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May 4, 2016

LinkedIn “Connectiquette” – Tips for Using Professional Social Etiquette on LinkedIn

By Jen Tedeschi, 1:03 pm

When it comes to building a professional network, most of us PR pros (or anyone in the working world, for that matter) know that having an active presence on social media is more important than ever before. In fact, I can probably count the number of people I know who don’t have a LinkedIn profile on one hand.

LinkedIn blog pic 2However, growing and maintaining your LinkedIn network in a polite manner seems to be a lesser-known skill. From posts of pictures from a night out at the bar, to connection invitations from people I’ve never spoken with, I’ve seen people make poor networking decisions they wouldn’t dare make in-person.

So, how does one maintain professional etiquette, or should I say, “connectiquette,” with his or her network on LinkedIn? Here are some tips for navigating the world’s largest online professional network:

  • Be selective when accepting and sending connection requests. LinkedIn is not a popularity contest. While it’s important to consistently grow your network, adding everyone under the sun can come off as disingenuous. Make sure you only connect with people you’ve spoken with before, or would like to in the very near future.
  • Include a personalized message when sending a connection request. Introducing yourself through a computer screen rather than face-to-face doesn’t give you an excuse to be impersonal to your potential new connection. Customizing a message with your request shows that you’re truly interested in getting to know that person and willing to put forth the effort to build a relationship with them.
  • Only give and accept recommendations and endorsements if they’re warranted. Like spam connections, having too many irrelevant recommendations and/or endorsements looks insincere. Make sure you only accept endorsements for skills applicable to your job, and do the same when you give your connections endorsements, as well.
  • Make sure you post regularly, but don’t post too much. The main point of LinkedIn is to establish your presence among the rest of your industry’s professionals, and posting content is a good way to position yourself as a thought leader. However, flooding your connections’ newsfeeds will come off as annoying rather than insightful. Instead, aim to post updates and articles on Pulse once a day.
  • Keep your posts professional. LinkedIn isn’t a place to post casual pictures and thoughts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Stick with business-related topics at all times, and remember to not post anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see.

As long as you use it correctly, LinkedIn can be one of the most powerful ways to build your network, and ultimately, a successful career. What other tips do you have for utilizing LinkedIn?

April 25, 2016

Dusting Off Your Office Space

By Nicole Lasorda, 10:48 am

Spring is in full swing – the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and (in Philly, at least) the humidity is rearing its ugly head again. It’s time for that yearly spruce up. At home, you’re probably opening the windows to air out the spring cleaningrooms, filling bags with old-clothing donations and cleaning the woodwork.

But, what are you doing to refresh your office space? Here are a few (more) tips to get your office in tip-top shape this spring.

Here are some ways to get started:

Clean out your physical files. I keep most of my stuff on the shared drive, but there are some things I like to have printed (weekly reports, client marketing collateral, etc.). I like to take this time to sort through the files and make sure I’m not keeping anything unnecessary. You’d be surprised at the number of old reports hanging out in those folders.

Clean up your inbox. Archive, delete, archive. I’ve got very few emails in my inbox, but I will sheepishly admit that I have 45,000+ in my deleted items. Why am I so afraid I’ll need that HARO from January 2014? Take 15 minutes every day and start deleting. I like to organize the folder by sender so I can just delete in bulk for those newsletters and HAROs. Also, if you’re like me and file away emails by client, clean up those folders, as well. If you’re using Outlook, it’s pretty simple and it will delete all the older emails in the chain so you’re not wasting space.

Clean up your media lists. It’s time to take a solid look at your lists and make sure they’re still current. Remember that great reporter who wrote real estate for the local paper? Yeah, he’s now the editor of a yoga magazine. Probably not the best contact anymore.

Clean up your social media pages. Refresh your company’s pages (and your personal pages, if they could use it). Update photos, check to make sure your info hasn’t changed. Be sure all of your employees are liking, following, sharing content.

When your office is refreshed and organized, it can boost productivity. Plus, spring is a time for new beginnings. Start your sunny season off with a clean office, organized files and rockin’ social pages. Are there any spring cleaning tips you would throw in here?

April 22, 2016

A Tour of our Green Workplace

By Taylor OConnor, 11:32 am

Are you proud of your office? This Earth Day at Buchanan PR, I’m reflecting on our humble abode, and realizing just how proud I am to be a part of such an eco-friendly organization. Why do I find us so green, you may ask? Let me give you a little tour of our building…maybe you’ll pick up on a few ways to give Mother Nature a break at your own workplace.

