One Last Hoorah

Well, the time has come to wrap up the worst semester of my entire life, submit the final blog post, and close the junior year chapter.

Full disclosure, I am listening to Lemonade as I write this.

The back half of EC457 was spent working with nonprofits, designing a proposal, and getting hands on experience with social media nonprofits. During this time, there have been also two books guiding the discussion and driving the actions behind the proposal. The first book is Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach, the second one is The Networked Nonprofit, by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine.I have spent a good chunk of time reading and evaluating both.Aesthetically the books are drastically different, yet they still have a few key similarities that cannot be ignored.

SIMILARATIES 

  1. Overarching Mission: Not surprisingly, both books have the same goal: How to use social media and an online presence to increase  awareness and build a following. To do this, both guides include pictures, graphs, and lists to get their various points across. on page 95 on NWNP there is an entire section on doing more by doing less, this is echoed in CSW in chapter one, it is the first tip presented within the book. Although they have slightly different focuses, both novels present similar information and
  2. Readability: Again, another obvious one: both books were easy to read and easy to follow along with. Personally I found CSW to be significantly easier to read because of its set up, however neither of the books had long chapters, or lengthy paragraphs. Both books include graphs that bring what the authors are saying to life. CSW introduces graphs within the first few pages of the book, whereas NWNP does not. NWNP also seems to have some outdated and irrelevant screenshots (see page 88), but alas they both emphasize the importance of visualizing the information and helping the reader understand what a good example of what they are discussing would be.

DIFFERENCES

NWNP ADVANTAGES: As the title states, this book focuses more on how nonprofit organizations should be interacting and promoting themselves online. Since a large portion of a nonprofit’s strategy plan needs to revolve around building relationships and story telling, this book focuses a lot of attention to the value of using social media to tell stories. They actually have more than one chapter about building a relationship and building a following.NWNP also  included more examples of various NP usage of social media. In fact, chapter five (pg. 59) goes into great detail about Planned Parenthood and their online strategy. This is helpful when discussing what works and what does not work and how to be successful. Further, because NWNP has such a niche focus, it is easier and more beneficial for them to have these types of examples throughout. At the end of every chapter, NWNP has both a conclusion and reflection questions for the reader to go over so they can apply whatever was just discussed to their own social media or online content as well as reflect on how to use the information given to them.

CSW ADVANTAGES: When looking at the two books, there are a few differences the reader will see before even opening the guides. CSW has thicker pages, a diverse and clean color scheme that is carried throughout the novel, as well as smaller sections and more chapters. CTW actually opens up with guide with a step-by-step list that proves to be a few easy tips on how to drastically improve an organizations content. This sets the stage for the remainder of the book. Like the name implies, this guide functions more so as a Content Strategy, which includes all web content that an organization will produce, not just social media or online funding. This becomes more obvious when CSW suggests that organization do an audit of their current content. This is not a practice that would normally be done on a Twitter or Facebook, rather this is something organizations should be doing on their website.

 

After reading the two books, the easiest way to explain the two books is a more humanities approach to web strategy (NWNP) and a more analytical “by the book” approach (CSW). After examining their approaches, information, writing style, and overall strategy, I think this is a fair assessment. Both books have advantages and disadvantages, and when used together, they set up an organization (non profit or for profit) to be successful online.

“Do I look like someone with a plan?”

Part Two.

In my last post I reflected on my recent changed of heart in regards to my major, and ultimately, future plans. This post is a continuation of that, where I hopefully come to some conclusion.

In the 3.5 years I have had twitter I have had two different bios.
My first one read: “Keep on dreamin even if it breaks your heart”.
(Yes this is a country song OK)
My second (and current) one reads: “Do I look like someone with a plan?”.
(No, this is NOT a reference to The Dark Night.)

If I had to explain myself in two sentences, I would say those two do a pretty good job.

When I was 17 and a junior in high school I took a personality test that told me I was as type A as you could get while still being a functional member of society. As I wrap up my junior year of college, I can’t help but reflect on everything that has changed the last four years. Specifically the previous 14 months. The last year and a half have really been a whirl wind of emotions, changes, and big decisions.

I’ve learned some lessons the hard way; I’ve consumed countless calories of banana ice cream; I’ve laughed until I cried with my best friend.

The Networked Nonprofit chapter five talks a lot about building relationships. I think one crucial element to building a NP as well as any social media account is the importance of building a following and being part of other followings. Thats how people get “Instagram Famous”, is it not?

