My summer abroad…

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I feel like I owe my followers and anyone who stumbles upon my WordPress an explanation for my absence. My last post was published on June 1st. Three weeks later, I flew to Argentina for a summer away working and exploring one of the most amazing countries in the world.

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I spent the summer in Argentina with my older brother Blake, and throughout our time we had the pleasure of celebrating a variety of holidays, celebrations and local events. The day after we arrived the country was celebrating Independence Day! We were also able to watch the World Cup Final with 5,000 other Argentines in one of Buenos Aires’s many plazas.

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During our travels we spent every night in hostels and tried to spend every waking moment exploring the towns we visited and meeting the locals. The great thing about traveling and staying in hostels is that you have the chance to meet people from all over the world. We sat at the ‘family dinner’ table with a Dutch couple when the news was airing the Malaysian Airlines crash that killed so many people from their homeland. We shared rooms with college travelers, couples on vacation, hippies exploring the world, and a variety of other travelers.

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Blake and I spent a lot of time visiting with locals and making it a point to fully submerge ourselves in the culture, the politics and the people. Blake had spent six months living with a host family in Buenos Aires for a semester of college. We had the privilege of staying with his host family for a couple of weeks while we took a break from traveling. Having a second home in Argentina was an amazing gift. It made certain parts of the trip feel less like a vacation and more like a living situation. Leaving Alicia and José (our host parents) was an extremely difficult and emotional experience.

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The entire time we were traveling my brother and I were both working. Both Blake and I freelance our professional skills. Blake has a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.A. In Spanish from Washington State University. He works with a couple of startups and works for the Obama Healthcare Initiative in Illinois. I have a B.A. In Public Relations and have a Nonprofit Business Administration Professional Certificate from Central Washington University. I am a Freelance PR Consultant and I spent a few hours every day we had wifi working for clients. Both Blake and I found a way to balance work and traveling so that we never had to worry about money or spending too much time in an office or cafe.

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I have never enjoyed a vacation more than those weeks I spent in Argentina with my brother. Not only was I exposed to a variety of experiences I would never have found myself and I met so many amazing people. I was able to work and develop my professional experiences while developing my Spanish skills and experiencing a new culture. This trip helped me develop professionally, emotionally and mentally. To anyone who is wondering what to do with their life, I say, travel. Lost your job? Feeling stuck? In a rut? Get out and do something. It doesn’t have to be across the world like my trip, but just get out. Go somewhere, spend sometime thinking and opening your mind.

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So now I’m back and ready to hit the ground running. I’m expanding my Freelance business and am looking to start working with a few start ups. Please continue to read, comment on and share my blog posts.

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A real Twitter war

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Tweeting into Combat? Special Forces Watch as Hashtag Explodes

By: Richard Engel

We are all familiar with the fact that Twitter can cause rifts in the social universe. A friend may tweet something rude about another friend. A company may tweet something inappropriately ‘on accident’. But we have yet to see Twitter start an actual war. According to the above NBC article, the elite Special Operations Forces are monitoring the hashtag #bringbackourgirls as it continues to become viral around the world. The SOF is worried that the extra media attention and social awareness being raised about the issues of the kidnapped girls will scare or urge the soldiers to take action.

This worry takes me back to my first communications class. I remember hearing multiple professors say that the media doesn’t tell the public what to think, the media tells the public what to think about. There is something different about the #bringbackourgirls campaign though. This story and social media conversation is going viral across the world. The captors have the national spotlight right now and there are so many campaigns and organizations making efforts to save the girls. While these efforts are extremely valuable and will hopefully tiled positive results, this vast amount of attention could spur these volatile soldiers into action.

In the end, the support will be worth the worry but there is no telling what could happen to these girls if awareness of this situation continues to grow around the world and support for intervention grows. It will be interesting to see if the captors take action based on the social media effort around the world.

