Young Professional Series: Anton Perreau


For this young professional interview, we’ve added a little twist. Anton lives and works in London, so this is our international edition! I met Anton as an undergrad at San Diego State where he completed part of his degree. We met at a PRSSA event and became friends immediately. Following his time at SDSU, Anton continued living in Southern California to to fulfill an internship with LEWIS PR in San Diego, after which he returned to London Photo 01-12-2012 03 50 31 PMto finish his degree while working for a British PR agency. Personally, I’m hoping that some American will sweep him off his feet so he comes back to the U.S. and I’ll have my friend back 🙂

Now, to the interview:

Tell me a little about your current position?

I currently work as a Senior Account Executive for Battenhall – we’re a Brand Communications agency consisting of around eight people, founded as a start-up by Drew Benvie, former UK CEO of Hotwire and founder of 33 Digital. I work with emerging and global brands to help them engage with influencers and journalists alike.

What drew you to a career in public relations?

I enjoy bringing my own ideas to life, and I have some pretty whacky ideas – PR enables me to work whilst channeling all these ideas into creative projects. I’m a big fan of reading and writing, two very important elements of the communications world.

I also love connecting people – not like a matchmaker, but to show people amazing companies, doing cool stuff and, in turn, to learn what people really want from that lovemark brand. I guess to add to all this stuff, I’ve developed a knack of accurately and concisely getting a point across, the way we use words, connotations, sentences and grammar is the most important way to communicate, that actually excites me. What a dork I am…whatever.

How did your time in the US help your career?

Most basically, it’s a conversation starter – it gets a foot in the door and international companies like the idea that someone knows colourful new things about the world around them.

Working and studying in different countries evidently shows that you’ve been exposed to cultural differences as well as the complex bureaucratic procedures around the world – this matters in the world of work. It’s also character building, I know I developed a lot as a person since I moved to the USA with no perspective, local friends or definite plan.

Being a well-rounded individual shows potential employers and clients that you have the ability to ‘make do’ in difficult situations, independently, and come back with solutions not problems.

What are some of the differences between working in the UK and US?

The first thing is the media: It turns out that many verticals are much more over-saturated in the US than the UK – this doesn’t mean they’re more receptive to your pitch though.

America is very geo-centric, what i mean is that in the UK all or most of our work is based around national campaigns and projects, after all our population is barely 63 million – a fifth the size of the USA. In the US however, much of the work we did focused on Southern California.

The last, and most important difference is general hours, American’s work long hours and take short vacations, in the UK our working day usually starts around 9:00am and finishes around 5:30pm. it’s also perfectly normal for people in the UK to take two or three weeks off work to go abroad each year.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to fellow new pros?

Be that kid in the office or classroom that DOES stuff – small or big, it doesn’t matter if you fail, they’re not called ‘challenges’ for nothing. Failure is the best ingredient for your greatest success. Turn every ‘what if’ into something you actually DID and if it takes under two minutes, do it now.

Keep up with Anton on Twitter or learn more about him here!

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Book Review: The Power of Habit


Since starting grad school, I haven’t read for pleasure much, but this summer had granted me some much appreciated free time and my boyfriend recommended I read “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. After he shared a bit of what it was about, I knew he was right.

etc_stack12__01inline__202The book somehow blends marketing, sociology and self-help seamlessly into a series of interconnected stories and anecdotes that make this book impossible to put down. Duhigg discusses habits of individuals, organizations and societies. He explains where habits come from, the components of a habit and how to reform them. While the book itself is easy to read, my academic side was satisfied with the abundance of citations! I feel like Duhigg really did his research and if I questioned any of his statements, I could easily flip back and see where he got his information.

Understanding habits isn’t only useful on a personal level (and trust me, you will see habits in every part of your life after this book), but it is also useful for communicators. Duhigg provides helpful insights about how people make decisions, and shares several case studies about how companies use this information.

Staying Motivated at Work


Get Back To Work

Nobody likes to admit it, but there are sometimes moments in an office job when you just aren’t motivated. I’m not talking about days on end (because then maybe you should look for a new job), I’m talking about that afternoon lull where you just don’t feel like working or you are in the middle of a project that doesn’t particularly interest you. It doesn’t mean that you are a horrible employee or hate your job, it just means you need a little boost to help you feel refreshed, motivated and inspired. Here’s what we came up with or have learned from others to help us get the work churning out again:

