Joe Sloan Public Relations Blog

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PR in the age of flying cars

So I just cracked open chapter 20 in Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals which is titled “Skilling Up For The Future.”

I was expecting laser guns, flying cars, and Philip K. Dick-esque ninja cyborg women and whatnot. (You can thank the Writing about Literature course I took a few years ago for that).

What I got from the chapter was, while maybe a bit less exciting than watching Indiana Jones battle a robot clown woman, something much more valuable. Knowledge.

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A point is made in the book that (in the author’s opinion) in today’s world the ‘ideal’ PR professional, while being unique (like a beautiful snowflake), will also exhibit a “commonality of structure” (like beautiful snowflakes) that should be instantly recognizable. This commonality of structure includes a few things and is referred to as the “Y-Shaped PR Professional.”

Why Y?

Well, this is Why:

According to the book I keep mentioning, this second-to-last-letter-of-the-alphabet-shaped PR professional will have “breadth and depth across three broad areas of expertize,” those areas being:

1. Storytelling- The “Trunk” of the Y-shaped tree. Totally super-important to be good at it if you want to succeed in PR. No longer a one-way street, it is important to recognize that “getting your audiences to co-create your story is the future,” and that this is made quite easy (compared to years past) through social media.

2. Content- After the stories have been created we need to then ask “what will be the best ways to bring them to life, have them shared and allow audiences to shape how they develop?” Good question which I’m not going to answer, buy the book if you’re interested. However, I will say this: Make sure your writing skills are as good or better than mine and you shouldn’t have problems creating good content. Good writing skills never go out of style, Imho. lol, rotflmao <– (It’s ok, this is a blog.)

3. Technology platforms- I like how the book says “Now, don’t panic. This doesn’t mean we all need to rush out and get a degree in IT to continue working in PR, but it does mean investing time in using and understanding key online platforms.” Good thing I check my Facebook before I get out of bed in the morning I guess. The book mentions learning about Real-time tools such as Radian6, TweetDeck, and Conversocial, understanding the data and analytics portion of social media (shudder!), as well as being insatiably-skeptically-curious when it comes to staying informed about social media and what things happening on the forefront of internet technology.

So that’s the rundown, in a proverbial nutshell, of a few ways that PR professionals can “skill up” for the future. I hope that you all found some worth in this post, if only because of my creative linking practices and mentions of the author of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep.

Like always, here’s a bit of awesome for ya. One of my favorites:

 

 

Can social media be a full time job?

I sure hope so because I friggin’ love it.

I wouldn’t call myself an expert in social media just yet (key word: yet), but then again who can really say something like that? I’m aware that some people are way ahead of the curve in terms of the vast wealth of social media knowledge they possess, but we’re talking about being an “expert” in Facebook, a master Tweeter, or a humorously eloquent  blogger, not to mention knowing this-and-that about all the other emerging and changing social media platforms. Keep in mind that’s not a complete list.

This is just a tad different than being a doctor or an accountant or something more respectable like  “Professor of Thermodynamics” or some other lofty-sounding title. I may be highly proficient in “#StraightFlexin” on Instagram,” but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Whatever.

Actually, scratch that. I AM an expert.

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Maybe not to a person like Brian Solis but hey gimme a break, I’m working on it. I guess what I’m saying is that while I might not be an expert when compared to the likes of Solis, if you ask my dad I’m a freaking computer genius! In fact, I even write a blog about social media. BAM, expert.

Perspective is everything.

I think that one of the most important ways to get considered an expert in social media is pretty straightforward: You have to use social media well. When people check you out online they should finish the experience thinking “Wow, they really have a handle on all of this social media stuff.” When people talk to you about social media, what do you have to say about it? Is it insightful? Is it interesting? Is it helpful? These are all good questions to ask yourself. Social media questions come up in job interviews all the time nowadays.

