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Ahhh, August. The haboobs are rolling, the cicadas are chirping and fabulous networking groups are reconvening after the summer’s hiatus.

Such was the case for the PRSA Phoenix New Pros, who gathered in Cibo’s Carriage House last night. The topic of discussion: Climbing the Agency/Corporate Ladder: How to Get a Promotion and Ask for a Raise.

There to offer advice and answer New Pros’ questions were Alan Bunnell (manager of external communication and media relations Pinnacle West Capital Corp), Kendra Schultz (director of communications at Hermosa Inn and former HMAer), and Jan Bracamonte (owner of J. Lauren PR & Marketing). The conversation-style discussion touched on everything from annual reviews to calculating your value within a company.

Here is a brief summary of what was shared:

What is the best way to approach getting a promotion?


  • Have demonstrated evidence of success - map out what you have done for the organization, including contributing to the bottom line.
  • Take the emotion out of it - we all want more money.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for reviews aside from the annual review; have debriefings about how a project went and discuss status on performance. Ask for advice on improving during these check-ins.
  • Don't expect an answer right then, decisions can take weeks, may involve several people and HR in the process. But also remember to follow up.


  • Be prepared - know the economic status of your business and industry.
  • Prove yourself: Come in early, stay late, do things without being told.
  • If you see a way to improve, speak up when you have ideas; you will get noticed.


  • Know when promotions and raises happen - typically at your annual review.
  • Set up a meeting six months before your annual review to let the boss know what your goals are and where you see yourself in the company moving forward.
  • Start doing the job before you get the promotion or raise.
  • Don’t talk in generalities. Say I've done “xyz and here are the examples of that work.”


What are some of the ways you have improved your skills?


  • Look at the position you want and see what skills you don't already have and hone in on those.
  • If you have a skill that no one else has that may be of value to the company – like Photoshop or photography, let it be known. Make that a skill that sets you a part from your co-workers.
  • Start becoming that position by being that position, both in work and presentation. Dress professionally; wear appropriate attire for your clients.


  • Look at the people who admire and figure out what they do differently.
  • Ask to take on some of the work from the position you are seeking.
  • PR in general is about being a chameleon and adapting to the job.


  • You don’t suddenly have new skills when applying for a job - you are“applying” by doing your current job.
  • Know that only 15 percent of your job is hard skills - the rest are soft skills. You need to have emotional intelligence, know how to negotiate and understand your organization’s politics.
  • Look for a mentor who has been through those same stages as you, who has gone through the steps you want to go through. They can help position you.


What would you say the top “don’ts” are in when discussing a raise/promotion?


  • Don't compare to others.
  • Don’t reveal if you know others salary, but know your market value.
  • Never threaten with new job or plans to leave unless you are being 100 percent truthful and are prepared to leave.


  • Don’t gossip about looking elsewhere for a promotion. It is a small industry and you can burn bridges that was.
  • Don’t act entitled assuming it’s time for a raise or promotion.


  • Don’t compare. I want to hear about you, not what other people are doing.
  • Don’t come in unprepared.


How should you go about researching salary?


  • PRSA has ton of data that you can begin with.
  • Set a benchmark.
  • The best time to negotiate a salary is when you start a new job.


  • Talk to people in similar positions - you need friends to talk about ranges, here you can talk in generalities.


  • Know your specific market’s salary range. National data is broad and usually inflated, at least for Phoenix.


In addition to all their insight and wisdom, Alan wrote his Top 10 Recommendations to Getting Promoted in Your Career, which can be found on the PRSA Phoenix New Pros Facebook page.


Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.


  1. Raises should not be expected, they are awarded for a job well-done. And don’t necessarily have to come at annual review time. Excel at your job, take on more responsibility, be a valuable member of the team. And if a raise isn’t offered, then make a solid case with your supervisor about why you are deserving. Use examples of work that goes beyond what is expected of you. In many cases, there is room in the organization’s budget to offer salary increases.

  2. Kristin Heggli says:

    Lots of good tips! Especially to start doing some of the duties of the position you want, before you have it.

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