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Getting Started, Guest Post, Networking,

Guest Post: Networking in the Time of Isolation

Kelli’s Note: Kayla has been a rock star with the informational interviews, not only doing a lot of them, but approaching each very strategically. I asked her to share her advice here.

By Kayla Thomet

Everyone says that the most important thing you can do during this strange and difficult time is network, network, network. That’s all fine and good, but what does it actually mean? How are we supposed to network in a time when we can’t even leave our homes?

For the past month, I’ve been on a complete networking journey – researching tips and tricks, delving into different platforms, and, of course, practicing. I’ve learned there’s a whole network of strangers out there on my team; all I had to do was ask.

Cold-calling is a stressful and nerve-wracking process. I always worried: “am I bothering them?” But what I learned is that people are not bothered at all; in fact, they find joy in helping you. Many successful professionals got their start from networking, from the kindness of a stranger. From over 35 informational interviews, I’ve learned a few best practices along the way.

LinkedIn can be your friend or your foe.

LinkedIn can be one of the most useful tools in searching for a job; however, it can also be intimidating to the first-time user. Take the time to set up your profile and perfect it – make sure to include featured work, a professional headshot, a goal-driven “about” statement, and a detailed description of all work experience.

Use Youtube and other online resources to learn how to use the filter features to refine your search. You must have a quality profile to attract connections and impress potential future employers.

Utilize your alumni network.

There are alumni networks for regions and cities all across the country full of professionals willing to connect and help. Reach out to alumni leaders in the regions you want to move to and ask if they know of anyone in the industry you want to work for.

Additionally, you can use filters on LinkedIn to sort by school; the University of Oregon, in particular, has amazing alum willing to chat with any fellow Duck.

Search for individuals who work in your field or for companies that you want to work for and connect with them.

Identify companies and specific industries you want to work for. Reach out to people working for your dream company; even though you may not start out there, you can learn different paths to get in and put your name on the minds of the people who work there.

While searching, make sure to connect with people in roles you are interested in – you may find that the reality of a position is different than you thought. 

Be sure to customize your invitations to connect.

On LinkedIn, you have the option to customize a message with your invitation to connect. Always customize a message to whoever you are trying to speak to – it shows effort and sets you apart from random requests. Explain who you are, what you hope to learn, and express your desire to learn about the company and its culture.

Follow-up, always.

Be sure to send a follow-up email or message the following day thanking them for speaking with you. I’ve found that it’s helpful to include at least one piece of advice which they gave you that resonated with you. It shows you listened and genuinely took their advice to heart.

Questions to ask once you get the informational interview:(Not a question) but make sure you start with gratitude and humility – you’re here to learn.

  1. Can you share with me a bit about your journey?
  2. How did you figure out what you’re passionate about?
  3. What is one piece of advice you wish you had known at my age?
  4. Do you have any newsletters or blogs you recommend I read?
  5. The golden question: who else do you recommend I talk to?

My name is Kayla Thomet and I’m a graduating senior from the SOJC at the University of Oregon with a major in PR and a minor in business. My greatest passions in life are fine wine, sustainability, and, above all, people. In the future, I hope I can find a career that will allow me to combine my passions to better the world.

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Success ahead sign
Getting Started, Social Media,

Tips for Setting Personal Social Media Goals

Young professionals often struggle with how to adjust their approach to social media from personal/socializing network to something that’s more in line with helping them reach their career and education goals. My advice is to apply the same planning principles to a personal social media presence as you would for an organization. Start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? And then think about what you’re going to do to get there.

Listen & Learn: Any social media strategy should begin with listening and learning. It’s very difficult to jump into blogging or tweeting if you don’t know how they work, how other professionals use these tools and what best practices you can take away for our own participation.

Possible strategy/tool: Subscribe to 10 or 15 blogs in your field of interest through a feedreader (ex: Netvibes or Google Reader) and review them daily.

Build Relationships: Your offline networking at industry events or through student associations can, and should, be extended to online. Having a “building relationships” goal in your personal social media strategy can allow you to focus your efforts both in terms of tools (where do those people you want to connect with spend time?) and content (what are those people talking about?).

Possible strategy/tool: Build a Twitter profile, follow at least 30 people in your industry, share related links and news, retweet and mention industry professionals.

Create Great Content: Content comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not just blog posts or long-ish pieces, but can also be tweets, Facebook updates, video, audio, photography. Focusing on creating great content opens up a great deal of possibility for exploring how various platforms differ in form and function. Every piece of content you create is a potential portfolio piece, after all.

