Category: ISC Topics

Reflecting on my semester in Integrated Strategic Communication (COMM 306) there’s no doubt about how much I’ve learned about the world of public relations and strategically communicating. Coming into the course in January, my knowledge on the topic was very limited. Public relations was a very vague concept; I pretty much thought that PR was synonymous with the media. Almost four months later, I realize that my prior beliefs about public relations were far too narrow. There is so much that goes under the umbrella of strategic communication.

In my first ISC Topic, I defined strategic communication as “any type of media that needs to be strategically aimed at a certain audience”. I was correct in that this a big part of strategic communication & public relations. There is so much more than goes into it than simply aiming messages at various publics. Admittedly, I even cheated a little bit when I made my first post. I had a general idea about how I might define strategic communication, but took a gander at Chapter 1 in our textbook, Sietel’s “The Practice of Public Relations”.

Almost everything we learned this semester in class contributed in some way to my learning in this subject. As I said, I had little/no previous knowledge about ISC, so almost everything we learned was new. What made this course interesting was that a lot of the things we learned about were things that I was familiar with, I just had no idea what exactly they were and how intricate they are. The topic I found most interesting was the law as it relates to public relations. I’m studying organizational communication with a concentration in pre-law, so I’ve taken a few courses that covered many of the laws we discussed. It was very interesting to look at the law and how it applies to the court of public relations. It was also eye opening to see how similar the two are, while still having such distinct differences in their goals.


Taken from Google Images

The Shirley Sherrod case was one of the most significant cases of 2010. She was the Georgia State Director for Rural Development, and was pushed into stepping down and resigning from her position in the summer of 2010. Shirley Sherrod, an African American woman, went under fire after a blogger named Andrew Bleitbart posted some video excerpts of her making some racially degrading remarks about white farmers during a speech she gave at an NAACP event in March 2010. Following the videos being posted online, the NAACP criticized her for her remarks, and the U.S. government demanded that she step down from her position. At a later point, upon review of the full version of the video of her speech, Sherrod was apologized to and offered another full time position (which she declined). Sherrod proceeded to bring on a suit against blogger Andrew Bleitbart, accusing him of defamation.

Sherrod’s situation and eventual law suit was a monumental one in the world of strategic communication. The Shirley Sherrod case brings about issues surrounding the ever-growing world of online social media. Far too many people, including our own U.S. government, take things that they view on the Internet as bible and an absolute truth. The fact that literally ANYONE can put ANYTHING on the internet is far too often overlooked. We, as Internet users, need to take everything we see on the Internet with a grain of salt. It seems obvious that the video excerpts from Sherrod’s speech were taken completely out of context, and everyone immediately bought into these videos and comments that some random blogger posted on the internet.

This also serves as a warning for all strategic communicators. Firstly, that we need to be careful with our word choice. At any given point, one’s words can be twisted and distorted into something that wasn’t intended at all. Word choice is everything, so be careful about what you say. Secondly, and from the opposite standpoint, strategic communicators need to be careful about what you put on the internet. Truth in communication is at the forefront of importance. Don’t put anything on the Internet that could be misconstrued as distorted or twisted information, or you could end up like Andrew Bleitbart and be getting sued for defamation.


Having now almost completed my semester in COMM 306, there’s no denying how much I’ve learned about blogging and the field of strategic communication. I would offer future COMM 306 students 5 tips to succeed in this course (not in order of importance; they’re ALL important!):

1. Attend every Lab day – Skipping any class is always a very tempting idea for all college students, and I’m right there with you. But making sure to attend every lab day in COMM 306 is of utmost importance for you to pass this class and do well. Labs in this class are a huge part of your grade, and missing a single lab day can put you pretty far behind and eventually have a very detrimental effect on your grade. Labs are usually something that you need to be in class to understand and do well on. Take it from someone that made the mistake of missing a few labs, go to lab days.

2. If you don’t have one yet, get a Twitter account–go ahead and get familiar with tweeting – If you already have a Twitter, good. Twitter and tweeting is a big part of this class. You’re even aloud to tweet in class! You’ll want to take advantage of this privilege . Also, tweeting for PR is a big part of this course, so get ahead and start checking out some of your favorite company’s tweets. You’ll be doing a lot of tweeting in this class. This will give you a head start!

3. Read the Book – Keeping up with the readings in this class will be a huge contributor to your success in the class. If you’re like me, and always wait until the last minute to buy your books, avoid that habit in this class. Buy the book, you’re going to need it a lot. Keep up with the readings and do them before class. Coming into class with an idea of what you’re going to discuss will always enhance you’re learning; not to mention, cramming for this exam is a no-no, so keeping up with the reading will help you with this as well.

4. Don’t cram for the exams! – Tip #3 leads me into tip #4. Cramming for the exams in this class is a huge mistake. You may think that because Dr. McArthur is a super cool dude that his tests are going to be easy, don’t make this misconception. He is a super cool dude, but his tests are really hard! And you have to study really hard! Don’t depend on the Jeopardy answer sheet as your all inclusive study guide, it probably covers 10% of what is actually on the exam. Study a few days in advance, I know it’s a crazy concept.

5. Keep up with your blogs – I know I said that all of these tips are important, but this 5th and final tip is probably the most vital to your success in COMM 306. Do not get behind on your blogs! You might not think so at the beginning of the semester, but you will be extremely stressed out when exam week rolls around and you only have a few posts. Blog everyday, even if you only do one; don’t put it off , you will regret it. With that said, try to make the most of your blogging experience. Dr.McArthur will tell you how marketable of a skill this is to have, so put some time into your blogs and really try to polish your blogging ability. Who knows? It might get you a job someday.

