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One article after another makes me believe that many blogs are or soon will be the “mainstream” media. Many articles have been written in the past about the influence of the blogosphere on the traditional mainstream media. I remember reading articles about how many journalists read blogs, how many stories originate as a blog post and how blogs keep stories alive for days and weeks.
But now, instead of blogs influencing the mainstream media, the blogs are becoming the “mainstream” media.
One of the reasons they are undergoing this change, is the fact that the traditional media are dying: “The newspaper industry has experienced the worst drop in advertising revenue in more than 50 years,” reported Jennifer Saba in Editor & Publisher. “According to new data released by the Newspaper Association of America, total print advertising revenue in 2007 plunged 9.4% to $42 billion compared to 2006 — the most severe percent decline since the association started measuring advertising expenditures in 1950,” she writes.
And if blogs are becoming the mainstream media, are they also changing the way they are run and operated? It seems so:
Just today, Erick Shonfeld wrote on TechCrunch: “Media is changing—how it is produced and how it is consumed. The worlds of blogging and journalism are colliding. […] Some people question whether TechCrunch is even a blog anymore rather than a professional media site. But that distinction is becoming increasingly meaningless. The truth is that we are both.”
Josh Quittner of Fortune recently wrote: “[Michael Arrington’s (founder of TechCrunch)] problem is that the nature of what he does is changing. “Blogs,” he says, “are starting to go the way of mainstream media.” All the successful blogs are starting to take on the trappings of the very thing they disdain. Sites that started out as tiny operations – titles like ReadWrite Web, Mashable, GigaOm, and Silicon Alley Insider – have staffed up and are turning into small businesses. Arrington himself employs ten people.”
So, next time you reach out to bloggers, be prepared to face a structure that will more remind you of the mainstream media, because that might be exactly who you are talking to.
Obama was brilliant when he chose the word “change” as the theme of his campaign. While Hillary’s theme of “experience” is also effective, it is not nearly as effective as “change.” “Hillary Clinton realized her mistake and jumped on the change bandwagon. Her new theme: ‘Countdown to change.'”
“It’s too late. Obama has pre-empted the change idea. A typical example is the cover of the Jan. 14 issue of Newsweek with a picture of Barack Obama and the words “Our time for change has come,” wrote Al Ries in Advertising Age. And what was John Edwards’ theme? Who knows??
It shows how important a theme, a big idea, a word association can be to a success of a candidate or any other brand. “A great slogan not only connects with consumers, it can help keep everybody in the organization focused,” Ries says. And I have to agree. I believe public relations is most effective when every plan, every strategy and every tactical move are developed with that slogan or theme in mind. And this big idea has to be consistent. Going back to politics, I don’t think it helped Hillary or Romney to suddenly after Iowa start talking about change. It was not consistent with their previous messaging – they did not seem authentic.
Ries concludes: “The three most important rules of advertising used to be: Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Today, we seem to have forgotten these rules.” And what should the three most important rules of PR be? Repetition, repetition, repetition.
USC Annenberg and Ketchum recently released study Media, Myths & Realities reports that only 24 percent of communicators report having a word-of-mouth program in place, even though advice from family and friends is the No. 1 source that consumers turn to when making a variety of decisions.
Some other interesting facts from the study are:
Communicators rank their companies’ own Web sites as the most effective way to share corporate news or issue a response to a crisis, but consumers rank company Web sites sixth and seventh among places they turn to for corporate news and crisis response, respectively.
With digital media giving rise to increasing media choice, fragmentation and personal empowerment, the term “mass market” is being outmoded. As a result, it is imperative that communicators view their audience as distinct groupings of individuals. While local television news was seen as most credible, it dropped from 7.4 last year to 6.9 on a scale of 0 to 10. Celebrity endorsements ranked last, at 3.7, down from 4.7 last year. Cable network news ranked 6.8, compared to 6.4 in 2006.
Media preferences are more personalized than ever. The study reveals that 22 percent of U.S. consumers use social networking sites, up from 17 percent in 2006, and 19 percent of consumers use blogs, up from 13 percent. Among consumers over the age of 55, use of blogs and social networking sites more than doubled. At the same time, use of most other media outlets slipped from a year earlier.
Search engines continue to be a gateway to consumer choice in information, with 60 percent of U.S. consumers using them to find and select the news and other information they want to receive. The trend toward more personalized media is even stronger among “influencers” – the 10 to 15 percent of the population who initiate changes in their community or society through a variety of activities – with 35 percent using both social networking sites and blogs and 72 percent using search engines.
