Graduating seniors anonymous

February 24, 2009

Hello, my name is Gretchen and I’m a graduating senior. I’m currently addicted to learning about: Job searching, interview preparation, interview tips and tricks, résumé tweaking, editing, and building, portfolio polishing, and personal branding.

Like many students who are about to enter the “real world,” I’ve become addicted to researching pertinent information about acquiring a job. To simplify, or maybe overwhelm students a little more, I thought I would share some resources I found about interviews, job searching, and personal branding.


What’s the best way to answer unusual questions employers throw out during an interview?

I personally struggle with questions regarding my strengths and weaknesses. How do you answer a question without sounding arrogant or under qualified? Heather Huhman gives some great advice about mastering the responses to these tough questions.

  • For example, “What is your biggest weakness?” In the post, Chandlee Bryan suggests providing sincere information in areas that you could improve upon. Overall, make sure the weakness you provide isn’t an essential task of the job you’re interviewing for.

How do I master a phone interview?

Many of my friends have encountered the dreaded phone interview and most of them also had the same response once the interview was finished: “That sucked!” How do employers expect me to stand out over the phone? Barbara Nixon recently posted great advice about making the most of a phone interview.

Here are a few examples of her tips:

  • Know the details of the interview and be prepared at least 15 minutes ahead of time.
  • Prepare your interview area carefully. Sit at a clean desk and have a copy of your resume and information about the company in front of you.
  • Send a short, professional thank you e-mail to the interviewer immediately after the phone interview. Follow up the e-mail with a hand-written thank you note.

How do I start personal branding?

Erika Penner recently gave an informative presentation on personal branding for PR students searching for jobs.

Here are some tips on personal branding from her presentation:

  • Consider your strengths and what you want to project to potential employees.
  • Showcase your personal brand through a résumé, portfolio, and interview, which send an honest, consistent message to employers.
  • Make your résumé and portfolio consistent with the strength you highlight within your personal brand.
  • Be confident in yourself and enthusiastic about an interview opportunity.

Additional resources:

Best questions to ask during an interview

Setting Yourself Apart: A Job in PR is Possible

Until the next graduating seniors anonymous post, good luck!


Twitter: what’s the point?

February 24, 2009

by tony.gigov

Now that I’ve become somewhat familiar with Twitter, I often have people asking me, “What’s the point? Why should I use it? How does it benefit me?” Although I know why I like Twitter, I struggle to come up with a clear answer as to why other people should become involved with this microblogging site.

Why I enjoy Twitter

I like Twitter because it allows me to interact with people who share my interests. Twitter allows me to network with a variety of people who may influence me greatly. On Twitter, I’m able to join several conversations and make my voice heard. I also am able to share videos, stories, pictures, and more with people who may or may not be interested.

Why others should use Twitter

Paul Bradshaw recently asked his Twitter network “Why should student journalists use Twitter?”

Some of the responses included:

  • It’s fun
  • To create conversation and swap information
  • Job opportunities
  • It’s a fantastic way of interacting with a wide range of people
  • To pick up leads and story ideas easily
  • It’s a news source

Bradshaw also provides several presentations on the Online Journalism Blog about Twitter.

Here’s a fantastic presentation for Twitter newbies. His advice includes communicating with thousands of people at once. However, following thousands of people may be difficult if you don’t know who to follow. Here’s a link to the top 10 Twitter users that every journalism student should follow.

Need more tips about Twitter?

Go tweet around and explore what Twitter has to offer. Find me on Twitter @gbrandtj.

By tOkKa

Kellogg’s recently dropped its endorsement with Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. The company concluded that the photos of Phelps with a marijuana pipe were “not consistent with the image of Kellogg.” Many people seem to disagree with Kellogg’s classification of their “target audience.”

