Career

  • Fast Five: Larry Brantley at Chaloner & Associates Wants to Help You Land that Next Job

    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.

    Looking for a new opportunity?  Check out the Chaloner website at http://www.chaloner.com or follow Larry on Twitter at @recruitinglarry

    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 josh@joshuamilnepr.com and

    pitch your subject expert!

  • Fast Five with Deirdre Breakenridge, 2018 Social Media Summit Keynote Speaker

    Deirdre K. Breakenridge is Chief Executive Officer at Pure Performance Communications. A veteran in PR, marketing and branding, Breakenridge is the author of six books, including “Answers for Modern Communicators”, “Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional”, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” and “PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences.

    Deidre teaches online PR and social media courses for the UMASS at Amherst  and for Rutgers University’s PR Certificate course. She is also the host of a podcast program, Women Worldwide, interviewing women around the globe who are encouraged to share their incredible stories, educating, imparting advice and offering insights to show listeners. Women Worldwide has recently joined the C- Suite Radio Network, where Deirdre is recognized as a C-Suite Advisor.

    Deirdre will be the opening keynote speaker at the 2018 Social Media Summit on May 11 at Bentley University.  Join Deirdre and a host of other speakers for an amazing day as we explore how social media is being integrated in communications strategies at some of the region’s most visible brands.  Learn more and get your tickets here

    What prompted you to start PR Expanded?

    I launched PR Expanded (formerly PR 2.0) when I was researching and writing my book PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools and New Audiences. The blog was a way to document my social media journey, share topics covered in the book and gauge community member reactions and thoughts that I would include in my manuscript. Since the launch of PR 2.0, I’ve rebranded my blog as PR Expanded, which represents the many opportunities for PR professionals today. PR Expanded continues to showcase new roles and practices in PR as a result of the changing media landscape, advancing technologies and shifting consumer behaviors.

    What is a recent winning move your social media team has made for a client?

    We work with a digital marketing agency that is taking a stand on Artificial Intelligence and marketing ethics. A recent study of 6,000 consumers in the US, UK and Germany reveals consumer attitudes and concerns about AI. Our team was able to immerse ourselves in the survey data to come up with creative pitch angles. Our pitches have led to more media exposure in the form of byline articles, Q&A guest posts, radio interviews and expert commentary in business, technology and industry trade publications.

    What top deliverables do you look for in your social media team?

    Your social media team must deliver outcomes for your business. Yes, there are communication goals as a result of your campaigns, but you’re also tying what you do to higher-level business goals. A social media team that has a purpose and goals and sets up a measurement program that shows how social media directly relates to sales and lead generation, marketing optimization, customer satisfaction or brand health, is a team that gets the attention of the company leaders.

    What big goals or programs do you want your social media team to accomplish this year?

    Companies need to share stories and share meaningful information with the public, but they also need to create a sharing culture on the inside of the organization. Our social media teams are focused on igniting employee champions within the organization to create more strategic participation and greater momentum and engagement through employee networks. As a rule, good communication (including social media communication) starts on the inside of the company.

    What do you look for in a social media professional when you are hiring?

    A social media professional needs a balance of IQ and Emotional Quotient (EQ). It’s great when a candidate knows the areas of social media management, data and analytics and good writing and communication skills. However, the EQ is important when you’re dealing with a community and any issues or concerns that may arise. Showing EQ means stepping back to evaluate a situation in a social media community and having more empathy for your customer. When you blend the strategic with the empathy, you can solve problems and prevent the escalation of issues for your brand.

    When your clients just don’t get social media, how do you explain it?

    When clients don’t understand social media you have to show them why it matters in their world. Showing them could mean sharing the results of a competitor audit and how the competition uses social media. You might also reveal that the top companies in their industry are using social media to attract the best talent. You can also share how their customers, employees, media, and other important stakeholders are on social media giving them a reason to monitor or to engage directly. For these clients, it could be a crawl, walk run approach to get them comfortable with social media and understanding the meaning and value for their business.

