Goodbye, #J360

Over the course of this semester, I’ve blown up my friends’ timelines on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve tweeted 330 times, posted on instagram 59 times, posted on Facebook 47 times and LinkedIn 46 times. The kicker? I’m not done yet.

Oh, yes. I still have to finished my social media posts for this week. I’m sorry to annoy you. But despite your irritation, integrating social media posts into my daily and professional lives have enhanced my skills as a public relations professional.

Before my #J360 class, I considered myself as a “watcher” on social media. Rarely would I post anything. On occasion, I would like a funny tweet or two. The accounts that I followed were just friends from college or high school, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, this class also forced me to step out of my comfort zone and connect with PR professionals on various platforms. Thus, increasing my available network.

It’s been a goal of mine for the past couple of years to establish a personal brand on social media, but I never found the time. This class acted as a catalyst for that. It built in time for me to achieve that goal. Now, I have a consistent personal brand across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

While improving my social media presence was a big benefit, it pales in comparison to what I learned through creating this website. WordPress fluency is a skill that many employers look for in potential candidates. It’s a skill that I had yet had a chance to delve into before this class. WordPress is relatively user friendly, but connecting pages and developing the homepage posed challenges for me. Those challenges were solved with a lot or trial and error (emphasis on a lot).

Not only did this blog teach me valuable website-building skills, but it helped me rediscover my love for writing. Writing is what led me to pursue PR. For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing, so much so that my friends and classmates come to me for editing and writing advice. Previous to this class, my passion for writing peaked my senior year of high school when I wrote bi-weekly sports columns. Being able to tell someone else’s story in a conversational tone was a passion.

However, my passion dwindled my first few semesters at college. I still wanted to tell stories, but each paper I wrote felt like a task rather than an opportunity. The blogs I’ve written for this class and on this blog I have put my heart and soul into. I will admit, some blogs mean a bit more to me than others. This site is titled, “Walking the Wire,” because I don’t ever want to shy away from hard to talk about topics, like those mentioned in “I’m fine.”

Many of the blog topics this semester were assigned, primarily the communications oriented topics. I will continue to post a mix of professional and personal blogs, but I’m excited to really make this site my own.

3 Christmas songs that won’t make your ears bleed

Christmas music: you either love it or hate it. If you’re like me, you love Christmas… but there’s just something about the traditional songs that drive you up a wall. This holiday season, I made it my mission to find three songs that may not annoy the hell out of you:

Here Comes Heaven – Elevation Worship

Finally, a Christian Christmas song that captures the holiday’s true message, but doesn’t cause me to immediately change the radio station! Elevation Worship tells tells the story of Jesus without an annoying jingle or a tempo so slow that you fall asleep (sorry Chris Tomlin). If I’m being completely honest, I like this song so much that I listen to in on repeat my entire drive to work today.

Yule Shoot Your Eye Out – Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy is the band that most of us listen to during our angsty middle school or high school years. Perhaps I’m not out of that phase because this may very well be one of the best Christmas songs I’ve listened to. It’s safe to say “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out” isn’t the best song to listen to if you’re trying to celebrate the birth of Christ, but it will give you a good laugh.

Hallelujah – Pentatonix

Okay, you got me. This song is a classic Christmas song, but just hear me out. Or rather, listen to the angelic voices of the five talented individuals in this song. This song is a great compromise if you’re stuck in a car with someone who insists on listening to Christmas music the entire month of December.

Web Videos for Dummies

I’m going to be completely honest here: Creating web videos is not my area of expertise. Outside of the videos my cousins and I made as kids, I have very little experience. But, there’s always room for growth right?

With that being said, planning, shooting and editing videos has become an area of interest for me over the past year or so. While I interned with Eli Lilly, I shadowed one of their professionals on a video shoot for a simple internal message. It’s safe to say that it was a learning experience.

Be the (wo)man with a plan.

Planning is everything when it comes to shooting and producing a web video. Every little detail, from what type of camera and microphones will be used to what angle will provide the best lighting. But don’t get too far ahead of yourself. You haven’t even decided what your video is going to be about yet. I’m not going to tell you exactly what your topic should be. That’s not my job. However, I suggest that you spend a good amount of time brainstorming your topic and an angle for it. If at all possible, make your angle unique. Make sure its not something that’s been done a thousand times over.

