A Little Victory

Yesterday I gained a little victory in my search for that next great public relations position.   I received word — via email — that I was not selected for a senior position for a prominent national company.  The job involved launching public relations and marketing initiatives for an online resource available to consumers.   I knew the industry, and I had all the qualifications, and then some.

How’s this a “victory,” even a little one?

For these reasons:

1.  I was one of the handful of candidates who received a face-to-face interview, and apparently I was a strong candidate. This means I’m in demand in today’s marketplace; just haven’t made the right connection yet.

2. I had less than two days to prepare for the interview. I used that time to analyze the site and identify ways to improve it.  At the interview, I presented the hiring authority with a printed list of suggestions.   He appeared to be impressed.  This gave me an opportunity to demonstrate and sharpen my analytical skills.

3.  During the interview, held on a Saturday afternoon, I was prepared. I had anticipated questions and prepared answers.  A good interview, I’m told, should be a 50-50 give-and-take between candidate and employer. This one met that criteria.  I was relaxed and confident.  (I think I looked pretty good, too, in my navy blue blazer, gray slacks and “sincere” tie.)  To demonstrate my writing skills, I presented a portfolio that showed the depth of my published works and media relations activities.  Every face-to-face interview offers an opportunity to take stock of yourself.  I’ll do even better on the next one.

4. The company is hiring for other communications positions. This one didn’t work out, but perhaps I’ll be considered for another.  The HR recruiter who set up the interview said I would be kept in consideration.

5. And, I reached out via email to the hiring authority, the person who made the decision to select someone else.   The hiring authority promptly responded to my message and even accepted my LinkedIn invitation.  Now, this person and I are connected online.  I’ll remain a presence — and a possible candidate for another position.

Life is full of opportunities to gain, advance and succeed.  In my search, I fail only if I stop trying and stop believing in myself.  This recent little victory only strengthens my belief in my abilities and my value within the marketplace.

Bring on the next challenge.

With Spring Around the Corner

My desk calendar tells me that Spring starts tomorrow, March 20.  Here in Chicago, Springlike weather graced our fair city most of this third week of March.

And, all the right signs — crocus and snow drop emerging from barren gardens, flowering shrubs starting to bud, robins and cardinals return, the kids down the block playing kick ball — are right outside my window.

From a non-meteorological perspective,  Spring is a time for renewal, a time to reflect on what’s ahead.  I’m taking stock of where my life and career have led since I launched my concerted effort to secure that next great position in public relations.

And, I’m energized.

During these past several weeks, I’ve had a tremendous opportunity to learn, progress and ultimately succeed.  I continue to complete project assignments that help my small, but loyal, roster of clients meet their communications needs.  I continue to have the luxury of learning about the next development in social media (these seem to surface weekly) and how it fits into public relations strategies and tactics.   I continue to volunteer time to advance the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) designation, which I am proud to hold.  And, I continue to have the time to write this blog.

Mind you, I spend a large part of my day networking, “cold calling” targeted companies to seek out opportunities and responding to posted positions  commensurate with my skills and career objectives.   But I do it at my own pace.  I have the luxury to delve into a new direction, as long as I meet my deadlines.

I’ve never for a moment considered myself “unemployed.”  I’m maximizing an opportunity and poised to bring this advantage forward to the right company at the right time.   We’re in daylight saving time, and I’m springing ahead.

One more thought involving “spring,” and again it will involve the verb.

Alexander Pope, a British poet and essayist from the early 1700s, wrote a much-quoted line, “Hope springs eternal.”  This is a guy who overcame a lot: He suffered a disease that stunted his growth (he was not even five feet tall), and being Catholic, his family was ostracized and forced to live outside of London.

Yet, Pope overcame these and other challenges to become a literary giant in an era when authors were the rock stars and screen idols of the time.

I know I will overcome the challenges of today’s economy land a great new position. When? I don’t know.  But I’ve got hope, drive and determination. And, it’s Spring.

Rise Up, PR Community! No “Jersey Shore” in Chicago

A short piece in the Chicago Tribune last week struck a nerve that’s hanging around like a toothache.  The article stated a production company is holding a casting call soon seeking young adults to participate in a “reality show” set on the South Side of my beloved Chicago.

And get this: The show will be based on the runaway MTV hit “Jersey Shore.”  I’m purposely not adding links to the network or show in question because it would be a small step leading to the continued decline of modern society.  For the uninitiated, “Jersey Shore” is a behind-the-scenes perspective of the adventures of some New York area guys and gals enjoying the summer at the beach.  And, yes, I’ve watched around 15 minutes of one episode, purely through morbid curiosity.  Between the often bleeped-out dialog from the “stars” and scenes in dive bars and messy apartments, I don’t see the attraction.

Those fortunate enough to be selected for the Chicago production have to demonstrate their “Southsideness” and devotion to the Chicago White Sox, among other qualities.   I’ll bet having a few tats, a creative moniker the incorporates “The”  and ability to master the beer bong also will impress  casting agents.

And, full disclosure: I have lived virtually all of my life on the North Side and will support the Chicago Cubs for as long as it takes to win the World Series. I have many friends who hail and still reside on the South Side, and I visit there periodically, especially when we have friends arriving at Midway Airport.

But I can’t stand by idly while some out-of-towners — LA, New York, I don’t care where they’re from — waltz into my home town with the intention of producing programming that will put my fellow Chicagoans and our fair city into a negative light.

That’s why I’m calling on my colleagues in the public relations community to rise up! Let’s use our collective resources to communicate the potential detriment to our civic pride, our reputation and our chance of ever securing the Summer Olympics. Let’s work to halt production of the aforementioned program.   (Note to former Governor Rod Blagojevich: You’re already on a reality show, otherwise we might seek your assistance.) Or at the least, let’s encourage the producers to consider something different.  Here are some suggestions:

1. LaSalle Street Stories: Listen and learn as the city’s true movers and shakers — the pols, the attorneys, the financial geniuses — wheel and deal, and hopefully do it all within the boundaries of established laws. This place gets pretty quiet after 5 p.m., so the producers will have to rise early to get any usable footage, unless they want to talk to some guys from Streets and San.

2. Say Hi to Hyde Park: Think of the tremendous B-roll footage possibilities! There’s the University of Chicago campus with its Gothic architecture.  There’s the beautiful Lake Michgan shore and view from Promentory Point.  There’s the Museum of Science and Industry and the Midway Plaisance.  As for people, imagine the scintillating exchange between two U of C grad students outside the Medici explaining quantum physics.

3. Which Way to Wicker Park: Ah, Chicago’s crossroads of cool and one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city.  Wicker Park and its sister community of Bucktown have it all. Hipster restaurants. Galleries. Vintage clothing shops. Its own el stop.  Turn-of-the-century housing.  And, of course, there’s lots of faux hawk sporting hipsters to provide exciting dialogue.  The only problem: There’s no place to park in Wicker Park.

Again, I encourage Chicago’s robust public relations industry to flex its collective muscle. Let’s develop an effective public relations program — the real kind, with strategies, objectives, proven tactics — to address this potential threat. Let’s  stop any reality show that will portray our city as anything but a world-class metropolis and the true capital of the nation’s heartland.

As a former elected official, Paddy Bauler, once said not too many years ago: Chicago ain’t ready for reform yet.  I will augment that sage proclamation to state: Chicago ain’t ready for no “Jersey Shore” type of TV show.