The Time Manager with an Acute Attention to Detail and Flourishing Communication Skills

dr.suessI have been struggling for the past year to determine my personal brand. I am somewhat of a perfectionist and I wanted something that was clever and would define me at the same time. This is ironic because I consider myself pretty witty, but I have a hard time talking about myself.  I cannot stand someone who is an over-the-top self promoter so I often down play myself to avoid being perceived as one of those types. But as I began looking for internships and started thinking about interviewing for my first “big girl” job I knew I would have to stand out.

I have read countless articles on personal branding to aid me through this process. I have found some to be very helpful and they offer some very clever ideas, but a lot of them say the same thing: pick 4-5 traits or qualities you have, are proud of and want to be known for. I was reading an article on Mashable by Dan Schawbel,  author of  Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success. The article  was written in 2009, but it was still relevant. Schawbel says that your self impression is how people perceive you. This is something we all know, but need to be reminded of at times. If you think of yourself as a optimistic, others will see that in you, but you must be honest with yourself.  

So as I attempted to brand myself I became discouraged because I felt that it should be natural, but that is not the case. I started by doing as suggested and picked 4-5 of my best traits: time manager, organized, perfectionist, professional and expert in communication. Then I was stumped. I didn’t want to just say I had all of these qualities, I wanted to be these qualities. This is where my wit comes in.

I knew I had to narrow down the 5 traits I picked. I started with process of elimination. Perfectionist and organized are one in the same so I condensed that into “attention to detail.”

Next I wanted to focus on my role in communication. I’m proud of my professional communication skills and knowledge. I have learned a lot in my time as an undergrad, but I had yet to land a job so I also did not want to lie. I tossed around words like “developing” and “maturing.” In my search for the perfect word, I stumbled upon the word “flourishing.” When I asked my friends how they felt about the word, they said it made them feel like something was promising and developing in a healthy way. That lead me to decide on “flourishing communication skills.”

I had it narrowed down, but it did not feel good enough. I was missing something. I asked myself what I am most proud of and right now  and the answer is the fact that I am graduating in three and a half years after I spent three and a half years working and attending school, both full-time. This is where my time management skills come in.

I jumbled my power qualities up in various different forms and I researched other ideas. I finally formed the beginning, “The Time Manager.” Since I was most proud of this quality, it made sense to start my self branding with it. So I was a “time manager with an acute attention to detail with flourishing communication skills.” Although that sounds great, I knew it just didn’t sound right. By simply adding a “the” to the front of my branding slogan, I was displaying confidence without having to come right out and say that I am proud and certain of my skills. “The Time Manager with an acute attention to detail and flourishing communication skills” is strong and bold, yet not too flashing or arrogant. It was just what I was looking for.

I’m sure that as I enter the professional world and gain more experience my personal branding will change, but I am glad that I took the time to figure out who I am. I know that  I am a hard worker and will be a great asset to any team, but before I begin applying for jobs and going on interviews I needed to determine what angle I would use to make myself stand out from other candidates. Now as I move forward in my search, I will use my personal brand as a guidelines for my job searching strategies.

4-H: “The Revolution of Responsibility”

4-HFor those of you who really know me, you know that there is an organization that is near and dear to my heart: 4-H. I was fortunate enough to be a member of 4-H from the time I was 5 years old until I was 18. The activities and projects I was a part of through 4-H were designed to make a leader out of me. But 4-H isn’t just about workshops and retreats; 4-H is about community involvement.

The 4-H program aims to create strong leaders, but to be an effective leader one must be active. In my opinion, one factor that separates great leaders from the good is that great leaders are always willing to step up and reach out. Good leaders only react in crisis situations. 4-H taught me it is my responsibility as a citizen to stay involved in my community. Nobody wants to live in an unsuccessful community so EVERYONE must stay active for the community to thrive. Through my volunteer work with 4-H, I did not feel like I was just some kid; I felt like I was actually a member of the community.

In my 13 years as a member of the 4-H program I participated in countless community service projects. The projects ranged from sustainability efforts to assisting the elderly. Our club cleaned up trash along a local highway, we organized can food drives, baked cookies for 4-H donors, cleaned and made repairs to the local VFW hall and sang Christmas Carols to the elderly in the area. These are only a handful of the projects that I participated in. The variety of volunteer projects I was part of made me the well-rounded person I am today. At a young age I understood the different parts of community and how they must all work together to keep that community up and running. We picked up trash alongside the highway, but while picking up the trash we learned not to litter and the negative effects of littering. There was always something to be learned from the volunteer projects.

The experiences I had while volunteering through 4-H had everlasting effects on me. Today I am still an active volunteer in my community and even though it is my duty to stay involved, I truly enjoy being active in my community and watching it thrive.

Don’t Hate, Appreciate!

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Have you ever noticed when you tell someone your major they do not take you seriously? I deal with this all the time and it is constantly on my mind. Public relations is hard to explain to people if they are not familiar with it, but those people out there that already THINK they know what public relations is are using wrong. Public relations people have a tainted reputation and I am sure that there is some history involved, but it does not seem fair. Society will always remember the bad and rarely the good, but that is the case for everything, not just public relations. Part of the problem is television and the media in general. The media does not create a great image for Public relations professionals and that is why our field is often times considered a joke.

Let’s start with what Public relations professionals really do. Their title says it all; they are responsible for creating and maintain good relations with the public. They must uphold a good reputation for their organization and defend it if it be in jeopardy.  A public relations professional has many roles depending the size of their organization. This doesn’t sound so bad, right?

So now we must ask ourselves, why does PR have such a bad reputation?     It’s because society has preconceived views on PR and just like every other stereotype, it’s not going to change overnight. Thanks to a blog on Social Realist I was able to break down the stereotypes of PR into four categories and here they are:

  • Lie- All Public relations people are liars. There are secrets and scandals and PR is all about covering them up by creating more secrets and scandals. Yes, there may be cover-ups every now and again, but that is not only true in PR that can happen in any industry. And let’s not forget, all the time that PR people get up there in front of the media and tell the truth, but because someone screwed up and lied, apparently they are all liars.
  • Manipulate- Lie and Manipulate do go hand in hand, but manipulate is such a negative word. Am I learning how to manipulate people in my PR classes? No, of course not, but society thinks so. There are times when PR people get in front of the public to address an issue and they may not tell the whole truth, but it is probably because they do not have all the answers. And yes, there are disasters where PR people are shady, but that does not happen all the time. For example, not all companies will be like BP when they screw up. Most will at least try to explain themselves.
  • Schmoozers- I already stated that PR is about making relationships with the public and we all know that you cannot survive in the business world without creating ties with someone else. It’s a support system and PR people who team up with other companies strategically are only doing their job.
  • Girls- A majority of the people in my classes are female, but that does not mean that PR is only for girls. This should be said for any profession. PR involves individual personality, not gender.
  • Partying all the time. Its part of the job- Now, this is a lie. Yes, there are special events and promotions that they get to be a part of. And those are nice perks. They are even nicer when you just got done solving a crisis that determined your company or clients fate.

Society is ignorant to the actual profession of Public Relations. People who have no idea what PR actually is, are the ones creating these stereotypes and feeding into them. It’s hard to defend a profession that is so hated, but I think that society is evolving and one day everyone will understand. But we shouldn’t let it get to us because we know how important our field is to the success of many organizations. One day they will come around!

Sources: Mistaken Stereotype of PR, A Bunch of Sex-Crazed Skirts