Ready to Start Your First PR Job? Here’s What You Need to Know.

By Danielle Salvato-Earl

I never dreamed of going into PR.

I aspired to become a nurse. Then, when my prerequisite college courses were complete and I was preparing to apply to nursing school, I took the trip of a lifetime. Studying abroad in Europe was an indescribable experience. It forced me to become more independent and led me to an incredible amount of personal development.

As I traveled to different countries, I became fascinated with their cultures and the ways in which people interacted. At the end of the day, communication impacts everything — from our everyday lives and beyond. When I returned home from abroad, I switched my major to journalism and PR and went all in.

Because of my winding road to PR, I’m extremely passionate about mentoring young PR professionals. It’s all about giving back to the incredible people and organizations that took a chance on me and doing what I can to support, educate and advise those just entering the field.

So for those who are just starting out, here are some things I wish I had known when I got my first PR job:

Read, read, read! One of my biggest pieces of advice is to read as much as you can —  particularly the publications that are important to your clients and their industries. I can’t emphasize the importance of taking the time to do this. It’s a valuable way for you to get to know reporters, the topics they cover and key the trends that matter. So set up alerts, sign up for newsletters, and don’t hesitate to bookmark relevant pages. Develop a routine; start with 30 minutes a day.

Multitask or go home. There will be days when your first job feels more like juggling than PR. In a span of just 30 minutes, you could be tracking and sending coverage, managing logistics for a launch (where one silly mess up could be detrimental), conducting research, building a database, submitting an award and Tweeting a live webinar.

To accomplish it all, you have to learn to prioritize and juggle. Do this by asking questions so you can understand what absolutely needs to take precedence. Also, learn how to tackle your to-do list quickly yet meticulously (it will take some time, but you’ll get there).

Be accountable. When you’re part of a team, being accountable for your actions and decisions is crucial  — and it definitely gets noticed. When each team member is accountable, there is more trust and ownership. This leads to a team with better performance, communication and creativity. Above all, remember that we’re all human, and we all make mistakes. When you do, the best thing you can do is hold yourself accountable, learn from the situation and move forward with the lessons you’ve learned.

Organization is key. I can easily say that organization is the number one skill you need to be successful when starting out in PR. With so many moving parts — details, deadlines, meetings, etc. — organization can be a huge challenge. Figure out as fast as you can how to be productive and tightly manage.

It might be writing everything down in a checklist, using tools like TeuxDeux or sending yourself calendar invites for key tasks. Whatever your style, figure it out fast. If you’re not organized from the moment you walk in the door, it’s going to be a tough road for you and your colleagues.

Pay attention to detail.  Whether it’s a formal email to a client or a casual one-off with a team member, details are important. Nothing will drive your team crazier than emails with typos or mistakes, so proofread everything!

In addition, re-read the emails you receive to ensure that you fully understand directions — don’t ever assume that you already know what someone means. Also, fact check everything you can (Google is your friend). If you’re working on a big project or important email, walk away to clear your mind for a few minutes. If you don’t focus and pay attention to detail, your mistakes could define you.

Pick up the phone. Today, there are so many ways to communicate. Email, Slack, Skype, texts and Tweeting are just a few. However, picking up the phone works too — I promise it does. Don’t be shy to call that reporter, client, colleague or partner. Phone communication offers a human element that will help you succeed by setting the stage for a deeper connection. Make sure a day doesn’t go by where you haven’t had a truly “offline” communication.

Almost nine years since starting my PR career, there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t laughed or learned something new. If there’s anything you take away from this blog, it’s remembering to have fun and smile as you learn. It’s worth taking the time to find the right environment where you are surrounded by coworkers you admire and who motivate you. The end result is having great people to learn from and becoming a better person in the process.

I’m blessed to have found an environment that fosters this and hope you will be too!

Danielle brings energy, enthusiasm and a strong team-player mentality to her role as a director at Kulesa Faul. Her accounts include Pepperdata, Sencha, Sumo Logic and Vena Solutions. Contact her at danielle@kulesafaul.com.

