Advice From a Post-Grad (9 months & Counting)…

Yesterday I received an email from a former MSU professor for one of the advertising design courses I took as part of my Design Specialization. She basically started off this email bold and to the point, asking me “What advice do you have for 2011 grads and what do you wish you knew prior to graduating that would have changed your job search?” Wow, what a question to ask a 22 year old recent college grad whose still trying to adjust to the post college life of not being able to sleep in past noon and eat pizza 3 meals a day. That question really got me thinking about everything that’s has taken since I left the land of green and white last May. She then asked if I could come up some evening a speak to her evening class  and give her students some advice and insight into life after MSU.  I’m not quite sure where to start since so much has happened since May 6, 2010, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

Since Graduation:

Around this time last year, I was frantically revising my resume, preparing a portfolio, attending job fairs and networking events at every chance I could get. I was literally applying to every job at every company in my field that I could think of…big or small, local, or thousands of miles away. Well, boy was I in for a reality check. Not only was unfortunate to graduate at one of the worst times in our economy, when jobs were scarce and the ones available had thousands of applicants competing for one spot, but a lot of companies weren’t even hiring full time. It was just a bad time all around for finding a job.

What I Didn’t Know, But Wish I Did

  • The chance of landing your dream job with your first application, first resume submission, and first interview is probably NOT GOING TO HAPPEN (and if it does I need to know your secret)! It’s tough out there and yes, my parents, industry professionals, and professors told me and my peers this, but of course I didn’t really believe them. Well, they were right.
  • You need to start standing out now—Brand Yourself. Being an advertising student I knew I needed a portfolio if I wanted to go into design, and writing samples if I wanted to copywriting and a social media presence if I wanted to go into media planning, but I started building up all of that too late. From the moment you lock in your major you NEED to start branding yourself and networking…no matter what major you’re in. Learn the industry. Know the big players and the big news. Go to every career fair, networking event and speaker conference you can. Join clubs and organizations, get on E-boards, volunteer, produce writing and design samples, and keep all your projects, papers, research etc to use as a demonstration of your abilities. You need to make sure you stand out. Take any and every opportunity you can to network and get your foot in the door.
  • Learn how to write a great resume and cover letter. This is so important. As graduation nears, like myself, you’ll want to just apply for every job in your field you can find. Before sending out handfuls of resumes and cover letters, make sure you know how to construct one. I took my resume to critiques several times before I finally got any sort of positive feedback. No one likes their work to comes back all marked up in red pen, but trust me it’s worth it for the sake of your resume and future job. A great resume = JOB! Now a cover letter is another story. Make sure you know all the do’s and don’ts. My first few cover letters were a disaster now that I look back on them.


My Advice to Soon-to-Be Grads

  • The job market is slowly, but surely starting to look more promising, but jobs are still scarce or highly competitive. Look at every opportunity that comes your way and don’t rule anything out, even if the opportunity is for a job that is totally unrelated to your degree. You never know where an opportunity now can take you in the future. It’s all about keeping an open mind, a positive outlook and being grateful for any opportunity you can get.
  • Whatever job you land, make sure you do your best to be good at it. Being bitter or constantly complaining about how you aren’t doing what you want to be doing won’t get you anywhere. Learn your job and do it well! I don’t know if I can say this or not, but I graduated with an Advertising and design degree, but currently I’m a corporate buyer. Of course I’m not doing what I thought I’d be doing, but I am doing my best to learn the industry I am currently in and putting 110% into doing my job successfully.
  • Don’t give up on doing what you love. If you’re stuck in some entry level office assistant job for the time being, but you love to write and design then keep doing it! Keep writing and contributing to your portfolio in your free time, attend weekend classes to build up your skills, check out local industry events/conferences (they are usually open to anyone whose interested). When an opportunity you want does come your way you’re ready and have current work to show.  Employers love to see that you still made the time and put in the extra effort to build up your knowledge and skills in what you’re really passionate about. It shows character and motivation and pins you as a go-getter. Just because you aren’t doing what you think you should be doing now doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future.

