Trick or Treat: Tips for Avoiding the Story Graveyard

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Walking by a neighborhood lawn with dangling glow-in-the-dark skeletons and giant spiders is not surprising in this spooky season. A creative art teacher DIY’d his front lawn into a graveyard with 2017’s dying trends like #Dabbing #OmbreHair #HomemadeSlime #NormalSeasons and more. Students can prevent their story ideas from dying by improving one simple habit in three different ways as recommended by BYU School of Communications professors. #CommsTrickorTreat

Trick [noun] /trɪk/ an effective way of doing something: Watch the news to stay on top of trends 

“PR firms and PR people in many ways really need to understand what’s going on in the world around them because we are changing it and we’re supposed to make a difference in the world, and if our heads are in the sand, it’s tough for us to do that sometimes,” said associate professor Robert Wakefield.

A class of senior PR students taking 425 Digital Storytelling were assigned to read relevant digital stories outside class at least 20 minutes a day, 4 times a week. By doing this, students are exposed to new concepts and industry insights that helps them to create relevant content.

“Reading helps us to become more well-rounded, particularly for communication professionals, we need to read news media stories, beyond what typically show up in the social media feeds, to understand the world we live in and create content that’s engaging,” said assistant professor Pamela Brubaker.

Or [conj] /ər/ to indicate an alternative: Grow or remain stagnant

Kyra Sutherland, a senior PR student reads the newspaper on campus during her class break.

“There’s no substitute for writing like reading; reading how words come together, seeing how they fit on a page, seeing how they tell the story in different ways… great storytellers are great writers,” said associate teaching professor Joseph Ogden.

Reading consistently not only keeps students up-to-date with current events, but also transforms them into great writers. This is especially important for communication professionals to acquire excellent writing skills, which ranked among the top skills needed for PR professionals by Regan’s PR Daily.

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“There’s no substitute for writing like reading; reading how words come together, seeing how they fit on a page, seeing how they tell the story in different ways… great storytellers are great writers,”

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The more students read, the more story ideas they generate. “You don’t realize what you are picking up as you are reading, even the new vocabulary and ways to structure sentences to tell a story. I read a wide range of authors,” Ogden said.

Treat [verb]/ˈtrēt /to provide with enjoyment: Read what you love

“Enjoy what you read. I think we should develop a broad range of interests, and become experts and opinion leaders in some of those areas. It’s great because it adds a lot of spice to life,” Ogden said.

Besides reading from the prominent news outlets and PR newsletters, communication professors recommend students read a variety of books and articles to help them to become better storytellers. Students should find topics that they are interested in and spend time to explore more in-depth.

Reading news about business, the latest technology, and pop culture will expand students’ knowledge sphere, and inspire them to create meaningful and engaging content that stay out of the trend graveyard.


Written by Cloud He


BYU’s “best day ever” with Snapchat sensation Shonduras

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eneration Z is obsessed with Snapchat—a mobile app that allows users to send pictures and videos to friends that self-destruct after a specific amount of time. Since Snapchat was released five years ago in 2012, it has accumulated 150 million daily active users globally. One of those users has taken the app to the next level, becoming one of the first people to make money off his intricate Snapchat art.

Snapchat personality

Shaun McBride, better known as Shonduras, is a social media storyteller, professional fun-haver and Snapchat sensation. The social media icon built his following by turning his snapchats into creative masterpieces using his finger as a drawing tool (see photo)His success quickly spread from Snapchat to other social media platforms, and he then launched a social media consulting business. His list of clients includes brands like MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. He’s currently on a mission to make every day “the best day ever”, with over 620 days documented on his YouTube channel.

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]If you only follow the trends, your life is going to be boring.[/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″]

Shonduras recently spent a “best day ever” at BYU, as the keynote speaker of the Y Digital Agency’s launch event. Along with him, the BYU School of Communications students enjoyed their own best day ever thanks to his infectious energy and equally influential tips for success. 

