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    1. 5 Tips for Taking Ownership of Your Online Persona

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      We’ve already discussed headshot no-nos, and given our field, I’m guessing you’re well aware of the power of positive and negative publicity. But are you applying your PR and communications smarts to your own personal brand, in addition to those of your clients?

      2014-Deirdre PicTo take a deep dive into the importance of owning your online reputation, I interviewed author, speaker, and CEO of Pure Performance Communications Deirdre Breakenridge to compile a list of tips and considerations for maintaining and monitoring your online persona.

      Although, this may seem rudimentary for some of you, these guidelines could be the reminders you need to keep your web words buttoned up and your good reputation locked down. Deirdre shares, “When it comes to your online commentary, you want the right mixture of authenticity and polish.” Let’s see what else she has to say.

      #1 – When it comes to sharing: if in doubt, don’t.

      Take the grandma test or the billboard test. If your grandmother would be embarrassed by something you’re sharing, or if you’d be mortified to see that comment in big, bold letters on a billboard above the highway by your home, hold your horses.

      Deirdre advises, “We all have a digital footprint and we add to it every time we share a video or comment on something online.” Think about the responses you’re soliciting and how others may perceive your words.

      #2 – Monitor your mentions.

      Since your digital footprint is a compilation of what you post or share and what others post or share about you, play a proactive role in your personal brand management. Deirdre comments, “You have this canvas where you can paint a picture of yourself and who you want to be. If you don’t care about personal branding, it’s like handing over that paintbrush.”

      If you’re monitoring your mentions, then you’ll be able to see if something spins out of control and you’ll be able to veer conversations back onto the pathway of your choosing. Deirdre shares, “You can’t control everything that everyone says about you, but you can work to correct it if there is misinformation about you out there.”

      #3 – If you mess up, take accountability.

      If you mess up and post a photo of you sloppily taking shots of whiskey with a client or you post something inappropriately politically charged on a friend’s wall and it upsets them, take responsibility and fix it. Remove the photo, apologize if you’ve offended someone, and/or explain what you really meant but didn’t do a good job of articulating.

      Deirdre adds, “When you take on a role, and whether your info is public or private, you might make a mistake and you’ll have to take accountability for it if you do. If you insult someone or if something comes out the wrong way, don’t be absent. Say that you’re sorry and address the situation. Be there to make it better.”

      #4 – ‘Anonymous’ is no longer anonymous.

      Buy every college student you know Erik Qualman’s book What Happens on Campus Stays on YouTube, which examines the implications of being a human amongst today’s digital landscape. Everyone from students to Periscoping retirees should have an understanding of what constitutes unlawful use of digital devices, including the reality that you can be held accountable for anything from threatening to cause injury to someone (even if communicated in a joking manner) to terroristic threats based on what’s been shared on social media.

      Deirdre, whom is also a mom / stepmom of four college students, says, “There’s a reason why Qualman wrote that book. Many students think they can be anonymous on Yik Yak, but that’s not true. Even if you post something anonymously, it’s not anonymous and it can be traced.” (FYI: Last month, Yik Yak changed its anonymity settings to allow its users to connect more closely and genuinely.)

      In addition, and despite popular belief, ephemeral content doesn’t disappear completely either. Deirdre adds, “Even on Snapchat, someone can take a screenshot of what you share. When you put it out there, there’s a way to tie it to you.”

      #5 – Practice what you preach.

      If you claim the title “Communications Professional” then you better practice what you preach. Your online communication style will be under a special kind of scrutiny give that you’re the one who is supposed to set the bar high. Deirdre says, “You have to make sure you’re doing what you’re advising your own executives and clients to do.” Simply put, sommeliers must know their wine.

      Here are a few extra action items that will help you keep a watchful eye on your online persona:

      • Set up a Google Alert for your name.  
      • Google yourself every few months to review articles, images, and videos related to you.
      • Adjust your Facebook settings so that you must approve posts before they appear on our Timeline.
      • Secure all social media handles associated with your name even if you don’t plan on using them.  
      • Use Mention to monitor your personal brand. It lets you see what people are saying about you online and through social media, all in one place.

      Deirdre adds, “When it comes to your personal brand, it’s not just who you are but who you want to be.” Add Deirdre’s latest book, Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional to your GoodReads and consider her the little angel on your shoulder the next time you’re tempted to tweet something (even sort of) mean.

      Thanks, (author) Rebekah! Meet another bright mind behind the scenes at AirPR…

      FrankJing_EmployeeSpotlight

    2. PART 2: Big Data 101 for PR

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      We know, we know…sequels so rarely live up to the hype of originals, but I can assure you this part duex is guaranteed to deliver as much punch and pizzazz as what came before.

      A few weeks ago my colleague and engineering partner-in-crime, Frank Jing, knocked it out of the park with his succinct and astute overview of Big Data and its role in PR (Part 1). 

      Not only did he touch on what Big Data is and why PR peeps should care about it, he also provided insights into how to think about this phenomenon and three reasons to embrace Big Data now.

      Whadda guy!

      As someone who lives and breathes Big Data on a daily basis (no seriously, I’m currently surrounded), I want to take one step further and provide some actionable ways you can harness the power of Big Data.

      Once you are fixed on the Big Data idea and nailed all the basics, it’s time to identify the challenges or problems you wish to solve and how best to solve them.

      Here are 7 of my suggestions:

      1. List all your current frustrations plaguing your work. There’s a good chance Big Data can solve quite a few!big-data-101-for-PR

      2. Get familiar with the most common terminologies of Big Data. Look up things like predictive modeling, natural language processing, data mining, databases, etc. Treat these words like medical jargons. You don’t have to know them inside and out, but it’s better to know *of* them when your doctor err…engineer…starts using them.

      3. Make it a point to regularly talk with your tech people, but be patient. The language barrier may be high at first, and the same word can (and often does) mean different things in different circumstances, but good data people will be able to translate. Use their expertise to your advantage!

      4. Decide if your Big Data strategy will be DIY or if outside help is required. Big Data means big decisions. The expenses of buying equipment, managing databases, integrating with existing systems, and doing automated analysis can be significant up front. Luckily, there are more and more companies providing customized solutions for Big Data, but it’s worth considering if you have the resources in house to get you up and running in the interim.

      5. Start collecting data NOW! This is an “act first, ask questions later” kind of mindset. Yes, yes, it is crucial to develop a robust strategy for collecting, structuring, and storing data. But big data is an iterative process that begins with collecting data. It’ll be much easier to refine your collection and storage strategy as you go. Besides, storage is cheap and you can always discard what you don’t need.

      6. Figure out what your data is telling you. Obviously, having the data is only half the story. Deriving insights and weaving those into your storytelling is also paramount. I suggest sitting with a data-minded individual and talking through your hypotheses. Starting with postulations can often be the easiest jumping off point to affirm or debunk your subjective hunches.

      7. Keep up with what’s happening in the advancement of technology. The tides change fast, so be sure you know how to surf ‘em. Pick 1-2 tech focused publications and make it a point to do a monthly or bi-weekly deep dive into their coverage so you stay in the know.

      Perhaps most importantly, believe in the power of data-driven decisions. It won’t replace experience and it’s no substitute for human capital or emotional intelligence, but like a great sequel, it can deliver unique insights and give you a fresh new perspective.

      Here’s to the power of Big Data!