Reblog: Twitter Joins Team “Do Not Track”

May 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM (Happenings, work) (, , , , , )

This post originally appeared on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk.

This week, micro-blogging site Twitter announced support for Mozilla’s “Do Not Track (DNT)” feature. DNT, available to Firefox users (other major browsers such as Safari and IE offer similar capabilities), gives web-surfers the chance to opt out of sharing cookies with participating sites. Frequently, these cookies are shared with advertisers, who use the information to target specific demographics, based on their web history. For instance, there’s a Royal Caribbean advert atop my Gmail inbox, likely as a result of email correspondence about my upcoming vacation. They’re also used to customize browsing online, based on your cached preferences – hence why weather.com generally knows where I am before I even have to search the site.

While the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t officially decided whether or not it’s supporting DTC, it did have some nice things to say about Twitter’s decision:

“Twitter’s use of ‘Do Not Track’ in its new feature is good news for Twitter users and a meaningful step toward broader adoption of a strong ‘Do Not Track’ system that will give consumers simple, comprehensive control over online tracking,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Hopefully other companies will follow suit.”

Twitter was quick to praise the FTC’s comments.

“We applaud the FTC’s leadership on ‘Do Not Track,’ and are excited to provide the benefits of ‘Do Not Track,’” Robert Weeks, a Twitter spokesman, told CNN (via CNN).

No surprise that this announcement is making waves across the internet, given that Twitter is moving against other online moguls such as Facebook and (somewhat less so) Google, who are more renowned for ruffling more than a few feathers with privacy updates.

Mashable points out that there’s a trade-off when it comes to DNT:

Do you prefer ease of use and customized user suggestions or more anonymity from web services? According to Mozilla, 8.6% of desktop Firefox users and 19% of mobile users are choosing the latter, with nearly half of those users reporting they feel more safe surfing the Internet with Do Not Track enabled.

In Twitter’s case, the article continues, it’s looking like DNT will only affect the suggested accounts to follow. Given that I never really understand the site’s recommendations, I wasted no time in opting in for a small slice of web privacy.

Thoughts on Twitter’s support for Do Not Track? Is it much of a change? Do you care? Give us a shout in the comments.

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If This Is Your Thank You Note, Don’t Bother Sending

December 29, 2011 at 6:49 PM (work) (, , , , )

I was digging through some old work Emails and found a thank you note from an entry-level candidate I interviewed a few months back. Give it a read and tell me the exact same note (with a few strategic substitutions, I imagine) has not gone to every other person who has ever interviewed her, ever:

Hi Brittany,

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. My interest in Racepoint Group is certainly solidified, and I am came away from our meeting knowing that the company would provide a great environment for me to utilize my skill sets while gaining a tremendous amount of experience. You provided me with a much better understanding about the agency, and I enjoyed learning more about the primary responsibilities of an account coordinator position. 

Best Regards,

[Named withheld out of pity]

Memorable? No. Cliché? Oh, yes. Terms I never want to see violating my inbox include “I came away” (or “I am came away,” whatever that means), “utilize” (ugh, it just sounds so dirty), and “best regards.”

At least my name was spelled properly, as was my company’s name, and I received the note within a reasonable amount of time following the interview (I received another thank-you for an unrelated interview more than a week after the fact, and it took me a while to pair a face with the name). However, neither spell check rectifies the fact that 1.) I have no idea what we talked about that may have been of interest, 2.) there wasn’t so much as a question or call to action that might encourage me to respond, and 3.) she actually sent the exact same Email to at least two more of my colleagues (we literally compared notes) – really?

We all know how lousy the job market is. Generic materials (résumé, cover letter, thank you note, et al.) aren’t going to catch anyone’s attention, and I think in PR, being genuine and memorable in your own unique – and workplace appropriate, I suppose – fashion is crucial in getting the vote of approval from your interviewers. I may be screening you for what I think is necessary to thrive in an agency environment, but more importantly, when I’m having a conversation with you, I’m deciding if you’re someone worthy of being called “my colleague.” Are you someone I can work with every day – not only professionally, but socially? Hint: a thank you note like the one posted above did not come from that someone.

