Photoshop: A Game of Trial and Error… and Error, and Error…

 

This week, in PR publications, we tackled the task of beginning how to learn Adobe Photoshop.
Photoshop is one of the most powerful photo editing programs that exists, giving users the capability to essentially work photo magic. Photoshop offers tools that allow users to do numerous things, including merge photos, create shadows, and completely alter colors.

Photoshop is a valuable tool for the PR professional because it can be used to design business cards, letter heads, direct mailers, event ads, and other public relations tools.

Being that Photoshop is so powerful, it is no surprise that it hasn’t been the easiest to learn how to use. We began our learning journey with an exploration of merging images, in this case two pizza related images.

Pizza on Wooden Peel

Pepperoni pizza

It was a difficult task, and took about an hour and a half of replaying turtorial videos, and tweaking settings to get a realistic look. Eventually, I was able to put a pizza holder under the pepproni pizza. Hooray!

 

Unlike InDesign, the other design application we have used, Photoshop works on a pixel by pixel basis, so images have to be spliced.

Personally, I prefer to interface and tools available in InDesign. While the photo editing tools are lower quality, it offers a gridded guideline, and makes it easy to build images centered around fonts and business-type design.

Another of my challengers arose from trying to create works for a client with a really hard set brand. This week we are designing direct mailers for the University of Oklahoma admissions office.

OU has a very set in stone brand, with logo and color guidelines, as well as specific guidelines like what font is preferred for documents.

It has been hard to be creative while following these strict guidelines and creating something which will represent OU, not myself.

 

Montford Inn-Client Launch Portfolio

10 Client Tools for the Montford Inn

Sarah Smallwood

            The following tools were created for the Montford Inn with the goal of helping the inn showcase its luxury, comfort, and romantic southern touch. The tools are intended to show this through graphic design details and effective wording. The tools include building blocks for news releases and a feature pitch, as well as an outline for a speech which might be used to introduce the spa services which are still in the works at the inn. The speech is accompanied by eight potential slide ideas which would accompany its delivery.

            I have also included four photos with captions. These photos might be used on social media pages for various reasons, whether it be to have content to post and attract website visitors, or to showcase other details of the inn, adding to the photo gallery for guests to look at. The infographic is intended for social media use, as it gives potential guests the feeling of romantic comfort while highlighting the small details the Montford Inn strives to provide for each guest.

            I have designed two new possible logos to be used on business cards and in letterheads. The logos are simple enough to be converted into the black and white format as well. I attempted to portray the inn as a modern place to stay, while giving the feeling of prairie romance. The logos are also simple and eye catching.

            The last tools consist of a brochure and business card. I wanted to incorporate the use of color theory into these two objects. Therefore, I carried a splash of purple on both sides of the business card, which hopefully invokes feelings of delicate romance. I also intended for the information of the business card to be slightly compartmentalized on the back, making it easier to read for guests. For the brochure, my goal was to lure guests into the inn without flooding the pamphlet with too many photos, while also designing it to be clean and simple yet elegant. The use of a pale olive green gives the inn an inviting, homey feel, while the photos show the luxury and upscale amenities.

 

  1. Brand Story

Like a wildflower speckling the prairie, the Montford Inn has been spot of romance and comfort in Norman, Oklahoma since it was built in 1994. Ron and Phyllis Murray founded the inn to provide visitors with the comfort and welcome of the south, and so far, they have been successful. For over 20 years, the Montford Inn has been a sophisticated jewel of a bed in breakfast. Since it’s beginning, the inn has drawn the attention of acclaimed guests and dignitaries, from celebrities and movie producers, to professors and politicians.

With time, the inn has grown, adding rooms, cottages and services. It has continued to gain recognition for all the small details which create the atmosphere guests desire. Antique and one-of-a-kind decorations line the walls and rooms, cookies are always baking, wine glasses are filled, the gardens bloom, all coming together to create an experience that no hotel can offer. The inn offers various ways to serve guests, including hosting family reunions, weddings, and more.

