Digital Portfolio

Exactly 705 days ago, I embarked on an educational journey at Queens University of Charlotte, in order to obtain my Masters in Communications. Although, fear and hesitation almost crippled me from initially proceeding… (due to the amount of time that had lapsed since I was in school and also now being a full-fledged full time employee), I still went against the grain to pursue matriculation through the online MA program at the Knight School of Communication.

Despite the program seeming to fly by, the journey to reach this point has not come without some long nights, canceled weekend plans, and extreme dedication, in order to get here. Nonetheless, with hardwork and perseverance, I have managed to complete the program with no delays and having gained additional knowledge that is unmeasurable. After having mastered 4 Fall courses, 4 Spring courses, and 4 Summer courses, I cherish the weekly correspondence and group projects with individuals who have become virtual friends, teachers that have guided pupils on how to apply what is learned to everyday life, and a virtual atmosphere fostered at Queens that made it all possible.

This page walks you through each course, and the theoretical premise or knowledge that was gained as a result of those teachings. Here’s a quick video of me explaining why I benefited so greatly from the communications program offered here at Queens University.

Why I Chose Queens University

Our Online Identities and the Price Tag of the Social Capital tied to them…

The Army is no longer the only place where you can “be all you want to be”, you can now do that on social media also. The below podcast will explore the capital tied to social networking sites, and how that shapes the identities of predominately young impressionable adults.

Take a listen…https://soundcloud.com/user-540141069/our-online-identities-the-price-on-social-capital

The Cost of an Online Identity

Podcast Resources:

Ihlen, O. Fredriksson, M. (2018) Public Relations and Social Theory: Key Figures, Concepts and Developments. New York, N.Y. Taylor & Francis Group. 

Ling, R. (2008). New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion. Cambridge, M.A. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Turkle, S. (2011). Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (3rd ed.). New York: Basic Books. 

Wright, K. B., & Webb, L. M. (2011). Computer-mediated communication in personal relationships. New York: Peter Lang.

New Tech, New Ties : The Remix

Recently, I was challenged with writing a brief synopsis of Rich Ling’s “New Tech, New Ties. This book focuses on the impact that mobile devices, as a form of computer-mediated communication, have reshaped our lives, and therefore, altered social cohesion.

This paper highlights some of the notable theories present in this book, and addresses both the pros and cons of the device at hand. There is no one solution fits all based on Ling’s writings, but he allows the user to intricately examine themselves in order to come to a conclusion on the device’s use itself. Read more here at  NewTechNewTies

10 Necessary Steps in Brand Building & Identity

If you buy or purchase products, chances are, you submit to a brand. Whether it be your favorite toothpaste Crest, workout gear Under Armor, or salad dressing Ranch/Hidden Valley, these brands makeup products we consume on a daily basis. The significance of the brands we choose to support tells us just as much about ourselves as it does the organization. Price, product quality, promotion, and storytelling, all play a part in understanding the brand culture and the importance of Organizational Identity. 

This blog post will highlight 10 steps necessary for brands to establish their identity in a competitive market, along with how those practices benefit the overall health and vitality of the organization. 

The Heartbeat of a brand, lies within its Story

Every organization has a story that sets it apart from its competitors. For instance, Morris Reeves, founder of North Carolina established fast food chain Cook Out, manages to incorporate is religious practices onto its products. On the hamburger wrappers or milkshake cups, customers can find Bible scripture references and inside the store, it is encouraged to play Christian music (Creel, B. 2015) Brand storytelling is “using a narrative to connect your brand to customers, with a focus on linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers “ (Brenner, M. 2018). 

Fast Food Chain – Cookout

Brands Need to be Authentic

Just like in the dating world, nobody likes meeting a representative. Naturally that same rule of thumb applies to organizational brands; where consumers like to get what they’ve paid for. Being authentic leads to better understanding, trust, comprehension, receptivity, and more (Patel, S. 2019). 

Consumers Need Something they Can Relate To

With marketing embedded in environments where customers communicate with friends and family, they naturally gravitate toward those they relate to the most. Brands that want to appear more relatable must gain a close understanding of their audience, their interests, their concerns, and their sense of humor (Patel, S. 2019). 

Great Brands don’t just Sell Products

Organizations must not solely rely on their products to sustain consumers, but rather they must work to ensure that consumers have an emotional connection to their products. People buy according to how brands make them feel, or what they identity they help them experience and express (Yohn, D. 2014, p. 12). 

Check out this Campbell’s soup commercial that reminds us of the connection between brands and emotions

There’s Always a Hero in a Good Story

The main character in your brand story is not you; it’s your customer. Your customer has to be the hero to make this work. Your brand is the guide (Brenner, M. 2018).  Too often, the customer’s experience of a brand is an afterthought among many businesses. To bring the experience front and center will take nothing short of internal transformation. Acknowledging that the world is changing is certainly a start. But how customer’s behavior is changing, how it’s impacting decision making, and how that decision making is affecting the business landscape is what must be documented, communicated, and shared within the organization (Solis, B. 2013, p. 23). 

