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7 Most Common Mistakes When Writing a Professional Bio

All professionals and business leaders should have a well-written bio that recounts their career accomplishments. A brief bio is essential for social media profiles, company Web sites, press releases, event programs, brochures and more. In reality, a professional bio is nothing to be afraid of—as long as you avoid a few common mistakes.

 

  1. Writing in the First Person

Even if you’re writing your own bio, refer to yourself in the third person. Whoever the subject is, call them by their full name the first time you mention them and just their last name on subsequent references.

  1. Starting at the beginning

Like resumes, bios should generally start with the present and work backwards in chronological order. The purpose of a bio is to describe what sets the subject apart professionally. For most people, that’s going to be the major accomplishments of their adult life. That’s why it’s a good idea to begin with a summary statement that includes the subject’s current position or occupation as well as their most significant recent accomplishment.

  1. “Fluff”

There’s no need to add extraneous information to make a bio longer. Three or four paragraphs is a sufficient amount to describe the major milestones of most people’s careers.

  1. Providing too much information

Remember, it’s called a professional bio for a reason. It’s fine to briefly mention a few personal details such as college and graduate school degrees, charitable activities, hobbies and passions in the last sentence or two.

  1. Lying

A bio should never include fabricated accomplishments, awards, titles or positions. Besides the moral issue, false claims are easy to disprove and the potential fallout from getting caught in a lie outweighs any benefits of exaggerating one’s achievements.

  1. Modesty

There’s no reason to down play any major accomplishments. Remember to include professional awards, accolades, honorary degrees, titles, etc. And never mention anything negative or unflattering.

  1. Humor

Avoid the temptation to be sarcastic or humorous. Humor and sarcasm rarely work in a professional bio. Unless you are a paid comedy writer and the bio is used to promote a comedic project. It’s best to just stick to the facts.

Avoid these mistakes and you will produce a better bio.

4 Reasons Why PR must balance screen time with face time

The digital media has shaped our lives and redefined human connection and communication. One study has shown that the average mobile device user checks his/her phone approximately 40 times a day. The ability to communicate without any limitation of time and distance has made us hyper-connected. As a PR pro, we have to consume media and be aware of latest news, so why check out? Stepping away from the screen can seem counterintuitive but we must learn the importance of balancing screen time with face time. Here are 4 reasons why every PR pro should find a healthy balance with both:

1) That balance starts with environment

The first step to finding a balance between screen and face communication is to practice what we preach for better communication. The PR industry is rooted in the ability to successfully interface with an audience and equally with the person sitting in the next chair. When spending most of our day at the office, an entire day may pass without even acknowledging our coworkers. Sometimes we send emails for things that could easily have been addressed in person.

As a result of the evolution of communication dynamics within company cultures, a common tendency in the office environment is for everyone to enter individual zones. While it might seem a highly efficient way to get work done, it also tells us our relationship with digital media.

2) It boils down to convenience

Every PR professional has to know exactly what we want to say and when it needs to be said. Therefore, sending a text or an email is easier and comes with a sense of security. There are no long pauses or questions to catch anyone off guard and you are able to re-read a message 5 times over before sending it. Each concept and phrase has been thought through and the words are tailored to convey exactly what they’re meant to.

Communicating, pitching or promoting through a screen feels more convenient when any misstep in language could alter the entire meaning of a message.

3) Creating a balance seems simple

Try to set up a meeting over breakfast instead of a conference call. Put the effort to schedule a dinner rather than check in via email. Making more time for face-to-face communication is key to foster relationships, build a good network and grow your business.

However, everyone in the PR industry is eager to see results and are too busy to be in touch with 10 different clients, 40 different reports and still find time within the day to eat and (hopefully) sleep.

Although the high level of communication leads us to look for shortcuts, try to remember that a lot of digital communication can be more impactful when delivered in-person.

4) The goal is to create opportunity for significant conversation

Quantity doesn’t mean quality. What gets said during meetings is far more important than the number of meetings. In order to maintain current relationships and develop new ones, you have to consciously choose to utilize mediums of interactions beyond the digital realm.

Regardless of the setting, transferring a message from one mind to another can be challenging. It is our job in PR to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding and accurate interpretation is more likely with physical presence.

Remember: although our preferred method might be the written word, a face makes more of an impression than an email signature.

5 POWERFUL TIPS FOR TAKING YOUR PR CAREER TO THE NEXT LEVEL

As a PR student there is no better time than now to perfect the skills you’ll be using in your career. Here’s our top 5 tips on how to prepare for you PR career as student:

 

  1. Network like it’s your job (because it is)—As a future PR pro, networking is a skill you’ll have to master in order to thrive. College is the perfect time to hone in on your networking skills . Consider every person that you meet at school or clubs—professors, fellow students, visiting speakers, club members, etc.—as a new member of your network. Focus on building relationships, and take the initiative to get out there and meet people.

In-person networking isn’t the only way to get yourself out there, an active social media presence can be a powerful tool for you as you start your career. Take the time to be active on social networks, making special effort to connect with the right people. Starting a blog is also a great way to share your thoughts and stretch your influence.

  1. Get journalism experience—It’s important to get into the mind of a reporter. When you start to see things from a reporter’s perspective, you learn how to craft better pitches as well as how to interact with reporters in a better way.

