Experienced Professionals Share Insight on Mentoring

On Tuesday, March 19, the Young PR Professionals of Rochester hosted an event called “How to Create, Expand or Maximize your Mentorship Opportunities.” Hosted by Tom Proiretti, the panel included Dresden Engle, Kevin Kane, and Tracy Till. In other words, it was a dream-team panel for any student or young professional.

Rochester PRSA

I heard a lot of great advice during the program, and following are the three major takeaways.

What is mentorship?

Dresden Engle


Dresden Engle: Mentorship is the generous sharing of knowledge with someone else.



Kevin Kane


Kevin Kane: Mentorship is a way to broaden your horizons and get outside your comfort zone to learn new things and meet new people.



Tracy Till


Tracy Till: Mentorship is a relationship with someone who inspires you to learn and grow. It produces aspiration within you. I still have multiple mentors today. 



How do you identify a mentor? What are they like?

Mentors respect their colleagues and mentees. If they exude generosity, it says “I respect you and value you.”

Mentors are non-threatening, and don’t feel intimidated by youth. Some experienced professionals might be afraid to help a younger generation, in fear that they could be replaced. Those might not be the best candidates for mentors.

Mentors are incredibly passionate about what they do, and they love to share their brilliance. If someone frequently gives tips and shares valuable information, they might be a great mentor.

Okay, so mentors are good to have. How do I get one?

In a word: Networking. Tracy Till explained that sending out resumes when looking for a job is like a broad marketing campaign. Networking, though, is a much more targeted campaign. There are two easy ways to network with people in your field.

1. Informal networking interviews

Professionals are usually flattered and happy to let students observe them or even come in to ask them questions about their jobs and companies. 

Anyone can email me, and I will always respond. Individuals should always respond to me, though. You need to be authentic and follow through.

You need to think about your personal credibility and reputation when participating in interviews with professionals. Make a good impression.

2. Attending professional events sponsored by the PRSA or AMA

Do your homework before the event. Know who will be there, who you want to see and speak with.

If you’re shy, set a goal for yourself before each event. That might mean that you start out with the goal of shaking five hands, but eventually you will get more comfortable meeting new people. You can increase your goal as you get better at it.

Tom Proietti

I think the best advice of the night came from the panel’s moderator, Tom Proietti, who suggests that everyone learns their zip code’s “+4,” and include it when writing your address. It shows the intense attention to detail that many hiring managers look for. Once you build a relationship with a professional – “stay  on their radar.”


What would you add? How did you find your mentor?

Advertisers Shine at The Oscars

In the advertising world, the Superbowl is (obviously) viewed as the biggest day of the year. On no other day do commercials receive so much buzz as they do during the Superbowl.

Commercials during the Superbowl are extremely targeted. Additionally, they are extremely focused on sports and football. In other words, companies don’t simply take their existing commercials and air them during the Superbowl. Rather, the commercials are produced specifically for that event in order to maximize the return on the massive price-tag associated with the production.

The Oscars

But, as I am watching The Oscars this evening, I am very excited to see some brands take a similar approach. Check out some of my favorites.

JC Penny, a major sponsor of The Oscars, uses the event to launch new campaigns pretty regularly. This spot is just one of a six-commercial set, some of which feature Ellen Degeneres. I could very easily write an entire post on this campaign as well, as they expertly integrated commercials with fantastic social media and web campaigns.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Samsung targeting the business market as of late, but this commercial, obviously featuring movie director Tim Burton, tied into The Oscars very well and is a good continuation of their Unicorn Apocalypse story.

Diet Coke – this is fantastic and I love it. At a time when the nation’s eyes were focused on the stars of the movie industry, they take the moment to say thank you to all of the individuals behind the scenes.

And finally… Stella. I’ll admit that I have a personal bias here, since I love Stella already, but I think the brand does a great job of using The Oscars to release this ad. Everyone at The Oscars is dressed to the nines and dressed to impress, and Stella taps into that environment with this super classy, high-brow commercial.

And the “She is a thing of beauty” tagline is incredible.

What were your favorites? Did I miss any great ads during The Oscars?

