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6 Tips to Scoring Your First Internship

intern 02 300x189 6 Tips to Scoring Your First Internship

There’s a circular argument when it comes to getting your first job: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. It can be frustrating for freshly graduated 20-somethings to realize employers want more experience than they’ve got.

Fortunately, there is one thing you can do to gain experience before you’re ready for your first job:

Intern.

Internships provide you with real-world job experience, teach you valuable skills that will make you more hireable, and get your foot in the door at a company that might end up offering you a job.

Here are some tips to help you find the perfect internship.

1. Treat it Like a “Real” Job

You’d be surprised how many college students are too laid back when it comes to getting an internship.

From the start, you should pretend this is a job. Send your resume and write a cover letter, just like you would for a job. Dress professionally for your interview (and show up on time). Show the employee representative that you take this seriously, and they’ll take you seriously.

2. Start With a Company You’d Like to Work For

If you’re majoring in public relations or communications, you should, naturally, look for an internship in that field. But go one better and start with your wishlist of employers. There’s a chance — but not a guarantee — that if you do a great job with your internship, you’ll be offered a position, so apply at companies where you’d like to work at after graduation.

3. Go Through College Organizations

If you’re a member of an association like the Public Relations Student Association, there may be opportunities with college alumni that go through here. You always stand a better chance of scoring an internship if there’s a connection, such as the hiring manager also went to your college.

4. Knock Their Socks Off in an Interview

Employers sometimes have lower expectations for interns than they do their own employees. That presents you with the opportunity to blow them away in your interview. Show that you’ve researched the company thoroughly, and that you have a clear understanding of the industry you’d be working in.

5. Tell Them What You Can Do

Even if you don’t have any job experience yet, you can still show your portfolio of press releases (either from class or simply ones you create to build your experience), talk intelligently about public relations or communications, and express interest in learning new skills.

6. Follow Up with a Thank You

Just like with a “real” job interview, sending a follow up thank you card (handwritten and mailed) can impress the hiring manager and make you stand out from the sea of intern applicants. It’s little touches like this that make the difference.

Once you are hired as an intern, it’s up to you to get the most out of the experience. Show your enthusiasm about learning new skills, and offer your help wherever needed. Not only will you develop plenty to add to your resume, but you’ll also prove yourself as an indispensable member of the team.

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Advancing Your Career through Online Education: How to Do it Right and Do it Well

 Advancing Your Career through Online Education: How to Do it Right and Do it Well

This is a post by Sam Peters, a blogger who writes about careers and online education.

There are all sorts of ways to advance our careers, and for many people, receiving additional education, whether in the form of a certificate program, or full-on degree, is the best way to go about it. If you want to switch careers completely, going back to school may be absolutely necessary to get your foot in the door.

While online programs once carried a stigma, they are now considered a legitimate option for getting a degree. Attending a traditional campus may not be a feasible option for many would-be students, and getting an online education offers flexibility and convenience.

Balancing work, and any other responsibilities you may have, can be quite the challenge. This is particularly true for people who are hoping to advance their careers as quickly as possible, and plan on pursuing an accelerated program.

Without careful planning, your foray into the online education world can quickly go up in smoke. Here are some helpful tips for succeeding with your degree program, and advancing your career at the quicker pace you desire.

Checking Accreditation

If you choose a degree program without the proper accreditation, you will put quite the crimp in your career advancement plans, because the degree will be essentially worthless. While advances in technology, and its ever-increasing role in our lives, have naturally made online education a more accepted option, it has not quite reached the equal status of traditional campus degrees, and employers want to know it is a quality program.

Let’s take the accelerated programs at Gwynedd Mercy for example.  This school’s online programs are accredited by the US regional accrediting institutions such as the Middle States Association. This means they have met the stringent standards set forth by these authoritative bodies.  Some accreditations mean more than others, so always do a little background on the organizations behind them.

Nail Down Your ‘’Why’’

If going back to school is part of your career plan—an accelerated degree program means a lot of work in a short amount of time; we are not talking about one class a week over a period of three years. You are doing this because you want to quickly advance your career, but it will be all too easy to get lazy once the real work starts. But, there is an antidote to this common problem of online students, and it is getting 110 percent crystal clear about your ‘’why.’’ Why are getting this degree? What benefits do you expect it to bring you? Keep questioning your motivations until you reach the absolute core. If you want to work in a certain field or have a certain position, why? If you want more money, why? If you want to give your kids a better life, why? The more clarity you have about why you want the things you want, the easier it is to do the difficult work sometimes necessary to get these things.

