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On one rainy evening in November, six friends, including myself, were hanging out, having a grand ole’ time, when one of them suddenly had an epiphany.

Tyler Macklin, a University of Oregon electronic media major, realized that everyone who was hanging out had something in common: they were all involved in the field of media, and not only that, but they all brought different media skills to the table.

To make a long story short, those six individuals now make up Altered Impact Media (AIM), a freelance full service production company based out of Eugene, Oregon.

Currently AIM is in the process of making its Web site, gaining clients, and establishing a presence in the Eugene market.

Now that I’ve talked about how AIM came to be, I will tell you what we “AIM” to do.

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Altered Impact Media (AIM) is an innovative, cutting-edge media production company. We AIM to provide our customers with professional media services at competitive prices.

AIM strives to create distinctive, individual, and fresh presentations for our clients. We offer a wide variety of media services for every production demand, including graphic design, professional audio and visual services, public relations, and imaginative conceptualization of ideas through creative collaboration.

AIM comprises a passionate team of media professionals who are dedicated to producing high quality projects. With our experienced and qualified video editors, digital effects artists, audio experts, and strategic public relations professionals, AIM provides you with economical professional excellence.

Most importantly, we love what we do. Our quality projects and the lasting relationships we build along the way are testimonials to the passion and skills we offer.

If you have the vision, we have the ambition and ability to make others see it, and respond to it.

Discover what we can do for you: check our Web site to view our professional portfolios and contact information.

Be remembered, and use AIM for impact.

Check out our demo reel to get a feel for what we can do.

AIM is in the works of finishing our first client’s project, which happens to be making a book trailer for “Glory Rose and the Gloaming,” the book I have been doing PR for. My previous blog post goes into more detail on this project.

Also check out our Web site at www.alteredimpactmedia.com

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As I mentioned in a previous post, Eugene filmmakers, Tyler Macklin and Michael Miller, are in the process of producing a video book trailer for the fantasy novel I have been promoting, “Glory Rose and the Gloaming.”

The story follows the adventures of a pink-haired, outcast fairy named Glory Rose, who sets out on a dangerous mission to save her magic world, The Ensorcelled Realm, from the evil sorcerer Bassarab. Along the way she encounters an interesting assortment of creatures, including giants, trolls, leprechauns, kelpies, pixies and even a wise old dragon. The most recent review of “Glory Rose and the Gloaming,” was featured in the Register Guard’s “Book Picks” section on March 2.

Here is the initial story board of the trailer.

Drawn by Tracey Gill

Drawn by Tracey Gill

The filming for the trailer was completed on March 11, and is now in the post-production phase. Macklin and Miller will be busy editing and creating the many special effects.

Here’s a sneak peak of what they’ve gotten done so far.

Let us know what you think about it. We would love to hear your feedback.

In public relations, reaching out to the community and getting involved is often an important, common objective for many clients. Whether you’re doing PR for an organization that is active in the community, or you’re a PR student trying to find ways to use your PR skills to help out someone for a resume booster, the community is almost like a member of the family in the field of public relations.

Sharon Brandsma’s story is no different.

In September 2008, Brandsma finished writing, illustrating and co-publishing Glory Rose and the Gloaming. Since then, she has been busy with many book signings, marketing tours, agent meetings, a TV appearance and trying to finish writing Glory Rose’s sequel “Glory Rose and the Book of Shadows,” which is due out next fall.

Glory Rose and the Gloaming has inspired many local citizens to get involved and support Brandsma on her adventure and journey to becoming a nationally recognized author.

Recently University of Oregon electronic media major, Tyler Macklin, produced a news segment featuring how the local community of Eugene is involved with Glory Rose and the Gloaming.

So, here it is! Hope you enjoy, (you might recognize a familiar face).

How do you get involved with your local community? Tell me your story.

I know that I have been on a blogging hiatus for more than three weeks now, but with the holidays, and my last college term plus two internships at The Ulum Group and KEZI starting up, I have been keeping busy to say the least.

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared any news on Glory Rose and the Gloaming, and it’s certainly time to update everyone because I have some very exciting news!

As many of you know, I began doing freelance PR work for Sharon Brandsma, author of Glory Rose and the Gloaming. In the time that I have been working with the book, the local awareness and success of the book has

Sharon Brandsma

Sharon Brandsma

substantially increased. Because of all the online archived stories from newspapers, as well as my blog and other social media efforts I’ve used, Glory Rose has a well-paved digital footprint. In fact, because of its “searchability” on the Internet, Brandsma was contacted by an interested, high-profile book agent. To make a long story short, Brandsma now has Sidney Kramer as her official agent. What’s really exciting is that Kramer is not just an any book agent; he is experienced and recognized. In 1945 Kramer helped co-found Bantam Books, which is a major U.S. publishing house owned by Random House. He was also named as having one of the top literary agencies, Mews Books Ltd., for fantasy novels. Bantam Books is part of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group and publishes fiction, nonfiction, mystery and suspense, science fiction and fantasy, romance and erotica and health books. Some of the current Bantam best sellers include “Light of the Moon” by Luanne Rice, and “The Appeal” by John Grisham

While the excitement of all of this is great, the anticipation and mystery is a bit distracting and preoccupying to Brandsma. The book is currently being “shopped” in New York City. The process of “shopping” a book on the market, especially in these economic times, can often take a long time. So as you can imagine, Bransma is optimistic, yet feels a bit stuck as well. When we talked last weekend, we joked about how wonderful all this is; however now, “we wait.”

In the meantime, Brandsma will be keeping busy with books signings, and trying to finish the second novel in the trilogy. Randi Bjornstad, the Register Guard reporter who wrote the first media coverage on Glory Rose, is going to write another feature story on the updates of the book, which is coming out right before Brandsma’s book signing at Tsunami Books on Jan. 24. We’re hoping to draw a large crowd for that signing because there is going to be an “in character” reader, as well as a local dijeridu musician playing background music. The Oregonian is also going to do a book review on Glory Rose in the next few weeks.

