Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


Opportunistic Commenters
October 30, 2008, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Public Relations

For all my fellow bloggers out there, I think this particular post may hit very close to home. Picture this: you take the time to write a heartfelt article, or you’ve put lots of time and effort into researching a great topic. You post and invite people to comment and what happens? Inevitably, somebody decides to not leave a comment, but a ‘business card’. By business card, I mean that notorious commenter who leaves the trite “Hey nice post, by the way you should try out my company – go to my website here” or “Your readers might find some value by checking out my product/service at this website”.

What’s the deal with this? Why do people feel like they must shamelessly plug their own site so much in comments? Granted, I don’t mind a person making an honest contribution or an advertising plug if it’s relevant or if they reach out to me privately to explain. What irks me is when the commenter blatantly self promotes without establishing any prior relationship with me or the comment has zero relevance to the discussion. In my honest opinion, this is highly disrespectful to the blogger.

I think in PR, this is a common argument for those who work in blogger relations. Chris Lynn of SocialTNT fame tweeted recently that he is pleased when people get that “blogger relations is about building and maintaining a relationship and not just pushing products”. When those of us who have taken the time to maintain a blog are bombarded with these unsolicited ads, pitches, comments, etc. – with no attempts on behalf of the culprits to engage us first and develop a relationship – that’s when posts like this get thrown up. So, here are three simple things to keep in mind as you go about leaving comments on people’s blogs:

  • Add something of value to the discussion. If you’re just going to write “Yeah, same here” or “Agreed”, don’t. Provide something of substance to add to the conversation, or add nothing at all.
  • Take the time to read other posts that the author has written. Chances are, if they’ve written about one topic that relates to you, there are probably several other posts that are going to grab you. Take genuine interest in the subject matter you’re reading. Don’t leave comments on EVERY post. Be thoughtful in the words you write – bloggers can sniff out insincerity at 20 paces.
  • If your blog/website/service/etc. is relevant to the discussion, reach out to the blog author FIRST to alert them to what you have to offer (check first to see how the author prefers to be contacted – not all want to be emailed). Let them know that you read their recent post, affirm that you actually read it by citing a line or two, and THEN offer what you have. DON’T just drop a comment advertisement with no warning.

Please – don’t be a serial comment advertiser 🙂

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Advice For Graduating College Students
October 23, 2008, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Public Relations, Recruiting, Thoughts | Tags: ,

When I was going through college, in the back of my mind I always thought about what the world was like on the “other side” – once I graduated, what would I end up doing? Three months away from graduation, I discovered that the track I had followed all through school, a track that would ultimately lead me into physical therapy, was absolutely NOT what I wanted to pursue as a career. So, I was stuck. Do I change majors and spend another 1-2 years in college, or do I suck it up and graduate, and then figure out what to do?

These are the kinds of questions that many college seniors ask themselves – “What do I really want to do following graduation?” “Am I in the right track in school?” “Where do I even begin in looking for a job once I graduate?”

Over the last several months, I’ve had many seniors reaching out to me to ask for advice on how to go about pursuing careers once they graduate, in particular, in the field of public relations. I am pleased to offer up my own thoughts on some of the best things that you, as graduating college students, can do to take steps toward finding a fulfilling career post-graduation and earning the respect of your new colleagues once you find that opportunity.

These recommendations range from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. The majority of these observations come through first-hand experience or from personal friends of mine who’ve had first-hand experience. So, I hope this will provide you with some good tips for entering into the professional world.

 

