Archive for February, 2012


The challenge of 650

I’m at the age where tattoos and piercings are a popular way of expressing oneself. Some more than others.

I think having something permanently inked on your body for your entire life means that it should represent something powerful, something emblematic… It should be a symbolize a part of your character that no one else has.

Here is where I’m going with this.

I grew up in the same house my whole life (minus the few years I was with my mom). Just like every family, we have our problems and sometimes we go our separate ways for a while. When it all comes down to it, my dad and 3 sisters will always be there for each other.

With that being said, no matter what happens, all 5 of us always end up back in our original place- 650. It’s our address, and it means more to me than anything else. It’s my home. I spent my first night of life there. I ran around the hallways stomping my little feet and wrestled on the carpets with my sisters. I learned how to ride my bike on that driveway, and played catch in my front yard. We’ve built some killer snow forts, and created some awesome chalk drawings!

These are my sissies on our front yard of 650. Taken in 2008

Of course there were times of sorrow, but these are memories that only my family can relate to. No matter how hard I try to explain what it’s like to be a part of my family, no one could ever understand.

(Okay, Dad. Stop reading!)

I know you'll still love me! Kind of like that time when I got my nose pierced and pretended it wasn't real!

Which is why I want to get a tattoo that says 650. It is incredibly meaningful; enough to be permanently drawn onto my skin. It’s a beautiful symbol that represents my life better than anything else could. It illustrates the good, the bad, and the ohso-ugly. It explains who I am today better than I could ever describe.

I love my family! No matter what, we'll always wind up together.

And even though no one will ever be able to successfully comprehend what my life has been like, they will be able to understand that 650 is where I belong, with my family, at home. It’s where I am always welcome, and I always will be.

  

 

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Always judge a story by its cover

Photos and graphics are important components of stories and news releases because they grab people’s attention and often explain things better than words. I can think of several pictures that tell stories of global events better than any journalist could. Think about the riots in Cairo, the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti.

I love checking out the GlobalPost for the best photos. They are truly worth a thousand words. Here are the 50 best photos of 2011:

50 Best Photos of 2011: GlobalPost

Some photos are quite graphic!

 

Notice how these photos are taken with a top-of-the-line digital camera to ensure maximum quality and resolution. Sure camera phones have released some newsworthy stories (i.e: plane crash on the Hudson), but these photos are much more than just informing the public. I can feel the pain, rejoice, and sorrow that the subjects are feeling in these remarkable photos.

 

A photo worth much more than "shelf life" this moving image is still used today.

 

In order to be a successful PR professional, one must have an outstanding sense of aesthetics, not just a knack for writing.

 

News features require intuition, image-making, and conceptualization.

A good feature writer is curious and asks many questions. They are able to see possibilities for the development of a feature article.

Curious George would be a feature writing guru.

There are several types of features! Some of them are even a blend of different types. I put some of my own commentary in there for some further understanding.

  • case study- “Even if you are about to be evicted and a horrible baby daddy for your kids, you can still get this useless online degree! It worked for me!”
  • application story- “indulge in this big, meaty, juicy burger at your own risk of leaving your wife for it”
  • research study- “35% of men secretly watch Gossip Girl out of their own free will. It must be good!”
  • backgrounder- “Plastic surgery has increased by $500 million in the past 3 years! Look at how much we’ve evolved!”
  • personality profile- “I don’t always agree to interview for personality profiles, but when I do, I make sure to get real personal.”
  • historical feature- “Let’s do a feature on the wheel’s anniversary of being invented! Thank you for the 5,000 years of service, Wheel! Much appreciated.”

“Feature news has an indefinite shelf life, and can be used by the media when it’s needed, not just when it’s distribute.” Business Wire

Eerily reminds me of Spam. It’s used during events such as Spam carving competitions and Spam eating contests, and it has pretty much indefinite shelf life.

woof.

Okay people. Before you read further, you must watch this video. It’s called The Girl Effect and I really think you’ll like it.

The Girl Effect

 

What do you think?

I remember when I was 12. I started to really care about my hair and I got mad when my dad threw away my jeans with the rips in them (thanks, Dad. Always lookin’ out for your girl!). I started to think boys were cute, (EW. GROSS.) and I did what ever I could to look cool.

I’m sure many girls from my generation can relate to me, but there are a whopping 50 million girls that have such a distorted 12-year-old life that they couldn’t even fathom having a life like mine.

I tried to grow up as fast as possible when I was 12. These 50 million girls who are taken advantage of by that age have no choice but to let their self-worth drown into a downward spiral of complete and utter nothingness. They are convinced to have no purpose in life but to give up their body for possible HIV infected men only to support her family that she was not ready to have.

My amazing sister, Alena, is serving in the Peace Corps in Africa as we speak. She works with AIDS/HIV outreach and also created a program for young girls to feel empowered. It’s called Camp G.L.O.W (Girls Leading Our World. Isn’t that awesome?). I have some really cool sisters. You should be jealous.

There she is! Alena's host family gave her the name Lindelwa. In Zulu, it translates to "the one we've been waiting for."

Anyway, Alena has told me many stories about the sexism that exists in her village. I know this is real. This video is not exaggerating. Actually, I think it’s downplaying what is actually going on.

I am encouraging you to donate what you can to help spread The Girl Effect whether it’s empowering a young girl, teaching gender equality, or even giving money.

This does not only affect 12-year-old girls. This affects boys, moms, dads, villages, and countries.

Be the change- Get involved!

 

My previous post discussed news releases and how brief they must be in order to even be considered. There are other basic publicity tools that are also regularly distributed for media coverage.

