Archive for April 2011

I am done with school!


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I just got my final grade for my Communications Studies Capstone Course. I got an A! The instructor was very impressed with this blog. I am so grateful for my time at Ashford University and I am very proud of graduating with a 4.0.

Look out for my exciting stuff with this blog. I plan on taking it to the next level.

Professional Communication Organizations


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There are many organizations available for Communication Professionals to join. Some organizations focus on those who teach communication theories, others are centered on different industries in the communication field such as Public Relations or Journalism. I have selected five organizations that are available for professionals, which work with communications, to join. After I a little information about each organization I explain if I would join the group or not:


1. The Broadcast Education Association (BEA) – An association created for “professors, industry professionals and graduate students who are interested in teaching and research related to electronic media and multimedia enterprises” (BEA, 2011, ¶ 1). This group has over 1,600 members and has affiliation with 275 college’s and university departments. This organization is not very attractive to me simply because my focus is not in teaching or doing more research at this time. I am looking for a group of like-minded individuals who are using their passion to work.


2. International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) – This organization has a very large network with members that represent many careers in the field of communications. Individuals who join can use IABC as a resource to make an impact at their job, find hidden job markets, enhance skills, and find clients and friends (IABC, 2011). Because many of the members hold positions that I am interested in pursuing, I believe this organization would be beneficial to join. I also like the international aspect of it, because we are now in a global economy.


3. National Communication Association (NCA) – Is the largest association for communication “researchers, educators, and professionals, [who] work to understand and better all forms of human communication” (NCA, 2011, ¶ 1). Members of this organization have many resources and events that contribute to the education of communication and its benefit to society. I would consider this organization simply because of its great resources for job searching. The website offers tips for interviewing and that only lets me know they are serious about helping communication professionals.


4. Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – This organization describes itself as a “community of more than 21,000 public relations and communications professionals across the United States, from recent college graduates to the leaders of the world’s largest multinational firms” (PRSA, 2011, ¶ 2). The group was created to help those in the PR field with networking, recognition, and other aspects of the industry. What I found interesting about the group has a student subgroup called Public Relations Student Society of America. I really like that they reach out to those learning about PR as well as those work practice it. If I go into the PR field, I am sure I will join this organization.


5. Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) – This organization is based of communication professionals located in the southern states of the US. It is a non-profit organization that has a purpose of promoting “the study, criticism, research, teaching, and application of the artistic, humanistic, and scientific principles of communication” (SSCA, 2011, ¶ 1). This group is not taking members at this time. That is too bad because I live in Tennessee and would like the chance to network with others who live close by.




Reference


BEA. (2011). About Us. Retrieved April 7, 2011 from http://www.beaweb.org/about_us.htm


IABC. (2011). About IABC. Retrieved April 7, 2011 from http://www.iabc.com/about/


NCA. (2011). About NCA. Retrieved April 7, 2011 from http://www.natcom.org/Default.aspx?id=45


PRSA. (2011) About PRSA. Retrieved April 7, 2011 from http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/


SSCA. (2011) About SSCA. Retrieved April 7, 2011 from http://www.ssca.net/about/index.php


Conflict Management: Bullying


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This is an article I was commissioned to write for the website Beautifully Said last week. The webmaster said they were in need of some information about bullies. Using some of the knowledge I gained in my Communication & Conflict course at Ashford University, I put this together. Let me know what you what you think.

Bullying has become a large problem in society. Long gone are the days where a child would be picked on a few times during the day at school. Now because of technology, bullies can attack their victims on social networks, with cell phone text messages, and through email. This can lead to a young person developing low self-esteem issues, as they withdraw from all normal social activities. It is important to tackle the problem of bullying by learning ways to stop the bullying from taken place, making social interaction safe for all children.

To begin to understand how we can tackle this problem we have to understand the different forms of bullying that occur.

The website parentsconnect.com list the following as the type of bullying a child may face:

• Physical bullying
Pushing, shoving, hitting, tripping and other acts, which physically harm another person.

• Verbal bullying
Insults, harassment, taunts and other forms of aggression (expressed verbally or in writing).

• Emotional intimidation or “relational aggression” Withdrawing friendship or rejecting someone in order to assert control over that person.

• Racial bullying
Mocking racial traditions, spray painting racist graffiti, making racial slurs and engaging in other racist behaviors.

• Sexual bullying
Making sexual comments or engaging in unwanted sexual touching.

