And a New Chapter Begins

June 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM (Happenings, Musings) (, , )

Tomorrow, I start another – and hopefully my last – internship.  I’m cautiously optimistic: remember that strangely enjoyable interview I mentioned not too long ago?  It turns out that they really enjoyed it, too.

It’s a little strange to be starting another internship when I’ve been out of school for over a year, but I’m going in with a positive attitude.  While it will be one heckuva learning experience (and we can never stop learning, right?), both parties also understand that this lady is not going back to a college campus at the end of the summer.  Think test drive.  First impressions are telling, but not necessarily guarantees.  I’m the 16-year-old with the new driver’s permit.  They’re . . . hopefully not the Toyota.

That said, I couldn’t be more thrilled about my upcoming journey.  Wish me luck!

Today’s Tunes
“Dreaming of You,” The Coral
“Sex on Fire,” Kings of Leon
“Lollipop,” Mika
“Complicated,” Robin Thicke

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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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PubClub: Social Media Case Studies, Part II

February 28, 2010 at 10:04 PM (Events) (, , )

I realised that not only did I have to run out last night to #SoxUp, but my post was also getting a little long, so I figured I’d break the PubClub event into two posts.  Feel free to read up on the first half before checking out this post.

gather logoAfter Mr. Goodman’s case for Comcast, it was David Woodrow’s turn to step up to the plate.  He possibly had one of the best points of the evening: negative feedback is the best opportunity a brand has to step up.  In the real world (or on social media sites focusing on consumer products such as Gather, Inc.), everyone is not going to love you, your product or your brand.  People say not-so-nice things.  If the product is of any worth, chances are other consumers will fight down a bad review or two.  Alternatively, occasionally a brand does screw up and get called out on it.  The best course of action?  Not hiding behind wussy excuses, that’s certain.  Apologise sincerely, vow to make it up to the consumer and then deliver beyond expectations, perhaps?  Sounds like a good way to build stronger brand loyalty to me!

Kel & partners logoMeagan Ellis was the one panelist who was narrating from an agency perspective. “Us agency folks have all had them,” she began, “the client that is so uninteresting or small-scale that creating a Facebook fan page accomplishes nothing.”  Kel & Partners had a start-up that was, to put it politely, pretty boring.  Traditional media wasn’t interested in the product, and the Facebook fan page had maybe 50-some-odd members. Because the following for such a product didn’t exist, Kel & Partners had to create one. Through Twitter, the PR team was able to find people who would be open to such a product, follow them, engage them in conversations, and finally draw them to the brand’s own page.  After attracting enough attention via new media, Kel & Partners were able to use those hits to turn heads within traditional media, and today, the product receives countless hits.

kaspersky labFor Kaspersky Lab, jumping on the social media bandwagon involved a bit more hesitation: as an international company, staying consistent with community engagement across different cultures and timezones would require the efforts of more than one company representative.  Jennifer Jewett pointed out that these people couldn’t just be PR pros.  They had to be social media-savvy.  And eager.  In fact, the latter two qualities far outweighed the first.  Social media is a full-time gig when you’re doing it for a company, so you’d better know what you’re doing and have fun with it in the process.  Rather than dragging the corporate communications team into the Twitter ranks, the company stumbled across some employees from a diverse assortment of departments who were already tweeting across the Interwebs about goings-on with the business.  They realised that social media is restricted to no one.  Through using Twitter, one formerly unknown Kaspersky employee was suddenly being quoted in major publications because he was able to respond to public queries instantly.  And he enjoyed it.  Why torture one employee with new responsibilities when another one has already taken them on voluntarily?

Most of what I heard at the event was material I had learned in school.  However, it not only helps to be reminded every now and then, but it also strengthens the credibility of strategic social media usage when you see folks discussing the benefits in the real world.  PubClub, thanks again.

Today’s Tunes
The Fame, Lady Gaga
LP, Landon Pigg
Garden State, Various Artists

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PubClub: Social Media Case Studies, Part I

February 25, 2010 at 10:40 PM (Events) (, , , )

On Tuesday, the PubClub hosted yet another marvelous event: Social Media Case Studies.  Of course, yours truly took one look at event title and signed up immediately.  Once again, the panelists were all not only knowledgeable practitioners of social media, but delightful individuals.  Below are the participants.

Publicity club new england pubclub logoDavid Woodrow, Gather, Inc.
Jennifer Jewett, Kaspersky Lab Americas
Stacey Howe, New Balance
Meagan J. Ellis, Kel & Partners
Marc Goodman, Comcast
Dan Abdinoor, HubSpot (moderator)

While my last PubClub event keyed in on the benefits of LinkedIn as a networking tool, this one focused a bit more on Facebook and Twitter as complements to a marketing strategy.  Our lovely moderator Dan Abdinoor of HubSpot, an inbound marketing agency, opened with a Seth Godin quote:

Conversations among members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.

hubspot logoWhile nothing new for me (or other social media enthusiasts in the audience), the quote is still one of the best to summarise why marketers and PR practitioners should give a hoot about social media as a necessary accessory in our professional repertoires.  No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head demanding that they create a Twitter account . . . but if they do, reaching out to their target audiences will be a heck of a lot easier.  The better you know your targets, the more likely it will be to get them to listen to you.

