5 Steps to Improve Your Personal Brand

At the beginning of my CAP 105 course, we used BrandYourself to identify the current status of our searchable online presence. Mine was an A in the beginning, and remains an A now at the end of the semester. I think having a positive online presence involves many factors, but there are always ways to improve.

Here’s 5 steps to take in order to improve your personal brand:

1. Clean up social sites.

If you wouldn’t want a future employer seeing it, don’t post it. This is the easiest way to clean up your social sites. We’ve all posted some questionable things while growing up in the emerging social media world, so it’s important to go back and filter out what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

2. Create new content.

Having new content on each of your social sites will bring the positives to the forefront. Make new and relevant blog posts with certain tags that attract the type of attention you would like to have. Have tweets and Facebook posts that are relevant and appropriate for those who may be viewing your profiles.

3. Mark the sites that ARE NOT yours.

On BrandYourself, you can mark certain links as “positive”, “negative”, or “not me”. This filter system can allow you to create a view of your brand from the eyes of future employers. You have to be able to see where things might come off differently to someone searching for your name.

4. Promote yourself.

Writing a blog post and hoping someone finds it isn’t enough in this day and age. In order to create your own brand, you have to be your own biggest advocate. Share and share and share. Using multiple social media outlets give you multiple options of sharing your content and giving people the option of sharing as well.

5. Be authentic.

To stand out from the crowd online (and in general), we have to be authentic. I went to PRSSA National Conference this year and heard David Grossman talk about the idea of being authentic. Nobody likes a fake persona, and transparency is key. People easily connect with others when they feel that someone is genuine and original. Flaunting your own strengths and weaknesses and keeping it real is very important in creating your personal brand.

Improving your personal brand is a growing process. As students, it’s vital to take steps now to create the online presence that we need to improve our brand. Following the steps above might give you the first step in creating the brand you hope to see for yourself.




How Technology & Teamwork Go Hand-in-Hand


A big trend in my blog posts as of late have been technology. It is ever-changing, amazing, and terrifying. The endless possibilities and uses of technology never cease to amaze me. In my CAP 105 course, we learned all about the tech world involved within our major of advertising and public relations. In my last blog post, “Top 5 Things I Learned In Technology“, I explained how important technology will be in my future career, whatever that may be.

But how else will technology affect our future in the work world? Collaborating and project teamwork has come a long way. From sitting in a bland conference room, around a large conference table, with a bunch of white men in suits- we are now in a world where communication has expanded past the four walls of a conference room. We are able to connect with other cultures through the use of technology.

As Brent and Brian from Externa CGI showed us, the world of virtual and augmented reality is growing rapidly. They explained to us that in the extremely near future, we will soon be able to use this technology to speak and see people sitting in the same room as us, when they are in fact somewhere else in the world. This would bridge the communication gap for some businesses like no technology has done before. Team collaboration will become a piece of cake, and communicating with work members will be eerily easy.

Technology has also improved the use of digital analytics in terms of collaborating between different social sites. Hootsuite has the power to combine tracking of several different social sites all in one. In my class, we took tests to become Hootsuite certified, in order to really be able to use this type of analytic features properly.

Another way technology has initiated the interconnectivity of the universe, is through RSS Feeds such as Feedly. Feedly articles are from websites that can be shared to one RSS feed, customized by the user. Google alerts can be sent through it to alert the user when their favorite interests pop up in the RSS feed. This just makes the flow of content and information faster and easier between colleagues, friends, individuals, etc.

As a college students, it’s very likely to have already used Google Docs to collaborate with other students on projects and Google Slides for presentations. Google even took it a step further with a newly announced “Jamboard”, which is basically a white board in the cloud that will allow teammates and coworkers to collaborate in real-time. This is awesome for the future of my profession, because it makes long-distant collaboration that much easier.

In the social world, collaboration goes hand-in-hand. Communication between businesses, between business and customer, and between customers, is as easy as the click of a button. Twitter bots are now being used by some business (or tested, at least), to add automatic and robotic responses to a Twitter account. While this is risky, it does allow some doors to be opened when it comes to communication and collaboration within businesses.

