Email Etiquette

Public Relations is all about communication, which is why those who intend to pursue PR careers study and take an in-depth look at people’s behavior and interactions with others. In the growing age of technology, we still engage in the same behavior and interactions, just in different ways. Email is one of the main forms of communication that has proven to be trustworthy overtime.

 

An email is a classic way to introduce an individual to a reporter, potential employer, brand ambassador, or onboarding client. Many take a step further by calling or meeting in person after initial contact. For now, review these tips and tricks to ensure your emails are successful and professional:

 

  • Be friendly: When opening or closing an email, it takes an extra few seconds to type “I hope you’re doing well!” or “Enjoy your weekend!”. These brief statements are an easy way to leave the reader in a more amicable mood. “Please” and “thank you” are also valuable assets, but don’t overdo it. Even in thank-you notes, don’t use the phrase “thank you” more than twice. Once at the beginning and once at the end is enough.
  • Be transparent: In the subject line and email, be clear about what you are emailing about. This makes it easier on both parties, so no one has to wade through inarticulate language or send more emails back and forth to clarify. Especially when sending pitches, subjects lines and emails need to be coherent and consistent to save time and to develop the relationship between you and the client (which hopefully ends with your pitch used as a press release).
  • Be succinct: PR is typically time sensitive and, chances are, if you have a pitch, there are a plethora of competing pitches already sitting in your recipient’s inbox. Don’t drag out your emails; a few short paragraphs will typically suffice. People will appreciate your brevity, so long as you hit all the points you need to cover. Quality over quantity every time!
  • Use the right signoff: Did you just say “thank you”? Then don’t sign off with “thanks”. “Best”, “sincerely”, or sometimes just your name can work just as well. If you’re sending a more casual email to coworkers about an upcoming event, feel free to be more casual and go with a hearty “cheers”. Read your audience, and understand boundaries.
  • Include your signature: A default signature is a great way to cut down on your email content, and eliminates the need to write out your phone number out every time there is a follow-up email. A signature with your position, company, phone number, and even a link to your LinkedIn profile are great resources for other individuals. It also adds that extra bit of professionalism and ethos to your email.
  • Check your spelling and grammar: Use spell check, read your email out loud and use outside apps to check your writing. With so many options to check your work, it’s easy to take a minute to ensure your work is correct. Another thing to look out for: how often you use exclamation points. Unless you just accepted a job offer (and sometimes even then), limit your exclamation points to sentences that really need that extra boost.
  • Check your attachments: Yes, naturally check your spelling and grammar, but also check your attachments. Are they confidential? Is your sender correct? Does the hyperlink work? Many companies have switched over to using cloud backups, and now send important files by way of Dropbox to ensure user privacy. This way, the links can be timed, and access can be revoked at any time.
  • Put the sender in last: By typing in your recipient after you type the email, you can avoid accidentally sending your message before it is finished. However, even if you do, Google has up to a 30 second “undo send” option in its settings. For those using templates through HubSpot or similar software, that require you to input a sender before constructing the email, consider putting in your own email. This way, even if the email is prematurely sent , it won’t do any harm.
  • Follow-up: Speaking of HubSpot, many tech services offer tracking and monitoring for emails sent and opened. This is helpful when constructing follow-up emails, as it allows you to tailor the email to the amount of information the recipients need. And, if the recipient gets back to you, make sure to respond as soon as possible, typically within 24 hours.

 

Emails can be annoying to send, but they are crucial when initiating potential relationships and have the ability to reach a large audience with just a few clicks. Knowing how to confidently and successfully send a professional email will help make your life easier in the long run, especially for students going on co-op.

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As Seen On Instagram

A picture is worth a thousand words. Cliche, but words to live by for the real estate world. Home buyers and renters alike typically visit many places before deciding where to live. Much of the decision process is based on aesthetics: from cleanliness and style to color and the exterior architecture.

And the rate at which we take in these staged first impressions is becoming a much more rapid vortex, with the often fabricated descriptions an attempt to draw a larger audience. With the ever present millennials who all want a home but can’t afford them, it’s no wonder Instagram has gained popularity as a marketing platform, especially in the residential real estate sector.

An Instagram “like” translates into an important key to your information: valuable intelligence on your consumer base, real-time data on what content is popular, customer engagement, and, eventually, sales. On Instagram, followers are synonymous with brand loyalty, whereas “likes” represent content approval, and comments a snapshot of customer engagement.

Instagram’s features make it easy for businesses to be involved on what is considered a more casual and fun social networking app through accessible customer awareness and interaction. Hashtags, mentions, tags, locations and comments allow for efficient quantitative data on how to attract new individuals and gain a following.

Users can search hashtags, which pull up photos with captions including said hashtag. They then show up in lists according to “most recent” and “most liked”, allowing the user to quickly see what is timely and relevant for them. Just as easily, the company can search hashtags to find competitors. Mentions, tags, and location allow customers to gain a shoutout on your account, or vice versa. Clicking on a location immediately brings you to a page filled with other posts from the same location.

