Random Business Acronyms


So, out and about in our semi-professional lives we have heard people spewing out random letters. We believe that most of these acronyms are made up by professionals in order to sound cool and important, rather than to actually serve a purpose. Regardless, when those around you are speaking what seems to be a different language, it can cause some confusion or the feeling that you are being left out.

Initially, when we heard or saw these random letters, our faces looked something like this:

Curiosity rather than necessity has driven us to look up some of these silly acronyms and others we figured out on our own. Here are some we’ve heard over the last few years that may help you out:

  • MOU – We’ve looked this up 5 times to remember while writing this blog…short and sweet it stands for Memorandum of Understanding. Still lost? So are we. Let’s dumb it down further. Wikipedia enlightens us with this description: “a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties.” Glad we cleared that up.
  • EOD – “The delivery is expected by EOD.” Hhmmm, does this indicate a time or location? Not to worry, we’re here to help, your package will get to you by the End of Day.
  • COB – Kind of like EOD, you can tell this is a point in time because when you see COB, it is usually in an email that says, “I need this by COB” (yummmm, corn?). Those context clues should help you out, but just in case, COB=close of business.
  • Random “J” in emails – Oh yes, finally, that perfect employee made a typo on their email! Nope, yet again she’s perfect and sending you a smiley-face to “emphasize” her point (some email systems would turn the smileys into this awkward J so many people have simply reverted to inserting the letter)…damn her 🙂   J
  • TB – Oh, here’s one that sounds familiar! I’ve definitely heard TB before… Oh wait, they couldn’t possibly mean tuberculosis. Nope, TB is not the disease. So, if your manager says she wants to “TB” you have nothing to fear. She just means she wants to have a chat or get an update on something, but likes to say it in a cooler biz jargon way therefore she uses “touch base”.
  • KPI – “Let’s get those KPIs up or we may lose that client!” WTF?!?!? I’m going to lose a client based on something I don’t even understand! Well, they’re Key Performance Indicators, so get those metrics up and keep your new-professional job!
  • OOO – You will see this in an email or automatic reply that says something like, “I’ll be OOO Friday.” Sounds like a good time right? It could be, but it just means out of office.
  • V/R – This one is a formal email signature meaning “very respectfully”. They may respect you, but you aren’t tight enough to get a “thanks”, “take care” or even the semi-stuffy, “best”. They couldn’t at least write it out?

Now that we’re all on the same page we’ll TTYL!

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Not Writing a Thesis


So, last week in my blog post I talked about the decision to go back to get my MBA, in this post I’m going to write about how I FINISHED the process!

In my MBA program at SDSU we had the option of writing a thesis or partaking in a business consulting project coupled with an exam. Affectionately known as BA795, I chose to participate in the business consulting capstone project. My decision was partially based on:

  1. Unless you plan on going into academia, a thesis is seen as somewhat worthless to many in the business community.
  2. Hiring managers like to see “results,” a project was more likely to give me that over a theoretical research paper.
  3. I like to give my opinions (one reason a blog is a fantastic option for me) – I like it even better when people listen!
  4. I one day would love to pursue a career as a marketing consultant and this was a nice mini-start.

For BA795 all participants were given a list of participating companies and the help they needed. The companies and projects ranged from huge hotel corporations needing a diversified marketing strategy to start-ups needing to know if their idea would pan out in the marketplace.  Each member of the upcoming graduating class ranked which project they would like to participate in, we were then assigned a group and a company to consult with.

So, here lies the crux of the situation. As groups were announced we all sat around like elementary school kids getting picked for dodge ball, “Will I getting picked for the ‘cool’ project?” “Will my group be a bunch of slackers?”

Typical

It’s the risk you take when you opt in for a group project rather than a solo thesis!