  1. Mix it up. If you have more than one project you are working on, try going back and forth between things to keep it fresh and to avoid getting bored filling out that content calendar. But, don’t go too crazy switching around, remember that your output needs some consistency.
  2. Change scenery. Sometimes a change of location is just what you need for inspiration. If your work allows it, try working from the coffee shop down the street, outside, or even the conference room. It might help jolt you out of that “blah” you’re feeling.
  3. Take a break. It probably depends on your office rules and culture, but there’s nothing wrong with getting up to stretch, taking a walk to grab coffee or even distracting yourself for a few minutes with some personal Facebook time, online shopping, or my personal favorite, BuzzFeed.
  4. Chat with a coworker/peer. We’ve all hit the afternoon hum-drum so talk it out with someone! Turn to the person next to you or even open up an IM system and (depending on the work at hand) ask for a bit of help, talk about different strategies, or simply ask about their weekend plans. Sometimes, us communicators need to remember to communicate!
  5. Challenge yourself. Maybe this won’t work for all tasks, but for a lot of things we do on a regular basis, we get used to the status quo. Press releases, social media posts, media pitches, etc. can all become formulaic if you let them. Challenge yourself to try something new, be creative and try to make the best _______ you ever have.

I feel like these apply to writing lit reviews or grading papers, too. Any other tricks we should know about?

PRSA Interview


UnknownEach month PRSA San Diego interviews one of its members to be featured on its website and share about their professional experience. This month, I was lucky enough to be asked to participate and had the opportunity to share more about my experience with the research side of public relations.

Check out my interview here.

My Jet-Setting Wallet


On March 10, I was flying home from Miami where I attended the International Public Relations Research Conference. I was tired and hungry, so I decided to order some food. I gave the American Airlines flight attendant my credit card and then put it back in my wallet when she returned it. At that point, I believe I left my wallet on my lap, unable to maneuver around my food, drink and tray table to return it safely to my purse. After my sandwich, I took a nap and woke up in San Diego. I didn’t think about my wallet until the next morning when I was getting ready for work and panic set in. I knew exactly what happened.

Over the next few weeks I made a lot of calls and online requests to the lost and found and baggage claim at Lindbergh Field and Dallas Fort Worth (where my plane had headed back to). Also, like any PR practitioner I know, I tweeted about it and included American Airlines’ handle. Now, let me tell you, the social media team at AA is awesome (or they were to me). They responded immediately and made me feel like someone was doing something to help.

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And then the DM conversation went like this…

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Weeks passed by and I replaced my credit cards and driver’s license and lost hope of ever seeing my wallet again. But, I felt like my concerns were heard and I didn’t harbor any feelings of ill will toward AA. I mean, it wasn’t their fault I left my wallet behind and they did try to locate it. Then, on Tuesday (as in 50 days later), I received a package in the mail from AA. It was my wallet and a handwritten note from Mac in baggage claim at DFW: “Please call me when you get this.” My gift cards were stolen, but most everything else was intact. I let Mac know and of course, I tweeted about it. And of course, AA replied.

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Everyone Makes Mistakes


What to do When You Mess Up

We’ve all heard it a million times and I’m still not sure that I believe it, but… everyone makes mistakes. And to continue the cliché, it’s how you deal with them that matters.

Personally, when I make a mistake, all of the sudden, I remember every mistake I ever made. I’m not talking about the many typos in the blog, I’m talking about the embarrassing things that I can’t let go of. I remember the time I spilled Apple Jacks in kindergarten, the time in college that I skipped a page of a midterm, the time I sent that email without the attachment at an internship, and that typo in the acknowledgement page of my thesis. Every time I make a mistake, these things come back with such clarity that all I can see are the fuck-ups. Obviously, I don’t deal well with making mistakes, even though I make plenty of them.

This topic arose because last week both Blake and I made mistakes that we really beat ourselves up over. I made a mistake on a conference submission and she made a few with clients at her new job.

So, in the wake of these personal disasters we did some self-reflection about how we deal with our mistakes and how we should deal with them.

Things we do to cope

  • Cry
  • Negative self-talk
  • Whine about it to each other
  • Turn to vices that make us feel good–wine, shopping and lots of fatty food

Things we should do to cope

  • Learn from the mistake, forgive ourselves and move on
  • Focus on things we actually have control over (as in the future, not the past)
  • Talk it out in an adult manner and determine how to triple check our efforts the next time
  • Turn to positive outlets like exercise

We want to know, how do you react to your mistakes? Have any good coping mechanisms?

I’m moving…to Texas


Some of you may already know, but I have decided to pursue a Ph.D. at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. They have a great mass communications program that I’m confident will prepare me for a career in academia. My ultimate goal is to teach and do research in public relations at a four-year university, and I think I’ve always known I’d be Dr. Lee someday.

