Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

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Three books PR professionals should have on their reading list

January 8, 2015

By: Melaina Lewis, @melaina_lewis

Like many people I enjoy getting lost in a good book, which is hard when you’re a busy college student. It’s difficult finding time in between meetings, classes, studying and sleep. Lately, the real problem is finding a book interesting enough to read; even the Twitter sphere couldn’t answer my call for a good recommendation. Over winter break, I promised I would take time to rejuvenate my creative energy and read a few books. Being a senior in college, however, I wasn’t looking for the next The Fault in Our Stars (which I highly recommend), but a book that begins to prepare me for the next stage of life: job hunting, career goals and post-grad life.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a first year student or a senior, take a look at the list of books I plan to read this year. (Apologies in advance, these recommendations sway toward female readers.)

1. “#GirlBoss” by Sophia Amoruso

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Of course, my inner Public Relations professional was drawn to this title purely for the hashtag, but let me tell you, I highly recommend this book. Amoruso shares her offbeat rag-to-riches story of becoming the CEO and founder of Nasty Gal, a vintage clothing store. The Goodreads Choice Awards Best Business Books recipient encourages females to become the masters of their destiny and financial independence, by owning the qualities they’ve previously been ashamed of (bossiness, crudeness, laziness). Plus, who isn’t inspired by this advice: “A #GirlBoss” is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it.”

2. “Lean In: For Graduates” by Sheryl Sandberg

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In all honesty, I haven’t read Sandberg’s first edition of Lean In, but this being addressed to graduates got my attention. Sandberg includes six additional chapters from experts offering advice on finding and getting the most out of a first job, best interviewing practices, salary negotiations, listening to your inner voice, owning who you are and leaning in for millennial men.

3. “Youtility” by Jay Baer

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Youtility falls into the category of an “oldie but a goodie.” This content marketing book completely changed how I thought about PR and the way I design campaigns and marketing tactics. It explains why smart marketing is about the help not the hype. Youtility is a must read for young professionals.

These recommendations maybe career and industry driven, so on a more fun note, I plan to read a few of these books before they hit theaters. (Courtesy of Buzzfeed)

5 Social Media Tips to Begin 2015

January 6, 2015

By: Austin Ambrose, @tex_ambrose7

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Starting a new year allows for the chance to start fresh, and there is no reason this shouldn’t apply to your social media life too. Now is a perfect time to rethink your media strategy, and make some changes for the year ahead. With a little time and effort, you can have a completely revamped and improved plan for 2015.

Evan Lepage, a blogger for Hootsuite, discussed five tips for social media renovations. Taking from Lepage’s discussion, I’ll add some personal experiences of my own to bring the discussion closer to home.

1. Declutter and Drop the Weight

  • There are times when you scroll through your news feed on the accounts you manage, or maybe your own, and realize that you have no idea why you follow some r accounts. Drop that weight. Stop cluttering your feed with people who aren’t aligning with your goals, or who aren’t supplying the information you are looking for. Get rid of them, and move on. Also, cancel those accounts that you never use. If you aren’t updating that Google+ you made when you signed up for Gmail, end it. People shouldn’t find that and follow it, if you are never going to update anything on it.

2. Set Realistic Goals

  • Be smart about what you plan to achieve this year with your social media accounts. Don’t get your hopes up, saying you are going to gain 100 organic new followers on Instagram in a month. Chances are this probably won’t happen. I know that I have created goals for one of my accounts to post every other day on a Facebook page, and have 5 new likes in two months. Since education reform is a narrower interest group, I knew not to expect a lot, but hopefully gain some new followers.

3. Build a Follow List

  • While you are setting your goals, it might be a good idea to think about what information you hope to receive from your accounts. Once you know what you are looking for from your account, find new accounts that will provide you with that information. Don’t follow the people that retweet the information, follow the people who are first to send it out. Make a list of these people, and know who to look for to increase your effectiveness.

4. Update Profiles

  • Not having an updated profile is a real buzz kill. People are looking to learn more about you, but if you never update that Linkedin, then it becomes difficult. And yes, people still check Facebook, so make sure that is updated as well. Even if you don’t use it, have it up-to-date, or get rid of it.

5. Learn, Learn, Learn

  • Social media could be described as the fastest changing medium. New platforms are created all the time. It’s important to know what the hottest new app is and how the old ones have evolved. Stay current and do your homework. Make an effort to learn as much as you can about the sites you use and how they are changing. Also, make it a point to be on the look out for what is up and coming. You don’t want to be the last one to the rodeo.

