How Can I Learn If Nobody’s There to Teach Me?

15 Feb

Let me start by telling you that if you think graduating college means your days of learning are over, you’re in for a harsh reality check. Scratch that. You’re in for a reality check that is the opposite of harsh. What would that word be? For the sake of this post, let’s go with, “rewarding.”

My post-grad educational experience has been what some might consider untraditional. I came into my job as Marketing Manager with a limited background in public relations and a small amount of hands-on marketing experience. Nothing that would qualify me as an expert or put me in the position to be a decision maker. But that’s exactly what happened. About six months ago I started working for a small business (4 employees) and was immediately thrown to the wolves. This has had its ups and downs, and I’d like to share how I’ve managed to take this difficult opportunity and use it to my benefit

Read

When I first started, my position was brand new. My boss recently discovered the importance of becoming active online and decided it was time to hire someone to manage that aspect of the business. Right off the bat I was tasked with improving our website’s search engine rankings, creating a social media plan and setting goals, editing PPC advertisements and working on a handful of other things I’ve never done. Every entry-level employee struggles with that, so I know I’m not alone. What makes my particular situation unique is that none of the people I work with know anything about this stuff either. So how do I know what I’m doing?

I read. A lot. I dedicate a small amount of my time at work to reading articles, specifically from places like SEOMoz.org and Outspoken Media. I also read a book, “Marketing in the age of Google,” before I started. This book is perfect for someone who is looking to learn the basics of search engine marketing and SEO, but has no experience in the industry. Coming in with no prior knowledge about online marketing and SEO strategies and tactics, those sources, along with a few other websites I’ve come across, have guided me and helped me develop a plan that has improved our website’s performance. How much of an improvement?

  • 215% increase in online sales compared to the 6 months prior to my employment
  • Average monthly website visits increased by over 100
  • Currently rank in the top 50 for 51 target keywords
  • Rank #1 for 6 target keywords

Testing the Water

As beneficial as reading is, it can only get you so far. In order to find out if what you’ve read actually means anything, you have to test it out. I’m lucky enough to be in a situation where I have free reign over almost everything I do, which allows me to experiment and find out what works and what doesn’t. Since I don’t have an experienced marketing or SEO professional here to lend advice, I’ve had to make the most out of what I have to work with. Luckily for me, that has lead the company in the right direction. It could have very easily gone bad, but that’s a risk you have to take if you want to become better at what you do. I’m a true believer that failure is the best way to learn.

Ask Questions

This is important for anyone just entering the work force, and even holds true for more experienced professionals (or so I’ve heard). There will be times when you won’t know the answer to a problem you’re trying to solve. Don’t be afraid to ask a coworker for help. As marketing and public relations professionals, we’re expected to know the ins and outs of the company we work for. Knowing everything about the company allows us to tell the best possible story and target the correct keywords and audiences. I came in with no knowledge of recycling, lighting or anything else we do on a daily basis. Through asking the people around me for help, I’ve developed a great understanding of the industry, and I’m able to pass my knowledge along to those who want to learn more.

Writing

I saved the best for last. In my opinion, writing about a topic is the single best way to learn. It’s not just the writing that helps you learn though. The combination of hours of research on a topic, coupled with putting that material in your own words, will help implant the knowledge in your brain. There are facts I’ve discussed in my blog posts and guest articles that I will never forget, and that’s why writing is so valuable.

My tip to you is this. Push yourself to learn as much as possible every day. You will learn more than you could ever imagine simply from the day-to-day tasks you’re assigned. Making the extra effort to become better at what you do is what will put you ahead of everyone else. Even if you don’t have a mentor there to help guide you, it is possible to learn and become great.

North Side Gal

13 Feb

In an attempt to get myself back into the blogging spirit, I’m going to start posting a number of different things on here, starting with a song that really lifts me up. Hopefully this will motivate me to write again. For now, enjoy.

