Readers: Many of my students have told me their favorite post here is titled “PR is for lovers” which I wrote for Valentine’s Day three years ago. I’ve updated it slightly for 2016. Enjoy!
“When a person brings flowers to a date, that’s good public relations.”
As we attempt to define public relations, we can agree that good PR strategies seek to accomplish one of three responses: to create attitudes, to reinforce attitudes, and to change attitudes. Well, isn’t that what dating is all about, too?
Consider matchmaking, set-ups and online dating, for example. People create profiles–similar to a PR practitioners’ backgrounders–to describe their personal and professional status. When one spots a potential match he or she contacts the other, usually with a clever, enticing online note–in effect, a pitch. If the pitch works, a first meeting may take place at a mutually selected venue. These early get-togethers will involve planning the event for which schedules are coordinated, clothing is selected, and grooming is completed so the presentation (date) goes exceptionally well.
As the relationship takes root, networking begins, first with friends and then with family. All of these actions are designed to create positive attitudes among the couple’s various publics. The following weeks and months will contain acts of caring and kindness, sharing of new experiences, and a calculated effort to compromise. This, much like PR, is done to reinforce positive attitudes.
Eventually a crisis may occur. Someone says or does something wrong or hurtful, and now an all-out effort is made to change negative attitudes. This may include giving flowers plus a number of “I’m sorrys.” Various reputation management tools must be used if there’s any chance of success. After the crisis, good behaviors must be sustained because, as I tell my students, good PR is more than clever words or window dressing. Maintaining consent from your publics must be supported by consistent, positive performance.
So on this Valentine’s Day, remember that when your date brings you flowers, that’s good PR. If your date also brings flowers for your mother, that’s even better PR! Your thoughts?
Like every semester, the one ending has been full of learning and experiences for students everywhere. As my students part for the holidays, I’m thinking about how watching them do what they do every day is my learning experience.
I’m amazed how much some students accomplish in addition to attending classes. They commit to multiple extracurricular activities, volunteerism and part-time jobs. Sometimes they’ll even do extra research, write a longer paper, or take a class for the sake of learning.
Many have overcome significant obstructions: difficult family lives, emotional or physical challenges, poverty, and more. Their spirits seem un-crushable.
They can experience unbearable personal tragedy and, with the support of friends and family, are incredibly resilient. Others struggle to recover, needing time and understanding as they try to finish missed work.
They take to public relations quickly. Most come into the program from other majors, and by the time they finish their first course, they know they want to do this professionally. And they’ll do 3-4 internships to get a leg up on the competition.
Little things give them happiness. Dressing up for a special on-campus event? Happiness. Being challenged with trivia questions in class? Happiness. Networking with a PR professional? Happiness.
They’re terrified of graduating. They can’t wait to finish school but they’re stressed by the idea that for the first time in their lives, they don’t know where they’ll be next September.
They’re incredibly tolerant and patient. They are far less judgmental about personal lifestyles than my generation, and they always seem ready to help classmates who sometimes face struggles with everything from English to emotional issues.
They’re excited about the future. Despite having lived with a log-jammed government, a serious economic crisis, terrorism and gun violence everywhere around them, they see themselves as catalysts for making the world a better place.
What I’ve most learned during this and in past semesters is how deeply I care about my students, and how much hope I have for their path to however they define success. They are truly my everyday inspirations. Your thoughts?
A note from Jeff Morosoff: Hofstra Honors College students in my PR Fundamentals class are required to submit guest blog posts throughout the semester. The following was written by public relations sophomore Nathalie Salazar. For my regular post, keep scrolling after the guest column.
Networking is an important aspect of any professional’s life, especially public relations professionals. Our job consists of communicating and building relationships with others. However, the question is whether you, as a public relations professional or an aspiring one, can network effectively.
Hofstra’s PRSSA chapter recently hosted a networking how-to at which PR Professor Laurie Bloom presented “Start Networking in 5 Easy Steps!”—an introduction to effective networking.
The first step is all about whom you know. “Think about the people you know: friends, college classmates, professors, your parents and their friends,” said Bloom. These are your connections. Beginning with already established relationships can help you get your foot in the door.
The second step is “Step Out!” You have to put yourself out there by looking for opportunities to network. Attending programs or conferences and joining organizations are great ways to begin networking among the professional field. For example, PRSSA is holding a Networking Dinner on Thursday, November 14 at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Plaza Room. Attending events like this can help you begin making connections and gathering contacts for internships or job opportunities.
The third is “Do Your Homework!” When networking, it is always important to know with whom you are networking. Find as much out about the organizations you want to join and if you attend a program or conference, research the professionals who will be there. Being well-informed will help you connect effectively.
The fourth step is “Prepare and Practice your Elevator Speech,” meaning, if you walk into an elevator and happen to run into a well-established professional who could possibly be your ticket to an internship or job, what will you say? It’s crucial to prepare and practice a short and effective summary of who you are and what your goals are. In an elevator speech, “think about what is most important for you to convey,” said Bloom. Have a key message and deliver it effectively when networking with professionals. Be concise and clear.
The fifth and final step is “Follow Up and Follow Through.” Effective networkers find a way to turn their contacts into real connections. “Ask if you can send a resume, call for an appointment…talk more over coffee,” said Bloom. During the first point of contact, nothing ever really happens besides an exchange of numbers or e-mail addresses. For this reason, the follow up is crucial in making a connection—and follow through with what you say you will do! “Most people do not!” noted Bloom.
Every professional networks. But effective networking is what will set a professional apart from the rest.
What are your thoughts on networking? What has worked for you and what hasn’t? Successes? Failures? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?
Last week, Hofstra’s Vice President for University Relations, Melissa Connolly, visited my PR Fundamentals class, as she’s done in the past. She talked about her job, its breadth of scope, its challenges and rewards, and the career path that brought her to the campus. Melissa was honest and engaging, and she left my students with a better understanding of what a PR professional does.
We followed her talk with a discussion about developing a professional network, and I shared a personal story about the time I met Jim McCann, the founder and CEO of 1800FLOWERS.com, at a friend’s daughter’s bat mitzvah. My friend handled PR for the company, and having read McCann’s book and admired his success, I asked for an introduction. He couldn’t have been nicer, and we finished our five minute chat by exchanging business cards.
The next morning I received an email from Mr. McCann–an extraordinarily successful businessman who meets dozens of people every day–saying how good it was to have chatted with me, and if he could be of assistance to me in the future, I should call. That small PR gesture was superbly memorable, because it only took him a few seconds to acknowledge our meeting and, with it, he made a lasting impression.
I told my students they could take a lesson from my McCann experience and write a note to Melissa Connolly. Less than 24 hours later, Melissa emailed me to say she received several thank yous from my students. It was gratifying to know they got the message: a small gesture showing appreciation can go a long way toward enhancing (or starting) your professional network. Now these students have made a PR connection that they may, on appropriate occasions, use again.
Woody Allen famously said, “Ninety percent of life is just showing up.” As a networker from way back, I know just what he meant. Your thoughts?