Month: February 2014

I made an Infographic and you can too

Finished pictochartSo my latest assignment for my J452 PR class was to create an infographic. At first my heart sank thinking of all of the hours I was about to spend on InDesign, (I love InDesign but anyone who uses it knows how time consuming it can be), until my instructor showed us pictochart.com. Oddly enough before this class I had never heard of Pictochart and had no idea that it was one long infographic cheat sheet. The site does have its limitations though. You don’t have nearly the amount of creative freedom as InDesign, or nearly enough functions in my opinion. However I liked one of the site’s templates and wanted to try my hand at creating a professional looking infographic with a website that is dedicated to helping create them.

Along with posting my first attempt at creating my own inforgraphic, here are some tips for what to include in an infographic if you are ever in a position to make one.

1. Decide what your infographic’s purpose will be. What do you want to say? What do you want people to do after looking at your infographic?

2. Only use the most important facts in your infographic. Too much text takes away from the visual aspect of your infographic. Clog it with text and no one will see the overall picture.

3. Use recognizable images in an interesting visual context to give your infographic dimension. Explaining complex information with well known images will simplify your point and make your statistics far more memorable.

While I don’t consider myself a designer I do understand the concept of making complex ideas simple and memorable through images. That is the beauty of the infographic, and when done right it will make your point that much more impactful. To get more infographic tips, check out Yeomans, how to create effective infographic. I hope this helped get some creative juices flowing!

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The Stigma Around Public Relations

640px-Social-media-for-public-relations1Recently an article in PRWeek asked, Is it time to retire the term ‘public relations?’. In my opinion I couldn’t agree more with author Jeffrey Sharlatch’s take that yes, it might be time for public relations to undergo some new branding.

As a current PR major I have heard every stigma that comes with the term. “Oh you’re studying to be a spin doctor?” Or “that seems pretty easy, do you really need a four year degree for that?” Most people are completely unaware of the true breadth of our field, or that PR is anything more than what Aaron Eckhart’s character does in Thank You for Smoking. My own father has asked me multiple times to definite my major, and often by the end of my long winded description always concludes, “so it’s something like advertising then?”

All these stereotypes are probably why most of large PR firms do not even have the words public relations in their name. Weber Shandwick, Edleman, and JeffreyGroup are just some of the many PR firms that use phrases like “communication strategy,” “public engagement,” and “dialogue” to describe the role of a PR firm.

Public relations as a field is undergoing a metamorphosis, and I would not be surprised if the term PR did as well. As firms incorporate more digital work and advertising, engage the public in a two-way conversation and use alternative media outlets it would not be surprising to see a re-branding of the field. Although unfortunately I do not see it ever becoming easier to define and explain for curious relatives.

Quora, for all of Your Burning Questions

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.18.03 PMIf you’re sick of turning to Wikipiedia and Yahoo Answers for your questions and curiosities, Quora is an interesting social media alternative. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Quora and the Search for Truth, the site had 1.15 million visitors in the month of December and is the 441st most visited site on the Internet. More than that, I’ve found the site has serious potential to further your professional online presence and it’s easier than creating a Facebook profile. Below I have listed the simple ways you can use Quora to your advantage and continue to establish a professional social media presence.

Step 1: Create a free Quora profile and select the topics you find interesting. Some of my 49 topics include writing, search engine marketing, journalism, breaking news and social media.

Step 2: Begin reading and upvoting interesting news stories and question threads in the topics of your choice. I’m relatively new to Quora but the more question threads I have begun to read and comment on the more I am learning. There are several public relations professionals that are active on Quora and who I believe have offered some insightful answers to questions I’ve read.

Step 3: Participate. If you see a question about a professional field of interest, do not hesitate to participate and add your commentary. Quora users who often post interesting questions and offer thoughful answers get the most followers. The more you participate and show a curiosity about your field and offer useful information when can, the more you will be noticed. It’s that easy.

Quora is an excellent way to showcase the knowledge you have, while learning from others along the way. And if you avoid asking questions like, “how can I get my hair to grow faster,” or “why is my dog constipated” you add yet another professional social media outlet to your online presence.

Will the TV Shopping Experience Catch on?

