Three Tips for Blogging

Blogging is not always as easy as it looks, especially if you want to keep your blogging consistent. Last night we discussed “How and When We Find Time For Blogging” during #blogchat on Twitter. Below are some tips I have for finding time to blog.

  • Make a plan. I feel like it is very important to have a plan for your blog. It gives it structure, along with helping you narrow down topics to write about. I have never really had structure to my blog before, but last Sunday I sat down for a few hours to revamp my website and plan out my blog. I came up with categories to write about each day of the week to narrow down what my blog post for the day would be. For instance, Monday’s are general topics, Tuesday’s are Twitterquette Tuesday’s and Friday’s are Friday Faves.
  • Pick a time. What time of the day works best for you? Early morning or late at night seemed to be the most popular responses from bloggers during the chat last night. Personally I tend to write my post at night and schedule it to post the next morning around 9am. I try to be consistent with the time I post so my blog followers know when to expect a post from me for the day. The main reason I do this is because I work from 7am- 3pm five days a week, and I want my post published in the morning. It will be different for everyone!
  • Get inspired. If you are like me, or most other bloggers, you will probably have an inspiration for a blog post pop up at any time of day. Always write it down! Find a method that works for you. I personally use the notes app on my iPhone or write the idea down in a notebook I keep on my desk. If you are having a hard time getting inspired read news articles, blog posts, or hashtags on Twitter to see if you can find something that inspires you. I try to have three blog posts up a week, however there may be a week where I have no inspiration to write a post that day. If this happens to you don’t force the post! Always remember, quality over quantity.
I will leave you with this quote from the chat last night: “The biggest secret to blogging productivity is not some cool app, but good habits & self-discipline. #blogchat” –@DanBlank

What other tips would you add to the list? How do you find time to blog? 

Related articles: 

How and When Do You Find Time For Blogging?

13 Tips to Find Time to Blog

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Friday Faves: Instagram

There are numerous photo editing apps out there for the iPhone, but my favorite, by far, is Instagram. Why, you ask? Instagram has so many great features and has the ability to make your personal photos look like they were taken by a professional photographer. Maybe they were, as I am sure there are professional photographers on Instagram, but if you are like me you really like to take pictures and share them with your family, friends and social media peeps.

There are so many great features with this app. I love that you can add hashtags similar to those on Twitter, but these only show results of pictures other users on Instagram have posted with the same tag, along with the fact that you can keep up with the crazy lives your family and friends live. Instagram is one of the must-have apps for iPhone, or at least I feel like it is. In fact, the first app I downloaded when I got my iPhone was Instagram! Would it be bad to say a huge reason I wanted my iPhone was actually for this app!?

The camera on the iPhone is already amazing (I have a very nice/expensive Canon digital camera and my iPhone takes better pictures than it sometimes), but Instagram allows you to edit and share your pictures within the app. When you take a picture and edit it you also have the option to upload to Facebook, or share on Twitter or Tumblr. Not only can you edit and share photos, but you can also tag the location with a feature provided by Foursquare.

A reason I love the sharing features that Instagram offers is because it allows me to upload the pictures I take to Facebook so my family can see what I’ve been up to. I don’t get to travel home very often, so it allows my family to see what I’ve been up to lately because I upload my Instagram photos faster than when I take pictures with my digital camera. It also saves every picture to my phone so I can send pictures from Instagram via text message. After all, sharing is caring!

Here are a few photos I have taken with Instagram:

*Taken at Western Carolina University*

*Taken at Cullowhee Falls*

*Taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway*

*Taken in Sylva, NC*

George, my Betta. (I had to add this one a little late, but I love it too much not to put it on here!)

What are your thoughts on Instagram? I would love to know what you think!

Twitterquette 101: Lesson Six

Twitter chat?  What is that? 

They’re awesome, that’s what they are! No, but really, they are. When I wrote Twitterquette 101: Lesson Two I briefly mentioned Twitter chats, but I did not delve into how they actually work, so I thought this would be an important topic to cover. I cannot tell you how much useful information I have taken away from participating in a Twitter chat, along with how many great individuals I have connected with. Now you may be asking how a Twitter chat works if you have never been involved in one.

