Thursday, May 10, 2012

{JMC 335} Free prom dresses in Spokane

Lindsay Hall, a senior at On Track Academy, tries
on a prom gown at Julianne's prom closet.

Early spring brings many things for the inland northwest--sunshine after many months of snow, the morning song of birds chirping, and the promise of fresh produce soon to come from northwest farms. But for high school girls, spring brings one very important event: prom.

Amid all of the prom excitement, though, are girls who aren't sure that they'll be able to go to prom because their families simply can't afford to buy a gown for them.

That's where Julianne's Prom Closet comes in. The Prom Closet is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to making sure girls of the Pacific Northwest have gowns to wear to prom and other formal events, regardless of their families' financial situations.


Julianne Sullivan, a local nurse, started the organization in 2007 when her daughter competed to be Lilac queen.

“[My daughter] won for Lewis and Clark,” Sullivan said, “and the girl who eventually won queen for the Lilac that year lived with her aunt and uncle and couldn’t afford a dress. Anyway, it was really hard to find a nice, used dress anywhere locally that would look like everybody else’s.”

Sullivan had recently seen an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that featured a woman who had gathered prom dresses into a bus and taken them to high school girls in the area hit by Hurricane Katrina.

“So, we thought, ‘Why can’t we do something like that?’” Sullivan said.

Sullivan ran the Prom Closet out of her home for much of the first year, but in the end of 2007, had the opportunity to move the organization to its current location downtown. The space now offers two large rooms of dresses and accessories in which girls can shop.

Lindsay Hall, a senior at On Track Academy, tried on more than five gowns at Julianne’s Prom Closet in her search for the perfect dress.

Her shopping experience started with a consultation with Sullivan.

“What kind of dress do you like?” Sullivan asked. “Are you looking for a big poofy prom dress?”

Hall did want to shop for a poofy dress, so Sullivan led her to the second dress room, which the Prom Closet volunteers refer to as the “Poofy Dress Room.” Shopping in that room is a special experience, since only seniors are allowed to shop there.

“Every girl has that image of a princess dress,” Sullivan said. “If we didn’t limit it like that, the poofy dresses would fly out.”

As Hall tried on dresses, some were immediately sent back to the racks because they were too small or too big. Some, though, fit her perfectly.

“[I feel] really good,” Hall said, smiling and wearing an orange halter with a full princess skirt. “It’s really comfortable. I feel so pretty.”

After Hall had tried on a few dresses, Sullivan gave her a surprise when she told Hall they would find her a graduation dress as well.

“That’s so cool,” Hall said. “I’ve been stressing about that too.”

After Hall found what she called the perfect dresses—a yellow strapless gown for prom that allowed her to show off the tattoo on her chest, and a lime green hi-low dress with a pink sash for graduation—Sullivan helped her find shoes to match.

Friday, May 4, 2012

{JMC 335} Social media podcast

Why is social media so important for business in the digital age? Research points to some possible reasons for its importance, especially considering the immense buying power that millennials have.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

{JMC 335} Refelctions

Funding Journalism, a book that we're reading in JMC 335 which deals with how to create financially stable media in the digital age, makes the suggestion that media should consider price discrimination.

In price discrimination, a company would charge consumers more or less depending on the demand in each consumers' market area. For example, in 2000 it was discovered that was allegedly charging returning customers more than new customers for DVDs. Amazon denied the allegations, saying that they were testing consumer behavior and that the price changes had no correlation to customers' past buying habits.

Whether or not Amazon took part in price discrimination does not change the fact that this practice is alive and well in today's market. I've seen many instances where photographers, for example, will charge twice as much to shoot a wedding than they would to shoot a similar event such as a quinceanera or large birthday party.

I understand why this practice might be put in place. It's all about making the money. But I don't think it's a always a particularly ethical practice. Charging people more because they are desperate for your product or services generally doesn't seem like the humane thing to do.

At the same time, the types of price discrimination proposed in Funding Journalism includes practices like releasing news for a fee when it first breaks, but then releasing it for free (supported by ads) after a time. This would be similar to what TV networks do with shows--release them on the network, which customers have to pay for by getting cable, then releasing them on for-a-fee sites like Amazon and iTunes usually 24 hours or so after the show airs, and finally releasing them via free sites like Hulu or their own network sites usually around a week after the show first airs.

This type of price discrimination bothers me a lot less because it doesn't seem that it's taking advantage of someone's situation or need in order to make more money. It's simply offering premium services at a premium price.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

{JMC 335} Key influencers

As my primary interest lies in social media, business and weddings and how the three interact, my key influencers would include social media moguls, business experts, and wedding vendors and experts.

One of my top influencers, I have (and readers may have also) noticed, is Liene Stevens of Think Splendid. She pulls together the ideas of using social media for marketing wedding businesses beautifully, and I just can't get enough.

With my final project that I will be probably be doing on Julianne's Prom Closet, key influencers may also include local news media and bloggers who may also be interested in the story.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

{JMC 335} Reflecting on a picture's worth

We've all heard the old adage, "A picture's worth a thousand words." Many have endorsed this message, emphasizing the role of photos and other graphics in reporting, marketing, books, social media and other mediums.

But, when it comes to a photos's worth, I'm a non-believer. A content atheist, if you will. There is no one type of content to rule them all. Have you ever seen a photo, only to want to know more about what is happening? That's why we have captions. And stories. To give the reader more.

There are a couple of things that pictures do that text cannot: Photos and graphics can grab the reader's attention. Also, in some research I've been doing, I encountered a 2000 study which suggested that photos help the reader to retain more of the information they read in-text.

So, will photos save the world? I think not. Will they save your publication, or suddenly make terrible writing fantastic? No. But are they one piece in the puzzle of good content? Absolutely.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

{JMC 335} Social media, business and millennials

A couple weeks ago, I did a post on how marketing to millennials is different, based on insight from Liene Stevens of Think Splendid.

One of the claims Stevens makes is this: "Social media changed how older generations communicate, but it mimics how millennials have always communicated."

An infographic created by Envelopments based on Stevens's insights.
This is such an important concept to consider when working on business marketing and communication strategies. Experts have called millennials "old souls," because research shows that they have a reclaimed interest in community--which shows in their use of social media.

Social media are all about community. Research done by Lesa Stern and Kim Taylor in 2007 showed that millennials use Facebook to stay in touch with old friends and to connect with new ones. Facebook, as well as other social media, are used to build and solidify community.

Advertising on Facebook to millennials in the US has an estimated reach of almost 100,000 people.

The potential for businesses benefit from the community in which millennials engage on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is huge. Market research shows that millennials look for brands on social media sites, and that around a third of millennials are more likely to buy from a company that has a mobile website and a Facebook page.

A handy graphic from showing some of the results of
the Barkley research mentioned above.
The question now, perhaps, is how businesses should move forward in using social media as a tool to relate to the millennial generation (who, might I add, make up around 25% of the U.S. population).


Thursday, March 8, 2012

{JMC 335} Reflecting on social media, business and journalism

I recently ran into this article on what to expect from social media. It really resonated with what I've been feeling, what I've been reading on various blogs and books, and what I've been hearing in JMC 335.

Many expect social media to be magical, and maybe it is. But just like a witch's cauldron or mystic's crystal ball, there has got to be someone guiding it.

One has to drive content on twitter, facebook and google+ just like content is driven in more traditional media. Just like with more traditional media, an audience has to be actively sought and engaged; it doesn't just appear.