    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, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! 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 josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • Fast Five with Melissa Mann, EF Education First

    Melissa Mann is the social media and content manager for EF Education First, the world’s largest international education company and #1 Top Place to Work in the Boston Globe’s 2017 list. Melissa got her start as a fashion copywriter and remembers the day Instagram launched—she’s worked in social media ever since. She’ll be sharing her knowledge at the 2018 Social Media Summit on May 11 at Bentley University.  Learn more and register here.

    What prompted you to join EF Education First?

    I was working in the fashion industry, managing social media for an ecommerce brand and had the wakeup call that I didn’t actually care about fashion. Since studying abroad in college, I’d realized the benefit of travel and felt very strongly about the doors and perspectives it opened. So when I started asking myself what my values were and looking to align my work with something I believed in, travel was the theme. I found EF Education First through a former colleague and once I learned more about what EF stands for—opening the world through education and breaking down barriers through travel, cultural exchange, and language learning—I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Walking in, you can really feel the culture and the passion of the people who work at EF. I haven’t looked back.

    Do you have a favorite social media campaign? 

    I love seeing what other brands are doing in the social space and there are always a ton of good ideas out there. I really like what Southwest is doing with their “every seat has a story” campaign—it feels a bit like what we’re trying to do at EF with our storytelling and focus on our people. I am also a huge fan girl of Wendy’s on Twitter. They really own their voice and have such a strong personality that actually encourages other brands to pitch in. They’re super fun to watch.

    What are the most common mistakes – and winning moves – social media managers make?

    I think one common mistake is trying to retro-fit a channel to a solution. We’re always looking out for “the next big thing” and it’s easy to get wrapped into the craze of “let’s do this on Facebook live!” or “let’s add 5 polls to our Instagram stories!” I think it’s important to be able to take a step back and really identify what the goals are and decide what the best platform is to accomplish those goals. Winning moves are when you can adapt quickly to those changes, however, and leverage them in a way that supports your business. The sooner you can take advantage of updates like customizing your ad creative for Facebook, the sooner you’ll see that ROI.

    What are the top three skills in demand by your management?

    For anyone going into social media, I think it’s important to know a little bit about a lot of different areas of marketing. Of course you need to be specialized in social media, but there are a lot of us out there whose roles touch so many different pieces, from acquisition to customer care to email marketing.  Having some knowledge in each of those areas will make your role as a social media manager that much easier (while making you more marketable). So that being said, knowing how to run and manage some paid media (in particular, Facebook and Instagram ads) is a huge benefit. Knowledge of analytics and experience with tools like Google Analytics or Moz are also incredibly useful skills to have in your toolbox—bonus points if you can build your own reporting dashboards and make it easier to present that to your stakeholders. Finally, I think it’s super important to be detail-oriented. Social media is big and it’s fast, and it’s easy to make a mistake, like push an Instagram post to the wrong account (been there). Being organized and giving your attention to the small details will help keep you on top of it all.

    When management just doesn’t get social media, how do you explain it?

    This is a tough one; I think all social media managers and content producers go through this. I try to focus on the engagement and nurturing piece. Social media ROI can be really difficult to prove, but what you’re really building through social is a loyal, engaged community. Social gives you the opportunity to keep your brand top-of-mind for people (potential customers, e.g.) who are interested in what you have to say. By producing relevant, interesting content that ties back to your brand, your followers will remember (and choose) you when it’s time for them to make a purchase.

    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, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! 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 josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

     

  • As The Globe Goes Digital, News And PR Still Rely on Personal Relationships by Dick Pirozzolo, APR

    In Career, IPN, Media Relations on

    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.

    Both Edelman and Hiawatha Bray, who has been covering technology for the Globe since 1995, encouraged the visits, especially when the executives are willing to come to the newsroom. Bray joked, “I just met with a company and they were all from MIT, so I figured it must be important.”

    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.