There is also a short teaser trailer in the works of production, which is going to be similar to the style of an attention-grabbing movie trailer. Tyler Macklin and Michael Miller, the two filmmakers I blogged about awhile ago, are the videographers that Brandsma has hired to work on this project. Within the next few weeks, the filming will begin.

So there you have it, all the current news on Glory Rose and the Gloaming. I will certainly be keeping you all updated on Glory Rose’s journey to success! Until then, if you haven’t already read Glory Rose, then you should. Look at it this way, if the book goes big, then you will have yourself a first edition (collectors’ item) copy of the book!

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Book poster that Tyler Macklin and I created

Merry Christmas from the Pacific Northwest! I want to wish everyone a healthful, cheerful and peaceful holiday season.

Merry Christmas from the top of Spencer's Butte in Eugene, Oregon.

Merry Christmas from the top of Spencer's Butte in Eugene, Oregon.

If you have a few minutes to spare, check out these videos. They are from the documentary “Playing for Change: Peace Through Music.”

“Stand By Me”

“One Love”

“I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for oneself, one’s own family or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility is the key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace.” –The Dalai Lama

drunk-driving-1During the holiday season, it’s probably safe to assume that most of us will attend at least one holiday party. Whether it is a Christmas work party or an annual family reunion, it’s typical for alcoholic beverages to be on the guest list. For some, it is one of the only times of year where it is acceptable to get “buzzed” in front of your boss or grandma; however, sometimes, people take this too far.

As many of you may know, the holidays can be one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year due to impaired driving. In December 2007, 992 people were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s why every year around this time the NHTSA and www.stopimpaireddriving.org use aggressive marketing strategies to achieve real results.

Starting in 2006, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and NHTSA launched the first-ever December holiday season advertising campaign “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.”helmet4

I’m sure that most of you have seen this ad by now.

Although I think this commercial is creative and to-the-point, I find it odd (and a bit misleading) that the USDOT and NHTSA only use one target demographic: 25-30 year old men. While this is a great image booster for teenagers and adult women in their 20s and 30s, it’s not an accurate, complete portrayal of the drunk drivers on the road. According to the NHTSA, “Young, white male drivers account for a large share of the alcohol-crash problem….Research continues to show that young drivers are more often involved in alcohol-related crashes than any other comparable age group….The highest intoxication rates in fatal crashes were recorded for drivers 21-24 years old (27 percent), followed by ages 25- 34 (24 percent) and 35-44 (22 percent).” Sure, men may be the most stereotypical demographic to drive drunk, but that doesn’t mean that women do not.

Maybe I’m being nitpicky, but I feel that USDOT and NHTSA could have produced a more accurate drunk driving advertisement. In my opinion, there are two places in this ad where a woman could have been used instead of a man: the car with the martini or the car with the cosmopolitan. I mean haven’t they watched Sex and the City? The ad also could have improved if all the men were not clearly around the same age. By adding one woman and one younger man, this ad could have become more realistic in my eyes ; however at the same time, I understand that the USDOT and NHTSA were presumably targeting the “prime suspects” for impaired driving.

Although it may seem like I’m criticizing the USDOT and NHTSA, I’m not. I am simply a detail-oriented PR student who sees room for improvement in a national advertisement. I think it’s imperative that both these government agencies continue to be proactive about the serious national issue with drunk driving.

By following these easy steps from http://www.stopimpaireddriving.com, a driver can enjoy a safe and festive holiday without jeopardizing their life and the lives of the others who may be on the road:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
  • Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement;
  • And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

If there’s one thing you take away from this blog post let it be that no amount of good cheer will be able to save you from the consequences of drunk driving. If law enforcement officials catch you, they will arrest you. No exceptions. No excuses.

Don’t let this guy be you.

holiday-drinking

The end of fall term has quickly stumbled upon me, and I am thrilled to say that this has been the most successful, and rewarding term of my college career! For the first time ever, I feel enthusiastic and confident about where my future in public relations will take me.

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Brandsma and I at the 2008 Author and Artists' Fair

I am so grateful to have gotten to work with Sharon Brandsma and “Glory Rose and the Gloaming.” As you know, I’ve been busy pitching and promoting her book, and so far the results of my work have been beyond successful.

Getting involved with Glory Rose was definitely a new experience for me; I became passionate about something I was working on and because of that, I did everything in my power to support Brandsma in accomplishing her goals. Even though I am talking in the past tense, I am still very much committed to continuing to help Brandsma next term.

Besides being ignited by Glory Rose, I have to give a major thanks to my professor Tiffany Derville. She made this term productive and worthwhile (i.e. she challenged me). This could be seen as a negative thing for some students, but I tend to do better when I am challenged. Thanks to her, I am now a part of the blogosphere. I have sharpened my social media and Web navigational skills. I have created a professional resume and portfolio. I have a digital footprint: when you Google my name stuff actually comes up. I better understand common grammar errors PR professionals tend to make. And most important, I have a sense of confidence in my work.

Enough about the past, let’s talk about the future.

My winter term is going to be significantly different than this term. I will be working as a public relations intern at The Ulum Group, which is a full-service public relations firm in Eugene. I am also going to be working as the creative production/promotions intern at KEZI-TV. Both of the supervisors who hired me on seem really excited to have me joining their team, which makes me even more excited and motivated to prove my worth! I am looking forward to all the opportunities and challenges that will emerge from these internships. Having these two internships will hopefully make my soon-to-be transition of college (kid) life to career (adult) life a bit smoother as well. I will be working Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m, as well as taking my last four college credits. So I will be busy! But who isn’t these days?

So there’s a recap of fall term and highlights of what’s to come for next. I will probably be taking a hiatus from blogging for a bit to rightfully celebrate the holidays with friends and family; however, I totally intend to keep blogging it up next term so stay tuned!

twilight1Everyone by now has heard of “Twilight.” You have either read it yourself (meaning you are probably a woman); you’ve heard about it from your girlfriend, wife, or daughter; or you’ve seen it publicized on TV or the Internet. I admit, I am a die hard “Twilight” fan. I have almost completed the entire saga; I only have 300 pages left of “Breaking Dawn,” which I’m absolutely loving so far!

