A Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man

March 6, 2009

James Joyce, from whom I creatively borrowed the title of this blog entry.

What began as a simple blog about the deeds of our 44th President for a class assignment morphed into an exercise of personal digital growth for your humble narrator. Having slipped a bit from its original intent of commenting on Barack Obama, (hence the title of this blog The Obama Comment) this weekly narrative became more geared to class expectations, but opened the door for a truly constructive editorial in the future. The following is a tentative outline for how I plan to tell you all (at least my classmates and instructors…or fellow NMDL passengers as I like to call you (starting now)) the story of how I went from a naive Internet adolescent to a confident digital young man (or man-child):


1) “The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Man Often Go Awry”

To begin with I’ll give a rundown of my original intentions for this blog, how I plan to resume those plans following completion of this course, and why it’s better that I waited anyway.


2) “The Shortest Answer Is Doing The Thing.”

Here I will give an outline of what I knew, what I didn’t know, what I did with this blog, and what it taught me.

Shakespeare, Bill

3) “Why, Then The World’s Mine Oyster. Which I With Sword Will Open.”

I’ll conclude by explaining why I think New Media Drivers License is not only a great course, but why I believe it’s necessary for anyone entering public relations, and the field of communications as a whole. I will also describe how I see what we’ve learned as giving us an advantage upon entering the world of employment and a leg-up on those we with whom we will be competing.


4) “”My Advice Is, Never Do Tomorrow What You Can Do Today. Procrastination Is The Thief Of Time.”

This has nothing to do with my presentation…I just wanted to point out that I finished this week’s assignment ahead of time.


Search Engine Optimization: Not As Scary As It Sounds

February 14, 2009


When I first heard about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization for long, a few years ago, I thought it was something only the super techie nerds were supposed to how to use and be concerned with…kind of like the finer points of Star Wars. I accepted it as something I knew existed, but needn’t worry myself with because I would never understand it…kind of like stem-cells and my ex-girlfriend (I’m actually starting to understand stem-cells). However, after recently delving a little deeper I realized after breaking it down, it’s not as scary as it sounds.

SEARCH: Well that’s just looking for something. I know how to do that.

ENGINE: Engines are what make things go…know that one too.

OPTIMIZATION: That’s all about getting the most of something with an -ATION at the end…three for three I am.

So when you add it all up, it’s all about getting the most out of the engine that does your searching. To give it a little structure, it’s simply maximizing the likelihood that your site will come up in the results of Google, Yahoo, and the like when people search for related terms. Whether your a small-time blogger or a retail juggernaut, SEO is all about implementing a strategy to make sure when people are looking for something that you happen to offer, it’s you they happen to find. Different SEO tools do different different things, but in the end it’s all about increasing the relevance of your site to search engines like Google through precise, targeted key words, searchable tags, related inbound links, and the structure and content of your actual site. Improve these areas accordingly and the volume and quality of traffic to your site will improve, your page rank will go up, and the process becomes cyclical…this is search engine optimization, and it is here to help.

Now consider that explanation the fun, quick cartoon version to give you lay folk an idea of what search engine optimization is all about…however, for the Mona Lisa of SEO explanations click on the old lady below to see what she’s smiling about.


Let’s Do Some Social Networking (Not for Softball Guy)

February 7, 2009

It’s almost rare these days to meet someone who isn’t on MySpace or Facebook or involved in some sort of online social network. Those that aren’t usually fall into one of three categories:

1) The first are the seniors or Champions Tour members of our society due to the fact that, let’s just face it, lack the now nearly innate skills (computer and social) required to handle the complexities of this new medium. They deserve a pass and special kudos for getting on board. C’mon, you can keep in touch with the grandkiddies!

2) The second group are those members of generations Baby Boom and X due to a number of factors including, but not limited to – jobs, families, apprehension, “don’t get it”, they just don’t have the time, and their kids don’t want them on. I believe that we’ll start to get a lot more converts from this group once they realize it’s not just for kids and twenty-somethings, but can actually help you professionally (we’ll address this later).

3) The third group are those that believe they are just too cool for MyFace or Spacebook or because “that %#@! is just for high school girls”. Everyone has a few friends who are still holding out just to be contrarian or for the attention they get when people ask them why they aren’t on. You can usually recognize this guy (it’s usually a guy) by the fact he’s in a three summer softball leagues, has meetings regarding said leagues in the winter, and is still holding onto that high school dream in hopes that Dave Dombroski will attend that West Michigan Softball Classic and recognize what every one else has somehow missed these last ten years.

What I’m getting at is that unless you have a good excuse, there’s no reason not to be utilizing social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter just to name a few (besides bands and other artists, MySpace really is just for high school girls). Just look at it as another way to get yourself out there, socially and professionally. Instead of breaking down each site and explaining how you can benefit just look at it from the perspective of a company. Let’s face it, when you boil everything down we’re all just our own personal brands. Just like Google, Nike, Apple, Volkswagen, Obama, etc we’re all subject to positive and negative perceptions. If you drink too much and hit on your best friend’s girlfriend, that’s bad PR…you jump in front of oncoming traffic to save a little old lady, your stock as a human being goes up. Everything else is somewhere in between. Social networking is a way to effectively manage your own personal brand identity. Facebook allows you to connect. LinkedIn allows you to promote. Twitter allows you to be heard. Never before have individuals been able to so effectively control the message and therefore who they are…and isn’t that what PR…and life…is all about?

