To blog or not to blog…

Here’s one writer to watch.

blogAMC

I am no stranger to blogging, having dabbled on LiveJournal eons ago (which lasted all of five minutes before I grew bored of my own adolescent ramblings) and currently being in possession of a Tumblr account (which will never be linked to my true identity). Before becoming a student at SLC, however, I never considered seriously blogging for professional reasons…until now.

The general consensus of the AMC faculty is that a blog is a necessity for an aspiring marketer seeking the attentions of a future employer. (Frank Armstrong seems to know what’s what.) Even if this blog were not an assignment, I think that I would have started it anyway. I am in this program to ultimately get a job in the marketing field and am willing to do what it takes to reach that goal. I feel that I am a fairly strong writer and – assuming…

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From a future writer

Keep on blogging, Amanda. Write fearlessly and fiercely.

Crossroads

Hi everyone. Today I am going to express my feelings and thoughts towards writing and the challenges I face but hope to overcome. As a graduated hairstylist, I have not spent much time writing or practicing my writing, therefore, I am concerned my writing skills are not up to par.

During my year at Versailles Academy of hair and make up, I have spent almost no time at all practicing my writing. Instead, we practiced our communication and people skills to be able to adapt with different personalities. I would call myself a communicator and presenter over a writer but would eventually like to change that aspect of my life since I do enjoy writing. To me, writing is about expressing yourself which I enjoy doing through dance or journaling, which unfortunately to date has been for my eyes only.

Writing in a journal is a start for me to…

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Now you too can embed images in your blog

A blog isn’t a blog without images.

Readers like to look at pictures and they can even boost your searchability through Google, so your blog should have at least one image. Indeed, your mark on your blog assignment will go down if you don’t have at least one image.

So here is a short intro on how to embed images into your posts:

Step 1: Decide on an image and where you want it to go. It’s usually best to have a few lines of text above your first image.

Step 2: Place your cursor approximately where you want the image to go.

Step 3: Upload the image to WordPress by clicking on the “plus” sign in the WordPress menu and choosing “Add Media.” Choose the blue “Add New” button if you haven’t already uploaded the image to WordPress.

Step 4: Choose the blue “Add New” button if you haven’t already uploaded the image to WordPress.

Step 5: Click “INSERT.” To place the image artfully on your page, click it and choose how you want your text to wrap around it. You can resize it by clicking the “-” or “+” signs.

Step 6: By clicking the callout icon, you can cite your source. Just copy and paste the URL into the caption box.

 

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Now you too can create gorgeous hyperlinks

Do you dread all things technical?

Well, do not fear because I’m here to show you how to create hyperlinks in your blog posts.  I will not only show you how to do this, I will provide a link to a site that will give you instructions so that you can later follow its steps on your own time.

Step 1: Decide what word(s) you want to turn into hyperlinks and highlight it/them.

Step 2: Find the site that you want to link to.

Step 3: Copy the URL of that site.

Step 4: Click the chain icon in the WordPress menu bar.

Step 5: In the window that opens, paste the URL of the site that you want to link to.

Step 6: Close the window. You now have a hyperlink.

Or you can review similar instructions on this WordPress support page.

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5 career-related reasons why college students should blog now

So your instructor has saddled you with a daunting assignment. You are going to have to blog regularly, maybe weekly, over the coming 15-week semester. You will be reflecting very publicly about writing to a global audience and you will be writing about what you are learning in your Advertising courses.

You should be excited about the prospect of all that you will learn in the process. But maybe you are not.

“Can I delete my blog as soon as it’s done?” one of my usually more motivated Advertising students whined to me last semester when she heard about the coming assignment.

TASTY BLOGS

I resisted the urge to show my disappointment. This blogging assignment has been one of the most powerful learning experiences for my students in the past. Students who have embraced it have grown hugely as writers and editors. The blog has helped them improve their critical thinking and reflective skills, their eye for design, their web-tech skills, their research skills and their writing and editing abilities, among others.

And it’s helped them get jobs.

