Filtered Information

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My tenth blog post, that I posted about three days ago, was about the Skechers Shape Up Scandal. For a quick overview, the company is being forced to pay $40 million in refunds for falsely advertising their product and misleading customers. Yesterday I received an email that I did not expect.

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I am amazed at how fast people can find the information they want on the internet. I have been writing on this blog for about a month, this will be the fifteenth post, and the content of each post is vastly different in the context of research. My post about Skechers was a mere three or four paragraphs and was not in-depth at all compared to others who researched this for specific papers, case studies, etc., yet it was still filtered to the women who sent me the email. Out of all the content on the internet that pertains to this scandal, she still found mine. The advancement in our technology continues to fascinate and astonish me. Researchers can filter through information to target their specific audience from a multitude of websites, social media networks, blogs, personal websites, recent purchases, etc. Research has come very far in the last ten years and I think because of this companies are able to specifically advertise and market to a new and more specific market across the globe.

Pharmaceutical Research Study

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Last week I was invited to participate in a Pharmaceutical Research Study via Facebook. The study was conducted over Survey Monkey. SurveyMonkey is a free online survey software and questionnaire tool that was founded in 1999 by Ryan Finley. Since 1999 the website has erupted in popularity. The current CEO of SurveyMonkey is David Goldberg. The company has bought out three other survey tools (Precision Polling, Wufoo, and Zoomerang). SurveyMonkey now has 185 employees and over 12 million registered customers.

As a student, SurveyMonkey has been a great resource when researching a specific topic. I have had to write numerous papers on original research that I conducted myself. My go-to method of acquiring that information is to create a survey on SurveyMonkey and send it to all of my friends on Facebook. The response rate is high, compiling the data is a synch, and I didn't have to leave my desk!

Link to SurveyMonkey:

Below are screenshots of the Survey I took
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Formal In-Class Evaluations vs. Online Evaluations

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In the past, teacher evaluations have been completed in class. The teacher usually leaves the room and the students get 20 to 30 minutes to complete the evaluation. It's always anonymous and a student volunteers to deliver the evaluations after the class period ends. Last week I received an email that I immediately deleted. I assumed the email was a pointless survey when in fact it was an teacher evaluation form. It was the first time I had seen an evaluation conducted online. I decided to compare and contrast the advantages/disadvantages of the two methods of research. Then I would determine which is more suitable and beneficial.

My email:
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I think that online evaluations are more beneficial. They cost less, its easier to compile information, and we can take our time when answering open ended questions. When I am handed an evaluation in class I fill it out as quickly as possible because I want to be excused. I believe that professors are favorable towards the in-class evaluation forms because they are nervous about low response rates. I also think they are unsure about the new online innovation. As time goes on I think teachers should utilize the online evaluation form and to increase response rates, teachers should say that the evaluation is apart of teh students grade.

Classic Brands...How To Stay Relevant

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My dad has always told me to purchase clothing that is classic. He cringes when I come home with bags from Forever 21 or H&M because he always tells me I will wear those items once or twice and then they will hang in my closet. Rather than purchasing tons mass quantities of cheap clothing from those types of stores, my dad has suggested I purchase classic items that can be worn years from now. Turns out he was right. Last week I cleaned out my closet and this was a wake up call. The items that I got rid of were worn at max five times and from stores like Forever 21. The clothing that remained within my closet were items that I had saved up to buy and planned on keeping for years to come. The brand that I love the most is Polo. Although it's pricy, I feel that the style is classic and well made. It matches with everything and always in season. I wanted to look into Polo marketing because I believe the brand is a marketing genius. They have created their brand image and it is almost always recognizable.

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. was named the luxury marketer of the year in 2010. The lifestyle brand beat out 2nd place finisher Louis Vuitton and third place finisher Burberry. Polo Ralph Lauren Lauren has marketed themselves as a luxury brand, but more importantly kept up that reputation for many years. Their marketing could be described as excellent or consistent, and that little Polo horse always stands out amongst other advertisements.

Now it's 2012 and there are new fashion trends, emerging sales, marketing strategies, and media outlets. Classic brands are facing the challenge of staying relevant because of these challenging aspects. If they fail to keep up with the quick pace of up and coming competitors, household names will die out. Polo Ralph Lauren is an example of a classic brand that not only keeps up with competitors, but also sets trends in the retail marketing. David Lauren, Executive VP of Advertising, Marketing, and Corporate Communication for Ralph Lauren.

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Lauren presented the brands strategic marketing approach during session titled, "Keeping a Classic Brand Modern," at the National Retail Federation annual convention earlier this year in New York City. Regardless of their reputation and 44 years of success, Ralph Lauren had to pursue new strategies to remain a top competitor in the ever-changing retail industry. David Lauren describes this new angle as, "merchantainment," or "the seamless blending of merchandising and entertainment" (Florletta). Merchantainment embodies a story or lifestyle, that of which can be transcended across different channels. A deep-rooted connection between consumer and brand is created because shoppers visualize Ralph Lauren's product in their personal lifestyle.