This is all just my personal opinion from the experiences I had leading up to graduation, during my crazy job hunt, and my life since leaving MSU. I’ve faced a lot of challenges and had some tough decisions to make, but I think my experiences have really taught me a lot about the kind of person I am and have showed me that with some extra work and motivation I am capable of accomplishing anything. Wonderful opportunities will continue to come my way, and your way…It’s all a matter of time, patience, and determination.


Tweeting, Facebooking, Blogging, Networking Your Way to a Job

The other day I was browsing through Twitter when I came across a Tweet (of course now I can’t remember who Tweeted it) asking “Have you gotten a job through social media? If so, share your success story.”  Sounds a little unlikely right? With unemployment still lingering at 9% jobs are either extremely difficult to come across OR you’re competing against 2000 other applicants for the position. Thousands of companies are utilizing social media and tools can be useful in scoping out these job opportunities, connecting to companies/recruiters, and branding yourself.

THE Professional Network: Linkedln

Linkedln is, by far, the best professional social network out there. From it’s easy to navigate interface, to its networking capabilities, Linkedln is a wonderful source for any job seeker to take advantage of. Users are able to create a profile highlighting current and past job experiences, educational background, interests, skills, personal and professional achievements, link to their websites, blogs, or other social media profiles through the home page, and upload a resume. There’s even a place for recommendations from past or current employers and I highly recommend asking for at least one recommendation. Users can also search companies and people to follow. By following a company, you can network with current employees, which can be a great resource for finding, for example, the HR hiring manager, or someone currently holding the position you are interested in. Start a conversation with him/her without initially asking for a job. Do your research and  talk about the company, then after a few back and forth messages you can ask if they know of any opportunities or contacts to direct you to. Company pages often have job postings and useful company news and background info. I also suggest joining groups that you’re interested in. I’m a part of the MSU Alumni Association Linkedln Group where I can partake in discussions between other Alum, reach out for job inquiries, talk about potential opportunities with Alumni in my field, etc. There’s also a box on your profile that says “Jobs you May Be Interested In.” Linkedln is constantly targeting you for jobs based on the info you’ve included in your profile and past searches. Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with these people. It’s all about networking and putting yourself out there.

*Something Extra: When writing up your profile, make sure to optimize it with key words related to your job experience, for example “Media Buyer/Planner.” It might even be a good idea to add your location as well: “Detroit Area Media Buyer/Planner.”

Linkedln also has a service specifically for the hardcore job seekers. Now, of course you have to pay a price to utilize it, but you’ll benefit by being able to directly connect and interact with recruiters.

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet, TWITTER

Twitter, with its enormous, worldwide network of users is a very simple way to network and stumble across job postings and opportunities. Establishing a professional network and finding job leads is easy on Twitter, not only because of its keyword search tool (try typing in a job title and see what pops up!), but also because of your ability to make connections with professionals. First things first! Create a profile by including a picture, short bio and a link to your Linkedln, personal website or blog. Now it’s time to start connecting with all the other Tweeters out there! Follow companies you are interested in, Tweet about relevant topics pertaining to the industry you want to pursue. Run keyword searches that pertain to a job position you might be interested in…this is a great way to find job postings for a specific job title or company and connect with recruiters. Also, if you create #hashtags about your job hunt, you will begin to pop up in other people’s keyword searches and they may be able to offer a hand in your hunt. It’s all about making connections, starting a conversation, and building relationships. I’ve heard about people who had hundreds of connections, Tweeted “Laid off today” and within hours received direct messages from offering new opportunities, all because they took the time to utilize Twitter to it’s fullest potential and establish relationships. Taking the initiative can open doors for you!

* Something Extra: If you’re going to follow all of these companies and industry professionals then keep it clean. Using Twitter to aid in your job search doesn’t mean you can only tweet job-related content all day, but if you are going to occasionally Tweet something personal, keep it clean. Anyone can see your tweets at any time…even a recruiter, and trust me, a recruiter will take the time to read a day’s worth of tweets if he/she is really interested in you.

THE Social Network: Facebook

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world, and with that user base comes many opportunities you can take advantage of.  Many major companies have a Facebook presence now and even small and local business’s are beginning to tap into this social networking giant. With that said, it’s easy to simply search for your dream company and “like” or “become a fan” of their company page. From there you can find company info, job postings, and even start a conversation by posting or commenting.

