Posted by: Jess Scheve | April 21, 2011

My New Found Blogging Addiction

I never thought it would come to this.  I thought I could quit whenever I wanted to.  Now it’s 1:15 am and I can’t fight the urge…must…..blog…..now.  How did it come to this?

I originally decided not to blog this week because I completed the eight posts that were required for my grad class.  Rest assured, I have every intention of continuing this blog, but the end of the semester has me preoccupied with a mountain of projects, papers and presentations.

Despite all of the work that I have to do, I just couldn’t keep myself from blogging this week.

  “Hello, my name is Jessica, and I’m a blogging addict.”

Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick and fun post this week just to hold me over.  How do you know if you have an addiction to blogging?  Here are a few clues….

5 Ways to Tell You’re a Blogging Addict

1. You check your stats obsessively

2. You get excited every time someone comments

3. You think of potential topics constantly. While driving, showering, before bed, walking down the street, etc.

Partial view of a clock

Image: healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4. You stay up into the wee hours of the night blogging

5. You find that blogging has become a hobby, rather than a chore

Now that I got my fix I think I’ll finally get some sleep. Goodnight Web 2.0 –  you haven’t seen the last of me yet.

Posted by: Jess Scheve | April 14, 2011

Acknowledging the Importance of Failure

In trying to make the transition from student to professional, we constantly hear about how to be successful. Very rarely, however, does anyway tell us how to fail.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Becky Gaylord, owner of Gaylord LLC. Becky came to speak to one of the grad classes I’m in. She had a lot of wonderful advice for us, but one thing really stuck out to me:

“Failure is not only okay, it’s essential.”

Plenty of people talk about the importance of learning from one’s mistakes, but few people acknowledge how important failure is to our success. In 2006 Business Week wrote an article on How Failure Breeds Success. The article, which points out that failure is important to the innovation process, proves that failure is important not only to individuals, but also to businesses.

Additonally, some of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind were the result of “failures.” One of my favorite stories is that of George Crum who invented the potato chip. One day Crum, a chef, was making fried potatoes for one of the patrons at the restaurant he worked at.

Making your own potato chips!

Photo by Whitney Drake from Flikr.com

The customer sent the fried potatoes back to the kitchen, (more than once according to some versions of the story), claiming that they were too thick. Irritated with the persnickety customer, Mr. Crum sliced the potatoes as thin as possible and fried them until they were crunchy. Not only did the patron like chips, but other people did as well. Thus, the sinfully delicious, carb-loaded snack that tempts us from the glistening vending machine window, was born. If Crum hadn’t failed to please this customer, we might not have the potato chip.

The truth is, people like to avoid failure because it makes them feel uncomfortable – and if there’s one thing we hate, it’s feeling uncomfortable. Few people can bear the feeling of uncertainty that almost always accompanies failure. But as students and young professionals, we must be prepared for failure because it is a natural part of our transition.

So the next time you’re beating yourself up over what seems to be a huge, disappointing failure; try to take a step back and remember that it’s a part of your development. I know, easier said than done. But if you’re having trouble moving past failure check out eHow.com‘s article on How to Deal with Personal Failure.

Personally, I find Ms. Gaylord’s statement freeing in a way because I no longer have to look at failure in a negative light; I can look at it as a natural part of life, or better yet, an opportunity. Will I feel that way in the midst of the failure? Probably not. But fortunately Ms. Gaylord also advised us that resilience, like most activities, gets easier with practice.

Posted by: Jess Scheve | April 7, 2011

Somethingness or Nothingness? That is the Question

When I first set out on my blogging journey, I sat down and brainstormed some potential blog topics to help me get started. I decided to wait to write the “writer’s block” post because I figured there would come a time when I myself would suffer from this inconvenient malady. I contemplated the idea of saving the topic just a little longer, but frankly I find myself suffering from mental fatigue this week. What better time to write about the topic?

Giant desk and chair with people walking around it
photo by best read cold via PhotoRee

The good news is that there’s a plethora of information on finding inspiration when you hit a wall. Most of the advice falls into one of two categories, which I like to call “somethingness” and “nothingness.” Let me explain.

Somethingness involves evoking creativity by stimulating the senses. Nothingness, is the exact opposite. It involves clearing your mind so you have room for new ideas.

Because everyone finds inspiration in different ways, I’ve outlined some tips for moving past writers block that fall into one of these two categories.

