Animals:: More Than Just A Companion

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How many people own an animal out there? I have two cats at my hometown house and each day wish they were here with me in Minneapolis. My passion for animals has lead me to do further research on just what an important role animals can play in peoples lives.

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Some people think it would be unimaginable to live in a house with dogs running through the kitchen, a bird flying around the living room and a cat sleeping in the window sill. Other people can't imagine living without their beloved furry family member. As a matter of fact, according to the ASPCA, 62% of U.S households own a pet, which equates to about 72.9 million homes. Each animal lover has at least once tried to explain how adorable, affectionate and fun the addition of a pet could be to a household. After exhausting all of their funny dog pictures and cute cat videos, they still couldn't convince the non-animal lover how beneficial a pet could be to their household. But what if animals could serve as more than just a cuddly partner to watch television with?

A lot of people tend to characterize companion animals as non-essential members of the family. However, careful examination of this topic shows that pets have the potential to have an immense impact on family functioning, health and happiness related to children, families and the elderly whether they are in good health or sick.

Having a companion animal is important to child and can benefit them physically, mentally and socially. Interesting fact-- Three-fourths of all kids live with a pet, which is a higher number than kids living with both parents. As a result of this large number of children having pets, researchers have studied the benefits these animals have on the well-being of the child.

A study on the effectiveness of Animal Facilitated Therapy for children in long-term hospitalized care showed that the presences of a companion animal, such as a dog, can lead to reduced stress. Stress indicators such as heart rate and blood pressure where measured and showed to significant decrease after the child had interacted with an animal. As the study progressed, children waiting to receive pet therapy experienced anticipatory excitement before seeing the dogs.

See... Animals can have a large impact on people's lives and often tend to be more than just a companion. The research conducted by Animal Facilitated Therapy did a good job on listing statistics and observations about what a large impact animals can have. I thoroughly enjoyed analyzing this study and hope that you now have a better attitude toward animals!

Image Source: http://vitalitybuzz.com/how-to-balance-dogs-and-children/

Facebook Study:: Organic Posts Down

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Group M Next, a WPP media-buying unit, recently conducted a research study on how with the reach of organic posting down, engagement on Facebook has now gone up. Organic reach means that the number of unique people, fans or non-fans, who saw this post in their news feed, ticker or on your Page. This posting is not paid for or sponsored by a specific product or company.

With Facebook becoming so mainstream today, it has come to the point where companies are having to pay for their posts if they want to reach their fans. It's getting much harder to drive organic impressions in the newsfeed, ticker, and from fans visiting a brand's page. Don't worry though-- Facebook has found a way to address this problem. Now you can buy the feel of organic dominance.

In the study, 25 brands were observed and found that engagement on posts in the form of comments, likes and shares is up significantly, from 0.76% before the paid promotion change to 1.49% after. As a result, brands will now have to pay more money just to keep the same reach of fans that they once had.

Due to the fact that Group M Next would not release that names of the 25 companies they studied, it makes me second guess how accurate they truly are. Not knowing the companies, there could be a variety of other factors and outliers that caused there to be a decrease in organic posting. By the article not explaining how results the were gathered or calculated, we cannot conclude the validity of the results.

Source: http://adage.com/article/digital/study-reach-organic-facebook-posts-engagement/238365/

Surveys:: Incentives For The Better?

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With all the surveys bombarding my life today, it is becoming more and more difficult to want to take the time out of my busy day to complete one. I am almost positive that I am not alone here. I understand what an important role that surveys can play in the American society today, but when does it become too much? It almost makes me wonder how society is able to function when nearly everyone seems to be either posing some nonsensical question or answering one.

That is where incentives for taking surveys come into play. Deciding whether or not to offer incentives for your survey respondents can pose a challenge for a lot of survey makers out there. An incentive may increase your survey's response rate, but also has the potential to skew response (not to mention can become quite costly).

The first thing to consider when deciding whether or not to include an incentive for your survey is to consider your participant personalities. If you are trying to get responses from a hard-to-reach population such as college students or a younger generation of males, incentives may be best the best way to attract them. These incentives may make it more likely that you receive the quantity and quality of responses you're looking for from a certain demographic of people.

