Experiencing Murketing through Experience Marketing

Once upon a time, advertisements appeared in print or on the air, simply explaining why their product was better than its competitors, or offering a cute jingle to get into the heads of potential consumers. But now, that’s not enough. According to Forbes writer Krizstina “Z” Holly, “these days, if you’re not thinking about getting your customers to run through a train station or assassinate a stranger with a water gun, you’re probably getting lost in the crowd.”

She’s talking about a trend she calls “curated experiences,” or a new trend in marketing that offers your customer an adventure connected to your brand, rather than a traditional advertisement. She says this surfaced as a business model originally, as with the performance art pieces “Sleep No More” and Invisible Cities, which offer an interactive experience in a venue that is usually presentational. Now, companies are getting in on the act, if you will, and in our social media-inundated world, this experience of adventure leads to online sharing, guaranteeing more exposure.

We’ve seen examples of this trend recently here in Boston: cliff diving off of the ICA building courtesy of Red Bull and 10,000 motion-activated LCDs along the Esplanade in the Lucy Activewear #lucylightforest. You could probably even think of a few more subtle examples, manifested in your own life. What did you Tweet about?

In his book, Buying In, culture and media analyst Rob Walker calls the phenomena “murketing,” a portmanteau of “murky” and “marketing.” For Walker, though, it’s about more than the experiential nature of this new marketing; he talks quite a lot about how, through this, the brand becomes about more than the product. It’s a symbol of something more, a lifestyle, or even an ideology. Gone are the days of ads like this. Instead, companies like Twitter rarely advertise themselves traditionally, focusing more on building that experience.

What’s hard to comprehend is that our own sharing, as Holly mentions in her article, becomes further marketing, or marketing, for the brand. One great example of this would be posting photos on Facebook after the Color Run, which is more than an experience. At the end of the day, it’s a business and each participant pays around $50 to participate in “the happiest 5k on the planet,” and for the privilege to share those photos.

Murketing becomes an issue because we sometimes aren’t even aware that it’s happening; thus, do we know that we’re being subtly manipulated? The implications of this are great, and as technology and marketing techniques become more sophisticated, that manipulation could become even more subtle. Yet, as both Walker and Holly mention, this new form of marketing allows us to be more involved in the process. Because, in this new world, we do have a say in the brand’s ideology, and we are participating, whether through active learning or water gun battles, in the future of the company.

What do you think: is it worth giving up total awareness of marketing to have more experiences worth sharing? Are you fooled by murketing? How will this change as today’s college students become marketing executives?

– Gracie McKenzie, 2015

Don’t Mess With Texas Reporters

On October 21, 2013, the city of Dallas, TX hosted a community town hall meeting in the conference room of a police station, announcing it in advance in a press release. But, despite the public nature of the meeting, one group of people was not welcome. This wasn’t discrimination based on class, gender, or race; no, the people not invited to the discussion were the media. As this is technically illegal, the reporters called city hall, and after 40 minutes of work the unofficial ban was overturned.

Once inside, the reporters found a discussion about crime in the community and the possibility of opening a new alternative high school. Not so controversial (unlike past town hall meetings). It wasn’t a secrecy issue, either: it was a public meeting and thus cameras were not banned. Any member of the public could have live-tweeted, blogged, or even posted videos of the event to YouTube as it was happening (and, the media could have picked up those posts as evidence if necessary). As area reporter Tristan Hallman wrote, “Basically, the decision to ban people came down to who employed them.”

So why is this important, if they eventually did get into the meeting? The situation forces us to think about the role of media in society. As an idealist and a college journalist (two things that may go hand-in-hand), I’d like to think that the media should be the truth tellers, even when that truth is a run-of-the-mill community meeting. I recognize that the news media we consume have an extremely powerful affect on the way we perceive the world. So, in this case, did the Dallas Police Department. Those in power might prefer to have the media cover their actions only when it is personally convenient. It would certainly be more efficient and less confusing, but when the media is controlled by the government, that’s a police state.

