Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Pancakes with a side of news February 20, 2012

I remember applying to college and finding out I was accepted, via email, just a few days later. I was disappointed. I had watched the college acceptance process on TV shows and in movies and assumed I would wait in agony for weeks until a bulky or thin letter from the university determining my fate would arrive. Instead, a simple congratulatory email, discovered after school in the journalism room, was all I received. I didn’t even get a chance to hold my breathe before opening it!

Then, I was disappointed in the speed of information because I felt like it degraded my value- as though nothing about my history was being considered. Now, I thrive on this fast-paced delivery of information and drain my battery before the day ends by simply checking email, Facebook and Twitter.

The good news is, my obsession for knowledge is not isolated. 48 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 check Facebook when they wake up in the morning and 28 percent before they get out of bed (guilty!). Is the increased speed of information flow dangerous or a positive change?

For me, it can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s the worst for me when I know an important email is coming, but not when. I assume this is what it was like for students applying for college in the olden days (you know, a few years ago), only worse because we are used to having information at the exact time we want it.

Three years ago, I successfully gave up Facebook for Lent. Could I do that today? Then, I was a sophomore in college so Facebook really only served as a distraction from homework. Since then, Facebook created groups and chat, which was imperative to many group projects. In fact, one day I had to park so far away from my multi-media journalism class that I went to a different computer lab and worked with my group members through our Facebook group instead of wasting 15 minutes walking to class. Even now, as a hopeful PR girl whose future career will most likely involve the use of Facebook on a daily basis, the thought of not having access to social media or the Internet seems impossible.

To step away from the information and technology is not an easy thing to do these days. Because the news is readily at your fingertips, you are expected to be more knowledgeable about the world around you-which, don’t get me wrong, is a great expectation. The challenge comes when we attempt to find a balance between information overload and general knowledge.

Evaluating and separating information we need or want to know from information that is just occupying space helps  to better utilize our time. Logging on to Facebook or Twitter just because  you are bored or to check up/creep on old classmates is not a good habit to practice. We should live in harmony with information, rather than letting it dominate us.

I 100 percent believe in the power of social media and its use for information flow, but sometimes I have to scold myself for checking my phone apps instead of enjoying the life around me. Information is an addiction and accepting it is the first step- Yes, I’m poking fun a little. But seriously, here’s some tips to keep in mind nonetheless. Read Responsibly.

 

** Update: Here is a great article from a social media curator’s point of view. How can the people creating and monitoring social media content avoid burnout?  Four easy steps to avoid social media overload.

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QR Codes: Scannable business cards November 13, 2010

A few weeks ago in our Missouri State chapter of PRSSA our executive board was really excited about something called a QR Code and how it can make your networking life a breeze. Lost? I was. Time to rewind and research.

A QR Code looks like a complicated maze  and serves as a unique link to information, a video or website.

According to Mobile-Barcodes, “The acronym QR is derived from the term Quick Response. The company Denso Wave originally spawned the term QR as the creator intended that such barcodes and their contents were to be decoded at high-speed electronically.”

A QR Code is similar to the bar codes you find on products at stores because both barcodes because stored information can be retrieved by scanning/ taking a picture with your phone.

Consider a QR Code like a hyperlink on the Internet, but is a 2D picture that can be put on a tangible item you can hold outside of the online world. For instance, a movie poster QR Code would show a movie trailer when scanned.

Other ways companies and people are using QR Codes is to link to a website, coupon, video or contact information. As a student beginning to network for jobs, I found the vCard especially interesting.

A vCard is a QR Code that stores all of your contact information. To create one using Nokia, it asks for your name, phone number, organization, email, title, address and website. This is an excellent and creative way to create a business card because you can store the image to your computer and print it on a business card to hand out.

I am definitely learning as I write this blog, but as far as I can tell, a QR Code and vCard can be stored as text, immediately as a contact, as the website or as an image depending on the application the person you are sending it to has to read it.

Mobile Barcodes has an excellent comparison list of QR Code readers that you can explore to find the best one for your needs. While some are free, there are others that cost anywhere from $.99-$2.99.

vCards and QR Codes can be printed on stickers, t-shirts, business cards or anything you can imagine. I can definitely see this trend picking up in the next few months as more people begin to use it. If businesses begin engaging their audience with QR Codes it will grow immensely. For now, I am still learning and wishing I had a phone with this capability.

Here is a video example of how this all comes together:

Would you use a QR Code?

Find out more:

Here are a few resources I found useful during my quick research for this blog:

Fun fact: Thanksgiving break begins in one and a half weeks.

