Becoming a Google Partner

For those of you who didn’t know, like me, you can actually become Google certified with Google Partners and gain exclusive access to several benefits. All you have to do to become a partner is pass a 70 question exam with at least an 80%, and although this sounds relatively simple, it is actually a lot of work. First, you must choose whether you want to become certified in Google Analytics or Google AdWords. I chose Google Analytics because I thought it would be more beneficial and useful in the career I am pursuing, but either option has many benefits depending on what you want to use it for. After you choose which path you would like to take, you must then complete two education courses in order to prepare yourself for the exam. These courses take a little bit longer than you may assume, and they throw lot of information at you to remember. However, at the end of each section it gives you small quizzes that help you to apply what you learned and makes it easier to remember for the future.

Once you finish taking these courses, you are then fully prepared to take the exam… well, hopefully. The first time I took the exam I only got a 70%; it was MUCH harder than I was expecting. If you come short of the 80%, you have to wait 7 days before you can take it again. During those 7 days, I took the time to re-watch some of the videos in the courses and better prepare myself for the exam. The next time I took it, I passed with a 91%!

Below is a picture of my final certificate of my Google Partnership in Google Analytics!

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Wilson, B. (April 20, 2017). Screenshot of Analytics Certification [JPEG]. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/partners/#p_profile

This certificate in Google Analytics will help me in my communications career in so many ways. Since basically every company and organization uses Analytics as a way to keep track of their business goals and progress, and as a PR specialist I am working for those companies, it’s important to have knowledge of how Analytics works. I can use it to track which advertisements are producing effects on the company’s image or sales, discover which audiences we should target through campaigns, or to find solutions to problems where business may be suffering (i.e. website malfunctions).

A few weeks ago, before I had taken this exam, I was at a PRSSA meeting and there were several alumnus present to discuss their careers and accomplishments after graduation from Grand Valley. I was very excited when one of the speakers said she wished she had learned how to use Google Analytics in school because she has to use it all the time at her job and has no experience with it. She had to learn how to use while working the job, and other speakers began to chime in and say that they are in the same boat. At this moment I realized how valuable my certificate actually is.

Not only does the training and courses make you an expert on how to use Google Analytics, since many jobs utilize it, but the certificate also gives you a competitive advantage over other people when applying for jobs. It is something that you can put on your resume to show that you have experience with Google Analytics and are a Google Partner, something that many other students do not have when applying for internships or jobs.

So I encourage all of you to go get Google certified! Even though it takes time and effort to complete, there are so many advantages to doing it. I know that once I am working at a job, I will see the true benefits and usefulness that it offers.

Social Media Management

I today’s society, it is vitally important for any successful company to have social media pages. This could be anything from Facebook and Youtube to Instagram and Snapchat. Social media allows organizations to reach its audience in a much more personal and direct way, and so they want to make sure that their content is updated and relevant. Therefore, it is also important to have a good system of social media management so that all of the accounts are being updated with content that is useful and engaging for its audience.

Something that I would recommend is that all of you go and follow pages that are relevant to your field of study/work, or ones that you are simply just interested in. You can find out so much information and insight by following these social media accounts and staying in touch. For example, I follow several accounts that are related to my major or organizations that I am involved in, such as the PRSSA accounts, GrandPR accounts, and even accounts from professionals in the field, like Gary Vaynerchuk. It helps build connections with people that have similar interests as you and opens up opportunities for learning and experience.

Because social media management is a very important skill to have in the public relations field, and for any company/organization, I decided to get my feet wet by managing my personal twitter account. I used the tool Tweetdeck to schedule out tweets for the rest of the month of April. It was so easy to use and helped me understand what managing social media accounts looks like. Another tool that can be used for managing Twitter and other accounts like Facebook or Instagram is Hootsuite. I highly suggest trying these tools on your own social media accounts because it is a great skill to have for personal use and even to put on a resume.

Below are some screenshots of the tweets that I scheduled using Tweetdeck.

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Wilson, B. (April 19, 2017). Screenshots of scheduled tweets on Tweetdeck [JPEG]. Retrieved from https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/

Superior Awards

Hey everyone! So just yesterday I was able to experience a very unique opportunity for my career. As previously mentioned, I am in the GVSU chapter of PRSSA, and through that I heard about the “Superior Awards“. This event is where all students in the Advertising and Public Relations major can turn in previous class work to be judged and possibly deemed “superior” among all of their classmates. The judging panel is made up of professors and PR professionals who critique your work based on very high standards, and even if your work does not receive an award, it is still critiqued with comments and advice so you can learn from your mistakes.

