No Charlie, You’re Losing

Charlie Sheen claims that he is “Bi-winning”, whatever that means.  In reality, he is not winning in any sense of the word, and he is seriously losing a positive image in the public light.  It is not secret to America that Sheen has gone off the deep end.  Check out this interview Sheen did with ABC, which received over 11 million views.

Did he really say that his brain isn’t from this particular terrestrial realm? Yes, and he desperately need a Public Relations agent to step in to save any chance of him regaining a positive image to the public.  Sheen was the star of “Two and a Half Men,” the hit CBS comedy that pulled the plug on this season’s production because of his “statements, conduct, and condition.  The show’s creator, Chuck Lorre accused Sheen of having reckless sex and a drug problem.  Sheen said he is 100 percent clean and plans to show up for work despite the cancelling of the show.  Sheen then accepted many interviews to address the harsh allegations, which quickly spread all over the media.  He answered his interview questions in a confusing and extremely defensive manner, leaving America questioning anything he now says.  Check out this article to learn more about Sheen’s media madness.

My P.R. Campaign

As Sheen’s Public Relations agent, I would begin by making Sheen take a test to figure out if he is in fact sober from drugs, and then make this medically credible test public to the media.  This could possibly backfire if he is lying about being sober; in that case, I would send him to rehab immediately.  Following the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Code of Ethics, I would not lie if Sheen were not sober.  I would hold a press conference with news mediums, and tell them the true results of his drug tests.  This would help to establish the public’s view of Sheen as an honest person, and validate my personal responsibility and fairness to the public.

After making sure Sheen is clean of all drugs, I would then proceed to make his image positive in the public eye.  As Sheen already has the paparazzi following him whenever he steps out of the house, I would make sure that always looked presentable when in public.  I would have him take his children to the park, establishing an image that Sheen is a responsible family man.  This could be risky in that Sheen has had a past in being irresponsible with his children.  He would be required to take family living classes, as well as anger management, in order to provide his children with a safe environment that the public would recognize.

Finally, I would push this campaign further and have Sheen collaborate with an author to write a book.  This book would be an accurate account of Sheen’s troubled life, with much exaggeration on his turning a new leaf.  I would stage a pseudo-event, in which I would have Sheen read part of his book at the book’s release, and advise him to become emotional.  This would capture the audience’s hearts, as well as push them to buy the book.  This book would backfire if the public does not feel compelled to buy the book, or the book receives bad reviews.

My campaign would uphold all of the PRSA ethics, as well reshape Sheen’s negative image into a positive one.  This would aid him in his relationship with the public, his career, and possibly even result in “Two and a Half” men re-airing.

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Transformers- Products Far From Disguised

The box-office hit, Transformers, came out with the sequel movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, in 2009.    The movie is a science fiction action film directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Speilberg.  The plot revolves around Sam Witwicky, a human caught between a world of two robot entities, the Autobots and Decepticons.  Sam and the Autobots are being hunted by the Decepticons, who seek to destroy the Sun and all life on Earth.

The General Motors vehicle main characters in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

The movie demonstrated an unprecedented display of product placement, specifically making General Motors automobiles the main characters.  What is product placement? The process by which manufacturers or advertisers pay a fee in order for branded products to be prominently displayed in a movie, TV show or other media production.  Brands were laced throughout the movie including CNN, Mountain Dew, EBay, Southwest Airlines, Air France, McDonalds, Smartwater, Volvo, LG, Cisco, and Apple.  Check out this link to see some visuals of the product placement.

General Motors (GM) clearly stuck straight out to the audience, which was no mistake.  The director, Bay, went to every major auto manufacturer with a studio contract to see who would offer the biggest payday.  He signed with GM after they offer $3million.

The GM rival Ford Mustang, which played the "bad guy".

Auto manufacture GM cashed in on the popularity of the film since four models of the company’s vehicles have starring roles in the film.  The roles of the GM vehicles are where the product placement became more interesting and innovative.  GM did not want their vehicles to play the role of the “bad” Decepticons, so instead the Decepticon transforms into a cop car with the body of the GM Camaro’s market rival, the Ford Mustang.

Another example of GM product placement is when a points out how the character, Bumblebee, is just a stinky old Camaro, he zips away and returns … as a brand new 2009 model.  This is practically a commercial for GM inside of a movie.  Are you getting the message?  The 2009 model will be way better than even the classic Camaros.  That Chevrolet logo is right in the audiences faces throughout the entire movie.

Check out the trailer: 

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Extremely Entertaining and Incredibly Inspiring

Last year, my senior year of high school, I took a creative writing class.  I signed up for this class to merely fill a credit, knowing that I enjoyed writing.  Little did I know, an entire new world of creativity and expression would ensue.   My creative writing teacher, the graceful and intellectual Mrs. Allen, recognized my passion for the class, and gave me the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, as a graduation present.  Inside the novel was a note that said “Julia- Read this, it is one of my favorites, and let it inspire you to write more”.  And that is exactly what I did.

Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote the novel in 2005.  Its main character was Oskar Schell, an intellectual and eccentric nine-year old child of Manhattan progressives.  The novel also has two other narrators, the grandparents of Oskar.  Two years before the story begins, Oskar’s father was killed in the 9/11 attacks on America.  Oskar, curious and naive, believes that his father has left behind a key in which he needs to find its lock.  He begins a peculiar journey all over Manhattan, and meets many intriguing characters on the way.

The story is beautifully written as a graphic novel, with frequent pictures in each chapter.  Normally, I would not pick a graphic novel off of the shelves in Barnes and Noble, however I found that the pictures in this story tied every loose end together.  The creative and visually stimulating way Foer composed this story makes me want to get down on my knees and bow to him.  As a creative writer myself, the story inspired me to delve deeper into human emotions, to write pieces which resonate with any emotional person.

Today, I have read the story two more times, and will continue to pick up this gem when I need a little inspiration.  My current copy of the book is filled with underlines and highlighted excerpts of my favorite lines.  I always jump on the opportunity to talk about this story with anyone who has read it- I even made my best friend read it so I could hear her opinions.  This book captured my feelings and emotions that I feel and put them into words, which help me, better understand myself.  “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” This quote stuck a chord in me, and taught me to take risks and chances even though they may not turn out the way I want.  This book is that powerful.  I bet you can find a quote from this story that will resonate with you.

Check out this review by the New York Times, Walter Kirn, if you aren’t convinced to read this story yet!

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Disney Domination

Once upon a time… I was a Disney girl, and when I wished upon a star anything my heart desired came to me.  Ever since 1928 when the ubiquitous character Mickey Mouse was created, the Disney brand literally branded our culture.

We are all familiar with the Disney movies we grew up loving to watch, but many people don’t realize how many markets Disney has it’s white Mickey Mouse gloves in.  Ownership is what makes a media conglomerate, and cross-ownership is something Disney knows all about.  Disney is one of the largest global media conglomerates.  Check out this article from the Columbia Journalism Review to see the staggering amount of Disney’s ownership.

A mosaic of Disney owned logos

Have you ever been to Disney World or Disneyland?  Think about what you are consuming while inside of these parks.  You are drinking Coca-Cola products, right?  This is cross-promotion between two huge media conglomerates, Disney Company and Coca-Cola Corporation.  Cross promotion is one of the components of synergy, which is an argument to the critics of conglomerates.

Cross production is another aspect of synergy, in which Disney argues to its critics.  If a Disney product, such as a film, does well, then Disney makes profit by expanding this product into a variety of products.  For example, after a Disney movie, such as Cars, makes a huge profit, Disney starts producing Cars clothing, bedding, watches, theme-park rides, websites, etc.  This cross production not only benefits Disney, but also the companies selling the Disney merchandise.

Another synergy argument is cross advertising.  In cross advertising, Disney uses its leverage over major advertisers to advertise their brand across different forms of media.  This promotes the Disney brand, as well as provides funds for companies that use indirect payment methods.  For example, a TV station will air a commercial about the Disney Cruise Line, or a bookstore will feature a Disney produced book.  This creates an exclusive business partnership between Disney and its advertisers, forming a barrier to entry.  This forces smaller businesses out of competition with Disney, maintaining its dominance in markets.

The last synergy argument is Blockbusters.  Disney produces numerous Blockbusters, box office hits, every year.  Disney relies on these Blockbusters to generate them huge profits.  This can be risky, but if another Disney product doesn’t generate much profit, their funds are still protected by their Blockbusters.  For example, Disney generates a huge profit from the movie Cars; therefore they are financially comfortable to try selling Car toothbrushes, even if they don’t generate a huge profit.

I do not believe that Disney’s synergy arguments dispute its over-commercialization.  Disney is pervasive.  Its limited competition leaves out variety in what children consume, and thus what parents purchase.  Consumer choice is wary as consumers are controlled by Disney’s power.

Could Disney's extended influence become dangerous?Disney treads a thin line between simply moving across boarders and ensuing cultural imperialism.  Disney exports its values embedded into its products to cultures with different values.  Disneyland in Paris and Hong Kong are examples of Disney impacting other cultures.  For example, in Disney’s animated movie “Robin Hood,” Hood steals from the church and gives to the poor.  In some cultures, it is not admirable to question or steal from the church, no matter how corrupt the church may be.


