Your Summer Break Will Begin After This Ad

Although there were more than 60 different literacy technologies to pick from for this Impact Project, I decided to venture out and choose my own. As a Journalism (Public Relations) and Graphic Design double major, I have taken a wide-variety of classes at Creighton University. Among the classes was Principles of Advertising. Through this class, I gained an interest in advertising. That’s ultimately why I decided to look at how advertisements function as a literacy technology. Scroll through this blog to learn about the history, impact and ethical implications of advertisements.

Description of the Technology

Advertisements are a method of communicating information about a product or service to customers, usually for the purpose of selling said product or service. Advertisements use persuasive messages and images to make people think that they need to buy something or do something.

Businesses use advertisements to:

  • Build brand loyalty
  • Differentiate themselves from their competitors
  • Increase sales revenue

Advertisements appear in various mediums, including:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Direct Mail
  • Radio
  • Signs
  • Television
  • Internet

For a detailed look at each medium, visit Advertising Media.

History of the Technology

The evolution of advertisements is confusing, to say the least, so I will try to simplify it. The advertisements that we are most familiar with today accompanied the invention of the printing press. However, nontraditional forms of advertisements existed long before that time. Although there is no clear “inventor” of advertisements, the earliest forms probably can be traced back to 4000 B.C. when the Indians painted rock art (Advertising).

There has been a need for advertisements since before people could read. Street callers used to announce out loud where local people could buy their fruits and vegetables (Advertising). This teaches us that the general purpose of advertising – to inform customers about products and services – has remained constant over time.

This newspaper advertisement dates back to 1761. It shows how advertising was used to sell products, even back in the day. Photo taken from Archiving Early America. This image has not been modified from its original.

This newspaper advertisement dates back to 1761. It shows how advertising was used to sell products, even back in the day. Photo taken from Archiving Early America. This image has not been modified from its original.

When the printing press was invented around 1450, literacy expanded, and so too did advertising. Then, with the advent of mass production in the late 19th and 20th centuries, print advertising became the primary method of communicating with consumers through newspapers, magazines, flyers, posters and billboards (Walker).

"The Man in the Hathaway Shirt."

David Ogilvy’s iconic advertisement, “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt.”

Advertising man David Ogilvy created “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt” advertisement in 1951. This advertisement featured a man dressed in a button down shirt wearing an eye patch. Rather than just promoting the shirt, the advertisement told a story that captured people’s attention. As a result, sales of Hathaway shirts more than doubled (The Ogilvy Legend).

In the 1920s, radio advertisements began to take shape. People welcomed this new form of entertainment into their homes, and bought the products advertised (Advertising and consumerism). To get an idea of what radio advertisements sounded like, listen to this 1957 Chevrolet clip:

 

TV followed suit a few decades later, condensing advertisements to 30- to 60- second clips.

The last fundamental shift that gave rise to advertising, as we know it today, was the invention of the Internet in 1958. The Internet gave advertisers an opportunity to get our attention with pop-ups, search advertising and mobile ads (The History of Advertising Infographic). The Internet gave birth to social media, providing advertisers another way to reach consumers. For example, advertisers reach customers by adding short advertisements to the beginning of YouTube videos.

I think people have developed more negative feelings toward advertisements over time. In the radio age, people were excited to go out and buy new products, even if they couldn’t afford them (Advertising and consumerism). Advertisements convinced consumers to take action by using physiological techniques to target human instincts. Now, however, people do everything they can to avoid advertisements, whether it’s fast-forwarding through commercials or quickly exiting out of pop-up screens. We do this because we are overwhelmed by the number advertisements we see in today’s day and age. Because we are constantly bombarded with advertisements today, it’s harder to convince us to take action. Instead of letting advertisements tell us what to buy, we read reviews and talk to our friends to find out what’s worth purchasing.

This infographic summarizes the history of advertising nicely:

Infographic taken from Ocean Media Inc. The image has not been modified from its original.

Infographic taken from Ocean Media Inc. The image has not been modified from its original.

Impact of the Technology Over Time

I. Socially

Over the course of our history, advertisements have brought about several social changes.

CC photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey. This image has not been modified from its original.

CC photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey. This image has not been modified from its original.