Unfortunately, I missed the deadline to turn in my work, but I still decided to go for all of the other benefits. Not only is it a great opportunity to possible receive awards and helpful criticism, but it is also an amazing networking opportunity. I was able to meet other students who are taking the same classes that I have/will be, so of course I paid attention to which ones received an award so I could ask them for tips; professors who I will have in future classes and who have professional experience and connections themselves; and real-world professionals who are working in the field and have years of expertise and knowledge. By meeting with all of these individuals, you can increase your knowledge of how to get where you want, and most importantly, GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE. That was my main goal for attending this event, and also to get a feel for how it works so that next year I can submit work and have an understanding of what I need to do to be deemed superior.

Below is a picture of my friend and I all dressed up and ready to network! #SuperiorAwards

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PRSSA Meeting

For those of you who don’t know, PRSSA stands for Public Relations Student Society of America. I joined the Grand Valley chapter of PRSSA in September of 2016, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have met real professionals who are working in the public relations field and have gotten the chance to explore what the PR world is all about. I’ve taken agency tours, attended networking events, and gotten to know so many amazing people.

One of the largest benefits of joining PRSSA has been the networking aspect of it. No matter what field you are going into, networking is KEY. It’s what gets you that first internship, or that first job, or introduces you to that one person who is going to make an impact on your career journey in ways you could have never imagined.

Below is a photo of me attending one of the bi-weekly PRSSA meetings and listening to a speaker talk about Design Thinking.

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Job Search

How many of you are on the job hunt right now? How many of you have been looking all over the place and cannot find the right one? And how many of you found the perfect job, but you do not meet all of the requirements for it? If this is you, then I am in the same boat.

With summer right around the corner, I have been looking for a job for the past couple of months, but I don’t really want just any job. I want one that I am actually interested in and will benefit me in some way in the future. The struggle is that every job I am interested in and that has relevance to my major has specific knowledge and experience that it requires. Most of these have to do with technology. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to learn and utilize many of these different technologies, as you have all seen through my various blog posts. 

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Wilson, B. (April 11, 2017). Screenshot of Job Search [JPEG]. Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=communications%2C+public+relations&l=Grand+Rapids%2C+MI

The point of this blog post is to show you how important technology really is, especially if you are going into a field similar to mine. If I could give you any piece of advice, it would be to learn and use as many different technologies as possible to get experience with them that you can put on your resume. Below are five jobs that I found on Indeed and am interested in, with the technology that they require you to have experience with.

Creative Assistant
Cascade Hills Country Club
https://www.indeed.com/cmp/CASCADE-HILLS-COUNTRY-CLUB/jobs/Creative-Assistant-3190af98a9cf14ae
MUST have experience with Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft OfficeSocial Media

Marketing Intern
Amstore
https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Amstore/jobs/Social-Media-Marketing-Intern-a8ff7eb6550cdc59?q=public+relations
Skilled with presentation software programs, including Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Creative Suite; graphic design talent helpful but not necessary

Marketing Development Specialist
Trivalent Group
https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Trivalent-Group/jobs/Marketing-Development-Specialist-c700ad8b8afc667a?sjdu=QwrRXKrqZ3CNX5W-O9jEvWEuKRfJsQCJGKhFvHSNSCAxfMvX5C8y20axvMQeerpysPEs5y7Bg0Ye9WvlHzdXFLyF2Er8Da11BRIyvm-6Sog
Maintain competency in MS Office applications, CRM tools, and other productivity and process tools including ConnectWise and QuoteWerks.

Communications Coordinator
Skytron
https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Skytron/jobs/Communication-Coordinator-b10a5625c08ff352?q=public+relations
Strong knowledge of Microsoft Excel
Proficient with Microsoft Outlook, PowerPoint and Word

Private Events Manager
Reserve Wine & Food (Windcrest Group)
https://www.appone.com/maininforeq.asp?Ad=493258&R_ID=1544942&Refer=https://www.indeed.com/&B_ID=91
Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite including Word, PowerPoint, Excel.

Business Card

Business cards are useful and effective for several different reasons. Not only do they add value to your professional image, but they serve as a great marketing tool. Keep a stack of them in your wallet, hand them out at networking events, give a handful to your friends and family to hand out, there are so many different ways to utilize them. They offer a way for people to remember who you are.

Imagine you are an interior designer and have a high school class reunion to attend. Once you arrive, you start talking to all of your old friends and classmates to catch up on where everyone is in their lives. You’re in a conversation with several people, and one of them mentions that they just bought a new house. You immediately inform them that you’re an interior designer and tell them to give you a call if they are ever considering hiring one for their new home. But how can you ensure that they are going to remember you after talking to hundreds of other people at this event? You give them your business card. It is a physical reminder to them of who you are, what you do, and to get in touch with you. Even if they end up not needing your services, they might come in contact with someone who does and instead of trying to remember your information, they’ll have a physical card to give that person as well.

