March 4, 2013
Last week, a colleague and I gave a presentation at Whitman College to help students transition to alumni and especially to take advantage of Whitman’s alumni network. As part of the presentation we talked about reputation and what it means for the job search.
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
In today’s world of 24 hour access to the Internet and searches that can find anything, there’s really no place for double speak/standards. You are what you do, say and act. And…there’s nowhere to hide. Realizing that employers and others you want to impress review personal blogs and social networks means it’s time to focus on where you want to go in life.
So, how do you figure out who you are and who you want to be in 10 years? I almost always start solving problems by answering some questions.
- Who are you?
- What makes you unique?
- What do you believe in?
- Who do you want to be?
- What do you most like doing?
- What do people say you’re good at doing?
- Do you like doing those things?
- What about you can help you achieve those?
- What do you need to learn/do to get there?
- What can’t you live without doing?
These and other questions you add might help you get a framework started. What else would you ask?
Once you’ve answered these questions and built a framework, take a look back and see if there are things you might need to change in your life or things you might wish had ended differently. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it and change.
Google yourself to make sure there aren’t things out there you wish were hidden. Knowing you can only go forward, consider what you can do to make sure those don’t happen again.
Going forward always test your decisions against the answers you gave to the questions above. Always be true to who you want to be. Consistency and persistence are important. If you’re making choices not in keeping with your decisions, you’ll stray from the path you took so much effort to set.
Patience is a virtue.
This is often the hardest step of all. We want to get to the finish line hours – or years – before we really need to get there. We don’t always realize how much we can learn along the way and how the journey might be different as we make choices from what we learn along the way.
And remember today’s world means there is an increasingly blurred line between your professional and your personal one. Have fun with social networking but post thoughtfully. Think about how your post would look in headlines.
How did you figure out your path in life? What advice do you have for new graduates?
February 13, 2013
This morning’s Solo PR chat started with a robust discussion about blogging; whether or not to make your blog your home page. This quickly changed to a much broader discussion about blogging in general. The typical answer to questions like this is…it depends.
As with all aspects of public relations or strategic communication, a good plan is the best way to begin. Some questions to consider:
- Why do you want to blog?
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- Who is your audience?
- What do you want to talk about?
- What are you known for?
- What do you want to be known for?
- Is anyone else already blogging in this space?
- If so, how will your blog be different?
Once you decide to blog, and what to blog about, consider the time commitment. Begin with the assumption you can write, edit and post in 90 minutes to 2 hours. If that’s the case, block out time on your calendar to write your posts.
Based on the general topics you’ve defined through the planning process, outline some posts for at least the first three months. This should give you a base from which to build some consistency.
Several participants on this morning’s chat shared my issue with confidence. Do people really want to read what I write? For some reason, the public nature of blogging raises confidence issues for many of us who regularly write for others. One way to overcome that is to have a trusted colleague who’s in the target audience take a quick look at your posts before they go live. It often helps strengthen a post.
Once you’ve decided to blog and determined your topics, look at your website and see where the blog should live. That’s actually what started the discussion on the chat…whether your blog should be your home page or not. Again, look at what you’re trying to do and why. Should you even attach your blog to your business site? For some, the blog is their business site.
Chances are, as long as you’ve thought it through, whatever you decide will work. It’s just like many aspects of strategic communications:
One size doesn’t fit all.
December 12, 2011
Always behave like a duck – keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.
~ Jacob Braude
Public relations professionals are often known for their calm demeanor in stressful situations. However, most I know subscribe to this quotation as we often feel as though we’re moving as fast as we can to keep 95 balls in the air at once. It’s a good sign when our clients or bosses don’t realize we’re paddling so fast. During the holiday season, the paddling becomes positively ferocious!
Another factor facing all of us is the seemingly ever-increasing speed of change. As communications professionals, we are expected to be savvy about the latest social media tools and understand their uses for our clients and bosses. Staying on top of things can be stressful in and of itself.
Not that I always stay stress-free by any stretch of the imagination but I thought I would offer some of my techniques to keep up to date on trends and the latest widget to help us do our jobs, and also ask you for yours:
Instapaper is a wonderful application on my computer that give me the flexibility to read great articles later in the day or week. I mark them to “read later” and then read them on my iPad while relaxing in the evening so it doesn’t take time away from the workday.
Articles with interesting techniques or thoughtful messages get bookmarked immediately so I can always find them later. Using a tool like Diigo means others can access my bookmarks as well. This helps greatly with what we call the “tire kickers” who really just want to pick my brain, rather than hire me to help them. It’s easy to say – check out the articles I’ve bookmarked about “such and such.” I feel I’m still helping them but it’s not time consuming for me.
Dedicate a certain amount of time each week to learning
It’s very easy for me to get sidetracked and lose focus on what I’m supposed to be doing. So I try to set aside an hour (or two) a day just to learn from the social networks where I’m engaged. This could mean reading tweets, participating in a Twitter chat, or talking with other professionals about what they are learning.
Engage in professional organization networking
Throughout my career I’ve made it a point to be engaged with my professional organization – in my case PRSA. The dividends that involvement pays are absolutely enormous. Find the professional group that’s most active in your area and get engaged. Or, create your own network of people you share with. Set aside a regular time to get together and talk about business issues.
