Monthly Archives: February 2013

80 some odd days ’til it all begins

There really is always sunshine after the rain.

Uber cliché, I’m aware.  I was having a really off week for no apparent reason.  In between all of the things that weren’t working out, there were little flecks of amazingness.  Since the storm has passed, I’m able to absorb the wonderful things that have occurred and be grateful for them.

I reached out to the Digital Media Director of my school to pick her brain.  She’s young, good at what she does, and seems to be enjoying herself. Now, when I say young, I mean she graduated college when I graduated high school.  She’s only a few steps ahead of me, so I just HAD to harass her with questions of how she got to where she is. We met for coffee (we’re both addicts apparently) and had such a great conversation.

To put my life into perspective: I’m graduating college in 80 some odd days and I’m a wee bit overwhelmed by all of the possibilities in front of me.  In this regard, I’m no different from thousands of people approaching this milestone.

But I am different.

I have a lot of different types of skills and interests.  I’m also pretty passionate about communications.  I believe in the power of words, tone, messaging, branding, designing, social media, REAL LIFE social networking etc. I’m in awe of it, really.  People blow my mind every day.  There are too many stories to hear and to tell.  I’m just excited about life and often times, I feel like I’m one of the few who realize just how exciting this really is.

The coffee date was great.  She gave me a ton of advice and some serious affirmation.  I guess I needed the confidence boost from someone who knows me but doesn’t deeply know me.  It’s just different when you hear kind words and praise from people outside of your family (hi mom….and grandma). She also said two things that make SO MUCH SENSE.

1)      This is just not the work environment that your parents worked in.  I’ll be lucky if I’m with a company (that isn’t my own) for more than a decade.  Our generation just doesn’t DO that.  It’s normal and almost forced to have several jobs.

2)      The internet is more miraculous than you realize.  You can do…or connect…with just about anyone.  It’s also a place where you can formulate ideas and sell them.  SELL THEM!  There are so many things I can do that I can sell from my adorable, outdated HP while I find 18 other means of income (at once).

And then, life tapped me on the shoulder at my favorite place around my campus.  I was having lunch with my roommate when we over heard a woman talking to a man about how she “couldn’t believe they graduated from my school seven years ago…”

At that moment, I realized I was looking at my future self.  I shamelessly looked at her, interrupted her conversation and admitted that I was graduating in 80 some odd days and I was freaking out.  I couldn’t imagine what life would be like a year from now, let alone seven.

She told me beautiful things such as: take a break from education, finding what you don’t like is important too, and you can do anything with a little drive.  She proceeded to tell me all that she had been involved in.  Home girl dabbled in a bit of everything, kind of like myself.  She explained that she got bit by the travel bug and never wanted to give it up.  I didn’t get her life story, but I got enough to be completely inspired by who she is.  She was just so damn relateable and driven.  She has since turned her love for traveling and her skills in broadcasting and created her own, online social network of travelers.

Speaking with these two women really inspired me and calmed my anxiety.  I really think I’m going to take the uncharacteristic step after graduation and follow my heart.  This is about to be the best 80 some odd days and I can’t wait.

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Case Study: The Justin Timberlake identity

Everyone loves a good a case study.  As humans, we constantly search for stories or instances that can present different perspectives of decisions.  Children learn from family members on how to dress, how to approach other people, how to be kind etc.  As students, we CRAVE examples to help absorb a lesson.  As professionals (in any field), we look to how our competition reacts in certain scenarios or how they roll out new practices or products.

As a PR major about to step into the working world, I am CONSTANTLY looking at what others are doing around me.  Are people being consistent in their branding?  Are they communicating their story well?  Have people bought into the brand and exactly how loyal are these brand ambassadors? I try to view situations from three lenses; public relations, marketing and advertising.  These three fields are taught separately at my school, but they are so intertwined it is almost impossible to view any scenario without considering the impact on the other fields.

Lately, my attention has been drawn to Justin Timberlake’s comeback into music.  Previously admitted, I am a HUGE Justin Timberlake fan.  I have been enamored by the man for the last 15 years of my life.  My knowledge of him and his career exceeds the knowledge of the average person bopping along to Suit & Tie.  I’m now watching Mr. Timberlake from a more critical perspective.  I can’t say that my opinion of his re-launch isn’t biased, but nonetheless, I feel that people should be paying attention to what he is doing.  After all, how many from his era have made a steady transition into an independent identity and been SO successful?

