Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today is Red River Radio's first-ever radiothon!

Red River College's former radio station, 92.9 KICK-FM, was shut down July 2012. The college's new online product, Red River Radio, launched August 2012 and streams live at radio.rrc.ca.

Right now, Red River Radio is doing a 12-hour radiothon, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., calling all eligible blood donors to head down to Canadian Blood Services at 777 William Avenue to roll up their sleeves and donate blood. CBS is open to donations until 7:30 p.m. tonight.

My Public Relations classmates and I have spent the last two weeks organizing today's radiothon. We've split up into teams (promotions, productions, and on-air). I'm part of the on-air team and you can tune in from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to listen to me gab!

We'll answer your questions of donor eligibility, the process of donating, give some cool blood facts, and let you know what to do to help save lives!

So stream us live today at radio.rrc.ca! Chat with us on @rrcradio using the #RallyForRed hashtag, and on facebook.com/redriverradio. Catch you on the air waves ;)

Here are some pics from our guerrilla marketing "balloon drop" last week. We dropped hundreds of balloons from every floor (up to the 4th) in Red River College's atrium to kick off the radiothon!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Minne Mouse creates controversy

Today, Disney and Barney's New York released their Electric Holiday campaign video.

Note: This post is in continuation of yesterday's post. If you haven't read the PR issue, please do here :)

This follows the backlash Barney's and Disney received after characters such as Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck underwent drastic body changes like the below image.

The video features Minnie Mouse embark on a magical fashion journey at Paris Fashion Week. After getting dolled-up in her true form, Minnie Mouse walks under a magical sparkly waterfall (conjured by Tinkerbell) onto the runway. Once she passes under the "waterfall," she grows an easy 5 feet and is much slimmer.

Barney's and Disney made the choice to not use the extreme body altering images that were formerly leaked. However, they didn't get rid of the body alterations altogether. This has left some people still upset (to see some comments on the video, click here).

The norm of the fashion world is super skinny models. Electric Holiday has been released. Minnie Mouse's figure has been changed. People are still upset.

What's the PR issue going to be like now? Is it over, and we should just overlook it? Is it just beginning? What do you think?

Electric Holiday campaign video:


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Skinny Minnie"

Fashion and Disney characters. Not a combination I'd ever see working together. But they are for Barney's New York's 2013 holiday campaign.

A classmate of mine introduced me to the PR issues surrounding the campaign earlier today. Barney's New York is a department store in the U.S. that caters to a high-end fashion market. The store is teaming up with Disney for their 2013 "Electric Holiday" campaign. The campaign follows your favorite Disney characters, such as Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck and Goofy, among others.

Photos of these Disney characters were leaked to the public, and received some negative response. The photos featured a withered down Minne Mouse and Daisy Duck strutting the runway at Paris Fashion Week. The cute, curvaceous, animal-like characters were no more. Instead, their bodies are ridiculously stretched and elongated, stick-like, and not like the original characters at all.

These body image changes received immediate backlash. Critics say the characters' altered body types project a negative image for children and other females who look up to the signature body types of the Disney characters. Mainly, Minnie Mouse should look like a mouse, and Daisy Duck should look like a duck.

According to Women's Wear Daily, Barney's New York collaborated with Disney to come up with the look for each of the characters. The characters have ditched their signature garments for high-end clothing to wear down the runway. Minnie Mouse will be dressed in Lanvin, Daisy Duck in Dolce & Gabanna and Goofy in Balmain. Additional Disney characters will wear clothing from other high-end fashion designers.

The characters that have been around for nearly a century have been altered so much, they're barely recognizable.

Barney's creative director Dennis Freedman said their makeovers were a collaborative effort with Disney, and said the following:

"The animator and I sat next to each other and went over every detail of the clothes - how they're made, what material, how they would move - to get them as accurate as we possibly could. When we got to the moment when all Disney characters walk on the runway, there was a discussion. The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress. There was a real moment of silence, because these characters don't change. I said, 'If we're going to make this work, we have to have a 5-foot-11 Minnie,' and they agreed."

A petition has been formed in protest of the character alterations. The petition has over 140,000 followers, and needs less than 7,000 more to pull the campaign. Actress Virginia Madsen, who signed signed the petition alongside Walt Disney’s grand-niece Abigail Disney, told the New York Daily News:

“Whether they want to admit to it or not, they’ve made a statement that Minnie Mouse is fat and Minnie Mouse doesn’t look good in a designer dress, so we’re going to stretch her out and make a completely different, sexualized image of her.”

I do agree with critics that this campaign has created a PR issue. However, despite the backlash Barneys has received, I think it's more a PR issue for Disney.

It's unfortunate the fashion world has made super tall and skinny bodies the norm for runway models. But that's the fashion world, and it's likely not going to change anytime soon. Disney knows this.

If Disney knows they're agreeing to enter a world where tall and skinny is the acceptable norm, I believe they should have done some crisis communications before the revealing of the campaign. First, they should have ensured the pictures not be leaked. Second, they should be prepared to respond to hostility toward the new looks of the lovable Disney characters.

Barney's New York is tailoring the characters to meet the standards of the fashion industry, so that the outfits of the designers "look good" on them. If anything, critics are likely disappointed with Disney to agreeing to such alterations. I think it's Disney's brand at stake in the grand scheme.

On a side note, I think Barney's could have had some positive fun with this campaign. Having the Disney characters in their original body forms wearing the designs of famous designers might have been a light-hearted holiday campaign, and the awkward-fitting designs would have been overlooked by publics of the fashion industry. It might have been a fun idea that would've saved them from all the criticism. However, if fun and light-hearted ideas like this are not what Barney's is looking for, Disney needs to be prepared to handle the criticism.

The highlight of the campaign, an animated film in which Minne Mouse gets dolled up at Paris Fashion Week to live her "fashion fantasy", will debut tomorrow at Barney's Madison Avenue store. Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Goofy and others will be displayed in Barney's Manhattan store windows wearing virtual clothes designed by the top fashion designers.

I'm curious to see how the characters look in the final video (stay tuned). For now, have a look at the video already released:


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A very own Twitter disaster

There's been yet another Twitter controversy.

While people in the Northeastern United States bravely battle Hurricane Sandy, American Apparel seemed to think it was a good idea to use the disaster for a marketing strategy. The retailer sent out an email blast Monday night, offering 20% off to customers for the next 36 hours.

The reason for the sale? "In case you're bored during the storm in the next 36 hours". The email said to enter "SANDYSALE" at the checkout, which apparently targets online shoppers who are staying indoors to seek refuge from the storm.

