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.

Our New Year’s Resolutions


It’s that time of year again! Time to make resolutions for the new year that we’ll forget in two months. But this time it’s different for us, this time we’re putting our resolutions out on the internet (with a million other people) in the hopes that we’ll actually keep them, or inspire someone else. Oh, yes, this is breaking one of our “Social Media Pet Peeves” (see the blog here), but screw it, we’re allowed to break our own rules!

Ok, so here goes:

  1. Eat Healthy, Work Out, Feel Better About Ourselves Obviously we’re jumping on the New Year’s bandwagon for this one, but it’s a good goal. We’re aiming to tie on those running shoes more often, start thinking about what we eat, and get bikini-ready. I mean we live in San Diego, we pretty much need to be bikini-ready all year long. A few apps that will spur our momentum for this goal are: MapMyRun, Nike Training, MyFitnessPal, Pandora, and Songza.
  2. Join Relevant Clubs – There MAY have been some monetary gifts given this Christmas (the “curse” of being our age – too young to not get gifts but too old to think of something original). What better way to spend our new found cash stash than join a few clubs in our area. This is an opportunity to stay engaged with people in our professions as well as receive some discounts on networking events!
  3. Attend Networking Events Once a Month – So, now that we’re joining these clubs and receiving discounts on events, we better be going! Whether they’re free or fee-based we’ve historically had great times at these events and want to make sure we keep attending (even if we’d rather be chillin’ in our PJs)!
  4. Read Books That Will Help Us Grow as Young Professionals – After finishing grad school it’s really difficult to want to read another book about market research or engagement tactics, but we need to stay fresh! School gave us the insight to see the “ideal” way to act in our professions. It may not always be that way but it’s good to remember the basics, and be given some new insights on a regular basis. Our goal is to read one professionally focused book between pleasure reading. A girl can only get so much insight from Cosmo or the latest trendy read.
  5. Become More Engaged With Co-Workers – We both have some great professional  changes coming in the new year. Our goal is to be more engaged in our new work environments than we may have been previously. We’ve seen the power of “knowing someone” and our goal is to get to know the people around us and learn anything they have to teach us.
  6. Plan Upcoming Blogs Further in Advance – We have become very bad at this. In our first months we had blogs lined up for multiple posts. Being able to write with no pressure and having ideas and written blogs on hand made posting easy. Our resolution is to have at leas 2 pre-written blogs on hand in case there was no inspiration in any given week.

Well, those are our goals. In the coming months, we’ll see how successful we are at them. What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you been successful at keeping them in the past?

Giving Back to Your Profession


The holidays are supposed to be a season of giving and that is something we really saw at Minglebells San Diego. Minglebells is a huge networking event/holiday party where all types of communication professionals in San Diego get together and have a good time, and yes, we had a great time. We caught up with old friends and met some new ones, but one new friend really stood out. Her name is Carmella and she is the president of the San Diego Ad Club.

Nicole's big raffle win.

Nicole’s big raffle win.

Carmella likely knew 75 percent of the people in the room (or so we’re guessing), but she took the time to connect with us in a very genuine and helpful manner. She recognized us as young professionals and asked us something that any new professional would want to hear, but may be afraid to ask. “Is there anyone you want to meet?” Sure the chance to be introduced to any of the well-connected professionals that were mingling out there in the abyss was nice, but the fact that she asked was nicer.

We talked about that simple gesture on the way home and how we hope that later in our careers we remember how much something small like that means to a new professional, or someone changing careers, or new to town.

We both have amazing mentors that have helped us throughout our careers, but mentorship doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. It can be a simple word of advice, a strategy sesh over coffee, or an introduction. Is there anyone that has made an impact on your career that you would like to recognize this holiday season? Leave us a comment or connect with us on Twitter (our handles are over there, on the right, see ’em?)!

DIY Christmas


We’re poor. Like the “just starting out, eating Ramen noodles” kind of poor. We really wanted to get in the Christmas spirit this holiday season without spending too much money. In our ideal world we would’ve hit up the Apple store and bought 50 iPad Minis for all our besties, or possibly even some Swarovski-bling. However, that is most definitely not the situation we are in. So, in order to cover all the holiday giving for our super awesome group of gals, Nicole and I decided to throw a holiday party – DIY gifts included.

