A New ChaPteR

For a while I’ve been miserable….miserable doing something I felt like I HAD to do instead of doing something I truly LOVED.  I’ve always been unsure of myself when making a huge decision (and sometimes even small ones such as choosing a place to eat for dinner) but I’ve come to MY realization in regards to my career.

Until recently, I was the Marketing Manager of a small company, handling the company’s entire marketing efforts from social media, to public relations, to trade shows and everything in-between.  I’ve gone through so many changes in the company’s management/executives without any real training or guidance that I was burnt out.  I loved my job in the beginning.  No longer did my job duties entail public relations anymore and that really made me sad because that company introduced me to public relations.  I had to decide to continue to be miserable, or make a change…and boy did I make a change!

For the past twenty something years, I’ve been a resident of North Carolina.  NC is my home and I’ve known nothing else.  But now I will get the chance to follow my dreams.  I’m so thankful for the opportunities my previous employment gave me but when your heart is no longer into something, everyday it gets harder and harder to be enthusiastic about your work, even when you put your all into your work.  That is why I decided to resign from my position to pursue my dreams as a full-time public relations professional.

This is the scariest moment of my life thus far: to quit my job and up-and-move without securing a job.  The worst part is being over a thousand miles away from all of my family and friends.  This move will be nothing like my college move, in which I’m only a couple hours drive from my closest relative.

If college taught me anything, it’s to make sure that you can survive on your own.  I grew up  with limited means in the poorest county in North Carolina.  That’s why I made sure I could finance my college tuition by working all four years, just in case for some reason my grant or scholarship money didn’t come through for me.  I always have a backup plan just in case a plan fails. I will always have a Plan A, B, C, and D and if I really want to go after something I will make it to Plan Z.

So yes, I’m randomly moving to New York without any current job offers and limited funds. No, I do not have a friend’s couch I can crash on and yes, I would be lying to you if I said I would not think twice about moving back home if I was offered another position in NC.  I’ve only known NC and that’s my barrier right there.  It was after seeing @Iamnecole tweet on March 22, 2013 that really made me decide to take a risk and move to NYC.  Her tweet was right on time for my situation.  She tweeted: “It’s okay to be scared. Just know the greatest things that will ever happen to you in life are on the other side of the wall of fear.”  I am fearless.

Like I said earlier in this post, I have a backup plan.  Well, one of my plans include actually winning my dream entry-level job in the public relations industry.  Affect is actually giving people the chance to win their dream job, after a thorough interview of course!  The top three finalists will get Skype interviews and also get the chance to fly to New York for in-person interviews and one lucky winner will win a full-time job with Affect!  I need your help by getting votes for my entry.  You can only vote once but by sharing my profile with your friends after you have voted, they may just vote and also share and so on.  I started a Twitter hashtag to go along with #teamaffect: #cassandraforaffect.  Please vote and help get my hashtag to go viral so that the judges will notice and hopefully each give me all of their 200 votes (wishful thinking because there are also some other amazing candidates.)  To vote for me and to read my story click on my picture below. Make sure you are logged onto your Facebook account so that you can vote that way or you will have to create an account.  Then click on the “Vote for this entry” button below my picture.  I thank you in advance and please help me get my big break into public relations!

#cassandraforaffect

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ApPReciation

Washington Square Park

Be grateful for how far you have come & have faith in how far you can go!  I saw @FashionWeekNYC tweet this and it made me reflect on my journey throughout my career thus far. I recent just got back from New York.  I didn’t plan on staying in New York long, just for the day.  I was determined to meet my family that lived there.

I contacted my family member via telephone a week prior to my visit to let him know who I was and that I was visiting for a short period.  I invited him to lunch, just excited to meet  this person that came from my humble beginnings living in the big city, the same place I aspire to work.  After my appointment, we walked through the Lower East Side to Chinatown for some Thai food. I enjoyed walking the Big Apple while getting to know about my relative, occasionally getting lost for 5 seconds before my relative realizes where we are at again. (By the way, I love how all New Yorkers talk out loud trying while using hand signals trying to figure out all the stops or the best train to use when asking for directions.)

I found out that he has been through some close encounters.  My relative works in construction in downtown New York, working specifically underground building new subway systems.  He was underground working or “in the hole” as he calls it while the entire east coast experienced an earthquake two years ago.  Luckily, him and his crew walked away unharmed.

