10 Things I Learned from My 10 Day Trip to Florida (#FloridaFellows2016)

HELLO FEISTY FROSTIES!

(I'm sure you're cold from all this snow hitting the East Coast right now)

Today I'm going to be talking about 10 different things that I learned from my Winter Term Trip to Florida. I went to Tampa and Orlando as part of the Communications Fellows program at Elon University. We traveled to the “sunshine state for shady people” to look at media organizations and the unique culture of Florida. We all went with open minds because we are all still trying to figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives. Here are 10 things that I learned:

1) Collaboration is key.

I learned working together is so important in production companies like Diamond View studios because of all the moving parts and jobs that need to be done.

I learned working together is so important in production companies like Diamond View studios because of all the moving parts and jobs that need to be done.

Each one of the companies that we visited had completely different jobs. The creative team was making artistic pieces of work, while the account department was working with clients and deciding on budgets. With these contrasting jobs, the departments still had to work together to make sure everything was falling into place. Some days, people from one department end up helping another department and doing totally different jobs than their job entails. This is because everyone in the company has the same goal, and they have to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. I thought this was very interesting, and didn’t expect it. The collaboration definitely did show how close the employees needed to be in order to get the job done.


2) Not all companies in the same field are alike.

Spark's art style and office set up really impressed me!

Spark's art style and office set up really impressed me!

We were fortunately able to visit multiple companies in each realm of communications. We visited 3 advertising agencies, 2 production companies, and 1 newsroom. Being able to see the different varieties of work environments, office set ups, and company philosophies really shows how the industry can vary depending on where you go. PP+K and Spark had a very open floor plan, while Pyper Young had a much more closed in approach to their floor plan. I really do think this affects the way that the company works. Each ad agency worked with different clients, had different styles, and different amounts of employees. It really did feel like I was going into three totally different types of companies.


3) I shouldn't be afraid of certain parts of communications.

This terrified me at first, but this picture from WTSP Channel 10 (CBS affiliate of Tampa) is a little more understandable now.

This terrified me at first, but this picture from WTSP Channel 10 (CBS affiliate of Tampa) is a little more understandable now.

To be quite honest, before this trip, broadcast journalism terrified me. The concept of having to go live every day and having to know exactly what to say frightened me. However, after seeing how smooth the broadcast went and how every one knew what they were doing definitely eased my anxiety. I learned from that experience that if you know what you are doing and you are passionate about it, the stress will become second nature. I am certainly not afraid of broadcast journalism anymore.

The other important idea that came from this point was the fact that each business that we visited explained how employees of the company would actually end up doing work in different departments because that is how collaborative they are. That is why I cannot be afraid. I need to go ahead and start learning the talents and tools that are needed for every department.


4) Culture is important in the world of communications.

The flamenco show at Colombia restaurant was a great example of some of the ways you can see magnificent culture while in Florida.

The flamenco show at Colombia restaurant was a great example of some of the ways you can see magnificent culture while in Florida.

While traveling around Florida, we learned and saw that the culture is very unique. It is a mixing bowl! It includes influence from Spain, France, Cuba, and more. It has an extremely high rate of senior citizens, AND tourism is a key feature in the Floridian economy. With all of this in mind, I definitely got to see some of this when I visited Ybor City with the coffee shops and Colombia restaurant. Also, when we went to Clearwater beach, we saw first hand the tourism of the state.

Each company that we visited was using observations from this culture in order to make executive decisions about the demographics of their audiences. Communications is all about knowing your audience, so understanding their age, language, and background is very important. The culture of every place in the world is different, so companies must know how to cater to their specific audience.


5) I would prefer to work at a smaller company.

After seeing a small company like PP+K, I know that is where I want to be.

After seeing a small company like PP+K, I know that is where I want to be.

We saw Spark that had 36 employees. We saw PP+K that had 50 employees. Finally, we say Disney Corporations that had thousands of employees. The difference between these companies was very important for me to see because I wanted to know what size I would want to work at.

The ladies that we spoke to at the Disney corporate office explained how big Disney was and how it made their job and tasks even more stressful. They said there are a lot of people that look to them to clean up big messes when it comes to public relations. Personally, this really stressed me out.

I think I would rather start at a smaller company where the stress may be just as high, but there isn't as much money and people on the line (if that makes sense). Plus, I would like to get close to people that I work with.


6) With data and knowledge, you can create.

Nielsen was such a fascinating, enriching experience! Seeing what can be done with information is amazing!

Nielsen was such a fascinating, enriching experience! Seeing what can be done with information is amazing!

This fact really came from my experience visiting Nielsen. Seeing how much data and information that is available really surprised me, but also made me realize something: Data is so important. Seeing what people are watching, how they are watching, what they are buying, and more is such valuable information. This can be used for advertisers, product creators, and more. I've always been slightly interested in media analytics, but finally seeing how powerful it really is definitely makes me want to take some classes in it.


7) There are special things you can do to improve your writing.

This was me right after that class - I'm telling you, it was GREAT!

This was me right after that class - I'm telling you, it was GREAT!

I learned some things about writing on this trip that I will never forget. That information is coming from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, where the Communications Fellows took a class with Dr. Roy Clark. Dr. Clark is an award-winning author of books regarding writing and journalism. Some of the tips he taught us about white space and word order will help me forever. Also, he explained how music and writing are very similar, and that allowed us to really understand some of the methods he explained. Definitely one of the most valuable classes I've ever taken.


8) Work with passion.

The screen from Spark's office - with their amazing slogan.

The screen from Spark's office - with their amazing slogan.

This concept comes particlarly from Spark. Their company philosophy had alot ot do with passion adn how they do their work and employment . They want passionate employees who actually care about the work that they create. I personally, also value what I create and I try to work with passion every day. If you aren’t doing something you’re passionate about, you can’t be truly happy. (in my person opinion).


9) Working in social media is definitely what I want to do.

A screenshot of a tweet that the company actually sent to me and Felicia! I want to do this as my job! :)

A screenshot of a tweet that the company actually sent to me and Felicia! I want to do this as my job! :)

Seeing the media organizations all over Florida and the social media departments were one of the highlights of the trip. Finally seeing people getting paid to do the things that I love made me fully realize exactly what I want to do. The social media teams of Spark and PP+K were literally paid to post, schedule posts, and make creative content. That is my dream JOB! I don’t know if I would have realized this if I didn’t have this trip.

10) I love documenting my travels and adventures.

If you don't have a photoshoot on the beach, did you even go? (haha, a joke)

If you don't have a photoshoot on the beach, did you even go? (haha, a joke)

Over this trip I took (what feels like) a million photos and videos, and I am actually really glad that I did. Looking back at the photos and videos made me realize that this is the time in my life that I am going to be able to travel and have some amazing opportunities. I want to document these as best as I can, and post them here for my friends and family to see. (I will be posting a Disney vlog very soon!)


I wanted to thank everyone at Elon University that allowed this to happen. (Dean Parsons, Dr. Clark, Professor Vincent, Professor Pinney, President Lambert, and more!) This was a trip I’m never going to forget. It was my first trip to Florida, first time on a plane, first time at Disney, and the first time I’m positive what I want to do with my life :)

Thanks for reading!

Love,

Fletcher Rowe aka feistyfletch

 

You can check out the #FloridaFellows2016 tag here to see more blog posts about this trip!