Making the Investment

When starting a new job, it’s easy to get sucked into the newness of it all. You want to do well, you want to be sure that your organization values your presence, and the everyday treadmill can feel as though it’s on incline 8.0 at speed 7.5.  However, as one of my superiors recently mentioned in one of my company’s “peer lunches,” it is critically important that we all take time to “make the investment.”

What did she mean by “make the investment?” She meant that as young professionals,  our personal brand and reputation does and should extend past the confines of our current job.  We spend all day (and sometimes nights) investing in our clients, making sure they are succeeding in achieving their goals, but we have to take time to invest in ourselves.  

Much like our clients have business goals to guide their strategic communications,  we should have career goals to guide our strategic personal branding.  Here are 5 steps to help all of us make the investment in ourselves:

 

1. Write down two goals you’d like to achieve in your next year of your career. Note- these should be personal goals, not client-based or company-based.

2. Ask yourself, your peers, or even your boss (where applicable) what the best way is to achieve these goals.  What do you need to do between points A and B? Write these down in specific, realistic terms.

3. Start with the simplest action first. (I find tackling a daunting list can be best achieved by easing yourself in.)

4. Congratulate yourself! Take the time to celebrate that you’re making an investment in your long-term professional brand.

5. Complete the rest of the actions on your pathway list.  Now celebrate! You’re well on your way to achieving your goals,  and you’ve taken the time to make the investment.

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Boston

I consider myself part of the “9-11” generation.  While we were too young to truly understand what happened that day, we will always remember where we were, who told us, and the images of the World Trade Center towers crumbling to the ground.  In Hopkinton, MA, we remember our teachers telling us  that we were going to have a “practice indoor recess,” or that there were “bees in the backstop” outside.   Only later did we find out that concerns about the planes having taken off from Logan Airport in Boston was the true reason for this change to our routine.  My journal from shortly after that day speaks in an angry fifth-grader’s voice about “some jerk named Osama Bin Laden” who flew planes into the World Trade Center.  At the end of the year, myself and my classmates sang “Proud to Be An American,” (complete with hand gestures) at the end-of-year school assembly.  We didn’t understand much, but we understood enough to know our world had somehow changed.  We were scared.

Twelve years later, I’ll admit I still have fears.  Anytime I’m on a crowded subway train in Boston, my blood pressure spikes, as I try to move the thought of the 2007 London bombings out of my mind.  In 2005, when I began volunteering at a Boston cultural institution, my mother and I made an emergency meeting plan, should a terrorist attack take place in our city.  I still remember where I was supposed to meet her, and think about it every time I drive by.  For me, yesterday felt like the inevitable culmination of twelve years of fears.  As surreal as the images are, this attack felt to me more like a “when,” than an “if.”

Nonetheless, this attack on the city I love is hitting particularly hard.  To the rest of the country, the Boston Marathon may be just a race.  They may never have even heard of it.   For myself and my classmates from Hopkinton, MA, however, the Boston Marathon is religion.  Every April, the roads close down, there is no school, and hundreds of port-a-potties and white tents cover our sports fields and town common.  We walk or bike to the town common with our friends and families.  Maybe we volunteer, and help load runners’ gear onto buses to be delivered to the finish line in downtown Boston.  Everything stops, and our tiny town becomes the epicenter of a major celebratory event.  Yesterday, someone or some group of terrible people ripped a hole in the heart of Boston, and this wound extends the 26.2 miles back into Hopkinton.  I have no doubt the city and the state will heal, but it will take time.

For now, let’s just take a moment to reflect on why a generation of children were scarred forever on 9-11, and another, too young to remember 9-11, were scarred again yesterday. Planes, crowds, movie theaters, classrooms…these places should be safe.  The answer to your problems, oh-crazy-ones, is not violence.  I don’t have a solution, but the second we stop looking for a solution, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes have won.  This may not have happened in your town, or your state, or near you, but someday it just might.  I’d like to think my children will live in a better world than the one I’ve grown up in, and I’d like to start changing things now.

5 Reasons YOU Should Register and Go to the Conference this Saturday!

One of the events I’ve put my heart, soul & PR savvy into at Syracuse University is taking place TOMORROW!

I’ll analyze it from a PR & social media event marketing standpoint after the conference. But first, I hope to see you all there! If not in person, via the Twitterstream at #HateExpires.

Life Gets Better Together

The countdown is winding down, and after months of preparation, debating, brainstorming, thinking, planning, scheduling, marketing, promoting, designing, acting, dancing, blogging, it has finally come down to this: we are 2 days away from the Life Gets Better Together Conference! 

For our second year in a row, we are back on the Syracuse University campus to advocate and teach the SU and Central NY community about issues surrounding LGBT Youth. If you haven’t heard our spot on Z89 radio, seen our posters around campus, saw the article about us in the Daily Orange, then it’s time we break the news to you: this Saturday, April 13th, we want you to join us at the Life Gets Better Together Conference at Newhouse III on the Syracuse University campus. We also want you to register here!

