Social media siesta

Monday, June 7th, 2010

daydreamer 3

Originally uploaded by little_olenka

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been a bit M.I.A. from the online social scene lately. There have been some corners where I’ve been intentionally absent (like Twitter) and others where I just have no excuse (ahem, this blog).

While I don’t have a reason for my negligence of this blog, I can explain (or at least try to explain) my holding back on Twitter and other sites.

For the past year and a half I’ve made a strong effort to be very present in the social media scene for means of connecting, learning, and building my personal brand. The time spent doing this has been a great experience. But it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s taken a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how I could make social media really work for me professionally.

When I started this blog, I think that was my initial goal: to create a space for myself that helped me fit in the Twin Cities communications and social media communities. And since my first post, I’ve started to develop a focus, a (small) readership, and a better understanding of who I am as a professional as well as brand. I’ve started to find my groove.

So what do you do when you realize you don’t fit with the brand you created for yourself anymore?

I’m certainly not a changed woman, but like any other 20-something, I’m continually figuring out who I am and what my interests are. Which means I have to somehow figure out how to make my brand able to evolve with me.

This does not sit well with my uber Capricorn-like tendencies to plan everything out in advance. And I think that has strongly contributed to my step back from social media lately.

A lot has gone on personally and professionally for me in the past few months. I’ve made new friendships, developed new career interests, and rediscovered some passions I’ve put on hold for some time. All good things.

After being so active online for a while, and with all the things going on in real time, it got to be a little much. Being constantly submersed in all that chatter can be exhausting sometimes. I needed to take a short rest from it all.

Social media is great and can be a powerful tool. My stance on that has not changed. And I have no plans to walk away from it. (If I had any plans of advancing career-wise, that’d be a bad choice). But, I think like anything you become so immersed in and passionate about so quickly, it’s sometimes best to distance yourself from it a bit and reevaluate how it’s working with your overall plan.

So, as of now, I’m making an effort to be more of an observer of social media while exploring new avenues and opportunities for myself. You might start to see some changes around here, too. Hopefully it will just be another part of this constant learning experience.

Kapeesh? See ya out there!

Hey YPCTCers: Would you invest $50 toward the future of high-quality journalism?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

The following is a guest post from my friend and peer, Julie Warner. Julie is the marketing assistant at Warners’ Stellian Appliance and part of a fundraising committee for I am happy to have her use this space to talk about an exciting opportunity for Young Professional Communicators – Twin Cities and MinnPost’s annual MinnRoast fundraiser.


The risk of posing this question is that many of you young professionals might not. Maybe because you financially cannot. Or perhaps you welcome ”The Biggest Loser”-type elimination of news staff we’re seeing in response to their failing current business models online and the denigration of coverage that follows. Worse yet, you fit the apathetic Gen-Y stereotype.

Young people especially have become acclimated to getting information online for free, but you get what you pay for, right?

So when you don’t pay, what do you get? Dwindling professional watchdogs able to spend their time watching and online coverage more effective in motivating “clicks” than public awareness, to name just a couple.

Or at least that’s my experience.

“Someone has to solve this crisis,” I remember thinking countless times at my own desk in a Wisconsin newsroom, hearing staffers bet on how many hits we’d get off the latest salacious headline and unabashed gallows humor. “Someone has to try something new.”

MinnPost is trying something new: a nonprofit journalism website. And we’re talking dedicated, high-quality journalism.

It’s serious stuff. But MinnPost’s annual fundraiser, MinnRoast, is anything but.

Local politicians and journalists will be on hand (or should I say on the chopping block?) for satirical skits and songs at the Pantages Theatre Monday, April 26. (See videos from last year’s MinnRoast; scroll way down the page: In respect to our young professional salaries (or nonsalaries.), MinnPost created a special $50 ticket price to members of YPCTC who purchase in groups of eight. I can’t think of a better place for a young professional communicator to network and support a cause so closely tied to our own professions.

You’ll be joined by about 1,000 other news-loving movers and shakers, many involved in news, communications and politics themselves.

If I didn’t have you at “satire,” perhaps this word will move you: food. Heavy hors d’oeuvres from Seven and a free signature cocktail for the first 500 attendees will be provided at the preshow reception. (I’ll be hanging by the cash bar, myself.) And we’ll head back for free dessert and coffee once the curtain closes. Suggestions for the YPCTC afterparty now being accepted.

If you’re interested in reserving a spot with the YPCTC group, please e-mail me at, or if you can’t spell that URL (your e-mail won’t bounce back if you do, be forewarned), DM @YPCTC.

