Thank-You Notes, 2009 Style

As 2009 draws to a close, I’d like to copy Jimmy Fallon, my favorite late-night TV host, who does a segment every Friday night in which he writes “thank-you notes” to different people, events, objects, places, etc.  They’re irreverent, sarcastic and hilarious.

Jimmy writing a thank-you note to Simon Cowell.

Since I can’t get a full video embedded into this post, here’s a sample of the thank-yous:

Thank you, Oprah – for hosting a Christmas special at the White House this Sunday.  Not everyone gets to sit down with the undisputed leader of the free world…so I’m sure Obama’s really, really excited.”

“Thank you, screensaver that popped up while I thought I was doing work – for reminding me that, not only have I made zero progress, but I haven’t made a single keystroke or gently nudged my mouse for the past fifteen minutes.”

Now, a la Jimmy Fallon, I’d like to write my own thank-you cards for 2009:

Thank you, Liz Lemon – for being my new source of inspiration.  Since I started watching 30 Rock this summer, you have helped me embrace my inner nerd and not feel guilty about eating five donuts in one day, dressing up in a Princess Leia outfit to avoid jury duty and calling people “apple-faced goons.”  None of which I have actually done, but might be more inclined to do because Liz Lemon did it first.

Thank you, Oregon Ducks – for winning the Civil War and going to the Rose Bowl.  I can’t think of anything more wonderful than screaming my lungs out at one of your home games.  You’ve turned me into a huge college football fan and I can’t wait for next season.

Thank you, Twitter – for more or less changing my life – or at least the way I live it.  Now, when something cool happens, my first thought is how to condense awesome occurrences into 140 characters.  You’ve allowed me to connect with people all over the country and have forced me to come up with an explanation for why I use “tweet” in my daily vocabulary.

Thank you, skinny vanilla lattes – for always putting me in a good mood.  Also, thanks for giving me a good way to rationalize spending money; buying all these lattes, I have to be boosting the economy, right?

And last, but certainly not least, Thank you, my family – for giving me life advice, an education and for taking me on cool trips to places like New York City and Disneyland.  I mean, there’s more, of course, like food and a roof over my head, but I don’t want to get too sappy.

What thank-you notes will you be writing as 2009 comes to its end?  There are many more I could write, but I had to keep it relatively short.  I have to go finish my Christmas shopping.

Learning from the Pros

If you’re a PR student, having the opportunity to dialogue with recruiters from one of the world’s largest independent public relations firms is invaluable and exciting.  Yesterday, Waggener Edstrom, one such firm, invited several UO PR students into their Portland offices.  We had the opportunity to learn more about Waggener Edstrom and hear recruiters’ perspectives on resumes, personal branding and more.

Six members of WE’s Talent Acquisition Team talked with us about what they look for in a job candidate and offered tips for job seekers in the PR industry.  My own job search won’t happen for a couple years, but I learned a lot from the tips they shared.  Some of the “gems”:

  • It’s important to demonstrate your digital fluency to a prospective employer.  This was a new phrase for me, which I understood to mean your ability to demonstrate proficiency in a number of different digital media.  It’s not just about being able to use a Flip Cam, though; it’s also about being able to demonstrate how you use digital platforms like social media.
  • Four C’s: Though it wasn’t specifically communicated as “the Four C’s”, the team discussed the importance of knowing the company, its competition, its clients when you come into an interview, and the necessity of coming to an interview with questions.  It seems obvious, but I know that I can spend so much time anticipating questions that I forget to do extensive background research.  Doing background research will inevitably lead to questions you want to ask the interviewers.
  • You can share anecdotes during an interview that aren’t necessarily related to a public relations internship or experience.  In my case, I didn’t gain PR experience while working as a nanny this summer, but I still learned a lot about solving problems on the fly, working with a team and dealing with long-term challenges.  In an interview, I can share those experiences and what I learned from them.  It’s not a replacement for a PR internship, but non-PR endeavors can still prove valuable in the job application process.
  • Be prepared to accept an intern role post-graduation that has high potential to lead to a full-time position.  Even though I’ve always pictured accepting a full-time job after graduation, the Waggener Edstrom workshop helped me understand how a post-grad internship could fit in nicely with a long-term career plan.  It may seem counterintuitive, but it could also help get your career off the ground.

