We’re professional communicators. We survey and design communications to motivate actions and measure outcomes. But do we do that internally, among our own teams?
Our work lives and behaviors have been interrupted and challenged in unprecedented ways by closures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Many jurisdictions and offices are now creating plans to allow re-opening, taking steps to make the work environment safer. But how do the employees in your organization view re-opening and returning?
In a recent webinar, the head of a local public relations agency described the thorough, painstaking and expensive steps to ensure the safety of the staff when re-opening the office. But in a video call with the full staff to share these extensive upgrades and safety measures, the owner was surprised and perplexed by the concerned, troubled faces looking back. Where was the enthusiasm for return expected from a generally young and healthy group?
An anonymous response follow-up survey found that the majority of the staff did not feel comfortable returning to the office yet, despite the owner’s care and preparation. How to proceed? The owner assembled a task force from all levels of the staff to develop and present their own, new plan for a staged return to the office. This is the plan they will implement and none of the staff will be pushed to return until they feel safe.
While the pressure to be creative and responsive has never been greater, the fundamentals of good two-way communication are still indispensable to helping us come through to the new work format on the other side of the crisis.
This article appeared in the June 2020 issue of “Smart Solutions”, PRofessional Solutions, LLC’s newsletter.
PRofessional Solutions, LLC has been an integral part of the metro DC communications community since 1994. Our PR professional associates can supplement your staff as needed or run an independent project. Reach out if you’d like to explore how we can help with a specific challenge.
PRofessional Solutions, LLC CEO Kate Perrin (l) is joined by two Girl Scouts at a mentoring workshop as she presents the gift to GSCNC Executive Director Lidia Soto-Harmon (r)
Businesses choose to celebrate milestone anniversaries in many ways — parties, customer giveaways, ad campaigns. For our 25th anniversary this year, PRofessional Solutions, LLC decided to skip the party but give one big party favor: a $2500 donation to the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC).
I was a Girl Scout for 12 years, and as PRofessional Solutions’ CEO I can honestly say that the lessons I learned through Girl Scouts helped me to grow a successful business. And Managing Director Melanie Jordan wasn’t just a Girl Scout, she also spent years as a Girl Scout Leader.
PRofessional Solutions, LLC is still the Washington, DC metro area’s only public relatinos temporary staffing agency, and we believe in supporting future workforce development. We also believe in the importance of developing the next generation of self-sufficient and capable women, one reason I am an active member of the GSCNC’s Women’s Advisory Board.
So we’re skipping the party, but are thankful for the gifts we’ve received from our experiences with Girl Scouts, from the talents and skillful work of our PR associates, and the trust and business of our clients.
An interview with PRofessional Solutions Founder and CEO Kate Perrin
Q: Do you recommend professional society membership to your PR colleagues?
A: Absolutely! I encourage all professional communicators to find the right group and join no matter what their level of experience or area of expertise. A good professional society will offer programming for members at all levels and the benefits of membership are invaluable.
Q: What do you consider the most important benefits of joining a professional society?
A: I’ve found the three most important career-boosting benefits to membership are: 1) it fosters further development of professional skills and knowledge of tools and trends; 2) it expands your colleagues network for sharing information, ideas and support; 3) it provides a pool of potential employees and employers.
Q: How has membership benefited you specifically?
A: Professional society membership helped me launch PRofessional Solutions, LLC twenty-five years ago. The network of contacts I developed while serving as president of Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) provided me with an immediate pool of both prospective temps and clients, not to mention the level of support I received from my colleagues. My subsequent involvement as a board member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and active sponsor of the Public Relations Society of America National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) have further expanded my network and been instrumental in the growth of my business.
Q: What advice would you give to new members?
A: Don’t just become a member, become an active member by joining a committee or volunteering for special programs and events, such as judging awards, moderating a panel or providing pro bono service. Attending monthly meetings is not enough when trying to build professional relationships with fellow members. The real networking takes place while working together on a project–and your skills are being enhanced at the same time.
The Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) has announced that Martha Boudreau and Pattie Yu will be inducted into the National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame. Boudreau and Yu will be honored at the 50th anniversary of PRSA-NCC’s Annual Thoth Awards Gala occurring on Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Lauren Lawson-Zilai, 2018 National Capital Hall of Fame Chair and PRSA-NCC vice president, released the announcement and said, “Both inductees are role models for their contributions to our profession, their ongoing support of colleagues in our industry and their local communities, their innovative and cutting edge campaigns on behalf of their clients, and their enduring impact on the PR sector.”
Twenty-five years ago I listened to funny radio ads as I dressed for work each morning. In them, worried accountants, sick at home, heard how great “Bob from Accountemps” was and decided to hurry back to the office. A year later, inspired by the need for “Bobs” in the public relations world, I started PRofessional Solutions, LLC.
Today we still supply PR professionals to cover family leaves, supplement staff in the lead up to annual meetings, and keep programs on track during the hunt to replace a PR staffer who has moved on.
Recently, I found myself surrounded on the Metro platform by ads from Fiverr, the freelance services marketplace for lean entrepreneurs. One gave me flashbacks. It read, “No one cares that you thought of it first.” During my first two years in business, though, I was amazed how many strangers called to tell me that they had thought of creating a public relations temporary agency. My response: “And so…?”
Some wanted me to make them my partner; some wanted me to hire them to help run the business — based solely on a declaration that they’d had the business idea first. All I knew was that even if they did have a great idea, they hadn’t used it.
