Insight #12: Tips and Tricks

For this assignment, our task was to reflect on the work we’ve done throughout Dr. McArthur’s Integrated Strategic Communication course, while also shedding light on some “tips & tricks” for future students. After all of the work that has been accomplished in this intense 7 week course, it’s nice to give some feedback and any helpful advice for others.

(Image courtesy of Michael Krigsman’s article on ZDNet)

The first on the list is what I’ve learned. Oh boy, this could take a while. I feel like I learned the entire trade of what public relations professionals do, but I know this was just the tip of the iceberg. This course is highly necessary for anyone who wants to pursue PR as a career. In addition, I found it very helpful in honing my voice as a writer and improving my writing/blogging skills; that being said, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for all students to take this course. In all honesty, if it weren’t for this class being a requirement for my major, I’m not sure if I would have taken the challenge. However, I am glad it was because due to the work being intense and demanding, it made me feel such success after each assignment was completed. Fraser Seitel, author of the class text, was so brilliant. Usually textbooks are so dry to read, especially when it refers to a trade with such specifics, but it was quite easy to follow.

Second on the list is what I wish I would have known before the class. This is tricky; if I knew how intense the course was ahead of time, I might not have taken it in the summer, then again it was a blessing taking it in the summer because of how much time it demanded- time that is much easier to find during the summer than the fall/spring semesters. I have always taken summer courses, and preferred them online. At times I wish this course was in class, only because some assignments were new experiences for me and others were very specific. Nonetheless, Dr. McArthur and most participants in the course were always so helpful. If ever there was an issue or misunderstand, post it to moodle and usually within a day or two someone will respond with an answer. This saved me so many times!

What was the most valuable learning of mine was third on the list. My dream is to pursue a career in writing, specifically being a movie critic. Since every single assignment was completed and uploaded on WordPress (a blog site) it increased my skills and knowledge of how to use and navigate through a blog. Times are-a-changing, and almost everything is paperless today. Whether during this course or in my near, near future, I would have needed to become more in-tune with my blogging techniques; this class was a great way to do so. It also inspired me to continue doing so by creating my own personal blog. Most people have been telling me to do so for so long, but this was just the push I needed.

Fourthly, what should a student do for success in this course? Whether you take this course during the summer, in class, or online, you NEED to be able to prioritize and manage your time wisely. Everyone says they are a procrastinator, and I thought I was too, but there is absolutely no room for that in this class. The most important and helpful thing you can do in this class is to work ahead. From day one, all assignments are available to do, so the work is what you make it. My schedule was a bit hectic, particularly Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I would do the assignments for those days ahead of time. Sometimes I would work through the weekend so that all my work for that week was completed. It really is up to you, which is great. Just don’t get behind, because once you’re behind it’s going to be extremely difficult to catch up; late assignments are not accepted! Also, make sure to look at every assignment and what it entails at least a day before it’s due- preferably two or three. This gives you insight on how much time it might take, depending on how comfortable you are with what the assignment is. If there was an assignment I planned to do the day of, but it required skills I have never used, I would rearrange my week and do it two days before- just in case.

The fifth and final point on the list is how I might use the skills I’ve learned to advance my career. The most important part of writing that I learned was being to differentiate between writing for the ear and writing for the eye. When you’re writing for the eye, you should be cautious to everything from your grammar to your tone of voice because it’s printed and permanent- your readers will be able to re-read and evaluate what you’ve said. Writing for the ear is much different. Even though you should be just as cautious when writing for the ear, any mistake or grammatical error isn’t as easy for people to pick up; most importantly, they can reference back to it. This is so crucial for all communications majors- and really, just about anyone- to know; especially those who want to pursue any career in writing. Learning all of this has only diversified my writing skills, and given me new insight on different techniques to writing.

