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Andre was just as exhausted as me after the intense school year and hot summer.

Well, after eight months of blood, sweat and tears in the attempts to finish my degree in art history and public relations, I have finished and come out victorious. So, I figured the best thing to do would be to resurrect my blog and start writing again until I find a big-girl job in the real world.

Andre the Giant and I have gotten our much-needed R&R time, and are now ready to go out and conquer the world, one post at a time. More posts navigating the world of art, public relations and social media to come!

Stay Golden,

Margo

Alexei and Channy Moon Casselle performingMinnesota Public Radio’s The Current brought Minneapolis-based band, Roma di Luna, to the Coffee Hag for the Mankato leg of “The Current Road Trip” on Thursday, Nov. 11.

“We wanted to reach out to greater Minnesota,” said the Current weekday morning host Jill Riley who emceed the event with her morning show co-host Steve Seel. “People in greater Minnesota are listening to the Current, so if they can’t always come to us, then we should go to them,” said Riley.

Riley and Seel traveled to Mankato with Roma di Luna front couple, Alexei and Channy Moon Casselle.

Roma di Luna is a six-person ensemble that began as a husband and wife folk duo playing at the Minneapolis Farmers Market and in coffee shops. The couple relived their twosome-days at the Coffee Hag.

“We’ve been playing as a full band lately, but we started just as the two of us, so it’s nice just to come back to kind of how we started–playing at coffee shops,” Alexei Casselle said.

The Coffee Hag was at maximum capacity well before the performance began. The small size of the venue meant most of the audience was sitting on the floor or standing in the back throughout the duration of the concert, while those who arrived at the Coffee Hag hours before the performance lounged on sofas and chairs.

The audience’s devotion and unwavering attention added to the intimacy of the performance, which Seel referred to as a “mini love fest.”

Three times over the course of the evening Riley and Seel went on stage and asked the couple questions submitted by the audience, revealing information about their craft, lives and the difficulty of balancing their marriage with their professional lives.

“We do lots of interviews with artists on the radio, but in this setting, the audience gets to take part in one themselves,” Seel said.

Roma di Luna released their third full album, Then the Morning Came, in October. The album has been described as an “emotional work out” by MPR, which could also be an accurate description of the performance at the Coffee Hag.

The event was sponsored in part by the Minnesota Legacy Arts and Cultural Grant, without which the event would not have been possible. The Current will bring a Twin Cities band to four Minnesota cities, including their first trip to Duluth in October. They will be traveling to Rochester and Austin in the spring.

The Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week is one of the hottest fashion events of the year–good thing that PR Week was there to cover it and give us this fantastic example of what NOT to do when using a Flip video camera for a story. The following are four tips of what you should avoid while filming with your Flip that ultimately leads to a laughing-stock of a video that does more harm than good for your brand. I encourage you to watch the PR Week video above and then read my tips below once you have finished.

1. Try not to pan too much, but if you do, don’t be jerky about it.

And by jerky, I mean you don’t want to treat the Flip cam like a horizontal shake weight. I don’t know if anyone else had a mild case of motion sickness while watching the video, but I did. Flip video cameras are wonderful things due to their size and portability, however, they are not very stable and not meant to be moved around too much while shooting. If you must pan to get an environment shot, then do so slowly so that the image does not blur.

2. Don’t move around while shooting–keep ‘er steady.

Like as stated above, the Flip camera is not stable. If you do not have a tripod for your camera then try to pick a shot and stay as steady as possible while conducting interviews. If you explain to the person you are interviewing before hand that you will be watching the screen to make sure they look as good as possible, they will understand. The shaky image is also not appealing to your viewer.

3. Don’t include your useless questions or comments in the video.

We don’t care about your question, we care about their answer. Including your own questions and answers in the video makes you seem desperate to fill time and make the video longer and it also draws attention away from the subjects that you are interviewing.

4. Don’t leave your interviewee in the dark.

In the final interview with fashion guru Naeem Khan the lighting was horrendous. It is helpful to see the persons’ face while listening to their voice. If you are going to interview them, try to find the best shot as possible and take the lighting into consideration. Good lighting leads to a good shot.

If you avoid these rookie mistakes you will be well on your way to shooting good footage for your video story. Then all you will have to worry about is the editing….

Recently I wrote an article in the MSU Mankato Reporter about SEOwhat.com, a company in Mankato that focuses on Search Engine Optimization. The company optimizes websites for businesses and writes press releases, among many other things. I thought it would only be appropriate to write my own Search Engine Optimized news release in SEOwhat.com’s honor.

I took an article from the Mankato Free Press, Conference gives students a chance to see science on stage, and re-wrote it as a news release, focusing on key words and taking out the spin that the reporter put into the story.

Contact: Margo Steck                             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: 555-555-5555
Email: Margaret.steck@mnsu.edu

GUSTAVUS HOSTS SCIENCE AND NATURE CONFERENCE FOR ELEMENTARY AND JUNIOR HIGH STUDENTS
More than 400 south central Minnesota students attended the South Central Service Cooperative’s Science and Nature Conference for hands-on science experience

MANKATO, Minn.—The South Central Service Cooperative’s Science and Nature Conference was held at Gustavus Adolphus College Wednesday and attracted more than 400 regional elementary and junior high students.

The Science and Nature Conference is one of several organized each year by the South Central Service Cooperative with the intent of providing in-depth, hands-on experience typically not offered in classrooms.

