Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

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Thick Skin is In

April 2, 2014

thick skin

Yes, you heard me right. Thick skin is in. I would go so far as to say it’s the new black of Public Relations.

Recently, I stumbled upon blog post titled “10 Traits of Talented Public Relations Pros.” Ugh, I thought. Another cliché article how to be successful in the colossal world of PR. I glazed over the post with little enthusiasm until I reached number eight on the list. Suddenly, a nerve was struck.

“Have Thick Skin” was advice #8. I thought, this really should have been number one on the list,. Since my middle and high school years of playing competitive travel sports, coaches and mentors have loved to tell me to “have a thick skin” and be “mentally tough.” But what did mean? In high school, I had no clue. It wasn’t until college that I began to grasp this concept. As a young, aspiring public relations professional, these words of advice have become increasingly more important and relevant to my life.

Frankly, public relations is not for the faint hearted. The same goes for any work in journalism. Reporters get shot down all the time. People rudely refuse to answer questions or be interviewed. Writers get criticized for the things they write about. News broadcasters, especially women, are scrutinized for their hair, makeup and outfit choices. Campaigns aren’t always successful. Pitches could be a hit or miss.

Public relations professionals must be able to receive criticism. Critical feedback has no filer and it will come from a variety of people and sources. It can be biting and painful, but it’s inevitable. As much as I hate clichés, the old saying “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen” is rather appropriate advice. Yet, negative feedback doesn’t only have to be negative. It’s a way to reevaluate and improve your objective, making the end result more successful. If the only thing you heard was how awesome and wonderful you are all of the time, would there be any room for change or progression? Probably not.

I am 100% confident when I say that no human on planet earth is a stranger to criticism. I have been criticized for everything – from being an only child to having an Android phone before I bought an iPhone (which is just about the dumbest thing ever). I vehemently believe that it can only disable you if you let it. Allow yourself to learn and prosper from it instead.

On the flip side of the coin, PR professionals shouldn’t be afraid to be critical when necessary. If you sense a potential problem or issue, speak up! Communication is the core of public relations, and professionals are inherently strong communicators. Sharing your insights with colleagues and peers will lead them to respect you and view you as asset to the group. There is always room for improvement. Use your criticism wisely and effectively.

In short, wear your Thick Skin and wear it proud. Don’t forget to smile, too.

Morgan Borer is studying Strategic Communications with specializations in Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development. You can follow her on Twitter at @morganborer.

If You Ask Me: Account Advice ABC’s

September 2, 2013 4 Comments

It’s easy as 1, 2—never mind.

With three years worth of ImPRessions experience under my belt, I compiled a list of pointers I’ve gained from my time as both an account associate and account executive. My tips and hints are inspired by the impressive executives and associates I’ve worked with in the past, and the ones working beside me now.

As you begin your new role as an account executive this year, enjoy my tidbits of unsolicited advice:impressions

Acquire an agenda: When meeting with your client and account associates, prepare talking points to address beforehand. If you have an idea of what you want to accomplish from the get-go, your meetings will be more productive.

Bond with your executives: Your associates are the driving force behind the account. You will be collaborating with them, depending on them, teaching and learning from them.  Get to know your associates—they are your team.

Constant conversation will foster better communication: Scheduling weekly meetings with your client will enable you to stay up-to-date on their changing needs, and figure out how to best meet them.

Delegate tasks and assignments: You can’t take on everything yourself, nor are you expected to. Trust your associates to share the workload and help carry the account, and offer your assistance and guidance when necessary.

Evaluate your work: Conducting a self-review after initiating a new idea or plan will help you determine strengths and identify areas of improvement. Your evaluation will teach you how to be more effective in the future.

Follow-up with your clients and associates: Being prompt in your responses will build your credibility and keep the line of communication open between you, your client and executives.

Goals keep you on track: It’s easy to lose sight of what you set out to accomplish if you don’t specify it from the beginning. When you feel yourself veering off course, refer back to your mission to find out what really matters.

Have an encouraging attitude: Positivity and negativity are contagious. If you don’t have confidence or the right attitude, no one else will, especially your associates.

Improvise during downtime: Most accounts are bound to experience a lull in between projects from time to time. Hold a resume workshop, teach your associates how to write a press release or show them how to pitch a story. Turn your down time back up by finding ways to remain productive.

Jump right in: Be a self-starter. Contact your associates to schedule your first meeting of the year and reach out to your client, right now. There’s lots of work to be done!

Keep track of your progress: Comparing where you started to where you are now is the best way to measure improvement. Decide if you’re honing in on your goals. If not, come up with a different strategy.

