Archive for November, 2013


Career Aspirations

At my age, you would think I would have figured out my career aspirations long ago.  I’ve had my share of job titles over the years as a Court Reporter, Judicial Secretary, Paralegal, Support Staff Supervisor, Singer, Public Relations Director.  I’ve gained alot of insight, both good and bad, in each position I have held.  I’ve learned alot about the world and alot about different types of people.  But none of the above jobs have made me feel like “this is it, this is my career!”

Though I’m not quick to put a label on myself, I’ve narrowed my career aspirations down to two things, both of which I plan to pursue; 1. Singing, 2. Social Work.  I tend to think better outside of the box, and I’ve always felt like whatever I do I will end up being self employed.

As a singer, public relations will continue to come in handy as I build relationships and network with my fans and with other musicians who come through town on music tours.  I will use PR skills both in face to face contact and through social media networking to brand myself and my original music in hopes that some day it will be known on some level in the music world.  Even though the research part of PR is my least favorite aspect, the importance of knowing everything I can possibly know about the music industry and promoting my product will be a valuable asset in my future endeavours.

Because I am smart enough to know that success in the music business is about as realistic as winning the lottery, I will continue studying to become an MSW Social Worker.  As a social worker, my success in building and maintaining a client base will be contingent on both possessing great social work skills and implementing excellent public relations skills in the community on a regular basis.  This will be especially important because I plan to open a private practice or start up some sort of assistance program that will be of value to the community and its people.  Everything I’ve learned about planning, researching, communing, reaching diverse audiences, ethics, working for non-profits, personal branding, firm life versus corporate life, and yes, even putting together the PR plan book will be relevant materials and useful tools I will carry with me on my quest for a  successful future.

When I first started this PR class I felt like I had a good grasp on what it meant to be  a public relations professional.  As a singer having worked with many musicians I knew that developing relationships and networking is the number one way to connect and achieve success in the business.  Connecting with people both on and off stage has taught me a lot about the importance of public relations.  In a cut throat scene full of drama and gossip, developing and maintaining your image is important, but possessing good damage control skills is even more important and can make or break your band/music career.

So I brought my prior experiences into the classroom with me.  What I hadn’t realized was the many differences between being a good at personal PR, versus being a PR professional.  It’s no joke that a good PR professional possesses additional skills and stressors I hadn’t even considered.

Going through the process of putting together a PR Plan Book has been a very eye opening experience.  The first thing I learned is that research is a big part of the PR profession.  Researching is very important to putting together a successful plan for a client.  This is not my forte.  For whatever reason, I found that the ideas in my head did not translate easily into the research process.  This is probably due to the fact that I haven’t had to perform academic research in more years than I care to share, but the PR research process really put me in a negative state of mind toward the plan book and brought new light to the PR profession.

Another thing I learned was how time consuming and nerve wracking the networking process is.   This is a very essential part of being a PR pro, and although I have no problem getting up in front of hundreds of people to perform musically, I find myself very nervous going through the  one on one networking experience.  In addition, as a mother of 3 children who are all involved in after school activities it became clear to me that working long days and networking after hours would not be conducive to family life which is currently my biggest priority.

I’ve learned that the PR profession involves a lot of writing and I do love to write.  However my preference for songwriting and journal writing are much different than that of writing for public relations.

So the opinions that I walked into this class with 3 months ago have definitely been modified.  I will walk away from this class with a different understanding and a new found respect for the PR profession knowing it is not quite as simple as I once thought it to be.

Is Solo PR for Me?

Would I rather work for myself or for someone else?  Would I be happier starting my own business (Public Relations (PR) firm or otherwise), or do I need the benefits, structure, and stability of an established organization?  These are question I often ponder…

When I think about solo PR I think of very long days working by myself, going crazy networking and marketing my business, hoping to land enough clients to earn enough income so that I can cover all of my business expenses and pay taxes.   In addition, as a solo PR professional I’d be handling all of the administrative aspects that go into running a business on my own, and I’d be working hard at branding myself into something legitimate in the PR and business community.  Then there’s the fact that I’d be putting my kids in childcare after they get out of school so that I could go to networking events and finalize projects that have been pushed to the eleventh hour.   And maybe somewhere in all of that my family and I would have enough time and money to recoup the loss of time and money I spent becoming a solo PR professional.

When I think about solo PR, I think it is probably not for me.

A recent study found that 1 in 10 independent contractors would not return to a traditional job if given the opportunity (Crane, 2012).  This is likely because as an independent contractor (or solo PR professional) you are free to create your own dress code, work schedule, and income.  Those are great perks considering in a traditional job you are expected to follow the rules and schedules of the office.  Speaking of income, research has found  the average freelance salary was $68,000 versus $46,800 average income in the U.S. (PR Web, 2011).

Although money talks and the perks of being an independent contractor do sound inviting, they still wouldn’t be enough to make me want to work as a solo PR professional at this stage in my life.

Crane, Kelly. (2012, January 23). #PRin2012: Solo PR Pros – The Professions Secret Weapon. PRSAY. Retrieved from http://prsay.prsa.org/index.php/2012/01/23/2012-pr-industry-predictions-solo-practitioners-on-the-rise/

PR Web. (2011, October 26). Infographic: Freelance Revolution in America – 1.7 Million Job Openings in 2011 and Counting. Retrieved from http://www.prweb.com/releases/freelance/revolution/prweb8902546.htm?PID=4003003

Firm v. Corporate PR

Having worked as a paralegal both for the government and in a small private law firm, I’ve been exposed to the differences  in a corporate work setting vs. a private firm.  While researching this topic, it was interesting to learn that those differences continue to hold true in the world of public relations.

Working in a public relations department for a corporation consists of reaching out to both internal and external audiences.  Corporate public relations serves to provide counsel to organizations in managing relationships with various stakeholders and its employees (Benn, et al 2010).  In a corporate setting, a company must work hard to keep their employees working, happy, and informed. Public relations departments often work together with human resources to achieve this goal.  Some of the tasks at hand include managing potential internal company challenges such as sexual harassment issues among co-workers or employee layoffs.  It is often the responsibility of the public relations department to keep employees informed about safety procedures, educated on diversity, and knowledgeable about other company policies.  Crafting appropriate messages and implementing methods of communication about layoffs to both employees and the media, can have a big impact on public opinion regarding a company.   These risks show how important it is to have an excellent internal public relations department that fully supports and understands it’s company.  In addition to effective and excellent internal communications, corporate public relations departments are responsible for maintaining excellent relationships with the public, investors, and the media.

In contrast, when working at at public relations firm you are hired by external sources to provide public relations expertise as contracted.  Typically the work is more flexible, creative and innovative, but balancing multiple clients with different personalities in a variety of industries can be tough and overwhelming.  The expectations are high, demanding, and fast paced but they are also very rewarding (Bramlett 2012).

When deciding on your career path, it is important to consider all of the differences between corporate life and firm life.  Do you prefer to work for one specific company supporting a mission and/or product that you believe in?  Or are you a creative go-getter who wants to branch out and take on multiple work assignments exploring a variety of industries and people?

Benn, Susan, Todd, Lindi R., & Pendleton, Jannett. (October 2010). Public Relations Leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility.  Journal of Business Ethics. Vol 96, Issue 3: 406. doi:10.1007/s10551-010-0474-5

Bramlett, Kellie. (December 28, 2012). The Life of a PR Agency Employee. Ragan’s PR Daily, Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/The_life_of_a_PR_agency_employee__12330.aspx