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No time for social media? Indifference could leave you in the cold…

Tough times call for extra effort

The wind chill factor was -27°F as I pulled a third layer over my head this morning. I thought to myself, “I bet a lot of people will call in. It’s going to be a quiet day in Cision’s research department.”

CisionBlog bloggers brave the bitter cold in Chicago to bring you the latest media news

CisionBlog bloggers brave the bitter cold in Chicago to bring you the latest media news

Well, to my pleasant surprise, I can happily report that only two researchers are taking a sick day and everyone else (after unwrapping themselves and regaining feeling in fingers and toes) is working away to find changes in the media industry.

It takes extra effort to come in to work on the coldest day in Chicago in a decade. But that’s exactly what these tough economic times call for: Extra effort.

I often have people ask me what they can do to keep their job secure during a time when everyone knows someone who has been laid off, offered a buyout or is having a really tough time finding a job. There is lots of advice I can offer, but above all, I will always say that a small additional time committment goes a long way… and if you put that extra energy into social media, it might also be the thing that separates you from the pack and gives you an edge in your career.

When I speak with media relations pros at conferences or just with clients over the phone about social media, I frequently receive a response like this: “But we don’t have a position dedicated to social media. I just don’t have the time to do all of this. My boss wouldn’t understand.”

That may all be very true. But you don’t need 40 hours a week to get started in social media. Commit to working an extra two hours a week and dedicating that time to your social media efforts. Your boss or client may not see the benefit now, but once you can show results, your extra commitment will not go unnoticed.

Here are a few suggestions on quick steps you can take. Choose one (or one of your own) each week and you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish over the next few months:

  • Set up an RSS reader if you don’t have one already (see my description of RSS in this post). You can subscribe to dozens of blogs and news websites and also set up a feed for mentions of your client, product or service on Twitter Search.
  • If you represent a company/client that is B-to-B, do an Advanced Answers Search on LinkedIn for your industry (or, if it is a large organization, just search by the organization name) and engage in the community discussions.
  • If you represent a company/client that is B-to-C, do a Groups search on Facebook or MySpace or Yahoo! Groups for the type of product or service that you represent, or again, just by the organization name and join in the conversations.
  • Develop a relationship with a journalist on Twitter by helping them out with a question they have or respond to a query from someone like Peter Shankman (@skydiver on Twitter).
  • Find a local Tweet-up and network with other social media enthusiasts. Each new connection could result in a positive exchange of some type down the road.
  • Set up Google Alerts for your email. You may find a) press mentions that you haven’t seen before and/or b) new venues to share news about your client, product or service.

These are just a few examples of the many things you can do in just a few hours a week to make yourself stand out in the crowd. And maybe social media isn’t where you want to invest your extra time. Maybe you are committed to finding new ways to do your media monitoring. Maybe you invest in really reading a few new magazines each week to identify trends in your industry. The important thing is that you use this time wisely.

One last note: I know that a few hours may be a big sacrifice – you already work really hard, you have a family, you have to walk the dog after work, etc. I am a big believer in a work/life balance. But this is the time to toughen up and go that extra mile. The economy is showing a wind chill factor that is below zero. So bundle up and get to work!

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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