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New Blog Name: They Call Me Social K

3 Jan
A lot has changed for me over the last year — professionally and personally. I’m living in my favorite city, working for one of my favorite brands and meeting someone great everyday. My former title of this blog — The PR Nerd — no longer

 represented me anymore so I decided to change it to ‘They Call Me Social K.’
I’ll still be posting my nerdy social media, marketing and PR-focused posts but I’ll also be giving you guys a look into my personal life. 2012 should be a great year and I’m looking forward to investing more time into my blog.

HOW TO: Turn Twitter Relationships Into Real Relationships

12 Jun

In the marketing/PR field, real relationships (not pointless “connections”) are a high priority for those who aspire to go far in the industry. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been obsessed with meeting new people and listening to their life’s story. Naturally, this has helped me to meet amazing people in my industry.

Meet In Person

Kanye West and Jay-Z chatting over drinks

It’s easy to email back-and-forth with someone but what’s more memorable … an email conversation or a Happy Hour conversation? I’ve tried to build relationships with Tweeps via email, especially with those who have active schedules. Those have not worked in my favor, plus I digg face-to-face interaction. A few weeks ago, I came across Weber Shandwick professional, Ronn Richardson on Twitter. After tweeting with him a few times, I asked him to meet me for drinks. We met, conversed for hours and discovered we had a lot in common. Now, I talk to him like every day, attend various industry events with him and he will be redesigning my blog. What if I didn’t ask him out for drinks and just tried to “connect” via email?

Don’t Be Afraid To Outreach

Justin Bieber With His Mentor, Usher

Whenever I find someone on Twitter who I think is cool, I make sure to meet them in person. This isn’t always an easy task because I tend to digg a lot of people who others digg as well. Due to this, I have to be innovative (in a sense) to get them to pay attention to what I’m saying. While trying to convince them to pay me attention, the first thing I think of is: how can I help this person. Before asking someone to meet in person, it’s important you know that they know how you can help them. Being a junior-level employee, this has not been a hard task because a lot of the senior folks I outreach to love giving back. Chatting with a junior-level guy and sharing tips/giving advice helps senior folks (who do not have a lot of time) pay it forward.

Twitter is a great place to meet wonderful people, especially if you work in marketing/PR. So many great professionals from our industry maintain an active presence on Twitter. Until the day I get bored with the tool, it will always be one of my main sources of meeting amazing professionals in my industry.

Have you had any experiences with turning Twitter relationships into real relationships? Do you think a Twitter relationship, by itself, is a “real” relationship?

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.

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

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?

This Is Why I Want To Earn My Agency Stripes

10 Jan

The Cast of Mad Men -- talk about earning agency stripes

The marketing/public relations field isn’t the easiest to understand when you’re on the outside looking in. As communicators, it is our job to properly educate those who don’t understand our area of expertise as well as we do – team accounting, team law, team advertising, team C-suite and everyone else. Of course, we’re all working together to generate revenue for one company, but sometimes everyone gets caught up in their department teams. This situation is usually something you see in every environment but agency.

As you all know, I am a proud junior staffer at an agency but … I did not start off in agency. My most memorable college internship was working for the mayor of Charlotte, on his political campaign team.

I served as his press assistant and worked under the press secretary, communications director and campaign manager as the press assistant. While working on the campaign, I saw some things that convinced me to take an agency route right out of college. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the structure of political campaigns, it’s basically a variety of people who have different professional backgrounds coming together to help a candidate get elected.

As a PR/marketing student, the “what’s the value in this program” and “why is this more important than this” questions were extremely challenging to answer. Was there an answer to those questions? … Yes. Could I present a valid case … No. Being the young and confident student I was, I thought I had all of the answers but I didn’t. There was something about questions regarding PR measurement that was always confusing.

This is why I decided agency would be best for me right after college. The majority of agency junior staffer positions are designed to help you grow in this area. In the agency setting, you’re surrounded by PR/marketing people and you don’t have to worry about the “what’s the value in this program” or “why is this more important than this” questions because someone else will be responsible for answering it. Well, not exactly … but you get my point, right? This is the perfect time for you to sit back, observe and learn.

If someone asked those questions today, I could shoot out an answer without any hesitation and I honestly think it’s because of my agency experience.

Have you ever been in a similar situation?

Let Kanye Be Kanye

17 Nov

Today’s post is part II of a two-part series. Yesterday, I shared my opinion on this situation and today, PR professional Brandon Vaughan is sharing a guest post with his opinion (which is slightly different than mine).

I would first like to say that this post is not a rebuttal to Kion’s. I, too am a big fan of Kanye (or “Yeezy” as most fans call him) and I was also taken aback after seeing his interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show. However, I can’t say that I was very surprised by his reactions during the interview. This isn’t the first time that he has ill-expressed himself in front of millions, and I think it’s easy for many to say Kanye will be Kanye. That said, a controversial response from Kanye is not something new, but specifically this time, rather than being disgusted at his actions, I empathized with him.

Empathy and sympathy are two similar, but fundamentally different things (during the interview Kanye also mentioned that he ‘empathized’ with George Bush), and to truly empathize is to show compassion for. I find compassion in the emotional verity of Kanye’s response.This is not the first time we have seen Kanye react so emotionally, in fact his facial expressions and obvious emotional discontent are very similar to those seen in his original, infamous ‘Hurricane Katrina Response’.

“Now all I need is y'all to pronounce my name / It's Kanye - But some of my plaques - they still sayKayne”

As PR professionals, it is our job to make sure our clients represent themselves in the most positive (or appropriate) manner, however it is also our job to make sure that their representation is indicative of their reality.  Based on what we can glean from reported information, I think that Susie Arons from Rubenstein Communications did everything she was supposed to do as a professional PR practitioner. As hired counsel, she successfully recommended to Kanye that he cancel his interview (perhaps because she felt that he was unprepared), and there was probably not much that she could do when he decided to change his mind hours later.

As a client, Kanye was well within his right to abstain from Ms. Aron’s advice, but  I think that proper and complete media training would have helped him to express his thoughts more effectively. Pain and frustration are seldom simple to express. The purpose behind media training isn’t to ‘coach answers’, rather it exists to give clients the skills they need to express themselves clearly and concisely.  Beyond the controversy of the statements themselves, I think Kanye came to the Today Show with a lot of things that he wanted to say, but he came without the tools that he needed. I do think Lauer’s purpose was to elicit a reaction, and subsequent apology from Kanye for his past reactions, but I also don’t think that Kanye was ready, or willing to give him those.

“Yeezy taught me.”

Fans of George Bush or Taylor Swift might not like Kanye very much based on his comments, but frankly, they probably didn’t like him much before his outbursts. In the days since his Today Show appearance, Kanye’s friends like JayZ, Selita Ebanks, Common and even Hip-Hop guru Russell Simmons have expressed their support for Kanye, with Simmons saying in “An Open Letter to Kanye West, “there is no need to apologize, Kanye. You spoke from your heart and that is all we will ever ask from you.”

He’s outlandish. He’s uncontrollable. He’s an interviewer’s nightmare, and yet, through his perfect imperfections, he remains truthful to himself.

I am not excusing any of Kanye’s actions, rather I’m saying : Let Kanye be Kanye.

Do you think Kanye should give media training another go?

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