What in Procrastination

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The ongoing Twitter trend of the past month has been creating various versions of the phrase ‘what in tarnation.’ As a student at a fairly conservative university, whose chapel theme for the semester is reconciliation, I chuckle at the amount of retweets the kid who posted ‘what in reconciliation’ over our chaplains photo received.

Now, my post tonight is not so much about Twitter, my college, or even what tarnation really means. Tonight, as I am under a time crunch to finish writing, I want to talk about procrastination (fitting, right?). Whether you are a college student like me or out in the real world, we all can relate to being under pressure or racing against the clock to finish a project or task.

If I said I am one of those students who finishes all of her homework ahead of time, I would be telling the lie of all lies. I have to explain, though, that I would love to be that student who is stress free because they are done with tasks in advance. Unfortunately I have mastered the art of procrastination.

As a student will many responsibilities, I feel as though I am hustling to finish one task after another by deadlines each day. I had the feeling this would change after my crazy student lifestyle was over, but my elders have assured me this simply isn’t the case, and sometimes the craziest may even get worse, especially is children are added to the mix.

I must secretly enjoy the adrenaline rush which comes along with getting things done right on time because I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it. Even if I had more than enough time to finish something, I would find other tasks to complete to postpone the one item I am being forced to complete due to time. This makes me reflect back to a time as a freshmen when I wasted approximately three hours watching YouTube videos of people falling before writing a paper due the next day.

As a student and professional, we are going to be faced with deadlines; there is no avoiding them. I choose today to stop being the one who turns in the assignment at 11:58, when it’s due at 11:59. I choose today to stop wasting time thinking about how long a task is going to take to complete, when I could have completed it in the time I took to think about how long it was going to take. I choose today to lower my blood pressure by attempting to finish assignments/projects in advance. Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger, and this body won’t be able to take this type of stress for too much longer.

In PR specifically, time is an asset and a threat to an organization’s reputation. If feedback isn’t given immediately after a crisis, business leaders can kiss their positive reputation goodbye. When the opposite happens, timely feedback, quickly issued apologies, or early information releases could be the breaking point for reputaion redemption.

Choose TODAY to become unfamiliar with the term procrastination. Choose today to retire from being the adrenaline junkie of your school or workplace. Become the person who calls out other procrastinators and offer them a better way of living. Become the first one to call out a friend with the phrase ‘what i procrastination.’ You will be respected.

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Infographic Analyses

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Story 1: Bankers Call for Wider Measures to Stem Crisis

In a New York Times article, by Jack Ewing, it was stated that “through emergency lending to commercial banks or large purchases of government bonds, central banks in the United States, Europe, and other developed countries have more than doubled the money that they have at risk in the last decade; the sum equals about 30 percent of global economic output, or $18 trillion.”

For this article, I was confused as to how the information was flowing and what the purpose of the article was. I started thinking about ways in which the information could be grouped together to better separate ideas and solutions.

I believe an instructive graphic would work best for the article, in both print and online formats. The top of the infographic would feature the first quote I mentioned, highlighting the problem of the world banking systems.

The middle section of the infographic would feature the steps to improving world banking system relations and prevention of future debts. The first step would focus on the banks, making sure they are solid and not putting weights on sovereigns. The banks should be “able to support real economic activity.”

Arrows would be placed in between the steps, with the final step being “a Pan-European financial market and a Pan-European central bank require a Pan-European banking system.”

The last section of the instructive infographic would include the statement “at its root the European crisis is a potential harbinger, a virulent and advanced convergence of the problem to be expected elsewhere if policy fails to break the vicious cycles generated by global weaknesses.”

Story 2: Heart Device Might be Useless for Women

An ABC News article by Peggy Peck in 2009 discussed the issue with heart devices being unnecessarily implanted in women. These devices, as Peck stated, are “implantable cardioverter defibrillators or ICDs, used to prevent sudden cardiac death in patients with advanced heart failure. The purpose of ICDs is to regulate the pumping of blood, a process damaged by heart attacks or heart disease in both men and women.

As I was reading this story, I did not think that an infographic could be created to retell the story or focus on one main point within it. By the end, however, I realized that I would have understood the story much better if one was embedded to use as a reference of information.

I think a data visualization graphic could work best for this story, as many bits of information were heavily research based and included statistics. I would focus on the disparity of studies highlighting women with heart issues rather than men. These studies are obviously needed, since so many women have be unnecessarily implanted with ICDs.

