Editorial Calendars for Blogs

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 26, 2009 in Blogging

Today I spent a lot of time looking at editorial calendars. During this time, I really began to see the use of them.

One of my goals for the month of June will be to develop an editorial calendar for my blog. I actually think this will help with writing and consistency of postings. There are some weeks when I am too tired to think of good subjects. Outlining them beforehand is a great idea.

Here are a few things I am considering:

  • Having monthly (or weekly) sections, like interviews with professionals/students, book reviews, etc
  • Varying subjects on social media, PR, marketing, advertising, etc.
  • Guest post features
  • How-to and tutorial type posts
  • Sharing links to great articles

What do you think? Any ideas to add? Have you done this before or considered doing this? Have any advice?

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The Ragan Social Media un-Conference

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 9, 2009 in Blogging, Conferences

@LindsayMAllen (teal) and myself (navy blue) after the un-Conference (Taken by @AmyMengel)

(Photo Credit: @AmyMengel)

Following a stressful week from my final exams, I went to Chicago with Lindsay Allen (in the teal shirt) for a social media un-Conference.

Even though I had no idea what an un-Conference would be like, I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to learn more about PR, see Chicago and meet up with people like Allan Schoenberg, Mike Pilarz, Amy Mengel (see a post I wrote with her help here), Christine Hartter, Nikki Stephan, Lauren Weber and Ari Adler (who, by chance, is not an M&M in real life!).

The Ragan Web site said, “There will be no speakers at the un-Conference, meaning we’ll all be learning from one another. However, there will be conference facilitators leading all of the idea-generating, problem-solving sessions.”

This unstructured environment was great because it enabled public relations professionals to ask for advice and trade ideas and strategies with their peers. People talked about Twitter, Facebook, blogging, building relationships and more.

When the facilitator asked for blog success stories, not many people raised their hands. Lindsay whispered, “Rachel! Raise your hand! Raise your hand!” So I actually gave a quick, impromptu spiel about how I started blogging and how it has been effective in my career to a couple hundred people. I even got a few cheers when I announced I was a CMU student.

In addition to the discussions, another valuable aspect was the networking. After the un-Conference, many people made arrangements to meet-up (or tweet-up). Having dinner with people you had only previously known from Twitter is a great experience. And people you already know will introduce you to more great professionals.

Have you ever been to an un-Conference? What did you like about the Ragan un-Conference?

At the Ragan un-ConferenceAnd here’s a picture of me at the un-Conference taken by Lindsay’s MacBook. The Drake was a great place!

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PRofessional Development Week at A Step Ahead

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Mar 1, 2009 in Blogging, professional development, PRofessional Development Week

From March 2 to March 6, this blog will feature PRofessional Development Week. This special week will focus on the development of professional skills for public relations students. Several of the posts will stem from knowledge gained at the CMU-FSU PRSSA Regional Activity and a PRSA Workshop.

Posts will include topics such as:

  • Pitching 101
  • Branding
  • Crisis Communication
  • Accreditation
  • Resumes
  • Interviews
  • Finding internships

If you would like to contribute, e-mail Rachel.M.Esterline {at} Gmail.com.


My Journey to Getting A Step Ahead: The Blogoversary

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 26, 2009 in Blogging, Public Relations

My blogoversary is this Saturday. I started blogging about public relations a year ago.

Below is my first post at my previous address for A Step Ahead:

In the world of public relations, being a step ahead is important. You need to know what could happen…and what you will do if things go wrong. You need to know about the up-and-coming ways to getting things done so your competition doesn’t leave you in the dust. I really don’t think any professional strives to be “a step behind.”

Being a step ahead isn’t just about keeping up. You also need ambition – a motivation to move forward. To stay ahead.

That’s what this blog will be about: The steps I take to get ahead to reach my aspirations and true potential as a public relations professional.

I’m currently an undergraduate student, majoring in integrative public relations and double minoring in communication and journalism at Central Michigan University. I am a very active member of the Public Relations Student Society of America and a consultant for PR Central, our student-run PR firm.

This is my journey. This is what I’m doing to get A Step Ahead.

I feel like I’ve leaped ahead since writing this post on Feb. 28, 2008. I never saw my blog coming as far as it has come today. It really amazes me.  Since my first posts, I have developed my own style and niche. I’ve met many great people online, and even a few of them in person.

What are you doing to get a step ahead?

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Negative feedback from non-bloggers? Too bad.

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 19, 2009 in Blogging, Career, Social Media

All Things Workplace says you should work on being likeable to be successful. I thought this was interesting. Recently I had a conversation with Jessica Lawlor from PRowl Public Relations about negative blog comments, which obviously mean there are a few people who don’t like you.

According to All Things Workplace, “your like-ability impacts your credibility and your credibility impacts how influential you become.”

