Leave Your Mark: A Book Review

Reading “Leave Your Mark” was like having a chat with the career mentor I always wanted, the kind of book I wish existed when I was in college.

Leave Your Mark: A Book ReviewDescribed as a career mentorship in a book, Aliza Licht takes readers on a tour of her career – from majoring in neurobiology in college to being SVP of Global Communications for Donna Karan International, while sprinkling invaluable nuggets of advice throughout her story.

DKNY PR Girl revolutionized the way brands use social media and Aliza Licht’s ideas and advice could very well change the way we young professionals use social media professionally – to search for jobs, too reach out to brands and pros we admire and to build our own personal brands. There’s so much to learn from her experiences whether you have a passion for fashion or not.

Unlike other career books out there, “Leave Your Mark” isn’t a how-to book. Reading it won’t tell you how to complete a particular task during your career or explain a certain trend in our industry. It’s not a textbook, but it’s something every aspiring, young and seasoned PR professional should read and keep on their bookshelves.

Aliza breaks down the book into sections on finding your dream career path, crafting the perfect resume and cover letter, getting the most out of an internship, nailing interviews, promotions and raises, getting ahead, handling a difficult boss or trouble coworker, using social media to your advantage and building your own personal brand.

Among the many gems she shares, these are the five best tips I found in “Leave Your Mark.”

  1. You reap what you sow.

Early on, Aliza tells a story relayed to her from a colleague. Her colleague received an email from an acquaintance on behalf of her daughter. Daughter wasn’t involved in the conversation at all – never even bothered to email herself. She didn’t get a job with the company, of course. The moral of this story is that you’ll only benefit from the work that you put in. If you’re not willing to put in the effort to find or get the job, it won’t be yours.

  1. Attention to detail is important no matter the job.

The most important thing you can do when applying for a job or internship is to pay attention. Applications have instructions, whether you’re applying online, via social media or the old fashioned way, and if you can’t follow whatever instructions were set, your application won’t even make it to the hiring manager’s desk. Same for spelling, grammar and, the worst offense of all, addressing it to the wrong person. The devil is in the details.

  1. Leverage your existing network in the job hunt.

Cold calls don’t really do much for anyone really. Aliza makes this point by saying that those who contact a potential new place of employment themselves are at a disadvantage and telling her own story of securing her first job at DKNY. She had heard of an opening at DKNY and asked an editor friend of hers to reach out and recommend her, which made DKNY seek her out. This can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re trying to relocate as you may not have connections in your new home, but when possible, it’s always the best way to go.

  1. Social media isn’t personal anymore.

We may love to use social media to share photos of our favorite meals or to live-tweet our favorite TV shows (excuse me while I blow up everyone’s Twitter feeds on Thursday nights. You can thank Shonda Rimes), but social media isn’t personal for PR pros. Your social media accounts are a virtual resume, whether you like it or not, and it’s important to make sure that you’re not costing yourself a job because of your affinity for oversharing or less-than-ideal after-work behavior.

  1. The best brand you can build is you.

The biggest thing I took away from “Leave Your Mark” were all of the great tips on building my own personal brand. Aliza shows through her own experience that building you is the most important thing you can do in your career. By working hard wherever you are, learning everything you can and always putting your best foot forward, you’ll build a great reputation for yourself that will precede you in your career.

RobynRobyn Rudish-Laning is a graduate of Duquesne University, with a bachelor’s in Public Relations, a master’s in Media Arts and Technology, and currently works as a PR Associate with Pretty Living PR, a boutique firm based in Pittsburgh. Find her on LinkedIn orTwitter or read her PR-focused blog

#ThrowbackThursday with Dave Kerpen

Editor’s note: This is the sixth post in our monthly #ThrowbackThursday series, which features a prominent, successful PR pro taking a look back and sharing tips from his/her days as a new pro.

Dave-KerpenFor many, starting your own business and writing your own book are just two “some day” goals on an aspirational list. For Dave Kerpen, they were both opportunities he jumped at in the face of fear.

Kerpen’s list of accomplishments is a pretty lengthy one – most notably including his best-selling book, “Likeable Social Media“, leading Likeable Media and Likeable Local. In honor of this month’s book review theme, we chat with the author about his journey.

Question 1: How did you know when it was the right time to start your own company and then go on to start your own book?

