“Blogging is Not a Crime”

Blog topics bubbled up for me all this week. There were great news stories, connections I saw between lessons in my journalism and public relations classes, and excitement about my students’ work.

But at the last minute those ideas evaporated, with good reason.

To date, I’ve used only pictures of actual typewriters. But this really fit this post’s message. (Courtesy of Eddie Codel via Flickr Creative Commons)

This afternoon I learned about nine Ethiopian bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders who were arrested by the Ethiopian government for their pro-democracy writings. The Zone 9 bloggers, as they are called, are the friends of Endalk Chala, a Ph.D. student at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, where I work. Chala, who I have not met, is an Ethiopian blogger and co-founder of the Zone 9 blog.

To help release his friends, Chala is asking people to post pictures of themselves holding signs with “Blogging is not a crime” to a Tumblr site.

Hearing this got me thinking about my students and the blogging work they’re doing this term in my Strategic PR Communication class. Each blogs twice a week on a personally chosen PR-related theme. Unlike last term, where some students had overtly political themes or often wrote about politicians through the lens of crisis communications or image management, this term no one is ostensibly political.

But whether they’re blogging about public relations as it relates to cinema in Oregon, craft beer, global public health, fashion, nutrition, sports, tourism and travel, cooking, social media or music, each student is taking a stance – and is free to do so. Not everyone will agree with everything they write, but my students don’t fear imprisonment because of it.

For them, blogging is a way to develop their personal brands and public relations expertise. Luckily, for them that’s not a crime.

And with that inspiration in mind, here’s some insPiRation to keep on blogging.

Food/nutrition & public health & PR/marketing…
Stealth Vegetables (The New York Times)
What do you think about efforts by food producers, processed food manufacturers and grocers to entice people to eat more vegetables and improve Americans’ health? Are Veggie Blend-ins – check out the video – healthy food or processed junk? What marketing or PR is effective in getting people to  adopt healthy habits?

Sports & social media…
‘We Are All Monkeys’ (BBC News)
An uplifting story about ugly fan behavior in soccer. Comment on this hashtag activism against racism in sports. What do you think of athletes taking stances on social issues via social media? Does it help or hurt their brands?

Fashion & social media…
The Cut’s 50 Fashion Social Media Voices to Follow (New York Magazine)
Which ones caught your eye – or made you follow? Any commonalities in what works among them?

Craft beer & tourism…
A Craft-Beer Pub Crawl in the ‘Kitchen of Japan’ (The New York Times)
Can craft beer marketers take a page from wineries and promote themselves through tourism?

AP Style…
AP Insists That You Remember All Four S’s in Mississippi (PRNewser)
Come on, you know you want to choose this one. A tongue-in-cheek article about AP Style changes effective May 1. Freeing? Frustrating? Frightening?

Fashion… food… Portland…digital overload…
Better Homes and Hipsters: Kinfolk Magazine, the Martha Stewart Living of the Portland Set (The New York Times)
In our frenetic, digital world, why do you think this magazine has struck a chord?

Cinema & branding….
How The Sony-Mattel Barbie Movie Could Re-Energize the Brand (Forbes)
What do you think: Will the Barbie movie help or hurt the brand? How should Sony-Mattel approach the script?

A Slightly Grouchy Guide for New Grads and Other Millennials (CNN Money)
Good advice or not? Note: writing skills help you advance.

Marketing… social media…branding… demographics…
Millennials, The Biggest Generation of Customers Ever, Don’t Care About the Internet (Forbes)
What are the implications for companies and brands?

Cinema companies… tourism….
Owners to Invest $800 Million More in Shanghai Disney (The New York Times)
What do you think of Disney’s bet on “China’s shifting approach to westernized entertainment and leisure travel”? What are the other tourism PR implications for the projection that the Chinese travel market will grow 35 percent between 2012 and 2015?

Music & technology…
Sprint and Spotify Plan to Partner Up (Re/code)
Thoughts on this latest plan to connect cell phone users to streaming music services?

Social media & local government….
A Young Mayor Who Likes to Share His View From the Top (The New York Times)
Is the LA mayor’s unusual use of Instagram a good way to reach Millennials and increase public engagement in local government/politics?

Sports… advertising… social media…
Billionaire Bigots’ Social Media Suicide (The Huffington Post)
Extremely interesting analysis of how social media changed the public relations issues in the recent controversies involving Los Angelese Clippers owner Donald Sterling and RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal. What’s your take?

Tourism & branding…
Welcome to the Haiyatt. In China, It’s not the Hotel It Sounds Like.  (The New York Times)
What do you think about the expanding hotel business in China using western-sounding names as a branding technique? Is it a good marketing strategy or likely to anger customers – and does that depend on the customers’ nationalities? How might cultural ideas about originality vs. reproduction apply in the practice of public relations?

Music & public relations…
Mariah Carey Changed Her Mind About Doing a ‘Beyonce Surprise” (PR Newser)
Whether your like Mariah Carey’s music or not, what do you think of this analysis of the PR for her upcoming album?

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