When online, don’t just post. Strategize. Think. Listen. Consider as many different perspectives that exist out there in the virtual world as you can. Think about what is likely best for the people you communicate with on the internet just as much (if not more) as you do for yourself.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. If you’re a downer online, change that REAL quick. It feels nice to vent, yes. But the whole world is seeing this stuff and nobody likes a party pooper. I strongly recommend finding a healthy outlet for anger, depression, frustration, angst, sadness, and the like but trust me, if you ever want to have someone look at you as a social media pro/expert/amazingmagicalgenius, don’t post all that stuff about your personal life online.

There are so many other ways you can portray yourself as an expert on social media but if I wrote everything I know in one post, no one would read to the end.

A few parting tips:

Be kind, it goes farther than you think.

Be honest because nobody likes a liar.

Be helpful. It pays off.

Learn as much as you can.

Explore and be creative.

And most of all, have fun! people can usually tell when you are enjoying yourself and personally speaking, I want to be around fun people, both online and off.

Social media is a great big brilliant and expansive communication playground, open for anyone to become an expert in. Your learning starts here.

Enjoy the week everyone! Here’s some awesome for ya:

I’m ‘bout to go all-out touting the clout of Tout: A video-sharing site that no doubt, I’m all about. You Heard it Here First!

joesloanie:

Check it out. Not to brag buuuut…. I wrote this. Yup.

Originally posted on ginaluttrellphd:

Editor’s note: This blog is part of a series of guest posts from my social media students at Eastern Michigan University. Follow the conversations at #sm379 and @ginaluttrell.

By Joe Sloan

Besides being easy to understand, fun, and a quite useful video-sharing social media website, the word tout is also super easy to rhyme.

I could go on for days:

Tout is about shout outs, reaching out, and developing your professional clout. If you’re a lout you might not have figured out why Tout is the coolest thing since Bell’s Stout.  But don’t pout ‘cause you’re not out and about like a social media scout. You will no doubt soon become a devout Tout standout by reading this free knockout virtual handout about the new video-sharing route known simply as “Tout.”

Sauerkraut.

Source: Joe Sloan

Source: Joe Sloan

Seriously though…

I was introduced to Tout a few months…

View original 711 more words

Which blogging techniques get my motor runnin’?

What makes a good blog? Well if you’re asking me, a good blog is made up of a few things.

First off, it can’t be fake. I think I’m pretty perceptive and if I get the sense that the person writing the blog isn’t invested in what they’re writing about then I’m gonna be hitting that little X on the top of my screen.

Ya gotta have a voice. Don’t focus too much on grammar and overly technical wording. I want you to write to me like we would talk after two drinks.

I’d say that lastly, for me at least, you have to be positive. I don’t want to hear about how the world sucks, what’s wrong with this or that, or how your bff did that thing that pissed you off. Not to say there isn’t a place for all that, but I’m not gonna be reading it.

Just my thoughts. Enjoy the week y’all.

As if there weren’t enough blog posts out there about Twitter already…

Here’s another one.

To quote this book for the umpteenth time since I began my quest to gain knowledge about social media and its utilization in the world of public relations, “the majority of Twitter members are pure consumers of information, not participants. According to GigaOM, ’80 per cent of Twitter users have Tweeted fewer than 10 times and 40 per cent of users have never sent a single Tweet.’”

Phew!

I was starting to think that I was way under the average in terms of content creation and outward engagement on Twitter. Looks like I’m doing ok even though I’ve only sent 441 Tweets since I signed up for Twitter a few years back and sent this gem:

Joe's famous first Tweet.

Joe’s famous first Tweet.

My Tweeting has up till now not focused that much on engagement seeing as I have basically used my Twitter as a sporadic information retrieval source. If I hear about something I may take to Twitter to learn more, or if I find something overly interesting I may share it on Twitter but for the most part my Twitter has been a series of in-the-moment statements, random attempts at communicating with celebrities, and the occasional sharing of what I feel to be useful and/or interesting information.

This all will be changing soon as I work on further developing my professional online presence. I do see Twitter being a very useful component of a good PR pro’s tool-belt, specifically the potential it shows for “listening” to the publics that you are attempting to communicate and develop relationships with.

