Senior Pros and Young Pros Hold Timely Virtual Open Roundtable
“When the winds of change blow, it may be hard to see the path ahead.”
On July 9, 2020, PRSA NJ’s Senior Pros and Young Pros members held a special joint discussion for the first time through a Virtual Open Roundtable discussion of the unprecedented challenges facing PR professionals today.
Chris Lukach APR, president of AKCG, moderated the interactive discussion on “How To Survive And Thrive Despite Uncertain Times”. The two-hour session gave participants the opportunity to share their ideas, concerns and advice directly with each other.
Together, the Roundtable group addressed three key issues:
- What have PR Pros learned during the current crisis?
- How are they readying themselves for future success?
- How can Senior Pros and Young Pros help themselves and others?
The Roundtable participants believe the abrupt shift of workers from an office setting to remote locations has its advantages and disadvantages.
Young Pros director Stephanie Scott (First and Last PR) said the change has given managers and staff the opportunity to learn new ways of staying connected to clients and co-workers, but she admits it may be harder to sustain a sense of team bonding outside an office setting.
Chris Lukach / AKCG
Chris Lukach likewise saw the value of his staff’s ability to reach new contacts while untethered to a single office location, but recognized the long term importance of senior employees sharing their knowledge and experience one-on-one with younger staff. Media consultant Dave Gaier also missed the constant interaction he enjoyed with colleagues before starting to work from home.
Vikki Hurley-Schubert / Assisting Hands Home Care LLC
Vikki Hurley-Schubert (Assisting Hands Home Care LLC) shared her “virtual” experience of becoming a new employee at her new company from a remote location, and Joe Contrino described the challenge of conducting a successful PR job search in the absence of genuine face-to-face contacts.
Ken Jacobs / Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching
PRSA NJ president Anjelica Sena (Prudential Financial) emphasized the importance of continued networking for professionals working remote, and Ken Jacobs (Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching), who leads the Senior Pros Group, encouraged the participants to see challenges as opportunities. Meghan Gross (Pierpont Communications) agreed, stressing the lasting positive impact of workers actively pursuing more contacts while working remote.
Preparing for Future Success
Roundtable attendees identified specific tasks they are pursuing during this work-from-home period.
Noreen Braman (New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program) said her organization has used the time to review its operations, strengthen ties to clients, and adopt new procedures.
Ken Scudder / Ken Scudder Training & Consulting
Ken Scudder (Ken Scudder Training & Consulting) has been organizing both his home office and regular business space so that he is ready to return to his permanent office quickly when the time comes.
Several participants stressed the need for employers in this new environment to acknowledge that remote workers are entitled to a reasonable work/life balance – rather than treat off-site staff as if they are “on call” 24/7. Pam Golden (GLA Communications) said that people working from home deserve chances to break up their workday and take time away from the laptop. Ken Jacobs added that when staff are trusted, they work harder and are less stressed, directly benefiting employers.
Helping Senior Pros and Young Pros
Janess Messner / Messner Consulting
PR consultant Janess Messner and Dave Gaier encouraged remote workers or PR job seekers of any age to continue learning and taking classes to acquire new skills during this uncertain period. It can enhance your value as an employee and demonstrate to future employers your commitment to persevering in difficult situations.
Anjelica Sena and Ken Scudder repeated the importance of building professional networks and improving business writing skills.
Vikki Hurley-Schubert advised other Young Pros to learn from mistakes they encounter early in their careers.
Putting it all together, Ken Jacobs urged the Roundtable participants to pursue ongoing networking, make full use of LinkedIn online, pursue careers that reflect your personal strengths, and commit themselves to lifelong skill building.