Ralph Lauren has also incorporated e-Commerce into their brand marketing strategy to keep up technology innovations. Many individuals though e-Commerce would diminish Ralph Lauren's retail stability, but it only strengthened the company. Their website allowed shoppers to access products at home or on the go, at any time. Regardless of the interactive changes, Ralph Lauren has never given up their representative characteristics of luxury, quality, and classic. David Lauren's goal was to introduce the idea that luxurious items like a gown or leather bag could be purchased online. The internet was not a place to find discounted items or coupons, but rather a convenience for consumers who did not have the ability to shop in store. Ralph Lauren is constantly updating their website and adding new features. There are an array of east to use tools and resources that showcase the whole spectrum of Ralph Lauren.

Polo Ralph Lauren acknowledged the latest technological innovations, observed consumer demand, challenged competitors, and never lost sight of their individuality. In the end Ralph Lauren is lifestyle brand that will forever (or at least I believe) be a powerhouse in the retail industry.

Work Cited:
Fiorletta, Alicia. "Ralph Lauren Executive Explains How Retailers Can Stay Relevant In Light Of Marketing And Technology Shifts." Retail TouchPoints. Retail TouchPoints, 25 2012. Web. 4 Dec 2012.

Loyalty Programs

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I never took advantage of loyalty programs until I came to college. As my bank account decreased and my consumption of food/beverages increased I had to think of a solution. Achieving gold member status at Starbucks is one of my proudest accomplishments this year. I am addicted to coffee and as a gold member I get free refills, a free beverage for every 15 stars, free syrups/soy milk, and weekly coupons/personalized offers. This loyalty program has saved me a ton of money and I have the convenience of storing my card and my rewards on my iPhone within the Starbucks Application.

I love and appreciate loyalty programs, but did others feel the same? I was curious to see other perspectives regarding these rewards programs as well as the overall use of such programs on a regular basis. After extensively searching the internet I found some very interesting information and informative statistics.

---The number of loyalty memberships in the U.S. is 2.1 billion

---The average U.S. household has enrolled in more than 18 loyalty programs, but only actively participate in 8.4.

---Of the roughly $48 billion in reward points and miles issued annually, at least $16 billion goes unredeemed by consumers.

---Only 17% of U.S. respondents say that loyalty programs are "very influential" in their purchase decisions.

---Only 31% of Americans find loyalty program communications "extremely relevant."

---85% of loyalty program members haven't heard a single word since the day they signed up.

---81% of loyalty member don't know the program benefits or how/when they will receive rewards.

---44% of consumers have had a negative experience with a loyalty program.

---Only 36% of consumers received a reward or promotion that made them come back to the store.

---1 in 4 consumers have received a reward or promotion for something they would never buy.

---Only 1 in 4 consumers feels "very loyal" to his or her providers across industries, and just as many profess no loyalty at all.

Although I am a huge advocate for such programs, many Americans are not satisfied with customer loyalty programs. Consumers will maintain their loyalty to brands they are favorable towards. Rewards programs will rarely make a difference in their decision to purchase "Product A" over "Product B." I'll admit that I am stuck up Starbucks fan. I will go out of my way to get a cup of their coffee. Gold member or not, I will always choose Starbucks over other retailers which makes me believe loyalty programs need a new market approach.

Skechers Shape-Ups Scandal

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Shape up shoes began in the early 1990s. Previously known as the "rocker bottom shoe" shape ups popularized amongst the mass market and by 2005, 200,000 pairs of the heel-to-toe rocker sole shoes were sold in the United States. The demand for shape ups increased considerably because of the obesity epidemic in the United States. Waistlines were growing and people were looking for any solution to shed a few pounds.

Skechers created a line that embodied the "rocker bottom shoe." Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Shape-up Toners, Shape-up Trainers, and Tone-ups were the different options Skechers offered. Skechers became the market leader for toning shoes. Advertisements made claims that these shoes went beyond toned muscles...Shape Ups could account for weight loss and cardiovascular health. They also declared that their version of the tone up shoes was much more advanced and beneficial in relation to other shoes in the market. These were all bold claims and consumers expected great results from Skechers' Shape Ups.

Shortly after their purchase, consumers realized the only side effects of shape ups were back pain, an unchanging scale, and uncomfortableness (oh and ugly footwear!). Individuals began to file complaints and demands for a refund. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission finally had to interject and handle scandal. Currently, Skechers is paying $40 million to settle charges that they deceived their customers with unfounded advertising claims. A consumer can apply for a refund if they purchased any of the Shape-Up footwear that Skechers offered. This scandal emphasizes the importance of truthful and ethical advertising. It was wrong of Skechers to make these bold claims and as a result they are paying a huge price.

