The Day After Election Day

By Rebecca Seylar, Editorial Director
The day after election day is always an interesting one. Prior to Barack Obama’s victory, I found myself caught in debates with my family, friends and coworkers on more than one occasion. Sometimes they were cool, calm and collected, sometimes they were heated. But the day after election day is different.
Although in some places it is an exciting and euphoric day, it’s also a day filled with some disappointed voters and many people threatening to “move to Canada.”
I would like to say I am very politically involved and educated, but among everything else going on in my life, politics isn’t always my number one. I care deeply about laws that ensure equality and uphold our rights in America. I care about a woman’s right to choose and that she deserves equal pay for equal work. I care about who runs this country, but I found it hard to always know exactly where each candidate stood on issues.
I found that social media, yet again, has made its way into a topic on the TGC blog, but how can it not come up when referring to such important issues? 
To keep up on the election, I ‘liked’ Facebook pages and followed news outlets, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Twitter. 
Although my beliefs may not align with other people that I am surrounded with every day, I like to think that we can all be objective and educated on subjects before we begin debates about them. Now that the next four years have been decided, I urge others to educate themselves before letting their preconceived political or religious notions get the best of them.
Election day is over, and the president for the next four years has been decided. The focus now should not be to insult and complain, but to seek information on how your voice can be heard and how to make a difference. 

How to Put Your Phone Down When You’re a Social Media Addict

By Amber Whiteside, Social Media Director
Surprise, surprise.
I tend to have a problem setting my phone down. When managing different social media accounts, checking emails and updating my own personal sites, it seems impossible to shut off that little black thing buzzing every second.
Even on vacation, I cannot help but upload that Instagram photo of my toes in the sand, or check in at a new restaurant I discovered. It seems I can never escape my phone. 
When a teacher asks students to shut off their phones, I think in my head, “Do you know who I am? How can I possibly shut myself off from the online world? It’s my job!”
However, everyone needs a break. I have attempted to teach myself how to put the phone down, so that you may learn as well.
1. Admit you have a problem 
Yes, this is bizarre and alludes to other “first steps” of addiction programs, but it’s very difficult to fix a problem if you can’t admit there is one. Even the famous Pomeranian named Boo has his version of a “digital detox.” If you want to see his cuter version on how to step away from your computer or phone, by all means take a look. I can’t blame you. He is one of the world’s cutest dogs.
2. Pick a time for escape
To help myself with this process, I told myself that I couldn’t go on the Internet for an hour a day. I found myself filling that time with more productivity. Instead of staring at your phone, go on a walk, do homework or go out with friends. It was a lot easier to write this blog when I had that hour without the buzzing of my phone in the background.
3. Shut off your phone when you go to sleep at night
Yes, I admit, this was a difficult one. I use my phone for an alarm clock and with a long distance relationship, why on earth would I let my phone be off all night? However, studies show computers and cellphones can interrupt your sleeping patterns. That bright screen you are staring at can wear you down and negatively impact the start of your next day. Buy an alarm clock and get some sleep. Remember there was a time when we did survive without screens lying next to us.
4. Spend time in the moment
My roommates yell at me if I am staring down at my phone when we are out at dinner. As much as I want to defend myself, it is rude when people ignore your conversation to look at their phone. Remember that personal connections are more important than online-socializing. Spend your time riding the rollercoasters at an amusement park, not uploading pictures along the way. 
Social media addiction is becoming an actual problem today. According to an infographic on social media addiction, refraining from retweeting on Twitter is more difficult than refraining from consuming alcohol or smoking. So make sure to give yourself a break. Those notifications, comments and emails will still be there.  

#HurricaneSandy Shows the Power of Social Media

By Mandie Niklowitz, Online Communications Director
As I’m typing this from my computer in sunny California, it’s easy to forget that Hurricane Sandy has been wreaking havoc on the East Coast all week. But all it takes is one quick look at my Twitter or Instagram to be reminded of what the East Coast has been going through.
Sandy’s wrath began Monday, causing destruction from North Carolina to Maine and creating a social media frenzy.
#Sandy was the number one trending topic on Twitter Monday with more than 4 million mentions.
On Facebook’s Talk Meter, which measures conversations about specific events, Sandy scored an 8.34 making it the second-most popular topic of the year. Some of the most popular terms being used on Facebook were, “We’re OK,” “damage,” and “power.” There was also a Facebook group created for Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts where users could share ways to help those in need and give each other words of support.
As of Wednesday, there were almost 1 million pictures posted on Instagram with the hashtags, #Sandy and #HurricaneSandy.
Sandy isn’t the first major news event to be covered by social media. When Hurricane Isaac hit earlier this year, similar Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags were created.
However, many believe Sandy is what will move Instagram to the big leagues with Twitter and Facebook. The mobile photo application, which was bought by Facebook for $1 billion earlier this year, has become the main destination for Hurricane Sandy photos.  
During the height of the storm, Instagram users were uploading 10 pictures per second with the hashtag #Sandy.
CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, told Forbes Magazine, “I think this demonstrates how Instagram is quickly becoming a useful tool to see the world as it happens–especially for important world events like this.”
I agree with Systrom, in today’s information-filled world, we pick and choose what we want to read. More than once I’ve found myself scrolling through Twitter or Facebook and not even reading half of the posts.
Instagram gives you a picture and a caption. There’s no extra fluff or fillers, yet scrolling through the #Sandy feed on Instagram says so much more than the same feed on Twitter.
It has always been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and after seeing the aftermath of Sandy posted on Instagram, I couldn’t agree more.
For a full collection of Hurricane Sandy Instagram photos, visit Instacane.com, or if you would like to help with relief efforts, please visit RedCross.org.