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Reblog: Honor Your Civic Duty and Vote… for SXSW ’12

August 31, 2011 at 2:29 PM (Events, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I originally published this on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk. It’s a great event though and I have a few clients with hats in the ring, so I’m re-blogging it here. Voting closes in a couple days, so get crackin’!

It’s that time of year, again: where the SXSW Interactive 2012 PanelPicker is open for public voting! For those of you who are already versed in the innovative, educational treasure trove that is SXSW, I don’t think I need to expound any further. For the rest of you, read on:

“The 19th annual SXSW® Interactive Festival challenges you to envision the future of innovative technology. Featuring five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging media and scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, SXSW Interactive offers an unbeatable line up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, digital projects, wireless applications, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview of what is unfolding in the world of creative technology.” – SXSWi’s “About” page

One of the really cool parts about SXSW (you know, aside from all that exposure to cutting edge media and tech mentioned above) is the crowd-sourced component of the event’s sessions via the site’s PanelPicker. Last week, public voting opened for over 3600 very strong speaking proposals. Public voting will factor into the selection of a privileged 500 or so for the show itself. That’s right: YOU have a say in who makes it to the agenda. What better incentive to attend is there? Voting ends 11:59 p.m. CDT on Friday, September 2, so hurry up and add your two cents.

Of note, your friends at Racepoint Group and Digital Influence Group have thrown a couple hats into the ring. Check out the sessions below and if you like them, feel free to vote (and encourage your friends to do so, too).

Global Connection: Smartphones Need Green Servers
Speaker(s) from: ARM
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/8691

Drugs, Milk & Money: Social & Regulated Industries
Speaker(s) from: Digital Influence Group
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/9741

Facilitating Communication Between Devices
Speaker(s) from: Marvell
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/10251

Brands, Social Intelligence, Consumer Revolution
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/9598

2000 “Likes” Won’t Save Your Job: Real Social ROI
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/10548

Are you ready for Semantic Analysis?
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/10537

Brands with Benefits: Hooking up With Good Deals
Speaker(s) from: Aegis Media, BuyWithMe, Clovr Media, Modiv Media
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/11314

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In the Event You Are Sending Me a Résumé . . .

August 4, 2011 at 1:57 AM (Musings, work) (, , , , , )

It’s been over 100 days since I blogged. I know, because LinkedIn reminds me every time I log in. It’s frustrating, and a little embarrassing. Given how many hours I spend looking at a computer daily, it’s easy for me to justify not wanting to spend any more time at one once I get home, but that’s no reason to be unable to post something at least once a week. So let’s try getting back to that again, shall we?

In addition to being uber busy, work at Racepoint has been great. Lots of media, writing, tweeting – you know, all that stuff that falls into an agency job description. What I didn’t expect was all the job inquiries I’ve been fielding. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I shout to BU that we’re hiring, I fully anticipate a handful of candidates recommended by my qualified friends over there. But now, there’s a new breed of job candidate I’m seeing: random internet people.</ominousmusic>

As a PR agency, we’re hiring about every 15 minutes or so, and what better way to fish for candidates who need to be social media-savvy than by fishing through social media? That’s right, I tweet job openings. Shamelessly. And often. The upside is that I get a lot of responses. The bad news is that those responses are not filtered. Whereas I knew my BU friends would never send me a lemon, on Twitter, I have no idea who’s going to be in each box of job-seeking chocolates. While there’s really no point in going into details on each #fail, I figured I’d share a couple things I’ve noticed on this short journey as an amateur recruiter. In the event you are sending me a résumé . . .

Spell my name right. Really. You want me to bother sending your information to the person who is actually responsible for calling you? Make sure you don’t mistake me for a Britney. Or Britany. Or Britanny. Or . . . oh, God. My fingers are starting to bleed just typing these.

