The Money Drain…

You know how the dryer eats socks?

Well I think my bank account eats my money.

Where does this money go? There is no possible way that I could spend almost as much as I earn each month, but whenever I look at my bank statement I can see how my money just slipped through my finger tips.

I’m a college student and I don’t make much money and I am afraid that if I don’t change my spending habits soon I will have no money to help me start my “adult life.”

Courtsey of: prisionbreakfreak.com

Image Source: prisonbreakfreak.com

 

So here is what I am going to do: I am  going to document my spending via this blog to keep myself accountable and also to help others try and save money (or spend it the wisest way possible) while in college.

I know there will be moments where I will fail and that new fall Micheal Kors purse is a NEED and not a want, but I hope to learn from my mistakes and become accountable

 

 

Do You Have What It Takes?

The closer I come to finally graduating college the more scared I become. That “real world” that I have been longing to grasp is now looking like a huge scary world. Everyday for the last 8 years we have been hearing “jobs at all time low” or “unemployment rate at 7%” from all media outlets. In my own life I see my friends, college graduates, unable to find gainful employment. Some of these friends end up working a retail job working for $8.00 an hour and living with their parents. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with this type of work and living. I too, work retail and still live with my parents and am extremely grateful for the support I get and that I am lucky enough to be employed.

How can we combat our uphill battle to get the job we want? Here is my guide to getting the job you want.

 

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Know what others think of you

Ok, I know what you might be thinking. Who cares what people think of me, I am who I am, take it or leave it. In any other circumstance I would agree with you but when we apply that mantra to the job market our potential employers will do just that, leave it. Like I previously mentioned, if we aren’t what a company is looking for or send the wrong type of message they WILL find someone else to work for them. I mentioned this in a previous post but to avoid this, look at your online persona. Do you have picture upon picture of you with a bottle of alcohol? What about that Halloween costume you thought was super cute? These photos can hurt us when we go out to look for a job in the PR field. In an article written by The Huffington Post, “37% of hiring managers use social networking sites to research job applicants, with over 65 percent of that group using Facebook as their primary resource.”
I can almost guarantee you that this statistic is much higher for the Public Relations field. Take those photos down, and ask yourself this question, “Would I want these photos and posts to be the only indicator of who I am?” The harsh reality is that they could be.

Learn Everything

Yep, I know what you might be thinking. Um, Catherine that’s impossible. You’re right, it is.

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Source: quickmeme.com

To be the best, we have to strive to be that way.

My textbook, Share This, has a differing opinion to my own. “The list of special abilities that the modern PR superhero is expected to possess grows even larger. Visit Google and it’s not difficult to find blog posts listing the Top 20 or so ‘essential’ skills required to be successful in PR. Today, apparently you need to be a master of HTML coding, easily film and edit a hit viral video, develop a (basic) Facebook app, intimately understand the editorial agenda of the FT, feel at ease discussing marketing ROI with a CEO and then, after lunch…if you happen to be this mythical individual, please do send me your YouTube CV, we’re always hiring” The chapter author, Daljit Bhurji says this individual cannot and doesn’t have to exist in the Public Relations field. I disagree.

For recent graduates applying for their first PR job we SHOULD strive to be like this individual. If I go into a job interview with only a quarter of these skills I easily run the risk of not getting that job because there will be someone who can do most of these things.  With applicants creating webpages to get their dream job like, Lindsay Blackwell and her Dear Lisa Rudgers campaign we have to be a the top of our game.

After we fall into our places in our organizations we can most then take a look and try and specialize in one area we are truly great at but before we secure our first “real world” job I don’t think we can afford that luxury.

What do you think is the most important skill for an aspiring PR professional to have?

Boring Headlines Never Make History

If there is one thing that I have learned so far in my Public Relations career it is this, if you cannot catch your audience with your headline it is game over. Journalists will simply pass right on by and if poorly written headlines happen more than a couple of times you email goes right into a lovely folder called, spam. Now we ensure that our message will never be seen or read by the audience we are trying to reach. This problem doesn’t happen in just trying to pitch journalists. Write a poor headline for a Facebook article or link it back to a corporate blog, and you can be hidden or un-liked by your audience.