I also thing this same mentality travels into other aspects of life as well. After I realized that maybe I don’t want to work with SM for the rest of my life, my internal monologue turned on and I started considering all of the things a do like rather than what I don’t. Focus on the positive, right????
Here is what I can up with:

  1.  I like to hike, snowboard, catch some sun, run around with my shoes off.
  2. On the flip side, I like putting on fresh lipstick and a black dress to hit the town.
  3. I like playing with my dog, even if she does interrupt my yoga (which I’m also into)
  4. I like that moment when you realize you want someone to stick around for longer than a quick minute because you’re not putting on a front anymore.
  5. I like to hangout with kiddos of all ages, however babies are by far the cutes. Recently I’ve found my self talking to high schoolers about life after high school and I dig it.

Its a little all over the place, I know. This summer I took a position of a “Wet N Wild” camp counselor, so I’ll be combining a few of these things and leading kiddos on camping and canoe trips. I’m hoping that even if it doesn’t give me any sense of direction, it’ll be a fun summer spent doing what I love.

And thats all that matters right now, right? So I temporarily don’t have a plan of attack, what of it? Does anyone? If I learned one thing coming up with the list of things I do like, it is that figuring out what I don’t like is a much longer trial-and-error process. If I have learned anything in the last year and the last few semesters at NDSU, it is that the people you surround yourself with are going to greatly impact the type of person you are and where you’re headed. Building Relationships is crucial. Just like the book says.

Maybe I’ll just strive to be Insta famous instead, maybe then I could do more yoga.

Until next time, stay rad.

-Ash.

A Quick Reevaluation

(This will be a two-part post)

As I wrap up my third(ish) year as a college student, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on what has lead me here and where I will be in a year or two.

A few posts ago I mentioned doing a follow-up assignment for a job opportunity I was presented with. What I failed to mention in that post is the existential crisis that the same exact follow-up assignment caused.

During that same post I discussed what motivates me to do better and be better.
(I’m still searching for the answer, P.S.)

A few posts prior to that I touched on my Freshman year and how I ended up being an English major after spending five years thinking I was going to be a doctor. What I failed to mention in that post is the reaction I got to this decision and the compromises that came soon after.

I guess we will just start at the start here then, huh?

The last fourteen months have been the craziest (and fastest) of my life.
A lot has changed, a lot hasn’t.

At the beginning of the year, I was doing some pretty intense research into Twitter and social movements, thinking that social media was really something I was passionate about. Soon after, I had to write an exceptionally long and in-depth report about what my post-graduation plans were.

I decided to write about both the PR field and the Peace Corps. For months I told myself that I would be equally happy about which one played out. However, in the back of my mind I knew one small factor would play a large role in which one worked out.

However this factor is no longer an issue. (This is a story for another time, though).

Through this class, various interviews and conversations, I have learned that I do not like social media. Sure, it is fun to think about funny tweets or track hashtags or come up with a witty Instagram caption, but beyond that? Not into it.

In the last few weeks I have come to realize that I don’t care about promoting pages or creating and tracking hashtags that relate to a campaign or even creating a campaign. I can’t joke around or sure satire or sass when I’m planning tweets for a company– and thats what I’m good at.

Sure, I know all the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I know how to create a successful and serious post to promote an event or product, but I don’t like it. 

So where does this leave me? I started the strat comm part of my education fall 2014 after being lectured about the lack of career options for English majors. I really liked comm too, I thought Twitter was really interesting and how companies promote themselves online and to the public was really something I wanted to study.

However I’m not passionate about it. In fact, I don’t even like it.

Now what. Stay tuned to find out.

Until next time, stay rad.

-Ash

 

#WhenIWas & Kid Cudi

In his more recent song, “Love” Kid Cudi sings:

“Don’t be so down, c’mon young homie
You’ll be okay, you’ll find real love
All of the stories, the hero gets lonely
Now is the time to show what you’re made of.”

I would not consider myself a huge Cudi fan, mostly because he isn’t one of my main go-to artists, however I do like a lot of his music. I would also say that I became an even bigger fan after he released this song and gave me a chorus to quote via text to fellow females friends after some heartbreak (yes I have sent it to kiddos, no I am not ashamed).

Speaking of heartbreak, yesterday (Tuesday April 19th) on twitter, #WhenIWas was trending. For those we didn’t see this hashtag, it was set up to bring attention to when and where women are assaulted, harassed, or put in a situation that made them uncomfortable due to their gender. Thousands of tweets poured in from women all around the country. Feminist organizations, such as the unslut project, joined in on the conversation as well. If you have not read any of these tweets or didn’t follow the conversation at all, go here and look at a few. It may break your heart while also open your eyes, but it is a very important topic. 

