It’s time to strive for more PR pros

In three short months I will be off in the real world and whether or not I have a job is yet to be determined, but I will continue to try and develop professionally along the way. When I do get a job, it’s important not to get complacent because as PR professionals, we must coninuously hone our skills and adjust to new trends. Based on several articles I read, here is my list of what I think we need to be focusing on to broaden our skills.

1. Focus on writing!
This one isn’t really a new skills, but it’s one I always hear. While I’m not the perfect writer – I can hold my own. I have improved my writing skills immensely because I practiced – it’s the only way other than reading to become a better writing. As PR professionals we need to communicate succinctly.

2. Learn how to create and edit video
While telling stories through a written medium is important, it’s just as important to tell a story visually. A picture says a 1,000 words, but a video says more. As the world becomes more visual, PR professionals must have the skills necessary to reach their audience. If you don’t know how to use video editing software, YouTube is a good place to start.

3. Learn to code
While we might not be asked to create websites, we may need to override certain codes in WordPress or fix part of a website. It’s also a skill not everyone has, so it will set you apart from others. There is a great resource such as codeacademy which allows one to learn coding on their on through step by step tutorials.

social-media-marketing-statistics4. Embrace math 
I’ve heard the following phrase many times, “I got into PR to avoid math.” Well sorry to disappoint you, but your former math teachers were right – Math is everywhere. As a PR professional, we work with businesses whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a nonprofit, it’s still a business. In business the only way to communicate effectively is to speak numbers. They don’t care what you did, they care about the results and how many impressions the campaign received or how many sales it led to. Always think numbers and remember to analyze numerical trends to see what you’re doing well and what you need to improve.

5. Get out of your comfort zone when learning 
As PR professionals, it’s important to be well rounded because we never know who and what we have to work with. Additionally, the more we know, the more connections we can make to appeal to different people. During college, I challenged myself to take internships in different industries so I could get a feel of how each works. Working for a hospital is different than working for technology, but there are certain connections that can be seen. If there’s a subject you don’t really care for, study it anyway – you may be surprised to find that it’s not as bad as it sounds. Remember be well rounded and don’t just stick with what’s comfortable. If I did that, I’d be pursuing sports PR and I know that’s not what I should be doing right now.

6. Take initiative  
Learn. Learn. Learn. It can’t be said enough. If you can’t take coding or a design class, the only thing stopping you from learning is yourself. There are many resources online and on YouTube that can help you. If you really want to be a PR professional, go after it!

Is anybody listening? PR pros pay attention!

Listening. It’s simple, yet it’s still an issue regardless of the industry a person works in. As I was driving to Waco, I realized how much I love my car and the process it took to get this car. Bear with me, I’ll get to the point in a second. When my parents told me that I was getting a car, the first thing that came to mind was fuel efficiency. As a broke college student, there’s no way my check is going to be spent at the gas station. After doing research, I knew what car I wanted – the Nissan Versa.

The Versa wasn’t pricey, had great fuel efficiency and enough storage for travel purposes. My dad and I went to the car dealership and I told the salesperson what car I wanted, but he insisted on showing me other cars. He even lied about some of the cars fuel efficiency. Fortunately, I had my smartphone and caught him in his lies. I continued to reject every car he showed me – especially the ones I knew we couldn’t afford.

After a failed attempt we went home and the salesperson wondered why I was so picky. My dad convinced me to go back, but I told him on the condition that he listens to me. We went back and the salesman continued to show me other cars. After being there for two hours, he finally said he had something else in store – it was the Nissan Versa. After an hour the car became mine. Had he listened, it would have saved him time and effort. Oh well … now you see the importance of listening to your clients.

What can PR professionals take away from this?
Listen to your clients, don’t just hear them. Understand what they really want because anything less than that does them a disservice. You get paid to provide the best solution to their problems and the only way to really understand the problem is to listen.

time_spent_communicatingAccording to research conducted by R. Adler, L. Rosenfeld and R. Proctor, people spend 70 percent of their time communicating, but only listen 30 percent of the time. Listening is how we get useful information to solve problems, so instead of spending your time talking, actively listen to your clients. The only way to fully engage with our clients or our audience is to actively listen to them.

I was reading an article on Forbes and there was one quote that stuck out:

“Most of us don’t really listen very well. Or if we do manage to listen, we are often just waiting until the other person finishes so that we can say what is on OUR mind.”

In order to listen effectively, we have to be aware of what is being said, analyze it and properly respond with a meaningful statement. This is the only way we can serve our clients effectively. If we fail to listen, we could waste our time solving the wrong problem like the salesperson did. The hours wasted could have been utilized for another task or project for the client. A client usually pays by the hour so it’s ethical to use any resource (whether it be time or money) wisely. Failure to do so could push your client toward the competition and loss of future businesses through word of mouth.

Enhancing your personal brand

As PR professionals, personal branding is extremely important especially when we’re looking for jobs. If we can’t brand ourselves, what makes employers think that we can brand their products or services? Throughout my college career, I’ve heard the expression ‘Personal Brand,’ so many times that it’s engraved in my brain, but it wasn’t until this year that I figured out what it meant.