I ended up being assigned to a client that needed help with developing a branding/rebranding analysis along with three other MBA candidates. I knew one of the girls, Kari, personally and as much as I hate to admit this to her I knew she would make a fantastic group member 😉 (I have to keep up the teasing relationship we developed – Kari is actually one of the most dedicated and hardworking people I have had the pleasure of working with).  I had not had the pleasure of working with Adam and Melissa in my MBA career but I am SOOOOO glad they were my other group members! The four of us never had any issues with each other and everyone produced spectacular work ON TIME!

Once we jumped through some hoops and touchy issues with our two assigned advisers (who I still refuse to accept we needed) we were on a roll. Unlike other groups that had issues with difficult clients, our client was FANTASTIC! We met with a representative for our client’s organization who was understanding, compassionate of our time restrictions, incredibly accessible to any questions that arose, and warned us up front that even if our suggestions were not acted upon they were appreciated – dare I say it, they were the perfect client we’ll probably never see again in our consulting careers.

On the client side, I believe most of the companies came out of the experience with applicable real-world direction and information they could use to enhance their business – at a great cost! I reached out to our client representative to see why they considered coming to SDSU MBA’s for help: “I went with the SDSU MBA student consultant group not only because I was familiar with the program as a past participant, but also because I would get a fresh perspective and analysis based on techniques and applications the group had learned during their time in the MBA program. I’ve found the group’s final product to be a great road map and guideline to what the tribal development can be.”

Basically, our group was able to help our client with a fresh perspective and apply the education we had received. Along with our 200+ page report (that cost about $100,000,000,000 to print at Kinkos) we left this experience with applied knowledge and a group bond that we still have (even if these guys blew me off for happy hour this week 😉 ).

Writing a Thesis


Not all master’s programs require writing a thesis. In the Mass Communication and Media Studies program at San Diego State I was given a choice between writing a thesis and taking comprehensive exams. Most people choose comprehensive exams for various reasons, but a big part of it is that the commitment isn’t as long term. Yes, they are very intense and require studying for weeks, but a thesis is a more drawn-out process that can take a year or more of dedication. Despite this, I chose the thesis route. That choice is not for everyone, but based on my personal goals, made more sense. Here’s why:

  1. I had an area of research that I wanted to explore and become an “expert” in. For comprehensive exams you must have a solid understanding of a wide variety of topics. For a thesis, you choose one topic and dig deeper… and deeper…and deeper.
  2. I would like to pursue a Ph.D. at some point. Most doctoral programs want to see that a candidate has done their own research and has what it takes to see a project through from start to finish.
  3. Writing a thesis is part of the grad school experience that I wanted. I wanted to add to the body of knowledge in PR and have something that I could take with me forever.

Knowing I made the right decision about writing a thesis didn’t make the process easier. In fact, there were times where I was so overwhelmed I didn’t think I would ever get to where I am now (very close to done). It does NOT have to be that way though. If you’re writing a thesis, here are some tips that might help you out:

Faculty, students and alumni representing SDSU at the International Public Relations Research Conference where I presented my thesis as research in progress.

  1. Buy a book on thesis or dissertation writing and read it. Demystifying Dissertation Writing by Peg Single is a book my friend, Navy Cmdr. K.C. Marshall, bought for me and I should have read it cover to cover BEFORE starting my writing process. It is full of great tips about establishing a writing space, writing partner, routine and overcoming the many forms of writer’s block.
  2. Talk about your challenges! This is definitely discussed in Single’s book, but I still want to call this one out separately. Writing a thesis can feel isolating. It is by far the biggest project you have ever done and you are doing it by yourself. My thesis became a source of anxiety for me and it took me too long to speak up about it to my adviser. I eventually did and felt much better after venting. Maybe your adviser will be the best person to talk to or maybe you’d feel more comfortable with someone else. Talk to colleagues also writing a thesis or see a school therapist. Your university has resources to deal with stress, anxiety and depression. Use them!
  3. Think beyond “getting it done”. Of course you want to graduate, but if you look into conference and publication opportunities for your research, it will be far more rewarding.