Possible strategy/tool: Establish a blog with an editorial calendar that requires you explore different multimedia formats. Plan on doing a video blog once, or maybe a short podcast with an interview.

Establish Your Reputation: Yes, it is possible to establish your reputation as a young professional, even in a sea of public relations bloggers and twitterers. But your approach to social media needs to be clear (to you) so you can participate with focused intention. This goal may work best if you have some experience in social media and have a sense of what area in PR you’d like to work. It may not be the place to start if you’re just kicking off your social media adventure, but it’s always worth keeping the big picture in mind so you can continue to refine your presence.

Possible strategy/tool: Across your social media profiles, create content and make connections around the topics that you are not only interested in, but have something to contribute. Blog, tweet and post regularly about that content to demonstrate interest and expertise.

Find an Outlet for Self-Expression & Creativity: Social media is fun. It has to be. Why would we all hang out talking about PR all day? I mean, really. Don’t forget to include some “fun” in your social media strategy. Whether it’s music, film, art, photography or fashion, you’ll find niche social networks and social media platforms that allow you to connect with like minds.

Possible strategy/tool: If you’re interested in fashion, join and use Polyvore to create fashion boards, subsequently sharing them on Pinterest and ensuring they’re appropriately tagged and categorized. Connect with like-minded fashionistas on both platforms to share ideas.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible goals for personal social media. What are your ideas?

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Getting Started, Social Media,

My Top 5 Shortcuts: #1 Use a Feedreader

I’m often asked about how to best handle social media maintenance and management tasks. Over four years or so I’ve developed a few shortcuts that work well for me. I’ll explain each in a separate post, but we’ll start with feedreaders!

Yay feedreaders!

Using a feedreader to track blogs I’m interested in along with keyword searches is my number one shortcut. It was thanks to Bloglines, my first feedreader that I really started to understand social media. I subscribed to PR, social media, marketing and advertising blogs left and right. By doing so, I learned best practices and social media etiquette through observation.

My use has changed a little bit, which I’ll explain. First, though, take a peek at this video from Common Craft, it’ll give you the basics (click on the image).

Common Craft recommends Google Reader, which is very popular. The aesthetics of Google Reader just don’t work for me – nothing personal, Google. I use Netvibes. I like the “dashboard” feel to it and I can separate different clients, interests, projects into their own tab.

You can see how this looks at the public Netvibes dashboard I set up. Feel free to use this as a start for your own. Once you create an account with Netvibes, any changes you make will be saved.

What’s in my feedreader:

  • Six or so tabs related to PR, social media, marketing, nonprofit work, advertising, etc. Each has its own tab and each tab has 10 – 20 different blog feeds. I’ve found the best blogs (for me) that I want to subscribe to.
  • A tab for each client for which I do listening and monitoring activities. For clients I subscribe to interesting blogs and also subscribe to search results. This is really how my use has changed. I use my feedreader more for managing and maintaining client social media than for my own purposes. (I’d say it’s a 60-40 split in terms of how much time I spend… 60% on client stuff and 40% on my own).

Subscribe to search results? Why yes! I do keyword searches with (at minimum): Google, SocialMention, IceRocket, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. When you do the search on any of those sites, you can subscribe to the results. Look for the RSS icon on the page or in your address bar on your browser.

It takes some time up front to set up a useful dashboard. Once it’s set up, not only do you know if you or your client is mentioned on a blog or a tweet, but you also have all kinds of “input” at your fingertips for creating great content. I rely on my feedreader for inspiration for tweets and for blog posts. By spending the time upfront to make a useful dashboard, the day-to-day or week-to-week maintenance is lessened.

You can do some pretty cool things with RSS (as a subscriber). Some tips:

  • You can subscribe to specific categories on most blogs. Maybe you’re not interested in everything everyone says on a frequently-updated site, but are interested in a specific topic or category. You can pull just those posts.
  • A site called PostRank will let you subscribe to just the most popular posts. I’ve done this with sites like Jezebel or Perez Hilton because there are just too many posts to keep up with everyday. Yes… I have subscribed to Perez Hilton. Don’t judge.
  • Tools like Yahoo! Pipes let you dump a bunch of sites in one end, along with some keywords and out the other end? A custom RSS feed. I think this could be a sweet tool for media monitoring (put in New York Times, USA Today, etc. etc…. filter for your company name and voila!), but I haven’t tried it out yet. Yahoo! Pipes is a bit “techy,” so beware.
  • Create an RSS feed where none exists. This is a little more complicated, but it’s possible! This post overviews a few of the tools that can help. The post is a tad dated, so I’m not sure all the tools listed still exist, but I’ve tried a few with varying degrees of success. This is also on the techy side.

