Millennial reflections on 9/11

Image

By Tom Wood

I am a millennial, a member of Generation Y, a college student and an avid technology user. More often than not, as I sit on my laptop at home, I put myself in the line of fire of my mother’s campaigns against technology. “You spend hours on that thing! Hours! Why don’t you get off and read a book?”

Both my parents are avid readers. They constantly try and guilt trip me out of hours of social networking with cries like, “do you think great men like Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln would’ve sat on a computer?!”

Perhaps I’ll tweet that quote to my friends, but nonetheless their tirades give me pause. I begin to doubt the uses of social media. I begin to sympathize with their points of view and think that maybe social media is the reason why my generation can’t read the classics or concentrate in class. I begin to think that maybe I should deactivate my Facebook and Twitter accounts and spend all my hours with my dad’s favorite classic –The Iliad.

But on 9/11 of all days, my faith in the goodness of social media is restored. Today, a day which will live in solemnity for all Americans for as long as this country exists reminds me why social media is so important for my generation.

Let me explain why.

I am a Chicagoan. I hail from the suburbs and go to school in the city. This is the only life I have ever known. While I wouldn’t consider myself sheltered in any way, I know I am relatively unconnected from the rest of the world. I use my Facebook and Twitter mainly to keep in touch with local friends and wish people happy birthday, never to stimulate reflection on world events.

I had never really taken the time to reflect on that until today. Today, I logged into Facebook and saw the momentum of a generation whose obsession with social media has compelled them to action. It happens every year, but as I grow older I am even more impressed by the social media movements that focus around the events of our lives, and today specifically, 9/11.

Eleven years later, my newsfeed gleams with red white and blue as many of my hundreds of Facebook friends post about 9/11. I see status’ thanking our armed forces, remembering a lost family member or simply reiterating how great our country is in the face of adversity. How eleven years later we haven’t forgotten the sacrifices of our soldiers, firefighters, policemen, and civilian heroes.

I click on my class Facebook page and see that one girl has posted the simple prompt “Do you guys remember 9/11….? :(“ A couple hours later that post has fifty some comments, each telling an individual story.

There’s a reflection from a Chinese student, who rode to the top of the World Trade Center his first time in America, the summer of 2001.

A girl from Bangladesh tells how in her house “the hours after the attack were spent in trepidation,” fearing for the lives of their relatives in New York.

Most touching was the reflection of a student who was at his dad’s office that day and had a clear view of the event. He recalls how his horrified father whispered to him “we all just witnessed mass murder.”

And finally there are the stories of those who lost loved ones, putting their stories out in public, across all media platforms for support and to tell the world that this wasn’t something to be removed from. This is personal.

Facebook is only the beginning. My Twitter feed yields more. Today I discovered, and chose to follow the 9/11 Memorial Twitter feed. For hours now, I have been receiving updates remembering those who lost their lives or were otherwise affected by the accident. The newsfeed chooses to re-tweet as many stories as possible. In this way, I have heard from complete strangers- from marines and firefighters, to politicians and celebrities, all portraying the same message: we will never forget.

Older generations may judge. They will look at us and say “they are too caught up in their electronics and instant messaging.” But they don’t understand. We are part of something. Generation Y is growing up to be a generation of movers and shakers. Because of our passion for social media, we are connected. My vision of 9/11 has been shaped so much by social media. Facebook gave me the chance to read my classmates’ first hand stories, and Twitter linked me to people I most likely will never meet.

 This is our legacy. We may occasionally waste time on our computers and smartphones but when we want to get our message across, we do it. Whether it is to campaign for our politicians, promote a charity or cry for justice Generation Y will get it done.

And the message we put out there today is one that connects us not only as a nation, but as a generation across the globe. We will never forget. 

13 things millennials need to know when starting a job search

Image

By Jason Syptak

Career hunting is a piece of cake. It’s a gigantic, delicious, dairy- and gluten free piece of cake. Not really. But that’s what I thought as a Texas A&M University student.

Being a full-time job seeker is discouraging.

