Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Smartest 8 year-old in the World or Propaganda Puppet?? You Decide...

King of the PR Jungle

After a few months of learning the ropes that define the perpetually changing communication industry and the epidemic that is blogging, I feel confident enough to share some insight on how to approach the often overwhelming industry while utilizing the viral nature of blogging and the internet to make a name for yourself. The PR realm is unique in that you are only as good or valuable as other people "think" you are. It's not who you are on the inside, but what you do that defines you to the public. Image is everything and you must have something to offer in order to be embraced. In that sense it's kind of like high school all over again, only now you get a paycheck instead of a date with the head cheerleader. Competition is vicious and you better hide your lunch money. Here are a few tips to help you survive in the PR jungle. "What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself"- Abraham Lincoln

The key to success is the same as in comedy... TIMING
This notion is especially relevant in the PR industry. A slow news day can cost you your job, just ask Don Imus. As humans we are fickle creatures and it is essential to acknowledge when we as consumers are ready and willing to embrace something new as well as recognize when we have become oversaturated and tired of hearing about it. Be a trend setter, but don't ware out your welcome.

Never before has it been more important to be the popular kid. To make it in this business, not only do you have to know EVERYBODY, but they have to LIKE you as well. People have a much harder time saying "no" to someone they like. It does no good to be infamous in this crowd. You have to be recognized and respected for the right reasons. Your success depends on knowing everyone from the intern in the mailroom whose dog just had puppies to the CEO who is cheating on his wife. Names and faces are not enough anymore. If you know details, people think you care and if people think you care then they are more willing to do your bidding. Subtlety and flattery will get you a long way, but be careful not to appear as if you are using anyone. The PR industry is like a sorority... but now if you get blackballed, you can't pay your bills.

"Credibility is very much like virginity. Once you lose it, it is impossible to regain." - Israel Scoble

In order to thrive, you must be ahead of your competition as well as your audience. Read the newspaper, watch the news, and know what is going on in the world and especially your industry. With the luxury of technology there is no excuse for not knowing what is shaping and influencing the very world you are trying to manipulate. In order to know your audience you must first know what they are being told about the world they inhabit. People in general are interested, but not motivated. There are very few fact checkers left in the world. This means it is your job to enlighten the often naive general public and provide them with innovative, "life changing" information and opportunities.

"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, MD of Sefin Marketing.

We would all still be living in caves had we not been willing to embrace and utilize the tools at our disposal. Possibly the most important tool I discovered this semester is the potential and undeniable impact of blogging. No matter who you are or what you believe in, you can create a blog to share your perspective on the world we live in. Blogs are the only source of modern communication that are essentially free and unbiased. There are no editors, no censorship, no political agenda to adhere to or boss to make happy... Just your ideas and the potential of an infinite audience. Consequently, the world is finally hearing the ideas that previously would have been silenced by the majority leaders and major media conglomerates. Now more than ever it is essential that we recognize the power of this medium and utilize its potential to the fullest extent. Since blogs have been endowed with a sense of legitimacy among the general public, we have seen bloggers utilize their influence to dramatically shift the stock market, campaign for presidential candidates, expose government and Fortune 500 secrets forcing established politicians and multi-millionaire CEO's to find new jobs, and even expose Paris Hilton's cell phone number. No topic is taboo and therefore no matter what your niche, you will always find an interested audience.

"“While a journalist is writing about my blog, I’m blogging about his journalism. This is change,” Jonathan Schwartz, president and COO of Sun Microsystems

PR is an eat or be eaten environment. There is no room for the docile. When your job depends on fresh and innovative insight, you can't wait idly by for the next big project. You are responsible for finding your future. If an opportunity finds you, chances are it’s probably already too late. In order to prevail in the corporate chess match, you must take it upon yourself to strategically test the market, research your competitors, set trends, and have an active influence in what society embraces as the "norm." Your either changing the world, or merely consuming it...