Lead by example: Don’t just talk the talk—walk the walk. Follow through on promises and execute your plans. Others are more likely to take you seriously if you can prove you are dependable and reliable.

Make enough time for the account: Set aside time each week to plan out meetings, answer emails and prepare for upcoming events. Creating a monthly calendar that outlines tasks and assignments will help you stay organized.

Never forget to say thank you: When you offer a genuine, thought-out thank you, you’re acknowledging your associates’ and clients’ effort, appreciating their thoughtfulness and recognizing their intent. Saying thank you feels good, not just to the receiver but also to the sender.

Open yourself up to new ideas and opinions: Some of the best solutions stem from collaboration. Allow others to build off your ideas and pull from their own experiences to help formulate a plan.

Positive feedback can boost morale: Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up and energizes them. Showing your associates that their work truly matters and that they’re contributing unique value to the whole will drive engagement and motivate them even further.

Quantify your results: Your client is interested in the value of your PR work and exactly how much of an impact your account has made. Numbers serve as one of the best, most concrete ways of showcasing your results. Dust the dirt off your calculator, and start adding it all up!

Rely on your associates: Just like you, your associates joined ImPRessions to gain practical experience, learn and grow. Let them take the reigns as the account pursues different projects, and give them the opportunity to solve problems on their own. They’ll thank you later.

Serve as a role model: Often, your associates will be underclassmen, new on campus and in the public relations field. Your experiences, insight and knowledge of campus are valuable—share them. A little piece of advice can go a long way.

Take it one step further: Treat every meeting, interview and event as you would at an internship. This will not only give you great practice, but it will yield the best results for your account.

Utilize your resources: Remember that you’re surrounded by PR-stars! Play off of the knowledge, experience, skills and expertise of your peers to help formulate new ideas and overcome account obstacles.

Versatility is key: Your associates and clients are bound to run on different, sometimes even conflicting, schedules. If you’re persistent, understanding and accommodating, you’ll find a way to connect the dots.

Work hard: Give this experience your all. Your client and associates will depend on you to set the precedence and lead the way.

Xerox copies of your agenda: Supply your associates with a weekly agenda so they can follow along during meetings and refer back to it later on.

You’re going to make mistakes: Admit your missteps and mishaps, address them promptly, learn from them and move on.

Zen: find yours: Managing an account can be challenging, stressful, time-consuming and frustrating. By the end of the year, you’ll have gained skills and a learning experience that will undoubtedly help you succeed in the future.

So, breathe—you’re already one step closer to becoming a PRofessional.

-Katie Grady is a senior studying strategic communications with specializations in business and political science. Follow her adventures in NYC at @kaitgrady.

Dealing with THAT Group Member

August 27, 2013

HangoverMemeAs summer dwindles to a close and thank you cards are left on internship coordinators desks, you’re probably reflecting on the internship experience you had, the portfolio work you gained and challenges faced. One thing is for sure; the people we worked with always leave a lasting impact – good or bad.

At times co-workers can feel like the most difficult part of the job.  Every job environment presents the opportunity to work with a “flip-flopper,” “avoider,” or “know-it all.” When tumultuous situations arrive it can be tough finding the best solution. Here are some “what if” situations:

What if I work with a “work hoarder” that doesn’t delegate tasks or assignments?

“First, ask the co-worker if they need help. Express interest in the project,” said Julia Fleming, Assistant Director of Employer Relations for the Career and Leadership Development Center.

For example, if the project deals with creating new marketing approaches for a brand, explain to your co-worker you’re looking to gain portfolio work this summer and would like to take on the project. Be honest and tell them what you’re looking to gain from your internship.

What if I work with a fellow intern that doesn’t communicate?

“Communicate problems tend to happen in large settings with leveled employees,” said Fleming. “Take preventive action by getting to know everyone’s strengths and values.”

This will help you figure out how to use everyone’s assets in teamwork. Making an effort to know your co-workers’ personalities is way to make sure you’re kept in the loop on projects. Again, it’s important to discuss the communication issues with your co-worker on first offensives. If it continues politely address the issue in group discussion. Talking about issues in a group creates a culture of openness and trust. It’s extremely important not to micro-manage.

What if a co-worker takes credit for my work?

“Ask them to reconnect and be direct with your co-worker,” said Fleming. “It’s best to avoid confrontation.”

Open-minded communication is a must for a positive solution. Help them feel a part the team and make sure they feel valued. If they feel valued it’s more likely they will be more open with the group.

If you have more questions concerning “toxic team members” or are seeking career and leadership assistant visit the Career and Leadership Development Center in Baker Center 5th floor.

-Melaina Lewis is a junior studying strategic communications. Keep up with her at @melaina_lewis.

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