 

Google: #1 word in my vocabulary November 8, 2010

Hello, my name is Sarah and I am an addict. A Google addict that is.

I am incredibly obsessed with Google because it is a safe place to ask a question and get answers from an official source or peer’s advice. Here is what I searched for in the last few hours:

  • Pandora (My homework study-buddy. I Google it instead of typing the simple URL hence the addiction.)
  • Sarah Howard (I know, I know… But my Facebook account disappeared and I was looking for it!)
  • Organ Donation (research for class)
  • Animoto (class)
  • Gamma Sigma Sigma (my sorority)
  • YouTube (fun/class)
  • Ozark Fitness Festival (my race results)
  • Random photos for my advertising project

And that doesn’t even include the random questions I ask that Google always answers for me like, “How do I train for a half marathon?” “What is runner’s knee?” “Why do the leaves change colors?” “Where is an earthworm’s head?” My brain works like this commercial for Google that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl:

I think about how often I search for questions throughout the day and wonder how Google is so smart and how does it return such applicable results?

A few weeks ago Kevin Grinder, of dotDIGITAL Studios, spoke to our class about search engine optimization (SEO) and how exactly Google produces such successful search results. SEO describes how a website designer produces valuable content so that Google, or other search engines, will refer searchers to your website.

In order to achieve a high-ranking on a search engine, it is important to understand how a website is evaluated. When search engines discover a new website, they send out a bot to ‘crawl’ to your website and explore it. If it helps, do as I do and envision a robot sneaking over to your website like a secret shopper to evaluate its content.

As the bot is reading the content on the website it looks for frequently used words and where they are placed within the page. Words at the top and words that are links are considered more important than the others. Bold words also gain priority status. Once the bot has reviewed the content, it reports back to its search engine by indexing the keywords.

For instance, a store that sells party supplies would have the word “party” frequently and at the top of the page. A bot would recognize this and tell the search engine that if someone searches for “party” this is a good resource to show them.

As an organization it is important to understand how this works because people often do not view the search results past the first page. Kevin recommended researching what your target market is searching for and use those keywords on your website. Knowing how to manipulating your website’s content in a subtle way can make a big difference in the number of visitors to a website.

Knowing how search engines work makes searching for things a lot more interesting and is very valuable when trying to drive traffic to a website.

Who knew search engines were so complicated and smart? I for one am addicted to their wealth of knowledge.

 

Anyone can. You can too! October 1, 2010

I lack talent in the cooking department, but if I saw a book titled “Anyone Can Cook” I would simply have faith that this author has found a way to mold me into a chef.

In the same way, social media has created the idea that anyone can become a published musician, writer, and videographer. Suddenly, anyone can promote themselves online with any talent they may or may not have. I think I am a writer and therefore, I am writing this blog. I signed up and was given the ability to share any thought or opinion I have with the world.

“The Social Media Bible,” by Lon Safko states that: “In the twentieth century, professional reporters and publishers decided what the news was and determined how the public saw it. Though we might still have some professionals making these decisions in the twenty-first century, we now have personal reporters and publishers— more than 50 million of them—who bring our news to us on a daily basis.”

Safko goes on to explain that today, instead of only receiving the news our local media deems newsworthy, we have endless news sources to choose from and the format is more conversational rather than telling.

This idea that everyday people are creating information sources is called citizen journalism. New York University journalism professor, Jay Rossen, defined citizen journalism in July 2008 on his blog, Pressthink,as “when the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism.”

Podcast, also described as an MP3 file, is a very popular way to promote information or video online. Here are a few examples of how both professional and accredited organizations, as well as how individuals use these tools to publish their thoughts.

1. CNN creates podcasts for each segment they air making it easy to pick and choose a topic you wish to know more about.

2. Geek News Central is an online website devoted to podcasting about technology. This is a perfect example of how anyone can find a niche, create a podcast and find followers.

3. Philip Defranco creates a short five-minute video five days a week. In his podcast, he very quickly and humorously offers his opinion of that day’s top news stories.

4. Missouri State University has a select number of classes and professors that have recorded and uploaded their lectures into podcasts. For instance, Dr. Dyer post all of his lectures on iTunes U convenient to not only his students, but other students and professors across the nation.

As an organization seeking publicity, having information readily available to consumers wherever and whenever they want them is a key component to a company’s success. If prepared, creating and uploading a podcast will only take a few minutes. This is a simple and free way to reach people on the go. Why not take advantage of it?

 

 
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