The Influence of Social Media on Social Issues

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of concerned global citizens proved that social media has the power to significantly impact and create change in our everyday lives. If you are wondering what over a half a million people were tweeting about yesterday, you must have not had cell service or access to a TV. I’m talking about the overwhelming world-wide support and attention that Troy Anthony Davis received from strangers around the world, hours and minutes before his execution. I’m not going to get into the details of the case or play sides. I want to discuss how social media is used by people during social crises and the influence it has on various social issues.

Wednesday morning, the usual silly phrases were trending nationally, by lunch with the help of celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Diddy, #TooMuchDoubt and #WhoIsTroyDavis were trending nationally and globally. For the day, Twitter and Facebook acted as live news streams and digital forums for the masses. Those who were questioning “Who is Troy Davis” Wednesday morning knew the answer by Wednesday afternoon. People were able to watch a compelling story unfold on their timelines. Users were able to share links to news stories, petitions, and locations and pictures of protests and rallies in Davis’ honor. Yesterday, social media sites were a crate box people were able to stand on and speak out. Times like this, with large retweet chains and sharing, social media allows a person to get their voice heard by people across the country and the world. Without social media, this would not be possible.

Yesterday wasn’t the first time news was able to go global in minutes because of social media. I remember that I learned about the devastating earthquake in Haiti via Twitter. It was also through this social site that I learned of great ways to make monetary donations and help out victims through various relief efforts.   Social sites help people stay connected during diasters and informed of minute by minute happenings. Social media has adapted to everything that is social in our world. We do not just post statuses and tweet updates, we share concern, ask for opinions, and most importantly ask for action from our followers and friends.

Social media brings social issues to the people and allows them to react. Social media gives people the power to speak to the world and be an agent of change. Social media puts rest to the thought that one person can not make a difference, that a small group of citizens can not create real lasting change. If you keep tweeting about your organization to the right following you will be able to get funding, supporters, and attention for your cause. Social media sites are the new way of going door to door posting flyers and standing on the streets. Social media is a way for people to connect with one another and share their issues and concerns.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that has ever.” -Margaret Mead

What I Learned About PR from Music Festivals

Soundland 2011 presented by the Next Big Nashville kicks off Wednesday in Nashville and it has really got me into the festival spirit. I am a music lover and enthusiast. My IPod holds everything from Mumford & Sons to Kanye West to Sleigh Bells to Coldplay. Music Festivals are an affordable way for people like me to come together hear some of their favorite artists, sample some new ones, and talk about nothing but music for 72 hours straight…Heaven. In June 2011 I went to Bonnarroo for the first time. I was covered in sweat and dust by Sunday afternoon, but I still wanted more which is why I ventured on an eight hour road trip to Chicago in August for Lollapalooza.

When I went to Bonnaroo I was working as a contract account associate for a PR firm in Nashville and my Director told me to go, have fun, but also think about PR while I was up there. Between fun at my tent, the magic mushroom (a water fountain, not what you were thinking), and all of the great shows, I actually did think about PR. Here are a few things I learned or had reconfirmed about PR from my music festival experiences.

1. Social Media is King

Large annual music festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Coachella have social media down packed especially Twitter. Lollapalooza leads the pack with 66,000+ Twitter followers and Bonnaroo comes in a close second with 44,000+. You have to produce the right content to not only gain a following but sustain and grow it. Don’t lecture your followers or rant with tweet after tweet, engage! I follow all three of the aforementioned and I frequently retweet or reply to their tweets.

2. Have a Back Up Plan for Your Back Up Plan

No one can predict the weather, which is why no PR professional can predict the media. Media may confirm they are coming to your event, but on the way they come across a raging fire and your fundraiser is no longer newsworthy. Times like these, you have to have a back-up plan. No new stations, that’s okay we have radio stations. No radio stations, that’s okay we have bloggers here. Sometimes you have to create your own buzz online to provide results for your clients.

3. Networking is Crucial

Want to get back stage or get the best freebies, this can only be done by networking and finding the right people that have that power. At an overnight festival like Bonnaroo, you have to mix and mingle with your neighbors. For me and my friends, we utilized our neighbors to help us pitch our tent. Yes, I was so ashamed; girl power went down the drain. Sometimes, you have to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask one of your contacts for someone’s email address at a company or newspaper. Remember to network online, utilize professional sites like Linkedin, but also join social clubs for your industry like Nashville PR Flacks or NashCocktail.

