Friday, January 9, 2015

Appalachian State online advertising degree cracks top 10 in nation for value, quality

I'm proud to announce our distance education online advertising degree is gaining steam. We just broke the top 10 in a new ranking profile from the Affordable Colleges Foundation.
ACF recently analyzed data from hundreds of colleges with online communications programs, analyzing which schools offer the best combination of online program quality, affordability and student support.
Appalachian State University earned a ranking of #9 for Top Online Communications Degrees for 2015. Check out the report at the link below:
The ranking profile included variables that measured cost and quality through student/faculty ratio, graduation rates, and job placement for graduates. The study also applied Peer-Based Value, a proprietary metric that compares quality metrics of colleges with similar costs, and the costs of colleges with similar quality metrics. Schools that were ranked must be not-for-profit institutions.
We have been working hard to transition what was a seated, satellite program into a vibrant, 100% asynchronous experience. It's rewarding to see that the Affordable Colleges Foundation has noted the value and ROI that's available through Appalachian State.

Monday, January 5, 2015

"Git R Done" with Larry the Cable Guy fitness plan

I've been doing my morning runs while catching up on the new podcast series by comedian Pauly Shore (aka The Weasel):

There's a two-parter where Shore interviews Scott Thompson (aka Carrot Top) with co-host Dan Whitney (aka Larry the Cable Guy). The double episode is a great ride and if you love the back stories on icon comedy stars, this is for you.

I consider podcasts learning opportunities. That's why I value them over music. So here's today's lesson. If you want to "Get 'er Done" and dump the pounds in 2015, here's what Larry the Cable Guy is engaging for his "weight dropping" fitness plan:

Five days per week

45 minute weights

300 repetitions jump rope then 100 hits on the punching bag (repeat this set 3 times)

30 minutes treadmill

30 minutes cardio glide machine

Sixth day treadmill and cardio glide only

Drink one gallon of water per day

Cut sugar and bread

There's a bunch more on Dan and how he rolls, as well as Scott and his current act in Vegas. Enjoy.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Break morning habits to supercharge your weight loss war

I really don't like New Year's resolutions. To me, it reminds all of us "we've been bad" and now we must correct for our transgressions and recover.

Let's try something different. Stop looking back - at what was - and motivate by looking forward. For example, I'm entered in the Umstead 100 mile run at the end of March, so I better get my hind end in gear to get ready.

The big piece in my book "Mind Over Diet" is about self-negotiation. You have to get past being told what to do, and instead develop your own plan based on reasoning and motivation through self study and reflection. For me, that's about stirring the pot and breaking down daily habits.

Think about how you start your day. Some habits may be good, or bad, but they do set your mind and body for the next 24 hours. A juxtaposition of events serve as a reminder that things are going to be different and will track in a different direction.

I'd suggest you unpack your own morning habits, but here's my outline for 2015:

1) For over 40 years, I drank black coffee. Then for some reason, in 2014 I got hooked on store brand, powdered coffee creamer. Look at the label and you'll see sugar and chemicals. That's an instant trigger point (see more about this in Mind Over Diet). I'm going to break that down and go back to strong, black, dark bean brew.

2) My mornings start at 5:30 am. I like a slow intro to the day, then to the gym at 7 am. Most of my 90 minute interlude is spent goofing on social media. It's fun, but it's a habit. I'm breaking that down into something more radical. Think I'll trip through the one year chronological bible; that means 3-4 chapters each morning. And to really twist it, I'm going to do this reading my practicing on my guitar. How's that for a wake up event each day? Once again, radical change that reminds me things are going to be different going forward.

3) Here's the one I haven't yet been able to harness. I want to stop using fake chemical sugar substitute in my tea. I love Yerba Matte with Dextrose, Maltodextrine and Sucralose stirred in. Sounds yummy, doesn't it? Research indicates fake sweeteners trigger our brains just like sugar, and they make also screw up our good gut bacteria. All logical reasons to stop, but I love my fake sugar addiction. Just saying, should do it but may hang onto this zero calorie spiff.

So there you have it. Start with the beginning of your day and rattle things up. Build from there. This isn't a perfect journey, it's a war. Pick your battles carefully.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Online education is a world of second chances

I'm working diligently to develop and constantly improve our online advertising communication degree at Appalachian State University.
Distance ed students aren't better or worse than seated students, but they are different. Many did not complete their 4-year degree at an earlier time and are now circling back for a second chance.
As educators, we have to do everything possible to create a success environment for these hard working individuals. It's important to build compassion into the process. Many of my online students are working night shifts, managing families, or recovering from issues or events that have residual consequences.
It's not an easy journey. I stay aware of that at all times. It's our job to present rigorous learning opportunity, but also to coach and encourage as needed.
To me, that's the essence of an online educator.

