Blog #10: Nerding Out

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I never anticipated getting as much out of my Writing 200 course as I can happily say I did. I went into the class thinking it sounded awesome. With no background or prior interest in working with nonprofits, that portion of the class wasn’t what drew me in, but it was the fact that we were going to be able to apply things we learned in class with an internship as a complement to the course, was what really excited me about it. Reflecting on the readings, my time at Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan and the course itself I can’t say I necessarily see myself working in the nonprofit sector as a career path, but that’s not to say it didn’t inspire me. Nonprofit work is truly inspirational. Interning at Girls on the Run, I had the opportunity to see, firsthand, how such a small team of passionate people can collaborate and create this large scale, amazing thing. Without their unwavering dedication to the organization nothing they do would be possible, and because of Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan’s immense success, I can easily tell you I had the chance to work with some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met. This class not only allowed me to realize that I definitely want to do work with new media for companies in the future, but it allowed me to gain a greater understanding of what it is I hope to get out of my academic career at Michigan. It was actually nerdy how excited I was to apply the PEW studies in crafting my Communications Plan and I couldn’t wait to show my supervisor all we learned about Twitter analytics to help her better keep track of our account’s progress. I don’t think I’d ever been so excited about something school related in my academic career thus far. All of these excitements and “nerding out” moments helped me realize that I want to apply what I learn. Sure, my Communications courses are great, and theories are cool and everything, but the weird amount of joy I got in being able to take something I learned in class and use it in a real world setting was almost embarrassing. That being said, I’ve started to shape my academic path to help fulfill that need, and, hopefully because I’ve realized what really gets me excited about school as a result of this course, I’ll have many more “nerding out” moments in my future years at Michigan.

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Blog #8: A Gift from Santa

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My final project for my internship basically fell into my lap like a present from Santa Claus. I was totally prepared and okay with the fact that I would probably be writing a reflection paper about my time with Girls on the Run, but when my supervisor presented the idea of a 5k promotional video to me- my acceptance of the paper completely flew out the window. YAY! A project! I had been asking to do some video work for them throughout the year, so when this opportunity presented itself I was seriously excited. I’ve made a bit of headway on the video, and honestly, each time I open it up to work on it I get excited. I have a huge database of photos to pull from their professional photographer’s work from past 5ks, I have control over whatever music I choose to play in the background and I’ve been working on piecing together some videography clips to insert into the promo in order to really bring it to life. It’s been amazing that Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan has such a large database of photos to pull from, but it’s been a bit more difficult to find the video clips. They don’t have much from the previous runs, and I really feel like the promo could be greatly enhanced by and would have more of an effect with some video footage form past years. I’ve been able to find and string together some clippings from a “thank you coaches” video a different intern made last year, but I do wish I had more to work with in that department. I really hope that the video creates a sense of excitement surrounding the 5k and that I’m able to fully capture the joy that has been described to me regarding it. When I look at the photos from the past years of girls crossing the finish line, smiles on the parents’ faces and cheers from the coaches it gets me even more excited to be able to witness the event this year. I just hope I can do it justice and create a lot of buzz surrounding the 5k with an awesome video promoting it.

Blog #7: Evaluating Humane Society’s Video

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The first indicator of how effective the Human Society’s latest dog rescue video was became evident as a result of my continuous “oos” and “awws”- plus the fact that I nearly had tears in my eyes. The video featured something most humans can’t resist, that being adorable puppies locked in cages getting rescued by Humane Society employees. As noted in the article we read about digital story telling, some of the most effective videos follow a narrative plotline and feature music as an emotion-inducing background aid. The Humane Society’s video utilized both of these tools to make their project as effective as possible. The video followed the story of a puppy named Ellie who is rescued from being sold to the Korean meat market. Ellie is an adorable dog that becomes the poster child for animals who are saved from this savage industry. This narrative coupled with slow, but hopeful music in the background of the film greatly amped up the emotional feeling of the video and contributed to its overall effectiveness. Beyond its effective emotional aspect, the Humane Society’s video greatly complements its Facebook page a number of ways. For starters, the Facebook page has multiple “call to action” posts; posts that ask donors to stand up for a certain cause or contribute money towards a specific end goal. The video about the rescue mission in Korea certainly supplements these calls for help because it demonstrates live-action benefits the donors’ money has on these animals. Not only does it back up the pleas for help that the Humane Society posts about, but it also brings their emotional photos to another dimension. The Human Society does a great job of posting photos of the organization, including those that feature the animals benefitting from their service, but the video does an even better job of showing off these benefits by bringing the pictures to life in a live-action stream.

Check out the video here!