"The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all." Mark Twain

Great Link for more extensive PR advice

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Weekends Are for Drinking" & Other Things Not to Say in Your Resume

You’ve thought long and hard about how to make your resume stand out, but perhaps you’ve gone too far. A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive for asked hiring managers to share the most unusual resumes they’ve seen. Explaining that you work well in the nude? What they found might surprise you. Survey: Top 12 Resume Disasters

1. Candidate mentioned in his resume that he spent summers on his family’s yacht in Grand Cayman.

2. Candidate attached a letter from his mother.

3. Candidate used pale blue paper with teddy bears around the border.

4. Candidate explained a gap in employment by saying he was getting over the death of his cat for three months.

5. Candidate specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday and Sunday were “drinking time”.

6. Candidate included a picture of herself in a cheerleading uniform.

7. Candidate drew a picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and said it was the hiring manager's gift.

8. Candidate’s hobbies included sitting on a levee at night watching alligators.

9. Candidate included the fact that her sister once won a strawberry-eating contest.

10. Candidate explained that they worked well in the nude.

11. Candidate explained an arrest by stating, “We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig.”

12. Candidate included a family medical history.

“Anytime it’s beyond job function, it can be goofy”, said Jennifer Sullivan, senior career advisor at The survey also found people who listed bingo and smoking as their hobbies. “Others reference grade school classes and included old pictures,” Sullivan said.

CareerBuilder says to keep three key words in mind when writing your resume: simple, bold and professional. Instead of using stationery with bears, keep it clean and easy to read. The firm also recommends that you ask someone else to review it.

“You want to make yourself memorable for the right reasons,” said Sullivan. “Know your audience, and paint a picture of what you’ve done for other companies.”

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Best Job in the World

When people, especially people of my parent’s generation, ask me what I want to do when I graduate I often find myself at a loss for words. Not because I don’t know what I want to do, but because I want to do everything. In generations past you graduated from college with a degree and a career path in mind that revolved around one job. However, I along with many of my fellow young professionals find this perspective rather claustrophobic. Consequently, the desire for professional freedom and infinite job potential has provoked the birth of a new breed of entrepreneurs.

Fortunately for me, Dallas can be recognized as ground zero for the birth of this breed of over zealous, money hungry, well connected young professionals. For the modern entrepreneur, a college degree only takes up wall space that could otherwise be filled with pictures of them shaking hands with the President, because we all know it’s not what you know, but who you know. Now, I know you have heard this cliché beaten into the ground so I will give you some insight into the new motto of the new entrepreneur; it’s not the grades you make, but the hands you shake. College is your chance to establish connections with the people that share this familiar dream of a multi-field monopoly. It is all about networking. The new entrepreneur recognizes the reality that there is too much money to be made in the world to limit your potential income to one stereotypical career. No one gets rich off a salary anymore. Rather, it is most beneficial to have your hand in every aspect of society/economy; real-estate (commercial & private), hospitality (restaurant/bar), fashion, entertainment, advertising etc…

The essence of our modern culture is depicted by our desire to spend money, whether we have it or not. The essence of the modern entrepreneur is the recognition of that desire and the ability to foresee and capitalize on the future trends in which society is going to dump their paycheck. In other words, they know where you’re going to spend your money before you do. The irony of this cycle is the way in which many of these new entrepreneurs spend their fortunes is just as predictable. Never before has society seen a trend such as the one perpetuated by the new entrepreneur. Never before has society seen such an abundance of twenty-something young professionals driving $100,000 exotics, wearing $10,000 watches, living in million-dollar lofts, and exuding a priceless sense of entitlement. This trend of self-indulgence is justified by the misconception that if you want people to do business with you, they have to think you don’t need their business. How are people supposed to know how much money you have unless you show them right? It is this perspective that will ultimately separate the momentary millionaire from the established wealth. The established entrepreneur reinvests his profits rather than giving them right back and at the end of the day is the one writing the checks, not just cashing them. For a better insight into the lives of such a unique breed of deal makers, try driving by Primo’s patio on a Tuesday night or read this hilarious, but all too true account of one of Dallas’ biggest deal makers, Cash McMogulson.

Despite the questionable priorities of these money makers, their impact on our society, culture, and economy is undeniable. SMU even offers a new degree in entrepreneurship, which I find ironic considering they are asking for your money in exchange for a curriculum that is intended to teach you unique ways and strategies in which to make money. I can’t help but think an experienced entrepreneur would laugh at the concept and suggest taking that same money you would spend on tuition and investing it in a lucrative project rather than class time?? Some might even say you can’t learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the classroom, but rather it is a passion and perspective that is inherent in your personality and priorities. Anything you need to learn, you can learn only by doing. That way when all of your friends finish school two years later, you will be two years richer. Either way, I’m probably just bitter because I am about to graduate and can’t pursue the one program that I feel might have actually been applicable in the real world.

