Fresh Ideas from BurrellesLuce
Those who were seniors this past year are now graduated and moved on, leaving room for the next class of future PR professionals to fill their shoes—to take next steps on the path of their PR student career. So, what should they be doing during summer break? Listed below are a few items that came to my mind (but I’m hoping some of our PR pro friends will chime-in with additional tips):
- Set short-term goals. For example, attend at least one professional industry networking event over the summer. Or, read industry blogs and/or articles and comment on at least one each week.
- Set long-term goals, write them down and number them in order of importance. For example, attend at least one industry professional networking event per semester. And/or get involved with on-campus pre-professional organization (like PRSSA or AMA).
- Work on your portfolio. Gather writing samples–or create some by volunteering to write a guest blog post, or better yet, start your own blog. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, research papers, newspaper clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. If you haven’t yet created an online portfolio, do so. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you will be come graduation time. NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.
- Practice your elevator speech. You should have a 30-second spiel that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills but rather what you can offer to a potential employer. Practice OUT LOUD. Use your smartphone to record yourself so you can play it back and make improvements.
- Clean-up and hone your online presence—including your social media accounts. Google yourself (be sure to ‘hide personal results’ by clicking the globe in the upper right)–and don’t forget Bing and Yahoo!. If the first page results do not represent who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. This is even more important if you have a common name and can easily be confused with a dubious doppelgänger. Seek out and follow industry leaders so you can network and learn from the professionals, not just fellow students.
- PR professionals must view themselves as “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should present a cohesive message. Work on ensuring that all these match your “brand.”
- Research agencies, organization, companies that you would like to intern with or work for. Reach out to them and request an information interview. Face-to-face is best but Skype or Google+ Hangouts work, too. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest.
- If you have free time, volunteer at a local non-profit organization and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. This is experience—it all counts!
What else should students (or young PR pros) be doing in preparation for their career? If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) to progress your career? We want to hear from you.
What will be the next big “game changer” for communicators? And, how do we use it and interact with it correctly? These a few other questions were on the minds of the attendees to the first xPotomac conference on February 25.
Several presenters discussed Google and the newly announced Google Glass, and how the innovation will allow users to get their heads up. Keynote Vanessa Fox, CEO Nine by Blue, started the discussion with our habit of using Google, and how hard habits are to break. Geoff Livingston, author, marketer and xPotomac founder, along with Patrick Ashamalla, founder, A Brand New Way, said we are getting better at our Google habit. They noted one trick for Google Plus is to put your head-up to engage it. But, it will need to get smarter and begin to understand context to be truly useful. The more things are digitized, the less we are thinking. Display ads will be problematic, and the current model will need to change, especially as voice search expands.
There’s a flaw in our logic in asking Google the best way to drive traffic, because they say, “use Google.” What if Google is not the answer? Ken Yarmosh, CEO, Savvy Apps, says this came out of asking about using Bloggr vs other sites, and agrees attention + influence is what’s next . He believes the looking at other traffic over the speed of indexing is more important.
Dino Dogan, founder, Triberr, believes the next big problem is the getting distribution power away from the big media outlets like the Huffington Post. There is a movement to take back the conversation. What’s next? Dogan says it is attention + influence. He says the ground swell of peer to peer influence is taking hold. He says the noise is not coming from us; it’s coming from the big media companies.
Moving into the visual revolution, Jenifer Consalvo, co-founder and COO, TechCocktail, discussed the use of the new Twitter video service, Vine, and how many companies are actually showing some restraint and waiting for a strategy before using it. She encouraged us to look at the many how-to videos available and think of new ways to use the service. But, she reminded us to have a consistent message across all platforms. Visuals, in general, gain more engagement. Imagery is one of the biggest drivers of numbers for many platforms.
What do you think is the next big think in digital? Are you using any new technologies you can share with the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers?
Every day, my Google Reader is chock full of “how to” and “must do” articles especially when it comes to social media. We read about how important it is to “engage with our audiences.” We hear that we must be “in the conversation.” We’re told that our brand will die if we don’t have a Facebook page – just kidding, but you get the idea.
