Don’t Believe What They’re Telling You About The New Facebook Messenger Platform

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Last Wednesday Facebook launched what it is calling “Messenger Platform” at F8, the annual Facebook developer conference.

The ‘platform’ is a natural next step after breaking off Facebook Messenger from Facebook.  As noted by some, Facebook will keep WhatsApp for its signature pure, clean and lean messaging, while building up Messenger into a messaging mammoth, with endless possibilities that may already make your head spin.

Think video, audio and images. Think a world of search, information and online transaction from within the app.

Some say this platform may become bloated. Perhaps.  But what it isn’t is a new platform.

While many bloggers have mischaracterized the platform as a new app universe it is not. There is no app store. And apps cannot run from within the Messenger.

The platform, in Facebook’s own words “enables developers to easily build apps that integrate with Messenger.” The integration is cute and helpful but rather superficial. It allows people to switch in and out of the Messenger-compliant iOS app and Messenger. It allows for easier content sharing.

Most importantly, it provides “developers with growth and reengagement opportunities.” If you have a Messenger-compliant app in the App Store, your FB friends will appear within the app. And if you send a message through an app to a friend without it, he or she can easily click “install,” go to the App Store and install it.

The bottom line for app developers is better user acquisition for these apps. The pool of 600 million Messenger users is quite attractive for app developers who are looking for any way to stand out and get in front of new users.

It’s true that Messenger-compliant apps already installed appear from within Messenger. But that doesn’t make them Messenger apps. They are still iOS apps.

Conceptually, Facebook wants you to think of this new wonderful world as a platform. It already may be functioning as one.

But technologically, an API and easy integration doesn’t make an app – even with 600 million users — into a platform. It makes it into a much more versatile, powerful, and fun app. And that may be big enough news, without the bells and whistles.

Posted in Blog

How Social Media Can Help Your Career Search

blog imageWhether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or another lesser known entity, almost everyone is on social media now. But while most people use social media for entertainment and maintaining connections, it can be used for much more. With the right approach, social media can help promote your personal brand and launch your career in ways you didn’t think possible.

Obviously social media is useful in connecting with others and while it’s great for that purpose, there is also a downside to being constantly connected in such a public way. Once you post something on any social media site, there is a chance that someone, somewhere may not like what you said. And what if that person just happens to be a possible future employer?  It’s not only individuals on social media now—it’s businesses, too.

It is common (and smart) for business to use social media in order to promote their products and services as well as to create brand loyalty through fostering relationships with their customers and business leads. When using social media, business can also post job openings at their company and look for potential new employees. Therefore it is important to be aware of the possible negative outcomes of using social media when looking for a job. However, instead of avoiding social media in fear of these consequences, you should use social media in a positive way in order to promote your personal brand.

Many people believe the smart thing to do is to delete all social media accounts and posts when beginning the job search. Because then no one will be able to find you and things you’ve written before, right? Wrong. Once something is posted, it is out there for good. Even if you delete it, it’s not always taken out of cyber space and destroyed; yes, it may be slightly more difficult to find, but it’s not unfindable. The smart thing to do is to use social media to establish yourself, your experiences, and your potential and show possible employers want an asset you would be to their company.

Obviously, inappropriate posts can cost you a job you already have or one you are applying for. If you stick to the guidelines below, the likelihood of that occurring will be lessened. Instead of using social media in a risky way, you’ll be using it in a way that will make you attractive to employers.

1. Be professional and appropriate

    It is important to not post anything you wouldn’t talk about in a professional environment or say during an interview. Companies will peruse your social media accounts to see if you will be a good fit with their company and their company’s beliefs. If you’d feel uncomfortable discussing a topic with the CEO of a company you want to work for, you should refrain from posting about it on your social media accounts.

2. Share industry related content

    You should often share news that relates to your industry. It doesn’t have to be original content; if you see an article that you find interesting and relatable, share it. This will get you noticed by a broader audience and show that you are interested in and stay up-to-date on recent developments.  Posting things that would spark interesting and beneficial conversations between you and your (possible) coworkers will not only show that your interests align with that of the company, but also that you would fit in well in the environment.

3. Share original content

    If you do have original content, such as a blog, portfolio or personal website that showcases industry relevant work, social media is the perfect outlet to distribute it. Not only will you be able to share your work with a broader audience but having this content will show your expertise and experience. This helps to establish yourself in the industry and show employers how you will be an asset to them.

