Our One-Year Anniversary!


It has officially been one year (plus a little) since we started “Masters of What?” Does everyone remember our first post? It seems like just yesterday, but at the same time a lot has happened since then. Here’s a recap of our exciting year:

Nicole:

So much has changed for me in the last year. Soon after we started the blog a year ago, I spent six weeks in Michigan for the Grunig PRIME Fellowship. In the past year, I also completed my thesis, officially earned my master’s, started another fellowship and made the biggest decision of my life–choosing a doctoral program. A year ago I really didn’t know what I was going to do after my MA. A Ph.D. was always a goal, but I definitely didn’t know where or when. Now here I am with only a month left in San Diego, preparing to move to Lubbock, TX to attend Texas Tech. It’s definitely been an exciting year and who knows what the next three years in Texas will hold. One thing I do know, is that my life is going to be very busy as I begin to teach my own classes, take my first doctoral-level classes and do lots and lots of research. Because of the new direction my life is taking, I won’t be contributing to “Masters of What?” on a regular basis moving forward. Blake will keep things up and I hope to write a post every now and then!

Blake:

This year flew by. I feel like I don’t even know what to say happened! Right after starting the blog and finishing grad school I celebrated with a great group of girls with a silly Vegas trip. Upon returning, I was working at a non-profit that aids small businesses and hoping to make some changes there – however, as is typical with anything that is government funded change came pretty slow – along with a cutting of my hours. Luckily for me, right around the same time an agency that I had previously interned at was looking for social media intern. After a few months of rushing between two part-time jobs I was offered my super sweet dream job. Since then I’ve been trying to wrap my head around Nicole leaving, I mean we’ve been besties for 20+ years and have been hanging out in the same city for 6 years now. One thing I do know is that without her regular blogging support Masters of What will probably continue on much more sporadically than it previously has…but don’t worry, I’ll still be around :)

Now, to ease our sorrows, we’ll leave you with a slideshow of some of the things we’ve done over the past year:

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Ad-Ventures with Instagram Video


I’m pretty sure you’ve heard by now that Instagram now supports video clips…if not, well, they do, update your app. Of course when the news broke I was at work – but, plus side of working in social media at a super fun company? You immediately spend an hour making silly videos and then writing a blog post about it…

Just a few weeks ago Vine announced their move to Android and witnessed the sharing of its videos on Twitter surpass shares of tweets linking to Instagram (2.86 million vs. 2.17 million)…Read more over at Red Door Interactive.

IG video

Young Professional Series: Anton Perreau


For this young professional interview, we’ve added a little twist. Anton lives and works in London, so this is our international edition! I met Anton as an undergrad at San Diego State where he completed part of his degree. We met at a PRSSA event and became friends immediately. Following his time at SDSU, Anton continued living in Southern California to to fulfill an internship with LEWIS PR in San Diego, after which he returned to London Photo 01-12-2012 03 50 31 PMto finish his degree while working for a British PR agency. Personally, I’m hoping that some American will sweep him off his feet so he comes back to the U.S. and I’ll have my friend back :)

Now, to the interview:

Tell me a little about your current position?

I currently work as a Senior Account Executive for Battenhall – we’re a Brand Communications agency consisting of around eight people, founded as a start-up by Drew Benvie, former UK CEO of Hotwire and founder of 33 Digital. I work with emerging and global brands to help them engage with influencers and journalists alike.

What drew you to a career in public relations?

I enjoy bringing my own ideas to life, and I have some pretty whacky ideas – PR enables me to work whilst channeling all these ideas into creative projects. I’m a big fan of reading and writing, two very important elements of the communications world.

I also love connecting people – not like a matchmaker, but to show people amazing companies, doing cool stuff and, in turn, to learn what people really want from that lovemark brand. I guess to add to all this stuff, I’ve developed a knack of accurately and concisely getting a point across, the way we use words, connotations, sentences and grammar is the most important way to communicate, that actually excites me. What a dork I am…whatever.

How did your time in the US help your career?

Most basically, it’s a conversation starter – it gets a foot in the door and international companies like the idea that someone knows colourful new things about the world around them.

Working and studying in different countries evidently shows that you’ve been exposed to cultural differences as well as the complex bureaucratic procedures around the world – this matters in the world of work. It’s also character building, I know I developed a lot as a person since I moved to the USA with no perspective, local friends or definite plan.

Being a well-rounded individual shows potential employers and clients that you have the ability to ‘make do’ in difficult situations, independently, and come back with solutions not problems.

