Sunday, March 9, 2008

Is there such thing as a business-casual email?

In a world that is becoming more casual, how far can you get without being considered unprofessional? Emails are taking over as a strong form of communication in the business world, instead of traditional letters, a past form of communication favored by businesses. However, many in the business world are viewing emails as a casual way to communicate, eliminating formality. Just because you are allowed to wear jeans to work, doesn’t mean you can forget to end sentences with a period, or use the phrase “LOL” in a business related email.

In the defense of myself (and I’m sure others in the business world), we have never been taught how to write a formal email. I remember numerous lessons on writing business letters in the course of my schooling, but often times the format can’t be applied to emails.

Brian Zafron at Freelance Switch has posted ways to strengthen the way you write an email. Highlighted are ways to draw the reader’s attention to the email and quickly engage them so they don’t skip over the email. Zafron goes over ways to improve content, style, form and technique to strengthen your emails.

Considering I am not yet involved in the business world, I found this post to be extremely helpful in preparing myself for future job endeavors. It is important to realize that although you may be allowed to wear jeans or flip-flops to work, you need to remember that you are in a professional setting.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"They're Grrrrrreat!"

In my days of watching cartoons and kid’s channels such as Nickelodeon, I remember a large presence of commercials with Tony the Tiger and the Kool-aid man. Commercials didn’t only serve as advertisements to hypnotize young minds into asking parents to buy the sugar-filled powdered drinks, but they were also a part of pop culture. I remember kids in elementary school dressing as the Kool-aid man or the Hamburgler for Halloween.

As obesity among children becomes a larger issue in America, the government is in talks of cracking down on un-healthy food advertised on children’s networks. A post on Advertising Age dispelled the rumor that networks are being hurt by the decision to eliminate unhealthy food advertisements.

According to the article, companies are in the midst of changing ingredients in their brands to be relevant with last year’s new guidelines. Kellogg for example has decided not to advertise any product that has more than 200 calories per serving and has introduced new products such as Pop-Tarts made with whole grains and less sugar.

Will this new wave of advertising help with childhood obesity? Maybe. Changing advertisements is not going to cut down on the amount of TV children watch, which can lead to obesity. Also, children are not the ones that do the grocery shopping. Children can beg their parents as much as they like to buy them sugary treats, but parents are the ones who have the ultimate say in what they feed and buy their children. If we want to start improving the health of our children we should do it with exercise and proper nutrition, cartoon advertisements are not to blame in childhood obesity.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Does having Oprah on your side make you destined for success?

Oprah has a tremendous power of influence. She can turn unknown books into national best sellers, convince viewers that a $100 pair of jeans are an absolute necessity, but does she have the power to convince the nation who to vote for as our next president?

Laura Ries recently posted an entry on her blog entitled “The Oprah Factor” where she discusses the potential success an Oprah endorsement can have on Barack Obama.

Ries mentions that the fact that Oprah didn’t create Obama, but is helping can attribute to a possible success. She says the mere fact that Oprah is not overshadowing Obama by overly campaigning for him may make Obama a success because Oprah has turned him into a celebrity.

People trust Oprah’s opinion and not only are she generating publicity for the person she is endorsing, but she is also generating more publicity for herself, further promoting her name. With so much power and publicity, Oprah is able to transform anyone into a success. Her new reality show “Oprah’s Big Give” supplies average people with the means to help those in need. While any average person can help someone in need, Oprah provides contestants with the money and resources to do so, making them extremely successful in their mission.

Oprah is slowly becoming the backbone of America as she uses her power to help other succeed. She turned Dr. Phil from a special guest on her show to a regular household name and her power has the success to make a name out of anyone. Who knows, maybe Oprah will read my blog and turn me into the next Perez Hilton.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Podcasting is “out”?

In reading my recent issue of People Style Watch, I came across an article titled “What’s IN What’s OUT” and was rather surprised to see that podcasting is what People considers to be “out”.

Granted this is a list that is telling me that bulldogs are the new designer dog and I need to loose all food-scented candles in my house because those are no longer “in” (were they ever “in”?), I was surprised to see that People mentioned podcasting as no longer being a trend. Was it ever considered a trend?

The blurb written about podcasting explains that podcasting will not be around much longer because users prefer video to podcasts.