Interested in joining the Kulesa Faul team? Check out our open positions at: http://kulesafaul.com/careers

Distil Customer Spotlight

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Every other month we highlight a customer who shares what it’s like to work with Kulesa Faul. This month, Elias Terman, vice president of marketing for Distil Networks shares his experience. Thank you, Elias!

Immigrants Fuel Silicon Valley and the American Dream

By Joanna Kulesa

Silicon Valley, my professional home for 20 years, is in many ways the ultimate embodiment of the American dream—a place where everyone can succeed if they have good ideas and are willing to work hard, regardless of circumstances of birth.

Our agency has worked with entrepreneurs of all religions and nationalities, from Muslims, Jews and Sikhs to hundreds of dreamers drawn to the Valley from Israel, India, Turkey, Russia, China and other nations around the globe.

Like many of you, I’m angry and concerned about the ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and hope the courts continue to block it.

Kulesa Faul agrees with the 127 companies—including Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Intel, Netflix and Twitter—that recently filed a legal brief opposing the ban.

We agree that the ban goes against American principles and hurts U.S. companies by hindering their ability to attract talent from outside the country and compete in an international marketplace.

Further, the business impact goes beyond the turmoil set in motion for current  H-1B visa holders.

Throughout history, millions of people around the world—including my great-grandparents from Ireland and Italy – have pursued the chance to start a new life in America. The next ‘big idea’ may not come from an established working immigrant, but 20 years from now from a brilliant child refugee who learned determination, grit and perseverance through his or her personal journey.

We believe that these qualities make America what it is and serve as the foundation of the entrepreneurial spirit.

We can’t let unfounded fears devastate what truly makes America great.

As the 127 companies so eloquently stated, “The tremendous impact of immigrants on America—and on American business—is not happenstance. People who choose to leave everything that is familiar and journey to an unknown land to make a new life necessarily are endowed with drive, creativity, determination and just plain guts. The energy they bring to America is a key reason why the American economy has been the greatest engine of prosperity and innovation in history.”

I hope the ban is permanently overturned—and that our leadership focuses on more effective ways to protect America that align with our natural entrepreneurial spirit and sense of inclusiveness.

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Joanna Kulesa has been building successful agencies in Silicon Valley for 20 years.  Her passion for outstanding client service is matched by her dedication to agency employees—reflected in its naming by Fortune as a Best Place to work for Camaraderie and a Best Place to Work for Women. Contact Joanna here.

What To Look for at RSA ‘17: Five Questions with Angelique Faul

The RSA crowd gathers around the Innovation Sandbox Contest

More than 40,000 cybersecurity pros will gather at Moscone Center in San Francisco, starting on Monday, for the 26th annual RSA Conference. The event is cybersecurity’s Woodstock of sorts – a week-long binge of networking, knowledge-sharing and, yes, parties.

Angelique Faul, who leads Kulesa Faul’s IT security practice, has attended about half of the conferences to date. Read on to hear her thoughts on why RSA is such a big deal and what to expect at this year’s conference.

Q: What exactly goes on at RSA and why do so many people in the cybersecurity space flock to it?

A: For cybersecurity companies, RSA is the place to see and be seen. Unlike some technology industry conferences, RSA generally isn’t considered a major lead generation opportunity or a venue for sealing deals with customers. It’s more business-focused, giving companies the chance to rub elbows with industry colleagues, clink glasses with reporters and analysts, and learn about the latest trends and technologies from guest speakers and seasoned security pros.

Although not a heavy-duty technical conference like Black Hat, there are a slew of educational sessions that take place every day. There’s also the Innovation Sandbox Contest, which recognizes young companies creating today’s most innovative security technologies. Being included is a huge win, as it not only generates significant recognition, but helps build awareness for these early-stage companies.

It is truly amazing how much the show has grown. In 2005, RSA reached what was then an all-time high for attendance – 11,000. Last year, a record 40,000 people attended and I’m sure that will be topped this year. The show has become so important to the industry that exhibiting is almost mandatory – any cybersecurity company that decides to skip is conspicuously absent.

Q: What will everyone be talking about at RSA this year? 