Contrary to what some critics said about the movie, I thought it was very well done and stayed true to the book. I had very high expectations for passion1 the film and especially of Edward Cullen in particular. Sure the screen writing could have been a bit stronger, but overall, the on screen passion between Edward and Bella felt real, and the beautiful, Northwest filmed cinematography was spectacular. Even my boyfriend, who is a film major, thought the movie contained some stunning outdoor cinematic shots. My favorite scene of the movie is when Edward is climbing (or more like running) up a 200ft tree with Bella on his back. At one point the camera pulls from a close up to a panoramic view and reveals them standing near the top of the 200ft tree. It’s remarkable camera work that you can tell was not green screened!edwardbellatree

Since I am a PR major, my mind is often naturally thinking about public relations things, such as how I could creatively promote something, or how a company could promote something better. While I was in the theater thoroughly enjoying “Twilight,” I noticed some definite intended product placement. Can anyone guess what I’m referring to?

Well, I can tell you that it’s not Bella’s 1953 Chevy truck, or Edward’s Volvo S60 R, or even Rosalie’s BMW M3rainier506d1 convertible. I’m actually talking about Charlie’s and Billy’s drink of choice: Rainier Beer.

If you don’t know already, Rainier beer is a Northwest born and brewed beer. Stroh Brewing company has slacked local thirsts in the Georgetown area of Seattle for more than a century now! Once prohibition ended, the owners of the brewery installed a giant, red “R” neon sign (visible from I-5) that later became a local landmark. In the 80s, the climax of Rainier Beer’s popularity, the brand produced some of the region’s quirkiest and popular advertising, such as the running of the RainBeers (a herd of bottles with legs sticking out of them) and a motorcycle whose gears shifted to the whine of the product’s name. The brewery became the fourth largest in the world. In 1999, Rainier Beer was sold to Pabst brewing Company and soon after the famous “R” sign was taken down.beer091

I thought it was very clever and refreshing to see the movie use a locally brewed and nationally recognized old-time beer favorite. Charlie, the protagonist’s dad, referred to Rainier Beer as “Vitamin R.” There were at least three scenes that showed Charlie getting back from the store with two, 6-packs of Rainier “tall boys,” or slugging down a can of Rainier Beer while listening to Bella talk. There’s even one scene where Bella says something like, “Here dad, have another one of your favorites,” referring to the beer. I found the product placement to be very appropriate. Obviously Pabst Brewing Co. had to give Summit Entertainment permission to use the beer in the film. You would also have to assume that they probably agreed on some financial arrangements for the beer to be used, because I can assure you that Rainer Beer was not incorporated into the “Twilight” books, written by Stephenie Meyer.

It’s interesting because Pabst Brewing Co. has not really invested in advertising in over 20 years. It’s also interesting that it is hard to find Rainier Beer these days. Many stores and restaurants do not even stock it anymore. I worked at a restaurant this summer, and we sold Rainier Beer… let’s just say on more than one occasion I made guys’ days because of that.

I would categorize this type of PR promoting as “guerrilla PR.” I don’t think the intention of Pabst Brewing Co. or director, Catherine Hardwicke, was to revamp the brand name of Rainier Beer, as so much as to honor the Northwest region by using one of its own products as a prop.

I wonder how the product placement of Rainier Beer in “Twilight” will affect (or not affect) sales. What do you think?

Even at a vampire movie my mind is still thinking PR. Is that strange?

If you have a minute you should definitely check out this old-school Rainier Beer commercial. It’s pretty darn funny.

picture-151Over the holiday weekend “Glory Rose the Gloaming” was given the gift of being featured in three more regional newspapers! It is amazing to watch the progress since Glory Rose’s release in September 2008. Since her initial media coverage on Nov. 16, Brandsma has continued to receive fan mail and inquires about the book through e-mails. She is hoping that people will continue to follow their interests and curiosities by buying the book and spreading the word.

The Gazette Times entertainment reporter, Theresa Hogue, wrote an excellent review of the book that portrayed Glory Rose and Brandsma’s writing in high regards. This is the first published book review of Glory Rose, and I’m happy to announce that it was a success! The article that ran in the Gazette Times, also ran in the Albany Democrat Herald on November 28, 2008.

Today, an article in the Bend Bulletin came out, which featured a more detailed look into Brandsma’s background and how she began writing Glory Rose.

It has been refreshing that all three articles have had different angles to them. Each reporter has personally told Bransma how much they enjoyed the book, which they have all clearly shown in their writing.

One PR concept that I have learned from doing this project is that reporters usually need (or highly prefer) an event or special occasion to tie in with a story, especially for something like promoting an author and book. It was much easier to pitch the story idea to reporters after Branssma landed a book signing or reading somewhere.

The next steps for Glory Rose are to continue to promote and market the book to even more areas of Oregon, including Salem and the Portland. I will keep you all posted on Glory’s Rose’s escalating journey to success!!

Since I am Brandma’s publicist, it would only be appropriate for me to remind you that Glory Rose is available on Amazon.com and Target.com for only $14.99. Books are great gifts to buy for friends and family. I’m sure many of you gave the “Twilight” books a chance, so why not give an Oregon author a chance?

Here are even more reasons why you should give a book as a gift:

  • “A Book. Longer-lasting than a fruitcake, cheaper than a flat screen, more fun than a partridge in a pear tree.”
  • “Books return dividends for life.”
  • “Why a book? Because a new tie never changed anyone’s life.”
  • “Affordable. Portable. Memorable. Books are a gift beyond measure.”
  • “Give love. Give time. Give joy. Give books.”
  • “A Book: The perfect gift for someone who has everything. The perfect gift for someone who has nothing.”

