Tag Archives: PRSA

12 Books to Read to Sharpen Your Public Relations Skills in 2015

I recently attended a PRSA Detroit event where Jason Vines (former automotive communications professional for Ford, Chrysler, Nissan and Compuware) spoke about his new book, What Did Jesus Drive? Crisis PR in Cars, Computers and Christianity.

Jason Vines

Vines gave a great presentation and I ended up purchasing the book for myself. It also got me thinking – what other great public relations books am I missing out on?

Book clubs are always popular, even Mark Zuckerberg has started his own book club on Facebook and has already covered The End of Power by Moisés Naím, The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker and Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh. This inspired me to create my own 2015 public relations reading list and these books made the top of my list:

1. What Did Jesus Drive? Crisis PR in Cars, Computers and Christianity by Jason Vines

I’ve already started this one since I have a signed copy from the PRSA event – I hope to pass it around the office once I’ve finished.

What Did Jesus Drive2. Reputation Rules: Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset  by Daniel Diermeier

In this business, reputation is everything. Many of the public relations programs we develop focus on building a company’s reputation. As we’ve all seen, one small event can bring a reputation down. Reputation Rules shares a number of recent case studies on how to weather the storm.

reputation rules

3. Rogue Elephants: One PR Girl’s Fight Through the Human Jungle by Jane Hunt

I love reading or hearing PR war stories from veteran practitioners and this book by Jane Hunt is just that. There are so many practitioners who get into PR from other industries and it just shows how PR is necessary in so many different industries and jobs.

Rogue Elephants4. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

I had the opportunity to hear Sandberg speak at an Adcraft event a while back and have heard amazing things about this book.

Lean In

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and in 2010 she gave an inspiring presentation at a TED conference encouraging women to take a seat at the table which she explores further in this book.

5. Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media by Aliza Licht

I have been waiting for Aliza’s book to come out for a while now and can’t wait to read it now that it’s here. I teach a fashion public relations class at The Art Institute of Michigan and I love showing Aliza’s videos to my students. Aliza has done a great job using social media to boost Donna Karan’s profile and her behind-the-scenes stories make this one a must-read.

Leave Your Mark6. This is How You Pitch: How to Kick Ass In Your First Years of PR by Ed Zitron

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a detailed guide on what to do when you start your first job in PR? Well Ed Zitron offers just that in his guide to pitching. If your career goal is to become the next Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, then this book will be a real eye opener into the real world of public relations.

This is How You Pitch7. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

Raise your hand if you could use a writing refresher course. As PR pros, we write for a living and if you’ve ever stared at your computer screen drawing a blank about how to make the next B2B press release sound fun and exciting or how to spice up your client’s LinkedIn page then this is the book for you.

EveryBody Writes8. American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce Hoffman

It’s hard to work in public relations in Detroit and not have some experience in the automotive industry whether it is for an automaker or for a supplier. I thought this book would be a great read from the perspective of the former Ford beat reporter from the Detroit News and for any PR pro working in the automotive industry.

american icon9. The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview by Brad Phillips

As a veteran PR person, most of this is probably a refresher for you, but for someone new to the industry this book is literally the PR person’s bible. This would also be a great resource for clients who are new to the PR world and media interviews.

The Media Training Bible

10. The Social Media Strategist: Build a Successful Program from the Inside Out by Christopher Barger

I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to see Christopher Barger and his team in action during my time working with OnStar. When I returned a few years later to work with the Chevrolet social media team I was able to see how the programs and policies they built turned into cutting-edge strategies. While social media is constantly changing, building a successful social program for a large company is no small feat and this book provides a great road map on where to start.

The social media strategist11. The Art of Perception: Memoirs of a Life in PR by Robert Leaf

Like I mentioned before, I am a sucker for good PR war stories and Robert Leaf delivers in his memoirs. From the man who led the PR industry for nearly 50 years, the lessons Leaf shares in his book are still relevant today.