(Image courtesy of acreecreative.com)

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Lab 12: Crisis Communication

Picture this: it’s been a tough start to the year, having to get back into work mode from all that time off over the holidays, and you’ve barely seen your loved ones for what seems like more than a quick second. But all of that is about to change; it’s Valentine’s Day and your boss gave you the day off to fly home to see your family. You’re looking good, you’re bags are packed, and you’ve even arrived to the airport early. Despite the “ice-storm” warnings that you don’t need to worry about due to no cancellations, everything seems to be in tip-top shape. As you’re boarding the plane and making yourself comfortable in your seat, just before you’re about to doze off, the flight attendant comes on the speaker: “Attention JetBlue customers, our flight take-off will be delayed slightly; we thank you for your patience and will be lifting off momentarily”.

(Image courtesy of Emirates.com)

If you were one of the 130,000+ customers of JetBlue on February 14th, 2007, you don’t have to picture it- you experienced it first hand! Due to JetBlue (whose home-base is JFK airport in NY, where this happened) underestimating just how bad this ice storm was going to be, it took six hours for passengers that were stuck on the plane, ON the ramp, to make it back to a GATE to get off- not at their destination- at the same place they got on; not to mention the flights that were having difficulty landing. For all you readers that think this sounds hectic enough, it wasn’t. Everything continued to trickle down the gutter for JetBlue over the next six days. So what went terribly wrong with JetBlue that day, and why did it take six days to fix? Independent to that day, JetBlue depended solely on a dispersed workforce reservations system, the web, and no sign of a plan B.

It wouldn’t come as a shock if JetBlue lacked an issues manager, as Seitel discusses in chapter 19 of his book, The Practice of Public Relations. An issues manager could have helped in assuring a crisis like this wouldn’t happen, or at least be a clean and fast recovery. The issues manager has a five-step process to go by, but in sum their goal is to delegate the process to help preserve markets, reduce risk, create opportunities, and manage image as an organizational asset for the benefit of an organization (Seitel). In this case, JetBlue only increased their risk. For big companies like them, it isn’t the best idea to have a dispersed workforce in charge of the reservations- meaning their agents are working from home to have more flexibility. Shouldn’t the customer have the most flexibility? This is something that should have been executed differently. If you want to give your employees flexible hours, fine; but make those hours require their attendance.

However, they did seem to respond okay, depending on how you look at it. A crisis as big as this, that caused over 1,000 flights to be cancelled over the next six days and only 17 of the 165 flights to have taken the day of, demands personal care. CEO David Neeleman took it upon himself to publicly apologize to the 130,000+ customers affected by the cancellations, delays, and diversions; he even offered some generous compensation. Any customer that was sitting on a plane for more than three hours received a full refund of their flight (ya think!) and a free voucher for any round-trip flight. Well, that’s a start. Additionally, Neeleman went on to issue a Customer Bill of Rights on February 21st. This piece of news was just as hot as the crisis itself. The policy offered explicit compensation for any future complications associated with flights and offered a whopping $1000 if a customer is involuntarily bumped from a flight due to overbooking. Since I’m not a JetBlue customer, I’m looking at this as a third party. Before this crisis, they had such loyal customers that were always satisfied with their services; was it neccessary to publicly issue a Customer Bill of Rights? Inconvenienced customers should be compensated in some way, but asserting a plan for if that does happen could have been efficient enough.

No matter how many apologies are issued, the question still remained: What has JetBlue learned from this and what plans are they implementing to avoid future crisis’? Although this crisis was unfortunate, JetBlue turned it into a huge wake-up call and learning experience. Because of this crisis, it was brought to Neeleman’s attention that he had endless employees willing to help, but they didn’t know how. They weren’t trained for this. Julia Hanna, associate editor of Harvard Business School, states: “Neeleman told the New York Times, “We had an emergency control center full of people who didn’t know what to do. I had flight attendants sitting in hotel rooms for three days who couldn’t get a hold of us. I had pilots e-mailing me say, ‘I’m available, what do I do?'” No CEO should ever has employees so helpless at such a time of need. In retrospect, he learned from it and during that crisis CIO Charles Mees was devising a plan to fix it. Mees “created a database to track crew locations and contact information, later adding new functions that would allow pilots and crew to type in their locations via mobile Internet devices (Hanna). As for Neeleman, he conducted employee-cross training so that 900 corporate employees could assist JFK.