4. Interact often

    Another way to expand your reach is by interacting with your followers and those who you follow; respond to posts they make, share their posts, or direct users to their accounts. This will show your interest and also your ability to work well with others.

5. Be mindful when sharing personal opinions

    You can use social media to express your opinions and beliefs, and in doing so you can raise awareness for beliefs, fundraisers, or events that may otherwise not get much notice. This is a great thing, however it is important to share these personal opinions and express ideas in a professional way and acknowledge that you are open to other ideas. This will help you to avoid offending people and show that you are accepting of those who may have different beliefs.

6. Think of social media as a job search engine

     You can search for jobs via keywords and then connect to possible employers through these searches. This will also broaden the range of  companies you even knew existed, which will give you a much greater chance of finding a job perfect for you. You can also see what others in your field are doing for work. Instead of only looking for specific job title openings, you can look to see what others with similar education, experience and expectations are doing in the industry. You might find a completely unexpected position that fits you better than you could have expected.

If you act appropriately, stay active in your industry’s community, and connect with others who are in your field you will not only show employers what an asset you would be to them, but also form connections that will help to further your career in the future.

Posted in Blog

New Year’s Resolutions for the Professional

calendar-478033_640New Year’s Resolutions – For many this means saying no to dessert, shedding some pounds and making a promise to participate in some type of self-improvement or acts of kindness.  Often these resolutions are not accomplished and you are left with frustration that gets pushed off until next year.

All New Year’s Resolutions do not have to revolve around smiling at strangers or preparing your body for beach season – they can be applied to your professional life, believe it or not.  As we hold onto every last moment of the holiday season we have to take a deep breath and gear up for a productive and successful new year at work.  Try making these work friendly resolutions that you can actually accomplish without hitting the gym or putting on a happy face – your colleagues and or managers will notice.

  1. Stay Engaged- In such a connected world you are never fully “off” from work. While it is valuable to disconnect from work in order to avoid burn out, it is in your best interest to take a few minutes each day to browse what is occurring in your occupation’s industry. It is easy to turn on the TV, flip through a newspaper or scroll through a twitter feed. It is better to return to the office “in the know” rather than scrambling to keep up.
  1. Reach out to old contacts- Whether you are new or old to the working world it is good to stay in touch with old contacts, whether it is an old professor, family members,  or prior colleagues. You never know what conversations will take place – they may even provide a good idea that you can mention at work.  Maintaining relationships can not only help you build your professional reputation, but they can provide a sense of motivation and or support.
  1. Organize –The idea of cleaning your desk and files may seem daunting.  It is important to maintain your work area by keeping it clean and organized – you never know who is going to show up in your office and when you need to find that one specific document. Take a Friday afternoon and bring 2014 work to a close, allocate labeled folders or drawers for previous assignments and documents.  You can walk away with a clean desk and a sense of accomplishment seeing all of the work that has been completed.
  1. Make Goals – clear your mind of last year’s mistakes and stressful projects and push yourself full force this year.  Take some time to set some tangibles and realistic goals for yourself, whether is it settling a case, selling more, or acquiring new clients. You can garner better results with specific goals in mind.

Before leaping into the New Year take a minute to think about the accomplishments you have achieved in the past year such as promotions or raises – this should be your motivation for the upcoming year. 2015 should be a year of learning, success, and prosperity. Take each day for what it is and learn to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Posted in Blog

How Young Professionals Can Get Promoted… Fast

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By Kim Cox

With the current job market, it’s difficult for young professionals to prove themselves in the workplace, let alone find advancement within their companies. Those who are fortunate enough to be employed should appreciate the opportunity and put in the work necessary to turn their first job into a springboard for their career.

Here are some of the tactics that any young professional can use to get ahead in their career:

