Three books PR professionals should have on their reading list

By: Melaina Lewis, @melaina_lewis

Like many people I enjoy getting lost in a good book, which is hard when you’re a busy college student. It’s difficult finding time in between meetings, classes, studying and sleep. Lately, the real problem is finding a book interesting enough to read; even the Twitter sphere couldn’t answer my call for a good recommendation. Over winter break, I promised I would take time to rejuvenate my creative energy and read a few books. Being a senior in college, however, I wasn’t looking for the next The Fault in Our Stars (which I highly recommend), but a book that begins to prepare me for the next stage of life: job hunting, career goals and post-grad life.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a first year student or a senior, take a look at the list of books I plan to read this year. (Apologies in advance, these recommendations sway toward female readers.)

1. “#GirlBoss” by Sophia Amoruso

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Of course, my inner Public Relations professional was drawn to this title purely for the hashtag, but let me tell you, I highly recommend this book. Amoruso shares her offbeat rag-to-riches story of becoming the CEO and founder of Nasty Gal, a vintage clothing store. The Goodreads Choice Awards Best Business Books recipient encourages females to become the masters of their destiny and financial independence, by owning the qualities they’ve previously been ashamed of (bossiness, crudeness, laziness). Plus, who isn’t inspired by this advice: “A #GirlBoss” is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it.”

2. “Lean In: For Graduates” by Sheryl Sandberg

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In all honesty, I haven’t read Sandberg’s first edition of Lean In, but this being addressed to graduates got my attention. Sandberg includes six additional chapters from experts offering advice on finding and getting the most out of a first job, best interviewing practices, salary negotiations, listening to your inner voice, owning who you are and leaning in for millennial men.

3. “Youtility” by Jay Baer

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Youtility falls into the category of an “oldie but a goodie.” This content marketing book completely changed how I thought about PR and the way I design campaigns and marketing tactics. It explains why smart marketing is about the help not the hype. Youtility is a must read for young professionals.

These recommendations maybe career and industry driven, so on a more fun note, I plan to read a few of these books before they hit theaters. (Courtesy of Buzzfeed)

Selling Yourself: Pitching Yourself Instead of a Product

otterhugIn any number of my journalism classes I’ve learned how to write press releases, media pitches, package audio and video and just about everything needed to sell an idea. What my classes didn’t quite prepare me for was how to sell myself. During the interview process for my current internship at a waste and recycling company, I was asked to prepare a five-minute presentation about what I could add to their communications team.

My first thought was, “how do I do this without bragging?” However, I quickly realized bragging was exactly what I needed to do. Just like with any other pitch, if you don’t believe in the concept, why should anyone else?

Rather than providing a broad summary of my previous experience, which they could easily see from my resume, I chose to focus on spotlighting individual successes. On the ImPRessions networking trip to New York City earlier this year, we all learned that it is often more important to give people a reason to listen to you instead of just yelling and hoping to be heard.

I did my research on the company, and tailored my presentation to speak to their needs. On the company blog there were a handful of personal pieces about company employees. Working for a client with ImPRessions, spotlight pieces were a regular occurrence for me. I chose to focus on this and included screenshots of some of my most popular posts.

Before ending my presentation, I added an element that was inherently my own. A number of my close friends know that one of my main interests is otters, the furry sea creature. I included a short anecdote about how I created a post on Buzzfeed regarding my love for otters and it managed to get a large response on social media. The topic was a little off key but the reaction was impressive, and it definitely gave them something to remember.

Pitching yourself for a job isn’t so different than pitching a story for a client, when you boil it all down. The same strategies apply and as long as you believe in what you’re selling, it’s likely your audience will follow.

-Darby Fledderjohn is a senior strategic communications major with specializations in business and sociology.