New Pros Summer Book Club – Social Pollination

Welcome to the first installation of PRSA’s New Pros Summer Book Club. Over the next three months we’ll be discussing and reviewing books that will help you succeed as a pr new professional.

The New Pros recently had an opportunity to interview Monica O’Brien, the author of “Social Pollination” about digital media and how her book can help you. Read our interview with O’Brien, and check back next week for our review of her book.

New Pros (NP):Tell us a little about yourself. Where did your passion for digital media come from?

Monica O’Brien (MO): I spent about 5 years, starting my senior year of college, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. In search of “the answer,” I learned an extremely valuable lesson: Every single person has a skill set that is valuable. I don’t mean this in the Kumbaya way, like we should appreciate all of God’s children. I mean that everyone has a skill set of things they enjoy doing­—a skill set that people are willing to pay for.

So why isn’t everyone doing a job they love then? One word: Marketing! People don’t know how to package and distribute their skill set into a product or service that people are willing to pay for. Even when they get past that step, they then don’t know how to find their target customers effectively and affordably. My book helps people and companies do this using digital media.

NP: Your book helps businesses leverage their social media presence, how can your advice be translated to personal social media use?

MO: Every person is selling something. You may be trading your time and skill set to a company for monetary value as an employee, but you are still selling. Consider yourself a small business of one to take advantage of the information in the book.

NP: You write about the psychology of online sharing. More specifically you talk about whether information is important enough to share. Gen Y’ers often over share. What advice would you give to Gen Y’ers so this doesn’t happen?

MO: Two things:

  • Despite privacy settings solutions online, you should always be careful with what you say. Very obvious, but for some reason people don’t get it! So do a quick check: write a list of topics you wouldn’t want your boss or your grandma to hear you talk about. Do you share this information online anyway, even behind privacy settings?
  • Look around you and see what pointless stuff other people are sharing. Do you care if someone is at the airport three states over, heading to another airport 12 states over? Probably not. Do you care what people ate for lunch? Only if they provide a yummy picture and a recipe. Watch others to know when you annoy people. And accept that no matter what you do, you will annoy someone anyway.

NP: Do you have any advice for new professionals who are looking to break into digital media?

MP: Sure! Before getting on Twitter or even starting a blog, you should learn the logistics of how to inspire people in your every day life. You should also learn how a movement is started, because that’s what you are trying to do online. I have links to two TED videos to watch: Simon Sinek on How Great Leaders Inspire and Derek Sivers on How to Start a Movement. Once you are done watching these, you can learn the technical logistics of breaking into digital media from my book.

Special thank you goes to O’Brien for taking the time to chat with PRSA. You can purchase “Social Pollination” on or Barnes & Noble. Check back next week for our review of her book, but in the mean time here are a few discussion questions to get you thinking.  Feel free to post your responses in the comment section.

1)   What social tools are you currently using to promote yourself online?

2)   In your opinion, what do you consider to be too much sharing online?

3) O’Brien says before you get started online, you should learn the logistics of how to inspire. How do you inspire people in your life?