As it turns out, a recent high-profile shooting has the police chief tired of talking to the press. But again, Hallman says, “Of course, we did ask about the shooting after the meeting… But we got the chance to ask, and he got the chance to decline comment.” Our country was instead founded on freedom of the press. This doesn’t mean that the media will always have access to the information, but it means that they should have a fair chance, as a member of the public—especially when the information is made available to the rest of the public. If it doesn’t play out this way, the media has a right to protest and change that unfair treatment. Let’s handle this the American way, with more meetings, discussion, and input. And Chili’s.

What do you think about this story? Have you noted any examples of silenced media in your community?

–Gracie McKenzie, A15

My aunt, like countless others, hates watching television in the morning. “All that’s on,” she says, “is the news and morning talk shows, both of which have little positive to say and really put me in an awful mood for the day ahead.”

Can we blame her?

We have heard time and time again that the media is not just a passive form of entertainment. What we watch, read, and consume through screens and over airways has a direct effect on the way the think, act, and process our surrounding world, as well as, for my aunt and others, our mood and well-being. This effect is demonstrated in full-force when talking about the recent spree of gun violence in the past few months and years. It seems as though there is a constant influx of disheartening and demoralizing news—a gunman on the loose, children killed, a domestic dispute with a tragic ending. It’s as though the bad days have come to outnumber the good, and we find ourselves lucky when a day goes by with no such violence.

Although it may seem as though our society is slipping into a violent abyss, the U.S. is statistically as safe as it has been in the past twenty years. While gun violence is by no means under control (nor is this a piece about the gun control debate), there is another force that is clouding our days with such frightening news: the media.

Every screen we turn on shouts at us that violence is all around, pleads with us to recognize viciousness. How much is too much, though, when it comes to news coverage of violence? Considering gun-related crime rates haven’t increased but our media coverage of those crimes has, should we be worried that we are becoming a society too focused on what is going wrong?

The news putting us in a bad mood may be for good reason. Sensationalized media stories capture the public’s attention and are cultural markers upon which we can convene, discuss, and mitigate our own feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Through media coverage of events related to gun violence, we can remain citizens informed of what is going on in our country and our world, so that we can pursue the knowledge we need to fix it.

Conversely, the news also may be worsening our well-being. Media outlets often over-sensationalize violence stories, urging us to pay attention to the gruesome details even before they have the correct facts or information, leading to issues of mistrust and fear.

While some argue that there is not enough coverage of gun violence in the media, and others have appeased media consumers by scaling back in the wake of too much violence, the question remains, then, is sensationalized violence a necessary component of a modern, media-based society? Is it our duty to consume such news or deplorable that it is even broadcast in such a fashion? Can we or should we choose to tune out?

– Lauren Witte, A14

Secret Service: government manipulation of news media

Last Thursday, Islamist website RNN leaked a top-secret 6-minute video obtained from “sources in the military.” As the New York Times reported, the video depicts “senior Egyptian Army officers debating how to influence the news media during the months preceding the military takeover” and “offers a rare glimpse of the anxiety within the institution at the prospect of civilian oversight.”  While they have been achieving “better results,” Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi says in the video that they haven’t reached what they want. (Note: seriously, read this article if you’re interested in media. It’s fascinating)

But propaganda is not a recent invention, though its manipulative messages have become even more cloaked in recent decades, thanks to social psychology research into effective techniques. In addition, as the officers say in the video, the Egyptian government has a history of manipulation of the press, as do China, Russia, Japan, and Great Britain (among many others). But although these instances may affect our country’s foreign relations and our perception of global events, because we have a democracy and freedom of the press, our domestic news media is safe, right? Actually, wrong.

