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Hear What the Veteran Has to Say

If you’re into technology news and updates, you should definitely follow Tech Crunch. They update continuously and the articles are always pretty interesting.

OK, now on to an article that caught my eye. It’s called, “From College to Silicon Valley: Tips From a Veteran” by Pedram Keyani. I believe the primary audience is college students with engineering and other technical experience; however, the information in the article can be applied to other areas.

Photo courtesy of techcrunch.com

As the title hints to, the article is about making the transition from college life to the business world. I’ll begin with an interesting statement.

 Companies, like people, have distinctive personalities.

I thought this was a good mindset to have during the job search. The author explains that just like you don’t get along with every personality, you may not be compatible with every company that offers you a job. Keyani really stresses the importance of the fit between you and a company. It’s the same mindset I had when picking out a college.

The next piece of advice the author gives is to sample the buffet. What surprised me is that Keyani said you should never intern in the same place. I thought that if an internship went well and continued to go well, you would have a better chance of moving up in the company. It does make sense when the author considers internships as appetizers. Basically, you should try ‘mini-servings’ and get as well-rounded as you can as far as experiences and skills.

Another really important tip was about the negotiation part of a job interview. A lot the time we may be too intimidated to ask about the offer or not even thinking about it. It’s a natural feeling, but the author says you should be prepared for it any way. Another thing is that you should never just throw out a number, especially if you don’t have any prior experience with negotiating. Tell the employer that you haven’t thought of any specific amounts but would like to see what they have to offer. Just be sure to listen for the keywords, “Our final offer.”

Photo courtesy of readersandrootworkers.org

The last one I will share involves the first 100 days of the job. The author states that there will be difficulties and you will make mistakes, but you have to look ahead. Keyani actually suggests talking to a mentor or manager about the issues they came across on their first job. I think this is a great idea because more than likely they have plenty of experience to give.

Overall, I thought it was a cool article with good advice that can be modified to fit any career. On that note, I will leave you with an encouraging quote:

Instead of agonizing over your stumbles, focus on doing what you enjoy and give it your very best shot.

How Businesses Can Socialize in Micro-Size

Photo courtesy of danpontefract.com

I enjoyed reading Chapters 8 & 9 of “Engage!” I thought the chapters were easy to follow, yet had very relevant information. One of the main focuses of Chapter 8 was the “personal broadcast systems (PBSs).” The author, Brian Solis, used this word to describe the trend of microblogging and microcommunities. I thought it was a great way to describe networks like Twitter because that’s basically what it is. We’re ‘broadcasting’ our lives to our followers every time we tweet. That’s why college students should be selective in what they tweet because future employers are in the audience. Another great part of the chapter was the top 21 tips for Twitter and other social media. All of them were relevant because I see examples of it every day. Sometimes being used effectively other times being pointless. Some points that stood out to me include:

Number  1: “The trick is to concisely introduce the value up front.” When you’re only working with 140 characters, this is important in catching the audience’s attention. Whenever you’re creating promotional materials for an event that involves free stuff or money, you have to make it seen. A lot of times they say words like ‘free,’ ‘food,’ ‘win,’ and ‘money,’ should be the most noticeable words on the flyer. You only have a few seconds to get their interest before they’re on to something else. Make it count!

Number 6: “There is a major element of Twitter that’s about listening and learning.” While a business’s success in social media is sometimes dependent on engaging with the audience, another important aspect is listening. If you don’t listen to what they’re saying, you can’t contribute anything of importance to the conversation. Also, listening can help prevent crises in the future. 😉

Number 7: “It validates us more when other people talk about us than when we talk about ourselves.” Someone once told me that if you’re a good person, you won’t have to say it because others will say it about you. I think that applies to businesses too.

Number 20: Social media has become a powerful vehicle for fundraising. In 2010, Alicia Keys recruited some of her celebrity friends to help raise money for her organization Keep A Child Alive for World Aids Day. The celebrities suffered a ‘digital death’ where they weren’t allowed to tweet until the organization was able to raise $1 million dollars in donations via Twitter. They reached their mark in two weeks.

