Week 3-6 Summary Post

It has been a while since my last posting to my website and for that, I am truly sorry. Ever since school started back, everything has been really crazy in the world, personally, and academically. Having said this, here is a summary or recap of what has been going in my Audience & Messages class since my latest post.

My partner and I decided to do our Audience & Persuasion posts regarding his topic of religion. We wanted to go for an audience in Murfreesboro since we both attend school here, and decided to go outwards from there. We decided through demographic research that we wanted our target audience to be 25-34-year-old Caucasian females, who are married with one or more kids, and that identifies as a Christian or more specifically, Evangelical Christian. Once we found the desired demographics regarding our audience, we then decided we wanted to create a persona so we could better visualize our audience.

We then created “Carol Higgins” as our persona’s name. We created psychographics about Carol based on our research and also to better see how to interact with our audience in the best way based on their psychographic information. For example, we said that Carol loves posting photos of her 3 children on Facebook to show her friends and family how they’re doing. She also loves chatting with her friends and keeping up their lives on Facebook as well. Therefore, instead of going with our other possible platforms of reaching our audience such as radio, or television, we decided based on our research, and Carol’s persona, we decided that Facebook would be our best option. We created a fake church page called New Directions Community Church located in Murfreesboro, created solely for our project, and posted things we believed this specific church would post about. We also created an event, a ladies bible study, that we believed would be advertised to Carol if she were scrolling through Facebook, and used persuasive language in posting about the event that would encourage Carol and other women like her to come.

We presented our project this past Tuesday, and I believe we did well. However, this next project we are doing for class is way more complicated in terms of research. I am looking forward to becoming better at researching an audience and marketing towards them, but big projects like this scare me in terms of the amount of work and also the amount of stress they carry. However, Spring Break is coming, and that for now, is the shining light at the end of the tunnel right now.

 

Week 2 Progress

This week in class we discussed other topics related to our audience and how to identify them whether as numbers or as individuals. We discussed the difference between demographics and psychographics as well. Demographics being the easiest way to group your targeted audience by knowing key pieces of information such as age, ethnicity, sex, income, size of family, religion, geographical location, social media usage, and other such examples. However, psychographics looks beyond numbers to try and uncover what the audience is thinking, feeling, their attitudes, lifestyles, and motivations are. Demographics are much easier to find as a company than psychographics because psychographics you need to understand each member of your audience as individuals instead of numbers and statistics like in demographics.

We also this week in class discussed how audiences can receive certain messages from the media. For example, War of the Worlds came on the radio and caused a mass panic because everyone who listened to the radio believed they were indeed being attacked by aliens, this is an example of the “Hypodermic Needle” effect. Media messages are received by the audience and accepted, because at the time, the radio was their main source of entertainment and information.

However, as we continue through this class of Media and Messages, maybe I will be able to come up with a clearer way to describe my major and try to understand what part of communications I believe best goes along with my personal skills as a content creator.

Media and Messages – Week 1

2017 has begun! I am still furthering my education in what exactly it takes to be a New Media Communications major at MTSU, and also trying to figure out what path within communications I would like to pursue a career in. I have had Todd O’Neill as a professor before and thoroughly enjoyed his teaching so I am excited to be in his class again this year. Media and Messages is a class both Todd and I believe everyone should take because the majority of what we are learning can pertain to any field of study since communication in any field is very important. This first week we have already discussed audiences and persuasion and how these two subjects are interconnected. Audiences are very important in any field because you need to be very aware of who you are speaking to as part of a company or even a small business,  and you need to know who you are trying to reach and what your audience needs from you as a company.

I have been told that my major, New Media Communications, may actually no longer be called that in the distant future, however, I cannot remember the other name MTSU plans on calling it. I have enjoyed what classes I have had at MTSU regarding New Media, but I am also unsure exactly how to describe what my major is in fact about truth be told. I am wondering what I,as a potential content creator, want to pursue as a career in the communications field. And that is where the uncertainty settles in because communications as a major provides an array of opportunities for employment because our environment is ever changing with new job possibilities, however, because technology is ever increasing along with people’s vast ability to be self-taught in certain skills, the job market could potentially shrink.

Fake News: The Rise in Wrong

Recently on social media and news outlets, people have been talking about fake news outlets, fake news stories circulating, and hoaxes on people about unreal events. As asked in class, how can we stop these fake news outlets from spitting out bad information to the general public? Furthermore, can this problem ever be completely solved, or will be left to deal with people being misinformed forever?

