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Anne-a-Grams

August 23, 2016

Surviving the World of PR

By John Reynolds, 10:35 am

“Survivor” recently announced the cast for its upcoming 33rd season, which premieres September 21. Before I go any further, I’ll answer your question. Yes, “Survivor” is still on the air.

Any time I tell people I’m a die-hard “Survivor” fan (I’ve tried out for the show multiple times and may use this blog post to try out again), I almost always get a response along the lines of, “Oh, that show is still on?” “Survivor” began as a social experiment, having strangers coexist and survive on their own in the wild, and it has since grown into one of CBS Network’s most successful TV series. As I’ve binge-watched old seasons in anticipation of the season premiere – along with my daily dreams of winning the title of “Soul Survivor” – I’ve started to notice some parallels between being successful on Survivor and in public relations. Here are some of the key characteristics shared by successful “Survivor” players and PR professionals.

First Impressions – On “Survivor,” you’re placed in a tribe with a group of strangers. First impressions are crucial here, because in a game where those strangers decide your fate, you want everyone to see your value. You can’t come off as too aggressive or bossy, but you also don’t want to be too quiet or distant. In PR, whether you’re meeting a client for the first Johnny Aug Pictime, pitching a potential new client, or reaching out to a reporter, that first impression can make or break the relationship. You need to show that you are knowledgeable, approachable and trustworthy, so a reporter will be open to working with you in the future, and clients – new and old – can trust you to handle their business.

Strategy – Being strategic is a focal point of “Survivor” and public relations. The worst thing to do on the show is to run around like a chicken with its head chopped off – and that’s not because the starving contestants will want to eat you. To advance far in the game, you need to develop a proper strategy with respect to whom you’re going to target, when to look for a hidden immunity idol, or even who will go on a reward with you. Each decision you make ultimately decides your fate in the game. PR professionals are similar in that a proper strategy is needed for a successful campaign. We don’t go around sending unsolicited pitches to every reporter with an available email. We take the time to research and develop in-depth media lists to target the proper reporters for each particular pitch.

Timing – Building off strategy, timing is a crucial part of public relations and “Survivor” that will greatly impact a plan, no matter how much strategy is put into it. Survivor is all about making a big move, but timing that move correctly is pivotal to its success. Do you take out a big player too early, leaving yourself as the biggest threat? Do you tell people who you’re voting for too early, giving that person time to flip the vote? Likewise, in PR, timing a pitch could be the deciding factor between success or failure. PR pros need to stay up-to-date on the latest headlines and news stories, as well as what reporters are covering, so that a pitch is relevant but will also not be overshadowed by a more prominent event. Additionally, we need to consider the time when we’re sending a pitch. Is it a Friday afternoon in August? The Monday after a holiday weekend? Proper timing, in both “Survivor” or public relations, is key.

Alliances – In “Survivor,” it’s called an alliance. In PR, we might refer to it as a relationship. Either way, the end goal is the same. Alliances have become one of the show’s trademarks. To be successful, you need a solid alliance built on trust. Wavering between groups will constantly leave you on the bottom of the totem pole, and most likely, the first one they’ll vote out when it comes time is you. While you’re not necessarily forming an alliance, PR pros need to build successful relationships with reporters. Similar to “Survivor” alliances, these are built on trust. Giving the reporter quality information and quick access to knowledgeable sources will build this trust, and opens the doors for future work. If you’re constantly slow in answering emails, offering sources who are unavailable or providing lackluster information, the reporter will vote you off his or her Rolodex.

Perseverance – There might not be a quality more visible in a “Survivor” winner and PR professional. Survivors must battle Mother Nature, who might reveal herself in the form of extreme heat, torrential downpours or vicious wildlife, as well as compete in challenges testing their physical and mental abilities, all while living on minimal food and water. They must do all this while attempting to maintain alliances and not ruffle any feathers. In PR, you can spend all day working on a pitch and building the perfect media list, only to get zero replies. Or better yet, you get a snarky response from a reporter questioning you on your pitch. Good PR professionals will not let this discourage them, though. They will rework the pitch, make a new list and continue looking for a successful connection.

Are you a die-hard “Survivor” fan too? Or do you see parallels between your favorite TV series and your work? Let us know in the comments. And before I finish, I think there’s only one line that can truly close a “Survivor” themed blog post: The blog post has spoken.

