Posted by: JenLuecht | May 19, 2015

Big Data Gone Wild

Kraft has a serious data quality problem:

“Kraft recently ran a campaign in which it used third-party data to target female consumers. Afterwards, it went back to find out the data overlay was 50 percent accurate. Another campaign was targeting trendy females, and it found that what made a woman ‘trendy’ was she had visited a high-end furniture store site once in the previous six months.”

It might be a good idea to double-check the supply chain for consumer classifications BEFORE the campaign starts…


Data is dangerous when in Frank Underwood’s hands (image credit).

Posted by: katieaoreilly | May 14, 2015

Internet shaming: Virtual Vigilantism

sacco tweetHere it is, the Tweet heard ’round the world. Justine Sacco (at that time the senior director of corporate communications at IAC, ironically) tried her hand at sarcasm in 140 characters, and the rest is history. She pressed send, turned off her phone, slept through her 11 hour international flight to Cape Town, and woke up the target of internet furor. Around the world, people were tracking her plane’s location using the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. Others were waiting at the Cape Town airport to snap photos of the moment she realized what she had done. Her reputation was destroyed, her credibility demolished, and her character torn apart by people she had never met. Certainly the tweet was in poor taste, but did Sacco’s punishment truly fit the crime?

In his newest book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Penguin, 2015)Jon Ronson examines the rise of online public shaming and the psychological toll it takes on its victims. The digital age makes it possible for anyone with an internet connection to be an arbiter of social justice when wrong-doing is perceived. Within hours, one person’s innocent mistake can explode into a virtual witch hunt; angry mobs forming behind their keyboards, ready to drag the perpetrator into the digital town square and pass judgement. This “democratization of justice” has proven to be an effective tool for keeping corporations and brands honest, but do individuals deserve the same level of watchdogging from the public? More importantly, why do we, the public, find so much joy in the destruction of another person? Is the online shaming of today any different from the public floggings and scarlet letters of old?

As students, we make a hobby of examining the social media mishaps of others through a professional or academic frame. I suggest we look at the same scenarios with a little more empathy. Go ahead and hold someone accountable for their actions, but at least be constructive. There’s no need to threaten someone’s well being. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, should you say it online?

And then there’s this… The Atlantic reviews Kim Kardashian’s recent 448-page selfie book, Selfish. She’s a brand and she’s a machine. Interesting article that makes me wonder about a lot of things, including who would buy the book, why it was published, and why do I care enought to have read the review and blog about it?

Posted by: Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. | May 12, 2015

Is this the new “body language?”

What do you think? (Today, from eMarketer) Be sure to read on… full story link at bottom.

Who Needs Words When You Have Emojis?

Half of Instagram comments and captions contain emojis

May 12, 2015

Are emojis the new “internet slang” (a title once held by acronyms such as LOL)? Based on recent data from Digiday, the answer is yes. According to Swyft Media, 6 billion emoticons or stickers are sent every day via mobile messaging apps worldwide.

– See more at:

Posted by: stratcommpdx | May 11, 2015

The science of interviewing

In this week’s assignment, we studied qualitative research interview structure, methods, types and best practices on conducting interviews face-to-face and technologically mediated. As part of my research project, I also read chapters of the book “Interviewing: The Oregon Method”, a compilation of essays written by professors of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Jon Palfreman, PBS Frontline and NOVA Producer, contributed with the essay “Interviewing Scientists”, which describes the key attributes to a successful career in science communication – preparation, interest in science, and broad understanding of the scientific vocabulary.

In addition to these attributes, the journalist emphasizes that while journalists dedicate equal time to competing political viewpoints, this behavior was inadequate in science, especially because some of the standpoints are simply wrong. Palfreman explains that science journalism is “committed to the balance of evidence rather than the balance of opinion”.

In a recent interview, Neil deGrasse Tyson addresses the existing denial of science and its repercussions in the media. “There’s this journalistic ethos saying if I get one opinion then I need to get another opinion that countervails that. So if I say the world is round, are you obligated to say the world is flat, lest someone think you are being biased in your reporting? Well, that’s absurd. (…) You know that there are certain points of view that have no foundation at all in objective truth”, asserts deGrasse Tyson.

I am interested in analyzing how the 2016 Presidential campaign will focus scientific topics and whether the media will follow the standard process of granting equal amount of time to discuss diverging views around scientific issues or establish a scientific standpoint in the news reporting.

Posted by: Lucila Cejas | May 11, 2015

Interviewing Adolescents

As I continue to gather secondary research on Generation Z and branding, I begin to narrow the focus of my study. Part of the planning process is to understand the intricate and powerful art of interviewing. As our textbook says, it is crucial to gather the relevant literature on the topic and understand the research goals in order to properly conduct an insightful interview.

