Tag Archives: mass communications

Surprise Prize Pack for Fallon Worldwide’s 10,000th Twitter Follower

Fallon Worldwide rewarded its 10,000th Twitter follower with a surprise prize pack of agency swag.
Fallon 10,000th Twitter prize package.

Fallon put together a rather nice package of swag for its 10,000th Twitter follower … me!

I’m a little slow on this one, but I definitely owe a big thank you to the great Minneapolis ad agency Fallon Worldwide. Out of pure luck, I became @wearefallon’s 10,000 Twitter follower on July 11, 2012 and I received a surprise @mention the next day announcing me as the winner of Fallon prize pack. The surprise is two-fold: 1.) Considering I have a PR & Advertising list on Twitter and I’m a big fan of their work, I was surprised to learn I wasn’t already following Fallon and 2.) I had no idea they were planning to reward their 10,000th follower. Here’s the surprise tweet:

Of course I sent in my address right way. However, I didn’t really know what the prize pack would include. I assumed it would be some pens and a note pad or something. Little did I know, I would have a box of high-quality goodies show up at my doorstep the day before my birthday.

The swag pack included a Lands’ End vest, an aluminum water bottle, ball point pen, journal, bracelet and rather nice coffee table book celebrating 25 years of Fallon’s work. But that’s not all, I even got a signed and framed picture of Pat Fallon to hang on my wall (which I did).

From a social media marketing standpoint, there’s a couple key takeaways here. First, the power of a surprise reward can be just as good as a full-fledged online contest. Sure, you might not get all the consumer information as you might with a sweepstakes (users’ email, mailing address, demographics, etc.), but if you do it right, it can still work for you. After Fallon announced its winner on Twitter, they also posted photos on Facebook and Google+ to get a little more traction. It also helps that Fallon’s 10,000th follower also happens to maintain a blog (I’m now writing about my experience). 

Another takeaway was Fallon’s decision to go big on the prize package. It would have been much easier and cost effective to send me the pen and note pad I was thinking. However, I don’t think I would have gotten too excited about that. By including a book, vest, framed photo and other swag worth around $100, I definitely felt obliged to brag about it on my social networks and, eventually, blog about it.

Again, I thank the good people at Fallon Worldwide for taking time to reward a random Twitter follower. I’m looking forward to wearing my vest this fall and The Work: 25 Years of Fallon compliments my favorite advertising book, Juicing the Orange rather nicely.

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#Infographic: The Psychology of Social Networking Sites

Psychology of Social MediaAnother infographic has come through my inbox that is definitely worth sharing. The folks at PsychologyDegree.net have gathered some interesting studies regarding the psychology of spending time on social networking sites. The basic assertion is that users of social networking sites are essentially narcissistic in nature. Though I would disagree it is that black and white, the infographic below does point to some interesting stats and findings.

It may be hard to argue with a finding that 80 percent of social media posts are about the poster. However, I might argue the validity of such a broad finding. It would be interesting to see how various social media platforms vary in this area. Twitter, it would seem, would yield more posts about topics of the user’s interests, but not necessarily about the poster him/herself. If you were to take into account social bookmarking sites, posts about the actual user would be almost non existent. My guess is the study was done with Facebook as the primary subject. Maybe I’m being too critical.

The last section of the infographic states that “half of all users compare themselves to others when they view photos or status updates.” That’s just human nature I suppose. What do you think? Are we obsessed with social media or are we obsessed with ourselves?

Psychology of Social Networking

Top image via http://451heat.com.


#Infographic: The Rise of Cyberbullying in the age of Technology

There’s been a lot of chatter about cyberbullying lately and this new infographic from onlinecollege.org has some amazing stats to provide insight to how technology is affecting youth. I’ll let the infographic do most of the talking, however there are a few stats worth noting.

