By: Daniela Vitobaldi
Around one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experiences some form of disability. Yet, when it comes to online content, most companies and organizations do not consider the disabled community when creating their digital public relations or marketing campaign strategies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines disability as “any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.” There are many different kinds of disabilities, but the majority fall into one of four categories: vision, hearing, motor or cognitive. When it comes to accessing digital content, having a disability can make it extremely difficult for someone to browse a website, scroll through social media or shop online. As someone who has lived with a cognitive disability her whole life, I know how important it is to be seen and feel like your needs are being met.
So what can companies today do to accommodate those living with disabilities? That’s where accessibility comes in. Accessibility, or accessibility marketing, is when an organization’s products, services and digital media are designed so everyone can experience them-including the disabled.
When brands fail to modify their digital content to benefit the disabled community, not only do they seem out of touch but they are missing out on a large number of potential customers, subscribers, followers and more. However, large corporations are not the only ones that can utilize accessibility marketing tools. Bloggers, vloggers, influencers and small businesses can use them as well. There are plenty of simple things anyone with an online presence can do to make their content more accessible to everyone.
Here are five ways brands (and you) can make online content more disability-friendly:
1. Utilize closed captions and audio descriptions for video
One of the most helpful tools you can use for those who are deaf or hard of hearing is closed captions. While many video platform sites such as YouTube have the option of adding auto-generated captions to almost any video, it is more effective when content creators write and add the captions themselves. This is because captions from these sites can often be inaccurate and contain errors. Closed captions are not only beneficial for people who have a hearing impairment but for those who may speak a different language from that which is being used in the video. It is also important to include captions for actions that are not being spoken or happening off-screen. For example, “footsteps approaching” or “loud bang.”
An audio transcript is another tool that can be used along with videos in addition to closed captions. Many people with cognitive or learning disabilities can have trouble keeping up with the pace of a video’s audio. By including a downloadable transcript, those viewers are able to experience the video at their own speed.
For people who are blind or have low vision, audio descriptions are a great way to make videos more accessible. These are spoken descriptions of the action taking place in the video. An example of an audio description would be, “tall man in a blue suit walking down the sidewalk” or “little girl in a dress holding a pink balloon.”
2. Include ‘alt tags’ for still images
An alt tag, or attribute as it is sometimes called, is the hidden HTML text that describes every photo. It is the text that often appears when a mouse hovers over a picture on a webpage. Normally these descriptions are very basic such as “a dog” or “girl.” But for people who use screen readers, devices that read text aloud, these vague descriptions are very unhelpful. In order to best serve those with vision impairment, it is important to be as detailed as possible when creating alt tags. This way when the screen reader comes across a picture on a site, it will be able to describe the picture for the listener more accurately. Below are two examples of alt tags:
Okay: <img src=“pancakes.png” alt=“pancakes”>
Better: <img src=“pancakes.png” alt=“Stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup”>
Not only do descriptive alt tags have the ability to help people who are visually disabled but they can also greatly improve SEO, or search engine optimization. By adding more detailed descriptions, it makes it easier for the ‘spiders’ that crawl the web to better match your image with searches on sites like Google and Bing. These spiders are not programmed to see photos like humans do and rely mostly on descriptive text when gathering information for search rankings. Therefore, the better the description is, the higher your search ranking will be and the more visitors your site will get.
For social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, an easy way to add a photo description is to include it at the bottom of the post. Recently, it has become more common to see something like “Accessibility text:” followed by a short description of the image used. Similar to alt tags, the screen reader will scroll through each post and read the description of the photo out loud to the listener.
3. Be careful when choosing font types and text sizes
When it comes to fonts, sans serif is preferable over serif. The simplicity of sans serif makes it easier for those with cognitive or vision-related disabilities to read compared to serif fonts that tend to have varying thicknesses and more decorative details. It is also best to avoid using italics whenever possible. Text size on the other hand should be at least 12-point font or larger; anything smaller is virtually unreadable for someone with low vision. Lastly, try not to use all uppercase letters when writing. This can create challenges for readers, especially those who have dyslexia or autism.
