Sunday, April 26, 2009

Web Video: The Media and Your Children

This is my web video made using Jaycut. This video's purpose is to raise social awareness of the harmful effects that the media can have on children - mainly, the sexually charged images that children see in media every day. These such images have a strong influence on their actions and their though process.

Since there are no federal restrictions on this kind of media, children are exposed to it daily. Often times, television shows, movies, advertisements and music influence our culture so much that they become the essential teachers of the cultural norms. Our society has become so influenced by these images that at a young age children are not being taught how to be good people, but rather how to be cool and follow the lead of stars such as Britney Spears, Lil Wayne and Paris Hilton. Not exactly good role models!

It is my belief that this kind of inappropriate media is partly to blame for sexual violence, illegal drug use and other violence. If children are exposed to media that teaches them to be cool you have to show skin, have sex and do drugs, then they will. They learn from observation, and these images are what they see!

This media is full of things that any normal parent would not want their children to be taught! Since the government fails to protect our children's safety in this way, it is up to the parents. It is important that parents do their best to protect children from inappropriate media.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Future of Web 2.0

The future of Web 2.0 is referred to as the "Adoption Curve" as seen in this picture.

According to the website the 2008-2009 phase of Web 2.0 is "Hype and Experimentation". This stage is characterized by a bunch of emerging Web 2.0 providers who barely know more than their clients. There are endless Web 2.0 providers today that few of us have even heard of, let alone use. It would be near impossible to be a client of every Web 2.0 service today.

This being the case, "Most Web 2.0 initiatives will fall short of expectations... Because enthusiasts do not understand the application of the disruptive technology, they make false assumptions, and initiatives are not successful, so they are curtailed in a classic backlash", according to This leads to the 2010 phase, which is "Failure and Disappointment". Most of the sites which we are using will fail. Think back to myspace and its booming time, which appears to be slipping quickly.

However, fear not! 2011-2013 will be characterized as "Triumph of Determination". At this point, most organizations have stopped using Web 2.0 as a failure, but those who persist through these hard times will end up with success. This will take a while!

Finally, by 2014-2015 "Persuasive Adoption" will occur. This means mass adoption of the successful Web 2.0 providers. " The Internet has been at this stage for the past several years; the innovations and application to work processes have long been more incremental than during Web 1.0".

So, in conclusion, trust Web 2.0, find the successful providers and persist! YOU can be one of the lucky few to last through the Triumph of Determination age!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Live on Press Release!

This article by journalist Tom Foremski discusses his hatred of the standard press release. He finds them nearly useless, full of top-spin, pat-on-the-back phrases and meaningless quotes. He offers a solution which is to deconstruct the press release:
"-Provide a brief description of what the announcement is, but leave the spin to the journalists. The journalists are going to go with their own spin on the story anyway, so why bother? Keep it straightforward rather than spintastic.

-Provide a page of quotes from the CEO or other C-level execs.

-Provide a page of quotes from customers, if applicable.

-Provide a page of quotes from analysts, if applicable.

-Provide financial information in many different formats.

-Provide many links inside the press release copy, and also provide a whole page of relevant links to other news stories or reference sources."

I disagree a little with Foremski's views. I think that the press release is still a valuable material. Journalists are not always so quick to throw them out if you have targeted your news media and audience correctly. If you format the release in a way which appeals to the journalist and makes he or she think that it will appeal to their audience, you've reeled them in.

As a student striving to learn more about the PR field, I have recently started understanding media pitching. To me there are two types of ways you should pitch to the media - depending on what you are pitching and the audience to whom you are pitching.

One way to pitch is with the traditional press release. This is useful in circumstances that you have all of the information and want to have more control over the direction of the story. You simply pitch to the media the information, with the story that you would like them to cover. Foremski is right in that most journalists will add spin to the story and make it their own, but if you present the information in a way that is appealing to them, they will pick it up!

Another way to pitch is with a news advisory. This is used when you have some sort of important news that the journalist will most likely be interested in. You have no real story or way you would like to present the information. You list the who, what, where, when and why of the information and hope that the news or event appeals to the journalist.

To me, Foremski's suggestion to get rid of these traditional ways of pitching and simply give the journalist everything he or she needs to make a story is not an effective way to get your pitch picked up. The journalist will be getting all of the information, but he or she may not see exactly how it appeals to their audience. By formatting the story in a press release, you have more control to pitch the story in a way that appeals to the media's audience.

I support the traditional press release! And by the looks of do most all PR professionals and journalists since things still have not changed.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yes, You're Still Ugly in Real Life

A study by Jeremy Bailenson, head of the lab and an assistant professor of communication at Stanford, shows how our self-perception effects our behavior. This applies to our virtual world, avatar, appearances too.

A shocking find in Bailenson's research suggests that Second Life insecurities can affect our real life perceptions and confidence. "When we cloak ourselves in avatars, it subtly alters the manner in which we behave," says Bailenson. "It's about self-perception and self-confidence."

This is increasingly significant research with Second Life's 13 million visitors and World of Warcraft's 10 million subscribers. Some people spend about 20 hours a week in virtual worlds! This research shows the inevitability of the leak of virtual experiences into real life.