Time Management 101

A whole book can be written on managing your time well, and many already have. But, here we will get just get  into some basics. The convenience and flexibility of online programs are one of their most appealing aspects, but they can also be the very thing that take you down if you lack strong self-motivation and discipline. And if you are pursuing an accelerated course, you are going to have a lot on your plate every day.

First and foremost, do not underestimate the power of writing things down. It brings order to the chaos floating around in your head, and you will be much more likely to do all the things you need to do. Write out a daily schedule in blocks of time—say 30 minutes or an hour. It may be necessary to reprioritize your life a bit while you are getting your degree. You may need to ease up on your insistence on cleaning your house top to bottom twice a week , or volunteering for every committee at your daughter’s school. Sacrifices will be necessary, but the perspective you take on these sacrifices will make all the difference in how easy it is to make them—remember your ‘’why.’’

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Why Women Need to Toot Their Own Horns at Work

WomanAndBullHorn Why Women Need to Toot Their Own Horns at Work

There are many statistics out there proving that, despite the fact that we live in “modern times,” women still earn less than men in comparable positions. While it’s easy to put the blame on men, women must take some of the responsibility.

Part of the reason we’re earning less is because we’re often reluctant to talk about our accomplishments to our bosses. In a recent conversation on the LinkedIn group, Connect: Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi, women discussed the topic.

Why We Don’t Talk About Ourselves

While it’s difficult to lump all women into one stereotype, many women do feel like they’re perceived differently than men when they talk about their accomplishments.

Tameeka Robinson, Store Manager at CB2, said: “ If we go overboard with ‘tooting our own horn’ we can be viewed as cocky, not a team player, self absorbed, etc.”

Men, on the other hand, are quick to take credit for what they’ve done. Whether women don’t feel entitled to the pat on the back or simply lack the confidence to bring it up, it’s affecting not only our morale but also our bank accounts.

How to Put Yourself in the Limelight

While it may not be comfortable to do so, tooting your horn is a necessity if you want to get ahead in the workforce.

Leticia Guzzetta, Technical Publications Manager at Imagination Technologies, said on the LinkedIn conversation: “It is appropriate to speak honestly and openly about your accomplishments because no one is going to do it for you.”

1. Look at Your Accomplishments from the Outside. While you may not think it’s that big a deal that you generated half a million in sales for the company, others do. Consider what others will be impressed with. Ammie Neal, a Consultant in Sales Operations suggests keeping a summary of what you’ve done:

“Time flies and by end of year it is easy forget your earlier accomplishments. So, be sure to print a copy of the summary and put it in your mid-year/yearly appraisal file.”

2. Don’t Brag, but Be Honest. There’s no reason to constantly tell your office mates about your achievements. Save them for your performance review, when they’ll have the best impact on your boss.

3. Be Visible. It’s not always about pointing out what you’ve done. Sometimes it’s as important to simply be noticed. Speak up in meetings. Voice your opinion. Share your ideas.

4. Believe in Yourself. If you don’t show confidence, how can you expect anyone else to have the confidence enough to promote you or give you a raise? If it’s hard to come by, try faking it until you make it.

5. Ask for that Raise. Don’t wait until your boss decides you deserve a raise, or you’ll never get it. Come armed with that list of your accomplishments and convince your boss that you’re worth it.

6. Don’t Let Someone Else Take Your Credit.

Diana Wittenbrock works as Senior Sales Manager for Hilton San Francisco Union Square. She was so humble in her first job out of college that she didn’t put her name on many of her projects. She quickly learned her lesson:

“Little did I know a male supervisor I trusted was actually writing his name on them – until the day he got an award for all the wonderful work he had been doing. 100% all mine.”

Don’t be shy about taking ownership of your work. If you don’t, someone else might.

It’s time we change the fact that there only 40% of executives are women. Stand up for yourself, accept credit where it’s due, and don’t be afraid to polish that horn when necessary.

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The Path to Professional Success for Women

Demetri Martin tumblr lo9k5j8SE31qhtggqo1 500 The Path to Professional Success for WomenGender and pay equality aside, the journey to professional success is quite different for women than it is men, based on the results of an annual survey from Citi and LinkedIn.

More Stops Along the Way

The survey results show that women expect to hold multiple jobs — as many as eight — over the course of her career, and that they are more likely than men to transition in their career several times. Add to that maternity leave and time off, and it can take longer for women to succeed careerwise.

