Several months ago, I called David Heiser a rock star. A current student at the College of Charleston, David is pursuing a public relations career in the hospitality with focus, gusto, and an impressive portfolio.David_heiser 

I asked David to share strategies with us, here is the first installment of how David does it:

As a senior scheduled to graduate this spring, I’ve felt the looming threat of life after graduation for quite a while. In an economic landscape like this, where even people with years of experience are getting laid off left and right, it’s a little frightening to be heading into the workforce with nothing but internships under your belt.

For students pursuing a career in public relations, like myself, it is important to have some experience or skill that differentiates us from the hundreds of other individuals who are applying for the same positions.

This past February, I began attempting to differentiate myself by creating and maintaining a blog. I knew a blog would help establish my personal brand and increase my visibility on the internet to potential employers.

When it came time to choose a subject for my blog, I made my decision based on two criteria.

  1. I needed to pick a topic that I was passionate enough about to ensure that I wouldn’t get bored and stop writing in a few months. Too many blogs start out strong, only to fizzle when their author loses interest and stops posting.
  2. I also needed my topic to be related to an industry which I was interested in doing public relations for. This will help potential employers feel confident that I will be able to effectively communicate their client’s messages the media and other publics within the industry.

I eventually settled on restaurant reviews (I also write movie reviews, but that is mainly to insure that I have a steady stream of content). I went in this direction because I’ve always been interested in food and the restaurant industry. I love going out to eat and I’m the one my friends turn to for restaurant recommendations. I’ve also worked in restaurants and for restaurants for years, so it seemed like a logical choice.

In the nine-plus months that I’ve been writing for my blog, I’ve written 88 posts and slowly crept up the Google results for my name (I’m currently in fourth). I’ve had my reviews syndicated on two local news websites, which has helped to increase my site’s visibility. I’ve also made sure to keep a consistently updated resume, a variety of writing samples, and a current list of all of my social media profiles easily accessible for anyone (especially potential employers) who may be interested.

To help push my blog entries out to everyone in my network, I have used a variety of social media tools. First, I set up an RSS feed and an e-mail feed, so visitors would have multiple ways of subscribing to my site. I use TwitterFeed to send a tweet every time I make a new post. Facebook’s Blogcast application and MySpace’s RSS Reader share my entries with my friends on each site. Most people (even your close friends) won’t check your Web site every day, so it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to know when you’ve produced new material.

While a blog/Web site won’t get you a job by itself, it can certainly increase your chances. You will still need to have a well-crafted resume, network like there’s no tomorrow, and prepare for interviews like they are midterms if you want to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. So, how is it working for me? Well, I don’t have any offers for after graduation yet, but I have managed to leverage my blog experience to help land three internships. From here, I just need to keep up the hard work and hope my effort pays off.

Many thanks to David for sharing his expertise on blogs, and stay tuned for more information on how his job search progresses. I'm predicting big things.