In 2008, the New York Times successfully sued the U.S. Department of Defense, gaining access to more than 8,000 pages of records, from transcripts to e-mail messages, describing a multi-year effort that the military called a “talking points operation.” The result: this article, detailing the process by which the Pentagon hired “surrogates” or “message force multipliers” who would appear in the media as un-biased “military analysts.” However, the cost of unparalleled access to military secrets and additional financial compensation was an agreement to spin the situation positively, in favor of the American military. Regardless of what was actually happening. As David Barstow wrote for the Times, “these members of a familiar fraternity” became a “media Trojan horse” — shaping the tone and conclusions of our supposedly fair and accurate terrorism coverage. Even more distressing, most of the news networks didn’t look into the analysts’ personal or business connections to the military when hiring them to provide opinions.

At the end of the day, since we cannot predictably rely on the objectivity or even accuracy of news media, it’s up to us as the consumers to responsibly and responsively consume that media, whether in Egypt or the US. A former analysts is quoted in the Times article as saying, “The worst conflict of interest is no interest.” He was referring to his own hire, as well as those of his colleagues, to share warped opinions at major national news networks. But the soundbite holds true for the modern news reader/watcher/listener: don’t accept things the way they are first presented. Do your research, consider your own values, and then reconsider the coverage. The news is just a report, not a dictation of how to view the world.

(Note: you can view all 8,000 pages of released documents here once the government is no longer shut down)

–Gracie McKenzie, A15

Stopping the Presses: student publications and new media

Consider this blog post. No, really. In the past, a forum like this one—a blog for, by, and about an academic department—simply wouldn’t have existed. But, as we’ve all heard a million times, the world is changing, thanks to the Internet. For some college newspapers, though, the Internet is more than the new frontier; rather, it’s the only place their product exists.

This phenomenon is nothing new, as professional publications have made the switch in an effort to save money for years. The most famous of this bunch is Newsweek, which published in print for 80 years before its changeover and rebranding in October 2012. But the financial crisis hit student publications later and in a different way. In fact, as late as 2009, over a third of college newspapers didn’t have a web presence at all (defined as no website or a website that hadn’t been updated in six months or more).

The University of Oregon’s Daily Emerald is not one of these publications. After 92 years of printing daily, in 2012 the newspaper transitioned to a twice-weekly magazine with most content published online. Eastern Connecticut State University took that one step further. In September 2006, students returned to newspaper racks filled not with a new edition, but instead with fliers informing them that news would now only be available online. While ECSU was the first school to literally “stop the presses” (which actually raised legal trouble), others have followed in more recent years, especially on the community college level. Here at Tufts, while many publications have an online presence, none are completely online.

In the end, though, it’s important to remember the purpose of student newspapers. Yes, a record of happenings, on-campus and off, is valuable for the campus. But, more specifically, student publications in general provide outlets for practice, training, and experience in the field of journalism. The act of writing the story may prove more important than the content of that story, even if the byline is online. In fact, in an era in which journalism is increasingly on the Internet and/or multimedia, one could argue that it’s worse for a student publication not to have a web presence at all than not to publish in print.

However, even though funding for college newspapers can be tight, I would argue that it is almost as irresponsible to abandon print journalism completely. Call me a print media junkie, but nothing compares to holding the news in my hands, without a dim, bluish glow. I want to turn the page to see the next section, instead of just scrolling down. And I’m not alone: according to research, students prefer the print version of their campus newspapers, and in 2010 over half of college students didn’t even know if their college newspaper was available online. When budget cuts and lack of profit threatened to shut down American University’s weekly Eagle, student response was so negative that they decided to make the changes necessary to allow at least a monthly publication.

But the Emerald didn’t change media because of financial difficulties—2011 was one of their most successful years ever. Instead it was because they saw a shift in professional journalism, and adjusted their mission and actions to better fit the modern world. In the end, digital news media is neither an add-on nor a replacement for its print counterpart. When the two exist simultaneously, they complement each other, and students aiming for careers in journalism should be comfortable on either end. Because, right now, that is the future. Print publications may be struggling financially, on the whole, but they need young, bright minds with experience in both realms in order to keep functioning. Maybe it will change again: perhaps print journalism will truly become a thing of the past, and we’ll all carry our student publications around on tablets, and every academic department will have a blog. But today, this semester, this year, we still exist in a blend of the two forms, and thus student journalists need experience in both.

