From the Ashes

The morning of October 9th is one I’ll never forget, not very easily anyway. It felt like it was going to be a normal Monday, like any other, as I went to bed around midnight the night before and set my alarm for 7:55, giving myself the usual 10 minutes to get out of bed and over to Dillon Rec Field for my sand volleyball class. Waking up at 6 am to my phone ringing was not necessarily how I wanted to start my morning, so I let the two calls go to voicemail before I got worried when my friend called for a third time, so I decided to check my messages. The first thing I saw were two texts from my best friend back home: “so does your family still have a house” and “In other news are you all okay”. Half asleep and completely confused, I didn’t respond right away and kept scrolling through notifications until I saw a text from my mom, “Call me when you wake up” followed by a series of texts she had sent earlier that morning: “There is a fire in [Santa Rosa]…The fire is headed our way so we evacuated…I just wanted to let you know in case you saw something on the news or social media.” The morning of October 9th was the first morning of the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County, which would ensue hell from the night of October 8th until its full containment on October 30th, destroying over 5,500 structures and taking the lives of 22 people, one of which was an acquaintance of mine.

I called my mom immediately, only to hear her crying when she answered the phone, so I  knew what she was about to tell me wasn’t going to me good. She didn’t know for sure, but our house was most likely gone. About twenty minutes later, she sent me a video that my youngest sister’s friend had taken of our street, and I literally couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Everything was completely gone. No standing walls, no burnt remains of homes, nothing. Just cement, charred remains of vehicles that had been left in driveways, and heaps of ash and sheet rock where the twenty-one houses on my street used to stand. My neighborhood, along with many other neighborhoods, look like bombs were dropped on them. All that remained were scattered chimneys, charred vehicles, and the concrete. It was easily, without a doubt, the eeriest thing I have ever seen — both in a picture and in person.

This was one of those things that I didn’t know how to process, and quite honestly, still don’t. We all hear about natural disasters occurring and devastating cities in other parts of the country or across the world, but we all never think it could happen to us — to our homes, to our friends and family, until it does. And there’s no handbook on how to handle it when it does happen. So here we are, almost two months after the fire, just now word vomiting all the emotions and thoughts that transpired in the weeks following the Tubbs fire.

Fast forward to the Friday following the worst of the fire. A friend and I had driven up the night before and got to Santa Rosa, only to find my family carrying on with life like normal, celebrating a birthday at my grandparent’s house. If we hadn’t known a fire had devastated the other side of town, we would have thought it was just a normal day in Santa Rosa. Once I got over to the side where my home had been, though, that immediately changed. The hill facing my freeway exit that had once housed two hotels and a historic, round, red barn, was now charred and barren. The shopping center across the street was leveled, along with many buildings and portions of the high school across the street from my neighborhood.

Being escorted in to see my home via the back seat of a Sonoma County Sheriff patrol car was inexplicable. My eyes were glued to the window, staring through bars at the vast devastation that still didn’t quite seem real. I remember sitting there, just mumbling “oh my god, oh my god” under my breath as we drove from the hospital parking lot to my neighborhood, less than two blocks away. It was night and day, the difference between the two. Everything west of the hospital stood untouched, while almost everything east was decimated. Walking onto my street was easily the strangest thing I have ever experienced. There was absolutely nothing left aside from the cars that remained in front of where homes had been and some scattered patio furniture that had survived. The sidewalk had literally melted and crumbled, breaking apart under our feet as we walked down the street to my house. I stood where my bedroom had been, in complete disbelief of what I was looking at. The only noticeable, distinguishable thing left in my room were the metal portion of a three-ring binder and the shower tiles from my bathroom that had collapsed into a pile.

I walked through our “house”, collecting dust and debris in the soles of my shoes as I paced back and forth. Getting to my friend’s house the next day and finding remnants of ash and sheet rock in my shoes was something that rocked me pretty hard.

And it rocked me just as hard over Thanksgiving break, as I went back to the house, walked through everything once again, searched for some jewelry that had been in my room, and left, once again, empty handed but with shoes caked in ash and sheet rock. I walked over to my car, tried to kick my shoes together and scrape some of it off, only to get in my car and make a mess of my floorboards, as I took my shoes off before I drove home. I sat there for a minute with my vans in my hands, looking at the white debris caked on them, coming to terms with the fact that my life, my memories — both tangible and conceptual, everything for the last seven years was stuck to the soles of my shoes. It stuck in my shoes for the rest of the day until I got to my family’s apartment and was able to wash my shoes off, as I complained to my mom and sisters about how big of a mess it made on the floor of my car. It’s been a week since that day, and I’ve yet to wash my car. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy and don’t care, or maybe it’s because I’m subconsciously not ready to fully let go of everything that ensued in the beautiful chaos of the past seven years on Willowgreen Place, but I normally keep my car immaculate, and I’ve yet to wash my floorboards.