While I was studying at USC Annenberg, I had the opportunity to work with Jacquie Goetz, Account Supervisor at Weber Shandwick in Detroit. We worked together on a project for General Motors. Working with Jacquie was very inspiring and convinced me that I really want to do PR. She has always given me great advice, so I thought it would be helpful if she could share some of that advice with others who are also entering the PR profession or who are thinking about it. I sent Jacquie several questions and here are her answers and some tips:
PR ramblings from yet another person thinking she knows it all
It’s hard to believe I have been working full-time for going on eight years now. It seems like yesterday that I graduated from college and was a newbie in the work world! If I could give a younger, greener version of myself some advice, it’d have to be the following points:
- Volunteer to take on new projects
- Always work to improve on your skills
- Read often and much
- Check your ego at the door
Volunteer to take on new projects
Nothing shows initiative like volunteering to take on the task no one else wants to do or that seems like a lot of work. Not only will you impress your supervisors, you’ll gain valuable experience you can use on future projects. Volunteer to help out even on other people’s projects if you have the time. People always appreciate an extra set of eyes to review a document or help with media follow-up. The good karma you put out there will come back to you!
Always work to improve your skills
Though I consider myself a decent writer, I often volunteer to take on writing assignments and tasks because I know I can always get better. Same thing with public speaking. You can never get enough practice! I would recommend every PR professional become involved with some sort of professional society through which they can attend seminars of interest. I know my public speaking skills can only get better, so I joined Toast Masters to get additional practice and critique from knowledgeable sources within and outside of my profession. Writing groups and PR and Marketing associations are other examples of professional societies from which I have been able to take courses and be exposed to new perspectives. Join one (or two or three), but remember to then go to the meetings and take advantage of the benefits.
Read often and much
I am a firm believer that reading is crucial to being a good writer. By exposing yourself to other people’s work, you gain ideas and perspectives that can help influence your own. Read anything (books, newspapers, blogs, famous speeches). You may find inspiration, a good quote or a style that you want to emulate in your own writing. Expose yourself to all sorts of reading material (blogs, books, newspapers, speeches, etc.)!
Check your ego at the door
People will always offer you advice, edits and critique of your work. That may bother you. It bothered me (and yes, sometimes still does). Sometimes their feedback is right on and will benefit your work. Sometimes it’s not. But realize that your work may be better in the end from the suggestions of your supervisors and peers. Critique is not personal. It’s generally a result of your peers’ previous experience in the same area. Welcome their knowledge and attempt to help out! Having said that, know when to take feedback and integrate into your work and know when to leave it (but realize that you must know the rules before you should break them). Leave the ego out of it!
If you’re really struggling with this, find a creative outlet outside of work where you don’t have to listen to anyone’s critiques but your own.
Everyone will make mistakes in their first year as a PR professional. And guess what? You’ll make mistakes every year after that too. That’s part of learning and becoming better at what you do. Expect to make mistakes. What you do after you make them is what really counts. Do you learn from them? Do you become better at that particular task? If so, the mistake was worth it.
What has helped me most in my career?? That’s a good question. I guess I’d have to say having what I think is an easy-going personality that tries not to get caught up in office politics or gossip and remembering that life is so much more than my career. I try to remind myself that we’re all in this for a common goal—to help our clients and to do good work, and at the end of the day, to go home and enjoy all that life has to offer.
I recently flew from LA to San Francisco for several interviews, and today I would like to share with you my experience. For several weeks I had been planning this trip. Because I have a busy schedule, I was able to go out of town only for one day. I wanted to make it as efficient as possible and that’s why I scheduled four interviews for that one day. It took a lot of planning and figuring out in what order I should schedule the interviews, but after weeks of phone calls, emails and preparations I was ready to go to SF.
Because I don’t want to hurt my chances and because I don’t think it would be appropriate, I will not say what companies I interviewed with. Some of the interviews were for actual positions, but some of them were only informational. As you might already know from your own experience, public relations agencies tend to hire just weeks before they need to fill a position, and that’s why I arranged a meeting even with companies that do not currently have any openings. I wanted to make sure that once they have a position available, they will think of me.
Most of the interviews were structured similarly: I met with someone from HR and with several people with various titles. Most interviews lasted between 1-2 hours. Here are some of the most frequent questions I encountered:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why are you interested in public relations?
- Why do you want to work in San Francisco?
- What achievement are you most proud of?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- What do you like about your current internship?
- What are some of the clients you have worked on?
- What are you looking for in a company?
- What industries are you interested in the most and why?
Once I was asked for a salary range.
As you can see, most of the questions were asking me why I did something or why I am interested in something. Companies want to know the reasoning behind your decisions.
Some companies required a phone interview prior to my visit in SF and some asked me for a second round of interviews over the phone.
What helped me:
- Bringing multiple copies of my resume
- Having references and writing samples with me
- Researching the company prior to the interview (Google, Holmes Report, PR Week, etc.)
- Looking up the interviewer on Google and LinkedIn
- Sending out thank you cards after the interview
- Keeping notes for future reference
- Planning everything in advance
- Opening multiple doors (What I mean by this is not to rely purely on the standard way of applying, but reaching to people from the company in other ways. For example I already knew some people from the company or from other offices from PRSA events and other speaking opportunities, I contacted one of the employees through Second Life, and I wrote an email to the GM of a company. I believe that the more doors you can open, the better chance you have in getting hired.)
Please share with me and others your experience with the interview process.
My friend recently told me about some problems she encountered looking for a job in another state. She told me that recruiters often exclude her resume because she has her local phone number on it. I guess recruiters feel that it would be too difficult to interview or hire someone out-of-state, and they probably don’t want to go through the hassle for an entry-level job. Since my friend told me about it, I have heard the same story from several other people, and I think I have a solution.
