In the light of the upcoming election I felt inspired to finally write a blog post after a 5-month dry spell. As I was browsing through one of my favorite fashion blogs today, The Cut, the reoccurring subject of the majority of the posts was none other but Barack Obama, no surprise there. Designers such as Vera Wang and Diane Von Furstenberg are among millions of people that have “Baracked the Vote” in this historically powerful election. Whether it is because they love Mr. Obama’s policies on the future of our country or maybe because they think that he will look better in a suit than his opponent, these designers did their part and voted. Speaking of which, anyone reading this, get out there and rock the vote before it’s too late!

In just a little over 24 hours, our country will have a new president, but what is election day without the perfect outfit? Have you heard that Zac Posen is urging everyone to look their best on the big day and then send in photos of their election day outfits at Zac@fashionthevote.org. So as Zac said, “Make the future, look good.” Barack Obama needs all the support he can get, and there is nothing wrong with doing so in style.

- O.

Organically made clothing took the world of high fashion by storm in 2008. Top fashion designers now utilize eco-friendly fabrics and turn them into Haute Couture. Designers like Rogan Gregory, Linda Loudermilk, Lisa Gorman, Richie Rich for Heatherette, Bahar Shahpar and brands such as J Brand, American Apparel and John Patrick Organic are all pioneers of the emerging green fashion movement. Recently, Guess Inc. announced that the company will also be coming out a new eco-friendly line that which will feature everything from denim to cotton tees.

In January, a fashion show called FutureFashion, showed off just how far green fashion has come in the past year. Organized by a New York-based non-profit company, Earth Pledge, the fashion show inspired many famed fashion designers to work with organic fabrics for the first time. Instead of using the traditional cashmere and silk fabrics, the designers used sasawashi, a Japanese fabric made from paper and herbs, peace silk and hemp. Since the fashion show, many other designers have pledged to incorporate organic fabric into their clothing lines. Some well-known designers that took part in the fashion show were Phillip Lim and Stella McCartney.

The great thing about eco-fashions is that they don’t involve the use of harmful chemicals and bleaches to color fabrics. Clothing that is considered eco-friendly is typically made with raw organic materials such as cotton, which is not grown with pesticides, and reused materials such as plastic from recycled soda bottles. These clothes are also made under healthy working conditions, by people who are earning fair wages.

The move toward eco-friendly fashions is receiving major support from the fashion industry. Those designers that made the switch to organic fabrics will soon realize the benefits of such a strategic move. In the midst of many major global warming concerns, it is important for everyone to contribute to improving the health of the environment. Plus, think about how great it will feel to be recognized as a designer who is trying to save the planet? Using organic fabrics is not only eco-friendly, but also super beneficial for the image of the designer. Overall, it is a win-win situation. Plus, all the clothes are super cute. Here are some eco-friendly fashions from the eco-conscious designers.

It’s finally here!! On Friday, May 30, the highly-awaited premier of Sex and the City Movie took the nation by storm, making $55 million its opening weekend. The show’s fans have longed for this follow-up since the series’ end in 2004. Over the past decade, the world watched Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte as they dated, went on shopping sprees, drank cosmopolitans and acquired fabulous careers. With each season, the ladies of Sex and the City morphed into fashion icons for women across the country, and possibly all around the world. The show introduced women to high-fashion brands such as Chloe, Blumarine, Manolo Blahnik and a bundle of others. The show also taught women how to effortlessly mix and match designer items with bargain finds. Most importantly, Sex and the City conveyed the message that women can have fun with fashion, especially in the work place. In a Wall Street Journal article, “The ‘sex’ effect: Empowering to Some, Trashy to others” by Christina Brinkley, she discuses the idea of Sex and the City fashion in the workplace. Brinkley writes that after the Sex and the City era, women started feeling much more empowered to be girlie, expose cleavage and be more daring in general. Being an aspiring, fashion-loving young woman, I understand the importance of style in the workplace. Our personal style give us character and a certain appeal; however, I also understand the importance of being tasteful with my ” workplace style.” It is essential to keep your audience in mind when getting dressed for work. Brinkley points out that dressing suitably is a social skill, and these social skills are important for climbing the ladder of success. To me this means that it is important to make the distinction between what is work-appropriate and what isn’t. In the public relations industry personal image is vital for success. Representing oneself in a positive, put-together manner is a key element in the industry. Similar to how public relations practitioners represent their clients, they should also have the ability to master essentials to represent themselves. Brinkley advises women to go the conservative route, instead of the Sex and the City route, to avoid conflicts and bad impressions.