With girls aged 14-17 sending nearly 3,000 tweets per month, there is bound to be some negative conversations now and then. Kids are now growing up in an increasingly interconnected world where using mobile technology and online social networks is commonplace. As many would agree, a problem with online communication is that people can hide behind a persona and ‘bully’ others from a distance. Indeed, 7.5 million Facebook users are under age 13 and 81 percent of today’s youth say bullying online is easier to get away with than in person.

Please take a look at the infographic below and consider the teens you know in your life, or maybe you are one:
Cyberbullying Infographic with Stats About Teen Internet Usage
Source: Accredited Online Colleges


#Infographic: What Your Life Might Look Like Without the Internet

Another infographic filled with amazing facts about the Internet is making the rounds. I was contacted by one of the creators from onlineeducation.net a couple days ago and I have started to see it posted on other sites since then (PR Daily for one).

This is an interesting infographic as it attempts to paint a picture of what life would be like without the Internet oppose to simply pointing out some key stats. Alas, there are plenty of stats that jump out at me such as the Internet directly and indirectly employing over three million people in the U.S. alone and the Internet reducing the degrees of separation down to only 3.74 people. The infographic ends with the fact that most modern day revolutions are not only aided by the Internet, but are actually started with simple Twitter hashtags such as #occupy.

Take a look below. What jumps out at you?

World without Internet
Via: OnlineEducation.net

And remember, sharing makes you smarter!


Social Media: Personal and Visual, Pt. 2 – The Power of Visuals

Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.

Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of knowing your audience as I presented at a recent St. Cloud State University mass communications alumni event. Now is time for part two of that discussion: the importance of visuals in communication.

The idea that people are visually minded is nothing new, but I feel it is important to discuss as the concept directly transfers to the public relations industry. There’s been talk for a number of years about whether or not news releases are effective and if they are on the way out. The short answer is no, they are not on the way out. That’s my opinion maybe, but as long as there are journalists with tight deadlines and news organizations that continue to cut staff, news releases will be an easy go-to source for journalists.

Without getting into the particulars of  journalists expected to push out more content in a shorter amount of time and editors choosing to sensationalize soft stories instead of producing in-depth hard news, I’ll just say news releases are still important. What has changed over the past few years is how the news release is developed and disseminated.

Now in the PR world we’re seeing more interactive news releases. News releases optimized for search engines and the “social media news release” are commonplace. These are news releases rich in content—containing at least one visual element, keywords and links for more information. A media-rich news release is far more effective in reaching a target audience and should resonate with reporters much better.

Visuals are so effective now that many companies are using infographics in place of the news release. Infographics are great because they can take relatively complicated statistics and visualize them into easy-to-understand graphs. A news release with a bunch of stats crammed in the body will never be as effective as a well-designed infographic. They also are easy to share and can make their way around the Internet with little effort.

Further building off the importance of visuals in PR, let’s take a look at what has brought us to this point. Surly, communications specialists have recognized the importance of strong visuals long ago. Marketing and advertising is almost completely based off of visual cues. Even radio commercials contain a visual element—a good radio spot will paint a picture in the mind of the listener, which can be more effective than actually seeing something in print or video.

Social media and, more importantly Web 2.0, have made it much easier to share images and video across a variety of platforms. A few major news items have surfaced over the past few months that have really made this point be heard.

The first is Pinterest. Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to pin images that link back to the original source onto “boards,” or a scrapbook-style collection of a user’s personality. Pinterest is significant because the website hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors faster than any standalone site ever.

Another interesting phenomenon is Draw Something hitting 20 million active users in just seven weeks. Draw Something is a Pictionary-style mobile gaming application in which users draw something from a set of words and the other user watches the drawing unfold as he/she tries to guess the word.

A final piece of news is that of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion–which was still a startup at the time with only 9 employees. Each of these news items should aid in understanding the the importance of using visuals in communication.

Lastly, please stop using comic sans and clip art:


Social Media: Personal and Visual, Pt. 1 – Know Your Audience

The importance of knowing your audience.

Is your target audience a crowd of conservative men or does it have a greater variance to allow for more flexibility?

