To Tweet or Not to Tweet – That’s Not The Only Question

Tips from the Top on Engaging Potential Employers Online

In this digital age of job hunting, it takes more than a tweet or Facebook post to be ‘social media savvy’. Through my experience as an intern for MSR Communications, I’ve quickly learned how social networking is changing traditional methods of job hunting in the PR industry.

For all the young and aspiring professionals out there, this couldn’t be better news. But there’s more to it than that—if you want to be noticed in the current economy, you need to stand out and start engaging online now. No, this does not include professional Facebook Stalking or Twitter Spamming. With all the job and internship postings that appear online on a daily basis, these insider tips will assist you in cultivating and building your online presence.

1. Chances are that the important decision makers at the companies you are interested in applying to are active on social media. Find, follow and interact with them.

Once you start observing what your target companies have to stay, begin thoughtfully engaging with them. MSR’s intern supervisor, Joanna Riedl, observes that “in the PR industry, if people are talking about our client’s brands online, we want to know. The same goes for our own brand.”

If you think retweeting or commenting on industry news won’t build your profile or goes unnoticed, think again.

“We keep an eye on the conversation happening around us on Twitter by monitoring retweets and mentions,” Riedl notes. “When someone is genuinely passionate about what we do and wants to interact with us on a social media platform, they stand out. If someone is reaching out in a thoughtful, engaging way on a platform such as Twitter, we definitely take notice.”

2. Be passionate AND knowledgeable about what you put online. Passion will take you far, but doing your homework and knowing what a company is all about will take you even further.

These days there is much fiercer competition for a smaller number of jobs. Added to that, senior-level candidates are also applying for entry level positions. Being able to engage key targets, such as a potential employer, through online channels is an important asset that will help you stand out.

Joanna Riedl agrees: “By demonstrating your social media talent to those who are responsible for the hiring decision, you are setting yourself apart from the flatness of your resume in their email inbox…I would recommend that if you are going to be contacting an employer through Facebook or Twitter, make sure the picture you paint of yourself is favorable. Pepper your professional profile with just enough personality to stand out. In public relations, it is ideal to mix both without offending your professional OR personal contacts.”

3. Be consistent in posting. Your online presence will only be as good as the effort you put into it.

“Whenever an intern position opens we receive tons of resumes,” Riedl points out. “We get intern hopefuls who can talk the social media talk in an interview, but can they walk the walk?”

Obviously, one comment or retweet won’t take you very far. Real success stems from consistency and dedication to engagement. Find the targets that interest you and build a foundation on which the relationship may flourish. Putting in the hard work will showcase to employers valuable workforce skills.

So instead of lodging your resume out there the next time you’re looking for a job or internship, career contenders would be better suited to learn more about the ins and outs of social networking. The career opportunities are already there – the real question is, do you have what it takes to “walk the walk?”

-Tiffany Harrison, MSR Communications

Is being a good writer a necessary skill for PR pros today? Was it ever?

I’ve worked with plenty of solid dot-your-i and cross-your-t types who didn’t even know where to put the i’s and t’s in IT. They couldn’t spell paradigms, but there they were shifting them.

Who has time to read proper English on a BlackBerry anyway? You lost me at hello.

You don’t even need to do your research in this business anymore. Credit the wrong university for famous alums who actually graduated elsewhere, and you’ll land coverage in every major news outlet in the country.

Besides, it’s all viral video these days. It’s probably more important to know how to shoot in HD than write in AP.

A blogger friend of mine said bad writers are sometimes more efficient writers. “People who don’t know how to write don’t spend a lot of time doing what they hate to do in the first place,” he said. “Good writers, on the other hand, may be more keen on describing the point than getting to it.”

I know PR pros who aren’t so great with the page but are incredibly convincing forces in person or on the social networking side. Their genuine passion and creativity turns them into that which TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis says many more of us PR folk need to be: namely, interesting.

And when was the last time you read a press release that was interesting? This is a real-time, 140 character society now. If you can’t fit your news into a tweet when it matters most, chances are it’s too much, too late.

It’s probably better not to write at all lest you find yourself on the Bad Pitch Blog. Phoning it in is safer, though I guess Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin paid dearly for assuming the same.

Okay, so maybe you need good writers in PR. You just don’t have to be a good writer to be in PR. (Of course, none of these bad writers work with me.)

Disclaimer: Any punctuation and grammatical mistakes contained in this piece will not keep you from retweeting it.