Tag Archives: social media

So You Just Graduated and You Want a Job

November 14, 2009

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Last week, I attended my sixth or seventh Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference, dating back to my years with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) while I was in college. Indeed, the fact that PRSSA co-locates their national conference in the same city as the big kids conference is one of the reasons why I think it’s such a good event. I also recently participated in a panel event put on by the Georgetown chapter of the the Social Media Education Connection (SMCEDU) where we talked about social media with a group of Georgetown students.  Between these two events and my involvement with SMCEDU, I’ve spoken with a LOT of very bright, very ambitious, and very enthusiastic students.

Talking with these student reminded me of a recent post I did for the PRSA-NCC blog, “I Just Graduated and I Want a Job in Social Media.”  So, to help those students I’ve met recently, including: Renee Goldman, Yu-Ching Chiang, Heather Richey, Brooks Cooper, Jen Dryer, Courtney Wilson, Mike Hayes, and many others I’ve met over the last few weeks, I’m reprinting that post here:

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Are you "digitally prepared" for a job?

For the last few months, I’ve been talking with a lot of new college grads about their college experiences, jobs, and careers.  When I tell these eager young professionals that I’m a communications consultant who specializes in social media, I usually get one of two questions: 1) What does that mean? or 2) Seriously? How do I get to do that?

To address those of you who would have asked me the first question, I help my government clients develop and implement communications strategies and tactics so that they can better communicate with their employees, other government partners, the general public – essentially with any of their stakeholders. One way in which I do this is through the strategic use of social media tools like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

However, the second question has been much more popular and has led to the most interesting conversations.  So, for all you new college graduates out there looking to get a public relations or communications position that involves social media, here’s a little primer:

DO include links to your blog, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Twitter profile or any other social media site on your resume. Employers want to see things that you’ve written and how you use these sites.

DON’T forget to make use of the privacy settings on these sites.  Your future employer WILL Google you, not to try to find incriminating pictures, but to get a better idea of how you use social media. Using Facebook to organize your local PRSSA chapter is very different from using Facebook to invite your friends to a kegger. It’s all about balance – most people realize that you have a life outside of work.  That’s ok.  Just make sure that’s not all you’re about.

DO some research on your potential employer and discover what, if any, social media presence they have.  If you’re applying for a government position working with communications or social media, you better be able to tell me that you at least know what GovLoop is.

DON’T try too hard.  I don’t want to do a search on you to discover that you joined Twitter a week ago and you’re following every Booz Allen employee you could find or that you’ve just joined 26 different PR-related groups on LinkedIn in the last few days.  Just be you and be authentic.

DO be ready to walk me through the steps you might take if I told you that I the CEO of a company and I wanted to start a blog.  Hint: if you tell me that you don’t have any experience with doing that, you’re probably not going to be interviewing much longer 🙂

DON’T overvalue your social media skills.  Social media, while hot right now, isn’t always the answer.  Make sure that you have a solid understanding of communication principles because we can teach you how to use Twitter – it’s much more difficult to teach you how to successfully build a communications strategy.

And last, but certainly not least, please DO a Google search for your name.  What shows up?  What doesn’t?  Remember that this is the new first impression.  If you aren’t completely honest about your skills and experiences, it’s really easy to track your digital exhaust and find out the truth. So, what kind of first impression do you want to make?

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PRSA Members Shed Light on Future of Public Relations

November 7, 2009

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PRSA Cover

Download the Survey Report

As the line between communication sender and receiver continue to blur, and the concepts of news cycles and gatekeepers become outdated lexicons of an industry that is undergoing a major transformation, public relations professionals find themselves at a cross-roads.  Let’s face it – public relations itself is having a bit of an identity crisis.  Between the decline of the newspaper industry, the personalization of mass media, and the expansion of social media into every segment of the population, the image of the public relations professional of Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee has become barely recognizable.

What is the role of the public relations professional in today’s communication environment?  What does the future hold?

