Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years Elementality

I don't make New Years resolutions. I have always found it frivolous, not to mention a bit hypocritical, to do commit to something you should have been doing anyway simply because there's a new year in town. But this year I feel like it's a bit necessary, especially given all the change that has occurred and all of the change I hope for in the future. So here goes:
  1. I resolve to be as helpful as my Twitter community. @grshane and @studlysergio helped me get Google Wave, @lzone showed me where to sign up to beta test Foursquare and countless other good things have happened because the people I follow and who follow me are just all around great about helping others out.
  2. I resolve to take a chance on someone else like @buildingbrands took a chance on me. It is a very big risk giving someone their first internship and I am eternally grateful for the guidance, work and experiences I received while there over the summer.
  3. I resolve to write more, even if it kills me and I think I don't have time.
  4. I resolve to ask more questions. I rely on Google far too much and asking questions allows others to share their knowledge with me.
  5. I resolve to take either an online or real class in finance and budgeting, because I suck at it.
Welp, that's where I'm starting for the new year. 2010 FTW!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Communicating PR

Why is it that the industry burdened with communicating messages to the public on behalf of companies/organizations, struggles so much with communicating its own importance? That sentence, is exactly why we (PR) have such a time communicating our indispensability. It's too wordy. We talk too much. We use euphemisms, analogies, metaphors etc. to tell others what we (well some of us) spend hours on end actually doing. What is wrong with shooting straight from the hip? Instead of practicing 30-second commercials to use when networking, I think PR students should practice explaining what PR is in 15 (half the time) seconds or less. Now the goal would not be to talk fast. Any auctioneer can do that. The point of this exercise would be to accurately convey what PR is and why it is necessary, with crystal clarity to the average person.

So here I go. Time me.

PR gives the message of an organization to those who care to hear it, and sometimes to those who don't. And if they wish to be successful, PR professionals get those who care heard by the organization and those who don't care, to care.

I'm going to memorize that and when anyone asks me what PR is, that's going to be my answer. What's yours?

[update] I think it's really disheartening, for me as a student anyway, that we can't decide on an acceptable explanation/definition for PR. I mean really, some pros have been practicing for 10, 20, 30 or 40+ years and yet we still have trouble/issues/problems etc. communicating our job. We know our job. We go into work eery single day knowing exactly what we have to do. And we do it, mostly, well. So why is it so hard to explain it? Why dumb it down? What's so wrong with a technical definition, like "management function of communication blah blah blah?" I mean, engineers have a technical definition. Doctors sure as heck do. Is not our contribution just as important? Just as valuable to a company's success? I have a recent grad friend who is considering leaving (well, branching off really) the industry simply because of the negative connotations associated with being in "PR." Our inability to communicate (which we're supposed to do best) is hindering our ability to keep talent and grow as an industry. This may seem like harsh criticism but really it's frustrating. And I don't know, maybe my generation of peers will be the ones to solve this dilemma but really, I doubt it. By the time we're in a position to enact any real change, my guess is we'll all be so jaded from our experience with our predecessors that we'll concede the point and just go about our work everyday. Man that's bleak. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Industry Accountability?

A lot of the public relations world has given their two (sometimes more than two) cents on the Tiger Woods situation. We all know his PR team are inside the belly of the #failwhale but what are we doing to help them? Or a better question is, do we as members of the same industry, have a responsibility to protect their reputations as competent practitioners? Does our success (or image as a necessity for businesses/brands) depend on theirs?

I'm only wondering because I know that with the new found transparency of the 2.0 world, virtually anyone is accessible to a certain degree. Members of this profession are very often connected to each other through only a few degrees, so someone with accurate knowledge of how handle this situation should be within reach of Tiger's counselors. And with all of the articles being written daily about what should be done, is anyone offering this advice to Tiger's counsel? It only makes sense.

If everyone realizes that Tiger's response and strategy is erred so far, then when does that blame fall to the PR professionals handling the situation? And if it does, when are we as their colleagues (or future colleagues in my case) negatively affected by their failure?

As a student, I'm completely interested in learning as much as possible from this situation so all comments and advice are appreciated.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Motivation...or Something Like It

This was a wonderful Thanksgiving break, with good food and family. What did I do most for my short break? Why I sat on the couch in front of the TV and my Macbook of course! Honestly, between my physics class and all of the PRSSA stuff from last quarter, I wasn't motivated to do much of anything over break. But reading this post on PR Breakfast Club and talking about my life goals with my Dad, got me to thinking about what motivates me. I have never really thought about it before, partially because I was so distracted with busy work. However after some deep (and I mean DEEEP) introspection, I've arrived at the answer, the key, to what motivates me.

Competition.

I love it. It's not even a winning thing; I'm a good sport even though I'm no fan of losing, ever. But I want and often need to compete in some way shape or form.

I love the rush of it all. The drive to push yourself specifically against someone or something else and having a direct read of your abilities makes competition so exhilirating for me. I've even been known to compete when other people don't know its a competition.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a team player and have no problem staying out of the spotlight. Self-satisfaction is a much more important reward for me than external recognition [although any ONU PRSSA Exec will tell you that I like being right;)]. Friendly competition just makes things more interesting, even mundane things. When asked if I thought my internship could improve in anyway, the only thing I could come up with was that it would have been fun to have a little intern v. intern competition. Even a Scrabble (LOVE!) tourney would have sufficed.

Now like Keith said in the PRBC post, this is not the only thing that motivates me. But unlike Keith, not too many more things come to mind after about three others. Lucky for me, they happen to be fairly large things lol.

