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Archive for Publicity – Page 2

Rooting for the USWNT

The best team in the United States kicks off today. Yes, I’m talking about the U.S. women’s national soccer team, who will begin their 2015 World Cup title defense this afternoon against Thailand. Will you be watching? I know I will be.

I’ve spent some blog bandwidth praising the growth of soccer in the United States—from the emergence of MLS to the increase in interest in European leagues. It’s definitely a sport that’s on the rise here stateside, but the U.S. men’s national team’s failure to qualify for the 2016 World Cup put a solid damper on the game’s growth.

It was a frustrating time to be a U.S. soccer supporter, but thankfully, our winning team has qualified—and is a favorite to bring another World Cup back home.

The USWNT is the best in the world, securing three of seven World Cup titles since FIFA started the competition in 1991. Yet despite their sheer global dominance during that span, the women’s national team is still fighting for pay equity as compared to their male counterparts. Since the World Cup expanded to 32 teams, the men’s national team has only made it to the quarterfinals once. Contrast that with the top-flight level of play from the women’s national team—including its 2015 World Cup title—and it’s a head-scratching notion.

To the victors go the spoils, but it’s not so in the world of women’s soccer. It’s a fight that they’re still waging.

But while that battle will play out slowly in the courts, today’s battle will occur on a pitch in Reims, France. It’s the first step to the USWNT reaffirming their status as the States’ best international athletes. Best of luck, ladies—we’ll be watching, for sure.   

Commemorating 75 Years Since D-Day

75 years ago on Thursday, thousands of American troops, accompanied by European allies, stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, to defend the world against tyranny and fascism. Soldiers, young and old, took up arms in the name of their country and fearlessly fought against the Nazi regime.

It would prove to be the most pivotal invasion in the history of United States warfare, and the sacrifices made by those soldiers in that early battle on the beach paved the way for the eventual Victory in Europe.

World War II transformed the geopolitical landscape forever, the aftershocks of which are still affecting the world as we know it today. Without the bravery of those men who charged into machine gun fire in Normandy, we’d likely be living in a vastly different world. On the heels of Memorial Day, we salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom 75 years ago.  

Deepfakes on the Rise

“Fake News” is a buzz term that could encompass the 2016 election. Spawned during the onslaught of legitimately made-up stories designed to go viral on social media and impact public opinion, fake news continues to run rampant across social media platforms. It’s an area that outlets like Twitter and Facebook have verbally committed to tamping down, but as we begin the run up to the 2020 election, something just as insidious is already rearing its ugly head: deepfakes.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a deepfake is, there’s a chance you may have already fallen for one. Deepfakes are altered videos that utilize artificial intelligence to make them appear genuine—and many of them are incredibly successful in that regard. Last week an edited video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began circulating on social media sites, edited and spliced in such a way that it made her appear to slur her words.

While not a top-tier deepfake, it served its purpose as a tool of disinformation—and made many headlines, as well. When legitimate news outlets are put into a position of letting their viewers know that something is false, it means that the narrative has already seeped into the cultural groundwater.

The fear going forward, according to The Washington Post columnist Brian Klaas, is that this is only the beginning, and these fake-out videos will get much better in quality. Videos edited to show people saying things that they never did; videos designed to destroy someone’s reputation—it’s a frightening but very real possibility in our social media driven world.

If it was difficult enough to snuff out fake news stories in text, well, just think of how quickly falsehoods will spread when they’re on video. So as always—and especially now—be sure to vet and verify everything that you see on social media. Fake articles are pervasive enough, but fake videos are especially terrifying.    

Game of Gaffes: GoT Goes Out With Another Error

Sunday was the series finale for HBO’s Game of Thrones, one of the shows credited for ushering in our new “Golden Age” of television. It was the culmination of eight years of storytelling (and far longer if you’re including the source material), so naturally expectations were sky-high.

Who would ultimately rule the Seven Kingdoms? Which character am I irrationally invested in that will meet the pointy end of a sword? How are they going to inevitably screw this up?

With a production this massive, there’s bound to me some lapses, minor plot holes, and continuity errors. But nobody was prepared for Zephyrhills. That’s right: In one of the most pivotal scenes to wrap-up the entire series, a water bottle somehow snuck its way into the scene. A water bottle in Westeros. For shame.

The kicker here is that this is the second time in this six-episode season that 21st Century consumables have found their way on screen, as everyone was in an uproar when a Starbucks cup appeared in episode four. Both of these errors were plain and clear, and also come in the context of a season that took nearly two years to produce.

If the audience wasn’t ready for this all to wrap up, it’s clear that the showrunners were.

It was an ignominious ending to a series that’s redefined original programming, and occupied an innumerable amount of time in the minds of fans. After all of the guesswork and conspiratorial theorizing, in the end, Game of Thrones was just another show with thirsty actors and seemingly lazy editors.

Will this sully GoT’s legacy going forward? Probably not. But the execution of its final season and the glaring errors which were easily caught on TV but somehow missed by production staff with always mean there’s a caveat with season eight. “Yes it’s good, but…”

Spell check. Fact check. Beverage check. Double check. It’s important in business and everyday life, and it’s certainly important with a generational television production.

Are We Nearing the End of the Age of Likes?

Fresh off of my return from vacation, I’d be remiss if I didn’t immediately issue a massive ‘thank you’ to Russell for filling in in my stead. He did quite a bang-up job manning the blog for three weeks—I think he’s got a handle on this whole blogging thing. So thanks, Russell, for providing some top shelf content while I was away.

Now any time you leave for a trip, a common refrain from your peers is, “Take lots of pictures!” Back in the aughts, the result of this was heading to the local grocery store to develop film from your travels to physically share with friends and family. Seems weird now, right?

Of course things have shifted mightily since the genesis of social media, and for most, that’s now where our memories live—in digital photo albums across the internet. An important component to sharing photos on social media is the engagement factor—likes, reactions, comments. Well, one major photo-centric platform may be getting rid of that altogether.

If you’ve been following the news and the maelstrom of negative headlines following social media companies like ominous storm clouds, you’re aware of some changes that have been proposed to make the environment a more “friendly” place. Instagram is flirting with a massive adjustment to its app in that light, testing the removal of public “likes” and story views. These, of course, form the basis of the platform’s algorithm (High levels of engagement with specific photos will push them higher into your feed), and also provide the user with a shot of digital MSG when they see the likes start rolling in.

That’s why you’ll hear conversations about “How many likes I got on that photo.” Positive interaction naturally makes people feel good, and their accumulation of likes plastered on their photos turns into a social media bragging point.

But it also fosters an extremely competitive environment where the memory becomes less about the photo and more about how popular it is. For that reason, Instagram has begun testing hiding these likes from everyone but the user.

So does this signal the end to the Age of Likes? Not necessarily. The all-important algorithm will still boost highly-engaged posts to the top of feeds, so you’ll of course be able to glean the popularity of a certain image by where it resides. Should Instagram go all-in on hiding likes, it will also create a dividing line of sorts—those who simply value their own content for what it is, and those who key in on the number of those clicking on it.

Essentially, screenshots of user likes will become a “thing” on Instagram. I can think of nothing less engaging.

It’s good news that social media platforms are tinkering with methods to make them friendlier, less competitive places. But with the mental and monetary value many people derive from levels of likes, views, and comments, there’s simply no way they’ll be able to eliminate that aspect from the platforms they created.