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Before I delve into what he is doing with this new album, it’s important to know what Justin has been doing in the last ten years.   In 2002 he attempted to shatter his boy-band mold with the release of Justified. Here we see the young 22 year old Justin in his first attempt to figure out where he sits in the realm of music.  He had a lot of help on this album and it had a very Pop/ R&B feel to it.  Songs like “Like I love You” were reminiscent of long-time idol, Michael Jackson.  Timberlake receives help from Timbaland, Pharell Williams, Brian McKnight, and Janet Jackson.  Nothing about the songs really sounded entirely different at the time of their release.  In 2006 Timberlake released FutureSex/LoveSounds, which was an album that had a very different sound from what was already out.  In the four years between the two albums, Justin has clearly matured vocally and personally and this is reflected in the content of the music.  He continues to work with Timbaland and brings other artists onto his album such as T.I. ,Will.I.Am and Three Six Mafia.  However, Timberlake begins to figure out where is identity falls.  There is a definite sex appeal and southern swagger to his entire persona.

In between these albums and tours Justin occupied himself by working with his childhood best friend, Trace Ayala, to create a clothing line and restaurant chain.  Both ventures are heavily influenced by their southern upbringing.  Their restaurant, Southern Hospitality (http://southernhospitalitybbq.com/hk/), is more or a less a shrine to Elvis Presley.  Each restaurant has a fun atmosphere with southern-styled, barbequed, fried, and cheesy eats.  Their clothing line reflects a southern meets chic look.  Denim and leather are the main fabrics you encounter.  Don’t forget, that amidst all of this, Timberlake decided to thread his favorite hobby (golf) into his philanthropic ventures with Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals.  From 2002-2012 Justin was part of 13 movies, appeared on SNL 7 times, created a tequila, held some endorsements (Givenchy, Audi, and Callway golf), developed the first ecologically friendly golf course, hosted a few awards shows, produced a television show, performed here and there, produced or collaborated with artists that include (but are not limited to) Ciara, Esmee Denters, Matthew Morris, Free Sol,  Duran Duran, T.I., Leona Lewis, etc. Oh, and he bought MySpace.

And yet you all thought he was JUST acting during this 7 year “musical hiatus”.

Regardless of what he was doing, there are some key things to pay attention to in ALL OF HIS VENTURES.  His southern roots appear in almost every single thing he does.  For example: the tequila he created and launched, 901 Silver (http://www.901.com/), uses 901 because that was his area code when he lived in Tennessee.  901 is readily available at his restaurants to which their mantra is “Its 9:01 somewhere”.  In case you’re wondering, I happened to enjoy an amazing performance when he celebrated 901 Silver on September 1st, 2011 at Southern Hospitality (Hell’s Kitchen location).  JT sang one song (What goes around comes back around) but played with the rap/rock band FreeSol.  FreeSol is signed to his record label, Tennman Records/Interscope Records.

Justin Timberlake performing with FreeSol at Southern Hospitality 09/01/2011

Clearly losing my mind over seeing Justin Perform for the first time in 4 years.

Clearly losing my mind over seeing Justin Perform for the first time in 4 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is “9:01” ringing a bell with anyone?  To those of who have been keeping up with (at least) his comeback, 901 should resonate.  He released Suite & Tie digitally at 9:01 am, Pacific Time.  Coincidence? Absolutely not.  I am convinced that his Grammy performance was scheduled to take place at 9:01 p.m. Eastern Time but fun.’s acceptance speech ran overboard resulting in the performance start time of about 9:06 pm.  He has also been insanely consistent in branding the identity of The 20/20 Experience.   In an interview with GRAMMY (http://www.grammy.com/news/justin-timberlake-opens-up) , he explains that there is a character he is living out for this album, hense the Tom Ford tuxedo image.  This character is part of the current branding of JT right now.  He hasn’t really been spotted without a suit and tie on, his social mediums have gone through revamping also (Facebook and Twitter profile changes with each new announcement) and the creation of his Instagram account.  By the way, the sepia-tone filter during his Grammy performance was entirely intentional.  Feb 10th is when JT signed onto Instagram and every photo since has been in a grey scale toned filter.

Photo credit: Justin Timberlake's Instagram

Photo credit: Justin Timberlake’s Instagram

He has also created and maintained A LOT of buzz for his re-launch back into music.  Not only has he done this, but it has a very personal feel to it.  He has several hand-written letters on his website speaking directly to his fans.  He also launched a video explaining his “hiatus” from music and why he chose to step back into it now.  And you can’t forget about the personally written track list of the album. His Instagram pictures, although obviously professionally taken vs. cell phone pix, give us a small look into his life as he re-enters the stage.  These updates come periodically and have his fans at the edge of their seats—or smart phones considering all of his announcements are via social media. (HINT: PR/social media specialists should be PAYING ATTENTION).

Also, I find it interesting that he has been releasing music digitally.  As I previously mentioned in an earlier post, Justin has advocated for many years against pirating music.  I also think it is interesting that the album is being sold exclusively through iTunes and Target.  This is a very interesting business move on his part.  Speaking of business moves, he’s recently the creative director for Budlight Platinum.

Keep your eyes on this rollout and take notes.  We have A LOT to learn from Mr. Timberlake.