These Things I Wish For You

11 Feb

I’ve shared this a handful of times, but I wanted to post it here as a permanent place for people I know to read it. This is my favorite thing I’ve ever read, and I think every child should read it at some point in his or her life. Enjoy.

These Things I Wish For You

By Lee Pitts

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.

For my grandchildren, I’d like better. I’d really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen. It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in. I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it’s all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he’s scared, I hope you let him. When you want to see a movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days, when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don’t ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won’t be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I don’t care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don’t like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle. May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays. I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it’s the only way to appreciate life.

Written with a pen. Sealed with a kiss. I’m here for you. And if I die before you do, I’ll go to heaven and wait for you.

So You Want to Work in PR, Huh?

13 Dec

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. I’m 17 years old, a senior in high school, and I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’m not really crafty, and I sure as hell don’t know how to fix stuff, so joining a trade is not an option for me. This leaves me with two choices: go to college, or work minimum wage jobs forever. For obvious reasons, I picked college. Now I’m faced with one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer, “what do I want to study?”

I’m an intelligent kid. I do well in math, science, etc. The problem is, none of that interests me. Then I come across something called “public relations.” What the heck is public relations? After doing a little research, I thought, “Hey, I can do this. I’m great with people and it sounds like a lot of fun.”

Now we’re back in 2011, and I’m here to help anyone considering public relations as a potential career. Looking back on the decision I was making, there was one thing I wish someone had told me…

Get Ready to Write

Talk to a PR professional sometime and ask them, “what is one skill someone entering your field needs to have?” Chances are he or she will say writing.

This is actually an odd topic for me, because it sounds like I wish someone had told me how much writing would be involved so I would stay away. Looking back at the lazy, unmotivated Dan, I know he would have gone a different way because PR sounded like too much work. God must have been giving me some Tim Tebow love at that time, because it kept me on a path to something I love doing.

Let me start by telling you this. The type of writing you’ll do in PR is not your typical five paragraph essay that you dreaded so much back in high school. This writing is fun, quick and interesting. You’ll almost never write the same thing twice and there are countless ways to go about portraying your message.

If my PR classes did only one thing for me, it was help me discover and build my writing abilities. I was lucky enough to have teachers who were some of the most talented writers I’ve ever met. Having teachers who push you and who know what it takes to be a good writer truly bring out the best in anyone. Before I started my PR courses, I had no idea how much fun writing could be. I guarantee at times you’ll want to throw your computer across the room, and you’ll definitely curse your teachers’ names more than a few times. But I can also promise you this. In the end, it will all be worth it.

Speaking from personal experiences, poor writing can be very, very frustrating. It might even cost you that dream position you’ve always wanted. In PR you’ll be lucky enough to work with other people who understand the importance of good writing. You won’t be the only one who got mad at your professors for taking 10 points off for one grammatical mistake. We’ve all had to deal with it. The fact of the matter is, it works. You become more cautious with your writing, and when your four years are over you can look back to the beginning and see just how much you’ve improved. The difference will be remarkable, trust me.

My final plea to you is this. If writing is the part of PR that is scaring you off, suck it up. Give it at least one year. I think you’ll come to realize it isn’t that bad, and in the end you’ll be happy you stuck with it. If you’re still not convinced, think about this: I get paid to write. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

PR professionals are some of the friendliest, most passionate individuals you will ever meet in your life. If you let something as simple as writing keep you away from that, you’re going to miss out on a great opportunity to work with some brilliant people. You don’t want to pass that up, do you?

Bonus: Writing can also be a great stress reliever or an awesome way to clear your mind. Keeping a blog (or journal) is a great way to express yourself and share your thoughts with others. It will also show off your writing abilities to potential employers.

Make Your Own Luck

19 Oct

If there was a saying to describe the last few years of my life, this would be it. As I started to progress through my college career, it became more and more clear that I was going to have to do just that. Make my own luck. This idea can fit into any aspect of your life, whether it’s success in school, success with girls (or guys), or what I want to talk about, success in your job search.