The newest My Little Pony featuring rainbow hair grandma from Shonduras’ flight. Photo via Shonduras Snapchat

Stories worth sharing

Nick Glover is a junior in the public relations program, and spent the spring and summer working on various client accounts in the Y Digital Agency. Glover loved how Shonduras emphasized that everyone has stories worth sharing – they just need to find a creative way to tell them. Shonduras illustrated this message through reliving the story of his brand partnership with Inside-Out Doritos. To promote the brand, he filmed himself snowboarding inside his house. Talk about outside the box.

Work smarter not harder

Abigail Keenan, a senior in the news media program, is an up and coming photographer widely known around campus for her Insta brand. Her biggest takeaway was the importance of understanding the people you’re working with, and how this allows you to work smarter instead of harder. Shonduras did just that when he created a jewelry boutique on Facebook. Jewelry was a niche market he didn’t have much experience in, so he asked for suggestions for product names from his target audience. Similarly, Keenan has a goal to better understand her audience as she sets out to turn her side hustle into a career.

Any idea can be made interesting

“What may be uninteresting to you might be fascinating to someone else,” said James Perry, a senior in the public relations program. He loved how Shonduras explained this concept through the example of a dairy farmer’s vlog. To some, the daily life of a farmer might be boring, but to others, like Shonduras, its intriguing. Does the farmer milk cows all day or does he play with his other animals? Just as Shonduras proves, any life or idea can truly be made interesting through a little hard work and creativity.

“If you only follow the trends, your life is going to be boring” said Shonduras.

Written by Claire Sonksen


Four Digital Marketing Tools Every Communications Pro Should Know

top tech programs for communications professionals.

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s the digital world grows increasingly complex, these digital software programs will make your professional life simpler. Get ahead of the pack after graduation by becoming an expert at these four different social media tools.

Big names like Disney, Warner Brothers and The Pew Research Center use these programs to find answers to their questions. Now BYU Communications students can learn to use these tools to help solve their problems too.

What’s all the buzz about Buzz Sumo?

What types of things are most intriguing? What are people talking about and sharing online? Buzz Sumo lets you see what content is getting the most attention online and helps you find out why.

  • Works as a search engine that gathers and ranks content based on its likes and shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Google+ and Pinterest.
  • Tracks the source of the shared content and anyone who has linked to the articles.
  • Helps to understand influencers and the types of content they’ve pushed to go viral.
  • Uses a “Question Analyzer” since September 2017. It scans forums and sites like Quora, Reddit and Amazon and pinpoints trending questions people are asking on any chosen topic.

What makes Crimson Hexagon the Data King?

During the summer of 2016, BYU Comms Professor Joseph Ogden decided to brush up on the newest tech by becoming a part-time intern at Edelman New York. Referring to his experience he said, “In my visits to agencies that summer, almost every person I asked said the most powerful social listening tool they had been using was Crimson Hexagon. That’s when I knew we needed it at our school and in our lab.”

Crimson Hexagon is a leading social listening tool that monitors more than what people are saying online. It can track how consumers are feeling about a brand and what motivates that audience through the analysis of social data the company owns.

  • Maintains the biggest social data library online with 1 trillion posts and counting.
  • Improves sentiment analysis by analyzing how people feel about brands based off the images and context of the post as opposed to analyzing the literal text alone.
  • Profiles an audience accurately by identifying the demographics and psychographics of specific groups of people.
  • Recommends key messaging based on the consumers’ interactions with brand on social media. Makes recommendations on how the company can use the data to influence their business decisions.

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]In my visits to agencies that summer, almost every person I asked said the most powerful social listening tool they had been using was Crimson Hexagon.[/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Is HYP3R living up to the hype?

If the Golden State Warriors are using it, it must live up to the hype. HYP3R is a geosocial marketing platform. The technology uses geo-fencing and social media monitoring to enhance experiences at venues like stadiums, hotels or even hospitals. CEO of HYP3R, Carlos Garcia, said, “The goal is to organize the social activity of places around the world.”

  • Tracks all public social activity in a specific location, regardless of hashtags and mentions.
  • Humanizes companies by getting them to engage in online conversations with customers in more personal ways.
  • Enhances customer experience by listening online to values and needs. For example, Marriott’s chief global marketing officer, Karen Timpone, explained that when someone posts a wedding engagement photo from one of their properties, the Marriott team can get ahold of the location and reach out to their customers with champagne, a room upgrade, or a free appetizer.