Tumblr: Less is more

December 31, 2014

By: Gabrielle Gamad, @gabbygamad

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While procrastinating in the library, I discovered why one social media site is taking the field. Archive after archive, I began to see an abundance of things Tumblr did better than the more popular social media platforms.

For starters, Tumblr hits the hard-to-reach demographic, teen to twenty-something year olds. According to the Business Insider, GlobalWebIndex’s survey reported that 34 million Internet users, globally, said that they contribute to, or use Tumblr on a monthly basis. Nearly half, 46%, of these users were between the ages of 16 and 24. Tumblr appeals to this age group by keeping posts simple.

I can confidently say a majority of my newsfeed is Parks and Recreation memes (usually Leslie Knope inspirational quotes), dancing babies from Vine and GIFs from old 90’s movies. Under all the fluff of my favorite memes and GIFs is something every person interested in PR can take away. Going into 2015, people in PR should consider that sometimes less is more when trying to target the 16 to 24 age group.

Hear about “The Woman and Black 2” coming to theaters January 2nd? There’s a GIF for that. What about the Hawaii vacation give away contest St. Ives is promoting? Yeah, there’s a GIF for that too. Instead of watching a three minute movie trailer, there is a couple of highlights from the movie, conveniently located to the right of your newsfeed. Also, a picture of two sandy feet in the ocean is a lot more appealing than a list of reasons why you should pay attention to St. Ives. We live in a fast paced world where advertisements are long and attention spans are short. Quick GIFs and images gets advertiser’s point across without wasting the time of their audience.

Scroll through Tumblr, you can immediately see there is an array of multimedia content that appeals to our microscopic attention spans, keeping posts short, sweet and to the point. Tumblr is similar to Twitter and Instagram in the way they distribute their content. What sets Tumblr’s apart is the ability to have multimedia, and various other mediums, on a newsfeed. Instagram is strictly pictures or videos, and Twitter is 140 character posts and pictures. Tumblr is all media you need concentrated into one area.

Tumblr began utilizing their unique multimedia abilities when native, sponsored posts were created in Spring 2013. Since then, they have been revolutionizing the way companies are promoting themselves and engaging with consumers. An example of the paid advertisers Tumblr has is the telecommunication company, AT&T.

AT&T is currently on a journey to look at the way humans are evolving and connecting through mobile devices, which they call, The Mobile Movement. Anyone can track their journey on AT&T’s Tumblr. Students, artists, innovators and every day people can share their stories about their networked life through customer created GIFs, making it personal and relatable. AT&T is connecting with their customers in a way that no one else is.

Even their sponsored post is simple, a text bubble that reads “when you know what you want call me.” AT&T is bringing life to their brand by using reblogs, GIFs and memes to connect with their customers personal loves and experiences. That is the most significant difference between Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. Tumblr has the ability to bring people together through experiences and human insights.

Those in the PR field should begin prioritizing Tumblr as a primary social media platform, maybe even more than Twitter and Instagram. Tumblr is quickly increasing the number of companies they are sponsoring, as they continue to revolutionize the way companies engage with young consumers. When it comes to targeting young consumers, Tumblr proves that simple multimedia posts are most appealing.

Another Reason to Admire Chipotle

December 29, 2014

 

By: Morgan Borer, @MorganBorer

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It’s 5 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon in Athens, Ohio. Court Street is chilly and barren. Some late-night partiers are are sulking in bed, while others have half-heartedly forced themselves up to finish homework at the library. In the midst of studying, they scroll through their Twitter feeds, extending the routine Sunday procrastination.

“Did you miss us? We’ve got burritos today.” The tweet flashes across the screen from @ChipotleTweets. Ah, yes. Mouths watering in anticipation, the students leave the library and head over to Chipotle for dinner. Unsurprisingly, they are forced to wait in a long line, but are willing to do so with the promise of a cheesy, beefy, bundle of goodness.

What makes the Mexican food chain (aside from its guacamole) so brilliant? There are many aspects from a public relations perspective. When the first restaurant opened in Denver in 1993, there was no training department or marketing team.

Now, the company is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and has its own website and blog. It also produces videos for advertisement, such as the popular short film “The Scarecrow,” in September 2013, which was a companion for its app-based game. “The Scarecrow” received a whopping 13 million views on YouTube.

