9 musts for every communications grad

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Robin Farr

In a recent post, HubSpot blog listed 20 things every marketing student needs to know. Great advice, so we’re going to spin that for all you communications grads about to hit the streets.

Here are nine things every communications grad should know (or do), broken down into stuff for right now, for when you start your new job, and for the rest of your life.

Right now

1. Learn basic HTML. Seriously, it will help you. You’re going to have to build content at some point, or at the very least fix something that’s gone sideways. Years ago, before I even planned to work in communications, I asked my husband to teach me how to make a website. He was a grump and made me learn HTML instead of using whatever website-building program was big at the time, but it’s been a very handy skill to have in my communications work. (Just don’t tell him I said that.)

2. Get active on Twitter. Chances are you’re well acquainted with Twitter already, but if you aren’t, get on there. You’ll find great connections and tons of resources and learning opportunities. A degree in communications from Twitter University is the best pretend degree you’ll ever get.

3. Having a blog isn’t really experience. Having a blog is great for a lot of things—writing, staying up to date on social media trends and technology, making connections, etc.—but developing and promoting your own content isn’t the same as being the voice of an organization.

When you start your first dream job

4. Communication is about more than writing. You have to be a good writer, which I listed as an essential skill for corporate communicators in an earlier post. But I’ve known too many communications newbies who think that working in corporate communications is all about writing. You also have to be able to develop a solid communications plan. You have to roll it out effectively. And being able to handle issues management doesn’t hurt either (see No. 7). Communications is also about more than sharing information. It’s about engagement, dialogue, building trust—all those warm fuzzies.

5. You’re going to hear “no.” And you thought the B you got on your final project was bad. Part of communications is being able to plan (see No. 4), and sometimes your latest brilliant idea will land with a resounding thud when it gets to the desk in the corner office. Sometimes people won’t want to word things the way you do. Sometimes (gasp!) they won’t want to communicate something when you know it’s important. Just expect it (and try not to take it personally).

6. Meet the important people in the company. That doesn’t necessarily mean executives. When you start, figure out who knows what’s going on, who can get things approved fast, and who is a communications champion. These are all very helpful people to know.

7. Proofreading is good for the soul. This is true whether it’s your own writing or someone else’s. Just do it.

For the rest of your life

8. You can never really know how people will react. This ties into the aforementioned issues management part of the job (see No. 4). Companies do things all the time that their audiences—whether employees or customers or the general public—don’t like. The message can be taken the wrong way even when intentions are good, so here’s my advice: Be clear. Be thorough. Be prepared to respond.

9. Don’t be afraid to be creative. I’ve seen way too many communications efforts that are so dull you’ll wish you were back in the lecture hall. Please, please don’t contribute to that. Creative is good, trust me. So there you have it. Whether or not you’ve walked across the stage yet, you’re officially ready for your career in communications. Congratulations, and good luck out there.

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7 ways millennials use social media to communicate

Ryan  Bradley Thompson is the lead social marketing strategist at Mark Travel Corporation. He loves to bike, read, write, and play music in bands.

“How millennial are you?”

This was a question I asked myself a few days ago when Ragan’s Millennial Mafia asked me to write a guest post for them. Given the fact that I was just outside of the traditional metric of a millennial (someone who was born “after 1980”), I wasn’t sure I could represent a millennial’s perspective.

But after taking the Pew Research Center quiz, I found out that I’m 85 percent millennial.

And according to Wikipedia, I still might qualify:

As there are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s.

Ha!

Well, not only did I just shave a generation off my life, but I’m no longer a pencil-pushing Gen Xer. After all, I am 85% millennial, right?

Well sort of…

While I can’t go back and experience my teen years and early twenties again, I do communicate with the mindset of a millennial.

Here’s how:

  1. Texting. It’s quick and easy. I love it. SMS, MMS, Y-E-S. Beats a phone call 99 times out 100.
  2. Twitter. It’s social savvy and full of digital natives like myself. I’ve tweeted with some of my favorite people and some of them have written back.
  3. Facebook. As a social marketing professional, I use Facebook on the job, but also personally. Facebook is my phone book, my rolodex, and a walled garden of content and goodness—filled with my friends and rich online experiences.
  4. Email. I receive about 300 emails a day, plus hundreds of RSS feeds. HINT: You can replace Gmail ads with social profiles and a Firefox install called Rapportive.
  5. iPad. This is all about the user experience. I use apps such as Zite and Flipboard for nearly everything. And if I like a story I read, I don’t think twice about sharing it with friends.
  6. Face to Face. This is the best and most rewarding way to communicate with people. However, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for it. (Tear.)
  7. Phone. On a night that I’m not going out, it’s great to call a friend and catch up. But I probably already know what he or she is up to, since I just checked their Facebook status on my smartphone.  

Meet the Millennial Mafia

Figuring out where you “belong” in your office can be tricky.

Especially if you’re still sleeping on your parent’s couch.

The Millennial Mafia at Ragan Communications is here to help. Join us on our adventures as we find out what it means to be a twentysomething, who can’t stop tweeting and texting.

And even if you’re not a millennial (or you’re just a millennial at heart), we think there’s a lot we can learn from you. Like…how to send a telegram.

First, see our video.

Now, we’d like to introduce you to our cast:

Jonny: Forget “EveryMan.” Think of Jonny as “EveryMillennial.” He’s plugged into 15 different social networking sites. He loves creating wireless hot spots. He dreams in memes. Jonny knows there’s a time and place to pop your collar.

Jenny: This over-achieving millennial survives on four hours of sleep each night and works 15 hours a day. She’s constantly thinking of ways to save the world—one tweet at a time. However, Jenny’s work ethic and over-eagerness for her job can be intimidating to other co-workers. But they’ll eventually see that she’s just a small town girl, living in a lonely world…

Alan: He’s more than a pouty lip. He’s got great hair, too—but even more importantly, he’s a millennial (even though he’s not quite sure what that means). Surprisingly, Alan is on the cusp of “what’s new” and “hot” in the digital world. So, will he touch while the iron’s hot? Our guess is a resounding yes.

Narrator: Jessica is the “voice of reason” for the Mafia, helping to bridge the gap between the old and young in the office. She’s still part of the millennial generation, but she’s growing up. Two weeks ago, she stopped drinking PBR.

Bill: As the Mafia mentor, we asked Bill what he’d like to contribute in his role. His response: “By virtue of having lived in that long era of pre-Internet darkness and confusion, perhaps I will bring a fresh perspective to the doings and behavior of this timorous, oblivious, self-satisfied, complacent, maddeningly condescending generation who think the Modern Era began with them. That is my task. May I be worthy of it!” Geez. Can somebody give Bill a Xanax?

Want to learn more? Follow our adventures on Facebook.