What’s Missing From Your LINKEDIN Profile?

Today’s post is courtesy of Beyond the Hype posted by Lois Paul. 

 

One of my particular passions is to help the executives I work with become stronger storytellers. I always advise them to make sure that the first place an influencer or conference organizer looking for an article source or a speaker will go to “check them out” is LinkedIn, so it’s really important that they have an effective profile. I then proceed to audit their current profile and tell them the missing elements they need to fix to help them stand out from the crowd. 

There have been posts on how to put together an effective LinkedIn profile, including this one I noticed while Tweeting during Sunday’s less than scintillating Super Bowl. They include basic recommendations such as clearly listing your name, your title, your company, your actual location (as close as you can get) up front, along with your key industry. Industry can be tricky for IT professionals who participate in other industries such as Financial Services, Health Care or Manufacturing because you can only choose one industry on LinkedIn. However, you can highlight Skills in other sections of your profile if you determine that it’s important that you are associated with your core industry first and your IT expertise second.

The biggest missed opportunity on LinkedIn for most executive spokespeople, in my humble opinion, is the Summary option in the Background section. Most people list their chronological job experience in this section without a Summary. A good Summary is a few short paragraphs that describe what you do today for your company, threading in the key  messages or themes you can talk about and demonstrating the strengths you bring to the market, your company and your customers. If done right, the Summary definitely is about the individual, but it also provides goodness and positioning for your company.

 
Here’s an example of a great Summary that Mark Bernardo, GM of Automation Software for GE Intelligent Platforms, includes in his LinkedIn profile:

1“I have worked in industrial automation as a supplier from every angle—engineering, new product introduction, quality and customer support. With over 25 years of experience, I help customers optimize their processes and increase business performance. To remain competitive, to keep their municipalities or shareholders happy, I believe facilities will need to find ways to empower today’s workforce—a workforce that wears multiple hats, has increased responsibilities, and needs to do more with less at a faster pace than ever before. 

Knowledge workers are critical to the equation; we need to help them use technology to free up their time so they can work smarter. At GE, we are working to change the game through the use of SCADA, mobility, integrated analytics, collaboration and high performance solutions. Through an enhanced paradigm called Real Time Operational Intelligence (RtOI), we can marry these capabilities together and provide the right information to the right people with the right context when and where they need it so they can make the right decision for their operation. I’m proud to lead the Automation Software division here at GE Intelligent Platforms and add our thumbprint to the innovations taking place in this space.”

Mark is a very effective spokesperson and this Summary makes it clear to anyone who checks LinkedIn what his expertise and views are before they contact him. He also does a good job of highlighting what his company does for customers.

Beyond the Summary, your Experience should include not just a litany of jobs you’ve held and timeframes for those positions, but a short description of what you did for each job that highlights your expertise that would make you a good spokesperson. Only the most recent positions that are relevant to your current position and thought leadership platform need to be fully fleshed out.

Another missed opportunity is the Contact Information section of the LinkedIn profile. Most of these include links to corporate websites or blogs, Twitter handles, and possibly email. What’s usually missing is a brief sentence or two that describes your passion or interest, such as “Contact Sam Smith to discuss how the Internet of Things is impacting the semiconductor industry” or “Mary Jones is always interested in a lively discussion of all things mobile, especially related to how companies need to make sure they are balancing the security of mobile devices and the need to address employees desire to BYOD.” You see the difference?

Overall, LinkedIn is not just an online public resume repository. And it’s not just a place you can use to find a new job. It’s a place for someone to get a feel for you and your background and to sample your thinking and your knowledge. They can learn more about you with a more thorough LinkedIn profile that has you telling them what you do and why you do it, backed up by any relevant blog posts, articles or white papers you have written, as well as video interviews or podcasts. We recently were able to secure a keynote speaking opportunity for one of our clients based on the strength of a video clip we shared with the conference organizer. Having that kind of work sample on your LinkedIn profile is a great resource that may create great results like that for you.

Because LinkedIn is also a living breathing profile, it should be refreshed and updated regularly with new content that makes sure that any new aspects of your work or your thinking are appropropriately represented. If you purchase a higher level participation in LinkedIn, it will guide you (in some cases, to an annoying degree) to make these updates frequently. They are worthwhile, even if you do have to spend some time “turning off” the helpful reminders.

2Last point:  I personally am not a fan of the Endorsements on LinkedIn.  This does not imply any disrespect to anyone who has endorsed me for any of the skills I have listed.  I just don’t find this section helpful so I don’t use it at all.

