Writing a Book

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In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, I’m writing a book.  National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an initiative for writers all over the world to pen a novel in a month. In order to win NaNoWriMo, you must successfully write 50,000 words in November. It’s an opportunity for writers to create without fear in a short amount of time. With NaNoWriMo, you’ll want to write first and edit later.

Even though I have a particularly busy month, I couldn’t resist at least giving NaNoWriMo a shot. Technically what I’m doing is a book and not a novel. It doesn’t classify as a novel because it isn’t fictitious. Instead it’s a book about the basics of public relations. I’m naming it after this blog “All Things Communications.” The book will be intended for young students or professionals looking to start in the industry.

So far I’ve written 10,000 words, or 20 percent of the book. I still have 40,000 words to go before I finish. I plan to do about 2,000 words a day to get it done. I also have a research proposal, presentation, work articles and family events this month. If I don’t reach my goal, I won’t be entirely surprised. I’m still going to do my best to get as close to 50,000 words. The important part of NaNoWriMo is giving it a try.

Work and School Balance

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I was having a conversation with a classmate today and we were talking about the struggle of balancing work, projects and school. Both us work as graduate assistants and we’re in our first semester of our graduate programs. While we both knew the first semester would be difficult, we didn’t realize how stressful it would be.

For the last four years, I’ve worked and gone to school. I maintained this balance through the majority of undergrad. I would hold (at least) a job, serve in an extracurricular organization and take a full load of classes. I made it through each semester, earning the grades I wanted and saving money at the same time. Eventually the work paid off and I was able to send myself to Europe (twice) for short vacations before I graduated from college.

That’s not to say I didn’t burn out at times. A couple of semesters I seriously struggled. I had a problem turning down opportunities and loaded my schedule with too many commitments. That’s why I knew that I had to change my habits when I started graduate school.

Since the start of my program, I’d like to say I’ve been more successful in my school and work balance. I’ve made sure not to take on more tasks than I can handle. I feel like I have just enough to keep me productive, but sane.

My schedule allows me to have a few free afternoons a week. With this time, I can either study more or do things for fun. With my schedule, I’m able to visit local bookshops, get coffee or go to yoga class if I feel like it. The important part of maintaining the work-school balance is to include some downtime.

And while I can’t deny that graduate school is more stressful, I think it’s worth it. Most of the time my stress has motivated me to work harder. More stress absolutely comes from handling both school and work, but luckily this stress is short term. How it changes my school work will be a long term benefit.

 

Two Months into Grad School

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 A photo from orientation, two months ago.

Somehow it happened. It’s the midpoint of the fall semester. I’ve already gone through two months of grad school. It’s been a ride for sure, but I’m loving the experience. I’m looking forward to seeing through the end of first semester. Most of my classes finish up around Thanksgiving, so it’ll be crunch time soon. I apologize if that means even fewer blog posts than usual! In the last two months, I’ve learned a number of things about this grad program:

1. Make a schedule and stick to it. It’s so important to prioritize assignments. Look at what has to get done first and focus on that. Procrastination doesn’t work well in grad school.

2. Always overestimate school assignments. It’s better to do more work than less. It takes some time getting used to what the professor expects. Aim high when it comes to submitted work.

3. Learn how to read and analyze academic articles. I read so much each week, mostly journal articles about mass communication. I have a system now for finding the key takeaways of each article.

4. Take advantage of opportunities. I’ve been able to know professors better due to smaller class sizes. For me, I’ve found more one-on-one time with instructors than I did in undergrad. I feel like I’m in a more tight-knit community.

5. Free time doesn’t mean play time. I don’t have class every weekday, but I still use that time for homework and class prep. It’s hard to get ahead on work, but if I have the opportunity, I’ll start on assignments early.

Being Proactive in PR

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Image via prpartners.co.nz

The public tends to think that public relations professionals mostly do damage control after a crisis. In fact, that’s only a very small portion of what practitioners do. Some PR pros never even have to deal with major crises. Instead practitioners are taught to be proactive, instead of reactive, about communication. Being proactive can make all the difference, especially when a crisis does occur.

In order to be proactive about PR, a number of steps are recommended:

1. Define your key goals and objectives. What is your company all about? Where it is looking to go in the next five to 10 years? What goods or services does the company provide? Come up with answers to these questions. Be prepared to share this information regularly.

