Sunday, April 24, 2011

China's One-Child Policy


video

Here is a class project video I created... Hope it inspires you to make a difference. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Balance

Balance. More often than not in life we forget to take a moment to really think about the balance in our lives. We are overloaded with homework, meetings, internships, jobs, families, friends, stressful times and relaxing times. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all of the things going on in our lives and lose the balance.

Frank Roby, CEO of Concero Global and Empower African Children, spoke with our class about the importance of balance in every aspect of life. At our very basic level, according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, we are in survival mode. When we are in this mode, according to Roby, we pull on our instincts. We have a core strength that any time we are in conflict, we can pull on. The problem is, everyone's core strengths are a little different. Some people may be on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. "Relationships strive for balance - communication strives to achieve that balance." So, through communication we are able to find a middle ground. "As you get away from the balance point, communication gets harder," Roby said. As human beings, no matter what situation we are dealing with, we tend to push out to the edges. We take sides and stick to our side - no matter what the other person says. But whether we are talking about a friendship, a business relationship, or competing companies, balance plays a constant role in each.

Roby talked about an example with MSNBC and FOX News. One is obviously thought to be on the left and the other on the right. The only way consumers can balance the news they hear from these two sources is to watch both or get their news elsewhere. The information is off balance and therefore changes the way some of us view events in the news.

It can be hard to create balance in a world where competition is everywhere. But the more we communicate, the more balance we create. Our job as communicators will be to help bridge the gap between these imbalances and get the most accurate message across to the public.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Matt Gobush: Communication Strategies – Lessons Learned

At 500 million and rising, Facebook currently holds the third largest population in the world. The US falls behind at only 300 million. In a national survey of reporters and editors, 89 percent use blogs as part of their research and 65 percent turn to social media sites. Youtube, now the second largest search engine, holds over 100 million videos. No question about it, social media has become a key form of communication across the globe as a primary networking tool and one of the top news resources.
            In response to the rising number of social media users, many companies have created a blog to communicate with consumers on a more personal level. Matt Gobush, Corporate Communications Manager at Exxon Mobil, saw this trend in consumer participation through blogging and began to push the need for a blog in the communication strategy. The push had impeccable timing. Just as Exxon Mobil prepared for the rollout of it’s blog, the Deepwater Horizon Spill occurred. Instead of stepping back and staying out of the spotlight in this disaster, Exxon Mobil took this as an opportunity to communicate with their consumers about the precautions and safety measures it had taken to avoid such a disaster.
            Blogs are not commonly used in the oil business. Most companies don’t find it a necessary tool for the nature of business. Gobush, however, believes that it is important for a company in any industry to be involved. “You get so much credit for engaging in the dialogue,” Gobush said. Being engaged in the dialogue brings a sense of transparency to the consumer that wouldn’t otherwise be there with a traditional communication strategy.
Communication, or lack thereof, was one of BP’s largest set backs during the Deepwater Horizon Spill. It took BP an entire week before they mentioned anything about the spill online, with virtually no video response on YouTube. “If you’re not quick, you’re not relevant. They needed to be where the conversations were happening. Twitter, blogs, etc,” said Heather Whaling, owner of Geben Communication. Through it’s communication disaster, BP showed the importance of implementing a new crisis communication strategy to include a digital response.
The lesson learned from the BP oil spill according to Gobush, was first and foremost that the spill was an engineering problem, not a communication problem. In order to properly communicate, BP needed to first solve the engineering problem. It’s second step should have been to inform the public in a consistent and timely manner about what was happening. Gobush believes BP took too long to figure out how to communicate to the public. “They chose the wrong spokesperson and didn’t get the information out fast enough.”
Exxon Mobil is not a stranger to a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon Spill. It experienced a similar crisis of it’s own in 1989 with the Valdez Oil Spill. Since the company had not built a reputation for themselves through communication prior to the spill, it spent much of it’s communication efforts in response attempting to build it’s reputation with the public. Exxon Mobil has been quite successful in it’s attempt with an informative blog and a user-friendly website. BP has a long way to go in rebuilding it’s reputation, but taking the lessons learned, it will be able to move forward and make use of the digital world consumers prefer today as part of it’s communication strategy. 

