Monthly Archives: December 2011

“Aww, here it goes!”

by Bailey Carpenter

It was 11 p.m. on a weeknight, and having finally finished my homework, I settled in bed to watch TV. As I scrolled down the channel guide, I came to a sudden halt when I saw “Clarissa Explains It All” in one of the blue boxes, followed by “Kenan & Kel,” “All That” and “Doug.” I immediately slammed my thumb down on the “select” button.

What was this glorious gift from the TV gods? The first commercial break offered me an answer: “The 90s are All That” brought to you by the good people at TeenNick. It appeared someone had finally wised up at Nickelodeon studios and brought back TV favorites from the 90s, satisfying the cravings of 90s children nationwide.

Having previously planned to go to bed early, I ended up staying up into the early hours of the morning absorbing every second of shows that tickled my memory and made me miss my light-up Keds and neon windbreaker suit.

My excitement peaked, however, when another commercial break advertised the Twitter hashtag #90sAreAllThat and handle @90sareallthat_. I immediately pulled up the Twitter feed and found that I was not alone. Thousands of my peers were vigorously tweeting about the two-hour block:

audude08: “Its U Pick on @90sareallthat_ now watching #Doug. I love those 90s Nick shows… brings back the memories.”

AdamChaseFields: “@90sareallthat_ is the best thing that’s happened to television in SO long”

Kayla Aldridge: “@90sareallthat_ thanks for playing all these shows that i love.”

Bralein: “Made a Twitter account because I wanted to tell @90sareallthat_ that I want to see Aaahh!!! Real Monsters!”

Being the PR nerd that I am, I could not help but to reflect on the way Nickelodeon was not only bringing back its original audience from the 90s, but also incorporating the current lifestyle of that audience.

Nickelodeon is not the only network to take advantage of these connections: both Facebook and Twitter exploded with posts from my peers when Disney brought The Lion King back to theaters. According to a PR Newswire article, the film grossed $30 million in its opening weekend.

It seems now that my generation has some discretionary income, networks like Disney and Nickelodeon are using nostalgia to re-gain us as an audience and increase their profits.

In an Oct. 21 blog post, Kiren Pooni said, “The marketing and PR industries have successfully used nostalgia to play on the emotional connections consumers build with brands. When this is done well it is possible for former glories to be restored.”

It is safe to say that Nickelodeon and Disney have both “restored their former glory.” The 90s Are All That has expanded to include the TV show “Hey Dude” and brought back Stick Stickly to host an “interactive” portion of the two-hour block. Stickly’s show plays different 90s Nickelodeon favorites, as voted for on the 90s Are All That Facebook page.

Disney not only profited from the theatrical re-release, but is also experiencing high sales for The Lion King Blu-ray DVD released Oct. 4.

“Consumers are jumping at the chance to re-engage with their past and wrap themselves in the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from nostalgia,” Pooni said.

One major advantage of The Lion King’s return to the theater was that it not only brought in lines of now 20-somethings wanting to relive their childhoods, but also introduced the film to a whole new generation of children.

“What is clear is that in times of doom and gloom, there is comfort to be found in the ‘good old days’ and if you can capture that feeling in a brand, product or even a musical comeback, you could well be onto a winner,” Pooni said.

It looks like PR practitioners everywhere need to follow in the footsteps of Nickelodeon and Disney. Or, as Kel Mitchell says in “Kenan & Kel,” they should just say “aww, here it goes!” and incorporate nostalgia into campaigns aimed at sustaining audiences.

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Filed under The Industry

Chill out, super woman

by Emily Diab

The frenzy of Operation: Crackdown has begun for many college seniors, and for some of them it’s too little too late. But for others, the intense feeling of utter stress from the commitment they’ve applied for years will soon pay off. They will walk across the graduation stage and gleam with pride, finally getting a chance to breathe. But contrary to the “end of the road” analogy, that’s not where the crackdown ends.

Some people like to think that the celebratory stroll to receive the coveted diploma is the end of a long road and the beginning of breathing easy. Those people are wrong.

The hardworking PR students who land a career post-grad are smart enough not to let their work ethic die, in fear of losing their money source and sense of being. This tenacity is a familiar token in the successful women of PR, but can be detrimental if it isn’t resisted.

A recent Forbes article by Larissa Faw addressed the “burnout” condition that many young professionals, specifically women, are experiencing.

“One reason that women are burning out early in their careers is that they have simply reached their breaking point after spending their childhoods developing well-rounded resumes,” Faw said.

We have been coached for years on how to develop professionally, network with connections and ultimately land the careers of our dreams. Many of us haven’t had a second to breathe, in fear of losing out on a rare opportunity for success. We are in a competitive environment, and have been made well aware of the risks we take by not striving to be the best.

Do you smell something burning?

As you read this, you might be nodding your head in agreement. Those of you who agree have probably been blessed with the firm force of strict professors and the personality of a success-driven maniac. Most of us have been PR practitioners since preschool, and we will thrive as adults in the world we were born for.

But the reality is, Super Woman does not exist. The superhero powers we expect from ourselves are not the reality, and the burnout theory proves it.

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Filed under Career, The Industry

Will SOPA curtail creativity?

by Megan Reichenbach

The Stop Online Piracy Act (also known as the Protect IP Act in the Senate) is a new initiative copyright owners are taking to “isolate and shut down websites or online services found with infringing content.”

Should we be worried?

SOPA’s primary goals seem to be legitimate, giving those artists the money they deserve for work that is being displayed online by others. The problem is that this bill has been reworked and now includes a requirement for pre-screening all user-contributed content.

