My Internship Experience

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Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake

In November 2016 I decided to undertake an internship as part of my media and communications degree at Deakin University. I must admit, my initial decision to do an internship had a lot to do with the fact that it would count towards my degree, but little did i know that it would end up meaning so much more to me than just another credit point that I could add to my degree.

Since I had so much time off for summer break (almost 4 months- yay for no exams!) I decided to do two internships at the same company, which allowed me to spend time at two completely different departments. The company I chose to do my Internship at was John Keells Holdings PLC which is based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Here I worked in both the Corporate Communications department and the brand marketing department for Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, which is a group of hotels that the company is responsible for.

My first stop was the corporate communications department. My task here was to revamp the company’s existing blog page. Being given that much responsibility seemed like a daunting task, and I must admit I was quite intimidated, this wasn’t going to be the same as creating a blog for myself, this was a blog page for Sri Lanka’s biggest blue chip company- no pressure there!

Thankfully, I rose to the challenge. I got to work with the company that handled their websites and after deciding on a new theme for the page, started adding all the other features and even ended up creating a short video for the website.

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A flyer I created to engage employees via Canva

In addition to this, I also came up with a plan to try and get employees to send in posts regularly- thinking back to my experiences with motivating myself, I decided to try Gamifaction methods and set out to create flyers via canva encouraging employees to send in posts by offering them incentives such as free meal vouchers and opportunities to sit down for chats with higher ups in the company.

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Another flyer created via Canva

The day I got the email saying that my work was officially live was a pretty great moment, it was one thing to do the work but to actually have the company decide that it was fit for public viewing was just an amazing confidence booster! As for my Gamification methods, I’m happy to say that they worked, I’m constantly seeing updates on the companies Instagram and Facebook Pages showcasing employees who won the incentives promised.

After spending two weeks at the corporate communications department, it was time to move on to the brand communications for Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts. A little background information, ‘Cinnamon’ is the chain of hotels and resorts that come under John Keells Holdings PLC, they have a total of 14 Hotels with 3 of them being in the Maldives.

In contrast to my previous office, this one was a lot more lively, this probably lends itself to the fact that majority of employees were under the age of 30, making it a genuinely fun and interesting workplace- to say there was never a dull moment would be an understatement!

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Screenshot of a Snapchat I sent out from the Cinnamon account.

Aside from all the fun, there was some serious work being done here, the brand communications team was responsible for all PR, events and social media for the Cinnamon brand. I spent time working with each of these teams, but the aspect I found most interesting was social media management. A couple of days after I joined, Cinnamon Hotels decided to launch its snapchat account- and to my delight I was given access to the account and even posted a few snaps myself!

I ended up working at this department well after my required number of hours and I’m really glad I did, because the last project I was involved in was a social media workshop that was organised to educate all hotel staff on the importance of engaging customers through social platforms and how they can contribute to content- I even gave a short presentation on how Snapchat can be used for promoting the brand!

Aside from all the great projects and activities that I was able to get involved in, the best thing about these internships was that it cemented my love for all things media, after this experience I have no doubt that this is the type of industry that I want to be involved in after I graduate- it’s one thing to sit and study it, but you can never be 100% sure until you go out and put everything you have learnt to practice out in the real world!

I hope someone (anyone?) reading this will think about taking up an internships while at university themselves- whether it is for credit or not. If you go to Deakin University in Melbourne like me, get in touch with the WIL team ASAP- I promise you, you will not regret it 🙂

Fame Game.

Group Members:

  • Anithra Ratnayake
  • Alice Kurowski
  • Yasmin Allaf
  • Jackson Woolan

Celebrity is a concept that everyone of us is all too familiar with in the world that we live in today. It is a status that can be somewhat hard to achieve, as it is a business that is extremely hard to infiltrate and even harder to be successful in.Although it is a difficult industry to get into, it is still a profession that many people aspire to have. The argument can be made by some that the money and recognition that comes with fame, outweighs the negative aspects of it.