First, WWII advertisements encouraged feminism. The advertisement that instantly came to my mind was of Rosie the Riveter during WWII with the tagline “We can do it!” This advertisement became an iconic icon of the United States, representing the women who joined the workforce during WWII (Rosie Information). This was a step toward gender equality in the workforce, with women branching out from traditional household roles.

Second, our society became more consumer-centric as a result of advertisements. Today, close-knit communities have formed around brands. For example, some Nike fans refuse to wear Under Armour, and vice versa. In middle school, I remember thinking that the girls who wore Hollister and Aeropostale were the most popular. These girls all hung out in the same social circle. I think this goes to show that advertisements have the power to create brand loyalty, which, in turn, contributes to how outsiders view you.

Third, advertisements taught children the power of begging. This began when businesses advertised products based on popular movies and television shows to children. Advertisers today continue to target children because they know that begging results in sales.

Lastly, advertisements have empowered people to come together for a common good. At my internship, I assist with advertising for cause marketing initiatives ranging from a breast cancer awareness walk to a purse drive for abused women. Advertising can contribute to the success of the event, which can impact people’s lives.

II. Literacy

As advertising has evolved, people’s literacy has changed. While the intent of advertisements has remained the same through the years, people had to gain new literacies along the way. For example, people had to learn how to read before they could understand print advertisements. Print advertisements supplemented newspapers, magazines and flyers, and even contributed to the economic success of newspapers. In addition, people had to learn how to operate the radio and television before they could access broadcast advertisements.

Ethical/Moral Implications of the Technology

I. The Good

Because advertisements appear in various mediums, they can benefit people from all walks of life.

Advertisements that help people find products are good. Although I have never purchased anything from Craigslist, my friend found her dining room table on the popular advertisement website.

Advertisements that inspire people to make positive life changes or contribute to worthy causes are extremely good. What differentiates good from extremely good, for me, is that extremely good advertisements can save people’s lives. An advertisement released as part of National Distracted Driving Month urged people to stop texting and driving. Watch the video here:

If people stop texting and driving as a result of seeing this advertisement, they could avoid disaster. This also is the case with advertisements that urge people to wear seat belts and stop smoking.

In my opinion, advertisements would be better if they always applied to us. In today’s society, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements. We tend to ignore the advertisements that don’t interest us. Businesses’ money would be better spent advertising to potential customers, rather than to the general public. Read more in “Conclusion.”

II. The Bad

Advertisements have the power to influence the way we live and act. Unfortunately, that isn’t always a good thing. Advertisements send harmful messages to people all of the time. In my opinion, advertisements tend to exploit women and children.

A major problem with today’s advertisements is that they often sexualize women. A primary example of this is Carl’s Jr.’s ad for its Buffalo Blue Cheese Burger. Watch the ad here:

Advertisements like this one emphasize the importance of physical attractiveness, making women self conscious about their body image. Research shows that advertisements can lead to disordered eating (Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders), a problem that affects about seven million women in America (Eating Disorder Statistics).

Advertisements also can have harmful effects on children. First, advertisements can cause children to develop unhealthy behaviors. For example, I recently visited Nickelodeon’s website and noticed banner advertisements for sugary cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms. This presents a problem because, as we know, sugary cereals can cause cavities, as well as more serious health problems like obesity. Obesity can lead to health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as psychological issues, including low self-esteem, negative body image and depression (Overweight in Children).

To make advertisements less problematic, the government should impose strict rules that businesses must follow when creating advertisements.

Conclusion

I think advertisements will continue to become more advanced over the next decade. Advertisements will target people based on their location, web search history, spending patterns and social media activity. I already have started to see this happen. For example, during my recent apartment search, I noticed that all of the advertisements that showed up on my laptop were for Omaha-area apartments. While it might be a little scary to think about how much advertisers know about us, I believe this is only the beginning.

In the future, I think businesses might take advantage of the location services feature on people’s mobile devices. If Starbucks knows, for instance, that a person is shopping right across the street from one of its locations, it might send a text advertisement to that person. In addition, I think businesses will analyze the demographics of its current customer-base in order to target similar people on social media with advertisements. Lastly, I think businesses will be able to look at people’s spending patterns to create more effective advertisements. For example, if PETCO sees that a person recently bought a leash and kennel, it might also send that person an advertisement for dog food.

To recap, mobile devices and social media will allow advertisements to become more targeted than ever before over the next decade.