Final tip: Making checking your feedreader part of your daily routine. Set the feedreader as your homepage, add it as a shortcut on your browser, or leave yourself a reminder (physical or electronic) to take a peek.

Any other tips? I’d love to hear how you’re using feedreaders. Which reader are you using and why?

[this post is cross-posted at Verve: In Bloom]

Getting Started, Professional Advice,

Using LinkedIn: A Primer for Undergrads

Connecting with people in your industry is as easy as creating a LinkedIn profile and using it as a live resume. Treat LinkedIn as the “suit & tie” social network and put forward your most professional self. Your profile should be kept up-to-date and polished regularly.

A LinkedIn profile, as you’ll see, is a great way to build your network & a place to send prospective employers to get info about you and your experience.

So how do you get started?

First step is to sign up & complete your profile:

  • Use your complete name
  • Fill in your title (Public Relations student at the University of Oregon is ok… but what about Intern at XYZ Company or Account Executive at Student PR Firm?). You can have more than one title & then choose the one you want as your headline. My profile includes significant volunteer experience in my title alongside my business titles. Your primary title is what people see first, so be smart about what you include.
  • Create a summary of your experience, aspirations and inspirations. Keep it relatively short and edit like a madman/woman. This is your first impression and the info that people see before they’ll see your specific work experience details.
  • Include the last three positions you’ve held. Internships, volunteer positions and student organizations are all okay and show your breadth of experience.
  • If you have a blog, add it.
  • Claim your custom URL/public profile link. Then use it! Include it in an email signature line, on a business card, etc. Mine is:

When you think you’re done, walk away and come back later. Try to look at it with fresh eyes – they eyes of a potential employer. Does this profile say, “wow! I need to hire this person!”

The second piece is to make connections:

  • Start by letting LinkedIn scan through your email address book and find people who are also on LinkedIn. People who are on LinkedIn will have the little “in” blue box next to their name. You’d be surprised how many people you find. I always am! Don’t just add everyone, but go through each contact and be smart about who you add (especially at first).
  • Want to connect with particular people or particular types of people? You have two options. Look at the connections of those in your network and ask for an introduction (more on that in a minute) and also do a search for people by location, employer, job description and more.
  • When you add connections, be sure to include a personal note. The standard LinkedIn templates are boring and well, standard. This is particularly important if you are asking someone you don’t know to be part of your network. Tell them why you’re knocking on the door.

A word about introductions: Asking for an introduction is a great way to meet people and build your connections. When you do, though, be extra conscientious of the message you ask your contact to forward. For example, I should feel comfortable forwarding what you write to me with a note that says, “this person is worth your time.” As a general rule of thumb, treat that message as a mini cover letter.

Now, my LinkedIn contacts are comprised of people I know in real life and those I know via social networks, but they are all people to whom I could forward a message and make an introduction. It’s important to note that everyone cultivates their networks in different ways, however. It’s always good to ask first if someone is comfortable with this process generally and making an introduction to a specific person.

This should get you started, but here are some other LinkedIn tips worth a read:

Thanks also to @jmartens, @mihaela_v, @ValerieSimon & @mhonald for their tips, too. In an upcoming post I will talk about how to join and participate in groups. There are several for PR students that are worth checking out.

If you’ve already started with LinkedIn, what tips would you share or what questions do you have?

Getting Started, Social Media,

What am I Reading?

I recently switched from Bloglines to Netvibes for my feed reader. Netvibes is just more visual and also makes it easy to access recent posts. One of the other cool features is that I can share my subscriptions with you pretty easily.

I’ve set up a public page with three tabs from my personal feed reader. There are two for public relations (one tab for professionals and one tab for educators) and one social media. You can check it out here. Please feel free to use it to start your own reading habit.

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Getting Started, Guest Post,

Guest Post: Creating the Job You Want

This is a guest post from UofO alum, Sarah Essary. You can follow her at @ConsumingPR.

I like to think of job descriptions as simple suggestions. Coloring outside the lines is perfectly acceptable in the workplace, but only if your art becomes a masterpiece.

Not too long ago, I was hired as a Reservationist at The Citizen Hotel. My job duties included answering the phones, filling reservations, assigning room numbers and routing payments. After a few weeks, I offered to develop the hotel blog and Twitter account. Soon, I proved to be knowledgeable in public relations and took on more responsibilities. Before I knew it, I was launching a social media campaign and taking a dual position as Public Relations Coordinator.

