions, plastic smiles, jittery nerves, and hopeful for any chance of getting attention. You have spent four years working for a degree that sets you far above others in strategic thinking, professional communication and advanced levels of public relations. When you walk through the door of a major company or organization, you will be working side by side with other professionals with various levels of experience in law, human resources, accounting, marketing, senior management and others. Know that you have earned the right to hold the view that your level of advanced training in and knowledge of the use of strategic communication and public relations is greater than that of anyone in any other discipline.

I want to tell you something else about your ability. You have a depth of knowledge that commands respect. It is something seldom talked about and is always taken completely for granted. You are learning the technical aspects of your college degree against an impressive background of knowledge. You have a liberal arts education touching history, psychology, sociology, geography, language, ethics, philosophy, science and math. You may not think about the fact that your technical skills in strategic communication together with your broad range of studies in the arts has increased the depth of your ability to analyze situations, the cultures involved, the mind sets of opposing factions, and other areas critical for problem solving, accommodation and compromise. Your exposure to the liberal arts has taught you how to think, read critically, collect and organize facts, analyze them and form ideas. Further, your background in liberal arts has made you a more interesting person and a candidate for  visionary leadership. You should take great pride in your total education knowing that your liberal arts background sets you apart from many of those obtaining degrees in most other disciplines.

Your search efforts need to be personal, direct, integrated and most importantly, employer oriented. I will call your attention to specific ways to enhance the effectiveness of your job search.

Networking
Establish an online network. Reach out to family, extended family, friends, co-workers, guests you have met in class, friends and associates of family members, people you have met through summer jobs. Ask them for names of people who can help you with your job search. Make a list of these influencers or rainmakers—people who can help you meet potential employers. Start to work the list, not with one-shot messages but with two-way dialogue to develop online relationships. Prepare an approach. Reach out like you are making friends. Greet your new friends with genuine feelings. Converse back and forth for acceptance and help. Most people don’t know what public relations is. So make a special effort to help your network of influencers understand precisely what you are seeking. Attach a sample public relations job description and job posting, both strongly oriented to employer needs. Convince your influencers that they can help you and also help their associates learn about PR and get in touch with an outstanding job candidate who can make it work for them.

Cover Letter
An important element for a job search is the cover letter. For many candidates it’s a missed opportunity. In a cover letter, you need to present yourself, but more importantly show recipients that you understand employer interests and needs, and believe that you are a good candidate for a job. The question is, do you really understand the interests and needs of prospective employers? Following is a quick review. You can’t possibly refer to all of these traits in a cover letter, but they can help influence the manner in which you write the letter. Think about what an employer wants:

  1. a person who is technologically savvy
  2. fits right into the organization
  3. won’t require remedial training
  4. has the skills to jump in a share the work
  5. is familiar with the organization’s work
  6. is energetic, enthusiastic
  7. in touch with the real world
  8. relates well to others
  9. requires minimal supervision
  10. eager and quick to learn
  11. takes initiative
  12. good work ethic
  13. good long-term investment; will be on board for while
  14. driven by positive kinds of motivation
  15. gathers information thoroughly and accurately and makes thoughtful decisions
  16. works well alone, as well as with others
  17. has skills for managing others, including outside services
  18. has positive behavioral traits
  19. self-confident
  20. able to travel on business and manage expenses

Resume
You want to make hiring you irresistible to prospective employers and to do that you must know and have an appreciation for the process of hiring. Someone doesn’t jump up from a desk and announce: “I’ve decided to hire a coordinator!” Before a job can be offered, hiring must be authorized within an organization. A need must be justified. The job must be described in detail. It must be ranked by criteria with all others. Ranking sets a salary range plus 30 percent or more for medical, vacation and other benefits. Only then can a job be announced by word-of-mouth, advertising and various electronic means. The best way to make yourself irresistible is to show a prospective employer that you know and respect the hiring process and want to fill employer needs.

Too often candidates focus on themselves writing, for example, a me-oriented objective:

  • Candidate: My objective is to obtain a position in the field of public relations that enables me to apply my academic training and experience and further my career.
  • Better: My objective is to be hired as a public relations staff assistant by XYZ Inc. so that I can learn while I assist in the organization’s public relations effort by sharing the workload, contributing ideas and applying my skills and training.

Too often, candidates ignore the most important PR skill, writing:

  • Candidate: Skills—I understand and have sound knowledge of Microsoft Word, Publics, First Choice Web Design, In-Design, PowerPoint, PhotoShop, social media.
  • Better: Skills—research, writing and editing, AP journalistic style, grammar, proofreading, strategic use of social media, interpersonal communication and proficiency in all major software programs.