The Fade out of Video Stores

hollywood_viedologo_redA few of my friends and I recently had a conversation about how the video store industry has got to be on the verge of collapse. In all honestly, how many of you still make the trip to the go to video store? My guess is, is that most people do not. There are so many other options for video renters today that are so much cheaper than Hollywood Video or Blockbuster. Anyone heard of Netflicks or better yet, Redbox? redbox

I’ll sum up some of the reasons why I think people turn to these two choices more frequently as opposed to video stores: They are profoundly cheaper, much more quick and efficient, no extra gas expenses, no waiting in lines, and no driving all the way there to find that the video you want is gone.

All this got me thinking about how the video store industry should try and revive and revamp itself.

Well, I think the answer lies in changing some of the ways they are doing business, and most importantly, developing a strong public relations promoting campaign.

I was never a frequent visitor of Blockbuster so I’m going to use Hollywood Video as the example store.

After brainstorming a bit, I thought of some of PR tactics that I think Hollywood Video could have success with. Keep in mind that this is all hypothetical, and I’m’ pretending to have a decent budget.

It would be ideal if Hollywood Video could slash its prices, but I’m thinking that it might be a little unrealistic with the brewing economic troubles. So, I would suggest Hollywood Video to get inside the head of its consumers and think and understand why people are choosing other renters over them. You could probably narrow the reasons to: cost of movie, cost of gas it takes to drive to video store (and back to return), and pure inconvenience. Here are the tactics I came up with.

1. Start a daily “happy hour” during certain hours of the day where people could come in and either receive a $1 off coupon, a free soda, candy, or popcorn bucket, or an old movie rental for $1.

2. Create and pitch a strong proposal aimed at partnering with a national gas company. Ideally, Hollywood would like to giveaway gas coupons to all customers, which would then “drive” the customer to that particular gas station, where a free rental coupon would be given away with any fill up. A mututally benefical strategy.

3. Develop a sweepstakes contest for customers who spend a certain amount of money or come in many times a month, to enter to win a trip to Hollywood, CA where the winner would receive passes to tour Universal Studios.

4. Give away free movie coupons to local schools, libraries, museums, art studios, restaurants, boutiques and other places where people would use and appreciate the coupon. This would help broaden awareness that Hollywood Video is trying to stay “In tuned” and up-to-date with the changing technology.

5. Raise awareness about Hollywood Video’s Community Spotlight project called “Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation.”index_top

Although these are just a few hypothetical ideas about what the suffering video store rental industry could do to improve their faltering business endeavors, I think that many of the tactics I mentioned could generate positive media coverage, which is exactly what Hollywood Video would want.

Unfortunately, it may be only a matter of technological advances (or time) before video stores are completely taken out. Realistically, I envision being able to download any new or old movie instantaneously on your own computer within the next three to five years, don’t you?

Two of my close friends, Tyler Macklin and Michael Miller, recently finished creating a music video. Tyler directed, filmed and edited the piece, while Michael helped with creative input and lent his skills in visual effects. The video is far beyond amateur quality and deserves to be seen, so I figured I would take the initiative to try and help them promote it (since I am a public relations major and all).

I’m not just doing this because they’re my friends; I’m doing it because, like the book I’m promoting, I believe in their work.

Their most recent collaboration is this music video titled “These Few Percepts,” the song was written by Shawn Cook, and the lyrics are based on a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet.” I was lucky enough to be a part of this project as well. I hope you enjoy it!

On Sunday Nov. 16, they entered this video into Diva Studio’s monthly Video Slam and won first place, which qualified them to be a part of the annual Video Slam Festival in February.

Now, here’s some background on these two incredibly talented filmmakers.

Tyler Macklin started working with video at an early when he began to film himself and friends

Tyler Macklin

Tyler Macklin

skateboarding. In 2004 Tyler scripted, filmed and edited a professional TV segment that aired on Fuel TVs “DC Shoe’s Project Detention.” That was really when he realized that he had an “eye” for video, and he wanted to pursue a career in film.

In his time at the UO he has worked on many class and freelance projects that have helped him improve his skills and get noticed. From 2005-2007, Tyler produced, filmed and edited weekly TV segments for “Duck U.” He also produced, filmed and edited safe-sex, anti-drug and drinking PSAs for the University of Oregon Health Center. Last winter, Tyler was featured on the front page of the Register Guard for his extensive online video work with YouTube, and during spring term he won second place for “Best Dramatic Short” at the 2008 UO Student Film Festival. Right now, Tyler is working on many class projects and as being a multimedia reporter for the Oregon Daily Emerald.

Michael Miller started doing video workwhen he was young as well. He used to make stop motion videos where he would try using practical effects, like making his brother look like a giant, with various camera angles. At the age of 12 he got a job as an acting extra on the movie “Drive Me Crazy” with Melissa Joan Hart. He soon realized that acting was not for him, and he dropped out of video making for a short period.

Michael Miller

Michael Miller

Michael started to get back into video about two and a half years ago when he made a Star Wars/Nintendo spoof that ended up winning a small award. The excitement from that was enough to launch him back into film making. Michael’s specialty and concentration with video is working with special effects and graphic design. He is currently working with Amsel Media, and Behind-the-Scenes Productions, from Eugene, Oregon.

Michael has been recognized for his work with visual effects by winning first place and the “People’s Choice Award” in the 2008 Open Lens Film Festival at Diva Studio in Eugene, Oregon. He also won an award for Technical Merit in the 2008 Salem Film festival. Like Tyler, Michael has an extensive YouTube account with an array of fun, creative videos.

If you ever have a minute and are browsing through videos on YouTube, you should check out both of their sites. I promise that you will not be disappointed; in fact, you will be highly entertained.

Since they both have so many videos, I would suggest checking out these ones in particular.

Tyler’s videos: “Green Eugene –Hippie Hunt,” “Safe Sex Condom PSA,” “Hike of Terror” and “Inner Child Revelation.”

Michael’s videos: “The Conflict Within,” “Escape from the Clones,” “Human Torch Effect,” and “Dos Lunas.”

sharon-book-signingAlthough it has been anything but a quick or small task, my first media coverage, based on my public relations work, has finally arrived!

