Constant Changes in Communications

It’s amazing how fast 11 weeks can fly by. One second you’re learning about Web 1.0 and the next you’re logging out of your last live session. It’s really been a whirlwind of a semester. The biggest takeaway? I knew this day and this question would come…but it doesn’t make it any easier to answer. So instead I will share some thoughts.

One theme is consistent throughout this semester is that of constant change. One of the biggest things I will take away from this course is just how much change we have seen in the digital communications field. Even in the span of just one year. Our technology and needs as consumers are intertwined and constantly changing and I don’t think this will be slowing down anytime soon.

 

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I also think we will continue to see a shift in the use of storytelling and video content as a means to draw in consumers. Who doesn’t love a good story? It’s a win-win. Though I think the lines of this delivery will become blurred. Example: when you listen to a podcast you may notice when they take breaks it sounds like another podcast instead of an advertisement or commercial. Advertisers are shifting their content based on their consumer’s interests. I think this will continue to happen as companies try to relate to us.

I am also super curious to see where we go in terms of net neutrality. Up until now, the internet has operated off of the idea of an open and free internet. But now this is changing and being challenged by the FCC. Will the ideas of fast lanes where we are forced to pay for speed come to fruition? Will we become victims of a digital divide if people who can afford the internet will have access to things faster and the poor don’t? Will we become divided based on the speed we can afford? That is a scary thought. Something I hoped we wouldn’t have to consider.

Will a new form of social media arise? If so, will it stand up to goliaths like Facebook and Twitter and survive?  So many questions!

Ultimately, I think it’s fascinating to think about how much we have changed as consumers. We rely so much on the internet for everything. I’m not sure this will ever grow old.  Smartphones will continue to dominate and consume our lives. Our digital dependency will keep advertisers happy and the internet thriving. I’m excited to see what the future holds and what changes will come!

Farewell, first semester!

The Power of Words

Storytelling will never go out of style. It’s no fad or trend. It’s a way of life. It is how we share our experiences and relate to one another. The use of words in a story can be really powerful and profound. I think we as consumers embrace emotion and to be entertained and a good story can always help achieve these things.

Stories drive change. They make us as humans feel things or question things that we may have not before. This is why storytelling has been such a critical thing in the communications field. A good story can really change a person or capture their attention if you tell it correctly.

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Think of big brands. They are moving towards storytelling in their ads and commercials because they want to connect with you. They want you their story to resonate with you and make you think of their brand the next time you are out and see their product. Storytelling allows you to really reach people and draw from their life experiences, which is why when it is done carefully it can have such a big impact.

Storytelling is something that has been around forever and is still evolving. Yes, cavemen used to draw stories in their caves, and here we are years later doing the same thing with our friends (not in caves, in rowhomes now.) Storytelling is in our nature to do. Who doesn’t love a good story? This is why when a company creates a story that generates buzz its interests us because odds are you will have an opinion on it (good or bad) and that’s worth sharing.

Stories leave us with a lasting impression, which is why they are so important to us. Now we have social media to share our stories as well.

A Note to Future Journalists

Dear Future Journalist,

If I were in your shoes (once upon a time I was) I would be taking a great interest in the various types of social media and apps that are most popular right now for journalist and news organizations. After analyzing those (think about what’s worked and what hasn’t) I would try to think about the future of Journalism and imagine what the next best thing is. Journalism has evolved so much just this year alone, so always stay on your toes and try to stay on top of what Web 4.0 will bring.

Stay informed. Fake news is everywhere. You need to make sure the sources and news outlets that you are following are credible. Otherwise, one wrong tweet could potentially jeopardize your career.

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Get into big data! If it’s not too late take a data-science class at school. The use of big data is popular right now and only going to become increasingly so. If you want to make sure you are a well-rounded journalist then jump into learning about data-driven journalism. I know math may not be your strong suit (or mine) but the numbers are important in aggregating trends and really can be used to your advantage in creating visuals. I think we are going to see a lot more coming from data-driven journalism so if you’re interested in it, jump in!

Always think of the audience you are trying to reach. In a society of smartphones everyone has a story and a voice, so how will you make yours stand out? Interaction is key.

Focus on your passions. Pick an area of journalism that you really are interested in and start networking. Networking is everything in this industry. Every person that you meet is important so don’t take these people (or your professors) for granted. They were once in your shoes.

Lastly, don’t give up! When I graduated and took my first job at a local news station I learned so much about myself and the news industry as a whole. While it didn’t turn out to be my dream job it presented me with an opportunity to use my education and experience for something better suited. Change is inevitable in journalism so this is something you have to embrace. Competition is fierce so If you can make yourself stand out amongst the next journalist this will take you far. Be bold and fearless!

Data Data Everywhere…

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Data is everywhere. It surrounds us and can be used in so manyyyyy ways. So it’s no surprise that the use of Big Data is critical for the customer service experience.

Because everything is accessible and at our fingertips, it is more critical than ever for companies (big and small) to use data to connect with their consumers. I think the days of sending shopping coupons through the mail are over. I think sites must customize themselves in order to lure and attract customers. There are too many options out there so companies must stand out, and utilizing big data can help with this.

