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, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why You Should Know About SEO

One of the buzzwords for 2009 already is SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. In general, SEO is all about increasing a Web site’s page rank. In terms of Google, the higher the page rank, the higher the site will appear in a search. That’s the simple definition of something that really isn’t that simple.

Everything you would ever need to know about becoming more optimized you can find on the Google Blog. You can also download their SEO guide on that page. Although your site or blog might only be for personal use, it’s good practice to make sure what you are creating is optimized. It’s been my on-going project with this site.

Here are some of the top tips I’ve pulled out from my research this afternoon, and a lot of it relates to basic public relations principles.

  • Key Messages. Think like a PR practitioner and prepare key messages. That is, make sure your content is relevant to your topic. Also, in naming your blog and preparing the subhead, think about who will be reading your blog. Is your content interesting? Does your content connect with your audiences?
  • Brevity. The shorter and more concise the name and headlines of your page, the more likely it is to show up in a search. Again, relate it back to key messaging and make sure everything ties together. With that said, try to keep it unique and differentiate it from other pages with similar purposes.
  • Network. Get to know bloggers online and share their content before you expect them to share yours. Sure, good content will always be appreciated, but building your network ensures that you will have an audience.
  • Know how to write. A huge turnoff is bad grammar, spelling errors, and more. Make sure you proof your content before you embarrass yourself. Yes, I have embarrassed myself. I read through my stuff before I post it now.
  • Consistency. More than just with your blog or Web site be consistent with all of the social networking sites you’re on. I’m “nicklucido” on pretty much everything, and because of that, my profiles for these sites will be up on a google search of my name. You don’t have to have your name if you’d like to stay anonymous, but whatever you choose, keep it consistent. And avoid names like hotlips69, especially if you plan to connect with professionals.

Honestly, the best way to increase the Google PageRank of your site takes more than just your own desire. But overall, if you create good content and have a strong enough network that will share your content, your rank will increase. Here are some tips on how to increase this number. Below are some ways to monitor and increase how SEO friendly your page in.

  • Is your blog registered on Technorati? It should be. You can also check the authority, which is the number of blogs linking to a Web site. Some think this is a good measuring system, and others don’t. Find out for yourself.
  • Digg it. The more diggs you get, the more popular your Web site or blog is.
  • Stumble upon it. This allows users to rate Web pages, and the most dugg stories appear on the front page of the site.
  • Yeah, it’s del.icious. Make sure you bookmark your blog, and if you create content that’s worthwhile, you’ll be lucky to find people think it’s worth sharing.
  • When you do all of this to your own blog, find other bloggers and do the same to them. They will usually return the favor. Even better, you can start building the relationship with them.

For students, recent grads and professionals, making yourself findable is key on the Web. I’ve been working on making myself findable, and if you google “nick lucido,” you’ll see that 8 of the first 10 pages are me. Cool! I’m even ahead of the Nick Lucido that grabbed nicklucido.com before I could. Ha!

Last thing to remember: if content is king, make sure your good content is findable.

Some other SEO resrouces:

  • A Knol on SEO
  • Shannon Paul shares her thoughts on SEO and lists resources here
  • Some useful SEO tools
  • Use Google Webmaster tools for tips and advice

Filed under: New Media Drivers License, Professional Development, Public Relations, Social Media, , , , , , , , , , ,

Social Networking

There are many posts, columns and articles out there about how to create your own brand online. I’ve read a lot of advice on the subject and learned a lot. I’ve also learned that you really have to find out on your own.

Before I share some different Web sites that I believe to have great value, I encourage you to go through this (if you haven’t already). It’s a presentation by Marta Kagan. This really is hilarious and worth an entire read-through. Also, use it as a guide – even if you’re not doing this stuff for a business. As a general guideline, make sure you are consuming and sharing others stuff before your own.

  • Twitter – microblogging. Some argue it’s a way of life. No matter what, there are many conversations occurring on here and this site is especially important in building your brand online. Connect with me on Twitter here.
  • Facebook – connect with people by friending and maintaining a profile. Facebook is moving in the general direction that most of these services are moving – sharing and consolidation. What’s the point of having 30 profiles on different Web sites when you can update and maintain everything from one? One day, Facebook really will own the world. This scares me, too. Connect with me on Facebook here.
  • LinkedIn – I like to call this the professional Facebook. Connect with and recommend your business connections. This is a great way to keep in touch with people. Connect with me on LinkedIn here.

Here’s a couple more services to take your social networking to the next level:

  • WordPress – host your blog here. It’s a great site that tracks all the stats you’ll ever need and has many useful tools.
  • Google – using such apps as Google Reader, Google Groups, etc. make Google social. You can use these apps to share information and contact each other.
  • Friendfeed – combine pretty much everything you’re doing online to your feed. I think Friendfeed is the future of social networking because, like Facebook, it is a way to combine everything easily. Brian Solis wrote a great post about the future of Friendfeed here, and I agree with him.
  • Pandora – play streaming music online. I love Pandora because it is nice to find new music as well as hear some favorites. And yes, this is social networking, especially because you can hook it up to your Friendfeed. You can check out my feed here.
  • Delicious – bookmark your favorite Web sites, articles and blog posts. I installed the Delicious Toolbar for Firefox and because this is hooked up to my blog and feed, people can check it out. Oh yeah, make sure you connect this with your feed, too.
  • Flickr – post and share photos. I wish I took more pictures and had a camera phone so I can use Flickr more, but I don’t. People find this service helpful because it is so easy to share and to post on different platforms.
  • StumbleUpon – find and rate information on the Web. For more information on how to use it, click here.
  • Scribd – upload and share documents with friends. I have seen people use this for group projects (Google Groups can do this, too) and other things. I think this will be gone soon because of how much easier Google’s programs are.
  • YouTube – watch videos online. Come on, there’s something for everyone here!
  • Slideshare – connect with some brilliant minds and share their presentations (or create your own). Look above for an example of an incredible presentation on Slideshare.

