WE’VE MOVED

HI! I’m glad you’re here. But, I would be happier if you went and visited my new and improved blog site, at this link! I decided to move away from the VT WordPress blog and go solo on WordPress itself. Just for personal preference. I started this lt.vt.edu blog as part of a class project a year ago, but I much prefer the regular wordpress.com blogging platform.

Thanks for all the comments, but please go to my new site at kristinsorenson.wordpress.com for my latest blog posts!

Chau for now!

Trick-or-Treat with Target…on Instagram!

Filters, hashtags, selfies, oh my! Everyone’s on Instagram. Even brands. But this year, Target is taking its Instagram involvement to a whole new level. This is SO creative.

According to this article by campaignlive.com, Target’s campaign is called #HalloweenHills, and is supposed to be  virtual Trick-or-Treat for users.  Naturally, I had to check this out.

 

 

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If you don’t already, go follow Target on Instagram. On its timeline are 10 pictures featuring a virtual neighborhood, with a street down the middle, to simulate Trick-or-Treating. Target uses Instagram’s tag feature to tag individual “treats” in each photo posted. Tap once on each photo to reveal either a “trick” or a “treat.” This is where the genius comes in.

Target has made individual accounts for each “trick” and “treat” tagged in its #HalloweenHills photos. Tricks are crafts, and treats are fun Halloween snacks to make for parties.

On this “street,” I chose “treat.” This led me to the _Treat_02 account, which shows users how to create a “charmingly disturbing jack-o’-lantern punch.” Each step is pictured in the most visually-pleasing way only Instagram can do. Ingenious.

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Each step has a description by Target, and the company has even replied to user questions. Awesome.

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Let’s do it again. This time, I’m visiting the Egyptian Pyramids of #HalloweenHills across from the green-glowing house with a lake…trick. Mummy Pinatas!

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This campaign was developed by Carrot Creative, and I think it’s crazy cool. I love how social media is so versatile and lends so much to creativity. It’s similar to Ikea’s Instagram catalog, where they tag their furniture and each piece has an account, but this is really cute and seasonally appropriate. Way to really think outside the box and make an interactive and unique experience for users in Instagram!

 

 

 

Financial Survival 101

In response to this opinion piece in the Collegiate Times from October 7th, 2014, I would like to support this opinion and extend the argument. Students today aren’t nearly as “financially savvy” as they should be.

Virginia Tech’s Curriculum for Liberal Education includes a wide array of course material, but like Lindsey Clark’s article  points out, classes about finance and money management are not part of it. While Lindsey argues that adding a class or two about finance is important in understanding today’s economy and how the world works, I would argue that a class on personal finance is what college students need.

I am graduating in December, have student loans, low savings, and am financially under-prepared to enter the “real world.” Why?

I’ve had jobs since I was 15, and while I also have extremely generous parents who paid for most of my college education, I never learned to be as financially responsible as I should be. My parents set up a savings account for me when I was old enough to babysit and earn money, and tried to teach me to put at least half of every paycheck into savings, so I would have it later. I did that, and saved up a good chunk of cash, which I later used to pay for college tuition.

And, while I pay my own rent and bills and buy my own food like most college students, I’m just scraping by. I have two jobs but am not making money and am definitely not saving any. All the money I’ve earned working during my summers has been spent, because I haven’t managed it wisely.

I’m not blaming anyone but myself for my own poor money management, but I wish my high school or Virginia Tech had required a personal finance course so I could get “the big picture” early on.

It’s really easy to spend money when you have it-or think you do. For me and my summer jobs especially, I felt like I was rich, working so much and making so much! In turn, I spent too much. I didn’t think about the “boring stuff,” like how much I would need for rent for the upcoming semester, or how much I would have to spend on food each month, or even about that dreaded semester textbook bill. I didn’t budget. I didn’t save. I didn’t want to think about it, so I didn’t. But I should have.

A personal finance course in college would hopefully be successful in instilling a smart money management mindset in students. It would teach us how to budget, how to set aside money for savings, how to be prepared in case of an emergency, and how to not spend all your summer’s earnings before summer is over. Like Lindsey says too, it would teach us about world finance and the stock market. But most of all, it would prepare students to be able to get on their feet financially after graduation. It’s a life skill we all need.

 

Ello?