Facebook way back when…

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

After having a Facebook account since it’s birth back in 2004, I’ve experienced first hand it’s evolution and integration into our everyday lives. And it’s kind of funny to think back to when people were just starting to hear about what it was.

I was visiting a friend in Chicago over break who’s friend from the University of Iowa introduced us to the site. She showed us how you could look people up at your school, see who their friends were, what classes they were taking, etc. Fascinating! It was like a more exclusive, mature, and less spammy looking version of MySpace.

It was an exciting day when Marquette was included in the network. (Because back then, your school had to get approved by the Facebook team which left many schools out for a while.)

The layout of the site has had too many makeovers to keep count. Remember the days when you had the ability to edit a friend’s entire wall? It was more like a whiteboard. If you wanted, you could erase and put anything you wanted in that space. And how annoying would it be when someone actually did that? You would get e-mails saying something like, “Someone has updated your wall.”

Or how about when status updates were introduced? I remember resisting them because I thought the idea of letting people know what I was doing was “too stalkerish.” That didn’t last long.

It wasn’t until the photo sharing tool, in my opinion, totally changed the game of Facebook. I was excited I could get rid of all my Web Shots albums and be able to upload my pictures into one place. And when “tagging” photos was integrated, I think that was when Facebook really grew on the social end. It was exciting to share photos and experiences with friends back home in Minnesota.

For all of you who have been on Facebook as long as I have, how weird was it to start seeing your professors with accounts? I think that was the first time I started to realize that I whatever I posted could have a real influence – in a good or bad way. I couldn’t help but think, “Okay, is this something I’d want my professor to read?”

And talk about the social dilemmas that started to form. Suddenly there was proof online of what people did on the weekends. You could visually see who people hung out with and what they did on their own time. The effects were positive and negative for some. I remember hearing about friends breaking up or getting into fights with one another because of something posted on Facebook and thinking that was just ridiculous. How could you let some online procrastination tool get into the way of a relationship?

My how far Facebook has come. It has now evolved to a point where it’s weird for someone not to have a Facebook account. And now there’s chat, business fan pages, applications, real time updates, and extreme privacy settings. You can basically make Facebook whatever you want it to be.

What are your memories of Facebook from way back when? Can you remember instances when it first started to impact your social or online activity?

Blog slacking and other good reads

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I’ll admit it. I’ve been seriously slacking on my blog posts. Instead of giving a list of excuses why I haven’t had time to update, I’m going to send you straight to a blog I’ve discovered recently that is definitely worth checking out.

I’m ditching the “Blog of the Week” feature I started here a couple months ago. It just wasn’t working for me. But I am going to continue to highlight blogs I find particuarly full of awesome sauce.

So on this fine Friday, I give you Dennis Jansen.

He is a second year law student at the University of Minnesota living in Minneapolis. In his posts you’ll find a hilarious take on what it’s like to be a law student, live with two dogs, and experience everyday culture in the city. His writing is smart, entertaining, and a tad provocative.

I don’t think I could ever go to law school. The thought gives me anxiety, actually. Yet I can still find myself wrapped up in his posts about conversations with professors, library shenanigans, and his interest in tax law. Now, to me, that’s the sign of a good blogger.

I also can’t help but love hearing about his weekends. He’s usually up to something interesting. (Maybe this is a sign I should get out more?)

So go check out his blog or give him some love on Twitter. And let me know if you think his dogs are as cute as I think they are - even if they do destroy his cell phones…

A YPCTC wrap-up

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Two days after the first Young Professional Communicators – Twin Cities event and I’m still on a high from how well it went.

Great location. Green Mill in Uptown was a perfect spot to kick off our first event. The banquet room was set up beautifully and our server, Michael, was working hard to bring drinks and food to over 40 people that came through. Special thanks to Jess for helping coordinate everything with Green Mill. I would love to have another YPCTC event there in the future.

Great prizes. Who doesn’t like free stuff? A $25 Green Mill gift card was donated along with two tickets to the U of M vs. Colorado College hockey game on February 19. Another shout out goes to Batteries R Us for donating the tickets (thanks, Dad!).

And most importantly, great people. I was pleasantly overwhelmed with how many people showed up. But even more so, I was so happy to watch people make new connections and offer advice to those looking to get started in communications. To be really cheesy, it warmed my heart. And it only confirmed how great of a community we have here in the Twin Cities.

