U2 takes over Spartan Stadium… And the Crowd Goes Wild!!

June 28, 2011

Last weekend, U2 took over East Lansing and people all throughout the state are still buzzing about it. For only the second time in Spartan Stadium history, Spartan fans and others from near and far gathered inside the stadium on a warm June Sunday night, not to cheer on the Spartan Football team, but to see one of the world’s most popular and successful music groups.

Rescheduled from one year earlier due to lead singer Bono’s emergency back surgery, the state of Michigan was buzzing with excitement about this nearly once in a lifetime experience. More than 65,000 fans young and old gathered to listen to the Irish rock band play their greatest hits and put on an amazing show.

If the music wasn’t enough to be excited about, the stage was like something out of a sci-fi movie as fans arrived and the surprises only continued as the evening wore on, including fireworks and moving stages. Although I wasn’t there, I could almost hear the concert from my house and was able to follow along with many of my friends on Twitter and Facebook to share in the experience. I captured some amazing moments posted on social media using Storify and highlighting the impact of social media, U2 also asked concert-goers to share their memories and photos from the concert on their website as well.

U2 played a similar concert in East Lansing nearly 30 years ago and fans young and old were excited for them to return to the community once more. Local businesses were thrilled with the influx of business that this once-in-a-lifetime concert brought to them. Especially in the summer months when East Lansing is less busy due to students leaving for summer break, the extra business was appreciated. The State News, Michigan State’s newspaper talked with the manager at the East Lansing Marriott who reported being sold out for the concert for the last two years.

The City of East Lansing and Michigan State also worked hard to prepare residents for the change from normal pace for a Sunday night in East Lansing during the summer. The city created a website and shared information with all its residents to prepare for the concert and make it the smallest inconvenience possible. Community members banded together and soon after the concert, the Lansing State Journal praised local crews for effective and smooth cleanup and teardown of the event.

In talking with local residents about the concert, there was no question that it was a must-have experience for all. Okemos-resident Jessi Wortley said that the stage, lighting and special effects (and of course the music) were some of the best she’d ever seen. Sharing the experience with her husband was one she will never forget and I’m sure thousands of other attendees feel the same. Mason-resident John Hayner called the concert “epic” noting it was the largest one he’d ever been to and an amazing experience for a fan of more than 12 years. Berkley-resident Stacy Schwartz drove more than an hour to Lansing for the unique experience, noting that although she prefers more intimate settings for concerts, U2 and the crowd’s energy coupled with the giant screen, made Spartan Stadium feel much smaller.

Although the concert itself is news enough for East Lansing, another big story does arise in the aftermath of this huge event. Spartan Stadium is now getting new grass; partly because of the concert and partly because it was time. In originally planning the concert, MSU planned to replace the grass following the concert, as the metal panels and stage bring significant wear to the field. After the one-year postponement, it’s now time for Spartan Stadium’s field to get a makeover, thanks to grass that has been growing in Graff’s Turf Farms in Colorado since April 2010. Believe it or not, choosing new grass is not as simple as one might think, due to the short transition period before the season started, which is why Michigan State is bringing the grass all the way from the Rockies. Turf managers will have to regrade the field and it will take a few years before the field is at its top level for performance.

From the sounds of it, U2’s show and I’m sure the significant fees they paid Michigan State made the concert a roaring success for everyone involved. Now that the show is over, and the stage is gone, the big question is… what’s next for East Lansing?

Check out some highlights from the concert that were posted on social media outlets.

Advertisements

Chris Brogan- Giving out great information, one blog at a time

June 25, 2011

Although I am a fan of social media and a public relations professional, I can’t say that regularly reading blogs is a pastime of mine. However, when I do want to get some advice or look up something interesting related to communications/journalism and social media, Chris Brogan is always the first person I start with.

Brogan is the president of an online education and community business called Human Business Works, which helps small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. His blog has a wide range of topics (almost to the level of Ragan.com) with topics ranging from social media to book reviews to human business. What has intrigues me about Brogan is that his focus is helping companies/entrepreneurs realize their potential and much of his focus is on embracing new media technologies.

