Journal #12: It’s All About Me: Branding & Strategy

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It’s All About Me:  Branding and Strategy

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Discuss in your journal blog, what are you doing to establish your personal brand online? What could you be doing better? What do you plan to do in the future? What strategies will you employ?  


Personal Brand: 

My personal brand.  What can I say?  I’ve always been one to worry about how I appear to others and online is no different.  My friends thought I was weird when I originally locked down my 6a00d8345275cf69e2014e87df8ad5970dFacebook profile like Fort Knox and then, they soon followed.  Friends also wondered why I made them ask for my approval before they posted a picture of me in any online capacity in the days before there were so many tagging and timeline removal options on Facebook.  I would remove friends’ comments on my wall or take down any picture that portrayed me in a light that I found, or thought someone might find, “unbecoming”.

As time has gone on and employers began social media searches, I have realized how important this is, among other things, to my professional brand.  In addition, my career paths have changed as times have changed and maintaining a positive professional brand, both on and off line is more important than ever before.  In addition to portraying myself in a professional light, I must maintain a public persona and brand that is both knowledgeable and social,  In order to work in the liberty movement, grassroots organizing, political public relations, and digital activism.

Numerous Strides:

My personal and professional brand has made numerous strides just by creating and maintaining two blogs this semester.  These blogs have made me more noticeable by encouraging me to branch out from my old Facebook fallback and have given me more things about which to create social media posts.  In order to further establish myself, I have attempted to make frequent posts to both blogs but know that TN liberty will require me to do so on a more consistent basis.  I have also become a more active Twitter user and in doing so, have begun to clean out and balance my “followers” to “following”.  On Twitter, I have chosen to keep my profile public in all forms and now that I’ve learned about what a non-balanced follower to following ratio could portray, I have made steps to remedy the situation.

personal_branding_social_mediaDue to my extreme time limitations and the amount of work it will take to promote and execute TN Liberty in the manner it deserves, I have decided to focus most of my attention on this blog for the time being.  This summer, I will have more time to maintain and promote TN Liberty on a consistent basis.  After graduating with my Master’s in December of 2014, TN Liberty will become my main focus and a larger part of my branding.  However, for the rest of this semester, it will remain a side project.  That being said, after noticing that I have gained for than 650 views on this blog, I purchased my name at .com and .org.  I am now using www.robinspielberger.com for this site.  Unhappy with having to use “libertytn” instead of TN Liberty as a WordPress domain name, I also purchased www.tnliberty.com.

In order to grow my career and secure a position working within the liberty movement, I have to make sure my social media presence is one that shows knowledge, passion, education, self-control, personality, the ability to unite and connect, and consistency.  In addition to the aforementioned branding , I have outlined the strategy and metrics for my social media presence, designed to make my personal brand more effective in Journal #10:  Do You Like Me?  Check Yes or No.

 

Engagement Strategy:

As for my engagement strategy, I am working on promoting my posts for this blog and TN Liberty through various social media channels and sites.  I have also begun using Twitter, Tumblr, InstagramFoursquare, and Yelp on a more consistent basis in order to supplement my Facebook profile and professional Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership page.

images_main-image-for-social-media-engagement-strategyI am also keeping track of which blog posts get the most views so that I can see what my audience is most interested in reading or viewing.  So far, It is obvious that my What Liberty Means: TN Liberty video garnered the most engagement, reach, and views but I am interested in seeing what other types of posts could potentially gain new followers and if they same strategy works for all sites or if each site requires a different strategy.

Currently, I am working on garnering a Yelp  following by consistently “checking-in” and writing at least one review a week, so that I can develop my personal brand in a more well-rounded way.

I am also trying to become a more consistent and active Twitter, user and while doing so, I am testing the phrasing of blog promotion to see if just the mention of an interesting post on my blog is enough to gain a new follower or if a direct ask is more productive, as well as monitoring what kinds of tweets are more likely to get retweeted by my following.

On the most basic of levels, I feel that my increased and more consistent social networking activity on both blogs, my Facebook profile and page, Twitter, Yelp, and Foursquare, as well as peripherally on LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest, should allow me to increase my number of followers and make my online brand stronger. It has been shown, that the people with the most popular personal brands are keeping up with their topics and followers and posting with consistency.

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Journal #11: Leveraging LinkedIn

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Leveraging LinkedIn

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Assignment:  Establish a LinkedIn profile if you don’t have one. Enhance your profile if you do have one; join groups and interact with others. Please describe what you did to enhance your profile in the journal blog.  


Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.37.26 AMI’ve had a LinkedIn profile for as long as I can remember and last summer I spent a good amount of time updating it.  My profile is now at the All Star Level and I have over 500 connections on LinkedIn.  Each connection is someone that I know personally, have worked with, or is a member of an organization or in a field that I could potentially leverage for a future job, campaign, or a need, such as printing services, catering, banquets, conferences, social media, advertising, press, and so on.