Primary and Secondary Sources

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As a freshman I rarely took advantage of the online library resources on the University of Minnesota Library website.My use of these databases has greatly increased because they provide an abundance reliable and scholarly sources. I have had to write a lot of papers that require primary and secondary sources. Although these terms have been embedded into my brain since about seventh grade, I still have to look up the definitions when writing a paper to clarify my understanding. Instead of reading the definitions for the billionth time, I looked up a video on YouTube.

To my surprise, JSTOR, a library database (and one of my favorite resources) provided a great video that differentiates primary and secondary sources in a clear and concise manner. First the video defined a primary source and a secondary source. Then it communicated the importance of each source. I found this aspect the most helpful because I realized why I needed both primary and secondary sources in my paper. Primary sources are the core of historical research and are original material from the involved time period. They have not been filtered through for interpretation or evaluation. Secondary sources are written after the original time period. They are interpretations and evaluations of the primary sources. They aren't evidence, but rather commentary and discussion of evidence. By comparing and contrasting the primary sources and secondary sources one can communicate the necessary background information as well as the impact and evaluation of the original material. Check out the video because it's very helpful!

Observational Research - Yoga Sculpt

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I started to practice yoga about three years ago after I graduated from high school. High school sports were finished and I wasn't a big fan of the freshman 15 so I needed a new activity to stay in shape. On a whim I tried my free week at Corepower Yoga and from then on I was addicted.. My favorite class is called Yoga Sculpt. Sculpt is a unique practice in that it combines yoga and weights to create a high-intensity hour workout. After three years of attending nearly five classes a week, I wanted to deepen my practice. As a result I signed up for yoga sculpt teacher training. The training began about a month ago. We started with a weekend intensive training session and have continued to train every Monday for about five hours. There are also outside assignments that have to be completed before the last training session, one of which is to observe two yoga sculpt classes. This assignment immediately reminded me of Journalism 3251. My yoga sculpt observations exemplify a qualitative method of research.

The class lecture notes from October 23rd shared the four procedures of observation. I am going to share how I carried out each of those steps during my own observation of a yoga sculpt class.

1. Make arrangements with participants or select location(s)
My plan was to attend a yoga sculpt class at 4:00pm on a Friday afternoon at the Stadium Village Corepower. The class was led by a teacher named Katie. I contacted Katie earlier that week to ask permission and she gave me the okay.

2. Create a guide with potential questions and/ or behaviors interested within a set timeframe
I had a set guide from my training manual. It outlined the basic layout of each yoga sculpt class with space below each component. I decided to record the movements the teacher used, the facial reactions of the students, and the perceived difficulty level of each component. I also wanted to record the verbs and phrases used by the teacher and later analyze whether or not those were clear to the students in the class. I was to record the class for an entire hour from start to finish.

3. Conduct session(s), taking copious notes and/or recordings
I went to the class that Friday afternoon. Before Katie started class she briefed the students about my reason for sitting on the side. She told them that I was participating in yoga sculpt teacher training and I would only use these notes for training purposes. I then took a significant amount of notes within the next hour.

4. Analyze the data
I compiled my notes together and later repeated this observational method the next Monday at a 10:00 am class.

After observing both yoga sculpt classes I compared the two under the following elements:
---Difficulty level
---Student reactions
---Demographic of students attending classes
---Layout of class
---Who sat where (front, back, middle)
---Outline of class
---Strength training exercises
---Verbs and phrases used by teacher
---Temperature of room
---Stretching techniques at beginning and end of class

The purpose of this observational exercise was to determine the successful and unsuccessful components of each yoga sculpt class. I interpreted class satisfaction and favorable exercises by observing student behavior and reception. I also deepened my understanding of what it means to be an admirable yoga teacher by recording the communication techniques of each instructor. I was able to layout and create my own unique sculpt class because of my observations. I am pleased to say that I tested it out a few days ago at a practice session and I received positive feedback. Observations are extremely beneficial and I am happy that I got to participate in this qualitative method of research.

Research Paper

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I am currently taking Journalism 3614 History of Media Communication. The class examines the history of media communication through the window of changing media technology, with an emphasis on the impact of new technologies on society. We have examined the initial approaches such as oral or written communication and eventually progressed through the timeline of print, wired telecommunications, radio, television, computer, and internet. For each of those innovations I developed an understanding of how technological communication has changed our society, how it affected each diverse group of people differently, and the ethical implications that were caused by the new media technology. I am amazed at the technological advances that have occurred in the last ten to twenty years.

We had to write our final research paper on a technological innovation that related to communication using primary and secondary sources. Although the paper was a comprehensive overview of an innovation, a specific research question had to be addressed. Information that examined society's expectations and acceptance of the new technology was obtained through primary sources. Secondary sources were used to analyze the actual impact of the innovation and whether or not that impact matched the previous expectations.