4. Practice smart color choices
For people who experience color blindness, it can be difficult for them to differentiate between certain colors. The colors most associated with color blindness are yellow, blue, red and green. When creating digital content, it is best to avoid pairing these colors in order to prevent confusion. If you are using only colors to convey meaning or information, you should also include a text description so the user can better interpret your message.
Contrast is also important to consider. Make sure that the text color has a high enough contrast with the background color. For example, you wouldn’t want to use light blue text on a blue background. Normal text should have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 and 3:1 for large text. If you would like to know if your content meets these standards, there are some great online contrast checkers such as this one: aka.ms/webaimcontrastchecker.
5. Remember to punctuate abbreviations
When using abbreviations or acronyms, it is important to include punctuation in between each letter. For example, CIA should be written as C.I.A. This way a screen reader will know to say each letter separately rather than reading it out as one word (i.e. cia).
Accessibility does not only make good business sense but more importantly it is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves to get what they want and need with equal opportunity, especially people living with disabilities. I believe accessibility is the future of digital public relations and marketing communications. When brands make their online content more inclusive, everybody wins.
To learn more about accessibility, check out Judy Brewer’s 2019 TEDx Talk from MIT. Brewer is the Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative for the World Wide Web Consortium, an international organization dedicated to creating standards for web accessibility. To view her video, click here.
By: Ariana Richard
Some people struggle with writing, others struggle with math. There appears to be no in-between. For me, I struggle with math. I have struggled with math my entire life, and almost every summer since the 2nd grade, I would have to retake the same math course over again. I would go through countless tutors, go to office hours with my teacher, and still, nothing seemed to help. I began to realize early on that this was a problem that could not easily be fixed by tutors. This was a problem that was persistent and needed to be addressed a different way. In the summer of 2016, I was diagnosed with Dyscalculia. I had been diagnosed with ADHD a few years before, and my parents and I soon found out that Dyscalculia is linked to ADHD. The Google definition of dyscalculia is, “having severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations, as a result of a brain disorder.”
There are a few ways that one can overcome the struggles of dyscalculia. According to Brain Balance, the five ways are:
1. Talk or Write out a Problem
A lot of people who have ADHD, and/or dyscalculia, find that visual learning is a lot easier than verbal learning. It appears best for the student to talk or write out a mathematical problem for them to better understand it.
2. Draw the Problem
When someone who has a learning disorder writes/draws out a mathematical problem, they are more likely to understand how to go about it a lot easier, than figuring it all out in their head.
3. Break Tasks Down into Subsets
It is difficult for someone with dyscalculia to finish a mathematical problem without breaking it down first. For somebody who has a hard time with numbers, more often than not, they end up getting the wrong answer. This is why it is important to break down the problem into separate parts, so that one can more easily understand the path to getting the answer correct.
4. Use “Real-Life” Cues and Physical Objects
Using props such as measuring cups, rulers, or even toys can help ease the stress of a dyscalculic student. Using these types of objects can help one’s mind grasp information much easier than trying to think the numbers out in one’s head.
5. Review Often
Math can be a very difficult subject for some. It requires, in some cases, insight, practice and time to fully understand the mathematical concepts of a problem. For a dyscalculic student, it generally requires a lot more time than the average student. It is necessary for dyscalculic students to try and review mathematical problems every day, and try not to fall behind in general.
It is important for students with dyscalculia to learn how to tackle math in ways that work for them. With dedicated time, help, and courage, dyscalculic students can learn to function when it comes to doing well in their math classes, as well as mastering math in the future.
Your personal brand needs to positively reflect your reputation.
By: Angelica Perez
Image from @scalbsu on Instagram
The Student Communication Association (SCA) from CSULB held a “Building Your Personal Brand” workshop on February 11, 2020 to help students on how to professionally represent themselves on the Internet. The workshop was detailed with helpful tips that every student can benefit from, especially in this day and age where having a digital presence is essential if you want to have a career in PR, marketing, journalism, etc.