Gaining features on other accounts, direct messaging, and contests serve as other sources of communication. Niche or popular accounts create a valuable opportunity to showcase your brand or building, and through this usually free promotion, see other types of accounts and their success through past posts. Direct messaging boasts an easy method for current and potential customers to immediately get in contact, and contests can encourage followers to promote your company on their own account. With a low opportunity cost, winners can receive some small form of compensation, while the company has now received free PR and content to then use later.

Real estate is an extremely visual field that, by replicating the intimate feeling of a potential home through a screen, provides an economically beneficial marketing opportunity. Print ads have a shorter reach, even if it is an effective tactic, but it has a steep price. By turning online media into an essential form of promotion, a larger market can be accumulated, transforming “likes” into deals, and those carefully selected deals into lasting residencies.

 

Ad Placement in the New Internet

Advertisements may seem like an irritant, but they are (unsurprisingly) imperative to the companies that utilize them. Advertisements are tailored to different demographics of consumers in an attempt to ensnare their target market. This can entail language used, both the terminology and the dialect, as well as content and the location of the ad.

 

Recently, advertisement placement has been the topic of controversy. Google’s algorithm — one of the key factors to the rise of Google — tracks user clicks and web pages visited. The data collected allows the algorithm to place advertisements on sites that the user has previously visited. However, this method affects more than just the consumer; some companies do not want their advertisements to be featured on websites with certain content. Some of the content in question includes hate speech, racial and anti-Semitic sentiment, or heavily-slanted political commentary.

 

Because the algorithm does not yet possess the flexibility to exclude websites based on content when determining ad placement, many major companies that use the service have backed out, including AT&T and Verizon. YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, faces a similar problem, and advertisers are pulling out their business due to their ads shown before or during controversial or discriminatory videos.

 

There will not be a quick fix for this issue. Flagging problematic words might be easy enough, but subtext, connotations, and statements can create derogatory messages without using the contentious words. Additionally, flagging words can arguably interfere with free speech and deny some websites access to a larger audience base through Google’s services due to improper characterization of content.

 

The larger issue at hand comes from the recent repeal of online privacy measures. While any given individual never had much privacy to begin with, the Federal Communication Commission’s rules created protections against reporting an individual’s information to companies without their permission. The absence of these rules provides an advantageous opportunity for companies to access the spread of information, as well as create and use more specifically targeted ads. Businesses looking to more accurately target potential customers benefit from the change. On the other hand, it creates increasingly transparent channels for the distribution of consumer information. The security measures that used to monitor the flow of information to companies is now almost non-existent.

 

As individuals and consumers, what can we do? For the most part, be aware that advertisements are targeted at you, and do not necessarily approve of the content of the website they appear on. To create a little more privacy online, a virtual private network can be obtained.

 

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Can’t Catch ‘Em All

Copyright law can be tricky to follow, especially with large fan bases of popular entertainment companies. Nintendo recently had to address copyright infringement with it’s Pokemon franchise. A few fans of the game created their own spinoff game featuring new Pokemon they invented. But they also included already existing Pokemon. Due to its widespread popularity and free distribution, it quickly became an issue not just legally, but socially as well. Nintendo, in these situations, is very unlikely to receive monetary compensation from filing a lawsuit, but it serves to help control the fan made and widely spread games, and Pokemon’s branding. Typically, though, large companies perceive fanart to be a positive, and free, way to promote their product. In this case, it was on too large of a scale, with just too much similarity to be ignored.

To read a bit more about the case, click here. To learn about the evolution of the copyright law, and how Mickey Mouse affected it, click here.

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Stealing Snapchat and Other Tech News

snapchatSnap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat,  announced that their IPO occurred this past Wednesday, March 1st with a positive response.  While Snap Inc. may appear to be taking the world by storm with its filters and geotags, this IPO is important to determine the path of growth the company can take, as it allows for a one time influx of income. A successful IPO means technology improvements, leading to not only a better app, but better products as the company expands. In addition, this is one more way to secure their spot in the market, but one company may be stealing the spotlight, and the stories.

Facebook has recently introduced Instagram Stories, which also feature 24 hour posts, filters, text, and now Boomerang, a feature that shows few frames of a video playing and rewinding on a loop. The international social media giant has also introduced “Status”, a feature similar to Stories, on Whatsapp. Whatsapp is a free messenger service owned by Facebook and widely used by student-aged demographics all over the world, particularly with individuals who have international relations. This new feature shares strong similarities Instagram and Snapchat stories; pictures, videos, and GIFS can be sent, only to disappear after 24 hours. However, like the rest of Whatsapp, the Status feature is also encrypted.

