I would like to give a big round of applause to Andrea Lacoik and Stephen Bascariol, two Niagara College Public Relations students that obviously put a lot of effort into planning the Public Relations Student Development event. Coming from a career in special events planning I can empathize with their difficulties and assure them that it was indeed a success.
It was an afternoon of four workshops where smaller student groups rotated around. I ran the Question and Answer section while seven other practitioners ran the interview, resume, and portfolio sections.
Having students ask questions about my career put me in an interesting situation. Truthfully, I don’t even know what I would put on my job description because, like all of us at Social media Group, I wear many hats. It’s hard to predict what I will have to do on a daily basis. It was much easier to explain the things I have done – blogger outreach programs for the North American International Auto Show, asset coordination for our SMPRs and the concept behind our SMPRs, to name a few.
It was also fun to explain that I got my job through my blog. It was at Third Tuesday Toronto where I met our chief strategist Collin Douma. Actually, I think that’s how he got hired too but I would have to check on that. Either way, I explained that the best jobs are obtained through networking, especially in this industry. The saying goes “It’s who you know” but I like to add that it’s up to you to know the right people.
Another interesting thing I found was that even though their understanding of social media tools was limited, explaining them was easy. For example, most of them never heard of Twitter. When I explained it as “a mix of instant messaging and a mini blog” the concept was understood right away. However, when I explained it to my mom my explanation was much lengthier and less filled with industry jargon. It’s not a question of intelligence it’s just where their heads are at. These students are surrounded by online social media, whether they know it are not, and have been most of their lives. It’s much easier for them to ‘get it’.
The main message that I wanted to get across was that I am fortunate to have freedom in my career to strategize so creatively. However, with this freedom comes responsibility. My attending their event, for example, was not an afternoon off work. I was teaching, networking and when all was said and done, producing a couple of blog posts about what I got out of it. There has to be a strategy and reason for every business move you make. Attending this event was for my professional development as well as theirs.
This rings true in every campaign you take on. When trying to leverage social media tools it’s not about throwing up a Facebook account or having a blog with a high number of visitors. You need to get value in each campaign that is clearly tied to business objectives. Simply asking “why are we doing this?” can help to clarify some of those reasons. As students they have the opportunity to explore all of the complex tools and learn the benefits of each one. When the time comes, they will understand why a Facebook fan page is the best option instead of a Twitter account (or the other way around).
The most difficult aspect for me was to keep within the time limits. I could have talked for hours with each group but I had to make sure each answer I gave was succinct and clear. From the feedback I have received, the students really got a lot out of the event and it looks as though it will be continued next year.