If we are not innovative Public Relations professionals we cannot succeed. Many people attribute the word “spinners” to our profession and when it comes to headlines I completely agree with them. I would define spinning as looking at things differently. Not lying or deceiving but just a different approach. My motivation is to promote an exemplar product  or service and the company it stands for. Without the ability to look at things  differently and in  a way that can connect a product to a person I will not succeed.

In an article written titled, “Small Hinges Swing Big Doors-10 Actions for Big Improvements in Coversation” by Matt Ambrose he discusses the importance of headlines in engaging an audience. “Time and again, it’s been proven that headlines which offer benefits, build intrigue and tell the reader what they will gain if they read further are the most effective.” I believe that this is true. All too many times, BuzzFeed sucks me in with articles like, “11 Terrifying Facts About What You’re Putting On Your Face” 

In the book Share This by The Chartered Insititute of Public Relations they discuss what actually warrants an interesting post. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should (p52)” Although this particular chapter is discussing Public Relations Ethics this phrase really resonates with me. There are just some things that don’t need to be shared on certain platform. A corporate company doesn’t need to post to Facebook and let their customers know that they have a new Vice President of Sales. There isn’t a tangible way to connect that with every day consumers. So can we make customers care about a new Vice President? Sure. Have the Vice President do a Facebook chat and ask the customers what they wanted her to buy for their company to sell. Customers could make their own wish lists and have a direct line to the person who can actually make it happen.

Headline, check. Relevant to audience, check. Now I’m done right? WRONG!

The headline is only the beginning of our story. It isn’t enough to have a good headline the content must also be intriguing.

Kate Brodock wrote about how to increase your engagement with your content and she gives us some good advice. “Creating a more “official” process by which people can directly interact with you makes them a lot more willing, especially if there’s something in it for them.  Asking them for their stories relating to a particular topic or running a contest on your blog are sure ways to get more participation.” 

Such a huge theme for Public Relations is connecting and engaging. I want to feel connected to those I represent and those I wish to reach with my content. We have to find a good way to engage them in 140 characters or less. That may seem daunting, but I am up for the challenge.

Social Media….are you an expert?

In 4 short weeks can I really become a social media expert?

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Photo Credit: viralheat.com

I have been using various forms of Social Media for at least 13 years. I have used LiveJournal, Xanga, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Hootsuite, Google+, and of course WordPress. Can I say I am an expert because I have been using social media for over ten years? Can I say that I can be effective using social media because I have used many different platforms? Here is my answer: Absolutely not.

This accelerated Social Media class has been extremely interesting so far and is making me truly look at Social Media in a new way but I feel that I have a long way to go before I can claim to be proficient in social media. I feel that Social Media can be trickier to navigate than some other areas of Public Relations. Maybe it is just me but I would feel more comfortable writing a Media Release than working strictly in Social Media. Part of the reason I love Social Media is because it is constantly changing but that also makes me very trepidacious.

I subscribe to PRDaily and I love the insight that they bring to my inbox each day and one article I recently read helped me create a plan for making myself stronger in the realm of Social Media. PRDaily’s article is called, What Really Makes a Social Media Expert? discusses the tangible items you must have to call yourself a Social Media expert. This gave me a really good checklist as an aspiring Public Relations Professional.

Item one: “Implementing a strategic, researched campaign.” I have to learn how to tell my employer how of social media campaigns affected our business.  Item two: “Content creation is better than content sharing.” This may seem like an easy one but, creating original ideas instead of building on others can set you a part in the PR field. Item three: “You’d rather die than call yourself a ‘guru.'” Like I previously mentioned, Social Media is constantly changing and to call yourself an expert in something that could change tomorrow seems, presumptuous.

So we have a guide on what to do, shouldn’t we also know what we shouldn’t do. In another article by PRDaily, (Seriously, I love their articles!) they give us some tips of things to be wary of when you market on social media.

1. “Not displaying your corporate branding.” Whether it is creating, moderating, or maintaining any social media having a logo or brand name can be crucial.

2. “Not using the right social media.” Not all audiences use all forms of social media. I can’t imagine trying to reach an 80 year old via Twitter, unless your name is Betty White.

3. “Lacking consistency.” Updating occasionally? Yeah that’s not going to cut it. We must be updating and connecting on a regular basis to stay relevant.

4. “Including negative content about your competition.” Don’t be a corporate bully. In my opinion you can only bring yourself up by your merits not by bringing others down.

