Beginning a Career in Public Relations

Sunday, November 20, 2005

New job, new responsibilities and a new chapter

After a short break and a trip to Washington, D.C. for the Business Women's Network Women and Diversity Conference, I'm back and beginning a new job tomorrow at Sterling Bank. My time at Schipul - The Web Marketing Company was extremely enriching, and I am thankful to Ed Schipul and the entire team for teaching me about myself, technology and the world. I'm excited about this new chapter in my life and meeting new challenges. More later!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Strategic Planning: Peter Hollister's Advice to New Professionals

On October 14, Peter Hollister, APR, Fellow PRSA, of Hollister, Trubow and Associates, presented a strategic planning and thinking workshop and many new professionals were in attendance!

Throughout the workshop, Peter emphasized that PR professionals are perhaps more correctly referred to as Relationship Managers because what we do is all about relationships and our work as PR professionals should be outcome-oriented.

Peter said that quite simply, the difference between long range planning and strategic planning is that long range planning is outdated by the time it is completed, but strategic planning is ongoing and does not have an end date. Always, always keep your plan in a loose-leaf binder - it's going to change!! Below are Peter's answers to a few of my questions relating to new professionals and the strategic planning process:

Kelly: How can someone just beginning his or her career in public relations work to demonstrate value to senior PR professionals and management?

Peter: I think there are several ways a new pro can demonstrate value. All of the obvious bear repeating - good energy, positive attitude, good work ethic, willing to go the extra yard, being accurate in both research and production and being a team player. Equally important, the new pro, like the seasoned pro, can be a strategic thinker and contribute to decision-making and production in a strategic manner. The new pro may not become a strategic planner for some time, but strategic thinking can be applied from day one.

Kelly: What contributions can new professionals make to strategic planning, since many of us are on the tactical side of PR, such as press release writing and distribution?

Peter: Even on the tactical side of PR - media releases, publications, event planning, etc. - the difference between an effective product and one that is not effective is often strategic thinking. A media release that is produced after going through the strategic thinking test - why are we doing this; who is the audience; what is the message; what objectives are we helping to reach; are we impacting a relationship goal; are we supporting the organization's mission; are the resources available - will be a more impactful media release than one that is simply "produced."

Kelly: What advice do you offer to new PR Pros who wish to have that coveted seat at the management table as we advance in our careers?

Peter: Patience, perseverance and strategic thinking. When management believes you are strategic and can offer sound advice and counsel, you will be brought to the table. You won't get to the table if management perceives you as a tactician, despite how good you might be.

Kelly: Can you provide a recap of recommended reading for those who were not able to attend the session?

Peter: If I could reduce it to two books, I would recommend Ronal D. Smith's "Strategic Planning for Public Relations," and Andy Bruce and Ken Langdon's "Strategic Thinking."

Kelly: Any other thoughts or advice?

Peter: Two final thoughts. First, don't rush to management's table. Getting there is half the fun. Do lots of tactical things, experiment, innovate, find the tasks that really get you excited and excel. Once you get to management's table, you won't have the time for the fun things. Second, sometimes good tacticians do make it to management's table, but usually to receive orders. The strategists at the table participate in the decision making that results in tactical orders.

Peter H. Hollister is principal and senior counsel with Hollister, Trubow & Associates, a communications consulting firm he co-founded in 1986. During his career as a professional communicator, Hollister has worked for the military, in the corporate sector for a public utility, in the not-for-profit sector as a vice president for three universities (University of New Hampshire, Northern Kentucky University, and The Union Institute) and as a consultant to management. He was inducted into the Public Relations Society of America’s College of Fellows in 1992 and was awarded the Florida Public Relations Association’s highest accreditation, Certified Public Relations Consultant (CPRC). Hollister is the author of the book Successful Strategic Public Relations Planning and has contributed articles and chapters to a number of publications.