Mar 17

The lost generation

A recent PRWeek editorial posited the view that industry leaders have done a poor job of Capt.7a23ccc1c683d417205acba34c397564
explaining why the AIG's and Citigroup's of the world are entitled to spend their bailout money to hire PR firms. Where, the publication asked, are our leaders?

I would ask the very same question. But I would apply it to 'helping the next generation of PR pros.' Where are our leaders? Where are PR Week (as well as every other trade publication and industry association)?

I may have missed it, but I haven't seen, read or heard a single word aimed at assisting PR/communications majors who are about to graduate from college.

Where are the 'how to' columns? Where are the guest by-liners? Where are the podcasts and blogs containing useful tips for the next generation?

Industry trade pubs and associations are quick to publish articles about cost-cutting best practices and ways in which agencies can provide more value for lower fees. And, I wish I had a dollar for every opinion piece about measurement and 'what's next' in social media. But, where's the long-term thinking? Where's the investment in our industry's future?  Where is the practical knowledge our college kids need before they enter what may very well be the worst job market in 70 years?

To be sure, there are some individual leaders who are helping the college seniors: Tom Martin and Brian McGee at the College of Charleston come to mind. So do Larry Parnell at George Washington University and Maria Russell at Syracuse. But, where are the editors, reporters, association presidents and agency leaders?

We're only one midsized firm, but we're doing our best to try and help. For example:

– We're hosting a podcast next week that will be composed exclusively of college seniors majoring in PR. We're going to ask them what they're doing to prepare for graduation, how they are differentiating themselves and ask them to share best practices.

– We’ve posted a podcast on our website created by our interns. It's an amazing 'how to' in terms of succeeding at one's first job. It also lists things the interns know now that they wish they knew then. And, it includes tips for winning a job interview.

– We're also actively lecturing at colleges such as NYU, Northeastern, Monmouth University, the University of Vermont, Baruch, the College of Charleston, and others.

The average college senior has about six weeks until graduation. Many, though, are like deer caught in the headlights. They often use words like 'terrified,' when I ask them how they're feeling about the future. They have no job prospects, are saddled with significant student loans to pay and, worst of all, have no industry media or associations providing mentorship or advice.

So, here's a quick note to PRWeek, et al: hold off on the navel gazing for at least one week and devote some ink and advice to the next generation. It's later than we think.

Feb 28

Responsiveness 101

What do communications students from Marist College, Northeastern, the University of Vermont, the1_2
College of Charleston and the PRSSA share in common?

Almost all have failed to follow-up with me after being urged to post comments on my blog, submit a writing sample for my edits or just plain ask for my help in networking.

I’ll bet I’ve lectured before 500 or more college students in the past year alone. And, I’d guess that less than two percent have leveraged the ‘meetings’ to connect with me. These are the same kids who, in conversation with me, voice serious fears about successfully entering the workforce.

I’ve discussed the students’ lack of aggressiveness and follow up with search consultant par excellence, Bill Heyman. He agrees that, while the latest generation of college kids, live, eat and breathe all things digital, they lack either the competitive drive or intellectual wherewithal to connect, network and differentiate themselves as thought leaders.

I’m sure sociologists could have a field day with the various reasons why this is happening. But, in my mind, it comes down to two factors: my generation of parents has spoiled the current one, most of whom expect the business world to beat a path to their door. Second, the Web has become a virtual crutch of sorts enabling kids to avoid direct confrontation.

Regardless of the causes, we’re left with a group of kids who desperately want jobs, but seem reluctant or unwilling to roll up their sleeves and do it what it takes to succeed. File it all under the term ‘sense of entitlement.’