Create a Marketing Strategy

Every Professional is a Product

People buy items from companies they know and trust, name brands whose reputation sets them apart. A working professional is really no different from these brand name items, because a self employed individual is really a product, too. In the business of work from home, a name equals a reputation. Create a marketing strategy to give both positive word of mouth.

Marketing

Marketing is about getting the word out there, building up a brand name and delivering on promises and commitments. Even when it comes to marketing people, this basic formula doesn’t change. Create a marketing strategy that will accomplish these goals, but make sure to always deliver on every commitment. Even the best marketing strategy in the world won’t help when the reputation doesn’t back it up.

Essential Marketing Tools

For the self employed professional, the greatest marketing tool is the portfolio. Many people who work from home have both a physical and online portfolio which makes it easy to showcase examples of work. Online portfolios are easy to access and can be easily updated, but even paper-rich portfolios can be easy with a little regular maintenance and frequent updates. It’s a good strategy to include only high-quality work. After all, marketing is about making products and people look good. By the same token, be sure to keep resumes and references updated. Most employers ask to see resumes and samples of work. With a winning portfolio and an updated resume, a self employed professional has all the right marketing tools close at hand to get that job.

Every Professional Is a Product

Don’t forget, a self employed professional is really a sort of brand name. Reputation is key to establishing good credentials, because even the best marketing in the world won’t overcome bad word of mouth. Meet deadlines, answer e-mails and always, always follow through. Be sure to respond to employers even when getting turned down for a job, because a simple thank-you can go a long way toward putting a professional in good standing the next time a position becomes available. A complete marketing strategy includes a strong follow through – delivering to employers and clients as promised.

Strategy

The best marketing strategy of all is simply to have confidence. Apply for jobs even if attaining them seems unlikely. Continue working on the portfolio and the resume, keep building up a brand name and don’t give up. That’s the most beneficial marketing strategy of all.

How to Create a Good Learning Environment

Creating a Classroom Space to Meet Learners’ Needs

A learning environment that is conducive to learning takes into consideration the comfort of all learners. Good lighting, seating, room temperature, acoustics and visual aids will ensure that participants are comfortable and engaged.

Good Lighting for Learning

Good lighting can not only improve the ambiance of a space but promote learning by improving visibility and the energy level within the room. Lighting can be altered by choosing when to have the full compliment of lights turned on, when to use just natural light (if the room has windows) and creating a warm reading space with the addition of floor or table lamps or creating a seated task area with task lighting.

Arranging Seating to Allow for Active Learning

Training room layout or the seating arrangement is one factor that can be changed in most classrooms. Use the opportunity to create a space that is conducive to the activities planned such as a horseshoe arrangement for discussions, pods for small group activities and theatre style for large participant numbers where demonstrations or lectures are the main delivery style. Make sure that the room is large enough for the number of participants; cramped rooms can distract learners.

Comfortable Room Temperature Keeps Learners Engaged

Room temperature can influence attention spans and learning. It is important to check the room temperature and close blinds, open windows, use space heaters etc. if necessary. Basic comfort is needed if learners are to retain the information they are learning.

Test Room Acoustics to See if Sound Equipment is Necessary

If the room is large and the participant numbers is in excess of 50 people, a microphone and speakers may be necessary in order for the presenters or instructors voice to carry to the back of the room. Bad acoustics can be highly frustrating for learners who are intent on hearing the message. Good conference phone equipment is also important if learners are calling in to the session. Speakers may also be required if audio presentations such as video clips are shown.

Visual Aids Need to be Seen by All Learners

Visual aids can have a huge positive impact on learners’ ability to understand key concepts. However, if visual aids are poorly designed and are not visible to all learners within the classroom, they loose their impact. Choose font sizes of no less than 20 in PowerPoint presentations and choose backgrounds that are light with dark coloured font.

Comfortable learners are engaged learners and so it is important for instructors to consider the elements that they can control to create a classroom environment that is conducive to learning.

Write an Effective Cover Letter

Attach a Letter to the Resume to Highlight Skills

A cover letter is a one page document that is included with a resume when applying to potential jobs. The cover letter highlights skills and accomplishments as they coincide specifically with the duties and qualifications mentioned in the job announcement. The letter should cover why the applicant is best for the job with examples of past performance in previous jobs.

Personalize the Letter

Rather than a generic greeting of “To Whom It May Concern”, conduct a little detective work to discover who the letter should be sent to. This may be the hiring manager or the director of human resources. Use networking skills to find out the person’s name so the cover letter can be more personalized. When addressing the letter, do not use first names in the greeting.

In the opening paragraph of the cover letter, let the hiring manager know how the position within the company was found. Specify the newspaper, online website or networking contact. If the position was learned of through a mutual contact, this is the time to name drop. Indicate the name of the position or the reference number for the job within the company.