There are certain sites that put out satirical news for humor and enjoyment such as The Onion. The Onion was founded in 1988 and continued to post satirical news stories in print until 2013 when they stopped printing. They have since been posting from their website http://www.theonion.com. However, since they were founded on posting satirical news, their “news” stories are not counted in the circle of bad information.

According to Emily Willingham, a Forbes contributor, says that it’s not just “middle-agers or the elderly who didn’t grow up digital. Digital natives don’t do any better, according to a recent study.” Willingham goes on to ask if we should believe we are doomed since some of these fake news sites are being backed by foreign governments and are made to look so real. She says while it would just be easier to open up people’s head and pour vital, real knowledge, we must try to come up with a “usable framework” for when people see things on their Facebook feeds, or online that they can check through to justify if it is a real, reliable source of information.

You ask but how can I find out if a source I am looking at on my Facebook timeline is real or fake? My answer? Research it more. Look to see if other news anchors or newspapers you trust are spouting the same information. If not, you may be on to something. The Washington Post posted an article a few days ago giving it’s readers a few steps to determine real news from fake with some simple steps. Tip 1: “Determine whether the article is from a legitimate website:” Tip 2: “Check the contact us page.” Tip 3:”Examine the byline of the reporter and see whether it makes sense.” Tip 4: “Read the article closely.” Tip 5: “Scrutinize the sources.” Tip 6: ” Look at the ads.” Tip 7: “Use search engines to double check.”

With these helpful tips provided by the Washington Post, you can check out those stories on your Facebook timeline, your Twitter feed, and not be fooled by these fake news stories again because now you have tools to legitimize their authenticity.

 

(The Fact Checkers Guide for Detecting Fake News Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/11/22/the-fact-checkers-guide-for-detecting-fake-news/)

(A Scientific Approach to Disgusting Real from Fake News Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2016/11/28/a-scientific-approach-to-distinguishing-real-from-fake-news/#1b833cd26920)

 

Can Bloggers Be Sued? Yes, they can.

You may have seen in the news recently that big businesses are getting sued, organizations, but what about content creators and bloggers? Can they get sued too? Yes, they can.

During the midst of election season, a 70-year-old blogger named Webster Tarpley  posted to this blog, “Where is Melania Trump? It is also widely known that Melania was not a working model but rather a high-end escort. ” Tarpley posted this 3 months ago. The Daily Mail posted similar allegations against Mrs. Trump closely following Tarpley’s blog post. Both the blog post and the publication by the Daily Mail caught Melania and her attorney’s attention. Mrs. Trump and her lawyer are wanting to sue Daily Mail and Mr. Tarpley for $150 million dollars for defamation. She and her attorney’s said, “These are some of the most inflammatory allegations possible. These are some of the most inflammatory allegations possible.” Tarpley’s attorney, John Owen, declared that his client is a political blogger who likes to discuss political matters with his audience and that he shared information that was rumored on other outlets of social media and his client felt there should be a public dialogue about the rumored past of the prospective First Lady of the United States.

Since this debate  is on-going, I do see how Mr. Tarpley wanted to question the path of the rumored past of the prospective First Lady, but I do believe that is the Daily Mail who is at fault for posting such an article without complete confidence in its accuracy.

In January 2016 in Pennslyvania,  The Standard Speaker posted that a local blogger named Mark Robbins was being sued $4,000 by former congressional hopeful Andy Ostrowski over allegations that Mr. Ostrowski was posting  “false things on his blog about plaintiff and circulating it, and other communications, widely by email and otherwise.” Ostrowski says that Robbin had  been “impugning my character, suggesting I’m involved in all kinds of illicit activities.” Robbin claimed he got his information about Ostrowski from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and stood by all of his posts about Ostrowski. Robbin claimed Ostrowski’s motives for providing counsel to a women Robin believes  “Ostrowski has no valid reason to help.” Robbin also pointed out that Ostrowski who has a suspended law license has a history of drug abuse and  that abuse may be continuing. One of Robin’s most defamatory posts was taken down, but Robin doesn’t recall having it deleted in the first place. Ostrowski says he is never one to shy away from his past, but lies and falsehoods, he cannot handle. “Robbins alleged the lawsuit amounts to retaliation against him for filing a complaint with the disciplinary board last month regarding Ostrowski’s conduct with the woman.”

Since I am not sure how this court case ended, or if it is still in motion, I do believe that public figures do need to realize that people may try to dig up their past and question motives more than others may. If Robbin’s correct in Ostrowski’s motives for this suit, and it is a retaliation for Robbin’s complaint, than Ostrowski may need to think more critically about his actions before he puts himself in a more public light in the future.

