Tag Archives: improvement

10 Things I Learned in PR Practicum

Although the semester has gone by so fast, it has also been the longest one of my college education. When I look back, there is so much that I have blogged about and created for this class. From writing resumes, interviewing skills, reading a PR trade book, and using social media sites such as LinkedIn, I have accomplished many different things this semester that have helped me develop and fine-tune my public relations skills and knowledge. For our final exam, I have compiled a list of 10 things that I have learned this semester in PR Practicum:

  1. Conversation is key! -Perhaps the most important feature of having a blog is that provides a place for two-way communication. By communicating with others online and commenting on their blog posts, your blog will have the chance to become interactive among the online community. You never know what kind of connections and people you will meet by conversing with strangers!     
  2. Blog about issues you know and care about. -I will admit, I am not incredibly passionate or interested in every topic we were required to write about. That is only normal. At the same time, I found that if I attempted to make some sort of connection with the blog assignments each week, it would be much more enjoyable to write. When people have a strong interest and are genuinely excited about what they write about, this will engage you to want to read on. No one wants to read an article that is empty at heart.
  3. Do your research. -When you go to buy a car, you normally have some knowledge of the brand you are looking at and the features of the car and its’ history. The same goes for interviewing or working for any business. Do some research about what the company stands for, its’ mission statement, when it was founded, etc. Be prepared to show employers that you are interested in them and want to make a positive contribution to the team.
  4. Impress with a cover letter. -Much like the cover of a book, people can make a strong impression by what they first read or see about you. Create a powerful cover letter that lets a company know who you are, what you have to offer, and why they should give you a chance.
  5. Practice good writing skills! -Whether I like it or not, I learned in my interview with a PR professional that writing is a key element in the everyday job. From press releases, brochures, radio announcements, and simple emails, public relations and communications professionals need to have excellent grammar, punctuation, and writing skills to get the job done right.
  6. Monitor body language on an interview. -Most people have subtle habits such as rubbing their hands together or rolling their eyes, and are unaware of the possible messages they are sending to others when they do this. When you are on an interview, make sure to have good posture, don’t tap your feet, and maintain eye contact to ensure the interviewer they have your full attention.
  7. Sell yourself online! -Not literally, but use websites like LinkedIn and PROpenMic to post your resume and network with others in the field. Marketing yourself and showing others what you have achieved can only put you in better position for landing a job or making a connection that will help you. Sell the image of yourself you want others to see!
  8. Be smart with social media. -It is okay to have a Facebook or Twitter account, but know that it is easy to find information online about anyone. Google yourself and find out what is out there about you, and whether or not you would want an employer to see this. Don’t twitter anything embarassing or work-related, because odds are someone will see it and you will put yourself in an awkward position. If you have to question if something is appropriate, then don’t put it online!
  9. Create a portfolio. -While having an excellent resume is important, it is also relevant to actually show and present employers with examples and pieces of work you have created. Since implementing social media is such a huge part of the way we communicate, create a portfolio with press releases, blogs, campaigns, brochures, and any assignments that you are proud of to present to others.
  10. Think outside the box! -Possibly the most important thing I have learned in practicum is that there is no limit to what you can do, whether it is during an internship or career. Use your creativity to come up with new ideas for improving a business, and know that no idea is necessarily a bad idea. Employers will be impressed to see that you are taking issues in your own hands and doing tasks that you weren’t asked to do.

While creating a blog for both PR Practicum and PR Social Media was a lot of work and effort, I am excited to implement the things and skills I have learned upon graduation!

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Filed under PRCA 3711 Practicum

Reading Notes

Another book we will be reading this semester is titled “A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization,” by Deltina Hay. It gives “Strategies, Tactics, and Tools for Succeeding in the Social Web.”

Chapter 1- The introductory chapter discusses 3 things to keep in mind when making your social media plan:

  1. Interactivity-commenting on blogs, giving ideas to others on social media websites
  2. Sharing– linking images, videos, websites to friends online
  3. Collaboration-using bookmarking sites and contributing to feeds

By commenting on blogs, sharing photos and videos, and working with other programs, you can optimize your presence and networking abilities on the Internet. The chapter also discusses badges, which are essentially images and links that you can add to your pages in order to make them more “linkable to other sites.