How To Be a PR MVP

By Jillian Luchsinger, Assistant Account Executive
As we reach the end of October, it also marks the end of my favorite season, the conclusion of the Major League Baseball season.
While most have festively celebrated October preparing for Halloween with traditional orange and black decorations, I have spent the month preparing myself decked out with the same colors for the World Series.
Growing up in the Bay Area in a family of avid San Francisco Giants fans, you can imagine my excitement through October as my team proceeded to win their way through six elimination games to clinch a spot in the championships.
Since I can’t play in the majors, I’ve always found my place in the stands and at games as a fan. My dream is to one day get called up for a Major League Baseball team so that I can participate and “pitch” in the best way that I can.
So as I screamed, cheered and celebrated my way through game four when the Giants swept Detroit in the World Series, I couldn’t help but think of the lessons that a public relations professional could learn from the sport of baseball.
1. You can’t always hit a homerun.
There is nothing more exciting during a game than seeing a ball get launched over the fence, but players can’t always approach the plate with the intention of hitting a homerun. Sometimes, it is more necessary for a player to hit a sacrifice fly or bunt in order for a runner to reach a base.
In PR, we always have the intention of getting the most coverage for our client. True, it would be much more exciting to get a client covered by a huge, well-known publication or network, but it can’t interfere with the smaller opportunities that we can find in the process.  
2. Going 3 for 10 is still a success.
In baseball, hitting 3 for 10 means a batter has an average of .300, which is a great achievement. That also means that the batter struck out 7 of 10 at-bats. Baseball players are taught to look more at the success of their plays, rather than failures.
In the PR industry it is rare that you will please your client every time you pitch an idea. Instead of getting frustrated because they don’t like 7 out of the 10 ideas you present, embrace the fact that they like three of them and build on those ideas. 
3. It’s going to be a while, learn to love your team.
As a professional baseball player you commit to 162 regular season games. This includes a lot of travel, long days and nights, and all-around an extremely substantial amount of time around the same group of people day in and day out.
The PR industry is well known for having unconventional hours and group work on client accounts. It is best to create a sense of camaraderie with the individuals that you work with. Whether you’re in the dugout or the office, you want to know that your team has your back.
4. Be ready when your number is called.
Throughout a season, a team can lose players for multiple reasons, from injuries to suspension. In such situations, it presents the opportunity for bench players to step up and become influential teammates and players.
You can hold many different positions on a client account, from account executive to graphic designer. Regardless of the position, it is important to remember that even if you’re just support on an account, at any time you can have the opportunity to step up and shine.
5. It’s a mind game, change your pitch.
Baseball is a game of deception. It is about the pitcher getting into the batter’s head and making him think something is coming, keeping him on his toes and making him second guess his approach.
When pitching an idea to a client, it is also all about getting into their head and figuring out what they want. It is possible that they won’t like your idea, in which case, you shake it off and change your pitch.
6. The Golden Rule
Always remember, the best players don’t always have natural-born abilities, but commit to hard work and have the desire to improve and succeed using the skills that they have.

What to Expect From Your PR Internship

By Heather Wilson, Assistant Account Executive
I am gradually approaching the last few weeks of my final semester as a PR student and one of the things I have really learned from my 16-year college journey is how vital and fundamental internships are before entering the challenging and exciting real word.  
As a graduating senior, I have held four different types of internships including entertainment, fashion, agency and nonprofit. There are several things I would like to share with you that you can expect from any PR internship. 
  • Real world experience: One thing that your PR classes do not teach you is real world experience.  At your internship you will be able to observe professionals and see what a PR job really entails.  The skills you will learn in your real world experience include utilizing media-centric databases, performing client research, preparing clip reports, coordinating and working special events, and helping with social media projects. All of these will give you a taste of the many skills and communication methods that are required to become a solid PR practitioner.
  • Remember you are only an intern: Like it or not, you may have to administer tasks that have nothing to do with PR such as printing, filing, organizing a closet or making name tags.  Try to take on these tasks with a positive attitude and remember sometimes you’re just the lowest person on the totem pole!
  • Contacts: No matter where you choose to intern, you will meet people, both fellow interns and general co-workers.  These people may be able to help you get your foot in the door post-graduation, so it is vital to continue networking once the internship is over.  

