By Adam Vincenzini
One of my favourite quotes, by Charles Kettering, sums up the rationale behind the interview you are about to read:
“My interest lies in the future because I’m going to spend the rest of my life there.”
Today, we take a peek into the future of PR and personal(ity) branding.
More specifically, we meet a young lady who might just be the prototype for how young professionals need to market themselves before they even enter the workforce.
Her name is Mikinize Stuart (@Mikinzie), and although she doesn’t finish her university studies until May this year at Ferris State University in Michigan, we could all learn a thing or two from her now, especially in relation to building relationships via social media…
Q1 (AV): You have established an impressive suite of online destinations / places to connect as you prepare for a life in PR – for those who aren’t aware, what are some of the things you are doing and what is the rationale behind your strategy?
A1 (MS): The PRepguide blog started out of a LinkedIn discussion board, where I asked: “Should I go to graduate school if I want to be a Public Relations professional?”
Other PR students asked me what I was finding out from this LinkedIn discussion, but had a hard time viewing the discussion if they weren’t a part of the group.
And so The PRepguide was born as a way to share the valuable information I was finding out from other PR professionals simply by asking questions on social networking platforms.
I used twitter to promote my blog because I thought other PR students might be interested in the topics I was writing about since a lot of them had the same questions too.
The PRepguide became a discussion starter for PR students and professionals alike: students had the similar questions and professionals wanted to help answer those questions. After participating in #PRstudchat (a monthly Twitter chat that brings students and professionals closer together), I connected with even more like-minded people who wanted to discuss the same topics I did.
I’ve connected and developed relationships with many people in my blog community on all electronic platforms: twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, PROpenMic, email, phone, text and even in-real-life.
Q2: Has it helped you meet your objectives?
A2: Using social media to network has absolutely helped meet my objectives, but first, let me define what those objectives are.
Of course, I want a job waiting for me once I graduate in May. However, my main objective is not solely about getting a job, it’s about creating meaningful relationships with professionals and my peers. Since I’m interested in PR, it is given that I am interested first and foremost in people. My objective is getting to know the people I learn from and interact with online beyond the glare of my computer screen.
A few examples where I have created and maintained relationships with digital leaders include Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge), Valerie Simon (@valeriesimon) and David Armano (@armano).
Deirdre is not only a leader in the PR 2.0 movement, author of multiple books, president at Mango! Marketing, but is willing to help students who are willing to put forth the effort.
Had I never created that relationship with Deirdre through twitter and #PRStudChat, I would have never had the opportunity to ask to fly out to New York and New Jersey hang out with her and learn all I can for a few days.
Q3: What things have you learnt about Social Media / Digital Engagement that you weren’t aware of when you started down this path?
A3: Social Media is THE way to network in this day and age.
My university (Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.) is in a small town where there is very little opportunity for communication professionals. The closest urban area is 50 miles away, which is a lengthy commute to make everyday when you have full-time classes and two-jobs.
I have positioned myself in the PR industry as a future PR professional and have created a valuable network of professionals and students from the comfort of my own tiny college apartment.
Q4: You’ve now got a huge toolkit of skills that some of the most seasoned PR pros don’t have – what advice would you give them about tackling Social / Digital Media?
A4: The key is to remember social media is the means to an “in-real-life” end. It doesn’t stop after a few tweets or a blog comment, you have to maintain your community.
Even if I can’t afford to travel all over the nation, I make a point to talk to them on the phone or using a video chat to the people I interact with the most online. I also make a point to connect with people I talk to regularly on all channels, since each channel has a different significant purpose.
The bottom line is that you have to put social media in motion. You can establish yourself in digital networks, but it means nothing until you put it into action.
I really recommend you follow Mikinze on Twitter, or connect with her via the various places she’s available online, to really get a feel for how she does things.
In my opinion, her proactive and mature approach to building relationships is incredibly impressive, and embodies how the PR Pro must operate now and well into the future.
What do YOU think?
Does Mikinzie sound like the prototype for the PR pro of the future?
Is she demonstrating skills that are becoming increasingly valuable in the communications industry?
Would you interview her for a position based on her obvious passion and skill set?
I know I would.
If you are an up and coming communications professional I’d love to hear from you.
My Blogroll is now specifically reserved for students and just turned communications professions, details here.
Also, if you are interested in learning more about the work experience scheme we operate at Paratus Commnications, which is open to students all over the world, send me an email and I can tell you more about it.