I’m a strong believer in the idea that, if you want a job bad enough, you’ll get a job. It’s all a matter of how hard you’re willing to try. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that finding a job is no easy task. Not right now, anyway. But that’s exactly what making your own luck is about. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. If it was, would it be nearly as exciting? I want to take this opportunity to share a few tips from my own experience to help others have a successful job search.

Get Active Early

I didn’t do anything extra during my freshman year of college, and it took me a while to realize how big of a mistake that was. No matter what you decide to study, there will most likely be an organization that will help you learn and grow. These organizations give students the opportunity to make new friends, gain leadership experience and often supply opportunities to network with professionals in the industry. Take advantage of everything these groups have to offer. It could potentially change your life.

Network, Network, Network

Networking is, in most people’s opinion, the number one way to land your first job. You can graduate with a 4.0 GPA, have a million extra-curricular activities and know everything about everything, but that still might not be enough. With all the competition for jobs, having connections is the best way to get recognized.

Practice your 30 second “elevator” speech and use it. For some people, it’s not as easy to hold a conversation with a random person. I like to say my biggest regret during my time in PRSSA was never attending national conference, and a big part of that was missing the networking opportunities. The more you take advantage of those opportunities and talk to people, the better you’ll get at it. I promise you won’t regret it.

Don’t be Afraid to Reach Out

This is, without a doubt in my mind, the best thing I ever did for myself. I needed experience, and I missed out on a lot of opportunities by studying abroad deep in to the summer after my junior year. I knew that it was critical to get some real world experience, so I decided to put myself out there. I did some research and found public relations agencies near my hometown. I started reaching out to these places by phone and e-mail. The result was exactly what I had hoped for.

I received responses from a number of places, and found a business that allowed me to gain experience, while also going to school full time. It also provided me with a learning experience that school can’t hold a candle to. I was able to take everything I learned from my internship, and use it to land a job doing something I enjoy.

Don’t Limit Yourself

The way the job market is right now, limiting yourself will destroy your chances to land a job. While you’re in school, don’t limit yourself to only internships that will pay you. So many internships are unpaid now, and limiting yourself to only paid opportunities means you might miss out on some of the best opportunities.

When you’re done with school and start looking for a job, don’t expect to land your dream job off the bat. For some people, that happens. And to them I tip my hat. The people who get those jobs deserve them, and probably worked very hard to get there. Then there are people like me. I found a job that was slightly related to what I wanted to do, so I applied for it. In my new role as Marketing Manager, I’ve taken on dozens of tasks I’ve never done before, and now know I want to focus my efforts on a new, specific area, SEO. That’s something I had never even considered while I was in school, and I never would have discovered it if I had limited myself.

Obviously this isn’t an exact science. No two people are the same, and neither are their job search experiences. Maybe these things will work for you, or maybe they won’t. Just remember these four words: Make Your Own Luck.

B2B is the Life for Me

11 Sep

Update: I’m going to implement my B2B blog into this one. I want to be able to post things about B2B marketing, but I also want to post about general things, so I’m combining them into one blog for convenience sake. Some of you may have read this already. If not, enjoy.

Last week I started my first “real job” as the marketing manager at EverLights (shameless backlinking). For those who don’t know, we’re a recycling company specializing in recycling light bulbs, ballasts, batteries, electronic waste and hazardous waste. It may not sound exciting to you, but the challenge of growing the online presence of a small company is what gets me up in the morning. Now that two weeks have gone by, I have a better idea of what I’ll actually be doing, and I want to share that with you. I have three major reasons for publishing this blog:

The first is to share my experiences and work life with anyone who might be interested in knowing what a (social) B2B marketer does on a regular basis. Also because I know how much my family liked reading my other blog, and I aim to please.

