Semester recap: What I learned in CAP 105

After a long and hard fought battle with this past semester, everything seems to be falling into place nicely. Between all the tests, papers, and projects, I have come a long way from where I started out this semester and have learned a lot. Most importantly, I enjoyed everything that I have learned and done not just in my CAP 105 class, but in all of my classes. Despite all the enjoyment I have had and learning that I have done, though, I am writing to reflect only on the things that I have learned from CAP 105; fortunately, there is plenty to report on.

From creating my very first blog, to conducting a sprint with some of my classmates, to working with Adobe apps like Photoshop, InDesign, and PremierePro, I have enjoyed everything that I participated in over the course of this semester.

Starting with this blog, I have enjoyed taking the time to jot down some of my thoughts on many interesting topics. Although some posts have had more of a specific focus than others, I have still enjoyed looking further into the important aspects of my career path and reflecting on my findings. Doing this has not only been eye opening, but has also taught me how I am fully capable of educating myself at times, and how much power I have over my knowledge. Taking the time to do research that is not only interesting but also plays in integral role in my future is empowering. Although this semester is coming to an end, that doesn’t mean I will lose the ability to further my education.

When working with classmates in a sprint, I have found that I can work very effectively with others, especially when I am placed in a role where I feel more comfortable. In my group, I was a co-leader with one of my classmates, as we worked together on leading our group to success. Although our group did not win the challenge, we still put up a good fight, and created a product worth being proud of.

As a co-leader, I found myself to be very comfortable leading my team in the right direction. Coming up with a blueprint or an outline of what we wanted our final product to look like was exciting and again, empowering. I enjoyed working with my team to create a product that we all believed in, and especially under my guidance. It helped too that my workplace-1245776_640teammates were so engaging in the process and worked well with my ideas; everything seemed to fall into place under my supervision.

Because this was a learning experience and I had never participated in such an activity, I am not ashamed of falling short of first place, although it would have been nice. As a learning experience, I found that I have a natural ability to talk with others rather than to others in an efficient and effective manner that bodes well in a team environment, especially under such time constraints. I am hoping to find myself in a similar role in the future.

Finally, working with some of the apps in the Adobe Suite, I found it to be refreshing, exciting, frustrating, and entertaining. Because I had used some of Adobe’s apps in the past, I had a somewhat smooth transition back into the creative world. I may have needed a slight refresher, but for the most part, I found myself using each app effectively.

In terms of my excitement and frustration, I came to enjoy using each application and was excited to get back into class and either try something new with it or build on what I had already been working on. I was proud of everything that I completed, but know that I could have done more with more time.

My frustrations came when something failed to go the way that I had hoped. Although I had a rather smooth transition back into the Adobe world, not everything came easily. I found myself struggling with a few minor things over the course of use app’s use, but always found a way to come around and make things come together the way I had hoped. That was what I found to be most entertaining: the struggles that I was able to persevere through.

Overall, I believe that CAP 105 helped me grow as a future advertising and public relations employee, and I am excited to expand on what I have learned here and eventually apply it to the real world and my career.

Matt Henkel | GVSU | 10 April 2017

Content with a purpose

Scott Kronick of PR Week made an important and wonderful point when he wrote that,

“…content with a purpose is about creating a portfolio of content across platforms and media that drives a business and reputational goal. If it doesn’t drive those hard goals, it’s just vanity publishing.”

Although he wrote this back in 2014, I believe that this remains true today. Nothing aggravates an audience more than hearing things that are just said to be said. A brand, a company, or an individual with a PR team should focus not so much on attention, but purpose.

I would be lying if I said it was always a bad thing to receive attention; in some cases, a business make receive attention that makes you more money than you could have ever imagined, but that doesn’t come with talent, but rather luck.

In my opinion, the best way to drive home an important point and make your message known is by having content with a purpose that is driven by a hard or set goal, similar to what Kronick said in his piece. I believe that creating a message, visual or text, must focus more on creating a positive outlook to bolster your reputation rather than hoping for random attention.

Leaving politics out of it, a modern example of poor public relations efforts would be with current US President Donald Trump. Again not picking sides, most people are aware of Trump’s constant use of Twitter, and what sort of backlash he receives for the things he posts. As the President of the United States, Trump is more than welcome to utilize Twitter and post as he pleases, however it would be a smart move by his PR team to review pending tweets of his, and decide from there whether or not it would be beneficial to him to say what he had planned.

Keeping these ideas in mind, it is important to also make note of when a PR team does a good job.

When Snickers ran their live advertisement during the Super Bowl this past February, they received a lot of negative feedback on it, but also a lot of attention. Although it is likely that the disgust with the advertisement did not turn away any consumers of Snickers, it did give reason for Snickers to make some sort of apology or acknowledgement of their failed ad.

Playing on the initial ad, Snickers had Adam Driver, the lead role of the first ad, stand in front of the camera and deliver an apology for the events that had occurred earlier. To further acknowledge their failures, they made light of the situation by having a worker in the back of the screen putting out the fires created before, which in turn constantly cut off Driver’s apology. These interruptions eventually irritated Driver to the point that he had to leave the screen and end the commercial.

