What’s the definition of a leader? Speaking on leadership at the Southeastern Regional Conference, Rick White, associate vice chancellor for communications and public affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gave insight into “working definitions” of a leader. His 40 years of work experience in public relations have proven that he is an effective and trusted leader.
Mr. White described a “working definition” of leader by stating, “Leadership is helping a group of two or more to achieve their common goals.” While simple, this is not always easily accomplished. One of the most vital aspects to becoming an effective leader is maintaining a clear and timely channel of communication. Doing so allows for you to maintain constant communication about what you and your team need to accomplish.
To further the process, Mr. White stated that an effective leader needs to “practice everyday leadership every day.” He then referred to a quote from the “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot, Chelsey Sullenberger, by saying, “I make investments in the bank of experience every day. When I had to make a withdrawal, I was ready. Being an effective leader means having consistency in purpose and having the attitude to make the best contribution possible.”
Something else White touched on is the necessity of dedication. If you don’t take the time to become an effective leader, you won’t become an effective leader. Furthermore, you have to manage yourself to be able to manage others. If you don’t understand the necessity of dedication to others, you can’t begin working toward the main goal of the organization. Proving you can work with a team is a skill that is learned continuously. Understanding the dynamics within your team and then effectively working together can achieve greatness.
Here are five points Mr. White emphasized:
1. Handle the difficult conversations.
2. Be clear. Understand the final outcome.
3. Manage conflict.
4. Be inclusive.
5. Have strong communication skills.
No one can say it better than White himself: “Make contributions as leader, and opportunities of leadership will seek you out.”
-by Ethan Flynn, PRSSA President, Georgia Southern University
Never have I ever…moderated a panel before!
I had the opportunity to moderate the Young Professionals Panel at The University of Alabama’s Southeastern Regional Conference. The panel consisted of Siarra Swalve from Porter Novelli Atlanta, Savannah Bass from Peritus PR and Meg Burton from Brassfield & Gorrie. It was a pleasure to have these UA alumnae come back to speak about their first year in the public relations industry.
The second day of conference occurred in the Ferguson Theatre. It was a rapid fire session during which I ran through a list of questions: “How was your first year in the PR industry?” “What are your best pitching tips?” Basically, these were all the answers that would help us get our lives together.
The session started with, “What was your biggest challenge during your first year in the industry?” The answers ranged from time management to standing out to adaption.
As we enter this field, we have to learn to adapt to the office culture. How do we do that? Swalve suggested getting involved and hanging out with the other interns or co-workers. For example, at Porter Novelli, there are different groups or “circles”. There is a foodie circle, a kickball circle and so on. Get involved with your office and show how excited you are to be there. You will stand out from the others. Also, like Bass suggested, learn how to prioritize. Time management is a struggle. Learning what takes precedent in our lives will make life a little easier to manage.
The answer to one question completely threw me for a loop and made me feel a little more grateful. The question was, “How do you balance your work and social life?” The answers from all these women remained consistent. They are still working on it! Don’t freak out that you haven’t mastered time management. It’s hard to prioritize, especially when you first start off at a company. Even Keri Potts, senior director of communications for ESPN, stated in a later conference session that time management isn’t something that a person masters until well into their 30s. It’s a scary thought, but also reassuring after hearing these successful women admit to still needing help in that department. We are all still trying to figure ourselves out and, in turn, figure out how to prioritize.
Before we start applying this advice to our lives, we actually have to score that internship or job. With an endless stream of applications flooding HR offices, how do you differentiate yourself? Besides having a personalized application, make sure to send out ‘thank you’ notes. Send them after your interview so you remain a front-runner in the company’s mind. As another tip, consider becoming involved in your community before the interview stage. Volunteer, help out with nonprofits and immerse yourself in the culture of your surroundings.
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes along. Be involved with your office, and your first year in the public relations industry is sure to be a success.
As a parting thought, one of the questions that was not asked: What is one thing that you wish you knew either during college or after graduating about the field that you know now?
-by Brittany Ray, Regional Conference Social Media Committee Leader
Brittany Ray was the social media coordinator of the Southeast Regional Conference. Now that it’s over, she is hoping to further her involvement in UA PRSSA. Want to chat? Email her at email@example.com.
Edelman Atlanta General Manager Engages Consumers with "Earned-Centric, Digital by Design" Principle
The general manager of the Edelman Atlanta office mesmerized attendees at The University of Alabama PRSSA Southeastern Regional Conference with her presentation on the changing food industry in the new millennium on Jan. 29.
Alicia Thompson, an extraordinary public relations professional with 24 years of experience in the industry, exemplified the conference’s theme of ‘innovating tradition’ by explaining how the Atlanta Edelman office is implementing a new principle: “earned-centric, digital by design.” This shift to a communication marketing approach means that Edelman wants to authentically engage the customer and make sure its campaigns can be picked up by the media and marketed through different channels.
Thompson explained how marketing today is no longer one-directional. She said that professionals must know that communication is two-way, and they must find which channel is most relevant to pinpointing their target audience and making sure that their message gets through to the consumer.
“We’re human,” Thompson said. “Our ability to absorb that infinite content is finite.”
Specifically applying the Edelman approach to the food industry, Thompson said that food is “glocal” and now takes on different meanings.
“I’m a foodie; you’ll have to excuse me,” Thompson chuckled.
