That’s Not So Vogue

April 27, 2008 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This will be my tenth post and my last required post for my PR Online class. Blogging has been a great learning tool, and I really hope to jump back into it–if not on this blog then on another. But for now, how about Teen Vogue?

Starting Monday, the Teen Vogue fitness messageboard will be removed from the magazine’s site. The decision was made when the editors saw “the alarming number of posts regarding eating disorders over the past few months.”

Rachel Richardson (The F-Word) called the site a “psueudo pro-ana.” Richardson’s definition of a pro-ana/mia:

“These sites promote eating disorders as a ‘lifestyle choice,’ not diseases, and do not encourage recovery from these conditions.”

The issue of pro-ana/mia sites has been floating around the news(particularly in France)and blogoshpere for a while.  Richardson and Jezebel criticized Teen Vogue last fall for its similarity to the weight-obsessed pro-ana/mia sites.

From a PR standpoint:

Good call ending this. This type of community could damage the image of the publication. But just pulling it is not enough. Vogue is sweeping the problem under the rug. These girls need help.

“I also love the feeling of hunger. I feel so clean and light and empty.”

See what I mean?

After Vogue announced it was shutting down the forum, one of the users, Chloe9, commented:

“perhaps the next step is to reform your magazine, which is CAUSING all this body anxiety…teenvogue doesn’t want to be held accountable for the state of the fitness forum, but removing it isn’t the best solution.  this is a magazine geare toward teens, and their mission should be to HELP them.  not pretend eating disorders don’t exist so as to shirk all responsibility.”

Well said, Chloe9.

Perhaps an image overhaul is needed at Teen Vogue. Obviously its audience is interested in the subject, and theses young girls need somewhere to turn to with professional advice on living healthy.

I see Vogue as the premier publication for high-fashion and beauty, not a health and fitness publication. But with the controversey surrounding super-skinny supermodels, a fitness push would set this magazine above the rest on a whole new level.


For the First Time Since Happy Meals—I’m Lovin’ It

April 6, 2008 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Famous for its milkshakes, cheeseburgers and super-sized fries, McDonald’s has taken the next step toward changing its image. This time around, the restaurant is doing a little more than throwing some fried chicken on top of a bed of lettuce and calling it a salad.


 It’s newest efforts manifest themselves in a yearlong food-credibility campaign.


The campaign will battle misperceptions about the quality of McDonald’s food. So how will McDonald’s get its word out? It’ll spread the word using the PR professional’s newest favorite tool, Web 2.0. Read more about it in a recent Ad Age article.

“We wanted to have an open dialogue instead of broadcasting a message like advertising in the [fast-food industry]. We wanted to take a different approach,” said Jaime Guerrero, account manager at Tribal DDB.


(Finally – people are beginning to think more like Al Ries).


I spent some time exploring the “Food, Nutrition and Fitness” section of McDonald’s Web site—and I have to admit, McDonald’s is winning this girl over.


The site encourages viewers to:


  • “See what we’re made of,” offering Q&A on everything you could want to know about every product, right down to what kind of seasoning is in the sausage.
  • Seek tips from three Wellness Experts
  • Learn from Moms’ Quality Correspondents in a microsite that features moms who will have “unprecedented access to the McDonald’s system to see how McDonald’s serves millions of customers quality food every dayross the country.” Other moms can join a community or ask questions.


The “From Farm to Restaurant,” “Meet our Suppliers” and “Meet the Crew” areas are coming soon, the site reports.


The new McDonald’s mind-set may be a big step in dismantling its reputation of the villainous fast-food joint that uses the horse meat in its burgers and pumps Americans full of grease.


It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Burger King and Wendy’s to

discover that broadcasting bacon and extra cheese might not be the key to selling more burgers.

Put Out Your Cigarette and Register to Be an Organ Donor!

March 31, 2008 at 5:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The Donate Life Ohio Do It Now campaign at Kent State has been my life this semester. One of our upcoming tactics is a flash mob. A flash mob is simply a group of people freezing in place for five minutes. Our team, comprised of seven PR students, is using the opportunity to spread the word about our cause (which I’ll describe a bit later). At our last meeting, we compared our guerilla tactic with the Truth campaign–a campaign we all agreed has done a phenomenal job reaching its audience.

Tr48x48_sunnydark.gifuth, a campaign to discourage teen smoking, was launched in 2000 by the American Legacy Foundation.  Several things set this campaign apart from the “smoking is bad” speeches and pamplets we’ve received all our lives. The Truth Campaign presents it’s audience with puzzling ads, commericals and guerilla tactics. And they’re making a difference.

