CAREER TRANSITION:An Unbiased Look at Careers inCommunications and PR
SPEAKERSCory CraftSuzanne McCormick
Agenda• Myths and misconceptions• Do you have what it takes?• Pros and cons• Words of wisdom• Where the jobs are• Q&A
MYTHS ANDMISCONCEPTIONS
Communicators just write and edit newsletters
Communications and PR jobs are glamorousand fun                                     Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
Public relations professionals are just flacksand mouthpieces for the organization
Communications and PR people are liarsand spin the facts
Communications professionals just needsuperior writing skills, not business acumen
DO YOU HAVE WHAT ITTAKES?
Role of Communications Professional• Advisor and coach• Reporter• Strategist• Motivator• Researcher
Essential Skills• Business and industry acumen• Integrated communication strategy• Understand audiences• Detail oriented• ...
Skills and Attributes You Already Possess• Writing and storytelling abilities• Simplify jargon-filled copy• Organize detai...
Skills and Attributes You Already Possess• Solid news sense• Ability to meet deadlines• Visual media skills• Understand ho...
New Skills and Attitudes You’ll Need• You become the expert• Not objective outsider• Explain company’s position• Advocate ...
New Skills and Attitudes You’ll Need• Anticipate reaction and prepare responses• Best- worst case scenario• Prepare execut...
New Skills andAttitudes You’ll Need• Strategic communication plan• Define measurable objectives• Drive business results• E...
Technical Skills Needed• Web savvy• Proficient with software • Photoshop • PowerPoint • SharePoint • Newsletter tools • Su...
PROS AND CONS
Pros to Working in Communications/PR• Responsibility, ability to impact• High visibility• Variety of projects• Career ladd...
Cons of Communications/PR• High pressure, on call 24/7• Multiple clients and deadlines• Executives’ egos• New professional...
Realities of Communications/PR• Hard work• Requires strategic thinking• Business savvy• Viewed as “soft skill”            ...
WORDS OF WISDOM
Comments from Others in the Profession•   “Skills are the same, and with more    companies spending on content marketing  ...
More Comments•   “Because most journalists are trained to write    strictly informative content aimed at a general    audi...
More Comments•   “You must walk the delicate tightrope    between supporting your companys business    objectives while al...
WHERE THE JOBS ARE
Communications/PR Jobs Are Everywhere• Private companies• Public companies• Nonprofit organizations• Government agencies• ...
How to Find Communications Jobs• Professional organizations• Recruiters• LinkedIn• Job boards• Temporary positions• Volunt...
So Are You Ready to Make the Leap?• Prepared to communicate messages• Prepared to endure rounds of approval• Prepared to b...
QUESTIONS ANDANSWERS
Cory Craft, Past President, IABC Phoenix              corycraft@gmail.comSuzanne McCormick, Past President, IABC Phoenix  ...
Career transition: Unbiased look at communications careers 092212
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Career transition: Unbiased look at communications careers 092212

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  • Speaker bios
  • Ease transition and culture shock unlike my own experience
  • Corporate communicators just have to know how to write/edit newsletters…true but only one aspect/expectation of multi-faceted role
  • For example, Samantha of Sex and the City has created an image that PR is glamorous…unfortunately most of the time, the glam is not true
  • This perception may never change but you once step into role you will learn what it takes to add credibility to the role
  • For both journalism and PR – ethics come into play...your professionalism will determine how you are perceived by a variety of audiences
  • Just like in journalism you have may have one or more beats that you cover; you learn the players/objective …communicators too must understand their industry or organization to be respected and successfully navigate
  • Defining skillsEvolving role of the communicatorYears ago, people who worked in corporate communications used to be mostly writers and editorsToday, writing and editing are only a small portion of the jobIt’s about strategy, brand management, building relationships, using technology, understanding your various audiences..the ability to build an integrated plan around all of this…will explore this further
  • Advisor and coach to senior executives and managers – must advise them on what to say, when to say it and how to say itReporter – must report on company strategies, initiatives, changes and news in a timely, compelling way so employees understand what the company is doing and whyStrategist – must understand the company and industry in order to effectively communicate to various audiences; you must also demonstrate how your plans will affect the bottom line Motivator – must tell stories in ways that inspire and motivate employees to take action to reach business goalsResearcher – must talk to multiple audiences and how they like to receive information to determine the appropriate communication channel..increasingly this means collecting and understanding marketing data
  • You want to be at the tableIntegrated Strategy that address key messages, target audience, tactics and goals, Research, surveying, launch a campaign, create goals and measurable results Understand audiences: HR complete enrollment form or join a new wellness programCommprocessess – how get into, who approves and Corp processes Develop a new website (how do you determine what your audience needs; how to motivate them to use and contribute; introduce a social mdia platform and how build a following)
