Visuals Play an Increasing Role in Communications

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For a long time now visuals have played a significant role in the communications industry. What with social media playing such a significant role in our lives,This has never been truer than it is now. After reading an article by Megan Garber about instagramming food, I felt inspired to share my opinion about visual communications.

In Garber’s article she was talking about how Instagram was the surprise judge for an episode of Top Chef. The only thing that the Instagram community would judge would be how creative and appetizing the dish looks. Garber used this as an example to empathize how important visuals are for not only communications industry but for every industry.

Instagram was able to capitalize on this visual demand trend and use it to branch into new markets. For example, some of the people who watch Top Chef might not use Instagram, or know much about it. Now that Instagram is playing a role in other industries such as the cooking-television industry, more people are becoming aware of the significance of making things visually appealing. Even the chefs who had to cook the dishes were forced to think creatively and make a visually appealing dish instead of doing what they know and create something based on the taste.

The cooking industry isn’t the only one who is using images to speak to their audiences. Businesses are hiring creative individuals who can present information in creative ways. Infographics are a prime example of one of the new ways businesses are trying to convey information. Companies such as Coca-Cola are using infographics to educate the customers about its products. In one infographic used by them they show the effects of drinking a cola after one hour.

Many companies are already using visuals to highlight their products, which is why Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are so effective for reaching target audiences. As visual communication tools continue to advance and new one are created, businesses that focus on visually engaging their audiences will stand out amongst competitors.

Proximity: Bridge to Personalization

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Have you noticed that ads are becoming increasingly more personal and relevant to you? This is  because of a marketing focus shift from globalization to personalization which targets people directly rather than selling products to mass audiences. What I mean by this is that businesses are striving to create advertising, public relations and marketing content that will reach consumers as they are showing interest in specific products.

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This requires brands to use data analytics to monitors online traffic. For example, say I was going camping in a month. I start looking online for destinations. The next step is looking for camping gear. Once I start looking for outdoor apparel and outdoor cooking gear, a company like REI who is using data analytics to personalize the advertising, would see that I would also potentially be looking for a tent or a sleeping bag. So that company would send me specific advertisements to direct me to them, normally offering some kind of deal or a coupon. This has been a common marketing tool, which is why Google analytics and other software like it have become so widely used. The new data that people are collecting is based on mobile data that all transmitted from our phones. This allows companies to target use wherever we go, but this can be a good thing.

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So how is proximity going to play an increasing role? With all the mobile data out there companies can track your every move as scary as that might sound. However, if you are in a mall and you have a shopping history at urban outfitters and you walk within a certain distance, Urban outfitters will have programs to send you specific offers that appeal specifically to your purchasing history. Some people say this is an invasion of privacy, but I would argue that as long as you use the Internet you accept that you are being tracked, and if you don’t accept it there are hundreds of anti-tracking applications, which can be downloaded for free. Google even offers one called Adblock-Pro. As companies begin to use proximity based marketing tactics, advertisers and public relations specialists will have to find ways to exploit this new trend and use it to increase the reach of a PR or Ad campaign.

 

 

 

 

Drones Will Change The World

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Flying drones could be the future. They have endless possibilities with applicable uses in nearly every industry. As Drones have developed into their own industry, many rules and regulations have been put in place due to safety concerns. But once rules and regulations are removed or at least reduced, drones will be widely adapted to every industry. Although the agriculture, law enforcement, and shipping industries are leading the charge almost every industry has reasons to support a drone revolution.

Industry Applications

Agriculture

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This Picture shows a man controlling a drone to spray pesticides on a farm in Bozhou, Central China’s Anhui Province. Image by: STR / AFP

Drones could be key to the agriculture industry. Many farm workers spend a great deal of time spraying pesticides, fertilizers and nutrients on crops either by hand or by plane. In either case, the result isn’t pretty, working the fields by hand wastes a great deal of time and it is very expensive to use planes due to fuel cost. Now imagine if the United States used drones to spray crops or maybe even water them. So much time and effort could be saved and better utilized. Essentially saving time would be the biggest thing drones could offer for the agricultural industry. Apart from being able to spray crops as show above, Drones could be used to scout and monitor crops, which consumes a great amount of time. It is easy to see why farmers are so keen to use drones as farming tools. Not only will drones save time and manpower, but also will save significant amounts of money.

Law Enforcement

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Flying drones first appeared to the public as a militarized invention used for spying and warfare. It makes sense that law enforcement agencies would want to use demilitarized versions of drones within the United States since they were so successfully used overseas. Drones would give law enforcement the means to safely monitor public and national threats. They could be used in high-speed chases, gun standoffs, investigations, and even for security surveillance. Now that everyone can buy drones, law enforcement will need to find ways to pursue drone owners who violate the law, such as filming people in their own homes. Japanese law enforcement has already started to use drones to hunt illegal drone users by using drones with nets to capture the other drones. Although it is easy to see how law enforcement could use drones, many people are skeptical of the ways police could abuse them.

Shipping

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Amazon has already started the race to see which shipping industries can adapt to a drone future. For two years now, Amazon has been working on the Amazon Prime Air delivery drone, which potentially threatens the shipping industry, as we know it. Amazon has claimed that it will offer free air delivery to prime members once the FAA approves the service. Imagine ordering something online and it gets delivered to you within 30 minutes. Although this will be an absolutely amazing feature by amazon, it will make Standard delivery services like UPS, FedEx and the USPS less necessary since amazon won’t require an outside delivery company to deliver packages weighing less than five pounds.

