Thursday, August 13, 2009

T- minus 6 days

Only 6 more days of my internship, I really can't believe it! So much so that it is almost 1 am, I have to be up in less than 6 hours but since I have been remiss in updating this blog recently I figured I would reflect for a few minutes.

So with only 6 days left I feel like I have so much to do. A lot of organizing and making sense of everything that I have worked on this summer. Stephen(shoutout!), my manager, asked me to compile a Discovery Education Communications Intern Booklet to pass on to the next DE Communications intern. It has been a good project for me because it has forced me to think about the Communications Profession, everything that I have worked on while at Discovery Education and what lessons I have learned from the summer.

In addition to everything going on in Discovery Education, about 9 other interns and I volunteered to work on a project for Planet Green-- a Discovery network focused entirely on living a "green" lifestyle. Rob Jacobson, the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Planet Green, asked the Silver Spring interns about a month back to look into various social media platforms and evaluate how they can best be used, or not be used by Planet Green and their sister site A lot of time passed from when he offered us the opportunity to when we received more information about the project but we have a small, dedicated group working on the project. And might I add, all 5 Discovery Education interns volunteered to work on the project--- We are well represented! Our presentation to Rob is next wednesday and we have had very limited time to put it together but it should be an interesting experience and I am happy we have the opportunity to do things like present to top executives! We are all really working hard on this and I am excited for the presentation.

Ok now it is time for bed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Web 3.0?

Last week interns who were interested met with the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Planet Green, Rob Jacobson, via videoconference (its amazing what technology can do) to discuss a potential project with him. He wants the interns to explore different social media outlets that the Planet Green Network (the first 24 hour green living channel) can use to reach different people. We haven't received the exact details of the project yet but needless to say I am excited about what might be in store.

I spent some time before I started my internship reading about social media and I was astounded by how much information there is on the supposed Web 3.0 or the "Semantic Web." Here is a short video which describes the transition from Web 1.0, to Web 2.0 and now to Web. 3.0

In the past months I have just wrapped my head around the concepts of Web 2.0 and developments in the nature of the world wide web are being changed so quickly that I can't seem to keep up. I was reminded of Web 3.0 this weekend when I saw a commercial for new search engine which Microsoft has been marketing as a "Decision Engine" stating that the search functions bring more relevant results and organizes them in a meaningful way. This is all well and good since there seems to be an information overload on the world wide web but I am struggling to understand just how this will affect communications. I suppose it is something I will have to read up on more but once I understand it will Web 3.0 be long gone and Web 4.0 be up and running? I think it is important to understand the differences because they reflect a change in our technology and more importantly a change in our society. But Web 3.0 is in its early stages and I think it is too early to really tell how communications will be affected by it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wise words from David Zaslav

The 50 or so interns at the Silver Spring office had the pleasure today to meet with David Zaslav, the President and CEO of Discovery Communications. A very busy man, he took about an hour to come speak with us and answer some questions. I was pleasantly surprised with how real he seemed, in the sense that he was extremely powerful and influential yet extremely relatable. His message was simple and at the same time resonated with all of the interns: find what are passionate about and find what you are good at and try to build your professional life around those things. He reiterated that not everyone is good at everything and everyone is challenged by certain things. For the attributes that you lack or are challenged by, build in strategies in your work to improve these things but find a job which highlights your strengths. Always have a positive attitude because people will perceive you as being positive and want to work with your more.

Simple words but very helpful. I think everyone was happy to have the chance to listen to him speak and pleased to hear him talk about his experiences.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Edublogosphere

I spent some time last week looking in to the "edublogosphere"(yes, that is a real word, at least according to wikipedia)--- blogs which deal with the education and the future of the educational system. Before that I really did not delve too much in to the world of blogs. Aside from this blog, the blog for the Politics of Global Media class and my teenage livejournal, I really did not have too much knowledge of this world which seems to have taken on a life of its own.

Most of the most prominent edubloggers attended something called the Edubloggers Conference at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), which was held in Washington, DC the first week of July. It is interesting to note that one of the bloggers mentioned that he was treated with high regards by groups at NECC eventhough he was not a member of the press. This points to the shifting balance of power. While traditional outlets for media such as newspapers and trade journals, are still extremely important, blogs and alternative media are increasingly influential.

I find it so interesting how these edubloggers reference each other in their blogs--they are an online network of thought leaders. Many of them wrote about about the conference and meeting other edubloggers at the conference. One of the bloggers had an entry of "suprelatives" for people at the edubloggers conference. Once again I find it so interesting how this community of people who are connected across their world through the internet and their status as thought leaders in the educational system, makes most of their meaningful connections through conferences where they can meet in person.

