Emerging Media for an Emerging Career

Emerging Media for an Emerging Career

After a few semesters of trying to get into IMC 619: Emerging Media and the Market I finally succeeded and am getting ready to wrap up another class for my MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. To be honest I found the content in this class to be extremely applicable to the industry, but currently I am not working in a position where I can utilize everything I learned. One day I will be in that position, though, and hopefully I can take some of these concepts with me. Just because I have completed this class that doesn’t make me an expert on the field of Emerging Media and the Market, but I am now aware of the areas I need to study and become knowledgable in for my future career goals to become a reality.

Ultimately I would like to work for a non-profit organization, specifically one that focuses on education. One big take away from this class that will help me in my future career aspirations is the power of storytelling. I think storytelling is essential for “marketing” non-profit and service organizations because it helps people feel connected to the cause on a more basic and human level. I use marketing with quotation marks because I think sometimes the term marketing just makes it seem like a company is trying to sell a product or service in whatever way they can. This is certainly a misconception about the field, but one I don’t like to associate with non-profits.

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I don’t think I ever really realized just how much of an impact storytelling has had on me as an individual. One of my new favorite ways to pass the time (social media gets old every now and then) is to watch Ted Talks. I absolutely love the sharing of ideas. What makes some of the talks really amazing, though, is that information is shared through storytelling and it is incredibly powerful.

Check out two of my favorite talks (the speakers excel at using stories to enhance their research):

Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Sir Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity

Now try not to get addicted to this site 🙂

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Are You Giving Away Too Much Information?

Are You Giving Away Too Much Information?

It seems like these days you can’t trust anybody. Everyone is after your personal information. They want to learn about your habits and thoughts and interests and then use that information to take advantage of you. Well, that may be an extreme way to look at it. It is true that some individuals do want your information to hack accounts and steal, but surprisingly a lot of personal information is exchanged between companies who are looking for the best demographic to market their products and services.

There is a good chance that your personal information is already out there. Just check out Pipl.com. I did after reading about the site in a Time article and was a little bit shocked (but at the same time, not really) to see how much information was on there. It wasn’t that surprising to see my social media profiles on there, but I was alarmed to see my past addresses and my relatives on there. I mean they knew who my deceased grandmother was!

Time contributer, Christina DesMarais, has some basic tips for protecting your privacy:

  1. Don’t fill out your social media profile. The more you share online, the easier it’s going to be for someone else to obtain that information.
  1. Be choosy about sharing your social security number—even the last 4 digits. Unless it’s your bank, a credit bureau, a company that wants to do a background check on you or some other entity that has to report to the IRS, think long and hard about giving out even the last 4 digits of you SSN.
  1. Lock down your hardware. Set up your PC/MAC and all mobile devices to require a password when it wakes from sleep or boots up.
  1. Turn on private browsing. Each major web browser has a “private browsing” setting that deletes cookies, temporary internet file and browsing history after you close the window.
  1. Use a password vault that generates and remembers strong and unique passwords. Sure it is way easier to use the same password for all of your accounts, but for phishers and hackers this makes you an easy target. For people who have a lot of log-ins and passwords to remember this can be a problem. You can use a password manager that will not only remember all your passwords, but will generate super strong and unique ones and automatically fill them into login fields with the click of a button.
  1. Use two-factor authentication. You can lock down your Facebook, Google, Dropbox, Apple ID, Microsoft, Twitter and other accounts with two-factor authentication. When you log in, you’ll also need to enter a special code that the site texts to your phone. Some services require it each time you log in, other just when you’re using a new device or web browser. Two-factor authentication works nicely for keeping others from accessing your accounts, although some people feel it’s too time consuming.
  1. Set up a Google alert for your name. This is a simple way to keep an eye on anything someone might be saying about you on the web. You can tell Google what to look for (your name), as well as what kinds of web pages to search, how often to search and what email address the search engine giant should use to send you notifications.
  1. Pay for things with cash. According to Business Insider, credit card companies are selling your purchase data to advertisers.
  1. Keep your social network activity private. This one is fairly self-explanatory. Make sure you tailor the privacy settings on all of your social media account to your liking.
  1. Don’t give our your zip code when making credit card purchases. By matching your name, taken from your credit card, with your zip code, companies can more easily mine more information, including your address, phone number and email address.
  1. Lie when setting up password security questions. “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “In what city were you born?” are common security questions websites often ask you to answer so as to supposedly keep your account safe from intruders. In reality anyone who wants access to your account could easily do some Internet research to dig up the answers.