That goes for my company, too. Do a Google search on my company. We exist. Racepoint Group. Not Race Point Group. Or The Racepoint Group. Crap, there go my fingers again.

Keep your resume to one page – and current. Unless you are detailing how you changed Poland’s opinion of Hitler through social media efforts – and, in that case, I’m not sure I want to work with you – there is no reason why your résumé should spill over a page. I have no problem reading 10pt font, and I’m pretty sure most HR folks accept that, too. Still running out of room? Maybe you should cut “Starbucks barista.” Unless you’re applying for a corporate Starbucks position, I suppose. Also, if you’re sending me a résumé in August 2011, I had better not see “Graduation expected May 2011.”

Follow directions. I hate cover letters. I sent out so many generic ones when I was job-hunting, but my best responses came from people to whom I’d just sent short, unrehearsed notes. Ability to smell fear? This is an example of a fun fact. Another one might be that you're an expert no-handed cartwheeler. Or that you like ducks.We all learned how to write a form cover letter in college, so we can all pick them out. You’re fooling no one. Thus, rather than asking random job candidates to send me their résumé and a letter of intent, I ask for the résumé and some fun facts. I don’t need a whole paragraph about how you spent a year in Zimbabwe building huts, but a bullet point would be good to know. I can always ask you about it later. Don’t have any fun facts to share? That’s okay, I guess (although you may want to seek work in a less fun environment), but please don’t ignore my request with a canned cover letter. If you do, I can assure you that I will not be sending you along to our recruiter.

I know, you learned about this at every single career panel you ever attended, but somehow, I still see these errors. I can only imagine what full-time recruiters receive, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. What are some of the doozies you’ve encountered on the receiving end of job inquiries? Go ahead, make me feel like I shouldn’t be whining.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Virtual Insanity,” Jamiroquai
“September,” Earth, Wind & Fire
“Dancing Machine,” Jackson 5
“Canned Heat,” Jamiroquai
“Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” Modjo
“When I Get You Alone,” Robin Thicke

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Something’s Off, Here

June 13, 2010 at 9:06 PM (Happenings, Musings, work) (, )

Last week, I had a job interview.  And enjoyed it.

. . . Right?

How on earth does that work out?  Aren’t interviews supposed to cut into the depths of your soul to expose your every weakness and leave you wondering why you should be considered for any kind of employment at all?  I don’t get it.  It wasn’t even a small-scale place.  This company is global, and yet I wasn’t quaking in my Nine Wests.

Maybe it’s a sign that we’re a perfect fit.  But still, an enjoyable interview??  My mind is blown.

Today’s Tunes
Only By the Night, Kings of Leon

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And I Thought I Was Done With Exams

April 27, 2010 at 2:51 AM (Musings, work) (, , )

Here I am, approaching my one-year anniversary of being out of school, and I’m studying – nay, cramming even – and it’s for a test more nerve-wracking than any exam I ever encountered while in school.

The job interview.interrogation chair no pressure

I’ve given presentations in school. I’ve sung in public.  I’ve dealt with crises during ballroom competitions with my name attached to them.  I’ve driven with my mom in the car.  I’ve wrestled with rabid boars (okay, maybe they weren’t necessarily rabid).  Nothing has made my palms sweat as much as convincing someone with the power to provide me with a salary to add me to payroll.

It’s not that I’m not a qualified candidate – or if I’m not, it’s not that I can’t learn the skills to be that candidate quickly enough.  It’s not even so much that there may be better qualified candidates.  It’s the quite feasible possibility that the interviewer is going to ask me something I can’t even pretend to answer.

“Oh, Brittany,” you try to assure me, “how likely do you think that actually is?”

Likely enough that it’s happened to me before, that’s how likely.  And to call it a humbling experience is an understatement.