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We had fist practiced our DIY holiday gift with painted mugs†. Each of us had 6 mugs we dotted, and swooshed, and painted in all kinds of fun ways. Then the question of WHAT TO FILL THE MUGS WITH arose. After perusing Pinterest for a bit we landed on the idea of Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix†. Coupled with a shot of Kahlua from BevMo and a cute ribbon these gifts were done!

Source: penniesonaplatter.com via Blake on Pinterest

Now back to the party planning details! We wanted to have everyone leave our party with a favor and we decided that painting 2o Dollar Tree wine glasses was the PERFECT idea! 5.5 hours later*, we decided we may have taken on more than we could handle. However, the glasses came out adorable and once we came to the conclusion that the beauty of hand painted glasses are the small imperfections on each one, we loved them. When party night rolled around, I wanted to make sure we were really in the Christmas spirit (and we had something for our guests to drink out of their new glasses), so I decided to make mulled wine! I found Ina Garten’s recipe (pinned below) but we modified it a bit†.

Source: foodnetwork.com via Blake on Pinterest 

All-in-all our DIY Xmas turned out fantastic. We had cute gifts to give everyone and even received a few during the white elephant exchange!

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† Recipes and the modifications we used:

PAINTED MUGS/WINE GLASSES

A big thanks to Little Miss MBA for the inspiration on this one.

Our 20 hand painted beauties.

Our 20 hand painted beauties.

  • Glass Mugs/Wine Glasses
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Q-Tips
  • Wine (Optional)

Take the mugs/glasses and clean them with the rubbing alcohol (this gets stinky!). Now set all your inhibitions aside and paint those suckers. We decided our fav pattern for the season was red, green, and white dots made with the Q-Tips. Drink wine as needed to get you through this process. Remember, they’re not all going to come out perfectly, that’s the beauty of DIY Christmas!

SALTED CARAMEL HOT CHOCOLATE MIX

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract – No modification here but this is still the most vanilla extract I’ve used in one recipe.
  • 1 1/2 cups good quality Dutch cocoa powder – We ended up using an entire Hershey Cocoa box plus a little extra. Yea, yea, it’s not “Dutch” but we figure if you don’t like Hershey you’re not deserving of our delish mix.
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons fleur de sel or good sea salt (My preference is 1-tbsp) We had no clue how to find this, so we used store-brand (plus, we’re on a budget here!). ONLY USE 1-TSP!!!! PLEASE! Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
  • 1 cup dry milk powder – WHERE THE HECK can you find dry milk powder that does not come in 1,000,000 lb packs? We ended up using powdered coffee creamer – at $2.24 it was a much better deal
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar – And the Dollar Tree comes through again! We used almost double this amount 😉
  • 10 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips – We splurged on the chips. Ghirardelli all the way.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Heat the 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar in a large heavy pan, over medium heat, without stirring. When the sugar begins to melt, take the handle of the pan and swirl it to melt without burning. The sugar might seem to crystallize, but it will eventually melt to a deep amber color. (Can take 10-15 minutes, so be patient.) This took WAY longer for us – be prepared.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vanilla. Whisk the caramel until smooth again, then immediately pour it onto the lined baking sheet. Allow it to spread without touching it. Set aside and let the caramel harden, at least 1 hour.

When ready to make the mix, use the back of a large spoon to tap the caramel several times into small broken pieces that can fit into the feeding tube of a large food processor. Turn the processor on, and while running, feed the caramel pieces into the tube so the processor pulverizes the caramel into a fine powder. Continue to add the pieces, a few at a time, until it is completely powder (a cloud of caramel dust will float out of the tube). Turn the processor off and follow the next steps to complete the mix. As usual I didn’t read the recipe fully when we started to make this…I don’t have a food processor. This was an excruciatingly long process with my immersion blender and various attachments.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate, into the food processor with the caramel powder. Replace the lid and process until smooth. Add the chocolate to the bowl and process again until the mixture is a fine powder.

Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place for up to one month. To serve, stir 3 tablespoons mix into 1 cup hot milk.

