A No Bull Method to Self-Promotion

This guy get’s it! So thank you Headphonaught

From the hilarious, articulate and self-proclaimed harnesser of ADOS (attention Deficit Ooh Shiny) Peter Shankman, came this simple and perceptive quote, “When self-promotion is done right, it’s not self-promotion.” You might read this and think, huh? However, Peter knows what he is talking about and he made that very clear with his closing Keynote speech at the 2010 Portland Communicators Conference. It takes talent to capture an audience that just sat through 6 hours of breakout informational sessions and presentations.

His point being, if you are a genuine, transparent and relevant person, others will do your self-promo for you. Shankman truly believes, and I have a feeling he is on to something, that the simple action of helping others without having an agenda will inadvertently save the world: helping is beneficial by default.

Shankman outlined four quick rules on how to he does self-promo

Transparency:When you screw up, admit it and move on.

Relevance: Find out how your audience likes to get their info by asking them.

Brevity: Know your audience and speak to them in a language they relate to, oh yeah and learn how to write!

Top-of-mind presence: Don’t just be recalled be remembered. Have your own brand name recognition.

Self promo is being, simply, “That Girl or Guy” who can get you out of a jam.

Who is that guy/girl?

– The one whose emails you read.

– The one who never wastes your time.

– Te one who always has the answer.

– The one you never hesitate to recommend because she or he is the one who makes you look good.

His method is simple and should be common sense, but obviously, that is not true. If it were, Shankman wouldn’t be paid the big bucks to give this presentation all over the country. A great way to start your transition into “that girl/guy” is to find a piece of “finders candy” and send it to people you know would appreciate the gesture. People don’t want to hear about YOU, instead give them a little nugget that they would enjoy or gain value from.

If you gain nothing else from this, remember that everything you do should be a networking event, so find out what thy need and ask, “how can I help?”

I will leave you with my little nugget of finders candy and hope you gain or at least have a laugh! Oh yeah, and thank you for reading my post and have a wonderful day!


Transparency is a must…Even in Interviews?

Honesty, transparency, truth—Three words that we ingrain in our minds when it comes to business ethics and relationships. I have decided to relate this topic of transparency to the interviewing process as it pertains to my life right now.

This whole idea of selling and marketing yourself to a company has me questioning my personal level of transparency. I am continuously instructed to turn any negative into a positive. You never want to show a potential employer a weakness, which I don’t necessarily see as being a transparency issues. What I disagree with is this concept of contrived responses to generic interview questions:

Interviewer: “What is your greatest weakness?”

Interviewee: “ Well I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. When working on a project it might take me a little longer to finish because I have to make sure it is perfect before handing it over.”

If I was interviewing a person and that was their response, I would assume that they turned their negative, which could be procrastination, into a more positive response: perfectionism. To me, a formulated response is not transparent and to be honest, shows a lack of confidence in that person’s capabilities.

I was thinking of what my “ideal” response to the weakness question would be and I came up with something nontraditional that, in all reality, might get me into trouble but would be 100 percent truthful.

Interviewer: “So Mariah, what would you say is your biggest weakness?”

Me: Hmm…Well that would have to be my left hand lay-in! (hopefully get a laugh or I might be screwed.) As a PR professional I find that question interesting because I probably have a contrived response: We, as PR pros, should always be prepared with our own personal crisis communication responses. However, I can tell you that I know I am not perfect but I am a dedicated and determined individual. Whatever it is that I might lack superior skills in I make sure to seek out a mentor to improve on them.”

I, if you don’t know me, tend to be a very upfront and honest person: I tell it like I see it. I like people to know, when appropriate, what I am thinking. I also feed off of other peoples thoughts and ideas, which often times leads me to ask the question why: the slightest bit of healthy cynicism. I ask the question, why do we feel the need to make our selves sound even better than we already are? As a society, we tend to discredit ourselves when we feel inferior.  I have learned that my talents combined with an approachable personality can speak a lot for my work ethic and I (as well as you) should have confidence in those abilities and skills.