I’d like to take a step back—back to the basics. I believe many of us got onto social media sites because we thought that was the thing to do. While that may be somewhat true, some may need to re-think why they are there; and, surprisingly (to those of us in the biz), there are a whole lot of businesses and organizations that are just now getting into social media. So, let’s talk about what you should do before making that leap (or if you want to re-evaluate why you’re there).
One thing it seems a lot of folks miss is that before you start posting, purporting, and professing in social media, you should stop, look, and listen. Just like we were taught as kids before crossing the road. Here is a partial list of things to look and listen for:
Track your competitors.
- Who is saying what?
- What platform(s) are most popular in these exchanges?
Observe industry issues/trends.
- What is being talked about?
- Where are they talking
Monitor your own company/organization/issues
- Who’s talking? Are these people in my target audience or are they influencers of you target audience?
- What are they saying?
- Where are most of the conversations happening?
- When are these dialogues taking place?
- What does your company want to achieve in social media?
Once you have the answers to these questions, then you can make an educated decision about whether you need to simply have a passive presence or need to be actively involved and on what platforms. In this way, you are able to create a plan of action and decide how to best allocate resources.
As Seth Godin says, “It’s a process, not an event.” Social media is not something you should just jump in and “wing it.” It takes time, commitment and resources to be done right.
What tips would you offer someone who feels intimidated or tentative about using social media channels?
The advent of digital technology has created some pretty interesting debates over the fair use of copyrighted content and how publishers can be paid for their news contributions and protect their copyrights.
By violating copyright – even inadvertently – PR professionals can expose their organization, clients, and constituents to a number of liabilities. That is why BurrellesLuce has worked directly with publishers and other content providers (for close to 30 years) to establish use agreements that pay publishers royalty fees and allow our customers worry-free access to copyrighted content.
We are staunch supporters of commercial use of content with the expectation that those providing a similar services to ours should also pay for the use of the content. We are also long-time members of the The Software and Industry Information Association (SIIA) and believe that people, including PR and communications practitioners, should pay for commercial use of content. We have had a turnkey copyright compliance program in place since 2008 and we work to educate our customers on copyright compliance and the proper use of licensed content.
The same cannot be said for other companies in the media monitoring and evaluation space. Some aggregators, posing as monitoring services or search engines – depending on what best serves their position of the day – are not curating content, but archiving and hosting a database of publisher’s content. This creates challenges for PR and marketing pros, and some media monitoring firms expose their clients to potential liability.
At BurrellesLuce we curate content on behalf of our clients and charge a royalty. Those royalties go back to the publishers. PR professionals are understanding, more and more, why these measures are necessary. They recognize the difference between a genuine media monitoring service and an aggregator. They realize they may be exposing their organization, as well as their clients, to substantial copyright liability by using the latter.
The difference is best outlined in an article by Neiman Journalism Labs, which discusses the difference between search engines and aggregators. A search engine, like Google and its “free” business model, typically provides links to the original content and pays a licencing fee to the copyright owners, while aggregators repackage the publishers’ copyrighted material, send it to their customers, and charge their customers without paying a royalty to the publishers. As a genuine full-service media monitor, BurrellesLuce uses a business model that ensures that the publishers get paid for the use of their copyrighted content, and gives our customers the peace of mind that comes with compliance with the law.
Taking Control of Your Career: 7 Tips From ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office’ Applicable to All Genders
by Deborah Gilbert-Rogers*
As the New Year progresses, I find myself drawn to reading a number of professional coaching, personal finance, marketing and sales books. Being a bit of a book junkie and wanting to reduce clutter, I now download samples to the Kindle app on my smart phone before purchasing a physical copy. (This is one millennial who won’t give up her physical books.)
One sample captured my attention recently, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, to such the extent that I purchased and downloaded a digital copy of the book right then and there! Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, part of Dr. Lois P. Frankel’s Nice Girls series, examines the unconscious messages women are taught in girlhood – which may or may not be helpful – that are then continued in womanhood and how these behaviors and messages influence a woman’s ability to progress in her career (as well as other areas of her life).
