Being for the Benefit of Beyoncé (and Pepsi)

Recently, Queen Bey bestowed a teaser video to her loyal subjects for her upcoming single “Grown Woman”. Ever since her dynamite Super Bowl appearance, fans have been more anxious than ever to have access to new Beyoncé material. Naturally, Pepsi’s PR team decided to use the demand for their Bootylicious brand ambassador to their advantage (in fact, it was so brilliant that Diet Coke quickly attempted to follow in the Queen’s footsteps).

As a PR person who loves all things branding and a music person who loves all things Beyoncé, this video was one of the best things that could ever happen to me. Not everyone seemed to share my sentiments, however. A look at Sasha Fierce’s Facebook post premiering the new video reveals a comment by a disgruntled gentleman who laments, “We’ve waited so Long for a PEPSI COMMERCIAL?!” followed by emoticons that further emphasize his disappointment.

Was this a smart move for Beyoncé and/or Pepsi?

The mega popular Grammy winner had already received flak regarding the muddled ethics behind her deal with Pepsi, but I am going to go ahead and say it: Well played, Beyoncé. Well played, Pepsi.

Here’s the thing: Pepsi has consistently striven to remain relevant by latching on to pop icons that shoot Pepsi back into the minds of the masses. For the most part, this strategy has worked for them. The public expects this from Pepsi. The always-second-to-Coke brand had nothing to lose and everything to gain by snagging the ever-fabulous Queen Bey. Even if the “commercial” barely touches upon the brand and focuses largely on Beyoncé’s new music, Pepsi is still winning. They are now attached to her, so by promoting her new music, they are also promoting themselves.

PEPSICO BEYONCE CAN

Ah, but what about Pepsi’s most recent pop culture icon? What is this ad doing for her? Anything? I’d say yes.

I mean, really. Everyone should know better. There is no way Beyoncé would just let this all fly past her. After all, who runs the world? Beyoncé does. Because, as this article brilliantly points out: “Celebrities don’t just want creative approval anymore, they want creative control.” This is why she could turn a Pepsi commercial into a promo video. What I especially enjoyed about this promo video was that it did not just promote her latest song—it promoted her entire career. Viewers were reminded of all her past successes as all the Beyoncés of music videos past joined the most current Bey in flaunting their skills. It promoted Beyoncé as a whole.

In a time where personal branding is of the utmost importance, Beyoncé made a smart move. And, let’s not forget that Pepsi paid her for all this.

Sure, some are annoyed with her brand choice. Still others are annoyed with the way in which she is manipulating the power of anticipation through her teasers and teasers for teasers. But is she going to lose any fans over this? I highly doubt it.

Rather, she’s ensuring that she stays relevant. This Pepsi ad gives her a chance to remind people of her successful past, her successful present, and her (most likely) successful future. You go, girl. #BeyHereNow

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One of the Cool Kids

“I always feel like such a loser!” lamented one of my coolest friends as we sipped from our respective mochas at a downtown Alterra.

An extended eye roll from my side of the table caused her to further elaborate on her melodrama in an attempt to legitimize her case. Realizing halfway through her rant that she was failing to chip away at my disbelief, she raked her pink-tipped fingers through her choppy bangs and blurted out “Becky, I’m serious! This is a real issue!” before driving her face into the nook of her crooked elbow, which was resting on the edge of the table. Her edgy auburn ponytail quivered as she continued grumbling into the ridges of the wooden surface.

I suppose that’s what happens when one is pursuing a career in the fashion world.

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That’s right—this is her! Feel free to roll your eyes along with my past self.

Still, it never fails to boggle my mind when my friend gets into one of these funks. Always on top of the latest trends, my friend is gorgeous, charismatic, brilliant, and loved by everyone who comes into contact with her—save the occasional jealous female who finds my friend intimidating. As usual, I gently reminded her of all the aforementioned things. Dismissing my words with a wave of her hand, she raised her head, let out a deep sigh of exasperation, and asked how I manage to feel cool all the time.

Taken slightly aback, I assured her that I did not always manage to feel cool. Yet, as the phrase escaped from my lips, the words of a dynamic guest speaker a professor brought into my class semester filled my mind: “Be Cool, Stick Out, Make a Difference“. Maybe I should always feel cool.

