Archive for January, 2013

Big Week for May 2013 Grads!

January 30, 2013

Can you believe we’re already at Week 3 of the Early Spring semester? I’ve submitted one paper so far for my Internal Brand Communication class and it felt great to complete it! Our assignment was to describe a political leader, anyone from the mid-20th century through today, and examine whether or not they promoted positive change. It was one of those papers that I didn’t mind writing because each article I found was so interesting.

college-graduation-checklist1-300x257Besides getting the first paper out of the way, it’s been an exciting few days for other reasons…myself and other May 2013 grads got word we could order our caps and gowns, RSVP for the ceremony and officially apply to graduate. I did all three as soon as I could! Now, the mission to find the perfect graduation shoes begins!

The feeling of completing my studies is so much sweeter this time compared to my final undergraduate weeks. Back in 2007, when I earned my BA from Walsh University, I was looking for a job and wondering where life would take my friends and I. As they found jobs and eventually moved away, I was still searching for work and hoping for my life to come together. There was definitely some fear and uncertainty as I donned my graduation attire almost six years ago.

Today, I have a job that I’m very passionate about and a home that I love – the uncertainty isn’t present. I also know that I am really lucky to have all I do. Perhaps that is the joy of earning a master’s degree – you’re wiser, more confident and know to appreciate all you have.

Have you submitted any papers yet for the semester? If so, tell me what they were about!

Editing with Grammarly

January 28, 2013

Microsoft Word might be the program of choice for word processing, but that does not mean that you have to use the grammar tool provided. Instead, I put my trust in an online tool called Grammarly, which claims to be, “The World’s Best Grammar Checker.”

Grammarly Logo

Grammarly takes the hassle out of the proofreading process. It saves me the time and hassle of finding another set of eyes. This paid service will always be there for me on my terms even at 11:30pm right before an assignment is due.

The editing process:

When I finish a writing assignment, I copy and paste my text in the online Grammarly platform and hit review. The uploaded copy can be reviewed for either general, business, academic, technical, creative, or casual. A percentage is returned based on the content, and suggestions with examples help to teach me the error of my ways. As I continue to use the online tool for both academic and business articles, a cumulative writing digest is summarized highlighting my areas for overall improvement.

Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 3.54.28 PM

A plug-in is also available for Microsoft Word, which means copy could be checked within the program. The beauty of the online platform, on the other hand, gives me the freedom to travel and work outside of Microsoft Word. Feel free to leverage this tool on your next assignment.

What I Did Over My Winter Break

January 16, 2013

So…how was everyone’s winter break? Did you enjoy the time off or were you itching to return to class?

My break went by quickly, but I feel that I accomplished a lot! On Christmas Eve, I submitted my final project for Social Media and Marketing and from then on, I kept busy! These three week breaks in between the Fall and Spring semesters are often a nice reward for the hard work we’ve put into our courses.

My staircase always looks so boring post-Christmas!

My staircase always looks so boring post-Christmas!

Once our final grades were posted, I relaxed a little, celebrated finishing my 11th course, took down my holiday decorations and worked. I traded writing papers for reading, shopping and cleaning my house, but all in all, by this past weekend, I was looking forward to class beginning. I was ready for something new! There is something special about that first week, whether it be finding out who is in your class, learning about your classmates in their Week 1 posts or finding out your assignment schedule.

This term I’m taking Internal Brand Communication followed by Campaigns in Late Spring. This weekend in Northeast Ohio, it was 60+ degrees, making it actually feel like spring when beginning the Spring semester.

I know this semester will be extra exciting, because it’s my final one. I’m looking forward to the next 18 weeks because I’m so very close to the finish line!

finish line

Job Hunting Advice Reality

January 15, 2013

I’m back!  I am very happy to be back blogging for the IMC program after a short, unexpected absence.

In October, unfortunately, I was a victim of a major reduction in force (RIF) at a small, for-profit college that I worked for in Indianapolis.  I hold no grudges.  It was a difficult time for the college and they needed to make the right business decisions. The economy is still recovering and at the end of the day businesses often need to re-evaluate resources to stay profitable.  I get it.

Have multiple resumes!

Have multiple resumes!

The one thing that became very evident when I started looking for a new position was how dramatically searching for a job has changed with the emergence of social media and the sheer number of candidates out in the marketplace.  There are over 12 million people unemployed in the United States according to the December 2012 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a big number.

I have learned a lot in my search and here is some basic job hunting advice and suggestions from a 15 week job hunter:

  • Have your resume professionally evaluated and written.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money but it is always good to have a professional writer work on your resume.  That’s what they do for a living.  You wouldn’t have a dentist fix your car, would you?  Once the basic resume is written and before you approve it as final, ask a few people who you trust and will give you honest feedback to review the resume and give you their constructive thoughts.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is, essentially, a business networking site. Use it as it was intended.  Your LinkedIn profile should emulate your resume so that you have good integration between both sources.  When people search they will be more apt to find you.
  • Shout from the mountain tops that your are in the market for a new position.  Don’t be embarrassed about it.  It is a fact of our society right now.  Lots of people are looking.  You are likely not going to find a job sending out resumes through job search sites.  Your resume goes into a dBase along with thousands of others. Your chances of getting noticed are slim.  You probably will find a job by one-on-one networking and meeting with people.
  • Develop a routine so you don’t get in a rut.  Sure, take a week to gather yourself if you can afford to do so but don’t make that your new lifestyle.  Get up in the morning as though have a job, shower, get dressed and get to work.  Your job is finding a job.  It’s too easy to lay around and feel pity for yourself.  Get out of the house. Have lunch or coffee with old co-workers and new contacts. They probably don’t have a job for you but they might know someone who does and can provide some great ideas for your search.
  • Avoid paying a firm that will “find you a job”.  They are expensive and, in reality, you can find a job on your own if you put the work in.
  • Be careful when talking with recruiter or headhunters.  Some are very good and others are the used car salespeople of the industry.  Remember they will build you up and tell you how great you are but they work for someone else.  I have worked with a few who I trust and respect. Others will tell you whatever they can and then you never hear back from them.
  • And finally, when you see a job you are interested in, do two things.  Research the company thoroughly. Are they really the type of company you want to work for?  What looks great on paper might not be reality.  And second, look at your LinkedIn contacts to see if there are any 2nd or 3rd degree connections that can help you learn about the company and get you connected to some of the company employees.