Well, according to a recent survey by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Booz Allen Hamilton (full disclosure – I work for Booz Allen), the future of public relations will be marked by three topics:

  1. Justifying return on investment (ROI)
  2. Fighting to stay current with the latest technologies and methodologies
  3. Managing the ever-expanding channels of communications

“Social media tools will continue to change and evolve – we should not get stuck on a particular tool but be flexible and put our strategy to work on the appropriate platform.”
–    PRSA member and survey respondent

More than 2,000 PRSA members responded to the survey and provided their thoughts on the challenges they were facing, future trends, and those skills highest in demand now and in the future.

When asked to identify the top challenge they expect to face over the next five years, almost 60% of all respondents said that dealing with limited resources due to economic pressures would be a “great challenge.”  Justifying return on investment and finding the time to engage in online social media communities were the other two top challenges identified by more than half of the respondents.

The major findings are available in the full survey report and you can download that here.

In reviewing the results of the survey, there were a few other interesting points that jumped out at me that didn’t make it into the final report:

  • Almost 70% of respondents were women, matching closely the PRSA membership as a whole.
  • 93% of respondents identified themselves as white or causcasian
  • 29% of respondents were 32 years old or younger, the most popular age group among respondents
  • Compared to more than 40% of respondents who update their website every day, less than 20% comment on, or create content for, blogs on a daily basis
  • The skills identified most often by the respondents as being in highest demand over the next five years are strategic communications, social media, and crisis communications

On Monday, November 9th one of Booz Allen’s Vice President’s, Maria Darby (and one of my friends and mentors), will be briefing the results of this survey and discussing the future of communications and the public relations industry at the PRSA International Conference in San Diego,.  I’ll be joining her for a panel discussion following her presentation so if you’ll be there, make sure you stop by and say hello!

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Taking Gov 2.0 to the Ballpark

September 25, 2009

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Sports franchises face many of the same challenges in implementing social media as government agencies do

Sports franchises face many of the same challenges in implementing social media as government agencies do

I recently had the honor to join Frank Gruber, Shashi Bellamkonda, Mike Tunison, Gayle Weiswasser, and several other social media and microtargeting professionals (sorry I didn’t get everyone’s Twitter names!) to meet with Stan Kasten, President of the Washington Nationals, and several other team executives to discuss how sports teams can better use social media to increase awareness of the team’s activities both on and off the field, better engage with their existing fans and potential fans, create more fans, generate more positive media coverage, and ultimately, help sell more tickets and build a better baseball team. We were all brought together to brainstorm what the Nationals were doing well, what they could be doing better, and what they hadn’t thought of yet. If you aren’t familiar with my background, this was a dream come true for me – bringing together my love for social media and communications and my love of sports. I’ve always been a huge sports fan and used to work in public relations for a minor league hockey team, so I was extremely excited for this opportunity.

However, despite sitting in a conference room at one of the nicest ballparks in the Majors talking with some of the league’s most powerful baseball people, I couldn’t help but feel like I was again sitting in a nondescript cubicle in some office park talking with the Branch Director for a government agency.  From the opening introduction – “you have to understand, we’re dealing with a very unique situation that’s different from your typical organization,” to the challenges they face, “we have to work under Major League Baseball’s strict communications policies so we’re really limited in what we can just go and do,” – the similarities between sports teams’ use of social media and the government’s use of social media really struck a chord with me.

  • Both are trying to reach a very broad and very diverse group of people that crosses all demographics
  • Both operate under a broader entity that creates and enforces the policies and guidelines for communications, including the use of social media
  • Both are primarily operated by conservative and traditional leaders who rely on the command and control communications model
  • Both deal with VERY passionate and very partisan (both positively and negatively) stakeholders
  • Both typically have relatively small communications budgets
  • Both are usually so concerned with the overall mission that communications doesn’t receive the attention or commitment it requires
  • Both deal with media who crave all the information they can possibly get
  • Both operate in a system where they should communicate with other organizations with a similar mission, but instead find themselves in competition with each other
  • Both are determining the best way to educate employees (or players) outside of the traditional communications function who are actively using social media to communicate directly with the public

While there are most definitely some differences, when it comes to social media, the fact remains that we had the exact same conversation the other night with the Nationals that I’ve had dozens of other times with government agencies. Neither the challenges nor the solutions are all that different. During the meeting, I mentioned some of these similarities  – if the government can use social media to do share classified information across Agency firewalls using Intellipedia and the Air Force can allow their airmen to engage directly with the public via social media, there’s no reason similar strategies and tactics can’t be applied to a sports franchise. Sports teams have too much gain from social media and too much to lose by not engaging – it’s a no-brainer to me.