August 16, 2016

Public Relations vs. Journalism

By Amanda Mueller, 3:56 pm

It’s 10:30 a.m. in the newsroom, and our newscast has just wrapped up. That’s when the calls start. My phone lights up, as pitches and press releases begin to pop up in my inbox. I wonder what it’s like to live the life of a PR representative – to supply information and connect sources with the reporter, instead of delivering the finished story to the viewer from the TV screen.

That was a year ago. The truth is, I didn’t know what a public relations executive actually did.

Now, I am one.Amanda Aug Pic

As someone who crossed the bridge from broadcast journalism to public relations, my professional world can be a messy one. Lines blur for me on a daily basis when it comes to decisions regarding story angles and writing style. I still hesitate to pick up the phone or press “send” on emails to a journalist when I know she’s on a strict deadline. I have seen the reaction in the newsroom over an ill-timed pitch firsthand.

I know that journalists and public relations professionals are frequently at odds and frustrated with each other, but the truth is, we need each other. A deeper understanding of the different challenges we face would go a long way toward generating better content and cultivating improved relationships.

Product Reception
In journalism, your worth is counted in ratings and clicks. It doesn’t matter if your viewers don’t like your final product, as long as they react. There is a certain luxury in printing the facts and not ultimately having to care about your critics. In public relations, your success depends on your clients’ satisfaction with the coverage of their story. If the client is not happy, your job is not done.

Information Control
When I was a journalist, I lived with the assumption that if I dug far enough, I could find all the information on my own. Once I entered the world of public relations and crisis management, I was shocked to realize how much information regarding prominent litigation exists but never makes it to a news desk, simply because the media hasn’t asked the right questions. The fact is, journalists aren’t the only watchdogs in the information world, and a healthy working relationship between reporters and PR professionals would benefit news consumers greatly.

Deadlines
Journalists have daily, sometimes hourly, deadlines that they meet each day. The rush is best explained by comparing it to a roller coaster—the steady ascent as you go through editorial meetings and collect your sources, and then a midday freefall as you struggle to make your interviews and execute your story before your print or on-air hit time. It is an adrenaline and caffeine-fueled world, but each day brings a finite end to the rush. PR deadlines are a different beast entirely. Oftentimes, it is a waiting game until that story is approved or that crisis call comes through… and then you are off and running. Deadlines in public relations are not fixed; you often work on a story or crisis until the issue is resolved, which can be days or months.

At the end of the day, there is a reason the crossover rate between PR and journalism is so high, because we share more characteristics than differences. Both jobs require tenacity, a way with words, and most importantly, thick skin. Oftentimes, it’s the interactions with each other that leave us needing that last thing the most.

Let’s work to close that gap, and create better content for everyone.

August 4, 2016

Design and PR

By Staff, 9:37 am

–Laura Tabbut

On my first day at Buchanan Public Relations as the agency’s first-ever Graphic Design Intern, I wasn’t really sure what I would be doing for the company. Of course I did my research on PR firms and discussed general ideas for what I would be doing in my interview, but I was still unsure how design would fit into the PR world. Now, after a couple of months working here, I see that design has a perfect place in public relations.

There are many facets of PR that greatly benefit from graphic design. Here are a few I’ve noticed during my internship.Laura Aug Pic

  • Social media posts – Making a memorable social media post often involves an image, especially with the popularity of Instagram. A graphic designer can make an original image that suits exactly what you want to convey (without using ugly clipart).
  • Presentations – Whether it’s for a media training session, a potential client or internal meetings, a clean, professional, interesting PowerPoint presentation makes a huge difference in how the information is remembered.
  • Websites – The first thing someone will do when researching your – or your client’s – business is scope out the website, so it must be perfect. Not only should it look nice, the user experience must be seamless, so the user does not get frustrated with the site. These are things graphic designers are always thinking about and could be overlooked by someone in a different field.
  • And many more – While I’ve been at Buchanan, I’ve created animations and designed flyers and audit reports, all things that I didn’t expect to be doing at a PR firm. It goes to show there are many areas where design can be utilized for PR.

Graphic design and PR go hand-in-hand. With these two fields combined, there are many more options for you to offer to your clients, thus expanding and improving business. How does your company use graphic design? Let us know in the comments.

