By Nelson Ramos Avila
School can be very stressful, especially right now during COVID times. You may live in a hectic household where you are unable to concentrate and complete assignments. Or maybe everything going on right now is stressing you out times 10 and affecting your schoolwork. Lavender essential oil can ease the anxiety and calm down a stressful situation for students like you. Here are three reasons college students should use lavender essential oil to reduce stress and help them focus.
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Students are highly prone to anxiety, just think about when you are waiting for exam results. In 2012, a study was published in Phytomedicine, that analyzed 15 clinical trials that already had been published. It was determined that supplements that contained lavender oil had therapeutic effects on patients struggling from anxiety and stress. So, when you have an upcoming exam you feel stressed and anxious about, you can inhale some lavender and feel more at ease, which will help you do better on your exam.
Students are prone to insomnia. In fact, according to “Sleep Problems in University Students – An Intervention,” a 2017 study published n Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 60% of all college students suffer from a poor sleep quality, and 7.7% meet all criteria of an insomnia disorder. You may feel that the only way to help insomnia is by taking pharmaceutical drugs. However, there is a natural option to help with this issue. The solution may be as simple a lavender essential oil. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers concluded that sleep hygiene techniques and lavender essential oil therapy aided college students get a better night's sleep than just sleep hygiene. The 79 students with self-reported sleep problems also found inhaling lavender at bedtime enriched daytime energy and vibrancy significantly. It may only take enough to inhale lavender before bed to visit dreamland.
3. Improve Concentration
Lavender oil is best known for its relaxation effects. However, it can also help improve concentration. Effectiveness of Aroma on Work Efficiency: Lavender Aroma During Recess Prevents Deterioration of Work Performance,” a 2005 Japanese study published in Chem Senses, concluded that when lavender is inhaled during a break at work, it can result in a boost in concentration once one gets back to work. So, when you are studying for a big exam and really need to concentrate, remember that inhaling some lavender oil can do the trick. Try this whenever you can’t seem to focus on schoolwork or studying.
Lavender essential oil is a great natural way to help improve your sleep and your concentration. Try it out this semester and let us know in the comments if you see any improvement.
By Natalie Rojas
Internships seem to be an essential priority in all college students’ minds, but especially for juniors and seniors. Earned bachelor’s degrees accompanied by blood, sweat and tears seem to have less value if not backed up with experience. As a junior in college myself, I know how important it is to land an internship. But if that isn’t already challenging enough, the real obstacle lies in the absolute connection and creativity shown in your resume and cover letter format.
Unlike resumes that can sneak by in a cookie-cutter format, cover letters should connect an individual’s uniqueness to the desired internship position.
Last semester I sought help from one of my favorite professors, and in his wise words, he said, “If you can’t market yourself, how do you expect to work in the marketing industry.” And at that moment, all the informational classes I took on, “How to Write a Cover Letter,” went out the window.
This professor and I worked on transforming my traditional cover letter into a new personalized story format throughout the winter break. I know it sounds taboo to write your cover letter like a story, but what a better way to have employers remember you. After all, this story is based on a true story.
Here are five-steps to transform your traditional cover letter into a new personalized story format.
Step 1. Who are You and What Drives You?
Selecting an ideal internship is usually driven by ulterior motives, such as personal connections to the company, the same mission, values, etc. Therefore, it is important to first identify what connects you to the company and why you are the perfect candidate.
Step 2. Research the Company's History.
In relation to the infamously known PR process, the first step in creating a personalized cover letter is research. As journalism and/or public relations majors, we are all aware of how important it is to know the ins and outs of a topic. Therefore, researching and knowing the company will not only benefit you during the interview but also show employers your devotion to the company in your cover letter.
Career experts always say to research a company before applying for a job and before you head in for an interview. In an article by HUFFPOST, the author states that “Being prepared for the job interview demonstrates to the employer that the job seeker is genuinely interested in the job. And, that preparation is often viewed by the employer as an example of the job seeker’s work.”
Take the introduction of my cover letter, for example. I connected L’Oreal’s humble beginnings to the humble beginnings of my family’s own history (i.e., creating a story through these connections). And additionally, demonstrating to the employer that I am genuinely interested in the job.