Works Cited

“Advertising.” Reference.com. N.p., 2010. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.reference.com/browse/Advertising.&gt;.

“Advertising and consumerism.” Dhahran British Grammer School. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.dhahranbritish.com/history/B7_advertising.htm&gt;.

“Eating Disorder Statistics.” South Carolina Department of Mental Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm&gt;.

“The History of Advertising Infographic.” Ocean Media Inc. N.p., 5 Apr. 2013. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.oceanmediainc.com/#!news/the-history-advertising-infographic&gt;.

“Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders.” NEEDA Feeding Hope. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2014. <https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/media-body-image-and-eating-disorders&gt;.

“The Ogilvy Legend.” Brands School. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 June 2014. <http://brandschool.co.za/blog/tips-for-digital-marketing-copywriting-and-brand-strategy/hello-world/&gt;.

“Overweight in Children.” American Heart Association. N.p., 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp&gt;.

“Rosie Information.” Singularity. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.singularitynyc.com/Rosie-information.html&gt;.

Walker, Tom. “The Evolution of Print Advertising.” thinkdesign. N.p., 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://thinkdesignblog.com/resources-the-evolution-of-print-advertising.htm&gt;.

 

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Puppies, Presentations, Personal Branding and Pie

The spring semester is coming to a close, and that means it’s time to reflect. When I first told friends and family I was taking a social media class, most laughed and asked if all I had to do was tweet. What a lot of people don’t know is that social media is a powerful communication tool for people and businesses.

I did much more than tweet this semester. I developed my personal brand using Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and WordPress, improving my Klout score from 22 to 48. I also wrote a social media policy; social media analysis and three-month social media plan for local businesses.

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This is a summary of my Klout score over the past 30 days. Klout is a good way to measure and track your social media impact.

Through my experiences, I learned:

  • Maintaining multiple social media accounts takes time and energy, but social media management tools, like HootSuite, can help.
  • I should not put anything on social media that I wouldn’t want my future employer to see. Although I don’t think I did this before this class, it’s always a good reminder.
  • Social media should be a healthy mix of mindcasting and lifecasting.
  • Businesses should measure the reach and popularity of each post using Facebook Insights, Google Analytics and other data collection tools. This helps businesses determine what’s working on social media and what’s not.
  • Using key words, tags and links in blog posts can improve my SEO.

Out of everything I learned, my biggest takeaway was writing a social media plan for a business. This was a real life learning experience that will be extremely beneficial for my future career.

My attitude toward social media has become more positive as a result of this class. After hearing about how Elizabeth Hilpipre uses social media to help animals at the Nebraska Humane Society find homes, I grew excited about the potential of pursuing social media management as a career.

pieday

Our class celebrated a fun semester with pie.

Overall, this was an extremely valuable class, and I am proud to say I accomplished the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the semester. From puppies, presentations and personal branding to celebrating the end of the semester with pie, I can honestly say I enjoyed everything about this class.

Entrepreneurial Media: Takeaways and Pitfalls

Whether I was delivering an elevator pitch or listening to speakers talk about their entrepreneurial endeavors, I had my fair share of adventures in entrepreneurial media class.

Throughout the semester, I have gained a deep sense of appreciation for entrepreneurs. I have experienced firsthand how challenging it is not only to come up with a unique idea, but also to find a way to turn that idea into a sustainable business. In order to succeed, I learned that entrepreneurs must be extremely passionate about their idea. Maddie and I were passionate about our app idea from day one, and I think that’s why were able to push through the challenges and have fun with it.

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Madison Bendorf (left) and I celebrate after finishing our business plan presentation, which we probably enjoyed a little too much.

My biggest takeaways from this class include:

  • Receiving advice from speakers: With graduation right around the corner, I enjoyed hearing advice the speakers had to offer. Steve Gordon, founder of RDQLUS CREATIVE, reminded my class to go after what we want, while Andrew Norman, co-founder of Hear Nebraska, challenged us never to take the “easy way out.”
  • Overcoming the elevator pitch: Although I might not have liked it at the time, I think the elevator pitch was probably the most valuable assignment in this class. Even if I never have to pitch a business idea to an investor, per se, I’m sure there will be situations in which I will have a short amount of time to make a good impression on someone.

