Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Getting Into The Books
September 23, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Books, Education

According to a report from Publishers Weekly and the Institute for Publishing Research published earlier this year, total book sales are projected to dip 0.5% in 2009, to $35.04 billion. With its growing popularity, Amazon reported in May 2009 that Kindle-edition books accounted for a whopping 35% of book sales when the electronic editions are available. Sony has the Reader Digital Book as well. People are reading less printed material and instead choosing digital books, Kindles, Sony Readers, iPod ‘books’, books-on-CD, and so-forth over picking up a paperback and settling into their favorite recliner.


Not me!

While I do love reading my personalized newspaper every morning (that’s my RSS feed), nothing is better than getting a printed book and sitting down with a highlighter and pen to take notes in the margin and apply what I’m reading and learning to my work and/or my personal life. Lately, I’ve felt an urge to really start digging into social media trends, so this past weekend, I went to Village Books in Fairhaven, WA to pick up some titles that had been recommended to me, and a couple that really grabbed my attention while I was there:

  • The Cluetrain ManifestoRick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, & David Weinberger: this book was recommended to me by several people. Essential reading for anybody interested in the Internet and e-commerce, and is especially vital for businesses navigating the topography of the wired marketplace.
  • MicrotrendsMark J Penn: this book was in the Business section, and the subtitle caught my eye: ‘the small forces behind tomorrow’s changes’. This book gets into the details of seventy microtrends that are changing our lives today and will affect our lives in the future. I can’t wait to dive into this book!
  • Free: The Future of a Radical PriceChris Anderson: I’ve been wanting this since I first watched Chris Anderson’s discussion of the book at Google back in July. This book is about how today, companies can potentially profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them, and how this can be a business strategy that may well be essential to a company’s survival.
  • The New Rules of Marketing & PRDavid Meerman Scott: like Microtrends, the title and subtitle of this book caught my attention on the shelf: ‘how to use news releases, blogs, podcasting, viral marketing, & online media to reach buyers directly’. To me, that reads ‘how to…reach candidates directly’!

Since more of my job duties these days are involving social media, whether it’s direct outreach or helping to come up with strategies to drive people to our jobsite, I wanted to get some reading material to help me understand how to do this better. I think I’ve got a pretty good start with these titles. My goal will be to finish one book per month and review it here.


PodCamp Ohio
June 22, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Blogging, Education, Networking/Social Media, Podcasts, Recruiting

This past Saturday, I spent the day in Columbus OH attending PodCamp Ohio. For those who don’t know, PodCamp is a concept that was originally started by Christopher Penn and Chris Brogan (who incidentally graced us with his presence via Skype during one of the sessions!). Basically, a podcamp is a FREE BarCamp-style community UnConference for podcasters and listeners, bloggers and readers, and anyone interested in New Media.

There were approximately 200 attendees to PodCamp Ohio this year which was awesome! We kicked things off around 9am and went until 5:30pm. Presenters signed up ahead of time to conduct sessions ranging in topic from podcasting equipment selection, to keyword research and SEO, to corporate twittering, to finding a job using social media. There were six session timeslots and so many great topics to choose from that attempting to re-cap even from the ones I got to attend wouldn’t do them justice.

The best part is that all of the presenters did so voluntarily – this allows for people to develop their public speaking and presentation skills in a casual environment. There were seasoned presenters as well as first-timers, and much respect from me to those who signed up to present – you all rock!

I was pleased to finally meet Luke Armour, Digital Strategist with Fleishman Hillard. Luke and I have been Twitter buddies for a bit and it was nice to finally put a face to the name. I was able to have the company of Lisa Desatnik and Steve Gerl on the ride up and back, as well. I had some great conversations with Dustin Pyles, Gabe from Digital Disciples, and presenters Alison Bolen from SAS,  Michael Loban who did a phenomenal presentation on finding a job using social media, and Michael McDermott, who I was privileged to catch on camera (see below).

Serious ups to the sponsors who made it possible for our podcamp to happen at no charge to the participants!

Clips from Fordyce Presentation
June 19, 2009, 11:00 am
Filed under: Education, Networking/Social Media, Recruiting, Research

Well, after some tumultuous travel to get home (you’ll have to ask me about my experience traveling on United Airlines!!) I’ve finally had the opportunity to collect my thoughts and throw together a few clips from my pre-conference workshop on Incorporating Social Media Into Your Recruiting Plan (link to the slides), presented at the Fordyce Forum in Las Vegas.