The vast amount of information included on Chris Brogan’s blog makes it a great resource and a place to gather new ideas. What I like the most about Brogan is that within the vast information he provides, he never seems to tell people exactly what to do, just gives advice and suggestions on how to be successful. Although Brogan’s opinions are used throughout his resources, they are never so pushy that readers can’t make their own opinions.

Chris Brogan is known for his expertise in social media and business that he shares through his blog- Chrisbrogan.com (Photo courtesy of Becky Johns- Becky-Johns.com)

I also greatly value that through his blog, Brogan manages to connect readers with resourceful people, helpful new media tools and other valuable information. Brogan’s blogs have become so popular worldwide that he reviews books and speaks all over the place, making his experiences and blogs even more interesting to read. Another thing I really like about Brogan is his confidence and sincere want to help people. The “Best of” page on Brogan’s blog is one of my favorite places to visit. If I want to know what’s new in business or marketing or social media, Chris Brogan is the first person I check with (online that is).

Brogan’s blog is fresh and innovative, in part because Brogan is always looking at technologies and that way business works and asking us all to look deeper. Reading Chris Brogan’s blog reminds me to evaluate the way things are done and think about whether we can improve. Reading the ideas and tips he provides helps me continue working on myself as a young professional actively engaged in social media and public relations.

His innovative style and creative way of thinking has led thousands of people to connect with him as I have through his blog and social media. His creativity has not gone unnoticed, and he has brought in several awards because of it. I look forward to continuing to improve my skills and work in part due to his inspiring thoughts and would encourage other young professionals within the PR/journalism industries to tune into Brogan and do the same.

Learn from Chris Brogan today via his blog at http://www.chrisbrogan.com, follow him on Twitter @chrisbrogan or engage with him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ChrisBroganMedia. It will be worth your while.

Enhancing Government Reporting: A database for reporters

June 25, 2011

Through my work in public relations and government throughout the last few years, I’ve realized that the media outside of Lansing itself do not understand what is happening in the Michigan Legislature. In addition, coverage outside of Lansing is very limited due to the costs/resources it would take to send reporters to the state capital.For this week’s assignment, I am creating a concept as if I were applying for funding from the Knight News Challenge.

To help enhance the reporting of what is happening in the Legislature in Lansing, I am proposing creation of an interactive database that will break the work occurring in the Legislature down into common language that everyone can understand. Although there are websites that detail the bills within the Legislature, this information is not in plain English.

A new database for reporters covering the Legislature in plain terms with audio/video/photos available would enhance the coverage of state politics throughout Michigan.

 

This database would list bills, organizing and cross-referenced for ample usage by the media and public. Bills would be searchable by sponsor, topic area, and status. A section for each bill would consist of a plain-terms summary of the legislation, as well as audio and videos of the bill sponsors and other relevant legislators talking about the legislation and why it matters. Audio and video of committee meetings and floor debates also will be available. This audio and video will be interesting to the general public, but its main purpose is to assist journalists with direct resources for their news stories in covering politics.

Currently, coverage of state politics beyond Lansing is very slanted and sometimes inaccurate. Part of this is due to the complicated language that exists regarding bills and also because it is difficult to cover a story in the state capital well from elsewhere in the state. Having this information available to journalists online will ensure that there is a better understanding of the bills moving through the Legislature, helping news coverage be more accurate and understandable for the average citizen. In addition, news stories throughout the state will be more interesting due to added audio/video and photos that will be available to media outlets from this database.

Although in different forms some of this information is online, it is often difficult to understand. The plain-terms language of bills does not exist anywhere on the internet (at least not through a reputable source) and the readily available audio/video and photos are not available anywhere else. Since there is nothing out there like it, this would be extremely innovative. This idea could also be adapted to occur in all states for the same purposes.

In order to be successful in this project, the database would be run by public relations professionals and communications departments within the Legislature who have extensive experience developing audio/video segments of events. The writers within the communications departments also have experience taking complicated legislative terms and making them easy to understand for the general public. If this project were to be be created, a non-partisan department to manage this database would need to be created to ensure that the pros and cons of the bills are explained from both sides.

