Bieber PR

So as you may know… or may not know, Justin Bieber has been implicated in a paternity suit by a woman named Mariah Yeater. I don’t know if she’s just lying for the money or just insane but I don’t think these accusations about Biebs are true. But I want to draw you attention to is the following video interview and the role that public relations plays here. The interview begins by discussing Justin’s newly released christmas album. Part of this discussion is about the charities that the precedes would go to. Then they move on to the paternity allegations, that Bieber of course denies, however they only stay here briefly then return to the good he is going to be able to do through this christmas album. So although they did bing up the controversial topic briefly, it was sandwiched between other very warm hearted positive publicity about the person in question. In this, I think the overall take away from the inter view would be the positive aspects of Justin Bieber’s philanthropy and having little to do with the paternity suit. Take a  look:

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Political Cartoons – Past & Present

Political cartoons have always been a way clever and humorous way of criticizing political figures and ideas. However the format has drastically changed over the years. No longer is this medium limited to the  simple cartoons with quippy phrases. Now, there are entire television shows that spend huge portions of their air time to offer their own, often very colorful, opinions on politics. In the following video, Weekend Update anchor from Saturday Night Live, Seth Myers, and his Muppet cohost Kermit the frog offer “their” opinions on the congress’ recent decision to count the tomato paste on school pizza as a serving of vegetable. Look at this comparison. Boy, things have changed.

Print vs. Video

Click Here To Watch Video

Crisis Control

Maintaining positive relation with your clientele is not always easy especially in situations that out out of you control. However, your company or leader will be the one held accountable for the way clients are treated and accommodated during a difficult time. The following story from Ragan’s PR Daily  is a perfect example of this. Although I think this problem could have been handled better, the airline, Jet Blue, was really really with rough situation.

If you live in the Northeast, you’re well aware of the nasty storm that left millions without power, forced travel delays, closed schools, interrupted Halloween plans, and killed at least 11.

There was also that JetBlue flight on Oct. 29 that was downrightdisastrous.

Originally bound for Newark, N.J., the plane was forced to divert to Hartford, Conn.’s Bradley International Airport because of the weather. That is where everything began to go wrong.

The plane sat on the tarmac for seven hours, in Hartford, from around 1:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. More than 100 passengers were left without functioning toilets, food or water in the last few hours of the delay. What did JetBlue do? Nothing, it appears.

Even the pilot was not getting answers from the airline, so he pleaded with air controllers for help. According to audio obtained from LiveATC.net, the unidentified pilot said he “can’t seem to get any help from our own company. I apologize for this, but is there any way you can get a tug and a towbar out here to us and get us towed somewhere to a gate or something? I don’t care—take us anywhere.”

According to accounts from those on the plane, passengers were told everything from the plane needed to be de-iced to an emergency on another plane as a reason for delays. This clearly wasn’t true, so passengers were lied to. That’s a huge issue. JetBlue needed to be honest and open with those on board.

All airlines must adhere to the Passenger’s Bill of Rights, which was enacted in 2010. If the evidence presented shows that JetBlue kept these passengers on the plane for more than three hours, they’ll face stiff fines. The U.S. Transportation Department is investigating the incident.

JetBlue doesn’t seem to be doing too much in terms of damage control, other than a lone blog post. On Sunday, it posted a blog to address the weekend’s issues, entitled “Dreaming of a White Halloween? Information Regarding This Weekend’s Storm.”

The post’s opening line: “Some people dream of a white Christmas; apparently Mother Nature was dreaming of a white Halloween this weekend. Winter reared its ugly head earlier than usual yesterday, causing a major crease in air travel.” All but one of the 18 comments when this article was published was negative.

JetBlue needed to take a more serious tone and not make light of the situation. I’m sure those stuck on board weren’t dreaming of anything but getting off the plane and into their own homes.

The airline is also being blasted on its Facebook page. Even worse, there is no engagement from anyone at JetBlue on that page, allowing negative comments to go unanswered.

Its Twitter account is directing those to the blog post about what JetBlue is doing for passengers, which is refunding their tickets.

JetBlue must do more than offer free tickets. It must show it truly cares and appreciate its customers. JetBlue’s CEO should be out front and showing concern.