Somethingness

Don’t ask me why, but I have always been one of those people who need a deadline staring them in the face in order to get inspired. I can’t seem to get much writing done unless it’s crunch time. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, we’re not alone. Daphne Gray-Grant from Ragan.com wrote a post titled A speed demon’s guide to more effective writing. Just because it’s quick, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be effective, right?

If the idea of getting dangerously close to a deadline gets your heart pounding, don’t worry. The web has plenty of other great resources for combating writer’s block. Start by looking at your RSS feed to see what other blogs are writing about. Is there something you agree or disagree with? Or maybe there is something you want to add to. Blogging is, after all, about conversations. If you can’t find inspiration in the blogosphere, then check out these great articles:

If you’re choc full of ideas and want to make writing a full-time career, then check out DailyWritingTip’s 7 Steps to Becoming a Freelance Writer.

Nothingness

Can over-stimulation of the senses lead to a creative standstill? I was recently reading Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy and found myself wondering this. The book was written in the early 1960’s before the advent of most of the technological distractions that are a part of everyday life for most of us. Ogilvy talks about “keeping open the telephone line to…[his] unconscious,” (pg. 20). He goes on to detail how goes about doing this:

“I take long hot baths. I garden. I go into retreat among the Amish. I watch birds. I go for long walks in the country. And I take frequent vacations, so that my brain can lie fallow…

While thus employed in doing nothing, I receive a constant stream of telegrams from my unconscious and these becomes the raw material from my advertisements,” (pgs. 20-21).

I found this interesting because often times the approach to “hitting the wall” creatively is to look for inspiration via stimulation of the senses. We may go to an art museum, read up on current events or look to the ideas of others in hopes of getting a sudden epiphany.

I wonder though, if this approach is backwards? I often find that ideas come to me when I least expect it; whether I’m driving or lying down to go to sleep for the night. This got me thinking that maybe Ogilvy is on to something. Maybe we need to get away from stimuli in order to manifest our creative genius. After all, how can we expect to draw on the creative part of our minds when so much of our brain power is being devoted to other things?

Think that this approach might be right for you? Try meditation to clear your mind and come back to your work refreshed.

Fight Writer’s Block Before it Even Begins

If you come up with ideas when you least expect to, then check out the concept of Creative Composting mentioned in JustifiedDesign.  Composting is a simple concept that involves little more than keeping a notebook for your ideas or bookmarking interesting articles; however, it’s a creative way of thinking about how you gather ideas.

Pen & notebook
photo by Olivander via PhotoRee


Not only does this give you some ideas to draw on when the creativity isn’t flowing, but it also gives you time to more fully develop them. What better way to combat writer’s block than to be proactive and prevent it in the first place?

Personally I use a little bit of all of these concepts. What are your experiences with working through writer’s block? Do you find stimulating your brain or letting it rest more effective?

Posted by: Jess Scheve | March 31, 2011

Professional Wisdom from Dr. Seuss?!

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a “professional.”  Does it just involve having a fancy schmancy title at a fancy schmancy job with a fancy schmany company? Or is there more to it than that?

I believe that there is more to being a professional than mere gainful employment… and I can’t very well do a blog about transitioning from student to professional without addressing the “how” of the process, now can I?

The way I see it, becoming a professional is a two part process.

1.) State of Mind. Before you get to the boardroom, you’ve got to start in the classroom. You’ve got to think like a pro, act like a pro and hang out where the pros hang out.  I can’t tell you how to do this, but I can tell you what helps me:

  • Reading the work of people who are smarter and have more experience than me.  If you’re not sure where to start, try Ragan or the Personal Branding Blog.
  • Rubbing elbows with the big shots.  I’m going to the upcoming YouToo Social Media Conference, for instance.  Conferences and seminars are not only great networking opportunities, but they also give you the chance to learn a lot in a short amount of time.  To find some conferences near you try PRSA or IABC.

2.) Landing the job. You’ve studied hard and now you’re ready to go out into the world and make your fortune. This part of the process is much easier said than done these days with scarce jobs and fierce competition.  So what’s a young professional to do?

  • Try starting your own business.  Throughout the past year that I’ve spent in grad school I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the word “entrepreneur.”  With all of the free platforms out there that allow you to create, it seems like there has never been a better time to go into business for yourself.  Intrigued?  Check out this post on Napkin Entrepreneurs.

As far as resumes, cover letters, interviews and networking are concerned I probably can’t tell you anything that you haven’t heard hundreds of times already.  But I do want to leave you with some words of encouragement.