Anybody can look at this crisis and say what they would have done differently; heck, Neeleman did that himself. But in the end, crisis’ happen and the best thing for any organization- big or small- to do is have a plan of action for them. Neeleman took full responsibility for this large hiccup and did what he felt necessary to restore his customers faith in JetBlue. The three major lessons to be learned here is 1)have a team of issues managers, 2) have all employees fully trained for their job and any sudden issues that may arise, and 3) have consistent evaluations on operating processes and decide where greater structure is needed. After reading all of this, if you were searching for a flight in the future, would you consider JetBlue?

*This video is one of the personal apologies CEO of JetBlue, David Neeleman made to the public.

 

The video displayed is credited to YouTube.

Hanna, Julia. “JetBlue’s Valentine’s Day Crisis.” Harvard Business School. N.p., 31 Mar 2008. Web. 14 Jun 2013. <http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5880.html&gt;.

Seitel, Fraser. The Practice of Public Relations. 11th edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2010. Print.

McGregor, Jena. “An Extraordinary Stumble at JetBlue.” Bloomberg Business Week. 4 Mar 2007: n. page. Web. 14 Jun. 2013. <http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2007-03-04/an-extraordinary-stumble-at-jetblue&gt;.

Connection #7: Social Media: Influencing Purchases One Customer at a Time

Social Media Influencing Purchase Behaviour

(Image courtesy of Matthew Peneycad’s featured article.)

Social platforms are extremely important for businesses today. For any business out there unwilling to change and adapt to the way of the world, by all means, check the stats; you’ll re-think your stubbornness. Even those that have made the effort into the social world, they’re not utilizing it to its full potential; there is an endless amount of value they can achieve through the strategic use of social media. Throughout this entire COMM 306 course, social media has been prevalent to each and every assignment; and we’re just students. With the continuous rise of power that social media has- over pretty much everything- it’s only sensible for all businesses to get with the program, as effectively as possible.

Matthew Peneycad, writer for Social Media Today, recently published an article with a list of important “need-to-know” stats as to why businesses need social media. While reading his article titled, Unignorable Stats About How Social Media Influences Purchase Behavior, it was too good not to share. Aside from businesses- which is the main target- these tips could be universal and translate to anyone: from students to professors, and even the independently employed.

One of the statistics is that 91% of people have gone into a store because of an online experience; this even surprised me. As I stated earlier, there is still so much value organizations haven’t grasped, due to a lack of social media. For those on their social game, clearly this proves it’s purely beneficial. This statistic, crazy as it is, makes perfect sense; with a businesses information, product details, prices, and ups & downs ready for consumers to view at the click of a button, why wouldn’t they? Because of this, it is imperative for a businesses website and social media properties to be up-to-date, with all current information available that consumers are looking for. Peneycad makes a valid point: “If they can’t find the pertinent information that will sway their purchase decisions, they’ll buy from a company that does”.

American Eagle Store American Eagle Creates Mobile Triple Play

(Image courtesy of Mobile Mavens.)

Another statistic is that 89% of consumers conduct their research using search engines (Peneycad). Let’s experiment here. Go to Google and type in any businesses name; it’s a guarantee that the majority of the search engines you find will consist of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube. If not, their irrelevant in the social media world. According to Peneycad, “you have a tremendous opportunity to impress information seeking consumers on your social media properties when they are conducting research for a purchase, so take advantage of this and ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward”.