What are some of the differences between working in the UK and US?

The first thing is the media: It turns out that many verticals are much more over-saturated in the US than the UK – this doesn’t mean they’re more receptive to your pitch though.

America is very geo-centric, what i mean is that in the UK all or most of our work is based around national campaigns and projects, after all our population is barely 63 million – a fifth the size of the USA. In the US however, much of the work we did focused on Southern California.

The last, and most important difference is general hours, American’s work long hours and take short vacations, in the UK our working day usually starts around 9:00am and finishes around 5:30pm. it’s also perfectly normal for people in the UK to take two or three weeks off work to go abroad each year.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to fellow new pros?

Be that kid in the office or classroom that DOES stuff – small or big, it doesn’t matter if you fail, they’re not called ‘challenges’ for nothing. Failure is the best ingredient for your greatest success. Turn every ‘what if’ into something you actually DID and if it takes under two minutes, do it now.

Keep up with Anton on Twitter or learn more about him here!

Book Review: The Power of Habit


Since starting grad school, I haven’t read for pleasure much, but this summer had granted me some much appreciated free time and my boyfriend recommended I read “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. After he shared a bit of what it was about, I knew he was right.

etc_stack12__01inline__202The book somehow blends marketing, sociology and self-help seamlessly into a series of interconnected stories and anecdotes that make this book impossible to put down. Duhigg discusses habits of individuals, organizations and societies. He explains where habits come from, the components of a habit and how to reform them. While the book itself is easy to read, my academic side was satisfied with the abundance of citations! I feel like Duhigg really did his research and if I questioned any of his statements, I could easily flip back and see where he got his information.

Understanding habits isn’t only useful on a personal level (and trust me, you will see habits in every part of your life after this book), but it is also useful for communicators. Duhigg provides helpful insights about how people make decisions, and shares several case studies about how companies use this information.

Just for Fun


We’re taking the week off. No, we don’t have our normal brilliant advice or insightful story. Instead, we have something way better. Fun, funny and/or just plain random YouTube videos!

Do you have any crazy videos you’ve found online? Share them with us!

Staying Motivated at Work


Get Back To Work

Nobody likes to admit it, but there are sometimes moments in an office job when you just aren’t motivated. I’m not talking about days on end (because then maybe you should look for a new job), I’m talking about that afternoon lull where you just don’t feel like working or you are in the middle of a project that doesn’t particularly interest you. It doesn’t mean that you are a horrible employee or hate your job, it just means you need a little boost to help you feel refreshed, motivated and inspired. Here’s what we came up with or have learned from others to help us get the work churning out again:

  1. Mix it up. If you have more than one project you are working on, try going back and forth between things to keep it fresh and to avoid getting bored filling out that content calendar. But, don’t go too crazy switching around, remember that your output needs some consistency.
  2. Change scenery. Sometimes a change of location is just what you need for inspiration. If your work allows it, try working from the coffee shop down the street, outside, or even the conference room. It might help jolt you out of that “blah” you’re feeling.
  3. Take a break. It probably depends on your office rules and culture, but there’s nothing wrong with getting up to stretch, taking a walk to grab coffee or even distracting yourself for a few minutes with some personal Facebook time, online shopping, or my personal favorite, BuzzFeed.
  4. Chat with a coworker/peer. We’ve all hit the afternoon hum-drum so talk it out with someone! Turn to the person next to you or even open up an IM system and (depending on the work at hand) ask for a bit of help, talk about different strategies, or simply ask about their weekend plans. Sometimes, us communicators need to remember to communicate!
  5. Challenge yourself. Maybe this won’t work for all tasks, but for a lot of things we do on a regular basis, we get used to the status quo. Press releases, social media posts, media pitches, etc. can all become formulaic if you let them. Challenge yourself to try something new, be creative and try to make the best _______ you ever have.

I feel like these apply to writing lit reviews or grading papers, too. Any other tricks we should know about?

Ice Cream Party!


A few weeks ago, Nicole wrote about the fantastic social media and on-the-ground efforts of American Airlines when she left her wallet on a plane. I thought I would follow her awesome social media effort post with one of my own.

On April 16th a coworker told some of my team about the Ben & Jerry’s truck that was roaming around San Diego delivering free ice cream until the end of April. Obviously, getting this truck to stop by our office became my live’s priority at the time and I started Tweeting my pleas.