Journalism Gone Social

By Jonathan Menager, Assistant Account Executive
It should come as no surprise that technology has had a very profound impact on journalism. As tech giants such as Google (reporting 2012 Q3 consolidated revenues as high as $14.10 billion) begin to surpass traditional media companies in terms of financial earnings, the effect of technology on the field of journalism can’t be overlooked.
The youth of today can easily identify with companies such as Apple and Google, but ask them what McClatchy and Gannett are and you’ll probably get blank stares.
What about social networking? Surely, social networking and social media didn’t exist prior to computers or the Internet.
Social media and social networking are entirely new concepts that caught like wildfire practically overnight when Friendster first went live in March 2002. This phenomenon is still kept alive today, over a decade later, by popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
But don’t get confused about social media’s place within the walls of journalism. Social networking has come a long way from the Livejournals and MySpace pages of yore. Believe me, there are companies out there that will pay a great sum of money to do what most of us do for hours at a time each day–Network and blog online.
Prior to my transfer to Chico State, I worked at a social media marketing agency known as Fanscape based out of Los Angeles, and one of my tasks was content creation for the company blog DigitallyApproved.
If we look back 18 years ago, blogs were just starting out, but they were a far cry from the marketing tools they can be today. Technology and the Internet have begun to transform the way we read and receive our news in today’s society.
Social media are, in fact, changing journalism. Upon my arrival at Chico State, I found it strange sitting in class and learning about Twitter and receiving lectures on Facebook, but this is journalism today.
My Fanscape job relied heavily on what I had learned in my journalism classes, although the company I worked for was in no way associated with “news” per se.
The success of Fanscape’s blog meant more credibility for the company. More credibility meant more business.
That being said, news companies need technology just as growing tech companies need journalists. Social networking has become a useful outlet for newspaper companies that can no longer afford to print their papers and distribute them physically. What is now being coined as “social journalism” has become a very handy tool in virtually every news corporation’s toolbox.
It’s bloggers and journalists like me that help to push these trends and change the social scape. Citizen journalists are even able to post images of breaking news events and blog on the go from phones.
Journalism is changing, and with it, new opportunities are opening up for a more interactive and personalized news and information experience, all within just 20 years time.
What do you think the next 20 years will hold?

Why I Love Editors

By Molly Rose Livingston, Account Executive
An often unnoticed and sometimes under appreciated aspect of the writing process is the impact of copy editors. Journalism is not a solo task, and it requires a healthy working relationship between writer and editor.
For example, this blog was not something I quickly jotted down and posted online. It was passed through a stringent TGC editing process that usually includes two to three editors correcting grammar or suggesting edits. This editing process is extremely important. 
I am used to spending a few hours crafting a story and having it returned to me by my editor covered in red ink. It is a bittersweet experience, but I love my editor’s input because I know that no matter how great I think my story is, my editors can always improve it.
Everyone needs an editor. Sometimes I spend so long writing and editing a story that by the time I finally finish it, I don’t notice even the most blatantly obvious errors. This is when a fresh set of eyes and the unbiased opinion of an editor is so important.
Through their constructive criticism and critical eye for grammar, they always find a way to make my story better. Sometimes they help me craft a stronger lead or a more captivating closing, other times they simply correct an AP Style error I missed.
I’m lucky enough to work with editors at TGC who will take the time to educate me on my mistakes, which prevents me from making them again in the future. This has made me a better writer and allows me to turn in more complete first drafts. Now when I’m struggling with a sentence I think, “What would Chris suggest?” 
I appreciate my editors and everything they do during the writing process. They do not get their names published in the byline, but they leave their mark on the story.

PR Major? It’s Cheaper Than Law School!

By Lauren Fusco, Account Executive

I stumbled upon the term public relations as I was choosing between the two journalism options that were presented to me on orientation day.