Twitter’s global outreach

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Twitter’s Growth Prospects Shift Abroad

NBC

At the beginning of this quarter my Public Relations and Advertising Management class asked how many students had a Twitter account. Almost every student in the class raised their hand. Multiple students had two or more accounts. According to the above NBC article, Twitter will have close to 400 million global users by 2018. Most of these users stem from Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Originally, Twitter was aiming to have 1 billion users by 2018 but that doesn’t look like that will happen.

The article details a study done by the digital advertising industry research firm, eMarketer, which stated “Twitter’s user growth will have plateaued in major developed markets in five years.” This has both a negative impact and a positive push for the major public corporation. While their growth may plateau in a few of their major markets, there is still plenty of room to grow in other developing nations. With such a high involvement in Asia and Latin America, Twitter had a vast number of opportunities they could take advantage of in order to continue growing their social media presence across the world. It will also be interesting to see how Twitter tries to continue to develop and increase usage in the markets that appear to have plateaued.

There is an additional factor that will affect the outcome of this study. The rate of advancement in the tech world is almost exponential and by 2018, who knows what sort of platforms, mobile devices or computer chips Twitter will be able to take advantage of to increase their user numbers.

Response to: High School Security Guard Charged with Felony Child Abuse

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High School Security Guard Charged with Felony Child Abuse

By: Madison McClausland

 

Recently in an Oakland high school, a security guard was caught abusing a student with cerebral palsy and was charged with felony child abuse. In the above referenced blog post, Madison discusses how school violence has become such a prevalent issue in our society and how schools need to start addressing the issue more. It is no longer just student violence anymore.

Student violence in schools is a huge issue that is discussed over a variety of platforms whether it is a television special on bullying, a news story about a shooting or a nonprofit outreach group focused on student mental health. As the frequency of these violent outbursts grows, schools need to be prepared to answer questions the parents and media have regarding safety policies, hiring policies and student outreach efforts. These efforts to provide ample knowledge to the public about safety precautions would be an excellent public relations effort for any school district.

It will be interesting to see how the increased school violence will be addressed in the upcoming elections and how schools across the nation begin to alter or add precautions to create a safer environment for their students. It will also be interesting to see if the Board of Education will make a statement concerning student mental health and school violence.

Qatar bought the 2022 World Cup

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$5 million in payments made in exchange for Qatar 2022 votes

By Richard Farley

 

England’s Sunday Times reported that former Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam sent around $5 million in payments to a variety of football officials for their support in the vote to secure the World Cup for Qatar in 2022. The investigation into Hammam’s finances and dealings with these officials began when a plethora of secret emails, bank transfers and letters were released. Needless to say, this is a huge public relations disaster for the World Cup organization and Mr. Hammam.

It is no surprise to the public when they hear of wealthy individuals paying of government officials for favors and many people assume that plenty of dirty deals occur in the major league sports world. The hard job of these large sports organizations is to run a clean game and maintain the trust and support of their fans while still providing economic support to the community and providing great entertainment. The World Cup organizers should responsible for releasing statements to the public regarding this issue as the government looks into these allegations. Hammam could help his image by becoming transparent in the public eye and be honest about the dealings with these officials but that is not likely to happen.

It will be interesting to see how all of the parties involved with this case will make efforts to maintain their positive image in the public’s eye. It will also be interesting to see how the outcome of these investigations will affect the placement of the World Cup in 2022.

A nuclear disaster of epic proportions – Case study questions

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Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown

A Disaster “Made In Japan”

By: Patricia Swann

Case Study Follow Up Questions

 

1. How dependent is Japan on nuclear power for electricity?

Japan is the third largest consumer of nuclear power and currently, 13 percent of Japan’s energy comes from nuclear plants across the span of islands.

2. What were some of the early warnings that Japan’s nuclear power plants may not be as safe as some thought?

Japan’s nuclear power plants were warned about a variety of factors that could make them extremely unsafe for the communities they are in. A few of these warnings were the fact that all the plants were in high seismic activity areas and tsunamis of certain heights could cause unimaginable damage to the nuclear plants and communities.