I think competition is a good motivator when harnessed appropriately and kept in perspective.
And yes, if asked, I will race you.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Why Reading Is Still Important

I recently heard a fellow student say that he only reads what is assigned to him and "facebook statuses". I recently threw up in my mouth a little bit. This may be an inaccurate observation but our generation seems to have developed an aversion to recreational reading or even news reading for that matter, and I fear that it is also damaging our ability to write well. As public relations students, we need to be able to write well. Why? Because we are communicators and our success or failure depends on our ability to effectively communicate a message (our future employers') to the public, and also to accurately convey public sentiment to our organization. We have to know how to write and reading makes you a better writer. When you read, you pick up the rules of the language such as proper spelling, grammar, syntax and you also can increase your own vocabulary. Also reading gives you a deeper knowledge of the subject that you are reading about. Even fictional writing will provide you with an better understanding of symbolism, universal truths and storytelling. When asked how public relations can remedy the lack of males studying the profession, Dr. Frank W. Wylie, Ph.D, APR, Fellow PRSA said, "Get male students to learn to read and write."
So you may ask, "Evan, I want to be successful, how do I start reading?" Well it's simple: pick up a book and start at page 1!

Here are some books to get you started:


Also, if you want to read more online, here are a few sites that provide great content:


So am I totally off base here? Or what are some books/sites that your enjoy reading?
[Spell Check: 4 errors. Prize is an invite to Google Wave!]

Some Things You May Not Know About Etiquette...

...unless you went to the Netiquette (Networking and Etiquette) session at PRSSA National Conference in San Diego. This session, presented by Profs. Laura Neal and Debbie Darling of Cal State-Fullerton was very interactive and even though I had attended etiquette dinners before, this session included etiquette of networking, table manners and helpful little tips that I hadn't previously heard. I'm the kind of person that likes to know what "the rules" are, so even if I don't necessarily follow them all of the time, I'm at least making a conscious, knowledge-based decision. So what did I learn in this session? Quite a few things actually:

1. How someone presents their business card to you is how you should accept it (two hand presentation=accept with two hands).

2. Have a "30 second commercial" prepared to quickly introduce yourself and express your goals.

3. Place your nametag on the left side of your body so that it isn't covered when you're shaking hands.

4. Ladies should extend their hand to gentlemen first, allowing them to control whether they are comfortable with the exchange.

5. A good rule for a proper handshake is to touch the web of your hand, between the thumb and index finger, to the web of the person whose hand you're shaking.
6. To politely leave a conversation, introduce the person you're talking with to someone else. (This will come in handy!)

7. Be aware of the social context of who you're networking with (CEO? SAE? freelancer?) and where you are (Luncheon? PRSA event with speaker? Awards banquet?).

8. Listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent of the time.

9. If the first to arrive at a table for dinner, wait behind your chair or mingle until everyone is present before sitting down.

10. Do not carry on side conversations at a dinner table. Try to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and included, even if you are not the host.

Some of these tips I had heard before, such as the one about your nametag. Others, like standing behind your chair, were new to me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pitch This-SixthSense Device


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pitch the SixthSense Device to this publication: Environmental Leader.

Environmental Leader is an online green trade publication that focuses on environmental initiatives across the world. Readers of this publication control budgets of over $1 million and collectively work for companies with over $1 billion in annual revenues. Pitches should be formatted for e-mail, and additional components such as 140-character pitches etc. will be considered, depending upon relevance and execution. Again, pitches should be well researched, and tailored to this specific publication. Pitches will be judged on three criterias: how well-written, well-researched and attention grabbing.

To submit your pitch, send it to my e-mail by Wednesday November 25, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. EST. My e-mail address is evaneroberts[at]gmail[dot]com. Good luck!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Starting the Job Search

This week I am "officially" starting the search for a job for after I graduate. I know this may seem early to you all but thinking about it, I'm actually really late. See, unemployment for '09 grads rose to 4.7 percent so I not only have other '10 grads to contend with, I have to be hired over grads from last year who still haven't landed positions. So starting my search as early as possible was necessary. I have sat in on a million and a half (really more like 15 or so) sessions on the job search but it has never been real to me before right now. So what am I doing to get my search started? I'll show you.

Step 1. Update Resume
The last time I updated my resume was August 2009, when I was applying for an internship for this fall. I try to tailor each resume I send to the organization that I am sending it to. This can be tedious, particularly if you have several copies of your resume floating around your computer. I keep it simple by having a master document with my resume in one un-changing layout. Everything I have done since being in college is on it, including descriptions of positions held, summer jobs my first objective statement (which I leave off my resume now) and my skills. This way, I can just copy and paste relevant elements of my overall resume onto a blank document when I've determined what the company wishes to see. This makes it much easier to keep my resume to one page and if I need to add more to it, I have extra info in my master document.

Step 2. Determine Targets
This may be difficult depending on where you want to work. The only thing that should disqualify a company/ agency is if you simply do not wish to work somethere. To start, Crain's does an excellent job of providing lists.

Step 3. Research Targets
Learn everything you can about the companies you're targeting. I plan to build company profiles, similar to what the FBI does on each and every one of us (blog post for another time). But seriously, company name pronounciation, executive leadership, employee twitter handles, recent client acquisitions, last new hires, etc. Anything I can think of to make me more knowledgeable about the place I want to work, I plan to put in these company profiles. This is also how you know what to put in your tailored resume and cover letter.

Step 4. Announce Availability to Network
Send an e-mail to those in your network announcing your availability for employement. I would never suggest a general blast though, instead send targeted notes to groups of contacts, be it by how you know them, industry (tech, non-profit, etc.), where you met or common interests. Be sure that everyone who knows you knows that you're looking for a job. You never know where that crucial connection to your dream job will emerge.

Step 5. Post Resume on Generic Job Sites
Most companies post open positions on their own sites but do not count out sites like Monster.com, Indeed.com and even Jobs.com. These sites provide you with a wider reach than you might other wise have, and they also offer online resume hosting and provide similar jobs to ones in which you might be interested. And most jobs don't have "public relations" in the title. Search "communications" or "marketing" or combinations of the three.

With each new look, start at step 3 and repeat. Like Ryan Hines noted from National Conference, "It's a job getting a job." I'm doing everything I can think of to give myself a fighting chance. What are you doing?

[Spell Check: There are four (4) planted errors in this post. First commentor with a correction gets to guest post here!]

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pitch This and Spell Check-New Contests

Hello all!