A: Internet of Things (IoT) security will be a very hot topic. Analysts say the world will have 20 or 30 billion interconnected things by the end of the decade, but there is considerable concern around security risks. We’ve already started to see some attacks like the one on Dyn last fall where cybercriminals penetrated IoT devices to do a lot of harm. Just this month, the news about spying TVs has further highlighted the security and privacy challenges posed by the IoT.

Another topic you won’t be able to avoid this year is ransomware. In fact, RSA has dedicated a full-day seminar to address all of the issues – technical, policy, compliance and financial response – associated with this growing problem. In addition to providing all of the ins and outs of ransomware, attendees will leave knowing if and when to pay the ransom. I’m intrigued!

Q: How has the cybersecurity landscape changed from, say, three years ago?

A: The number of high-profile attacks has exploded during the last few years. It’s extremely hard to keep track and unfortunately these threats keeps evolving. No longer is it just about hackers, even though they’re becoming more sophisticated by the hour. Now, there are a whole host of new risks involving cloud computing, insiders and, as I mentioned, IoT.

As you can imagine, this is driving an unprecedented interest in the space. I recently read there are going to be 700 exhibitors at RSA this year. That’s incredible. It was 400 just a few years ago. And as more and more companies enter the cybersecurity market, the fight for attention at the conference becomes exponentially competitive.

Q: What’s your advice to companies wondering how to break through the noise at such a huge show?

A: It’s difficult. We usually advise against making news announcements at RSA – it’s just too hard to get proper attention given the noise. A better idea might be to prepare some original research or data about pressing security issues and trends and make influencers aware of it two or three weeks before the conference.

It’s important for every security company to develop an articulate technologist or thought leader who can speak at a high level about security challenges and how to address them. Try to set up meetings for that person with key reporters or analysts attending RSA.

Many companies host parties at RSA. There’s a lot of competition, but with creative approaches, such as clever use of social media, you can throw a party and people will show. And if that doesn’t work, insert the word “exclusive” or “private” or “VIP” and you’ll be overbooked!

Q. What do you love about working in the security space?

A: All the things that make the space so noisy also make it fun! It’s a big challenge. You have to be really creative to deliver successful PR campaigns for security companies. You have to be very much on top of industry developments, every minute of every day. But the best part? I’m fortunate enough to work with an amazing group of people who kill it every day.

I hope to see you next week!

Angelique has been serving and providing counsel to high-tech companies for over 20 years. As a partner of Kulesa Faul, she heads up the agency’s thriving IT security practice. Contact Angelique here.

Predictions and Pet Peeves: The Reporters Speak

By Alandea Waidler

Here at KF, continual learning is embraced as key to success. That’s why our team attends industry events every chance we get. Most recently for me, it was a press panel hosted by our friends at Mindshare PR, featuring several enterprise tech journalists with whom we regularly work.

Panelists included Chris Preimesberger of eWeek, Craig Matsumoto of SDxCentral, Jim Carroll of Converge! Network Digest, Doug Dineley of InfoWorld, Chris Williams of The Register and Alex Williams of The New Stack – a group with a combined 100 years of industry experience.

Over networking with like-minded PR pros and enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres, we had the opportunity to hear reporters answer questions about the year ahead, the buzzwords they are tired of and more. Read on for a few fresh insights from these reporters (note some answers have been edited for length and clarity):

What will be the single most important tech trend in 2017?

“The ‘citizen developer’ and DIY trends. So many people in all lines of business are creating the tools they need to get their business done, and it’s happening more and more outside of IT.”

“Security. It’s a factor in every single technology trend we’re seeing.”

“Big things are going to happen in storage. Storage as we know it is going away — there’s only going to be memory that lasts forever.”

Your biggest PR pet peeve?

“Telling me you have a story for me, but that it’s running as an exclusive in TechCrunch!”

“People taking credit for work that’s not theirs.”

“Not understanding my publication and what I might be interested in. Know your product, the target audience, and do your homework.”

“Don’t lie! It’s not a good look.”

What are some topics or buzzwords you want to hear less of in 2017?

“I don’t want to see the words “excited,” “dynamic,” “dramatic,” or “digital transformation” in a press release. Just tell me what your product does and what the business values are. Keep it simple!”

“On the security side, I want to write about what progress is actually being made, as opposed to all the breaches that are happening.”