The next statistic correlates with the first: 62% of consumers end up making a purchase in-store after researching it online (Peneycad). We know that people tend to impulse shop at times, but this proves that the chances of that happening are much smaller. This means that the customer wants any and all knowledge about the product before making the final purchase decision. Having a website that is easy to navigate through is strongly recommended; you wouldn’t want that customer to go to your competitor at this point in the process.

If you read my recent blog post on rogue websites, then you know how important it is for businesses to monitor any activity going on through the web about them. Something I failed to mention was previous customer’s online reviews. This could go very badly, but statistics show otherwise. “72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations“, says Peneycad. So, if a complete stranger’s opinion is just as good as a friend’s, your business better make sure what those stranger’s are saying is good news- or else it’s bad news for you. To make sure of that, initiate the discussion to your customers- past, current, or potential- by encouraging them to write reviews on your social media platforms; that way you have instant access to what’s being said, with the opportunity to respond- this will go a long way.

Remember when I said it will go a long way if you actively respond to customer reviews? It’s true. According to Peneycad, 78% of consumers say that the posts made by companies on social media influence their purchases. If a business incorporates communicative and effective social media platforms, they have the opportunity to sway the customer’s purchase decision through the content incorporated. Is this all coming together for you all? It can’t be stressed enough: for a business- or anyone advertising their brand (even your personal one)- it is imperative that you incorporate communicative social media platforms into your daily regimen and ensure the content meets the customers needs. This is your opportunity to sell your product business; don’t waste it.

*The video above shares some insight from professionals on how to engage your customer through your content.

The video displayed is credited to YouTube and the company Constant Contact.

Peneycad, Matthew. “Unignorable Stats About How Social Media Influences Purchase Behavior.” Social Media Today. N.p., 13 Jun 2013. Web. 14 Jun 2013. <http://socialmediatoday.com/rgbsocial/1532766/unignorable-stats-about-how-social-media-influences-purchase-behaviour&gt;.

Insight #11: Rogue Websites

walmart

(Image displayed is credited to walmartsucks.livejournal.com)

For this assignment, our class was to assess a major corporation and any rouge websites that may help or hinder it’s reputation. With Walmart being an option, it had to be done. Rogue websites are the “bad guys” of online communication. According to Seitel, author of The Practice of Public Relations, they seek to confront an organization by: presenting negative information, satirizing policy/management, allowing employees- current and former- to vent publicly, serving as a gateway for complaints to regulators and media, and confuse the public regarding which web site represent the real organization. It’s confusing in itself that the public would question that; what organization would jeopardize their brand like that? Take Walmart for example: considering the picture shown above, would anybody really think they were in favor of that?

Walmart attracts a wide range of customers due to their low, and I mean low, prices. Having such a diverse customer base means you never know what you might see; especially late at night. That being said, someone came up with the idea of starting the website peopleofwalmart.com; a site that posts pictures, videos, and comments about any and all Walmart customers. What do you need to do to get on the website? By the way this rogue website runs, have no sense of style, wear clothes five sizes too small, look funny or anything too bizarre for daily life. The worst part? The captions. They’re completely awful and down right mean; people shouldn’t be judged for things like that. However, more people than not simply don’t care and chime on in for kicks and giggles.

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(Image displayed credited to People of Walmart’s photo page.)

*A monkey in a stroller.. a little awesome, but too bizarre.*

Another rogue website I came across was Wal*Mart Suck’s Journal. This live journal site consists mainly of people’s comments, concerns, and experiences- you can count on most being bad. This site allows current or past employees and customers to write and share anything they want about the organization. Additionally, occasional videos are uploaded, usually revealing something that reflects poorly on Walmart. A video currently featured actually does hinder Walmart’s reputation; it’s of a Walmart manager basically discriminating against a homosexual customer. This is a huge negative for Walmart, regardless of the fact that it’s one employee.