1. A strong brand is consistent
In order to get the most engagement, you need to aim to post at least three to four times a week. They can be regular posts or stories but staying consistent shows your audience that you are active and the more consistent your messaging, the more consistent your branding will be. You need to make your audience aware of your product, aka you. A great tool to make sure you are posting often is Hootsuite. This website helps you track and manage your social media channels.
2. The 50-30-20 social media strategy
This rule is a great way to outline your social media marketing efforts. It is suggested to have 50% of engagement (memes, behind the scenes, jokes, things you are involved in), 30% is to inform (educate your audience) and 20% is for promotion (plug your own programs, activities, events and yourself). It is important to have a good amount of different content or else you will bore your audience.
This tip is very important because if your personal brand is not credible, then no one will take you seriously. Make sure your grammar is perfect in every social media post because people will be judging if it is not. A helpful tool to help you is Grammarly, especially when you are writing blogs. Grammarly automatically detects spelling, punctuation, word choice and style mistakes.
4. Expand your knowledge on more resources
To be a well-rounded skilled person, you should learn how to use different programs. A few that will help you look like a talented individual are Canva, Adobe Spark, Adobe Suite, Google trends, Mailchimp and Audacity, just to name a few.
5. Google yourself!!!!
Cleaning up your social media profiles has to be the most important tip anyone can give you because you do not want to be seen as a negative person for something you posted online many years ago. It is highly recommended to take the time to go back to your old posts and delete anything that you think your target audience will not like.
Presenting yourself in a positive way online is very important for your future career. It makes you look professional and it helps give off great impressions when people see your online presence. Once you follow all these steps and learn how to brand yourself online, then you are ready for the real world.
Marvel vs DC (Marketing Edition)
By: Gabriela Castro
Superhero movies have become a big staple of entertainment over the last decade. Marvel and DC have come a long way since the 1960s, where superheroes were just silly characters straight out of television series to films where there taken seriously than ever before. Marvel and DC both have the same objectives but comes in different outcomes. Marvel Studios has a game-changing and well planned out strategy that helps their movie schedule while DC does have a lineup but is still scrambling.
Disney's Marvel studios started created films back in 2008 with the start of Iron man and the birth of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Marvel has been dominating the movie industry over the last decade by earning $22.5 billion, thanks to its game-changing marketing strategy.
Some of the marketing techniques that marvel has been using were VFX visual effects. Notice that many, their trailers have been edited, so the fans would not be spoil and it makes the fan speculate the plot. It is a technique they been using over the last few years and has become very successful. In the Averages Endgame, you will notice that the final trailer has many editing details they left out. The studio does not want the viewers to know how the movie will end. The directors' Joe and Anthony Russo stated they want the marketing for this film to be as critical as possible to the point where only the first 30 mins of the footage only to be shown in their trailers. That technique did succeed, and most fans and critics were impressed by the surprises and shocking moments of the film.
Picture by MarketWatch
Superman, there was much criticism among critics and fans due to the over amount of details of the movie plot, adding more characters, and releasing a ton of film clips and trailers too highly publicize the movie. The significant problem that Warner bros been having over the last few years, the studio is taking over their marketing control so they can try to appeal to their audience. Marvel has since been very critical when it comes to marketing and they work so hard by showing as little as possible by not revealing the whole plot of their movies. Warner Bros seem to be showing the entire plot through their trailers and clips. Other films such as Justice League has suffered the same faith as Batman v Superman did. Justice League was supposed to be a box office hit, but it both bomb so hard, the film barely made any box office revenue. Fans and critics hated the movie, stated that the movie has already revealed most of the footage from the trailers and nothing new was put into the final cut. As pictured below, the only film to have success ever since the DCU launched was Wonder Women.