Overall studies find that subjects with attractive avatars portray more confidence in real life than those with more unattractive avatars. This affects how people communicate: mainly how close they stand to one another and shyness.

These same characteristics are seen in the characteristics of power. Studies show that those with taller avatars negotiated harder than those with shorter avatars, which also held up in real life situations.

Again, those who watched their avatars exercise, exercised more in real life. Whereas those who watched their avatars lounge around, became couch potatoes in real life (for a few days).

The point being, this effect can work both for good or for bad. "In a therapy setting, we could use these virtual environments to get people to become more confident," says Yee. "But they can also be used in advertising and as propaganda."

My question is, if you watch your avatar fly around all day...Will you in turn be able to fly in real life??

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Top 10 Reasons to Use Video

In our book for class, PR 2.0, Jason Miletsky, CEO and Creative Director of PFS Marketwyse, gives 10 reasons to use video in social media. Some of his ideas are as follows:

1. "Improvements in Technology" - Videos when internet was first developing took SO long to load! We would sit for minutes to download a 20 second clip that had bad quality and would cut out if someone called your phone line! Today, most companies and homes use DSL which of course leads to faster downloads and better viewing quality.

4. "The YouTube Factor" - Sites such as Google, Facebook and YouTube are thrown around as if real words in our vocabulary. They need no definition, almost everyone has used these sites and is familiar with what you mean when you say "I googled..." or "I used YouTube..." YouTube with "its almost two-billion dollar sale to Google, focused the world's attention on a previously little known fact: Video on the Web is finally here."

8. "Higher Degree of Internet Marketing Sophistication and Integration" - In the past, traditional marketing agencies viewed Web 1.0 as "a curious oddity they didn't understand, and wished they didn't have to deal with." Web development was left to the computer geeks who understood programming and html. Today, the Web is fully used by the same mainstream marketers as a necessity to more widespread marketing campaigns. Advertisements online have been converted from banner ads to full out converted TV commercials, talking heads, and video-enhanced landing pages.

Video is such a useful tool for PR, marketing and - I hate to tie this in to the three - advertising. It engages the audience and can result in a better understanding of a campaign, product, service, etc.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Target Found: Children.

With the emergence of more social media, the youngest, most technologically savvy are some of the first to join the trend. Some of the social sites that children are joining include: Webkins, Planet Bratz Fan Club, Club Penguin and many more.

Children are able to register as users on these sites to explore worlds, play games, talk to friends etc. What they don't know, is that the surveys and registration that they fill out, is only ammo for marketers and advertisers to target products directly towards them.

Many of the registrations begin with general questions such as birth date, gender and name. This is so that advertisers can target the correct gender and age group for toys and products. Some of the sites ask fun questions periodically like, your favorite TV show or your favorite hobby. This only opens the window more to specifically targeted ads that the children will be attacked with.

Advertisements towards children are not only banner ads on websites, but they encompass the games and activities that children participate in online. Advertisers have made websites, such as the NabiscoWorld site, directly geared towards children with games that children can play titled instead of pinball, "Triscuit Power Balls". This attracts children to the website where they want to play the Triscuit game. They are blind to the advertisement, but later in the day at the grocery store with Dad they will remember the Triscuit brand. Score one advertisers.

In our society, children are bombarded by advertisements day after day, so they have become blind to many of them. This has caused advertisers to look for more intrusive ways to get inside the children's head. They are hooking children at a young age to products such as macaroni and cheese with images of Sponge Bob hoping to create lifetime customers. What they are really creating is a generation of consumer spend-aholics.

Children spend more of their parents' money now on toys, food, beauty products and expensive clothes than ever before. Children's' products should be ethically designed to increase knowledge or personal growth for the child. However, today, children's' products are merely a means for a company to make money. It would not surprise me to see the amount of debt rise dramatically in not-so future generations. Advertisers immoral actions are in part to blame for much of the materialistic incline that we have seen in our children. Grow some...morals advertisers!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

And now, back to you, Ashton Kutcher.

<----Now THAT'S breaking news!
Please view this enlightening video:

Ashton Kutcher agrees the tides are changing from traditional news outlets to social media outlets. "...with our video cameras on our cell phones and our picture cams and our blogging and our twittering and our facebooking...We actually become the source of the news, and the broadcasters of the news, and the consumers of the news." What an insight, Ashton.

Ashton Kutcher now has more followers than CNN on Twitter. Is that a good step for citizen journalism? Or a sign of our society's decline?

I believe that there is a great power for citizen journalism. It is definitely a new way to more broadly view the news. But, it is not a good sign that more people in our world care about Ashton Kutcher news of master cleanses and marital problems, than real world news from CNN!

Our society is way too concerned with celebrity, beauty and wealth. There are so many issues across the world that deserve our attention. If more people, especially Americans, followed world news, the knowledge that people would gain could at least broaden our ideas and cultural views, which is never a bad thing. That is one reason why everyone else hates "dumb Americans"!

I for one would rather feel that I am more knowledgable in world events, than in what the most popular celebrities are wearing and where they are partying tonight.