Step 3. Utilize Keywords.
Because of the much-appreciated invention of the internet, mostly all applications are submitted online. This means that your resume and cover letter will be processed and scanned through the Applicant Tracking System or ATS before it ever meets the eyes of an employer. The ATS is a software application that scans resumes and other job recruitment documents for relevant keywords such as skills, job titles, and educational backgrounds.
Therefore, your cover letter’s body should exhibit your skills in connection to the skills required in the job application. For example, some of the ideal skills for the L’Oreal internship description are as follows:
So, in the body of my cover letter, I made sure to incorporate the relevant and previously listed skills based on my acquired learned skills. After this step has been completed, you can double-check your work on practice ATS checking websites. Websites like these are particularly fantastic because they are free for the first eight checks, and the website gives you a grade. Therefore, you can continue to adjust till you receive your desired grade. However, it should be noted that companies can personalize their ATS, so websites like these are not “set in stone” and are only meant as practice.
Step 4. Continue to Connect.
As previously mentioned, your cover letter is telling a story. So, tell the story well. Find an answer to What does the company personally means to you? Why do you honor or respect this company? When did you realize this company was important to you? Remember, you are competing against hundreds or thousands of people who have worked equally as hard or harder than you. But without a doubt, you are the perfect candidate for the job, duh!
For example, in my cover letter, I expressed that I am the perfect candidate because I bring valuable insight as a consumer. Note that I demonstrate that I am a consumer through a personal story that is meaningful to me. In turn, this story gives confirmation to L’Oreal that their products are providing pleasant and meaningful memories. Additionally, I am showcasing my knowledge in the divisions L’Oreal is broken into and how their campaign strategies have successfully affected me as an adult. (Note how this relates to Step 1. Research)
Step 5. Conclude.
After all that writing and great connections, it’s finally time to conclude. For this uniquely styled cover letter format, the only thing that should always be kept traditional is the conclusion.
Your letter’s final paragraph is key — it’s what leaves the last impression of you with an employer. Consequently, this is where you should place your call-to-action. What’s the name of the position you are applying for?
Lastly, you should always keep a respectful tone when you thank them for their time and consideration (as seen in my conclusion above). Additionally, you may choose the closing salutation of your own liking; however, I would say “sincerely” is your safest bet.
Congratulations! You have successfully transformed your cover letter into a new personalized story format. Now you are ready to hit submit and land that internship.
If you need help completing your new transformers cover letter, here is my final product.
By Natalie Olayo
As great PR professionals, it is our job to be well informed and do our best to be proactive rather than reactive, especially in today’s era of cancel culture. Social media has given brands and companies a platform to engage and speak to their publics directly, and the power to reach millions of people. But with great power comes great responsibility. Twitter has become the forefront of cancel culture, which is usually a result of miscommunication, misinformation or lack of respect toward a group of people. So, let’s talk about how not to get canceled and the biggest things we can do to avoid cancel culture.
What is Cancel Culture and Why Does It Matter?
Cancel culture is when the public no longer supports a public figure or company after they said or did something deemed inappropriate by the masses. Depending on what it is, one incident can leave a lasting impression on people, and it may be hard to regain their trust. Our primary responsibility as public relations professionals is to maintain a positive image for those that we represent, and being canceled is essentially the last thing we want for a client, or ourselves.
How to Avoid Cancel Culture
Do Your Research and Read the Room
Part of our responsibility as public relations experts is to stay up-to-date on politics, social/current events and consumer feedback. We do this through research. Commenting on a topic of conversation without being properly informed can tarnish your credibility and come off as being insensitive. Be sure to be aware of the general consensus, and only speak on an issue if there is something you feel would be a good contribution.
Stay On Brand
Everyone wants to go viral and everyone wants to be accepted, but don’t try too hard to get there. It’s okay to use memes and be funny, but let it be organic. Just be sure to stay on brand because you don’t want to get laughed at for your continuous bad jokes, or joking about the wrong topic and being labeled as something you’re not.