Picture by Wall Street Journal
Solution for DC
My take on Warner Bros, the number one problem that has to get a fix, is their entire marketing strategy and learning how to plan. For example, during the marketing of Endgame, the director's Joe and Anthony Russo wanted only to show the first 30 minutes of the film. I find it interesting because they care about this movie so much that they want fans and critics to feel satisfied and successful. Planning has to be their number concern, Warner bros have to be grounded, meaning they will not be involved. Their marketing teams should take over on how the film presented so that way Waner Bros do not have to struggle like they are already are.
5 Easy Tips For Reducing Your Environmental Impact
By: Amber Viramontes
Image source: https://www.tpi.ie/the-pursuit-of-global-environmental-sustainability/
Being a college student is already tough enough. Aside from juggling work, rent and school, we have the impending thought of our world dying and the “but there’s nothing I can do to help...” thought too. Well, you’re wrong. There is so much you can do! There are simple ways to be more sustainable in our everyday lifestyles. There is a widespread trend of “Going Green” across the world right now to address the climate change problem. CSULB takes pride in their sustainability efforts to help fight the climate crisis. Here are some tips on how to be a more sustainable college student.
Who wouldn’t want to be more sustainable?
1. If you haven’t already, hop on the reusable water bottle train
Plastic pollution is a leading factor in the warming of the earth. Plastic pollution generates and emits greenhouse gases that cause the climate to heat up. All those
one-time use plastic water bottles are never really disposed of. Plastic water bottles take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
2. Borrow, rent, or share a bike or scooter
If you live close enough to campus to ride a bike or scooter, then do it. Not only are you avoiding Long Beach State’s nightmare of parking, but you are also reducing your carbon footprint. Carbon emissions are another main cause of climate change. By not driving a car, you are reducing carbon emissions.
Let’s save energy. As public relations students we utilize our electronic devices for almost everything. Powering down our devices when they are not in use helps reduce energy usage immensely. Unplugging our devices at home helps save energy too.
4. Thrift what you need
I think we can agree that money as a college student is a little tight. In that case, buying second hand items from a thrift store can help you save money and help our earth too. Over-consumerism depletes our natural resources and produces a lot of waste. Avoiding buying new things helps reduce the use of new resources and helps reduce waste too.
5. Eat less meat
Think about the cute cows and piglets. Just kidding. Not really though. The agricultural industry is one of the climate crisis’s biggest enemies. Raising and preparing meat produces a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Almost twice more than growing and harvesting vegetables. On top of that, more than 2,000 gallons of water is used to produce just one pound of meat. Yep, just one pound. Cutting meat out of your diet just one or two times a week can help more than you think.
You see, there are many simple ways to be more sustainable. Try some of these tips some time and soon enough they’ll become healthy habits that help fight the climate crisis.
Tips & Tricks to Save As a Student
By: Samantha Trosi
No matter how you slice it, college isn’t cheap. Sure, you can get a 10% discount at Target or a $2 coupon on a one-time purchase at the local Starbucks. But what about the things we really need to elevate our college experience? Here is a list of the top discounts and services to help you cut corners and look good doing it.
Professors love to talk about all the cool stuff we get just for being a student. A lot of us groan and roll our eyes at the idea of watching some sort of tutorial or video on our own time. I get it. We’re swamped with classes and assignments, but hear me out on this one. LinkedIn Learning has an extensive collection of videos made by top experts and professionals in almost any field. Confused about what to wear to your first interview? LinkedIn Learning has a video for that. Want to brush up on your graphic design skills to wow an upcoming client? It’s got that too. It’s available on mobile as well and completely free for CSULB students. Plug those AirPods in and get to learning.
Ok, I’ll admit it. This isn’t really a student discount. It’s even better because it’s free. Canva is legitimately the fastest way to create logos, layouts and designs for practically all your marketing and PR needs. A free account gives you access to a variety of shapes, designs and templates that can be tweaked and modified to represent your personal style and brand. You can download your designs for free with little hassle and without some lame watermark.