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                                                                 Picture taken by Jackson Woolan

For our video, we decided to portray an exaggerated version of the celebrity lifestyle. Due to their elevated status, people essentially act as though celebrities don’t deserve the same rights and that privacy is a privilege and ultimately the price they must pay for fame. This then forces them to live in a world of constant
surveillance denying them of their basic rights to privacy.

Having an extensive list of options let us select a topic and genre which everyone felt comfortable working with and also complimented the variety of talents within our group. It also encouraged us to think creatively and explore topics which interested and challenged us, therefore making us feel more connected and involved in the work we were creating.

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Our Protagonist, Alice (No Last Name)

The variety of skills and strengths we had allowed us to create a detailed concept for our video and execute it effectively. After deciding that our video would focus on celebrity surveillance, the next step was deciding on the style in which we wanted the story we were telling to be presented.

We considered a more serious news/documentary style film resembling the TV show E! True Hollywood Story and even considered going completely out of our comfort zones and attempting to portray our ideas in the form of a broadway musical. Ultimately however, our singing chops proved to be less than adequate which prompted us to rely on our sense of humour as opposed to our vocal cords.

In the end, we settled on the mockumentary genre as we all agreed that humour was the best way to get our message across. Without dwelling too much on the dark side of celebrity privacy, we did elude to the fact that being a celebrity is not always as glamorous as made out to be.

This was portrayed through the journey of our protagonist, Alice. Her rise and fall to fame showed some of the hardships of being a celebrity such as constantly being surveilled by paparazzi and the public.

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Magazine cover for our protagonist Alice (No Last Name) created via canva

The way Alice deals with and reacts to her fame represents the way in which celebrities are portrayed as these unattainable people that many of us  aspire to be and how this treatment can make them believe they are above others, which is clearly demonstrated in the video during Alice’s interview with Yasmin.

Alice’s ultimate downfall was a combination of inflated ego and frustration with the overwhelming obsession with her life, both private and public. Although he didn’t have the same outcome, we drew inspiration for our protagonist from world-famous celebrity Justin Bieber who has become infamous for his outbursts and wrongdoings. Claiming that he believes he is not recognised as a human, Bieber said he feels “like a zoo animal” incapable of keeping his sanity.

We also argue towards the end, that even though Alice tries to ‘quit’ being a celebrity, the reality is that she will never really be able to do so. Once you have gained significant public interest, the chances of you ever becoming ‘normal’ again is slim to none. Celebrities like Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan are proof of this, as although they are long past their days of living in the spotlight, they struggle to escape the fame and lack of privacy.

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Anithra Taking a Selfie break while editing our video

To create our video, we engaged in many forms of media to complete a number of specific processes. This included, brainstorming, scripting, rehearsing, refining, producing and editing to make sure our end product was professional and entertaining but overall demonstrated the key surveillance message in relation to the topic we chose.

As with creating any forms of media, a number of specific processes needed to be undertaken, this was no exception to our video presentation. Our group worked individually and together to progress through the many stages of media making. Going through these processes was critical as it allowed us to stay on track and collaborate effectively. It was crucial that we worked together as a team as the majority of the time we were working online and therefore had to ensure we all completed our work in a timely manner as constructive feedback was imperative to creating good content.

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Anithra and Yasmin preparing to film a scene.

Online collaboration was critical in allowing us to collaborate from a distance, helping us to give constructive feedback and also to have an input on how the video came together. Google Hangouts, Google Drive, Skype and Dropbox became our preferred modes of communication. Each of these apps proved to be extremely useful when it came to collaborating as it effectively allowed us to communicate and share files with each other while simultaneously working together on one document.

At the end of the day, the topic we chose and the methods through which we chose to collaborate aided us in not only completing a project that we are proud of, but also one that we had a lot of fun doing. No two people are alike, and that was no exception for our group. Working with different skill sets and personalities enabled us not only to produce an accurate representation of our ideas, but also taught us a couple of skills that we will take away with us long after graduation.