Meet me around at the back of the building – we’ll start this unconventional tour in an unconventional way. Parking space? You’re looking at all of them! We only need these few! While some of us drive, others take public transportation or even walk to work. Even better, some are able to work from home and telecommute! How’s that for cutting down on auto-emissions?

Step inside and you’ll find yourself in our kitchen. That overflowing bin in front of you? That’s our recycling. You’ll notice it’s much taller and fuller than our garbage bin. We’re anything but a wasteful bunch. All plastics, glass, cardboard… anything that can be reused goes in here. We also recycle paper (even in the form of magazines and newspaper) in bins located conveniently both up and downstairs. One ton of recycled paper conserves 60,000 gallons of water … so we do what we can to contribute. Why isn’t it our trash filled with coffee cups and paper plates? Good question.

You’ll notice we’re just an oven short of a full kitchen. Since this building has been re-purposed from its residential origins (that’s right, even the building itself is recycled) we can brew our own coffee, heat up lunch, and do our own dishes right here. We have cabinets stocked with mugs and plates, and drawers full of cutlery and kitchenware, and most of tDr. Seuss The Loraxhe time, we bring lunch from home. Also, a considerable portion of the team is either vegetarian or vegan, and the rest of us know how to enjoy a healthy meat-free meal every now and again. Did you know that if a family of four cut out just one steak a week it would alleviate the same amount of greenhouse gases as taking their car off the road for three months? What and how we eat affects our planet, and we know that here at Buchanan Public Relations!

Here in the conference room, we have our staff meetings and entertain guests. I see you eyeing our beautiful wooden conference table – it’s made from reclaimed wood. In fact, a lot of our furniture and decor are either repurposed, or have been picked up at consignment stores. We also keep our population of potted plants for more than just aesthetics; they help to purify our air naturally. Indoor plants are not only able to remove Co2 from the air, they also suck out a number of harmful gasses released by everyday products.

Walking up the stairs, you may catch a nice breeze. We keep our windows (and some of our doors) open on days like this. Controlling the office climate this way saves us energy, and it’s far from our only energy-saving tactic. You’ll also notice we keep very few lights on during the day. The windows in our offices can provide us with enough natural lighting when the sun is shining. We also have this to thank for our positive demeanor… vitamin D promotes wellness after all!

Take a peek in our supply closet. We buy recycled notepads and other paper products when possible because recycled paper does not contribute to deforestation. Our supply closet is filled with piles of old file folders and boxes of outdated envelopes and notecards. We keep these because we know that they are reusable (simply change the labels on them), and that sooner or later, even stationery with our old address can be used for things such as filing, or scratch paper. Things (and people too!) at Buchanan PR are used to their full potential.

Finally, our “IT” room. Here we house a very complicated-looking machine, whose main function is to allow us all to save our files and documents in one shared, and always-accessible drive. This digitization saves us stacks of paper (not to mention the hassle of filing and  the risk of paper cuts), as well as ink. Speaking of ink, our printer is often on energy-saver mode, and when it does run out of ink, we are able to recycle the cartridges at our local supply store.

Well I think that about wraps up our brief tour. I hope you picked up on a few tricks you can take along with you. Oh! I almost forgot the most important thing…respecting the animals around you as well! We keep our dogs very happy –  our four-legged friends are the most valuable members of our family!

Happy Earth Day from Buchanan PR.

 

 

 

April 12, 2016

5 Things Every ‘Newbie’ Should Know

By Staff, 9:40 am

-Lauren Marano

On my first day as a PR intern, I arrived at the office half an hour early, just as the first worker pulled into the driveway.  I was incredibly nervous, excited, bemused and downright scared.  My dad always told me, “Think it through, Lauren.”  But for Star Wars Memesome reason, I couldn’t think past everyday tasks.  Am I sitting in this chair right? How does this sweater look?  What if my garlic hummus is too garlicky? Do people even like garlic here?

OK, that last question didn’t run through my head, but I did wonder about the “small” stuff.  I didn’t want to stick out.  I drank a lot of coffee my first day and stared intently at instructions for transferring phone calls.  Up until a few days ago, I still didn’t know how to transfer a call, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a PR intern, it’s to stay curious.  Being curious means you must accept your limits, utilize the resources around you, and ask more questions than a helicopter parent.