If you don’t have one already, you need to make one. It is vitally important for your business/career as a successful professional. If you don’t know where to start on creating one, I am going to give you some tips on making the perfect business card.

I recently made a new business card for myself and used Adobe InDesign to do so. It was such a simple process. I started by creating my own dimensions for the card, and then added images and text on top of it. If you don’t want to start with a blank slate, there are several websites where you can buy or find free templates to download, then it is as easy as filling in the blanks with your information. For mine, I started with a blank slate so that I could create the perfect look for my professional image. Just like Adobe Photoshop, the software works in layers where each new item you add is a layer added on to the previous one. Below is a screenshot of the business card being created where you can see the different layers I added to produce the finished product.

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Wilson, B. (April 4, 2017). Screenshot of Business Card [JPEG]. Retrieved from http://www.adobe.com/products/indesign.html?sdid=KKQLR&mv=search&s_kwcid=AL!3085!3!155829415329!e!!g!!adobe%20indesign&ef_id=V320kgAAAE7hr3JI:20170405003216:s

Once I was finished adding all of the lines, backgrounds, colors, and text, I downloaded it as a JPEG. It is important to note that if you are creating it for print, you will want to download it as a PDF for the best quality. Some important information you will want to include on your card is your name, title (creative assistant), and contact information (phone, email, address, etc.). Once you at least have those, then you can add other things such as your website, social media, logo, or even a picture of yourself. It all depends on what your style is and how you want to be presented to others. Below is my business card as a JPEG.

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If you are still unsure about using Adobe InDesign as a way to create your business card, then there are other options, such as Vistaprint. No matter what you have use to get your own card, do it. It is a great investment and will only benefit your success in whatever it is that you do. Not only is it extremely beneficial to create one, but it’s fun too! You are able to use your creative side and play around with different styles to create exactly what you want.

SEO for PR

One of the most important things to maintain in any PR related field is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO is all about increasing search traffic and visibility of a website by matching query intent with relevance and value. If you are like me and want to make your website as visible as possible to the public, and especially to your intended audience, then you need to make sure that you are taking the right steps to improving your SEO.

When I first started my blog, I really didn’t know much about this, and so I wasn’t sure what actions I needed to take in order to improve my web page’s performance. One thing that can really help to improve your SEO is to utilize key words within your content. A tool that I found very useful was the Google Ads Keyword Tool. It’s a very easy process- all you have to do is put in your website domain and location, and Google will generate a list of key words that you should use. This is a very important advertising technique to help you promote your website or web page. It is also a great way to brand not only your business or blog, but also yourself! It helps people to find you quicker and easier to increase traffic to your website. Below is a screenshot of the results I got from using the Google Keyword Tool for my web page.

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Wilson, B. (March 16, 2017). Screenshot of Keywords [JPEG]. Retrieved from https://adwords.google.com/um/GetStarted/Home?__u=9916174881&__c=6659697756&authuser=0#oc

An example of how keywords can be utilized can be shown through my own blog. When I created my writing prompts infographic, I wanted everyone who was seeking help in picking a writing topic to be directed to my site and to my infographic. By using keywords like “writing prompts” or “writing,” I can increase visibility of my website to those people who are searching those terms. For something that seems so easy to do, it is a very beneficial step to improve your SEO!

My Top 10 Keywords & Their Number of Global Monthly Searches:

PR- 1,000,000                                         Communications- 823,000                                                     Will- 368,000                                          Script Writing- 40,500                                                               Advertising- 550,000                           Grand Rapids- 74,000                                                               Branding- 550,000                                Proofreading- 110,000                                                             Writing Prompts- 90,500                   Writing- 550,000

Some other things that are important to keep in mind in regards to SEO are your design, the user experience, the content of your website, and your reputation. These will all affect how well-seen your website is for the public. Therefore, I encourage all of you who are maintaining or creating a website to not ignore SEO! Make sure that you are doing all that you can to increase visibility and traffic from the public. Trust me, it will pay off in the end!

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SEO vs PPC. 2017, Full On Digital . Accessed 16 Mar. 2017.

Photoshop for Spring Break

Who else can’t stop thinking about summer and the beach? With spring break coming up, it is the only thing on my mind. Unfortunately, I am not going anywhere warm this spring break, so I decided that I would still make a trip to the lakeshore! This past weekend, I went to Grand Haven State Park and attempted to take some pretty pictures of the lake and the beach. Luckily for me, the weather was actually pretty decent for a February day in Michigan, and I captured this picture at the perfect time with the sunset in the background.

