Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Final Blog

This semester we have had a large focus on social media as part of business and business writing.  Although I did not like or enjoy the blogging or the twitter I do see them becoming more and more popular with businesses.  Social media does offer benefits to businesses one of which is top of mind awareness.  Keeping your brand and name out there for all to see as much as possible is going to keep people thinking of your business.  Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media websites also allows for business updates to consumers.  You see businesses post promotions they are having in store or online, coupons to print off, new releases, and even public apologies. 

One of the biggest differences from “standard” business writing and the “social media” business writing is the format.  Punctuation, grammar, and even spelling are less vital as it is now more socially acceptable to write with abbreviation and symbols: LOL, BRB, UR, J, <3, 2night, BTW, LMAO, J/K, THX, WTF, ASAP.  Some of these I have even heard used in live conversations.  I guess we as a society are even getting to lazy to say words we just say letters now.  The other big difference with the new social media writing is the timely manner of information that is available to the public.  If something changes and consumers need to be aware of it ASAP the posting it on Twitter, Facebook, or a blog can be some of the fastest way to get the information out there.

I can see, in the very near future, social media business writing being a large job opportunity and believe that colleges will even begin to offer courses directed solely at this.  Some even go as far as having a business social media concentration or possibly a degree for it.  With the ease of internet access at home, in the office, at wifi hotspots, on smartphones, and on tablets consumers go there for their first source of information.  Most people will do research on the internet for a product they are looking to buy before even going into the store giving greater power to those businesses that do use social media for promoting.  With online buying options there is a fight to not even give a consumer the opportunity to go to a competitors store for comparison since the ease of buying is right there from the comfort of the house no need to even change out of your swear pants.

As I stated at the beginning of this article I did not enjoy the blogging or twitter part of the class.  Can I see them being an important part in the future of business writing yes, but do I see me being the person in the business doing this type of writing, NO.  It is an experience that I now have and would be happy if I never had to tweet or blog again.  I myself am still one for customer service and like and enjoy talking with people to learn about products and promotions. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hunters Equal Money for Iowa

Iowa has hosed 30,000 to 50,000 nonresidents in years past. They stayed for days in small town hotels, ate in cafés down the street and bought supplies from local stores; a multi-million dollar revenue stream that Iowa no long has. Who were these 30,000 to 50,000 people coming to Iowa? These were the out of state pheasant hunters coming to what use to be known as "Pheasant Capital of North America." In the past few years the decline of the pheasant population has led to the loss of a multi-million dollar business for the state. The solution to this problem may seem simple: bring the pheasant population back will bring back the hunters. However bring the pheasant population back up is easier said than done.

There are two major components to maintaining or growing the pheasant population, weather and habitat. We have no control over Mother Nature which makes the first part of the equation impossible for us to improve. In the "2011 IOWA AUGUST ROADSIDE SURVEY" prepared by Tom Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist, Mark McInroy, upland wildlife research technician, and Lile Kruger, administrative assistant, states "This marks the 5th consecutive winter in a row Iowa has received ~ 30 inches or more of snowfall. In the 50 yrs of standardized roadside counts Iowa has never seen 5 consecutive winters of this severity." It continues on to talk about the wet springs Iowa has seen, "The spring of 2011 did not offer any reprieve from the past 4 years with April and May both seeing above normal rainfall and below normal temperatures." Spring, being the nesting period for pheasants, needs to be warm and dry for chicks to have a successful survival rate.

As the first part of the pheasant equations is uncontrollable, the second part, habitat, is very controllable. As we have seen pheasant numbers fall over the years there has been a direct correlation with loss of habitat for them as well. An article put out by the Iowa DNR in October 2011 states, "From 1990 to 2005, Iowa lost 2,500 square miles of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), hay and small grain lands. That equals an eight-mile strip across Iowa from Davenport to Omaha." Loss of habitat, be it public land or private land, is never good for wildlife.

You may find yourself asking well how much money can actually be in hunting? Well according to an article in the Gazette, a Cedar Rapids Iowa newspaper, the sale of hunting license went from 189,137 in 2002 to 172,230 by 2010. With a hunting license cost for residents of Iowa of $19 a person, that is $3,593,603 down to $3,272,370, a loss of $321,233 for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This does not include any extra fees to hunt game such as migratory birds, deer, turkey, or fur bearing animals. Add on all the extra fees that are missing from the missing hunters and your loss of profit continues to go up.

