To Read or Not To Read
One thing has been made clear to me while looking for a career in public relations and communications: If I plan to be successful in this field, I have to be a voracious reader. I’m not just talking about the assigned textbooks or instructor’s handouts from my classes. I mean the type of reading where you read so much the printed letters start to blur together.
While I realize the profound necessity and value of developing a deep knowledge of the world around me, I have to admit that my efforts have not reached the level I desire. As I try to absorb the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, DIGG, Mashable, and USA Today each morning, the formidable nature of the task can become overwhelming as I try to simultaneously keep up with my required course readings, long and sometimes obtuse academic subjects. With the barrage of course readings, it’s challenging (to the say the least) when “life” and the “world” around me want me to pay attention to them as well.
The biggest lesson I have received from reading is realizing how I look and approach written material. Since expanding my consumption of news headlines I have discovered my method in reading has changed. Because of time constraint and the mass number of articles that are produced, I have learned to quickly scan an article and obtain all necessary information. I’m not alone as the new way of reading has been transformed by social media and the quantity of information it pushes out. News intake happens quickly and people have an expectation to know the details of a story in the first two paragraphs, and even that is being generous.
With the advancement of today’s technology such as e-readers and tablets our brains have shifted in how news is comprehended.
Writing content today means getting straight to the point and having something to say. It also requires eliminating any unneeded words or jargons. Whether its news releases or any other form of communication, the new rule is, “less is more”. Therefore as a writer I must shift my production of content.
That said, I have found some new tools to help me manage all of my reading and still keep on top of today’s news. Thanks to the discovery of ‘Save for Later’ reading apps, I’m able to manage my readings.
My first go to tool is a great app called “Pocket”. Pocket is a lifesaver. Basically, you can save any news article or webpage from your computer and read it later on your phone. This is great for me as it allows me to read in complete stories that I might not have time to read while I’m sitting at my computer. I can instead read them “on the go”. It’s ideal because you don’t need a wireless signal with Pocket which means I can be deep underground in the subway and still be educating myself on world events and topics of importance to me and my career. And it has other features that add to its usefulness, such as being able to send articles to friends , tag articles, or even little things like choose different fonts.
Another app that was suggested to me was “Instapaper”. Initially designed for Apple products, Instapaper has made its way to other platforms. It is similar to Pocket and has basically the same news saving features. The biggest difference is the cost. Pocket is free whereas Instapaper costs 3.99 for the Apple compatible platform and $2.99 for Android friendly.
When I do find the time to study the headlines to see what’s current, a lifesaver has been the webpage Feedly.com. This was brought to my attention by my Professor and, since then, it has allowed me to see the current news along with the headlines from any news source. The site provides in chronological time order news as its happening. It does it with easy to read headlines and a preview of the story itself. Want to finish reading? Simply click on the link for the full story. This is a dream site for someone in communications as each refresh brings you the latest.
I’m sure there are other tools and apps out there. If I missed anything I would love to know. Also if there is an effective way to deliver content with limited word usage, please share. To read or not to read isn’t a question. It’s a fact that in the world of communication you must. And recognizing how others read will help me create engaging dialogue, even if it’s 140 characters and less.
It appears Samsung is aiming to become the king of guerrilla marketing with its recent marketing ploy. Last week Samsung came under fire for its latest ‘unscripted’ marketing stunt promoting its Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone. It all started with Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, capturing a ‘selfie’ moment when the team made a recent visit to the White House. Samsung, who has an endorsement deal with Mr. Ortiz, decided it would be a great promotion for them since after all a Samsung phone captured the moment. The ‘moment’ was immediately tweeted by Samsung to its 5.26 million followers. Let’s just say the White House was not too amused. Since the ad, the White House announced banning ‘selfies’ with the President and conversations have populated message boards criticizing Samsung for disrespecting the highest office. The biggest criticism directed to Samsung, has been using the ad with non-approval.
Is this the new form of advertisement? Not necessarily the ‘selfie’ moment but the captured ‘organic’ moment when a subject is inserted in marketing campaigns without permission? This type of advertisement isn’t exactly new as the trend, especially used by movie companies promoting their latest flick, captures supposedly unaware people in a scripted situation. The one which quickly comes to mind is the advert for the 2013 horror movie Carrie, where oblivious NY’ers dining in a coffee shop, witness a woman toss furniture in the air with her mind. Of course the difference is once the camera stopped rolling, people were filled in on the prank and permission was asked to use footage.
Is the Candid Camera action of Samsung and others a rule changer or a fluke in advertisement? Should an everyday person have care when exposed in public to a ‘brand’ and unknowingly become the model for an ad? And since celebrities are considered ‘public domain’ are they in the cross-hairs of guerrilla marketers? Considering the president is a public figure, does it supersede giving permission to participate? The second aspect of Samsung’s recent marketing act, according to the persons involved, was Mr. Ortiz not knowing he was snapping what would be an ad. What are the new rules and expectations of the new technology? Or is this all hyperbole? Can one truly fault Samsung for capitalizing on this once in lifetime moment which probably won’t happen again?
It’s clear this one moment of social marketing didn’t cause the world to end and provides a great example of taking a moment and using it as an advantage to market a brand. After all is it Samsung’s fault the White House has no current policy which applies to ‘selfies’ and the prospect for gain. If any lessons should emerge from this, it would involve current companies or institutions examine their own policies as it relates to this topic.
The best thing about it was the cost. How can you beat free? Despite what monies were given to Mr. Ortiz if any, the ensuing news coverage provided more free press. It’s clear, especially for companies with small budgets; this may be the preferable way to go. For the second time this year Samsung is being rewarded by 3rd party journalistic endorsement with its creativity. The first was the ‘selfie’ heard around the world when Ellen DeGeneres and celebrities attending the Oscars, took what may or may not have been a spontaneous moment.