Indeed, the assignment, as delivered to consecutive years of Advertising and Marketing students, had been so successful that other programs at St. Lawrence College have copied it or used it as a foundation to develop their own similar assignments.

But I knew that my claims would not convince that nervous student. So I’ve assembled some younger folk whose blogs have helped launch their careers, or who blog for a living, to testify for me.

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First, there’s Ron Johnston, a St. Lawrence College Marketing students whom I taught in 2013. A father and full-time student who ran his own culinary consulting business, Ron was overwhelmed by his academic workload and was skeptical as to how blogging was a relevant skill for a Marketing grad—until his placement boss asked him to start blogging for the company.

“Immediately following a quick review of the material that he would like to have talked about, I began drafting ideas down on a sheet of paper,” Ron wrote in his blog in my course. “I am really looking forward to this aspect of my placement as I feel very comfortable blogging because of all the training we have received in our Comm57 class with professor Frank Armstrong.”

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Jason Manuge

Next, I hope to bring at least two of our Advertising grads into the classroom, either in person or digitally. One will be Jason Manuge, Marketing Manager at FuneralTech in Kingston, Ontario. Then I hope to introduce students to Brook Johnston, a successful freelance copywriter and creative in Toronto. Both scored their first industry jobs in their first year of college as a result of the blogs they wrote in my first-year writing communications class.

 

Then there are dozens of articles online that talk about why college students should blog.

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Brook Johnston

Famous college strategies YouTuber Thomas Frank, blogger Melissa Burns at Stanford University, and Anna Pitts at Basic Blogging Tips give many unassailable reasons, including the following five:

 

Reason #1: It looks great in your portfolio and demonstrates your writing, editing, proofreading, design skills, and it increases your positive digital footprint.

Reason #2: It solidifies what you are learning in your program. By reflecting in your blogs on what you are learning, you are actually teaching. And teaching a subject is the most powerful way to learn it.

Reason #3: You can get access to people that others can’t. Talk to anyone who has blogged regularly and for any length of time, and they will tell you that they have connected with people they never would have expected to meet. Some may open doors that would have otherwise remained closed to you.

Reason #4: Blogging to a real-life audience helps you to become a better writer. Knowing screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-2-13-28-pmthat people other than your instructor will be reading your blog motivates us to do the best work that we can when it comes to writing and editing and designing our blog posts.

Reason #5: Blogging teaches you useful technical skills. You can improve your blog by employing Google Analytics, SEO, Photoshop, Illustrator, CSS, and HTML—all skills valued by the employers who are looking for capable Advertising grads.

There are many other reasons to blog and blog well, but I’m hoping these will convince my students. If they don’t work, well then, there are two more bones that I can throw: the assignment is worth 15% of their grade, and the best bloggers will win awards in April at the  Advertising program’s annual Greg Awards, our college’s equivalent to the Academy Awards.

Even timid and struggling writers can win. Former student Kassandra DeGuire told me on the first day of our writing class that she was worried about doing poorly in my course. She worked hard to produce excellent blog posts each week. The practice paid off. She won second place at the Gregs for her blog and even ended up blogging in one or two of her post-college Advertising jobs.

So there’s my pitch. Have I convinced you that your blog might help you if you give it your all?  If not, well then, I give up.

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Marketing Blogger of the Year

This one is a toughie.

My second-year marketing communications students have spent the last six weeks blogging weekly about the subjects of their marketing research projects. While I hung the weekly topics of the assignment on students’ research reports, the main purpose of blogging weekly was to get them to regularly practise the essentials of business writing.

Because students will need every bit of fodder they can get for their resumes when they graduate, I take every opportunity to give them accolades that they can stick under their belts. For these marketing students, I’ve created the Blogger of the Year Award.

So… At the moment, I am struggling to decide who should win 2014 Marketing Blogger of the Year.

