How to Effectively Promote Yourself

by Mark Macias

Apply your best public relations skills at networking events.

Public Relations is a skill that not only applies to the media. It applies to social situations, especially at networking events where your image is everything.

I attended a local Chamber of Commerce networking event last night and like every other entrepreneur, I went there to mix, mingle, find leads, make sales and create new money. It’s the driving force behind every successful entrepreneur or business owner. The quicker you master these skills, the faster your business grows.

Roughly 150 people were at this NYC event. I’ve been to hundreds of journalism and PR mixers but this business crowd was different. Unlike journalism conventions -where reporters sit back and observe- this Chamber of Commerce mixer was packed with Type-A personalities. Every man and woman was focused and self-aware. No one waited for the right moment. Everyone seized even the smallest of openings.

But the longer I mingled with New York City’s entrepreneurs, the more I realized how image matters in business – and not just on TV or in the papers.

As a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with CBS, I have more than a decade of experience working with publicists from all over the country. But you don’t need a lofty title to understand how some publicists get it, while others need a new career. Every journalist will tell you a good publicist makes the job easy. A bad publicist turns it into a laborious task.

It was no different at this Chamber of Commerce networking event. The best entrepreneurs made the art of networking seem easy. The more awkward leaders made the event painful.

It got me to thinking: public relations skills also apply to networking events. You might pay for salesforce or oprius, but if your networking skills are off, you might be doing just as much damage at these mixers as a hit-job in the National Enquirer.

Here’s a quick rundown on how to apply public relations skills to any networking event.

The best publicists listen and interact. The worst publicists talk to you and ask few questions. The best publicists know how to drive conversations. The worst publicists can drive a train into a house and they won’t even see it coming. They aren’t in control of themselves or their ideas. When you’re networking, be conscious of your words and how you use them. Drive the conversation with open-ended questions that lead to your intended destination. Learn how to grab information by guiding conversations, as opposed to talking to others.

Make eye contact. This is a common sense rule, but many people at this networking event failed to make consistent eye contact. It was like they were afraid of emotionally connecting to me, or perhaps they were hiding something. If you have difficulty making eye contact with others, practice in the mirror. A sociology professor from college demonstrated this to my class, and it works. I do believe the eyes lead to the soul, so don’t be afraid to reveal a part of yourself at these social events. You’ll survive.

Dress the part. The best female publicists know how and when to reveal a bra strap. The best male publicists know when a touch on the elbow is appropriate and how long to hold on during a handshake. It doesn’t mean you need to express your sexuality like a porn star, but it does mean you need to be aware that connections are made through the sensory of skin. Use it to your advantage, but make sure you study this sociology before you start showing off lace or feeling up elbows. And be conscious of what you choose to wear that morning. I met some business professionals who looked like they stepped out of a 1970s Kmart catalogue. I don’t want them advising me on creativity. If you’re expressive or creative, you will likely express it in your clothes. I’m sure it sounds shallow, but the reality is when you’re networking at these events, we base our perception on reality. And your reality is what you’re wearing at the moment.

It’s not about me. It’s about you. In publicity, I tell clients we need to think of what the media needs – not what you need. It’s no different at networking events. When you learn that you are talking to a commercial real estate designer (like I discovered last night at this mixer), you need to learn more about what his/her needs are before you can determine whether or not you can work together. This takes us back to point one. Listen and interact. The best publicists are authentic and you can feel it when you first meet. That’s because these publicists understand that it is really about us – and not just you. Now that I think of it, this was a skill my teacher taught us all in Kindergarten.

Courtesy of: Jerry Cantu and

The forgotten social network: 6 reasons your next campaign should include Flickr

Marketers often overlook one social medium that they shouldn’t—Flickr.

When most people develop a social media campaign, they usually go to Facebook and Twitter. This is done with good reason since marketing through these platforms is simple and the total number of people invested in these communities tend to be large.

However, here are half-dozen reasons for adding Flickr to your next campaign.

1. People are visual. You’re able to tell a story in a way you can’t through other mediums. Let’s face it: People like to look at pictures. Plus, the change of scenery that images offer is nice. We stare at text all day; mix it up to create more ways to engage with and inform your audience.

2. You can share your photo stream. The Flickr community is not the only place where people can see the photos you post to the site. Flickr makes it easy to share your photos across all social media platforms.

3. It’s good for searches. The tags you assign to your photos are used in search, allowing people with your interests to more easily find you. That means your audience will grow beyond people who already know about your brand.