One of my favorite quotes about branding is that it’s what people say about you when you aren’t present. For a product or service, its what consumers think of – it’s reputation. As aspiring PR professionals, we need to strive to build and maintain our personal brand.

Over the course of last semester, I began to think of branding as more than just aesthetics. It’s more than just a theme or a color scheme, it’s about you. Here are some tips to enhance your personal brand.

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My business card

1. Keep materials consistent
This summer, I updated my website to fit the audience I was trying to target. My previous website didn’t have the clean, sophisticated feel that I wanted it to have. Once I updated my website, I used the color scheme to create my portfolio and business cards. Having a common theme makes all your materials coherent allowing people to associate you with your products. It’s what makes you memorable. It’s important to note, usernames for different social media channels should also be consistent, so it’s easier for people to find you.

2. Think about your reputation
Your personal brand is your reputation; it’s what people remember you for. This means you need to be aware of how you carry yourself not only on social media sites, but also in public. It’s important to be dependable and reliable in your internships because your supervisor’s opinion matters. Your supervisors’ possible connections or recommendations can lead to bigger opportunities. It’s also important to note that employers do conduct reference checks, so you don’t want to get into a situation where your supervisor mentions your inability to meet deadlines or how hard you were to work with. Don’t expect your supervisor to lie, because he or she won’t.

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My LinkedIn Profile

3. Constantly update your information
Just as it’s important for PR professionals to keep up with the ever changing realm of the industry, your website, portfolio, social media channels, etc., need to reflect that. It’s just as important to update your LinkedIn as it is you website. Go back every once in a while to make sure your links work, add necessary work samples and remove content that isn’t as strong. Make sure all the information is relevant and updated. Just like you don’t want to work for a company that isn’t progressive enough, employers won’t want to hire people who don’t keep up with the times. Continuous updates not only show you’re committed to building and enhancing your brand, but also that you can be trusted with developing other brands.

4. Let your personality shine
Don’t forget to let your personality shine a little bit, but don’t forget your target audience. If you want to work at a innovative creative firm, you can add more creative elements, whereas a position at a corporate firm may require you to be more conservative. Even for corporate positions, it’s okay to add elements of your personality in your social media channels, website, blogs, etc., because you don’t want to appear boring.

Personal Branding can be seen as an indirect form of self-promotion. It’s a form of bragging without being obnoxious. Remember it’s all about how you want to be remembered.

Path toward my shameless plug

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde

Germany

One of the pictures from my past

Creating my shameless plug was an unusually difficult process. Two weeks before the due date, I went home and looked through some of the pictures from my past. There weren’t many available (mainly because some were left in Germany and I never wanted my picture taken most of the time anyway), but I had enough to work with.

Fast forward a week and it was only a few days away. While I worked ferociously to avoid an all-nighter it was inevitable that it was going to happen. The journey was quite a whirlwind.

Sunday Jan. 26, 2014 
On Monday I decided to plan out how I wanted the video structured. Little did I know without a song, it wouldn’t be successful, so instead I decided to look at what work samples I wanted to include.

Monday Jan. 27, 2014
I had an extensive scholarship application due the same week and a German exam the day after the due date. I also had to worry about the PRSSA induction ceremony meaning I had no time to waste. While I successfully finished my scholarship application and studied a little for my German exam, my shameless plug was forced to take a backseat. I did decide the shameless plug would go in my digital portfolio – right under my bio.

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The bio page of my website

Tuesday  Jan. 28, 2014 
OK, it was time for business. My friend and I went to the library and while she was productive, I sat by the computer comparing and contrasting song choices. This project made me realize how many mellow classic rock songs I listen to. After five hours my choices were made, and shortly after I called it a night. I also scanned photos earlier that night.

Wednesday Jan. 29, 2014 
Now it was crunch time. I had to finish my shameless plug, but before that I decided to take a nap. After I woke up, I felt inspired and began to work. All I needed was that one idea to jumpstart everything and it came at the right moment. Shortly after, I went to the library and began to work. I had all my materials and put it together. While I technically didn’t procrastinate, it felt like I did. Fortunately, once my song was picked, everything else became easier. I recorded my audio, pieced my pictures together and worked. At 4 a.m., I was finally finished. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehRLbnjwkVg 

Guest Blogging and SEO

imagesSEO, SEO, SEO. It’s what everyone is talking about nowadays and with good reason. In addition to being a vital part of an organization’s marketing mix, SEO has a higher ROI than other forms of advertising and marketing. For these reasons and many more, SEO has become a trending topic as organization’s began to do everything possible to make their website SEO friendly. 

Recently, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of web spam stated that guest blogging will no longer be a SEO tactic because it has become “too spammy.” Organizations abused the benefits that came with guest blogging and basically ruined it for everyone.