“Simple, beautiful, and ad-free.”

ello

Have you heard of this new social media site? Ello is supposed to be the “Facebook killer.” Its purpose seems to be creating a public space online for users to interact and share status updates, photos, and information with each other, but without the one thing nearly all social media sites have and everyone hates- ads.

Ello’s is proud of its “manifesto”- an anti-ad, anti-product mission statement of theirs. It wants users to break free of the holds today’s technology and consumerism in the form of tracking cookies and marketing trends and flashy advertising has over them.

Personally, I think it’s annoying when websites are plagued with advertisements, and even a bit skeptical (read: creeped out) by ads showing me products related to my Google searches. There are arguments out there that state advertising has gone too far, that it’s becoming too intrusive. Especially on sites like Facebook, where a great population of people and consumers are.

But will enough users make the transition from Facebook to this new site?

Ello is currently in Beta mode, and is “invite-only.” While not just anyone can create an account yet, certain public profiles are visible. They are, of course, pretty empty, as there is no interaction (yet, I guess.)

My first impression? It’s cold. It’s gray. It’s a “manifesto,” which seems to me a word much too strong for a new social media site. I did request an invitation to check it out, but I won’t be offended if it doesn’t arrive.

manifesto

What do you think? Will you go Ello?

NRV Bridal Showcase

A big part of PR is event planning, and I’m so excited to be part of my first “big event!” Although I had no part in the actual planning stages, I will be volunteering at the 5th annual New River Valley Bridal Expo this Sunday September 28th. This is a charity bridal event, with proceeds going to Brides Against Breast Cancer. Vendors from all over the area will be coming to the Inn at Virginia Tech at 8am this Sunday and taking over the entire ballroom at the Inn. In case you’re not familiar with the place- it’s huge. The brides will arrive at noon and get to sample a little bit of everything wedding related- from rings to party favors, they’ll have it all! There will be dresses, modeling, accessories for sale, and lots of food.

I met with the President and Founder of New River Bridal this evening. As a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), those of us working for “the firm” (Ut Prosim PR!) will be working with Marivic Gallimore directly to help with their public relations efforts this year. Marivic- a certified wedding planner and event coordinator- is very welcoming and excited to have PRSSA working with her company. I’m grateful for the opportunity to gain some experience, as well as simply being part of such a big event locally!  I hope to follow up later on how the expo goes. For now, take a look at NRV Bridal’s social media pages, and check out this video from the bridal expo last year!

 

NRV Bridal Expo-Facebook

NRV Bridal on Twitter

 

Metrics matter

In class today, my group read an article about how the top 100 colleges in the world utilize Facebook and other social media platforms. The conclusion was that nearly 60% of colleges and universities did employ use of the social networking sites, but were not doing so in an effective manner. It turns out that even a few years ago, top schools using Facebook were having issues understanding how exactly to engage with their target audience. Some did not even allow users to comment or post material.  How were they thinking about engaging in a dialogue with their audience if they only allowed for one-way communication? As we delve into our social media research, it’ll be important to stress the usefulness of engagement and how our client can have a conversation. Then, we’ll have to track progress and see what’s working and what isn’t. This is a great article from PR News that lists six helpful tips to keep in mind about metrics.  Here are a few of them and my thoughts of how to incorporate these metric-watching tips into our projects:

  • Frequency of conversation. It’s important that CLAHS be involved in trending topics and events, and responds to people who tweet, message, or post to them. Being active and posting more than once weekly or when there is a big event lats followers know that they’re engaged and actively participating in what’s happening now.
  • Most active influencers. Many students are influencers, both on and off social media. They would serve as great brand ambassadors for the college if they got involved with its social media. CLAHS could do a similar setup to Virinia Tech’s “I’m a Hokie” Twitter account, and have students from each college tweet about their experiences. This may garner more interest in current students to follow and interact with CLAHS online.
  • Tonality of share of voice tone. Finding the voice! This will probably be the most challenging part for CLAHS, as the college houses so many different departments. It may take a while to find this voice, because it also has three distinct target audiences, but when it does, I feel the connection will be great.

9/11: How I Remember

On this 13th anniversary of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, we reflect on that somber day, and how it changed us as a nation. We honor all those who we lost on that day, not just in New York, but in Pennsylvania and in DC at the Pentagon as well. We look back at the victims, the first responders, those who were there, those who helped. Thirteen years. Every year since, there have been numerous posts on Facebook and social media about the terrorist attacks- some patriotic messages, some prayers, some personal stories, some quotes. This year, the thirteenth year, I’ve seen a new type of post. “How to talk to your children about 9/11.” Children born on that day are now teenagers, and post-9/11 babies are obviously too young to even know about or understand it. Thirteen years, and it’s still as poignant as ever for many Americans. Here is to never forgetting.