Have any of you written a thesis? Any advice I’m missing?

Getting Your MBA


My cap (and yes, I’m still available for hire)!

Some of the first feedback I recieved when I started telling people that I was trying to go back to school to get my MBA was: “You won’t get in”… “You need real-world experience”… “Without work experience more schooling is pointless”… “That’ll be a lot of money.”

When first trying to put pen to paper (or keys to online medium) regarding the topic “why go back to business school” I couldn’t think of anything. I knew my reasons but I know people have different reasons for going back to get their MBA at different points in their lives. So, to ensure I got the full spectrum I decided to ask a few of my fellow classmates.

Our reasons span the following for pursuing our MBAs

  • Hiding out from the recession
  • Networking
  • Opening up employment opportunities
  • Because we intrinsically wanted it

Below is some of the feedback I received from my fellow MBAers:

“I had finished my degree in psychology and realized I did not want to go into counseling or research. I decided that the best way to apply the skills from psychology to the real world was to go into business and that an MBA would be the best way to break into the field.” – Jason Hebert

Bret Fredrickson was the victim of company downsizing and had found himself unemployed. He saw his options as, “Spend[ing] my time writing countless cover letters or study for a test that to this day still makes me nauseous to think about (the GMAT).” Asking Bret about how he felt about his SDSU MBA program, he responded that it has, “opened a lot of doors that otherwise would have been shut… I met a lot of great people and heard a lot of inspiring stories that lit a fire under me. I gained a deeper understanding of the gray areas in business, and acquired the confidence needed to be direct, open, and to lead successfully. An MBA isn’t for everyone, and in no way is it more advantageous than actually running a business, but for me, it was a segue that launched an array of opportunities.” Bret gained an entrepreneurial attitude and Co-Founded SoftSkate a skateboard grip tape alternative company. Follow Bret’s upcoming endeavors on Twitter!

John McMillan, known lovingly as ‘Johnny Mac’ in our program (and as the kid that doesn’t wear shoes) thought that gaining an MBA would give his resume a competitive edge and land him a killer job. What he found was “the drive to start [his] own business, because who likes making money for someone else?” John also credits the program with expanding his professional network through his, “excessive involvement with competitions and business organizations that will truly help [him] succeed in the field of entrepreneurship. In the end it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that will make you successful!” – Seriously peeps, Johnny’s on the road to greatness with his enthusiasm so watch this kid!

Courtney Koscheka was also downsized out of a job and decided to seriously act on her lingering idea of heading back to get an MBA. When asked about how she felt about her situation she replied, “They seriously did me the biggest favor. I packed up my desk, called my mom on the way home, and went straight to the post office to get my application packets in the mail. Fast forward a few years later, and I’m now in a tremendous amount of debt and feel like I’m starting at square one in the work force, but I’ve made some of the most amazing friends a girl could ever ask for. In addition, not only have I made friends, I’ve added some amazingly talented and helpful people to my ‘network.'” Courtney is also a stellar blogger like Nicole and me, so make sure you check out her blog! To boot she has some interesting news about an emerging company!

Tara Taylor, Richa Saxena, Adrienne White, Meghann Reist Boyd, and Katie Lyons all indicated a mixture of a crappy economy, wanting to bolster their resumes, open new doors, explore new opportunities, and to meet new people as the reason they decided to get an MBA. (Be sure to follow what Meghann, Katie, and Courtney are collaborating on here!)

