Traveling Abroad

I recently arrived home from a two-week trip across seas. I visited Dublin, Ireland, London, UK, Paris, France, and Venice, Italy. Btw-click on the links! They’re not just your average travel sites. The trip was fantastic! I met so many amazing people… Some were amazing because how genuinely kind they were. Some were amazing because of the way the lived their lives. And some were amazing because I couldn’t imagine living the way they did.

What I think I loved most about the trip was simply being able to do new things every day. I once made a New Years resolution to do or learn something new everyday. That soon changed to every week, and eventually I forgot all about my resolution (as usual). When we are comfortable and on cramped schedule it is so easy to live each day normally, average – to be mundane.

With 24 hours each day and 14 days on my own, I had far too much time to be comfortably mundane. Excitement and challenges came in fits and starts; one minute I was near in tears because of how hard things could be in a foreign city, and the next I was having Prosecco and seared scallops with new friends.

I learned so much while traveling!

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Advice to my Fellow Graduates

Yesterday several of my best friends, found and flourished in the wonderful SpringVegas, MO, graduated from college.  I graduated six months ago, and although I had to work a 12 hour shift, I was there with them in spirit!

Today, my roommate introduced me to a fabulously inspirational article written in 1997.  The article is now widely known in the form of a musical single by Baz Luhrmann.  I like it better written down so I’m going to quote it here for you.  This article couldn’t seem more worthy of our attention.  I found these words, by writer Mary Schmich, in her Chicago Tribune article titled, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.”

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing. Continue reading

PR Spin? And Who Doesn’t Spin Anyways?

I was reading a blog article today to which I reacted to with shock, embarrassment, outrage and at the same time, understanding and acceptance of its truths. The article, written by marketing strategist, Geoff Livingston, questions the value of public relations professionals in the marketing toolkit.

I’m not ready to debate the value of PR professionals in the world of marketing. I don’t think I’ve had the experience to make accusations as strong as Livingston’s, and as you may or may not know, I have recently received my Bachelor of Science in Public Relations (ouch, remember when I used the word embarrassment as a reaction to the article of topic?) Additionally, I do have my own opinions about public relations and the education PR collegiate students receive, but I wouldn’t consider documenting them permanently on my blog.

A part of this blog post that I found extremely interesting concerned the primary purpose of PR. From the article I took that PR is best for influencing perceptions. In school, I learned that PR can encourage informed citizenry, promoting decisions to be made off as much information as we are given. I used PR tactics while at school to motivate people for philanthropic fundraisers. But maybe PR is only good for building perception. And I completely agree with the article in saying that “when perception is not based in factual realities, it become spin.” But here is my question:

Local drug store SPIN. Pez Dispensers are NOT a smart buy for me. I am saving my money for Europe :) And my calories for brownies

Who doesn’t spin these days? For example, Apple may be an extremely innovative, leading technology company, but they have more recently faced issues relating to the employee working conditions at their Foxconn factories in China. And although I do not approve of working conditions such as those being investigated at Foxconn, I still see Apple as a strong and inspiring company with terrific products, and skyrocketing stocks (which I wish would split one of these days…)

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Companies Utilizing Photo Sharing

Last time, we talked about how social photo sharing is rapidly growing;  it encourages openness and creativity and it is straight entertaining.  But photo sharing is also being used by companies and nonprofits as a value building, promotional and personification tool.  Several organizations, corporations, et cetera are using Instagram today (very wisely I might add).

My snapshot of downtown #SGF

General Electric (GeneralElectric) has an impressive Instagram gallery.  Most of their photos are of technology, engineering and product developments but because of Instagram’s distinctive “look” the photos turn out like works of art!

The Academy Oscars (TheAcademy) presentation is this Sunday, and this year they are integrating Instagram into their promotions, giving us a background shot of what goes into making the presentation!

The Food Network (FoodNetwork) has enormous potential on Instagram; foodie people love looking at foodie pictures. It seems Food Network has yet to really maximize their potential on Instagram because they only have five pictures. Bummer.  However, thanks to the wonderful use of the hashtag, #foodnetwork has become it’s own populated tag on Instagram, associating wonderful food with The Food Network.

Fossil (Fossil) is possibly my favorite brand.  I found them on Instagram and was pleasantly surprised to see that most of their photos focus on the persona and lifestyle of their core demographic rather than just their products.  Fossil’s Instagram gallery is populated with pictures of interior decorating, crafts, coffee, food and friends.

Instagram isn’t going to reach every one of a company’s publics.  But that doesn’t mean it has a small reach.  Starbucks has 278,180 followers on Instagram! Photo sharing is about participating in the conversation, entertaining, and being open with the world.

So what are some best practices for businesses social photo sharing?

  • Upload images that we want to see and share! Avoid Photoshoped images of your logo or office space and especially the temptation to slap on a company URL or promotional line to the caption.
  • Join the conversation – Replying to the comments your photos inspire is obvious.  But find some groups on photo sharing sites to join and help populate the content about your favorite hobbies.
  • Link it up – IF you have further information that your followers want to see like a blog post, news article, or more images.  Please don’t link it to your website homepage.
A good read I found while researching during this blog was Jason Keath’s  article on Social Fresh.  I also found ink361 while searching for company Instagram accounts and thought the site was a great way to navigate through Instagram.
Happy photo sharing!