July 28, 2016

Philadelphia – Complex, Historic and Beautiful – Welcomes the DNC to Town

By Staff, 3:42 pm

–Anne Buchanan

The Democratic National Convention’s selection of Philadelphia for its historic convention this week is no accident. A city often overlooked between the towering shadows of New York City and Washington, D.C., Philadelphia offers convention-goers and watchers a unique experience.

For starters, its historical pedigree is second to none. The fifth largest city in the U.S. and the second largest on the East Coast behind New York City, Philadelphia is considered the birthplace of the nation. Right smack in the middle of the original 13 colonies, it played a pivotal role in the American Revolution. It was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution in 1787. Philadelphia twice served as the nation’s capital.

In addition to its key role in the birth of the United States, Philadelphia is also a distinctly Democratic city. Democrats outnumber Republicans 7:1. The state of Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992.Anne July Pic 2

Former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Karen Heller, who now writes for the Washington Post, wrote an excellent piece on her former city in which she describes Philadelphia as:

“…more complicated, more beautiful and verdant, more interesting, more more than outsiders believe it is. Philadelphia is a secret of a big city, one that often acts like a small one. It’s perpetually underrated. It is Washington’s opposite: friendly, passionate, muscular, a bit rough, huge of heart and frequently thin on ambition.”

Here are one insider’s thoughts on some of the Philadelphia stories beyond the Liberty Bell.

Big City Challenges. As one of the nation’s largest cities, Philadelphia is Exhibit A in the challenges facing American cities. Its poverty rate is the highest in the nation. Our public schools have struggled for years. Out-of-towners are often shocked by the number of homeless. But it can be a surprisingly creative city, too: The new Mayor just pushed through the nation’s first tax on sodas and sugary drinks, which will fund a pre-school initiative.

A Distinct Attitude (pronounced Atty-tood). From its dialect (native Philadelphians refer to water as “wooder”) to its sports passion (Philadelphians are equally invested in loving and hating their own sports teams), Philadelphia displays a common-man grittiness that is embodied in the overdone but universally recognized figure of Rocky.

Meds and Eds. For all of its unvarnished authenticity, Philadelphia is also home to an astounding number of colleges and universities (nearly 90, with the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania the city’s largest employer) and medical institutions. Its Children’s Hospital is one of the highest ranked hospitals in the nation.

A Town for Foodies. When you mention Philadelphia, many think of cheesesteaks. But the city is known for much more than that. Its restaurant scene is vibrant. And when PRGN members visited Philadelphia a decade ago, they were enchanted by Reading Terminal Market, the nation’s oldest, continuously operating farmer’s market and home to more than 100 food vendors.

Thriving Journalism. In a widely watched move, Philadelphia’s two daily newspapers and its shared website were donated earlier this year to a newly created non-profit intended to protect the entities through the digital age. But my favorite journalism story coming out of the Convention is this journalism class at Temple University, where 20 students are serving as correspondents this week for small papers that could not afford to send a reporter to cover the DNC.

This marks the second time in a year that the world’s eyes are on Philadelphia (the Pope visited last September). Even though Philadelphians can be notoriously hard on their own city, there is still great pride in throwing open the doors and welcoming the DNC to our hometown.

This post originally appeared on the Public Relations Global Network blog.

July 21, 2016

Happy Campers: What We Learned at WordCamp NYC 2016

By Staff, 4:18 pm

–Anne Buchanan and Jon Ericson

This past weekend, the two of us had the opportunity to attend WordCamp NYC 2016, a gathering of WordPress users and developers from all over the world. The two-day conference was held at the U.N., which was a mighty cool venue for an equally cool event.

The conference had two tracks – one for developers and one for users – which, in theory, worked perfectly for our Director of Technology and our agency President. In reality, though, there was quite a bit of spill-over in the sessions.

Anne July Pic

Director of Technology Jon and President Anne at WordCamp NYC 2016

Anne received education on the all-volunteer force behind WordPress. As open-source software, WordPress is “owned” by the non-profit WordPress Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, and managed by its community of users, who are continuously making upgrades and improvements to the platform. The entire weekend was about sharing – best practices, tools and tips, and new ideas. The experience made Anne feel even better about both using and recommending WordPress to our clients.

