You’re graduating, now what?

As we head into the last few weeks of school and are about to head to the real world, what are some lessons that you’ve learned from class, internships, or just life?

 

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Future Grads, It’s Time to Get Our Stuff Together.

College Graduation Typographic Print. Never Stop Learning by thedreamygiraffe, $18.00It has been a long time since I have last posted. Over a year. Wow.

As one can imagine, a lot has happened in a year. If I could summarize some main highlights, they would be:

1. Went to Seattle and interned at Project Bionic.

2. Realized that I like Seattle, but I love California.

3. Started my senior year of college.

4. Started interning at DGWB in their PR department.

5. Realized that I love PR and want to work in this industry.

And finally…the job hunt begins. As my senior semester begins and I count down the months until I need to become an independent, established “adult,” it can be difficult to not become overwhelmed and live too far in the future. One of the more frustrating situations a senior can be in is the strange tension between “I am applying for jobs too early and everyone is looking for the position to be filled immediately” and “Oh crap it’s May and I have no idea what I am doing with my life.”

I understand that frantic pressure. It feels like you have so much to do but you are not able to do it yet. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Some things that you can start to do and continue doing up until graduation are:

  • Network and introduce yourself. If you are not already active on LinkedIn, get on it! As you become an adult and a working individual, you will realize how important it is to have people in your network. When that dream job pops up on LinkedIn and you want to make yourself stand out, network with somebody who already works there. If you want a marketing position and the Director of Marketing happens to be in your network, reach out to him or her and introduce yourself! There’s nothing wrong with putting in the extra initiative, even if doesn’t guarantee yourself a job. (Make sure you are friendly and not annoying. Nobody wants to feel like they are being used.)
  • Ask your professors to sit down with you to discuss your performance. If you are a journalism major, sit down with the journalism chair. Have her critique your writing, your class participation, and ask his or her genuine opinion of you. If you feel inclined, ask your professor for a letter of recommendation. Those can come a long way in the battlefield of post-grad job hunting.
  • Research salaries of similar jobs that you are seeking. Most employers ask what your desired range is. As somebody who has never negotiated salary with a potential employer, it is a good idea to research what a solid salary range could be for an entry-level professional. One site to use is Glassdoor, which allows employees to post anonymous reviews about a company and its salary and culture.

Rest assured that you are not alone, you are almost there, and you can do it! Make sure to take extra steps in making yourself stand out and look prepared. Good luck!

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How Twitter connects us to the Big Leagues

 

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Image via interviewing.com

For those of you who only use Twitter to voice your thoughts and opinions, please reconsider. Twitter is a tool that can be utilized for your advantage, and can be used for more than stalking your favorite celebrity. (Why yes, I am guilty of that too.)

Most major brands are on social media. If you are a PR person, I will bet that the firms that you are interested in and working with have an online presence. Often, when sending inquires about jobs or internships, many people run into the frustration of sending their resume to the “info@company.com” email, which I personally have found ends up lost in cyberspace somewhere.

To fully get yourself out there, you need to maximize the tools that you have. If you have a Twitter account, you are already half way there. You use the same platform as the company you are interested in, so the playing field is even. If the firm is a small startup, there is a huge chance that your question will be heard. I have started many conversations with local PR and marketing firms with a tweet. Just a simple mention or sharing their content will put you on their radar.

If you find a firm that you are interested in, tweet something like, “I am interested in knowing if you have summer internships at @samplefirm. Who can I contact?” At least putting yourself and your name out there will get you noticed. Do not be afraid to reach out and try. The worst thing that could happen is you do not get a response, in which you find another outlet to reach them.

Remember, social media is a tool. Ultimately, it depends on the people who use it. Use Twitter wisely, and it can benefit you greatly. I have made multiple connections through Twitter that I would never have made on my own. These tweets can lead to emails, LinkedIn connections, and potentially a job!

Have you ever connected with someone on Twitter that you never would have been able to on your own? I would love to hear more about it. 

