Is It OK For Brands To Utilize A Natural Disaster to Market Themselves?

Yesterday I was scrolling through social media and among pictures and videos of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey I saw this:

 

The above brands were offering to donate money to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in exchange for likes, retweets, comments and shares on their posts.

Is this ethical?

I get why both the brand and the consumer makes the decision to create and interact with this campaign.

As a social media consumer, when we come across a type of post like this it’s an easy way to do your part. At the top of my twitter page has been a link to donate $1 to victims of Hurricane Harvey. I’ll be the first to admit I did not donate because I haven’t wanted to take the time and effort to donate. Of course I would rather have someone else donate their money with a simple click or comment.

Working in the advertising industry I understand the brand’s perspective to jump on the opportunity to promote your brand. This type of public relations campaign also offers the opportunity to create positive social impact and to put it frankly, it’s good PR.

While my simple like or share gives a small donation, it also boosts the brand’s unique impressions and clicks. It’s a small feat to a big brand to donate a couple thousand dollars in exchange for potentially record breaking analytics.

My problem with this type of campaign is that brands should donate regardless of likes and shares. When people are in need the hope is that we would come together and do our part without incentives. So long story short, I don’t believe that brands should exchange impressions for donations.

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Let’s chat!

Advertisements

5 Things College Taught Me

university-of-north-carol-campus-south-building-south-building-with-seal-unc-cp-sb-00002smd

The finish line of my undergraduate education is on the horizon and I’m running at it full speed. While my friends start to tear up thinking about graduation, I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll miss the people and my 3:00 naps, but I’m ready to do more than write papers and take exams. College has taught me all that it was supposed to and now I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and attempt to make the world a tad bit of a better place.

Looking back at my last four years at UNC I realize what I’ll take away isn’t what I learned in a class. Yes, it’s great to know media law and the history of pop culture, but my time at UNC taught me lessons that go beyond the classroom walls

  1. Friends will come and go

I think this was the first and hardest lesson I learned. In high school I had tons of friends. I thought college would be the same and I would make lifelong friends like my parents had. Yet after my first year I realized there’s a big difference between being friends with someone because you genuinely like each other and being friends out of convenience. It’s nice to have a neighbor to always go eat with or a friend in class to study with, but that doesn’t always mean that person is a good friend. There’s a line between friend and friendly. This was a hard lesson to swallow, but arguably the most valuable one I’ll leave with.

2.  You never know what might spark a passion 

Coming into UNC I had interests that I knew I wanted to pursue. I liked to dance, I enjoyed working with kids and I wanted to major in journalism. Over the past four years I’ve been in seven different campus organizations and only one for the entire four years. But that’s ok. My interests changed over the years as I discovered who I am and who I wanted to be.  I realized I liked to dance but I wasn’t that great, and I hated the drama that comes with a company of 200 girls. I still like working with kids, but I found a new organization, Girls on the Run, to volunteer with. My advice is to not be afraid to change paths. Take the class you think might be interesting. Go to an interest meeting or workshop even if it sounds the slightest bit entertaining. You never know how it might change your path.

3. It’s OK to have no idea what you’re doing 

At UNC I felt a lot of pressure to have some sort of game plan. You had to pick a major by sophomore year and a concentration in the Jschool by junior year. If I wanted to study abroad I needed to know where I wanted to go. In the advertising track I needed to know if I wanted to be on the account or creative side. It was all very overwhelming.

I consider myself a planner and methodically plan out my weekly schedules, but when it comes to my life I have a hard time making a plan. It took me about until about 2 months ago to accept that not having a plan was OK. I wish someone had told me that from the start.

4. Do what you want to do

Going along with point 2 and 3, do what you want to do. Freshman year it was easy to get caught up in peer pressure and go to parties or organizations that didn’t interest me at all. By senior year I realized a Friday night in by myself could be just as enjoyable as going out. There’s no one thing you need to be doing, besides maybe going to class because you are paying for it after all.