Here are five things I’ve learned as a PR ‘Newbie’:

1. Everyone makes mistakes. The other day, I sent out a press release prior to having it approved by a senior staff member.  It was too late.  There was no way I could take back the emails I sent.  I felt a wave of despair.  I worked on the pitch, press release and media lists for days.  I was ready, but perhaps too eager.  My anxiety mounted, oh no, what did I do?  I apologized to my co-worker.  Despite the not-so-brief moment of panic, my co-worker said, “Everyone makes mistakes.” I took a few deep breaths and accepted her consolation with open arms.  Everyone makes mistakes, and making mistakes is a part of any business, especially if you’re doing it right.

2. Get your hands dirty. “Do you want to help me with this pitch?”  “Want to take a swing at an interview prep sheet?”  Questions like these can be daunting for a newbie, especially when many of your clients are involved in industries you don’t know too much about.  However, my unfamiliarity with these businesses has been one of the most gratifying aspects of this position.  This industry requires a constant vigilance to professional relationships and the news.  It might take some time to find the perfect hook for a pitch, or the right contacts in a media list, but you have to be willing to dig deep, get dirty and be resilient.

3. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of asking too many questions. Questions show you are interested and willing to grow.  It’s truly humbling to work in an industry where I have no prior experience.  My skills as an English and American Studies major have translated well into the business of PR, however, before I began working at Buchanan, I didn’t know what a media list was, how to write a press release, or if spooning peanut butter from the jar into my mouth was an acceptable mid-afternoon snack.  Regardless, I’ve done all of those things.  I’m still learning how to perfect pitches and releases, but I’ve got the peanut butter spooning down pat.

4. Practice. In an attempt to avoid the platitude, “practice makes perfect,” I realized platitudes are over-used for a reason – they’re helpful. The more tasks I’ve completed and worked on, the more confident I’ve become in my abilities.  This is true for practically any industry.  Successful entrepreneurs, awe-inspiring athletes and PR pros have all started as amateurs.  News pitches may begin as dusty drafts, but with practice, they can be polished into shiny, golden news nuggets.

5. Started from the bottom. Before I entertained the idea of an internship, I was adamantly against beginning my post-grad career as an intern.  I vastly underestimated the skills, experience, learning and job opportunities the right internship can offer.  As an intern, I’ve grappled firsthand with diverse tasks and challenges.  I’ve understood more about what I want in terms of a career, and what I bring to the table as a professional worker.  I’ve realized how much there is to learn anywhere and everywhere, and that, is one of the most rewarding attitudes you can embrace.

In the profound words of Drake, “started from the bottom now we’re here.”  It’s important to acknowledge your own journey.  It may not be what you expected, but there’s always somewhere to go.  Be proud of what you’ve accomplished, and whether you’re a newbie or senior staff, stay curious.  You still have much to learn, young Padawan.

Have any tips for PR or other professional newbies? Let us know in the comments below.

April 5, 2016

4 Ways to Go Beyond the Job Description

By Megan Keohane, 2:43 pm

Last week, I performed a less-than-glamorous task at work – one that’s not even remotely related to PR. I may have squealed like a baby while doing it (probably among the top five grossest things I’ve ever done), but I was happy to take care of it for the agency and shared a few laughs about it with co-workers afterward.

While it’s especially true when working for a small company, performing duties beyond your job description is critical to a successful career – regardless of industry or company size. We’re a small, close-knit family here at Buchanan PR, and we all understand that each of us needs to step up from time to time to clean the coffee pot, pick up paper plates or kill a spider.

Performing extra tasks and exceeding expectations is essential to both professional and personal growth. It’s not often you hear about a highly successful individual who strictly performed tasks that were outlined in his or her job description.

On a professional level, business leaders value individuals who are willing to go above and beyond. It proves trustworthiness, reliability, flexibility and determination. Not to mention, it’s much easier to work with an individual who is willing to help and doesn’t often complain. At the risk of generalizing, it’s typically these people who climb higher on the corporate ladder, and quicker, than those who do the bare minimum.

On a personal level, as my wise father usually says, “It’s a character-building experience.” Bringing more to the table stretches your brain, builds thick skin and keeps you humble.

That said, here are four ways to go beyond the job description:

1. Anticipate needs. Being able to execute well helps you keep your job – after all, it’s what you were hired to do in that position. However, being aware of what others have going on, taking care of tasks ahead of time and remaining three steps ahead can give a competitive edge when a higher position opens up.

2. Be a jack of all trades. Whether developing a broad strategy for a new, large client or picking up lunch orders for the office, an office almost always appreciates co-workers who are willing to do anything to keep things running smoothly. It’s especially important never to adopt the mindset that you’re above doing anything.