“Terms like “IoT” and “digital transformation” are being used by everyone. We tune them out.”

A huge thank you to Mindshare PR for hosting this valuable event and including KF as guests!

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Alandea Waidler brings a go-getter mentality and bold creativity to her role of Senior Account Executive at Kulesa Faul. She leads media relations for Jamf, Qumulo, Sencha and Paycor, and is known as “Grace Under Fire” among her colleagues. Contact her at alandea@kulesafaul.com.

 

10 Things I’ll Remember About the 2017 Kulesa Faul Offsite

Steve and Angelique ready to brave the rain to play the Go Game

By Steve Eisenstadt

Full disclosure: I’m a total sucker for company offsites. This might be because I started my career in journalism, where “offsite” meant a few exhausted reporters grousing in a bar. But even after 20 years in the business world, I find the very idea of spending a few days in a nice hotel or resort tackling big-picture topics, strengthening team cohesion and just having fun to be pure genius.

I’ve attended one or two of these retreats each year since the late ‘90s on behalf of a variety of organizations. I’ve spent countless hours storming my brain, participated in all the trendy team-building exercises, worked on myself and, yes, even trust-fallen.

And I’ve loved pretty much all of it.

I especially look forward to and enjoy Kulesa Faul’s annual kickoff gatherings. I’ve just returned from my third one and once again saw the results of specific steps the company takes to assure a valuable experience.

Here are 10 moments – some big, some little – that I took away from our two and a half days at the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz, CA:

  • One of our agency’s core values – “integrity” – was the offsite theme. Even as a lifelong writer, I usually have thought of that word in its most familiar definition of honesty or moral uprightness. Agency Principal Joanna Kulesa reminded us in her welcoming talk that integrity also means complete and undivided dedication – in KF’s case, to all aspects of our client service. I found that an interesting paradigm to take back to our daily work.
  • Joanna showing up on Day 1 wearing a fantastic Janis Joplin t-shirt.
  • “Icebreakers” in which employees take turns revealing something about themselves are a standard offsite opener. I love them, for the simple reason that I enjoy learning more about my colleagues (and talking about myself!). And all the more so when I’m nearly moved to tears, as happened when our content marketing manager reflected on the sacrifices her mother made after the family immigrated to the United States.
  • I admit I was initially skeptical about an agenda item that called for us to participate in what seemed to be a glorified scavenger hunt – The Go Game – and to do so, as it turned out, in a driving rainstorm. It ended up being one of the best activities of its kind I’ve ever experienced – the type of fun of the highest order that stretched our creative muscles and taught us a thing or two about perseverance. (Not to mention fascinating from a technology perspective, as The Go Game uses a clever iPhone app to make it all happen.)
  • Honest, useful and inclusive conversations about what’s required to advance our goal of being the best boutique agency in Silicon Valley. In this way, the offsite demonstrated that when every attendee gets the opportunity to meaningfully express his or her viewpoint, everyone feels like an owner.
  • The total absence, per the offsite rules, of laptops and phones during the sessions. It felt like the pre-internet days in the meeting room – which is exactly what’s needed to encourage a distraction-free conversation. It felt good!
  • The picturesque setting overlooking the Pacific and the Santa Cruz wharf and boardwalk. What an inspirational locale.
  • The fleece throws that each employee received to stay warm in the heavily windowed room. The KF Events team that organized the offsite thought of everything.
  • As a remote employee, I cherish time spent with my fellow KFers. The offsite allowed me to learn new things about them, from their insights on communications challenges to family backgrounds to favorite travel experiences.
  • At a party on the final night, we danced to a live rock band. I stopped at one point to look around and snap a few photos. Everyone seemed so happy, each moving to the music in his or her own style. It reminded me of the famous scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Thanks to these moments and others, the Kulesa Faul offsite was a success. I look forward to dancing on in 2017!

Steve Eisenstadt is Content Director at Kulesa Faul. He works with clients on developing high-impact op-ed pieces, blogs, case studies, white papers and other written content. His experience includes 17 years in corporate and agency communications—all in high tech—and 15 as a journalist. Contact Steve at steve@kulesafaul.com.