Trish Skram’s Blog

All things PR, new media and communications! Oh, and a little of my own random thoughts!


Hard copy resumes. Cover letters. Online database applications. We’ve all created them. Updated them. Managed them. But are they still relevant in today’s job market?

In my seven years in the job market, I’ve always monitored branding trends. What I’ve realized in today’s brutal career landscape, just having a resume and cover letter is not enough. In fact, having an online presence is not enough. You have to maintain it. If you keep these three ideas in mind, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your personal branding objectives.

LinkedIn will be the modern resume
Traditional resumes will not fit into job market in the future. My advice: Forget your Word document resume and start building your online presence so that recruiters can find you. Down the road, companies won’t ask for your resume; they will ask for your website URL.

Your online influence will put you at the top of the pile
Ten years ago, if you had hard skills for the job, that was enough to land the job. As the market became more competitive, companies started looking for soft skills, like presentation, writing, organization and leadership skills. Today, you need to have hard skills, soft skills and online influence. In communications, you could be hired based on your Klout score, Twitter followers or who RTs you.

Your personal brand and professional brand will unite
Think about how many times YOU login to check your Facebook. Most of you reading this probably check a handful of times. When you house your ideas online, your actions can affect the way people around you treat you, in and out of the workplace. Like I’ve always said, everything you publish, and whatever is said about you online could likely be there for a lifetime.

Also, do you agree that HR headhunters are doing online background checks on job applicants? You betcha! Business leaders and employers are already Googling applicants. I predict most companies will use the Internet to verify candidates. If you can’t be found online, it may show you aren’t as valuable to employers as other candidates. Like I’ve been saying for years, I advise everyone to build a personal website and manage your reputation before other people do it for you.

My point to all of this? Take these trends seriously when moving forward in your career. The sooner you build your brand and take advantage of new technologies, the more prepared you will be for a successful future!

What would you add? Join the conversation.

Note: This is an adaptation of written works and ideas of Dan Schawbel and Sarah Evans.

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Posted: January 14, 2011

I always enjoy this time of year. Not just because it’s the holidays but it also marks the month of my annual review. Some people cringe. I, on the other hand, look forward to it. To me, it’s a reflection of goals, aspirations, accomplishments and hard-earned devotion of your career. In fact, I do this personally. Ron and I will sit down (usually with a glass of wine), talk about our past year, discuss what we liked, disliked and chat about what’s ahead. Whether it’s a cooking class we want to take, investment idea we hope to build or project we want to accomplish at work, it always seems to come together if we spend the time to document it and revisit. Many think it’s silly.

If you work for a business and/or organization, you probably have an annual evaluation of some sort. Writing solid job performance goals can help you be successful in your career. It certainly has helped me. You must, of course, work toward meeting the goals and, when you do meet them, update your goals or write new goals to continue moving ahead in your career. Goals that are written well are focused, influential, realistic and measurable; these are what I call FIRM goals. Whether you’re writing  goals personally or for work, keep these helpful tips in mind:

Goals are meant to help motivate, not demoralize. So, when you’re writing your goals, be ambitious but realistic.

Start each goal with an action verb, a word that describes an activity (e.g., produce, sell, improve, encourage and contact).

Use a standard of measurement. Maybe it’s the PR gal in me. Not sure. These words were drilled in my head as a young communications student. Make your goals measurable but realistic. Provide an end date or time so that you’ll know when your job performance goals are met. Try NOT to use the word “success” when writing job performance goals. It’s a great word but it’s not measurable. It’s too vague. Instead, use words that define success for you in a specific area. For example, a goal to “become a better sales person” is not a measurable goal. A better, more attainable goal would be “to increase my individual sales by at least 5% by 2012.”

Keep your goals relevant to your job (or life) by understanding the goals of your department and the company as a whole. Your job performance goals should relate directly to your departmental (or organization) goals, which, in turn, support company-wide goals.

Find out how your job performance goals fit into your performance appraisal process. Your performance may be more easily evaluated if it involves determining how well you achieve your previously set goals.

Hope this helps you. Any tips or ideas that work for you? Please share and join the conversation.

