Networking For Young PR Professionals

As we navigate the professional landscape in 2024, networking stands tall as an indispensable cornerstone in the journey of young professionals, especially in fields like public relations where its significance is particularly pronounced. The evolution of networking has mirrored the dynamic changes ushered in by the digital era, adapting to the demands of a technologically driven world. The act of establishing connections within the industry remains a linchpin, offering a myriad of advantages, from securing new client work to unveiling job opportunities, receiving referrals, finding mentors and gaining invaluable insider intelligence. 

Recent statistics reinforce the pivotal role of networking, with a staggering 80% of job placements attributed to the strategic channels forged through professional connections.

Where to Get Started

Traditionally, events and conferences in public relations have been revered as prime arenas for networking, fostering meaningful connections through face-to-face interactions, especially as a young PR professional. However, the advent of the internet has transcended these physical boundaries, leading to a new era of online networking. 

Platforms such as LinkedIn have emerged as powerful tools, reshaping the landscape and empowering young professionals to expand their reach exponentially. Cultivating an online network that spans past internship contacts, professors, employers and colleagues has become a strategic imperative. This paradigm shift is particularly evident in the job application process, where leveraging online networking by connecting with current employees provides nuanced insights into company culture, thereby amplifying the potential for a lasting impression during interviews.

Four Steps for Success

Navigating the intricacies of networking in 2024 is an art that demands strategic finesse. Preparedness remains the key, instilling confidence in interactions and fostering relationships organically. To capitalize on networking opportunities, these timeless tips continue to hold sway:

1. Make Authentic Connections

Creating lasting impressions remains the primary goal, with authenticity taking center stage. The emphasis lies in genuinely understanding and connecting with individuals beyond superficial exchanges. Identifying shared goals and interests remains crucial, laying the foundation for meaningful conversations that contribute to the development of a robust professional relationship.

2. Show What You Can Offer

While the immediate inclination may be to assert personal needs, the current strategy continues to emphasize showcasing what one can offer to others. This approach, rather than being overt about personal goals, establishes goodwill. Networking is viewed as a reciprocal and mutually beneficial exchange, where both parties contribute to each other’s success, creating a symbiotic professional ecosystem.

3. Let the Other Party Speak

Being armed with thoughtful questions demonstrates genuine interest in the other person’s work and experiences. Allowing the other party to share insights, advice and feedback contributes to a balanced and meaningful conversation. The significance of questions regarding their duration with the company, required training for the position, and the overall company culture remains, fostering engagement and enriching the networking experience.

4. Follow-Up

In the dynamic and crowded networking environment of 2024, differentiation is crucial. Following up after an initial meeting, whether through email or LinkedIn, retains its status as an effective strategy. This not only reinforces the connection but also provides an opportunity to express gratitude for the interaction and convey continued interest in maintaining the relationship. A thoughtful follow-up holds the power to leave a lasting impression, setting the stage for future collaboration or engagement in a fast-paced professional world.

The Value of a Good Network

In the contemporary professional landscape, building a robust network transcends the mere showcasing of skills; it involves creating a memorable and enduring presence within the industry. Confidence in one’s work, coupled with effective self-presentation, enhances the likelihood of establishing meaningful connections that stand the test of time. The development of a strong network remains a valuable asset, offering ongoing support, guidance and opportunities throughout one’s professional journey. 

As a young PR professional in 2024, investing time and effort in networking continues to be a steadfast contributor to a fulfilling and successful career trajectory, unlocking doors to a world of possibilities and growth in an ever-evolving professional landscape.new client work, job opportunities, referrals, mentoring or having insider intel. In fact, a study conducted by The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that 85% of jobs are filled by networking!

The opportunity to network can happen at any PR event or conference, so make sure to take advantage of these moments when they present themselves. Aside from attending networking events in person, thanks to the internet you’re now able to network right from home! LinkedIn is one of the most popular sites when it comes to business networking; adding past internship contacts, professors, employers and colleagues can be a great start to building your online connections. If you’re interviewing for a job at a company, don’t be afraid to connect with one of their current employees and strike up a conversation on their experience with the company and what got them to their current position.

