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A few times in the last couple of months graduates looking to get into or starting in PR have asked me what is the best bit of advice I could give them. There are few better analogies for PR agency life then plate spinning. Though both fun and challenging, something I learned on my first week at work was that these plates can stack up quickly, so practicing good time management is an essential skill. But as is the nature of PR, there will come days when your to-do list resembles a 19th century stock ticker tape. And there will be days where you are needed for a super urgent task, meaning that you risk not being able complete other very urgent tasks. So, how can you stop your schedule resembling a real-life circus show? Here are some top tips:
- Getting a head start – at the start of each week, we make detailed workplans where we prioritise items, note down deadlines and share them with each other. Doing all this may seem either excessive or somewhat obvious, but in PR, the quality of your gameplan can make or break your working week. A good plan will help you and others prioritise to maximum effect, enabling you to complete all known tasks and making sure you have time to accommodate the unexpected.
- Communication is key – all too often, unexpected tasks pop up for one client unbeknownst to another client team. When faced with roadblocks, it is important to make other teams aware of issues, such as potential problems with meeting deadlines. Sitting on your hands hoping for them to miraculously disappear is never a good idea as they won’t. Instead, speaking up will ensure that teams can react quickly to the problem and avoid further, more serious ones down the line. It will also help you avoid any late and lonely office nights.
- Teamwork – successful PR involves working closely as a team. One of the most valuable and efficient resources I have is the team around me; in fact, at Spark we often get together as a group to brainstorm new ideas and campaigns. The team are all expert within their own particular niches (apart from Dom, who knows everything), so asking for help will not just save you time and help with your workload, but will also help you grasp subjects faster as well as open your mind to new ways of thinking. In fact, it was Michelle who suggested the theme for this blog post! Of course, such help doesn’t purely have to be work related; I frequently run my choices of bars and restaurants past our very own social critic, Leila. We all have a common goal to meet and it is best achieved by working together.
Overall, managing your time is about finding a method that works for you and sticking to it, but these three approaches above should provide a good starting point. There will of course, always be another plate to keep spinning, but communicating with your team and planning effectively will help to avoid any Greek-wedding-party-style plate smashing disasters.
(Image: By אנדר-ויק (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Common)
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It was well publicised when King of pop Justin Bieber’s Twitter account of 50 million followers was hacked. The heist saw the hacker post a couple of different Tweets in the brief period in which they had control of Justin’s account, forcing the star to warn fans to avoid clicking the harmful link he had shared. However, it is not only individuals’ Twitter accounts that are vulnerable, last month, Burger King’s Twitter feed was hacked and changed to McDonalds, so that everything from the page’s logo to its header image was altered to reflect its rival company. Not only this, but the string of Tweets sent from the account were a potential PR disaster.
If you thought that hacking was only for the famous, you thought wrong. Last month, a hacker sent my followers a range of cringe worthy Tweets on my behalf – messages ranged from ‘ROFL I had an eerie feeling this was you…’ to ‘I really enjoyed reading this blog you wrote LMAO’. Despite the embarrassment and inconvenience, my main concern was that my data has been hacked. With this recent rise in well publicised Twitter security disasters and my own experience, I thought I would share some advice on securing both your personal and business Twitter accounts.
- Use a strong password – scarily, it takes a hacker just ten minutes to hack a 6-digit password all in lower case. So, while you may think no one will guess your first name and date of birth, you’re mistaken. A password like iloveyou or firstname1987 certainly won’t combat the hack. Determined hackers can easily determine personal information by researching the facts you’ve chosen to put out there. Also – avoid well-known keyboard combinations like ‘QWERTY’, it’s no longer the quirky password of the early 00s and will leave you susceptible to hacking.
- Do not click on suspicious looking links – if your friend tweets you using language out the ordinary, like ‘LMAO’ in my case, be wary. Hackers use links to spread the web of malware to other users. By clicking on an infected link, the Twitter virus is spread. This also goes for Tweets from someone you wouldn’t normally interact with. Be cautious of unusual links or messages and avoid clicking unless you’re certain it’s safe.
- Don’t give your password up – this may sound like a simple one, but it is more common than you would imagine for hackers to gain access to your Twitter account because you told them your login details. Social networks like Twitter will never ask you for your password via email, direct message or @ interaction, so if you are asked for your password, assume this contact is suspicious.
- Be wary of third-party applications – these should be selected with care. Lots of services and apps ask for access to your Twitter account, however, these should not always be assumed safe. Famously, last year the “Mauritania Attacker”, acquired some details for accounts via a third-party app, apparently leaking thousands of Twitter account credentials. Twitter recommends that you should revoke access for any third-party application that you don’t recognise by visiting the Applications tab in Account Settings.
- Register your telephone number – by associating a telephone number to your account your online security is heightened, as after you enable this feature, you will need both your password and your phone to log in to your account. This may sound like rigmarole but could make you much less susceptible to a hack.
Following these simple steps will help to keep your mind at rest when it comes to your account’s security, ensuring that your Twitter safety or reputation isn’t compromised.