Archive for ‘Technology’:


Cyber Security: Fighting Back Against Threats

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Computer hacker stealing data from a laptop concept for network security, identity theft and computer crime

By Sydney Rodgers*

Theresa Payton is a notable expert on leading cyber security and IT strategy. As former White House CIO from May 2006 until September 2008, she is one of the leading security specialists in the nation. Payton is the CEO of Fortalice Solutions and co-founder of Dark Cubed. Both companies provide security, risk and fraud consulting services to various organizations.

At the recent Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference, Payton compared potential security risk to connecting a talking Barbie to unknown WIFI sources. According to Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC), in 2015 over 169 million personal records were exposed due to breaches. With the internet playing such a large role in daily life I wanted Payton’s insight on how to structure your brand. Below Payton gives us tips on how to expand your assets without putting them at risk.

 

How does someone determine their most valuable assets?
Your most valuable asset(s) is that information that you absolutely cannot afford to lose. It’s the most critical asset that you need to safeguard and protect either for yourself or your organization.  Lots of digital assets are considered valuable but the top 3 digital assets that cyber criminals target before and during a large event are:

  1. The schedules of notable people and their security detail assignments;
  2. Ability to spoof or fake credentials online or in person; and/or
  3. Stealing personally-identifiable information or the right credentials to access payment information and bank accounts

 

What trends do you see in breaches of security?
Over the course of my career, one item rings true over and over again. Today’s technology, by design, is open so it can be easily updated. That open design also means that a breach is inevitable, but how you plan to respond to one is not. If you create and store data, there will be cyber criminals waiting to pounce to copy it, take it, post it, ransom it, or destroy it. Offensive strategies with defensive mitigating controls work, but a purely defensive strategy is a losing strategy. For every defense you put in the path of a cyber criminal, just like a squirrel after an acorn, they will relentlessly try to circumvent your defenses to grab it.

As we live in today’s world, it would be completely negligent to only think in terms of physical or digital security as two separate entities. We discussed this in great detail at the White House that a security strategy must dovetail the two together, physical and digital, and that a one sided approach was doomed to fail.

 

What things should someone take into consideration when looking into cyber security?
An area often overlooked or widely misunderstood is the use of open source intelligence, also known as OSINT, as part of the overall strategy. 70% of data breach victims indicate that they were alerted they had a breach from someone outside their own organization. That stunning statistic reinforces why every company should target your own organization, as if you are the adversary. This approach helps you identify the information leaking out of your vendor’s connections to your data, through your own employees, or technology, before cyber criminals use that same intelligence to launch an attack against your organization.

Digitally, you can use OSINT tools to identify everything you can about the technology and people that work at your organization. You can also use OSINT to see if your sensitive data has leaked online. Physically, you can use an OSINT technique to digitally geo fence a specific and physical land area and monitor the digital traffic occurring that mentions the location. In the case of fighting terrorism, private sector companies and law enforcement can geo fence critical infrastructure, significant events, and venues and then monitor to identify terrorist capabilities, sympathizers, motivation, flash points and intentions through various OSINT tools.

 

What apps would you suggest someone use to monitor their protection?
Some apps that I use everyday are: Privacy Badger and Ghostery to protect my online browsing from 3rd party marketing firms and other snoops. I also use Threema to protect sensitive text messages.

 

Should there be differences in cyber security for personal and professional?
How you think about protecting your privacy and sensitive digital assets in your personal and work life are the same. Most of the principals that you apply in your personal life should go to the office with you and vice versa. Please make sure you are familiar with the tighter restrictions at work that are typically agreed to within employee agreements that you have signed so you don’t unknowingly break rules or put your company’s most sensitive assets at risk.

 

*Sydney Rodgers is a student at Southeast Missouri State University. She has always been interested in the communication process and social interaction and is currently studying public relations. In her spare time Sydney likes to keep up with current events and is AVP of Communication for her Public Relations Student Society chapter.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SydSpksSuccess
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sydney-rodgers-5a6305127

Confession of a Social Media Consultant

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

By Brad Wester

secret-1142327_960_720 I’ve been a freelance social media consultant for several years, and I have a confession to make.

The power of social media is a myth.

