Be the Leader: Motivate and Compliment

A few weeks ago I traveled to Baltimore (by Amtrak! woo!) for the Eastern Communications Association Conference at the Hyatt representing Hofstra University, PRSSA, and PRestige Agency.  I was registered as a speaker for the “Charting New Directions for PRSSA: Innovators, Explorations, and Adventures” along with other communications students.  The panel itself turned into a casual dialogue about the  frustration that all student-run organizations face: motivating other students.  As the VP of Development, Recruitment, and Media for PRestige Agency, I have had my fair share of challenges this past year.  After being asked what I thought were required qualities in a leader, I answered that not only does a leader need to be motivational, organized, and professional, they must serve as a mentor for younger students.  Students in undergrad are looking for advice and they turn to their peers first.  A strong leader is some one that others want to emulate, and it comes down to having a balance between the professional and personal.

Today was my last day of class at Hofstra University.  I graduate on May 16th with Latin Honors Distinction, an Associate Honors Degree,  a full resume, and much more wisdom than when I first walked onto campus four years ago.  Time and time again, I have been challenged to stand true to my identity and beliefs, defending myself and demanding respect when necessary, and learning to extinguish conflict when it approaches.  To my friends graduating, I would like to know if you can imagine your first day as a freshman, if you had any idea of what you were going achieve in the  following years.  I cannot.  I am astounded, dumbfounded and proud of what I have accomplished.

This past week I had to find my successor for my Vice President position.  Interested candidates emailed their resumes and cover letters and had an interview a few days after.  I based my decision on the strengths of the two candidates and if the position would allow them to build upon their existing talents.  Not only am I very excited and happy about the decision, but I cannot wait to see what next year’s E-board will do.  During both  interviews I discussed what I thought were necessary habits when dealing with people.  By coincidence, my advice was influenced by  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (a purchase made after my friend Emily Meithner raved about it).

Because you should buy the book yourself, here is simply a tidbit.

Fundamental Techniques In Handling People

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

    It never helps to surround yourself with negativity.  People will always respond much better when you praise their strengths, not criticize their faults.  The time and energy spent complaining about a situation is time and energy wasted.  Save yourself the heartache and stress, become more positive and use your time otherwise spent complaining constructively.

  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.

    No one can ever tackle a project by themselves.  In a collaborative effort, every person involved is valuable to the team.  There have been times when I have been so frustrated about  a campaign with PRestige, I wanted nothing more than to throw up my hands and give up.  However, with the motivation I received from my team and their unending dedication, everything was accomplished.  When you recognize and appreciate some one else’s work, they will continue to perform at a high level.  At this time, I want to thank Alyssa Bertuzzi, Nick Schweers, Aqlesia Sahle, Marise Montrose and Hilary Franklin, members of next year’s E-board and committee for last fall’s “PRestige One Year Anniversary”, from the bottom of my heart.  Without your ingenuity and dedication, nothing I wanted to accomplish this year would have happened.  I am so proud to see how you have all taken on your positions with such enthusiasm. To feel that I have had some influence on you is one of the things I am most proud of in my career at Hofstra.  I am more than confident to leave something I have worked on for three years in your hands.

  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

    You will hear more people saying “you can’t” than “you can”.  Less people will want to see you succeed than those who don’t care one way or the other.  The only person you can hold responsible for your achievement is yourself.  When some one tells me something is impossible or too difficult, my stubbornness makes me want to prove them wrong.  I like challenges because they test you, and if you meet that challenge, you will reap the benefits.  The most driven people are the same way.  They see a problem and they want to solve it.  People who are smart, thoughtful and inquisitive will need to be mentally stimulated.  So challenge other people constructively, more so that they can grow from it.

to read more of this entry and Reb Carlson’s “thank you speech”, check out her blog

Perspective from PROpenMic

As I’m writing this, I am sitting on the balcony of my sister’s apartment in Chicago, where I am being a freeloader for the summer.