MULLED WINE

Ingredients (we doubled the recipe)

  • 4 cups apple cider – We used 6 cups instead of 8, anymore and we thought it tasted too apple-y. Go figure.
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon – We used 2 bottles of a Cab (more wine – happier party attendees!).
  • 1/4 cup honey – We only used 1/4 cup for the doubled recipe, I don’t like things too sweet.
  • 2 cinnamon sticks – I LOVE spices, I threw in 5.
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced – We stayed in line and used 2 for the doubled recipe I now want a fancy zester to add garnishes.
  • 4 whole cloves – Trader Joe’s did not have cloves so we didn’t use any out of pure laziness on my part of not wanting to hit-up another store.
  • 3 star anise – EWWW I hate the licorice flavor, I left these out too.
  • 4 oranges, peeled, for garnish – I just used the 2 oranges I had to squeeze – again, I need a fancy tool to make ganish.

Directions

Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve. <– Forget that. Throw it in a crock pot and forget about it!

*I may have deluded you all a bit here in order to make the story better. The 5.5 hours included painting all of the 20 wine glasses, making the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix and packaging said mix.

A Recap of Be Business Awesome


Despite being busy and poor, we’ve been trying to get out on the town to attend fun and informative events and expand our networks. Last week, we attended A Night at the Cotton Club at the San Diego Symphony and on Tuesday, we attended Be Business Awesome: An Evening With Scott Stratten (aka @Unmarketing). The Be Business Awesome Event was put on by Social Media Club San Diego and hosted by San Diego REP.

Going into the event, Blake had an idea of what to expect since she had listened to a couple of Scott’s webinars ( “The Business of UnAwesome: How to Avoid the Flipside of Awesome Business” &  “The Business of Awesome: How to Make Your Business Boom”) and already had his book,  The Book of Business Awesome sitting on her coffee table (even if it was unread). Nicole, on the other hand, was following Blake’s demand that we attend this event and had no idea what to expect.

After getting our complimentary drink, signed books, and forced Scott to get up and take a photo with us, we headed into the event. It was at this point that we noticed Scott was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and mandals that clearly said, “IDGAF” – we even had an intense Twitter debate about the mandals (see the Tweets below).

Here’s a few of our favorite takeaways, in both text and Tweet form:

  • Passion + Knowledge=Profit
  • The best way to improve your bottom line is through your frontline
  • Twitter is a conversation, not a dictation
  • Viral=unconditional sharing
  • Marketing is not a task
  • We don’t define our brand – our customers do
  • Hire based on personality, not only the “experience” on a resume (REJOICE fellow new professionals! Scott’s out there spreading the word!)
  • Ask customers & clients what your business should “Start, Stop, and Continue”
  • It would take 4,500,000 “pigeon craps” to damage a Smart Car’s tridion safety cell*

*Info taken from one of the webinars, see the infographic here

All in all it was a great night and we even got to see our good bud, Katie Rowland!

Must-Haves for New Pros


So, you are embarking on your journey as a PR or marketing professional. You have your education and business attire, but there are a few other things that every new professional must have. While none of these things are particularly expensive, if you don’t have the extra cash, tell mom and dad you’d like a new pro starter kit for Christmas. It’s one gift they’d probably be happy to give!

My handy dandy padfolio containing my generic business cards!

  1. Business cards. When you are first starting your career, there is a good chance you will move from internship to internship for a while. During this time, the organizations you work for probably won’t make business cards for you and if they do, they will be outdated as soon as you are on to your next position. Until you are settled with a company that you know you will stay with for a while, I suggest having some generic business cards made with your name, industry and contact information. There are plenty of online printers that make it cheap and easy like Vistaprint.
  2. A padfolio. These things are great for conferences, interviews and on the job. Great for keeping your resume, business cards, a pen and whatever else you may need all in one spot. Mine is similar to this one at Staples and it has had a ton of use in the last few years.
  3. Thank-you cards and stamps. Never under-estimate the power of a handwritten thank you. Always send a thank you note after an interview, informational interview, the end of an internship, or sometime someone just helps you out. Don’t wait until after one of these events to go buy thank you cards and stamps, keep them on hand (perhaps in your padfolio)! For interviews it is especially important to get your thank you delivered as soon as possible. Write that note in that in the car, stamp it and stick it in the mail before even going home. For the actual cards, you don’t have to spend a lot on them, it’s about the content, not how fancy the card is. I’ve even bought some at the Dollar Tree. My one suggestion is to buy ones that look professional and appropriate regardless of gender.