5. Enjoy the little moments 

It is so easy to get caught up in schoolwork and internship work and roommate drama. Looking back at the last 4 years I don’t remember the times I studied for a test. I remember going to see President Obama speak, camping out all day at the Dean Dome to be in the risers for the Carolina Duke game and getting to see Michael Jordan. Those are the memories that I’ll take away. In those moments my to do list crept up in my mind, but I had to remind myself that being present was the most important because in less than an hour this moment was going to become a memory, and would likely never happen again. We often take things for granted and enjoy them after the fact. My goal going forward is to be more present in the day to day and to appreciate these special moments.

I wouldn’t trade my last 4 years at UNC for anything. I met great friends and grew as a person. I started to discover my passions and who I think I want to be. I think there’s value in a higher education, but not necessarily for the work you do in a classroom. Living on your own and the opportunities a university like UNC provides, teaches you so much more than a professor can lecture on.

So thanks UNC – it’s been a great 4 years.

The Advertisement Spot Everyone is Talking About

evan-hed-2016

It reassures me that I picked the right major when I see advertisements go viral for a good cause or send a meaningful message. It feels great to see a spark in conversation around a stigma or issue all from a minute spot that a team dreamed up. These moments remind me why I want to go into the world of advertising because of the impact something so small can have.

The latest campaign the social world is buzzing about is BBDO New York’s ‘Evan’. The 2 minute and 30 second spot was created for Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization founded by the family members who lost loved ones at the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

The spot sends a grim message that unfortunately many people miss warning signs leading up to suicide or other horrific acts. It reminds us that there are many people out there struggling, but we become distracted by other life events and often miss the red flags.

When awful events such as Sandy Hook happen it’s up to the survivors to create hope for the future, and BBDO did a fantastic job to hopefully prevent gun violence and increase suicide awareness. If anything, it has sparked a conversation worldwide about the issue.

‘Evan’ is a great example of how advertising can do more than sell products or services – advertisements have the potential to create change.

Watch ‘Evan’ 

Read more about ‘Evan’ 

I Created An Entire Ad Campaign in 24 Hours

 

895791_267fe19e4b0e45f48baf2449edfd56e3

This past weekend I took part in UNC’s 2016 Crash Campaign. For the 3rd year in a row, 85 students came together to compete against each other and see who could come up with the best campaign for their client. All we had was a problem, a client brief, 24 hours and a lot of caffeine.

My team’s client was MiracleFeet – a local non-profit that provides treatment globally to children born with clubfoot. The common birth defeat turns one or both feet inward and the child loses the ability to walk. In low income areas of the world these children are often abused, illiterate and grow up in poverty.

Our task was to combine soccer and clubfoot to create a campaign that would turn soccer fans into donors. But why soccer? MiracleFeet’s celebrity spokesperson is Ali Krieger, USWNST defender. When Ali engages with MiracleFeet on social media their numbers skyrocket, but they weren’t sure how to capture this audience and turn them into donors.

My team discovered that Ali’s audience is teenager girls, who are not likely to be donors themselves, but her mom might be. We created a campaign called #GivePlay to target soccer moms who enjoy watching her children play soccer and are emphatic toward those who might not have the same opportunity. Our tagline was “Every child deserves the chance to play.” We then pitched our idea to a panel of judges from the top local agencies. Be sure to check out our work on my website.

Unfortunately our work was not picked by the client, but we can’t all be winners. While I didn’t take away a piece of paper, I did learn a lot about myself and the advertising process.

1. I really like the creative and strategy side of advertising

2. The best ideas come from bouncing ideas off one another

3. I like the idea of working for a non-profit or smaller brand and the ability to see a tangible outcome to hard work

4. I can stay awake for a lot longer than I thought

This weekend was a great experience and I’m really proud of the work my team and I created in only 24 hours. Go check it out!