Fans and consumers have backgrounds of all kinds, and it is the brand’s responsibility to see and reflect that. Part of being inclusive is to truly try and understand your publics and be genuine! People can see right through it if you’re only being inclusive for the sake of appearance and acceptance. Whether you’re working on an advertisement or conducting focus groups, be sure to include people of many different backgrounds that represent your target audience.
It is of the utmost importance that you proofread all that you make public—for grammar and sensitivity issues, too. Make sure your wording is clear. With text it is easy for tone to be misread, or the message to be misinterpreted. If you’re unsure about it, chances are you shouldn’t publish it. Get a second opinion just in case.
Don’t Take It Personal
As we know, people on social media are very critical, and there will be several comments you come across that may trigger your emotions. It is important that you don’t respond out of emotion and potentially ruin the image of those you represent. There may be instances where your personal opinions may clash with theirs, leave your personal feelings at home.
People on Twitter enjoy finding old tweets that can harm someone’s image. Many people have tweets from 5+ years ago that did not age well. The trolls will take those old tweets and run with them. Be sure to go back and look through your old tweets. Make sure there are no tweets that could be misunderstood or misused. That goes for both your Twitter and the brand’s.
Overall, it is important that we are always careful of what we say and do in public. We have millions of people at our fingertips and it’s our job to understand them and provide a place of belonging and respect online. Lack of information and attention to detail—big or small—can be detrimental to us and those that we represent. We are in the middle of a pandemic, as well as pushing for social justice, understand that times are a lot more sensitive. Be an advocate, be understanding, be compassionate and do right by those that you represent as well as those you cater to.
If you ever find yourself or your company being cancelled, it is important that you have a plan for your comeback. As PR professionals, one of the best ways to learn is from other people’s past mistakes. With that being said, start reading case studies and identify what went wrong as well as what they could’ve done better. Stay up-to-date with topics of conversation, watch the news, but most importantly, take the time to listen to your people—internally and externally.
By Nadia Vasquez
In a career where strong writing is an essential skill, having strong grammar should be like second nature. While many of us are already equipped with these skills, you may find yourself writing sometimes and thinking, “Is it who or whom?” Or “What is the difference between a lot of words that are spelled quite similar?” This blog post is here to help you. Whether you mix up terms all the time or just need a refresher, these are 10 common mistakes you could be making in your writing and how to avoid.
1. Who vs. Whom
This is one that is very easy to mix up and many probably aren’t even aware of what their difference is. “Who” is used when referring to the subject of a sentence while whom is used as an object of a verb or a preposition.
Ex: Who asked the question? He asked the question.
Ex: Whom should I take to the movies?
The easiest way to differentiate them is by placing pronouns in place. If “he” fits in the sentence, it’s “who”, if “him” fits, it’s “whom”.
2. Lie vs. Lay
This is another pair of words that are used interchangeably, but there is a difference between them. They are both verbs, but their difference is in their tense. “Lay” is used when you place something down; “lie” is used when the action has been done and it is in the current position of being placed down.
Ex: I lay down on my bed every night.
Ex: I lie in bed until noon.
3. Fewer vs. Less
These words are some you may not recognize you are confusing, but their difference is rather simple. “Fewer” is used for things that can be counted, while “less” is used for things that cannot be counted.
Ex: There are fewer than three slices of bread left.
Ex: There is even less water in here than yesterday.
4. Then vs. Than
These words are probably some of the worst offenders of people’s grammar mistakes. They are very common in today’s time and understanding their difference is important. “Then” is used to show a place in time, while “than” is used when comparing two subjects.
Ex: She went to the movies, then she went to dinner.
Ex: She would rather go to the movies than dinner.
5. To vs. Too
Yet another fairly mixed-up set of words. “To” has several meanings, but most commonly it is used in front of a noun or verb that suggest going to something. Too is used to suggest a large amount or as a synonym for “also.”
Ex: He is going to the store to buy food.
Ex: He’s eating way too much food.
6. Affect vs. Effect
This is a tough one. Many people aren’t aware of the difference between these two words and have probably been too scared to ask. Their difference is actually quite simple. “Affect” is used as a verb and shows action, while “effect” is a noun that is the result of a change.
Ex: She didn’t know the sun would affect her car.
Ex: The sun had a harsh effect on her car.
