Posts Tagged ‘ careers ’

what makes a PRofessional?

With a title like making a PRofessional, I’m surprised I haven’t already covered exactly what makes a PRofessional.  So I took the question to all my friends on HARO for their opinions on what makes a PRofessional, what doesn’t make a PRofessional and how important is accreditation like APR — not just for individuals, but for the entire industry!

I was pleasantly surprised with the responses I received.  So, in all its glory, here is what I got:

  • Can I get an order of Experience, with a side of a Degree?
    • Experience counts over a degree… for most.  Out of about 40 responses, only 4 said a degree was an absolute necessity.  That’s only 10%.  Most established Professionals said that being seasoned in the niche one works was more important than a piece of paper from an accredited university.  Remember my earlier post about impatience being a virtue?  Don’t wait to get started building your amazing, PRofessional portfolio.  Cause even with a degree, you still need experience.  At least three years from what I’ve seen for most entry level jobs.
  • Know your Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the Media
    • Before you pitch a story do yourself and every other PR pro a favor…  Seriously.  Research your writer.  Read at least THREE of his or her writings and, if he or she has one, read their blog or friend them on a social media platform.  And do this before you pitch.   I’ve said it in an interview… bad pitchers would be the one thing I would change about what we do.  KNOW YOUR MEDIA!!!  KNOW YOUR REPORTER/WRITER/EDITOR!!!  Look here if you want to see some bad examples of media relations.
  • Like the Song Says… Smile Like You Mean It
    • Did you know that just smiling can change your whole attitude?  Yeah, that’s right.  And apparently employers are looking for personable people with positive  personalities (that hurt my soul a little).  Take that alliteration to heart because it could help you win in an interview and show your soon-to-be boss that you have what it takes to build great relationships with reporters, clients and fellow employees.  So turn your frowny face upside down and make it an awkward smile.


The responses didn’t stop there.  Here are some qualities PRofessionals are expected to have:


  • Remember that degree we talked about…?
    • Even though most hiring Professionals said experience was more important than a degree, you still need one.  And it doesn’t have to be in PR.  It can be in English, journalism, marketing or another communications field.  Some employers even prefer that new hires have a background in the media and it’s no surprise that many PRofessionals  come from journalism.  You know, because we do so much work with the media (see the second tip above). 
  • Don’t Be Pushy
    • This is kind of like smiling.  It’s important to be persistent, but know when to call it quits.  No one likes to be pushed into a corner and although being pushy may get you one or two stories in the media, continuing an abrasive behavior will strain your relationships.
  • Write Well
    • Writing is to PR what latex gloves are to doctors… Everything begins with latex gloves.  It is imperative to have good writing skills in PR.  You must be capable of communicating efficiently in your writing.  You must be capable of telling your client’s story in your writing.  You must be capable of persuading in your writing.  Writing is in everything we do as PRofessionals: pitching, creating press releases and newsletters, developing speeches…  Everything.
  • Think On Your Feet
    • ‘Nuf said.


Then there was the A. P. R.  Most PRofessionals seem to not carry the three letters behind their name that means they went through boot camp like training, studied like grad school students and reassessed their whole career.  With complete respect to the APR, I really feel like this is just a major accomplishment, not an industry be all, end all.  It sets a standard for the industry, but you don’t have to have it to practice PR and it certainly doesn’t give you the power to fly.  However, it’s an accomplishment I want to have.  With that said: Zackery Moore, APR… Yeah… that sounds cool.




P.S. I do not have an APR, just wanted to see what it felt like to write it behind my name.  Feels fancy.


Guest Post: Job Hunting Advice for College Seniors

Note: this post comes from Gotta Mentor and was written by Gotta Mentor CEO and Co-founder Ron Mitchell.  You can find the original post here.  Check back on making a PRofessional as I give you updates about any successes I have with this site.

What I would do as a college senior looking for a job in this environment

There are no simple answers if you are looking for a job as a college senior right now, but here are three things you should consider:

1) Take a job where you will learn the most
Pre-1980, college students took jobs where they thought they would get the most job security. They went to the big companies like IBM, GM and GE. In the 80`s and 90`s college seniors started to focus on where they could make the most money like Wall Street. In the 2000`s, students started to focus on where they could enjoy the best lifestyle like the dot coms. Well today, the focus should be on where you can learn the most. This may mean that you make less money and have less flexibility. But in the long run the skills that you develop will set you free and enable you to chart a career path that you will have control over.

