Set Yourself Apart: Extra Steps to Take as a PR Student

Recently I read a blog on “Preparing Yourself: The Extra Steps to Take as a PR Student.”

Considering the fact that graduating and finding a job terrifies me, I crossed my fingers and hoped that these tips would help calm my nerves.

#1- Learn HTML

I know quite a bit about HTML because I have a weird fascination with the internet and web design, but I’ve never used it in-class or for any other projects. As for knowing HTML to “set you apart” from other graduates, I really like this tip because it is something that not many people learn in school, unless it is specifically related to their major.

#2- Writing Different Styles

The thing that I really liked about the PR sequence at the University of Oregon is that we learn how to write for all different mediums. I now know how to write news releases, blogs, newsletter articles, a backgrounder, feature articles, video treatments and much more! Every different style of writing has a specific purpose, and when you know what the target audience is, it makes your writing that much more affective!

#3- Social Media

Social media is a great way to set potential job applicants apart. Since technology is changing at such a rapid pace and the Internet is becoming an increasingly popular medium to share and receive news, organizations need to keep-up with the times and have active social media plans.  Here are some tips on how to appear professional on your personal Twitter:

  • Keep out the bad words
  • Don’t be negative
  • Provide useful information for your followers, not just static
  • Participate in conversations
  • Build relationships

Blogging is also important because it provides a place for potential employers to get an idea of your writing “voice” and style.

What do you think? Are these good tips for PR graduates? What else (if anything) would you include on this list?

Photo by Kristina B

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What Should Be On Your Nonprofit’s Website

Fall term of this year I found myself really wanting to volunteer with a specific organization, but when I went to their website it was a wreck. The “current projects” information tab hadn’t been update since the previous summer, there was no information about volunteering and there were no stories on who they had helped or what they had done.

I surprised me because, in my opinion, a website (along with social media) is one of the most important ways for an organization to interact with people.

Here are the basics nonprofit organization’s website requirements:

Your Organizations Mission Statement
This may seem obvious, but it is a very important part of your website. Sometimes, organizations names are misleading. By sharing your mission statement with your on-line viewers, it let’s them know exactly what it is that you do and what you are working towards.

“Who We’ve Helped”
Personally, I like to see results. I like to see who/where an organization has helped, because personal stories are so much easier to relate to than just plain statistics. If an organization can prove to me that they can use their donations and grants wisely, I will be much more willing to donate to them. Without this section on an organizations website, the chances of me giving them money is approximately 0 percent.

Volunteer profiles
Although most people are not volunteering for publicity, a little appreciation from an organization is always nice. Volunteers take the time to come help your organization, and they do it all for free. Why not give them a special thank-you for all that they do?

“How YOU Can Help!”
Not everyone is made for the same job. Some people prefer hands-on work, while others prefer clerical work in an office. By listing all of the different tasks that you need help with, it increases the volunteer response because people know you have a specific duty for them.

Be accessible

Additional useful tips when putting together a website:

  • You can never have too many photos.
  • Provide your office address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc, to increase accessibility for donations, volunteer sign-up, e-mail registration, telephone calls and drop-in visitors.
  • Link to your social media for increased availability (if you don’t have a Facebook and Twitter, get them ASAP.)

Here is a great list of 40 beautiful nonprofit organization’s websites.

Photo by Vilseskogen

The Importance of Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations

According to mashable.com, there are more than 400 million members on Facebook and approximately 6 million members on Twitter.

All of these people log onto social networking websites daily to do more than just keep in touch with friends and followers. A majority of people go to these websites to receive news as well.

For nonprofit organizations, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are great resources. Here is why:

Social media provides two-way communication.

Twitter and Facebook allow organizations to be a part of a real conversation, instead of just receiving feedback. Be sincere and use this feedback to better your company.

You can’t afford to ignore what people are saying about you on-line. Whether or not you are on Facebook or Twitter, people ARE talking about you. Don’t ignore it.

By being on Facebook and Twitter you are able to respond quickly. Customers and supporters appreciate quickness.

Social media allows organizations to reach and find supporters.
I know quite a few people who won’t make an effort to look for a new nonprofit organization that they would really like to support. Instead, they just stick with the really well-known nonprofits and donate their money to them.

