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Reading a newspaper is fairly old hat. Sadly enough, most print media seems to be. I was in mourning when I found out that Newsweek mailed out its last ever print edition in December 2012.

But the immediacy of online news keeps the world up to date on anything and everything. I get my news mostly from Twitter  by following the best of the best. New York Times, Huffington Post, and CNN Breaking News just to name a few.

Political issues come up all the time. As a(n almost) college graduate looking for an entry level job (hire me!), I have been all over the internet. Over the past four days, everywhere I turn, I’ve seen the following image.

Equal Rights

Knowing the symbol, traditionally in yellow and blue, I was aware that it had to do with human rights but I didn’t know what was going on currently that prompted the wave of red across my social networks.

I immediately scrolled through my friends, looked over posts and comments and within moments I was updated. To quote Montell Jordan: This is how we do it.

While we may not understand the power or even concept of a true newspaper that can be held, millennials have a different (not worse just different) understanding of how to stay up to date.

We are an inquisitive bunch. And we don’t like when people tell us what to do. We like to think we are the original gangstas- that we found it all on our own. Hence, the internet. We scroll and click and use our attention deficit mannerisms for good not evil.

From a media consumer perspective, I appreciate that I’ve got the power to pull in what information I want. From a professional perspective, how does anyone get people to see their content?

It is a tangled web to weave. The key is to make people curious so that those consumers feel they have no choice but to pull on your content. Shoving material in peoples’ faces is just as old hat as newspapers.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it is what has created awareness about Proposition 8 lately, and so many other current events in the past.

What have you found on the internet that has made you curious? Who does a good job of pulling you in to click around? Let me know in the comments below.

It is officially spring break. Unfortunately, now is the time to accelerate the job search. No breaking here (aside from the fact that I will not be getting out of my pajamas unless absolutely necessary).

With a solid amount of open time, I am taking this opportunity to reach out to anyone and everyone that might help me. Not help in the sense of, “Poor me, find me a job” but more of the “I am really excited because I have a blank canvass and I get to decide how I’d like to proceed.”

The more I search for jobs, the more I realize I don’t have an ideal career in mind. There is no holy grail of positions, but rather many starting points that could lead me down multiple avenues. LinkedIn has helped me find what exists out there. Seriously, what did people do before LinkedIn?

Job Suggestions LinkedIn

Being so new, how am I supposed to know what I want? How am I supposed to know what even exists? Therefore, I am spending this spring break asking questions. The best advice I have to repeat to myself- “I am not the first person to have to do this job search.”

I am turning to the experts. People who have jobs right now all went through a time of not having one. I am filling my week with informational interviews to pick the brains of all those that came before me.

I have an open mind and a hopeful attitude. I have nothing to lose, only answers to gain. The following are my list of questions that will guide my brain picking process.

  • What is your specific title and what do your day-to-day tasks entail?
  • What is your favorite part of your job? Least favorite?
  • How did you land in this position?
  • How did you know this was what you wanted to do?
  • What are the people like here? Do you like the culture of your work environment?
  • Where did you look for jobs when you first graduated?
  • What advice do you have for me as an (almost) recent graduate looking to get into this industry?
  • Is there anyone else here at your company that you recommend I speak with?

This is one of those, “you can’t pay it back, you can only pay it forward” kind of situations. I am grateful to anyone who meets with me or even responds to my email, of course. But one day (fingers crossed) I will have a job. Someone will come to me for an informational interview and I will be ecstatic to return the favor.

It was the moment I had been waiting for; the Whole Foods finally re-opened in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Unfortunately class prevented me from being a door buster but I wouldn’t miss opening day. Opening day is a sample-lover’s dream. A promotional item hoarder’s fantasy.

I regret to inform that Whole Foods left much to be desired in the name of marketing practices.

I can’t totally discount the samples and the exceptional customer service. As brands go, Whole Foods is consistently superior in their face-to-face customer engagement.

But what about the other forms of engagement? If I was social media manager…

There would have been a store opening countdown a long time ago. Each Whole Foods has a local account…except for this new one. (If you’re looking for a social media manager Whole Foods Upper Arlington, I’m ready when you are).

With signs and samples throughout the store, there were tons of opportunities to drive people to their website and/or mobile app.

Throw a QR code next to food displays to take people to a how-to recipe link. At the very least, place a Twitter bird in the corner of the chalk boards so we know where to find you!

One of their big promotional events being advertised across every Whole Foods in the country is today’s Parmageddon. It has something to do with cheese and breaking world records- two of my favorite things.

