Plus-sized fashion

UNTJ4470- Ethics

Lane Bryant says 67% of U.S. women wear between sizes 14 to 34. Lane Bryant is a retail brand that has strived to break fashion norms and make plus-sized clothing fashionable.

Credit: Lane Brynat

Credit: Lane Bryant

The #ImNoAngel campaign was seen as a snub to Victoria’s Secret. You don’t have to be an angel to be seductive to find underwear that fits perfectly and that still makes you look and feel good. No one can deny that these models are beautiful. Yet it is rare to find women that look like this on runways and fashion magazines, even though these models are “the average woman.”

Lane Bryant launched a new campaign in time for the 2016 Spring/Summer presentations for New York Fashion week. #PlusIsEqual calls for equal representation for models of all sizes in the fashion industry. This campaign was even placed in the September issue of Vogue Magazine.

Lane Bryant is not the only fashion influencer challenging the standard norms of beauty. Italian Vogue, who is know for pushing the boundaries for the standard norms of beauty featured a plus sized models on its June 2011 cover- something American Vogue has never explicitly done.

Credit: Vogue Italia

Credit: Vogue Italia

Plus sized model Candice Huffine, who is not the Vogue cover and featured in both Lane Bryant campaigns, recently did an interview with the Washington Post discussing her career as a model and her thoughts on being categorized as plus sized.

To answer the question “what obligation do advertisers have in terms of goodwill toward the audience” in regards to issues of body image, Huffine provides some thoughts of her own.

“My theory is that if a designer puts a plus girl on the runway, it might imply they are making plus clothing, and until its clear they are going to do that, it might be best to avoid that confusion or controversy.”

Does the fashion industry have an obligation to push images of “real” women? If they are not going to make an effort to sell clothes past a size 12, then it makes sense that the women who model their clothes, both in print and on the runway, look like the targeted audience. At the same time, most of the images that consumers see in fashion are neither realistic nor attainable. And if a majority of women are “plus” then doesn’t it make more sense to appeal to the majority?

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Communications planning

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

The beginning of this semester found us creating a communications plan for the clients we worked with in PR Writing last semester. We were also assigned to work in a group to create a communications plan for a large client.

I remember asking the question: how are we going to use communications plans in our jobs as entry-level public relations professionals. The answer that I received, not just from this class, but also from other professionals, is that as entry-level professionals, probably working on the tactics of a plan. We will be helping write press releases. Implementing the social media strategy. Assisting with events. I can’t wait to do all that.

I also can’t wait to actually create a communications plan. I can’t wait to be a part of a team, bouncing ideas off one another, having disagreements, resolving disagreements, pitching the plan to a client, revising the plan based off of the client’s wishes, and delegating the tactics of the plan to my team. I can’t wait to see the plan come to life. I can’t wait to read an article about a story I pitched to a journalist. I can’t wait to see the pictures of my client’s event on the social pages. I can’t wait to be done with a plan and sit with my team to discuss what worked and what didn’t work as we evaluate the success (and failures) of our plan.

But it will take a while to get to that point.

I still have one semester left, and I can only hope that I will be ready to enter the workforce, armed with the skills I have picked up in this class. I can hopefully knock out two internships before December. There is still much to learn in the remaining classes I must take and the experiences that I will have for the rest of my career as a student.

How to communicate in a disaster

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/world/video/2015/apr/30/nepal-earthquake-kathmandu-cctv-video

Last weekend a 7.8 magnitude earthquake happened in Katmandu, Nepal.

While aftershocks were still hitting the region, Google and Facebook launched services that allowed people to find their loved ones. Google person finder allows for people to search for friends and family members during natural disasters. Not to be outdone, Facebook launched their service, which lets people see if they have friends or family in the disaster area and also lets people in the disaster area let their friends know they are safe.

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John Kobusch, a German climber felt the shocks of the earthquake in the form of an avalanche that tumbled down Mount Everest. He was able to film the avalanche as it happened and shared the video on YouTube (as of Friday night it has over 20 million views).

As the recovery efforts were underway, the International Committe Red Cross encouraged people on Twitter to turn on their geo-location when tweeting photos in order to help rescuers find areas that need help, since a lot of the areas affected by the earthquake are difficult to reach. Raheel Khursheed, head of news, politics and government at Twitter India helped spread the word.

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As a communications professional, it is important to know how to respond to a crisis. A natural disaster affects so many people and requires the work of many different organizations. In the social media age, when news breaks before journalists can cover it, it is important to know reliable sources to follow. As an organization, it is important to make sure that your organization makes it on lists of nonprofits to donate to or important numbers to call. You have to make sure that you are accessible to people, over the phone, online or in person.

