are newspapers slowly being phased out?

newspaper

On February 27 Rocky Mountain News published its final edition of Denver’s leading newspaper for breaking news, sports, weather and entertainment.  The newspaper that has been providing people in Denver with their news since 1859 was forced to say goodbye and close up because it just wasn’t getting the funds it needed to stay open. Newspapers across the country are experiencing similar problems. Other newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Post-Intelligencer are being put up for sale or will be forced to close up because they don’t have the money to keep the newspapers running. These days it hardly seems worth it to continue printing newspapers when so many people get their news online anyway.

One of the main reasons why Rocky Mountain News was forced to close was due to declining circulation. People just aren’t reading print newspapers anymore. Most newspapers have an Internet version of its newspaper. The demand for print newspaper continues to decrease especially because the Internet has made news so readily available. In a survey done by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in 2008, these days nearly everyone who wants to get news goes online for information (92%).

We are now in transition from traditional media to a new kind of media-social media. Blogs and online newspapers are a couple places that people are getting their news from. Blogs tend to be more interesting and conversational than traditional newspaper, which is written very matter-of-fact. Blogs are becoming increasingly popular for several reasons. People trust blogs. Personal bloggers have no hidden agenda; blogging is just a way for them to voice their opinions. Blogs give people insight and different angles on news and information.

Image from Flickr by LondonSLR

Add comment March 12, 2009 marlafederman

give the guy a break

jason-mes

I love Melissa. I love Molly. I love Melissa. No I love Molly. The outcome of ‘The Bachelor’ has caused quite an uproar with the show’s female fans. In the season finale of ‘The Bachelor’, Jason Mesnick proposed to Melissa, the beautiful brunette who was everyone’s favorite. Then weeks later Jason publicly dumped Melissa for Molly. Ouch. Fans, mostly women, were not happy. On Facebook, statuses read things like “Jason Mesnick- what a jerk” and “My heart just broke, poor Melissa.” YouTube was full of videos with girls giving Jason a piece of their mind as well. What he did upset a lot of people.

I agree that what Jason did to Melissa was humiliating and very sad, but in case you guys are forgetting ‘The Bachelor’ is a reality show. These people are being paid and coached by the director. Most of the girls on this show and others just want the spotlight and want to be on television. Honestly, I bet most of the girls on ‘The Bachelor’ didn’t even care about Jason. And that’s how it goes. Directors for reality shows pick attractive or people who they feel will bring drama to the show, because drama is what makes these shows entertaining. There is not much difference between reality shows and a show like Friends. The actors are paid in both, well not very well in reality shows, but they are still paid. Though the lines themselves might not be scripted, everything else that happens in the show is closely guided in whatever direction the director wants.

I think that Jason really cared about both girls in the end of the show, but his producers were urging him to choose Melissa, because it would make a better ending. Some people may say that Jason was messing with Melissa’s emotions by saying the things he said to her, but if Melissa was really searching for true love, the last place she should have gone is a reality show. Come on, what did you expect? These shows have direction, you aren’t necessarily able to do what you want, which is why I never understood why these shows are called reality shows because they far from reality. 

I think the fact that he dumped her on public television was what really got people riled up. But he didn’t really have a choice. He was forced to break up with Melissa publicly by his contract. That sucks but that’s reality show life. Please don’t find me heartless, I do feel bad for Melissa. I just think that Jason was genuinely confused and forced into decisions he didn’t really want to make by producers of the show. If these two people really wanted to find true love, they shouldn’t have gone looking for it on a show. It’s hard to sympathize because reality shows are for entertainment, and I don’t find them a lot different than a show like Friends.