Although it was clear that this second advertisement was more scripted than the original ad, it was still pleasing to see Snickers acknowledge what had gone wrong in their live ad.

A public relations team’s most important goal should be to create a more positive perception of whoever they are supporting, and focus on creating a purpose for reaching out to the public, just as Snickers did in their apology advertisement.

Matt Henkel | GVSU | 23 March 2017

Tech trends of 2017: Ads on mobile devices

After previously elaborating on multiple advertising and public relations tech trends that look to take place over the course of 2017, I thought that I would take the time to focus my attention on what I believe is the most interesting of the few that I covered: ads on mobile devices.

Although many of us are already familiar with the idea of seeing an ad or two on our phones every once in a while, 2017 looks to turn it up a notch and makes ads appear much more frequently on mobile devices.

Below, I have shared a collection of photos posted on Flickr, a video uploaded to YouTube, and a podcast uploaded to SoundCloud in which I build on this topic of ads on phones, and further share my insight on what 2017 looks to bring to the table.

Photo Collage (Flickr):

Tech Trends of 2017: Ads on Mobile Devices

Video (YouTube):

Podcast (SoundCloud):

 

Matt Henkel | GVSU | 2 March 2017

The connection between journalism, advertising, and public relations

Journalism: the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast;

Advertising: the activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services;

Public Relations: the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.

Aside from these three terms relating to a person’s profession, the important thing that they all have in common is the idea of providing the public with information. Along with each providing the public with information comes certain levels of bias, creating the correct image in the public’s mind, and strategizing ways to deliver these messages.

When it comes to journalism, the public likes to believe that journalists are relaying messages consisting only of fact and matter. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Although journalists are technically required to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, there are still ways for them to tweak the story in order for it to sound more appealing to and in favor of their company, brand, team, etc. For example, with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots recently defeating the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, sports writers across the country will all state the same few facts: the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to complete the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, winning 34-28 in OT; Tom Brady won his fifth Super Bowl; Tom Brady and James White broke multiple Super Bowl records; etc. Where journalists can manipulate the story is in how they tell these facts.

The newspaper in Boston the next morning may have more stories focused on the outcome of the game, it will discuss how the Patriots won the game, and will likely discuss how historic Super Bowl LI really was.

The newspaper in Atlanta, however, may not be so kind. Blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl is a bitter way to end a season, and the newspaper will likely reflect that. The newspaper will also acknowledge that Tom Brady won his fifth Super Bowl ring, and that the final score was 34-28 in OT. Here’s the catch: the Atlanta newspapers will likely fail to give the Patriots all the credit that is due, and will focus on how the Falcons lost the Super Bowl, rather than the Patriots winning it, and earning the trophy. In this way, the newspaper can still focus on their hometown team and tell the majority of the facts, but will do so in a way that fails to note how well the opposing team actually played.

When providing news through advertising, outlets like commercials, billboards, and other advertisements will also provide information to the public in a way that promotes their product or service in the most favorable way.

Reusing my previous example with the Super Bowl, the Patriots and Falcons participated in one of the most spectacular and exciting games of my life, and it was a joy to watch. Having rooted for the Patriots, I would love to have a “New England Super Bowl LI Champs” shirt to show that, however had I rooted for the Falcons, I would not try and find a shirt that said “Super Bowl LI Runner-Up.”

In advertising, the idea is to promote your brand as positively as you can, and to do so in this situation, the Falcons are more likely to promote merchandise that reminds their fans that they were the champions of the NFC, and that they at least played in the Super Bowl rather than promote gear that directly reflects the outcome—that’s what the Patriots are more likely to promote.

Being the best team in the NFL is an honor, and it would be wise for the Patriots to embrace that idea and share merchandise that reminds their fans of their accomplishments. For the Falcons, the same can be said about their accomplishments, however it would reflect different aspects of them. Examples of these advertisements can be seen on each team’s personal website: http://www.atlantafalcons.com/ & http://patriots.com

In public relations, the key concept is to specifically ensure that your products and clients maintain the most positive image possible. Using a new example (even though it still relates to the Super Bowl), Snickers has a lot of work to do after the stunt they pulled in their Super Bowl commercial. Although I am a big fan of Adam Driver, enjoy Snickers, and will not boycotting either of them any time  soon, there is still a need for Snickers to make up for what a disaster their commercial was.

Although they broke ground on airing something other than news in real time, received a tremendous amount of attention, and had many people talking about their candy and brand, it is still important for the Snickers’ public relations team to stay on top of any negativity the brand may face as a result of the commercial, and ensure that there aren’t any people who do choose to boycott their spokesperson or candy (again, I will not be one of those people).

If you have not seen the commercial yet, here is a link to it, as well as the brand’s attempt at apologizing for it later: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9M_wQDTTdk & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiQFIAQ-Bd8

To summarize the connections between journalism, advertising, and public relations, the important thing to keep in mind is that each is a professional manner in which news and information is provided to the public. Although each may present these things in different manners and assert different biases, all three focus provide justifiable information for the world that will preserve a positive image at the same time.