Below is the final result of our collaborative video, we hope you enjoy watching it just as much as we enjoyed making it!

Images Used:

Hollywood by Eva Luedin CC BY 2.0

Red Carpet by Allan Light CC BY 2.0

Somewhere Inside the machine by Robert Couse-Baker CC BY 2.0

Reese Witherspoon at 83rd Academy Awards Red Carpet IMG_1306 by Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media TV CC BY-SA 2.0

Kim Kardashian-West, Parramatta Westfield Sydney by Eva Rinaldi CC BY-SA 2.0

Magazine and Tabloid covers created by Anithra Ratnayake Via Canva

Music Used:

SimplySound- Genefikk (Happy Silly Classic Rap Beat Hip Hop Instrumental 2014) by YourRapBeatsTV CC BY 3.0

Element Beatz- Sky (Epic Sad Thoughtful Rap Beat Hip Hop Instrumental) by YourRapBeatsTV CC BY 3.0

My #ALC205 Experience

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                           Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, September 2016

This semester I started an unit called ‘Digital Media and the Surveillance Society’ as part of my media and communications degree at university. I must admit, this was a core unit and I really had no choice but to enrol- however I’m glad I did because I ended up gaining a few skills that will no doubt come in handy long after my graduation. 

Having done an unit last semester with similar expectations, I was quietly confident that I would be able to make the most of the unit and continue to build by online presence. What I didn’t realise however, was that my productivity was really going to be put to the test. 

The main theme surrounding the unit was obviously surveillance and the many ways that we come across it in today’s society, which when you think about it is endless- there are countless articles discussing surveillance and the negative and positive aspects of this in various areas from  social media to home surveillance

Finding topics to discuss and blog about wasn’t the hard part, the hard part was actually getting myself to blog every week and surpass the two blog requirement for assessment, especially when there were no weekly readings which meant that I had to find my own resources to support the arguments that I was making. It wasn’t an impossible task, but it was one that required a high level of motivation- at least for me. 

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                   Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, September 2016

When the unit chair suggested gamifying the unit for ourselves, I jumped at the chance. This meant that I would give myself a number of points every time I posted anything online that was relevant to the unit including blog posts, tweets, videos and podcasts. Starting from zero points my goal was to get to 500 points by the end of semester. 

The task seemed daunting and I knew in order to be successful I had to make sure that my rewards were things I actually wanted. The tweet embedded below shows the rewards that I set for myself for every milestone (or level) that I reached.

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                                  Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, September 2016

As you can see, I have a bit of an online shopping problem, but lets ignore that for now. I set my rewards to be items that I knew I would be happy to get myself, and as a result found that I had that extra motivation I needed to get the most out of an unit like this. As for my last reward, the unicorn pool float- I had been wanting to buy one for a while now and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to finally purchase it! 

Aside from retail therapy, I also ended up learning quite a bit about what works for me in terms of self motivation. In the real world, no one is going to stand over your shoulder and yell at you until you achieve something- It’s all up to you. As a result of this I think it is important to find a way to motivate yourself to make the most out of a situation, whether it be life, work or university. 

The gamification strategy is obviously not going to work for everybody, but for me it worked like a charm. I also think it’s quite fitting that the moment this post is published I will reach the last level on my gamification score board- unicorn pool float, I’m coming for you! 

 

 

 

CCTV In the Home

It’s true isn’t it? We live in a world where we are under constant surveillance, as a result we tend to become so fixated on this being an invasion of privacy, that we manage to forget that surveillance, specifically in the form of CCTV is quite beneficial- most often when it comes to preventing crime.

A couple of years ago, my house back in Sri Lanka had a break in attempt. My big strong guard dog, who normally would have scared off the intruders had decided to take a day off and was off sunbathing in our garden. Luckily, this incredibly smart thief decided to rob the house in broad daylight and my mother managed to spot him while he was climbing up through the balcony and scare him off.