We all have lots of fear and a lot of people let that fear hold them back. I was just fortunate enough to have enough windows where I didn’t let that fear hold me back and just went for it. It’s funny because I talk to a lot of people every day and I often ask people, “Do you have a book to write? Do you have a book inside of you? Are you an entrepreneur?” And I’m amazed at how many people say yes. So then I say, “Well, what’s stopping you?” And they come up with a whole list of excuses. The bottom line is, we’re all held back by fear. The most successful people are the ones that choose to not let that fear hold them back at least once.

Question 2: What challenges have you had writing on social media since it is such an ever-changing industry?

It’s really hard since the publishing world has a lead-time of six months to a year. So by the time a book goes from submission manuscript to actual publication, it’s already out of date in many cases. In my books, I try to write more about timeless strategies and less about tactics and platforms since they change so often. Obviously, if a book is going to be useful it can’t be only strategies. There was some content in “Likeable Social Media” that was really irrelevant, which is why we wrote a second edition. It’s definitely a challenge for all social media and online marketing books because of how quickly the space changes.

Question 3: Where do you see the industry going in five or ten years, specifically with social media?

Social media is really no longer a distinct discipline; it’s part of what we do and part of our lives. You can call it a distinct discipline, you can call it a subset of PR, you can call it marketing, you can call it whatever you want, but it’s here to stay. Social media is so pervasive that it’s just going to be an accepted part of all of our jobs and business practices sooner or later.

Question 4: How do you keep your skills sharp?

I read a lot. I read more than I’ve ever read in my life thanks to social media and my mobile phone. I use LinkedIn publisher and Twitter to keep up with hundreds of sources that I track. I actually also read a lot of books – more business books than social media an online books. For social media content I read a lot of blogs and I’m fortunate to have my Likeable Local and Likeable Media team who write for the blogs. They both keep me on my toes which is something I’m proud of – I was able to start something that taught my team and now they’re also teaching me.

Question 5: What advice would you give to today’s young pros?

First, network by seeking and finding mentors. It’s easier now than ever to do that thanks to social media where you can literally get a hold of just about anyone on the planet. I’ve gotten connected with everyone from Miranda Cosgrove, who wished my daughter a happy birthday, to Ashton Kutcher, who we ended up doing some work with, to Cory Booker, who might be president one day. Go out there and connect and network with amazing people and mentors.

Second, read and write. It sounds really basic, but it’s true. The more you read and write, the smarter you’ll get and you’ll sharpen your skills. Too many people waste their time on stuff like TV. However, as good as reading is, writing is ten times better. Writing takes those ideas and forces you to synthesize them into something bigger.

Third, feel the fear and do it anyway. Courage is action in the face of fear. We all have fear; there’s nothing wrong with that. I hate when people tell me they’re not afraid – I’m afraid every day, but I still get up in the morning, and go to work, and take chances and go for it. That’s sort of what courage is and we all have it inside of ourselves. We can all take that fear, accept it and then be courageous and go for pursuing our dreams.

Dave Kerpen is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and most notably the CEO and Founder of Likeable Local, a social media software company serving thousands of small businesses. Kerpen also serves as  chairman and cofounder of Likeable Media, an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing agency.

As one of Entrepreneur’s top 10 up and coming leaders, Kerpen has been featured on CNBC’s “On the Money”, BBC, ABC World News Tonight, the Early Show, the New York Times and countless blogs. He has also keynoted at dozens of conferences across the globe including Singapore, Athens, Dubai, San Francisco and Mexico City.

Kerpen’s first book was a NY Times bestseller, “Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand and be Generally Amazing on Facebook and other Social Networks. His other books include Likeable Business, Likeable Leadership and his current project, The Art of People.

Kerpen is also a father of two beautiful girls and husband to his amazing business partner.

Book Review: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: Telling Your Story In A Noisy Social World