I have decided that I liked running the spell check contest so much, I'm going to make it a regular thing. Every Monday, I will post about something and place in the post three (3) spelling, grammatical or non-AP Style errors. The first three commentors to correct the errors will receive some sort of prize worthy of their acheivement. Anyone who catchs errors that are not placebo/ on purpose, will receive a different prize– maybe better, maybe worse than the first one, depending on how I feel about it that day.

Also, I am going to try to run another contest throughout the week as well. Every Tuesday I will post a person, product or idea to be pitched to a specified publication. Basic info on the pub will be given, but tailoring the pitch will involve as much or as little research as participants care to apply. Pitches will be sent to my e-mail, and the winning pitch will be posted on the blog every Thursday!

Anyone can comment on the first contest but only current students will have their pitches considered to win. But if any pros want to write one just to "show us how it's done," be my guest!

I am really excited about these two contests because they will not only give us the chance to practice our editing skills and pitching skills, but they also give all of us PR students an outlet to gain experience in a non-threatening environment. And I will not post pitches that do not win, no matter how bad or good they are. This is not the Bad Pitch Blog, this is a student/learning-centered contest.

I really think this can be a fun way to grow and demonstrate our abilities. I'm also looking forward to the competition that follows!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why The Contest? 10 Reasons

In my last post I did a contest to find spelling and grammatical errors in my writing. There were four primary mistakes that I made in that post in order to give the contest some life. Almost all of those errors were intentionally left in the post but even I miss a caps every once-in-a-while (Thanks Christa!). But why would I, as a student hoping to impress professionals and other students with my writing, encourage readers to find mistakes in my post? Here is some of the strategy behind my "contest."

1. Transparency
In it's simplest form, transparency is encouraging others to trust you by exposing your own faults and making the case that you're "only human." Cop out? Maybe but I needed a no. 1 haha

2. To make myself a better writer
Pretty self-explanatory here but the only way to become a better writer is to write. That includes making mistakes and having other people read and correct those mistakes.

3. To see if I missed anything/ become a better copy editor
Every time I publish a new post, I look at it how readers will see it, in order to see if I missed something in the editing viewer. That is how I caught the first four errors in the first place, I just didn't correct them because of the contest idea. The fifth one, as discovered by Christa Keizer (see comments), slipped through my fingers.

4. To facilitate more engagement with my blog
I mean really, who wants a blog where they spout advice and what they're learning into thin air? Not me! Engaging will not only keep you coming back; it will keep ME coming back!

5. To increase Elementality's web ranking
I had over 200 clicks on that post the first day (tracked using bit.ly). That has to do something for my search ranking right?

6. To test Bit.ly
I had heard that tracking is a ton easier with bit.ly and I needed a post that could potentially generate a lot of traffic to test that. Posts I've seen that get traffic, especially on Twitter, usually have something to do with a contest or prize.

7. Because I'm selfish (and self-conscious)
Look at all of the links in this post? The majority of them take you to either my social media accounts or accounts of organizations I am involved in such as PRSSA and ONU PRSSA. That is because I want you to visit these sites and I also want to connect with you on these sites. Also, if I'm telling people to check out my profiles on all of these sites, I will be pressured to update them more often.

8. To increase awareness of the new retweet feature on Twitter [and ensure that you know that I have it :)]

9. To give me ammo for more posts so I can keep my promise to myself
For example, this post.

10. I truly thought number 7 was the funniest!
You get it? Like "experimenting" with drugs?? Except it's not drugs, but Spin is just as bad for you!

Monday, November 16, 2009

10 Ways to Know You're a PR Student


So true to my word, I am posting today to start this week off right! I'm have to give a bit of credit first as this post is inspired by a presentation to ONU PRSSA by Aaron Brown of Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations. [Also, this is meant to be funny and in no way reflects on the views of Fahlgren Mortine, Aaron Brown, PRSSA, Twitter, ONU PRSSA, Your Mom, My Mom, Puerto Ricans, nor does it truly depict characteristics of real-life college public relations students...unless it does ;)]

10. You check the AP Stylebook before making comments on Facebook.

9. You know "#PRStudChat" has nothing to do with Puerto Rican hotties.

8. You always know the news two days before it comes out (or at least that's what your friends think).

7. You think college is the perfect time to "experiment" (with SPIN!!!).

6. You've attempted to make your own "personal brand" and will probably go through "rebranding" next quarter.

5. You are on the only one in your group of friends who is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedInYouTube, PROpenMic, Flickr, Google Wave, Blogger and still have a MySpace account in case it makes a comeback. (ED - Add Instagram, Google+, about.me, tumblr, a Wordpress blog, Foursquare, Path and Quora to this list).

4. You taught yourself SEO by Twitter searching your name (and were extremely disappointed with the results). (ED - You only think you know SEO. No one really does).

3a. You joined PRSSA to meet girls (Guys).

3b. You joined PRSSA, sadly only to meet more girls (Girls).

2. You get irritated when people spell Web site wrong (because it's the only AP StyleBook rule you memorized and they need to get it RIGHT!) (ED - They've since caved and changed it to "website." So much for your education.)

And the number one way to tell if you're a PR Student:
1. You know there is zero news value in this post whatsoever! (ED - Even two years later it still doesn't.)

And that's how E "C"s it! lol

(side note: CONTEST!- Anyone who finds a spelling or grammatical error in this post gets FOUR RT's from me next week! Leave corrections in the Comments area.) (ED - worst contest ever lol).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back on Track

Sometimes I get exactly what I needed to hear, from my Twitter feed (Thanks @heatherdamico and @RyanKnapp!). In this case, it was Melissa Karnaze's article on writer's block that is really encouraging me through this week before finals. And also to update my blog more often. After doing her exercises, I discovered that the fear that was "blocking" my writing for this blog and for my homework was simply the fear of inadequacy. I read several other student blogs who are all excellent writers and may even have journalism or creative writing backgrounds and I stare in awe and amazement as they churn out post after well-written post. I don't have that background. Granted, I've done my fair share of writing and have even done guest posts for well known blogs but I guess I never embraced those accomplishments as validation for my skill. I was totally intimidated and my way of punking out was "writer's block." Well no more.