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                                                              Picture taken by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

My house does have a security guard  stationed at the front day and night. However, they are human as well and as a result are not able to stay awake or keep careful watch the entire time. So what was our answer to ensure that we felt safe in our home? CCTV.

The use of CCTV in homes is quite common in today’s society. Crime rates are increasing, and as a result of this people are “increasingly finding themselves more responsible for their personal safety and well-being” (Rapoport, 2012).

With advancements in technology these days, you are able to monitor your CCTV footage on your phone or on your TV. Of course, my parents have no idea how to connect to it in the first place, but I log in from time to time and I think for them, even though they aren’t quite sure how to work it, the idea that the option is available to them becomes a comfort in its own right.

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Picture taken by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

Dealing with technology however is never without its problems. As you can see from the image on the right, one of the cameras in my house has lost signal. This is because we recently discovered that someone had actually damaged the camera while attempting it to turn it away from them. Clearly, this time the thieves that were attempting to rob our house were a bit smarter than the last.

This type of incident I guess could prompt the question of how effective surveillance cameras are if they are actually visible to people. In one way they may prevent them from doing wrong, at the same time thieves could simply find a way around it and continue the criminal act.

Another downside to home surveillance that is quite scary, is that you are vulnerable to hackers, especially if you have installed cameras inside the home itself. The article that I tweeted out above, tells quite a scary tale about how hackers infiltrated CCTV cameras that were installed in someone’s home.

At the end of the day, the use of CCTV cameras at home can be argued as both positive and negative. Although, It can’t be said for sure if it actually does deter from anti social and criminal behaviours, one thing is certain, if your home is broken into- the surveillance footage that you capture will definitely prove invaluable in providing evidence to police so that they actually end up identifying the offenders. CCTV might not be the most effective in preventing crime, but there’s no arguing that it makes us feel safe and secure- and who doesn’t want that when they’re at home?

 

 

References

Rapoport, M,  2012, ‘The Home Under Surveillance: A Tripartite Assemblage’, Surveillance & Society, vol. 10, no. 3/4, p. 320

Netflix & Spy?

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Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

Procrastination. All of us have been subjected to this monster at some time or another. I myself am an expert procrastinator. What is my go-to activity when I have so much to do and my brain just won’t allow me to be productive? Netflix.

Millions of people log into Netflix everyday and spend hours binge watching an ever-expanding selection of movies, TV shows and documentaries covering a range of genres. There really is something available for everyone.

Netflix knows how to keep you hooked, the minute you finish watching 7 seasons of a TV show, you are immediately shown something else to watch suggesting that this is something that “you might also enjoy”, how did they know I would enjoy that?!

An article that I came across recently on my twitter feed, got me thinking about how Netflix uses data-driven marketing to learn more about their users in order to keep developing more focused recommendations, so that they can ensure that their customers keep coming back for more. This got me thinking about just how much of my usage on the site is being tracked and how I felt about it.

“Netflix has two basic methods of determining users’ preferences: by asking what they prefer or by inferring what they prefer from (patterns in) discrete interactions within the system” (Lawrence, 2015, p. 359). 

 

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                                                                        Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

The first of these two methods is quite standard, while the latter relies on specific algorithms that focus more on the information that its users reveal, rather than state when it comes to their preferences.

In other words, the company has programs in place that track your recently played and most viewed genres on the website to then generate media that you might be interested in watching.

One of the main reasons that the Company tracks their users in this way is to ensure customer satisfaction. Below is a short video that I created and tweeted out explaining this in more detail.

Although Netflix keeps their algorithms hidden from the public these days, this wasn’t always the case. In 2006, Netflix announced a competition that gave the opportunity for an “individual or team to develop a recommendation system capable of predicting movie ratings with at least 10% greater accuracy than Cinematch, the company’s existing system” (Hallinan & Striphas, 2016, p.118). This competition was called the ‘Netflix Prize’ and offered the winners $1 million in prize money.

