Winning Young Voters Through New Media Tactics

The presidential election is less than one month away, and hundreds of grassroots organizations are encouraging young voters to get to the polls. Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan group that focuses on engaging 18- to 29-year-olds with voter drives on college campus and at rock concerts. The organization represents the intersection of young people, politics and popular culture, and works with artists to grab the attention of young people and engage them in the political process. The organization’s mission is to “engage and build the political power of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country.”

Rock the Vote has successfully registered more than 2.3 million young people on its Web site. Although the organization still uses traditional tactics to register new voters, such as door-to-door canvassing and phone banking, it has also leveraged new media tactics to bring young people to the polls. The organization recognized that 18 million 18- to- 29-year-olds have a Facebook account. Therefore, Rock the Vote has used four features of Facebook to reach its target audiences: fan pages, events, groups, and advertising. The organization’s fan page has over 48,500 fans and includes videos, photos, blog posts, and a link to register to vote.

The organization also has a MySpace page with music, videos, event updates, and links to register to vote. Rock the Vote’s YouTube site has more than 100 videos of celebrities encouraging viewers to become engaged politically.

Rock the Vote has also partnered with AT&T to reach young voters using text messaging. The organization conducted a poll in February that showed 85% of 18- to 29-year-olds own a cell phone, while only 75% own a landline phone. By collecting cell phone numbers on its Web site, at its events, in its e-mail newsletter, and through voter registration, Rock the Vote will send text messages (to supporters that opt-in to do so) on the day before voter registration deadlines as well as the day before the election.

Rock the Vote’s campaign success shows how important it is to use new and traditional tactics to reach younger demographics. Organizations need to use both to effectively expand their reach.


Please Forgive Me

To my loyal readers,

I apologize for my absence from the blogosphere the past few months. I could blame it on my end-of-the-quarter overload in June, or on my spur of the moment trip to Europe in August, or on my relentless job hunt that has taken place since September. However, I am fully aware that none of these are convincing excuses. I’m sorry for abandoning you. Although I’ve been MIA, my mind has been swirling with blog topics. I’ve got a lot to say, so look for new posts within the coming weeks! I’m back and ready to mingle.

Memorable Isn’t Always a Good Thing

I recently came across this old print ad for Pepsi X Energy, and I was surprised that Pepsi would want to be associated with the images portrayed above. I recognize Pepsi was trying to create a memorable, humorous message that the energy drink’s target market (college-aged students) can relate to; however, pictures of drunk, passed-out, young adults at parties should not be an image the company wants to be attached to.

Is the ad memorable? Yes. Is it funny? Perhaps to some. Is it tasteful? No. Is it incredibly creative? Not really. Although the Pepsi X Energy “Don’t sleep at the party” ad may be memorable, I don’t think it’s unforgettable in a good way. Developing a brand message that caters to your target market is important, but it’s safe to say that if my grandpa saw this ad, he would be sickened, and his view of Pepsi as a whole would be tarnished. Yes, I have peers who would find this ad funny and relate to the message, but I think it’s offensive to more people than not. A classier representation of “don’t sleep at the party” could, in my opinion, have been wittier and less insulting.

The message portrayed in the ad is not one I would want to be connected to if I were Pepsi. Maybe that’s why the product wasn’t successful. What are your thoughts? Am I overreacting? Is the ad in fact memorable in a good way?

Job Seekers Gravitate Toward Socially Responsible Companies

I graduate in five weeks, and I’m on the lookout for a job in the public relations field. Call me picky, but before I fire my resume off, a company has to pass a test: it must be socially responsible. And I don’t just mean green. In my opinion, companies have a role to play in fostering human rights, supporting philanthropies, preserving the environment, embracing cultural diversity, and treating their employees well. Corporations can’t act as isolated economic entities detached from broader society.

I’m not alone in believing so. According to a recent study by Care2, 73 percent of workers said it was “very important” to work for a company they believe is socially responsible. In addition, 48 percent of employees say they would work for less pay if they could work for a socially responsible company. Finally, 35 percent report having actually left a company because they believed it was not socially responsible.

Socially responsible companies more often than not enjoy an enhanced reputation, increased customer loyalty, improved employee morale, and greater support from investors.

How important is it for you to work for a socially responsible company? If it ranks high on your priority list, check out Care2 JobFinder. It’s the world’s largest listing of jobs at eco-friendly, socially responsible, and nonprofit organizations.

College Tips from a Soon-to-be Grad

I’m graduating from the University of Oregon in seven weeks, and I’m experiencing a plethora of emotions. I’m eager to start a new chapter in my life, terrified to be torn away from friends, and grateful for my education. Four years comes and goes quickly, and although I’m no expert, I thought I would pass along some things I’ve learned in my four years that I wish I would have known from the beginning.