Jason Dodge, from Black Truck Media, came to our CAP 105 class as well. He taught us the importance of SEO and SEM in his work as well. I analyzed the importance of SEO/SEM in my last blog, but it does not lose any value here. Teamwork involves analytics and SEO involves researching the searching that people do. Technology of analytics have allowed us to learn and grow as businesses and people.

We also talked a lot in my CAP 105  course about “The Internet of Things“. This constant exchange of uses and information between different objects, is truly seeming to be the future. This scares me a little, in the way of dangers we will probably face with this type of technology. Although, having this type of technology in whatever future career I have, will probably be useful. We’ve talked about how some restaurants can advertise to consumers based on their geographical location in proximity to the restaurant and this is only the beginning of the intense use of technology in the future world of advertising and public relations.


Overall, teamwork and collaboration in this day and age, could not thrive without new technology. Competing businesses are always looking for easier and more effective ways to work and collaborate, and not staying up to date on the technological side of things can only do damage. Once again, staying on top of relevant technology trends is always key.



Top 5 Things I Learned In Technology

A year ago today, I was taking time off of my full-time serving job here and there to spend time with family and friends. I had an Associate’s Degree under my belt, and lacked a sense of purpose. I honestly couldn’t think about my future without freaking out.

When I made the decision to return to Grand Valley and work towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising and Public Relations, I felt like I finally found something I was passionate about. I still felt confused, though. What would I even do with this degree? What do I even know about public relations? Am I even qualified to attempt this type of degree?

As most things do, these knots of stress eventually came untangled. At the beginning of this semester, I couldn’t tell you three places I’d like to work someday. I couldn’t explain what social media has to do with my major. I couldn’t even explain the importance of an online presence (I know, right?). I was lost.

Taking CAP 105, a technology in advertising course, has opened my eyes to so many aspects of what my major will involve post-college. We started the semester off by cleaning up and improving our Twitter accounts, using BrandYourself to identify issues in searching for our professional selves online, and creating WordPress accounts to have a platform of expression.

Here’s a list of the top 5 most important things I’ve learned about the involvement of social media in my future career:

1. Your personal brand is not only important, it’s EVERYTHING.

When we used BrandYourself, we found out how “searchable” we truly are. Any old websites, social media accounts, etc. that are connected to our name are a part of our personal brand as a whole.

2. Social media (and the use of media) is constantly changing.

Nowadays companies such as agencies, corporations, or even small-businesses use social media analytics as a form of tracking. This is a newer feature in the larger scheme of things, but it is important. This allows people to see how much reach their advertisements, blogs, etc. are reaching their target audience. Even the world of social media analytics is changing; it isn’t always accurate. Staying on top of the ever-changing world of social media is extremely important for almost any career involving technology.

3. Content is just as- if not more- important than design.

I’ve learned throughout this technology course that as an advertising and P.R. major, I must have knowledge of creating content. Yeah colors and images are pretty and attractive, but what keeps a reader interested? In advertisements and public relation releases, the content is what really draws in and keeps the audience. Creating a blog that is just like other blogs will not only bore your readers, it will drive them away.


Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are important. You have to know the basics to analyze how or if your brand/product/business is being searched. Derek DeVries visited our classroom to explain his job in this process, and it is honestly so amazing. I didn’t realize how involved businesses were with the tracking process of customer involvement. I read in an article, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective and cost-efficient strategy, so long as you can get past the biggest obstacle to success: competition.” This is the main reason we need SEO- to beat out the competitors. To think that I didn’t even know this was part of the process a few months ago just shows how much I’ve learned about social media and the analytics process.

5. Technology is more than a website.

Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned this semester throughout my CAP 105 course, is that technology is not just a website. Several different social media platforms, a blog, analytics sites, virtual/augmented reality (Thank y0u, Externa CGI), edited video (Chop & Hue visited our classroom to show how awesome this is), online shopping, (and countless others) are all small pieces to the big puzzle of a relevant online presence. Staying current with your brand on all forms of online media is important to keep the millennial generation’s interest.

