Archive for the ‘Faculty’ Category

Get Down to Business: 10 Qualities of Strong Job Seekers

August 11, 2017

I have had the good fortune of meeting and counseling thousands of job seekers during my life.

Former interns and co-workers, my alumni network, congressional aides, reporters and editors seeking to transition their careers, college professors on behalf of their top students, graduates of my own online course, colleagues in professional associations, and employers who have hired my mentees and want more employees like them all contact me for advice. Networking is the name of the game, and it beats solely searching for job postings.

After years of giving advice, it has become easy for me to spot the job seekers who have the most promise. They often exhibit these 10 attributes in exploring new positions or chances for advancement.

1. They know what they want and don’t want.

If an applicant says they are open to anything in any city, then I know that it’s far too broad for me to be helpful. Job seekers need to conduct research and know the types of positions, particular locations, and specific organizations they’d prefer working for to be able to secure specific recommendations and leads. Networking is more productive if people are realistic about their capabilities, experience and optimum job environments.

2. They are not obsessed with their résumés.

Résumés are essential, and should be complete, factual, concise and have no typographical or grammatical errors. However, it is excessive for someone to hire a résumé editor in the first 10 years of their career. Instead, job seekers should focus on WordPress sites, portfolios, short videos, business cards and other tools that complement their résumé.

3. They exhibit strong listening skills.

Time is precious for all parties. I do not need your life story or history of career failures to learn more about you and to offer some tips on networking targets and job leads. It is helpful if the person I am counseling is prepared to take good notes and to follow up quickly after our session. The first conversation we have — whether it’s on the phone, via email or in person — is not intended to be the only or last networking session.

4. They offer feedback and explanations in a purposeful and concise way.

The way people answer my questions is indicative of how they would do so in a formal job interview — and sometimes I am looking for talent to join our agency. Therefore, I appreciate those who are professional and provide constructive feedback.

5. They maintain a robust LinkedIn profile.

Employers I work with consult LinkedIn in almost every circumstance to learn about a job seeker’s career history. One should always try to maintain a positive online social media presence, especially during a job search.

6. They possess strong references and relationships.

It speaks volumes when someone takes the time and effort to ask for support and recommendations. Likewise, those who serve as references to young people are special individuals. It matters who you select, how well you know them and whether you trust what they say. For those who offer no substantive references: It will be a longer, more arduous job search without the human capital.

7. They connect with me, and other references, on social media.

If a prospective job seeker contacts me on LinkedIn or Twitter after a counseling session, I see it as positive and not presumptuous. Bring on the connections and the networking for life.

8. They’re willing to tap connections in their home state and alumni networks.

It speaks volumes when young people (or older adults seeking new career paths) have not consulted their home state or alumni networks. People in cities come from all over the globe, and we need to use every asset we have at our disposal in seeking jobs.

9. They are open to learning new skills, volunteering and meeting new people.

I look for individuals who are willing to take risks through internships, studying abroad and sometimes even delaying graduation by a semester for experiential opportunities. I also often invite people I have just met to accompany me to professional or networking events so they can meet people in a short time frame. Those who do not hesitate to take me up on the offer go up a rung on the ladder.

10. They follow up.

It doesn’t take much time to send a thank-you email or handwritten note, or offer a gesture that might help you stand out to someone who can guide your career search. The person who included a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card in her handwritten thank-you note, for instance, is someone I still periodically get lunch with.


Mike Fulton directs Asher Agency’s Washington, D.C. office and teaches public affairs at West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program. He worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years and has been in communications and advocacy for the past 25 years. Connect with him at mikef@asheragency.com. This blog post originally appeared in PRSA Tactics. 

Teaching is a Life Changing Experience

June 1, 2017

mike-fulton-teaching

Teaching is a normal extension of our careers in communications, marketing and advocacy. We do it every day with our co-workers, clients and those seeking to one day join our profession.

In 2010, I wanted to advance beyond periodic guest lectures, panel discussions and penning columns on best practices (I still enjoy those opportunities). That prompted me to seek out a more formal opportunity to teach public affairs in West Virginia University’s growing Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program. Developing a full-fledged, eight-week elective and teaching it in the WVU IMC program has been life-changing on multiple levels.

I am a better person, and I am a more valuable professional since I started teaching online and testing information, ideas and case studies with talented faculty and working adult students.

The students are demanding and responsive. That more than anything encourages me to keep up with current events, technological advances and continue to seek new and better solutions for public affairs, government communications and ethics challenges we all face in our everyday jobs. And the students each term continue to challenge me and conventional marketing methods. The evolution of our profession is fueled by technology and the constant blending of practices (public relations, advertising, marketing, social and digital, government affairs, grassroots and fundraising) that were once carried out in silos.

