4 steps to win a contest using social media

By Jenny Fukumoto

Like most millennials, I tend to do 50,000 things at once.

So, when I saw a tweet from @DrinkCraftBeer announcing it was holding a contest to determine the name of the official Fall to Winter Beer Fest beer, I copied the link, sent it to my boyfriend with a quick “help me think of a name” and quickly forgot about it.

Until six hours later when he texted me, “Did you think of a name?”

I hadn’t. But being the marketer I am, I thought of one on the fly.

“Nut Your Average Ginger?” I texted.
“No, nevermind, I can do better,” I texted back.

“Actually, that’s pretty good. Funny and witty,” he wrote.

So, I entered the competition. And then I went back to doing the 49,999 other things on my to-do list.

Here’s how I won this contest using social media:

1. Find ambassadors on Facebook.

Anyone can post something on Facebook and ask his or her friends to vote. But in order to win, you need to target the people who are going to rally their own troops to help you take the lead. The best is when you don’t need to blatantly ask for the shares–your ambassadors just make it happen. In the last 24 hours of voting, when the fight became bloody, I turned to these faithful few and they spread their social seeds.


2. Search for voters on Twitter.

I got smart 48 hours before the end of the contest and searched for the specific term “Nut Your Average Ginger.” That yielded about 10 Twitter users who either tweeted their support for my beer name or retweeted @DrinkCraftBeer’s tweets about the contest. A simple “thanks for voting” tweet turned into new supporters–and followers!


3. Turn desperation into a movement.

When I found out the other team was spamming votes, I decided to go all out. I wanted to launch a “last ditch” campaign. I wanted to be clever.

For the last 12 hours of the contest, all my tweets were only beer related. Every hour I tweeted fun beer facts (who knew they serve beer in plastic bags in China?!) with a link to vote for Nut Your Average Ginger. The retweets came in steadily. 


4. Follow up with your new followers.

Because I spread so many seeds during this campaign, I wanted to do a non-traditional “thank you.” When the voting closed and I had the most votes, I photo stitched these goofy pictures, and tweeted/Facebooked them when DCB officially announced my beer name was the winner. 


So there you have it. I won a beer naming contest all because of social media.

Thanks so much, guys!

13 things millennials need to know when starting a job search


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.


Hospital fundraisers a snooze? Not this Chicago gala.


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.

What I learned at Likeable U


Caitlin Mooney

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to the Likeable U social media conference in New York City. Naturally, when my boss asked me if I’d like to attend, I immediately said yes. Had I ever been to a large conference before? No. Would I be able to navigate my way through the city? I’ll find out. Could I hold a conversation with my boss on the 2.5 hour train ride? I’ll just ask a lot of questions. Sign me up!

I’ve always had a clear sight of what I wanted to do. It has been my dream to work in PR/advertising and I’ve never swayed from the plan. I’ve been driven, constantly curious and always hungry for more. (Do you mean, like, physically hungry or hungry for the job? #Girls).

Millennials need to be hungry for the job, hungry for knowledge, and hungry for success — or they won’t find it. In college I became so competitive because I knew that if I wanted to succeed in this industry, I had to stand out. But it was also because I surrounded myself with people that inspired me and naturally pushed me to succeed. You need to find the people that share your passions and dreams and spend your time with them. They will be the ones that keep you motivated when school and work get tough.

What I loved most about the Likeable U conference is that I felt like I was surrounded by “my people.” The social media nerds, grammar police, perfectionists, and creatives. I felt like I was home. While waiting for my train in Penn Station, I felt like I had recharged my creative batteries.

During the conference, Peter Shankman said, “If you don’t have haters, you’re not doing enough to change the status quo.” Society likes to see other people fail, rather than build them up, which @dknyprgirl also touches on in her blog post “Girl Crush.”

The reason these two things resonated with me is because in grad school and the “real world,” the competition stops being friendly. When you do well, no one wants to give you a high five or buy you a beer. This industry, and the job market right now, is cutthroat. There are always going to be people that want to see you fail, but don’t let that deter you from being the best. Instead, surround yourself with the people that challenge you, support you, and most importantly, inspire you.