Venturing to the magical New York City after college graduation was always my plan. With my acceptance into the New York University Summer Publishing Institute that’s just what I did. When the program ended, my career quest officially started. Here’s what I wish I knew at the start of my job search

1.     Begin with a targeted list

You will exercise your marketing muscles by segmenting the job market, targeting the market with the greatest return and then positioning yourself right in front by showcasing core competencies.

Take note of companies, websites, contacts, email addresses, and characteristics that catch your attention because it will help track progress.

2.     Organize your materials

Begin to craft tailored materials for each target. Organize yourself by packaging cover letters, resumes and portfolio compilations into company-separated folders.

3.     Strip your resume

Large companies have online application systems requiring you to upload a document or PDF. Such systems tear resumes to shreds by only extracting words. It gets messy: Bullets are entirely out of line and text is clumped together. Create an entirely unformatted resume to avoid the mess.

4.     Send initial outreach emails

Individuals holding high-rank titles are humans too. Usually they respond if you succinctly prove yourself and are persistent in your outreach.

5.     Score informational interviews

Informational interviews provide tremendous opportunities to build connections. Informational interviewers may not be able to get you a job directly, but they become a part of your larger network.

Keep in touch with and update them along your journey using Twitter or LinkedIn.

6.     Practice patience

This proves to be my biggest challenge. Whereas many respond to emails, many also do not. In my experience it’s completely disheartening and leaves one in an uncertainty abyss. But that’s OK. Learn to play the game so it doesn’t play you!

7.     Revamp your social media presence

If your social mix is sporadic and unorganized, now is the time to outline professional and personal network-specific theme strategies. Always remember to stay fresh and keep it classy.

8.     Attend to relevant news

I constantly open a “Daily Reads” bookmark folder jam-packed with online publications reporting on my interested fields. Not only do I now have Twitter content, but I’m keeping up with the latest happenings.

Continue to educate yourself by reading focused news and absorbing it.

9.     Send follow up No. 1

Remember that initial outreach email you sent two days ago? No response, I bet. It’s the third day and time to send follow up email No. 1. Send a polite email letting the hiring manager know you’re following up.

10.Do something else

Pick up a couple of projects. Guest-write for a blog or start your own. Freelance. My own social media small business consulting is field-relevant and adds a self-revenue stream. Social media marketing for others also involves finalizing one’s self-brand for credibility promotion.

It’s important to stay busy and not lazy.

11.Bookmark job websites

Some situations play out where you have a direct contact into a company, they become one of your fans, but there are no jobs available. Unfortunate, but it’s reality. The way I maneuvered this is by bookmarking job websites. Whenever I discover a job for which I’d be a good fit, I immediately apply for it and let my contact know I did so.

Because they remember me, they’ll be able to put a face to my application.

12.Send follow up No. 2

It’s now the fifth day since you’ve sent your initial outreach email and two more days have passed since your first follow up. Third time must be a charm, and it usually is. Send follow up email No. 2. In my experiences, the person to whom you’re trying to communicate feels bad for not responding and does so right away. You’re finally booked in his or her calendar … or you could be annoying.

Think about including a new work piece so s/he continues to learn about you.

13.Continue with passion, hope and purpose

Rejection makes you stronger, but a lack of response is just confusing and disheartening. We don’t always get what we want.

Most importantly, don’t take rejection or response-lacking emails personally. Keep your essence, vision and what you want do.

Learn more about Jason M. Syptak at http://tx.ag/jasonsyptak or follow him on Twitter @jasonsyptak.

 

5 ways millennials can become better strategic thinkers


Chris Rooney

Entry-level digital professionals have received quite a bit of abuse lately, particularly that we allegedly feel entitled to be “digital strategists” just because we belong to our specific generation.

What can we do to counter those concerns? We can put in the work to become better strategic thinkers.

Here are five ways millennials can become better strategic thinkers in the digital space:

1. Hack your brain to think in terms of opportunities.

recent Forbes study noted that millennials are more “irritated, tired, and anxious” about their careers than other groups. Perhaps that’s partly due to “taking work home” in the sense that mistakes or criticisms you get on the job affect your thoughts more than they would later in your career.

