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Brazen Careerist Site Launch: From A PR Perspective

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Aug 25, 2009 in Public Relations

Brazen Careerist launches its new, updated Web site today, completely reimagining how to the online community can function to benefit the users. I was able to get a sneak preview of it and interview Doug Haslam, account director at SHIFT Communications, the firm that helped with the launch.

Below are the questions I asked Doug about the launch from a public relations aspect. Feel free to ask questions for Doug to address by commenting.

1. From a public relations aspect, what is being done to promote the launch of Brazen Careerist?

Even though we are promoting a social network, getting attention through traditional media channels is still important. We are looking at publications that face general consumers (e.g. newspapers), human resources, and Internet beats, among others. Add to that the many blogs that cover careers and Generation Y issues, and the help of the Brazen Careerist community itself on their own blogs, and there are many potential touchpoint for people to hear about this launch.

2. What has been SHIFT’s approach in pitching to traditional media?

Our approach is to make sure pitches are customized, that we know who each person we pitch is, what they write and why we are pitching them. We do not subscribe to the “Spray and Pray” tactics that are still too prevalent in PR.

We are scheduling “pre-briefings” to take place shortly before the August 25 announcement date with any media person that we feel will honor the embargo. The rest will get the news as it is released (or perhaps shortly before), so that no one goes out before the embargo date.

Another important factor has been Penelope Trunk’s relationships with editors due to her long career as a columnist. We are being careful not to tread on her relationships, and in a number of cases she is making the introductions.

3. What has been SHIFT’s approach in pitching to social media? Has it been easier to pitch to social media rather than traditional?

Pitching bloggers is a lot like pitching the rest of the media, in that pitches must be customized, and we must show every one pitched the courtesy of knowing something about their blog or podcast. The difference with social media is that we (actually, Brazen) can be content creators as well, from commenting on blogs to using the Facebook page or Twitter account to communicate with them.

The other big difference is that many bloggers are not trained journalists, and we have to keep that in mind when pitching, especially as it comes to established journalistic tactics such as the embargo or even the press release itself.

4. Aside from media relations, what other tactics is SHIFT using to promote the launch?

As mentioned above, Brazen Careers has outlets, including their own site content, but also their Facebook Page and Twitter account, to communicate news. Brazen’s staff actually manages these accounts, but we are a consultative voice in helping them use these channels.

5. How many team members are working on this launch?

We have a total team of five people. There are three members doing the bulk of the media pitching (and therefore the bulk of the work), and as Account Director I am not one of them. They get all the credit for the success we hope to achieve.

6. Approximately how much time has been spent planning for the launch?

We began our engagement with Brazen Careerist in mid-July, giving us about six weeks to plan and execute.

7. Are there additional details you would like to share that a public relations student or young professional might be interested in learning about?

I have been happy in the past year to see that PR students are getting more social media in their education. It’s important, as the media world is changing, and now social media is an important concept of virtually all PR campaigns.

The thing to remember is that the industry will continue to evolve. 1999 PR was unrecognizable to the 1989 Fax/Mail/phone set, and 2009 PR, with disparate social media channels supplementing email and phone, is stranger still. You have no idea what communications and media will look like in 2019, and neither do I.

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10 Things I’ve Learned During My First Month at an Agency

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jun 16, 2009 in Fahlgren Mortine, Internships

I’ve been working at Fahlgren Mortine for a month now. Here are 10 simple things I’ve learned so far:

  1. Double check everything. And then check it again. Then, just to be sure, check one more time.
  2. Turn in work “client ready.” Make sure everything is in the right font, color and size. Check on text wrap and images.
  3. Someone is watching you…so be enthusiastic in everything you do and be memorable.
  4. Network.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  6. Take extra opportunities (like going to that optional meeting that starts at 5:30 p.m.)
  7. Pay attention to company culture and politics.
  8. Jump at any opportunity to get experience.
  9. Don’t be afraid to come in early or stay late when needed.
  10. Realize you’ll probably make a few mistakes. Own up to them, learn your lesson and don’t obsess about it too much.

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Research: An important part of PR

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jun 5, 2009 in Public Relations, Research

There’s one thing I never was told about in the classroom: In PR, you do a lot of research. I would estimate that currently 80 percent of my time is spent on research. It seems that every single thing I do require some amount of research, whether I am writing a pitch, working on a social media project or creating a report.

Here are four tips to help with research:

  1. Use a variety of different keywords.
  2. Consider searching on different search engines for blogs, including Technorati, Ice Rocket and Google Blogs.
  3. If you want to know what people are talking about, search on Twitter. People will be sharing links and information related to the subject.
  4. Try searching on delicious. A real person bookmarked the links, so it might give you different results. (This is a tip Lara Kretler gave me.)

What are your tips for doing research?

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Agency Life: Tracking Time

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 28, 2009 in Career, Fahlgren Mortine, Internships

This is the first part in an ongoing series about working at an agency.

Even though it’s a very small part of working at an agency, tracking your time is very important.

For each task I do for every client, I must track how much time I spend working. I’ve discovered that this actually makes me more productive. At the end of the day, I have a quantifiable record of what I accomplished.

Tracking time also gives you a better idea on how long it takes to complete a particular kind of project.

