Monthly Archives: December 2009

Zuckerburg writes to 350 million users

Many of us saw the letter when we logged on to Facebook last week regarding changes to the site.

Mark Zuckerburg, founder of Facebook, wrote an open letter to all members of Facebook informing users of upcoming changes. He informed more than 350 million users that networks were no longer the best way to control privacy settings. Facebook’s new changes will remove regional networks and create a simpler model for privacy control where users can set specific guidelines as to who can see their information.

It is evident that Zuckerburg has communicated effectively with many of the users through his letter. More than 47,900 people have indicated by saying they “like” his letter, and more than 41,400 people have posted comments on his letter. Communication is key when it comes to social media and delivering messages, and Zuckerburg has done a good job notifying users of changes ahead of time.

In the open letter, Zuckerburg wrote, “Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control of their information.”

Zuckerburg also wrote that networks worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students.

As Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and Zuckerburg concluded that this is no longer the best way for the users to control their privacy.

Facebook users will soon be presented with a revised privacy control panel. Users will then be able to review and update their privacy settings. Changes to the site will make it easier for the 350 million users to control who sees their photos, personal information and profiles.

Zuckerburg wrote, “We’ve worked hard to build controls that we think will be better for you, but we also understand that everyone’s needs are different.”

“It has been a great year for making the world more open and connected,” Zuckerburg wrote. “Thanks for being a part of making Facebook what it is today.”

Facebook has promised better privacy for all of its users and it will be interesting to see how everyone responds to upcoming changes on the site.

By Sara Sanderson

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P2P Mentoring

PR students have had the importance of networking and mentors engrained in their minds since their first day on campus. Most teachers would argue that it’s “all about who you know” that will help you land that first job out of college. Mentors help you prepare for the real world better than any class ever could. And with today’s tough job market, developing a networking opportunity into a mentorship can be more important than ever, but that doesn’t mean it should be any harder than it was before.

Traditionally, in the mind of most students, networking refers to establishing professional relationships with accomplished individuals in their field of study. But mentors come in all shapes, forms, positions and ranks. PR students may be lucky enough to be paired with a mentor through PRSSA, or fortunate enough to be referred to a special CEO that will help them get their toes wet in the vast PR ocean. But for those less fortunate souls struggling to find a willing professional, mentoring should not be as out of reach as they may think.

One relationship that students should not, but often do, overlook, is an opportunity to pursue a mentor relationship with another student or recent graduate; in essence, a peer-to-peer mentorship.

Consider this: Who was in your shoes just last year? Who knows what it is like to go through the job search in this economy? Who knows exactly what employers are looking for in a portfolio, from experience? Who better can share information that will hit close to home throughout your college career? When thinking it through, a recent college graduate sounds like a perfect mentor option.

Students can pursue a P2P mentorship by continuing contact with senior classmates as they enter the job market, reaching out to young account executives or networking with other students who may have young professional contacts as well. By keeping in contact with someone currently searching for a position, students can learn what is working, what is not working and how they can better make the transition from school to industry. Also, by seeking out a mentor still in classes, first- or second-year PR students can benefit from the knowledge of what professors are the best to network with, which classes provide the best learning experiences and what extracurricular programs to get involved in.

Mentors don’t need to be “old” and mentees don’t need to be close to graduation; start these relationships early! It’s easy to make friends of and at all ages, and friendships are the easiest relationships to develop into peer-to-peer mentorships. These P2P mentorships may not be as formal as a traditional mentorship, but it can be easier to ask tougher questions or easier to relate to someone considered a friend first.

Also, if you’re in the process of looking for a mentor, consider being that mentor for someone younger in the future. Make yourself accessible throughout your senior year, and reach out to a student you think you could impact. Whether it be a friend, a student in your PR classes, fraternity brother or sorority sister, someone you met through PRSSA or just someone you have noticed and have taken an interest in, let them know you’re willing to help them.

Peer mentors have the opportunity to help mentees apply for scholarships and internships, better develop portfolios and resumes, counsel them on what steps to take closer to graduation, discuss the obstacles faced after graduation, or even practice interviewing; the possibilities and opportunities for P2P mentorship are endless.  The profound impact a professional mentor may make should not overshadow the potential impact of a peer mentor. Please consider this option if you are struggling to find a professional mentor or if you believe yourself to be a resource to future graduates. If a new friendship is the least that develops from your troubles, you can still justify your efforts. After all, aren’t friendships what networking is all about?

By Amanda Aviles

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Grading PR in the Community

When we think about public relations, our mind usually pictures a corner office in a big-city agency or corporation. The first image is definitely not of a high school or elementary school. However, with budget cuts and rising operating expenses, public school systems have found it imperative to use public relations to keep students and their parents in the tax base to support the school.

Schools are traditionally the cornerstone for any community, and a strong school system usually translates into a strong community in terms of its economic stability. Generally, a school is a reflection of its community, and schools influence everything from residential real estate to the businesses that set up in the town. Therefore, schools must effectively utilize public relations to boost their image within the community.

A recent article for The Principal’s Partnership, an organization dedicated to helping principals in Union Pacific communities lead their schools and students, details the importance for public relations in school systems. A school system must use public relations tactics to garner support from its community. The article quotes James Tolley, former vice president of public affairs for Chrysler, as saying, “All institutions live or die by public opinion.” This also applies to education and its institutions, as public opinion is one of the determining factors when parents decide where to place their children in school.

Positive public opinion requires a positive public relations attitude and a strategy in reaching a school’s target publics. School systems must take several steps to ensure the support of their community. First, schools must establish and maintain relationships with the members of their communities. The core of public relations is the ability to build and sustain relationships with the public, and this is the most important factor in improving a school’s public opinion within the community.

Relationships with the community can help build either a negative or positive reputation for the school. Positive reputations can only be found through open and honest communication with the public, highlighting the strong points and benefits of the school. Communication includes everything from an effective, organized Web site to community outreach events to positive word-of-mouth from the school’s staff, students and parents. Successful PR does not have to be expensive; it just has to be effective in reaching the community.

Once a school has developed a good reputation within the community, it must maintain that reputation by continuing to update its public on upcoming events, changes and successes within the school. While a school must be honest and open about negative situations involving the school, it must highlight the successes of the school to bring a positive light to its public image. This includes recognizing sports achievements, improved test scores, wins for the debate team and anything else that could improve the school’s reputation. These successes can bring positive attention to the school and, in turn, positive attention to the community and its economic growth.

The public often assumes PR is reserved only for corporations and agencies selling an image. Similarly, schools must also sell their image of present students and future generations to their public. The community surrounding the school depends on this future image to grow and prosper, and the success of the community is reflected in the successful image of its schools.

by Jessica Boyd

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