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October 12, 2009

I have switched to a new server – so please check out my blog at


Lauren Fernandez

Communications: What’s Your Style?

September 23, 2009

LAF Note: This post was written by regular contributor Chevis English.

CommunicationWhen I chose to study communications at the University of Arkansas, I never knew how many types of communication there actually were. There is nonverbal communication, inteERpersonal communication, intrRApersonal communication, small group communication, gender communication (Side Note: best class one could ever take for the sake of their relationship) and the list goes on. Today we have new forms of communication with the advent of the Internet, email, texting and social media, which are still evolving everyday.

There are also different styles of communication and everyone speaks differently. The four main styles of communication are assertive, aggressive, passive and passive aggressive. As a newbie in the professional world it is important to communicate with the right style.  If we speak too aggressively we are considered arrogant and if we speak too passive we are seen as lacking confidence.

I have tried to learn to speak more assertive and not sound passive, but I find myself reverting back to my natural tone at times. I naturally have a voice that is soft in tone and I have been told that I come off as sounding not confident.  It does raise a few questions though:

How should we speak assertively without coming off as arrogant when we are still ripe in the industry?  When should we speak passively? What communication style do you think is best for us Gen Yers? Do our personality styles coincide with how we speak?

*Picture taken from DailyPic on Flickr.

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Overcoming Obstacles: Young Pros and the Coffee Run

September 22, 2009

Hey young pros: There’s a difference between getting coffee and setting up lunch.

Sure, they are both dealing with food. Your supervisor is probably asking you to do this task.  And yes, many interns and entry level pros have probably gotten coffee a time or two. But here’s the difference:  Who is it serving, the client/organization or a co-worker? Yes, your supervisor is your co-worker.

I read this article yesterday (Thanks Rachel for tweeting it) and, well, it just kinda played up on the whole “Gen Y thinks they are better than everyone else” stereotype. An intern refused to go on the daily coffee run for the second day in a row. I was once asked by an intern boss to take her kids to the dentist, and politely refused. That had no benefit to the client, the business or any meetings that were going on. Now, if a client had cracked a tooth at an event, I’d take them to the dentist.

Some think this might be an ethical thing. True or False?

1. If you’re asked to set up lunch for a client meeting and set out coffee, it’s ok.  It’s not ok to ask your employee to go on a coffee run for you everyday.

2. Talk to your supervisor about it. If you don’t think it’s something that is benefitting the business or the client, tell them. Present to them your work duties, and why you think that it doesn’t fit.

3. Be aware of your tone. Accusatory and whiny isn’t going to get you anywhere. Stay calm, cool and collected – and address the situation as a business professional.

What else? How do you address an obstacle with a boss? What can we do to combat stereotypes?


This week’s #u30pro chat will be about overcoming obstacles and the steps you take when challenges arise. Join David Spinks and me on Thursday at 7 pm EST.

From {Young Minds}: Finding a Social Media Balance in a Professional World

September 21, 2009

LAF Note: This post was written by Tom O’Keefe and is a part of the Young Minds series.

When Lauren asked me to write a post for her Young Minds series, I really had no idea what to write about. I’ve never held a full-time public relations job, I don’t have my own social media or public relations blog, and I, like Katie Wall, frequently ask myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”, when reading through my Twitter and RSS feeds full of posts from thought leaders in both the public relations and social media fields.

Then I read Dave Fleet’s post on Feeding the Social Media Beast and realized that I’ve been struggling lately with feeding that monster, but in a slightly different way. Instead of feeling like I need to force tweets, blog comments, and blog posts, I’ve been trying to find the time to be able to do those things. Mybalance_scale content well hasn’t run dry, it’s flooded!

See, recently, I began my first full-time job. It’s a yearlong commitment to teach high school as a part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I’ve been quite busy since starting. In just my first three weeks, I’ve taught writing classes, substituted for other teachers, corrected papers, proctored computer time for the students, tutored math, helped with SAT Prep classes, and somehow become the de facto computer guy not trained in IT. On top of that, when I arrive home each night, I have an obligation (and desire) to socialize and interact with my community housemates (not to mention, we don’t have an Internet connection Unless we want to “borrow” a connection from “cheeseburger”).

As a young professional, I want to be able to put 110% into my new job, but I also want to continue tweeting, reading, and commenting on my favorite blogs, building relationships via social media, and chronicling my own experience on my own blog.

I know my job and living situation is somewhat unique, but I also know that many young professionals are beginning their own first full-time jobs.

So, I’m wondering: how do you balance your job and at-home obligations with keeping up on social media? How do you remain committed to your work as well as your professional development online while maintaining a social life?

*Image is a copyright of

There’s More to a Millennial than Updating Your Profile

September 17, 2009

Collaborative post by Kasey Skala and Lauren Fernandez. You can find them on Twitter at @kmskala and @CubanaLAF.