  • Attributes of a journalist are applicable to communications and public relations too Ability to find, report and write stories for corporate communication vehiclesGather information, compile it and report on it in concise, understandable languageImprove writing that’s filled with jargon, technical speak and acronymsUsed to dealing with breaking news and know how to get to the bottom of facts in crisis situations
  • Newsroom reorganizations and pool of media outlets and journalists is shrinking so one journalist may have multiple beats, less time.. Changing landscape Story of the day (reporter on action team) Republic reporterLocal tv producer now also has to post to websiteBombarded by emails; many profiles in corpcomms24 hour news cycle
  • You are an insider with a vested interest in protecting the company’s reputation/stock price but in corporate communications you’re helping to shape the message, the response, the pace; many versionsYou’re helping to shape the message, the response, the paceTranslate this desire to employees as well; helping them understand a new HR benefit or a merger; preparing FAQs; managers packet research shows most eesget their info from their managers; you are the table with the HR manager or VPMust learn to pick your battles – ok will hold off releasing until; merger layoffs SEC considerations
  • Example – semiconductor plant explosion simply not just getting the facts out various audiences, neighborhood, your employees stockholders, environmental/safety authorities, city officials ..how will resonate with each Knowing the difference between dealing with print, broadcast, digitalDifferent requirements a blog vs a small print pub or twitterBe prepared with your talking points so it’s easy for TV reporters, location of interview, backdrop, soundProvide media training to company executives; crisis training, table-top exercises, work with stakeholders and partners in the community These relationships with the publics on whom an organization’s success or failure depends that could be community partners; demonstrate corp social responsibility; being a good community partnerWork with legislators, regulators and advocacy group
  • This is the strategic and tactical side…today’s communications professionals are required to have substantial research and communication planning expertiseDefining measurable objectives that support the organization’s goalsLanguage and concepts of business and translating them for employees so they can be successfulBenchmark your competition – how are they communicating Decide what’s working for your org and what’s not Being ethical, transparent, authentic and socially responsible; joining professional orgs such as IABC and PRSA which have ethical standards
  • It’s not all black and white…This is the creative and techie side; Higher expectations that you’re familiar with and proficient with software, web savvyConstant ContactWordPressSharePoint – Posting stories to the webMore entry=level jobs will require more tech skills; more strategy requires lessMobile apps, unique URLs, QR codes, SEODon’t have to be an expert but enough to pull info and be comfortable learning new software Introduce new logo or tagline; no legal dept…you’ll do the research on copyright/trademarkProfessional development; willing to learn
  • Like any career, there are both pros and cons to working in communications and public relations
  • Some of the "pros" may include: You have a tremendous amount of responsibility and the ability to have an impact from very early on in your careerYou often have a lot of visibility in the organization It's exciting to be recognized as the expert and the go-to person on a wide variety of skills and issuesBecause of your position and expertise, you have access to the CEO or other high-level executives and you interact with them frequentlyThe daily work is sometimes fast-paced and involves using a number of different skills and offers a lot of varietyThe industry is constantly changing so there is always an opportunity to build new skills, learn new tools and continue to grow Depending on your level and the size of the organization, your compensation may be better than average
  • Of course, there are also cons to working in communications and PRBecause of the nature of this role, you’re frequently dealing with fire drills and crisis situations and you’re under a great deal of pressureAnd at times, you are expected to put in long hours and work weekendsEspecially today, when we all have mobile phones and smartphones, you may be on call 24/7 depending on your positionBecause of the variety of projects you work on, you are frequently serving multiple clients And that means you have multiple deadlines to meet so you are constantly multi-taskingHaving access to senior level executives can be one of the perks of the job, but it also means dealing with enormous egos and people who don’t respect your skills or expertiseOnce you get to mid-level in your career, you might find that advancement opportunities dry up significantly because the opportunities are for new professionals and execsAnd it takes a lot of skill to navigate the beauracracy in a corporation, especially when it comes to the approval process
