Because the public relations industry is slowly becoming synonymous with social media, we’ve been asked to “grow up” a little faster than our peers might have to. Our Twitter accounts have been spotless for years and Facebooks wiped clean, while our friends still post drinking pictures every weekend. I’ll be the first to admit that it can be a bit frustrating having to censor myself online. You can attempt to have two profiles (one personal, one professional) but from my own experience, it became taxing and one profile always suffered more than the other. However, I try to look at it as an opportunity to write more creatively. Sure, there’s probably an easier (and more profane) way to get your point across, but where’s the challenge in that? At the heart of our job we’re creative writers, so coming up with a bio sans #IWokeUpLikeThis shouldn’t be that hard.
While you may gawk at the things your friends post online, they may equally be questioning you and your decision to not allow certain things on your profile. I’m sure you have all had the awkward or uncomfortable experience of having to ask your friend to un-tag you in a compromising photo or to refrain from using curse words in your comments. They look at you as if you had just asked them to give you their first child.
My purpose in writing about this is two-fold. First, I wanted you to know that you’re not alone. Again, because of the profession we’ve chosen, we’re required to mature a little faster in the way we present ourselves online — and that’s alright. In fact, I’m grateful for it. That brings me to my next purpose: to let you know that being a “grandma” or “grandpa” online is okay! I’ve realized that outside of our little public relations bubble there are still tons of students who either just started to create a LinkedIn profile or still aren’t even aware of its importance. We all have friends that still think it’s okay to say whatever they want because it’s their profile, but luckily we know better. We don’t have to learn the hard way by not snagging our dream job. We learned about the importance of online decorum the easy, by reading the PRowl blog of course!
So keep participating in your Twitter chats on personal branding, taking headshots for your LinkedIn, and blocking people on Facebook. Your friends may look at you a bit funny, but you’ll also make employers take a second look.