The top of my infographic would layout the definition of an ICD and what it is used for. The middle would contain various men and women figures filled, based on percentages, of statistical information, such as “8.6 of every 1,000 women who meet criteria for ICD for primary prevention of sudden cardiac death receive a device within a year of diagnosis versus 32.3 of every 1,000 men with the same diagnosis,” as Peck mentioned.

The last section of the infographic would have various ratio visualizations of information such as “one would need to treat 40 women with ICDs to save a single life, versus treating 12 men with ICDs to save a life.”

This type of infographic could be used for both print and online purposes, but it would be more interesting for hovering statistics to appear in the online format.

Grammar Checks

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Think back to a time, possibly even earlier today, when you were scrolling through social media and instantly became the grammar police. You happen to see a friend has misused a version of the words ‘to,’ ‘too,’ and ‘two.’ Perhaps you are similar to myself and feel the urge to correct the friend, much like an English teacher, who doesn’t exactly have any credentials.

My absolute favorite grammar mistake to correct my friends and family on is the difference between ‘their,’ ‘there,’ and ‘they’re,’ and I experience almost as much satisfaction from expressing which ‘it’s’ or ‘its’ to use. TWO (not too) types of people exist in this world, those who love grammar and those who despise the rules.

Growing up, I loved grammar so much that I actually wanted to become an English teacher, simply in order to correct people who misuse words. My skin crawls when I see incorrect grammar, and I truly believe in the importance of learning about the rules grammar entails.

What does my grammar rant have to do with public relations? As a way to improve professionalism in Olivet’s student-run PR firm, Inspired Strategies Agency, a presentation was given on common grammar mistakes and myths. No matter how proficient you think you are in grammatical accuracy, I would be willing to bet on the fact that you have been making a mistake of some kind.

I realized a few technicalities of grammar during this presentation that I had never thought of previously. Here are some of my favorites:

  • That vs Which

That is a restrictive pronoun, which means the information connected to it is essential and is not set off by a comma.

            The books that were in the basement were ruined by the flood.

Which is a nonrestrictive pronoun, so that means that it carries nonessential information and requires a comma.

            The books, which were in the basement, were ruined by the flood.

  • RAVEN: Remember, Affect is a Verb, and Effect is a Noun.

The clothes were affected by the dye.

The medicine caused negative effects on the patient. 

  • Who vs Whom

Try asking or answering a question to determine which word to use, and then replacing the pronoun with he, she, him, or her to see what makes sense.

Replace: he, she, they

Who made the cat-shaped pancakes?

She made the cat-shaped pancakes.

Replace: him, her, them

The cat-shaped pancakes were made by whom?

The pancakes were made by her.

Grammar mistakes are a sign of carelessness, a characteristic no PR professional wants to be associated with. Because of the many statements, press releases, and other publicized information PR departments disperse, all employees in the field should be well trained in typical grammatical  errors.

I was put in my place by the recent presentation I was given on grammar, and I appreciate the fact that I was called out on my mistakes. In order to become an exceptional PR professional, one must admit their mistakes and learn from them. Now it’s your turn to check yourself.

Infographic Types

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The Multimedia Journalist, a text by Jenniffer George-Palilonis, discusses various aspects of multimedia storytelling and how important multimedia is in our society today. I have recently been learning about information graphics, or ‘infographics’ as most people call them.

According to George-Palilonis, there are five types of information graphics, which are leveraged by professionals today; they include Instructives, Narratives, Simulations, Journalistic Games, and Data Visualizations. I have found a few examples of some of these types and will discuss why they are categorized in this manner.

Instructive (M&M’s)

Instructive M&M

This M&M graphic is categorized as an instructive because of the details included about how M&M’s are produced and packaged. The sequential steps clearly identified are a sure sign of an instructive property, as well as the presence of both visual and textual elements. A person is guided from the initial molding process to the very last step of an individual buying the candy. The title of each step is explained more thoroughly by the addition of an image depicting the action being taken. I did not have a clue what panning was, but the descriptive text along with the image allowed me to understand the process. Viewers have the opportunity to control the pace at which the information on the graphic is consumed. Instructive graphics are a great asset for professionals in need of a logical promotion but have limited resources to produce it. I learned more than I thought I would from this simple and easy to understand infographic.

Simulation (Blood Typing Game)

Blood Typing

This Blood Typing simulation is highly immersive for viewers and models the real-world equivalent process of testing blood types. In the simulation an individual is allowed to pick a patient, take the patient’s blood, and then test the blood for a successful blood transfusion. Now, I am not exactly a doctor, but I saved my patient’s life, while learning about blood types and matches. The reason why this concept works as a simulation more than an instructive is because of the multiple ‘if, then’ scenarios involved in blood typing. The consumer is in control of either saving or killing his or her patient through either careful consideration of options or lack of attention to detail.