Each month, I get over 50 profile views (not all of which I can see because I have refused to upgrade to the premium version – I just don’t get the point and it hasn’t been a necessity) and over 10 requests to connect each week.

I also have 18 original recommendations for my most recent 4 positions and 147 endorsements for 25 skills.

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In order to enhance my profile for this week’s assignment, even though there wasn’t much that I could do, I reordered my key skills so that the ones in which I am most interested in leveraging for a new job are now displayed at the top.  This will also help me to gather more endorsements for those skills from connections.

I also joined a couple of new groups, removed myself from a couple of restaurant centered groups, followed several companies, added a connection or two that were waiting in my inbox, uploaded some of my recent work to include the StockBoy startup presentation from Entrepreneurial Journalism class and the What Liberty Means: TN Liberty video, changed my headline to a more current description of my skill-set and job-set, added my volunteer work from the Libertarian Party of Tennessee and in the new “Test Scores” area, I added my MAT score, as well as a description of the Miller Analogies test and the percentile in which I scored.

See the slideshow below for the updates and the various sections of my profile.  If you’re interested in seeing my actual resume, click here.

 

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I would say that my LinkedIn profile is fully complete and ready to be leveraged for an exciting new position in grassroots and digital activism, youth leadership and organization, and campaign management, as well as political and nonprofit public relations.  Fingers crossed.



 

Journal # 7 – Photo365 Challenge is…Challenging

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Photo365 Challenge is…Challenging

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  • “In your journal blog, discuss what are you learning from the photo-a-day process so far.”

The Photo365 Challenge has been well…challenging.  I don’t think that most people would find my particular challenges to be their challenges during a Photo365 Challenge.  It’s not that i forget to take pictures – I take plenty.  It’s not that I don’t know how to take proper pictures – I’m actually not half bad at the art of photography.  I suppose I should thank my father the photographer for that particular skillset.  I usually find myself thanking my mother for the skillsets that she gave me such as being determined to do anything and everything possible or being able to push myself to figure out most anything, able to change a tire or hook up any electronics system or sit in a board room filled with men and the ability to hold your own.  The lists goes on and on and on but I sometimes forget that many of my skillsets come from my father, as well.  He is quieter than I am and not as assertive as my mother and I (he would call it aggressive but I maintain that it’s assertive), so sometimes I forget.  But I digress..  What were we talking about again?  Oh yeah…why I find the Photo365 Challenge…um…challenging.

So, I take a lot of pictures and I know how to take proper pictures.  Check.  I am quite useful with the photo editing software so that’s not the problem.  My problem lies is two areas…time and perfectionism.  Gah – ain’t that the story of my life these days?!!

Anyway, let’s talk about issues:

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 8.10.46 PM1.  TIME:  It  seems that I never leave the house these days.  Grad school has turned me into a recluse.  I am either stuck in my office on this computer or in actual class after spending the day, working on this computer.  My dog is adorable but how many pictures of a cute lab/chow mix can one take before they appear to be the crazy dog lady?  I think I have already exceeded that number and the postman didn’t find it as hilarious as my boyfriend did, when I chased after him, camera in hand.  The next door neighbors got a little creeped out by the zoom function on my stellar HTC One camera phone and grass grows very slowly in the winter.  I proclivity for taking selfies at an unprecedented rate until I was utterly satisfied with picture began to look narcissistic and to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of time these days to even blow dry my hair or apply some concealer.  Ain’t nobody gonna wanna see the everyday grad school selfie!

I decided to use my old pal Bonono, a stuffed monkey given to me by a very important friend many years ago, as the subject of this Photo365 Challenge.  The problem there – he isn’t easy to transport.  People look at you funny when you haul a stuffed monkey out of your purse and begin to hold a photoshoot in Kroger, First Tennessee, or Walgreens. Yes – those may be the only places I go on a weekly basis.  Yeah…no, I don’t even go there!  So, Bonono and I have taken many a photoshoot in the privacy of our home.  Even then, how many times can a monkey swing from a tree, pretend to ride a motorcycle, read a school book, ride the dog, check out the week’s calendar, beat himself with a statistics book, be horrified at the article on NSA spying in Rolling Stone, play dress-up, cook dinner, or try to use the birdbath as a hot tub before people are utterly sick of the monkey?  Well, i’m sure many are sick of the monkey pictures but that is what we have at this time.  Learn to love the monkey people.  Either that or brace yourself for a montage entitled “As Grass Grows,” in which you get a picture of the front yard at the same angle every day, in order to watch the seasons change from winter to spring to summer.  Anyone interested?

