Edelman Digital Bootcamp coverage

6 03 2008

logo.jpgAfter After much encouragement from my professor, I have decided to comment on the Edelman Digital Bootcamp Conference coverage. Edelman’s Bootcamp was hosted at the University of Georgia this last Sunday. The university chose to promote the conference by using Flickr, Twitter, and by creating both a Web site and blog.

I decided to start by checking out the Web site. My first reaction to the Web site was that it seemed a little too crowded. Visually, I had trouble deciding where I should be looking. There was no main focal point, which made the purpose of the Web site a little unclear. After some digging, I discovered that the Web site contained lots of helpful information and resources. In conclusion, I found the content of the Web site to be interesting and relevant, but the delivery was lacking.

I especially enjoyed Edelman’s use of Flickr and Twitter. The Flickr account acted as a great visual aid, and gave the whole concept a more personal feel. I liked having the ability to match faces with the names of the conference participants.

For attendees of the conference, I think the use of Twitter must have been especially helpful. I can imagine being away at a conference and wondering what my peers are up to. Twitter is an excellent way for large groups like this one to keep in touch with each other and comment on happenings of the day. The Twitter updates were also helpful for me, an outside viewer, because it gave me an idea of how the conference was going through many different perspectives. For me, it acted as a summary of the conference.

Overall, I believe the use of social media to cover the conference was a good idea. It was an interactive and fun way to gain insights about the content of the coverage and its participants. The only critique I have is that the Web site could be more concise and visually appealing.





The Antiauthorities

5 03 2008

book_stick.jpgAs I was reading the assigned chapters for this week in “Made to Stick,” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, I came across an interesting concept: the antiauthority. According to the authors, an “antiauthority” is an external source of credibility who is not a celebrity or expert. Chip and Dan suggest using antiauthorities to add credibility to our public relations practices. Credibility is an important component of persuading a skeptical audience to believe a new message.

One example of drawing credibility from antiauthorities that caught my attention while reading was the Doe Fund in New York City. The Doe Fund is an organization that takes homeless men and turns them into productive citizens through counseling, drug rehabilitation, and job training. What is interesting about this organization is the way they use men who have benefited from the Doe Fund program to help promote and gain funding for the organization. For instance, a few years ago, representatives from a grant organization were going to visit the offices of the Doe Fund. The Doe Fund decided to use an antiauthority, a previously homeless man named Dennis, to pick up the representatives and drive them to the offices. In the car ride, Dennis explained how the Doe Fund helped him become a successful citizen. Dennis acted as living proof of the effectiveness of the organization, persuading the grant organization representatives to provide funding.

I thought this was a smart tactic used by the Doe Fund. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and that’s exactly what the Doe Fund’s philosophy seems to be when it comes to promoting its own image.





Urban Outfitters Blog

28 02 2008

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spaceball.gifAs I was browsing the Urban Outfitters Web site this afternoon, in grave danger of spending money I don’t have, I came across an interesting fact. Urban Outfitters has a blog! Soon I discovered not only do they have one blog, but they have a collection of blogs written by people from different places around the world. There is a New York blog, one from San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and even London.

The blogs discuss new clothing lines at Urban Outfitters, upcoming artists, musicians, and other aspects of “urban” pop culture. The blogs have a hip and alternative image, which goes along nicely with the image of Urban Outfitters as a retailer. In addition to its collection of blogs, Urban Outfitters has a Flickr account, where anyone can add photos of themselves wearing clothing from Urban Outfitters.

Although I am surprised very many people actually read these blogs, I applaud Urban Outfitters for utilizing social media to their benefit. The fact that they are using social media also goes along with the hip, alternative, with-the-times image they seem to be promoting through their advertising.

What was most exciting about my recent discovery was that they have a Portland blog! Included in the Portland blog were posts on Powell’s Books, a new alternative dance troupe called “Woolly Mammoth Comes to Dinner,” and a piece on a Portland designer. I was also surprised to find out that a local jewelry designer was discovered on the Urban Outfitters blog! The designer is Stephanie Simek, an upcoming Portland designer who is now selling her jewelry through the Urban Outfitter’s blog. What a great way to spread the word about a new line! I wonder how Stephanie was able to have her jewelery featured on Urban Outfitters blog.





Getting Creative

28 02 2008

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In class this week, we are learning about creating and delivering interesting presentations. First, we looked at examples of very well-done presentations versus boring ones. Presentations given by Bill Gates were used as examples of dull, complicated and poorly executed presentations. For someone as successful and wealthy as Bill Gates, it is surprising that he is incapable of creating a better presentation. Although Bill Gates may lack creativity, I don’t see why he can’t use his resources to find someone else to create a stimulating presentation for him. Apple CEO Steve Jobs, on the other hand, made a very simple, visually appealing presentation for his MacWorld 2008 Keynote Address. The difference between these two computer superstars is amazing. This inspection of presentation-making made me start thinking about artistic design and its place in the public relations field.

