What makes a blog eye-catching?

One blog that I regularly follow is Makeup By Caitlyn Michelle. Caity is a good friend of mine, so when she started doing professional makeup, I was all for supporting her in every way possible. Her blog was one of the first platforms she used to talk about her business. She also used it to share makeup tips and tricks, her portfolio, opinion pieces, and more. I like following her blog because I never knew much about makeup, but her posts inspired me to learn more.

As I said, I wasn’t never a makeup guru, but the way Caity’s content is put together helps me learn easily. Through her blog I’ve learned how certain makeup items work, and how to look into different types of makeup. I like how she mixes up content, too. It isn’t always about makeup. Sometimes she will post about how to decorate your home or how to achieve your yearly goals. Mixing up the content helps keep the blog fresh.makeup2

makeup1The overall design of the blog is clean, concise, and eye-catching. I like how you can see her latest posts with a tidbit of information under each title and graphic, which then allows you to read more if you choose. Additionally, I like the photos she chooses to add to her posts. They help make the content stand out – it’s very professional looking!

Lastly, I like how the blog is integrated into her overall professional website caitlynmichelle.com. This allows the user to go back and learn more about her, her services, and portfolio. What I find amazing about the site is that I know Caity does more than makeup, and she displays it perfectly on her website under “about us”– allowing people to see what she can help them with (for example, she links to her Etsy shop). The social media icons and widgets on the site allow for more ways to connect with Caity, too.

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Knowing Caity personally, she is a rockstar! She does makeup on top of a full-time marketing job, and is also a graphic designer and does freelance work. She also touches on fashion by assisting others in shopping and cleaning out their closet. Caity is extremely busy, so it’s impressive how she is able to keep up with her blog regularly and still make it eye-catching! Her blog is a great example of what makes a blog stand out.

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What’s next for communications?

This week was our second to last Intro to Digital Communication class – I can hardly believe is already almost over! Over the last 10 weeks, we discussed digital convergence, public relations, advertising in the digital age, and much more. All of us talked about what we thought was the most interesting thing we learned in this class, and I must say we have a smart group!

I originally said in the class that digital convergence was the most interesting to me – mainly because we don’t really think about how technology has changed how we communicate, we just take it as it comes. However, one thing that interested me the most was the topic of “Big Data.” I talked about Big Data in a previous post, but I really think it is so captivating how it continues to advance.

It’s a little mind-blowing to think about how much digital communication has evolved over time, and how much of our personal life is out in the digital space. Our interests, thoughts, inquiries, etc. are all out there for the Internet to analyze and break down to assist organizations in targeting their consumers; thus, leading to more customization when we search the web. We continue to see advertisements for things we are interested in show up on our Facebook page or Pandora playlist, but where will they go next? We see how they play out in the current digital space, but with continuing changes, it makes you wonder what other types of data they can collect from us and how it’ll be used.

All of the changes over the years really makes you wonder – what else will be different in the future? We’ve seen many technologies played out in movies come to life, such as robots or self-driving cars, but what’s next? I’d love to hear what you think!

I’m sad to see this class is almost over, but very thankful for all I’ve learned. It has reminded me that I have taken on the right field for work!

 

 

Advertising in a Digital World

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communications class we discussed how digital growth has most dramatically changed in the advertising industry. Advertisements have become more diverse as we continue to see changes in technology. Below are a couple examples of what we talked about in class.

  • Ads in Facebook videos. Facebook showing advertisements in their videos is now similar to how we see many videos on YouTube. Since Facebook always looks to be the most dominant social network out there, they continue to add features and limits to specific parts of the site – in this case, video. Facebook won’t allow you to share a YouTube video on their page and have it auto-play, mainly due to the fact that they want you to upload your video to their site (it shows up as a thumbnail when shared from YouTube. This also allows them to places ads in the video and make money that way. Users typically have to watch some or most of an ad before watching a video – a new, kind of forced, way of advertising. Facebook is also encouraging video advertisements for your business – read more here.
  • Snapchat geofilters. Snapchat geofilters (see samples below) are one of the more diverse out of the most recent digital advertisements created. Snapping a video or photo and then swiping left allows you to choose filters based on your location or a campaign that is going on. For example, as you can see below, most cities now have filters for you to use when you send your snaps to others – which, in turn, promotes the city. Many companies use this technique to spread awareness of their brand, campaign, or event. One example that comes to mind is the show Scream Queens. I remember seeing commercials for it on TV, but when the pilot show was about to come out, a Snapchat filter was created to promote the show. The geofilters usually are unique and entertaining, which leads to “snapchatters” to use the filter – without always realizing they’re helping promote a brand, campaign, or event.

snapchat geofilyersPhoto source: snapchat.com/geofilters

Other advertisements we see today include podcast ads, social influencers, personalized ads tailored to our Internet activity, and much more. All of these have impacted the advertising industry greatly – making it harder to keep up with all the different platforms to use, but also making it easier to reach the target audience. It’s funny to think about how radio, print, and TV were the most popular way to advertise – now there are almost too many!