However, dressing conservatively doesn’t always have to be boring. There are tricks to making a simple outfit more fun, without sacrificing its conservative element. Accessories such as a big necklace, a bracelet or a pair of pearls will give the outfit a flair and a sense of your personal style. Personal style is a form of PR, which is why it is important to distinguish between what will give a good impression and what will give a bad one. Brinkley says “It’s style, not fashion,” and that one phrase alone sets the guidelines for power dressing. I believe that style represents taste and an understanding of what will make one look professional in the workplace. Here are some images that show a modern conservative outfits that aren’t boring.

Workplace attire put aside, I am a huge fan of Sex and the City fashion. The colors, the prints and the outrageous designs are my guilty pleasure. The pink carpet Sex and the City Movie premier on May 30 was a total melange of metallic colors, bright summer tones and custom designer pieces. Patricia Field, the costume designer for the series, returned to her post and worked on the fashions for Sex and the City Movie. In the series, Field dressed the ladies of Sex in the City in everything from designer couture to thrift-store finds. There is no doubt that the movie excels in its fashions and as a fan, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

I think that everyone woman should have the power to express her character through fashion. Feeling good on the outside results in what feels like “internal tranquility.” Work style however is much different from street style and it is essential for women today to understand the difference between the two. I guess we can’t all get away with what Sex and the City’s PR maven, Samantha Jones, can.

In my advanced PR Writing class we are reading a book called “Made to Stick” written by brothers, Dan Heath and Chip Heath. In the book, the authors outline the six important principles of stickiness. In my last post I discussed the importance of concreteness and in this post will focus on the principle of credibility.

Credibility makes an audience believe an idea or a message. If there is no credibility, an audience will not consider an idea or a message as truthful.

In “Made to Stick,” the Heath brothers discuss a variety of ways that will give a message or an idea the credibility it needs to make an effect on its audience. First way to achieve credibility is to use an authority. We believe our parents when they tell us things because we consider them as figures of authority. Also, if the president of our country conveys a message, we are more likely to consider it to be true because he is an authority in our eyes (hypothetically speaking). Authority figures can be experts, celebrities and other aspirational figures.

Another way to establish credibility is to use an “anti-authority.” According to Dan and Chip Heath, and anti-authority is someone who does not necessarily have the status of a celebrity or an aspirational figure, but is thought to be honest and experienced on the subject matter. The book uses Pam Laffin as an example of an anti-authority for a campaign against smoking. Pam is a woman who started smoking at the age of ten and developed emphysema by the age twenty-four. She also suffered a failed lung transplant. Pam Laffin is a good example of an anti-authority because she is a real-life example of the negative impact that smoking has on a human body. Pam is a good example because she is not an actress and has no ulterior motives for participating in this campaign. It is proven that people will be more receptive to a message if they know that the person relaying that message is doing it out of their own free will. The receiver of the message has much more trust in the message. The books asserts that sometimes anti-authorities are at times even better than authorities.

Another great example described in “Made to Stick” focuses on the audience as the credible source. In a famous Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” campaign on 1984, Wendy’s customers are utilized as the source of credibility. This method doesn’t use external credibility or internal credibility, but it uses the audience. Wendy’s outsourced its credibility to its customers. The “customers” in this campaign verify the truth in that Wendy’s burgers are truly bigger than those from Burger King and McDonald’s. The challenge of asking customers to test a claim for themselves is known as “testable credential,” which according to Chip and Dan Heath can provide a large credibility boost.

Details are also essential to the credibility of a message. “Made to Stick” suggests that vivid and specific details in urban legends and other stories boost the credibility of that story. If the audience can easily picture the message that they are being told, they are more likely to believe in it. Humanizing statistic in a message is also very important because it helps add credibility instead of confusion. By utilization the above techniques, one can develop a clear message that will “stick” to your chosen audience.