Another useful job search feature is the ability to search for keywords. For example, say you are a graphic designer, try typing “graphic design” into the search box. Groups you can join and network in will pop up. I suggest joining these groups or at least poking around their pages because there could be some good networking opportunities or additional job opportunities there you may not have come across otherwise.

*Something Extra: I wouldn’t suggest friend requesting current employees or hiring manager of a company you’ve “liked” or “become a fan of” directly because they receive enough emails and applications at work that they don’t want to be bothered by random job seekers on Facebook.

*Something Extra: If you are going to follow a company’s Facebook page make sure your Facebook is clean and professional. If you have pictures you don’t want a recruiter to stumble across take them down, or make them private. Also clean up your wall and info, free from anything inappropriate. Remember, anything and everything on the internet is accessible so be careful of what you post.

The Blog World

Whether you have a personal blog, or just enjoy reading other people’s blogs, they are a wonderful resource for company news and networking opportunities. If you have your own blog, I suggest following company blogs of the companies you’re interested in. Most company blogs have job banks built right in. Subscribe to their blog, then read it and comment. Comment on company blog posts with relevant, thought provoking content. This will show them you are interested in their company and that you are knowledgeable about the work they do and the industry. Make sure your username on your comments links back to your own blog. Someone at the company may just happen to link your comments together with the resume you sent the week before and there you go…a foot in the door!

*Something Extra: I suggest putting links on your personal blog back to your Twitter, Linkedln, personal website, and resume. That way if your blog sparks interest in a company blogger all your info is right there. Also, put the URL of your blog along the top or bottom of your resume.

Technorati has over 130 million blogs. Use that as a resource to search for blogs relevant to your personal and job-related interests and start following those as well…the blogger could be someone at one of the companies you are pursuing.

A blog is a great way to brand yourself and show recruiters what you are interested and knowledgeable in. If you want to use a blog as a job search tool then blog about what you know and what you love! Start your own today through WordPress!


Successful job searches come from people who are consistant with their social media use and those who take the time to build strong networks. Social media is a great way to make connections, start conversations, and show recruiters you are knowledgeable about the industry.

*1 More Thing: I highly suggest linking all of your social media profiles together. If a recruiter only happens to come across one of your profiles you won’t be selling yourself short because links to all the others will be there right in front of them.





The Future of Advertising: Online Video

The other day I was asked what I thought the most influential emerging technology was for advertisers and marketers.

That was a week ago…I think I finally have an answer

Even though online video isn’t a new technology I think it’s one that has advertisers have just recently begun to tap into more. Video advertising will be at the forefront of the online sector this year. This advertising opportunity will prove to be beneficial to media buyers because it contains less clutter, there’s better consumer targeting technology, and a lower cost of production when compared to television.  Online video advertising will also experience massive growth opportunities this year as the shift from offline to online activities continues as well as the explosive growth in mobile and social platforms and formats.

I can see more advertisers utilizing online video for the following reasons (in a nut shell)

  • mobile video will take off
  • branded entertainment and interactive advertising will continue to expand
  • online video can be shared across social media platforms creating even more buzz and video sharing, there’s the potential to target maximum reach on an enormous scale online
  • video search will improve, new online video destinations (other than YouTube) will become accessible to advertisers
  • media buyers may consider moving big budgets online if the consumer potential is greater (ex: to reach young consumers)
  • YouTube will continue to seek out premium brands and advertisers
  • the web will begin to challenge traditional TV and I can say that because I basically watch all my shows online now for lack of time to watch TV
  • real time biding

I’d like to elaborate a bit on what real time bidding is real quick, because I recently just found out myself…

With the recent advancements in broadband and Flash video capabilities, bringing real time video advertising to consumers is more important now then it’s ever been. It’s all about one simple concept…getting the right ad, in front of the right person, at the right time. This is no longer a game of luck: Will that shoe fanatic be on the web when my shoe store banner ad is running along top of yahoo shopper’s homepage. But rather, it’s a game of strategy and defining a target (regional or internet based), then finding that target (IP data parameters), and placing the ad in front of them.  The targeting parameters create impressions and each ad impression is sold to the highest bidder based on who the individual ad is being served to.  An ad buyer, creates a platform or an ad audience (travel, fashion etc), then they can value each opportunity in that audience to buy an impression, in real time. And there you go ladies and gentleman…Local Advertising.