For Frankel the emphasis is on the word “girl” not on “nice.” Dr. Frankel is the first to point out these learned behaviors are not exclusive to women and that men experience their own set of messages in boyhood that affect them in manhood. However, our culture has an insidious way of encouraging woman to continue girlhood messages and behaviors in ways that differ from men.
Here are some of the “mistakes” I think relate to most business and PR professionals, regardless of gender, and tips for taking charge of your career.
1. Not Understanding the Needs of Your Constituents: Whether it’s our client, CEO, stakeholder, customer or target audience – we all have people that we serve. It is imperative to know what they need and want. Otherwise we risk missing an opportunity by not providing value. “The trap many women fall into is thinking they know what’s best for their constituents and therefore not asking the right questions on the front end,” writes Frankel. One way Frankel suggests to overcome this behavior is to “be more concerned with doing the right thing than doing things right.” In other words, don’t be afraid to shift perspectives as new data emerge and as change is warranted.
2. Skipping Meetings: Attending meetings is just as much about personal branding and marketing as it is about the content explains Frankel. She suggests, “Using meetings as an opportunity to showcase a particular skill or piece of knowledge (provided it’s not note taking or coffee making.)” Additionally, “Ask to be invited to a meeting where you’ll have the chance to meet senior management or make a presentation about something for which you need support.”
3. Ignoring the Importance of Network Relationships: Years ago people believed that showing-up for work and doing a good job would be enough to protect their careers, explains Frankel. Unfortunately many still buy into this belief today and have been taught that building relationships at work wastes time and distracts from the job at hand. Frankel suggests actively participating in a professional association and developing relationships before they are needed. If you wait until you need the relationship, it is too late.
4. Making Up Negative Stories: As PR and communications professionals we understand the importance of storytelling and the power it has to influence audience perception and behavior. However, as women we have a habit of creating negative stories and assuming we’ve done something wrong in order to explain a mistake or why something didn’t go as planned, addresses Frankel. In the workplace, this negatively affects our ability to take positive risks and trust our intuition. Frank suggestions beginning to “replace negative stories with neutral ones” and to look at “alternative scenarios that could explain what has happened that have nothing to do with you doing something wrong.”
5. Failing to Define Your Brand: Just like corporate branding and marketing, personal branding involves defining the value you bring to the table and how you stand apart from the competition. Frankel advises coming up with three to five things you enjoy most about your position as a way to start defining your personal brand. The reason? “We tend to be good at what we like,” notes Frankel. Then relate these strengths to your position and what you bring to it. Having these statements in place will help set you apart from the competition, whether that is within the organization or externally when delivering a proposal to a client or prospect.
6. The Inability to Speak the Language of Your Business: While there are times when it is best to avoid jargon, you must still be able to use the language of the entire business. “Influence comes from knowing the business, and one of the best ways you can exercise your influence is to use language unique to your industry and profession,” writes Frankel. Beyond your area of expertise and department, familiarize yourself with the ROI, bottom line, and other performance indicators of your corporation or client. BurrellesLuce offers a great newsletter on Finance for Communicators which is available in our free resource center.
7. Using Gestures Inconsistent with Your Message: Presentation is everything. Your “gestures should be integrated with your energy,” remarks Frankel. Don’t be afraid to take up space – a behavior that runs counter to what many women have been taught. Frankel suggests “allowing gestures to flow naturally from your spoken message” and to “match your gestures to the size of your audience.”
What professional books have you read lately that you’ve found helpful? Share your recommendations here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.
Bio: After graduating from Rider University, where she received a B.A. in English-writing and minor degrees in Gender Studies and French, Deborah joined the BurrellesLuce Marketing team in 2007. As a marketing specialist she continues to help develop the company’s thought leadership and social media efforts, including the copywriting and editing of day-to-day marketing initiatives and management of the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: @BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: dgrogers