Balancing a Reverse Coaching Role as a Young PRo

Most entry-level PR PRos will start in a technician role, participating in the “craft” side of public relations: writing, editing, taking photos, running special events and doing the legwork of media relations. The technician implements the management’s communication strategies.

I always try to focus on helping students show that, while they have the skills to be a technician, that they have the capacity for the problem solving, planning and counsel that is required of managers.

With social media, I think we’re seeing entry-level practitioners, well-versed in the tools of the trade, being asked to provide solutions, the strategic planning and serve as “reverse coaches.” I was chatting with my friend and colleague Pat McCormick from Conkling Fiskum McCormick about how important this “reverse coaching” role is in today’s business, especially in public relations and communications. CFM has hired several Ducks and recognizes how much its entry-level employees have to offer.

The balance, however, is that while, as new employees, you bring much-desired skills to the table, they have much to learn that only experience and strong senior mentors can bring. The way that young PRos get information, exchange information and build relationships is shifting fundamentally the way that we all communicate and they are the natives. I also think that as educators, professionals, employers – and even students – we’re just starting to really get a handle on this shift.

We have the responsibility to help prepare our students for this “reverse coaching” role, and also help them to approach that role with grace, professionalism and an open mind. They have much to learn to from their colleagues to fully realize their potential to be remarkable strategists, problem solvers and counselors.

What do you think about the changing face of communications and the entry-level practitioners role in it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Annoying Buzz Words

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The Creative Group recently polled 250 marketing and communication professionals about the most overused buzz words. The problem with buzzwords, of course, is that when overused they become meaningless and cliche. When in doubt, use clear concrete language that cannot be misunderstood by any audience. The same language should be effective when talking to your peers as it does when talking to a client… or, the real test, when talking to your mom.

Here are some of my favorites form the Creative Group’s survey: (and my commentary)

Outside-the-box: outside what box? i think this is so overused that the outside of the box has actually become the inside of the box.

Synergy: Guilty of using. Probably even in public. Bad.

The big idea: Isn’t this the name of that TV show on CNN with at advertising guy? Hmmm…

ROI: This one is tough. In some situations, you’re almost expected to use it. Unfortunately, it’s overused and misused so it’s almost become of synonym for “I understand that I need to show that this tactic is worth doing financially” rather than some concrete measure.

Paradigm shift: Do we need to do paradigm shift drills? and have our communication plans paradigm-shift-retrofitted?

Integrated solution: The sister to synergy – say what you mean. If your recommendation is to combine media relations, a YouTube channel, direct mail and a MySpace page – say so! Using language like integrated solution and synergy are the reason that consultants and agencies end up dealing with “scope creep.” Be clear and you’ll be understood.

Make it pop: I think the only place this work is on What Not to Wear. And it’s referring to color. As in, that red sweater really makes that outfit pop.

Low-hanging fruit: Oh, I’m so guilty of using this. So, so guilty. I will stop. Right now. Really.

Any others?

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