Here are a three tips to make tracking time easier:

  1. Write down the start and stop time of each task you do. It’s not likely that you’ll be able to remember the times an hour or two later, let alone at the end of the day.
  2. When you complete the task, quickly calculate the amount of time you spent on the task. I hate doing a lot of math, so doing this saves me time and aggravation when it comes time to enter my hours in the program.
  3. When entering time and tasks into the program, highlight each task after you’ve entered it. This will keep you from entering it twice.

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Inked up: Are tattoos and piercings acceptable in PR?

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 26, 2009 in Career

My recent post about wearing jeans brought up another thought related to perceptions and professionalism: tattoos and piercings.

Although I don’t have any tattoos and only have pierced ears, which never wear earrings since I seem to be allergic to most, I am still curious about how professionals and interns feel about this.

There are many inked professionals who keep their tattoos hidden. But what if you have it in an open area–like your neck, hand or even your foot? Are you concerned about how employers and coworkers might perceive you?

With piercings, what would an employer think about a nose ring? Or a tongue piercing? Or even an eyebrow piercing?

Although I have my own opinions, I’m more interested in hearing what you think.

Are tattoos and body piercings acceptatble in the public relations field? Have you ever not gotten a job because of your visible tattoo or piercing? If you are a professional, how do you think having a visible tattoo or piercing might affect potential interns or employees in your workplace?

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How do you dress for Friday’s?

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 22, 2009 in Career, Internships, Public Relations

I wore blue jeans to work today…

Now before you go off in a big lecture about how I should always dress professional and dressing unprofessional could kill my career, let me get to the details.

First of all, I think professionalism and how you are perceived in the workplace are very important. There are many things I would never wear to the office, such as a tube top or mini skirt (especially considering I don’t own any!).

I’m not a style diva, but I am a cautious shopper. I even go as far as trying to buy closed-toe heels because a conservative employer might see it as “too much” and avoiding too much pink so I don’t come off as one of those girls who have no brains (have you seen Legally Blonde?).

On my first day of my internship, I wore a black suit. The next day I wore dress slacks and a button-up. But then someone said they generally “wear jeans on Friday.”

What!? Jeans? In the workplace?

This morning I had a serious debate with myself about the situation.

Should I really wear blue jeans? Will I be judged as a “lazy Gen Y intern” or sloppy? Is it really acceptable?

After going back and forth, I put on a pair of dark jeans with a nice shirt. Driving into work, I kept second-guessing myself. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn jeans, I thought to myself.

I didn’t relax until I counted several others wearing jeans.

What do you think is most appropriate for an intern? Is it acceptable for an intern to dress casually when the other employees are? Should an intern always dress business professional, even if they are told jeans are acceptable?

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If you’re a PR intern, what are you doing right now?

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 21, 2009 in Internships

It’s always hard to unwind after you’ve had a great day. I absolutely love working at Fahlgren Mortine. I also attended a PRSA Central Ohio mixer after work.

One of the greatest things about PR is the variety of things you can do on the job. Today, I was able to work Twitter-related things for a client. I think it’s great that this client wants to start tweeting to reach its audience.

I also will be working on a media monitoring project, all the way from outlining how I will monitor traditional and consumer-generated media, to doing the actual monitoring, to writing the reports.

If you are a PR intern, what are you doing right now? I’d love to hear about and learn from your experiences.

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First Day Tips for PR Interns

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 20, 2009 in Internships, Public Relations

I started my internship at Fahlgren Mortine today. I learned how to use tools like Cision and Factiva. I also edited a media list and worked on researching editorials for a client. First days can be intimidating, so here are a few tips for your first day at a new internship. Nick Lucido also has a few reminders.

1. Be proactive about working from day one. If you’re not doing anything, review information about your clients, look through the manual or ask if there is anything you can do.

2. If you’re in a new city (or state, like I am), leave early in case you get lost or stuck in traffic. I actually drove to work before my first day so I would know the route and left very early in the morning to avoid the rush.

3. Ask questions. They expect that you won’t know what you’re doing. It is better to get things straight than to ask about simple things a month later.

4. Bring necessary information for HR. Sometimes they will need a copy of your social security card or your driver’s license.

5. Be excited. You’re an intern! You are one step closer to being a professional.

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The Road Not Taken

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 19, 2009 in Fahlgren Mortine, Internships

Yesterday, I arrived in Ohio. I start my internship with Fahlgren Mortine tomorrow morning.

Internships offer valuable experiences and I believe accepting an internship outside of Michigan will give me a different perspective.

I could have taken the less stressful route, accepting an internship within close distance to my apartment. I could have avoided the tearful goodbyes. If I wouldn’t have come to Ohio, I wouldn’t have made my five hour drive into an eight hour drive by getting lost and/or off track multiple times.

But, by the end of the summer, I’m sure it will all be worth it. And when I graduate and start my career, I believe my internship and experiences with Fahlgren Mortine will put me “a step ahead.”

Reflecting on this, I am reminded of “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. Someday, when I have a successful career in public relations, I hope to be able to tell people that I had a choice between internships and I took the one that I considered to be less traveled…and I hope to be able to say that it made all the difference.

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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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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