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DIY Marketing: How Macklemore is changing the game

So, I may be biased, but it’s true. Macklemore is changing the game of music marketing. I have been a fan of Macklemore for a while now, but he recently has blown up the hip hop scene. For those of you who do not know who Macklemore is, he is a Seattle based rapper who began his career in 2000, but did not start to see fame until 2005, after a battle with addiction along with pairing up with producer Ryan Lewis. His newest album, “The Heist” hit iTunes #1  within hours of being released. His lyrics are rooted in things deeper than girls and cars, which is why I personally love him so much. (Seriously, check him out!)

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Macklemore (right) and Ryan Lewis

He is a great example of DIY marketing. Without a record label, Macklemore and his team have sold out shows across the nation, making him a wildly successful indie artist. How does he do it?

Macklemore knows his fan base. Since the beginning, Macklemore’s raps have been targeted towards audiences that are interested in social issues. His fan base originates from the Seattle area, and through powerful word of mouth, his fans have spread all over the country. Along with knowing his fans, he is a part of the community. If you follow him on Twitter, you will see that Macklemore consistently engages in events in the Seattle area, whether it be tweeting about Dicks, a local burger joint or putting on a secret show for his fans. He heavily relies on his fans and social media to spread the word, without pulling Justin Bieber publicity stunt-like campaigns

Lastly, Macklemore stays true to himself. His lyrics explain it all. In the song “Jimmy Iovine,” Macklemore explains to his fans how he would rather make it in the industry on his own than be taken advantage of by big record labels. His insistence on being true to himself and not compromising for money makes him appealing to fans.

This is definitely something applicable to someone looking to make it in the PR industry. It is easy to compromise for the sake of making it. Whether it means taking on a client that represents values you do not agree with or writing something that you know is false for a client, staying true to your personal convictions is much more worth it than selling out for quick fame or money. Know your audience. Serve them well. Stay true to yourself. These are just a few things I have learned from Macklemore to apply to my career.

Want to learn more about Macklemore and his DIY marketing techniques? Watch this documentary here

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Blogging: Why it’s important and how to do it dynamically

So, chances are, if you are reading this right now, you have a blog yourself. In my PR writing class, we recently went over the topic of a blog versus a website. It may sound simple enough. A website offers static information like office hours or contact information. A blog however, is expected to be dynamic. Things are supposed to move and change. Readers should be engaged and constantly checking back for more.

Now I feel pretty guilty. The last time I blogged was in September and it is almost mid October. Sometimes, as much as I want to always be writing about PR in my daily life, I simply can’t. We all know life gets busy, and the last thing I want to do when I come home after a long day is carefully craft my thoughts online. I need to get better at that and I apologize. However, when I do make a post, I want to make sure it is beneficial to my readers. With the help of some PR learning, I have made a list of what makes a solid blog post. I hope it’s helpful!

  1. Don’t reveal all your information at once. If I was a PR guru, (which I am most definitely not,) I could potentially have a great amount of information to share. If you have a lot of knowledge about something, don’t give all of it at once. You want to keep them wanting more.
  2. Be a resource. I am a firm believer that a blog should not just be about yourself. When blogs first started out, they were all about online journaling, but with Facebook and Twitter, enough people are sharing there most intimate details online. Please, spare us. Keep your posts about helping your readers. You should offer them something of value that makes them want to come back. If you are all about fashion, posting fashion ideas and outfits will inspire your readers. If you blog about food, share your favorite recipes. It should be about something your readers do not know and them coming to you to receive knowledge and inspiration.
  3. Include photos and links. With the attention span of the average reader something like ten seconds, (okay I made that up,) it is more important than ever to keep your readers engaged with links and photos. Not only does it make your page look nice, but photos capture attention immediately while links keep readers engaged after they are done reading your post.
  4. Be personable. This is my favorite. This is your blog. Don’t be afraid to share your personality on your blog and allow your readers to get a feel for who you are as a person, not just a company or a brand. The more your readers feel like they can connect to you, the more credibility you will have with them, hopefully resulting in more likes and shares.