More specific to Twitter, Dan offered a few pointers on maintaining a complete profile before turning the mic over to the panelists.

Complete your profile.  No one cares what your name is.  Okay, that’s totally not true, but if you’re trying to build a Twitter following, you better have more than just your name.  Where are you located? What do you do?  Do you have a life outside of what people pay you to do?  Sure, you only have 160 characters to sum yourself up, but once you get the hang of tweeting, it’s easy.  For instance, here’s what I have to say about myself on Twitter:

Public Relations BU Grad. Little and blonde. Occasionally witty. Enjoy beer, wine, food, music and dance. Available for hire.

Gets the point across, right?  Give the Twittersphere a glimpse of what to expect upon following you.

Find people in your area of interest.  If you’re in public relations, chances are conversations with biochemists will be infinitely less interesting than with other PR practitioners.  There are countless Twitter applications that allow you to search for people in your area, industry, and so-on and so-forth.

Say interesting and/or useful things.  Unless you are a part of an exhibitionist muffin fetishist community, chances are few people will care about what kind of muffin you had for breakfast.  Talking about the news in your industry, or about what your clients are doing, on the other hand, may resonate a bit more with audiences.

Don’t auto-follow people back on Twitter.  They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps.  Do you have any idea how many spam-bots are on Twitter?  Make sure that folks who follow you are relevant to you before clicking that “Follow” button.

Each of the panelists shared his or her case of how social media was used to increase a brand’s online presence.  To discuss the cases themselves would turn this blog post into a novella, but I’ll share the significant points from everyone, starting with Stacey Howe.

new balance logo nbPeople have been talking for centuries; they’re just doing it faster now.  With the rise of social media, consumers have gained a direct line to the ears of businesses, something previously all but impossible.  Through channels such as Facebook and Twitter, consumers can converse with one another about their experiences with a product or brand, what their thoughts were on said product or brand, and if they’d recommend it.  If a business (like, say, New Balance) is smart, it will not only harvest this feedback and incorporate it into its marketing strategy, but it will also engage its audience through social media to better connect.  As a consumer, wouldn’t you be more encouraged to share your honest thoughts about a brand if you knew the people behind that brand were listening?

Marc Goodman piggy-backed off Stacey to talk about the benefits of real-time feedback in customer serviceComcast customers, are you familiar with @comcastcares?  Imagine: you have a problem with your service, and you tweet about it to @comcastcares . . . and a real person gets back to you.  Instantly.  Wow, suddenly you don’t find yourself cursing the existence of your cable provider!  Seriously, though.  It happens.  Social media turns companies (especially customer service reps) into real people.

I’m off to #SoxUp, but I’ll wrap up David, Meagan and Jennifer’s points soon!

Today’s Tunes
“Broadway,” The Goo Goo Dolls
“Everything You Want,” Vertical Horizon
“Hey Jealousy,” Gin Blossoms
“December (1995),” Collective Soul
“Ants Marching,” Dave Matthews Band

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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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PR Advanced 2009

March 3, 2009 at 9:35 PM (Happenings, work) (, , , , , , )

I probably should have blogged about Saturday’s outstanding conference earlier, while everything was still crisp in my mind, but by the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that most of my brain had leaked out my left ear.  I was exhausted, and I was only an attendee.  Having organised substantial events in the past, I think I have a pretty good idea of how tuckered out the organisers must have been.

I have no excuse for not writing Sunday.  The most productive thing I did on Sunday was creating a LinkedIn account.  Oh, and I scored my Twitter and Facebook pages.  And I made a nice lunch (complete with cookies for dessert) for myself and the little wanderer.  I may have even finished off the rest of those pesky bottles of Ocean Spray cranberry juice and Smirnoff strawberry vodka (okay, so that wasn’t much of an accomplishment: there was less than an ounce of vodka left).  Most of Monday was spent frozen. But I still acknowledge that I took a mini-vacation, and I’m sorry for holding you all at the edges of your seats for so long.  It was cruel of me.  I’ll never do it again.

Okay, so I’m probably lying.

And now, without further ado, my experience at PR Advanced 2009: Innovation Through Leadership, hosted by Boston University’s Edward L. Bernays chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)!

PRAdvanced 2009 was a single-day PR and marketing conference planned, organised and executed by BU PRSSA, the university’s on-campus public relations club, featuring a networking breakfast, breakout sessions, a keynote address and a career fair.  As soon as I learned of the career fair, I became intensely interested in the conference, but as it turns out, the whole conference turned out to be an enlightening, beneficial and enjoyable adventure.