And if you’re like many women (45%, in fact), you’re in a career that’s different from the one you thought you’d get once you graduated. That could be due to many factors, like:

  • Sluggish job market in the field you studied

  • Change of interest

  • The job you wanted doesn’t fulfill you like you hoped it would

What we can glean from this information is that women have a tendency to be more adaptable on their career paths. Being able to transition from one role to another takes time (and guts), as does reentering the workforce after taking time off.

Focus on Personal Goals

The key to success in the workforce is setting goals, no matter what your gender. Men and women almost equally feel they have achieved their goals (48% and 47% respectively).

But it’s not just setting goals that works for successful professionals; it’s actually working toward goals. It’s not enough to say “I want a promotion.” You’ve got to outline what steps you will take to make that a reality. Take on extra work. Make yourself more visible around the office. Present your boss with a list of accomplishments and assertively ask for the promotion and responsibilities.

But What Exactly Is Success?

Success looks different for every professional. And before you can set goals, you have to identify what success looks like to you. In the survey, “happiness” was the singlemost popular definition of what success was, regardless of gender or age.

But then, what is happiness? For women, that comes in many forms:

  • Doing what you love

  • Wealth

  • Work/life balance

Surprisingly, more men than women put more emphasis on marriage and children as part of the “having it all” equation. And 25% of women said it was important to have a solid relationship, but that marriage didn’t necessarily have to be a part of it.

And What Drives Satisfaction?

Another important component of the success formula is on-the-job satisfaction. The preferred perks varied between genders. For women, benefits like the following really drove contentment at work:

  • Professional development resources and training

  • Flex schedules/ability to work from home

  • Health/fitness related perks (i.e. gym membership)

  • Good maternity leave/paternity leave policy

It’s impossible to lump all women or men into a single group, but data like this is interesting as it does indicate overall trends. The key is knowing what drives you to succeed and to achieve your goals.

Citi LinkedIn Game On Infographic The Path to Professional Success for Women

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Earned, Owned…and Paid? It’s all Part of PR

 Earned, Owned…and Paid? It’s all Part of PR

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

PR first moved into the ‘social space’ by creating and promoting content. ‘Content is king!’ And, ‘if you build it (i.e. deliver great content) they will come (i.e. audiences will flock to your brand page).’ Now the writing is on the wall (to use another trite expression) and it’s no longer enough to post great content on social. It’s become a pay-for-play world for brands that want to get their messages heard on social networks as this Social Media Explorer post explains.

How do PR pros bridge the paid and earned media services in their PR programs?

Although there is still a lot of education to be done, most clients are already integrating paid social media strategies in their PR programs. As this AdAge article puts it, PR firms that integrate paid media with social media are demonstrating a “natural extension of their evolving content-marketing strategies.”

George Snell, SVP, digital at Weber Shandwick, says that virtually all of the clients in WS’s Boston office have content marketing or digital/social marketing strategies in their programs. Snell says there are also a few WS clients that don’t have any traditional PR tactics in their programs.

According to Snell, the key to getting your message heard is building the right distribution plan. And, while the paid opportunities you pursue might include creating an ad for a social network, they can also include promoting or sponsoring a post to distribute your content.

As Snell puts it, “It’s really no different from the way PR has been working in the past; it’s just that now there’s a paid component. PR pros have always been in the business of distributing content through earned and owned media. Now, we’re doing the same thing but with some new components. Content is at the center of the strategy – we can pitch that content to reporters (earned media) or promote it on our blog, site or newsletter (owned media) or look at the many paid opportunities to distribute it.”

Digital communications consultant Arik Hanson says his clients are excited by the targeting and measurement capabilities offered by paid social media tactics. Even brands that aren’t experienced with paid social tactics see the light when Hanson walks them through comparative strategies. “I’ll ask them how their last ad buy with print media went – how much they spent and what the results were. The total number of impressions may be larger with print, but you’re not sure who those readers are. With Facebook ads or promoted or sponsored posts you can target the reach to an exact person. Social advertising will kill you with numbers.”

Both Hanson and Snell say that keeping up with the rapidly changing aspects of paid social opportunities is a big challenge. “I use it every day and, in the beginning, I had a question every day,” says Hanson. “But there’s no one you can call at Facebook. Anyone who isn’t a Fortune 100 company isn’t getting any customer service there.” (He says Twitter is much more customer-friendly.)

