Bragging on Social Media: Useful or Annoying?

Can bragging on Facebook and other social platforms backfire? In an extreme example this week, a gang of thugs in Brooklyn boasted about committing murder on their Facebook pages and got arrested as a result. Verdict? Not smart! While most of us are bragging about much less criminal things (we hope!), touting your accomplishments through social media may still have a negative result.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story last month ago called “Are We All Braggarts Now?”, which examines whether social media has given people a platform — and permission — to constantly boast about their accomplishments, children, jobs and lives in general. In the piece, Elizabeth Bernstein writes that “we’ve become so accustomed to boasting that we don’t even realize what we’re doing. And it’s harmful to our relationships because it turns people off.” We believe this is a generalization and that, while select folks spend all their Tweets and Facebook posts talking about how their child is the world’s most talented and beautiful, there are ways to leverage social media to promote yourself and what you’re proud of in a smart and more subtle way.

In our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, we dedicate an entire chapter, called “Toot Your Own Horn (but Not Too Loudly),” to teaching people how to be their own publicists without irritating those on the receiving end. There’s an art to self-promotion and part of it is building your reputation slowly and strategically so you don’t come across as too in-your-face. (Though we don’t see what’s so bad about posting “Got my first royalty check for my book,” as referenced in the article. As authors ourselves, we know what a huge deal it is to finally see some rewards from all the hard work you put in!). Nonetheless, here are a few tips on how to avoid being pegged as a braggart:

Pat yourself on the back but pat others harder. It’s okay to post something about an award you won, but make sure you’re also congratulating others when they’ve received accolades. Hit the “like” button on Facebook or re-tweet it when you see that people you know have posted about their personal milestones and they’ll likely do the same for you. A third-party endorsement often has more impact than if you tout your own accomplishments.

Offer a take-away. If you wrote a great blog post about how to avoid being a braggart, for example, linking to it might actually offer useful advice to the folks who click on it. Or if you say, “Our nanny is a rock star,” maybe you can tell people where you found her so they can find their own personal Mary Poppins or link to the great sample sale where you scored amazing Hermes piece, so others can benefit too.

Don’t make others feel bad. We haven’t had a real vacation in a while (that’s a whole other blog post!), so it’s natural to feel a wee bit jealous when we see our friends post amazing beach shots of their tropical trips (though we’re mostly happy for them). That happiness would be dampened, though, if they posted or tweeted things like, “Ha, ha! I bet you wish you were here!” or “I feel like I died and went to paradise.” instead of “Great view from my hotel room in Costa Rica.” The upshot: Be cognizant that not everyone is as lucky as you are, watch your tone and try not to over-post. (You are on vacation, after all!)

You can always dial down who sees what posts on social media, if you fear that you are over-sharing to your extended crowd. And, on the flip side, if you feel that some of your Facebook friends or those you follow on Twitter are getting out of hand with their self-promotion, simply filter out their posts or stop following them. That way, when you see them face-to-face next time, stories about their child landing first seat in the school orchestra or their latest major deal at work won’t irk you quite as much.

What kind of posts annoy you?  Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

Finding A Cure for O.S.D. – Obsessive Sharing Disorder

(via msnbc.com // Illustration: Kim Carney)O.S.D., or obsessive sharing disorder – that’s what author and coach Peggy Klaus calls people’s growing tendency to offer up too much personal information at work. In this past Sunday’s issue of The New York Times, she extrapolated that this over-sharing is likely an extension of online behavior or, alternatively, the need to connect in a disconnected world. Klaus points out: Since we spend so much time at work these days (likely as much if not  more time than at home), it’s no wonder we look to  forge close connections with co-workers — and that ultimately blurs the line between professional and personal boundaries.

So, is there a cure for this common ailment (particularly among the Gen Y set)?  Yes!

In “Be Your Own Best Publicist,” we address the challenges of managing your personal brand both on- and off-line.  So, here are some things to remember when considering whether to share or remain silent about your personal life:

  • Who do you think you’re talking to? Just like our recent post about griping about past employers online — think about what the right forum is to share personal information, whatever it entails. Probably not a good move to share your personal issues with a boss or client,  lest they think those distractions will hinder your ability to do the job. Even offering up those private thoughts or questionable choices to co-workers could significantly affect your trajectory at work, so consider your audience before plowing ahead. We recommend holding your tongue –and comments– until you’re outside the workplace (and with trusted friends or family), just to be safe.
  • Will it help or hinder?  Remember that nowadays, in particular, everything you say or post can and will be used “against” you. Whenever we are communicating with a client or a media person, we consider the impact of our words because once a statement or sentiment is out there, it’s impossible to take back (ahem, Congressman Akin!).  Ever try to hit the recall button on a email?  Exactly.  Consider your words carefully in advance. Ask yourself: Will what I say move the situation forward?  How will it color the way my conversation partner perceives me?
  • When in doubt, leave it out. Wondering whether you should share the story about your crazy weekend in the Hamptons or perhaps some details about a love affair gone wrong? Less is more — particularly in the workplace.  Editing yourself can be the hardest, yet most valuable skill you can learn whatever your career. We all need to hit the pause button once and a while. Consider your goals and key messages before blurting any old thing out. General rule of thumb: When in doubt — you got it — LEAVE IT OUT.