There have been many definitions as to what the precise age bracket is for the so-called Generation Z. The New York Times said Gen Z’ers were born in the mid 90’s to the early 2000’s, the Business Insider says they are between 13 and 20 years old, and the Huffington Post said they are aged 13 to 17. Based on these sources, I believe the ideal sample for this study are young people between the age of 13 and 18.

Due to the constraint that I will have in time and resources, it would be wise for me to rely on an opportunistic and convenient sampling plan. By contacting friends and relatives and asking them to forward my interview request to subjects that would fit the criteria, I expect to achieve a level of snowball sampling, expanding my pool.

What is the ideal number of interviewees? This is where it gets complicated. Not enough interviews will make for a “shallow and stale” contribution, yet too many would be overwhelming to process between transcripts and response analyses. At the moment, I believe I should keep my sample to a dozen interviewees.

Based on the types of interviews described in the textbook, the respondent kind would be more suitable for the study I want to conduct. Respondent interviews are characterized for having subjects with experiences that attend to the research goals. Interviewees need to speak for themselves and share their motivations, experiences, and behaviors on a topic. Since I will be exploring their perception of brands, as well as the expectations they will have from them, this kind of approach would allow me to get the answers I am hoping for.

Stances are key to the interview process. The way I approach my subjects will have a huge impact on the responses I will get. Since my interviewees will be teenagers, I think a friendship model of interviewing would be best. This feminist approach requires the interviewer to act friendly and treat interviewees as acquaintances. Teens are known for being stubborn when it comes to getting information out of them, so this approach could allow them to feel more comfortable around me and have a casual conversation about the topic.

Here are some questions I would ask during my interview. As my research continues, I will be able to narrow down the topics and work on probes in order to maximize my interviewing efforts.

  • What are your favorite brands? What attracts you to them?
  • Can you think of an ad campaign that you liked? What was special about it? Where did you see it? Would you have changed anything?
  • Describe your ideal CEO. Why are these qualities important? How will they affect your chances to buy a product?
  • When you hear a brand story, what stands out to you? What kind of stories do you want to hear from brands?
  • What should brands want from you? What is your role with them?

I am also considering choosing recognizable brands and ask my subjects to describe them to understand what aspects attracts them the most. What do you guys think?

Posted by: listonjoe | May 9, 2015

Know Your Audience: Ethnographic Research

A woman interviewing another woman.[url=/my_lightbox_contents.php?lightboxID=4695746]Click here for more[/url] with these models.

Ethnography is not the name of some obscure album from the 1980s, but it sounds like it. If you have customers that you want to sell to, or communicate with, ethnographic research needs to be one of the first tools that you pull out of your toolbox.

As we have been discussing recently here in the strategic communications program, ethnographic research allows you understand your customers, stakeholders or any other constituency at a personal level, allowing you to discern their motivations, desires and reasons they make the decisions they do, buying or otherwise. Once you know them better as human beings, you can develop better strategies to effectively communicate with them.

An ethnographer spoke to our class, bringing with her engaging and interesting stories from the world of ethnographic research. She talked about her experience performing ethnographic research on Microsoft customers. Not corporate customers, but average people who use Microsoft products. As described by her, Microsoft was an organization that seemed to value quantitative measures like numbers, trends, and percentages very highly. The implication being that they valued the numbers more than the human factors behind them.

I began to think more about Microsoft, and their string of unsuccessful product launches. From the Zune, to the Kin to the original Surface tablet/laptop to the recent controversial launch of the Xbox One. For a company with the vaults of money they have, and hallways and offices full of some the most intelligent people around, it has boggled my mind that they could, time after time, fail or underperform in their hardware strategy. The common denominator has been a fundamental misunderstanding of what customers want, and why they want what they want.

Having known people who have worked at Microsoft at various levels, it is clear to me that their focus has leaned toward percentages and numbers, while not truly understanding, on a human level, what those numbers may represent. To me, this seems to be their achilles heel.

It is clear that Microsoft has done ethnographic research, but do they ignore it? Do they misinterpret it? If so, they’ve spent billions of dollars attempting to reposition their products and repair the damage. Seems to me that it would be cheaper to do the research upfront, and realize its importance. There’s no doubt that quantitative research, like surveys, are important to ‘set the table’ in terms of understanding the world your customers live in, but to complete the picture you need qualitative measures, like ethnographic research, to truly understand how to meet their needs. Once their needs are met, you have happy customers.

In today’s world, where opinions burn like wildfire and spread just as fast, and when personal experiences are broadcast to the world, it is more important than ever to be sure you know the people you want to do business with and to develop a positive relationship with them. Otherwise, you run the high risk of failure. Failure, as Microsoft can tell you, is expensive.