Hours upon the conclusion of my friend session, I found myself wondering what it meant to truly encompass the arbitrary state of “being cool”. What do I do that makes me feel “cool”? Well, since you asked:

  1. Laugh. Laugh with reckless abandon. Interact with people who’s sense of humor aligns with yours, and don’t try and suppress the joy that bubbles out of your system. Afraid someone will be irritated by your unbridled happiness? Don’t be. As a cool person, you should know that their irritation only stems from jealousy. You are clearly having the time of your life, while they are having a mediocre day at best.
  2. Capitalize on a talent. For me, this includes figure skating. Parents and children have stopped dead in their tracks on route to the public skate rink, mesmerized by the way that my friends and I spun and leapt across the ice. The shiny national silver medal in my room helps as well. This is not to say that your coolness needs to be reaffirmed by the public. Who wouldn’t feel cool blasting N*SYNC at 5:30 a.m. while doing laps on an empty rink?
  3. Read. Do you know how many literary references are made in movies, songs, comedy acts, or simply every day life? No? Imagine how much cooler you would feel if you caught on to that obscure line from 1984 in that one Rage Against the Machine song! On a similar note…
  4. Stay up to date with pop culture. Certainly, you do not need to watch every episode of Glee. Being aware of the basic plot line and a couple main characters could be useful, however. Watch the Oscars. Read some EW articles from time to time—just to make sure you did not miss any breaking news on the latest Chris and Rihanna drama.
  5. Lend a helping hand. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Look over someone’s paper. Become a cat socializer at a local animal shelter. Opportunities to make the world a better place are in abundance. A warm fuzzy feeling will fill your soul and spill over to those around you when lending a hand. To say the least, it is a cool feeling.

Of course, there are a plethora of ways to accomplish the goal of “being cool”. This short list barely touches upon the endless possibilities. Regardless of the route you choose to tread on your quest for coolness, do be sure to ultimately reach that promised land. In the world of Public Relations, being cool is of the utmost importance. Boring people fade into the background, while the loud, creative ones with all kinds of bizarre stories rise to the top. Find out what your cool factor is and flaunt it. Know that others are trying to do the exact same thing, and refuse to be intimidated by their cool factor. Because, if you cannot connect to the power of your coolness—it is unlikely that others will be able to see it.

Being Confident

Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure of meeting with Carrie Nygren of Laughlin Constable’s Milwaukee office. I have known her for years as the mother of an old skating buddy, but recently rediscovered her as a wise woman in the advertising world. We talked about a lot of thing—the sad state that figure skating is in, the differences between the North and the South (she grew up in Tennessee), the pros and cons regarding various agencies in town, and the small world of Milwaukee PR.

As she looked over my resume, Carrie offered up one main critique: “Be more confident”

She smiled, letting the initial wave of shock behind her statement resonate with me before it faded into confusion. Furrowing my eyebrows, I look from my resume to her, then back to my resume. As I opened my mouth to question her, she laughed and explained that she knows I’m confident. “But,” she said as she pointed to the first few bullet points on my resume, “these points do not necessarily showcase that”.

I could feel my eyes reaching full expansion capacity as she continued her bullet-by-bullet explanation. Obviously, she was right. What I couldn’t believe was that I had been doing the same thing that so many women before me had done. I had been doing exactly what so many professors had been warning us about and begging us not to do.

I had been selling myself short!

I know, I know. It's shameful.

I know, I know. It’s shameful.

As Carrie knows, confidence is not something I lack. Maybe this was instilled in me through DSHA. Maybe it was through my life in the spotlight as a competitive figure skater. Maybe it was through my bombtastic friends who always make me feel like a San Fran 49er pre-SB ’13. It could just be my Puerto Rican blood. In fact, my parents might tell you that I came tumbling out of the womb radiating spunk and tenacity. I really can’t say. Regardless, I know I’m smart, funny, fun, talented, and whatnot. Plus, on the few days a month when my hair decides to drop its attitude and behave, I am nearly unstoppable!

Bringing it back to my future career, talking and writing have always been my strongest points. To the dismay of my grade school teachers and the delight of my current professors, it’s what I do best. Everyone who knows me knows this.

Yet, as Carrie pointed out—not once did I mention my communication skills on my resume. Similarly, my writing skills had hardly been touched upon. The same went for my unique ability to connect with pretty much any audience. The points on my resume could effectively let an HR person know that I have had legitimate internships, but it hardly describes the extent to which I threw myself into my work experiences and turned it into something more valuable than a job description on Big Shoes Network.

When professors spoke of women who rely on hedging as a crutch, who are afraid to ask for a raise, and who continuously fail to highlight their successes, I never thought they were referring to me. Surely, blunt and boisterous Becky rose above all that! Right?

I mean, look how strong and aggressive I am!

Look how strong and aggressive I am!

Nope. What’s worse is that I thought I was properly displaying myself to the world. I thought I was coming off as a powerful woman. Alas, I had fallen into the same trap as so many others. As it turns out, the disconnect between women’s true selves and the way they portray themselves on paper is more common than I had assumed. This type of behavior is so customary that some of us are oblivious to our own passiveness!

Talk about a much needed reality check. Looks like “amplify resume’s aggressive power” just got added to my weekend to-do list.