How do you deal those “suffering” from O.S.D. in your life?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.


 

 

 

Using Social Media to Burn Bridges: A Good or Bad Idea?

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a story about the trend of kissing off your former employer (or soon to be!) in a very public way online, whether on Twitter, Tumblr or YouTube. While this may be a “cathartic” experience, as one person interviewed in the piece said, this kind of behavior can have negative repercussions that will affect your future career. Here’s some advice from Be Your Own Best Publicist for what to think about before you post a big f-u to the job you just left on your social media channels:

Your digital legacy outlasts you. Your online profile lives on even after you don’t. Every tweet you make ends up in the Library of Congress. Your Facebook page stays up unless someone physically removes it. And Google is your first resume these days. If you blog/tweet/post nasty things about a past employer, it won’t take long for potential employers to find it. Most HR professionals are checking out candidates’ social media profiles these days and wouldn’t look too kindly on someone who publicly bad-mouthed their last company or boss.

Patience is a virtue. In a world of instant gratification, where it takes a second to tweet, post or email something, we tend to act immediately instead of taking a breath and thinking about it before doing the damage. In the old days, you’d write an angry letter, put it in a drawer somewhere and re-read it a day later. (In many instances, it went back in the drawer or in the trash, never to be seen by its intended recipient). Now, when we’re upset, we vent in real time without always considering the consequences.

The high road is usually the best route to success. You may have had an abusive boss, a terrible job or were fired without good reason. But any time we interview someone and they trash-talk their former workplaces, it’s a huge turnoff. In PR, we teach our clients to deflect tough questions such as why they’re better than their competitors so they’re not spending an interview saying negative things about someone else, but rather positive things about themselves. If asked why you left your last job, simply say, “It wasn’t the right fit for me” or “I learned a lot but was ready to move on to a new opportunity.” Enough said.

Gripe all you want — in private. Listen, we all have bad experiences at work and feel like yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” but try to limit your complaining to a small circle of friends and family, who will let you vent your frustration before you post it on Facebook. Or, instead of blogging about it, write it in a good old fashioned journal that the world won’t see. Remember “Dear Diary”? Not everyone needs to read about your deepest darkest emotions on WordPress.

Have you ever publicly griped about work?  What were the consequences? Tell us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

Creating Buzz on a Budget: Our #SXSW Bid to Help Start-Ups Stand Out In A Good Way

You have a great idea, a website, a business plan and maybe even some funding. Now what? It doesn’t mean anything unless people are talking, sharing and buzzing about your brand.

For most start-ups, publicity typically falls to the bottom of the expenditure list. Yet, in this day and age, with so much competition for coverage and attention, it can be the thing that connects the dots, raises your profile and attracts consumers, advertisers, partners and investors.

That’s exactly why we’ve proposed a session at SXSW (a nice follow-up to our involvement last year) to help start-ups learn how to kick off the drumbeat about their brands through press coverage and social media buzz, even if they are in bootstrapping mode.

Help us help them by voting for our session: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/1680.  Vote and then send us the screen shot of your vote online —  you will be entered to win a signed copy of our book. (Winner chosen at random.)

**Added incentive: The person who gets the most of his/her friends to vote for us will get an hour-long coaching phone session with us.  (How to show that your friends voted: They email you the screen shot; you then forward to us at Bestpublicist (at) gmail (dot) com.) **

Thanks – and here’s to being your own best publicist!

When Your Job is Like a Bad Relationship

We’ve joked that there’s a book in our future (or at least a blog post or two) about the connections between your career and dating. Think about it: Going on a job interview is akin to a first date. You want to make sure you have on the right outfit, you’re well-groomed, and come across as confident, relaxed and likable.

This fun Forbes.com post, “When Your ‘Dream Job’ Isn’t Your Dream Anymore”, is more about what goes wrong after you are officially committed — comparing that new job you were so psyched about to a relationship gone sour. The truth is that jobs–just like partners–may not always be as great as they seemed at first glance so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into!

Going Back to College: An Inspiring Lesson on the Future of PR

UM students working on their group presentation

Millennials are often painted as lazy, entitled, impatient and unfocused but a group of college students with whom Jessica recently spent a weekend dispelled all of those stereotypes and gave us hope for the future.

At the first-ever PR Workshop for the University of Michigan’s Communication Studies program, 30 undergraduate students dedicated their entire weekend — giving up their Friday night and showing up at the ungodly hour of 8:30am on Saturday and Sunday (including having lost an hour to Daylight Savings Time) — to get a crash course in the public relations field.  UM does not offer vocational classes — nor did it when Jessica was enrolled there many moons ago — but because so many students have expressed an interest in the PR industry, the brilliant and energetic Susan Douglas, who heads up the department, decided it was worth doing a pilot program that involved alumni in the business sharing their lessons and knowledge with the undergrads.

