No Longer A Child, Not Quite An Adult (AKA: The End Of The Semester Is Upon Us)

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Well, that’s it, another semester over. Seems like this picture was taken only yesterday (and the one we did take yesterday would be included in here if someone posted it…) but I digress.

What have I learned from my senior capstone? I mean, I learned a lot. I wrote an entire business plan start to finish. I created my own business! (Not really, but for the purposes of this class, I learned the basics of how to do that!) I learned… actually, if I listed everything I learned in this class over the course of the semester, we would be here FOREVER. So, just to keep this blog post short and let me get back to studying for finals, let’s just do it this way. Here are a few of the highlights of the semester:

  • Creating Adulting 101 (It was How To Adult, but we decided to be dramatic and throw in a last minute name change)
  • Meeting the guy(s) behind White and Blue Review
  • Learning how to make a good Kickstarter campaign!
  • Watching all the presentations for the businesses that my classmates made up (Seriously, some of them were really good!

Now, if you asked me if there was something that I didn’t enjoy about the class, I could probably give you an answer. Undoubtedly, there probably was something that we did this semester that I could most likely have lived without. That being said, for the life of me at this moment I cannot think of anything.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time in this class. I got to hang out with so many people who I have grown close to over my two and a half years in the JMC department (changing majors Sophomore year was the best decision I have made at Creighton), it allowed me to learn skills that I definitely will need in the career I plan on going into, and it simply made me realize (not for the first time) that I had made the right decision in my career choice. I am thankful for the JMC Department at Creighton and all they have done for me, and I hope I make all of them proud one day.

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Freelancing, But In Less Scary Terms

I remember the first time I had ever heard the word ‘freelance’; I was probably about eleven years old. It was Christmas Eve and we were at my Grandma’s house with all the members of my dad’s side of the family. I’m talking cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, significant others, the whole nine-yards. During this event the topic of conversation turned to, as it naturally does, what my adult cousins were doing with their lives. After talking about my cousin’s impending wedding, the conversation turned to my cousin Lindsay, who had graduated college with a communication degree only six months prior. This is how the conversation regarding this topic went down:

Grandma: So, Lindsay, what are you doing with your life now?

Lindsay: Oh! Well, I’m working as a free-lance photographer for some local newspapers and online websites.

Grandma: Oh… so you don’t really have a job then.

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If you take that into account, does it make sense that I had a negative view of freelancing up until a few months ago; until I started this class?

Reading the book Media Innovation and Entrepuraship, specifically the chapter on freelancing, gave me a better insight on the overall concept of freelancing. While I had learned earlier on in the semester that, yes, freelancing meant that you did have a job (thanks Grandma for shaping my initial belief that Lindsay was unemployed after college) and that you were getting paid.

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YouTube has some very good videos about freelancing as well, but for this post let’s just stick with the book.

One of my favorite things about this section of the book was the part that listed the rules of freelancing. These rules, for those of you who have not read the article (Do it, trust me it’s really good) say the following:

  • Deliver reliability
  • Be on time
  • Be thorough, not sloppy
  • Communicate
  • Don’t be a pain in the butt to work with
  • Anticipate your client’s needs

These rules do a good job of listing out exactly what you need to do to be a good freelancer. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t even think about some of these when I was thinking of good qualities for a freelancer, or even a professional in general. However, these make PERFECT sense and I really enjoy them.

I, personally, would not want to work freelance. This, however, has nothing to do with the job overall. I just feel more comfortable with having something sturdy and solid to plant myself on; however people who enjoy not having boundaries for the people they can work for and moving from place to place would make good freelancers in my opinion.

Elevator Pitches and The Emotional Terror They Bring

Just to start this post off, I hate public speaking. Seriously, I would rather do anything else besides stand in front of people and give a formal talk. So when I was told that I had to give an elevator pitch by myself without a notecard or slides or anything else to help me remember things, I started freaking out. I knew what I wanted to say, I knew what I needed to say, but I knew that the minute I stood up there to give my pitch, something would go right out the window (mentally) and I would just stand up there like an idiot. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. 