For Jon, it is always a treat to see the direction of the software, talk to the major code contributors, and receive insight into the successes and failures before they appear in the trade publications. People often reveal more in person than what appears in sanitized articles in forums and trade publications.

Here are some highlights of the conference:

  • We attended an outstanding presentation entitled “Content Strategy from Discovery to Wireframes.” As anyone who’s worked on one knows, developing a new website can be a landmine for disaster. The presenter shared her in-depth and meticulous approach to website planning and development. Two of our favorite takeaways: Test the site on actual users (“Any human is better than no testing at all!”), and use note cards you can move around as you are laying out a site’s architecture.
  • Our conviction that video will continue to explode as a communications platform was reinforced by a presentation entitled “So You Think You Can’t Video?” The presenter turned to video when she realized she hated to write, making blogging a pipe dream for her small business. She produces all of her own videos using just her I-Phone, free editing software, and a modest, $250 investment in a tripod and a light.
  • On the developer track, we learned about some of the experiences integrating popular JavaScript libraries and frameworks into the PHP based architecture of WordPress. This is cutting edge stuff. The successes and failures will influence what eventually will become incorporated into the “core” of WordPress in the future. Since WordPress comprises over 26% of all sites on the internet, this insight helps us make better informed decisions in where to spend precious resources today.
  • There are always the classic sessions that never go out of style, where even long time WordPress web designers can learn a tip or two. Examples were Internet Typography, A/B Testing, and Security Practices, to name just a few.
  • One of the most intriguing insights of the weekend came from the “Content Distribution & Platforms 101” presentation. The presenter shared a number of recent studies, including one that reports 80 percent of Buzzfeed’s readership comes from platforms other than its own website, which prompted this question from the audience: “How much longer will websites still matter?” The room burst into animated chatter; this was a shocking question posed at a conference where nearly everyone is in the business of building and maintaining websites.

For Jon – a software development manager – WordCamp was a continuation of a long and rewarding relationship with the WordPress community. For Anne, this was her first introduction to the community and spirit behind WordPress. We both walked away with some new ideas and a renewed appreciation for this vibrant and giving community.

If you’re curious about this community, there are more than 700 WordPress Meetup groups (http://www.meetup.com/topics/wordpress/) and still a few WordCamps remaining this year (http://central.wordcamp.org/). Give one a try. You won’t be disappointed.

July 19, 2016

Networking in Normalville

By Staff, 10:14 am

– Kate DiBiase

Within minutes of leaving home, I merged with caution, too much caution, to the point that I was almost creamed by a truck that had no intention of moving out of my way. My drive to Philly was stressful, clearly visible by my white-knuckles and flexed, 90 degree arms. Normalville, PA: population of just over 2,000. Never have I had to park on a street, let alone parallel park into a tight spot in a busy area. This summer I set out to not only learn something about myself, but to do something that scared me.

First, you may be wondering how a girl from a small town in Western Pennsylvania ended up at a PR agency just outside of Philadelphia. Well, in a town 15 minutes from my home, a very popular yoga class is taught by a man with a witty personality and a talent for making hot yoga fun. My mother and her friends, all regulars at this class, keep their eyes open for new-comers, so they can show them the ropes and invite them to join in the weekly ritual of going to the pub after every Thursday class.Kate July Pic

One day a few months ago, they saw a new woman joining the class and made a point to invite her to the pub afterwards. And who was this newcomer? It was none other than Buchanan Public Relations President Anne Buchanan. As Anne discussed what she did, my mother’s friends made remarks about how their friend (my mother) had a daughter who loved public relations and happened to be looking for an internship. The seed was planted, and before I knew it, I found myself driving down a busy street looking for a spot to parallel park, so I could get to bed before the first day of my internship.

While I have been taking public relations classes, I still had the impression that I would be lacking certain skills that perhaps the other interns had learned already. This of course was just an assumption, based on no facts, and I was wrong. I have more valuable skills than I thought and it turns out that the unknown is a great place to learn something about yourself.

Small-Talk is your friend

Establishing relationships is a skill that dates back to primal times. Still, some of us are better communicators than others. Yes, the business world is serious, and yes you need to bring your a-game, but at the end of the day, a personal conversation is something to be enjoyed and will be something you remember. Knowing a handful of personal details about your coworkers’ lives outside of their work will in turn make working with them more enjoyable. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your coworkers, so it’s these small conversations daily that will eventually lead to stronger relationships and a better, more cohesive team.

