Atonement

Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.

While I am clearly a woman and the gender roles in this quote would be reversed in real life, I feel it properly conveys how I feel about my blog and what my absence has meant to its readers. This is my promise to my readers from now onwards:

Dearest Readers, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that afternoon walk. I can become again the woman who crossed the stage at graduation, in a hideous green robe, swaggering on the promise of life. The woman who, with the clarity of passion, made a commitment to maintain my blog indefinitely. The story can resume. I have returned to write for you, entertain you, teach you and blog with out shame.

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(22) Days of Summer

As many of you know, Oregon had one of the gloomiest summers on record. Lucky for me, I escaped not only Oregon but the country for 22 amazing days of travel.

I’ve always felt that nothing reveals more about oneself than travel, particularly traveling alone. This adventure of mine that spanned four countries, countless cities and multiple islands was by far the most self-revealing to date.

 

This photo epitomizes my time in Greece: an amazing ancient monument surrounded by the modern (In this case a fire extinguisher)

 

I learned that while I revel in my independence, I do need others to surround and support me; that I not only love history but am actually obsessed with it (Every time I saw a pile of rubble in Greece, I could visualize the cities these ruins once created, feel the energy that once radiated from them, see the ancient Grecians wandering about the now dusty roads…); that while I obsess over history, I always need to be up to speed with the present (I consumed a newspaper whenever I could get my hands on one, devoured a magazine that came within arms reach, poured all of my concentration into reading a new post whenever the Internet was available.); that I, in summation, am too social to be left entirely alone for extended periods of time, too independent to be constantly surrounded by people, too entranced by the present to be distracted by the past, and too fascinated by the past to ever forget its impact on my present circumstances

Wait, what!? I know that sounds overwhelming, contradictory and a bit weird, but that’s me. I did not anticipate finding myself on this trip (and rest assured, I know I still have a lot to learn), but that is what my independent travel brought with it, and I really could not be more grateful.

These 22 days of summer brought some pretty amazing “ah-ha” moments that I will never forget. Taking the leap and traveling this summer was one of the best choices I have ever made and one I will never regret.

How Quickly Life Changes…

This marks my first post-graduation blog post! I apologize for its tardiness, as I originally promised its posting during the first week of July. Life has been crazy to say the least.

In my former post, I discussed an internship I was offered at a boutique tech agency in Orlando, Florida. My set start date was June 21, but unfortunately I was not there. In the end, I decided to turn the offer down. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, but I know it was the best choice for me.

After I turned the offer down, my life was full of uncertainty… I had been planning on moving to Orlando, living with my grandparents and beginning my PR career for about a month at that point, and suddenly all of that was gone. This was self-inflicted, mind you, but I was still reeling. It didn’t help that I made this decision the day after my college graduation, where numerous others had been discussing their joblessness and how difficult the market was/still is.

Once I moved back in with my family for the summer, I began to reevaluate my situation. The way I saw it, I had two options: travel or continue to search for work. With so many of my friends having internships lined up for this summer, I felt a strong pull to continue looking for work. At the same time, the voice of one of my professor’s kept ringing in my ears…

“Take this time to travel or just take a break! Gain a greater understanding of the world because this is one of the only times in your life you will be able to. How long have you been in school, Lauren?”

“Umm, 17 years?”

“Exactly! Give yourself some time off!”

Upon my initial return from Australia in December 2009, I had said: “I am going to take the summer off after graduation, travel and look for a job in the fall.” Why had that changed so drastically? Being friends with some of the most talented and competitive PR students in the country: that’s why.

So, after much thought, I did a complete 180 from the general trajectory of my life and decided to take the summer off and travel. I booked a round trip flight to Greece and cannot wait for my adventure to begin.

I am definitely still searching for work. If the right opportunity arises, I will not hesitate to grab it by the horns, but until then I will be networking, searching for work and traveling. I believe everyone deserves a break at least once in their lives. I know I certainly needed one. (If you know me, you know how intense of an over-achiever I am 🙂 ).

My point is: No matter what point you are at in life, if you need to find peace or just need some air, take a break! So far, mine has been incredibly beneficial. I will continue to write posts pertaining to public relations and social media on this blog, of course, so fear not. If you would like to follow my travel adventures, head over to my tumblr page: ohbravenewworld.tumblr.com.

I hope this post was helpful for you, and thank you so much for reading.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye – Well, For a Few Weeks

This blog post marks my final, forced blog post. As I explained in my first post, this blog has been an assignment for my Strategic Public Relations Writing class (J452). Now that I am entering my final week of classes as an undergraduate, this will be my last post for my J452 class, specifically.

