WordPress: A Pleasant Surprise

Upon hearing we would have to create a blog and create weekly posts in my ACS 213 course, Intro. to Public Relations, I was not only skeptical at how this would aid in my coursework, but also hesitant to put my own thoughts and views out for the world wide web to see. It did not take but 2 weeks for me to realize, thanks to Stacey Howard, an extraordinary PR instructor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, that by writing I was practicing a handful of the core skills needed in the PR and Marketing industry: developing a voice of my own, correct grammar and basic structure for any press release, news story or featured lead.

Scott mentions on page 84 four important uses for blogs when it comes to the PR and Marketing world.

His uses are:

“1. To easily monitor what millions of people are saying about you, the market you sell into, your organization, and its products.

2. To participate in those conversations by commenting on other people’s blogs

3. To work with bloggers who write about your industry, company, or products.

4. To begin to shape those conversations by creating and writing your own blog.”

While I am still new to monitoring and tracking data, I can strongly agree with him that the importance of blogging for any company or personal brand is extremely important.

One of the articles that I found pertaining to this subject addressed 5 major points for people (PR and Marketing professionals, as well as individuals) to blog. These points ranged from personal ownership of your blog, to creating sales leads and flexibility with content and length. This article, written by Mike McGrail for Social Media Today, emphasizes that blogging is not a frivolous waste of time with no return, but rather a platform for transparency and authenticity when reaching potential clients and people of interest. He says, “Creating great content that relates to your business is a natural way to sell.” McGrail sheds a blinding light on the aspect of personal ownership of ones blog and how it differs from Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. He believes that blogging is not only the most flexible way to share content (having the ability to easily change/adjust the content based on viewer response), but to also share personal thoughts and ideas while simultaneously taking personal ownership of those thoughts without filters.

Photo Credit: jmoneyyyyyyy via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jmoneyyyyyyy via Compfight cc

Since navigating WordPress (my social media platform choice for this assignment) for a little under a year, I have discovered tools that I adore and ones that I do not completely understand. I enjoy how many options this site allots for timing of posts, links within the posts, data for who has viewed your posts and how to change the layout of your blog’s home page without getting confusing or overly complicated. I also like the simplicity of the RSS feed and how commenting and interacting with other bloggers is almost encouraged by this simple setup.

Some traits that I do not like, however, are the complicated widgets, how easy it is to get lost when searching for your own home page and the categories of Blogroll and Meta found on my homepage. However, I do feel with some slight dabbling I could discover what these tools are for and utilize them to my advantage.

Scott devotes all of Chapter 5 to this online expression and says that it is best when starting out to read and comment on others blogs prior to jumping in and beginning your own; true for any platform I feel. He says on page 86, “ Leaving comments on someone’s blog is one of the best ways to participate in a conversation. You have the opportunity to offer your viewpoint, adding to the ongoing discussion. However, it takes an understanding of blogs and blogging etiquette to pull it off without sounding like a corporate shill.”

When I first began writing my own blog, my classmates and I were encouraged to read through old blogs that previous students who had taken the same course had written. This helped tremendously! Not only because it was from people who had been in my shoes before, but also because I could get a sense of how a blog flowed, what content read better in the blogosphere and I could begin shaping my own thoughts and ideas at what message I wanted my blog to have and the voice I wanted it to read in.
Another great read that I found pertaining to blogging and the PR and Marketing realm was written by William Arruda for Forbes. The article focused on a new social media tool that I recently joined, LinkedIn. Arruda speaks to the blogging feature found on this site and focuses in on the personal branding aspect of LinkedIn and how PR and Marketing professionals can gain not only attention, but promote professional revenue and clientele.

His advice is to utilize 5 easy steps to maximize the most traffic and gain the greatest results. He advises LinkedIn bloggers to develop a strategy and in doing so focus on one particular topic when it comes to blogging. He says strong brands are known for something, not a plethora of things. He also says to create compelling content that readers will be enthralled to view. Not far from Scott’s advice of creating content-rich

Photo Credit: prvandam via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: prvandam via Compfight cc

sites. Arruda also says, “The research I have read from several different sources indicates that Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday may yield the most views.” He stresses the importance of promoting your blog by linking it to not only the LinkedIn members, but also every platform you take part in. Lastly, he encourages PR and Marketing bloggers to measure their success on this platform by looking at which topics got the most traffic (both in views and comments) and which areas could use improving or discarding.

This endeavor into the world of blogging, RSS feeds and interaction with other bloggers has allowed me to gain an understanding of the many uses of blogging and how it relates to the PR and Marketing field in the importance of online presence, transparency, how relatable a company/brand is and the voice a company wishes to share with consumers. Because I took the leap and explored this new platform, I have not only crafted my personal voice on my own blog, but seen companies succeed at doing the same on theirs and in doing so, generating conversation, business and promoting connections.

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April: The New Hybrid of November and December

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the future. What it has in store, where I’m going and where I’ll be. Not only in a matter of months, but also long-term in years. I’ve caught my daydreams turning into worry-fests and my actual dreams non-existing because I wake up in the middle of the night stressed that I am behind or running late for something in my life.

