Steppenwolf Theater

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Steppenwolf Theater, a historic non-profit theater in Chicago, is truly a place of passion.

The Communications team sat with us at Steppenwolf and explained some of the challenges, and rewards of their jobs.

They believe one of the hardest challenges they face is their financial budget for the year. They want to spread the word about the amazing work and talent performing at the theater, however a small budget for communications hinders their ability to do so.

One thing was for sure, the employees at Steppenwolf are obsessed. They all came from art, or theater backgrounds and found themselves behind the scenes at Steppenwolf. They all raved about how their positions allow them to be a part of something they love in a new capacity. They pride themselves of advancing the mission of the theater.

AKIRA Clothing

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Jon Cotay from AKIRA Clothing was a hoot, but had very insightful ideas about maintaining connections.

Fashion is another world, and John highlighted the fast paced, cruel and fake world he loves and works in. The clothing store was started a few years back by Jon and his two friends from college. They have brought the small boutique into the big bad fashion world as an icon and are on top of the trendsetting list.

Jon is a supertalker and genuinely loves people and what he does. His biggest piece of advice was to maintain out networks. Every couple of months Jon goes through his entire list of contacts and sends an e-mail or text asking them how they are, and giving them an update about his own life.

His advice for undergrads looking to get into fashion is to have energy and be willing to do the 'dirty' work to show your appreciation and drive.

Starcom Media Vest

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Starcom surprised many members of PRSSA who are not familiar with media buying agencies.

Starcom is divided between Strategy and Activation teams. Now let me explain.

The Strategy team is made up of professionals who focus on working directly with their client to find out exactly which audience the company wants to reach. It is then their responsibility to research demographics relevant to their clients product.

Activation teams work with their vendor partners to purchase the ad space necessary for the individual clients.

The company has a great structure for professional growth. They offer unified training to each employee no matter how long or what title they have within the company.

Their current opportunities for undergraduates and recent graduates are posted here on their website. They are looking for media associates who can show examples of leadership and multitasking abilities.

The White Sox Stadium

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PRSSA started the day at The U.S. Cellular White Sox Stadium and met the brilliant Lou Hernandez. Lou has been with the White Sox since 2006 and is currently the Director of PR for the Major League Baseball team.

Hearing from Lou was one of the most insightful, and inspirational moments of the day as he highlighted what it takes to make it in Sports, and PR in general.

The White Sox Communications department is divided up between PR, Community Relations and Mass Communications.

PR takes on the role of making sure all stories about tickets, game days, fans, players, and crisis are accurately portrayed in the media. They also focus on the charitable, and philanthropic endeavors the team has its name on.

Community Relations are responsible for all player appearances in the community as well as community involvement events.

The Mass Communications division oversees the social media, design, website, programs and newsletters produced by the White Sox.

PRSSA Goes to Chicago

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The University of Minnesota's Chapter of PRSSA has traveled to Chicago for the past three years to give their members an awesome opportunity. Each trip allows for twenty to forty members to tour some major PR agencies, sports arena's, non-profits, and boutique agencies in the city of Chicago.

Chicago is less than an hour away by plane and offers a wonderful blend of big city New York and Midwestern Minneapolis. For students looking to start their careers outside of the Twin Cities, the connections made on the Chicago Tours are extremely valuable.

This year the Chapter made stops at The White Sox Stadium, Starcom MediaVest Group, AKIRA Clothing and Steppenwolf Theater.

Our Demographic is Changing, So Should our Research

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US Latinos are becoming a large part of our nations population and it's important that our researchers take note, and create their studies accordingly. has noted how the US Latinos have innovated the way we see and use qualitative research.
Check it out.

Don't Believe Everything You Read

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So let's talk validity.

How do you really know if what researchers are saying is true, or just fluff? It's important to do your own research after reading an article. Find out who wrote the article, and where they got their information. If the author keeps saying "The study showed xyz." It's important to find out WHY the study showed that. Does the author even know, or are they just writing a summary of the conclusion?

I'm not saying the article or study isn't credible, but it doesn't help readers to become more knowledgeable. It just helps them read meaningless stats and analysis. The method is very important and some articles just leave it out completely.