Chapter 2– This chapter discusses the importance of adding tags and keywords. By using phrases and ideas that are related to a blog post, picture, article, or anything you are working with online, you can make it more visible to others by providing tags. It can make them pop up on Google or other search engines before others and therefore, gain more popularity and views.

By adding personal information to your social media profiles, you can increase the chance for finding others and others finding you online. This will create the opportunity for making more connections and making your blog or website more friendly!

Chapter 3– The main thing I learned from this chapter was what “RSS” meant: Really Simple Syndication. Which is ironic, because I was assuming it had some elaborate meaning. By using an RSS feed, you generate content, make the “feed” available, and then anyone who subscribes can read it. By using tags, categories, links, and tracebacks, you can make your feed incredibly functional online.

The author discusses using programs like FeedBurner to manage your feeds, promote them, troubleshoot them, etc. Your feed is not going to grow without care, just like a flower without water.

Chapter 4– By personalizing your blog with creative details, you can make it more appealing and fun to update. Headers are at the top of the blog, and can be a sentence or statement about the blog and what readers can expect from reading on. It can be anything catchy or expressive that will catch attention and prompt people to want to follow. A footer, on the other hand, is less personal and contains the important copyrights and credit to the designers of the webpage. Do not remove this or you may have problems!

Adding a sidebar to your blog is a way to make it easy to navigate and organize. You can include things like widgets, categories, tags, calendars, archives, etc. The sky is the limit to the appearance of your blog!

Chapter 5– This chapter discusses podcasts, which are “a series of audio or video files that is distributed over the internet and can be syndicated and subscribed to.” The author gives these tips to making the best podcast possible:

  • Many audio and video search engines use speech recognition software to identify keep terms within podcasts.
  • You add the metadata for each podcast episode when you save it as an MP3 file.  Repeat key terms from the actual spoken episode in this metadata.  Metadata describes other data. It provides information about a certain item’s content.
  • The page where each podcast episode resides is called its landing page.  Its advisable to repeat key terms from the podcast here also.

Like a podcast, a webcast is an online broadcast of information, which can be about any topic and usually consists of a series of videos or updates. YouTube tends to be the most popular website for creating weekly or daily webcasts.

Chapter 6– Being involved in a social network can be one of the most rewarding and important activities you can engage in. It allows you to connect with millions of others, whether for a personal or business reason, and stay updated in their daily lives. Some popular social networking sites include:

  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

They are free and relatively easy ways to get active online and connect. Facebook tends to be the most popular, while sites like Twitter are considered more “micro-blogs” because they only allow you to post a limited amount of information at a time. LinkedIn is more of a professional profile that can be helpful with sending resumes and experience to employers.

Chapter 7– Along with social networking, you can use social bookmarks to keep track of your favorite websites for others to view. Not only is this helpful to the individual, it can be very useful for students working on projects to send websites to classmates. The most popular website for social bookmarking is Delicious. It is free and doesn’t take long to add a long list of your favorite websites.

Crowd-sourcing is a way to allow users to determine the popularity of websites, news-sources, and blogs through voting. Sites such as Technorati, Digg, and StumbleUpon all offer these services. They are different from social bookmarks because they share information and facts, rather than opinions and favorites.

Chapter 8– This chapter focuses on media communities.  They are websites that users can visit and post opinions and share advice with others on multimedia topics and items. It is a great way to connect based on common interests and hobbies. Some sites focus on sharing images, such as Flickr, and allow people a place to format and keep all of their photos online.

“Playlists” can be used to organize videos and show them to others. Before you create a specific playlist, you can create a draft version, or a “quicklist.” You can also add a badge to a website, which is essentially a small caption of another social website in the version of a widget.