Like many graduates, I received the book Oh, The Places You’ll Go as a graduation gift and I still read it from time to time.  I realize that this isn’t exactly graduate level reading, but I’m convinced that Dr. Seuss’ truths are universal.

Dr. Seuss book titled "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"

"Oh, the Places You'll Go!" By Dr. Seuss

“You can get so confused

That you’ll start in to race

Down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

And grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

Headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…”

I know what you’re thinking: “that’s not encouraging at all!”  But Dr. Seuss goes on to explain that this “waiting place” is not where you want to be and that you’ll find your way out and go on to bigger and brighter things.

I guess the moral of the story is that it just takes time.  What I take away from this is that I can’t just sit around waiting for things to happen for me. I’ve got to go MAKE them happen.  If I fail then I’m not really any worse off.  In any case I’d like to believe what Dr. Seuss says in the end of his book: “KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS.”

Snowy Mountains

Image by Dey Alexander from http://www.flikr.com. under Creative Commons

Posted by: Jess Scheve | March 10, 2011

Pros and Cons of Owning a Smart Phone

After years of being stuck in web 1.0 I finally made a giant leap into the new era. I traded my antiquated, no frills “dumb phone” for a smart phone.

Jessica's old phone

My old "dumb" phone

So why did it take me so long to make the switch?  Well, believe it or not, the idea of being connected all the time was actually not appealing to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my new phone. Not only is it extremely convenient to have all of that information at my fingertips, but the technology is really cool as well. I’m also happy that I’ll no longer have to hear subtle coughs with the word “QWERTY” when I compose a text message.

There are actually several reasons why I was reluctant to join the mobile revolution. This led me to think about the pros and cons of owning a smart phone. I’ve outlined some below in case you need some help deciding whether or not owning one is right for you.

CONS

Constant Distraction. As if social networking sites weren’t enough of a distraction, now we can take them wherever we go! On several occasions I’ve had some people almost run into me because they were so engrossed in their phone. Smart phones are shrinking our attention spans.

Taking work home. If computers and e-mail weren’t enough of an excuse for you to be on the clock 24/7 then mobile devices sure are. You can take work with you wherever you go. Now there’s absolutely no excuse not to do work. Smartphones make it that much more difficult to leave work at work. You know what they say: “all work and no play…”

Addiction. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself checking Facebook several times a day. Even worse is when I plan on quickly checking updates and wind up perusing people’s photos and statuses. It’s not that I intend to spend hours of my day on social networking sites, but one thing leads to another and before I realize it an hour or two has gone by.

Impatience. If you don’t think that the latest, greatest technology causes impatience I want you to stop and think of two words: dial up. Just think of how impatient you get waiting…gasp…30 seconds for a video to load. Okay maybe your not guilty of this, but I am not afraid to admit that I am. We’re so used to getting everything that we want instantaneously that when we have to wait a little bit it gets irritating.

PROS

Instant information. If you’re anything like me, you feel the need to Google anything and everything. Who was that actor in the movie we were watching the other day? Google. What is the thirteenth letter of the Greek alphabet? Google. Why does Charlie Sheen like the word #winning so much….you get the picture. 

Real-time conversations. Yes social networking means keeping up with your friends and family more easily. But think of the implications it has for you as a public relations practitioner. You can monitor what’s being said about your organization at virtually any time; so if a story breaks, you’re on top of it. If you think sites like Twitter and Facebook are just a “fad,” then you may want to look into some infographics on social media.

Convenience. Remember the pre-mobile days? Or even the pre-internet days? Pay phones, phone books, paper maps, paper books, word-of-mouth, encyclopedias…the list could go on and on. Now all of those tools are in our mobile devices. We have the ability to look up restaurants, movies, etc. when we’re out and about. It makes life a lot easier.

Technological Smarts. Mobile apps are where it’s at. The biggest reason for my decision to get a smart phone is because I simply don’t want to get behind. The longer you wait to familiarize yourself with new technology the more behind you seem to get. With the quick pace at which technology moves a new system could be released before you even understand the old one. If PR practitioners want to be able to understand the stakeholders they serve, then they have to be familiar with the technology that’s being used.  Don’t believe that use of mobile web is significant? Check out some  smart phone usage statistics.

Jessica's new smart phone with the text "IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!" on the screen.

Hello Web 2.0!

So if I don’t like the idea of being connected all of the time then why did I get a smart phone? One word: necessity. I know it sounds crazy to say that I actually need a smart phone but I felt that with all the mobile applications and social media platforms like Foursquare out there if I didn’t get involved I’d get behind and could potentially miss out on opportunities.