How do PR pros incorporate paid opportunities in their PR programs?

“Talk to the right person,” says Hanson. He says his clients aren’t always PR people – in one case he works directly with a community engagement manager. And Snell agrees that there are more than just PR people in the room these days. His agency finds itself up against advertising and interactive agencies when they pitch new business.

Let the numbers speak for you. “You can lay claim to a lot more than you could ever get with traditional advertising or PR,” says Hanson, so use the digital nature of the media and its ability to track metrics to your advantage.

Don’t forget the basics. No one should tack on social media strategies that aren’t tied to overall goals for reaching specific audiences. To determine what tactics are right for you or your client, consider your goals, your audiences and where they are and their communication preferences, as well as how social media can bolster your other marketing communication strategies.

What other strategies do you use to integrate paid media in your PR program?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.comLearn more about Alison Kenney.


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How is your ‘coffice’ etiquette?

working coffee shop How is your ‘coffice’ etiquette?

This is a post by PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone will at some time experience working from a coffee shop. Even if you’re not a regular telecommuter, you’ll spend some time trying to get a few to-do’s done when you’re on the road, or you’ll escape to a local shop on a work-from-home day.

What’s the attraction? 

Well, duh, there’s coffee. And usually some good-looking other stuff to eat.

But there’s also a good business reason to do it. In one of its most-read leadership articles of 2013, Fast Company outlined the reasons everyone should work in a coffee shop, even when you have an office.

Seriously, researchers at The Journal of Consumer Research found that moderate ambient background noise enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the buying likelihood of innovative products. If that’s not enough incentive, Starbucks ups the ante by offering access to free news, video and “premium content” from a variety of partners to anyone who logs onto its store Wi-Fi with its Starbucks Digital Network.

Once you’re there, it’s important to observe ‘coffice’ etiquette.  The most important, and obvious, bits of etiquette advice are:

  • Buy something
  • Be nice to the staff
  • Power up before hand & don’t hog power outlets
  • Work securely – working in a public setting has implications for your data security, as well as for the physical security of your gear.
  • Know when it’s time to go – don’t stay and hog a table if there are long lines of paying customers
  • Take your phone calls somewhere else

 Some you may not have thought of are:

  • Advertise on the back (case) of your laptop
  • Don’t download huge files, or stream movies hogging the Wi-Fi bandwidth for others
  • Clean up after yourself – yes, you’re at a restaurant, but you also might want to ingratiate yourself to the staff

And, in the third category of ‘who WOULDN’T think of this’ here are a few last tips:

  • Take advantage of mobile technology. I know, right? But check out these Improv Everywhere pranksters who brought complete desktop computing workstations to the coffee shop.
  • Don’t bring in outside food. Just because there isn’t a sign saying not to do it, that doesn’t make it right.

Want to try working from a ‘coffice’ but can’t break free of your cubicle? Try Coffitivity, a free web site that simulates the sounds of a coffee shop on your desktop.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.comLearn more about Alison Kenney.


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Creating an Action Plan for Landing Your Dream Job

images Creating an Action Plan for Landing Your Dream Job

This is a guest post by Helen Evans, Marketing manager of Jobtonic.

Every person has their dream job. More often than not, people fall into old habits and stick with a job that they truly do not like. While this may be a necessity in some cases, it probably won’t lead to better opportunities. Instead, it is up to you to create an action plan so that you can work at Google Plex or any other company that you have a burning desire to be employed by.

Define Your Dream Job

First, you must figure out what your current dream job truly is. This will change greatly over time, but define it now.

  • Where do you want to work?
  • What city do you want to work in?
  • What field do you enjoy?
  • Which company do you want to work for?

Outline every facet of a job and really determine what your true dream job will be. It may be difficult to discern at first, but you will find that by defining your dream job, you can take steps to actually being employed quickly.

Requirements

There are always companies trying to get the attention of people who are looking for work online. Dig into these postings and see what the normal requirements are. This will include:

  • Areas of specialty
  • Education requirements
  • Certifications
  • Years of experience

These requirements will let you know what you are up against. Everyone wants to be a VP of a company, but this takes years of experience. You need to know what it is that you are required to do. If you have no problem spending 3 – 5 years going through lower positions, you may be able to meet the requirements for your dream job. Remember, everyone starts somewhere.