7. Your vs. You’re
These two are constantly used interchangeably despite their simple differences. “Your” is a possessive adjective that is used to describe something belonging to you, while “you’re” is a contraction of the words “you are.” A good trick to remember is if you can replace “you’re/your” in the sentence with “you are,” then the proper choice for that sentence is “you’re.”
Ex: Your car is dirty; you should wash it.
Ex: You’re very optimistic today.
8. Peek vs. Peak
Are you looking at something or are you cresting something? Peak is used when discussing the top or point of something, while peek is used when referring to looking.
Ex: They’re at the peak of the mountain.
Ex: They’re taking a peek at tomorrow’s work.
9. Loose vs Lose
These are mixed up easily because of their close spelling. However, they have very big differences. “Loose” is used to show that something is not tight or contained, while “lose” is used as a verb to show loss of something.
Ex: Everything is falling out because the pockets are loose.
Ex: It’s a shame they had to lose their spot.
10. Ensure vs Assure
While these words may not seem like they will be mixed up, it is still easy to misuse them.
“Ensure” is used when making something certain and “assure” is used to remove doubt and place confidence. Even their explanations sound quite similar.
Ex: I assure you this mistake won’t happen again.
Ex: I will ensure that he makes it to his appointment.
The English language can be confusing with many similar words. But by remembering these 10 commonly misused words, you can improve your writing and your grades.
By Monique Garcia
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the history of humankind. They have the power to create, to destroy, to heal and to harm. Best of all, they have the power to inspire. Below is a collection of quotes from some of the most successful and interesting people in public relations.
Here are seven of the most inspiring PR quotes I’ve come across.
1. “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
– Rudyard Kipling
As PR professionals, we have control over many things. It is our duty to use words responsibly and effectively. Understanding how important it is to know what to say is critical. PR professionals hold great power over how a brand communicates and, in turn, controls how people view a brand.
2. “PR is a mix of journalism, psychology, and lawyering – it’s an ever-changing and always interesting landscape.”
– Ronn Torossian
What makes PR so interesting is how unique every situation is. When dealing with a PR project, remember to use all your skills and knowledge to your advantage. By having a wide set of skills, you can understand how to deal with different PR problems and find the best solution during a crisis.
3. “Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”
– Bill Bernbach, advertising pioneer and founder of DDB
Quality over quantity. By putting effort and thought into what you say the first time, you spend less energy in the long run to communicate what you wanted to say in the first place. Many might think that more is better, but saying less when you choose the right words is far more effective.
4. “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will.”
Bad PR is likely to happen at some point. Like Thanos, it is inevitable. How quickly you respond to a crisis can limit the damage to reputation and help the public understand the facts before others have a chance to manipulate the situation in their favor.
5. “PR means telling the truth and working ethically – even when all the media want is headlines and all the public wants is scapegoats. Public relations fails when there is no integrity.”
– Viv Segal of Sefin Marketing
Sometimes just being a PR professional can give you a bad reputation. Most people view PR professionals as spiders just spinning a web of lies to hide the truth. This makes it all the more important to be ethical and honest with the public. No one likes being lied to and the truth always manages to make itself know somehow. Being honest with yourself and the public is always the way to go.
6. “Reputation matters because your behind is always behind you.”
– Happy Masina
Reputation is one of the most important things to manage as a PR professional. People will always be looking to find a problem to judge or hate. The best way to fight this is to give them less ammo to be used against your brand overall.
7. “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”
– George S. Patton
Short and simple. By now, most PR students know that what you say matters just as much as what you do. Honesty goes a long way in PR to strengthen and grow trusts with your public.
I hope these seven quotes helped inspire you as PR professionals. Feel free to share this list or comment below which quote you felt was the most inspiring and why.
By Michelle Flores
Anyone with a business knows that the photos for their products have to look perfect. In order for people to be interested in a product the advertising and promotion has to catch their eye. In today's social media world, everyone’s goal is to catch someone's attention with the content being shared on their platforms. Today we’ll show you how to achieve the perfect photo to promote your product in just 5 steps.
1. Select the item you want to photograph
The first step is the easiest step of all. Start by picking out the product you wish to photograph. I chose these garnet drop earrings.
