R.I.P. The Newspaper: 2017

Australian futurist Ross Dawson has determined the death of the newspaper on a global scale (Blog Post). He predicts that newspapers will be dead in the US by 2017 and by 2019 for the UK. Dawson’s predictions are based on the rise of technology, including  the availability of mobile phones, tablet computers and e-readers. He used infographics to illustrate the demise of newspapers with color-coded  maps.

I’m not sure that I agree with Dawson. Personally, I like having a hard copy, something tangible that I can hold in my hand. Everyone is different; Some people like technology and others don’t. I was unable to find Dawson’s research or any statistics that he based his hypothesis on. This makes it even less believable. Do I think they will diminish by 2017, sure. But will they completely disappear, I doubt it. I guess we’ll have to wait until 2017 to find out.

Overweight? We’ve got the Perfect Social Media Campaign for you!

According to an article published by The New York Times, an organization known as the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation has teamed up with the ad firm Saatchi and Saatchi to create a social media campaign “to help reduce obesity-especially childhood obesity- by 2015,”(HWCF site). More than 120 companies, including Coca-Cola, General Mills and ConAgra, have joined the initiative. The organization, using the term “energy balance,” aims to encourage children, adults and families to create a balance between the calories they take in and the energy they use. The campaign, which has yet to begin, is already under much scrutiny by critics of corporate food marketers. They question whether companies that, as they perceive it, have contributed so much to Americans’ becoming obese are capable of providing solutions.

PGA of America - Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation's 100th Member!

This campaign is something that I neither love or hate. It has yet to begin, so it’s difficult for me to really analyze it. Do I think it’s a bad concept? Not at all. It appears that the organization is concerned for the well-being of Americans and desires to improve the obesity rate. Whether each company’s motives are pure is a different story. Either way, it can’t hurt. As far as whether or not the companies involved are to blame for America’s weight problem, yes and no. Although they may produce unhealthy products, each person chooses what he or she puts into their mouth. Could what they put into their foods be better for consumers, sure. Could consumer food choices be healthier, of course.

ROR: Return on Relationship

A WordPress blogger, who happens to be Chief Social Marketing Officer for OpenSky, recently wrote about a term he coined “ROR,” Return on Relationship (View blog). Ted Rubin took the classic marketing term, “ROI”, Return on Investment, and raised it to the next level. In his blog, he argues that in order to generate ROIs, a company has to develop RORs. How? Through the use of social media/marketing. Rubin said, “Everyone is trying to assign a dollar value to a Facebook fan or Twitter follower instead of addressing the fact that the engagement and interaction that takes place in these mediums are incredibly important to a brand. Building a relationship with existing and future customers is the true value and strength of social media/marketing and what will and has allowed brands to survive and flourish for the long-term.” I admire how he boldly advocates the PR/marketing role/relationship in generating sales and creating long-term customer relationships. I couldn’t agree more!

Ted Rubin

TOW #6- Newsworthiness

There are several components that can create a newsworthy story. They include timeliness, prominence, proximity, significance, unusualness, conflict, newness, and human interest (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques). Timeliness is considered one of the most important characteristics of news. By definition, news must be current. One can make a story timely by announcing something when it happens, providing information or story ideas related to current news stories, relate products or services to an event that has national recognition and interest, and by offering information linked to events and holidays that are already on the public agenda. A prominent story is one that uses a celebrity’s star power to gain attention. Proximity is a concept that uses a local angle to appeal to hometown papers and broadcast stations. Significance includes situations or events that can affect a substantial number of people, such as global warming. Unusualness includes anything out of the ordinary, like an 80-foot birthday cake. Conflict in the news occurs when two or more groups advocate different views on a topic of interest in a story. A human interest story discusses the lives and experiences of individuals and is successful because people like to read about other people. Something that’s new, or newness, is generally a hot topic that generates stories (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques). Each of these components can create a newsworthy story.

Oh No Chad Ochocinco!