Being on Facebook and Twitter has opened me up to a lot of really great nonprofit organizations I never would have known about before I was active on these websites.

Social media allows an organization to show their appreciation.
When a nonprofit organization follows me back on Twitter, I feel appreciated. When a nonprofit organization acknowledges something of theirs that I’ve retweeted, I feel appreciated. When a nonprofit organization gives me a special shout-out for mentioning them in my blog, I feel appreciated.

Cool. So I feel appreciated, what does that have to do with anything?

When people feel appreciated by an organization, they are more likely to return as volunteers, donors and/or supporters.

Social media allows organizations to show that they are human.
You are human. The people who run your organization are human. The volunteers who help you are human. Be human.

Humans are adaptive. Although your non-profit organization may have been successful without social media, times are changing. As more people throughout the world become more social media savvy, the more nonprofits need to develop social media plans and gain their online presence in order to keep these supporters.

To sum it up, nonprofit organizations need to utilize their social media. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter allow people to get to know an organization on a much deeper level than they would by just visiting their website. People appreciate interaction with organizations and that is what social media provides.

Photo by by TT PHOTOGRAPHY

How to Ace Your Interview

Recently, I read a blog featuring ten tips on how to ace a job interview really interested me.

This summer, I spent a few days sitting in on job interviews for an open position at the organization where I was interning. Throughout those interviews, I made a lot of mental notes of what to do, and not do, during future interviews.

Here are my favorite tips from this blog, as well as a few of my own.

Tips from the blog:
Be certain you understand the question.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
If you aren’t certain of what the interviewer is asking you, it is better to ask for clarification rather than talking about something off-topic. Not paying attention during the interview shows that you might not pay attention to directions once you get hired as well, and that’s never an appealing employee trait.

Avoid the use of negative terms in your answers. Instead of problems, talk about challenges or opportunities.
No one likes someone who is negative all the time. If you can’t keep a positive attitude during the interview it is a red flag that you’ll complain if/when you get the job too.

Prepare, but don’t over-do it. Your answers should come naturally, not sound like a script.
Find a list of the “most common interview questions” on-line and think about how you would answer them. Keep them in mind as you prepare for the interview, but do not memorize answers.

My own tips:
Research the organization and the position before the interview.

Some of the main questions they asked during the interviews I sat-in on were, “why would you be a good fit for our organization?” and even more bluntly, “what do you know about us?”

If you can’t answer these basic questions, then obviously you don’t want the position badly enough and no one will want to hire you.

Be confident in you and your abilities.
One of the interviews that I remember most vividly is one of a woman who was very shy and quiet. Being nervous is totally understandable during an interview, but it is also a turn-off for potential employers.

If you can’t be confident in yourself, why should anyone else be? The interview is the time to sell yourself to an employer and an organization.

Just remember that there was a reason that an organization called you for an interview.  You obviously have something that appeals to them, so just be yourself.

For the rest of the tips, check out the blog here.

Photo by Richard.Asia

Going Rogue: Mistweets Happen

This week, the Red Cross fell victim to a much publicized mistweet. Unlike the Kenneth Cole mishap (see my previous blog) that happened recently, a woman got her Red Cross twitter and personal twitter mixed up. The result? A personal (and slightly embarrassing) tweet on the Red Cross’s account for all of its 250,000+ followers to see.

To summarize what happened next, the Red Cross came back with a comical reply to inform their Twitter followers that the whole thing was just a mix-up. The woman who actually wrote the tweet also came forward and took responsibility for it on her personal Twitter (where the initial tweet was supposed to be posted.)

For the sake of space and time, I’m not going to go into all of the details of the situation, but here is a great article that explains the series of events involving the rogue Red Cross tweet.

After posting a question on Twitter asking what everyone thought about how the Red Cross handled their situation, I quickly received this reply from Jackie Mitchell, Director of Marketing and Communications from the Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

I love how Jackie puts it. When mistweets happen, the organization cannot decided the outcome, BUT with an active social media community, a great organization, a trusting boss, a combination of  seriousness and sense of humor and a little bit of karma, the ability to come out on top of the situation is amazing.