I haven't found a statement released by American Apparel yet. And who knows if they will. As for now, here is some backlash the eblast received over Twitter:

You might think this would only be one retailer's mistake. However, while writing this post, I quickly checked my Twitter feed and discovered yet another retailer's tasteless comment regarding the storm.

Superstore's brand, President's Choice, tweeted a picture of a Marshmallow Bloodshot Eyeball recipe in spirit of Halloween. With the picture, they tweeted "What's scarier? Hurricane #Sandy or a beverage with marshmallow eyeballs? #recipe #Halloween".

I had to shake my head when I saw this. American Apparel is known to be racy and quite frankly a little ignorant. But did value-based brands like President's Choice learn nothing about social media management after the KitchenAid/Obama tweeting disaster? President's Choice tweeted an apology within an hour of the ignorant post:

President's Choice is a family-friendly brand that communicates it's strong household values through it's branding. Both business' tweets were tasteless and tactless.

I'm curious to see how these issues unfold, if additional statements will be released, and how the backlash affects both brands. Let these two PR disasters be yet another lesson to social media managers.

Maxipad combats Facebook rant with blood

Absolutely hilarious. There is no other way to describe the Maxipad brand's reply to a Facebook rant.

Maxipad ads and commercials have always depicted a "happy period experience". In Maxipad commercials, women on their periods dance around, wear white dresses without care, and play sports with ease. Having a period is depicted as non-disruptive to a woman's lifestyle.

Deep down, women all know the truth that periods aren't fun. And we don't for a second believe Maxipads can solve our problems at a certain "time of the month". We understand these are commercials, and just another advertising strategy. So there's no issues...right?

Not exactly. A man named Richard decided to write on Bodyform's (a feminine product manufacturing company) Facebook page. In Richard's rant, he said his girlfriend doesn't have happy periods like those depicted in the ads, but instead she becomes "the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and an extra 360 degree head spin".

Oh, Richard.

The post received more than 84,000 Facebook "likes". Rather than just ignore it, Bodyform responded to Richard with a video.

In the video, Bodyform sarcastically apologies for it's lying in depicting periods as a happy time. The video shows Bodyform CEO Caroline Williams (played by an actress) pour herself a glass of the blue water often shown spilling over pads in commercials (perhaps a little gross, but actually funny).

She says "I think it's time we came clean. We lied to you, Richard. And I want to say sorry". She goes on to explain why the period commercials are depicted as happy, saying metaphorical imagery in the ads is better than focusing on "the blood coursing from our uteri like a crimson landslide".

Perhaps my favorite part in the whole video is when Williams says "But you, Richard, have torn down that veil and exposed the myth, thereby exposing every man to a reality we hoped they'd never have to face. You did that, Richard. You. Well done" and caps it off with a smile and swig of the blue liquid.

Yulia Kretova, brand controller for Bodyform, said in a statement:
"We found Richard's post very amusing and wanted to continue the positive dialogue around periods that this generated. Working with the brand for five years, breaking down the taboo around Bodyform and periods has always been a challenge, and I hope that we have started to address this. Carat has created an original and uniquely personalized response, brilliantly PR-ed by Myriad, allowing Bodyform to quickly engage in consumer conversations in a meaningful way."

Richard, and men by extension, are not Bodyform or Maxipad's key publics. Because of this, you may assume that Bodyform should just ignore Richard's post and focus on their female target audience. However, Richard's post received over 84,000 Facebook "likes". 84,000 likes is a large enough number that likely requires a response.

The video has potential to make their female target audience laugh. Any brand takes a risk in responding to comments against their brand, and I think it's tricky to do it well. However, I think this video response was brilliant and Bodyform did a nice job. You did that, Bodyform. You. Well done.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lance Armstrong - dumped by Nike

What you've always thought about Lance Armstrong: World cyclist racing champion, seven-time Tour De France winner, multiple cancer survivor, and founder of Lance Armstrong Livestrong cancer charity.

Here's what's happened in the last while:

June, 2012: U.S. anti-doping agency charges Lance Armstrong with having used illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

August, 2012: Armstrong receives a lifetime ban from professional cycling competitions, and is stripped of his seven Tour De France titles.

October, 2012: Armstrong steps down as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Livestrong Foundation.

A week after the U.S. anti-doping agency released evidence of drug use by Armstrong, Armstrong decided to step down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation. Armstrong said the following in his statement:

"This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart. Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."

Armstrong will remain on the board of the foundation. Soon after Armstrong released his statement, Nike announced they would be ending its sponsorship relationship with Armstrong. Pretty big move considering Nike stood by Tiger Woods in his infidelity scandal and convicted dog-fighter Michael Vick. Nike released the following statement regarding its dropping of Armstrong:

"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him."

Soon after, other sponsors cut their ties with Armstrong.

Armstrong has not admitted to doping or using performance-enhancing drugs. He's portrayed the whole scandal as a nightmare, which casts him in the light as being a victim. Although stripped of his championship titles, he refuses to change his message that he won his races clean.

I'm not sure if he's made a smart or poor PR move in his responses to the scandal. I think at this point, even if he did admit to doping, it would be a bad move. His key messages, and the messages of the foundation, have been the same through this whole scandal. Even if Armstrong did want to come clean about doping now, it would likely just damage his image more at this point.

If I were his PR practitioner, I would be worried about my reputation from this point on in my career. If Armstrong is indeed lying and did use drugs, and his PR is aware of this, that PR will have a difficult time re-building their reputation in the industry. Let this be a rule to all PRs: don't lie, don't make statements that lie, and don't be associated with liars. It could damage your career.

Armstrong's response to using drugs in 2001: "What am I on? I'm on my bike, busting my ass six hours a day."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

KitchenAid...somebody's getting fired.

During this year's presidential debate, an offensive tweet poked fun at Obama's late grandmother under KitchenAid's official Twitter account. The tweet read:

“@KitchenAidUSA: Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president. #nbcpolitics”

@KitchenAidUSA posted this tweet to the potential eyes of 24,000 followers before it was quickly deleted.

I didn't watch the presidential debate, but apparently Obama mentioned his grandmother, Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham, during it. Obama's grandmother past away Nov. 2, 2008, just before he was elected president.

@KitchenAid apologized quickly in a tweet for the offensive comment:
 "Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand's opinion #nbcpolitics"

KitchenAid's Cynthia Soledad released a statement quickly after:

“During the debate tonight, a member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle. The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won’t be tweeting for us anymore. That said, I lead the KitchenAid brand, and I take responsibility for the whole team. I am deeply sorry to President Obama, his family, and the Twitter community for this careless error. Thanks for hearing me out.”