According to research recorded in the American Journal of Public Health, in 2002, there were 300,000 fewer young smokers because of the Truth Tour. My generation, as young adolescents at the campaign’s launch, has had full exposure to this campaign, and we see the results first-hand. I can count friends and family that smoke on one hand–that’s pretty good if you ask me.

Some of the campaign’s recent tactics, despite a shrinking budget, included:

  • In Aug. 2007, teaming up with the Warped Tour in Pittsburgh
  • In 2008, launching of the “Sunny Side of Truth,” including the much talked about “Magical Amount” commercial. It’s all sarcastic digs at tobacco companies. Watch it, you’ll laugh.

The guerilla tactics filmed in many of Truth’s commercials is exactly what we want to accomplish in our flash mob. We want to grab attention and provide information at the same time.

Okay–so our objectives are rather opposite. Truth wants to decrease smoking in youth across the country. Donate Life Ohio wants to increase the amount of registered organ donors in Ohio. But we’ve got the same idea.

do-it-now.jpgSo here’s a little bit about the Do It Now competition.

Kent State is in a statewide competition against 13 other schools. The challenge is to register 400,000 donors across the state (Kent State’s goal is 14,571 in three counties). We’ve been holding drives across campus all year to get people to sign up, and we’ve caught on that we have to do more than sit at a table and wait for people to ask us about organ donation.

We need to draw attention to the cause easily and effectively –oh yea, without blowing our budget. We’re mocking Truth’s tactics to do that. We want to make people curious. The curiousity, we hope, will result in people asking questions about what we’re about. This video will give you a better feel for what a flash mob is.

Unlike the Truth campaign, the Do It Now campaign has the obstacle of driving to people a Web-site or getting them to fill out some paper work after the event.

We’re hoping that that Facebook, our tool for recruiting flash-mobbers, will help drive people to our Web-site. On Facebook alone, 45 freezers have confirmed participation in the the mob. Aside from Facebook, we’re getting people on-board by stopping in classrooms and working with student organizations. I think there’s quite a bit of buzz about it. Read what Rob Jewell, a PR professor at Kent State, had to say about the campaign.

Buzz is good, but the real success is measured by how many people we register by May 14.

So wish us luck, and if you have 5 minutes to spare, show up at Risman Plaza at 2:15 p.m. this Wednesday.

College Programming…Sans Pizza

February 24, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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One thing changes on Kent State’s campus the weeks before spring break—and it’s not the air temperature.  With spring break on the horizon, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center turns from looking like an abandoned warehouse to looking like a shopping mall in December. SRWC

Kent State has a great facility, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, for students and faculty to do whatever they need to do to keep their minds and bodies in good condition. 

By mid-February, when the New-Year’s resolution-ers give up, the spring break-ers flock in. To help the February-fitness-fiends meet their goals, the rec offers an incentive program, called Destination Spring Break.  

The program involves students logging hours to earn points. The points convert into “miles” and students try to make it to their chosen spring break locations (with a time limitation of 90 minutes). It also offers weekly classes held for bonus miles. Patrons who attend the bonus classes get double points for their minutes. Those who reach their destination will receive a T-shirt, and those finishing in the top four receive a prize bag with vacation necessities.  

It is so refreshing to see a program on a college campus rewarding students for being healthy; not feeding them pizza and wings for participating in another lame program (sorry RAs).

If the rec really wanted to beef up participation in this program, perhaps they beef up the incentive. A free spring break trip would be affective but seems unrealistic. Yes, I know about a little thing called a budget, but the rec could cut some of its less popular programs to make this one more appealing. If the prizes were large and highly publicized, a lot of people would participate. The bonus classes, which count as double points for participants and cost money, could help fund the prize.

I’m not trying to investigate where the rec’s money goes–or to say that the rec is doing a bad job.

This program has a lot of potential to get people hooked on this healthy thing. Rewarding participants for a few weeks of hard work  might SUNhelp them realize the benefits of sticking to a healthy lifestyle after the spring break sunburn fades.

Kent State should consider year-round incentives for those who commit to working out. Like many companies that offer incentives for improving health and wellness, colleges and universities too can create the same healthy culture, by offering year round incentive programs for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Heck, Kent State makes a point to show off its state-of-the-art facilitity to every student touring the campus, imagine what the creation of a successful healthy culture can do for its reputation. With a little research I didn’t find a school labeled “Most Healthy.” Wouldn’t it be nice to no longer be known as “the school where four kids were shot” and be known for “Most Healthy University?”

As for now, as it goes every year, once spring break becomes a memory not a destination, visits to the rec will be something of the past as well.

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