We devote so much time and energy to building and protecting our employer’s reputation that our own personal brand can risk becoming the proverbial cobbler’s children with no shoes.
At the recent PRSA North Pacific District conference in Seattle, Nicole Leverich made the case for why it’s so essential to actively manage your personal brand. Nicole, who serves as senior director of corporate communications for LinkedIn, offered practical tips on how to strategically maximize your LinkedIn profile.
A current, carefully curated LinkedIn profile is practically a necessity at this point, whether you’re just beginning your career or are already established.
Nicole’s presentation opened the conference, and it came full circle on the last day during a breakout session led by Kelly Guenther and Chad Lakin of the video company Shootsta. Kelly is a video specialist, and Chad is Shootsta’s vice president for North America.
How to Maximize Your LinkedIn Presence:
1. Photo. Choose a professional-looking profile photo to help bring your page to life. Don’t forget to choose a custom background photo as well. If nothing springs to mind, a cityscape is always a nice option. A unique background photo shows that you’re being thoughtful with your image and aren’t passively settling for LinkedIn’s default blue photo.
2. Location. According to LinkedIn’s tips guide, including the city where you’re based makes you stand out up to 23 times more in searches.
3. Industry. Choose the appropriate industry category (e.g., “Public Relations and Communications” or “Marketing and Advertising”), so that people can easily identify your primary field of interest.
4. Summary. Think of your summary as your elevator pitch. It’s how you want to be positioned in the minds of prospective employers/clients/contacts. It should be at least 40 words in length.
5. Experience. You don’t want your LinkedIn profile to read like a résumé. Make the descriptions of your various roles more conversational vs. a bulleted list copied and pasted directly from your résumé.
6. Media. Upload photos, videos, presentations, and other non-proprietary work samples to showcase what you bring to the table. As Nicole noted, don’t feel like you need to have been the sole contributor to a project to share it on your profile. Most complex projects take a village, which people understand.
Finding impactful work samples to share when your primary focus is internal communications can be challenging. But as Nicole pointed out, most major internal campaigns have some external-facing element that can be representative of the project.
7. Education. Fill in your degree type, areas of study, and alma mater. LinkedIn members who list educational information on their profile receive up to 11 times more views, according to a company tips sheet.
8. Skills. You can pin up to three skills to highlight as top skills that appear prominently on your profile. Be thoughtful about which skills you choose, and how you order them. This will likely change throughout your career, so revisit this section regularly to make sure the emphasis is where you want it to be right now.
9. Endorsements. Skill endorsements are votes of confidence from other LinkedIn members. They lend credibility to your profile.
If your endorsements aren’t for the skills you want to highlight, ask people you’ve had positive working experiences with if they’d feel comfortable endorsing you for specific skills. You can offer to do the same for them.
Endorsement are quick and easy to give with the click of a button.
10. Recommendations. These are written statements from LinkedIn members endorsing you. They provide detail and context that skill endorsements do not. You can ask contacts for recommendations through LinkedIn, and you can also proactively give recommendations to others.
11. Volunteering. Employers like to see that candidates give back and make a contribution to their community. Be sure to add a section listing your volunteer experience. The causes you support help paint a picture of what you value.
12. Connecting and following. Best practice is to only connect on LinkedIn with people you actually know. But for people (or companies) you admire or want to get to know, following them is a great option. Following your organization’s competitors can also yield useful insights.
Nicole recommended following these influencers:
a. Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founder of Microsoft
b. Jack Welch, executive chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute
c. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
d. Priyanka Chopra, actress and philanthropist
e. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn
13. Updates and publishing. Nicole likens LinkedIn updates to Tweets, and the publishing platform to blogging.
Updates (which can be photo or video as well as text) are a quick way to build your brand while sharing things you find interesting and hope others will too.
Publishing is long-form (4+ paragraphs) and should be reserved for deeper explorations of topics about which you’re passionate.
Anything you publish becomes part of your profile and is shared with your network, unlike updates. So that content should be workshopped and fine-tuned.
Nicole recommends setting as a goal 1-3 updates per week, and 1 published post per month.
In the Shootsta presentation, Kelly discussed the power of video – and how it’s easy to capture quality video on your smartphone using a few tips and tricks like the AE/AF lock, shooting horizontally, and investing in a tripod or gimbal for stabilization.
