15 5 / 2013
Permalink 517 notes
01 4 / 2013
"When advertising agencies tell you they want something (higher quality content, long-form content, specific demographics, lean-back content, stuff that looks like tv) it’s not our job to attempt to deliver those things. In a world where the user really does get to choose, the content created to satisfy the needs and wants of viewers (not advertisers) will always reign supreme (thankfully.)"
Permalink 29 notes
31 3 / 2013
Life, Rejection, & Growth.
I came upon an article written by high school senior, Marc Rinosa, on The Huffington Post describing why he framed his NYU rejection letter. He detailed the emotional journey through the initial numbness followed by a harsh reality and lastly, acceptance.
I think it took me approximately 59 and a half minutes to truly realize the gravity of the situation. … I tried to direct the blame to the admissions team that supposedly “regretted” their decision. Then I tried to blame my counselor, whom I devised a scenario for whereby she forgot to send everything, which of course did not happen. Ultimately I directed the blame to myself, telling myself I wasn’t good enough, that I could’ve done better, that I should’ve studied harder for the SATs, or that the reason why they rejected me was because I just didn’t want it as much as the others. … I began to compare myself to how everybody else was doing, how I wasn’t like the valedictorian, going to Harvard, or my friend, who got a full ride to her first-choice college. I threw a pity party attended by nobody but myself and ate a generous slice of humble pie, because I knew that this was just the first of the many major rejections I will face in life.
Winter 2011 I applied to 4 graduate programs:
- Syracuse University (S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications / Whitman’s School of Management): New Media Management
- New York University (Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development): Media, Culture, and Communications
- Boston University (College of Communication): Media Ventures
- Pace University (Dyson College of Arts & Sciences): Media & Communication Arts
I wanted to learn something past the fundamentals of public relations and tap into the cultural and business shift of media. Engage in deeper discussions about now AND the future and become a strong player in my field to become a more effective communicator and marketer.
I can relate to Marc as I was also rejected from NYU and went through the same motions. That letter followed with a rejection from Boston University. I suppose the blow wasn’t as difficult considering I knew I was leaving Richmond for graduate school regardless and at that point, had yet to hear from my first choice. I was accepted into my safety school, Pace…but attending my “safety” school wasn’t sufficient. I was gunning for Syracuse. Renowned as an elite communications institution, Syracuse is usually ranked in the top three along with (in no particular order) Columbia and Northwestern. I wanted to learn, challenge myself, and earn a degree which, to my understanding at the time, would be the key to any entry-level communications job I wanted. If not my intelligence, then surely the notably vast ‘Cuse alumni connection will get me far, right**?
Syracuse was the last to arrive. I heard a “murmur” I was accepted, but refused to evoke excitement until I had definitive proof. Every day for two months I rushed to the mailbox between 12 and 2 p.m. the minute the postal worker closed my mailbox. Finally on a March afternoon I receive an textured ivory envelope. Accepted.
That year I learned probably 1/3 (I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 2/3) of my graduating class had some sort of contact that bumped their application to the “preferred list.” In my case, I had a contact who essentially got me in with one phone call. That’s when I learned acceptance to graduate school isn’t all hard work and even in an esteemed educational setting, politics come into play. Donors, legacies, relatives, friends, connections…right or wrong, it’s the way of education, government, and corporations. The latter I’m currently struggling to push through in a tough economy where hundreds of individuals are fighting for one position, albeit slightly worse in my field considering the glamorization of communications over the past 20 years and its rapid transition. Many times it’s not how qualified you are but who you know or other political factors that may entice a final decision.
Even through rejection, you also encounter people who buzz in your ear (more often than not, those who aren’t well acquainted with you or with an ulterior motive), whispering false and/or negative assumptions and feedback, such as the former classmate who told me it would be close to impossible to be accepted into graduate school because I’d be competing with “kids who interned at NASA and overseas.” (I obviously crushed this theory). Or the irony of a PR pro with a Ph.D. who told me not to pursue a higher degree because it’s “useless” for my career trajectory and I don’t “need it” and borderline “irresponsible.” Or the VP who told me to aim lower not because he felt I wasn’t capable, but because corporate America isn’t accepting of people who look like me: an African-American female. Not to mention those who feel I’m not strong enough for certain roles lacking the understanding that I’m a chameleon who’s already championed the liberal non-profit arena and the stuffy corporate office who easily understands when to channel my endearing, comedic traits and my ability to become a tough (at times, intimidating) leader to accomplish a task. My father summed me up the best: “Your method is much like a panther. You’re quiet, listen to every word, witness every gesture and when the timing is right, you pounce.”
