The Voice of Alexandria

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Last weekend I had the chance to interview a man who has been in so many different areas of the strategic communications field it'll make your head spin. Joe Korkowski has been involved in the journalism/strategic communications field for almost 20 years and has worked in areas such as story reporting, commercial production, news station anchor, daytime radio host, and marketing consultant. The amazing thing about the variety in his resume is the fact that all of these jobs and roles took place in one town, Alexandria, MN.

Alexandria, MN is a town of no more than 13,000 people and is located in the Northwestern part of the state. Just to be clear for all of the city slickers out there, yes they do have electricity and no residents do not still use horse and buggy. Anyways, Joe has a great story about his connection with the Alexandria community.

Joe gave me some great feedback on what its like to report for a smaller news organization. He loved doing stories and hearing the different perspectives that people had on specific topics. He said that being able to listen and think like your client or story interest can help create a greater understanding of their situation. This can, in turn, lead to a more personal relationship.

As our interview continued I had one very important question left for him. I asked, "As a college student, what advice do you have for me before entering this field?". He said that he wished he had learned more about business during his college years at Southwest State University because he would have been able to better understand his client's problems.

Business concepts are applicable to every job in the world today. By being exposed to such concepts before entering the workforce one can have a leg up on the competition and apply those concepts to provide intelligent solutions.

Joe has passed down some extremely valuable knowledge to all the Strategic Communications majors out there. Be relatable, have an open mind, and understand business concepts in order to get ahead of the game and jumpstart a career in the industry.

Check out some of Joe's work at http://www.voiceofalexandria.com/.


Is Txt Lingo Killing Ur Students Ability 2 Write?

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Is students refusal to use email and focus on texting and other short forms of communication keeping the nations youth from becoming well rounded writers?

Recently this issue has been getting a lot of attention, and after reading this article http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/literacy/articles/instant-messaging/ I am compelled to give another perspective.

I read numerous articles and blogs claiming that students don't use email to communicate with their professors and are more focused on social media and texting. Professors suspect that this lack of formal communication will lead to students not being able to communicate in the formal manner that society expects of them.

In response to students not using email to interact with their professors and formal acquaintances I can't help but be a little skeptical of this statements reliability. As a senior in college it is safe to say that email is one of my major forms of communication and is definitely one of my most professional. I email professors and other contacts on a day-to-day basis and am sure that my friends do so with a similar intensity. Yes students engage in multiple forms short communications whether its social media or texting, but saying that students refuse to use email to communicate is an extremely bold statement.

I also feel as though when an issue such as this is brought up by a professor in regards to students responding directly back to their emails it becomes a little bit biased. Again as a current college student I can tell you that my email responses vary accordingly to whom I am responding. I respond differently to professors, friends, potential employers, business partners, family members, etc. So when a professor gets a response that isn't up to their writing standards it seems a little unfair to assume that every email they send out is written in the same form.

Furthermore students realize that there is a difference when writing a text or Facebook post and writing a cover letter or email to future employer. Students treat texting and social media as a completely different language than cover letters, emails or other forms of professional communication. Thus when people say that students are not able to communicate in a formal matter and write only in a so-called "abbreviated form", it feels like a stab at my intelligence.

A quote from Jacqui Murray, editor of 6 eBooks on technology in education, says it best with, "To fault text messaging is like blaming the weather for sinking the Titanic. Texting has less to do with their inability to spit out a full sentence than their 1) need for quickness of communication, 2) love for secrecy, and 3) joy of knowing a language adults don't."

I'm not going to beat a dead horse here so I will leave you this article http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201203/has-texting-and-email-ruined-students-writing-skills-0.