Overall, bloggers do have their right to freedom of speech, but need to be careful to share only what information is their personal opinion, but to also make sure whatever they post they can back up with proof for their statements.

Local blogger sued for defamation by attorney (Source: http://standardspeaker.com/news/local-blogger-sued-for-defamation-by-attorney-1.2000541)

Trump Lawsuit (Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/in-libel-suit-melania-trump-says-maryland-blogger-held-reckless-disregard-for-the-truth/2016/11/12/f9074a12-a76d-11e6-8042-f4d111c862d1_story.html?tid=hybrid_collaborative_1_na)

 

 

 

Live streaming: The New Thing

Live streaming has become a recently huge way to call audience through a multitude of different platforms from Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube Live, and many others. But why do we love watching live streams, or broadcasting a live stream so much? Well for me personally, I love to watch live streams of my favourite Youtubers because it allows me to somehow connect with them and the other people watching the stream. As social creatures that humans are, we like to constantly know what others are up to, and we also love to constantly show others we are in turn, up to. But why else do we live stream? To show others what we are up to, or to try to make our life seem more entertaining. I believe that it is a combination of both depending on who you are. Famous YouTubers love to live stream with their audience because it allows fans to ask questions and for them to see a little sliver into their favourite Youtuber’s life even just for 30 minutes.

Besides Facebook Live, Youtube Live, and Periscope, there are other platforms that are also available for live streaming such as YouNow, Twitch, and Meerkat.

YouNow (Free) – YouNow is a popular platform by many teenagers as well as successful Youtubers across the world. I personally have participated in a few live streams on YouNow watching Youtubers such as Danisnotonfire, AmazingPhil, and others. YouNow is known for their quick fixes should a stream freeze or shut down. In my personal experience, out of the hundreds of live streams I have seen, only 1 or 2 had major connectivity issues, and they may have been a poor wifi connection and not YouNow itself. YouNow is also commonly used because it is able to keep up the webcasts with enormous amounts of people watching, and that is something to applaud.

Twitch (Up to 8.99 a month) – while not as Free as YouNow, Twitch is another live streaming platform used by a lot of Youtuber gamers such as TheGamingTerririsor, GassyMexican, and others like them. Twitch is a wonderful way to stream and also game at the same time with little to no interruptions to your stream, a way to donate to these gamers should you wish to do so, and a subscription fee to them as another way to help them out. Personally, I have not been very well acquainted with Twitch, but it is definitely a platform that will continue to grow and expand as time goes on.

Google Hangouts (free)- Google Hangout is similar to Twitch in that users can get a notification or email inviting them to the stream where one person hosts and multiple other people can communicate through chat and video to the host. Google Hangout can also intergrate Google Voice allowing users to make free “domestic” phone calls from their computers. Although not having used Google Hangout, I have heard fr

What IS Content Strategy?

When posed with the question of what exactly is content strategy is, I would respond by replying that it’s what we post, and why we post it on social media. If we are creating something of our own, it’s also what goal you hope to achieve by creating this post. For example, if I wanted to communicate to my readers that I am someone who enjoys the Netflix original series Stranger Things, I could tweet about how I am dying for the second season to come out in 2017 by saying, “When you finish Stranger Things and have to wait till next year for season 2” and including a gif of someone rolling their eyes in disgust for having to wait that long. This tweet, therefore, communicates that I have watched the show, communicates that I cannot wait for it to return, and using Twitter, instead of Facebook, to express these feelings allows me to reach a more millennial audience who would understand my frustrations.

However, individuals personal content strategy is a similar, but different, approach than the approach that businesses need to use to promote their ideas and to attract audiences. The four main points for using a content strategy are the audience, competition, media, and trends. Your business needs to be aware of what your audience needs from you and how your content can help them personally. Any good business needs to be aware of their competition so you can keep your audience base and not let your competition get the upper hand. Media is another key point in having a content strategy because as a business you need to be constantly engaging with your audience and others through different outlets of media such as social media, or possibly television. Trends are how companies can stay afloat. By knowing what is “in” or “hip” at the current time, you can figure out the correct ways to incorporate the latest trends into your content to appeal more to your audience. However, keeping up with trends is definitely something I believe businesses need to improve on because as a teenager, I have more knowledge of when something is not trendy anymore versus a company who may still be using Harambe memes, even though they are no longer funny to the general public.