Currently, I am the Reservationist and Public Relations Coordinator for both The Citizen Hotel and Grange Restaurant & Bar. My duties include updating and writing all social media content, handling media inquiries, working with our public relations agency, editing all press materials, coordinating local media outreach, media monitoring and brand awareness, as well as writing and distributing the restaurant newsletter.

Practicing public relations during a dodge ball game is the best way to describe my typical day. It is imperative that I stay on top of all public relations activities while answering the phones at first ring. I may fill 10 reservations while at the same time edit an entire public relations plan.

This dual role is the best way for me to understand the market first hand. I’m in the trenches and the lookout tower all at the same time! It’s fulfilling when customers choose to stay at our hotel after noticing our Web site, news coverage, blog posts or even our Twitter!

As a Reservationist and Public Relations Coordinator, I am able to pitch and position my business with a first-hand understanding of the current market. There is nothing like disseminating a message to media and observing the impact on the target audience. It’s a blessing to have both worlds at my fingertips.

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Getting Started,

J-School’s Portland Center Hiring Instructor

School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon

George S. Turnbull Portland Center

The Position

The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication seeks an instructor for its George S. Turnbull Portland Center for the 2009/2010

The "Made in Oregon" sign located at...Image via Wikipedia

academic year. This is a full-time, nine-month, renewable appointment, based in Portland, beginning on September 16, 2009. A part-time summer appointment is attached to the position, beginning on August 1, 2009.

The instructor will arrange internships and supervise students in the Portland Senior Experience program, and teach undergraduate courses in public relations and graduate courses in our strategic communication professional master’s program. The successful candidate will have a graduate degree, a professional background in communication, and university teaching experience. Familiarity and connections with the Portland media market are preferred.

The School of Journalism and Communication

The School offers doctoral and master’s programs in communication and society as well as professional master’s programs in news/editorial, magazine, strategic communication and literary nonfiction. The undergraduate program serves more than 1,400 majors and pre-majors in four majors: advertising, communication studies, journalism and public relations and approximately 80 graduate students in master’s and doctoral programs. Accredited by ACEJMC, the School is nationally known for its commitment to teaching excellence. In 2006, the School opened the George S. Turnbull Center in Portland, where it offers undergraduate and graduate classes, workshops and seminars for students and for the professional community. More information is available through our web site at:

The University of Oregon Portland

The University of Oregon’s Portland programs include journalism and communication, architecture, digital arts, product design, law, business, and continuing education. They are

UO White Stag: First Ave.Image by andrewb823 via Flickr

housed in the White Stag Block, a refurbished, 103,000-square-foot facility, in the city’s Old Town Chinatown district, which is LEED Gold certified and has been honored for both sustainability and historic preservation. The Portland metro area is noted for its high quality of life, vibrant cultural environment, and access to outdoor activities, including the scenic Oregon Coast and the Cascade Mountains.

To ensure full consideration, applications must be received by April 24, 2009. The search will remain open until position is filled. Please send a letter of interest and qualifications, resume, and contact information for three references to:

Alan G. Stavitsky
Senior Associate Dean and Professor
Director, George S. Turnbull Portland Center
University of Oregon Portland
70 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR 97209

The University of Oregon is committed to creating a more inclusive and diverse institution and seeks candidates with demonstrated potential to contribute positively to its diverse community. We are an equal-opportunity, affirmative-action institution committed to cultural diversity and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Getting Started, Professional Advice,

Building a Strong Mentor-Mentee Relationship

My mentor has been an important part of my professional life and, over the years, a trusted friend, confidante and adviser in many aspects of my life. She’s given me opportunities to earn experience in areas of public relations that I might not otherwise have had and is always ready with advice if I ask. If I don’t need advice, she’ll just listen.

We met when I volunteered for a nonprofit organization as an undergrad where she was serving as the communications director. We had a chance to work together on maybe a project or two before she left. I continued to volunteer for the organization and frequently asked my mentor for her advice on projects.

It wasn’t long before she asked me to help her with a client project – doing some basic media relations work. That was 8 years ago.

I am not exaggerating when I say that my career would not be where it is without her guidance and advice (and trust!). I’m a better person and a better PR professional because she’s in my life.

I think I’m pretty lucky. But how did I build this relationship and how can you seek out and develop one that works for you? I also asked my twitter network. I’ve noted their advice with a twitter ID after each point.

