(credit Georgia State University)
A referral is a gift and a terrific opportunity to build your reputation.
As a PR manager you have industry knowledge, high skill levels and a circle of contacts. That’s why sometimes people approach you for a referral to someone in your network. They want your help in contacting an individual who can help them with career advice, an interview, information or with thoughts on a business idea.
Referrals are gifts
When you give a referral you are giving a gift to the person seeking your help by laying open your networks for their benefit. And like other forms of gift-giving a referral has a distinct etiquette – which when followed – can enhance your professional standing by:
- Demonstrating your industry insights and connections.
(credit Georgia State University)
Referrals are terrific tools for PR professionals. Recently a colleague landed a story by asking for a referral to a newspaper editor and a communications start-up is growing by asking others for help.
Talk about referrals often turns to sales, marketing and business development. Today I’m talking about personal referrals where either you ask for help or set out to help others. That can be to source information, get an interview, land a job or get buy-in for a project. There is art and etiquette to referrals which can help you succeed, or if neglected burn your bridges.
Image: Rusty Crawshaw
PR executives may not be responsible for how other leaders perform but we should call out poor leadership, agitate for leader development and model behaviours others can follow.
Biggest ever survey
Last week the Melbourne-based Centre for Workplace Leadership launched the Study of Australian Leadership, the largest ever survey of its kind in Australia.
The Study looked at the state of leadership and management across the economy. And although it has crucial, nationwide implications it received scant attention probably because the Federal Election is absorbing all attention.
Almost 8,000 people in 2,703 organisations and 2,561 workplaces took part in five surveys including CEOs, HR specialists, midlevel managers, front line leaders and employees.
Leaders need to be detached. Which means getting off the dance floor and going to the balcony.
There is a strong correlation between asking for feedback and the overall effectiveness of leaders. But can you ask for feedback without risking your authority?
Sensitive to criticism?
At times I admit to having being sensitive when people critiqued my PR efforts. You may have experienced something similar. Invariably we try our best so when we do fall short, it can be uncomfortable when someone highlights our failures. Yet when people offer feedback it’s a terrific opportunity to improve performance.
PR managers may have substantial authority but they are only human.
Delegation builds better workplaces. Don’t believe me? Walk into a place where there’s frustrated staff, an uncertain atmosphere and low productivity and most likely you’ll find a boss making every decision, having all the ideas and insisting people work within strict limits.
Delegating is crucial for government, agency and not for profit PR leaders whether they manage small teams or large outfits.
PR teams routinely juggle competing deadlines and multiple projects. That’s true for other disciplines but uncertainty and crisis are never far away from the PR professional. Plus there’s always a campaign in play, about to start or wrapping up.
When PR leaders start saying ‘we tried that and it didn’t work’ they become the barrier to innovation.
The longer you lead a communications team the danger grows that you default automatically to what’s worked in the past. Of course the past is where your successes lie but it becomes a problem when it stifles the creativity of your staff and fails you for the future.
That’s why good PR leaders are always thought leaders with the habit of spotting the trends likely to impact their organisations, teams, even their own careers.
Leaders have little time so if you’re just surviving the working week how do you find space to think beyond your inbox?
PR leaders need time to think but it takes terrific self discipline to deliberately isolate your brain, silence your phone and unplug from the digital world.
Shortly I’ll be speaking at a Canberra conference on PR leadership and one point I’ll be making is leaders are always busy because there is no such thing as a lazy leader.
As the team leader you may not be the smartest person in your organisation. You may not be the best qualified. You may not be the most skillful nor have the strongest influence. But you have one thing you control completely – your work ethic.
Most of us want to be led by someone with vision, energy and purpose but communicators don’t always get the type of bosses they deserve.
Sometimes you find yourself working for a manager who won’t or can’t lead. Maybe they’re fearful for their own career, lazy or just never got the opportunity to learn how to lead. A lot of managers fail to make the transition to leader.
The end result is usually the same. Poor leadership has a dreadful impact on a communications team – it stifles creativity, blunts enthusiasm and turns what should be an adventurous vocation into a job without passion.
Ever wondered why some communicators are so successful yet others struggle?
What success means
Ever been curious about why one communicator is more successful than others? Or what success looks like in our profession or, more fundamentally, do you have your own definition of career success?
For some, success is the money they earn or the titles they hold. Others see it in the achievements of their campaigns. Because there are so many interpretations it might be easier to ask what distinguishes a successful communicator form their peers. What sets them apart and makes them stand out?
After 25 years working in communications I see three traits that mark out truly successful communicators – energy, knowledge and persistence.
A Linked-in colleague recently asked me about volunteering.
I am seeking some advice on how to best put down volunteering experience on my resume – I have been in both scenarios before and had volunteered my time around Canberra in various capacities and now, having relocated to Melbourne and pending a suitable job offer, volunteering my time as a fundraiser/marketing officer for (name withheld) something completely out of my previous field but thoroughly challenging and enjoyable. Your advice is appreciated.
…and our thoughts are….it’s great you’re keeping your PR skills fresh by volunteering. And yes, yes…do include those roles on your CV.