Digital Divide: The Global Difference

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communications class, we discussed the digital divide on global, social and personal levels. The one I found most interesting was the global divide – the difference in technology between industrialized and less industrialized nations. Wealth, language, lack of reading ability/education, etc. are all factors that contribute to the industrialization of a location. The thought of life without Internet made me think of how lucky we are as a nation to have it.

It isn’t only not having the Internet that is crazy to me, but the lack of opportunity in some countries, such as Eritrea. In America, we are able to go to school and get a proper education to prepare us for our future beyond school. In addition, if that isn’t easy for some of us, there are usually plenty of options for us to obtain an education. It is expected of us to get an education.

Now, we have the Internet to give us even more opportunities. We can look for scholarships, apply to college, learn new languages, go to school, etc. – all online! We are SO incredibly lucky to be afforded these possibilities that sometimes we take them for granted. When we think of the global divide and the countries who aren’t offered the same things we are, we have to remember to be grateful for what we have and what we can do with our lives, because there are others out there wishing they could do what we can.

It’s imperative to help others when you can. That’s a big thing I do in life. It’s important to think of how you can make a difference in the world, and to act on it. So, how can we help other countries become industrialized enough to get Internet? I would love to hear your ideas! It would be great to all come together and be able to make someone’s life by giving the gift of the Internet.

How digital convergence has changed us

Digital convergence is coming together of multiple media entities over time. This combination of media platforms allows us to view content in many ways. For example, we no longer get the news just from the newspaper or television; we can get it on social media and mobile applications, too. The way we read or listen to the news is a combination of the five eras of communication: oral, written, print, electronic and digital (Campbell, Richard, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos. Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (2016 Update), 10th ed.. Macmillan, 2016.). The way we define digital convergence focuses on one, some or all of these eras.

Along with the various ways we get our news, comes “fake news.” How do you know the difference between real and fake news? It can sometimes be obvious, and sometimes be hard to determine. People share articles without reading them (they just read the headline) and we may not know if they’re valid unless we do some investigating. Here are some ways I verify real news:

  • Check for grammatical errors.  Editing is key with breaking news! If there is an error, that means the person or organization is not paying close attention to how users will view the content.
  • Check other news-related websites to see if there is a similar story. If I don’t find another story that is related to the original article I saw, especially if it’s breaking news, I won’t believe it until multiple news channels push it out.
  • Check out the source who pushed out the news. With all the satire websites out there, it’s important to check where the news is coming from. I typically will trust the national organizations (CNN, Fox News, NBC, etc.) and some local channels.

The examples above were some of the verification procedures we discussed in my first “Introduction to Digital Communications” graduate class. While there are many other ways to determine fake news, I believe the three above are the most important. The way digital media has changed news, it’s more important than ever to fact check the article.

Digital media has completely changed the way we function in society – it truly amazes me how different the communications world is from when I was little and how it is now. My age group was probably the last group to experience childhood without cell phones and know what life without social media was like; however, I do see the advantages of social media and I embrace it! Social media has been very good to me. Here are some things that I was able to achieve with it:

  • My job. I was living in Columbus, Georgia and was trying so hard to find a job in Syracuse for when I knew my husband and I were moving back. I luckily was able to find my job, Web Specialist II at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, through a LinkedIn post.
  • Maintain relationships. Digital media has helped me stay in touch with family and friends all over the country. Not only am I able to share updates with my Facebook friends on my life, but it’s another way to communicate via messenger, photos, status updates, etc. One great example is when my husband was deployed overseas. He had no access to a phone, but with the magic of Facebook, we were able to talk almost every day. Back when my mom deployed in 2002, I unfortunately did not have this advantage. I’d have to wait days to get a phone call from her.
  • Save lives. I am a huge advocate for animal rescue. When I lived in North Carolina, I learned how harsh animals are treated in certain states. Through the power of social media, I was able to connect with others at numerous shelters, especially Harnett County Animal Shelter, and join groups to help save lives. I can honestly say my family was able to save many lives all because of social media!
  • My dream of doing a flash mob! It was always been a goal of mine to participate in a flash mob dance, and I was able to successfully do this on our wedding day! It sounds crazy to include this as an example, but it really is crazy how it all came together with a group of girls scattered across the country – thanks to private Facebook groups and other social media outlets. You can read more about the flash mob here.

