New employees answer, “What did you learn during your first year at Gregory FCA?”

January 23, 2012

One of our 2011 goals was to formalize our commitment to ongoing training of our employees. To that end, we’ve grown our culture of knowledge sharing among our teams and ramped up our focus on mentoring and hands-on training, especially with our new employees.

We’ve also developed and instituted a training workshop program we call Gregory FCA University. Leaders in the firm present an interactive session every month about a given topic in public relations, social media, or investor relations.

The sessions are followed by quizzes to test employees’ absorption of the information. We also video record all the sessions, and make them available in our digital library for employees to watch anytime they’re looking for insight or advice from their peers on a particular subject.

A year now on the books, we wanted to see what our 12 new employees have learned so far from being embedded in the industry and engaging in our training initiatives. So we asked them, “What did you learn during your first year at Gregory FCA?” Here’s some of what we heard.

Kate Ritinski

Kate Ritinski, Account Coordinator

It’s hard to believe that less than a year ago, I was still a college student, enjoying my last semester of senior year and figuring out how to tackle the “real world.” Now here I am, eight months later, as an Account Coordinator at Gregory FCA. Needless to say, these past several months have been quite a whirlwind.

Before I started, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what PR involved: having good time management, keeping clients happy, and securing media coverage. As I began my work at Gregory FCA, however, I quickly learned PR was much more than I ever thought it could be. Here’s a sampling of what the last eight months have taught me:

1. Strong writing skills are essential. If you can’t write, you won’t make it in public relations. Knowing AP Style, using proper grammar, and having a keen eye for editing will make or break your public relations success. I’ve learned that when work leaves my desk and is passed on to my colleagues, it always has to be “client ready” with no errors or typos.

2. Social media is king. If you’re keeping pace with the curve, you’re already behind. Staying on top of current social media trends is imperative to building and maintaining key relationships in PR. I’ve learned to always be on the lookout to see who I can follow on Twitter, connect with on LinkedIn, and add to my Google+ circles.

3. Keep up with current events. It’s crucial to stay on top of what’s going on in the news, in my clients’ industries, and in general. The news is on as I get ready in the morning and during my commute to work. I frequently check all the major news outlets throughout the day. You never know when you can relate a current news story to one of your clients or use it in a pitch.

4. Ask questions and take initiative. Without a doubt I can say I learn something new every day at Gregory FCA, whether it is industry-related, client-related, or a tidbit about life in general. My colleagues continually encourage and challenge me to ask questions, to help me grow as a person and PR professional. In doing so, I’ve learned to take initiative and take on new responsibilities.

5. Public relations is all about teamwork. If you don’t enjoy working closely with others, you’re probably not going to enjoy public relations. Without my coworkers, I wouldn’t have any success in PR. We work as a team on a daily basis, bouncing ideas off each other, working together to secure media placements, and offering insight from past experiences.

Sara Nugent

Sara Nugent, Staff Writer

Quick: How long does it take to receive a Social Security claim? How do you code for a web application? How do you enable the automatic update button on your WordPress blog? You’d probably never find these questions next to each other on a college PR exam, but since working at Gregory FCA, I’ve been tested on each of them.

When I first walked into Gregory FCA, I quickly realized my new coworkers knew the ins and outs of what each client did, and I became worried that I had missed out on an important PR class in college. I had learned how to craft a press release, tactics for pitching the media, and the steps to plan events. But had I missed Mastering Your Clients’ Industry 101?

In my first few weeks, I wondered how I’d learn about topics I’d never encountered before. But I soon discovered that whatever you need to know is out there. If you don’t know it, you just haven’t found it. And for me, it was right here in the building. My coworkers were not only experts in what they did, they were experts in communicating it. Between meetings, social networking, and the osmosis approach of just listening, I caught up.

Eight months later, I’m always ready to speak on a client’s behalf, and it’s because of a simple lesson I’ve learned here: PR isn’t about doing what you have a knack for. It’s about having a knack for whatever you do.

Hannah Messinger

Hannah Messinger, Account Coordinator

I started working at Gregory FCA as a Junior Associate the summer between my junior and senior year. I left taking the priceless experience of my internship back with me to Syracuse University, thinking about the year ahead and where it would take me. It wasn’t until after I packed away my cap and gown that I came back to Gregory FCA to start what I had once only known as “life after graduation” — the most terrifying concept for students leaving the education bubble.

I’m now six months into my career at Gregory FCA, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a challenge to look back and think of everything I’ve learned. But two simple lessons do stand out: Take initiative and ask questions. The initiative not only propels you to be better at your job, but it’s more valued than I thought it would be. It doesn’t matter if this is your first or 10th job, taking initiative lets great ideas be heard.

And we’ve all heard the saying, “the stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask.” At Gregory FCA, creative tasks and questions motivate the way we work. It’s through asking questions that I’ve been able to learn the most important and memorable details. As a Junior Associate and now an Account Coordinator, I’ve found that asking every question that pops into my head has helped me transition from an undergraduate to a PR practitioner.

Justin Lehmann

Justin Lehmann, Staff Writer

Who am I going to be today? Maybe I’ll be a venture capitalist predicting the growth trends of smart devices in the workplace. Or maybe I’ll be an intrepid explorer discovering the hidden beauty of the Far East. Or I could even be an expert in enterprise cloud computing, offering my opinion on Microsoft’s latest innovation. No, I am not planning to crash the next White House party or scam a Las Vegas casino. I get to ask myself this question every day when I walk into Gregory FCA.

While I’m there I learn how to understand and influence established and emerging media channels, collaborate and brainstorm with colleagues who’ve poured over every nuance of their client’s industry, and integrate myself into a family of professionals like no other.

Amanda Chun

Amanda Chun, Account Coordinator

Working at Gregory FCA for the past six months has taught me a lot about the worlds of public relations and finance. On the public relations side, I discovered that perseverance and persistence go a long way when reaching out to the media.

Moreover, I realized that as a PR professional, writing and client interaction are two skills that you can always build on, even 10 or 20 years down the road. Even though PR is known to be a competitive field, I have noticed that collaboration and consideration are what make our team so successful.

Working in financial communications with all sorts of clients in the financial industry has kept my everyday responsibilities exciting and challenging. I have learned a lot about investing strategies, retirement planning, and especially the importance of contributing to your 401(k).

Aside from the challenges of being new to public relations and finance, one thing I can say for sure is that taking initiative and staying curious will help anyone succeed in his or her profession!

There are many valuable lessons here that show the best way to learn public relations is to practice it alongside experienced professionals in the industry. Building and mastering the skills of PR takes time, dedication to the craft, a constant willingness to learn, and a desire to solve challenges in new and creative ways. Keep up the great work, guys.

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