The Red Cross also posted this blog, which sums up nicely how they dealt with the rogue tweet. (Pay special attention to their “2 words of caution” listed at the bottom, I still can’t get over how much I love their sense of humor.)

Here are the top 5 lessons I learned from Red Cross’s reaction to their Twitter mix-up.

  1. Everyone makes mistakes: The people who run Twitter for various organizations are real people and the Red Cross is no exception. Technology is confusing and everyone is bound to make a mistake or two.
  2. Delete the comment, but make sure you tell everyone you did and explain what happened: Just deleting the Tweet or comment is suspicious. Acknowledging something as a mistake is much more understandable than deleting something and leaving readers to question “…what was that?”
  3. Laugh at yourself: What else can you do? If you worry about losing a job because of a mistweet, remember that a general rule of thumb is to not post anything on-line that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see or read.
  4. Move on: Don’t dwell on the situation. Everyone wishes they had a magical time machine to rewind time and re-do some situations, but magical time machines don’t exist. Deal with the effects from the mistweet and be done with it.
  5. Don’t let it happen again: Everyone understands that accidents happen, once in a while. Frequent mistweets show un-professionalism and in effect lowers your organizations credibility.

Note: These tips only refer to situations where someone accidentally posted a tweet onto a different Twitter than it was meant for, and are not for cases where people tweet something they never should have tweeted in the first place (example: Kenneth Cole.)

“He Did NOT Just Tweet That!”

“What were they thinking? WERE they thinking? He did NOT just tweet that!”

Sometimes, people tweet things that I do not understand, and on February 3rd, popular designer, Kenneth Cole was one of those people.

This was his tweet:

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC”

Wait… What?

I found Cole’s tweet completely inappropriate, offensive and tasteless.

(For those of you who are unaware of what was happening on February 3rd in Cairo, Egypt, here is some background information.)

Two hours later came this tweet,

“Re Egypt tweet: we weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment –KC.”

…That’s all we get? You weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation? Ohhh.. You were just trying to get people to click the link to go look your new Spring line? Oh okay, I get it now.

Actually, no, no I don’t.

Why would you use the situation is Egypt as a joke to promote your new line? At the time KC tweeted, people were dying and he was trying to get traffic to his website.

Later that day he posted an apology on the Kenneth Cole Facebook stating:

I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I’ve dedicated my   life   to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.

Kenneth Cole, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer

Giving an official apology was a very, VERY smart thing for Cole to do, but I’m still too shocked by what he said initially.

Cole claims that he has dedicated his life to raising awareness about serious social issues, so I can’t understand how he thought this Tweet would be taken lightly.

Any apology is better than no apology, but not having anything to apologize for is even better. So thank you Kenneth Cole, for apologizing for your inappropriateness, but I’ll take my business elsewhere.

Photo by Alex E. Proimos

Nonprofit Packers

I dedicate this blog to the winners of Super Bowl XLV, the Green Bay Packers.

After reading a recent blog I learned this fun fact:

The Green Bay Packers are the only NONPROFIT professional, major league sports team in the country.

How is this possible?

Well, instead of having one individual owner, the Green Bay Packers franchise has more than one hundred thousand individuals who own a total of 4,750,937 shares of this corporation.

To keep everything equal and prevent any individual from gaining total control over the team, there is a limit of owning 200,000 maximum shares. The shareholders then elect a board of directors and an executive committee to represent an owner at the NFL (national football league) Owner’s Meetings.

The Community Involvement page of Packers.com includes a community outreach report that explains all of the different causes, events and organizations that they support. This part of their website is definitely worth taking a look at.

The team’s charitable efforts in the last year alone totals approximately $4 million.

The Green Bay Packers are an anomaly amongst other teams in the NFL. They go above and beyond to support their community and in return, their community continually supports them.

Here are some links to articles regarding the Packers use of fans and their community involvement:

Charities find receptive crowd at Green Bay Packers games

Packers Return to Green Day As Super Bowl Champs

With voter approval, work on renovating Lambeau Field will start after this season

Photo by cdw9