Read this article and let me know what you think of the language the author uses.

What's on My Aspirin?

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A new study released this week shows that a high percent of the population may not be aspirin resistant like they once thought. While notable doctors have guessed that anywhere between 5-40 percent of the American population was resistant to the pain reliever, the study from the University of Pennsylvania shows it's the coating on the pill that changes the way the drug enters the body for some.
It seems this study was done with a pool of healthy adults who were screened for their ability to resist aspirin. Another caveat? Well, Bayer, the famous aspirin company, funded most of this new study. So the response noting none of the 400 healthy adults were resistant seems well worth the money.

Click on this link for more details.

Data Company Sells for Big Money

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The value of a good data company is much more than the average person might think. Recently Clear Story Data was purchased by an investment group formed by Google Ventures and others for $9 million.

The growth of the company database, and the need for large amounts of data by companies make the sale well worth it. Google can use the information for much more than targeting ads, and will see a great return of Investment.
Here's the article to read more.

Murder linked to a disease?

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This study shows a link between those who murdered in Newark, NJ and looked at them like an infectious disease.

While the study may have been extensive, it does not seem quite conclusive. They looked at murders that occured between 1982 and 2007 which totaled over 2,000. They looked at the time and location of each murder and used a software to calculate the data. I'm just not sure the use of the software can always be trusted.

Click this link to LISTEN to the story, and read more.

Bad Research at its Finest

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A study in the journal SLEEP says there is a link between insomnia and respiratory issues. They studied men and women as they slept and noticed they woke on average 30 times and suffered minor respiratory problem. Seems legit.

Well let's look a little deeper. The study used 20 people, and had no control group. Enough said, I'm not buying it.

Hard Hits lead to Brain Disease

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Football Sunday at my house is full of guys cheering and wincing as they watch their fantasy teams be destroyed week after week. But what happens to those players after the game has ended? There's no denying those linebackers take quite a beating, but is it worth it? This new study shows even more support to those who say routinely being hit may lead to brain disease.
The study itself used 68 men and 17 women ranging from ages 17-98. Most of the participants were athletes from all different levels, high school to pro, and retired. The study classified the athletes on a four-tiered system ranging from headaches and loss of attention all the way to dementia and aggression.

Surveys and Cell Phone Providers

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The holiday commercial season is upon us and cell phones may be on the top of everyone's Christmas List. So who truly is the best carrier? Verizon and AT&T are known for their mudslinging advertisements on who has the best service, so how do you decide? Thankfully the Consumer Reports National Research Center has released the results of a national survey of cell phone users. A random sample of 63,523 of Consumer Reports 7 million members shows almost each carrier has it's pros and cons!
Check out this article to read more about the results.

Do Researchers Owe Society?

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I would say the answer is yes. This article posted by asks the question that if the professionals are so good at many different ways to understand the perceptions of brands and public, should they use their power for good?

When they have every opportunity to use facts and figures to say whatever they want, I think it is imperative for research companies to conduct ethical and truthful studies for the betterment of our society.

What do you think?

Greenbook's Predictions

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Screen Shot 2012-12-06 at 10.23.41 AM.png has released their predictions for 2013's market research!
Click this link to check out their thoughts, and view a great video!

Retaining Profitable Customers

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Make sure to check out the link above and study up! You'll need to know this.

My Letter to Betty McCollum

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It came to my attention that our government was spending money on ridiculous sports sponsorships for military recruiting efforts. My thoughts to Betty McCollum are in support of her proposal to stop this spending.

Dear Ms. McCollum,

I would first like to congratulate you on your win for another term as Congresswoman. I am a supporter of your mission, and have very similar beliefs in government spending. I want to thank you for your continued service to Minnesota and The United States. I am writing you today in support of your amendment to eliminate funding for professional sports sponsorships.
I believe sports in our country are an important aspect to our entertainment options, however I do not believe the amount of money they receive for sponsorships is appropriate. Events like the Super Bowl, March Madness and NASCAR draw a large commercial audience and the money businesses are willing to spend is increasingly becoming out of hand. That being said I have a hard time understanding how our government is willing to do the same. I do understand the importance of recruiting the best and brightest for our nations Armed Forces however I do not believe this should be achieved through million dollar sponsorships to have a logo plastered on a racecar. Those funds could be more appropriately spent on more effective means of recruiting, and advertising. Those funds could also be allocated to education, or simply paying back our nations debt.
I have read your opinion on this issue, and am happy to know you feel as strongly as I do on this issue. I would like to be informed of your progress in passing this amendment.
Thank you for your time,
Nicolette Seifert
University of MN Undergraduate