Across the Pond

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I had the opportunity to see the advertising world from a new perspective when I visited London. Its amazing how different something can be when its only an ocean away. Some of the biggest agency's in the world are located in London, one of which is called Saatchi and Saatchi. This agency challenges how advertising is created and has had tremendous success over the years by pushing the boundaries of advertising and opening the public eye to unseen truths. I was fortunate enough to visit the Saatchi art gallery and had the opportunity to see some of the best art and advertising in the world today.
After visiting the Saatchi Gallery I have to say it was nothing like I had expected. Of course, being a gallery, I had anticipated it was going to be like walking into the National Portrait Museum. I was definitely in for a surprise. I found that what really set this gallery apart from the other art institutions I've been to is that it was extremely diverse in the artworks that it contained. It was brilliant mix of photos, sculptures, paintings, and architectural wonders. It provides a template for all different areas of art, and nothing was too outrageous or different to be featured. I thought that Boris Mikhallovs work was very unique. It definitely pushed many different social, and political boundaries. And for this reason it intrigued me. I found some things a little overwhelming at first glance but after thinking to myself for a brief second I realized that this is the first time I have truly been overwhelmed in any art gallery before. I feel as though this gallery blurs the lines of what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable in today's society.
Oliviero Toscani and his United Colors of Bennetton ad campaign gave me the same feeling as the Saatchi Gallery did when I first walked inside. Both push the limits of what society considers acceptable and pose questions for the public to consider. Some of the art and images at the gallery looked like they belonged in The United Colors of Bennetton ads. I think that by pushing the limits in his gallery Saatchi is showing that there is a new trend in advertising coming to light, one that has the ability to open up the world and offers a multitude of internal and external questions to be asked the public. The Saatchi Gallery was an experience unlike any other, and is something that I believe challenges our society in a good way.


Creative University

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Companies are always in search of the latest and greatest thing to hit the advertising world. Usually they resort to the biggest agencies for such advice, but recently I came across something Fox Sports is doing across the nation, and immediately became interested.
For one of my classes here at the University of Minnesota I had the opportunity to participate in Fox Sports Creative University program. This program works with the best and brightest campuses nationwide and involves current students in real advertising plans.
Our task, as a group, was to come up with a fully functional integrated advertising campaign from scratch over the semester. One of the coolest parts of the program is that you get the chance to work on a campaign for an organization in your state or area. For us our challenge was to come up with a campaign for Hockey Day Minnesota 2015.
They gave us the entire semester to work on it with very loose guidelines as to what we could do. Essentially they gave our class and students full creative control over our campaign.
At the end of the semester Fox Sports would fly back some of their VP's and GM's to hear our presentation and critique us on our work. After viewing every groups work Fox Sports is placed with the task of choosing an overall winner for the competition. The winner is then able to help Fox Sports produce different parts of their campaign and has the opportunity to present their ideas to different levels of management within the Fox Sports organization.
This program was an unbelievable experience. To have the opportunity to create something that could possibly be put into motion by the following year is almost a dream come true. Fox Sports is giving students a chance to enter the "real world" and put their ideas to the test. This is how classes should be, real experience, real companies, and real ideas.
Check out the Creative University website to see if your school is on the list. http://foxcreativeuniversity.com/

Twitter vs. T.V.

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Twitter is a place where 140 characters is the maximum amount available to get a point, story, or opinion across to the public. In my experience it a great way to keep things short, simple, and straight to the point. Pictures and video links grace twitter with their presence on the regular but now twitter is expanding into an entirely new category....TV.

Twitter and Comcast are working together to turn Twitter into a remote control for your T.V. They have created "See It", a button that gives tweeters the opportunity to instantly view, record, or pull up on demand shows from their mobile device.

It is said that more television stations are interested in becoming involved with this feature such as ABC, A&E, and AMC Networks. Once again the demand for mobile and instant viewing is changing the way we share content and news.

I'm not completely sold on this concept yet. I feel as though if people want to view/record a show they can do it through so many different mediums that doing it through twitter will seem like an inefficient way of doing it. Netflix, online streaming, and other apps provide similar services so I think now its just a matter of separation. As a consumer I need to know why this twitter button is better than the other options and how it is going to make my life easier.

For now I think ill stick to my usual 140 character tweets, the occasional Youtube link, and random twitter pic. I like T.V. just as much as the rest of the world but using Twitter to watch it isn't on top of my Christmas list.