I have been working on a freelance public relations project with Sharon M. Brandsma, author of “Glory Rose and the Gloaming” for over a month now. In that time I have put many of my PR skills to work. I have written a feature news release, targeted and pitched the story idea to reporters, sent out many copies of the novel to book editors and librarians, created a book signing poster, recorded a pod cast and made a social media release. I guess you could say I have been trying to promote the crap out of it.

After doing the initial research and work, I waited around for a few weeks (basically till after the election), before I heard anything back. The first reporter I contacted, Randi Bjornstad from the Register-Guard, was the one to take an interest in the story and write it.

I am very happy and proud that my hard work and dedication has paid off for Brandsma and myself. I am not being paid or even getting credit for working with Brandsma; I am doing it solely because I love and wholeheartedly believe in “Glory Rose and the Gloaming,” and I knew my PR skills could help Brandsma out. Without a doubt, I believe that this is the beginning of a long journey to stardom for Brandsma, and I’m so happy that I could be involved with it!

I’m really hoping that this media coverage will expand her fan base and readers, because this book deserves to be read!

If you have a teen, “tween,” or fantasy loving friend, brother/sister, or distant relative, and are looking for a great gift to give this holiday season, you should consider buying “Glory Rose and the Gloaming.” What better gift can you give to someone than an imaginative, picturesque and action filled adventure? Think of it this way, you would be supporting and native Oregonian, and the book is under $15. In my opinion, books are great gifts to give because they have more potential than almost any other gift; they continue to give for a lifetime.

With this freelance project, I have learned invaluable PR skills that I will take with me on my continuing journey to finding a career in PR. Working with this book, and Brandsma, has sparked creativity and confidence in my work that I needed to further my PR potential. I can’t wait to see what the future holds in store for me, and for Brandsma’s “Glory Rose and the Gloaming.”

Brandsma at her book signing on Nov. 15, 2008 at the Thurston Book Exchange

Brandsma, far right, at her book signing on Nov. 15, 2008 at the Thurston Book Exchange.

Right now, I am taking J453: PR Planning and Problems, with John Mitchell. In that class we focusjournalist5 almost entirely on writing “winning” PR proposals. Professor Mitchell has us work in groups of three to four, which change every case study, so we learn how to collaboratively work with a diverse range or personalities.

So far, we’ve worked with two different PR cases, one dealing with a contaminated lagoon situation (obviously a problem/crisis PR plan), and the other was a plan announcing a company’s title sponsorship of an IndyCar race team. Just from doing these two plans, I have realized that I much prefer working with “opportunity” plans as opposed to “problem” plans. There is a lot more room for creativity in “opportunity” plans, which is one of my favorite aspects of PR.

I thought I would share with you why being able to write strong PR proposals is so important to an entry level PR practitioner. The following information was compiled from Tom Hagley’s book “Writing Winning Proposals:PR Cases.”tom-hagley5

  • A plan is the tool to propose and obtain approval for executing PR activities. The components of a plan provide necessary information that managers need to approve before they can be executed.
  • Remember: Plans must be able to be changed and fine-tuned for effectiveness.
  • A plan provides a mechanism for measuring results of public relations activities. This is such a vital aspect of plans, because reviewers like to have evidence showing that the plan is making progress towards achieving the core goal.
  • A plan is a product, which can distinguish its developer as a star among practitioners of all levels of experience. According to Tom Hagley, “The industry of public relations in recent years has seen so little in the way of high-quality plans, a well-conceived plan will easily take on a brilliance that wins approvals and adds credibility to the profession.”
  • A plan serves as a structure for orchestrating the timing of related activities in marketing or advertising.

Tom Hagley defines PR practitioners as “those who influence the behavior of anyone who has or could have an effect—positive or negative—on the organization’s ultimate performance.”

How can you influence behavior? The answer is: through strategic planning and communication.

Strategic communication requires knowledge, skills, and problem-solving experience in the dynamics of persuasion, human interaction, and communication design.

Strategic communication is:

  • Creative, skillfully planned, managed and measureable.
  • Authoritative
  • Transmitted and received
  • Targeted at individuals or groups
  • Specifically designed to influence behavior.

Last by not least, remember that you can always evaluate the effectiveness of your strategic planning and communication by asking the simple question of: Did we influence behavior or not?

I hope that these tips will help you when you’re writing your own proposals! I know that they have tremedously helped me!

Although many of us were happily distracted by the election results last week, I think we’re all slowly but surely coming back to the reality of America’s economic situation. We may be in better hands with Obama as our commander in chief, but he (and we) certainly have one tough job ahead of us.

This brings me to my blog topic.

I don’t know about you, but I love a good bargain. I love it when you walk into your favorite clothing or grocery store and you see discounted prices, or “SALE” signs everywhere. It’s a pleasure to my eye.

One store that I don’t think gets enough “street cred” is the Dollar Tree. logo_dollar_tree

I’m totally serious when I say this.

You probably know that everything there is $1, but I bet you didn’t know that they are stocked with a wide array of party supplies, housewares, seasonal décor, candy and food, toys, health and beauty care products, gifts, stationary, books, and a variety of consumer items.

I bet you also weren’t aware that the Dollar Tree is a proud national sponsor of Operation Homefront, which provides emergency assistance and morale to our troops, to the famlies they leave behind, and to the wounded warriors when they return home.

Unfortunately, I still tend to think that people might view the Dollar Tree as “white trash” or “ghetto” and don’t realize everything it has to offer at the price of one dollar.

In penny pinching times like these, this is a place that should be taking action with PR and advertising campaigns to raise the publics’ awareness about the benefits of the store.

I think that the Dollar Tree should hire a PR agency to take advantage of the economic situation to broaden their customer and shareholder bases. If the Dollar Tree used PR, it could gain media coverage and marketing outlets.

If I were the PR manger for Dollar Tree I would have bi-weekly advertising inserts in newspapers, and multi page advertisements on Sunday (like Target and Kohls). I don’t’ understand why they don’t do this. I realize that they can’t advertise sales, since everything is always one dollar, but they could at least advertise (besides on their Web site which few people go to) what seasonal products they have in stock, and their convienient locations in each area.