Education

Every field is different when it comes to education. First, find out what educational requirements a job has and start to pursue the appropriate education. Those that have already graduated college will find that they may not even need to go any further. This means you can start in the field much faster.

If you do need to seek higher education, try to get it paid for by an employer. There are many companies that will help a person pay for their degree.

Certifications

One of the most overlooked areas of education is that of certifications and licensing. Every field has their own level of certification and if you procure the right certification, you will boost your job options greatly.

Certifications can be researched online and will require a fee. The minimum fee will be to take the test, but harder certifications may require professional teachers and may be more costly. While computer certifications are self-taught, those given to nurses will be hands-on.

Once you have all of your educational requirements and certifications, you can start searching for a job. You may find entry-level positions in your desired field, or you may need to work your way up in a company. In either case, start applying for jobs and know that your biggest hurdle is now behind you.

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Recap of 2nd Annual Solo PR Summit

 Recap of 2nd Annual Solo PR Summit

This is a post by PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

If you think professional development is different for independent PR pros than it is for agency or in-house staff — think again!

Sure, independents aren’t likely to have access to corporate training and development. And their budgets for professional development might be smaller than other PR pros’. But solo PR pros have the same need for conferences and events that can help them stay on top of trends in the PR industry, learn from expert case studies and bring them together with other practitioners in their field.

Luckily, there’s now an established resource for independent PR pros: Solo PR Pro held its second annual conference last week in Atlanta. Approximately 80-100 solo PR practitioners attended to learn new skills, network with other independent PR pros and find inspiration.

What was it like to attend?

Speakers at the Solo PR Summit were selected for the expertise they could share. Conference attendees heard from PR measurement expertShonali Burke; SEO guru Jenny Munn; and former broadcaster and video expert Dan FarkasArik Hansen used client case studies to showcase his experience with Facebook Ads and David Griner underscored the changes in PR by encouraging and showing the audience how to incorporate paid media opportunities in our work. Lauren Vargas detailed the path she has taken to help Aetna become a social business.Mary Deming Barber, a PRSA Fellow and APR, shared best practices for strategic planning.

Other speakers covered topics unique to the life of an independent PR pro – such as Diane Rose’s session on sub-contracting; Jenny Schmitt’s and Kellye Crane’s joint session on managing difficult conversations; Daria Stegman’s talk on partnerships; and Kami Huyse’s andFran Stephenson’s session on how they worked together to make investments in their own practices.

Inspiration was everywhere, including Chris Craft’s talk about pursuing entrepreneurial excellence and Shelly Kramer’s butt-kicking talk about using content marketing to promote your brand. Jason Falls wrapped the conference up with pointers for optimizing solo PR practices.

Throughout the conference, solos had the opportunity to connect, share and build relationships. The community that Kellye Crane started six years ago with a blog and built up with a weekly chat on Twitter and an active private group on Facebook, was alive and thriving in real life in Atlanta.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.comLearn more about Alison Kenney.


 

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It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not: The Truth About How Companies Treat Employees

 It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not: The Truth About How Companies Treat Employees

While most relationships are reciprocal in their affection for one another, that’s not always the case for the employee/employer relationship. In a recent survey by Virgin Pulse, nearly 75% of employees said they loved their companies, while only 25% felt their companies loved them back.

Why We Love Where We Work

The reason for adoration of an employer vary, but some of the reasons in the survey include:

  • They felt they had interesting and challenging work
  • They liked their company’s mission and what it stands for
  • They love their co-workers
  • They have a flexible work schedule
  • They get great perks and benefits
  • They get paid well

The Feeling Isn’t Mutual

Despite many employees enjoying what they do and where they work, many don’t think their employers feel the same. But exactly how does a company show that it cares about employees?

The survey revealed many obvious answers, like managers showing more praise or offering better work/life balance. Surprisingly, money isn’t the only way employees feel appreciated, though it certainly helps. Great benefits like life insurance, maternity leave, and 401k plans also make employees feel more cared for.

And it seems like some employers try but somehow miss the mark. While a company might think that nap time and weekly massage are what employees really want, the survey showed that most care more about services and benefits that help them maximize their quality of life, such as an on-site gym or healthier cafeteria options.

How to Get What You Want from Your Employer

If you’re one of those workers who feels underappreciated at your job, don’t assume your only option is to jump ship. It is highly possible that your employer simply doesn’t know what you look for in terms of feeling acknowledged. A little dialogue about it can go a long way.

