Speaker Nicole Paquette & Her Advice For Upcoming PR Professionals

Nicole Paquette is the real MVP. Or at least she is in non-profit PR.

After her graduation from Saginaw Valley State University, Nicole Paquette migrated over to Michigan’s west side to pursue job opportunities in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area in the public relations sector of non-profit, her passion. Her search led her to her current position as Communications Manager at The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. She now manages their social media, designs all print media, manages media coverage, plans events and so much more.

On Friday, GrandPR had the opportunity to host the event, Build Your Brand, Know Your Worth: Lessons From Non-Profit Communications, which featured an informative lecture given by Nicole. The event was put on to offer an opportunity to students involved in Grand Valley’s APR program, members of PRSSA and the general public to learn about personal & business branding and non-profit public relations.

Nicole presented “20 Lessons” that are vital to up-and-coming PR professionals, all of which were completely relevant to us at GrandPR and PRSSA. A few of these lessons stood out to me as an associate within GrandPR to better our current firm ventures, our firm’s future and on a personal level, myself.

 The first of these was Nicole’s lesson regarding your target audience. Know your audience and map them from the inside-out. Know who you’re communicating with so you’re not over or under communicating. Understanding whom you’re communicating with is key in drafting concise and appropriate e-mails when writing to a client. This applies to peers, coworkers and anyone else in the workplace as well.

Nicole then addressed the importance of never burning bridges, for you will need them in the future. Frustration and anger can often lead to unprofessional communication and uncomfortable office/client relationships. She mentioned that the resolving or addressing of these issues is imperative for you, the firm and your client and that you handle these situations professionally. An easy way to bring it up is to consider, how can we fix this together? What sacrifices can we make to make this relationship professional and bearable for the both of us? Furthermore, she advised that if you need to vent, vent to a trusted coworker or friend and do it verbally, for electronic venting can and will end badly.

Our fearless CEO, Daltyn Little, felt this one personally: Your president/CEO is your ultimate brand ambassador. Nicole stated, “Your CEO is a free walking billboard and is one of the best ways to build your brand.” A firm has values, ethics and personality that makes up a brand, which is then promoted and advertised by the actions and efforts of the firm’s faces. Who is a more prominent figure of GrandPR than our CEO?

In addition to the CEO, the rest of us have a duty to our brand as well. Have a story to tell and make sure your brand champions can tell it well. A firm’s story is another aspect of what makes up a brand. It is vital that associates within have a confident grasp of what the firm stands for and not only talks-the-talk but also walks-the-walk.

Ending, Nicole urged the importance of taking the time to find your passion because work isn’t work when you love your job. Earning the position as Communications Manager at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, Nicole was thrilled about the idea of landing a job in such a reputable non-profit.

“I love going to work every single day, I feel like I’m making a difference. Sure, I could make more money working in a corporate setting, but to my colleagues and I, the benefits of working in an environment where you can give back to your community are priceless”

                                                            -Nicole Paquette

In whatever lies next in our job endeavors, it is crucial to not feel stuck in a job that you dread going to every day. There is no reason that your passion should be left out of the equation regarding your job search. For Nicole, this passion was non-profit, but she mentioned that even if non-profit isn’t in your future, the world needs professionals in all sectors of public relations. The internal debate of which PR outlet to pursue should depend on what you prioritize as most important in your career, whether that be giving back, monetary compensation, creation, etc. Do what you love and love what you do.

Tyler Lehner, Account Associate | Tyler is a junior at Grand Valley State University studying Advertising/Public Relations and Marketing with a minor in Arabic Language. His public relations strengths include writing and design, which he maintains on his personal blog [tlehne.wordpress.com]. He is a proud ENFP and consumes more coffee than he should in a day. In the small amount of free time allowed, he keeps up on current events, studies foreign languages and writes.