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 8.19.32 PM2.  EXCELLENCE:  Some call this trait of mine perfectionism, and that word is one that I am so darn tired of hearing this semester.  I believe that I strive for excellence.  Yes, I like things to be as perfect as possible.  I admit it.  I like things clean and pretty and well-executed.  I feel that if one is going to take the time to do something, they should do it right and to the very best of their ability.  So – I spend extra time writing essays and if i’m not confident that the subject can be thoroughly explained in the minimum number of pages – a increasingly small number that so many students seem to forget is the minimum work required– then I write more pages and make sure to add something extra.   The minimum means not going above and beyond, not pushing yourself, and doing just enough to get by – something I frankly don’t understand.  Why would anyone enter grad school and not push themselves?  Not go above and beyond?  Not try to add something extra to make their work stand out?  What’s the point them people?  Seriously.  Again, I digress.

PIctures.  So yeah, once I’ve taken my grass growing, monkey swinging, postman chasing, neighbor spying, dog running, or horrendous-looking selfie picture, I feel the need to take a few moments and edit it to the best of my ability.  Some pictures look better when cropped.  Some look better in black and white or sepia or antiqued or with the brightness increased, the contrast lowered, or a filter applied.  Why not make your work look the best it can?  Again – it’s about taking pride in your work and putting your best face in front of the public.  Why would you do anything less?  BUT, this takes time people.  And as I established in problem number 1 – time is of the essence here and I don’t have a lot of it.  I don’t sleep as much as I would like to and I forgo television shows that I love, just to make sure that the product I give my public is the best possible.

So, the Photo365 Challenge has been challenging because I want to take nicely shot pictures of an interesting or at least a funny subject matter and have them properly edited before placing them out in the ethers of the internet for all to see – or potentially see.  The drive I have to do good work and place the best face forward has made it more challenging. However, I don’t understand why anyone would do any less.

On a positive note, it is nice to have a collection of photos that represent my year in grad school and in one place.  Each one means something special to me and I  like being able to have a collection.

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Journal #6 – Facing the Feedback

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Facing the Feedback

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  • “Show your blog (essentially a prototype at this point) and explain your topic of focus to at least one potential member of your blog’s community/audience. Ask them for early feedback on your idea. What kinds of content or features would they be looking for in a blog like yours? What kinds of things do they NEED or WANT to know? Do they have any problems or needs within your topic area you could solve for them? For example, perhaps a potential reader of your niche food blog has a specific allergy and could use some information on how to avoid that ingredient, or similar. Write up what you learned from this person. This could be posted on either one of your blogs, depending on what you think is best. Ideally, talk to more than one person about this. NOTE: THIS IS A COMBO OF MINI-CROWDSOURCING/ALSO CUSTOMER DISCOVERY/DESIGN THINKING”


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After spending hours upon hours designing my topic blog, it was time to gather some feedback. I, of course, was a little worried.  After all, I had spent hundreds of hours making this blog beautiful – in my mind – and carefully crafting what I considered to be just what the Tennessee Liberty Movement needed – a centralized location for all news liberty in Tennessee.  Then, I realized that I am my harshest critic and I really had nothing to lose.  Well, people could snicker and decide I wasn’t worth the keyboard I typed on and the trackpad I design with but that has yet to happen to this day.  34 years and no one has ever told me (to my face or that I know of) that my completed project was utter garbage and I was void of talent.  So, I figured it wasn’t going to happen now.  Still shaking from fear and afraid of negative feedback, I decided to put myself out there and seek the opinion of the people that mattered most – those involved in the Liberty Movement in Tennessee.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 5.27.09 PMI braced myself for the feedback, dead set that I would soon be hearing what I feared the most – a resounding “that’s terrible” or “why would you do that?” or “it could be better” and so on and so forth.  I poured myself a glass of wine and waited.

The facebook messenger began to buzz and fully expecting  to hear people’s shout of horror, I slowly clicked on each one.  I was ready to Face the Feedback.

To my surprise, I had nothing to worry about.  The problems with my topic blog were the problems I already knew existed.  Each person had great things to say about the design of the blog and the purpose for its existence.

  • They agreed that Tennessee lacked a centralized location for liberty news and information.
  • They agreed that the design and theme fit the topic quite nicely and it was one of the more professional looking blogs or websites out there.
  • They liked the fact that it wasn’t cluttered with unnecessary information on the front page and that the topic categories were sorted well – making searching for each particular “need” simple and quick.
  • They all agreed that I had enough categories to be the “go-to” site for resources, event information, and news.
  • And many mentioned that they liked the addition of the student liberty in Tennessee because due to the fact that because students are in charge of creating and maintaining their own sites and facebook pages – they aren’t always easy to locate.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 5.23.34 PMAfter hearing such positive feedback, I began to feel better about asking for people’s thoughts on the existing content.