2) Go Abroad
What I am going to say here, may seem contradictory to what I have written above but it is not. Get your butt out of the country. This may mean studying for an extra year or taking some menial type of job abroad. In this case the type of job does not matter. Don`t worry about what you learn on the job, because learning about a different culture is just as important. Learning a language is just as (if not more) important. Tops on my list to go to would be China, India and Brazil. Big markets that are only going to become more important to the global economy.

3) Don`t cop out and go to law or business school right away. 
I know that many of you are taking your LSATs, GMATs and GREs. Don`t cop out! Even in a good economy, I would tell you to work for a few years before going to graduate school. These schools will always be there for you. Once you go and saddle yourself with even more school debt, you will have even less opportunity to find or do the things you want to do. You have very little risk as a young person to go and try something different.

Gotta No Clue…? Introducing Gotta Mentor for All Your Questions

If you’re looking for an mentor, I think you should check out Gotta Mentor.  

It connects high school, undergrad, grad and new professionals with weathered (or fresh) veterans from a variety of industries.  There is even a “General” catergory of professionals so it’s definitely O.K. if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow-up.

I’m in the process of creating a profile, but this seems like an awesome resource.  

Most of my success comes from creating great relationships with mentors.  And anyone who knows me will know that I wholey support finding someone to model your career goals after. 

The next post on my blog will be a guest post of sorts from the CEO and co-founder from Gotta Mentor.


Impatience is a Virtue

Waiting has never been a forte of mine.  I was so impatient with high school I tried to skip my senior year and start my freshman year of college….  Thankfully it didn’t work.

Everyone is always downing impatience, but it really gave me my start in public relations.  It was because I was impatient about getting my hands dirty…. well the key board anyway….. that I now have three years of pr experience under my belt.  
My impatience started my career when I joined the UAB Entertainment Committee as Publicity Co-Chair.  I wrote press releases, handled a budget, pitched media, dealt with printers and all the other things pr people do.  The work was a little unpolished, but I was doing it.
Then I met my mentor, Kelly Marshall, when I sent her an email about being her intern at Workplay and all the other fun projects she worked on.  It was my impatience with the limits of working with a school organization that lead me to reach out.  From there I met my first freelance client and then started working on my second client with MUSE OF FIRE: Shakespeare at Sloss.  
Now I’m impatiently waiting for graduation….  When will you get here?

Job Market in Birmingham Scarce……

So what do I do, keep looking everyday.  

I’m three weeks into my last year of college and the prospect of having a job (or of course adding so many new projects/clients I want to scream) when I graduate in May is all I’ve been thinking about.  I don’t want to be one of those people who have a degree, but do nothing with it…..  It seems to be the trend for the people who graduate from the PR program here at UAB.  Saddening, but true.
This is my happiness equation: ($$$+job+fun+Google RSS feed & Gmail/time = =-])
Factor in the not-so-mysterious tarot card reading I had in New Orleans which advised me to have a ‘real job’ along with my freelance gigs and I am obnoxiously motivated to land a job before I get my degree in the mail.  
I digress: here are my tips for looking for a job in the Birmingham market
craigslist: if you’re looking for a marketing/pr/advertising job then you should click on that tab and start perusing.  However, most of the jobs are more shady than the m4m personal listings and I’ve wanted to click the ‘flag’ link on  many occasions.  If you’re lucky, you will at least get a lead on a cool job or find out about an interesting new agency in town. here you can search jobs locally, statewide or nationally.  Unfortunately for me there are few job postings in this area and fewer that describe my perfect situation (two years experience, degree in progress, contract basis…..  good looking).
Media of Birmingham: the MOB has a job board that links to a variety of media organizations and job boards in the state.  I check here just to see what’s going on in the Birmingham job market sometimes.  MOB also lists some freelance gigs.
Myspace: it’s Myspace…..  The job board here gathers information from all over the internets.  Nothing too fancy.
Wish me luck and happy hunting.