CoverItLive: Tigers vs. Rockies

June 17, 2011

This week, I used the social media platform Cover It Live to live blog during the Detroit Tigers game vs. the Colorado Rockies on Friday, June 17, 2011. The Tigers are in Colorado for an inter-league game, so I watched the game on Fox Sports from home.

I started using CoverItLive during the second inning of the game. At that point the game was tied at 1-1 but quickly the Tigers began losing. Although I watch the Tigers often, I don’t usually play attention to the exact details of every pitch of the game, so covering it in this manner was new for me. I am a big baseball fan but definitely didn’t know all the proper terminology and player names, so I struggled a bit trying to cover everything so quickly.

 

I’ve briefing covered and sent update to Twitter for work, but never have I used a platform like CoverItLive with so many options. Although I struggled with inputting Twitter streams and videos… linking to stories and uploading photos was very easy. Although CoverItLive was great to use, covering an event that didn’t end up being exciting (Tigers were losing terribly) was a bit depressing.

Although CoverItLive is a great platform, unless I need to have the coverage of what I’m doing later, I’ll probably just live Tweet instead. Check out  my CoverItLive coverage of the game here: http://lolo083.posterous.com/test

Top 5 PR writing mistakes… and how they can mess up your message

June 11, 2011

This semester, I am also doing an independent study focused on editing PR writing. In reviewing student papers as they try to learn PR writing techniques for the first time, it made me realize that writing mistakes are so common in public relations… both at the start of one’s career and sadly sometimes well into one’s career. Below I have identified what I believe are the top 5 most commonly made writing mistakes in the public relations industry.

5. AP Style Errors

AP Style is the standard that public relations professionals and journalists follow in developing media materials and news stories. In school, AP style is drilled into students’ heads and it is for a reason—it is the standard that you are SUPPOSED to follow. Following AP Style standards is an essential part of being a public relations professional, not something to disregard once receiving a diploma. Having standards like AP Style and ethics are what sets the media industry apart and not following these standards shows a lack of respect for the industry and makes a journalist/PR professional look inexperienced and irresponsible.

4. Proper capitalization is key

A common mistake that I consistently see many people commit is capitalizing words that shouldn’t be. Capitalization is not supposed to be used to add emphasis and there are standards for using it. Some of these standards are within the AP style book, but others are just common sense. Obviously, words at the start of sentences will always capitalized, but people often decide that other words within sentences deserve capitalization as well. It is a common misconception that capitalizing a word makes it more important.

A great example is talking about a company. When you mention a company name, you capitalize it, but when you refer to it as “the company” or “the firm” later on, it should not be capitalized. Even if it is implying a proper name, it does not earn a capital letter. Other common capitalization errors are seasons, directions, languages and nationalities. Combined with AP Style, getting a grasp on your capitalization will make you a much better writer.

3. Proper grammar matters

There is a reason we are taught grammar in school. Using improper grammar in your writing can make your message confusing and incorrect. Some of the biggest grammar pho-pa’s to watch out for are using the proper tense, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and pronoun errors. Also making sure your subjects and verbs agree is key to ensuring your writing makes sense and is top-notch.

2. Write for your audience

When writing, it is essential to consider your audience. In learning to write in a PR manner in school, professors tell students they should write at an 8th grade level. Although this is a good rule to go by most of the time, considering who you are writing for takes discretion and judgment. If you write for a newspaper, the 8th grade rule works, but if you write for an engineering magazine for example, you have the ability to use more technical terminology and phrasing in your writing. In addition, a common mistake is to assume that readers will know what you are describing in your writing. Assuming anything is a bad idea and it is more advisable to do a short explanation of a person/company/concept to eliminate any confusion. To see if something needs more explanation, ask someone outside your field.

A real-life example of this is in my work within in the Michigan Legislature. We try to use the 8th grade rule, but at the same time try to avoid “Lansing-speak” or political terms that the average individual would not understand.