The Major Flaw in Internships

intern

 

This week I finished my summer internship. I was selected out of many to be the marketing intern at one of the top academic publishing companies in the world. It was another internship I felt honored to receive. Unfortunately, it shared the same major flaw as my other internships – it lacked useful work for me to do.

Almost every semester since the summer following my first year at UNC I followed the advice of my parents and professors. “It’s not like it used to be,” they said. “You can’t get a job with just a degree. You need internships. Now employers want experience.”

cropped-website_banner-01

Internships put a person in an interesting place. In some cases you are simply volunteering your time in exchange for the promise of valuable experiences. One internship I had to pay to work at because it required college credit, which doesn’t come free. Finally, this summer I was a paid intern, which in my opinion all internships should be.

In theory an internship would be payment to the student in resume building skills. In reality it often equates to doing the work the advisor passed along because he or she did not want to do it. These mindless, busy work tasks, but ultimately extremely helpful to the advisor, deserve monetary payment.

At first I thought it was just bad luck on my part, a few bad internships. It happens to everyone, right? I felt fortunate that I wasn’t spending my days on coffee runs, though one time I did have to drive 45 minutes to pick up a poster. After talking with friends, bad internships seem to be a common reoccurrence. Companies want to hire interns because it looks good. Employers want an intern to pick up some of the workload. Who doesn’t love free or cheap labor? But they fail to realize the amount of work an 18-22 year old can take on. A project that might take an older employee with a full workload weeks to completely, might only take a young intern a day or two because they are devoting all of their time to the project. Then the intern is left with nothing to do and is given busy work tasks or nothing to do at all, as was my situation many times.

In my experience, the advisor writes an internship off as valuable experience because at the end of the time you get to write that you worked for the company on your LinkedIn. But the name is only half of the accomplishment. I believe internships have two purposes. 1.To teach a young individual a set of valuable and applicable job skills and 2. To help him or her decide if this is a field he or she would like to go into. Internships shouldn’t be about making a young adult run an errand or do the work someone else doesn’t feel like doing that day. The tasks should be thought out practical assignments with deadlines and carved out time for mentorship.

 

internship-diagram

Internships can be extremely beneficial for both parties if done correctly. Internship advisors need to realize that hosting an intern requires work. Interns should be treated as an employee of the company who is there to learn as much as possible in a short amount of time, especially if it’s an unpaid internship. The advisor should ensure the intern has real tasks to complete and at the end of the internship walks away with a sense of accomplishment and an idea if this is the type of job he or she would like to do.

While I’ve had less than great internship experiences I learned what I do and do not want in a future job. I’m glad I took something away, but I wish the advisors at my internships had taken the time to plan meaningful assignments for me to complete instead of each day looking at their own to do list and making me their personal assistant.

 

Access Granted

apple_vs_fbi-1024x576

Apple v. FBI. The case has dominated the news and will continue to until the case most likely reaches the Supreme Court. I’ve decided to write my final research paper for my Media Management and Policy class on the case. I find it extremely interesting especially regarding what this could mean for the future of advertising and the media industry.

I won’t bore you with the background details because they’re fairly well known by now. Interestingly today the FBI told Apple they might not need their help after all with unlocking the phone. I think we can all stop pretending that the FBI ever needed Apple to unlock the phone. Instead what they’re really after is the precedent to gain access to personal data.

I’m interested in what the case will mean about the future of how companies access personal data. In Apple’s message to the customer CEO Tim Cook wrote about the fear that if the government has access to personal data on a phone what is to stop them from having access to your heath records, financial data, track your location or have access to your phone’s camera or microphone.

While this sounds creepy now so did the idea of putting all your personal information on the Internet 10 years ago. Now my health records are entirely online. Facebook can recognize who I’m with in a picture through facial recognition software and Instagram tells everyone my location. We give out that information everyday in exchange for the service. Yes, it’s possible to give out more or less information, but the majority of people say a lot about themselves on the Internet.

I personally do not think this is entirely a bad thing. In the book Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku predicts that one day your bathroom can detect if you have cancer. Technology and the access to data could be a life saver, which is what the government is saying as well by wanting access to protect citizens from terrorists.