Starting today, I am going back on the schedule I had when I began this blog. Three posts a week, at least three different topics. Setting goals for yourself is truly the only way to get things done and to measure your success, and my blog was doing fine before I let it go the way of the Dodo. Look for me :)

Happy finals week!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Headed to PRSSA National Conference!

I'm headed to the 2009 PRSSA National Conference in San Diego today!

This looks to be an incredible trip and thanks to all the people who bought rolls or did something else to make it possible! I'll be sure to share my thoughts on the conference in blog posts but for now, follow my tweets about the conference, or the ONU Chapter of PRSSA's tweets.

Much love people!

Evan

Monday, October 19, 2009

Learning About Google Wave

So I have had quite the hiatus from my blog, and I must apologize. I missed you blog.

Recently I have been searching for blog posts pertaining to usage of Google Wave, because I was lucky enough to get an invite from an ONU friend a couple weeks back and have been trying to determine how I'll use it. Today I read this post on uses for Google Wave in education. Now I know I'm not in education but the thing about a good idea is that it is usually applicable to multiple ummm applications.

My favorites from that post are:

4) Plan parent conferences with multiple teachers and multiple schedules
11) Keep information current between work, cell, and home
12) School newspaper/newsletter article development
16) Collaborative book study
17) Group blogging
19) Storing favorite web resources in one central searchable location

Now I realize that most of these are in the context of teaching but the overall sentiment is the improvement of group communication. Imagine a book group where you comment and highlight the parts of the book that speak to you as you're reading it?

Or for those into group blogs (one of my favorites is PR Breakfast Club) imagine the posts that could come from screen casting a "post idea brainstorming session?" I'm still getting adjusted to the feature and adding contacts so if you have Google Wave, add me as a contact and lets see what we can come up with together.

evaneroberts at googlewave dot com

Friday, September 11, 2009

What PRSSA Chapters Can Learn From A/E Firms

Yesterday I read this post from John Kreiss on what Architecture and Engineering firm can learn from the New England Patriots' trade of Richard Seymour. *sniff* Originally I read his post because I read most anything about my favorite teams, but Kreiss shares some valuable insights in managing a firm that I think is relevant to both PRSSA Chapters and student-run firms alike.

Start Early

I remember being asked at Conference what we do to get people involved at Northern and this is it. Officers meet over the summer so that we have things ready for the first week of school, including client lists for our firm, speakers lined up to engage us and activities to increase participation and get everyone excited about PRSSA. When our officers already have their tasks, they can identify younger members who might not know what's going on but just have a passion to do something, and delegate to them something to do. This way we harness that enthusiasm early and channel it into productivity.

Recruit

This has been a major part of our Chapter's success. I was a Music Education major. Our firm director, Natalyn Giverson, was a biology major. We get most of our rockstars from other majors on campus, inform them about what public relations is (and isn't), and encourage them to join PRSSA.

Communicate

Kriess talks about this in three different ways: establish expectations,
communicate them regularly, and hold people accountable.
I would add provide opportunities for regular feedback, with the difference
from that and the last point being that I see accountability more as
a function for top-down communication. Opportunities for regular feedback
means younger members giving you constructive criticism and
vice versa. That way nothing and no one falls between the cracks.

Focus on Strengths
Everyone can do something really well. Find out a) what it is, b) how they can do it for your Chapter, and c) give them an opportunity. I maybe Web Master/ Historian but there is another girl who is good with Web stuff also, and having her assist me with maintaining the Facebook page, Twitter account, Blog and the new site we're building is not only great for me, but it gives her work experience and keeps her involved.

Expect mistakes along the way

We attend a small liberal arts college and our Chapter is chock full of overachievers. We're all involved in at least two organizations outside of PRSSA, which means that occasionally some one might drop the ball. Keeping everyone on the same page means that you have two or three people who can step in on any given project or assignment and do what needs to be done. You can't plan for everything, but you can plan for most things.

What are some other ways to improve our Chapters?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dear SM 2.0

Dear Social Media class version 2.0,

I hope you all have a great time in this class. Learn as much as you can and find out ways to make the tools you learn your own. There is an entire world of technology out there that is growing with each second, and your experiences from here on will be a part of that. Don't get over whelmed with the course work, because the most important thing is that you use these tools and make them work for you. I figured since I took this class already, I could give you a few tips on how to be successful.
  1. Use class time (post lecture) to write draft posts
  2. Read the books. Or find them online. But Read them
  3. Check out the blogs of the authors of the books. Sometimes there is more information or more insights on their blogs. And all of them blog!
  4. Save your posts intermittently; Auto save only does so much
  5. Try to integrate pic into your posts to break up the text.
  6. You can Google Search other interesting blogs here
  7. CNN provides good current events topics for blogging
  8. Sure, you want to show your blog to future employers but don't shy away from your own opinions. Write what you feel. Keep it real.
Hope you all have a great semester and feel free to ask me anything you need!

Friday, August 14, 2009

All Like Sheep Have Gone Astray...

OK so I would feel the need to post about politics after I wrote about me shifting my interests towards fashion, but this needs to be said. Ready? Here it goes: ANYONE WHO BOYCOTTS WHOLE FOODS IS A BRAINDEAD SHEEP.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this article. http://bit.ly/MMMJ0 I am going to try to shop at Whole Foods more often to offset their dip in sales due to this idiocy. If you read the CEO's editorial, (and you can here) Mackey presents a very logical and reasonable alternative to the healthcare reform being proposed. Whether it is good PR or bad PR for his company isn't the point, because this is beyond the PR for his company. This is about citizens of the United States blindly following rhetoric that pushes a plan DOOMED to fail. Even worse, the comments on this article show that there are people in this country who cannot even conceive any other options to healthcare reform than the one that President Obama proposes. That's sad, that we would put away our minds so easily in favor of being coddled. Our forefathers must be rolling in their graves. Anyone, in either party, who simply follows the leader without judging for themselves whether or not the leader is leading them correctly is a danger to themselves.

