Data Viz

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October 25, 2015 by Kathryn Kuttis

IMG_0223Welcome to week five of fall term. The rain has arrived in Oregon. Now that we are all inside, there is plenty of time to complete reading assignments (hint: Made to Stick) and rewrite your resume.

This week, we started to think visually and launched a marathon infographic assignment. Over the next few weeks, students will use design principles to share compelling data and visually explain a complex issue. They will also create an outreach plan designed to get their infographic in front of a target audience.

PR professionals know the relevance of visual information. Potential employers will be glad to see our students working to create infographics that resonate with key audiences. With big data growing bigger by the second, companies and organizations need communication professionals who can a visualize and display complex information.

As information design guru and data journalist David McCandless points out, “We have a lot of data we’re swamped in it.”  In this video interview with Visual News he tells us why visual design is the key to turning big data into information we can use and understand. You can also watch his TED talk: The beauty of data visualization.  It is probably the most watched video on data visualization.

Before students become obsessed with data visualization and their own infographics (and they will become obsessed) here are the news kernels for this week’s blog posts:

Who Decides Which Emojis Get The Thumbs Up? (NPR) We all use them but where do they come from and who gets to decide what they look like?

In Man’s Game, Mark Herzlich Is Standing Up for Women (NYTs) Could this article be a reaction to the domestic abuse headlines that surfaced last year? How will sports organizations use PR to turn the corner?

Unpacking Amazon’s ‘proxy war’ with The New York Times (CNN) Why is a media company like the NYTs at war with a technology giant like Amazon? After a scathing article appeared in the NYTs about Amazon’s employee culture, why did CEO and Washington Post- owner Jeff Bezos turn to Jay Carney and Medium to respond?

Mark Zuckerberg is hosting the next Facebook Townhall in India (TNW) What is Facebook doing in India? How will a town hall meeting help them bring high speed internet to people around the world without it? Watch the coverage this week to understand their global expansion and PR strategy.

A day in the life of a social media manager (PRDaily)What works about this infographic? What can you tell your readers about social media management?

7 Tips for Instagramming Food From an Award-Winning NYT Food Photographer (Observer) Can anyone take professional looking photos of food? Why are people still obsessed with  the food-selfie?

‘Steve Jobs’ Bombs: What Went Wrong With the Apple Drama (Variety) Are box office numbers the best way to determine a film’s success? How does promotion play a part in a film’s release?

Five myths about candy (WashingtonPost) Did candy companies invent Halloween? What can we learn about candy before Halloween hits this weekend?

A decade of academic progress halts, NAEP standardized test scores show (LATimes) Test scores slipped for the first time since 1990. How will the Secretary of Education respond? What are parents saying? Is math testing really a good measure of student readiness to join a global economy?

Average Student Debt Rises For Class Of 2014 (HuffPost) How are the presidential candidates looking at student debt? What changes have occurred over recent years? What can we expect in the future? What do students need to know about it?

Afghanistan Earthquake Update: Terrain, Weather And Conflict Are Problematic For Relief Efforts (IBTimes) Are earthquake victims getting the relief aid they need from the Taliban? How can humanitarian efforts proceed with caution under these conditions? What are the groups saying about each other and their efforts to provide assistance?

Celebrity airport style: What the famous wear when they travel (UPI) I’m a leggings and oversized sweater traveler myself. What does your look say about you? Can you give a list of the top five ways students dress for class at the UO?


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If you share an interest in public relations, media and visual design, this might be a good place for you to hang out. I started this blog to exchange ideas with my students at the University of Oregon. They keep me (and maybe you too) at the forefront of social media, visual communication and career development. Here you'll find our best ideas, links and learning as we write, create and blog our way through a course on Strategic PR Communication.

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