UK’s Top Online Graduate Recruitment Fair: GradU8

I know some of you who read this blog are Graduates applying for a multitude of jobs with little avail so far. Another string for your bow would be a Graduate Recruitment Fair I stumbled across this week called GradU8. If you are in your last year of University or have recently graduated then I highly recommend you get signed up to GradU8. You can even follow GradU8 on Twitter.

GradU8 is the UK’s top online graduate recruitment fair which runs from the 8th – 12th November and gives graduates the option to interact with recruiters in a live environment. You can apply for jobs and easily track your progress straight away. This year over 50 key graduate recruiters will be taking part in GradU8.

The fair has been organised to help University leavers find Graduate Jobs. Featured exhibitors include IBM, Barclays Capital and Cable & Wireless Worldwide. Over the last two years over 100,000 graduates have attended GradU8.

I signed up this year simply out of interest as I have not heard of an online recruitment fair before and it seems like an easier option compared to travelling up and down the country! So good luck to those of you who are trying to find a Graduate Job and I hope GradU8 helps you.

How I use my Social Networks

This post is a shameful copy of Richard Bailey’s post from September. However it interested me due to the different ways people approach different social networks.

Facebook
I use this network for my friends, family and colleagues – never for business purposes. Increasingly I am finding Facebook great for sharing photos with my friends but not so useful for communication. Event notifications have become overthrown with junk, too many games appear in my newsfeed and the horror of ‘likes’ plague the network. Over the last couple of months I have not used Facebook that much. I would rather have scurvy.

Twitter
I’m public on this social network. I use Twitter to further my knowledge (academia and news), keep in touch with a few friends and network with professionals. The 140 character limit on Twitter doesn’t build meaningful relationships but it is enough to get you noticed by professionals as a student. I unfollow those who are usually too noisy.

LinkedIn
Acts as my online CV, a great place to have long conversations with professionals. Over time I have joined many groups for professionals; including Public Relations, Advertising, Marketing, Media and Social Media. In the past I only added those to my network who I have worked with. I decided to ditch this attitude recently and network with those from within groups. Doing so helps spread my profile around, publicise myself online and keeps me open to conversations. I regularly visit this website when I’m interested reading about the latest industry debates.

Blog (You’re on it!)
Those who follow this blog will know I post on a frequent basis. I have never managed to keep any single blog purely on one particular subject and tend to write about what I find interesting. Always looking for new methods to publicise this online parking spot of mine. Occasionally you may sniff a commercial money making tactic but such activities help to pay the bills (remember I’m a struggling student!).

Tumblr (blog x2)
I went through a phase of posting to tumblr as I yearned for an online blog where I could write about slightly more relaxing subjects. As it happens my brain doesn’t like relaxing subjects and so my Tumblr blog didn’t last very long.

YouTube
Don’t judge me too much from my YouTube page! I don’t worry about the total amount of video views or subscribers. I use my YouTube account to take note of noteworthy videos and keep updated with my subscriptions. You will find various videos of mine uploaded, some of which might be interesting but these uploads are done more for my pleasure.

Formspring
If my memory serves me right I have answered over 200 questions on Formspring. Eventually I decided to turn off anonymous questions and you now have to be registered to “ask me anything”. Most people have asked interesting or amusing questions: only a couple have decided to use Formspring to shout abuse at me.

Microsoft Zune
I’m new to Microsoft Zune and upset that it wasn’t released in the UK sooner. Zune is Microsoft’s equivalent of Apple’s iTunes. Before you boohoo it, try it. You will be positively surprised by it, even if you still prefer to use iTunes. Zune features a social networking option. You can add me to it by inviting ‘Mikesoft98’ on Zune.

I’m a member of plenty of other networks but these are the important ones. How do you use your social networks?

Social Media Trends I Expect to See in 2011

Last night I participated in the #CommsChat session on Twitter. More information about the sessions can be found on their website. If you are a PR Student or communications professional then I highly recommend you join in with the discussions. This blog post is inspired from last night’s discussions.

The Rise of Gamification
Gamification is a concept which has been around for a while but this year games such as Farmville have really shown the power behind this kind of social business. I wrote a little post about it last week which has gained some attention. Gamification will continue to grow in the form of more social games being developed/embracing strategic online marketing. Companies will continue to use social networks for games and competitions for their marketing strategies.

Continuation of Social Media Convergence
The problem with social media convergence is that a plugin for a network needs to work very hard to beat the original experience. For example, the new MSN Messenger allows you to view Facebook but needs to work hard to beat the original Facebook interface. Social media will continue to converge. This not only means links from other websites and games but also linkups to mobile devices. Social networks allow a wealth of personal information which is very useful for all sorts of applications. I know this is already happening but again the usage can only increase.

Overlaps with Online Advertising and Social Media
The days of just monitoring CPC (Cost Per Click) or CPM (Cost Per Thousand) are being challenged by engagement. Measuring engagement is difficult and is currently done by monitoring interaction with online advertisements. Online advertising will have a real edge if it can provide a positive interaction with a user and then allow that user to share the advertisement on their social networks.