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Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

The competition went on for three years (yes, that long) and although the company did not end up using the winners algorithm, according to Hallinan and Striphas (2016), the company’s quest to find new and more extensive ways to connect its users with movies that they love interfered with cultural foundations, and in doing so they managed to make a connection between algorithms and art.

Most companies and websites use algorithms and data mining techniques in order to keep track of their users and help better our experiences online. Social Media sites such as Facebook are well versed in such methods. Yes, the idea of this can seem quite scary and it can even be argued as an invasion of privacy. However, the fact that Netflix has adopted these methods for me, personally, doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. How else would I decide what TV show to watch next?

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References

  • Gomez-Uribe, C, & Hunt, N 2015, ‘The Netflix recommender system: Algorithms, business value, and innovation’, ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems, vol. 6, no. 4. Available from: 10.1145/2843948. [24 August 2016].

 

  • Hallinan, B, Striphas, T, 2016, ‘Recommended for you: The Netflix Prize and the production of algorithmic culture’, New Media & Society 2016, Vol. 18, no.1, Sage Publications ltd., p. 118-119, DOI: 10.1177/1461444814538646

 

 

  • Lawrence,E, 2015, ‘Everything is a Recommendation: Netflix, Altgenres and the Construction of Taste’, Knowledge Organisation, Vol. 42, no. 5, p.359, Applied Science & Technology Source, EBSCOhost, viewed August 24 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Big Brother Goes for Gold! (Surveillance and Elite Athletes)

Admittedly, I am not much of a sports fan. Whenever there’s a sporting event on TV you will always find me in the back of the room watching the clock and hoping that the time will soon come to change the channel. When it comes to swimming however, my thoughts differ. I will spend hours in front of the TV watching every single race.

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Rio 2016 by Ian Burt CC BY 2.0

The Olympics as a result is no exception. Last week was pretty much a blur for me, I spent every morning from 11.03 am glued to my TV screen watching every swimming event.I celebrated with the victors and felt the pain of the defeated. Basically, I was hooked. I think its safe to say however, that I was not alone in this, all over the world people were tuned in whether to cheer on their country or watch the legendary Michael Phelps swim in his last Olympics.

When it comes to sports and its elite athletes, the term surveillance doesn’t often come to mind. When you really think about it though, surveillance is quite prominent in sport. The most obvious way of course, is through the fandom.

“Sports organizations now benefit from labour provided by fans who post information on the internet and their public interactions with, and observances of, professional athletes”(Sanderson, 2009, p. 241).

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Phelps and Lochte by Incase CC BY 2.0

Sports fans spend time documenting and capturing images of athletes and sporting events, the growth of the Internet and Social Media now means that fans can easily share these thoughts and images. What fans don’t realise is that they are essentially acting as sports journalists and as a result publications are able to capitalise on this for minimum cost.

Although this form of surveillance can be seen as an invasion of privacy, it can still be considered relatively harmless when comparing it with other forms of surveillance that elite athletes come face to face with. While watching the swimming I noticed during the post race interviews (yes, I watch those too) that a common statement by athletes was “I’ll go back and watch my race to see where I can improve”. Advancements in technology today means that practice sessions and even races are recorded for athletes and coaches to go back and study over and over again.

An article that was published on the conversation argues that even though this type of surveillance is used to help improve the athletes technique, it can also end up being quite harmful to the athlete. Although this article uses the example of team sports, I believe the same can be argued for individual sports as well. This type of constant surveillance and data management has such a big focus on performance that it can create a sort of machine mentality, essentially making athletes seem like superheroes as opposed to what they really are, human.

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Gold Medal Olympic Boxer by Paul Hudson CC BY 2.0

Surveillance to this extent creates an added pressure for the athlete where every little mistake that they make can be picked up on and scrutinised by their coaches. Athletes and their coaches rely heavily on this type of data capture and believe that it really does improve their race performance. The question the article poses however, is how long this mentality will last.

