Archives for category: Public Relations

Instagram rocks. I’m still not sure if it’s worth the $1 billion Facebook spent, but I’m definitely crushing on its capabilities. The smartphone app provides amazing ways to interact with various audiences through a visual medium.

Like any social platform, users can get lost in the hype and push best practices to the wayside. Whether you’re new to Instagram (available via iPhone and Android, by the way) or a seasoned pro, check out these commandments to avoid pitfalls:

Thou shalt offer variety.

It’s totally cliche, but it’s true: Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Want to show off your drool-worthy lunch, throwing your Instagram followers into a pit of jealousy? Fine. Want your followers to squeal over pictures of your miniature schnauzer? Awesome. Just make sure you offer followers variety. 

Instagram is all about giving users a glimpse at your life and the sights that catch your eye. Your day-to-day life is multidimensional, so reflect that in what you choose to post! Sharing too much of the same thing (food photos, pet photos, etc) may bore your audience. Let’s keep it fresh by switching things up.

Thou shalt not take copious amounts of self portraits.

I don’t see anything wrong with Instagramming (is that a word?) a self portrait or two, but seriously: Keep your headshots to a minimum. If you’re snapping these shots to highlight something particular (a new outfit, a new lip color, an updated hairdo,  your new eyebrow piercing, etc,) that’s ideal. But if you’re taking photos of yourself just because you’re bored, you should reevaluate your Instagram usage. (Think about it. Do you really believe followers want to see what you look like while driving in your car or laying in your bed?)

Thou shalt not abuse hashtags.

In the social media realm, hashtags serve as powerful little tools. They help us track conversation threads on Twitter, identify keywords and categorize messages.

The “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing” rule applies here, too. Hashtags are most useful when associated with a particular contest or topic (such as #ootd) that requires them.

If you’re tagging a food photo with “#steak #yummy #foodinmytummy #delish #food #latergram,” you’re probably doing it wrong.

Thou shalt not overshare via other social networks. 

I’m a cross-pollination advocate (aka sharing content from one social network on another social network,) but some users take this concept to the extreme. Be selective about the Instagram photos you share via Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. Keep your audience in mind each time you post.

What commandments would you add to the list?

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Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday that I was a stressed college senior attempting to balance classes, an internship and a post-grad job search without losing my sanity. (Seniors: It worked out just fine for me, and you’ll survive, too!)

As graduation nears, public relations students are asking to connect via LinkedIn and reaching out regarding potential job opportunities. These recent activities reminded me that LinkedIn serves as an incredibly powerful tool for job seekers, but forgetting proper etiquette can hurt your chances of forming relationships and finding your first post-grad gig.

So without further adieu, I’d like to share LinkedIn dos and don’ts geared toward career-hungry college seniors:

Do: Share a personal message when asking to connect, especially if you do not know the contact well.

I cannot stress this enough. Unless you’ve known the professional for years or work together on a regular basis, you should always include a personal message when connecting via LinkedIn.

See? LinkedIn's default message isn't personal. It's your job to jazz it up.

LinkedIn’s personal message feature lets you build relationships and start the conversation, so use it to your advantage.

  • Let’s face it: Professionals aren’t super humans, and they don’t remember every single face and name they meet. If you haven’t chatted with the professional for several months, do the PR pro a favor by reminding him/her how you met.
  • If you’ve never met the professional before, explain why you want to connect with him/her.

Many professionals will not accept your connection if you don’t give them a reason to do so. It only takes a few extra minutes to write a personal message, so do it. A little effort goes a long way, my friends. (Did I mention you should always proofread?)

Don’t: Cut straight to the chase.

I can’t believe I’m stating the obvious, but I’m afraid I must.

If you’re a graduating senior, we know you’re looking for a job. But if you approach a professional and ask him/her about job opportunities and nothing else, you’re going to burn the bridge.

It’s fine to mention that you’re job searching and looking for opportunities, but remember that our field is about relationships. Take time to build connections before asking professionals to help you find a job.

