Posts Tagged ‘tips’


Breaking Up With Your First Job

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

By Kiley Herndon*

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Upon graduating from college, you will be on a desperate hunt for a job. You will likely search high and low for something in your field and interview so many times you wonder if you are starting to speak in gibberish about your experience and accomplishments. If you are like most recent graduates, you will end up with a job you took just to have one and questioning if what you studied so long and hard for was even what you wanted.

Have no fear! Better things are on their way.

Here are some things you will want to do at your first job that will help you prepare for the next one:

Always offer to help.
In your first job, you will likely not be given enough tasks to keep you busy right off the bat. New coworkers need to get use to having you around and figure out how it is they can utilize you best. So when you hear a coworker say they need something done but don’t have time, speak up and offer to help out. When there is a task that needs accomplished, offer to do it. Then, when it is time for you to take that job you always wanted, your coworkers will realize how useful you have been…and be a great reference

Always keep track of your contacts.
In college, you have likely met with a lot of really great people and gotten a lot of business cards. Keep in contact with them! Mentors are a great source of advice and jobs. Knowing someone will always speed up the hiring process.

Always focus on the end goal.
While you may be working a job that you don’t want to make your career, you can’t forget what you want in the end. If you want to do social media, but can’t get a job without experience – volunteer to do social media for a nonprofit. Blog for companies that need writers. Keep up with social media trends to make a cover letter stand out with your extensive knowledge.

Always keep up with the field you want to work in. 
Companies want to know that you are passionate and knowledgeable, especially considering your age and inexperience, so show them you know your stuff. You will undoubtedly be asked in interviews how you keep up with trends, what blogs you read, or something along the lines of inquiring whether or not you are just working or if you are learning and evolving as a professional. Experience is great, but passion is the icing everyone wants on the cake.

Always apply.
You never know what job you may think you aren’t experience for, but that actually want someone just like you. You may also interview for a job, not get it, but then be called back later!

Ending your first job will be hard, even if you don’t enjoy it. Like any breakup, leaving your first job will be like the end of a bad relationship – you know it is time to go, but all you can remember is the good. Just don’t forget that you must think of the future you in five, ten, or twenty years and where that person will be and ask yourself if you are helping to get there.

Most importantly, don’t forget to leave on good terms. Although this first job wasn’t ideal, the connections you made are vital to that future you. Give two weeks notice, if possible, organize your materials for your replacement, write-up a brief overview of what is yet to be done, if needed, and make sure everyone knows how appreciative you are of the experience.

Even if you can’t see the effect, your next employer will see your experience in your attitude and confidence that only a first job will provide. Your first job helped to break you into the corporate world that you thought you knew and helped you to learn the dynamics of a full time employee. Say thank you.

*Kiley Herndon is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She graduated with a degree in English and Applied Communication Studies. SIUE prepared Kiley to take on a job at Madison County Transit and then transition to her current role at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Her biggest accomplishment is securing a job post-college and moving into her first apartment in the city. 

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.

 

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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.

Maintaining Authenticity and Substance in Your PR Efforts

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

BurrellesLuce PR Public Relations Authenticity Substance Media MOnitoring PR Software press clipping Great public relations and marketing doesn’t come down to the slickest campaign or the catchiest slogan; as most pros know, it’s about complicated, intangible goals that take long-term cultivation and determined implementation. Two of those things? Substance and authenticity.

On Friday, PRNewser ran two interesting posts. The first, entitled “The 20 Most ‘Authentic’ Brands in the U.S. (and Why),” surveyed people on the brands they perceived as most “authentic.” The catch is, those conducting the survey didn’t define “authentic;” instead they left the definition wide open. The most consistent finding about authenticity, though, was that consumers – 87 percent of those polled – say it’s important that brands “act with integrity at all times.”

So while it can be a great and noble goal to strive for, say, innovation, only 72 percent of consumers said that innovation was necessary to being authentic.

Topping the list, somewhat surprisingly, was WalMart, followed by Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, and Target.

Brands considered “authentic” were not necessarily popular – Chase Bank and AT&T made the list, but GE did not. Instead, authenticity came from people knowing what they’re getting and brands being transparent about what goes into their products. The survey is a great reminder that people generally appreciate being spoken to like adults – being forthright and sincere, especially in a crisis situation, is far better PR than trying to bury one’s head in the sand or obfuscating facts and findings.

Later in the afternoon, PRNewser ran “B2B Clients to Firms: ‘Stop Marketing to Me!’” which shared findings from a survey from The Economist which showed that in B2B marketing, people want more substance and emotional appeal. PRNewser interviewed Ted Birkhahn of Peppercomm for his take, and he defined “substance” thusly:

Substance refers to content that adds tangible value to the audience and typically incorporates one or more of the following criteria:

1. It provides a new and credible angle or point-of-view on an issue that is topical or material to a client’s business.

2. It offers counsel and new ideas to tackle well known challenges the audience is facing.

3. It makes the executive and/or their company smarter about complex issues facing their business, industry, etc.

4. It entertains, when written in a storytelling manner that is painless to consume.

That consumers want substance is a way of saying they want more meaning – they want content that will help them do something or change something, not content that fills a social media feed for the sake of being filled. So here are some tips for being authentic and substantive:

Define your values. You can only stay true to your brand if you know what you values are in the first place. Define them and stick to them throughout all your campaigns.

Define and stick to your voice. Defining your voice goes beyond just deciding if you’re going to be snarky or sweet. It means defining your role in relation to your consumers, and then deciding how that role relates to them.

Listen to what your audience is saying. Listen to the conversations your audience is having around and aside from your brand. What do they want? What information are they not getting, or what did they react will to?