Portfolio
You must be the presenter of your portfolio. Take charge. You are in the spotlight. An interviewer will welcome your taking the lead in presenting your portfolio. Too often, job candidates hand over their portfolio and simply wait for the interviewer to thumb through it. Politely hold on to your stuff! It’s your show. Turn pages and point to items you have selected in advance to talk about. Mark places with stickies so you remember where to tout your skills. Tell why items should be of interest to the interviewer. Emphasize research, writing, editing, proofreading—skills highly prized by employers. Engage the interviewer. Encourage discussion. Show that you know how to listen. But stay in charge. Have at least one item in your portfolio that enables you to tell a story and explain how you helped with a project. Explain the results. Be able to point to another item demonstrating your problem-solving ability. Show that you know the problem-solving process. Show how you alone, or with others, seized opportunities, met challenges and achieved results. One final word, if you want the job, tell the interviewer. Be frank about it: “This place feels right to me. I like the people. I like the work you do. I would love to work here!”

Interview
Important advice: Think before you speak. Interviewers have reasons for asking certain questions. Interviewers want reasons to hire you, as well as reasons not to hire you. Here are some suggestions for your interview:

  1. Give short, but complete answers
  2. Do not apologize, minimize, or qualify anything about yourself, your actions, your work
  3. Turn on your energy field; be passionate
  4. Show that you can feel and show emotion
  5. Physically lean forward with your responses to questions
  6. Give the best performance of being yourself
  7. If you want the job, say so, enthusiastically
  8. Show a desire to want to be helpful, a most appreciated gesture in the workplace
  9. When asked about weaknesses, provide a positive response, for example, “I love to learn; sometimes I think I ask too many questions.”
  10. Be prepared to identify weaknesses in the profession
  11. Don’t ask for favors, for example, “Before I start, I’d like to go to Europe.”
  12. Present yourself as a good investment. Don not say, for example, “Eventually I’d like to learn culinary arts.”
  13. Show that you appreciate the employer’s need to fill a job.
  14. Be prepared to ask questions: What do you like most about working here? How is the PR function organized? Is there room for a person to advance? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the PR function here? How can I be of most help?
  15. How does senior management regard public relations? Are you satisfied with the budget authorized for PR?

 Prospective Employer
Turn the tables. Interview the employer. An employer can make your professional and personal life miserable. An employer with integrity can make your quality of life totally enjoyable. Prospective employers want to know all about your character traits. But what do employers expect of themselves? You have worked hard to earn your degree. You deserve to work for someone who will treat you with total respect, genuine appreciation for what you have to offer, and pay for the true value of your work. So when you interview for a job, wait for the proverbial question that comes up in every job interview: “What questions do you have?” That is your cue to take over the interview and dig into the heart and soul of the organization’s leader. Ask about the chief executive officer’s or director’s traits of integrity. Use the interviewer to help you evaluate the organization’s leader. Ask some of these probing questions:

  1. Shows total respect for everyone, regardless of pay grade?
  2. Surrounds self with honest , competent people?
  3. Respects the value of science?
  4. Regarded as an honest person?
  5. Known for keeping commitments to employees, customers, clients, investors, everyone?
  6. Trusted to tell the truth in every situation?
  7. Shows compassion for others in need?
  8. Gives people the benefit of the doubt?
  9. Knows what it means to be humble?
  10. Chooses to do the right thing in difficult situations?
  11. Cares about the environment?
  12. Makes thoughtful, not snap judgements?
  13. Cares more about facts than optics?
  14. Takes an interest in other people’s opinions?
  15. Trusts and works well with staff?
  16. Knows the difference between confidence and arrogance?
  17. Can admit when wrong and apologize?
  18. Truthful when saying, “You can count on it.”?
  19. Shows kindness that is always genuine?
  20. Considered moral and ethical?

Keep your spirits up, think positively, act creatively. Best wishes for success!

Tom Hagley Sr.
Veteran Public Relations Practitioner, Educator, Author

Public Relations Student Playbook, Co-author Writing Winning Proposals: Public Relations Cases

 

 

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Richard Bailey kicked off a fun meme about what a week in the life of a PR professor can be like, and Karen Russell contributed her plans for next week too.

