June 13, 2020In Career on
We’ve heard the catchphrases – new normal, unprecedented times, Zoom fatigue, and more – on repeat over the last few months.
But beyond how this pandemic has virtually changed our world in just about every way, how will it continue to impact us, in terms of our one of our core functions as PR practitioners – communication?
Communicating with compassion and empathy
Like many others, I too have stepped back and read and reread an email, press release, social media posting, or other messaging to make sure it comes across authentically, shows compassion, and above all, is not tone-deaf to the crisis affecting us all.
It’s no longer about how consistent your news cycle is, how many press releases you can get out the door, or maintaining a steady stream of social media postings for your company (or client).
It’s about purposeful, intent-driven communication that ties back, if possible, to our current environment. It is less about ‘business as usual’ and more about being sensitive to what we are putting out there in a public forum.
Exploring new mediums in an all-digital world
For many companies, working remotely will remain in place through most of (if not all) 2020. This includes travel, where many companies will have very strict guidelines in place on business travel. What does this mean? How can we think differently about how we communicate? What mediums should we consider for our companies and/or clients? With more opportunity to storytell and inform our customers, partners, and ecosystem, an all-digital world means more mediums in which to spread the word.
From virtual events to live-streaming, to chats on various social media platforms. I’ve even seen some businesses driving attention to new video communications or updates on YouTube to tune in to the chat when the video debuts, to communicate live with the business. That’s a platform I would not have typically considered for communicating in real-time. And, with more availability from your executive team who are not traveling (but busy all the same!), there is an opportunity to put them front and center live on digital platforms we may not have had the opportunity for in the past.
No more one-size-fits-all communication
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that personal, 1:1 communication is more meaningful and impactful than ever before. Personally, I’ve had more conversations with colleagues, executives, customers, and partners that have felt more engaging and authentic than before COVID-19. We stop and ask how the other is doing. We have a few minutes of non-work-related chatter. It’s less transactional and more personal.
This goes for external communications as well. The stories we shape tend to focus more on management and communication tactics during a pandemic and how we are helping our customers and our fellow associates get through this crisis together. It’s about sharing the stories that will resonate with the everyday person, and not always the buyer personas or C-suite. It’s humanizing what our companies do, and how we work together to accomplish success.
Above all, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought humanity back to communication and given us all a chance to pause and rethink how and why we communicate the message and in what mediums to deliver that message. It’s made us take the time to connect – and reconnect – with each other and find common threads that foster relationships, which is even more important when we are all-digital for the foreseeable future.
By Jolene Peixoto, Vice President, Corporate Communications at Blue Yonder
June 15, 2019
It’s that time of the year again – GRADUATION. A big, swirling pot of emotions, brimming with hope, nostalgia, reminiscences, excitement, and drum roll, please – job hunting.
For many outgoing seniors, this last point is a rollercoaster ride. Companies can make the daunting trip a little smoother by offering young professionals a variety of benefits. To discover what exactly these benefits are, I went to a potent source of information – members of the Boston College Class of 2019. Luckily, my bright, job-ready friends were eager to share with me what workplace offerings stand out to them.
Employers, listen up!
Internally, there are two major elements that young professionals look for in potential jobs: ethical environments and meaningful assignments. These people want to know that they will be working for an organization that does the “right” thing in their eyes, resounding with their inner moral compass. Moreover, they hope that the work they will be doing will actually be contributing to company growth, allowing them to sharpen their skills and creativity.
An enormously important part of this internal work environment is coworkers; they have the power to make or break a career experience. A team with members who have a killer work ethic and the synergy to work together effectively and efficiently is a huge asset in order to foster conducive collaboration. Additionally, supporting diversity in the workplace is a critical aspect that young professionals desire; this extends to gender, race, sexual orientation, background, etc.