 

Image from Flickr by ScandalousHousewife

Add comment March 12, 2009 marlafederman

is twitter really useful?

twitter-birdI was recently instructed to set up a Twitter account for a public relations class as a way to start building my social media footprint. When I first starting tweeting, or posting updates on twitter I wasn’t sure what the purpose of this social network was. Now I understand why Twitter is such a useful tool. However, I do think that Twitter is a bit noisy. Noisy meaning that there is a lot of pointless information being passed around Twitter, mainly personal updates. The idea of people being able to tweet every random thought and give an update each hour what you are doing is annoying and unnecessary. I mean, no offence but who cares what you ate for breakfast, or that you have a lot of homework or that you are stuck in traffic? I know that sounds insensitive, but there are probably few people who are actually interested in what you are doing each hour of the day. Having people constantly updating their status on Facebook is enough. If I really am dying to know what my friend is doing I will call them. I think Twitter would be a better tool without all of the extra useless chatter.

Aside from all the nonsense updating, I think that Twitter is a great tool that has a lot to offer everyone. Twitter is a great tool for networking and making new contacts within your field of interest. I think Twitter is also a great place to discover new information. People are constantly posting, or tweeting interesting links to all sorts of things like an article they found intriguing or a breaking news story. Twitter is a great tool for circulating information and ideas. Some people will post job and internship opportunities on Twitter, which is very helpful for students who are graduating soon.

Another rather unique way that Twitter is being used is to provide live updates of events that would otherwise be difficult to come by. The Baja 1000 off-road racing event is an example using Twitter to connect fans of off-road racing with live updates. Jason Falls tweeted from his mobile phone to provide coverage and communication about this event.  The Baja 1000 is a racing event that takes place in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and the race usually run 18-26 hours, so a televised report of this race would be rather difficult. The fact that people can send Twitter updates via a mobile phone makes Twitter a very convenient tool, especially for the Baja 1000 race.

Though many people have caught on to the many ways that Twitter can be used to their advantage and to the advantage of others, some people are still missing the point. Back in September a reporter, Berny Morson, used Twitter to provide coverage of a three-year-old child’s funeral. News organizations have been using Twitter to provide coverage of political conventions and sporting events, but a funeral? Come on have some respect. A funeral is a very private event and the reporter had no right publicizing it. In another case surgeons used Twitter to post live updates during an operation to remove a kidney tumor. Again, extremely unnecessary, and maybe illegal? Surgery is very personal and people have the right to expect that if they are having an operation that the details of that operation will remain confidential. You can’t just post updates on Twitter about a surgery. First, that is personal. And second, ewww. Who wants a play-by-play update of surgery anyway?

These examples illustrate the importance of knowing what is appropriate to post on Twitter and what is not. When in doubt, don’t tweet anything that wouldn’t be televised. 

 

Image from Google Images

1 comment March 4, 2009 marlafederman

how do organizations create a strong reputation?

CB043510Reputation is built by what people experience, hear and read. It is important that organizations work hard  to provide customers with a positive experience with their products, services and also their employees. It is equally important for an organization to be sure that all information about its organization is accurate and up to date. Organizations can create a strong reputation through their employees, their image and through social media.

 One of the most important ways for a company to create a positive reputation is through its employees. According to Managing Partner of Reputation Institute and Director of U.S. Operations, Kasper Neilson:

 “In order to achieve a favorable reputation, companies must first look to the inside- to their employees.”

 Employees are the ambassadors of the company. They are the ones who are interacting with stakeholders and customers each day. Their actions reflect on the company- in either a good or bad way. Employees can be thought of as the middleman between the company and customers. The employee will communicate information from the CEO to customers, and vice versa. For example, if customers have a concern or suggestion for the company, customers will tell the employee, and the employee will pass the information onto his or her CEO through the employee’s intermediate manager. Every company should have a set of values and guidelines to follow that are consistent throughout the organization. This helps keep everyone on the same page and up to date with company policies. Having consistency is important because it helps to build credibility for a company, which in turn helps to strengthen the company’s reputation.

 Image is also a very important part of building a company’s reputation. In a quote I found in an article discussing ways to build a reputation, George Ludwig states:

 “Visual credibility plays a huge role in building a great reputation.”