Be transparent. Especially this day in age, glossing things over or pretending they didn’t happen just doesn’t fly. In fact, it just makes it worse. Be straightforward and acknowledge incidents, snafus, or dissatisfactions. It will give your image much more long-term positivity when people know you’re willing to treat them like equals.

In this supersaturated content world, it’s hard to cut through the noise. But the best way to do that is to focus your brand voice around authenticity, substance, and meaning, and what your customers need. How do you keep your brand authentic and substantive?

3 Ways Your Brain’s Negativity Bias Affects How You Communicate

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

3 Ways Your Brain’s Negativity Bias Affects Your Professional Life Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PR Media Monitoring Press Clipping News ClippingBrains can do a lot of things computers can’t, but they still do some weird things that work against us. Take the negativity bias: our brains are built to react more strongly to negative perceptions. This means we’re more influenced by comments, experiences, or interactions we (correctly or incorrectly) perceive as negative which can adversely affect our performance.

We can work around the negativity bias, but we have to be aware of it first. Here are three ways it affects your work, and ways to mitigate that effect.

Marketing or PR campaigns

Next time you’re wording a media response, crafting a tweet, or tweaking your messaging, consider whether your audience could perceive what you say as negative. When you’re crafting words for public consumption, keep positive words top of mind and use them as much as possible, and avoid negative words.

Sit down and consider what you wrote from another angle. Try reading it out loud to see if it sounds different, and have someone else – even if they’re not familiar with your project – read it and give you their feedback. Getting a range of opinions and thinking about what you write from multiple angles could help mitigate the negativity bias.

Emails

When we’re reading emails from someone, our brains interpret messages that are neutral as negative, and messages that are positive as neutral. Part of the reason email is especially vulnerable is that there is no way to discern body language or tone of voice through a computer screen.

When you’re writing emails you want to make sure you don’t sound negative, a lot of times brevity is not your friend. Example:

That’s not what we discussed. Let’s talk.

It’s concise, but it also sounds terse and stands a good chance of putting off your recipient. Revamp:

I don’t have that listed as something we talked about. Let’s arrange a quick follow-up to make sure we’re on the same page

That sounds a lot more positive. It took you longer to type, but softening your language will ease your recipients’ negativity bias, thereby making your communications more effective.

If you’re on the receiving end of what reads like a terse or harsh email, before you get put off, remember the negativity bias: what you read as negative the sender may have meant as neutral. Consider also who it’s coming from; if it’s someone with whom you regularly interact, imagine the email in their voice and see if the negativity still holds.

Professional life

The negativity bias is everywhere, from comments your boss makes about your performance to offhand remarks from colleagues. We can even interpret negativity in compliments, such as “That’s the most compelling pitch I’ve heard from you.” Automatically we think: Well, what was so bad about all my other pitches? even though that (probably) wasn’t the intent of the compliment.

In your everyday work life, it can be hard not to let the negativity bias get you down and influence your performance. Try to move your attention to put you back in a positive frame of mind; a great exercise is to write down the things you’re grateful for in that moment.

And don’t forget to remind yourself of the negativity bias; once you know it’s there, it’s a lot easier to overcome.

5 Tips for Concise PR Writing

Monday, May 19th, 2014
flickr user Nic McPhee under CC BY license

flickr user Nic McPhee under CC BY license

Perhaps the only thing nearly as frustrating as staring at a blank screen when a press release is due is staring at a press release that’s too long by half with nothing that can be cut. Well guess what: there’s always something that can be cut, and doing so will often improve the quality of your work. Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.

So break out your red pen; it’s time to get concise.

Cut the adverbs

Oh, those qualifiers that end in –ly, they add so much flavor to a dry press release, no?

No. Reduce unnecessary words by taking the strikethrough to adverbs in sentences like “Acme is extremely passionate about … ” or “Our incredibly talented team … ”  It’s enough to say you’re passionate or talented without embellishing.  You don’t have to slash and burn every –ly word in sight, but omitting the bulk of them strengthens the few that remain.

Bonus: Cut out more –ly filler like actually, basically, essentially, very and literally.

Avoid redundancies

Redundancies sneak in when we’re not paying attention: “It’s a unique product we’ve never seen before,” “We must ask ourselves the question … “ and “Our opinion still remains …”  If something is unique, it hasn’t been seen before; if it’s asked, it’s a question; something that remains is still there.

Instead, try: “It’s unique,” “We must ask ourselves,” and “Our opinion remains.” Avoiding redundancies requires some vigilance, so it’s worth consulting lists of common redundancies occasionally to remember what to look for.

Omit meaningless phrases

“Due to the fact that for the most part press releases are, for all intents and purposes, official statements for the purpose of providing information, they are still very much important.”

Let’s look at that sentence again with the meaningless phrases removed:

Due to the fact that for the most part press releases are, for all intents and purposes, official statements for the purpose of providing information, they are still very much important.” Easily rephrased into “Press releases are official statements that provide information, and are still important.”

Meaningless phrases seem to slip right in, sometimes because we think they beef things up or lend authority, but this isn’t the case. Watch your word count dwindle when you excise phrases like these.

Get rid of “there”

“There” is not a meaningful word unless you’re pointing to a specific place. Sentences like “There are thousands of satisfied Acme customers” should read “Acme has thousands of satisfied customers” or “Thousands of Acme customers are satisfied.” There are, there is, and there were are all easy fixes for more concise copy.

Fewer prepositions

Fewer prepositions= fewer phrases = more straightforward sentences. “The idea behind our product is engagement with the community across multiple platforms” has three conjunctions: behind, with, and across. You can easily revise to: “Our product’s purpose is multi-platform community engagement.”

Do you have any tips for staying concise, or pet peeves that get you every time?