Unsolicited Advice

The pangs of guilt associated with being a neglectful blog owner have begun to weigh heavy on my abnormally weak shoulders yet again – so, like an absentee father who only shows up at the holidays… here I am.

First off, really digging this updated UI, WordPress. Well done.

Life is funny. No really. Personal example: My previous blog post (see below), of which I wrote as a part of my final project for J460 at UO spring term with Dave Allen, earned me an A in the class. I was happy, it was fun, I moved on. That is, until I received an e-mail from Dave about mid-way through summer while I was still living in Eugene finishing up a few classes that there was a spot open for a social media person at Portland-based advertising agency NORTH. The agency is pretty well known throughout the J school due to Dave you know, working there, so I of course jumped on the opportunity. After a couple interviews, I am now proudly a Northie. I have been working for about a month now in the Social Lab and I am really enjoying it! It’s a great agency with a good vibe and good people. I have a lot to learn about the industry and believe NORTH will be the perfect place for me to do so. Number 1 attribute of the real world they don’t prepare you for in school – there are a lot more fancy cheese plates than I was expecting (not complaining).

Moral of the story people: KEEP A BLOG! I know whenever people told me that in the J school, I’d be like, “yeah sure” and continue my full time job as a slave of the internet. But, I am now a firm believer that at least having a presence on a blogging platform will help you in the long run. Not that I am an expert by any means at this point, but this would definitely be my first piece of advice if anyone asked me. But no one has yet. Hence this blog post.

So, now that I am a (semi) functioning member of society, I actually promise to update this ole thang as much as possible with my thoughts on industry/social media/pop culture/whatever related things. Writing for fun, yeah!

 

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Digital Social Branding: What I’ve Learned

The word “advertising” means so much more today than it did 50 years ago in the ages of scotch at 10 a.m., Madison Ave., Mad Men style print advertising. The internet has opened up a world of possibilities for brands and consumers alike. Transparency isn’t an option anymore –  it’s a necessity.

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We have talked about the ever-changing digital world and it’s effects on the world a lot this term in Digital Social Branding. As a double public relations and advertising major, I am interested in how brands can use the internet to help – or harm their brand reputation. Although I know now that the rules of digital media cannot be taught in a 10-week college course, there are right and wrong ways that it can be used. These become apparent when comparing how different successful and unsuccessful brands have either swam or sank from their online efforts and looking at the rules of digital life from Velocity and Dave Allen.

Research and Plan. Plan and Research.

Let’s start by thinking about what is required for a strong online presence. This means a brand is not just sitting there waiting for someone to engage with them – they are doing something new, jumping right into the digital world, pushing the envelope of what’s been seen or done before. It has to be more than just hopping on the bandwagon.

Digital content, even if it has a humorous and informal tone, requires extensive planning, questioning and even self-doubt at first. Before implementing a plan, the team behind the campaign must weigh all pros and cons of what the possible outcomes of implementing an idea are. Doing this will allow you to find holes in your plan that may limit engagement from the full audience you want to reach.

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An example of a good idea with poor planning occurred back in 2009 with Burger King’s “Sacrifice 10 Friends” Facebook campaign. The campaign went viral when it challenged users to delete 10 friends from their Facebook in order to win a free Whopper. More than 200,000 friends were “sacrificed”…before Facebook shut it down due to concerns about it’s users privacy (I really think they were just scared about losing so many users to a slab of meat…but that is besides the point).

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What could have become an even bigger social campaign was cut short of it’s full potential. Burger King should have done all the research and questioning they could, internally and externally, to assure that the campaign wouldn’t catch any snags like this one that cut the engagement short. It is important to think of every possible scenario before an idea or execution is out in the world for everyone to see. Failing privately is okay – it helps you learn what will and won’t work for your brand and why. Failing publicly…not so okay. It can potentially damage credibility and relationships with consumers who will feel a lack of trust and reliability with your brand.

“It doesn’t make you a dick to question everything.”

Fail HARDER. FASTER.