 I totally agree with this quote. Let’s say that a customer sees a messy office space or a cluttered store, or maybe even an employee dressed in ratty jeans and a t-shirt. The company is probably going to lose credibility and maybe even some respect from that customer. A great example of how poor image can ruin a company’s reputation is the devastation of a Kohl’s store in Dallas, Texas. A man was shopping at Kohl’s and the store literally looked as though a hurricane had just passed through. There were clothes all over the floor, and broken shelves buried under heaps of jeans. The store was a complete disaster. The man decided to take pictures of the store with his camera phone and post them on the internet. It doesn’t say much for the company if it is going to allow one of its stores to look like this. It is important for people to know that companies care about their  customers and take pride in their own company; Kohl’s clearly did not seem to care about its company or its customers. On the other side of the spectrum, if a customer interacts with an employee who is professionally dressed and is helpful and polite, the customer will place more trust in the company. It is easier to build a strong reputation for your company if the overall appearance of the company is professional (clean and organized office spaces and stores,  and well -dressed and polite employees).

 Social media is becoming a popular place for businesses to reach out to their customers. Using various social media outlets such as blogs or twitter is a great way for businesses to find out what customers wants and needs are. Companies who write an organizational blog or create an organizational twitter account can interact with customers and learn about potential problems or concerns with their company, and fix problems immediately by directly addressing the person or organization that expressed the concern. One thing to keep in mind when either blogging or twittering or using any number of social media outlets, is to be transparent. Transparency is so important. It helps to build credibility. It also shows customers that your company isn’t trying to hide anything. Being transparent helps customers to trust company, which builds a strong reputation. Also, an organizational blog can be an effective tool not only for informing customers about products or crises, but it would be a useful way for the CEO of a company to communicate with employees.Whether it be to inform employees of a crisis, and the company’s plan to deal with the crisis, or to provide employees with valuable information about the company to expand their knowledge about the company. 

 

Image from Corbis

 

Add comment March 4, 2009 marlafederman

the truth about fat burner pills

nofatburners

Every day a new diet pill or fat burner pill is introduced to the market promising to melt away fat with minimal effort. “Lose 20 pounds in two weeks! And you don’t have to work out at all and you can eat anything you want!” HA, yeah right! Most people would find bogus claims like this ridiculous but there must be people out there who believe them because the diet and fat burner pill industry is still going strong. I guess because so many people are fixated on having a perfect body, many will turn to fat burner pills. 

But the one thing most people don’t know is that fat burner pills are extremely dangerous. Ephedrine, aspirin, and caffeine are the three main ingredients in fat burner pills. Ephedrine, for those of you unfamiliar with this highly illegal drug, is the main raw ingredient for the formulation of methamphetamine. Just that right there should be a red flag. Ephrendrine if used by the wrong person, or the wrong dosage could result in death. Fat burner pills cause anxiety, heart palpations, and could cause seizures in some. The pills increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Need I go on?

Fat burner pills are not regulated by the FDA and companies can and do put whatever they want into the pills. So many people dying to try the newest diet pill fads actually believe that woman in the advertisement lost 50 pounds using the diet or fat burner pills. Um no way. The women in most of these advertisements are paid models who have probably never even tried diet or fat burner pills. 


Add comment February 25, 2009 marlafederman

astroturfing: abusing social media

2663206809_e8e0ef88b3

Consumers tend to trust reviews and recommendations found in social media over traditional advertising. In a blog post about who consumers trust in social media,  Jeremiah Owyang states that 60% of people trust consumer product ratings and reviews more than they would  trust corporate blogs. I think that  people are more likely to trust each other than the media for several reasons. People have a hard time trusting advertisements because they know that advertisements are meant to persuade, and not necessarily inform people about a given product or service. People also know that companies want consumers to buy their products so they will say whatever it takes for people to purchase their goods. The fact that many people are aware that companies are trying to sell their products to them makes people more apt to get their information from fellow consumers who are just like them and whose opinions they trust.