So, to my fellow dynamic female compadres—check yourselves! This could be happening to you. Look over your personal branding material. Could you be taking a more aggressive approach to the presentation of your skill set? Standing out in a crowd is crucial to success, and bland resume statements are the equivalent of a beige sweater.

After all, no one wants to be the Michelle of the group.

After all, no one wants to be the Michelle of the group.

Soundtrack to my Life—Dealing With It

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I am constantly listening to music.

I have an obscene amount of playlists created on my iTunes account. Some were created with specific events in mind, others are simply labeled “Mood A” and so on. I ran out of letters at one point, so I’m starting to borrow letters from other languages, such as “ñ” and “ç”. But, that’s not entirely relevant. The point is: Music defines me.

One of the friends that I lived with during my time in Madison felt similarly. We both had a working knowledge of thousands of songs and (much to the annoyance of our other roommates) occasionally spoke to each other exclusively in song lyrics. Pulling various lines from various decades, we would sing-talk at each other for hours.

Sometimes, bands and artists really nail it; on occasion, we will find a song that perfectly sums up that indefinable thought that has been racing through our heads.

Dealing With It

With the help of some songs that I have been listening to recently, I am going to discuss the events of 3/8/13-3/14/13.

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I never thought [you’d] die alone. [You] laughed the loudest, who’d have known?

About a week ago, as I was decimating a heavily sauced turkey burger and enjoying a drag show at a local restaurant where a few of my friends work, I received a phone call that shot back and grabbed a long-forgotten fear of mine from a dark corner in my brain, dragging it to the forefront of my mind and leaving it there to re-root itself in my head.

My mind went numb as I listened to the frantic voice of my younger sister on the line. I sat in shock as I registered phrases like “He shot himself in the stomach,” “No note,” “No one knows why,” and “They pulled the plug” coming from the other line.

Full of broken thoughts I cannot repair, beneath the stains of time…

When I was in high school, one of my greatest fears was that a friend would commit suicide. High school was a tough time for many of the people I knew, and the media was constantly barraging the public with the latest high school suicide rates. I learned about self-mutilation during my freshman year and was horrified to discover that this was not an uncommon practice for people in my age bracket.

But it didn’t happen. We all made it through without having to attend any of each other’s funerals. As college began and one year gave way to another, I watched everyone grow up. No longer was anyone suffering under the toils of puberty and the Mean Girls-esque high school social scene. Sure, we still struggled from time to time, but it was a different kind of struggle. A struggle that was manageable, now that we were all adults. We all knew how to talk out our problems now, and we knew when to seek professional help (there wasn’t a stigma attached to therapy anymore). Now that we were older, we stopped blaming ourselves for things that were out of our control. We had people we could trust. As adults, we learned to deal with the things that life threw at us.

Or, at least, that’s what I thought. How terribly, terribly naive of me.

2638_58416419321_795356_nDidn’t even think he had a problem…

It was an old friend of mine from my hometown, one that I had been rather close to during my high school years. As cliche as it sounds, he was one of the last people I would have ever expected to take his own life. He greeted everyone with the biggest of bear hugs—even if it was the first time he had ever met someone. People would light up when he walked into the room because his joy and fun-loving attitude were that contagious. Spending time with him ensured gratuitous amounts of laughter and singing, usually in combination with the kind of crazy adventures that result from a small hometown, a big truck, and a handful of hyper teenagers. This friend also knew how to listen. People came to him with their woes. Life’s tribulations were seemingly no match for him, as every misery-stricken friend who came to him left with a renewed sense of spirit and a gleaming smile that threatened to dissolve into giggles at any second. The kind of smile that mirrored the one that was always on his face.

Now, I am not one to over-glorify the dead. He had flaws, of course. After all, he was an unapologetic country fan. He had a tendency to cancel plans at the last minute. He broke a heart or two. Typical teen stuff. But, this was all overshadowed by the overwhelming amount of positive in that kid. Always polite, always loving, always singing, always involved with his church and community.

Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did…

As friends share old photos and memories on his Facebook wall, the same underlying message rings clearly behind everyone’s sentiments: WHY?

As was said during the eulogy at his funeral, he had a way of making people feel special. He would loudly greet people with a “[insert first and last name of person being addressed here]! HOW THE HECK ARE YA’ DOIN’?!” before they even knew he had arrived. One time he had stopped by my house unexpectedly. When I heard his typical greeting echo down the hallway, I bounced up, took three powerful strides, and leapt into his arms. Not realizing how powerful the velocity behind my excitement was, I had nearly bowled him over. The apology I had tried to offer was lost in his laughter. He had been used to those kinds of shenanigans from people. Everyone who was fortunate enough to encounter him loved him.

The entire city was in pain. We all lost a family member that night.

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And you feel the eyes upon you, as you’re shaking off the cold. You pretend it doesn’t bother you, but you just want to explode.

