Sunday, November 24, 2013

We'll Always Have Paris

Bonjour mes chers! Last weekend we flew to Paris and well, you see, I fell in love. It was bleak, grey, raw... and fabulous. I knew I'd get to Paris sooner or later, and now considering I have one trip (and three weeks left) I'm certainly glad I waited. Although it was only 2.5 days in the city of lights, I'm pretty impressed at the amount of things we saw/ did. We strolled down the Christmas Markets on Avenue des Champs-Elysées, marveled at everything in the Louvre, thigh-burned to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and let fresh macaroons melt in our mouths. That would have been enough for me. 

Then we went to Versailles. I'm pretty sure my mouth remained ajar for the majority of our time at the 1,976 acre estate. Gold was dripping from the walls of the palace like a vision you'd only ever dreamt about. Saying it was over the top can't even seem to cut it. It was beyond. My kinda place.

Here are some glimpses into my first of many weekends in Paris: 

(Like I needed an excuse to go Pierre Herme after this episode?) 

"Paris is always a good idea." - Audrey Hepburn 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Building The Best Brand of All

Some of the best advice I've ever received was by a family friend in the biz who told me to first and foremost be your own publicist. Whether or not you have an interest in marketing, advertising, or communications, being able to market yourself is a crucial skill for any major. It goes beyond the moment you step into the interview--fresh mani and your resume in toe--it's a lifestyle.

What do you mean, "be your own publicist?"
That means your online presence (twitter feed, Facebook page, tumblr account, and a myriad of other sites) are virtual representations of yourself. How you present yourself through these sites can work to your advantage or disadvantage. We've all heard the horror stories of companies snooping over interviewees Facebook's and finding pictures of keg stands and poor behavior. Anything you post, ever, is still out there. Trust me.

But what if you want to use these sites to your advantage? The same way you would build up a brand's media presence you have to build up your own if you're going into a media related field. That means re-tweeting important companies in your profession, responding to trending topics with appropriate feedback, and adding something extra with your own voice. This doesn't mean tweet for the sheer sake of seeing your name appear all over your newsfeed. While I'm one to unabashedly re-tweet TSM (Just because I'm polite doesn't mean I like you. I'm Southern. #TSM) it works with my job- I'm a beauty PR/anchorwoman hopeful- being a little vain and over the top comes with the territory. The trick is to evaluate yourself as early as possible. Do you want to be able to say whatever you want, whenever you want, with little or no repercussions? Make a different twitter name. A separate account. Whatever.

I learned this lesson the hard way during the election season of 2012 when I was working as a Sorority Rep for Lilly Pulitzer. There were so many statements I agreed with that I'd RT, or opinions on a debate/ ad, etc. that I'd want to comment on. And more often than not, I said what I thought. It was my Twitter right? But because I was a Rep for Lilly, I ended up realin' in a lot of followers during my first few months, coincidentally the same time as the election.

So I lost followers.

People didn't want to see Instagrams of new product intertwined with political activism. So, I created a separate account, and with that, 1,000+ followers. Ego aside it was the logical thing to do. There have been plenty of times since then when I've seen something wildly inappropriate/ absurdly hysterical that I'd love to RT so that the world can enjoy it. But that's when I remember, @LillyPulitzer follows me.

Would you want @LillyPulitzer seeing the last thing you tweeted?

Once you've managed to clean up your social media, you can move onto pulling your strengths together in order to best broadcast them out to the world. Whether you're a Senior in college or high school, the resume is a great place to start.

Here's a screen shot of a few pages from my resume from Senior year of High School:

The document, which I sent in for both my internships in NYC this summer, is 5 pages in length and highlights a variety of work. Events, features, relevant classwork, and writing samples each have a place with supporting documentation and info. My first resume was a great place to begin, but as I maneuver past my initial 10 internships, it was time for an upgrade. 

My current portfolio is 10 pages, and is still just a starting point. I have two separate portfolios, one that focuses on the beauty public relations aspect, and one that focuses on the event planning aspect. These represent my Major of Communications and Minor of Hospitality & Tourism Management, respectively. 

What's inside? Information to make my experiences come to life. Images of the company logo, screen shots of presentations I've created, writing samples of press I've assisted on.

Not all of your work will be industry focused. I've done two internships directly focused on beauty PR, but I found a way to illuminate everything else I've done in a way that supports my career interests. They don't call PR "spinning" for nothin'. 

What about if you haven't had an internship experience yet, or you're just getting started? Feel free to highlight your experience in other organizations and show skills that are essential to your career path. For PR, it's time management, event planning, computer fluency, effective writing, and a host of others. Show how you've learned and demonstrated these skills in other aspects of your life.

Round yourself out. Don't be afraid to put in relevant information about big-ticket items in your life. Just like with a resume, it's redundant and exhausting to put down every minute detail, so don't. Unless the company is very specific, feel free to include as much relevant information as you deem fit. For example, as a member of the Bonner Leader Program I participate in over 300 hours of community service each academic year. That takes up a huge chunk of my time and I'm lucky to be able to work on causes I genuinely care about, so I include it.

Round yourself out.

So where do you start? By now you've seen some ideas of what to include, but the initial process can get a little hazy. So go back to basics, pull out your resume and see what you broadcast to the world. What are your strengths? Highlight them. Have internship experience? Pull those documents/screenshots/ presentations out and use them! Don't be afraid to e-mail an old mentor and ask for documents you worked on. It's one thing to tell someone you "helped increase social media visibility for the client ultimately boosting sales," it's another to show it. 

 And please, if nothing else, set up Photo Review on Facebook. You'll thank me later.