 It seems that many companies have caught onto the idea of blogs and social media being very influential in the decisions of consumers. Businesses now understand that their messages are more likely to be heard if people hear the messages from a friend or consumer.   

Some companies had a great idea (or so they thought) on how they could reach their audiences. Companies would pay consumers to write and rave about  their products in order to create buzz about products, which businesses hoped would lead to more revenue. This is called astroturfing. Astroturfing is a bad marketing practice of companies who organize fake grassroots enthusiasm for various products and services. 

Just last month, a Belkin employee wrote a blog post offering $0.65 to anyone who was willing to write positive Belkin reviews on Amazon.com. A couple people took him up on his offer and started raving about products they hadn’t even used on Amazon.com. A blogger exposed the scam and of course the media got a hold of the story and the whole thing blew up. Tisk tisk Belkin. Honestly though, the Belkin employee should have known that if he was going to blog about his plan to astroturf that he was bound to get caught. 

Astroturfing not only turns out bad for the company using it, but now because businesses are using social media outlets for astroturfing, the credibility of social media could be at stake. The one thing that social media has that many other media outlets lack is transparency. People trust reviews and recommendations they read online because they assume the reviews were written by peers. What happens when people start to lose faith in the information in social media? Then where will they turn ? People involved in social media for the most part work hard to build a positive reputation and gain credibility. When these businesses come in with their lack of transparency, it makes people skeptical of what to believe on the web. 

 

Image from Flickr  by Fahara

 

 

Add comment February 25, 2009 marlafederman

social media is here to stay

group_holding_hands5Social media is farely new to me. On January 5, 2009 I walked into my PR advanced writing class not knowing anything about social media aside from having my own Facebook account. Now 7 weeks later… I have a Twitter account, a PR Open Mic account, my own blog on WordPress, a LinkedIn account and a pretty good understanding of what social media is. I am no social media expert quite yet, but each day I am learning something new and exciting about social media. It is a whole other world.

For those of you who are as new to this as I am, in simplest terms social media is integrated technology combined with social interaction. Social media provides everyone with a place to discuss and share information. Social media are relatively cheap tools that enable anyone to publish and access information. Some of the technologies in social media are Myspace, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, and LinkedIn;  just to name a few.

Who uses social media? Everyone can and should take advantage of the many opportunities that social media has to offer. Students can use social media for networking and looking for jobs. Social media is also extremely beneficial for companies. Companies can monitor what is being said about them on the web. In an earlier post I mentioned an excellent application that makes it easier to monitor your companies and clients. Also, companies can build relationships with their customers through blogs, social networks, podcasts and many other social media tools. Social media is such an important and useful tool for everyone that I don’t see it going away anytime soon. 

Here are some great links that can help you better understand the importance of social media and where it’s headed:

11 Reasons You Can’t Ignore Social Media in 2009

Predicting the Future of Social Media 

Social Media’s Future Looks Bright, Apply Sunscreen

Understanding “Social Media”

 

Image from lovingtelaviv.wordpress.com/ page/2/

1 comment February 18, 2009 marlafederman

the octuplet mom

8babies4Ah the infamous Nadya Suleman. On January 26, 2009, 33-year-old Suleman from California gave birth to octuplets. Before the octuplets were born, Suleman already had six children; three of which have special needs. Suleman is single, unemployed and barely able to care for her six other children. Why she felt she needed another child is beyond me. In an interview with Ann Curry, Suleman confesses that the reason she wants so many children is to make up for her lonely childhood. Her first 6 children, as well as her eight most recent were conceived through in vitro fertilization provided by Dr. Michael M. Kamrava. Suleman has no job and no money, so guess who is going to end up footing the bills for this woman and her 14 children? California taxpayers. It’s no wonder this case has generated so much heat. First of all, this woman is selfish, deluded and clearly unfit to have this many children. Second, because of Suleman’s irresponsible choices, the residents of California are stuck paying for Suleman and her children. Lucky them.