Original "democracy" is meant to be closer to anarchy on the spectrum of government, than totalitarianism. When we give up our right to take care of ourselves, to choose our healthcare provider or to choose our own doctor, we are giving up more than a non-existant right. We're giving up a piece of our freedom. I hope Mackey will stick to his guns, and not be persuaded to mea culpa for expresssing his opinion. And I hope the boycotters starve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Life Decisions

So I've put all over everything (this blog, twitter, facebook etc.) that I love political communication. And while this is true, I have found something scary happening to me recently. My interests are shifting. I think I might want to do Fashion PR. I'm seriously worrying because I have been watching CNN and CSPAN less and less and reading fashion blogs, books and tweets more and more. I noticed that I have "I love political comm." in my twitter bio, but rarely do I ever tweet about politics. But quite often I tweet about fashion, and technology. I've become obsessed with The Sartorialist and Tweed and Velvet. The only thing holding me back from overhauling my wardrobe is the lack of funds to replace essentials.

I know that I'm still young and that nothing is written in stone but the more I look into fashion PR, the more I feel the tug to pursue it. This is one of those pivotal moments in life where I wish I could see a fast forward of what would happen if I did change my pursuits. I haven't finished school yet, so it's not a career change I'm making. But the change in focus would def affect post-grad decisions, like where to move to and whether or not I go to grad school. I wonder how adults make these kinds of decisions after they're established.

Well whatever I end up doing, I want to start doing it already lol!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Boomers Adopting Facebook can be Good

Since Mashable released this research today showing that the age of new facebook users is rising, I've seen a number of tweets from Gen Xers stating that they are not looking forward to their parents adopting the new tool. This is sad because the point of any social media tool is interaction with your community and your parents can be a significant part of that community. A lot of the Millennials I know have been interacting with their parents on facebook for months, mine have been on it for over a year! Sure, the real big deal of this research is the demographics for advertising and how that will (read should) change the ad campaigns seen on the site, but the other side to this is that older generations are looking to reconnect.

Facebook provides an easy, painless way to reach out to people you haven't spoken to in years and that kind of bridging ability is exactly what older people could use. So instead of dreading the day your folks get on Facebook, help them set it up. Social networks are valuable because of the open interaction they encourage.

I'm excited older generations are adopting Facebook, much more so than I was about businesses and celebrity pages. That kind of interaction I honestly could do without.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Interns: Don't work from home!

Seems crazy right? The minute I started my internship, I wanted to bring my work home so I could get more done and show how committed I am. Everyone knows that working from home is the best way to play a quick catch up with things you might not have been able to finish while clocked in. But bringing your work home can be detrimental to your internship for a number of reasons:

1) It's healthier- Coming home is supposed to be the start of something else. Taking time to rejuvinate, and hang out with your family is healthy, and if you leave your work at work, you will be able to sleep better because you won't think about it. At least I don't

2) Balance is key- Any working professional will tell you that they most important/difficult part of being in the work world is maintaining a healthy balance of work life, family life and self. Bringing your work home distrubs that balance. Like my dad always said growing up, "There is a time and a place for everything."

3) It's not billable- This is not meant to sound mercenary but the fact of the matter is that billing work is a part of our (PR) profession. It is expected that we learn how to do it, and it results in us accurately accounting use of our time for clients. Also people should be paid for the work that they do, and you don't get paid for things you do on your own time. (Likewise, don't do on your work time what should be done at home)

Now since I've gone and ruined your fun, I'll share a few ways to increase productivity at work without bringing work home:

1) At the end of the day, make a to-do list for the next day before you leave. That way, there's no dilly-dallying (love that word) while you try to figure out what's on the agenda for the day, you can jump right in!

2) Keep a notepad or word doc open throughout the day to jot down random ideas that are not applicable to what you are working on. That way, you don't lose them, but you can keep on task.

Any other ideas? What do you do to keep productivity up while at your job/internship?

Monday, June 1, 2009

NCORE 2009: Traces of the Trade: A Story from The Deep North

The viewing of this film was incredibly packed, and rightfully so. Katrina Browne’s story is one that hails from the heart of our country. She is descended from the DeWolf family, the largest slave trading family in America. Through their endeavors, they brought more than 10,000 Africans from the coast of Ghana, to the New World. Millions of Americans can attribute their ancestors’ displacement to this one family. 

In the film, Katrina and some of her family members retrace the trade route their elders traveled and dig up old, long buried family secrets. Their trip is far from superficial, no matter how much they seem to want it to be initially. One of the most inspiring things about the film is their willingness to be transparent and deal with the guilt, anger and pain that they confront while travelling. They speak of the privilege that they have from such treacherous business. They also go in depth into the business aspects of the trade. 

One of the things I found most interesting is that while watching the film, I was not even mad at their forebearers for what they did. I found myself calculating the money they were making, thinking about conversion rates and how rich they would be today. It is chilling to think that anyone, even a descendent of one of the worst crimes against humanity ever, could think about the money to be made from it. But it helps me realize that, like the guy said in the film, I cannot villify these people. What they did was evil, and they knew it, but who, when presented with the opportunity, wouldn’t do something similar? People do it every day. I guess the potential for depravity is within us all, and we have to find some way to quell that instinct. For me, it’s Jesus.

The other thing that really stood out to me about the DeWolf descendents was not only their compassion and remorse, but their drive to do something about what they had seen. They did not just read old slaver ledgers and visit old plantation ruins. They had conversations with Ghanaian people, who asked them questions like, “Don’t you feel shamed to even be here?” They faced it head on and when they returned to the States, they made further attempts to make things right. They have pushed for reconciliation, written books, and traveled all over the country to help right some of the wrongs done during slavery. You can find out more about what they are doing on their Web site: http://www.tracesofthetrade.org/

What NCORE Did Wrong

This past week I attended the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education, held is the lovely city of San Diego, California. It was incredible and I gleaned tons of new information from the sessions I attended, as earlier posts on my blog demonstrate. However there are a few things that I feel could be improved for future NCOREs.

Disclaimer: This is not a gripe by any means. I loved the conference!