ISC Topic #5

Product Placement
I think product placement can be an extremely effective advertising and  marketing tool when used in the right way. To the left, is an example one of  the many product placements in one of my all time favorite movies, Wayne’s  World. If you’ve seen this movie you probably know that the product  placements in it are more of a mockery of overly obvious ones that have been  used in the past. In older movies/TV shows characters might randomly pick  up their Tide and exclaim “I love my Tide laundry detergent! It always gets  all  of the stains out, and my clothes always smell so fresh!”. Product  placement  today isn’t nearly as corny and obvious; they are much more subtle, but still often times in our plain sight. When used effectively, product placement can serve as both a marketing and advertising tool simultaneously (or just one or the other). A single product can be marketed, a company’s name can be seen, and ideally both of these occur. MTV’s series, The Real World, is currently in the middle of a season where the roommates are living in Las Vegas. I don’t watch this show very often at all, but caught a couple episodes the other night and noticed that the roommates seem to eat every meal at Subway. How this deal was worked out I don’t know. Either Subway paid MTV a lump sum to have the show’s cast eat there, or Subway has just offered the cast free meals whenever they want. Anyhow, it seems like a clever move by Subway.
Brand Faces
The use of brand faces is a strategy that has proven to be effective for numerous companies. Rapper/actor 50 Cent was part of one the most lucrative endorsement deals of this past decade with Vitamin Water. He created his own flavor called Formula 50, and was featured in numerous TV commercials endorsing Formula 50 and encouraging people to try Vitamin Water. It wasn’t long after these commercials began appearing that Vitamin Water became wildly popular and developed several new flavors. As part of the endorsement deal, 50 Cent received a 10% share of Glaceau, the company which produced Vitamin Water, was bought by The Coca Cola Company in 2007 for a cool price of 4.1 billion dollars. As a part owner of the company, 50 Cent took home 400 million dollars after the deal. He’s probably made more money through his work with Vitamin Water than he has as a rapper and actor. The 50 Cent/Vitamin water deal is one of many success stories of effective brand face use. It also is a good example of a way a brand face effectively marketed a product and a brand all at once. 50 Cent was usually seen drinking his Formula 50 drink in the commercials, but also advertised for the Vitamin water drink as a whole. As a result, Vitamin Water became extremely popular, and Formula 50 became one of the most popular flavors.
Logos are one of the most simple and efficient forms of advertising. A good logo doesn’t just advertise the company, but also can create a company image. Logos can establish a click-whir response from consumers. In other words, when a consumer sees a certain logo, their mind automatically begins to associate that image with that company. The Apple logo is a prime example. The logo doesn’t just advertise apple; it has become an image representing prestige, innovation, and trendiness. There are MP3 players out there that are basically the same thing as an Ipod but cost have as much, but this doesn’t matter to most consumers. People are willing to pay the extra money just for that Apple logo, and to be able to say they own an Ipod. You pay for the logo. Logos are a big reason that brand names are so sought after, and some companies have made their fortunes thanks to almost solely their prestigious logo. Take Polo Ralph Lauren as another example. There’s nothing particularly better about a Ralph Lauren collared shirt compared to say, a Lands End collared shirt. Polo Ralph Lauren shirts probably cost 10 times what a Lands End shirt would cost you, for basically the same exact quality of shirt. However, people who can afford to do so will pay the inflated price just to have the little polo-man-horse-logo on their shirt. Logos are an extremely effective form of advertising, one that has always been used and will remain to be used in the future.


My Twitter Top 10

Still relatively new to Twitter. But of the 82 people I’m currently following, these are the 10 I find most entertaining/important/funny/interesting/worth following.

1. Vinny Guadagnino -Vinny, from the MTV’s “The Jersey Shore”, tweets about the most hysterical yet insightful things that make me smile numerous times through out my day.

2. Barack Obama– The 44th President of the United States; it’s always nice to know what the President’s doing.

3. Rev. Run – Reverend Run (Joseph Simmons of Run DMC & MTV’s “Run’s House”) tweets constant words of wisdom/pick-me-ups that I always find useful and encouraging.

4. Gary Williams – The future hall of famer & head mens basketball coach of my Maryland Terrapins; any Terp fan would be crazy not to stay in the loop with Gary and the Terps Basketball team.

5. Chadwick Formica – Chadwick, junior at Queens, is just a hilarious guy whose tweets you can’t help but laugh at; he is best known for his coining and frequent use of the #errant hashtag.

6. Brad Panovich – Brad is the Chief Meteorologist for WCNC Charlotte; he provides constant updates of the unpredictable and strange weather of Charlotte, NC.

7. Drake – one of the few down-to-earth and truly talented hip-hop musicians of this generation; he tweets some pretty interesting & intuitive stuff, not to mention I’m always curious as to what he’s up to.

8. Queens Athletics – for those of you who are huge Queens sports fans, like me, following Queens Athletics is a crucial part of staying up to date with all of the athletic teams and Queens athletes.

9. Russell Brand – I think it’s important to follow people that provide simple comic relief to your Twitter experience, and British actor Russell Brand does exactly that.

10. Charlie Sheen – Sheen might not have even been on my Top 100 list as of a few months ago, but given his current circumstances I couldn’t resist.