Considering the fact that the images displayed here are not making fun of any persons- as I claimed they usually are- and the video below is purely humorous without offense to others, it’s quite obvious that was a pre-meditated plan. My intent is not to contribute to the rogue websites discussed because no matter what humor people find in them, it’s simply rude. This point alone can be very detrimental to Walmart as an organization and is a prime reason why they need to consistently do web monitoring. Rogue websites such as these can cost them customers, especially ones that may be featured on the sites. Not to mention, if the public reads any negative perceptions of Walmart from a past or current employee how that will make them look; terrible.

Personally, rogue websites that are even remotely close to the ones mentioned above can not be anything BUT harmful to the organization it targets. Anything negative that affiliates itself with Walmart’s name, whether they have permission to or not, is simply bad press. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Walmart to have a team of public relations professionals to keep a close eye on these sites and measure any correlation it may have with impacting their sales. In my opinion, rogue websites like these leave a bad taste in my mouth in regards to the company, even though I know they have nothing to do with it; they should have something to do with fixing it.

The video displayed is credited to YouTube and People of Walmart’s video page.

Seitel, Fraser. The Practice of Public Relations. 11th edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2010. Print.

Lab #11: Going Social

(Image courtesy of Zoe’s Kitchen’s catering page.)

For this assignment, the task was to pick a company and conduct a communication audit on their social media use. Considering all of the social media outlets we would assess the company on, it needed to be a relevant company that has integrated itself into that realm. Zoe’s Kitchen is a casual-type restaurant that has done just that. For any readers that haven’t experienced the bliss of eating at Zoe’s before, here is some background information. Zoe Cassimus was born in the Mediterranean and raised in the South. She always found herself entertaining and cooking for others, so Cassimus decided to share her deliciously fresh and healthy recipes with the world.

Company website

Zoe’s Kitchen does a great job connecting with the public through social media. Their prime interaction is their website. The goal is to educate the public on their company, it’s history, and the fresh Mediterranean ingredients used to make-up the menu. It supplies the public with a great deal of content: their full menu, catering options, locations, career opportunities, and even gift cards. At the top of their website, you can even send them an email with any thoughts or concerns you have. It is updated frequently. There is a news link on the left of the page that features YouTube videos to update the public with what the company is doing; there are even videos of founder Zoe Cassimus herself! All of this information makes their website very interactive, supplying the public with any information they want to know about the company.

Twitter

On the bottom of their website is an icon to their Twitter profile. Aside from their website, this is the main way Zoe’s Kitchen stays in contact with the public. Their goal is to do just that: stay connected with their public. The ages of their public ranges from young teens to the elderly, so staying current in social media is a way to connect with the younger crowd. It’s also a good way to advertisement and connect with other businesses. The content included through Twitter ranges from new menu options to promotions going on. They typically tweet or respond to a follower daily. This contributes to it being interactive. On Monday, Tiffany Cruz tweeted that she wished there was a location near her; Zoe’s immediately responded by wishing the same and asking her to email them where she lived so they can start looking for real estate. Talk about customer service!

Facebook

With over 80,000 likes on their Facebook page, it seems to be a good social media source for Zoe’s Kitchen. Zoe’s goal here is similar to Twitter, just with more room to do so. The downside to Twitter is you can only tweet so many characters; no worries, because whatever can’t fit in a tweet can fit in a status update on Facebook. Most of the content included on Facebook is any news related to Zoe’s Kitchen, the 87 locations, or Zoe herself. The most recent piece of news- currently broadcasted in each store- is that Cassimus is going to be the first person ever to run the Tour de France. If you donate $5 to help her raise money for The World Pediatric Project, you’ll get $5 off your next visit. Their Facebook is updated daily, just as Twitter- social media never sleeps. It’s proven to be quite interactive. As I’m blogging, 2,025 Facebook friends are currently talking about Zoe’s.

Fuel Zoes Run

 

(Image courtesy of Zoe’s Kitchen’s website.)