In your 20s, you’re still learning how to handle negative emotions that might come from failures or criticisms. But let’s be realistic—an honest mistake or constructive criticism isn’t the end of the world.

Try “hacking” your brain to approach hurdles opportunistically rather than negatively. So what happens if you made a mistake on a project at work? As long as the mistake was honest, you now have a crucial new piece of data to refine your approach for next time.

2. Control information overload.

If you work in digital public relations, you have your finger on the pulse of all the latest digital trends—from new social media platforms to tech news to the latest tweets from your favorite celebrity.

Millennials spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes on digital media every day. With mobile as an increasingly important channel for information, we’re constantly absorbing data, forcing our brains to triage large amounts of information all the time. That leaves little room to think proactively and creatively.

Try to get away from the computer once in a while. John Cleese of Monty Python fame describes a solution in a hilarious 1991 speech. Making time for the open mode gives your brain the opportunity to become a producer of innovative ideas rather than simply a consumer, which is an essential part of moving from digital tactician to digital strategist.

3. Learn from your mentors.

A common criticism of our generation is that we act as though we’re entitled to success. The backlash against a recent Cathryn Sloane article is a perfect example. But despite our “native” comfort with social media and digital media, we have to learn the industry and business skills that only come from experience.

Millennials in digital careers can jump their careers forward in a big way by making the effort to build strong relationships with their mentors. Ask smart questions, and use the advice they offer you—the best advice comes from experience.

Most important, give back—the greatest relationships are two-sided. They’re investments in both parties’ futures.

4. Cross-pollinate your interests.

You might think that so much work is on your plate that you barely have time for interests outside work. Maybe you even compartmentalize your life—work and play should stay separate, you might believe. Think about this: Some of the greatest innovations of all time have resulted from people “cross-pollinating” different interests: Physics and engineering combined to start computer science, for example.

Your outside interests are completely valid in a digital career. Read widely about linguistics (my personal interest), blog about classic films, and absorb life outside the workplace. You never know what kind of innovative ideas might come from an unexpected place.

5. Think in stories and narratives.

Think of the best storyteller you can remember. Chances are it was a friend, a colleague or a family member. It was someone you knew who told riveting stories. They didn’t speak in business jargon, “leet” speak, or texting slang. They spoke like real people telling human stories.

Whether you’re copywriting for a multi-platform campaign, pitching an idea to your team, or engaging with a brand’s community, the essential underlying thread is storytelling. Learn to write like a human being—the way your favorite storytelling uncle speaks—and you’ll get your ideas heard.

We millennials have vast resources available to us in the form of information, access to thought leaders, and few barriers for getting more strategic ideas out there. All it requires is that we put in the elbow work in the way we think about our world, and that we discipline our thinking about how we approach opportunities.

How have you worked on becoming a more strategic thinker in your career?

This article first appeared on EdelmanDigital.com.

Do you suffer from ‘office ADHD?’

Image

Jessica Levco

Like most journalists, my inbox is loaded with press releases.

Like most journalists, I tend to delete each one.

But this subject line caught my eye: “Do you have Adult ADHD? 20 Tell-Tale Signs—Interview/Byline Opp”

Immediately, my mind started racing: OMG (my inner voice now texts me), what if I have adult ADHD? I get distracted a lot! Hold on. I should be writing webinar copy right now. Oh, shoot—I need to tweet an article from our health care website. I wonder when the FDA is going to release its social media guidelines. I really need to come up with something clever to say when people ask me my opinion about health care reform. Have I called Mom today?

Anyway, the press release listed 20 symptoms of a person with ADHD. I’m pretty sure most Raganites (including me) identify with at least half of these traits. For example:

  • Organizationally challenged
  • Difficulty being subtle
  • Hyper-focused to the point of losing track of time
  • Easily bored
  • Naturally rebellious
  • Addictive personality
  • High energy
  • Highly creative
  • Good problem solver, innovator, inventor
  • When interested love to learn, share and teach new things

I’m not stopping there. Because I consider myself “highly creative,” I’ve come up with a list of 10 symptoms that could mean you have “office ADHD.” And yes, I just made that malady up—screw you, medical community; I can’t help it if I’m “naturally rebellious.”