Recently I read an article in the New York Times about a new service called Grand Central. It is a service that allows you to have one number for your cell phone, home phone, office, etc. When someone calls you on your Grand Central number, all your registered phones will be ringing. Why am I talking about it? Because you can pick your area code and have your calls forwarded. Therefore, if you are looking for a job in New York, you can get a New York area code and have it forwarded to any number in the U.S. It is not the intended use of this service, but it works. And the best part: It is free.
PR Week on Monday released the 2007 Agency Business Report (ABR). It is available for download in PDF on PR Week’s Web site. It is a great resource if you are looking for an internship or a job. It offers detailed descriptions of major public relations agencies and a ranking of nearly 200 PR firms.
A colleague of mine, Alan Weatherbee, Director of Recruitment at the Constituency Management Group, sent me these tips on how to successfully navigate through the interview process and land a great job. He allowed me to share these with you. Alan is responsible for hiring for the West Coast offices of three public relations agencies: GolinHarris, Rogers & Cowan and Weber Shandwick.
- Narrow job search down by company, not necessarily by jobs posted. Make a list of top 10-15 companies you’d like to work for and attack!
- Call in to find out the Recruiter or HR representative’s name and direct contact information
- Research the company. Not just looking at the website but use your network to get the low down on the particular agency, its clients, and the major players
- Present yourself well by proof reading your submission, have another set of eyes review your resume, and always write an enthusiastic, flattering cover letter.
- In your cover letter, make sure to reference specific accomplishments the company has had and how they relate to you and your desire/experience. This shows you have done your research.
- Be prompt and flexible.
- Email address should not be ridiculous, resume doc should be saved as your name.doc, voice mails should be extremely professional and succinct – no ringtones and no casual message.
Resume tips: if entry level, highlight relevant coursework. Make your resume chronological, except if entry level, make a “relevant experience” section and section for “additional work experience”. Create a tailored “Objective” for every submission. Refresh your resume so it is up to the minute—many candidates have told me about small changes to their resume in the interview and that is frustrating. Keep the format simple and easy to ready with no more than 2 fonts. Bulleted resumes are easier to read than paragraphs. Include job title and dates (specific dates are preferred- if you put 2004-2005 we know you didn’t work there a full year). List clients and programs you worked on- this can be relevant.
- Have a reference sheet ready to go. Make your reference list strategically.
- Have a presentation of work samples.
- Make great eye contact and answer any question thoughtfully, no matter how mundane. Speaking of questions, always have at least one question to ask at the end of the interview.
- In the interview, try to make a personal connection or leave the interviewer with one or two commonalities- a person you both know, a mutual interest, if you went to the same school, are from the same state, etc. That way, you will not be forgotten and you have good fodder for feedback/follow-up emails.
- Write thank you notes- emails are acceptable.
- Don’t be afraid to follow up but careful not to stalk or harass. If you interview and don’t hear anything back from a company, politely follow up and ask for feedback. Don’t go over the edge if you didn’t get the job, the contact you made will be invaluable for your future employment so be courteous and professional- leave a great impression (Recruiters sometime switch to different firms or represent more than one firm and many of us know each other).
- Be willing and ready to discuss current salary and salary expectation openly and honestly. Don’t say “but I am flexible” unless you really mean it. Do some research prior to the interview to find out what that type of position is currently paying in the market.
- Be careful not to over negotiate on the main points of an offer. Be upfront about what you desire out of title and salary.
- Ask benefits questions so that you are able to make a completely informed decision when contemplating an offer.
- Don’t ask for too much time to decide. Typically 48 hours should be plenty of time to make a firm decision.
- Ask about protocol after accepting an offer and whether you need to reach out to anyone within the firm.
- Ask if there is any preparation you can do before starting.
- Keep the contact in mind to refer other talented people you know. The way to a recruiter’s heart is by referring people to him/her.
- Throughout the process, either way, be positive and be honest.
Internships, jobs, writing tests, new media, networking, blogs, podcasts, agencies, corporate PR, crisis, assistant account executive, account executive, pay, career, education…those are some of the words that come to mind when I am thinking of my next career steps. In a few weeks I will be graduating with a public relations degree, and I will be entering the PR profession full-time.
Even though there are many sites about public relations in general, and there is PRSSA which is a great organization for someone who wants to learn about PR, I felt there is something missing on the Web: a perspective of someone who is starting a public relations career. I would like to use this blog to offer you my perspective and to share with you advice I have received from some amazing people in the PR industry. I hope you will contribute to this site with your own PR View and offer others a quick preview of what PR is like.
I am not sure where I will end up going with this blog, but you can help me shape it. Comment, send me emails, call me, text me, Skype me, stop me on the street and tell me what you think. I am a strong believer that a person cannot advance without the help of others. I hope that we can all support each other to become successful public relations professionals.
“There is no such thing as a “self-made” man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our thoughts, as well as our success.” –George Burton Adams