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


What Jim Carrey Teaches Us about Social Media in PR

Of all the movies I’ve seen in the past year, I have to say that one of my favorite was Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man.” Like most good comedies, the film manages to create ridiculous, hilarious situations that nonetheless are firmly rooted in our common experience, and endearing characters whose absurdity we can relate to. As a PR man, however, I can’t help but draw a parallel between the film and one of the hottest topics in the industry – social media.

Carrey’s character – Carl – essentially passes through a three-phase transformation over the course of the film. At the beginning Carl is a borderline depressed antisocial who says no to everything and takes absolutely no chances. He works in a seemingly dead-end job and has no social connections other than two long-time friends who only put up with him because they knew him during happier times. At the heavy-handed prompting of a friend, Carl attends a self-help seminar at which the guru tells his cult-like followers that the key to success in life is to say yes to everything – literally.

Carl’s second phase begins as he adopts this philosophy, saying yes to every request, invitation, and challenge. At first it seems pointless and troublesome, but soon he finds opportunities opening in all aspects of his life that he’d never considered or even imagined. He gets promoted, finds a great girlfriend, helps people, and makes fantastic new friends.

The third phase begins when Carl’s girlfriend finds out about his “yes” policy and assumes that the only reason he’s with her is because he says yes to everything. At this point, he begins to see that saying yes to everything also has a dark side. In the end, Carl achieves enlightenment, realizing that while he can’t really say yes to everything, practicing the essence of the “yes man” philosophy makes him a more interesting and happier person.

I think that as companies engage social media, they often pass through a similar transformative process, initially implementing any technique prescribed by anyone claiming expertise. Those that stick with it begin to develop a more mature strategy and an ability to distinguish between valuable communication and fluff. Often this enlightenment lies on the other side of painful lessons learned, but I don’t think it always has to. One of the great things about social media is that everyone else’s mistakes are in plain view to be learned from.

Nevertheless, social media is a brand new medium, and is kind of like the Wild West, so some rough spots are inevitable. Ultimately, however, the lesson of “Yes Man” is that life is going to happen whether you engage it or not – a fulfillment cannot be achieved without risk. Regardless of how you feel about social media, you can’t deny that it is where the conversation – and the action – is right now. While businesses ought to pick and choose how they engage, they must remember that the conversation and the action are going to happen whether they’re a part of it or not. Just like Carl, companies that say “yes” are going to find opportunities and make connections they never imagined. Sure, they might also hit some bumps, but most of those bumps are going to reveal underlying problems that can only be fixed upon discovery – and that’s a very good thing!

Michael Burke, MSR

Social Media: Some Food for Thought

On Halloween night, just after trick-or-treating, I was struck by how many of our daily interactions revolve around food. As I watched my son and nephew intently discuss all the pros and cons of the various candy they had collected–“jawbreakers are yummy but they can also break your jaw”–I recalled how most of my own conversations over the weekend were about food. 15 minutes with my brother-in-law on the best way to grill a sausage, 20 minutes with my sister about our favorite breakfast cereals…

As humans, we’re fascinated by food. We don’t just eat it. We experience it. We form very strong opinions about it. We cook food to connect more deeply with each other. We rally around food to talk, laugh, catch up and even fall in love. This Thanksgiving, many of us will be gathering around a ham or turkey, and you can bet a great deal of the feast will be spent talking about… the ham or turkey.

Just last September, a cable channel scored the highest viewership ratings in the history of Scripps Networks. That cable channel was the Food Network.

Our fascination for food isn’t lost in social media. Almost a half million people follow Starbucks on Twitter. As Steven Johnson recently wrote in a Time article, “Twitter turns out to have unsuspected depth. In part this is because hearing about what your friends had for breakfast is actually more interesting than it sounds.”

I myself have often tweeted about food. Not only do food-related chats generally draw the greatest response, they can also spark debate and sometimes even heated protests. 50 people stopped following me on Twitter after I admitted I didn’t like cake!

Social media tools and techniques may allow us to communicate, but it’s what and how we communicate that allow us to truly connect. In creating our social media campaigns, we shouldn’t lose sight of the things that bring us together in very human ways. I’m not suggesting that your next press release or pitch has to include a recipe for the world’s greatest banana split (though it can’t hurt), but make sure what you are offering is a kind of food for your target audience. Or create something that appeals to us in the same way.

Is it a coincidence that the original iMac computers looked a lot like candy? Or that they were made by a company called Apple?

Chris Blake, MSR