Chapter 9 talked about mobile location networking, widgets and videos. One of the main things I took from this chapter is that you have to make sure your content is relevant to your target audience. Just because the different tools are out there, doesn’t mean that every one of them will fit your message and audience.

Very good chapters!

Who Run the World? Women!

I have to say, I was really excited to find this blog. It’s one of the first blogs I began following after I created my own blog. I came across it while doing research on a product and I just loved the content. The womeninpr blog was created to help empower women practitioners in the field. They offer plenty of resources for people just starting their career and even some resources for those with experience. As a young woman looking to break into the field, this blog serves as a nice ‘starter up’ manual. The blog doesn’t clearly state who the creators are, but looking around the site you can see that several women contribute to the discussion. The two that stand out to me are the Wright sisters, owners of YES Productions & Concierge, and Danita King, principal and founder or PR Noir. The Wrights and King all seem pretty established, but they also make the point that they are continuously learning and growing in the field. I think it’s this reason why the information on this blog is so relevant to people who may just be starting out.

Photo courtesy of twimg.com

In Chapter 4 of “Engage!”, Brian Solis said that a, “blog is your hub for demonstrating expertise, sharing vision…and hosting dialogues to further the company’s values and principles.” He went on to say, “It requires continuity, cadence, and a voice that readers can connect with.”  I think this blog is a great example of that. Womeninpr is updated 2-3 times every two days, which is surprising to me compared to other blogs I’ve seen. It’s a great routine that I think users have come to appreciate.  Sometimes they are written by one of the women in PR and other times they’re written by guest bloggers like Abbi Whitaker, president and founder of Abbi Public Relations. The topics range from general PR topics like the Jan. 31 post of, “10 Ways to Build Strong Relationships with Bloggers and Reporters,” to various entertainment PR topics such as the Feb. 10 post of, “How to Begin a Career in the Entertainment Industry.” The topics are pretty relevant and will still be when I begin my career, so the information is very helpful.

A majority of the topics posted in the last week have dealt with the entertainment industry and working as a publicist, which is probably why I like the blog so much. I would like to work in entertainment PR, so it’s awesome to read insightful blogs from people who know the field.  Another great thing about the blog, is that the posts are pretty conversational. An example of a conversation blog I read is the Feb. 3 blog post, “Celebrity Representation.” The author talks about the top celebrities they would and wouldn’t want to represent. They used their own commentary which made it seem like you were just having a conversation with a friend. Even if you’re not looking to work in entertainment, the wide variety of topics can still be useful to any PR student or newcomer. Solis says, “The best corporate blogs are genuine and designed to help people.” I think this blog does a good job of helping and being genuine with its relevant and conversational content.

With such regular updates, I was happy to find that they had an archive at the bottom of the page. There was also a calendar that highlighted days that blogs were posted as well as a ‘recent posts’ section. It makes it very easy for people new to the site to navigate to earlier posts. They also have their Twitter and Facebook feed along the sides of the page to keep readers updated on all fronts. I also loved that the blog had a links page. The links included press release distribution sites, related blogs, among other cool resources to know about.

Engagement wise, the blog does a pretty good job of responding to commenters. Even the guest bloggers respond in the comments, so that’s nice. Overall, I think the blog is a good resource for students in PR, especially those going into the entertainment industry.

Where’s Everyone?

After reading Chapters 6 and 7, I saw the shared focus of how social media has made sharing so…easy. A few years ago, the only way you could share a story was through email. Now with Web 2.0, I can instantly share what I’m reading and how I feel about it. I also don’t have to wait until the next day in class to talk about something that happened because that conversation happens on Twitter and Facebook. It’s all very intriguing, especially how businesses can now take advantage of Web 2.0.