By defining a targeted audience you get the results you want by bidding your ad in real time. Having that targeted audience allows online video advertisers to get better results by bidding their ad, a better ROI, and overall boots success of the ad.

And there we have it. Online Video Advertising…the online advertising of 2011

Talk, Chat, Communicate, Converse…However you say it, IT’S KEY!

With more and more companies investing time and resources into learning how to successfully utilize tools such as facebook and twitter, it’s no doubt that people are really starting to get a hang of the whole social media craze.  Now that companies are tapping into social media to reach consumers these social platforms are becoming a key component in the identify the consumer’s perception of a brand. Gathering consumer insights and behaviors from social media communities is quickly becoming a viable alternative to focus groups. As social media analytics evolve, brands are able to tap directly into consumers behaviors, thoughts, likes and dislikes.  Knowing how to speak the consumer language is more important then ever! Brands who have a social media presence need to actively build a rapport with their consumers in a way that gives consumers the feeling they are being valued and listened to.

Having an active social media presence goes beyond just using social media to promote your brand. From my own observation it seems like a lot of companies are using social media as an ego boost…like a popularity contest. In some cases, it seems to be about who has the most Twitter followers or who has the coolest interactive landing pages, but it goes way beyond that.  A brand’s Twitter or Facebook page is just the first step to achieving social media success. What’s the next step? Communication and building a relationship with your consumers.



You know that old saying, “Communication is key”…well whoever said that was absolutely right! The continuous emergence of various social media channels, from Facebook to Twitter to even Youtube, serves as an outlet for consumers to express their opinions, concerns, and feedback about a brand or product. This serves as an opportunity for the brand to then continue the dialogue with their consumers and create a period of interaction…COMMUNICATION. When a brand takes the time to interact directly with consumers and addressing their comments, it not only creates a personal level on communication (as the brand is addressing each specific consumer individually), but it shows the consumer that the company is actually dedicated to their consumers and isn’t just about the popularity contest I brought up earlier in the post.


Now the question of how to address consumers might arise. How a brand can make their consumers feel valued can manifest itself in several strategic ways…digital, branding, and conversation engagement.  The brand could respond to a consumer comment as simply and quickly as a Twitter or Facebook reply, or get as fancy as a as digital video response, direct emails, or targeted mobile ads.  A study by 360i found that 43% of tweets are conversational “@ replies” and 24% are conversational status updates and comments on Facebook.


Let’s take a look at some companies and brands who know how to converse with their consumer. Companies, such as Meijer, Kodak, and Best Buy, utilize direct communication to address consumer concerns and comments via Twitter or Faceook. These 3 brands are wonderful at communicating with as many consumers as they can. If you look on their pages you can see that if a consumer asks a question or addresses a concern, there is a response from the company.  Some responses offer advice, other product info or coupons.

Sometimes brands are caught in a sticky situation and have to find a way to address negative consumer comments. That’s where good PR and analyzing the situation and the best way to handle it come into play. A good example of this is how Groupon will address all the negative feedback from their Super Bowl commercial. This PR pro has some insight on that. This is the simplest way to communicate with consumers and let them know you really care.


It’s a simple fact that when brands and companies communicate it’s a win-win for everyone.

  • Consumers feel valued and are more likely to establish a brand loyalty
  • Brands, products or services have a change to engage in conversation to promote  and brand themselves, get a message across, address consumers concerns/opinions/satisfactions, and learn from their consumers.

Social media conversation is a way for brands avoid bombarding consumers with irrelevant messages because they are starting a discussion about specific things at a specific time. KEEP IT RELEVANT! The ability to sustain a meaningful dialogue with a consumer is a way to study consumer behavior and a significant way for marketers to capitalize and learn from the 2 way conversation!

2011 Brand Bowl. The Super Bowl Ad Breakdown

In between obnoxiously rooting for the Packers and covering my ears during the Black Eyed Peas half time show, I was parked on the couch, making sure to not miss a single commercial break. Some were memorable and touching, other hilarious and totally off the wall, and then there was a handful on those “what the heck?” and “wait what were they advertising?” commercials.