I’m willing to help anyone who takes time to connect and build a relationship with me, and I know my colleagues feel the same way. So reach out. Learn about the professional’s current responsibilities. Ask for job search advice. Seek on-the-job tips from him/her.

Don’t: Connect your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

Unless 70 percent of your tweets focus on industry-specific links, sending tweets to your LinkedIn feed isn’t a savvy idea. If you tweet several times per day, you’re flooding your contacts’ LinkedIn feeds with information that may not be relevant.

As a student, do you really want your LinkedIn network to have direct access to what you’re eating for dinner that night? Do you want your drunken Thursday night tweets showing up on their LinkedIn feeds at 7 a.m. Friday morning? (Drunk tweets and private accounts are another blog post for another day…)

Do give yourself the option to share relevant tweets with your LinkedIn network by adding the “#in” hashtag to your tweets. If you’re not sure how to enable this feature, check out Twitter’s tutorial. 

Do: Fill out your entire profile.

I know recruiters who do more than half of their scouting through LinkedIn. Use this to your advantage by making it easy for them to find you.

Fill out your title. Add your industry. Write a short, concise summary using strategic keywords. Choose your skills and expertise tags.

Professionals: What advice would you offer to graduating seniors? Can you share some best practices?

This post was inspired by Faye’s LinkedIn etiquette post. Check it out and learn how to be on your best LinkedIn behavior. 

Every time I log into Facebook, I’m overwhelmed by a stream full of personal life details.

A childhood acquaintance shares every little detail of her pregnancy. A college classmate complains constantly about how much he hates his job. Another friend shares a stream full of passive-aggressive tweets, which seems to point to a lack of closure post-breakup. Another woman shares way too many details about her failing marriage. And a friend-of-a-friend uses his status to declare his love for his girlfriend and his intent to be with her forever and ever.

When I scroll through my news feed, I get this overwhelming feeling that I’m intruding on people’s personal lives. It’s slightly annoying: and if we’re being honest here, it’s a little uncomfortable.

I don’t think sharing nitty, gritty life details  is a bad thing; social networks are all about connecting with people in a more personal way. But I’m starting to realize that maybe- just maybe– we’ve gotten too comfortable with allowing acquaintances to join our networks and delve too deep into our personal lives.

The instances I mentioned above, like the pregnant woman or the individual going through a divorce, are using Facebook to share tidbits that would normally be shared with a tight-knit group of trusted family members and friends. But instead, they’ve decided to entrust their intimate moments with a wide network of acquaintances and friends-of-friends: including me.

When posting, I think it’s a good rule of thumb to ponder: Does everyone I’ve allowed in my network need to know this? If the answer is no, then feel free to share your information with friends and family via email, texts or Facebook messages. Believe it or not, e-mail isn’t extinct, my friends.

So what do you think? Have we lost the point of social networks? Have we let too many people into our personal lives? What’s the fine line between being personable and sharing too much?

It’s hard to believe my post-college job search was in full force this time last year.

I’ve said it before, and I still think it reigns true: The job search feels like a full-time job. So when you mix job searching with finishing classes, interning and trying to enjoy the last few months of college, surviving past graduation can feel like an impossible feat.

In honor of my job-searching friends back at Kent State, I’d like to offer a few tidbits to make your search semi-manageable:

Devote scheduled time to job searching every day.

If you don’t manage your time, you’re going to become overwhelmed. (Believe me: Wasting hours per day on job boards is not worth your time! I know from experience.)

Set aside a certain time period every day (perhaps half an hour in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening) to search job boards, follow leads, fill out applications and write cover letters. Your sanity will thank you.

Narrow your target location.

My friends who said they’d move “anywhere” were the ones who had the most problems finding full-time, permanent positions. Being flexible is great, but applying to every job that comes across your computer screen isn’t an effective strategy. Narrow your job search to a few target locations.  This will make it easier for you to find relevant positions and activate your network in those areas.

Tell everyone you’re looking for a job.