2. Develop your brand. If you’re part of a newer company, develop a media kit and corresponding documents. These should include boilerplates, white papers, press releases and corporate biographies.

3. Know your audience. Conduct surveys, send emails and make phone calls to better understand your audience. Who buys your good or service? What would they like to read about? Always keep the audience in mind.

4. Plan regularly. Make yearly and monthly plans. Create content calendars to keep track of press releases and social media.

5. Create relationships with the media. Get to know the reporters and journalists in your area. They’ll be more likely to work with you if you have an existing relationship.

October Social Media Roundup

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Logo for Ello, the anti-Facebook, pictured above.

It’s time once again for the social media roundup. This month I’m particularly interested in Ello, the anti-Facebook social media competitor. I’m still on the waiting list for Ello since it’s invite only. Once I’m on, I plan to write a review for the blog.  Below are some of the other articles I’ve found intriguing as of late. By sharing, I’m not endorsing the ideas behind some articles. It’s important to roundup what’s being said about social media and PR. Any questions or thoughts on the stories? Share them in the comments!

Ello- and goodbye to the new Facebook? via The Guardian

18 Twitter Short Stories That Prove Tweets Can Be Literary Too via Mashable

Is Reddit’s Decision to Kill Off Remote Workers a Good Idea? via Social Media Today

Five social media skills millenials don’t have via Sydney Morning Herald

Nasty posts on social media are new riot triggers via The Times of India

11 predictions on the future of social media via CNBC 25

S. Korea Rumor Crackdown Jolts Social Media Users via ABC News

Sharing Responsibly: Grief, Loss and Social Media via Psych Central

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter make push as shopping destinations via The Economic Times

Social media and the Hong Kong protests via The New Yorker

Review of Dean’s List Vox Box

voxbox1Dean’s List Vox Box, pictured above.

I’ve been on Influenster for a few months now. For those that are unfamiliar with it, Influenster is a company that sends out promotional boxes to users. Users receive new products and items for free. In turn, the users complete a number of social media challenges to promote the products in the box. Each box is themed so that different kinds of social media users will get the opportunity to participate.

A few months ago, I received the Surf’s Up Vox Box, which included all kinds of summer-themed accessories. My two favorite items in that were the Sinful Colors nail polish and the CoverGirl mascara. Now I’ve been selected for the Dean’s List Vox Box, which is intended for college students across the country.

The Dean’s List Vox Box includes:

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In the last day, I’ve faithfully gone through the box, testing almost all the products. Of the goodies, I’d have to say the Softlips Cube and Sinful Colors are my favorite items. The Softlips Cube, which includes a soft coat of vanilla, moisturizes lips and contains SPF 15. The Sinful Colors nail polish, one of my weaknesses, gives off a strong, cherry-red color that lasts longer than most brands. I still have a Sinful Colors nail polish from my last Influenster box, which I continue to use.

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SoftLips Cube and Pilot Frixion Clicker pictured above.

Other cool goodies include the Watermelon Throat Drops and the Airhead Bites. The Airhead Bites, which are chewy without the normal resistance of Airheads, make for a great candy treat. The Watermelon Throat Drops, though an unconventional flavor, are also handy for the upcoming fall season. Finally, I’m a fan of the Pilot FriXion Clicker pens, both of which I will use for class.

Thanks to Influenster for the box! I’m one thankful grad student for the cool products.

Disclaimer: I received these complimentary products to review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Inevitable Drawback of Blogging

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Blogging is a blast. You get to self publish your thoughts. You don’t have to wait for an editor’s approval. You can get your message out at any time of day. It’s you in your truest form, completely uncensored. Most of the time, you come at blogging with a passion. You want to express yourself and you get excited about the possibilities that blogging offers. However, in order to find success, you have to post on a consistent basis. Readers don’t care about abandoned blogs. I’ve learned that blogging is a slow and steady race.

I take on new projects all the time. The projects could be making a craft, learning to play an instrument or writing a story. Multiple things race through my mind at once. With blogging, I tend to have intense, creative periods. I’ll post every day for a week. And then suddenly, I’m barely posting. I’m lucky if I get out two posts in one week.

I could blame grad school for the decline of posts, but I won’t. Instead, this is how I am with creative projects. I work on them heavily, then tend to lay off them for a while. My goal is to share posts at least once a week, but more if I can. So far I’ve done just that. If you happen to see more, then it’s just a sign of a creative period.