While Disney is a huge media conglomerate, I feel lucky to say I grew up in a Disney culture.  Disney enforced morals that my family wanted me to learn in a magical and alluring way.  I realize that Disney culture was forced upon me, but I value the good over evil mentality, imagination, and morals that it taught me.  While some negative common trends run through Disney movies, such as stifling gender roles, the company has recently been modeling their themes with more progressive attitudes.  For example, in the 2009 movie,  “The Princess and The Frog”, and black girl was a main character in the movie.  Also in 1998, “Mulan” featured a strong woman who defied gender roles and fought as a man in a war.

People can argue that Disney is a negative force taking over the world, but it will forever be a comforting childhood experience that I hold close to my heart.


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Blog Away, Baby

Blogging is a form of Social Media, and what better topic to blog about than Social Media itself?  I am continually amazed by how quickly Social Media is growing and evolving.  Checking out blogs is an awesome way to stay updated on how Social Media is changing the way we communicate.  How much time a day do you spend aimlessly surfing the Internet?  The next time you have some time to kill, and your fingers are dying to touch that ever-so-comforting keyboard, check out one of these three blogs to get informed on the Social Media phenomenon that you are so hopelessly devoted to.

Blog 1: Brass Stack Thinking

In this insightful blog, Amber Naslund co-author of “The Now Revolution”, gives her

Amber Naslund- Brass Stack Thinking

communications and business strategist two-cents.  She covers 35 categories, located in the right column ranging from self-improvement to productivity, all of which pertaining to Social Media.  The purpose of her blog is to give her professional opinion on what types of Social Media are shaping our society, as well as arming her readers with knowledge on Social Media specifics.  Reading her blog feels like a free Media lesson.  For example, her most current blog post is titled “We’re all Selling Something: Why Labels Matter,” in which she defines vendors and their clever ways of correlating eye-catching labels with high sales.  Her style of blogging is intellectual, but maintains an easy to read conversational tone.  Her audience targets a wide range- from a curious college student, to a professor seeking inspiration, to a business professional.

Blog 2: Logic + Emotion

David Armano, senior VP at Edelman Digital, shares his blog of insights and ideas paired

David Armano- Logic + Emotion

with informative visuals.  In my opinion, these visuals are what make Armano’s blog so effective.  He uses graphs, charts, political cartoons, pictures, and videos, which illustrate his concepts.  His blog is so up-to-date that he even has his Twitter feed updating on the webpage.  He also embeds links frequently throughout his posts to support his claims, making him a credible blogger.  His aim is towards a visual learning audience, whom is already well versed in Social Media functions.  A reader can visit his page to learn about how Twitter is influencing society, or simply what he is doing on the weekends.  He keeps his style casual with personal comments and pictures in a personal diary/media update combination.  This is truly an authentic blog, from an intelligent, yet exciting man.

Blog 3:

Ah, my personal favorite, and apparently many others too.  This blog, by Chris Brogan, was voted Forbes top Social Media blog of 2010.  Brogan is a New York Times bestselling author of “Trust Agents,” who consults and speaks for fortune 100 and 500 companies.  He is also the cofounder of the PodCamp new media conference series, which explores the use of new media community tools to extend and build value.  Needless to say, this guy is rich in Social Media knowledge.  My favoritism towards this blog comes from Brogan’s ingenious way of explaining concepts.  He catches my attention quickly, and then holds it with is effortless analytical insight.  This blog is intended for anyone interested in Social Media, but is particularly aimed to small business owners and solo entrepreneurs.  Brogan’s blog is his personal, yet professional take on how companies are using social media.  He analyzes which tactics are effective, and which are just not working.  He succinctly posts big ideas in a relatively small space, maintaining an easy to comprehend style.

These three blogs differ in their targeted audiences, as well as writing style.  However, each of the blogs maintains a casual conversational tone with their audiences.  These authors’ extensive experience in Social Media, as well as their currently held jobs make them credible sources; perhaps some of the most expert Social Media bloggers out there.

If I continued to blog outside of my Mass Communication 101 class, I would keep a personal diary blog.  This would be most similar to the Logic + Emotion blog, with a description of what I did in a week, as well as pictures I had personally taken.  I would include poetry, and other forms of creative writing, which are currently in my journal.  I would continue my blogging on Tumblr; therefore my targeted audience would be fellow Tumblrs, as well as family and friends.

I view blogging as an endlessly powerful tool.  There is so much power in being able to publish your ideas, which can be accessed by anyone on the Internet.  A blog could be a personal pastime, a career-building tool, an informational source, or a career facilitator.  The next time you are wondering about new social media efforts or concepts, check out Brass Stack Thinking, Logic + Emotion, or to fulfill all your curiosities.


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What Does The Future Hold?


As humans we constantly wonder about the future. What will the weather be like tomorrow?  Where will I be five years from now?  I have been assigned a particularly interesting blog, in which I am to think about what the world will be like in the year 2035, specifically pertaining to media technologies.  With innovations in technology, as well as the way we communicate soaring, our projected world has the possibility to turn into two different extremes.  One possible vision is of a Utopian world, an ideally perfect place.  The extremely contrasted vision is of a bleak world, a world that is out of control and miserable to live in.