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Nervous Wreck

As a PR person working for a large company (and hospital), the famous PR crisis phrase, “Tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth” have never really hit home for me yet. I’m lucky so far– I’ve never had to handle a disaster while working in the field (god forbid). I’ve have, however, dealt with minor crises. Truth is, no organization is far from a PR disaster. A company’s brand reputation can be compromised or seriously damaged in a split second. It’s how you manage the crisis and how you disseminate important information that helps save you from a PR nightmare.

I reflect and evaluate national PR disasters all the time. You have to, especially if you’re not experienced. I think to myself: Did they have a documented crisis management plan? Did they review it in advance? How effective did they disseminate information? Did they seem to have a public information officer (PIO) or joint information system (JIS) organized in advance?

Crisis management is so important to my employer and myself that my boss and I became certified in advanced emergency management by the State of Wisconsin in February. If you’re in public relations, studying to be in public relations or have some sort of role in communications for your company, here are a few tips that I learned in training that can help you get started.

Don’t wait. Many organizations only get their crisis plans underway once a disaster has struck. Believe me, it happens more than you think. Instead, brainstorm possible scenarios or types of disasters that could happen, and start planning for them. In fact, it can be a positive process as you bring together key people to share ideas and examine scenarios.

Develop a communications plan. A swarm of media attention may snag you within minutes of news breaking. Also, think about how you will get information out to staff, supporters, investors and customers. I remember my crisis trainer (and firefighter) reiterating to trainees to get our side of the story out to customers and staff as soon as you can (if not first.) Internal communication is just as important as communication to the public. A communications plan involves identifying a spokesperson, developing press statements, setting up phone lines and finding the most appropriate place to hold press conference(s). I’ll write about this topic next week.

Be prepared to speak to the media. Even if you can’t say much because your lawyer is concerned about liability, plan to say what you can as soon as you can. Make sure your messages show concern, compassion, tell the facts and always tell the truth. That doesn’t mean you have to tell everything, but never, never lie.

Provide media training for senior management and spokespersons. Train before a disaster strikes. A lot of crisis management teams make it a regular part of employee training. The key is to do it regularly so that new people are always trained and those that are already trained, don’t become state. Realize that crises come in all forms. This can be anything from a legal dispute to customer dissatisfaction posted on Facebook. Every crisis requires slightly different responses. Brainstorm and prepare for as many as you can.

OK, PR people. I know you have stories or tips on how to handle crisis situations. Join the discussion and add a comment.

Photo courtesy of

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I was gandering around on Facebook this morning and found this cool application on my friend’s page that allows you to compile your Facebook updates over the course of the year in one collage. It’s called My Year in Status. I don’t usually play with these apps, but I thought this one was fun.


Do I overshare. Some would say yes. I say no. My question: What do our status updates say about us? Are we sharing too much, too little? Are we providing value to our communities? What does yours say about you? Can this be an evaluation tool perhaps? Share below.

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The results are in and they are remarkable. My fitness buddy, Amy, and I took the Beachbody Insanity® Workout challenge. I’m proud to say we finished in one piece. For those of you who don’t know, the Insanity Workout is the most intense workout system currently on the market. Which is what caught your interest in the first place. This highly intense system is designed to get you real results real fast—but (like everything else) you have to put forth the effort.

Chest 32.75 31.75
Waist 27.75 26.5
Hips 38.5 36.5
Arm 11.5 11.0
Thigh 22 20.5
Calf 13.5 13.5
Weight 136 129
Body Fat 29.1% 25.5%

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In honor (and reflection) of my career and passion as a public relations/communications professional, I bring you 14 honest truths of a PR gal working in Janesville. This is a repeat post from my blog at I received so much feedback on Friday and through the weekend, that I found it only appropriate to share with you. Enjoy!

I spend more time on my iPhone than I do of my family.

Underestimate the power of backing-up work.

My fingers are sometimes ink-stained from paging through clippings (yes, I still clip.)

Blogging has become just as important as eating.

I am frequently asked if I know all of my friends on Facebook, and, for the most part, I can honestly say that I do.

I ask my boyfriend to “send me a meeting planner” when talking about weekend plans.