 

  1. Get as much feedback as you can—You’re young and you still have a whole lot to learn. Take advantage of your time as a student to get as much feedback from others as you can. Don’t be afraid to receive criticism from your professors or your managers at your internship. View all feedback as the opportunity to better yourself.

 

  1. Read. A LOT.— Reading about PR on a daily basis should be a priority. You have to stay current with what’s going on in the PR industry. Follow some of the top PR blogs and website, read up on all the PR books you can find, and read the news to improve your storytelling skills.

 

  1. Write. A LOT.—Writing is a skill every PR pro must possess. You need to learn how to write clearly, concisely, and compellingly. Practice by blogging, keeping a journal, posting actively on social networks, write mock press releases, write for the school paper; anything that’ll help you practice this vital skill.

SDSU Graduate Joins H&A Team For Summer/Fall Internship

Cecilia Zaccarelli, a recent graduate from San Diego State University, has joined Heying & Associates as an intern account coordinator. Heying & Associates is a full-service public relations agency located in midtown San Diego.

During her internship, Zaccarelli will be responsible for writing pitch letters and press releases, contacting clients, assisting with event coordination and managing social media accounts.

Zaccarelli is from Brazil and graduated from SDSU in May with a Bachelor`s Degree in Communications. She was the captain of the SDSU Swim and Dive Team and a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Prior to joining Heying & Associates, Zaccarelli was an intern at Athlete Network where she experienced guerrilla marketing, social media management, PR and was also responsible for writing sports-related articles.

Since Brazil is a really diverse culture, Zaccarelli has a different perspective about the world. She was there for the Olympic Games in 2016 and experienced the biggest international sports event where the entire world was celebrating together. According to her, it was a great opportunity for Brazil to forget about the political and economic problems and welcome the rest of the world with their delicious food, beautiful nature and enthusiastic people. When deciding where to go in the United States, the weather was a determinant factor. Zaccarelli has never seen snow before and has lived her entire life in the tropical weather, so she thought California would be a great fit. One thing she misses the most about Brazil is the typical homemade dish: rice, beans and Brazilian barbecue.

Zaccarelli plans to stay in San Diego and go to Graduate School. After that, she wants to pursue a career in marketing or public relations.

 

In her free time, Zaccarelli enjoys hiking, swimming and going to the beach.

10 Social Media Advertising Common Mistakes

Here are some examples of what not to do with your advertising. If any of them sounds familiar, be careful.Social media advertising, if not effective, can bring your company down. The good news is that even the big brands have made those mistakes in the past. Just learn from them and move on.

1) Targeting an audience that is too narrow

Yes, you should always be targeting your website’s audience because they know your brand and are more likely to consume it than a general audience. However, if you are prospecting for more customers, you don’t want an audience that targets only 25 to 35 year-old females in Atlanta. You will never find out if your ads are meant for a specific audience if it is too small.

2) Targeting an audience that is too wide

You need to find a balance between wide and narrow audiences. When targeting a huge audience, try including declared or deduced interests (like hobbies or purchases) on top of your lookalike audience.

3) Using wrong image size for your platform

Do some research on what each platform`s strength is in regards to images. Different social media applications allow for different image sizes. For example, twitter only allows very small images while Pinterest allows for massive ones. You don’t want to throw an image into your ad that cuts off people`s heads.

4) Not using text overlay

Text overlay is the “hook” to your net because it catches the eyes and gives the consumer an idea of what they are in for if they keep reading. Facebook and Instagram limit the amount of text you can overlay on your image to 20%. Follow this rule!

5) Leaving your campaign on too long

Make sure you are watching your frequency on your social media platform month-to-month, or even week-to-week if you are running a specific time-frame campaign.

6) Click-baiting

If you are click-baiting someone to click through to your website, you are wasting money. You will not only have to pay for an initial ad to them, but you will also have to do a lot of remarketing in the future.

7) Not providing enough information

Give people enough information so they don’t have to guess at what your company is all about. It will also used to weed out irrelevant users, optimize impressions and save you money.

8) Providing too much information

Again, it is all about balance. People are not going to read a huge paragraph; they don’t have time to do it. Shorten your sentences, use visual content and make the recipient feel compelled to read your ad!

9) No call to action

Tell people what to do. Using phrases such as “sign up” or “shop now” will make people assume that they are supposed to do more than just read the ad.

10) Sending people to your home page in every ad

Direct your audience instead of making them search around. If you are telling them to “shop now”, show them the specific product and guide them to that product page.

6 Ways to Strengthen Your PR Writing

Writing is one the most important skills to master in the field of public relations.

Although PR writing has different styles, the basic writing principles still apply.

Here’s 6 steps to improve your PR writing:

 

  1. Open with a strong and compelling lead

Beginning with a lead that grabs the reader’s attention will compel them to keep reading.

 

  1. Read your copy aloud

Before publishing, reading the content out loud is a helpful way to prevent editorial mistakes that may have been skipped over while skimming.

 

  1. Say more with less

Instead of fulfilling a minimum word count with “fluff,” tighten your copy. Cut filler, simplify sentences, and delete jargon. Being brief is key.

 

  1. Immerse yourself in great writing

Reading the work of other writers, whether it’s in books, magazines or newspapers will help you improve your craft.

 

  1. Eliminate passive voice

Passive voice makes writing appear “weak.” Using active voice throughout your writing makes it cleaner, tighter and more authoritative.

 

  1. Keep writing

Practice makes perfect—writing is no exception. Repetition is the best way to hone in on your writing skills.