Here is a list of tweets @KitchenAidUSA sent out to apologize for the incident:

I think it was good tactic to apologize over the same medium as the one that caused the uproar. I also think it was good for Soledad to address the mistake and take full responsibility even though it wasn't her who tweeted it.

My immediate thought when I heard about the tweet was, "somebody's getting fired". Companies have to be so careful who they put in control over their Twitter accounts. Let this be a lesson to all social media managers.

A company should never mix personal opinions with a brand, ever. 24,000 followers may have seen the offensive tweet, but 24,000 followers may not have seen the apology tweet, or cared to notice. This put KitchenAid's brand in jeopardy, and I'm curious to see how KitchenAid's sales have changed since the incident.

What are your thoughts on how this PR issue was handled?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

a tainted badass

Celebrity PR issues. Not exactly hard to come by. I understand that celebrities are people too, but I think celebrities should carefully contemplate the decisions they make when they're role models for a large audience.

Rihanna, arguably one of the biggest female R&B singers of today, is rumoured to be back together with her former abuser, Chris Brown. And the rumours are looking true.

According to reports from 2009, Rihanna and Chris Brown left a pre-Grammy party and began fighting in their vehicle. The fight turned violent and left Rihanna bloody and bruised.

Rihanna was seen as "doing the right thing" when she ended her relationship with Brown immediately after. It's been about three years since the abusive incident, and Rihanna is rumoured to be dating Brown again.

I remember this incident happening as I watched Entertainment Tonight at home. And I remember how impressed I was with Rihanna when I found out she left him.  She set a great example for abused women.

A public of Rihanna's is young girls. Impressionable girls who escape reality envisioning themselves as famous and powerful as Rihanna. It's obvious Rihanna is not setting a good example for these girls. I understand she's a person who should be able to make her own decisions, but rekindling with Brown is sending out a wrong message to this public.

Abuse is wrong, and should never be accepted. This is what we, females AND males are taught.

I've always been a fan of Rihanna's music. But I've lost respect for her as a person now. Every time I hear her music come on the radio, her badass brand is tainted by her choice to date Brown.

So, from a PR perspective, Rihanna's choice to date Brown again is a bad move. It taints her image, her brand and the way her young girl fans perceive her. Yes, she'll still make millions based on her musical abilities, but her personal choices will perhaps not be taken as seriously by some of her publics. Not by me, anyway.

 You can read a recent story about this here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shaw Park's Full Flex

Imagine a sea of neon colours, people wearing lots of clothing, people wearing barely anything, crazy hair styles and ground-shaking bass.

This was the scene of the Skrillex concert at Shaw Park this summer, home to the Winnipeg Goldeyes Baseball Club. Skrillex, one of the acts in the Full Flex Express Tour, toured around Canada this summer. The electronic dance music DJ set up on the outdoor stage at the Goldeyes ballpark.

I was the Media Relations Assistant this summer at the Goldeyes, an internship related to my communications studies I was so happy to be given the opportunity to do. I've always loved baseball, and there's nothing better than hearing the sound of your bat "ping" as you smack a ball or the dust that swirls around you as you slide to a base. But in my first week of work with the Goldeyes, perhaps the coolest thing was getting to step on the field. This sounds so dorky, but as soon as my foot touched down on that grassy turf I actually got shivers. It didn't take long for the field to become a platform I felt comfortable walking on.

So imagine my horror when I stepped onto the field at the Skrillex concert only to find it littered with plastic cups, cigarette butts and other garbage. People were also ripping up the grass in clumps to throw at each other. Luckily I wasn't responsible to clean up the mess. And, I ended up having so much fun despite not being a Skrillex fan at all.

Skrillex's demographic is people aged 17 to 27. Having worked at the Goldeyes, my perception of their main demographic is people aged 40 and up and I think many would agree. That being said, despite the hard work needed of the Goldeyes' clean up and field maintenance staff after the concert, I think the Goldeyes organization was exposed to a new, younger audience.

Hosting the Skrillex concert at Shaw Park was a good promotional tactic. Having a bunch of young people party on the field in their local team's ballpark was a new experience for many. Whereas it took me two interviews and a take-home assignment to get the job and be authorized to step on the field, this audience was more than welcome on the grounds.

I'm not implying that young people at the concert didn't know we have a baseball team. But if young people aren't the primary target of the Goldeyes organization, it's harder for them to take notice and by extension, harder for them to care. Just being in the ballpark (and not to watch a game) alone can spark an interest in the venue and what that venue serves. In this case, the good ol' game of baseball.

Here are some pictures I snapped with my iPhone at the concert:

The field, before and after the concert:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Burke might save the Bombers

Burke - thank you for addressing how fans are upset, because your GM doesn't understand the importance of it.

I'm wouldn't consider myself a Blue Bombers fan. And I wouldn't consider myself a big football fan. However, I'm a fan of Winnipeg sport teams, and if that means I have to be happy if (that is the big concern, if) the Bombers ever win a football game.

We had a discussion about the Bomber's media relations last week in my PR class, and response was much the same: the Bombers organization needs to do a better job communicating to their fans what the heck is going on in the organization.

A list of the chaos that has been the Bomber's organization as of late:
- an unfinished stadium
- poor team roster
- firing of former coach LaPolice
- hiring of GM Joe Mack
- banning of water bottles and noise makers that can act as projectiles.
 (If you're curious to know more, you can visit my recent post about the Bomber's backlash).

It's too late for the head of the Bomber's Media Relations to address the media. GM Joe Mack is already the most prominent face of the organization. The problem? Joe Mack is bad at doing press conferences. The "milk and cookies will be served after" comment is among the many things that are making fans shake their head at Joe Mack.

The Bombers need key messaging and they don't seem to have any - or at least their efforts are not working. I read an article today in the Winnipeg Free Press, which you can read here. Interim head coach Tim Burke showed his players video their poor on-field performance from their last game against Calgary. More than that, he showed them how immature their behaviour was, mainly how players were goofing off on the sidelines.

Burke says "This is your resume. This is what people in the outside world are thinking about you...It’s embarrassing...We should act in a professional manner. You’re getting paid to play as hard as you can play. We did not play as hard as we could play. That’s evident."

The Bombers Media Relations Dept. should thank Burke for what he said next: "The good people of Winnipeg pay good money to come watch them play, and this is an attendance driven league. Their salaries are being paid by the fans of Winnipeg, so they deserve more than what they’re getting."

Wow! This is what fans have been wanting to hear all along. Now was that so difficult? Fans want to know management is doing something - not just making excuses - about the team's poor performance. I believe many fans were relieved to hear Burke say this, and I believe it's a step in the right direction for the organization's communication efforts. 