But there was one particular story of my relative that I had a hard time fighting back tears to.  My relative has been in New York for over 30 years at this time.  On the day of September 11, 2011 my relative was on the 99th floor of the South Tower when the planes hit.  He ran down all 99 floors before it collapsed and then walked 12 miles to the Bronx.  After speaking with my dad, we learned that it took hours for my relative to call his wife to let her know he was fine.  It’s crazy how fast the love forms after just meeting your relative.  After getting to know more about each other, and after returning to North Carolina, I got a voicemail from him checking to see if I had got back safe.  At the end of his call, he said “Love you, talk to you later.”  It was so unexpected but it didn’t feel weird at all.

I’m so blessed with the people in my life, old and new.  I thank God for that day of getting to know my relative while walking around New York City.  It was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. I’m now more determined to meet other family members as well as research my family history.

Get Emotions Out of the Equation

When it comes down to it, business is business.  A relationship between a PR pro and a client can be a rocky one.  There will be bad conversations and discussions along with great ones!  A client may want to do something and their publicist may advise against them doing it due to possible damage to their brand or just plain nonsense.  That client could potentially get offended if their publicist does not like their idea.

This could cause the client to feel some type of way about their publicist.  They may even consider firing them because their publicist is not a “yes man.”  A publicist job is not to tell you what you want to hear or to agree with everything you do.  Clients can hire a “yes man” to hype them up and agree with everything they say but a publicist will not do it if they have the client’s best interests at heart.

The most important thing is to emotions get in the way of potential business and potentially more exposure.  If an opportunity arises where it could help a client’s business dramatically and they are hesitant to take it because of your previous conversation, one in which a publicist did not agree with their views, then this is a huge problem.  Not only does it show that the client and publicist need to sort through any tension you have going on, the client is getting in his own way of furthering their business.  When that happens and continues to happen, it is best to let that client go.  There is no need to continue on a bad relationship in which the client hardly ever listens to their hired guidance.

In-House PR vs. Agency PR

agency vs. inhouse

I recent read an article by Ryan McShane via PRDaily.com about the 4 myths about PR agencies.  McShane had some very good points.  Even though I’ve only interned virtually with different public relations agencies, I would like to talk about how starting out in-house has helped benefit my career.

  • Just as McShane stated, you must evaluate each job opportunity, whether in-house or agency, independently to see if which would be the best fit.  I’m from NC and there were not any agencies hiring at the time I was looking for full-time employment in public relations.  I was able to find an assistant position in-house, doing marketing and PR for a snack company.  There were so many things the company began to do to build brand awareness that I got to travel 3 weeks after graduation to Chicago for a trade show.  I love to travel and I was really excited not only to travel, but to meet and work with our sales representatives that do not live where our offices were headquartered.
  • After realizing my passion for PR, I’ve noticed that to work full-time in PR, companies wanted you to have so many years experience working in agencies.  That’s when I decided to look for part-time work at different PR agencies.  Because of my full-time job working in-house PR, I had to find something virtual that could fit around my schedule.  Since then, I’ve worked three different part-time virtual unpaid internships with different agencies all over the nation.  You must take initiative and show the hiring managers that you are serious about working in the industry.
  • McShane stated that agency experience was short-term.  This is not always the case.  I signed an internship agreement with my previous internship based out of Portland to work for three months.  I ended up loving the job so much, that I stayed another three months and would have stayed longer, had not my full-time job didn’t impede outside of my 9-5 business hours.  You must know when to say no and when to scale back while working an internship.  If it is starting to affect your school work or your full-time work, then adjustments must be made.
  • For me, starting out in-house doing PR has definitely helped my work that I do through my virtual internships.  Starting my career doing in-house PR has really helped me focus on what’s best for the brand, the company, and the product/service.  Exploring all avenues and choosing the best method for my company is what I do on a daily basis.  Now I can use that perspective when completing my work for my virtual internship, while working with the agency’s multiple clients.  It will definitely give you a leg-up when finally landed that agency position.

Where did your PR career start?  How has it benefited you since then?