3. What is the role of the press (kasha) clubs in Japan? How does this prevent investigative reporting on sensitive subjects?

Press clubs in Japan are large groups of news organizations that receive news from a single source and most of these clubs are sponsored or supported by funds from large corporations including the nuclear corporations. Being a part of these press clubs can be expensive and many are very exclusive. Many don’t even allow foreign press members. The problem with these press clubs is that it prevents investigative journalism because journalists are nervous to anger the large corporations or press clubs. Asking the wrong question could mean extremely negative results for a journalist or news source.

4. How does the phrase memo-awase, which means, “share what’s in your memos,” impact Japanese journalism?

Sharing notes creates a groupthink approach to reporting and this creates a streamlined, one-sided story that then gets reported out to the public. This can create confusion as to what is really going on and what details are getting left out.

5. How did some traditional Japanese values contribute to the communication problems during the crisis?

 In Japan there is a huge cultural concept of “saving face” and not being the first to admit guilt for fear of shame and embarrassment. This cultural value was definitely present much of the information and news released by the large corporations and Japanese government.

 6. What did critics say was the real reason TEPCO was not prepared and did not respond appropriately to the crisis?

 Critics stated that TEPCO had extremely cozy relationships with nuclear regulatory companies and the Japanese government that made change or precautionary measures as well as clear and honest communication during the crisis a low priority.

 7. During the eight days following the tsunami, did the Japanese government provide enough information on radiation levels for its citizens?

 The Japanese government provided a variety of vague warnings and evacuations but no clear information on the crisis and how it was affecting the community. Some of the messages had extra details about tsunami efforts but most were vague and just reassured the people that the government was working to make things safe.

 8. The Japanese government led the response on the nuclear disaster. Prime Minister Kan and Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano were the official government spokespersons. Did their comments build trust with the Japanese population?

 The lack of appropriate response to the disaster did not gain trust with the people of Japan. Many people are joining grassroots movements to end Japan’s dependency on nuclear power because there are so many cons to continuing down that path.

 9. What role did Japanese journalism play in the response to the crisis?

 During the crisis, Japanese journalists were taking most of the government’s information at face value and reporting it straight out to the public. They were so discouraged from investigating further that most of the world and Japan had no idea what was really going on and who was to blame.

 10. Governments, including that of the United States, that were concerned about the way Japan was handling the crisis. What did they want the Japanese government to do?

 Besides providing the people of Japan with clear, honest and true updates on the crisis, various governments pushed for Japan to increase their nuclear regulations if they intend to continue utilizing the power source.

 11. The main communication activity of TEPCO, the owner and operator of the nuclear plant, was issuing news releases. It was not until November 2011 that TEPCO began offering more communication tactics such as videotaped news conferences. After examining TEPCOS’s news releases during the early days of the crisis, how would you assess their value?

 TEPCO chose to place their reputation and fear of shame ahead of honest and transparent communication and the public had to reassess their view of he corporation. After reading and analyzing this case study I feel like TEPCO has a long battle ahead to restore the Japanese people’s faith.

Billionaire bounty

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Enigmatic Billionaire Targeted in Ferry Disaster – NBC

According to the Associated Press, the South Korean government has placed a bounty like reward on the head of a South Korean billionaire who owned the ferry that sunk off the shores of South Korea killing hundreds of students. The government is interested in any information anyone has about this man because they want to investigate him on matters concerning the ferry, tax issues and embezzlement.

The entire public relations situation surrounding this ferry incident has been affected by a variety of factors ranging from cultural aspects to miscommunication. Up to this point the South Korean government seemed to be trying to cover up some problems they had which caused the problem. Now, it seems like the South Korean government is trying to find someone to point the finger at. Currently, the elusive billionaire has not come forward with any comment and it seems that very few people know much about him.

I fear that this situation will get to the point where the focus on the disaster will be taken away from the loss of the students and will be refocused on the quest to find a responsible party. With all of the different variables affecting how the South Korean government continues to proceed with this issue, the best PR move would be honest communication with the international community as well as their home community.