In the term of planning for my pitch, when I was coming to figure out what to say, I found that Google was my best friend. Eventually, I ended up with ElevatorPitchEssentials.com, a website that gives examples of what to do when you have to give an elevator pitch. All of the examples it gave were very helpful, in my opinion, but the main one that I felt weird about was introducing myself.

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Now, I only gave my speech to my teacher, we were literally the only two people in the room. I can’t even imagine how awkward I would feel if I had to introduce myself to my whole class. Don’t get me wrong, in situations where you don’t know the person you are giving your pitch to, I entirely understand why you are introducing yourself, but this is a class of all seniors in the same department. We know each other, some of us very very well. So introducing ourselves just felt weird, at least to me. 

I didn’t necessarily think it was hard to come up with my pitch was difficult, however thinking of how to fit all my information into a speech that couldn’t be longer than 60 seconds was much more stressful than I could have ever expected. I had to rewrite my speech a few times because on the first few tries I found that I wasn’t getting all the necessary information in there by the time required. Because of that, it was entirely too hard (in my opinion) to write this speech and make it seem natural. There was no way (in my mind) to make this flow in a way that sounds like a conversation. 

Overal, I think that the elevator pitch went well, or at the very least I learned a topic that I can use later on in my life. Even if I’m not pitching a project, at least I can do a version of the elevator pitch for myself. Who knows, maybe it will end with me getting a job. Or at least, one can hope. 

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How To Raise Money Online… Well, How To Do It Well At Least

Let’s face it, asking for money is never easy, nor is it fun. To this day, even as a 21-year-old woman, I still HATE asking my parents for money…. come to think about it, I hate asking anyone in general for money. So to imagine being a business/ start-up and asking for money is something entirely different. When they need to raise money in a quick(er) amount of time, some organizations set up Kickstarters and, while the premise is the same across the field, some organizations do this process better than others.

The first Kickstarter campaign that I want to touch on is one by the name of MudTails. This product, which describes itself as “a line of apparel for all ages that specializes in barnyard animals with a positive voice and sign language designs” features a variety of pigs on one set of clothing options (see below… or don’t, you’ll see why I say that in a second) while another set of clothes feature common sign language words/phrases commonly taught to small children.

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See what I mean about it being creepy? Also, side note, you’re designing characters around pigs, yet you have a shirt with a live piece of bacon on it….

This product started their campaign with a goal of $2,750 and, after the whole thing was over… they only raised $40. So the question is, why was this campaign unsuccessful? One of the biggest problems I can see with this campaign is that it isn’t something that can be marketed to everyone. It doesn’t capture the attention of everyone who could possibly want to buy clothes. From what I can see, it applies to one, maybe two groups: children who like pigs or parents who want people to know their kid knows basic sign language. Also, the video (which I can’t link to in this post but feel free to look at it with the above link) wasn’t the best made in my opinion, so that may have persuaded people to not give money. Either way, this is not an example of a good campaign.

If you want to see a good campaign, look no further than the Coolest Cooler! This cooler includes a USB charging station, blender, two inside compartments, and a TON of other cool options to it!

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This project hoped to raise $50,000 and they raised SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT! How much you ask? Oh, just a measly $13,285,226! …That’s more than my entire college tuition! That’s my college tuition times like three.

The reason this was so successful, at least in my opinion, was because of two key reasons. One: it appeals to a wide variety of people. People who like to go camping, go to the beach, have a BBQ, and so MANY more can enjoy this product because of what it is and what it does. It isn’t marketed to a specific group of people, it’s basically marketed to anyone who can afford it.