I have four faves:

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 1.18.49 PMDaniel Beals is a mature student who has pristine prose and writes with depth and intelligence. Daniel served as the NDP candidate for Kingston and the Islands in the 2011 federal elections. He plans to extend his blogging into the political sphere once the assignment that sparked his weekly posts ends. If you read his thoughtful entries, you’ll see that he can write convincingly. I’d like to see this man give a speech. When he campaigns again, I will make sure that I do! Daniel wrote about Canada Post.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 1.19.02 PMJohn Sullivan also demonstrated spotless writing—or nearly so. But he also showed a clever sense of humour while addressing all of the requirements of our weekly blogging checklists. Each one of these requirements helped to enforce the essentials of basic, good business writing. John was also careful to make sure his links always opened a new page, so readers of his blog would not be taken away from his page. John wrote about Kellogg’s.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 1.18.20 PMDuring most of the six weeks of the assignment, Ashley Kitts took to blogging like a fish to water. She wrote with flair and obvious curiosity for her topics, but she also demonstrated some solid critical thinking by backing up her thoughts and opinions with decent examples and links to her evidence. Ashley also showed a delightful sense of humour at times and I always looked forward to reading her blog posts. Like John, Ashley wrote about Kellogg’s.

Blog 6 part 1 (2)Last but not least was Kayla Coleman, who blogged about Subway restaurants. Kayla wrote with colour and intelligence and care. Her writing was fairly clean and she used solid evidence to back up her claims. She also sourced all of her evidence. Kayla paid attention to the checklist and stuck to the assigned topic of each week, which included subjects such as product history, ethics, and cultural issues impacting the business or product studied in her marketing research report.

So who did I choose?

I didn’t choose the writer with the cleanest writing. Although the winner’s was pretty clean and demonstrated an obvious effort at proofreading. I didn’t choose the blogger who earned the highest mark for satisfying all the requirements of the checklist every week. Although this writer obviously did well at addressing the checklist.

I chose Kayla Coleman’s blog because her blogs were always written with more than a touch of passion and curiosity. Her blogs always “looked” good. She used images and clean links right from Week One. And she displayed critical thinking and thoughtfulness every time.

If there was one weakness in Kayla’s blog, it was that there was some sort of technological flaw in its programming (not her fault). Indeed, each week, I would get only once chance to review her blog before it would suddenly—poof!—self-destruct like a secret agent’s assignment in the Mission Impossible movies.

Indeed, her last post (one of my Kayla favourites) has disappeared from her blogsite and I was able to read it only because Kayla took a screenshot of it. I wish you could see it. It’s about a sustainability issue that Subway should consider or it will risk getting tromped by its competition.

Anyhow, congratulations, Kayla Coleman. And congratulations to John and Ashley and Daniel for six weeks of fine work.

Congratulations to all the other bloggers who made my Top Blogger of the Week list at least once.

And congratulations to everyone who made a real effort at the assignment and probably learned a thing or two about business writing along the way.

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The home stretch

We’re almost there.

Second-year marketing students wrote their second-last blog post last week.

I’ve picked seven favourites for the Week 5 Top Five. That’s two too many. What’s a teacher to do?

I guess I’ll introduce you to them all.

Normally, I provide some of my own insight about something I’ve learned each week, but I’ve been in front of my computer all day and it’s time to enjoy some of that gorgeous late winter sun. So, without further ado, here are my favourite top eight blogs of the week:

Daniel Beals writes about Canada Post’s failure to adequately market itself.

Emily Culhane shares Daniel’s feelings on Canada Post marketing. Read what she has to say here.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 2.43.25 PMThis week, I’m sharing Ashley Kitts’ blog about how culture impacts breakfast cereal sales.

Eloquent wordsmith John Sullivan shares some of the marketing strategies employed by Kellogg’s.

Colin Howard writes about how the YMCA markets itself online.

Kim Lee Santos describes how her client, Omega Fit Club, markets its business.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 2.44.52 PMCraig McMullen hits the Top Blog list for the first time with his post on the social media marketing tools used by Starbucks.

If you enjoyed any of the above posts, please “like” them, leave comments, follow them, or even share them on Twitter or Facebook. I know students would love to know that the world is watching and interested in what they have to say.

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