The Pocket Playhouse Prepares for its 2009 Spring Season


The Pocket Playhouse is the University of Oregon student-run theatre. An independent theatre, the Pocket Playhouse gives students the chance to act, direct, design and produce original work.

Each 10-week term the Pocket Playhouse announces its latest season, usually consisting of four to five shows. The volume of fresh material provides students the opportunity to refine their skills or explore their capabilities in a low-stress environment.

The Pocket Playhouse’s spring season includes two scripts written by Eugene locals and a Japanese Performance Art Club devised piece.

In addition to the full season of shows, The Pocket Playhouse also produces the Plays on One Page Festival or more commonly referred to as P.O.O.P. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to submit their plays to the Pocket Office, located in Villard Hall. Plays must be submitted by Friday, June 5, 2009. The P.O.O.P Festival premiers Saturday, June 6, 2009. More information will be posted closer to the performance date.


Photo courtesy of Pocket Playhouse Facebook Page

I recently had the chance to sit down with Ryan Primm, who is the Pocket Playhouse Chairman. Here is what he had to say about last years P.O.O.P Festival:

My favorite part of being on the Pocket Board last year was working with the P.O.O.P. Festival. I saw tons of people enjoying food, nice weather and hysterical entertainment on the EMU Lawn.”

All shows have a $1 suggested donation and take place in the Pocket Theatre at the University of Oregon’s Villard Hall. Shows start promptly at 5pm and typically run Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Where to find more info:
Check out the Pocket Playhouse Theatre page on Facebook!
Check soon for a Pocket Playhouse Twitter account!


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The Pros and Cons of Ditching the Traditional Print Newspaper


With the recent closure of the Rocky Mountain News, it has made many question the fate of traditional print newspapers. An insightful post from PRWeek, titled “Print Closure Hastens Move to New Media,” warns that if other newspapers do not alter their business model quickly, they too might “follow the newspaper into extinction.”

This week I’ve decided to compile a pros/cons list on the switch from traditional print newspapers to online news sources.

The Pros:

Information 24/7: Unlike waiting until the morning to read the latest stories, the Internet has made information instantly available. It has made me wonder, do journalists ever sleep? Take a look at Google News for example, which gives readers the option to search and browse 25,000 news sources updated continuously.

Available in a wide variety of formats: News can be read on a blog or via a Twitter feed; you can listen to news stories on podcasts and online radio programs; and browse through countless search engines.

Accessible to a more diverse demographic: Some people are put off by the newspaper’s traditional format. The wide variety of news formats via the Internet makes information more accessible to people of all tastes and styles. Given they have Internet access…

The forests like it!: While the energy used in powering our computers makes its own environmental impact, at least the burden felt by our forests will be lessened by the disappearance of the conventional newspaper.

The Cons:

Lack of community-focused stories—One of my favorite features of my hometown’s newspaper, The Oregonian, is the community-focused stories; the stories about normal people in my neighborhood doing remarkable things. I can’t “Google” these kinds of stories.

Tired eyes: You know the feeling—hours behind a computer can make anyone’s eyes go crazy.

Eliminates jobs: In the midst of this terrible economy, the last thing anyone wants is to be laid-off from a job; however, when a newspaper shuts down, many people from journalists to photographers and distributors to PR professionals are left jobless.

Crossword: I’ll be honest— The NY Times Crossword is one of my favorite features of any print newspaper. I love sitting down with a cup of coffee and struggling over the daily crossword. It’s a way I pass the time when I’m traveling or waiting for class to start. Trust me, I’ve tried online crossword puzzles and nothing beats the satisfaction of inking your answers on paper.

Credibility? In the PR Newsweek article, “Print Closure Hastens Move to New Media,” it quotes Louis Richmond, CEO of Seattle-based Richmond Public Relations, when he says, “The newspapers have credibility; the blogs are getting credibility, but they haven’t reached it yet.”

What are the pros/cons that come to your mind when comparing a print newspaper to online news? How do you read your news? What are your thoughts on the current state of the traditional print newspaper?


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Sticky PowerPoint Presentations


Before taking public relations courses at the University of Oregon, I didn’t give too much thought to PowerPoint presentations. I blew them off as simple slideshows, with boring backgrounds and too much text. However, I recently started to see PowerPoint presentations that are catchy, clever and

informative. In the words of Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the NY Times Bestseller, Made to Stick, I was starting to see sticky PowerPoint presentations.

This week I will be presenting a PowerPoint presentation of my own to my advanced PR writing class, taught by Kelli Matthews. For my presentation, I am trying to combine the tools that I’m reading about in Made to Stick and the great tips that I came across from a Slide:ology blog post titled, “Lessons from TED: Five simple Tweaks.”

The Slide:ology post lists 5 simple ways to improve a PowerPoint presentation:


1. Use a custom background

2. Choose your fonts wisely

3. Use animations and transitions appropriately

4. One idea per slide

5. Take care of your images

If I had more time to create my PowerPoint presentation, I would seriously consider buying the book, Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations.