Tim Burke

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

iPhone 5 - light, powerful...hassel?

The new iPhone was released today! As an Apple product user, I shared the anticipation with everyone else.

With a bigger screen, faster wireless internet connection, and more powerful chip, Apple is continuing to be seen as a leader in technology. But perhaps more important, the "super sweet" and techy advances in the new iPhone stick to Apple's brand - Think Different.

The only challenge I see in what clearly are products promoted to make life easier for it's users is the new cord connector. The previous connector that connected the iPhone to various Apple products has undergone a change. Apple said the new connector, called "Lightning", is more durable and will free up space for other technologies in the iPhone.

With the new iPhone starting at $199, Apple said people who buy the new phone will have to purchase an cord adapter in order to plug the new phone into their other Apple devices. Luckily, other than charging, a lot of Apple products function through wireless connections like Bluetooth. Apple also didn't say how much the new adapter would cost.

Apple customers are loyal customers - It's likely there's a person reading this post right now who's on their Mac computer, has their iPad on the table beside them, and is occasionally looking away from this post to check their iPhone for social media updates. Loyal customers spend a lot of money on Apple. To continue customer loyalty, asking customers to purchase a new adapter at extra cost and on their own time is a risky move. Customers may feel cheated and frustrated with this.

While discussing the cord adapter issue following the launch of what is to be expected a fantastic mobile phone may seem like an overreaction, it's not. Changes as little as this can influence customer mindsets and behaviours - in this case, customers may be angry enough to not purchase the new iPhone.

That being said, I think Apple chose to break this information to the public at an opportune time. Loyal Apple customers, new customers, and technological lovers alike were excited to see what amazing product Apple was going to debut. Throwing in the cord adapter issue probably didn't seem as big of a deal to consumers admist all the hype. They were likely more excited to see some cool new features.

This post has been my thoughts on brand/image consistency from a PR perspective!

To check out the features of the new iPhone 5, visit www.apple.com/iphone.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Blue Bombers: social media backlash

"The Bombers need to let fans in on the CFL club's business plan if they want to salvage what's left of the team's reputation" - Shirley Muir, president of PR House.

Tip: If you want to avoid a "Fire Joe Mack" Facebook page, and avoid it gaining 4,000 "likes", then it's time for a little two-way communication.

Please take two minutes to read the article here to better understand this post. The above quote was from the article, which mentioned some Bombers' disasters so far this year: an unfinished stadium, banning noisemakers and cowbells, firing former head coach LaPolice and oh ya, having the worst record in the league since hiring new coaching staff.

Much to many people's contrary, PR people don't have to be the "bad guys" if they don't want to be. There's often a stigma that PR people voluntarily withhold information from stakeholders. I haven't exactly entered the field as a professional yet, but any PR person should know that the profession relies on two-way communication.

PR House's Muir said the organization needs more help than a news release at this point. The fact Joe Mack refused to speak to the media after their 52-0 shutout loss last week doesn't exactly help the Bombers' case right now. Talking to media is your chance to explain the situation, not dealing with it makes matters worse and will likely upset people (hence the sack Joe Mack Facebook page).

Blue Bombers mishaps aren't going to end the world, but do you agree the PR department needs to step up their communication? I think keeping people informed will keep them happy, and then perhaps no one will regret tattooing "Swaggerville" on their arm come morning light.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Re-branded return

Hello readers,

First of all, thanks for tuning in again! I know I've been a little MIA over the last four months. Truth is I've been extremely busy trying to build my portfolio this summer as a Media Relations Intern for a local business, that my own social media has fallen by the wayside. But now I'm back at school where blogging is a requirement, so I'll be posting here weekly again much to my content!

Upon my return, this blog is going to undergo a little re-branding becoming more focused, more niche, and more exciting! A lot of the post I've done in the past year have been focused on Journalism and PR, as these two media areas never fail to intrigue me.

Daynasdish will still be a blog on media discussion, with a slight twist. I've chosen to major in Public Relations in my college Communications Program, so I'm going to veer a little away from Journalism and focus more on PR. I'm going to focus what's happening out in the real world that center around PR: why is a product gaining attention over and over again, how should a politician recover from a verbal faux-pas, and how a campaign can be most successful, as well as many other things.

This blog is written by a twenty-something girl as she studies Public Relations in school, and how she sees things. So follow along as I interpret PR initiatives, examine their success and throw in some ideas of how I would handle such situations. I'd love for you to participate in the discussion, challenge my ideas, and also collaborate with me as I figure out this thing called Public Relations!

Stay posted for blog updates every Friday!   

Thursday, May 31, 2012

reporting - connections and being human

I'm a Communications student in Manitoba, Canada. I study journalism, public relations, advertising and media production (TV and radio).

My journalism instructor is Joanne Kelly, former reporter for Shaw TV Winnipeg. I've always been inspired by the discussions and lectures we have in journalism class. Although I believe the way in which journalism is being told (particularly print media) is dying, I think journalism itself is very much alive. I think there will always be a need for storytelling and always a need to be aware of what's happening in this hectic place we call our world.

In saying this, I think there will always be a need for reporters such as CBC National Foreign Correspondent Nahlah Ayed. My instructor, Kelly, interviewed Ayed this past April about her new book, a memoir called A Thousand Farewells. It's a 15-minute interview, and in those 15 minutes I'm not surprised it ended with me feeling inspired again.

A Thousand Farewells tells the tale of Ayed, a Winnipeg-born girl who's parents decided to move her entire family home to the Middle East when she was just six years old. In the Shaw interview, Ayed describes the shock of moving from "green grass and wide prairie skies to a cramped refugee camp of no windows, concrete corbels, doors with rusted bullet holes and open sewers in the street". She describes it as the biggest culture shock of her life. Ayed says that, as the media, we're so focused on the news itself and not the bits of details that happen in between a story. With her memoir, she attempts to fill in the gaps and paint an entire picture of what's happening in a situation. 

Stories of hard-hitting world issues and stories that are told with the purpose of making a difference are important. Connecting with readers and listeners and your world audience are also important. What I took from Kelly and Ayed's discussion was the importance, as a reporter, to make connections and be human.

With this, I've definitely found a book to start reading! Please take 15 minutes to watch the interview here. Who knows, you might leave feeling a little inspired.

My picked top quotes of the interview:

"A good reporter makes connections with people" - Joanne Kelly

"When we were beaten up, I decided not to talk about it. I had a bloody nose and a few bruises, which was nothing compared to the death of about 100 people right before my eyes" - Nahlah Ayed, on her camera person and her being attacked by a mob in the Middle East.

"I've always said, if you don't know how to put yourself in people's shoes,you have no business being a reporter"- Nahlah Ayed.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

apology & hey advertisers, we get it.