Relate Skills to the Qualifications

In the second paragraph of the cover letter, detail skills and achievements as they relate to the qualifications and duties that were listed in the job announcement. Be specific when listing skills by providing examples. Do not simply reiterate what is on the resume. Use examples that are not listed on the resume or further expand on them within the cover letter.

Instead of stating “Implemented a customer service training program that improved customer service..”, rework to be specific by stating “Developed a six week customer service training program that resulted in a 30% increase in customer satisfaction within three months.”

State the Intent to Follow-Up

In the closing paragraph, state how follow-up with the hiring manager will occur. Give a timeline of when a phone call will be made or an email will be sent to set up an appointment to learn more about the position or for an interview. End the letter with a professional closing such as “Sincerely” followed by a signature and typed name.

Proofread the cover letter for spelling and grammatical errors before sending it with a resume. If possible, have another person also proofread it to ensure it reads well and is error free. Print the cover letter and resume on a white or beige linen paper for delivery to the company.

A well-written cover letter that showcases abilities in relation to the advertised position can move the resume to the top of the stack. Highlight strengths and mark a calendar to follow up with the manager in a few days.

Writing a Strong Job Resume

Tips for Highlighting Credentials for Career Advancement

Although workers should be through in describing their qualifications to prospective employers, a job resume should be succinct. Students and recent graduates should try to keep their job resumes under one page. Experienced workers or people changing career paths can extend their job resumes to two or three pages.

Career Objective

Although it is optional, many employers like to see a career objective at the top of a job resume. A career objective is a three to four sentence description of the type of position the worker is seeking, along with a brief overview of the employee’s qualifications and credentials. Objective statements are particularly effective for persons changing careers and reentering the workforce. Those who have jumped between jobs frequently may benefit from a career objective as well, as it shows that they have put thought into their job search.

Resume Body

A job resume should provide an accurate, thorough overview of the prospective employee’s career and educational history. The most common way of presenting information on a job resume is in a reverse chronological format, beginning with the applicant’s education and following up with a listing of their work history. This chronological listing makes it easy for employers to see how the employee’s career has progressed.

A good job resume should not leave any periods of work history unaccounted for. If a worker has been unemployed for long periods of time, she should briefly describe what she did during this time in her resume. If possible, the worker should fill the gaps by discussing volunteer work, travel or personal projects that relate to the job to which she is applying. Workers should not, however, include any information on your resume that indicates their age, gender, marital status or religion.

Workplace Skills

Workers should create separate sections on their job resumes to highlight the skills and experiences that do not fit elsewhere in the document. For example, workers with extensive computer experience should create a separate section on their job resume to discuss the operating systems, programming languages and software with which they are familiar. They should highlight these skills using bulleted lists or tables to make the information easy for employers to scan.

Finishing Touches

Good job resumes should be written in formal English. The final document should contain no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors and read smoothly. If the prospective employee is sending the resume by mail or is hand-delivering it, the resume should be printed in black ink on a cotton-based stock. All resumes, whether printed on paper or posted online, should be printed in an easily readable serif or sans serif font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri or Cambria.

Top Tips on How to Write a Professional Email

Hints and Advice on Email Etiquette in the Workplace

Email is fast becoming the primary means of communication; not just between individuals on a social level, but within businesses. A May 2009 report by The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, estimated that there were 1.4 billion email users in 2009, and that some 247 billion emails were sent each day in 2009.

Statistics on Email Usage

To gain an appreciation of just how important a medium of communication email is, it is beneficial to know some telling statistics (sourced from Email Marketing Reports):

  • If email was a country, it would – at 1.4 billion users – be the largest in the world.
  • One email is sent every 0.00000035 seconds.
  • By the time this sentence has been read, 20 million emails would have been sent around the world.
  • Every second, the world’s email users produce messages equivalent in size to over 16,000 copies of the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

An Introduction to Email Etiquette

Within business especially, whether sending an internal or external email, it is important that the message is constructed in a professional manner, to give the correct impression on those receiving it. Poorly worded or constructed emails can render an incorrect message, or give out the wrong tone – purely because due to its very nature, email does not convey facial signals, and therefore messages written with one intent can often be read as the opposite. Emails are also retained much longer than paper documents, so any negative impression given can be lasting and irreparable.