The Art of Perception12. Good Self, Bad Self: Transforming Your Worst Qualities into Your Biggest Assets by Judy Smith

If you’re a fan of ABC’s Scandal, then why not take crisis advice from the real-life Olivia Pope, Judy Smith? Smith has been a “fixer” for clients such as Monica Lewinsky, NFL quarterback Michael Vick, Enron, Kobe Bryant and more. She also served as Special Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary to President George H. W. Bush. Suffice it to say this woman knows a crisis.

good self bad self

I’m looking forward to diving into these books in 2015. If you’ve read any of these books, I would love to hear your opinions. What public relations books are on your 2015 reading list?

Elizabeth Robbins-Sabourin is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5029 or sabourin@franco.com. Follow her on Twitter @DetroitDuchess.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Professional Organization

Networking is just one of the benefits of being in a professional organization.

I remember a conversation I had with a mentor about two years ago. She had a connection with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) for more than 15 years. What she said stuck in my head, “All of the jobs I’ve ever had, have come from IABC.”  I was already a member of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), but I thought that it might not be a bad idea to check them out.

I’m glad I did.


 “College isn’t the only place to go for ideas.”

Helen Keller

Through my involvement with PRSA and IABC, I have attended a number of workshops and seminars. Most were low-cost or even free to members and provided continuing education in my field. Workshops helped me harness the power of 140 characters to get a message across; a panel of bloggers gave advice on how to pitch to them.

“In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn”
Phil Collins

Professional organizations also provide mentoring. Whether you are new in your career or a seasoned veteran, mentors can provide great insight. Being a new professional in the industry, I’ve been able to talk to someone who can walk me through tough situations, assure me that everyone is not perfect and give me invaluable advice. A mentor has been in my shoes and knows what it takes to make it. Someone who’s new in public relations can introduce ideas to seasoned veterans. They enjoy hearing new ideas that they could utilize in their own company.

My advice is to take advantage of these opportunities. The field of public relations is an industry that needs to keep up with technology and emerging trends. Being part of an organization that understands these trends is invaluable.

 “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”
Francis Bacon

Often, agencies or businesses will post open positions exclusively on professional organizations’ websites before posting to others. This is just one more of many perks of membership.

I didn’t get my job at Franco on my own. I had a little help. No, it wasn’t divine intervention or luck.  It was because of my involvement with PRSA that I found the job posting on its website. Sure, my skills and background landed me the first interview. But I became aware of the opportunity because of my association with PRSA.

I’ve found tremendous value in professional organizations. I landed my dream job at my dream company all because of my involvement with PRSA and IABC.

Do you belong to a professional organization? What benefits have you found useful?

Andrea Kenski is an account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5092 or kenski@franco.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @detroitcitygrrl.

Working with rather than for is key to success

Client relationships are only successful if there is cooperation and agreement on where you are headed. Photo credit – Flickr: donnacollinsevents.

OK everyone, pair up. It’s time for the three-legged potato sack race. Ready…Set…Go!

I think we all know the key to running a successful potato sack race is to work together with your partner. Should one person decide not to participate, you are done, and stuck dragging dead weight as you fight to finish. It just won’t work unless there is cooperation and agreement on where you are headed.

Fast forward from your elementary school field day to now. Picture yourself, now a grown up, working for a living.

I’m going to go out on a ledge here and I assume most of you have experienced a situation that involved dragging dead weight or, at minimum, working with someone who is only interested in his or her way to achieve a goal. If you haven’t, well, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

Perhaps you have been in a situation involving a client you are promoting. You know there is a good story there, but the client is strictly tasking with one-way direction. Regardless of your efforts, no healthy dialogue is taking place. Will you effectively achieve your client’s goals? Most likely you will not. Consider your options and turn that working “for” situation into a working “with” relationship.

Unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t possible to work “with” a client and that’s when you may want to weigh your options and decide the best course of action. That could range from implementing the tasks as requested to resigning the account.

A resource for effectively handling these negative situations is Alan Cohen’s book, Those Difficult Talks for PR Pros™: How Best to Say What Needs to be said to Clients, Colleagues and Employees.