I think this is interesting. I don’t work too hard at trying to make people like me. I think you learn in elementary school that you can’t be everyone’s best friend. I’ve been very focused on being driven, credible and ambitious. I am always willing to help people out, so I thought that made me likeable enough.

But, I’ve found that some people find it strange that I spend so much time blogging. Some have even reacted negatively.

In a reply to a Twitter post by Penelope Trunk, I said, “I’ve found that people think I’m not normal because I have a blog…I tell them that I’m just ‘driven’ and ‘ambitious’

A PR professional I follow replied, saying “That’s ridiculous…

It is. But this is how I replied: “If they only knew the doors my blog has opened for me in my career…they would be starting one too!

And it’s true. This blog has opened countless doors and windows. I’m pretty sure the roof is about to blow off.

I’ve met a lot of great PR students and professionals through this blog. I’ve also attracted the attention of those who are offering internships. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now. It has helped me develop my own style in writing, has improved my skills overall and has taught me a lot about PR and social media. It also has given me confidence-I would never have written such a personal post six months ago.

Maybe these people are just jealous (link from Guy Kawasaki). But they could have a blog too. It’s not very hard to start one. Maybe they simply don’t understand.

How do people outside of the blogosphere react to your blog?

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What has made the difference?

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 3, 2009 in Blogging

Dave Baker recently asked me an interesting question: “Do you think it is that you are driven to be the best or did something, or someone, happen along the way that made a difference?”

A picture of my dad and I on Christmas Eve 2007My reply to him inspired me to write a blog post about it.

I have an intense drive to learn as much as I can about PR. I am very passionate about my career and professional development. But it was interesting to think of why.

The first thing that came to mind when David asked me this question was my dad. He has been a strong influence. To the right is a picture of us from Christmas Eve 2007. There were two things he always said:

  1. Be the best. There are hundreds of people who are good at their jobs, so you need to be the best to stand out.
  2. “Failure is not an option.” This is something he said often. And when you tell yourself this, you have no choice but to succeed.

I also have personal beliefs which have formed over the past several years. I am a firm believer that things are what you make of them. If you make the most out of every opportunity, you will get a lot out of it. If you are constantly negative about things, then you’re going to have a negative life.

My horse and I in 2005Some of my traits can be attributed to the 11 years I spent showing horses. That taught me about hard work, persistence and confidence. The picture to the left is of Vinnie, a Morgan gelding, and I in 2005. That was the year we made it to state because I of my hard work and determination.

I also believe, to be successful, you need to be passionate and driven. You have to want to learn something for the sake of learning it. And do things just because you like it (like reading and writing).

For example, I taught myself HTML and created my first Web site and online publication when I was 13. I did it because I just wanted to know. When I was 15, I wrote articles because I loved reading magazines and wanted to be a writer someday.

So if you’re wondering why I keep a blog or why I am so focused on my career, I hope this has given you a little insight.

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The “Idea Bank” Method

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 1, 2009 in Blogging

Lately I’ve been making an effort in posting to my blog daily. Sometimes I create a few posts at once and space them out, so I might be cheating on this a little bit. Writing a good blog post takes a lot of time. Copyblogger’s post on speed-blogging has some great tips.

I recently started keeping an “idea bank.” Whenever I get bored in class or am suddenly inspired with a blog post idea, I write it down in a small notebook. When I was bored earlier today, I came up with 10 new ideas. Some require research and interviews, but others are posts I could write right now.

Copyblogger also suggests lists. I have found that a lot of people read these types of posts and usually will comment. These are easier and quicker to read, which is important for your time-pressed audience.

How do you come up with great blog posts?

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Taking Action Over Uncertainty

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jan 31, 2009 in Blogging, Public Relations

Girl Meets Business recently wrote about overcoming fears. It’s not the afraid of spiders and snakes kind of fear, but the kind that holds you back from doing what you really want to do.

The kind of fear she wrote about was the kind you feel when you write a blog post. What if people think it’s stupid? Or, the kind of fear you get when you mail out a resume. What if they laugh because of my lack of experience?

Uncertainty is a feeling I have more than I would like. Even writing this blog post makes me feel uncertain. But, by taking action and overcoming that feeling, you can do more than you ever thought possible.

When I was applying for the Edelman Award, I started wondering what I was getting myself into. Was I even qualified enough? Were my portfolio pieces good enough? I’m a good writer, but am I that good? The cover letter was pretty tough to write too. How do you brag about yourself when you feel a little bit uncertain?

After talking to a few people, I realized I was letting fear take over. A lot of people have told me I have a great portfolio and good experience. I shut out that little voice in my head and sent in the application.

I didn’t get the award, but I did get a note from someone I know saying the group had been really impressed with my entry. Apparently, I was in the last group to be eliminated.