Now, beginners, like myself, will usually stick to either a phone camera or a DSLR. Depending on the intent of the video, that may be just fine. DSLR camera shoot decent video, as long as you are comfortable with setting the aperture and ISO. Honestly, though, a lot of phone cameras are really high quality. During another shoot I tagged along on, the professional I worked with recorded every take on her iPhone.

Now, you have your camera selected. So, what’s next? Well, you need to think through what’s going on in your video. Will the subjects be in close proximity to the camera, or far away? Will there be a lot of background noise at your shoot’s location? These, and many more, questions should come to mind when your thinking about your video’s audio. If you’re like me and you’re just scratching the surface of web video, I recommend taking a look at this lavalier lapel microphone. While it is wired, this specific microphone comes with a longer wire than your typical somewhat cheap microphone. (If you have an iPhone 7 or newer, you will need an adapter.)

Oh, shoot.

Let’s assume you’ve picked out your camera, microphone and any other equipment you may need. If your video requires a script, you writtened it, proofed it and reviewed it with your subjects. Before you do anything else, and I mean anything, you need to double check all of your equipment to make sure it’s working. If I had it my way, you’d do this at least a day before your shoot. Finally, you’re ready to take a shot at recording your video.

When looking for the right location or angle, keep in mind the background. You want it to be pleasant, but not distracting. For example, I probably wouldn’t shoot a video in front of a busy playground. There are too many small children that will one, ask you question about what you’re doing and why, and two, they will clutter your background. Sorry, kids. No video shoot for you. Instead, maybe go for the open field with a few trees. Open areas allow for greater depth of field and more manageable lighting.

Now, for the moment of truth. You finally hit the record button.

Editing? You’re talking about editing? You’re kidding me!

Actually, I’m not kidding you, Jim Mora. Believe it or not, editing can make or break your video. I’m sorry to say it, but you should have shot the best video of your life, but if you don’t know how to edit, it will not go over well. The best thing you can do is experiment with various editing programs, like iMovie or Adobe Premiere. In my opinion, Premiere is the better editing tool, but iMovie is more user-friendly, especially for beginners.

I’ve personally spent more time working with Premiere, and well, Adobe software in general. Premiere allows you to manipulate your video and audio. You can seperate the two, increase audio sound, cut out video, add effects. Anything, really. But, the main thing you want to focus on is your audio. Using premiere, you can increase, decrease and level out the volume of your video. It’s also easier to clean up background noise in case you ignored my advice about shooting your video in front of the playground.

Just remember, Premiere is a more advanced program. So, you can’t figure it out, do what I do. Google it.

Taking Up Arms: The Feminist Movement

Don’t be too skinny, but don’t be fat. Be assertive, but don’t be a bitch. Make sure to dress cute, but make sure you don’t look like a slut. You might make a man want to rape you.

According to Sky News reporter Stephen Dixon, women who wear short skirts when they go out with their friends are responsible for the sexual assault that occurs. Apparently, the woman provoked that man into raping her for wearing an outfit that makes her feel confident in her body.

People like Dixon are the reason why feminism is a necessity in today’s society. Feminism is no longer just a fight for political rights. It’s a fight for females to gain respect from men, women, and the government.

American feminists have been in a constant struggle with the government since they began the women’s suffrage movement in 1848. Women have had to fight for the right to vote, to be accepted in the workplace, paid maternity leave and for equal pay. While progress has been made with the government, women are still not considered equals.

Since 1923, the National Women’s party, a feminist group, has been trying to push the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) through congress. The ERA would guarantee that women and women are paid equally based on qualifications, not gender.

According to Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men on average, despite being the primary source of income in over 40 percent of homes. Women have earned the right to make as much as men. Feminism is the voice that makes that known to society and lawmakers.

While feminist groups attempt to advance legislation through congress, they also do what they can to make sure women are free to be who they want to be. The phrase “like a girl” has had a negative connotation around it for as long as it’s been used. In a study conducted by Always, a feminine product producer, 72 percent of girls feel as if society as limits that hold them back.

Based on these findings, Always launched an advertising campaign aimed at boosting the confidence of women and young girls. The first commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 2014, meaning entire families were exposed to its message. After seeing the influence and success of the “#LikeAGirl” campaign, Always created a sequel to “#LikeAGirl,” called “Unstoppable.” These campaigns reached over 85 million people. The negativity that once surrounded that phrase has since began to disappear.

During the 2016 presidential election, a video leaked of President Donald Trump saying, “Grab ‘em by the pussy.”