2. Find your background/set up
When looking for a good background for your shot, keep in mind your brand aesthetic. You do not want the background to be distracting. You want the main subject and center of attention to be your product. You can also use props to help display the product or even models. A quick tip is to play with different backgrounds and props. By doing this you will have many options in your photo gallery to choose as “the one!” You can make your own backdrop with two pieces of cardstock paper or with a rug, blanket or pillow.
3. Grab your camera and start shooting
Now that you have your different backgrounds in mind, begin to take photos of your subject. Not only is it helpful to work with different backgrounds, but also test out different types of lighting. The best lighting is natural light. However artificial lighting always comes in handy, as long as you know how to work with it. Take as many photos as you can to get many options for your next step.
4. Editing time
Now it is time to edit the photos you have selected after the shoot. Not all photos require much editing, however there are many platforms that can be beneficial. On your phone there is the basic Instagram editing tools, which has filters and you can adjust things like the brightness of your photo, saturation, exposure, and shadows. There are also other editing apps you can use that have more options. PicsArt is great and it offers the cloning stamp. That allows you to get rid of certain things you don't want in your picture and helps with the background as well. Both editing options are free, with PicsArt allowing you to access more features at an additional cost. If you prefer to edit on the computer instead of your phone, there is Adobe Photoshop that lets you adjust the lighting, background, clone, erase and much more. This is the program professionals use, which is why it has a cost associated with it.
5. Ready to post
Your photos are now ready to post and be shared on your social media platforms. One thing to keep in mind when posting your photos on social media is to use hashtags and keywords. This will help people who are looking for the types of things you are selling/promoting find you.
Getting the perfect photo is not difficult, all it takes is time and patience. There is no right or wrong. As long as it matches the aesthetic of the brand and the subject is obvious, the photo will turn out just right. Now it is time to get your product shared and selling.
By Matthew Leksell
The Jacquemus spring 2020 runway in Provençe, FrancePhoto: Getty Images
In a rapidly growing industry like public relations, there are many different sectors to PR that influence the world around us. Ever wondered just how some items become trends, and why you start to see them across your social media feed daily? Fashion public relations deals with the promotion of clothing and accessories to the clothes-conscious consumers. It calls for working with brands, media and influencers through earned media channels to get the word out. In this blog post we’ll define fashion PR, show examples of its usage and how it’s growing, as well as learn skills needed to become a fashion publicist.
What is Fashion PR?
Fashion PR is the business of promoting clothing. Items will get shown through earned media channels like social media posts, articles and features in publications, thus generating more buzz and hype for the client that you are working for. Earned media is key to fashion PR. It sets PR apart from advertising because publicists are not paying for the features. Remember that PR and marketing have different audiences. In fashion, marketing is aimed toward the customers and PR focuses on building industry relationships.
Not only do PR professionals deal with media, but high-profile events are also a huge part of publicity. The biggest events happen around Fashion Week, whether it be fashion shows or brand parties. Publicists will invite people of importance, like celebrities/influencers and fashion editors to create hype for the brand.
Why is Fashion PR Important?
Fashion PR is important because if you have an emerging fashion line, you need to get your name out in the industry. And, in order to do so, you would need a fashion publicist to get your product featured in various publications. This could also lead to forming relationships with stylists that will put your items on celebrities, exposing your brand to potential consumers with their huge audiences. If you are someone studying public relations that has knowledge of fashion, this niche of PR may interest you. Fashion public relations needs people that have a love for fashion, are hardworking and are personable.
Tips and Skills needed for Fashion PR
It is highly important that you be personable and a good communicator to be in the fashion industry. When pitching brands for fashion editors to use, you will need to be able to write well and speak confidently to in order to build relationships and ensure a good outcome for your client.
Knowing how to form relationships and network within the industry is also important because it opens doors for you in your career. Having contact with a particular figure in your industry can put you in the right direction when you are trying to promote a clothing item.
Extensive knowledge of fashion itself is needed to be a fashion publicist. Being able to analyze trends in order to impact a brand, contact the right celebrities to wear your product and pitch the fashion publications will be extremely helpful in your work. For example, you wouldn’t want to send your product to someone that does not match your item’s target audience.