While I’m far from a PR pro, that’s what I gained from the Waggener Edstrom workshop.  The Talent Acquisition Team shared several other tips, but I can’t post them all here without writing a small novel.  Aside from implementing what I learned yesterday, I’m looking forward to learning from the Waggener Edstrom Career Blog, which posts WE employee profiles, shares interview tips and more.  Waggener Edstrom Careers also tweets: @WE_Careers


If you’re not familiar with the Oregon Ducks and their fans, you will be after watching this.

Earlier this week, a brilliant group of Oregon students created a video called “I Love My Ducks,” in which they proclaim their love for the Oregon Ducks football team. (Watch the video here; I’m working on embedding it into the post, but there seem to be some problems with Yahoo! Videos on WordPress blogs.)

“I smell roses,” they say, referring to the Ducks’ chances of making it to the Rose Bowl.

Things are not so rosy, however, when it comes to dealing with the Oregon Athletic Department.

The video features our school’s mascot, Puddles the Duck. Puddles is licensed by Disney, and while I’ll admit that I don’t know every detail of the copyright restrictions, the AD pulled the video from YouTube because they were afraid of a call from Disney. They were worried that Disney would be upset that this unassuming group of students would get them in trouble, simply for using the Duck in the video.

What better publicity for your school than to have three typical college guys creating original raps about their intense love of the team. They’re showing off the Oregon logo throughout the video, they’re in front of Autzen Stadium…basically everything about this video screams free publicity.

But all because of Puddles, this video is deemed unworthy by the Athletic Department. It’s too bad they’re keeping the video from attracting fans to their games, bringing traffic to their website and putting more money in their wallets.

Here’s how you can spread the word about this great video:

• Post the video on your Facebook page.
Tweet the link. (Even better, tell ESPN College GameDay to play the video on Saturday, when they feature the Oregon v. Arizona game.)
• Comment on blogs that posted about the video, like Deadspin, The UO Sports Dude, Communication Rhodes, and this blog.
• Become a fan of Supwitchugirl on Facebook; that’s the group that created the video.

Feel free to comment on this post if you love the Ducks and/or this video and if you know of another way to efficiently spread the word about it.

A Brand New Bias?


Imagine yourself as a third-grader trying to learn to write that name in cursive.

I actually have no idea if James Poniewozik had to suffer through elementary-school writing lessons, but someone taught him.  Taught him well.

In the two-ish years that I have subscribed to Time Magazine, his column is the one I have read most consistently and his ideas and viewpoints are the ones that teach me the most.  Plus, his Twitter profile picture shows him with a gigantic mug of coffee.  How can that not be great?

Poniewozik writes TIME’s “Tuned In” column.  Every week he contributes an essay to the magazine that highlights current events and/or issues in media and journalism.  Occasionally, he’ll write a bigger feature or the cover story.

His most recent column for TIME was especially intriguing.  In the column (from the November 16, 2009), he discussed how media bias is not limited to left-wing and right-wing; it’s not just Fox News and MSNBC that are perceived to lean in one direction or another.

It’s also the center.  Poniewozik’s column, “Moderation in Excess,” was all about moderate bias.  Moderate bias.  Oxymoron?  He doesn’t think so.

He describes this bias as being evident “whenever an organization decides that ‘balance’ requires equal weight for an opposing position, however specious.”

“There isn’t one, and there never was,” he says of the “neutral center.”

Honestly, I’m still tossing around my own ideas of what this means, but I think he raises a very interesting point.  Does someone considered to be politically moderate just objectively assess both the far-left and far-right positions?  Sure, but you can’t vote in the middle.  There has to be some middle ground to stand on.  The devil’s advocate always has an opinion.

