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Topic of the Week 12
Interview with Kneale Mann

Last week, my COMM 2322 class got to experience the wisdom of Public Relations professional Martin Waxman. This week, the blessing continues with a word from Kneale Mann. Through an interview conducted by my Public Relations Applications professor, Barbara Nixon, my class received valuable insight from Mann concerning blogging strategies and the importance of writing. Here are some tips I learned from Mann that I should hold onto for the rest of my PR career.

“I’m a geek.”
A self-described “Geek,” Kneale Mann encourages first-time bloggers to write about their main interests. For example, Mann’s blog, One Mann’s Opinion, discusses strategies for marketing and social media. Although his first post was entitled “I’m a Geek,” simply stating that he was starting a blog and had no idea where it was headed, he took the plunge. He started writing, which leads us to the next important point to Mann’s interview:

“Too often we are trying to go for the absolute victory before we do the work.”
Kneale Mann suggests that practicing writing is the key to successful writing and also the key to a successful blog. He states that the most important part about blogging is finding a focus. Although not that many people subscribe to the blog at first, Mann encourages us that starting a blog is the hardest part. Once you find the audience you are trying to connect with, blogging gets easier because of the instant feedback it allows. Our downfall of today’s society is that we want results right away, or as Mann describes, “instant status.” The world, however, doesn’t work that way. But how do we gain followers? That leads us to the final point:

“The price of admission is contribution.”
The key to a successful blog is finding “blog buddies.” Social media allows bloggers to build relationships through participating in two-way conversation, sharing ideas and feelings with one another. Finding blog buddies gives us, as writers, validation that there are people out there interested in what we have to say. In addition, networking using blog commenting, allows others to give advice.

It was a pleasure to listen to the great information Kneale Mann provided our class with. For more information on Kneale Mann check out his profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter or check out the interview for yourself!!

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Inside Look

Topic of the Week 10
Interview with Martin Waxman

Today I got the great opportunity to listen to one of the most world-renouned public relations professionals, Martin Waxman. Founder of Pallete Public Relations agency and president of the Canadian equivalent to PRSA, Martin took time out of his busy schedule to discuss the importance of social media in the PR field. Here is a little summary of the content Martin covered:

1. Use of Social Media
As technology evolves, the use of social media will become more important within the public relations community. For example, Martin has integrated various social media outlets into his business. One social networking tool he likes to use is podcasting. (Visit Martin’s podcast, Inside PR) Unlike blogging, podcasting really helps form communication skills because “once you say it, its done.” There is no room for rewording what is said so podcasters have to have the abililty to speak clearly and speak on their feet. Martin adds that the danger in using social media is the temptation to just use it without learning how to tie it in to company objectives. Social media, however, allows public relations companies the opportunity to be transparent and relational with their clients.

2. Skills
Although it is important for a person considering a job in the PR field to be familiar with social media, it is necessary for that person to have the traditional communication skills, says Martin. According to the textbook Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics, five essential abilities include writing skill, research ability, planning expertise, problem-solving ability, and business/economics competence. Because these skills never become extinct although social media becomes more prevalent, they are always important to the PR profession.

3. Customer Service with Social Media
One interesting use of Twitter that public relations professionals use is looking up a company name and placing “fail” at the end of it. This method allows PR agencies instant feedback on trending topics concerning different companies and their products or services. Martin states that because of social media outlets, the things we complain about are able to go public rather than staying within a small circle of people.

I really appreciated Martin Waxman taking the time to speak to our public relations class. I think it is important for students to interact with successful PR professional such as Martin to gain an inside look on what PR is all about!

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Digging Deeper

INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW

For this assignment, I interviewed Chelsea Kuchta, a fan relations employee with the Lakeland Flying Tigers and Detroit Tigers spring training.  Although she is quite young, Chelsea has a great education and experience background as she graduated from Michigan State with majors in political science and communications. During her education, she focused mainly on interpersonal communication. In addition to her schooling, she has worked as an intern at Disney World and is planning to rejoin the Disney community relations crew after the 2010 spring training season ends. Chelsea and I are co-workers at Tigertown in Lakeland, Florida and this interview was conducted in a face-to-face manner.

What is a typical week like?
On game days, Chelsea has quite a busy schedule. Pre-game tasks include creating informational posters and finding children in the crowd to run the rosin bag to the pitcher’s mound, throw out the first pitch, and say “Play ball!” During games, she hands out promotions such as free Zaxby’s chicken meals and  BD’s Mongolian Grill coupons in between innings. On other days, Chelsea works hard in the office creating posters, organizing information into spreadsheets, and making important phone calls to sponsors.