Although the Dollar Tree is not a regular on the media circuit, on Nov. 6, 2008 they released a press release announcing that their third quarter sales increased 11.6 percent compared to last year’s fiscal third quarter.

From this, It looks like I’m not the only person recognizing that buying things you need for one dollar in these hard economic times is awesome; however, I still think that the Dollar Tree should work on their PR strategies to continue to increase their consumer sales, and to improve their stereotypical negative image.

So the next time you need simple household items, seasonal décor or glow sticks, I suggest going to the Dollar Tree where you will spend a significant less amount of money than you would at Target for the same products.

Just in case you didn’t know, there are four Dollar Tree stores in the Lane County area. So go ahead and check one out, I bet you won’t walk out empty handed.

dollar

barackLast night Americans witnessed a historical and landmark election come to a close with Barack Obama as the clear winner of who America trusts to be our next leader of change. I am very pleased and relieved with our decision.

After watching a segment on CNN talking about Obama’s campaign as being the best political campaign in United States history, it got me thinking about how and why it was so successful. The first thought that popped into my head was how they used social media as an outlet to reach the American people. I honestly don’t think he would have won (or at least by such a landslide) if it weren’t for his strategic use of social media, marketing, public relations and unprecedented grassroots donating strategies.

On Obama’s very interactive Web site you can find out just about anything you want or need to know about him…and you don’t have to dig for it! He has it clearly laid out for you to seek. Obama used his blog as a powerful tool that allowed him and his campaign team to directly communicate and connect with Americans. He also created BarackTV where you could watch any rally or event that he spoke at in the last two years. I believe both of these social media tools were vital to his campaign, because American’s needed to feel like their voices were being heard during these hard economic times.

Obama’s dominating presence on the Internet was phenomenal. I mean you could hardly find a Web site that didn’t have a plug for Obama somewhere on it. Whether you were browsing on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Perezhilton, The New York Times or You Tube, Obama was there. His campaign did a great job of never making it seem like you were donating just to donate. In some cases you got something in return like a t-shirt, button, sticker or sign, in other cases, the campaign promised to have someone else double your donation. When you have incentives like that why wouldn’t someone donate $12 or $20 dollars and get a t-shirt of the candidate you support? I know that his presence on Facebook was the reason why I donated $12 to get an Obama shirt. What a way to reach young people!

If I were not a PR major I probably would not be sitting around thinking about the ways in which Obama reached the American people through social media, but I am, so I did. As if everyone I come across in my PR world is not already telling me how wonderful and important social media is, I now have a real life example that I can look back to, relate with and remember just how influential social media can be.

Pitching your idea.

Pitching your idea.

Last week I began to pitch the news release I wrote for book I’m promoting, Glory Rose and the Gloaming.” Let me tell you, in one week, I learned a lot about what one should do when trying to pitch your story idea to a reporter for media coverage.

1. First of all, remember that as PR professionals, we are persuasive communicators. Make sure to have a well-written, edited, fact-checked and newsworthy press release ready to send to a reporter.

2. When pitching to local papers, emphasize the local proximity and human interest story appeals. If you have an interesting or unique piece of news, in addition to it being local, the chances of getting it covered will be much more significant.

3. Research which reporters to target. You can easily do this by going to that newspapers website and looking under the reporter directory. Don’t forget to think of all your professional networks too, they can sometimes help point you in the right direction as to who to target as well.

4. Call the reporter and have a prepared, mini-telephone pitch to see if they’re interested. Make sure to ask if they have time to talk with you first…reporters are very busy people and often times are under deadlines. Also, I found it was very important to ask if they wanted the press release in an attachment, or copy and pasted. I found that many reporters had different preferences. When in doubt however, copy and paste it…or you can use Google Docs (Thanks Tiffany)!

5. Once you’ve contacted and informed the reporter you will be sending a press release, send it with a strong subject line. “Eugene author fantasy novel story idea” is probably more compelling then “ Author story idea”

6. Always include contact information, and be ready to respond if a journalist calls.

7. Do follow up calls and e-mails if needed. This is the step I’m at right now. I need to do call backs early this week from the reporters I haven’t heard back from.

8. Send additional information e-mails if needed. I just received new information yesterday from the author that she has new book signings lined up, so I will need to e-mail that to the reporter.

9. Don’t forget to ask for advice, suggestions or help from professors, fellow students, PR professionals, reporters, or anyone who is offering it. Just by asking, I received answers to my questions and great feedback.

I would love to hear your experiences, feedback, suggestions and comments on pitching story ideas to reporters. I’m still a newbie at it and know I have room for improvement!

Popcorn ehh...I love popcorn!

Popcorn ehh...I love popcorn!

I’d like to share with you a passion of mine. That passion is popcorn. This probably sounds very odd, but let me tell you my story.

Since I can remember, popcorn has always played a big part of my life. That’s because way back in the 80s my mom created a mind-blowing delicious recipe for “something-around-the-likes-of-cheddar-cheese popcorn.” On special nights growing up, my mom would make this popcorn for our family. I loved it from the minute I tasted it. When I was really little, I used to stick my whole head in the brown paper popcorn bag and gobble it up. I used to call the seasonings “dust” and I would lick every bit of it off my fingers.

This isn’t just any old popcorn process either. The popcorn is popped in a very old-fashion way, on a stove in a medium-size sauce pan with a bit of oil and a couple scoops of kernels. It’s quite the loud experience if you’re the popper, because the popcorn kernels literally push the lid of the sauce pan off.

Popping up!

Popping up!

Once it’s popped, you dump it into a brown paper bag. Then we season it will all sorts of “secret ingredients” (that neither my mom, nor I will ever tell), shake it up in the bag, and then enjoy! It truly has an addicting affect on people.