 

Technology has made it so it is easy to connect with people no matter what part of the world they are in. This should mean that as an organization there are ample outlets to communicate important information to your various publics, even in times of disaster.

Don’t let Twitter get you fired

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

“Be careful what you post on social media.”

I’ve heard various forms of this warning too many times to count. Every so often life becomes very real for someone who didn’t pay attention to that warning.

The 2016 presidential campaign is upon us and candidates and potential candidates are busy building their teams. In February presidential hopeful Jeb Bush hired Ethan Czahor to be the chief technology officer of his political action committee. After the announcement of his hire, journalists did some digging in his social media accounts and found some questionable tweets. One would think that a guy who sold his website to AOL would know better. Czahor ended up resigning.

A month later, Liz Mair a communications aide for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got in some trouble for questioning Iowa’s importance in the presidential race. Her posts offended some Iowans- the state has the first presidential caucuses and is considered an important state to win for those running for president. She too ended up resigning.

Czahor, tech genius that he is, founded another website. Clear is an app that searched through your tweets and Facebook posts and deletes any potentially offensive posts that might cost you your job.

Mair is has a great resume of clients she has worked for as a digital communications strategist and is now writing articles for the Daily Beast. She tweets that she has some great things lined up for her, so I’m excited to see where she ends up in 2016.

These are just two examples of what I believe are a few tweets being blown out of proportion. As a communications professional and someone who hopes to work in politics one day, I do worry that something I posted on Facebook or Twitter YEARS ago might be used against me. I try not to post ignorantly, but in 2011 when I got a Twitter account, I definitely could not have predicted it’s role in my life or its role in my profession.

For the most part, you can’t judge someone from a few tweets they have made,; at the same time, one must be smart on social media. It seems like the line between being yourself and not offending people is a fine one to walk, but hopefully a tweet or a Facebook post won’t ever cost me my job.

Monica’s back

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

I wanted to name this post after one of many songs that mentions Monica Lewinsky in it, but pretty much all of them are very inappropriate. 

In January 1998 the Drudge Report broke a story of a former White House intern who was in a sexual relationship with President Clinton. Drudge claimed that Newsweek magazine killed the story.

The media storm that that followed was unprecedented. 17 years after the event, Monica Lewinsky is making a comeback and is making sure that her side of the story is told on her own terms.

In May 2014, she wrote an op-ed for Vanity Fair magazine that would spearhead her role as an advocate against cyber bullying. Lewinsky spoke at the Forbes 30 under 30 conference and again at the TED conference last month.

 

Lewinsky mentions the scandal that made her infamous and the environment that existed for her life to be plastered for the entire world to see. Newspapers, the radio and television for a long time was all the media consisted of, but at the end of the 1990s, the digital revolution introduced the world to the Internet. Lewinsky calls herself “patient zero” in having her reputation ruined in such a public way.

She recalls the story of Rutgers student Tyler Clemente who committed suicide after he was recorded by his roommate being intimate with a partner, then the roommate posted it online. Lewinsky says that she can relate to this story because she was almost humiliated to death by her scandal.

The rise of the Internet brought us many great things, including the power to be connected, but cyber bullying is the dark side of that. Lewinsky says that the online community has no perimeter. We can see this in the popularity of Snapchat, as well as in the iCloud and Sony hacks. The price of shame is in the profit that organizations get from telling ones private stories that are measured in clicks and advertising dollars. Society is numb to the person’s humiliation that is entertaining them.

Lewinsky wants people to recognize what she went through as cyber-bullying, something that did not yet exist in 1998. Now, it seems that it is very easy to capitalize from an embarrassing moment in your life that the whole world gains access to.

Lewinsky’s message of learning to consume media with empathy and compassion is a message that can be taken to heart. In the age of the 24-hour news cycle and social media, one can only imagine that the Internet would break if Monica’s story came out in 2015.

 

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SXSW Keynote: Jonah Peretti

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

South by Southwest is an event that I hope to go to one day. Hearing from professionals that attended, seeing the recaps of some of the sessions and watching some of the keynotes let me know that as a communications professional there is so much to learn.

One of the Keynotes that I watched was Lessons from Buzzfeed by Jonah Peretti, CEO and co-founder of the media company.

Jonah-Peretti 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeFSA5YebQg&feature=youtu.be&t=4h38m49s

Buzzfeed is known for their posts about cute cats, but since its founding it has grown to four divisions: Classic (lists, quizzes and cute animals), Motion Pictures (original videos made in Buzzfeed’s new L.A. studio), Life (DIY, lifestyle, food and fashion posts) and News.