  • Students and Professionals Learning from Each Other at the PRSSA Regional Conference

    In Career on

    By Nikki Vergakes, PR Specialist at Trevi Communications

    One of the many benefits of keeping an open and active relationship between PRSSA and PRSA is the exchange of knowledge constantly between the two groups. This experience is heightened on days like the PRSSA regional conference, PR Advanced: It Starts Now.

    I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day interacting with the students and picking their brains about their impressions of the future of the industry, their takeaways from the day and hearing any questions that they had for us. We also had an exciting opportunity to interview the students via video and produced a mini “vlog” for each interview. The key takeaways I found from the students are below.

    What do you see for the future of PR?

    The students had all similar answers for this question. This was unsurprising as the answers were driven –  as many things are – by both the current political and media climate. The students predict more diversity not only in the workplace for PR but also a diversity of the stories to be told. As well they see even more of a switch to digital.

    Then, we asked what else they would want to see from us – PRSA Boston.

    They said that they would like to participate more in our mentorship program to learn more about how we got where we are as professionals. They seemed very interested in learning about our career trajectories.

    Want to see the videos of the interviews, with bonus questions not in this blog post? Click HERE. 

    Bio

    Nikki Vergakes is a PR Specialist at Trevi Communications, working in professional services and clean energy PR. Having just graduated in May, she’s learning so much about what you can do with PR in her role, and is also putting the skills she learned in (and out of) school to the test with some side projects. She just launched a podcast with her friend, writes in the free time, and just joined She Zine as a news & culture contributor in March.

     

  • Back to School: A Wrap-Up of PRSSA Regional Conference 2018

    In Career, Events on

    By Nikki Vergakes, PR Specialist at Trevi Communications

    Every February, Boston University PRSSA hosts all the regional PRSSA chapters at their school for an enriching day of learning and networking. It’s not surprising that only the most engaged students attend this conference, since it’s on a Saturday. This is just one of the many reasons why I attended the conference along with my Co-College Liaison, Ermolande Jean-Simon, seeking out talented seniors and grad students to join our chapter.

    By the end of the day, we gained much more knowledge than just students to keep an eye on. Since we were allowed to hop around the sessions (thanks for the opportunity, BU PRSSA), we picked up almost as much information as the students.

    During my days in PRSSA, my two favorite times of the year were regional and national conference. It was like Christmas came more than once a year! I also just graduated in May, so I can’t say that my mindset is very different from that of the students. Either way, you never stop learning. This conference would’ve been beneficial for professionals and students of any age.

    The first breakout I attended was hosted by Michal Desalvo, VP of Healthcare at OIlgivy. He took us through his seemingly treacherous job search path. I think that everyone could relate to what he went through, however, even if you had a job secured after graduation.  His presentation was supposed to be a super-secret, life-changing tip to land a PR job. Not surprisingly, the secret was that there is none! His advice is the be true to yourself and what you want, work hard and to treat the whole process of networking like making friends. Look at how ridiculous it would be if we treated relationships like we do networking.

    I also really enjoyed the keynote session by DJ Capobianco, Manager of Research at Twitter. I was happy to catch this after networking with students at the career fair. The left and right side of my brain were buzzing after his presentation. I missed the part where he explains what he did, but from what I gathered, brands approach Twitter for market research, and he gathers the research for them. If that doesn’t sound like a cool job, I don’t know what does. My two big takeaways were that there is actual revenue increase due to a pleasant customer service via Twitter (talk about an ROI), and the best quote of the day, “All research is wrong no matter who does it, it just depends how wrong it is.”

    Thanks to BU PRSSA for having us – we already can’t wait for next year!

    Bio

    Nikki Vergakes is a PR Specialist at Trevi Communications, working in professional services and clean energy PR. Having just graduated in May, she’s learning so much about what you can do with PR in her role, and is also putting the skills she learned in (and out of) school to the test with some side projects. She just launched a podcast with her friend, writes in the free time, and just joined She Zine as a news & culture contributor in March.