The faster you fail, the faster you move, learn on and fix it. Otherwise, someone else could swoop in with an idea even better and cooler than yours, and all your hard work is kaput. What Wieden+Kennedy tells us, Dave protests – and with good reason. Don’t wait to fail. Do it fast. Get it over with. The digital world gives consumers the ability to see into companies more so than ever before. So don’t fail hard. Fail fast. Then get your shit together. And do something awesome.

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Felicia Sullivan, head of innovation at Attention USA says that these are the five main points when analyzing digital strategy:

1. Presence: Measure of the brand’s social footprint
2. Influence: Branded message adoption
3. Perception: Emotional reaction to the brand
4. Virality: People organically participating in conversations
5. Resonance: Reaction to the overall conversation about the brand

This makes it easier to comprehend each category of what you have to consider when implementing digital strategy. In order to be a truly successful effort, truly every scenario and effect must be considered. Plan and research. Never stop questioning. When you think you’ve done enough – do more.

Think Long Term

Creating and implementing digital strategy is difficult for many reasons – mainly because it is not just about the foreseeable future – truly successful digital strategy develops long-term engagement for a brand.

3709e3ed2f35578d6cae431308d7b6bbAs Velocity‘s authors recall,

“had we limited our initial thinking merely to what was possible at the time, it wouldn’t have happened”

about the creation and release of Nike Digital Sport products. What seems convenient now may bite you in the rear later. While it is easy to want to please yourself, your client or your brand now, if it doesn’t resonate down the road all your hard work was pretty much for nothing.

You must discover, plan, invent, define, build, deploy, manage and grow. Notice how there is never an end point. There is no happily ever after. You must continue cultivating and managing your brand and it’s digital presence even when a certain campaign has ended. Everything online is permanent, it doesn’t just disappear once you have completed the project. And if you get on the wrong path…get off of it. Not everything is going to go smoothly. But it is up to you to make sure the end result is near perfection.

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Long-term success versus short-term gratification is one of the largest battles of the digital world. Trends are such a big part of the digital world that people move on from them quickly if it is not interesting enough. Clearly, no campaign will last forever but it needs to have a lasting effect that will continue to further the brand down the road.

Red Bull does an excellent job of innovating and staying relevant in the digital world. They developed Red Bull Media House, a company within itself that focuses on sports, culture and lifestyle that are all consistent with the daredevil, balls-to-the-walls feel that Red Bull has with all of it’s media efforts. In addition to social media, there is Red Bull Mobile, Red Bull Music Academy Radio, and more. Here is a description of what they do:

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Everyone remembers last year when Felix Baumgartner jumped from space to earth – and due to Red Bull’s media coverage and branding, Red Bull is now synonymous with the infamous leap of faith. Red Bull encourages long-term brand engagement because everything is consistent with the brand messaging and they are using digital media to their advantage. For years to come, whenever someone Googles “jump from space”, media of Bamgartner standing above the earth with the Red Bull logo splashed across his white jumpsuit will fill their screens. An energy drink that also produces movies, music, etc? Red Bull is now just more than a beverage, it is a lifestyle that consumers relate to the “badass” mentality. And that is not going away any time soon.

Keep It Simple

The digital world may seem confusing and overwhelming at first. However, the brands that have found the most success have followed the same rule – stay simple. One of the main points in Velocity is,

“Make the complicated simple. And the simple interesting”.

People have become so addicted to smart phones and mobile web because it makes searching things and obtaining information so much simpler. As a digital strategist, it is your job to make consumer’s lives easier. This is definitely easier said than done. You must ask yourself, “who will use this? How will they find it? What problem does it solve? How can we make it better? Why are we doing this? Why are they using it? Who are these people?”.

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This relates back to the first point. Ask yourself every question possible. Gut the problem and the solution until you know everything there is to know about your brand and it’s mission. Once you completely understand your audience and your goal, then you may proceed. “But, if I want to create something simple, why do I have to over think it so much?”, you may be wondering.

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Here’s the catch: making something easier for the consumer is going to make your work harder. If you’re going mobile, remember that mobile isn’t the device, mobile is the user. A smart phone is where an individual keeps all of their information – it is a very personal piece of technology. So you need to personalize whatever you are doing for mobile for the user.