Did anyone else out there get a smart phone because they felt they “had” to have one for the sake of their career? Or am I just one of the last people to jump on the bandwagon?

Posted by: Jess Scheve | March 3, 2011

7 Life Lessons from the Blogosphere

The other day I was thinking about all the new social media platforms that I have yet to familiarize myself with and I realized that learning about technology is just like learning about anything else in life – it’s an ongoing process. As students we work hard to transform ourselves professionally, but our development doesn’t end once we get the job of our dreams. In fact, getting the job is just the beginning. We continue to learn on the job and grow not only professionally and academically, but also as human beings.

It’s easy to forget that learning never really ends. It’s important that we remind ourselves of this from time to time; otherwise, we’ll find ourselves frustrated when something new comes along and we don’t know what we’re doing.

This technology induced pondering got me thinking about other life lessons that manifest themselves in areas of web 2.0. I found seven life lessons within the blogosphere alone. I haven’t mastered any of these yet, because – well –  like so many others I’m still a work in progress.

1. The world doesn’t revolve around you

Outdoor globe fountain

Image from everystockphoto.com. Licensing information

Web 2.0, especially blogging, is about having conversations. If you’re only talking about yourself all the time then people will probably stop listening, that is, if they were ever listening in the first place. If you want to learn more about blogging, then check out Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. If you’re blogging for business and you’ve never tried it before, then I’d recommend reading this before you get started. I read it for one of my classes last semester and found it very helpful.

2. Think big, start small

Yes, social media can offer great opportunities. Yes, it allows you to form relationships and reach out to people like never before. But if you’ve never dabbled in social media you can’t very well go diving right in. As a PR practitioner, you wouldn’t jump right into planning without doing a little research first, right? The same is true for social media. The best way to learn is from doing, yes, but you must have a basic understanding of what you’re dealing with first. Certain social media platforms have social (networking) norms that are not unlike norms that we may encounter in the “real world.” For more on these norms check out this handy guide on netiquette.

3. Sticks and stones may break your bones…

People are not always going to agree with what you have to say. This is as true in the blogosphere as it is in life. Don’t let this keep you from blogging. Most people are respectful and merely offer different points of view. The exchanging  of ideas is supposed to involve healthy debate, after all.

4. If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

Man jumping into water

Image from everystockphoto.com. Licensing Information

You may have rolled your eyes when you heard this as a youngster, but your mom was on to something. Just because “everyone” is blogging doesn’t mean it’s right for you or your organization. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish. If you’re blogging for a company, then who are you trying to reach? If you’re blogging for yourself then ask why. Are you trying to build a personal brand? Are you passionate about a particular subject? Do you have something interesting and unique to share with the world?

5. If you don’t have anything nice to say…

This may be one lesson that is best left outside the blogosphere – well, sort of. Blogging is supposed to be about sharing information and opinions. Some people may not agree with you; you may not agree with them. That’s okay. It’s okay to share your opinions. Just keep in mind that what you say is out there for everyone to see. This leads me to another life lesson: it’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it. In other words keep it respectful. No name calling or attacking an individual. It doesn’t make you look intelligent, in fact it has the opposite effect. This one may be common sense, but it’s always a good thing to keep in mind.

6. Do onto others as you’d have others do onto you

This one isn’t always easy because we get so caught up in maintaining our own content that we fail to keep up with others’.  But it’s good  to try to read and comment on other people’s blogs. Think about how great it feels when you get feedback. People will appreciate it and who knows? It may lead to a link which could help your rankings when people search for your blog. To learn more on how to maximize your rankings check out some more on SEO.

7. Rome wasn’t built in a day

You’re not going to be an overnight success. It takes time. You have to be willing to not only post on a regular basis, but also to read and post on other blogs. But don’t worry. You’ll get there.

In case you couldn’t tell I was having some fun with cliches – maybe a little too much fun. I found some more advice for you with the help of cliché finder.

  • Make you’re own luck
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

And don’t forget to…

  • Think outside the box

What other clichés can you find that relate to the blogosphere?

Posted by: Jess Scheve | February 24, 2011

Staying Motivated as You Build Your Online Presence

If you’re anything like me, when you begin a new endeavor you feel really energized and excited. As time goes on, however, you begin to lose steam. You realize that you still have a long way to go to reach your goal and it feels like it’s going to take an eternity. Most of us have been there. 