For anyone searching for a new job, best of luck.  For those that are working, be thankful for what you have.

Til next time!

Hello Capstone.

January 9, 2013

We are WVU

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Perspective is a principle thing. Your vision is a catalyst for the prolific. One of the most beautiful elements of an academic journey is the ability to stop and take some time to look back and soak in the highs and lows. Enter IMC 636 Campaigns. Some say it’s the journey not the destination that counts. Here’s a little perspective into my capstone journey in the IMC program at WVU. Hold on tight. Grab a latte because it’s a wild one!

Home/office converted into an ideation lab? Check. Mock whiteboards? Got you covered. A full arsenal of colored whiteboard markers? You betcha! Email conversation with a senior advisor to none other than the Knight Foundation, a leading champion of transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts? Thank you Mr. Newton. A full online survey with over 50 responses powered by Survey Monkey. 84 references containing unique insights.

Real Ideation

So…that’s how you come up with the big idea? Hello research. Hello Pinterest inspiration board. Focus group comprised of story completion tests, word association, q&a, and drawings. Now that’s a bit much que no? How about actual business cards to promote my new mock multicultural youth marketing agency Unrivaled (I call first dibs on that one. I might actually use it in the future!) All part of an effort to soak in the full graduate experience and put into practice everything learned and explored over my tenure in the IMC program. Of course, heading to New York on official business would be the ultimate cherry on top!

Capstone Campaign

The IMC Campaigns experience is a great opportunity to get that agency feel and understand what it’s like to put together a proposal and plan for a stellar pitch. Unfortunately, a real agency probably wouldn’t have been afforded the luxury of nine weeks.

SWOT Analysis

Overall, the energy put into this project is the energy you can expect. It’s been a real blessing to participate in what has been a great capstone experience. I look forward to continued momentum and what lies ahead as a WVU IMC graduate and a champion of bold ideas, prolific communications, and impactful engagement. As a token of respect to my fellow IMC graduates and those about to begin the capstone journey…may I present to you none other than the entertainment of the one…the only Hovercat!!

Hello entertainment.

Are targeted ads an invasion of privacy or an improved browsing experience?

January 2, 2013

I just recently finished taking IMC – 642 – Web Metrics and SEO. One of the topics that came up in class discussion was the use of targeted advertising. So I got a chuckle when right before Christmas I made an online purchase from the retailer Harry & David and now every time I log in to Facebook or browse certain other websites, like My Yahoo, I see ads for Harry & David.

Harry and David Facebook ad

While their ads are a bit ill-timed (I already made my purchase) and I personally think it would make more sense for Harry & David to try and target their ads to customers who came to their website and didn’t make a purchase, it really doesn’t bother me to see them, I just simply ignore them. However, I found it interesting when this topic was raised in our class discussion that there are a lot people who feel differently. In fact a recent Pew Survey reported that 68% of online consumers are not thrilled with targeted advertising. “While a majority of every demographic group says they are not okay with online targeted advertising, younger internet users and those in the lowest income households are more likely than others to view the practice favorably,” explains Pew researchers and report authors Kristen Purcell, Joanna Brenner and Lee Rainie. “Yet, even among those groups, almost six in ten say they are not okay with targeted ads because they do not like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed” (2012, pg. 23).

Pew Survey Targeted Advertising

It seems that part of the aversion to having browsing behavior tracked and used for personalized advertising is that most users don’t know how to control their internet privacy settings. Pew reported that 62% of internet users do not know how to limit the information that is collected about them from websites. You can view the full report here.

Perhaps my viewpoint is tainted because, as I’ve already written on here, I’m an online marketer at heart, so I appreciate any new technology that will allow me to drive more qualified sales leads to my company’s website. As a consumer I also don’t mind the targeted ads because if I’ve been shopping for, let’s say a telescope (this is a real life recent example) and after going to two or three online retailers to compare models and pricing I start to see ads popping up for other telescopes, it is certainly going to catch my attention and may actually help shorten my search. While I get the argument that some consumers don’t want Google or other companies to decide what content they see, my feeling is if they are making my life easier and saving me time, I’m all for it.  After all I’d rather start seeing ads that are relevant to me than one more ad for a dating site or Viagra!

What do you think? Are targeted ads an invasion of privacy and taking away your freedom as an online consumer, or do they improve the browsing experience?

P.S. Before I forget, I highly recommend IMC – 642 for anyone involved in online marketing! The class is very hand’s on and structured in such a way that whether you enter knowing a little or a lot about analytics and SEO you will be challenged without being overwhelmed, and you’ll ultimately walk away with a much greater knowledge base and skill set.