Parmageddon

 

No better time than to ask for people to post their favorite recipes that use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on their Facebook page. Perhaps a photo on Instagram or Pinterest. At the very least, go for a hashtag.

Internet marketing and social media is only as useful as its user is capable. The world is lazy. It is our job as marketing professionals (ok my dream job- I’m working on it), to lead the horses to water and make it impossible for them not to drink.

We have to make it impossible for them to resist. We have to get in their heads and make them want to be part of our conversation. Social media should never be one way and always be top of mind.

Social media is the new “word of mouth.” We can make our messages spread like wild fire. With technology on our side, we can make content instant and get immediate feedback. Now more than ever we have an opportunity to get creative.

Whole Foods gave people a reason to talk and interact but without instruction on how to do it. All it takes is a “click here” or a “follow us here” and that’s enough to drive media use and inevitably brand loyalty.

What’s the best store opening marketing you’ve seen? Post in the comments below.

As the job hunt gets increasingly more intense and my competitive spirit gains momentum, I’m starting to get a bit tired. It’s time to draw from inspiration. Who better than the one and only Michael Jordan?

Michael Jordan

Image courtesy of Eric Brown, BodyworkBiz Blog

Losing a basketball game did not make one of the best basketball players of all time a failure. As Michael Jordan and I are quite similar, I am extrapolating this to my job search. One bad interview does not make you bad at interviews.

As I prepared for my first official phone interview, I tapped in to all the tips I’ve heard about how to do it right. After I hung up the phone and let out a big sigh, I realized what else I could have done to prepare. And thus, my list:

  • Dress up as if it they can see you. A suit will put you in a professional mindset and give you an immediate confidence boost.
  • Smile as you speak. They can’t read your nonverbals so verbals have to come across even stronger. Facial expressions help portray enthusiasm.
  • Have responses at the ready. Prepare examples of successes, failures, goals, leadership, and challenging experiences.
  • Use your resources. They can’t see you so use that to your advantage. Have your computer in front of you, ready to look up anything. If they want additional writing samples, send them in the moment. They might ask about your resume; have it in front of you.
  • Have a glass of water close; nervous people have coughing fits.
  • Follow up after. Be sure to get your interviewers contact information and

Sometimes preparation can only take you so far. Unexpected questions happen and brain freeze sets in. To quote Dory from Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming.”

I swam my little heart out, answered the questions to the best of my ability and prayed. The phone interview did not advance me to the next round of interviews. Some might look at that as a failure.

But Mike and I use these failures to make successes happen for next time. I now have a game plan for phone interviews, one more experience under my belt and a bit more confidence than I had before.

For more interview tips, check out 7 Job Interview Sins You Cannot Make from New Grad Life

What interview questions have stumped you? Post in the comments below.

Have you ever been at a social event where everyone seemed to be on their phones? It’s a tad ironic. The more social we try to be online, the less social we end up being in person.

Phones

Image courtesy of lolriot.com

Is there a wrong or right way to stay connected with everyone? Are there rules? Who makes them?

Unfortunately, manners are not as hard and fast as we’d like them to be. This is especially true for social media and phone use because of how new it is. There is nothing new about saying please and thank you. But having your phone out at the dinner table wasn’t possible until relatively recently.

Today’s rules seem to be very situational and context-based. For example, lunch with my grandma? Not a phone in sight unless you want to hear about it for the remainder of the meal (no text is worth that).

At a recent PR event, it was almost a violation of social norms if someone didn’t have their phone out. Communication professionals do their job by staying connected and consistent with online interaction and engagement. Clearly, it’s a hard line to walk.

Here are some tips to stay polite and professional.

  • Consider your company. If you are among peers who frequent phone use too, go for it. If there is a mutual understanding that being on your phone is okay in the given moment is acceptable, let those cues guide your choice.
  • Location, location, location. Are you in a religious setting? A professional networking event? A funeral? Put the phone away. If you are in a place where you’d like to maintain a level of respectfulness, play it on the safe side. You can never offend someone by keeping your phone in your pocket.
  • Give fair warning. Phones seem to be the lifeline of society; almost a security blanket for the “just in case” moment. If there is a time when you expect you’ll need to use your phone in a place that isn’t appropriate, let your company know that you might be interrupted by an important call.
  • Don’t be a wimp. If you are in a situation where someone is on their phone and you would rather they not be, say something. Help make the rule book about what is socially allowed by having conversations. Set boundaries and establish guidelines to avoid confusion.
  • Be in the moment. Keep in mind that you are where you are. Take advantage of the people around you. What might you be missing if you’re too busy retweeting a Kardashian?
  • Phones down in the car. Texting and driving has been proven to be just as, if not more, dangerous than drinking and driving. Nothing to do with manners, just overall safety.  Be smart.

