Monday, March 28, 2016

Everyone's a Critic

From personal experience, after I have a positive or negative interaction with a company the first place I go to is twitter. The power has switched from the organization to the consumer through social media usage and suddenly, I’m in control. The thought is empowering. When I shred a company on social media as a result of a horrifying customer service experience I feel like Donal Trump.

My problems are not always resolved from these social media rants nor do I receive the interaction I was hoping for, but what does make me feel accomplished is informing my friends and family of my experiences but most importantly getting it off my chest. 

Yes, I am a millennial and was raised in a time where everything and everyone is accessible by lifting a finger. I am able to create and publish content online via social media and if I am capable of it, so could a caveman. Today, everyone and their brother has at least one social media account. Opinions that were once shared between one-on-one interactions can be read, shared, retweeted, favorited, liked, etc are now accessible to billions of people. Thanks, internet.

The source becomes of utmost importance in earned media because there is now a sense of authenticity when information is coming from real-life individuals like you and me rather than a trained advertising advisor for a company trying to sell and persuade you. I am more likely to be persuaded in my opinions from my best friend who received the most pitifully sad burrito from Chipotle and then tweeted a picture of it than the perfectly photoshopped image that the company has posted to their social media account. 

One example of social media users creating positive PR for an organization is a woman named Christina McMenemy who was a guest at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee for a conference. She shared the following tweet on social media and was informed that the model was exclusive to the hotel and was unavailable for purchase. 

Defeated, Christina attended the conference thinking of nothing but the calming sounds from the clock radio wishing she could sleep as well as she did at the hotel. Having given up hope, she returned to her room where she found a present with a handwritten card. There on her freshly made bed was the clock radio that she had fallen in love with. This loyal customer was so thrilled that she shared this photo on social media. The smile on her face says it all. 

The hotel received serious media coverage from this post, including mentions in big time blogs such as this one;) 

Social media is not always rainbows and butterflies for businesses though. One Directions former guitar player, Dan Richards recently shared a sarcastic tweet about losing all his accumulated British Airways miles. 

His followers, many of them members of the 1D fandom (such as myself), responded to the tweet in hopes of the airway seeing his tweet. Two days later, Dan was all smiles because British Airways had returned the miles back to his account so he tweeted a thank you. 

Had they not resolved his conflict, his tweet could have influenced others to have negative associations with their brand. Without proper “medical” attention, these unpleasant posts could create long-lasting damaging effects to your company or brand. This is why it is important to take advantage of this revolution and utilize the power shift before it breaks them.

Anyone is capable of making a social media account, but the content on these accounts can have serious affects on an organization. The power is now ours as consumers, so next time you are unsatisfied with the dismal amount of rice in your Chipotle, forget the hassle of searching for their customer service phone number or email address, go straight to the source of power; social media.

The power is yours,

Mallory West
Twitter Savvy User & 
Burrito Bowl Enthusiast 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fight for Memories

I can’t remember the last time my grandma called me by name. I can’t remember the last time she recognized my face. I can’t remember the last time she was able to host Christmas dinner. What I can remember is her hair turning from blonde to gray. I can remember Christmas dinner where she would wet herself because she couldn't help it. I can remember holding her hand as she cries and shakes. I can remember helping her shower because she couldn't do it on her own. I can remember visiting her in the nursing home and realizing that she doesn't know who I am. 

I think I was a freshman when my grandma was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. After the doctor’s confirmation, we realized that she had been showing symptoms for years now. At first it was just her misplacing her purse, locking herself out of the house, or stumbling over names of grandkids. Then it progressed into a physical as well as mental transformation that led her to resemble a shell of the person she used to be. This disease has taken an extreme toll on my family as a whole and has caused us tremendous stress, pain and other obstacles. It has turned a strong-willed, stubborn, hard-working, loving, caring woman into a ghost. 

Not all of my memories of her are ones centered around her disease. As one of the oldest grandchildren I have fond memories of her being the best grandma a little girl could ask for, which is not so true for the youngest cousins who have no memories of her that aren't centered around Alzheimer’s. I’m truly lucky to have those memories. I remember when I was little I would beg and plead with my mom to let me spend the night at her house. I loved those sleepovers with her she would put my hair in curlers at night so that way I would look pretty the morning. Sometimes my cousin Lexi and I would both stay and when it was bath time I remember she would say “Alighty girls, let’s get necked!” in her Kentucky accent. These Family holidays at grandma’s were the best because there would always be so much food. The woman never stopped cooking or cleaning, I swear. These are the times I would like to remember her by, but the majority of my life has been filled with memories of her disease. 

Nothing about having a loved one with Alzheimer’s is easy, but the toughest part is that every time I visit her in the nursing home I am left wondering if that will be the last time I get to see her. What I do know that when it is her time to go, that she gets a straight pass to Heaven after what she has been through and that is enough to bring some peace of mind. 

The special edition purple Lokai bracelet spread aims to spread awareness and to raise money to support the Alzheimer's Association which is why I bought mine to show support for my grandmother. This was inspired by the CEO of the brand, whose grandfather also suffered from the disease and he wanted to create this purple bracelet to honor him. Lokai made a minimum donation of $300,000 to the Alzheimer’s Association as well as $1 per purple bracelet sold to advance research for a cure as well as provide care for my grandma and the other 47 million people living with the disease. #FightforMemories