1. Punctuation changes everything

Making a punctuation mistake can completely change the meaning of your writing. These are probably the most common and least caught mistakes in both PR and journalism. Commas and semi-colons are the punctuation marks that are wrongly-used most often. For example, signs or warnings without commas can send the completely wrong message. “Slow children crossing” and “Slow, children crossing” have two very different meanings. In addition, quotes require proper punctuation; otherwise what someone said can be completely misconstrued. Using improper punctuation in business writing can be extremely embarrassing and often can send the wrong message and become a serious problem. Punctuation should be used to assist the emphasis of the grammar you include in the sentence and to assist with the flow of your writing. Taking the extra time to check your punctuation will make a big difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Twitter Chat Experience

June 11, 2011

This week I participated in the #journchat, a weekly chat between journalists, PR professionals and bloggers. The weekly chat was started by Sara Havens (@prsarahavens) a social media correspondent. I had never participated in a twitter chat before and found the experience very interesting.

To easily follow the chat, I created a stream on my Hootsuite account, allowing me to participate in the chat without being interrupted by other tweets in my regular twitter stream. Other than occasional interaction I have with other PR professionals via Twitter, I don’t normally discuss journalism/PR topics outside of the classroom.

The Twitter chat gave me the opportunity to interact with other journalists and PR pros around the country on a variety of topics. The chat I participated in included questions on social media guidelines, roles of journalists and determining who is media in the age of bloggers. It was very interesting to discuss current social media/PR/journalism topics with fellow media professionals and via this chat I found many new interesting people to follow via Twitter. I learned a lot through this chat and intend to participate in more of these in the future.

To participate in #journchat, get on Twitter on Monday nights at 8 p.m. and start tweeting! For an overview of my interaction in this week’s chat… check out my Storify summary- http://storify.com/lauradaien/my-first-twitter-chat.

Storify needs some work

June 5, 2011

This week I experimented with a new social media platform called Storify. This platform allows for the combination of items posted on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr all in one place. The idea behind Storify is to take information from all these items to help you build your own story. Since information is constantly being posted on social media sites, the connection between them is ingenious.

The ability to pull information from any of these outlets to create your own story is not like anything else out there. As I used Storify to create my blog this week on the lack of preparation for the strong storms we recently had in Michigan, I was impressed by the ability to pull photos and videos to complement my story from different mediums. The ability to drag and drop information into the story is extremely convenient.

As I worked to compile my story, I had lots of trouble with the text function on Storify. I intended to include much more text as I would in a traditional blog post, but Storify would not let me do so. Beyond typing a sentence or two, the text function was very difficult to use. Every time I tried to go back and edit what I had written, it wouldn’t allow me to edit in the way I wanted to.

In the end, after spending hours trying to get the medium to allow me to manipulate my text and actually write a story, I settled on a story highly focused on the photos and posts with minimal text. If the point of Storify is to be able to tell your story and use the posts to supplement it, then I think it needs some work to improve the text function. At this point, I think Storify is a great place to gather information from various social media sites in one place, but I don’t see it becoming a popular social media outlet and don’t see it making a real impact on journalists and the media at all.

Check out my post: http://storify.com/lauradaien/is-reporting-the-weather-ever-a-good-story

State budget approved months before deadline

May 29, 2011

This week, for the first time in over 30 years, Michigan’s state budget was completed months before the constitutional deadline. In the November election, Republicans took the majority in the House of Representatives, retained the Michigan Senate and gained the governor’s office. With leaders on the same side of the aisle in each chamber and the executive office, Republicans set out to change the status quo in Lansing.

For many years, completing the Michigan budget has been an extreme struggle, with priorities varying between the House, Senate and executive office. For the first time in a long time, the 96th Legislature made completing the budget and reducing Michigan’s $1.5 billion budget deficit the priority.

Michigan's Capitol Building

Michigan's Capitol Building in downtown Lansing where House and Senate session are held.

The 2010 census showed that one million less people live in Michigan. This means fewer taxes coming in to pay for programs and also should have meant less funding needed for programs. Although reducing spending is not easy, Michigan legislators and Gov. Snyder took on the task, though it wasn’t a popular one. Special interest groups throughout the state immediately began screaming at the concept of a reduction in funding, regardless of the fact that the state no longer has money to fund programs as it once did.

