Posted by: Amy Chandler | February 4, 2008

Word of mouth at work again: Going green

Although I still can’t believe that this is my last semester as an undergrad, it does allow me the great opportunity to work with my campaigns class promoting a more sustainable campus.Go Green

Since I’ve been actively promoting sustainability, I’ve been inspired to work harder to lead by example. I’ve always tried to recycle and be reasonable in my uses of water and other resources, but I’m trying to take baby steps to start new, environmentally friendly habits.

Last weekend I went Krogering with my own cloth bags. The shopping was unpleasant, considering several near cart wrecks and the crash of my U-Scan kiosk on my last item. I’m sure people wondered why I was standing and staring at the U-Scan as it took what felt like 10 minutes to reboot.

But when I finally got to take my items off the scale and load them in my cloth bags, I heard a little boy behind me ask his mom why I didn’t use the plastic bags.

“She brought her own bags to use.”

“Why?”

“Because…it’s better for the earth.”

I know he probably forgot what happened a minute or two later, but I found it somewhat rewarding that his mom taught him a little bit about sustainability in the grocery line.

It will make me feel better as fellow shoppers give me and my bags crazy looks the next time around!

Posted by: Amy Chandler | February 1, 2008

Worst case scenario: Making a presentation anywhere

I think that this is the most important (and memorable) lesson I learned in advertising class.

Whether you’re a PC or Mac user, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a sort of computer myopia. There are fewer compatibility issues these days, but it’s still necessary to be conscientious when working between one system and the other.

This is particularly important when making client presentations. A PowerPoint presentation that won’t work isn’t the best way to impress someone, especially a client.

Last semester, an advertising instructor of mine wanted to make sure that we would always be prepared for these issues. For our class, each of our small groups had created a campaign to promote water conservation. We had plenty of access to a great lab full of Macs. However, for the final presentation, we moved to the conference room next door.

No one thought much of this until we saw the room the day of our final presentations. Gasp…we would be running our presentations off of a PC!

Our instructor promised that he was more interested in teaching us a lesson than punishing everyone, which was a relief. It was definitely more effective to throw us in there than give us a handout of useful tips!

I can’t convey the experience on-line, but I can share the tips of the most important lesson I learned in advertising class.

  • Have the file available on every medium possible: e-mail attachment, slideshare, flash drive and even CD-ROM. If the presentation computer can’t connect to the Internet or doesn’t have a USB port, there could be trouble.
  • Make sure that the file can be accessed through more than one program. If the only file available must be read by PowerPoint, it won’t be read at all without PowerPoint. As tedious as it is, one backup plan includes saving each slide individually as a jpeg file and then ordering the slides within a folder so that they can be displayed using a computer’s image viewer.
  • And in case all of these precautions can’t save you from the worst-case presentation scenario, have some sort of hard copy available for your client.

Honestly, the thought of preparing so much for an unlikely situation is really frustrating. But I’d rather be frustrated than embarrassed.

Posted by: Amy Chandler | January 27, 2008

Word of mouth at work: Experimenting with eBay

Considering that this blog is for a word of mouth (WOM) class, I guess it’s highly appropriate to post on WOM and its influence in my life.

Our apartment welcomed a new roommate about a week ago. She’s great, and we’ve been admiring her collection of movies since she put them out in the living room. When I talked to her about them, she mentioned that she bought most of them cheap on eBay.

Hmm. I’m no eBay-phobe or anything. I’ve watched my roommate use it plenty of times selling football tickets. (She doesn’t like the game enough to deal with heat and humidity.) It’s just that I hadn’t yet found a compelling reason to use it in place of other aggregator sites like Amazon. (Thanks to The Long Tail for teaching me that term!)

See, I’m a big fan of Gilmore Girls. Since the show went off the air, I’ve been working on my collection of DVD sets. I am one episode away from re-watching all of the seasons that I have. I hate buying the seasons at full price, and I don’t have a Sam’s or Costco card handy.

This time eBay suited my needs enough that I finally did it.