I see a Twitter account (and the social media expert that runs it!) as the perfect tool to use as a kind of “global help and information desk” for whatever brand you represent. I suppose to be most effective you first have to do your research. Find out which hash tags the public uses when talking about your organization, or like many brands already do, create and promote your own hash tags to help direct people into channels you can easily follow and learn from. This offers those with questions and concerns an efficient and very direct line to the decision-makers who, by using the information provided by the public, can utilize Twitter to continually listen, learn, and revise in order to help their organization best serve it’s fans/public/consumers/what-have-you.

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Lastly, as Keanu would do, engage, engage, engage! Once you know where your organization is being written about, become a useful part of the conversation. This is true not only on Twitter, but just about anywhere on social media. I don’t know about you but when I take to social media to talk about a product, company, celebrity, etc. and they actually respond to me it feels pretty good, and it’s something I don’t forget. It shows me that they care, that they are human, and they have my best interests at heart, which to a PR student seems like an absolute goldmine in terms of creating a brand reputation.

I’d keep writing, but I wouldn’t wanna wear out my sweet new keyboard. In case you haven’t noticed yet, I like to leave you all with a cool vid at the end of my posts, so on that note, watch this totally unrelated, yet undeniably awesome GoPro video:

Happy living y’all.

LinkedIn: it’s not just for fuddy-duddies and stuff-shirts anymore!

I mean seriously, it’s just a smart idea. Most everyone in the professional arena knows (or should know) about LinkedIn and what it’s for. The third sentence from the chapter on LinkedIn in that book I’m reading, Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals makes it pretty clear. “Could you benefit from expanding your professional network?” Ummm, yes.

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If you answer no to that then I guess you don’t need a LinkedIn. Enjoy the long, hard road of mediocrity. Unless you’re a celebrity or super-rich or something in which case, lemme get a job! Sorry for the deviation, but you never know, ya know? Maybe Warren Buffett or Bobby Brown is reading this. I guess to be fair, LinkedIn isn’t a perfect fit for everyone. That book does mention that there are people out there who’s job puts them in a position where being easily found online is not an advantage, although I can’t think of a good example of that right now so I’m moving on. I guess bank robbers don’t really need a LinkedIn, but that’s a different blog post altogether.

LinkedIn is a really awesome tool that professionals can use to bolster their professional network. I found it interesting that this book mentions how people in different positions within organizations tend to use LinkedIn for different purposes. It says that the higher-ups use it mostly for trade industry networking and promotional purposes, whereas middle management uses it to “keep in touch” and network within their industry while the newbies in the business world use it for finding jobs and networking with their co-workers. I could have come to a conclusion similar to that on my own but I trust these folks and their organization’s logo is on the front of this social media book.

To extrapolate on another point the book makes, LinkedIn seems to also function as a sort of social media channel for people who aren’t on social media. As found on pages 82-83, “If you do nothing else — No blogs, no Twitter, no podcasts or videos — LinkedIn gives you a platform to be found and to create a professional online presence. There is nothing (yea, I exaggerate) that I dislike more than trying to find someone online and there’s literally nada. Come on, it’s 2013. If, as a professional, you aren’t online in some way, shape, or form then people are likely to begin seriously questioning your capabilities and desire to succeed in the professional world because quite frankly, you just have to be online. I’m confident that folks reading this don’t fall into that category though. :)  So if nothing else, LinkedIn is kind of like an online curriculum vitae.

A function of LinkedIn that I have yet to personally delve into are the different tools that are offered such as Polls, Group management, Answers, and Alumni, all of which can help businesses that aren’t relatively huge to publicly display their expertise in areas relevant to their goals as a company.

Another good reason to get a LinkedIn (for my fellow almost-professionals) is that according to this book I keep referring to, a study was done (way back in June of ’11) that showed about 75% of companies in the U.S. will either always, or at least sometimes check the LinkedIn profiles of their potential employees. I’d bet by now it’s closer to 100%.