Doing these things may not guarantee complete privacy, but they will certainly help and they are all a step in the right direction.

Data: Think Big

Data: Think Big

What is Big Data?

There are many diverse definitions of Big Data. BI consultancy, Hurwitz and Associates, defines Big Data as “the capability to manage a huge volume of disparate data, at the right speed, and within the right time frame to allow real time analysis and reaction”.

Some people define the concept of Big Data by its characteristics. VC Choudary, Associate Professor of Information Systems at UCI, says “what differentiates Big Data from traditional data is the sheer volume of information, velocity at which it is created, and the variety of sources from which it is drawn”.

Some characteristics focus on the collection of data:

Volume: Terabytes to Exabytes, petabytes to Zetabytes of lots of data

Velocity: Streaming data, milliseconds to seconds, how fast data is produced, and how fast the data must be processed to meet the need or demand

Variety: Structured, unstructured, text, multimedia, video, audio, sensor data, meter data, html, text, e-mails, etc.

Some characteristics focus on the usefulness of data:

Veracity: Uncertainty due to data inconsistency and incompleteness, ambiguities, latency, deception, model approximations, accuracy, quality, truthfulness or trustworthiness

Variability: The differing ways in which the data may be interpreted, different questions require different interpretations

Value: Data for co-creation and deep learning

Whatever the definition, you can’t deny that there are some big benefits to using Big Data:

  • Timely – 60% of each workday, knowledge workers spend attempting to find and manage data.
  • Accessible – Half of senior executives report that accessing the right data is difficult.
  • Holistic – Information is currently kept in silos within the organization. Marketing data, for example, might be found in web analytics, mobile analytics, social analytics, CRMs, A/B Testing tools, email marketing systems, and more… each with focus on its silo.
  • Trustworthy – 29% of companies measure the monetary cost of poor data quality. Things as simple as monitoring multiple systems for customer contact information updates can save millions of dollars.
  • Relevant – 43% of companies are dissatisfied with their tools ability to filter out irrelevant data. Something as simple as filtering customers from your web analytics can provide a ton of insight into your acquisition efforts.
  • Secure – The average data security breach costs $214 per customer. The secure infrastructures being built by big data hosting and technology partners can save the average company 1.6% of annual revenues.
  • Authoritative – 80% of organizations struggle with multiple versions of the truth depending on the source of their data. By combining multiple, vetted sources, more companies can produce highly accurate intelligence sources.
  • Actionable – Outdated or bad data results in 46% of companies making bad decisions that can cost billions
Digital Storytelling for Social Impact

Digital Storytelling for Social Impact

Humans make sense of the world through stories. When we share experiences we don’t just give numbers and facts and figures, we tell stories. Thanks to advances in digital technology, the shape and delivery of stories has shifted significantly. Conventional journalism and long narratives now must complete with messages of 140 characters or fewer and simple images. There are more ways than ever to reach audiences, but with so many messages being thrown at consumers it is more difficult than ever to cut through the clutter and really get the message through.

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Instead of pushing messages out to consumers, marketers should really be focusing on pulling customers in with engaging content. One group that can benefit from this practice is non-profit organizations. These groups make the kind of impact that produces true and engaging stories. But the fact that they are non-profits addressing social issues isn’t enough to make their storytelling strategies stand out. A report on “Digital Storytelling for Social Impact” from the Rockefeller Foundation and Hattaway Communications considers the role that digital technology can play in elevating the practice of storytelling and highlights critical issues to be considered:

Strategy: Before crafting the best story, organizations must first develop clear goals and objectives, and make sure they understand the interests and motivations of the target audience. These guidelines are necessary to develop effective content with the right platforms to reach the right people.