What is a project you are especially proud of?
When Chelsea was working at Disney, she was in placed in charge of cast members in the college program. During this time, she helped the cast members create and maintain resumes. One part of this experience that she was most proud of was the fact that many of the cast members she trained were offered Disney internships after the college program.

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
According to Chelsea, keeping updated on trends is very important to the work of a public relations professional. To keep current in the industry, she maintains a facebook and twitter account. Furthermore, Chelsea stays updated on professional sports by following ESPN news, reading blogs, and searching for articles on the Detroit Tigers’ official website.

What do you wish you could have known before staring a career in PR?
Chelsea said that she wished she had more “hands-on” experience speaking with businesses while she was in college. She discussed how learning about how to communicate and actually communcating are two totally different things.

How important is writing in your career?
Writing is a very important part of the public relations career, especially in the areas Chelsea has worked in. At Disney, for example, she spent a huge amount of time writing emails that were professional, clear, and concise. However, she stated that verbal communication is more relavent to her job than written communication.

What are 3 tips to someone starting in public relations?
1. Be confident. No matter what the situation is, it is important to appear that you know all the answers or at least know where to look for answers.
2. Do your research. It is important to know as much information as possible about the companies or clients you are working with.
3. Ask questions. It is better to ask questions and do a job right the first time instead of not asking questions and doing it wrong.

How did your education prepare you?
The most imporant class Chelsea took to prepare her for a career in public relations was Interpersonal Communication. In this class, she learned why people communicate in different ways. For example, someone may be perceived as rude because of previous events that have occured in their life that day. People tend to carry their negative feelings onto others.

What has surprised you the most about your career?
Chelsea acknowledged that the thing that surprised her the most is the lack of communcation skills within companies. Although communication can improve, most people seem to be stuck in their ways and are not interested in change. In addition, she described how networking plays a huge deal in getting what you want as opposed to experience.

How does technology affect your daily work?
Technology is used everyday. It is important to keep up with what is happening minute-to-minute. It is important to check your email as often as possible. It is highly necessary to purchase a Blackberry so email can be checked out of the office as well. With the Tigers, Chelsea is required to use different computer programs to create promotional flyers, brochures, and other forms of media. Additionally, co-workers keep up with each other by using radios.

After my interview with Chelsea I feel like I am more likely to pursue a career in public relations. As I sit in the outfield during games, I get to watch Chelsea and her co-workers interact with the fans. I would love to make the fans’ experience an extremely memorable one. Although public relations requires a lot of work, my goal in life is to put a smile on someone else’s face. This is possible through a career in public relations.

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Taking the Next Step

Topic of the Week 7
Resumes

15 seconds. That’s all a resume gets.  A quick glance and you are either a “possible” candidate or tossed into trash, never to be looked at again. It may seem harsh. I mean we work hard through 16+ years of eductation and achieve more than we possibly could imagine. And still, that might not be enough to get the job. Life, however, wasn’t meant to be easy. Luckily, there are ways we can catch the eye of an employer in just 15 seconds!

Utilize Resources
As mentioned in my  previous post, Overwhelmed?, Internships.com is a great site for students looking for semester or summer internships. In addition, Internships.com helps visitors create resumes quickly and organize their data. For example, with Quick Resume Builder, users fill out various information areas in education and experience such as degree, relevant course work, school projects relating to the internship, responsibilities, honors, scholarships, and leadership experience. Additional information such as foreign languages and software experience can be added as well.

For More Information
It is important for college students to keep the resume down to one page. Because you only get a 15 second glance, it is unnecessary to add an excess of information. To keep employers interested, add a link to online resume websites such as Linkedin.com.

Short and Sweet
Finally, sifting out what kind of information to add to your resume can be overwhelming. Writing Your First Resume, an article on about.com offers plenty of tips for first-time resume builders as well as a resume writing guide, resume samples, and resume templates. Here are a few tips the author, Louise Fletcher shared:

Things to include on your resume:
Positive personal characteristics
Technical and computer skills
Coursework relevant to your desired profession
Educational accomplishments (include your GPA if it’s over 3.0)
Skills and experience gained during internships or summer jobs
Other related accomplishments (design awards, recognition, winning competitions etc.)
Work History (include unpaid work if it relates to your target positions)

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Overwhelmed?