  1. Don’t rush your time in college – enjoy it while you’re there. This doesn’t mean drag a 4-year degree out for 6 years. But let’s be honest, the “real world” is tough. I loved the time I spent at the University of Florida. Enjoy the time you are spending in college and don’t wish it away too quickly.
  2. Pursue internships – whether paid or un-paid. Lots of companies offer the opportunity for college students to participate in internship programs while they are still in school. These opportunities are a fantastic way for you to help figure out what you want to do after graduation. Some of them pay, some do not. You should not base your decision on which internships to pursue based on pay – some of the most valuable learning experiences come from those unpaid internships. My advice to you is to start entertaining these as early as your sophomore year, if possible (some companies will only hire juniors and above). If you are able to, try multiple internships over your college career, that way you get a good sampling of what’s out there.
  3. Don’t wait until the day after you graduate to start looking. If you wait even into your senior year to start sniffing around, you’re going to miss out on some really good opportunities. Start asking around toward the end of your junior year.  Engage your school’s career center as they will have some good resources to provide; but be careful not to rely solely on what your career center has to offer. Do your own research as well.
  4. Join student professional organizations – and get involved. This is not just to pad your resume. Joining professional student organizations, such as the PRSSA, will give you real experiences with things you will eventually encounter in the working world. These organizations will also provide many opportunities to hear from successful professionals in your field of study and start networking. Don’t just join for the sake of joining though – make sure to involve yourself in the organization’s activities. Just joining a gym doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get in shape – you actually have to go to the gym and work out in order for that to happen.
  5. Keep your online image clean. Access to view profiles through social networks is so easy these days. The last thing in the world you want is for a future employer to see that photo you took at the last greek get-together of you doing a keg stand or double-fisting a couple of Natty-Lights. Yeah, it’s not fair but you know, no one ever said life is fair. If you want to be taken seriously as a young professional, you need to go above and beyond to ensure that your online image is clean. Take down the questionable photos and ask your friends to be mindful of the language they use when writing you public messages.
  6. Choose your place of employment based on where your desires lay. A big mistake I see many young professionals make is selecting a place of employment based on the fact that their friends work there. One of my co-workers said to me that your friends will not always be people you like to work with, and vice versa. Make sure when you are considering multiple employers that you evaluate them based on what direction you want YOUR career to move, not because your friend just got an offer there.
  7. Know something about the company with which you are interviewing. Nothing is more irritating than being in an interview with someone who has absolutely no idea what the company does. Before you go on any interviews, make sure you do some research on the company, and if possible, the person with whom you will be interviewing. This shows great initiative, and your interviewer will be impressed that you took the time to find out some information on them.
  8. Approach your interviews the way you would approach dating. You would not propose on the first date, would you? Then don’t ask for a proposal on your first interview, either. The first interview is like a first date – you are both trying to determine whether or not a second date would be worth your time. First interviews are not the time or place to bring up salary, benefits, vacation, sick days, etc. They are for you to find out if the company culture would match with what you want to do in your career. When I interviewed at Waggener Edstrom, those items actually didn’t even come up until I was offered the position. I never brought them up because I wanted to make sure the experience of working for Waggener would suit my career goals. I had already decided I was going to accept when we finally discussed benefits – so they ended up just being (major) icing on the cake!
  9. Invest in your professional appearance. Guys, that deal you thought you got buying two suits for $100 is going to fall apart on you – literally. My friend Jeff bought into this as a young professional many years ago, and while he was sitting in a meeting one day, the material on one of his pant legs gave up and ripped right down the middle of his leg – not on the seam, RIGHT down the middle. When it comes to professional attire, invest in one or two GOOD suits. A good suit these days will cost you anywhere from $350 on up. But that suit should last you for many years and in the long run will be a better investment than those two-for-ones. Ladies, that “pants suit” you bought at Forever 21 leaves a lot to be desired. Just like the guys, consider investing in a few quality, interchangeable classic pieces. Quality clothing lasts a lot longer than the cheap stuff, and classic never goes out of style.
  10. Remember that the workplace is different from the club. Ladies, this one is mostly addressed to you. When you start a new job out of college, it’s time to leave the hotpants and glittery club tops in the closet during the week. These are not appropriate things to wear to work. Be careful of how much cleavage or leg you show – you’re not going to work to pick up a date. I’ve seen young women who wear things like this into the workplace, and let me tell you, the conversations that ensue are not about how hot you look. As young professionals, you need to dress a bit more conservatively in order to be taken seriously.
  11. The iron is your friend. I can’t tell you how unprofessional it is to wear an unpressed shirt or pants into work. If you absolutely cannot use an iron, then you should buy all wrinkle-less material outfits. Make sure you put an iron to your clothing before heading off to work.
  12. Learn how to tie a tie. Guys, clip-ons were for when you were 7. Time to learn a double-windsor – it looks the cleanest and in my opinion is the best of all the tie-tying techniques. And let me add in here that a short-sleeved shirt with a tie is just wrong. Period.
  13. Keep your nails clean. This seems like a silly thing to have to mention, but when you’re shaking hands with people, they do actually look at your hands. If you’ve got dirt or grease under your fingernails, they’re going to remember that. Also, ladies if you paint your nails, do your best to take care of chips. I know it’s hard sometimes – trust me, I’m a nail-chewer myself. Which is why I usually don’t even paint my nails.
  14. Don’t feel like you owe your life to a company. While you certainly want to make the most of your time with your employer and give them your best effort, it is naïve to believe that most people spend their entire professional careers with one company. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but in general, that just doesn’t happen any more. Finding a company that understands this and embraces it is a rare treasure.
  15. Look for a place that values employee education and development. And actually has a budget set aside for it – talk is cheap. I’ve worked in places that talked about how they wanted their employees to have development and educational opportunities, but when the time came for us to actually pursue such opportunities, there was either no budget or no time permitted for it. In order to continually excel in your career, you need to be ‘green and growing’. Otherwise, you’ll be ‘red and rotting’.
  16. Be a learning sponge. Take advantage of opportunities to learn from others in your company, or in competitor companies. Be proactive about asking for mentorship. But be genuine about it – don’t waste another person’s time simply to appear eager and hungry for knowledge.
  17. I have one more piece of advice to offer, but you’ll have to email me in order to get it 🙂

