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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

Eating, living and breathing in beautiful Portland.

Monday, May 28, 2007

PR 2.0

Public relations is much more than media relations. However, today it seems as if it is becoming more and more a blend of marketing, advertising and communications all in one. Look up a job listing for "public relations specialist" and it will probably fall under the category "Advertising/Marketing/Public Relations." Certainly one needs to have a expanded knowledge of the social media, such as social media press releases, business blogs, Technorati, Digg This, etc...but public relations is not strictly about media relations. The purpose of the media in public relations is to act as a medium for which the PR practitioner can get a message communicated effectively to the public, to influence behavior.

Of course there are many different publics with many different messages that need to be tailored and communicated accordingly to each specific audience, which is likely why we as PR practitioners are essentially having to learn all of the social media stuff.

And I have no problem keeping up with the technology (that seems to be changing every day at an exponential rate) that's used as a medium to get a PR message communicated to an audience. The future of journalism is technology.

Labels: social media

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hi, My Name is 37 Percent Masculine

According to a recent article in The Observer, a United Kingdom newspaper, research showed that names do have an effect on people and give them a pre-conceived idea of how that person is going to behave.

The research also showed that girls with very feminine names like Isabella, Emma or Anna will more likely steer clear of math. The study conducted by psychologist Albert Mehrabian, gave the most popular girls' names taken from 1.4 million birth certificates a "femininity rating," with Isabella having the highest rating of 1.21 and Alex the lowest rating of 0.28.

My name, Ashley, is right there in the middle with a supposed predominantly less feminine view, according to this study. In other words, on a scale of 100 (although I'm not sure what the scale range was for this study because Isabella received a 1.21 femininity rating, but let's just say for the sake of normal scale increments we'll use 100) my name is 37 percent manly.

Personally, I always think of Gone With the Wind's McDreamy, Ashley Wilkes, when I think of my name as originally being masculine. One of my friends whom is a male is also named Ashley, and it honestly feels a little weird calling him by that name.

The shift in masculine/feminine names also is just a reflection of societal changes. What may have been masculine nearly 150 years ago is now a popular name for females, giving it more femininity. An example of this are the names Taylor or Morgan.

It is also true that names provide a powerful image of a person and influence peoples' reactions toward them, which is likely connected to the image of a particular person in one's memory. I know this is bad, but I would not name my little girl Christina or Jennifer because these were the names of people that I knew from childhood, which just give me bad memories.

Labels: Ashley Wilkes

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Business Blogging On Its Way Out?

I have occasionally been reading Wieden + Kennedy's blog, "Welcome to Optimism" every now and then just to see what's new in the agency with a bunch of very talented advertisers, and according to one person who I met that works at the agency, describes it as "the shit."

This is the agency that has produced many influential campaigns to the especially-important consumer marketing group, Generation Y, such as the most recent media attention-grabbing "Hondamentalism" campaign that came out of Wieden + Kennedy's London agency. And a new term was coined. I like how in journalism we are so grammatically focused and nit-picky about our writing, but we can make up words just because it sounds cool.

As a journalism student at the University of Oregon, my advanced public relations class has done some extensive studying on corporate blogging. From what we've learned, the purpose of corporate blogging is to create a distribution/syndication platform that helps to build brand identity, support marketing and public relations objectives, and most importantly from a public relations standpoint, to build mutually beneficial relationships with the client and the agent.

Many other topics can be posted on business blogs, like on W+K's, a special post titled "Drama in the Office," but mainly blogs should be a medium in which a company can get feedback from clients and consumers in general. W+K did a great job on incorporating a little PR into its post about Hondamentalism.

In my opinion blogs are here to stay, even though there are some who claim they are already on their way out.

Labels: corporate blogs

The Morphology of Facebook

For those of us who are in college and have a Facebook account, we likely have a Myspace account also. For those who don't know what Facebook is, it is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. I still remember back in the day (read: 2004) when I first opened my Facebook account and it was none other than a simple Web site where one could upload pictures, create a profile, have a comments section on his/her profile, and be "friends" with other people on this Web site. Not that one didn't have friends before, but now h/she has Facebook "friends."
The most fun was being able to "poke" someone. Not that way-geez. But just a poke, as in "Hey, I'm over here looking at your Facebook profile and I kinda wanna poke ya. Poke me back if you want to." It still is the most entertaining part of the site.