Photo Credit: pj_vanf via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: pj_vanf via Compfight cc

Do you remember a time in your life when you felt this way? Perhaps it was when you were a student and finals were quickly approaching? This is one of the single most stressful times in a student’s life. They’re not only trying to keep up their weekly routine of work and classes, but also beginning to prepare for the finish line of the academic school year.

It seems like lately the month of April has become the hybrid of November and December. I never remember so much being squeezed into one tiny month. Between student organization meetings, work, gym time (if you’re lucky), group projects and maintaining what social life you have managed to keep up throughout the school year, it’s exhausting! Some days I even forget to stop and eat.

What keeps a student sane through this time? Clarity of their goals and acknowledgment that they are only human and that their best changes day by day. I hold tight in knowing that I’ve come this far and put this much in that the finish line is within reach and I’m capable of crossing it in stride. I find comfort in peaceful silences throughout the day and find myself re-grouping at different points in the day to give my self the satisfaction of checking off completed tasks and prioritizing upcoming ones.

I put my sanity at the top of the list each day and find comfort in unexpected laughter and welcoming conversations. I never forget that through this crazy time of finals, and wrapping up an academic year, that I have learned so much and gotten the chance to experience and exercise so many new found talents that I’ve already taken a final in a sense.

The Dalai Lama once said, “Remember that great love and great achievement involve great risk.” So, go ahead and take risks! No matter the stress or success or even non-success (failure means you learned nothing – non-success means you still took away something) you tried and gained a new experience!

Cheers to a happy finals week my fellow classmates!

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R316, R44 & R68: Illuminating Movement

“R316, R44 &R68,” these were the terms I was faced with this past Monday upon agreeing to help with a student dance concert on SIUE’s campus. While I have an extensive theater background, it has always been either on stage or as a choreographer – never as a lighting technician. Nonetheless, I enjoy a new challenge and quickly learned that the trauma of combining letters and numbers in an algebraic way is much less painful in a theatre setting than it is a classroom.

"Anak Tangga" by Sterling Allen.

“Anak Tangga” by Sterling Allen.

Each letter corresponds with a special number and each number has slot on a freestanding lighting rig that consists of two spotlights on top and bottom with one in the middle. Sound confusing? Imagine my thoughts the first night on the job with only two rehearsals ‘till opening night.

After learning the ropes, I quickly realized that much like a good algebra problem, there is a solution to getting the letters and numbers to work in your favor.

Each dance number has a different lighting change for all 3 rows of lights. While confusing at times, it’s completely doable. I quickly learned that the best way to stay on top of the correct lighting changes is to hold the next numbers (dance routine) gels (different color films that go inside the lights to make them change) in descending order between my fingers while the routine before that is still on stage. This not only gives me time to collect the correct combination of gels, but also allows me a second to collect myself and make sure my colors are correctly corresponding to the master setlist.

My view of the show.

My view of the show.

This experience has taught me that my love and passion for theatre burns strong. While only having the experience as an actor and choreographer under my belt, this new realm with lighting has helped me gain a better understanding and genuine appreciation for the tech people who often times are taken for granted. I’ve realized that while the audience may only be seeing one performance on stage, the lighting, sound and prop masters are putting one on as well simultaneously behind the scenes to ensure a great show.

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Beyond the Birthday

This past weekend my mother celebrated her 53rd birthday with my sister and me. It was filled with great food, lots of laughter, Easter treats and unforgettable memories. In the weeks leading up to her big day, my sister and I sorted out ideas and helped each other come up with the perfect plan. Since my mother’s birthday fell on Easter Sunday, my sister and I decided to celebrate this momentous occasion on Saturday instead.

My mom, sister and I at mom's birthday dinner!

My mom, sister and I at mom’s birthday dinner!

Upon mom’s request, we planned out an evening at the Centralia House; a local restaurant in town. We arranged for a spring floral arrangement to be waiting at our table with hues of green in it – since that is her favorite color.  After dinner, we planned a fun evening at home since mom doesn’t like to stay out too long. We watched Hop on ABC Family and Mirror Mirror as well as made Easter treats for the following day.

Mom kept telling my sister and me how wonderful her birthday was all night and how much she loved us. She, as usual, never let the attention stay on her for too long; even though it was HER birthday! My sister and I fought this all evening and made sure the attention stayed on her and that she felt special the whole night.

One of my favorite pictures of the three of us!

One of my favorite pictures of the three of us!

Something that I will never forget is the warmth in her heart she had just for spending time with us. With me moved away for school and my younger sister having a never ending list of activities, our family rarely sits down to eat together let alone go out to eat, watch two movies and make Easter treats. Mom was more touched that we were all under one roof and spent one night with one another than she was about it being her birthday.

birthday and the pomp and circumstance that came along with it. She is an incredible woman who never ceases to amaze me with the love in her heart, her appreciation for detail and the comfort she finds in the smallest moments life has to offer.