NASCAR fights are bad for sport

I finished watching the NASCAR race at Texas. The race was over and driver interviews were about to commence. But before we could get to the canned comments, a fight broke out.
This melee was a bit more aggressive than most. One driver confronted another over driving tactics. Then a third driver pushed on of those drivers into the other, which started a chain reaction fisticuffs. What was interesting is that first drivers, then crew members related to those two drivers, and then even individuals with unrelated sponsor ID's dropped a few hay-makers. Good grief, the female doing ESPN commentary almost got hit.
The driver who instigated the fight represents a charitable organization. He was sure to get his logo- embroidered cap on during the post fight interview. When a potential donor is making a gift decision, does hand to hand combat create a positive affect? The other driver reps a beer company. He was the non-aggressor who stated he was at the track to race, not fight. Passivity and a 12 pack? Maybe that's the better route.
I have some fresh survey data (N = 495) on NASCAR fans and it's evident fights and car wrecks hold a strong correlation. But among the sport, and its sponsors, I'd suggest that fights are playing to the current audience...and that audience is getting diminished by the season. One only has to check out the camera shots from this past weekend's event to note the shocking array of empty seats. Pretty much the entire back stretch, and a good portion of the turn four stands, were empty.
So if it's not working, how do you fix it? I don't think fights propagate the new audience desired. NASCAR's "Boys, have at it" mantra doesn't show well for the interests and motivators of future fans.
Sure, I know that fights on Sunday = TV ratings increase on Monday. But that's short term success. I'd like to spend time and learn more about millennial consumers and how to attract them to a man (and select women) and machines. We're no longer the mechanized society we used to be, as least as it relates to hands-on hot rods and the desire for speed.
Maybe a punch in the mouth isn't what's best. Maybe those empty stands aren't about the driver I saw on TV with a bloody lip. More analysis is needed to attract what has become a marginally engaged, low consumption "fan" who holds a peripheral interest in the sport.
I have a new psychological model for the low consumption NASCAR fan. Maybe my research, and that of other applied scholars, can find new messaging trends that resonate and help create a new attraction for the sport.
I have a bit of skin in the game. I was Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s PR rep for the Wrangler Brand in 1986 and 1987. My vision comes from a salient era and I'd like to see NASCAR sizzle like it did in the past. It can only get better and I'd like to help.

What Lowe's and NASCAR taught our students

I'm a professor at Appalachian State University and an advisor to the Communication Department Advertising Club. Too often, our meetings become mundane and we plod through announcements and other tasks that become part of club activity. We decided to break out of that pattern and what transpired next led to engaging learning experiences for our students.
I reached out to a former ASU communication grad, who is now Managing Director of Team Services at the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) headquarters in Charlotte. Chad Seigler offered to have our group meet with his key staff and also tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame. After the NASCAR visit, we traveled to see Sam Bass (below) at his illustration and design studio.
The learning opportunities were tangible and practical. We saw the real-time social media aggregator room at NASCAR; Sam Bass helped our students better understand how to negotiate a design concept with a client.
Our next field trip was yesterday (November 14) to Lowe's Home Improvement corporate headquarters in Mooresville, NC. And it was another exceptional day. Advertising pros Brad Stephens, Matt Mitchell, Liz Coudriet and Stephen Comer gave us half a day and unpacked the essentials of being successful on the corporate side. Some examples are Matt's work with BBDO in New York on TV spots and Liz's 6-second "How To" videos, specifically produced for social media distribution on Vine.
I find deep satisfaction in the interactions between our students and these sport and advertising executives. Giving students access to presentations on field trips allows them to observe how to express ideas and verbalize key points. Our hosts are gracious and when students ask questions, they validate them by offering thoughtful and complete answers. That's huge.
I have a secret to share: Professors don't know it all. If we don't stay attached and connected to our "real world" counterparts, we lose touch. I am thankful and grateful to our wonderful hosts, who invested in us, and our students. You can expect to read about more field trip experiences from the ASU advertising club in the near future.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Run your own no-cost social media dashboard

If there's one known fact about managing social media, it's that there is a complex combination of channels to address. The monster needs to be fed on a daily basis and if one is not careful, it becomes an overwhelming and many times low ROI task.

I have attempted to use the free versions of several social media dashboards, but just couldn't get the comfortable with the process. It was either too complicated, or the dashboard branded my messages with their identity, which in a way waters down my own brand-building.

So, here's what I'd suggest for your own custom program:

1) Open a new web browser window, specifically for your social media proliferation.

2) Open each of your platforms under a separate tab. For me, that's Blogger for my four blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

3) Set as many connectors as your can. For example, my blog posts autofeed onto my Google+ page; I now have access to blog posting functions on LinkedIn and when I'm finished, I get a prompt to post on Twitter.

4) Source a key message once, then move it across the other platforms. I'm getting pretty copy-and-paste fast with this. I write a blog post, it posts to Google+, then I might copy to Facebook, move it once again to LinkedIn, then use the Twitter opt-in to post there.

I leave this dedicated browser window open and when an idea hits me, I blog fast and transfer.

Just a tip here: Message short, but message more. Your readers will love you for it.

Let me know how this works for you.