Wednesday, April 23, 2014

5 To-Do List Items For New Leaders

We recently held interviews for internal promotions within our firm! This time is extremely exciting for PRowl, as we watch new leaders emerge and work to take the firm to new levels. Taking on a leadership role, or moving up to a new level, can be a difficult transition. The leadership in an organization, especially in a professional setting, can be the determining factor of progress and success.

When taking on a leadership role, consider these five tips to start off on the right track:

1. Evaluate the situation. Before jumping in, it is crucial to determine where you are really starting. If possible, talk to the person who held the role you're assuming prior to you. Ask what he or she set out to go, what goals they accomplished and any problems that they encountered. Also, take this time to evaluate your team members. Ask what they enjoyed about the previous leader, and what they found to be insufficient, and if they feel valued. 

2. Set goals for yourself. Now that you better know what to expect in your role, and have had time to gauge the feelings of your team, you can get goals to work towards. Use the information you gathered in the first point to set realistic and attainable goals for yourself. These goals should be reflective of improvements you would like to make and the feedback your team offered. Remember, you should be working for the good of the group.

3. Share your goals and vision with the team. Once you have some direction for yourself, it is important that you get your team onboard. Share your goals with them, and explain why you have selected these goals. Also, share how those goals play into the larger vision for the work the group will produce. Ask for feedback from your team; you will need their support in making this goals come to pass! 

4. Set collective goals. Now that you have explained yourself to the team, and built their confidence in you, it's important to bring their wants and needs into the picture. As a collective unit, you should set realistic internal and external goals. An internal goal could be along the lines of "Have a social gathering together once a month," and an external goal could include "Produce twice as much client work as we did last month." Setting goals together allows every member of the group to feel valued, and builds trust in knowing you are working for the same things.

5. Assign roles and responsibility. Now that you and your team are on the same page, you all can decide who will carry out which tasks. Be sure to explicitly describe all expectations and responsibilities, clear communication now will avoid problems down the line.

Be sure to document everything that you and your team decides so that everything can be referred to later. Revisit your original plans often to see how much progress you and your team have made since you first began your journey as a leader.

When taking on new leadership roles, what first steps do you take (or would you take) or see that things run smoothly?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Learn to Make Your Own Decisions

There's no such thing as a stupid question, right? While that may be true, there are definitely questions that are pretty unnecessary. I tend to ask a lot of them. I would rather ask a lot of questions and do something right than forge my own incorrect path. While I still stand by that, I've learned through my internships and time spent as a leader in student organizations that there are a lot of times where the questions need to be skipped and executive decisions need to be made.

In order to make a quick and effective decision on your own, there are some simple steps to take:

1. Develop a thorough understanding
You're much more likely to make a solid (and correct) decision if you have all your background information. Think of that "what-if's" before you start your task and find all your answers at the beginning, rather than running into roadblocks later on.

2. Utilize the internet
Search engines are a wonderful thing. Rather than asking your coworker or boss how to use promoted posts on Facebook or create a graph in Excel, just look it up online. 

3. Look for previous examples
Don't reinvent the wheel. If you're doing a job that someone has done before, there are examples of the right way to do it somewhere. Go through old files and see if you can find an older version that might be able to guide you.

4. Be confident
When you make a decision without asking anyone else, be confident that you're doing the right thing. Even if it turns out you aren't, you'll learn from it!

So if you're ever faced with a situation where an immediate decision needs to be made and it's up to you--don't get nervous and second guess yourself. Follow these tips and you're on your way to making great executive decisions. Plus, supervisors, managers, and directors all the way up to vice presidents and CEO's have to make their own decisions, so you're really helping yourself in the long run by learning to do it now.

Monday, April 21, 2014

PR and Passports

            One of a PR professional’s greatest assets is a passport. It’s funny how the things you learn in class somehow come up in everyday life. In my Communication Theory course, the term Normative Public Relations came up. This means relating honestly to all groups of people. To relate to a diverse group of people, one must understand the cultures of different people. The best method to this is to immerse yourself in a culture different to your own. After doing this, you are able to utilize other ways of thinking, doing and living and apply it to your personal and professional life.

