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Becoming a PR Leader: The Art and Science of Mentorship

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For young professionals, having a mentor is often encouraged and touted; however, knowing how to find and effectively engage in such relationships is not necessarily easy or intuitive. This panel draws on primary and secondary research funded by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, the expertise of an employee engagement expert, and a public relations professional with experience in both corporate and agency settings to help attendees better understand and navigate mentoring relationships. Panelists will share both personal experiences and research insights derived from a survey of more than 400 millennial PR professionals; interviews with 50+ PR professionals and students across five countries; and a review of nearly 200 mentoring studies and articles. Specific topics include best organizational and interpersonal mentoring practices, mentoring’s role in growing diverse organizations and mentoring’s connection to leadership development.
By the end of this session, participants will be able to:
• Define what research tells us about mentorship’s value to PR practitioners in both the U.S. and abroad, and its link to PR leadership.
• Reflect on the different kinds of mentors (personal, academic, professional) and will learn about the importance of mentorship in growing diverse, inclusive workplaces.
• Analyze the 10 best organizational and interpersonal mentoring practices and will receive practical tips and advice for building and fostering them.

Features public relations professionals:
- Keith Burton, principle, Grayson Emmett Partners
- Dr. Diana Martinelli, professor and administrator, West Virginia University
- Alicia Thompson, managing director, Porter Novelli

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Becoming a PR Leader: The Art and Science of Mentorship

  1. 1. Becoming a PR Leader The Art and Science of Mentorship Presented at 2017 PRSA Conference
  2. 2. Meet the Panelists Dr. Diana Martinelli West Virginia University Alicia Thompson, APR Porter Novelli Keith Burton Grayson Emmett Partners
  3. 3. Objectives • Discover what research tells us about mentorship’s value to PR practitioners in the U.S. and abroad and its link to PR leadership • Reflect on the different kinds of mentors and understand mentorship’s importance in growing diverse, inclusive workplaces • Obtain information about the best organizational and interpersonal mentoring practices and hear practical tips and advice for building and fostering them
  4. 4. “Mentoring is really one of the strongest ways to spell success in public relations.” -Betsy Plank
  5. 5. The Power of Mentors
  6. 6. Plank Center Whitepaper on Mentorship Mentoring activities can include… • counseling (listening; encouraging; identifying and evaluating problems); • coaching (helping acquire particular skills and knowledge); • tutoring (instructing on subjects); • sponsoring (finding the appropriate network or position for a protégé); • advising (matching interests with their career aspirations); and • befriending (developing informal supportive relationships).
  7. 7. Plank Center Research Findings: The Mentor-Leader Connection • Surveyed 420 millennial communications professionals (ages 21-36) • More than 70% interested in being organizational leaders, but • Rated their organizations low on professional development • Organizations’ greatest area for improvement: Mentoring • Interviewed 51 PR practitioners and student leaders (US, Brazil, China, India, Russia) • Unanimous findings across participants/countries: having and being a mentor is beneficial to leadership development • Various types of mentors across the lifespan
  8. 8. Mentoring in the Workplace
  9. 9. Importance of Mentorship to PR Professionals • Share knowledge and skills from seasoned professionals to next generation PR leaders and vice-versa • Develop future talent • Provide guidance in career development • Help develop networking skills • Enhance coaching and listening skills • Provide understanding of current concerns emerging leaders face in the PR industry • Contribute to the overall success of the PR industry
  10. 10. Mentoring is an essential leadership skill.
  11. 11. Finding a Mentor • Ask yourself what you want in a mentor • Find great mentors through the inspiring people you're already interacting and working with now • Find someone with different skillsets than you to ensure the best range of insights and perspectives • Don’t feel like you have to find someone in your industry or in the same location. • Have multiple mentors (Board of Directors) from diverse industries and diverse backgrounds • Select both men and women as mentors Be someone who is enjoyable to mentor.
  12. 12. Best Practices for Mentorship • Be authentic, open and honest • Set expectations and relationship guardrails at the onset • Expect to drive the mentoring relationship • Ask for specific feedback • The best mentors ask lots of questions rather than give answers: they guide; they don’t do the work for you • In this new digital world, you could foster a mentor-mentee relationship via Skype, Face time and other virtual online tools Be willing to stretch and step out of your comfort zone.
  13. 13. Mentoring Emerging Leaders
  14. 14. What We’ve Learned about Best-in-Class Practices • Led major study for global client assessing skills and competencies future PR leaders will need • Interviewed PR leaders at General Electric, McDonald’s, Cargill, Toyota, Chevron, IBM and Southwest Airlines regarding skills, competencies and capabilities seen as essential to their teams
  15. 15. Of more than two-dozen skills cited, those rated highly by every leader included… Strategic thinking; function & business knowledge; creativity; collaboration; written communication; and tactical implementation.
  16. 16. But what about mentoring?
  17. 17. How Mentors Help Emerging Leaders • Gaining Perspective: “What does good look like?” • Understanding power of curiosity • Developing critical thinking • Turning new ideas into solutions • Helping others see a rapidly changing business world in new ways • Driving collaboration across multiple platforms – and staying abreast of the information flow while accepting the responsibility that comes with collaboration • Becoming more agile – keeping pace, shifting gears often and quickly, and staying current with the information flow • Being patient when the pace of progress is slower – and knowing when to push harder and more assertively for greater responsibility • Developing new behaviors and building new strengths • Learning how to accept, interpret and act on feedback and criticism
  18. 18. What Do Mentors Need from Those They Counsel and Guide? • Context to understand why the relationship matters, what the mentee needs/expects, and how they will work together • Knowledge about the subject matter and mentee • Opportunities to become better coaches, better counselors, better listeners and better leaders by learning how to advance the goals of mentees, while creating a learning environment for both parties • Information regarding emerging technologies, social and digital media trends and insights about Millennials and Generation Z – that can be met through reverse mentoring
  19. 19. “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill
  20. 20. Workplace Best Practices for Mentoring Programs 1. Identify the purpose (e.g. leadership, retention) and supporting organizational resources; then set clear goals and expectations of participants. 2. Demonstrate management’s support through senior-level involvement or publicly voiced support and recognition. 3. Provide training. European Mentoring & Coaching Council guidelines provide a good start 4. Hold all parties accountable (including mentees!) 5. Provide time for mentees to watch, do, interact and learn from mentors. Mentors should explain not only the how but also the why of things to foster deeper understanding.
  21. 21. Workplace Best Practices (cont’d) 6. Encourage mentors to always model professionalism. 7. Be helpful, transparent and honest. Provide clear direction / feedback to mentors. Avoid “soft ball” or “busy work” assignments. 8. Maintain consistency and know that mentoring takes time. Commit to regular, frequent, productive meetings over time. 9. Don’t forget to mentor leaders. Then give them opportunities to practice new skills. 10. Provide an “out” for mentoring relationships that do not work. Acknowledge and build in face-saving protocols for relationships that don’t work.
  22. 22. Resources: Mentorship Guide How to Get the Most Out of a Mentoring Relationship Download your complimentary mentorship guide: http://bit.ly/MentorshipGuidePDF
  23. 23. Thank you. Plankcenter.ua.edu @PlankCenterPR