Posted by: Jamie Ann | July 16, 2015

Hi everyone :)

Here’s a link to an interesting strategic communications piece regarding Planned Parenthood video sting. Key strategic take-away: Challenges become educational opporutnities. However, in the throes of initial panic, it may be hard to remember that. A good read though.

Posted by: Lucila Cejas | June 8, 2015

Pie charts are not as easy as pie

I was looking for a useful chart that could summarize social media usage amongst teens and I came across this chart. What a great example of useful data presented in the worst possible way. Pie charts should be used when you are trying to compare parts of a whole, not random data that will look pretty in a circle.

teen-social-controlHave a good summer, everyone! And do not forget to share any good examples and offenses to communication.

Posted by: listonjoe | June 8, 2015

Bad News in Online Reviews


Whether you believe brands are bullies that stifle competition or not, brands have traditionally symbolized a promise to customers. If you buy a pair of Nike running shoes or a Happy Meal from McDonalds, a brand gives you an indication of the experience you’ll have and the quality of product/service you’ll receive.  For many, it takes the work out of determining what product is best for you.

With online reviews, suddenly you can explore a bit more easily. You might find a highly rated product on Amazon that is cheaper than the big name brand, for example.  Or, you might discover that that big name TV that you were going to buy has a two star rating on Amazon, changing your course…and potentially saving you a few bucks.

For years now, like many people, I’ve used Amazon as a great research tool for finding quality products at decent prices. Honest reviews from consumers like myself are worth a lot to me, and can strongly influence my decision.  Online reviews give consumers greater power in their purchasing decisions.

I can see that changing, though. This past weekend, I was hunting down solar landscape spotlights on Amazon.  Spotting a reasonably priced option, I started digging into the consumer reviews. I noticed that 3 out of every 5 reviews or so ended with the phrases like ‘Disclaimer: I was provided a free light in exchange for this review,’ or ‘I was given a 15% discount in exchange for this review.’ Naturally, each of those reviews was 4-5 stars.

This is going to kill the credibility of reviews on Amazon.

I don’t know that this is new phenomenon – it might not be. If every product has reviews that are paid for, savvy consumers will no longer believe them, thus taking power away from consumers and forcing us back to trusting big brand promises.  But hey, at least they let me know that their review was coerced.

Whether or not those reviews are accurate, why buy an off-brand that has to pay from positive reviews, when I can just go back to buying from an established brand?

My advice to these off-brands? Build your own brand by holding true to your values. Give consumers quality products and great service, and the positive reviews will follow.

Posted by: Lucila Cejas | June 8, 2015

A little humor to alleviate the stress

We are less than a day away from finishing our first year of graduate school. Some of you have turned in your final project, but most of us are still typing until our knuckles hurt.

While researching the evolution of marketing to see how different generations were targeted, I came across the work of the amazing Tom Fishburne and I just HAD to share it with you. Here is one I liked:


Check out more at Worth the scroll!

Posted by: Lucila Cejas | June 3, 2015

Data visualization so bad it is GOOD

When I went to bed on Monday night after class, I spent a very long time scrolling through Spurious Correlations, often laughing at the ridiculous connections between data. In a time where infographics can be the difference between a dead or highly popular post, it is important to understand what is being presented to us and how.

I could not help myself but to look a little further and find examples of terrible data for us to enjoy.

Business Insider was kind enough to compile The 27 Worst Charts Of All Time for me to share with you. Here are some good ones:


What a useless chart…


And this one is just ridiculous


And if you have a lot of time in your hands between final papers and life, take a look at this website. You could spend hours in it taking a look at bad attempts of data visualization.

Posted by: Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. | June 3, 2015

Measurement revisited

As discussed in class on Monday, the Cheshire Cat reminds us that “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there!” Remember, goals are those broad, sweeping big picture outcomes you want to achieve. Objectives are the quantifiable and time delimited specific outcomes your plans and activities (strategies and tactics) should achieve. Simply Measured is one resource you might want to tap into to help guide you in the way you look at measurement. In a recent article from another regular resource on my list, Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog, the author discusses the study I mentioned in class on Monday about social media metrics and the importance of understanding what it is you are trying to do in order to understand how to measure it! Check it out:

Posted by: lindsaym88 | June 1, 2015

Spread the Word

In looking at the power of brand communication versus word of mouth and shared experiences of clients, for-profit colleges offer an interesting case study. Over the past year, I have read a lot about the decline of Corinthian Colleges, and now Everest College. Multiple articles have been written and shared regarding the manipulative tactics employed by these so-called “career colleges” to increase enrollment and entrap students in crippling debt with an education that will not yield employment sufficient to cover the costs.