To me, giving a potential boss an elaborated response seems to be the opposite of transparent in an ever-evolving transparent industry. I certainly don’t want to revert to the “spin doctor” days. I want a company to hire me because of my creativity, personality and talent, which I do have, not because I was able to give perfectly contrived responses to a set of standardized interview questions.

Social Media Faux Pas

The other morning I decided to open up my splendid, shinny little box of instant goodness; otherwise known as TweetDeck. I was absent for weeks and was in need of some major catch up. It happened to be a perfect day for me to jump back in, and I will explain why.

The situation breakdown: I was reading the days tweets when one snagged my attention. The Tweet read @lulugrimm Great way to ensure I’ll never use your product… Pimping your company in a comment on my blog. Wow. I shot @Lulugrimm, Lisa Grimm, a tweet stating that I thought her phrase “Pimping your company” was awesome and her statement was indeed shocking; that people still don’t know how to engage. We continued to tweet back and forth for a while.  After our conversation, I felt somewhat obligated to write a blog post about the faux pas of social media engagement. Because apparently people are still uncertain of what is and what isn’t appropriate.

When, if ever, is appropriate to “pimp your company” on someone’s blog? Umm…NEVER!  Social media revolutionized this old school tactic, well ok it basically tossed it to the curb. Pushing your company on people, no matter how awesome it may be, no longer flies. This is especially true when the product does not relate to the topic of discussion.

If you are still unsure of how to get your message out to the world through social media here are a few suggestions to preventing you from making a social media faux pas. For a more in-depth description of online etiquette and social media interaction, check out my other posts about creating online communities and Developing Social Media Plans.

My suggestions:

  • If you want to reach key influentials and introduce them to your company, product, or message get involved with what they are talking about. Interact with them via social media, learn their interests and find what you have in common with them.
  • Don’t comment on a blog just to say great advice or nice post. Comment because you can add to the conversation, or explain how you gained value from the post. Oh yeah, and DON”T “pimp your company.”
  • Connect with your key influencers, audience on twitter as well as through blogs and other social media sites. Twitter can quickly reveal a person’s interests and areas in which you can relate and help build a relationship.

These are just a few recommendations for those who are still a little unsure about how to interact on social media. It’s all about relationships and sharing information, if you engage and interact there will be a time and a place to spread the word about your amazing product or organization: the time will come my friend, the time will come.

Also, please feel free to add to this list of suggestions I was just going through some basics but I know there are more out there.

Social Media Transparency

I have been absent for a few months now I know! Senior year has been busy, busy, busy. I just wanted to let you know that I have a guest post on the student run public relations agency blog, Allen Hall Public Relations. It is called Transparency is not the Exception, it’s the Rule. It is a follow-up to my previous transparency post to re-iterate the importance of being up-front and honest when using social media as a communication tactic.

I will be more present in the coming weeks, I promise.

Why Twitter Should Stick Around

twitter-hashcloudsOn August 19th I participated in a TweetChat with around 200 public relations professionals and fellow PR students. We tweeted back and forth over 900 times to #PRstudchat responding to six PR related questions. The moderator was Deirdre Breakenridge, or in this case @dbreakenridge, she is a PRo in the 2.0 realm, check her out! Another major contributor was Valerie Simon, @valeriesimon. Valerie is writing a six part blog series on the event revealing the best answers to the six questions …..