1. You haven’t deleted an email since 2002. You have no Outlook folders. Who cares? You’ve got better things to do—but you can’t remember any of them.

2. There’s an alarm on your phone to remind you to eat lunch. You can’t help it if you’re more consumed with your work than a ham and Swiss on—hey, look, someone RT’d my blog link!

3. If your boss asks, “How high can you jump?” you say, “I don’t like to jump. I’d rather do tai-chi.”

4. When someone asks you what you did over the weekend, you scream, “It’s none of your goddamn business!” and promptly throw coffee in their face. “Just another Monday,” you mutter, as you scurry to the break room for a refill.

5. When you talk about your love of social media, it sounds like you’re talking about your significant other. You dream in Instagrams.

6. Your co-workers think you have a severe bladder issue because you go to the restroom so much. You don’t. You just can’t sit in one spot for more than 12 minutes.

7. When someone approaches your cube, you can’t listen. You’re too busy blogging, pinning, and tweeting to deal with someone IRL.

8. You’ve decided you’re going to hold a contest to send an employee to the moon. You send out this email, complete with a PowerPoint and logistical information to your team at 2 a.m. (Note: A version of this story happened at Ragan.)

9. All your best ideas come to you when you’re not at your desk. For example, one of your most successful company events is referred to internally as, “The Toilet Bowl Summit.” (Note: Again, referencing another true-life Ragan story.)

10. It’s really hard for you to finish writing lists, so No. 10 tends to be kinda lame.

Do you have any symptoms you’d like to add? 

This article originally ran on Ragan.

5 ways millennials need math post-college

Image

Caitlin Mooney

Andy Cohen said it best in his new book, Most Talkative: “my brain has a tendency to go blank when I see an Excel spreadsheet.”

I’ll never forget the horrified look on my math teacher’s face when I jumped up and down in his classroom after he told me I got a 66 on the Math B NYS Regents exam. To him, that was a terrible grade. But to me, I was done. I passed. I earned my advanced regents diploma. Check.

It’s not that I can’t do math. It’s just that I have no interest in it. Numbers don’t speak to me like words do. My senior year of high school I opted to forgo all free periods and lunch because my guidance counselor insisted I take pre calc, but I wasn’t willing to give up journalism, creative writing, contemporary lit, or advertising and design.

Needless to say, I am an excellent example of the stereotype that your brain is either wired for math and sciences, or language and arts. I only had to take one math class to fulfill my bachelor’s degree and upon graduation I thought I’d never have to solve math problems again.

If the foreshadowing in this post isn’t obvious enough, I’ll come out and say it now: as a communications professional, I have not escaped the grips of math.

In entry-level positions, especially at small agencies, you’re somewhat of a glorified intern in the sense that you’re expected to be a doer of all things, a jack of all trades. As a result, you end up learning the ins and outs of the agency and a sampling of everyone’s job (i.e. invaluable experience). While you may be done with the Pythagorean Theorem and graphing calculators, here are five ways math may creep into your life again:

1.  Grad school

If you decide to go to grad school, chances are you’ll have to take the GRE. It’s like taking the SAT all over again except you can’t use a calculator on the math section (at least you couldn’t in 2009). I actually had to reteach myself how to do long division.

2.  Accounting

It’s important to review client budgets and estimates to keep the agency on track for all projects and campaigns. I’ve also learned how to complete payables and general ledgers.

3.  Media buying

Remember that fun equation GRP = reach x frequency? Learn to love it. Also learn how to solve for the CPM, CPP, CPC, CTR, and analyze all of those numbers in an excel spreadsheet. (Are your eyes glazed over yet?)

4.  Living on a budget

If you’re in an entry level position in the communications field, chances are you’ll be living on a budget. To keep yourself organized, you may want to create a spreadsheet to help you solve for x in x = paycheck – (rent + groceries + student loans + car payment + health insurance + happy hour).