The ownership of the inn has changed over the decades, with the inn now being run by the founder’s son, William Murray. Montford Inn remains a family-run establishment, and it still strives to welcome each guest with the same hospitality and comfort as the beginning. With the addition of cottages, each containing fireplaces and couple’s jacuzzies, the inn has begun to attract more and more honeymooners and lovebirds. The Montford Inn plans to expand this aspect of service, hoping to provide touching amenities and a romantic experience for visitors.

 

 

 

  1. 4 Photos with Captions

 

Hidden Hollow, a quaint, private cottage, includes many romantic amenities, including a heart-shaped couple’s jacuzzi tub.

The details in Hidden Hollow, one of the Montford Inn’s many cottages, leave visitors feeling like they have spent a romantic week in a prairie get-away.

Homesteaders, one of the many rooms available at Montford Inn, features small details and photos from the past, creating a nostalgic atmosphere for visitors.

The Montford Inn stands like a jewel on the prairie during a peaceful Oklahoma spring evening.

Warm light bounces off the teal walls of Morningsong, a peaceful room which rests in the corner of the inn, offering guests many windows and an abundance of natural light.

The teal walls and abundance of windows combine to create a relaxing glow in Morningsong, a corner room available at Montford Inn.

 

 

 

  1. Logo

Logo 1

Logo 2

 

 

  1. Infographic

 

 

  1. News Release

To be sent to:

Visit OKC- Tabbi Burwell

tburwell@visitokc.com

Communications Manager

Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau

(405) 297-8973

 

NORMAN, Okla. — The Montford Inn in Norman has announced plans to implement a selection of spa services to their bed and breakfast. The owners intend to provide a multitude of services to their guests, including massages and skin therapies.

The spa would be a romantic addition to the ten bedrooms and six cottages currently available to guests. The innkeepers provide a variety of room services, including stocking rooms with amenities, delivering food orders and insuring the guests’ needs are met. Breakfast is homemade and served every morning, and complimentary wine and cookies are laid out during business hours. Some of the guest rooms feature couples’ bathtubs, including one room with a private hot tub. Cottages adjacent from the inn provide a more secluded option for guests wanting more privacy or a romantic escape.  However, the Montford Inn owners are eager to upgrade the guest experience.

“We want to renovate one of the older upstairs bedrooms to create the spa area,” says Phyllis Murray, a co-founder of the inn. “Our goal is to offer guests and couples yet another way to escape from the stresses of everyday life.”

The Montford Inn was founded in 1999 by Murray and her late husband, William, and was designed to combine a sophisticated atmosphere with the unmatched comforts of a bed and breakfast. Guests stay at the inn for romantic getaways, business meetings, family reunions, or an escape from busy city-life. A stay at the inn is filled with personal touches that no hotel chain can offer.

The inn owners can be reached in person at the inn every week day until 2pm or contacted by phone at 405-321-2200. Interviews are best scheduled a few days in advance. Photos of the inn and rooms are available on the inn’s website, though the owners are open to new photo and video opportunities.

 

 

  1. E-Mail Pitch

Mark Codner: Editor for The Edmond Sun

mcodner@edmondsun.com

http://www.edmondsun.com/opinion/codner-supporting-transportation-by-train/article_a658e546-4d62-11e7-be42-f7f937b20db0.html

Dear Mr. Codner,

The Oklahoma City area is sprawling with growth, and the nation’s eyes are regularly being drawn to our region by our exciting features, such the Oklahoma City Thunder and the successful University of Oklahoma Sooners football program. However, there is a bed and breakfast just south of OKC, in Norman, which continually attracts prominent guests, from celebrities, to dignitaries visiting with business with the university. I would love to help draw attention to that inn.

The Montford Inn has a rich history of guests and a deep connection to Norman. If you have the time, I would like to arrange a meeting between you and the owners of the inn, so they can give you more details about the guests they’ve had. This would make an interesting story which would showcase the entertainment appeal of the Oklahoma City area, showing Oklahoma residents and on-lookers another taste of what we have to offer.

If you have any questions about the inn or scheduling an interview, please let me know. I look forward to further discussing this story with you!

Regards,

–Sarah Smallwood

Public Relations Student

University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism

Smallwood.SarahM@gmail.com

 

 

 

  1. Special Event Speech

Good afternoon everyone, it’s wonderful to see you here today. My name is William Murray, I have the pleasure of managing the Montford Inn with my wife and mother. I first want to thank you all for visiting us today to attend the grand opening of the spa services here at the Montford Inn. Our Montford Inn family has been anxiously awaiting this day for months!