Physical bullying has been a large problem with pre-teens and teenagers and can often lead to very serious consequence. Take for instance Casey Heynes, a bullying victim from Australia. A recent video of Casey confronting his bully vent viral around the globe:



While Casey had every right to protect himself, it is possible that the damage he could have caused to his bully could have been irreversible. The situation should not have been allowed to escalate to this point, leaving Casey with no choice but to take this level of action. It is imperative that adults recognize when bullying is taking place and do everything in their power to stop it.

It is often discussed how children can deal with bullies. Relying on friends that they can trust is often mentioned. Speaking honestly to adults, they feel comfortable will is known to be helpful. As well as believing and loving themselves, are ways to build self-confidence. Bullies are known to attack weaker and lonelier children, so all that advice can work. Yet it is not address often enough about the source of the problem; the actual bully. Steps must be taken to eliminate the behavior, which is putting the blame not on the victim, but on the perpetrator.

The first step is to accept that a child is being a bully, and then begin to identify what is triggering their negative behavior. It must be made clear that their behavior will not be tolerated and they will have to learn other ways to channel their aggression. At this point, it is best to not use physical punishment, because it will continue the linking of aggression with their actions. This is an appropriate time to take away something important from the child along with a conversation on why this is happening. If they hurt someone or damage property, have them apologize to their victim, it is important for them to understand the pain they have caused. Finally, once they begin to make progress and control their anger, praise them.

As children interact with each other, they begin to learn about how their behavior affects others around them. Those who use aggression and anger to express themselves must be taught quickly that their actions will not be tolerated. Bullies must know that their treatment of their peers can and will lead them to trouble. If all adults in the young person’s life express this with love and understanding, the problem can be conquered at the source.

Public Relations Proposal


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One of my favorite classes at Ashford University was a course titled 'Public Relations Practices & Promotional Writing'. It was there I learned not only how to write press releases, but the basic concepts behind PR. When a public relations professional is contacted to help a potential client in a crisis, they must complete a proposal with their plan intact. This makes the client aware of how the PR rep plans to resolve the issue. The following is an example of just that. 

I was assigned to complete a proposal for a fictional professional athlete who I find my self working for. The athlete is taking heat from the public for allegedly taking illegal substances for performance enhancement. Read the following proposal to see how I would plan on handling the situation:

The Situation

Athlete X is a well-known baseball player who has come under suspicion of using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. At this time there have not been any formal charges towards Athlete X. However, there has been an increase of interest in his activities throughout the media. As this story becomes more popular with the public, the threat of formal accusations is closer to becoming a reality. If this comes to fruition it will cause irreversible damage to his career.

With former baseball player Mark McGwire admitting, “he used steroids for nearly a decade” it has become evident that the use of performance enhancing drugs has been taking place in professional sports for some time (Knoblauch, 2010, ¶2). To save the images of these athletes, public relation (PR) campaigns must be developed. Athlete X’s agent is currently looking for a PR firm to create such a campaign, before his client is formally accused. It is possible that creating a positive public opinion of Athlete X will help him avoid any serious legal matters with this issue.

Athlete X’s agent, in a confidential manner, has made it clear that his client has taken a performance enhancing  substance in the past. He has admitted doing so without any knowledge of it being steroids. This information does not prohibit the creation of a PR campaign to repair X’s public reputation. As recent as July 2009, Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz admitted to having a positive drug test in the past (BBC, 2009, ¶2). Ortiz has acknowledged that he was unaware of what the substance was that entered his body. A year has passed and Ortiz is still playing Major League baseball and his reputation is still intact.

The Need

For an ethical campaign to be developed, X must first publicly admit to unknowingly using a performance enhancing substance. This action will take place in the form of press conference. At said press conference, X will denounce the use of steroids by expressing his extreme distaste for that type of activity. He will then explain that he would never knowingly take any substance that is banned by the MLB or that is considered illegal. The press conference must then end with a series of questions, which X will answer to the best of his ability. It is imperative that this course of action take place, in order for a campaign to be created that is based on information.

Objectives

The campaign will have both informational and motivational objectives. The informational goal will be to disseminate the situation. It is impetrative for the public to view X as a grateful person who would never jeopardize all he has accomplished by doing something illegal. The motivational goal will be to keep X from ever being brought up on formal charges and to continue playing baseball.