Outside of the work environment, there are three areas where companies can differentiate themselves from the rest – opportunities to socialize, personal care, and professional growth. As noted earlier, who your coworkers are make a big difference. Young professionals place high importance on being able to mingle with people who share their values and interests in other settings besides in the office. Holding company-wide events, having clubs or committees that cater to common interests, and team-building activities, such as volunteering, are helpful for fostering bonds among coworkers. Next, where personal care is concerned, benefits like wellness programs, healthy office snacks, generous insurance coverage, and flexible paid leave are enticing options for young professionals. Lastly, opportunities for professional growth are influential to young professionals’ decision-making process in selecting and staying employed at their organizations. Career development can be facilitated by hosting different seminars and speakers that impart valuable new information and offering classes of interest (e.g., language classes) after working hours.
There is a multitude of factors that can impact the trajectory of a young professional – from positive work environments to ethical standards, from professional development opportunities to diversity and inclusion initiatives. By taking steps to implement these factors, companies can be the best employers and attract the best young talent in our profession.
Check out PRSA Boston’s Jobs & Internships section to post a job or search for a new job.
Student Correspondent Bio: Annika Sison is a rising senior at Boston College, double majoring in Sociology and Communication. Upon graduation in 2020, she is looking to start a marketing career in the start-up space. Her professional interests include, behavioral science, brand management, and graphic design. She is always looking to build upon her skill set and take on new challenges.
May 21, 2018
Larry Brantley, President of Chaloner & Associates, brings more than 30 years of experience in the communications, marketing and design world to his role at Chaloner. a national executive search firm specializing in communications, public relations and marketing recruitment. He’s worked with brands such as JCPenny, HP, EDS, Texas Instruments, ConocoPhillips and many others to place executive level talent in the marketing and communications roles. PRSA Boston recently had the opportunity to ask him for a few insights into the current job market.
Q: What are some of the key trends you are seeing in the hiring process these days?
A: Firms are now offering signing bonuses, relocation packages, enhanced benefit plans and increased compensation plans. It is a candidate market. Employers are having to compete for talent. It has not been this kind of employment climate since the late 1990s.
Q: What skills should PR and Communication professionals be looking to refine / develop as they start a job search?
A: We all need to be proactive in developing our knowledge in online content creation and management. Social media is key to all PR professionals. Whether you create online content or manage crisis communications, it impacts all of us in a world where everyone uses mobile communications on a regular basis. It is a qualifier in resume screening.
Q: There was a time when communications and digital marketing jobs were separate. Is that still the case? If not, are you seeing employers who are looking for candidates with both sets of skills?
A: Employers are looking for people who are multi-faceted in their skills and ability to do more for their company. It is imperative that we, as candidates, are able to multi- task and spin many plates at the same time. Larger firms may separate traditional communications and digital communications to different teams. However, small to mid-sized companies expect individuals to do both.
Q: Are employers paying more attention to diversity in the hiring process?
A: Employers are ideally looking to have a balanced approach to life experiences, cultural perspectives and gender views in their business. We do not have the same constraints that affirmative action required in the 90s, but our customers and clients look to see that our business reflects the market in which we live. We approach all candidates as “talent”, not male/female, gay or straight, Jewish, Muslim or Christian. The only consideration for us is who is the best qualified candidate to perform the job function. Our salary range budgeted is the same for all.
Q: How important is experience vs. an ability to adapt and learn?
A: Both are critical to the success of a new hire; however, adaptability is a critical component into cultural fit in an organization. You can have all the experience in the world, but if you are inflexible, you will be out the door.
Q: What mistakes should a candidate avoid in the interview process?
A: We do our best to prepare a candidate for an interview with our clients. We share a little background on the individuals you may be meeting to help you be relaxed and familiar with who you meet. There are in my opinion some important things to consider-
- Don’t regurgitate everything listed on your resume. The resume helped to get you in the door but now they want to get to know you.
- Let the interviewer lead the conversation. Don’t come in with your own discussion plan.
- Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not.