He encourages people to share video updates on LinkedIn. You can either record video directly through the LinkedIn app, or you can save it to your phone then upload it to LinkedIn.
14. Integrating with personal websites. Gone are the days of going to a job interview with a physical portfolio. More and more, companies want and expect to see a digital portfolio.
If you have one, integrate it with your LinkedIn profile. You can list your personal website’s URL in your LinkedIn profile, and you can link to your LinkedIn profile from your website. This creates a loop of information showcasing you and your work.
There are many different content management platforms, and each is different. With Squarespace, for example, you can add a social links block to your website that will display the LinkedIn icon and hyperlink to your profile. You can also choose to automatically push content you add to Squarespace to LinkedIn.
15. Check your settings. Check your LinkedIn account settings and adjust as desired. For example, you might not want your profile edits broadcast to your whole network. There’s also a feature you can enable that will discreetly let recruiters know that you’re open.
Additionally, you can customize your profile’s URL, so it’s something clean like www.linkedin.com/in/yourname.
We provide objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions. Part three of our six-part series highlighting the PRSA Code of Ethics principles.
By Lee Weinstein
Twenty years ago, PR staff weren’t in most of the rooms where C-suite leaders were making important decisions. Today, smart organizations know that to succeed, PR not only needs to be in the room, but will provide counsel to help them make better decisions that may ultimately drive strategies.
When we take on a new client, we commit to serve them as an independent resource. We aim to tell them the truth and give them our best advice, no matter what. Our role is listen and ask, to discern and consider, and then to provide objective counsel—even if they or their stakeholders don’t like it.
We need to be able to walk clients 360 degrees around an issue without mincing words—for their benefit and our own self-protection, so we don’t get embroiled in a communications mess, or have them tell us we didn’t warn them when it happens. It is our job to share the upsides and downsides as we see them, and to be prepared for clients to disagree, or to walk away if their choice isn’t one with which we can live
I once had a manager who coached me to, “Always remember your first instinct.” It was good advice, and is something to always come back to before making recommendations. Another leader came into our organization, looked around and observed, “There’s not enough gray hair in this department.” She was right: Experiences matter in PR, and every project, announcement, issue and crisis we work on makes us better practitioners.
Independence from our own biases needs to be consciously considered as well. As counselors, what don’t we know? What view isn’t represented and being considered? Whom else should we consult? Have we included diverse voices and backgrounds?
Independent counsel and expertise is what clients pay us for, and we must be accountable to them and ourselves. If we don’t deliver the goods (and sometimes, the bad and the ugly), we’re not doing our jobs.
(Lee Weinstein is president of Weinstein PR based in the Columbia Gorge and Portland, Oregon, and PR Boutiques International, an association of more than 40 boutique PR agencies in 17 countries. He is also author of “Write, Open, Act: An Intentional Life Planning Workbook.”)
By Vicky Hastings, APR
Why is it hard for some organizations to be transparent with media?
Honesty is always the best policy, as everyone knows. Not only do consumers prefer brands that are truthful, the PRSA Code of Ethics calls for it.
Many of us have faced situations in which an employer or client doesn’t want to comment on a controversial topic when queried by media. You, too, may be tapped to “keep us out of this story.”
If it’s a legal or personnel issue, and your organization has a policy of not publicly commenting such matters, you can say that with complete integrity.
But in other cases, it’s more complicated. Saying “no comment” is a comment it itself − one your client may not want to see when published.
When unsure what to do, turn to the Code of Ethics for guidance on ethical practices. Honesty and integrity are among a successful PR practitioner’s most important assets.
It is easy to jot down a few goals each year, but how many of us actually take the time to figure out how we will accomplish those goals?
Communicators know it takes research and planning to implement an organization’s big goals, and the same is true for your personal goals. As you plan how to reach your professional targets for 2018, consider mentoring as a strategy to get you there.
Benefits for mentors and mentees
The mentor/mentee relationship can guide your professional growth and help you map out the steps to realize your dreams.
“Dave Thompson has been a fantastic mentor who helped me realize the different career paths within communications and provided many great networking and educational opportunities,” said Pete Donahue, Internal Communications Manager, Johnson Controls. “We meet regularly to review my progress toward certain career goals and I learn something new every time we meet.”