As I listened to my future adviser explain what public relations was, I thought to myself, ”Sounds sociable, that’s right up my alley.” 
The first time I ever heard a clear definition of public relations was in my “Introduction to Public Relations” course my sophomore year at Chico State. Before that class, I categorized myself as a journalism student. Now, I like to think of myself as a public relations student.
Once I had a nice grasp on what public relations meant, I began to associate my major with people who were witty, smart and those who knew their way around the corporate world. I realized that a public relations practitioner must always say the right thing and know how to articulate their words through writing and verbal speech.
As a child my parents made the comment ”You better become a lawyer. You have so much to say and want everyone to hear your point of view,” on more than one occasion.
Now, as a senior approaching graduation I do not think of public relations the way I did as a sophomore, I consider it to be an art. An art that can take images, words and perceptions and project them into the world to shape an audience’s point of view. 
To me, a lawyer and a public relations practitioner try to achieve similar things. Both present information, facts and an overall image to persuade the minds of those who are judging your client.
Even though I won’t be presenting the work I create to a courtroom full of jurors, I will be presenting it to the world. Using words, verbal and written, I can convey the messages I want my publics to see. 
The art of law and the art of public relations share characteristics in my book. The upside to studying public relations is not only less student loan debt, but knowing how to present your work to virtually everyone in the world, not just those in a courtroom.

What Really is Fair Trade?

By Kelsey Hilton, Account Executive

October marks the ninth annual celebration of Fair Trade Month.

We hear about “going green” constantly in the media and reasons why we should be more sustainable from plenty of celebrities. But what really is fair trade?

According to Fair Trade USA, it means, “quality products, improving lives and protecting the planet,” or in just one word, “fair.”
 
I never heard of fair trade products or buying fair trade until I came to Chico my freshman year. I enjoyed my first piece of fair trade chocolate, not fully understanding what it meant or what it stood for.

I soon after learned the importance of buying fair trade and what it means to truly be sustainable.

Fair trade is an organized social movement with the purpose of bettering trading conditions and promoting sustainability.

Fair Trade USA certifies that producers conform to labor and environmental standards, linking farmers directly to companies and cutting out the middleman. Ultimately, fair trade is about justly compensating farmers and workers and strongly advocates for higher social and environmental standards.

Last semester, I worked as an intern for the Sustainability Collaborative program on campus, where I was able to expand my knowledge on sustainable practices, and even learned how to build my own compost.

This semester, as an intern for the Chico Peace & Justice Center I am helping the organization with its fair trade store which sells fair trade certified products to the community throughout the holidays.

Both of these experiences have introduced me to a new way of life. I now find myself scolding my parents for buying plastic water bottles, and I encourage them to buy local produce and use reusable shopping bags. 

Last year, Yahoo listed Chico State as one of the top five “green” colleges in America and was also included in Princeton Review’s 2013 “Green Honor Roll,” acknowledging “environmentally friendly” institutions, receiving the highest possible score.

When we choose to buy fair trade certified products, the lives of many farmers and workers are improved. It is not only a step toward a more sustainable life for you and for the planet, but also promotes fairness and equality for farmers and workers.

           It is never too late to start engaging in sustainable practices and applying them to your everyday life.

           Here are some easy ways to celebrate Fair Trade Month this October.

Why Sipping Tea Will Improve Your Life

By Kylie Munoz, Account Executive
To put it simply—I love tea.
Maybe it’s my grandmother. Since I was a little girl, she has always loved to serve me green tea when I’m not feeling well in one of her 40-year-old white china cups. Maybe that’s what has made me love tea so much.
Or maybe it’s just because tea tastes delicious.
From the traditional black and green teas, to oolong and herbal teas, I’ve tried and loved them all. The acai pom sparkling iced tea from Tea Bar & Fusion Café in Chico is a frequent visitor in my tumbler and a guilty pleasure of mine.
According to Teavana.com, a specialized store selling a wide range of tea products, there are seven different varieties of tea: white, green, oolong, black, herbal, rooibos and mate.
The differences among these teas are:
  • White tea is the purest, least processed of all teas and has very little caffeine.
  • Green tea is sometimes scented with flowers or mixed with fruits to create flavored teas and only has about five to 10 percent of the caffeine found in a cup of coffee.
  • Oolong tea is full of fragrance and is semi-fermented and has about 15 percent the caffeine in one cup of coffee.
  • Black tea is fully fermented and has about 20 percent the caffeine in a cup of coffee.
  • Herbal teas are typically caffeine free and can be put into three categories: rooibos, mate, and herbal fusions. 
Not only is tea delicious, but there are also many health benefits that tea can give to its consumers.
Healthcastle.com says studies suggest drinking tea may reduce the risk of gastric, esophageal, skin, and ovarian cancer. It can also prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels. 
Even with the many health benefits, I know there are still those that are loyal to the coffee bean. And if caffeine is your reasoning, then I suppose I see your point. Tea doesn’t have the same amount of caffeine as coffee.
However, tea comes in many varieties, may help keep your body healthy, and doesn’t contain the amount of caffeine which causes one to fidget.
So, as my grandmother Rosemary would say in a toast, “Arriba, abajo, al centro y adentro,” to tea!