I'll be a Red Raider for a few years, but you know I'm an Aztec for life :)

I’ll be a Red Raider for a few years, but you know I’m an Aztec for life 🙂

Choosing a doctoral program was the hardest decision I’ve ever made and my huge spreadsheet of pros and cons wasn’t much help. All of the programs I looked at are great and someone else with the same options I had may have chosen differently. I went with what was best for me in terms of faculty, resources, research and teaching opportunities. However, on top of the practical considerations, the people that I will spend the next three years with really sealed the deal.

Tech had me come visit a few weeks ago and every single person that I have interacted with, student, faculty or staff, was incredibly helpful and welcoming. Plus, their facilities are amazing. I probably won’t use the eye tracking machines or physiology lab, but the high-tech focus group room and office with a view got my attention. However, Blake and I have been joking around about the crazy research projects we can do in the labs when she visits. Any suggestions on that?

College of Media and Communication building

College of Media and Communication building

While the program is a great fit, Lubbock will be harder to get used to. There is more there than I realized and university towns tend to foster creativity and forward thinking, but it still isn’t San Diego. There’s no ocean or city-wide recycling program, the shopping isn’t great, and everyone drives big trucks while talking on cell phones. I’ll be leaving my family, Blake and Whitney, and other friends, but luckily, I have an amazing partner by my side to navigate this adventure with. My boyfriend, Paul, and I, and our cocker spaniel, Tiger, will be moving in August. Trust me, we’ll only be in Texas for three years.

A Recap of IPRRC


Last week, I ventured to Miami for the second year in a row to present research at the International Public Relations Research Conference. IPRRC brings practitioners and academics together in order to share and advance the latest PR research. Unlike other conferences, IPRRC is made up of informal roundtable sessions where the presenters can share their research, then discuss it with a fairly small group of people. This facilitates conversation among practitioners, faculty and grad students and often leads to new ideas and collaborations.

SDSU had a great group of representatives in Miami!

SDSU had a great group of representatives in Miami!

With three very full days of presentations, I was pretty exhausted by the time I got to my own presentation (the very last session!). Luckily, it’s a very positive environment and there didn’t seem to be any judgment as I tripped over my words a few times. In fact, everyone was very kind and encouraging, just like they were last year.

IPRRC really has something for everyone in PR, as you can see in the program. If you are a practitioner, you are sure to find presentations relevant to your practice. If you are an academic, you are sure to find presentations relevant to your research interests. Right now, I’m both, and I found both.

Social media was one of the most popular research topics. From best practices to ethics to creating dialogue to measurement, there was a ton of discussion about social media. My paper was also related to social media, but focused on new PR professionals and why they are often the ones to take on social media tasks. If the topic interests you, go read my thesis! Haha… I know that won’t happen, but if you want a shortened version, I’d be happy to chat about it!

Telling Your Story With Google Maps


I’m a big fan of Google. They have lots of cool tools that make my life easier, like Google Drive and Google Alerts. Another fun tool that is useful beyond just getting you where you’re going is Google Maps. Did you know you can create your own maps in Google for personal use or for an organization? The possibilities are endless. Map your favorite walk around the city, map and share your favorite beaches, create a map for a loved one with all the important places from your relationship (I dunno, it might be cute?), or map the DrinkAbout route like Sarah Grieco did here.

Recently, I made a Google map for California Sea Grant, where I am currently a communications fellow. CA Sea Grant is celebrating its 40th anniversary and we wanted to show what fellows and trainees from over the  years are up to. If you click “view larger map,” you can see more detail. For instance, I was able color code the markers based on the type of fellowship each alumnus had. This simple, easy-to-make map has not only served as a visual to show Sea Grant’s impact on ocean policy, but also as a tool for former fellows to network with fellow alumni in their area.

For directions on how to make your own map, check out this YouTube video made by Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TftFnot5uXw.

Get to know Academia.edu


We all know about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Foursquare, Google+, Myspace, Instagram… you get the point. But, have you heard of academia.edu? It might not interest everyone, but if you do research, you are in grad school, or you have a client that does research, it may be worth getting to know this lesser-known social media site. As you may have guessed, Academia.edu is “a platform for academics to share research papers.”

Screen shot 2013-01-10 at 1.48.26 PMAs a grad student, I have used the site to follow what other researchers are doing and to connect with fellow academics. I’m not very active on it, so I’m sure I’m not getting all the value I can. I can also see how non-academics may simply be interested in following the research in certain areas long before it is published.

Like many platforms, you can follow people and they will be notified that you are a follower, but they don’t necessarily have to follow you back. In addition to posting your own research, you can post blogs, teaching documents, conference presentations and ask questions within a certain research topic.

As always, we want to hear what you have to say. Have you used Academia.edu? Do you find it useful?