Geo-tagging and Augmented Reality
I’m not entirely sure if this will happen in 2011 but I really hope it does. The concept of augmented reality geo-tagging would possibly be an evolution from platforms such as FourSquare. Various augmented reality prototype apps have been developed already but none have been refined just yet. Beyond 2011 augmented reality will become a foundation for online advertising and social media engagement in the physical world. Finding it difficult to measure real world sales using social media? Augmented reality could be one of the answers.

Social Commerce
Facebook marketplace is already growing and I believe this trend is only set to continue. We may see other sites appear which allow social commerce, perhaps providing interlinks to already popular social networks. There is definitely a lack for a Twitter social market place for trading locally. Whilst eBay is one form of social commerce, it is not a website which allows you to trade exclusively with friends, family, colleagues and shared contacts.

If you have more to add to this list then feel free to share in the comments. Perhaps share your own blog post in the comments?

My Internship: What the Hell Do I Do?

Erratic but not usually boring. My internship at Microsoft has seen me delve into a whole series of tasks which has caused me to re-think skills, build skills and utilize skills. Everything is about skills, skills, skills. Yet knowledge plays a fundamental role each day. Taking notes is important but sometimes it is necessary to remember information first time round. Teaching the brain how to be a sponge for every sort of information is tricky but worth it.

Anway…

The purpose of this post is to update you about my role which will now see me until the end of my internship. A little while ago I provided a cryptic description of what I am up to but now I can proudly proclaim that I am a Multinational Account Manager for the Microsoft Media Network (MMN).

To reiterate I am part of the Multinational Microsoft Advertising team. We operate in around 40 different countries and provide online advertising solutions to a whole range of clients. Sometimes interacting directly with clients and other times working with a network of agencies.

A couple of days ago four accounts from MMN were handed over to me. Unfortunately I cannot reveal who my clients are but you will all know one of them as a large gaming client. In the next couple of weeks it is likely I will have more clients to cater for as well. In a business sense it is necessary to continue relationships from past Account Managers but for one client (the largest one for my batch) it is a fresh start.

I will learn a lot in this role, probably more than my University has taught me over the last two years. This is a great opportunity for me and I hope to explain the skills it has been necessary for me to build over the next few months on this blog.

It is true. I am a Public Relations student and not in a Public Relations role for my internship. However skills necessary for the Public Relations industry are largely about communication. This fits well in my Account Management role. Besides, I’m not the greatest fan of writing out press releases each day.

So there you have it. This is what I am up to at the moment. Sorry I can’t provide the intimate details of the clients I have here. I’m sure you intelligent bunch understand.

M x

Difficulties of Promoting Locally

Last night I was invited to the Sutton Dyslexia Association (SDA) following an email I sent offering help with their Public Relations strategy. On arrival I was surprised to see a fairly full room. I counted 35 heads, of which were parents and teachers. The aim of these monthly meet-ups is to help those who teach Dyslexic students. Ages range from those studying at Primary school, Secondary school and a couple who are being helped at degree level.

Speaking to the organisers afterwards made me realise how difficult it is to promote a small, fairly niche charity. Currently their publicity efforts rely heavily on word of mouth (the pinnacle PR method) and advertising in local newspapers.

A logical process ran through my mind throughout the meeting trying to determine the publics who could be communicated to but then falling short of a way to actually promote this small charity in the small area of Sutton.

The ranges of speakers they have are impressive. Many boast excellent educational backgrounds and experience. Of which could easily be communicated via press releases in the local papers. Although even with persuasion to Journalists, a press release is never guaranteed to make a publication. I know this through bitter experience of talking with journalists in the Gloucestershire region.

The SDA do have a website of which could be vastly improved, made web 2.0 compliant but to gain any level of engagement it is necessary for volunteers at the SDA to spend time filling the website with content. Something which just isn’t viable due to the time constraints volunteers already feel. Unfortunately I cannot create content for their site but literally provide them with a strategy and implementation – I cannot provide them with content. Time constraints in my life at the moment withhold me from such deeds.

I walked away from the meeting with my brain buzzing. Promoting locally is difficult in such situations. My PR course is very focused upon working within an agency and everything I have worked on so far has extended beyond local boarders. Surely there must be a way to effectively promote this charity but I have found myself pondering for annoying length of times for a method.

Following from the meeting it has become clear that my experiences and knowledge may suit the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). The mother charity of the SDA who do require help on a level which seems more natural to me.

So this small muse isn’t a boasting marketing piece on the behalf of me but instead a cry for help. Can PR effectively promote on a small local level? How heavily is PR reliant upon an organisation to be content productive?

I certainly haven’t given up searching for promotion methods for the SDA but will need to spend the next few days reading through my vast array of PR books to see if my brain has been leaking information during the first few months of my placement year.

Social Media “Gamification”

Increasingly brands are getting involved with a heightened level of social interaction through social media, using games. This is called Gamification and surprisingly Wikipedia has very little to say about the term.

Gamification began with rewarding points for social interaction. Early examples of this could be seen with PHPbb forum post count which allowed people to increase in rank depending upon their post number. Other PHPbb plugins allowed the imaginary monetisation of forum posts and turned communities into imaginary marketplaces based on interaction.