The diversity of our students – both backgrounds and experiences – adds to the rich learning environment we offer. Students welcome real-world solutions gleaned from faculty and fellow students to bring to their current jobs. It has also been rewarding to watch students apply their IMC course and degrees to secure well-deserved promotions and better jobs.

The continuing education and networking opportunities offered by IMC administrators and faculty is another side benefit of teaching. If you have not considered teaching formally and sharing your years of knowledge, I highly recommend it. The reflections and research experienced while developing your course, as well as its reception by students and faculty will make you a better practitioner and help you meet talented professionals you otherwise might not ever meet.

Be prepared for the positive changes in your life.


Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency and teaches IMC 638 Public Affairs. Connect with him at mikef@asheragency.com.

 

Reaching Target Audiences in Time and Space

October 18, 2016

kathleen-demarco

 

Think about it. As consumers, we live in a three-dimensional world where messages come to us in time sequences largely governed by our digital devices and the skill of marketers trying to reach us.

Writing recently in Advertising Age, Garett Sloane noted that “marketers are trying to understand when their messages reach consumers on different devices throughout the day, identifying users accurately as they switch screens.”

So, these multiple platforms may actually be helping to deconstruct media initiatives, and one could reasonably argue that there are message subsets, just as there are audience subsets.

To use the terminology of Audience Intent, IMC 612, these audience subsets can be called cohorts because they are groups having something in common, usually age, income or culture.

Well, messages, too, can be categorized into cohorts. For example, one type of message is the urgent one: the message that you have to read because your mobile device just prompted you of its arrival in your inbox. Another is the message coming from a site you visit often, such as when Amazon presents products similar to those you have just purchased. A third could be suggested article links that your digital news concierge, trolling your online metrics, suggests for you. In large part, the second and the third examples unpack in consumer-controlled time segments.

However, marketers cannot afford to wait patiently for a message to be processed in a linear progression of time when it suits the consumer. Rather, the advertiser wants the information to reach the audience cohort in a multi-directional movement across time, and in time to influence the consumer decision-making process, all topics we talk about in IMC 612.

As Sloan explains, “sequential messaging, also known as sequential targeting, often requires cross-device capabilities to accurately reach the same consumer across screens when they visit different digital properties.”

These marketing tactics are often on display during webinars and meetings of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). Retailers of fast food outlets have added social media experts to their in-house communications’ teams. Typically, these professionals are themselves in the millennial generational cohort, so they are used to conveying messages via live streaming and digital apps.

However, traditional media components, used for decades in integrated marketing and communication, co-exist with newer techniques of message dissemination. For example, product collateral, outdoor advertisements, and conventional radio and television persist, though on modern platforms.

This combination of technology and tradition allows the message to be pushed out to different audience cohorts on different platforms and at different moments of time. Once conveyed, the sequential message continues a life of its own.

Early theories of information dissemination thought that messages went in only one direction from the sender to the receiver. Over time, messages were viewed as circular, since the receiver-audience replied directly or indirectly to the marketing initiative.

Today, audience feedback is a blog entry on a social media channel of an individual consumer or a burst of tweets in a stream of reactions to a concept or product. The sheer volume of this consumer reactive traffic shows us that we do indeed live in a three-dimensional world.


Kathleen DeMarco teaches IMC 612, Audience Intent.

Reference: Sloan, G. (2016, Oct. 5). Digital marketing glossary 101: words you wanted to know about but were too afraid to ask. Advertising Age.

Twitter Hashtags Enhance Asher Media Placements and Amplify Reach of Key Client Messages

August 4, 2016

fulton-twitter

The past two earned media assignments I led for clients were enhanced significantly by the use of Twitter hashtags.

As part of the media outreach strategy, Asher Agency recommended using a Twitter hashtag (one was in place and the other we created) to give all stakeholders and our agency’s staff a rallying cry to tweet, retweet, like and reply to others about the key messages and calls to action.

We started promoting the use of the hashtags early in the planning process, reminded allies throughout the media pitching phase and used it often in thanking reporters and publications/networks that ran our stories.  The hashtags also helped easily track media coverage and created a healthy dialogue that continued well after the issuance of the news releases.

My Asher colleague in both projects, Faith Van Gilder in our Fort Wayne, IN, office, tweeted photos and messages both during the media conferences and throughout the day. She also forwarded photos with suggested tweets to client stakeholders during the day for them to post on social media. Asher’s experienced digital team tracked the results online and supplied the analytics below as part of the project summary.

American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index – #FitCityIndex

At 12:01 a.m. May 18 the ninth annual American Fitness Index (AFI) was released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc.  Washington, D.C., closely followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver, were the three fittest of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

The annual AFI data report — http://americanfitnessindex.org/report/– has proven to be a valuable assessment and evaluation tool to educate community leaders on the importance of key indicators of physical activity. Leaders can then focus on policy, systems and environmental change strategies that are evidence-based and create sustainability for the community.

