Thursday, December 17, 2015

Eric Bergman: Truth VS. Transparency

December 1st, I had the opportunity to attend an IABC event where Master Communicator, Eric Bergman, discussed being truthful versus being transparent- because there is actually a difference.

Here are the 3 main topics Eric spoke about at the event about being a transparent business communicator:

1. On Polarization

Polarization is the opposition of sides. Our goal as communicators is to neutralize these sides through forming an unformed opinion or changing an opinion.

People don’t remember what you say; they remember what they thought about what you said. As long as someone has an emotional attachment, you won’t be able to change his or her mind. To reverse this, make them compare their logic and your logic to create a reasonable, rational, logical opinion. Chances are you will be able to neutralize the polarization.

2. On Transparency

Trust comes from transparency. If you are going to manage polarization, you must answer questions. However, transparency means, “ask me anything you want”, NOT “that’s a good question but let me tell you what’s really important”. Short answers are easier to remember, and answering the question clearly will generate a more positive response.

There are a choice 3 answers to every question:

1. No I don’t have the answer, but I will find out.
2. Yes I know the answer, it’s….
3. Yes I know the answer, but I can’t discuss it.

3. The Art of Answering Questions

The more you try to educate everyone, the less they understand. Ironic, isn’t it?

There is a lot of logic to be explored in Q&A’s, but sometimes business communicators get in the way when answering. Keep “PAS” in mind:
P= pause
A= answer
S= stop

Any question should be able to be answered in 10 words or less. Eric has recorded business communicators answering questions and showed it to them afterwards- he then recommends to do 10 pushups for every word you go over 10 words. You’ll put more value in your words and use less filler.

A big thank you to Eric Bergman for the great tips!

- Jessica Cabral

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Communicating Graphics

I remember when I first started my three year course in Graphic Design at Mohawk College, I was totally engaged and loved every minute of it. It was so fun being able to create original content and seeing it printed and holding it in my hands. However, the last year was very discouraging. It was the first time they had the three year choice and everything seemed very unorganized and it made me lose my faith in starting a career in the field.

I didn't know what to do with myself once I had graduated. I spoke to a few of my friends on what they plan on doing and I remember helping out a friend with his graphics homework while he was in the Public Relations program here at Mohawk. I figured maybe I can start a career in that field and thought my experience with graphic design would definitely help. I was very glad when I found out that I was right.

I can't count how many times graphic design is brought up with guest speakers and in our lectures. This alone has made me want to fine tune my growing skills with public relations. This also becomes evident with our print applications class, I could have been exempt from this class but I figured this would be a nice way to refresh my skills and help out the other students in the class as well. :)

Expand Your Social Media Horizons.

Most young people in 2015 feel like they have a pretty good understanding of social media. Most of us have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, along with the other popular North American applications. As regular users of these major social media platforms, we now believe ourselves experts. The fact of the matter is we have a limited understanding of the wide variety social media tools from a professional communication standpoint. The Public relations program at Mohawk College focuses heavily on introducing us to new and different social media platforms as well as teaching us how to properly use social media in general.
If it were not for the Social Media in Business assignment given to us in the communication technologies course I would never have heard of social media tools such as Wechat, WordPress, or Presspage, let alone know how to use them in a business setting. By assigning us a wide variety of potential tools, the class helps to give us a proper breadth of knowledge in order to stay current in practices used by businesses and communicators. Through the introduction of a solid variety of social media platforms the PR program really does work to give us a substantial base of usable knowledge at our fingertips.

Furthermore, a large part of the assignment is spent researching a specific social media tool. The topic my group was assigned was Wechat. Wechat is a great chatting and sharing application that is actually the most popular in the world. Before being assigned to research this platform, I had no idea what it was or how to use it. Through the research I had to do, I now know what it is, how to use it, and perhaps most importantly how to explain to other people why they should use it for their business. I can tell people about how it can help connect businesses and their customers in a more personal manner among other things. This knowledge gained was all due to commitment of our program to keep us current in technologies that may be helpful when we become professionals. 

Kirk Simonovski

Social Media and Social Change

There is no doubt that social media has grown into a staple in today's society, but what we sometimes fail to realize is that power it has beyond simply a tool for personal use.

It seems as though ever since the explosion of #BlackLivesMatter back when the Michael Brown case occurred, social media has turned a leaf and is being used to erupt social change. Through the use of hashtags, the story of Michael Brown not only swept the United States, but social media platforms around the globe. Using tags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MichaelBrown, and #HandsUpDontShoot, people all around the world had Michael Brown entering their homes even when the media wasn't covering the story, and this is another beautiful asset that social media has for social change.

The media is very picky. They choose stories that not only interest them, but that will interest the public. In doing so, some stories either get left behind or told from a completely biased view; this is where social media steps in. There are millions of users on Twitter and Facebook, all with millions of different opinions. You could turn on the news and hear one side of a story, but you could turn to the uses of social media and hear a number of other ones. Although this could lead to false information, it can also lead to a broadening of the mind. I may think one way about a situation because of something I've seen on the news, but I could turn to Twitter, see someones points on the same issue, and completely change my mind simply because I hadn't thought about it that way before.

Too, social media also works to get the word out and bring people together. An amazing example of this would be for Evan Leversage of St. George, Ontario who had millions hear about his situation. Using the hashtags #LightsOnForEvan and #EvansLastChristmas, his story spread across the world. Donations flooded in, thousands attended his christmas parade, and in a bittersweet fashion, now thousands will be attending his funeral. This goes to show how a simple "share", "like", and "retweet" can take something small and make it large beyond measure.

