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  • Writer's pictureYolanda King Stephen

When the Budget Crunch Hits Home

Quick tips to help boost your work presence

If you haven’t seen The Devil Wears Prada, go watch it before and after you finish reading this blog.

For those who did see the movie, do you remember when the title character, Miranda, couldn’t remember the name of an important person in the room who was approaching her at an exclusive party? Then, in a moment of suspenseful pause, Andy – the aspiring journalist turned fashionista – stepped in to save the day by responding with the name? That was a turning point for Andy and we just fell in love with her because we knew she had the talent, she just had to show it.

How can you provide that type of quick-witted and indispensable service during this pandemic? Yes, public relations is an art and there is a science behind it. Not everyone can perform well under pressure, with never-ending deadlines, while writing perfectly succinct posts, speeches, and perfected presentations. But we do it. And we do it well.

Unfortunately, others may not see the value when the budget starts to crunch and the numbers start to close in closer to the communications function.

Here are a few ways to increase your sustainability for any Miranda that may come your way: 1. Stay focused on objectives and goals: While it’s easy to succumb to every little request, find a way to stay focused on the true objective or goal of the organization.

2. Be open to change: Just in case the objectives, goals, or processes change, be open to that change. We live in a nimble society where we have to be prepared to provide solutions at a moment’s notice. Show your resilience and flexibility by pivoting like Andy did when her fashion sense was called into question. Get the bangs and move forward!

3. Show the need: Everything communicates but not everyone can be an effective communicator as it pertains to the myriad functions of the job. We have citizen journalists and rogue (as opposed to maverick) business owners, nee Superintendents, who feel that anyone can do communications or public relations. Not true. Tweets are not an effective stand-alone communications method; neither is posting something on social media, taking a photo and placing it in a newsletter, or creating a video for each principal for Principal's Appreciation Month.

4. Measure your work: This is not a checklist of items, but rather a checklist of how your performance impacts the business. Share it with your managers, supervisors, or superintendent.

5. Be visible even when working from home: We all picked the short end of the stick with this one! Working what seems like 24-7 doesn’t require you to be in a series of Zoom meetings all day long. What it will require is more checking-in and leaning-in. When you are on a call, make the most of the conversation. Contribute actionable items and data. And don't be afraid to pick up the phone every now-and-then to work through a project. It gives a greater connection.

6. Manage up and down: Communicate department needs and happenings up to your Miranda as well as down to your Andy's. Notify them when you have to be away from your desk for a doctor’s appointment or if the direction of a project has shifted.

7. Solve problems: Communications is a function that helps bolster other line items in the organization; finance, curriculum and instruction, classroom instruction, etc. Find a way to help solve problems that are on the horizon or are already in crisis mode.

8. Crash the party: Who doesn’t like a party crasher? Susan Brott, APR lead a session at an annual conference I attended in Washington, D.C. She said if you want to know what’s going on then sometimes you have to crash the party! Don’t ask if you need to be there, just say you feel you can provide some insight or solution and GO!

9. Take the road less traveled: Just like Andy decided to take a job in the fashion industry before finding her true journalistic calling at a newspaper, we can take the road less traveled to enhance skills that need sharpening. For example, update your online presence so it reflects you and your current skill set, take an Improv class to help you think on your feet with reporters or sign up for a business writing class at the local university. It can enhance writing ideas that become stale after a few years. Or go obtain your Accreditation in Public Relations!

While no organization can guarantee continued employability, it's best to be prepared to put your best fashionista pump forward and boost your work presence.

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