A Blog About Blogs

An undergraduate thesis about blogging, public relations, marketing and social media

Company urges music community to go green September 30, 2008

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising — Stephanie Sheppard @ 11:01 pm

I recently attended a Maroon 5 and Counting Crows concert at Cricket Pavilion (it was GREAT, by the way). As we were patiently waiting between Augustana’s performance and Maroon 5 first appearance on stage, the large monitors used to provide the audience with up-close shots of the performers were scrolling “green” facts. The monitors were semi-interactive, displaying questions like “How many plastic water bottles are put into a landfill each day?” and then providing multiple-choice answers. Finally, it revealed the correct answer – more than 100,000 bottles.

At first, I missed the connection and just assumed this was a newer form of advertising. And pretty smart at that, given the captive audience with such a defined demographic. And for a green company, I suppose it makes sense to advertise at concerts where younger generations will be present. They’re more receptive to green messages and have the ability to make a larger impact over the course of time. But as more messages scrolled across the screen, I found out that Reverb, a company aimed at promoting environmental sustainability, was founded by an environmentalist and popular musician (Guster guitarist/vocalist Adam Gardner) and primarily works within the music community.

Reverb coordinates eco-friendly processes and products for popular tours. They have booths set up at each show, advocate the use of BioDiesel fuel for tour buses, help recycle at concerts and on the road, provide eco-friendly merchandise and offer other green services. What a cool thing! I really liked this idea and thought I would share it with you.

Aside from Reverb, advertising on concert monitors is a great idea – especially if you have a well-defined target audience. I wonder if this will catch on. I can’t recall ever seeing a commercial at a concert, although there sure are an over-abundance of sponsorships.


Economic downturn brings PR/marketing opportunity

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising,Public Relations — Stephanie Sheppard @ 12:59 am

It’s unavoidable. I can’t turn anywhere without reading about impending doom and an oncoming (or perhaps already existing) depression. The office today was spinning with swear words as people read the news stories about Congress’ failure to pass the bailout plan. Right this moment, the top story headline on AzCentral reads “Dow plunges 777 points“. Sounds like a great time to be preparing for graduation and hyping yourself up for a job hunt, right?

I’m not the only one freaking out. As banks like Washington Mutual and Wachovia go down the tubes, financial institutions are turning to advertising to calm consumers. Meghan Keane, a Wired Magazine blogger, wrote a great posttoday about Charles Schwab’s efforts enforce the company’s stability in a time of turmoil. I expect other companies will go this route very soon.

Despite the ever depressing conditions, I can’t help but see this as a great opportunity for strong companies to get some positive press for a change. At a time when big corporations catch a lot of flack for not caring about customers and being solely profit driven, this presents an opportunity to turn the tide.

Allstate, for example, often gets played as the “big, bad insurance company,” but considering the recent AIG activity, I doubt Allstate customers are complaining now. Now is the time to leverage a long-standing company history of stability and success. I would be surprised if marketing packages from home office don’t come our way soon echoing these sentiments. If we don’t jump on this opportunity soon, other companies will. And they’re only smart to do so.


Mobile applications, adapt or die September 25, 2008

Filed under: Social Media — Stephanie Sheppard @ 6:46 pm

I recently just tried to convince my dad to get an iPhone. Although I don’t have one myself, I do have a phone with Internet access, and it has changed my life for the better. I love having constant access to all of my e-mail accounts, favorite blogs and perhaps most importantly, Google. Since my dad is a frequent traveler, I assured him that a phone with Internet access will change his life in a positive manner as well.

In light of this recent conversation, I found this article in AdAge about how companies tapping into mobile applications to increase brand affinity and engage consumers. My favorite quote from the article is:

“When creating branded mobile applications, the goal should be to provide true service and utility to consumers, not to inundate them with disruptive marketing messages.”

Integrating services with mobile phones makes it easier for people to use your product. And in my opinion, that’s the most important thing. I know I’m more inclined to use Google for a search engine on my phone because it’s so easy to navigate in mobile form.

As the article notes, Apple, AOL and other major companies are getting on board with mobile applicationsand cell phone companies are working to make it easier and easier to acquire applications. Companies feverishly trying to adapt text messaging and e-mail methods of reaching customers are far behind. Although applications may not directly tie to profits, it’s definitely a way to build brand loyalty and familiarity with services.


Arizona State University: loyalty to the brand

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising — Stephanie Sheppard @ 12:17 am

True Sun Devils bleed maroon and gold. As I was talking with my marketing professor and thesis director (Vince Blasko) yesterday, we discussed ASU as a brand. In many cases, students and alumni take drastic measures to remain loyal to the ASU brand.

One of my good friends, Blake Lerdall, was featured in today’s State Press Magazine (our on-campus magazine) as one of those people. His article “Bleeding Maroon and Gold” is hilarious and rings too true of many die-hard college sports fans.

Vince and I discussed that although there are many Blake Lerdalls of the world who remain dedicated through highs and lows, I’ve noticed that despite a large starting attendance – well over half the student section had disappeared by the third quarter of last weekend’s game. When the ASU marketing department is counting on students to be present for advertising and marketing spots (such as the Chevron car race or Papa John’s pizza mix-up), what can they do to keep people in the stands?

Perhaps even more interesting is continuing loyalty post-graduation. Stay tuned for my perspective on that one.