New to Nuvi?

Another stellar digital analysis company, Nuvi, offers a real-time visualization software created by a BYU alumni. NUVI is designed to produce actionable insights through social listening. Like Crimson Hexagon, Nuvi provides a convenient interface that makes it easy to analyze publics, competition and self-performance.

  • Uses a wide range of social platforms including Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, Facebook, VK (one of the top social networking sources in the world), and Stack Overflow (a community of 6.6 million programmers). The program also has a list of more than three million blogs and RSS feeds.
  • Monitors keywords, groups and topics in more than twenty languages.
  • Allows users to manage and control communication crises from one central platform.

What Now?

All these programs are available for free to BYU Communications students. Whether you end up at an agency, corporation, university or non-profit organization, learning these four digital marketing platforms will help you stay ahead of the curve in this competitive industry.

Written by Kei Akoi Clark


BYU Students Takeover Social Media Feeds of NASCAR and Major League Baseball, Help Fortune 100 Company

Major League Baseball stadium

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ive of BYU’s brightest minds were recruited by a Fortune 100 company this spring for brand research among Major League Baseball and NASCAR fans.

BYU communication students used live social media engagement software right from their BYU campus lab, honing in on stadiums of the sporting events to gauge brand interest of the fans in attendance.

The School of Communications is under a firm non-disclosure agreement with the Fortune 100 company. The NDA prevents any mention of the sponsor’s brand and products and as such, the client and its products will not be mentioned in this story.

Among those bright minds was Y Digital Lab account manager, Tassji Krupczynski. Reflecting on her experience she said, “Large brands are able to truly humanize their social when they talk to audiences, and we can help them do that.” The results Krupczynski’s team collected helped the client identify valuable sponsorship opportunities and move forward with data to back their business decisions.

Using HYP3R digital software, the students geo-fenced NASCAR tracks, then engaged fans on behalf of their client. Geofencing uses GPS or radio frequency identification (RFID) to outline geographic borders. After the virtual barrier is created, a generated trigger alerts the lab’s students of any mentions of the company coming from the selected space. The geo-fence allowed the BYU team to identify and initiate conversations with NASCAR fans attending the races who showed interest in the client’s brand.

BYU Y Digital students evaluate and respond to posts of fans attending NASCAR events
BYU Y Digital students evaluate and respond to posts of fans attending NASCAR events. (Adam Durfee/ Y Digital)

The BYU students tracked and analyzed posts that fans generated about the brand. They interacted with the fans by asking questions about both the brand and the races. During the 24 hour social media takeover, the Y Digital Lab increased the brand share voice of the client company by 48 percent – nearly half of the people within the geo-fence were talking or posting about the brand.

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]It was pretty phenomenal,In the history of engagement software where they’re measuring this stuff on a regular basis, Y Digital achieved one of the highest return on engagement statistics for live social campaigns.[/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

“It was pretty phenomenal,” said Director of Y Digital Adam Durfee. “In the history of engagement software where they’re measuring this stuff on a regular basis, Y Digital achieved one of the highest return on engagement statistics for live social campaigns.” The outcome then led the national brand to see the benefits of promoting their products at NASCAR races.

The members of the Y Digital Lab are changing the game of digital marketing. These students are testing the social presence of national brands at high-profile events and allowing them to hone in on lucrative target markets.  After major success with NASCAR, the students took the same research experiment and a different product of the Fortune 100 company to various Major League Baseball stadiums.

The lab conducted similar live social media monitoring and engaged with baseball fans. But this time around, MLB fans weren’t nearly as responsive. Baseball fans showed minimal interest and low social engagement during the brand’s presence at the major-league games.

Both the NASCAR and MLB research done by BYU’s communications students helped identify the venues where the client’s products would be most successful.

BYU’s Y Digital team continues to work with notable companies through live social projects, right from their lab at BYU. Keep up with them online at

Written by: Kei Akoi Clark