A Blog About Blogs

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

Happy Halloween! October 31, 2008

Filed under: Blogs — Stephanie Sheppard @ 7:30 pm
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Happy Halloween everyone! Halloween is my favorite holiday — besides my birthday, of course. I think I like it so much because it can be as big or little of a deal or as you like.

We have some great costumes at the office. My favorite is the DSD department that dressed up in a four weddings and a funeral theme. There are four dead (and bloody) brides and a grim reaper. My office-appropriate costume today is Mrs. Gilbert Arenas, complete with a big fake rock and Photoshopped picture of the two of us on my desk.

There truly is a blog for everything. In celebration of Halloween, I’m linking to a blog entirely about candy corn. Check it out – there are cool recipies and a bunch of fun information.


Pepsi: cute idea, terrible redesign

Filed under: Blogs,Marketing and Advertising,Public Relations,Social Media — Stephanie Sheppard @ 4:29 am
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Peter Shankman, well-known blogger and social media guru who I’ve blogged about before, revealed on his blogthat he was recently included in Pepsi’s marketing efforts to unveil their redesign. Shankman was one of 25 people who received Pepsi cans on their doorsteps showing the progression of Pepsi logos and can designs.

At first I was impressed with this tactic – they sought out social media influencers and creatively and selectively pitched the new look. But no matter how wowed I was with the public relations move, I was completely underwhelmed when I saw the photo:

New Pepsi Design

New Pepsi Design

 The new look is terrible! I’m not sure if they were going for a “throw-back” look or what, but it reminds me of generic brand soda that you’d buy at Fresh ‘n Easy. Don’t get me wrong… I love Fresh ‘n Easy, but I assume people buy Pepsi over generic for the brand name, not necessarily the taste.

More importantly… why mess with something if it isn’t broken? Isn’t Pepsi the number one selling cola?


Social media contributing to negative campaigning? October 29, 2008

This week, The Allstate Foundation partnered with Junior Achievement to bring curriculum about economics, business and entrepreneurship to school districts in need. As part of the partnership, I taught a 5th grade class for the entire school day on Monday. The experience was truly rewarding and eye-opening, but also assured me that teaching is not my missed calling. I was so exhausted and out of patience by the end of the day!

When we got to the lesson on advertising (which was my favorite of course!), I asked them about the presidential election. These 10-year-olds impressed me with their knowledge of the candidates, including Bob Barr and Ralph Nader. When we got to political ads, several students said they thought the commercials on TV were mean. They noticed that instead of saying “you should vote for me,” they often say “don’t vote for him.” Even 10-year-olds can tell the campaigns are nasty!

I’ve read many things that say this election contains more negative advertising and campaign tactics than any previous presidential election. A recent article on foxnews.comtalks about both campaign’s negative approaches, especially the McCain/Palin effort to connect Obama to William Ayers.

As I thought this over, I wondered if the accessibility of social media has contributed to the rise in negative campaigns. Anyone can say anything about any presidential candidate without authority or ability to back this up. If enough people read it, this can spur controversy and create a large controversy. How can this be regulated? What’s McCain to do if one of this supporters inaccurately smears Obama online?

This obviously isn’t the only source of negativity with regard to the campaigns, because both candidates have said damaging things about the other from their own mouths and in approved advertisements. But I do wonder if it’s harder to keep a clean and positive campaign with all the shenanigans online.


Northeast papers trying to ditch AP

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephanie Sheppard @ 12:19 am
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According to this post on Daily Kos(a well-known political blog), some major newspapers in the Northeast are considering ditching the Associated Press in favor of creating their own content exchange system. Daily Kos sites Editor and Publisher’s article:

“Top executives and editors from several major dailies in the Northeast, dissatisfied with The Associated Press, met recently to discuss the formation of a content-sharing agreement that in several cases would serve in place of their AP agreements, E&P has learned from top executives at three of the papers.