I attended a session that Cohen moderated at the PRSA 2012 Michigan Conference (CommLab 2012) that highlighted questions we face as PR pros and exercises that can help us prepare for such difficult talks. Cohen recommended looking at the big picture of any scenario and taking into account our own personal values in life.

What did I take away from the discussion? It’s not necessary to work in a negative atmosphere. Consider the situation, discuss it with your team, examine your personal beliefs and your company’s culture, and then make a decision.

Once you do, hop back in that potato sack with a partner and finish that three-legged race together.

Jim Miller is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach him at (313) 567-5029 or miller@franco.com. Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimMiller76.

Ethical behavior breeds PR success on many levels

Ethical behavior breeds success for not only your own career, but for your clients and company. Photo credit: Buddawiggi, Flickr.

Morals, principles, common sense and partnerships all share a common component – ethics.

From an early age, we’re taught to play nice with others. If you wouldn’t want something done to you, don’t do it to others is a lesson we learn at a young age. Seems simple, right? It is simple, and in the business world it is essential to success.

I have found, during my time at Franco Public Relations Group and in the PR industry overall, that ethical behavior certainly breeds success for not only your own career, but for your clients and definitely your company or agency.

Conduct yourself in an ethical manner and you’ll earn a reputation as a trusted resource, confidant, even a friend. Build trust with your clients and provide quality service and you’ll enjoy a long, productive relationship, and – if you’re really good – your clients may recommend you to other business owners in need of your services.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) supports that idea.

Building Principles on Core Values
The Code, created and maintained by the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), sets out principles and guidelines built on core values. Fundamental values like advocacy, honesty, loyalty, professional development and objectivity structure ethical practice and interaction with clients and the public.

Translating values into principles of ethical practice, the Code advises professionals to:

  • Protect and advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information.
  • Foster informed decision making through open communication.
  • Protect confidential and private information.
  • Promote healthy and fair competition among professionals.

One point I find interesting is to “Promote healthy and fair competition among professionals.” It’s important, and ethical, to extend your behavior beyond your agency and your clients to other public relations professionals who may even be competitors.

Why, you ask? Again, the answer is simple and worth repeating. It’s the right thing to do.

How do you practice ethics in public relations? How have you been successful in your career by implementing these fundamentals?

Jim Miller is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach him at (313) 567-5029 or miller@franco.com. Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimMiller76.

4 tips for breaking into the world of public relations

A resume should include a bulleted list of your education, work experience and (when appropriate) personal interests. Photo Credit: Flickr.

You’re fresh out of college with a degree in public relations. Now you need a job. Public Relations is all about connecting people, but do you know how to connect yourself? Scoring your dream job doesn’t have to be hard as you think. Here are a few tips that will help you stand out in that pile of resumes.

1. Construct a fluid resume. A resume should include bulleted points of your education, work experience and (when appropriate) personal interests. Be descriptive and use action words. Think outside of the box when listing your experience. If you were involved in any projects or programs outside of school or work that are relevant to your field, be sure to list them.

2. Draft a cover letter, and edit it thoroughly. Think of a cover letter as your opportunity to demonstrate your written communication skills and your personality.  Be clear and concise, explaining why you are contacting the employer and why they should care. Be specific to the position you’re applying for. Expand upon points in your resume. And proofread the letter carefully to catch any typos. Since PR is all about details, a typo in your cover letter could cost you the interview.

3. Provide work samples. The proof is in the pudding. If you present a potential employer with samples of the work you produce, the more likely you are to grab their attention. Provide press releases you’ve written and subsequent placements they may have resulted from your outreach. If you have not had an opportunity to conduct outreach on your own, provide writing samples from college classes.

4. Apply for internships. Experience is possibly the most important part of a job search. Employers want to know the individual they hire has practical experience in their industry, and the best way to gain that experience is through an internship. Apply for more than one. You’ll learn about different aspects of PR at a nonprofit than you would at an agency or in a corporate setting.

Now that you know how to land your dream job, are you looking for an internship? We’re looking for two summer interns. Learn more on our Facebook page.

Marie Stawasz is an assistant account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5201 or stawasz@franco.com. Follow Marie on twitter @MarieStawasz.