Matt Gobush: Communication Strategies – Lessons Learned


At 500 million and rising, Facebook currently holds the third largest population in the world. The US falls behind at only 300 million. In a national survey of reporters and editors, 89 percent use blogs as part of their research and 65 percent turn to social media sites. Youtube, now the second largest search engine, holds over 100 million videos. No question about it, social media has become a key form of communication across the globe as a primary networking tool and one of the top news resources.
            In response to the rising number of social media users, many companies have created a blog to communicate with consumers on a more personal level. Matt Gobush, Corporate Communications Manager at Exxon Mobil, saw this trend in consumer participation through blogging and began to push the need for a blog in the communication strategy. The push had impeccable timing. Just as Exxon Mobil prepared for the rollout of it’s blog, the Deepwater Horizon Spill occurred. Instead of stepping back and staying out of the spotlight in this disaster, Exxon Mobil took this as an opportunity to communicate with their consumers about the precautions and safety measures it had taken to avoid such a disaster.
            Blogs are not commonly used in the oil business. Most companies don’t find it a necessary tool for the nature of business. Gobush, however, believes that it is important for a company in any industry to be involved. “You get so much credit for engaging in the dialogue,” Gobush said. Being engaged in the dialogue brings a sense of transparency to the consumer that wouldn’t otherwise be there with a traditional communication strategy.
Communication, or lack thereof, was one of BP’s largest set backs during the Deepwater Horizon Spill. It took BP an entire week before they mentioned anything about the spill online, with virtually no video response on YouTube. “If you’re not quick, you’re not relevant. They needed to be where the conversations were happening. Twitter, blogs, etc,” said Heather Whaling, owner of Geben Communication. Through it’s communication disaster, BP showed the importance of implementing a new crisis communication strategy to include a digital response.
The lesson learned from the BP oil spill according to Gobush, was first and foremost that the spill was an engineering problem, not a communication problem. In order to properly communicate, BP needed to first solve the engineering problem. It’s second step should have been to inform the public in a consistent and timely manner about what was happening. Gobush believes BP took too long to figure out how to communicate to the public. “They chose the wrong spokesperson and didn’t get the information out fast enough.”
Exxon Mobil is not a stranger to a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon Spill. It experienced a similar crisis of it’s own in 1989 with the Valdez Oil Spill. Since the company had not built a reputation for themselves through communication prior to the spill, it spent much of it’s communication efforts in response attempting to build it’s reputation with the public. Exxon Mobil has been quite successful in it’s attempt with an informative blog and a user-friendly website. BP has a long way to go in rebuilding it’s reputation, but taking the lessons learned, it will be able to move forward and make use of the digital world consumers prefer today as part of it’s communication strategy. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Crisis Communications

This week, Maureen Locus with Brinker International came and spoke to our class about her job and the challenges she faces. As one of only 4 people in the Communications Department, Ms. Locus has her hands full. In a company that spans across the globe, you would think there would be more. But Ms. Locus and her colleagues are able to deal with a lot proactive and reactive PR.

The thing that stuck out the most to me was the number of crisis situations they come across from the smallest complaint to even the biggest media crisis. Brinker International is the owner of Chili's restaurants so you can imagine the type of complaints, law suits, and just generally random occurrences they come across on a regular basis. Working in the restaurant business in communication looks like it could be quite a challenge, but a lot of fun at the same time. I'm beginning to have an interest in hospitality, so hearing about the restaurant side of that was very helpful for me. I'm so glad Ms. Locus was able to come out and speak with us.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Get Out There!

This Wednesday, Robert Martin from MM2 PR spoke to our class about Marketing Communications and how integrated marketing is changing the practice of PR. It was a relief to hear from someone that PR is actually becoming more valuable in the business world. It is largely due to the importance and use of social media in marketing today. Consumers today more than ever want their experience with companies to be an interaction. It's not just about a company preaching to their consumers anymore - it's about the 2-way communication and the relationship they want to form with a company.

The thing that stood out to me in the hour we spent with Mr. Martin was the idea that marketing and PR today is about getting out there. It's about going out on the streets and interesting with consumers. It's about making them feel like they are a part of the brand, company, or product.

Wheat Thins recently started a very successful campaign where they are going out to people's homes or offices where they have tweeted or mentioned Wheat Thins in any type of social media and have been making surprise deliveries to these people. They have then used the footage to create commercials and a youtube site specifically for the campaign. To me, this is one of the best ideas I've seen so far. They are not only getting people involved but they are randomly rewarding those who do mention them and at the same time are making it a surprise! Brilliant. I hope someday I'll be able to think of something this clever for a campaign.

Mr. Martin mentioned, "Instead of just talking about yourself as a company, get out and do something." This is exactly the type of thing Wheat Thins has done and many other companies are doing today to attract their consumers and create a relationship with them. Because social media is so huge today, it's going to be the main way to reach consumers and what better way to reach them than by getting out there and taking it to the streets.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Evidence-Based Approach

Looking back now on Dr. Kirk's Research class for my Communication Studies major, it's somewhat comical to me how completely and entirely freaked out I was to do "research" in the way that Dr. Kirk was instructing us to do. I had never in my life had to create such an extensive reference list, and to be honest, I had barely even used EBSO or any other library search engine, for that matter. I remember thinking: "When am I EVER going to use this in real life. What's the point? This is wasting precious hours of my life that I could be using to actually create my own work." ... Little did I know, I would soon come to realize research was the most important step in any type of communication. You have to do your research before you can even begin to express your opinion and convey a message to your audience. 


This week, Mr. Mike Lake, Chair, U.S. Public Affairs Practice and Southwest Region for Burson-Marsteller, came and talked to us about the importance of research in a campaign and the method B-M sells to it's clients called the "evidence-based approach." B-M is a huge believer in quantitative research and prides itself in being able to provide extensive research to their clients with facts and numbers, not just focus groups and opinions. Mr. Lake told us, "If you want to go out and bill a client, you've got to back it up with data and research." In Dr. Kirk's class, our entire semester was about doing research in order to present a campaign idea to our client. A lot of times what firms do is they research and present what the client already knows about themselves. B-M takes this a step further in that they offer something to the clients that they don't already know. 


Mr. Lake talked about a recent campaign B-M is working on in the online gaming industry. In order to best serve their client, they knew they were going to have to do extensive research. They were strategic, however, in how they chose their targets for the research. By choosing the correct targets, B-M was able to provide the very best research results for their client. 

In a world where it is increasingly becoming more about the "I want it now" and "high-tech, high-speed outcomes," it's refreshing to hear that good old fashioned research is still one of, if not, the most important step in producing results that work for a client. It's also a relief to know that my countless hours spent sifting through research article after research article will pay off one day when I will hopefully get a client of my own that wants to try an evidence-based approach to communication.