5.  Timesheets

OK, so this isn’t too tough, but it’s an adjustment to think about your day numerically and keep track of what you’re doing down to the .25 of an hour.

Do you fit into this stereotype too? What advice do you have for new grads?

Follow Caitlin Mooney on Twitter @caitlinmooney.

10 networking tactics that most people screw up

Image

David Spark

We all network, but we don’t all do it effectively. In fact, most of us are really bad at it. That’s very odd, as almost all of us are out there schmoozing and connecting with people.

I have become better at networking over the years. What I’m truly surprised by are all the commonsense elements of networking that are completely lost on people. Here are 10 things that most people should be doing—or doing better.

1. Press the flesh.

The core to networking is meeting people face to face. Except for rare occasions, such as long-distance online romances, all the friends and business colleagues that we trust we’ve met in person. If you think you can be an effective networker solely by engaging in social media, you’re sorely wrong. You have to get out and press the flesh.

2. Stop staring at your phone.

The worst offenders are people working a booth at a trade show. Nothing screams, “I don’t want to talk with you, and I’m too scared to talk with anyone,” more than staring at your phone. You’re blowing an amazing opportunity every time you stare at your phone at an event where you could make a true connection with someone walking by. Stop doing it.

3. Always have business cards.

This should be as basic as remembering to bring your driver’s license, credit cards, and money in your wallet. Make sure you always have business cards, especially if you’re attending a conference or trade show. Bring more than you think you’ll need. I am always stunned when I go to a conference and someone doesn’t have business cards. How do you expect someone to follow up with you? You can’t, because they won’t. But that’s often not an issue given the next technique.

4. Always follow up.

This is the core of all networking: following up. If you don’t do it, you might as well never have met the person. I would estimate that one out of 20 people I hand my business card to follows up. Collecting business cards without following up is a wasted engagement. It only takes days for the person to completely forget meeting you. If you follow up with some level of context of your meeting it increases the value and impact of the meeting. To remember that meeting, take notes on the business card.

When you do follow up, be specific about your follow up. Don’t just say, “Nice to have met you,” or, “We should meet for coffee sometime,” because that now puts the onus on the other person to set up the meeting and discuss its purpose. That’s quite a burden. If you want that to happen, you need to set the place, time, and purpose of the discussion.

5. Add to your address book/CRM program.

If you’re going to follow up with someone, you must capture them in your contact manager or, better, in your customer relationship management (CRM) program, whose main function is to help you manage connections and follow up with those connections.

6. Respond when someone follows up.

Similar to the above, I’m always astonished when I send a follow-up email to someone I just met the day before and they don’t even respond. I would say that at best one out of four people respond to a personal follow-up email. The lack of response is a slap in the face. It would be the equivalent of walking away from a conversation midsentence. We never do that, because it’s rude. It’s also rude if you don’t respond to a follow-up email.

7. Listen.

Yes, it’s good to be directed about what you’re doing and have focus, but you’ll be a far more effective networker and make better connections if you simply listen to others. If someone else isn’t as much a talker as you are, then ask questions. Pull them out of their shell; that will let you to listen to them. Networking is not an opportunity for you to spout out marketing copy that you hope someone else will absorb. Your job is to listen and create a relationship first.

8. Get people to like you.

This should be your top priority. Any objective or goal you may have can be extremely simplified if you just get people to like you. If people don’t know you, don’t trust you, or, worse, don’t like you, then making a true connection or selling them anything will be an uphill battle.

9. Follow on social media.

Social media affords us the ability to maintain connections with hundreds if not thousands of people through ambient intimacy. That’s the ability to know and converse with someone through a general open social conversation, most notably through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The only way you can continue this social conversation is to follow people in all these social spaces. Offer your links to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and ask for theirs in return.

10. Follow up—again.

Though you can’t keep following up with everyone, the point of networking is to maintain those relationships. Social media will probably be the most effective and efficient way to do this. That means you need to actually respond to people’s Facebook posts, Tweets, and LinkedIn questions. But once again, if you want to make true relationships you need to go back to step 1 and press the flesh.

Conclusion: Networking takes work, but it pays off.

