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good things come in 3’s

It’s been raining advice for students, here’s the third installment:

Todd Defren (@TDefren), principal at PR agency Shift Communications recently wrote excellent advice in this blog post: What I Wish My New Employee Knew.

See also good advice from PRSA on preparing a PR portfolio.

So, students, what do you think? Feeling more motivated? What will you do this semester to invest in yourself and your future?

Interview with Jeremiah Owyang

 Following up on a post in which Jeremiah Owyang, (@jowyang) Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, describes his job responsibilities, I asked him a few questions about valuable skills in the analyst industry. Clemson communication students learn excellent research skills, and Jeremiah’s job is an example of putting those skills to work.

Read his blog post first, then this Q&A:

Dr. V’s comment: Thank you for explaining the nature of your job. I’ll share this with my students, who often find it hard to believe that the research and writing skills we teach them in college will ever come in handy :)

JO’s response: The Research job is laborious, but important in making decisions. Every day analysts and researchers influence how millions of dollars are spent and managed. As a result, they’re well compensated, and are one of the top non executive earners in the industry.

Dr. V: What are the top 3 most useful/important skills for your job?

JO: Seeing the big picture. Numbers and facts are useless without insight, analysis, and perspective. Students need to first get real world experience before becoming a researcher or analyst, I’ve served my time working up the corporate ladder for 7 years (which is considered very fast), I’m 31, and haven’t even reached the mid-point in my career, so work hard and stay focused. When I first started to focus on social computing, people laughed at me, they thought blogs and social networks were silly and for kids, now it’s a major industry.

Dr. V: What are some things college students should focus on/try to learn well if they hope to work as a researcher/analyst someday?

JO: Think strategic, think about the large scope of things. Be very aware and absorb lots of information, including info outside of school, teachers, and class. I read materials online, and made a vow to learn one new skill everyday at my internship.

Dr. V: If/When you interview for a new position or an internship, what are the most important things you look for in a candidate? What are the deal breakers?

JO: Ambition, ability to communicate effectively, and I’ll be checking out their Facebook and MySpace page to understand what they’re really like. The good news is, we want to see the human side of a candidate, but the party pics should probably be in a private folder. Ironically, I was a poor student in High School and College (but I did graduate). I did well in the creative arts, and was never great at math or business classes like accounting or Finance. Fortunately, in the workplace, one can find their true comfort area.

Interview with Phil Gomes

Dear PR & Communication students,

I’ve been saving the interview I did with Phil Gomes for the beginning of the semester, when you’re either more motivated to listen or you’ll listen because you need some motivation.

Phil Gomes, (@philgomes) is vice president of the me2revolution group within Edelman Public Relations. I interviewed him in November 2007 and asked him how you can succeed. One of Phil’s most interesting ideas is that of future-proofing your education – learning things that will still be useful in 10, 15, or 20 years from now. I think both students and educators will find this interview informative and motivational. Enjoy and let me know: How are you future-proofing your or your students’ education?

[display_podcast]

Video: Changing the world with graphs

Here’s a video worth watching, even if a bit long (about 25 mins.).

Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institutet and Director of Gapminder Foundation, speaking at LeWeb3 conference, Paris, 2007 (video courtesy of Robert Scoble).

Several things to notice in this video:

  • statistical storytelling with amazing graphs (of interest to both students of narrative theory and visual communication or information design)
  • fresh perspective on globalization, economic development, history, and environmental issues
  • the power of software and animated statistical graphs to help tell stories that can change (how we see) the world
  • Rosling’s message to bloggers: use blogging to connect to the whole world instead of reinforcing the homogeneity of the Western world. How do we do this? How do you do this?

http://vpod.tv/leweb3/392157/flash/videoPlayer

Social media and marketing

Shel Israel explains it beautifully:

The essence of social media is that it is humans. Humans connect to humans and they form communities. They own their communities, brands don’t. The perspective of traditional marketing is to take a message and find delivery channels to inseminate into people’s foreheads. This is not social. Social is for a marketing executive to start a blog and ask people why they hate his marketing efforts–then listen–really listen to what people say the way Dell has done and a few others are trying to do.