Fear not! I definitely intend on maintaining this blog forever, hopefully. I will be taking a brief hiatus though in order to complete my undergraduate degree and begin my life as an employed post-grad. I would like to focus this post on just that: my road to becoming an employed post-grad.

Just like many other undergraduates, I have been on the job hunt for a few months now. In all honesty, I really have not been searching very hard at all. I only filled out an application for one job, yet I have been in the running for three very competitive internships.

“How does this happen?” you may ask. One word: networking. The largest network I have created since being at school is with my fellow students… I knew many of the public relations graduates from last year (Class of 2009), which proved very beneficial in my job hunt. Each who I contacted was so graciously willing to assist me in my attempt to find an entry-level position.

While I have had the opportunity to meet many skilled, talented and seasoned PR professionals along the way, the reason why I have been considered for these internships is because of the relationships I built with my peers in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. Those who you surround yourself with now will prove to be one of your best assets when it comes time to begin searching for a job.

I hope this blog has been helpful for all who have read it, and, like I said, it will continue. Expect my next post in the first week of July; then I can call myself a young public relations professional (how exciting is that!?).

How were you able to find your first job? Was it through a person within your network? Was it complete luck? Let me know! I am very interested to hear other peoples’ stories.

Think Before You Post – 7 Vital Questions to Ask

This blog post is in response to Kevin Martineau’s post on Social Media Today titled “Bloggers: 7 Questions to Ask Before Hitting ‘Publish.’” As one would infer from this title, Martineau focuses this blog post on what a blogger should do before sending his or her post into the blogosphere (and to a certain extent what he or she should not do).

I know I am guilty of hitting “Publish” before a post is entirely ready and have regretted it afterword. The questions listed really are compelling, and I do believe all bloggers should ask themselves at least these prior to posting.

1. Have I read the post in its entirety after finishing it?

Believe it or not, I admit: I do not always read through my posts thoroughly prior to publishing. Skim? Yes, definitely. But really flesh out all of the mistakes (grammatical and AP Style) and be entirely positive I have made all of the points necessary for my reader to fully comprehend the post? Not always. That is why this question is so important: You have to be sure your post makes sense and that you are satisfied with it prior to publishing, so be sure to read through your post before launching it into the blogosphere.

2. Have I chosen my title carefully?

Titles are always the hardest for me. In Martineau’s post he suggests using numbers in titles, posing a question in a title or making the title incredibly compelling. But, what exactly is a compelling title? I feel like that is quite vague. It really takes a long time to figure out how to properly title a blog post – I still struggle with it every time I post. Recently, I was told by a PR professional that headline writing for journalists is becoming an art form that all must be able to do… I think it is safe to say that compelling blog titles are the equivalent to this art form for all in the blogosphere.

3. Have I proofread it?

I know even after I read through this post in its entirety, I will catch grammatical and AP Style errors. I consider editing one of my strongest skills and even I struggle to always be 100 percent grammatically correct. If you catch a small, grammatical mistake after hitting “Publish,” don’t stress – whether or not you have a “Code of Ethics,” bloggers are lenient when it comes to making small alterations like that, so do not be afraid to edit the post (but ONLY for small errors, not factual).

4. Have I linked to one or more older posts?

While I think this is a great way for lesser-read blog posts to gain some new readers, I think it is a bit trivial. I do not feel the need to toot my own horn every time I publish a new post by linking back to older posts. This may be applicable for some, but I personally do not ask myself this question prior to hitting the “Publish” button.

5. Have I made sure all of the links are working?

Simply copying-and-pasting the URL you are trying to link to is the easiest way to avoid broken links. All of the links in my posts are active because I use this technique – I suggest you do it as well.

6. Have I included a captivating image?

Images are incredibly important when wanting to catch a reader’s eye. While Martineau suggests performing a “Google Image” search, I disagree. You need to be using image you know is not copy-written; simply doing a “Google Image Search” will not ensure you are using a safe photograph. I suggest looking through Flickr for images that are not copy-written and are given “creative commons.” Another great way to find images is through stock image providers, such as Stock Exchange. On these sites, it is made very clear which images are usable and which are copy-written. While images are incredibly important, be sure you are using one that will not get you into trouble.

7. Have I included one of more ways to engage my readers?

I think this question is important to ask because through blog posts and social media in general you want to create a conversation. Without providing readers a way to engage, a conversation will never result from your blog. Ask your readers questions at the end; write on compelling topics that would elicit a response

What other questions do you ask yourself before you post? Did Martineau miss any major ones?