When working in such a demanding business, you may have to put out some fires-- to say the least. Sometimes brands mess up or things will go wrong, and you will be the one to fix it. You need to be able to work under stressful conditions and make sure that your client is happy. The industry is fast-paced and needs someone that is organized and can multitask whenever the situation calls for it.
How PR Works (British Vogue)
In this video for British Vogue, fashion icon Alexa Chung takes you to Black Frame, a PR firm in New York City, to break down their work for luxury fashion brands. Black Frame gives examples of how they represented various brands. They go into detail about working with Opening Ceremony to put together a fashion show stunt where models seemed to fall on the runway, only for them to get back up and start a dance routine. This is a helpful video because we’re seeing examples on fashion PR and what it takes to work for a brand. It also shows the impact of their work on the future of fashion and makes you think about how brands will try to garner attention through public relations in the future.
If you’re someone who has a clear love for fashion, then being a fashion publicist will be exciting for you. But it takes hard work, personability and organization. The tips in this article will help you to create and form industry relationships on behalf of the brands you work for, making sure that they are getting the proper endorsements from publications and celebrities to make their brand stand out. Your ability to understand trends and key figures in fashion will also lead to ensuring your client has the most distinctive brand amongst others. It’s all about impact. You are in charge of guiding conversations about style, fashion and the culture!
By Lizette Mendoza
Art can be used as a way to express yourself, but it can also be used as a way to relax as well. Art is constantly evolving, so following various artists on YouTube can help you gain different points of view. Here are some channels that will inspire you, help you enhance your art skills and give you a chance to relax.
1. Watercolor by Shibasaki has videos that are usually five to 15 minutes long. Shibasaki says he would like to inform people of life in Japan and Japanese traditions, which is why all of the tutorials focus on Japanese landscapes. He engages with the audience in an easy and positive way. Watching him will definitely brighten up your day even if you do not want to watercolor. He is definitely worth watching, because it is like hanging out with your grandpa.
2. Emmy Kalia draws realistic portraits of people and everyday objects using traditional methods. In her videos she says she likes to draw the real emotions felt by people. She also shares with her audience the belief that art requires motivation more than talent. This is the reason she goes into great detail when explaining to viewers how to draw. Her YouTube is good for those who want to get better using pencil and paper.
3. James Popsys is a photography YouTuber that focuses on travel and adventure photography. His tutorials are helpful if you are interested in the technical side of using a camera, but are also good if you want tricks and tips for photos and photoshoots. Watching his YouTube videos will give you insight on photography gear, photo concepts and editing styles.
4. SerpaDesign is for you if you are interested in creating something, but are not into traditional mediums. SerpaDesign teaches viewers how to make vivariums at different price points. This includes big terrariums, small terrariums, aquariums and paludariums. The idea is to inform people about nature and teach them how to use nature in an artistic way. Everything is DIY and videos range in difficulty level, so there is something for everyone.
5. Xia Taptara does tutorials for digital art. There are videos on color theory, blending and other concepts for beginners. This includes walkthroughs of the concepts and more complicated art theory videos. Videos teach how to draw in different art styles. This YouTube channel is good for all levels of learners as well, and some of the videos teach how to freelance your art.
There is always room to improve your skills even if you are already an experienced and talented artist. Looking at different art forms can push you as an artist and motivate artists everywhere.
By Leann Tran
In the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak. Many were quick to vocalize their support- the NFL, H&M, Zara, Selena Gomez, Lea Michele, John Boyega, Emily Ratajkowski, Virgil Abloh, Kylie Jenner, and so on. However, half of the brands/influencers were viciously attacked online for voicing their support.
I know, it’s weird. Why is anyone mad that these brands took the time to address an issue that needed amplification? They are super cool for this and everyone on the internet is just a hater, right? Wrong.
When it comes to branding, organizations know how integral good content is to developing a good social media strategy. Your words (or “content”) and your actions align to create your brand.
With these brands, their words did not align with their actions. They are partaking in performative activism. This creates tension between the brand and its publics. All it takes is one bland statement about “not seeing color” and a black square for the cyberbullying to commence.