Mentees are not the only ones who benefit from this relationship. Veteran communicators find that time spent investing in someone’s future enhances leadership and helps them develop new skills.
“Mentoring develops and enhances the professional growth of both mentor and mentee,” said Dave Thompson, APR. “I think I learn more from the experience then the professionals I mentor!”
The mentoring program matches communicators based upon the needs of the mentee and the skills of the mentor. Then, it is up to the pair to establish a meeting schedule. We recommend meeting at least once a month.
To learn more about becoming a mentor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let PRSA’s values guide your decision-making
Erin Merz, M.A., APR
Ethics and decision-making go hand in hand. Next time you’re challenged with making a tough choice at work, consider the six core values in PRSA’s Code of Ethics: Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty and Fairness. We’re going to spotlight these values throughout the year, starting this month with Advocacy:
We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts, and viewpoints to aid informed public debate.
We are advocates for our clients and employers when we put their interests first. We are responsible advocates when we also consider the interests of their publics. The foundation of our profession is mutually beneficial relationships. Consequently, we’re obligated to make a committed effort toward achieving mutual benefit. While the balancing act between institutional interest and public interest can be tricky, it’s always necessary. Don’t be discouraged when compromise is the result of a difficult decision. In fact, strategic adaptability is critical to long-term success.
Without a doubt, the recent demise of British agency Bell Pottinger will be used as a case study for what not to do when it comes to ethics in public relations. Their destructive advocacy on behalf of clients is what PRSA has been combating since its inception. Read PRSA Chair Anthony D’Angelo’s take in his letter to The New York Times.
On the opposite extreme, Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol recall nearly 40 years ago cost the company millions of dollars when it made public health and safety a priority. This classic crisis management case reminds us that putting public interest ahead of profit can pay off in the long run.
The Oregon chapter of the Public Relations Society of America announces its selection of the 2018 board of directors, following the Annual Membership Meeting and Elections held Nov. 8, 2017.
2017 signified a landmark year for PRSA, as the organization experienced a successful and historic merger that established the unified chapter of PRSA Oregon. During a year of vast change, the recent integration of the Oregon Capital, Greater Oregon and Portland PRSA chapters skillfully applied its position as a statewide organization, as well as utilizing its enhanced ability to cultivate professional development and implement its resources throughout a vast region.
During recent months, a 20-person Nominating Committee assembled a compilation of outstanding candidates for the 2018 slate. The carefully-selected contenders included PRSA members from across Oregon with a variety of backgrounds in government, healthcare, higher education, nonprofit and public relations agency work.
Julie Williams, the 2017 president-elect of PRSA Oregon, was eager to attract influential leaders in 2018 that would work to continue the chapter’s transformation in the new year.
Members of the newly-elected 2018 board of directors include President Brian Terrett, APR, Interim Secretary Tracey Lam, Treasurer Siobhan Taylor, Immediate Past President Colby Reade, APR, Assembly Delegates Gail Dundas, APR, Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, PRSA Fellow and Julie Manning, APR, Events Director Victoria Wagner, Member Director Sally Ridenour, Service Director and Nominating Committee Co-Chair Casey Boatman, Advocacy Director Erin Merz, APR Sponsorship Director Michael Lewellen, APR and Communications Director Judy Asbury, APR.
One outstanding position is that of president-elect and will be selected in the coming weeks by the 2018 Board of Directors.
“Oregon’s PRSA presence is one of the strongest among PRSA chapters around the country. We’ll continue to provide strong and skilled leadership at the national level and strengthen our reputation as a key voice in local, regional and national governance,” said Dianne Danowski-Smith, PRSA Oregon Assembly Delegate #2.
Looking forward, PRSA Oregon is excited to establish a strong presence among PRSA chapters throughout the country. Each of the newly-elected members of the new board of director’s have voiced exhilarating goals for 2018.
In her day job, Elisa Williams is a communications consultant at Oregon Health & Science University with an extensive background in journalism.This year, she’s been instrumental in communicating PRSA Oregon’s transition from three regional chapters into one.
Her dedication to the transition committee and enthusiasm for PRSA Oregon has earned her the title of Volunteer of the Year. Thank you and congratulations, Elisa!
As a side note, if you are curious about ways to get involved with our Chapter, I highly encourage all of you consider volunteering. Just reach out to email@example.com and the service committee will be happy to get you involved.
