Live and Learn…Social Media Style

Ever since the early days of the internet, you know back when we were all innocent, happily posting away, giddily anticipating as the square with the lightening (complete with sound effects) gave way to the one with the triangle…(or am I the only one who remembers the early days of dial up AOL?) There have also been warnings, few and quiet at first, becoming stronger and more dire as the years flew by…protect yourself and more importantly, your INFORMATION! Hackers are EVERYWHERE and they are looking for YOU!
As a college student I took the warnings with a grain of salt, taking the usual precautions: anti-virus software, awesome (I thought) passwords. Later as I became wiser and more involved with social media; I became a blogger, then later a public affairs officer and then a social media consultant; I became even more savvy to the evils of phishing, trojans, keystoke viruses and web/spider trawlers A.K.A. Hacker scum with nothing better to do than ruin your day, week, life…

However, as aforesaid social media consultant I had grown comfortable with my knowledge…a dangerous thing. I assumed I was safe..it would never happen to me…until it did.

Sometime yesterday my GMail account was viciously hacked. 623 emails (EVERYONE in my address book) was sent an untitled email with a link that appeared to be from Google but was actually a virus. Not only was this bad for my social life, but the emails that went out also went out to people I had sent resumes to, people that trusted me in my network (including government, politics, the military, social media and the entertainment industry) now all exposed for the world to see. The link was also conveniently posted to my Facebook, Posterous, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIN and FriendFeed pages just in case you somehow missed the email! I was not only angry I was mortified!
To top it off when I decided to be proactive and change all my passwords I discovered my Google account had been disabled for a violation of TOS (since my ADsense address is also in my address book, Google was also sent the virus!) And I guess they don’t appreciate that sort of thing.
Well I immediately contacted them, Facebook, Twitter and most of my other services to let them know what was going on. Thankfully Google did not take the most extreme measure which would be to ban me forever from all Google services, but I did get a really stern email about taking preventitive measures in the future which made me feel about two inches tall. And I of course had to send out about a million emails, tweets and posts to apologize for the hacking, which more than a few did not take lightly.
Well, what’s done is done. Did I learn anything? Hell yes. Am I a little humbled by my experience? Absolutely. Am I getting new virus software, changing passwords and encrypting the hell out of everything? Duh.

Live and Learn.

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Brand Habits-Why I Buy Chapstick

A the weather cools I am reminded every day that I am one of those people that tend to have dry skin and dry lips.I have such sensitivity that even an hour without application can mean painful cracking. It also means that at any one time I usually have several chapsticks floating around, in purses, coat pockets, the glove-box etc. What does this have to do with brand habits, just this: I only buy Chapstick, not Blistex, Carmax or any other of the numerous brands on the market. I am a one brand lip balm girl and have been ever since I can remember.
Why do I buy chapstick? The short answer is probably because it was what my mom bought and what she bought for me as a child. As I grew to an adult I simply became set in my ways, automatically reaching for the chapstick over other brands, regardless of price or even availability…a longer explanation goes into how Chapstick markets them self-for the girl on the go, (anyone remember the Olympic medalist snow-skiing Picaboo Street ad: “I’m the chapstick type not a lipstick type”-well being the tomboy I am, that type of marketing has always appealed to me.
To me this is an excellent example of how a brand can identify an audience and then build upon that knowledge to develop a brand loyalty that will continue for over 20 years.
Although I have been forced and even (mildly ashamed to admit) to purchase other brands from time to time, I can honestly say that I will always come back to Chapstick, for its simplicity and laid-back style. My kids use it and as long as it sells we will be a Chapstick family. So if you want a quick study in brand habits and a few tips on building brand loyalty-check out Chapstick.

Disclaimer: this post was in no way endorsed or reimbursed by the Chapstick brand-it was simply my opinion.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Can Your Online Persona Strengthen Your Brand?

Not long ago I had a very interesting conversation via TweetChat with someone who is excellent at one thing, Branding.  We talked about how many of us bloggers have a unique online persona, one we share with the “world” as it may and one that may be different than our random everyday personality. Good or bad, it does happen and if you do it right, this may just  help you to succeed in the craziness of the online social media world.

From the feedback I received I realized that this idea is hardly new. Since the dawn of Hollywood and before, people have been using their public image to enhance their brand. I may not be a movie star, but many of the same techniques still apply. As a PR person, I learned many of these tricks and tips in school and thought I would now share them with you. So here is just a quick refresher on how to use your online identity (public persona) to help solidify your brand.