Visit my Good Reads page for some of my favorite PR, fashion and lifestyle blogs. Happy reading!

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Things you will do in PR that nobody told you.

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I have only been immersed in the world of public relations for about a week now, but so far, I have learned quite a bit about what it means to actually practice public relations.

 

1. You will be told no- A lot. Chances are you will not be starting out with the world’s most popular client. Everybody is interested in knowing about Apple’s new news. I can’t say the same is for a new startup that makes eco-friendly iPhone cases. When pitching to the media, it is important to remember that for every fifty people that tell you no, it will all be worth it when that one outlet says yes. 

2. You have to make news. It can be difficult sometimes to come up with something that the media would want to deem “news-worthy,” especially if your client is not the most “ground breaking.” (Hello PR cliche!) Try to think of ways that you can angle a story to make it something that could be considered news. There is a difference between angling and lying. Never make something up to be news, but rather angle it differently. If you know that your client is new in the cookie industry, pitch to media that would be interested in cookie news! (I am always interested in cookies.) Everyone dreams of being on the front page of a famous newspaper, but remember to be realistic and spend your time where there can actually be a successful outcome. 

3. There are a ton of details. It may seem that the only thing PR people do is pitch and write press releases and mingle and throw events, but that is absolutely false. While those are large portions of working in public relations, a lot of tiny things go into executing PR correctly. Tons of emails are sent to clients, customers, bloggers and media. Conference calls are the norm and scouring the web for media outlets to create calendar events have become second nature to me. Let’s not forget about sending samples out to media and press clipping. A lot goes into public relations. Be prepared to wear lots of hats, juggle and have the time of your life!

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PR Writing 101: There is always more to learn

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I am taking Writing for Public Relations this semester, and the course is already kicking my butt. Everything I thought I knew about writing for PR flew out the window in the first class. Our first homework assignment felt more like a semester project, and by the time I finished, I felt exhausted and humbled.

When it comes to writing for PR, one can not assume that all four years of English class in high school will suffice. Journalistic writing is different than school writing, and it takes time. One thing I have learned in my short time in this class is that there are a lot of steps that go into writing one tiny thing. In one of my exercises, I had to write a mock letter to a local key public about joining a scout troop. It seemed simple enough when I started, but I did not realize how many steps there are in PR writing. Here are some things to consider when writing a letter in PR:

  1. There is no such thing as a generic audience. Even if it feels like you know the audience you are writing for, you probably don’t. Take time to think about who you are trying to reach. What are the demographics? Age, gender, ethnicity and social status play a part in effectively reaching an audience. Think about who you are doing this for and how you want to change his or her opinion.
  2.  Use simple language. Nobody wants to feel dumb when reading. When people are reading your content, they are doing you a favor. Please don’t make them work harder than they should have to. You can do this by avoiding flowery language and keeping the message short and simple. The gathering will adjourn as the sun sets at six o’clock this impending Saturday will turn people off. A simple The meeting is this Saturday at 6 p.m gets the point across quickly without any confusion.
  3. Use an active voice. I catch myself using passive verbs all the time. Passive verbs mean that the action is being done to the subject instead of the subject doing the action. Use Tom will read the book (5 words) instead of The book will be read by Tom (7 words.)
  4. Research before writing. Before you write your first draft, research as much as possible. Look up more information about your audience. Find out details about your organization. The more equipped you are, the more credible you appear and the more confident your writing will be.
  5. Check yourself. Before you submit your final work, take a double look. Make sure that your formatting is correct, you are using AP style and there are no grammatical errors. Whether it is for a grade or for your job, you as a public relations practitioner want to represent yourself professionally and let your professor or boss know that you are taking your work seriously.