In the meantime, as I prepare for my presentation, here is a list of tips that I find particularly helpful when creating a PowerPoint.

  1. Write a killer outline: Because no one wants to read a page of text on a slide, it’s important that your ideas are organized clearly and concisely. This will also help when it’s time to give the presentation—you already have your talking points!
  2. Choose pictures that enhance the text: I think a good photo can make or break a slide.
  3. Select text color wisely. It’s important that your words can be easily read on a slide. I have found that my eyes struggle to read a slide with a dark background and light text.
  4. Be sticky! Read Made to Stick and use its ideas to enhance your PowerPoint.
  5. Have fun! The PowerPoint presentations that I find the most engaging are led by someone who loves to share their content. The topic may be a snore, but your PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be.

I hope this post helps you out the next time you create a PowerPoint Presentation. Do you have tips that are not found on the lists above? What’s an example of a fantastic PowerPoint presentation you have seen recently?

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Eugene on Stage: The Theatre Scene


Photograph: Jens N Rgaard Larsen/AFP/Getty Images

Photograph: Jens N Rgaard Larsen/AFP/Getty Images

If you’ve ever spent a winter in Oregon, you know that the rainy and gloomy weather can really take its toll. The dark mornings, wet socks, frizzy hair and perpetual rainfall are not exactly my idea of paradise. One of my favorite ways to combat the winter blues (or any kind of blues for that matter) is to go to the theatre.

I absolutely love this quote from Portland Center Stage:

Theater brings us together, to sit near one another, to hear stories, to lift our voices in song. Theater creates worlds like no others; its immediacy cannot be duplicated; its intensity cannot be matched. A playwright’s miraculous words, directed with insight and acted with passion, elicit laughter, sorrow, astonishment, enlightenment, inspiration. Suddenly, we are not alone.

This week, I’ve decided to list a few of the shows that are currently running (or about to open) in the Eugene area.

As You Like It
Written by: William Shakespeare
Directed by: Jack Watson
Feb. 27- March 14
Location: Hope Theatre at the University of Oregon

Altar Boyz
Directed by: Joe Zingo
Presented by the Actors Cabaret of Eugene
March 6- March 8
Location: Soreng Theater at the Hult Center

Rabbit Hole
Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire
February 27 – March 21
Location: The Lord Leebrick Theatre

A Little Night Music
Written by: Stephen Sondheim
Director: Michael P. Watkins
March 13- April 4
Location: The Very Little Theatre

*If you happen to game for the two-hour commute from Eugene to Portland, here are two must-see shows playing in downtown Portland:

Winner of the Tony Award for best Broadway musical
March 4- April 5
Location: Keller Auditorium

The Importance of Being Ernest
Written by: Oscar Wilde
Feb. 24 -March 29
Location: Portland Center Stage

I hope these links inspire you to see a show. Do you know of any other hot theatre tickets that are currently available in the Eugene or Portland community? I’d love to hear about them!

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Narrowing the Focus


Each week as I stare at my computer screen and think of a topic for my latest blog post, I have a moment of doubt. Will my post be good, funny, interesting, or relevant? A million ideas are running through my head at any given time, so it’s so hard for me to pick just one idea and blog about it.

Luckily, the other day, I was thrilled to come across PR and social media pro Chris Brogan’s blog post titled, “Build Blog Posts Like Building Blocks.” His advice was invaluable. I loved this quote:

“One such way to think of your blogging is by considering each post a building block to something larger, instead of just loose pages of thought.”

Suddenly, a light went on in my brain. My blog will be more focused, centered and (hopefully) useful to readers if each post builds from the previous one, or at least builds from a recent post.

To make sure this idea was foolproof, I racked my brain and listed the blogs that I visit most often. I noticed that my favorite blogs have a distinct and clear focus and many of the posts are connected. Here is a brief sampling of some of the blogs I read on a consistent basis. Notice that many of the posts are like building blocks, building upon the previous one.

Public Relations

PRos in Training: Written by my PR teacher Kelli Matthews. It offers tons of useful information on PR and social media that is useful for students, PR newbies and PR professionals.

if i knew all the words: From University of Oregon graduate, Staci Stringer. As a new PR professional, she gives great advice about the “real world” and her experience in PR.

PR Squared: Written by Todd Defren, a principal at SHIFT Communications and author of the must-read guide on social media, “Brink.”


The Theater Loop: Provides wonderful reviews and updates from Chicago’s lively theatre scene.

Portland Center Stage: A native Portlander, I’m always curious to see what’s showing at Portland Center Stage.


go fug yourself: Posts the latest celebrity fashion faux pas and red carpet catastrophes.

TMZ: Full of celebrity and entertainment news.