A “Northeast Consortium” of newspapers, which will include New York’s Daily News and — at least at the present time — is said to include Newsday, The Buffalo News, the Times-Union of Albany, N.Y., and the Star Ledger of Newark, N.J., among others, is weeks away from announcing a content-sharing arrangement that will include both stories and photos […]

One executive who spoke on condition of anonymity and who attended the “summit” of New York-area papers, held in Manhattan within the past two weeks, cited cost savings, more timely exchange of content, and what that executive called “a new spirit of cooperation” as the primary motivations for such an undertaking. This source referred to the “Draconian terms” of the AP, which last Thursday responded to newspapers’ concerns by announcing further rate cuts and restructuring.”

Since content sharing has been made virtually instantaneous and become much easier since the beginning on AP, I’m wondering if more people will get in on this idea. If they do, there could be a major impact on the media industry. On the other hand, as newspaper revenues and staffs continue to dwindle, is this something journalists can realistically take on in addition to writing quality stories? I’m interested to find out. I suppose it could mean that pitching journalists at these publications provides the opportunity to reach a much larger audience.


YouTube and Coldplay contest October 24, 2008

Filed under: Public Relations,Social Media — Stephanie Sheppard @ 11:47 pm
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I know this isn’t exactly a new development, but I’m still constantly amazed at how video editing software and YouTube have made video creating, which was previously reserved for people who knew how to use fancy cameras and edit well, available to the masses. Actually, it’s just like blogging – but with videos. Almost anyone can do it without much training.

It’s also interesting to see just how dominant YouTube is for video posting. Just recently, the band Coldplay launched a contestasking fans to submit creative videos for their new single “Lost”, upload them to YouTube and then e-mail the link to the band. They didn’t say upload them to the Internet and e-mail link – they specified YouTube.

On another note, I think interactive contests are always a good idea – provided you can actually get good entries. With a band as popular as Coldplay, I’ll be looking forward to seeing what people come up with. The band has encouraged a lot of creativity. Click here for contest guidelines.


Text alerts obsolete? October 23, 2008

Filed under: Social Media — Stephanie Sheppard @ 6:40 pm
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Last night I discovered that you can enter your cell phone number on Facebook to receive text messages when someone writes on your wall, sends you a message, adds you as a friend, etc. Intrigued, I signed up for these text alerts from Facebook. But as I received some today, I couldn’t help but wonder if cell phones that have Internet and e-mail capabilities are making text messages obsolete?

With so many people now having Blackberrys and other phones that allow for immediate e-mail retrieval, why would someone prefer to receive any alerts via text message? (Facebook also has the option for you to receive any of these alerts via e-mail.) I know that not everyone has one of these phones, but I think it soon will be that these are the only phones available. Even already, Apple (who makes only the iPhone) is the third-largest supplier of cell phones.

Text messages used to be unique because people always have their phones on them, but not always a laptop or Internet device. So text was the best way to receive timely information (for example, security alerts from ASU if there’s a fire or crisis on campus). But now that e-mail is just as accessible as text via cell phones, is text messaging even necessary anymore?


Do your homework… or else!

Filed under: Blogs,Public Relations — Stephanie Sheppard @ 6:52 am
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Often in PR, a large portion of our job lies around securing positive media coverage for our client. To do this, PR professionals typically work to let media know about what’s going on with their client. Although if done correctly this can be very effective, many PR professionals don’t stick to the rules. You hear about it time and time again – PR practitioners pitching client news that doesn’t fit with what the reporter or even the entire publication covers.

There’s no reason that the transportation reporter at the Arizona Republic wants to hear about a donation made by a large clothing store to a local nonprofit. Before you pitch media, make sure to do your homework. If you’re not regularly reading the publications you pitch, at least Google the reporter to familiarize yourself with topics he or she covers. If you don’t, the media gets very annoyed and your pitch could end up on the infamous Bad Pitch Blog.

Richard Laermer and Kevin Dugan author the Bad Pitch Blog, where they expose poorly crafted pitches forwarded to them by media personnel across the nation. And they don’t just post bad print and TV pitches, the same rules apply to pitching bloggers, too.


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