You know that great idea you have for your next Facebook post? It’s probably worthless. I’m not trying to be harsh, and I’m not saying you have terrible ideas, but take a moment to think about it. How many people are going to see that post? Hint: not enough.

In 2015, Facebook organic reach dropped from an average of 12% to under 6%. This trend has continued in 2016. Facebook’s organic reach is low and continues to drop. Reaching less than 6% of your audience isn’t powerful. It’s time to stop posting and hoping for the best. It’s time for a plan.

The power of social media has always been a myth. The true power is in the planning – it’s in the development of a social media strategy.

Posting on social media without a strategy means your posts may be missing your targeting audience. You may be posting at the wrong times, creating the wrong content and using the wrong call to actions. You could be using improper tracking methods or relying on the wrong metrics to show success. Without a social media strategy, you’re at risk of wasting time and energy that could be spent more effectively on other parts of your business. You may even be hurting the future success of your Facebook page due to poor performance now.

Having a fully developed social media strategy is essential and should include the ability to track and analyze data in each step. Tracking data will allow you to determine what social networks you should focus on, what type of content is most effective, if it’s more effective to create a wide variety of content, simply promote high performing content to a larger audience and even how much you can afford to spend on promoting your high-performing content.

More social networks, including Instagram and Snapchat, are creating algorithms to determine what content to show users. These algorithms will continue to decrease organic reach and increase competition, driving up the cost of effective social media marketing. Developing a social media strategy will help you rise above your competition.

It’s time to stop posting and start planning.

 

Byline

Brad Wester is a freelance digital marketing consultant specializing in helping small businesses create engaging online experiences that generate leads and drive sales. Follow Brad on Twitter: @wester_brad.

New Resource (Book) for Millennial Job Seekers

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

As a PRSSA professional adviser and PR student mentor, I often get questions about job searching, professional networking etiquette, cover letters, interview preparation and follow-up, and résumé writing (as well as personal branding).  Those questions are typically prefaced with “how do I …” and followed by “will you read what I wrote and give me feedback”.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I get incredible joy and satisfaction from helping and mentoring PR students and gladly do so; however, I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that I should write this stuff down so I could just send a ‘canned’ response to some of those frequently asked questions—just to save time.

 

Last Fall, I was contacted via Twitter by Danny Rubin who had just completed a book called, Wait, How Do I Write This Email? and subtitled, “Game-Changing Templates for Networking and the Job Search”.  He knew (from my bio and various social media activity) that I do a lot with PR students and thought it might be helpful. A free book? Um, yes, please! Then I completely forgot about it until a couple months later when the book arrived in the mail along with a personal note from Danny. After skimming through, I knew within minutes that this book is as good as GOLD to, not just students but young pros or really anyone—especially those who’ve been out of job search mode for some time.

 

Around that same time, I was planning the PRSA St. Louis annual Career Development Day and thought this would be the perfect opening keynote topic. Fortunately, we were able to bring Danny in for the event to speak and do a mini-writing workshop and it was so helpful I wanted to share with you a few takeaways.

 

Use the power of storytelling in your cover letters , bio, etc. (even during the interview) to make you stand out from the crowd.

  • Lead with a compelling personal story—an anecdote that you can relate to the job skills required.
  • Stories, told properly, will capture the reader’s attention and keep them reading.
  • Unique details matter!
  • A personal story will leave a more lasting impression and makes you more memorable.
  • Starting and ending on the same story (a technique that professional journalists use) demonstrate that you “get it,” and that you know how to apply these tactics in a real-world setting.

 

So how do you do this? I’ll share an excerpt from Danny’s book (Chapter 9: The Power of Stories) where he steps the reader through the six parts of a storytelling cover letter.

 

Danny’s outline for the storytelling cover letter:

  1. Open with a line that places readers into the story. Grab their attention and make them think.
  2. Include concrete details about the story. The more specific you are, the more colorful the anecdote, the more memorable you will be. Quantify your results—provide hard numbers when appropriate.
  3. Demonstrate how the story applies to the job by referring to the job description—making sure the anecdote reflect the person the company is looking to hire.
  4. Show you did your research and understand how the company fits into the marketplace by explaining how you will help the company grow its business and make it more successful.
  5. Share more of your qualities as they relate to the story. Again, referencing the job description, touch on qualities you know the company admires and show how you would be a good cultural fit.
  6. Mention your story one final time and bring the cover letter full circle.