4. Picture quality is top-notch.
 It’s much higher on Flickr than any of the other social media platforms. On Flickr, you’ll have fewer grainy images, and those presentations will be sharp as when they came off the printer.

5. You’ll have peace of mind. Flickr provides a safe platform for your pictures. They offer creative commons, which means you get to pick the stringency of your copyright. This feature can help give you peace of mind that others aren’t using (or misusing) photos without your permission, which is something you don’t always get with the other social media platforms.

6. You can start discussions. Flickr allows you to create groups and comments, just like all other social platforms. While the focus is around photographs and videos, people are still interacting with each other, and they could be interacting around images and videos of your brand or client.

Now, go sign up for Flickr.

Karissa Van Hooser is an interactive marketing intern at Walker Sands Communications. Her writing can be found on the Walker Sands blog FootPrints, where a version of this story appeared. 

5 PR and marketing books for your summer reading list (and beyond)

Sure, it’s almost August, but there’s still time to kick back with a cool cocktail and a summer read.

If you’re planning to hit the beach (or your patio) soon, mix business and pleasure with one of these seven titles that tackle social media, PR, and marketing. They’re recommendations from Lexington, Ky.’s Herald-Reader contributing columnist Anne Marie van den Hurk.

Here’s van den Hurk’s must-read list:

1. Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund.

2. PR 2.0 by Deirdre Breakenridge.

3. Social Marketing to the Business Customer by Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman.

4. Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard.

5. Welcome to the Fifth Estate: How to Create and Sustain a Winning Social Media Strategy by Geoff Livingston. (Click here to read an excerpt of this book.)


By Kevin Allen @ PR Daily

7 signs you suffer from social media burnout

Has social media taken over your life?

Do you live to engage with your social media tribe? If so, you may be suffering from social media burnout.

Social media burnout is when an individual becomes so engrossed in social media engagement that it interferes with his real world and personal and business activities, leaving him emotionally exhausted. Instead of energizing the participant, it drains him.

Before you can do anything to mitigate the negative effects of social media burnout, you must acknowledge that it has become a major driving force in your life. Understand, however, that I’m not advocating 12-step program declarations or abandoning social media cold turkey.

Instead, your goal should be to integrate social media into your life as a positive force. It should support your business and personal objectives while providing you with time to unplug, connect with your family and friends in real life, follow your personal passions, and recharge the old-fashioned way.

Social media burnout checklist

To help you assess whether you’re approaching social media burnout, here’s a list of seven questions to ask yourself:

1. Do you spend 10 hours or more per day engaged on various social media platforms?Before you rush to say no, consider the amount of time you’re doing something else but are just waiting for your next social media update.

2. Are your social media circles the first place you turn to for advice, either personal or professional? Although social media platforms are useful for sourcing information—especially in cases where the wisdom of crowds makes a difference, like ratings and reviews—it can’t effectively give you feedback for your special needs.

3. Do you feel closer to your social media tribe than to your real life family and friends?Don’t get me wrong—social media platforms are a great way to expand your personal and professional networks. These relationships can bloom into meaningful, real-life connections.#UsGuys is a great example of how social media supports and creates positive real-life relationships. The heart of this question is: Do you know and care more about your social media circles than you do about your real-life family and friends?

4. Do you find that face-to-face meetings and encounters interfere with your social media interactions? Do you spend a good portion of the meeting using your smartphone under the table? Do you miss what other people say in meetings because it’s not on one of your screens? Are you impatient for your dinner partner to use the restroom so you can check in on your social media status?

5. Do you find social media cuts into your sleep time? Do your social media conversations continue into the wee hours? Do you need to send one last tweet before you turn in for the night, regardless of how late it is?

6. Do you suffer from physical ailments attributable to computer, tablet or smartphone use?Some of the symptoms are:

  • Being out of shape because you’re planted behind your computer all day
  • Fingers that continually hurt from typing messages into your smartphone
  • Skin that is pasty white from your computer’s glow
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome from overworking your mouse

7. Do you talk and write in Twitter shorthand? Do you shape your thoughts in 140-character strings? Have you forgotten the correct way to spell certain words? Do you add hashtags to your opinions and ideas when speaking to someone?

If one or more of these symptoms rings true for you, there’s a chance you have, or are on your way to getting, social media burnout.

To overcome social media burnout, set aside time each day to unplug. Schedule time to engage with family and business partners, even if it’s only a phone call. Your aim isn’t to give up social media interaction, but to put it into perspective rather than letting it take over your life.