Poniewozik brings it back to the journalists, talking about how journalists won’t be able to cover from that “neutral center.”  As a journalism student, that’s what I’ve always understood: be unbiased.  If I understand his position correctly, he sees a difference between moderate bias and fair treatment of positions.  But regardless, he gave me a lot to think about.  His columns usually do.

As if his interesting journalism propositions weren’t enough, he tweets, as all great journalists do (general statement, but you get the idea).

A few recent gems from @poniewozik:

Young woman on the N train deeply absorbed in a volume of Conrad. Lauren Conrad.

Drafted my Mad Men review; going to sleep on it, then polish and probably post early in the morning. Yay, four hours of sleep!

Never seen Mad Men, but I love that four hours of sleep part.

Read James Poniewozik’s  “Tuned In” blog here and follow him on Twitter here.

Taking Charge

*UPDATE*: LeGarrette Blount has been suspended for the rest of the football season, and deservedly so.  Read about it here:

Some people may think that Oregon Duck fans should automatically be ashamed of their team because of the team’s obscene number of possible uniform combinations.

But thanks to running back LeGarrette Blount, Duck fans have a legitimate reason for embarrassment.  As if the game wasn’t devastating enough (the Ducks didn’t have a single first down in the entire first half), Blount had to go act like a baby after the game.  Watch the video and be horrified (I don’t get why this guy added the Apollo Creed quote at the end, but the rest of the video is good quality):

I know this is not going to be read by huge amounts of people (hey, Hope!), but I want to apologize on behalf of my school.  I’m not sure what the school will do to punish Blount, but if he’s thrown off the team, he deserves it.  Ever since Blount’s punch was thrown, we Duck fans have been publicly displaying our disgust on Facebook.  It’s ridiculous, and we can only hope that our season can be salvaged and that we are forgiven by the rest of the football world.

This punch will probably be analyzed to death in the coming days.  Lots of sports commentators will have lots of questions, but mine is: Where was Oregon head coach Chip Kelly in all of this?  Chip, I know it was your first game as head coach and that you had to endure a tough loss, but you’ve got to get the guy under control.

Boise State’s head coach, Chris Petersen, will emerge as the hero here.  His player, Byron Hout, said something to Blount that prompted him to thrown the punch, and Petersen immediately pulled Hout aside and dealt with him.  Whatever he was saying, he was saying it vehemently.  Chris Petersen took charge.

Without making this a grand, flourishing post about the need for more effective leadership in the world today, I do want to say one thing: everybody’s watching.  How many times do you think that punch has been viewed since it was thrown?  How many people are talking about it this very second?  It made “Oregon” the number one trending Twitter topic for a time last night.

Today, everybody’s watching everything.  Our lives may not be the opening segment of SportsCenter, but people are still affected by what we say, do and think.  I’m sure glad that some of the things I have said to or thought about others did not become viral YouTube videos mere hours after they were spoken or thought.

This was not said to make you feel like a terrible person.  I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer.  It just made me think.  Here’s to hoping next Saturday brings some redemption for the Ducks.

Mess of Me

Recently, my family has been making fun of me for my frequent use of Twitter.  They do not understand the power and influence of Twitter; by reading the tweets of people I follow, I get a sense of what interesting and obscure things are happening in the world, I gain insight into the lives of other people, I receive updates on my favorite sports teams, etc.  They’ll come around, but for now they just think I’m weird.

And while I do check Twitter several times a day on my laptop and from my phone, I would not call myself “obsessed.”  Except for now.  Maybe.

Switchfoot, my favorite band of all time, is releasing a new album in November.  It’s called “Hello Hurricane,” and the first single is “Mess of Me.”  Switchfoot (which has a twitter account and uses it frequently) is hiding copies of the single all around the world and tweeting about their locations.  The idea is that whoever finds it will subsequently hide more copies.