First of all, I apologize to all my followers for not posting here for almost a month! Life has been crazy busy as exams and assignments had to be wrapped up at the end of April, and now I've also started a new summer job.

I'm a media relations intern now for the Winnipeg Goldeyes, an American Association independent baseball league team. I assist with behind-the-scenes PR activity, help out with media scrums and assist in production of Paul Edmonds TSN 1290 radio broadcast during home games, to name a few. I feel like I'm in school everyday (minus bringing home loads of homework) which is a good thing because I'll be able to maintain the skills I've acquired this past school year. But to say the least, I'm loving my new job! Of course it's an adjustment and was nerve-wracking in the beginning, but I'm getting used to the "corporate culture" everyday. It's great.

Because I'll be assisting the Goldeyes with their social media very soon, it's going to be very difficult to keep up with my personal accounts. So please don't forget about me, I haven't completely disappeared! You can follow me on Twitter at @daynarobbie.

Now that I've brought you up to speed, I read something in the news today that relates to the media discussion this blog focuses on! We're keeping things consistent, here.

The story I read was from the Winnipeg Free Press (my go-to news outlet). Everybody, apparently we're one step closer to getting rid of loud, blasting, startling TV ads that come on while you relax watching your favorite show. Advertisers, we get the idea.

I study advertising and PR in school, so I have a level of respect and appreciation for TV ads. Advertisers and businesses have to make money somehow. But I'm happy that, come Sept. 1, we'll no longer have to be startled by the blare of a TV ad. In my opinion, the advertising industry of TV ads doesn't need to change, but the sound level of them could sure use an adjustment. What do you think?

Read the WFP story here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

my montage - telling a story through video

I filmed, edited and produced a montage for my Television Production course at college. It took about four hours to get enough footage to fill the required three and a half minutes. I'll admit I was dreading the editing process, but thankfully it kind of turned out to be my favorite part (all 14 hours of it!).

It's amazing how much your footage can come to life with a powerful song and the right shot composition. I give a lot of credit to full-time videographers and editors who's work often takes the back seat to their talent. I don't think the right responses to what we see on screen could ever be achieved if our shots were static and boring and our edits poorly done. The project truly made me recognize how much work goes into something as short as three minutes.

I've always been interested in camera work (although never properly trained until now). I've also always loved photography and appreciate beautifully captured photographs. I'm starting to experiment with photography more than I ever have before, while remembering what I've learned in class of what makes a good shot (shallow depth of field and rack focus are your best friends).

I've written many stories for my journalism and creative writing courses, but all were done with the classic pen and paper. Telling the story that life is beautiful and fun through a montage was both a challenge and a reward. It was wonderful to tell a story through a different medium, and I couldn't be happier with the final product.

You can watch my montage here.

Thank you to my amazing boyfriend (my go-to white balancer) and talent for helping this project, this vision, come to life! Who knew dancing to only my clapping and terrible singing could turn out so nicely!


a twitter engagement

A Winnipeg man proposed to his girlfriend last Friday, April 13th. While it may be the typical happy ending most girls dream of, there was something not so typical about the events leading up to his proposal.

He took his fiance (spoiler, she said yes!) to eight different dates throughout the day, each one with it's own special story about their relationship which is cute. And the whole time he was live tweeting about it. Yes, he was live tweeting the events leading up to and including his proposal.

This is the first I've heard of such a thing and I'm not sure if I'd be sold on it myself (I'd probably become annoyed if, while on our dates, he was on his phone the whole time). But nevertheless, I'm writing about it because it just shows how much social media is becoming a part of our lives. The ways in which people find ways to use social media never ceases to amaze me and I'm not sure if I can predict what sorts of unconventional uses of it we'll start seeing!

Anyway, I'm happy for the lovebirds as always enjoy a happy, romantic ending. The hashtag received a lot of responses and he tweeted during dates quite frequently. Check out how he went about it and search the hastag #MikeProposes on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the web is what you make of it

Not only am I a fan of Lady Gaga's music, but I'm a fan of this video!

I think it's amazing when celebrities acknowledge their fans to extremes such as this. Gaga has over 22.5 million followers on Twitter and uses the web positively, responds to her community directly and keeps building her fan base as a result.

I also believe in the power of positivity when using social media. Enjoy this video!

Monday, April 09, 2012

big bra hunt

This sounds like a cool PR campaign- donate bras to help end poverty in western Africa. Since I'm entering the public relations field after graduating next April, this campaign strikes me as the sort of thing I'd like to be a part of one day :)

Bras are a commodity in developing nations because they're hard to manufacture which is why Oxfam is launching this project (it launched April 1st). I'm just starting to learn about it, but click the below links for more info. Thought this would be interesting to share!

Big Bra Hunt: Don't bin them, recycle them!

Oxfam launches Big Bra Hunt

English television and radio personality, Zoe Ball supports the cause:

The journey of a donated bra:

Dionysus in Stony Mountain

                                    Sarah Constible as "Heidi"

Dionysus in Stony Mountain, staged at the Rachel Browne Theatre and produced by Theatre Projects Manitoba, is directed by Bill Kerr. The play revolves around only two characters. Told in two Acts, the first revolves around Heidi and James.

Heidi, played by Sarah Constible, is a prison psychiatrist who is trying to help her inmate patient, James. James, played by Ross McMillan, is approaching his parole hearing. His treatment has been going well and Heidi is optimistic until she learns he’s no longer taking his medication.

James claims he’s seeing the world more clearly and finally feels as though his brain isn’t clouded by medication. He’s become obsessed with reading the works of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and rants and raves about Nietzsche’s beliefs, something he did when he was previously off medication. To Heidi, this is a sign of slipping back into mental instability.

James feels like he’s no longer a prisoner of his mind, and therefore, no longer a prisoner of Stony Mountain. It’s as if he’s come to terms with why he’s there (jailed for murdering his wife) and that he’s made a new discovery about people’s existence. He says being on his medication prohibits him from thinking so deeply.

The two characters compete with their ideas and definitions of what insanity, mania and the purposes of prisons are in heavy, intellectual discourse. The play is almost purely dialogue and the two spit off convoluted and compelling ideas. They make this look surprisingly easy and I very much appreciated their acting abilities for this reason.

Heidi stresses to James that he needs to take his medication or else he won’t be released from prison. James says he’s not the prisoner- she is. He says she’s too deep in her line of work and doesn’t understand the world around her like he does. Essentially, this Act raises the question…who’s the imprisoned one? 