By staying quiet and just using the blog, JetBlue is making a huge mistake. If it doesn’t act quickly, its reputation will be damaged for a long time to come.

Jason Mollica is the president of JRMComm, a public relations and social media marketing consultancy. Find Mollica on Twitter @JasMollica.


New. Improved. SEU Times.

I am so proud of the creative and talented individuals that publish the SEU Times. I really like the new magazine-like format, not to mention the full color pages grab my attention. All in all, great work SEU Times!

Southeastern Timeshttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/69330906/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list

Video. ILoveIt.

This post is a little bit more personal, but hey, who doesn’t want to get to know me. That sounded dumb – But I wanted to share a little bit of my passion. Among the excess amount of activities I have going on, I really like making video. My self and my two friends from church, Dan and Charlene, started woking on church videos about 2 years ago and ever since, I’ve been hooked. Below is one of the videos I’m particularly proud of. It was actually used for our church’s Easter sunday message this year. We shot it on a Canon T2I and edited it on Final Cut Pro.

Blog Design. More Important Than You Think.

As a graphic designer, I tend to get very critical when I see cheesy, corny, or otherwise unattractive web design. But it isn’t me you would wory about, you should want to make your blog visually appareling to your readers, and potential readers. To help you do this I’m sharing this great post I found on SixRevisons.com offering 7 blog design tips. It’s a little lengthy but very good. I also may be a little advanced but don’t let it intimidate, be inspired.

7 Blog Design Tips from a Content Strategist

As a content specialist, I prefer web designs that support content rather than conflict with or ignore it. Web designers should have a real appreciation of content strategybecause it is crucial in launching a successful blog.

For blog design, content issues are particularly important to pay attention to, because, fundamentally, the purpose of a blog is to deliver quality content to a strategically defined audience or community.

For that reason, web design and content must never work at cross-purposes. Here are a few tips for web designers creating weblogs.

1. Design with the Topic, Value Proposition and Audience in Mind

Here are the three main factors that should drive design decisions for a blog:

  • What is the blog about?
  • What is the blog’s unique value?
  • Who is the audience?

Topic: What is the Blog About?

Obviously, a blog about woodworking should look like a blog about woodworking, not like a blog about parenting.

From a design standpoint, this means creating a website header design that clearly conveys the subject matter, and also selecting imagery, fonts and other design elements that have a woodworking feel about them.

We want the woodworking enthusiast to recognize this is a blog designed for him or her — without having to read a single word. Tweaking standard themes usually isn’t enough to accomplish any of this: a blog with a generic feel won’t inspire visitors to explore the content. If a blog has a high bounce rate, consider punching up the design.

Value Proposition: What is the Blog’s Unique Value?

Once the woodworker grasps the blog is about woodworking — the next question is, “Why should I read this particular blog about woodworking?”

Every blog should have a value proposition. In this case, options include tips for woodworking on a budget, tips for the master craftsman, or tips for the beginner.

Again, the blog’s value proposition should be immediately obvious in the header, and brought out in the texture of the entire design. This is a common weakness in blog design. If there is a value proposition in the header or sidebar at all, it is often overwhelmed by other design elements that compete with it for attention rather than draw attention to it.

Audience: Who is the Audience?

How would the design of a woodworking blog differ depending on whether it was geared to master craftsmen or beginners? A dense design packed with links and information would intimidate a beginner, whereas a master might dismiss a design with a grade-school feel. Using a plain, rectangular cutting board as the header image might attract the beginner, but appall the expert.

The point is to make the target visitors immediately feel at home when they land on the blog. Of course, in order to do this, the designer needs a crystal clear understanding of who the audience is, which comes back to content strategy. As a side note, no amount of design wizardry can compensate for a blog lacking in strategic focus.

2. Pay Attention to Details

With all things, the devil is in the details. Even if we get the big things right, users will have a disappointing experience if the little things are executed improperly. Here are a few design details that I hope you will agree are important to get right.

Author Attribution

Nothing is more off-putting than a blog post authored by “Admin.” Blogs are a personal medium: names, and sometimes author thumbnails and bios, are crucial to establishing a human connection.

