Professional Development Public Relations

The Simple Rights to Your Work and Counsel

Have you thought about your rights as a professional? Often, new professionals in their career will learn only by doing, by making mistakes, or by realizing what they can give to a client without over-servicing. If you’re not in the agency world, then you may learn how much work you can reasonably deliver for your position.

From interviewing for a job to pitching new business and keeping current campaigns profitable, every piece of advice or counsel you give, every project you implement and every new idea you come up with is a reflection of your expertise and the credibility of the PR profession.

Here are two scenarios that we can learn from.

Presenting in a job interview or new business pitch

One aspect of frequent job interviews or new business pitches nowadays is real-world application — whether it’s through a writing exam, oral presentation, or other initiative to test what a candidate knows beyond their résumé and portfolio. While independent practitioners know this scenario all too well, it can also be applied to a general interview setting.

It’s understandable and acceptable to be asked for your ideas before you’re hired to join a company or launch a campaign. But, it’s important to showcase your strategic thinking when asked to hypothetically respond to a situation.

If you’re faced with an instance like this, then consider using a “case study” of your past work. Go beyond a standard portfolio and include screenshots and links to your media placements or social media posts. Also be prepared to talk in detail about the strategy behind your pitch, the placements and the results that it yielded. This is a great way to show competency when aiming to set yourself apart from other candidates, without reinventing the wheel for a project that you haven’t actually been given yet.

If you’re presenting to a panel or group of judges, then “give the interviewers the required content in your presentation, but follow speaker best practices,” commented Molly McPherson, founder and principal of Social Shift Media, during a recent discussion in the MyPRSA Community. “Memorize your material and use graphics or images to guide your thoughts. Keep the big ideas off the deck. Tell them what you know, rather than showing them. You’ll come away as a great presenter, and likely with a job offer as well.”

In the same conversation, Dan Merriman, APR, said to “focus your presentation on how you would go about developing strategy and tactics for the organization, not the what.” This is the simplest advice to follow when asked to demonstrate your skills without giving away free counsel.

Sharing your media relationships

If part of your role includes media relations, then you will likely be asked for a media list. This can come in multiple forms — some are seemingly harmless, like when a client or industry friend asks for your list surrounding a certain beat or geographic location. Others may come from a less-trusted source like an agency you’re partnering with.

In general, it’s important to remember that your media list probably includes — if you’re doing your job well — trusted reporters who you’ve built a relationship with after multiple interviews and placements. While you need to keep your client happy by sharing contacts, remember that you don’t want to jeopardize your own relationship with a reporter by having too many parties simultaneously pitching them.

One way to combat this issue is to share only names, titles and outlets when asked to provide a media list — the person requesting this benefits from seeing contacts that may be relevant to them, but must do the work to get contact information and pitch directly. It’s a win-win for both sides.

In a recent SpinSucks blog post on clients and media lists, one comment read, “Why would you even entertain the thought of so easily handing over something that you have spent years of hard work growing and cultivating? You’ve earned the trust of those on your [media] list and you don’t want to destroy that trust.”

If you truly believe in a mutually beneficial introduction — think more like LinkedIn connections — then feel free to connect whomever with your media contacts. But, if you don’t believe in it, then don’t do it. Trust your gut.

While always delivering on your work and word in public relations or another career, it’s important to remember the value of your services.

This column was inspired by recent conversation on MyPRSA and does not include professional legal advice regarding intellectual property. The article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of PRSA Strategies & Tactics.

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