A blog post went up today on the PRSA ComPRhension blog that was titled Status Updates: Millennial Staffers Can Update Your Social Media Plans. Kasey Skala and Lauren Fernandez are both PRSA members (Minnesota and Ft. Worth, respectively) and found that the article, if followed, might lead to social media disaster. They were both offended as PR pros – but what can you do to ensure that you take a positive approach to social media in the PR world? As a Millennial or senior staffer?

We found three things that really stuck out to us (there is more, but let’s leave that to the comments conversation.)

1. Tapping on these new professionals may seem like a gamble. You don’t want them speaking to clients, let alone producing messaging.

The biggest issue with this thinking is the rationale behind the hiring. As an agency or corporation, especially in today’s economy, the ball is definitely in your court in regards to acquiring the right talent. It’s always a “gamble” bringing a new person into your organization. You want to be sure they’re a right fit with your current staff, your organization’s mission and the clients you represent. However, if you base your hiring on someone’s age instead of his or her talent – especially when it comes to social media – then your organization has a lot bigger issues it needs to straighten out. If you don’t have enough faith and trust in their ability and talent, then why did you hire them?

2. However, to increase your organization’s toolbox and capture the attention of younger staffers eager to get ahead, the social media space is an ideal testing ground.

Social Media is an enhancement of your communications strategy already in place. It should never be an ideal testing ground. It represents your brand, just as much as a Web site, press release or marketing campaigns. Just because someone grew up online, that doesn’t automatically give them credibility in the social space. The biggest reason brands struggle with social media is because they treat as an experiment. The space may be new, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an effective strategy in place. You can change or alter your store layout, you can modify your cute promotion. Your online footprint is permanent.

3. A good starting point is to task new professionals with building up senior staffers’ profiles and networks on the organization’s social networking accounts.

Social Media is about your personality, your brand, your authenticity. Having a millennial build up your profile and network doesn’t show you. What if they state something wrong? Are they going to engage for you as well? Social media is about engaging and putting yourself out there. You lost total authenticity when you are speaking for someone else.A new professional brings the technology platform knowledge to the table, while senior staffers know branding strategy. Work together to meet a common goal.

So, what do you think? What approaches do you utilize in social media? How can millennials and senior staffers work together on campaigns and strategy?

From {Young Minds}: Oh yeah! I know him, he @replies me all the time.

September 16, 2009

LAF Note: This Young Minds post was written by Rebecca Denison.

As I’ve become more and more active on Twitter, one thought keeps popping into my head: how do I get to know these people in real life (IRL)?

I’ve found myself talking about people I follow as though I had coffee with them after work or had a great chat after a meeting.  I don’t even notice much of a difference in the way I interact with those I do know IRL and those I’ve only “met” online.

Because I’m still young and newbie, I don’t get a chance to travel much for work, and I don’t get the chance to make it to a lot of Tweetups.  So how can I transition from being that girl that everyone @replies on Twitter to a regular coffee buddy?

More than once someone I chat with on Twitter has suggested that we get some time, but then it doesn’t happen in large part because Igirl-and-computer don’t know what the next move is.  Once I’ve expressed excitement about the idea, how do I make it happen?  I mean, how do I make it happen without being awkward?

One of the big reasons I decided to become more involved on Twitter was because I wanted to build relationships, but I’m struggling to make that next big step.

There is only so much of myself I can show on Twitter and through my blog.  I’m very passionate about public relations measurement, but there is only so much I can learn from the big names in this field by reading their blogs and asking 140-character questions.

I know that networking is never easy, but I think that the added dimension of the online relationship makes the whole process slightly more complicated (and awkward).  It’s weird that there are people who know a great deal about me but have never actually seen me.  Meeting someone you already “know” online is what I would imagine it would be like to talk to an old friend when you have amnesia. The steps to a relationship just aren’t the same

So how do you move relationships into the real world?  And how do you do it without being a total dork?

*Image is a copyright of

PR Lessons: Nothing is ever ‘off the record’

September 15, 2009

President Obama said what we were all thinking about Kanye in a CNBC interview – that he’s a jacka** for the stunt he pulled on poor Taylor Swift at the VMAs. ABC’s Terry Moran overheard it, then tweeted it.  President has a right to an opinion, yes- but the bad thing is that he represents not just himself, but a brand (the United States, if you will.) He represents a large mass of people. So, the PR pro in me was screaming – even if LAF was laughing, agreeing and talking in third person.

This is the part that got me, which is from an ABC spokesperson:

“In the process of reporting on remarks by President Obama that were made during a CNBC interview, ABC News employees prematurely tweeted a portion of those remarks that turned out to be from an off-the-record portion of the interview. This was done before our editorial process had been completed. That was wrong. We apologize to the White House and CNBC and are taking steps to ensure that it will not happen again.”

The White House had no immediate comment.

