Jessica Michael's Blog

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Filed under: Extra — Jessica Michael at 6:27 am on Thursday, May 3, 2012

Today, there are over 400 million users on Facebook from all over the world (Budden, Elkersh, Vicknair, & Yancy, 2010, p. 7). Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have blown up over the past few years. They give people the opportunity to connect with others to create lasting friendships, business partners, and more. However, being “social” isn’t the only reason people have flocked to these sites. Employers, potential clients, and candidates for jobs use social networking sites to network and discover new people to do business with.

According to Chiş and Talpos (2011), a “social network” can be defined as, “a social structure based on individuals or organizations connected through the Internet” (p. 84-85). Social networks such as, Facebook and Twitter, let people communicate in a more informal way than a business call or an interview. Employers can even scout for possible employees based on Facebook or other social network profiles. Since communicating “face to face” happens less often nowadays due to the fast pace of life and limited free time, social networking sites are becoming the new way to find a job, follow your favorite products and companies, and to get to know millions of people without ever leaving your office or home.

The main concern going through a graduating, college student’s mind is “will I find a job?”. Even though the recession has cut thousands of jobs over the past few years, people have discovered social networking as a valuable tool when searching for a job. According to Chiş and Talpos (2011), “a person usually spends an average of 7 hours a month on Facebook” (p. 87). However, it is likely that college students spend even more time on the site looking at pictures and all the posts from their friends. What every college student needs to realize is that potential employers are looking at your profile when looking for prospects for jobs. It would be a shame for an employers to look at a graduating student’s page to find pictures or posts that could cost them a job (Budden, Elkersh, Vicknair, Yancy, 2010, p. 7).

LinkedIn considers themselves the “world’s largest professional network.” According to Comer (2011), LinkedIn makes it easy to learn a contact’s interests so you can connect with them to form a professional relationship (p. 10). The site is designed to help people find employers, clients, and potential candidates for jobs. LinkedIn can also be a very beneficial site for newly, graduated college students so they can join the job market as soon as possible.

Even companies are starting to add social networking to their enterprise (Doctor, 2010, p. 40). There can be many pros to this but also a few cons. One of the pros of companies becoming involved with social networking is the relationship with their clients. Since millions of people have Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, they would be more inclined to follow the product and give feedback (Chiş & Talpos, 2011, p. 88-89). Social networking sites also expose more people to your product to get the word out about companies that are not as popular. Also, advertising costs could be reduced since social networking sites are free (Chiş & Talpos, 2011, p. 89). There’s nothing better than gaining a larger following without spending millions to do it.

Even though the pros definitely outweigh the cons, there still are a few cons to putting a company on a social networking site. Although the feedback from clients is a great way to make the product better, it takes a lot more time to respond to them (Chiş & Talpos, 2011, p. 90). Since commenting on the Internet is a lot easier than mailing in your feedback, there are thousands more comments to go through. Also, public criticism is an issue on the Internet (Chiş & Talpos, 2011, p. 90). It is common for some people to purposely sabotage something they don’t agree with or don’t understand. This could cause other customers not to buy the product or follow the company. However, you can easily get these comments deleted from the page.

The opportunities on social networking sites are endless. Social networking skills can even be an important tool that people usually look over when creating their resume (Doctor, 2010, p. 196). Employers, students, and companies can all benefit by going online and setting up a profile on a social networking site whether it’s for business or pleasure.


Budden, M. C., Elkersh, D., Vicknair, J., & Yancey, K. (2010). The Use Of Social Networking Websites As A Recruiting Tool For Employers. American Journal Of Business Education, 3(11), 7-12.

Chiş, L., & Talpoş, M. (2011). PROS AND CONS OF CORPORATE SOCIAL NETWORKING. Review Of Management & Economic Engineering, 10(2), 83-92.

Comer, J. (2011). Building Relationships With LinkedIn. Journal Of Financial Planning, 10-11.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.


The Rise of Blogging in the Newspaper World

Filed under: Critnews2 — Jessica Michael at 10:57 pm on Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blogging has been popular among amateur writers for years. Recently, professional journalists have explored with blogs and incorporated them into their newspapers’ online site. According to Schultz and Sheffer (2009), “online technologies could help media businesses improve efficiency and effectiveness and enhance communication with audiences” (p. 30). Since some companies have not made the move to the blogging world, they are falling behind compared to the other companies who have (Doctor, 2010, p. 135). However, The New York Times is ahead of the game since their company features blogs and other platforms placing them in the “Digital Dozen”.