As Velocity tells us,

“Make yourself proud by making people’s lives easier, richer and more fun. Don’t just give people choice, help them choose”.

In other words, the people are the master and you (digital folk) are the slave. Now, this isn’t saying create an insane app that takes climbing through hoops to understand and use. Back to the simple part. Give people a simple, yet creative and innovative mobile experience that matters. It could be the easiest, most simple idea ever but it is up to you to give it life. Give it personality. Make it count. If you have the best idea for an app or site ever and it is executed wrong, you’ve done all your hard work for nothing.

The number one priority = user friendly.

User friendly = simple.

Simple = happy consumers.

Happy consumers = cool brand.

But, in the end: nothing digital is new. After all, the web just turned 20 years old. This is why our work is cut out for us. In a world where creating something brand spankin’ new is nearly impossible, we have to innovate and create – all while keeping it simple and catering to the consumer.

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Final Musings

If I could, I would include every quote from Velocity in this essay. Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander just get it. Coming from a PR background prior to taking Digital Social Branding, what resonated the most with me is – the best advertising isn’t advertising. Brand loyalty is no more than a relationship – a connection someone has to their favorite brand.

No money can buy a good reputation. This comes from deep within the brand and is conveyed to the public by teams of competent and creative digital strategists. Relationships aren’t going to come out of thin air. They take work – from both sides. Relationships are truly what make the world tick – from client agency relationships to brand consumer relationships, every move made is pivotal in making connections and furthering your brand image. Clearly, we have a lot to think about. Selfishness doesn’t work in the digital world. Your message has to matter. More importantly, how you deliver your message has to matter.

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It is difficult to summarize everything we’ve learned in a class so jam packed full of interesting information. I believe that I have touched on the main points that resonated the most for me that I will take on with me through Advertising Campaigns and into the real world. It’s easy to get swept up into the theatrics of it all. But, when it comes down to it, you’ve got to plan and research (never stop questioning), think long-term engagement (don’t be boring) and keep it simple (consumer is king). Amongst all the junk advertising in the world, there is good stuff going on. I’m curious to see how it will continue to evolve throughout the next few years as we make the transition from student to professional.

I hope to garner everything I’ve learned in school – from my PR, advertising and business courses and be able to grasp what is necessary to make the industry a better place. But there’s no better way to learn than getting out there and doing it. So, here’s to new experiences and to doing epic shit.

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Thank you for a great term, Dave!

Rutgers Drama + Late Night Musings

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Now, I love my sleep just as much as the next college student but seeing as I took this rainy Sunday to my advantage and watched episodes of Chopped and Property Brothers all day…it is currently 1:15 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I figure these are my last days before the real world to enjoy day long TV show marathons, so judge me not.

Anyways – this past week I started a new internship at Vox Public Relations Public Affairs in Eugene. So far, I am really enjoying it. I think it will give me lots of opportunity to improve my writing skills and get a taste of life at a small PR agency. I go in for a few hours on Mondays and Wednesdays and even have my own intern station with desktop computer and all. It feels very grown up.

On Wednesday, I wrote a blog post for Vox’s Blog that I wanted to share here as well. I chose to write about the Rutgers’ basketball scandal that seems to be the talk of the sports world at the moment. So, here it is:

College athletics is no stranger to scandal, and the industry is abuzz again following Rutgers’ firing of men’s basketball head coach Mike Rice. The school arrived at the decision after hours of video footage showing Rice physically and verbally abusing his players leaked on the Internet.

The story first broke on Tuesday during ESPN’s broadcast of the popular sports program Outside the Lines. The show aired video footage in which Rice is shown shoving, throwing basketballs at and using homophobic slurs toward the members of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights basketball team.

Many of us are shocked by the disturbing footage – that is, many of us who don’t work for the Rutgers athletic department. Back in December, Rice was quietly fined $50,000 and suspended for three games after the Rutgers athletic department initially became aware of abuse on the court.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie questioned the athletic department’s actions in a statement released Wednesday. “Rutgers has done the right thing by firing Mr. Rice,” said Christie, “but that still doesn’t resolve questions about how he was allowed to continue overseeing college students after this behavior first came to the attention of Rutgers administration last year.”