I could go on for a long time just about how much this course has helped me. Becoming Hootsuite certified, learning about Google Analytics, and all of the above-listed new assets I’ve learned- are setting me up for a lifetime career involving technology. I know have the foundation of experience to continue learning and growing within this profession. And I can’t wait.









Riding the Tide: Life Growing Up With Social Media


One day, sometime around 2004-2005, I came home from school and hopped on the computer. It was a boxy, white Dell computer. I asked my dad, who’s always been kind of a techie, “Who owns the websites that I play games on?” He gave me a little tutorial of the internet, and I remember being hooked. He set my sister and I up with our first Hotmail account, explaining that we could send e-mails to anybody with an e-mail address. I loved everything about it, and convinced all my friends to get Hotmail accounts. We e-mailed after school about all the crisis that took place in our 3rd grade classrooms.

Soon after the era of communicating with friends via e-mail faded, MSN Messenger became the most popular form of communicating for my age. You had a tagline next to your name (usually ambiguous song lyrics to describe your feelings), and could instantly chat with anyone in your friend group. I’d sit with my friends and we’d sometimes wait for our crushes to get online so we could chat with them. If someone “logged off” while chatting, it was truly a special type of heartbreak.

A couple years down the road, Myspace took over. I remember in 6th-8th grade how vital a Myspace image was. Your profile song defined you, and your Top 8 Friends determined your real-life friends. Whenever my girls would sleep over, it was usually spent editing our own profiles, and stalking everyone else’s. I would Google how to do certain things on Myspace, and practically began teaching myself how to code websites (Really wish, now, I would’ve continued that). Posting surveys on Myspace was absolutely necessary to stay relevant.

Facebook became popular during my freshman year of high school. As an impressionable, confused freshman in a new school, it was even more important to fit in while also standing out. Updating your status, profile pictures, and photo albums, was a must. For kids my age, it was common to have either a very vague Facebook status (to make others want to talk) or to have an overly excited, dramatic Facebook status (to make other jealous that they didn’t talk to you).

After graduation, Twitter really became a more popular form of social media. It was short, concise, and powerful. It filtered out those who used Facebook as a public diary. It didn’t feel as obligatory to follow someone on Twitter as it did to add someone as a friend on Facebook. I had hundreds and hundreds of Facebook “friends”, whom I was never really friends with, but felt like I should add them because I saw them around school. “Following” people felt more like purely your choice.

In Generation Like, groups of young kids spoke of how “liking” on social media was a form of validation. How more likes, meant empowerment. They bragged about their social media likes, and worried when they weren’t reaching their standards.

Author Danah Boyd stated in the video, “It’s harder and harder for kids to get attention.” That’s so true. With so many personalities on display for us daily, it’s no wonder today’s kids have to scrap their way to the front of the pack.

It’s crazy for me to think that young teens these days use Twitter and Facebook as their first outlets of expression. Hotmail, Messenger, and Myspace were more private and because of their newness, they seemed not as exploitative. I’ve always considered myself part of a very selective age group, probably those born between 1991-1995, that barely missed the complete overtake of social media. We grew up as the tide of popular social media outlets crashed over society.

Middle school is a confusing time to find yourself. The newness of such a social media as Myspace, felt like they were finding themselves as well. Facebook was more popular and edgy and open, which was what high school was all about. College is stressful and there isn’t time for much, just as Twitter allows us a quick, 140-character excerpt about our day. Who knows what social media will emerge as the newest for my middle-aged years.

Growing up on the cusp of popular social media, I feel like I’ve bared witness to an evolution of technology. I feel sad for today’s kids who have never known life without it. I wonder who I would be today without it. I wonder what the impact of it will have on my future career in the Advertising and Public Relations, besides the obvious “perks” of knowing how to target young consumers. It’s allowed for so much progress in the world, but I can’t help but be skeptical as to how far social media will go in the future.

ARTPRIZE of Grand Rapids: Where To Next?

“I just want to see crazy crap all over Grand Rapids” – Rick Devos (Vande Bunte, 2011)

ARTPRIZE of Grand Rapids: Where To Next?



Artprize is described as “a radically open international art competition decided by public vote and expert jury that takes place each fall in Grand Rapids, MI.” (“Plan Your Visit”, 2016) Over the years since it’s beginning, Artprize has expanded and transformed into the world’s largest awarded art competition. The use of technology has gotten even crazier as well as the size of the event. Artprize, even from the beginning, had a special feel to it. It’s like going to a museum that’s been flipped inside out in a parallel universe. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic- but you get the idea). It’s insane!

As Jonathan Hunsberger, the Artprize Director of Technology, stated, “ArtPrize is an ever-evolving experiment, and technology is an essential catalyst within it. After eight years, we’re excited to still be leading the way audiences engage contemporary art through the use of technology” (Woods, 2016). The way people view, learn about, and vote for different pieces of art in this competition is all connected through technology.

Each year, Artprize has enhanced their mobile app to improve the way users visit Artprize. This year, the List Feature (which allows you to scroll through all of the art entries) and the Interactive Map Feature (which allows you to actively learn about nearby art entries), have both been improved on the Artprize Eight Mobile App. The basis of Artprize was to allow modern artists to present their work in a variety of unique ways, one of which being technology (Woods, 2016).

I believe in order to continue the growth of Grand Rapids, we need to invest more technology uses into Artprize, since it is such an attraction to visitors, investors, etc. Grand Rapids was recently listed as the number three ranked city in the nation for economic growth. (Lloyd, 2015)

I have lived here for five years now, and even in that time have noticed such an exponential amount of growth throughout the city. Artprize is definitely a way of showcasing the changes and improvements that the city has made each year. Tom Mroz, Vice-President of Marketing for The Right Place, “The fact that we (Grand Rapids) aren’t dedicated to one particular industry, we have a strong healthcare industry, a strong manufacturing industry we have a very strong growing IT industry” (Lloyd, 2015). He goes on to mention that there are other sectors that could grow faster, but just need the skilled workers to grow them.

Maybe showcasing technology through Artprize can bring about different business ventures, plans, or ideas. It’s a great way to say “Here’s what we have, and here’s what we can do for you.”

Mitchell Moss discusses how the growth of urban areas in supplemented extremely by the use of technology (Moss, 1998). Moss states, “The new multimedia industry needs a broad array of talent harnessed to the latest computer and graphics technologies. Large cities and metropolitan regions are best equipped to supply this skilled labor. They already have the writers to produce copy, artists to design graphics, musicians to deploy sound, and skilled technicians to integrate the various components” (Moss, 1998, pg. 117-118). Technology is so popular in art and other areas of society today, that it has no choice other than to continue growing.

Artprize, in particular, could plan to expand the use of technology in various ways. For example, they could continue and push for art entries such as Jeffrey Augustine Songco’s Let’s Dance America! (pictured), which features viewers interacting by dancing and recording the dancing via internet. The piece included a “selfie station”, a trending hashtag #LetsDanceAmerica, a geolocation Snapchat filter, and an iPhone app called “Yay America!”(Songco, 2016). Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press referred to this piece as the best video of Art Prize Eight, and called it “funny and charming” (Stryker, 2016).

Pieces like this are intriguing and keeps the technological movement going. Younger audiences, such as the ever-great millennials, are viewing these art pieces and are no longer satisfied with the exclusion of technological pieces. We want more exciting, more involved, and more user-friendly art.

Another way Artprize could advance the use of technology could be more interactive or virtual reality pieces. VR has become of high interest in society today, as we are forever in search of better technology. In fact, Artprize has began using the services of “Perspective 3-D” to enable users to view art entries on devices virtually without being physically present.