Agent Zero loves blogging, too September 23, 2008

Filed under: Blogs,Public Relations — Stephanie Sheppard @ 5:42 pm

It’s no secret – I love Gilbert Arenas. Ever since he was drafted by the Warriors (and yes, I’m aware he was once a Wildcat but prefer not to discuss that) I’ve been a big fan. It’s one of things I always put in those games you play with your friends to see how well you know someone. So take notes.

Given my fanatical status, imagine my surprise when I just discovered today that Gilbert has been blogging since October of 2006! NBA.com said this about his blog:

Quite simply, Gilbert Arenas is the first “blog superstar.” Beginning in October 2006, Gilbert started to entertain fans with more than his scoring and jersey tossing on the court, but with an inside look into his whirlwind life with witty insights in his weekly posts on NBA.com. His Agent Zero Blog File was there for his scoring predictions, his 25th birthday bash and his All-Star experience in Vegas and continues to be considered the top blog of any pro athlete today.

Agent Zero: The Blog File is still alive and well as part of NBA.com’sFan Voice. Although posts only appear about once a month (and a little more frequently during the season), but he covers A LOT in each post. His most recent posts talk about his third surgery, his dad’s reaction to his surgery, the Redeem Team and a funny You Tube clip featuring Baron Davis.

Giving Gilbert a blog seems like a genius strategy for the NBA, the Wizards, and Gilbert himself. He’s one of those eccentric players that everyone loves to watch and read about. Sports Illustrated and other sports magazines have done features on his unique personality, dedication to game and his role as prankster in the locker room. Even without a blog, he shows his goof-around personality on the court and makes connections with fans. For example, Gilbert throws his jersey to a member of the crowd after every home game. I can’t think of another NBA player whose thoughts would be so well-received.

Not only is he putting a personal angle on the NBA, but I’m sure it helped Wizard fans get through the frustrations of surgery after surgery and so much time on the bench. As a frustrated fan, I’m sure reading though Gilbert’s experience and rationale for each surgery eases the pain. When he shows that he’s just as upset (if not more) as the fans, explains why the surgery was completely necessary and talks about everything he’s doing to make a speedy recovery, you can’t be mad at him.

Finally, a blog furthers Gilbert’s connection with fans and enhances his image. When or if Gilbert becomes a free agent again, I’d argue the his following and positive image he brings to a team is considered. Especially when a team needs help securing an enthusiastic fan base after years of losing seasons, having a well-liked player may make a huge difference. Not that he doesn’t need to be healthy as well… but you know what I’m saying.

Additional players who have blogs on NBA.com include Marcus Camby, Tyson Chandler and Morris Almond.


Insurance companies bombard Sun Devil fans September 22, 2008

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising — Stephanie Sheppard @ 3:36 pm

ASU suffered a disappointing and somewhat embarrassing loss on Saturday. As I was waiting outside the stadium (for 3 hours before the stadium doors opened!) and watching the dreadful second quarter, I took a look around at the advertising.

Since I started working for Allstate, I’ve noticed the “good hands” field goal net every game. But as I scanned the stadium this weekend, I also noticed Allstate’s banner on the field, multiple Farmers signs in the stands and several State Farm advertisements around the arena. To top this particular game off, Geico was handing out towels to the student section line that wrapped around the entire base of A Mountain.

As the students are bombarded with advertising from at least four different insurance companies, I have to wonder – does any of it stick? From what it seemed like, Geico was the only insurance advertiser that didn’t have something consistent all season long. But, those Geico towels were certainly the most appreciated form of advertising as we continued to wipe sweat off our faces throughout the entire first half… gross!


Twitter me this, Batman September 20, 2008

Filed under: Public Relations,Social Media — Stephanie Sheppard @ 6:42 am

I joined Twitter today. Although I never really understood what it is or why you would want it, I’m constantly hearing about Twitter in webinars and at networking events. So, now I’m a member. If you’re going to blog about social media, you had better be using it, right?

As far as I can tell, Twitter is basically one big Facebook status. Users are allowed 140 characters to answer the simple question, “What are you doing?” Twitter then keeps a running list of responses from people who you are “following.” You can also monitor these updates by receiving them via instant messaging, e-mail, RSS feed, a Facebook application and other options. Users can find their friends by searching through their e-mail contacts or just typing names in the search field.

As with blogging, Twitter has recently exploded as a marketing tool. Major companies are beginning to use Twitter as a means of communication with their customers and stakeholders. Twitter users can easily receive quick updates about what’s going on in the company or a new product being launched. And with well over 2 million Twitter accounts, that’s a whole lot of exposure. While I can certainly see the proactive uses of corporate “tweeting,” PRWeek’s article, “Protect your brand and reputation on Twitter,” talks about the need to monitor what’s being said about your company within the Twitterverse.

Apparently, impersonating companies is becoming a problem. PR and marketing professionals need to keep tabs on this, as well as what employees and customers are saying about the company. Just like blogging, Twitter updates can provide great feedback.

The article also provides some great tips for corporate Tweeting, emphasizing the need to be personal and transparent. In the world of social media, it’s important that public relations professionals identify themselves as employees of the company and their purposes for being on Twitter (or other social media outlets). In addition, people want to feel that they’re getting updates from an actual person, not some corporate suit on auto pilot. It’s okay to keep tweets consistent with corporate messaging, but humanize your updates.


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