The images we consume…

I would like to discuss how people perceive images in the media and the affects those images have on society.  Most of the images that we view have been altered to create an ideal or a fantasy, as opposed to a reality. Most Americans are probably aware that advertising images are altered, but that does not protect them from the messages that images send. Each picture a person views sends them a message of what perfection looks like. When someone sees a picture in an ad, they don’t just see a model displaying a perfume bottle, for example. They see beauty. They see what it looks like to be seductive. They see an ideal. They might recognize that the model in the picture is airbrushed, but it doesn’t prevent them from defining human beauty according to the altered image. People reflect themselves back into images and depict their world through those images, as opposed to understanding them at face value. Rather, people use these images to define themselves and the world around them. For example one might view an image and personally relate to it, or they might view an image and want to relate to it, asking how they could change themselves to closer reach the ideal depicted in the image.

The multitude of images that we consume in American culture has many affects. First of all, it causes people to constantly compare themselves to often impossible ideals. For instance, women might look to magazines to determine how they should look. Some might follow a path towards trying to become and image, in which the actual self can be lost.  Many people measure celebrities and others according to their images. For instance, how many images one sees of a person might be positively correlated to how relevant and important they perceive that person to be. I would say that people today also use social media to measure celebrities and non-celebrities according to their images. For example if a “friend” on Facebook only posts pictures of herself in full make-up, wearing heels and on vacation, one could perceive her living a very glamorous life, even though this is really just a highlight reel of images she wants seen. People are more mindful of their image (both in person and online) and the messages that it sends because we live in a society that is so consumed with, and aware of images.

Understanding people based on their images also plays a role in politics in our society. The general population tends to care more about who a politician is than what his or her policies are. For example, when surveyed, people rated President Regan highly, but didn’t typically agree with the actual policies he endorsed. People often want to vote for who they observe to be the better person. I think it would be safe to say that people determine who the better person is, based (at least partially) on the images of that person that they are exposed to. I imagine that if Americans were surveyed today and asked to describe our current president, many would list attributes of his personality or character; based on how they perceive the images they’ve been exposed to of him, as opposed to his political decisions or policies.

When it comes to images in the media, one could argue both that they are good and that they are not. Regarding this, I think that there is somewhat of a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, we don’t want to see real images, and studies indicate that they wouldn’t sell products nearly as well as an altered, fantastical ideal. At the same time though, we hate these images for setting in our minds an unachievable standard of perfection. Many say that advertising force-feeds us these images, but we are the ones buying the magazines in which to consume the images. I do think that images in advertising have an effect on society; however I also believe that society has an effect on advertising. I don’t think that we can blame one or the other, but that the two perpetuate each other.


IU Health Live Tweeted a Living Kidney Donor Surgery!

At today’s PRSA Hoosier luncheon, we heard from Kristofer Karol and Gene Ford, who discussed how they pulled off Indiana’s first real-time transplant Twittercast.

Gene Ford speaking about the Twittercast with Kristofer Karol at the PRSA Hoosier November luncheon

In efforts to raise awareness about organ donation and organ transplants, they decided to tweet highlights, during an actual living kidney donor transplant. Tweeting the live surgery was a little bit risky, a lot outside the box and a huge success.

When they started planning for this, they anticipated it taking quite a bit of time before everything was in place to make this idea a reality.  However, there was a surgery scheduled sooner, so these guys had a lot to do in a little amount of time – 23 tasks in 9 days to be exact. These tasks included asking the patients to agree and sign the necessary documentation, informing the doctors and hospital staff, speaking with attorneys to make sure they were doing things in an ethical and legal way, among numerous other things.

Some background: Caleb Johnson was speaking with his friend, Colin Newton, over dinner about his need for a kidney transplant, when Colin offered to be his donor. At IU Health, kidney transplants are done frequently, and as far as surgeries go, usually one of the safest procedures. This was one of the reasons that Karol and Ford chose to highlight this specific type of surgery.

Caleb Johnson and best friend/kidney donor, Colin Newton

Karol and Ford had a lot to consider before implementing this Twittercast. For instance, what if something unexpected does happen? Or, worst case scenario, what if something goes wrong? While there is typically little risk involved in this type of surgery they still had to be prepared for anything. Fortunately, they did not need to use any premeditated crisis management strategies.

This Twittercast far surpassed all expected outcomes. The team predicted they would receive about 500 new twitter followers and 50 mentions or re-tweets. In actuality  they got just under 1,400 new followers and over 1,700 mentions/re-tweets, as well as over 100 media placements!

Click here to learn more about organ donation and Caleb’s story on the IU Health Website. 

Wabash National: Local Innovators with National Impact

Previously, I signed up to participate in PRSA/PRSSA’s Half Day with a Pro event. I was excited to learn that I had been paired with Wabash National, a corporation here in Lafayette, Ind. Today, I (along with two other PRSSA Purdue members) had the pleasure of visiting and learning about this great company. First of all, the staff was wonderful. Everyone we met today was so nice and gave us a ton of great information. One thing that always speaks volumes to me is how employees feel about their jobs and their employer. The team at Wabash National was passionate, friendly and excited to give us the inside scoop on life where they work. Wabash National seems to have a fun and fast-paced atmosphere. The company offers it’s employees great benefits, with new and exciting health benefit initiatives in the works.

Wabash National Showroom

Wabash National produces more than just semi trailers.  In fact, one of the things that really stood out to me, and sparked the title of this post, was their new new and innovative DuraPlate foldable mobile shelters. That’s right… foldable!

“A multi-purpose insulated solution for everything from mobile offices to temporary living quarters, this patent-pending product is easily transported and can be assembled on-site in about 15 minutes. Modular and completely configurable, the mobile shelter can be customized for temporary offices, disaster relief, humanitarian aid and military field operations.” – Wabash National Corporation

These were developed and produced right before Hurricane Sandy hit. Wabash National has “shipped storage containers to the Salvation Army to help store supplies and donations for victims of Superstorm Sandy. [Wabash National] sent six containers, which were full in 1 hour!” – Celeste Stanley, Marketing Communications Manager at Wabash National Corporation.

DuraPlate mobile shelter

Mobile shelters and storage units fold down for easy transportation.

ATTENTION PURDUE PRSSA MEMBERS: Wabash National is currently accepting applications for Spring, Summer and Fall interns. If you are looking for an internship and would like to take advantage of this opportunity, click the link and download this attachment for more info: Wabash National Marketing Intern listing – Jan 2013.

Wabash National Website: