Interview with Tabish Bhimani, Deputy Convener, Media Relations at World Partnership Walk

This week in the Interview Series, we have Tabish Bhimani, a communications professional from Montreal, Canada who is currently working with the World Partnership Walk; Canada’s largest fundraising event against global poverty. In this Q&A, Tabish discusses his love for PR, career paths, time management and the importance of social media and blogging for job hunting.

Q1. Looking back, what do you think was the number one reason that made you realise you want to work in the Public Relations and Communications industry?

When I took my first and only PR course, I learnt that PR is about creating win-win situations. It’s about creativity, its about people, and its about trust. This is in line with the way I think, and what better way to sustain that faith than to be a part of an industry that exists in that mindset? Every single person I have come across in PR or a similar field is about people. They are about helping people, about connecting with people, and about building relationships. And we’re about telling stories. These are the most natural human instincts. Getting paid to live life? Heaven yes!

Q2. At the moment you’re working as the Deputy Convener at the World Partnership Work, what type of career path led you to this current role?

Great question! My role as the Deputy Convener for Media Relations at the World Partnership Walk is a purely voluntary role. The Walk is run by volunteers, and a 100% of the funds raised go directly to development work, and not one cent is spent on administrative costs.

Since the spirit of volunteerism runs high in my community, what better an opportunity would present itself than working in Media Relations? I was suggested as the next DC for the Walk by my previous DC, Naila Jinnah (@NailaJ). I learnt a lot from her, and I continue to do so.

On a day to day basis, my involvement has been to write pitches, talk to journalists, scope opportunities to Talk the Walk, work on organic Social Media growth, and in general, get people involved in a wonderful, pragmatic cause. It was definitely the logical step for me to take in pursuing my career in PR. It was a great playground, we could try out new ideas, and at the same time, I could sharpen my skills working in a professional environment. It was kind of a year-long internship!

Q3. You’re also the owner of Konception, a development/design company, how’s that going?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur gene runs through the veins in all of my family members. So even when I was 14, I started conducting business in the creative world. I started Milestones Montreal recently, which is an ethnic wedding planning company. The way I conduct business is through personal references. While studying, my time was limited, so I focused on working only with clients I knew through a personal reference. I wanted to evolve and so I moved on to event planning from design. Each activity I’ve undertaken has subsumed the previous and so design becomes an integral part of Milestones Montreal. I don’t spend a lot of time on either companies, marketing myself. So, how’s it going? Great! Just the way I want it to!

Q4. Between working, running your own company and managing your own blog, how do you find the time?

If there is one thing I learnt at university, it was time management. Being in the family business, running my own personal ventures, and keeping a blog, its difficult. I haven’t updated my blog in over a month. But remember, great content and great relationships last a long time. Life, technologies, ideas, and people. We all continue to evolve, to grow. So I want to keep updating my blog and touch base with my colleagues and associates to keep the spark alive.

Even now, I read some blog posts on PR Daily, and things that some of my most esteemed colleagues like Lauren Gray (@laurenkgray) share, and they spark great ideas for me to write blog posts on. My professor, Scot Gardiner who passed away last week said that he writes arbitrary thoughts and ideas on a piece of paper and puts them in a shoe box. Several months later he opens the shoe box and finds that the ideas have been talking to themselves, conspiring to create something greater! That’s what I’m doing with my involvements. We all evolve together. See? Win-win!

Q5. In your opinion, do you think having a blog is essential for all PR students?

A blog is essential. Most definitely. Why? You get a chance to hone your writing skills: brevity, wit, timing. You develop these through a blog, and in turn, they develop you. In our industry, writing is crucial, but so is non-verbal communication. Choosing the right photograph or imagery is also essential. A blog is like a playground. You get to do all these things AND you can track your progress.

I also want to quickly mention why timing is important. Just over two years ago when my previous university’s teaching assistants went on strike, I happened to be right outside the ratification hall at 10 PM. I asked one of them who had come out about what was going on. She shared the results with me. I went home, and promptly blogged about it. I have never, to date, received the number of unique hits that day. I was the first person to break the news. A blog allows you to appreciate the importance of timing. It is about relevance.

Q6. What about social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook?

To an outsider, all these social networks are the same. But I’ve picked up certain nuances about the networks. I don’t use Twitter for the same reason I use Facebook. My use of LinkedIn is admittedly limited, but I find several commonalities between Twitter and LinkedIn, at least for the PR Industry. I meet new people more on Twitter than I do on LinkedIn, and I meet some very cool people now on Facebook. Facebook is more private though, and not everyone who follows you on Twitter may want to be your Facebook friend. You have to experience the dynamics and take note.

A word of caution though, and this comes from my own experience. Don’t get on too many social sites and networks. Don’t create Twitter accounts and Facebook pages for the companies that are your clients as an obvious tool in your arsenal. This could really fall flat on its face. Do you have the resources to continue to manage those pages and profiles? Let it all be organic. Remember, its just an extension of real life, although the dynamics are altered. But behind every technology there is a person. Think of it this way: I want to talk to the Air Canada representative at the airport. They have a booth. But is there a person behind it? You have an account. But is someone monitoring it? Talking back? Get back to the basics.

Q7. And lastly, what’s the most importance advice you can give to a PR student?

I have only two pieces of advice. Believe in yourself. You are only limited because you haven’t tried. Hold true to your purpose which makes up your faith, and in everything you do, live your purpose. And be specific okay? The other piece of advice? Don’t sell yourself short. Especially to yourself.

***To contact Tabish, get in touch via Twitter @TabishB or check out his blog***

Interview with Dan Fonseca, Blogger and Communications Student

This week in the Interview Series, we have Dan Fonseca, blogger and communications student from New Jersey, talking to us about blogging, time management, personal branding, internships and job hunting.

Q1. What do you think was the one main reason you chose the media and communications industry?

Essentially, music was my gateway drug. My high school years were spent writing, playing, recording, and promoting my own music online. That was when I really first got exposed to social media. After initially going to Northeastern University for Music Industry, I found that it was too limiting and that I wanted to think about media on a larger scale. I had watched how the Internet had disrupted the music business and began to see the trends take hold in other industries. I guess my curiosity took over from there.

Q2. Looking at your LinkedIn profile, you’ve got quite a lot of things in the pipeline with your studies, blog, HypeGenius. How do you manage your time?

Lists. I am a self proclaimed stickie junkie. Until I starting using Evernote, my physical and digital desktops were stickie war-zones. I find that I free up “intellectual space and processing power” when I write things down as weird as that sounds. It also makes it easy to take a macro or micro view of a project or my life if need be. It essentially puts things into perspective and focus, I find that helps manage my time and priorities.

Q3. I’ve been reading your blog – Synapses – and judging by a few posts, it’s not your average communications student diary now is it? What are you aiming for with Synapses?

Synapses is really about breaking down mental models. I find that the disorientation that comes with the initial breakdown and the subsequent rebuilding not only forces me to understand ideas and notions better but also gives me more insight to them; sometimes even the opportunity to challenge them too.

Since it’s online for the world to see, it forces me to have a better grasp on it than I would generally have. In a way it is a check against my laziness. I am also reminded that it’s my reputation that I am playing with. In another light, it’s great to archive your thoughts. I can’t wait to look back a couple of years and see where I have grown.

Q4. In your opinion, how important is a blog for a communications student on a job hunt?

Personal branding is everything. I’d like to challenge everyone to develop a blog no matter how in depth they would want to go. The blog does wonders for the job search in my mind. The resume is great when you want to aggregate credentials and experience points but truthfully that is only part of the overall employment equation.

Company culture is critical. How will a resume and a short interview really get a grasp on whether you are a good match or not? In my mind, a blog communicates your thought process, values, and communication skills, all vital components to a proper employment situation. Let your blog separate you from everyone else. After all with competition always on the rise, what else are you doing to do?

Q5. Rank these in order of personal preference: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Personal Blog

Ouch that’s like picking a favorite child but you leave me no choice…

1. Personal Blog

2. Twitter

3. Facebook

4. YouTube

5. LinkedIn

Q6. What was your internship at Glassnote Records like?

Fantastic and terrifying. New York City can be overwhelming in all aspects. Getting used to the city’s speed and the people’s personality was initially tough. My time at Glassnote taught me a lot about the music industry but the real education take aways were in regards to small business relations, power dynamics, decision making, and ultimately how I felt towards what I learned.

It was more of a personal development opportunity than a traditional “experiential learning” internship. Loved it but I don’t think I would jump into it again. I would, however, recommend it to anyone. The people at Glassnote really know what they are doing.

Q7. What do you think are the top 3 most important things to keep in mind when looking for a job in the communications field?

  1. Learning and personal growth opportunities. Companies invest time and resources in you and you do the same. What are you getting from your “investment” apart from the unimportant, possible, monetary reward? How will this job help prepare you for the next chapter in the industry and your life?
  2. Freedom from the work place, you work to live not live to work. You need a proper balance between the both. You decided what that means to you.
  3. Play up that personal brand. Use all the tools available to communicate who you are, your strengths, dreams, and personal conflicts. What are you passionate about and how can you channel that towards the employment and self actualization process?

Q8. And lastly, for all the students out there looking to intern, what’s your number one advice?

Think of an internship as the safest way to fail miserably. Internships are a great way to “taste” industries, departments, companies, culture, and management. It’s better to find out that you HATE something before it’s too late. That gift is invaluable.

Nothing against the music industry and Glassnote Records but thanks to my internship I found out that I did not necessarily enjoy the record label atmosphere. For that, I can’t thank them enough. The opportunity to learn and bail after a period of time in any employment setting is rare outside of an internship. Don’t overlook this opportunity.

***To contact Dan, get in touch via Twitter @whoisdanfonseca or check out his blog Synapses***

Interview with Vu Nguyen, Director of Advertising at Residence Hall Association

This week in my Interview Series, we have Vu Nguyen, an advertising student from Lansing, Michigan, talk about his internship experiences, using LinkedIn to network and the importance of a portfolio.

Q1. So currently you’re completing a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising. What was it about the advertising industry that drew you in?

The creativeness of the field! I learned Photoshop my Sophomore year in high school and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever! So coming to college, looking at all of the different majors, minors, and specialization’s was quite overwhelming. After talking to some counselors about advertising, I had found my perfect degree!

Q2. You completed a couple of internships back in 2010, tell us what your experiences were  like?

I was a Freshmen in college at the time and was told I wouldn’t be able to get any internships because of my lack of experience. I managed to get two internships, one as a graphic designer for a realtor and a production’s intern for a government access channel. I learned a great deal about myself and advertising. Having an internship is a great way to receive real world experience, you make a lot of new friends and learn how to work in a team.

3. Did social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn play a part in finding internships?

Social networks did indeed play a huge role. I used LinkedIn a lot to connect with professionals from my city and they were impressed that I was contacting them and that led to a lot of opportunities.

4. How important do you think having a portfolio or blog is as part of a job hunt?

I think having a portfolio is one of the most essential things you could have. It displays your abilities and creativity, things you need in the advertising industry. If you don’t happen to have a portfolio, bring in a sketchbook with different designs or copy to show the company you’re full of ideas!

5. And lastly, what’s the most important advice you would give to a university student looking to get into an internship?

Some important advice I would give to students would be to NETWORK! People are here to help you, talk to friends, counselors, professors, and use university career pages to find employers who are looking for jobs or interns. I also definitely suggest having an online portfolio, it makes things a lot easier for you and the people who want to hire you!

***To contact Vu, get in touch via iBelieve.vu@gmail.com or check out his work at www.vunguyendesign.com and www.behance.net/believe***

A Day in the Life of Corrie McLeod, Managing Director at Espresso Communications

As the Managing Director of Espresso Communications, Corrie has transformed the organisation from a freelance gig into a successful communications company.

She’s worked with clients like the Motorcycle Council of NSW and Interactive Games, and has been been a finalist for the Best Media Relations Award by the IT Journalism community, three years running (2008, 2009, 2010).

Let’s see what typical day for Corrie looks like:

READY, STEADY, GO!

5.30am – Stumble out of bed and tumble to the kitchen pour myself a cup of ambition.  Nobody says it better than Dolly really…

5.45am – Hit the computer and clear emails that have arrived overnight, predominantly from Europe and North America.

7am – Babysitter arrives and I hit the road with the puppy  so both of us can get some fresh air and exercise.

8am – Back for breakfast and hang out with Mr 7 who is now awake and devouring a bowl of cereal before heading to the office.

9am – Arrive at the office and spend the next hour and a half working on client activities and chatting with the team to get an update on what they are working on.

10.30am – Head to CeBit with one of our senior team members to meet with three of our clients and have a look at what’s on show. Run into lots of folks and have a good laugh with our clients who after three days at the show have the end in sight.

12.20pm – Make a quick call to a client whilst walking to another meeting.

12.30 pm –  Meet over lunch with Espresso’s Consumer Lead who is working with me on planning our staff offsite in late July. It’s a surprise for the team so I can’t go into details but we meet with an exciting and inspiring person to discuss how they will facilitate a morning training session for us.

2pm – Race back to the office for a meeting with our bookkeeper and accountant in readiness for EOFY. Rather a change of pace from the lunch meeting!

3pm – Time to pick up Mr 7 from school.

3.30pm – Mr 7 and I head back to the office where he reads us all a brilliant pirate story he wrote (to much applause from the team). Mr 7 watches a video in the boardroom, while I crack on with emails and draft a short document.

5pm – Head home for the day, spend an hour giving the puppy a run and practicing some skipping with Mr 7 who is entering Jump Rope for Heart. He’s great little skipper and I’m quickly out of breath!

6pm – Dinner and parental duties on a quiet night at home. After the small person has gone to bed, I check emails, potter around on Facebook and watch some TV.

9.30pm – Crash!

***To contact Corrie, visit Espresso Communications or get in touch via Twitter @Espressocomms***

A Day in the Life of Mohnish Prasad, Business Development Manager at Jump On It

While the series so far has focused mainly on PR professionals, I thought it would be cool to branch out to other similar industries.

Mohnish is currently the Business Development Manager at Jump On It –  one of the largest group buying organisations in Australia – with a role that’s focused on using social media to connect businesses with new markets.

But besides working for a company that boasts an awesome name, Mohnish is also a budding rock star, self-declared table tennis champion and recovering poker addict. How does he juggle all of this? Well, seems like playing on the PS3 after work is the answer!

READY, STEADY, GO!

6.30am – Wake up from hibernation to shower and get ready for work

7.00am  – leave home and drive to the station

7.30am – On a train heading into the city. I like  the train because it give me time to check and respond to emails, get latest industry news, update Facebook while ignoring numerous friend requests from randoms, check twitter feed. I like to listen to some tunes on my iPod while all this is in progress .

8.20am – Arrive at office for a new day of work, check emails at office and respond to any urgent ones.

8.30am – Team meeting to go through previous days sales results and month to date results and forecasts.

9.00am – New business lead generating and lead washing to ensure client is not being contacted by multiple people. Cold calling

10.30am – Quick break go for a quick walk to the harbour.

10.45am – Back in office to continue cold calling and lead generating

12.30 pm – Lunch I like to go out and eat lunch by the harbour but if its really busy I just eat at my desk or in the office kitchen

1.30 pm – Back in the office. Cold calls are done for the day, follow-up appointments set, contracts sent out and majority of new client pitching done. Send out emails to these clients

2.00pm– Follow up and reconnect with warm leads and with clients who I already manage. I like to keep the line of communication open so my existing clients can bounce marketing and sales ideas off of me and I can provide them with any feedback.

3.30pm – Quick break another walk around the harbour while snacking on something yummy or tuna..which is not in the yummy category but is still considered food.

3.45pm – Chase up any outstanding contracts

4.30pm – Respond to emails and start planning and reviewing campaigns that are yet to go live.

5.30pm – Pack up and head to the train station to continue working on leads and planning for the next day on the way home.

6.45pm – Arrive at gym and start work out.

8.00pm – Leave gym and head home for some dinner and relaxation.

9pm – Shower,  eat, watch some Foxtel, DVD with my sister or play some PS3 to unwind.

11pm – In bed, ready to sleep

***To contact Mohnish, get in touch via mohnish.prasad@jumponit.com or through his LinkedIn***