Immediately her tweet became one of the most retweeted posts as 779,295 tweets were obtained in half an hour and within an hour the number had risen to a million. Samsung was the second beneficiary of this instantaneous moment since it was their phone which captured the moment. Looking at the Ortiz ‘selfie’ with the president, it may not have risen to the level of Ellen’s moment but thanks to coverage by news outlets and the viral nature of it, we know Samsung is the impetus for the moment.
With the upcoming roll out of Google Glasses there may be more instances of ‘organic’ moments that will make great marketing campaigns but is it responsible marketing especially if people in the ad are unaware? What are the new rules of engagement? Is it an attempt to make something out of nothing? Until those questions are answered companies like Samsung and others will continue to be awarded with 3rd market engagement and any free coverage the ad provokes. In the meantime if you don’t want to be the next culprit, be mindful of those ‘selfies’
As a current student in the NYU Public Relations and Corporate Communications Masters program I’m proud to sit among other future communicators striving to develop the voice for businesses around the world. So far it’s met my expectations as I’m introduced to new social media tools which continue to challenge previous thinking and in the process learn the foundations of what makes a great PR professional. What I wasn’t expecting was the usage of my fellow student’s bad grammar and my own mishaps. A reality check showed the derailment of a writing career before it could begin based on the inability to write properly. If anything has been honed into our brains by the professors since the semester started it’s the repeated mantra of, grammar, grammar, and grammar. I can still hear all the unified educator voices in my head. “Learn to write well” Personally I felt the warning to be over-saturated but after taking a PR course where we are required to edit fellow students work, I became a believer in the dire foretelling our professors warned. Houston we not only have a problem but we have many uncompleted and misconstrued sentences.
Of course I would need to be perfect in my own writing skills to bring up such an important issue, but I will freely admit I’m not. Yet the bulk of my writing experience comes from composing blogs, research reports and even letters. From this advantage point writing well is a tool I’ve developed, recognizing I’m publishing material for public consumption. Another convenience I had growing up was not having access to today’s technology. I admit I’m not from the millennial generation so the short cut technology of platforms like Facebook and Twitter wasn’t a strong part of my toolkit. There was no such thing as ‘LOL’ or ‘Bcuz’ as we had to write out the entirety of our thoughts on paper. Yes I said paper!
Unfortunately the using of social media made us lose the valuable skill of grammar and sentence/paragraph structure as I discovered among my fellow mates. Upon reviewing a colleague’s paper I was inundated with fragmented sentences and confusing word choices. The biggest infraction is the overuse of commas. You’d think they were giving them away based on the freely placed symbols blanketing each sentence. Another common issue witnessed is the insertion of copy and paste material. One such fellow student’s PR media kit had 85% copy and paste material and 15% original. And worse, the copy and paste submission didn’t have the not proper citations. Plagiarism much?
Grammar is not as difficult as it seems but if I could offer some advice I would say:
- Read until your eyes fall into your lap. Facebook timelines don’t count like other printed such as newspapers; books and magazines are a great source of reading material. This helped expose me to words I could introduce into my vernacular. In addition my writing is now more relevant based on my awareness of current events.
- Edits are your friend and not your enemy. In this age of wanting to be the first to report, many don’t take the time to “READ ALOUD” what they just wrote. If so done they would immediately recognize how their writing is not clear. You would have to be frickin’ geniuses to produce non-error writing in one take. Step back and then go back has always been my motto.
- When it comes to edits, don’t take it personal when others point out your mistakes. I know a classmate who doesn’t let others edit her paper as she was disturbed by all the red correction marks she got back. She felt they were trying to rewrite her paper. I wanted to say to her, he/she who wields their red pen aggressively is a good friend. Even with my own experience I had to tell myself it’s a good reflection on me as a writer to go through the process of putting out a well written paper.
- The past is the past so let it go. This is my biggest stumbling block, turning off my passive voice and shifting to one which is active. I blame the many years of blogging and writing plays. Writing for business whether its press releases or articles requires the here and the now. So words like, ‘was’ ‘will’ and ‘has’ should become eliminated from any writings set in the present tense.
- Administer the pertinent pronouncement unadulterated. The following line deciphered in real people talk means, ‘keep it simple’. I’m not a big fan of unnecessary words. I rarely observe moments when I’m saying, “Wow this writer is so smart”. Instead I’m more like “Why don’t they just say what they need to say”. I think the only people who are impressed by big words are your parents as they see all the money spent on your education paid off. Me-not so much.
- Microsoft Word is not always your BFF. I’m sorry to shatter any relationship with the big blue W but honestly depending on Microsoft to catch all your writing errors is like expecting Justin Bieber to sing opera. It’s just not going to happen and Microsoft will let you down repeatedly if your litmus test is the red squiggled line under your misspelled word. Nothing beats correcting your work like a good set of eyes, preferably not your own.
- Lastly-what are you trying to say? I think one of the evils attending college is the fear we’re not reaching the word count. To achieve this we add a lot of fluff and make our sentence lines double space to fill out the paper. In actuality you’ve just filled your paragraphs with meaningless information and have nothing to say. Having a good idea of what you want to write is a good start and for myself I actually begin with the ending. By knowing how I want to finish I can focus on supporting my argument. The key is to know when to stop and recognize you said all which needed to be said. Just like using big words, unnecessary long reports will not make you an enduring person.
So as I pursue my own education I disclose this blog entry you’re reading has been read and reread by me and several other people. But I know I’m going to see episodes where I’m not going to catch all the mistakes. As long as I sharpen my tools of grammar I feel confident as a public relations professional I will learn the ability to communicate strongly and effectively…..without all the fluff!