Beginning a Career in Public Relations

Thursday, July 28, 2005

More on Accreditation - APR Designation is Linked to Higher Salaries for PR Professionals

This just in...

Results from the 2005 PRWeek/Korn Ferry Salary Survey reveal that Accredited public relations professionals earn salaries that are 20 percent higher than their non-Accredited colleagues. On average, these Accredited public relations professionals earn $102,031 compared to $85,272 for non-Accredited practitioners.

Is Accreditation in your future? It should be!

For more information, visit and in Houston,

The survey was conducted by PRWeek and Millward Brown and was open to all PRWeek readers on From Jan. 18-31, 2005, a total of 1,864 readers completed the survey. Results were not weighted and have a +/- 2.3 percent margin of error.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 is Having a Birthday - Creativity Contest Entries Due July 29

I'd like to introduce you to ChaChanna Simpson, publisher of is a bi-weekly e-zine that addresses the important questions and concerns of twentysomethings (and "twentity" is such a cool word, too!) The site offers real guidance, advice and solutions on how to navigate through the "twenty-somethings" and provides fun interviews with experts. In spring 2001, ChaChanna launched SassyKibba Communications, a freelance copywriting business specializing in direct mail. Since then, her work has been published by local newspapers, Kuji Magazine, MBI, Inc, American Red Cross, Lifestyles Media, Inc. and Direct Media, Inc.

The idea for came to ChaChanna when she walked into her own apartment for the first time and was hit with the realization that she was the one who was supposed to get the light and cable turned on! And so on... A graduate of The College of New Rochelle, ChaChanna is an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc, Entrepreneurial Women's Network, Give 'N Take Network and Hal Jackson's Talented Teens International Jamaica.

ChaChanna's contest is asking for your creative writing - she asks that you write two paragraphs -- The beginning of the first paragraph must be "Last night I called you and didn't get an answer so I..." And the last paragraph must end with "...driving down the road looking for my cat."

You have until July 29th to send in your submissions to ChaChanna at You can write about anything you want - ChaChanna asks that it be entertaining. The most entertaining and creative entry will win a blockbuster movie card.

As a PR professional, I constantly am challenged to be more creative, especially in my writing and strategic thinking! More later!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Networking in the "Big D" - Dallas was home to 5th annual eWomenNetwork International Conference

Hello and I apologize for my silence this past week. I am just back from Dallas having attended the 5th Annual eWomenNetwork International Conference and Business Expo. I was honored to be among nineteen young women who were selected as recipients of the Inagural International Femtor(TM) Emerging Leader Award. This award recognizes women in their twenties who are in the process of launching their careers, yet despite their youth, have developed a track record of leadership, accomplishment and service to others. I especially would like to thank Terri Craig, managing director of the Houston eWomenNetwork chapter, as well as all the members who made my trip to Dallas and the Femtor(TM) scholarship possible. I also would like to thank Sandra Yancey, woman extraordinaire and founder of eWomenNetwork for her dedication and commitment to creating a network that is "other-focused" and creates a world of abundance for everyone, both women and men.

Since the public relations profession relies on networking, I found the conference and the speakers to be valuable assets in helping me continue down the path in my public relations career. I also learned to appreciate all the mentors and femtors in my life who have helped me learn about the profession who have helped me learn about public relations and where I fit in.

All the speakers at the conference reiterated the message of not giving up and working toward your goals and dreams, no matter how far away they may seem. I think for many of us just starting out in our careers, even if not in public relations, that reassurance is helpful in hearing the stories of accomplished men and women. Nely Galan, CEO of GALAN Entertainment, Fox Network Creator and Executive Producer of THE SWAN, delivered Thursday night's keynote address. Nely's story is so inspiring in the fact that she didn't let obstacles slow her down. Nely's career spans from launching television channels such as ESPN in Latin America to serving as president of Telemundo.

At age 22, Galán became the youngest television station manager in the United States.

Please check back in the days ahead for more "lessons learned" from this wonderful event and be sure to post your comments about your networking tips and even recognize your mentors and femtors here!

Friday, July 08, 2005

An Interview with NASA/Johnson Space Center Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Carpenter

I am excited to share with you my recent interview with Dan Carpenter, NASA/Johnson Space Center Deputy Chief of Staff. Dan has held several public affairs positions in the Marine Corps including recruiting duty, several operational public affairs positions and also served as Director of Public Affairs in Okinawa, Japan from 1996-98 during a very intense timeframe for our forces in Okinawa due to host nation sensitivities.

Read on to learn more about Dan's work with NASA, his experiences with the Columbia tragedy and his thoughts as NASA returns to flight this month. Dan reminds our readers that the opinions expressed in this are entirely his own and in no way reflect the views of NASA or the federal government.

Kelly: Dan, please tell our readers a bit about your background - where you attended college, what you studied and what you enjoyed the most.

Dan: I studied Broadcast Journalism at the University of Mississippi, graduating cum laude in 1979 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Marine Corps the same day. I served 20 years in the Corps, traveling across the country to Europe, Thailand, Australia, Japan, Korea, SW Asia/Persian Gulf and I once spent the night at Wake Island, where the sun rises on US territory. I am a life-long learner. I always tried to learn new techniques and how others did things. I attended a one-semester grad course at Oklahoma and received two masters degrees (one in MS IT Management and one in public administration). Even if you can't get a masters, always do things that stretch you, that make you grow, because if you are not growing, then you are dying on the vine.

From college, the journalism classes that stayed with me the longest were the writing classes and classes that made me think or innovate. My favorite class as an undergrad was PoliSci (International Relations); in grad school it was The American Presidency--both because they made me think. The ability to think on your feet and/or to write on deadline (whether for a paper or a boss) is priceless. Writing is the one skill I want my folks to have; I can teach them most anything else. I believe it is imperative to have a personal writing style that you can depend on in crunch time.