It’s especially difficult to pinpoint something I didn’t like about this class. However, if I had to choose one downside, it probably would be the time. After already being in and out of classes for nine hours, I sometimes felt burnt out by the time night class rolled around.

Overall, though, I don’t think the class could have been much better – it made me excited about the possibility of starting my own business one day and showed me what it would take to do so.

Are Advertisers Ganging up on Children?

From the time we are born, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements. As an adult, I can easily recognize when companies are marketing to me. But what happens when advertisers target children who don’t yet understand the persuasive intent of advertising? I think this can have a detrimental effect on children’s health and well-being.

To demonstrate where I’m coming from, I would like to first point that advertisers sometimes market unhealthy food to children. After visiting popular kids websites, I noticed several banner advertisements promoting sugary cereals. As we know, sugary snacks can lead to cavities, as well as more serious health problems, including obesity and diabetes. Oddly enough, these health problems continue to increasingly impact children in the U.S.

My biggest issue is when advertisers market dishonorable values to kids. Skechers’ “Daddy’s Money” campaign is just one example of this. The shoe company’s advertising slogan,“Get spoiled with Daddy’s Money, ultra-cool shoes that put you in the spotlight,” makes children believe they aren’t “cool” unless they own a pair of the sneakers. As a result of campaigns like Daddy’s Money, kids think they need material objects in order to be happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all advertisements aimed at children are bad. Goldieblox teaches young girls that it’s okay to play with “boys toys,” hoping, one day, those girls will grow up to become engineers. Watch the toy company’s advertisement here:

I think the appropriateness of advertisements that target children should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some may argue that parents should be responsible for monitoring what their kids see. I would argue, however, that expectation is somewhat unrealistic. For example, children may be exposed to advertisements at school, sleepovers and other places where their parents are not around.

What do you think? Should there be rules regulating advertisements aimed at children? Or should parents be responsible for censoring what their children see? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

A World of Opportunities

Many people don’t know that, when I came to Creighton, I was enrolled in the College of Business. I thought, for sure, I wanted to study marketing. However, after talking to Dr. Wirth sophomore year, I transferred to the College of Arts and Sciences and declared public relations as my primary major. Although the two fields are very similar, marketing still holds a special place in my heart. With that said, you can imagine my excitement when journalism alum Danny Schreiber visited my social media class to chat about content marketing.

During his one-hour presentation, Danny discussed the seven content marketing strategies his company, Zapier, uses. Among all of the strategies he mentioned, the one that stuck out to me was: Repost popular content. I have noticed several reputable companies that do this. For example, Forbes promoted its Top 100 Inspirational Quotes article about six times on Twitter April 4.

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The news organization also reposted a link to its How To Ace The 50 Most Common Interview Questions article a couple days after its original post.

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This marketing strategy makes perfect sense. Think about it: People use social media at different times of the day. Therefore, by reposting content, businesses can reach people whom it didn’t reach the first time around.

Aside from reposting content, Danny also discussed the importance of extensively measuring the results of the content you produce. By analyzing unique views and conversions to signups, businesses can determine what’s working and what’s not.

With the popularity of social media, I was surprised when Danny said email is Zapier’s most valuable channel to consumers. Rather than relying on other people to share its content via social media, email allows Zapier to communicate directly to consumers. It also is easier to measure the click-through rate, or the number of people who access the company’s website through the email.

Having worked closely with both the content and marketing teams at my internship last summer, I could identify with what Danny was talking about. His presentation made me excited about the opportunities for journalism students in the content marketing world.

April Fools’ Day Pranks: The Best of Social Media

In the past, I always seemed to forget about April Fools’ Day. In today’s social media age, however, it is almost unavoidable. Social media presents new opportunities for tricksters everywhere. In honor of April Fools’ Day, I compiled a short list of my favorite social media pranks from Tuesday. The hoaxes that earned a spot on my list deal with three of my favorite topics: Animals, pizza and Creighton basketball.

My personal favorite was American Eagle Outfitters’ ‘American Beagle Outfitters’ prank. According a video published on American Eagle Outfitters’ YouTube channel, the clothing company was planning to launch a clothing line for dogs. Watch the ‘dogumentary’ here:

The coolest part about American Eagle Outfitters’ prank is that the dog clothing line actually was well received by the public. As a result, the retailer has decided to create a limited-edition holiday 2014 collection.