Access to this data would be instrumental for the advertising industry. Every advertisement you see would be specifically geared toward your habits. Companies would know where I go, who I’m with and what products could then improve my life. I’d much rather see a blast of products that pertain to me rather than a slew of ones that don’t.

I really think it’s only a matter of time until personal data is no longer personal. It’s hard to keep secrets in a digital era. But most importantly safety is key. If the government having access to my personal data ensures millions of people’s safety – that’s a privilege I’m willing to give up.

Stepping into a leadership position

What does it mean to be a leader? It’s the age old question that many folks have made a buck or two on by writing a book on the subject. But at the end of the day, does anyone really know?

global_leadership

In college I’ve learned there are those who like to lead and those who like to be told what to do. And there’s nothing wrong with either. Personally, I’d rather be in the drivers seat. I like to have control of any situation.

I decided to run for president of my sorority last year when I disagreed with what the current leadership was doing. We had conflicting opinions on what service meant. The girls in charged viewed it as monetary donations, whereas I felt that service should be donated time and a helping hand.

I’ve been president for two short months, but I’ve learned a great deal about leadership. Being president and a leader doesn’t mean what I initially thought of planning activities and telling others what to do. It’s also not trying to please everyone, which I quickly learned is impossible. Rather being a leader is delegating responsibilities in a way that makes everyone feel involved.

I’m in a class called Media Management and Policy where we talk a lot about how to manage people. We discussed at length how people are much more likely to contribute to something if they feel they have a personal investment. Money is not the leading motivation in people, it’s actually recognition. People are more motivated by feeling like they are on the inside and in the know. In the Hawthorne factory experiment, people’s work ethic didn’t approve with better working conditions, but when their manager showed them attention and sincere interest. 

This is the method I’m trying my best at implementing. My sorority consists of 40 girls. As a smaller group, everyone should feel involved. In the past the president often made all the decisions and reiterated then to the group. I believe that everyone should have an input in the decision making process. Often I miss something or someone has a great idea or an easy solution to a problem I’ve been thinking about for days.

People are the best resource and as a leader it’s important to utilize others to make everyone feel important, and insure the organization functions as best as possible.

Branding Myself

This blog was originally created for a class, but I wanted to pick it back up again. Future topics might revolve around art or advertising since those topics mostly fill my college days. For this post I want to talk about personal branding.

I’m in the process of apply for summer internships. The last few summers I’ve stayed at home in Durham working part time at an unpaid internship and part time at a summer camp. This summer I want to branch out and live in a new city. I didn’t study abroad so this is my “intern not in Durham, NC summer.”  I’ve been applying to internships at both art museums and advertising agencies in major cities such as New York and Chicago.

Many of the ad agency applications aren’t your typical send a resume and cover letter. They want to see who you are, how you use social media and can you brand yourself.

When I first saw the request of branding myself, I was at a total loss. I’m a 21-year-old college student. How do I brand myself?

In media ethics we talked a lot about seeking advice from professionals when faced with a dilemma. So that’s what I did. I reached out to Coyte Cooper, UNC Professor and author of Impressions: The Power of Personal Branding in Living an Extraordinary Life. Coyte gave me great advice. He said I needed to think about what my values are. When someone looked at my social media accounts what did I want them to take away from it? What impression did I want people to receive of me?

Next, I researched what other people and companies do to brand themselves. A new trend is for companies to portray their values in their social media accounts rather than their products. I think Urban Outfitters does a great job of this as mentioned in this article by McKinney ad agency.

In a way that is my goal as well – to portray my values as I brand myself. I wanted to avoid the “Hi I’m Morgan and this is what I like” posts. Instead I chose to focus on what has made me the person I am today. I believe that as people we are constantly evolving. Each day changes us in some way. Who we are tomorrow will be slightly different than who we are today.

