Cookie monsters or helpers?

First post-3

In public relations looking through data, measuring statistics, and tracking consumer demand is a huge component to planning and implementing campaigns.

How would you even begin to justify a budget for a campaign video without a small history of how video content has become a preferred source of information?

You simply couldn’t.

Well, you could, but then you would just be throwing vague statements out there, such as, “I have been watching a lot more videos lately on Facebook, and I think it’s because the algorithm changed in favour of viral videos and quick news bites. As a full-time employee who only gets a small amount of time in between work, exercising, seeing friends, blogging, and doing house work I don’t like watching long videos. If I apply the same logic onto our target demographic of full-time business managers they are going to have so much more on their plate. Therefore I think if we keep the video to 30 seconds and share it around lunch time I’m sure our audience will watch it and appreciate the short bite we have to say about our company”.

Cringe.

Without even realising we have quickly become reliant on Big Data and what technology can do for us on a campaign side of a B2B or B2C relationship. Quicker than what we can handle, even, because there is still so much untouched, or “raw”, data we haven’t analysed. We depend on numbers, click-through-rates, page views, shares, likes, love’s, haha’s, wow’s, sad’s, and angry’s to tell the story of what certain consumers think of our content and key message – as well as when and where they view it.

And it is mostly done through cookies.

You may have noticed little banner messages at the top or bottom of your computer or mobile screen saying, “We use cookies… close and accept”.

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 10.57.14 AM

What are cookies?
Cookies are messages your web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox) sends to a web server (Lonely Planet, Contently, eBay).

There are different types of cookies, meaning they can send different types of information back to the web server. Consumers can control the information being sent to web browsers by limiting or forbidding a web browser to send cookies back to the web server.

What do they do?
When a cookie, or message, is sent to the server about a web page you have landed on it identifies you as a user and suggests other web pages you may like to personalise your experience.

For example, if I were to go on Contently and read an article about SEO I may scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and see sponsored articles with “related” blog posts about SEO techniques and algorithms.

How does this impact businesses? 
Personalisation and user experience is key for a business’ online presence. There is a great article by McKinsey & Company with a modern marketing example following a mother purchasing yoga pants for herself, having a blog post about keeping an active and healthy lifestyle reminding her of the purchase, and then receiving a push notification a couple of days later alerting her of a 15% off sale where she makes another online purchase.

Lead generation, personalisation, and nurturing the customer journey goes beyond a click and check out or log-on log-off experience. It creates a relationship between your brand and customers founded on a two-way model of communication constantly updated through cookies. Resources spent profiling target markets are reduced significantly and accuracy is improved making your job in marketing/communications a lot easier – thank you little cookie helpers!

Why may a consumer feel uneasy about cookies and block them? 
It can feel as if you’re being followed! Not everyone is going to like how stalkerish their favourite brands can be, but then that is the sign of a good integrated campaign. When a consumer has a buying pattern of new clothes for the weekend you as a business want to be the first ones on their list to click. If they see you first your targeting demo- and psychographics are on the mark.

But then cookies can also be embarrassing. I haven’t connected my Netflix account to our Smart TV because I don’t want my house mates seeing how many RomComs and historical period dramas I really consume.

Why am I only just seeing references to cookies now? 
Businesses are required to tell you if they are accessing your information. How many times did you search ASOS for Saturday nights’ outfit only to scroll through Facebook and see an ad for a dress on eBay that looks almost identical? Yep, that’s what I thought. It’s the same with holidays. Looking up jumpers? Why not fly to somewhere warm for under $200 and escape the cool instead? Genius!

There are countless conversations held over coffee with friends trying to justify impulse shopping because you couldn’t get those earrings you saw out of mind (or were you just surrounded by sponsored advertisements?). Depending on your shopping addiction and the contents of your wallet those cookies can be monsters.

We are a generation that wants things on demand, in the now, who are driven by purpose and want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We don’t have time to be searching too long for something in store when we can be cooking dinner and purchasing next week’s groceries at the same time from home.

You would think anyone would be excited about all of this technology enabling businesses to show you clothes, travel destinations, or blog posts specific to your current needs, right?