 

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Danny offers up more than 100 templates demonstrating various scenarios and taking the guesswork out of applying these techniques.

 

Do you have an example of how you’ve done this effectively that you’d care to share with our readers? Or additional thoughts to offer?

Cross the Generational App Divide by Discovering Improvement Points

Monday, October 13th, 2014
Generation Gap Apps BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PR Software media monitoring press clipping

flickr user Jason Howie under CC BY

It happens all the time: older generations just don’t get the latest gizmos kids these days are using. What doesn’t happen every day is when there’s a conversation about it in an editorial space and the publication makes that conversation public.

That’s what news site Quartz did last week. In talking about payment app Venmo, writers under 30 said they used the app all the time and that they and their friends found it incredibly useful. The response from the over-30 crowd: “Why?!”

Venmo allows users to pay their friends for split checks, rent, whatever. The fact that one of your friends paid another can show up in your feed, like social media, or the payments can remain private. The over-30 participants in the chat remained bewildered as to why under-30s would want such information shared and why they would connect their bank account with an app in the first place.

As an under-30 myself, I’d never heard of Venmo and would probably never use it. But the over-30s in this conversation missed a crucial point, one that is frequently missed when talking to and marketing across generations: It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it, because people use it anyway.

In August The Atlantic published some findings about the most popular apps by generation, and while everyone’s top apps include Facebook and Pandora Radio, there’s a surprising (or not so surprising) difference between age groups. People over 55 play solitaire and use Yahoo! Mail, people 35 to 54 use Viggle and still play Candy Crush, users 25-34 still use Skype and have the highest Netflix usage, and people ages 18 to 24 use Kik Messenger, Snapchat, and Ifunny :).

This makes plain what most people would expect: Just as different generations respond to different words and messaging, they use different apps and interact with their smart phones differently. The Quartz discussion makes clear that for public relations pros and marketers, it’s important not to get caught up in thinking “why would you use that?” but instead to focus on the facets of popular apps that draw in users of specific age groups and leverage that understanding to reach an ever broader audience.

The most important thing to focus on is what does the app improve? Most apps that resonate with users will improve an existing procedure. Kik allows you to message your friends while also browsing news and games. This improves chatting by not forcing users to switch apps all the time. Venmo makes it easy for kids who don’t like to carry cash to easily and immediately pay each other back.

You might not be an app developer, but analyzing app use across generations can help you figure out what users and generations value and then speaking to those values.

Your Guide to Style Guide Apps

Thursday, October 9th, 2014
Guide to Style Guide Apps BurrellesLuce Ellis Friedman Public Relations PR Software Media Monitoring Press Clipping

screenshot of The Writer’s style guide app

One of the keys to consistent messaging and brand voice is having an in-house style guide, even if that guide is just plain ol’ AP style. The drawback to style guides is that, frankly, few but the wordsmiths reference them and they’re not always super accessible (who wants to carry around AP Stylebook or wade through docs to find the in-house guide?). Luckily, there are apps for that. In searching, we only found three of them, but they should be able to at least cover your basics. Here’s our mini-roundup of style guide apps.

AP Stylebook 2014

AP style is the stalwart style guide of newsrooms and the jumping-off point for most corporate style guides (at least in my experience). If you don’t want the bulk of the old-school paper version, AP has you covered with their iPhone app, though at $24.99, it costs more than the paper copy.

The app covers all your favorite spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and style guidelines and includes audio along with phonetic pronunciation guides.

The Writer’s Style Guide app

This new (and free!) Android and iPhone app puts a lot of your most burning language and usage questions right next to your Facebook app. It’s got plenty of handy entries about hyphens, ampersands, and more, but be aware that it is its own style guide and is British (for example, they prefer the British “per cent” over the American “percent,” and both of them over “%”). But it’s got great information, a section where you can input your own writing for a readability analysis, and even a fun writing trivia quiz.

APA Reference Guide

APA, aka the American Psychological Association, has its own manual of style, and its own app ($2.99) of the manual. OK, this one might not be as immediately helpful to public relations pros, but the style guide is used by a number of scientific and academic journals and textbooks.

Do you have another writing or style guide app you use?