Pursuing Your Dreams And Not Settling For Less

23 May

The last day of summer was always the hardest day for me because I knew I would have to leave the place I always wanted to live: NYC. Visiting family in Brooklyn as a child sparked a passion in me for the “NYC-Lifestyle.” The passion grew with me and all through college I told myself I was going to graduate, move to NYC and work in marketing.

A few months before graduation, I noticed my plans changing because I feared not being able to survive in NYC. Why? Because the cost of living is pretty intense and the workforce is beyond competitive. A lot of this persuasion was the result of me listening to others.

Times Square

I still desired to live in a large city so I accepted a post-grad internship in Chicago at a well-respected agency, where I worked on a few teams for nationally-known consumer brands. I gained a valuable experience but towards the end of my internship, I discovered I was not going to receive an offer because there wasn’t anything available on my account teams. A normal person would have accepted this and moved on. Not me … I panicked because I feared embarrassment because I was a former national officer in a prestigious organization and had members expecting me to be one of the ones who “makes it.” I folded to the pressure (that I was placing on myself) and accepted an offer at an agency I didn’t want to work for, in a city I didn’t want to live in, telling myself “I can make this work.”

Some of my initial concerns with the agency proved to be true: the company culture was not one I could thrive in and the management style of the woman leading me conflicted with my working style. The working relationship with the manager got so bad I looked forward to sick days. I was in a situation where I felt trapped by the professional constraint of staying with a company for at least one year.

After receiving advice from two of my good friends — Jasmine Brooks and Evan Roberts — and being motivated by my grandmother’s sickness, I quit the job, packed my things and moved to NYC. I told myself I wanted an NYC story (moving to a large city with a little bit of money, chasing a dream).

Automatically, I outreached to some of my Twitter friends and told them I was looking to transition to New York. Without hesitation, they helped me to set-up interviews. Thanks to Andrew Worob, Justin Goldsborough, Tiffany Winbush, Pegah Rashti, Mark Ragan and Valerie Simon. With the help of these friends (and a few others), I interviewed more than 15 times at agencies and corporations and received a few offers. The only problem was that I realized I did not want to walk back in the same situation I left. I also discovered that I wanted to focus more on social media marketing, instead of traditional public relations.

Sadly, my grandmother (who was my best friend), lost her battle and passed away. An hour after I received the sad news about my grandmother, a certain television network called me to set up an interview. A few weeks before, I applied for a job that I thought was not possible to land, social media coordinator at MTV. While applying, I shot a friend who worked for the company a note, asking for a recommendation. She put in a good word and that combined with my experience led me to the interview.

Only after a few minutes in the interview with the hiring manager, I knew this was the job for me because he was extremely charismatic, passionate about his craft and team and had a vision! They felt I was the best person for the job and hired me to be social media coordinator, a position that requires me to use all of my marketing and PR skills to help our amazing brand remain social.

It’s still surreal to me that I am living in the city I always wanted to be in and working (in Times Square) for a brand I always loved. If I didn’t step out on faith, have friends and loved ones who believed in me and believed in myself, I would not be where I am today. I encourage all of you who have dreams and goals you’ve been pushing off, to stop pushing them off. Pursue your dreams and don’t settle for less.

Entertainment PR Chat (#entprchat) is Back by Popular Demand

13 Apr
Lights, Camera, Action … Entertainment PR Chat – a monthly Twitter chat – will be re-launching on April 20th from 8 – 9 p.m. EST. This chat will be a monthly discussion moderated by Pegah Rashti (@pegahrashti) and myself

Entertainment PR Chat

(@kionsanders). Our goal: to build a community for professionals working in the entertainment industry. We will come together once a month to discuss issues, trends, social media and current events in entertainment & fashion marketing and PR.

Will you be joining us? If you have any questions, tweet us @entprchat or email us at entprchat@gmail.com

Should The Bronx Zoo Hire @BronxZoosCobra?

6 Apr

Seeing how I have a phobia of snakes, I never would have imagined writing a blog post about one of the deadliest snakes on the planet, but @BronxZoosCobra is a new celebrity in the digital world.

She's A Celebrity

Almost two weeks ago, The Bronx Zoo reported their Egyptian Cobra went missing and they would be shutting down the reptile house until the snake was captured. Even though the zoo made a strong argument for believing the cobra was somewhere in the reptile house, the possibility of them being wrong (and there being a snake on the loose) was newsworthy to social network users and media.

Shortly after a few major media outlets reported the news on this deadly creature being missing, a parody Twitter account – a Twitter account that makes fun of a situation – was created for the Egyptian Cobra. Unlike most parody Twitter accounts, @BronxZoosCobra did not take personal attacks at The Bronx Zoo. Instead, the manager focused the conversation on the snake’s various trips around New York City. Of course, the snake wasn’t really visiting all of these places but the creative individual behind the parody account saw an opportunity to bring a popular character to life and gave it a voice.

The creative content paired with a substantial amount of publicity led @BronxZoosCobra to more than 230,000 followers in less than two weeks – amazing, right?

Last Thursday, The Bronx Zoo reported the capture of the missing cobra and as they expected: she was in the reptile house. Since the actual cobra has been captured, some people do not think the parody account is as relevant any more, especially mainstream media.

If you were the head of marketing/communications at The Bronx Zoo, would you see value in the parody account? Let’s recap this really quick … The Bronx Zoo started tweeting in 2009 and have a little more than 11,000 followers and the @BronxZoosCobra account was created almost two weeks ago and already has more than 230,000 followers.