So, I bought season 4 on eBay this weekend at a reasonable price. I was so excited about my “skill” when I placed my bid with 15 seconds left for the win. Clearly I’m new to the idea of “shopping victoriously.” But it definitely was fun!

I credit word of mouth via my new roommate for getting me to try something new. It’s crazy how persuasive a little piece of information can be.

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The quality of this photo is lacking to demonstrate what I would post on eBay if I were selling my seasons of the show.

Posted by: Amy Chandler | January 23, 2008

8 random things

My friends and family–particularly my sister–will tell you that I use the word “random”a lot. So it seems fitting that my professor (Dr. Russell of TeachingPR) tagged my classmates and me in the “Crazy Eight for 08” meme. So here they are…eight random facts about me.

1. In elementary school, I was determined to be an on-camera meteorologist.

2. I place a high value on both a great pulled pork barbecue sandwich and a nice rack of baby backs with a dry rub. If I’m not confident that it will be really good, I won’t even waste my time.

3. I don’t read much, but when I do I tend to steer away from the traditional “fun stuff.” Currently I’m reading James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds, and I have yet to finish Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat.

4. I love the French language, but I’ve forgotten way too much of what I worked so hard to learn.

5. If you’re going to walk with me, you’ll have to walk fast (though I’m not the fastest).

6. I don’t have the patience to color code my planner, so I write in black. Only black.

7. As a baby, I ate so many sweet potatoes that my skin turned yellow. Now I can’t stand them.

8. I’ve lived with the same great roommate throughout college. I’m very lucky to have found her, because we were strangers when first we moved in together.

Since you’re looking for blog topics and open to being random, I tag you, Lindsey.

Posted by: Amy Chandler | January 20, 2008

Studying for rewards: pizza and chicken nuggets

It’s a tricky path to navigate when it comes to rewarding kids for performing well in school. My parents say that they’re glad that I was always self-motivated (more like a big dork), but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate any rewards they did give me for a shiny report card of A’s.Growing up in the 90s meant that my parents weren’t the only ones rewarding me for working hard. Back then, Pizza Hut and their Book It program kept me reading for my very own personal pan pizza. Again, I would have read anyway, but who’s going to argue with a tasty reward?

A month or so ago, I noticed articles in AdAge and the New York Times about McDonald’s sponsoring their own program in place of the Pizza Hut program in a Florida school district. Apparently local McDonald’s restaurants agreed to sponsor Happy Meals for elementary school kids with good grades and attendance. McDonald’s placed Ronald McDonald, the Golden Arches and a picture of a Happy Meal on report card envelopes that kids brought home.

Of course, advertising to children is often controversial. But would this program be perceived any differently than the Book It program formerly used in the same school district?

It definitely was. Parents immediately called for McDonald’s to remove their logos from the envelopes and their incentive from good grades. They didn’t appreciate McDonald’s linking good grades and fast food, and they claimed that the chain was undermining their efforts to educate their children about good nutrition.

Well, in a more recent New York Times article, McDonald’s USA agreed to reprint the report card envelopes without its trademarks.

This case illustrates the strength of a parental grassroots effort to police outside influences on their children. However well-intentioned McDonald’s was, it lost.

Does it matter that it is parents who ultimately control whether or not their kids redeem their report card for a Happy Meal? Or that Happy Meals can be ordered with milk and apple slices? No. What matters is that parents were upset enough to organize a successful effort to remove the logos and the incentive. Kudos to McDonald’s USA for offering to reprint the envelopes.

In my real estate class the other day we talked about similar efforts by strong, wealthy homeowners associations. Angry homeowners contested the construction of an upscale apartment complex that a city permitted against its own zoning codes. The developer had completed the complex anyway, thinking that eventually he could win. In the end, he paid to tear the whole thing down.

I guess the perennial lesson is never to ignore your publics. They may be a lot stronger and angrier than you think.

All I can say is that I hope my parents would have bought me a Happy Meal anyway.

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