Content strategizing can be difficult for businesses because it requires a large team to uncover all of this data in order for their business to stay hip, connected to their audience, and connected online as well as off by providing content that can help their audience. However, even though all of this strategizing  is hard, that doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t put just as much effort into this research as they do into their regular everyday advertising. Finally, companies need to find better ways to improve their strategy by having clear ideas of what they’re going to be tracking, more meetings to see how each part of the company are proceeding and to see how to move forward, documenting what exactly your strategy is, and avoid R.O.T. at all costs. “R.O.T.” stands for redundant, outdated, and trivial information. Audiences won’t be engaged in information that isn’t up to date, saying the same thing over again, or something they could have figured out on their own.

Although many businesses claim to have business strategies, you often see businesses losing audience because they didn’t fully develop their strategy and ended up wasting time and money. Keep up your analytics and keep up with your audience!

 

 

How Branding Failures Can Improve

Over the years, brands have tried to come up with new and more catchy ways of advertising their company and products to seem more appealing to customers. Skittles came up with the idea that one man in their commercials should turn everything he touches into Skittles. Sounds like a good idea right? However, the commercial turns dark  when you hear the man say that he cannot hold is newborn baby boy because everything he touches turns to Skittles. Oops. Way to escalate the situation too quickly Skittles.

But Skittles isn’t the only company that has tried to ramp up their advertising only to be criticized or to have their efforts backfire. Other companies over the years have received terrible reviews over one issue or another. Here I am going to give you 3 examples of how companies branding can be beneficial, and ways in which it can be improved to its full potential.

Example 1: Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley is a well-known company that produces anything from purses, suitcases, to laptop covers as well as backpacks. They are very focused on reaching out via social media by asking people to tell them about their favorite items of purchase and asking them to hashtag pictures of their merchandise. They are supportive of Breast Cancer Awareness month by selling bags during their “Carry Pink” campaign and are very supportive of feedback about their products. However, Vera’s most recent campaign slogan, “It’s Good To Be A Girl,” could have been executed better than it was. The campaign was supposed to let women contribute on social media about why they enjoy being a girl, but instead, the campaign didn’t think that not ALL girls want to accessorize with handbags, or “belt out every lyrics to their favourite song.” Needless to say, Vera Bradley knows that THEY love about being a girl, but not considered that all girls experience being treated as a girl the same way.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/272286

Example 2: IHOP

IHOP is a wonderful restaurant that allows family and friends to enjoy a cup of coffee while eating delicious pancakes all for a low price. They are great at advertising their newest editions to the menu and having discounts for kids and seniors on a regular basis. However, recently in a Tweet, IHOP made a reference to some pancakes in a photo saying, “flat but has a GREAT personality.” Even if they were referring to pancakes attached to the tweet, that comment comes off more as misogynistic than referring to fluffy, delicious pancakes. Let’s not crack jokes at the female anatomy while trying to sell a product, shall we?

Source: https://www.printsome.com/blog/2016/marketing-failures/

Example 3: Budweiser

Budweiser has captured audiences attention from commercials about friendship at the Superbowl, to reminding audiences to stay safe by reminding people that their “Friends are Waiting” to keep people from driving home drunk. Budweiser certainly knows how to work emotion into their commercials when the time is right, but their advertising record isn’t spotless. Recently Budweiser made a rather large advertising blunder by coming up with the hashtag #UpForWhatever. An image of one of their beers reads, “The perfect beer for removing “no” from your vocabulary for the night.” How did Budweiser manage to write these words and not see the implications is beyond me. Next time Budweiser, let’s not accidentally promote date rape.

Source: https://www.printsome.com/blog/2016/marketing-failures/

Overall, most companies are very thorough when it comes to advertising and how to come up with catchy slogans, pulling us in with emotional commercials, and even catchy hashtags. However, some companies come up with ideas that may not have been the best idea and it backfires on them allowing them to reflect on their mistakes. Advertising continues to evolve and will continue to, but until we are all perfect, let’s sit back and laugh at our past and future failures.

 

 

The Key to Key Messages

Sales pitches are the pinnacle of companies no matter what size they are. Key messages are an essential part of getting your point across no matter what angle you choose to come from. Key messages are a quick way to get your point across, support your point, and tell your audience to take action depending on your message. Different issues you are trying to push need to be put forth with different types of formatting to accurately get your point across. For example, Uber telling us how their service is better than cabs by telling why they’re better, supporting that with evidence, and giving their potential customers a percentage off of their first ride by downloading their app.