So really, how does one define success? What specific milestones must one attain to acquire it? Marc continues with an interesting observation:
I compare myself to others in order to define how successful I am. This is perhaps my most negatively defining characteristic of myself, particularly because I am extremely adept at comparing myself to others in order to gauge how successful I am in the present moment.
I’ve realized through a single rejection letter that as a teenager, we are pushed and pushed and pushed to almost fit into a mold of success. No longer are we only concerned with crafting a successful social image; we are also concerned with an image of personal success in the eyes of others.
For me, success isn’t measured by a 4.0 GPA but being awarded the 2011 Black History in the Making Award at my undergrad, which my professors VOTED for me to win. Or having the confidence to be one of three students (out of a class of 20) to speak with the president of one of the largest international media corporations. Or to beat 20,000 applicants to become one of 8 people sitting in front of five executives interviewing for a position at top media company. Maybe the final outcome wasn’t always preferable, but I’ve come a long way…much longer than most my age. Just because I’m still finding the right job and it’s taken longer than anticipated, don’t count me out yet. I still have many goals to achieve and people to prove wrong. Skepticism makes me stronger.
As I continue my journey trying to find an open door, I find myself struggling with the same insecurities and fears. The preparation, the anticipation of a response, and learning to cope with rejection after eight months of rigorous applications and interviews. It’s an emotional experience no one can understand unless they’ve personally experienced it, especially when you’ve worked your ass off for years to be better, stronger, and smarter than your competition only to find even the most unmotivated, snarky, and sometimes least talented have somehow found a way inside.
And honestly, it can be a number of things: maybe I didn’t perform as well in the interview as I could’ve, maybe I came across arrogant, maybe I don’t have enough experience, maybe I have too much experience, maybe it’s the color of my skin, maybe it’s my gender, maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s an underperforming job market, maybe someone had a direct connection, maybe the company’s business plan or financial situation has changed. Hell, maybe they just didn’t like me. …maybe, maybe, maybe.
I’m still learning not to dwell. I’m staying persistent, staying confident, and optimistic, striving to be better each and every day. Always gaining and always growing and searching for the right opportunity. I’ve failed plenty of times before before and continued to find the right path. Sometimes the alternate and longer road is better for a brighter future (just ask Mark Cuban).
In the end, I’ll get there. I have faith, the intelligence, and the tenacity. And although we have never met, Marc, I believe in you too.
**I came across a gentleman in at NBC in New York with a Syracuse hat. I smiled at him and cheered “Syracusssee!” in a moderate tone. He glared at me, grunted, and walked the other direction. So much for that alumni unity.
Permalink 2 notes
04 2 / 2013
Permalink 2 notes
03 2 / 2013
Permalink 14 notes
02 1 / 2013
Permalink 4 notes
15 12 / 2012
Permalink 1 note
15 12 / 2012
Personal Branding 101
A few months ago, I promised to post an entry on the relationship between fashion PR and social media but in lieu of the launch of my portfolio website and revitalization of my social media, the topic of personal branding seemed appropriate. (Don’t worry, fall/winter fashion week will be here relatively soon. Stay tuned!)
So what exactly IS branding and how does it apply to you?
- “It is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers. Strong brands elicit opinions, emotions, and sometimes physiological responses from customers.” - Jay Ehret, The Marketing Blog
- “In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what they promise.” - Lois Geller, Forbes
- “Branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.” - Laura Lake, About.com
- “It’s the personification of a company. If a company were a person, it’s the personality and habits of that person.” - Ryan Kulp, Under30CEO
Every PR pro understands image is VERY important. In fact, it’s vital and it’s our job to manage it. If the public doesn’t favor or understand your brand, the odds of success are slim. Of course there are those brands “people love to hate” with a strong niche that keeps them going (Sup, Herman Cain!), but more than likely you need to either develop a new marketing strategy or move on.
Step 1: Attire
As a PR specialist, it’s understood this doesn’t only pertain to products and services, but ourselves. This is why when you meet one of us, we’re at our best: sharply dressed, clean face, white teeth, slicked back hair, and a dash of cologne or perfume. We understand the image we portray is how our client perceives us, despite our qualifications.