YouTube

As mentioned earlier, Zoe’s Kitchen creates multiple videos through YouTube that are posted on their website under the “news” tab. YouTube has become pertinent in companies, whether it’s used to advertise, inform, or entertain. Their goal is to do all of the above. They have their own YouTube channel, and the content is abundant. They broadcast details about the different locations, upcoming promotions, Zoe Cassimus’ latest project, ingredient information, etc. Videos aren’t posted as frequent as their tweets, but they stay current. It’s a great interaction with the public because it gives a visual to what the company really does; it matches the words with the actions.

Pinterest

Zoe’s Kitchen’s Pinterest page is full of life! It features 8 pages: live for Mediterranean, goodness, Zoe’s, fresh, our guests, for fit, for family, and in the kitchen. It showcases their goals through photos and quotes and includes a range of content, from recipes to guides to being fit and healthy. Their activity isn’t as often on here, but the seem to pin every one to two weeks. It seems to be effective with interacting with their public; they currently have 989 followers. Communication on Pinterest is solely through photos, so this wouldn’t be as reliable as the mediums above.

LinkedIn/Foursquare

Zoe’s LinkedIn page is pretty brief. Being that it is a networking site, it really just gives an overview of their company and any hiring information for their locations. The goal here is strictly business, seeking new employees and to interact with any who are current. Information is posted every couple of days, so it stays current. Interaction of the public is limited, being that you can only view the company’s interaction. Zoe’s use of foursquare is also minimal. On their behalf, it’s only purpose is to locate a destination. Still, they include an overview of the company, the menu, and the location information. It’s edited if a new location arises, and is not preferred for interaction with the public.

They still do not have an instagram, or any industry-specific platform. I would highly recommend an instagram, because it’s a great way to advertise and show off their recipes. In regards to the platforms above, I think they’re doing an awesome job using them to stay current and connected with the public.

Insight #10: Integrated Marketing Communication – Red Bull

In Chapter 17 of our class text, Seitel discusses what integrated marketing communications is and the many ways it can be demonstrated. He defines integrated marketing communications as “the intersection of public relations and publicity, advertising, sales, promotion, and marketing to promote organizations, products, and services” (Seitel). In this class, examples of these have already been brought to our attention, we were just oblivious: creating YouTube videos, product placements, celebrity sponsors/spokesperson, etc. Since the task at hand is to identify a national- or international- brand that executes integrated marketing communications, only one shot through my mind: Red Bull.

(Image displayed is credited to Mark Hogan’s article on WordPress.)

     It all started from one man, Dietrich Mateschitz. Red Bull has already been around for 25 years, believe it or not. Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz created the drinks formula back in the mid 1980’s. A couple of years later on April 1st, 1987, the brand was officially put on the market and sold in its very own home in Austria. This wasn’t just an average beverage Mateschitz came up with, creating a new product; this was the start of an entirely new product category. Since it’s first day on the market, more than 35 billion cans of Red Bull have been consumed and it is available in more than 165 countries (redbull.com).

Since 1987, integrated marketing has changed drastically and has become highly innovative; it’s also pertinent for your brand’s survival. The 21st century version is online marketing, television brand integration, buzz marketing, television and movie product placement, song placement, and sports team sponsors. Red Bull is on top of each and every one.

Red Bull has completely revolutionized online marketing and has taken social media by storm. As of November 2012, their Facebook page alone had 34 million fans, and stands ahead of Hogwarts hero Harry Potter, McDonalds, and Starbucks. They’re the second highest beverage company on Facebook, behind Coca-Cola.  “Even though Red Bull has been credited with inventing the energy drink industry, they do not sell you an ounce of it” says Pablo Davidov, writer for Americas Internet Marketing website. If you look closely at their marketing, they sell you adrenaline, they sell you action, they sell you passion (Davidov). Red Bull gained huge recognition on October 14th, 2012 for sponsoring Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner perform a record-breaking skydive from near-space down to Earth. They were mocked for “wasting” their money due to weather conditions, but they pulled it off and captured over 8 million viewers on YouTube. In turn, they broke the record for the most watched live streaming event on YouTube.