How Twitter chats work: 

  • It all starts with a founder and hashtag. For instance, #JobHuntChat is one of the first Twitter chats I ever participated it and it was created by Rich DeMatteo. This particular chat focuses on job seekers and provides useful discussion on how to land a job.
  • After you discover a Twitter chat you would like to be involved in, find out how often the chat takes place. For instance, #JobHuntChat takes place every Monday from 10-11 pm est. Some chats are weekly (like #JobHuntChat), while other chats may only happen biweekly or monthly.
  • What next? So now you know when the chat takes place, so what next? Show up to the chat at the indicated time ready to discuss the topic for that specific chat! Usually the moderators of a chat will tweet from the chats actual Twitter handle (most chats have one… see @JobHuntChat for an example) well in advance what the topic for the upcoming chat will be. Some people wait to find out the topic on the day of the actual chat, while other people, myself included, like to know in advance.
  • While the chat is going on the moderator and the Twitter handle for the chat will tweet out a specific question for the chat community to discuss. Each chat topic/question will pertain to whatever the specific chat is about. #JobHuntChat went on last night, and here is an example of a question that was asked: “Q3: I’m not sure I like the job I’m interviewing for but the company is amazing. Should I still interview? #jobhuntchat”
  • When a question is tweeted you should do your best to answer with your own opinion. When you tweet your answer, be sure to include the hashtag of the chat so everyone participating can see your response! The responses to each question during the chat is what really gets the discussion going. Here is an example answer to the above question that I responded with: “3- If you don’t see yourself working in that position, why interview? The company may be amazing, but will you be happy? #jobhuntchat” Tip: If you are answering the question directly, be sure to include which question you are answering with the question number so other participants will know what you are responding to.
  • While it is important to give your own opinion to each question, be sure to follow along with the conversation and see what others are saying. This is why I love Twitter chats! Don’t be afraid to reply to something someone else has tweeted, that’s what really gets the discussion going. I always leave a Twitter chat with a ton of knowledge and thoughts about something. For instance, all of the answers people had to Q3 during #JobHuntChat last night really got me thinking, because honestly I had not even considered some of the responses I saw until someone else mentioned it.

Now that you have a rundown of how a Twitter chat works, it’s time to go get involved in one! Before you know it you will be a Twitter chat pro! There are Twitter chats about tons of topics out there. Here is a schedule of Twitter chats for you to look into: Twitter Chat Schedule.

My top favorite Twitter chats:

#JobHuntChat | #PRStudChat | #PR20Chat | #4SqCHAT | #nywicichat | #blogchat

Questions? Feel free to reach out to me in the comments section or through my Let’s Socialize page! Hope to catch you in a Twitter chat soon!

How a Part Time Job Can Help Your Future

Since the age of 15 I have held a part-time job working in the food industry. That’s 7 years! Why the food industry? I love food of course! Okay, that isn’t exactly why I have always worked in the food industry. I mainly just wanted a job while I was in high school to pay for extra things, like going out with friends to the movies, that I hated borrowing money from my family for. I never imagined how beneficial the part-time positions I held would actually turn out to be. Below are a few things I have taken away from various part time positions I have held.

  • Work Ethic. Having a part time job while you are in high school and/or college really helps boost your work ethic. I come from a very hardworking family anyways, but getting a job at the age of 15 really taught me about work ethic. I have worked in several different restaurant settings, and each one has shown me different types of work ethic from coworkers. It has helped to mold me into a very hardworking and motivated individual.
  • Leadership. While I have been in school here at Western Carolina University, I have held a part-time job at Subway. Throughout these past few years I have gained the trust from upper management to help train new employees, and as of last week was promoted to Store Manager. While I have no plans of furthering my career at Subway once I graduate with my PR degree (unless corporate is in need of a PR pro of course), working my way up the career ladder at Subway has shown me how hard work and dedication in the future will pay off.
  • Time Management. This is so important to have throughout life. Learning to be on time to work is a skill you will need to possess outside of college and a part time job. Something I learned in high school marching band has carried over into the work side of my life. Early is on time, on time is late, and late… well if you’re late, you’re screwed. Always be at least five minutes early! It shows you care. Along with being on time, when you are at work you need to make sure you set aside enough time to fulfill each task you have that day. Let’s face it, in the PR industry we have to be pretty awesome at managing our time, along with multi-tasking, hence why we are attached to our smart phones!
  • Balance. My senior year in high school I took on two jobs, marching band, and was a full-time student. Yes, this was tough. However, it taught me very early on how important balance really is. Thinking back on it now I have no idea how I managed to have a life outside of all of these things, but I did! While working two jobs didn’t last very long (I enjoy my social life), it did teach me that taking on too many things can be bad. Like I said before, I enjoy my social life, and I also enjoy family time. Working in the PR industry is time consuming, we students are aware of this. Therefore we have to find a good, healthy balance between work, social life, and family time. Too much work is not always a good thing! Sometimes your mind needs a break.
  • Communication Skills. One thing I wish my high school offered was a communications class. I feel like every high school should, because communication is so important out in the real world. Having a part time job has taught me how to effectively communicate with co-workers. For instance, I work morning and night shifts at four different Subway’s (they are all owned by the same guy). Doing this requires extreme communication with coworkers. All four stores operate a little differently, so I cannot be afraid to ask questions and find out answers to be able to work to my full potential. In the real world you have to be able to possess this skill! Communication really is key in the work world, and life in general.
  • Customer Service. We all know the customer is always right, right? If I have taken anything away from working in the food industry (I’m sure this goes for any retail industry… I know it does for Mary Kay as well, because I sold their products for a year) it’s that customer service skills are so important to have. Working in PR we will be faced with circumstances where we will have to deal with the consumers/customers of our clients. It is so important to understand how you should approach situations, and I must say, dealing with very hungry people at Subway, or when I was a waitress, is a great way to build those customer service skills. Hungry customers are not a force to be reckoned with!