Social media, texting and staying connected is current and normal. We have so many capabilities and so much accessible to us and it’s important we take advantage of that.

Just like everything else, there is a time and a place. Use your best judgement and when in doubt, err on the side of phone-less.

As a member of the PRactice, an entirely student-run public relations firm connected to Ohio State’s PRSSA, in conjunction with our weekly meetings we have professional speakers share their experiences.

This week, Erin Pope spoke to us about media relations. She started off her Prezi by asking who was intimidated by talking to the press. Good thing I’m not shy- my hand shot up like a Poptart from a toaster.

It is a terribly nerve-racking thing to pitch ideas and stories to media, especially as a student. Why would any big time news editor care about what a lowly student has to say? The good news is- no one has to know we are students.

The concept, “fake it till you make it” has never applied more. If I speak confidently and play the role of professional PR pro, the media has no reason to doubt me.

Much like everything else in the communication field, media relations is exactly that; creating a relationship. Making connections with reporters is a way to leverage your story into their schedule for the week. Personalize the pitch, be respectful and always thank anyone who helps make the story happen. Maintaining those relationships is key. In this industry, we can’t afford to burn bridges.

When it comes to writing the actual pitch itself, keep it relevant. Writing on topic is necessary or you’ll lose all credibility. Be aware of what is current and newsy; that’s how you’ll find a story even if you’re not looking for one.

Media outlets are social actors too so engage with them on social media sites. Stay up to date on what outlets are looking for and let them know what you’re working on too.

Erin mentioned some key resources that make her life easier.

  • HARO or Help a Reporter Out is for journalists to find experts they need for a story. It’s free to post and connects those who can mutually benefit.
  • ProfNet is a similar resource from PR Newswire that provides the same services. Access to this resource requires a membership for a fee.
  • Cision helps professionals to create media lists and reach outlets all in one place. This also includes a fee.

Cision

Hearing Erin express that she too gets nervous to pitch to media made me feel slightly more normal. She answered questions and was living proof that the more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes.

After all the details and info she gave, her most important point she left us with was this: “Being a good writer can take you far”

If I had a nickel for every professor that has said something to that effect, I would have enough money to retire as a student. Hearing it from a professional in the industry makes it count that much more.

Smartphone Dumbphone

The more entrenched I become in this social media based world, the more I realize just how much more instant smartphones make our world. I have yet to join the rest of the universe; my phone is quite dumb.

Courtesy of Amazon.com

I manage to keep up with things as best as I can but slowly, I am breaking down my ability to resist the data packaged goods that encompass a smartphone. It is a shame that the world makes it something of a requirement to have what some might call a luxury item, just to be a productive member of society.

Much like the persuasive essay I wrote in third grade to insist that a puppy would help me advance in life, I have quite the list of reasons why smartphones make the world a more social place.

1. They are fun. The number of games that exist is increasing as you read this. These games turn into entire fads that overtake the universe. Angry birds. Temple Run. I don’t even have a smartphone. That is how mainstream these games have the potential to be.

2. Saving money. Companies love to promote with social media. Become a fan in the store and get half price. Download our app and get a free cookie. Tweet at us right this second and win $1,000,000,000. It never ends. Scan the Groupon, check in on foursquare, the list goes on. Is it possible to save enough money to make a data plan worth it?

3. Directions. There is no excuse for any person to not get where they want to go. GPS is magical. If only my parents knew how to use it…

4. It’s instant gratification. What do you want to know? You can figure it out. And if you can’t? There’s an app for that. Balance your checkbook. Find your one true love. Recipes. Need a flashlight? Perhaps a protractor? Literally anything. 

Courtesy of  www.1mobile.com

As useful as this innovative technology has proven to be, I manage to do just fine with my trusty little GoPhone.

Until that moment of truth when I join the rest of the world, I will continue to be asked- “Wait, why are you carrying that around? Where is your phone?”. My personal favorite comment was from the girl next to me in class- “That’s your phone? Oh, I’m sorry”

We live in a dumb world filled with smartphones. But as proven by my father, a smartphone is only as smart as its user.

Are you a smart smartphone user? What is your most useful app? Post in the comments below!

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