My second, and most important reason, is to help those who begin a career in B2B or social marketing after me. I’ve been doing a lot of research since I embarked on my journey here. Research about social media best practices, how to improve SEO and any other B2B marketing tactics you could possibly think of. The problem is, there are times I can’t find a good source to help me with a given topic. That’s where I come in. I’m going to post about anything and everything I do here. I’ll tell you what works, what doesn’t and what I’m still working on.

I said there were three reasons, right? The third and final reason is to benefit my own learning and creativity. I have a learning style some of you may relate to, and others may not. I can do something a million times, but as soon as I start to discuss it or write about it, my ideas start flowing. I discover mistakes I made, realize things I could do better, and I immediately start thinking of ways to improve my work. The best ideas I’ve ever had have come when I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep. I’m essentially telling myself what I did that day, and my mind starts going crazy with ideas. I’m going to start sleeping with a pad of paper next to me soon.

If you continue to follow this blog, you’ll get to see my creative process in action, while also learning a thing or two about what it takes to be a success (hopefully) in the B2B marketing scene.

– Dan

Dear College

2 May

Dear College,

Thank you.

Thank you for the wealth of knowledge you’ve given me, not only about communication, but about life. I was just an immature 18 year old when we first met. Now, I’m a completely different person. I grew both academically and personally, and I couldn’t have done it without you.

Thank you for the opportunity to see other parts of the world. It’s not every day a person gets the chance to travel and save money doing it. I experienced things I never could have imagined, and made some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had doing so. It’s all because of you.

Thank you for providing me with the most amazing friends a man could ask for. Over the last four years I’ve met some incredible people. Sure, I probably won’t keep in touch with all of them, but they all have a special place in my heart. The friends I will talk to forever mean more to me than words can say. I love them all. You’re the reason I met these unbelievable people.

Finally, thank you for teaching me how to appreciate everything life throws in my direction. Some things are more enjoyable than others, but they all showed me who I was. If nothing else, that’s what college does. They say you can be anything you want to be, and college helped me figure out what that is. I want to be the best, and you helped point me in that direction.

These last four years have been nothing less than amazing, and I will miss everything about my time here. So thank you, college. People aren’t lying when they say you’re the best four years of a person’s life.

Love,

Dan Kehoe

Another Wonderful Trip Around The Sun

26 Apr

Dear Readers,

I used to be of the mindset that birthdays aren’t a big deal. I never wanted much for my birthday, I don’t like when people sing the happy birthday song, and I don’t expect much as far as gifts go. I’d be perfectly happy buying drinks for people who come out and celebrate with me. I simply appreciate the fact that I have people who care enough about me to come out, celebrate, and share a few laughs. This year, however, I feel completely different.

Birthdays are a big deal. I don’t think of it as a day for other people to celebrate me, but as a way for me to celebrate me. I made it through another year. That’s the most wonderful, exciting news a person can receive.  It’s kind of like, “Hey, Dan. Guess what? You get to keep on living.” Isn’t that awesome? People take life for granted way too often. Things can end in the blink of an eye, so keep living and appreciate the fact that you woke up today.

This year was full of ups and downs. I made new friends, grew apart from others, and continued to grow the friendships I already had. The people that fall into these categories all played a huge role in giving me the greatest year of my short life. Between my time in Korea (which does fall into this year), and my final year at ISU, I couldn’t have asked for any more fun and excitement than I had. Graduation is going to be a harsh reality, but I’ve come to terms with it… I think.

If you had asked me 15 years ago what I’d be doing when I turned 22, I probably would have had no idea and said something along the lines of “woah, that’s old.” And to some people, 22 is old. Not to me. I’ve never felt better. Yes it’s time to grow up, get a job, and start living my adult life. But who’s to say I can’t still have fun and act like a kid while doing it? I’m not going to settle for anything less than what makes me the happiest, and I suggest you do the same. Everyone can be, and deserves to be, happy.