So lets look back at the multi-million dollar business of nonresident hunters. The license for them before extra fees is $112. This is a loss of $3 million to $5 million in license alone. Think about how much money is not being spent anymore in the small towns, at the local cafes, in the hotels, and at the local supply shop. Bring back the pheasant populations with better habitat, hope for better winters and dryer springs, and bring back the out of state hunters.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ch 6 Gathering Reader-Centered Information

In chapter 6  "Gathering Reader-Centered Information" of our text book guideline #2 is "Identify the full range of sources that may have helpful information."  Of course anyone doing research on any topic is most likely to go right online to for a quick search of information.  And liked we talked about in class chances are the top result will be a Wikipedia result.  Good bad or indifference there is a full range of sources that a person can look to for information.  Specialist and experts are some that build creditability for the writer.  Again our discussion in class shined a light on a place to find all these specialist and experts that I have never thought of before, Twitter.  This can provide those people and may even lead you to getting in contact with them for interviews or lead to articles, book, and research papers they may have already written.  Online provides many opportunities to find information, some good, some bad, some irrelevant but it seems as though this is the first place people go to do research so when you use the internet use it wisely.

Ch4 Planning for Usability

Think back for a minute on how many times you have received a memo, e-mail, or letter at work and read the first sentence or 2 and found nothing of interest or importance.  Did you continue reading?  Did you read the whole thing or did you scan through and find what you needed?  Maybe you just said "heck this isn't that important."  Chapter 4 talks about planning for usability.  Guideline #1 Identify the information your readers need.  In my opinion this is the information that should be stated at the top as the very first thing a reader will see.  This lets the reader prioritize how important and urgent the e-mail, memo, or letter may be.  If you can show importance up front it is more likely the reader will actually read the whole thing.  Another thing I have seen in work e-mails and one that gets on my nerves is telling about information that isn't there.  An example may be a change in dress code due to your boss dressing inappropriate for the Halloween party.  Telling us there is a change in dress code then only saying more information can be found online or in your employee hand book.  Put the major changes in so your reader knows what they are looking for when they go to these resources.

Loss of Pheasant Numbers Equals Loss of Revenue

Back in October the Iowa DNR put out a four part article on pheasant hunting here in IowaPart 1 talked about Iowa's history of pheasant hunting.  Part 2 talked about current status of pheasant and the decline we have seen in pheasant number, pheasant hunters, and habit for pheasants.  Part 3 talks about what is being done and can be done to help improve pheasant numbers for future years.  Part 4 gives insight to this 2011 -12 pheasant hunting forecast. 

Part 1 stated, "With its title of Pheasant Capital of North America gone for more than a decade, Iowa seems destined to be an afterthought in pheasant hunting circles."  You might as why is this important, well a little further down in the same article Part 1 tells you why, "Iowa hosted 30,000 to 50,000 nonresident pheasant hunters in years past. They stayed for days in small town hotels, ate in the cafés down the street and bought supplies from local stores; a multi-million dollar shot in the arm for small town Multi-million dollar revenue stream that has declined as rapidly as the pheasant numbers.  That kind of loss would cause concern and demand change in any business.  So what can we do to bring this money back to Iowa?

As the facts state within the four articles, weather is a large factor for the pheasant population and one that we can not control.  However habit is a second very large factor and this is one we can have some control over.  With a decline in habit brings a decline in pheasant numbers.  Land owners can plant natural grasses and flowers as well as food plots for pheasants to help with winter food and cover as well as spring nesting grounds.  Just adding habit back to the equation can help improve pheasant numbers which in turn will bring more hunters back into the fields, including out of state hunters who are a multi-million dollar opportunity. 

Main Street
. "

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Converting Product to Profit

How do you turn product into profit?  It seems that some business these days have the same business plan as the underpants gnomes.  Phase 1 obtain product, Phase 2 ? Phase 3 make profit.  The only idea these businesses have is to sell the product at high prices and not make anything special about it.  Part of becoming a successful business is standing out from the competition.  You have to make your business unique in its own way and in a way that appeals to the consumer as well.  If we take a look at the underpants gnomes as an example they have phase 1 done, they have product.  Now for phase 2 we have to look at what they can do to make their business or product different from every other underpants company on the market.  How can they do this?  Well seeing as how the underpants gnomes steel underpants to obtain their product one idea is to sell their product as used or in a more appealing term "broke in."  Another idea could be to sell them at a lower price than the competition due to the underpants being used similar to how the price of a car comes down the more use it has.  They could promote their company as going green for underpants by selling recycled underpants.  Today many companies are not standing out and being different from the competition.  They are facing the same problems as the underpants gnomes, having product wanting profit and not knowing how to connect the dots.  A key concept to keep in mind when trying to make your business stand out is never say "No" to hearing an idea.  Hearing ideas can only create more ideas you don’t have to implement them if they are not what you’re looking for.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Real You at Work

Who we are at home and who we are at work are sometimes completely different people.  As some people may see this as ok there are benefits to sharing who you are out side of work with everyone at work. recently posted an article talking about personal traits that can help an individual within the work place.  The article is called, "6 Personal Traits Will Accelerate Your Influence at Work." 