  • So we hope you now have a better sense of the realities of transitioning to a career in communicationsAnd we hope we’ve debunked some of the myths, especially that communications and PR jobs are glamorousIt’s a lot of hard work, can be stressful and takes talent, expertise and the ability to think and act strategicallyYes, you must have outstanding writing skillsBut you must be knowledgeable about the business and industry and the issues internally and externallyYou need to build strategic relationships and partnerships inside and outside the companyYou need to be aware of some of the limitations, including regulations that prohibit you from being completely transparent at, such as when layoffs are being plannedYou must be able to measure the effectiveness of your workLastly, be aware that in some companies communicators are seen as having only “soft skills” compared to others who may have more analytical and technical skills, and your expertise may not always be appreciated or advise and counsel followed
  • So as you consider a career transition, we’d like to offer you some words of wisdom from some of our peers.As we were developing this presentation, we asked our fellow communications professionals on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for their advice on what to tell journalists considering a career in corporate communications or public relations for their advice and here’s what they said:
  • Today, especially with the focus on marketing via social media, there is a huge emphasis on content curation – so there is a demand for good writersAnd several of the comments we received focused on allegiances – because you have a duty to protect your company’s image and reputation
  • And as we’ve mentioned, knowing your various audiences – and tailoring messages specifically for each one -- is key. One of the requirements of the job is being familiar with AP style, which you all are. But many companies have their own internal style guide too, and it may have slightly different rules than what you’re used to. And in some cases, you may find that you need to create a style guide to ensure consistency in all communications.
  • Because building relationships with key stakeholders is a critical part of the job, some situations require that you skillfully balance those relationships with the needs of the business.And one of our colleagues suggested that you might want to forget everything you think you know.
  • If you’ve decided that communications and public relations sounds like a great fit for you, you are probably wondering where to look for jobs in the field.
  • Many small or mid-size private companies employ communications and public relations professionalsAll large corporations have a communications function and staffs who work in internal and external communicationsNonprofit organizations often have one or more individuals who handle internal communications, public relations, social media and marketingGovernment agencies also have communications staffsOf course, there are public relations firmsMany experienced professionals strike out on their own as solo practitionersWith all the downsizing that’s take place over the last several years, staffs are very lean and companies sometimes need additional help, so you may have the opportunity to take on freelance assignments or contract work as an independent communications consultant
  • So how do you go about finding a job in communications?Becoming a member of a professional association is key because it offers you networking as well as professional development and educational opportunities. Suzanne and I are both long-time members of the InternationalAssociation of Business Communicators, but there are other organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America and the American Marketing Association.Another organization I recommend is Toastmasters, which I’ve been a member for nine years.Of course, there are recruiters.And today you can’t overlook the importance of social media, such as LinkedIn.Many organizations like IABC have job boards.Another avenue to employment is taking on a temporary job.One of the best ways to make connections and enhance your skills is by volunteering for a nonprofit organization. Many are short-staffed and have extremely limited budgets so it’s a great way to gain valuable career experience while helping a cause that’s important to you.There are dozens of online classes – some of which are free of charge or very inexpensive – so you can learn new software or other skills.Above all, know what industries you are comfortable working in. If you are committed to health, you may not feel comfortable working for a tobacco company to advance their interests, for example.Take time to develop and practice your elevator speech, so that the next time you’re at a social gathering, you can succinctly tell someone about the valuable skills you bring to the table.
  • Communications and PR can be a fulfilling, interesting careerWe hope we’ve given you a good overview of what to consider before making the leap Think about whether you are: Prepared to communicate a message because the boss wants it, even if you disagreePrepared to endure rounds of approval before your copy ever sees the light of dayPrepared to write the quotes for someone else that you once sought for your storiesPrepared not to always question authority or at least be ready to pick your battlesPrepared to measure the results of your communicationsToday, we’ll leave you with some resources that we hope will help you if you are considering a transition to communications or public relationsWe have also brought some informational materials about IABCAnd we have a handout from Ragan on 20 Signs You Work in Corporate Communications
  • And now we’d love to answer any questions you may have
  • It’s been our pleasure to be here with you today.We hope we’ve given you some helpful information.If you have any questions we didn’t address here today or you would like to contact us, please connect with us on LinkedIn or send us an email. Thank you.