Recommendations can serve as more powerful third-party endorsements to help learn a bit more about a person. However, I still firmly believe that the best way to represent who you truly are on LinkedIn is to use your own words in the Summary and Contact sections in particular, as well as the links to published materials or videos.  Don’t miss the opportunity to make LinkedIn an effective way to position you as someone who would be a great source for an article or a white paper on  the key themes or issues you care about.  If you skip this step, you may not make the cut for the busy editor or show organizer who is moving fast.

What PR Courses Actually Need To Teach PR Undergraduates

Ed Zitron PROn today’s Monday PR Tips we have Ed Zitron, the founder of EZ-PR, a PR and Media Relations company based in New York City and Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also of the author of “This Is How You Pitch: How To Kick Ass In Your First Years of PR,” an Amazon bestseller in the PR category. He has worked with companies large and small, including Target and The Nature Publishing Group, as well as smaller startups and tech figureheads.

He was featured in PR in Your Pajamas and discussed the information gap between the PR taught in institutions of higher learning and what graduates need to know and actually experience in the industry.

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In 2005, I took a public relations course at a major state university – PR 101 – and remember the lesson plans clearly:

  • the history of PR
  • writing a “communications brief”
  • writing a press release
  • press conferences

Eventually, I moved on to further classes. They mostly covered press conferences and “advance communications,” a vague summary of different techniques that you might want to use in general PR… activities.

At no point did the courses actually address the media.

This was nearly a full year before Twitter would launch. Facebook wasn’t available outside of colleges. Jon Gruber had been writing for 3 years, and TechCrunch would launch not too long after. Thus we completely missed a chunk of the “social” aspect that makes up the new world of PR, or indeed the importance of bloggers.

Regardless, reading over current PR courses and many textbooks used in courses, it’s clear PR undergrads are being taught to do things that are not part of most PR people’s days. Yes, it’s very exciting to be taught that you’ll be handling big campaigns, or “handling webinars,” or how important AP Style is (which in the grand scheme of things is mostly irrelevant), or how to handle a press conference — one of the most irrelevant skills that you’ll find before a career in high-end corporate PR.

While it may not be deliberate, this is a horrible misrepresentation of the industry as a whole and is leading students down a dark, dark path. The reason behind the failure at the educational level is simple: Many of these teachers are either not active practitioners, or others are fundamentally not good at major parts of the current world of PR. It’s easy to become obsolete if you’re teaching but not practicing.

After some research, I’ve come up with what I believe are the core elements that need to be applied to just about every PR curriculum. They are:

The Realities of PR

PR is no longer about event management. It is not press conferences. It is not glitz and glamor and fancy parties. At least not initially. The world of PR they are entering is cold, over-staffed, over-worked drudgery. It is mostly behind a computer, and the salaries are lower than ever. It’s potentially immensely lucrative if you become well-connected. It does not start that way.

These core lessons need to be ingested immediately:

  • The best way to network is to be yourself. It is not to have a personal brand or “love the media.” It’s about being an interesting human being.
  • Read a lot more. Reading and knowing the news and the world around you is more valuable than being popular on Facebook or loving to party.
  • PR is not flashy, and you will probably not deal with flashy clients for a long time. Many PR agencies sell themselves as working on huge clients like P&G, Samsung, and Gucci. This is not what most will do initially. They will probably work in small tech firms or with restaurants or with non-profits – immensely demanding clients that will not educate them.
  • The first years of PR will be a lot of document-writing, package-stuffing and document work. This fact is for some reason completely hidden from new PR professionals.

Media Relations

Many PR professionals on many blogs say media relations isn’t the core of PR. It isn’t a thing that you “have” to do. I’m sorry, but it is. It always will be, especially for new PR people.

The core elements of media relations are:

  • Researching an outlet and a reporter. This should focus on how to read properly, how to understand and have a rapport with a reporter, and how to understand the structure of each news outlet.
  • Writing a pitch. This should be taught in such a way as to write a pitch that will work to get a response and what you want, under 150 words. This is a very specific skill that is almost totally diametric to how Public Relations courses are taught.
  • The difference between a blogger, a reporter and a producer. The first two parts are somewhat blurred these days – a reporter can blog at a newspaper and a blogger can be called a reporter. However these people are fundamentally different and need to be approached in different ways, especially TV and radio producers.
  • What things are truly newsworthy, and how to actually get reporters to care about them. If a teacher can’t teach this, and teach the reality that many stories are kind of boring, they are not worth their salt.
  • How to actually talk to a person whom you want to write a story. This is really about not talking to them about anything and getting to know what they want to hear about. Once you know that, you can send it to them. Or not, when you don’t have it.