Nope. Not everyone likes being tracked, but we expect a seamless experience when it comes to purchasing goods and services…

So are they cookie monsters or helpers?

The one month itch

First post-4

Job hunting can take many shapes and forms over a number of hours, days, weeks, months and eons. Patience is a virtue that decides to wander a bit when it has been doing well for so long, and usually does this around the one month mark.

I don’t know where it goes or what it does. Maybe Patience catches up with Cool, Calm and Collected over a bottle of red. I just know that one moment it is there and the next a big, blaring neon ‘UNEMPLOYED’ sign you didn’t see before appears. We all know the sign was there all along, but because you were focussed on making your resume look awesome, good juju, and proactive action you had all those endorphins from making calls and sending emails coursing through your veins. There was no room for doubt!

But then you feel it. The one month itch.

I thought because I had been warned about the itch I would be able to slip past the worry. I thought that because I had received such great advice from fellow expats I would see the signs and be able to ignore them. But patience wanders, doubt on your abilities can creep in, and sometimes you just need a bottle of red.

When I moved over I was confident that within 2 months I would find a job. I have support from my friends and family, a UK phone number, and 5 days a week to contact recruiters and HR teams giving myself the weekend off so I wouldn’t burn out.

Job hunting is not easy anywhere around the world. One of the Aussies I have met so far has said it took her 2 months to start her job, and another friend 6 months of consistent job searching. My fellow expat The Roaming Blonde has also written about how New York City can push you in ways you didn’t know you could be pushed in work and life. It is no different here in Manchester. If job hunting was easy national unemployment rates would be a lot lower than 5% of the population and less tabloids about there being a skills shortage in the marketplace.

At the one month mark I still have a whole month to secure a job and achieve my goal. And yet, even though I am fully aware I still have another month, I am scratching.

The best piece of advice I have received is to watch out for this one month itch, acknowledge it is there, and acknowledge all of the things you have achieved up to this point. After all it has only been one month!

The itch can tempt you with the option of settling for less in the hopes that the job you really want will come along soon. This is the easy option and only the temporary solution to a long term goal. Don’t do it to yourself.

You can get to the point where you think you want to take anything. You want a job to keep you occupied, you want stability, you want an income. I get it, I am there with you, but eventually you move passed it.

Negativity has a huge impact on your frame of mind and confidence, so stop scratching, get the balm out and make a new move.

What can you do different?  
List the things you did that caught someone’s attention (I love lists and keeping them simple is key!). Look at what you’ve been doing over the past month. What has worked and what hasn’t worked at getting an interview or phone call?

  • Did contact via email, phone, or LinkedIn work better?
  • Was it when you attached a cover letter even when they didn’t ask for one?
  • Is there a particular job site you were able to find more roles to apply for directly to the potential employer?
  • Is a follow up call or email the best way to stay in touch with recruiters and HR departments about jobs?
  • How do you try something new – even if it is out of your comfort zone – to get your foot in the door?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going… again.

So crack on!

The misconception of job hunting

First post-6

Terror, fear of the unknown, and mornings spent lounging in pyjamas staring at a closed laptop. These may be a few of your not so favourite first thoughts starting the job hunt process. In one ear there are professionals commenting on a shortage of jobs available in the market, while in the other ear a job search website can reveal over 2,000 specialised positions waiting for the right candidate to apply.

The common misconception of successful – and relatively quick – job hunting is that it takes a special type of person to put themselves out there over and over again despite little to no response.

It can defeat a job seeker’s enthusiasm before the search has even begun.

But put yourself in the employers’ shoes – if you were looking for someone to join your team, wouldn’t you advertise above and beyond to get the cream of the crop? (Hopefully you say yes!) Thankfully, it doesn’t all come down to simply experience and qualification. How you present yourself, champion your skills and strengths, and personably respond to challenges are – in some workplaces – the deciding factors.

Part of the job searching process is having the courage and determination to apply yourself for a job above your capabilities.

How can a person learn if they do not acknowledge the skills they use need constant reworking? How will a person show their future employers they are a driven individual if they do not reach out and open a line of communication?