Work hard, find your people, and stay hungry. You’ll go far.

Follow Caitlin Mooney on Twitter @caitlinmooney.

A Millennial’s list of who to follow on Twitter

Lauren Yanow

Recently a couple people have asked me about Twitter. Most of my friends from college use the micro-blogging site, but typically not for networking purposes.

I, however, think Twitter is one of the best ways to meet people.

My friends used to think it was funny that I made friends on Twitter. Now, a few weeks later, many of them are starting to see that I have caught on to something clever.

With many asking for tips on who to follow, I have put together a short list of some of the best people for millennials to follow in the PR and social media industries.

1.  Lauren Gray @laurenkgray

I thought beginning with a fellow millennial would be a good way to start. Lauren and I connected a few months back. I have found her to be probably one of my best resources. A member of the PRSSA National committee, Lauren is always sending out links to fantastic articles and blogging about her experiences as a PR student. She is definitely a student worth following.

2. Mark Ragan @MarkRaganCEO and Samantha Hosenkamp @samhosenkamp

Yes, I do currently work for Ragan Communications – but this is not a plug. I have been following Mark on Twitter for months. His Twitter acts as a news feed that shares stories posted on Ragan sites including Ragan.com and PRDaily.com. Sam is the brains behind the social media here at Ragan and provides amazing insights into the industry.

3. Arik Hanson @arikhanson

One of the creators of HAPPO (Help a PR Pro Out), Arik has proved himself as a PR industry leader as well as a friend to all PR pros trying to make it in a competitive industry. His website is a fantastic tool. In the time we have spoken via Twitter (and an email or two) he has always offered his advice and support.

4. Valerie Simon @valeriesimon

Valerie is the other creator of HAPPO. A PR pro from the east coast, Valerie always shares great articles and writes a great blog about the PR industry. She participates in tons of tweet chats and always has great advice for up and coming pros.

5. Sarah Evans @prsarahevans

Sarah was one of the first industry leaders I followed. I am amazed at her passion for teaching others about PR. She created the Sevans Network, a great resource for PR pros to share insights, connect, and network.

6. Andrew Worob @worob

Andrew blogs at  PR at Sunrise which happens to be one of my favorite industry blogs. He is always eager to share his experience in the industry. He is extremely insightful. He often rights about topics that are important to new pros and students. He is always networking and interacts on many LinkedIn groups too.

7. Justin Goldsborough @jgoldsborough

I had the opportunity to meet Justin at an event a few months back. I immediately started following him on Twitter and have found him to be one of the most influential people that I follow. He moderates the chat #pr20chat which has been an extremely useful source to many PR pros and students.

8. Heather Whaling @prtini

Heather serves as the other moderator of the #pr20chat. Heather has a great eye for sharing stories about the industry and is always willing to help out a PR student or pro. She is always able to put a clever spin on topics surrounding the industry and offers her opinion as a successful PR and social media pro.

While there are of course more than 8 amazing people on twitter to follow, this is a great start. The best way to find people is to start small. Follow these industry leaders and see who they interact with. If I see that one of these people has retweeted something from someone else it usually leads to another great person to follow. And be sure to follow me at @lyanow!

Can a millennial reporter live without voice mail?

Jessica Levco

This is an embarrassing workplace confession: Up until yesterday, I didn’t set up the voice mail on my work phone.

I know, I know.

How can a reporter not have voice mail?

You’d be surprised. It’s been a pretty easy thing for me to get away with for almost three years. Sure, I’ve missed every single call, but I’ve never missed a story. And no source has ever told me or emailed me, “Why haven’t you returned my calls?”

First, allow me to explain how this happened:

When I first started working at Ragan, I was mostly writing and proofing newsletter articles. I never bothered setting up my voice mail because nobody ever called me. Eventually, I started writing for Ragan.com, but after six months had passed, I wondered, “How stupid would I look now if I said I didn’t know how to work my voice mail?”

Not having voice mail was my dirty little office secret.

But now as I’m writing more for our health care website, I decided it was time to figure it out—no matter how embarrassed I was. It just so happened that our IT guy called me the other day and asked me to confirm my extension number. I told him. And then, blurted out, “I don’t have voice mail on my phone!”