It’s a bittersweet feeling.

I’m disappointed because I was so close. But, it also feels good to know that they were impressed and took in a lot of consideration before eliminating me.

So push through those fears and uncertain moments because you never know who you’ll impress.

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Marketing Your Personal Brand

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jan 28, 2009 in Blogging, Branding, Marketing, Networking, Public Relations

I recently posted on how I created my personal brand. But, you can’t just create a personal brand. You also must market it. Following the How to Brand Yourself post, read on to find out what I am doing to market my personal brand.


I think on of the biggest factors in my credibility is having an online portfolio with an actual domain name. I have pictures of myself and clips of published work for people to view. Additionally, I personally have met many of my readers through PRSSA.

Brand-Yourself.com also suggests guest blogging. This is something I would like to do more often. So far, I have only guest blogged on Karen Russell’s Teaching PR blog.

The site also suggest publishing articles. This is something I would like to do more of. I recently wrote an article about social media for my chapter’s newsletter. I also am working on an article for the Forum, a publication of PRSSA.

Lastly, to build your brand you should blog. Hence, this blog.

Niche Involvement

Brand-Yourself.com suggests getting involved in your niche. Aside from being active in PRSSA, I read and comment on the blogs of other PR students and professionals and other writers.

I launched a public relations book group recently, which counts as niche involvement. Check out Learn it, Live it, Love it if interested.

But, I am not involved in any forums or answering LinkedIn or Yahoo questions. Do I honestly have the time to though?


On a scale of one to 10, I would rate my visibility as a five. I am visible to some people in PRSSA.

Since I started using Google Analytics on Oct. 21, I have had 1,112 visits to my blog with 2,259 page views. More than 67% of those visits are categoried as new visits. I have had people visit from 45 different countries. The US, UK and Canada are the top three. I get a lot of direct visits (35.78%), but Twitter, Google and Penelope Trunk’s blog are my three biggest referrers.

Being on social networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter also help with visability.

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Eight Steps To Making Time For Everything

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jan 27, 2009 in Blogging, Time Management

Created using Excel to manage my scheduleFinding time to do everything is pretty hard these days. Somehow, I managed to make it through last semester alive (with good grades!). This semester, my schedule is very busy. Not only did I get a new job working with Central Michigan Life, but I also must manage several leadership positions, organizations and committee meetings in addition to class and studying.

Step 1: Before the semester began, I created a schedule map using Excel. I blocked out different times with different colors for each activity I must do every week (see left).

This map has helped me figure out when I could schedule committee meetings and how to fit in studying. I also left myself open time. It is important to have time to yourself. Often, I use my time to read blogs on my Google Reader, read a book, check my Facebook or just relax.

Step 2: Last weekend I forced myself to sit down and clean out my inbox. I had let 245 e-mails accumulate. Previously, I had used my inbox as my to-do list. But it was difficult to know my priorities when I was so unorganized. Keeping them sorted and filed has helped me keep my sanity already.

Step 3: Instead of using my e-mail as my to-do list, I got a real one. I have a little purple notebook with an attached pen (free from Franco – it was from the recent PRSSA agency tour) that I keep in my purse. Whenever I think of something I need to get done, I write it down. When I sort through my e-mails and find something I need to do, it goes in the notebook immediately.

Step 4: I keep a very detailed FranklinCovey Planner. There are two pages for each day with a prioritized task list, daily tracker, appointment scheduler and daily notes area. This has been the best planner I have ever had. My dad purchased the binder for me and I purchased the refills. It looks very professional and it’s useful. My class assignments and schedule are organized (my to-do list is too small for all my tasks!).

Step 5: I spend time writing several blog posts at once, instead of trying to fit a post into my daily schedule. After writing the posts, I schedule them to post on different days. This makes my life easier because then I can simply check for comments daily without worrying that I’m not posting enough.

Step 6: Finding time for family and friends can be difficult. Last semester, I had meetings nearly every evening. This semester, I scheduled all of my meetings to be on Monday or Tuesday. This gives me Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings to be with the ones I love.

Step 7: It’s hard to do, but just say no. There are so many things I’d like to add to my schedule. But right now isn’t the best time. As much as I’d like to write for Grand Central Magazine, establish myself as a freelance writer, do volunteer PR for local nonprofits and more, I just don’t think adding more activities to my busy schedule is very smart.

Step 8: Make it all count. I seem to be an expert at this. In order to graduate, I will need 124 credits. If my calculations are correct, I will graduate with 126 credits with a 59-credit major and two minors. How did I cut it so close? I made many classes double-count and even a few triple-count. This has saved me time and money. Another way I make things count is by making all of my leisurely reading relate to PR or professional development. I learn while I relax.

How do you manage your time effectively?

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