The second reason: The prizes! What I mean by prizes is this: when people pledged money to the campaign, they got stuff (see below). These prizes are actually things that people would actually use and want to have.124dd185824b69cc586a30dfbc549ec2_original.jpg

Overall, the two campaigns I talked about display two very different ends of the spectrum for Kickstarter campaigns, the very good and the not so good (not even the worst of the worst though because some campaigns start out and they make absolutely no money, which sometimes I find kind of sad). The Coolest Cooler did a lot of things right, and the MudTails did a lot of things wrong, but having a good Kickstarter campaign isn’t always easy. You need to find a way to make people want to give you money to back your product and that isn’t always easy, but when you do get people to back you, it makes you feel good that people believe in what you are producing.

College Start-Ups, Then and Now?

For most college students, they change their majors so many times they come in Pre-Med and leave Journalism (cough cough me). However, there are some students who somehow find the time to not only get good grades and have a social life but also start a successful start up. Well… some were successful.

The start ups I’m talking about are listed in the Business Insider article “16 Great Startups College Students Are Working On Right Now”, and some are much better ideas than others.

I’ll start with the ones I thought were good. The first one I’ll talk about is CentriCycle. This company creates and provides centrifuges to third-world countries that might not have access to the machine or electricity.

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The reason I think this start up is one of the better ones can be broken down into a few reasons. First of all, it fulfills a purpose, and a good purpose at that. Providing medical equipment to countries who otherwise could not afford it; if that isn’t a good purpose, I don’t know what is. The market for this isn’t overrun with other companies trying to do the same thing, which also makes it valuable, as well as incredibly original.

The other start up that I thought was cool was Star Toilet Paper, though this one is sort of in a gray area now. I initially thought it was a good idea, only to later figure out that they had closed down their organization in 2014, only a year after Business Insider published their article.

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As you can see in the above picture, the toilet paper sold ads to companies in order to add to their revenue, which I thought was a great idea. Honestly, I saw this product as being almost like a gag-gift of sorts, and trust me, there is a market for this. I had never heard of anything like this before, so I assumed it would be successful. I mean, one of the founders won College Entrepreneur of 2012, how could it not be successful? Apparently, very easily.

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Even though this product isn’t in production anymore, and the business is… well… out of business, I still think it was a good idea. If they had not made ‘numerous mistakes’ as they said in their Facebook post, maybe they would still be in business today.

Now onto the start ups that I didn’t think were such a success.

The first one that I didn’t enjoy quite as much is trueRSVP. I’m not quite sure why, but this organization just hit me the wrong way. I understood the premise of it, however, I don’t think it is 100% necessary.

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The idea is original, I won’t deny that. I’m not sure I have heard of any other organizations who do this. However, just because it is original doesn’t mean that it is a good idea. I legit don’t understand why people would use this service. I mean, I get that it allows you to ‘plan’ for how many people might actually show up, but what if it’s wrong? Wouldn’t it be better to be over prepared for something rather than go with the service and not have enough, let’s say food, for the people who are coming?

The other startup that I cannot understand how it is a thing is FamilyLeaf. I mean, come on… it’s Facebook!

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FamilyLeaf is described as a social media site that allows people to share posts, photos, and messages with their families… read that and tell me that doesn’t sound EXACTLY LIKE FACEBOOK!!! I cannot be the only person who knows about this organization that thinks this. I mean, am I crazy? How is this a thing?!?

Overall, I could get behind most of the startups Business Insider listed in their article, in fact, I only didn’t like the two I talked about in that section of the post. Some college students create great businesses while they are still in school and, honestly, I am kinda jealous of them for that. Not even going to lie, I wish I had that kind of creativity, business insight, and multitasking ability to get all of the things it takes to create a startup, while at the same time not flunking out of school. That in and of itself is a win in my book.

Once Again, Everything Changes

I swear, in terms of start-ups and journalism in general, you can’t go more than a year without hearing about how something has come along and changed things forever. First it was the internet, then it was Twitter, now it’s… still Twitter but you get my point.

Because I hear it all the time, I tend to despise the phrase “Next Big Thing” and “Change the way we see things forever”, or any variation of the two. Then, I read “Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything” by Steve Blank, and suddenly I didn’t mind it very much… well at least for the span of this article.