Good Email Etiquette

  • Do always read, then re-read an email before sending it, to check spelling, grammar and tone.
  • Do ensure that the content of the email is relevant to those to whom it is being sent.
  • Do have a relevant subject heading, to clearly indicate at a glance the important attributes of the email and its contents. However, avoid a lengthy subject heading.
  • Do ensure that a signature is appended to the email, so that those reading it can contact the sender if required.
  • Do, if an email is being forwarded, inform the correspondent that this is being carried out.
  • Do use emphasis in an email where appropriate, but refrain from over-emphasising. This will result in the email looking cluttered.
  • Do be polite in all emails.
  • Do scan any attachments for viruses before sending the email.
  • Do be concise, and avoid lengthy ramblings.

Bad Email Etiquette

  • Do not reply to a message when angry or frustrated, as this may be regrettable later.
  • Do not type in capitals; this is considered to be shouting.
  • Do not copy the entire business into an email if it is not specifically relevant to them all.
  • Do not send unsuitable attachments, as this could provoke complaints and disciplinary action.
  • Do not make personal remarks about the recipient or anyone else. This is extremely unprofessional.
  • Do not use emoticons, such as smiley faces.
  • Do not use email to discuss confidential information; it is not as secure as commonly perceived.

Email can be a valuable tool in business, if it is used correctly. Courtesy, respect and accuracy should be some of the common themes that run throughout every email sent, to avoid negative repercussions in the future.

How to Pitch Online Magazine Editors

In our “how to pitch” series that already includes broadcast and magazine editors, the next fraction of media outlets you need to know how to pitch is online magazine editors. Online magazines, generally the online version of print magazines, are a great short lead outlet to pitch if long lead just doesn’t work with the timing of your pitch. Also called the “dot coms”, these outlets are very much coveted and include Glamour.com, Oprah.com, Parents.com, etc. Here a few tricks for nailing that perfect online magazine placement

  • Still plan on at least a 2-3 month lead time. Online magazine editors schedule their editorial content ahead of time, unless it’s a blog on a magazine website which could be only a 2-3 week lead time.
  • Look at the site. Again, common sense, but you want to make sure you’re not pitching a website that doesn’t have unique editorial content. Some online magazine websites only republish articles that are found in print.
  • Don’t stick to your media list. Based on my experience, online magazines don’t list many of their editors on Cision. The biggest hurdle with online magazines is finding the most appropriate contact.
  • Research who’s contributing to the site. Since many online magazine editors aren’t listed on Cision, do your own research on the website and look at who’s writing the articles relevant to your client. Is it a magazine editor that contributes to online or a freelancer that doesn’t work at the magazine?
  • Find those freelancers. If you’re seeing articles written by outside contributors, type the persons name in Google and try to find his/her email address. Nothing wrong with a little stalking, plus freelancers are more receptive since they aren’t bombarded with pitches.
  • Reach out to find an email address. Still can’t find that email address for the writer who’d be perfect for your pitch? Email any contact you have at the outlet and ask if you could be connected to the writer you’re looking for. This has worked wonders for me. What’s the worst that can happen?
  • Reference the articles you saw. This is super important with sparking online magazine editors interest. Plus, it’s easy if you do your research. A simple opening in your pitch such as “I noticed you wrote an article on x, y, z.”
  • Keep it short. Similar to pitching magazines, you want to make sure you’re pitch is relevant and to the point. A long, drawn out pitch has just never worked for me.
  • Offer an interview. If you have a spokesperson on board last minute or an expert who could contribute to an article, online magazines are a great place to go since the lead time is much shorter than print.

What are some other tricks for pitching online magazine editors?

PR Girl Texting Don’ts

Whether we like it or not, texting is a huge part of our dating life. When swapping numbers, usually the first thing you encounter is a text. While texting can deepen a relationship, it can also ruin one, particularly for PR girls who tend to over analyze. Here are a few PR girl texting don’ts when it comes to dating.

  • Don’t try and make sarcastic jokes. They’re often misconstrued and awkward.
  • Don’t open up with anything that’s embarrassing.  It could be shown to others. Just as you wouldn’t reveal something private about a client, keep it to intimate conversation in person once the relationship deepens.
  • Don’t overtext. Huge mistake in the beginning of a relationship. You may have text chemistry, but it might end up lacking in person and you just wasted how much time going back and forth?
  • Don’t expect an immediate answer. While we’re used to urgency and immediate responses, the same doesn’t go for texts. The person your texting may have fallen asleep, took a call, who knows! Don’t over analyze.
  • Don’t get snarky. Ugh this happens all the time. “Why didn’t you text me back?” Don’t, don’t, don’t!
  • Don’t over confirm a date. We do this all the time at the office, “To confirm…” If plans are set, don’t confirm them. Trust that he still has the plans in mind, otherwise you’ll look needy and overexcited – turn-offs.
  • Don’t text him first. If he wants to see or talk to you he will. No if, ands or buts.
  • Don’t text during a date. Your co-workers will find out about your date in the office tomorrow.
  • Don’t overthink it. Let your personality show. Don’t reread your texts a million times like we do client notes before sending. Don’t reread the conversation thinking to yourself, “Should I have said that?” Just let it be.

