A night out at the German Bar

Let me tell you, being a postgrad is not all fun and games.  But, when times get stressful, my friends and I are learning that we need to step away from the computers, close the books, and have a little fun.  On Thursdays, we have lecture from 2:00pm – 6:00pm.  This, my friends, is a very long time to try and pay attention to one lecturer.

Usually after this lecture we head to The Stag’s Head, our campus pub, for pizza, beer, and table football (foosball).  Last Thursday, we decided to branch out and head to the city centre.

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With the holidays approaching, Southampton is slowly changing into a winter wonderland.  At the city centre, the food stalls have been converted into Bavarian-themed huts and they’ve placed a German Bar smack dab in the middle of everything.  With our brains feeling like mush after class, we decided to check it out.

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Now, for a German Bar, in England, we expected some of the workers to be, well, German.  Low and behold, they were English.  But, the beer was cold, the mulled wine was hot, and the sausages were delicious!

IMG_2359IMG_2363With reports, essays and presentations looming over our heads, it’s hard to take a few minutes, or hours, for ourselves.  But, thanks to the holiday spirit, we took a timeout from university life and had a memorable evening.

DM Group at German Bar

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Creative DigiFest

Yesterday I attended the Creative DigiFest at the De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton, England.  The morning consisted of business pitches given to a panel of 5 “Dragons”.  There were some very innovative ideas and the video gives snippets from each pitch.

As a DigiChamp, I took videos and tweeted throughout the event.  Check-out my Twtitter profile, @AmandaBobel, to see more tweets and pictures from the event or click here: https://twitter.com/AmandaBobel.  Make sure to start following me so we can explore and experience the digital marketing world together!

 

Crafting is the Best Medicine for Stress Relief

Homesickness.  If you’ve ever lived away from home, you know exactly what this is.  If you haven’t, it isn’t fun.  I knew there would be a day that I’d start to miss home but it’s not something you mark on the calendar and prepare for in advance.  It hits you when you’re most vulnerable.  For me, that day was Monday.  Middle of the semester, one course ending, another course starting, due dates looming over my head…the elements of a perfect storm.  Alas, meltdown.  Thanks Mom and Dad for answering my Skype call so late at night!

I needed something to get my mind off school for an afternoon so my friends Liv, Foteini, and I decided we needed a little craft therapy.  And, what perfect timing, as the holidays are quickly approaching.

On Wednesday we set out to some craft shops, the pound store, and the 99P store for some affordable materials and headed to Liv’s house.  Prior to our arrival, Liv put out Christmas candies and had her iPad ready with festive music.  We listened to Christmas tunes in English, Swedish, Faroese, Danish, and maybe a few others, I can’t be quite certain.   She even made us a delicious, homemade dinner to end the evening.  Best hostess ever!  Many thanks to the Justinussen home for your hospitality.

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In the end, we only finished a few crafts but had some much needed girl talk.  One of the crafts we made were snowflakes out of popsicle sticks which you can find here: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/9c/31/56/9c31568348fd88258e439f6362f73963.jpg.  We also made yarn bowls – http://www.saifou.com/entry/20670.html -, but they were still drying when we left so I’m really hoping they turned out.

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We’ll just have to see next Wednesday night when we have Crafting Night Part 2.

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The University of Southampton’s Web Science Institute

Yesterday, The University of Southampton launched the Web Science Institute.  With only one other WSI in England, this is a very exciting time for the University and Web Science programme.   The Institute will study the web and the impacts it has on economics, politics, technology, and society.

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(An introduction from Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam)

In an interview with BBC News, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, one of the WSI founders, said, “There is a ‘perfect storm’ brewing which combines open data, open education and open research, so this is a very exciting time to be launching the Web Science Institute.”  For the full article, check out: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-24898583

In addition to the WSI launch, the University’s first MOOC went live yesterday.  This Massive Open Online Course focuses on the origins and evolution of the web.  As of yesterday, thousands have signed up for the course from all over the world.  For more information on the Web Science MOOC, and future University of Southampton MOOCs, visit the Future Learn website: https://www.futurelearn.com/partners/university-of-southampton.

IMG_2230(Dr. Lisa Harris speaking about the Digital Economy)

Fellow DigiChamp Merel van Dijke and I were invited to the launch to conduct interviews with key members of the WSI as well as other University of Southampton Web Science staff members.  Working with Simon Morice and David Willox, we set-up video equipment, took pictures, and were prepped with questions.  When it came time to conduct the interviews, I was a bit intimidated.  Here I was, an international MSc student, ready to interview some of the most influential people in the Web Science world.

But, once we started rolling, my nerves settled and I started to enjoy the experience. Some of the people we interviewed were:

  • Vice–Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam
  • Professor, Dame Wendy Hall
  • Professor, Sir Nigel Shadbolt

They were all very nice and extremely knowledgeable, making for smooth, informative interviews.

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(Interviewing Professor, Sir Nigel Shadbolt)

With the world of Web Science evolving right before our eyes, this event has made me extremely excited and curious about the knowledge and technologies that will come about in the approaching years.

Preparing for the Future

When I graduated from Arizona State University, I went to work for Moses.  Though we had Ten Commandments, they unfortunately weren’t written on stone tablets.  Moses Anshell is an Arizona based advertising agency with a national reputation for remarkable work that you can check out at www.mosesanshell.com.