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t have high hopes going into this article. I expected it to be super boring just not an interesting read. HOWEVER, I was surprised to find that I was wrong and that I actually enjoyed reading this article.

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The section I liked the best, or at least found the most interesting to read, is the section that lists the five factors that constrained growth in start-ups (besides the initial failure rate of 75%). For those of you who didn’t read the article (seriously, go read it), those factors are:

1. The high cost of getting the first customer and the even higher cost of getting the product wrong.

2. Long technology development cycles.

3. The limited number of people with an appetite for the risks inherent in founding or working at a start-up.

4. The structure of the venture capital industry, in which a small number of firms each needed to invest big sums in a handful of start-ups to have a chance at significant returns.

5. The concentration of real expertise in how to build start-ups, which in the United States was mostly found in pockets on the East and West coasts.

I’m not entirely sure why this section was the most interesting for me to read, but I’m going to assume it is because I had never actually thought about these things as being factors that affect start-ups. I mean, looking at them now, they make sense.

The lean approach also makes the most sense to me to reduce the first two constraints listed. I think that the way it is set up differently helps set up products and services that people actually need and want, so I see why it helps the process along.

Overall, I really enjoyed this read. The topic matter wasn’t something I had ever heard of before, and once I read about it I actually wanted to learn more (and no I’m not joking). I recommend this article to people to read who want to learn more about the topic, and even those who don’t and just need something to read to pass the time.

Entrepreneurial Media… huh?

I’m going to be honest, I have no idea what to think when I hear the words “Entrepreneurial Media”. None, no thoughts going through my head whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong, I know what both the words “entrepreneur” and “media” mean, but put them together? You might as well be speaking Japanese.

That being said, after reading Carlo De Marchis’s article The 3 Big Disruptions of the Media Landscape, I have to say I have a slightly better understanding of what people mean by the phrase.

The biggest part of the article that I agreed with was the part about the disruption of media consumption. The way that people get their news nowadays is very very different than the way that people got their news even as recently as ten years ago. In today’s culture, people get their news from various online sources, mainly Twitter. I know, personally, that is where I get most of my news. The below image from the article is really true and I think does a really good job of driving home the point that there are more ways than ever for someone to get their news.Sports Marketing 360.006.png

In terms of journalism entrepreneurship and what intrigues me, I guess I would have to say the fact that you have the power to do whatever you want. You aren’t inhibited by some higher-up to tell you what to do and how to do it. You have absolute freedom.

What scares me about it is that you have no security. What I mean by that is this: there is no guarantee that what you do is going to work, or even if it does work, that it is going to be successful. That is what scares me, that you could put that much work into something and have it blow up in your face.

That being said, am looking forward to learning more about the topic in class this semester and, who knows, maybe it will help me overcome some of my fears about journalism entrepreneurship… or maybe not. We shall see.

Last Day of Class…

Over the last semester, we’ve done a lot of different things. From blogs to LinkedIn to Social Media Strategies, all of these things have somehow worked together to form a coherent, cohesive class which I have enjoyed very much.

This class wasn’t what I expected. That wasn’t meant to come out in a bad way and, honestly, this class was better than I expected. I signed up for it expecting to just learn about when each social media site was formed and how various companies use their accounts, things like that. While that made up some of the content for the class, we did things that I didn’t expect.

Visiting the Humane Society (which may have become an issue because now I send photos from their Twitter accounts to my boyfriend once a week asking if we can adopt a cat) and creating a social media strategy for Creighton Recent Alumni are things that I never thought that we would do in this class. That being said, they ended up being my absolute favorite parts of the semester. That and pie day.C9Os2nBV0AAfzCx

If I were to change one thing about this class, it might be just the amount of lectures. I don’t think that the lectures are boring or anything like that (This is coming from one of the only people who seem to actually take notes during them), I just think that some people might get slightly bored with listening to a lecture and looking at a PowerPoint every single class. Maybe making some lessons more hands-on might relieve this? I’m not entirely sure. However, this is the only thing I can think of to change in terms of this class.