In essence, we are looking at a future of broad Internet censorship . . . aka, changing the entire nature of what the Internet has become. Some even believe this act to be the “Great Firewall of America.”

The beginning

In late October 2011, the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would extend our federal government’s ability to stop foreign sites from using pirated content developed by U.S. businesses. This includes websites that steal music, videos and software from U.S. corporations.

As I noted, the initial purpose of the bill seemed reasonable. Many people illegally download music, films and television series rather than paying the 99 cents to download from iTunes. In reality, such stinginess is leaving those music producers and filmmakers with empty pockets.

It’s estimated that Hollywood studios and record labels are losing up to a $135 billion a year from piracy alone.

But, eradicating domain names all together may “disrupt the way the Internet is designed to work today and put too much of a burden on search engines and Internet service providers in blocking suspected sites.”

The SOPA buzz

It’s no secret that SOPA has been the ongoing gossip in the cyber world. The bill suggests that those individuals and companies that publish about or link to others’ works may be accused of piracy.

This would include all of us who retweet, post or even write about another person’s publication. According to an infographic on Mashable.com, “sites you visit may be blocked, email providers may be forced to censor certain links you send or receive” and “the links and content you share on social networks will be carefully monitored and possibly censored.”

I just have one question . . . where are my privacy rights?

A threat to our future?

SOPA also threatens the future of job searching and innovation through online techniques. Sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have recently been job searchers’ platforms for getting their names into the industry market.

Unlike traditional resume builders, LinkedIn, a professional social media site, allows individuals to offer links to personal sites such as Twitter and Facebook accounts, upload professional résumés and add photos to your profile.

Are we all going to have to resort back to the simple résumés built on Microsoft Word? This limit on creativity could be the catalyst for never getting that dream job.

Those of us searching for a job in this ever-so-difficult market need to have the ability to put our names out there in ways that show off our individuality. The sites Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have given us that opportunity.

In retaliation to the serious risk the bill is imposing, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga sent a letter to the U.S. Congress voicing their concerns.

These companies respect the goal of enforcing additional tactics to combat illegitimate copyright and counterfeit sites. But, they urge the legislators to “preserv[e] the innovation and dynamism that [have] made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.”

Instead of tweeting about Kourtney Kardashian’s recent pregnancy announcement or who will play in the national college football championship, maybe we should all be concerned with the direction the Internet is going. Are all of our posts, tweets and blog postings going to be accused of counterfeit?

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Filed under Career, Ethics

Beyond the headline

by Alex Reichenbach

There is one writing tool that all PR practitioners know like the back of their hand — the press release.

This basic “who, what, when, where, why and how” document has always been a major component of the public relations industry. But many of us fail to realize there is a science behind this straightforward, informational piece.

Dan Zarella, social media scientist at Hubspot, shared secrets in a Webinar that go beyond the simple writing components and into the actual data behind the effectiveness of press releases.

We all know press releases are distributed to a variety of media outlets. But how can we really determine whether or not viewers are reading the press release? Hubspot has partnered with PRNewswire and gained valuable information that has made a great impact on the effectiveness of press releases.

Zarella believes looking at the total views will reveal statistics of the release that will help publishers reach a higher number of viewers.

According to Zarella, the total views represents the total amount of times someone has looked at a release, whether it was through RSS feeds, e-mails, search engines or other outlets. An important aspect of the total views is the fact that it calculates the number of times someone reads the actual release, NOT just the headline.

Now let’s look at a variety of ways you can publish a release to reach the highest number of viewers.

What day should you publish?

Every day of the week has a different number of total views. Surprisingly, the most effective day to publish a press release is either Saturday or Sunday. This seems shocking to me, being that Saturdays and Sundays are considered days of leisure for many. But Zarella has a very interesting reasoning behind this.

“If everyone at a party was screaming and shouting, you would have to yell just to be heard,” Zarella said. “But if you say something awkward, you will be heard.”

In other words, it’s not the norm to publish a press release on the weekends, while it is extremely popular in the middle of the week. If you choose to publish on these seemingly awkward days, you will most likely be noticed.

What time should you publish?

The time of day you choose to publish a release may be the most important factor when calculating the total views. For those of you who stay up late, you’ll be happy to know press releases published between 12 and 1 a.m. are correlated with a higher number of total views. If you think about it, when publishers arrive to work early in the morning, they are most likely going to see your release before anyone else’s.

Zarella mentioned a benefit of publishing at these hours that had never crossed my mind. If your press release is intended for viewers across the world, these hours are very accommodating to time zones outside of the U.S. Your press release will capture a global audience.

How many characters in a headline?

What’s so important about the number of letters in a headline? Believe it or not, the headline is the most important aspect of the press release. If it doesn’t appeal to the reader, there is no reason for them to read what you have to say.

According to Zarella, the secret behind an effective headline is to stay between 120 and 140 characters. This is especially important when promoting a release through social media outlets. Social media users would understand how posts more than 140 characters are boring and most likely overlooked.

To be effective with your headlines, stick to the basics and know how to appeal to your readers.

Are pictures really worth it?

Publishing a release with photos is correlated with much higher total views. This shouldn’t surprise any of us. If we are browsing the Internet, we are prone to click on a picture to read more, rather than a bunch of words.

Publishers who include a picture with their release are setting themselves apart from other publishers and will be more successful in reaching their target audiences.

The successful press release

Press releases are writing tools that are used on a day-to-day basis. In the public relations world, publishing your press release can be extremely competitive. By following these Hubspot secrets, you can be certain your release will not only be published, but also read by your viewers.

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Filed under Career, The Industry