Archive for February, 2011

Who’s heard of WhoIs?

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

With the Internet being accessible to nearly everybody, I’ve found myself questioning the credibility of some of the content I’ve found on the web. How am I supposed to know if the information I’m reading really came from an expert and not my 16-year-old neighbor who thinks he knows everything?

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering if a web site is reliable (and I certainly hope so), WhoIs is a tool that may come in handy.

WhoIs is an online query that allows you to draw up information about the creators of a web site. All you need to do is type in the domain name and a plethora of information about the web site will come up. It will tell you the names and contact information for the creator of the web site. You can find out when the web site was last updated or when the web site’s domain will expire, all at the click of a button.

I tried this out with Americans For Freedom‘s web site. When I type the domain into the query box, here is a bit of what I see:

Created On: 08-Jul-2008 01:28:49 UTC
Last Updated On: 31-Mar-2010 19:00:14 UTC
Expiration Date: 08-Jul-2018 1:28:49  UTC
Registrant Name:Michael Pinson
Registrant Organization:Pinson Communications, Inc.
Registrant Street1:146 Dunbar Avenue
Registrant Street2:Suite D
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Oldsmar
Registrant State/Province:Florida
Registrant Postal Code:34677
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.8138553663

Some web site creators want their identities kept private. In these cases, WhoIs will direct you to an online form that you can fill out and send directly to the creator. WhoIs doesn’t have to divulge the contact information, but you are still able to reach him or her.

Now, you may be wondering how this will help you. If you’re questioning the web site’s reliability, you can contact the creator and make sure he or she really is an expert. He or she may even be able to offer you more information than was even on the web site.

Moreover, you can make sure the content you’re getting is up-to-date. If would be unfortunate to find out that the information you’ve been reading for your article on new health care programs hadn’t been updated since 1998.

For more information about how to use WhoIs, check out these FAQs. Otherwise, go ahead and check it out!


Value of Using a CMS

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

In my multimedia online writing class, we’ve been learning about content management systems and the value of knowing how to operate one. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually an easy way to save a lot of time and money. In short, a CMS is a template that web sites use to input content that helps organize the layout of the site.

People use content management systems all the time without even realizing it. Have you ever updated your status on Facebook? If so, you’ve used Facebook’s CMS to add content to a web page.

In class, we experimented with WordPress’s CMS by adding headlines, summaries, categories and tags to our posts. The CMS interprets what each area of the web site should look like depending on where each set of data is entered. For example, if all headlines are supposed to be bold and located at the top of the page, the CMS will bold all content that is put in the “Headline” spot and put it where it belongs.

After working with WordPress’s CMS, I realized that I’ve been using a similar program for the last two years. I work in event planning, and the database I use to update event details is much like a content management system. Certain details go in specific spots in the template, depending on how I want them to appear on the event order. Althought it’s not updated to the Internet, the concept is similar — enter information in a certain way to make it easy to read and understand for the consumer.

A content management system would be valuable for any company with a web site.  It makes updating content quick and easy — anybody can do it. Without CMS, companies would need to hire an IT staff or computer programmers to change the HTML code every time something needed to be changed. It would be difficult to keep content updated in a timely fashion, which is crucial when readers are looking for the latest news online.

There are many different types of content management systems. If you’re looking to develop your own, I suggest reading Clay Schossow’s Eight Very Important Content Management System Features to ensure that your CMS will be a good fit for your company.

Using a CMS is a skill. When it comes to preparing for the job market, any skill job seekers can use to market themselves is valuable, especially when it involves using the Internet. That being said, I’m glad that we had the opportunity to add this tool to our skill set so that we can be better prepared for the future.

Have you been using a CMS system without realizing it? Do you think this is a valuable skill to have?

Essential Skills for PR Grads

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

After reading Dave Fleet’s 14 Key Attributes for New Public Relations Professionals and Vadim Lavrusik’s post on Mashable 8 Must Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalists, I’m starting to think about my own skill set and where I fit in the world of PR that I’ll (hopefully) soon be joining.

I know the field is competitive, and there are many talented people looking for entry-level jobs. However, I think I have a good grasp on many of these skills, and here’s why:

1. I’ve always had a knack for writing. Grammar, punctuation and spelling are my strong points. It helps that I’m a bit of a perfectionist; that’s the way you have to be in this business. One of my biggest pet peeves is when an apostrophe is used to make a word plural.  It’s painful to see.

2. I’m as detail-oriented as they come. I can attribute some of that to my perfectionism, but it’s a skill that I’ve developed more since I started working in the event industry. Details are key when it comes to event planning.  One tiny mistake =  one upset client.

3. I work hard. I know that’s easy for anybody to say, but as a student who held multiple leadership positions in campus organizations while working 25+ hours every week and maintaining a 3.9 cumulative GPA, I think I can say that. My work ethic kept me going. Coffee helped too.

4. I like blogs, and I follow many of them. Since this is my first blog post, I can’t claim that blogging is one of my skills. I’m fairly new on Twitter, so I can’t claim to be an expert on that either. However, I believe the best way to learn is by trying, which is exactly what I’m doing.

Overall, I’m not surprised by these lists. I am surprised, however, at one important skill that I think they left out.

New grads need to have the desire and ability to learn. I find it hard to believe that anybody coming out of college is going to have every skill needed for that first job. Grads will be thrown in new and probably uncomfortable situations, and the ability to catch on quickly and adapt is crucial. I may not know much about HTML or CSS, but I’m confident I can learn it if it’s necessary for my job.

What other skills do you think are important for new grads entering the PR field?