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