According to the authors of “Made to Stick,” a New York Times Bestseller, Chip Heath and Dan Heath consider there to be six essential principles of “stickiness.” Stickiness is an idea that describes whether or not certain messages are retained. The Heath brothers discuss why certain methods of communications are more effective than others by analyzing each one in detail.

In each chapter of the book Dan Heath and Chip Heath discuss the different principles of stickiness. The brothers consider the principle of “concreteness” to be vital to creating a “sticky” message. To analyze the concept of “concreteness,” “Made to Stick” focuses on the principle of abstraction. The book explains that abstraction makes it harder to understand and remember an idea but concreteness helps avoid such problems. The Heath brothers strongly believe that naturally sticky ideas are full of concrete words and images such as the “kidney heist” that sends a clear and concrete message about a man who got drugged and woke up to discover that his kidney was missing. Even though this story is fake, the disturbingly concrete images painted by this story are likely to be remembered by its audience.

It is important to use concrete messages when communicating ideas to audiences. Concrete messages are core messages, which are more memorable and easily understood by others. A Yale researcher, Eric Havelock, studies tales such as the Iliad and the Odyssey that have been passed down by word of mouth for centuries. In this chapter of “Made to Stick” he asserts that such tales are characterized by lots of concrete actions and not very much abstraction. He believes that the principle of abstraction evolved away over time and that’s why the more memorable concrete details survived over the centuries. He claims that abstraction “evaporated” because it wasn’t as memorable as the concrete details of such stories. This idea proves that people are more likely to remember fables and childhood stories, than abstract ideas they are taught in a philosophy class. Abstraction could be very difficult to grasp, and if one does not understand the idea it will fail to stick.

To further explain concreteness, the Heath brothers tell a story about Jerry Kaplan, who used a portfolio to convey a concrete idea that created a shared “turf” for his audience. The story of Jerry Kaplan applies to the main focus of this chapter, and that concreteness creates understanding, which puts an audience on a common ground. If everyone understands an idea, that creates a forum for discussion. If the idea is too abstract the “shared turf” may never be achieved.

When communicating with an audience, it is important that it has a clear understand of the core message. If the language or the idea is too abstract, the audience will have a hard time understanding or let alone remembering the message. This is why concrete language is key in communication.

As a part of living a healthy lifestyle, I enjoy eating fresh, organically produced foods on a regular basis. In recent years many wonderful stores have come into the business of natural and organic foods. One of my favorite stores to shop at is Whole Foods Market. The atmosphere, the food and the people make Whole Foods a wonderful shopping experience. I like Whole Foods Market because it is dedicated to selling the highest quality of products while providing extraordinary customer service. I decided to review the company’s Whole Green Blog for as an assignment for my Advanced PR Writing class to see how well the company is represented by its employees. I am curious to see if the values and convictions of Whole Foods are reflected through its blog.

Using blog-grading criteria developed by businessandblogging.com, I reviewed the Whole Foods blog in a number of important areas and then scored it out of 80 points.

Overall, I rate this blog: Good

On a scale of 1 – 10:

  • Ease of finding: 10 – The Whole Foods blog is easily accessible. I was able to type in “Whole Foods blog” into Google and The Whole Green Blog was the first link that appeared. The blog link is also listed on the main Whole Foods home page. It is a well-identified link at the bottom of the site, which takes you to all Whole Foods blogs.

  • Frequency: 4 – The Whole Green Blog has one post per week. There were some weeks where there were two posts; however, those weeks were not frequent.

  • Engaging writing: 8 – The style of writing varies from entry to entry because different Whole Foods employees contribute their ideas to this blog. However, all the entries are well-written, engaging and establish a clear message. The writing style of the blog is very casual, which makes it easy for Whole Foods consumers to relate to such a large corporation.

  • Relevant: 9 – The blog is directly relevant to the ideals of Whole Foods Market and its shoppers. However, what makes this blog interesting to read are the posts that don’t discuss the business aspect of the company, but focus more on environmental topics. Most of the posts have a personal feel, which builds a closer connection with the community of Whole Foods shoppers.

  • Focused: 9 – The blog is very focused on environmentally friendly topics such as sustainability, renewable energy, recycling and many others. The blog updates readers about new ways to live a “greener” life. Every post discusses a different issue that ties in with the central message of Whole Foods Market.