Give me Loyalty…

The best way to reach a customer who’s deciding what and when they’ll buy is to stop pushing your products so hard and focus more on why your business exists at all. When you tell this story and explain your values you’ll engage the customers who share your values. When you find people who share your values, there’s a much better chance they’ll stay loyal to you (Brenner, M. 2018).

Hold the “Trends” please.

Trends may help attract attention in the short term, but they can change so quickly that you always put your brand identity at risk by following them (Yohn. D., 2014, p. 12).  No consumer likes a brand that fluctuates or lacks consistency. Once a consumer finds a product that they admire an appreciate, then frequent changes can become an issue for the consumer. 

A Teacher named Experience 

As per Albert Einstein, the only source of knowledge is experience (Solis, B. 2013, p. 52). Organizations must recognize the failure in any aspect is not optional; however, how they handle those setbacks is what differentiates their brand from others. Consider the issue that Starbucks had with racial profiling a few years back. That issue could have resulted in the demise of the brand; yet, they proved to be a sustainable organization by ensuring that they learned from the issue and took measures to further correct the matter moving forward. Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you (p. 60). 

Great Brand commit and Stay Committed. 

Focusing on the core of your brand – and staying committed to that focus – is key to building a strong brand. Organizations that stand the test of time must have a core ideology. Like the fundamental ideals of a great nation, church, school, or any other enduring institution, Jim Collins, writes core ideology in a visionary company is a set of basic precepts that plant a fixed stake in the ground: ‘This is who we are; this is what we stand for; this is what we’re all about’ (Yohn, D. 2014, p. 156). 

Brands are People too

With major celebrities, it’s difficult to tell where the product stops and the person begins. The brand equity of major celebrities (Oprah, Michael Jordan) is inseparable from their personal lives, which are documented in breathless detail in the magazines lining supermarket checkout aisles around the world. Having jumped from products to celebrities, it was only a matter of time before branding trickled down to the average citizen.  As the personal branding phenomenon works itself deeper into the fabric of modern life, it’s warping how we see each other, and how we see ourselves (Conley, L. 2008. 177). 

Organizational brand identity is still very much relevant as the demands of the customer evolve, so do the requirements of the business and how they reach consumers. In previous times, the process of creating a successful brand relied strictly on word of mouth, now however; brands can be made or broken in a matter of moments through tools made available through technology. 

Nonetheless, building a successful brand is similar to birthing a child. Nobody cares about growing pains they just want to see a pretty baby. That baby, my friend, is the success of your business.  

Resources: 

Brenner, M. (2018). Brand Storytelling Defined.Retrieved from: https://marketinginsidergroup.com/strategy/brand-storytelling-defined/.

Conley, L. (2008). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The Illusion of Business and the

 Business of Illusion.Philadelphia, PA. Perseus Books Group.

Patel, S. (2019). 9 Companies that are Killing it with Brand-Driven Storytelling. Retrieved from: https://sujanpatel.com/marketing/7-companies-killing-brand-driven-storytelling/

Solis, B. (2013). What’s the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences. Hobokon, NJ: Wiley.

Yohn, D. L. (2014). What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principals that Separate the Best From the Rest. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Never Ending First Impressions….

Add a post to your WordPress blog and embed the presentation in your blog post. In your blog post, you should accompany your SoundCloud with a written reflection of at least three paragraphs (500-1000 words) that describes (1) what you learned about the content you presented by making this presentation, (2) what you learned about media production by making this presentation, and (3) how you pushed yourself beyond your previous skills in media production to complete this project.

Impressions are made during the initial meeting, but they are built during our increased interactions with one another. I can count on both hands, how many times people have told me that they thought I was mean or “Stuck up” prior to getting to know me. These perceptions developed in their mind, likely based on stereotypical assumptions that derived from what they believed to be character traits for certain type of people. The problem is, those assumptions were formed based on non verbal communication, so they were flawed to begin with. 

This presentation on Goffman’s impression analysis, confirms how we have to be both careful and creative with managing our own impressions, and not falling victim to the impressions that others want to place on us. We have to control and shape our own narrative, if we are to remain true to our identity. 

Goffman gives us insight on how to do this through impression management, framing, footing, and face. These concepts shed light upon processes of relationship building, identification and image constructing. He analyses the relationship between interpersonal meanings and social structure, paying attenting to both the symbolic value of what is said and done and the more abstract forms of social life. Through his works, we are able to deepen our understanding of how the social world is experienced and reproduced (Ihlen, O., Fredriksson, M. 2018, p. 253). 

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Through the creation of this digital work, I was able to combine useful resources in order to try and tell a more effective and impactful story. I searched for videos that offered the content I needed in hopes that the audience could further understand my necessary plight of story telling. Consequently, to do so, I had to rely more so on my strengths such as vocal tone and presence to engage my audience past the first minute. Hopefully the fruits of my labor will be seen in the below video.

Resources:

Ihlen, O., Fredriksson, M. (2018). Public Relations and Social Theory. New York, NY.   Routledge 

What Does it Mean to be Better Together?