Since that time we’ve done what Chevron’s ads say is “keeping doers doing,” and this time next year PRofessional Solutions will have been in business for a quarter of a century. Our clients still need to keep getting things done, and our temp associates are still anxious to keep getting things done. It’s rewarding and satisfying matchmaking that started as a good idea in concept, and for 24 years it’s been a good idea in practice.
Four winners of WWPR’s PR Woman of the Year Award: Debra Silemeo 2010; Beverly Silverberg 1996; Martha Boudreau 2016; Amy DeMaria 2017.
A wonderful annual dinner last week got me thinking about the nature of awards and how fleeting that recognition can be. Each April this dinner gathers together both past honorees of Washington Women in Public Relations’ PR Woman of the Year Award and past presidents of the organization, maintaining and nurturing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between its leaders and its award recipients.
Award events are most often designed to gain publicity for organizations. The awardee is selected to highlight a mission and frequently to raise funds. The award event’s benefits are immediate. Then it’s time to search for the next awardee who will bring the desired attention and access to funders.
Most award recipients have little if any contact again with the organizations that bestowed the award, which is a lost opportunity for both. But WWPR bestows its award to recognize achievement. And thanks to Kendra Kojcsich, a two-time president of WWPR, receiving the PR Woman of the Year award means becoming a valued mentor, advisor, collaborator and inspiration for members. She was the first to put together an informal dinner at which past winners gathered with the Board and past presidents to know each other better, share ideas and form friendships.
Eventually PRofessional Solutions took up Kendra’s lead. We’re proud to provide the sponsorship that makes the event a regular part of the organization’s calendar and planning. We can’t wait to see who will be named the 2018 PR Woman of the Year in November and to welcome her to the dinner in April 2019!
Recently a group of business colleagues and I had an amazing experience that had us buzzing – a beekeeping class at Miraval Resort in Arizona.
As business owners, it was impossible not to admire the bees’ single-minded pursuit of work in the interests of their community – work that also supports the crops that feed us and the animals that are part of our food chain!
An employer’s reaction to the ultimate work ethic of the bees is to wish, “If only humans were as dedicated as the bees!” But in the beekeeping class we also learned why employers need to have back-up plans and resources for when human workers don’t behave like bees.
Bees lack individual identity and exist only to serve the colony. That means you can’t expect your staff to be as focused as bees are, because:
- Bees have no life outside of work! All worker bees are female and go through their short lives without partners, children, a need to do laundry or grocery shopping or sleep.
- Worker bees change jobs without retraining. Worker bees seamlessly go through a series of vital jobs during their short lives of about six weeks: cleaning and polishing the cells for new eggs, nectar and pollen; disposing of dead bees; nursing baby bees; tending needs of the Queen Bee (the only bee to lay eggs); and, finally, foraging fields for nectar to turn into honey.
- Bees never lose focus or take a break. Interrupt the bees to collect honey and they immediately go back to work. If they perceive a threat to the developing baby bees, the honey (the colony’s food!) or the hive, they will sting (and die!). But the instant the intruder is gone or an interruption is over it’s back to work.
But we humans need to take breaks, must learn new skills, have outside commitments, and move on to new jobs when it is our own interest.
That’s why PRofessional Solutions, LLC is “the bee’s knees”* when someone on your public relations staff goes on family leave, gives notice, or doesn’t have the skills a new for a new role.
* ”The bee’s knees” became a popular expression in the U.S. in the 1920’s meaning “the height of excellence”!
Twenty-three years ago Conservation International (CI) was our first client. This week they made the temp we were currently providing them a permanent employee.
When we first collaborated PRofessional Solutions, LLC was just getting started and CI was a very young organization. We’ve both matured. For almost 30 years Conservation International has empowered people to protect the nature that we rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods through cutting-edge science, innovative policy and global reach.
It’s a great feeling to know the skilled communicators we’ve placed with them have helped grow that success.
PRofessional Solutions, LLC CEO Kate Perrin with Steve Winter, Adam Shapiro & Anthony Shop at 2014 “Book of Lists” party. Photo credit and special thanks to Capitol Communicator.
As May, our birthday month, winds down, we wanted to share one more special memory from our company’s 23-year history.
In 2014, PRofessional Solutions, LLC was recognized by the Washington Business Journal “Book of Lists” as being among the Top 25 Staffing Companies in the Washington, DC Metro area.
This was an exciting honor for a boutique staffing firm like ours!
As PRofessional Solutions, LLC celebrates its 23rd birthday this month, we wanted to share a few memories from the highlight reel of our company’s history.
Most Unusual Assignments
With 23 years of assignments, there have been many wonderful clients and projects, but these two stand out as the most remarkable:
NOAA’s Raising of the USS Monitor, 2001-02
Recovery of USS Monitor Engine; Photo Credit NOAA
The only occasion where the temp wasn’t working on dry land. This job included escorting reporters by ship off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC to where Navy divers worked in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to recover the shipwrecked, historic USS Monitor. It had been resting on the ocean floor since 1862.
American Red Cross Relief Flight, 1999
In preparation for a flight bringing supplies to Macedonia during the Kosovo Conflict, our temp was doing media advance work since the President of the American Red Cross and a group of reporters would be on board to visit the area for 48 hours. Shortly before departure, the temp was invited to join the delegation since his background included military public affairs experience. This was the only assignment where one of our temps needed a passport for the job. Luckily, his was up to date and he was ready to travel at a moment’s notice!