If you don’t know yourself, how will someone else?

Think of yourself as a brand. What makes you different? What is it that you have to offer? Luckily for me, my mother’s friends know me almost as well as she does. So when the initial small talk happened, I had someone answering with what they have learned about me over the years. I am still learning about myself, but this first internship has helped me step out of my comfort zone and think about what I actually have to offer and what I need to develop. Being confident in the skills you do have and being open to improving in areas where you’re not quite as strong, will help your coworkers find projects that allow you to excel, as well as assignments that challenge you to be better.

Networking doesn’t have to be a formal event

Networking is essential for any career, and as I have learned, connections come from the most unexpected places. Whether you are at an organized event or in the grocery store – or even at a yoga class – be open to talking to those around you. The Public Relations field is one that places heavy importance on who you know, so always make sure you stay connected to those in your network and are open to meeting new people.

Have you ever been in a challenging position while in a brand new place? If so, comment below.

July 12, 2016

Public Relations During Times of Tragedy

By Nicole Lasorda, 10:55 am

PR during tragedyOne thing I’ve learned in my 15+ years of PR is that as professionals, we’re skilled at changing our focus at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it’s necessary to go from pitching a feel-good story to crisis mode in a matter of seconds. But during times of tragedy it can be hard to know what’s appropriate. In light of recent events, I thought this might be a good time to have that discussion.

As human beings, we want to be respectful, but as PR representatives, we want to be sure our clients are getting the coverage they seek at all times. So, how do we handle positive outreach amidst sadness when tragedy rips through the nation or a community?

Here are some things to consider:

  • How far-reaching is the tragedy? Is it on a national scale or is it primarily local? If it’s national, it’s best to halt all pitching and posting on social media. If it’s local, it’s generally okay to pitch unaffected areas. Remember to look at more than geography when making this call – it’s more about who the tragedy is affecting than it is the physical location.
  • What are you pitching? Is it a financial/tech story that’s time-sensitive or is it a lifestyle story that’s more evergreen? If yours is one that’s time-sensitive and in a niche space, it’s okay to pitch after the tragedy. If your client represents a lifestyle company or a product, it’s best to wait until the dust settles.
  • What is the scope of the tragedy? If it’s a major catastrophe (a terrorist attack, one where there is a large loss of life or one that is a hot-button topic), it’s likely to last in the news cycle for quite some time and you’ll have to alter your outreach plans. If it’s something that happens on a smaller scale or one that doesn’t affect as many people, you’ll be able to reach out to reporters much sooner. This doesn’t lessen those tragedies that happen on a smaller scale, it’s simply the way the news cycle works.

Now that we’ve gotten through the considerations, here are a few tips to avoid being a #PRFail:

  • When in doubt, don’t pitch anything during a tragedy or immediately after.
  • Don’t use the tragedy as a platform to promote your client.
  • Remember to turn off all social media posts during the tragedy. It’s better to stay silent.
  • Take your cues from the media. Has the coverage subsided? Are the reporters beginning to discuss more than the tragedy and other hard news?

But what are we supposed to do with our downtime? We can’t sit and twiddle our thumbs! Of course, we still need to make sure our clients are getting the service they deserve. So, what can you do to put the time to good use?

Planning and strategy. This is the perfect time to sit down and evaluate the account. What’s working, what can be improved upon? Do research on what competitors and the industry are discussing. Plan for the coming weeks. Get a head start on writing projects. And even finish those pesky to-do items that never seem to get done.

Part of our job is to be sensitive to conditions and to advise our clients on the best course of action. That includes times of tragedy.

Do you have any other tips or considerations?

July 5, 2016

The Many Shades of PR Professionals

By Staff, 10:06 am

– Maggie MacDonald

Like many of my college classmates, I live with constant apprehension about the future. We worry if we’re choosing the right major and whether our career choice will lead to professional success and personal satisfaction. I decided on Public Relations, thinking it was a good fit for someone like me who likes to communicate. I, of course, had my doubts—sometimes I need to shut off from the world and be alone, too. I wondered if there was ever a moment of solitude in the day of a PR professional when they weren’t on the phone with a reporter or meeting with a client.