4.Embrace Change

My first trip to Bonnaroo, I went with two semi- veterans (it was their second time) and they expected things to be EXACTLY the same. They wanted the same camping site, eateries, the whole shibang. I had to hit them with a reality check that nothing will ever be the same and they should embrace this as a new experience and learn how to navigate through it. Social media is going to change, how you pitch will change, and your clients’ needs will change. Just be prepared to change your thinking and approach. Because if you don’t, you will get left behind crying about how things used to be.

5.Know Your Market

Bonnaroo had more pizza and hot dog stands than any other type of food vendor. Why? Because people want to get their food and walk to the shows. They are experienced and know what are hits and what are misses. In PR you have to know who you are pitching to and what they like? Research newspapers and writers and find each of their beats. Sometimes, researching your market may include making a few failed pitches or bad follow-up calls, but it is all the nature of the beast and will help you get better

Remember you can enhance your PR skills anywhere, even by just talking to people on the street. Constant communication and research is key. Always look around for things that affect your world socially. You never know where you may find inspiration.  Hopefully, I can learn something good this week at Soundland, I’ll be sure to let you know.

4-Year Degrees Still Hold Their Clout!

The Tennessean recently ran an article, 4-year Degree Losing Luster, on their front page. The article immediately caught my attention as I am a 2010 college graduate and someone who is currently studying for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to pursue a Master’s degree. My current employer hired me based on my experience, market knowledge, personality, and yes, my college degree! I struggled to find a full-time job that appealed to me after graduation, but I never once questioned the value of my degree in helping me obtain a good position at a company,  grow intellectually, and should things fail in the future, be a safety net or a chance for me to start over.

I found the article to be one-sided. Those interviewed were mostly males in skill based jobs; including an insurance adjuster, IT technician, and wed developer. I am sure that the average female opinion varies drastically. Male or female and no matter which side you’re on, money/cost is the main ingredient used in the 4-year degree argument. I want to offer my opinion as I am female and not in a skill based job. I want to touch first on the core of the argument, money.

Salary or Tuition

Many young people believe it is more important to work 40+ hours a week right out of high school than spend 10+ hours in a college lecture hall.  The sad truth about higher education is that most students rely on loans and scholarships to fund their education and usually that is still not enough. In the article, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal was quoted saying “College gives people learning and also takes away future opportunities by loading the next generation down with debt.”

In the end those that spend hours in the classroom rather than on a job come out with a higher position and salary. The artcile cited a report by thePewResearchCenter in May 2011 that found that college graduates make about $550,000 more than high school graduates over the course of their careers. I know that some people have circumstances that may prevent them from immediately going or finishing. Continuing education programs are more popular than ever because people well into their careers without degrees know they are being withheld salary and opportunities because of not having or completed a degree. This leads me to my main point about the true value of a 4-year degree.

Job Monotony or Career Freedom

A 4-year degree allows career freedom. Liberal Arts degrees unlike technical degrees liberate your mind to think about things from various aspects and be able to transfer to different areas. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and because of my liberal arts background; I have the opportunity to choose what I want to do. Someone with a 2-year degree or no degree might not have that freedom. For example, a recently hired CEO of a manufacturing company may not know how to build a car, but he has the knowledge to adapt to different industries, skills to lead, and is well educated.

A degree is reassurance that the employer will most likely get what they are paying for. A 4-year college helps develop students’ rational thought and abilities to be diverse where other routes like trade school emphasize specialization and over time monotony. You can follow the college road that can take you anywhere or go on a straight path that has no exits. 

Learn, perfect your skills, and profit or work to sustain, and maintain.  A degree is essential to having a progressive career. The 4-year degree has not lost its luster it still holds it clout and is more important than ever in an economy where each position open is becoming more and more competitive.

How Did I Get Here?

In April, I went to PodCamp Nashville. It was my first social media conference. I did not know this world existed where people made social media their business and their business was social media. I was helping my mentor work an event earlier that day and had missed most of the sessions. I was only able to go to three, but those were exactly the fuel I needed to change my approach to social media.

I listened to three of the biggest names in Nashville social media and marketing speak about their experiences and give insight how to make your social life apply to your business. The last session I went to was with Kate O’Neil of [meta] marketer (she is amazing). It was about the healing and business power of blogging about your life. I decided that day, that I wanted to start a blog. As you look at your calendar, I know what you’re thinking, it took a few months to get it actually started, but I do things in my own time.

On this blog, I am going to write about what I know and what I love. I love music, I know public relations and how to make great events. These three things make my life and my career. Here is my insight.