That is the other bone I have to pick with my “education.” While I consider myself extremely fortunate for the opportunity to attend SMU, and acknowledge that the contacts I have made here will ultimately be extremely lucrative, I can’t help but ponder what if I had taken the $1Million + I have spent over the past 4 years and invested it 4 years ago. Thinking as any entrepreneur would, I can’t help but feel as if I am starting in the red following my overpriced and overrated education.

This overwhelming sense of urgency to take advantage of the marketplace is the direct result of the fact I have been fortunate enough to witness firsthand the path and potential of being your own boss. Smart enough to acknowledge that their powers combined are far more beneficial than attempting to tackle the economy alone, my 26 year-old brother, Newton Hopkins, and his entourage of entrepreneurs (all SMU graduates) have taken Dallas by storm. While each is equipped with their own area of expertise, commercial real-estate seems to be their collaborative drug of choice. Any project in the DFW hub is under the watch of my brother’s wingman Corey Duhon. In his sixth year with the Shafer Property Company (, Corey is involved in every aspect of their growing portfolio of properties. Most recently Corey was responsible for closing out leasing activity at the just completed Uptown Plaza Shopping Center project located at the McKinney Avenue gateway to downtown Dallas. Corey holds a B.B.A. in Real Estate Finance from Southern Methodist University, is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, and also belongs to the SMU Real Estate Society.

Possibly the most recognizable member of my brothers entrepreneurial dream team is Dallas local Court Westcott. Westcott is a 2004 graduate of Southern Methodist University with a Masters in Business Administration and a 2001 graduate of Vanderbilt University with Bachelors in Political Science and Philosophy. Westcott also received his Six Sigma Black Belt in 2005 from Villanova University and is a licensed realtor. Westcott has since utilized his connections to contribute to the .com bang by introducing ( His entrepreneurial spirit also led him to spearhead Digital Witness, a video surveillance company.

Ultimately, my brother and his entrepreneurial alliances understand both the power and fickle nature of the marketplace. They abide by a sort of unspoken code which directs their actions as they understand they are in business not only for themselves, but for each other. If one has a potential investment, rather than outsourcing for interested investors, he seeks the support of his fellow entrepreneurs. Consequently, my brother and his partners have established a sort of entrepreneurial monopoly over Dallas. If you have an idea, you go to them. If they can’t help you, they know who can.

Entrepreneurs are the future of our economy. Entrepreneurship is nondenominational and unbiased. It puts success and wealth in the hands of anyone with a goal and the means to pursue it. There is no affirmative action or glass ceiling, only good and bad ideas. Just look how entrepreneurs such as local favorite Mark Cuban, Vegas pioneers the Maloof Brothers, Virgin CEO Richard Branson, and entertainment entrepreneurs such as Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jay-Z have taken advantage of the infinite potential of the marketplace. They continue to prove you can start in music, the internet, or fashion and end up owning an NBA franchise. As an entrepreneur, where you start, where you finish, and how you do it is entirely up to you. It’s the best job in the world…

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

An Inconvienient Truth for Al Gore

I feel bamboozled… For the past 21 years I have been a BRR (Born and Raised Republican). Consequently, I was hesitant to embrace anything Al Gore might have to say. Despite the guilt inevitable in abandoning my parent’s political passions, a few months ago I locked myself in my room to watch Gore’s environmental propaganda film “An Inconvenient Truth.” It is in my nature to question everything around me. I have a hard time embracing anything without proof (preferably scientific). This is possibly why I struggle everyday with the existence of God… but that is for another blog. However, after watching Gore’s film, which was full of seemingly precise scientific data, witty anecdotes, moral questions, and even a sense of humor (I wasn’t aware Gore had one), I was convinced… We were going to provoke the end of the world unless we changed our habits dramatically. My friends and family thought I was possessed by a democratic demon when I began spreading the environmental gospel of Gore. I made everyone I knew watch the movie and encouraged them to evaluate their impact on the environment. I wasn’t going to buy a Hybrid or anything, haha, but I was now at least willing to give my roommate a ride to class in my patriot mobile (chevy tahoe for all you non-troop supporters).