Later in the day, I found out that I was on speaker phone when I admitted this. Of course.

When I told my GenX editor all of this, she was amused—but I think she questioned my ability to do my job.

“What if a source was trying to get in touch with you? What would you do?”

I assured her that I’ve been able to function just fine without voice mail. Mostly, I think that’s because I’m a millennial. My friends and I rarely leave messages for each other on the phone. We communicate with texts, emails, Facebook messages, and carrier pigeons.

Reporting can be done in a similar way.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. When I need to contact a source for a story, I always email first and set up a specific time to talk with him or her. I never say, “Call me sometime in the afternoon.”
  2. If I was forced to leave a message for a source, I’d just say my phone number very quickly. Then, I’d say my email address five times on the voice mail—and hope for the best.

Plus, there’s always been a certain joy to not having voice mail. I was impossible to talk to—unless it was on my terms. I never had to listen to PR pitches over the phone. No prank calls. No soliciting phone messages.

But I’m ready to move on.

In fact, when I came into work this morning, there was a red blinking light on my phone saying that I had a voice mail. My first one!

 Well, it’s too bad I don’t know what my pin number is. Maybe I’ll figure it out next year.

10 ways to know when a millennial becomes an adult

Jessica Levco

We know you’re old enough to be considered an adult.

But when you start to compare your lifestyle to other people in your PR or communications office, do you ever feel like you’re faking it?

A lot of your co-workers are married, pop out babies, talk about their mortgage, worry about retirement, and spend their weekends at Little League practice.

And even though you’re only a few years younger than them, you sometimes feel like you’re in College 2.0. You’re still renting an apartment, staying out until 3 a.m. on Saturdays, and just recently mastered the art of boiling water (for your Ramen Noodles).

But even though you haven’t hit the traditional milestones that signify adulthood, you might be starting down that path—whether you like it or not.

Here are 10 ways to know if you’re becoming an adult in the PR or communications field.

Finding a steady job—and something that you like. A lot of your friends might be stuck in a dead-end job or working on something they are passion-less about. This feeling of aimlessness will make them feel more childlike. Don’t fall into the trap. If you’re already thinking that you don’t enjoy your workday, it’s your responsibility to make the change.

Moving to a new city. Speaking of changes, this is one of the most adult moves you can ever make. Especially if you’re doing it solo. Just the act of figuring out how to take apart your dresser drawer will make you feel like a competent 40-year-old.

Being financially responsible. Don’t ignore your HR manager when it’s time to sign up you’re your company’s 401K plan. Take $100 out of your pay check each month and put it into your savings account. When you get older, you’ll thank your younger self for being so prudent.

Being financially irresponsible, too. Remember: It’s OK to enjoy your money. If you want to order filet mignon every once in a while, we won’t tell.

Not asking for permission. Unless you’re defaming your company or selling insider information, try to see what you can do without constantly asking for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from your boss. As a millennial, you’re young, fresh, and eager—see how much you can get away with. (Example: We started Ragan’s Millennial Mafia before we told our CEO what we were up to.)

Going to networking events alone. This is one of the greatest, boldest things you can do for your career. If you tag around with co-workers, you’ll only end up talking to them. If you go by yourself, you’ll be forced to talk to people you normally might not get the chance to meet.

Being careful using social media. You know you’re growing up when you de-tag pictures of yourself from doing keg stands, playing beer pong or holding up a ‘Stop’ sign you stole. But be careful: Office holiday pictures can be just as scandalous.

Choosing your own vacation. For most of your life, you’ve taken trips with your friends or with your family, but adulthood is the chance to do something for yourself. Study a new language.  Save your money. Pick a place. Go. See what happens next.

Updating your wardrobe. You know you’re on the verge of adulthood when you get rid of all those Abercrombie sweaters you wore in high school. Look through some fashion magazines and figure out your own style to wear in the office.

Making a commitment to something for longer than a year. Mine was a three-year subscription to The New Yorker. I probably won’t be living in the same apartment complex three years from now, but there’s something gratifying about making a long-term commitment to something that I enjoy. Plus, I saved $30.