Have fun and get creative! The beauty of writing is that you can formulate infinite things with words. Follow the rules but put your own flair in your writing as well. Do you have any advice or tips about PR writing that you have put to use?

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A Thin Line between “Likes” & “Follows”: Social Media & Your Career Search

 I am so excited to introduce my first guest blogger today! Jess and I met through social media (check out my post inspired by our relationship on her own sweet blog,) and has been such an encouragement to me. Enjoy!

 Hi world! I’m Jessica, and today I’m guest blogging for Meilani (who is also guest blogging for me, go check her out!)—and I am super excited, so let’s get right to it. Today, I want to talk about social media and how it is reshaping entering careerists and how you can keep up with the changes and get yourself a job.

In the past, it used to be that you saw a job (or heard about one) and you either faxed in or went to the location and handed in your application and/or resume, had your interview and either you did or did not have a job—not so much today! All it takes is one click and an employer can pull up all sorts of information about you: where you went to school, where you used to work, your friends, the last time you got drunk, how much you hate your boyfriend…you get the picture, right? In this digital day and age, you have to worry about TWO reputations: your real-life one and your online one.

Let’s get a few facts straight: social media can HURT or HELP you: trying to get a career in PR? Having a Twitter or blog with well-written industry content and an online portfolio can put you a huge step ahead of the competition. Social media also allows you unprecedented access to firm CEO’s and industry recruiters; follow them, retweet their thoughts, share their blog posts, engage with them and put your name in their heads. And with the sheer number of channels and networks you can connect on (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), there is a chance the firm you want to intern at or work for is social and that gives you the tools you need to get your foot in the door.

Here are a few words of caution to help you on your social journey: be polite, be truthful, remember to toe the line between self-promotion and introducing yourself, grammar rules apply everywhere, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all and last but not least, an inactive profile is just as bad as no profile, if you’re going to be social, COMMIT. Well, that’s what I’ve got for you today, I hope you can benefit from what you’ve read and you’re inspired to make things happen.

Until next time: XOXOXO, Jess_AsPRing

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Jessica Sims is an entry-level PR & Social Media enthusiast just trying to get her pitches read…follow her career exploits on her blog and on her Twitter @Jess_AsPRing.

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Your Self Promotion Doesn’t have to be Selfish

image via yahoo images

It’s not really all about you. Well, okay it kind of is. The topic of self promotion can be tricky. You are just starting out as a young professional. You have some experience under your belt, a great blog with original content and some hand crafted tweets. You know your work is great, but it would be even greater if other people knew it too. The question is, how do young professional self promote without going overboard?

When it comes to self promotion, it is always best to evenly spread out. This means layering your notices rather than bombarding people with your information all at once. If you are really proud of your blog and want to share it with people, angle your promotion in a way that benefits your followers, not you. Instead of letting everyone know you spent all afternoon blogging, introduce your blog in a way that might interest followers. Make it so that you are offering great information rather than asking others to follow you.

Make sure all your tweets are not shameless self promotion. If you let your followers know your newest article has been posted, let it be. Allow some time to pass before you remind followers of your new article. Then reword your self promotion. For example, if your first tweet says “Interested in social media but don’t know where to start? Check out this post for tools, tips and more: http://www.example.com” If you want to share the article again later, be creative and change it up. “Attention social media newbies: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn tips for beginners here: http://www.example.com”

A great way to have your work shared is to mention other people. If you wrote about social media and featured a quote from a fellow social media expert, mention them when you tweet your link. Chances are that person will read your post (who doesn’t want to read things that they are featured in?) and possibly retweet to his or her own followers. The greatest credibility comes from outside third parties, so if someone else is promoting your material, that is infinitely more credible than your own self promotion. If you promote others as well, they are likely to promote you back to their followers.

Use LinkedIn and Facebook to promote yourself. Much like Facebook, LinkedIn offers “status updates” for users. If you want to share your work with your professional connections, link up your new material to share. Chances are someone will click on your link if they like it, they will share it through their own social media outlets.