As far as incentives go, money improves response rates greater than gifts, and prepaid incentives improve response rates greater than promised incentives. Incentives have commonly been used to improve response rates of survey participants, and it is well reported that in mail-based surveys, prepaid monetary incentives garner higher response rates (19%) than prepaid gifts (8%) when compared to surveys that did not use incentives.

It is really up to the type of study you are conducting and your budget when deciding whether or not using incentives will be of value. However, keep in mind that people may be taking the survey solely for the incentive and their responses could be considered unreliable.

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Image Source: http://survey.cvent.com/blog/customer-insights-2/thoughts-on-survey-incentives

Unbiased Media:: Possible or Not?

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Biased media continues to be a growing issue. With the many news sources available today, knowing the political views of each media source has never been more important. Consuming a variety media can play as an advantage for you to best detect media bias. How good are you at telling which side a media source usually supports?

Listed below are some examples of bias that I have commonly found in a variety of media sources:

1) Bias by labeling-- Bias by labeling comes in two forms. The first is the tagging of conservative politicians and groups with extreme labels while leaving liberal politicians and groups unlabeled or with more mild labels. The second kind of bias by labeling occurs when a reporter not only fails to identify a liberal as a liberal, but describes the person or group with positive labels, such as "an expert" or "independent consumer group". The power to label politicians, activists and groups is one of the media's most subtle and potent powers.

2) Bias by placement-- Bias by placement can occur with television or radio news. Things such as making a story the lead versus running it 25 minutes into an hour-long newscast. But, it's a lot easier to identify this kind of bias in a newspaper where placing a story on page one versus on the bottom of an inside page makes for a dramatic contrast.

3) Bias by spin-- Bias by spin occurs when the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy. Reports in this case are presented in favor of the particular source to give it prominence.You can see the effect of spin on what a news consumer takes away from a story by comparing how two journalists report the same or similar event

4) Bias by story selection-- A journalist may be biased towards a particular incident and may add his/her personal opinion to the news report. This kind of media bias is purely based on the journalist's own opinion which is not considered to be purely ethical as well.

5) Bias by omission-- A media source many often leave one side out of an article, or a series of articles over a period of time. To find instances of bias by omission, be aware of the conservative and liberal perspectives on current issues. See if the perspective is included in stories on a particular event or policy and pay attention to if the stories or facts change based on the source that you are reading.

It is always important to be aware of these many types of media bias that are around today. To be a smart consumer means to do your research. Be sure to check up facts that you read online and don't always believe everything that you read. Often times the media will have an agenda to make you believe that one thing happened over the other. Make sure you are aware of this and don't get sucked into the media's trap.

Source: http://www.fairpress.org/identify.htm

Pew Internet:: Cell Phone Activities

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The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does so by conducting public opinion polling and social science research; by reporting news and analyzing news coverage; and by holding forums and briefings. It does not take positions on policy issues.

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Pew recently conducted an Internet survey analyzing the cell phone activities of American adults. These results come from two Pew Internet tracking surveys. One was conducted between August 7-September 6. 2012 with 3,014 American adults (ages 18+). Among them were 2,581 the cell phone owners and the margin of error in the survey for findings among cell owners is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. The second survey was conducted between March 15-April 3, 2012 among 2,254 adults, including 1,954 cell owners, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

From the data, Pew was able to conclude that 85 percent of American adults now use their cell phones for things other than making calls. In class, we talked about the importance of knowing the demographics of your participants and being able to generalize the findings to a larger population.

Gathering this data measuring cell phone activities will be very useful to a number of companies and marketers. To help view data in a easy-to-read format, Pew created a demographic portrait for each of the different activities available for use on cell phones. Looking at the data, it is interesting to see that the top rating activity use for cell phones besides calling is picture taking. On the other side of the spectrum, checking a bank account is the lowest. This information can be used to see what demographic markets different cell phone companies and providers should market to.

Using cell phone activity research seems like an excellent way to see what that majority of the public is doing with their cell phones today.

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Cell-Activities/Main-Findings.aspx

Social Media:: Affects On Public Relations Today

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Social media has had a complete game-changing effect on the public relations industry. In a simplified manner, public relations main function is communication. Whether that communication is directed to journalists through media relations, employees through internal relations, or the community using external relations; effective communication is key.

