All posts by Rachel Dill

New Pros: Growing Professionally & APR


By: Rachel Burns, Analyst Relations Specialist, Hyland

Conference Personal and professional growth was a number one goal. That’s what a PRSA mentor told me once. This included their goal to receive their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). This is also a goal for many PR professionals who find value in it for their own personal and professional growth.

So what is the APR? First, it’s internationally recognized and, as defined on, the APR integrates timeless communications principles with contemporary strategies and tactics. If you’re wondering if earning your APR is for you, here are a few benefits for you to check out:

  • The ability to take your professional skills to the next level and identify strengths and opportunities for continued growth
  • Showcase your commitment to excellence to your current and potential employers and colleagues
  • Receive direct access to top public relations leaders who will help guide you through the process
  • Access to tools needed to distinguish yourself in the PR profession

In addition to earning your APR, conferences are a great way to grow professionally and personally – building knowledge in the industry as well as building a strong professional network. Below are a few industry conferences for new pros to explore.

Do you have any success stories from attending a conference? Do you have any others that you’re attending and would recommend we add to our list? Leave a comment or find us on social and let us know!

As always, PRSA Cleveland board members are available to meet or help answer any questions.

Independent Practitioners Section Provides Camaraderie

By Amber Shulman, APR, Candid Virgo Communications

I have been a member of the Independent Practitioners Alliance (IPA) Section for nearly five years. I joined just about the same time I started my own practice, which proved to be quite an adjustment for me, after spending over 20 years working for employers.

As a sole proprietor, it’s important to me to be able to connect with others for camaraderie, support, and information; much like I did with my coworkers. I have found my section membership to be tremendously valuable, as it gives me the opportunity to do so.

The IPA Section boasts nearly 300 members who are able to connect via the PRSA IPA Forum, personally by email or phone, and through in-person meetups, the Section plans surrounding PRSA regional and national conferences.

The Section also hosts monthly webinars, at no cost to members, on topics that pertain to running a public relations business as an independent. It can be challenging! The ability to connect is paramount, as independents often have lots of questions pertaining to not only PR topics and best practices working with clients, but also the business side of things: health insurance, time tracking and accounting tools, etc.

I also serve on the Section’s executive committee and have gotten to know other independents from across the country. We have a lot of laughs and it’s been a great source of professional support.

I encourage you to look into a section that pertains to your work. Visit PRSA’s website here to view all the professional interest sections available to members. Most sections cost $60 per year and offer much value for the price.

The Importance of Professional Sections For PRSA Members

By Scott Tennant, APR, Vitamix

Whenever someone asks me about the worth of joining PRSA, I inevitably point to three things:

  • Staying current on best practices in the field, from strategy to execution to ethics
  • Earning (and maintaining) your APR accreditation
  • Interacting with peers through membership in a professional interest section

The first two are fairly standard parts of the PRSA value proposition, but the third sometimes gets short shrift. Of all the benefits I derive as a PRSA member, being part of the Corporate Communications section is the one that pays the most immediate dividends on a weekly – and even daily – basis.

Professional sections offer members access to specialized content and section-only networking and educational sessions. Some have section newsletters and/or online communities in which members discuss issues that pertain directly to their specific area of practice.

The Corporate Communications section comprises nearly 1,200 PR and communications practitioners who, as the section’s page on puts it, “are responsible for external communications and serve as the voice of their organization.” Over the years, I have had the chance to interact with many of them through the section’s online discussion forum.

When a section member posts a question or raises an issue of general interest in this forum, it goes to everyone in the group. In my case, that’s a digest email that arrives first thing each morning. Sometimes these posts are from members facing a specific communications challenge, asking how others have tackled it before. Others ask about topics ranging from members’ experiences with particular software packages or apps, to those seeking communications plan templates or messaging frameworks.

Whatever the query, members are more than willing to jump in and help each other. Sometimes there is disagreement, but it is handled in a spirit of cooperation and mutual edification. More than once I’ve gained valuable tips and insights from these discussions that were immediately applicable to my own practice.

Section membership also provides a unique channel for networking. When I attend the national conference each year, one of my favorite things is meeting in person those corporate communicators whom I had known previously only online. My communications network has been strengthened exponentially through section membership.

The cost of membership in a section is minimal when compared with the benefits. So the next time you renew with PRSA, give some thought to adding section membership to your overall package. I can almost guarantee that your section will quickly become one of the most beneficial parts of your PRSA experience.

3 Productive Things Students Can Do On Spring Break

By Rachel Dill, Digital Marketing Manager, Sweeney Marketing + PR

March is right around the corner, which means the count-down to spring break is on. For some, it means sandy beaches, cold drinks, and nice weather. But for those of you who will live vicariously through social media this year, there is an opportunity to use the time off to get ahead of the curve finding a job or internship. Here are three things you can do to make the most of your spring break at home!

1. Set-up in-person meetings with professionals. This is a great time to network in the city you want to work or intern. Reaching out to a few professionals to meet for an informational coffee, lunch or even a tour of their company is a great way to learn more about the profession and make a lasting impression.

2. Get certified. Certifications are a great way to stand out from other applicants and expand your skill set outside the classroom. One strategy for doing this is to look at postings for jobs you would love to have in the future and identify certifications in the areas those jobs require experience. There are plenty of free online certifications, just be sure it’s a credible source such as Google, HubSpot, etc.

3. Attend networking events and industry association meetings. Industry associations and networking events are a great resource for meeting professionals from different companies and learning more about your industry. Most organizations are happy to let a student sit in on meetings or attend events. In the case that no events are taking place the week of your spring break, reach out to a leader in the organizations you’re interested in and ask for an informational phone or in-person meeting to talk about it.

Sporting flip-flops for seven days on the sandy beaches of Florida is a great way to celebrate spring break, but gearing yourself for the right career will enable you to hit more beaches after you graduate. Think ahead, plan ahead and get ahead.