Our One-Year Anniversary!


It has officially been one year (plus a little) since we started “Masters of What?” Does everyone remember our first post? It seems like just yesterday, but at the same time a lot has happened since then. Here’s a recap of our exciting year:

Nicole:

So much has changed for me in the last year. Soon after we started the blog a year ago, I spent six weeks in Michigan for the Grunig PRIME Fellowship. In the past year, I also completed my thesis, officially earned my master’s, started another fellowship and made the biggest decision of my life–choosing a doctoral program. A year ago I really didn’t know what I was going to do after my MA. A Ph.D. was always a goal, but I definitely didn’t know where or when. Now here I am with only a month left in San Diego, preparing to move to Lubbock, TX to attend Texas Tech. It’s definitely been an exciting year and who knows what the next three years in Texas will hold. One thing I do know, is that my life is going to be very busy as I begin to teach my own classes, take my first doctoral-level classes and do lots and lots of research. Because of the new direction my life is taking, I won’t be contributing to “Masters of What?” on a regular basis moving forward. Blake will keep things up and I hope to write a post every now and then!

Blake:

This year flew by. I feel like I don’t even know what to say happened! Right after starting the blog and finishing grad school I celebrated with a great group of girls with a silly Vegas trip. Upon returning, I was working at a non-profit that aids small businesses and hoping to make some changes there – however, as is typical with anything that is government funded change came pretty slow – along with a cutting of my hours. Luckily for me, right around the same time an agency that I had previously interned at was looking for social media intern. After a few months of rushing between two part-time jobs I was offered my super sweet dream job. Since then I’ve been trying to wrap my head around Nicole leaving, I mean we’ve been besties for 20+ years and have been hanging out in the same city for 6 years now. One thing I do know is that without her regular blogging support Masters of What will probably continue on much more sporadically than it previously has…but don’t worry, I’ll still be around 🙂

Now, to ease our sorrows, we’ll leave you with a slideshow of some of the things we’ve done over the past year:

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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!

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.

Young Professional Series: Laura Peterson


Today is the third installment of our Young Professional Series (you can see the others here and here)! This interview is with Laura Peterson, a close friend (who Blake has known since pre-school) and K-12 teacher with a passion for education.

me wine tasting

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

My favorite aspect about teaching is getting students excited about school and inspiring them to be life-long learners.  I love helping students become more confident in academic areas that they previouslystruggled with and motivating them to succeed. As a teacher, I get the opportunity to positively influence students’ lives and to see the progress they have made over the school year.  The best thing about teaching is that you get paid for doing what you truly love.

How do you think you have to build a “brand” around yourself, to show administration, the kids, the parents? How does this brand/persona change with each of these people (markets)

As a young teacher in this unfavorable education job market, it is very hard to find a stable, full-time, high paying teaching job.  However, I have found that I am able to “brand” myself by showcasing my strong attributes and being assertive both in an interview and job setting. I make sure to go out of my way to get to know other faculty, especially the veteran teachers and administration, so they know I am a “team player” and ready to help out as much as possible. I also make sure I am very fun and caring towards my students so that they will want to report back to their families with positive feedback about my teaching. As for parents, I make sure they feel welcome and know that there is open communication to meet with me and share their thoughts and concerns about their child.

What’s the hardest thing about finding a teaching job right now? How do you stay positive in your search?

Due to severe budget cuts and teacher layoffs over the last few years, I have struggled with finding a permanent teaching job, which can be very disheartening at times. Teaching is my passion, therefore, I try to stay positive and remind myself that all the applications were worth it and that I will ultimately land the perfect job I want. Even though it is not ideal, I do feel that each part-time job and tutoring position I have taken over the years was still building my resume, adding to my overall experience, and making me more valuable for when the right job comes around.

Have you seen similar difficulties out there when you’re job hunting? How do you stay positive?

Young Professional Series: Whitney Walsh


For the second installment of our young professional series, we went to our other third, Whitney. Besides being a bestie to both of us, she also does both of our hair. In fact, it was probably fifth grade when she first dyed Nicole’s hair.

Name: Whitney Walsh

Profession: Hair Stylist

Current Position: Stylist/Color Specialist at Sanctuary Salon

What is your favorite thing about being a hair stylist?

My favorite thing about being a hair stylist is that every day is completely different, and with that, brings new challenges to achieve the hair my clients have pictured. It also allows me to be very creative and be hands on with people.

Whitney doing hair for a wedding.

Whitney doing hair for a wedding.

As a hair stylist you don’t simply do hair, but you are also a business owner. What do you do to promote your business?

As a small business owner, I rely mostly on referrals. To encourage my clients to refer me, I offer rewards for each new client they send in. If I’m having a slow day it’s best to hit the streets and meet new people by walking around and passing out business cards and putting my face and name out there.

As a hairstylist, how important is your personal brand?

At the salon we really try to build a whole salon brand, not so much an individual brand because we’re a team and able to reach more people as a unit rather than individual. People often compliment the atmosphere and us being a family and working well together. Clients want to feel welcome and a positive energy from everyone in the salon, not just one person.

Are you allowed to have a bad hair day?

No, I’m not allowed to have a bad hair day. If I’m having trouble with my do one day, luckily I have nine other stylists who can put me together.

Want to make an appointment with Whitney? Call Sanctuary Salon at 951-956-8269 or check out their Facebook Page!

