Status Update: Facebook=Drama, OMG!

I have been a loyal Facebook addict since 2005. I update my status regularly, write on people’s walls, post photos, tag photos, join groups, add/reject friends–you name it, I do it. I love Facebook. But lately I’ve been reconsidering my extensive and committed relationship with the website. I’m starting to look for interviews and jobs, so I want to better my “personal brand image” on the web. Not that my Facebook is filled with incriminating photos or inappropriate status updates, but it’s nice to present myself as a decent person to future employers. facebook-boy1

However, I know many of my peers are worried about their Facebook image (especially the ones with incriminating photos) being seen by future employers. And now, they may have more reason to worry. On February 4, 2009, Facebook changed their Terms of Use, much to the dismay of many. An article in The Consumerist helps to explain what the new Terms of Service really mean. The new Terms of Use for Facebook basically state that they own your content, even if you delete your account. 

“The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.”

The article advises not to post anything that you don’t want to give up the rights to, because Facebook now owns all of your user content. Since these Terms of Use are now being highly discussed, there have been Facebook groups created to protest the new Terms of Use.

I think that if Facebook wants to make changes like this to their Terms of Service, it would have been a good PR move to notify users ahead of time that these changes were being made. At the same time, users should already know that with a social networking site like this one, their content will be shared to everyone–so be cautious about what you post! 

For more layman’s terms about Facebook’s changes, I suggest you read Chris Walter’s article in The Consumerist

And for everyone who is concerned about their current user content being owned by Facebook indefinitely, there’s not much you can do now. However, it’s still a good idea to clean up your Facebook page if you are worried about your personal brand image–it can’t hurt to look good! 

 

(Photo: Tom Rydquist)

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The Scariest Interview Question–“What Are Your Weaknesses?”

3230891_blog1I am currently completing my senior year of college (yay!) and I am planning on applying for jobs and starting the interview process next term. During my time in college, I’ve held several jobs–most of them at local sandwich shops–so I’m already a step ahead of those who have never had an interview for a job before. Even though all of my interviews have been casual, I still freak out when they ask me the hardest question (I think) to answer, “What is your greatest weakness?”

How am I supposed to answer that?? I remember one of my advisors from high school telling me that I’m supposed to answer that question “positively,” like, “My greatest weaknesses is that I work too hard, and dedicate all of my time to working hard,” something like that. But how can I answer this question honestly, while impressing my future boss at the same time?

Joann S. Lublin from the Wall Street Journal wrote an excellent article last week addressing this issue. She says, ” in today’s weak job market, the wrong answer weakens your chances of winning employment.” Her advice: “Thorough preparation. Career specialists suggest you take stock of your weaknesses, focusing on job-related ones that won’t impede your ability to perform your duties.” She interviewed business professionals about how to answer this question, and here are some of their responses:

  •  An information-technology manager claimed that he he worked such long hours that he found it difficult to stay current with world events. So, he spent 30 minutes every evening catching up at home.   
  • Or if you are applying to a start-up company, Ben Dattner, a New York industrial psychologist, suggests saying, “My weakness is I get bored by routine.”

It is important to be honest during the interview process. Don’t answer the question by lying and saying you have no weaknesses, but also don’t answer with a major flaw, like that you have trouble meeting deadlines. You want to make a good impression during your interview so that you can be hired, and the best impression you can make is be yourself, and answer this question with confidence. It would be best to research the company you’re applying for before hand to know what they are looking for, and answer your “weakness” question based on what they want and how you can contribute to their company. Remember, practice makes perfect, and in this tight economy, it’s best to be perfect.

Working out the Kinks

I’m somewhat of a procrastinator. Not in a bad way–I always finish my assignments on time2374783_blog–but I tend to put stuff off until the last possible minute before it needs to be done. I do this with everything in life: homework, laundry, writing thank you letters, etc., but it’s gotten to the point that I’ve made it a point in my life to try and limit this behavior.

I made it my New Years resolution to cut down on my procrastination habits, but I’ve sort-of procrastinated on this resolution: I’m doing laundry that should have been done a week ago as we speak. But, I’ve also learned the importance of taking time to complete needed tasks. Laundry is something that can be done last minute, a PR proposal is not. 

I read a blog post  by Megan Soto describing the importance of paying attention to detail. She states that putting forth the effort to recheck your work, and have others check over your work, will save you the embarrassment of sending out information to clients that contain errors (spelling, grammatical, factual, etc.). When you procrastinate, like I often do, you don’t have the time to revise your work, or to have others revise it for you, making your work more susceptible to errors. 

I agree with Megan how important it is to show your clients that you are working hard for them, and to prove this dedication it’s essential to have your work error free. It will also impress your clients to know that you pay attention to detail, and complete your work in advance in order to give them the service that they’re paying for. 