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After taking this picture, I asked myself, “Why not pretend that you are somewhere warm? No one will know that you’re in Michigan… right?” I think that I wanted to convince myself of this more than anyone else. However, I knew that I would have to do a little editing before I could pull this off, so I used Adobe Photoshop to spice the picture up a bit.

One thing that I thought would make this photo more convincing would be to add a dolphin into the picture; that way no one could mistake this gorgeous picture of the ocean with Lake Michigan. It was a fairly simple process to my surprise. I used the “quick selection tool” to select the image of the dolphin and then place it into my sunset beach photo. However, it didn’t look as real or believable as I though it would, so I added water splashing up to make it look as if the dolphin were jumping out of the water. I also added a filter to the image to make it slightly brighter and to make it look a little more artsy for my own pleasure. The final product is below! It probably doesn’t look as real as it could if I were a professional, but what can I say, I tried my best.

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Using Photoshop is a great way to turn those dull and boring photos into professional masterpieces. I had a lot of fun playing around with this picture and I will definitely be using Photoshop again to edit my pictures. Besides using it as a way to fool others into thinking you’re having way more fun than you actually are, you can also use it as a simple way to improve the quality of a photo. You can make photos brighter, remove pimples or other unwanted aspects, and even add filters to make the pictures stand out. It is a great tool for any type of photography project, or just as a fun pass time activity.

 

Exploring Grand Rapids

When my professor told us we were going to have to create our own video, I almost started crying right then and there. I knew absolutely NOTHING about making a film or editing it. The closest I’ve come to making a film is recording a video on my phone, which I’m not sure even counts. However, I could never have expected to have as much fun with it as I did.

Being an advertising and public relations major, my first thought was to create a promotional video of some sort. I didn’t think that I wanted to make an actual movie with actors and a script, so I tried to think of a unique way I could incorporate my interests into a film. Since I have lived in Grand Rapids my entire life, and I am wholeheartedly in love with the city, I decided to make a promotional video of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I spent an entire day walking around downtown with my camera taking varying pictures and videos of the city. I tried to capture some different aspects of the city- ones that are probably very familiar, and others that may not be as well-known. Unfortunately, I couldn’t include as much as I would have liked due to the 1:30 time limit, but regardless, I thought it turned out pretty cool!

Before I started editing the film, I created a simple hand drawn storyboard to lay out where I wanted each photo/video to be placed. Then, I actually got to create the video by stringing together all of my work with the use of transitions. I also included text in the film to describe some of the different attractions I was showcasing. I used Final Cut Pro as my editing software to create the final product. This whole process took about 8 hours- including filming, the storyboard, and the editing. It was a very large time commitment, not to mention challenging, but I had so much fun doing it! I hope that you all enjoy the film as much as I enjoyed making it!

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Wilson, B. (February 22, 2017). Screenshot of Final Cut Pro Timeline [PNG]. Retrieved from Final Cut Pro

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Slideshow of my storyboard.

Below is my final product of the film, Enjoy!

Infographic

As a writer, I know that one of the hardest things to do is choose a topic to write about. You have to find a common ground between what interests you have, how much you actually know about that topic, and if it fits the style of your writing. For me, this step can take hours to figure out. In fact, right now I am working on a research paper for one of my classes, but we can pick anything we want to research and write about as long as it is within Africa. Africa is 11.73 million square miles with a population of 1.216 billion people. How am I supposed to choose one thing to write about in the second largest continent on the planet?

Because choosing a topic to write about can be so difficult, not to mention time consuming, I created a helpful infographic that gives step-by-step instructions on how to pick one. To do this, I used piktochart.com and created a free account. The process was so easy, and actually fun! You can choose any template to start with, or a blank one, and then you just fill in the information you want. Then, if you are like me and want to use your creativity to make it more interesting, you can move things around, change the background, and style it however you like! This website was easy to navigate and fun to use; I will most definitely be using it again in the future.

So, if you are having a difficult time figuring out what to write about, whether it’s for an academic paper or your own personal writing, take a look at my infographic below. It tells you exactly what to do in order to choose a topic. As I mentioned earlier, I was having a very difficult time deciding what to write about for my research paper. I used this step-by-step process and by the time I got to step 5, I finally had a topic picked out! Once I knew what I was going to start researching and writing about, the words came flowing out of me. Not only was it something that fit all of my professor’s guidelines, but it was something that I was actually interested in, so it now became very easy to write about it. I hope this works as well for you as it did me, and have fun with it!

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Wilson, B. (February 8, 2016). How to Pick a Topic to Write About [JPEG]. Retrieved from https://piktochart.com/