David Pogue is a writer and blogger for The New York Times. He writes a Thursday column on technology in the print version of The New York Times and a popular blog on their website, “Pogue’s Posts” (Doctor, 2010, p. 23). According to Ken Doctor (2010), Pogue is more than just a writer, but he is a personality that keeps people reading his column and blog (p. 22). Pogue has also covered other forms of social media by regularly posting tweets on Twitter. He is widely known for his work with The New York Times and generates millions of page views for the company (Doctor, 2010, p. 25). If there are ads on the page, the views turn into money for The New York Times due to ad revenue. This has put The New York Times at the top of the newspaper world.

The Digital Dozen cover many platforms such as print, blogs, videos, and the usage of social media sites. They are able to reach readers all over the world due to their popularity as a printed newspaper and a successful online site. Pogue and other writers helped The New York Times achieve a position in the Digital Dozen. This is because they have taken advantage of the “multiplatform.” The New York Times is a multiplatform company because they give the news to consumers whenever they want it in a variety of different mediums, such as blogs and phone applications (Doctor, 2010, p. 24).  The variety brings readers to news websites and gives them the views they need to succeed on the Internet. According to Chyi and Chadha, newspapers are relying on the younger generation to take advantage of the different mediums to get the news.

The reason why blogging has gotten so popular for news sites is because readers like the laid-back style of blog posts. Blogs are also the fastest way to get the news, since they are less formal and go through a less strenuous editing process (Doctor, 2010, p. 137). They have also given readers an opportunity to comment on the posts they read and express their thoughts and concerns. In other words, this relationship between the writer and the reader is an example of Pro-Am journalism, which Ken Doctor (2010) labeled in his book as one of the new trends of news (p. 129). Pro-Am journalism brings the professional writer and the amateur writer together ensuring that the site will generate multiple views. The news site receive more views since commenters check up on their posts to read other people’s thoughts, as well as checking out the other blogs on the site (Hull, 2006, p. 63).

Before blogging became mainstream, it was the place for stories that newspapers did not think were important (Schultz & Sheffer, 2009, p. 30). Now, blogs feature major stories before print newspapers have time to publish it. Bloggers are reliant on popularity, the stories they find, and the quality of their writing in order to write for big time newspapers. However, writers such as David Pogue, added blogging to his list of outlets after he was already employed by The New York Times. Blogging is the medium of the future, and every newspaper will eventually have to move online to survive in the media world.


Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Hull, D. (2006). Blogging Between the Lines. American Journalism Review28(6), 62-67.

Schultz, B., & Sheffer, M. (2009). Newspaper Managers Report Positive Attitudes about Blogs. Newspaper Research Journal, 30(2), 30-42.


The Huffington Post: The Start of an Online Revolution

Filed under: Critnews1 — Jessica Michael at 5:38 pm on Friday, April 20, 2012

With technology advancing as much as it is, the old newspaper might be forced online to stay in business. Numerous newspapers have already made the move online such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Huffington Post started on the internet with an online newspaper when the demand started a few years ago. They did not have to worry about distribution or keeping their newspaper going since it was a strictly an online venture. The President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, stated that companies who do not move to the internet will ultimately fail since times have changed (Tipping Point for the News Media, 2009, p. 61). The Huffington Post is an online newspaper, but it is also an aggregator and takes advantage of a relationship between professionals and amateurs.

The Huffington Post recently won a Pulitzer Prize . There was a debate on whether or not The Huffington Post met the criteria of a newspaper. According to Oremus, some people argued that The Huffington Post could even be considered a magazine since it does not have an actual print form, but The Huffington Post never saw themselves as a magazine. On their website, they labeled themselves as an “internet newspaper.” They provide news articles as well as blogs and videos posted by people around the world.