–Gracie McKenzie, A15

Social Media and the Syria Crisis

It goes without saying that the events of the Arab Spring will leave a historical legacy of numerous dimensions, impacting permanently how we think about global geopolitics, ethnic/sectarian politics, energy politics, and such concepts as “popular uprising,” democratization, state sovereignty, and international law and the laws of war. All of the states involved in the Arab Spring, including Syria, have also demonstrated that the role of social media in mass movements is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored, whether or not one believes that it can really be credited with any of the success of these movements. (As one early commentator questioned, “Is all you need to topple an entrenched autocratic regime a collection of Facebook updates, YouTube videos and Twitter hashtags?”) It is true that, as has been pointed out, Facebook’s highest-growth markets are the Middle East, Africa and India.

Regardless of one’s views on whether social media’s role has been positive or negative in Syria, it is clear that if nothing else social media has shaped reactions to the conflict all over the world. Videos posted on YouTube have prompted domestic reactions inside the US, specialist internet bloggers from around the world have apparently provided important weapons analysis to governments and human rights groups based on their monitoring of social media, and global leaders such as David Cameron have kept the world apprised of their actions through Twitter (tweets David_Cameron: “The use of chemical weapons in Syria is wrong – and any response wound [sic] have to be legal, proportionate & designed to deter further outrages”). One site has collected an interactive map showing all of the latest tweets on chemical weapons in Syria and the international response (example: “war is business and its [sic] poor people that pay the price, feeling sorry for the people of #Syria #Iraq and the whole #Africa”).

Do you think social media has played an important role in the Syrian crisis? Is this positive or negative? We’re interested to hear your thoughts!

Summer 2013 in the Media

Greetings from the CMS Blog! We hope you had a great summer. Though we were on hiatus, we didn’t stop paying attention to the goings-on in the world of media, and now we’re excited to start the conversation again. And we hope to hear from you as well!

One of the interesting phenomena of the summer was a number of high profile private purchases of major newspapers, over a matter of days. Jeffrey Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon.com, purchased The Washington Post for $250 million out of his personal wealth of an estimated $25 billion (it is estimated that this price is approximately equal to just 1% of his share of Amazon stock). John Henry, the Boston Red Sox principal owner and former investment fund manager, bought The Boston Globe for a paltry $70 million.

For many, the question was why these businessmen decided to invest in such a “failing” industry. Mayor Bloomberg of New York stated he had “no idea” why Bezos bought The Post.  Others hypothesized that newspapers are the new “trophy” for billionaires – “Some billionaires like cars, yachts and private jets. Others like newspapers.” For his part, Bezos has said little about his private motives for buying the paper. He has stated that he “doesn’t have all the answers” for the problems facing the newspaper industry, but that he’s willing to start asking questions and is hopeful for a new “golden era” for The Post. His comparative advantage will in theory be a new “point of view” as to how the paper should evolve (and presumably keep costs down, as he so successfully did at Amazon), and provide a “runway” (i.e. more time for the company to restructure financially).

Others have observed that private ownership is perhaps a better status for the company; in an interview with Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, she pointed out that “If journalism is the mission…maybe (a publicly traded company) is not the best place for The Post.”

The Boston Globe was purchased in a similarly shaky financial condition. The New York Times Company, the previous owner, sold the Globe at a significant loss from the $1.1 billion it paid in 1993. Though some may consider it a risky investment for John Henry, he is known for a “keen grasp of numbers and a disciplined approached to statistics,” and an investment model “focused on ‘what is, not what should be.’” He will likely bring the same business acumen to the Globe that he brought to his previous investments including the commodities market, the Red Sox, the New England Sports Network, the Liverpool Soccer Club and a NASCAR team. In this intriguing piece from WBUR blogger Carey Goldberg, the author challenges Henry to break from the Globe’s traditional hierarchical coverage of the region and instead discover a “new Boston,” whereby the paper and its staff willingly seek out stories and sources that are increasingly relevant to the city and its readers today by digging into it’s “knowledge economy.”

