Won’t you network with me, Ugly Betty??

30 01 2009

So, it seems that I can connect anything – yes, ANYTHING – to TV. The jury’s still out on whether or not this is a neat quirk of mine, or just plain sad…

uglybettyAnyway, to explain why I say this: earlier this week, as the conversation in my career management class turned to the subject of networking, my mind immediately jumped to an episode of Ugly Betty from a few weeks ago. As my teacher, Barry Waite, talked to the class about the networking assignment we’ll be completing this semester, I could not help but be reminded of “Dress for Success,” an episode in which the really-not-so-ugly Betty is required to do some networking for a course she is enrolled in. Similar to what I’ve been hearing since day one of my PR education, Betty is told that if she wants to get anywhere in her career, she MUST network. She is instructed to obtain 40 new business contacts within a week by networking. Faced with this task, Betty is nervous and intimidated by the whole situation, and frankly, so am I.

Throughout the episode, Betty’s colleagues offer their views on networking, which are not at all unlike what I’ve been hearing for the last five months:

“Networking is one of those annoying things, but if you’re serious about your career, it’s something you have to do.”

“The point of networking is to gather information to advance your career.”

Now, I do understand that networking is important and can help my future career, but like Betty, I have some reservations. The idea of talking to people just so that I could potentially use them to get ahead irks me. It feels fake and forced, and I just don’t like it. I know that in this industry, I need to sell myself and my skills if I want to succeed, but there is a fine line between selling myself and selling a fake networking version of myself.

To help Betty overcome her worries about networking, her co-worker Marc, takes her out and offers some advice:

“Step 1: forge a bond – your name, where you work, and one memorable fact. Step 2: fathering information – in order to get info, you’re going to have to give info. The trick is to make it sound juicy, but really mean nothing. And most importantly, step 3: the exit strategy – get in, get info, get out.”

To this, Betty responds as though she’s in my head: “I don’t like to be rude. How do you just stop someone in the middle of a conversation?” This is MY problem – I can’t be rude! I can’t fake interest and then rudely walk away – I’m just not wired like that. To me, building contacts and forming a professional network is more about quality than quantity. I would much prefer to have a few good, solid contacts in the PR world than a ton of business cards from people I don’t really know. Who’s going to remember you – or LIKE you – when you only spend a minute talking with them, clearly using them? I don’t want to get in, get info, and get out. I don’t want to have a two minute conversation with someone, give them my card, and move on – I want to have actual conversations with people in this industry I’m getting into. I want to be remembered as myself, not a fake person who has a nice business card. Although, I don’t actually have business cards yet… Oh Betty, I still have so much to learn from you!


Famous Tweets?

23 01 2009

Recently, I came across a blog post entitled “Movie & Television Social Media Marketing Using Twitter” that immediately piqued my interest. I said to myself, “TV and Twitter? I must know more!” Well, much to my dismay, it turns out that this blog entry was a little bit dated, as it was written in September 2007. However, as I read on, I felt like it was something that could have been written yesterday. The basic premise of the blog is that many Internet marketers are looking to new forms of social media like Twitter to promote the release of new TV shows and movies. It goes on to discuss a variety of innovative ways that Twitter could be used in the future (i.e. right now!) to reach target audiences and create buzz about new productions:

  • providing insight and commentary in real time (i.e. on location during shooting)
  • promoting special contests, sneak previews
  • facilitating collaborative video production experience
  • building conversation about the movie or television season or individual episodes
  • opening dialogue between promoter and promotion participants
  • movie and television website traffic generation
  • promoting events such as movie premieres
  • posting press releases

The reason I say that it sounds like this blog could have been written yesterday is because I personally still don’t see Twitter being utilized a great deal to do this in January 2009. Twitter seems to be growing in popularity, but not yet to the point that this blog proposes it would in this context. I think the only thing from this list of marketing initiatives that I’ve really seen at all is some Tweeting between my friends about certain TV shows – the season premiere of LOST on Wednesday night, to be exact – and while that helps to promote the show, it wasn’t initiated by the marketing team at ABC.

I think the aspect of proposed Twitter marketing for TV and movies that I find particularly outlandish is the idea that if

“during the making of a film, a well known actor, actress or director posted regular Tweets via Twitter via their mobile phone, it’s conceivable that hundreds if not thousands would follow and engage these immediate, seemingly intimate, “insider” posts.”

To me, this just seems completely unrealistic . How are Tweeters supposed to know that the person they’re following is actually the actor or director they claim to be? There are people all over Twitter claiming to be celebrities! I could believe that Tweets from a particular TV network or production company are valid, but individual actors? I’m not so sure about that.

I think that Twitter definitely has potential that has yet to be explored, but the future discussed in this particular blog is certainly not here yet. Though, with a little more time and popularity, Twitter could one day become yet another way for me to obsess over TV.

TV is my drug. Social media websites are my new dealers.

22 01 2009

So, as I write this, my very first blog entry, I’m also catching up on season two of Private Practice. But, my TV is off. Since ABC inconsiderately decided to air Private Practice at the same time as two other shows I faithfully watch, I’ve fallen behind in this show that I got hooked on last season. But, thanks to the miracle of streaming video, I have not had to give up on my show.

Now, you may be saying to yourself “Miracle? I really doubt that streaming video should be classified as a miracle.” Clearly you are not a TV addict like me. Social media websites like YouTube and my personal favourite, alluc.org, are a blessing to people like me who have to create schedules and timetables in order to keep track of which shows need to be watched and/or taped every night. Try as I might, even with timeshifting, I can’t catch all of my favourite shows. Or sometimes, I just miss them – it happens. But, it doesn’t upset me like it used to because now I have streaming video to feed my addiction. I mean, I missed a new episode of House this week because I forgot to set my trusty VCR to tape it, but it’s no big deal, I’ll just watch it online when I get a chance.

Social media is huge and its influence on TV is just as huge. Not only are there sites like the ones I mentioned that make shows easily available to anyone at anytime, but there are also countless other ways that people are connecting over TV. There are fan forums, blogs, Facebook “favourite” lists, TV databases, and tons of others that are impacting the wonderful world of television, and which I plan to explore as I get more into this whole blogging thing. So stay tuned! (Wow, did I really just say that…?)