I wish all of you the best of luck as you are preparing to graduate and pursue careers. Please let me know if there is anything else that I can do to help you!



Information Overload
October 21, 2008, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Research, Technology

If you’ve ever had a day where you feel like you have learned too much, watch this video and it will put things into perspective. This is actually kind of frightening, especially the idea that a supercomputer is expected to be built by 2013 that can exceed the capabilities of the human brain. In considering this, my favorite quote comes to mind, spoken by Dr. Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum) in Jurassic Park, when he was discussing the creation of dinosaur embryos:

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think about whether or not they should.”

You be the judge…either way, this video reveals a lot about how far we’ve gone with information.

Thanks to LO and MB for sharing this vid with me. Also, if you, too, found the song to be incredibly addicting, it’s “Right Here Right Now” by Fatboy Slim 🙂



Video: Cincinnati Tweetup
October 20, 2008, 1:30 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Public Relations, Twitter

This past Friday, we held a tweetup in the Cincinnati area for folks who telecommute. If you recall, last year I tried to hold a similar event to which exactly no people showed up. This year, we had nine folks who came out, and I think I can speak for all of them that it was worth the drive! We even had 4 people come all the way from Athens, Ohio (a good 3 hour drive) just to attend. I have put together a video of the day below, so take a look at it and “meet” the people who were present. I hope you enjoy the music – I looked high and low for something ‘catchy’ and I think I’ll make it my new schtick… 🙂

Several people have asked when the next one will be; I would love to see this be a monthly occurrence! If you’re in the Cincinnati area (or close enough to drive) and you’d be interested in attending another tweetup next month, please leave a comment on this post.



Blog Action Day: Poverty In Perspective – South Africa
October 15, 2008, 1:21 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Education | Tags: ,

Today is Blog Action Day 08, and participating bloggers are uniting to bring to attention the very real issue of poverty. As I am leaving in about 5 weeks to participate in a mission trip in South Africa, I wanted to throw out a couple of statistics comparing the economic status of South Africa as compared to the United States, as provided by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

South Africa economic factsheet

 Annual data 

 2007(a) 

 Historical averages (%) 

 2003-07 

 Population (m) 

 47.6(b) 

 Population growth 

 0.6 

 GDP (US$ bn; market exchange rate) 

 282.9 

 Real GDP growth 

 4.1 

 GDP (US$ bn; purchasing power parity) 

 466.9(b) 

 Real domestic demand growth 

 5.9 

 GDP per head (US$; market exchange rate) 

 5,943(b) 

 Inflation 

 3.9 

 GDP per head (US$; purchasing power parity) 

 9,808(b) 

 Current-account balance (% of GDP) 

 -4.4 

 Exchange rate (av) :US$ 

 7.0 

 FDI inflows (% of GDP) 

 1.1 

 (a) Actual. (b) Economist Intelligence Unit estimate.