I evaluate TV ads and fantasize about meeting the creative director of the ETrade commercials.

I freak out when I don’t have access to the Internet.

I proofread my Facebook updates.

Twitter is my main source for breaking news.

I have disclaimers on all of my personal and professional social media sites.

My phone (and computer) constantly locks up because the memory is dedicated to the hundreds of social networking apps running.

I have so many usernames and passwords that I lose track.

I get excited about participating in alpha and beta testing of any new application or software service.

These are brutal, I know. Truth is, it felt great to put it out there like this. Many of you are in the same boat. What would you add? Join the conversation!

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It’s official. I’m an athlete! Of course, that doesn’t mean that I broke any records or medaled in my age group. It does, however, mean that I can run a half marathon and I did! I had three goals for this challenge: keep a good solid pace with no stopping, complete in 2.35 hours and finish with a smile. Nothing else mattered. August 1 marked the big day—over 25,000 runners stepped up to the line to complete Chicago’s Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon benefiting the American Cancer Society. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day—skies were sunny and, even with a chill in the morning air, the temps were perfect for a long run.

The starting line: It was early. When you plan to run 13.1 miles, you don’t want to risk over exhaustion. The early morning weather was perfect. We got to our corral at 5:30 am and at around 7 we were off. Over 25,000 runners participated this year. I’d never been in such a large run. Do we look focused?



Mile 5: We felt good. I was comfortable and Sarah and I were having a great time listening to the bands and people watching. We took advantage of every water station and slowed down when we needed to. The atmosphere was just remarkable. Our support group (boyfriends and fiancés) was waiting at the 5-mile mark, cheering and applauding. It felt so good to see their smiling, proud faces.












Mile 10: This was the mile that was really tough. This is where you (the runner) switch from running with your training in mind, to running with your heart. It started to become a mental challenge for me. My body ached. My hips were sore. I pushed though it. We never walked. We pressed on.

The Finish Line: I’m really sore in this picture but you’d never guess. We all were sore and tired, but it was important for us to finish strong. It was an exhilarating feeling to hear the crowd as we neared the end. The last mile was the toughest mile of my life. I kept trying to make myself pick it up, but my legs were dead. My goal was two hours and 35 minutes, and I finished just 10 minutes shy (bathroom breaks and sore legs were the culprit.) Our smiles were a bit tired at the end, but we were proud!


A special thanks to my running team: Amy C., Robin, Sarah, Barb, Andrea, Abby and Janet. I couldn’t have done this without you. A shout out to Amy B. (our trainer) whose motivation and encouragement was what helped me maintain endurance and focus. You’re tough–but it’s worth it.

To be honest, I’m not sure if can see myself doing another 13-mile distance run again. I know what to expect now and have ideas on how I could improve my training. Maybe I will down the road. Truth is—I don’t consider myself a runner.

So, what’s next for me? Well, something even more challenging (in my eyes) … Beach Body’s INSANITY®. Yes, my friends, I’m taking the Insanity 60-day challenge starting the week after Labor Day weekend. I’m looking to shed off more fat while maintaining muscle mass, strength and endurance. Stay tuned for the journey updates. I’m sure it will be tough.

I hope our journey has inspired you to set a fitness goal. No matter how long or short the journey, the feeling at the finish line is unreal!

Yesterday I was asked by a local business professional to describe what makes me unique from my competition … in only a few words. Interesting, right? I think I squandered a bit. Bummer. Here’s the thing, the question wasn’t referenced to my employer, it was meant to me. What makes me different than other business professionals in the area?

I was in a “relationship building” meeting with one of the local businesses that I keep in touch with from time-to-time about their membership with Forward Janesville Inc., Janesville’s chamber of commerce. The meeting was to discuss membership discounts, events, community initiatives and opportunities. It ended up as a personal interview about myself. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind talking about my company or myself when the time is right. I expect that, given my profession. But I was intrigued with the question, mainly because I had never really thought about that before.