(Image displayed is credited to Brian Kotlyar’s article on Dachis Group blog.)

     Integrating their brand into the “fabric of what is presented on the television screen” has never been a challenge for Red Bull. Red Bull has always been known to sponsor athletes in extreme sports like snowboarding, motocross, skateboarding, and surfing, so they’re logo is seen everywhere when you turn on a game in those fields. However, they even have their own TV series available to stream right from their website. Snowboard Chronicles is one of their featured shows and they travel all around the world with professional snowboarders and learn about their unique boarding styles. Aside from their own TV series, their brand is featured a lot on MTV’s show, Wake Brothers.

     Buzz marketing, more commonly known as word-of-mouth, coincides with Red Bull’s integration on the MTV show, Wake Brothers. The show is about the life of two professional wake-boarding brothers that live together in Florida. They live a lavish life and are either wake-boarding or partying. Both have a huge fan base, which only helps Red Bull. In almost every episode, they’re wearing clothes or hats from the numerous sponsors they have, one being Red Bull. It promotes their brand and fans are influenced to buy anything that has to do with Red Bull. They also only distributed to 8 U.S. territories initially, putting any others wanting it on a waiting list. This made their product and brand exclusive, while also maintaining its credibility and uniqueness.

Red Bull has marketed themselves quite cleverly through television and movie product placements. When Comedy Central introduced its adult cartoon show, Shorties watchin’ Shorties, Red Bull was one of the consistently featured brands. Some other TV shows the brand has been featured or mentioned in is Reno 911! and The Office. Red Bull is also very good with movie product placements. In addition to the TV shows the brand has been in, some movies include: Superbad, Disturbia, Baby Momma, Yes Man, The Ugly Truth, Hot Tub Time Machine, and most recently Flight: A Snowboard Film.

     Sports venues today are almost always named after the sponsor that pays for it, and Red Bull has had this opportunity. The New York Red Bulls, the Major League Soccer franchise, paid more than $100 million for the integrated marketing privilege (Seitel). They have even “branded” their own sporting events: Infiniti Red Bull Racing. Red Bull Racing is one of two Formula One teams, both being own by Red Bull. When you have your own sports team sponsored for, what other advertisement do you need?

What else does Red Bull have? Their own music academy. No need for song placements here. Red Bull music academy consists of two groups of 30, ranging from DJ’s to all-around musical mavericks, that travel the world each year for two weeks at a time. An energy drink company that has their own music academy definitely proves just how times are changing. It also exemplifies just how innovative and current Red Bull remains.

The video displayed is credited to YouTube.

Davidov, Pablo. “Red Bull Marketing: A Revolution.” Americas Internet Marketing. N.p., 29 Nov 2012. Web. 12 Jun 2013. <http://americasinternetmarketing.com/red-bull-marketing/&gt;.

Sieczkowski, Cavan. “Felix Baumgartner Red Bull Stratos High-Altitude Skydive Rescheduled.” The Huffington Post. N.p., n. d. Web. 12 Jun. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/felix-baumgartner-red-bull-stratos-space-jump-date-time-live-blog_n_1958490.html&gt;.

Kumar, Arvind. “Buzz Marketing Success Story.” Experience. N.p.. Web. 12 Jun 2013. <http://s2b.experience.com/alumnus/article?channel_id=advertising_marketing_pr&source_page=additional_articles&article_id=article_1128702070987&gt;.

Connection #6: Personal Branding Like a Gollum

There are numerous guides and tips out there to help public relations professionals, entrepreneurs, and organizations with personal branding. Most of them are almost identical because there are only so many ways in which you can write about one thing. As I was searching one of my new favorite sites, Social Media Today, for an interesting article, I came across Anna Rydne’s titled The Gollum Guide to Personal Branding. She quickly changed my view on that and brought an entirely new light to the topic.