By throwing yourself in the deep end of job descriptions and responsibilities you are opening the door to opportunity. Be dedicated to highlighting your skills, strengths, and achievements in a visually pleasing format for recruiters and employers and you are guaranteed to receive feedback.

Here are three key things I started with to overcome a morning of mourning my resume and get down to business hunting for my next job:

1. Write down achievements.
Quantifying your experience in itself is a valuable skill to have in a workplace, and one that has to start somewhere. No matter what type of job you are applying for – whether it be an internship, graduate position, or executive role – you will have an achievement to highlight. It is a section of your resume that stands out more than Objective or Qualities because achievements provide a snapshot of a specific task you needed to complete, and give the employer an idea of what qualities it takes to complete such tasks without getting too wordy. Try and make these achievements varied so they outline your key skills you want to highlight for that particular role or industry.

2. Add metrics.
Once there are between three to seven dot points enhance them by adding a measurable figure and timeline. They immediately evolve from a sentence about you at work to a business objective you have accomplished. I think back to my university lecturers saying objectives need to be SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. If you were part of a team that increased sales performance by 20% in a week or quarter – put that statistic in. If you delivered a campaign or article that boosted engagement by 40% those are numbers future employers want to see. Writing SMART achievements will set you apart from other applicants.

3. Dot point skills.
The risk with writing your resume is that it can fill up with a lot of words and not enough white space to make for an appealing read. By dot pointing skills you are clearly identifying your foundations of working knowledge. I have read a lot of “resume how to” articles lately and a common thread between them is turning away from listing soft skills such as “excellent communicator” and “emotionally intelligent”. These may be important for your role, but I agree that they belong in a small summary section of you on your resume or LinkedIn profile and not listed amongst hard skills such as “writing and editing”, “project monitoring”, and software programs you use.

If you find yourself repeating skills, and wanting to highlight specific soft skills you know will be important for your next role, create a dot point list  called Strengths as part of your Summary on the front page of your resume.

Applying for jobs starts with updating and reviewing your resume. During my interviews with recruiters and HR gatekeepers I received positive feedback on these three particular aspects of my resume and it boosted me with confidence to hear the hard work I had put into my resume had payed off.

Look for examples online, read through job descriptions you want to apply for, and even search through LinkedIn for inspiration. The only relevant misconception of job hunting is that it is effortless and can be done effectively in one day.

 

My First Post

my first post

It has come to my attention that I am a writer who doesn’t write.

There are untouched notebooks in a draw and pens and a bucket of stationery just begging to be used. Yet no real evidence of the written word. It had me wondering what it meant to be a writer in the first place and where it was my food for thought came from.

Travel. Food. Tea. Friends. Nights out. Morning sun. Living local.           

It was all of the above.

For every trip I have taken I feel this urge to write down what I had done and seen in the day – just to make sure I captured all of the small details I knew I would forget in a week or two time. I believe planning is almost as fun as the trip itself and hearing about other people’s travels feeds our soul for adventure.

When I visit a new café, restaurants, bar, pub or hole in the wall somewhere I feel this need to take a photo of the experience – in between salivating over my wine and scoffing down the deliciousness – or tell my friends about it. It lets them know I’m thinking of them and hopefully will have an excuse to go back too.

Although who needs an excuse for more food right? ‘Cause this jalapeño bagel isn’t going to eat itself every week at the markets unless I’m there…

I love tea. Tea was meant to be shared. I love the history of tea and the way it has been infused into cultures – each culture seeping or infusing it differently and for different purposes. There is nothing that a good brew cannot fix – you just have to find the right one.

Morning sun is something I can never get enough of. I can enjoy it in bed, on the balcony, by the river, and through my kitchen window. There are so many things I can get done in the mornings too. Simple life hacks that just make future Bree’s life a little easier and makes present Bree work out a little. Sometimes it works, aaaand sometimes it doesn’t. You’ll be able to tell by the article which one it was.

So with an emphasis on all of the above I am going to start writing again and call up my creative side. Most of the images I use will hopefully be taken by myself, but I have been introduced to Canva and it has turned into a love affair.

My goal is just to write for the love of writing and hopefully share something of meaning for others along the way.

~ Bree