Take it from lead singer Jon Foreman:

#messofme (our new tune), is hidden all around the globe. If you find one, burn it and hide it somewhere else! enjoy, jon

29 minutes ago from web

However, the single has yet to reach Portland, where I am.  Or if it has, I have no knowledge of it.  They’ve updated several times today with the location of copies of the single.  A couple of sample tweets:

Logan, UT #messofme will be on a bench outside the card/ticket office inside the tsc @ USU in about 45 min.10 minutes ago from web

Boca Raton, FL #messofme At the Publix on Palmetto Park Rd and Oriole Country Rd. Go in and ask for Rachel!1 minute ago from web

Pretty cool, huh?  I think so.  I think it’s a pretty great way to spread the news about a new album and maintain a strong, loyal fanbase online.  More and more musicians (and not just musicians; people in general) are using Twitter in unique ways.  If you have any examples, I’d be interested to see who it was and how they used Twitter.  It seems like something new and amazing comes along every day.

Hopefully they’ll send a copy Portland’s way, but even if they don’t, they gave me a pretty good reason to spend some time on Twitter.

Oh, and speaking of musicians and Twitter, I found one of my all-time favorite tweets last night.  It came from John Mayer:

I used to be the little engine that could. Now I’m the big engine that better. #adulthood

Sigh.  So true.  The end of summer is upon us, and so are reminders of how I have to find a job, think about algebra, and make sure I’m taking all the right classes.  Goodbye, summer…hello, responsibility.

But in November…Hello Hurricane!

Check out Switchfoot’s twitter feed here and John Mayer’s here.

The Anti-Monday

It’s Monday, but it doesn’t feel like Monday.

That’s because I don’t have to work today.  I am unemployed now.  Not because I quit or was fired, but because my charges (as I affectionately refer to the kids I nannied this summer) are spending their last week of summer on a family vacation.

It feels good to be free, but the end of my summer job only means more time to ponder future classes, employment, internships, professors, friends, roommates, etc.  Classes at U of O start on September 29, so I’ve got some time.  Before I know it, I’ll be moving back to Eugene, but I’m savoring the last few weeks of summer.

One of the best things about this weekend was discovering the Mars Hill Church iPhone app.  Mars Hill is a huge church in the Seattle area with multiple campuses and an unconventional pastor named Mark Driscoll, and the church recently unveiled its app, which allows users to view or listen to sermons via their iPhones.


Whatever your religious beliefs may be, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about a church’s development of an app.  I’m not a church-and-social-media scholar, but I know enough to understand that the Christian church is not necessarily viewed as cutting-edge in the technology world.  While many have fancy setups for their worship music and large projection screens for their big sanctuaries, Mars Hill seems to be the first to embrace the App Store.  (Mark Driscoll also has his own Twitter account: @PastorMark.)

Based on this article on the church’s blog, they see the app as a way to broaden their reach in the community and give Christians a way to take the teachings with them on the go.

I’ve listened to some of Mark Driscoll’s teachings before and really enjoyed them, and I’ll be more likely to listen again now that I can get them straight from an app instead of having to download them in podcast format.

What do you think?  Will individual churches or business start providing their services via iPhone apps?  It will be interesting to see how Mars Hill’s app is received in the coming weeks and whether or not more churches follow suit.

Picture credit:

Janis + Wikipedia = Editorial Review

This clip from 30 Rock pretty much sums up why Wikipedia is adding an extra layer of “editorial review” to its articles on living people.  I know Janis Joplin is dead, but you get the idea. (Sorry for the poor video quality; it was the only one I could find):

This New York Times article provides a good summary of Wikipedia’s proposed changes. I think this is a great idea. People go to Wikipedia expecting credible information.  Hopefully infrequent, less-established contributors will be willing to sacrifice their right to the “final say” in an entry so that the general public receives the most factual article.

I’ve never actually contributed to any Wikipedia articles, so I’ve never personally experienced the satisfaction of knowing I’ve supplied the public with valuable information.  Have you ever contributed to a Wikipedia article?  What do you think of the idea?

Also, one non-Wikipedia related thought: if you’re on Twitter and live in the Portland area (or even if you don’t), check out @PDXfoodcarts.  They tweet about the numerous unique food cart offerings around the city, and for someone who loves local flavor, I love seeing sweet uses of social media like this one.  If you know of a similar Twitter account in your area, I’d love to hear about it.