By Corrie J. Younginer

Over the past eight weeks, I had the chance to (virtually) learn alongside other budding PR pros during the PR Council’s Agency Ready Certificate program. In order to complete the certificate, participants must have earned 20 CEUs- 14 required courses and six electives. The process was surprisingly personal since I was able to connect to other motivated young PR professionals via the Agency Ready LinkedIn group. It was exciting to discuss webinars, pose questions or even decompress with small talk amongst peers knowing that we were all experiencing a similar hectic summer career outlook. Many summer internships were cancelled this summer, leaving many talented students uncertain of how to stand out in a competitive job market. As such, some of the event hosts offered their advice for entry level PR/ Advertising candidates eager for their first internship or job offer.

ADVICE FOR NEW GRADS

  • “Crisp, clear and persuasive writing skills are crucial- you should be able to convey your point in 140 characters if necessary.” – Carreen Winters, Chair, Reputation Management & Chief Strategy Officer, MWWPR
  • “Be resilient, be inquisitive and have scrutiny.” – Barry Reicherter, Global Head of Research, Planning and Measurement, Finn Partners
  • “Invest in a diverse skillset- don’t put all your eggs in the ‘PR basket’. Additionally, learn to improvise and brainstorm on the fly when possible.” – Matt West, EVP and Executive Director, Golin
  • “Approach different mentors at different stages throughout your career- it doesn’t have to be a daunting ‘career long’ relationship. Once you find a mentor, make it as simple as possible for them to advocate for you.” – Bia Assevero, Account Supervisor, FleishmanHillard

A GOOD DEFENSE IS THE BEST OFFENSE

“Values are your most powerful currency when it comes to crisis communications.” – Carreen Winters, Chair, Reputation Management & Chief Strategy Officer, MWWPR

Modern consumers are savvy and can easily detect ‘lip service’ from a brand- especially when it comes to complex societal inequities. Multiple agencies discussed the importance of consistently investing in their ‘trust bank’ in order to build authenticity. If a brand builds a solid reputation over time, the audience will be more inclined to listen and take the brand seriously. Niki Chakravarthy, Executive Vice President and Cristina Colletta, Strategy Director, of DeVries Global, shared that brands that establish ‘observable patterns and beliefs’ are set for success in an environment that increasingly prioritizes cultural values over pop culture.

(INTEGRATED) TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

Julie Batliner and Grete Lavrenz of Carmichael Lynch Relate discussed the benefits of an integrated marketing/PR approach. Since subject matter experts aren’t segmented by department, they’re able to work together in real time to offer more holistic solutions in an evolving marketing ecosystem.

I’m grateful that the PR Council and its member firms have offered support via this engaging program during a confusing and uncertain time for so many new graduates. While the circumstances are far from ideal, program participants are now #AgencyReady for what comes next- and that’s something to celebrate.

Corrie J. Younginer is a freelance writer and public relations professional with a keen interest in Corporate Social Responsibility and internal communications. When not upcycling vintage clothing from local thrift stores, Corrie is embracing her time in Chicago’s COVID-stricken job market with grit and an abundance of espresso. Portfolio site: www.corriejyounginer.com