By: Michael Claussen
Networking with Dave Groobert
Professor Dave Groobert, IU PRSSA faculty advisor, presented to PR students on the importance of networking in today’s business world on Sept. 18. Networking starts now and continues for life, Groobert said, and it’s important to practice it efficiently. It keeps you attuned to your marketplace and helps form valuable relationships.
Here are some of the main components of networking that Groobert touched on:
You need to know about the person, the company, the industry. It’s crucial to put yourself at their disposal and show the value they give you as a resource. Let them know who referred you and why they are a good connection for you to make.
Informational interviews are a strong way to show interest and learn information about an individual or a company’s department. Be on time, ask thoughtful questions and look for shared interests or other points of connection. Ask to stay in touch.
Follow up with a thank-you note and a LinkedIn request. If you don’t maintain proper contact, that can spoil a well-built relationship. Don’t nag your connection with an overflow of messages—keep it appropriate with occasional posts that they will see.
Know the news
In order to properly network, you need to be familiar with industry news. This can be nationally or locally, but it’s crucial to be a well-rounded individual in terms of business. This can most easily be accomplished through reading the Wall Street Journal.
Ask open-ended questions and be thoughtful in conversation. Seek common interests and give detailed answers. Act professional—anything unprofessional will be used against you.
Speaker series: Douglas Freeland
On Oct. 17, Douglas Freeland, former McDonald’s Marketing Coordinator, met with PRSSA students to share advice from his long career in the marketing industry.
Freeland began his presentation by giving general marketing tips and how they applied to McDonald’s. He showed how different marketing tactics can be used to fit specific strategies, such as market penetration or building brand equity. At McDonald’s, this varied frequently as new menu items were introduced or new sales promotion ideas were pitched.
Freeland spent much of his time discussing the biggest project of his time at McDonalds: the McDonald’s Monopoly campaign. Freeland described some of the creative elements of the campaign and how he and his team helped push the promotion across media platforms. He said the main idea behind the campaign was to drive more frequent visits and purchases from consumers and how effective the campaign was for McDonald’s.
Lastly, Freeland, who has 20-plus years of experience in the marketing industry, talked about the necessary skills—hard and soft—to begin a career in marketing. He talked about the differences between agency work and in-house marketing and the similarities between marketing and PR.
He said that company’s PR departments are teaming with the marketing specialists more often now than ever. Today, company’s need to ensure that the marketing and PR teams are on the same page regarding promotional messages and consumer tendencies. The work that marketing teams are doing needs to directly coincide with what the PR practitioners are doing in order to be as effective as possible in reaching stakeholders.
Freeland’s discussion was invaluable for PRSSA members as his diverse career and expertise helped prepare students for the workplace.
An evening with Elaine Monaghan
Many students in the Beth Wood chapter of PRSSA are journalism majors with a concentration in public relations. They receive a base education in journalistic principles and combine that with learnings on PR writing, campaigns and research.
Elaine Monaghan, professor of practice at IU, has experience both as a reporter and a PR practitioner, and she met with PRSSA students on Nov. 13. Her discussion was built around the fact that journalism and PR have similar aspects and that an understanding of both is crucial for success in either field.
Specifically, Monaghan talked about her experience overseas as a foreign correspondent. She worked in Ukraine for Reuters and as chief correspondent in Dublin. On the strategic communications side, she worked with the Amnesty International human rights group.
Monaghan gave PRSSA students plenty of perspective on understanding audiences and the value in gaining trust with sources and readers. Whether you are working on the client side or agency side, Monaghan said, it’s imperative to commit to journalistic principles.
Monaghan defined PR as a form of strategic communications. Strategic communication, she said, is communicating with a goal in mind.