Looking at some of my favorite blogs prompted me to take a closer look at my personal blog and my potential audience. I realized I needed to make some changes. First I knew I had to ditch the old blog title and customize it to reflect the theme of my blog. I scrolled through my latest posts and saw that many of them were PR and entertainment related. A friend and fellow University of Oregon journalism student Regin Daniels helped me to come up with my new blog title, “A Play on Words.” My goal for this blog is to take Brogan’s advice to heart and write posts that can potentially build off of each other.

How do you focus your blog? Do you approach it from a specific angle? Do you write your posts with a specific audience/demographic in mind? As a blogging newbie, I welcome any thoughts, ideas or comments on this topic. Thanks for stopping by!

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The 81st Annual Academy Awards Lights up the Internet

81st_pittb_joliea_01The red carpet, the movie stars, the acceptance speeches, the glitz and the glam. Ah, I love the Academy Awards. I have watched the Oscars wide-eyed and slightly envious for as long as I can remember. Someday, if my ideal life pans out, I’ll watch the show sitting in the audience at the Kodak Theatre in L.A. But in the meantime, like millions of other viewers, I have gotten my Oscar fix from the live television broadcast on ABC. This year, however, it was different. I not only watched the event on TV, but I also tuned into the event via the Internet.

The 2009 Oscars were covered on blogs, Twitter feeds and countless other websites. Here is a list of some of my favorite sites from Sunday night:


Twitter: I typed “#oscars” and found countless updates. People were twittering like crazy on this site. There was commentary on winners/losers, dresses and the overall event.

Celebuzz: This site provided amazing red carpet pictures with great zooming capabilities.

The Official Oscars Message Board: From Ben Stiller’s impersonation of Joaquin Phoenix to Hugh Jackman’s opening musical number, this message board offered funny commentary throughout the show.

Perez Hilton: Never one to disappoint on the celebrity gossip front, Perez Hilton has some excellent photos and quips from Oscar night.

I think this year’s coverage on the Academy Awards really proved that the Internet and social media tools are playing a huge role in the way people share information, opinions, pictures and ideas. Using Twitter I could read what other people thought about the event; looking at celebuzz I could see Oscar pictures that I would have otherwise not seen until I purchased the latest People magazine or US Weekly; and reading posts on blogs and message boards gave me new insight and quite a few laughs. Already, I can’t wait for next year’s show. I predict that the Internet will play an even larger role, and I can’t wait to be involved in the discussion!


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Chris Brown: Quick Dance Moves, Slow Response Time

chris-and-rihanna“Chris is a walking dead man,” said Jay-Z. The statement is referring to the recent domestic violence case involving pop singer Rihanna and R&B singer Chris Brown. Reportedly, Brown and Rihanna got into an argument on Feb. 8 that turned physical, leaving Rihanna bruised and bleeding. According to ABC News, Brown turned himself into Los Angeles authorities Sunday night for allegedly assaulting a woman (who is believed to be Rihanna). I think from a PR standpoint, Rihanna will emerge from this situation on top. As for Brown, he better act quickly to save his public image before it’s too late…or is it?

Brown’s first mistake was waiting too long to issue a public statement. While he remained silent, others did the talking for him. There were statements made on Facebook and various blogs—some under the pen name of Chris Brown. Many celebrities made statements about the incident, most of which were in support of Rihanna. The Press Association posted this statement from Kanye West, “She has the potential to be the greatest artist of all time and, in that sense, I feel like that’s my baby sis and I would do any and everything to help her in any situation.”

Because Brown waited so long to issue a public statement, it prompted some people to become skeptical of the situation, and many dismissed Brown as guilty, including some of his sponsors. While both Rihanna and Brown have millions of dollars at stake in terms of endorsements, Brown is the only one suffering losses. Wrigley’s Doublemint chewing gum has dropped him from its ad campaign and his “Got Milk” ad is scheduled to end this week.

When Brown finally issued a public statement, it was extremely vague and disappointing. It didn’t mention a word about the alleged altercation. Come on, Chris! MTV News posted his statement on their site:

“Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God’s help, to emerging a better person.

“Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong,” the statement continues. “While I would like to be able to talk about this more, until the legal issues are resolved, this is all I can say except that I have not written any messages or made any posts to Facebook, on blogs or any place else. Those posts or writings under my name are frauds.”

Some may argue that Rihanna’s PR camp should issue a statement as well, but her fans, fellow famous pals and the media seem to be behind her all the way. She is seen as the victim in this situation, and people want to see Rihanna emerge stronger than ever. At the NBA All-Star slam-dunk contest last Sunday, Rihanna’s hit song “Umbrella” blasted over the arena’s sound system. Many in the sell-out crowed promptly cheered when the song came on.

This situation provides a valuable lesson in terms of PR and one’s public image: The only way to quite the rumor mill is to issue a public statement that is direct and honest as soon as possible. Time is valuable in situations where one’s public image is at stake, and it seems Chris Brown is learning this lesson the hard way.


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