Rice’s behavior is inexcusable, but the athletic department’s culpability shouldn’t be ignored.  It is the administration’s responsibility to ensure that coaches treat their players with respect and show by example how to appropriately represent their universities and work together toward the common goal of winning games. Should the members of the Rutgers athletic department be punished as well for turning a blind eye to inappropriate behavior they knew was occurring?

For both Rice and Rutgers athletics, this is a PR disaster. However, there are a few things all of us can take away from this unfortunate example:

  • It will get out. If you are exhibiting inappropriate or shocking behavior in public, don’t count on keeping it quiet. This applies to all brands, companies and individuals.
  • Take responsibility. Keeping secrets in today’s digital, content-driven, constantly sharing society just doesn’t work. The only thing worse than making a mistake is trying to cover it up – if it comes to light (and it will), the public will have a difficult time ever trusting your brand again.

A solution? Don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t want your fans or consumers to know or hear about. A relationship with the public can be achieved by being genuine and honest about the innermost workings of your brand and what it represents. So, use transparency to your advantage and avoid shady behavior – as Mike Rice has shown us, it won’t get you anywhere.

Since the blog post was written, the assistant coach and athletic director have stepped down, but now the pressure to take responsibility is lying on Rutgers president Robert Barchi. He is scheduled to hold a press conference Monday to address the situation and it’s effect on the university. What are your thoughts on the scandal? Do you think the school has handled it well so far?

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And on a final note, I won the bracket pool at my dad’s office and was THIS close to winning the other bracket pool I entered consisting of about 20 college boys – imagine the bragging rights if I had of pulled that off. But sadly, Syracuse fell to Michigan and now I am just another bracket loser. With all the excitement of the Final Four this past weekend, I got to thinking – imagine what a Final Four for college football will be like. Insanity…I can’t wait. Hurry up, 2015.

Spring Break-Down

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“When People Start Talking About Jobs After Graduation” from What Should We Call Me

Well, I am officially on my last spring break ever. Once again, my spring break is taking place in good ole’ Portland. The most exciting part of spring break 2013 will probably be seeing Spring Breakers.

Clearly, this is a bittersweet time for myself and my peers at the University of Oregon who are preparing to enter our LAST. TERM. OF. COLLEGE. EVER. It’s an exciting time, but talk about stressful. The ever-dreaded time to figure out what the hell we’re going to do with our lives is upon us. I think I’m going to start keeping a tally of how many times in a given week I am asked “So what are you doing after school?”.

And to be honest, right now I have absolutely no idea. I want to travel, but I don’t want to miss out on an awesome internship opportunity in the states that could help me with my career long term. Do I throw up my hands and say “Whatever, I’m going backpacking around Europe!”? Do I teach English in Thailand? Do I find a fall internship in Portland first and travel after? Do I move to San Francisco? Do I keep bugging my dad to connect me with his colleagues in Europe? All of this uncertainty in my life right now is making me want to crawl back into bed where I am currently having a constant Netflix party with Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope and the rest of the Parks & Rec crew.

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Leslie Knope has actually been inspiring me as of late. While she’s a little ditzy and overzealous, Leslie loves her job and the town of Pawnee. I can only hope that I find a job I love doing something that makes me excited about going to work everyday. I know that in order for this to happen, I can’t settle somewhere that I know I won’t be able to cultivate my personal and professional skills. It’s the big ? that’s driving me crazy right now. However, I think that will just push me to find the perfect opportunity for myself right now – whatever that may be. If you have a job for me… I’ll gladly take it. Just putting that out there.

Last Friday, after weeks of stressing, printing, gluing and formatting, those of us in J454 PR Campaigns had our final PR portfolio reviews in Portland at the George S. Turnbull Center. We put on our business casual best (a rarity for us J students… I’ll let the business school gals keep their blazers and pencil skirts) and presented our individual portfolios to three Portland-based professionals. We were to walk in the room, introduce ourselves and leave our portfolio with them for 10-15 minutes. Then we came back in the room and presented our portfolio, going into detail about each project or assignment and it’s purpose. After the official presentation, we left the room again for about five minutes to allow more private discussion about our work. Finally, after entering the room again, the three professionals critiqued your presentation and your work you chose to include in your portfolio.