It reminds me of an article I read by Gina Neff titled "The Changing Place of Cultural Production: The Location of Social Networks in the Digital Media Industry." Neff’s article is particularly interesting because it takes the opposite stance of some literature. While some literature understandably argues that the internet and new technologies reduce the importance of spatial relationships and distance, Neff’s study claims that spatial orientation becomes more important in some industries. She emphasizes the importance of social relationships and social networking in the context of digital industries.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Just for laughs

I received an email from blogger which put my blog on lockdown for a few days because it was targeted as a potential spam blog. How does blogger define a spam blog?

"Blogs engaged in this behavior are called spam blogs, and can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site."

So for the 3 people out there reading this blog, I'm sorry if you find it irrelevant, repetitive or nonsensical, I'll try harder to make it more interesting!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Communicate this

Communications is an interesting field and something that I find difficult to define. A communications person should be able to communicate about anything, no matter what the product or service of a company is. I am beginning to learn that it more the style of writing and the way of going about things that defines the roles of someone in communications. These are skills which are learned through practice and experience. The style of writing, the details of what needs to be said when introducing people, how to keep everyone internally within the company happy, or how to interact with media and outsiders are things that I think will come to me with practice. On an academic level these skills are complemented by studies about the effects of media, how media is perceived and the effect of communications technology, especially in the 21st century when there are so many outlets for communication.

The former president and CEO of Discovery Communications, Judith McHale was sworn in as the Under Secretary for Democracy and Foreign Affairs in May of 2009. What I find interesting is how she now uses the skills and knowledge she obtained in leading a large media corporation to essentially act as one of the cheif communications people on behalf of the American government. While Discovery and the State Department do not have the same mission, it goes to show that successful people can communicate any message.

When I think of communications people part of me always refer back to Aaron Eckhardt's character in Thank You for Smoking, a character who could put a positive spin or minimize negative spin on any issue with flare. At least when I get up in the morning I can be happy about the fact that Discovery Education provides useful and meaningful products and services, it makes reaching the ultimate goal a little bit easier.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Networking Networking Networking

Discovery Educator Network. Social Networks. Professional Networks.

I feel like I've learned a lot about the company in the past few weeks. Along with the online streaming services which Discovery Education provides, there are various professional development and networking opportunities for those who subscribe to our product. One of these opportunities is the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) which is a network of educators around the country who share resources, strategies and meet at professional development events. What I find most interesting about them is that they are a network based on online communications but their networking is most important when they meet at in-person events.

One way that we reach the DEN is through social networking sites such as our Twitter page. One of my assignments has been to create an editorial calendar of tweets to sprinkle in between the main online community coordinator's tweets. I have definitely learned a lot more about twitter and twitter culture in the past week than I definitely would have on my own.

Since I started as a freshman at AU, I have heard almost non-stop about "the importance of networking." As an 18 year old I didn't quite know what networking was, how to do it or how important it would be.

My manager is always introducing me to people and telling me to reach out to them for a half an hour of their time to discuss what it is they do at Discovery. I am meeting a woman for coffee on Friday who has a more international focus and works for the Global Education Partnership. We also occasionally have press strategy meetings with all of the communications people in Discovery (its where I get to hear all my Jon and Kate + 8 news) and I am interested to talk to those people and see what it would be like to work for one of the TV networks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And so it begins

I have so far survived my first 3 days of interning at a corporate media giant. Monday I spent most of the day in orientation with about 60 other interns learning about the history of the corporation, trying to meet people, and exploring the large labyrinth of a building that is the world Headquarters of Discovery Communications.

I am interning for one of the many branches of the company named Discovery Education; an almost completely online product which primarily provides a library of thousands of segmented educational videos for classroom use. It is an interactive product exemplifying the innovative nature of web 2.0 technologies and is already present in about 50% of U.S. schools and is continuing to expand to more U.S. school districts and international markets.

My on site manager is Stephen Wakefield who is the Communications manager for Discovery Education. We discussed a number of projects that I will be working on throughout the summer term:

1.) Formulate and Implement a plan to raise awareness of Discovery Education Products and services among current students in schools of education through the placement of stories about the use of new educational technologies and Discovery Education Services in college School of Education newsletters and newspapers. These placements will be merchandised back the sales team
2.) Write, distribute and follow up on the distribution of press releases following the DEN National Institute in San Francisco in July. She will then merchandise these stories back to the sales team
3.) Undertake a variety of research projects including research into emerging edubloggers, current state science coordinators, current state superintendents etc. In addition she will research past press releases for usable marketing quotes for the marketing team.
4.) Build and implement an editorial calendar that provides regular updates from the communications department on the DEN Twitter account

That is just an overview of my duties but new things come up each day. I still have a lot to learn but I am pretty excited about what the summer has in store.