What are some other texting don’ts?

From Rice to Riches

Last night I took a rare but delightful trip down to Chinatown. Each time I’m in the area I feel like I’ve stepped into a different city with new adventures and restaurants to try. On the way to Chinatown, my cousin and I passed by Rice to Riches, a rice pudding dessert shop on Spring between Mott and Mulberry  that I’d been dying to try since seeing it in one of my favorite movies Hitch.

As a huge fan of rice pudding, Rice to Riches has 24 different flavors to try (yes, 24!) and I had no idea where to start. The server noted that almond was her favorite so I gladly took her suggestion and honestly couldn’t imagine any of the other puddings tasting much better. It tasted like sweet heaven in a small bowl topped with buttery graham cracker on top. Delicious.

The downside, the shop itself actually makes you feel guilty for enjoying the delicious treat! The door warns you “No Skinny Bitches” and all of the signs inside hint towards the fact that this snack is not a healthy one.

But for me, it was worth every calorie.  Have you tried Rice to Riches?

The Cost of NYC Living

We receive a lot of questions on a daily basis about how to get started in New York City.  How do you find an apartment? Where do you live? How can you survive on a PR girl salary?

The truth is this – after living in Manhattan for over a decade between the two of us, we’re still trying to figure it out!  What both of us know is that there are definitely some trade-offs to living in Manhattan vs any other US city.  Even in pure cost of living, there are a few items you should be prepared for.  Think you can stand the below hikes in price? Better start saving your pennies – you’re an NYC girl at heart.

The cost of your average cup of coffee: $1.25; the cost of an NYC cup of coffee: $2.15

TRADE OFF: We drink our coffee in Central Park, with views of the Empire State Building, even at Tiffany’s.

The cost of your average beer at happy hour: $3.00; the cost of an NYC beer: $6.50

TRADE OFF: NYC happy hours are some of the best for networking when you’re young, not to mention developing relationships that will last years. And often times happy hour involves a roof deck or fireplace, which is hard to complain about.

The cost of getting yourself home by car: $25-$30 per tank of gas; The NYC taxi cost to get yourself home: $12 per ride

TRADE OFF: Taxis are an indulgence for sure, but extremely convenient when necessary (no parking problems, for one).  Zipping through Madison Avenue at night has an unbeatable feeling.

The cost of your average apartment rent: $450 – $700 per month; NYC apartment rent: $1,300 – $1,900

TRADE OFF: Minutes from the most exciting entertainment locations and delicious restaurants in the world. Located in the most successful city for jumping off your career.  Knowing if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Moving in NYC

I’ve mentioned it a couple times now, but I’m actually moving AGAIN this year to move in with my sister who just graduated from college.   While I’m kind of excited to have a roommate again, the process was not without blood, sweat and tears.   We had a few moments where I was convinced we would end up stuck in my sister’s sublet in the Bronx next to her university.

Moving in New York, whether it’s your first time to the city or your 15th, requires a ton of patience and positive thinking.   Especially in this marketplace, where everyone is staying in their apartments to keep pre-recession rents, it can seem impossible to find an apartment on a budget.   Here are a few pieces of advice I can offer after just going through the process myself.

Plan your budget, and stick with it – Though I was moving in with my sister and could technically split costs, I was dead-set on finding a place without paying a broker’s fee.   I quickly realized this would take MUCH more legwork on our end, but to me, it was worth saving the $4,000+ that brokers can cost.   We also decided quickly what our max rent would be, and how we would split the rent.   Neither of us wanted to live beyond our means, so we decided which areas of town were most likely to have apartments in our budget (hint, I am not yet in the swanky West Village. One day!).

Do some searching yourself – Even if you are open to using a broker, don’t discount some of the places you can find by doing some searching on your own.   My sister and I finally found our apartment on StreetEasy, but I found my current place on Craigslist and the one before that on RentHop.   Beware of listings that look too good to be true – they most certainly are.   Also be sure to ask around to friends and colleagues.   If a friend loves her building, she is usually more than willing to share their landlord’s name to help your search.

Don’t discount the boroughs   – My sister is becoming a teacher in Harlem, so we really couldn’t live anywhere but Manhattan to suit both our work commute needs.   However, I have lived in the Bronx while at school and commuted into Manhattan, and it was beyond fine.   I also have close friends who live in Brooklyn and Queens, and can’t imagine living anywhere else.   And of course, A is OBSESSED with the ‘Boken.   Each part of New York City proper has its redeeming qualities (and usually, lower rents), so be sure to check out all areas that are within reason for you.