  • Everyone liked the design of the blog posts
  • They loved the fact that there were posts about upcoming bills that not only explained the bill itself but gave contact information for the state representatives or state senators responsible for it.
  • They felt the event information sorted by county was a great addition and would help people more easily find ways to get involved in their area.  They also like the fact that anyone could see it so that people from all over the state would be aware of each county’s events and could gather event ideas for their county.
  • They also really liked the “weekly” forum discussion category but noted that there was only been one.
  • Some wondered why the site was called tn liberty but the web address was “liberty tn” and others noted that I really should purchase the domain name tn liberty.

The name tn liberty was already taken when the dot wordpress was after it in the web address and “liberty tn” was as close as i could get.  Also, purchasing the domain name is already something I had planned to do – once I could afford it and it would be a worthwhile purchase.

  • They reminded me that I had not completed the State Representative and State Senator pages.

I know, I know.  I’ve been a bit busy.  I also nicely reminded them that this was still a work in progress but I appreciated the reminder.  These pages will contain the contact information for each State Representative and Senator as well as how many terms they have held their position and during election time if they are running unopposed, opposed in their own party, or opposed in other parties.  I will also be adding information about liberty candidates and if they are endorsed by any organizations such as FreedomWorks or Young Americans for Liberty.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 6.34.31 PMFinally, I was able to ask if they had any ideas for new categories or if there was anything that could be done better.  This question was the only resounding negative comment that I received.  Great. However, to my surprise, it was exactly the problem that I existed:

  • There was not enough content and the posts were frequent enough.  All feedback givers mentioned that there was enough liberty news to make 10 to 20 posts a day on average plus the county event posts and student event posts.

I was afraid I was right.  I simply do not have the time at this point in my life to run a blog of this caliber and make it one that I can be proud to host.  To make tn liberty be all that it can be – excuse the army quote – I would need a significant amount of time each day to devote to finding, creating, and posting stories.  That, or I would have to acquire a staff to help me.  Running this page would be a full-time job for one person and unfortunately, I don’t have the time while in grad school or the resources to do it for free.  Even though I have a donation widget installed on the blog – not a penny has been donated and nor should it have been – there isn’t anything to donate to at this point. Something will have to change before tn liberty can take off.  Maybe I will be able to think of something this summer.

Overall, Facing the Feedback was not a terrible ordeal.



Journal # 5 – A Perfectionist Print Designer and the World Wide Web

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A Perfectionist Print Designer 

and the World Wide Web 

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  • “Set up new WordPress blog for your topic of focus/beat. This is SEPARATE from your journal blog. I know, two blogs, crazy! Choose a name for it carefully, and a theme. If you’ve already done this, bully for you. Send me the URL and I’ll create a new blogroll.”
  • “Create about page for this topic blog”
  • “Set up blogroll on your topic blog with at least five sites related to your topic. Here’s how to do it.”
  • “Sign up for at least one email newsletter and/or an RSS feed reader related to your beat (you might want to sign up for some related to our profession more generally, too). There are many possible feed readers out there – do some research to see which one you think best suits you. For example, here are some possibilities, including Feedly.”
  • “If you are already a blogging whiz, or have a topic blog set up already, are there any new features or widgets you could add? If your blog is pre-existing, be sure you do at least one new thing to spruce it up. Describe what you did in your journal blog”

Setting up the Topic Blog – tn liberty

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 8.06.26 PMIf you’re reading this, you can see that I am quite capable of setting up a blog.  WordPress makes it fairly easy.  Pick a theme.  Check.  Name your blog.  Check.  Add a tagline. Check.  Decide if you want your home page to be static or a revolving door that showcases your most recent posts and then, mark it as such.  Check Check.   Begin adding pages to your new blog.  Check Check Check.  Add some categories.  Check times ten.  And here is where the beginner user may have begun to get a little confused.  No big deal. WordPress is there to help you with an assortment of support pages, located here.  And if you can’t find the answer you need there, check out the forum for support categorized by simple topics, located here.  “So what’s the big deal,” you ask?  “Obviously, you know enough to make a decently visually appealing and functioning blog.”  Yes, I can make it pretty-ish and functional but you forget, I’m a print designer and….drum roll….a perfectionist.

The print designer with a perfectionist personality disorder is used to being in control of how text appears, the spacing in-between each line and each character, the color of the boxes around words and widgets, and so on, and so forth.  Sure.  I created a blog and matched the color of the fonts to the header that I uploaded – one that I created in Photoshop and InDesign for my Facebook page, Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership.  BUT, now there are appearance problems with my site.

7702900836_0106e4e49a_cFor some reason, I cannot get the Site Title to change colors in order to become visible against my dark header.  I’m not a complete n00b, so I knew a few tricks to try and i refused to be pwned by WordPress.  I knew that I wanted the color to be #ffffff (that’s white, for those of you who don’t know).  I knew that the text size needed to be at least 50px.  I knew that there needed to be extra padding (what spacing is called in HTML) between the Site Title and the Site Description.  I tried everything I could think of but no luck.  My brain started to become mush and I was heading for an all out war with WordPress.  I knew that I had to learn the thing I had been dreading for years…HTML and CSS coding.  