Chapter 9Widgets and Badges are the focus of this chapter. By definition in the book…

“Widgets are snippets of code, usually displayed graphically, that can be used to syndicate content, for example RSS feeds, or to add interactive features that users can drop onto their own blogs or websites.

Badges are an icon or logo that has a link back to its source, which serves as a way of displaying one’s membership or presence in a community on the Social Web.”

They can be used to customize blogs and make them more personal. Widgets can display things such as the weather, a poll, a countdown, calendar, game, or countless other options. Including widgets makes blogs more interactive and can increase the number of follows to your page if they are fun and useful. A badge is essentially an image that represents a link to another website or page. Including badges increases the possiblity of someone visiting one of your other social networks.

Chapter 10 Social media newsrooms are places for businesses, teachers, or individuals to gain a lot of media coverage and tend to have lots of media and news releases on a daily basis. They shouldn’t replace original websites, but should be a place for people to visit in order to gain recent information and current news on a specific business or topic. You can do several things with a social media newsroom:

  1. View recent and past events
  2. Organize press releases, old and new
  3. Keep track of major media coverage
  4. Download photos, videos, podcasts, etc.
  5. Store personal information on employees

These newsrooms should be supplements to the original company webpage and should be updated daily in order to be useful to viewers. Keep things interactive and useful.

Chapter 11– I learned something useful in this chapter, which was what exactly a “wiki” is. Hawaiian for “fast,” the term describes websites that allow users to post and update information, no matter if it is true or not. Quite possibly the most popular “wiki” website is Wikipedia, which is a virtual online encyclopedia that contains lots of information, some useful and some just complete lies. People still flock to these websites despite their lack of credibility.

Users can create social pages, where they can discuss any topic they desire and talk about them with others who share similar interests. Another Internet sensation, 3-D worlds, give people the sense that they can have another life online. These websites create a “virtual community” that they can be a part of and interact with millions of others across the world.

Chapter 12– The author discusses 3 things to ask yourself when optimizing your website:

  • Can users interact with the content?
  • Can visitors share the content easily with others?
  • Does the site encourage collaboration?

Having a successful and effective website is all about interactivity and allowing feedback and commentary from others. If not, your website or blog will just be like an online reference or book. It will be boring and people will not want to read it. You can make the most out of your social media expereince by adding widgets, tags, RSS feeds, and bookmarks to make it more interesting.

Chapter 13– Much like using crowd-sourcing, social ranking is a way for users to see the relevancy of their pages and how searchable they are online. It is a great way to determine what you can improve and fix on your blog in order to make it more popular. You can also use a “lifestream,” which is like a blog, but contains streams and bits of information from other social networking sites instead of personalized information and posts. The author also talks about the concept of potential social networking distribution, which would allow users to carry around their virtual profile and identity throughout different websites and networks. This is an excellent idea because there are so many social networking sites, usernames, and passwords to keep track of!

Chapter 14– Before you jump into the social networking world, it is important to establish some goals or things you would like to achieve by using the Internet. By having a set of strategies and tactics, you can understand and implement exactly what you want, and hopefully get the kind of experience you want out of it. The book discusses the following:

  1. Increasing web traffic
  2. Driving sales or new business
  3. Monitoring brand awareness
  4. Improving customer relations
  5. Managing reputation
  6. Establishing credibility
  7. Creating buzz
  8. Improving public relations

No matter what you decide to use social media for, using the “survival guide” can help you along the way. Remembering to be original and interactive in your experience are key factors.

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Filed under PRCA 3030 Social Media, Reading Notes- Survival Guide

Social networking beneficial for Long Beach businesses

I recently came across an article about how businesses and nonprofit organizations are benefitting from using social networking sites in a tough and changing economy. According to Kristopher Hanson at the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, California, local companies in the city have had recent success in using services such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Yelp. With the opportunity to use these social media sites for free advertising with cusomters, businesses everywhere are taking advantage of the Internet. It definitely is an easy way for customers to give free feedback, whether it is good or bad, for the employers to use at their disposal. Hanson puts it into clear terms:

“By posting updates, sale notices, special events and competitions on a growing network of sites, tech-savvy businesses are growing buzz and sparking interest with existing and new customers.”