Think about it - If you’re looking for a representative for your company or consultant, who are you most likely to trust with your brand?:
Step 2: Physical Materials
When I speak with classes, I always conduct a survey of what physical materials students are using to promote themselves. The three things I encourage every young professional to have handy at interviews and networking functions are:
- A Resume
- A hard copy of a portfolio
- Business cards
If people are genuinely interested in your skills, they’ll want to review your experience soon, sometimes immediately, after you make your pitch (We’ll get to pitches later). It’s a matter of putting your best foot forward. Also, having these handy increases your level of professionalism tenfold. Because many students and new graduates don’t always have these items available, particularly business cards, it makes you stand out and shows you’re thoughtful and aware.
P.S. Keep extra business cards in a wallet or business card holder.
Step 3: Managing Your Online Presence
Moving your professional image online is an easy and necessary task, but may prove daunting for those with skeletons laying among forgotten Geocities pages and the dusty cosmos of search engines.
For those of us who matured alongside the Internet, many didn’t take into account how our actions may affect our future in the business (Remember MySpace, anyone?). So how do you move past this and create a credible and immaculate image online?
- Google yourself: Not only web results, but check photos and news. What content emerges? Is it photo of you at that awesome party where you’re near collapse, chugging a can of Miller? Is it someone with the same name who committed seven felonies? Or maybe nothing comes up at all. Note: ALL OF THIS IS BAD!
First tip: Delete. Delete. Delete. Nothing truly leaves the Internet, but if you have access to that old account featuring your questionable activity, do your best making as least visible as possible. Also, to enhance control of SEO, I suggest BrandYourself, developed after the founder discovered stories featuring a criminal with the same name were hurting his job prospects. It’s free and will help raise favorable content higher in search engines.
- Design: Some argue content conquers all and if a site has great content, it’ll find success. And while I agree, I do believe content is only 60 percent of the battle. People visit a website for an experience as well as content, and there are many factors that contribute to this: ease of use, color scheme, layout, aesthetics.
Providing great content is the basic function of a website, but you want your audience to enjoy the experience. I also encourage people to create a website that reflects themselves as design can portray personality (i.e. Bright color scheme: Vivacious personality).
- Producing Content: There are two categories
A. Consistent Content That Isn’t Annoying - This speaks for itself. Regularly manage and update your pages, but don’t overdo it. Don’t neglect your Twitter page and update once a month, but don’t overwhelm followers with updates once every 15 minutes. Different platforms may encourage different timelines (Blogs tend to be updated less frequently), but the same general guidelines still apply.
B. Provide valuable content. When I tweet, I have several goals: One is to provide information relating to my expertise; you’ll see an abundance of information relating to public relations, social media, entrepreneurship, marketing, etc. And unless it’s a news source, I’m not a fan of those who only push information and lack conversation. In my opinion, it’s a form of neglect on this platform and rides against it’s initial intention: social engagement. Every social platform has its own culture, but at the end of the day they all want you to produce content AND engage.
The three basic websites I suggest you begin are: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
And while it’s work, I HIGHLY suggest building your own portfolio website which is made easier by tools such as Wix, Wordpress, and Weebly.
Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to use these resources as well: About.me and Flavors.me.
Step 4: Perfecting Your Pitch
A pitch doesn’t begin when you sell your skills, it begins the minute you initiate conversation.
You’re at a conference and Mike Perlis, President/CEO of Forbes Media is standing in front of you. What do you do? Engage! Ask questions about his position, find common interests, and lead the conversation toward your profession.
I know this strategy is effective because it’s what I did. The result? He put me in contact with Forbes Media HR and I interviewed two weeks later. Granted, it turned out they didn’t have any junior-level PR/marketing positions, but I still appreciate the effort Mr. Perlis put forth. Not many people have that opportunity and despite the result, I still remain thankful to this day.
As you’re speaking and lead into your career, be ready to discuss your experience (which also ties in with Step 2). And if you’re attending an event, always learn who will be present ahead of time. If there’s a particular individual you’re interested in connecting, learn about their company and position beforehand. Investigate current and prior campaigns and initiatives and show passion about your career path and the company. I promise, a little initiative will take you far.
Have any more tips? Tweet me @KWilsonPR
Permalink 8 notes
14 12 / 2012