Although The Huffington Post considers themselves an internet newspaper, they are also aggregators. According to Dcotor (2010), “the importance in aggregation is having more than the other guy” (p. 104). The Huffington Post has gathered news, blogs, videos and more to create a site where readers can find articles and links to what they need (Castelluccio, 2011, p. 60). This increases their traffic to the site because viewers are constantly searching in search engines to find information on news around the world. A reader could be led to The Huffington Post because they have a link to an article which would interest them. The Huffington Post’s main profit is from the traffic on their site (Tipping Point for the News Media, 2009, p. 62). The main purpose of aggregating is so readers can sort through all of the information available on the internet (Bond, 2011, p. 8). The Huffington Post puts the information in organized sections so viewers can go straight to whatever they would like to read about. The key is that The Huffington Post writes a paragraph or two about the article and then they link the original story (Tipping Point for the News Media, 2009, p. 62). Although most readers would click on the link to the original story, some may get all that they need from the brief description The Huffington Post provides. It adds to their views but sometimes does not help the site that first produced the story.

Besides aggregation, The Huffington Post works with a professional-amateur relationship, or as Ken Doctor calls it, “pro-am” (Doctor, 2010, p. 101). Although they do have professional writers on staff that produce original stories, most of the content on the website is from amateurs. Citizens can blog about their thoughts and news stories and The Huffington Post publishes it on their site. By doing this, The Huffington Post gives their bloggers public recognition but only actually pays a few of them (Doctor, 2010, p.121). By having the amateurs “on staff,” The Huffington Post is able to cover hundreds more stories than the leading newspapers while saving money since they are not professional writers strictly working for the site. Also, the use of video gives amateurs a way to express themselves without having to write stories.

The Huffington Post is the site of the future. It is strictly online and covers a variety of topics so that anyone can find something they are interested in. The Huffington Post brings in thousands of views by providing links to other sites and profits from it. They are aggregators and gather as many stories so they can to dominate the news world. In February of 2011, AOL bought the Huffington Post for $315 million and increased their coverage even more. Although The New York Times and other newspapers are still huge competitors, The Huffington Post is successful because it takes advantage of the pro-am relationship and remains a useful tool when searching for the news online.


Bond, M. (2011). Aggregating Without Aggravating. American Journalism Review33(2), 8-9.

Castelluccio, M. (2011). New Newspapers Online. Strategic Finance92(9), 59-60.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Tipping Point for the New Media. (2009). New Perspectives Quarterly26(3), 61-65.

Columbine: A Media Frenzy

Filed under: Columbine blog — Jessica Michael at 2:25 am on Friday, April 13, 2012

On April 20, 1999, the small town of Littleton, Colorado suffered a tragedy that their town would never forget. Two, seemingly normal boys committed the crime which caused America to fear sending their children to school. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High Schooland killed 12 of their peers and 1 teacher before ultimately killing themselves. According to Toppo with USA Today, the shooting was “by far the worst, and the first to play out largely on live television.” The role of the media in this situation was to tell the story of the Columbine shooting for the rest of the world, but in reality, they displayed a story that was far from the truth by creating many myths, agenda setting, and introducing ideologies about the killers and the crime they committed.

The myths of Columbine have taken several years and elaborate research to be disproved. Although the media has been blamed for adding on to the myths and making conclusions, the students and were the original source to what was happening inside the school. According to Cullen (2009), the shooting occurred in the beginning of the cell phone age and kids were calling the press from their phones while still inside the school to share their stories (p. 52). Although reporters talked to the students who saw the killers and their methods first hand, there were thousands of other students that wanted to share what they thought without any knowledge of what really happened. This is what started a media frenzy and the story that would have to be retold later.

The first major myth of the Columbine massacre was that the killers were goth and part of the Trench Coat Mafia. The students described the killers as goth since they were wearing black and long trench coats. In the video below, a student recalled his experience and described the killers as outcasts and that they were part of the Trench Coat Mafia. The media added to this by putting the stereotype in the headlines of articles and using goth as a excuse to why they killed innocent students (Griffiths, 2010, p. 407). Griffiths (2010) states that the headlines such as “Giggling goths out for revenge” and  “Classmates describe shooters as obsessed with the goth world: “Trench Coat Mafia” members treated as social outcasts” made people fear goths and label them as killers (p. 407). The problem with this myth is that the media was trying to find a reason why it happened by blaming a certain group of people. According to Cullen (2009), “goths had killed before – as had members of every conceivable background and subculture” (p. 156). He is saying that it was wrong to stereotype their whole subculture because two students in black decided to commit the crime.