My overall campaign is #ConstructingMe from my personal tagline Constructing the best me. Over the course of the next few weeks in Instagram posts I hope to unveil who I was and the person I am becoming. Follow along at @morgan.trachtman on Instagram.

IMG_3557.JPG

 

 

 

 

Reflecting

I find it funny that this blog post is supposed to be a reflection on this class and what I have taken away from it and as I’m writing this I can see the reflection of myself in my computer screen, because that’s what mass media is – a reflection.

A reflection of what we as society have created and how it affects every aspect of our lives. From the things we have created – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Emojis – to what is still to come.

The most significant thing I took away from this class is that mass media is constantly changing in unpredictable ways. Everything now, and will continue, to revolve around mass media. It’s shaping society for better or worse. It’s fun to sit around and try to think up what the future might hold, but no one knows.

Who will take over the world first – Google or Facebook? In just five years how we will get our news? Where will we get it from? Phones, tablets, journalists, Joe Shmo who happened to witness an event and put it on the Internet for everyone to see? Will my closet ever pick out outfits for me based on the weather? I sure hope so.

Sometimes in class I would wonder what the class was like last semester. What new technologies did they talk about in class. Then I wonder what it would be like next semester, or in another year. Each day of class was malleable because nothing stays the same, and that was my favorite part. Even someones point in a class discussion would take the subject in a completely new direction, changing the entire idea of the day. But that’s OK because that’s reality. Mass media is constantly changing.

So my biggest take away points:

  • Mass media is forever changing.
  • Anyone can think of the next big idea.
  • The future is infinite possibilities.
  • Some ideas are better than others.
  • We laughed and hated on certain ideas in class, but I bet in 20 years we won’t be laughing. Instead we’ll remember when we thought drones delivering mail was absurd or would never pay per article as we pay per article and our mail is flown to our houses.
  • The Internet is both a good and a bad thing.
  • I actually enjoy blogging.

So thanks Professor Robinson for opening my eyes to a giant world of mass media and what’s going on around me. For making me think outside the box and dream up the future.

 

 

Campaigning Through Twitter

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post called Brands Must Have a Presence on Social Media. An organization I’m a part of, Heelprint, is working for a client, Tar Heel Beginnings, to plan their social media campaign for Week of Welcome – a week long series of fun events for new students.

My job was to create a content calendar for their Twitter account. So what works best to promote a brand on Twitter?

After doing some research here’s what I found:

  1. Repetition is great. In advertising there’s the rule of 3 – where essentially it takes a person to see something three times to remember it. So recycling tweets isn’t a bad idea. But maybe change up the wording so it’s not exactly the same.
  2. Schedule tweets at different times to learn what generates the most engagement. There’s tons of research that says this time is better than this. Is it Tuesday, is it Thursday? Is it morning, lunch time, night? I know I check my Twitter constantly throughout the day, as probably do most college students, so a simple experiment can be done to find out what time and day gets the most favorites or retweets.
  3. Retweet responses. We’ve set up a lot of campaigns such as tweet us your questions or share a picture at your favorite event. The more you engage with followers the more they will engage back.
  4. Tag groups in hopes of a retweet. Getting one extra influencer has a multiplier effect. Retweets work both ways and by getting a retweet you’re expanding the number of people who see your name. Certain campus handles have thousands of followers and a simple retweet can help increase brand awareness.
  5. Tweet pictures and videos. They’re more interesting and eye catching than just text.

Jess also researched why people will interact with a brand on social media. Her findings were interesting.

  • Freebies – people can be bribed to like a page
  • Whitty posts – clever + funny = a retweet or favorite
  • Engaging with the audience – we all like to be heard and know that someone is listening
  • Being the best source of information – because why else would someone care.

Hopefully the campaign will work. It doesn’t matter how funny the tweets I wrote are though, if no new students follow the account it’s all for nothing. That’s the first step, and then creating engaging and interesting tweets.

Keep an eye out for #UNCWOW15 next fall! Follow @THB_UNC for all the updates and see how well I did my job.