Social Photo Sharing

A picture is worth a thousand words;  Twitter only allows 140 characters.  Photo sharing sites and apps have become increasingly popular and seem to be continuing on the rise.  Photo sharing websites and apps challenge us to tell our life story through only pictures (and occasionally a caption). Here are a few of the several photo sharing sites and apps offered:


This is my fa-fa-favorite social photography application! It was once only accessible to iPhone users, but I believe that has been extended to the Android. Instagram has a unique look.  I often snap, edit and post a picture on Instagram and link it to my Twitter account to share with more of my friends.  One thing:  because I love Instagram so much, I am extremely picky about who I follow.  Several times, I have unfollowed a friend of mine simply because I was unimpressed by their photo-opp choices.  Being a mobile app, Instagram does not have a lot of room for clutter, so I will stick to my current ten or so contacts.  By the way, notice the downside to Instagram? Hint: #NoRoomForClutter


Flickr is an extremely popular social photography site. Through Flickr, you can upload images to share on Flickr and then link them to be viewed from a number of other sites and applications.  Many bloggers use Flickr as an easy way to share pictures on their blogs.  I created a Flickr account once, but I had to use my Yahoo email in order to do it.  I only have Yahoo because when I was 13 or 14 I thought having an email on EVERY platform possible is what you were supposed to do! Now I can’t remember my eight-year-old password and I can no longer access Flickr…my bad.


About a year ago I was getting these emails from Photobucket saying someone had tagged me in a picture on Photobucket.  After deciding there was a 20% chance this was a spam email, I clicked the link to my tagged photo and was directed to a page requiring me to create an account. So I never did. Now, after studying up a bit today, I might just have to get that account! Photobucket is an image hosting, video hosting, slideshow creation and photo-sharing website. And it seems as though through Photobucket, users have the ability to edit their pictures with different filters such as black and white and color splash! Neat!


Picasa is yet another photo sharing site I am only somewhat familiar with.  Through Picasa you can organize, edit, create and share your digital photos. I often see Picasa in it’s native application form on my friends’ Macs. Picasa is owned by Google, so it has to be good.  Google also paired Picasa with their networking site, Google+, so that users can upload pictures to Picasa, link them to Google+ and then tag their friends.

Of course there are several other photo sharing social sites: SmugMug, DropShotsAlbumino (popular among professional photographers), and more.  What photo sharing site do you prefer?  

Next time: how companies are utilizing photo sharing to build image branding, personality, and increase donations or sales

Sneak Attack!

Well Well!  As you can see, it has been three months since I last posted to my blog.  But in my defense, this is an entirely new blog!  I uploaded all my posts from my old blog because I was unhappy with the title and needed a fresh start.

Steve Zissou pose

This fresh start was mostly desired because I graduated!!  Yep, you are reading the words of a post-grad, and let me tell you, my days are not all luxury.  I am working part time, still with the Traveling Chef.  I love working for such a talented chef, and although each day brings new challenges, I might argue that the hardest part of my days is when I prepare the dessert trays, simply because I want to eat every last treat!

My goal for this semester (I still call my Jan. through May timeline a semester because all of my friends are still in school) is to continue learning.  I honestly loved school, and I know I’m never going to be done learning.  I have spent a few days in the library researching topics for the Traveling Chef and developing my portfolio.  Now, I am promising my readers and myself that I will spend some more time blogging!

Following the Thanksgiving holiday, I made a few changes in my life that have since led to a better life.  I spend more time with my friends, less time upset or angered about things, and I am having more and more adventures.

Some other changes that have forced themselves on my life came because of my recent graduation.  One of my best pals, Andrea, and I are big girls now and we know all too well that job hunting is…frustrating.  Senior year, overall, is a strange time in our lives. We become somewhat selfish in our choices and motives: Where do I want to live next? Who am I willing to sacrifice my future for? Is this silly gen ed assignment really worth missing a night with my best friends?

I have to give so much thanks to my amazing friends here at Missouri State.  Especially my roommate Melanie, and one of my best friends, Andrea.  They help me believe in the choices I’ve made and they have truly been there for me.  And of course, a shout-out to every one of my sisters and friends here in Springfield!

I’ll cut this one off about now sinse mostly a surprise, SNEAK ATTACK post, and I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“To those whom much is given, much is expected.” – John F. Kennedy

Citizen Philanthropists

For my personal learning project in my public Relations Proseminar course I have been reading a lot about the citizen philanthropist.  First I learned the term while clicking around the Citizen Effect website.  From their website and press kit, I learned Citizen Effect is an organization focused on citizen philanthropists; those that choose not to just donate $50 to a nonprofit and turn away, but instead reach out to their network to cooperatively raise $10,000. Citizen Effect gives philanthropists the ability to choose a project and leverage their social networks, and then connects them directly to communities in need to fund small but critical projects.

From there, I wanted to know more about a “citizen philanthropist.”

Michael Edwards, philanthropist and author, wrote that citizen philanthropy is broad-based, deep-rooted, bottom-up, passionate, and uncontrolled,” and it is a much healthier and more democratic model than traditional philanthropy which can be seen as a transaction of currency.

Citizen philanthropists encourage and empower others to join a movement or start one of their own.  They are the stars of cheesy but inspiring movies, and thankfully, they are popping up everywhere – inside and outside of the movies!

One of the key elements a citizen philanthropist has is his/her network.  He not only owns this network, but builds, nourishes, an utilizes his network to its maximum capabilities.  Citizen Effect claims, “With the power of social media, individual philanthropists can circumvent traditional charities and government organizations to affect change.”  Social media has made cause-worthy networking nearly infinite, and citizen philanthropists know to use social media as a major tactic in their missions. Continue reading