Long and Winding Road

Image from manofthehouse.com

I feel this way at times as I work toward my master’s degree. While the past semester and a half seems to have flown by, sometimes when I think about every thing that I still have to do I just want to run and hide.  If I’ve learned anything about setting goals though, it’s that we have to accept the fact that there will be times when we lack motivation.

The same thing can happen when you begin to build your online presence. You get really excited about all of the great opportunities that social networking offers, but when you find yourself spending hours trying to set up profiles and obtain followers, the task becomes a daunting one.

So what can you do to keep yourself motivated? When it comes to social media the biggest deterrent tends to be the time commitment. Below I outline some tips and resources to save you some time and make your online life a little easier.

1. Remember that it gets easier.

Social networking tends to be the most time-consuming when you’re first starting out. Don’t let this stop you from participating. It’s much more difficult to establish your presence than it is to maintain it. Once you put the time into creating a profile and making contacts it’ll get easier. I promise.

2. Streamline your online life.

Trying to keep up with multiple sites can be overwhelming. Make it easier on yourself.

*Note-Be careful with posting to multiple accounts at the same time as some people might think you’re a spammer. One of my classmates recently posted some great information on spamming.

There are actually a lot of resources on streamlining – but don’t take my word for it. Check out these sites for additional information:

Socialmedia.biz

The World is Your Oyster

Mashable

If you’re a fan of The Office at all then you may be familiar with WUPH – the ultimate tool in streamlining social networking sites.

3. Start small

Don’t try to get involved in too many social networking sites at once. Try one platform and once you feel comfortable with that, gradually add more to your online repertoire.

4. Make social networking part of your daily routine

If managing all of your social media feels overwhelming, then try picking one or two times a day to check them. Try to do this at the same time every day until it becomes a habit. If you find yourself spending too much time on a site then set a time limit, say 15 minutes. It’s really easy to get “sucked in” to social networking sites; so once your time is up force yourself to log off right away.

5. Make use of “in between time”

If you absolutely cannot limit yourself to checking your accounts only once or twice a day, then try squeezing in some time when you’re just waiting around. If, for instance, you’re a student and you’ve got 15 minutes between classes or you’re waiting at the dentist’s office. Or you’re on your way out and you’re waiting on your significant other to finish getting ready…again.

*Note-I realize that some of these “in between” times only work if you’ve got a smart phone. We will talk about whether or not you need one in a future post.

6. Be selective

Certain sites, like LinkedIn or Twitter, may be a necessity if you’re in public relations, but don’t feel like you have to be involved in every single social network platform known to man. If you’re not sure whether or not you want to commit to a site then just observe for a while. If it seems beneficial to you then go for it, if not then don’t sweat it. Just be strategic about which sites you choose.

7. Have fun with it!

Okay, so this one may be obvious but I’m superstitious and six is an unlucky number! But seriously, social media should be about more than just work. Connect with old friends. Read interesting stories. Keep your family and friends updated on what’s going on in your life. The more fun you have with it the more motivated you’ll be to keep up with it.

For general tips on how to stay motivated check out Zen Habits. The blogger, Leo Babuata, was responsible for the Mashable article listed above and happens to be one of my favorites.

And remember: when your inner child screams “I DON’T WANNA” you’re not  alone.

Child Throwing a fit

Image from watchmojo.com

Posted by: Jess Scheve | February 10, 2011

The Best Links in Life are Free…

For a mere $25 per month you can learn how to use social media from “industry experts.” Or you can take a look at some of the free resources that the web has to offer. The choice is yours.

Recently I came across Exploring Social Media, a “how-to” social media guide from the folks at Social Media Explorer.  The guide offers webinars and expert advice on how to use social media. Now, I’m not knocking this program as I myself am paying to learn about social media via my Master’s program at Kent State, but I would like any social media “newbies” out there to know that there are many free resources that you can find online.

"Free" sign

donanza.com

I’ve outlined a few below.  You will find links to some of the tutorials below each source, but please note that  many of the sources listed offer advice and tutorials for multiple social networking sites. The list is by no means comprehensive– but it will get you started.

Go Directly to the Source

Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Delicious all offer support pages and/or “how to” guides. If you’re just beginning, the pages can give you information on how to get started. If you’re a veteran, then don’t overlook these support pages just yet- there’s often troubleshooting information.

Howcast.com

With video tutorials on everything from blogging to how to use twitter for business, Howcast.com is a great resource for learning about various social media platforms.  There’s even a video that walks you through setting up a Twitter account.

