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Tip for PR Students: Follow Current Events (Take Your Medicine)

June 17, 2010 1 comment

Today at the West Michigan PRSA chapter event on using video in public relations campaigns, I talked to a couple of people about the accelerating trend of college students being virtually unaware of current events.  One person I spoke to was amazed by how disconnected students at one particular university were – and how refreshing it was to interview Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students because they were much more attuned to the world around them because of requirements for their degree programs (so props to my alma mater).

If you’re a PR student (or really any student working toward a degree in any profession – particularly business) - you can really distinguish yourself from other internship/job-seeking students by being fluent in current events, which is increasingly becoming scarce.  In PR, news is the practically the air you breathe.

It makes perfect sense of course, and it’s not an indictment of the youth of America – it’s just a practical reality of the myriad new options we have for consuming information.  We have thousands of TV channels, millions of websites, and hundreds of different forms of entertainment options (from video gaming systems to social networking sites).

The best part is, it’s not hard; you can set up any number of ways to follow the news (and virtually any TYPE of news, given the granularity with which the content is sorted/segmented):

  • Browse: Set virtually any news site (npr.org), portal (news.google.com) or social news site (like Digg or Reddit) as your start page in your browser and look them over every time you launch it.
  • Email/Text: Sign up for Google Alerts and get SMS texts of news updates throughout the day (or a digest all at once).
  • Feed Readers: Use a feed reader like Google Reader and sign up for RSS feeds of news from any of the millions of news feeds offered by thousands of news sites
  • Facebook: Friend or “Like” any major news organization (I recommend NPR) on Facebook and news/information will show up with all of the other updates sandwiched between Farmville enticements and wall posts from your friends.

What’s happening in the rest of the world invariably affects you no matter what you plan to do with your education; new laws, economic developments, research findings, and profiles of community leaders will invariably affect your employer no matter what your calling is.

Yeah, a lot of it isn’t as interesting as whatever Megan Fox is up to this moment, but just like exercise or downing Robitussin when you’ve got a cough – it’s something you need to do.

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Recommended Search Tools for Job Seekers to Manage Their Online Reputations

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Resurrect Pages ExampleWith more and more employers (45% according to CareerBuilder) using the web to research the available information about prospective (and current) employees, it’s important to know what’s out there about you (and how to manage it).  While Google is a great go-to, these are some of my favorite search tools for looking people up:

  • Pipl (www.pipl.com): A very powerful meta-engine with a really user-friendly results page for looking up people (hence the name).  It searches a ton of other engines and organizes the information in various categories: phone directories, background reports, social media profiles, profile photos, professional/business directories, public records (like court documents), publications, news results, photos, videos, etc.  Pipl is a favorite of Lifehacker users – and I agree.
  • 123 People (www.123people.com): Similar to Pipl, this meta-engine is all about individuals and it pulls from a broad array of sources all deposited neatly into an easy-to-digest results page.  It searches for text records and also media (like profile photos).
  • Wink (www.wink.com): Another people search engine that does a good job of narrowing down by location (though this means sacrificing some of the quantity of results).
  • Resurrect Pages (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2570): An add-on to the Firefox web browser, this tool comes in handy when you find a dead link (either because the content has been removed or traffic has taken the site down).  With a right-click of your mouse, it quickly and easily gives you access to the cached/archived/mirror versions of webpages from several different resources (CoralCDN, Google Cache, Yahoo! Cache, The Internet Archive, MSN Cache, Gigablast, and WebCite).

There are a few other search tools but they’re not as good (like PeekYou) or they’re defunct (like Spock which is now owned by Intelius).

By the way – the same goes for EMPLOYERS; any employee worth hiring is searching for all available information about a prospective employer not only to bone up for the interview but to find out if an organization is good to work for.  (Leaving an “easter egg” somewhere online for prospective employees to find might make for an interesting way to test who is web-savvy).  Here are a few sites that cater to employees who want to review employers:

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