Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

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Fifty Shades of Hyped

February 11, 2015

By: Cameron Quinn

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I remember seeing “Fifty Shades of Grey” everywhere around my high school. My very opinionated senior-year journalism teacher expressed her thoughts on how ridiculous a book, which is practically an erotic novel, was. I told myself I would never succumb to the trend of reading such an explicit book.

This was two years ago, and here we are, with a countdown to the movie premiere. Unfortunately, I am also guilty of waiting in anticipation. After hearing snippets of the soundtrack (who doesn’t enjoy Beyoncé’s voice) and seeing my social media boom with sneak peaks and crazy girls talking about the one and only Christian Grey, I finally gave in. I was curious how something could bring so much hype for such an extended period of time. After reading the book, I am more than excited to see the premiere and drag my date along with me on Valentines Day.

I have to admit, reading something so explicit made me very uncomfortable at times. I realized it’s just one of those books you have to keep reading. After experiencing how successful it was, I’m fully looking forward to see this movie.

As if I wasn’t interested enough, I’ve found myself getting caught in the media trap of short sneak peaks with trailers and sitcoms on TV. One that stood out to me was a two-minute ad that Trojan made. It was a comical reenactment of “Fifty Shades of Grey” from the eyes of a reader. The star is your average woman looking for her Christian Grey in her own relationship. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d highly suggest searching on YouTube “Trojan – 50 Shades of Pleasure”.

The media push trends onto society so much that it is difficult not to give in to the trends. The target audience, however, is no different than the audience for a Nicholas Sparks book. Females love reading about love, but who knew so many would love reading about love making. For all of my friends it was the same story—their mom read it and then they read it. The book targeted just about every woman there is, and I am sure the movie will bring in an endless crowd. Fingers crossed that it reaches all of the expectations the talented E L James has created for us hopeless, romantic women.

PR Skills Make Everything Easier, Even Sorority Recruitment

February 10, 2015

By: Corina Rolko, @CRolko

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Working long hours and balancing multiple projects at the same time are just two of the obstacles one will face as a professional in the public relations industry.  In fact, any student who is studying public relations, and staying involved in related organizations on campus, can already attest to that.  Although it can be overwhelming at times, the skills and lessons you learn as a PR student or professional will benefit you outside of a professional or academic setting.

Anyone who has participated in the sorority recruitment process, on either side, knows how overwhelming it can be.  The days are long and the heels on your feet are far from comfortable. However, as a junior studying public relations and advertising at Ohio University, the professional skills I gained have enhanced my life on a daily basis, but especially during sorority recruitment season.

Here are just a few examples of PR lessons or skills I’ve learned, which have gotten me through two years of formal recruitment with a smile on my face.

Time and task management skills.  At Ohio University, formal recruitment takes place within six short days. During these six days, recruitment starts early in the day and ends late. As a result of learning how to balance multiple clients and prioritize different tasks, I have learned to prepared to stay on top of school work, and still manage to get a good night’s rest during recruitment.

Communication skills.  Communication skills are necessary to be successful in most professions, but it’s central in the public relations industry.  PR professionals are constantly communicating with clients and their colleagues.  Therefore, holding a comfortable conversation with a stranger during recruitment is a simple task.

Working with others.  Cooperativeness is a personality trait found within many PR experts because in this profession you are typically expected to work both individually and on a team.  When striving to do the best work, or recruit the best new members, both require the ability to work with others toward a common goal.

Living a fast paced life style.  As a public relations student or professional, one has many responsibilities each day. In addition, you are expected to be able to stay on top of a workload that is constantly changing.  As a result, PR professionals live a go, go, go lifestyle, which makes the fast-paced, chaotic days of sorority recruitment a little easier to handle.

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 1 Comment

 

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.

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.

Rugrats Kwanzaa

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.

http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/nightly-news/big-brands-using-femvertising-to-attract-female-consumers-368228931718

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.