What do all 6 traits have in common?  They are all personal information about you.  What does this really mean?  This means try to make friends and build relationships at work.  People like someone they know and the more they know you the more they can like you.  Make each relationship a personal one.  This is best seen in trait number 6, Your Hobbies.  The article states, "What you do outside of work fuels your heart and soul...Share what drives you in ways that others don’t know about."  This can open up a connection with others at work who may share the same interests.  Think to your self, who are you more willing to help, a friend or a stranger?  When people know you they keep you in mind and when opportunities arise at work your name becomes part of the conversation.  A common marketing term is top of mind awareness meaning keeping your company's product on the consumers mind.  The same concept can be used about you at work.

Is Social Media to Big?

An article on, "Are Corporations Giving Up on Social Media?" talks about how the use of social media in Fortune 500 companies did not grow in 2011.  It takes research from  University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook and how much use Fortune 500 companies are using them.  The article states, "About one-quarter (23 percent) of the 2011 F500 have corporate public-facing blogs with a post in the past 12 months...Well more than half (62 percent) of the 2011 F500 have corporate Twitter accounts with a tweet in the past thirty days...Fifty-eight percent of the 2011 F500 have Facebook pages."  So, what can we take away from this data?

I have two thoughts on this subject matter:

1) There are to many social media sources out there.  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogs, Youtube, MySpace, and many others allow for companies to create and try to maintain upkeep on them all.  Along with the variety to choose from companies also must try to figure out which ones their customer base is using.  Is it rational to have an account for every social media source out there?  Probably not so choosing which one(s) to use can be very important for a company. 

2) There is a need for this skill set with in Fortune 500 companies.  Social media is a fast growing and fast paced concept.  To be able to handle multiple accounts and keep those all up to date can be difficult even from a personal level let alone a Fortune 500 company.  Technology is rapidly growing as well meaning how consumers are using social media is growing as well.  This idea of a new skill set needed is further backed up by the amount of college classes you can now take that focus on social media.  More and more colleges are adding social media classes or incorporating it into classes they already offer. 

Social media is something that will only continue to grow.  How business will adapt to it will continue to change over the next few years as well.  You may find yourself going back to school to get a degree in Facebooking or Twittering. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Groupon Now Groupoff Later?

An article on talks about the IPO for the company Groupon in an article titled "Groupon IPO Pops 40% On Open". They talk about the price of the stock sold for compared to what was expected as well as how much it made.  "Groupon opened on the public markets Friday at $28, popping 40% from its initial pricing of $20," states the article.  But what risks are involved in investing in the internet booming business of group coupons?  The article states, "Investors are shrugging off any concern about Groupon’s business model and prospects."  Shrugging off any concern?  Yes this is a booming internet company but for how long.  The IPO was great up 40% from what they were expecting however the company but the company's capital was only $17.8 billion not the $25 to $30 billion they had been talking about. 

With the economy in, or in some people's opinion coming out of, a recession there is a big push for saving money.  Groupon started and has survived because of this.  When, or if, the economy comes out of this recession will people still keep the save save save mentality?  Or will they go back to the "I want it now" mentality and pay whatever to have a product or service immediately.  If this happens what will happen to sites like Groupon?  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Twitter Class

Monday Oct. 31, 2011 my business writing class did an experimental Twitter class.  Instead of showing up to the traditional classroom all students and the teacher logged into Twitter and held a discussion over an article by called "5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 years."  The article can be found by clicking on the following link: The article’s 5 reasons: 1. Social networking use is skyrocketing while email is plummeting, 2. You can’t find jobs traditionally anymore, 3. People are managing their careers as entrepreneurs, 4. The traditional resume is now virtual and easy to build, and 5. Job seeker passion has become the deciding factor in employment.  These 5 points brought up much discussion in our Twitter class. 

One topic that kept coming up over the Forbs article was how much information you should be putting out on the web for people to look you up.  As helpful as it can be by putting yourself "online" for employers to find you many people were concerned with how easy it is for other people to find you as well, people you may not want to have your information.  Think about this, how comfortable are you with putting your name, address, phone number, email, and even your picture out there for all to view?  One student compared this to an online dating site saying, "This article is suggesting that we put ourselves on the matrket like a singles site."  Many of us have, or have had, facebook pages or myspace accounts that give us control over how much information we share, allowing us only to share what we are comfortable sharing.  However how do we control what everyone else is sharing about us?

With sales of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile internet capable devices growing, the access to the internet is endless.  And most of these devices have cameras and video capabilities on them as well.  This gives anyone with one of these devices access to share info on you.  Whether it be a picture or video of you, or a simple status update or tweet with your name tagged.  Anyone who thinks there is still such thing as privacy is living in the past.  You are "online" whether you like it or not.  The best we can do now is be proactive about it.  Put ourselves out there and be visible "online" as our self and not as how others perceive us or post about us.  Technology is growing and social media is only going to grow with it.