1. How important is a name? If you make a point to use your full name in all of your online interactions, that’s great…but remember that not everyone will agree and using your real name can inadvertently create enemies. As long as you remain thick skinned, this should be alright though. Another important thing to remember – if you use your name, all of your revelations whether they are professional or a rant against an insane boss are all linked to you. This can come back to bite you so if you choose to use your real name….be aware of the consequences that come with it. It is a good idea to go ahead and purchase your own domain while you’re at it. (oh and if you are curious…Google yourself and see what comes up – apparently I am an exotic dancer/stripper in Texas….who knew?)

2. According to Erik Qualman (@equalman) the author of the incredibly awesome book, “Socialnomics” , if you choose to develop your online brand based on a singular persona, (real or not) it is very important to have a singular image across all of your social media outlets. This may be a logo or even a picture. I really had no idea that one image could be that important, and then I felt silly since this is one of the first things hammered into your head in all advertising and marketing classes. We are a visual species, and more than remembering what is written, we will remember an image whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, FriendFeed or a blog. Therefore, pick an icon/image/photo that truly represents your brand and use it across the web. Soon, those who are interested in you and what you stand for will begin to read your online responses, or notice your “ads” simply because they see your icon, regardless if they are actually interested in the topic of the blog post or article.

3. No matter how “big” you become online, remember that you have a life…in the real world. When approached or contacted to speak, give presentations, be a guest-poster etc, remember that you are representing both your online persona (the person/brand the world is familiar with through your blog) and you as a person. If there is too much of a gap then your brand awareness could become tarnished. No one wants to feel they have been lied too or led on. While this may seem contradictory, one of the main things I have learned is that although I have deveoped a brand through my work online, I am still me and that is the person that I want people to respect.

Have thoughts? Has your personal brand ever interfered with your personal (off-line) life? Please feel free to share.

’till next time!

Everyday Public Relations is Going Green!


WARNING: The following post contains some controversial opinions but is not meant to offend. These are simply my thoughts and ideas. Feel free to share your own, and all constructive criticism is welcome as always; but please no unsupported arguments or religious debates. Thanks.

A long time coming, Everyday Public Relations is making some changes. While still focused primarily on PR in our everyday lives, you may begin to notice that more and more posts have a conservation angle to them. You’ll see ideas and tips for those who practice “green” PR as well as helpful social media hints for those in the conservation world.

To better explain this change let me start by telling you that I have these two great passions in life. (I actually have more, but only two relate to my career directly.) I love PR & Communications and I love conservation work. I have been lucky so far in that I get to combine the two on a regular basis. Working for a conservation organization as a public affairs officer has really been the best job I’ve ever had.

I do not however come into the world of conservation as a blind idealist or a hopeless treehugger. My viewpoints on the subject may seem a little extreme, and are hard to define, but I will try, in an effort to help my readers understand the nature of some of my posts.

Here goes: The planet Earth is the greatest evolutionary miracle that man has ever known. “What about people?” you cry. We (humans) are but one species, a blink of an eye on a planet that has seen more change, more wonder than any other that we currently know about. Throughout the studies done to explore space, our final frontier, it has been determined that our home planet is the only one of its kind – and is that way because everything came together so perfectly, at just the right time. Practically the definition of a miracle.

Now whether you attribute this miracle to God, the Big Bang or some other theory is your opinion and not something I care to debate. I do not judge and do not care for those who do.

Humans will not be around forever. Sad, I suppose but true. Eventually the Earth will die, as everything that exists and has ever exists does. It is an unavoidable truth-the planet’s lifespan will one day conclude.

Now that we are all depressed thinking about the end of the world let me say this. The timing of that inevitable event depends largely on our treatment of this blue and green world we call home. This is what I want to change.

I love this planet, down to its smallest bugs. I’m fascinated by life. To that end I want to share the wonder I experience on a daily basis with as many people and future generations as I can. I want my kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and so forth to know the simple joy of a summer night listening to a chorus of frogs; the majestic imposing beauty of the Rocky Mountains; the frozen seemingly endless oceans of the south pole with so much life teeming underneath the ice; the intracacies of a mountain bog’s eco-system and the awe of a fire rushing across a prairie-renewing life from its ashy wake. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

There is not a ton of money in conservation work or what has been dubbed “green pr” by some. Often you work long hours for little pay, much of your efforts being difficult and thankless. If you don’t love it, or have some greater calling, you burn out fast. It is demanding and despite the growing green movement, often your audience is stubborn, set in their ways. money driven or simply indifferent, which is the worst of all.