1. NO Wifi!!

OK, they really did have wifi in the hotel, but it was $6.95 an hour, $13.95 per day and as a student with limited discretionary funds, free wifi is a must. Having free wifi potentially grows the audience for NCORE exponentially, due to the many social networking and social media sites that are accessible online. Free wifi would provide NCORE participants with multiple outlets to share what they are learning in sessions, keynote addresses, and whom they are meeting, with the world. For example, NCORE did have a twitter handle (@NCOREonsite) but there was little to no engagement. 43 followers and not one that they followed, plus they only tweeted like 10 posts for an entire week??? I tweet more than that during a #cavs game (smh). Also, most people were texting and using their cell phones (I was still without) but I didn’t notice much social media engagement via cell, especially not tweeting. I also did not notice a Facebook I also saw people carrying around laptops (including me), but we were rarely able to use them, since no one was willing to pay for Internet access. Were there free wifi, I’m sure people would have been able to create a larger presence online for the conference.

2. Rooms and sessions

I noticed many sessions that were overcrowded and a couple that were sparsely attended. My suggestion to remedy this situation is to preview the sessions with a small, objective audience/committee before the actual conference. Then they could maybe predict which sessions will be the most popular, so that they can fit them in appropriately sized rooms. Obviously films are going to be well attended, and anything on hip-hop, the N-word, and Obama. Make room for these sessions, and save conference-goers a bit of disappointment.

All in all, this was an incredible experience. There were just some things that could have made it even more impactful. The subject matter of race, ethnicity and equity in higher education is one that I think all schools should be working to address, and I am really glad my school is willing to address these issues. I am truly blessed.

NCORE 2009: Grad Testing

I will be taking the LSAT but in the presentation these tips were expressed as help for all of the graduate tests. The most interesting thing that was said was that the tests are not meaningful. At all. They are however, important. Grad tests show only that you are good at that particular test. That’s about all. The keys to being successful on grad tests are:

  1. Be aggressive, for some reason, it’s rewarded on the test.
  2. Laugh regularly when preparing for the test.  (No, I’m serious) 
  3. Use books, the internet, and one-on-one tutoring in your preparation
  4. Take a course! Studying on your own is much harder because you have to find the materials, study, and teach yourself. In a course, you only have to study, they find materials and teach you.

Also, they provided a “work-out” plan for prepping for the test, which I found incredibly helpful.

Prep minimum: 2 hours a day of high quality practice

                            5-6 days/week

                            7-8 weeks, right up until the official test day

                            Take 4-5 practice tests, one every two weeks

While this may seem like a very intense schedule of preparation, the presenter pointed out that this schedule is equal to only ½ of a season of a high school sport!

Lastly, practice tests from Kaplan and the Princeton Review are good, but find prior released tests. You can get these by simply purchasing them from the testing company here. I'm planning to start my studying in a few weeks. Happy testing!!

NCORE 2009: Your Graduate School Application

Another of the earlier sessions that I was able to attend was about preparing to enroll in graduate school, which is one of the options I have been weighing. The presentation was insightful, as I had not done very much to bring my law school ambitions to fruition. I had been studying for the LSAT, but only on a limited basis (bored in the bathroom). The first point they stated was that you need at least 2-3 letters of recommendation. 

Also, you will be asked to write a personal statement and a statement of purpose, and I found the difference between these two interesting. A statement of purpose should simply tell, why you want to attend that particular grad school, and your intentions for your degree. A personal statement is more in depth, and it connects your unique life story and experiences to your intended field of study. Like any piece, it should be well written, with accurate grammar and correct spelling. The presenters suggested proofreading and having it looked over by at least 4 people, with three being professionals outside of your major. This is to provide objectivity, because many grad school application committees pull from across the university, for the same reason; objectivity.

Also they suggested adding a CV (Curriculum Vitae) to your application, in addition to your resume. Many people (including me) tend to see the resume and CV as the same thing, but really the CV provides the room to describe your experiences in more detail than a resume allows. It should also show the results of your experiences, i.e. what you learned while working for Wal-Mart. You can actually start this now, by making you own virtual CV. Here's mine!

I really think it is great how NCORE provides these sessions for students, as I know even with all of my involvement in pre-professional organizations that there are still things that I might not know about post grad life. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

NCORE 2009: Job Search tips

 I am currently in San Diego, CA at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) with a group of students from ONU. While here, I will be posting some of the things that I learn that stand out to me, particularly in relation to public relations, professional development and things that I can use to help groups I am in understand and improve their diversity.

Today I attended a preconference Institute session that dealt with finding a job in a tight job market. Brian Guerrero of the University of California, San Diego and Marc Johnston from the University of Arizona led the session. They provided many great insights into the job search and one thing I found particularly interesting was their suggestions for networking and also for negotiating salaries.

Networking:

·      Use it to maintain connections and gather information

·      Social networks count!

·      At networking events, place your name tag on the right side of your body

·      Organize your business cards and contacts in Excel

Negotiating Salary:

·      Be prepared to be direct and assertive

·      Express genuine interest

·      Determine if negotiation is necessary

·      Ask yourself “How did I calculate my necessary salary?”

·      Have reasons for changing the offer

·      Get offer in writing

·      Negotiate other things if salary is not flexible (benefits, stock options, professional development, one-time extras)

Although there were many more tips presented, I felt these are the ones that are the most universal and applicable for me. I will be adding more from other sessions as time allows. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Personal Development

I'm going to have to learn to speak up when something bothers me, and not be timid about it. Also I am going to have to invest in some earphones.

Update: I originally wrote this post about a situation that was frustrating me. I didn't confront the issue because I do not really like conflict (at all) and in retrospect it wasn't that big a deal. Thing is, I got mad when I was by myself, instead of at the moment. I only see this as a problem because I sometimes feel like people might see me as a pushover. The internship I'm doing this summer does a personality test, so in order to figure out what was really bothering me (and cause I'm nosey), I paid for it and took it looked at the free example online. Here's the evaluation I think fit me the closest, really close actually.