I’m sure there are other things, but I think these three are biggies. What is your favorite career accessory?

I’m a Blog Giveaway Winner!


Whoooohoooooo! Nicole had posted about her wiley ways of winning swag online a few weeks back (refresh your memory and read her post). I read up on her tips and applied them AND WON!!
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Little Miss MBA (if you remember I told you all about her in a post about us getting our MBA’s) ran a contest where you commented on her blog and could receive extra chances to win by Tweeting or posting a link to her blog on Facebook. In the end, yours truly came out as the winner-winner-chicken-dinner!

Just a few days ago I was able to collect my prize (you can’t image how busy 2 post-MBA, new-pro ladies living in SAN DIEGO are!) an eyelash volumizer, a gift card to target, and the sweetest note – all wrapped up in a cupcake gift bag!

Nicole also added a couple prizes to her growing list of giveaway wins in the last couple weeks. On Facebook she won a golf shirt for her boyfriend from Ashworth Golf and on Twitter she won the new Airborne Plus Energy from @theairborneguy.

So. All this contest entering and winning has given Nicole and I an idea, “Why the heck don’t we hold a blog contest!” But, we’re a little stuck. What do people out there want to win? Comment and let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate (remember peeps, we’re newly out in the workforce so they’ll be no BMWs or weekend get-aways).

Networking for Communicators


If you’re in marketing or PR, you probably already know that networking is an important part of your career. For some people this can be perplexing or intimidating. Who should be in your “network”? How do you go about meeting them or keeping in touch? Here are my best answers to those questions:

Who

  • Peers. People you go to school with or that start their careers at the same time as you are probably the easiest  group of people to get to know and stay in touch with. While they might not be the ones hiring you right away, you never know if someone’s career will take off or if they will start their own agency down the line. Plus, you and your peers can share experiences and learn about opportunities to pursue, or avoid.
  • Those with more experience than yourself. This is probably the most obvious. You want to get to know those senior  communication professionals because they offer great advice, make great references, and of course, they are more likely to be hiring.
  • Non-Communicators. It’s not always PR and marketing people that hire PR and marketing people. This point is really what inspired this post thanks to a conversation I had with social media pro, Sam Afetian, yesterday. Business alumni and entrepreneurs are great connections because you never know when they may need some PR or marketing help, whether it is a full-time job or a side gig.
  • Media. If you’re in PR in particular, you probably work with journalists. It will make both your job and theirs a lot easier if you know one another ahead of time. Get to know them and their interests and see what you can do to make their jobs easier. If they recognize your name and know you won’t send them irrelevant crap, they’ll be more likely to open your pitches.

See? Networking can be fun! This is my buddy Patrick and I at PRSA Summer Social. Photo Credit: Tim King Photography (http://www.timkingblog.com)

How

  • Get involved in professional organizations. PRSA, IABC, AMA… these are just a few of the many organizations wherecommunication professionals congregate. Get involved in their events, and online communities.
  • Go to events. Besides going to events held by professional organizations, look at alumni groups, general business networking events or even social events where you may have the opportunity to meet new people. Bring your business cards and don’t forget to follow-up later! If you’re meeting a lot of people, make notes on the cards you receive so you know where you met each person and what you talked about.
  • Use social networking sites. This is likely the easiest and least intimidating way to meet or stay in touch with people. Twitter is always a great way to break the ice with particular people and hashtags provide a way to find those in your industry. LinkedIn is also a great place to chat and learn from others in your profession. Don’t just create an online resume and let it sit until you need a job, participate in groups, share information and engage with your connections!
  • Meet in person and one-on-one. This is my favorite way to get to know people and although it takes time, the connections you make are a lot stronger. After meeting someone at an event, or even online, follow-up and simply say, “hey would you like to meet for coffee?” It really is that simple. I’ve had many coffee dates and they always turn a stranger into a solid acquaintance or an acquaintance into a friend.
  • Be consistent/Stay in touch. Networking isn’t just about finding a job. Not only may you end up looking for a job in the future and need those contacts you’ve neglected, but professional networks serve other purposes. You can learn from them! Learn from the successes and failures of others, learn about opportunities for your clients or learn about industry events or awards.
  • Keep your eyes open. You never know where or when you may meet someone so keep your eyes open and a business card in your wallet!
  • Be giving. When meeting new people, don’t think about how they can help you now or later, think about how you can help them. If you have this attitude, it will reward you in the long run.