3. Take chances. Be confident and remember that you were hired because you’re good at your job. Coming up with new ideas and taking risks could reap big benefits. Not every idea will be a home run, but that’s okay. Clients and colleagues will generally appreciate the fact that you can always bring something new to the table.

4. Replace complaints with constructive feedback and positivity. Everyone has bad days at work – projects can give you a headache, you may be disappointed in a teammate, clients can be difficult, etc. And while complaining may be the easiest way to get something off your chest, it does nothing to move you forward. Instead, try addressing a problem head on, asking for help, or otherwise finding a solution. Good managers recognize when an employee is able to tackle obstacles.

These are just a few ways to go beyond the job description and prepare for new roles and responsibilities in your career. Any other tips?

March 30, 2016

Message Matters: A Takeaway from Four Months as a PR Intern

By Joe Cerrone, 9:52 am

Four months ago when I began my internship at Buchanan Public Relations my mind was filled with questions. With no background in PR or the B2B industries in which the firm primarily works, I found myself inundated with new information every day. From how to build media lists to the seemingly endless string of acronyms and shorthand references rattled off at staff meetings, my mind raced to keep up with my new environment.

While I have benefited in many ways from this experience, working in public relations has imparted to me one lesson that stands out above the rest: the importance of messaging.

This may seem a fairly trite observation—of course the very cornerstone of PR is the development and distribution of messages on a daily basis. While this may not be the most earth-shattering revelation of the day, it has been a significant insight for me into how the world works.

I wasBlank Billboard initially very hesitant about PR’s approach to messaging; who needs press releases and pitches? If a topic is newsworthy it will attract its own attention, won’t it? Yet as days turned into weeks and I tried my hand at a greater number of tasks, my doubts gradually faded away. After seeing how many different topics our work influences, I realized that many of society’s seemingly organic messages are actually carefully crafted pitches. From entertainment and government to non-profits and the education sphere, everyone with a stake in a cause, an idea, or a venture is involved in developing a message to tell their story.

Realizing that so much of the information we digest on a daily basis is backed by an agenda can be unsettling—but it has also prompted me to ask myself a more empowering question: what will my message be?

Surely if the banks, law firms, politicians and Hollywood stars can have a personally tailored message, so can I. This message can say something about who I am, where I come from and where I am going. It can share elements of how I think, what I believe, what is important to me and what simply isn’t. Through personal interactions, professional endeavors, social networking and a host of other methods, I can build and continually develop this message about me.

Of course, each person will have a unique path to creating their own message. I always like to think of myself as a writer—so perhaps I will craft my message by taking to Twitter, expanding my personal blog and improving my prowess in the digital sphere. What matters is not how you choose to do it, but that you ensure that you are in control of your message and conscious of the pitch you are making about yourself through actions, whether big or small.

So while I’ve learned to create a tight media list and convert corporate jargon into a comprehensible press release, the greatest takeaway from my experience at Buchanan PR is the recognition that messaging is everywhere and it’s in everyone’s best interest to take advantage of it.

March 16, 2016

To My Fellow Millennials: Knowledge Was Power

By Taylor OConnor, 11:55 am

Oh, the things  you won’t learn in school.Learning Post

The truth is, your chances of entering a career as a young professional fully prepared and equipped with the precise skill sets expected of your position are unlikely.

The world is evolving faster than ever as systems of technology, communication and collaboration improve and expand across industries.

But the good news is that businesses have come to recognize the two tools that all humans possess allowing them to combat the challenges of constant and evolving change – our innate ability to learn and adapt.

In this sense, knowledge was power. In this day and age, what you know may not be as important as what you could know.Contemporary businesses that are ahead of the curve are driven by what’s referred to as a “learning culture.”

According to the Corporate Executive Board Co. of London, a “learning culture” is an environment that supports an open mindset, as well as an independent quest for knowledge, and fosters a shared education directed towards the mission and goals of the organization.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself working with an organization that fosters a “learning culture,” by all means, take advantage of it! Otherwise, you too can create one of your own, and in result, be that much more valuable to the organization.

When I started with Buchanan Public Relations as executive assistant/office manager, there was a mutual, unspoken understanding that the position would provide me with many opportunities to learn and grow.

Although I was unfamiliar with the inner-workings of a public relations firm, the team recognized and welcomed my unleashed potential and creative energy. I was immediately able to demonstrate just how much of a chameleon millennials like myself can be. It turns out, millennials are incredibly well-suited to thrive in this kind of dependent-learning environment.

