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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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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The Importance of an Offline Network

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 2, 2009 in Career, Conferences, Guest Post, Networking, PRSSA, Public Relations

This is a guest post by Nick Lucido. Nick is a public relations student at Michigan State University. He is the chapter president at MSU PRSSA. Check out his blog, PR Start.

The Importance of an Offline Network

As the world continues to transition online, one thing that many of us forget is the importance of the human connection. I don’t think we’re at the point where a direct message on Twitter is worth more than a lunch meeting, nor do I think that will ever happen (hopefully). The key is to maximize both tools in order to meet new people while maintaining the connection with those already in your network.

It probably seems difficult to cold call a professional and ask for some of their time, so I put together a list of three places to build your offline network:


Attending national, regional and local conferences is essential to meeting new people. While building your network locally is important, knowing people around the country can be helpful in job searches and, down the line, finding business relationships. Have you ever heard of someone knowing too many people? Probably not. Having a far-reaching network, especially as a student, shows commitment and skill.

When you attend these conferences, bring business cards that have not only your cell phone number and e-mail address, but your different online contact information. This way, you can build the relationship with your new contacts and hopefully open the door for more in-person meetings down the line.

Professional Associations

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but it’s important to get involved with your professional community. Associations such as PRSA and PRSSA are a great way to meet and network with people in your profession. Being active within those organizations is even more important because it demonstrates your thought leadership within the organization. People look up to thought leaders and allow for easier networking.


While building your number of followers on Twitter, friends on Facebook and subscribers on FriendFeed, don’t be afraid to meet them in person. I’ve experienced the awkward “Oh, I follow you on Twitter!” many times. I stumbled into Scott Monty (@scottmonty) at the North American International Auto Show, Tim Wieland (@timwieland) at the EMU Student Development Conference and Shonali Burke (@shonali) by phone through the Mentorship Connection.

One principle to keep in mind with networking is really important for students. The objective of networking should not be to give your resume to that person – it should be to build a relationship. Helping out the professional either by interning with them or giving them a suggestion is important to do in a business relationship. Once you help them out, they will be more inclined to help you out.

As students, it’s pretty easy to be intimidated to ask a professional for a meeting. Once you get over your fear, the results will pay off. After all, it’s know what you know, but who you know.

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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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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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