For Snapchat, a strong company with a comparable product means that competition will be fierce on an international level,  while Snapchat is still only starting to penetrate countries outside of the United States. Facebook is reported to have approximately 1.86 billion monthly users, with only a mere 167 million being from the US and Canada, as compared to Snap Inc’s 301 million users monthly, of which 68 million are from North America. Instagram and Whatsapp already have large user bases that actively follow social media influencers- negating the need for another, comparable service.

The rapid pace of growth and innovation at companies like Facebook make investing in Snapchat a potentially high-risk investment. Recent news reports that the stocks available are Class A and are worth $17 a share; these would be available to investors, but those who own Class A stock have limited power in corporate decisions. It is likely that stockholders who are worried will have no direct say in the company, which can make the stock a less appealing purchase for those interested in investing in the self-titled camera company.

The sale of these stocks is crucial, as Snap Inc. needs the revenue for contracts with major companies such as Google and Amazon. Facebook’s recent influx of features on their different platforms emphasize its influence over the social media industry. Yet, Snap Inc. is confident in its ability to perform, especially as it is valued higher than many of the social media giants when they released their IPOs. Currently, Snap Inc.’s stock is soaring at $27.09 a share at the close of Friday. When the stock market closed on Monday, stock was $23.77 a share. 

To follow Snap Inc. and check how their IPO is faring, their ticker symbol is SNAP and is traded on the NYSE. Spread the news and share this article or follow us on our WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter!

The Purge: Lasting Impacts of Digital Media

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For those keeping up with the news, popular YouTube vlogger Felix Kjellberg, known by his pseudonym PewDiePie, was dropped from working with Disney and YouTube. He was previously contracted with the two media giants to produce content for a large consumer base featured online and his own spin-off video series. The decision to cut this YouTuber from future projects by these companies is due primarily to racist and anti-semitic notions repeatedly found within his content.

A recent video sponsored by PewDiePie showed two men holding an anti-semitic statement. Before it was taken down, the video was seen over six million times. It was at this point following an investigation that Disney and YouTube announced their decision to withdraw support and discontinue working with him further.

The importance of branding here is obvious: Disney and YouTube have strict brand guidelines and reputations that they do not want associated with anti-semitic or racist statements. Disney’s primary consumer base is young children whose values are still being formed by the society we live in.

Alternatively, the negative effects of poor branding choices are clear. In choosing to promote racially charged and anti-semitic messages, PewDiePie set himself up for negative feedback. But what can you do in order to save face in moments like these?

Here’s where we can take a note from the successful YouTuber. He responded with a formal apology, stating that he does not support these ideas and that the reason behind the video was to show the extremes of people on the internet.

In this day and age, now more than ever, it is important to ensure that what we post online is a representation of ourselves that we are comfortable with allowing potential employers to see. An increased number of recruiters search online forums and sites to examine potential employees, and over half have reconsidered these candidates after the search. Posts with incorrect spelling or politically inclined remarks are among the most detrimental content employers can find.

With so many opportunities at Northeastern University, and just as many students, it’s important to make sure all aspects of your personal brand are presented appropriately. Having a strong and positive online profile can make the difference in securing a job.

So take another look at your social media accounts and ensure that you are only associated with those of reputable esteem. While we can’t completely erase our online data, we can minimize its damage and be aware of where we stand.

For more tips and tricks on how to create your online brand, be on the lookout for our next post and make sure to hit that follow button to get notifications!

Jessica Takes on Tech

PR has such a fabulous reputation, and rightly so.  The glitz and the glam of pitching beauty products or dealing with celebrities is extremely enticing.  So much so, that I had never even considered the other types of public relations out there in the world.

At a PRSSA meeting this past fall, Metis Communications came in to speak about tech PR.  I recognized the name from past meetings as well as from the list I was building for potential co-op choices.  I was hesitant about applying, wanting to ensure that this whole “tech thing” wasn’t going to bore me to tears.

After hearing how cool Metis sounded, I realized that the fact that is a tech PR firm shouldn’t hold me back.  So there I went, on my leap of faith, accepting the challenge that stood before me.  But that’s what co-op is all about, right? It’s all just one big learning experience.

Well here I am, four months later and two months into my co-op.  In a mere two months, I went from barely knowing how to use my iPhone, to pitching reporters using words that used to give me a headache: cyber security, big data, cloud computing, etc.  I’m seriously impressing myself with this newly found knowledge I never believed I was capable of (come on, ask me about cyber security), and I am so proud of myself for trying something new and different.

Bottom line: Yes, PR is fabulous.  No wonder it’s such a fast growing industry – it’s rewarding, exciting, fast paced, and well…fun.  But I believe the key to being successful in this career is being open-minded.  By being able to avoid pigeonholing yourself into one type of PR, you can allow yourself to grow and offer the most to the industry.

Doesn’t this all sound good? Do you want the awesome co-op experience I’m having? Well…it can be yours.  Metis is looking for fall co-ops, so take a chance and apply.  You won’t regret it.