But while noble, many news outlets may no longer be willing to invest in coverage that runs counter to audience expectations with so much weighing on profit margins. What does it take to make a media company profitable today? Similar questions have been raised in the context of 24-hour-news networks and online media. For example, a recent satirical post on The Onion mercilessly mocked the CNN.com website for posting an article on Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance as their top story, above the crisis in Syria, solely to drive up web traffic and thereby advertising revenues. As the fake “Op-Ed” put it, “I want our readers to know this: All you are to us, and all you will ever be to us, are eyeballs. The more eyeballs on our content, the more cash we can ask for. Period.” Online news sources are now competing more and more desperately for advertising revenues. Is there a financially sustainable solution in the future?

What do you think?

Jason Collins and the Social Media Response

“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Jason Collins, a 12-year veteran NBA center for the Washington Wizards, among other teams, recently came out in a piece published in Sports Illustrated magazine. The significance of his announcement, making him the first openly gay active male athlete in US professional team sports, was not lost on anyone, and received a response that was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Despite the fact that female professional athletes have been “out” for 32 years, since professional tennis player Martina Navratilova came out in 1981, the men’s professional sports world is probably one of the more difficult arenas left to come out. Collins’ bravery was acknowledged by many, including President Obama who personally called him to tell him that “What you did today was brave…It affected so many other people in the country.” Lebron James, one of basketball’s best players, called Collins “noble,” saying “I think it’s very strong of [Collins]. I’ve got the utmost respect for Jason.”

Collins also received wide-ranging support from others, from former President Bill Clinton, to current teammates and other players including Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, to numerous former coaches. Particularly remarkable was the response from the social media community. In general, research showed that the social media response was over 80% positive, with a very small minority of actively negative voices. You can find a breakdown of the most-frequently mentioned keywords here:

Source: socialmediatoday.com

Source: socialmediatoday.com

Gender in Film: a Non-Review of Spring Breakers

Source: nyulocal.com

Source: nyulocal.com

This week saw the passing of legendary movie critic Roger Ebert, whose long-time movie review columns and prior TV show with Gene Siskel have undoubtedly influenced reactions to many of the country’s films over the past twenty-plus years. In tribute to this, we thought for this week’s blog post we’d take a look at the film industry.

The only problem is, as a busy students, we haven’t actually been to the movies in months. But we’re not going to let that stop us – there’s more than enough buzz and hype (positive, negative, and everything in between) swirling around out there on the recent release Spring Breakers to analyze the public’s reaction to the movie, and to certain interesting aspects of gender in film in general.

Post-feminist dream, feminist nightmare, or something in between?

A popular litmus test for judging the gender bias or gender-friendliness of a movie is the Bechdel test, named for comic strip artist Alison Bechdel. A film passes the Bechdel test if it meets one simple condition: it has at least two [named] women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man. Interestingly, more than half of a sample of 2,500 films did not pass the test, including some of the most popular movies of recent history. For example, the final in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, does not pass the test, as no two female characters ever exchange dialogue throughout the movie. Perhaps less surprisingly, the wildly popular trilogies Star Wars (the original trilogy) and Lord of the Rings do not pass the test – in the entire three films of the first Star Wars trilogy no female characters say a word to each other, nor do they in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as the main female characters never actually meet.

By this test, Spring Breakers, a recent release by famed “auteur” Harmony Korine vaguely “about” the debauchery of American college spring break, apparently passes with flying colors. The movie is about four female American college students who desperately want to go on spring break to Florida in order to escape the monotony of their daily lives. Given the hype surrounding the film – from its casting of ex-Disney Channel stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens to portray “girls gone wild,” to its gratuitous sexuality and violence  – the movie has generated enough hype to surely secure it a generous audience for a regularly small-budget movie.