This would not be possible without my mother, Phyllis Murray, who has worked tirelessly to run the inn and plan these new services. Phyllis custom-built the inn with my late father, Ron, in 1994, and has over-seen this jewel on the prairie ever since. Without her guidance, perseverance and leadership, the inn would not have been able to serve Norman these last two decades. She continues to work hard every day at the inn, making sure guests are feeling welcome and everyone’s needs are met.

Our family built the inn in order to provide a premier bed and breakfast experience to guests, and we are over-whelmed with joy to be adding to these experiences. The Montford Inn strives to offer a luxurious yet comfortable stay for the business traveler, or a romantic, prairie get-away for the honey-mooning couple. The inclusion of spa services at Montford Inn will continue these efforts, offering the chance for a small weekend trip to turn into two days of relaxation and pampering.

We are excited to offer guests an assortment of relaxing new options. The spa will include massages, pampering body scrubs, luxury baths, and soothing facials. These services will accompany the lovely touches already offered at the inn, which include couple’s hot tubs, complimentary wine, and daily homemade breakfast, among other things.

We are thankful for the many visitors who have chosen the Montford Inn as their bed and breakfast over the last 24 years of business. The years have been filled with joy and fulfillment, and we look forward to offering these new services to guests who visit our home.

Thank you again for coming today. Please enjoy the spa services and come stay with us again soon.

 

 

 

  1. Slide Deck

Slide 1

Slide 2 OR

 

Slide 3

Slide 4

Slide 5

Slide 6

Slide 7

Slide 8

 

  1. Brochure

 

  1. Business Card

A Reflection on PR Writing

At the beginning of this semester, looking at the long assignment list ahead of me on the Public Relations Writing Canvas page, I was filled with fear. I hadn’t had any idea how I was going to complete all of these assignments or how I was going to contact and find a client who would be willing to let me work for them for a semester. However, I quickly found that, while this class was certainly difficult and tasking, it was one of the most learning-filled college classes that I have taken.

This semester, I learned many things from PR Writing. The first of which is how to properly conduct research for your client. Students were asked to use an array of different research methods, including the Lexis-Nexis database which scans the internet and other databases for any mention of your client. This will be a very helpful tool in the future to gauge the market my client lies in and the competition they face. I can use this tool to perform SWOT analysis for future clients.

Another helpful skill that I learned in this class was how to prepare and write feature pitches and news releases for an actual client. In past classes, we learned the basics of these concepts, however in PR Writing we were forced to put these concepts to use in a real-life situation. This will help me in my career as I will not only know how to format and word a news release or feature pitch, but I will know how to find the correct reporters and media outlets to which I want to send my work.

My skills as a graphic designer have also grown this semester, and the design projects were the assignments which I enjoyed most in this class. I have had the opportunity to create an info-graphic, a logo/letterhead, a brochure, and a business card. Having to design all of these things with a coherent goal and theme in mind forced me to put more thought and time into my work. In the end, I feel more prepared to develop effective media tools such as these.

The only assignment that I did not favor in this class was that of writing a speech. The assignment itself was geared toward the assumption that my client will ever be giving an actual speech, especially with the use of a projector and PowerPoint. While I see the need to be able to effectively write a speech, I felt as though other classes have prepared us for this, and another tool might be more useful to introduce.

There are countless other things that I learned from this class, from time management, to grammar skills, to truly thinking like a PR representative. After getting a taste of the real PR world in this class, I am excited to move forward to continue learning.

Teachers vs Oklahoma Government

Photo courtesy of KWCH12

For the past nine school days, teachers across Oklahoma have been at the state capitol protesting for higher wages and more funding for education. The marches are being orchestrated mostly by the Oklahoma Education Association(OEA). It is easy to see the distinction between the key messages of each opposing group when reading the news originating from either side. The message from the teachers and concerned citizens is clear: it is time for Oklahoma to prioritize education. The response from the state, however, is not as clear.