5.  “Not responding to comments from followers and fans.” No one likes to be ignored. By doing so you automatically say that whatever those fans and followers are trying to say isn’t important. I recently had a music label start following me on Instagram just because I posted a picture of one of their artists. They validated me and connected with me by our joined love for the artist. It was a great feeling.

These articles and my course I know will help me become a greater, and stronger Public Relations Professional.

 

Corporations are people too…and they want to connect!

I’m working my way through my Social Media textbook Share This, by The Chartered Institute of Public Relations and it is amazing to me as I progress into my Public Relations education how much social media affects our daily lives not only as PR Professionals but our lives as consumers as well.

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Image: Jeff Hurt Blog

The beginning of Chapter two states, “Econsultancy’s State of Social Media report 2011 surveyed more than 1,000 clients, brands, marketing, digital and PR agencies and noted that around 35% are either still at a very experimental stage or not doing any social media activity at all.” What an interesting statistic, in a world where we spend more time on our phones connecting and live in the culture of selfies, many companies don’t even participate in social media at all.

Share This gives a good guide to establish how you want to be presented on social media. The text asks a simple question, “What would you like to achieve?” For me I would probably choose the customer loyalty route. I love to be with people. Talking with them, connecting with them, and learning from them. I think this is a good principle that can be applied to companies. Companies can have instant feedback if a customer likes a product or service and customer service issues can potentially be solved faster as well. I think that is super exciting. The text quotes Tony Hsiech, CEO of Zappos who said, “people relate to people, not companies.” The book goes even more in depth into this idea, “For your organisation, then, becoming more human might be about reducing the distance between you and your audience-perhaps showing yourself to be open, reliable, responsive, friendly and engaging”

I love to follow companies on Instagram and Twitter because you can connect directly with them like never before. When I posted a picture from a recent concert I went to, I received a  like from the band which I thought was awesome and amazing but then their record label started to follow me. I freaked out! It was awesome! We are able to connect and engage with those we admire and be a part of a conversation that we haven’t been able to until now.

The 35% mentioned at the beginning of this post  surprised me greatly and made me realize how my work (the company name I will keep private but my thoughts and views are my own and not that of my employer) is starting to change their views on social media. In the last two weeks we have been encouraged to share photos on all platforms of social media using a specific hashtag, follow our CEO, district manager, and managers on Twitter and connect with our customers on a whole new level that we couldn’t before. I think that this initiative is brave for a corporation to take, instead of having a company page we are able to express our individuality and have our customers see us in a new, creative way. I’m happy to participate and engage with and on behalf of my company and am excited to start a new trend of customer engagement.

 

 

America’s Amtrak

I know that if I were lucky enough to go have an Amtrak residency I would be able to discover myself and our country at the same time.

Gina Luttrell

Sometimes in life you read something and an idea just grabs hold of you. I read this article about Amtrak offering writers’ residencies and immediately I thoughtWOW! pretty-pleaseHow awesome would it be to bring a few students and write about our experiences?”

So, I sent an email to Julia Quinn head of social media at Amtrak and asked her if she could make my dream come true. Here is a brief summary of what I sent:

I recently read an article about Amtrak offering writers’ residencies. I’d like to offer up myself and a few of my students for a week or two over the summer to tell Amtrak’s story. The idea would be to write about the passengers, the employees, the train stations – you name it – and we’ll blog, Pin, post, Tweet, and share our experiences.

Give us just a short amount of time, a little space…

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Let’s start this journey…

Hi, my name is Catherine.Image

I have never written a blog before, unless you count livejournal.  I cringe to think of those high school posts.  

Here is a little bit about me: 

  • I am a Public Relations student at Eastern Michigan University 
  • Poetry is food for my soul
  • I am a Cancer Survivor
  • I believe in love
  • I am Irish. 
  • I wear my heart on my sleeve
  • The little things truly make me the happiest

I am obsessed with: 

I have no idea where this blog will lead or even a general theme yet-if I decide to have one. You will probably find a lot of recipes and food mishaps! I have recently started The Ketogenic diet and I am always eager to try out new recipes! 

I want to connect with people. Social media is such a driving force in our society today that I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to connect with fellow bloggers in my field and also those who inspire me in my personal life. There is so much we can learn from one another.