Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Thankful Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving holiday was definitely one of the best. I got a chance to spend the holiday with my dad, grandmother, aunt and cousins. This side of my family lived in Michigan until this past summer, making it extremely difficult to spend previous Thanksgiving holiday breaks with them.

Because of the illness in my family, this Thanksgiving was more meaningful that many in the past. I got a chance to spend some time with my uncle who was diagnosed with Cancer a few months ago. Family is one of the most important things in life and we should all be grateful for them all year long. It is so important to show loved ones what they mean to you while you still have the chance.

This was my first Thanksgiving without my maternal grandmother who I loving called Grammy. It was surreal to not spend the holiday with her. Her witty comments, mischievous smile and infectious laugh was missed greatly. I did, however, get a chance to see her youngest sister while I was in Houston. I had not had the opportunity to spend quality time with my great-aunt, Florida Mae, in countless years.

Thanksgiving starts the holiday season for my family. After eating a huge meal, we always reflect on the year and laugh about the “good ole days.” The day after Thanksgiving is always the day to put up Christmas decorations. Most years we join the masses in the Black Friday Shop-a-thon. This year however, we opted out of shopping to spend more time together.

One of the major conversation topics over this break was my upcoming graduation. The family is all so excited and proud that I am FINALLY graduating and attempted (successfully) to convince me to move to Houston after my graduation. After thinking about the decision for about fifteen minutes, I realized that the move would benefit me in many ways. Houston most likely has a better job market than Dallas, seeing that Houston is much bigger than the “big D.” Secondly, and most importantly, my family is here. Having lost so many family members in the past, forging closer ties to my remaining family is imperative to me. With illness running rampid through my family as well, time is of the essence.

This year the thing I was most grateful for was loved ones. Whether family or friends, this years has forced me to look at the people in my life and give honor to those who have supported, loved, respected and continued to believe in me. This was a very difficult year for me both mentally and physically. I learned so many things about those close to me as well as myself. My mental strength was tested. My heart was broken. And at the end of it all I will have graduated college, a feat that was important to me as well as my late grandmother.

As I look forward to next month (graduation) and beyond, I think about where I will be this time next year. One message I heard over this break that resonates with me is looking at every situation with some sort of positivity. Instead of fearing the unknown, I welcome it with the highest of expectations. I can genuinely say I am grateful for what is yet to come.


Black Friday

7 days and counting until one of the biggest days in retail… Black Friday. It is the one day a year that businesses slash prices and create pandemonium across the country. For my family, it has always signaled the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Being the procrastinator that I am, I usually wait until the week before Christmas to begin my massive purchasing, however, this year (since I won’t be working) I have decided to join the masses and engage in the frenzy.

Marketers spend months planning for the next 6 weeks in retail. It is the time of year that yields the largest profit. I have always wondered, why then do they offer so many discounts?

Many small boutique retailers offer gifts with purchase, which makes more sense to me from a marketing standpoint. If you purchase something then you get something for free. However, the retailers that offer deeply discounted merchandise confuse me. I suppose large conglomerates like Wal-Mart can afford to participate in these sales.

I have been working in retail for over five years and every year the company I work for provides the customers with a GPW. Once we run out, that’s all folks! It is so interesting to watch consumers line up for hours in the cold, rain, snow and sleet for a free item or a discount. Our country is obsessed with saving money, no matter how much or how little.

In Public Relations, this idea of profit is not one we focus on, however, in marketing creating an increase in revenue is of the utmost importance. It would be interesting if PR firms gave a discount on their services for Black Friday, just in case some catastrophe happened like the Wal-Mart fiasco a few years ago, when shoppers were trampled trying to buy Xbox 360s. Several retailers have had very dark Black Fridays. Another example would be Toys R’ Us. In 2008 two people were killed in a shooting in Palm Desert, California. These incidents create negative reflections on these businesses and oftentimes cause tragedy during the joyous holiday season. These incidents could easily be avoided and perhaps the marketing industry should think twice about the way in which they are marketing the sales this season.

Hopefully the PR crisis’ are over for the holiday season are minimally and people can focus on the real reason for the season, food, family and being thankful.


Abuse of Social Media

 

Facebook and Twitter are fast becoming the primary form of communication in today’s society. Everything is validated through these media channels. Although I have heard from many that this was a true and relevant statement, I had never personally experienced it until this week.