Hmmm …

The PR Nerd Is In Transition

28 Mar

According to Adnan Muhaj, “Everyone has dreams, but only a few actually make them come true.” Well, I refuse to be someone who doesn’t turn all of his dreams into realities. As of February, I’ve been living in

NYC

NYC. Why? Plenty of reasons but most importantly, I am shooting for the stars. Ever since I was a kid, I loved visiting all of my family in NYC. When I would come up for the summer, I never wanted to leave.

With moving to a new city comes moving to a new pad and a new job. I have the pad but no new job as of yet … yikes! I’ve been interviewing all over but have not found the right fit. While I’m on this journey, I won’t be blogging as often but I will be ideating on where I want to take “The PR Nerd.”

I have some cool things planned for the future and look forward to bringing you all on this journey.

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” — Jay-Z

Celebrity Brand Ambassadors … Maybe?

10 Feb

A brand that’s trying to create awareness + a celebrity who has a decent following = a ton of revenue and publicity, right? … Not!

For as long as I can remember, PR and marketing professionals have been working with celebrities for various awareness/publicity campaigns. Some of the partnerships are amazing and others are … less than amazing. In order to have a great partnership, professionals have to follow a certain formula:

Research (finding out who your target audience is and completing an audit on the celebrity) + Planning (creating goals, strategics and tactics) + Execution (tactfully acting on all things planned) + Measurement (seeing if you met your goals and saw ROI) = a great campaign.

A celebrity’s likability and beliefs should also be determining factors for marketing and PR heads. Some of my favorite celebrity-brand matches are: Diddy and Ciroc, Scott Disick and Astor & Black and Beyonce and L’Oreal.

A few days ago, I posed the question “How do you feel about celebrities as brand ambassadors? Will this tactic always be common or will it fade?” to my Twitter followers. Below are a few of their responses:

 

Jenni Lewis

Gail Siderman

What are some of your favorite brand-celebrity matches? Do you foresee this always being a common tactic or will it fade?

Operation: PR Student (#OPRS)

4 Feb

Do you remember the beginning of your last semester of college? You were probably involved in more than three organizations, interning, on a national board and trying to find a job, right? Or … is that my story? Regardless, I think you get my point. The PR profession has some amazing students aspiring to

Operation: PR Student #OPRS

be just like us. However, it is a lot harder to get into this industry than it looks. For a lot of vacant positions, it is extremely important that students know someone on the inside to pass along their resume.

The thought of a passionate and capable student having to settle for less than their dream is unacceptable. This is why I have decided to encourage every PR professional to find one student and help them land their first post-graduation gig! I’ve found my student and we are working hard to get her in with an NYC-based agency.

How does it work?

  • Find a student who has realistic job-placement goals and help them accomplish them. Before taking on a student, I suggest you make sure you have a perfect match. For instance, if your student wants to work in political communications and you don’t have any connections in that industry, it probably isn’t a good match.
  • Help the student to improve their resume and cover letter.
  • When they land the interview, offer to host a mock interview with them.
  • Blog about it! Put it on Facebook! Tweet about it! I want other professionals and students to share their experience with this process so it becomes something we do every year.

Pretty simple, right?

Imagine how you can make a difference in a student’s life by taking the initiative to help them accomplish what someone helped you to accomplish.

Will you step up to the plate and help a student out?

3 Things Communicators Can Learn From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

17 Jan

As someone who is extremely passionate about leadership, I have always been a huge fan of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK). When I think of a leadership style I plan to mirror in the near future, it is of one similar to MLK’s charismatic style. Sit back and think about all

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

of the managers you’ve worked with in the past. Was there one who was naturally full of energy and positive reinforcement that you loved being around and jumped to assist whenever they needed something? If so, it’s probably because you fell in love with that manager’s charismatic leadership style. MLK humbly accepted the offer to lead a movement that put him, his family and his followers’ lives at risk on a daily basis. I could spend all day bragging on MLK because I officially drunk the kool-aid but in his honor, I want to share some things communicators can learn from him:

A Well-Researched and Properly Structured Campaign Can Change Perceptions

In this industry, it is often our job to change the way people perceive brands. This is a very challenging job if people have been “stuck in their ways” for a long period of time. Sadly, this was the campaign MLK and his team had to run in order to fight for human rights. He and his team researched what was being done in the past, the most effective channels of communication and the backgrounds of potential spokespeople to be the face of the campaign. Through his research, he discovered violence would not do anything but intensify the problems in the community. Rallies and marches proved to be very effective channels of communication because of all the media coverage they attracted and college students, political figures and community leaders were proved to be excellent spokespeople. The results? … just look around the next time you sit down in Starbucks.

Fight Passionately For What You Believe In

Everything from advocacy campaigns to pushing back at work is common things practitioners fight for on a regular basis. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As a result of fighting passionately, MLK lost his life but he did not lose it in vain. If this great leader was still alive, he would be very proud of our country.

Humility Is a Key Characteristic to Become a Successful Practitioner

A public relations practitioner’s job is what I like to call a “behind-the-scenes position.” The majority of things we do consist of making someone else look great. In their campaign speeches, they’re not going to conclude with “thanks to the PR team for writing this piece” and the front cover of The NY Times will not read “pitched by Agency X.” If you know MLK’s story, you know he did not want to be the face of the movement but felt it was his place to serve his people. During the Civil Rights Movement, MLK walked in the rallies his team organized, sacrificed plenty of financial earnings and missed out on many days of his children’s lives. If this doesn’t paint a picture of humility, I am not sure what does.

Dr. King


What are some other ways we as communicators can learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

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