Begging for free ice cream on TwitterFriend Sarah also heard of the awesome ice cream giveaway and we teamed up to get the truck to Downtown San Diego, figuring it could hit both our offices in one day. You can image my intense excitement when only 3 days after my first tweet  (ok, I admit I posted a few more tweets & retweets in that period) I received this message:

I'm getting free ice cream!At this point I’m thinking free ice cream from a fun mini delivery truck is a 100% sure thing. Sadly, April came and went with no little blue truck pulling up to our office. Sarah, unfortunately, also missed out on the frozen, creamy goodness and let me know on Twitter.Complaining on Social MediaYes, yes, my last Tweet there may have been a little over the top but…it got the job done. Within minutes I had a DM waiting for me asking for my company’s address and how many people we had in our office.

Ben & Jerry's RocksA few days after that and Sarah and I both had 10 – oh yes, 10 coupons for free pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Do you know what that lead to? AN ICE CREAM PARTY! I went and redeemed every one of those coupons for a variety of flavors, including some of their delish frozen greek yogurt flavors, and had a little party in the office. It may not have been as fun as delivery truck pulling up (and definitely more messy) but in the end Ben & Jerry’s made me a super happy-camper.

Yummy Ben & Jerry's

And, FYI, if you’re in the Los Angeles area @BenJerrysWest will be serving your area through the end of May – get Tweeting!

PRSA Interview


UnknownEach month PRSA San Diego interviews one of its members to be featured on its website and share about their professional experience. This month, I was lucky enough to be asked to participate and had the opportunity to share more about my experience with the research side of public relations.

Check out my interview here.

My Jet-Setting Wallet


On March 10, I was flying home from Miami where I attended the International Public Relations Research Conference. I was tired and hungry, so I decided to order some food. I gave the American Airlines flight attendant my credit card and then put it back in my wallet when she returned it. At that point, I believe I left my wallet on my lap, unable to maneuver around my food, drink and tray table to return it safely to my purse. After my sandwich, I took a nap and woke up in San Diego. I didn’t think about my wallet until the next morning when I was getting ready for work and panic set in. I knew exactly what happened.

Over the next few weeks I made a lot of calls and online requests to the lost and found and baggage claim at Lindbergh Field and Dallas Fort Worth (where my plane had headed back to). Also, like any PR practitioner I know, I tweeted about it and included American Airlines’ handle. Now, let me tell you, the social media team at AA is awesome (or they were to me). They responded immediately and made me feel like someone was doing something to help.

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And then the DM conversation went like this…

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Weeks passed by and I replaced my credit cards and driver’s license and lost hope of ever seeing my wallet again. But, I felt like my concerns were heard and I didn’t harbor any feelings of ill will toward AA. I mean, it wasn’t their fault I left my wallet behind and they did try to locate it. Then, on Tuesday (as in 50 days later), I received a package in the mail from AA. It was my wallet and a handwritten note from Mac in baggage claim at DFW: “Please call me when you get this.” My gift cards were stolen, but most everything else was intact. I let Mac know and of course, I tweeted about it. And of course, AA replied.

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What to Post: Social Media During a Crisis


No matter where you were last week you felt the effects of the tragedies in Boston and West. You didn’t have to have someone you knew running in marathon or living in Texas, once you heard the news life seemed to stop. But, fortunately, and unfortunately, the Internet and social media don’t stop.
There were some fantastic online and social media efforts on the part of the Boston Police Department (@Boston_Police) who kept the public up to date with correct information and by dispelling any rumors and hearsay about the investigation, and Google who announced their Person Finder to help those in distress find their loved ones. And, of course there were also those social faux pas, mostly caused by scheduled posts that weren’t turned off (like Kim Kardashian’s).
Kim Kardashian Tweet
So, what should you do and keep in mind while posting on social media during a crisis? We’ve compiled a few best practices:
  • Stay current and knowledgeable on all current events (which should not only be during a crisis, but at all times while working in social).
  • STOP all scheduled posts IMMEDIATELY. No one wants to hear your brand’s message at this time and online viewers will be ultra sensitive (rightly so) to any posts that are out of place or are even relatively “pitchy.”
  • Offer to help. But only if you actually have the ability to offer valuable assistance that could truly and positively affect someone. Heck, a simple Google Drive Doc gave hope to many people in Boston.
  • Offer condolences. But don’t feel the need to have to post. You want your voice to remain authentic and real, don’t just become one of the crowd due to obligation. Your readers should know your brand’s tone and know it came from the heart.
  • Go dark. There’s nothing wrong with saying nothing if you have nothing to say – sometimes tragedy is too much and there’s nothing you can do to address it.

Social Media Today Tweet