My research question, which is now a statement for the purpose of a paper, was....

This paper examines the degree of behavioral changes in relation to the use of smartphones in social, educational, and work settings and the possibility that the innovation has decreased society's ability to practice the common manners of courtesy and politeness in everyday life.

I was about six pages into the what was going to be a fifteen page paper when I realized that I was writing an essay rather than a research paper. My content told a story rather than analyzation of the innovation. My mind went blank. How in the world do I write a legitimate research paper.....I haven't done that in years! I starred at my screen in utter confusion. Finally I decided that I need to shift my focus on the aspects of the paper. That meaning the outline of a research paper, the true definitions of primary and secondary sources, how to form research questions, data analysis, and reporting research. Turns out those were all defined and explained in Journalism 3251 and from there I looked back on our power points, lecture notes, and book. The information was so useful that I decided to create a handout that showcased the definitions and tips that I found most helpful.

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Unethical Research Experiments

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I have always been able to differentiate between unethical and ethical advertisements. This class made me realize that there is more to ethics than the visual aspects. Ethical research is a huge concern within human communication research. Analyzing human communication is tricky because a researcher has to follow their own code of ethics along with the universal laws designed to protect participants from psychological and physical harm. A researcher is conducting the experiment to gain information, but they are also creating a relationship with those participating and because of this there are many ethical implications that have to addressed. In the past, I have only evaluated ethics within advertisements, but I decided to look up and complete a case study that pertained to research ethics to deepen my understanding of this subject.

Diane Archer Case Study

Link to Study:

Summary and Analysis:
Diane Archer, a biology professor at a large Midwestern university, was reviewing proposals for an NIH grant. When she came across Charlie West, a past student of hers, proposal she was impressed with the background section, but notices a shift in tone and phrasing in the research design and methods section. Rather than continuing with the scientific soundness, these two sections were awkward and difficult to understand. The significant shift in style causes Archer to look at West's past work. She realizes that the background section was almost identical to an earlier proposal that West had reviewed with her two years ago. Archer is torn what to do because if she reports her discovery, West's future as a scientist is over, but if she doesn't her own reputation and career is at risk. Archer decides to contract and confront West directly. She plans to advise West to withdrawal his proposal, and if he agrees, she feels no need to take further action.

The questions....Should Archer proceed with her plan to contact West? Why of why not?

I think Diane Archer is in a tough situation because she is playing the role of the educator within the biology department as well as a reviewer of NIH grants. As an educator Archer's plan is acceptable because she is trying to teach her student a lesson and show him that the decision to plagiarize the background section was ethically wrong. Archer also has to recall what she has taught her students. Archer is also responsible for stressing the rules and conventions for conducting scientific research. These can often be difficult to understand as a student because we have to analyze and report on them without plagiarizing. If Archer feels that she did not adequately teach the rules and conventions of scientific research she may feel that it's her responsibility to tell West directly rather than turning him in and ruining his career. One could also argue that plagiarism is universally understood and taught in all levels of education and West should have realized that copying an entire section was completely wrong and unethical.

When Archer agreed to be a reviewer, she agreed to the rules and regulations of NIH. If she contacts West directly and he only changes his background slightly or fails to withdraw the proposal, it could come back and hurt Archer. If the granting agency notices the plagiarism, they may question whether or not Archer truly reviewed the proposals to the best of her ability and more importantly if they found out that she took her own measure to fix the issue, she could lose her job and reputation. Her job as a reviewer is separate from her job as an educator and she needs to take that into consideration and put the granting agency's needs first when she is working for them. As a reviewer, she also needs to choose the best original proposal for scientific purposes and to ensure that the best research is funded.

I believe that Archer should put her reviewer obligations first and realize that she is no longer a teacher in this situation. Her job is to grant the best and most scientifically sound research proposal. Clearly that isn't Wests so why go out of her way to help him out when she is putting not only herself, but the granting agency at risk. She needs to uphold the standards of conduct and report the plagiarism because if she doesn't, West's decision to plagiarize is essentially acceptable and she did not adequately do her job as a reviewer.

After analyzing this case study I looked back at the research journal assignment that was posted on our moodle page. It said that this assignment was created to help us "attune to to the research we encounter and to get us thinking about the research we would want to create ourselves." Although it was a simple explanation of our assignment, it made me really think. When researching and reporting my findings, I am fundamentally drawn to research that is ethical. Although I am naturally indecisive in every situation, my ethics and values continually define and govern my final decision. When it comes to communication I hope to explore and create research that exemplifies my ethics as well. I am happy that I looked into the ethical implications that occur behind the scenes in research and experiments. It made me realize that my own standard of ethics and values are extremely important and I am glad they play a huge role in my life. I think that having a personal understanding of what is right and what is wrong will get a person very far in life.