“I swore I’d never go back to school when I finished my undergrad. My 4 year undergrad degree was the most unguided 6 years of my life. I was fortunate to have good connections and landed a career building job and started working early, so I knew I could build on my work experience. . .Later on though I began to think differently. I realized I was fortunate enough to have good work experience, but it was difficult to “legitimize” that work experience. . . So I figured the MBA would help me meet new people, get exposure to other industries and skills, and add credibility to the skills I had already developed, plus work paid for some of it. So far I have been right; I have learned some stuff in classes, but the best value I have gotten out of my MBA is the people I have met and the exposure to new things that I would not have seen otherwise.” – Ross Bundy

“I did it…[for] the accomplishment of doing it for yourself. Everything else falls into place with determination, hard work and execution.” – Alex Henry 

“My mom got her master’s at SDSU when I was little; She had her diploma framed beautifully in her office and I always wanted the same thing. After working for about 5 years, I decided it was finally time to go back to school. It was a lot of long hours and hard work, but looking back it was a great experience and I now have the same beautiful diploma frame as my mom.” – Kari Evans

What we all got out of our experience was much of the same:

  • Meeting great and influential people. Not only each other (and we know we’ll all end up somewhere amazing) but incredible professors that inspired us.
  • Real world applications – our program was not just theoretical, and that’s essential for us trying to break into the different realms of businesses – we received a lot of applied instruction.
  • Finding our passion. Whether it be to create our own company (like Bret with SoftSkate or Courney, Katie , and Meghann with CKM Events) or discovering a facet in which you’re interested in (like me with marketing!).
  • Confidence. I tossed a post up on Facebook asking for help with this topic. I really expected some of these joksters to only write about the incredible debt we are in (which WAS mentioned) but the majority of the information was serious and EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. of them exuded the confidence that we will all become successful due to our obtaining our MBAs.

As a wrap-up. Every person I spoke with believes they received invaluable training in the 2 (often longer) years they spent (or are still spending) obtaining their MBAs. Besides the debt we are in, none of us would trade a second of our experience and education (well, I will say our capstone BA 795 was a bitch – more on that next week!).

Many of my classmates when we finally finished our MBAs! Obviously it was a tough road – illustrated by our glowing eyes.

Grad School for PR


Since a graduate degree is not required to have a successful career in PR, I have had many people call my education “pointless”, a “waste of time”, and a “waste of money”…and that’s what they say to my face! So, I feel that it is necessary to share a different perspective on the

Me with my buddies, Eric and Erika, at graduation.

topic.

First of all, it is true that grad school won’t help you pitch media, write press releases, create media lists, write web copy or draft tweets. Those are all things that entry-level practitioners should know after a Bachelor’s degree or their first internship. So, what are things that grad school WILL do? (Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that people that don’t go to grad school can’t develop any of these skills, I am simply saying these are areas that grad school can help you grow.)

  1. Improve your critical thinking skills. Grad school teaches you how to think in a different way. This is something I use from my education every single day without realizing it. In grad school you are expected to analyze complex situations, form opinions and defend them.
  2. Increase your knowledge of mass communication theory.  This is one that is often called “pointless”, but I disagree. Knowing the theoretical basis of what you do can help you make decisions about new situations as well as help you explain to your clients WHY you do what you do.
  3. Help you understand research and its application. Grad school is a great place to improve your research skills both to inform your strategies and evaluate them.
  4. Broaden your career opportunities. Interested in academia or applied research? Not everyone is, but if you are, grad school will help you get there.

Choosing to go to grad school is not for everyone and even after you make that decision, choosing the right program is very important. I personally have had a great experience at SDSU and would never consider any learning experience “pointless”. PRSA San Diego’s featured member of July also attended my program, for what he said about it, look at question five.

What are your opinions on grad school for industries where an advanced degree is not required?

Also, keep an eye out later this week for Blake’s thoughts on getting an MBA!