As someone who has always been interested in art and design, I have always hoped that I will someday have a job in public relations that involves some level of creativity. So far, during my studies at the University of Oregon, I have mainly focused on writing skills. As a public relations major, I have been encouraged again and again to keep my writing concise. This has proved to be a difficult concept for me. I like language. I love descriptive, creative writing. The more adjectives the better, right? Apparently, this is not the way to succeed in public relations. However, there has got to be some room for creativity, if not in our writing, then somewhere else.

Learning about presentation-making this week has opened my eyes to a new vehicle for creativity in public relations. Presentations are all about using space, color and form to create a visually appealing expression of your main ideas. In presentations, you use text and spoken words along with visual images to deliver your message.

It looks like there might be a little room for art in public relations after all!

 





Glogster

19 02 2008

logo-glogster-295px.pngToday I noticed an advertisement on my Facebook account for Glogster, something I had never heard about. I decided to click on the link and was immediately introduced to a new form of social media.

After bouncing around the Web site for a little while, I learned that a “glog” is a sort of virtual poster that can be made by anyone. Images, text and both audio and video clips can be added to a glog in order to make whatever statement the user wishes. Then, the glogs can be organized into categories, such as “music,” “people,” or “journals and scrapbooks.”

After browsing through the site’s top ten glogs, I’ve decided a glog is like a scrapbook page that you can add audio, video, and interactive qualities to.

While I don’t believe glogging is as good of a public relations strategy as blogging, I think when used correctly, it could be another way to promote a company or person’s image. In my opinion, this social medium would make most sense to use for an individual, such as a singer or actor. That way, the individual person creates a glog that they feel best represents them and displays it to the public.

I’m curious to see if glogging catches on. Something tells me it won’t ever be as popular as blogging or the Facebook.





Writing a Letter to Shareholders: Target and Nordstrom

18 02 2008

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In class on Thursday, we learned about composing a shareholder letter. In order to start writing our own mock letter for the Chiquita company, we were asked to take a look of a few real shareholder letters put together by a company of our choice. I chose to take a look at Target and Nordstrom‘s shareholder letters by visiting their Web sites. I chose Target because I have always admired their advertising, and assumed that they would have a good public relations department as well. I chose Nordstrom because I shop there often and also like the image they have maintained through their advertising and public relations.

Upon reading these two shareholder letters, I noticed some interesting and surprising flaws.

Target, whose annual report was well organized, clearly written and visually appealing, contained a shareholder letter that was full of jargon. The opening sentence was so long that I had to go back and read it three times to understand its meaning. It was inconsistent because the majority of the text throughout the rest of the annual report was clear and concise. This surprised me, especially coming from a company that has done so well and has the resources to write an exceptional shareholder letter.

Nordstrom’s annual report looked like a work of art. The graphics were unique, colorful and served as a nice way to break up the text in their annual report. The problem with Nordstrom’s shareholder letter was that it was the exact opposite of the images that went along with it. The letter was way too long, and completely lacked colorful language. It was dull, and very impersonal in tone.

I found it hard to believe that two highly successful, popular companies like Nordstrom and Target would have such large flaws in their annual reports! Luckily, the experience made me more aware of what to avoid when writing a shareholder letter. Let’s hope I can take this experience and use it to my advantage on this next big assignment!





Dress to Impress

14 02 2008

After commenting on a fellow P.R. student’s blog about dressing professionally in your public relations career, I decided to look a little further into the subject and write my own post.

It seems that over the years, people have become more lax about what they wear to work. Maybe it has to do with fashion trends, such as the way jeans have become a staple in American fashion. It has become perfectly acceptable to wear jeans on the weekend, to school or even to a fancy restaurant, depending on what is worn up top. Celebrities have been seen wearing jeans to more “laid back” award shows, like the MTV Music Awards, for example.

This brings up the question: how much does appearance really matter? In addition, what is appropriate to wear to work?

According to Dawn Rosenberg McKay’s career planning blog, it’s human nature to “judge a book by it’s cover,” as they say. She points out that while a person wearing jeans may be as competent and as intelligent as a person dressed in a formal suit, it is most likely that these qualities will be assessed based on appearance.

Knowledge, preparation, and appearance are necessary to make a good impression.

I would also say that it is important to dress professionally, but also dress in a way that is appropriate to your specific field of work. Dress codes and norms will be different depending on the environment you work in. The safest bet is to be clean, neat and dressed in something classic without a lot of distracting frills. This doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish. It just means you should go with a more classic, less-revealing version of the latest styles.

For women, McKay suggests wearing a nice skirt and jacket. For men, she suggests dress trousers and a jacket. She also suggests avoiding large or glitzy jewelry, and frosted or glittery make-up. Hair should be neat and clean, and swept away from your face. 

By following these simple suggestions, McKay claims, you will project an image of professionalism and confidence that will allow you to shine in any career.

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