Science and Nature Conference students chose from 26 different break out stations, largely taught by area college faculty and industry experts.

These experts include Lee Ganske of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Belle Plaine organic composter Anne Ludvik and the past president of the Minnesota Mycological Society and statewide mushroom poison consultant, Ron Spinosa.

The South Central Service Cooperative also enlisted the help of the Gustavus Society of Physics Students to perform demonstrations, such as:

  • how sound can fracture a glass beaker by finding its resonating frequency
  • how pickles sodium content can conduct electricity and emit an orange glow, and
  • launching potatoes across campus using an air-powered potato gun.

“It’s a blast,” the Society of Physics Students treasurer, Nara Higano, said. “We love getting kids interested in science.”

Based in North Mankato, Minn., the South Central Service Cooperative programs and services are member driven to utilize resources in the most efficient and effective manner possible. SCSC is one of nine regional agencies called service cooperatives, established in 1976 by Minnesota legislation.

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Keywords: South Central Service Cooperative, Science and Nature Conference, Gustavus Society of Physics Students

Many people are not aware that Mankato is a city rich in art and culture. I have included a Google map that points out the locations of art hubs in Downtown Mankato. I hope this comes in handy the next time you feel like soaking in some local art!

HTML Tutorials

About HTML

There is a lot more you can learn about HTML. And the best place to turn for complete information on any topic related to Web design is, of course, the Web. The following sites offer helpful tutorials so you can learn more about HTML.

HTML Tutorials

Whenever I want to get the lowdown of what is happening throughout the state of Minnesota and nationally, I go online to Minnesota Public Radio. MPR provides fair and unbiased coverage of Minnesota and national politics, arts, current events and issues. But it is not only what they cover that draws me into the site, it’s how they cover it.

One of MPR's Minnesota in Photos: Every Labor Day weekend, thousands of people come to the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in the tiny northwestern Minnesota town of Rollag. Dozens of antique steam engines are shown that were once used to thresh -- to separate grain from the stalk.

MPR has been at the forefront of new media coverage since the beginning. They have kept up with the new digital age and equipt their website with more than just audio coverage. One example of their extensive coverage is the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. Although it is not a hard news item, 1,776,211 people attended the state fair this year alone, and for those who could not make it, MPR was there.

While on-site, NewsQ hosted a live web cam at their booth so viewers could visit them in person or online and they also had a photo booth where anyone could get their picture taken and then it was put online into a slide show.
Minnesota Public Radio Photo Booth

Every day they would ask questions on air and then post them online so people could respond by commenting online, via twitter, email or calling MPR with the answer. One such question that they had daily was “What are they judging?” Where they would provide audio descriptions of what the judges are looking for and later on that day, the answer.

What are they judging? Description
What are they judging? Clue
What are they judging? Answer

MPR reporters cover a majority of the station’s stories, but they also partner with other news stations and journalists to provide full coverage of the state. Most of the national stories, such as this story on Obama reaffirming aid to poor nations, are either from the Associated Press or MPR’s parent company, National Public Radio.

The only suggestion I would have for MPR online is to increase the video. There used to be a large amount of video coverage, but that has weened over the years, focusing instead on the audio and pictures. Even if it is video like the one posted yesterday, Marriage and the Common Good, which was sent out to Minnesota Catholic parishioners this week to oppose same sex marriages. By posting videos like this online it permits everyone to view the clip and forge their own opinions on the video. Kudos for this one, MPR, but you should try to pick up the pace again with the videos.

As I contemplate my future in the world of public relations I cannot help but think that this is an exciting time to be entering into the world of journalism and public relations. The fields are changing more than ever before, so our methods and tactics must change with them. While some traditional techniques and skills are, and shall forever be, important, there are others that are quite new.

In Dave Fleet’s blog “Conversations at the Intersection of Communications, PR and Social Media,” he lists these skills, both traditional and new skills and attributes that all public relations practitioners should have in their bags. The first skill that he lists is writing. The importance of writing should never be understated. Regardless of how technological things become in the future, if you are not able to effectively communicate then you will not be able to do your job. Other skills that Fleet lists for traditional attributes are attention to detail, media relations, proactiveness and work ethic.

The new skills that Fleet refers to are blogging, microblogging, social networking tools (such as Facebook, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon), search engine optimization, basic html coding, RSS feeds and readers, blogger relations and social media ethics.

In a lot of ways the traditional skill set relates to the new. Blog writing differs greatly from press release writing, and you almost have to be more proactive when working with new media than before. Updating twitter on a regular basis, which could mean multiple times a day, and with the field changing so rapidly it is increasingly important to stay in tune with the new trends and be able to distinguish fads from the future.

New media is having an even more significant impact on journalists than pr professionals, as MSU alum and former writer for the Star Tribune, Tim O’Brien, has learned. He is a victim of some of the paper’s massive layoffs that were a result of declining revenue and increased cost. O’Brien stated that one of the reasons he may have gotten the chop was because he wasn’t up to date with the new media trends and with multimedia journalism.

In Vadim Lavrusik’s Mashable article, “8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist,” he discusses some of the new traits that journalists must posses in order to be successful, or to even survive in the business. Although the title of the article indicates it is for tomorrow’s journalists, the reality is that these are traits that TODAY’s journalists must have in order to make it.

Like with public relations, traditional skills are still very important for journalists. As Lavrusik states, “fundamental skills will be more important than ever as audiences search for credibility on the Web.”