This was my very first TweetChat, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Overall, it was very informative and a new way of getting useful information quickly. One of the most useful aspects about the chat was the automatic links to material. Social media is allowing students to connect with some of the smartest, most influential professionals and have direct access to their knowledge. I think that this will revolutionize the way students respond and discuss in classrooms. In my Strategic Social Media class that I took with Kelli Matthews we frequently had “quest speakers.” I put quotes around that because the majority of the guests spoke to us over Skype; when we had Skype issues we would type questions into twitter so the speaker could still respond to our questions. We had the pleasure of speaking with Marcel Lebrun from Radian6, Kami Huyse from My PR Pro, and Paull Young of Converseon. Twitter allows pros, students and anyone interested to connect with millions of different people, gather them together to have an hour long discussion or debate, and talk about passions and professions all in 140 characters what’s not to love? I know there are Twitter haters out there but I am not one of them if you use it like I do, which is not to update you on when I am in the bathroom or grabbing a latte then it is awesome! Check out the next #PRstudchat on Sept. 16 at 12pm EST and 9am PST I suggest you all join in you can also join the linkedin group.

Q1: What kind of education does a PR person need to be successful?

The overwhelming response was to take business classes as well as a diverse range of courses like Psychology, sociology; have excellent communication skills; and get some real world experience.

Best responses are listed on Public Relations Examiner but I want to pull my favorites:

@Chrisjoneslehi: Understanding business is necessary, but PR is about transmission, not just understanding. Transmission=writing these days.

@sallyfalkow: A thorough understanding of communication and how people relate to each other.

(This is me)@Marlin23: I would say internships and mentors. In school you learn how to do things, internships teach you how things get done.

Q2: What are the best PR books and industry publications to read?

@RickOpp: PR 2.0, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, @ChrisBrogan’s new book “Trust Agents” getting a lot of good buzz.

@hdueitt: Staying up to date with all industry news is key to keeping up with trends. PR Daily, PR News, PR Week, Bulldog Reporter

@samemac: @TDefren ‘s blog PR Squared for SHIFT comm is one of the better blogs to read as an upcoming PR pro

@jodyrae: Bad Pitch Blog

Q3:Are there any other great networking sites besides Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook?

Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are great… but not the only places to network and engage with PR professionals

@BrettPohlman: Hands down PROpenMic.org. All PR students MUST be on this site. It’s a great way to get exposure to top PR Execs

@LadyMusic: PROpenMic on Ning, YoungPRPros on Yahoo, and look for social media networking events on Eventbrite or Going.com

Q4: What does a CEO look for in a PR hire?

@5W_PR: Passion, Confidence, Versatility, People Who Take Initiative to Learn & Develop

@rachelakay: I look for someone who has a passion for my clients, my company and who has done research. Do your homework!

@CTMichaels: Also, be prepared 2 start at the bottom. Showing motivation to move up & taking chances is huge in PR

@chrisjoneslehi:  This CEO looks for breadth of experience, service, and (you might have guessed) strong writing skills

@rachelakay: Highly recommend new hires connect with CEOs etc. on social networks and read their blogs and comment. I give priority to those

Do YOU Have What it Takes?

Kurt Jacobson, a mentor of mine, believes the best way to grow professionally is to discus the lessons and skills you learn on a weekly, or even daily basis. He often covers the topic of how professional and academic experiences differ: In school, professors teach how to do things, but in a professional atmosphere you learn how things get done. To prove this point he sent me an article by Art Petty “Leadership Caffeine: Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told me When I First Became a Leader” and wrote me a note:

“Even as an intern and a college student observing and practicing leadership skills is helpful. You seem to have a leadership drive. Interestingly, most people don’t feel comfortable or want to be leaders.  As I have said before, knowing how to do things will get you the job, whatever the job. But, it’s how things get done that will help you be a leader.” –Kurt Jacobson, JayRay, a communications consultancy

Question: How can you position yourself as a leader if you’re not in a leadership role (e.g. an intern)?

Just because you are not an executive in a company does not mean that positioning yourself as a leader is off limits. Stepping outside of the classroom and into the office building can be intimidating, but don’t let that be your weakness. Your first “real” job can offer you the chance to position yourself as a powerful influence and key player.

In order to become an asset to a company you have to demonstrate a level of confidence that exudes leadership. Taking a leadership role is easier to come by if you have an outgoing, charismatic personality, but that is not essential. What is essential, however, is that people trust you and are inspired by your vision.