The fact that I have this (as a communications major) is incredible, sense I'm a "high self-monitor" and love looking for ways to improve interpersonally. It's also good because when I found this on the site, I realized that I am going to be in the right place this summer. I mean, these tests are freakin expensive and any company that is willing to pay the money for this kinda thing, use it on interns and put it into action in the work place, can only be interested in helping me grow as a person and a student. Not to mention they are pretty darn accurate. I couldn't have picked (or been picked by) a better spot for my first internship. I'm even more excited about this summer now :) (I put a smiley face cause a girl in campaigns class told me exclamation points (!) are unprofessional lol)

K sweet, night

Why we REALLY aren't buying into social media...like you want us to

Everyone knows that this generation of young adults will be a force to be reckoned with in the business world. Even we know it. We are the generation of teen tech bloggers, nerds turned CEOs and whole television shows based on Webcasts. But according to recent findings, most of the demo latching on to SM is not in our age bracket, but instead, the much older Baby Boomer generation (zinger). One post posed that this anti-rush is due to a "coolness" factor that we all can't help shaping our interests around (like we're still in high school). But I have a couple of different reasons why I think my generation has not abandoned other media for all things social. 

1.We're anxious/nervous about it: Look at the world we are growing up in. Freakin' Craigslist killers, swine flu, the economy, school shootings and let's not forget, Britney is still making "music." It's a mess out there and having a bunch of know-it-all adults tell us we need to be engaging in these "tools" or we're failures at life isn't exactly a stress-reliever. 

2. We're rebellious: I mean think about it. If you were a teen/college kid and adults told you to do something (even if it's a helpful tip to get you a job later on...), you're going to want to do it? Thought not.

3. It's no longer an escape: Facebook was "cool" because of it's exclusivity. So many college students were using it everyday because it had nothing to do with the real world, it was an online extension of the fantasy life we were living everyday. Why would you want to mix that up with advertisers, parents, celebs and your boss back home?

4. We've got other stuff to do: This one should speak for itself. We play sports, are in a ton of extracurriculars, hang out with friends, text, even watch tv. And usually these are solitary engagements, although some overlap, like texting and doing anything else.

5. It's not going anywhere: You are. Baby Boomers are on their way out. Let's be real. Sure those born on the end are only hitting their mid-40s but that leaves only 30 years to use this stuff. We've got 50+...what's the rush?

All and all, if you believe the stats, you would think Gen Yers want nothing to do with SM and that's not true. If you really think about it, why should a large majority of the young adult population jump on social media when most of us will only use it recreationally? No, we're probably not going to be the early adopters on this one but best believe we will be with trends to come. Now I know I'm all over SM but I personally have always been one to try new things. Plus I'm only partially rebellious, don't have a cell phone, own a MacBook, and am so relaxed I once had a nurse tell me to do some jumping jacks after taking my pulse for a physical. But most Gen Yers are more like what I describe above, than they are like myself. 

So cheer up, no we're not the first in SM. But at least we will each have our own robots...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Evaluating the "Spin Doctor"

I remember when I first became a PR major, and my Dad said to someone (I think one of my aunts???) "Yea, he's gonna be a spin doctor!" I remember thinking "PR has a doctorate?" But since then, I've learned the true meaning of "spin doctor" and it's connotations both within the PR industry and outside of it. 

To those not in PR, spin doctor is both a nickname and a label for stereotyping purposes. It helps the public figure out what exactly we do. But it's inaccurate. The mythological spin doctor swoops in at the behest of some big corporation to sweep under the rug any messes (messi?) that may pollute the company's image to the public. Sex scandals, law suits, embezzlement; all of these things get tackled with efficiency by the spin M.D., and like the Jedi, he waves his mystic hand of persuasion and everything is good and no one remembers bad things. This idea more than likely came from the crisis management element of public relations, but really that is not all PR can do. Big case studies like Tylenol, A.I.G. and Phillip Morris are all examples of great crisis communications that some might simply label "spin." But you have to keep in mind, that people who do these jobs are not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, they are just ensuring that their client's bottom line does not unjustly suffer from mistakes or miscommunication. 

Those inside PR cringe when they hear the word "spin." Calling a practitioner a spin doctor is like telling them they have swine flu (too soon?). No one wants to be called that and no one wants to be associated with anyone labeled a "spin doctor." In fact, I still recall quite clearly when Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk told about 3,000+ PR pros to "Do what you do best; Spin it!" at the PRSA International Conference in Detroit. Luckily, Michael Chrenenson was there to correct her on the organization's stance on "spin" after the gasps, tweets and a few boos. 

As PR pros and future pros, we have to be aware of what others think of our industry. We have to be proactive in debunking myths about our practices and be vigilant in communicating to the public what we are and what we do. Sometimes it's better to say something before it becomes an issue, than to try to explain after it already is an issue.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ONU PRSSA 2010!

Congrats to the New 2009-1010 Officers for Ohio Northern University's Chapter of PRSSA!

President-Amanda McKelvey
Vice President-Alyssa Spall
Firm Director-Natalyn Giverson
Liaison-Tegan Ellis
PR Director-Newsletter Editor-Jamienne Scott and Callie Crum
Secretary-Renee LeGendre
Treasurer-Ellen Keough
Historian & Webmaster-Evan Roberts

I look forward to working with you all and continuing the legacy of ONU PRSSA!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Questions: What Did I Learn?

So as I posted earlier, I only asked questions today on twitter. I learned quite a few things even though it was extremely difficult for me not to reply with just statements. But before I tell what those are, I want to give a run-down of the rules I used for this little SM experiment. 

1) Every post had to have a question in it. Even Retweets. I only failed to do this on the last tweet because I had no room.

2) I had to still engage in twitter like I normally do. Still pose and answer questions, still read tweets as much as I normally do, everything. This was really hard because I have some incredibly interesting followers with great senses of humor, and I wanted to joke back. I achieved this a bit with @jocelleuntalan talking about the Cavs and Lakers (GO CAVS!)

So what did I learn? Well besides that it is incredibly difficult to only ask questions, I learned that people will reveal soooo much more information if you just stop talking and let them continue what they are saying. Even in 140 characters, if you weigh in before you take in the full scope of what is being said, you run the risk of misinterpreting what is being said and losing who you're talking with.

I also learned that questions have a pretty significant power. They invoke action, to do something. Be it answering, acting on something, or just thinking about something differently, questions are what make it happen and to better listen, you have to ask questions and get in depth with what's going on. Besides, who really wants to hear you talk anyway?