Call Whitney if you want to look at feel great. The drive to Temecula is way worth it (if you are in SD like us) and you can always hit up some wineries after being pampered!

Call Whitney if you want to look and feel great. The drive to Temecula is way worth it (if you are in SD like us) and you can always hit up some wineries after being pampered!

Young Professional Series: Sarah Grieco


Since this blog often focuses on our lives as young professionals, we decided to interview some young professionals from other industries to share their stories and insights. One thing we want to highlight with this series is the role branding, and personal branding, play in a variety of professions. For our first interview, we reached out to our good friend, Sarah.

Name: Sarah Grieco

Profession: Journalist

Current Position: Web Editor at NBC San Diego

What is your favorite part about being a journalist? How did you know it was the right profession for you?

Grieco_0597My favorite part about being a journalist is providing people the evidence they need to make big decisions. I’ve always believed that if people are provided comprehensive information, they will hopefully take more action. When I leave work every day, I feel like I’ve accomplished something – whether it’s letting people know what new restaurant to try or how the mayor’s push to increase the police force will affect their neighborhood’s safety.

I knew journalism was the profession for me when I would rather write articles in the dark, dungeon-like basement of my student newspaper, The Daily Aztec, than go to the beach. Instead of enjoying California’s perfect weather, I spent the majority of my college years underground, cramped over computers while reading, writing and producing articles for the masses at SDSU. And that made me really, really happy. Still does!

As a journalist, how important is your personal brand?

Very. My personal brand played a huge role in obtaining my job at NBC and it will continue to help me as I move up in my career. Thanks to social media, having a “brand” is a more fluid, normal part of my day. People know I’m a journalist, but things like Twitter and Instagram let them know I have a life outside journalism. People want to work with someone who’s interesting and easy to get along with, and I think my brand translates that pretty well.

What do you do outside of work to promote yourself or your company?

Working for one of the best news outlets in the country makes it easy for me to share the successes of NBC – on social media and in person. I like to contribute in classroom discussions and journalism events, such as Society of Professional Journalists or Online News Association. Sometimes I’ll participate in Tweet chats, like the once MuckRack has once a week, to let other journalists know what kind of stories we’ve done recently.

Occasionally I’ll attend bigger San Diego events, like San Diego Magazine parties, that give me a chance to talk with some of the city’s brightest people. I can get ideas from them about what they care about, and also let them know where to go for the fastest, most accurate news in town.

What role does social media play in your career?

Social media is a huge part of my job – and it’s getting bigger. People’s stories can now be shared across the globe with the click of a button on Facebook or a simple retweet. It’s increasingly important to post articles on my work accounts, in addition to my personal account. Not only does it give me the chance to share crucial information on a platform people visit frequently, but also it allows me to see what people are talking about or how that information benefits them.

What do you wish all PR professionals knew before pitching you?

I wish more PR professionals would reach out to me on Twitter. I sometimes get up to 300 emails a day, and it’s easy for me to lose some pitches. If someone tweeted me a link with a short description, then I’d certainly pay more attention than with a lengthy email that might get deleted. Or, if you need to email me a pitch, make it short. Three sentences max. Then I’ll be able to see whether it’s worth my time without wasting theirs.

We’d like to thank Sarah for sharing such great information and we encourage you to read Sarah’s stories at NBC San Diego and learn more about her at SarahGrieco.com. Is there somebody particular you’d like to see us interview here? Please let us know!

The Hiring Scale…


So, numero UNO on a lot of New Year’s resolutions lists is: FIND A NEW JOB! Right? It’s not that we don’t all like the jobs we’re at, but everyone wants “big-girl-jobs.” No, a “big-girl-job” has nothing to do with the teeeeny bit of blubber we added over the holiday season, instead a “big-girl-job” is one that has CAREER potential. Somewhere that we love working at and in return they give us health bennies (I mean as of last week, Nicole and I are BOTH in the 25-club, which means 1 more year – or less – until we’re flying solo with healthcare).

Anyway, after that long segue, right around Jan. 1st, I saw a Tweet touting the “Hiring Scale” by WANTEDAnalytics. As it was a slow night Internet-stalking people, I decided to give it a go. The tool immediately calls itself “the fastest way to fill or find a job.” Yes, I am sure there is some puffery afloat, but obviously I’m now expecting results and I will be CMO somewhere quite soon. If you’re expecting some rigorous application process, never fear, you’re only a measly seven steps away from the perfect career.

Hiring Scale

Step 1: Fill in your Keyword (MARKETING for me) and your ideal location (SAN DIEGO)

Step 2: The Hiring Scale will tell you if you should expect your job search to be harder or easier than the national average (suck it, I’m on the easy-street to CMO – told ya!)Hiring Scale 2

Step 3: Find out your competition and opportunities

Step 4: Review your options (basically all those jobs you’ve seen out there already)Hiring Scale 3

Step 5: See your proposed salary expectations vs. the National average (so, I shouldn’t be expecting anything less than $63,000 – HA)

Step 6: See all the companies that have just hired somebody for the position you’re looking for. Awesome, Qualcomm just hired someone – why are you rubbing it in my face?Hiring Scale 4

Step 7: Go to all those places you were already looking for jobs an apply to something

Yup. This is what happens when you’re desperate to get ahead and LOVE online surveys….you get nada…nada damn thing. I’ll end this post with a hearty, GOOD LUCK to all you job searchers out there and please share any job seeking pitfalls that you have run into!

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?