Another major myth of Columbine was the belief that Harris and Klebold had specific targets. According to Cullen (2009), one of the survivors, who was located in the library of the school where most of the killings took place, said the killers were targeting “anyone of color, wearing a white hat, or playing a sport.” This statement led to the media releasing stories of the two boys being bullied in school and that the shooting was an act of revenge. In reality, the boys were well-liked in school and seemed normal to their parents and other adults. Most reporters believed that bullying was the main reason Harris and Klebold plotted the shooting and that they had specific people in mind (Cullen, 2009, p. 151). What the media didn’t know until much later was that the Columbine shooting was supposed to be a bombing and they wanted to kill everyone, not just a select few.

Sanchez stated that agenda setting is “the process whereby the mass media determines what we think and worry about.” During the chaos after the Columbine massacre, the media stopped focusing on other stories and featured the shooting in newspapers and on TV. The media coverage made kids around America scared to attend school. Since it happened in such a small town, people thought it could happen anywhere. This made the country tune in to the news and read the papers to get more information on why the Columbine case occurred. In his essay, Sanchez says that people have certain pictures in their head of stories the media tells. However, they are not there to witness the actual event and react to it. This theory was true for the whole population outside of the students and police officers who witnessed the Columbine High School massacre.

According to Kass, the Columbine shooting was reported all over the United States with mostly false information. An ideology was set in place by the media that Harris and Klebold were goth, part of the Trench Coat Mafia, and targeting certain groups of people to kill. The media did not need to make excuses for Harris and Klebold to reach a conclusion on their reasoning for the murders. The real reason the crime was committed was that Harris dreamed of mass extinction, while Dylan was extremely depressed (Cullen, 2009, p. 135). The media created a story of what happened and stuck with it until the myths were finally disproved. Even though there is evidence that Harris and Klebold had a different plan than the media described, America will always be affected by the events of Columbine and remember the way the media portrayed the massacre.

Cullen, D. (2009). Columbine. New York: Twelve.

Griffiths, R. (2010). The gothic folk devils strike back! Theorizing folk devil reaction in the post-Columbine era.Journal Of Youth Studies13(3), 403-422. doi:10.1080/13676260903448021

Barely-Clothed Seven-Year-Olds?

Filed under: Childcon Blog — Jessica Michael at 9:21 pm on Saturday, February 25, 2012

The word “scandalous” comes to mind when walking into an Abercrombie Kids store. A huge photo of a barely clothed boy, probably twice the age of the target audience, catches your eye. A girl in a micro mini skirt and a low-cut tank top covers the next wall. As you browse, you realize the clothing could also be found in the older version, Abercrombie & Fitch, just in a bigger size. You see a young tween pressure their mom or dad for a pair of jeans you could have ripped yourself, they walk out with a bag also covered with half-naked models.

Abercrombie & Fitch sells to a target audience much higher than the Abercrombie Kids’ audience of 7 to 14 years old, but the clothes are almost exactly the same. By adding the word “kids” onto the famous Abercrombie name, it tries to reassure parents that the clothes are more suited for kids at a younger age. Although kids are happy with the similarity to Abercrombie & Fitch, parents should be more concerned since there is not much of a difference at all. Abercrombie has made skimpy clothing cool for young kids because of the success of Abercrombie & Fitch and a kid’s desire to appear older and more mature.

Abercrombie Kids Haul

A young girl on Youtube has posted a video all about her purchases from Abercrombie Kids earlier that day. After making sure the audience saw the big Abercrombie bag with the shirtless guy on both sides, she showed her shirts she bought and the surprising markdown prices she found. While showing one pink v-neck, she pointed out the big blue moose on the right side so that everyone sees where it’s from. This shows that she wants the world to know where she shops since it makes her feel cool and more mature than kids shopping at less popular stores.

Abercrombie has an advantage since their store for teenagers is usually connected to Abercrombie Kids. This invites the young consumer to explore the other side of the store as well to see what the older kids are wearing. According to Hollie McKay with Fox News, Abercrombie Kids’ padded swimsuit top in their 2011 summer collection caused major controversy. An item that should be marketed for older kids was added to Abercrombie Kid’s catalog of notorious clothing. The problem with this item is that young girls will grow up believing they need the extra padding to feel good about themselves. Although it satisfies their need to be older, it is harmful in the end and will lead to other items meant for an older crowd.