  • Honest: 10 – The blog focuses on “green” issues, which I believe to be accurate and honest. Since the blog does not discuss the company’s financial information and focuses more on human interest stories, there is less of a push for the blog to be dishonest. The writers of the blog are clearly identified, which gives this blog credibility.

  • Interactive: 10 – The Whole Foods Blog provides a space to comment on each blog entry. The blog encourages feedback, and even gives out prizes to randomly selected comments each month. Then the blog turns those comments into featured postings. There are valuable website links as well as video links included in the posts, which adds to the blog’s overall interactivity.

  • Responsive: 5 – Even though the blog encourages bloggers to post their comments by providing incentives, it doesn’t look like the writers of the blog comment back on their postings. The fact that the blog allows its readers to leave comments suggests that it is making an effort to address the readers’ questions and concerns.

I also want to give The Whole Green Blog 5 bonus points for including many valuable links in the blog posts. These links made the blog a lot more interactive. Another feature that this blog received extra points for was the simplicity of accessing all of the blog’s archives.

Whole Food’s blog scored 65 out of 80 points according to businessandblogging.com’s blog-grading criteria. Even though the blog was very encouraging for comments, I would have liked to see more feedback from the employees that posted the comments. From a public relations standpoint, this blog is well done and is focused on the core values that Whole Foods Market portrays in its stores.

I was casually browsing through the Bad Pitch Blog when I noticed a post about Twitter. My Advanced PR Writing Professor suggested that we join Twitter at the start of this term, so now anytime I hear about Twitter I am curious to know what others think about it. This blog post particularly intrigued me because it said everything I have ever felt about Twitter and then some. For me Twitter is a very unfamiliar form of social media. I know Facebook and MySpace and blogs, however Twitter just never truly caught my interest. The Bad Pitch Blog looks at Twitter from a cool perspective that makes me want to give Twitter another try. It is true, I need to learn how to not hate Twitter and take advantage of its unique nature. Here are the tips that I thought were most helpful for me as a Twitter newbie:

Twitter takes time- Twitter gains value over time. This statement is true because I have yet to gain any real value from Twitter, however I also rarely spend any time on it. Getting on Twitter is like a job to me, it does not yet appeal to me as something that I want to do on my own free will.

Twitter is niche- After talking to Leona Laurie, a fellow PR practitioner, I learned that Twitter is a very niched community. She explained to me that Twitter aides people with the establishment of personal connections within the Twitter community. The public relations industry is based on building personal relationships. It is a great community for individuals to connect on a more personal level. Personal relationships tend to lead to professional relationships, making Twitter a beneficial tool for establishing relationships within the industry.

140 character pitches- I like this one especially because in my PR Writing class the other day we had to make an elevator pitch to our teacher. Twitter seems to be really valuable for that because the 140-character limit forces the writer to be concise and get right to the point. This feature of Twitter I think is truly beneficial for a public relations practitioner.

I do potentially see the benefits of Twitter, however I think in order for me to actually receive those benefits I would have to spend much more time on Twitter than I do now. What do you guys think?
Twitter Web site

The fashion world thinks of it as a “retail’s odd couple,” others think of it as a smart strategic move. Target Corp. has recently teamed up with Barneys New York to promote designer Rogan Gregory’s new eco-friendly clothing line. Rogan’s “Go International” line will make its debut at Barneys in New York, May 9-11 and in Los Angeles on May 16-18. This collection is apparently only going to be in stock for five days, after which shoppers will have to wait for the collection to debut at the Target stores.

Rogan Gregory is known for his cutting-edge concept of fashion, as well as his understanding of social responsibility. His casual clothing collection is produced from organic materials, so Rogan really knows what is fashionable as well as environmentally friendly.

The move to design a less expensive clothing line for Target has no-doubt caused some interesting questions as well as concerns. Since Barneys sells Rogan’s primary line, which includes trousers for $230, dresses for $320 and anoraks for $450, many wonder what the reaction will be to such a contrast in prices. Rogan, a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award winner, created this eco-friendly line while keeping budget constraints in mind. Ronan’s prices for this line are fairly inexpensive, ranging from $15-$45. One of the main concerns that has been brought up is the fact that customers will see two pieces from the same designer and wonder why one costs $300 and the other costs $30. Even though there is a chance that such a move will throw some customers off, such a bold move will also create a positive buzz for both Barneys and the new Rogan line.