While we are on the topic of animals, let’s look at LinkedIn’s April Fools’ Day prank: Cats You May Know (CYMK). The company announced Tuesday that it would be opening up its social media site to cats, allowing felines to connect with other purr-fessionals. Here is the initial tweet from the CYMK hoax:

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Also making my list is Dominos ‘Edibox’ prank. The company unveiled the first edible pizza box, made entirely out of pizza crust. The company made its prank sound more believable by claiming research showed crust is many peoples’ favorite part of the pizza. I actually am disappointed this was a prank – an edible pizza box is a genius idea.

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Last but not least was ESPN sportswriter Jeff Goodman’s claim that Creighton basketball player Grant Gibbs was granted a seventh year eligibility. Here’s a look at the prank:

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These companies not only spread the holiday cheer, but also they found light-hearted, fun ways to engage with their customers. Several stories have been written about these April Fools’ Day pranks, meaning the companies involved have received a lot of free publicity.

What was your favorite social media prank? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

JMC Alumna Develops Purr-fect Social Meow-dia Plan

I have been looking forward to visiting the Nebraska Humane Society all semester, not only to see all of the cute puppies, but also to hear about how Creighton journalism alumna Elizabeth Hilpipre enhanced the organization’s social media presence. During my visit, Elizabeth talked about her efforts to build engagement, and serve animals with social media, especially Facebook.

Sam, a Rottweiler mix, was my favorite dog at the Nebraska Humane Society because he always looked like he was smiling.

Since Elizabeth was hired, the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook fans have grown from about 1,000 to more than 50,000. How did she do it? Although Elizabeth humbly admitted she has an easy topic – cute animals – I think her success is largely due to hard work and strategic planning. Not having taken a social media class in college, Elizabeth taught herself everything she needed to know. By analyzing Facebook metrics, Elizabeth found out the majority of the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook fans are in their early twenties. Using that information, Elizabeth planned an event targeted at that demographic. The event, which included live music and free beer, was a massive fundraising success for the organization.

I was surprised to find out that Elizabeth doesn’t schedule the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook posts or tweets using a social media management system, such as Hoot Suite. Instead, Elizabeth uses alerts on her cellphone to remind her when to post. She also is constantly responding to comments. Maintaining the organization’s social media is a 24/7 job, Elizabeth said, but it’s well worth it when her four-legged friends find homes.

I enjoyed hearing about the strategy behind Elizabeth’s social media approach. On the day of our visit, the organization had just started “Operation Boomer;” the goal: Find a home for 2-year-old Pit Bull Boomer. In order to drive people to the site, Elizabeth posted a puppy litter picture less than 24-hours before Operation Boomer began. Just a few hours after posting about Boomer, more than 2,000 people shared the post. While likes and comment are nice, Elizabeth said shares are the most important. This is because it helps the Nebraska Humane Society reach a broader audience, beyond its existing fan base. One day after Operation Boomer began, Boomer was off to test drive a home (talk about a successful social media initiative).

This is the photo of Boomer that the Nebraska Humane Society used with its Facebook post. Signs and other props add emotion and help tell the dog’s story. Photo credit goes to the Nebraska Humane Society.

Elizabeth taught me so much about social media in such a short time. After hearing about her experiences, I can honestly say I’m excited about the potential of pursuing social media as a career.

A Map of My Twitter Conversations

Pew Research Center’s recent study, Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters, identified six conversational archetypes on Twitter, including divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. As I was reading the study, I couldn’t help but think about how my Twitter experiences fit into this mix. Here’s what I discovered:

Tight Crowds: When I read about tight crowds, I was reminded of a PRSA Nebraska luncheon I recently attended. During the luncheon, we were encouraged to tweet using the hashtag “OmahaOmaha.” Although I didn’t tweet about the luncheon, I could see what others were saying by searching for the hashtag.

Brand Clusters: Whether I’m tweeting about celebrities or brands, I have contributed a great deal to this category. For instance, after E! News correspondent Ali Fedotowsky revealed her new haircut, I tweeted:

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I also tweeted about Kate Hudson during the 2014 Oscars:

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Broadcast Network: It’s not surprising that I often retweet news stories – after all, I am a journalism student. Yahoo and Forbes are among my favorite sources to retweet. Here are some of my recent retweets:

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This category reassures me that, despite popular opinion, journalism is not dying. It proves reputable news organizations still have a voice in today’s social media world. Journalism students, like myself, aren’t the only ones who retweet news organizations either. In the past week, I have noticed a variety of people retweeting news organizations’ tweets about Flight 370.