Budget negotiations looked at every aspect of state spending and evaluated it for effectiveness. For the first time in a long time, Michigan’s budget is based on real dollars, not one-time funding from the federal government or band-aid fixes that only pushed problems to the next year.

Michigan legislators did their best to stretch every dollar as far as possible, but this still didn’t make many people happy. Reductions were included in the budget across the board as an effort to get Michigan out of debt, but lawmakers did their best to keep reductions to Michigan’s educational system to a minimum. Educators specifically have expressed extreme anger over reductions in education funding. After negotiations between legislative leaders and Gov. Snyder’s office, education cuts were reduced to less than two percent, the smallest reduction in the entire budget.

In January, legislators had imposed a deadline on themselves of May 31 to complete the budget. After watching recent history, most people were skeptical it would be done, but Michigan legislators kept to their word. Ari Adler, press secretary for House Speaker Jase Bolger, said that completing the budget before Memorial Day allows local governments and school districts to accurately balance their own budgets and plan for the upcoming year. For many years, those relying on funding had to guess as to the level of state funding they’d receive, causing serious deficits once actual funding was approved. Legislators and Gov. Snyder in Lansing made it a goal to not let this happen anymore.

Lansing Politics

Where Elected Officials Work in Lansing

The real question is whether this will be the new status quo in Lansing. It would be really nice to see state government putting those they serve in the forefront and making the best decisions for the state’s future. This seems to be the trend as the 96th Legislature has begun, but time will only tell if this remains the case. In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Is the quality gone?

May 22, 2011

A topic I have been extremely interested in for some time is how the 24-hour news cycle impacts the quality of news being broadcast throughout the world. Long-gone are the days where stories are broken in the morning paper or on the 11 o’clock news. We are now immersed in a world where news is broken immediately as it happens and through several different mediums. The widespread availability of the internet, social media and smart phones has led us to crave information no matter what time it is or where we are.

News is reported practically as it happens and often times even before all the details have been figured out. Instead of a TV station interrupting a program to break a news-story (which occasionally still happens), now news is posted on their website then to social media outlets (such as Facebook and Twitter) to reach millions of people before the news story ever would have been announced through traditional means. One thing media outlets need to be careful of its how they break news. Even if news is disseminated via Facebook, Twitter or another social media medium, it should always link back to their outlet. Making sure to “break” the news on your own website before publishing it via social media is essential to a media outlet’s credibility. There is still debate on whether breaking news online first is the right thing to do or not. Reuters put out a “memo” to journalists last year saying breaking news should still be put out on the wire first before going to Twitter. One reason behind their reasoning is that journalists have access to information posted on social media and the story could be scooped by a competitor who wasn’t aware of it. It is a great point for journalists to remember having the BEST story may have just as much impact as getting it out first.

Now that the information is available so quickly, many people are declaring themselves journalists, which is a slippery slope to walk. Determining the validity of “breaking news” becomes harder and harder when there is so much available. This is an issue for journalists trying to determine what real news is and what is made up fodder on the internet. It can be a serious issue for journalists on a fast deadline trying to find out if a source/post is reputable or not. Using information distributed or posted online that is not reputable will hurt the credibility of a news outlet and the reporter. The news industry first and foremost still is the most credible place to obtain news even if it’s via the internet. The Pew Research Center reported last year that 46 percent of those surveyed still get their information from a news outlet, but via the internet. 56 percent of individuals surveyed use portal websites such as GoogleNews or Yahoo that compile news together. This shows that although news is often gathered in different ways than it was 20 years ago, news outlets are still the most reputable sites, even if they are the online versions.

One side-effect of the fast-paced 24-hour news cycle is a lack of complete news stories. Recently, the American Medical Association came out saying that incomplete health stories discussing symptoms and new treatments have misled Americans and wasted significant times in doctor’s offices. This is just one example of how news is being reported today. Instead of a complete in-depth story, the segment/article is often done to a bare minimum and information is being left out. If this continues, it may become difficult for the news industry to continue to be reputable sources. If this trend continues…. It will be difficult to determine what is REAL news and what isn’t.

Welcome!

May 18, 2011

Welcome to my blog! I will be using this blog as part of my social media and the news course this summer at MSU! Happy reading!