Alas, the world had not actually stopped turning. Days passed, and before our weary souls knew it, it was Monday. Time to drag our heavy hearts to work. Chipper coworkers would stop by before I even took my coat off and—as routine would have it—ask how my weekend went. The amount of effort it took to take a deep breath, smile, and say that it was “okay” was unreal. How was I supposed to answer that question?

My attempt to talk to as few people as possible that Monday completely backfired. I seemed to leave my desk at the exact time that everyone else got up to do something. It felt like I was forced into polite hallway conversation that day more than any other day in my 22 years on this earth. The weight of my grief was starting to be rivaled by that of my irritability. More than ever, I just wanted to be left alone to focus on work. Naturally, it had to be the day that everyone was torturing me with all kinds of questions about my weekend. Somewhere in the back of my head, a voice of reason was gently reminding me that they were not actually trying to be malicious and that I would have reveled in this attention any other week. The voice was right, of course, but it was just as equally irrelevant.

The mental friction caused by trying to continuously shove these thoughts out of my head while reminders kept flowing in was wearing on me. It was exhausting. In spite of everything, I still managed to be productive. However, my fierce level of focus was not without consequence. A raging headache plagued me for the remainder of the evening—the result of a 9 hour mind battle during which I fought hard to keep him out of my thoughts.

I can’t look out the window. I can’t look at this place. I can’t look at the stars, they make me wonder where you are.

During the days leading up to the funeral, I desperately tried to distract myself. The problem was, he was everywhere. My boyfriend and I went shopping, hoping that good ol’ retail therapy would cheer me up. On the way to a store in the mall, we passed the food court. Almost immediately, the smell of cheap Mexican food worked its way into my olfactory system.

Once the smell hit, I was taken back to a time with my late friend. We had been riding in his big, shoddy, ridiculously hick-looking truck. I had no idea where we were going, because planning a destination to our “road trips” across town conflicted with his style. I had shaken my head and giggled as he rolled down the windows and sang—no, screamed—along to some terrible country song. Suddenly, he had turned off the radio and veered into the parking lot of our local Taco Bell. He told me that night that he he hoped I was hungry, because he was buying.

Lost in this memory, I floated through the shopping trip. I hardly remember doing any shopping.

217549_6340029321_3380_nBlackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise […] Blackbird, fly into the light of the dark black night

Thursday morning eventually arrived. The day where we would lay my friend to rest had come. Work was a blur. The bus rides there and back were a blur. I only vaguely recall curling the ends of my hair and changing.

Before I knew it, I was at my parents’ house with my little sister.

Would I be out of line if I said: I miss you?

Standing in line at the wake, we smiled. There were somewhere between 12 and 20 poster boards that were covered in pictures of him at varying ages. We laughed as we recalled a few more of his stories. Ah, and there hung a string of his countless hats. I had nearly forgotten how much he had loved hats.

Turning around, I became acutely aware of exactly how vast his impact was on my community. Never before had I see my humble little church so full of people. Almost two hours before the service was scheduled to start, the seats were nearly full. Members of the church were scrambling to find folding chairs to elongate the rows. Chairs were even beginning to be set up in the foyer, just so everyone who wanted to stay could do so. Even still, people started lining up behind chairs and around the wall, knowing full well that there would not be enough seats for all who were mourning that day.

Pulled away before your time—I can’t deal, it’s so unfair! And it feels, and it feels like heaven is so far away. And it feels, yeah it feels like the world is so cold, now that you’ve gone away.

I couldn’t do it.

I had just rounded the last corner before approaching the casket and the family. As shoulders and feet shuffled, I caught a glimpse of him lying there. Lifeless. Contrasting so sharply with every memory I had with him. My throat tightened, and I stepped out of line. I couldn’t face him. I couldn’t deal with it. Ashamed, I kept my head down and my shoulders hunched slightly forward as I slipped into the back row.

Each of his younger siblings and both sets of his parents wrote letters to him and read them aloud to the congregation. The letters were a tragic, yet perfect mix of beauty, love, and pain. Their words reflected their current state: afraid, unsure, raw, broken, sincere, clinging tightly to anything they could. At that moment, their suffering seemed almost tangible. The air became thick with the pain of everyone in the room. An acidic taste developed in the back of my throat, and my lungs began to tighten. Heat rose to my face, centering itself behind my eyes. Muscles in my arms and legs began to inexplicably tense up. Slamming my eyelids shut, I silently willed myself to keep it together.

It’s alright, ’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown. So let go, let go…

And then, it was over.

Moving on autopilot, I grabbed my coat and got into the car. On the way back to Milwaukee, I slid my big, black sunglasses onto my face. The cover of darkness failed to offer enough privacy. Five or so minutes into the trip, the tension that nearly suffocated me at church was released. Finally, tears poured freely. Relief surged throughout my body. Every salty tear took a worry or question with it as it slid down my cheek. Some of the excess weight on my shoulders evaporated. A wave of peace rolled through me, and I realized that I was starting to move on. It would be a long journey, but I had taken the first steps.