It was gym day at school. Our Lady of Greenwood didn’t have a gym, but it did have a multi-functioning cafeteria, so we went there to play basketball and other indoor sports. If it were nice, we would play outside. 

To go to gym class, we had to make a double-file line in the hallway and walk neatly down the hall, across the school. I was on the outer edge of the line exiting Mrs. Mattingly’s classroom. Mr. Jester-the old computer teacher everyone was mildly afraid of- had his computer lab a few doors down the hall from my fourth grade room. Visible from the open door was his huge TV screen, which I remember thinking took up the entire wall. The line stopped, and Mr. Jester came out to talk to Mrs. Mattingly. I looked through Mr. Jester’s door to saw smoke and destruction on the tv screen, and remember being excited. Something happened. But what?

Because it was September and we were in Indiana, it was tornado season. Naturally, the teachers were talking about how we should take cover- just another tornado drill- because it was probably in our area. Just another tornado drill, I guessed.

I wish I remembered more about that exact moment in line, but my memories are shrouded with stories I’ve since heard from other people that I can’t say are my own, so I’ve lost what I was thinking in those moments. I don’t know if we ever made it to gym. I do remember an announcement coming on over the loudspeaker that day- a message about students going home early. Bad accident. Plane crash. New York. Not a tornado. 

Mom came to pick us up in the family’s 1997 Suburban- “the purple truck,” as we call it. I remember thinking that Dad had a business trip that day and that he was on a plane somewhere, but Mom assured us he was fine. Minnesota, I believe, was his destination. 

When we got home, the news was on and all I remember was seeing two very tall buildings in New York engulfed in flames, and people everywhere were upset. I had a friend in Georgia, Syneva, whose dad was a pilot. I dialed long-distance to check up on her; her dad was safe.

I don’t know if my mom talked to my brother and me about it, or if I just sat there and watched the news. I remember being excited- unsure of what exactly was happening- but feeling like something important was, and that I was experiencing history.

History. That’s what I loved. I knew this was going to make history. I remember retreating into my room that night, and pulling out crayons and a few sheets of printer paper. I began drawing. I wish I had saved what I did (I threw it away when my family moved to Virginia two years later), but I do still possess a vivid mental image of it. I had drawn the Twin Towers, covered in flames, a plane, and a man jumping off the side of it. I wrote “Dear journal, you are not just a page of my diary. You are marking an important part of history. September 11, 2001.” I had seen footage of the man throwing himself off of the burning building. It had impacted me so much that I needed to understand it, why all this was happening, for what reason. But I was a fourth-grader. I didn’t. How could such a thing happen? Drawing that picture-which admittedly terrifies me today- was my way of processing those horrific events.

Thankfully, I had no family or friends directly involved in those terrorist attacks. But after that horrible day, my heart went out to all of them. Every year, I find and read stories of loss, of life, of faith, of love, of patriotism, of hope. Even though I was so young, and so physically far from the attacks, the events of that day still impacted me, and continue to do so. I never visited the Twin Towers, nor have I seen Ground Zero, but I would like to.

How will I talk to my future children about 9/11? They won’t draw pictures in their journals of what I saw on the news that day. They’ll read about it in their history books, and it will be on their tests. They’ll need to understand it, and how it has made us Americans a strong people. And that we are proud to be American. And that evil does exist in the world, but so does good and so does love. And while my story is menial, it’s how I experienced one of the saddest moments in American history. And every day I am thankful to be where I am, and can only pray that such a day as this will never recur.

Let us never forget. 

Gettin’ Social With It

Hey hey blog world! So I’ve been reading this cool new book called The New Rules of Marketing & PR, by David Meerman Scott. In his first couple chapters, he defines the “old rules” of public relations. Among them is one which I would like to argue is still quite important. Especially when it comes to the new world of fleeting messages on social media.

This old rule reads “creativity was deemed the most important component in advertising.”  Scott goes on to say that perhaps the new most important component is interaction. I would like to qualify with that and say that there wouldn’t necessarily be any interaction if there was a lack of creativity.