According to the video, Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood, marketers focus on tweens because they will buy items that make them feel more mature. This technique is called “age compression.” When a young girl buys a push-up bathing suit top from Abercrombie Kids, she would feel older and confident around her friends causing her friends to go out and buy a similar top. The notion of being cool overwhelms kids and makes them believe they have to buy things that older kids wear to fit in. The Media Literacy Project’s article, Language of Persuasion, proves that Abercrombie Kids uses the beautiful people technique since they use attractive models in their ads to make consumers believe they could look like that if they bought their clothes. The models for Abercrombie Kids are most likely in the age range for Abercrombie & Fitch just so the consumers will look up to them as someone they want to be.

A kid’s longing to be older is a gold mine for clothing brands. Abercrombie has marketed their high-end clothing to young kids by adding the cool factor and making their buyers feel older than they are. Since these clothes are marketed towards 7 to 14 year olds, it won’t be long until even younger kids make the transition to Abercrombie Kids.


“The Dog Strikes Back” With a Lifestyle Change

Filed under: Sbad12 — Jessica Michael at 10:48 pm on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

According to the Los Angeles Times, “The Dog Strikes Back” by Volkswagen was a hit during the 2012 Super Bowl with its furry star (James, 2012). The commercial starts out with a dog watching a shiny red car pass the house. When he tries to go chase it, he is too fat to fit through the doggy door. He sits sadly in front of the mirror until he realizes he needs to make a change. Then, the song “Get Up Offa That Thing,” by James Brown starts to play and the next part of the commercial shows the dog doing various workouts such as running on the treadmill, pulling weights on a mat, and swimming. Once the new car drives by again, the dog successfully runs through the doggy door and chases after the car. This is the first time that it is apparent the car is a Volkswagen Beetle. A voice says “back and better than ever,” as the car drives by and it changes to the famous white screen with the VW logo. 

Women are more likely to enjoy a commercial with an adorable animal in it than men are. The image of the red VW Beetle appeals to middle class women since it is a classic color and car that women would buy. The meaning of “The Dog Strikes Back” commercial has to do with a lifestyle change and they use the dog as a metaphor for consumers to improve themselves and buy a new Volkswagen Beetle.

The dog realizes he is overweight and works hard to be able to run with the new shiny car. Humans usually take similar steps to achieve goals. The hidden message is that you have to work hard to get what you want. Although losing weight could be a common achievement for women, the makers of this commercial wanted to show that you would improve yourself by purchasing new VW Beetle as well.

When your target audience is women, association is an important persuasive technique to add. Volkswagen associated looking and feeling good with a new and improved car. Since the car is “better than ever,” they wanted to convey that the consumer could be too. According to an “Introduction to Media Literacy” article, several techniques such as “warm and fuzzy” fall under the association category since an animal creates a feeling of warmth and comfort. The adorable dog that they chose kept the viewer watching, which shows the “warm and fuzzy” technique was successful.

The idea of a lifestyle change could appeal to many viewers and is a well thought out tool of persuasion to buy a new VW. By the end of the commercial when you finally get a good look at the car, the angles and shine of the car makes it more appealing even when the focus is off of the dog. Also, by saying, “back and better than ever,” persuades a consumer to look into buying a new VW Beetle. The message being portrayed is definitely a positive one since it empowers people to make a lifestyle change and encourages them to look into the improved VW Beetle.

After the initial commercial, the screen moves back and shows the “cantina” full of people that could have been in Star Wars. This part of the commercial was referring back to an old commercial, which aired during last year’s Super Bowl since it was top ranked. The Huffington Post explained that, “Volkswagen wanted to stay with the Star War’s theme” (Greenberg, 2012). The last section of the commercial was meant to appeal to all of the Star War’s fans that made the commercial so popular the year before.

Given the knowledge of this commercial, it makes the viewer think about if they should make a lifestyle change just like the dog. It combines the feeling of confidence and a new car to persuade the customer to buy a Volkswagen. The ending of the commercial made it well rounded since it pleased a completely different group of people.