Here are a few of the good and the not so good

My Super Bowl Favorites:

  1. We have a winner! Hands down, the best commercial goes to Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” 2 minute spot. Funny commercials can get their point across in 30 seconds, the 60 second spots make an impression, but the 2 minute commercials either leave you totally confused and irritated and completely moved, like this commercial did. Literally, within 10 seconds of the commercial airing, Twitter and Facebook blew up with positive feedback from Chrysler’s ode to Detroit featuring the Grammy winning rapper, and Detroit native, Eminem. Chrysler took a brilliant and chilling approach to this spot by paying homage to the motor city, king of the auto making industry, and its attempts at reviving itself from economical struggles to a great American city once again. Featuring Eminem and his hit song “Lose Yourself” was yet another brilliant addition to the spot that gave the audience goose bumps. No celebrity could have been a better fit for this commercial then Eminem, who has recently made a powerful comeback himself. Adding the Fox Theater in the end was a touch of true Detroit spirit. The only slight downside was that I almost forgot what the commercial was selling, but maybe that was the point? Maybe the American auto maker was pinpointing a greater theme…a city in need of repair and support. The tagline “Imported from Detroit” was perfect as well. In fact, it became a Twitter #hashtag that millions have already Tweeted. This one will go down as one of the great!
  2. Volkswagon “The Force”: Volkswagon has done it again with another quirky commercial that left the audience cracking up. The Star Wars music and child in the Darth Vader commercial was enough to get my attention. Volkswagon actually leaked the commercial prior to the game via YouTube, so the commercial gained a lot of buzz prior to the big game with 13 million views and over 60,000 likes and was a highly Tweeted ad among the #brandbowl hashtag. The mini Darth Vader dashing around the house was cute enough, but the ah-ha moment at the end was truly perfect. I’d love to give a giant high-five to the creative team on this one. Watch it here!
  3. Doritos “Revive from the Dead”: Doritos always manages to have those absurd commercials, especially during the Super Bowl, and this year’s spots were no different.  At the end of this spot I found myself saying “What the heck” and laughing at the same time, so I guess it’s worth a spot in my top commercials. There was something about the house guest who fails at fulfilling his house sitting duties of feeding the fish, then sprinkling Doritos crumbs in the tank to revive it that makes for a pretty funny concept. Then to top of the ridiculousness he knock over his friends vase with grandpa’s ashes…so what does he do? He sprinkles Doritos crumbs in with the ashes and POOF. Grandpa’s alive! Outrageous! Check it out here.
  4. The Bridgestone “Carma”: This commercial was actually pretty darn funny. I think the message was clear and the product was clearly identified…”it’s Bridgestone or nothing” Who doesn’t love a friendly beaver?! How cute is he?
  5. The NFL “Best Fans Ever”: This well done, family friendly, ad featured classic TV stars sporting NFL team gear. From the cast of the Happy Days to Jerry Seinfeld ricking a Buffalo Bills sweatshirt this was a very creative approach in getting the message out. What do you think?

Now for the not so good commercials:

  1. Groupon “Tibet”: Well, I don’t think Groupon can expect to take off in China any time soon. The first half of the add seemed like it was going to be an ad for a Tibet charitable organization, as we hear “The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy” and then it cuts to “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry.” EXCUSE ME??!! This was the case of attempted humor falling flat. Internet users went nuts just seconds after the ad aired and the Twitter tag #failedgrouponcommericals was the hot topic of conversation. The company’s CEO, Andrew Mason, said the ad wasn’t meant to be offensive and called it a spoof on typical celebrity public service announcements. Apparently America, and China, didn’t take it that way. FAIL.
  2. “Ministry of Detourism”: I’m not sure that a baby, fake or not, being splattered against a class window was the best approach for this one. It was just a mishmash of random stuff that never really seemed to add up to an effective message 
  3. Pepsi Max “First Date”: So, Pepsi Max aired several new ads throughout the game and some were funny (in a violent kind of way) and others were just weird. “First Date” falls in the weird category. First of all, it didn’t seem to fit in with the theme other commercials (the jogger and the lumber yard), down to the style of the camera shooting. It’s like it was it’s own single spot campaign. It looked like one of those low budget, Five Hour Energy commercials.
  4. Go Daddy “The Contract”: I’ve always been annoyed with these. They are all the same. I do give them credit though for their 4th quarter spot with  GoDaddy Girls Danica Patrick and celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels because they ended the commercial by urging viewers to visit to see more the web version of the suggestive commercial. They reported to have had a 466% increase surge in traffic within the 15 minutes following the commercial.
  5. Sketchers “Break up 2 shape up”: This doesn’t make me want to buy sketchers. Since when did tennis shoes turn into a sexual reference? That’s all I have to say about that.