For a few minutes, I decided to be serious on twitter and here is my contribution to the larger conversation: Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 5.43.29 PM.png

What does this have to do with #EC457 though? This weeks prompt included the word “hero”, it may be a stretch but bare with me. Reading these tweets I kept thinking “Who is the hero here? Who is going to do the saving? Who needs to be saved?”.

Are the women throwing everything that has happened to them on twitter the heros?
What about women who have never been assaulted? What does that make them?
What about women, like myself, who can’t talk about it? What does that make me?

I mentioned in my about me post that I have a tumblr blog, which is actually called “I’ll save myself, thanks.

Online, I like to be ironic with a touch of self deprecating humor. Unless I am tipped off my something, I rarely use it as a platform for making political or social stances. Despite the fact that in a multitude of classes, I have done research on that exact topic. Does that make me a hypocrite? Do I need to be more upfront and progressive with my followers? Will that make me a hero?

Do tweets like the ones below actually help anyone? Or is more for me?

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 10.02.35 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 10.02.27 PM.png

This begs the question, do I want to be a hero online? Or do I want to stick with my irony and jokes? Do I want to contribute to larger conversations about issues that matter to me on the web? Or, do I stick to having these conversations IRL only?

Online, I find myself worrying about the way I come off because of my tweet or inta pics. If I create this avatar for myself and, in a sense, hide behind my tweets, where does that leave the “real” me? Are they different people? Or are they the same?

Que the 1/4 life existential crisis.

But hey, don’t be so down c’mon young homie.

I’m only 21, so there is no way I have all the answers here. I do know that trends like #WhenIWas are making a difference, even if the tweet wasn’t as funny and maybe didn’t feel as great tweeting out, it felt good to at least try to contribute to the conversation. It felt even better to bring something so heavy to the table and acknowledge the pain I did (and do) feel in relation to this topic. So in that sense, I would agree that having these sometimes painful conversations online can be incredibly beneficial and even if I can’t be seen as a hero for not being as open as everyone else, at least I’m being honest.

And hey, now is the time to show them what you’re made of.

Until next time, stay rad.

-Ash

P.S. While we are on the topic of Kid Cudi, here is a TEDx Talk he did that might change your life (I know its long but bare with it he means well).

Metafiction Exercise

English 318 Prompt: Metafiction, create a fiction protagonist who shares your name, then write a narrative and descriptive passage about what “you” think, see, and do; focus on emotion.

The morning after, Ashley got out of bed around 12:30 PM, “Fuck, missed class again” she said to an empty dorm room as she walked swiftly to the bathroom to vomit. Ten minutes later, after she began to come to terms with the sickening situation at hand as she checked her phone sitting on the nightstand. 15 unread messages, three calls, two voicemails. Daniel, the ex-boyfriend she would have liked to forget, was responsible for eight of these- “Why don’t you fucking kill yourself?” the first one read, she couldn’t stomach to go through the rest. Eric, the boy who “Put Ashley to bed” whom was also much stronger than she was, claimed two. “Hey last night was fun, maybe next time you won’t be as drunk? Haha” She threw up again, this time in her trashcan. She could taste the stomach acid in her mouth for the rest of the day.

Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other

This last Monday I was sitting at an interview trying to convince the young professionals across from me that I would be a great fit for their team and company. About half way through one of them asked me “What motivates you?”.

Que me blank staring into the camera like The Office.

Like the yuppie (in training) I am, I answered the question in a serious and professional manner and the interview continued. However, in the past 6 days I have been continually going back to it, what does motivate me?

Flashback to 2013, after graduating high school and enrolling in my first semester, getting out of Moorhead was my main motivator.

The following year, getting back to school and not dropping out (again) kept me going.

This year, however, it has been a little more complicated. I had a  lot of motivation this fall for a lot of different reasons, and even at the start of this spring semester I was feeling good and ready to strive for the top. However, I would like to go on record and say Spring 2016 has been the worst semester of my entire NDSU, and possibly college, career (thus far). However, I’m getting through it and in a matter of weeks it will come to an end and I know that everything will work out like it is suppose to..or at least that is what I’m telling myself.

But what is motivating me to get through it?

What is motivating me to get through this blog post?

I’ve been going back to the same screen over and over again the last week trying to pull some semblance of a post together that at least makes some sense. Yet, here I am, still trying to figure out what gets me out of bed in the morning and makes me go to work or class or the seven billion meetings I schedule.

The short answer would be good grades motivates me.
Doing well in school and graduating next spring keep me going.

I think we would all be lying to ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge that fear is a motivator as well. The constant fear of letting people down; the constant fear of being a disappointment; the constant fear of doing something wrong and screwing up my entire life.