I can’t wait to share this quote with my PR students. I love it because it explains something that I’ve been thinking about… what happens to cultures and communities when corporate interests intervene (or try to own communities/conversations). This quote explains that one of the things that happens is that the conversation loses its humanity and authenticity. It becomes hollow. It ends.

Silly, what comes to mind is Suze Orman’s line: “People first, then money, then things.” – what a good lesson to teach my PR students!

Related post: The only real social networks are personal ones 

…for PR students:

Here’s a conversation that was going on on twitter the other night among PR practitioners. Read from bottom to top. Paull Young asked about the importance of teaching the new generation of PR pros (that would be you, PR students!) citizen journalism skills. Read and see for yourself what skills are important, and do your best to learn them.

Don’t know who these people (kamichat, prblog, ikepigott, paullyoung) are and why their opinions matter? It’s worth your time to figure out, trust me! (hint: see my blogroll)

twitter screen shot

Is Apple the worst good company?

So IT (inevitable tragedy) happened. I dropped my iPhone.

Options?

  • pay $250 for a replacement unit (by mail or in an Apple store)
  • pay $150-200 for some company to put in a replacement screen (which voids the Apple warranty)
  • continue using it, although the glass is cracked, the beauty is gone, and my eyes tear up every time I look at it
  • (no, the $5 DYI option is not an option)

I’ll pay $250 for the replacement unit. Although I know I’ll probably drop this one too, sooner or later (please, God, later!). So I investigated the possibility of buying some kind of insurance against accidental damage.

Apple sells an extended warranty, but no insurance against accidental damage. Of course, the regular $3.99-5 AT&T phone insurance is not available for the iPhone.

An AT&T store manager recommended Safeware, and other sources suggested checking with home/renter’s insurance companies. Geico doesn’t offer it, but apparently State Farm does. I called two State Farm agents and they both told me State Farm stopped writing this policy for the iPhone because they were losing money. A Safeware customer rep. told me Apple hasn’t released components for the iPhone, so no one can repair it – that’s why insurance is not available. I did find one company who offers iPhone extended warranty (just like Apple Care) and Accidental Damage Protection (ADP): SquareTrade. You can buy ADP only within the first 30 days of getting a brand new iphone. The rep. told me they’re also considering dropping iPhone coverage, because it doesn’t make financial sense.

I hate Apple.

But I love my iPhone.

So, does having a good/revolutionary product mean you can abuse your market? Dictate your own terms, set high prices, refuse insurance, make it difficult for other companies to insure your product, charge a fortune for a replacement unit when you know it will, sooner or later, break?!

What are the factors that make it possible for Apple to “abuse” customers and still keep them coming back?

  • a good product. After having the iPhone for a few months, I can’t imagine living without it. It’s useful! It’s beautiful. I’m emotionally attached to it, to the pleasant experience of using it, and to the unique feeling of “cool!” (powerful branding, there). I know it’s silly, but I can’t help it. It’s gotten me at a level deeper than reason.
  • targeting a high-end market. People who buy the iphone (most of them, anyway) can afford the $250 replacement cost. They won’t be happy about it, but it won’t break the bank.

Apple’s marketing strategy works – but is it good PR? Apple has the potential to define a new type of organization-public relationship: the (happily) abusive one! Can this type of relationship last, in the long run? Does it provide enough of a trust cushion to carry Apple through a major crisis, should one happen?

What do you think?

Is Apple’s marketing strategy somewhat abusive? What makes it work? What does it mean for PR and the long-term relationship with publics? How do you feel about your iPhone? How do you protect your iPhone? If it broke, would you pay $250 to replace it? If it broke again, would you pay $250 again?