Something that seems to run the social media gamut that I often find weaved throughout different conversations I have had and things I have read is the term “human.” Social media allows companies to show their human side which is interesting seeing as social media is technology and machine-driven. It’s true though, even though it is through a digital channel, it’s a huge step towards humanity when compared to those automated phone messages, I friggin’ hate those things.

Ok, it’s getting late. All in all I’d say go out and get yourself a LinkedIn, you have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain so go out there and be a winner! Here’s some motivation:

Disclaimer: Joe Sloan has no professional affiliation with CIPR or “Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals,” yet…

Facebook is gonna make me rich some day.

So I finally got my hands on a copy of Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals and let me tell you right now, I am totally diggin’ it. The book is so filled with useful social media and public relations information that can be used to further my career aspirations it’s almost unreal. That’s not to say that reading this book will automatically make me an expert compared to the likes of Zuckerberg or anything, but to the layperson (of which there are many) it will certainly help me to appear very knowledgeable. Simply put, it’s the best single resource I’ve seen in terms of beginning to develop solid knowledge of and insight into the professional side of social media. Go out an’ getchaself a copy, you’ll thank me later.

Not to jump the gun or anything but I’m definitely giving this whole Social Media Specialist/Associate/Representative idea some very serious consideration and after reading but a single chapter of this book I have redoubled my interest in pursuing a job in the PR field that incorporates a significant focus in social media. I mean why not, right? Take two things I enjoy and seem to show potential in, the world of social media and the field of public relations, whip ‘em up together real good and voilà! Career.
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So that chapter I read? It was all about Facebook. Specifically, it focused on some of the basic ways in which Facebook can be used by organizations to engage with the public in different ways.

The book outlines several ways that a brand can use Facebook:

1. To build communities- People who “like” your page become part of the community.

2. To engage with fans- I think this is of high importance. Facebook makes it so easy to engage and also offers an efficient two-way communication model.

3. To amplify the brand message- It is possible to reach not only your fans, but their friends as well.

4. To socially enable your business- This involves that little blue “Connect with Facebook” button that appears on websites and allows people to connect third party websites to their Facebook account.

5. To sell products and services- Yup. Make that money.

Something that I found to be insightful and a potentially powerful bit of knowledge was that “Facebook often cites the fact that for every Fan engaged, 120 friends of that Fan can be reached (120 being the average number of friends a person has on Facebook). Therefore, a Brand Page with 10,000 Fans can theoretically reach 1.2 million people through engagement on its Page.”

That’s a big number.

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Sorry, I just love that meme.

I think that the most important tidbit of info that I gleaned during my reading was how necessary it is to create a well thought out strategy regarding the use of Facebook for professional purposes. Many people don’t give strategy enough consideration when they utilize Facebook, or social media in general for that matter, just posting whatever comes up. While being able to incorporate spontaneity in the use of Facebook is definitely a plus, I wouldn’t recommend relying on it exclusively. Kind of like running a fortune 500 company using a children’s lemonade stand business model as your guide; don’t do it.

The book also offers some tips on developing a strategy for your Facebook. There is no sure-fire formula to follow, but the guidelines given are:

- Know who your audience is and what they do on social media.

- Define goals for your Facebook presence.

- Be aware of the rules that govern your industry and make sure your social media presence is consistent with them.

- Strategize what your organization desires in the relationship they develop with the audience.

- Plan out the content you will be uploading in advance.

 - Specify details about who will operate of the page.

I think that as long as serious consideration is given to these general guidelines, the chances of your organization thriving on Facebook will increase drastically. I could keep telling you about all the wonderful insight contained in Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals, but then you wouldn’t buy the book and I would hate to do you that disservice so instead I will play us out with my favorite video EVER.


Until next time.

Are You Friends With Your College?

If you’re like me (and about a gazillion other people) you have at least some sort of presence on the internet and social media. Be it a Facebook page, Twitter account, Linkedin profile, or what have you; everyone is online in some shape or form and if you’re not, you’re totally missing out.