CSS-Tricks displays the author attribution right after the post title.

Internal Search Feature

Users get frustrated if they are looking for something specific and cannot see where to search for it. A surprising number of blogs offer no internal search engine at all, or position it in a place that is harder to find than Atlantis.

Catalyst Studios has its internal search feature at the top-right of the layout, a common location that users look to for search forms.

Blog Excerpt

Most blog themes provide the ability to display short text snippets of posts on the blog’s home page. Snippet length and formatting should be carefully calculated; when this is not done, the blog can look like the visual equivalent of alphabet soup.

N.Design Studio displays blog excerpts on the home page.

I could go on and on in this vein: seemingly minor features such as clickable titles, prominent “read more” links and image size and style consistency can make or break the blog. The main takeaway is that details are important.

3. Don’t Be Too Unorthodox: Follow Blog Design Patterns

Two places where designers should not flex their creative muscles are social buttons and subscriptions. To get users to follow on Twitter, connect on Facebook, tweet and Like posts and subscribe to the blog, the imagery and positioning of these features must be familiar.

Vandelay Design Blog places subscription buttons at the top-right of the blog layout using recognizable icons.

Joining a blogger’s community should be like buying gum at the checkout counter. If users have to exert effort to join your club, conversions are going to be terrible unless your content is irresistible. But even if it is, why make life difficult? I’ve never yet heard anyone say, “I subscribed to this blog because it had a really unusual RSS button.”

Social sharing buttons are tricky. If you display buttons for every social network under the sun, you may wind up confusing the visitor. On the other hand, if you only include a few networks, you may sacrifice powerful shares on networks you don’t display.

As a default, my company includes share buttons for Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If we can identify other social networks that have particular strength with a blog’s audience, we will add them as well.

I like to display share buttons at the top and bottom of the post: some people will share just on the strength of the title and never even read the post; others will read the post thoroughly and be inclined to share at the end if they really like it.

The point is this: There are certain blog design patterns that you should be implementing and maintaining on the site’s design.

4. Have the Sidebar on the Right of the Web Layout

A common blog design pattern is having a section for auxiliary content, containing things such as a short description of the blog, a search form, banner ads, a listing of top blog posts and so on. This is typically a column in the web layout and is usually narrower than the main content area column (to denote visual hierarchy). This section is often referred to as a sidebar (infrequently, it’s also called an aside).

Squarespace’s blog positions the sidebar on the right.

Nothing is quite so vexing to me as a blog whose sidebar is on the left. The natural movement of our eyes is from left to right: if we want visitors to read our blog post, we want their eyes to land on it first. This idea is reinforced by usability studies done by renowned usability expert Jakob Nielsen (e.g. Horizontal Attention Leans Left).

Some bloggers opt for the left sidebar on the theory that it will lead to more ad conversions (because ad banners are typically placed in the sidebar). While monetization is a worthy blogging goal, my belief is that on a blog, ad conversions are earned by enthusiasm for a blog’s content rather than mere positioning of an ad. Putting obstacles in the way of content put obstacles in the way of monetization.

5. Image Placement and Selection Need Serious Consideration

One statement with which writers and bloggers violently agree is that images enhance the appeal of a blog. However, where images are placed makes all the difference.

Best practice is to place images at the top of a post and/or top right. Similar to the sidebar issue, we do not want images to fight with the post for attention. Rather, we want the image to reinforce the message.

Beyond image placement, using (attractively styled) captions with images is an outstanding way to reinforce messaging. Images get more initial reads than text; a strong caption entices a visitor to read the post.

Matt Brett styles his images and captions well on his blog.

Outstanding blogs have a definite strategy behind their image selection. Blogs that appeal to technical folks often rely on annotated screenshots. Blogs that appeal to a more general readership tend to choose images that arouse curiosity or convey a message humorously. Our agency blog has taken the latter route and we’ve gotten very positive feedback from our readers.

Infographics are a fabulous image strategy since they have the potential to become viral. The challenge is the time and effort to create a series of useful and captivating infographics.

6. Put Careful Consideration on Ad Placement

Internet ads are, by nature, interruption marketing. Blogs, on the other hand, are social marketing. Mixing the two is like oil and water.