As an intern with Buchanan Public Relations, I’ve seen how PR can be a welcoming world for extroverted introverts like me. Contrary to the Samantha Jones stereotype, not everyone in PR is crazy bold and outgoing 24/7. I’ve learned that there are many times in a day when the different sides of me can shine.

There are times you must be socially confident.

A large part of a job in public relations is getting media exposure for the client. This means weekly— if not daily – communication with reporters and editors. In these instances, you have to be willing to use your interpersonal skills to build the relationships that will get your client where they want to be. This is when being able to interact confidently with strangers comes in handy.

There are times to let yourself be a social butterfly.

Maggie July PicSomething I wasn’t attuned to from inside the classroom is the amount of teamwork that goes into every project at work. Even when projects are distributed individually, it’s still as if the heart of every member on each account beats as one. A unified team makes for a successful account, and that requires constant communication.  Internal meetings are daily, so being someone who’s easy to get along with is a must.

There are times to be a loner.

Much to my surprise, there are always many hours in the day spent behind the scenes. PR is sometimes seen as a glamorous profession, but in reality, there is a lot of in-depth research that goes into each task. It’s a sharp contrast to alternate between working with others and dedicated solitary, focused work.

While many public relations professionals tend to be more on the outgoing end of the spectrum, there is by no means one stereotypical profile. At the mid-point in my summer internship, I’ve happily learned much more about the industry than I had hoped. I can rest assured that PR is most definitely the right career fit for me.

Have you ever encountered a PR professional that didn’t fit the industry stereotype? Let us know in the comments below!

June 30, 2016

Different Strokes for Different Folks

By Staff, 2:05 pm

–Blair Kahora Cardinal & Megan Keohane

People who are Type A are like vegans or hipsters—they’re confident in their Type A-ness and everyone around them knows it.  Then there are others who are a mix of Type A and Type B, and operate in organized chaos.

Meg: I’m the oldest child, I’ve always been a perfectionist, and while I hate to admit it, I swing more Type A (at least at work).

Blair: I’m like a Tootsie Pop. I’ve got a hard Type A shell, but inside I have a soft Type B center.  I’m Type A in the sense that I’m hugely competitive and take on too much (for example, I started a new job, became president of PRSA Philly, and started my MBA all at the same time), but I’m Type B in the sense that if my desk and inbox look a little overwhelming—and they often do—it doesn’t affect my work flow.

Meg Blair June PicType A behavior tends to be characterized by things like an overachieving nature, becoming irritated by things that slow you down, higher anxiety, needing a plan of action, and a lot of determination. On the flipside, Type B behavior tends to be more relaxed, less competitive, sees the bigger picture, and sometimes includes a messy desk that reflects an active, creative mind.

Most people aren’t clearly defined by just one of these terms, but rather they simply lean more one way than the other.

Depending on which way you sway, you likely have a different organizational preference than someone who sways the opposite way. We’re going to share a few organizational tips for the opposite personalities in the office.

Meg – for those who are more Type A:

  • Organize Physical Files. Each of my clients has two physical folders – one kept on my desk for active, recent items, and another in a file drawer for more historical items that can’t yet be recycled. Every month or so, I’ll go through both folders and transfer things to the drawer and recycle whatever can be tossed. This allows me to have easy access to the active items, yet not lose older files I might need again.
  • Have an Email Filing System. Whenever a new email comes in, one of several things will happen – it’s filed away, deleted or left in my inbox because it requires further action. If left in my inbox, it’s filed as soon as the action is complete. I have a folder for agency and general business-related items, with subfolders for insurance items, agency social media items, etc. Then, each client has its own folder with subfolders for at least emails from reporters and social media, and sometimes more, depending on the client. It hasn’t failed me yet, and I typically know exactly where to find that old email I might need.
  • Keep To-do Lists. Each week, I create a physical list of tasks for that whole week in the same notebook, sorted by client (including agency items). Then, I use a different highlighter for each day of the week and assign tasks to different days – if the task needs to be done at a certain time then it’s assigned as such; if it’s more evergreen, then it’s assigned to a day that’s a little more open. Then each morning, I write the day’s tasks on a marker board right on my desk. This keeps all of my tasks right in front of my face and ensures that I don’t let the ones that aren’t time sensitive slip through the cracks.