This comment about women sparked an uproar from men and women across the globe. At the Women’s March 2017 in Washington, D.C., around half a million people from all over the world to protest Trump’s election. Feminists of all backgrounds stood against the rape culture Trump promoted in the election. At the rally, feminist and Navajo Nellis Kennedy-Howard held a bright pink sign that reads, “1 in 3 Native women are raped.”

“We don’t want to promote rape culture any further than the problem that we already have,” Kennedy-Howard told Huffington Post, “and this president is not doing a very good job of modeling that type of behavior.”

Similar to the gender pay gap, feminists are taking up the fight for paid family leave, including paid maternity and paternity leave. Only 13 percent of employees in the private sector are able to take paid family leave according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A hundred years ago, society believed it was a woman’s job to have children. However, 77 percent of private sector business don’t offer paid maternity leave. But if a woman doesn’t want to have children, society judges that decision.

“The gender revolution has been a one-sided effort. We have not pushed hard enough to put men in traditionally female roles—that is where our priority should lie now,” Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill wrote in a Brookings Institution report.

Feminism is not about just fighting for women’s rights. It’s about equal rights for all, regardless of gender, skin color, sexuality or religion. While the general feminism population fight for shared interests, there’s intersectionality within feminism.

“There are many, many different kinds of intersectional exclusions ― not just black women, but other women of color,” Kimberlé Crenshaw told the Huffington Post. “Not just people of color, but people with disabilities. Immigrants. LGBTQ people. Indigenous people.”

The feminist movement isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Rather than shrinking, the movement continues to gain momentum. Women who wear short skirts are not provoking men to rape them, but comments like the ones made by Trump and Dixon provoke feminists to take up arms.

Inside the mind of a hiring manager

Go to college. Graduate. Find a job. This is what society expects from people in their late teens and early twenties, like me. But, how do we find our first job? What do employers look for in their ideal candidates?

I find myself in a unique position. I’m a senior about to start searching for my first “big kid” job, but my current job is to overhaul IUPUI Campus Center and Student Experiences’ on-boarding and hiring processes. This position has made me privy to some insider information about what characteristics employers are searching for.

I’ve sat through numerous amount of interviews since I began this position in May. Some of them have been really good, and some of them I thought would never end. Today, I want to focus on the good ones; the ones that made me remember why I love this job.

As I reflected on the resumes I reviewed and the interviews I conducted, I noticed that the candidates I couldn’t wait to hire had three things in common: passion, curiosity and individuality.

Be Passionate.

Listen, I’m not saying you need to love every aspect of a job, just be passionate about something. The jobs I tend to hire for aren’t super fun. Most of the jobs involve a pretty hefty amount of manual labor. It’s safe to say I have never interviewed a candidate who said, “Moving furniture around and setting up rooms is my favorite thing to do.”

So, what do my ideal candidate for this position say? There is no perfect answer to this question. There won’t be for any job. Whatever your passion is, do your best to connect it to the position you’re being considered for. Do you love to help people? Do you love being a part of a team? Whatever your passion is connect it to the position, and articulate that throughout the hiring and interview processes.

Be Curious.

This is an instance when curiosity does not kill the cat. I want to see candidates who are hungry to learn as much as they can. I want candidates who are genuinely interested in my organization and what it stands for. And maybe this is selfish, but I want candidates who are at least somewhat interested in my thoughts about the job and how I obtained my position.

My point is, come ready to ask questions. But don’t just ask the basic questions. Show me that you really put some thought and time into it. I promise that you can wow me, and any other hiring manager, with a question we aren’t expecting.

Be You.

I know what you’re thinking. Everyone says this, but it’s true. Organizations don’t just hire based skill sets. They hire based on personality. They want to see if you’re a good fit for the team. So before you freak yourself out preparing for an interview, just take a deep breath. The most important thing to remember is to let your personality shine through.

Article Review: VEO is coming

Hey Siri,  what’s search engine optimization?

“Search engine optimization is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results- often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.”

But how does Siri find that information? Search engine optimization (SEO), like every other technology, has evolved. SEO used to be simple… Okay, simple might not be the best word for that, but the point is there’s so much more to it now.

Think about it. How do you search for information? On a computer? Tablet? Do you use your phone? Do you ask Siri or Alexa? Research suggests that between 30 and 50 percent of all searches will be conducted using voice by 2020. That means SEO just got a lot more complicated.