Elite Athletes might as well be celebrities in todays society, and most of them are. As a result of this it can be argued that invasion of privacy is just part of the job description. The more successful they become, the more fans they accumulate and their public interest rating sky rockets.

Continuing advancements in technology however, allows for increased surveillance in athletes day-to-day lives and the question that has to be asked is if whether this is going to harm them or help them in the long run? For me, personally, I think this can be argued either way- it can be both a blessing and a curse.

 

 

 

References:

  • Sanderson, Jimmy, 2009, ‘Professional Athletes’ Shrinking Privacy Boundaries: Fans, Information and Communication Technologies, and Athlete Monitoring’, International Journal of Sport Communication, vol.2, no.2, Arizona State University, USA, p. 241, retrieved 17th August 2016, Communication and Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost.

 

Shopping For Facebook- How Target Ads Benefit Businesses.

Last week during my daily (ok, hourly) Facebook scroll there was an ad on my news feed that caught my eye. What I found interesting was how it ended up on my news feed in the first place. I hadn’t visited the site before, nor had I searched for the product on any other site, yet it was something that I never knew I wanted, I just had to buy it.

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                          Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, September 2016

In a previous blog post I said that social media sites sometimes know us even better than we know ourselves. The idea of this can be quite unnerving,is that how they knew I was planning on travelling to the Maldives in the summer and therefore needed beach accessories?

The ads that appear on your Facebook feed are there for a reason, they are targeted directly at you and the type of person that they believe you are.

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Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, September 2016

 

Traditionally, advertising was seen as a media message that the audience was expected to consume. Through the process of social media advertising however, individuals are now able to “become part of creating, developing and distributing advertising content” (Kim, et. al, 2015, p. 323). When we are shown advertisements that we are genuinely interested in seeing, we are more likely to interact and share that content with our friends.

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Social media sites are invaluable to businesses when it comes to advertising. The infograph on the right highlights the top three reasons why companies are using Facebook for advertising.

All three of these reasons come together because of target advertising. This means that now companies can ensure that they are reaching their most relevant demographics. By doing this, it also ensures that no funds are wasted as “the aim of sophisticated targeting through advertising is not to waste a single eyeball” (Curran, et.al, 2011, p. 29).

The rise of target advertising on social media comes as no surprise. One of the main reasons people log on to social media is to interact with friends and content that they are interested in. Therefore when it comes to advertising on social media, companies need to make sure that they are visible on profiles that share common interests with their products. People don’t want annoyance and interruption while browsing through their news feed, target marketing guarantees that ads reach their most relevant audiences.

Facebook offers a range of campaigns for businesses to choose from. Like Ads and their ‘clicks to website’ features are just two of the many that are on offer. My friend recently launched an active wear line and she used both these features to generate more traffic on her website and her Facebook page. The interview below touches on some of her experiences using the site and highlights some of the benefits this type of advertising can have on small businesses.

There is no question that advertising on social media is one of the most efficient methods a business can adopt to ensure their most relevant demographic is reached.

When it comes to the privacy concerns that arise from this, what we most often fail to see is that we too benefit from this method of advertising, as the poll results above indicate, the ads we see on Facebook are now ones that we most often want to see, and that doesn’t seem too bad does it?

Word count: 542 (not including captions & Citations)

 

References

Curran, K, Graham, S, & Temple, C 2011, ‘Advertising on Facebook’, International Journal of E-Business Development, vol.1, no.1, p.29

Kim, S, Lee, J, & Yoon, D 2015, ‘Norms in Social Media: The Application of Theory of Reasoned Action and Personal Norms in Predicting Interactions With Facebook Page Like Ads’, Communication Research Reports, vol. 32, no. 4, p. 323. Available from: 10.1080/08824096.2015.1089851. [6 September 2016].

 

Music in podcast

Good Morning by LAKEY INSPIRED CC BY 3.0