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Mashable and Me

First off, excuse the lack of posting over the past few weeks. There is just a trickle of readers, which is sad to say. So I am going to try and get some more eyeballs on this page starting right now.

With graduation just a little under two weeks away, post-graduation plans are still up in the air. But that is okay. I know life will take its course, so there is no point in worrying. Arnold has given me the “you can do it” thumbs up, which is encouraging.

Today in my last official PR class at the U of O I had the pleasure of listening to Allison Blass talk about life after graduation. Allison is a New Media Coordinator for MWW Group in New Jersey in addition to being an Oregon PR grad. Allison had a lot of great advice for the class as far as how to go about job hunting and networking, but it was some tips she had regarding social media that left me relieved.

Mashable is a great site that helps Allison in addition to the other probable millions of those who have locked in to social media for the long haul keep updated on trends in social media. You gotta love a site that tracks trends in what many are calling a trendy medium of communication!

I have a lot of experience with social media, but I am undoubtedly still learning. And when applying for jobs, I try to put a focus on my ability to garner publicity using social media. But as a student, it is a major challenge to keep up with every single new social media tool or site. So, before today, I often worried about how I was going to stay on top of everything social media if I got hired as a the social media “guru” at a PR agency. Mashable changed all that. Well Mashable along with Allison’s words of encouragement. Even Allison is still learning keeping up with all the new sites and tools that pop up on the Web everyday. And it is sites like Mashable that make her job manageable.

Until next time…I promise the next post will come sooner than later!

While waiting for the second half of the Lakers-Jazz playoff series to start, I spent my time on Youtube – a site I surprisingly don’t spend all that much time on.

“Kobe Bryant” is what I typed into the search box, hoping to find some quality highlights to pass the time. I was disgusted, however, after watching about 30 seconds of Kobe highlight real, a large, intrusive advertisement blindsided me. It literally came out of nowhere. Talk about a wake-up call: Youtube has gone corporate.

From a PR standpoint, it is remarkable that Youtube can maintain its indie, “user generated” image while still courting advertisers to sneak in banner ads across whatever it is someone may be watching. And as if I wasn’t shocked enough about the ad, I was even more taken back that I haven’t heard a steady grumble from Youtube users about all the newish ads that have been popping up on various content on the site. It is not surprising that the ads appeared. But with ads, Youtube loses its flair. I wonder if Google has done any studies or focus groups to understand the impact of ads on youtube users.

Sorry everyone for switching the layout around every other day. I have been trying to find a new theme I like without having to go learn some serious CSS/HTML. I thought I had the theme I liked, but then realized the various pages I have could not be seen!

Thanks for your understanding.

By the way, does anyone know of any good Web sites or programs to purchase that make learning CSS and HTML a breeze? I would love some input.

In my International Communications class this morning we talked about the issue of companies outsourcing to have their product made “on the cheap.” Companies can get away with this, because people never think or care about where a product is made. They just want to get as much bang for their buck.

But increasingly, however, more Americans are spending time to think about the concept of fair trade and where a product is made. Large companies are aware of this and have started branding their product as locally produced product or if it is made outside of the U.S. then the workers are paid fair wages. Just look at American Apparel for instance. The entire company is based on the premise that the product is made in the U.S. and their employees are compensated sufficiently.

The public relations department has done a great job of reaching a certain level of transparency by posting extensive information on how the product is made. They also devote a good portion of time making sure the public is aware of where the company stands on a variety hot issues. Immigration is one of those issues.

There is one problem, though. When looking at the Web site, it is impossible to find any information on where American Apparel gets the materials to make the clothes. For customers that want to support ethical or fair-wage companies, they need to be concerned with the entire process of how one shirt or one pair of pants is created. Take a blue cotton t-shirt for example.

Who picks the cotton?

Who dyes the cotton?

Who weaves the cotton?

Where does the thread that is use to sew the shirt come from?

These are all steps that have to be done before someone at the American Apparel factory sews together the cotton to form that blue shirt.