The Difference Between Advertising and PR – A Simplified Version

July 25, 2014 1 Comment

By: Kate Schroeder @kschroeds7

PRI’ll admit it. Even as a strategic communications student, I’ve had difficulty explaining to people who ask about my major what the difference is between public relations and advertising. Going into my senior year as a strategic communications student, I have a good deal of knowledge of each industry. However, when asked this simple question I end up rambling on all the differences between PR and advertising pros,– usually leaving my non-journalist counterpart thoroughly confused and in need of an aspirin.

Looking back I wish someone had given me a simple, cut-and-dry answer to this not so simple question my freshman year at OU. I knew plenty about the world of news, but no one could seem to give me a simple answer to, “what the heck is this PR and advertising stuff I keep hearing about?”. Even though both careers are in the Scripps School of Journalism, transferring from news and information to strategic communication was like learning a new language. So for all you strategic communication newbies, let’s take it one step at a time and finally get this question straightened out!

“Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

Advertising

The main goal of advertising is to create ads and campaigns and place those in appropriate outlets to allow their message to build exposure. Advertisers want to impact as many people as many times as possible or specifically impact their target market depending on the product. Unlike public relations, advertising has complete creative control of the message it is promoting, but can be extremely expensive.

What advertising is trying to say: “Buy this product”.

Public Relations

Where advertising is paid media, public relations is earned media. A public relations specialist will take the brand and works to build the brand credibility. This is mostly done through media relations, which is working with reporters and editors to write positively about your client or brand. This can also be done through social media! Work done through public relations tends to have more credibility than advertisements, because the content was not paid for. This builds trust between your brand and the public

What public relations is trying to say: “This is important”.

What makes them similar?

The reason it is sometimes hard to explain how advertising and public relations differ is because they both share a main goal. Both help a company or product gain exposure in a positive way. Also, both avenues target a specific audience, also called a target audience with their message.

 

 

What a Service Industry Job Taught Me About PR

April 7, 2014 2 Comments

Server-Job-DescriptionLike many teenagers trying to earn a little money, I spent quite a bit of time working a service industry job. My senior year of high school, I got a job as a dining room server at a local retirement home, and I genuinely loved working there. The facility where I worked was brand new (I was hired within a month of its opening) and seemed more like a cheerful, upscale hotel than a stereotypical depressing old folks’ home. More than that, though, I enjoyed getting to know the residents and bonding with my coworkers. For a 17-year-old working her first non-babysitting job, I’d been pretty lucky.

One thing that never really entered my mind while I was working there was the fact that I was, in a way, promoting our business and selling our services. And while working at a public relations agency hardly seems comparable to serving food to old people, many of the core qualities of a great PR professional can be gained through service industry jobs, from waiting tables to working in retail. I didn’t know it at the time, but that service job was giving me some of the key skills I’ll need in my future PR career.

  • Have a positive attitude. Those who have worked service jobs have probably heard it a million times: smile and act like there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. A disgruntled server or store clerk who clearly doesn’t enjoy his or her job isn’t going to make anyone want to return to that place of business. Even if you’re having the worst day ever, don’t let it show – especially when you’re interacting with customers. Your attitude says a lot, and if you’re not enthusiastic about the company, then why should they be?
  • Stay calm and professional in a crisis. Everyone who’s worked in the service industry has had at least one (and probably more) experience with an unsatisfied customer. Even though you probably wouldn’t realize it, you’re gaining valuable crisis communications skills while dealing with customers who want their food sent back to the kitchen because it wasn’t prepared to their liking. Getting angry and overly defensive isn’t going to solve anything – instead, keep your head on straight and do what you can to fix the situation.
  • Know your product. This might seem like a no-brainer to seasoned PR professionals, but it’s absolutely important to know everything possible about what you’re promoting or selling. We had to memorize the specials for each meal as well as the soups of the day, and there was nothing more embarrassing than when a resident or guest had a question about a menu item that I couldn’t answer. If you’re working with a client or doing in-house work for a company, make sure you stay in the loop about new product and service updates so you can adjust your promotion strategy accordingly.
  • Listen to your customers. Great PR, marketing and advertising campaigns typically come as a result of tailoring the promotional approach to customers’ specific needs, rather than blindly mass-promoting something. If customers in a restaurant or store speak up with a question, problem or even a compliment, take it seriously and keep what they said in mind for the future. When residents at my workplace raved about a certain dish, we made sure to offer it more often; likewise, we did away with unpopular entrees that not as many people enjoyed. If lots of customers like or need a certain product, it makes sense to promote that, as opposed to wasting time and money promoting something that they find unappealing or useless.

