professional development…Why do we blog by Courtney Vaught

A good friend of mine sent me an article. Although my friend had no intention of giving me ideas for this blog post or motivation to start my own, she did. The article was called How to Network in a New City by Matt Cheuvront who writes the blog Life Without Pants. In the article, Matt wrote on the topic of blogging:

“Seriously, just do it. Don’t worry about defining yourself, don’t worry about establishing a niche from the get-go. Just write…and you’ll undoubtedly meet some amazing people (and might even make a few friends) along the way.”

According to The Future Buzz blog, 133 million blogs have been indexed by Technorati since 2002 and 77 percent of all one billion active Internet users read those blogs (Internet World Stats). Whether the just do it motto or the impressive stats motivate you, it’s safe to say that blogging is here to stay and it is certainly worth getting in the game if you’re not already in it.

I found a few considerations for blogging that are useful to blogger veterans and virgins alike. One consideration is the marketability a blog can create for you. While I am proud to say that there are many qualified fellow new PR professionals out there, it also means there is an extreme amount of competition for a very small job market. Blogs can help you stand out and differentiate yourself from the masses by greatly improving your ‘online resume’ as Matt Cheuvront puts it. Community building, networking expertise and product knowledge are just a few great talking points a successful blog can give you for an interview.

Another consideration in utilizing a blog is to post about your industry. Dan Schwabel, leading personal branding expert for Gen Y, says posting about your industry can show potential employers that you have the knowledge and understanding of your industry and will make them come to you.

While it is important to consider all of these aspects in your blog, make sure you remember that while a blog should reflect on your professionalism, readers really want personality and honesty, so don’t lose sight of that.

So, what considerations have you made with your blog? Please share your thoughts and blog links!

COURTNEY VAUGHT is a member-at-large of PRSA New Professionals Section. You can reach her at or @CourtV. If you have more in-depth career questions for her dad, Jeff Vaught, you can reach him at

your pr career… One Year Down, 60 More To Go! by Courtney Vaught

As one of my co-workers said, 23 is not an envious age. You are trying to find your place in the workforce; you aren’t sure what you really want to do with your life; you have far too many awkward moments, and things are uncertain—especially in this economy.

Now you have at least one year of experience behind you. Whether you’re happy with your current company or thinking of moving on, take time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished. In doing so, you might get a better idea of where you want to go and how to get there.

I’d like to share some of the advice I received from a career consulting professional who’s been in the business for 25 years. His name is Jeff Vaught, but I call him Dad. (Don’t think I’m mentioning him just because he is family; he really does have some great insights into career development.)

Before you start thinking promotion or job search, first, ask yourself:

  • What are your professional goals?
  • Does your current position allow you to pursue your goals?

If you want to continue along the path you’re in currently, ask yourself:

  • What have you done to earn a promotion?
  • Can you handle the greater responsibility?
  • What added value will you bring?

If your employer is a little too comfortable with you in your current position and will not consider a promotion, then start looking elsewhere. Remember to stay stealthy during the search, and take extra precautions.

  • If posting your resume while employed, keep it confidential—don’t list the name of your current employer.
  • Don’t take calls during work unless it’s easy to do so—running out in the hall to talk on your cell phone is painfully obvious.
  • Don’t fall into the counter offer trap—if you’ve tried to negotiate a promotion with your employer and they didn’t listen to your concerns, don’t assume things will change if you stay

Do you have questions or concerns about where your career is headed? Do you have other suggestions to share? Leave comments!
We are all in the same boat and can always use the advice.

COURTNEY VAUGHT is a member-at-large of PRSA New Professionals Section. You can reach her at or @CourtV. If you have more in-depth career questions for her dad, Jeff Vaught, you can reach him at

your pr career… Walking the Social Networking Tightrope by Courtney Vaught

Remember when we used Facebook to write funny comments on friends’ walls about the previous night’s blunders or to post pictures to keep memories alive? Now Facebook antics bear the same brunt of judgment as walking into work on Friday covered in sharpie drawings.

I recently read a blog post by Ari Adler titled, “Facebook Users Show Two Faces to the World,” discussing how some Facebook users are creating separate profiles for their professional and personal lives. This made me think about the challenges new professionals face in the expanding social media world–Facebook specifically. As Facebook’s 35-and-older demographic continues to expand, we are seeing our parents, aunts, uncles, clients and employers join in on a world that used to exist only within college walls.

The new professional’s generation (i.e. Millenials or gen Y) started using social media years ago, in a very different environment, for vastly different purposes than today. This is where I believe some of us find our struggle.

Personally, I maintain stubborn grounds in wanting to keep the fun, ridiculous college memories up for all to see. I say, if you have a problem with my photos, don’t look at them. However, some comments about my photos from colleagues led me to cave and block all the pictures on my profile. (Boo, I know.)

However, after discussing this topic with some fellow new professionals, I have found that I’m not alone. A former classmate of mine had an interview with a PR agency scheduled, but was e-mailed with a cancellation note a few days before the interview. When asked why the interview had been cancelled, the agency’s answer was that it had something to do with “social media content.”  My former classmate has since taken down all Facebook pictures and continues to monitor content closely. (And if you are curious, my former classmate was able to find a position at another PR agency.)

Others haven’t had as much trouble with their Facebook content but have taken similar steps to protect their reputation–and jobs. Jennie Ecclestone, General Motors, blocked all of her pictures and posts selective albums for public viewing. Ashley Mead, Fleishman-Hillard PR, closely monitors all photos that are tagged of her and “maintains a very genuine approach” in everything she has on her profile, and Nikki Stephan, Franco PR, uncluttered her profile by deleting all of the applications.

All of these privacy techniques may protect you professionally, but it begs the question, is this defeating the whole purpose of social networking sites? Are you really showing who you are when you have to monitor the content and only place pictures that show you in one, highly-monitored light? It’s an extremely fine line, one that I don’t think anyone has successfully balanced on yet.

Have you balanced on the social networking tightrope? Leave us your comments!

Courtney Vaught is an account coordinator at Eisbrenner PR and a member-at-large for the PRSA New Professionals Executive Committee. Contact her on Twitter @CourtV. 



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