Great.  Just great.

For those of you who do not know what CSS and HTML coding look like – check out the development tools option available in your browser.  If you’re using Chrome, it’s located under View—>>Developer—>>Developer Tools.  You can also right click on any element on a web page and choose “Inspect Element.”  A box will show up on your screen and you can look “behind the scenes” at any webpage.  This will give you an idea of the code necessary to create text, images, boxes, headings, spacing, and everything else on a webpage.  Here is what this one looks like right now.  Check out the white box highlighted at the bottom of this screen shot.  That’s what I was about to “mess with.”

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tagImageDiagramAfter realizing that I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, I checked out some helpful tips and tricks on several blogs.  These sites gave me the basic code that I needed to change simple text.  I could now make sentences or words bold by adding <strong>PUT WORDS HERE< /strong>, italicized by adding <em>PUT WORDS HERE< /em>, or even bold and italicized by adding <strong><em>PUT WORDS HERE< /em>< /strong>.  I was making headway.

css-tnNext, I investigated the coding needed to change colors, fonts, and sizes in sentences, paragraphs, and words.  I figured out that you can use other coding to make colored background boxes, change the text color, and change the appearance of entire groups of text.  Not just individual posts or pages but you can change how the “default” text appears for different headings 1, 2, 3, and so on.

 I was super excited and throughout the next two days, I filled my mind with every piece of needed code that I could absorb.


tn liberty Blogroll

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Now, that I had spent hours learning advanced brain-frying code, it was time to actually complete the assignments that were required of me for this week.

I gathered the URLs for important website and blogs to add to the sidebar of my tn liberty blog in order to guide people to other sources of information about liberty and liberty in TN.

I put the sites into several categories such as Liberty Folk to Follow, Liberty Organizations, Liberty in Tennessee, Liberty Resources, and TN Student Liberty.  Under each category, I added links to some of the most popular sites.

 


Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 7.50.15 PMMention & Google Alerts

Next, I decided to go ahead and set up an alert system for my blog topic of liberty in Tennessee. I have used several different “alert” systems in the past and decided to set up Mention, first.

I created several alerts such as “Tennessee” AND “Liberty,”  “Tennessee” and “Politics,” “Memphis” AND “Council” OR “Commission” OR “laws” OR “government,” and “Knoxville” AND “politics“.  I added an alert for each major area of Tennessee and used several different search options in order to get a more comprehensive collection of news stories.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 7.57.37 PMI did the same thing for Google Alerts.  It is a much less visually appealing system, as you can see on the left. It also doesn’t provide you the option to sort and set tasks for your “alerts.”  For example, Mention allows several users to work with the same “alerts” and share them with each other – assigning tasks such as “post this to the blog” or “verify this information.”  Google Alerts are sent to your email address either daily or once a week, depending on your settings.

 I also set up Google Alerts and Mention to inform me if anyone in the interwebs happens to mention either one of my blogs specifically.  As I learned in PR Management last semester – there are numerous tools available in order to know what your audience is saying about you and how they are responding to you.  You have to stay engaged – so I want to know if people are talking about me.  True – it probably has less to do with monitoring my “brand” and more to do with the human nature psychosis of “OMG SOMEONE IS TALKING ABOUT ME?!?!?  WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?!?!”


Feedly & the RSS Reader

So, there is this thing called a RSS feed.  It sounds more complicated than it actually is.  Subscribing to a website RSS removes the need for you to manually check the website for new content.  Instead, their browser constantly monitors the site and informs you of any updates. You can also command the browser to automatically download the new data.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 3.03.36 AMI first set up the Google Chrome Browser desktop app for Feedly from the Chrome Web Store.  It works quite well, plus it has a visually appealing interface. If you can’t tell by now, I like ALL the things to look pretty, as well as neat and clean.  I used Feedly’s search box to enter terms that were relevant to Tennessee and liberty and politics.  Plus, I also added a few blogs and sites manually.  For the most partFeedly was helpful for major news sites and major blogs.  I also added more journalism influencers, startup kings, and media sites to Feedly, because it seems to be the best bet for actually aggregating my everyday news.

I then found another extension located in the Chrome Browser Web Store.  Yep, that sure sounds a lot like an Apple product but hey, whatever works.  I downloaded the extension for a Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 8.11.05 PMsimple RSS Feed Reader and it loaded itself into my browser bar for easy access.  I really like it a lot for its simple integration directly into my browser space.  I don’t need a desktop app and it doesn’t take up a lot of space or waste space on pretty pictures. I like pretty pictures and when i’m interested in reading a collection of news stories, I’ll probably use Feedly, because it displays a photo and headline in an aggregated news format like most apps would.  This RSS Feed Reader reminds me of something very old school that would run on the very basic operating systems.  