I enjoyed the content and the networking from the conference. My favorite presenters were Barb Bruno and Jordan Rayboy. I enjoyed Jordan because of his genuine-ness and complete transparency. Jordan and his wife, Jeska, work 100% remotely from their RV. They travel all across the continent and have the luxury of being able to choose their neighbors every day. However, they don’t allow this freedom to distract them from their work. Rather, the two feed off of each other – the travel inspires their work, and work in turn allows for the freedom of travel. Jordan and Jeska are incredibly disciplined with their business; they believe in the concepts of lifestyle recruiting and working to live. I recommend you check out Jordan’s presentation on the post-event page (coming soon!).

Barb Bruno’s session was the last one I was able to attend before having to dash off to the airport, and what a way to wrap up! Her discussion revolved around making slight changes that will produce dramatic results. Barb threw out nugget after nugget of wisdom. Some of my favorites include:

  • We are creatures of habit and so often our lives control us vs. us controlling our lives.
  • Identify at least one new source for candidates every month.
  • You gain control by giving up control. Delegate things that are not the best use of your time. (I personally love this)

The networking was pretty good too. I had the opportunity to meet some really nice people:

Many others, too many to name and I don’t want to start hurting feelings 🙂 I encourage you to check out the other presentations on the Fordyce Forum post-event site and see some of the great things we got to learn over the course of 60 hours. And if you attended, please take the time to fill out the feedback survey. That’s what allows those of us who presented to refine our skills and make adjustments so that we can bring you the best content possible.

US Ambassador and Corporate Citizenship
December 1, 2008, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Education, GOMamelodi08 | Tags:

We had a rare treat in South Africa last week, as the work being done through the Charity and Faith church caught the attention of the US Ambassador to South Africa, Eric Bost. Ambassador Bost came and addressed our group on Tuesday afternoon and discussed some facts about South Africa, the AIDS epidemic, and expressed his gratitude for the partnership between Crossroads and Charity and Faith. He also mentioned how some United States corporations, like Waggener Edstrom’s new client Chevron, are being good corporate citizens in South Africa. Check out this video of his address to our work group (the Chevron mention is in the last 2 minutes of the video)

Thanks everyone for bearing with me while my normal blog subject matter has taken a back seat to this experience. I’m still readjusting to being back in the States, but things should be getting back to normal this week. I’ll pepper in some videos from the trip with my usual post topics of research and social media.

Who Will Hire Me? GPA vs. Experience
November 17, 2008, 8:26 am
Filed under: Education, Public Relations, Recruiting

This post is a collaborative effort between myself and Paul Matson, a soon-to-be Ohio University graduate from the Scripps School of Journalism. We took the data gathered from our survey and each wrote our thoughts on the topic…

In the field of communications and PR, the value of GPA vs. professional experience has been a hotly contested question for new grads and employers.

To undertake this dubious topic and shed some light on the issue, Waggener Edstrom recruiter Amybeth Hale and I recently administered a short survey to gather the opinions of practitioners and students alike.

From a working professional’s viewpoint, and especially one who works in the field of recruiting, I can tell you that through the years I’ve learned that no one really cares about your GPA, unless you’re studying law or medicine (and I’d agree that good grades are important for success in both those fields!) This is not to say, of course, that you should neglect your studies, but what it means is that employers are more interested in your activities and any experience within your field that you have gained while in school. Balancing experience with a decent GPA shows that you are well rounded and are able to handle multiple things at the same time. Even college professors agree with this; one professor said, “No one cares about GPA & no one asks. What people care about is what will translate directly into the job you’ll do.”

Gaining experience, once you’ve graduated, is a bit of a Catch-22 – employers want you to have it before they offer you a job….but how are you supposed to gain it if you’re not offered an opportunity (a job) in which to gain it? As a working professional, I highly recommend pursuing internships and work experience while you’re still in college and these opportunities are relatively easy to come by. Burying yourself in books, cramming to get a perfect GPA, and devoting every waking moment to maintaining a 4.0 unfortunately doesn’t translate well in most employment situations. DO your best to maintain a well-rounded slate of activities. – Amybeth Hale, Waggener Edstrom

In favor of experience, a common argument is that PR and communications, unlike engineering and math or medical-based fields, is much more subjective in nature. Therefore, a strong GPA in these fields is inherently more valuable (if you solve an engineering problem incorrectly, the bridge falls down.)