The Reality of Social Media

Social media is taught in a critically dishonest manner by the education system. It’s really exciting to talk about social media in a way that suggests it’s the new golden goose — that a single tweet can spread your news faster than anything else, and that, you too, could have thousands or millions of followers who will share your news in the most passive and useful manner.

Social media classes need to teach:

  • How to use Twitter or Facebook or Instagram in a real sense. You should not just be tweeting out endless praise for your company, or how great you are. You should be an honest company or an honest person.
  • You don’t need always need Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. There is no actual need to have every company with a social presence. Conversely, for many brick and mortar businesses, such as Angie’s List and Houzz for contractors and service businesses, some social media platforms are incredibly important.
  • How a real social media following is built through trust and a reason to actually care. If a company or a restaurant or anyone is just spilling out fatuous nonsense about their lives or how great they are, very few people are going to care.
  • That a social media calendar or strategy can be a waste of time. Mapping out a bunch of tweets or Facebook updates or “special days” for many companies isn’t necessary unless they have an active Facebook or Twitter following.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything they should know, but the core problem with PR education is that a 101 class should give the basics — the groundwork from which a real PR professional should theoretically grow. In the same way that pre-med and med schools exist to give the factual and theoretical ideas that will be used in the actual workplace, PR courses need to provide the theoretical foundation and background knowledge today’s PR professionals will need in their day-to-day work.

What is Professionalism?

Professionalism

Professionalism is a requirement in every job sector under the sun. Whether you are a tailor or a governor, one needs to be skilled, have an ability to make morally sound judgements and be polite and well-mannered in every context. Above all you have to be well trained in that particular skill set in order to do the job well. Watching news on local stations raises serious concerns of professionalism ‘levels’ not just in our politicians but journalists as well.

It goes unsaid- whatever our job description is, we need to be professional in the execution of our requirements. Kirk Hazlett, an Associate Professor of Communication at Curry College in Milton, MA wrote an article titled ‘Professionalism’- What does it really mean and he stated:

  • A professional exudes pride…of accomplishment…of character…of commitment to his or her chosen career field.
  • A professional devotes him- or herself to educating others as to the standards of conduct that define and guide those in that field.
  • A professional is one to whom others look instinctively as an example of “how I should act.”

During social hours with friends and family, one can easily tell whose boss is a professional and whose is not. Complain about our bosses seems to be the norm, and during this social activity, it is impossible to ignore the commonalities in complains lodged by different people.

Plenty a time bosses have been deemed as ‘unreasonable’ and lacking in rational as to what needs to be done. Shouting and yelling is another complaint made by many, not to mention shrewd business deals, overpromising/selling, broken promises and outright manipulation and bullying of others to get their way.

This is type of behaviour is not limited to bosses but employees as well. The purpose of this article is not to witch-hunt or crucify those around us that we deem ‘unprofessional’ in our field or outside, case in point how the Orange Democratic Movement elections were conducted on Friday.  It is easy to throw stones at others for their lack of professionalism. However, there is need to look at ourselves and ask the question, ‘Am I a professional?’

There are general guidelines of what a professional is and those can be found in the Code of Conduct section of the organization manual but professionalism is more than that. It is not merely doing everything by the book but also about character and a commitment to one’s career. Professionalism is a state of being. Are you a person that people look at and think, ‘I would like to be like them.’?

Being punctual to work and meeting deadlines, always being respectful to others despite position/status, constantly updating self to the happening of one’s industry in order to remain relevant, being truthful and not prone to tantrums when things get out of hand- the small things matter. And whether you realize it or not, people observe everything you do.

In order to become a professional, it is important to observe people you deem professional and note their actions and attitudes. You however need not just mimic all they do but rather adopt those actions and attitudes to your own lifestyle and skill set. Steve Jobs is an inspiration to many worldwide, not just those in the tech industry. People take his positive attributes and apply them to their individual fields with the hope of making it in a big way as Jobs did.

Once you, after an honest analysis of self, have achieved ‘professional status’,  become a role model for others.

10 Career Facts You’ll Learn After University

With the increasing number of graduates churned out by our universities and colleges and even fewer employment opportunities, campus students should note the below 10 career facts to help broaden their outlook on the Kenyan employment landscape and life after campus.

Today’s article is courtesy of Money Careers and written by Lindsay Olson originally titled ‘10 Career Facts You’ll Learn After College‘.

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Lindsay Olson

Our career paths seem so cut and dry when we’re children. When asked what we want to be when we grow up, our responses are simple: teacher, firefighter, doctor. But as we grow up and head to college, we’re exposed to all sorts of other career options in fields we never have had exposure to in a direct way. While we work to earn degrees in fields we’re interested in pursuing, we’re still left a bit unprepared for the corporate world upon graduation.