Apple Student Discounts
Sorry, PC lovers. Apple products are a fan favorite among college students. According to recent studies, 71% of college students own or prefer using a Mac and nobody is confused as to why. Built-in products like iMovie and GarageBand make multimedia editing a total breeze for PR and journalism students. Lucky for us, they have student discounts and special education pricing. It varies between products and applications, but if you bring your student ID, you’ll reap the rewards.
Adobe Creative Cloud
This right here is the holy grail. Remember all that talk in your PR Principles class about convergence? How public relations, marketing and advertising are becoming more entwined every day? Well, here’s your chance to brush up on those design and editing skills basically for free.
Adobe Creative Cloud includes programs like InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. Programs you’ll definitely use to create content like newsletters and maybe even press kits. Normally it’s $59.95 per month. Even the regular student discount is hefty at $19.99 per month.
But get this. For CSULB students, it’s only $20 per year.
Did you just hear the record scratching too? Not only can you download all of the applications you want on your personal computer and mobile device, you can also log in on any of the labs on campus to access projects you’re currently working on, fonts and all.
Take my advice. Take advantage of these discounted applications while you can. The knowledge and experience you’ll gain from using them now, while they’re still affordable, will only benefit you as you step into your next step professionally. Now, get to it!
What is the trick to accentuate your overall image?
By: Hector Tepayotl Zarate
Having a professional social media presence can be instrumental to an aspiring public relations professional. PR practitioners can be passed over for positions and promotions because of content posted on their social media accounts. While social media can be useful in the creation of an online media presence, it can also highlight inappropriate or insensitive behavior. Here are some tips for effectively maintaining a professional social media presence:
Strategically and consistently post photos that highlight your aesthetic, hobbies and personal qualities. The trick is to post images that accentuate your overall brand. Never post images that compromise your character such as being drunk, participating in drugs or any other offensive content. For a more detailed list of what not to post on social media, head over to Business Insider.
2. Captions and Comments
Although many social media pages are image driven, well written captions and comments are essential to the overall development of a professional social media presence. Strategic communication can be effectively implemented by typing cohesive, punctual and entertaining captions and comments.
Memes have become embedded in all forms of social media. Not only are they entertaining but some are also informative. Take a look at what Forbes had to say about memes. Although memes are prevalent throughout all social media channels, it is crucial to not post or reshare any potentially controversial or insensitive content on your personal account. Just because you didn't create it doesn't mean you can't be associated with it if you liked it or reshared it.
For the aspiring PR practitioner social media can be essential in effectively creating an online presence but make no mistake, not everything of your personal life should be shared with the world. Always be mindful of the photos uploaded, captions and comments, and content reshared. A good piece of advice to keep in mind is, would you want your future employer to see this? If the answer is no, then it's probably a good idea to keep it to yourself.
An Introduction to InDesign in PR
By: Clarissa Nazarea
Photo Credit: Jaber Lounes
I never really associated design in and public relations. I always thought my career in PR meant writing press releases or creating content for social media. MAN WAS I WRONG! First, let me give a brief introduction to what InDesign is all about. A definition derived from American Graphics Institute, “InDesign is a desktop publishing software application for creating flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers, and books.” Can you see what I mean now? How can you tell a story in this day and age without any visuals? If you’re serious about actually landing a job in this profession, to stand out from the crowd means you have to be well-rounded in ALL aspects of media.
How can this powerful tool change your strategic communication in PRplan and why is it so important? The answer is simple, professionals in this field are required to be quick-witted, Jedi Mmasters for crisis communication management. Creating great content with your a design identity can bring brand awareness to the next level. Here is a great example of brand awareness from Sugarfina:
Photo Credit: Oberlo
InDesign can be a little overwhelming in the beginning. Believe me when I say, I felt a little light headed when my design professor went over the different tools/options in the software. Fear not, my fellow PR students! Although I’m still learning, I’ve debunked some of those fears by utilizing a nifty website called Creative Could Tutorials. This website is the mecca for all Adobe tools from InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. You can even choose from beginner to experienced tutorials!