However, it’s all about content. This doesn’t mean an organization shouldn’t feature guest bloggers. Guest bloggers are still vital in engaging with your audience, but only if the blogger provides compelling content that people want to read about. Sometimes having a guest blogger can lead to refreshing posts that’s different from the organization. Generating irrelevant content to boost SEO is what upset Google. Readers should also be upset because if they take the time to visit a website, they should have access to meaningful content. Having guest bloggers for the purpose of gaining links doesn’t meet the audience focused approach Google stresses. The best organizations are the ones that put out content for their audience because readers will reward them through retweets, favorites, shares, etc.

Here’s the deal, don’t be spammy, because you will reap the benefits if you focus on your readers.

11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs

Content generation is expected to grow this year as people look out for more news. Great content is what keeps people coming back for more. 2014 is the year we expect content sharing to take off. With all the different mediums, it’s a great opportunity to share meaningful information.

Blogs are great ways for organizations to provide content for their audiences, but with the plethora of content, it’s hard for people to sort through the best ones. However, if you tell compelling stories or provide meaningful information, people will continue coming back. Below is an infographic of 11 essential items every blog needs.

11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs [Infographic]

Like this infographic? Get content marketing advice that works from Copyblogger. This post originally appeared on Copyblogger

Social Media Fun

2014 is now upon us meaning millions of people begin setting New Years Resolutions, myself included. One of my main resolutions is to blog more often, but another one is to enhance my digital presence.

Once can’t deny the impact social and digital media has had this year. From Twitter to Instagram, from infographics to video, the world is not only becoming more visual, but also more social as the two begin to integrate.

This year, not having a digital presence won’t cut it, not only does it hurt for SEO purposes, but also makes a company look like they haven’t adjusted to the times. The companies that thrive and survive are the ones that keep up with the latest trends.

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Social media provides a medium that allows people to engage with the brands they like. For example, sports teams do a great job of engaging people and making sure they provide good content for fans. The Baltimore Ravens do a good job of integrating images and graphics through social media, in addition to posting typical press conferences, speeches etc.

Their Christmas video was the perfect example. It was timely, funny and kept the fans entertained despite a difficult season.

Social media also gives the fans a voice to state their discrepancies, their opinions and thoughts.

Other times sports teams entertain their followers by making jokes or interacting with other teams. This season everyone knows how bad the Eastern Conference is apart from the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers (Atlanta Hawks are 18-14, so they have a winning record as well). Nets, who were considered to be a threat to the heat, have been horrid, the Knicks are having a down year, the Bulls lost Derrick Rose for the season and had to deal with other key injuries throughout the course of the season. That being said, the Western Conference has been dominant, so it was only fitting for the Portland Trail Blazers to crack jokes.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 3.16.16 PMThis is the perfect example of giving fans great content. It’s a bit cold, but the truth hurts. However, the best part was when the Suns quickly jumped with a funny statement of its own. The Suns had a perfect response which the Trail Blazers responded with “well played.” The Suns aren’t a big market team, but that Tweet has allowed the Suns to get more attention then it normally would get.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 3.13.11 PMThe Arizona Cardinals posted something similar a week ago when it needed to win AND a Saint’s loss to get the final wild card spot. Unfortunately, the Saints played the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, where the Saints were 7-0 (now 8-0). The Buccaneers still responded with a funny response of their own which resulted in a few laughs.

Social media can be beneficial to any business strategy. Just like small market sports teams, one has to be clever and engaging. Once that happens people will follow and your brand will grow.

Until next time, Happy New Year! 

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Best Days to Post on Facebook

Social media may be leisure for some, it’s business to others. Social media managers must craft their message specifically to cater their audience, but timing is also key. Different people have different habits, so it’s important to evaluate when the highest amount of engagement occurs.

This infographic is the perfect example of how to time your Facebook post based on the target market you’re trying to reach.

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This post originally appeared on PR Daily

World revolves around tech

The government is facing major problems as the HealthCare.gov website ran into problems in addition to 30 percent of the federal health-insurance market place is still being developed.

While the Obama administration want the website to begin working on Nov. 30, there are doubts after Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the federal agency building the marketplace couldn’t guarantee it’s start day. According to an article by the Wall Street Journal, people are trying to fix the situation, but problems still exist.

As these technical difficulties continue to cause even more problems for people to sign up for private health insurance, more people are becoming skeptical as problems arising left and right.

While one can discuss the PR problem this poses the administration, I am focusing on this article as a current event. With an interest in technology and healthcare PR, it’s interesting to see how technology can affect everything. Healthcare is run on new innovations and developments, which come about using technology. Having some basis of technology knowledge is important when going into PR because it truly does affect sector.

For government, technology problems can be detimntal. For example, servers can be hacked, websites can shut down, etc., It’s important to have a plan in place for those types of problems. In healthcare, it’s important to stay up with trends. It was announced that the FDA approved new gene sequencing devices to diagnose cystic fibrosis quickly and precisely. In Tech or consumer Tech PR having that knowledge is a given. While these are just a few examples, it comes to show that technology can affect every sector. Not everyone needs to be a tech wiz, but PR professionals need to value continuous learning. Why not put a little tech knowledge in your noggin.