While not always easy, working in the service industry is a great way to learn how to deal with people. There will be customers who seem to have no intention beyond making your life miserable, but it’s important to learn how to deal with them in a professional manner. However, there will be others who absolutely make your day and remind you why you do what you do. No two days are the same in either a service or PR setting, and you never know what you’re going to get.

Lindsey Zimmerman is a sophomore studying Strategic Communications and specializing in Spanish. You can follow her on Twitter at @lindseyzim716.

Think Big, Get Results

March 21, 2014 1 Comment

It’s hard to stand out in the competitive world of PR and advertising. Yes, there are certainly safe, go-to marketing strategies that have stood the test of time. But to get real results, you have to get a little crazy. Throw caution to the wind! Color outside the lines! Think outside the box! Whichever cliché saying you prefer, the point is that the best PR practitioners don’t rely on tradition and the molds of conventional campaigns. Here are examples (in no particular order) of some adventurous campaigns, stunts, and ads.

  1. HBO’s True Blood: Revelation marketing campaign. This marketing campaign got True Blood’s already loyal fan base even more hyped about the show. The creative geniuses behind the campaign, Campfire (check them out!), sent vials of red liquid with labels in a “dead language” to horror bloggers. They created a “vampire-only” website called BloodCopy.com. They put up fake PSAs that promoted equal rights for vampires in major cities. This campaign piqued people’s interests and was a creative way to get people interested in the show.
    ELFYOSELF
  2. Office Max’s Elf Yourself. THESE WILL NEVER GET OLD. I’m fairly certain everyone has uploaded pictures of themselves and their friends into this 2006 interactive E-card invention. Over half a billion shares later, it’s a beloved tradition. When these start showing up on your Facebook feed, Christmas is near! Office Max found a fun way to get their name out there – over and over and over again. Creative partners: Jason Zada, EVB, and Maccabee Group.
    TACOBELL
  3. Taco Bell’s Twitter. First of all, let’s talk about Taco Bell’s Twitter.  One word: HILARIOUS! (They have an awesome presence on Instagram as well.) They know the importance of sharing pictures and interacting with their followers. They retweet and respond to their fans – sometimes celebrities, sometimes run-of-the-mill chalupa lovers – and just seem like a cool 20-something who happens to be a Mexican fast food chain. Their strongest customer demographic, the 18-34 age group, loves the casual-cool persona that Taco Bell has created. Just ask their 1.09 million followers.
  4. Taco Bell’s Mir Space Station Promotion. Ok, so Taco Bell is kind of a 2-for-1 in this list. In March 2001, Taco Bell held a promotion to coincide with the re-entry of the Mir space station. They put a huge target in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and announced that if the target was hit by a falling piece of Mir that every person in the United States would win a free Taco Bell taco. They bought a hefty insurance policy for this stunt, but alas, no piece struck the target. The point is that they got people excited! AND a lot of media attention. Good job, Taco Bell!
  5. Athens Bicycle’s Gravel Rouser. Every year since 2004,Athens Bicycle hosts the Gravel Rouser, a four-day event of races and relays. The fun is that any one can win the 4 quirky events. It’s meant to be a light-hearted way to kick off the biking season. What started off as just an “Athens thing” now brings people to Atheathensbikens from all over Ohio. It includes a ride along a wooded path – hooked up with speakers blasting classic rock, a scavenger hunt around Athens, a donut party and a lot more. Athens Bicycle found a way to get their name and logo out there, gain some fans and increase business. By the way, it started yesterday!

These are just a few examples of businesses that weren’t afraid to get a little wild. Being bold pays off! It takes a lot of planning and creativity, but the next time you have a goal, take these businesses’ lead and think BIG (in the good way). Like Dr. Seuss said:

“why blend in when you were born to stand out?”

Elaine Carey is a junior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @snakesona_laine.

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