However, it gets a 5 star rating and the other readers barely get 3 stars.  It’s simple and to the point.  I add websites and blogs, put them into folders based on my category creation, and when they get new information, a number appears next to it signifying how many new stories are ready for me to read.  I can easily click the X, if it is not pertinent or click the Check mark once i’ve read it or just to mark it as read and move on.  I’d check it out if you are looking for ways to add content to your Topic blog quickly and simply.  


successUsing Code to Spruce it Up

Using a text widget, I first wanted to add a donation button to my page.  After reading an article about how to do so, I decided to give it a whirl.  Then, I had a thought.  I wonder if I would be able to add a colored box around it so that it stood out and matched by overall design?  I opened the text widget box and began messing with the code.  After moving it piece by piece and saving each time so I didn’t lose anything, I was able to get it close to what I wanted.  I’m sure this won’t be my final result.  Why?  Because as I said earlier, I’m a perfectionist.

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UPDATE:  And I was right.  After writing this draft, going to eat dinner, and watching The Following, I came back and messed with the code until I was happy. Check it out on my site!!

Next, I wanted to use the text widget and code to create a Title and Tagline that would be located on top of the above donation widget.  I realized that the donation widget used a <div/> code (a type of coding for paragraphs and divisions, if you will) and inside that code the button itself was actually a link URL image code that starts with <irc.  I figured why not use the same type of coding to create the Title and Tagline “widget” that I wanted.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 8.15.37 PMAfter creating, editing, and saving for approximately 30 minutes, I created something close to perfect.  I’m very happy with it actually but will probably edit it again to make the tagline a little smaller.  However, it is growing on me, as is.

Overall, my site is coming along nicely.  I am still trying to figure out how to edit the CSS on the theme stylesheet in order to make my actual site title the correct color and increase the font size but I have some posts on the CSS Customization Forum and am sure that someone will help me out any day now.

Until then – i’m good.

UPDATE:  An extremely nice guy responded to me on the WordPress CSS Customization forum with some tips on how to go about changing my title and site description to better fit my wants and needs.  He supplied me with a bit of basic CSS code and pointed me in the right direction.  I messed around with it and added some information about margin spacing – had NO idea how to go about it or if it was THE way to nudge the text to the left of the page but what was the worst that could happen?  It didn’t work?!  So, I tried and it worked!  I had noticed that in the sample text a line of code about margins ( margin-bottom:  20px; ).  I wondered if I were to write code on the next line for margin-left if that would move my text closer to the left side of the page.  Low and behold – it worked!  I played around with the spacing and the margins and anything else I could think of and came out with an awesome site title for my tn liberty blog.

Although now, I’m wondering how to move the Site Title and the description to the right side of the header…a perfectionist’s work is never done but that’s okay…i’ll figure it out because I know I can!

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Journal #4 – The Twitter, the Tweet, & Me

Standard

The Twitter, the Tweet, & Me

twitter-list

“Create some lists on Twitter related to your beat and other interests. Find some new people to follow related to your topic of focus and other interests. Start interacting with others in your area of focus. Describe what you did in your journal blog.”


So Twitter, we meet again.  Last week, after reading the Mashable Twitter GuideBook, I was feeling a bit more comfortable with the whole Tweetin’ thing.  It’s not that I don’t know how to tweet or dislike tweeting – it’s that i’m not the most comfortable with tweeting.  I often wonder – why tweet?

I mean, I get it – “live life in 140 characters or less.”  If you haven’t noticed – that’s not exactly MY motto.  In fact, I would feel rather hypocritical even pretending to use it seriously. However, I am a Political Public Relations person – I suppose I should become “twiterate” quickly.

In order to move forward in becoming “twiterate,” there is this thing called organization through list-making that I must attend to.  Great – organization – another term that typically escapes me – especially in the social media world.  I never got into “lists” on Facebook and finding bookmark on my browsers was like searching for a needle in a haystack until recently.  I’m good at organizing and work stuff is always well-organized but my personal life is always lacking in organization.  I have specific places for all my clothes and expensive hangers and drawers on which to put them, but somehow yesterday’s clothes (last week’s clothes) are usually found tossed over a chair and several pairs of shoes are lining the hallways and rooms of my house.  Maybe the word I am in need of here is none other than motivation…or time.  Yes…time.  That’s probably the one.

But…I  figured that not every person who sings the praises of Twitter Lists could be wrong and maybe, just maybe it would make Twitter more Robin-friendly – especially for my new TN Liberty blog.  This way I could easily keep track of each section of Tennessee.  Hopefully, this list-making would keep me from overlooking any current events and grievances, state legislation, and news specifically relevant to the state of Tennessee and the issues of the Liberty Movement.