Make sure you understand your audience before saturating a blog with ads — you could be inviting a nasty backlash. Ongoing split testing of ad layout and positioning is time and money well spent if ad revenue is important. (If it isn’t important — why display ads at all?)

Do not use pop-up ads because they are annoying. Avoid places where ads detract from the content.

Instead, place ads above the post title and on the sidebar. These areas are widely regarded as appropriate for advertising; even “purists” who disdain blog advertising in principle probably won’t be put off, provided, of course, that the content is good.

7. Determine What’s Appropriate: Diary or Magazine Format?

We recently switched our agency’s Internet marketing blog from diary to magazine format. Our decision included the following considerations:

  • The blogosphere is saturated with diary-formatted blogs, and we wanted ours to stand out from the crowd.
  • In general, our posts are not time-sensitive. Chronology is not especially relevant to our readers.
  • We wanted to do away with post snippets altogether, as they looked rather clumsy despite our best efforts. Posts displaying titles only look cleaner in a magazine layout.
  • The magazine format gives more emphasis to our images, which we feel are strengths of the blog and motivate visitors to read our posts.
  • The magazine format visually separates individual posts more strongly than the diary format, where everything tends to flow together in a continuous stream.

Hopefully our experience will help you discern which format is best for your blog project. Without doubt, there are design solutions to the difficulties we experienced using a diary format, but regardless of which way you go, all of these issues affect readability and must be dealt with somehow.

Conclusion

What I admire about web designers is their ability to convey complex ideas with a simple yet powerful visual. If a designer understands what a post is trying to say, and what a blog in general is trying to say, the design will get the message across — often more powerfully than words.

So I would encourage designers to always ask questions of the client, the blogger, the creative director, the project manager and whoever is involved with shaping the content strategy behind the blog.

If you have doubts about the objective of your design work, the entire success of the blog is in doubt. That’s one thing I’m certain of!

About the Author

Brad Shorr is Director of Content and Social Media for Straight North, a Chicago-based Internet marketing firm that specializes in B2B. He works closely with technical clients including BluePay, a provider of merchant processing services and TSI, a performance measurement solutions manufacturer. Follow him on Twitter @bradshorr and Facebook.

Incredible Stories, and Credible Sources.

Recently I was given an assignment for my English Comp. II class to determine the validity of two online articles as scholarly sources. Although journalism is often not as strict as academics, it is always necessary to check your sources. The URL’s to the two articles are below, you might want to look at them in order to understand my critique.

Blast

Oreskes

The following is from my analysis paper:

Blast vs. Oreskes – How to Decide

Global warm is a highly controversial and debated topic. This topic does not only have ramifications for the proposed health of the earth but it also has bearing on politics, quality and convenience of life, the advancement of technology, as well as the economy. There are countless voices that speak to the issue but a great divide still remains on either side of the issue. How is one to decide?

Joseph Blast, creator of The Heartland Institute, wrote on his own blog about this heated topic. He insists, as noted by his provocative title, that global warming is a scam. He referenced several scientific agencies, studies, and opinions. He seems quite steadfast in his belief and unwilling to budge. His article, although clear and easy to read, comes of like a rant with a crystal clear agenda.

Naomi Oreskes, author of The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, writes a quite scholarly article publish in an elite scientific journal. She write referencing solid research, as far as I know, and has passed the rigorous vetting process required to be published. Her tone is calm and humble in spite of her high academic scholarship. She even makes provision that she may be wrong in light of future research.

Regardless of my persuasion on the issue Ms. Oreskes seems to be a significantly more credible source, and I feel her writing carries more weight in the scientific community.

 

Infographic – The Internet Now vs. 1996

This infographic was found at Ragan’s PR Daily’s website. In case you have not notice, the internet has changed alot since it’s inception and this infographic is a great creative representation of of this drastic change.

TAKE A LOOK: (CLICK TO MAKE BIGGER!)

Hey Guys, Let’s Be Productive.

Here is a great video on doing some fun but practical thing to increase your productivity. Also, browse LifeHacker’s Youtube page, great stuff.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.