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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Why Twitter Is Great & Six Hashtags for PR Students/Professionals

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 23, 2009 in Social Media, Twitter

Tweet what?

I thought Twitter was the most ridiculous tool before I started using it. Even as I started to build my Twitter network, I didn’t quite get it. How was this such a great tool? What is the point?

Why I think it’s great

Months later, I think Twitter is great. It is a great tool for networking with other PR students and professionals, sharing interesting information, asking for advice and even promoting my blog. Since Jan. 1, more than 200 visits to this blog were via Twitter. I also met Julie Bonn Heath, who has offered me the opportunity to work with her virtually for her PR firm starting this spring.

Useful PR Hashtags

I’ve also discovered hashtags, which help organize posts. Here are some of the most useful hashtags for PR students and professionals I have found:

Why do you like Twitter? Do you have any great Twitter stories, like finding a job? What’s your favorite hashtag?

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Crisis in the News: Facebook status gets public school employee fired

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 6, 2009 in Crisis Communication

This is a post from my crisis communication blog.

Crisis in the News
Facebook status gets public school employee fired

What’s in the news

What you say isn’t as private as it used to be, especially with the use of social media.

In December, Morgan Wyhowski updated her Facebook status to say: “Morgan wants to kill her ninth grade flute player who stole the school’s $900 dollar piccolo, and is denying it.”

Wyhowski, the band director for grades six through 12, resigned from Bangor Public Schools after being placed on administrative leave. Criminal charges are not being pursued.

The police chief said it was not an actual threat.

See the entire story here: Bangor band director resigns after posting message on Facebook page she wanted to ‘kill’ student

Crisis communication perspective

Wyhowski, who is 23 according to Wood TV 8, resigned from Bangor Public Schools. This was probably best route for both her and the schools because:

  • It stopped the situation from becoming a crisis
  • It avoided them having to terminate a teacher
  • She will likely be able to find another job
  • The crisis will likely evaporate because parents won’t be arguing that the teacher should leave

Millenials, like Wyhowski, use social media to communicate with friends. I’m sure Wyhowski did not expect that anyone, other than friends, would see her post. For this generation, posting a Facebook status in an everyday activity.

Unfortunately, school employees getting fired due to their Facebook postings isn’t unusual. One teacher faced termination after posting “teaching in the most ghetto school in Charlotte.” The Washington Post reported on several teachers who had derogatory and inappropriate things posted on the MySpace, Facebook and YouTube accounts.

The best route for schools and other employers to go in the future is the provide warnings to all employees about what is and isn’t appropriate. It might also be suggested that employees place all of their social networks to a private setting if they might post something inappropriate.

Perhaps there should be a “social media” section in the employee handbook. Some argue that workplace life and social life are two separate places, but even outside of work an employee is a representative of their employer.

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Stepping Ahead with Personal Branding

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jan 20, 2009 in Blogging, Branding, Career, Public Relations

A year ago before I started blogging, I had never heard of personal branding. I didn’t fully understand the concept until I had read several blogs about it.

Last February, when I started “A Step Ahead,” I leaped into social media and personal branding. Social media is a great tool for creating and communicating your personal brand.

  • Blogs
    My blog has been my top tool for building my personal brand. My original intention when starting blogging wasn’t to build a brand. I wanted to write about my personal experiences as a public relations student. My blog has not only improved my skills as a writer, but I also have built a brand. People, like Dave Baker, have recognized who I was because they have read my blog. Professors, classmates and friends have asked me to explain blogging.  My brand includes social media knowledge, public relations experience and writing skills due to this blog. Commenting on other blogs helps your brand as well.
  • Twitter
    My dad always said, “Birds of a feather fly together.” Basically, you are who you associate with. On Twitter, I am able to associate with and talk to PR professionals and students from around the world. Twitter also is one of the top referrers to my blog. A few months ago, I thought Twitter was one of the most ridiculous tools I had ever heard of. But, as I have used it and seen its effectiveness, I believe Twitter is a great tool for networking, brand building and public relations
  • Facebook
    I recently launched Learn it, Live it, Love it, a public relations book group open to all PR students and professionals. After starting a Facebook Group, I invited probably close to 100 people from the PR field. Many of them accepted the invitation. Through Facebook, I was able to reach many people and spread the word about a group I started. This has helped strengthen my brand (because I am the founder of Learn it, Live it, Love it) and also the new brand of the book group. I also posted information about the book group in various PR-related Facebook groups I am a part of.
  • LinkedIn
    I love how LinkedIn works as a virtual resume. When people “connect” with me, they are able to view my experiences and other professional details. This helps build my brand as a knowledgeable, ambitious PR student.

