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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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”?

PR Real World Conference 2010: Part One.

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This past Friday, February 19, I attended the PR Real World Conference in Atlanta with three other lovely ladies from the PRSSA chapter at WCU. Altogether there were four sessions plus a luncheon with a keynote speaker. Throughout the conference there was also many opportunities to network with other public relations students from different states, and individuals from companies like Ketchum, Porter Novelli, MS&L Worldwide, Golin Harris, and many others. At the opening session of the conference, we were reminded of some important things to keep in mind throughout the day:

  1. Networking is critical!
  2. Save contacts and remember who they are. After you receive a business card write down something so you can remember who they are. Follow-up on them two to three days after initial meeting (ex. I met you at Real World..).
  3. Do not just join PRSA or PRSSA, get involved!

Here are some valuable tips that I took from each session I attended:

Session 1: Social Media’s Place in PR

The speakers at this session were Ashley Payne from the Georgia Aquarium, Stephen Brown from MS&L Worldwide, and Nick Ayres from The Home Depot. They each offered valuable advice about using social media and how it has affected the companies they work for.

  • Ashley Payne: A year ago, the Georgia Aquarium did not have social media but they did have traditional public relations. Now that they use Twitter (10,862 followers), Facebook (16,013 fans) and e-mailing lists they are able to offer special promotions and give away free things via social media.
  • Stephen Brown: MS&L’s social media team helps many clients with their social media. Stephen informed us to create a calendar of specific times and dates and information for what to Tweet about. He also said to engage customers using the social media. Twitter has become very popular with this because of hashtags, ‘mentioning’ and direct messaging. One of the important messages he left us with was to know the purpose of having social media for your client.
  • Nick Ayres: Home Depot started their social media two and half years ago. He said it is great for offering promotions and gaining customer feedback. The team he works on is made up of him and one other individual.

The speakers had many other things to say about social media. Ashley Payne mentioned that you should make your Facebook and Twitter private when you apply for a job. They DO look at your pages, so at least clean them up. Another bit of information they included when applying for a job was to research what the company was doing with social media. If they are not using social media ask them why not and explain to them why they should (promote special offers, deals and events). Here are some other great pointers the three left us with:

  • Organizations want to know other things you do besides just social media when applying for a job.
  • Know the different platforms of social media. RESEARCH! Know how to apply this for business.
  • The Big Three: Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

Campaigns, Campaigns Everywhere.

[tweetmeme source=”amfunderburk1” http://www.URL.com%5DTonight was the very first time my groups met for the Fundred and Good Samaritan Clinic campaigns. We basically discussed what our objectives would be, and started to form a plan for how to meet these objectives. As a team we will each be playing very important roles. We definitely achieved quite a bit during these meetings.

For the Fundred campaign I will be working on a letter that will be sent to the different organizations on campus. The purpose of this letter is to inform the organizations about Fundred and the competition we will be holding on campus. There will also be a flier attached to the letter that one of my teammates will be creating. Another thing I will be doing in the next week is writing a description on how to create a Fundred bill. This, along with other team members research will be going onto our Facebook page to inform people about our campaign. For the Good Samaritan Clinic, we basically just discussed the different jobs we would all have the opportunity to work on. Some of these include updating their Facebook page, writing press releases, helping sort out the mailing list, and several other things.

I know I am very excited to be working on these two great campaigns. This will keep me busy all semester, but I am definitely ready for whatever is thrown my way.

A Simple Hello.

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This is my very first blog, so why not explain what struck my interest in creating one. I currently attend Western Carolina University where I major in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing. I am involved with Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and this semester I am PR Jobs and Internships Director. I am also involved with Catamount Communications (Cat Comm), which is the student-run public relations firm on campus. This semester I am working on teams with two of our clients: Fundred and Good Samaritan Clinic.

Seeing that I am majoring in what is becoming a very competitive field, I have decided to become hands-on with all social media that I can. With Facebook and Twitter down, blogging is my next endeavor. The purpose of my blog is simple: share with you guys what I learn as I learn it. Along with that I will be posting experience I gain as I work on my very first campaigns. This is my first semester working on a campaign, and I am lucky to have two clients to work with! This is a great opportunity to obtain hands-on experience of writing press releases, helping maintain a newsletter, event planning, working with an organizations social media, and many other things. I will also be posting updates about my research of jobs available in public relations.