According to Bruce Tulgan, author of “Not Everyone Gets a Trophy” – a guidebook for executives seeking to work effectively with younger generations – “Millennials are comfortable in this highly interconnected, rapidly changing web of variables” that is the modern business place.

We’re multimedia literate, used to unorthodox teaching styles, and we often seek to understand the relevance of what we are learning. These attributes, blessings of the world in which we were raised, allow us to constantly direct our aim towards continuous learning and achievement.

So, how do you create a “learning culture,” if you don’t already have one to follow?

  1. Keep your ears open

Listen to everything that is going on around you. All information can be useful, so do your best to absorb and process as much as possible.

  1. Always have a pen, and a question

After your brain, the pen is the most important instrument you have to learn. Write things down when you find yourself in a setting to acquire more information and intelligence.

  1. Everyone knows something that you don’t

Think of everyone around you as a teacher. My dad always says, “You never learn anything from listening to yourself.” This advice has served me well, reminding me to not only listen more and talk less, but to be alert for the hidden lessons within every interaction.

  1. Welcome invitations

Would you like to sit in on this phone call? Yes! Could you attend this meeting with me? Of course! Want to go on a coffee run? Sure! Accept any invitation to make stronger connections and get more insight.

  1. Go back into the archives

Most companies will keep an organized record of past work. Taking the time to peruse these documents can give you a feel for your company’s history, style, wins and potential areas of improvement. They can also give you a better idea of the trajectory in which your company is headed.

Fellow Millennials (or learners of all ages), what strategies do you use to learn more from your company? How do you get the most out of your work day?

March 8, 2016
March 2, 2016

Fishing for Media in a Sea of PR

By Blair Kahora Cardinal, 12:57 pm
Photo credit: iopa solutions website

Photo credit: iopa solutions website

On the first day of journalism class at University of Delaware, one of my favorite professors told us a story that has stuck with me these many years since. He told us that when he was a fresh-faced journalist, he was tasked with interviewing Lily Tomlin, who at the time was one of the hippest female comedians in show business. She explained that she would only grant him the interview if he could come up with a question that she’d never been asked before.

He did some digging and discovered Tomlin was a big fan of Ma and Pa Kettle, a comedy duo that made a lot of movies in the 1950s about a hillbilly family. He said Tomlin looked him up and down, and then he said, “What in the world made you love Ma and Pa Kettle?” She smiled and said, “Come with me.”

This single story has informed every aspect of my career in public relations.

I think about it most often when I’m tasked with networking at media panels—where droves of PR people are waiting to grab their two minutes with the reporters in the room. Two of my colleagues were headed up to NYC to meet a few reporters on the sports beat last week. Our account coordinator, Johnny, however, had never been to anything like it, so I gave him some pointers.

  • Dig for Gold. Yes, you can read a reporter’s most recent stories and check out his or her Twitter feed. But do more than a superficial check. See if you can find out something special about or important to that reporter. For example, Johnny figured out that one Sports Business reporter was a huge Angelique Kerber fan. So he told the reporter about the time he sat next to Kerber on a plane. We also once discovered that a Wall Street Journal editor went to high school in Philadelphia, which leads me to my second point.
  • Carry the Red Rose. The reporters will meet oodles of people throughout the night. How the heck is he or she going to remember you? As we were talking to that WSJ editor about Philly, my colleague Meg started telling him about her side job as a Phillies Ball Girl. So, when we followed up with him via email, she referenced that conversation, and he was able to recall us immediately. Alternately, I’m also a big fan of wearing something a tad snazzy that makes me stand out, a la, “Great meeting you last night. If you recall, I was the one wearing the leopard print blazer.”
  • Bite Your Tongue. Yes, you are most certainly there to pitch your clients. However, sometimes trying to sell an interview or story idea falls on deaf ears. A lot of reporters like to mine their own angles, so most of the time I’m not pitching my client but talking about topics I’m reading (or not reading) about—all topics that my client can speak to. That way the reporter doesn’t feel pressured to say yes or no, but can think about the topic and I can follow up with a thoughtful email at a later date.
  • Patience, My Pet. The best conversations I’ve ever had with reporters is on the walk out of the building. I usually take my time getting my coat and gathering my things (on occasion, I miss my train in the process), all the while keeping an eye on that one reporter I’d like to meet. By far, I’ve had the most memorable conversations on the walk out of the building. The reporter is far more relaxed because the event—where he or she had been pitched 20 times—is over, and you can just talk like friends. I think those conversations are the most fruitful.

As I always say, reporters are people, so your best bet is to show them that you’re a person too .

February 23, 2016
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