Blogs

There are numerous blogs out there that offer advice on how to use social media. The ones I’ve listed here have multiple resources on various social media. If you don’t find what you’re looking for at one of these blogs, then try a blog search engine like Technorati or BlogPulse.

eHow.com

With a combination of text and video tutorials, eHow.com offers information on how to set up a Facebook account, how to use Foursquare, how to get blog traffic and more!

The advantage that a program like Exploring Social Media offers is that it does give you the opportunity to ask questions. You can post questions on blogs or in forums, but there is no guarantee that you’ll get the answers you need. If you only have a limited amount of time to learn about social networking, or if you absolutely must have the one-on-one support that paid tutorials offer, then don’t let me stop you. If you can’t fork over the extra cash, however, then check out some of these sites.

Money Tree

vcsu.edu

In the spirit of transparency I would like to make a disclaimer: I am NOT an expert in social media. Like you, I’m still learning about a lot of this new media.  That being said, if you know of any other great sites please feel free to share them!

Posted by: Jess Scheve | February 2, 2011

The Ghosts of PR Past, Present and Future

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, a blog and several e-mail accounts.  I find it all a bit overwhelming. And those are just the bare minimum.  I have yet to get involved in sites like Flikr, Delicious or Digg.

Twitter/Facebook Icons

realizedworth.blogspot.com

I was reluctant to get too involved in social media. It seemed so time consuming and addicting. When I was an undergraduate it was not important for a PR practitioner to have an “online presence.”  Now it’s expected. Having only just received my bachelor’s in 2008, I find myself wondering how I “missed the train.”  Did the use of social media really explode in two and a half years? I guess a lot can change in a couple of years.

The Past

Around three years ago I had an internship at the PR office of my undergraduate school, Ashland University. Since I was only an intern working a mere ten hours a week, I can’t say that I am familiar with every single tactic that the department used; however, I can say that they used the trusty press release—a lot.  How do I know this? My duties included writing basic press releases, primarily about students. Some of the releases were about students’ involvement in extra-curricular activities but a vast majority of the releases were about high school students who had received scholarships to attend the school.  I did these releases so frequently that they started to feel like a journalistic version of  Mad Libs. While they varied from student to student, they typically looked something like this:

Madlibs

dirkdye4419.blogspot.com

_________, son/daughter of __________ has received a Presidential Scholarship in the amount of $7,000.00 to attend Ashland University.   _________ is a senior at _________ High School.  ___________ plays ________, is vice-president of ________ and volunteers at __________.  In his/her spare time _______ enjoys _______ and ________.

My other duty at the PR office included photocopying and filing news clippings of stories about the University, its departments, its students, its faculty and staff, its alumni and so forth.  Now don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from this internship.  While some interns may be in charge of nothing more than faxing, copying and getting coffee, I actually had the opportunity to contribute to the public relations efforts and I got to see the fruits of my labors when my releases got printed.  What more could an intern ask for?

As grateful as I am for my internship and the education that I received, neither taught me about using social media as a PR tactic. As a matter of fact, what little I do know about using social media as a PR tactic comes from my personal use of Facebook.  This is no one’s fault really.  The fact of the matter is that the social media “phenomenon” seems to have exploded within a short period of time.  I graduated from college in 2008 and in the two and a half years since I have seen Facebook go from being something used primarily by high school and college students to something that everyone uses.  Heck, even my grandmother, (who is 76 by the way), uses Facebook!

The Present

Honestly, I do find myself struggling to catch up at times. But social media is something that you can only really learn by doing. So my advice to all of you PR folks out there: if you haven’t joined already, you had better do so. And fast. With the rate things are going the next “big thing” could hit the web before you’ve even established a profile on Twitter.  The sooner you join, the easier it will be.

Maybe in a way we’re all better people because of social media.  One Mashable blogger even reflects on this in the article Why Social Media Is Bringing Back our Grandparents’ Values.  Think about it.

  • It’s easier to keep in touch with  anyone from an old high school friend to your Aunt Mary.
  • You now look thoughtful because Facebook reminded you to wish your friend a happy birthday.
  • You’re up on all the latest trends and current events thanks to the buzz on Twitter and Facebook.
  • That potential dream job finds YOU because you have an awesome profile set up on LinkedIn.
  • You have a chance to express yourself in “real-time.”

The Future?

I can’t say what the future holds for PR or social media, but I know that in order to be successful right now I must become a master of social media. My hope is that someone else who is in the process of submerging themselves into the online world of public relations finds this useful.  I invite you to share your experiences and in the spirit of Web 2.0—join the conversation!

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