Chipotle’s official Twitter account (@ChipotleTweets) has 607k followers, and Instagram (@chipotlemexicangrill) has 132k. On Twitter, the company often re-tweets their fans. For example, on December 6, they re-tweeted a picture from two customers on a blind date with the hashtag #WeLoveChipotle.

They often post humorous content and links, such as “The trick to burrito eating,” found on their blog, blog.chipotle.com. They also make a point to reply to customers who have tweeted at them (both positive and negative anecdotes). This proves that the company is highly interactive and values customer feedback and opinion.

On Halloween, the company hosted a social media contest called “Borrito Costume Contest.” Participants were instructed to take a photo of themselves in costume at Chipotle and upload it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ChipotleBurritoContest. Winners in each of the three categories—Most Creative, Best Group, and Scariest—were awarded a $2,500 grand prize. And everyone knows about their signature Halloween special, customers who come into the restaurant dressed in costume on Halloween get a burrito for $3!

The brand has also partnered with major retailers to gain exposure, including Target. This September, Chipotle announced “The Great Dorm Giveaway,” where students could text DORM3 to a number for a chance to win a Chipotle catering party for 100 and a $1000 Target gift card.

What really separates Chipotle’s marketing strategies from other restaurants and competitors, however, is its guarantee to provide “food with integrity.” According to the company’s website, “Food with integrity is our commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.” The company inserts the terms “natural,” sustainable,” “organic,” and “locally produced” into much of its literature.

While there is some debate over the company’s agricultural methods, shown in this New Yorker article, http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/what-does-the-scarecrow-tell-us-about-chipotle, consumers tend to associate natural, safe and high-quality ingredients with Chipotle. They feel like they are doing some good for the environment when they choose to eat at Chipotle, rather than McDonalds, where a single hamburger contains over 60 different ingredients.

Finally, the company’s website is extremely transparent. The website provides a wealth of information about the treatment of their animals, specifically the pork, beef, dairy cattle and chicken. They also offer an explanation of what the words “organic” and “local” mean to them.

There is even an easy-to-use Nutrition Calculator, where users can select the exact ingredients of their meal and calculate the calories, fat, sodium, etc. Think twice before you add chips and salsa to that bowl—it’s an extra 590 calories.

Four Easy Tricks to Up Your Insta-Game

December 24, 2014

By: Alicia Collins, @aliciacollins_

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In today’s society, the amount of Instagram followers a person has relates directly to the value of that person. This may be an exaggeration. In the public relations field, the number of Instagram followers your account holds will not hinder your success. That’s because the average Instagram user spends upwards of 275 minutes a month consuming the popular social media site’s content.

If you’re like me, however, you could spend 275 minutes scrolling through your feed in just mere days. For us ‘insta-addicts’ and wannabe publicists, increasing our follower count can be a daunting and timely task, especially when you’re not a Kardashian, (or Jenner), with millions of followers. To assist those looking to increase their following, here are a few tips and tricks compiled from expert Instagrammers and a recent study.

1. Expert Instagrammers agree, aesthetics matter.

Amy Stone (@amy_stone), global community manager of Gap clothing stores, with over 116K followers, told Marie Claire Online that color palette, subject matter, and mood all contribute to making your feed appear more cohesive. She is attracted to cooler hues in her posts, making her individual photos stick out while also making her feed as a whole encouraging you to press follow.

2. Contrary to popular belief, the time of day you post a photo does not matter.

According to a study released by Piquora, a social media analytics tracking company, the time of day does not necessarily impact the amount of likes or comments one receives on a photo, however, the day of the week does. The study found Thursday as the most popular day to post and Sunday as the most effective. Interactions on photos were found to be the great on Sunday.

3. Use hashtags.

Some may presume the usage of multiple hashtags on one photo to be a bit much, but researchers disagree, finding surprising results. According to Piquora’s study, larger Instagram accounts, with over 1,000 followers, receive an average of 21.21 interactions per photo. On the other hand, Instagrammers with less than 1,000 followers that post a photo with eleven hashtags received an average of 77.66 interactions.

4. When choosing a filter, choose Mayfair.

The most popular Instagram hashtag and filter is undoubtedly “#nofilter.” Research showed that going without a filter may not be the best choice. Filters are not only my personal favorite attribute of one of the most popular social media apps, but they are what make Instagram unique. On average photos using the Mayfair filter receive 23.044 interactions, while photos without a filter only receive roughly 18 interactions.

