Monthly Archives: February 2008

I am not a computer geek. But sometimes I wish I was.

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I never thought that getting into PR I would learn so much about computers. I know more now then most of my computer savvy friends, and have even impressed my Dad, who knows everything about computers.

The truth is, I really don’t like computers all that much. I’m really in to all this new social media stuff, but only because I feel it will enhance my career opportunities. I really enjoying learning and experiencing all these technologies, but I am having a hard time getting involved and staying involved.

Many of my friends from school would consider themselves computers geeks. And to be honest, I am totally jealous. They not only have learned all the new media tools, but have embraced social media as a part of their lives. I felt like if they are doing something then I have to follow and join the newest online network. I added twitter and joined seesmic and oovoo, but I just can’t get involved.

For a long time I thought I was falling behind by not keeping up with the trends enough to be considered computer literate. After a quick chat with social media guru Maggie Fox, from the Social Media Group, I was reassured that I don’t need to be engaging in every new social media tool that presents itself, but that just being aware of what they are and how I can use them is really a big advantage.

I’ve been fighting with myself every night to sit in front of my computer to learn more and take part in online conversations, but really, it just isn’t for me, and that’s OK. I can stay engaged and follow twitter feeds and read blogs, but I don’t need to force myself to take part in something that doesn’t interest me all that much.

So, thank you to Maggie for making me feel better about not being the computer genius I want to be. And so maybe my blog posts won’t be introducing the newest media tool and how it can be used in PR. And maybe I won’t have anything to talk about with my friends who spend all night on seesmic. But really, the computer thing, not for everyone.

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Will being a waitress help my career in public relations?

Like many of my readers are, or once have been, I am a waitress. I work at East Side Mario’s on Front Street approximately 20 hours a week while going to school obtaining a postgraduate degree. I love my job, and have been a waitress since I was in high school. Its a great way to make money, meet a lot of people and have a lot of fun.

When writing my resumes, I was trying to think of transferable skills from a serving job to a career in PR. Now, I can’t put this on a resume, but anyone who can handle serving tables in a busy restaurant I think is the best candidate for a job in public relations.

First, it’s all about the clients. It is my job first and foremost to make sure my tables are happy. I can advise them on what to order, make suggestions to increase the check (bigger bill generally means bigger tip), and ensure that they are looked after in every way possible. Now, I have to do this to four or five other tables at the same time. I have to remember who ordered what and which tables needs more salad. If a problem occurs, I break into crisis communication mode and try to resolve the problem without the table knowing. Its all about time management and the ability to multi-task. You have to be able to read people within a 30 second greeting and treat each table accordingly.

I work in a team of 20-30 people, communicating with cooks, hosts, bar staff and busers who all who together to create a effective and efficient work environment. We all get along and after a long day at work we often sit at the bar for a nice cold refreshing beverage.

So, in a part time job that really has nothing to do with public relations, I have learned skills that will help me better understand my clients. I had a hard time of coming up with transferable skills for a resume, but come watch me work and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

News release 101

I was pretty impressed today with my PR class. We were asked to remember everything we knew about how to structurally write a news release, and we came up with a pretty long list. Having not written a release since last semester I surprised that we remembered as much as we did. We then applied this list to study product news releases students found online. We learned the basic structure to writing product releases, bu when we applied that knowledge to what we had brought in there were very few similarities.

I find that often in class we learn something and then find it is done differently among PR professionals. Do people just forget how to write a release? I know that I forgot in just a semester time. So to help me remember, I found this site from the Nano Science and Technology Institute (NSTI) that gives some excellent details on how to write a release. They suggest the follow format:

Headline – Be creative. One sentence. Use proper title case, capitalizing every word except for the following articles: of, it, the, a, an, from, and, is, by …

City, State (PRWEB) Month Day, Year — Grab their attention here. A strong introductory paragraph should cover who, what, when, where, why and how.

Put the body of your press release here. Expound on the information provided in your introductory paragraph. Include quotes from key staff, customers or subject matter experts.

The body of your press release should contain more than one paragraph. The final paragraph should restate and summarize the key points of your news release.

For additional information (or sample, copy or demo), contact: (include contact information here)

You can include details on product availability, trademark acknowledgment here.

About XYZ Company
Include a short corporate backgrounder.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Contact Person
XYZ Company
555-555-5555
555-555-4444
http://www.YourWebAddress.com (if applicable)
NOTE: Do not include e-mail address here. We have a special place for your e-mail address.

Include safe harbor statement (if applicable).

I definetly recommend the site for anyone wanting to get back to the basics of writing a news release. There is tips on formatting, editing and content. Check it out, How to write a press release.

Also, is it news release or press release? What’s your preference?

Are you addicted to your computer?

Until a few months ago I was pretty computer illiterate. I was a member of facebook and that’s about it. I barely knew what blogging was and thought of whole concept was a little strange. I am now a member of Linkedin and MyRagan, I listen to podcasts, bookmark with del.icio.us and even follow feeds on Twitter.

I do my best to follow every new form of social media out there. There is just so much going on and always something new to explore. It’s exciting to follow what different people are doing and a great learning experience.

My boyfriend (whom I live with) feels very different on the whole situation. He thinks I have an addition and I spend way too much on my computer. His career is quite different so he doesn’t follow any of these new trends. I try to convince him that it is a part of school and will help me advance my career, but he still sees it as a waste of time.

There is so much competition and so many young PR professionals trying to break into the industry and land a good job. I will do my best to ensure that I have the skills employers are looking for, and if that requires me to spend hours on my computer then so be it.

At first I started showing an interest in social media and web 2.0 because I was assigned to do so. Now I do it out of pure interest. I have learned more online then I have in many of my classes.

I feel like if I miss a day then I will fall behind. There are so many people talking about such fascinating things and I want to be a part of the conversations. There is just so much going on.

So tell me, how much is too much? When do you draw the line? Are you an addict?

Real life PR?

I am so excited to be a part of the Easter Seals Conn Smythe Sports Celebrities Dinner & Auction this Wednesday evening. As a part of our program at Centennial we are required to do free PR work, and I am fortunate to work with the Easter Seals. I have been involved with events at school such as Talk is Cheap, but nothing as major as something like this. I will be working with the communications team signing in media, which I think is totally exciting. In class we did a mock news conference where we had fake media sign-in sheets, but this is something else.

The event (in its 57th year) is Canada’s longest running sports celebrities’ dinner. More then 1000 will attend in support of Ontario’s kids with physical disabilities.

I am slightly intimidated by the whole process to be quite honest. Not just participating in the event, but doing real PR work. Its one thing to hand in a news release to an instructor, but I would be writing pieces that could potentially turn up in the news!

So I hope that over the next few months I will be able to share my experiences with you and that you will do the same.

Internships are also fast approaching…anyone else incredibly nervous about interviews???