Halloween 2012I was fortunate to be hired on as a Junior Media Buyer/Planner after only a few short weeks as a Media/Strategy intern. The thing I loved most about working at Moses was how close the team was. I feel I was given more opportunities there than I would have been at a larger agency. Did I know exactly what I was doing during the first few months?  No.  But, I was fortunate to have the support and guidance from some amazing Seniors/Directors/VPs to help make sure I was successful.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a LONG way to go when it comes to learning about media planning and buying.  However, I am confident that the skills I learned at Moses will benefit me in my future and I am eternally grateful to all the people that have helped me so far.

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With two years of work experience under my belt and (fingers crossed!) a MSc Digital Marketing degree from the University of Southampton, how do I go about finding a job?  What tools are out there to better prepare me for the job market?  After speaking with Neil’s Recruitment (http://www.neilsrecruitment.co.uk/), I’ve learned some key ways on how to make myself stand out from the crowd and prepare for a future in digital marketing.

One of the most essential recruitment tools today is LinkedIn.  This site allows members to create a personal profile highlighting your work experience, educational background, and current skills.  LinkedIn also lets you interact with past employers and co-workers as well as connect with new and potential companies.  Many companies post job listings on LinkedIn thereby making it easy to search for relevant positions.  In my quest for a job after graduation, I need to start using LinkedIn to its fullest potential.  There are many groups specifically for digital media/marketing that I must interact with.  This will benefit me when I am close to graduation and seeking a full-time position.

Blogging is an extremely important tool for marketers. With my personal blog, I am able to create my own digital footprint and give readers an insightful look into my personal, academic, and professional life.  But personal blogging is only the half of it.  Reading and interacting with others through blogs can help foster relationships that would not have been otherwise possible.

Connecting and interacting with companies on LinkedIn and continuing to blog are two activities I plan to use to prepare myself for a digital marketing career.  However I am not limiting myself to these two activities.  There are numerous opportunities out there that I cannot wait to explore and take advantage of that will help with my success.

Forming Friendships

During my master’s programme, I have the opportunity to work on a variety of group projects with people from all over the world.  One of these groups is for my Communications and Media Management course.  Let me introduce you to my group members!

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First on the far left is Sunnie. She is from China and plays the Guzheng, which is a Chinese plucked zither.  Next is Natalie who is from Hong Kong.  Natalie likes to play tennis and basketball and is currently studying the art of Kung Fu.  Bonnie is on the far right and is from Taiwan.  She is a member of the University of Southampton Table Tennis Team.  

These are the three lovely ladies who I work with on a variety of in-class and out-of-class projects.  But, we don’t just work on our course work when we’re together.  We’re girls, plain and simple.  Though we come from different backgrounds and countries, we still talk about shoes and boys and everything else in between.  They’re introducing me to Chinese food restaurants and Oolong Tea and I’m helping them with their English (hopefully!).

Though we were put together to work on course projects, we’ve formed a friendship that I  hope last for a long, long time!

The Importance of Social Networks

In our Marketing in the 21st Century course, we were asked to use our social networks and post messages encouraging our followers to check out the MOOC.  What’s that?  A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course.  The University of Southampton’s first MOOC focuses on, “Web Science: How the Web is Changing the World” (Future Learn, 2013).  For more information of the MOOC, click here (sotonscomms, 2013):


 After posting, we were then asked to record the reactions we received from our social networks.  Now, having 974 Facebook friends and 143 Twitter followers, I thought it would be easy to get people to like/share/favourite/retweet the link.

Low and behold, it wasn’t.  Two of the four Facebook likes I received were from coursemates, while the other two were from one of my housemate and my aunt in Arizona.  I had a little more luck on Twitter – one retweet from a coursemate, two retweets from a fellow DigiChamp, and one retweet from someone outside my network, @LeanneF.  But, these still weren’t the results I had hoped for.

This assignment made me wonder how companies today are beginning to combine their traditional marketing goals with their social networks to market their products and services. Or, if they aren’t using their social networks, will they ever?  From my experience, there are still companies out there who have separate marketing/advertising budgets for their traditional and digital media components.  Yes, traditional media will always be important, but it’s the integration of traditional media, digital media, and social networks that’s key to a successful campaign. The companies that HAVE integrated their social networks into their marketing plans are changing the marketing world as we know it.

One of those companies is the American coffee and donut chain, Dunkin Donuts.  Their newest campaign took real customer’s tweets with the hashtag #MyDunkin and created a campaign around them.  Instead of collecting research to create commercials, they used the actual experiences, which helps customers feel a greater connection to the brand.  Click here to hear about Meg’s #MyDunkin experience (dunkindonuts, 2013):

By using their social network, Dunkin Donuts engaged their current customers to potentially talk about and share the video with potential customers.  Yes, they’ve paid to make the commercial and for the airtime, but word of mouth marketing and video sharing is, for all intended purposes, priceless.  DunkinDonuts not only helps their customers feel part of the brand, but they also receive free advertising.

DunkinDonuts is just one of many companies who have integrated their social network into their marketing plan.  In the coming years, we’ll see more and more companies do the same as social networks, and whatever the next new digital tool is, become even more important to a brand’s survival.