Why I Loved The Oscars

CZJ at the Oscars

Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was one of my favorites. I have a large amount of movie critic fans who had a host of negative things to say about the way the show ran and the ultimate results. And of course, as many have noted, Seth MacFarlane wasn’t exactly a crowd favorite. Fortunately, as a lover of music, none of these minor details tainted my viewing.

You see, while the Oscars are typically a celebration of film, Sunday’s ceremony  celebrated the importance of music.  It highlighted the extent to which the film (if not entertainment as a whole) industry relies on the glories of music. Tantalizing tributes to musicals sent chills down my spine. Few things are as powerful as hearing the union of so many vivacious voices pairing with the booming sounds of an orchestra. It’s no coincidence that the Academy chose to commemorate 50 years of 007 with a medley of the legendary tunes that have been enhancing the identity of the series since the beginning.

My personal highlight of the night came in the form of a hot jazz number.  Chicago is my all-time favorite musical, and the 2002 movie blew my mind. I was in 6th grade when the movie came out, and the vocal performances of the powerhouse cast left me staring at the screen in awe, reflecting on what I had just experienced as the credits rolled past and the DVD defaulted back to the main menu. Catherine Zeta-Jones has always had a special place in my heart, and to see her reprise her award-winning role as the great Velma Kelly 10+ years after the smash hit movie was released and after she herself went through serious rehabilitation and treatment for her severe bipolar disorder was nothing short of phenomenal. In spite of the years that have passed and the toils she’s worked through, CZJ’s voice rang as clearly and wholly at the ceremony as it does on my well-worn DVD of the movie.

Shirley Bassey

Music is timeless. A song can summon a long-forgotten memory and replay it before one’s eyes. The clarity of an image or of a film can give away its age. Fashion trends come and go. But the sound of one’s voice, or the sound of an instrument, can live forever. Music is the fountain of youth.

Knowing that music can control an audience and fuel a cause is why the Academy chose to celebrate singers and the songs behind the movies as much as actors who brought the roles to life. Sometimes, words and body language are limiting. They can only express so many things. A defining major or minor chord can completely change the way in which a person interprets or relates to a scene.

In figure skating, competitors often chose scores from powerful movies like The Man In The Iron Mask or delightfully artistic movies like Chocolat. We do not do so because of the acting in the movie, or even the plot line. We do so because of the dynamic emotive quality of the scores. It allows us to exhibit our own forms of the characteristics the score originally defined in its film. Music gives us power.

AdeleThis is why fans of an artist get upset when they see a song being misused or misrepresented in a commercial. It pains them to see the power of a song supporting the wrong cause, or simply being forced into a misshapen mold. Using the wrong song at the wrong time can truly hack the life of a movie or a commercial to death. Malformed soundtracks can disorient a viewer and the mixed symbols can cause them to form a negative opinion of the product as a whole.

Putting the right sound to the right product is an underrated art. Few take the time to appreciate how a melody enhanced a movie, or how a song gave an event its identity. There is a fine line between empowering your product and turning off the media as well as your entire target audience. Those who dance on the line and end up taking their final bow on the side of triumph absolutely deserve our attention as well as our standing ovation.

This is ultimately why I greatly appreciate this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Finally, music gets the attention and the appreciation in the film industry that it so richly deserves. Next time you watch a movie, I encourage you to take note of the melodic accompaniments. Become aware of the way it fills your soul and aids in your cathartic development. Love music the way the Oscars did.

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Where is the (Communications) Love?

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Tuesday morning, I woke up with a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.

Unfortunate clichés aside, I truly was more inspired than usual to go throughout my day. Nearly grand jeté-ing out of bed at 7 a.m., I quickly showered and began packing my things.  My open laptop hummed, and a quick glance at the screen confirmed that my recently edited document was ready to make its grand entry into the world.  As my printer birthed a fresh stack of newly-revised resumes, I slipped into a black and turquoise dress and plugged in my curling iron.  A bowl of Special K and a few swipes of mascara later, I was out the door and speed-walking to my first class.  Aside from the brain power it took to strategically avoid the suspiciously well-hidden patches of ice on the non-salted sidewalks of Wisconsin Avenue, my mind was focused on the events that would unfold later that evening.  At around 6 p.m., I was to attend my first Reverse Career Fair.

As a graduating senior without a job already secured for mid-May, events like these give me hope.  We have all heard about “that one person” who attended a career fair or a networking event and got hired on the spot.  If only that were a common occurrence!  Nevertheless, a good number of students (like myself) look forward to these events as a chance to network with professionals and learn about companies that are hiring in their field.