I think the more customized a company can make itself to accommodating and anticipating my needs as a consumer the more likely I am to be loyal to them.

Think about Target. Who doesn’t love Target? It’s a money trap the second you walk in the door. I use their cartwheel app every time I shop in their stores. This app allows me to scan or search for coupons that I will only find only in the Target store. I feel like anytime I find an item through this app it’s a deal and a win in my book. Furthermore, after using cartwheel Target will use the data from my cartwheel app to send me personalized emails based on my shopping habits. Sure, this is creepy, but you’d be surprised how often these emails serve as reminders for me to fuel my shopping addiction and return to their store. In this case, they are using the data from my purchases to anticipate my next visit.  They are catering to my needs (or wants) and this works.

Other ways that companies can improve their customer service are by providing incentives for you to come back based on data collection that they find. Whether it be a loyalty card that allows you special rewards or a monthly digital coupon, companies have to make you feel like you are important and valued by them. Otherwise, we won’t feel tied to them and will just continue shopping around to the next store. I also think companies should try to update their ways of gauging customer satisfaction through technology. I think I’d be more prone to respond to a text with a few prompts and a promise of an incentive at the end vs. an old school survey. Obviously, you’d have to share your phone number to take part in this survey, but it seems like less of a hassle than being bombarded by random emails.

Much like the digital technology around us, companies must evolve in order to meet the insatiable needs of their customers. They must think outside of the box. They have to use their data to understand who is shopping in their stores and why. If they can paint an accurate picture of their consumer then they can stay one step ahead of their competition.

Media Monopoly

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“Minority and Female Media Ownership: Why it Matters” what a shocking read. It felt like an eye-opening wait is this really true moment for me. Sure, I realize that the vast majority of media conglomerations and owners are predominantly white, but I reallyyyyy didn’t realize that women and minorities are basically invisible in the graphs showing owners by race and gender. As of 2012, only three percent of minorities owned a commercial broadcast television station. That dismal number just means fewer opportunities for a diversified group of people. It’s hard to fathom.

Women and minorities are struggling to take ownership of stations, especially as companies consolidate, making the odds stacked against them.  The data is there to prove it, but owner regulation doesn’t seem to be the topic of major discussion right now.

A quote that stuck with me from this article said, “The point of diversity in ownership is to increase the variety of voices in the public sphere, which the FCC is required to do as part of its mission in the public interest.”  Sooooo where is the FCC in this encouraging diversification? It seems like we are more concerned about major mergers than making sure the voices of all people are heard. It’s truly a shame for a society that regards itself as a melting pot of cultures and people.

Bridging the gap on the Digital Divide

To learn what we don’t know we must be educated. This rings true when I think of ways to solve the digital divide. The digital divide is described as “the growing contrast between the “information haves,” those who can afford to purchase computers and pay for Internet services, and the “information have-nots,” those who may not be able to afford a computer of pay for Internet services.

How do we bridge this gap? I think we do so through by starting in our school’s with education. By promoting the use of Internet in our schools and libraries we would be able to train and inform all types of people regardless of age. I think this training would be offered in all schools, campuses, and libraries for the public. The training would not only show basic use and understanding of the Internet, but it will specifically help people understand the benefits of using the Internet. This training would also contain curriculum that shows the evolving use of the Internet. By keeping the information up-to-date it would hopefully create buzz and interest.

I think it’s important that we all remain informed and on the same playing field when it comes to using the Internet. The information highway has lots of lanes and we all deserve to have the ability to drive on it. Without this resource, we limit our ability to know what is happening around us.

Digital Dependency

I remember back in the late 90’s when my parents purchased our very first computer. It was massive and took up the side of our living room. It featured dial-up Internet through AOL, and boy was it slow. Fast-forward to 2017 and I get impatient when a YouTube clip doesn’t start playing after 5 seconds…Times have changed.

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We are a society that is digitally dependent. The main culprit you ask? Social media. I believe it’s because of the Four C’s: Communication, Connections, Convenience, and Creating Content. (Can you tell I’m a fan of alliteration?)

Using social media allows you to chat with whoever we want, whenever we want! You can’t go wrong with a platform that allows humans to chat. We also feel closer to one another by having the ability to share or view each other’s activity on social media. Maybe you forgot to call your college friend on their birthday? Well lucky for you Facebook will remind you it’s their special day and you can quickly write on their wall like you didn’t forget. Every social media platform makes connecting easy. You can’t beat easy.

We also have the freedom to post and create content as much as we want. In a society driven by “likes”, it’s no wonder that having a platform that promotes this would be popular. There’s always something new to see or scroll by on social media, it’s a fun escape and that is why it is so alluring and addicting to use.

Social media has grown so quickly because our needs as consumers in the digital age have forced it to. We thrive on knowledge, gossip, news, and real-time updates. We need to know what’s happening at all times and depending on which social media platform you’re using you get some form of that.

Our need for speed has fueled our digital dependency. We will have to buckle up and see what the future holds.