In order to not get cyber-bullied online (and lose your brand’s reputation and your publics’ trust), this post will cover what performative activism is, how to avoid it, and examples of it.
For the sake of clarity, I will continue to use BLM throughout the post to explain performative activism.
What is Performative Activism?
Performative activism is activism, mostly done online, for social gain or clout. Performative activism isn’t helpful in advocating for political/social/economic justice, and it may even cause more harm to marginalized communities. It usually involves a brand/influencer/celebrity receiving insurmountable praise for doing the bare minimum. It is surface-level activism.
For example, think of how popular Kylie Jenner is. Imagine if someone with her platform, her power, her influence just reposted a black square on their Instagram story as an attempt at solidarity? Oh wait…that did happen.
The general public will look at this and say, “She’s a good person” and Kylie will be lauded for ending racism, and all will be right in the world. Kidding. In reality, how is reposting a black square going to help anyone?
To these influencers/brands, posts like these are strategic, meant to boost the brand’s image as “one of the good ones,” and for the most part, it works. The audience eats up the pretty, empty words and it allows these brands to remain complacent, not really advocating or engaging with the topic authentically. It’s all very much surface level activism.
Why is Performative Activism Important?
Every brand has their own respective publics, and performative activism affects every part of these brands. That’s not to say brands are going to be crucified for doing the bare minimum - actually, they most likely will. But it’s easily preventable!
Performative activism is really just another lense for the public to look through. The goal, though, is to not have anyone look through that lense when it comes to your brand. Because what you choose to support, especially when it comes to political matters, reflects your entire brand and thus, the public’s perception of your brand.
And before you’re like, “Okay, so what if I don’t post anything? I would be spared from the cyberbullies and save my brand’s reputation, right?” I mean, you don’t have to post at all and that will still speak volumes about your brand (good or bad depending on who you ask). It will definitely distort public perception of your brand though. But, not to worry, I made a quick step-by-step guide that can help you post in an authentic and engaging way.
In general, when you use your platform to post, really look at the post and consider who it is helping? Is it helping the brand (by saving face) or the audience (by informing them)? When it comes to politically pressing matters, like police brutality, this is crucial to consider, because posts that use simple statements like “We see you” or an image of a black square or simply a hashtag in the caption are purposely vague. This shields the poster from critically engaging with the topic at hand (i.e systemic racism) and comes off as very disingenuous.
By critically engaging, I mean that the content must acknowledge systemic racism, and not be expressed in terms of outrage. According to Holiday Phillips, sociologist and writer, “your outrage isn’t useful — if anything, it’s a marker of your privilege, that to you racism is still surprising. Trust me when I say this is not so for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) for whom racism is an everyday reality.”
Ultimately, you want the post to represent your brand. Do you want a post full of empty promises to represent your brand? Or do you want the informative post - advocating, and critically engaging with the topic at hand - to represent your brand? If you’re posting for the sake of posting with no real substance, don’t. People can tell and they’ll cyberbully you on the internet and boycott all your products. This is why it’s important to know what performative activism is. Other people can tell when you’re part of the problem.
The easy way out is not some phony black square post on Instagram. It’s doing research and addressing the systemic issues. It must come from a place of authenticity and you must advocate.
Examples of Performative Activism:
On Twitter, L’Oréal posted this:
By Kyle Do
Using social media as a professional tool? Sounds crazy, right?! Well in today’s day and age, social media sites, such as Instagram, might just land you that dream job one day. Likewise, the app could also do the complete opposite and steer future employers 100 miles per hour in the opposite direction of hiring you. In the end, their decision on whether or not you are deemed responsible enough for the job relies on you and the image your social media portrays. Maybe those drunk photos of yourself face-first on the sidewalk after a night of partying might not seem like a good look after all. Who knows? I guess it depends on the job you’re applying for.
In this blog, I will explain the do’s and don’ts of the beloved social media app Instagram as well as how to portray yourself in the best possible light as a talented and professional individual, ready to join the workforce. Here’s how to utilize Instagram as a professional portfolio.
What is Using Instagram as a Portfolio and Why Does it Matter?