New 300-Member Chapter Marks Completion of Historic Merger, Hosts Two Signature Events to Close out 2017
Portland, Ore. – The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is in the midst of a major celebration as it caps off a banner year in the state of Oregon. The nonprofit professional organization dedicated to the growth and advancement of the practice of public relations opted to merge Oregon’s three chapters – Portland, Oregon Capitol and Greater Oregon – into a unified, statewide chapter.
“By merging our chapters from three regional groups into one, statewide organization, it becomes much easier for us to connect and network,” said Colby Reade, APR, PRSA Oregon President. “It also opens up vast opportunities for our organization to offer a much wider range of professional development and skill-building resources to our members.”
The merger is the result of several years of deliberation and collaboration by members from all three chapters. The decision appears to be a success as the organization is enjoying a substantial membership increase year-over-year.
Spotlight Awards Announced
Along with the merger of all of the chapters around the state, PRSA Oregon announced the 2017 recipients of the prestigious Awards of Distinction at this year’s Spotlight Awards Ceremony, held on October 20th at the Willamette Valley Country Club. They include:
Professional Award of Excellence
Nicole Early was selected as the 2017 New Professional Award of Excellence which is presented to a “rising star” who has entered the field of public relations in the past 5 years. The award is presented to a professional who has demonstrated his or her commitment to advancing public relations through career achievements, volunteerism, and the highest standards of professionalism.
North Pacific District PR Practitioner of the year, Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service, Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award
Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow, had a very active fall as she was honored with the PRSA North Pacific District’s 2017 PR Practitioner of the Year, and the national Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service along with the PRSA Oregon Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award.
The Lund Public Service Award honors a PRSA member whose participation as a volunteer in important public activities has increased the common good and reflected credit on the society. The Ron Schmidt Community Involvement award is given to a public relations practitioner who has performed exceptional service to the community, to achieve results that help the greater good.
Olga M. Haley Mentorship Award
Taraneh A. Fultz APR, a current senior field analyst at Cambia Health Solutions, was announced as the winner of the Olga M. Haley Mentorship Award, an award given to a PRSA Oregon Chapter member who demonstrates exceptional mentorship of others as they advance their careers in public relations.
William W. Match Lifetime Achievement Award
John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA, has been awarded the William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award for 2017. Mitchell, a professor in the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications, was given this award because he has invested significantly in developing public relations as a credible profession, accomplishing landmark professional achievements and furthering the goals of PRSA.
For additional details on the event and winner bios, please visit prsaoregon.org.
Another key highlight of the year was May’s Communicator’s Conference in Portland, Oregon. Drawing hundreds of attendees from around the Pacific Northwest, a variety of speakers, including the University of Oregon, ODOT, Portland Public Schools and REI the conference offered insights on a variety of topics centered on the theme of “Leading Strategies”.
Founding Board Members of PRSA Oregon:
President: Colby Reade, APR
President-Elect: Julie Williams, APR
Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer: Dave Thompson, APR
Secretary and Chief Operations Officer: Tracey Lam, APR
Leadership Assembly Delegate: Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA
Leadership Assembly Delegate: John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA
Communications Director: Beverly Brooks
Director of Student Affairs: Megan Donaldson
Director of Service: Taylor Long
Director of Events: Olivia MacKenzie
Sponsorship Director: Amy Ruddy
Director of Membership: Siobhan Taylor
Immediate Past President: Mark Mohammadpour, APR
Immediate Past President: Jill Peters, APR
Immediate Past President: Loralyn Spiro, APR
A brand new board of directors will be elected during our 2017 Annual Membership Meeting & Elections held on November 8th, via a webinar. In addition to the elections, current and incoming Chapter leadership will review 2017 highlights including the transition to a statewide chapter, 2018 priorities and hear elections results of the incoming board.
About PRSA Oregon:
The PRSA Oregon chapter, which serves approximately 300 public relations professionals in Oregon and Southwest Washington, supports lifelong professional development and honors excellence in public relations. More than one-fifth of chapter members have earned Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), the profession’s only national post-graduate certification program. The Oregon chapter is led by an all-volunteer board of professionals from across the state. Signature events include the annual Spotlight Awards, honoring excellence in public relations, and the Communicator’s Conference, a professional development event held once a year. The Oregon chapter of the Public Relations Society of America is one of 109 PRSA chapters across the country.