What is preventing a drone revolution?

To see commercialized drones in the future, the most significant thing for supporters and lobbyists to overcome is a PR battle.  Due to the military origin of drones, a lot of bad press portrays drones as first and foremost, a weapon.  This innately creates fear in the public and government agencies due to the possible military applications and threat to national security. The FAA has established rules and regulations for drones that greatly restrict companies from fully utilizing them. Before any companies can use drones for commercial purposes, the public stigma attached to drones will have to be changed. Public relations will be the key to starting this drone revolution.

– Nathan

 

Video Games are the Future of Education

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When I was young, my teachers told me video games would rot my brain. Because I was a child and video games were just emerging, I didn’t have any proof to argue with my them, so I kept my mouth shut.

Looking back, I haven’t thought about whether or not my teachers were right or wrong until I read an article written by Jacob Kastrenakes. It stated that an educational version of Minecraft is being used in schools.  This assures me that I was right and my teachers were wrong. Now the world has reached a digital age where anything we can imagine we can make real on computers. The gamification of education is proof of this.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve goals with non-game purposes. It exploits the basic human desire and need for gratification.

By using video games to satisfy the users impulses that revolve around the idea of Status and Achievement, educational video games can be used to teach students while maintaining their interests. Are you still confused about what exactly gamification is? Allow me to explain with Microsoft’s latest attempt to turn Minecraft into an educational program for schools.

Microsoft recently announced that it would produce an educational version of Minecraft designed to have students explore real world places like the Pyramids of Egypt. The educational version of Minecraft isn’t too different from the original, except it is designed to go along with teacher lesson plans and show real locations. Microsoft’s use of Minecraft as an educational program is only one basic example how how video games are starting to be used to teach children in school.

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Why is it important?

There is still so much educational potential in video games yet to be uncovered. Only recently have games started to teach what many consider to be complex skills. Educational games like Minecraft are limited to very young audiences, but now there are games that can even teach complex mathematical skills. If companies can continue to create games that can teach important skills and actively engage people’s interests,  the way that school systems approach education could be revolutionized.

Need more proof? What if there was game that could teach you how to code while having fun? Well there is and it’s called CodeSpells. This is a game where people create a wizard and play in an online virtual world interacting with many other users. The game works by teaching people how to code in Java script to create the spells that their characters cast. This then rewards the user by making them more powerful in the game with the more they learn to code.

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As companies continue to find ways to teach educational skills through video games, public schools and universities will be pressured to use these tools to engage students in ways they interest them. Now that video games are being used in schools, what will be next? Perhaps companies with training programs will begin finding ways to use video games to train new employees.

– Nathan

Buy Buttons Will be Big for Brands

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As you may have or may not have noticed, buy buttons have invaded the Internet. Over the last year, many of the most popular social media companies have found ways to add commercial uses to their social platforms. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have all added buy buttons to their websites and mobile apps. Their hope is that people will begin using their social platforms for purchasing products directly.

A new frontier is emerging, where business is integrated with social media . As a result brands and retailers will need new strategies to reach consumers in this evolving marketplace. For brands that can see the opportunity  and merge their social media platforms with commercial use, buy buttons could be the first step to getting ahead of the competition.

So, why exactly do buy buttons have so much potential? The reason is because of an explosively growing ecommerce. Over the last year, the global ecommerce has increased by over 17 percent, and is intended to skyrocket over the next few years. By 2017, ecommerce is expected to be at over $370 billion per year in revenue; it was only $220 billion in 2014. 

One significant benefit about buy buttons is the vast amount of data provided by them is easily analyzed to determine the buttons effectiveness and give data driven results. This will change the way marketers and advertisers assess the effectiveness of social media marketing. Spreadsheets can finally have dollar amounts in the “ROI” columns.

After more than six months since Pinterest first added buyable pins, reports have started to prove the effectiveness of these buttons. Early success for Pinterest has lead to an expanding number of products with buyable pins. With ecommerce becoming an exceedingly bigger market, brands who can benefit from using buy buttons on social media to sell products would be foolish not to.

So, why should your brand be using buy buttons? Because if you aren’t, you’re missing the opportunity to have your products reach your target audience directly.

– Nathan

My First Blog Post

communications spotlightI’m new to the blogosphere and this is my first attempt to begin blogging. As a senior at the University of Oregon, set to graduate in June, I am eager to share my observations as a communications professional.

It is my intention for this blog to provide insight into the world of communications. By discussing trends and issues in the industry, I hope this blog will help provide an understanding of the ever-changing communications industry.

You might be asking yourself why I named my blog after a medical term for a doctor’s opinion about what is going to happen in the future. The truth is that Hippocrates inspired me with his “Book of Prognostics.”

A doctor’s purpose is to study, diagnosis, and treat a patient’s problem, which is exactly what communications professionals do for their clients. Because of this, I see communications professionals as a type of doctor, whose patients are the businesses and organizations they help. Since I consider myself this type of doctor, and the focus of my blog is on emerging trends, I thought it would be fitting to name my blog Prognosis.

I am interested in everything that relates to the world of communications, but if I had to pick one thing that interests me most regarding it, it would be technology. Specifically, how technological advancements are shaping and altering the communications industry. Every time i see the news it seems like a new technology is is replacing an older one, which is why I am so fascinated by how the communications industry is affected.

 

– Nathan