Saturday morning felt like nothing short of punishment as I rolled out of bed at 9.00 A.M. after the snooze alarm tormented me for the eighth time in two hours.  Groggily, I slumped out of bed and into the shower.  An hour and 20 minutes later, I was looking to the little wander for an affirmation that yes, I looked professional yet stunning.  At 10.21, I was out the door, not too concerned that I had nine minutes to get to registration.

By 10.35, I had arrived at the College of Communication (COM) to find myself at the end of the check-in line. The chapter president greeted me and handed me a folder, containing a selectively highlighted map of BU’s Charles River campus, a “Dressing for Success” handout (I cursed my deep fuchsia blouse upon reading “Colour plays a big part in a professional image. Traditional colours include red, navy, grey and black. Loud colours… may not be acceptable for a conservative office,” and then breathed a sigh of relief as my eyes made their way across “but could be more acceptable in a more trendy or creative environment.”  PR and new media are totally trendy!), a copy of “BRINK: A Social Media Guide from the Edge,” courtesy of PR-Squared authored by Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications, conference speaker biographies, a schedule of events, and a nifty pen from BU’s Development & Alumni Relations Student Alumni Council.  I checked in, signed up for my breakout sessions, and made my way over to the networking breakfast just in time for a bagel and a Dixie cup of Starbucks coffee and to meet up with a friend from my new media class and another friend from my BU Ballroom Club days.  After inhaling my bagel, the three of us found ourselves caught in a stream of aspiring marketing and PR professionals destined for the COM auditorium for opening remarks by BUPRSSA’s Heather Papsun, the event coordinator, and PRSSA’s Ceciliah Hughes, the National Vice President of Internships/ Job Services.  After 99% of the audience raised their hands in response to the question “How many of you use Twitter?” Ceciliah proceeded to inform us that someone had already created a hash tag for the event, #pradvan09, which we were encouraged to use throughout the day so long as we respected the speakers (of course).  And at that, we were off to our first breakout sessions.

My two companions and I were thrilled to discover that we had chosen the same morning breakout session, featuring Mike Volpe, Vice President of Inbound Marketing at HubSpot (and I snicker as I linked to those two sites knowing how little value it adds to either’s credibility: you’ll learn momentarily).  Although, as he pointed out at the start of his presentation, we were already decently versed in the importance of inbound marketing and the use of new media tools relative to his more common audiences consisting of more senior communications professionals, I still think he delivered an incredibly useful, informative presentation.  I won’t try to transcribe all of my notes to this post (since we’re already at over 903 words), but his presentation is available for download here.  I will review a few things that I found particularly noteworthy, though:

Looking for work?  Find what interests you, and write articles (or blog posts) about it.  If that industry is current on new media tools, then someone relevant is going to find what you wrote.  Even if what you’re writing isn’t exactly in line with the company, you’re showing that you’re knowledgeable, observant and interested.  For instance, I will now be keeping a closer eye on PR-Squared, and making a point of commenting on what SHIFT’s up to.

When creating a professional blog, don’t use a free URL from blog hosts such as Blogspot, WordPress and Tumblr.  Upon hearing this, I cursed my decision to print out 30 copies of my résumé showcasing my incrys.wordpress.com URL in the header only hours earlier (on the nice paper, too!!).  I later consulted my new media professor about my dilemma, and he put my fears aside: my blog is personal, rather than professional, and including the link still informs potential employers of my experience and comfort level in blogging.  Bless your soul, professor.

I want to share more about Mike’s wonderful lecture and the remainder of PR Advanced 2009, but I have to run to a networking event.  I will finish up tonight!

Today’s Tunes
“All for You (Full Band Version),” Sister Hazel
“Reasons,” Earth, Wind & Fire
“I Can Change,” John Legend
“House of Wolves,” My Chemical Romance
“Sleeping Beauty: Waltz,” CSR Symphony Orchestra & Ondrej Lenard
“Sway,” Lostprophets
“Better Brother,” Madita
“Pictures of You,” The Last Goodnight
“Number One,” John Legend
“Glow,” Nelly Furtado
“Ringa Ringa,” Slumdog Millionaire (Music from the Motion Picture)
“Hand In My Pocket,” Alanis Morissette
“Run,” Snow Patrol
“Slide,” Goo Goo Dolls
“Cocinando la Salsa,” Sonora Carruseles
“Black Hole Sun,” Soundgarden
“Heartbreaker,” Madonna
“Makin’ Whoopee,” Frank Sinatra
“God Only Knows,” The Beach Boys
“Take Me Back to Manhattan,” Anything Goes – 1962 Off-Broadway Cast Recording
“La Vie en Rose,” Alden David
“Flash,” Queen
“Georgia On My Mind,” Ray Charles
“Hey Love,” Stevie Wonder

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