Signs of the Apocalypse: Internet Explorer is Actually Good Now

It’s no secret that Internet Explorer, once the dominate internet browser, has had somewhat of a negative stigma to it in recent years. I’ll be the first to admit that some serious judgement takes place when I see someone using Internet Explorer these days when options like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are so indisputably more user-friendly.

IE has been incredibly bold in attempting to market a better product, though. I mean, it’s pretty rare that a brand calls attention to how terrible people think they are. But that’s exactly what IE is doing – to a shocking extent. Check out this video:

Another part of the brand’s attempt at a comeback is the effort to re-connect with old users  who grew up during the 1990s. This video will definitely stir some nostalgia in you:

What they have done more successfully than anything else, though, is create a completely different brand persona.They have made the brand appear so much more hip, current, and in touch with their fans. My favorite part of the whole campaign is the website that they set up (on Tumblr, no less): The Browser You Loved To Hate.

You should spend some time on the site, but I think my favorite part is the image series they’ve produced, Signs of the Apocalypse.

Signs of the Apocalypse

I am a perfect example of someone that ridiculed IE users, but this campaign has convinced me to download IE10 in the near future.

I’m going to jump onto this bandwagon right now, before it gets to be too mainstream.

I guess comebacks do come in all shapes and sizes.

Pretend HorsesDid re-positioning the Internet Explorer brand save it from never-ending ridicule?

Facebook Graph Search to Harness Social Data

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook announced the social media giant’s newest feature: Graph Search. If the News Feed and Timeline are the first two pillars of Facebook usage, Zuckerberg believes that this is the third.

Three Pillars

So what does it do?

Essentially, Graph Search allows Facebook users to sift through the information shared with them from other users. In other words, I could search for restaurants that my friends have been to in the New York City area. Or, for example, I could search for photos that I Liked on Facebook before 2003.

Google is to web results as Graph Search is to social results.

So why does it matter?

I’ll be the first to say that this introduction definitely matters, and Facebook absolutely needed it. We are all used to Facebook implementing changes and new designs, and we are all used to complaining about it for weeks afterward (until we all get used to it and then all of a sudden can’t imagine life without the Timeline). But this is vastly different than those occasions.

Graph Search is finally going to harvest, organize, and utilize the massive amount of information that is available on Facebook. That information, friends, is powerful stuff.

I think, broadly, Graph Search will do two things:

1. Provide an added benefit to users.

Pretty regularly, I see a friend of mine post something on Facebook basically asking their friends for a recommendation. Today, it was for a pediatrician in the Greece, NY area. But that’s just a simple example. People ask for advice from friends all the time. Now, with Graph Search, this will be easier and more productive.

Facebook will be able to aid individuals in decision-making.

2. Make it significantly more important for brands to connect with users on Facebook.

If Facebook is going to be used to help people make decisions about what restaurants to dine at, which store to make shop at, and which bands to listen to, it instantly becomes hugely more important for brands to connect with fans on the platform to take advantage of the search results that it can lead to.

Facebook, and social media in general, are sometimes ignored by businesses because it’s difficult to see results, and it’s difficult to sell anything. Graph Search will greatly improve ROI, because the third-party endorsements that are made on Facebook will be more accessible and widely used. If businesses choose to ignore Facebook, after the introduction and implementation of Graph Search, they will surely be missing out on valuable endorsements.

Graph Search

Do you think Graph Search will benefit Facebook’s long-term financial health?

Firestone Understands Social Marketing

I captured this screen-shot while browsing Facebook recently.


It’s a great example of social-marketing.

Hard-marketing doesn’t work in social media. That’s why the Firestone ad doesn’t read, “Firestone tires are better than other tires when driving at night.” People get annoyed with hard-marketing when it clutters their valued social spaces, and it doesn’t result in sales.

Instead, the company takes a softer approach, and positions itself as a thought-leader in the automobile industry.

It provides a helpful tip for its audience. Granted, it’s something that most drivers are already aware of, but they are still giving advice to people on how to drive more safely. And it’s also important to note that the driving tip has absolutely nothing to do with tires, the product that Firestone sells the most.

No product is mentioned in the ad. To me, that means that Firestone understands social advertising. They added value in the form of a driving tip to the audience, and backed it up with some subtle branding: “Make your car a Firestone.”

