On Tuesday evening, PRSSA hosted our first guest speaker of the year, Rob Boulware the manager of stakeholder relations at Seneca Resources. His company is the exploration and production segment of National Fuel Gas Company. After a nice dinner at the Deli with our executive board, Rob joined us at our general meeting to discuss corporate and crisis communications.
Rob said that public relations is one of the most stressful jobs out there because it is tied to the most important decisions a company makes. “We’re like the bumper on a car,” he said. “If something goes wrong, you replace the bumper, not the car.” A corporation is not going to replace their CEO after a poorly handled crisis; they will replace the PR person.
He also says that public relations professionals are constantly on the go. To explain this, he told us about when he worked in sports. After a Monday night football game, most viewers go to sleep. But the PR person, has to stay late after the game, travel home and then write a press release for the morning. There is a lot going on after the game ends.
Rob also focused on us as students and some things we need to be aware of to be successful in public relations. He listed five traps in which young professionals often get stuck.
- Trap #5 – Not understanding the market or your worth.
- Be aware of the size of the industry in the area we want to work.
- The top cities in the United States for public relations are New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
- The top states for public relations are California, Texas and Pennsylvania.
- Trap #4 – Despite what you think, you have not spent enough time thinking about your future.
- Be aware of who the top professionals are in the PR industry. This includes professionals to use as an example and executives in the companies where we want to work.
- Focus on how we’re going to get better at our jobs. We can always be improving our public relations skills.
- Networking with peers is also essential because they could end up in positions that will benefit us in the future.
- Trap #3 – Your skills are not as good as you think. And it shows.
- “If you want to write better, you need to read better,” Rob said. It is essential to constantly be reading the news from solid sources, so that we can write press releases for these sources in the future.
- The core skills of a PR professional are writing, editing, proofing and speaking.
- Trap #2 – You don’t capitialize on opportunity.
- Take advantage of Penn State alumni because Penn Staters love to hire other Penn Staters.
- It is important to stay active after summer internships. Remain connected these people because they could benefit your career later.
- Put yourself in the position to be successful. Take risks.
- If you want to relocate for your career, go somewhere where you already have a support network.
- Trap #1 – Overuse of technology.
- Don’t forget about the importance of people skills in this business.
Rob had a lot of interesting experiences to share about his many years of experience in PR. I enjoyed speaking with him. He was the perfect guest speaker to kick off the year with PRSSA. You can follow Rob on Twitter @rboulware. Use the hashtags: #LifeInPR or #PSUComm.