OK, OK, we get it: weeks are so busy, filled with working 9-5, cramming for those…

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So you’re not at SxSW…

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While the Twittersphere blows up during SxSW (South by Southwest, a social media and music festival in Texas), I’ll be at home grading midterms and working on preparations for Life Gets Better Together (an LGBTQ youth advocacy conference in Syracuse this April).  Just because I’m not attending, however, doesn’t mean I will miss out on all the insights, and neither should you!  The following 5 steps will help all of us not physically present at SxSW make the most of this next week.

1) Find the SxSW programming schedule online, and find the sessions that interest you most.

2) Use HootSuite’s “Search” stream capabilities to save those session titles as streams.  If there is an official hashtag for those sessions, use that instead.

3) Create Google alerts for blogs/news about those sessions.  It is very likely that attendees will be writing about those sessions, and you can gain great insights from reading these write-ups!

4) Create Twitter lists to follow your favorite experts presenting at SxSW, or even just people you know who are attending.  You can then turn these lists into saved streams in HootSuite, giving you a quick and easy way to follow along with the presenters and attendees experiences.

5)  Don’t forget to search platforms like Storify and Slideshare for stories and presentations from SxSW.  While they may not be posted immediately, they will be gold mines of SxSW knowledge after the fact!

The Big Debate over Big Data

This past Monday, Syracuse University hosted three distinguished leaders in politics, digital media and information studies for what quickly became a heated discussion about the merits vs. pitfalls of “big data” and its role in our political system.  Ashley Bryant (State Digital Director of Ohio for the 2012 Obama Campaign), Professor Paul Morarescu (School of Information Studies) and Professor Grant Reeher (Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs) differed greatly in their analysis of how big data can affect U.S. politics, but one thing was wholeheartedly agreed upon by all three: big data is here, and it is here to stay.

 What is “Big Data?”              

Simply put, big data refers to the monumentally large amounts of information that are created due to the increasing use of the Internet and social networks.  Check out this infographic by Mashable for a visual representation of the trend.

Why care about it?

In a world where understanding our fellow citizens seems impossible, big data makes it possible.  Skilled analysts can sift through mountains of digital information and break it down into information and trends that can be used by marketers, public relations people or any other communicators.  What is more valuable than having hard data to back your communications campaign?!

What does it have to do with politics?

In order to effectively target messages toward a ‘persuadable’ group of likely voters, campaigns use the data we provide online about our thoughts, behaviors and predispositions.  This could be information a campaign asks you for directly through surveys or other techniques, or it could be information obtained less overtly.  While Professor Reeher seemed uncomfortable about this targeting of a campaign’s messaging, arguing that it could make politics less honest and more manipulative, Ms. Bryant remained firm in her idea that the use of big data only informs the ways in which a message is targeted, not the message’s content itself.

As a public relations practitioner myself, I tend to side with Ms. Bryant, since I believe in consistent and honest messaging across all communications with targeting only changing the positioning of each communication.  Which camp do you agree with? Let me know in the comments below!

Great post about a nifty new tool for the research that should guide every good PR campaign!

 
Here is my example of a Google Trends search for a topic near and dear to my heart – “a cappella!”
 
GoogleTrends

My PR Master

Planning an effective PR campaign has some similarities to writing a good speech: You don’t only have to think about WHO will transport the message, but also HOW he or she will do it. Sometimes an emotional appeal is the best way, and sometimes merely presenting the facts would be the better choice. But how do we decide? 

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Top 5 Tidbits for Job-Seeking Success

I’ve compiled the best advice from last night’s #HRRoundtable at the Newhouse School into a brief post for all of my fellow job-seekers!  Enjoy.

  1. Show your PERSONALITY in your cover letter.  As Brooke Popko of W2O Group said, companies don’t just want an employee with the right skills. It’s about showing how you are the right fit for the culture of the organization.
  2. 70-80% of positions are not posted online! Leveraging your personal and social networks will help you find these hidden opportunities, said Beth Guerra of APCO Worldwide.
  3. “Everyone you know should know that you’re job searching.”  You never know who could be the right person to connect you to that next opportunity.  No need to be shy about who you are and what you are looking for, said Guerra.
  4. “Treat LinkedIn as your headquarters.”  This advice from Brian Batchelder, VP of Recruiting for Fleishman-Hillard is perhaps the key to job-seeking in today’s world.  Be sure that your resume directs readers to your LinkedIn, which then can direct them to your online presence through Twitter profiles, blogs, etc.   Make the recruiter’s job easy.
  5. When looking for work, make social media tools work for you!  Batchelder recommends using a service like Hootsuite (my personal favorite) or TweetDeck to create a stream with updates from your target companies.  This will help you stay on top of their news, whether it be an industry award, media coverage or even a job posting.

Do you have any tips to add to the list?

For more, check out my Storify of the event: HR Roundtable

HRRoundtable