The boundaries of the psychiatrist/ patient relationship are crossed when Heidi tells James she will quit her job and give up psychiatry is he goes back on his medication. They both comply so James can be free, and the second Act revolves around her defending this choice to her uncle Eric (also played by McMillan). This Act focuses more on Heidi and how she struggles with defining justice and mental illness.

I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the play once I realized how much it focused on dialogue, but I ended up enjoying the higher level of thinking it required. Dionysus raises many questions about our society and how we treat each other. Imprisoning the mentally ill has been going on for years to the point where society doesn’t really question the action. Since I watched this play as part of a journalism assignment, I couldn’t help but relate the play’s story to journalism itself.

The procedure of imprisoning the mentally ill again and again is like telling crime stories the same way again and again. To explain…

In Act one, Heidi says she’s listening to what James is saying, but admits she’s having a hard time seeing things his way. This is probably due to her deep-rooted psychiatric values. It’s as if she’s seeing James the way she wants to see him. James essentially accuses her of this and says she’s “giving up thinking to be a cheerleader”. This immediately made me think of biased journalism and how some journalists see only the story they want to see and tell it so, cheerleaders of their interpretations.

When Heidi says she did listen to what James had to say but thinks he still needs medication, James says “you didn’t listen, you observed symptoms”. For me, this really stressed how important objectivity is in journalism. As journalists, we should not see the story we want to see, but instead explore all stems of the story in front of us to understand and report the whole picture.

James has come to terms with his imprisonment through Nietzsche’s works of enlightenment. In crime stories, we tend to learn the victim’s story or the judge’s story. But do we ever really learn the convicted’s story? In the play, James said some of his fellow prisoners in Stony Mountain were there because of their terrible upbringing and mental instability. Yes, they still committed murders and that is definitely not acceptable, but maybe crime stories should tell the convicted’s story too.

This might help us understand the whole story and help explain the injustice of their actions. If crime stories are where we differentiate from good and evil, then it might help us cope with injustices in society if we have a better idea of how the evil generated. In this way, readers of journalism stories may be enlightened. 

                               Heidi convinces James to go back on his medication

Sunday, March 25, 2012

licensed journalism

In my journalism course, we often talk about the fine line. It's the line you're apprehensive to cross when writing a story that involves someone close to you.

So what do you do? Do you write the story so that if the person reads it, it meets their approval? Or do you write it as objectively as you can, spilling all the gritty details if they exist?

It's so important for journalists to be objective and factual. Journalists are our sources of information, the only way we hear what really happened in the fire, or what's really going on in the court room.  When I read a news story, I don't want any spin on it.

There's also the idea that no matter how objective a journalist tries to be, can they ever be truly objective? When they go to the scene of the fire, do they unknowingly chose to see the crowd of people crying, or do they chose to notice the firemen running into the raging building?  Which one do you report on?

It's not always possible to fit all these sides of the story into a 450 word journalism story. Television stations, at the least, should have reporters at different parts of a scene, reporting on different aspects of it (for example, one reporter talking to a crying neighbour, one reporter talking to one of the fireman, etc.)

There is a code of ethics to follow in Public Relations, but you don't technically need any formal education to be a public relations practitioner. There's even talk of licensing PR practitioners.

The same goes for journalism- there's no formal education required. There's no code of ethics and there's not even an oath that journalists go by. Anyone can be a journalist these days because of social media and anyone can chose to freelance and submit stories to credible news outlets. So my question is, in order to learn the importance of objectivity in journalism storytelling, should journalists be required to have licenses? 

My answer is yes. What do you think?

Journey for Justice

As part of a school assignment, I read crime reporter Mike McIntyre’s book Journey for Justice: How ‘Project Angel’ Cracked the Candace Derksen Case. For those who don’t know, this was a case that arguably shook up the entire city of Winnipeg.

Candace Derksen was 13 years old when she was abducted by a stranger on her way home from school. She was taken Nov. 30, 1984 and her body was found, frozen and tied up, in a shed only mere kilometres from her home Jan. 17, 1985. It took 26 years to find and convict her killer, Mark Grant.

Candace’s mother, Wilma, spoke to my classmates and I in a seminar last Thursday. She said that after 26 years she “had learned to live with the mystery” of what actually happened to Candace.

Learning. This is what I’ve been doing a lot of in my Journalism course this year. For starters, learning how to properly write a journalism story. Learning how to write a story in a way that will make people care. Learning how to be objective and factual in my storytelling. And with that, learning how to know whether it’s okay to cross the line when writing about someone you know.

McIntyre knows the Derksens very well. He makes this clear in Journey for Justice’s introduction. Candace’s body was found on McIntyre’s 10th birthday and he said the case has always stuck with him. McIntyre also spoke at the seminar.

“News of Candace’s disappearance was something I remember vividly. I felt a strong personal connection to this story,” he said.

McIntyre’s writing was clear in Journey for Justice, and as a reader and journalism student I appreciate that kind of writing. However, I’ve always been a critical thinker when it comes to non-fiction. With this, I can say my overall reaction to McIntyre’s book was disappointment.

Journalists should always be objective. There were way too many instances in the book where I felt McIntyre was losing his objectivity because he knew the Derksens so well. 

At our school seminar, McIntyre said he was unsure if he had the patience to write books. It would be a project that would take months, a stark contrast from the quick pace of being a daily journalist. But, after writing his first one, he said he caught the bug. McIntyre has written three books and said the ones he’s written have pitched themselves because the cases were so well known. But, he said “I don’t want to capitalize on the infamy of the case. I want it to be something the family can look at and be proud of.” I suppose that’s fine if the family is truly ok with it, which Wilma agreed she was.

In the book, there was a lot of talk about the Derskens’ faith in God and how God was helping them cope with Candace’s disappearance. Although the Derksens couldn’t understand why their daughter had to be stolen from them, they said they couldn't lose faith.

I found this religious undertone very intrusive with the story while reading Journey for Justice. It was like religion was beating me over the head and I wasn't comfortable with it. But then Wilma told us something at the seminar. She said we didn’t need to share the same faith, but everyone should have “a comprehensive world view of why we’re here”. I liked this thought and I think the book would have been a lot stronger if the Derksen's idea of faith was explained in this less oppressive way. 

In the book, I think the Winnipeg police service was put in a negative light. In 1984, the police interrogated the family soon after Candace’s disappearance. McIntyre's writing framed the interrogation in a way that seemed like the police weren’t understanding the seriousness of the situation (they kept saying Candace was just another teen runaway, unhappy with her parents’ religious practices). McIntyre didn’t explain how this type of questioning is the usual police protocol and, more importantly, how most children who go missing are stolen at the hands of family members or people close to them. The book made this police attitude seem appalling and what's worse is there was no police perspective included.