Being a mentee.

Being a “good” mentee has to be a part of figuring out a mentoring relationship. From the very beginning, think about this relationship as two-way. As a mentee, you have responsibilities:

  • Know yourself. Know what you’re looking for in a mentor and can identify the qualities that you want to grow in your own life. Think about your values and priorities. For example, for me a mentor without the same family-focus that I have would’ve been a problem. I need someone who understands, and encourages, work-life balance (mostly because I can forget the “life” part). (@AmandaJones)
  • Talk about your goals. Being clear about your goals and aspirations will help your mentor be clear about what you expect. (@sarahannelilly)
  • Do outstanding work and be enthusiastic. It’s rewarding to mentor someone who is learning and growing and doing work that you can both be proud of. If you’re seeking career guidance, show that you’re actively working toward those goals and making progress. (@krhodey)
  • Listen. Listen to what your mentor has to say. Only you can make the right decision for you, but good advice is valuable. Showing that you’re listening can strengthen the relationship and encourage your mentor to continue sharing his or her insights and experience. (@RichBecker & @aplambeck)
  • Reciprocate. Everyone has something to offer. Figure out how you can give back to the relationship.

Finding a mentor.

  • Set some goals. Be clear to yourself about what you’re looking for in a mentor relationship. A mentor can be helpful in many ways, and often more than one mentor is necessary and appropriate.
  • Consider logistics. Do you need a mentor who works at your company? or would you like (or need) someone from outside the organization?
  • Be proactive. Just ask! I was flattered to be asked to be a mentor recently. It really only took an email and I was on board. I also recognized that she and I would be a good fit and so it was easy to say yes. (@ntindall)
  • Ask for referrals. Ask friends, your peers or family to help identify a good mentor. You may be able to extend the possibilities far beyond your own personal network.

Being a mentor

As I mentioned early on, the mentor-mentee relationship must be two-way. The mentor also has some responsibilities besides just sharing what s/he knows. Two important “duties” stand out to me. My mentors have excelled in these areas, and that has truly benefited our relationship.

Listen. Listen to what your mentee says and needs to meet his or her goals. Clearly s/he respects you and your work, but everyone has a different life path. So your path might not be the right path. (@RichBecker)

Be genuinely interested. It is flattering when you’re asked to be a mentor, but it must be more than an ego boost for you. You need to be genuinely interested in your mentee’s life and career and eager to help meet the goals he or she has set.

Setting expectations.

Women for Hire has a great list of questions to consider at the outset of mentor relationship. I don’t know that something this formal will work for everyone, but it’s worth considering these questions and determining if the answers are important to creating a functional relationship. A few of the questions worth considering:

  • How often will you meet? Before you approach your mentor, have a good idea of how much time you’d like from her. Do you need to meet once a month or once every other month?
  • Under what circumstances will you meet? Coffee shop, home, office? Morning, lunch, evening, weekends?
  • How you will stay in touch? By phone or email? Ask what is easiest for her and be willing to accommodate that.
  • Confidentiality. This is a must on both sides, especially if you work for the same company or know many of the same people professionally. You’re likely to discuss work situations and professional relationships in the course of your work together, and you must agree to keep all information just between you.
  • Honesty. If you can’t exchange ideas freely there’s no use in getting started

So what are you waiting for? Just ask! It won’t cost you more than some time and a cup of coffee and the rewards can be tremendous.

If you have (or are) a mentor, I’d love to hear your tips and stories! Please share in the comments.

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Getting Started, Uncategorized,

Waggener Edstrom Staffing Launches Facebook Page

Amybeth Hale (aka Research Goddess) announced this week the launch of the Waggener Edstrom Staffing Facebook page. From Amybeth:

I am happy to announce that the Waggener Edstrom Staffing Facebook page, Careers with Waggener Edstrom, is live! If you are a Facebook member, I would encourage you to add this page to your Favorites, become a Fan, and/or share the link with your Facebook PR contacts – check it out!

Some of the items featured on the page include:

  • A photo album introducing the members of the Staffing Team
  • A listing of upcoming events at which various staffing team members will be in attendance (viewable once you log in)
  • Our WE Connect blog RSS feed, showcasing several of our Waggener Edstrom bloggers
  • Notes listing some of our current agency openings
  • A list of our agency awards
  • Several quotes from our candidates complimenting our Staffing team
  • …and more to come.

We have lots of duckies at WaggEd in the Northwest. Check out this Facebook page and get in the know.

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