Movin Out

11 11 2008

Well the time is come to move on to bigger and better things.  I’ve built a new blog using iWeb.  I won’t be using this site anymore, so come with me to:

http://www.thefringes.org

See you there





Help Yourself

26 09 2008

Maria and I have really felt called lately to get more involved with helping the homeless.  We decided to hook up with Good Works in Athens, Ohio. In their own words Good Works is:

“A community of hope for those struggling with poverty in rural Appalachia. We provide biblical hospitality through The Timothy House (our shelter for the rural homeless), The Hannah House (our long term residential care-community), job experience programs, creative volunteer service opportunities and community development ministries in the context of Christian Community.”

Last Friday, Maria and I took a tour of their grounds and got a brief overview of what they do.  I was amazed at all the programs they have and how they are able to do so much with so little.  However what really impressed me was their philosophy and approach to how they serve.  The very people they serve are the ones who maintain the GW mission.  For instance, GW has car donation program.  If a person wants to recieve a car from GW, they need to earn 24 points.  You earn points by spending an afternoon maintaining the grounds, serving at one of the houses or working one of the many other programs they have.  Instead of being a place where people can come and find help, they can come and find how they can help themselves.  This is a much less degrading process, and shows the individuals that they can take control and responsibility of their own lives.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this is what social media is all about.  Helping people help themselves.  No longer are we dependent on “experts” to explain how things work, we now have the power to discover on our own with the help of other people just like us.  Again, this has become a less degrading process and has encouraged a whole new generation of responsible consumers.





Invaluable

23 09 2008

I’ve been energrized!  A wave of blog posts has bubbled up in me, so get ready…

As is customary for the start of the school year, Aaron Brown from Fahlgren Mortine came and spoke at our PRSSA meeting today.  He brought his A-game again and really challenged me to think about what it is that I do as a PR practitioner.

I started going down the list:

– Cultivate Relationships

– Follow Market Trends

– Communicate Key Messages

The list could go on and on.  However, the more I looked at it, the more I began to think that public relations is more than just strategies; we do something larger.  What I propose good PR Practitioners/CIO (Chief Integration Officers as Aaron Brown puts it) do is create value for their brand/product.

Let’s think about this for a second.  What is the intrinsic value of a Big Mac or a Data Cooling Center or a politician’s credentials?  I’d say they have no value at all.  However, when people are made aware of them, they can then be given a price tag, earn a reputation or grow exponentially.

Here’s another way to look at it:

Say I go into my room and find the cure for the common cold.  I find a way to mass produce it and keep the price down so no one will ever have to be sidelined from the sniffles again.  However, I decide to never take it out of my room or tell anyone my secret.  What I did in that room becomes completely worthless.

But if I decide to share my work with the world, instantly the cure can be given a value – and not just a price tag, but something worth time, energy, conversation etc.

This idea excites and invigorates me to no end.





Eyes Open

26 07 2008

It’s amazing what you discover about yourself when you do what you love on a regular basis.  This internship I have right now at the Cleveland Clinic is teaching me so much about not just the major that I am investing tens  of thousands of dollars and 4 years into but also about things that I need to operate in life.

For example, I am quickly becoming a new media junkie.  I want to know about all the latest trends on the internet and what is coming down the pipeline.  Ever since my internship with Bob Evans, I have been intrigued with the power of these new and exciting tools (Shout out to Jamie Chabra, who set me on this path).

However, I’m discovering at the Clinic the usefulness of classic strategies.  Media Relations mixed with strong community and national initiatives are tools that are still very relevant.  In order for me to be the best PR practitioner I can be, I need to be able to grasp and harness the power of both.

This leads me to my epiphany.  The world is an ever changing place.  Everyday new issues arise that matter to people – and not just any people, friends and family.  In this post-modern world we live in, I need to be able to stay up with what’s going on and stay relevant to people’s lives.

At the same time, their are traditional values that I never want to leave behind.  One of the greatest lessons my mother ever taught me was when I was 16 and we went to a Taco Bell for dinner and I didn’t hold the door open for her.  She ripped me a new one.  That was the greatest lesson in chivalry and respect for women that I ever learned.

When I keep my eyes open for these things, I’m able to see so much and with a graduation, a new job and of course, a wedding in the near future, I’m finding more and more everyday.





A Question for You

17 05 2008

It’s 1:25 in the morning right now and I can’t sleep.  Not that I’ve tried much, but there’s a question that’s been in my all day, and it has to do with a quote I like, or liked… At this point I don’t know what to make of it. So I figure I’ll tell you about it and see what you think.