The After Hours Athlete

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Throughout my time here at the University of Minnesota I have been exposed to some pretty creative advertising campaigns. In the world that we live in, integration is key and being able to engage with your consumer is an edge every company wants to have. Every agency wants to have a direct connection with the consumer; at least that's what I have been taught for the last 3.5 years.

As I said above, I have seen my fair share of innovative campaigns over the last few years, but recently I was introduced to one that connect with me directly. Up until this point I suppose I never really understood what it meant to truly have a connection with a company or product. All I can say is that this experience changed my experience with advertising forever.

I have never been a loyal Puma fan. Don't get me wrong it's a cool brand that seems to be pretty trendy these days but nothing ever resonated inside me that said, " I need to buy Puma". Maybe that's why I was so shocked when I was introduced to the Puma "After Hours Athlete" integrated campaign. The first time I watched this video http://vimeo.com/60179322 I was completely engaged with the campaign. It resonated with my life and how I live it. As a lot of college students will attest to, this campaign spoke to them directly and provided them with an explanation for their greatness.
I believe that this reason is why this campaign increased sales by over 10% the following year. Puma revamped their website to promote the after hours athlete. They created new Puma gear that promoted the campaign. They gave the after hours athlete a platform to compete with others around the world.

I have seen some pretty creative campaigns in my days at the University of Minnesota, but this one really hits home. It impacted me on a personal level and I believe that this is the core of advertising.

Mixing Business With Pleasure

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For the last few years there has been a constant debate going on about social media and how it applies to business. For everyone who still considers society to be going through a digital revolution please stop and take a second to realize that this revolution has already happened. We are, currently, a digital society and have been so for quite some time. Social media has become such a huge part of our lives as individuals, groups, and businesses alike, that sometimes it can get a bit out of control.

I have currently been experiencing extreme annoyance when it comes to my Facebook. Businesses continually annoy me about product promotions, sales, and anything else they can send to me for free over the Internet. I know for a fact that I am not the only one that feels this way, therefore I decided to ask a professional who is currently working in the strategic planning field his thoughts about social media and its functions as it applies to businesses.

His name is Joe Korkowski. You may remember this name from one of my previous posts. Joe is currently a Marketing Strategist at Paradis Broadcasting and deals with social media and clients on a daily basis. I asked Joe about his thoughts on this topic. His response seemed to connect with mine.

Joe said that businesses are using social media today to deliver information about their company, products, and people on a daily basis. It's a great way to market for free but there is a line that must be drawn. He told me that it is becoming more of an annoyance than a marketing tool. He doesn't like being bombarded with useless promotions and info that fills up his message box from companies and businesses that he really doesn't care about. He said that what businesses need to realize is that social media is a great way to connect on a personal level with clients and build stronger relationships with them, not annoy them so much that they refuse to work with you in the future. Effective use of social media is crucial and it feels as though not many businesses are succeeding.

http://hbr.org/web/slideshows/social-media-what-most-companies-dont-know/2-slide

Social media is a great personal communication tool and that is what it should be used for. Personal communications. Build relationships with customers and clients to expand your business and promote repeat consumers, but please do not post, message, or send useless annoying information to consumers because instead of turning them on to your product or service, you might just end up turning them off.

The Presentation Battle

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Presentations are a necessity for almost every career these days. Being able to display information to others is a key aspect of virtually any business. In my experience, when it comes to presenting, your realistically have two main options. Prezi or Power Point. Which one is the best choice? Now that's a personal decision.

During my previous experience I have used both templates and had success with them. They both have their advantages and it really just comes down to preference.

Power Point has been around for a while and seems to be consistently reliable. It gives you complete control over your presentation in almost any aspect you can think of. It is linear and professional and allows you to display information in an easy to understand environment. The only real downfall of power point is that the size of the file can be quite large when you implement videos, audios, and other things into your slideshow. Power Point may not be the flashiest way to present information, but it is the most reliable, and if you put in some effort creative expansion is not difficult with this software.

Prezi brings a few different characteristics to the table. Prezi allows you to zoom and create your own paths during your presentation. It gives you the option of creating and integrating your own artwork into the design and lets you decide how the information flows throughout the presentation. Prezi has a modern cutting edge feel to it and bring the sort of "WOW" factor to the table that some clients are looking for.