Strategies

As Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer Bob Klapisch (2010) recently stated, “Yes, it's true, everyone is suffering from steroids fatigue. No one wants to read about them anymore” (¶5). What the public does want to read about are athletes who appreciate the opportunities that their talent have given them. As well as positive stories portraying the athlete as someone who cares about the less fortunate. A media campaign will be developed to place favorable accounts of the positive actions that Athlete X has and will continue to perform.

Tactics

Initial research will include finding all media stories that involve Athlete X. Any story that is deemed positive will then become talking points whenever X is interviewed. These stories will include any community service that he has performed in the past.

X will then begin to perform new community service programs in two specific places, the city his team plays for and his home town. Community service will be targeted around children and teenagers, to remind the public of his role model status. He will also choose a charity that is of importance to him and volunteer time and money to its cause.

There will then be an attempt to book him to appear on a variety of talk shows. This will begin in the city his team plays for with local radio and television. He will speak of his current charity work and use the interviews as a platform to bring awareness. This pattern will begin in that city but will grow as we begin to request interviews across the nation.

Finally, we will begin a viral campaign of Athlete X performing positive duties that the general public can relate. Because “viral is today's electronic equivalent of old-fashioned word of mouth” creating an online presence will help spread the new positive image of X (Djanseizan, 2005, ¶2). Using social networks like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter can allow X to communicate with fans as well as promote this image. Videos and pictures of X working with his charity, doing community service, and spending time with family and friends, will be uploaded on a regular basis.

Success of Campaign

The campaign to create a positive image of Athlete X will depend on his skill to truly work towards goals that the public respects. This particular athlete must perform these duties to the best of his ability. It is important to remain honest and factual at all times. X, at this point, will remain in the public’s eye through media scrutiny. Now is an opportunity for the media to view him as a person who cares. If followed, the strategy and tactics will lead to a complete image makeover of X and a strong possibility of his remaining in professional baseball.


References

BBC Sports. (2009, July 31). Ortiz admits positive drug test. Retrieved August 8, 2010 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/8177802.stm

Djanseizan, K. (2005, June 22). 'Viral' advertising spreads through marketing plans. Retrieved August 9, 2010 from http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/2005-06-22-viral- usat_x.htm

Klapisch, B. (2010, August 8). View from afar: A-Rod will not escape his past. Retrieved August 9, 2010 from http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10220/1078557-63.stm

Knoblauch, A. (2010, January 11). Mark McGwire admits to using steroids [Updated] Retrieved August 8, 2010 from http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2010/01/mark mcgwire-admits-to-using-steroids.html




What Makes A Good Blog?