Why Cards Against Humanity’s PR Stunt was Actually a Great Idea

December 23, 2014

By: Rachel Hartwick, @rachel_hartwick

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A few weeks ago, 30,000 people received a box of poop in the mail. Prank? Sick joke? Nah, customers paid for this special, little holiday present themselves.

“Cards Against Humanity,” a card game played with the same general rules as “Apples to Apples,” but a lot less family appropriate, fought against the rising phenomenon of Black Friday. Instead of discounting the popular game like most businesses do with their products, the company offered an awesome alternative—actual, literal, bull poop. It sold out in less than two hours.

Upon first hearing about the company’s stunt, I was appalled by this idea. As a Black Friday frequenter in recent years, I didn’t really understand why Black Friday was such a problem. So what if there are sales the day after Thanksgiving? The day gives us something fun to do with our family and friends who are in town, and saves us a lot of money if we want to get our Christmas shopping done early.

After some thought, I realized how flawed this idea is. The co-creator of “Cards Against Humanity,” who noted that they all “really hate Black Friday,” told “TIME,” “Black Friday comes after this day where you’re supposed to be thankful for what you have, and then it’s just this whole huge media spectacle of people fighting each other to save 50 dollars on a TV.”

Although I probably wouldn’t have purchased the bull**** myself, (what in the world would I do with it?) I stand behind the company’s ideas.

Last year, they ironically sold their card game for five dollars more than their normal price on Black Friday—a good idea too, but this year, “Cards Against Humanity” really made their point clear. The company made 20 cents off each six dollar box of dried poop, which was then donated to a charity to provide for people in poverty, so perhaps these people have a little money to spend on holiday gifts for their loved ones.

“Cards Against Humanity,” kudos to you. I can’t genuinely promise that I’m never going to order something online, or go out shopping on Black Friday, for the rest of my life, but you’ve definitely made me reconsider how material-driven Black Friday has made our society become—it’s some bull***.

Happy Holidays!

December 17, 2014

By: Rosie Haren, @rosieharen

Do you ever worry about being fully inclusive to all cultures during the holiday season? It’s a constant worry for most professionals. Businesses and restaurants have the difficult task of spreading holiday cheer, while being inclusive to all cultures and traditions. But, how do they do that?

One option businesses use is to avoid directly advertising with Christmas representations in their ads, but using themes that remind people of winter. An example of this would be using music lyrics.

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The amount of Christmas ads seen, versus ads you see of other cultures, like the Jewish culture, are greatly higher. There are few ads that promote traditions besides Christmas, but if stores work harder at promoting other cultures, they could benefit themselves by attracting more people, a diverse group of people and educate others on different traditions.

Television shows have done a good job at creating a variety of episodes directed towards other groups. One of these shows is “Rugrats,” having an entire episode devoted to Kwanzaa.

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This is beneficial because there are many different types of people that do not know much about traditions beyond Christmas. This is an opportunity that gives people a chance to learn about other cultures, and at the same time, attract people of other cultures to start watching the show.

Is it possible that people of cultures that don’t celebrate Christmas get offended by how much celebration of Christmas there is, and not about other traditions? Avital Field, a sophomore at Ohio University and of Jewish descent, says that sometimes she and her family feel frustrated because the use Christmas is everywhere. Field also says that Christmas music gets stuck in her head more then Chanukah music.

When it comes to the holiday season it’s usually a descent idea to tell people, “Happy Holidays,” because you never know who celebrates what and that phrase covers them all! This action is one that marketers and advertisers should adopt, to help be culturally inclusive.

Advertising uses “fem-vertising” to promote brands and break stereotypes

December 16, 2014

By: Kate Schroeder, @kschroeds7

There is a new trend in advertising. A trend all the Olivia Popes in the world would be proud of. The trend is called fem-vertising; pro-female messaging within advertising. Advertising is breaking away from its traditional mold of how it portrays women in the media, and is leaning toward advertising that can empower women while also selling products.

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It’s no secret. Countless advertisements show women as sexual, weak or unobtainable objects. These messages are everywhere, and it has become the standard for advertising. Watch any Hardy’s advertisement. We all know the average woman does not have a six inch neck, a 24 inch waist and jawlines so sharp they could cut diamonds. But still, it’s the expectation.