Be curious. Curiosity opens up new possibilities and keeps your mind active. William Arthur Ward said, “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”

Take classes that have nothing to do with your major. Elective classes will complement your major courses and offer you a fresh perspective. Taking courses from an array of departments will help your career and widen your interests. A Japanese literature course I signed-up for out of the blue turned out to be one of my favorite courses.

Get to know your professors. The majority of them want to get to know you. Go to office hours and ASK QUESTIONS. Professors are excellent resources, and they want you to succeed. Allow them to help you do so.

Be open. You’re going to come in contact with people who have different beliefs than you do. Don’t automatically dismiss their ideas and viewpoints. You don’t have to agree, but you can listen. I went into college thinking the majority of issues were black and white, and I’ve come out realizing most issues actually have quite a bit of grey.

Get involved on campus. Join clubs and organizations tailored to your interests. It’s a great way to network and meet people with similar passions. One of the best decisions I made in college was to get involved with our student-managed PR firm on campus. It has allowed me to apply the skills I’ve learned in the classroom to real clients, learn from talented peers, and work with motivated students who share similar career goals.

Take a moment to breathe. This one may sound ridiculous – but trust me – it’s important. College isn’t all about academics. It’s a time to learn about yourself, form lasting relationships, and discover your passions. Don’t let the stress of school get the best of you. If I could get my last four years back, this is the tip I’d work on the most.

Cultivating Relationships With the Media is Critical to an Organization’s Success

The media are a powerful force, and they can do a lot for you—or a lot against you. Cultivating relationships with reporters is essential if you want to attract positive news coverage for your organization. They are, after all, the messengers of your story.

I was fortunate enough to learn a few tricks about establishing relationships with the media from my co-workers at EMC Creative this past summer. Below are a few tips I picked up:

Learn reporters’ deadlines. News is perishable, and reporters must meet specific deadlines. Your job is to help them do so. Develop a reputation as someone who respects reporters’ schedules, guidelines, and priorities. Provide sufficient information, stories, and pictures when they are needed.

Think like a reporter. Think in terms of what an editor or reporter would consider newsworthy. Reporters are bombarded with stories. What makes yours compelling? What makes your story standout amidst the plethora of others?

Know your message and stick to it. Reporters are busy. Don’t waste their time fumbling around the core of your message. Write down talking points before you speak with reporters, so you’re confident in relaying your message.

Be accessible. Make sure reporters know how to get in touch with you at a moment’s notice. They are on strict deadlines, and if you can’t respond to their questions promptly, they will go elsewhere for sources or ditch your story. Be on call to reporters’ needs and questions.

Be honest. It takes a lot of hard work to build credibility, and nothing builds credibility like honesty. Accuracy, integrity, and openness are key. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Offer to get back to the reporter as soon as you can with an answer.

Every media contact is an opportunity to tell your story. Protect and cherish relationships with these individuals, so you can generate positive coverage for your organization.

Coca-Cola Ads Inspire People to Make Good Things Happen

come1.gifCoca-Cola launched a new set of ads last week that invite consumers to join the company in community projects. Innovative ads were featured on television and in newspapers to highlight the company’s role as a corporate citizen. Coke’s involvement with the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Coca-Cola Scholarship Foundation, and its sponsorship of community sports programs were featured in the advertisements.

The ads are part of an overall “Coke Side of Life” campaign launched in 2006 by Coke. The ads are an invitation for viewers to live on the positive side of life and feature Coca-Cola as a socially responsible company committed to improving communities.

“As consumers push to learn more about the products they buy and the companies behind them, Coca-Cola needs to stress its community involvement,” said Katie Bayne, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola North America. “Consumers want to know that Coca-Cola cares.”

The campaign also includes a Web site, which asks people to join the effort to make good things happen in their community. The Web site gives resources for people to support education, promote active lifestyles, and protect the planet. Coca-Cola also plans to add a ZIP code search where people can find out how to participate in specific projects in their area later this year.

Coca-Cola’s “Coke Side of Life” campaign is a refreshing, colorful explosion of energy and optimism. Its message is Coke is happiness in a bottle. The campaign strays away from violent, sex-filled commercials and inspires people to make a difference in their communities. The “Coke Side Life” campaign is an example of how to attract brand loyalty through positive images and messages that inspire.

Below is a “Coke Side of Life” advertisement that was featured during the 2007 Super Bowl. It continues to be a fan favorite.