Thank you for reading!

“Trending Topics” on Twitter – An Analysis

One thing I do not confess in the “About Me” section of this blog is that I am absolutely obsessed with the television program 24 and have been ever since its inception. Tonight was the series finale ending eight seasons of the program. Last night, as many of you probably know, was the finale of Lost. I, of course, have had my eye on Twitter both days and was positively shocked: Sunday and today “Lost finale” was a “trending topic”… 24 did not appear on the trending topics list once.

This sent me into my own sort of shockwaves. I did not understand how a show as beloved and obsessed over as 24 could not be a trending topic on Twitter. I was tweeting about it. I searched the #24 hashtag after the fact and other people were and are tweeting about it, but not enough for it to be labeled “trending topic.” This show was ranked #6 in Empire magazine’s 50 Greatest TV Shows Of All Time… I still, clearly, am in disbelief.

My shock sent me immediately to Twitter searches. I had to get to the bottom of this. By then, I had already performed multiple searches on Twitter for 24 and, as stated above, had found a lot of conversation about the finale. I then thought, “I wonder what people are saying about Lost that keeps it a trending topic?” So, naturally I clicked on the “lost finale” trending topic. Turns out Twitter was taking any tweet with the word “finale” in it and was sending it to this trending topic, with many of said tweets referring to the 24 finale NOT the Lost finale. Another finding, as per usual with trending topics on Twitter, was that people were just tweeting out all of the trending topics in a row, entirely throwing off the actual trending topics of the moment. I am coining this a “Twitter Bomb” much like the “Google Bomb” – when people search the same phrases just to get that topic a better SEO. In this case, people tweet the trending topics to get their posts read by the masses who are following the trending topics.

This then lead me to perform some research on “trending topics” and how, exactly, they are identified. Mashable reports that Twitter recently altered its trending topics algorithm to make “topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, (the trending topics) to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ breaking news from across the world.” While this may be true of the algorithm, Buzzgain states that two factors determine whether or not a topic is trending on Twitter: 1) The number of people tweeting and 2) the hour of the day. It asserts that between 6 p.m. and midnight, it takes roughly 1,900 tweets from about 922 users for a topic to become a trend.

Clearly, there are some issues with the “trending topic” function on Twitter. Mashable and many other sounding voices in social media have discussed the flaws of the “trending topics” on Twitter before, but what is your take on the trending topics function? Do you find it useful?

Courtesy of Claire Beardsley on Flickr

As for 24, the finale was excellent and while I was not 100 percent satisfied, I hear it was much better than the Lost finale – from those who are tweeting about the 24 finale NOT that of Lost.

My 20% Project

This post is in response to “Get a Life: What’s Your 20% Project?” by Ben Malbon at BBH.

As I was reading through this post, I was at a loss for what my 20% project is… I could think of a million things I do to make myself happy and take my mind off of public relations, but no one project stood out in particular. Since returning from study abroad, my nose has been to the grindstone when it comes to graduating from college. Right now, I have two weeks left until my life as an undergraduate is complete, and I am determined to not extend that period any further. That being said, I still make an ample amount of my time free for play.

Something as simple as having a dinner party, seeing a movie, watching my favorite television programs and reading my favorite books all qualify in my mind as something that takes up 20% of my time and is entirely unrelated to schoolwork or public relations. I like having a 20% project in that capacity, but I do miss my former 20% project more than I can express in words…

I love to dance. I grew up dancing in the very competitive studio dance world, giving up 20+ hours a week to my dance group. While it was a massive commitment, I can’t think of a place in my life (except for Australia) where I have been happier. Having that group of friends surrounding me all the time, always there when I needed them; expressing myself with my body through music; feeling like I had a family outside of my actual family; winning the occasional trophy; feeling like I was going to burst with energy every time I performed on stage… I miss all of these aspects of dance more than words can articulate.

While I consider my current friends a family outside of my actual family, it’s not the same. So, I have decided (based in part on the post by Malbon but primarily based on a personal decision) that I am going to take up dance again. I know it won’t be the same as it was before… my former dance experience was a collection of special moments in time that can never be repeated, just like my experience in Australia. But, I know dancing and performing will bring a great deal of happiness back into my life.

This Wednesday at 5 p.m. I will be at the University of Oregon Recreation Center dancing it up with a girl from my former dance group, Kelsie Jordan. I know once I start again I will never stop: exactly what I want.

My new 20% project: dance.