Vision 1: Utopia

In this vision the world will work as a perfect society.  Media will be our friends. Information technologies will facilitate in running the world smoothly.  Ignorance will be obsolete.  One of the first things children will learn is how to manipulate technology to keep them informed.  This is one of the key reasons for the Utopia.  People will manipulate technology, not be manipulated by it.

Technological devices will be more portable and affordable.  Everyone will be issued a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) at the time of his or her 10th birthday.  This PDA will be how they communicate directly with government associations.  Free government funded buildings will be established, in which anyone can access a computer simply by scanning a barcode encrypted into their PDA.

Check out this video of the projected Nokia 888, which is how I envision the futuristic model of the PDAs.

Another key to the Utopian world will be the semantic web.  Technology will interact with people, making everyday errands a simple task.  Paying taxes, sending mail, editing papers or letters, building a grocery list, and browsing the web will be made simpler by robots created from semantic web fundamentals.  For example, refrigerators will keep inventory themselves, facilitate their own temperature, and notify you when you are running low on an item.

Advertisements will be multi-dimensional, with alluring visuals, memory rendering smells, and exciting sounds.  Consumers will be engaged in markets such as film, television, and public events, stimulating communication technologies.  Mass communication will be booming, as everyone wants to stay informed and connected.

In this ideal world, information technologies will dramatically improve life.  People will have equal access to technology, therefore social classes will disappear and everyone will value knowledge.

Vision 2: Bleak

Smart robots will become more powerful than humans.

In this bleak World, technology has taken over.  Creativity has been silenced, as we no longer have to think for ourselves.  The government has become a technological powerhouse that knows everything about its citizens.  Privacy is obsolete, as the government monitors all technological use.  The most unnerving part is, our government is comprised of robots.  The semantic web has been achieved, and spiraled out of control.  These robots have no emotion, and therefore do not recognize the misery they have created by taking over.  Robots are being mass-produced by other robots to do any type of job, forcing people into unemployment.  The government is sending people over to live on the moon in an attempt to expand their empire.

Knowledge will no longer be valued, as technology will yield results without any thinking necessary. This article reports how our society today is already noticing the negative effects of the Internet on social skills. By 2035, no one will have enough social skills to interact face to face.

Communication technologies will be censored and run by the government.  Literary journalism will not longer exist, and media will not contain any essence of art.  Advertisements will be unnecessary, as the government will tell people what they need to consume.  Film will lose its glamour and strictly become government propaganda films.  Mass communication will be one-sided, with the government acting as the most severe form of gatekeepers.

The world will even appear dimmer without the lit up advertisements competing to get their business.  There will be nothing to remind people to consume, communicate, or even converse.

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How do you think an 18 year old college student would do without Media for 2 days?

Media withdraw sounds ridiculous, but let me tell you, it became of part of my reality for the past two days. Avoiding media, for me, meant no Blackberry, Facebook, Glee episodes, magazines, or Internet. How did I accomplish this task? By lots of human interaction and studying. Instead of having conversations via Facebook with my friends from high school, I talked incessantly to my roommate. I used the academic search database in Cook library, rather than pulling up a New York Times article. I couldn’t take it so far as to write a letter, instead of send a text message, but you get the idea. And let me tell you, this is no way for a college student to live! Media keep us in the loop! With such efficient technology for media consumption at our disposal, I found it is tremendously difficult to not engage in it.

Could you do without Media for two days, or are you too invested in the Social Media bandwagon?


What did I learn? The society that we live in conditions us to consume media.  Even when we are avoiding media like the plague, it will still be consumed.  I genuinely took on this challenge to avoid media, and I quickly found there was no way to be 100% successful.  Its not like I could blindfold myself to avoid seeing billboards and advertisements.  No matter how we feel about media, they are inevitably in our faces.  I asked my friends if they would be able to go two days without media, and they thought they totally could.  Once I defined media for them as various forms of communication, including their Iphones and Facebook, they quickly took their bold statements back.

The Managing Editor of Forbes Magazine in 2007 agreed to give up his cell phone, blackberry, and Internet for a full week.  He was literally brought to tears by the disconnection he felt by not having these media.  Check out this video to see how long he lasted, and how this challenge quickly turned into an ordeal.

Being without media also had noticeable advantages.  I was able to get my homework done much quicker, due to the fact I had no media distraction.  I went to yoga twice a day instead of once a day.  As I type this blog entry, I also realize how reflecting on the way media affect me changes my attitude towards my media consumption.  Media can be obnoxious and in your face, but it also keeps you connected to the world.  Analyzing my media consumption brings me to the conclusion that Media are essential to my everyday life.  You can’t spell media without “ME” and it is very much a part of me.

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