Blog #5: Social Media in a New Dimension

(How I felt the first two weeks of my internship)
(How I felt the first two weeks of my internship)

When I began my internship with Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan (GOTR SEMI), I truly had no idea what to expect. I knew they were an established organization, I was aware that they weren’t completely hopeless in their Web 1.0 or Web 2.0 designs and I was pretty confident that they had more to teach me than I had to teach them. All of these preconceived notions and suspicions I had have thus far, proven to be true. Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan is definitely not in desperate need of help, but as my supervisor, Kelley, has reassured me multiple times, I am doing them a great service. Although, sometimes I feel like I thought I knew more about social media than I actually did after now being immersed in this internship. It’s not that I haven’t taught them plenty about new platforms. I’ve started their Instagram page, which has gotten a pretty big following for its birth only a week ago and their Twitter feed has been looking a lot better since I took over monitoring its content. However, beyond these two platforms that the organization was relatively new to, they have taught me endless amounts of things about how to professionally present an organization through social media.

I love social media, I really do. After hearing Nikki Sunstrum speak to our class about how people think they know how to utilize social media, but they don’t truly know how to utilize social media- I completely felt I knew what she was referring to. After experiencing my struggles and triumphs in learning how to navigate social media with GOTR SEMI, I’ve come to realize that, yes, I do love social media, but I had a lot to learn about its use in presenting a professional, non-profit organization. The biggest thing I struggled with, but I’ve finally started to get the hang of, is the dimension sizes for the photos of all of the social media sites. I never knew it could be so nitpicky, but definitely for good reason! It’s not enough to simply upload and try to crop a picture as best you can to suit the platform of your choice. There are several different appropriate dimension sizes catered to each post depending on its platform. Instagram? 640px X 640px. Twitter? 1000px X 500 px. Facebook? No great than 504 px vertically or horizontally- and that’s just for timeline photos. Cover pictures and profile shots follow a completely different set of guidelines. So many pixels, so little time. While I was trying my best to mold every photo I was posting for the organization on these different platforms- I found myself struggling greatly. I couldn’t just crop them or the photos would be cut off. Thank goodness my supervisor, Kelley, gave me a great tutorial with Photoshop (which I am still learning), and she taught me how to transform images to fit the correct sizing dimensions. The first two weeks of my internship was a constant back and forth between me and my supervisor trying to fix images, curate tweets and approve messages. But, as I continue on my way with GOTR SEMI, I’m finding myself more comfortable and confident with presenting their organization on social media. Like Nikki said, you might think you’re fluent in social media because you have a Twitter and a Facebook, but let’s get real- so does everyone. I don’t think anyone is truly fluent in social media until they have a firm grasp on the message their company is trying to project. I’m certainly still not fluent, but I don’t feel nearly as clueless as I did 4 weeks ago. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve got all semester, so hopefully by the end I’ll practically be bilingual in English and Social Media. J

Blog #4: The Neutral Zone Homepage Analysis

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For my fourth blog post, I decided to analyze the homepage of an organization called, The Neutral Zone. A brief introduction to the organization: The Neutral Zone is a building designed for youth to come and further themselves as artists and as people. Going off of that brief introduction, I figured it would make most sense to dive right into the analysis of their homepage, starting with the visibility of their mission statement. When you first arrive at the website, you’re greeted by a plethora of different things the organization is doing really well, but also some things they could improve upon. In regards to the mission statement, it gets a bit hidden amidst a large section of text regarding their history, and it lies at the bottom of the page. When a viewer gets to the website, they should be able to fully understand what the organization stands for as soon as they arrive at the page. Although it isn’t impossible to find their mission statement, it doesn’t exactly stand out when you open the website.

However, by taking a step back and looking at the homepage in its entirety, it is actually doing a pretty nice job of portraying the organization. The backdrop of the site is a cool pattern that reflects the artistic flourishing the organization supports, and there is a nice, giant slideshow featuring photos of participants and young adults involved with the organization. Above the slideshow there is also a large button that reads, “DONATE.” This is very well placed and follows the recommendation that Mansfield states in having your button in the top, right corner for easy accessibility and recognition.

Moving below the slideshow, there are three graphics “DONATE, PROGRAMS and 2014-15 PROGRAM INFO.”  All of these separate graphics allow you to click a “learn more” button which redirects you to the corresponding tabs at the top of the page where someone can further understand what specific aspects of the organization do. In fact, one of the things The Netural Zone makes use of very well on their homepage is the employment of several “Learn More” buttons. These buttons allow the viewer to get more information on whatever topic they desire, but it also gives the homepage the advantage of looking much less cluttered and overwhelmed with an excessive amount of text.