On the very first page of Chapter 6, Solis stated that images were, “One of the most understated categories of social networks.” He went on to say that it was also the most established. I agree that is understated, but I would have never have guessed it was the most established. I think this might be changing with the alarming rate that Pinterest is becoming popular. According to Techcrunch, it already has 11.7 million unique visitors a month, reaching that point faster than any other standalone site. For those who are not familiar with the social network, it’s basically bookmarking images with friends. You can upload pictures from your computer or just use your ‘Pin It’ button to pin an image you see while surfing the net onto your board. I joined because I thought it was fun, new and interesting. Now, every week there’s an article about how it can be used by businesses, journalists, you name it!

Photo courtesy of kateandaly.files.wordpress.com

Aside from the personal uses of image sharing sites, I thought JetBlue’s Flickr group was a cool idea. Allowing customers and employees to share their experiences through pictures is a great way to build the bridge between the company and its public. As Solis said, “these photos reveal the human side of the corporation.” I think the photo sharing also allows consumers another way to contribute to the conversation and the image of the company. If potential consumers see positive pictures on the site, they’re more likely to associate the airline with positive experiences and vice versa. This relates back to Domino’s having customers send in their pictures and using them for promotions or in one case, to fix any problems.

Chapter 7 focused on the various ways companies make it easier for their consumers to engage with them. Solis said, “We must produce and promote compelling material in the communities where our customers, peers, influencers and prospects are active – using the consumption methods and means that they prefer.” We briefly discussed this topic in class in Tuesday. You have to know who your audience is in order to know which social media tool is going to be most effective. Solis brought up social media dashboards. I’ve noticed more and more websites incorporating the dashboard. It’s a good way to allow consumers to choose how they would like to view the content.

I’ll leave you with a statement that is essential to any business using social media:

Go find your customers and bring them to you or participate where they are currently.

Once you know where your audience is, you can properly cater your messages to fit that network. Every message doesn’t fit every forum.

Bloggin’ the Blog

After reading Chapter 4 of Brian Solis‘s book “Engage!”, I’ve noticed he uses the word ‘bridge’ a lot when discussing social media. He stresses the importance of having bridges to allow the two-way interaction between the company and its publics. The time the company contributes to building those bridges is going to determine if social media becomes an opportunity for failure or success. He also points out that since it’s a two-way information flow, the company’s choice to ignore it or embrace it will not stop the conversation, it’s going to continue either way. Solis said, “We contribute to our perception through absence and participation. We contribute to our presence.” In other words, the amount of time and effort you put into developing your social media presence is going to reflect in your company’s image. The best method is to be immersed in the conversation so that if negative things do come up, you’re there to put out the small fires.

Another theme that comes up is the notion of ‘earning’ success in social media. Just because you create an account doesn’t guarantee your brand success. Solis stated, “…reach is not prescribed; it must be earned.” Yes, you may have the initial followers, but if you don’t keep them engaged you will lose them just as quick. Once again, the time and effort you put into communicating with your publics will determine how many people you reach.

In this chapter, Solis highlights the several different forums. The first was blogs. I’m not an avid blogger, but I do read a lot of them to catch up on the latest entertainment news. To be honest, I don’t really associate blogs with companies because sometimes they’re just miniature billboards. Solis brought up a great point when he said, “The best corporate blogs are genuine and designed to help people.” Readers don’t want to read pages of ads; we see enough of them on TV every day. I think a good method some companies use when blogging is having experts as guest bloggers. It keeps the blog fresh and it attracts different audiences.

Podcasts are amazing! I‘ve subscribed to a few channels for my favorite shows. It’s basically commentary from the producers and writers of the show. Every episode, they record a podcast to explain why they shot a scene a certain way or how the idea for a certain line came about. I really enjoy it as a listener and viewer because it lets me into their world.  It makes me appreciate the product (TV show) more because now I know what goes into creating it. I think podcasts are another great way to make the consumer feel like they’re getting exclusive information. It keeps them engaged.