I recently ran across a guide to SEO in 2019. The guide is split into nine different chapters, each outlining how to cultivate successful SEO in the coming year. All of the content is useful, but chapter seven holds the secret to SEO’s future: Voice Engine Optimization.  The guide broke down voice engine optimization in three easy (or at least kind of easy) parts:

  1. High ranking content wins.
  2. Featured snippets are your friend.
  3. Q & A’s mean business.

High ranking content wins.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that all optimization, including voice, should be geared towards Google. When it comes to SEO, Google writes the rule book… literally. Google used to just analyze five sections of a website for keywords: Title Tag, URL, Image ALT text, description tag and H1 tag.

Not anymore, folks. Now Google analyzes content and context. Google’s highest ranking content covers topics in-depth. What does that mean? The SEO in 2019 guide suggests that content is at least 2000 words. The content needs to be authoritative, and share everything there is to know about the topic.

But the key to high ranking content? Keywords. Keywords need to be repeated all across the page. It should be in the metadata, the article, the caption of the picture. If there is content on your page, the keyword should be in it.

Combined, all of these suggestions should rank your content higher on Google. Voice searches typically only list the top one to five search results. That means if you don’t have a high ranking, you’re out of luck. The higher your content ranks, the more visible it will be in voice searches.

Featured snippets are your friend.

Google has all of these fancy algorithms to determine what the best content on the internet is. One of these algorithms determines what will appear as a featured snippet. Featured snippets appear at the top of a search, even before the first link. A study of 10,000 Google home devices revealed that 40.7 percent of voice search results come from a featured snippet.

But how can you get your content to appear in a featured snippet? Well, the guide to SEO in 2019 covers that too. To put it simply, you need “snippet bait.”

“Snippet bait is a 40-60 word block of content specifically designed to rank in the Featured Snippet spot.”

If you look at the featured snippet, you’ll notice two things: its short and it gives you the answer to your question. The featured snippet section makes it easy for voice search engines to give you the answer you want without having to dig.

Q & A’s mean business.

Let’s pause for a minute, and think about how I started this article off. That’s right. I started it by asking Siri a question, as I assume most of you do when you conduct voice searches. Embedding questions and answers into your site makes it easier for voice engines to find your content.

The guide to SEO in 2019 suggest developing a FAQ page if you’re going to attempt to optimize your site for voice search. FAQ pages are typically easy to create, and it’s easier to find for your users. The questions on your FAQ page need to be simple and conversational. In other words, write it as someone would ask it. Don’t try to get fancy.

Answers should stay between 40 and 60 words, and capitalize on keywords. The answer shouldn’t be over-complicated. It should be easy for the voice engine to find. Wait… doesn’t that sound like something you just read about? Q & A’s are a great way to increase the odds of obtaining a featured snippet.

Voice search optimization is relatively simple, as long as you know a little bit about SEO. Keep in mind, between 30 and 50 percent of people will be using voice search by 2020. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you should start optimizing for voice now.

Twitter makes it easy to spark conversations

“What’s your favorite social media platform for business?”

The answer to this question is rather complicated. One organization may find success with Facebook, while another finds it on Twitter. The audience, message and goals of the organization all play a part in determining the appropriate social platform on which the organization should establish a presence.

Throughout every blog, I’ve remain constant in my values. Despite the growth of digital media, establishing and nourishing relationships is the key to success in business. Twitter is an engagement goldmine. From hashtag to photos and videos, there are so many tools and features businesses can utilize to connect with their clients.

As we all know, in order to engage with someone, the content you produce needs to be relevant to them. Twitter makes it easy to identify the users you should be targeting. Through Twitter Ads, businesses can target specific audiences based on gender, language, personal interests, followers, devices, behavior, keywords and geography.  However, the targeting capability that could be most useful when attempting to spark a conversation is tailored audience targeting. Tailored audience targeting allows businesses to target users who have already expressed interest in their brand or product.

Twitter-Tailored-Audiences-640x425

Not only is Twitter unique in that it allows for easy communication between business and client, it gives businesses creative freedom to establish their tone on social media. Twitter typically has more light-hearted and fun content, rather than the matter-of-fact content found on Facebook.

One of my favorite business accounts on Twitter is Wendy’s. Wendy’s isn’t afraid to make fun of themselves online… or their competition. Wendy’s, as they like to say, “roasts the competition.” By interacting with competitors and critics online, Wendy’s built a social media reputation. Many times these interactions have gone viral.

wendys

What else does Wendy’s do on Twitter? The company interacts with customers, news outlets and other random accounts. Imagine that. A business finding success by igniting conversation. Who would have thought?

