Monday, July 4, 2011

The Road Less Traveled

The name of my blog is more or less a homage to the cliché Robert Frost poem that we’ve all heard a hundred times—“The Road Not Taken.”

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

This stanza of the poem, however overused it may be, has come into play a lot in my life, most recently in my choice to attend an out-of-state school at which I knew nobody. That decision was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Not only have I solidified my love of PR and gained experience that I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere, but I’ve made a lot of amazing connections and friends along the way, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those people.

But what I’ve realized as I’ve been away at school is that sometimes, the road less traveled leads you right back to where you started, and not in an “I’ve failed” sort of way, but in the sense that life has a funny way of coming full circle.

When I left for school as a naïve 18 year old, I was completely convinced that I would move to a big city like Chicago or New York City after I graduated to work for some big-time PR firm working on million dollar accounts.

Things could not be more different than what I initially imagined, but not only am I ok with that, I’m extremely happy about where I am in my life.

I’ve had two internships in Charleston, W.Va., my hometown, and have really come to appreciate where I grew up. I’ve also realized that to get outstanding experience, you don’t need to go to L.A. or Washington, D.C.—sometimes the best experience comes from smaller places where you are immersed in every aspect of the job. (You can read about my interning experiences at Charleston Area Medical Center and Maple Creative from my previous posts.)

It’s a few weeks after graduation, and I’m back in Charleston, W.Va. Soon, I will be joining the team at CAMC that helped me fall in love with PR in the first place. I am truly honored to have this opportunity to work along side people who have inspired me so much and whom I respect more than anything.

Did you take the road less traveled? Did it lead you to where you expected? I’d love to hear your stories.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's not the medium--it's the message

In today’s world of information overload and constant communication (thanks to real-time networks) it is nearly impossible to stay afloat. This is especially difficult for students (like me) to break through the clutter and try to grasp what is important. Words like content marketing, social media, crowd sourcing, geotagging, ROI, etc., are thrown around at hyper speed and we barely have time to stop and breathe trying to keep up with it all. Each week like clockwork, a Mashable blog post shows up in my Google Reader graciously alerting me of somewhere between 30 and 50 digital resources I may have missed. Sometimes it seems hopeless that I will ever dig out from under the vast amounts of information out there.

In July, I wrote about how to break through media clutter. I talked a lot about different tools to use to manage your information, but have recently come to the realization that it’s not the channel that’s important.

No matter what the medium, tactic or program, there are some key components of communication that ring true no matter what. New outlets and mediums will come and go, but as long as we stick to a solid communications strategy and integral steps in the process, we can’t go wrong.

Research: My PR capstone instructor mentions research at least three times per class period, and with good reason. Chances are good that you won’t be an expert in the field your client is in, so there is always room to find out more about it. Not to mention the constant shifting of the media industry, requiring a close eye to identify or at least keep up with trends. Sound research will not only help avoid future roadblocks but can help you come up with new ideas. I try to read as much as I can about tons of different topics and have been pleasantly surprised at how a little extra effort can go a long way.

Planning: Even though some of your communications tactics may seem easy or less important, thus not requiring a plan, but that’s really not the case. I catch myself wanting to jump headfirst into social media or any new communication tool or campaign, but it’s always important to think things through strategically.

Monitoring: Once we’ve set a campaign in motion, it’s such a relief that we finally get to implement that we forget that we actually have to check up on it. While technology is great, it’s far from perfect, so constant monitoring is vital. Google Alerts are a godsend in monitoring brand discussion and keeping tabs on the online conversation about it.

Evaluating: This is something I’m sure we all put at the very end of our communications plans, but how often do we actually go back and track our results? As students, evaluation is a process that is often an afterthought, or one that we don’t do much of in the classroom until our upper level courses. Getting in the habit of constantly evaluating your campaign or program will put you in the mindset to push your communications further than you thought possible.

Do you agree or disagree? Is there anything else you would add? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Grey's Anatomy: The Musical--showstopper or hot mess express?

If you’ve read my blog before or if you know me in person, you’ve probably gathered that I’m a pretty huge musical fan—I can’t get enough of showtunes, Broadway and recently, Glee. Apparently, millions of people share my affection for musicals, as nearly 11 million people watched the Glee season finale.

The musical theme works amazingly well for Glee—the plot line makes the transition from script to song effortless.

But just because it works for Glee doesn’t mean it will work for any television show. This became painfully apparent in Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The hit show, currently in its seventh season, has a dedicated fan base and a compelling story line to begin with. But for some reason, the creators felt the need to piggyback on the musical meme and air a musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

I know there are a lot of opinions on this week’s episode, and I welcome any comments on this, but I really think it was a hot mess, or pointless at best.

The song choices for the most part were awkward, not to mention that the majority of the cast cannot sing well. The only reprieve was Sara Ramirez (who plays Callie Torez), who has been on Broadway in “Spamalot” and won a Tony for her appearance. The singing just wasn’t believable, and really just got annoying after 20 minutes into the episode.

The point I’m trying to make is that just because a certain meme works for one show, industry, campaign, etc., doesn’t mean it can be effective elsewhere. In today’s entertainment industry it seems that everyone is trying to “one-up” the competition by taking something that’s already been done and trying to do it better. And the majority of the time, they fail.

What ever happened to the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

I’d love to get your thoughts on this. Did you like this week’s episode? Why or why not?

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