How have you built your brand? What has worked best for you? How has branding affected your career?

Related Posts:

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Using social media can negatively affect your career

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Dec 2, 2008 in Branding, Public Relations, Social Media

On the Tough Sledding blog, I read a post about the Consequences of Free Speech.

When I began blogging last February, I decided to keep my personal life entirely out of my blog. Bill stated it best in his blog: “You cannot separate your personal and your business life.”

All a potential employer has to do is Google my name to find out everything about me. If I supported a certain proposal or political candidate that they opposed, it could negatively affect my career.

Bill said, “You must assume that all we say and do will be recorded for public inspection.”

So do yourself a favor: Google your name and work on creating a clean, professional image.

Kasey Anderson, a CMU alumna and PR professional, spoke in my public relations writing class not long ago. She said that it’s OK–even good–for you to look like you have a social life. You can have pictures of you and your friends having cocktails (if you are old enough). But don’t post pictures of you passed out on the lawn at a party.

So it’s OK for you to have political and religious opinions. But you might want to keep them to yourself for the sake of your career and your personal brand.

Related Posts:
Social Media Improves Your Brand and Influences Your Career
What Makes a Blog Successful?

Your Brand, Your Business Card

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Social media improves your personal brand and influences your career

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Nov 26, 2008 in Blogging, Public Relations, Social Media, Writing

Some people are saying social media is the future of public relations and it is changing the field of communication. But, I’ve noticed a lot of students are still not involved in social media.

Through Karen Russel’s blog, I came across 13 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your Career by Dave Fleet. I thought it was a really great post about how you can use social media to your advantage. The following post is a real look at how social media is helping me stay “a step ahead.”

First of all, according to Fleet, social media expands your network. I’ve met several students and professionals through Twitter and this blog. Kasey Anderson, a CMU alumna, introduced herself through Twitter. I met her in person several months later when she spoke in my public relations writing class. Dave Baker introduced himself to me at the 2008 PRSSA Conference. He was following me on Twitter and reading my blog before we met in person. There are many other professionals I’ve met through blogging, including Allie Osmar at Edelman PR. Social media expands your social network beyond what was even imaginable B.S.M. (Before Social Media).

Through sites like LinkedIn, you can get references. I got my first reference earlier this month. It’s like a virtual resume…potential employers can read testimonials about your work ethic and skills before they even interview you.

There is another Rachel Esterline out there, so I always go by Rachel M. Esterline when online. It helps distinguish me from the other Rachel. Owning your online brand is important. Google yourself and see how you stand. Of the first 10 results of “Rachel Esterline,” seven are mine. Sixteen of the first 20 results for “Rachel M. Esterline” are mine also. You also should consider building your brand using a blog, personal Web site, Twitter and other methods. I also use a universal image on my Web site and business card.

Social media also can be used to find jobs. I am following the Human Resources Coordinator from Edelman’s Washington, D.C. office on Twitter. I also have talked with an agency through Twitter about internships.

Social media can help you stay current with the latest trends. I subscribe to more than 100 different blogs with Google Reader. Readers save a lot of time. If you do not use a reader yet, I suggest you try Google Reader. There are many new trends I have first heard about through Twitter. Actually, the first time I heard about Google Chrome was through Twitter.

Current events also carry into the social media atmosphere. During the presidential election, all I had to do is check my Twitter to know if either candidate had said anything interesting (or stupid).

Social media shows that you are interested in the latest trends and participating. Fleet described is as being on the “leading edge.” It also helps you learn from others (from their experiences and from what they read, enjoy and then post for you).

Lastly, social media can improve your writing skills. My skills have improved immensely. I also am a better editor and better at clarifying my thoughts clearly and concisely. Blogging makes you find something interesting and write your point of view. Twitter makes you write tighter because you only have 140 characters to get your point across.

Overall, if you are a future PR professional, social media is something you need to know about and understand or else you will be left behind in the dust.

Related Posts:
BG: Before Google
Communication Tips from Bob Lutz of General Motors
Crossing Borders Through Communication: Global PR
Social Media, PR and What I’ve Been Up To

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BG: Before Google

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Nov 23, 2008 in Public Relations, Social Media
If you aren’t familiar with Twitter, or just interested in social media, I suggest the slide show below, which I came across on InfOpinions?.
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: microblogging pr2.0)

InfOpinions? also had the “Did You Know?” video. I was shown a similar version in my JRN 450: Public Relations Writing class. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it below. It’s mind-boggling.