“It shifts over time, but recent grads need a good GPA. Further into your career, experience matters more. I prefer bridge engineers, architects, and my doctor to have both.”
- Jon, a working professional

In PR, innovation, originality and accuracy are king to being successful – there is no substitute for real-world experience. Conversely, a sturdy GPA (for the sake of argument, around a 3.0 and above) reflects strongly on commitment and time management throughout college.

“I could easily have a 4.0 GPA, if I spent all of my time focusing solely on my classes. Instead, I have a 3.5 GPA and a lot of relevant experience. I am active in PRSSA, PR Central (a student-run PR firm), the student government, and work for the university’s public relation department 15 hours a week. There is a quote in the student organization center on campus: ‘You can go to college and get a degree, or you can get involved and get an education'”
- Rachel, a student at Central Michigan University

Ideally, having both would be ideal. But what about the thousands of students with brilliant minds, plenty of professional experience, but a 3.0 or 2.9 GPA? Is the person with one internship and a 3.8 GPA more deserving of that entry-level position?

“Experience has proven to be more valuable to me. GPA is a reflection of the classroom and oftentimes, class work is more of a means to an end. Not to say that I haven’t had some great classroom experiences, but at best they acted as complements to what I’ve learned through my internships.”
- Aaron, student at Ohio University

Based on the responses we received, I was very surprised to find that most practitioners value experience far more than an outstanding GPA. From my own perspective, this indicates that employers are able to holistically analyze a new grad’s potential within their company. At the end of the day, an A+ in microeconomics and psychology is not the selling point to getting that coveted new job.

“Good grades are not as much an indication of ability in the student’s chosen career area as they are of the student’s ability to figure out what a teacher wants.”
- Nan, a working professional

As more responses were gathered, it became increasingly clear that many employers agree a strong GPA is good, but will not be the sole factor in earning you a first job. Many students, however, often become worried that their GPA may be the first concerning factor in being considered for a position.

“In my opinion, a good GPA and professional experience should go hand-in-hand. Obviously, if you are a good student who works and studies hard, you are more likely to be prepared to take on the challenges of the professional world. A great deal of professional experience can be an asset to your knowledge and understanding of concepts learned in the classroom.”
- April, a student at Ohio University

On the other hand…

“Relevant work experience… I believe is the best. You could be the worst student in the world, and yet be the most accurate candidate for a position. It’s up to what you can do.” – Guido, a working professional

Students have long struggled over being required to take “irrelevant” classes. I argue in favor of an employer looking at a student’s transcript, but paying close attention only to their core coursework and applicable courses. Work samples could also be provided that a student may have completed taking a particular class, which could count as a subtle form of experience (especially for younger students looking for internships with little experience).

“The ‘real world’ experience from internships and organizations helps in molding a good overall professional.”- Chelsea, a working professional

After reviewing this wide variety of opinions, I personally conclude that a strong GPA is valuable, but relevant experience and knowledge in a particular field will always take the cake.

GPA or Experience?
November 7, 2008, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Education, Recruiting, Research, Surveys

I would like to ask you to take part in a VERY brief survey looking at the importance of GPA vs. experience for college graduates entering the workforce. Please click here to take the survey – we will be collecting results for about a week and then analyzing them to report back to you!

By the way, while you’re here if you have not yet taken the career values survey, please do so here. Survey submissions will be collected until the end of November with a post to follow at the beginning of 2009.

Thank you!

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 


 Historical averages (%) 


 Population (m) 


 Population growth 


 GDP (US$ bn; market exchange rate) 


 Real GDP growth 


 GDP (US$ bn; purchasing power parity) 


 Real domestic demand growth 


 GDP per head (US$; market exchange rate) 




 GDP per head (US$; purchasing power parity) 


 Current-account balance (% of GDP) 


 Exchange rate (av) :US$ 


 FDI inflows (% of GDP) 


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

…as compared to the United States economic factsheet:

Annual data 


 Historical averages (%) 


 Population (m) 


 Population growth 


 GDP (US$ bn; market exchange rate) 


 Real GDP growth 


 GDP (US$ bn; PPP) 


 Real domestic demand growth 


 GDP per head (US$; market exchange rate) 




 GDP per head (US$; PPP) 


 Current-account balance (% of GDP) 


 Nominal effective exchange rate 


 FDI inflows (% of GDP) 


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!