Everyone has probably found themselves watching the Home Shopping Network at least once. You’re sitting there in a sickly stupor while your body works to fight off the flu and you can’t sleep. It’s 1 a.m. on a Monday. You’re not so awake that you can follow a story line, and all you can manage to watch is the ladies of HSN telling you all about the phenomenal attributes of some new cubic zirconia stud earrings. For many, that’s as far as TV shopping will go, but a company called Delivery Agent is hoping to change that and their most recent push was unveiled at this years Super Bowl.

H&M recently partnered with Delivery Agent to air a commercial during the Super Bowl where you could not only see their new David Beckham Bodywear Collection, but you could actually buy it using your remote. But as a recent Fast Company article explains, only viewers with Samsung Smart TV’s that were connected to the internet would be able to take advantage of this new television shopping, or t-commerce technology. Obviously this limits the group of people who might want to buy underwear off their TV while watching the Super Bowl to a much smaller number. And while the t-commerce technology is out there and ready, sweeping changes will need to be made in order for it to be adopted on a grand scale.

For starters, consumers would need to ditch their traditional TV in favor of a smart TV that is connected to the internet. And according to a report by TV Systems Intelligence Service published in 2013, 73 percent of consumers are not interested in switching to a smart TV.

Secondly, consumers would need to be motivated to make purchases in between episodes of their favorite shows. Motivation isn’t exactly easy to track and it might take some time for Delivery Agent to connect with consumers in that way.

I know that for me personally, I would not want to buy clothing off my television. For me half the fun of shopping is actually going shopping. I like to explore and peruse and try things on with friends. I have never liked buying clothing online because it’s tough to know how it will fit, or how much the color has been changed by a screen. Then again I am one of those people who has only found themselves on HSN when there is noting else on and my cough won’t let me sleep. Considering the fact that HSN and its sister network QVC earned 3 billion and 8.5 billion in revenue in 2012, I might be in the minority. Delivery Agent and H&M have the potential to make lucrative profits off David Beckham and his underwear if they expand beyond just the Samsung Smart TV.

But enough about me, what do you think of the Super Bowl ad? Would you be interested in purchasing clothing with the click of a remote?

A Look Into my Future, or so I Hope

Photo courtesy of Mandy Shold

Photo courtesy of Mandy Shold

This past weekend was enlightening, intimidating, and exciting. I was lucky enough to join 15 other members of the University of Oregon’s Public Relations Student Society of America, (PRSSA), to tour three Seattle public relations agencies.

We spent Friday morning at Weber Shandwick, where we explored the office and learned about how the agency is tackling the changing PR landscape. I really appreciated how Weber works to be a one-stop-shop for clients, dabbling in video and advertising along with the usual planning and strategizing expected in PR. They are actively becoming a more integrated agency which gave me hope that two years of learning how to film and edit for Duck TV News wasn’t entirely useless. We then left Weber to tour Edelman.

Edelman is the best at what they do. Walking into the office and seeing awards proudly displayed next to the Edelman logo was certainly impressive. The presentation was informative and I got goosebumps hearing about all the different office locations and opportunities to travel and work abroad. At the same time their internship program is risky. I don’t know if I’m ready to pick up and move to a new city to work for a company that accepts interns solely on a rolling basis based on client need. If the Starbucks account no longer needs an army of 20, then the lowest on the totem pole is the first to go. Unless another intern spot are the office opened up. That’s not to say I won’t pursue an opportunity if I think it could be a good fit for me.

Our last agency of the day was Porter Novelli. Their office is located in the oldest building in Seattle, which may not be so neat for some people, but as someone who took a lot of AP History courses and loves architecture, that’s definitely interesting. Immediately upon entering the office I was struc by the camaraderie of the people and the cohesion. Everyone seemed so supportive of one another and passionate about they do. Not to mention I liked how the cubicles were lower than the ones at Edelman and Weber Shandwick to encourage communication between employees. On the downside, while I loved the passion I saw exuded at Porter Novelli, I don’t know if I could see myself being as passionate as they were about their largest client, HP. Printer ink doesn’t exactly make my heart flutter. Then again who knows, I’m not even positive about what avenue of PR I will be most passionate about.

Overall, It was really interesting to explore the different dynamics of each agency and learn about their most recent client work. It certainly made me think hard about my future and solidified my goal to work at an agency. Hopefully I will be there soon.