Getting started in social media – new McMaster business course

As most of you know, I taught a social media for PR course at McMaster University last fall. You can read about it here, here, here and here.

And now, I’m happy to report that I’m teaching an accelerated business course on SM – also at McMaster. The after work sessions run March 4, 5, 11, 12, 6-9 p.m. and March 6, 9 AM – noon.

This is a hands-on class geared to business people and entrepreneurs who are looking for practical advice on how to get started with various social media tools.

Participants will learn how to set up a blog, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, post videos, record a podcast. I’ll also be meeting with people one-on-one to discuss their communications and business goals and help them figure out which tools might work best for the audience they’re trying to engage.

Here’s where you go to sign up.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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So you wanna work in PR – in an economic downturn

This is the third installment in an unplanned series of posts about getting a job in PR. I’m writing it following a panel I was on at Talk is Cheap 2.0 with Joe Thornley and Trevor Campbell*.

So… here we are in the midst of an economic meltdown. It’s hard to read the papers without feeling jittery and depressed. And I think it’s safe to say that the market for new PR hires is tighter than it was six months ago. Not only that there are fewer opportunities, hiring freezes and potential layoffs.

So what can a job-seeker do?

I still believe you should still follow the advice I offered here and here.

But I would like to add a few more thoughts to the mix:

1. Be curious. Find out about the world around you; experience it. In Toronto, the AGO has just reopened, so pay a visit; watch the latest films (indie and mass); wander along Bloor Street during Nuit Blanche; volunteer for a not-for-profit you believe in; read a book by Malcolm Gladwell (or anyone for that matter)… Becoming a business/pop culture/political/ economics/tech/entertainment/food/fashion/beauty/etc. expert is an essential when you’re in PR. Make yourself stand out.

2. Add social media to your skill set. Get to know the latest developments and offerings. Learn how to use RSS in media searches. Participate in industry communities. Set up a profile on Linkedin. Sign up for Twitter. Blog. Read PR blogs, post smart comments and build relationships with people you respect and admire. Listen to podcasts. Watch videos. And be critical. Understand that social media isn’t the cure-all to every PR challenge. And when you start working, maintain the self-study and share your findings with colleagues. Every office needs a few social media gurus – who also grasp the intricacies of traditional PR.

3. Above all, don’t get discouraged. The soft economy is NOT your fault. It’s affecting all of us and is out of our control. There is a great job out there for you. Don’t beat yourself up if it takes a little longer than you’d planned to find it.

*BTW, Trevor is president of Porter Novelli Canada and has just started his blog; I’m looking forward to reading it.

My network or yours

It wasn’t too long ago when networks meant television; purveyors of small-screen programming, ad spots and big shared experiences we could gab about the at work or with friends.

But social media – or maybe the late arrival of the thing called convergence – seems to have changed that. Networks have become more personal – the sum total of an individual’s contacts and, to a large extent their contacts’ contacts too.

Which is where Linkedin comes in. I’ve grown to appreciate this community.

But one thing that bugs me is getting a form letter to connect. You know, the default that pops up and says: ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on Linkedin’. I especially resent the mock personal signature at the end.

Yet I still oblige.

I think if you’re going to reach out to someone, why not personalize the request? Even if you don’t know me, send me something that piques my interest and makes me want to find out more.

And if you want to build your network (and mine), figure out a way to truly engage me. Offer me a fresh perspective. Keep in touch.

Maybe one day you’ll provide your network with that big shared experience we’ve been missing since the demise of not-to-be-missed TV.

(Note: Linkedin is being upgraded as I write this, but will be back soon.)