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My Horse and Me Sequel

Can the new Atari game, My Horse and Me, for Nintendo DS and Wii do for horses what Guitar Hero did for musical instruments? Probably not. But, never the less, it is great to see video games for horse lovers making there way to the market. Has anyone played it? What do you think?

If you have a quick moment

Those of you who own horses, or are involved with horses should take a quick moment to fill out this survey. I saw The Horse‘s twitter about it this morning, and I think that it is very important that we get more information about the issue of unwanted horses. From personal experience, I have seen this become a major issue in the last few years. I am planning on writing a post later this week about the current horse buying market, but it will be interesting to see the data this survey yields. Please go take the survey. It takes about 7 minutes.

Letters we don’t want to write

No matter how hard we try, eventually all of us screw up. Whether it is at work, or in our personal lives, we will all eventually have to write an apology letter. I don’t want to give the wrong impression when I tell you that I have become pretty good at writing such letters, I am not a constant screw up. But I am not perfect either, and have done somethings that need apologizing for. I’ve found that a really good apology can speed up the process of forgiveness and mending relationships. So here is my basic template that I use to write an apology.

1. Dear (name of person)

2. I writing to apologise for (blank)
Stating what it is you are apologizing for should always come in the first sentence. It shows the person that you know what you have done and acknowledge that it needs to be apologized for.

3. A. there was no excuse for my actions
B. This mistake was the result of miscommunication among our staff.
The person whom you have wronged will want some sort of reasoning behind your actions. A. works best for personal apology letters and is better than saying something along the lines of “I was having a bad day,” or “I had just broken up with my boyfrined.” The person who is receiving the letter does not care about your personal issues and will not see them as a valid excuse for doing the thing you did. It is better to just take the full blame without trying to make excuses. B. works best for job situations like coworkers or clients. You want to give them a reason for the mistake without going into to much detail and making yourself, or you company, look unprofessional. Give them a reason, but keep it somewhat vague.

4. I (we) am (are) very sorry for this mistake.
After saying what it is that you have done and giving a reason for why it happened, make sure to say you are sorry.

5. It will not happen again.
The person who is reading the apology will appreciate that you know what you did and are willing to learn from your mistakes. NOTE: it is very important that you don’t do whatever it is you are apologizing for again, if you do you will look like a two-faced moron.

6. I (we) hope you can forgive me (us) for this error.
This statement kind of puts the ball in the reader’s court. It puts them in control of where the situation goes, and a person who feels wronged will enjoy feeling that sort of power over you.

7. I am a big fan of your work and hope that we can continue to do business in the future.
Say something nice about them! It never hurts to suck up. Make sure to end the letter by saying something that shows you want the relationship to continue.

Though writing a good apology note cannot heal all wounds, it is a good start that will make you look like a professional and a good person instead of a person who does (whatever it was you did).


A new form of social media

I thought I would drop you all a little note about a new social networking site that I found. It is called Stickam, and basically it is like Myspace but with webcams. The site features user-submitted pictures, audio, video and live webcasts. Additionally, it allows users to embed their streaming webcam feeds into other web sites via a flash player.

I think this could be huge because it incorporates everything we love about myspace and facebook – profiles, pictures, video, networking – with the extra twist of being able to show you friends what you are doing at any point in time. It’s like twitter, but with web cams!

Credibility

The idea behind the “Made to Stick” chapter called “Credibility” is that readers are trained to be skeptical about where there information comes from, and we as writers must find ways to give our writing more authority. The Heaths talk about a few different techniques for giving your message more credibility: external validation, statistics, testable credentials and using examples that pass the “Sinatra Test.” An example passes the Sinatra Test when one example alone is enough to establish credibility in a given domain.

External validation is a nice way of adding credibility to your message; especially if that person giving the validation is an antiauthority. An antiauthority is a person who you would not expect to serve as a spokes person; for example, a woman dying of lung cancer doing an anti-smoking ad instead of a traditional authority like a doctor or nurse.

Statistics are also a good way to increase the credibility of your ideas. Statistics are concrete and easy to understand (e.g. you are 25 percent more likely to eat a hot dog today than a corn dog). People like statistics because they add authority to the message, and no matter who did the study, most people take the numbers to be true.

As public relations professionals we must be able to add effectively add credibility to our message so that people will not assume every press release or media advisory is just a cheap sales ploy in disguise.

Concrete

In chapter 3 of “Made to Stick,” authors Dan and Chip Heath discuss the importance of using concrete language to convey abstract ideas. The curse of knowledge is a very important cause of poor writing. Sometimes a writer will be doing a story on a subject that they know very well, but the resulting work is confusing and uninteresting. The reader cannot understand the story in the way the writer does because they lack the same knowledge. As writers, we need to learn to take a step back from our work and read it through the eyes of our readers. Using lots of examples and metaphors are a good way to explain your subject matter. The Heaths described a story in which an accounting teacher had great success by using  the example of helping a friend run their business.

The creative team at HP took it to the next level by building a life sized display to demonstrate how its computers could help run Disney theme parks.

So how do we learn to make our writing more concrete? I think the most important this book tries to convey is that we should think like our readers. What do they understand? What would make our writing more interesting? By doing that our ideas will become less abstract and our stories more sticky.

PR for Equestrian Team

from the Oregon Daily Emerald Web siteTwo weeks ago I got an email from Catie Ciciretto, a multimedia reporter for the Oregon Daily Emerald, saying she was interested in doing a story on the U of O Equestrian Team. Since I am always game for some free publicity for the team, I happily agreed. Her is the video that came from it. It features myself, coordinator for the equestrian team, Mike Galloway, owner of the UO Equestrian Team’s new home barn, Triple Rise Equestrian Center and Major Defoe, owner of the Oregon Horse Center. It is set during the annual Mother’s Day Classic at the Oregon Horse Center.

What I like about this video, and I think Catie did a good job conveying, is that horse shows are not just a hobby for some people, they’re serious competitions and big business for a large niche of people. At the Mother’s Day Show especially, people put down big money to train and prepare for a shot at the $10,000 prize of the mini grand prix, a competition featured in the video in which a rider must guide their horse through a course of nearly 5-foot-high fences (this is generally the highest level of competition).

Catie is a very cool girl and my team and I had a great time showing her the ins and outs of the horse show world. Hopefully, during our the Equestrian Team’s competitions, we will have a great contact at the ODE and be able to create more good PR for the team