However, recently another inconvenient truth was exposed which compromises everything Gore advocates and exposes him to be quite the environmental hypocrite. Armed with Gore's utility bills for the last two years, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research exposed that the gas and electric bills for the former vice president's Tennessee home devoured nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours in 2006, more than 20 times the national average of 10,656 kilowatt-hours. The Center claims that Nashville Electric Services records show the Gores in 2006 averaged a monthly electricity bill of $1,359 for using 18,414 kilowatt-hours, and $1,461 per month for using 16,200 kilowatt-hours in 2005. That averages out to be $29,268 in gas and electric bills for the Gores in 2006, $31,512 in 2005.

Come on Al Gore, I trusted you… Even after everyone warned me of the deceiving nature of DemocRATS, I took it upon myself to abandon my political loyalties and do your bidding. I want my $21.99 plus tax back that I wasted on your film and considering your electric bill I think you can afford it.

Cannibus Cookies in the Lunchline

ADD & THC... Two epidemics plaguing the minds of parents around the country. Now, what would these parents say if they discovered THC or marijuana was the cure for their child’s attention deficit disorder?? As a parent, how far are you willing to go to ensure quality of life for your child? Is it not your duty as a parent to pursue all potential avenues of happiness for your child? The debate over medical marijuana is more prevalent than ever and this new research suggesting a positive correlation between the “drug” and ADD should encourage lawmakers to genuinely reconsider their extremist reefer madness perspectives.
As a teenager I utilized the benefits of both Adderall (the current doctor prescribed remedy for ADD) and pot, and acknowledge the reciprocal relationship that thrives among the two. At the end of the day marijuana is often the only thing capable of establishing an equilibrium after being under the influence of Adderall all day. While Adderall does have blatant advantages when it comes to work ethic and productivity, it has a devastating effect on user’s personalities and appetites. (See my article on Adderall below for more information)

I am not sure whether or not medical marijuana is the cure for ADD. However, I hope this research will shed light on the benefits and harmless nature of marijuana when used responsibly. Marijuana has such a negative connotation in society and the only way to distance the substance from such an unfair reputation is devout and unbiased scientific research. Knowledge is power…

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The C Word...

The essence of language relies on our ability to link words to convey meaning. However, one word stands alone in the english language that carries with it a meaning far more profound than any author or poet could ever illustrate with 1,000 pages. The word of the day is CANCER. The world is forced to witness the wrath of Cancer on a daily basis with a sort of helpless fealing. Our country is capable of embracing and defeating concepts such as terrorism and poverty, yet we are humbled when it comes to maintaining our own bodies.

Until last year, Cancer was just something I saw on TV and read about in magazines. However, last year I too got a reality check when my Grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It made me realize that no one is safe. No matter how genuine a person you are, no matter how much money you have, no one is safe from Cancer. My grandmother was one of the lucky ones. Her Dr.'s discovered her cancer early enough that they were able to operate and as of Nov. 2006 she was declared cancer free.

Such a close call can really provoke you to reevaluate your perspective on this crazy unpredictable world we live in. Too often do we fall victim to routine and take for granted that tomorrow will come and go just as today did. If anything, my grandmothers close call with cancer made me realize you have to be proactive in order to truly accomplish anything in this world.

Modern society has the luxury of so many avenues that can be utilized to reach others. The most recent of such avenues I have embraced is blogging. The ripple effect of blogs is undeniable and this is precisely why I encourage people regardless of their connection to cancer to explore the blog my communications class and I are developing for HEAL MAGAZINE. Heal, is a magazine written for cancer survivors, that strives to help patients nurture their mind, body, and spirit as they transition into a period of recovery. Considering the quality of life embraced worldwide, it is inevitable that everyone will have some sort of confrentation with cancer. Even if you are lucky enough to avoid cancer for eighty+ years, I promise you that someone you care about will be afflicted. I am a devout advocate of the cliche "knowledge is power" and when it comes to cancer we will never know enough. However, this blog along with HEAL MAGAZINE is a good start.

With the infinite amount of information the internet provides, it can be overwhelming when you begin to research and learn more about Cancer. Here are a few other websites my class and I have compiled to get you started... (Lance Armstrong's Cancer website where you can also read his blog)