Here is what my week looks like outside of teaching classes and grading:

  • Wrapping up a review of a few chapters of Shannon Bowen’s new public relations textbook. When a textbook is written, professors review chapters and offer the writer feedback before the textbook is published. Shannon’s textbook has an emphasis on ethics, in addition to business terminology and research.
  • Finalizing the research design for a PR pedagogy study with doctoral student Katie Stansberry.
  • Debriefing focus group experience with an honors college thesis student and checking in with two other honors college thesis students on their research projects.
  • Attending a webinar by the Plank Center about how to teach public relations ethics.
  • Checking in with the account supervisor for a team I’m advising for our student-run public relations agency.
  • Meeting with graduate student Kevin Brett to discuss survey questions for a social media ethics study we’re conducting.
  • Attending Dean Tim Gleason’s party for graduate students and their advisors.
  • Meeting with a graduate student to discuss summer public relations internships in the San Francisco Bay area.
  • Writing a letter of recommendation.
  • Scheduling the last interview for a revision I’m working on for a study submitted to a public relations journal.
  • Completing a revision for another study submitted to a public relations journal.

Public relations educators and students, feel free to share your plans for next week.

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Ghostwriting on the Web


I’m partnering with Tom Bivins and Yoon Cho to explore the ethics of ghostwriting on blogs. Could you help us by participating in our pretest?

You’re eligible if you read a politician’s blog, corporate blogs or nonprofit blogs at least monthly.

Corporate blog survey:https://oregon.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_b321IkqCEuiLwP2

Nonprofit blog survey: https://oregon.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_8H5lDJ9gb4NYZ1y

Politician’s blog survey: https://oregon.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1yJ77Eh18FEliGo

Completing one or more would be a significant help to us. Thank you so much!

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Gearing Up For Fall


This fall, I’ll teach a media relations and writing class rather than my usual J452 class, which means I won’t oversee student bloggers this quarter.

Here are some useful blog posts I found while catching up on my blog reading:

What Interviewees Should Ask at an Interview and What the Answers Mean by Josh Netzer

Confidentiality and Agency Life by Dave Fleet

FourSquare vs. Facebook Places by Niki Inouye

What You Weren’t Taught at University by Katelyn Mashburn

We (Carefully) Welcome the Class of 2014 to Fall Semester by Les Potter

I welcome one of your pitching tips for my J440 class in the comments section. Best wishes for the school year!

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iStock_000008369562XSmallOne of my students commented that “awareness” can seem like a weak campaign goal, particularly in contexts in which action is urgently needed. So what are the reasons for building awareness? Why stop there?

In public relations, a good campaign plan requires an evaluation component. Evaluation is based on a plan’s objectives. If an objective is to raise awareness, then evaluation of how successful we are is based on how much awareness we have raised.

This leads to three points:

1.We should not promise something we can’t deliver. When we over-promise and under-deliver, we make a good case that we are incompetent, public relations is ineffective, or both. This could harm our employment and our public relations budget.

In some cases, changing behavior is more than we can do. It’s much easier to raise awareness, and it’s a step in the right direction. How much we can inspire people to change what they’re doing is going to depend on the case. Having an awareness goal can be a cop-out when public relations practitioners are capable of inspiring action; the point is that we’re not always able to do this, so our goals and objectives must fit the situation.

2. People have the right to make their own choices. By making people aware of the facts, we have done our jobs in some cases.
We are not in the business of coercing people to do something.

Health Scenario
If some people decide not to floss, that is their choice. It might be our job to raise awareness about the consequences of not flossing, but ultimately, people can make an informed choice to do things that are not good for them, and that is fine in some cases.

Product or Service Scenario
We might not be doing PR for the best product or service. There could be a competitor that is better than us. Ideally, we will be able to have a seat with the “dominant coalition” (the informal group of decision makers in an organization) and persuade them to take actions that will make our products and services the best. Public relations practitioners are “boundary spanners,” helping organizations adjust to what people say, but some organizations don’t listen. If your organization doesn’t listen, you’ll likely have the most success sticking to awareness goals and looking for an employer who listens to PR people. At the very least, if you can demonstrate that your audience is aware of your product despite low sales, then clearly the problem with sales is not awareness. This can lead to a productive conversation in which a company does listen to PR people to find out what it needs to do.

3. Awareness can be a reasonable first step before tackling a goal to change behavior. In some instances, changing awareness is a triumph, and it can be a critical initial achievement that sets up future campaigns to influence people’s behavior. According to the extended parallel processing model, successful health messages require response efficacy (the belief that a solution is effective) and self-efficacy (people’s beliefs that they are capable of implementing the proposed solution). So health campaigns should always carry a recommended behavior, but it might take repeated awareness campaigns before people actually start doing something differently, depending on the case.

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A repetitive finding in my research, from my dissertation about an advocacy organization’s volunteers to my current study of Millennial agency professionals, is that getting along with the people one works with or volunteers for is critical to one’s satisfaction with a work or volunteer experience.

I serve on the board of directors for the Cameron Siemers Foundation for Hope, an entirely voluntary non-profit. We give life grants of $5,000 for young adults with life-threatening illnesses to engage in a project that makes a difference in people’s lives. With our annual event around the corner, we’ve been in high gear.