Hope these help! And if anyone wants to get coffee, let Blake and I know!

My 1st Work Conference


This post may be making it up a bit late today but I’m still in a New Orleans-work-conference-hangover-daze. Basically, this is the first week back from a week stay in NOLA, exciting right?

The backdrop for our conference.

To say the least, I was pretty stoked. This was the first time I was invited as part of a job to leave the state (AND BE PAID FOR IT!). So, off I went to the ASBDC 2012 Conference in New Orleans to learn about all things marketing and how to apply it to help my organization. While attending various sessions (and getting tons of free swag) I learned a few things about conference attendance:

1). Make your presentation INTERESTING!

Especially if your session is scheduled for 8 hours (*Ahem*, Google Training Day, *cough*) no matter how cool your swag is, I will fall asleep and resort to scanning my social media channels if your resonation is not interesting! If I can learn more about how to apply your product by Googling you, you’ve failed.

Free food and swag can keep me interested for a while but not forever!

However, I will give shout-outs to Eric Spellmann (@ericspellmann) for his fantastic presentation on the “12 Mistakes on Small Business Websites” and to Herb Lawrence (from @asbtdc_asu) who presented on how to utilize social media to engage both consumers and businesses.

2). Don’t bring up the main competitor.

If you are presenting to a national organization don’t use their main compeitor as an example…I would’ve thought that was common sense.

3). Network!

The entire time. I met a new co-worker that is stationed at one of my office’s satellite centers who I connected with and had so much fun with – I even gave her a mini Twitter schooling (follow @katienino and get her up to speed on all things Twitter!). I met incredibly helpful people that I will be in contact with regularly.

Networking even allowed me to be mentioned on a different blog, check out my little mention here and as a plug for Jimdo and their SmallBizRocket initiative, if you need a website, these boys can help you out!

4). Get out of the “Conference Mode”

Of course I had to hit Bourbon street and go on a few tours! This is the time where I really connected with coworkers and met a few nice people along the way (some of which even invited me back to visit their home in the future).

Baby alligators are somewhat squishy. Hold one if you have the chance!

Yes, there was a baby goat on the street that I got to hold. This is the face you make when the baby goat you’re holding tries to jump from your hands.

A Recap of Social Media Day San Diego


Cities around the world celebrated Social Media Day with meetups this past Saturday. Social Media Day aims to bring the online community together offline and celebrate, “the revolution of media becoming a social dialogue,” at least according the San Diego chapter website.

The Masters enjoying Social Media Day with Young-Professional-Friend-Sarah

The coolest thing about Social Media Day (and the deciding factor as to why The Masters decided to attend) is that the event is FREE. It’s not everyday that you get to attend a cool networking event for free, and have amazing free swag dangled in your face (take a look at the fun sponsors the SD event had here). With the free entrance, the swag bags offered to the first 100 entrants, free prizes being announced all night, and free tasty treats, we were sold!

We got to the event just minutes after it started, but unfortunately, the swag bags had already been snatched up. I guess that is the downside to a free event open to the public. It was even rumored that hotel employees snatched them up – oh the drama us social media types can create! However, we didn’t totally miss out on the freebies.

Best free stuff we got? Food and booze. Yup, that’s right, free drinks. In addition to the free wine tastings and Magners Irish Cider samples, we were hooked up with an incredibly strong vodka drink from Cirrus. We got it just because we were fascinated with their pretty ice orbs that aren’t supped to melt (or at least melt very slowly). The ice balls were very cool-looking (pun intended), but they melted just like their lowly cube cousins.

Overall, it was great to meet some new people, especially the ones we already have some sort of relationship with online. “So great to finally meet you in person” was probably the phrase of the night. We also got to hang out with some of the cool peeps from NBC San Diego, such as our good friend and web producer, Sarah Grieco (center of photos). Just to put a little frosting on this networking cake we each received some new Twitter followers so we were content!