Hofstra PRSSA Introduces Students to Government PR

At Hofstra PRSSA’s common hour meeting, members had the opportunity to hear from David Chauvin, Director of Public Relations at Zimmerman Edelson, Inc.  David, a graduate of Hofstra himself, specializes in government PR and shared a wealth of knowledge and some great anecdotes with the students.

For several attendees, this was the first they had ever heard about the government sector of public relations, and although many may never have a hand in creating a political campaign (or even, unfortunately, set foot in a polling place) David’s advice was relevant and interesting for anyone looking to pursue a career in the public relations industry.

Tip #1: It is still essential to read print

This does not mean you should immediately delete your Twitter and deactivate your Facebook account (more on that in Tip #2).  On the other hand, you must balance your consumption of digital and traditional media.  David urged students to pick up a newspaper whenever they could get their hands on one.  He explained that print publications set the agenda for the day, so it is crucial that you read, understand, and have an opinion on what these outlets are reporting on.

Tip #2: You are expected to know social media

Thirty years ago, knowing how to type may have been a precious skill but today it is an ordinary prerequisite for most jobs.  Similarly, being a Gen-Yer who is proficient in all things social media is no longer impressive but rather, expected by job recruiters.  David informed us that employers expect students to be active on these platforms and to understand how they work.

Tip #3: Keep showing up, keeping asking for responsibility

This tip is especially pertinent for those of you who are currently interning, or who plan on interning ever (so all of you).  I am a firm believer that when it comes to an internship experience: you get out what you put in.  In David’s example, he was a volunteer who was not initially given much responsibility.  Once he began showing up on a regular basis, and continued to do so, he was given much more challenging and rewarding tasks.  As an intern, always ask for additional projects, and be specific.  If you want more experience writing press releases, just ask!  Your superiors will notice your eagerness and you will receive greater responsibility and a much more worthwhile learning experience.

Tip #4: The public wants information to find them

This piece of advice is applicable for students pursuing a career in any sector of the industry.  It is important to know your audience, and to reach them in places that they frequent.  They no longer want to have to search for information; they want it to find them.  This is where social media can play a huge role.  Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking and micro blogging sites allow companies to reach consumers and talk with them, rather than at them.  Don’t just spew out information and promote your brand (or yourself), join the conversation and become a reliable and trusted source of information.

Rebecca Wool
PRSSA 

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The Must Read Bible: Be Your Own Best Publicist

“Without promotion something terrible happens…Nothing!” – P.T. Barnum

Indeed, what a terrible thing that would be for us PR majors- and hopefully one day great PR professionals- if there was no promotion. Companies, organizations, places, products and even people need promotion like a fish needs water. PR professionals use techniques and strategies to help improve the images of these companies and have become an essential part of their business. Everyone needs a publicist, even you. Yes, I said you. It is a reality that at this moment- with the way things are going in this economy- standing out is critical in this competitive job market. You must be wondering, how can I afford to have a publicist? Well, you can be your own publicist; in fact you can be your own best publicist.

Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper are both PR pros who have been in the industry for a combined 30-plus years. Both women realized that even though there were books out that talked about ‘selling yourself’ or even ‘branding yourself’ there really weren’t any books out there talking about building your own personal image from a public relations perspective. Together they have written Be Your Own Best Publicist which is full of tips on how to make yourself stand out using public relations techniques.

The setup of this book is to clearly show you how to do three major things when being your own  best publicist and that is to prepare, project and protect. Here is a small recap about the book:

Prepare “A goal without a plan is a wish.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  • In order to reach that professional image you want you must build a plan to guide you to your goal. Try building that plan backwards because without knowing where you want to be you won’t know how to get there.
  •  Once you have set those goals it is a good idea to set deadlines. It will help you push yourself to accomplish them and even if you miss the date you can move it to a new one.
  •   There is nothing more important when developing a plan than having a back-up plan, or several.
  • You should strive to be a know-it-all, but the good kind. Doing your research before meeting a potential employer is critical to feeling comfortable when talking to them. “There’s a reason why Google is a verb.”
  • Also, do a little soul searching. You must be able to know yourself- skills, attributes, qualities- and know what makes you, you. Without knowing yourself how will others know you?

Project “Your network is truly your net worth.”

  •  Building a strong network and cultivating those personal connections is a key element of success in any industry.
  •  “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” -JFK   This is especially true when you’re making contacts. Always try to do something for them, hopefully in the future they will reciprocate.
  •  Additionally, you need to be aware of what you wear, how you look and how you present yourself aesthetically. You don’t need to be the best-looking or best-dressed just make a statement- a good one- because how you present yourself speaks volumes of who you are.
  • Break though the clutter! Try to stay at the top of someones mind whether it be by staying in contact or showing your achievements – in a non bothersome way- you don’t want to get lost in the crowd.

Protect “You shouldn’t put anything down in writing that you wouldn’t want published on the front page of the New York Times.” – Unknown

  • Self-promotion is a very important part and you want to be remembered for the right reasons. Being consistently late, wearing inappropriate attire or even acting improper is not the image you want to send out to people. Be aware of how you put yourself out there.
  • Never underestimate the power of a thank you note, especially a handwritten one.
  •  Be aware of your social media reputation and what you put out there whether it be a comment about work or where you check in on Fours Square. One thing is for sure, HR people are going to google everything they can about you.
  • “Anything you say and do can and may be used against you in the court of public opinion.” With phones that take great pictures and have great film quality anything you do can be up on flicker or youtube in a heartbeat.
  •  Problem-solving should be your middle name. When a problem arises don’t see the negative side but view the opportunities that could arise from the situation.

And there you have it, a small recap of the book which contains hundreds of more tips and advice on bettering yourself for the professional world. “Be Your Own Best Publicist” is not your father’s dusty old business book. It is a relatable, inspiring and great insight into the public relations world while helping you discover how to put your best foot forward into the professional world. The book is quite amusing and contains great personal stories from the co-authors themselves- one of my favorites involves an Irish stew and Conan O’Brien incident- and various other stories from different professionals. I highly recommend this book to people who wish to obtain great insight into the public relations world and what it takes to make yourself stand out in the crowd.

Shirley Huyhua
Agency Staff Member