The point is that Gamification finds the part of each person which is competitive and gives reason to share their experiences with other users. Recently websites such as FourSquare have turned Geo-Location into a service which can reward you badges, as well as discounts and freebies in the real world.

The actual term Gamification is fairly new or at least nothing substantial could be applied to the term before a few years ago. Due to this I’m going to form my own views of this phenomenon.

There are several forms of Gamification:

  • Services which involve Gamification as a feature (ie. FourSquare)
  • Services which could be used for Gamification (ie. Twitter)

I find the second option far more interesting. If anything Gamification is just a word which online social contest encompass. Gamification becomes apparent when people of networks have been involved into some sort of contest. This might be to win points, services, products… anything.

Gamification takes social networks and gives them a competitive edge which brands can use to promote their own services. Gamification can prove positive results, just look at Farmville. This infamous game boasts 80 million users, plaugues our Facebook newsfeeds and has involvements promoting brands.

From the weathering heights of Farmville to the adverts on websites which allow us to kick a ball into the goal or shoot a duck. Advertising uses methods of Gamification – technically something which can make the one-way basic nature of online advertising into an interactive experience. Suddenly Click Through Rates (CTR) needs to be weighed up against aspects of engagement.

For the next few weeks I will definitely be learning and noticing Gamification as this area of social media continues to grow. What other examples of Gamification can you think of?  

Student Hacks and Flacks

Thanks to Mr @benarmham of Twitter, although I also happen to know this fellow in the real world, I was at Farnham University last weekend. I thought the University of Gloucestershire was small. Farnham is on a different level of miniscule but is also coupled with a community which is noticeably strong from the outset. Perhaps rather niche as well due to the abundant of creative courses.

One particular aspect of the visit which captured me the most was meeting a few Journalism students. As Journalism and Public Relations are closely intertwined I couldn’t help but compare students from both industries. Especially due to the notorious competitive edge which has always existed between Hacks and Flacks.

I can’t confess a lot of knowledge because most of my evening in Farnham was spent drinking. No, I didn’t forget. Just sometimes it is necessary to drink rather than discuss. You can see below a grainy picture which was taken within the bowels of Farnham’s Student Union.

I suppose Journalism really has two main forms:

  • The art of reporting news
  • The ‘not so artistic’ form of providing opinions

The detail of attention which Farnham spends focusing on online matters is clear. Students are being directed to set up blogs, twitter accounts and learn how to broadcast using different mediums. Rather than making Journalism students ‘journalists’, this instantly makes a classroom full of ‘citizen journalists.’ Albeit, some of which may need persuading to begin their digital journeys.

If anything the emphasis to build a portfolio of online activity is an attempt to brand a student’s presences online. It is clear that as part of Farnham’s course this is necessary. I’m surprised CIPR approved courses have not introduced a similar personal social media branding exercise yet.

The difference might be that Journalism students must have an online presence. Their industry is one where students cannot afford to take too many risks. They have stepped into an industry which is currently in decline, nobody is certain of its future and competition is rife. It is truly cut-throat in the world of Journalism. Not only are they competing against each other, seasoned professionals but also individuals such as myself who have already established a blog.

I don’t believe being a good blogger makes you a good journalist. Whilst I can comment on subjects and battle ponderings on this digital parking spot – I cannot report news. All of my news comes from mainstream media; television, newspaper (this includes online) and radio. You will find other bloggers receive their news this way also. Blogging opens up the mainstream to reveal the troubled edge of different news angles and opinion.

I also don’t believe that studying Journalism or Public Relations will make you a good writer. Both of these courses are about communication and require students to step outside of their comfort zones. Compare yourself against others in the class and try to imagine why you will be more successful. Don’t become arrogant or needlessly self-conscious. Enjoy your course, always say ‘yes’ to opportunities and try to keep ahead of the game.

Throughout my time in Farnham I couldn’t help but think. How many of these student hacks will one day become flacks? Quite a few are crossing the divide at the moment. If so will a Journalism student have the right skills for PR? Will a PR student have the right skills for Journalism?      

My Arguments are Tantrums, My Points are Pointless

You do start to question how deep an addiction can worm its way into your personality when withdrawal causes you to become a person you despise. Smoking for me started as a love affair and has continued to be a relationship I regret. Quite cliché isn’t it? Most smokers regret their transition from the nice smells, to the tobacco smells.

Nicotine understands me very well. It is has been in my system for almost 3 years and understands the deepest intricate of how my mind works. Nicotine knows that by simply pulling on crave wires won’t stir me too much. What I don’t like is when I get moody. As many times before I find myself 3 days into ‘no smoking’ and feelings of anxiety and depression loom at times.

Irritability is the worse aspect of quitting. I get snappy. I will attempt arguments with people over the smallest things and because I rarely become so irritable people assume I am being serious. I am not serious. In fact my arguments are tantrums and my points are pointless. Irritability won’t be helped by occasional insomnia (last night was atrocious).

So this is a short warning post for all of those who know me. If I get annoyed please don’t take me seriously. Just brace and agree.

I may start smoking again at the end of the week but I aim not to… again.