Posted by: Rachel Fleenor | May 8, 2015

“Do you like puppies?” and other social experiments

“Just because you see someone with a puppy doesn’t mean you go home with them.”


“Because you don’t know him.”

Seems like a fairly harmless way to make the point, right? The “researcher” asked the parents’ permission, had everything filmed in public, and even followed up afterwards to help bring awareness to parents and teach children.

Where should society draw the line between what seem like “heartwarming” and helpful “social experiments” and what sometimes look like unethical treatment of children? For us, as Institutional Review Board (IRB) certified researchers, we understand the need to keep research subjects safe. According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), “The purpose of IRB review is to assure, both in advance and by periodic review, that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in the research.”

That is great for participants if you are an academic researcher, but what about individuals who conduct “social experiments” without any oversight?

I started thinking about this a few weeks ago when I saw this video on YouTube:

Here’s another example, from the same “research” group, called “Child Abuse Between Races! (Social Experiment).”


Do these videos look okay to you?

Sure, the videos make a point, but those children had to endure some harsh psychological — and physical — hits. Is it ethical to put children through these kinds of “experiments” to prove points about child abuse, kidnapping/abduction, human trafficking, or other issues?

These are just two clips among many others, some of which are entitled “Lost Child Experiment,” “Kidnapping Children Experiment,” “Kid Smoking Experiment,” “Homeless Child Experiment,” and etc.

Where do we draw the line?

Do there need to be “review boards” or does there need to be a form of accountability for these types of “experiments”?

And if so – is it practical to actually hold people accountable?

I would love to hear what you think in the comments!

Reading Exercise Post 3:4. Jamie Schaub
Chapter 7 Qualitative Quality – Interview planning and design.
Exercise 7.1 (p.133)

This exercise asked me to take a self-reflective approach and think about how I will be perceived as a researcher by my terminal project’s participants. In order for me to collect data for my terminal project, I will be asking homeless youth to take a survey about how they use social media to meet their basic needs such as food, shelter, healthcare services and employment. I also hope that I will be given the opportunity to interview face-to-face to gain more insights and take their photos to include in my final project. This is a lot to ask for from a population that considers themselves as outsiders’ and where trust is not easily nor quickly earned.

I hadn’t thought about what people would be thinking about me. I have been to busy thinking about how I am going reach them, overlooking the obvious which is how will I be perceived. My answers to the assignment’s self-reflective interviewing questions are below.

1. What are my obvious physical traits/demographics that my participants might see or notice? They will see that I am…

  • Female
  • White
  • Make-up less
  • No earrings
  • Smiles a lot
  • No wedding ring (I am going to take it off when in the field. I don’t want to be seen as a white suburban married woman)
  • No nail polish
  • Casually dressed, and depending on weather may or may not notice tattoos
  • Some may notice former ear lobes and lower lip piercing holes

2. What other qualities/characteristics of myself and interview style will be visible during the interviewing process?

  • Empathetic listener
  • Keeps strong eye contact
  • Shakes hands beginning and afterwards
  • Authentic
  • Funny
  • Fidgets (I confess)

3. How will these traits impact and influence the interview process? The data obtained? My relationships with the participants? I hope to quickly earn their trust by treating them with respect and with authentic humor. I want to be able to put them at ease (even though this kind of a situation is high-anxiety for me) and feel that during our time together, I am an interested friend and that they can share additional insights that are not asked by me either via the survey or face-to- face interview. I also hope that I will be able to take some photographs to include in my terminal project. For example, I want to take a photograph of fingers that are backlit against a smart phone.

I’m nervous but excited to experience this part of my final research project. I hope that it all goes well. Wish me luck!

We’ve heard over and over that an authentic brand is more than just a name – it is the heart and soul of the brand promise, the brand DNA.

In 1903, two crusty loggers worked with an infamous local brewer to open a beer parlor and gambling hall in NW Portland. The hall was an immediate success and gained popularity among many, including those en route to the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition. Over 100 years later – after making it through prohibition (and being granted the first liquor license in the state of Oregon) – this tasty neighborhood joint is once again making news, in a battle over brand ownership.


Besaw’s at brunch, including the over 100 year-old wooden bar.

Besaw’s is slated to close its doors on May 29, after which both the owner and developer have said they plan to re-open a version of the local joint. C.E. John (the developer) may own the Besaw’s brand name as matter of trademark law, but are they missing the point?

In his guest opinion essay in the Portland Business Journal, David Howitt says that it is his experience that C.E John will fail:

“Not because they are developers and not because growth is bad, but because they fell prey to their own arrogance and lack of understanding of the most important thing – us, the consumer. We are who votes, with our dollars, for those things that we love and believe in, and for people who have kept their promises.”

So…who will you vote for?

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