            I may be biased as someone who works in the Study Away office, but I believe one of the greatest assets of the School of Media and Communications are the Study Away opportunities. Not only can students take courses abroad or nationally within their own majors, but students are now gaining more opportunities to actually intern in these locations as well. The new and improved Global Internship opportunities include: Barcelona, Hong Kong, London, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Each of these programs offers students a full time internship, internship coordinator, job coach and a course called International Communications in the Workplace.

            The national programs give students a taste of what it’s like to live and work in the city of their choice. The international programs give students a cultural experience in a foreign country, while learning the professional customs of the country as well. Personally, I am participating in the Barcelona Global Internship Program this summer. On top of my public relations concentration, I have picked up another concentration in international communications and a minor in Spanish. To go to a foreign setting and apply the professional skills I have learned is petrifying and exciting all at the same time.

            Employers, especially in a fast-paced field like PR, are looking for employees who are relatable and adaptable to various environments and situations. Interning in a different city or country gives those students an edge that others cannot compete with. When sitting in an interview with a potential employer, being able to tell them how you adapted and lived in a place not native to you can really prove your skill set.

            There is a quote by St. Augustine that always comes to mind, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I believe travelling the world, gives us the whole story: the story on people, places and life as we don’t already know it.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Brianna Prime.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Measuring the Success of a PR Campaign

It is that time of year again for PRowl Public Relations when we begin working on evaluating the work we have done for our clients. Evaluating a PR campaign is an important final step and can provide valuable information for both the client and PR professional. With today’s technology and increasing social media platforms, there is also an increasing need to know what companies are doing right and where they can improve. Companies are going to rely on their PR professionals to give them this information.

Even though this step is a vital part of a campaign, it is often forgotten or skipped over. If this part of the campaign is missed, how can you tell if the hard work you did was a success or not? Without this evaluation, you would not improve your work moving forward. Below is alist that highlights what I think are some of the most important outcomes an evaluation can provide:

    Learn your strengths: Through a final evaluation, you can assess the success of your team’s strengths based off of what areas the data shows that you did well.

   Determine what was effectiveWhether it is an event, a written analysis or a rebranding of a company, it is important to know if what you did accomplished the goals and objectives that you had laid out originally.

   Hard numbers for future referenceA campaign evaluation utilizes many hard facts and statistics to show what was accomplished for the duration of the campaign. For instance, was there a percentage increase in the number of Facebook “likes” or how many people actually attended an event in comparison to the number that was invited?

   Suggestions for improvement/future workIf you do not stop and asses the success of a campaign, you will never learn how to improve and will just continue to implement the same plans over and over. An evaluation can help you determine which areas need improvement and help you grow as a companyand as a professional.

   Learn from your mistakes: Along with the good things that an evaluation will tell you, there are also areas where you went wrong. You can then take this information and learn from it moving forward.

Do you think there are any other positive outcomes of evaluating a PR campaign? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Kaitlyn Mashack.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A New Twitter Is Coming!

This Tuesday, Twitter will be rolling out a new design for profile pages. If you are a Twitter addict like me, you may agree that the additions seem to be quite useful. Among the new features are the following:

Best Tweets: Tweets that have received more engagement will appear slightly larger, so your best content is easy to find.

Pinned Tweet: Pin one of your tweets to the top of your page, so it’s easy for your followers to see what you’re all about. Most of your followers won’t visit your personal page often, but when they do it’s nice to be able to control what they see first. Maybe that means pinning your top story at the time if you’re a newspaper, or pinning a feature you’re particularly proud of if you’re an individual journalist. It’s a new way to make sure visitors to your page see something useful right away. 

Filtered Tweets: Now you can choose which timeline to view when checking out other profiles. Select from these options: tweets, tweets with photos/videos, or tweets and replies.