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12 Things Truly Confident People Do Differently by Dr. Travis Bradberry

12 Things Truly Confident People Do Differently

Confidence takes many forms, from the arrogance of Floyd Mayweather to the quiet self-assurance of Jane Goodall. True confidence—as opposed to the false confidence people project to mask their insecurities—has a look all its own.

When it comes to confidence, one thing is certain: truly confident people always have the upper hand over the doubtful and the skittish because they inspire others and they make things happen.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right. – Henry Ford

Ford’s notion that your mentality has a powerful effect on your ability to succeed is manifest in the results of a recent study at the University of Melbourne that showed that confident people went on to earn higher wages and get promoted more quickly than anyone else.

Learning to be confident is clearly important, but what is it that truly confident people do that sets them apart from everyone…

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Pouncin’ into CHS

People always say that kids grow up “in the blink of an eye.” When I was younger I never believed this, probably because I wasn’t seeing my own self grow up so quickly. However, I’ve gotten to see this expression stand true time-and-time again with my younger sister, Abby. She will be 14 this May and will also be graduating the 8th grade, so she is obviously way too cool for life and doesn’t look up from her multiple gadgets unless demanded to. I’m just teasing, she’s actually quit humble and well mannered. Our mom raised us right and to always be thankful for what we have and work for what we want (and for her, that is more cell phone time).IMG_2031

I found myself calling my mom a couple weeks back and talking about the graduation and getting the wheels rolling on when it was, so I could ask off work, and if we were doing anything special. After brainstorming for a couple of minutes with her it hit me, “We should throw her a graduation party!” My mom on the other end of the phone got quiet and I could tell she wasn’t completely on board. She hates get-togethers at our house and always gets nervous in the weeks and hours leading up to the event. After sweet-talking her and assuring her I would do most of the planning and execution, she agreed to have the party!

Mom and I sat Abby down a few days after a decision had been reached and asked if it was something she would want and she said yes! I even talked mom into an adult party for the close family friends and relatives and then a sleepover for just Abby’s junior high friends! How I did that I will never know.

After getting the green light from Abby, the planning in my mind began going crazy! I realize it’s only March, but I want this graduation party to be something she remembers forever and I don’t want to overlook anything. This is her night and if I, her big brother, can play any part at all in making it memorable I will. The school colors for her junior high are deep purple and white with sometimes black, so the color theme for the party is set. Her mascot is a tiger (another intricate part of the theme) and her favorite cake is ice cream and vanilla.

Upon getting the thumbs up from everyone, I immediately ran to the nearest party supply store and began to stock up on cups, utensils, plates, napkins and anything else that would match our purple/white/black tiger theme. I even took some purple items back because the color was too off from the school color and I ended up finding an exact match at a different supply store. Remember, love is in the details.

My sister and I at Cinderella a couple weeks ago.

My sister and I at Cinderella a couple weeks ago.

The next step is getting quotes on cakes, cupcakes and light refreshments and preparing the invitations. I love my little sister and couldn’t be more proud of her and this incredible accomplishment! You only graduate junior high once and I’m going to make sure she does it in unforgettable style and fun. The theme for the party? Pouncin’ into CHS! The “pouncing’” part comes from her tiger mascot and the “CHS” is the abbreviation for our township high school. Yet just another cute touch for this tigeriffic 8th grade graduation bash!

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A House of Many Colors

Have you ever stopped and thought about your house as a home? A place where countless memories are made, loving relationships are fostered and chapters upon chapters of our personal stories are written. When it comes down to it though, the difference between a house and home is simple; one is constructed of wood, drywall and nails while the other is built with trust, enduring love and open doors that lead to wide open hearts.

Photo Credit: stefanie says via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: stefanie says via Compfight cc

This concept may not be an easy one to wrap your head around, but once you do, the appreciation for the four walls, floor and roof over your head may go a tad bit further than face value. If you pause to think about it, how many countless memories are connected with your home? For most of us so many firsts take place in our homes: first bath, first steps, first words, first laugh and first tooth. Then eventually us going off to Pre-K for the first day, learning how to play basketball or ride a bike for the first time and even maybe our first kiss (if we are lucky).

All of these beautiful moments happen inside four walls held up by basic building materials, but it is up to us to create walls help up by watchful protection, floors held down by safety nets for when we fall and nails that resemble pillars of strength between a family. As we grow older, the home we shared so many firsts in begins to shift ever so slightly into a place of goodbyes, as we pack our belongings and move out for the first time.

Photo Credit: Mylla via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Mylla via Compfight cc

I have come to discover it is then that we truly learn the real value of a home not by its market value, but rather by the overflowing emotions, energy and people that fill its core. You learn that where you lived, the house that was a home, was a place of safety, comfort and unwavering warmth. Why do you think they say “there is no place like home?” Because, there truly isn’t. So think about that next time you head home, whether it’s from school, work or far far way. And remember, a house is built with supplies from Home Depot, but a home is built with materials of the heart, soul and mind.

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