Not too terribly long ago, I applied for a crisis management position.  I thought I had a pretty solid handle of things: I was familiar with the agency, I knew someone who worked there, and I seemed to be saying the right things more often than not . . . until the Toyota question.

For those of you who are like I once was and know absolutely nothing about the Toyota crisis, the company had several vehicle malfunctions, some of which were responsible for some fatal outcomes.  Aside from having to deal with a massive recall, Toyota failed to report crucial imperfections immediately to the public, and has seemingly only offered updates grudgingly.  In addition to bad products, Toyota also lagged in customer service during the recall.  A friend of mine told me about the gauntlet she ran through when her Toyota lease was one of the models recalled.  She wrapped up her tale by swearing she’d never buy or lease from Toyota again.

Anyhoo, back to my story that has since scarred me.  I was three people into my interview when my interviewer asked me point-blank, “So what are your thoughts on the Toyota crisis?”

Insert cricket noises and the eyes of a deer caught in headlights.  I was done.  She could have held a gun to my head and asked the same question and I wouldn’t be blogging right now.  There was nothing I could do but apologise and tell her that I knew nothing of it.  It was my own fault for not studying the industry as a whole as well as the agency itself.  While I don’t think my Toyota ignorance is what cost me the position, I’m sure it didn’t save me anything.

Tomorrow I’m interviewing for a much broader position, and I know that I can’t possibly learn everything taking place in the industry at current.  However, I’m covering as much as I can and keeping my fingers crossed with my chin up.

Tonight’s Tunes
Abbey Road, The Beatles

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Today I Learned . . .

March 23, 2010 at 1:22 AM (Musings, work) (, , )

Okay, I didn’t so much learn it today as put it into action today, but anyhoo:

“Today I [finally acknowledged] that you don’t have to be employed to continue building your résumé.”  I’m doing a little freelance PR work for a friend.  Hopefully it will be wildly successful and I can brag about it later, but in the meantime I’m just stoked to be getting some experience.

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Degrees of Separation on LinkedIn

February 23, 2010 at 6:55 PM (work) (, , , )

One of my friends who is less versed in the ways of social networking (read: knows absolutely nothing whatsoever about it) has recently joined the ranks of the many who are looking for employment (yours, truly included . . . anyone looking for a PR practitioner?).  We were chatting via E-mail and I mentioned that I was doing some research for BU PRSSA’s PR Advanced, taking place this Saturday (more to come in my next post on that one) with LinkedIn, when it hit me that I may as well have been telling her about the nuances of the Chinese language.  I decided to send her a quick E-mail explaining the degrees of separation and how they could benefit her.  About six seconds later, I decided to include the relevant portions on my blog for other lay people who may be interested in exploring LinkedIn.  Check it out below.

LinkedIn In iconStarting out with LinkedIn to see who I know.  Time for your first factoid about the uses of LinkedIn!

LI sorts users in your network by degrees of separation: people with whom you are friends, colleagues or what-have-you are in your 1st degree network.  People to whom you are not directly connected, but your friends are, are in your 2nd degree network.  People your 2nd degree contacts know are in your 3rd degree network.  Outside of that, users are considered outside of your network.

Use the people in your 1st degree network to “get introduced” to people in 2nd degree networks.  I personally would try to do that outside of the site, but if your contacts are geographically inconvenient, then LI may be the way to go.  I find it’s a great way to see who you do and might know all in one place, though.  Imagine the fanciest Rolodex, ever.

Questions?

It’s an incredibly basic explanation, but for the LinkedIgnoramus, it gets the point across, no?  That said, my friend just responded to that E-mail, saying that is was so helpful that she printed it out and put it in her contacts file.  Boo-yah.