In closing, our world is constantly in flux. Disasters happen, miracles happen, there's good news and bad news, but one things for sure is that social media is becoming the main source of communication between all of it. If you want to know about an event, you turn to twitter, if you want to see a funny video or share a story, Facebook is there. Social media is growing so rapidly, that we have no choice to adapt, but luckily, it allows us the opportunities to change the world.

Social Media Assistant...and PR?

I have recently started a social media position at Mohawk College in the business department for the entrepreneurial hub called SURGE; it has been quite the experience!

I saw the job posting through an email that was sent out to the public relations graduate certificate program class list. I was lucky enough to be chosen for an interview and was then offered the job.

So far I have mainly been in charge of SURGE’s Twitter account. When I first started they were at 414 followers and as of today we are at 508! It has been a unique experience learning about social media in a business setting. Did you know that it is recommended for a business to have 50 interactions a day on Twitter? Me neither – but it's true. I’m lucky to have an amazing supervisor who has let me have creative control and allowed me to take charge of their accounts. Due to the fact that I am a full-time student and have an internship on top of this new job, I have been researching tools that will help me maintain the business-Twitter-etiquette. I have recently signed SURGE up for SproutSocial. I have been using SproutSocial to schedule my own original tweets, as well as scheduling retweets and likes. So far it has been working great and it allows for me to balance this new job with the pre-existing elements in my life.

Although my official title is “social media assistant”, my supervisor has included me in, essentially, all aspects of the business. I am learning the ins and outs of event planning (which is a lot more work than I ever thought), the different entrepreneurial outlets in Hamilton (there are quite a few believe it or not!), and all of the different channels programs need to go through to get approval, advertising, and more. 

We try to send out a weekly newsletter; which I have now been put in charge of (each pending approval from my supervisor). The newsletter is great way for me to practice my persuasive writing, as well as apply what I have been taught in the print design class.

It's been a really exciting process learning about this field. Below is a picture of the first SURGE event I had the privilege of attending. I was definitely surprised with the turn-out! Looks like there are a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs at Mohawk.

Will this job help me in my public relations career?

I think so (which is such a bonus)! One of the potential job areas we have discussed in this program is a “social media expert”. I think that at the end of this public relations program and once my contract is up with SURGE, I will be able to consider myself a social media expert. I also hope that my career allows me to stay in Hamilton. The fact that SURGE works with CoMotion on King, The Forge, Spectrum, Innovation Factory, Platform302, and more (which are all Hamilton based entrepreneurial hubs and/or work spaces) helps me develop a relationship with this industry within Hamilton. SURGE focuses its attention on Hamilton startups, which will also help me when pursuing my job search in Hamilton – every company needs PR eventually. SURGE has definitely introduced me to places and people I would not have otherwise seen or met, and shown me how important building relationships really are in this industry.

Extended Interview & Words of Advice From Former CNN Journalist, Laurin Sydney

As I am writing this blog post, the countdown to the end of my first semester in Mohawk’s Public Relation’s program has already begun. There are 4 class days left. In 4 days I will be closer to the end of this program then the beginning.  This may not seem as big of a deal to most, but for me, it means that I finally get a day off… or two.  

Part of my “PR struggle” has been trying to balance a pretty chaotic work life in the television industry with a full-time school load. However, without my time spent running to and from classes and control rooms, I would have never met the wealth of knowledge that is Laurin Sydney. I hope some wondering eyes make it to this post, as it is clear Laurin has a great deal of experience and guidance to offer up to the emerging professionals of Mohawk’s PR program.

Let me start with a little information on Laurin.

Laurin Sydney is currently a lifestyle TV Expert, contributor to the Today Show, worldwide media trainer and consultant, motivational speaker and a best selling author. Yah… and that’s not all.


Born and raised in New York City, Laurin has a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University.
A career that started as an actress eventually turned into over a decade as an award-winning journalist for CNN. She now focuses on strategic media training and consulting for HSN, QVC and more. She teaches the “what” and “how” of brand story telling and helps different celebrities, on-air personalities and corporate executives craft their brand messages into compelling stories.

With amazing credentials like these, I felt it necessary to reach out to Laurin and find out what advice she has for students starting out in the world of media and public relations; this is what she had to say:

#1. “Life is a Tootsie Pop, you have to get to the center” (her words exactly). According to Laurin, everything in life has a chewy center and you just have to get to it. Whatever you may be working on (an idea, a store opening, a message) get to the core of it - and don’t go on and on... and on.   

#2. Never stop dreaming! Dreaming and surrounding herself with a great support system is what she believes got her to where she is today. She had parents that told her she could be anything she wanted to be and didn’t listen to people when they said she couldn’t do something.

When speaking about her career at CNN, Laurin says, “I had no right to be an anchor on CNN, there were hundreds of anchors around the world, so why should it be me? Because I thought I could. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something!”

#3. Don’t do what everybody else is doing, but don’t be different just to be different. Find that middle ground and give people what they want.

#4. Think of yourself as an audience member. Sometimes we all want the same thing. In the end, we are all human.

#5. Have fun and be accurate, truthful and empathetic. Keep doing what your supposed to do. 

I had a great time with Laurin and thank her for her words of encouragement and advice. I hope someone was able to take something away from this, I know I did!