So in keeping with my new found organizational spirit, I started making those pesky lists.


twitter_bird_follow_me twitter list


The next step was to finally download TweetDeck – a dashboard/app type device that supposedly makes Twitter more organizable and easier to use.  Done.  If you’re interested in using TweetDeck, Google Chrome browser has a nifty free app/extension that you can download, by clicking here.

Then, as I began to rifle through the 840 people that I’m currently following, I decided that one of my future steps would be to give the ol’ Twitter a good spring cleaning.  Not today – but someday soon.  Before reading the Mashable Twitter GuideBook I really didn’t understand that Twitter was “different’ than other social mediums in terms of the following/follower relationship.  I felt that because some random nutjob followed me that I owed it to him/her/it to follow back.  Does anyone want to take a guess as to what that left me with?  Yep – a whole lot of weirdos, nutjobs, and people I am tired of hearing from every 2 minutes.  But, for now, the  nutjobs would remain.

Once I had TweetDeck up and running and started to use the +Create lists button, I began to remember why I am not a social media organizer.  There are too many crossovers – too many possibilities – nothing is cut and dry!  What is an over-analyzing follow freak to do?

You guessed it!  I made a ton of Twitter Lists.  I’m not sure I’m any more organized now than I was before.  When I think about it, I kind of liked the haphazard Twitter feed.  I would see a tweet about politics or a Young Americans for Liberty meme, right before one about a new journalism startup or a restaurant opening in memphis, followed by a friend posting another story explaining the anti-feminist culture of television or a guy friend explaining how he “leveled up” (whatever it is called these days) on WoW or Skyrim, followed by an album release date by The Dirty Guv’nahs, Jason Isbell (a Tiger alumni by the way), and Lucero, or a neat fact from Pew Internet or UberFacts and the most recent Tiger Basketball score.  It kept me current and well-rounded.

At that moment is when I realized that I would use the Twitter Lists when I needed them to make sure I was getting all the pertinent news for my TN Liberty blog but I would keep my news feed formatted in the way that made me who I am today, for daily viewing.

As I started to put the people into groups, the cross-overs and the decisions about what stockfresh_id322778_shouting-bluebird_sizeXS-300x300type of group they should belong to, began to make me crazy.  I couldn’t decide where these people should go.  Were they a newspaper or a media news organization?  What if they were a friend but also a musician?  How about a member of the Liberty movement and a classmate?  What if they weren’t exactly a Liberty Organization but they weren’t a real person either?  All this classification was unnatural.  Aren’t we taught to not classify people?  I was finding this to be quite challenging.

So, I took a deep breath and did the best I could.  Some people and organizations overlap.  I guess that ‘s life though.  Nothing is ever neat and perfect.  You have gray areas and cross-overs, friends that belong in more than one group, and friends you don’t know what to do with.


Here is a list of my Twitter lists:


use twitter listsFor more about Twitter Lists, check out some of these helpful articles:

The Complete Guide To Using Twitter Lists Like a Pro by 

TWITTER LISTS – A VISUAL BEGINNER’S GUIDE by Dorien Morin van Dam

How to Get Started With New Twitter Lists by Amy-Mae Elliott at Mashable

8 tips for using Twitter Lists by  at Poynter

How to use Twitter lists to replace Google Reader by Allyson Kazmucha

Twitter Lists Explained: How to Create, Find and Get On Them by Amanda MacArthur

Twitter lifts the limits on Lists by Jack Schofield for Jack’s Blog

Twitter Enhances Lists: 4 Ways To Take Advantage by Steve Cooper at Forbes

Twitter Lists – The Complete Guide by Twitter Power Systems Blog

Make the Most of Twitter Lists: Essential Tips and Tricks by  at  GeekSugar

HOW TO MAKE TWITTER LISTS by   at Digital Trends

twitter groups



Journal # 3 – Topic Blog Influencers

Standard

Topic Blog Influencers

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“Develop a list of at LEAST three other blogs or Web sites that meaningfully address your topic of interest.  For professionals, a blog is often a “hub” for other social media activity occurring around the web. Summarize and evaluate some of the key features of each blog or site using bullet points on your journal blog.

Answer all of the following questions: What kind of problem do these websites/blogs help solve for their audience and/or what needs do they fulfill? What do they do well? What could they improve? Can you identify any gaps in their content or features that a competitor could fill, and how is what you could offer different or better? Look at their social media presence and the comments or interaction they get: Are they cultivating an active community around their site?”


My Topic Blog, TN Liberty, is a forum in which to share information about news, events, politics, and laws concerning our state. All conservative and liberty-minded activists, students, campus and community leaders, and voters, are encouraged to contribute. TN Liberty, is also a location for resources concerning bills up for approval, TN Congressional representative’s contact information, statewide and county events, activism advice, mentorship, and grassroots training, among other issues as needed and requested. TN Liberty serves as an extension of the TN and MS Leadership page on Facebook and may ultimately be followed with a MS Liberty blog. There are contributing writers on topics concerning the Liberty Movement in Tennessee, liberty-minded issues, and various opinion columns.