POLITICO details the general key messages from the teachers quite well. The teachers are asking not only for higher wages, but a dramatic increase in education funding, funding that has been slashed more than any other state in the last decade. In the recent days of the strike, teachers have shifted the focus more towards increasing general funding.

The stark contrast in key messages becomes clear when reading a FOX25 News article which details how the teacher walk-out is supposedly costing the state “thousands” every day. These costs are later detailed to be janitorial and maintenance costs of the capitol grounds, and an estimate for cost for security which the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety refused to endorse. These responses follow the theme of ad hominid attacks the state has had in response to the walk-out, as Gov. Mary Fallin had earlier equated the teachers to teenagers wanting a new car.

The teachers and citizens have had the more effective message, having remained mostly uniformed and peaceful. Supporters of the movement have stormed social media, used creative forms of striking, and argued with logic. The state has been silent, or too quick to attack.

If I were a public relations agent for the side of the teachers, I would suggest that they more heavily emphasize that the walk-out is more about increasing funding for their students than wanting raises. While Oklahoma teachers are certainly underpaid, the funding per-student in Oklahoma has dropped more than 20% in the last six years.

Chart courtesy of OKPolicy.Org

In an event which captures the eyes of the nation, the last response a government entity ought to have for its people is one of mockery. The state ought to accept responsibility for the lack of funding, rather than making excuses and attempting to flip the situation.

 

 

It Might Be Too Good To Be True

Social Media Sites Can Facilitate the Spread of False Information– Image courtesy of NPR

We live in a time when the President of the United States can instantly deliver a message to almost 50 million viewers using Twitter, news agencies race each other to see who can break news faster, regardless of the validity, and false claims can go viral and wreak havoc in a matter of minutes. This haphazardness of news and information has led to an era in which it is some how not that strange for public leaders to be arguing about the subjectivity of facts.

This is why it was a relief to read about a team of astronomers from Arizona State University and MIT which spent two years double-checking data which would indicate a huge scientific discovery. It was shocking to me that the team’s immediate reaction was not excitement, but skepticism.

Skepticism, in my opinion, ought to be anyone’s first reaction to news, especially news which is surprising or currently breaking. Because of platforms like social media, where information is reproduced and spread at lightning-fast rates, a dangerous climate has formed of click-bait articles and misleading titles. It has even recently been discovered that on Twitter, false news spreads faster than true news.

Because of this, it is paramount to the success of the modern public relations professional to fact-check and research before relaying information to the public. Ironically, in this day and age, the back lash for being exposed for spreading false information tends to be extremely harsh.

As the team of researchers proved with its extensive fact-checking, true news can still be exciting. When thinking ahead to how I might ensure my client is informative as well as entertaining, there are a few strategies that come to mind. One of them is to lower the frequency of news, as conserving news releases may preserve the luster and excitement of the news itself. Furthermore, there are tactics that I can adopt such as using info graphics and social media tools to remain compelling.

While public relations professionals need to respond quickly, the truth is more important than a race for ‘shares’ and ‘likes’.

Lady Doritos? Right Next to My Pink Pens and Girly Beer

Controversial Lady Doritos, Image Obtained from The Daily Beast

The time around the Superbowl seems to be riddled with PR and advertising news, whether they are scandals or stories of success. This year, one of the stories that stood out from the rest was the accidental announcement of a brand new “Lady Doritos” line, intended to solve the issues that women supposedly have with eating chips: the loud crunch, dust on the fingers, and how to fit the snack in a purse.

I had heard of the scandal before this assignment, and my first thought, as a PR major, was, “Who on Earth let this CEO talk about this product?” In the various PR classes I’ve taken, we have learned that one of the biggest aspects of being a PR agent is advising the leaders of the company you work for, specifically to avoid crisis situations such as these. Either the CEO hadn’t been given a briefing before the interview, ignored the advise of her PR agents, or a PR agent failed to do their job. In today’s political and social climate, it is surprising to me that any large organization would think that a gendered-food product would receive anything but back lash. I do not think that the company had a good idea of their prospective audience, for this reason.

A Washington Post article, written about the issue on Feb. 5 of this year, describes how even if PepsiCo conducted research which indicates that women prefer quieter and cleaner snacks, those preferences are based on sexist societal gender norms which allow men more freedom, even the freedom to eat a messy snack in a messy way, and I have to agree.