According to a feature done by NBC nightly news in December 2014, Fem-vertising shows women as strong, courageous and real. Support behind this movement from women everywhere is mounting. Some brands that have embraced this method are Under Armor, Nike, Always and Degree.

The first brand, however, to dive into fem-vertising was Dove. Their Real Beauty campaign, launched in 2005, shocked the world when a billboard went up showing six women un-touched by photoshop in their underwear. They went on to create video campaigns like Dove Real Beauty Sketches and Dove: Selfie.

The purpose of these messages aren’t just to sell the brands product. They send a bigger message, by showing how the brand understands and supports the consumer. This technique helps the consumer develop trust with the brand and increases the consumers lifetime value to the company.

As an aspiring strategic communications professional, it is important to consider the social repercussions of adhering to traditional stereotypes when marketing a product to the target market. Although there will always be advertising that uses female stereotypes to market products, there is the option to make a positive impact. We don’t have to contribute to stereotypes.

The Three Best Christmas Advertisements of All Time

December 10, 2014

By: Elizabeth Papas, @elizabethpapas_

It is no mystery that companies and consumers alike live for creative advertisements during the holiday season. I mean, what better way to address a target audience than with a special appearance from old St. Nick? With the use of marketing tools and strategic communication plans, these three Christmas advertisements go down in history as the best and most memorable of all time.

1. Coca-Cola’s Holidays are Coming

Coke loves Christmas. In the 1920s, Coca-Cola was one of the first companies to feature the character of Santa Clause in its holiday advertising. The company has continued the implementation of this Christmas icon for many years, and has added many facets to its holiday campaign along the way. This has ultimately created a lasting memory of the connection between Coca-Cola and Christmas. In this advertisement, the Coca-Cola delivery truck comes to town, and with its passing, illuminates lights and trees, signifying the holidays are here.

2. M&Ms, They Do Exist

Originally released in 1996, this advertisement shows Santa Clause delivering presents on Christmas Eve to the home of the red and yellow M&Ms. The famous ‘90s advertisement was recreated in 2009 with little modification to the original. The reason for this recreation was a discovery by the company’s brand managers that the “Fainting Santa” was a consumer-favorite among M&M commercials.

3. WestJet Christmas Miracle

This successful advertisement from the popular Canadian airline WestJet shows how the company turned a chaotic time of travel into an uplifting Christmas surprise for many of its customers. The video was posted on YouTube in December of 2013, and within weeks was among the top viewed videos in Canada. With the work of a successful strategic communication plan, the company was able to increase their sales and spread holiday cheer with their heartwarming “Christmas Miracle”.

Now that you have seen the classics, be sure to look out for which companies are utilizing the tool of the advertisement this holiday season.

Celebrity Scandals are Becoming too Much to Handle

December 9, 2014

By: Annie Beard, @annie_beard

The days of endorsers standing by their celebrity through think and thin, scandal or no scandal, are no longer happening. Companies are now dropping celebrity endorsement deals quicker than ever. We have seen it everywhere, from Ray Rice, to Adrian Peterson to Bill Cosby, to name a few recent examples. An article from the “New York Times” says it best: “There is no “till death do us part” in marriages by endorsement, only “till you doth embarrass us.””

In 2009, when Tiger Woods was facing, and admitting to, claims of infidelity, Nike stood by Woods and even featured him in a TV commercial about the scandal, highlighting Wood’s remorse, which you can watch here:

In 2014, only five years later, Nike was quick to drop Rice and Peterson. They were both dropped shortly after allegations were made. This seems to be the best and most effective PR move these days in order to save a company’s reputation. When it comes to cutting the cord, “Just Do It” is the best advice.

Bill Cosby’s celebrity scandal is recent and still ongoing. In case you are unaware, a dozen women have accused Cosby of drugging them and taking advantage of them sexually. Cosby has already lost projects. TV Land is pulling reruns of The Cosby Show, NBC is dropping its deal with Cosby to do a sitcom and Netflix cancelled a special on Cosby that was supposed to air on November 28.

So, why do we think this is becoming the best way to deal with scandals? Why are companies becoming less tolerable in situations like these? One reason, and probably the biggest reason, is because everything goes viral. In today’s world, if a celebrity does something we consider immoral, it will be on millions of phone and computer screens within hours. When bad press is surrounding a celebrity, it is normal for brands to want to get as far away as possible, but it is happening faster, and more often, than ever.

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