Is there anything that you would add to this list of social media burnout signs?

Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

(Image via)

Career Advice for Future PR Professionals

One of the highlights for me as a PR pro is being asked to share some of the insights I’ve gained from working in the PR trenches.

Recently, I was contacted by a college grad looking for advice on how to break into PR. Remembering how hungry I was for similar advice when first venturing out, I wanted to share my responses to her questions publicly so that others could benefit.

Are PR internships necessary and valuable – even if I’ve already graduated from college?

Absolutely! There is only so much you can learn about the communications and PR field in a classroom setting. To really understand the industry, you need to experience it first hand. The best way to do this, and one of the best ways to get your foot in the door at an agency, is through an internship. In fact, this is how I got my start in PR. I interned for a year at my current agency and joined full-time when I graduated from college.

How can I meet PR professionals in my area to learn about internships or job openings?

I recommend becoming involved in your local PRSA and IABC chapters. Both organizations offer job banks and an opportunity to attend their monthly luncheons where you can meet PR professionals. Be sure to bring copies of your resume and dress professionally.  Additionally, make it a point to introduce yourself to the event organizers beforehand and share that you’re a student who is seeking employment or an internship. They will likely give you an opportunity to introduce yourself to the attendees. An added benefit is the knowledge you’ll gain from attending such meetings, which can be hugely beneficial to your future career in PR.

Outside of internships, how else can I get experience in PR?

Follow your passion and explore volunteer opportunities at non-profits. Non-profit organizations are always in need of volunteers with an interest in communications or PR to help them spread their message in the community. Not only do you gain experience in working with an organization, you also have the opportunity to network with people in various industries that are also serving as volunteers or as board members.

Should I be using social media to make contacts with PR professionals?

Yes. PR communicators, by nature, are helpful. It goes hand-in-hand with being in the profession so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask these professionals for their insight and help. Social media networks like Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn are a great, low-key way to find and connect with PR professionals. Use these networks to make introductions, gain insight into what PR professionals are discussing, and build up your online reputation as a person in the know by joining in discussions.

What advice would you offer to a young person looking to break into PR?

BY  ⋅ JULY 27, 2011


Leadership vs. Management

Yesterday I attended a PRSSA leadership retreat at Texas State University.  We discussed several topics such as ethics, recruiting, fundraising, and social media.  However, the topic that made the biggest impression was that concerning leadership versus management.  First, let me ask if leadership and management are the same thing?  I say NO, but they aren’t mutually exclusive either.  Leadership is more about character, its something you are. Its a choice, not a position. I believe that being a good leader requires management skills, but managers aren’t always good leaders. Management is more task and time oriented, while leaders are visionaries with a big picture.  Leaders encourage, inspire, influence, and know when to step back and let people do their thing. They have the ability to “grow” new leaders by encouraging people’s strengths instead of improving their weaknesses. Management is more preoccupied with results and overseeing of logistics, while leaders have passion, which inspires others to follow the example. I have identified several key qualities I believe a leader should possess.  I realize there are many more, but I believe these are the most important.

A leader must:

1) Be a visionary-Leaders have a vision, they understand what it takes to implement that vision and can execute it with ease. A leader perceives challenges and growth opportunities before they happen, positioning people to produce extraordinary results that make real contributions to life, their company, or their community. Henry Kissinger said, “The task of a leader is to get people from where they are to where they want to be.”

2) Be inspirational-Leaders must motivate people.  Its not enough just to have a vision, and expect people to jump on board.  A leaders enthusiasm and passion is what inspires others to follow. Attitudes and emotions are contagious.  As a later you are responsible for the morale of your team.  If morale starts to waiver, your team looses sight of the goal it is trying to achieve.

3) Have integrity-Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.This creates trust because the never veer from their inner values, even when it may be quicker and easier to do so.  A leader how is centers around integrity is more approachable and thus more effective. Today there are many people in leadership positions that do not have integrity.  The world is hungry for more leaders that display this quality.  We have several examples of these leaders in the news lately.

4) Have excellent communication skills– Remember that vision I spoke of earlier?  Well that vision will never be implemented if you cannot communicate it clearly to your team or staff.  A leader must know how to communicate in various forms (written and verbal) with various types of people.  It is this knowledge that sets excellent leaders form mediocre ones.

The world has millions of managers, but only a fraction of them are leaders.  Which are you?

Written by: Maren Minchew – President