In general, I find my “system” works for me, and I’ve heard like personalities in the office organize in a similar fashion. But for opposite personalities, this system can be too much or cumbersome. The most challenging part of the system, however, is allowing for flexibility as unexpected items pop up, as they almost always do.

Blair – for those who are more Type B:

  • Know Your Trigger Points. By nature of working at an agency, I tend to work on several tasks at once. But sometimes as a Type A-B mix, I can unwittingly muddy my work flow. I like to be aware of my trigger points—do I have five websites, seven excel sheets and 15 Word documents open? If so, I evaluate what I really need available at that time and close the majority of those windows, which helps me quickly refocus on the most pressing work.
  • Own Your To-Do Lists. Custom to-do lists are essential for Type A-B; it helps me organize the chaos. Try out a few structures to see what work best for you. I’ve tried hard-copy and excel versions, but what works best for me—combining the creative with the organization—is an electronic, color-coded list. That way it’s fluid, easy to update, and a snap to read at a glance. Most importantly, it allows me to keep track of the highest priority to-dos for each of the nine clients I manage.
  • Harness Your Energy. Sometimes it’s a struggle to find a balance between organization and creativity, but I’d suggest looking at your dual-personality as an opportunity to harness your energy for the good of your clients and your colleagues. Galvanize your motley crew of ideas into results for your clients. Share your struggles and success with like-minded colleagues to encourage them.  Make your energy tangible within the office—others will feed off of it.

Being a Type A-B mix, it’s important to be extraordinarily self-aware. I know my Achilles’ heels and continually check myself to make sure I’m on track.

There’s no right way or wrong way to organize yourself professionally; there’s simply a right way for YOU. Being aware of what works and what doesn’t work for you specifically will help determine which methods will be most effective. We recommend trying things a few different ways before ultimately settling on something that sticks.

What “system” do you have? Let us know!

June 21, 2016

In PR, It’s Much More Than Your Major

By Staff, 10:05 am

-Katie Dillon

As a very determined and decisive student entering my first year of college, I thought I had my whole plan figured out. Tinged with a bit of naivety, I embarked on my journey studying at a very global-centric school in the heart of Washington, DC. Next to my name on every place card I received at orientation read “International Affairs Major.” At the time, it made perfect sense. I was so interested in the way the world worked and how its people communicated with each other, and I wanted to further my understanding and global view. While I still have a passion for international relations, I realized early on that my true passion was really writing.Katie June Pic

I quickly delved into the seemingly endless journalism classes my school had to offer and found a common ground between my love of news, media and writing stories of all sorts. It was mentioned in passing to me that my communications and writing skills would serve me well in a public relations career, so I changed my major. Luckily, I have found through my internship at Buchanan PR that your major is simply a header on a diploma and your career choice will go far beyond it. From my own personal experience, I’d like to share some qualities that I believe public relations professionals – and industry professionals in general – value much more than your major.

1. Creativity. When asked to type up an executive cheat sheet for my coworkers’ meeting with a new client, I added the executives’ pictures as well so my coworkers would know who they were meeting before they even made it into the conference room. It’s not a surprise that everyone loves fresh, never-thought-of-before, promising ideas. However, something I’ve picked up is that it’s not always the big amazing idea that everyone falls for, but rather, it’s the little extra special touches here and there that make a big difference when completing a task.

2. Interpersonal Skills. Of course, college students will (most of the time) make sure they look good on paper before heading into a job interview, but half – if not more – of the battle when interviewing for a job is that your potential co-workers are trying to figure out if they actually want to work with you. Regardless of how amazing and qualified you may be, when working in a 9-5 environment nobody wants to be surrounded by unpleasant people. I’ve found that paying attention to your manners and kindness a little more than usual will be recognized much more by your co-workers than your GPA and accolades ever will be.

3. Fearlessness. Doing something for the first time is always scary. Fear can be a good thing, but it can also keep you from enjoying a sense of accomplishment from something like securing your first pitch from a reporter, or getting complimented on how great your 50-person-long media list was. I’ve learned that when given a task that seems daunting just because it’s something new (i.e. figuring out a new PR computer program or calling a reporter), it’s best to take it on completely with the knowledge that your coworkers are more than willing to help you out along the way.

Can you think of any other things you’ve learned beyond your college major? Let us know in the comments.

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// // Commented by Jon Ericson, 29Feb2016 // // // //