Today’s Tunes
“Drink Whiskey And Shut Up,” Brian Setzer
“That Old Black Magic,” Tom Jones
“You and Me,” Lifehouse
“Angry,” Matchbox Twenty

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Learning to Network

February 10, 2010 at 9:53 PM (Happenings, Musings, work) (, , , )

Yesterday morning, I attended a job seeker/ networking breakfast and panel hosted by the Publicity Club of New England, or the PubClub.  Like every other PubClub panel I’ve attended, the participants were experienced and thought-provoking:

Joe Burke, Text 100Pubclub Publicity Club of New England
Priscilla Claman, Career Strategies Incorporated
Ted Chaloner, Chaloner Associates
Joe Pothier, The Boston Beer Company
Jodi R. R. Smith, Mannersmith
Liz Woodhouse, Schwartz Communications
Kirk Hazlett, Curry College (moderator)

PR, HR and etiquette specialists alike all had valuable points to make regarding résumés, networking, social media and informational views: some dos, don’ts, and of course some anecdotal gems.  I attend such functions to learn, and what better way to learn than to share with others?

For instance, when it comes to events, networking or otherwise, be on time (or close, at least).  Not only is it courteous, but I’m sure I also would have enjoyed breakfast.  Tardiness also makes you memorable in a perhaps less desirable way.

There is no one job market, according to Ms. Priscilla Claman.  Rather, there are several markets, characterised by industry, geography, expertise, and so on.  If you’re targeting one gargantuan mass of a job market, you’re going to a) waste a lot of effort and b) not learn anything of much use anyway.  Find your market(s), and focus accordingly.  Not sure where or what your markets are?  Contact your friendly PubClub or PRSA representatives!  Chances are they’ll be happy to help, and they may even be able to offer a lead.

Gone is the stigma of the sixth-month gap on the résumé, Jodi R. R. Smith assured attendees . . . but that doesn’t mean interviewers won’t be able to figure out what you were or were not doing with that time.  Given the economy of the moment, it’s understandable that not everyone is employed sans gaps.  That said, when unemployed, don’t spend the downtime sitting on your posterior.  When a recruiter asks you what you’ve been doing with your time off, have a constructive answer: traveling, learning web design and HTML, volunteering, something.

LinkedIn logoUnderestimate not the power of LinkedIn, quoth Yoda (okay, he wasn’t there, but all panelists conceded on this one).  Once you’ve created your network with contacts in the real world, it’s your job to stay in touch with those contacts. LinkedIn makes this task incredibly easy.  Not only can you just shoot a quick E-mail via the site, you can also use your contacts to find possible leads.  Remember, a referred candidate will likely get more notice than random résumé #22.  LinkedIn also allows you to link to your blog, Twitter page and website, so recruiters can research you quickly more efficiently (so keep everything clean!).

Be your own PR person in your search for a PR job (sorry non-PR kids, but feel free to read anyway!).  That was the wise advice of Joe Burke, particularly for those of us who are fresh out of university and don’t have a portfolio full of success stories to tout.  Make your search strategy your success story.  Are you searchable?  Are your promoting the right expertise to the right people?

While a lot more information was shared yesterday, I think those were some pretty significant points.  Want to learn more?  Keep an eye on the PubClub’s blog: as far as I know, someone will post on it soon!  Still intrigued?  The next PubClub event will take place on Tuesday, February 23: Social Media Case Studies.  Click the link, read up, sign up and stop by!

Today’s Tunes
“Gimme Some Lovin’,” The Spencer Davis Group
“Forever,” Chris Brown
“Levon,” Elton John
“Pa’Bailar,” Bajofondo
“Chambermaid Swing,” Parov Stelar
“Satellite,” Dave Matthews Band
“Ooh La La,” Goldfrapp
“Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” Moby
“That’s the Way of the World,” Earth, Wind & Fire
“Ain’t No Sunshine,” Bill Withers
“Milk,” Kings of Leon

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Today I Learned . . .

March 29, 2009 at 10:45 PM (Musings, work) ()

Today I learned that working for 20 hours over a course of two days on fewer than six hours of sleep is a bad idea (the things I do to prepare for paying rent in two months . . .).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take my second nap of the day.

Tonight’s Tune
“Don’t Ask Me Why,” Billy Joel

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