The article talks about how one restaurant in Long Beach offers free appetizers and desserts for customers who can correctly answer a question each week. I think this is a brilliant and easy way to gain customer loyalty to their social media websites and provide a fun contest that will differentiate them from other restaurants in the community. Since the majority of business owners tend to be in their late 40s and up, knowing how to create blogs and use the Internet is a key skill that employers will be looking for among new graduates. According to a study in the article, sales increased 41% over a 10-week period for a company who used a Web-based campaign to improve sales. Sounds like an improvement to me!

Information used in this post can be found at the following website:

http://www.presstelegram.com/ci_14865268?source=rss_viewed



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Tiger and PR…What Will It Do?

A week ago, I went to the Master’s Practice Round. Although I was excited to see the course and my favorite golfer Adam Scott, I was really anxious to see how the crowd would react to Tiger during his first appearance on the golf course since his cheating scandal hit. I knew that anyone who heckled him or decided to act in an inappropriate manner would immediately be removed from the premises, but there was still the chance that someone would do that. When I saw him on the 4th hole, he was smiling and appeared calm and collected. The crowd clapped and cheered, “Glad to have ya back, Tiger!” Despite all of the troubles and wrongdoings he had created over the past months, the general public, especially golf, wanted to see him succeeded. Any other person that cheated on his wife with multiple women would not receive such a warm welcoming. But why did Tiger? It is because of the image and fame that the media has associated with the golf mogul for the past decade. Considerably the most well-known and highest-paid athlete in the world, Tiger Woods is seemingly unbreakable in the eyes of many. Despite being pulled from several of his endorsements, Nike is using public relations and advertising to bring Tiger back to the top. Here is a recent commercial that was aired during the Masters:

Whether you love him or hate him, this type of commercial catches the attention and makes an impact. It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how Tiger’s PR and Nike will try to repair his public image over the coming months.

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Internship Advice for Beginners

An important part of gaining field experience and meeting potential employers, interning can be an overwhelming topic for those who are unsure about what it exactly is and how they go about getting one. According to Webster’s dictionary, an internship is “an advanced student or graduate in a professional field gaining supervised practical experience.” Being an intern is like working with a mentor, where someone with knowledge in public relations or communications can fill you in on what they know and guide you to become better informed and prepared for the future.

No matter what kind of career you are going into, it is important to do some sort of internship beforehand in order to understand the kind of environment you are entering. A surgeon does not start operating on a patient the day they graduate from med school; they work as an intern or resident so they are fully prepared for their work. The same goes for public relations professionals. Depending on what kind of company you are working for, there are different skills and knowledge that are required for the particular job.  On the blog “Entry Level Rebel,” Jessica Stillman offers six tips for getting the most out of an internship.

  1. Consider applying at a start-up– While most people think you have to intern at a company that has been around for years and is well-established, working for a new company can give you more opportunities to perform big tasks and make a difference.
  2. D0 your homework– Make sure you do your research on the company you want to intern with. It will show them you care about what you are doing and you have a strong interest. This will only strengthen your chances of getting an internship and possibly a position with them in the future.
  3. Be the go-to person at all times– Although you may be confused and unsure about the tasks you are handed at first, don’t be afraid to do your research online and talk to others about what you are supposed to do. Be the person that people know they can depend on to get work done.
  4. Be innovative- think before you ask– Instead of assuming you do not know the answer to a potential problem or issue, look deeper into the question and you could be surprised that you have a great solution. Use the resources you are given for help.
  5. Think like the CEO– Is the work you are doing making the company better? This should be the main objective of every task you perform. Go out of your way to do things you are not asked or required to do; it will make you look sufficient and hard-working.
  6. Take notes and always have to-do list– When you are in a meeting with a boss or just receiving tips from an employee, jot down information so that you always have it to refer to. Use your notes to decide what you can do to perform your best work.

Be the best intern you can be!

