Growth

Houston, Texas might not be the prettiest, coolest, or most fun town, but to me, it’s home. It’s where I was born and raised and where I have my roots. The idea of home has always been super important to me. Feeling comfortable and accepted is what always draws me back to my home roots. Even though I have found a new home at St. Edward’s in Austin, it’s a different kind of home. It is still a bit unfamiliar and new. Recently, I have discovered how exciting the unfamiliar and unknown can be.

A few weeks ago, my Aunt Jane was in town being honored as a 2011 University of Texas Distinguished Alum. I hadn’t seen her in maybe five years due to the fact that she lives in New York and was the editor in chief of a major magazine my entire life up until about two years ago. I had also never had the opportunity to spend so much time with her in such a context where I could learn from her many career and life experiences. She spoke to a few UT Journalism classes while she was in town and invited me to accompany her.  I absorbed everything she had to say and came out with a whole new perspective on how I should be preparing for my future.

Since coming to college, I felt like I was missing out on so many things going on at home when I was at school in Austin. So much that not going home during the summer was out of the question. I always had a job at a summer camp to come home to, my friends and family were there, and my life in Houston was always familiar and easy to slip back into.

One lesson I learned from my aunt seems so obvious now, but it hadn’t hit me until she started talking about how she ended up where she is today. My aunt seemed to be constantly saying yes to new opportunities and challenges over the years. She didn’t stay where she was comfortable. This is how she went from being the oldest of five in small town Texas to an editor-in-chief in big city New York. What if she had said no to going to New York on a whim with a friend? What if she stuck to being a health editor and didn’t take on the challenge of adding beauty and fashion? What if I go home next summer and do the same thing I did last year? What will I learn from being comfortable?

I need to open my eyes, branch out, and be proactive about my future. Home is definitely not out of the question this summer because Houston has a lot to offer, but so does Austin, New York, Arizona and more. I have chosen not to limit myself and to be open to any opportunity.

This lesson doesn’t just apply to life, but to industries especially the PR industry. Having an open mind leads to creativity and the courage to be open minded is a major trait one needs to be in the PR industry. Culture, technology, PR,  and the way people communicate is not just changing, it is growing because people are taking risks and grabbing at opportunity.

I don’t simply what to change, I want to grow.

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Listening with SocialMention.com

I thought I was familiar with  social media and knew what services and websites were available. I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, WordPress, Google, Skype, Pinterest, and more. Then, I checked out the Conversation Prism made by Brian Solis and Jess3.

Wow, I know about only a small fraction of social media, but I am determined to learn more. It was so hard to pick which one to start with. I chose Socialmention.com in light of my recent blog post about listening. Because listening is such a vital part of Public Relations, Socialmention.com is a great tool to listen to what is being said about your company on social media sites.

Socialmention.com is similar to Google Alerts, but specifically looks through more than 100 social media sites. Basically, you type in your company, brand, name, or whatever you want to monitor, pick the types of sites or specific social media sources you want to search (unless you want to search everything), and a few seconds later, the latest social media mentions are brought up in chronological order.

One of the coolest feature is a side bar that gives you of a statistical break down of the mentions your search is receiving such as positive/negative feedback ratio, top keywords used, and the top sources used to mention.

You can also track mentions automatically and analyze them them with Socialmention.com

I will definitely be using this tool in the future.

Passion=Career

There’s this question I get asked frequently by family, friends, co-workers, strangers, etc. I used to not like it because I didn’t know how to answer it. I’m sure you might have gotten it before. It’s the, “What are you going to do with your degree?” question. I have mentioned in a previous post that I became a Communication major for some pretty lame reasons (I liked working with people and everyone needs communication skills). Two years can teach a person a lot about who they are and what they are passionate about. I love answering this question now because I get to talk about something I am passionate about: Youth Ministry (Catholic Youth Ministry, more specifically).

Youth Ministry in the Catholic faith is important. The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry’s website says, ” The church must become the traveling companion of young people—and that is what we mean by youth ministry. If, indeed, ‘it takes an entire village to raise a child,’ then it certainly takes an entire church to journey with young people as they grapple with the Good News and respond in discipleship.”

I am who I am today because of Catholic Youth Ministry. I have seen its benefits first hand not only in me but for other young people looking for a purpose and looking for love.

Now, how can I use my degree in Communication to pursue a career in Youth Ministry? Well, Youth Ministry is not just about the relational aspect of ministering. There is a ton of behind the scenes work that goes into good Catholic Youth Ministry. This is where I want to be involved. I love the relational ministry part, but I am more interested in supporting others who have a real gift for it. My dream job is to work for a Youth Ministry program such as Life Teen. I honestly don’t know specifically what I want to do, but I do want to be a part of the mission to lead teens closer to Christ in whatever capacity I can.

Being a Communication major with a focus in PR and minor in Religious and Theological Studies seems to be a good fit for this future career. No matter what, I believe I have passions for a reason, and I am going to pursue them.

PR is for Listeners

It should be common sense that Public Relations is a type of communication, and communication is a two-way street according to the Shannon and Weaver Model of Communication.

This would mean in order for Public Relations to be true communication, there must be some feedback. What makes good Public Relations is how much this feedback is listened to.

Social media has become a huge tool for organizations wanting to listen. From Twitter and Facebook to blogs and webpages, Public Relations professionals are taking advantage of the ability to hear what their publics are saying.

Maria Ogneva, Head of Community at the enterprise social network “Yammer,” has 10 Steps for Successful Social Media Monitoring. She notes that effective listening involves strategy and planning.

Another blog post from early this year covering the “Pay Attention! Social Listening Done Right” panel at this year’s Social Media Week in New York also engages in conversation about listening in PR.

Know matter how you are listening, though, it is simply important that you ARE listening.

Five and a half weeks in

Well, here we are, October 4, 2011, five and a half weeks through this PR class and here is what I have learned:

1) Talking about either Facebook or Twitter in every class affirms my choosing to study Communication. (Sorry Chemistry, you aren’t social enough for me)

2) I am not addicted to Facebook and Twitter. I simply believe in its usefulness and am not alone in this belief. Twitter and Facebook are changing the PR industry for the better.

3) PR is more than sending out press releases.

4) Reading Ragan’s PR Daily everyday is more enjoyable than reading the New York Times everyday. (Yes, I used to think I wanted to go into Journalism)

5) The PR industry should not be taken lightly. A lot of hard work and creativity is required to be successful in this field.

6) I need an internship…now.

7) I still have a lot to learn.

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