It probably seems like a lot of work to maintain all of these accounts, but I’ve found that once you do all the signing up, it’s pretty easy. I don’t spend hours updating and maintaining my profile on each of these services, I simply use them when I need it.

What else do you use? What doesn’t work? Where is the future of social networking? For me, the trick is consolidation.

Filed under: New Media Drivers License, Social Media, , , , , , , , ,

Why and How to Blog

To blog or not to blog. I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers discuss why they blog, and I want to chip in my own two cents.

I blog simply because I want to help other students like me. While I try to provide my own perspective on things, I like sharing what I learn. I also like learning from other people – students, professionals and everyone in between.

If you’re looking to start a blog, here are some basic tips:

  • Use wordpress.com. It’s free, easy and all around awesome. You can see how many people are looking at your blog, where your blog is being passed around, and a couple other useful pieces of information. Honestly, it’s cool to see how many people look at your blog, but also can be depressing. Don’t let it consume you!
  • Name your blog. What’s your personal brand? It should apply to your blog. Make sure it’s SEO (search engine optimization) friendly.
  • Think about what you want to blog about. It doesn’t need to advance yourself or your career, but find that niche that you can write about. Here is a post talking about finding a successful niche.
  • Get involved with social media. Haven’t you heard me say this enough? Read other blogs, like a lot of other blogs, and start commenting on their blogs. Then get yours going. Start on Alltop.com and work your way around to find blogs that will actually help you out.
  • Once you start blogging, it wouldn’t hurt to hire a copy editor. I hate when something slips through my young and inexperienced eyes, so I have a couple “lucky” people that get to check over my posts. Go Becky and Christina! They rock, but they don’t have their own blog (yet).
  • Proof your work.
  • Find communities to interact with. I found homes with PR Open Mic, Brazen Careerist and 20 Something Bloggers. Just remember that it takes a lot of time to build relationships in each community.
  • Did I mention to proof your work?
  • Are your ideas new and fresh? Keep on top of new trends and ideas in order to separate your blog from the rest. Hopefully mine doesn’t poop out too much – that’s what you’re reading it, right?
  • Keep the party going. Try and post at least once per week. At the very least, keep on Tweeting and sharing to build credibility.

If you don’t like my ideas, here are some great posts on how to start a blog. They’re pros.

  • One of my favorite posts from Penelope Trunk shows how to start a blog.. on her blog.
  • Guest post on Chris Brogan’s site pointing out what bloggers are doing poorly and how they can learn from professional journalists.
  • Scratch that. CB has a whole section on how to blog here.
  • Here is what you don’t want to do as a new blogger from Jason Falls.
  • For more tips on writing in a niche, check out Coppyblogger’s post here.
  • A great guide on making your blog successful in 90 days from the Influential Marketing Blog.

So, whether you are an public relations student, a seasoned PR professional, an engineer, a mom or even a regular Joe, think about starting a blog. Clearly define what the blog is for, and start interacting. But don’t start a blog just to start a blog.

I’ve been surprised how much I’ve learned since entering the blogosphere. You can do it too. Honestly.

So what have you learned to be best practices since starting a blog? How do you find your nitch? If you have a new blog, post a comment – I would love to check it out.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A New Generation

Update: As I’m writing this, CNN projects Obama as winner of the 2008 Presidential Election.

This evening, I was inspired to write a blog post from two speakers at our PRSSA Chapter meeting. Kelly Rossman-McKinney of the Rossman Group and Daniel Bergman of the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at MSU spoke to our Chapter about the presidential election. As with many other meetings this semester, the discussion turned to social media and how each campaign used it.

I’m not here to critique each campaign. I think each side learned about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to social media. But here is what I learned from this election:

  • People don’t like to be shouted at. They like to have a discussion. With all of the mudslinging in campaign ads and messages pounded into audiences, how effective can it be to actually change public opinion? My generation is independent and rebellious, and we don’t like to be told what to do. We do like to see what our friends are up to on Facebook and Twitter and what they’re thinking. Engaging an audience is key to success.
  • People don’t like to be lied to. They like to check their facts. I think in this election more than ever, people are looking to clarify what the candidates are saying. Web sites such as Fact Check allow visitors to get a third-party confirmation, therefore giving it more credibility. More generally, there have been plenty of times when I said to “Google it” after a candidate said something in a speech. A while ago, these resources were not available to voters so the credibility of these negative ads were high- but that probably won’t work as well anymore.
  • People don’t like to have decisions made for them. They like to participate. People blog. They tweet. They write notes. They discuss. They share. And the list goes on, but moreover, they have a presence online. To be successful, it is important that you’re giving people positive things to talk about and share online.

Social media allows for all of this. While younger people are primarily the ones using these tools, my generation will eventually become the older generation. This generation knowledgeable with social media will continue to grow and grow. Is social media going to change while this growth occurs? You betcha (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Even so, the importance and impact of the Web in learning and conversing will be here to stay.

I believe this is a fundamental shift in not only presidential elections, but also in how any organization communicates to its publics. It’s not a fad. It’s here to stay. And it’s dramatically changing the world as we know it.

I think it’s a good thing. But what do you think? Are there any negative effects to this evolving world of social media?

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

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