So, it was with a great deal of enthusiasm and vigor that I bounded up the steps to the AMU ballroom and signed in at the registration table 20 minutes before I had originally been scheduled to arrive.  Questions swam through my mind as I walked towards the room: Will tonight be the night I meet my future employer? How many people will I get to network with (and more importantly: Will they all have a LinkedIn account)?  Did I print out enough resumes?

Ah, but alas.  Upon entering, the cruel fist of reality introduced itself to my stomach, effectively knocking the questions out of my mind.  Two of my peers were standing behind our uncomfortably vacant table shooting rage and envy-fueled glares towards the astrophysics booth kitty corner to ours.  There, approximately 89% of the employers were fighting like teenage fan girls to get a word in with the super genius equivalent of a 90s boy band behind the table.

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Ladies, please. Calm yourselves.

Hesitantly, I asked my fellow PRSSA members if anyone had yet approached our table.  Without breaking their gaze, they replied with a clipped “Nope!”

Looking around the room, I noted that a laudable amount of employers had also gathered around the other engineering and business tables in the room.  Greek Letter Organization tables were also receiving more action than us!  Aside from the other communications table, everyone was receiving a heavier flow of traffic.

As time passed, even the employers wondered what was up with the lack of attention we were receiving.  Curious as to why our table was so empty, the occasional employer would walk towards us.  Upon reading our sign and seeing (what I can only imagine was) our desperate grins, they would either throw a sympathetic look our way or sharply turn their heads and quicken their pace as they shuffled in the direction of the astrophysics table.

We did get approached by 2-3 companies, but they quickly and awkwardly cut their conversations short with us when they realized that we were all seniors.  They had been looking for sophomores or juniors to apply for their unpaid sales internships.  Before their sharply tossed business card landed on our table, they had almost reached the door.  “Tell your friends about us!” they said with a backward glance as they briskly walked out.

Disheartened, we began looking over and critiquing each other’s resumes to assure ourselves that we hadn’t completely wasted our time by attending this event.

It affected us on a deep level.  The College of Comm is often a punchline of many a mediocre joke delivered by students across campus.  I wonder if Career Services sees us in the same light.  I have attended standard MU-hosted career fairs and have had similar experiences.  I hoped that the reverse career fair would be different, but that was foolish of me.

We in the Comm school are proud of what we do, and we know that it takes a hefty amount of intelligence and wit to succeed in our fields.  So, why does Marquette continue to embarrass us at events like these?  Where were the agencies and companies with marketing/project management/communication departments?  Why must I attend off-campus events that cost anywhere from $10-$50 bucks in order to network with local professionals in my field?  Why does this site have to exist?  Why does our college have to stand alone, without the support of the university?

Where is the love, Marquette?  Why won’t you support us?

In Defense of Macklemore

Okay.  I just had to address this.

I follow The Daily Swarm on Twitter, and yesterday (Jan 28th), they tweeted this article about a Brooklyn DJ’s thoughts on Macklemore, with specific regard to his dislike of “Thrift Shop”.  It appears that Skinny Friedman was inspired to voice his thoughts after reading this even more opinionated article by Brandon Soderberg.

A few disclaimers before I begin:

  1. I have no qualms with the people who legitimately do not prefer Macklemore’s style (or rap music in general).  People have different tastes in music, and that’s fine.
  2. I completely understand if people do not like “Thrift Shop” specifically, or if they are getting sick of it being played 23x a day on every radio station (even though I, personally, am not one of those people—I crank up the volume every time).

That being said, the reason I am all up in arms is because these articles reek of ignorance.  Both authors very clearly missed the point, and have quite obviously done zero research on Macklemore and his music.  Even though Skinny admits that “Macklemore is a legitimate, self-made indie success story,” he does not feel like Macklemore is “an artist who will be around for the foreseeable future” simply because his first hit was a funny song.

Oh...right...

Right, because that’s never worked out for anyone before.

I might have been able to let that go, but then he said that “Rappers don’t break through to the mainstream with chart-topping singles; if they even have one, it usually the result of months or even years of buzz, local singles and popular tapes.”

This statement blows my mind because a simple Google search will show you that this is not Macklemore’s first song.  He has been working hard for over 12 years to try and make it by doing what he loves.  Before “Thrift Shop” went viral, he already had a sizable following of people who had been listening to and loving his earlier pieces.

Another flaw in Skinny’s article arises when he claims that Macklemore’s work “wasn’t aimed at people who like rap”.  Dear sir, what are you talking about?  Macklemore has a lot of other work out there, and if you had listened to any of his other songs, you might have made a different judgment call.  It just seems a little foolish to have done so little homework on this artist before judging him so openly and harshly on a site that was bound to get a fair amount of traffic.

