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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Communicating with the Class of 2016

Each August for the past 14 years, Beloit College, a small liberal arts school in my home state of Wisconsin, has released their Mindset List for the incoming class. Originally created to help faculty "beware of dated references," it is now eagerly awaited throughout the world. The website gets over a million hits each year. 

For boomers, like me, who grew up with typewriters, mimeograph machines and Howdy Doody, the world the class of 2016 lives in is phenomenal and a bit surreal. 

Just think, those born in 1994 probably never had a paper airplane ticket, looked up a topic in a set of bound encyclopedias, listened to music on an 8-track or took a photograph with a film camera. They don't carry their luggage through airports -- they roll it. They don't type -- they text. The year the class of 2016 was born, Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer to use the new PowerPC Microprocessor, Bill Clinton delivered his first state of the union address and NFL star O.J. Simpson fled from the police in a white Ford Bronco. For them, Richard Nixon, Kurt Cobain and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis have always been dead. 

The class of 2016 lives in a 24/7 news cycle but doesn't read newspapers. They watch television everywhere but on a television set, and they get most of their information online at the time and place of their choosing. Their smart phones have more capability than the building-size computers of my day. Most of the incoming class of '16 enter college with some hearing loss. And the list goes on.
To see the entire list, go to:

What icons resonate for you when you think about the Class of 2016?

~ Paula

Friday, August 17, 2012

Who Says We're Fat?

Look who’s calling us fat! At the London Olympics, a clever Brit had a booming business selling totes that said ‘I’m renting my flat to a fat American family.’ I’m torn as to whether or not that’s an improvement over some of us being labeled as ‘Ugly Americans,” but it’s definitely accurate.

The CDC recently released data from 2011 ranking American obesity rates by state. Colorado wins the race for the least obese populace – weighing in at 20.7%. California’s obesity ranking is 5th best at 23.8%, while my home state of Minnesota holds down 15th place with 25.7%. The state of Mississippi should sign up a high percentage of their citizens for “America’s Biggest Loser” because its number leads the obesity pack at 34.9%. But the Brits don’t have a lot to crow about either since their adult obesity rate hovers around 26.1%.

There’s obviously a lot of work that needs to be done to get the people of our country back down to a healthier weight. Hopefully through education about what’s in the food we eat and the beverages we drink and increased physical activity, we’ll start to see those figures go down.

 ~ Sharron

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Do Parents Think in ROIs?

Did you see the article that boasts how California is home to the most medaled U.S. Olympians? That’s pretty impressive. It makes me proud to live here. But as a parent, watching the Olympics with my own children, most notably Gabby Douglas’s road to fame, I kept thinking about the sacrifices parents had to make by investing in their children’s future, and if they thought about their return on investment (ROI), because let’s face it, a parent’s major investment is in their child or children’s future.

It seems so insensitive to write about children and ROI in the same sentence, I have to admit, I’ve been in the company of parents who paid good money for their children to play sports with dreams of them becoming professional athletes. And to a small degree, I can understand that thinking when you start to add up the time parents spend on taking kids to practices, gas for the car, uniforms, practice gears, sports equipments and snacks – lots and lots of snacks. As you watch these children ingest their dose of sugary drinks and cheesy corn puffs, you start to wonder when do you start to see some return on investment?

For Gabby Douglas, winning the Olympic gold was her dream, and now she inspires many to follow in her path. We all define success differently. This is a good reminder, especially for organizations that are jumping on the bandwagon wanting the latest social media campaign but not understanding what it is and how to measure it. Define your success. It is not enough that you want this because everyone else is doing it. A defined goal and support will keep you focused. Gabby’s mom made numerous sacrifices, including making her training a financial priority and sending her off thousands of miles away from home. Her ROI, especially emotionally and physically, paid off. She did it because she shared the same goal with her daughter. We all want to be the best and have the best, but in the end, it’s about what you’re willing to risk to reach your goal.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nursing Your Sweet Tooth

Don't think sugary beverage consumption is that big of a problem in our country? This infographic should put it in perspective . . .

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Are real photographers just like Kodachrome – GONE!

This is for all the public relations people who use photographers

(And to any professional photographers who read this – please take note)
RIP Kodachrome 1935-2009
In public relations we often need photos for what is called editorial purposes. They need to be properly exposed, in focus, with good composition. A good bit of imagination also helps. These are photos that will be used to help illustrate a news story.
Just like the old adage says, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” a photo can really help get a point across and support a story. Photos also make any story or publication more interesting and inviting to any reader who comes across it.
Most of the time editorial photos will not be displayed any larger than 5x7 in print or less than a quarter of the size of a typical computer screen displaying a website. Minor imperfections that won’t fly for an 8 X10 on someone’s desk or a 20X24 hanging on a wall are just fine and will go unnoticed in this use.
I recently needed to find a photographer to do a head and shoulders shot for a contract that was going to be submitted by a client. A quick and dirty project you might say. It took me five phone calls before I found a photographer who would take a portrait and allow the person to leave with the photo on a disk without waiting a day. All the other photographers wanted to do ‘post production’ work on the photo so it would be at least a day before they could provide a photo.  I guess ‘post production’ is code for, “I need to fix the photo because I really can’t do it with the camera alone.”  The way I see it is that four photographers turned away work because they couldn’t take a photo with a camera that didn’t need to be fixed afterwards.
I understand the desire to remove the photos that don’t come out, those that are blurry, wrong exposure, etc. Nobody wants to show their mistakes. I also understand the desire to make a really good photo even better. I’ve done some incredible things with Photoshop myself. But shouldn’t a good professional photographer be able to take photos they are proud of without the need of ‘post production?’ And what if, after seeing samples of the photos and saying they are fine as is, a photographer insists on delaying delivery while they do post production work you feel isn’t necessary for your purpose?
Back in the film days there were times I hired photographers to do a photo shoot for me and at the end they handed over the undeveloped film for me to process - and the pictures came out great! Now those were photographers who were sure of their work!   So why are they so hard to find today?   Are my expectations unreasonable?