In my emails I’ve been using a signature, that reads:

Aaron Baer

Ohio University Student

**my cell number**

My point is this: The world would be better served if we could braid the

network of social media with the discipline of the traditional news gathering

organization. So far, there are no good examples of this occurring and the

world does not benefit from the chasm between an emerging institution and
the obstinance of a crumbling one. – Shel Israel

__

I’ve been using this tag since I read this post  by Shel Israel a few months ago.  To me, it basically says that we need to find a way to bring together old ways of communication with new ways.  I agree with this statement (as I read it) and I want to be a part of an organization/company that finds a way to bridge this “chasm”.  However, in the past week I have been told by two communications professionals on separate occaisons  that I should leave the tag out of my emails.    It has been removed now, but I am still left wondering why I should remove it.  So I pose the question to you, my friends.  What is the lesson that I need to learn?  Am I misinterpreting what he is saying?  Can the quote be easily misinterpreted?  Or is there something offensive about the idea of the “obstinance of a crumbling one”?

I’ve had some great feed back on a lot of my posts, but now more than any before I’d like to hear from you on what you think of this quote and why I should leave it out.  Appreciate it, good night.





Worlds Apart

24 04 2008

I came across two interesting articles on digg today.  I’m going to share them with you and put my 2 cents in on them, but I would love to hear your interpretation of how the companies in these articles are heading down different paths.

Here’s what I found:

Starbucks has recently cut its profits forecast for FY 09, blaming the economic housing crunch in the US.  Read More

Apple on the other hand as announced, among other things, a 51 percent unit growth and has had their best March ever.

Read More (Note – in the article, you’ll see they made no direct reference to the MacBook Air… interesting, but besides the point)

How is this happening?  A year or two ago, these companies seemed to be on the same path, but as Apple has flourished, Starbucks is struggling to maintain in these times.  Many of you out there might be thinking “Aaron, I barely have enough money to deal with $4 gas! How am I supposed to handle $4 coffee!?!”  You could then go on to point out how McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts are simply stealing Starbuck’s customers with cheap, quality coffee.

But explain to me how Apple can sell $200 iPods and $400 iPhones and $2000 MacBook Pros consistently when you can buy any other MP3 player, cell phone and a laptop for a quarter of these prices?

…seriously, explain to me…

The way I see it is that Apple has been able to develop a “perceived need” among all consumers.  Because of their “everyman” marketing, they’ve made their brand into a unique image that crosses all boundaries – economic intellectual and cultural.  The focus for customers isn’t on the price but on the Mac movement.  And when your computer has that little piece of fruit on the front, you’re a member.  This is what causes a college student to take out a loan to buy a 2.16 GHz, Intel 2 Core Duo MacBook Pro (I NEEDED IT!)

Meanwhile, Starbucks focused their brand towards the on the go businessman or the overbooked sorority girl with her hair in a pony tail and father’s cash in pocket.  Many paying customers are left out of this picture, which let them find other coffee.  Their competitors capitalized and proved themselves worthy adversaries.

So, what do you think?





Idea Machine

21 04 2008

I have ideas. Many different ideas actually. I’d wager to say though that you have ideas too; we all do. But I think my ideas are special and I want to save them for that right moment to get a “wow” from my next employer. But I’m afraid… I’m afraid that one day the ideas will run dry, and when they turn to me and say

“What should we do, Aaron?”

I’ll freeze and look like a “one-idea-wonder”.

But last Friday I found ideas I didn’t know I had. I went to lunch with a good friend of mine, Paul Matson and as we sat around – first at a bar having lunch, then out on his roof playing djembe and guitar – and talked. We talked about everything, from communications to politics to life in Athens. Paul had some great insights into many things I never thought of, but that’s not what surprised me (not because his ideas weren’t great, but because I’ve come to expect him to bring interesting thoughts to the table). What shocked me was some of the ideas I had. Things that I knew, but never articulated. And once I got them out there and talked them out with someone, I found new value in them.

This made me wonder, “why haven’t I talked these ideas out before?” So I came up with a list – Top five reasons we are “Idea Hoarders”

1) Like my example above, we want to save our ideas for that right moment in order to get “fully appreciated” for our thoughts.

2) It’s not socially acceptable to have ideas. Just try to think back to the last time you were in class and the prof asked a question that you knew that answer to, but didn’t raise your hand… you know what I mean.

3) We’re afraid of idea thieves. We know that someone’s around the corner waiting to take what we have and run with it.

4) We’re just not smart enough. That guy over there has better ideas so why embarrass ourselves and get shown up by the real geniuses.

5) Ideas take time to grow and it’s 73 degrees outside and my dog, Cubbie is here with me. I’m going outside to play.

These are all reasons I’ve used to swallow my words and keep my thoughts to myself. But think about the last really good idea you had and what you did with it. If you kept it to yourself, talk about it with someone – a friend, a teacher or even your mom – and see where it goes. You’ll be surprised at what your capable of, I was.