Today, a new technology has been created to make this intensive process easier for public relations professionals; the Internet. Social media has changed and had an effect on all areas of PR. The Internet and social media are now used in managing crisis programs, promoting multimedia campaigns, and creating partnerships and alliances. As a result of this fast-paced media environment, public relations specialists must now learn how to quickly react and respond to comments and questions directed to the organization they are working for. Response must be quick and efficient. The worse thing that someone working in public relations can do is avoid the situation. Now, it is easier for people around the world to publicize their opinion about almost any organization, especially if they have had a bad experience with it. In reaction to the bad word rapidly being spread, PR practitioners must address the situations and work to change the public's negative opinion.

I think that social media contains a lot of the same aspects that old media did, but makes content more widely available. Although newspapers and press releases are still around, all of the same information can now be found online in half the time it would have taken to get sent out or delivered. Social media also incorporates two-way communication and feedback, which is something that the old media was not able to obtain. On the Web, audiences are able to write comments and address their needs from the organization. In return, I do believe the use of social media is now necessary for a business to stand a chance of being successful in the world today. PR professionals must be aware and educated on all aspects that social media deals with in the organization and work to achieve these cooperative connections with their audiences.

Take for example, Twitter. Twitter is a new form of social media that allows brands to have their own personality. Connecting with their followers on Twitter allows the public to feel as though that have a bond with the organization. Updates and promotions are also able to be conveyed though this medium. These at-the-moment, constant updates were never able to be achieved using the old traditional media.

As amazing as this new creation is, social media can be both an opportunity and threat to organizations. In reality, the opportunities when using social media seem limitless. PR professionals are now able to communicate with whomever they want, whenever they want. Distance and time no longer prevent an organization from communicating with their target audiences. This communication technology also allows companies the opportunity to develop even stronger relationships with the pubic because of the free flow of information. Although this technology may seem glamorous, potential threats have developed from the use of social media. PR professionals now must be constantly monitoring what is taking place on each form of the organizations social media sites. With the Internet, news and information are able to travel across the globe in seconds. It is important to always know what people are saying about your company and address any outstanding complaints they may be talking about in the digital world. When dealing with social media, you really must take parts of bad that come in with the good.

Considering the pace at which social media is currently growing at, I think that Twitter will the most important form of social media that PR professionals will use. Twitter allows for the quickest communication and most convenient way to receive important constant updates from organizations. These updates are being able to be provided to their followers many times each day so that the audience always has a constant flow of information and can stay up to date on events.

Image Source: http://www.socialmarketingcompany.com/

Infographics::Innovative Data Presentation

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Ever heard of an inforgraphic? They have been around for decades, but have recently grown in popularity from there transition from 2D to 3D. Infographics are quite trendy these days throughout the marketing and tech community. Through infographics, marketers and researchers are now able to provide substantial information and statistics while still being able to visually stimulating. These designs can attract an audience and encourage them to read and learn, like many data articles fail to do.

First off, it is important to determine the structure of how you want the data and information to be presented. The structure is the make-it or break-it moment that influences the viewer. Too large of a infographic will cause the reader to get confused and not want to read to get to the end result; too small and the infographic will be considered useless. To develop a good structure, it is vital to think about where you want to highlight your key findings. The goal of doing this is to provide clarification and reveal todays current trends that have an influence on these findings.

Another important consideration when designing infographics, make sure that there is a good text to picture ratio. Try not to make the reader work too hard to follow and understand your presentation. Because our brains are wired for pictures, infographics are understood differently than text alone.

I personally love the new concept of infographics. Being a visual learner, I have finally found something that allows me to learn new information, while still being able to enjoy what I am learning.

Below is an example of an inforgraphic explaining how inflation has changed throughout the past 10 years.

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Image Source: http://numbdrum.com/inflation-infographic/

NBC News:: Unemployment Poll

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How well does a poll present valid date? With so much media bias around today, how can people trust what they are reading in published media sources. To help explain my point, I chose to analyze a public opinion poll on unemployment conducted by NBC News, which is a considered a liberal news source. I will explain in depth the important aspects that the poll covers and areas where I see faults.