 

My feelings about social media have always been good; I am able to keep in touch with people from elementary, middle, and high school that I probably never would have had it not been for Facebook and Twitter. I am able to view pictures of family members thousands of miles away. Recently I was able to meet with my journalism 4470 group without leaving the comfort of my home. It has even created a new sense of security when meeting new people, instead of giving out our phone number, like our parents did, we are able to add a person on Facebook first, as a sort of screening process. However, there is a dark side to these social media platforms.

 

Every Sex and the City fan remembers the infamous episode in which Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) was dumped on a Post-It; well if the series was on-air today that Post-It would have been replaced with Facebook. Although social media started as a way to connect with friends, it has evolved into a place where business is conducted. When I initially opened my Facebook account, I would say whatever I felt. Now I am much more conscience about my status updates and the pictures I post. After my experience this week, I am wondering if Facebook should only be used for one purpose or the other.

 

Mixing business and pleasure (or displeasure) has always been a no-no, but the line is blurred with social media. After realizing what had happened with my friend via Facebook I felt so many emotions and wanted to address the issue, however, not all of my 1154 friends are “personal” friends. Several are co-workers, managers, bosses, and teachers even! And detailing such a personal issue would be inappropriate, in my opinion.

 

Earlier this week, Google+ was featured on Good Morning America. Although I have signed up for the newest social media site, I have never participated or used the services. After watching the morning segment, I understood what differentiated the site from Facebook. With Google+ you are able to select the circle of people you are connected with before posting statues or pictures. It is a more customizable experience. You place your friends in “circles” and choose what circles you want to direct your content to.

 

When Google+ was first introduced I assumed that the site would fail and would not last until the end of the year. But after my personal experience, I can see the appeal. This week I learned a valuable lesson, social media is replacing interpersonal interaction in a way that I never thought it would. My experience left me baffled and a ball of emotions, one of which was shock. I was shocked that something so important, relevant and serious would be communicated with me over Facebook…without words. If this is the world my children will be raised in, I am frightened for them. Having interpersonal interaction is vital to the survival of our culture and to me, communicating serious life-changing things over social media is just plain rude.


Retail Rehab

Retail Rehab

 

The holidays are fast approaching and with them come good food, family and friends and of course shopping! The holidays are a time of year that we all focus on what is truly important to us: Our loved ones. Unfortunately for those individuals who work in customer service this is not a luxury they are afforded.

 

My Father’s family relocated to Texas from Michigan this year to be closer to the rest of the family, who already resided here. This will be the first holiday season that I would have had the opportunity to send time with them in a very long time. I have been working in retail for over five years and normally, because I did not travel to see my family in Michigan, I would work the busiest day of the year…Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving.) This year however, I wanted to spend the holiday with my family, being that it will be their first Thanksgiving in the same state as me. Much to my dismay I was told that I would have to work on Black Friday and there were no exceptions, all employees in the company would be working and failure to show up would result in possible termination.

 

I found this “policy” to be absolutely absurd! Is it ethical or wise from a internal standpoint to require this type of commitment from EVERY employee? I can understand requiring management to work these mandatory shifts because they are paid more and have taken on the responsibility of management. They are able to gain leadership skills as well as benefits that the lonely employees do not. A great example would be the “contest” an unnamed company held last Christmas, rewarding the district managers with Christian Louboutin shoes for the work the lonely sales associate actually completed. As a matter of fact, all management were given “perks” during the holiday season and the sales associates, who do most of the labor and have most of the interaction with customers, received nothing.

 

Several stories I have read over the past few years as well as my own personal experience leads me to believe that retailers are not valuing their employees like they once did. This is a serious indicator that there has been a break in internal communications. The best way to ensure success is to ensure you have happy employees. With the dip in the economy affecting every aspect of American life, obviously the business of retail is one that is essential to the success of the country as well as individuals’ livelihood and must do what is necessary to stay afloat. However, at some point one must consider the ramification of sacrificing the well being and happiness of its employees, especially those who have spent years of their lives working for these corporations. Surely companies could cut back in other areas.

 

It would be my advice to these companies to show some appreciation to their employees’ who trade in their turkey time for folding clothes. Although Black Friday is the busiest retail day of the year, individuals should be hired to work these special occasions exclusively. Treating seasoned employees as moving bodies and not humans with loved one is unacceptable and will one day won’t be tolerated. The retail world should be careful before disgruntled employees are “Occupying the Malls.”