Networking is hard work, and though I admit that I make mistakes with some of the above techniques, I have adhered to them as solidly as possible for six years. The payoff for me has been tremendous. It will pay off for you as well. And if you do it right, it’s actually a lot of fun. What’s not to like about schmoozing and meeting new people?

This article was originally a report published by Spark Media Solutions’ David Spark (@dspark) for Intertainment Media‘s Ingaged Blog, makers and distributors of the KNCTR and Ortsbo. 

Hospital fundraisers a snooze? Not this Chicago gala.

Image

Jessica Levco

Forget those stuffy black- and white-tie hospital galas.

For the past 12 years, the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Board has put on one of Chicago’s most buzz-worthy singles event, Summer Lovin’. But the evening isn’t just about great food and conversation—it raises major money for medical research.

The event started with 300 people as a “beer and brats” party at Northwestern’s law school courtyard downtown. But the following year, after it scored a partnership with Chicago magazine, the event expanded. For the past five years, it has garnered more than 1,000 people and several restaurant sponsorships and is held at the Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, the editorial group from Chicago magazine picks the hottest 20 singles for its June/July issue; this year, a doctor and Northwestern board member were highlighted.

The goal for the board is to raise $100,000 in a two-year period. This money is given to a doctor who wants to do specific medical research. The majority of the $100,000 is from Summer Lovin’, but the board does host another event in the fall, along with a few third-party events that might pop up.

More than 40 doctors submit their proposals to the board (a representative from Northwestern Memorial Hospital helps the board sift through the applications and doctor-lingo). The $100,000 from the board is “seed money” for the doctor, and its purpose is to help the doctor generate more money and bigger grants for research.

This year, the board is supporting Dr. Andrew Naidech, who wants to research new therapies for stroke patients. The board gave him $50,000 last November and will give him the additional money this year. He’s been actively applying and receiving other grants for his research.

“For our board, it’s really exciting for us to see how far our dollars can go,” says Laura Beres, board president.

Mixing traditional and social media

The board ranges in age from 24 to 40. To hit its target demographic to market this event, it primarily goes where its audience is: online.

“We’re pretty deliberate about our use of social media,” Beres says. “Social media is the way most people in our age group find out about things. At our board meetings, our PR committee talks to us about how we can help drum up support.”

Here are six ways the board markets the event:

1. Summer Lovin’ has an active Facebook page. “All of our members, with the exception of one, are on Facebook,” Beres says. “They are constantly given mini-updates that they can copy and paste on their own Facebook page, with a link back to ticket purchasing.”

2. The website went through a major redesign this year. “Any time we send out any communication, we link to our website,” Beres says.

3. The Twitter account is active, with more than 100 followers. Frequently, the PR team tweets information about restaurants that are sponsoring the event, and their reps RT those tweets in response.

4. Grass-roots marketing is not forgotten. For example, board members went to a popular Chicago art fair and passed out “save the date” cards. The board also went on bar crawls to talk about the event. “We put ourselves where our audience is,” Beres says.

5. Traditional media still counts. Even though Chicago wrote a feature article about the event, there was also a full-page ad in the RedEye, an alternative daily tabloid. There will also be stories about the event on radio stations, Windy City Live, and a few other news outlets. “The week before the event gets a lot of press,” Beres says.

6. Partnering with other young organizations has been successful. For example, the team gives away a few tickets to staff at Chicago Sports and Social. In return, this group emails Summer Lovin’ info—twice—to its list of 20,000 recipients. “If two tickets are a $170 value, even if only two people buy from it, we’ll have broken even.”

To track which method works best, people are asked online how they heard about the event when they buy their tickets. Currently, it’s too early to track where people have heard about it this year, but traditionally, the majority of people say they heard about it from another board member or a strategic partnership, Beres says.

Ultimately, what does Beres thinks makes this event so successful?

“It’s for a great cause, most importantly,” Beres says, “but we’re combining the best things about Chicago—our philanthropic community, talented young singles, and our great restaurants.”

Interested in seeing what it’s all about? Purchase your ticket for tomorrow’s event here.