About Jessica

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica Michael at 9:31 am on Friday, January 20, 2012

Hi! I’m Jessica Michael. I am a sophomore at Longwood Unverisity and a Communication Studies major with a concentration in Mass Media and a minor in Graphic Design. I am involved with my sorority Delta Zeta and the club AMOR, which raises money for orphans in Honduras. I have a huge family and we are all very close.

During my middle school years, MySpace was very popular. If you did not have a MySpace at my school, you were most likely considered uncool. It was a big deal to us to have a certain number of friends or the latest addition to our profiles. In a way, it made my friends and I closer since we all had MySpace in common. It was also a way to get to know people you weren’t close friends with since you could see anyone’s interests or pictures. Parents were probably nervous during the MySpace days because of the potential dangers of the online world. However, MySpace was the first thing we created that was strictly ours without our parents’ complete approval. Looking back, the things I put on my MySpace were sometimes silly or embarrassing, but without the site, Facebook or Twitter would have never be what they are today. With that said, I thank MySpace for being the first even though it was not the last.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Filed under: Finalblog — Jessica Michael at 2:11 am on Friday, June 17, 2011

Advertising is everywhere. Whether it is a print ad or a commercial, advertisers are aiming to produce emotions from their viewers in some way. An advertisement could make a viewer happy or sad depending on how the person perceives it. There are many types of advertising including “subvertising.” The act of subvertising has been around for years. According to Alexander Barley, “subvertising is an attempt to turn the iconography of the advertisers into a noose around their neck.” In other words, “subvertisers” use their talents to create a parody of different advertisements to promote a certain cause or make their standpoint heard. Subvertisers use ideology when creating their parodies. Ronald Barthes defines ideology as, “knowledge presented as common sense or natural” (Griffin, 2009, p. 329). Both the ad and the parody presented can be analyzed used the Semiotics theory by Ronald Barthes, the Cultural Studies theory by Stuart Hall, and also some components from the Relational Dialectics theory.

Jose Cuervo

When choosing an advertisement for this assignment, I wanted to pick the one I could relate to in some way. Since I have had my fair share of relationships in my life; I decided to pick the Jose Cuervo ad. This ad contains an image of a happy relationship that everyone is looking to achieve. The couple is most likely on a beach since the woman is wearing a bathing suit and their hair appears to be wet. The text “pursue your daydreams,” appears across the ad with an image of a bottle of Jose Cuervo to the right. Like all alcohol ads, the statement, “drink responsibly,” is in the left corner. Showing a happy couple is typical when trying to sell a product.

Ideology plays a big role in advertising. There is an obvious ideology embedded in the Jose Cuervo advertisement. It suggests that if you drink Jose Cuervo, you will “pursue your daydreams” of being happy or having a romantic connection with an attractive man or woman. The yellow tint to the ad also plays into the ideology of being happy since it is believed to be the universal color for happiness. It also encourages the viewer to drink their product so they will have more fun or to show that they will get closer to their significant other or someone new. While this may not be true, the advertisers make the viewer believe it through strong visuals and text.

There are many theories I can relate to this bright alcohol ad, starting with the concept of the Semiotics theory by Ronald Barthes. The theory of semiology or better know as semiotics is the “study of signs and proposes a systematic approach to understanding ideas and the symbols we use to describe them,” according to Philip Vassallo who wrote, “Holes in the Earth and in Photos: of Signs, Signifieds, and Signifiers.” Signs are everywhere and they are a combination of a signifier and a signified.  A signifier is the visual the viewer sees when first looking at an ad. The signified is the actual meaning of the ad. The signifier and the signified are easy to spot in this Jose Cuervo advertisement. The signifier is a couple that is laughing and close together. The big bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila and the words “pursue your daydreams” also serve as a signifier. The signified is that the advertisers want to put forth that drinking will help you gain a close relationship with an attractive man or woman.

According to Em Griffin (2009), Stuart Hall “joins the group of critical scholars who attack “mainstream” communication research that is empirical, quantitative, and narrowly focusing on discovering cause and effect relationships” (p. 334). This ad is developed by a cause and effect relationship. If a person drinks Jose Cuervo, they will get the man or woman of their dreams and have a great day at the beach. However, Hall does not believe that this message should be conveyed in advertising since it is not reality. He states, “the primary function of discourse is to make meaning” (Griffin, 2009, p. 337).  The consequence of drinking is that you will get drunk. In this ad, it turns out to be a good thing since the man got the girl.