  • Career transition: Unbiased look at communications careers 092212

    1. 1. CAREER TRANSITION:An Unbiased Look at Careers inCommunications and PR
    2. 2. SPEAKERSCory CraftSuzanne McCormick
    3. 3. Agenda• Myths and misconceptions• Do you have what it takes?• Pros and cons• Words of wisdom• Where the jobs are• Q&A
    4. 4. MYTHS ANDMISCONCEPTIONS
    5. 5. Communicators just write and edit newsletters
    6. 6. Communications and PR jobs are glamorousand fun Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    7. 7. Public relations professionals are just flacksand mouthpieces for the organization
    8. 8. Communications and PR people are liarsand spin the facts
    9. 9. Communications professionals just needsuperior writing skills, not business acumen
    10. 10. DO YOU HAVE WHAT ITTAKES?
    11. 11. Role of Communications Professional• Advisor and coach• Reporter• Strategist• Motivator• Researcher
    12. 12. Essential Skills• Business and industry acumen• Integrated communication strategy• Understand audiences• Detail oriented• Sense of urgency/deadlines• Bureaucracy, multiple gatekeepers• Establish processes, introduce new tools Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    13. 13. Skills and Attributes You Already Possess• Writing and storytelling abilities• Simplify jargon-filled copy• Organize details• Never plagiarizes
    14. 14. Skills and Attributes You Already Possess• Solid news sense• Ability to meet deadlines• Visual media skills• Understand how reporters think• Pitch stories so they get covered
    15. 15. New Skills and Attitudes You’ll Need• You become the expert• Not objective outsider• Explain company’s position• Advocate for employees• Questioning authority not appreciated Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    16. 16. New Skills and Attitudes You’ll Need• Anticipate reaction and prepare responses• Best- worst case scenario• Prepare executives• Plan and train for crises• Form beneficial relationships Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    17. 17. New Skills andAttitudes You’ll Need• Strategic communication plan• Define measurable objectives• Drive business results• Ethical, transparent and socially responsible behaviors Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    18. 18. Technical Skills Needed• Web savvy• Proficient with software • Photoshop • PowerPoint • SharePoint • Newsletter tools • Survey tools • Social media • Search engine optimization • Website analytics Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    19. 19. PROS AND CONS
    20. 20. Pros to Working in Communications/PR• Responsibility, ability to impact• High visibility• Variety of projects• Career ladder• Enhance skills, learn new tools• Above-average compensation Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    21. 21. Cons of Communications/PR• High pressure, on call 24/7• Multiple clients and deadlines• Executives’ egos• New professionals and executives• Navigating bureaucracy Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    22. 22. Realities of Communications/PR• Hard work• Requires strategic thinking• Business savvy• Viewed as “soft skill” Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    23. 23. WORDS OF WISDOM
    24. 24. Comments from Others in the Profession• “Skills are the same, and with more companies spending on content marketing there’s a big need for good writers.” – Successful freelance writer• “Keep your commitment to the truth, but don’t forget who signs your paycheck.” – Fortune 100 corporate communicator• “Just because a reporter asks a question doesnt mean you have to answer it. Remember whose interest you represent. “ – Independent practitioner
    25. 25. More Comments• “Because most journalists are trained to write strictly informative content aimed at a general audience, its vital that they learn how to effectively target their messaging, both in terms of the audience and what it is intended to accomplish.“– Corporate communicator• “Realize the corporations have their own style guide too. And if there isnt one, then help them create it. “– Corporate communicator
    26. 26. More Comments• “You must walk the delicate tightrope between supporting your companys business objectives while also remaining true to relationships youve nurtured with your audiences, such as employees and/or the media, as well as your personal convictions.” – Corporate communicator• “Forget everything you think you know.” – Freelance writer
    27. 27. WHERE THE JOBS ARE
    28. 28. Communications/PR Jobs Are Everywhere• Private companies• Public companies• Nonprofit organizations• Government agencies• PR agencies• Solo practitioner• Freelance assignments• Contract work Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    29. 29. How to Find Communications Jobs• Professional organizations• Recruiters• LinkedIn• Job boards• Temporary positions• Volunteering• Classes Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos
    30. 30. So Are You Ready to Make the Leap?• Prepared to communicate messages• Prepared to endure rounds of approval• Prepared to be ghostwriter• Prepared not to question authority• Prepared to measure results
    31. 31. QUESTIONS ANDANSWERS
    32. 32. Cory Craft, Past President, IABC Phoenix corycraft@gmail.comSuzanne McCormick, Past President, IABC Phoenix suzmcc2@gmail.com Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos

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