  • Talk to your colleagues. Are others feeling walked over, or are you alone in this? If you band together, you’ll be able to present a more solid case for what you all want from your company.
  • Brainstorm. In an ideal world, what would your company look like? What perks would it offer? Now, in a realistic world (read: small budget), what would you be satisfied with? Maybe you’d love a dream gym where you can work out in your building on your lunch break, but you’d settle for a free pass to the gym down the street.
  • Make your case. Make a list of accomplishments you and your colleagues have made over the past year to show that you’re dedicated to the success of the company. It’s easier to ask for something when you’ve proven that you’ve given in return.
  • Schedule a meeting. Bring a few of your co-workers (not so many that your manager feels bamboozled) and give a well-prepared presentation that explains how you’re collectively feeling about the company, as well as your ideas about how to improve morale. Realize your manager may not have final approval on your ideas, and that you may have to be flexible in what results you get (that company sauna might not be a reality). Being open to conversation is what you really want.
  • Follow up. You don’t want a meeting that results in a lot of empty promises that never amount to anything. Ask for dates that you can expect the ideas to be turned into reality. Obviously it would take longer to build that inter-office gym than it would to snag employee passes to a local gym.

Remember: you can’t always leave your workplace happiness in the hands of your employer. Don’t be afraid to take measures into your own hands to get the results you want.

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PR Agencies in 2014

shutterstock 124525963 300x204 PR Agencies in 2014

This is a post from PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

Last week I attended a Social Media Breakfast Boston event called “The Evolution of PR, Marketing & Digital: What’s Next for the Agency World?” It featured panel speakers from big PR agencies (FleishmanHillard and Racepoint Global), a small virtual PR agency (PerkettPR) and an ad agency (Mullen).

So just how have these firms “evolved”? Here’s what I took away from the discussion about what’s it like to work at a PR agency in 2014:

Agencies today offer a mix of disciplines

As FleishmanHillard’s Seth Bloom pointed out, it used to be that no matter what client they were pitching or what the business objective happened to be, agencies primarily offered some flavor of media relations as the solution. There was talk about integrated marketing campaigns, but those rarely came together unless you were working with a very large brand that had a budget large enough to grab the attention of multiple sister agencies and could afford the massive amount of coordination work. As an example of how this has changed, Bloom ended his presentation with a short video his team created to tease the launch of a new, waterproof Samsung phone. I couldn’t help but think how the launch would have been teed up ten years ago, most likely with a focus on media pre-briefings.

Now agencies offer lots of different services under one roof. A typical corporate CMO wants a mix of paid, owned and earned media and PR agencies are more and more frequently offering it, rather than just a piece of it. I wonder if this means the new business teams at PR firms find themselves going up against new types of competitors and having to position themselves against different types of agencies? Tom Foremski thinks now is the time for PR agencies to go after ad agency business.

What does this ‘new agency look’ mean for staff? Employees at PR firms are expected to understand the ins and outs of each discipline — as Racepoint’s Dan Carter said, “you need to know what a creative brief is.” Account teams need to know how to package and sell different program elements and also, importantly, how to report the results in a way that a CMO can appreciate and understand.

Account teams touch lots of technology throughout the day

Without fail, these types of events always feature a question about what tools are most useful. I think everyone just wants to make sure they’re not missing anything. The panelists didn’t disappoint – they rattled off a laundry list of technology used by their firms to monitor, manage and report on work being done. The names included tools for tracking sentiment, cross-channel posting, listening, content creation, analytics, email marketing and social marketing. Skyword, Netbase and Hootsuite all got shout-outs, and the bigger agency representatives mentioned the proprietary platforms and software they use, such as FH’s Blackbox, as well as a social media task force (at Racepoint) that evaluates new technology as it comes along.

Employees are more diverse

Although one of the perks of working at a PR firm is being surrounded by co-workers who do the same type of work you do and understand what you’re going through, that may be starting to change. As agencies branch out with a wider array of service offerings, they’re hiring workers with different skill sets. Mullen’s Eric Fulwiler, who has worked previously at VaynerMedia, Forbes.com and the Clinton Foundation, advocates hiring the right talent, which you should identify by gut and then train internally.

The panelists settled on some core skills that remain important for agency hires, including writing skills, media savvy, judgment (empathy), an entrepreneurial spirit, the ability to learn and to work with others who have different perspectives. As always, PR agency pros are expected to dive deep into their clients’ cultures. Today they’re also expected to be savvy about indirect competition like pop culture.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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