Thompson referenced Edelman’s current Arby’s case study. Edelman took on Arby’s as a client in 2012 because the company was looking for a way to become relevant again. The firm asked itself the question, “What is the best way to reach our audience in the new millenia?”
Through research, the Edelman team found that the Arby’s core consumers were meat-lovers. They needed to amplify this demographic and also attract people who no longer thought of Arby’s as their pit-stop for fast food.
Thompson took a counter-intuitive approach to promoting Arby’s brown-sugar bacon. She asked, “Who is least likely to support bacon?”
The answer was vegetarians. To achieve the earned-centric goal, the campaign used vegetarians to help tell a story of meat lovers. It was unusual and funny, which attracted the media on multiple platforms.
The campaign included writing a one-page apology letter to vegetarians that stated Arby’s was sorry if any vegetarians gave in to eating Arby’s bacon because it is so irresistible.
The news was first broken by Time magazine. Eventually, the story was covered on “Good Morning America” and featured on YouTube. A meat helpline was also set up. Because the message was accessible on so many channels, the media picked it up and ran with it.
The campaign was extremely successful, with over 19,000 calls, 15,000 voicemails and 22 million media impressions in a 30-day period.
Thompson emphasized that this campaign could have been taken the wrong way by some audiences and that it is always important to have a crisis plan in case things go awry. Thompson’s memorable presentation on the constantly changing food industry and how public relations practitioners can go about adapting to it was definitely a favorite at the Southeastern Regional Conference.
What part of Thompson’s advice did you find most resonating? Do you think other public relations firms will start implementing similar approaches to campaigns? How will a marketing-communication approach shape the future of public relations?
-by Sydney Denninger, PRSSA Member from the University of Florida
Sydney Denninger is a sophomore PRSSA member at the University of Florida. Connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highlighting the power of storytelling, Rick Looser, president and COO of the Cirlot Agency Inc., engaged an audience of aspiring public relations entrepreneurs at The University of Alabama’s Southeastern Regional Conference. Looser shared insight on how to transition from thinking like a boss to becoming one.
Looser provided seven tips for achieving success as a professional and future business leader with insightful personal experiences that he's witnessed along his professional journey. Starting with passion and ending with approach, Looser’s seven points prepared attendees to build a future of entrepreneurial success.
Compelling stories illustrated each of Looser’s tips and provided realistic examples of how to implement them to achieve success. With the knowledge that many of the students in the room may be calling the shots one day, Looser offered advice given to new hires at the Cirlot Agency that resonates whether you are transitioning into a new company or welcoming a client.
“Be fired with enthusiasm or you will be fired with enthusiasm,” he said.
While there is not a roadmap to success as an entrepreneur, Looser hinted at the first step during the opening of the session and ended his talk with the same advice.
“Find something you’re passionate about and have the passion to pursue it,” he said.
Career advice can be valuable at any stage of employment, from entry level to highly experienced. Continue the conversation online by sharing any valuable advice you’ve received from entrepreneurs or business leaders. For more information on the Cirlot Agency, visit www.cirlot.com.
-by Jasmine Tate, PRSSA Member at The University of Southern Mississippi
Jasmine C. Tate is a student at The University of Southern Mississippi pursuing a Master of Science in Public Relations. She is the founder of the Southeastern Louisiana University Chapter and current president at USM. Connect with her on social media @Jasminectate.
Hi everyone! I’m Abby Tecza, a junior majoring in public relations here at The University of Alabama. This past summer I completed an 11-week internship at Phil & Co., a boutique marketing and communications agency located in New York. I was one of three PR interns and learned so much.
Below you will find 10 things that I learned during my internship. For those of you who haven’t had an internship yet, I hope you find this helpful!
1.) Ask questions. You aren't going to know everything, and don't try to say you do. Ask questions to both your peers and mentors.
2.) Make drafts, take notes—lots of notes—and always ask someone to review your work before you hit send or publish.
3.) Make friends, not enemies! Yes, you want to stand out amongst the crowd, but you don't have to be super competitive or rude to your peers. Having friends in the office not only means fun lunch breaks, but it also means having people to support you.
4.) Ask if people outside of your department need any assistance. If you don't have any work to do in your department, go outside of your comfort zone, and learn something new!
5.) Keep an ongoing list of what you've been doing and what you've learned. Each day I made a list of everything I did and anything that I learned. This way I could update my résumé and LinkedIn accordingly. It also means that when I go to apply for my next internship or job, I'll be able to say exactly what I did during my previous internship and not stutter around or be vague.
6.) Don't be vague--always be super specific, even with your mistakes. You should always say exactly what you did wrong. You shouldn't try to cover it up. Just be honest because, while it's cliché, everyone makes mistakes!
7.) Update your professors. If they helped you land your internship, stay in contact with them. Whether they gave you a recommendation, connected you with the right people or looked over your résumé time and time again, they are going to want to know how you're doing!
8.) Nobody likes a grumpy intern, so be positive and smile!
9.) Be excited. Coming to work every day with the thought of getting a new project or attending an event should excite you. If not, you should reconsider what you want to do in the long term.
10 .) Stay in touch with your bosses! You never know what connections to other companies they might have and it’s likely that you will need a recommendation from them.
-by Abby Tecza, General Member
All blogs are written by general members of UAPRSSA and Capstone Agency.