If I were working for Pepsi, I would publicly address the issue on popular social media feeds to insure the public that the product isn’t real. In today’s world, issues hardly ever get slipped under the rug; an apology is needed if a company wants to avoid permanent damage.

When asked if any companies have ever correctly done gendered products, I have to revert back to the thinking done in the Washington Post article which describes how differences in product choice, correlated with gender, most likely arise due to socially constructed gender norms, and not due to actual biological preferences. Due to this, aside from clothing, I would argue that no company has ever done gendered products “right.” Products that are marketed toward a specific gender inherently must use gender norms in that marketing.

 

 

My Bathroom as a Design Study

There are many aspects of design which companies use to market products, including variations of color, typography, balance, minimalism and use of space, proportion, and many more. For Public Relations Publications, I was asked to look in the world around me for examples of objects, ads, designs and other things which illustrate the many concepts of design.

Being that my collection of beauty products is nearly the size of a small shop, I wanted to turn to my bathroom to look for examples of design that I am exposed to every day. The products I chose to analyze all cater to very specific audiences, and that is apparent in the design of the product containers. It was also interesting to me to compare the theme of designs with the cost of the item.

The first product I decided to analyze was an instant tanning spray made by L’Oréal. The most obvious design element being used is the color of this bottle, a metallic bronze. When looking at the section of tanning products in a local drug store, they all tend to follow a general theme of brown and bronze colors. To a consumer, these products are immediately distinguishable as tanning products, even from afar. It is worth noting that the name brands, such as L’Oréal, tend to have fancier packaging, being metallic and abstractly shaped, whereas the off brand products were simple, tan squeeze bottles.

This product is a floral-scented body wash from Bath & Bodyworks. I think that this bottle is a great example of a couple of design elements, including typography and dominance. Coupled with the blue and orange color scheme, the bottle literally screams beach at possible consumers. The large text creates an overwhelming beach feeling, making it appealing during winter months when shoppers are eager for warm vibes.

Furthermore, the designs on the bottle are textured, with the fish being slightly raised, and the background font shining a metallic gold.

This Burt’s Bees lotion serves as a good example of unity, when all of the design elements come together to create a whole image before the eyes are drawn to specific elements. At first glance, the bottle is light and inviting, in tune with the product being sold, which is a lotion marketed as having revitalizing properties to dry and damaged skin. Burt’s Bees used a combination of warm letters, a yellow background with a radiating design, and the clean center to create the overall appeal. 

This conditioner is marketed to a different audience than most of my other beauty products. Rather than a product intended to enhance general beauty, this product is for those who are frequently exposed to chlorine and want to protect their hair from the drying effects.

It uses color design elements to create a simple, clean look. It avoids design elements which indicate gender, and leans towards a practical use. The bottle achieves this clean look by using a lot of minimalist elements and negative space. The main things that take up space are the sans serif font and the illustration of the swimmer. To me, this appeals to a wide variety of consumers. 

For the last product, I chose a bottle which I personally believe fails in many aspects. The typography down the bottle is inconsistent, with three fonts being used for no obvious purpose. The logo symbol, which is supposed to make the brand pop, is a small, hard to read font, especially when placed on top of the dark background. The various light colors, used on the dark background, create no sense of balance, especially when placed next to the distracting pink floral shape in the left corner.

Overall, this bottle fails to use design elements in a way which would create balance and help send the message. The message of the bottle isn’t immediately clear, as one has to read closely to figure out the the product is a natural conditioner made for curly hair.

You Know What They Say… Fonts are a Gateway to the Soul

One of the most compelling things I have learned as a public relations major is the subconscious effects that design elements can have on the audience one is attempting to reach. I had no idea the depth of thought which goes into choosing which fonts to use, how to design a layout, or even when choosing color schemes.

Design directly influences the way that an audience absorbs the information put in front of them.  Typography, defined by Business Dictionary as the “study of the design of typefaces, and the way in which the type is laid out on a page to best achieve the desired visual effect and to best convey the meaning of the reading matter,” is a large aspect of design. Those creating publications must decide which fonts to use, the spacing between letters, and font size, and many other things, all focused on finding the best way to display content.