Parody using The Break-Up

I chose the Jose Cuervo advertisement because I wanted to show the other side of drinking and what it does to relationships. I used a photo taken on the set of the movie The Break-Up with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughan. I used this photo to show the opposite effect from the actual advertisement and to poke fun at the happy couple. Since all couples are not happy a hundred percent of the time, the photo from The Break-Up shows a couple in hard times since, “breaking up is hard to do.”

Another part of the Jose Cuervo ad and my parody is the alcohol aspect. While Jose Cuervo promotes drinking as a positive way to gain a romantic partner and to remain happy, my parody displays the negative side of drinking. It displays drinking because of emotions. In some cases, people drink after a break up to “drown their sorrows.” This becomes an ideology since in the first stages of a break up it is a fact that a person will be upset if they are really in love. An example of this comes from the movie, The Break Up. After his break up, Vince Vaughan heads to the bar to drink up in this scene to try to get over his now ex-girlfriend.  Alcohol can also be the reason a couple is breaking up. In this case the person causing the break up would most likely be an alcoholic.

The signifier from the Semiotics theory is the same idea. There is a picture of a couple with text and the product. However, the couple is displaying different body language than the first ad, the texts means a totally different thing and the product causes a different effect. The signifier is a couple that has created distance and their body language makes them appear to be in a fight. The text reads, “Breaking up is hard to do,” and “drink heavily.” The huge bottle of Jose Cuervo located in the corner is also the signifier. The signified is that the couple is fighting and will ultimately break up. The text “drink heavily,” encourages the viewer to drink Jose Cuervo since it would make them forget. This also plays into the Cultural Studies theory since the cause is that the relationship is breaking up and the effect is to drink alcohol. This sign is the opposite from the actual ad since it shows alcohol as a device to forget.

Both of these ads can also relate to the Relational Dialectics theory of Leslie Baxter and Barbara Montgomery. Even though the couple in the originial Jose Cuervo ad looks very happy, there are still tensions in every relationship whether it is internal or external. Even though the viewer may not know what those tensions are from looking at the original, they can be easily picked out in the parody version. The couple is probably facing integration and separation issues. The woman may be upset because the man is secluding her from his bowling night. He may need some independence and it is causing a tension within the relationship. There are obvious changes going on since the couple appears to be breaking up and the uncertainty of the relationship may be the cause. The expression and nonexpression aspect of the Relational Dialectics theory also plays a role. The couple seems to be “letting it all out,” which can be considered openness.

The message conveyed in the original Jose Cuervo advertisement is very desirable but also very unrealistic. The parody using The Break Up shows that not all couples are like the one in the original and drinking can lead to or cause different things. The Semiotics theory and the Cultural Studies theory are both tools to analyze an image down to the core. Even though Relational Dialectics deals with relationships instead of advertising, it still can relate since relationships are a common theme in advertising. Ideologies are a major factor in the advertising world since advertisers use belief systems to sell their products.

References: Griffin, E. (2009). A first look at communication theory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Life At The Salon

Filed under: Orgblog — Jessica Michael at 10:35 pm on Monday, June 13, 2011

Most woman enjoy being pampered. The main site of this luxury is at a local hair salon where guests can gossip and get a new look at the same time. The average hair stylist starts at the bottom as an apprentice under a more experienced stylist and then graduates to working on their own at different levels. The culture within a salon is different from other stores. The stylists have a certain way of doing things and expertise that a person outside the salon would not know. The Cultural Approach to Organizations explains culture within an organization or company.

Ciao Hair Salon - example of a high-end salon

I witnessed life in a salon first hand when I worked for my aunt at her salon when I was 15 years old. Although I did not understand the art of styling like the other employees did, I was still immersed in the culture in other ways. Since my aunt was a very experienced hair stylist, she took students under her wing to teach them the “ins and outs” of hair styling. When the previous owner was ready to hand off the company to the highest ranked stylists, my aunt and two others became the new owners of the salon. My aunt then became the “agent of cultural change,” as Em Griffin (2009) would say (p. 257). She took the apprentice idea to the next level and allowed more stylists to teach. She also created more jobs outside styling which included more front desk workers and my job, to wash towels and clean-up. She succeeded in changing how the business was run and this brought new talent into the salon.