I would assume Kellogg’s target audience would be mothers and young kids. Kellogg’s produces products such as Cheeze-Its, Pop-Tarts, Yogos, Eggo waffles, Famous Amos cookies, and more. They are the leading producer of convenience foods and ideal snacks for kids. However, according to some, these snacks appeal to another important audience: marijuana users. Kellogg’s snacks may also be recognized as the convenient munchie for the occasional pot smoker.

Marijuana is said to be the most popular illicit drug used in America. Being such a large audience themselves, it would only be natural for marijuana users to have a strong reaction to Kellogg’s disapproval of Phelps. Many people will no longer support the company that discriminates against the lifestyle of a marijuana user.

I did a quick sweep on Google and found several articles highlighting the recent boycott on Kellogg’s. The Washington Post featured an article where groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project called Kellogg’s decision, “hypocritical and disgusting.”

Take a look at Saturday Night Live’s Seth Myers and his opinion about Kellogg’s actions against Phelps. Do you think Kellogg’s misjudged their target audience?

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My Facebook page was born September 2005. My Facebook was a healthy platform for communicating with friends. I took full advantage of the available Facebook applications and services. My page was a strong, public site until I learned about the impact of my social media image and general presence in the world of social media. My Facebook page began to quickly evolve.

My random choice of friends, questionable content, and overly public settings changed after I received my first lecture about the accessibility of Facebook.

The lecture I hear year after year consists of professionals or professors telling students about the importance of maintaining a positive social media image. First impressions are crucial in our current overly competitive job market. One quick sweep on Google and the image that pops up could determine your current employment status.

To help you make the right choices on Facebook, here are some tips, do’s, and don’ts.

A few examples from Switched’s post Facebook 101: 25 Tips and Tricks:

  • Manage your online profile, because potential employers and college admissions may be checking.
  • Don’t use the ‘Poke’ function, ever.
  • Edit your ‘networks.’

More tips from my professor Kelli Matthews include:

  • Maintain an accurate and professional Facebook profile.
  • Remember that email, comments and blog posts are forever. For-ev-er. Think before you type.

If you still need to be convinced to make your Facebook page more employer friendly, read this USA Today article.

My Facebook page evolved from public, to semi-private, and then extremely private. With the private setting I’m able to have a limited social media presence. I worry that being nonexistent on Facebook may give off the impression that I have something to hide. Currently, my main concern with Facebook is their new terms of use content ownership policy.

What are your thoughts about this policy and having a public presence on Facebook in general?

by Matt Hamm

As a PR student about to dive into the professional world, my head is full of innovative social media trends. My answer to all questions regarding brand and relationship building tends to be: SOCIAL MEDIA. As a member of Generation Y, I’ve come to learn that many people have their doubts about the success of social media.

Why shouldn’t people have doubts? Sure companies and organizations can easily become involved with social media, but are they really listening? Or maybe a better question would be: is the target audience going to connect with the selected social media tools? Building brands and relationships is all about connecting with people in the right way.

I’m currently working with a local non-profit, Eugene Masonic Cemetery (EMC), to help them build a stronger relationship with community members. The moment I mentioned social media, I received looks of doubt and confusion. How do I convince them that social media is a great tool to connect with community members?

After doing a little research, I found some great tips for EMC about using social media as well as other tools to raise brand awareness and build relationships. The following are tips from FEED: The Digital Design Blog and Authenticities:

Monitor social media and respond to what people are saying about you.

  • We live in an era built on social interactions. Don’t just focus on building brand awareness, focus on building a space where customers can interact with the brand and other people. Relationships are built by creating interaction among an organization and its publics.

Use existing online tools to create communication among an organization’s publics.

  • Update your Web site. Keep the content relevant and interesting. Increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • Add RSS to your Web site so people can easily subscribe to your site.
  • Use e-mail to distribute interesting information and organization updates.

Now you may be thinking, “What valid or interesting information does a cemetery have to offer?” Actually, the cemetery is full of fun historical facts and personal stories. Who knows, maybe you’ll soon see EMC as an active Twitter member.