From this seemingly simple network social utility, we now have a Web site that has groups that one can join, events that are advertised and posted, notes that can be posted on what looks like a quasi-blog, and a marketplace where stuff can be advertised, similar to that of Craig's List.

The expansion of services that Facebook has to offer is not just due to an increase in new users on the Web site. It is a reflection of the morphology of the Internet as a whole. Along with Facebook, there is also Myspace (for everyone, not just college students) as well as a plethora of blogs emerging as the new trend, the blogosphere, which I just entered and started using last month.

At first when I heard about Facebook, I didn't want to have anything to do with it. I wanted to remain unknown to others until I met them in person, and found spending time on the site counterproductive. Since then, my notions have changed, and I am glad that I am a Facebooker, as well as a Myspacer, and a Blogger. To keep up with the exponentially growing technology trends, one is at a disadvantage if h/she does not have any accounts with the services listed above.

My motivation comes from the insightful saying on the back of my Yogi Tea bag from this morning, and is my advice to new users of the Web 2.0: "Keep Up!"

Labels: facebook

Monday, May 14, 2007

Trans Fat, Does it Exist?

Trans fat labeling is something that has always fascinated me. A lot of the chips, crackers, and cookies that we eat will say "0 Grams Trans Fat" or "Trans Fat Free" on the packaging, which has led me to believe that it never existed, and that it was just a powerful marketing tool directed toward the health-conscious population of society. "Zero Grams Trans Fat" it doesn't exist, right?

Trans fat is partially hydrogenated oils, which raise levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol. Products that contain fully hydrogenated oils are saturated fats, which do not contain trans fat, but are still just as bad for your arteries.

There are actually some very specific guidelines about packaging as regulated by the Food and Drug Administration that states that if a product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, it is trans fat free. Way to go FDA! So for all the other government related issues, if a politician sort of lied, does that mean h/she's not a liar? With all of the news stories and national efforts to help reduce obesity, maybe the government should reconsider its trans-fat guidelines.

The National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization recommend that a person's daily intake of trans fat be less than 1% of energy intake. According to labels on the FDA's website, there are no % Daily Values (DV) for trans fat. For example, if there is 1.5 grams of trans fat in a serving of potato chips, there is no percent daily value because the molecules of trans fat are so complicated that a %DV recommendation can not be made. However, 5 grams of saturated fat is 25% of a persons recommended intake, so wouldn't that make 1.5 grams of trans fat extremely bad for you?

Also, partially hydrogenated and fully hydrogenated oils can be used interchangeably on food labels, which adds to the confusion of whether or not it exists in a product. If in the ingredients in a product says "hydrogenated oils," we as consumers don't know whether it is partially hydrogenated (trans fat) or fully hydrogenated (saturated fat).

Trans fat does exist, even in some products that state "0 Grams Trans Fat," because the FDA allows less than 0.5 percent of trans fat existing in a product to be labeled trans fat free. Even though the FDA has implemented stricter labeling laws, we should still be conscious consumers and read labels carefully before purchasing any product. That is, if you're a health nut.

Labels: trans fat

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Should PR be a Business Major?

Absolutely not. At a recent PRSSA meeting, one of the speakers expressed his concern for the administration at the University of Oregon talking about turning PR into a business major. I feel this would be detrimental to the PR industry because business professors don't incorporate grammar-specific writing exercises into their curriculum and the students are therefore a little, umm, less fortunate in the area of writing, if that's the right phrase. I'm not speaking for everyone in the business school because I'm positive that there are some individuals who write beautifully as a business major, but then again I'm almost positive that at least one person in the business school couldn't tell a passive verb from a predicate nominative (nightmarish flashback from Grammar 101).

Moreover, there are differences that walk a fine line between business (i.e. marketing), public relations, and advertising. Marketing has sales goals, advertising has awareness goals, and public relations has behavior-influencing goals. If public relations turned into a business major, business executives would likely end up regurgitating a bunch of messages containing jargon and unclear writing.