For this assignment I started by searching for other bloggers who are advancing the liberty movement. I found that many of these sites were highly specialized and a little on the fringe. That is not the type of blog that I want TN Liberty to be. I feel that it should be specialized by pertaining to the state of Tennessee, but it should also contain information about why the Liberty Movement is so important, how our government is violating the Constitution, and what actions a citizen, can take to advocate for Liberty and Freedom.

Next, I found an interesting site that ranked the top libertarian leaning (or liberty-minded so as not to be confused with the Libertarian Party) websites according to Alexa and Compete.

Here I settled on several top ranking and well-known liberty-minded sites to which I could make some comparisons.

They are as follows:

Reason

The Liberty Paper

The Liberty Crier


Let’s start with Reason.

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  • Reason is the monthly print magazine of ‘free minds and free markets.'”
  • “It covers politics, culture, and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews.”
  • Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity.”
  • Reason.com is updated daily with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. It also contains the full text of past issues of the print edition of Reason.”
  • At first glance, reason.com looks a little messy in terms of visual appearance.  A little cluttered and although I understand that this is because the site’s home page is the first stop for ReasonTV, Reason24/7, the Hit & Run Blog, and stories from the printed magazine, as well as the location for Top News Stories (sortable by Featured and New) and a lot of advertisements.
  • Reason is financially backed by a national non-profit and thus, has the ability to aggregate thousands of news stories as well as employ a staff of over 50 for the website.  However, I believe they could significantly improve their website by maximizing the white space and uncluttering the articles.  It could look much cleaner.  Once you click on the headings for the different sites within the site, they pages get a bit cleaner and more visually appealing.
  • TN Liberty is a more more localized blog/site and will not need to run every single news story and headline that potentially has anything to do with liberty or liberty politics.
  • Reason does enjoy a fabulous social media presence with stories and photos shared through their Facebook  page and on their Twitter each day.  On Twitter, Reason has over 130K followers and on Facebook, over 125K likes.

Next, we examine The Liberty Paper:

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  • The Liberty Paper  is a web-based news site commentating and reporting on legislation and events, which affect the American peoples’ liberty domestic and abroad.”
  • The Liberty Paper was launched in the summer of 2012, by political commentator and legislative lobbyist, Michael Lotfi.”
  • “To date, TheLibertyPaper.org has enjoyed an ever-growing, loyal fan base, which has generated hundreds of thousands of readers in more than 140 countries around the world.”
  •  TheLibertyPaper.org is updated only semi-regularly with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. If you look at the current home page, you will see that the most recent article posted is from January 27th, 2014.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org is also riddled with advertisements and donate here boxes.  I understand why Michael Lofti would choose to accept advertising and donations – hopefully, someday soon, the TN Liberty blog will also accept advertisements and donations.  However, I feel the visual esthetics of the site could be cleaner and the ad placements more controlled.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org is run by a friend of mine.  He is a recent graduate of Belmont College in Nashville, TN and a well-known activist in the state.  However, I have mixed opinions of his work, his self-promotion, and his ability as a journalist.  Each story is riddled with grammatical errors to say the least.  He was also given a column at the Washington Post.  On his first article, there were complications and the post was ultimately removed due to his lack of due diligence and his reporting false information.
  • TN Liberty is will certainly provide a more grammatically correct site as well as one that is more visually appealing.  However, it will not focus as heavily on National stories and investigative muckracking.  I hope to provide a forum in which concerned residents of the state can ask for advice as well as receive news – especially that which is most pertinent to their area.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org does have a social media presence with stories and photos shared through their Facebook  page and but no Twitter as far as I can find.   On Facebook, it has just a little over 4K likes.

Finally, let’s take a look at The Liberty Crier:

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  •  The Liberty Crier is updated daily with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. If you look at the current home page, you will see that the a rotating Top Story Box
  • The Liberty Crier is a very visually appealing blog sites with a lot of features.  The masthead is clean and displayed prominently.

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  • Some other interesting aspects that The Liberty Crier features are categories for:

1. Top Headlines

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2.  Member Blog Posts

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3.  Documentaries

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4.  Channels

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  •  The Liberty Crier seems a bit lacking in their social media presence with their Twitter receiving only 1200 followers.  Their Facebook page has only 8.9K likes.  This seems rather odd to me because it is not being a new website.
  •  I envision the TN Liberty blog looking closer to this blog/site than any of the others in this review/comparison.  I also plan to add a forum for discussions among Tennessee residents and allow for contributing writers as well.  The main difference will be that TN Liberty will be localized plus – it will have a much bigger social media presence.