I don’t expect to be paid by clients for all the research I do to learn new tools but consider it a business investment. However, the fact that I work hard to stay on top of trends is a reason they seek my advice. That makes it an important part of my workweek.
As far as keeping the stress to myself, sometimes that’s harder than it I want it to be. But, I find focusing on slowing down and deep, slow breathing often do the trick. If I am heading to a client’s office, I purposely slow my pace before I get there, and walk slowly to the building/office.
How do you stay on top of trends and the “latest” widget? How do you keep from displaying your stress to clients or your boss?
October 14, 2011
I’ve just arrived in Orlando for PRSA’s annual conference, it’s a great mix of professional development, networking and inspirational talks. For those of us from Alaska, it’s also a fresh dose of vitamin D. The sunshine is wonderful.
For the first time, I’m trying to be virtually paperless, and laptop-less. My briefcase is considerably lighter without the laptop and the iPad takes up just a tiny amount of space. It seems rather freeing.
But, will I be able to take the notes I would normally take? You know…the ones you swear you’ll review and use later?
Do I need the crutch of the printed agenda, bylaws and other items to stay on track in the Leadership Assembly?
Can I create blog posts 100% on the iPad? This is the test!
Can I give the College of Fellows presentation without notes?
Will my professional development workshop run smoothly on the iPad and iPhone?
That last question is a great one and I’m looking forward to Monday morning. I have a thumb drive as back-up but am planning to run the presentation using Keynote from my iPhone using the Keynote Remote on my iPad. This set up means my notes will display more easily.
Other applications I’m counting on are Notes and Penultimate. I plan to give my Wacom bamboo stylus a workout. Apps and reminders ought to keep me on track as far as the schedule goes, combined with PRSA’s handy conference app.
I’ll update this post Tuesday with details on how it went, and suggestions for next time.
But, have you tried to go paperless? Laptop-less? How did you do it?
October 11, 2011
This week, like many of my colleagues, I’m scrunching my work week into about 4 days before heading to Orlando for the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference.
Coming from Alaska, I’m also looking forward to some warm sunshine. This conference is my largest professional development expense each year but it pays dividends well beyond its expense. For those coming for the first time, or wanting to know how to maximize the experience, I offer some tips:
1) Plan ahead for professional development workshops
There are so many professional development workshops it can be overwhelming. Before reaching Orlando, figure out what types of things you want to learn. Then you can focus your attention on those topics in the program. To make things easier, the workshops are divided into several tracks:
- Strategies — Sessions address strategic thinking and planning, reputation, behavior change, branding, marketing mix, risk communications, collaboration and policy development.
- Tools & Techniques — Sessions address proven tactics, techniques and case studies in public relations, integrated marketing communications (IMC), messaging, word-of-mouth, media relations, media pitching, content creation, skills building and social media.
- Specialization — Sessions include targeted content for PRSA Professional Interest Sections-sponsored programming, focusing on specific audiences and industries. Topics include health, global, travel, employee communications, diversity and financial, among others.
- ROI — Sessions address the roles of research, social media measurement, ethics and brand value, as well as The Business Case for Public Relations™.
- Leadership & Management
Download the conference app to your smart phone and select session you want to attend. At the bottom of each session on the app is “add to calendar.” If you think you’re interested, add it. Once you’re done, check your calendar for duplicates and decide which is the higher priority. I sometimes don’t delete the second choices from my calendar as, occasionally, a session won’t focus where I thought it was going to focus. It’s okay to move to your second choice when that happens.
2) Take notes
Once you’ve decided on sessions, download the presentations for those workshops which the presenters provided ahead of time. Then, take notes so you can remember relevant information when you’re back home and need to apply it. On the other hand, don’t spend so much of the conference note taking that you don’t see those around you.
3) Attend social and networking events
Meeting other professionals from around the US and other countries is a wonderful benefit of the conference. Don’t skip out on any of these events including the opening night reception, lunches, exhibit hall events and such. In fact, there’s a newcomer’s session Sunday morning at 11 AM. This is a great opportunity for those new to the conference.
If you have a specialty or want to grow one, check out the activities from PRSA’s professional interest sections, especially during Monday’s lunch. Here you can meet people who share your specific career interest. There are also a couple of tweetups already scheduled you shouldn’t miss…even if you’re not on Twitter.
There are also opportunities to meet with senior professionals from PRSA’s College of Fellows about your career goals, have your resume reviewed and get answers to your most pressing professional needs.
Now that you’ve made a few friends, get a group together for dinner on Monday night. There are several restaurants within 10-15 minute cab ride of the hotel.
You don’t have to wear your most formal business clothes but make sure you look professional. Slacks and sweater sets are some of my favorite outfits. You’ll be mixing with those who could hire you some day as well as those who want to work for you. Look —and act — the part you want others to see. Wear comfortable shoes. No matter what, you’ll be walking a lot to get from workshop to sessions and such. There’s no point in having achy feet.
5) Have fun
Having gone to the conference and been involved in PRSA nationally for several years, I see friends there I only see at conference each year. But we look forward to seeing each other. The time spent chatting in the lounge or hallways can be as valuable as the time in a workshop.
When you get home, enter your new friends’ contact information in your address book and send a follow-up note. Connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or whatever your favorite tool is to keep you connected throughout the year.