When networking it’s important to make yourself memorable. Being prepared can help you feel confident in your interactions and help relationships form naturally. Follow these tips:

  • Make authentic connections: Creating lasting impressions is the main goal. This will come easier if you take time to talk and get to know the person versus a brief chat. Try to see how you could both benefit from the connection and find shared goals and interests to strike up a conversation.
  • Show people what you can do for them: While you may be tempted to be forward about your intentions whether it is to land a job or an interview, offering your help instead will make them want to help you in return. Remember, networking should be mutually beneficial for both parties.
  • Let the other party speak: Make sure to come prepared with a few questions to ask the other party about their work/company. If you take over most of the conversation, you leave no room for them to share any advice, feedback or questions they may have for you. Asking questions like these can help the other person feel like you’re interested in what they have to say:
    • How long have you been with the company?
    • What type of training did you need for this position?
    • How is the culture of the company?
  • Follow-up: The chances that the person you are trying to connect with is also being pursued by several other people are high. Especially at a networking event, it can be hard to keep track of who is who. Getting their email or connecting with them on LinkedIn and sending them a message shortly after you’ve met can help secure a lasting impression.

While your skillset is important, building a strong network of those in your field and making a name for yourself can be a huge advantage for your professional career down the road. Remember to be confident in your work and practice presenting yourself, and you’ll have no trouble gaining connections.

PR Nightmares and How to Avoid Them

With Halloween just around the corner, there is no better time for us to revisit every communications professional’s worst fear: PR nightmares. Whether it be cringe-worthy performative activism (think Kendall Jenner’s 2017 Pepsi ad) or failure to be transparent with consumers, PR nightmares can take many forms and require communications professionals to quickly shift gears into crisis mode to protect their client’s image. Despite increasing corporate social responsibility among companies and brands, this year had no shortage of PR nightmares.

Notable PR Nightmares

Tropicana

Back in December 2020, Tropicana launched its #TakeAMimoment social media campaign which encouraged parents to share how they take breaks amid the struggles of pandemic parenting. The company insinuated that one way parents can relax during their downtime is by enjoying a Tropicana mimosa. While intended to be a light-hearted nod to how having children at home 24/7 drove many parents up the wall during school closures, the campaign offended many consumers who found it extremely insensitive given the dramatic increase in alcoholism during the pandemic. For example, Klen&Sobr, a recovery pod organization, tweeted: “FWIW, the campaign didn’t “imply” alcohol was the answer… it was *explicit* in demonstrating that hiding from one’s family —including leaving young children unsupervised— to drink alone was the answer. I’m gonna need to #TakeAMimoment to process your weak apology.” The company apologized shortly after the backlash stating that it had not meant to “imply that alcohol is the answer.

McKinsey & Company

Renowned global consultancy McKinsey faced widespread backlash after it was revealed that the group had aided Purdue Pharma in driving sales of OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription pain killer and a key driver of the opioid epidemic, which has contributed to the deaths of more than 450,000 people over the last two decades. When it later came out that top consultants at the firm had discussed destroying documents related to their work with Purdue, the outrage only intensified. McKinsey received public criticism from top politicians such as New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy as well as from former employees. The company issued a brief apology statement on its website, something it has rarely done in the past. Despite McKinsey’s half-hearted attempt to escape accountability for its actions, the company ultimately settled out of court for nearly $600 million for its involvement in the marketing of OxyContin. Given that McKinsey’s annual revenue is estimated at a whopping $10 billion by Fortune, one might argue that the settlement is not true accountability.