Advice from New PR Pros to New PR Pros


Through my thesis, networking events and chatting with friends and coworkers, I’ve had a lot of conversations with PR practitioners that are in their first few years of work experience. Based on these conversations, I’ve gathered some words of wisdom from my peers:

  1. You know what you know. It is important that you don’t undervalue your experience or your education. Everyone has something to bring to the table, so next time you are at a brainstorming meeting and have an idea, have the confidence to speak up. Something you learned in class or at an internship may give you a unique perspective that is different than those around you. That said…
  2. You don’t know everything. This piece of advice has two parts to it. First, nobody likes an entry-level practitioner who thinks they know everything. Be humble and realize you have a lot to learn. Second, you can’t grow if you don’t recognize what you know and what you don’t know. If you don’t know something, ask questions!
  3. Seize the day. It is up to you to get the most out of your work experiences, especially early on in your career. Ask for new experiences, tasks and responsibilities. Most supervisors will appreciate your drive and ambition.
  4. Network. The importance of networking is something that comes up in almost every conversation about a career in PR. It really is who you know.
  5. Find a mentor and mentor others. A mentor can have a big impact on a young professional’s career. Seeking

    This is me with my friend and mentor, Christianne (right) and friend and former colleague, Jobeth (center)

    out a senior practitioner for advice and guidance can teach you a lot about the industry and make you feel more confident about your future. Overall, it’s just reassuring to know that someone besides your parents cares about career and is rooting for you. The other half of this is giving back to your profession. Even if you only have a couple years of experience, it is never too early to start mentoring PR students and recent grads. You never know the impact you can make on someone’s career by sharing your knowledge.

Do you have any advice for new PR professionals? Please share in the comments!

The Social Media Olympics


Since the world has Olympic fever, we’ve decided to join the craze. We don’t know much about sports, but why should athletes get all the glory anyway? Below are our Social Media Olympians! Unlike the actual Olympics, we chose the winners simply because we like them and think they are doing a good job in the social realm (basically, it’s like if we were awarding Olympic medals based on how we felt about the male swimmers’ abs). Could there be better pages, blogs and tweeps out there? Of course! But, maybe we don’t know or follow them.

Best Facebook Page

Gold: Burger Lounge‘s Facebook page isn’t just about their delicious food, it’s about their culture. You can tell that community and healthy ingredients are two things that Burger Lounge cares about. Plus, they get extra points because we’re addicted to their chicken fingers.

Silver: Beneful seems to get the whole online community thing and they definitely host a community of dog-lovers. Plus, they post a lot of cute dog pictures and videos that you can’t help but share.

Bronze: Starbucks posts mostly promo information and delicious-looking photos, but it seems to work. They get people to crave their beverages and even create discussions about them.

Best Twitter Handle (Brands)

Gold: @VirginAmerica  just gets it with their social media approach, at least in our opinion. Their Twitter handle embraces both fun and function.

Silver: @StoneBrewingCo is really a leader in the social realm. Not only is their voice consistent with the cool factor of their brand, but they often speak at social media events to share their approach and successes.

Bronze: @ClifBar just created some buzz in the social realm by launching a geo-location Twitter campaign. We like them because they somehow connect social media to being active and outdoors.

Best Twitter Handle (Communication Pros)

Gold: @petershankman Okay, so this one might be really obvious, but we like him because he doesn’t just regurgitate social media articles and self-promote. Even though he’s an author and keynote speaker, Peter tweets like he’s talking to his friends.

Silver: @PRCouture Not only does she have some great insights to PR and social media, she keeps our Twitter feeds lively with mentions of glitter and unicorns. No need to feel intimidated by Crosby, shoot her a question and she’ll respond!

Bronze: @tylerjanderson is a great aggregator of information. If there is social media news that you need to know, you’ll probably hear it from him.

Best Communication Blog

Gold: Ragan.com is one of the big blog sites for all types of communication. They have a lot of writers that cover a lot of topics, so you’re sure to find a tip that is useful to you.

Silver: PR Squared may have PR in the name, but anyone interested in social media will enjoy Todd’s posts. They are relevant and relatable.

Bronze: Beach Betty Creative This is a smaller blog that Nicole recently discovered and it is a great mix of good tips, excellent writing and a likable personality.

If you’ve spotted some medal-worthy social media peeps out there share them with us! We love to expand our network and learn from the pros. (If you’ve seen some medal-worthy abs out there we’d like to see those as well)!

Hee hee, couldn’t help it 😉