Twitter is really unlike any platform. It’s features are built to encourage friendly, or in some cases not-so-friendly, conversation. If the main objective of a business is to build relationships, Twitter might be the platform to build a brand on. Just keep in mind that every business is different. The platform that might be perfect for one business could be a nightmare for another.

PR in the digital era

What comes to your mind when you think of public relations? Maybe you think of something as simple as a press release or brand reputation. Perhaps you think of a hashtag or sponsored campaign on social media. Neither of those answers are wrong. With the emergence of the digital era, public relations has evolved into a multifaceted tool consisting of both traditional and digital strategies.

Digital

We live in a world of instant gratification. As such, our clients want to see the results of their campaign almost as soon as it starts. Even just 15 years ago, that would have seem like an impossible feat. Now, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, you name it, can measure impressions and other analytics in real time. Digital media caters to those who need quick action and results.

In addition, digital media allows for campaigns to reach a wider audience. People from around the world gravitate to Twitter and Facebook for their news and daily entertainment. These social media platform allow you to target specific demographics or geographical locations, making it easier for you to reach your intended audience on a larger scale.

Digital media has also promoted the inventions of various softwares that make executing traditional public relations tactics easier. Media relations softwares, like Cision and Meltwater, give professionals access to a vast database of influencers and journalists. By sifting through a collection of articles or publications, the professional can connect with the influencer who fits their target audience.

Balance

Inexperienced professionals or organizations tend to lean solely on digital public relations to drive a campaign or reach a goal. But those with knowledge of the field understand the importance of balance between traditional and digital. When brands rely exclusively on one side or the other, an entire section of the target audience is left out.

Relationships

But no matter how much the industry landscape changes, public relations will always hinge on the strength of relationships established with influencers, clients and publics. Digital and traditional public relations professionals both have to cultivate numerous relationships. Digital-focused professionals tend to focus on relationships with online influencers, like bloggers, while traditional-focused professionals develop relationships with journalists and broadcasters.

A blessing in disguise

Two hundred and five days. That’s how long the IUPUI’s class of 2019 has until graduation. Throughout our school experiences, we’ve all been faced with a multitude of decisions:

Do I want to play sports? Should I take choir, band, orchestra or art? What’s my major going to be? Where will I go to college?

The list could go on and on, but today I want to focus on my decision to attend IUPUI. I’ll come right on out and say it: IUPUI is not where I thought I would end up.

Let’s flashback to three years ago. I was a senior at Southport High School, which is about 10 miles south of IUPUI. Since I had started high school in 2012, I had started at midfield on the varsity soccer team, and I wanted to continue my soccer career in college. Sports have always been an integral part of my life. Basketball, softball, track and soccer all played a part in shaping who I was, and I wasn’t ready to give that up.

Every college I had scouted out and that had scouted me was outside of Indiana. I had no desire to stay in this state after graduation, and frankly, I wasn’t good enough to earn a soccer scholarship at any of the schools in Indy. After about a year of college visits, I had landed on Greenville College, a small Christian school in the middle of nowhere Illinois. The school is small, and there really isn’t very much to do around it. But, I didn’t care. It wasn’t Indiana.

Except, my plans were foiled just a few games into my senior season. In the game against our rival, Perry Meridian, I snapped the tendons and ligaments in my dominant ankle. My season was over and so was my soccer career. Months of pain management, physical therapy and eventually, surgery followed my injury.

As it turns out, the injury was a blessing in disguise. Because of my physical therapy and follow-up appointments, I thought it would be better to stay close to home. I told myself, “IUPUI won’t be terrible for just one year.” But after just a few weeks of classes, I fell in love. I fell in love with the people, the campus and the opportunities I had being so close to downtown.

Looking back now, I wouldn’t have changed anything. IUPUI is where I met my best friend. It’s where my faith in Jesus was challenged and reaffirmed. It’s where I’ve made connections and build relationships with professors, advisors and coworkers who have inspired me to become the best professional I can be.

From the start of my college career, I knew journalism and public relations was the career I wanted to pursue. Little did I know, I would be blessed with professors who established reputations as experts in their field. These professors have supported me and encouraged me in opportunity I’ve dream of of have chosen to pursue. Without them, I wouldn’t be as confident as I prepare to enter the workforce in a mere 205 days. Without their encouragement and support, I probably wouldn’t have landed an internship with Eli Lilly this past summer.

My life isn’t what I thought it would be three years ago, and thank God it isn’t. I ended up right where I was supposed to: Surrounded my people who are invested in my success in a place where I can achieve my dreams.