This pretty much describes how I feel currently:

Love Always,

DJ Kehoe

A Different Kind of March Madness

15 Mar

Now that I have no cable in my apartment, and school work is not consuming my life, I have a little time to write. I know this will please some more than others (I’m talking to you, Cunningham family). I want to write about my own “March Madness.” It’s something that a lot of my peers can relate to: the job hunt. I call it “March Madness” because this is crunch time for most college students on the job hunt.

Even though I haven’t landed my first job yet, I still want to share how I deal with all the hardships that come with applying for jobs, i.e., bad interviews, good interviews that don’t end like you had hoped, and not even being contacted by a company you’re really hoping to hear back from.

The most important thing is staying positive. Having a negative attitude can make applying for jobs more stressful than it already is. I hear a lot of people say “I know I’m not going to find a job right out of school.” And with that attitude, you’re right. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect someone else to take a chance on you? I know the job market isn’t the best right now, but the only thing that has kept me going is confidence. I know I have the tools to be an amazing employee for any company that wants to take a chance on me. The hardest part is proving that to the people who do the hiring. That’s where persistence comes in.

Sometimes I think I might be a little TOO persistent. In this case, however, I like to believe I’m being more proactive than overly persistent. Getting your foot in the door is what really matters. Maybe your first job won’t be what you really want to do, but it will get you the experience you need and point you in the right direction. I haven’t set any limitations on what I’ll do for my first job or where I’ll do it, as long as it deals with my field.

That leads me to my final point, be willing to relocate. I know that’s easier said than done for a lot of people. Not everyone has the ability to up and leave their friends and family behind, but if you are the type of person who can, don’t let those things stop you. Your friends and family will always be there for you, but a job opportunity might not come around as often. A lot of jobs I’ve applied for have been in other states. When I think about it, if I limited myself to places close to home, I wouldn’t have very many options. By branching out and contacting companies in other cities, I’ve given myself a better chance at landing that first job.

So keep your head up, have confidence in yourself and don’t limit yourself. Everyone is capable of amazing things, you just have to believe that you are.

Best of luck,

Dan

Feeding My Hunger

7 Dec

As I sit her eating rice cakes with peanut butter on them, I start to feel the urge to write again. So I am now feeding my hunger in two ways, my hunger to write, and the hunger that my stomach is telling me about.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted on here, so I want to take this opportunity to share something that has been stuck in my head for a few days now. The line “It takes some good to make it hurt. It takes some bad for satisfaction,” is from the song “Life Is Wonderful” by Jason Mraz. I’m not a particularly huge fan of this song, but every time I hear those words I can’t help but think of my favorite poem, “These Things I Wish For You,” by Lee Pitts. I would like to share this poem with all of you. Every time I read this I get chills and think about all the things that I’ve experienced in life. It talks about the life experiences that are necessary in order to become the best possible person you can be. Here you go:

By Lee Pitts

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.

For my grandchildren, I’d like better. I’d really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen. It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in. I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it’s all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he’s scared, I hope you let him. When you want to see a movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days, when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don’t ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won’t be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I don’t care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don’t like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle. May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays. I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it’s the only way to appreciate life.

Written with a pen. Sealed with a kiss. I’m here for you. And if I die before you do, I’ll go to heaven and wait for you.
These past few months have seen some ups and downs for me. Whenever I start to feel down, I look at the piece of paper hanging right inside my doorway in my bedroom that has this poem on it. I read it and it reminds me that all the bad things that happen will eventually turn into good things. It’s these experiences we have that mold who we are as people. Looking back on my life, there are a few events I would probably change, but for the most part, I don’t regret the things that have happened. Without these experiences, whether good or bad, I would not be the person I am today.

I hope you all read this poem and think about what it means to you.  After reading it ask yourself, “would I do anything differently”?

I plan to make these posts a regular thing again. I miss writing freely. Studying public relations these last three and a half years has made me realize how much I love to write.

No regrets,

Dan