With that said, I think my age group had the best of both worlds – life with and without social media. I can truly say that I benefited greatly from both times in my life. While digital media has been around for many years now, it still continues to change. I’m excited for what the future holds!

V-WISE San Antonio

Earlier this month I had the opportunity of a lifetime to embrace my social media skills. I was asked to take the lead on social media support for the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) Conference in San Antonio. V-WISE holds conferences in various locations across the U.S. where veteran women and military spouses come together to enhance their business ownership skills. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) has many programs for veterans, service members and military families – V-WISE being one of the most popular ones. The Whitman School of Management created V-WISE as part of their entrepreneurship projects.

My supervisor told me V-WISE is an amazing experience because the women are so passionate and emotional about their business ideas. He was right – this was a very touching and motivational event and I know I learned a lot from it.

On the very first night, I met Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler, U.S. Navy Chief of Information – first woman to hold this position! She was acknowledged as the FIRST honoree for her outstanding accomplishments.

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The instructors were all well-known across the country and really knew how to motivate the women and provide them with the proper knowledge needed to run a successful business. It is great that they all take time out of their busy schedules to set aside a weekend and spend time discussing entrepreneurship with these incredible women.

Not only were the instructors inspiring, but so were the participants. The journeys these women have that led them to attend V-WISE is remarkable. I interviewed three featured participants – Tia Copes, a military spouse who became a grief counselor after her husband was killed in action; Lila Holley, a veteran writing books to share stories of military women in their own voices; and Tara Hutchinson, a wounded veteran who began her own jewelry business. Read more about these inspirational women here.

The last night ended with keynote speaker Nicole Baldwin, a V-WISE graduate, who had to overcome many obstacles, including tragedies, in life to get to where she is today with her business. She reminds us all to never give up on our dreams no matter what comes our way!

The final day of the conference ended mid-afternoon, so my colleagues and I went out exploring. The San Antonio River Walk is impressive! It was also great visiting the Alamo and learning more about it.

It was so fun to be part of this conference and run the social media channels! You can learn more about V-WISE at San Antonio by reading this news post, or by following the program on Facebook and Twitter.

Waterspouts at Hilton Head

My friend Kevin lives in Hilton Head and sent me this picture of two waterspouts on Hilton Head Island Beach. He said there about 25 waterspouts throughout the day! It would be so cool to see one of these in person!

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VA Secretary visits SU campus

So this is not related to the weather at all, but I had to blog about this moment! U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visited the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) and other places on campus. We had a staff photo taken with him and I had to make sure I was in the front :)!

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I always geek out when well-known or famous people are around me. My friend Kellie, who I worked with at Fort Benning, always got excited about people visiting too. We got to meet Capt. Kristen Griest together. I definitely miss her being around for events like this!

Before he came to IVMF, he spent time and talked business with the IVMF’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities-SU 2016 cohort at Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. He also received a “Real Veterans Wear Orange” shirt! (Side note: check out #EBVSU10 on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram – it was EBV’s 10-year anniversary this year and we celebrated by featuring some veterans in the program. Very inspiring stuff! Glad to work at a place where I know I am helping others. Read more about the 10-year anniversary celebration here – be sure to watch the tribute and thank you videos – they are amazing and show the impact EBV has had on veterans and their families!)

After McDonald met the leadership team and got a photo with us at the IVMF, he did a presentation on “Values Based Leadership” at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at SU. Watch the video below to learn more about his presentation and visit.

Storm over the State of Liberty

Check out these beautiful pictures of a storm brewing over the Hudson River and the Upper New York Bay last night. Thank you to my friend Samantha for sending these to me! I wish I could have witnessed this in person!

Tornado coverage: May 9, 2016

This last Monday brought lots of tornadoes and destructive storms to several states. The video below states more than 150 severe weather reports were issued in eight states, with more than 20 tornadoes that touched down. The video below is a must-see. My Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with tornado videos — I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Many, many prayers to all the families and pets who had to go through these tough times — especially to those who lost their lives and their families. Please take a moment to honor those lives lost, and to pray the places hit return to normal quickly.

Tornadoes are extremely dangerous. Many states are known for their intense tornado seasons, but sometimes tornadoes can occur in places that are not known for tornadoes as well. Make sure you are prepared for when severe weather strikes. Click here to read FEMA’s safety tips and how to prepare for upcoming tornadoes.