Aside from that, “Thrift Shop” was not created with the intent of going viral and making a mockery of his genre.  No, it is something quite different.  Comedic personality Matthew Inman notes in his latest comic that he “paint[s] portraits of fiction, sometimes to cope, sometimes to escape, and sometimes just because it makes [him] happier” because he has “found the best way to deal with terrible things is to tell funny stories”.

Sometimes the most hilarious people lead the most difficult lives.

Sometimes the most hilarious people lead the most painful lives.

If Skinny had listened to almost any of Macklemore’s other songs, he would have quickly learned about Macklemore’s reoccurring battle with drugs, or about how Macklemore has watched drugs take the lives of several of his friends.

Getting back to “Thrift Shop”—this song was not created to mock second-hand stores or turn it into a cool fad for rich white kids (I’m looking at you now too, Brandon).  Brandon’s article boasts that Macklemore’s hit “stinks of privilege”.  What privilege?  He has been shopping in thrift stores his whole life (which discredits a solid 50% of Soderberg’s article).  Soderberg’s lack of research far surpasses Skinny’s, too.  He took offense to Macklemore’s song, claiming that “he pitches his vocal down to sound like a black dude”.  That might hold some weight, except that it features Wanz…and it says so right in title of the song.

How dare he sound like a black guy!

How dare he sound like a black dude!

Conclusion: Before you go trying to bash artists, at least look up the very song you’re directing your hate towards.  Then, conduct a basic Google search.  Maybe then you can avoid being so painfully misdirected.  Long live Macklemore—the man is doing some great work.  And as a final note to everyone, do yourselves a favor—listen to the entirety of Macklemore’s latest album.

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Ring The Alarm? Some Thoughts on Queen Bey

As everyone knows, Beyonce graced the nation with her presence during Obama’s second inauguration.  We loved it.

You wish you were this flawless.

You wish you were this flawless.

But then the unthinkable happened.  Rumors started being spread that our Queen lip-synced!  News sources all over the world started buzzing and speculating, wondering how this would affect her career and her image.  The media took such issue with whether she did or did not record her voice in advance for the inauguration that Obama and his speech kind of took a back seat to “Beyoncé-gate”.  It even permeated education systems.  In my PR Strategies class, we spent a few minutes discussing what Obama had to say.  However, we spent a solid 10-15 minutes hashing out the Beyoncé situation, discussing potential ways to resolve this “crisis” and debating if this even qualified as a crisis.

While the Beyoncé buzz developed a sizable amount of hype, the public actually seemed to be having the same reaction as Alica Keys: Why does it matter?  We all know that Beyoncé can sing.  As a dedicated lover of all things related to the wife of Jay-Z, I read every article I could find about this situation.  I also read what people were saying in the comments section.  Without doing actual math, I’d guesstimate that about 83.24% of the comments mirrored the same sentiments as Ms. Keys.

What's that? Something about me lip-syncing? Oh, I'm sorry.  I can't hear you over the sound of my NUMEROUS GRAMMYS.

What’s that? Something about me lip-syncing? Oh, I’m sorry. I can’t hear you over the sound of my NUMEROUS GRAMMYS.

So then, is this a crisis?  There seems to be an air of nonchalance in the room.  Bey’s reputation does not appear to be tarnished (unlike that of poor Ashlee Simpson or Milli Vanilli).  Even the media has moved on to speculate about her next very public performance, and many of the sources aren’t even hinting at Monday’s festivities when they bring her name up.  Does she need to issue a public statement?  Should a PR rep say something for her?  Or should she just keep quiet and let her upcoming Super Bowl performance distract the naysayers?  Can the former Destiny’s Child star just get away with anything?

In my opinion, she’s fine and should just let it go.  Beyoncé has built such a solid image for her and her music that it would take something significantly more scandalous for the public to legitimately turn on her.

But, let’s face it: I doubt Queen Bey could ever be dethroned.

The Last First Day

Never again will I wake up and prepare for the first day of the semester! It’s an odd feeling.  In just a few months, I will wrap up my undergraduate career with a degree in communication studies (and minors in PR and English Lit!).  Ideally, I’ll also have a job in an agency in the Milwaukee area.  I will then move to what I hope will be Shorewood and start making money and paying off the $80,000 of debt that I gathered during five years of higher education.

Five years.

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been five years since I graduated from high school.  As cliché as it is, it truly feels like just a few months ago I was an eager 17-year-old moving into the dorms at UW-Madison.  I remember how excited I felt that day—thrilled at all the possibilities the next few years held for me.  Ever since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Fortunately for me, I got accepted—and not only did I get accepted, a large chunk of my friends from varying cliques (West Allis, Figure Skating, Port Washington, etc…)  had also gotten accepted.  Itching to leave the nest and experience a new town and a new-found sense of freedom, it seemed like that move-in day could not come soon enough.

