(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.
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.
Image: Rusty Crawshaw
A PR thought leader must be part explorer, advocate and activist – a curious mix that can be a terrific boost to your career.
One of the skills you – the leader – need is the ability to spot trends likely to affect your organisation and team. This applies to all leaders but specially to PR leaders.
Communications, communities and institutions are changing at lighting speed and unless we anticipate the future we can easily find ourselves marooned in present practice with outdated skills and talking to audiences that have long moved on.
Feeling the future
Thought leadership is about preparing your career, your team and your organisation for the future.
In 1947 Australia’s banks launched a PR campaign against Prime Minister Ben Chifley.
This article first appeared in the Canberra Times, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
You can almost hear the ghost of Prime Minister Ben Chifley applauding Bill Shorten’s calls for a Royal Commission into Australian banking.
Yet while Chifley might approve Shorten’s efforts he would probably think they do not go far enough. In 1947 Chifley, the train driver turned politician, led a Labor Government that legislated to nationalise Australia’s banks. In doing he triggered one of the largest public relations campaigns in Australian history, one that finally led to the defeat of his Government.
In late April I’m speaking at a Canberra conference for Government communicators about what makes a good PR leader. And how to develop the skills and characteristics you need to lead.
It’s a subject everyone in the room is sure to have an opinion on. By nature PR people are very perceptive continually assessing the people around us in senior positions.
While the academic and HR worlds abound with definitions, leadership is a word you normally don’t associate with the PR profession. I have always taken the approach that in the communications environment the difference is easy to spot.
A manager arranges.
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.
(Courtesy: Tech n’ Marketing)
As PR professionals we attend numerous meetings each month. Probably too many for our liking. They can range from plotting a campaign to discussing tactics with your team, a client or colleagues.
You can establish yourself as a PR leader at these gatherings by posing three simple questions and in the process save at lot of time and trouble:
- What are the media and social media implications of our issue?
- Where are the stories?
- Who’s got the images?
At any meeting touching on PR ask those attending two simple questions. ‘How will the media react to our issue’ and ‘can the media tie this topic to something else?’
These inquiries get people thinking about the media implications of the topic on the table, and how to best present it to journalists and through social media channels.