Here are 10 facts your college degree didn’t prepare you for when graduating:

1. You’re not limited to jobs in the field you got your degree in. If you have a degree in journalism, you might assume that means your only option is becoming a journalist. But armed with great communications skills, you could also qualify for jobs in PR, marketing, or business administration. It’s all how you play your cards and where you get your experience.

2. Your degree isn’t always that important to employers. Despite what you’d like to believe, many employers won’t care where you went to school, or even what you earned your degree in. They’ll focus instead on your skills: whether or not you seem trainable enough for the job you’ve applied for. They’ll also look at experience. You’ll have the hardest time in regards to experience just out of college, as you won’t yet have much detail on your resume. Focus on getting internships and volunteer positions to round out the experience employers will be looking for.

3. Some employers won’t even require you to have a degree. This can be an eye-opener to anyone who’s spent four-plus years earning a degree, but again, employers look for experience and trainability. And while having a college degree does display your ability to be taught, it’s not the only path to a professional career.

4. There are jobs you’ve never even heard of in your field. Like many college grads, you probably received a brochure listing all the amazing careers you could consider in your field. But there are often many more beyond that list. If you have a degree in English, you’ve likely already considered the obvious option of teaching or writing, but publishing, proofreading, speech-writing, or becoming a paralegal might not have crossed your mind.

5. Grades don’t matter. It is highly unlikely an employer will ask for your transcript, at least not to check out your grades. That’s not to dissuade current college students from trying their hardest, but the fact is: employers don’t care about grades.

6. College is about networking. Make the most out of your alumni network and see what opportunities there are for you professionally. Speak to professors in your department about what they’d recommend for you career-wise.

7. Some degrees pay better than others. And liberal arts degrees aren’t at the top of the list. Biomedical engineering, math, and science, however, are. Something to consider when planning the massive amounts of money you’ll make … with your philosophy degree.

8. College does not prepare you for a job. Nothing but job experience can do that. And, of course, you need job experience to get a job. It’s a vicious cycle to which you’ve got to find your own solution.

9. Employers don’t want to train you to do a job. That’s why they’re more likely to hire people not fresh out of college. Do yourself a favor and take on an internship or two during college so that you’ve already gone through the experience of being in a work environment and having some experiences to help guide you. This will make you more hireable after graduation.

10. It’s okay to change your mind. Many graduates start working in their field of choice only to find out it wasn’t what they expected when they were cracking the books on the subject. It’s okay (see no. 1). You don’t necessarily need to start over and get another degree; just open your mind to other career options your degree might make you eligible for in the future.

The Selfie Culture

Here is a definition of what selfies are courtesy of Wikipedia.

“A selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often associated with social networking. They are often casual, are typically taken either with a camera held at arm’s length or in a mirror, and typically include either only the photographer or the photographer and as many people as can be in focus. Selfies taken that involve multiple people are known as “group selfies”.”

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay. Selfie was named “word of the year” in 2013 by the Oxford English Dictionary.The popularity of selfies is largely due to how easy they are to create and share and also the control they give to the photographer over how they present themselves. Many women, and men, take photos that would characterize them as ‘attractive’ or ‘sexy’, birthing trends such as the ‘duck face’ which emphasized a person’s lips formed to mimic an exaggerated kiss.

First Family selfie — Michelle and Bo Obama, August 2013.There are various schools of thought regarding the psychology behind selfies. Some regard it merely as a tool to capture a moment to share with friends on or off social media. Others however associate this culture with narcissism and body image issues especially in young girls aged between 18-24 seeking approval from their peers. Whatever your reason for capturing a photo of yourself alone or with a friend, know that one million other photos are being taken  and shared each day. Even Michelle Obama is taking them.

Check out the infograph below titled ‘Selfie Syndrome – How Social Media is Making Us Narcissistic‘ courtesy of Best Computer Science Schools that paints a grim picture of the selfie phenomenon and the effects of excessive use of social media on an individual. You may want to evaluate yourself and your use of social media after reading the statistics.

There is however no reason why selfies should not be taken if it is merely for the reason to share with family, friends and fans a captured moment in your life. You can go here  for a guide to taking good selfies. Below is an infrograph shared from the page about what you should consider before, during and after taking a selfie as well as reasons behind most selfies. 

selfie

Why do you take selfies? Let us know on the comments section below!

5 Tips to Turn Your PR Internship Into a Job (from a CEO)

Today’s post is tailored for those in the Fashion industry but the tips offered for turning an internship into a job cut across all industries. For more about PR Couture click here.