- Thank the contact for their time and opportunity to meet.
About Fast 5
This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand or on the go. But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos
Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at firstname.lastname@example.org and
pitch your subject expert!
April 21, 2018
Larry Edelman, The Boston Globe deputy managing editor, told independent PR agency heads that, while declining print subscriptions portend an all-digital newspaper, building good old-fashioned relationships still counts when it comes to news coverage in New England’s biggest newspaper.
At a recent meeting organized by the Boston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Edelman told some 30 small PR agency owners, “We have 95,000 paid digital subscribers, the highest among regional papers,” which is fast approaching half the total subscribers as “print subscriptions slowly decline.”
With classified advertising for autos, employment and real estate no longer able to support the operation, The Globe has had to increase the cost to the readers for providing them with information. “When we’re charging a lot for the product it really has to be good, and when readers log on they want to get the highest-quality journalism. The paper has to be sold on the merits of quality,” Edelman added.
Given changes in the way people access information, especially international and national news, The Globe has reduced its commitment to staffing bureaus in Washington, DC and overseas. “Our motto is to provide journalism you can’t get anywhere but The Globe.” For media relations pros, that means offering its reporters exclusive, newsworthy information about local businesses and organizations and their impact on the community.
At the meeting, run by public relations consultants Hank Shafran, Edelman emphasized, “It comes down to building individual relationships” for both PR pros and reporters as well. “Even though information is available online, reporters still have to get out of the office to cover stories in person and PR folks have to build relationships with reporters. News is a relationship business – a good batting average though is worse than a major league baseball player,” in terms of successful placements.
Edelman urged PR professionals to look beyond your own client for broader stories with greater impact. He pointed out, “A hotel company that was building properties in the outlaying parts of the city such as Allston and Brighten pitched a story about the business.” Rather than publishing a story about this one company, “The Globe did it as a trend piece, which made it a stronger and more interesting article.” Everybody won.
When asked about whom to contact, he recommended sending email pitches directly to reporters since they know more about the topic and editors have too many additional responsibilities to focus on content, though alerting both the reporters and their editors is acceptable.
Joshua Milne, who focuses on sports promotions and media relations, asked whether editorial visits during which company executives visit the editorial staff in the newsroom to provide background information, with no expectation of coverage are still viable.
Veteran business reporter Jon Chesto is known for taking a lot of editorial meetings. “He meets more people in a day than I meet in a month,” quipped Edelman. Notwithstanding, when publicists pitch stories they need to know the topic. Bray said, “It’s disrespectful to call a reporter and not know what your product is or what it does and then fill the void by using terms like ‘best-in-breed’ or ‘disruptive technology.’”
Bray chided PR people who call at 5 o’clock to pitch stories, and for trying to be creative, “Don’t write a story like ‘Once upon a time,’ just the facts please.”
Other changes at The Globe include The Express Desk, which was started last year and is staffed with 25 reporters and editors to deliver breaking news – “immediate news drives a lot of subscriptions,” Edelman said adding that Express Desk tracks readership and revises headlines if an interesting story isn’t drawing readership.
In addition to the Spotlight Team, the famous investigative reporting unit featured in the eponymous Oscar winning movie about sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Edelman, noted, “We created a subset of the Spotlight Team that, instead of spending months on a story is poised for quick investigations that might take only a week or two. One of its latest accomplishments was an investigative report on a recent Massachusetts State Police scandal over no-show traffic details.
Despite the modern newsroom in the heart of the financial district, the absence of the monster Web press, and a hugely successful formula for a digital newspaper of the future, Edelman said some things in Boston remain constant: “Who’s driving the most subscriptions? It’s still sports.”
Dick Pirozzolo, APR of Pirozzolo Company Public Relations is a Boston communication consultant whose credentials as a professional journalist include membership in The Society of Professional Journalists, The Foreign Press Association of New York and the National Press Club of Washington, DC.