I recently spoke at a St. Cloud State Mass Communications alumni event regarding trends in social media–especially in the Public Relations industry. As an intern at Kohnstamm Communications and only a couple years as a social media manager at KVSC-FM under my belt, I’m hardly an expert on the subject, but I do feel I came out with some good points and generated an interesting discussion. I rarely write out word-for-word what I plan to say at these things, but for some reason that’s what happened. I ended up making an outline of speaking points for a more natural impromptu delivery and my original ‘script’ for my presentation “Social Media: Personal and Visual” is below.

I learned a lot as the Director of PR & Social Media at KVSC and a lot of what I learned along the way is directly transferable to the PR industry—whether the B2B clients I work with at Kohnstamm care about social media or not. I learned two main things while building KVSC’s social media presence: 1.) It is important to know your audience and 2.) People are very visually minded.

For the former, I learned early on that no one really cares about basic station updates that can easily be found at kvsc.org, people want to be entertained and involved in the conversation. In other words, people want to be reached at a personal level. I found that posting opinionated articles relating to the station’s music format or pop culture in general would garner a greater response than simply announcing what was coming up in the programming lineup.

It’s definitely important to know your audience and have a good understanding of what types of posts will get their attention without offending anyone too much. A great example of this is with a new recruitment firm I’ve been working with. At KVSC, it seemed I could get away with just about anything. Making fun of Nickelback, posting popular memes and silly YouTube videos are all commonplace on the KVSC Facebook wall. For example, one of the more popular posts on the KVSC wall consisted of a black and white photo of a little boy smoking a cigarette next to a chicken and the caption “Could someone please explain this picture?” (side note: the little boy happens to be a young István Ládai). With Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting, I posted a picture of an Easter bunny portrait gone slightly wrong and wished everyone a happy Easter. It was all in good nature and was meant to be funny. However, someone didn’t like it and contacted the owner of the business and we took it down.

Lesson learned. Monitor and know your audience before you really test the waters. As with any good PR campaign, knowing your audience will help in crafting a news release, pitching a reporter or otherwise getting a client’s news out. Knowing your audience allows you to create much more targeted and personal messages. Maintaining personal messaging in any communication strategy allows for better conversation, but can only be achieved if you know what your audience is interested in talking about.

Further reading on the subject of knowing your audience:

Image via juicebag.blogspot.com.


Starting an Internship: What I Learned in a Long Job Hunt

Kohnstamm Communications Welcomes Eric Wheeler.

A fine welcome indeed. I had never seen my name on a sign before!

Tuesday, Feb. 21, marks the first day of my internship at Kohnstamm Communications in St. Paul, Minn. Yes, the long job search is finally over–at least for a few months.

I learned a lot during my 9+ month job search. I did the typical resume blast using job search sites such as CareerBuilder and Monster, I applied to jobs I found on LinkedIn and Twitter and I did my best to promote myself in the online world. In the end though, it came down to who I know.

Though I landed many phone calls and on-site interviews through the strategy mentioned above–even having employers reach out to me because of my blog or online presence–it was a former teacher who got me the initial contact.

It is definitely nice to know a former teacher believes in me and wants to see me succeed. I had Lisa Heinrich as a professor in both Advanced PR and Media Ethics at St. Cloud State University as I was working on my masters degree in PR & Advertising. One of my favorite professors for her ability to weave in her own professional experiences in lively class discussions, Lisa continued to stay in touch with me after graduation. She would occasionally send me job postings she thought might be a good fit.

My opportunity came when she informed me another former student of hers was looking to hire someone with a little social media experience. I sent an email to Katie Heinze at Kohnstamm that same day and a couple months later I was in St. Paul for an interview.

Though I was not particularly looking for an internship in my job search I felt this was an opportunity worth pursuing for a couple reasons. The position being full time and paid was definitely nice, but I also want to work at a PR agency and this should be a nice foot in the door. I currently do not have any public relations experience in an agency setting so this will hopefully open up new opportunities.