While browsing through an old PR Daily News Feed, I discovered an interesting article (click here). Chad Ochocinco, player for the Bengals, found himself in the middle of a misprint conundrum. In an effort to raise funds for Feed the Children, Ochocinco joined forces with the organization to develop a cereal, which they named Ochocinco. The cereal packaging encourages consumers to call a 1-800 number to donate money to the organization. This number, however, has nothing to do with Feed the Children. Instead, it’s an explicit sex line which connects callers to a seductive-sounding woman’s voice and music. She teases in shocking detail and then asks for a debit or credit card number: “You must be 18 or older to get into this party, baby!” After discovering this huge blunder, Kroger stores, the grocer which features the cereal, pulled the product from its shelves immediately. Needless to say, neither Ochocinco or Feed the Children were aware that the number was printed incorrectly. However, both parties responded well to the instance, claiming full responsibility for the misprint and offering apologies. This is a great example of a well-managed PR crisis.

TOW #8: The Lead Lab

I actually enjoyed the NewsU Lead Lab course! It presented all the necessary information needed to write an effective lead in an interactive yet straightforward manner. The concept of a virtual science lab is a neat idea, as lecture style learning methods have gotten old over the years.

I’m not sure that I learned any new information. However, the course did reinforce the five W’s, H, and SW of lead writing. These are seven questions that a writer should ask when crafting a lead. They include who, what, when, where, why, how, and so what? An effective lead answers all or most of these questions, and prompts interest in the reader.

I was surprised to find that someone had actually developed a way to present lead writing in an interesting way. Honestly, learning about leads in my journalism courses bored me. Like most things, it’s a necessary skill in journalism and public relations that you have to practice in order to learn. However, the NewsU course created an interactive way for the user to break down the components of different leads before ever writing one. In essence, this allows you to test the water before jumping in.

The best part of the course is the ability to work at your own pace. In my experience, students are rarely able to learn or work at their own pace. This is an aspect of education that has always bothered me. Obviously, students shouldn’t be able to do things whenever they feel like it, but more attention should be focused on individual needs and learning styles. Ultimately, I think this would make for a better learning experience for students.

Considering that this is the third time I’ve gone over leads in college, I think I’ve learned as much as I can in the information department. On the other hand, the application of my lead knowledge is a different story. I’ve written numerous leads in my classes, but I need a lot more practice. Considering my major, however, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future.

TOW #7: One Week of Twitter

I thoroughly enjoyed my one week of Twitter assignment. A friend convinced me to get a Twitter account last summer, so it was probably easier for me to do the assignment than others. However, it was challenging for me to create 20 tweets and respond to five of my classmates, as I mostly follow others rather than tweet. Visit my feed here!

There are several aspects of Twitter that I like. First, following celebrities is a neat experience. As people, we idolize individuals who possess unique talents, beauty, and fortune. Because of  the media and its gatekeepers, though, we often are unable to see celebrities as people. They eat, drink, sleep, and breathe just like everyone else. I think that many of us forget that. With Twitter, you are able to see what celebrities are thinking and doing. You have the opportunity to see who they are as people, rather than the commercialized versions we are fed via the media.

Second, I love quotes! I follow about five people/organizations that tweet inspirational and motivational quotes. I feed off of the wise words and encouragement of others. I think that when you’re not pursuing what you love and striving for personal growth, you’re wasting valuable time. The pictures below are of a few of the quote-tweeters I follow.

Great Minds Quotes  i heart quotes    Inspirational Quotes    Motivational Quotes

Third, I get the latest news via CNN and Breaking News on Twitter. I don’t have to turn on the television or log onto a website. I receive Twitter updates via my smart phone. This generally enables me to know the latest and greatest news before newspapers and news channels are even talking about it.

Next, receiving PR tips, advice, and updates is a useful aspect of Twitter. Prior to this assignment, I did not follow any practitioners or experts. I found that many of them offered insight into the field, which is something I did not expected to gain.

Lastly, I enjoy interacting with others on Twitter. It’s cool to see what others are doing, thinking, and sharing. Being able to respond to someone’s tweets enhances the experience. Twitter is similar to blogging in the respect that if no is reading your tweets/posts, your tweets/posts are pointless. When others comment on your tweets, it illustrates that others are interested in and relate to what you have to say.

Overall, I think Twitter is a form of social media that will continue to grow and flourish not only as a personal tool, but as a public relations tool also.