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Communication Tips From Bob Lutz of General Motors

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Oct 31, 2008 in Blogging, National Conference, PRSSA, Social Media

2008 PRSSA National Conference

PRSA General Session
Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of Global Products, General Motors

The PRSSA National Conference attendees were fortunate enough to be able to attend a PRSA session with Bob Lutz. During his presentation, Lutz gave several tips about communication:

  • Communication is about making a connection
  • Communications should say something
  • Communication has a value that paid advertising does not
  • Communications should view the media as an opportunity, not an obstacle
  • Communicators must evolve with communications

Lutz said communications should be done skillfully, directly, accurately, precisely and honestly. It should be effective and interesting. He also said writing should be balanced because self-praise can do a lot of damage.

I think one of the most important points he made was that communicators must evolve with communications. Lutz has demonstrated this himself with his own blog.

Lutz said blogs give the opportunity to have a real dialogue, to put out an unfiltered message and to have the message out immediately. Executives should write their own blogs, Lutz said, because blogs written by PR people come off as very corporate. People will feel like they are actually being talked to if it is written by the executive. But, Lutz said, an executive should submit their post to PR to make sure facts are confirmed and it is not off message.

Find out more, read his entire speech or read a recent article in PR Tactics and The Strategist Online about his speech.

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Crossing Borders Through Communication: Global PR

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Oct 29, 2008 in Global Communication, National Conference, PRSSA, Public Relations, Social Media

2008 PRSSA National Conference – Detroit

Crossing Borders Through Communication: Global PR
Janet Tabor, Senior Vice President, Weber Shandwick Worldwide

With six billion people and more than 6500 different languages, global campaigns are very complex, according to Janet Tabor, senior vice president of Weber Shandwick Worldwide.

Tabor offered the following advice on global communication at the PRSSA National Conference:

  • Know your audience. Understand cultures and backgrounds are essential to a successful campaign.
  • The key to a successful campaign is having people on the ground in the location of the campaign who understand the mindset of the people, the market and know where people get their information from.
  • Campaigns must be tailored to apply to specific audiences.
  • Digital media has become very important  because of the consumer’s lifestyle–it is where people are getting their information from. Therefore, companies need to expand to reach social media to have a dialogue and build relationships with their customers. They need to be engaging.
  • It’s about relationships, not transactions. It’s about listening, enabling discussions and communication back. Social media works best for listening, not selling.
  • Brand monitoring is important. You need to know what is being said. This will help you identify potential issues quickly before they become a crisis.
  • Advocacy has become the most powerful source of influence and communication.
  • Fan sites, watch blogs and detractor sites shape brands and affect reputations.
  • You need to be working across traditional media, niche media and social media, monitoring and acting in online conversations and exploring new communication platforms.
  • Remember the media is now multimedia. For example, Business Week now has a blog, debate area, podcast center and much more.

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Social media, PR, and what I’ve been up to

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Aug 8, 2008 in Books, CMU PRM, Freelancing

I’ve been reading blogs lately, but haven’t had time to post. I think once I start classes again, and am not working full-time, I’ll be able to post more often.

Chris Brogan, a blogger I recently came across through Google Reader, posted links to 20 free eBooks about social media. I haven’t had time to blog, let alone actually look at these books, but his blog is great so I’m sure the books are too.

Also, if you are a PR person, I would suggest checking out Bill Sledzik’s debate on what PR is and is not. I find the posts interesting. A lot of people have been commenting on it, which makes it even more interesting.

What I’ve been up to:

First of all, I’ve been working full time for CMU PR & Marketing…and loving it.

I have been working on editing the copy for my pro-bono client. I found a graphic design student at CMU who was able to create some wonderful new logos for them to consider as well. I meet with the client Tuesday, for lunch, to show her what I’ve been working on.

I designed a flyer for the United Way/CMU Silent Auction. Everyone seemed to love it, which is great considering I have only had a short tutorial from Dan on using InDesign.

My freelance project with Young Money magazine should be starting up soon. I’ll be writing on ‘green living’ and I’ve already been getting ideas and trying free products (most of which were sent to me for free, making it even better).

And I’ve been seeking other freelance opportunities. If you see any good ones, send them my way!

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