Kelly: What advice do you offer to students and new professionals who are pursuing a career in public relations and are interested in public affairs?

Dan: Learn about the American system--political, economic, social, etc. If I had it to do over again, I would major in political science or history and learn the journalism stuff in grad school. If you are intent on learning PR or journalism, then get a minor in PoliSci or History--or at least take enough classes to understand what makes this country so great when you compare it to others. No nation has made a democracy work for itself--and spread it to so many other places--as the United States. If you can't get a paid internship, then volunteer for a nonprofit.

This field has so many opportunities to gain experience from what I have seen in my five years in Houston, it is amazing. So many "kids" have so much experience at graduation that if you can't get a paid gig, volunteer for a nonprofit and do their Web site or newsletter. Write a communications plan for them. Do something. You will feel good about it, and you have experience and material for your portfolio.

Public relations and public affairs are very similar--they use many of the same tools and techniques. If you can write for a PR or ad agency, you can work in government or nonprofit public affairs. In my honest opinion, public affairs is more about relationships and stakeholders with a little customer service sprinkled in (I myself am big on CSR). I have never worked in a PR agency, but my understanding after talking to many people (and hiring several PR agency pros) is that customer service is numero uno and you do things a bit more creative--like go boldly where government folks don't.

Kelly: From a communications standpoint, what challenges exist within the government when creating messages for your many audiences?

Dan: I briefly touched on it above, we have many, many stakeholders and a few customers. In my own personal view, I tend to look at internal folks as customers and external constituencies as stakeholders. The PUBLIC (citizens, museums, students, etc.), the President and our local HR shop, programs, and leaders are customers. Community leaders, congressionals, Office of Management and Budget, science organizations and associations, etc., are all stakeholders. Stakeholders are as important as customers oftentimes since they can greatly influence how we are perceived by the public--and actually do more of that than our customers.

Whenyou have that many audiences, you have a great challenge on your hands to develop messages that resonate with that many publics. On the other hand, it gives you a great opportunity to speak to a great portion of the population and in this day of Webcasting and satellite TV, you can share a your story with the public directly.

Kelly: Dan, can you describe what it was like to handle the tragedy surrounding the loss of Columbia?

Dan: Wow. I have worked several crises during my military career but thankfully nothing like the Columbia. Two and a half years later, it still shapes our Agency and our will be a life defining moment for so many people. That part of it can never be adequately described.

The public affairs aspects are a bit more attainable. Huge spike in attention. We had no media in our newsroom as Columbia flew towards the Cape (wanna guess how many will be there next flight?). Less than 24 hours later we had in excess of 1,500 media onsite at Johnson Space Center. I spent my public affairs life always preparing for my organization's worst disaster and hoped it never came.

We were prepared at Johnson Space Center and were greatly saddened that we had to put those preparations to use. Some day I will write a case study on it but for now just take my word that you need to be able to write, move and talk with unending pressure on you when the situation calls for it. It was simply the most pressure I have been under in my professional career--and it was there from February 1st through the end of August while the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) was working its report.

Kelly: Given the recent report on shuttle safety and the impending launch of Discovery as early as July 13, how are you preparing as an agency?

Dan: You know what, our Agency has had one focus since the CAIB released its report August 26th, 2003 and that has been to return the Space Shuttle to safe flight. We have diligently worked all of the CAIB Report issues, including the three that were not completed but will continue to be worked. While we continue to work those, we have incorporated their open status into our risk assessment.

Next week, we approach an opportunity to launch, to test our preparations and test some additional measures up on orbit. Tens of thousands of people have dedicated large portions of their lives for more than two years to prepare for that opportunity and we are confident that as an Agency and as individuals that we have done as much as possible we are ready to fly--given what we understand about space flight and the constraints that we live within.

Make no mistake, humans leaving the bonds of earth and returning is risky business. We have people on the ground and as astronauts in Discovery's crew who believe it is worth the risk. They are neither daredevils nor irrational people. They are mothers and fathers who have dedicated much of their adult life to learning their profession-- human space flight. They believe that pushing the boundaries of space flight is worth the risk; they believe that while ships are safe in port, they were made to sail--and into harms way if that is necessary. That we have moons and planets to explore with humans. That while robots are great for trailblazing and reporting back on the environment, humans have an onboard computer and mobility that far outstrips any robot that we can send to far off places. And more than that, we can reason and think in real time.

Next week, if the weather holds, you will see humans thinking and acting as the shuttle Discovery visits the crew of the International Space Station for the first time in over two years.

Dan invites you to click here to learn more about the crew of both Discovery and the International Space Station.

Monday, July 04, 2005

ONE Campaign in Full Swing as G8 Approaches

Today's post will be short, as many of us are off today celebrating our Independence Day and remembering those who made America the land of the free. Other countries are not as fortunate as the United States. In preparing for the upcoming G8 summit, leaders and organizers of the ONE Campaign are in high gear.

The ONE Campaign is a high-profile, celebrity-driven push to eradicate poverty and AIDS around the world, most immediately in Africa. However, involvement is not limited to celebrities only. Visit the ONE Campaign Web site to see how you can become involved. Web site visitors are encouraged to ask President Bush for his support at the upcoming G8 meeting for an unprecedented debt-aid-trade deal for the people in the poorest countries.

Live 8 concerts were held yesterday to increase pressure on G8 leaders. I've been in contact with Seth Wispelwey, organizing ONE fellow for the campaign in Texas and Oklahoma, and will keep you posted on opportunities to become involved in Houston. I appreciate him sending me a ONE white wristband to wear in support of the Campaign.

Be sure to check out the ONE Campaign Blog, too.