By: Joseph Havey
I don’t need to reiterate to you the importance of a professional online appearance. I also know that you’ve already heard the cliché tips (removing those party pictures from Facebook, keep everything non-controversial, etc.), so I won’t bore you with all of that. Instead, here are some tips you may not have heard of before.
- Be active on more than one social media platform. And by active, I mean active. If you have a Twitter, then tweet more than once a day. If you have Facebook, post some photos, comment on some others, tell your friends you miss them and that you hope they have a great birthday. If something on Pinterest stands out, then re-pin it. Cultivate a whole host of boards. You want to look like you are very involved in your online life. Digital isolation arguments aside, social media is very important in the world of PR, so it’s a good idea to show you know how to use more than one type of social platform to its fullest extent.
- Quit complaining. Complaining is very easy to do. Social media is supposed to be about YOU, right? Yes, but you’re supposed to be putting your best foot forward. I am very aware that half of your friends tweet their problems away or update their Facebook statuses to the tune of a political trend that they don’t agree with, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. Take a few talking points from LinkedIn and think of your social media accounts as an extension of your resume. A very relaxed resume, granted, but you should look intelligent, excited, motivated and, of course, fascinated by all things PR.
- Show that you are an expert in something other than PR. It’s not the best idea to look too one-sided. As involved as you all are, this is probably less of an issue, but make sure you are showing that you do have a life. Your work life after college is going to be PR-focused enough so make sure you are still posting/tweeting/instagramming things that have nothing at all to do with your classes and everything to do with your hobbies and friends. This also makes you look very well-rounded, which is something you’ll need to be as a PR pro.
- Be opinionated. Yes, show that you care about things in your life. There is a fine line between expressing an opinion and complaining, but it can be done right. Comment on news stories. If something happened “in the world of PR,” then tell people how you thought it went. Did an organization just release a hugely controversial press release? Do you fully agree with a decision that Congress is making? This type of response is best dedicated to a blog since you can more fully express your ideas there. Also, if you are a fan of multiple organizations, you may start to notice that they ask questions of their followers. Answer them! They want to know anyway (they have PR teams too!)
- Brag every now and then. It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments. Remember the whole “putting your best foot forward thing?” What is a resume anyway, other than a long list of bragging rights? If you made an A on that 10 page paper, go ahead and tell the world about it. Did you just right a blog post? Tweet it, Facebook it, make a YouTube video about it. Well, maybe not that last one. This sort of goes along the lines of showing that you are an expert in something. One way to prove your expertise is by showing people how much you’ve done for that area of your life.
The point of all of this is to show future employers that you are a great, intelligent, energetic and interesting candidate. You wouldn’t walk into an interview wearing jeans and a t-shirt. You wouldn’t forget to update your resume and leave out those past two internships. So don’t half-heartedly tend to your online presence either.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but you’re a PR major. Having incredible social media identities comes with the territory. Most likely it’s going to contribute to a good deal of your job so you may as well get used to it now.