Overall, I really enjoyed this class. I enjoyed basically every topic that we talked about, I liked the projects, the blog posts have caused my writing skills to improve. I can’t really think of one thing I didn’t like about this class. Good job Carol!

The Bad Side of Social Media… Well, One of the Bad Sides

Social Media isn’t just sunshine and rainbows. It isn’t just sharing photos and looking at cool cooking videos shot from overhead; sometimes, social media and the Internet in general can hurt people. Going all the way back to the 1990s and even as recent as a few weeks ago, there are several potent examples of how social media and people across the Internet have ruined the lives of individuals.

The first case I want to look at is one that I remember seeing as it unfolded around me. Justine Sacco is the ex-senior director of corporate communications at IAC (a media and internet company) who became the center of an internet witch hunt after she posted a polarizing tweet to her 170 followers before getting on a plane from London to Cape Town, South Africa.Justine Sacco

The response was immediate. As soon as she landed and looked at her phone, she was trending on Twitter, her company had tweeted about her, she had basically become a public icon without even knowing about it. Someone even came to the airport to see her land in order to respond to the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet.

The reason this case is the one that I want to touch on first is because it was the first time I remember a normal person blowing up in this way. Someone who seemed so… common (not in a bad way) basically became a celebrity for something as simple as a tweet. Do I think the tweet was in poor taste? Yes, absolutely. But do I think that it caused her to become, for a day or a week even, the most hated woman in America? Not really.

The next case I wanted to cover was one that my parents actually remember, and by remember I mean that they were paying attention with both eyes open as it literally unfolded around them. That is the case of Monica Lewinsky.

While the initial incident itself was noteworthy with all the backlash it drew towards Lewinsky, I want to comment mostly on her TED Talk and how she prepared for that.

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While I was reading the article, one of the biggest comments that stuck out to me was this one: “Feminists who had stayed silent on the first go-round were suddenly defending her, using terms like ‘slut-shaming’ and ‘media gender bias’ to do it.” That was something I never actually thought about, how some of the people who stand by Lewinsky now were the people who tore her down or stayed silent during her initial thrust into the media spotlight. It made me kind of… sad? I honestly felt bad for her, which I had never done before in all the years I knew her story.

More recently, the last story I want to touch on is about John Higgins, a referee who incited the wrath of Kentucky fans after making some ‘bad calls’ during a NCAA Tournament game.  The instance I want to touch on is how the Kentucky fans found and subsequently destroyed his companies Facebook page, resulting in Higgins being forced to remove the page in its entirety. Not only that, according to ESPN, fans “found his home phone number and it has been “ringing off the hook.” People on the other end of the line have been calling in with death threats towards Higgins, causing him to be panicked over the whole ordeal.” While the coach of Kentucky came out and indirectly tweeted about the ordeal, it did little to reverse the damage that had already occurred around Higgin’s feet.

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All of this begs the question, what does public shaming mean for social media in general? Does it reward people for being horrible, or is it possible for the entire span of content to get more positive? The authors of the stories I touched on earlier had many good points about this, points that made me think about these situations more. The first one came from the author of the Justine Sacco story, Jon Ronson, who talked about how these public shaming campaigns have become much more prevalent it seems like in the recent past. He wrote:

“As time passed, I watched these shame campaigns multiply, to the point that they targeted not just powerful institutions and public figures but really anyone perceived to have done something offensive… It almost felt as if shaming were now happening for their own sake, as if they were following a script.”

Social media as a whole is built, at least in some aspect, on public shaming. This is because, as Ronson says, “Social media is so perfectly designed to manipulate our desire for approval.” People love to see other people fail, and as horrible as that sounds, basically anyone can relate to this. Remember that show America’s Funniest Home Videos? You can’t tell me you didn’t laugh every time someone faceplanted into a tree or fell off a chair, no matter how embarrassing the situation was for the individual in the video. Web sites and social media take that feeling and twist it into a different type of ‘laughter’. To quote Jessica Bennett, the author of the New York Times piece about Monica Lewinsky, “…shame and humiliation have become a kind of ‘commodity’ in our culture- with websites that thrive on it, industries created out of it, and people who get paid to clean up the mess.”