Finally, At the very bottom of the homepage, there are several logos that link to the organization’s social media accounts. Although the buttons are not in the top, right corner as Mansfield suggests, they are pretty visible to the viewer. They also make use of the social media sites’ authentic logos, so that it is especially clear what they are and what their purpose is. Overall, I think the organization has a pretty nice looking homepage. Although they could improve upon a couple of things such as a clearer portrayal of their mission statement and perhaps a relocating of their social media links, they do a nice job overall.

http://neutral-zone.org

Blog #3: Girls on the Run (My New Home!)

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I’m so excited to intern at Girls on the Run! I can’t wait to see what this semester has in store. Although I went back in forth between different organizations during my internship hunt, I’m glad my bow and arrow struck Girls on the Run. (That was a horrible play on words, and I apologize for those of you who had to suffer through that.) One of the things that really drew me to the organization was the fact that it is such an established nonprofit. When I was still in the midst of my internship quest, I toggled back and forth between Girls on the Run and much smaller nonprofits/ new student organizations. By really thinking about what I hoped to get out of this class and further exploring my goals for the semester, I realized that although there are benefits in learning and growing with less established organizations, I felt I should seize the opportunity this class was providing me with to work with such a reputable association.

I know I’m going to learn a lot from Girls on the Run, I just hope they can benefit from what I have to offer as well. I’m meeting with my supervisor, Kelly, this Tuesday, and she’s going to explain what exactly I’ll be helping with throughout the semester. Although it’s amazing that I have the opportunity to work with such a large-scale nonprofit, I’m nervous that I don’t possess all of the skills needed to provide them with the assistance they’re looking for. I’m ready to learn as much as I can, and I’m always up for a challenge, but I’m pretty new to all of this new media publication stuff. I love what Girls on the Run stands for, and its overall goal is what really drew me to this nonprofit in particular.

Helping girls mold their confidence and further their own identities through the promotion of overall physical and mental health is something that really resonates with me. I truly think every young girl should be proud of who they are, and that’s something that Girls on the Run strives to instill in each of their participants. Growing up with a mother who’s a fitness instructor, I’ve been surrounded by the benefits of healthy living for my entire life. Not only was a physically healthy lifestyle a big part of my upbringing, but more than that, mental health was highly valued as my mom always tried to empower me to be proud of who I was. I hope that I can help make a difference in these young girls lives, like my mother made in mine. It’s so important for young girls to start building a solid self-esteem starting at a younger age because as their lives progress, they’re going to face different obstacles. With a healthy mentality and a strong support system, Girls on the Run helps ensure that young girls have the ability to overcome the obstacles they’ll inevitably face now and later in life.

In Response to Drucker: Blog #2

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gif courtesy of giphy.com

I’m not going to lie; I’m not usually a huge fan of course readings. Unfortunately, in my past experience, the readings I’ve been assigned for my college classes have, more often than not, been rather dry and somewhat difficult to comprehend. Although I certainly cannot say this has been the case for all of my courses, it has been something I’ve come to expect and accept as an undergraduate student. That being said, it gives me much pleasure to announce that the readings I’ve come across in Writing 200 thus far do not fall in the dreaded stale/confusing category of college course readings I’ve come across in my time as a student. (Yay for that!)

One of the readings in particular, Managing the Non-Profit Organization by: Peter F. Drucker, really got me engaged and thinking about my future work with non-profit organizations. One of the main things this reading highlighted was that there is not normally a lack of innovation or ideas in non-profit management, but rather the successful managing of a non-profit sometimes lacks the strategy to convert those groundbreaking ideas into tangible outcomes. This idea personally resonates with me because I often find myself coming up with creative plans and ideas, but I sometimes lack the motivation or planning skills to properly execute them. After reading Drucker, I realized that the only way my ideas for a non-profit agency will flourish is if I create an effective strategy to put them into place. I can dream and think all I want, but unless I come up with a method of putting my thoughts into action, the agency will never benefit from what it is I hope to offer, and I will never get the results I wish to see.

Although the reading offered many insightful ideas about how to most effectively grow a non-profit agency such as implementing new strategies when an agency is already doing well and suggesting that everyone has some sort of leadership role in the non-profit organization, it is an older article that lacked several relevant ideas for modern non-profit management. Focusing in on one piece it lacked, the reading failed to mention how to successfully keep a non-profit organization relevant for a long period of time. With the growing sphere of technology and the rise of millennials in the non-profit world, longevity of an organization seems to be more of an issue than ever. People are constantly searching for the next best thing or the trendiest cause, and this poses an issue for organizations hoping to make it in the long run. I think a section dedicated to strategies non-profit agencies could employ to support long-term success would have been helpful for me to understand how to best assist the agency I work with over the course of the semester.