I knew as soon as I walked through the door at Kohnstamm that it was the right place for me. After being greeted by Gail at the front desk, my eyes were drawn to the large sign welcoming me to the “2010 Boutique Agency of the Year.” I had never really seen my name featured on a sign before so I snapped a picture and tweeted about it later that night.

It’s been nearly two weeks since I accepted the position. It may be surprising I haven’t been tweeting about it and posting the news on Facebook, but wanted to make sure my family knew about my new adventure and to make sure I found a place to live in St. Paul. I have made the appropriate phone calls and have found a nice house with a couple roommates (thank you CraigsList) in Midway just a 10-minute drive from the downtown office.

Thank you to everyone for the encouragement and for thinking of me when coming across opportunities. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts. My four to six-month internship will be over before I know it and I will continue to be on the lookout for my next opportunity.


10 Things I Learned as a PR & Advertising Grad Student

What I learned from grad schoolThis list is essentially a follow-up to my previous entry. Towards the end of that post, I mentioned how I really wanted the entry to be about what I learned in graduate school, but it ended up being the story of why I decided to pursue a Masters Degree in the first place. Now that I’ve had a couple weeks to reflect on my two years of post-graduate education at St. Cloud State University, I present a “Top Ten” list of things I learned. Some topics were learned in the classroom, some while writing papers and others came about in other ways as a student. Though I am not going to elaborate on any of the topics, I do challenge you to ask questions or argue some of the statements. A few might even be considered controversial. Here goes:

  1. There is nothing ‘new’ about new media
  2. Learn the basic theories of psychology, and become a better communicator
  3. Even when you think you have produced creative content, you should step away and try again
  4. Always know your audience and do the research to find out more
  5. Differentiate, segment and tailor the message for each medium
  6. Never stop learning; I will never be an ‘expert’ in anything because there is always more to learn
  7. Media convergence is impossible, but web convergence is possible
  8. If you want to be successful in any communications-related industry (journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, etc.), you must live and breathe social media
  9. Huge corporate media conglomerates are the demise of democracy–nearly every media outlet is conservative … even NPR
  10. News outlets can no longer afford to simply push out information … people expect to participate in a two-way conversation about everything
Have you attended graduate school for mass communications? What did you learn?

Do Something Profound: Attend Grad School

In full academic regalia...

In full Master of Science academic regalia...

This past weekend saw the close of yet another chapter in my life: I have completed graduate school. Yes, I am now the proud recipient of a Master of Science degree with emphasis in PR & Advertising from St. Cloud State University. It was not long ago when I walked across stage at Northwestern Oklahoma State University after completing a bachelor’s degree in the same field.

As an undergrad, I had little desire to pursue post-graduate education and only got the notion shortly before graduating in December 2007. However, I remember hearing inspiring words a few months prior from the (then) president of the Oklahoma Student Government Association that I just never shook out of my mind. While attending an OSGA conference, several of us were talking about our plans after graduation when John Stephen Bobb-Semple looked at me and said “Eric, why don’t you do something profound and attend graduate school?” I’m not sure how profound it is to attend graduate school, but his words did play a huge role in my decision to pursue a higher degree.

The story of how I got to Minnesota is a little longer and I have had many ask me how I got here and why I chose St. Cloud State University. Allow me to expand. During my final semester at NWOSU, I had a wonderful girlfriend and a job at a radio station that I thought would keep me in Northwest Oklahoma for a long time, and I was happy about that. However, once that relationship ended and I decided the radio station I was working at was not the best place for me, things changed.

St. Cloud State University logo

The great mass communications program and an assistantship made St. Cloud State hard to turn down.

As I was turning in my senior portfolio, I noticed a poster on the wall for a SCSU’s Master of Science in Mass Communications program. Triggering John’s words of wisdom, I became curious and tore off the reply card and mailed in my info. At this point I was already set to begin working for Acacia Fraternity headquarters in Indianapolis and thought it would be a great opportuinity to study for the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) and hopefully check out a few programs while traveling around North America as a leadership consultant. As it would turn out, I had the opportunity to visit St. Cloud State in the fall of 2008 and found the campus to be rather quaint and the mass communications department quite impressive. I applied.