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            The term blog is a blending of the words web and log. (Blood, 2010). Posting a log on the World Wide Web became knowing as blogging. The individual who participates in such actions then grew to be known as a blogger. Bloggers post regular entries of observations, depiction of events, as well as videos and images. Some blogs deal with a particular theme, like Hip Hop music or Mexican restaurants, while others are just the random thoughts of the blogger.  As I observed different blogs online, I learned that a blog must look pleasing to the eye, allow visitors to interact with the site, and must have quality content of interest.
            In the Communications Capstone course at Ashford University, my classmates and I have been assigned to create our own blog. The purpose of the blog is to create a compilation of representative work completed throughout the Ashford University Communication program that demonstrates professional achievement. It is an electronic portfolio, which will display what we have learned as students of communication. As we entered the fourth week of class, we were instructed to view three of our fellow student’s blogs and to write a critique of each. This particular assignment gave me an opportunity to view my blog in comparison to others.
            The first blog I reviewed was by classmate Robert Brown and was titled Robert’s Blog with a web address of http://robert-weiser.blogspot.com/. Robert’s blog had a good design that utilizes colors that worked well together. He choose a blue block backdrop for his various posts, with an image of the sky with large white clouds as the background. There was also a great usage of photos to enhance his already well-written blogs. While visually his blog did a lot for me, the site was lacking in content and it did not allow for any interaction besides the option of leaving comments.
            The second blog I viewed was titled Who Knew? Write On Caron created by Caron Carus with a web address of http://writeoncaron.blogspot.com/. Of all the blogs created by my classmates, this was the best looking one.  Caron created her blog with her visitors in mind. She has a YouTube bar that allows those viewing her website to search for videos as well as a feed of CNET stories with relatable topics. Caron designed her blog differently then most by placing her personal information on the bottom of the page, opening up the side of her site for so much more. She also had a more content then the other blogs I viewed, giving me much more to read and enjoy. The only thing she needed improvement was visually how her post looked. She lacked any images inside her blogs to break up the lengthy amount of words. With that simple change, her blog would begin to look very professional.
            The last blog I visited was started by Justin Meeks and goes by the title of NFL and NFLPA Dispute: The Fans Courtroom with a web address of http://nflfanvoices.blogspot.com/. Justin took a unique approach with his blog by focusing his blog on a theme. He choose the topic of the NFL disputes between the players and owners. This blog has the potential to be a popular site to visit if it used correctly.  The idea of using content to attract a particular audience is great idea. Public Relations Specialist Sherrie Bakshi (2011) suggest that when starting a blog it is good to write about a topic that you love (¶4). In doing so, you will attract like-minded people. This blog lacks content and a strong visual presence though, hurting it from becoming as popular as I believe it can.
            After viewing the three blogs, I decided to make some changes to my own. First, I decided on a new template, for a more attractive visual statement.  I then added a new tab that explains the purpose of my site. The audience I am seeking is those who are interested in communication theory and those who will be interested in my style of writing. Last, I moved information to different areas, allowing more space to add content. I still plan to make my site more interactive with eventually creating a YouTube page that I will link back to my blog.
            I truly believe that within the last four weeks I have created a blog that is beginning to look and feel like the professional ones I have encountered online. In my blog there is content from previous classes at Ashford University, assignments from my current Communication Capstone course, and written work I have completed as a freelance writer. It is important to remember that like any other website, blogs must be visually attractive as well as have content that visitors will find interesting. What separates blogs from others places online, is that visitors can leave comments and interact with the site. To make a blog truly professional these components must be considered.
References
Bakshi, S. (2011, January 31). What Makes A Good Blog. Retrieved April 4, 2011 from http://comprehension.prsa.org/?p=2660
Blood, R. (2010, July 26). Weblogs: A History and Perspective. Retrieved April 4, 2011 from www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html
Brown, R. (2011). Robert’s Blog. Retrieved March 31, 2011 from http://robert-weiser.blogspot.com/
Carus, C. (2011). Who Knew? Write On Caron. Retrieved March 31, 2011 from http://writeoncaron.blogspot.com/
Meeks, J. (2011). NFL and NFLPA Dispute: The Fans Courtroom. Retrieved March 31, 2011 from http://nflfanvoices.blogspot.com/

Career's In Communication That I Am Interested In


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I was a communication major in the 90’s when I attended William Paterson University. At that time I had a concentration in film. While my desire to learn film-making is not with me anymore, I still knew returning to school I wanted to continue my education in the field of communications. My love and passion for writing also developed at this time. As my time at Ashford comes to a close and I finally accomplish my goal of achieving my BA in Communication Studies, I have been reflecting on what direction I want to take my professional career in . 

The following are a list of careers in communications that I have found interest in:



Public Relations Specialists
Public relations (PR) can be defined as the “management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and patience.” (PR News as cited in Cameron, 2009, pg. 5). PR Specialists perform these functions with building and maintaining positive relationships with the public in mind. These specialists use every form of media, such as TV, newspapers, radio, and the internet, to get their message across to the masses. The ability to write, network, and market are necessary to be successful in this field. Opportunities for those with experience in this field will grow, but competition for entry-level jobs will make starting in the industry difficult. The median annual wage is $51, 280, with the $30,000 on the low end and almost $100,000 on the high end (bls.gov, 2010).


News Analysts, Reporters, and Correspondents
The three positions make up a lot of what is known as journalism. “News analysts, reporters, and correspondents gather information, prepare stories, and make broadcasts” that notify the public of events (bls.gov, 2010). It is a very hectic work environment that is based around deadlines and availability to find and report stories as quick as possible. The hours worked are different depending on the particular industry; magazine, newspaper, television, radio, etc. This field has a median annual wage of $34,850, with $20,000 on the low end and nearly $78,000 on the high end (bls.gov, 2010). With in the next seven years employment is expected to decline. This is a result of many people getting their information directly from the internet.