So when is it ok to cross the line and tell what really happened without worrying about what someone close to you will say? I’ve read McIntyre’s crime stories in the Winnipeg Free Press. For the most part I can't complain because he seems to almost always write the stories objectively. I think the impact of Journey for Justice suffered because, while reading it, it was so obvious McIntyre had gotten too close to the Derksens. Being so immersed in a story would make it hard for him to remain unbiased and objective while telling it. 

One thing journalists can learn from this story is the importance of objectivity. The back of the book says "true crime". With a healthy balance of the victim’s story, the guilty’s story and the community’s story, I think a “true” and objective story could have been told. A journalist should be able to approach any story objectively because they play a huge role in shaping public opinion. If you can’t separate yourself from a story, then you shouldn’t write it.

This is not to say the accounts from Wilma and Cliff were fabricated or unnecessary to include. Candace’s death was tragic and I think the Derksens are brave because they continue to tell her story and keep her memory alive through efforts like Journey for Justice.

I wasn't overly impressed with the seminar. McIntyre seemed very nonchalant for such a serious story and seemed to go on and on about his trials and tribulations when writing the story. He seemed very surprised when a student asked if he approached the book as an objective journalism story. My classmates and I had a discussion about the book before the seminar and a large majority of us agreed he didn't approach the story completely objective. Wilma thanked McIntyre for writing the book, but is understandably so immersed in the story herself that, as a journalist, she didn't pick up on the lack of objectivity either. However, I appreciated her taking the time to talk to us. It was very brave.  

I’ve often wondered about crime stories and books like Journey for Justice. What’s the point of telling crime stories? They’re a guaranteed downer whenever you read them and they show all the horrible things human beings are capable of. So why do we need them anyway? I think Wilma answered this best.

“Crime stories are the learning of life. They’re where we differentiate between good and evil,’ she said.

That's the most important thing I've learned through this story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tilted magazine launch party

Ever wondered...

- what it was like to do Adam Sandler's makeup in Happy Gilmore?
- what it was like to work on big name productions like Jumanji, Haunting in Connecticut and Goon?
- what it was like to help famous director Guy Maddin film a movie?
- how, as an actor, you can jump from stage theatre to movies?
- if you have what it takes to be part of a cast or crew?

I might have your answers...

Tilted is a magazine publication that spotlights local talent working in Winnipeg's film industry. Whether you're an industry professional or just someone who wants the scoop on behind-the-scenes activity of filmmaking and production, Tilted is for you! 

Our first issue features a local makeup artist, experimental filmmaker, stuntman, sketch comedy group and various actors with tips and stories of their experience- all of which might answer the above questions!

Red River College Exchange District Campus is hosting it's annual Magazine Fair on Mar. 30 from noon to 4 p.m. Tilted will have a booth set up with a whole bunch of interesting gimmicks that are too good to give away here (hint: do you like free stuff?). The fair is free and everyone is invited!

We're also giving away fun hints about our upcoming issue on Twitter @tiltedmagazine and http://www.facebook.com/TiltedMagazine So follow us an learn more!

You can also follow the creators on Twitter: @daynarobbie   @Mr_McAvoy   @BrendynBialek    @mariealliesky

Tilted is a fun, design-oriented publication that combines exclusive info with a touch of edginess. Magazines will be on display for everyone to read and PDFs can be purchased for only $1.00!

Hope to see you there!

hashtags going out?

We all have pet peeves when it comes to other people's communication techniques.

I've written a blog post similar to this before talking about how I "unfollow" someone on Twitter or "unfriend" someone on Facebook if they're cheerleaders for negativity or other annoying tendencies.

A while ago, I deleted people off my Facebook who I know longer talk to and am not actually "friends" with. This was in attempts to turn my Facebook page into more of a snapshot of my life and who I am as a way to brand and market myself - a much more professional attempt than the drunken pictures we often come across on our newsfeed.

On of my FB friends posted the link below about communication pet peeves. And it's spot on. Among my favorites are mentions of people overusing hashtags, posting 20 times a day on FB as if it was Twitter as well as people posting their pet peeves.

Anyway, I recommend you give it a read - especially if you are or are planning to become a communications professional. And #please #stop #overusing #the #hashtags.

15 communication pet peeves from ragan.com

Friday, March 16, 2012

I think it might actually give you wings

This is an ad for Red Bull and I love it. It gave me goosebumps when I watched it.

I don't drink Red Bull- it takes like frozen paint to me and their silly TV ads with a cartoon character chanting "Red Bull gives you wiiiiiiiings!" doesn't do it for me. So the fact i actually forgot this ad was for Red Bull while watching it (but, not completely of course) has me sold!

Given that it's a step up from the cartoon character ads and it delivers a very different message (I detect inspiration), I'd say this is Red Bull trying to re-brand a bit. I think it works and steps up the company's credibilty a bit.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why care?

Journalists are important. We need news, we need to be informed, and they're how we learn about a lot about local and world issues.

Studying communications in school, I debated going into journalism. It was a close call, but I chose to go into PR instead. I told myself that my passions for journalism would boil down to my felt need to tell people's stories and get readers to appreciate their stories and also understand why they're important. I strongly believe in this stance.

If a horrific story about a person affected by crime deters someone from criminal action, then a story has done it's job. I don't think it's a matter of writing stories for the sake of writing anything you can get- I think stories need to be framed in a way that will make people care. I'm not suggesting that stories should participate in spinning- they should always be factual. But news media needs to start writing stories that need to be shared.

The recent theft of a Justin Bieber cut-out from a Booster Juice in the city was written in the news. (click here to read the story). The cardboard cut-out was stolen Saturday and returned to the store Monday. Radio station Hot 103 also gave the store a cut-out of Bieber's pop singer girlfriend Selena Gomez to initially replace Bieber.

The fact that this was in the Winnipeg Free Press's twitter feed has me slightly disheartened. I don't really consider a stolen Bieber cut-out newsworthy. If I wanted news on Bieber, I'm sure I could find it on TMZ or Entertainment Tonight. You may argue that this was a story on crime, but it was written in such a lighthearted and jolly-good-fun(!) way I can't imagine that argument holding up. If it is a story on crime happening right under our noses, then fine- but it needs to be told as such.

If I read or watch a reputable local news source (which I consider the Winnipeg Free Press to be), I want to read stories that matter to the city. I'm all for reading positive news and I'm not saying every story in the paper or on TV needs to be about crime and violence, I just want to be told stories that are meaningful. And not about pop stars.

p.s. I'm gonna let my PR side out- I know that having a huge pop star such as Bieber is really good PR for Winnipeg. That's fine, but let's leave the promotions to the PR people and let's leave impacting news to the papers.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

what makes you ick?