  1. Put in extra hours – When you’re young, working even a few nights and weekends sounds like the end of the world, but it is an excellent investment in your future. No matter what your social calendar looks like, everyone has down time. Putting in a few minutes here or there shows dedication, increases productivity, and can help you climb out of your starting salary and really enjoy the nights when you don’t have work.
  2. Be proactive – Managers take notice to the employees that go out of their way to take on new projects and help with efforts they may not be directly involved with. Helping hands are appreciated and bring attention to an employee’s willingness to work, as well as their commitment to the business – two hugely important qualities that stand out when it comes time for employee reviews.
  3. Be a sponge – Listen to everyone: managers, C-level executives, even those who are at your level. You will learn so much from those around you—both right and wrong ways to do things. The more you make yourself open to the experiences of others, the better off you will be when you are faced with the same challenges.
  4. Help those around you – It’s not necessary to treat work as a cutthroat environment. In fact, helping your colleagues, especially those at your level, shows your ability to manage and teach. It will also help you to better understand the task at hand, making you a more capable and valuable employee.
  5. Live/Love what you do – You don’t have to live to work to enjoy your career and make it part of your personal life. Whatever industry you’re a part of, make learning about it an everyday task. Keep Google alerts, monitor the news, and dive into the job headfirst. The knowledge you gain and interest you show will reinforce any thoughts of promotion in your boss’s mind.

There are many tactics to help get ahead of the game early on in your career. Whatever path you have chosen, just make sure you stand out, because in today’s competitive economy, there’s always someone looking to take your place.

(Image: Pascal)

Posted in Blog

Bigger Is Not Always Better in PR

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By Ariel Shore

Being raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I often spent time in Center City, Philadelphia exploring what the city has to offer – it was not too big or daunting so I quickly became acclimated with the ins and outs. I attended a small high school as well as a small university, which both provided a sense of comfort for myself and an extremely hands-on approach.

Being comfortable working and living in a small environment translated perfectly into my first job here at The Cline Group, which has small offices but a global presence. Even though we are small in size we deliver remarkable results that distinguish our clients from their competitors across the board.

Responsibilities: My days consist of leading client calls, drafting press releases, guiding Assistant Account Executives and Account Coordinators and reviewing any necessary materials, a majority of which I would not be handling at a larger firm – or a lot of hand holding would be involved.I have become confident in my work and decisions because I do not and cannot rely on several levels authority to approve or disapprove. We have to work diligently and take on assignments that may seem above our expertise but we are human – so we learn and we make mistakes.  I now have the ability to directly build relationships with top tier reporters and foster work relationships with our clients overseas and all over the world.

Culture: It is not every day that you have the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with your company’s CEO to discuss what needs to be improved and why, or to simply hold a non-work related conversation.  In most medium or large companies this process of change takes a long time and requires approvals, forms, and mediated conversations. Working in a small firm I have the privilege of discussing how things can be improved about what the team wants, when we want.  It also allows me to build greater trust with employees at all levels. I never worry about having to leave for a doctor’s appointment or to run a quick errand.  Our management believes that we all will get our work done.

People:  Being selective in the interview process is how we succeed as a small firm. We do not just hire to fill a position based on a resume – we invest the time to learn about our applicants to make sure they are a great cultural fit for our team.  It is better to hire the correct person even if it takes time because we all work so closely together on a daily basis.  As a small team, we are able to learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses.

When you are looking to switch professions or join a new company I would recommend giving the smaller companies a look. There is great opportunity for upward growth, reward, and learning. I am thankful to have begun my marketing and PR experience in an entirely hands-on small firm. Your skills and ability will not get lost in a sea of politics or people.

(Image: CloudProviderUSA)

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The First Step in Marketing is to Understand Your Audience: The Consumer

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By: DeeDee Rudenstein

Most leaders in the tech community are smart, innovative, think outside-the-box, and are not afraid of challenges – all qualities that entrepreneurs embody. They break barriers. Disrupt. And take society, in general, to the next level with innovation.

However, often tech entrepreneurs get caught up in the complexity of the technology and forget about what matters to the people buying their products (the consumers.) As a PR professional that has the privilege of counseling many tech start-up companies, there is one common thread that entrepreneurs lose track of — relating to their audience.

So many tech industry websites include language that is complex and confusing and leaves the visitor wondering what the company actually does. Press releases can be void of the consumer benefits, which doesn’t attract media attention or the attention of the target market. And many company executives talk the “company talk”—using buzz words that have evolved internally over the years—but nobody else understands that language. No one outside the company, that is.

So, how do you effectively connect to your audience? The first method is to step outside the company. As specialists in a given industry, people often speak to colleagues who understand the language but forget that outside the company a different language is spoken. To be effective at marketing to consumers, executives need to walk in their shoes, talk their talk, and fully understand them. Only then can a company communicate who they are and what they do, why a technology is relevant, and more importantly, how it will improve their life.