As of now, I have twelve dollars in my account, a CTA card with seven rides on it, and a Cliff Bar to my name.

I have been searching for a part-time job for the past three weeks, but due to sheer bad luck (and the odds of many people searching for extra jobs to make ends meet), I have yet to declare one as my own.

What I do have is a stellar internship with a creative, experimental yet tactful event marketing firm called All Terrain.  According to Willy Frazen’s One Day One Internship , not only do they have an “impressive client list of companies”, but they have been doing great promotions work for over ten years.  It is a great opportunity (though unpaid)  to say the least.  I will learn about event promotions, a dab of marketing here, a dab of social media there, a tidbit of avertising, and some public relations for good measure.  The firm’s office has a great atmosphere and is the type of environment any recent grad would love to work in: cool, hip, laidback, but overflowing with savvy knowledge.

While it is sure to be a great experience that will speak volumes next year when I  search for my first job, friends and family have asked if it’s worth sacrificing my summer, living off of limited means, essentially working for free.  I think about my insecurities in the past few years about whether I picked the right field, whether all the internships and hard work I put forth will be worth it in the end.  Whether I should follow my friends in anthropology and go to Cambodia after graduation.  I can’t even imagine my friends who have graduated and what must be going on in thier heads as they begin the unbearable search of finding an entry level  job at a pr firm during a recession.

It’s times like these that we have to think about what meaning and purpose we will find in a field that – at times – can prove anything but.  A few days ago I came across a post on PROpenMic by Ashley Turner.   She was given an assignment to write a letter to her parents explaining what public relations is.  I think it is a great reminder of why we chose PR as our field – to help encourage change in the world, to bring a story to light, or fight for a worthy cause.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Anything that you’ve seen in the media about public relations, toss it out the window. This is not the slimy job that is only for “bimbos” that you’ve seen on television or in movies, but this is a great job where I can do some good for our city.

You know how there are all those campaigns out there about not drinking and driving? Thanks to public relations it is widely known not to do that and why. And how I knew that Clemson was a good school to go to? Public relations can be thanked for that as well. One aspect of PR is communication between the public and an organization. Like how downtown Greer is being revamped? The websites that contain information and everything else we’re being told about what they want downtown Greer to look like was basically constructed by public relations. They helped the city council form an advertising campaign for the construction and got the word out to the city about it. It’s not just a profession about spinning bad stories and making them seem okay, like trying to explain away an oil spill. It’s more like getting the idea out there that carpooling is better for our economy and recycling is the way to go now.

Any type of information that an organization wants the public to know about can be transferred via a PR practitioner’s idea; such as word of mouth, commercials, websites, blogs, pamphlets, etc. They not only make sure the public receives the information they need to know, but they are expected to “play a constructive role in society” (Guth and Marsh, 2007, p. 7). Having this job means that I am going to be providing a service that you guys don’t even realize you need; you knew where to vote the first time because a public relations practitioner made sure everyone in Greenville county knew by putting the information somewhere they would find it (online, in the DMV, etc.).

If you’re worried that the only job I can find is working for a big, sleazy company, have no fear. There are jobs for public relations practitioners at nonprofit organizations (Greenpeace, YMCA, Habitat for Humanity), public relations agencies (there are even some in Greenville), and any organization that needs a practitioner to help manage their image (or “brand” their image) and set up communications between the company and the public. Corporations offer the largest variety of jobs for a person in public relations, ranging from employee relations (newsletters, memos, company events, etc.) to media relations (speechwriting, news conferences, media kits, etc.) to community relations (keeping up a relationship between the company and the community by helping out groups in the community, fund raising activities and special events). And those are just a few of the jobs I could get.

I know you guys worry about me, especially in this economy, but the fact is there are endless possibilities for a job in public relations and I’ve got a degree in Communications from Clemson. Forget about it, I’ve got a job.

Love you guys,