I read an article posted on Twitter called "Gross ads disgust consumers into action".

The article talks about how advertisements that gross us out are proving to be more effective than ones that try to scare us.

The article mentions the Febreze commerical as an example where people are blindfolded and have to sniff dirty furniture, curtains and other filth. I remember this commercial completely because it totally grossed me out when I first saw it, yet I couldn't help but keep watching!  (I've attached a less-gross version of the commercial at the bottom of this page).

Often, when a TV commerical comes on that I've seen before and find scary, I immediately flip the channel because I'd rather not think about it. I'd like to even post an example here, but honestly it freaks me out too much to have something like that on my blog! Case in point, I suppose.

So if advertisements want to hold a viewer's attention, perhaps the best way to go is to gross them out rather than scare them...at least they're more likely to keep watching.

Ick-ed out yet?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

social media meets surgery

I read this story today and found it truly fascinating.

The story is about how a doctor in Houston performed open heart surgery while his colleague tweeted updates throughout the entire procedure.

The doctor had a camera attached to his head and snapped pictures while he operated, and his colleague stood beside him and answered questions posted by @houstonhospital’s followers and used a #surgery hashtag. Quite amazing.

It’s common knowledge that social media is huge for promotion, but I’ve never thought about its educational purposes before reading this story. Just one other opportunity that social media gives us. Using social media as a tool (to show a successful surgery, I might add) is also great PR in action for the hospital.

It’s interesting how you don’t have to want to be a doctor to be interested in surgery, but it’s cool to know that your curiosity and questions about how any surgery goes can be answered with a simple tweet.

I linked the story above, please have a read!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

clearing the air

I've had a few people talk to me in person about my last blog post. In my last post, I was discussing which major I would be taking for school next year. It was a tight race between public relations and journalism. I chose public relations.

I had said that I felt the way in which journalism was being done is dying (i.e. no one is waiting until 6 o'clock to hear the news or weather anymore- we can look this up on the internet and our phones within two seconds if we want an answer).

Now, let me be clear on what I think: Journalism is NOT dead. There will always be a need to tell and hear stories, and absolutely always a need for news. I respect journalists and the journalism field completely. But, I'm not sure the way in which stories are told (lead, quote, summary, quote, summary, quote, etc.) is going to be around for much longer either. There is so much news happening in the day that when we hear/see/read a story we want the gist of it and we want it fast.

Just wanted to clear the air regarding how I feel about journalism. It was very hard for me to acknowledge that I wouldn't be majoring in it next year because I love it so.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Switching to the "Dark Side"

When I first applied to Creative Communications (the college program I'm studying), it was because I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. No questions asked, this is what I want to do and what I've wanted to do for the last 5 years of my life. Now, I'm not so sure anymore.

I still respect journalists and professional journalism itself and had I gone to a school and studied journalism only, I'd probably be very content with the idea of being a broadcast journalist for the rest of my life. But now my eyes have seen the worlds of public relations, advertising and media production. I've learned how to design, write and produce ads, prepare an event and even shoot footage using a professional-standard ENG camera. It's a lot to take in and I sound like a child when I say "it's not fair" when I have to choose which path I want to take.

First semester of school flew by. And when I think back to it, I'm reminded of all the fun things I've gotten to do, opportunities I probably never would have tried to get involved in had it not been a requirement to attend. I've gotten to interview politicians for Manitoba's provincial election (the first election that I have ever paid attention too), listen to a meeting at City Hall, go to a Bombers football game, go see Romeo and Juliet at MTC (a play I've always loved) and be given the chance, and the reason, to interview Hollywood cast and crew. In short, when I think of all the fun I had first semester...it was in journalism.

Sure, I grumbled a bit at the beginning all of these assignments - I'd get nervous and then stressed out as I anticipated the interviewing process of approaching a stranger, convincing them to care that what I'm writing is important and that they're an important subject whether they think it or not. I was almost always nerve-wracked to begin with, but ended up loving the whole experience after: the rush of finding someone to talk to, actually asking them questions and being surprised by some answers, to submitting my story before a short deadline. 

Aside from discovering that I really do love journalism, I have to acknowledge that it's a dying profession. Newspapers are on their way out and their websites won't last much longer. It's something we keep hearing over and over and we know social media and the public's attention span are to blame. Consider this: when we want to know the weather, we're not going to wait for the evening news to tell us; we're going to look it up on our "weather eye" iPhone app and by the time the evening news hits us with the story of the day, we've already read it on the Winnipeg Free Press Twitter feed. Admit it, you do this.

I still believe that everyone has a story to tell and that those stories are important for people to hear. Some people think it's inhumane to ask "how do you feel?" to a mother who's child has just been killed in a car crash by a drunk driver. But if that mother's words of anguish can convince just one person listening to the news on TV that night to not drink and drive anymore, asking that question and broadcasting it is worth it. A journalist has used their skills to help communicate an important message to anyone listening.

I love talking to and meeting new people. I always have. I love public speaking, but I assure you it's not because I love the sound of my own voice. I've enjoyed presenting - and have been good at it - for as long as I can remember. I love communicating messages to people and spreading good by informing a crowd. This is how I think public relations relates to journalism: you're still telling a story about your cause, just in a different way. And just because it's not on the 6 o'clock news doesn't make it any less important (the bonus is the 6 o'clock news might just cover it anyway).

We want information too fast - and it's all at our fingertips now. Waiting until 6 o'clock or for tomorrow's newspaper just doesn't cut it anymore. Neither does the traditional frame of a story - lead, quote, summary, quote, summary, quote, etc. People want information faster and want the jist of it quickly. Don't get confused, they still want the story, just in a different way.

I admit it's been hard for me to acknowledge this, I've always loved writing and I always will, and when it's for a meaningful story - the better. 

I'm fairly sure I'll be going a different route - to the "dark side" as journalists sometimes call it - and doing public relations for a living. Despite what people actually believe, public relations practitioners follow a code of ethics where "spinning" the truth (i.e. not lying) is frowned upon. I argue that even though print and broadcast journalists tell both sides to a story and approach it objectively, they act as gatekeepers in that they tell the story through a newspaper or through my television screen and it's a one-way flow of communication. We can't ask questions after a newscast and only get the answers they give us.

Public relations is meant to be a two-way flow of communication where the public is allowed to question an organization's choices or actions. We're meant to interact with our "publics" because not everyone is the same and not everyone interprets things in the same way. Public relations is a profession where I'll be able to talk to and respond to publics while being productive and compassionate at the same time. And that's exactly what I intend to do.