I disagree with the argument. While watching a video may be more entertaining than simply listening to someone speak, video requires absolute concentration, which does not allow the user to perform multiple tasks at once. The beauty of a podcast is that the listener is able to listen to the podcast while driving a car or cooking dinner. The versatility of a podcast outweighs those of a video. Maybe People Style Watch should stick to fashion and leave social media to someone else.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Writing triumphs social media!

Over the course of this term, social media has been a heavy emphasis in my PR class. I consider myself “technologically challenged” and while I have enough computer skills to get by in life, I am still struggling with the technological aspect of social media.

A recent blog post by David Reich made me feel better about my social media skills (or lack there of). The post primarily offers Reich’s opinion on what makes someone a good job candidate. He says that it is good if a candidate has some social media knowledge, he gives more weight to other skills and experience.

I found reassurance in Reich’s post, knowing that while I may struggle with the technology involved with social media, there is still hope for me to succeed in the PR field. My first three years in college were heavily focused on journalistic writing, which I thought was not going to be applicable to the PR field. Having been through a few PR courses and seeing how writing plays a large role in PR, it is my hope that my writing skills will hopefully outweigh my technological skills.

Social media is something that can be taught. You can teach someone social media tactics and how to become involved in it, but writing is a skill you either have or don’t have. Even if down the line I choose to not go into PR, writing is a skill that can be applied to most other professions. So while I may not be able to figure out technology, I am glad to know that writing triumphs social media!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I don't think I'll be moving to Detroit anytime soon...

While checking my email this morning, I came across a link on the side of the page titled “America’s most miserable cities”. Looking out my window at the grey sky and raindrops falling, I clicked the link hoping that a city in Oregon or the Northwest would be mentioned on the list to reassure myself that rain does in fact make people unhappy.

The list results shocked me. How is Detroit, Mich. the most miserable city in America?

Does this sound appealing to you? High rates of violent crime, unemployment and income taxes, long commutes, bad weather and pollution is the description the Forbes article uses to describe Detroit.

How can a city that has spawned greats such as Madonna, Eminem and Ford Motor Company be full of people that are so miserable? According to the article, the “misery” of a city is calculated from unemployment, personal tax rates, commute times, weather, crime and toxic waste dumps. Using this calculation, Stockton, Calif., Flint, Mich. And New York were runner-ups.

I can’t help but think of the negative PR implications for Detroit and the other cities on the list. Are people going to want to visit a city that is home to the most miserable people in the country? Is this list going to want to make current residents move to a new city?

At the end of the article, there is a list of links to other lists Forbes has compiled including: “The most 20 earthquake-vulnerable cities” and “The world’s densest cities”. Is Forbes trying to discourage people from traveling or relocating? I see how these lists can be helpful to people looking into relocating, but as summer begins to approach, I can’t help but think what these lists do to tourism in the cities mentioned.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Does representing a "low life" make you one too?

There’s a popular saying that says “you are what you eat,” but is there one that says “you are who you associate with?” A recent blog post written on “TheFlack” has left me wondering if that saying doesn’t exist, can it now?

The post talks about how a Hollywood publicist resigned from his duties of representing Kevin Federline and his lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan because he could no longer deal with the circus of a custody battle Federline was fighting in. This publicist then went and took on Osama Lutfi as a client.

If he didn’t want to be involved in a circus, why would he take on Lutfi, who is involved in an even bigger circus?

By only taking on “low lives” as clients, this publicist is making himself out to be a “low life” as well. Would any respectable person who is looking into hiring a new publicist want to hire someone who has been involved in some of the most ridiculous scandals of the past decade?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Social Networking Works!

This past weekend my friend Jeremy launched a new website. While I am partially writing this to give him it a plug, I am also writing this because he utilized social networking to help promote the site, which is ironically what I have been learning about in my PR class this past week.

Jeremy used Facebook to tell his friends about the launch of his site. The night the site launched, Jeremy posted a link on everyone’s Facebook wall to let them know about it and to encourage them to visit it. The beauty of using Facebook is everyone looks at each other’s walls. After Jeremy posted the link on my wall, I had friends who don’t know Jeremy visiting his site because they saw the link he posted on my wall. While it’s a bit creepy that my friends read my wall that religiously, I have to admit that it is a brilliant marketing tactic.