Governor Cuomo’s Resignation

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation in August 2021 after 10 years in office amid numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and a sexual harassment report from the attorney general’s office which found most, if not all, of these allegations to be true. In his last press conference, the former governor failed to take responsibility for his actions by insisting that he never intended to do any harm and suggesting that the allegations were “politically motivated.” Similar to the case of McKinsey, Cuomo’s attempt to evade accountability for his actions was received very negatively by the public, costing him his career and reputation. Cuomo’s fall from grace was especially jarring to the public due to his leadership during the pandemic – he won the country over by portraying himself as a man of integrity and transparency only for it to be revealed that the image he had carefully cultivated for himself was an illusion designed to conceal an abusive work culture and predatory behavior. A large part of the backlash Cuomo received from the public stemmed in part from a feeling of betrayal that he was not the upstanding leader he had convinced the country he was.

How to Avoid a PR Nightmare

These three crises are all very different in nature. McKinsey and Andrew Cuomo’s crises resulted in very real harm to those involved. Tropicana’s poorly worded advertisement was distasteful at best and offensive at worst. Interestingly enough, Tropicana’s crisis held the least consequences for the public, yet it was the only actor in all three cases to issue a genuine apology. This is largely because admitting wrongdoing in both McKinsey and Cuomo’s cases would result in legal and financial consequences in addition to reputational consequences. It is also in part due to the fact that the bigger the mistake is the more difficult the apology. So how can companies and individuals avoid making these dire mistakes that harm so many?

Clear Communication

Leaders and organizations should always be sure to communicate openly and honestly with the public. This means using intentional language in advertisements and on social media and being thoughtful about the repercussions of the messaging being communicated to the public.

Transparency

Companies and public figures should never hide pertinent information about their product or platform from the company. However, if something is hidden comes to light, the involved individuals and brands must come clean as soon as possible rather than attempting to further cover up past mistakes. Lying to the public will only cause more damage to the brand or individual’s reputation and its victims.

Accountability

When caught in a crisis, it’s imperative that organizations and individuals respond swiftly, taking accountability for their actions and apologizing accordingly.

Think of Your Audience 

At the end of the day, the best way to avoid PR nightmares is for brands and individuals to prioritize the wellbeing of the consumers and audiences they serve. This means listening attentively to your audience’s needs, concerns and feedback, and responding with genuine care and consideration. It means being transparent about business practices, product quality and any potential risks. It means taking responsibility for mistakes, swiftly addressing issues, and implementing measures to prevent recurrence. Explore our comprehensive range of PR and Communications services to discover how TASC can assist in avoiding and navigating a PR nightmare.

How to Know If Public Relations Is The Best Career Path For You

Public Relations (PR) is a strategic communications process that builds a mutually beneficial relationship between an individual or organization and the public. Our role as PR professionals is to relay information between our client and the public to influence opinion and perception. When you’re first starting in your career, it’s always tricky to pinpoint where your skills best fit and where they can thrive. More specifically, as a professional first starting in the public relations industry, it may take a while to figure out whether this is the industry for you. 

Below, we at The TASC Group have compiled the top five indicators to help you decipher if PR is the right fit for you and your talents.

How Do I Know if PR Is Right For Me? 

1. You Like a Little Bit of Everything

This may sound vague but hear us out. With PR, you end up wearing many hats and can make your way into any industry. Whether it’s social good, entertainment or politics, everything and everyone needs PR. You can learn the ins and outs of any industry without directly being labeled as a philanthropist, entertainer or politician. There are many moving parts when it comes to PR, which is why many PR professionals find it challenging to describe exactly what we do. We do everything.

2. You Love Writing; However, You Don’t Necessarily Want to Be a Writer

One thing you can guarantee about PR is that being a good storyteller will be a central part of your job whether that’s pitching your clients to journalists or training clients on how to engage with the media. Being a good storyteller is only half the battle in PR; you must be a great writer, which includes being adept at grammar, mastering nuances in language and knowing how to use the right words to get your message across. It’s the slight differences that genuinely set you apart in this industry.

3. Networking Comes Second Nature to You

Networking is often something that most people dread. However, if you shine while you’re connecting with people, you are headed in the right direction. Connecting is one word you will hear at least once a day when you are a part of this industry, and it is integral to succeeding. 