My reviewers were Mac Prichard, President of Prichard Communications, Jenna Cooper, Owner of JennaCooperPR and Natalie Gilmore, Public Relations Manager at Portland Center Stage. My reviewers gave me a very well thought out and in depth critique of my portfolio. It was truly an awesome experience to interact so closely with these thought leaders and hear what they are looking for in the work of a soon-to-be recent grad. What stuck with me the most was when Mr. Prichard told me that hiring managers are looking for people who are outgoing, enthusiastic and willing to learn more so than someone who’s a bummer to be around and knows everything about public relations. (Warning: humble brag straight ahead) They also told me that I was “engaging and personable and [they’d] like to sit by me in the office”, which I think is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. I feel like now I have the knowledge to update my portfolio and make it kick-ass enough to bring with me on job interviews.

So, that is how I kicked off my spring break. Being a J student, as others are cramming and freaking out about the Blackboard breakdown that occurred all day yesterday, I have been up here in Portland since Friday doing things like going to the gym, making muffins and blogging in coffee shops (which is what I am currently doing…Portland stereotype please stand up).

And with that, now I must go indepthly listen to Justin Timberlake’s new album The 20/20 Experience. I have a lot of studying to do seeing as I am going to see him and Jay-Z in concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco this July.

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Feel free to check out my online portfolio here! Enjoy.

Senior Power

Okay, so I’ll admit it… I failed at blogging about all my NYC adventures this summer. But hey, you can’t blame me!! With such a big city and so much to do and see, time flew by way faster than I expected it to. 

My internship at Brandsway Creative was awesome and had me drafting pitch letters, writing media lists, running around the city picking up dresses for models and designers (I felt very Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada) and soaking in all the amazing NYC PR industry culture. Brandsway represents people, places and things like Maybelline model Jessica White, NYC hot-spot Sons of Essex and Pierre Michel Salon, among others.

But  now I’m back and settled in the the good ole’ Eug and couldn’t be happier about taking on my senior year. 

Summer Blockbusters

In addition to sun, pool time and other summertime activities that are fast approaching us, it is also summer movie season. With social media, it is easy to measure which flicks are gaining the most buzz online.

According to this article from mashable.com, the movie that has created the most buzz thus far is Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart. Following Snow White is The Avengers in second and Ted, a film by Seth McFarlane of Family Guy fame.

Ted, a film about a grown man and his animated stuffed bear has done an amazing job at marketing the film online. This not only saves them a ton of money – social media is free after all – it also has gained them a large following of fans before the movie has even come out. The movie has close to 350,00 likes on Facebook, popular and current Twitter and Tumblr pages, and a YouTube channel of which the movie trailer has been viewed more than 15,00,000 times.

This just goes to show that a movie doesn’t need million dollar advertisements to create a buzz about the film. Sure, it helps, but in these times it’s all about social media.

London 2012

With the digital world bigger and more popular than ever, the Olympics had to find a way to transition from sole TV coverage to being reachable on every platform. They have made some developments that will make it incredibly easy to stay up to date with all of the results from this summer’s upcoming games in London.

These additions to the Olympics viewing experience make it much easier to track your favorite athletes and check times of when different events are on. NBCOlympics.com will be live streaming every event and have their own YouTube channel as well (so you can re-watch events whenever you want). For mobile devices and tablets, there are two different apps that have been created that will allow you to watch live streams and highlights. And of course, for television there are satellite channels for sole coverage on basketball and soccer.

It is very important that NBC and the Olympics monitor their different means of broadcast this summer. The Olympics is one of the larget worldwide events that needs a large amount of media coverage – coverage that must be easily found and played. It will be interesting to see how effective these new developments are for the games. It will also be pivotal for the Olympics to utilize social media for coverage – that way they can announce medalists, times of events and any other important updates.