As stated in a recent CMO.com article, “without a definitive understanding of your customers, everyone in your company is essentially flying blind.” Effective marketing means getting into the mindset of the person you are trying to sell to. Each market is unique. It’s not enough to have a unique product. The benefits of the product need to be communicated to the target market for the product to sell. Great products sit on shelves. Great products with great marketing will sell.

Things to consider when examining an audience base:

  1. Understand Customer’s Needs: Understanding the pain point of the target audience and how the product/service can solve that problem. What is keeping  customers up at night? The company should think about why the potential consumer needs this product rather than thinking about the customer in terms of revenue.
  2. Communicate in the Customers’ Language: How doesthe customer speak? What publications do they read? Speak in the same language; they will relate to the product if one does.
  3. Understanding the Customers’s Customer: For B2B customers, the conversation goes one step further. While one may understand the customer but do they understand the customer’s customer? To market to a B2B company, one has to understand the audience and what drives that market. What are the needs of the customer’s customer?

Marketing is about understanding people by stepping outside of the company and into the mindset of the consumer— the person you want to buy the product.

(Image: Marco Bellucci)

Posted in Blog

Why Studying Abroad Will Benefit Your PR Career

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By Gabrielle Dratch

Leaving home to go to college for four years is challenging for some, so the thought of packing everything up again to live in another country for an entire semester may seem out of the question. On the other hand, some students think “semester off,” when they hear “study abroad” and do not think of all the long term benefits you gain by living in a foreign country.

Regardless of your opinion, studying abroad will provide you with a unique experience and help you to build a skill set that will be useful throughout your career. During my spring semester of my junior year, I had the privilege of studying abroad in Barcelona, below are some examples of what I learned during my stay:

1. Adaptability

The ability to easily adapt to new situations is an attractive quality for work candidates, especially in PR. In public relations the work you are doing often depends on what is going on in the news, and news can break in the blink of an eye. This means that in a minute your entire game plan can change and you’ll have to adapt quickly.

If you live in another country for a long period of time you must adapt to that country’s culture. The food you eat will be different, mannerisms will differ greatly; the overall way of life can cause a huge culture shock. For instance, while studying in Barcelona I had to accept the fact that If I wanted to go out for dinner, I would likely need to wait until around 8:00 PM at the earliest to do so.

2. Understanding and Tolerance

If you want to work in the public relations industry, you will need to interact with different cultures. Whether you have international clients or are working on international campaigns, you will need to understand and be respectful of cultures that are foreign to you.

While living in a different country you will realize that everything from facial expressions, to hand gestures, to eating habits, can differ greatly than that of what you are used to. If you are not sensitive to the various differences, misinterpretations can result in conflict. If you are able to understand different cultures, many new opportunities will open up for your PR career. You will be able to gauge how certain products will be received in certain cultures and understand what messages are the most important to deliver in order to make your campaign or product a success.

Experiencing new cultures will help you communicate better with people that you need to deal with on a daily basis. Working with clients and journalists from other cultures will come more naturally if you have experienced a culture outside of your own, and will help you understand why they are communicating in a particular way. Trying to understand why someone is acting a certain way, or speaking in a different tone than what you may think is appropriate for the situation can be frustrating, but if you have embraced other cultures you will learn to appreciate the differences.

3. Independence

It takes a confident and independent person to leave home for months to live in another country, and doing so will help you become more independent. You will not have your parents to rely on for help—it will be up to you to learn how to navigate the new country. Even the most simple of tasks like finding the best grocery store and learning how to use public transportation can be a challenge, especially in a country where English may not be the native language.

In life you need to be confident and independent to succeed, especially in your career. While it is always important to be able to work in a team, it is also important to be able to work independently. You cannot count on other people to constantly give you marching orders or to pick up your slack. You must have the confidence to believe in what you are doing and the independence to make important decisions on your own.

Of course there are many circumstances that could prohibit you from studying abroad, such as course load, money, and personal issues, but if you are able to take advantage of this once in a life time opportunity, I encourage you to do so. Remember to not take the experience for granted, immerse yourself in the culture and learn to appreciate your differences. Doing this will help you to become not only a more attractive candidate for companies, but also a more tolerant person overall.

Posted in Blog

Factors to Consider When Using Statistics

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“Humans only use 10% of their brains.”

This is a widely believed and oft quoted statistic, but science has proven it wrong. So why do we quote it? We love statistics because they provide “proof” of what we believe to be true. The problem, however, is that statistics can be overwhelming, inaccurate, or simply misreported. Below are 4 factors to think about before you incorporate statistics into your content.