Therefore, media coverage and community engagement using the annual AFI results has grown each year. USA Today, The Washington Post, the Today Show, all television networks, the Weather Channel, local newspapers and websites, broadcast networks, IHeart Radio, and dozens of health/fitness and business websites, academic institutions and others digest the AFI and report its diverse conclusions and recommendations.

Picture1

Picture2.jpg

Picture3.jpgPicture4.jpg

Picture5

National Physical Activity Plan Alliance – #ActivityPlan2016

The new U.S. National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) was unveiled April 20 at the National Press Club, building upon the initial plan that the NPAP Alliance released in 2010 as a roadmap for actions supporting and encouraging physical activity among all Americans.

Russell Pate, Ph.D., chairman of the nonprofit NPAP Alliance, presented the plan, which was validated by speakers from the American College of Sports Medicine; American Heart Association; Tennessee Department of Health; President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition; Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute; and Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic gold medalist. All of these people and organizations enjoy a huge social media presence and followers.

The website offering the full 2016 National Physical Activity Plan — http://www.physicalactivityplan.org/index.html — lists the #ActivityPlan2016 hashtag that continues to be utilized in discussions about the plan, its elements and utilization. We webcast the Press Club release event, so that triggered questions from the media and general public using our hashtag.  It greatly enhanced our media coverage from the new release and our pitching the story. Our partnering organizational partners and representatives from nine societal sectors – business and industry; community recreation, fitness and parks; education; faith-based settings; health care; mass media; public health; sport; and transportation, land use and community design — all leveraged the hashtag to share their participation in the new U.S. physical activity plan. The hashtag usage ramped up again as we organized a standing-room-only Congressional briefing to share the new U.S. plan and promote Members of Congress committing to employ physical activity policies on Capitol Hill.

Picture6

Picture7.jpg

Picture8

Picture9Picture10Picture11

For all of these reasons, we strongly encourage the use of Twitter hashtags as an essential component of promoting news announcements, communications and advocacy campaigns and events. #ashernewsandblog

————————————————————————–Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency (www.asheragency.com) and teaches a master’s level course in Public Affairs for West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program. Connect with Mike at mikef@asheragency.com,@hillrat1156 or on LinkedIn.

Start With The End Game In Mind

May 23, 2016

EndGameBlog.pngcurriculum map

Retrieved from http://imc.wvu.edu/curriculum/curriculum-map

As Capstone drew near, one of the things I focused on was how can I leverage my other classes to help me deliver the best capstone project?

For Crisis Communication, I developed a plan for the CDC and in Audience Insights I tried to look at why people were or weren’t vaccinating. Both of these built on the campaign I had developed for PR Concepts & Strategy.

All of this pre-work really helped me get a head start on my campaign; don’t get me wrong, there was still a ton of heavy lifting and questions to answer. Having spent time researching vaccines and the CDC, I was acutely aware of new articles and research and filed them away into my capstone folder.

So what does this mean to you? As you lay out your course schedule, try to be conscious of the end game, developing an integrated marketing campaign. If you know your company already, which classes will help you get there? How can that company be represented in those classes? For example, in Brand Equity I selected Taco Bell, perhaps I should have picked the CDC or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (my campaign was focused in Michigan). Will your campaign require a big internal communication plan, then take that class? The bottom line, don’t take your schedule lightly, take the time to plan it out.

Here are few tips:

  • Decide when you will take 636 Campaigns. Campaigns is only offered in late fall, late spring and summer. Plan your schedule to hit one of those. Personally, I do not recommend taking a semester off before Capstone, I would have lost all motivation.
  • Check your electives first. Unlike the core courses, every elective isn’t offered every semester. If you want to take Global Brand Communication, you will have to plan for it.
  • Which teachers? Deciding if there are teachers you want to take is also important. Talk to other students. WVU IMC also awards the Alexis Vanides teaching award, you can see past winners here http://imc.wvu.edu/about/teaching_award
  • Put it on paper. Lay out your schedule (use this http://imc.wvu.edu/advising/course_schedule) with your wish list and your back-ups. Prior to registration, find the course numbers and copy them there. That way when registration opens, you’re just copying and pasting the numbers into the system, not searching.

Here’s to #owningit!

 

Lobbying and grassroots advocacy are different approaches to a common goal

April 28, 2016

By: Joshua Habursky and Mike Fulton, first appearing on The Hill’s Congress Blog

Grassroots lobbying by trained volunteer advocates and the direct lobbying by paid professional consultants is not always a perfect marriage. In some organizations the grassroots wing and lobbying wing will have an adversarial relationship having the standard misconceptions of “astroturf” or “hired-gun” for one another. Congressional gridlock increases the likelihood that your bill will reach an impasse and internal strife within a government relations department does not further your organizational agenda or advance your cause.