PRivate-Fingers Moving Faster than the Brain

Back in September I attended the 2nd Annual Women in PR Summit & Retreat.  A few of us were talking about how so many people post wild things on social media before they think.  Ruth Ann Weisner of Raw Marketing had a great expression for these people, “their fingers were moving faster than their brain.”  Now more than ever, people are constantly telling their private business on social media.  Whether it’s long Facebook posts expressing anger or “TMI” (too much information) tweets, regretful posts are becoming more prominent.

Celebrities are also in a much bigger eye with this problem.  The damage is done when you hit that send button because there are countless media following your every step waiting to screen shot anything new. Deleting it will only admit that you shouldn’t have done it and it will say a lot about how you react to certain situations.  Sometimes, it’s better to talk to people about your problems instead of the internet.  The media will go after you to get the full story and your publicist will work overtime, stressing to figure out how exactly to spin this to the media.  As publicist, this is what we do but don’t make this a habit or we will fire you!  Yes, publicists can fire clients too.  Sometimes, celebrities do it just to get more publicity around themselves for their latest project.  Posting a picture and then deleting it three minutes later is pointless, but not when you’re famous with a motive.

If you aren’t a celebrity and you’re constantly doing regretful posts, you may want to consider actually having a REAL social life where everyone will not need to know about your business.  You can’t have a social life with the internet!  Even your friends get tired of seeing your dramatic posts over mostly little-to-nothing events.  Ask yourself this before your next post: “Do everyone that follows me need to know about this?”

I regret posting things in anger.  What have you regretted about posting on your social media?

7 Tips on Successfully Packing for a Business/Vacation Trip

Many of us in public relations feel like taking a vacation when we go weeks/months working countless hours on the computer, stressful planning of events, and just plain long hours of work. When finally deciding where to go for vacation, some may realize other opportunities may present itself in which you will have to put on your work hat again. Here are 7 tips to capitalize off packing clothes that can be use for business and pleasure:

1. Remember you are only going to be away for a finite number of days. Have backups but don’t pack your entire wardrobe for a four day vacation.
2. In reference to tip 1, to help lighten your suitcase load, take pictures of each outfit so that you know what you will be wearing each day. Also take note of what you will be doing each day and plan each outfit accordingly.
3. Check the weather for your destination a few days before departing. Remember, even paradise has it’s rainy days.
4. Capitalize off your shoes! Ladies, your black or nude heels can go with multiple outfits, business and pleasure. This will lead you to a lighter load.
5. If you are trying to pack all of your belongings in a carry-on bag/suitcase so that you don’t have to pay checked bag fees and you have to have that extra shirt or pair of shoes, utilize the space in your purse or computer bag.
6. Ponder on if it’s necessary to pack multiple outfits for each day.
7. Layer your clothes together to save space while packing.  For instance, lay all of your shirts on top of each other on your bed and fold them together.  Do the same of your bottoms and undergarments.

Remember these tips and you will thank yourself later during your vacation when you didn’t over-pack with multiple clothing choices that you didn’t wear.

3 Things Hurricane Sandy can Teach you about PR

We all can agree that Hurricane Sandy has been a major news topic the past few days.  What you don’t know is that Hurricane Sandy can teach you a few things about public relations.  Here are three:

1.  Showing that you care about an event go a long way.  President Obama delivered a statement regarding Hurricane Sandy on Monday.  A reporter asked him how will this affect the election.  He responded by saying that the election will take care of itself and that the number one priority is the safety of our residents.  He thanked all of the federal, state, and local response teams in preparation for this event and gave people resources and advice.  This gave the president a really good look that will go a long way, even after the 2012 Presidential Elections.

2.  Even Sandy can come alive in Twitter form.  A parody account will give you a sense of comedy relief during a potential natural disaster and can make mother natural a comedian tweeting out jokes about what she will do.  With over 200K followers, Hurricane Sandy a.k.a #frankenstorm has attracted a large following in a short amount of time.

3. Do your research and use your best judgement when it comes to PR.  An acquaintance of mine lives and works in NYC and she tweeted that she had to go into work today during Hurricane Sandy while city and state officials are warning people to evacuate the area.  Watch the news, research more news about the event, and use your best judgement to make the best decision for yourself and your client.  She ended up not going in and possibly saving her life.

Can you think of any other things Sandy can teach you about PR?  Comment and share them!