Matt Henkel | GVSU | 14 February 2017

2017: The twists and turns in technology

With each passing year, the entire world looks to innovate from top to bottom. In 2017, the world of advertising and public relations looks to do the same–through technology. Some of the most important or noteworthy trends that look to change the way advertising and public relations are done in 2017 are: advancements in virtual reality (VR), tweaks to the ways in which individuals can shop online, and unfortunately, a higher number of advertisements on mobile devices.

As for advancements in virtual reality, it seems like one of maybe three things can happen: one, virtual reality could become a huge success and you won’t be able to go anywhere or do anything without the assistance of some sort of virtual experience; two, VR could be minimally utilized and possibly be considered a waste of money; or three, and I think the most likely, is that VR will progress slowly and although it will be popular and fun to use at first, it will ultimately become necessary only in practical situations (likely in business) where you can get an idea of what a product or service will look like in your own hands.

Personally, I am excited to see what changes VR can make in our every day lives, and how it can effect businesses. What is even more exciting, is how easy the experiences can be created. Although the costs may run high and we cannot be too sure how limited the equipment will be when it is further advanced, we already have incredibly powerful technology to offer interested individuals the opportunity to go on virtual adventures in their own homes. For more on how that could become a reality, I have found an insightful page that breaks down some of the steps to get your experience started: http://www.techradar.com/how-to/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/how-to-turn-your-smartphone-into-a-virtual-reality-headset-1317655.

As if America wasn’t already lazy as heck, 2017 looks to find ways to make us even lazier. According to Mashable.com, people are now able to not only shop online for their favorite music and clothing brands, but also for food ( http://mashable.com/2008/06/05/online-grocery-shopping/#.8siz4MGRgq7 ). With dozens of different sites offering multiple types of foods to shop for, people can now trade the long lines at the grocery store for a few taps on the screens of their smartphones to buy their groceries online. Although the convenience of this new way of shopping is one that many can appreciate with the ironically busy lives of Americans, I also worry that individuals are becoming so increasingly reliant on technology that the world depicted in the movie WALL-E is slowly becoming a reality–and NOT a virtual one.

With the idea of grocery stores becoming less pertinent to our day to day lives, the opportunity for advertising companies to shift their focus to the mobile world is now. Although ads, spam, and pop-ups on phones can lead some of us to wanting to break our phones in half, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of companies slowing down in the near future. According to a story from Clearcode ( http://clearcode.cc/2017/01/5-ad-tech-martech-trends-for-2017/ ), Robert Brill of BrillMeida.co stated in a Q&A that 2017 is likely to have “three fourths of the $32B programmatic spending” go towards mobile device advertisements. In my opinion, this is not only a smart move for advertising companies to make but also the right one. With the world is becoming so heavily reliant on their phones, it only makes sense that advertisements follow the eyes of the consumer, and if their eyes are no longer focused on the world around them, ads have no other place to go than right in the consumers hands. Although this may not be the most popular change for most people, it definitely makes sense.

Overall, 2017 doesn’t look to be too different than in years past. Although there may not be so many changes that we become unfamiliar with our surroundings, the world looks to become simpler and more convenient for the individual. With virtual reality experiences that allow you to become more familiar with a product in your own home, shopping online for more than that new pair of shoes you’ve been wanting, and enough ads to make you feel like you’re still in line at the store, technological trends in 2017 look to change the world.

Matt Henkel | GVSU | 2 February 2017

What I hope to gain from CAP 105

CAP 105 will cover many new fields for me, including basic information to take note of, applications on computers that I am new to, or even new ways to apply the work from an application that I am already somewhat familiar with. Over the course of this semester, I hope to learn more about the basic facts and ideas within the world of technology in advertising and public relations, learn more about how to use the applications and tools that will be utilized in the class, as well as how to apply them to the real world and my future career.

In high school I took a digital imaging class where we used some of the applications available in Adobe Suite. Over the course of using each one, I came to find that I was better at some than others and found some to be easier than others too; but regardless of my success with the apps, I enjoyed seeing what I could do with each application and looked forward to utilizing themphotoshop-1065296_1920 at some point in the future. Unfortunately, I have not had access to any of the applications in the Adobe Suite collection, and this semester will be the first time since then that I will be utilizing these apps. I am excited to see how much I still remember about these programs and applications, as well as how much I will be able to grow from them the second time around.

As for basic information, I want to become familiar enough with the applications used over the course of the semester that I am able to help or even teach my peers in the future with how to use these same programs.

Seeing as how my career will be in advertising and public relations and today’s technology is only becoming more sophisticated and utilized more frequently, it only makes sense for me to understand it all the best I can now rather than later. Minimally, I would like to use all of these programs and applications on my own without any help, whereas my highest goal is to be one of the best in the class with these resources and put myself ahead of the curve now.

Matt Henkel | GVSU | 24 January 2017