Spring Breakers has received wildly varying reviews, with titles ranging from the positive – “Why Spring Breakers is the only American movie that matters right now”, “Spring Breakers doesn’t reinforce rape culture” – to the highly negative – “Spring Breakers isn’t just a terrible movie, it reinforces rape culture”, “ ‘Spring Breakers’ Review: This is not what a feminist looks like.” Many reviewers focused on the fact that the film’s subtext was clearly meant to be subversive. In the words of one reviewer, the film represents “the most thorough indictment of the American dream since The Great Gatsby.” For example, one of the lead characters played by James Franco, a self-described “gangster” of southern Florida, is apparently Gatsby-esque in his exultations over all of his ill-gotten gains, perhaps akin to the triumph expressed by the well-known literary figure (who himself engaged in shady business dealings). According to the reviewer, the film is clearly intended to portray all of its sexuality and violence in a negative light – “any time blaring dub step is playing in an art film, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that we are supposed to look askance at what is happening.” However, the reviewer fully expected that “a whole bunch of people weren’t going to get it.”

Other reviews were not as kind. Some reviewers saw and understood the attempt at subversive subtext, but felt that the film was still ultimately misogynistic. According to one reviewer, though the film seemingly attempts to be a denunciation of the type of culture it portrays, it “ultimately fails” because “it promotes the problematic notion that for young women, sex – particularly the kind that just so happens to fit the stereotyped predilections of the heterosexual male – is power.” The reviewer felt that the movie’s “posturing shouldn’t fool viewers into thinking it’s anything more than exploitation.” Another review went so far as to link the film to the type of “rape culture” currently in controversy in the US due to recent incidents such as the Steubenville rape case.

Is a film automatically misogynistic if it portrays women in a hyper-sexualized light? Is a film automatically “clever” or “subversive” if it portrays the same thing in an ambivalent matter? These are probably questions that some of you are asking in your media studies classes, so let us know what you think!

Thoughts on Digital Media, the LA Talent Industry, and Advice for CMS Seniors from a CMS Alum

The CMS Blog recently sat down (virtually, of course), with a CMS alum, CJ Saraceno (A11), who is currently hard at work in LA doing exciting social media and branding campaigns through a boutique firm called NCLUSIVE, for clients ranging from well-known celebrities to non-profits to professional athletes. He works to help clients brand themselves in unique, creative ways through social media. The CMS blog had a lot to ask him ranging from his thoughts/philosophy on media in the digital age to his career path in LA. He even gave us some helpful advice for current CMS seniors! In true CMS style, he gave us such thoughtful, articulate answers that they needed no further edits from us – so read on and enjoy!

CMS: How is advertising and marketing evolving in the digital age?

CJS: I like that you use the word evolve. Right now in the social media world, there are these gurus who love to be seen as heralding this rapid transformation of advertising and marketing. I personally don’t think this is the case. The medium has changed, yes. And the message has to adapt to fit the demands of that medium. But the intent is still the same. You’re still working to convince people to purchase, donate, or sign up.

One benefit from this evolution of digital marketing: Social media is now being prioritized by in-house marketing teams. Most people no longer doubt the importance of creating unique and remarkable content on a daily basis. Five years ago, this was not the case.

CMS: And what does this evolution mean in terms of practices, philosophy, outreach and design?

CJS: Practices – Social media allows a brand to have extended conversations with their fans in real time. With this unprecedented level of access, marketers are realizing they can’t just be pitching the product. They can’t be a propaganda machine. They have to share useful, engaging content.

Philosophy – I’d argue that the philosophy is still the same. Companies want to see results. And not just in their number of Facebook Likes. They want sales. The way to boosting sales is by reaching more people and you reach more people when you create photos, videos, infographics, and blog posts that they want to share with their friends.