Your client isn’t paying you to do haphazard work for them, so prove to them you’re professional by paying attention to detail, researching ahead of time, and spending quality time working on plans and proposals. People will start to take you seriously and recognize your commitment to your work.

Tailor Made–Stitching up Pitching Styles

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One essential theme I’ve learned throughout my PR courses in college is the importance of targeting your audience in order to relay an effective message. For example, if I got an e-mail from a friend about tips for bulking up my biceps, I would most likely delete it without reading it (and probably question my relationship with said friend). This friend obviously doesn’t know anything about my likes or dislikes (I am not one to pump iron at the gym), and it is fairly probable that this friend sent this e-mail out as a mass e-mail to all of his/her friends without any regards to whether I personally would enjoy reading the e-mail or not. And, I know many of you feel the same way I do about mass e-mails, texts, etc.—they are annoying and a waste of my time. 

During my Advanced PR Writing class on Thursday, our class had the privilege of having a video conference with Jason Falls, a social media expert, about the importance of social media relating to PR. One of his final statements was about the importance of targeting your audience when sending out a press release: “Make press releases personal,” he said, “go for quality rather than quantity.” And he’s absolutely right. The media are more likely to respond to something that interests them–not a mass e-mail sent out to every other reporter in the region. 

Dave Fleet  addresses this topic better in his blog about pitching to an audience. He claims that standard news releases are cheap, effortless on the part of the organization, and are intended for multiple audiences. Even though this may sound like the easy way out to PR practitioners, it is not effective. He says that tailoring a pitch for a specific recipient may require more effort and research, but it will be worthwhile in the long run. The recipients are more likely to respond if the idea intrigues them, and it can build a better relationship between you and this recipient, which is also helpful in the long run.

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If time is running short, and you only have time to do a general news release, change a few sentences or aspects of the release to specifically target each recipient. The more time you spend on building relationships with each recipient, the more likely they are to read your releases in the future!

I Only Watch The Super Bowl for the Commercials…

sb43_mark…and this year I was highly disappointed! I have never been a sports fanatic–in fact, up until this year I always found out who was playing in the Super Bowl at the start of the actual game. Yet, I don’t think I have ever missed a Super Bowl game. I usually zone out during the game–maybe go to the kitchen and put more chips and bean dip on my plate, or catch up on homework that is due the next day–but once it goes to commercial break, I am always glued to the TV.  And after hearing that advertisers spent $3 million on each 30 second commercial, I knew this year’s crop of commercials would be great! However, I was let down. The commercials this year didn’t strike me as they did in years past. I think most people watch the Super Bowl ads for the humor, and this year I think many ads didn’t step up to the humor plate as much as viewers would’ve liked. 

After taking Public Relations and Marketing classes, I realize how important it is for advertisers to get their message across to consumers in a short amount of time. And if these advertisers are spending $3 million on each commercial, they want to make sure that their message sticks in the minds of consumers. After watching certain commercials, like the Godaddy.com commercials, I was left with a partial smile on my face, and not really sure what the company, or the website, was about. Viewers are expecting funny commercials, and advertisers are expecting to sell products, but this year I think the majority of the commercials weren’t that funny, and advertisers didn’t make their message stick. It’s so important for people concerned with pitching/selling a product or an idea to target their audience and make their message stick. 

I am reading a book right now–Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath–that shows readers how to make good ideas stick with their target audience. I will post a blog later on this book once I am done reading it, but I encourage everybody out there that is interested in sharing their ideas with others to read this book: especially Super Bowl advertisers! 

As with every Super Bowl, there’s always next year’s ads to look forward to.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what my favorite ad was, I’ve attached the video for it.

The World of Social Media

Welcome to my first attempt at creating a blog! I am planning on pursuing a career in PR when I graduate, so my Advanced PR Writing professor, Kelli Matthews, advised that we create our own blogs to prove to future employers that we are familiar with social media. So here it goes…

Although my generation is often associated with being “all-knowing” in the realm of social media, it seemed as if only a few people in my class read blogs, and none of us have made blogs of our own. It’s not that we don’t know anything about social media–everyone in the class either has a Facebook or MySpace page–I think that it might be because we haven’t been given the opportunity to explore social media beyond our social networking boundaries. But, as our Advanced PR class is progressing, we are learning from our professor as well as other PR professionals the importance of social media and networking. Press Releases are no longer sent on a piece of paper–they can be sent via e-mail with links to podcasts, pictures and videos for the media to view and learn more about the issue at hand. 

So, as I learn more about social media and public relations, I am going to inform you about what I learn, and hopefully share my knowledge as useful tips to those who are also learning about social media and public relations.

Cheers!