So…that being said, and I know I’ve gone on a good while now, my blog is changing, I think for the better. I want to really reach out to those who are using their PR and communications skills for more than just to make a profit. If I can help those working for a better world via PR and social media then I have been successful. There will still be solid tips on using public relations, and social media in the new world of work, there will simply be the added component of using what I know to help others help the planet…for as long as it remains our home.

Hope you stick around and join the conservation. I look forward to your comments.

Karma for bloggers?

Girl twins with laptop computer.The Golden Rule Still Applies…

I have always been a big believer in karma, the golden rule, or whatever you choose to call it. Basically I try hard to put forth the same kind of energy that I hope to receive back from the world around me. I know this may sound idealistic, but hey that’s how I roll. I recently came across a similar viewpoint expressed very nicely on one of the blogs I follow,  The Urban Muse . Her post really made sense to me about how karma relays to the online blogosphere. I read several blogs regularly and I always try to pass on the tips and tricks that they so eloquently put forth. So therefore, in that vein, here are a few recent posts that I have come across that may help you in your quest to become a better blogger, writer and social media participant.

This is great stuff for helping your organization or blog to really develop your brand using social media.Here is an excerpt:

“In the Wild West of social media, over-protection would seem to be a natural response when faced with loss of control over the conversation, and indeed of the firm’s intellectual property, and yet this is almost certainly the wrong response.

Those brands that take the counter-intuitive path of celebrating their customers (even when they are infringing IP) and of sharing more of themselves (even if that means giving away more of their IP) will be the ones who will win.”

The next one, Understanding Social Media Guidelines for Employees – by Don Sears who writes at Careers, is probably one of the best short set of guidelines I have found for integrating social media into employee policy, which as we all are aware is moving to the forefront of many organization’s lists of concerns. He says:

“Protecting business and fighting negative perception are important to every company. The last thing they want or need is for employees to be out their in the social media sphere of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anywhere else spouting false information, making their work life too transparent or arguing with other employees publicly.

Two companies taking social media seriously are Intel and IBM. Intel is taking it so seriously it apparently has created a department dedicated to the practices of smart social media, says ZDNet’s Jason Hiner.

From a human resources perspective, it’s a really wise move to have clear guidelines and policies, and for most employees, it’s good to know where your company stands on posting information–especially with issues of legality, copyright, company secrets and the like. I could very well see other companies borrowing from Intel’s and IBM’s social media guidelines.”

Well that is all I have for now. Hope you found this useful and if so, please pass it on, as in essence, that is how karma works. What goes around, comes around, the good, the bad and the ugly.


Just how much SHOULD be online?

This particular topic is the cause for frequent arguments in my household. With the seemingly omnipresence of the Internet – everyone is online, often living out a completely separate life via social networking sites such as MySpace, LinkedIN, Twitter and Facebook.

At the same time identity theft is on the rise, as well as other online threats. Which leads me to my question….just how much should be online?

I did a post a while back about living a transparent life. While I still agree that networking and having an online identity is good and even necessary in some cases, I am beginning to see the merits of the argument for the opposite side.

Just to stop and to clarify, I am on the borderline between Gen X and Gen Y and have a very active online life. And although I came into the game a little later than many of my Brazen pals. I readily admit that I am addicted to email, blog on a regular basis and really enjoy catching up with pals on Facebook.

However, I have also been the victim of a selfish, unprofessional and slightly vindictive reporter, so I am also aware of the dangers of having too much information available for the world to see.
So how much is too much?

I do not publish under a false name or identity as some bloggers do. I am proud of what I write and what I am contributing to society. Lately though, I have begun to wonder about the world that exists outside my online community, which of course includes my family, my job and life.

There are some things the world maybe does not need to know about. For starters, having too much personal information regarding your family, particularly your children, is never a good idea. As paranoid as it may sound, we live in a different world than our parents did and kids are no longer immune from from media hounds looking for a story, or predators for that matter. And I don’t just mean children of celebrities. It seems that just about anyone can become a person of interest in this day and age and if you have kids, they are considered fair game for that person trying to dig up information on you. So it would seem, that keeping them offline entirely is probably a good idea.