I ended up applying to several other schools, but it all came down money. Though it would have been great to attend grad school in Hawaii, spending $50,000 a year to make it happen wasn’t really feasible. Indeed, it came down to SCSU, and a couple affordable schools in Kentucky and Oklahoma. Choosing SCSU, however, was contingent upon obtaining a graduate assistantship. After applying for several positions, I had no such luck. In May of 2009, I would embark on my lifetime dream of traveling through Europe by myself with no idea what the future had in store when I returned. I would most likely wind up at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla. as it was the most affordable, quality program I could find close to home.

KVSC 88.1FM St Cloud, MN

I learned a lot through my assistantship at KVSC.

I was stranded in Munich after losing my passport and rail pass when I finally secured a position at KVSC-FM, the campus radio station at SCSU. Apparently Loren Boone, director of university communications liked me enough during my interview for a position in his department that he thought of me when Station Manager Jo McMullen was still looking for someone at KVSC. In the end, it all worked out and my position as Director of PR & Social Media at KVSC has proved to be the most valuable experience I could possibly ask for.  I have learned so much at KVSC and in the classroom, I’m not even sure where to begin. That’s really what I wanted this blog to be about, but I couldn’t seem to sort through all the knowledge learned. I hope this story gives you inspiration as you look to further your education or your career. For me, it all comes down to one mantra: Do something profound.


Mass Comm Career Panel: Getting that First Job

John's First Job.In another event co-sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA) at St. Cloud State University, the annual Mass Communications Career Panel opened up helpful insights for students as we work towards beginning careers in our respective fields. The panel was led by Andy Ditlevson of SCSU Career Services and consisted of five speakers:

Tracy Carlson, Padilla Speer Beardsley
Bill Hatling,  HatlingFlint Marketing
Dan Schulzetenberg, General Mills
Ryan Meints, G.L. Berg
Lori Jacobson, Carlson Marketing

The first discussion included ways for college grads to get their foot in the door as they work towards finding the job that’s right for them. Among some of the advice dished out, the importance of holding an internship came up from each speaker. Several mentioned having multiple internships as they worked towards getting their first job out of college. One speaker even stressed an internship as being a “critical” stepping stone.

Other tips for getting that first job out of college included volunteering for non-profits, having a mentor and not being too ambitious in your job hunt–though most people don’t really want a sales job, it can be a perfect starting point for a career in marketing. Bill Hatling talked about social media as being a “game changer” and his company is always looking for new hires who understand the trend. The media landscape, as he put it, has changed dramatically in the past decade and it makes sense for students to have a good understanding of new media. This means doing some self-study and finding something about it that interests you. At the very least you should maintain a clean online reputation, but you could take it further by blogging for a non-profit organization or helping a small business with its social media efforts.

On resumes, having good keywords that showcase your skills is important. More importantly though, making sure the resume you submit is catered to the company and the job description. If you feel you can provide the company a fresh perspective in social media strategy, then incorporate that into your resume. However, as Ryan Meints pointed out, having a great resume isn’t everything–he has never even submitted a resume for any of the jobs he has landed. From his perspective, networking is key.

Ryan’s point led to the importance of personal branding. As important as it is to maintain a positive online reputation, having something as basic as a good voice mail greeting is just as important. If you’re applying for jobs, would you want an employer to listen to a greeting that is a simple “Hey, leave a message” in a dull voice or would you rather actually greet your potential employer? My voice mail is simple, yet friendly: “You have reached the voice mail of Eric Wheeler. Please leave a message and your number and I will be sure to get back with you. Thanks!”

Probably the most important piece of advice came from Dan Schulzetenberg: “Understand what your values are.” That simple idea can have a huge impact on your life–whether you’re looking for that breakthrough job or you’re a seasoned pro. Always have strong values and work ethic and life will reward you. What are your values?

Image credit: www.socialsecurity.gov


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