Tag Archives: prsa

Public Relations Everywhere

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I took a road trip to Boston. It was kind of an impromptu trip. I mean we had hotel reservations and such, but Boston was a destination that we just thought would be cool and didn’t really look into very much besides the hotels and how to get there.

So, after a stop in Latham, New York for the night, we woke up pretty early and pulled into Boston around 11:00 a.m. Parking in a parking garage that took us around 20 minutes to find and that was way too expense, we just wanted to go explore, the only problem was we had no idea where anything was.

Standing on a corner about a block away from the parking garage, we both had our smart phones out searching our GPS apps for a way to find the harbor. Just as we were about to cross the street to go to who knows where, a voice behind said, “What are you looking for?” We turn around to find a stout, aging business man in his suit and tie holding his briefcase and presumably on his lunch break. We told him we were looking for the harbor. This is when the amazing part happened. This business man basically recited the cliff notes version of everything we need to know about how to get around the city of Boston and how to do it efficiently because we told him we were only in town for one day. This guy knew everything! He said he was going to write a book about his own version of the Freedom Trail because the original takes too long and had too many zig zags. He knew what ferries to take to get to get to other parts of the city and the most direct routes to everything else worth seeing. He even named a few places for food at the different places he was telling us about. Someone was obviously looking out for my boyfriend and I, two of the probably most inexperienced tourists in Boston, because we ending up having a great time!

Sitting on the ferry on the way back from seeing the U.S.S. Constitution, I was thinking about how it amazing it was to run into that man and how even more amazing it was to hear how much he knew and loved his city. It got me thinking that was pretty much the definition of public relations happening in real life, in person, right in front of me.

PRSA defines public relations as, “Public relations helps and organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” That is exactly what that man did for me. He immediately in the quick five to ten minutes we stood on that street corner with him adapted me to the city of Boston. He made me so excited to be in that East Coast town.

My view on this whole situation is that we have to remember that is what we are doing in public relations. By being honest, creative, and personable, we can do our jobs in public relations well. I think every PR firm needs a “my Boston business man” working for their clients.

-Tara McElmurry

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Filed under PR, PRSSA, Public Relations

Building Personal [real] Relationships

In the age of social media we get pretty used to communicating over some type of electronic medium.  While this certainly makes our jobs as communicators easier and more effective we tend to forget that real relationships involve face-to-face contact, not just a friend add on Facebook or a follow on Twitter.  There have been numerous studies and articles written on this trend of substituting real personal contact with online communication, and if you’ve taken any kind of mass communications class you talk about this A LOT!  It’s even been looked at from a psychological standpoint.  But I could go on about that for much longer than a blog post.

The bottom line is that networking doesn’t work over any type of social media, even over more professional sites like LinkedIn.  If you truly want to build connections with professionals or peers in this field it takes that first handshake and face-to-face introduction.  Here are four tips I’ve realized over the past year from my own networking experiences that will hopefully help you as you take your education to the next level and start exploring the working world of PR and Advertising.

1. Go to networking events…even if you don’t know anyone there.

Obviously networking events are the perfect place to get to know other people and potentially build a new relationship.  There are so easy to find, and usually are broadcast across campus if it is a University-sponsored event.  At Butler we are so lucky to have a strong affiliated PRSA chapter who host monthly breakfasts and an array of other events that are always open and usually discounted to members of PRSSA.   It also gives you the perfect opportunity to build a great first impression with another practitioner and opportunity to exchange contact information.  As terrifying as it sounds, going solo to networking events can be a huge advantage.  Though going with people you’re familiar with can provide a little cushion of confidence, going by yourself allows you to spend as much time talking to whomever you like and keep the focus on you.  It’s okay to be a little selfish sometimes.

2. Learn how to speak up and start conversations

Don’t be shy!  It’s funny because once people get to know me they can’t believe that I would ever be shy, but sometimes around strangers I don’t like to speak up.  When you’re meeting someone at a networking event, casually meeting up for coffee, or especially for going into an interview it’s important to be confident and bold.  Focus on the conversation and don’t get distracted or constantly check your phone.  At the same time you don’t want to dominate conversation with yourself or be afraid to talk about topics other than your work.  Learn how to add natural transitions into conversation and ask questions of the other person.  That comes with practice.

3. Follow up on business cards

I recently read an article that said business cards are useless.  While that’s a pretty bold statement, it makes sense.  If you hand someone your business card but don’t receive one from them, it puts all the responsibility on them to contact you.  If you’re a student networking with a practitioner, that professional has no responsibility to contact you, but you have every opportunity to get in touch with them.  If someone doesn’t offer you a business card (though they probably will) give them one of yours anyway and ask them if it would be okay to contact them in some other way, like email.  Obviously you can feel out the situation and whether it will be appropriate or not, but nine times out of 10 they’ll gladly pass it along.

4. Meet up with professionals in a relaxed setting

One of the best ways to build connections is to get to know professionals. Find out what led them to the position they hold, ask them what kinds of classes they took in college, and what kinds of activities or organizations they are involved in.  This not only brings you closer to the professional, but will also provide insight into what will help you advance in the field.  Again, this may not be appropriate in some cases, but meeting up for coffee or a casual lunch, even stopping by their office when they have a break in the day can be a great opportunity for this interaction.  Some classes assign this kind of interview project, but it’s much more enjoyable and helpful when you just do it for yourself on your own time.  It’s also a great way to find out more about internships that may be available and who knows – maybe you’d even be extended an offer!

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there (that sounds oddly like a pathetic tagline for a dating site).  In all seriousness, professionals want to get to know you just as much as you want to get to know them.  After all, you’re going to be working alongside them soon enough and you need to be prepared for the work!  So no more timid Twitter follows, get out there and network.

-Liz Moy

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Filed under Butler, networking, PR, PRSSA, Public Relations, social media