Geertz and Pacanowsky said that corporate stories, personal stories, and collegial stories make up most of the dialogue heard in the workplace (Griffin, 2009, p. 254). While working at the salon, I witnessed examples of all of these types of stories. When working with her apprentices, my aunt told corporate stories which included rules and other information they needed to know to succeed at the salon. For example, she taught the apprentices a certain way to wash a clients hair that was used by all stylists. I heard many personal stories when getting to know the other employees. Since I had been going to the salon since I was little, most of the employees already knew me. This gave me the opportunity to become closer with them and to hear their personal stories from their own experiences at the salon and in life. I in turn told stories of my experiences as well. Usually when a workplace consists of primarily women, gossip is very common. This gossip can be either good or bad but it is usually about other employees. This could be known as a collegial story. Although there is a strict corporate story that restricts the stylists to talk about one another to clients, that does not mean they can’t say what they think to fellow employees. All in all, organizational culture labels these stories as common in the workplace.

Ken Pave - Expert Stylist

After working in the salon for over a year, I gained communication experience. I learned to work with customers, managers and also other employees. The corporate story is essential in a business since the manager establishes their leadership role and passes down the values and policies that are important to the company. When telling personal stories, I was able to get to know each employee on a different level even though most of our conversations pertained to the workplace. Even though some of the employees were only close with a few outside of the salon, they all shared a love for cosmetology while in the salon. They were still able to share their personal stories with each other sense they all belonged in the same culture.

References: Griffin, E. (2009). A first look at communication theory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Affairs Are Encouraged?

Filed under: Semblog — Jessica Michael at 8:00 pm on Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When driving down a busy street, there are signs everywhere. Signs can range from a name of a business to an advertisement on a billboard. People see these structures everyday and they can evoke some kind of reaction. For example, when looking at the sign for Starbucks Coffee, it could lead you to the craving of a cold frappuccino. However, some signs or billboards can lead to a negative reaction. The study of semiotics is all about the concept of signs. The ad I’m about to discuss had a negative response and this caused it to be ultimately was erased from the billboard.

I came across a billboard for an online dating site when I began searching for a controversial advertisement. Although online dating sites usually give singles an opportunity to find a compatible mate, this online dating site was aimed towards married couples so they could break off and have an affair. I was shocked when seeing this billboard since cheating should not be encouraged since it is a cause for heartbreak and failed marriages. The billboard boldly states, “life is short, have an affair.” Is it a normal act in America to have an affair? If so many partners are unfaithful, does that lead to the belief that it is ok to use this dating site to find a lover on the side? This could mean the sign could be considered myth since some believe it is natural for married couples not to be committed forever.

According to Griffin (2009), “a sign is the combination of its signifier and signified” (324). In other words, the signifier is what the viewer first sees when looking at a sign and the signified is the actual analysis of it and what it means to them. This ad depicts a man and a woman in an obvious romantic relationship. Without looking at the text, one would think that the ad is for happy couples. It could possibly be an ad for a romantic getaway for a couple or just an ad about love. This is the signifier since it is what you see when first looking at the billboard. However, the signified has a entirely different effect. The billboard states “life is short, have an affair” in very bold white letters with a direct web address to This billboard displays a message that having an affair is a good thing because you should live your life to the fullest. In my opinion, living life to the fullest should mean loving the person you marry and sticking with them or moving on and finding someone else without cheating if you are not happy. Griffin (2009) states that “myth makes what is cultural seem natural” (324). Since affairs are more common in America today, could make the concept of cheating a natural instinct. The concepts of semiotics help when analyzing a particular ad or sign.

Before looking at this advertisement, I had no idea there was a site like out there. This opened my eyes to the vast variety of advertisements that are effecting lives. The principle of semiotics was very useful when analyzing the billboard since it deals with the meanings of signs. The communication of this billboard could lead to many failed marriages. Although the billboard was removed due to complaints, “Ashley Madison” is still trying to promote their dating service and affairs to the public through print ads and commercials.

References: Griffin, E. (2009). A first look at communication theory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

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