Outreach – As print media died, blogs rose to take on a major presence in the media landscape. Digital PR is geared towards using these blogs to target customers on a neutral platform. And with this, it’s all about realizing that bloggers want to post things that will get them pageviews because pageviews equal paychecks. Once again, it all comes back to having engaging content.

CMS: We’d love to get a quick overview of your career: what has been your overall path and what has inspired you to make the career transitions you have made?

CJS: Back when I was a sheepish and naive freshman, I had my first meeting with my advisor, Maryanne Wolf. I told her I was in this conundrum where I couldn’t decide between a career in film or business or politics and so I didn’t know what classes to take. She stared at me smiling and explained that I should never just pick one thing and neglect others. Rather, I had a duty to use my time at Tufts to find a way to combine my areas of interest and make a living doing it.

At Tufts, I went ahead and pursued all three (Political Science major, Mass Communications & Media Studies Minor, and film school abroad).  Courses like Creative Writing with Marcie Hershman, Consumer Society with Brian Roach, Journey of the Hero with Betsey J. Halpern were so influential. Taking advanced filmmaking courses with Howard Woolf sharpened my ability to construct visual messages. Sophomore year I took Sociology 40: Media and Society with Sarah Sobieraj, where I was introduced us to guys like Rob Walker, Theodor Adorno, and Clay Shirky, who were talking about culture and movements and brands and it was exciting.

I moved to LA because I thought working at a top talent agency would be a good start to a long career in film and branded entertainment. But I got to LA and just heard a lot of horror stories from close friends in regard to the culture at these places and how people have these awful bosses and how sometimes the juice ends up being not really worth the squeeze. Plus, I’ve always considered myself more of an anti-establishment person and everything these top agencies gave off was just the opposite. Except UTA, they always seemed cool.

My first real film gig was on the set of Taken 2, where I was a Production Assistant. Though my day-to-day activities involved a lot of little tasks, long drives, lunch orders, etc., being on set with Liam Neeson and Director Olivier Megaton was a memorable experience. There were of course days where we would be working 16-17 hours and it would fly by because you were surrounded by so many talented professionals. Once that wrapped, I landed a job as an Office PA for Season 3 of Evolution’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. That was another amazing job with amazing people but once again, 13 hour days were the minimum and it involved a lot of grunt work. I think in Hollywood, it’s expected to really pay your dues before you’re given a position of power. I figured I could produce more videos with a switch into the branded entertainment side. That way I could at least be producing web videos, rather hauling equipment and getting appearance releases.

One day on RHOBH we filmed cast member Yolanda Foster meeting these digital consultants from NCLUSIVE inc.  I saw the office; the people were cool and their work was incredible. Once my job with Real Housewives ended, I sent a long email to NCLUSIVE, explaining that I would do anything to work there.  At the time, they weren’t hiring but the owners still took a meeting with me. I spent two hours in there and the rest is history. I’ve now been a brand content strategist with NCLUSIVE inc. for 6 months, where I coordinate and consult on digital content for brands and nonprofits as well as individual celebrities, athletes, musicians.

CMS: One final question – you probably get this a lot, but any words of advice for current seniors in the CMS program interested in careers in PR/marketing?

CJS:

– Writing is so important. I took a class with Political Science professor David Art and he had us read Zinsser’s On Writing Well. I recommend it.

– Be proactive. A resume is no longer enough. Do your homework on the companies to which you’re applying. If you want to work somewhere, do something remarkable and send it to them. Do a competitor analysis. Make a video. Create an infographic, a microsite, a Facebook ad campaign, something. Keep sending it to them until you get a response.

– Boost your personal brand. If you apply to a job in anything marketing-related and your social media looks neglected, underused, and unpolished, you’re missing out on a key way to differentiate yourself from the competition.

– Apply to intern with NCLUSIVEinc., We’re based in LA, we’re rapidly expanding, we like people with diverse backgrounds. For more info, I can be reached at CJ.Saraceno@nclusive.com.

Thank you so much Mr. Saraceno!