PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

Social Media Etiquette

For someone just entering the social media sphere, like many of my friends and colleagues at MSU and PRSSA, there’s a couple of important things to remember. While there are many cool things about sharing content on Twitter and other social networks, it’s easy to make mistakes, too.

One of my favorite bloggers and colleagues is Shannon Paul. Not only did she write a great post on how not to be that guy in social media and did a presentation on it, too. Here’s the Slideshare version:

I’ve come up with some tips and reminders for the younger crowd on how to participate. I think many of us do know how to participate, but there’s some preventable errors we all make. Check out this list:

Consistency is key

As part of branding yourself, it’s important to be consistent. This doesn’t only apply to keywords, titles and social networking user names, but it also applies to your personality throughout the Web. Primarily, this is concerned with our wacky college lifestyle and how professionals use social networks. The biggest thing I’ve run into is my Facebook “personality” versus the “personality” I show on Twitter, LinkedIn and my blog. So, you have two options: keep Facebook for social uses, or add it to your list of general networking tools. I went with the latter. This article sums up Facebook use pretty well.

When is it OK to tweet?

Sharing information is one of the best things about social media, but it can get you into trouble. If you caught the story about an agency employee posting a negative tweet regarding the city where their client is located, it’s a perfect example about posting the wrong thing at the wrong time. The recap is here. It’s good to have a personality online, but make sure that when you’re sarcastic or joking around, people won’t always take it as a joke.

Also, especially as an intern or entry-level employee, it’s important to make sure you should not be revealing or announcing any client information that should not be revealed. If you let any detail slip, it might ruin your media or audience outreach strategy. Whenever you post something about your client online, make sure it’s OK with your supervisor.

Share

When anyone asks me why I’m on Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., I say that I like reading and finding new information.. basically, a news junkie. And that’s the beauty of the Internet – you’re able to find all the information you’ll ever need. But remember, share other information more than you share your own content. You’ll quickly find out how soon you lose credibility if you shamelessly self promote yourself all day long.

Disclosure

As interns, it’s cool to share the projects you’re working on with your fans. But just because you are an intern doesn’t mean you don’t have to disclosure your affiliation with the client. Frankly, it’s not ethical when you fail to disclose the relationship. Be honest and upfront when you’re working on a client project and make sure that you’re not getting your company into trouble.

Networking – old school style

As a student, you’re probably using social media to build your network and learn. I know I am. Make sure that while you’re building your network online, you’re doing it in the right way. Remember that relationships are built through conversation and helping others out. These same principles apply online, too. For some tips on how to take this network offline, I wrote a guest post on Rachel Esterline’s blog about the importance of an offline networking – check it out.

One last rule of thumb

In my public relations techniques class last week, we talked about ethics regarding media relations. We came to the conclusion that if you don’t want your e-mail conversations or any other written communication on the front page of The New York Times, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it. The same goes with social media. If you’re talking about how drunk you were last night or how much you hate your boss, chances are all the wrong people are going to see it. It’s not a chance you should be willing to take.

There you have it, some tips and advice when it comes to social media. Any other tips? Have you seen these mistakes being made?

Filed under: Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, Social Media, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Intern Office Etiquette [Reminders]

I had coffee with some of the leadership from our PRSSA Chapter at MSU, including our professional advisors. Russ White from MSU University Relations, Kelly Rossman-McKinney of the Rossman Group and Jennifer Holton of the Michigan Department of Agriculture all gave their input on how we can make our students more prepared. The three of them all come from very different backgrounds in the public relations industry and we had a great discussion.

Some of the things we are planning for next semester include sessions on crisis communication, research and planning, media training, and others. But we also talked about one major thing students need work on: office etiquette.

I got some feedback from our advisors and Twitter, and I put together this list of things student workers in an office need to be more aware of:

  • You’re an intern, so act like one. Bring a pen and pad of paper wherever you go, ask a ton of questions, offer to help all the time and always have a good attitude.
  • Know how to interact with your co-workers. Talk and get to know with everyone in the office. If you work for a company with multiple offices, go work at the other offices. That’s how I landed my gig at the NAIAS starting next week.
  • It’s OK if your boss or anyone else asks you to get coffee. If they are in the board room and ask you to get coffee, consider it your access pass to the board room. Getting coffee for a superior is not a demeaning thing and no one is above it.
  • Moreover, you are not above doing anything in the office. Sometimes, you have to move the boxes, deliver notes and other not so glamorous things. Get over it.
  • Don’t be afraid to answer questions or make suggestions. Think it through before, though.
  • Answering the phones isn’t below you, either! I believe that every phone call is practice for the “real thing” – as a PR intern, I would make a lot of calls to the media and my phone experience helped a lot.
  • Don’t justify going on Facebook for hours at as time as “social media practice.” That said, try to stay as “billable” as possible.
  • Even though you’re an intern, don’t be afraid to ask for/take on more responsibilities.
  • Respect your co-workers. Don’t put the phone on speakerphone if you work in a cube and try not to have loud conversations on a break around co-workers who are working.
  • Don’t drink Diet Cokes that aren’t yours. But you should bring in leftover cake and other communal things to share. Hey, who doesn’t love a treat?
  • Especially with public relations internships, know and understand social media. You will be working with baby boomers and generation x’ers that don’t know how to use it but expect you to. Take on a social media project and be able to take ownership of it.
  • Always have something to do. If you aren’t assigned project, ask. If you still can’t find something, don’t be afraid to start your own project. Clean out the supply closet, create a company newsletter… anything to add your worth to the company.
  • As a college student, you probably live a crazy and wacky lifestyle, but never bring that to the office. Your co-workers probably won’t appreciate it.
  • After your internship, go back to the office once in a while and stay in touch.
  • Finally, you should never be “too busy” to help someone in the office. Refer to my “why I don’t say busy” post. Yuck, I hate that word.

It might sound blunt, but these principles help me every day. Truth be told, there is a large generation gap between our generation and past generations. Teresa Wu wrote a great guest post on Chris Brogan’s blog summarizing our generation. Although we may feel entitled to many things, we still need to adapt to the current work place.

All throughout high school, I worked both as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Needless to say, I didn’t have any office experience before I started interning and working for The State News. I think alot of it has to do with your environment. If you learn from those around you, it will help you to fit it a lot more quickly.

*Southwest Airlines (@southwestair) contributed their thoughts to this post. Guess which airline I’m flying on my next trip?

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, , , , ,

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