Lastly, IBM’s Second Life virtual community sounds really cool! The fact that they effectively used the tools available to them and saved so much money (between $320,000 -$350,000 according to reports) is awesome. They recognized a way to connect all of their employees and executives from around the world, which was groundbreaking at the time.

Follow this link to a short video about the virtual community. Very interesting.

Another great chapter!

Where They Went Wrong…

I came across an interesting article on Clinkz.com that related back to Chapter 3 of Brian Solis’s book, “Engage.” The article highlighted the five biggest mistakes businesses make when using social media in marketing. I wasn’t surprised to find that every one of the mistake identified had been brought up in my social media class and Solis’s book.

The first thing that caught my attention was that the author brought up the major difference between traditional marketing and social media marketing that companies seem to forget.

“It involves speaking with people instead of at people.”

This is the biggest issue with some companies who try social media; they don’t understand the ‘social’ aspect. All they see is another easy way to bombard a large audience with more of their ads and specials. Solis mentions in his book that social media backfires on so many companies because they don’t take the time to recognize the difference between mail advertisements and Twitter. Until companies realize understand that difference they won’t see the true benefits of a powerful tool like social media.

Photo courtesy of jonhoward.typepad.com

While some companies are having difficulties understanding social media, there are plenty of companies who have done the research and are doing well. Let’s take a look at the top mistakes of companies who don’t do their homework and what the article suggests to fix it:

5. Talking at People and Broadcasting Versus Engaging – Don’t just follow the conversations, initiate them.

4. The “If You Build It They Will Come” Mentality – Just because you join, doesn’t mean they’ll come running. “Create a plan to attract and retain them.”

3. Obsessing Over How Many Fans/Friends/Followers You Have – I think this is very common with companies and people in general. A PageLever study showed that only 3 percent to 7.5 percent of Facebook fans actually see your posts. Rather than focusing on how many likes your page has, focus on quality relevant content and moving the engagement up.”

2. Not Being Prepared for Questions or Issues – Most companies wait to be surprised by consumers who actually ask them question or have complaints regarding their products. Don’t be that business. “Make a list of the top 10 questions you’re asked on the phone. Also make a list of the top 10 PR crises that you have had in the past five years. Be prepared to handle these on social networks.”

1. Not Having a Clear Plan – Once again, just having a Facebook page as another place to post ads and things is not going to bring much success. Know who your audience is and target their wants and needs.

Of course there are more mistakes being made, but I think the mistakes discussed in this article are a great starting point.

Cherese

I’m Ready to “Engage”

Let me begin this post by stating the obvious. Social media is no joke and Brian Solis, author of “Engage,” does a great job explaining why. Within the first couple of chapters I realized just how much I have to learn about this tool and Solis says as much in Chapter 3. It’s a continuous learning process and you have to be ready to go with it because if you don’t, you get left behind. In relation to jumping on board the ‘new media’ train, Solis mentions just joining a network is ‘child’s play.’ You have to know how to use it for your advantage or you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. You MUST put in the work!

A major point Solis made is that once you begin participating and interacting with your audience, your organization becomes more humanized. Solis said, “People don’t participate in conversations with brands: they converse with the people who are the ambassadors of the brands.” More companies are getting rid of the automated recordings and actually having representatives communicate one-on-one with the consumers. This is where you begin to form the relationships or the build the bridges between the organization and its publics, which is something Solis brings up a lot. The public feels like they’re being heard and the fact that you’re taking time out to respond or converse with them shows that you care. Continued participation can lead to trust, loyalty and long-term relationships, which should be one of the company’s main goals.

At one point Solis stated that social media is “an opportunity and a privilege.” I never really thought of it that way, but it makes sense. It relates back to the ‘child’s play’ concept that anyone can join without having a purpose. Social media is such a powerful tool and can really open up several new opportunities for companies to expand their reach or improve their product. It’s definitely not something companies should abuse.

Chapter 3 was a great chapter and I was able to take a lot from it. It’s definitely got me excited to read the rest of the book!

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