 

What They Say About Us vs. What We Say About Them: This kind of arrangement allows companies, or even political candidates, to elaborate on all of the facts they can contribute about themselves about how they are better than their opponent, then following with what their opponents will say about them in their own words on specific issues. Their opponent will say their points in opposition to their opponents first claims with facts of their own about why these facts aren’t true, their side is better ‘factually,’ and add why the opposing side should have your approval rather than the other side. Both sides defending and rejecting themselves at the same time. This, once again, is used in more instances of political candidates or big competing businesses. This would not be an ideal model for companies wanting their customers to take action, or wanting to describe their idea in detail.

 

Point, Message, Support, Action: This type of pitch is the most helpful for companies trying to reel in new customers by starting off with a main point, giving their message, giving support to their idea, and then giving the audience an action after seeing all of their message. Take Amazon Prime for example:

Point: Microwaveable meals are un-tasty and lame.

Message: Heating up dinner is so boring and doesn’t taste as it should. Blue Apron is a service that sends you all the ingredients you need to make a meal, all portions already made, and all you have to do is cook it. No more having to go to pick up fast food on your way home, Blue Apron has you covered with meals ranging from 30- 1 hour. You decide how much time you have and want you want, and Blue Apron will deliver.

Support: Original Recipes:

  • “Discover exciting, seasonal recipes created by our culinary team & renowned guest chefs
  • Recipes never repeated in the same year
  • Approximately 500-800 calories per serving”

Fresh Ingredients:

  • “Specialty ingredients that are fresher than the supermarket
  • Ingredients are perfectly pre-measured so there’s no waste
  • Meats naturally raised on antibiotic- and hormone-free diets”

Convenient Delivery:

  • “Free delivery nationwide
  • Choose a delivery day that best fits your schedule
  • Ingredients arrive in a refrigerated box so food stays fresh even if you’re not home when we deliver”

Source: https://www.blueapron.com/?cvosrc=search-paid.google.brand40&gclid=CPy4i-2ssM8CFU87gQodx0EMjg&utm_campaign=brand40&utm_medium=search-paid&utm_source=google

This would not be a good model for political candidates, or for non-profit organizations.

 

Twitter: Blessing or a Curse?

Social networks have come a long way since the days of MySpace, one of the leaders of this new age of technology and social media is Twitter. Twitter officially launched on March 21, 2006, after Jack Dorsey became obsessed with this idea of “status,” letting others know what you’re up to. By fall of 2006, Twitter had over thousands of users. The Twitter that started back then has changed and morphed over the years has it has grown and expanded into what it is today.

Now, most people use Twitter to tell people their thoughts on issues or to update them on what’s happening. That has mostly remained the same but more people are using Twitter to sell products, to troll others, or to entertain, and many others. But in my personal Twitter experience, I have seen these three methods of using Twitter popping up more and more.

Selling products is a major business on Twitter whether it’s makeup, clothing, phones cases, you name it! You can probaby find a use trying to sell it. But how do you know if this account is REALLY trying to see you something, or just scamming you? You have to use your best judgement. Personally, I have known several classmates or friends to have bought something off of Twitter. My advice? Use your common sense and do your research. (https://twitter.com/BabyAnimaIPicss/status/777374042261229568)

Entertainment is more of a personal taste for what interest you personally as you can follow accounts that post tweets you find entertaining as to see those types of tweets more often. For example, I follow a lot of animal Twitter account such as @CuteOverloads which posts photos of adorable animals that make me smile as well as @BabyAnimals. I love dogs more than most people I know, so getting to see more pictures of doggies and other small animals is fine with me.

(https://twitter.com/CuteOverloads/status/777358494286618625)

Trolling has been around since the beginning of the Internet and before then. Trolling can be from photos that you have to click on a link to see, to someone tweeting a whole story about going to get a McDonald’s milkshake at 2 am like Josh Raby did in April. In my personal opinion, trolling is best when you can’t tell if it’s real or if it’s fake like in Josh’s story. (He later declared he did go get a McDonald’s milkshake at 2 am, but the rest of the story was make up) However, he got several thousands if not millions of people’s attention by developing a storyline, characters, and using strong language including some wild swear words to make it all seem more believeable. (Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/a-viral-story-of-weird-love-and-milkshakes?utm_term=.pnXqnR4kN#.ixLxZoEyN)

Whether you have seen these instances of Twitter being used to either troll, sell, or entertain,  we all can agree that Twitter has cahgned. Twitter as a whole has been morphed into a way to keep up with current trending topics, but also to connect with others, including celebrities in a more personal way. Drama, selling, crisis, trolling, entertainment, and more? Just browse Twitter.