With the rise of business blogging as a new way to create a bond with consumers, having a PR practioner to manage the blog is that much more important. According to a recent article on Yahoo news, "Writing Blogs Can Be Hard, So Get 'Help,'" growing numbers of writers and Web design firms are writing and posting blog entries on behalf of clients who want to have blogs but are poor writers. This is where our job as a public relations practioner comes in.

Let's leave the creation and effective communication of business messages up to the PR folks, and the marketing/sales strategy up to the business folks, please.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Web 2.0 In a Nutshell.

In my new found fancy for the blogosphere, I think I have found some decent explanations of just exactly what Web 2.0 is. According to Wikipedia, it is "an improved form of the World Wide Web; [...] technologies such as weblogs, social bookmarking, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds (and other forms of many-to-many publishing), social software, Web APIs, Web standards and online Web services imply a significant change in web usage" (

That's great and all with the technology jargon, but here is an even better explanation that I found hilarious: Supermarket 2.0.

Video: YouTube

Monday, May 7, 2007

Narcissist, Individualist, Who Me??

After reading a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, that suggests that our generation's ego trip could lead to volatile relationships ahead, I am a little entertained. According to the psychology report, "Egos Inflating Over Time," led by a San Diego State psyhcologist, a rising ego rush could cause problems for Generation Y individuals, in that people with an inflated sense of self tend to have less interest in emotionally intimate bonds and can easily lash out when rejected or insulted. The heightened "sense of self" was attributed to Web sites like Myspace and YouTube.

While I agree that a lot of people, mostly teenagers belonging to the Gen.Y category are somewhat individualistic, it is not just due to Web sites like Myspace and Facebook or reality TV shows. American culture is highly individualistic, as we are based on a democracy of capitalizing in areas that will only be beneficial to the money-makers of America, like large corporations.

Take Starbucks for example. On its Web site, there is a whole section with a bunch of links dedicated to their "sound" business move to offer Fair Trade coffee. And that's just the thing, they offer Fair Trade coffee, and always have it available for the caffeine addicts who love drinking coffee from the cup with the green and black mermaid, but it is not used in their everyday espresso or fresh brewed coffee. One would have to ask for a pot of Fair Trade coffee to be brewed and then wait an additional 4-5 minutes for Fair Trade coffee.
There is nothing in the promotional brochures about Starbucks' dedication to coffee farmers that says that Fair Trade products are available only upon request. Additionally, Fair Trade coffee farmers have to meet specific guidelines set by Starbucks and Conservation International before they and their communities can receive the benefits of being a Fair Trade farmer.
The bottom line here is that Fair Trade farmers have to meet specific guidelines to receive the benefits. What's more is that land in third-world countries that is highly arable is basically taken by large corporations who are capitalizing on America's societal consensus to be environmentally conscious.

It is also ironic in this report that a sociology professor at Cal State Long Beach said, "If you don't have a me-first attitude, you won't succeed." It appears that individualism is the way-to-be down in southern California, which helps contribute to America's stereotype as being an individualist nation.

My sociology professor here at the University of Oregon believes that we are entirely individualistic. He has been a sociology professor for years and was once a leader of a Vietnam student anti-war organization, the Student Democratic Society. He has formed his opinion just by examining student behavior on campus, like walking and talking on cell phones, listening to iPods when walking down the street, and even down to the fact that we are not protesting the war in Iraq. He specifically says that we just "don't care."

While this may be true for some, for others the reason for not protesting the war is that the tactics used by the police force are far more harsh than they were in the 1960s. Instead of fire hoses and batons, we now can look forward to tear gas, tazors, and rubber bullets.

In speaking with my good friend, Becky, whom used to live in apartments in the middle of greek row down at UCLA, individualists roam the streets at all hours. Down there it is okay if one answers his/her cell phone or Blackberry in the middle of a posh dinner. Also, according to Becky, employers will hire and fire without thinking twice. As a well-known photographer's apprentice, Becky was expected to work 15+ days, and if she decided to relax and work the "norm" of nine-hour workdays, she was threatened with termination.

So I guess the bottom line is that our individualistic behavior is not our fault. There are many outside forces that result in Gen. Y's egoist behavior, many of which are out of our control. My advice: live life like honeybees do, that is work together instead of with concern only of oneself.
Labels: Honeybee