I believe, in order to keep the audiences happy and the technology growth rising in Grand Rapids, Artprize could look for even more ways of using technology, specifically in art entries. We all love a user-friendly experience in this day and age of in-your-face technologies. Who knows what could be on the horizon of the future for Artprize…





J Woods. (2016, July 26). ArtPrize Introduces New Mobile Experience (Web blog post). Retrieved from https://www.artprize.org/blog/artprize-introduces-new-mobile-experience

J Songco. (2016). Let’s Dance America! (Web blog post). Retrieved from http://www.songco.org/lets-dance-america

Llyod D., Eric. (2015, June 20). Grand Rapids Ranked 3rd in U.S. for Economic Growth. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/06/20/grand-rapids-economic-growth/29024917/

Moss, Mitchell L. (1998) Technology and Cities. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, Volume 3, Number 3, pg. 107-127. Retrieved from http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=264110083004122101000104119021107126014015033002001029031106064120028011076085004071121093099031104007049014104023096074112104065082092113067001116023023014011113090073088011069087112084&EXT=pdf

M Stryker. (2016, September 27). Discovering the sublime, avoiding the ridiculous at ArtPrize. (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://www.freep.com/story/entertainment/arts/2016/09/26/artprize-2016-review/91057992/

Plan Your Visit. (2016) Retrieved from http://www.artprize.org/visit

Vande Bunte, Matt. (September 30, 2011). Rick DeVos: ArtPrize is not about who wins, ‘I just want to see crazy crap all over Grand Rapids’ [Web]. MLive. Retrieved from http://www.mlive.com/artprize/index.ssf/2011/09/rick_devos_artprize_is_not_about_who_wins_i_just_want_to_see_crazy_crap_all_over_grand_rapids.html

Privacy vs. Convenience

As I wait for my next class to begin, I scroll through my Twitter feed. Nothing interesting. Facebook is next. I scroll past engagements, ‘happy birthdays’, and other controversial Facebook statuses. Suddenly, something intriguing such as, “What Type of Alcoholic Drink Are You? Quiz” catches my eye. (Let’s keep in mind; I am bored before class.) Out of sheer boredom, or curiosity, I click on the link. A page appears that asks my permission to access my contacts and photos, but vows never to post on my behalf. ‘Sounds good’, I think to myself.

But is it… good? I generally (and regrettably) don’t think twice accepting these kinds of terms. Even when my “George Orwell’s 1984 senses” are tingling, I can’t think past the task at hand. I think the feeling of increasing convenience will eventually cause huge complications in the future of privacy via the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things is defined as “a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data”, basically a very high-tech society. Similar to the world in which we are becoming.

In today’s society, like taking online quizzes, people are fascinated with the instant access of knowledge and convenience. According to a 2015 study by Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, 84 percent of people generally agreed that they would like some control over what marketers could learn about them, but 65 percent accepted that they have little control over the process. This just goes to show that the convenience of the Internet of Things is beginning to override society’s concern of their personal privacy.

I think the future of the Internet of Things is scary. I remember the 1999 film Smart House, in which their home was capable of doing anything. Although that is a faraway, (seemingly awesome) futuristic world, it is approaching fast. We are now capable of locking our homes on an iPhone, playing with our dogs via video cameras, and taking a different route on the way home because of predicted traffic. These are things that would have seemed absolutely insane some years ago that are now right at our fingertips.

But when do we decide “high-tech” information gathering and the Internet of Things have gone too far? When does society finally take a step back and fight for a right for privacy? Maybe these things will occur when all the basic aspects of life have become too convenient. Maybe, there will be nothing left for us to create a shortcut for. It’s a scary reality we live in.

A Fusion article stated, “Smart fridges have been hacked to reveal their users’ Google passwords; baby monitors have been hacked so that your infant can be spied on by anybody in the world; even cars have been hacked so that they suddenly break down while doing 80 mph on the highway.” (“Privacy Is An Afterthought,” 2016) These are extreme cases, but there are deep issues in the Internet of Things. And the more that people like myself ignore the risk of putting all of our personal information out there, the more likely we are to get all that information hacked and stolen for purposes we never imagined. So be sure to ask yourself, is the convenience worth the lack of privacy?




