Wonder is a Wonderful Thing

I am finally jumping on the bandwagon and participating in #reverb10. I have read so many great entries, so here goes with my first one.

The prompt today is wonder. To me, wonder is equal to “what if.” I am, and have always been, a “what if” person. This is not something I am very proud of, but I must say it has helped me view many situations in depth before making a decision.

The way that I have cultivated a sense of wonder in my life this year is through the experience I have gained in public relations.

I have only been a public relations major for a year and at the beginning of the spring semester of 2010 I decided I wanted to be very involved with anything and everything PR related I could get my hands on. I started utilizing Twitter, Facebook, other social media websites, PRSSA, CatCom, and the list goes on. Through these experiences I have gained more knowledge than I could ever imagine about public relations. I have also met some amazing people through social media and at conferences. One person in particular is Harrison Kratz. Harrison brought me onto the Kratz PR team over the summer and I have loved every minute of it. I am very fortunate to know someone like Harrison, a great individual that lives by his own moto: “Ambition Knows No Limits.” If you do not know Harrison, he has more ambition than anyone else I know. I feel honored and lucky to be able to work with such an ambitious individual!

The point I am trying to get across, and the way wonder ties into everything I just said, is I wonder where I would be right now if I had not been as motivated exactly one year ago to get involved and to gain experience. Yes there are times when I am extremely exhausted because I tend to say yes to every opportunity that crosses my path, but where would I be if I did not push myself as hard as I do? Probably not where I am today. So while I wonder how things would be different if I had decided to stick with music education, or had found a different major, I know deep down that public relations is exactly where my heart is. I have more passion for PR than I could ever dream of. While I do miss music, I wonder how my life would be at this very moment in time if I had not found, and feel in love with, public relations.

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Research, Research and More Research.

In the past year I have come to realize how important researching truly is, especially in the PR field.

When I first came to college I was a music education major, but after my first semester decided I love music but teaching it is not for me. I went undeclared for a semester and stumbled upon public relations. While I did not know a lot about it, I soon discovered through research what it is. I also got hands-on experience before I even changed my major to PR while I was a stage manager for a play my theater teacher was directing. Needless to say, here I am today, very passionate about my major and very sure with what I want to do with my life.

The point of the rant I just went on about changing my major is that while I was a music major my professors did not say how important research is, while in PR research is one of the most important things you can do and professors stress that to me all of the time. You have to stay on top of the industry and follow the trends. This is a very competitive field, and being a college student I can gladly say I research a lot. When I run across something interesting in the New York Times or on CNN I usually dig deeper to see what I can find.

Not only do you need to research news stories, but when working with a client it is vital to research the client before you begin working with them. Know as much as you can before the initial meeting and bring questions to them. They should not have to spend half of the hour you get with them explaining what they do. Also, when applying for jobs researching companies you apply to is key. A company is unlikely to hire you if you do not even know what it is they do. Find out if they are involved with social media, what their most current projects are and so on. Impress them in the interview. They do not want to be questioned about what their company is by someone applying for a job. They want to ask you the questions!

Research, research, research! Even if you are not in public relations, research the field you are in. Stay on top of it, because nine times out of ten it changes regularly. Do not be left in the dark, research!

Are YOU on the Bandwagon?

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Social Media is on the rise, and boy has it risen above most others. It is very obvious that people are obsessed with this new fad and it is not stopping anytime soon. This past week as I participated in various chats on Twitter (#SMMackChat#u30pro #blogchat ) I realized that a lot of people tweet about social media while using social media. Yes, I have obviously jumped on the social media bandwagon, but have you? This blog post is dedicated to my top three favorite social media sources that I use on a daily basis.

1) Twitter

We all use it. Twitter is great for many reasons, the top reason being networking. I have gained so many student and professional connections via Twitter and it is all because I actively engage in conversations. I will admit that for a while I would sit back because I was too timid to mention someone in a tweet or actually participate in chats like #PRStudChat or #u30pro. Instead I would occasionally send the, “Today is going to be great!” or “Cleaning around the apartment.” until I realized this past semester that you have to be confident on Twitter. So many great things are happening on this social media outlet, so why would you choose not to get involved? Plus, it is free!

Out of all of the social media sites that I engage in, Twitter is in my top three. I love the fact that you can do research via people you are following or by searching for it. You can start a conversation with a stranger and build a relationship solely because you have similar majors or live in the same area. There have been countless times when I have found people who major in public relations and I tweet to them on a daily basis. Something that actually happened today was a connection I made from the prstudchat-class-of-2011 list. I was looking to see if any other students graduating in 2011 had been added to the list and I saw @sandrulee so I decided to say hello. I discovered that she is from Turkey and we discussed some social media that had been banned in the country.

I feel like Twitter really is more than just a site to “update your status”. Twitter allows you to exchange information about various topics with people by mentioning, hashtags, or DM’s. Obviously it is an amazing source to network and connect with as well. When I signed up for it I was not a public relations major yet, but now I use it constantly because it is a great tool for the PR world.

Follow me on Twitter. I would love to chat with you!

2) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is still fairly new to me because I just joined a few months ago, but I love it! I have only connected with 46 people, but they are really great individuals to network with. LinkedIn is a website to upload you resume with the opportunity to add more content so people have a more in-depth understanding of everything listed under each section (Experience, Awards, Education, etc). It is obviously a fantastic way to network with professionals and students in the same field as you. It also allows you to join groups and interact with people. I recently gained a connection by joining the HAPPO group on the site. I definitely think it is worthwhile to join groups on the site, but do not just join them, get involved! Talk to fellow group members. You can help each other if you have questions about something or if you just need advice.

LinkedIn is a social media site that students and professionals should all join. It is professional and like I said before, great for networking and connecting with others. Come join me on LinkedIn! I would love to have you in my network.

3) Facebook

Of course I had to add everyone’s favorite, Facebook. I have had Facebook since it became available to high school students in 2006 and I am still engaged with the site even though there are privacy issues. When I first signed up I rarely got on to do anything. For a while I thought it was more stalker-friendly then anything. Eventually I got over that stage because I discovered it is a great way to stay in touch with friends that move, family members that are not near you, and sharing photos and videos. After I became a PR major I discovered how to really utilize Facebook to fit into being social media savvy.

One of my favorite things about Facebook is the ability businesses have to create fan pages. People can “like” fan pages to stay up-to-date with what is going on with a company, store, or organization that they like. Of course there are fan pages for everything, but many of these are pointless to me. I guess if people like the idea behind the page then they like it (no pun intended! :p). I personally control five Facebook fan pages and I love that I can interact with people who comment on the page by answering question or just saying “thanks for the comment”.

The PR Real World Conference workshop that I attended about social media taught me to keep Facebook fun and professional. Yes, it is great to go out and have fun and see pictures that your friends post from the night before, but be smart about it. Do not post pictures of you drinking and doing illegal things. Employers can and DO look at your Facebook page so keep it tidy. They are more likely to hire someone who has a cleaner profile then someone who has pictures and status updates of themselves going out to party every night.

You can friend me on Facebook as well!

That is my list of favorite social media outlets!

Now I have a few questions for you to think about or answer:

Are YOU on the bandwagon?

What are your favorite social media sites? Do you think Twitter will become “out-dated” in the next few months? How do you feel about LinkedIn? Are the privacy issues with Facebook going to cause you to “quit”?