If you haven’t seen them already, check out the Metromix site for pictures from the event. There are also a few more posted on the Facebook page.

Thank you to everyone who offered advice and helped promote YPCTC’s first event. I’m excited to continue working towards building this community. And stay tuned for information on another event happening next month!

Young Professional Communicators – Twin Cities event

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Mark your calendars!

Based on the response from previous posts, a date has been set for a get together and networking opportunity for young professionals in the communications industry here in the Twin Cities. The idea is to give those starting out in their careers an opportunity to connect with others in the same boat and learn about all areas of communications.

Wednesday, January 13th – 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Green Mill – Uptown (banquet room)
2626 Hennepin, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Happy hour specials will be offered until 7:00 p.m. which include:

$2.50 Classic Drafts
$2.50 House Wine
$2.50 Rail Drinks
$1.00 Off Preffered and Superior Drafts
$4.99 Appetizers

Wednesday Daily Drink: $3.00 ABSOLUT (selected) All Day Long

For all you Twitter people who want to start a conversation around this, let’s try using the hashtag #YPCTC for Young Professional Communicators – Twin Cities.

Please feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested – the more the merrier!

This is sure to be a fun night and I’m looking forward to connecting with so many of you.

And thank you to the ever-so-helpful Jess for helping coordinate this with Green Mill :-)

Blog of the Week – Sydney Owen: Unfiltered

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Sydney OwenThis week I decided to talk about the girl who really got me turned on to blogging in the first place. Though she’s not from Minnesota, she is a close neighbor living in Chicago. And her blog is too good not to share – regardless of where she’s from!

Sydney Owen is the author of Sydney Owen: Unfiltered which I have read religiously for a number of months now. I think what has made her so intriguing to me is that we have a lot of basic things in common. She’s my age, she works in public relations, she loves to network and integrate social media into her personal and professional life.

I first started reading her blog when it was called Sydney Owen: On New Media. Her focus was her documenting her progress towards landing an internship (and then full-time job) in public relations. She was basically doing everything I was trying to do – except better.

Along the way, she wrote about the risks she took, the people she met, and the things she learned that would ultimately lead her to accomplish what she set out to do. It has been really fun to watch her learn and grow through her blog.

After reading her posts for so long, it got to a point where I thought, “Okay, this girl is smart. Why am I not following in her footsteps?” And that’s when I decided I might want to take a stab at blogging myself.

Now that Sydney is working in the big leagues as an Assistant Account Executive at Weber Shandwick in Chicago, her blogging has taken a slightly different focus as well as a whole new name.

On Sydney Owen: Unfiltered, she still writes about some of her original topics (I mean, they’re all still an integral part of her life!), but now she’s taken a more personal approach to her writing. While slightly different, I still love her writing style and getting to know a different side of Sydney.

Sydney is definitely one of those people I can expect to make it big in this industry. I mean, she’s already found herself on a speaking panel at 2010’s SXSW convention in Texas. Not to mention her blog is wildly popular and generates about 500 comments per post (okay maybe not that many – but a lot!). And she’s only 24. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Her writing is smart, sassy, and innovative. She is full of great insight that someone just starting out can really relate to. That’s why I’d encourage any college student or young professional to follow her blog.

Great posts:

SXSW – My trip to self-discovery – part one

How to: Find a Mentor

From A to B: Part Four – network your face off

Young Professional Communicators Group: Update

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Based on my last post and much feedback on Twitter, it looks like there is enough interest to organize a meet up for Young Professional Communicators in the Twin Cities. This would be open to anyone interested in public relations, marketing, advertising, journalism, or other form of communications.

I’m currently in the process of figuring out a date and place for this to happen. But it will most likely take place on a weekday during a happy hour time frame.

I realize there are other great groups out there that have a similar focus, but I haven’t come across one that caters to all three criteria:

  • Young professionals in the Twin Cities
  • Communications industry
  • Free and casual meeting time/space

With that said, I’m very excited to see how this all pans out and would love any advice from those who have put something like this together.

If you’re interested in making sure you know when the first meet up will be, send me an e-mail and I’ll add you to a list. Otherwise check back here or follow me on Twitter.


Young Professional Twin Cities Communicators: Potential Networking Group?

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

This post is primarily directed towards the 20-somethings in the Twin Cities working, or trying to work, in communications. I’d love your feedback on this so please feel free to comment or shoot me an e-mail.

I’ve been on a major networking kick recently and started to think about how many awesome connections I’ve made in the last few months.  I’ve met and talked with people from a wide range of industries that have helped me both professionally and personally. I really wish I had started to do this sooner.