Granted Prezi is modern and graphically superior to Power Point in some ways it does have a few disadvantages. For one it is quite expensive if you want the desktop version, and if your choose to go free a sudden lapse in internet connection may leave you
scrambling to find a new presenation. If your audience gets motion sick easily you might have to bring out the plastic bags during your Prezi because it is a lot of moving around.
Overall both versions have their strengths and weaknesses so like I said earlier it all comes down to preference.

Who's To Blame?

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When selling a product or service a company uses many different outlets to separate itself from the competition. Things such as packaging, quality, and marketing all play a pivotal role. But there is one outlet that seems to be of more importance than all the rest, and that outlet is called advertising.

A company uses advertising to promote their product or service to the public eye. They use advertising to give whatever their selling an edge, or an added benefit/reward over the competition. Most companies go through an advertising agency to ensure professional quality is added to their ad campaign. This partnership is the area where things can get a little messy.

In order to go ahead with an ad campaign the marketing sector of a company has to give the approval and sign off on the campaign idea and supporting ideas. Then the advertisers can begin formulating a campaign. But what happens when sales don't increase, or even decrease? Who should point their finger at whom? It seems as though the Marketing team tends to point the finger directly at the advertising agency. But is the advertising agency to blame, in their entirety, for a decrease in sales?

I, for one, think that this is not at all correct. There are multiple reasons to support this. The simple fact that the marketing team signed off on the campaign before production, the sheer number of variables that go into making a product successful, and lack of evidence. Blaming only the advertising agency for a drop in sales is not the answer.

To single out advertisers as the sole cause of a decrease in sales is extremely short sighted and negligent of the many other factors that play into a company's successes and failures.

By signing off on the campaign, marketing management has a very good idea as to what they are getting into, and probably believed that it would be successful. Therefore they should be blaming themselves and not just the ad agency.

Furthermore the inability to prove exactly why the decrease in sales took place only adds value to my point that real evidence for the sole tanking of a product, on advertisings behalf, is very hard to find. Therefore, according to a combination of the above statements, I believe that marketing management is not correct in placing the sole blame for a decrease in sales on the ad agency.

Staying Connected

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Staying connected with friends and family is a lot easier today than it was 10 years ago. Social media, Facetime, Skype, and other sources give people the opportunity to stay connected no matter where they are in the world.
Being a college student, people are constantly pushing you to build your resume and have an experience that separates you from the rest of the pile of resumes on the recruiters desk. Beyond the internships, job fairs, and networking events there is one opportunity in college that can be life changing and pump up the resume at the same time.
I have never been away from my family for more than a month or so at a time, so when I decided to study abroad and work in London during the spring semester of last year I was a little worried. Not that I couldn't make it on my own but that I wouldn't be able to see my family as much I wanted. That's where I was wrong.
I may have seen and interacted with my family more when I was abroad than when I was two hours away from them. I Skyped them on a weekly basis, used texting services like Viber to connect with them on a daily basis, Facetimed them when I was on the go, emailed them my experiences whenever I had the chance, and put pictures on social media sites so they could be part of my experiences. Staying connected has never been easier.
I'm saying all of this because I know a few people who decided not to take the opportunity to study abroad just because they didn't want to miss out on anything at home or with their family. I understand this worry, and the fear of missing out, but passing up an opportunity such as this one is completely crazy in my mind.
Studying abroad changed my life. It made me a more independent and well-rounded human being. I experienced situations abroad that I never thought I would be placed in in a million years. Everything from navigating a city of 8 million alone, to trying to explain directions in language I have never even considered learning. The experiences I had while studying and working abroad gave me confidence to achieve bigger and better things in life.
Internships, volunteer activities, and scholarships are all great things to have on your resume but if separation is the key to getting an interview there is no other experience that has the effect that a study abroad program does. Abroad experiences are gold when it comes to interviewing; it's amazing how much is relatable and transferrable to the professional world. So if your looking for an experience that will change your life and give you the skills you need to succeed I urge you to consider studying abroad. The possibilities are endless.
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