I must admit that part of the reason why I selected the aforementioned book by Robert Putnam as part of my review, is largely due to the title sounding more like a campaign slogan in this current political climate than a book about community togetherness.  Nonetheless, after reading each of the chapters, I found myself more intrigued with how despite the content varying from chapter to chapter, the overall message was pretty consistent throughout the book…”the framework for building relationships is built one by one”. 

Ironically, even though the book title seemed inviting like a 2020 campaign slogan, filled with interesting reads and hands across America like content, the esthetics of the book created a challenging barrier as it pertains to building a desire to even read the book….more less open it. I know it’s cliché to say don’t judge a book by its cover; however, the exterior of the book was so bland in nature, that I automatically assumed that I would be bored out of my mind trying to even engage in the content. I mean can you imagine having to do a book review, on a book that looks like it has no character; the exterior brandishing sandstone colors and not even the title is present to remind you that you’ve made a wise decision in your selection. That’s precisely how I felt immediately after I picked this book up from the library, no glee or excitement to be had, only the acknowledgement that there was work to do, and I had to do it by any means necessary. 

“Better Together: Restoring the American Community” by Robert Putnam& Lewis Fieldstein”

Early on into the reading, I almost felt like the girl who goes on a date with the nice guy even though she’s not physically attracted to him.  You may not have been swept off your feet from his appearance, but after getting to know him a little bit more through conversation, you realize that he’s a decent person, and you somehow feel slightly bad about your initial misgivings. In the same manner, this book made me realize that there is much to be seen and discovered behind the cover of a not so eye-pleasing book. 

Throughout the course of this book, Putnam utilizes several homegrown and localized success stories that embody the premise of social capital. Social capital can be understood as a metaphor derived from other types of capital. Unlike physical capital referring to objects, social capital refers to “connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trust-worthiness that arise from them” (Putnam, 2000, p. 19). Putnam argues that social capital is closely related to “civic virtue”, enabling people to trust, collaborate, socialize, establish communities and live together in harmony. There are two ingredients needed for social capital: repeated social contact and common goals (Ihlen, O., Fredriksson, M. 2018, p. 197).  

With a strong reliance on the foundation of social capital, we are able to dive into each of the examples that Putnam establishes as a model on how organizations stemming from churches to school systems, are able to build coordinated actions that will either strengthen their current communities or rebrand them as greater than before. What these and the other undertakings described in this book have in common is that they all involve making connections among people, establishing bonds of trust and understandings, building community. In other words, they all involve creating social capital: developing networks of relationships that weave individuals into groups and communities (Putnam, R., Feldstein, L., Cohen, D. 2003, p. 1). For Putnam, social capital is mutually enforcing. “Effective collaborative institutions require interpersonal skills and trust, but those skills and that trust are also inculcated and reinforced by organized collaboration” (Putnam, Leonardi, & Nanetti, 1993, P. 180).  

Read the remainder of the article here

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

This book can be found and purchased on Amazon.

Barnes & Noble, A Potential Casualty of a Social Media War….

This new age of social media, has the power to create instant and spontaneous change for both the good and the bad. Due to most of us having 24/7 access to our mobile devices, we are able to engage or entertain newsworthy events nonstop. We may often encounter positive or feel good stories such as military personnel returning home to surprise their families, babies dancing to Beyonce’s single ladies cover, or simply pay it forward acts of kindness that are shared countless times over. These acts often warm our hearts, but there are other instances where we are forced to take action based on information that does not shed organizations in the best light. 

Recently after watching a docu-series entitled “When They See Us”, about the trial and persecution of five minority teenagers who were charged with the rape and attempted murder of a Central park jogger in 1989, a social media campaign was initiated calling for the boycott of books written by former NY District Attorney Linda Fairstein. This was pretty significant as the series was not released on Netflix until this past Friday, and within a 48hr timespan the attack on bookstore retailers such as Barnes & Noble, had spread like wildfire. 

The Central Park 5

Barnes & Noble would have no foresight into the fact that by simply carrying some of the products of Fairstein, that their brand could be impacted by the matter. After all, they had no parts in the social media persecution of those young men; however, in order for Fairstein to receive the wrath that social media felt she deserved, they undoubtedly could become a casualty of war.

The below link, looks at how Putnam’s social analysis plays a part in connecting the dots between social media influence and public relations for Barnes & Noble. In order to avoid a media pitfall, the organization has to be strategic about the message(s) they convey to their consumers, in regards to the handling of this matter. Long gone are the days were companies could simply wait for crises to blow over, now they must address the issue head on and face the music.

https://youtu.be/2eOKDAjyBOk

Resources:

Burch, S. (2018, September 26). “Social Media, is a ‘Cancer of Our Time’, LA Times Owner Says. Retrieved from: https://www.thewrap.com/social-media-is-cancer-of-our-time-says-la-times-owner/

Ihlen, O., Fredriksson, M. (2018). Public Relations and Social Theory. New York, NY.   Routledge 

Johnson, C., Hackman, M. (2018). Leadership, A Communication Perspective.   Long Grove, IL, Waveland Press. 

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