…as compared to the United States economic factsheet:

Annual data 

 2007(a) 

 Historical averages (%) 

 2003-07 

 Population (m) 

 301.1 

 Population growth 

 0.9 

 GDP (US$ bn; market exchange rate) 

 13,841 

 Real GDP growth 

 2.9 

 GDP (US$ bn; PPP) 

 13,841 

 Real domestic demand growth 

 2.9 

 GDP per head (US$; market exchange rate) 

 45,963 

 Inflation 

 2.9 

 GDP per head (US$; PPP) 

 45,963 

 Current-account balance (% of GDP) 

 -5.6 

 Nominal effective exchange rate 

 77.5 

 FDI inflows (% of GDP) 

 1.0 

Just a quick glance at these numbers shows a humongous difference in the GDP (gross domestic product) per person in both countries. Here are some more statistics:

  • The median annual income of Black South African working adults aged 15-65 is ZAR 12,073 ($1,294 US).
  • The unemployment rate of the Black South African population aged 15-65 is 28.1%.
  • The median annual income of White South African working adults aged 15-65 is ZAR 65,405 ($7,010 US).
  • The unemployment rate of the White South African population aged 15-65 is 4.1%.
  • A study conducted in 2004 by SARPN found that approximately 57% of individuals in South Africa were living below the poverty income line in 2001 [census year], unchanged from 1996. Limpopo and the Eastern Cape had the highest proportion of poor with 77% and 72% of their populations living below the poverty income line, respectively.

 
(Apartheid is a major reason for the drastic differences in the White and Black South African demographics)

For comparison, the median annual income for the United States is $44,389, and currently our unemployment rate is at 6.1%. Those below the poverty level in the United States, as of a 2005-2006 survey, were at 17.4%. It is important to note that the poverty line for a 2-person household in the US has been drawn at $14,000 which is almost double what the White South African median annual income is, and over 10x more than the Black South African median annual income.

So, taking a look at this information, put into perspective our current economic situation and be thankful for the things that you have! Keep in mind that our lifestyle is relative in the world and there are s-o-o-o many countries that are in worse shape than us.

I would ask if this particular issue has touched you and you want to help, please make a contribution to our group of 400 who are going to Mamelodi, South Africa, in the latter part of November. You do not have to contribute to me directly; you can make a general donation for the effort at large. Please also read other blogs who are participating in Blog Action Day 08!



Cool Tool Alert: Just Tweet It
October 12, 2008, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Public Relations, Recruiting, Research, Twitter

This is a fantastic Twitter tool for those of us in the business of recruiting! Just Tweet It is a self-appointing directory of tweeters, categorized by different areas of interest. There are tons of categories, including Advertising/PR, Bloggers, Environmentalists, SEO/Internet Marketing, Social Media, Technology, etc. You can add your name to as many lists as you’d like. There’s also a list of resources on the right-hand side which could provide helpful for client use (such as Twitter for Business). You can even subscribe to a Directory RSS or to an email update so that you know when new people have entered their information into the directory. This could be great for seeing who is out in your various worlds talking about products/services that would be relevant to your clients and starting to develop relationships with them. And from a recruiting standpoint, it’s a wonderful place to start finding people and developing potential candidate profiles!

For example, I have added my profile to the Advertising/PR category, as well as to the Bloggers category. When I added my Advertising/PR profile on Friday, there were only 40 people on the list. Now (Sunday night) there are over 70 people on the list, and several that I’ve seen who would be good contacts for my own recruiting purposes.

Likewise, there are over 140 listings in the Bloggers category. For a PR professional, this would be a great place to look at folks blogging in your clients’ space and start developing relationships.

Just a couple of picking points:

  • You cannot edit your profile once you’ve entered it (wonder if they might be able to change it!)
  •  The search function doesn’t appear to work for searching directory listings, and since the listings are shown in chronological order from when you entered your name, it’s a little hard to search

Regardless, I think this is a worthwhile tool – try it out yourself!



Career Values and Satisfaction – Survey
October 9, 2008, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Recruiting, Research

I am going to be writing an article on applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to pursuing a satisfying career. In order to do this, I am trying to determine the things that are most important to individuals in their career selection and overall satisfaction.

Would you mind taking a couple of minutes to complete this survey? I would greatly appreciate your input for this article.

This survey is now closed….

I will be taking results from this survey until December 1st, and you can look for the article on my blog after the beginning of 2009.

Thank you for helping me out with this!