I’m preaching to the choir I suppose, seeing as chances are you’re reading this internet blog on a computer screen, but the message is still important. The ability to discover information about things that interest you and to meaningfully connect to what you care about has become so easy. I would venture to make the assertion that it is easier than ever before. Learning is going on at an unprecedented rate and scale and it’s only going to grow from here. there are a lot of smart people doing a lot of smart things online.

Did I mention that like every college student everywhere is on social media? According to Erin Chapman, a news staff writer with Collegiatetimes.com, “Between 85 percent and 99 percent of college students use Facebook.” And that was waaaay back in 2011.

This is why it’s so important for colleges and universities to develop comprehensive social media strategies, and why I chose to develop a Personal Learning Network to teach me how to develop a comprehensive social media strategy for an institution of higher learning, specifically community colleges. This blog will serve both as a justification of why community colleges should be on social media, and also as my initial step towards my PLN goal, a place that myself and others can refer back to as a kind of starting point in the search for insight about the successful social media strategies of colleges and universities.

One of the first things I noticed was this video:

While it offers no solutions, it does provide solid statements that evidence the need for community colleges specifically to be on social media because of the differing composition of students. Many more community college students commute which makes it harder to meaningfully connect to college life. Social media may be able to help with this.

Another place where I discovered some possibly useful information was in USATODAY.com’s college section. While not focusing on community colleges, this site summarizes how some of the most successful colleges across America utilize social media in new and interesting ways and can certainly offer some insight into possible techniques, tips, and strategies that could be implemented in the community college setting.

Lastly, there is this article from USnews.com that says that during a recent survey of over 7000 high school students “68 percent of respondents noted that they used social media to research schools” and that “66 percent of prospective college students said that schools should have a social media presence.”

Honestly I’m surprised it isn’t more, but we all know how apathetic high school kids can be.

While this is by no means anything more than a very basic starting point, hopefully this blog can help people who want to know a bit more about social media for higher education, and why it is important for all colleges to understand the importance of utilizing social media. I know it has piqued my interest.

Hopefully next week I’ll have my copy of “Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals”  and I’ll be able to begin referencing it in my blogs as I have been told it is an amazing resource for all things social media and PR. Still, I hope you all enjoy seeing the beginnings of my path on the quest for this knowledge.

Till next time.

I’m About To Instagram All Up In This, Straight Flexin’!

It definitely took me awhile to get interested in Instagram, but lately I’ve been #straightflexin like nobody’s business.

At first I didn’t see the appeal; wasn’t it just kind of a mixture between Facebook’s pictures and Twitter’s hashtag function? I already had a profile on both of these sites. Why would I want to waste more time on the internet on Instagram doing something I already do on Facebook? I post my pictures there for my friends to look at and comment on, so I really didn’t see the point.

It took a bit of prodding but eventually one of my buddies got me to make a profile and do a little, shall we say, flexin’. At first I used it very sporadically, not yet understanding how to utilize the hash tag feature and just taking random photos like this little beauty right here:

Instagram

This was the third photo I posted on Instagram, and it’s still one of my favorites. The picture is of Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center building in Ypsi during the evening and although I don’t have the original anymore, it looked nothing like the vibrant and colorful photograph you see here.

Instagram has all sorts of cool (and very easy to navigate) filters and effects that you can apply to your photos before publishing them. There are an innumerable amount of ways you can alter your photo to get the desired effects and honestly it’s a bit addicting. I could spend the entire blog post explaining the ins and outs of how to use Instagram, but I’d rather just let this guy do it. Work smarter, not harder right?

So the hashtag function is (in my humble opinion) one of the most important components of Instagram, especially when taking a public relations perspective into consideration. When you post your photo you get the option to give it a title/label/comment. It is at this time that the usefulness of the hashtag becomes evident. See, when you put one of these in front of a word on instagram it acts in the same way as it does on twitter, effectively linking you to everything that has the same hashtag.

I didn’t know about this function when I posted the photo that I showed you above, but if I had I would have tagged it with #EasternMichiganUniversity #EMUeagles #Ypsilanti #Ypsi and various other words and topics that I feel relate in some way to my photo, kinda like this.