I hesitate to say that this is American Apparel’s dirty little secret, because I personally do not know where American Apparel gets their materials from and how those materials are made. But they must have thought about these steps and whether or not it was a good idea to disclose these steps in the manufacturing process to the public. A company like American Apparel needs to be as transparent as possible to keep folks like myself from questioning the authenticity of their “sweat free” claims. The key problem or challenge is finding the point where the public no longer feels the need to seek out more information. As a journalism student, I want to know everything. Facts are great. But not everyone is like me. So supplying just the right amount of information helps American Apparel keep its image intact by essentially giving the public a peep hole to look through. They can see inside the company – but not enough to see corner offices where the those in charge of production are devising a plan to save five cents here and there.

American Apparel’s image has been taking a hit in the recent months. So it should be interesting to see how the company copes now that they have gone public and have been looked at in a entirely new light.

Free is Great

The future of the Internet is more Web sites like craigslist. I got this from an interview that Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of “Wired” magazine, did with the incredible Charlie Rose.

Anderson has a book out explaining why free is good for business. Free promotional give always can boost business. I love his equation regarding Oprah and her King Midas-like abilities: Oprah + Free = Blockbuster. Just one look at this graph paints the entire picture. This is a classic example of the Elaborated Likelihood Model.

But “free” is killing traditional, advertised-based businesses (i.e. newspapers). Anderson talks about how craigslist has destroyed revenue from classifieds that newspapers have collected from classifieds. But craigslist isn’t exactly raking in the dough, as compared to what newspapers were once collecting. So if the millions of dollars that newspapers are losing aren’t going to competitors like craigslist, then where exactly is the money going. What I got out of the Chris Anderson interview was that the money is being distributed equally amongst the entire economy. Now that’s something to think about.

This is a tough problem to tackle from a PR standpoint. How do businesses compete with communal Web sites that offer services for free or little money up front? Going back to the “Oprah equation,” I think promotion is key – especially free promotion. Using the Elaborated Likelihood Model to guide PR strategic plans, I think offering more for free will actually give businesses a bigger profit.

What is My Time Worth?

All week I have been getting flack for turning down an internship with the triple-A baseball team in Portland. No one understands why I didn’t pounce on the first opportunity I got to go work in sports public relations/marketing.

In the end, it wasn’t the right fit. I thought about it long and hard. I asked my parents. I asked friends. I asked classmates.

What was it that scared me off? I have a hunch it was the 40-plus hour workweek with no compensation in sight when not including the free tickets to home games for friends and family twice a month.

It wasn’t easy turning down an internship that I was absolutely giddy about when I first got the interview, but it felt strangely liberating to say, “No.” As a marketable job seeker, I know there will be other opportunities. Opportunities where there is a much better chance of getting a promotion or hired as a full-time employee, which the Work Coach says are important factors when deciding whether to accept a job offer. I’m confident that I’m worth more than bimonthly baseball tickets, but how much more? It turns out that it tough question to tackle.

Before I go any farther, I just want to say that I am well aware that doing what you love can be more important than being paid handsomely to do something that you absolutely despise. But just for fun, I found the average amount of money it takes to live a “happy” life while stuck with a less-than-ideal job. Drum roll please…As the Brazen Careerist reports, it looks like $40,000 does the trick for most folks.

I would love to make $40K right out of the gate. But that is asking for a lot. Karen Burns, the Working Girl, has some great posts in regards to putting a price tag on one’s contributions to the work place.

These links were about as far as I could get. There is a scary amount of posts/blogs regarding happiness, money and striking a balance. But there is nothing to help me determine how much my time or assets are worth. Where am I going wrong?

Until next time.

Hello Again

It has been a while since my last post. And quite a lot has changed.

Spring term at the University of Oregon is officially underway, and I am starting to feel the excitement and/or pressure of graduation.

In my last public relations course at the U of O, I have the opportunity to work with a team of classmates and create a PR plan for an actual client. I can tell that this project is really going to to test what I have learned over the past two years in my other PR classes. Talk about a gut check. I’m feeling pretty confident, though. And it’s all thanks to Tom Hagley, a professor of mine who taught me how to break down key the audiences, objectives and tactics of a PR strategic plan

Just because I think my skills are good enough doesn’t mean that my team is going to succeed. The biggest lesson that I come away with from my last term in college will be that teamwork is everything. After a week of class and one client meeting, I can see that my team is not gelling at all. So I have started looking for ways to create better team dynamics.

Here are some pages that have helped me understand my teams disconnect and teamwork in general:

The You in Team

Stronger Teams Blog

Slacker Manager

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