4. You Enjoy Working Behind The Scenes

Successful PR means your client shines without drawing attention to the mechanism that’s making it happen. As a PR professional, you will be doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes to elevate your clients’ stories. It’s not all glitz and glamor. PR includes being deeply involved in the ways you present your clients by doing thorough research and staying ahead of the latest news. We’re not in the spotlight but we’re making all the pieces fit together to paint that great picture on the outside.

5. You Are So Adaptable That You Might as Well Be a Chameleon

One of the most complex parts of being successful in PR is knowing when to adapt. The best of us often get stuck in our ways in this industry because we learn so much at the beginning of our careers that we forget how much things have changed from the first time we got a grasp on PR. If PR is truly the right industry for you, just know that being able to change along with the industry can get you far. 

If This Sounds Interesting, PR Might Be For You!

Although it’s often unnerving to decide on something as significant as your career, the great thing with PR is that it’s ever-changing, providing you with the opportunity to become an expert across sectors and stay engaged with current events. If you think you’re ready to take the step into the exciting world of PR, visit our website’s career page and see if there are any options that fit your resume. Additionally, if you’re interested but not sure you’re ready for a full time job, an internship is a great way to try PR out and learn new skills from our talented team at The TASC Group.

Dear CEOs, media relations isn’t a DIY job…and you don’t want it to be

What Happened to Blade? 

Two years ago, news broke that Blade, an aviation startup similar to a ride-sharing app offering helicopter rides, invented a person – their spokesperson. For three years, Blade maintained the existence of an invented staff member named Simon McLaren. He regularly spoke on behalf of the company in outlets including Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, occasionally even speaking with reporters over the phone. In reality, on the other end of reporters’ s was Blade’s CEO, Rob Wiesenthal. 

The company claims everything on record attributed to McLaren is factually accurate. Oddly enough, the company’s spokesperson McLaren soon took on a life outside of traditional media relations, even penning a blog that explored his experience throughout the pandemic and writing a regular newsletter. Blade also released a letter, supposedly written by McLaren, announcing his departure. After years of deceit, Wiesenthal came clean in an interview with Business Insider. As an explanation for this bizarre behavior, Wiesenthal told reporters that, “When it was appropriate for a spokesperson to respond to a press inquiry rather than the CEO, given that we did not have a spokesperson, we used the pseudonym . . .” 

There’s real value in having a firewall in the form of a spokesperson – sometimes CEOs don’t want to be in the line of fire and/or need to keep their distance from a crisis situation. They should have an actual spokesperson. In other words, Wiesenthal’s reasoning is valid, but the way he went about it was all wrong. 

Where Did Blade Go Wrong? 

Faking a PR person impacts brand integrity and image, creating mistrust and raising a lot of questions about a brand’s values and ethics. While it’s understandable that as a startup the company likely didn’t have the resources to maintain a full-time spokesperson, we have to wonder why, as the company grew, they didn’t look to experienced communications and media professionals to support their brand’s reputation. If they had, they could have saved themselves from becoming synonymous with this strange scandal. 

We know CEOs want to be in-the-know about all things related to their brand, and especially want to keep tabs on the perception of their company in the general public. Their primary interests are to protect their business, support its growth and build brand reputation. But media relations is not a part-time job, and it’s definitely not one that can be handled by an invented person or a busy CEO. While Blade clearly understood the value of a spokesperson and a communications team, they didn’t understand the value of having an experienced or even real one. 

How Could Blade Have Prevented This? 

Media relations is a craft mastered over years and requires extensive experience. Having a team specialized in media relations, either internally or as a third-party partner, allows a CEO to stay in the know while their team deftly builds media relationships, shares a company’s mission and values and insulates a brand from crises. Without a proper communications team in place, your company not only suffers from inattention, but it can also be at risk for a potential crisis and/or end up being misrepresented in the media. 