Oregon’s non-existent professional football team has killed my interest in the NFL. However, I still tune in annually to watch the Superbowl. For me, the Superbowl is an excuse to eat nachos, socialize, and laugh at ridiculous advertisements that cost companies loads of money to air.

I’ve recently realized that advertisements have more to fear than just general criticism. Social media users have learned to vocalize their opinions via blogs, Twitter, and other social media sites.

I recently read a post on KDPaine’s PR Measurement Blog about the GoDaddy ad aired during the Superbowl. Some social media users were so offended they suggested switching to cheaper alternatives of GoDaddy via Twitter. Network Solutions @Sashib happened to be monitoring the conversation and began offering a coupon to anyone who wanted to switch hosting companies.

Social media users are fierce and they mean business. I did a quick sweep on Twitter to see what others were saying about Superbowl ads and everyone has an opinion. Not surprising, many people are still talking about the GoDaddy ad, calling it stupid, pointless, and tasteless. Maybe companies will begin to think twice before airing ads that may be controversial to a large audience.

Trying new restaurants is one of my guilty pleasures. My restaurant search begins with a sweep on yelp. I create a connection with a restaurant based on its reviews. If I’m satisfied with a meal, the restaurant remains in my mind. But how do I stay personally connected with that restaurant?


The answer: social media. If companies and organizations can use social media to connect with their audience, why can’t restaurants? Social media is an inexpensive way to interact with existing or potential customers.

This idea seems so simple to me, however, after looking up some of my favorite restaurants I found they do not exist in the world of social media or if they do, it’s very minimal. For example, one of my favorite restaurants in Portland is Le Happy. The food is unique, tasty, and reasonably priced and the atmosphere is funky and fresh. Although Le Happy is off to a great start with their interactive Web site and can be found on yelp, they are nowhere to be found in the world of social media.

Le Happy

Think of all the things restaurants could do with social media. Being the amateur restaurant connoisseur that I am, I would use restaurant social media sites to check out specials, anniversary events, menu changes, hours, reservations, renovations, wine lists, and more. The possibilities are endless.

Here is a list of social media tools restaurants can use to connect with customers and create brand recognition.
A few examples from the list include:

  • Using Twitter to provide people with updates on specials and events. Twitter also allows customers to provide feedback and commentary about the restaurant, its food, and other aspects of the dining experience.
  • Creating a blog to inform people about the restaurant’s recent editions to the menu, new staff, cooking techniques, etc.
  • Starting a Facebook page to connect with existing and potential restaurant patrons.

I believe creating and maintaining a connection with people will contribute to the success of a restaurant. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the success stories I found on Social Media Explorer.


I began my social media endeavor by using Facebook. Initially, I eagerly added photos, wrote on walls, updated my status, and commented on photos. This excitement came to a sudden standstill when my one of my relatives asked to be my friend via Facebook. A thought popped into my head, “If my family can see my page, what’s stopping other people from viewing my personal information?” Yikes!

Being public is one of the great qualities of social media, because it allows people to interact with almost anyone. It’s also a great way to build trust among organizations and their audiences. Participating in social media makes people vulnerable and susceptible to criticism.

Although this sounds great for people who use social media correctly, it can also be easily abused and lead to a disaster. I recently read a story about a PR account executive/vice president from Ketchum. This PR professional flew to Memphis to visit FedEx, one of Ketchum’s biggest clients. When he landed he posted on Twitter, a popular social media message board:

“True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say, ‘I would die if I had to live here.’”

Unfortunately, someone from FedEx saw the post and reported it. Many employees who are from the area did not appreciate the negative remarks about Memphis.

This story, like many others, is exactly why I spend several minutes, if not hours, thinking about what to write on Facebook, Twitter, and especially my blog. I constantly think about who’s reading or viewing my social media pages and how the content will influence me in the future.

My advice: think about the impact of what you write, post, share, tweet, etc. You never know who’s watching.