I’m not kidding. Tell your hair stylist. Tell your chemistry professor. Tell your best friend’s dad.

People know people who know people. Simply mentioning you’re searching for an entry-level position could lead you straight to your dream job- or at least to valuable connections who will help build your network.

Schedule informational interviews.

If your dream employer doesn’t have any available positions at this time, don’t sweat it. Schedule an informational interview. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door and make a connection. Who knows! That company might have an opening in a few months, and if you took the time to make a connection, you could be the first candidate who comes to mind.

Harness the power of a hand-written note.

Don’t underestimate the power of a hand-written note! Thank everyone who helps you throughout your job search, whether it’s a young pro who proofreads your cover letters or a contact who helps you receive a phone interview. Stores like Target and Hallmark sell inexpensive thank-you note packs, so invest today.

During my senior year at Kent State, a professor prompted my PR Campaigns class to write letters to our future selves. The letters touched on many subjects, ranging from lessons learned in college to our dream jobs. We sealed up the letters with a promise that they’d be mailed to us in one year.

I received my letter to my “future self” several weeks ago, and I couldn’t help but smile at my ramblings. It’s crazy to truly realize how much can change in one year. And believe me: I would have never guessed that my career would take me down this path.

After a short stint in state government, I am leaving the public sector and beginning an awesome opportunity as a marketing/public relations/social media chick for a Columbus-based graphic/retail design firm.

I am incredibly blessed by the people I’ve met and the lessons I learned while working in state government. I had the opportunity to write content for some VIPs and work on a few once-in-a-career projects that will help companies create and retain jobs for thousands of Ohioans. But for many personal and political reasons, I’m pressing on and am ready to begin this new adventure.

So in honor of the letter I wrote to my “future self” on Dec. 16, 2009, I would like to offer a few words of wisdom to my “college self”:

Dear College Self:

Here are a few things you’ll need to know as you transition into post-grad life:

  • Always see change as an opportunity. Don’t be afraid of jumping into the uncomfortable.
  • When you’re offered a salary for your first big-girl job, don’t get too giddy about those five digits. Please remember that your paycheck will dwindle thanks to a little thing called “taxes.” Retirement and health care expenses will eat at your shoe/Starbucks/new couch fund, too. Welcome to reality.
  • Even after four years of case studies, campaigns and news releases, you know absolutely nothing. These skills are merely tools. Use them to survive in the real world.
  • Don’t be afraid to involve yourself in projects that don’t fit your typical job description. Every task is an opportunity to learn, making you a stronger public relations/marketing professional in the long run.
  • Office politics exist everywhere. Avoid becoming involved in them at all costs.
  • Always stay true to yourself, and stand your ground.
  • Constantly strive to build and strengthen your network. You’ll be amazed at the role it will play as you begin searching for jobs.
  • The more you learn, the more you’ll realize you don’t know much of anything.

Sincerely,

Your Future Self

So if you had to write a letter to your college self, what would you say?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” -Helen Keller

When I wrote this post in January 2010, many friends and mentors encouraged me to explore my options in the post-grad job search.  Although I considered a career in Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Chicago, my heart was set on moving to Columbus.

After two months of interning in Columbus and searching for jobs, I am happy to announce that I am employed as a marketing and social media specialist with the State of Ohio!

Image Courtesy of dan418 at sxc.huWhen I graduated and moved to Columbus on a whim, I honestly wasn’t sure if I made the right decision.  I didn’t know what my future held, and I was afraid I’d have to move back home at the end of my summer internship.

My post-grad decision was a risk, but it was certainly one worth taking.  I feel so blessed to have an awesome network that supported me as I explored career opportunities.  I’m more than ready to begin my career!

I can think of a million posts (maybe I’m exaggerating) I’d like to write about what I learned during the post-grad job search… and I will write.  Soon.  At this point, I think I could write a book about how essential your network is when searching for internships and jobs.  But that’s another post for another day!

PR graduates: How’s your job search going?