In high school, I finally decided I could make the popcorn myself, so I did. Not only did I make it, but I perfected the recipe. I seasoned the popcorn differently than my mom, and everyone including my mom, agrees that I put the ultimate finishing touch to it. I like to call it “Keeney Korn”

By now you may be wondering what does this have to do with public relations. Well…for over a year now I have seriously begun thinking about perusing getting our delicious popcorn into the market. I’ve recently been bursting with creativity, so I’ve begun thinking of all the steps we would have to take to get this challenging project popping!

The first important thing is that I know I have a worthy product. ANYONE who has had my popcorn is pretty much in taste bud heaven. If you’ve had the pleasure of being around me when I’m making popcorn, you know what I’m talking about. The second important factor is that there is not much competition out there for already-popped seasoned popcorn, and I plan on having numerous flavors including sweet, spicy and salty among others, not just cheddar cheese or kettle corn.

Voila! The final product. Yum Yum.

Voila! The final product. Yum Yum.

I think this could be a great LONG-term goal/side PR project for me. I mean I have all the skills and resources I would need to actually accomplish this.

My “PR Popcorn Project” would take MANY hours of research, and help from other people…I’d have to research all kinds of things, from how to mass produce popcorn, to scientific ingredient components needed to preserve and package it. This project would be anything but quick and easy. It could even take 5-10 years, but I truly think that with my determination, enthusiastic attitude, love for the product, research and public relations skills, it could be done!

My ultimate goal would be to continue my career in public relations at a great agency or organization, and in my free time, this would be my side “PR Popcorn Project.”

So, check back with me in a year, and see where I’m at with it.

“Some of you may shop till you drop, but I pop till I drop!”

Me, the co-creator of "Keeney Korn"

Me, the co-creator of"Keeney Korn"

Do you enjoy well-written, action-packed, page-turning books? Well, then you may be interested in what I’m doing right now.

I’m currently working as a freelance PR intern with a Eugene author, Sharon M. Brandsma, who just finished writing, illustrating and publishing her first teens-to-tweens fantasy novel Glory Rose and the Gloaming. I’m more than excited to work on this project, because I love the book myself. It’s up the alley of Harry Potter, yet with a female main character. I’m dying to get the word out about this book!

If you want to hear more about Glory Rose and the Gloaming, read on!

Eugene author tells her tale of empowerment through her new teens fantasy novel

“No cricket chirps, no frog song, no calls of night birds…just a few, quiet, gauzy fingers of mist clutched at the silver moon. In the hushed forest, his Master Merlin lay paralyzed and dying…and the beautiful fairy Oriya spirited away by some unspeakable evil. The Gloaming had begun.”

Eugene author Sharon M. Brandsma recently released Glory Rose and the Gloaming, an inspiring and magic-filled teens-to-tweens fantasy novel.

Glory Rose and the Gloaming is book one of a trilogy. The first novel features a female heroine named Glory Rose who sets out on a bold and dangerous mission to save the Magic Realm from an evil sorcerer. Along the way, Glory Rose encounters an assortment of magical creatures including, witches, fairies, giants, trolls, leprechauns, dragons, and an alchemist.

“My book is an empowering story for children and adults. It’s about never doubting your own ability to achieve ‘magic’ in your own life,” said Brandsma.

The series came to Brandsma after she had an idea to write a book with a realistic young heroine, as opposed to the common “perfect” hero. She says that “Heroes have been overdone.” She wanted to write a book about a character who was not perfect at all, who was in fact, flawed, yet still achieved what she set out to do.

Brandsma has had several short stories published, and won a short story writing contest sponsored by Family Circle Magazine. She is also an award-winning artist, and did the cover and inside illustrations in this book.

The book was published by MoonFlower Press from Eugene, Ore., in conjunction with Studio Absolute, from Sisters, Oregon. Brandsma received no funds for advertising or publicity, so she has literally gone door-to-door to local bookstores, schools and libraries to market the book. Glory Rose and the Gloaming can be found in a few small, local bookstores, schools, and libraries in Cottage Grove, Florence, and Reedsport. The fantasy tale is also available on Amazon.com

The book has been well received by many readers of all ages. “It humbles me so much that people truly love the story,” said Brandsma, who is receiving rave reviews and fan mail from readers. In the near future, she hopes that more bookstores and libraries in the Eugene area will stock her book.

Brandsma has a book signing on Nov. 15, 2008 at the Thurston Book Exchange, and she has been invited to the Authors & Artists Fair put on by the Lane Library League on Dec. 6, 2008. You can visit her Web site at www.gloryrosefriends.com to learn more. You can also check out my social media release on Pitch Engine. picture-15

As you hopefully, all know by now, there is a postage-ballot crisis happening in many states. That’s because this years ballots are heavier and longer than usually which means that a 42-cent stamp will not get your ballot mailed (it will be returned for insufficient funds). You actually need a 59-cent stamp. This is causing a scare-frenzy for many voters in multiple counties who have already sent in their ballots with not enough postage. They fear they will not be returned in time to resend them in. I can definitely understand why voters are feeling worried about this; I know I would be! During these hard economic times, and tight election race, the last thing Americans need to be worrying about is their votes for change not counting.

If this seems all too familiar, that’s because during this year’s primary, the post office upped the first-class postage stamp (by a penny) to 42-cents midway through the mail-in election. Many people didn’t know about the change and mailed in their ballots with insufficient postage. Luckily, the Lane Country Elections office accepted those ballots. Unfortunately this time around, the stamp difference is a matter of 17 cents, which could end up costing the election office more than $18,000.

I think that the U.S. Postal Service can use the situation to their advantage. Here’s what I propose we do to solve this postage problem. What if the U.S. Postal Service came out with a breaking news announcement saying that they will have their mail carriers deliver all the ballots they receive with insufficient funds to a ballot drop box by Nov. 4, in order to stop the postage-ballot situation. I think this could be a great public relations strategy for them. The U.S. Postal Service is not usually in the media spotlight, especially for doing a big favor for the American people. They could have a lead spokesperson say something like, “The U.S. Postal Service would like to do the American people a favor by resolving this postage-crisis.” Imagine how much praise and press they would receive if they were to truly do this. Imagine how relieved and appreciative the voters who are involved in this crisis would be.