New York Magazine’s Fashion blog,The Cut, discussed the issue and they believe that this move is going to have a positive outcome. The Cut thinks that such a strategic move is good PR for Barneys because it will not only better its already fabulous reputation, as well as keep people talking for weeks.

I believe that this is a start of a beautiful new relationship. With the economy at its low, not many average American citizens are spending money on clothes like they used to. So here is a happy medium. Designer-made clothes for a department store price. It’s genius.

Ronan’s new line is so versatile. It appeals to many for its price and it also targets those “eco-friendly” consumers. This move is very timely and all the clothes are very cute, modern and stylish. The line features animal print and cut-out bathing suits, striped vests, button up jumpers and more.

One of Nylon Magazine’s current most viewed links is “First Look: Rogan Grergory for Target.” Check it out, it goes along the same line as my blog post.

So as PR professionals what do you guys think of this bold move?

Yet another Disney Channel favorite stirs up controversy in June’s issue of Vanity Fair. This time it is Miley Cyrus that has caused the most recent Scandal du Jour. In a portrait done by Annie Leibovitz, Cyrus poses semi-topless, covering herself with a blanket. The Hannah Montana star has definitely caused a stir with her “grown-up” pictures, however, in reality were those pictures as provocative as the media made them out to be? In a world full of Britneys and Lindsays, stunts like these have become casual. However, when a 15-year-old media darling became a master piece of the legendary Annie Leibovitz’ work, people really paid attention. Even though Cyrus did pose for Leibovitz, the photographs were done in a very tasteful way. There is a video on Vanity Fair’s web site that shows that the photo shoot was actually a relaxed family affair that has no inappropriate undertones.

The media and others are worried that Miley will become another Britney, but in all honesty not every one turns over to the dark side just because they did a some-what suggestive photo shoot. Just like any normal 15-year-old, Miley Cyrus is just experimenting with new things and is doing things that kids her age do. I do agree that since she is such a public figure, as well as a Disney Channel icon, she should be more selective with what she does and what she doesn’t do.

In my opinion, getting to work with Annie Leibovitz is an opportunity of a lifetime. She is an amazing photographer who has had years of photography experience. Leibovitz is known for great pictures that tend to cross the line a little. There are always ways to make celebrities look bad, however i do think that Cyrus could have done much worse things than this. Even though many are worried that Miley Cyrus is going to follow the path of Lindsay Lohan and other Hollywood teens, I think that one photo shoot is not an indicator for that conclusion. I definitely think that Vanity Fair is also a big part of this situation because they cater to an old audience and by putting a 15-year-old girl on its cover, it threw a lot of people off.

Just like the fashions of Balenciaga, Carolina Herrera, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, Starbucks is also going retro for the spring. Its original brown label has temporarily replaced the highly recognized green Starbucks logo of a mermaid encircled by the words “Starbucks Coffee.” Since the green logo is so pervasive, the change is an immediate attention-grabber.

The reason for the switch is the launch of Starbucks’ new coffee blend, Pike Place Roast, which is supposed to have a smoother taste. Starbucks wants people to recognize the company’s shift toward brewed coffee as well as emphasize on the their coffee-roasting abilities. The new Starbucks cups are also made with 10% post-consumer recycled content, so they are not only promoting their new roast but also their efforts to serve coffee in a more environmentally friendly way.

Such a move seems unusual since Starbucks’ logo is immediately recognizable all over the world. However, the logo change was a definite strategic PR move on the company’s part. It drew immediate attention not only to the logo, but also to their new blend. The logo change raised the question of “Why did Starbucks do that?” Starbucks rarely advertises its product because its popularity sells itself. So the logo change is a subtle marketing technique for the new Pike’s Place Roast.

Even though the move has raised some controversy, I feel as though it also added to the popularity of Starbucks coffee. After all, techniques are the same in fashion, a designer has to make a drastic move to gain attention and make an impression on its audience. Since this spring bold, retro floral prints are making a come back, why not bring the retro Starbucks logo back as well?

What are everyone’s thoughts on the new Starbucks cup? Does it make you miss the old, more familiar logo or is it something new and exciting? I personally haven’t made up my mind yet! I kind of got used to the old cup over my coffee-drinking years!

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