Google AdWords, Thou Art Thy Enemy

January 31, 2009

Well this week I have been attempting to learn Google AdWords, with what I thought were reasonably successful results. Boy was I wrong. It seems so simple and I feel like I really understand the strategy and use of AdWords, but after compiling several campaigns, and subsequently launching them, I have yet to be able to see them…and isn’t that really the point of an ad? For people to see them? I’m starting to get pretty, pretty, pretty (in Larry David voice) pissed off. However, I will not give up, give in, or lose hope. I’ll continue to tinker with this beast until I’m it’s master.

For now, this is what one of my ads would have looked like if you can picture it off to the right of some Google search results:


So you see, the devil is in the details, and that particular detail is actually getting the ad to show up and lead people here, instead of people coming here and then seeing the ad. I’m sure with a little help from my friends I’ll get this figured out though.

I’ll leave you with a funny video of how creepy Dick Cheney was…whatta weirdo.

PR: The New Priesthood?

January 23, 2009

When I tell people that I’m studying for a career in public relations, I’m invariably asked the same question: “So what kind of job can you get with that?” My usual answer is, “Well, any kind of job.” That’s the great thing about PR. As Al Pacino, playing John Milton/Satan in the film The Devil’s Advocate, once so succinctly stated about being a lawyer, “Because the law, my boy, puts us into everything. It’s the ultimate backstage pass. It’s the new priesthood, baby.” To me, that’s PR. Every industry that’s worth its salt needs to communicate with its publics, and that’s where we come in…it’s the new priesthood, baby!

The thing about learning PR is that there is no right or wrong on answer on how to approach a problem. It’s all about having that common touch…either you got it or you don’t…and building upon it along the way. However, there are a few time-tested ground rules that every practitioner should have in their playbook.

In searching for a useful site about public relations that contained these standard rules, I came across Rohit Bhargava’s excellent (and pertinent) “Influential Marketing Blog“. In his two most recent posts he discusses what it is both PR practitioners and journalists (the PR man’s (and woman’s) most immediate and important audience), should know about themselves and one another. I think Bhargava’s most important lesson, however, is that reputation matters. If words are our stock-in-trade, then reputation is the quality of our goods. Your word is your bond and trust matters, or people won’t be buying whatever it is you’re selling. In this industry, a tarnished reputation is rarely resurrected. On the other hand, a good reputation will not only open doors, it will take you as far as you want, in whatever you want.

I guess maybe that’s the difference between us and lawyers.

The Glory that is Google Reader

January 22, 2009

For someone who considers them self fairly savvy in the ways of the Internet, I really don’t know too much about what Google can do for me outside of finding information on anything I could possibly imagine…oh and zooming in on any location on the planet (Google Earth). I occasionally use Google Docs, but that’s about it. I still don’t use Google Calendar, I just remember where I have to be. I don’t use Google Groups, just Facebook or mass texts/emails. I don’t even know what Google Analytics is (but I’m gonna find out, don’t worry).


This brings us to Google Reader. I had a vague idea of what it was all about. I knew that it essentially let you read what you wanted to read from all over the Internet in one place. That may sound like a simple explanation, but after checking it out, that’s really about what it boils down to…and I have to admit, IT’S FANTASTIC. As someone who tries to keep up with the news from around the world, sports (fantasy and reality), weather, various blogs, and a plethora of other things on a daily basis, Google Reader truly is a transformational tool. Instead of me trying to go into detail on the finer points of the application, here is a video that explains what Google Readers does and how to do it:

If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what would. But seriously, instead of having to individually type in every URL for the site you want, or scrolling through all of your bookmarks, you can wake up, turn on, and tune in to everything you want to know from everywhere you want to get it. I would say its only drawback is that it does take a bit away from the personalities of each individual site, but it surely makes up for it in the amount of information it allows you to cover with it’s organization and time-saving ability.

Sometimes I like to check out the New York Times for the latest news and editorials, The Daily Beast to get a mix of news and entertainment, ESPN.COM for my sports, and so on and on and on. Instead of having to go to each site individually and not knowing if I’d missed anything or forgetting if I’d read something, Google Reader takes care of all of that for you in one place. I’ve already added several new sites to my daily consumption since I began regularly using Google Reader this week. I am a permanent fan and I already feel smarter for it.

What IS up?

January 16, 2009

Without further ado, let’s get this blog rolling. So, overall the REASON for this blog is that it’s part of a sweet new course at Michigan State University called “New Media Drivers License” taught by Derek Mehraban and Dr. Rick Cole (two of the coolest conveyors of knowledge I’ve had the opportunity to meet). NMDL is all about learning the latest tools (and art) of the digital world and applying it to the advertising, marketing, public relations, business trades, everything trades. To me, this is the way of the future for all business, but particularly those in the communications industry.

Check it out for yourself at THE DIGITAL BUS.

The PURPOSE of this blog is, well, to promote myself – Paul Kanan. To me, public relations (my major) can be used from the highest of corporate levels on down to the individual himself (or herself). As an individual myself, I feel public relations is an art and a skill that can be practiced everyday by treating oneself of as brand as well as a person. What I’m selling are my thoughts and ideas – on Obama, on politics on culture, on you, on me, on life. Why those particular things you may ask? Well, that’s basically all I care about…and yes, I care about you.

OK, so here we go. Rock n’ roll. Let’s do this. Open up your mind and let me blow it away. YES WE CAN!