How will you use the new Twitter features? We want to know! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to Handle Rejection

I'm not talking about getting turned down for a date--you'll have to go to another blog for advice on that one. I'm talking about job rejection. Whether you're about to graduate and applying for your first full-time position, you're an eager student applying for summer internships, or you're just looking to make a career change, there's a chance you could be facing some rejection sometime soon.

Getting a rejection letter or email for a job that you carefully crafted a cover letter and tailored your resume to can be pretty discouraging, but I prefer to think on the bright side of things and I've come up with some ways to handle rejection and turn it into something positive.

1. Learn from it
Maybe you can pin-point what you said (or didn't say) that caused your job-quest to end in rejection, or maybe you're not quite sure. Go back through the job description and look at the skills and think of ones you might not have highlighted enough or ones you could improve on. Think back to the interview process and consider what you might have done better or changed. Use this opportunity to reflect and improve.

2. Understand it
In a perfect world, every employer would call the people they reject and tell them exactly why they aren't getting hired. Unfortunately, that's usually not the case and it's up to you to figure it out. Try and think about the office atmosphere, the type of work they do, and the way they do it. You might have had all the qualifications, but not have been the right fit for that company. If they didn't think you were a right fit for them, they probably weren't a right fit for you anyway.

3. Use it to your advantage
In interviews you might get asked "what's your biggest failure?" or "talk about a time you didn't succeed and how you handled it". Job rejection is a perfect scenario to use in an answer to this question. You will learn from it and it will help you along the way, whether you realize it now or not, and employers will be impressed with how you handled it and all the ways you used it to become a better PR pro.

4. Chin up, soldier
Remember, there are hundreds of opportunities out there for you. Don't let one rejection get you down or stand in your way of doing the best you can. Keep looking for jobs and internships and you'll find the right one, even if it's somewhere you might not expect.

How have you handled job rejection? We want to hear from you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Game of Thrones Can Teach Us About Transparency

Warning: If you plan to watch the HBO show Game of Thrones, this does contain spoilers. 

In the very first episode of HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones, we learn that the queen of Westeros, Cersei Lannister, has been involved in an incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime since before she was married to the king, Robert Baratheon. Unbeknownst to everyone but Cersei and Jaime, Cersei and Robert’s children are actually Jaime’s children, with no relation to King Robert at all, making the 3 kids 100% Lannister, and in no way related to the throne of Westeros. King Robert Baratheon dies under suspicious circumstances only a few episodes later, making Cersei’s oldest child, Joffrey, the new king. However, Robert Baratheon’s friend and advisor Ned Stark soon learns the truth about Cersei’s children, that they are not Baratheons and therefore not eligible for the throne.

       Right here is the main thing about public relations that Game of Thrones can teach us: to tell the truth and not try to cover up dirty secrets, because they’re going to come to light anyway. Ned Stark confronts Cersei about her children’s illegitimacy in private, and she uses her brother to have him imprisoned, and then her son has him beheaded. However, despite Cersei’s rather extreme reaction and attempted cover-up, Ned Start had already sent letters containing the truth to many different lords and ladies across the world.

Take any class about public relations, or just ask most people, and you’ll realize that public relations practitioners, and the industry as a whole, are often perceived as masters of some dark art of manipulation, wherein the truth is never what you think it is. While this may have been somewhat true in the days of PT Barnum, nowadays, regardless of what you may want, the truth has to be clear and visible to all, no matter how dirty it is. In this modern age of technology, it’s nigh impossible to sweep something under the rug forever, and being caught trying to hide something will always make the situation worse. It’s always better to get out ahead of an ugly truth, by being upfront with it as soon as it is relevant.

       Spend 5 minutes with Game of Thronesand you’ll realizethat one hallmark of the show is its intricate webs of internecine politics and relationships. Despite its complexity, Game of Thrones can teach us many practical, real life skills, especially about public relations.

       If you’re a fan of the show, what are some PR skills that you’ve seen in Game of Thrones? We’d love to hear from you!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Faiz Mandviwalla.