External Resources:

Turow, J., Hennessy, M., & Draper, N. (2015, June). The Tradeoff Fallacy: How Marketers Are Misrepresenting American Consumers and Opening Them Up to Exploitation [Web log post]. Retrieved September 10, 2016, from https://www.asc.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/TradeoffFallacy_1.pdf

Salmon, F. (2016, January 1). Privacy Is An Afterthought When Convenience Is King [Web log post]. Retrieved September 10, 2016, from http://fusion.net/story/250609/internet-of-things-vs-privacy/

10 Possible Careers in the World of Technology

I stumbled upon many job listings in the search for careers involving forms of technology. There were pages and pages of possible careers that were just within my reach. Here are 10 examples of these jobs that I found most captivating, in hopes that I can one day experience a similar career.

[no particular order]

1. Associate Creative Director-Design

The Mx Group


Expertise needed: Experience in digital design, UI / UX principles, excellent presentation skills

I fall short for this particular job posting for many reasons. Besides the lack of degree and 7+ years of experience in the field I am also limited in my knowledge of digital design, as I only know the basics of Photoshop. Hopefully I will gain lots more experience in this aspect, and learning more technological terms by the time I graduate.

2. Associate Creative Director



Expertise needed: Cultivate creative online strategies, experience in Flash, Flex, Ajax, etc., knowledge of interaction design

I would definitely need to learn about the programs listed above, and how/when to use them. I think experience in the field, in general, would help me be prepared for this career. I would need to learn more about different types of online design.

3. Snapchat Discover Creative Director/Editor



Expertise needed: Make decisions based on analytical analysis, experience producing editorial content, expert user of all major social media platforms

I would need to learn more about producing editorial content, and the editorial world in general. I would also need to sharpen and perfect my social media skills.

4. Art Director-Hush Puppies

Wolverine Worldwide


Expertise needed: Strong understanding of social media, proficient in Adobe Creative Suite, understanding of digital asset management, organization and distribution of files

I fall short for this job posting as well because of my lack of experience in the technological world. I would need to gain more understanding in all aspects of the needed requirements for this job. I also would need to learn what digital asset management is, as I assume that might be needed.

5. Graphic Art Director

Nicosia Creative Expresso LTD


Expertise needed: Specific design tools such as Adobe Creative Suite, modifying layout designs

Again, I have very limited experience with Adobe, and would love to learn more. I also don’t know anything about modifying layout designs. This job looks very cool.

6. Art Director

Sports Media- ESPN


Expertise needed: Extensive knowledge of Adobe CS, deep understanding of user interface, working knowledge of CSS, HTML 5, AfterEffects, JavaScript, jQuery

I don’t know what user interface is, or CSS, HTML 5, JavaScript, and jQuery for that matter. I would need to definitely take courses to perfect my skills in all things technology for this job posting especially. And again, with Adobe knowledge.

7. Fashion Office Graphic Designer

Macy’s Inc.


Expertise needed: Photo-editing skills, InDesign, Acrobat, Bridge, Keynote, Premier, Flash, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Suite

These are all skills that I would need to improve. I also have never heard of Acrobat, Bridge, Keynote, Premier, or Flash. These job postings make me feel like I know nothing about technology, but I am excited to continue learning.

8. Associate Graphic Designer



Expertise needed: E-commerce experience, Adobe, Flash, typographical skills

I have no e-commerce experience, and would definitely need to learn typographical skills. Each of these jobs requires pretty extensive knowledge of the Adobe Suite as well.

9. Social Media Manager/Graphic Designer

Chaseart Companies


Expertise needed: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Web Design, HTML, Flash

I don’t have any experience in web design, HTML, or Flash. I would need improvements in all areas listed.

10. Associate Creative Director

VSA Partners


Expertise needed: Adobe Creative Suite, design/color/typography skills, understanding of how information architecture and schematics translate into design

I definitely would need improvements in my understanding of information architecture and schematics translating into design. Again, I need to improve my Adobe Creative Suite skills, and learn more about typography as well.

Brand Yourself Pre-Test

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 4.17.50 PM

Any employer or company interested in hiring someone, due to today’s technology, is going to search for them online. It’s important for them to see someone professional presented that they feel comfortable with hiring.

I think most of my links were positive and about me, were because I don’t post negative things often on social media. I also played a lot of sports in high school, and those were many of the links that appeared when searching for my name.