Who knows if this would or could actually happen, but in simplistic terms, all the U.S. Postal Service would have to do is communicate with all post offices having this problem. They would need a couple of mail carriers from each county post office to walk a little extra by Nov. 4 to drop off that county’s insufficient fund ballots in an official drop box! I realize that the resolution I propose is a best-case scenario, and I didn’t do any realistic PR planning (I know that is FAR more involved)…but don’t you think this would a feasible solution?

More than anything, I think it would be a strategic and progressive move for the U.S. Postal Service. It would certainly generate positive media attention for them. I mean when was the last time you thought of your local post office as a noble problem-solver?

Recently I read an article “Automakers Push Key Vehicles Through Fall TV Shows” by Bree Fowler that struck my interest. The article discussed how auto sales are at a 15-year low, and how TV advertising is less appealing and watched than ever before. What do you think is the reason for all of this? Well, I can imagine the 15-year lows in auto sales would have something to do with, let’s see, the economic crisis, high gas prices, and environmental issues with cars. So what about the reasoning for less appealing TV advertisements? Well my friends, that reminds me of my new favorite TV accessory, (that nearly comes with all Comcast and DirectTV packages), the all-mighty DVR (digital video recorder), where you can fast forward and skip commercials! Hallelujah! While this may be awesomely convenient for viewers like me, companies like General Motors Corp. (GM), are having to adapt and change the ways they advertise and communicate with their consumers.

So, GM has decided to hop on the successful band wagon of…product placement. “The idea is to grab the attention of consumers without being too obvious, while also creating a positive image for the automaker,” said Kelly O’Keefe, an executive director of an graduate advertising program. When done effectively the advertising strategy can greatly boost sales. The only thing GM has to do, is to provide their products for free, which is very affordable compared to the alternative of spending excessive amounts of money on commercial advertising, said to O’Keefe.

Where will you see GM cars in this fall’s TV lineup? In NBC’s new drama “My Own Worst Enemy.” The show’s main character is played by Christian Slater, who has split personalities. There’s Henry, a family man who drives GM’s family-oriented Traverse crossover, and then there’s Edward, a secret gun-loving agent who speeds around in GM’s new Camaro sports car.

Being the observing PR student that I am, I think this is an excellent and innovative advertising/publicity strategy for GM. The whole situation just reminded me of how times are changing and what used to work yesterday, isn’t always going to work today, whether we’re talking about technology, finances or political views. Change is all around us, and products, people, and businesses are going to have to adapt if they’re going to survive. It’s not like I’m a big fan of GM (in fact, I only buy Honda, Subaru or Toyota), but I’m glad they’re taking the progressive steps they should be. “It’s not just a byproduct of the DVR system, it also puts the product into a different context than an ad,” O’Keefe said. “It’s something that complements it.”

In terms of whether I believe this will work for GM, my sources say yes. We all know that product placement (more or less) generates positive results. Maybe that means that the featured product will only be seen and not bought, but regardless, you’re creating consumer awareness, and that’s better than not being seen at all. Any coverage is better than no coverage, right?

I think this can especially work if the TV show is well received by viewers. “When you’re integrated into a program, your product adds a presence and becomes a character in a way,” said Dino Bernacchi, GM’s director of marketing and branded entertainment. So besides bringing awareness, and short-term sales benefits, the integration of a product into a show can turn it into an overnight icon. This reminds me of my favorite show of all time “Sex and the City,” where the character, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), would frequently buy Manolo Blahnik’s and other expensive fashion brands. For me, that shoe will forever be tied to “Sex and the City,” and although the product placement of Manolo Blahnik’s never convinced me to go out and buy a pair, (I would never pay that much for uncomfortable high heels!), it raised an alertness of the product for me. Another example of a iconic product that will always be remembered in TV history, is the bright orange Dodge Charger from “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Whether or not “My Own Worse Enemy” will greatly boost GMs sales for this year, the viewers of the show will recognize, and be exposed to GM’s 2009 lineup of cars, even if we use our DVRs.

“My Own Worst Enemy” has only aired two shows so far, and I’m not sure what I, or other ratings are say about it, but I definitely give GM two thumbs up for staying “in-tune” on their strategic (and possibly sneaky) advertising tactics.

Christian Slater in the all-new GM Chevy Camaro

Christian Slater on set of "My Own Worst Enemy" in the all-new GM Chevy Camaro

Hello, everyone! It appears that I have been in the blogosphere womb long enough and it’s my time to be born! So here I am! My name is Allison Keeney, and today I’m officially being born into one of the fastest growing areas for new content on the Internet: the blogosphere. I have decided to become a part of this innovative world because…well, who wouldn’t want to get their voice and ideas heard by other people? I’m excited to start blogging, because it will give me a chance to share my thoughts, experiences, and ideas to people all around the country. The idea of releasing what I have on my mind into the world is incredibly freeing. I have missed writing in my diary, and I’m appreciative that I was guided by my professor to take this opportunity.

So, now the real question…what on earth am I going to blog about? After brainstorming about what kind of blog I would like to have, I figured it should be a theme parallel to the most recurring theme right now in my life: What am I going to be or do? Where will my PR degree take me? Where will I be in a year from now? How will I break into the PR world? These are great examples of what I’m usually thinking or stressing about on a daily basis. So right now, I think that I will begin to blog about the paths I’m taking on my transitory journey of graduating, growing up and getting a job. In more literal terms, my blog will be about what’s going on in my life including my experiences, ideas, daily happenings, outlooks on events, goals, and interests. My posts will have some sort of PR focus to them, because I am interested to see how I can effectively and creatively incorporate PR into my routine communications with the world. The audience of my blog is really anyone who wants to listen and learn more about PR and how/where it is integrated into our daily lives. My experiences thus far with PR include doing media kits, press releases, and backgrounders. I’m expecting to further expand my knowledge of PR this term because I am taking a planning and campaigns class, advanced writing in PR, and an international PR class.

Until next time,

Allison a.k.a. Journey Girl