Maybe I’m a little crazy, but I can’t stop thinking about my future. One good thing about my major of journalism/public relations is that it offers me with many different types of job opportunities ranging from news colunmnist to magazine designer, human relations specialist to event planning. This wide variety of choices, however, will be my downfall. I can’t choose just one, and I don’t feel like I have enough experience in any of these categories. In fact, I don’t know what steps I take now in order to get a job. Sometimes I  need to take more action than simply trying to get my degree.

Discussing resume building and job interview tips in class got me thinking about possible internships this summer. I  wasn’t planning on applying for an internship this summer, but I feel like its time to start learning on-the-job skills. During my exploration, I discovered Internships.com.  This website helps students build their cover letters,  resumes, and reference sheets, and well as follow up letters through different blogs, videos, and programs. In addition, Internships.com offers college students the opportunity to search for thousands of internships across the nation.

Here are some  jobs that caught my eye:
ESPN Internships
ESPN Books
Turner Sports Public Relations
Publicity Intern at Urbane Imagery
Cleveland Browns Photographer
Nature Photography Intern

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Returning the Favor

Topic of the Week 3
Comments
Before winter break, my roommate and I rented Julie and Julia, a film basically about a woman who started a cooking blog and made it famous. Cooking was this woman’s passion and she wanted to share it with the world. This got me thinking, “What are my passions?” The first thing that popped in my mind was motivating people to get out and just love life. Therefore, I started my first blog at Blogger.com that seeks to motivate others and also includes some things on my bucket list such as visiting every Major League baseball stadium and camping out under the stars for a night.

After a few weeks, however, no one (other than my friends whom I persuaded to start blogs also) had viewed my page. I thought I had great content, and even some great images, but I guess not. There was something missing, but what? I figured that out in my COMM 2322 class.

Susan Gunelius, President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a full service marketing communications provider, and author of “What are Blog Comments,” described “blog comments are the lifeblood of a blog.” I believe she means that although a blog may have great content, it can’t grow without input from others. Therefore, a blog must be focused, not on the blog itself, but the blogging community.

Blog comments are what make pages so interactive, unlike static websites. Comments allow others to join the conversation, adding value and new ideas to already existing information. Gunelius also states that the community makes a blog successful. Selfish and unethical motives will always fail.

So what then, makes an effective blog comment? Corinee Weisgerber highlights nine ways to blog in her presentation “Blogging and Managing Your Personal Brand“:
1. Disagree respectfully
2. Extend the conversation
3. Go beyond “great post” or “I agree”
4. Comment within a day or two
5. Read comments before posting
6. Stay on topic
7. Link to your sources
8. Only link to yourself if relevant
9. Use email for private comments

What are some tips for blog comments that you like to use? Make the world a better place and share your knowledge. That’s what blogging is for, right? 🙂

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Twitter? Me?

More than birds are "tweeting" these days

At almost every chapel last semester, my friends would leave me out of the conversation. They weren’t speaking to each other directly, but were using Twitter as a means of communication. It always seemed like the funniest jokes or most serious topics were discussed during chapel, and afterwards I would be completely oblivious to what they were talking about. The inside jokes didn’t apply to me, yet it didn’t really matter. As hard as my friends tried to persuade me to start a Twitter account, I refused to get involved in yet another reason for me to be distracted from my schoolwork, or the chapel message for that matter.

Ironically, I was asked to sign up for a Twitter account for my PA applications class. I was a little upset over this matter, simply because I vowed never to fall into the trap of my friends. In addition, I was already overwhelmed by having to keep up with my email, Facebook, text messaging, Skype, and other forms of communication. Twitter would only be yet another hassle.

For my PR applications class, I had to listen to Laura Fitton’s webinar, Twitter for Business. After listening to her presentation, it was like a light shined down from heaven. Twitter took on a whole new meaning! It was actually…useful!

Here are a few tips I learned from Twitter expert and enthusiast Laura Fitton:

  1. Develop dynamic and genuinely engaging content.
  2. Twitter should be used to access better professional relationships.
  3. Twitter should be used to share knowledge and problem-solving ideas more efficiently.
  4. The point of Twitter is not to see how many followers you get, but to provide attention and value to the audience. Selfish and unethical motives will always fail.
  5. Just as appearance matters in person, appearance matters in the Twitter world. Dress nicely (use graphics and avatars), introduce yourself (fill out profile fully, mention twitter on your main website), and be a good conversationalist (listen, respond, relevant, useful).
  6. Twitter IDs dominate Google searches because of extensive linking.
  7. Successful Twitter accounts should not be measured by the number of followers. Instead, measure the desired business objective the way you always measure that desired business objective.

Now my friends can “tweet” to me during chapel. You can follow me on Twitter, too @amandafurmage

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