[Read more…]

A Lesson in Going Viral: #rejectedgroupons

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we spend an entire chapter talking about how social media and the Internet have changed communication forever and how vital it is to be aware of how quickly something can spread online — for good or bad. As Mark Twain once said (somewhat prophetically given this digital age), “A lie can travel around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Think about all those rumors of various celebrities’ premature death (Jon Bon Jovi, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Brown, Natalie Portman, George Clooney, Britney Spears, Harrison Ford and Rick Astley just being a few examples) and how they spread like wildfire on Twitter. On the flip side, consider how rapidly an amateur performer like Rebecca Black could catch on through YouTube with her hit song “Friday.”

 

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“Auto-Pilot Is Not An Option” and Other Lessons We Learned At Wharton (Part II)

The Financial Times recently reported that women make up 37 percent of those who attend a full-time MBA programs in the US, an increase from 33 percent five years ago and 30 percent a decade ago.

We met a few of those women on January 20th, when we spent the 1-year anniversary of the publication of our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, at the Wharton Women Business Conference in Pennsylvania.

Several accomplished women (including Jessica) were there to share their wisdom and insights with the 200-plus attendees from the college and graduate program. On the day’s docket were  Cindy DiPietrantonio, COO of The Jones GroupTracy Travis, CFO of Ralph Lauren CorporationJessica Steel, EVP of business development for Pandora Media Inc.; Alex Witt, NBC correspondent and MSNBC anchor; and Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice president and artistic director of OPI Products Inc. Keynote speaker Uta Werner, corporate vice president and chief strategy officer of Xerox Corporation, rounded out the speaker list.

There were so many great nuggets of advice, we knew that we had to break it into two different blog posts. Part I was posted last week. Now, without further ado, is the second half:

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“Listen To Your Mother” and Other Lessons We Learned at Wharton (Part I)

Jessica Kleiman and Pandora's Jessica Steel with Wharton students

While neither of us has gone to business school (not yet, anyway), we did just spend the one-year anniversary of the publication of our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, at the Wharton Women Business Conference in Pennsylvania.

What an event! Jessica was honored to have been invited to participate in one of the day’s panels about “lead-her-ship” (WWBC’s phrase, not ours…) for her role as VP, public relations at Hearst Magazines, along with two very accomplished female executives — Cindy DiPietrantonio, COO of The Jones Group, and Tracy Travis, CFO of Ralph Lauren Corporation. The other panel featured Jessica Steel, EVP of business development for Pandora Media Inc.; Alex Witt, NBC correspondent and MSNBC anchor; and Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice president and artistic director of OPI Products Inc. The luncheon was keynoted by Uta Werner, corporate vice president and chief strategy officer of Xerox Corporation.

We were blown away by the amazing women we met there — attendees and speakers alike.  And, as with any event that brings together such powerhouses, we walked away with great insights and information which we’ve broken into two different blog posts.  For starters, here are some key take-aways: [Read more…]

Happy 1st Birthday to “Be Your Own Best Publicist”!

Happy birthday to us — our book, we mean!  Today marks the one year anniversary of the publication of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work.

First – a big thank you for all of the support you’ve given to us since the book hit shelves (and websites) 12 months ago. We are beyond thrilled at the attention our book has received.  And even happier that its publication has allowed us to build a platform to share career and PR advice through media interviews, workshops and speaking engagements around the country. The trend continues this week: We’ll be celebrating on January 20th by participating in the Wharton Women Business Conference in Philadelphia. (We’ll report back about all the great information shared there – stay tuned!)

 

 

 

In honor of this happy occasion, we thought we’d take a look back at a few of our favorite media highlights and speaking engagements from the past year:

  • In other exciting news, Meryl recently started her own communications/events company, Allen/Cooper Enterprises (and launched Site/109, an events and pop-up exhibitions space on New York’s Lower East Side), and Jessica was nominated as 2011 “Publicist of the Year” by PR News.   

Now, as we enter into our sophomore year as published authors and as Be Your Own Best Publicist goes into its second printing  (yay!), we want to thank you again for your continued support, particularly those of you who have either bought copies or encouraged others to do so.  (Of course, if you haven’t, it’s not too late – the book is available on Amazon.comBN.com, on Kindle and Nook and in bookstores nationwide.)

We hope you will keep up on our various press coverage, speaking engagements and news here, as well as on our Facebook fan page and Twitter feed (@bestpublicist).  If you haven’t check us out on Forbes.com’s Work in Progress section or BusinessInsider’s War Room section, please do!

Until next time, we wish you all a fabulous new year filled with much success. Here’s to being your own best publicist in 2012!