Have you ever had a part time job? If so, how has it helped prepare you for the real world? If no, do you feel well prepared for the real world anyways? 

It’s Not ALL About Social Media

Social media. Where did it come from? Why is it important? What about the traditional stuff? 

Don’t get me wrong. Social media is absolutely wonderful. I use it everyday, and I have networked and met many great individuals via social media. However, people tend to forget the importance of traditional PR because of all the hype and attention social media has gotten. With social media comes many great opportunities. Virtual internships, networking, constantly staying updated, etc. However, you cannot solely rely on social media to further your career in public relations.

What do I mean by this? 

While it is great to have a social media internship, along with great knowledge of how the realm of social media works, you also need to know the basic skills of the industry. Go beyond a virtual internship. Yes, virtual internships are great. You learn very important communication skills (you aren’t in the office, so communication is extremely important), you work from home, you can have one while you are a full-time student, and the list goes on. However, virtual internships lack in one thing: the experience you will gain through a more traditional internship. For instance, I want to work at an agency where I am able to work on several client accounts. A traditional internship will offer me so much more than a virtual internship in this aspect because I would be in the actual office and able to get help/advice from co-workers at any given second.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of virtual internships and I am currently looking for one. My point is that you cannot solely rely on  social media to get you the experience you will need for the real world. As PR students we need to learn to be well-rounded. It is great to spend a lot of time learning and utilizing social media. It is also great to get out there and put those basic PR skills we learn in the classroom to use. If you focus on just one area of PR while you are in school you will miss out on so many things, and becoming a future well-rounded PR professional could be one of those.

To be successful we have to become well-rounded in this industry. We have to stay up-to-date on current trends, but we also have to stay in touch with the traditional side of PR. Social media has made networking and internships so much easier, but we need to keep in mind it isn’t all about social media. Don’t just rely on social media. Get out there and gain experience in person!

What are your thoughts? Is it really all turning to social media? Is the traditional aspect still important to gain experience in? 

Related articles: 

Is traditional PR dead? 5 ways technology has impacted the communications industry for better or worse

Is Traditional PR Even Worth It?

Twitterquette 101: Lesson Five

Not everyone will use Twitter the same as those of us who are in the PR field. For instance, someone in the food industry will not use Twitter the same way as someone that is in PR. Some people may not even have a reason to use Twitter at all, besides to inform the world of how awesome they are, or follow their favorite celebrities (example: high school students).

 I recently got back into marching band here at Western Carolina University this past fall semester. The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band has a Twitter account that they use to update the band members of what is going on. They require every member (there are over 300 members) of the band to sign up for Twitter and subscribe to the Pride of the Mountains Twitter account to receive updates via text message. One example of how the band uses Twitter that works is if there is a change in rehearsal plans they send out a tweet to let everyone know the changes made. This is a great system, because everyone is always in the know. It is also a fast and simple way to keep all 300+ members informed 24/7, because let’s face it… not everyone constantly checks their email or a website for important information.

So we as PR students and professionals, have to keep in mind that everyone will have a different reason for tweeting. We cannot expect everyone to utilize Twitter the same way that we do. Obviously the marching band at my university does not use Twitter to join in on Twitter chats and network with PR students and professionals. However, what they do that is similar to PR individuals is share information and keep their public informed. So before you jump to conclusions about someone, or an organization, using Twitter the “wrong” way, consider what their objective is.

What are some ways you have seen individuals use Twitter outside of the PR industry? What are your thoughts on how they utilize this social network? 

Spelling: Get it Right!

Let’s face it… every now and then you have to think about the correct form of “your” and “you’re,” or any of the other typically misspelled, or misused, words out there. What’s an easy way to remember commonly misspelled/misused words? Why none other than these spelling lessons by The Oatmeal! Enjoy. 🙂

Click here for the original image on The Oatmeal.

What are some ways you remember all of these spelling rules? 

See my post about National Grammar Day 2011 here.