Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Networking as a “Young Professional” January 27, 2013

NetworkingAwkward. That should actually be the title of this post because there is no better way to truly describe the art of networking. During my job hunt, my dad always pushed me to “ask if they want to meet for coffee” and I always replied, “Dad, I don’t LIKE coffee!” Obviously, the coffee wasn’t the point, but I was so deathly afraid of meeting strangers and asking them for help that I thought my dislike of coffee could be my escape.

Like all children, I regretfully write these words: my dad knew what he was talking about. *Shudders*

The thing is, no one else is looking out for you except you. You have to be the one to reach out to others and ask for their help because how else will they know you need it? I’ve been on several meet and greets that were horribly nerve-wrecking, but once there, definitely not awkward. Everyone has done it and everyone is willing to help (including me, so ask away).

I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, in which he describes people that are good at networking as “connectors.” These connectors are relationship builders and have friends, or rather, acquaintances, in every corner of their life. I’ve also been watching a lot of Downton Abbey recently and would call the entire Crawley family connectors. If they wanted William in the tipping point hospital they simply went through their list of acquaintances to find someone that knew someone that knew someone who can get him in despite the hospital initially telling them no. They’re connectors.

Networking and connecting do not end once you find a job. Connectors are people that network for the fun of it, with no purpose in mind, that’s not to say it doesn’t come in handy in the future. Connectors simply enjoy meeting people and are enlightened by the variety of personalities and stories they encounter. Networking and connecting are not skills that go away when you find your dream job. It’s something that will (or should) follow you through your life.

I am the only person in my company that is in charge of creating our social media plan and have been appointee as the “expert”.  The pressure of that expectation mounds daily with the inconsistency and ever-changing world of social media. It’s hard to keep up and know what the best online strategy is for our company with no other social media focused people to brainstorm with. To overcome this challenge, I realize the need to network and ask questions with others in my field. What a relief it was to find groups like Indy Social Media and Indy Social Talk that I can ask for help and learn from.

I already admitted to being a big chicken when it comes to this sort of thing, so don’t be fooled into thinking signing up for those meetings and walking in to meet a group of strangers was easy. It wasn’t. But it does continue to get easier and I don’t feel like I am on a digital marketing island all alone anymore.

My New Year’s resolution was to step out of my comfort zone and meet people. It’s a big deal for me to practice these networking skills because it is so much easier to go about my day saying hello to people without building relationships, but it’s amazing how much more enriched my life is by learning more about those people I am surrounded by.

I encourage you to give it a try. Set a goal to be a connector and take an interest in everyone. You can even start with me by commenting!


Don’t make the QR code fail list March 6, 2012

Oh how I love Yesterday, Mashable published an article titled “10 Funniest QR Code Fails,” a shortened version of the website WFT QR Codes. As both titles suggest, the article and website poke fun of the way people and companies use QR codes. Often, the strategies are not fully thought through.

About a year ago, I wrote a blog about QR codes.This was the first time I had ever been exposed to them and I wanted to learn more about them and how they were going to be applied in the future. In full disclosure, I was required to blog about industry news for my class, and my classmates were required to comment on each others’ blogs, but looking back, just one year later, it’s quite humorous to see how far QR codes have come! Here are some comments from my classmates as we first discovered QR codes:

As a class full of seniors, we were obviously fixated on the potential for QR codes helping us get jobs. They are still a great tool for networking and showing your knowledge of technology, but QR codes have become so much more than just a square with your email attached to it, as evidence by the WTF QR Codes website.

Marketers want to put QR codes everywhere. I actually had the experience of witnessing one of the fail images right near my home! The Air Force Reserve’s billboard had great placement- on a road off the highway and near a shopping plaza; however, the fact that it had a QR code was just asking for an accident to occur. Here is the image:

By the time you realize there is a QR code on the billboard, pull out your phone and open the application that reads QR codes, you have already crashed or driven past the billboard.

The key to QR codes is not to use them wherever possible because you feel you have to. I remember in my advertising class everyone tried to implement them into campaigns because it was the new thing, but a smart advertiser must consider:

1. Am I endangering my target audience by requesting them to use my QR code? (See above image.)
2. Will any one see this QR code? (WTF QR Codes shows some in areas that do not have cell service or are on top of buildings!)
3. Does my QR code offer new and important information? (Why would someone click on the QR code? Is there a coupon or exclusive content?)
4. Does a QR code fit with the nature of my product? (Don’t embarrass your consumers by making them scan a QR code to find out information about bed bugs!)
5. Is my QR code actually scannable? (The QR code shouldn’t be a moving target!)
6. Can the QR code be replaced by a hyperlink? (If you are online, using your phone to scan a code is far more work than clicking on a link.)
7. Does your audience know how to scan a QR code? (Chances are, older demographics do not.)

QR codes have great potential, but there has to be more work for consumers to fully understand how to use them and marketers to use them appropriately. We consumers can cope with the fact that there is not an opportunity to scan a QR code at the dinner table. Relax.

Before jumping on the QR code band wagon for a future campaign, think about the strategy, placement and value of your QR code. It’s great to indulge in the newest form of marketing, but it hurts to be included on “10 QR Code Fails”.

For more QR code hits and misses, read my earlier blog from Ozarks News Journal and check out Planned Parenthood’s #Wherediduwhereit campaign featuring QR coded condoms!


QR Codes: Scannable business cards November 13, 2010

A few weeks ago in our Missouri State chapter of PRSSA our executive board was really excited about something called a QR Code and how it can make your networking life a breeze. Lost? I was. Time to rewind and research.

A QR Code looks like a complicated maze  and serves as a unique link to information, a video or website.

According to Mobile-Barcodes, “The acronym QR is derived from the term Quick Response. The company Denso Wave originally spawned the term QR as the creator intended that such barcodes and their contents were to be decoded at high-speed electronically.”

A QR Code is similar to the bar codes you find on products at stores because both barcodes because stored information can be retrieved by scanning/ taking a picture with your phone.

Consider a QR Code like a hyperlink on the Internet, but is a 2D picture that can be put on a tangible item you can hold outside of the online world. For instance, a movie poster QR Code would show a movie trailer when scanned.

Other ways companies and people are using QR Codes is to link to a website, coupon, video or contact information. As a student beginning to network for jobs, I found the vCard especially interesting.

A vCard is a QR Code that stores all of your contact information. To create one using Nokia, it asks for your name, phone number, organization, email, title, address and website. This is an excellent and creative way to create a business card because you can store the image to your computer and print it on a business card to hand out.

I am definitely learning as I write this blog, but as far as I can tell, a QR Code and vCard can be stored as text, immediately as a contact, as the website or as an image depending on the application the person you are sending it to has to read it.

Mobile Barcodes has an excellent comparison list of QR Code readers that you can explore to find the best one for your needs. While some are free, there are others that cost anywhere from $.99-$2.99.

vCards and QR Codes can be printed on stickers, t-shirts, business cards or anything you can imagine. I can definitely see this trend picking up in the next few months as more people begin to use it. If businesses begin engaging their audience with QR Codes it will grow immensely. For now, I am still learning and wishing I had a phone with this capability.

Here is a video example of how this all comes together:

Would you use a QR Code?

Find out more:

Here are a few resources I found useful during my quick research for this blog:

Fun fact: Thanksgiving break begins in one and a half weeks.


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