Author Archives: mnharbin

What Not to Wear

Possibly the hardest part of the transition from the classroom to the field is the dress code. College life is full of sweatpants, tee shirts and UGG boots. Unfortunately none of these things are appropriate in the working world. Knowing what to wear and when to where it can be difficult.

As Lizzie Post notes on her Web site, wearing the wrong thing can often cause an interviewer to pay more attention to your clothing than to you. A suit is always the best choice when going on an interview.

Business casual is quickly becoming the norm for many offices. Business casual usually consists of dress slacks, skirts and collared shirts. Low cut or cleavage-bearing shirts are not appropriate. Open-toed shoes are usually inappropriate as well. Try to find a comfortable shoe that you can stand in all day long. Jeans and shorts are never dressy enough for the office. Be wary of wearing oversized or too much jewelry.

The Platform Editorial Team created this video to showcase some of the biggest business wardrobe mistakes that we have witnessed. So grab your popcorn and please, don’t ever be caught making any of these irrevocable mistakes.

For more information about dressing appropriate and general business etiquette, please visit Lizzie Post’s Web site via the Emily Post Institute.

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The PR Department… A thing of the past?

Currently, the economy is not at its best. This may be the most obvious declaration you have read in quite some time. Our daily activities consist of eating, sleeping, working and being reminded of how the economy is ruining our lives. However, there are underlying aspects to this statement that some may fail to initially recognize. One of which is local outsourcing. The job market relies heavily on the economy, and in times such as these, we are seeing shifts in the common practices of big business. 

When a company’s budget gets tight, it is no secret that the public relations and advertising department is the first to get the ax. As PR students and practitioners working in the industry, it is important to be aware of potential cutbacks and actions companies take throughout the aftermath. 
The Turner Broadcasting Company in Atlanta, Ga., has recently had to trim down their amount of employees. Being the successful mega-business that they are, Turner acknowledged that though the payroll was getting shorter, they still had to produce the same end results. Here enter syndication and outsourcing. 
Among others, Career Sports and Entertainment was hired by Turner to create quality results equal to in-house production. Career is a private marketing agency in Atlanta, Ga., located literally down the road from the broadcasting company. 
Hiring private PR, talent and/or production firms to do the work, pay the workers, package the results and deliver it to your door is more cost efficient than in-house labor. Turner has inadvertently presented some of their staff with two options: either do the work of two to three people or accept the act of outsourcing. 
The efficient practice of outsourcing is nothing new. Since the Industrial Revolution, we have been searching for ways to raise productivity and profit.
However, we normally equate the topic with the global market, not the local business down the street. This traditional view of international outsourcing has shielded our eyes from local practices that, eventually, may affect your company and more importantly, your job. 
Our present economy has led people to worry about their livelihoods by the masses. Outsourcing is not the most frightening practice we are experiencing, but it adds discomfort and confusion to stressful times. 
The ideal situation would be to keep every employee on staff and hire private firms when projects call for collaboration or specific talents. Except, things are not looking so ideal in the big business world, and realistic adjustments are being implemented. 
Whether I am a 22-year-old PR student, eager to enter the job market, or a 46-year-old company MVP, the current job cuts cause one to question her occupational future. 
Will the company PR/Advertising department become a thing of the past, leaving private PR firms to reap the benefits? Or, will outsourcing plateau and become a steady, healthy practice?
-Meredith C. 

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Google Numbers

Google Numbers

According to the Oct. 6 BusinessWeek (Google Numbers), you will soon know exactly how influential you are through Facebook. Patent pending software produced by Google would rank your Facebook profile through criteria such as how many friends you have, how many friends they have and how often your friends read a news story or view a video clip that you posted. Since Google would be tracking users more closely it would allow them to be able to better serve their advertisers. They would know exactly how influential a person was and what the interests of that person or their friends were, allowing them to target advertising more directly. Google declined to comment to BusinessWeek.

Public Domain
Is your Facebook profile public domain? Would it be ethical for Google to use your interests, activites or group memberships to tailor advertising?
Some would argue that privacy does not exist on the Internet, while others would say that you should be given a reasonable amount of privacy when sharing information with your family and friends on Facebook.
Facebook’s privacy policy has this to say about third-party advertisers, “Unlike most sites on the Web, Facebook limits access to site information by third party search engine ‘crawlers’ (e.g. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask). Facebook takes action to block access by these engines to personal information beyond your name, profile picture, and limited aggregated data about your profile (e.g. number of wall postings).”
But goes on to say:
“We may provide information to service providers to help us bring you the services we offer. Specifically, we may use third parties to facilitate our business, such as to host the service at a co-location facility for servers, to send out email updates about Facebook, to remove repetitive information from our user lists, to process payments for products or services, to offer an online job application process, or to provide search results or links (including sponsored links). In connection with these offerings and business operations, our service providers may have access to your personal information for use for a limited time in connection with these business activities. Where we utilize third parties for the processing of any personal information, we implement reasonable contractual and technical protections limiting the use of that information to the Facebook-specified purposes.”
And finally, “This privacy policy covers the use of cookies by Facebook and does not cover the use of cookies or other tracking technologies by any of its advertisers.”
If Facebook allows Google to implement Google numbers, then they will have to re-write their privacy policy.
Facebook has been somewhat sneaky in the past on implementing new technology. Since their creation they have not needed too much of a communication plan. People joined Facebook because they wanted to connect friends. In light of new technology and the new interface recently introduced, Facebook will need to some serious campaigning in order to keep members from deleting their Facebook accounts.
I am curious to know why Google declined to comment on the BusinessWeek article. Does Facebook know about this proposed Google Number? Is it a stunt to get everyone’s mind off of “New Facebook”?
What do you think?
-Miranda H.
Another blog about how the logarithm of “Google Number” would work: http://johnbell.typepad.com/weblog/2008/09/a-google-number.html

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Cannot Fail Spirit

My management professor presents articles at the beginning of class that are recent and pertinent to the business profession. Last week he showed us this article, featured in the Sept. 29th Fortune Magazine, about the president of Disney-ABC networks Anne Sweeney. In the article she describes the most useful advice she was ever given. She says that it did not come from anyone she knew, but instead she describes a trip to the farmer’s market during a long weekend in San Francisco. She says that she saw a piece of steel etched with a quote, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” She says that it stopped her in tracks and she goes on to offer some useful advice.

As someone who is entering the job search during this time of economic uncertainty and having just written an article about beginning the job search for this issue of Platform, it struck me as pertinent to the job search. Who would I contact if I knew I wouldn’t hear “no.” Would I call that agency I am dying to work for? Maybe.

More than that, it reminds me that the worst thing we can hear when we ask for things or approach things is “no.”

Sweeney goes on to talk about how she always wanted to paint, and after reading the quote she started painting. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not, Sweeney says, she’s just doing it. Sweeney goes on to say, “What matters is you experience it as if you could not fail. It speaks to big dreams, innovation, challenging yourself, and pushing to create what’s next.”
I believe perception is what drives us. If we ignore the perception of failure and push forward with all of our dreams, then we can not, will not fail. If our expectations are reasonable, if we can dream it, we can do it.
I like to think of public relations as one of the most innovative careers. I think that we need to use this “will not fail” approach more often.

Most PR campaigns are teeming with research to back the methods that they are suggesting. Simply making the why behind everything “because we cannot fail” is insane for practitioners and students, like myself, who want to have logical explanations for everything that we do.
I think we as people and as public relations students, educators, and practitioners need to think less about the why and how and more about the instinct and feelings behind what we do.

-Miranda H.

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