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Social Media: Making Connecting and Communicating [too] Easy

Social Media

Social MediaWhen I first thought about Social Media as a Big Idea, it seemed like a good topic. Until I started to think about it. Because forms of Social Media are ubiquitous – we all use them, so what can I tell you that you don’t already know?

Well, take a look, and find out.

Continue reading Social Media: Making Connecting and Communicating [too] Easy

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Public Relations Primer

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Not every manager will need to get involved in public relations, or PR, but, from time-to-time, many will. So it is worth knowing and understanding the basics of one of the most important aspects of marketing.

What is PR?

The definition differs from one expert to another and the emphasis is very different on the two sides of the Atlantic. I personally prefer the simplicity of the definition offered by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) on their website:

‘Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.’

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) places its emphasis on reputation, and defines PR as:

‘Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.

‘Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.’

For me, PR is about engaging with your public, so the concept of PR is relevant not just at the corporate level, but also at the level of individuals who want to strengthen their careers. The principal approaches to PR are:

  • Writing
  • Collaborating
  • Engaging the press and professional media
  • Engaging through social media
  • Direct engagement

We will take a short look at each.

Writing

Getting your message out by writing articles, blogs (like this one) and books has a very simple effect: it says ‘we know what we are talking about’. By offering your public practical or insightful content, you are enhancing your reputation and strengthening your relationships with your readers. It has traditionally been largely one-way, but with the advent of social media and bookmarking, the ability for your public to comment on your writing and engage in a dialogue about it has grown mightily. This can only be a good thing for you, if you have something valuable to say, and you say it well. Please comment below!

Collaborating

If you can collaborate with other, non-competing, organisations, you can extend the reach of your PR activities to encompass their public as well as your own. If you engage them effectively, they can become your public too. So the relationship you need with the ideal potential collaborator is one of overlapping interests, but not conflict. This is not to say that there are not some valuable collaborations to be made between competitors too, but the risks (and rewards) are substantially higher.

Engaging the Press and Professional Media

For some people, PR and issuing press releases amount to pretty much the same thing. Without a doubt, the press is continually hungry for engaging stories that will interest their audiences, so if you do this correctly, this is nothing more than an example of a good collaboration. But what the media can do is get your message out, bundled in a package of objectivity and professionalism that amplifies its effectiveness considerably. But don’t blow it: if you are asked to comment on camera, on the radio, or even in print: prepare well, because if you don’t, and you perform poorly, the media can turn your reputation into an overnight shambles.

Engaging through Social Media

With so many forms of social media around, even the so-called experts are struggling to offer coherent advice as to which to focus on and how to do it well. The two tips that seem to surface again and again from the best of them, and which make greatest sense to me, are:

  1. Focus: choose one or two social media that your audience are most likely to engage with in numbers and in depth, and focus on using them well
  2. Social: the nature of social media is that they enable social connections, so you need to be listening to conversations and engaging with them as you would in a bar, cafe or restaurant. If you just use them for announcements, then you are losing most of their value.

Direct Engagement

From meeting customers in the street, to sending them information by newsletter, direct engagement has the capacity to be the most powerful form of PR of all – and therefore the ability to do your reputation most harm as well as good. The difference between a helpful advice email, with some good offers, and a piece of unwanted junk is subtle. As with writing, above, direct engagement has to have WAM factor: ‘what about me?’ says your public.

Further Reading 

You may like The Marketing Pocketbook. There are also some great resources on the PR profession websites:

 

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New Job

Maybe you are newly on the job market… a recent graduate without a job, a school leaver at the end of the summer, ready for work, recently redundant, or bored with your job and looking for a new one.  Or maybe you have been looking for a job for a fair time and are hoping for a new tip that could make the difference.

The Perfect CV

The perfect CV or job application does not exist.  The best one for this opportunity, at this time, with your skills, experience and personality is what you need to create.  Yes; you read that correctly – each CV and each application needs to be tailored to the role you are applying for and the culture of the organisation you are applying to.  This is not to manipulate the truth, but to make the relevant truth easy for selectors to find and appreciate.

What General Principles Apply?

There are some general principles, and these are important.  They will dictate in part the base document you create and in part how you adapt it each time.

Character First

There is an old saying: ‘hire for attitude: train for skills’ and many organisations apply that ethos.  What is becoming more evident is the desire to place character before capability.  Where there is an over-supply of skilled or experienced candidates, what really matters is character.  How can you use your application documents to demonstrate your character strengths?

As an aside, what can you do while you wait for that job, to develop your character?  Working at this is, itself, a sign of character and an important asset in your job search.

Stand-alone CV?

Your application documents no longer stand alone.  If an employer is interested in you, the HR department or interviewing manager may well punch your name into a search engine.  There is a debate in the HR profession around the ethics and the reliability of this, but the safest thing is to assume it will happen.  So do it yourself and find out what they would see on their screens.  If it is not good, fix it.

Pay particular attention to social media and use professional social media websites like Linked In to your advantage.

CV

Marketing

Printing your CV on Day-Glo paper may be good for attracting attention but will not attract an interview.  However, a well-laid out, carefully prepared and proof-read document with a little design consideration may help.  Look at the corporate style of the organisation you are applying to: download their brochures and reports from their website.  Are they traditional or modern in their design ethic?  Do they like dense information or a lot of white space?  Don’t copy their style, but do reflect it.  A small number of excellent applications will beat a vast number of low quality all-the-same ones – and save you on postage.

The Core Message

What is your SHA?  Your Specific Hiring Advantage – for this job, for this employer.  Build your CV and application around that one message.  Keep the content concise and relevant and address any criteria or clues you get from the job details, the advert, the organisation’s public image.  Two good pages are perfect.  Any more and it won’t get read.

A Really Good Cover Letter

… will grab attention on line one and leave the reviewer eager to read your CV and subconsciously biased in its favour.  The confirmation bias means if they like your cover letter, they will look for the good in your application and CV.  If the cover letter fails to impress (or worse) then they will notice every tiny flaw in your application and it will be scrapped (emotionally if not physically) long before the bottom of the last page.  Hone your cover letter to perfection – don’t treat it as a last minute rush job.  That would waste all of the other efforts you have made.

Be Honest

‘Character first’ was the first tip – and it is the last.  If they have the slightest reason to doubt your honesty, you are burnt burger and in the bin.  Avoid exaggeration and provide evidence.

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