We Should Love “Love, Little Rock”

When I think of a future location for the Amazon headquarters, Little Rock, Arkansas is most definitely not the place that comes to mind. And I think the city knew that for the majority of people, that would be the case—so they released their “Love, Little Rock” campaign with a full-page spread in the Washington Post. Genius? Yes. Appealing to Amazon? Maybe not so much, but now they’re thinking about it—and probably, so are other companies. The city put together a website for the campaign as well, which features 8 sections of why the city is appealing, ranging from “Innovative” to “Warm”.

Even if Amazon has no interest in placing their HQ2 in Little Rock, the city has made a great PR move with this campaign. Sure, the new headquarters will probably end up in a large city like Boston or Washington DC, but now other companies and other people will have Little Rock in the back of their minds. It’s a place that most likely wasn’t a first thought for most people, but now is one that people will remember because of this letter.

My hat’s off to you, Little Rock. Good move my friends, good move.

Halloween is NOT the New Christmas.

Let me start this off with a disclaimer: Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday. BUT, I also don’t love Christmas as much as most people. Sure, it’s a great time of year and I enjoy getting to spend time with family, but in more recent years, Christmas has become so much more materialistic in my eyes.

However, I disagree with the idea that Halloween is becoming the new Christmas. I think this article brings up an important point with the closing paragraph—yes, Halloween is getting bigger and bigger each year, and yeah, it would be cool for more brands to be as involved in Halloween as they are for Christmas, but they will never be the same in my eyes.

I’ll also agree with what the article states about Halloween no longer being a one day holiday, I have many friends that celebrated it for almost a week this year. But Halloween and Christmas are still on completely different levels. So many stores and places (ie Disneyland) start decorating for Christmas on November 1st. I was at Disneyland today and the majority of their Christmas decorations are already up. And I know of some people back home who saw Christmas decorations in stores like Walmart or Costco before Halloween even happened.

So sure, Halloween is becoming bigger and more popular, but I’m going to definitely have to disagree with what the article implies about Halloween becoming the new Christmas.

Double the Donations, Double the Respect?

ADWEEK recently wrote a piece on T-Mobile and how they are essentially doubling their donations for hurricane relief during the 2017 World Series with the hashtag #HR4HR, aka Home Runs for Hurricane Relief. The company launched a campaign that has pledged to donate $10,000 for every home run during the potential 7 game series and $1 for every tweet with the hashtag, #HR4HR, but it was announced Tuesday night that those figures will be doubled, so T-Mobile will donate $20,000 for every homer and $2 for every tweet, with proceeds going to Team Rubicon’s hurricane relief efforts in Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas.

I personally gained so much respect for T-Mobile, a company I have never been very fond of, after hearing about this—and I’m assuming I’m not alone in this. I would like to think that gaining respect or popularity is not the company’s goal with this pledge, but it will be a side effect, especially respect for the company. I think this is an incredible thing that CEO John Legere is doing. Yes, T-Mobile is the official wireless sponsor for the MLB, but that doesn’t mean this is “required” by any means. This is still an incredible gesture in my opinion and is most definitely giving me a newfound respect for the company.

Carl’s Jr. by Amazon? Its a No From Me.

“The best out of the box deal for the best boxes around”. I’ll admit, this is a catchy slogan. But the idea, not so much. Carl’s Jr. being bought out by Amazon is something that I personally don’t really see working out. I think Carl’s Jr. put together a great campaign, but it definitely could have been better executed. Parts of the presentation look very elementary, with large WordArt font and cheesy pie charts and diagrams.

The logo idea, on the other hand, I like it. I think the combination of the Carl’s Jr. Star with the Amazon logo as its mouth was something subtle enough that I honestly didn’t really realize it at first, but I really appreciated it once I saw it. It’s clean, and sure, it would probably never happen, but it’s a good combination of the two.

The business deal as a whole, I’m not a fan. I think it could have been better presented, better put together, and honestly, it just seems so incredibly random to me. It’s definitely out of the box, I’ll give them that, but it doesn’t seem reasonable or like something that would take off in any significant way.

Millennial​ Brands: Whose Top 10?

I’ll be completely honest. Some of these brands would probably be on my list of the list of the top 10 millennial brands, but others of these I definitely wouldn’t have, and others, I’ve never even heard of. (what’s H-E-B???) So let’s run through it:

The top 2 would definitely be on my list of the top 10 brands. But Facebook at number 1? Probably not. Netflix though, definitely. 100 percent. Every millennial I’ve ever met has an oddly unhealthy infatuation with Netflix. So that one totally makes sense.

Numbers 3 and 4 — heck no. I’ve never even heard of H-E-B, and Walmart would absolutely not be on my list. Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, definitely. But Walmart, no thanks.

Numbers 5 through 10 I have definitely heard of, but I don’t necessarily agree with the order or even having these brands in the top 10. Sure, Monster Energy Drinks are popular among the younger population, but I don’t necessarily think the brand would be in the top ten for the majority of the millennials I know. Granted, some of these companies are not available on the West Coast, but I personally don’t agree with the majority of this list.