Creativity, in my opinion, is key. Especially in advertising. Any company or business can put out a tv commercial, radio ad, or tweet and simply send a “USE MY PRODUCT” message that probably won’t attract any customers. Or worse, will be so boring  that potential customers won’t even remember it. It’s got to be interesting to get people to be receptive to it. That’s where creativity comes in!

Creativity in advertising is spicing up the way you reach the consumer. This semester, I’ll be monitoring the social media accounts of Charmin, the toilet paper brand company. Charmin has a fairly boring-albeit necessary and useful- product. To keep things fun, they’ve gotten on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Instead of tweeting “Buy our toilet paper- we know you’ll need it!” the Charmin group got their creativity on and post cartoons and videos. In their most recent tweet, @Charmin posted a Vine video featuring the Naked Cowboyand their mascot bear dancing in a bathroom stall, with the caption “We always doo it for the Vine,” in celebration of #NationalToiletPaperDay. Check it out here! This particular clip has been retweeted 637 times, and has 904 favorites. It’s not necessarily telling us to buy their product, but it shows us that they can have fun and want to share it with their customers- all while making us think that we probably need more toilet paper and to remember the cute dancing bear and Naked Cowboy next time we’re in the grocery store.

Was that tweet a successful advertisement of the product? Sure. Was it creative? Definitely. Will I remember it? For sure.

But back to Scott and his “old rule” about creativity. Though he thinks it’s an oldie, I think it’s a goodie. Advertisers have to constantly be on their creative game in order to make a successful commercial, post, or tweet. If it weren’t for the “cha-cha-cha, Charmin!” jingle, I never would’ve given this toilet paper brand a second thought. Much less started following them on Twitter (interaction!) and finding out that they’re more than just TV commercials with cute bears and catchy songs. They’ve kept the creativity coming.

Semester Reflection

The readings, discussions, and projects during this semester of Intercultural Professional Writing really made me think about to the importance of intercultural communication in our society. Before this class, I honestly never really considered thinking about certain things that we talked about during the semester in regards to different cultures.

I grew up in New Jersey and I have lived there for my entire life. This is where my own form of “culture” has developed. In the past, I have not had much experience with other cultures, which is why I found this class so helpful. One reading that made me reflect upon my own culture was McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. I couldn’t help but think about the privileges I have had due to my family’s middle-class economic status. The article also made me think about the privileges I have had as a white, middle-class student in the classroom. I have never written out the “invisible privileges” that I have received; therefore, it made the experience that much more eye-opening.

 With that being said, I think it is vital to implement intercultural activities, discussions, and textbooks within the classroom. Currently, there are many people in the working world who are unable to adapt to other cultures. Also, textbooks dedicate so little space to intercultural issues, and the information tends to be vague or difficult to apply in workspace environments. If our society works together to become more accepting of different cultures, then there will be more of a sense of understanding in regards our workplaces, interactions, and communities.

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Technological Communities Becoming an Addiction

In class, we talked a lot about online communities and how they have the potential to completely consume people to the point where they lose touch with reality. An interesting example we brought up was the online gaming community called Second Life. Within this virtual world, participants are able to interact with each other by using avatars. Also, residents can explore the virtual world, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another.

I found a personal testimonial that described someone’s experience using Second Life (here’s the link: http://imthevilprincess.hubpages.com/hub/SecondLife-addiction). This person shares how she lost touch with her real life once she started playing Second Life:

“I stopped answering my phone, which, it doesn’t ring anymore. I rarely answered my text messages. I have friends I’ve not seen in I don’t know how long.  My best friend would complain to me non-stop about me living in my virtual world and I thought she didn’t know what she was talking about. She barely speaks to me now.”

If these things are true and happen often when using online communities, why are they still so popular? In her testimonial, the Second Life “player” says:

“I had landed myself in trouble in my real life and it was a nice escape into a world where no one knew my real life issues. I threw myself into the game, obsessed with making lindens, having a sexy avatar, dating the sexiest male avatar, which turned out was a girl!  I have beautiful homes in my inventory, I have animals in my inventory, you name it, Secondlife has it.”

It’s scary to think about how detrimental online communities can become for some people. Honestly, I feel like this can happen within various online communities as well. Maybe not as severe, but I think that online communities (now more than ever) have the potential to affect peoples’ face-to-face interactions and communication.

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