No, I didn’t see the sponsored Facebook post and go to Firestone’s website to buy something. However, Firestone put itself in the forefront of my mind, and made me think positively of the company. When I do need new tires, I’m more likely to buy Firestone.

Do you think that Firestone Tires has the right strategy?


A few days later, I feel like the presidential dust has settled. Now in the aftermath, we are free to reflect on what was the without a doubt the first social election.

Were you on Twitter during election night? If so, you were almost certainly bombarded by election-related tweets. In fact, over 20 million tweets including #Election2012 were sent on election day, which made it the most tweeted political event to date.

Check out this interview with Twitter’s Manager of Journalism & News, Mark Luckie, about the tracking that Twitter performed in an effort to predict the outcome of the election.

Chances are, you’ve seen Barack Obama’s victory tweet:

Right now, it has over 812,000 retweets, which makes it the most retweeted post in Twitter history.

The signs are all around us. People are paying more and more attention to social media. It’s becoming a way of life.

I think it is summed up best by this tweet:

In four years, do you think social media will play more or less of a role in the Presidential election?

Learning 2.0 – Digital Tools for the Student

As the end of September draws near, the first semester of my Junior year of college is well underway. Group projects, essays, and tests are an almost-everyday occurrence, and sometimes I wonder how receiving the grades that I want to receive is ever going to be possible.

But then, I remember all of the tools and advantages that I have simply  because it’s the year 2012, and I start wondering how anyone could have done this 50 years ago. The following is a short list of the digital tools that I use almost daily in my schoolwork.

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Social Media Age-Cap?

In case you missed it, here is the article written by Cathryn Sloane explaining her belief that people younger than 25 are the best equipped to handle social media efforts for businesses.

There has been more than enough backlash and anger directed at this girl in the last week, so I’m going to do my best to avoid simply repeating that. I’m also going to avoid picking her argument apart line, by line, by line – which is pretty tempting.

However, I do want to take an official stance on the topic of age in social media, both as a 20 year old college student AND as someone that plans on working in the field for a long time… even past the age of 25.

I think I have boiled my thoughts down to three main issues with Cathryn’s point of view. First is that social media, just like anything else, will never be an isolated tactic for a business. In other words, successful Marketing requires a bunch of different tactics to work together, like media relations, trade shows, direct mail campaigns and advertising.

Therefore, social media managers need to have knowledge of how a business truly operates, and how social media can fit into that overall structure.

Second – at her age, Cathryn can not possibly be aware of or familiar with all forms of Marketing. B2B Marketing is a completely different ball game. Additionally, every industry is different.

This summer, I began working in social media at Carestream Health, a global provider of medical imaging devices and IT solutions. It was new for me in many ways – my first B2B organization, my first global corporation, and my first jump into healthcare. If there is one thing that the summer has taught me, it is that I am in a completely different universe at Carestream than I had ever been in before.

When you’re dealing with products that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, things change a little bit. The purchasing process is completely different. Usually, customers need approval from boards of directors before buying anything, and price plays much more of a role than emotion does in that process. Not to mention, in healthcare, lives are at stake. People generally put more thought into the things that Carestream sells than what type of candy bar to buy in the aisle at Wegmans.

So, yes, maybe Cathryn and I and people in our age bracket grew up adapting to social media platforms as they progressed, but I certainly didn’t grow up thinking about things like dose reduction, mobile imaging, or vendor neutral archiving (just to name a few things that are pretty crucial in radiology). I couldn’t possibly operate the social media efforts for this company alone without a broader understanding of the field.

Third, it’s all about perspective. Cathryn seems to think that she was around when the revolution began, and will be around for it’s entirety. The fact of the matter, though, is that she was not, and will not be. In reality, we may have been around when Facebook opened it’s doors to the public, sure. But does anyone really think that the social revolution started with that one, single event?

If Cathryn really wanted to be around for the whole process, she would have had to witness the first personal computer, or been one of the first users of the internet. My point is, social networking didn’t just fall out of the sky. It may have facilitated and progressed the social world, sure – but there were pieces in place before Facebook, and there will be others after Facebook.

This isn’t a new concept, all technology is like this. For example, there was a time when record players were up and coming technology, and recording TV shows onto VHS tapes was ground-breaking. Obviously, those have been outdated. Isn’t it a little ignorant to think that my generation is somehow better than technology moving past us?