Something else to consider, personal, financial and employment information. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I heard recently about a fellow blogger who was duped (incredibly so, because she is a very intelligent person) by someone claiming to want to help her with her blog. She had posted information about what she did for a living and even what the salary ranges are for her particular occupation. I will respect her privacy and not go into more detail, but I realize that the only reason she was tricked was because of the extent of the information that the online predator had about her. (collected from Facebook, her blog and LinkedIn) Curious I did a google search on myself and was somewhat surprised about the amount of information out there. I can honestly say that maybe I have been a little too lax in allowing my personal identity to be broadcast to the world.

I often wonder at times just who is reading my blog and am beginning to think that maybe having an online life is not always the greatest thing. I mean, should I worry about mentioning my professor, or my boss? Are they reading and will they seek retribution? Am I worried for nothing?

I enjoy blogging but have been told that I sometimes cross the line with my posts.

I want to continue doing what it is I do, which hopefully is reaching out to other bloggers, PR students, writers, and anyone really who is on the same wave-length as me. I do not want to put my children or career at risk however so I have much to contemplate.

Does anyone else experience this dilemma or have I finally let Big Brother get to me? Feel free to share your own experiences, positive or negative. We are all online these days and a part of a larger world than our parents ever could have imagined. Is this good, bad, or nothing new? Maybe I am a little crazy, but without comments I may never know!

Just how much SHOULD be online?

This particular topic is the cause for frequent arguments in my household. With the seemingly omnipresence of the Internet – everyone is online, often living out a completely separate life via social networking sites such as MySpace, LinkedIN, Twitter and Facebook.

At the same time identity theft is on the rise, as well as other online threats. Which leads me to my question….just how much should be online?

I did a post a while back about living a transparent life. While I still agree that networking and having an online identity is good and even necessary in some cases, I am beginning to see the merits of the argument for the opposite side.

Just to stop and to clarify, I am on the borderline between Gen X and Gen Y and have a very active online life. And although I came into the game a little later than many of my Brazen pals. I readily admit that I am addicted to email, blog on a regular basis and really enjoy catching up with pals on Facebook.

However, I have also been the victim of a selfish, unprofessional and slightly vindictive reporter, so I am also aware of the dangers of having too much information available for the world to see.
So how much is too much?

I do not publish under a false name or identity as some bloggers do. I am proud of what I write and what I am contributing to society. Lately though, I have begun to wonder about the world that exists outside my online community, which of course includes my family, my job and life.

There are some things the world maybe does not need to know about. For starters, having too much personal information regarding your family, particularly your children, is never a good idea. As paranoid as it may sound, we live in a different world than our parents did and kids are no longer immune from from media hounds looking for a story, or predators for that matter. And I don’t just mean children of celebrities. It seems that just about anyone can become a person of interest in this day and age and if you have kids, they are considered fair game for that person trying to dig up information on you. So it would seem, that keeping them offline entirely is probably a good idea.

Something else to consider, personal, financial and employment information. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I heard recently about a fellow blogger who was duped (incredibly so, because she is a very intelligent person) by someone claiming to want to help her with her blog. She had posted information about what she did for a living and even what the salary ranges are for her particular occupation. I will respect her privacy and not go into more detail, but I realize that the only reason she was tricked was because of the extent of the information that the online predator had about her. (collected from Facebook, her blog and LinkedIn) Curious I did a google search on myself and was somewhat surprised about the amount of information out there. I can honestly say that maybe I have been a little too lax in allowing my personal identity to be broadcast to the world.

I often wonder at times just who is reading my blog and am beginning to think that maybe having an online life is not always the greatest thing. I mean, should I worry about mentioning my professor, or my boss? Are they reading and will they seek retribution? Am I worried for nothing?

I enjoy blogging but have been told that I sometimes cross the line with my posts.

I want to continue doing what it is I do, which hopefully is reaching out to other bloggers, PR students, writers, and anyone really who is on the same wave-length as me. I do not want to put my children or career at risk however so I have much to contemplate.

Does anyone else experience this dilemma or have I finally let Big Brother get to me? Feel free to share your own experiences, positive or negative. We are all online these days and a part of a larger world than our parents ever could have imagined. Is this good, bad, or nothing new? Maybe I am a little crazy, but without comments I may never know!