May 2008: The future Badgers among DSHA’s Senior class

Little did I know, most of the things I learned in college had nothing to do with the classes I took.  In fact, most of the things I learned in college were from my peers.  College students are fascinating case studies.  Every person I ran into taught me something new about human interaction.  When I took the required Philosophy courses at Marquette, I realized I already knew what the TA was teaching us.  Each type of philosophical ideal matched a person (or the decisions of a person) I met at UW.  Stoicism, Feminism, Hedonism, Utilitarianism, Nihilism, Existentialism, and more. I loved talking to people, whether at parties, over lunch, during study sessions, at work, while watching TV…whatever.  Picking their brains and getting to know them—why they think and behave the way they do—and hearing them communicate about themselves and their circumstances, was more fascinating and revealing than any lecture I attended. I wish there was a way to explain it in a few words on a resume. In spite of my inability to use my ever-increasing knowledge of behavioral patterns/types as a resume enhancer, I absolutely do not regret investing so much time honing my abilities in that area.  In fact, I truly do not regret anything I’ve done in college.  Each of my experiences taught me something, whether it was good or bad.

I had to laugh a little at how nostalgic I was feeling as I wrapped up my last first day (and first week) of this chapter in my life.  Graduation is months away, yet I already feel like my “college experience” has ended.  Perhaps it’s because nothing seems new anymore.  Perhaps it’s because I have to spend this time focusing on the future, as opposed to the present.  Perhaps it’s because so many of my friends are getting married/engaged and getting “real” jobs.  Whatever the case may be, I decided to go through and reflect on all of the old photos I have from the last 4.5 years and share some of my favorites.  Oh, college.  What a crazy time you’ve been.

Skated with UW's senior synchronized skating team at Nationals

Skated with UW’s senior synchronized skating team at Nationals during my freshman year.

Unnecessarily camped out in a tent on a bitterly cold night for the release of The Dark Knight for my 18th birthday in Madison.  We're weird.

Unnecessarily camped out in a tent on a bitterly cold night for the release of The Dark Knight for my 18th birthday in Madison. We’re weird.

Rainbow meets Lara Croft!

Rainbow met Lara Croft during my sophomore year Halloween! They’re still good friends to this day.

Went through that rebellious teenager stage a little late in life during my sophomore year.

Went through that rebellious teenager stage a little late in life during my sophomore year.

Joined the Nationally ranked UW Freestyle team during my sophomore year!

Joined the Nationally ranked UW Freestyle team!

Of course, I went to a lot of concerts.

Of course, I went to a lot of concerts.

Seriously, a lot of concerts (Can you find me? I'm on the left in the middle-ish.)

Seriously, a lot of concerts (Can you find me? I’m on the left in the middle-ish.)

Rang in several holidays with great friends, like at this 4th of July party.

Began a relationship with the best man I've ever met—Junior year.

Began a relationship with the best man I’ve ever met—Junior year.

Transferred to Marquette, moved back to Milwaukee, and began to re-experience the city.

Transferred to Marquette, moved back to Milwaukee, and began to re-experience the city.

Went to my first Packer game! They won, of course.

Went to my first Packer game! They won, of course.

Skated with my Canadian pen pal—she's a World Silver Medalist too, no big.

Skated with my Canadian pen pal—she’s a World Silver Medalist too, no big.

Saw a lot of great things happen to others, too. Adam graduated and got a job right away in his field—end of my Junior year.

Saw a lot of great things happen to others. Adam graduated and got a job right away in his field.

My little sister even graduated from high school this past summer!

My little sister even graduated from high school!

A childhood friend of mine got married.

A childhood friend of mine got married.

And my best friend got engaged!!

And my best friend got engaged this past fall!!

Twittering: A Reflection Post

From late August through early December, I tweeted with the hashtag #ADPR3600 50+ times.  I think it’s safe to say that this ongoing assignment was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable semester-long projects that I’ve participated in during my collegiate years.  Not only was it fun for me to tweet, it was fun to click on the #ADPR3600 hashtag and see what others were saying.  Seeing what others were up to was often as insightful as it was entertaining.

Sure, there were ongoing posts about Irene’s inability to stay healthy for more than two days, and at one point Rosalee and I were tweeting about Jimmy John’s, but overall it gave me the chance to learn and explore.  Through the #ADPR3600 project, I learned about Zara, some pro tips for accelerating my career, corporate communication missteps after Sandy, and more.

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Alright, but bringing up Jimmy John’s again was a mistake. I’m really hungry.

Since it’s so crucial to have a presence on Twitter in the communications field, I appreciated that this class encouraged us to develop and maintain our professional image on this popular social media source.  Thanks, Gee, for simultaneously teaching us how to hone our PR writing skills on Twitter and for ensuring that we keep up to date on the happenings in the PR world—something most classes do not make time for!

It’s been a great semester to be in Gee’s #ADPR3600 section.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for what next semester’s #ADPR3600 class has to say, too!