The sports community is a very insulated community – teams and leagues generally look inside the sports industry to hire their communications and marketing professionals, but maybe they should take a look at the Government 2.0 industry to find that next pool of communications talent and innovation.  After all, we’re dealing with many of the same issues they are.

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The Week of Gov 2.0 – Longing for More

September 14, 2009

52 Comments

Image Courtesy of Flickr User Alex Dunne

Image Courtesy of Flickr User Alex Dunne

We’ve already had the Summer of Gov, but September 7-11 was the Week of Gov.  With the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase on Tuesday and the Gov 2.0 Summit on Wednesday and Thursday, plus a multitude of happy hours and networking receptions, I was immersed in all things Gov 2.0 last week.  There are already plenty of recaps, summaries, and other articles detailing the events of last week – if you’re interested in finding out what you missed, videos from all of the sessions are (or will soon be) posted here.  Watch those, and then read through all of the news coverage here for that.  Now, what I want to explore in this post is one particular topic that came up time and time again among the attendees I spoke with.

There were some very successful, very cool Gov 2.0 initiatives that were highlighted, but while I came away both impressed and inspired by the results that were discussed, I was left asking myself more and more questions about HOW the speakers got to these results.  This isn’t a criticism of these two events – I realize that I wasn’t the target audience for the Summit (that program was geared more toward C-level execs) and the Showcase was more of a teaser for the Gov 2.0 Expo coming up in May.  That’s exactly why I now have more questions than answers – I want to know about the challenges these people faced; I want to know the risks they took and why; I want to know what they’d do differently if they could go back in time – most of all, I want to know how they went from good idea to being highlighted at the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase or Gov 2.0 Summit.

As my colleague Brian Drake discussed in this blog post, we both spoke with a number of people who would like to see a  Gov 2.0 Practitioner event that targets the people actually doing the work of Government 2.0.  While it’s great to hear from people like Vivek Kundra and Vint Cerf, it’s difficult for me to relate directly to their experiences or to turn that knowledge into something actionable in my day-to-day job.  A Gov 2.0 Practitioner conference that focuses on the real-life challenges, benefits, and concrete actions would help fill this gap, giving attendees a action plan for moving forward.  So while I left the Gov 2.0 Summit feeling excited about the prospects of OpenID and Government 2.0, I was also left asking myself things like, “that’s great that OpenID is coming to the government, but now what?  How do I help my client’s organization take advantage of this program?  How do I turn this great idea into something actionable for my client?”

I think there’s a very real need for an event that brings together Gov 2.0 practitioners and aspiring practitioners in one place to share war stories, to discuss what really works and what doesn’t, and to learn from each others’ mistakes and successes.  Maybe it’s another Gov 2.0 Barcamp or another event entirely, but I don’t need another event to discover the benefits of opening up my data or by communicating more transparently.  What I need is an event that tells me how I get my manager to sign off on dedicating the resources needed to make that data open and accessible. I need an event that answers these questions  (and more):

  • How do I negotiate with my IT staff to get social media sites unblocked?
  • How do I involve our Legal department when I’m terrified they’re going to shut me down?
  • What’s the best way to get people to contribute to our organizational wiki?
  • What am I missing in my social media policy?
  • How do I best get senior leadership to actively participate in social media?  Should they?
  • We still have Internet Explorer 6 – how am I supposed to get IT to support social media?
  • We have a blog, Twitter account, podcasts, and other social media already, but no one is using them – what’s the best way to build more community?
  • We have a TON of data that I want to open up to the public, but I don’t own any of it – how do I approach the owners of this data and convince them to open it up?

Would you be interested in an event dedicated to sharing these types of war stories and providing actionable next steps that you could use?  If you’ve ever left a Gov 2.0 conference and had any of these questions, then you’re the target audience!

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