Support Network: When I read this section, I instantly was reminded of my friend’s recent grumpy tweet about her overbooked flight. The airline quickly responded to her tweet, attempting to resolve the issue. Engaging with customers in this way can boost quality service. However, I also think it’s important for businesses to respond to customers who post positive comments. The Giving Keys does this successfully:

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Mapping helps us understand how Twitter works, giving us a better understanding of how people interact online. It also shows businesses how to reach customers more effectively.

For more information about Pew Research Centers study, visit Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters.

You’re from Nebraska?

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Hear Nebraska aims to eliminate misconceptions about the state by promoting its music and arts scene. Photo credit goes to @HearNebraska. This image has not been modified from its original.

Fed up with outsiders’ misconceptions about their home state, Andrew Norman and his wife, Angie, created Hear Nebraska. What started out as a way to change the way people think about Nebraska quickly became a thriving website and enterprise. Andrew recently visited my Entrepreneurial Media class to talk about the organization.

What struck me about Andrew’s story was that, despite the organizations success, Andrew has never paid himself. This speaks volumes about Andrew’s personality. His intent was not to make money off of the site, but to make Nebraska a globally recognized cultural destination. To this day, his passion is what keeps him going.

Reflecting on Andrew’s presentation, I can’t help but notice the similarities between his life and mine. Specifically, I was able to identify with Andrew when he talked about having his stories reviewed at work. Andrew said it was sometimes difficult to get back stories that were heavily marked with edits. However, rather than feeling discouraged at the sight of the red ink, Andrew learned how to use his boss’ feedback to improve next time. Andrew also said he makes every effort to answer his own questions at work before asking for help, constantly searching Google and other pages for answers. This is something I have been trying to do more at my internship. While it is sometimes easier to ask for help, I think there is tremendous value in finding out things for yourself.

The biggest lesson I learned from Andrew’s story is this: Don’t be afraid to be afraid. A great deal of Andrew’s success can be attributed to the risks he took along the way. He overcame his fears by constantly challenging himself and never taking the “easy” way out. Early in Andrew’s career, for instance, he turned down a high-paying job for one that had more opportunities for learning. As it turns out, his decision helped him overcome his fear of interviewing people and become a better writer. These skills have helped him with his entrepreneurial endeavor, making it easier to ask community members for donations.

I Survived My Elevator Pitch Thanks to My Shakira Pants And High Heels

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CC photo courtesy of Ricardo Diaz on Flickr. This image has not been modified from its original.

In last week’s entrepreneurial media class, I discovered there is some truth to Marilyn Monroe’s famous quote, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” Okay, so I didn’t exactly conquer the world in my $20 Target pumps, but I did survive my first ever elevator pitch.

For those of you who don’t know, an elevator pitch is a short speech given to a potential customer or investor about a product or business idea. This might seem like a cakewalk from an outsider’s perspective, but trust me when I say it’s not. Elevator pitches are intense because in the real world you only get one shot with most investors.

The night before the pitch, I dreamed that I froze up and forgot my speech. Even though I practiced a million times, this worry plagued me the entire next day. Where did my speech anxiety come from? I think it can be traced back to sixth grade when I dropped all of my note cards during a pretend cereal commercial, but I’m not exactly sure.

Thankfully, nothing awful happened during my pitch. In fact, I got a lot of positive feedback from my classmates, who also had wonderful speeches. After watching the other speakers, I discovered body language and enthusiasm are essential to a good pitch. I also was impressed by the quality business ideas that my class came up with. Nearly all of my classmates came up with apps that I would download, including Sara and Anna’s traveling app, and Kass and Moriah’s taxi app among others.

Although mine and Maddie’s wedding planning app was well received by our classmates, I think we could have done a better job explaining how it app is different than other apps on the market.

Our next step is to figure out our revenue streams. Specifically, we will need to find out if local photographers, florists and venues are willing to pay to be featured on our app. If not, we will need to evaluate other ways to make money. Another option might be to implement a freemium business model, requesting that users pay to access top content, such as the registry feature.