Social Media Presence

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Topic: Using Social Media Presence to Build Your Brand

It is becoming increasingly important for young professionals to not only have a presence online, but also a relevant, and professional one. Employers are becoming more aware of different platforms, and are impressed with our knowledge of the trends.


Intro: Why branding yourself online is key to gaining exposure

1.) Types of sites, outlets to be active on
2.) What ways to promote yourself
3.) How to interact with professionals, businesses or organizations

There is no denying the fact that the growth of social media in the past decade has drastically affected the way college students, and recent college graduates have applied for 'real-world' jobs. Current university upperclassmen, on average, have been a part of the Facebook community for around seven years. Pictures from high school dances, and slumber parties are among the first pieces of the online brand we are creating for ourselves. While we may not consider it entirely 'fair' for employers to snoop through our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts, there is a way we can create a positive image, and effectively position our brands.
Some sites to be most active on include LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It is important to remember that a social media presence isn't about quantity, but quality. If you are constantly adding new accounts, and abandoning others you may lose content quality, and important followers.
A high volume of posts won't necessarily help your brand presence, especially if you only tweet when you are out with friends, and post constant political statuses. It is important to show your versatility, and your knowledge of relevant topics. This is not to say stop posting personal thoughts or ideas! Employers want to see that you are on top of new trends in PR, and that you have a personality, hobbies, and/or creativity. Make sure you find the appropriate balance.
Promote yourself, and affectively post quality content. Remember that each site is different. Linking all of your tweets to your Facebook page may be efficient, but it's not original. Become interactive. Position your posts to allow your followers to comment, or like your content. Show your ability to obtain a following that appreciates your opinions or points of view.
Follow the businesses and organizations you are interested in, or are inspired by. Starting conversations with professionals is an easy way to create networks, and build relationships.
Create a LinkedIn account, and then actually use it! This is probably your only chance at having an entirely professional social media outlet, so let it shine! You can post articles, comment on group discussions, and create connections with some extremely valuable professionals.
However you approach your personal brand, remember that it will be viewed and analyzed by future employers, so put your best foot forward!

Women's Health Survey

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Taking a survey for the University is something students do quite often to win prizes, or gain extra credit. For this survey I took I was astonished by the length of the questions. While I sat through the 20 minute survey and read each question I couldn't help but think of all the students who might just click through without reading. This can be a major problem for researchers as they analyze data from these surveys.

The standard deviation becomes larger when the margin of error is so prevalent. To combat this I would recommend the writers of the survey to keep the audience in mind. A focus on short multiple choice questions is better than long winded lickert scale questions.

Super Simple Surveys

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A Survey is both simple, and complex, depending on the end you look at. While participants may see the questions as simple, there is a definite strategy researchers use in the order and wording for each and every survey question. The basics for writing, reading, and analyzing surveys are laid out here in this article created by

New Qualitative Research Site

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The launch if the sister site is going to be a very useful tool for those looking to find methods for qualitative research!

The site offers online chat room focus groups, online communities, journals and blogs, even mobile qualitative research!

Good News for Parents with Teenage Drivers

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A new study shows a decrease in the number of teens drinking and driving. This is a great article written by someone who actually understood the study! Not only do they explain the current statistics, but it compares them to the numbers from 1 and 20 years ago. The author describes the method as a national survey. While they do not go in depth on the method there is a link provided, for those interested, to investigate further.

It seems the reason for the decline is the stricter laws that are being enforced throughout the country. Of the 41 states surveyed "the percentage of students who reported drinking and driving in the previous 30 days ranged from a low of 4.6 percent in Utah to a high of 14.5 percent in North Dakota." Seems like a pretty intensive study to me.