As communicators, we know how important it is to have an “elevator pitch” and to be able to explain what it is that we do for a living. I do believe it’s important to be able to describe what we (or our business) can bring to the table in a clear, concise way. I just didn’t realize I’d ever be asked in only a few words. I have prepared myself for next time. Thing is, my mentor (and teacher) in college encouraged us to do just this in an assignment. I wish I had kept that paper. I’m sure it’s on a flash drive somewhere. It would be interesting to see what I said. Have those words changed? Not sure.

So how do you come up with just a few words? I took some time to look back through my recent LinkedIn recommendations, emails and “feel good” files and looked for common themes. If you don’t have recommendations or testimonials, you could get feedback by asking people you work with for just one word to describe you.

I came up with my few words to describe me: enthusiastic, creative, leader, motivator. Have you ever pondered this? Who are you, in just a few words? Share below.

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photoPictured above: Me and Amy at the Jingle Bell 5K in December 2009.

About 15 months ago, my friend Amy and I, were running the trail with co-workers one hot, summer day. As we ran, our group leader, ran the trail just floating along. Soft on her feet. She talked with no hesitation, without exhaustion. Terry stepped ever so lightly, as though she were running over glass. I marveled at her movements. I remember feeling so jealous of her effortless endurance and pace. I turned to Amy. “How does she do it?” I puffed. (We were only a few miles in.) She smiled: “She trains every week. It takes time. You’ll see, we’ll get there, too.”

I don’t usually do this. I don’t use my blog to write about too many personal things but it’s been so heavy on my mind and in each and every little thing that I do that I found it impossible to suppress. As many of you know, I’m training for a half marathon in August. As I got my last two training schedules from my trainer today, I couldn’t help but ponder over the fact that it’s already been five months. I’ve been training 6 days a week, one, sometimes two hours a day, preparing my body to endure a two-hour race and it’s almost actually here. I started working out a few years ago, just to live healthier and ended up running a few 5Ks. Now, 7 pounds lighter, a few inches thinner and running more than 10 miles per week, I realize what my journey has become. My journey to live healthier has turned into a true testament of my mental and physical capabilities. I’m so proud to say, I’M REALLY RUNNING THIS THING.

I now run more than I did 15 months ago. I owe a lot of that motivation to Amy and my co-workers. Without them, especially Amy, I wouldn’t be as disciplined as I am. We’re running 2-3 times per week. We’re making time for cross training in between, like group strength and Turbo Kick, which has increased our endurance and speed. It’s really amazing to see how far we’ve come.

It’s been tough. Between trying to fight fatigue, cramps, blisters, dehydration, exhaustion (at times) or that late night ice cream bar, I still go back at it, rarely missing a class or training session. My eating habits have completely changed. I guess you could say I’ve made exercise and healthy eating a regular habit. A habit that will never really go away. At least I hope.

But despite what I do or don’t do, I’ve stopped judging myself all the time. For those of you that know me, I get competitive at times. My goal is simple: Run 13.2 miles. Enjoy it. Savor it. Feel accomplished. Running is exhilarating. The more I train my body, the better I feel physically, mentally and emotionally. So for me, is well worth the aches and pains.

Wish me luck at the Chicago half marathon!

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The photo above is a snapshot of my “clippings file” in my office. No joke. I still clip.

Public relations and advertising are two very different fields that are many times confused for the same thing, very similar or just as effective as the other. We all know that. I’m not saying advertising is the wrong way to go. I highly suggest ad placement. A well-placed advertisement can bring exposure to a brand, business or event. Absolutely. However, good publicity or media relations campaign is a far more economical way to get a very different type of media exposure. I’m a “PR gal”—which way did you think I’d go? Here’s the thing: An ad is an ad and they work, but publicity is news. And news, in my opinion, is taken more seriously.

Here are seven reasons that publicity can prove to be more effective than an ad.

1. Publicity is free while advertising can be costly
2. A media article often times asserts more credibility than a paid ad
3.  Prestigious magazines, larger newspapers, TV, radio start to cover you over time
4. You’re offered a column in a magazine or paper for your (or company’s) expertise
5. You establish yourself apart from your competitors who don’t get publicity
6. Prospects, target markets and customers recognize your brand (“I saw the article in…”)
7. Most importantly, more people pay attention to your message

That’s my list. What would you add? Write your reasons below.

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