Sometimes businesses do not have a lot of work to give interns because they are unsure about the kind of skills that interns possess. Brigid Wolf, who attends the University of Akron in Ohio, said she was able to perform more work for the company she interned with after she told them she was fluent with Excel and PowerPoint. “After I told them I was good at working with those programs, the employer was able to give me important projects to complete.”

Jeff Carter, a senior public relations major at Georgia Southern, enjoyed the networking aspect of his internship he completed last year. “It was a great opportunity to make numerous connections with local business owners,” he said. According to the blog, “Career Advancement- Tips to Maximize an Internship Into Career Success,” it is crucial to stay in connection with the people you work with. By letting the employer you worked under know what you are currently doing, this will “…keep your name in front of the employer.” You never know when you will need someone’s advice or help to get you where you want to be.

The most important aspect of choosing an internship is making sure it appeals to you! Tory Johnson, CEO of “Women for Hire,” gives this pointer in the blog “Top Tips for Picking an Internship.” Pick something that you feel will give you the kind of experience and work you are looking for to give you the skills you need for your dream job!

Information used in this blog can be found at the following websites:

http://blogs.bnet.com/entry-level/?p=2016

http://career.pligghanaka.com/career-advancement-tips-to-maximize-an-internship-into-career-success/

http://sbm.temple.edu/blogs/cspd/2010/03/18/top-tips-for-picking-an-internship/

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Social Media: Friend or Foe?

After listening to “Social Media: Friend or Foe,” I had a new perspective on the pros and cons of social media becoming such a dominant aspect of our communication. Checking one’s Facebook wall or updating a Twitter status has become such an ordinary task as getting the newspaper. In the field of communication, obviously face-to-face communicating and in-person contact are important in establishing a good relationship between a business and clients. With so many large companies and organizations using social media outlets such as Linkedin, blogs, Facebook, and dozens of other tools for locating prospective employees, I think it is such a valuable asset to any career, especially public relations.

During the online conversation of the meeting, some of the people in opposition of using social media tools talked about how they did not like not being able to network in person. One man gave the example of how he would miss taking clients out golfing and dining them. I can definitely see how in taking clients out for activities like that will never be able to replace talking to someone via the internet.  Those who are skeptical of using social media and see it as a potential “foe” have good reasoning wanting to network the good old-fashioned ways.

Like it or not, businesses and people are going to have to adjust to the ever-changing ways that new technology is bringing to our society. I think that social media is a great development that will drastically improve the field of public relations as well as hundreds of other careers.

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Filed under PRCA 3030 Social Media, TOW- Topics of the Week

Search Engine Visibility

After reading the article on Search Engine Visibility and the different search methods that companies use to get their products and businesses popular on the internet, I got a headache thinking about how much information is truly on the internet! It is such a big and constantly-expanding universe that is only going to obtain more links and facts as time goes on. I learned that there are two types of search tactics- Paid Search and Optimized Search. These are essentially tools that marketers and web-professionals use to place their products and sites at the top of search engine results in order to receive maximum visibility. Reputational Search and Social Search are emerging methods that will prove useful to public relations and helping to reaching the appropriate audiences. Implementing social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. with tags about a company or idea will ensure that there are other places for people to find information other than Google.

I was actually surprised that only 90% of internet-users use search engines. I figured it would be closer to 95% and higher, just because so many times people, especially older adults, are often unsure of the exact web-address they are looking for on the first try. This is where search engines come into play. I thought it was very neat how JetBlue set up a twitter account, which seemed to greatly improve their customer relations and social networking in general. This is genius idea for an airline, especially when people love to complain and can’t seem to get through on the telephone and speak to a representative quick and easy.

It will be interesting to see what kind of search engines and methods we will be using in the next 5 or 10 years, which is not that far away, but in internet years seems like an eternity because a lot can happen in a year.  I like the promise that the internet brings, providing instant gratification and easy communication, and although it will be important for PR workers to implement social media online, it is also crucial for them to remember that the “P” in PR stands for public. Face-to-face relations and traditional conversations are why many people enter the field; because they are good communicators in a personal form.

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