“New marketing is about the relationships, not the medium.” – Ben Grossman, founder of BiGMarK

I periodically use FriendorFollow, a tool that allows Twitter users to see who they’re following and who isn’t following them back, to keep track of my Twitter contacts.  Although I rarely unfollow users, I sometimes choose to do so if the account is inactive or if the user isn’t engaging.

While recently visiting FriendorFollow and taking a quick look at my friends who aren’t following me back, I realized 70 percent were organizations.  These businesses ranged from professional services (public relations agencies, communications/social media freelancers) to companies that cater to consumers (restaurants, retail stores, etc.)

friendorfollow

This realization made me wonder: How does an organization gain value/bring value to me as a consumer and/or professional if it isn’t following me back?

Should a consumer have to blast a whiny tweet (“My service at ‘x’ was horrendous last night…”) or suck up (“Like, OMG! You’re like, my fave store everrrr!”)  to get a follow?

I’ve read tons of blog-based discussions about whether certain businesses should build an online presence.  In my opinion, the line is clear: A consumer-focused business should not be on Twitter if it cannot devote the time/resources to engage its audience.

I was recently impressed by @CupoJoeCoffee, a Columbus coffee shop with multiple locations.  I love Cup O’ Joe’s coffee, and I began following its Twitter account.  The account followed me back promptly, and several days later, it replied to one of my statuses.  My 140-character update had nothing to do with coffee, but Cup O’ Joe’s comment let me know that it was listening to what I had to say.  And to me, that exemplifies a company that’s interested in engaging its audience.

The web is constantly changing the way companies interact with consumers, and this generation craves interaction.

So that’s my ramble of the day: If your business is on Twitter, find ways to be engaging. (And please: Auto DMs don’t count as “reaching out” to your audiences.)  Don’t create an online presence just to blast robotic tweets; take time to find your audience and interact with users.  You’ll be surprised by how much you learn through a little interaction!

(Side note: @crimsoncup and @DSWShoeLovers are also excellent Columbus-based examples of companies that actively participate in online conversation.)

Feel free to share your experiences with consumer-focused organizations on Twitter.  Who’s doing it right?  Who’s doing it wrong?

No matter where I'm living, I keep this quote magnet on my fridge.

Although they can be cheesy, I’m a sucker for inspirational quotes slapped on magnets, coffee mugs and note pads.

Just like a simple “I love you” or short, snarky e-mail can positively or negatively affect your mood, a to-the-point motivational quote can turn any Debbie Downer attitude upside down.

Last week, I came across an inspirational magnet that mentioned an Eleanor Roosevelt quote.  The magnet read,

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

I know I’ve heard this quote several times, but it didn’t have real significance until now.

As you progress through elementary school and make your way through middle/high school, you’re taught that college is the “gateway” to success.  You’re disillusioned into thinking that if you pursue a college degree, you’ll graduate in four years, instantly land a fabulous job, buy a house and live the American dream.

I consider myself a realist, so I knew the transition from college to the “real world” wouldn’t be full of sunshine and rainbows.  I worked hard in college and hoped my academics, internships and extracurricular activities would help me land an entry-level public relations position before I graduated from Kent State University in May 2010.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen: and it was scary.  I knew I could move home and live with my parents until I accepted a full-time position, but  I wanted to pursue a career in Columbus.  So I brushed my fears aside, packed my bags, left my family and friends in my small northeast Ohio town and headed to the city for my dream internship in a field I love: health care public relations.

Nothing beats lunch outside the Ohio Statehouse!

I’ve been living and interning in Columbus for almost one month now, and although it was scary, I am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the risk.   I absolutely love my internship, and to my surprise, I enjoy city living.  I’ve had to sacrifice some of the things I love to make ends meet, but I know I made the right decision.

So that’s what this blog is about: My journey from PR student to PR pro in a new town.  I plan to discuss anything and everything that’s on my mind, from obnoxious city bicyclists to social media measurement.  Feel free to stop by and join the conversation!