Fact Sheets- What do you think a fact sheet is? You guessed it. A fact sheet is a sheet with some facts. It’s really a simple concept. A list of facts in bullet form (not lethal bullets, silly goose) that reporters can uses as a reference when writing a story.

There are also the media kits (also known as press kits). These contain a variety of materials, such as photos, news releases, fact sheets, etc. It’s like a first aid kit, but for news!

I was googling some sort of first aid kit and stumbled upon a band named First Aid Kit. OH MY GOSH! AM I A HIPSTER?!

Media advisories (also known as media alerts) are used to tell assignment editors about upcoming events that they might find interesting to cover from a story, photo, and video perspective. These usually use bullet points, too! I love bullet points! So precise, and NO FLUFF!

I think... I'm turning into a PR nerd. I'm getting way too excited about the death of fluff

All they want is something easy! No, no not like that, pervs! Just write with minimal words, get the point across, and make sure it is precise.

 

News releases are tricky. We are taught to “fluff” our essays with B.S to fill up space and please our professors with a heavy load of words. I will never know why teachers enjoyed doing that to not only us but to themselves as well. I am pleased that I’m involved in PR so I don’t have to read material and then vomit everything back out on Word.

What's a better way of illustrating fluff than a child puking colorful paint? There isn't one.

Wilcox writes, “The best releases are the briefest. Too much initial data can be a turn-off. If more is wanted, it will be requested.” I believe that this is one of the most important points that I read in chapter 5 of Writing for Mass Media.

How often do you skim the newspaper or online articles and only read the headline and maybe the first paragraph? Ron Consolino, columnist for the Houston Chronicle said, “Aside from the news item itself, the most important parts of a news release are the headline and the first paragraph.” Well of course! People just don’t have time to read full stories anymore! (They do, but they wont admit it because everyone thinks their life is busier and way more difficult to handle than everyone else’s). On that note, less is more when it comes to news releases!

That goes for lip enhancements as well, JESSICA.

I recently read some stats from Monitoring the Future (MTF), which was released in 2010. MTF is an ongoing study that has been around since 1975. This most recent study surveyed 46,500 students from grades 8, 10, and 12. Further info is on www.monitoringthefuture.org.

The results were pretty interesting. Of course marijuana use has increased among teens, but I am seeing some light in this. Here’s why.

For the first time since 1981, more 12 graders are smoking marijuana than cigarettes in the past month. (That’s more than 1 out of every 5 high school seniors).

Now I’m not condoning the use of marijuana, espeically in high school, but I know for a fact that marijuana has signifiantly less long-term side effects than cigarettes. Here’s just a few professional studies and scholarly journals to prove it ( in case you don’t believe me).

Researchers from UC San Francisco and the University of Alabama compared 20-year smokers to 20-year tokers and discovered that "moderate" marijuana users suffered little loss of air flow rate or lung volume (Romero 2011).

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167629600000679

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/279/7/511.short

http://www.bmj.com/content/280/6219/972.abstract

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.86.2.253

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/26/1/1/

http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/medical_marijuana_review.html

http://www.theeffectsofweed.net/positive-effects-of-weed/

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1808

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/infofacts/marijuana

http://norml.org/library/health-reports/item/norml-s-marijuana-health-mythology

http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php

http://www.drugandalcoholrehab.net/addiction/marijuana_addiction.htm

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/dope/body/effects.html

http://www.adolescent-substance-abuse.com/substance-abuse/nicotines-effect-on-developing-teen-brains.htm

http://kidshealth.org/teen/drug_alcohol/tobacco/smoking.html

http://www.impacteen.org/generalarea_PDFs/Eff-ttePrices.pdf

http://www.iahsaa.org/Sports_Medicine_Wellness/Miscellaneous/Cigarettes_&_Teens.pdf

http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy/2007/nov/29/marijuana_better_your_lungs_toba

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/18959/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071105164453.htm

Now that that’s cleared up, I am humbled by the affects that marijuana has had on the tobacco industry. It is debated that marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs, but when weighed between cigarettes I really don’t think the chances of death are as high.

Of course there is negativity associated with the results of this research. All I’m saying is at least we are improving.

The Art of Publicity

According to Wilcox, there are three magical rules of powerful, sufficient publicity.

They must perfectly understand traditional news values.

Second, publicists must know exactly where to look for news and how to go about making it interesting to the public. Listed below are some various tactics for making news.

1. special events- Vegas, baby!

2. contests- American Idol or Coca-Cola Idol?

I get a kick out of the famous Coca-Cola cups on American Idol

3. polls and surveys- Domino’s recently switched up its style after finding out its sauce tasted like ketchup and cheese tasted fake. They even admitted it in their current ad campaign.

4. top 10 lists- The Food Network has brought me to some mouthwatering burger joints!

5. stunts- Red Bull Flutag. Risky stunts with unquestionable marketing.

6. product demonstration- Midnight viewings of Twilight/Harry Potter always made me want to lock my doors.

7. rallies and protests- Occupy Wall Street. Where hippies gather

8. personal appearances- If the Kardashians fail to show up at this new LA club, no one will write about it!

9. awards- This is where E! finds their coverage.

Third, they must be able to envision creative publicity tactics that overpower all other competing messages. With that, publicists must have a knack for problem solving. Judith Rich, now a Chicago-based creativity consultant (represent!) and former VP of Ketchem gave some tips in PRSA’s The Strategist. She seems pretty darn cool after reading some of her work.

  • My personal favorite tip from Judith Rich: Draw heavily on personal resources- remember the content of your dreams. Your unconscious may sometimes solve your conscious concerns.

Preach it, Judy!