Advice for young communication professionals


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The online communication veteran tips for young generation that comes after.

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Advice for young communication professionals

  1. 1. Top 5 Tips for Young Comm Professionals ! ! 2014 marks for me -personally18 years that I have been working in the communications industry. I started in advertising in 1996, I moved to marketing/qualitative research in 2000-ish and landed in public relations in 2004: ! Back in the day (2000-2004-ish -like, before the iPhone and Facebook, man!) marketing, public relations and advertising were much different games than they are today, post 2nd-wave ! ■ Internet boom… Examples: “Social networking” meant business networking in a physical social setting -- like a party, bar, restaurant, etc. ■ Cell phones were still the size and weight of a small brick ■ An “app” was a snacky food treat you had before the main course of a meal ■ Lots of people (myself included) still used dial-up to connect to the Internet from home ■ The average laptop weighed between 7 and 14 pounds (and, that was considered LIGHT) ■ Google was a nascent company - with no Cyberdyne Systems dreams as of yet - with several major search competitors including Yahoo!, Lycos (loved their doggie mascot), MSN, AltaVista and Ask Jeeves… All of which are pretty much dead and buried now. RIP, Lycos doggie... ■ Most people still had a landline and received mail (not of the bill or junk variety) on a daily basis ■ Dinosaurs roamed the earth and I walked to work at my PR agency uphill in the snow both ways… kidding! ! Or, am I? ! !
  2. 2. A while back, I wrote a post on my personal blog featuring some tips for young comm professionals. While these are all solid tips that I stand by, I’ve got some additional tips to share with young comm professionals that are less specific to public relations and more general to the communications industry as a whole: ! 1.W o r k across the communication industry -- I’d say that in my professional experience, one of the things which has served me best, is that I have worked in all five major segments of business communications: Journalism, advertising, marketing, public relations and social media. While each of these is a really different business to be in, they are all closely related and symbiotic. They are all part of the larger picture and they intersect often. By gaining an insight into how those industries work, I’ve been much better able to advise/guide my team and my clients in strategy and tactics which will return campaign results they are happy with. And, in fact, every successful comm pro I know has worked in at least two segments of communications before moving into a senior or management position. It’s invaluable experience that I highly recommend. 2. Once you’ve figured out which comm segment you’d like to focus your career on, become an expert in the most up-to-date methods of working in that area -- Once you decide where you want to work, study the work of the industry leaders in that category and learn from what they do for their clients. Internships are great for this (myself, I took a low paying internship at age 33 so I could work alongside Julie Crabill at SHIFT Communications -- I learned a lot of what I value about consumer tech PR from working with her). Or, follow them online, cyberstalk their websites, read their client case studies… Even -- network with them and ask for guidance -- most pros will happily give you some insight into the industry and if you present yourself in a compelling way, you might even land a job offer out of it. Never stop learning. Period. It will only help you in the long run. 3. Use what you work with -- The strength of the work here at ComboApp is that every single person in this agency is absolutely addicted to mobile and social. Seriously: Every. Single. Person. We are the type of people who live, breath, eat and sleep mobile and social apps. As individuals, we’re the
  3. 3. people who big companies come to and ask us to beta test their new products (I was a beta tester/ early adopter for Gmail, Facebook, Yelp and others). The first thing we do when we wake up in the morning? Check our phones/tablets for email updates, status updates, DMs, etc… We’re almost pathologically addicted to the tech we work with. Yes this makes us super big nerds. You know what else it makes us? EXPERTS. Which people - whether they are your client or employer - want and need to guide them in their communications practices. 4. Learn how to network without being cheesy and develop a stable of contacts you can rely on-- Networking is a tricky thing. You really need to do it in order to be successful. But, so many people are just bad at it. They come across like they’re making a hard sales pitch, when the art of networking well lies in simply being friendly and interested in other people. Learn to listen as much as you talk. There is no shame in directly asking for what you want/need, but you need to remember that turnabout is fair play -- people might need/want something from you, and you’ll have no idea of what that is if you dominate the conversation. Be as good and helpful to your network as you want them to be to you in return. It’s so simple, but absolutely accurate -- being a subtle networker who treats people like golden gods will help you develop business contacts that will stay with you and move mountains to help you when you need it. 5. Make professional goals for yourself and when you achieve one, add a new goal to your list: When I started, my professional goals were simple -- they focused on steadily climbing the PR agency structure to get into a management position. As I achieved those goals, I started to add more specific ones -- like, “get a print inclusion for a client in WIRED,” “land a popular social networking site as a client,” “land a Fortune 500 client,” “work with a client who provides tech to high profile people/entities -- like the government, or celebrities.” (Currently, my big goal is to land a morning talk show segment for a client. It’s a hard goal, but I’m doggedly working towards it.) Even if some of your goals take you years to accomplish (gosh knows many of mine have!) it’s good to have a constant reminder of how you need to stretch yourself professionally motivating you to do good, innovative work. It’ll keep you sharp and make you super attractive to both employers and ! clients. So, there you have them, five tips from me to you (the young comm professional). I hope you find them helpful. Now get the hell off my (virtual) lawn, you damn kids! ;) ! Kate Kotler, writer.