So it got me thinking about groups of people that I want to meet but haven’t yet. And the biggest group I could think of were people like me. People who work in communications and are in the beginning stages of their careers. It seems to me that there isn’t really a venue to connect with other young professionals in the Twin Cities who are interested in public relations, journalism, marketing, advertising, or communications.

I know there are groups like PRSA and IABC – both hugely popular associations that I hope to be a part of real soon. But the thing with those are that they aren’t cheap to join and they aren’t directly focused on the young professional. Don’t get me wrong, being a part of a group with seasoned vets in your industry is wildly appealing and beneficial on so many levels.

But right now, I’d love to hear how others my age are doing professionally when it comes to job searching, dealing with timely issues, learning about agency vs. corporate life, etc.

What could be the benefits of a group like this? Meeting people, of course. But also learning about the different corners of communications. Public relations, journalism, marketing, and advertising people work together all the time in the real world. Wouldn’t it be nice to establish relationships with people in those fields now and make our lives easier in the future?

So my question to all you young Twin Cities communicators: Would a group with a focus like this be appealing to you?

Maybe there’s a group already out there that I’ve completely missed. If that’s the case – please let me know!

But if not, would people be interested in figuring out a time and place to meet? I’m thinking on a weekday for a happy hour-ish thing?

If there’s enough interest, I’m willing to organize something and get back to those people. So please comment, tweet, or e-mail me any feedback, ideas, or suggestions! 

Thanks, peeps. :-)

My first Social Media Breakfast

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

This post was originally written on September 25, 2009 after my first Social Media Breakfast. SMBMSP was started as a small network of people who got together once a month to talk all things social media. After 19 months it has attracted hundreds of followers around the Twin Cities who vie for the chance to snag one of the limited number of conference tickets each month. To learn more about SMBMSP, visit  

September 25, 2009 – 

Today I went to my first Social Media Breakfast (SMBMSP19) held at the Brookdale Library (beautiful space, by the way). I’ve been wanting to go the last few months but for one reason or another my plans to attend fell through. Luckily, this month I had the lovely Julie Warner by my side to motivate me to get my butt up early and finally make it there. We went together as SMBMSP newbies and I’m so glad we did!

For one, it was cool to finally meet people I’ve interacted with over Twitter and put a face to an avatar IRL. (Side note: I love acronyms. IRL is my new favorite. Try it.) I quickly realized the networking potential this group has to offer. So many interesting people in one room! I probably could have put myself out there and mingled a little more, but hey – it was my first time and I was a little nervous. Next time I’ll try harder.

Anyways, there were a lot of cool topics brought up, and you can listen to all of them as a podcast here. One point in particular really stood out to me as a recent grad on the trek to establish myself in the PR world. Either someone on the microphone or Twitter said company high-ups automatically look to Gen-Y employees to take on social media strategy – and this is not always smart. Why? Young people are too scared to say what they think.

I feel in some aspects this is true. Especially when Gen-Y new hires are expected to be the voice of the company. For example, fresh out of college I was fortunate enough to land a PR job at a local book publisher. One of my duties was to manage the social media accounts for each client. This was exciting because I like to write and love social media. But then a fear set in: How am I supposed to be the voice of the company when I only know the basics about publishing? The pressure to not sound stupid or say something wrong definitely started to take effect and I could see myself holding back and second-guessing everything I started to put out in the social media world.

I think this is a big issue companies need to think about when it comes to who takes on the social media strategies for their clients. Gen-Y definitely knows what’s up when it comes to social media and new technology, that’s old news. But how well can they be trusted to be the voice of your brand using all those tools? The solution, I think, lies within upper-management and entry level integration. The person behind the tweets needs to know what’s going on at all levels. Bring your Gen-Y’ers to meetings, create a mentorship program, encourage attending networking and industry events. The better they understand the world they’re working in, the better effect they will have on your social media branding. 

For any management people who somehow stumbled upon this blog, how have you been deciding who manages your social media accounts? And Gen-Y peeps, how have you been taking steps to make your voice cohesive with that of your company?

So my first Social Media Breakfast was great. I am fortunate enough to be one of the lucky few (and Master of the Refresh button) to get a ticket for SMBMSP20 at Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul on October 30. Looks like an awesome panel discussion will be set up to talk about social media and journalism. Are you going to be there? Let me know! I didn’t meet nearly as many people as I wanted to last month. Until then…

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