I believe that this poll can be considered to have an intermediate level of validity based on the fact that NBC News is considered a trusted news source compared to many unknown pollsters. Although the audience was provided with the information that 1,007 adults were surveyed by telephone, there was an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points. With this intermediate level of validity, I would still question the reliability. Having been conducted by cell phone, there is a problem with reaching the audience who may not have this mobile device. We were also not informed if the poll was conducted using random same, which would mean that the results may not be able to be generalized to the public. Even though we were able to get a definite validity number, we still question the reliable of the NBC News poll on unemployment.

The issue of unemployment was fully addressed in this poll. Not only did it provide insights on what the public things about the current unemployment rates, it also allows use to get the percent that agree or disagree with the different plans to boost the economy. Throughout the poll description, many questions and data were able to presented to strengths different points that MSNBC was trying to make.

All things considered, I do not believe that the issue was fairly represented in this poll. Being a liberal source, it is easy to see the favoritism that was place on President Obama. Many of the numbers were extremely higher when viewing his policies and ideas compared to other republican opponents. Since I was not given access to the questions, it is hard to tell what types of questions were asked over the phone to tell if they were bias, leading questions, or loaded questions. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal teamed up to conduct this, which are considered two of the leading groups in the media industry.

I believe that it is very important to deconstruct the poll elements before using or believing the facts that the source is presenting. By doing this, you will be able to be the most knowledgeable and informed media consumer that you can be.

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28657844/ns/politics-white_house/t/poll-solid-support-obamas-economic-plan/

Study:: Retweeting Without Reading

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A study conducted by HubSpot proves the concept of the social media device, Twitter, to not be as informative as most think it is. Not everyone becomes more knowledgeable.. but do they look like they are?

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Looking at 2.7 million tweets, the researcher of the survey found that more people retweeted links, than actually clicked on the links to read them. One interesting aspect that I found from the study analysis was that there is no correlation between retweets and clicks of a link. In fact, the correlation between the two is .038, which is an extraordinary low number on the correlation scale.

Based on the research, I think more people need to be aware of planning their social media strategies and their goals when putting a tweet out into the social media sphere. If you are looking to drive more traffic to your site, it might make more sense to use the "@" symbol, which is what the study showed as having the highest click-through rate. If you are looking for your tweet to get retweeted and get your name more widely spread, it would make the most sense to use the world "retweet" somewhere in the post.

I encourage you to experiment on your own. See what posts get the most retweets based on the content you have used.

Source: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33815/New-Data-Indicates-Twitter-Users-Don-t-Always-Click-the-Links-They-Retweet-INFOGRAPHIC.aspx

NFL Replacement Refs:: Packers vs Seahawks Poll Analysis

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Poll creation is a very important process. It takes and large amount of time and a long thought process to achieve a properly designed poll. I have learned that question presentation and framing could play a vital role when analyzing the results. It is important to start out with the easy questions in the beginning and work your way to the difficult questions at the end. It may also be beneficial to use screening questions in the survey to find out if your participant is qualified to answer the questions. Doing this will allow for more accurate results.

I have chose to analyze a poll published in the Boomberg News done by Seaton Hall University. My analysis digs further into the concepts of validity, reliability, bias, and agenda of the poll.

This poll was conducted using a sample size of 688 people that were randomly selected, which means that this data can be used to make generalizations to a larger population because it is a probability sample. I think the published poll has a high level of validity. Having selected a random group of 688 people to study provides a large enough number to generalize the data for that entire population. At the end of the article, the source informs the audience that the margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percent to insure that we know exactly how trusted the data can be. Although the data proves to have a decent level of validity, I do not consider this data to be reliable. The survey was only conducted one time, so we have nothing else to compare the results to. To ensure better reliability, I would need to see a repeated study and calculation of data.

I do not see any bias portray in the published poll. The results were published is a very nonpartisan manner and just reported the results that they have found when analyzing the survey. However, I do not have accesses to the actual questions that were asked in the poll, which may or may not have included leading questions or bias. Based on the information that I was provided, I was not able to detect a bias.

After reading the published poll article, I believe that the sponsor had an agenda of leading the readers to believe that the controversial call in the Packers vs. Seahawks game was the reason to convert people's beliefs of the replacement referees. Using phrases such as "jumped to 65 percent" and quoting the director of the poll saying, "The NFL felt the shift in mood of its public," goes to show what the poll set out to prove.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-28/packers-seahawks-fiasco-reinforces-view-on-nfl-refs-poll-says.html