Can I ask you a question?

Today on twitter, all of my posts or "tweets" will be questions. This is because every public relations social media session/conference/thing I have ever been to says that the first step to engaging in SM is "listening." I feel like I never started on twitter, or facebook for that matter, with listening. And everyone knows that to not creep people out and to show them that you're listening (and that you're in the room...) you ask questions. Asking questions does three things:
  1. Hints at your thought process
  2. Allows others to clarify statements
  3. Helps you remember what was said
Anyone who is an effective listener has to ask questions. So today, I am. On twitter. 
Cool?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Social Media Strategery

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 2009 PaRtners Conference, an annual day-conference held at a Central Ohio school by one of the many PRSSA Chapters in the area. This year it was at Capital University and Rachelle Tackach, Cheryl Harrison and the rest of the Capital PRSSA team did a great job! I feel like I learned the most at Jamie Timm's session on social media strategy. What follows are several of the points that I found to be the most insightful. 

Planning
  1. Find out where your audience is
  2. You don't have to use/be on every social media tool
  3. Know that the results may not be immediate, because any good campaign still takes time
  4. ROI is still important; Just needs to be explained differently
How to present the campaign to Managers
  1. Structure your presentation
  2. Know the problem
  3. Know the (Manager's/Company's) "hot buttons" (Sales, ROI, Awareness etc.)
  4. Know the competitive landscape
  5. Present the Why, How, and Outcomes in your organization's language
  6. Have reasons and research to back it all up 
  7. Keep it to 1 page (Do NOT brain dump!)
Determine the Outcomes
Do you want to...?
  1. Create Affinity
  2. Diminish Negativity
  3. Position your org. as a credible source
  4. New Product Development
  5. Obtain 3rd Party endorsements
  6. Build trust/strong relationships
  7. Increase exposure/awareness
  8. Trigger a response/action
  9. Meet a budget/timeline
Overall, I feel like I gained a lot of good information that I can use in future classes/campaigns/projects. It's great the Jamie presented this session, especially because as a Millennial, I will be expected to have knowledge of social media tools and it will be even better if I can use them effectively in a campaign. Score 1 for my future!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Acccomplished!

!!!!I GOT MY FIRST INTERNSHIP!!!!

If you can't tell, I'm excited lol. I was actually just talking with my friend Kion Sanders about how sometimes you feel behind when other students have had like 5 internships and you haven't had one. Or you (read me) might feel like a slacker or like you aren't good enough. Well those feelings are gone! I am now a proud intern at Liggett Stashower in Cleveland. I begin June 15, 2009 and I cannot wait! Hopefully I gain the experience and guidance I require to be successful as a PR professional in the future.

WHOO HOOO!!!!! *ahem*...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Gracious

"If this is where the monarchy is headed, count me out!" -Zazu (The Lion King)

These words are spoken by the animated bird Zazu in my favorite Disney film, The Lion King, about the future of the animal kingdom under the direction of the new regime. This weekend, I participated in an annual ritual held by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), in order to elect our own new regime and continue the progression of our organization into the future. 

I ran for Vice President of Advocacy, a position dealing with diversity and advocating for the overall ethical practices of PRSSA. I lost. I then made the decision to run from the floor for the Vice President of Public Relations position. I wrote my speech in around 20 minuntes during the break for lunch, as I had taken the beginning of the break to lie down. I feel that normally I am not a good public speaker at all, and in the case of my two speeches, I was so nervous I was shaking, hopefully not visibly. 

My hope is that my passion for this organization and our profession shone through, even though I was not elected the second time I ran either. I feel I lost to two highly qualified and respectable candidates who will do the job they were elected to do, and do it well. Janelle, I feel, has the right attitude, experience and knowledge to lead this Society's efforts towards realizing our goals of a more diverse and ethical student organization. Plus, who can beat planning a b-day bash for the King of Thailand?

Jason is also going to be a strong National Committe member. Anyone who will check every single link on the PRSSA Web site, number the amount of links that don't work and is able to figure out the HTML code correction without seeing it, should also be able to figure out the best way to advocate for PRSSA not only to its own members, but also to the world at large. I believe Jason has shown the ability to do that, and without question, the drive it takes to succeed. 

All in all, I feel I represented my ideas, my university and most of all myself, with nothing but distinction. In fact, if what I hear is correct, this was not only the smoothest running Assembly, but also we had the most qualified pool of candidates to choose from of the most recent years. I believe it will show with the coming administration. And if this is where PRSSA is headed, count me in.

Congratulations to the 2009-2010 PRSSA National Committee!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Twitter stole my blog ideas!

Posting regularyly is hard. Not because I have so much to do, or because I don't have anything to post about, but really it's because I tweet things I would post about, before posting, and then discuss them on twitter with other interested parties. That's it. I talk it out. Without my blog. But I am not one of those so-called SM pundits who think Twitter will completely erase blogging. On the contrary, I probably read more blog post now that I see them on twitter, than I would otherwise. It's just that somethings, most things, can really be fleshed out in 140 characters. 

I feel like this is too long...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Class Assignment #1: Why We Fight

Hey for everyone in Campaigns, finding the videos is a little difficult but since I watched them all already, I figured I would post them up for everyone to find them more easily.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:
Part 6:


Hopefully this saves everyone a bit of time trying to find the right videos. You might want to make a YouTube account and put them all in a playlist so you can watch them in order. I didn't feel like doing it but hey, you might lol! Good luck!

UPDATE: I fixed the issue with the link for Part 3, thanks to @madisonmb22 for alerting me!

Monday, February 23, 2009

John Raven (1936-)

An Inconvenience

Mama,
papa,
and us
10 kids
lived in
a single room.
Once, when I
got sick
and like to die
I heard a cry
slice through the gloom
"Hotdog!
We gon have
mo room!"

The Roach

A roach
came struttin
across my bedroom
floor,
like it was beyond
reproach,
or was
some sexy-lookin
whore,
and if I hadn't
snuffed it,
left it
alive,
I know it would've
come right up
and gave me
five!