Instagram 1

As you can see, I have learned a bit more about hashtags since my meager beginnings uploading photos to the internet. I’m no expert though, seeing as I still rely on iPhone screen shots to make copies of my instagram photos.

If any of you know of a better way to save my favorite Instagram pics, please let me know down there in the little ol’ comments.

With the hashtags attached, both my followers as well as anyone who goes on instagram looking for any of those topics will likely see my photo. It is in this way that, when done correctly and creatively, Instagram can be a very effective tool in terms of growing awareness of a brand, networking, and engaging the  public.

Not only are many well recognized organizations utilizing the heck out of the  photo-sharing capabilities the site offers, but with the recent addition of the ability to record, edit, and post video to Instagram some companies are choosing to fully embrace the various functions of the site to help them grow their brands and effectively communicate not just to, but WITH the public in a whole new way.

Did I mention that Instagram is owned by Facebook?

Well it is, and with the kind of money and creative thinking that is present within the Facebook organization, I would look forward to Instagram continuing to grow, evolve, and improve.

Also, If YOU are truly interested in straight flexin’ you can scoop the tee shirt right here. I hope this blog post has been informative, insightful, and super-duper-all-around-awesome.

And a funny video to play us out:

Until next time.

Guess Who Got An Internship?

This guy!

Yep that’s right. I now have a desk, a phone, and a private office with a big window. I’m not getting paid in the monetary sense just yet but I have a feeling that what I’m going to learn about public relations over the next 15 weeks is probably worth more than what they generally pay interns nowadays anyway.

Did I mention that I’m interning with an actual PR firm?

No?

Well I am, Martopia Public Relations Group to be exact. Martopia or MPRG for short.

I was driving home this afternoon after my second full day interning and decided that how this all came about might make a good first PR blog post. So here’s the story of how I got my first internship:

I was bartending recently for Fabulous Food Catering or as we like to call it- Fab, a company I occasionally work for while finishing my degree. I got the job a few years back because my little brother’s then-girlfriend’s aunt owns the company while her brother, who’s also a good buddy of mine is a cook there. Small world right?

Anyway, I was bartending this event a month or so ago because Fab has the WCC in-house catering contract and while pouring drinks was chatting with those in attendance. Occasionally my studies would arise as the topic of conversation and I never hesitate to demonstrate my interest and enthusiasm regarding the PR field when given the opportunity.

One of these conversations, unbeknownst to me at the time was with a woman named Susan Ferraro. Susan just so happens to not only be a Senior Account Executive at Martopia, but “a past president of the Detroit chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Detroit)” among so much more. You can see her biography here.

Well by the end of the evening I had her business card and she had the promise of a future email from me.

The next day I sent her a friendly email and shortly thereafter we made plans to meet at her office for an informational interview. I did my research and prepared as best I could (Thank you CTAC-357 Interviewing as Communication!) then sent her my résumé and a few writing samples. We met and had a wonderful conversation. She told me about Martopia, gave me all sorts of information about PR, and critiqued my documents. I listened well, spoke confidently, and asked her a bunch of questions I had thought up beforehand.

Not long after the interview I sent a follow-up email to thank her for the opportunity. I received a response from her informing me that they now had an opening for an intern and I was welcome to apply. Needless to say I was totally stoked!

We set up a time for me to come in to be interviewed for the internship. I met with Tausha Moore, Director of Agency Operations for Martopia which was a very pleasant experience, and left feeling positive and anxious about the potential to move forward.

I quickly sent a thank-you email to both Susan and Tausha and was elated when I got the response asking for additional references. I replied with the contact info of three people who know me well both personally and professionally and nervously waited to hear back.

I followed up once more a few days later while on vacation in Arizona and hoped for the best. I flew home from Phoenix on Tuesday, September 3rd, the day before classes start. I got in around midnight and promptly hit the sack.

I woke up the next day to a voicemail from Susan asking that I give her a ring. I called her back and she told me that I got the internship! Needless to say, it was a good day.

I’m two days in and learning by the minute. This semester is going to be tough but I heard somewhere that good things don’t come easy.

Wish me luck.

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