A communications team is also essential in growing a business from day one, as we’ve discussed in our blog about PR for startups. A developed communications operation enables a company to grow and reach new customers and investors. Experienced PR professionals understand what your stakeholders are interested in and the most valuable story your brand has to tell. Most importantly, they can tell you when your actions, as well-intentioned as they may be, could land you in hot water, rather than in the hearts of your audiences and potential investors. No matter the stage your company is in, invest in communications. It can only help, from growing your market share to giving you a better sense of what your brand really is. 

Blade has since hired a PR agency, something a seasoned professional would have told them to do long ago. Whether an organization is new and growing or established and reputable, a holistic communications strategy is foundational to any organization’s growth, public image and trust. To learn more about ways that The TASC Group can help your organization, visit our website.

PR for Startup Companies

In the dynamic entrepreneurial landscape of 2024, launching a startup is akin to navigating a labyrinth of challenges and opportunities. Amidst the myriad of considerations, one facet that demands unwavering attention is the formulation and execution of a robust public relations strategy. While the upfront costs associated with hiring a PR practitioner or engaging an agency may seem formidable for nascent enterprises, the enduring advantages far exceed the initial investment. In this era of cutthroat competition, the critical role of PR in shaping the trajectory of a startup’s success cannot be overstated.

Three Ways PR Can Help Your Startup

1. The Art of Crafting a Compelling Narrative

In an age dominated by digital interactions, the art of effective storytelling stands at the epicenter of triumphant PR. Founders embarking on the journey of media outreach must master the skill of articulating their company’s narrative with clarity and conciseness, accentuating not just what they do but also why it matters. This process extends beyond the immediate need for media coverage; it compels leadership to engage in a profound introspection of the company’s purpose and goals, fostering the establishment of robust core values right from the inception. Beyond the mere exchange of information, the interaction with journalists serves as a crucible for refining the company’s identity, providing invaluable insights into aspects that resonate most with consumers. The feedback obtained during these interactions becomes a compass guiding emerging startups, steering them away from potential pitfalls and ensuring a more compelling market entry.

2. Establishing Credibility

While a meticulously executed marketing campaign is undeniably pivotal, relying solely on self-promotion is akin to navigating treacherous waters without a compass. In an era where consumers are discerning and inherently skeptical, companies with little credibility beyond their advertising efforts risk falling short in winning over their target audience. Positive coverage from reputable news outlets and external organizations is a powerful catalyst for building a startup’s reputation and fostering brand awareness. This is particularly critical for startups with minimal consumer recognition in their early stages. Moreover, the cumulative effect of positive press extends beyond immediate gains, significantly boosting Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and thereby attracting potential partners and consumers, fortifying the startup’s foundation for long-term growth.

3. Navigating the Media Landscape with Finesse

The initial stages of a startup’s journey are often characterized by a lack of experience in media relations, and attempting to manage it internally can be a formidable challenge. This is where the expertise of a dedicated PR team or practitioner becomes indispensable. Beyond merely securing media coverage, a proficient PR team acts as a guiding compass, navigating the intricate landscape of media relations and ensuring a strategic approach. Importantly, having a robust communications team in place even before the official launch proves instrumental in sidestepping common mistakes that could potentially harm the brand image and impede the cultivation of positive media relationships. From ensuring timely follow-ups with journalists to meticulously proofreading public-facing documents, these seemingly minor details play a pivotal role in sustaining media interest and support.

PR Can Transform Your Startup

For visionary founders, the transformative impact of investing in top-notch PR support is a well-established truth. Far more than a mere expenditure, it is an investment that yields substantial returns over time, catapulting an ordinary startup into the echelons of a reputable brand. This differentiation not only contributes to financial and social growth but also ensures enduring success in the ever-evolving business landscape of 2024. Recognizing the indispensable role of PR is not merely a strategic choice for startups; it is an imperative, a compass guiding them towards sustained success and influential impact in the competitive realms of the business world. In the tapestry of startup success stories in 2024, PR is the thread that weaves lasting legacies.

Need help crafting effective messaging for your startup? Explore our comprehensive range of PR and Communications services to discover how we can assist in amplifying your organization to the media.

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