At our final Transition Steering Committee meeting for 2017, we took a few minutes to celebrate the momentum we’ve built. We’ve been so busy working on projects, that I think even we were surprised by everything that our newly formed regional chapter had accomplished when we reflected upon the year.
As the final report of year, let’s take some time to review the details of the journey, directly leading to the plans for next year. This will be a long post, but I think you’ll be reassured and reminded that we apply the same passion and process to running the chapter as we do to our profession.
In March, we had gathered in the same conference room at Make-A-Wish to review all of the commitments and programs grandfathered in by the former chapters, along with all of the transition tasks, that needed to be considered in combining the three local chapters that had served Oregon and SW Washington for the last 60 years. There were nearly 100.
At the time, we determined we couldn’t pursue them all this year. We resolved to undertake the transition over two phases in two years and prioritized projects for 2017 that best set up the chapter for success and that would ultimately bring the most value to our members.
Work on phase one projects is nearly complete. As we wrap up in November, last steps are to:
We’ve also clearly defined what needs to get done next year as part of phase two of the transition. We have a well-documented road map built off our 2017 action plan to share with the incoming board during orientation.
This plan will guide the newly formed Executive Committee that is taking over the transition management and comprises officers, assembly delegates, immediate past president, for 2018 the communications director as well.
This team will take over for the ad hoc Transition Steering Committee from 2017 and the Statewide Governance Committee in 2016 and hold a quarterly call to make decisions and measure progress.
The Transition Phase 2 action plan includes:
The Executive Committee will oversee six phase two projects in order to complete the smooth transition of three chapters into one chapter that’s built on operational and communications best practices.
The six big projects support the current strategic priorities:
We’ve integrated as much of our findings into the planning process as feasible for 2018, including these additional changes throughout the year.
With all 25 committee members committed, the Service team will provide volunteer orientations.
We will also host a virtual annual membership meeting.
Q: Why another annual meeting so soon?
A: Because currently our bylaws required an “annual meeting” hosted prior to Nov. 30 in order to elect a board, but the membership preferred an annual membership meeting as a “state of the union” to kick off the year. Once switched in 2018, then the next one will be January 2019. Elections will likely remain separate, administered remotely and electronically.
To reflect our broad geography, we will host quarterly, in-person board meetings around the region instead of monthly in-person board meetings.
Q: So the board will only meet 4 times?
A: Not quite. The Executive committee (comprising half the board) will meet quarterly and likely remotely, the board will meet quarterly and in-person, and each of the six program committees (events, membership, service, advocacy, sponsorship, and communications) will meet quarterly and in-person ideally though perhaps more frequently via remote meetings, to make decisions and measure progress. That breaks down to about a monthly meeting and potential travel per board role, which seemed reasonable. Some will have more meetings if they also serve on a subcommittee.
We will start the nomination committee process earlier and hold the service draft in June to nominate board members, followed by the service draft in August to nominate committee members.
Q: Why start so soon in the year?
A: The nominating, recruitment and commitment process is a long one. So that board members can be elected prior to the PRSA International Conference, as and if amended in our bylaws, we need to start sooner than July like in the past.
Throughout the year and during the Listening Tour, we’ve consistently heard how excited members are about the changes, process and progress. Our unofficial motto this year has been: “it takes a village.”
So, how can you help out next year?
Those are just a few starter ideas, we’d love to hear more. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personally, I’m very proud of the Transition Steering Committee team:
Beverly, Dave, David, Elisa, Jill, Lily, Loralyn, Maritza, Mark, Megan, Siobhan, Taylor, Tracey, and consultation from Colby and Brian – what we accomplished and the connections we made in the process with so many members around the region.
Instead of monthly conference calls, this team opted to meet in-person every month, offered up their offices to host (with AV and snacks!), and stayed well past the scheduled meeting time every month in order to plan effectively and execute comprehensively because, in their words’, “the work was just too important.”
We knew what an honor it was for the membership to entrust the Transition Steering Committee, in consultation with board, with the mission to smoothly integrate three chapters into one.
We feel confident that this founding year set a strong foundation for future leaders to meet the chapter’s and profession’s needs going forward. Vision 2020, here we come!
Yours in Service,
Julie Williams, APR, MA
2018 PRSA Oregon President-Elect
Transition Steering Committee Chair
Outreach Task Force Co-Chair