A post about cute animals does not have any intrinsic value, in terms of the reader getting important information from the post. Peretti says that the emotion that a post brings about can be more important than any information in the post. With social media analytics, when people share a post, Buzzfeed and see what words they used to describe the article. This enables them to see why people are sharing the content and Buzzfeed can use this information to improve future posts.

During the Sandy Hook shooting, people were coming to Buzzfeed to find light-hearted articles, so they created a new one that got millions of shares. People share content that they connect with, and when they share content with their friends and family, they are able to have shared experiences with their friends and family who are also reading the post- so no matter where you are, you can have a virtually have a shared experience with someone. Knowing the number of shares is a more meaningful metric to have (for Buzzfeed) than knowing the number of clicks and views.

Real-world action is another thing that Buzzfeed finds meaningful. Buzzfeed Life making a food challenge or a workout plan that gets shares lot is good. But when people share their posts of them creating the meals from the food challenge or doing the workouts, people proactively comprehend your content.

Other examples of posts causing real world action is the Buzzfeed article about Uber’s “God view” which caused Uber to create a privacy policy and a Senate inquiry and the Turkish government preventing ISIS smuggling oil based on Buzzfeed reporting.

In order to have a bigger impact on society, Buzzfeed is creating branded content, which allows them to abandon the traditional banner-ad based revenue model that tradition online media companies use. They are also increasing their international presence with offices across the globe. Peretti says because we live in a global society information travels so quickly, so Buzzfeed makes posts in different languages and adapts posts to resonate with a specific culture.

Buzzfeed’s goal is to “be indifferent to how they find content” which is why sharing platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, are important to Buzzfeed’s vertical integration model. By not forcing readers to see Buzzfeed content on their website, this allows Buzzfeed to reach a much larger audience.

As a P.R. professional, I think that Buzzfeed’s model shows that brands have to learn to work with non-traditional forms of distributing information in order to reach their audiences. It is also important to collect data and have a way to get feedback from your audiences. These are some of the things can help your company learn from mistakes and successes and communicate your message in the most productive way possible.

Social media (and children)- the future

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

Last week I had the honor of representing the Mayborn at The Dallas Morning News’ (TDMN) High School Journalism Day.

In between helping Dean Bland recruit high school students, I got the chance to sit in on one of the sessions.

The Dallas Morning News’ Mike McCray and Christy Robinson talked to students about how the newspaper uses social media.

Christy Robinson is a digital communities specialist. Her presentation was inspired by the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. She highlighted some of the topics brought up in the book. Each post linked back to a Dallas Morning News article.

  • Good news offers practical advice
    • Examples: National Margarita Day post, GuideLive, Pinterest posts, list articles
  • Good posts make people feel like an insider
    • For examples, posts like, reasons why Dallas is better than Houston provide readers with social currency
  • A good post tells a story
  • A good post triggers associations
    • Nostalgia, impactful, life-changing stories
  • Good posts evoke emotions

Stories and posts with more that one of the above do the best, in terms of engagement (shares, likes, etc.)

McCray, who is a digitail content promotions coordinator talked about how much Twiiter has changes since its early days. In order for news to work on social media, these elements should be considered:

  • Journalistic integrity
  • Is it fascinating to you?
  • Understand the nuances of the platform you are using
  • Timing
  • Make it engaging

TDMN also uses social media analytics and apps to test photos and headlines. They find that Facebook drives more news than Twitter.

As a public relations professional I have never thought about social media from a news standpoint. I use social media (Twitter more than Facebook) to follow the news. I follow many news organizations, journalists and editors. But I have never thought about the strategies that they use to ensure that people read their stories, especially in a world where digital is

During lunch, I had an interesting conversation with Micheal Landauer, who is TDMN’s digital communities manager. He mentioned monetizing social media, which is something that I have never thought about. In classes so far, we have heard that social media is free, unless you are paying a promoted post. I have never thought about creating a way that a company or organization can make money from social media. I know that I do not want my career to focus on social media, but I want to have enough knowledge about social to be able to incorporate it in an overall communications plan.

As social media continues to evolve, I hope that I learn about ways that social media can benefit an organization financially. That can be one more way a communications professional can prove their value to an organization.

Side note: This week there was an accident at in Argyle ISD facility. The students at The Talon, the high school’s student run newspaper were the first on the scene.

 

 

Kudos to the staff of the Talon because they also won big at TDMN competition for high school students. Even though they are only a few years younger than me, these are journalists that will receive my eager story pitches. These are the journalists that will be persistent in getting an interview with my boss.

PRSA Dallas Pro-Am Day

UNTJ4460- PR Communication

Today was PRSA Dallas Pro-Am Day is a yearly event that gives college student to shadow local public relations and communications professionals in a nonprofit, corporate or agency setting. I was paired with Laura Mason who is a corporate communication advisor in public and government affairs at ExxonMobil, who has its headquarters in Irving.