 When I first read about this story on a USA Today blog it sparked my curiosity to want to learn more about this case. I knew that there had to be more to the story. I came across a post on Sprocket and Company’s blog called Trials and Tribulations that gave a long, detailed review of the Suleman case. The post is mainly focused on the financial aspects of this case and raised the question of whether or not Suleman is using her children to collect money. CaliGirl9, one of the bloggers for Trials and Tribulations, digs deeper into the Suleman case and discovers all of the financial aid she has been receiving. Three of her children are receiving generous sums of money each month for their disabilities. It kind of seems to me that Suleman is collecting kids to collect money.

 Who honestly wants 14 children? I know people who say that four children is more than enough. You can’t properly care and love that many children. This woman is either mentally unstable and  doesn’t realize the consequences of her actions or she is trying to use her children to manipulate the government system to reap the benefits. Or both.

 Suleman launched a website asking for donations to help support her family of 14.  Does she really think that people are going to want to help her out? Especially when California residents already have to pay her bills through their taxes.

 What Suleman needs right now is some good PR.  Suleman’s case was originally managed by Killeen Furtney Group (a PR firm), but the firm was forced to drop Suleman as a client because it was receiving death threats.  I don’t understand why any PR firm would want to take this woman on as a client in the first place. 

Here’s some public relations advice that I would offer Suleman.  I would recommend that she put the eight babies up for adoption; the babies deserve to live in a loving home with people who are able to provide for them. I would also recommend that Suleman get a job so that she can take care of her six other children. I think that if Suleman shows the public that she cares about people other than herself,  the public might be more willing to help her out until she can manage on her own. If Suleman can admit that she is wrong and made mistakes, I think the public would be more responsive and willing to support her.

 

Add comment February 17, 2009 marlafederman

StartPR: monitor your company in social media

startpr2I was browsing over all of the cool Web 2.0 applications on Go2Web20.net the other day when I came across this great social media management tool called StartPR. In my advanced PR writing class we have been discussing how important it is for companies to be well educated about social media so they can keep track of what is being said about their company in the blogosphere.

Every day hundreds of millions of people around the world are engaging in blogs and other social media networks. Many people blog about various companies, products, brands and services, which is why it is a good idea for businesses to start becoming familiar with social media.

One case that illustrates the importance of a company’s involvement in social media is the Comcast dilemma. If you aren’t familiar with this incident I will give you a brief overview of what happened. A man called Comcast because his recently installed modem wasn’t working. Comcast sent a technician to his house to fix his modem. The technician couldn’t figure out why the modem wasn’t working properly so he called Comcast for assistance. The technician spent over an hour on hold with Comcast and eventually fell asleep on the man’s couch. The man videotaped the technician sleeping on his couch and posted it on youtube. The man posted several blurbs on the video basically saying that Comcast provides horrible service to its customers. The man posted comments such as “ Thanks Comcast for long hold times…three missed appointments…for promising to call back and then not calling back…” You get the point. The man was not happy and he let everyone know it. This video was circulated around the web for several days before Comcast found out about it. This is where StartPR would have come in handy.

StartPR helps companies find, manage, and respond to mentions of their company, brand or products online. If Comcast had been monitoring the social media for mentions of its company, it would have seen the video and been able to deal with the problem quickly without accumulating so much bad PR.

StartPR helps companies keep up to date with what it being said about them in social media, and it also gives companies the opportunity to engage with bloggers and other social network users. Companies and PR firms who have several clients would probably be interested in using this application. StartPR makes it easy for firms and companies to monitor mention of their clients or company. This application is easy to use and free if you are tracking only one company, brand or product. StartPR gives you the option to receive updates by email when there is new mention of your company in social media. StartPR allows you to add as many people to the account and follow as many companies or clients as needed.