Brands Go Social for the Super Bowl

As the mother of all TV programming approaches, yep that’s right the 2011 Super Bowl, marketers are utilizing more than the $3 million 30 second TV spot. With social media campaigns backing most major brands, this year social and digital media will be a game changer for Super Bowl ad campaigns. The brands that think they can only rely on “let’s do a Facebook contest” won’t stand a chance against the innovative social media approaches some brands are carrying out.

Two of the leading brands in this Super Bowl social media craze are Mercedes and Audi. Both have unveiled high-profile social media contests with prizes to die for. So what do you have to do to win an exhilarating R8 drive at the Audi sports car experience in Sonoma, California or a brand new Mercedes-Benz ? You have to be the best at using social media to socially and digitally tout the foreign brands before and during the big game.

Let’s take a closer look at these’s brand’s tactics:

Mercedes-Benz: They launched “The World’s First Twitter-Fueled Race” (catchy copy). The contest will award 2 new cars to a pair of social media geniuses. The team that garners the most Mercedes tweets, Facebook “likes” and other social media and digitally related instances by game day WINS! Sounds like a pretty good deal to me…tweet away people!

Audi: Audi’s approach is aimed at saying goodbye to old luxury and hello to Progressive luxury. Their contest, “The Audi Prgressive Luxury Trade Up” Twitter contest invites people to compete for the most creative definition of Progressive Luxury by including the hashtag #Progressls and the URL in their tweets. The top 10 tweets are awarded old luxury prizes with a chance to trade up to new luxury prizes. The grand prize is R8 drive at the Audi sportscar experience in Sonoma, California where winners will enjoy the ultimate in progressive luxury and a $25,000 donation by Audi in their name. The hashtag will also make an appearance in Audi’s 60 second game day commercial, making social media history.

Both these social media campaigns are innovative, exciting and successful at getting consumers involved in the action. I’m excited to see the winning results.

Facebook Finding Missing Children

Facebook is now exploring ways to be a part of the emergency broadcast system. The social networking giant recently teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Users can now sign up for AMBER alert, allowing them to be informed when a child goes missing in the state he or she resides in. So far 53 AMBER pages have been set, one for each of the 50 state in addition to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Here’s how it works: Each state has its own Facebook AMBER alert page which will alert page fans about the missing child once the police department receives and enters the information and posts it to the page. The fan pages will contain the missing child’s picture, name, age, a description and any other information that may be useful to the case. The company has actively been working with state and local agencies to help create the pages and insure their upkeep and accuracy and to maximize their full potential.

Although the idea of linking missing person reports to social networking sites isn’t a new one, Facebook has taken it to a new level. Myspace had an AMBER alert app years ago and Twitter accounts related to missing persons bulletins have been credited with locating missing children, but with Facebook’s 500 million users the alert potential is much greater and Facebook’s user base is now much more diverse.

The Facebook alert system has made sure not to alert just any random user, much like how the radio and TV broadcast systems operate, but rather only those who have opted in to the alerts by “liking” an AMBER alert page. Facebook wants to make sure that the people using the alert system are those that believe in it’s purpose and will actively help spread the alerts virally by posting in on their walls, status, or to other social networking sites like Twitter.

The AMBER alert website claims that so far, 525 children have been recovered as a result of the Facebook pages. The site also states that the first 3 hours a child goes missing in the most critical and using social media is proving to be an effective tool in spreading the alert at a rapid rate.

Facebook said they will be donating 50 million advertising impressions to help publicize this new system and its important cause. If the system’s success continues, the Facebook – AMBER alert partnership could serve as a model for state’s and the government in alerting people of other emergencies in the future.

I think this partnership is a wonderful step in using social media for a greater good. It creates awareness of the emergency quickly and gives hope for finding more missing children quicker.