In effort to provide more oversight for these colleges, the Obama Administration has enacted the “gainful employment” law, which prevents institutions which are unable to adequately provide employment appropriate to the debts incurred by its students to receive government funding.

This is one case (of many) in which brand awareness and the ease of communication has worked to debunk and dismantle a corrupted system.

Additional reading:

Posted by: Rachel Fleenor | May 30, 2015

The Heart of Safeway

Hello, class –

A week or two ago, I mentioned that I saw a Safeway truck on the freeway on my way to class. It had a different look to it; rather than simply stating “Ingredients for Life,” like I am accustomed to, it featured hearts and the color green and a mention of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

I have been wondering about it ever since (and wishing that I had taken a picture, but alas, I was driving…).

If you’re curious and want to know more about Safeway’s CSR, here’s a link to The Heart of Safeway.

safeway csr

Posted by: listonjoe | May 30, 2015

What is Strategic Communication?

Business Communication Duplicate model

“What exactly are you studying?”

“What is Strategic Communication anyway?”

Over the past year, these questions have been asked of my cohort and I many times. It has almost become a source of amusement for us, but it also means that an explanation is in order. I am going to step up to the plate and take a swing at providing one.

At times, I’ve said that Strategic Communication is a business oriented communications degree. It is, but saying it only applies to business is selling it short. It is something that can be applied to not only businesses, but also to non-profits, the government or any other organization, including your local middle school’s PTA.

You see, every organization has goals they want to achieve or problems they want to solve. For corporations it might be keeping both internal and external stakeholders informed and satisfied in the midst of a CEO transition. For a non-profit, it might be about determining why donations have dropped over a period of time. For the PTA, it might be to find a better way to encourage parent participation.  A bank hit with a data breach will need a crisis communication plan to communicate with its customers and the general public.

The arrows this program are putting in my quiver allow me to perform a financial analysis of a organization, and conduct sound research via both quantitative (like surveys) and qualitative methodologies (ethnographies, for example). Once the research and analysis are done, I’ll have the skills to develop and direct a communication plan that can be effectively used to achieve these goals and solve these problems.

It may not have the simplest definition, but Strategic Communication is a powerful, integrated solution that involves the coming together of multiple disciplines, including business analysis, marketing, public relations, social media, and corporate communication to keep organizations healthy and successful.

Reading Exercise Post 3:4. Jamie Schaub
Chapter 14 Qualitative methodology matters
Exercise 14.1 (p.311)

This exercise asked me to think about my terminal project as a public scholarship, and how it can make an impact within the homeless youth community I will be studying. I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on how my final project could be utilized in real-life and not just as a final requirement for my degree.

The Questions

1. What are my obligations and how can I give back? My primary obligation to the homeless youth community is to treat each person with respect and without character judgment. This may go without saying, but I know that for me, I will have to keep my inner-judgment and jury in check. My secondary obligation to the homeless youth I interview is anonymity of my final data analysis and storytelling. Kids don’t want to be identified, especially if they left a violent home or are worried about retribution from former beefs and conflicts. Ensuring that their identity will be known only to me until the data is destroyed in a timely fashion.

I want to give back tools, recommendations and insights that are meaningful, helpful and authentic for working with or who are homeless youth. What this looks like I don’t know, but I do know that as long as I keep true to my obligations, the answer to this question will appear.

2. Identify other key stakeholders who may be interested in your research or findings: In my mind, I have two stakeholder groups, they are: the homeless kids I interview and those who I do not interview, Outside In Board of Directors and staff, and other social service agencies who specialize in homeless youth services. Another group who may be interested in my findings are social media developers – they may feel inspired to create a new app or social media space for this population.

3. How might I communicate main findings to these stakeholders? This question implies to think beyond the academic approach. I could present my main findings, insights and recommendations to Outside In board or staff meetings, submit a blog post, develop web content for Outside In and other service-agencies, create a community-lead Facebook page that has tools, resources and insights, leave findings at homeless youth hang-outs, pass out the information, etc.

4. How can I translate my findings into a feasible way, given time and resources available? If I understand the question correctly, I would create two narratives: one for academia, and one that is geared toward the public, such as a white paper. Both would entail compelling storytelling, yet the white paper would be told after I had completed my academic requirement (with a bit longer timeline to complete).

Again, another great exercise with perfect timing!

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