As young professionals we find ourselves searching for success without always knowing how to get it or what it is. An important idea to keep in mind is that success doesn’t just happen at a particular point in a public relations practitioner’s career, rather success happens as a result of preparation. In the practice of public relations, I believe preparation entails an entire process of networking, maintaining relationships and being a proactive learner. At least this is the message I received from attending PRSSA’s “Business Etiquette and Networking” professional development panel on March 8, 2011.
Being a proactive learner in PR will allow you the ability to present yourself and your client as the expert. The panel agreed that in order to do so, you must go above and beyond to thoroughly understand media outlets, publications and clients. Doing so will justify your existence, even for those non-PR executives who may struggle to calculate your importance.
The panel included public relations practitioners from different areas of PR in metro Detroit. Henry Ford Health System’s (West Bloomfield hospital) Marketing and Public Relations Associate Liz Trudeau shared her corporate experience and said, “Networking can lead to great things. It’s how I got my job.” Trudeau, a recent WSU graduate, began her career at HFHS as an intern and because of her already established connections with the associates at the corporate office and constant contact with directors at other hospitals, she was able to turn her internship into a full-time opportunity upon graduation.
Karen Myers is transitioning from a seven-year marketing communications position at Choice Credit Union, to a much larger organization – Ford Motor Company, where she will fulfill the executive communication specialist position. “If it had words, it was my responsibility,” said Myers describing her communication duties with Choice Credit Union. “You name it – advertising, brochures – I touched it,” she said. The experience Myers gained through working with a smaller business offered her experience and take charge of all areas PR-related. This allowed Myers to see different perspectives of the field and learn to adapt then make the most qualified candidates fulfill the position at Ford.
Myers was discovered by a recruiter through LinkedIn and because of her listed specialty in technical writing, she was chosen based on her vast array of experience with Choice Credit Union. “Networking is essential, it’s how you’ll find jobs,” she said.
Jared Bryan, account coordinator at Eisbrenner Public Relations Agency, made the importance of building relationships crystal clear during panel discussion. Like Trudeau, Bryan managed to evolve a one-semester internship into an on-going internship and eventually his career. “It is important to have consistent communication and maintain contacts with people [in reference to building relationships as a young professional]” Bryan said. He stressed the importance of having good and proactive communication with everyone you work with; clients, your boss, co-workers and fellow practitioners. He also emphasized the value in staying proactive and well prepared. “If you’re going to hand something to your boss, make sure it’s “client-ready,” he said. Bryan said keeping that proactive mindset helps strengthen relationships and be a more effective professional.
If you want a job, you need to figure out a way to show results and success. As Trudeau explained that even at a company where your clients are also your co-workers, there’s a time when she said, “I have to present myself as ‘Hi I’m Liz, the expert… not the girl you just watched stuff a sandwich down her throat in the cafeteria,’” said Trudeau. It is the PR practitioner’s job to maintain relationships to ensure success.
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