My final tip is to integrate innovative media to promote yourself. Now more than ever, visuals control the attention span of the public. Instead of sharing your black and white resume to your Twitter followers, try using Vizify, a free online graphical biography that creates an interactive portfolio of your information. It is like your personal resume/infographic. Once you have your Vizify account, share it online and invite others to join you. Don’t forget to include others even when you are promoting yourself.

Remember, the key to self promotion is to offer yourself as someone who benefits others. Even though you are trying to get yourself out there, keep in mind that nobody likes to be friends with someone that only talks about them self. Treat your self promotion like you would in real life. There is always an exchange of information and conversation. Just be natural and patient, and soon you will find yourself with a loyal base of followers. Best of luck!

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How to Tweet to your Potential

I recently wrote a post on what not to do on Twitter. Today, I want to share my tips on how to tweet correctly, because believe it or not, there is an art to this.

My number one rule for Twitter is to share good content. Good content can be found in a lot of places. It could mean sharing an article, retweeting, or posting an infographic picture. But how should you structure your tweet when sharing this content? Remember, you only have 140 characters to share this content, so your tweet needs to connect with your followers and draw them in. What I like to do is state my opinion or share a brief preview of the article I am sharing. For example, when I recently shared an interesting article about the methods Americans use to commute to work, I gave a little blurb before sharing the link.

Another way to improve your tweets is to give proper credit. I found the article through Starbucks Melody, a Twitter user who tweets about Starbucks and Seattle life, two things that I am interested in. I did not retweet her, but because she was the reason I found the article, it is basic etiquette to give her credit. It also allows your followers to check out her profile as well, which is great publicity.

This brings me to my favorite use of Twitter, engaging in conversation. Twitter is not a 140 character monologue. It is a great way to connect with people that you would not be able to otherwise, and create great online relationships that could evolve into future connections and maybe even friendships. I follow a few CEOs and founders of PR agencies that I admire and would love to work for in the future, and because I make an effort to retweet their content and respond to their tweets, a few have followed me back and engaged with me as well. This may not mean a guaranteed job, but it is a great way to get yourself on their radar before you even apply. Just be careful and remember that your Twitter followers are potential bosses and clients, so watch your Tweets!

Now, be mindful of your timezone. According to this article by Ragan, the best time to tweet is 5 p.m EST. For those of you who live on the East Coast, feel free to skip this paragraph. Just kidding, please don’t! For the rest of us, be mindful of when you are sending your tweets. Someone checking their phone in New York at 9 a.m probably won’t be reading real time tweets from someone in San Francisco, (unless you’re glued to your phone and tweet at the crack of dawn,) so if you must, schedule some tweets using Buffer or Hootsuite. This goes the same way for West Coasters and beyond. If you live in Hawaii and are tweeting about the new episode of Modern Family, it’s going to be 11 p.m in California and 2 a.m in Chicago. If you have something important you want to share and are hoping for the maximum number of readers, be wise and consider the time differences.

My last tidbit of Twitter advice is to be personal. Don’t be afraid to add some of your personality into your online presence. Upload a fun profile picture. Create a witty bio. Twitter may be for sharing content, but it is also a place to promote yourself and your uniqueness. There are 175 million registered users on Twitter. How do you stand out? I find that a great way to bring a little you to your twitter is to link your account to your instagram and FourSquare. I always find it interesting to see where people are spending their time out and about. For instance, I follow Emily Thousand, a Social Media strategist living in Seattle who often checks in around the city. As someone who wants to move to Seattle herself, it is fun to see other people in the industry getting out and living their lives as well. It is always smart to remember the 80/20 rule: Tweet about your niche 80% of the time, and the other 20%, have fun! Allow your followers to get a sense of who you are.

What do you think? Have you ever made a personal connection through Twitter? How often do you check out other people’s pictures they post? Remember, Twitter is not just for celebrities and teenage girls. Get out there!

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