Capacity: Even though they may not be the most skilled storytellers, the most meaningful stories often come from people with authentic and insightful experiences to share. Professionals with specialized creative and technical skills know how to take these stories and make them into high-quality content, but not every organization has these storytelling experts. There are plenty of tools out there to do this job, but not everyone knows the best, most effective way to use them.

Content: Compelling and motivating stories serve a strategic purpose while at the same time cause emotional resonance and human connection that drive people to take meaningful actions. These stories must show people as active agents of change, who play a crucial part in creative solutions to the problems they face. This encourages empathy and inspires support from others.

Technology: Due to the large number of tools and platforms in existence, organizations struggle to understand which to use to most effectively engage the right audiences. Most organizations need guidance on best practices for utilizing common platforms as well as access to data that can help them target the right audiences.

Evaluation: Organizations that accurately evaluate the impact of their storytelling can learn what’s working and take that information to elevate success. Organizations just need to know how to set metrics for digital storytelling and use readily available evaluation tools.

Kickstarting an Ethical Debate

Kickstarting an Ethical Debate

Mass Collaboration. Open Innovation. Community Production. Mass Solutions. Constituent Driven Innovation. Connected Intelligence. Collective Wisdom. Intelligent Networks. Human Networks.

What do all these words and phrases have in common? They are all synonyms for crowdsourcing. So what is crowdsourcing?

According to CrowdSourcing.org, “Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open invite (call). Crowdsourcing is typically enabled through online communities consisting of members with common skills or interests and is applied as a model that enables individuals and groups to innovate, create, produce, report, predict, collaborate, fund and to engage customers”.

Crowdsourcing is sometimes confused with crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is “Financial contributions from online investors, sponsors or donors to fund for-profit or non-profit initiatives or enterprises. Crowdfunding is an approach to raising capital for new projects and businesses by soliciting contributions from a large number of stakeholders following three types of crowdfunding models: (1) Donations, Philanthropy and Sponsorship where there is no expected financial return, (2) Lending and (3) Investment in exchange for equity, profit or revenue sharing”.

There are two basic crowdfunding models:

  1. Equity Crowdfunding. This type of crowdfunding does allow people to become shareholders in a company. Companies sell ownership stakes online the form of equity or debt.
  2. Rewards-Based Crowdfunding. This older model is where people can pre-purchase products, buy experiences, or simply donate. While the funds raised from this type of model may go to helping a business or a project, funders are not allowed to invest and become shareholders.

Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a leading rewards-based crowdfunding site that funds creative projects. According to the company “We’re a home for films, games, and music to art, design, and technology.”

Seems like a good idea, but there was a bit of controversy when the actor (and write/director/producer) Zach Braff used the site to help fund his recent film “Wish I Was Here”. In a self-made promotional video, Braff stated that he could find conventional financiers to cover the costs of the film, but in doing so here would lose creative control over the script, the casting decisions and the finished product. So in order to keep complete creative control over the film, Braff launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise 2 million dollars. It took just three days to reach this goal. He actually ended up with over 3 million from more than 40,000 backers. wish_i_was_here_-_h_-_2014

This upset some people who questioned the ethics of the campaign. As an actor on the TV show “Scrubs” Braff reportedly earned $350,000 per episode, so one could assume he could fund the film himself with no problem. The thing about Kickstarter, however, is that it is not an intrusive technology. Braff didn’t harass anyone for the money; people wanted to give it to him. Kickstarter is also not a charity. The amount of money in Braff’s bank account is irrelevant (although about half of the film’s $6 million budget did come from him). If he sought out a studio or philanthropic hedge-fund manager for the financial backing, nobody would question the ethical merits of that request.

So what do you think? Is it ethical? Should this type of fundraising be left only to those who have no other means of financing projects, or should it be open to everyone equally? Personally I am a big fan of Zach Braff and his artistic endeavors, and I think this was a smart way to bring in interest for a project for which he felt very passionately.