Training. It’s a part of an athlete’s life, but it’s also important to PR pros.
From newbies to veterans, we all need to train ourselves to be storytellers for our companies, our clients and even our personal brands, on all the right social networks.
jab jab right hook book reviewConferences are great for training, but if you’re on a tight budget, especially as a new PR pro, your best bet is to hit the books. Enter Gary Vaynerchuk and his third book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” which will train you how to tell your story in a noisy social world.
Vaynerchuk asks readers to consider “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” as a “training camp to prepare you to storytell on today’s most important social media sites.” 
The objective of great storytelling is to create outstanding content on the right platform, and he compares doing that to the sport of boxing (hence the jabs and right hook).
Key takeaways
I highlighted a lot of great points throughout my copy of the book, and the following three takeaways stood out to me most.
1. “Content is king, but context is God.” 
You can create really great content that is compelling, but if you put it out on the wrong platform—or it misses what a certain platform is all about—it won’t be the hit you expect it to be. And as Vaynerchuk points out, content for the sake of content is pointless.
2. “No matter who you are or what kind of company or organization you work for, your number-one job is to tell your story to the consumer wherever they are.” 
It could be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter , etc., but it is most likely that customers are on all three and even more than that. You need to make sure that your content is relevant to your customer on the platforms they utilize most.
3. “Skillful, native storytelling increases the likelihood that a person will share your content with a friend.” 
That increases your brand’s audience further and further. Shareable content makes your brand more memorable in the future and tells your story beyond your network of consumers.
Train by example
If you’re the typical new PR pro, you were probably a first adopter of many social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) that Vaynerchuk covers in “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”
You know the ins and outs of these sites. But don’t think that means this book isn’t relevant to you!
It is easy for brands to get in the grind of posting the same content to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (I’ve seen it happen before), but that way of promoting content is a great disservice for the very reason why context is so important.
The best way to complete the training that this book offers is to flip through to the “color commentary.” This is where he breaks social networks up by chapter and gives countless examples of good and bad content with screenshots of various campaigns.
Some will make you rethink your strategy, and others will make you cringe, asking “what were they thinking?!”
Do you believe in the power of storytelling and context? What do you consider to be the most important way to get your brand noticed?
Victoria BepplerVictoria Beppler is a graduate of Waynesburg University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations as well a Master of Business Administration in Market Development. She currently manages social media, email marketing, the annual fund and more for her alma mater as the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations. When she isn’t in the office or traveling to alumni events around the country, you can find her working on a DIY project or hanging out with her husband, Josh, and their dog, Brinkley. Connect with Victoria on Linkedin and Twitter (@victoriabeppler).

June 2015 #NPPRSA Twitter Chat HIghlights: Pitching With Purpose

June recap picWe’d like to thank everyone who participated in the June #NPPRSA Twitter chat to discuss media relations best practices. We would especially like to thank Mallory Musante, Social Media Manager for Media Maison.

Join us again on July 15 for our next #NPPRSA chat and stay up-to-date with PRSA New Professionals on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Review highlights of the chat below. What did you learn from the June chat? How can you strengthen your relationships with the media?

You can receive FREE New Professionals Section membership for PRSA by using code AM15!

Lauren Loxterman is the PRSA New Professionals Social Media Co-Chair and Co-Founder of Soversity, a public relations and digital marketing company. You can connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Between You & Me: Book Review

As public relations pros, we often forget to refine our grammar in communication, and instead focus on mastering new pitching techniques or simply creating content.

Between You & Me: Book ReviewStrong writing starts with grammar though, and reading “Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen,” by Mary Norris, is a painless, enjoyable way to review grammatical rules.

In her book, Norris–a former copy editor at the New Yorker–writes about her many years editing, while sprinkling in in actual grammar lessons and tying in short memoirs of her life. After reading the book, I was surprised to realize that I hadn’t reviewed some of the rules of grammar since learning them in junior high English!

Below are five of my favorite fun facts and rule reminders from the book:

  • Danglers: the dangling participle. Everyone has written a sentence with a dangler, which can be fixed by changing the subject of the sentence to match the participle or giving the participle its own phrase
  • “Who” does not change to “whom” just because it’s in the middle of a sentence
  • Serial comma: the one before “and” in a series of three or more things
  • The editors of Webster’s Third dictionary saved 80 pages by cutting down on commas
  • Copy editors will never be replaced, unless spell-check learns to recognize context

Each chapter is as cleverly named like the book title, such as “Comma Comma Comma Chameleon” and “A Dash, a Semicolon, and a Colon Walk into a Bar.”

For not being a history-buff myself, I found myself interested in learning how the different pieces of language came to be.

As the New York Times book review says, copy editors’ “obsessions, typographical and otherwise, make hilarious reading.” I would have to agree! Part linguistics, part grammar, part history and part memoir, Norris will captivate you with her book.

Hanna PorterfieldHanna Porterfield is the Newsletter Co-Chair of PRSA’s New Professionals section and an Assistant Account Executive at Development Counsellors International. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 and is actively involved in the alumni club’s New York chapter. Connect with Hanna on LinkedIn and Twitter (@citygirlhanna).