Maybe it’s because I am a fan of the completed movie series Lord of the Rings, but her creativity in tying together Sméagol- the infamously creepy gollum in the film- and his personality traits with how one should approach personal branding was refreshing. Rydne’s six step guide perfect for any scenario: whether you are starting fresh or brainstorming new campaign ideas. To any fellow bloggers or classmates that aim to pursue any career in public relations- lets face it, any career period- you might want to take note.

personal branding tips

(Image courtesy of Anna Rydne’s article.)

     Now, the first step might sound odd at first, but it’s easily interpreted: be human. “Gollum is a real character. He does not only evoke a single emotional response such as annoyance, pity, disgust, fear, suspicion or hate; he evokes a full-spectrum response that involves all those feelings and more” (Rydne). One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make is appearing as the perfect one. It is sensible to own up to any mistakes or miscommunications (i.e. where the PR professional comes in) to your clients or consumers immediately and professionally before they find out. If you don’t take responsibility to do so, you may lose them along the way and your brand can suffer.

How this can help your brand is by you simply being human. Share your own stories, experiences, and struggles you have had along the way; this will make you more relatable to your clients or consumers. To stand out and be heard, especially online and through social media, you have to realize perfect doesn’t exist. To be credible online, you must show your unique personality: your story, your quirks and your thoughts. Everything that makes you the one you are” (Rydne).

The second step, and most infamous for Sméagol, is identifying your precious. Just as a writer has to have a focus in a story, there must be a focus or a goal you strive for as well. By doing this ensures you never lose the purpose of your personal brand. Did Sméagol ever stray away from his precious? Absolutely not; he always had his eye on the prize. You could be promoting yourself through a unique video resume or interviewing with a company you long to work for the old fashion way; no matter which way, you need to have a focus. It gives you a stronger appeal and shows the company you have passion.

Step three is finding your own way: “By finding your own way of doing something that sets you apart from other people in your field of expertise, you’ll stand out and make yourself known for being highly creative” (Rydner). Mentors, professors, and even my parents have always passed on this piece of knowledge to me. Find what sets you apart from all the rest, and embrace it. Companies go through thousands of applications, and they can all be filled with impressive GPA’s and community service hours; that’s all great to have, but you don’t want to blend in. Even within those criteria’s, find a unique twist and go with it.

The fourth step confused me at first glance: be curious. However, it goes directly hand in hand with curiosity. To be creative one must be curious. When you have curiosity, you have an interest to explore and learn. If you show this quality to a potential organization or company you wish to work for, or maybe that you currently work for, it will only be seen as positive. Taking it a step further, be curious outside of your job limitations. Get a feel for your boss and if they seem to admire it, show curiosity to new tasks that you may not have to do, but want to do. It can only better the organization to have well rounded employees that know multiple trades. Show that you’re active, and looking for creative ways to contribute.

The fifth step is sticking to your objectives. Remaining consistent is direly important. You don’t want to come into a project with enthusiasm and creative ideas, then start it and not include any of them. That’s confusing. “Consequence is very important when it comes to personal branding. People need to be able to label you and to understand what you stand for” (Rydner).

Alas, the sixth and final step. Writing your bio in third person is highly recommended. As Dr. McArthur helps mold us as writers through our blogging here, he, too recommends using third person automatically- then thinking of if it would sound better in second or first. Hearing “I” repeatedly doesn’t look the best. Embrace your own, genuine voice. That has been our main goal in this course: finding and molding our voice. That’s what keeps the readers coming back for more, and that is what will stand out to companies.

Rydne, Anna. “The Gollum Guide to Personal Branding.” Social Media Today. N.p., 8 Jun 2013. Web. 9 Jun 2013. <http://socialmediatoday.com/coskills/1520496/guide-to-personal-branding-gollum&gt;.