Data Visualization (Music Genres)

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The music genre data visualization infographic above displays the amount of plays a radio station conducted of specific artists and music genres. This is one of the more interesting types of this category of infographic that I could find. Data visualization graphics use unique, creative designs, which turn data into descriptive art. The audience must always be kept in mind when creating data visualization graphics. For example, older generations may find this graphic confusing and hard to understand the purpose. As for me, I was attracted to the unique design at first, but then was pulled into consuming the information, which is the purpose of data visualization graphics.

Negative Buzz

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What’s all the buzz about? If you haven’t heard the phrase before, then you quite possibly do not have cool parents such as my mother who frequents the five words. While I may not like to discuss what has been going on in my life with many people, I can always come to my mom, the one who tries to keep up with my life, with anything and receive advice.

General Mills could be served in following a philosophy such as mine, which is seeking advice before acting on a decision. The company recently went through a bit of a PR crisis, which possibly could have been avoided, in relation to their Honey Nut Cheerio cereal, a fan favorite if I do say so myself.

The organization launched their #BringBackTheBees campaign as an awareness strategy to save the honey bee. Alex Slater, author of an article, which discussed the issues the public had with the organization and this particular campaign, discussed the positive and negative behavior the company exuded as well as the negative buzz created by the public.

General Mills, as a way to #BringBackTheBees, distributed free seed packets across the country to help with the presence of honey bees in certain areas. The company’s PR professionals had quite a bit on their plate after some ecologists claimed the types of flower seeds sent out were invasive and possibly illegal in some states.

Just as any experienced PR professional would do, General Mills’ team headed straight to social media to reply to outraged customers with assurance that the seeds were approved by federal organizations. The Honey Nut Cheerio “crisis” was lessened by the quick responses, and the company avoided a major public reputation crusher.

Whether the seeds were really approved or the company made the claim up to save face, we may never know. I have realized just how important research is in the PR world because if you are making a statement or acting on a flawed foundation of ideas, the public will find out and quite possibly roast your organization alive. I have also learned a quick, apologetic, and accurate response to criticism may be the difference between a reputation save or reputation death.

BBC Interview PR Lessons

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Last week, as I was home for the last few days of my spring break, I shared some laughs with my mom as she made dinner. These laughs were not the common chuckles, but rather the laugh-so-hard-your-stomach-hurts laughs, which make you nervous your mouth might actually stay in the smiling position forever. I can attribute this special moment to a gentleman whose BBC Interview did not quite go the way he had planned.

I noticed the video of Professor Robert Kelly on Facebook, as it became a viral sensation quickly after the interview occurred. After watching the video of Kelly trying to keep a straight face as his children burst through the door and his wife tried to sneakily gather them and get them out of the room, I couldn’t help but share it on Facebook. The rest of the world needed to have the same painful laugh, which I had just experienced.

In a PR Daily article, by Cameron Craig, he compiles a few tips for PR professionals and their clients based on the BBC interview fiasco because life is unavoidably messy at times. Those in the PR field are trained to clean up those messes. His advice includes, but is not limited to:

1. Prepare –  One can never know when things aren’t going to go as planned. The only way to minimize the damages of unexpected scenarios is preparing for as many outcomes as possible. This also means going through each scenario to establish the best action/approach to an “unexpected” issue.

2. Mask the Nerves – While Professor Kelly hid the embarrassment from showing on his face, people can feel it as they view the video. My mind flooded with what I would choose to do in that situation, and, as a person who cannot hide emotions from her face, I became nervous for Kelly. Masking nervous nonverbals in this type of scenario will make you seem more in control of uncontrollable moments. Eye contact is the best way to ensure the purpose of a communication exchange is not lost.

3. Roll with the Punches – No one likes to be in an awkward situation. Professor Kelly played off the disturbance of his wife and children with apologies and a chuckle and moved on with his answer in the interview, which was probably the best he could do. PR professionals will find it in their clients’ best interests to warn them of an interviewer’s personality and questioning style, specifically if they are able to play off awkwardness.

4. Don’t Overreact – While Professor Kelly’s interview seemed to get out of hand, it was not the worst that could have happened. It is important to always keep the situation in perspective and focus on the positives. The interview video went viral, and now Kelly is famous, not a bad turn out if you ask me!

 

Professor Kelly’s interview was a mild situation as far as fails go, but the remnants of the video will be around for quite awhile on social media. PR professionals benefit from these types of problems, as it teaches them to always prepare for the unexpected and have plans in place when thing go of course.