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The Dallas headquarters are home to a few hundred people, but Exxon’s largest campus is in the Woodlands, right outside of Houston. Mason says that it works for company to keep the corporate headquarters separate from the day-to-day operations- a lot of the Houston staff are responsible for the upstream operations of the company.

Mason’s current responsibilities at Exxon include helping to create the ExxonMobil outlook book and managing the content of the ExxonMobil corporate website.

ExxonMobil is divided into many global brands and business lines, each section of the company communicates to different audiences. ExxonMobil’s corporate audience consists of thought leaders in the industry- people who tend to be highly educated and influential people in the industry.

Mason talked about some new goals that the company the company has for the website. They are in the process of making all of the brand’s websites are visually similar and making sure that the entire website is mobile and tablet friendly.

I was really happy to be assigned to Laura. I have an interest in government affairs and political communication, but I have never considered working in that role from a corporate side.

Lunch was at Brinker International, the company who own all the Chili’s Bars and Grills and Maggiano’s. A panel of professionals was moderated by PRSA Dallas President and Q Mobius President and CEO Carolyn Covey Morris; on the panel was Ashley Johnson, senior public relations manager at Brinker, Donna Coletti, Director of International Communications and Market Research at Texas Instruments and Jane Koenecke, vice president of creative communication and events at Interstate Batteries.

These ladies gave us advice on everything from what professionals look for when hiring interns or entry-level employees to learning how to use analytics to prove your worth as communications to management. Some of the advice they gave:

  • Know the culture of the company that you are applying to
  • Be flexible (be willing to do anything)
  • Think about how you can make a difference at the company
  • Be ready for teamwork
  • Don’t apply for a position you don’t really want
  • Use metrics to engage your audiences, but understand the power of insight, not just numbers
  • Write meaningful thank you letters to potential employers (“without the specificity, it’s just another email/letter)

Thank you to Laura and sharing the morning with me and another student from UT-Arlington. And thank you to PRSA Dallas for hosting this event and giving area public relations student this opportunity to step into the professional world.

Why does the Empire surprise you?

UNTJ4250- Race, gender and media

During spring break, I took some time to binge-watch Fox’s new drama Empire. The show tells the story of the Lyons family. Cookie and Lucious Lyons hail from the rough streets of Philadelphia where they hustled and sold drugs to support their family while trying to make Lucious a famous musician. When the show opens up we find that Cookie has just finished a 17-year prison sentence and Lusious is about to take his music and entertainment “empire” public.

There are lots of twists and turns in the show. We see issues of infidelity, sexuality (specifically homosexuality in African American culture), drugs, murder, mental disease (again, and its stigma amongst African Americans), paternity, masculinity and of course music (the soundtrack is awesome).

Empire has been a success according to its ratings. It broke Fox’s 23-year record of having its viewership grow every week, something it continued to so until the season finale.

Social media played a role in the show’s success.

There was lots of conversation about why the show was a success and how the show’s success can be replicated by others (NPR, Vulture, The Daily Beast, to bring up a few). I think that these conversations are great. But I’m confused about why people are surprised at the show’s success. It’s not easy to get a television show on the air (see busted pilot), so when any show does well that should be a miracle alone. 

Empire definitely isn’t your traditional network show. It has a crazy plot, it’s a musical, this first season was star-studded (and hopefully it continues to be that way). The show is also colorful. All of the main characters are people of color and your don’t see that everyday in primetime. This does not mean that networks should scramble to find a show with an “ethnic” cast. But if networks can work with award winning producers and creators that aren’t the status quo, then hopefully more shows with a diverse cast will happen naturally and an ethnic cast can be the norm, instead of being an outlier.

Thank God for Shonda

UNTJ4250- Race, gender and media

Variety Magazine announced the news of a new Shonda Rhimes produced ABC show with this tweet.

And the queen of ShondaLand replied by saying…

That’s a great question. Shonda Rhimes is known for creating strong female characters- Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Scandal is about a D.C. fixer. Grey’s Anatomy centers around the life of a doctor. And How to Get Away With Murder is about with a lawyer. These are all complex characters with storylines that are sometimes out of this world, but none of these professions speak to a specific gender or even a specific race.

Rhimes has written storylines about many things, including race and sexuality, but to me it does not feel like any of the characters in her shows are centered around their gender or their race. This says to me that when thinking of diversity in any situation, diversity should not be forced. Talent is something that is natural, and if it just so happens that you have created an environment with a diverse group of people organically, then every one wins.

Also important to note- only three women of color have won the Screen Actor’s Guild Award (peer-voted) for best actress in a drama series, and they all come from ShondaLand!