Get rich or dye tryin’ is my motto, so I guess you could say being a high roller within the next five years motivates me. (However, let it be known that YES I love hip-hop but NO I do not love that album)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that similar to happiness, you kind of have to find your own motivation. You also have to evaluate your reasoning and figure out if its chill or nah. Further, sometimes you just loose your main motivation on a Wednesday night when you think everything is going fine, and thats okay. But you have to move on and find new reasons to get up and get going.

I’m still on the hunt for mine, I can assure you of that.

Until next time, stay rad.

-Ash

Networks, Life, and Some Waters

When asked a fun fact about myself, I always resort to the “I’ve attended four different universities” bit and watch as the crowd ponders how I’m still enrolled and on track at this point. Having attended so many colleges in different parts of the world has left me with a large contact list of people to call when it is 2AM and I’m crying on the bathroom floor of a gross bar (this, however, is a story for another time).

What does drinking vodka waters at 1AM with kiddos you won’t talk to in a year have to do with networking, though? Well, it has to do with connections; with bonding.

Do I like the taste? God no.

Do I like to people I get them with? Yes.

Do I like the nights we’ve shared and the stories we tell? Yes.

Those people and those connections are what get me through tough classes and even tougher situations. Be it shakey mondays (looking at you, Krolls) or midnight mozza stick runs, or even cold 4AM coffee, connections live off of these moments and events that are constantly happening in our lives. If we forget to live in them, then the connection will be lost.

Two weeks ago I ordered myself some business cards. Whenever I feel like I’ve lost control of myself or my surroundings, I say to myself “Ashley, what would a cool young professional be doing right now?” and then I do that thing. Two weeks ago, that thing was order business cards. Since standard shipping is a total nightmare, the cards got here around the same time as a few more tough days, but at least this time I had cool cards to look at to remind myself of all the great things I’ve done in the last nine months.

However, not all these networks and connections can make the cut. Sometimes you have to cut a few loose and let them go off on their own. Thats fine too, just like when you weed are garden or go through your Facebook friends list, sometimes they just have to go and you have to move on, regardless of how much it sucks.

Life moves so fast and people change so quickly that sometimes we forget to take a look around and evaluate who we are spending our time with and why we continually do so.

Until next time, stay rad.

-Ash

 

The Value Of “Unplugging”

A few months ago I made the decision to turn off push notifications for all my social media apps, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Currently the only things I get notifications for are my messages and calls, nothing else.

I’ve admitted that me and the insta go back and forth. The gram has an uncanny way of making you feel like your life is either significantly better than everyone else’s or significantly worse. For example, what do people post pictures of? Well, couples (duh), rad cities and sites, over-filtered selfies, nights on the town, impressive yoga poses. I’ve spent the last twelve months trying to convince all 300ish followers of mine that I have it all together, between my couple pics, Ireland photos, “artsy” shots of my dog, and comical captions, I’ve just been trying to reel in the stupid red hearts. The last few weeks I’ve realized that I no longer have photos that will fit in the categories listed above and it is really forcing me to evaluate who am I online and offline. Do I want to be someone thats keeping up appearances online?

I’ve admitted before that I care a lot about keeping up a certain persona online via Twitter. I mean, today alone I’ve changed my main picture over four times and it’s not even 11am.

What does this have to do with unplugging though? A lot, actually. In the last few weeks I’ve been in a weird place (this is the politically correct phrase, I checked). Aside from forcing me to take a closer look at why I have Insta, I’ve also come to realize that no amount of favorites on a tweet, or comments on a photo, are going to make me feel better. Turning my notifications on doesn’t change the fact that I’m still not receiving messages from the people I actually want to talk to, it just means someone I don’t even know favorited one of my tweets. And who does that help? No one.

By turning my notifications off, I’m forcing myself to have real interactions with real people in my life; I’m allowing myself to feel raw emotions without having to cover them up with satire, sarcasm, or self-ridicule for a laugh.

I guess what I’m trying to say is using social media as a way to escape the situation you’re in isn’t going to change the situation.

In final, I’m happy to announce that today I deleted 599 photos from my phone then logged out of and deleted instagram.

Also, if you don’t believe me/haven’t had enough, check out the last instagram post made by the GORGEOUS Ed Sheeran here.

Until next time, stay rad.

-Ash.

A Quick About Me

Hello!

I’m Ashley Hegeholz, a current North Dakota State University student. Here at NDSU I study English and strategic communication with an emphasis on public relations.

If you’re look for an explanation about my EC457 posts, information can be found here.

Otherwise, this blog functions as an online portfolio for my work both in and outside of the classroom.

My online resume from LinkedIn can be found here.