I am completely ready for the day that my grandson calls me an old-geezer when I don’t understand the latest gadget that he’s playing with. That’s a part of life, regardless of what era you grew up during.

Here’s the bottom line: some people get it, and others don’t. Earlier this week, I vented via Twitter about my frustration with people that don’t understand hashtags. Specifically, there’s a person that I follow on Twitter, who happens to be an older man, that frequently uses #?OfTheDay in his Tweets.

It’s shocking to me that he has yet to realize that using punctuation in a hashtag doesn’t work. In the last few months, he hasn’t noticed that none of his hashtags are clickable? Clearly, this individual just doesn’t understand.

That being said, I’ve learned a ton already this summer from a social media superstar at Carestream, who happens to be over 25.

So, no, I don’t think there needs to be an Age-Cap on social media!


Both Edges of the Social Media Sword are Positive

Recently, I realized first hand that not all executives at companies are necessarily in love with social media. In fact, some may not believe that their company should be using it at all.

To prove that these individuals are, in my opinion, misguided, take a look at a snapshot of my day:

6:30 AM – wake up, immediately wishing I could stay in bed.

8:00 AM– Get to work right on time and begin scouring the Blogosphere via Twitter & my new favorite iPad app, Mr. Reader.

Mr. Reader is a Google Reader client for iPad.

8:15 AMDiscover this Mashable article. on Vizify, a service that produces free graphical biographies.

9:30 AMComplete my bio – I love it.

12:00 PM – Lunch break: Scour the blogosphere using Twitter & Mr. Reader again. (Some people may consider this an addiction.)

12:05 PM – Discover that a friend, Heather Saffer, also made her bio today.

I asked her what she thought of it:

Twitter Conversation

This isn’t exactly a noteworthy series of events for me. In fact, something like this generally happens to me every day. And yet, sometime during my lunch break something hit me with more clarity than ever before:

This perfectly exemplifies the double-edged sword that is social media.

First, the positives:

  • Social media, and digital tools in general, are used to spread information. Without using Twitter & Mr. Reader, I would never have heard of Vizify – leaving me incapable of using this awesome tool.
  • I liked Vizify so much that I endorsed it. That is free, third-party marketing on behalf of Vizify. Additionally, I emailed invitations to other users that I think will enjoy the service, further spreading my discovery. This is viral marketing at it’s finest, and tools like Twitter allow that.

Now, the negatives:

  • Whenever people are talking about your product, they may say something negative. You can see for yourself that my conversation with Heather today took a respectfully negative turn. Obviously, when there is something bad to say, Twitter is a venue for that as well.

I always try to end things on a positive note:

  • Even the negativity can be seen as a good thing. First of all, it’s free feedback that should be highly valued. Normally, to get feedback like this, a company would need to send surveys to collect information – there are a ton of costs associated with that process! Furthermore, this type of feedback is less biased and more honest.
  • Second of all, the fact that this negative dialogue occurred on a social media platform means that Vizify will have the chance to respond to it. I think we can all probably agree that when companies have a presence during a negative situation, it reflects upon them in a more positive way. By having the ability to respond to criticism, Vizify can turn a negative into a positive.

One thing is for sure:

Whether or not Vizify had a presence online, I was probably going to have the same conversation that I had this morning. If Vizify wasn’t there to witness it, they would lose out on the feedback, and they would lose out on a lot of the free marketing potential that social media unlocks.

David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

This is one thing that one of my favorite authors, David Meerman Scott, writes about often.

I think him and I, and hopefully you, can all agree that every organization needs an online presence.

Have you ever dealt with resistance to social media efforts by an executive? How did you deal with that situation?

Starbucks and Crown Royal face America’s issues head-on

Today at work, I was lucky enough to notice two eye-catching stories on Twitter. Both involve a national brand using some outstide-the-box marketing strategies.

And, both campaigns make me love the brands even more.

Starbucks July 4 Indivisible Coffee

Starbucks is giving away free coffee on July 4 to unite the nation.

Crown Royal - Safe Rides Home

Crown Royal sponsors a program called Safe Rides Home

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