Do I think social media needs to become a more compassionate place? Yes. Do I think it will happen? That’s a completely different issue. With how much people love to watch these types of situations unfold around them over Twitter and the like, I don’t think that they will ever really stop. They should, especially because these types of things can have lasting negative effects on the individuals who, most of the time, just made a simple ill-timed mistake ( a great example is Lewinsky who still suffers from PTSD from various aspects of the Clinton scandal or how Sacco couldn’t get a new job for so long after her ordeal, only to get critized yet again when she finally did.)

Public shaming is not a good part of the social media culture. However, as much as it pains me to admit it, it is very much a part of that culture, and I don’t know how much we can do as a society to change that. I don’t think there is a person on the internet who didn’t wish, at least in some part, that public shaming would go away, but because of how popular the fall out usually is, I doubt it ever will.

Woof. Meow. Tweet… but not the way you think

In my experience, non-profit organizations don’t tend to have the best social media presence. It’s not that they don’t try, it just always seems like they don’t reach the audience they are trying to with what they post. The Nebraska Humane Society, however, seems to have found its niche. Over the variety of platforms it finds itself on (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat) it seems to reach exactly who it is targeting and does it in just the right way.

Take their Twitter account for instance. They post things that come across with much more humor and ‘sass’ than anything they post on their Facebook because the audience they draw is different between the two sites. The demographic of people who use Twitter is much younger than those who use Facebook (see here) so the ability for that humor to come across better on Twitter is definitely there. Elizabeth Hilpipre, a Development and Communication Specialist at the Nebraska Humane Society, knows this and plans her Social Media Strategy around this information.

She also uses the analytics given to her across the various social media sites in order to tailor what she posts and what she promotes. Facebook rewards you if something you promote does better, and what I mean by rewarding you is that say you promote a post about older cats and it does well. If that happens then other posts that you posted about older cats will show up more on people’s timelines. This has helped them in the past because prior to promoting these posts, things shared about older cats and dogs did not do well. Since they learned about the rewards and have begun promoting them, they have done much better.

Another social media account that the Humane Society uses to their advantage in Snapchat. They aim their content at younger individuals (think preteen), and, apparently, they do it very well. Of the last several animals they have posted on their social media accounts, all of them have been adopted! Also, when she posted about needing camp counselors for their summer camp, she ended up needing to take down the applications because she got too many people wanting to apply. If that isn’t showing that they are using the account to their advantage, and using it well, I don’t know what is.

Now, there was one topic that Elizabeth talked about that I really enjoyed, and that was those stories that go viral. She did say that these stories don’t happen very often, but when they do they are very special. My personal favorite that she talked about was the sheep wearing the Christmas sweater.

UnknownAs you can see in the image above, there was a sheep that was wondering around Omaha in this Christmas sweater and they posted a picture of the sheep on their Twitter and Facebook. This post got picked up by EVERYONE! I’m talking New York Daily News, Gawker, Buzzfeed, Times, just to name a few. There was a point where Elizabeth was on the phone with Time while her boss was on the phone with CNN, which I thought was very cool. The sheep was eventually reunited with its owner, but the very fact that it turned into such a media spectacle was so cool to me.

Overall, I really liked the presentation from the Humane Society. I learned more about how organizations use metrics in a real world scenario as well as finding a nonprofit with a social media presence that I actually enjoy. I’m not saying all nonprofits have bad social media presences, I’m just saying the Nebraska Humane Society does social media really well. They have the perfect blend of humor, information, and cute pictures. And I don’t think there is a person on this planet who hates puppies and kittens.kitten and puppy sleeping