Being a 20-something female with determination, passion and excitement for what’s ahead, I was drawn to an article in Forbes Women titled “Learning to be a Leader.” It talks about Niki Leondakis, COO of Kimptom Hotels, and her struggles to become a strong, female leader in a male-dominated department.

Leondakis says, “I could have accountability and tough-mindedness and still be compassionate, I could be successful and effective and still be me.” She describes her current leadership style as inclusive; a key word that frequently comes up in discussions about female leadership. The article suggests that women tend to be relational while men tend to be transactional. I agree with the article, which argues that in today’s society there is a greater need to build relationships. This means that those leadership roles are begging females to fill them.

I will leave you with some tips that Forbes Women argues will sharpen your leadership skills:

Be Self-Aware

Determine what your personality and motives for your behavior are so you can begin to influence other people—after all that is what you are trying to accomplish as a leader.

Make Sure Your Values Align

To be successful at leading, it is imperative to believe in the company you work for and what it stands for. Practice what you preach because most people don’t respond well to a hypocrite. If you are confident in yourself and in the company’s mission, people will take notice, latch on to your ideas, and follow your example.

Pay attention to how your company identifies success

Keep your eyes and ears open; observe how others take on leadership roles and try to take note of who is being rewarded and why. Don’t necessarily copy what they do, but learn from them and try to adapt a piece or portion of how they lead and come up with your own version.

Ask questions

“Women typically communicate ideas through examples and anecdotes, according to organizational development consultant Joni Daniels. If you’re having trouble getting your point across this way, try to ask questions in order to initiate a dialogue with colleagues.”

But don’t ask about “feelings”

Instead of asking your team how they feel about something, ask for their reactions, thoughts or observations. People tend to respond differently when they hear the word “feelings.” Instead, by asking for their reactions or thoughts you are more likely to get an honest response.

Find balance

“The most successful team or organization combines the stereotypical male and female traits,” Leondakis says. “You need that balance of the male and female energy.” Pay attention to your co-workers’ styles; choose team members that will complement you and try to adapt to complement them.

Listen to your team but don’t be afraid to make a decision

Women typically seek a consensual agreement from their teams, even if they know what decision they are going to make from the start. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut or stand up for your choices even if you can’t get everyone on board.

Related Articles

What is a Gen-Y Leader? by Tyler J. Durbin

What Gives You the Right to be a Young Leader? By Rebecca Thorman

What Makes a Dynamic Leader? By Larraine Segil

Spit it out!


Don’t be afraid to say stupid ideas because they might lead to a genius idea. One of the benefits of working at a combined advertising, design and pr agency is the creativity and artistic projects. There is a lot of brainstorming involved in advertising and design. On my first day, I was asked to join in on one of these sessions. I had no idea what to expect, so for the most part I just sat there and took it all in. They were throwing out all sorts of crazy ideas that didn’t make any sense to me, but I learned that not making sense didn’t really matter. One of the owners is really big on lessons and figuring out what we can take away from each client or situation. The lesson he repeats most often is you have to get the stupid ideas out in order to find the brilliant ones. He believes that you will spend more time trying to come up with just one brilliant idea than you would if each person could spit out 15 horrible ones and go from there.

During my time here I have learned that there are two different thinking processes: Creative and logistical. Planning a complex task for me is more difficult than figuring out the overall concept and tone of a project. I would much rather carry out the plan than be the one to write out every single detail. I love brainstorming, but I am not a huge fan of researching the small details. It has been exciting exploring a side of my brain that I honestly didn’t think existed. I always used to say that I didn’t have a artistic bone in my body, which is true when it comes to drawing, but my imagination is still pretty wild.

Overall, I have learned to just spit out the stupid ideas as long as you can give a brief description of where you were going with the idea people will respect it. It’s better to have a few stupid ideas that led to a brilliant one than it is to just sit there and add nothing to the meeting.

More interesting intern experiences to come…