Authors, Writers, and Editors
Communication professionals who work under these titles “produce a wide variety of written materials in an increasing number of ways” (bls.gov, 2010). With the development of technology many individuals are performing these from home using software and the internet to complete their tasks. More writers are doing their work as independent contractors or freelance writing. Authors are self-publishing and using the internet to promote their own books. Many editors begin as writers and authors and decide to use their skills helping others produce the best content. Employment in this field is expected to grow 7 to 13 percent in the next seven years. Median income is $53,070, with the low end being around $28,000 and the high end being over $106,000. (bls.gov, 2010)


Meeting and Convention Planners
Individuals that work as event planners for businesses work at bringing people together. While people with many different education backgrounds seek opportunities in this field, communication majors with a background in interpersonal experience should do well. Employment in this field is expected to grow at 14 to 19 percent in the next seven years (bls.gov, 2010). Planners of this level hold over 56,000 jobs as of 2007, with a six percent being self-employed (bls.gov, 2010).  The median income is $44,260 with the low end being around $27,00 and the high end being almost $75,000.


Technical Writers
A communication professional that can take hard to understand information and make it easy to grasp will be good at technical writing. Many jobs for technical writers require college degree related to the field of commutation. Being a good writer and knowing how to describe instructions are very helpful. The median wage is $61,620, with a low end of $36,500 and a high end of $97,460. Job prospects are expected to be good in this field. (bls.gov, 2010).




After attending Ashford University I see my future in either Public Relations or Journalism. I am also looking into event planning, because I always enjoyed doing that sort of thing in my personal life. 



Reference


Cameron, G. T., Reber, B. H., Shin, J., Wilcox, D. L. (2008). Public Relations Today: Managing Competition and Conflict. Boston: Pearson


BLS.gov. (2010). Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition. Retrieved March 31, 2011 from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos319.htm


The Process Of Making A Long Island Ice Tea


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One class that I really enjoyed taking at Ashford University was my Technical Writing course. I learned a lot about writing instructions and proposals. My fourth assignment was to write a technical process of completing a task. I decided to have some fun and wrote about the process of making one of my favorite drinks; Long Island Iced Tea. Below is the actual paper I submitted. Give it a read and let me know what you think.


Process of Making a Long Island Iced Tea
Introduction
The Long Island Iced Tea (LIT) is one of the most popular drinks in the United States. A mix drink that is poured in a Collins glass, there is no actual tea in it. This particular cocktail reached its height in popularity in the 1990’s; it is still very popular nationwide (Drago, 2004, ¶ 10). Because of the popularity of this drink, it is a must know for anyone who plans on throwing a social event or hosting a function at their home.

There are a few known ways to make a LIT, but the most popular process includes Gin, Rum, Tequila, Triple Sec, Vodka, Sour mix and Coca-Cola for the right color. In order to make a perfect Long Island Ice Tea, one will need a collins glass, a shaker, ice cubes, and a lemon slice.

The steps explained here include the measurements of liquor, the mixture of ingredients, and the presentation of drink.

Measurements of Ingredients
Like with all alcoholic beverages, the correct amount of liquor is of the upmost importance. Different liquors compliment each other, only when poured properly. For a Long Island Iced Tea, one will need to pour .5 ounces of each of the above-mentioned liquors. This can be measured by using a shot glass and filling it half way.  Pour each into a collins glass filled with ice. Next, pour 1.5 ounces of sour mix into the glass, this being the equivalent of a shot glass and a half. Finally fill the rest of the glass with cola.

Mixture of Ingredients
To give a LIT its resemblance of a real ice tea, one must mix the ingredients. To do so take a bar shaker and pour everything inside. Shake the drink for approximately 30 seconds. Do not shake much longer because the alcohol will start to melt the ice and water the drink down. While the liquor and other liquids are mixing, foam will begin create.  Open the shaker and pour back into collins glass.

Presentation of Drink
If shaken properly the drink should have a brown color very similar to a real ice tea. The top of the drink should be foamy. Now take the lemon slice and place it on the brim of the glass. This Long Island Iced Tea will look perfect and refreshing. A straw is appropriate for this beverage as well.

Summary
The Long Island Iced Tea has remained popular because it has a lot of kick and does not taste as strong as it really is. Many restaurants exclude one of the liquors as to not intoxicate their customers quickly. It is important to remember to use the exact amount of liquor recommended for this particular drink. What is not a problem is experimenting with other ingredients, such as Cranberry juice instead of Cola, or real lemon juice instead of sour mix. Regardless of the contents of any beverage, remember too always drink responsibly.

References
Drago, W. J. (2004).  Long Island Ice Tea. Retrieved July 18, 2010 from http://www.loving-long-island.com/long-island-ice-tea.html


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