The most useful tool for me right now is: The Clipping Path. This tool will be your best friend for last-minute projects which may require you to use an image online. Adobe User Guide explains how to use it best:
Photo Credit: Adobe InDesign
The best way to use this software is to jump right in and start exploring what InDesign can do for your career. Trial and error is key! But once you get the hang of it, you will have a skill that is absolutely essential for our profession.
By: Katherine Hernandez
Transferring from a city college to Cal State Long Beach is a little overwhelming. It almost feels like moving to a different high school your junior year. To help others transferring in to CSULB, here are my top 5 tips. I hope it will ease ~some~ of your stress during your time here!
It’s hard for transfer students to get accustomed to the new campus, there’s a different vibe. When I told my friends that, they asked, “What do you mean it feels different?” And I just didn’t know how to answer. It’s unexplainable. But as transfer students you know what I’m talking about.
Instagram’s Strength in Numbers, and How They Were An Important Tool in the Resurgence of Vinyl.
By: Justin White
Picture taken from Amazon.com, via Google.com/ Images
One of the most popular ways music has been presented is on vinyl. Invented by Peter Carl Goldmark in the 1930s while he worked for Columbia Records, vinyl was the top dog until, around the early 1980s, when CDs were born and stole the spotlight. Almost immediately, advancements in technology grew at alarmingly rapid rates and vinyl began to lose the appeal it once had. With this growth and all it’s advancements, music technology took on different forms like mp3s, and then on to streaming where songs live solely on the Internet and can be accessed at any time without the listener ever having to leave home.
Around the time of the mid-2000s, a new form of media called Instagram was born, a form of media that boasts 60% of users being between the ages of 18 and 29 (a.k.a. millennials) according to business.com. Instagram allowed its users to constantly post pictures of whatever it is they wanted, which in turn fostered the creation of profiles that were frequently visited and liked for their dedication to certain aspects of life. For example there are profiles for weightlifting, like Pat Mendes or Morghan King; and profiles for fashion, like Julia Engel or Chiarra Ferragni. Vinyl even has profiles on Instagram. Whether it’s for brick and mortar stores, DJs, or simply just fans, vinyl has been able to find its place within this new media.
Most importantly, Instagram has brought fans of vinyl closer together. And it gave a once dying medium a voice by way of being able to constantly post pictures that tell a story only in a way imagined by those who are involved. Amoeba Records in the U.S., Curated Records in Singapore, and Tiny Record Shop in Ontario all have Instagram pages where they post nearly everyday about the going-ons in the store, adding in sporadic pictures of customers enjoying the store, which are clearly meant to pull on the strings of nostalgia that every millennial seems to have. Although, it’s not just nostalgia, it is a feeling of not wanting to be constantly subjected to a sound that has been dubbed as being too “plastic,” where as the music from the years of vinyl gave off a more “real” sound that is highly desired by younger generations.
Undoubtedly, the power of being able to advertise constantly, and curate your image pretty much to a “t” of what your vision is, makes for compelling content that can bring almost anything back from the dead. And if it wasn’t for the popularity of media like Instagram and Twitter, vinyl might still be riding on the coat tails of some of the more popular artists of our time, like Ariana Grande, or Kendrick Lamar. Instead we have the RIAA reporting that vinyl brought in a revenue stream of $395 million in 2017 alone. Even more insane is the fact that these results did not take into account the physical sales from record stores, which were estimated to be in the range of 16 – 17 million units in 2017.
In conclusion, thanks to the efforts of the younger generations of today, vinyl has found it’s way back into the mainstream view. With innovations like Instagram, younger generations have been able to share their love of vinyl with each other, showing the true strength in numbers. Showing that what they yearn for is something more tangible, something that allows interaction with music in a world where that has been all but stripped away. Whether vinyl will ever surpass digital fully is unknown, but one thing is for sure, and that is that vinyl has once again been given the value it deserves.
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