What has been fundamental at keeping us together is that we’re all Landmark Forum graduates. This means that we have all been through extensive training in how to relate to each other, how to communicate when we’re upset with each other, and how to resolve the conflict and move forward. It makes an enormous difference because instead of having things build up as people continue to upset us, we handle things and protect our professional relationships.

Being confrontational is no walk in the park, but it’s much easier with training on how to do it, and it’s much easier because we all have the same expectations about how to handle a situation when someone makes us upset, what the person who is upset should communicate, and how the person who upset the other should respond. We rarely upset each other, but when we do (which is bound to happen within two years of closely working together), we have strong training in sorting things out, and it makes a world of difference.

What do you think about organizations providing interpersonal training?

Resources

Landmark Forum
(life skills)

Vanto Group
(affiliated with Landmark education, provides interpersonal training for organizations)

Cameron Siemers Foundation for Hope
(our organization’s information and a place to buy tickets to our event)

Facebook Event Page for the Cameron Siemers Foundation for Hope
(a place to RSVP for our event)

Facebook Fan Page for the Cameron Siemers Foundation for Hope
(please consider joining)

If you’ll be in the Southern California area, I hope you’ll join us for our event on Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Here is the pitch from our fan page and our invitation. Our theme this year is a night of magic and miracles:

Ladies and Gentlemen! Children of All Ages! It’s Spectacular…It’s Fantastic…It’s for Charity!

Join Cameron Siemers and guest hosts Courtney Cox and David Arquette for an evening of magic and miracles at the second annual fundraiser of the Cameron Siemers Foundation for Hope.

THE MAGIC
Be mystified and amazed by the wizardry of Magic Joe Reohm.

Thrill at the unforgettable spectacle that is the Zen Arts Performance Troupe.

Witness the wonder of Wisdom…Norton Wisdom and his luminous live paintings.

THE MIRACLES
Come face-to-face with pure inspiration when you hear from our Life Grant winners.

Look into the future with our founder Cameron Siemers as he reveals what’s next for the foundation.

Come one, come all for an evening of breathtaking performances, music, dancing, appetizers, a cash bar, raffle and silent auction. Contributions support young adults with life-threatening illnesses as they fulfill a dream, goal, or project that makes a difference in their lives and communities.

Invitation

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At Edelman’s Third Annual New Media Academic Summit, I spent the first day listening and taking notes, and I spent the second day live tweeting. Some of my colleagues and students expressed interest in following the twitter coverage, and I wanted to deliver insight to people who did not attend. I also wanted to see what it was like to live tweet an event to help me decide whether to have my large lecture class live tweet during some of my class sessions.

I found that I missed information by live tweeting. Thankfully, I could watch the second day sessions to see what I missed.

Why was Listening Interrupted?

While listening to the speakers, I

1. followed other conference attendees’ live tweets on our conference hashtag

2. responded to other attendees’ live tweets

3. tweeted and proofed my tweets

4. engaged in discussion with non-conference attendees who commented on my tweets

It is no wonder that I did not hear everything the speakers said. Les Potter identified someone with similar problems at an exclusive session of the IABC conference. His discussion of this detached live tweeter is worth reading.

Is Live Tweeting Bad Manners?

I also felt uncomfortable looking at my computer screen while speakers were talking. I think that talking to someone who is not looking at you can be difficult, and I felt like it was bad manners to be looking at my computer screen. Perhaps it would not have been so bad if I had sat in the back of the room, but I generally find this area to be noisy, making it difficult to listen to the speakers. I prefer to sit toward the front. In a comment to Les Potter’s post, Robert Holland referred to live tweeting as an “obnoxious distraction.” His comment resonated with my experience.

I like the idea of being able to discuss what speakers are saying via Twitter; I did not like doing it while our speakers were giving presentations.

I think it would be great for meeting planners to designate staff members to live tweet a conference for those not able to attend. This way, conference attendees would not even need to consider live tweeting so that others could follow the conference from a distance. Discussion via Twitter could be appropriate during designated break times.

I don’t plan to live tweet again. Instead, I will be fully present and listen. I can post updates to twitter during a break and write a substantive blog post at night.

What Do You Think About Live Tweeting?

Conference Notes

Videos from conference sessions

Slides from Richard Edelman’s presentation

Bill Sledzik’s discussion of the conference

Karen Miller Russell’s discussions of Richard Edelman’s address, a panel from the first day, and a panel from the second day.

Christine Smith’s discussion of the conference

Twitter coverage

Thank you, Edelman, for a wonderful conference! The sessions were engaging, and it was a treat getting to spend time with the participants.

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