Obviously future employers are not going to hire you solely on your social media presence. Other factors are taken into consideration such as your application, resume, personal references, etc. However, this blog explains how you can utilize Instagram as a professional tool. Instagram is a fantastic way to advertise, market and influence your audience.
Why is Instagram important? Well for one, the app has over 1 billion active users, thus allowing you to publish your creative work and share your thoughts and values with the world. With such a wide range of individuals and businesses that your portfolio could be exposed to, finding like-minded accounts and inspiration is as easy as a click or two. Second, according to oberlo.com, 71% of the 1 billion Instagram users are under age 35 (2019). With that being said, it’s evident that Instagram has taken over the younger generation by far. With more college graduates joining the tech and advertising scene, we’re seeing a growth in all types of social media usage. Another reason is that Instagram allows employers to get a better sense of who you are as an individual. Rather than just the awards, past jobs, or skills that your resume lists, Instagram is a visual app that allows employers to see your creative side. Finally, a professional and unique Instagram portfolio demonstrates that you are adequate with social media apps and that you know how to professionally manage and brand yourself.
How to Utilize Instagram as Your Portfolio
If You Don’t Want to Use Your Personal Account, Create a Public One
Often, employers implement background checks such as personal work history, credit history, criminal record, drug screenings, and even social media use. The one we will be focusing on today is the social media use. It is crucial that you create a separate account from your personal Instagram account so that employers don’t stumble onto something they wish they didn’t see. Likewise, make sure your personal account is private, otherwise that defeats the purpose.
Creating Your Username
Most of the time I would say stray away from numbers and symbols as it can look tacky and unprofessional, depending on what your profession is. For example, an efficient photographer username could be @nolansmithphotography. Simple enough, yet it’s not too complex where employers or future colleagues might forget your name. Furthermore, the username @nolansmith77photography doesn’t look as crisp and clean cut as @nolansmithphotography. It is also important to note that your username should be relevant to what you do. An aspiring dancer wouldn’t have their Instagram username as @bennycooks, right?
Your Instagram Bio is Your Cover Letter
First and foremost, you want to have your name in the bio. This allows for employers and users alike to put a name to the face. Second, you will want to include a link to your personal website or LinkedIn page. This will direct people to another source to learn more about you. Third, write a little bit about yourself and tell your overall story. Sharing how you came to be and what viewers can expect to see when stumbling upon your Instagram account is a great way to make quick connections. Finally, you might also want to include the location where you are currently based. This gives employers a quick and easy idea of where you are at the moment.
Follow the Right People
Much like LinkedIn, Instagram followers are your connections, so to speak. You may not necessarily know them, but expanding your connections (followers) allows you to widen your horizon and ultimately exposes your great work to thousands of people. Following people that have the same niche, profession, or interests as you allows for inspiration and growth as well. You never know when you might learn a thing or two!
Choosing the Right Content
When starting on this Instagram journey, it is absolutely necessary to make sure you are sharing the right content that exhibits what you and your work consists of. For example, if you are a young artist trying to get your name out there you would want to publish your best work. Publishing your best work allows you to be confident in yourself and also allows for feedback from fellow followers. As time progresses and you build up your “social media resume,” more and more people should take notice and employers will be impressed with what you have to offer. Posts of past and present artwork, creative food recipes, produced music, cinematography, are all great niches that can be uploaded via Instagram. An aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed is one of the best things to look at, especially when all the posts clearly have a set tone or vision.
Engage with Your Followers
Never be afraid to reply back to comments on your post or even comment back on others’. It shows that you value what they have to say and also gives them recognition. When employers see feedback and comments on your posts, it shows them that your work and talent is being recognized by others all over the world. Don’t be afraid to also reach out to strangers as they might have some tips and tricks regarding your profession.
That’s a Wrap!
Now that you know how to get started on building your professional Instagram portfolio, what are you waiting for? Get out there and showcase your talent for the world to see. With the ever-growing age of digitalization and social media, the world is your oyster. Future employers are bound to be impressed with your professional Instagram portfolio. All it takes is a few simple clicks, an upload here and there, and one day you might land that dream job you never thought you’d find.
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