The Good Ol’ Brands

Relevant brands of the early 2000’s were some of, in my opinion, the best to date. The fashion statements I had growing up, man, I know some people who would be envious of those even today. There were so many memorable brands and iconic looks to choose from that it’s honestly quite close to impossible to pick just one favorite, so I tried to narrow it down to my top three—here it goes:

  1. Limited Too. That’s all I’m going to say. Admit it, we all, at one point or another, owned those horrendous, flowy, Capri-cut yoga pants. We all begged our moms to take us to the store every time we went to the mall. It was beloved, but it definitely needed to end. RIP Limited Too.
  2. Abercrombie & Fitch. As much as some people might hate to hear it, this brand is definitely still relevant and probably still in most of our lives. I think I might still even have a pair of jean shorts or two from there. My two younger sisters still love it, although I don’t know how they can ever go in there due to the overpowering smell the second you walk in, or even just walk past the storefront.
  3. Adidas. Talk about making a comeback. This brand was basically dead from 8th grade until sophomore year of college, but now they’re right back on top. Every girl on my middle school volleyball team wanted the latest and greatest of Adidas sneakers as their volleyball shoes, and here I am, still wanting the latest and greatest of Adidas Originals. Bravo, Adidas, Bravo.

2017 Cannes Lion Festival: Thoughts

All of the videos I’ve watched that were at the 2017 Cannes Lions Festival were incredibly well done, thought-provoking, and emotionally moving. It’s hard to pick just three favorites of the nineteen examples, but here it goes:

  1. “We are the Super Humans” put together by Channel 4 is absolutely incredible. Not only is the video inspiring and a great advertising technique for the Paralympics, but it shows insight into the momentous achievements that far too often go unnoticed by the general public. Sure, the Paralympics may not be as popular as the Olympic Games, but they do not deserve any less credit or publicity, because, in my personal opinion, the feats these athletes accomplish are WAY more impressive than those of an Olympic athlete.
  2. The Immunity Charm is a fascinating product, one that should be implemented into countries worldwide. Doctors being able to instantly see what immunizations or vaccines a child has had would be a game changer for the world of pediatric health.  I was able to see first-hand the challenges that doctors face in rural communities during my time in South Africa regarding children’s health, so this product has the potential to radically change the healthcare field.
  3. “Fearless Girl”. Chances are, most people in the US have at least heard about the statue, if not seen it or know part of the story behind it, but if you’re like me, then you probably didn’t know that it was actually a campaign from State Street Global Advisors. The statue itself is a great symbol and something that, as a female, I’m proud to have standing permanently on Wall Street, but I think the video did a great job of showing it off as well. Including part of Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk, in the beginning, benefits the video in my opinion, because as the COO of Facebook, she’s done a lot for women in the workplace at higher levels.

Understanding the ‘Why’, not Just the ‘What’ of Public Relations

“What is my understanding of public relations?” This is a question that carries so much heat and is very heavily packed in a class like “intro to public relations”, where the focus of our learning is WHAT is public relations. By dictionary definition, public relations is “the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution; also: the degree of understanding and goodwill achieved”.

So what do I think it is? I think that public relations is the way in which a company, or an organization, presents itself to and communicates with the public. What I think I know of public relations is expanding, but what I know for certain is this: companies and organizations with good publicists and good PR campaigns gain consumers and followers in multitudes. Public Relations is a factor of what pulls you into a company, what gets you to buy their products. Companies like Apple have American consumers wrapped around their finger because of good PR campaigns, and college students nationwide are willing to drop a pretty penny for the newest iPhone or the newest MacBook.

During Resident Advisor training last month, Chaili Trentham, the Associate Director of Residence Life at APU, talked to us about the importance of good PR and advertising for the events plan as RA’s. She was talking about the importance of finding a “why” versus just a “what” for PR campaigns and related this to a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek she shows in her leadership classes. The video shows his “Golden Circle” of starting with ‘why’ versus what or how. Sinek uses Apple as an example, showing how their PR campaigns start with why they make computers, not what they are making.

This is something that I truly believe could make or break a PR campaign and something that strongly contributes to good public relations. Simon Sinek puts it perfectly: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

The Challenge of Media Literacy

Media, and social media, more specifically, have become such prevalent and prominent means of communication in society over the past decade or so. The instant gratification that is present in today’s society in such a tangible way, in the palm of one’s hand, at the touch of a button, can be one of two major things: extraordinary or unhealthy.

For a split second, reading that the average person spends five hours a day engaged in some sort of media and an additional six hours engaged in media while doing something else was shocking, but then it became evident that this is such a normal part of society that it shouldn’t be shocking. Sure, it makes one think about their priorities and if this level of tangibility is healthy, but it is so common that within minutes, the urge to pick up a phone and scroll mindlessly through some sort of media kicks in.

People are so quick to get “trigger happy” with phones and laptops and post things to media outlets that are regrettable without thinking through the outcomes until it is already on the internet when it is too late to take it back and pretend like it was never sent out into the world. Facebook comments, viral videos, podcasts, news clips, and so on are all forms of media that can so quickly change someone’s life, for better or worse, because something was put out into the media and either interpreted wrong or spun in an unfortunate way.

It is so easy to hide behind the keys and poke fun or make harsh comments about others with no care for the effect those words have on the receiving end.

If everyone sat back and thought about the effects of their words and actions before the media got to it, chances are, society would be quite different.

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