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Big Girl Plans

Hello all–hope you had an enjoyable three-day weekend.  Technically speaking the third day hasn’t ended yet, but nonetheless.  I did something a bit uncharacteristic this weekend; I went home.  While home, I finally had the space and silence to THINK.

I most definitely want to go to grad school but I am most definitely not prepared.  I need a small break from formal education. I want to work and be a big girl. Mainly, I want to make connections and live in the moment.  I believe that will fuel a lot of inspiration and considering I want to go to art school, I’m going to need A LOT of inspiration.

With that being said, I took some big girl steps towards my future.  I purchased the newest version of the Adobe programs I want.  I shot some photos and I stayed away from my phone and the computer (aside from downloading the programs). I re-centered myself in my sanctuary and hung out with my cat.  I realized that I need to stop planning, wondering, dreaming, and preparing. This is the moment I need to start doing. I cracked open the textbook that my teacher gave me and found some Photoshop tutorials and began working.

I have NEVER used Photoshop in my life.  I find it to be a wildly intimidating program.  I’ve come to realize that Photoshop is kind of a baby fear of mine and it’s time to bite the bullet brush tool and begin. I found a few tutorials, decided which would be the easiest, and go. Not easy at all.  According to the tutorial I failed.  The outcome wasn’t what it should be but I am stopping at this point.  For the first attempt, it isn’t entirely off.  I can’t figure out how to bring it where it needs to be, but nonetheless, it’s close. I just wish I had a physical teacher, but I guess this experience is meant to be teacherless.  Sometimes in life, one must be their own professor.

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This is the first attempt.  Adding my name was my own improvisation.  I got a little frustrated with what I was doing and moved over into the typography toolbar of Photoshop.  By no means is that a reflection of my typography skills.  I was just playing with the tools. This is the tutorial I used: http://abduzeedo.com/awesome-digital-bokeh-effect-photoshop  You can see what I was aiming for and what I missed terribly.

Another part of my soul-searching epiphany today was to begin actively planning my second blog.  My good friend and I (another PR major) came up with this pet-project to do after college during the job hunt. We keep talking about it but that all its been; conversation.  Today I decided its time to form a strategy for the blog. What our first few posts will be, how we’ll be writing it, the look of it, etc.  Stay tuned for the launch of that blog!

Until next time,
Miss Enlund ;]

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Taking a step back

Picture it: Manhattan, 2013, crowded bar and you’re surrounded at a table with all of your friends. (I’m hoping readers picked up on the Golden Girls intro reference…)

Any who, you’re at a table and conversation is flowing along with drinks and laughter.  In that moment, you straighten your back up against the wall and look out beyond your circle.  You begin to notice the groupings of people around your circle.  You also take note of how these groups are inter-mingling [I find people watching  creeping to be so intriguing]. There is so much to be said about human nature and behavior.  But alas, after paying close attention to others and how the social scene flows I get really FREAKING aggravated.

Here’s why: From my perspective, I know each of the people in my circle.  I know what makes them laugh and I know why they’ve cried so hard the week before.  I’m sure that occurs in the other circles as well..for both men and women.  Why do I get aggravated? Because in my circle, I’m surrounded by beautiful women who work hard, invest their time in people other than themselves, who are quirky, kinda awkward, and don’t see their own beauty.  But where are the men headed? To the circle of GIRLS (barely women from my outside perspective) who’s conversational topics range from vodka to their favorite house music.

Now–by no means do I assume that any one who is frequenting a bar on Wednesday night is searching for the love of their life.  But why not approach the person you’re interested in who is your equal? Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, these kinds of people are pretty equivalent. I guess I’m ranting about the guy, and or girl, that I have a measurable amount of respect for or thought they wanted more than the cheap trick.

My friend made quite the point that evening; “The problem is that we’re respectable. We work hard, we’re dependable, and we’re funny. But just because I’m dependable doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be taken home and fucked sideways also!”

Well, alrighty then. Nothing like the blunt and honest truth.  But, homegirl has a point. I just can’t reason it out and it frustrates me.  I just don’t understand why shitty people can’t flock to other shitty people and eventually die out.  I believe it should be survival of the…most awkward [awkward people rule]. I blame these thoughts on my love of creeping mixed with my gender roles and stereotypes course.  My mind is on over drive and I am observing all that is around me. Its also irritating because I’m annoyed with myself and my friends (guys too) whining over why we all aren’t good enough.  Good enough for whom? Sir douchebag at the bar claiming that “others” find him conceited because he so happens to be on a poster that’s plastered all over the school in which you don’t go to, therefore you would have absolutely no idea that said poster doesn’t even exist….ahh.

Salud to those of us who see through the bullshit fronts of those around us. Find your diamond-in-the-rough friends and hold on to them.  Genuine souls are hard to come by and should be showered in love and laughter.

 

Until next time,
Miss Enlund ;]

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