 

BY RACHEL MEIS How to turn your PR internship into a Job

If you are hoping to turn your 3-month internship into a full-time, salaried position, that’s great! But you’re going to have to work for it. To put it simply, if you treat your internship as an internship, you probably aren’t ready for a job.  Follow these tips below to show you have what it takes to make it to the next round.

 

Anticipate Needs

Throw out what you think you know about working hard, and get ready to work harder. And be smart about where you spend your energy. The truth is that many interns do the bare minimum. They do what they are asked to do, with as little effort as possible. Instead of only doing what you are assigned, find a few ways each day or week to go above and beyond. Whether your mantra becomes “under promise and over deliver,” or “Ritz Carlton service,” figure out how to anticipate and solve problems, and make everyone in the office’s lives a bit easier. Take out the trash without your boss asking, stay late to help finish a project, ask if anyone needs help with an upcoming event.  You might not always get verbal recognition from your boss, but just because they don’t say something doesn’t mean they didn’t notice.

 

Get a company MBA

During your internship you are testing out this agency or company, just as they are testing you. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to shadow other departments.  Learn as much about the company and how it works so you can figure out where you best fit in as a part of the team. Review old case studies, clippings and client proposals to get a sense of what’s gone on before you came on board and to get a sense for where the firm is headed.

 

Ask for it

If you want your internship to turn into a job, you are going to have to ask your boss.  Most employers won’t offer you a position post internship unless you have shown a clear interest in a more permanent position.  Schedule a face to face with your boss a few weeks before your internship ends. Treat this meeting like a job interview, and come prepared with examples of the impact you have made during your time and ideas for how you can continue to be of service. Be direct about your enthusiasm for continuing to work with your team, boss and clients. Do not frame this conversation in terms of your financial needs, but in terms of your cultural fit and value.

 

Play nice

It can be tempting to bond with your coworkers through office politics, gossip or client complaints, but be warned: this is dangerous territory. Keep conversations positive and productive.  You don’t want anyone to doubt your character when it’s time to decide if you should be part of the team.

 

Be gracious

Never burn a bridge. Even if you hated every minute of your internship, leave on a positive note. Future employers may call your boss, clients or coworkers for a reference, and you want them only singing your praises.  Don’t let one bad internship experience (however valid) stop you from a future opportunity.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Kos-Read

 

Valentine’s Day Ideas

Though Valentine’s Day is associated with couples, there is much more that can be done to spread the love that runs rampant on this day. Attributed to St. Valentine, February the 14th is the day to celebrate love and not just with our better halves but with those around us, including strangers.

Organizations can also show love in big or small ways through generous or caring acts toward their customers. It can be as simply as handing customers roses as they walk in through the door. Even for the most anti-Valentine’s person (because lets admit it, they exist), this gesture will bring a smile.

Wondering what else you can do before the day ends to show your love?

Volunteer

There is no shortage of places where you can lend a hand. A children’s home, a hospital, your local primary school, a campaign targeting the needy in the community, a charity walk or event, a fundraising for a good cause- there is always a need around you desiring to be met.

Fundraising

Many women will be protective over this next suggestion.

Instead of spending a great amount of money on pricey dinners and getaways, you could support Valentine themed fundraisers targeted to benefit local nonprofits. You could even host a small event of your own and get your friends to donate money or other materials to take to a charity of your choice. This does put smiles on a lot more people’s faces by the time the clock strikes midnight.

Send love letters 

Not just to your sweetheart but to people and organizations that are making a difference in the world. It is an opportune time (apart from New Year’s) to celebrate and appreciate work done by world and community changers. If you are feeling extra generous, slip in a gift card in the envelope as well.

Give to the needy

This can be done in two ways. Choose to buy gifts from entities that donate profits to charity organizations i.e. some arts and crafts shops or online stores. This way you kill two birds with one stone. The other alternatives is making homemade cards or goodies (you can buy these) and delivering them to the sick, their caregivers and literally anyone else who is likely to be forgotten on this Love Day. Donate what you do not use to charity as well, as long as they are in relatively good condition.

Every day people

These are the people that make your life convenient in every single way. It could be your help, gardener, the newspaper vendor or even your favourite attendant at your go-to coffee shop. You don’t have to give roses or gifts but a smile, thank you and/or a tip makes all the difference.

Small random acts of kindness

Did you know that from 10 to 17th of February is Random Acts of Kindness Week? There are endless acts of kindness you could do for others. You can pay fare for a stranger, buy a beggar lunch or do something you usually don’t do free of charge.

 

Let us know what you go up to this Valentine’s Day and Random Acts of Kindness Week. Happy Valentine’s from Glass House PR!