Grassroots advocacy and direct lobbying are two techniques that need to be carefully applied in calculated situations to spur regulatory or legislative change. The techniques are complimentary and work best when the techniques are applied consistently, cooperatively and when the two functionaries are constantly communicating. Having an engaged public is important to bring about substantive action in the public policy arena and is an integral component in the overall process. Having a trained lobbyist constantly monitoring the public policy process and providing expertise is an equally important ingredient. The recipe for success in government relations includes both ingredients.

Lobby Days, Hill Days, Advocacy Summits, or the host of other names for Congressional fly-ins are usually instances where lobbyists and grassroots advocates mingle. The most successful government relations departments will not treat this event as a turf war or create an unnecessary hierarchy between the two sub-sectors. Lobbyists and professional grassroots staff should both be ushers for the volunteers that donate their time to be an integral part of the political process and advocate for a cause that they care deeply about.

The right to petition government for a redress of grievances, protected by the First Amendment, applies to individuals and organizations from the small non-profit to the large corporation. This right is also the universal standard that applies to professional lobbyists and grassroots advocates alike, granting them the authority to communicate with government to support or oppose action. Lobbying and grassroots advocacy are different approaches to a common goal.

Grassroots advocacy, sometimes mistakenly termed “indirect lobbying” is a means to influence the decision-making process vis-à-vis trained constituencies and to create an atmosphere of public awareness around an issue to encourage average citizens to take part in political efficacy. There is nothing “indirect” about a constituent meeting with his or her member of Congress, sending an email, or Tweeting about an issue that directly affects the member’s district.

Effective grassroots advocacy can be just as “direct” as if the communication came from a professional lobbyist. The trained lobbyist must ensure that this communication meets the conventional standards of communicating with Congress, polish the edges, and navigate the intricacies of the process.  Effective lobbying and advocacy occurs when both sub-sectors of government relations are synchronized and working in tandem.

When these two essential ingredients of successful advocacy do not mix well, nothing tastes as bad and objectives sour.

 

Habursky is the Chair of the Grassroots Professional Network and can be reached at jmhabursky@gmail.com. Fulton is director of public affairs and advocacy at the Asher Agency – mikef@asheragency.com. Both teach online communications courses for West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media.

Building your network while helping others is a two-way street

January 20, 2016

post_banner_blog_mike

The first month of the New Year is an excellent time to meet new professionals or to reconnect with those individuals we have helped or who have assisted us.  During January and February, I will find room in my calendar for at least two dozen meetings over coffee, lunches or happy hours.

I might be one of the luckiest guys alive or the biggest sucker for meeting new people, hearing their personal and professional stories and trying to see how I might lend a hand.  I have been doing this for decades, and I think it is the “curiosity” of being a former news reporter and Congressional  staffer.

These networking / mentoring sessions have made me a smarter, richer person.  More times than not, I receive far more than I offer.

No matter how busy you are, I encourage you to make time for others.  It will benefit you in many, many ways over the years.  Instead of deleting those invitations to trade association, alumni or office happy hours, take a chance and put your best foot forward.

The benefits of networking are endless, but here are some specific ways I am richer for meeting new people or staying in touch with my associates:

There are people I have met over the years who I enjoy getting together with for coffee or lunch and comparing notes about current events, the state of advocacy and communications, or other topics.

  • I needed a contact at a specific pharmaceutical company for a non-profit client and I turned to LinkedIn to see who might work there or be connected to the firm. I emailed a connection (a former client from the past) and within an hour I was emailing with the pharmaceutical company executive in charge.
  • I visited a Congressional contact from some years ago at his current place of employment, and it turns out my agency had a solution to some specific needs of his organization. They are now my second-largest client.
  • People I have helped when they graduated from college or who were between jobs are now hiring managers and I am able to refer promising professionals to them for job opportunities.
  • I went to lunch with a grassroots professional as a favor to an associate who wanted to know if he was experienced enough to teach an online course. I was blown away by his talent. He is now teaching in the program and we have partnered on several projects that benefit the government relations profession.

Here are some of the ways you can get involved in networking and mentoring:

  • Take a chance and attend a happy hour or event with an organization you have wondered about and might like to join.
  • Exchange your business card with interesting people there and follow up via email to see if a follow up meeting might be warranted.
  • Contact your alma mater to see if any students or young alumni need some career guidance or a guest speaker.
  • Tweet or post your professional insights so others might learn from you and your experiences. One of my friend in PRSA is actually tweeting a “mentoring tip of the day” throughout January.

There seems to be a new awakening after the holiday break and a newfound enthusiasm to start off 2016 with some resounding successes. It is not too late to get started.

Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency (www.asheragency.com) and teaches Public Affairs IMC 638 at the master’s level for West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program.

Connect with Mike at mikef@asheragency.com; @hillrat1156 or on LinkedIn.