In Public Relations Publications, students were given the opportunity to play a couple of online typography games to practice various typography skills. The first game I decided to play was ‘Type Connection‘, a game that turns the fonts into eligible bachelors.

The First Step of the Game: Choosing a Main CHARACTER

With this game, I ended up creating a successful ‘date’ between Adobe Garamond Pro, a strong and serious font, and Maple, a font which tends to bring warmth and comfort to the table. Together, the two make a great combination to show off information in an inviting way, such as on an upscale restaurant menu.

This game helped me realize the depth of analysis that goes into typography, as the matches went down to the minute details of things like the transition from line into foot serifs.

The next game I decided to play was ‘Kern Type‘, the kerning game which teaches players how to properly space letters for legibility.

The Kern Game Teaches Players to Properly Space Letters

After adjusting the spacing of letters, I was to compare my work with that of a professional typographer. Needless to say, I didn’t do too well my first couple of tries, a testament to the difficulty of spacing. I was surprised at just how specific the letter spacing needs to be. Often times, I knew that the word didn’t look right, but lacked the skills to adjust accurately. When playing this game, I played alongside a friend of mine who is a design major, and was horridly outpaced.

The last game I decided to play was ‘Type War‘, a relatively simple game, compared to the others, which challenges players to visually determine what font is shown on the screen.

The Type War Game Challenges Players to Identify the Font Shown on the Screen

Type War was the hardest game for me, but it gave me a great opportunity to become more familiar with the various fonts. I began to notice some patterns in the fonts, such as some fonts having serifs, and others not, a helpful distinction.

Overall, playing these various typing games gave me a chance to become familiar with a couple key aspects of typography.

 

Professional Portrait

Taken in Oct. 2017, Lincoln, Oregon. Photographer: Sarah Smallwood

My name is Sarah Smallwood. I am a Norman, Oklahoma native currently attending college at the University of Oklahoma. I am pursuing a degree in public relations with a minor in environmental studies.

Being a junior in college, I have narrowed down my future goals to include working as a public relations agent for an organization working with the environment, either in marine conservation or outdoor gear and clothing. My hobbies include photography, video-gaming, and a multitude of outdoor activities.

My passion for the environment and conservation is what drives most of the fundamental decisions I make. I believe that climate change is simultaneously one of the largest threats to society, while also the most overlooked. I want to advance the cause of conservation and wildlife advocacy by managing the relationship between the public and wild-life related entities, whether that is a conservation firm or a clothing company which sells hiking and camping gear.

As a public relations major, I am expected to combine effective writing and communication skills with research and strategic thinking. In a world that increasingly relies on personal devices for sources of content, the area of design is becoming vital to public relations specialists. Currently, I am a novice to design and all that it entails, still learning how to use an advanced camera and editing tools.

I look forward to attempting to master various design tools and techniques, and learning how to apply these to my career goals.

An Analysis of H&M’s Garment Scandal and Apology

Screenshot of H&M’s Scandalous Product from USA Today

In early Jan. 2018, the global clothing company H&M released a young boy’s hoodie which read, “The Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”, modeled on a young African American boy. The clothing ad immediately caused wide-spread backlash on the internet, as well as store protests and online boycotts.

H&M released an apology in response to the issue, explaining that the racist undertones were accidental and a consequence of negligence, not intentional discrimination.

After reading the apology statement, my initial thoughts are drawn to the crisis management tactics they employed. The company acknowledged the central faults with the ad while also defending the company in a, in my opinion, tasteful manner. It is clear that H&M wants the public to not only know they are sorry, but also that the incident was purely accidental. However, the company also acknowledges that accidental racism is still racism, and that future steps will be taken to prevent incidents such as this.

H&M has a page dedicated to the apology, has removed the ad from the internet and the hoodie from the market, and has hired a diversity manager to oversee operations and advise. Because of these things, I am inclined to feel that H&M is being sincere with both their apology, and the actions the company is taking to back-up the apology.

Before this assignment, I was aware of the scandal, but as unaware of the official apology and the actions H&M has taken to repair the situation. After researching the issue, I now feel more positively towards H&M and am interested to see what the company does in the future as it continues to operate in today’s social climate which is focused heavily on present-day institutional racism and discrimination