PR Lessons here:

1. Nothing is ever off the record. Think about what you say. Train your clients, spokesperson and yourself. Everything you say can be printed.
2. No comment is never the way to go about it, White House. Admit it, address it and move on.
3. If you are the spokesperson for a brand, guess what? Your opinion can reflect that of others. Now, granted, most of us probably think that about Kanye…..
4. Social media can spread things quickly and prematurely, and sometimes might not be accurate.

So what do you think? Any lessons to add? What would you do as the PR person? Would you have gone the same route?

Networking Isn’t About You, It’s About Them

September 14, 2009

Professional networking can be hard. It can be intimidating. It’s about putting yourself out there and hoping you don’t fall flat on your face and ruin a potential career connection.

But guess what? It’s not about you.

That’s right. Networking is not all about what you get out of it.  Say what? “Isn’t networking supposed to be about how I can advance in my career and make connections to help me?” you might be asking.

Here’s the thing:  Have that mentality, and you’ll probably discard professional connections as fast as you acquire if they can’t do anything for you immediately.

n23927556_36482126_4698It’s easy as PR professionals to think we automatically know how to communicate. It’s in the job description, right? But just because that’s your chosen career path doesn’t mean you can communicate easily.

The fundamentals of relationship building are the key to networking. Make those relationships with anyone you can. You never know – the fashion columnist you met during an internship might be your next boss – in technology PR.  They could be a great mentor. Trust me, though – it’s just as easy to ruin them by only using people for your own gain.

So how can you combat the ‘me me me’ attitude?  What is the key to successful networking? Why aren’t all communicators great networkers – or do you think they are?

*Picture of some great friends and fellow North Texas PR alums – Jake, Hess, Libba and Shawn. This was taken at an alum networking event. Notice the smiles – it’s all about shooting the breeze.

Introducing Katie Wall: How To Have Something Worth Saying

September 11, 2009

LAF Note: Katie Wall is the second regular contributor on the LAF blog. Please welcome her!

Like Chevis, I was more than honored when Lauren asked me to contribute to her blog. Every day I scroll through countless Twitter posts and find myself drawn to people who I consider “valuable contributors” or “key players.” I can’t help but marvel at the content and worth of the information they share and wonder how they do it…

Why didn’t I think of that?!

Before I ever post anything on Twitter, I try to ask myself “Do I really have anything worth saying?” “Is anybody really going to care?” or “If no one responds to my questions or re-tweets what I say, does that mean I am not saying something that matters?”

On August 16 David Spinks wrote a post on his blog entitled “Are You a Social Media Expert or Evangelist?” I was intrigued. He talked about enthusiasm for social media versus actual application of the medium, and how, as a social media evangelist, it’s easy to share someone else’s ideas or advice, but experts build their own content and add value to the conversation.

*Sigh* I’m just an evangelist.  But why?

First there’s the issue of having time to create valuable content. I’m sure we’ve all been there before: sitting & wondering “How the heck does *generic PR person on Twitter* post so many things that I want to read in one day?!” It seems that no matter how many times I revisit Arik Hanson’s post on the LAF blog PR pros: Overwhelmed by social media? Stop complaining and start taking action, where he encourages PR professionals using social media to stay focused, take time and start small – I still tend to be distracted, rushed and try to take on the world.

Then there’s the matter of understanding the medium as a tool for generating conversation and disseminating information. I think this has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my recent transition from college life to the professional world. I’ve grown up on social media – it’s just something you do. I guess I still need to learn how to change my mentality from a simple college status update (i.e. “5th floor, Davis Library—come find me (and bring chocolate)!!”) to a thought provoking post that can get people talking.

So how can we change that? How can we learn? Any secrets to share? I’m all ears.


Katie has an ever-playing jukebox in her head, and when writing this,  all she could think of was the song “Q” by Cartel “If you’re not getting answers ask better questions…”

Does Technology Make Us All-Knowing?

September 9, 2009

If you’re a Gen Y-er, technology sometimes makes you believe you are – brand knowledgable, that is. Meaning:  you understand how to execute campaigns from a full strategy plan.

Think about it.  20 something’s straight out of college are being entrusted with huge brand campaigns in the form of Computer-Trashsocial media. The reason? Some (not all) older generations that don’t understand aren’t willing to buy-in and learn, but are willing to pass off their hard work and the foundation they’ve built in their brands communications to an entry-level.

It’s bound to make some feel pretty important. The 20 something is now the face of your brand. With the evolution of technology, social media and how people get their news – they are more than likely to turn on a computer than flip open a paper. They are more likely to look at Twitter than your company Web site. Why? Ease and people on the go need information quick.

How does this work? Why is this now the trend? As 20 somethings, what can we do to make sure we don’t endanger the brand? This doesn’t mean 20 somethings aren’t qualified – if they approach it correctly. Many just aren’t ready, and that’s a fact.

My thought? Stratagize with your boss. Ask them for advice. Ask them what messaging they want to see. Have them monitor it for a bit to make sure you are on the right track. Show that you want to earn their trust and you deserve to have it.

What do you think? Why is this the trend? Is it right? How can we make it so the brand doesn’t take a hit?