Facebook is slowly beginning to take over people’s lives. You can pretty much do anything on the website: play scrabble, email a friend, stalk an ex-boyfriend, look for a place to live, etc. The more applications Facebook adds, the more people are going to be dependent on it. With such a large and diverse group of users on one website, Jeremy was able to branch out to new groups and attract them to his site. Facebook can pretty much do anything (with the exception of cooking dinner or cleaning my house) and as it continues to take over both lives and the internet, it will continue to be a powerful marketing tool.

Don’t forget to check out Jeremy’s website!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sometimes it might be better to say "no comment"

In reading “Why your clients need media training”, I was not only entertained by the fact that the marketing guy told the interviewer that her question was stupid, but by the fact that he actually thought that was an acceptable answer. Growing up, my parents (and I’m sure most other parents) taught their children that it isn’t nice to call someone stupid. So why would a grown man in the business world think that is acceptable?

As the person in charge of marketing a product, I would think they would know every aspect of the product because it is their job to help sell it. I would also hope that as the marketing person would treat media with respect because they are prime part in the promotion of the product.

The media has the ability to make or break this product, and the company is lucky that the interviewer was nice enough to not publish the company name. He probably would have been better off saying “no comment” even though that didn’t pertain to the question. It would have made him sound more professional than saying “stupid”.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Is bad publicity good publicity?

This week, a Nevada high school student announced in a press conference that he will attend the University of California over the University of Oregon next fall to play football. His decision has since sparked controversy as it turned out neither California nor the University of Oregon were recruiting him.

This story has sparked negative publicity for the student, his high school and his home town. Does the saying “any publicity is good publicity” work with this story?

I think it does. The student was probably somewhat of a good football player for media to even come out and cover his announcement. While right now the hopes of him being recruited by a school to play football aren’t too great, maybe one day someone will recognize his name as being a rising football star.

I may be optimistic about the future of this football player, but everyone loves a good scandal. This past summer the San Francisco Giants were not the strongest of baseball teams, yet their games were packed because people wanted to see Barry Bonds hit his record breaking homerun. While this was going on Barry Bonds was in the middle of a steroid scandal, yet he had more people than ever rooting for him. Who knows, maybe this student will become the next big NFL star.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Remember the sleaze?

Writer Peter Hartlaub recently compiled a list of what he considers to be the top 10 sleaziest super bowl commercials created . Sleazy indeed, some of these commercials made viewers slightly uncomfortable, but left them with an urge to go to the store and buy the product advertised.

I’ll admit that I will remember a commercial because of its “gross” factor (something that makes you quickly advert your eyes while shouting “eww!”). The “gross” factor is disturbing at the time, but is a quick way for a product to spread its name.

The beauty of the “gross” factor is that it leaves you wanting to discuss it. After witnessing such a horrific event, you want nothing more than to call your friend, who hopefully saw the commercial as well, or to stand around the water cooler at work and talk about how disturbing it was.

Sleazy commercials stick in the heads of viewers just like a commercial with a jingle… only sleazy commercials don’t leave viewers doing everything they can to get that song out of their head.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is Britney Spears filming a secret reality show?

As a celebrity gossip enthusiast, I take pride in knowing the latest happenings of celebrities (that and it helps me win in Trivial Pursuit… seriously, challenge me). With that being said, you would think I would be up to date on the happenings of Ms. Britney Spears, but it is near impossible to keep up!

If you manage to step away from your computer for a few hours, you are already behind on what is going on in the life of Britney, so I performed a test. In the past 2 days I haven’t read any Britney updates (partially because of this experiment and partially because I’m sick of hearing about her). Today I jumped back into reading Britney Spears’ news and it was like beginning to watch a TV show midway through the series.

There was a new character (who is Osama?), a new location (she is in the hospital again?), and the return of a supporting character (her mom). It seems every week a character is voted off (boyfriends, children, lawyers, etc.) and pretty soon she is going to be the last one standing, making her life appear to be a horrible reality show.

If she isn’t secretly filming a reality show, I certainly hope her outrageous behavior is happening to promote a new album (or even a perfume). Through her “craziness”, Britney has created a new form of PR. Forget promotional events or social networking, acting crazy seems to be a new promotional tactic.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I can't believe I'm writing a blog

I'll admit it, I'm a blogaholic. Maybe I should elaborate. I like reading blogs, but writing a blog is a new and scary task for me. If I wasn't asked to create a blog for my PR class, it is something I probably wouldn't have done because quite frankly, posting things on the internet makes me nervous. Considering I am taking the class to learn about PR, this will help give me experience and insight into the world of PR. Wish me luck!