StartPR allows businesses to not only track mentions of their company on over 100 million blogs worldwide, but this program allows businesses to annotate and store the most important posts. This application is a great way for businesses to learn about potential problems quickly and address them before the problems escalate.

Image from flickr by thatjonesboy

1 comment February 11, 2009 marlafederman

Know your prospective employer before walking into an interview

interview-marla3Job interviews are scary. The minute you walk into that room you feel like the person interviewing you is judging you, and they probably are. Interviews are based on first impressions, so you better make sure that you make a good one or you can kiss that job goodbye.

Most people by now are familiar with the dress code for interviews (a pair of black dress pants and black dress shoes, a nice blouse or button up shirt, and maybe a blazer or sports jacket).

I have a few other basic rules that I follow to ensure a successful interview:

1. Don’t chew gum

2. Don’t eat during your interview. This should be a no brainer, but it happens. A prospective employer could offer you a doughnut; you take one bite and squirt… jelly all over your shirt. Besides you want to give the person who is interviewing you your undivided attention, and eating can be distracting.

3. Turn your phone off off off; better yet leave it in your car or at home. For one, having your phone ring during an interview is extremely rude, and two, it isn’t very professional.

4. Don’t talk too much. Nothing is worse than interviewing someone who blabs on and on. It is important to keep answers short and on topic.

5. On the other hand, don’t talk too little. It is really hard for the person interviewing you to get to know who you are when you are answering questions with one word answers. You don’t have to talk forever (in fact, don’t) but do make sure that you are fully answering questions.

6. Don’t badmouth your previous employers. Not only is it unprofessional, but the person interviewing you may be afraid that if you were hired, you would speak badly about his or her company as well.

Now that we got all the nit picky details out of the way, on to the one thing that, assuming you followed all of my basic rules, could make or break your interview. The biggest mistake you can make is going blindly into an interview. By blindly I mean walking into an interview without the slightest clue or with very little knowledge about the company you are interviewing with. The other day I came across a great blog post by Leo Bottary that really highlights the importance of researching and knowing everything you can about your prospective employer before the interview. Bottary makes a great point about the significance of asking questions in an interview. “By asking questions that are above the basic and beyond the obvious, you’ll save time, [and] impress your client…” Bottary works for a public relations agency and discusses the importance of knowing your client.

What Bottary says holds true for job interviews as well. In order to stand out, you really need to leave a lasting impression on the person who is interviewing you. So many people just do basic research on companies before an interview. Maybe they will do a quick Wikipedia search and get brief facts about the company, only so they can ask questions they already know the answer to. What’s the point? These companies probably interview hundreds of applicants, so you really have to work hard to get noticed. It is kind of funny to me how obviously important it is for people to know their prospective employer before going into an interview with them. Yet so many people walk into interviews unprepared. I guess the importance of doing research on potential employers sometimes gets overlooked because people are more concerned with preparing for questions they could possibly be asked instead of preparing their own questions for the person who will be interviewing them. I am guilty of this as well. I blew a great job opportunity last year because I neglected to do my homework on the company I was interviewing with.

Last year I had a great job lined up for me at the Oregon Daily Emerald, our school newspaper. I did everything right. I had a great cover letter; great writing samples; professional attire; I was attentive and I answered questions fully. But I didn’t research the company and therefore was not able to ask or answer many questions. To make things worse I wasn’t currently reading the newspaper, and they asked me multiple questions about previous issues of the Oregon Daily Emerald. I learned the importance of research quickly, and unfortunately, the hard way.

This goes to show just how important it is to educate yourself fully about every company you interview with. Learn everything you can about prospective employers so you can impress them with thoughtful questions and also so you can gain insight about their company that you didn’t find in your research.

Image from Google Images by Chubs

Add comment February 10, 2009 marlafederman

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