  1. Where to Find Statistics 
  2. The first step in developing content that uses statistics is finding statistics that are suitable for your topic. Statistics can come from thousands of sources, but here are just a few great resources to help you find them:

    • Census.gov – census.gov hosts the publicly browsable data of all US censuses. Records, or facsimiles, starting with the first census in 1790, can be found at census.gov.
    • DataMarket – DataMarket is an Icelandic company that specializes in providing data to the public in visual form
    • Google- it seems simple, but Google is one of the easiest, fastest way to find statistics on the web. Google Public Data offers recent research on a variety of topics, as well.
    • Gallup – Gallup is one of many US-centric providers of public opinion polls, often in the political field
    • Nielson – The ubiquitous provider of entertainment stats
    • Statista – It is one of the largest collections of data in the world
    • Industry websites – Often individual industries have their own organizations that provide data to the public as well as members
    • Internal – if you’re doing research on your own industry check with your colleagues to see what data they’ve collected
  3. How to Tell if a Statistic is Still Relevant 
  4. A second factor you must consider when browsing statistics? Recency. The amount of time a statistics remains accurate varies by industry. For instance, research on users of social media changes every few months, whereas statistics about the makeup of the US population shift more slowly. Recency can also be influenced by the purpose of your writing. For overviews and general understanding on a topic the most recent statistics may not be necessary. For academic papers, research going into major spending decisions, or research on small, less well-researched groups, more recent statistics are necessary.

  5. How to Tell if You’re Using the Right Number of Statistics 
  6. Another question that comes with using statistical data is: how much is too much? How many statistics should you use in a piece of content? That depends on the goal of your content and your audience.

    • If you’re writing a thesis or a dissertation statistical analysis is almost always a must. This audience expects statistics to be included, and most likely has some experience with the topic. This decrease the chances that they will be bogged down and confused by a large number of statistics.
    • Are you developing content for the general public? Most newspapers are written at a 5th grade reading level. Most 5th graders are not able to comprehend overly complicated statistics. If there are too many statistics your audience may spend more energy trying to understand the statistics rather than understanding the overall concept of your content.
    • Use statistics to enhance your content, not overwhelm it.
    • Remember, you don’t want your users to get bogged down in statistics. It’s best to include the important, surprising, and most relevant statistics. You can always provide further reading for those interested in learning more about the topic.
  7. How to Represent Statistics Accurately
  8. Statistics are an amazing tool, but the choice of what to do with these statistics? Up to humans. Humans who make mistakes, serve their own agendas, or maybe aren’t familiar with how statistics work. This can lead to presentations of statistics that are 1) just plain wrong or 2) misrepresented.

    Ways that data can mislead:

    • Using incomplete data – while it’s not illegal to only report part of a statistic, it is certainly frowned upon. Using incomplete data means that your viewer doesn’t get the whole story. This happens when two sides believe they are right (think politics) so each side presents the part of a statistic that makes them look best.
    • Missing or skewed baseline (the axes of the graph) – A missing baseline means the audience is reading a graph with no context and a skewed axis can emphasize change, when in fact it was only minor.

    graph

    In the graph above the entire x (vertical) axis only runs from 8% to 10%, meaning that even small changes will seem larger because of the small differences. Also, the points are plotted incorrectly (notice that the 8.8% in March is actually lower than the 8.6% in November). While all of the data is presented, if your audience is consuming data that has been misrepresented.

    • Using the wrong types of graphs to present statistics – Certain types of graphs are created to present certain types of statistics. For instance, pie charts are used to present data whose sum is 100%. Using a pie chart for values that don’t equal 100% is misleading because the public assumes that these values are represented out of 100, or a whole.
    • Using mixed-matched data – Using data from different sources can be difficult because they are not always reported in the same ways. If one statistic reports income in 1,000 dollar increments and another reports in in million dollar increments they cannot be directly compared without converting one set of data. This can also happen when comparing data across countries or two industries. Different industries have different reporting practices (such as level of accuracy). For instance, some statistics are reported with a 5% margin of error, while others are reported with a 1% margin of error.

Statistics, and metrics in general, are very important across all industries. However, not all statistics are presented equally. When it comes to incorporating statistics into your content ask yourself 1) Do I need this? 2) Is my source trustworthy? 3) Is it presented clearly and accurately? When in doubt ask someone who is unfamiliar with the content to read it and see if they can accurately tell you what the statistics are representing.

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