HopStop to my Heart

5 Feb

Coming from a small town in Maryland, I was only slightly terrified of public transportation when I moved to New York City in August.  I was not sure how I was going to successfully navigate the streets, let alone the subway.

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 Until the day I heard the magic word, “HopStop.”

 Thank God!

 An iPhone application that could tell me everything about how to use the subway system to get from point A to point B, almost down to how many foot steps I should actually take. 

HopStop provides step-by-step directions to the user’s desired destination, beginning with current location.  Recently used destinations are remembered by the app, saving the user from repeatedly having to type out an address.  It then provides several route options, as well as an ETA for each one, which I appreciate because I can easily chose what makes the most sense for me at the time.  The user can select the preferred route, and then detailed directions are provided.  It leads to the subway stop, tells when to exit the subway, and how to get to the final destination from the subway exit.   The detail in the direction is what makes the app so helpful and successful because it assumes that the user really has no clue what they are doing (a safe assumption in my case).  HopStop also provides train schedules, stations, and a transit map.  Now that I have become more familiar with the city, it’s nice to be able to see the transit map for a bigger picture when planning my travel.  Trips can be reversed, saved, and viewed on a map.

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The downside to HopStop is that it can’t be used without service, so if the user is riding the subway and exits the application, directions can’t be accessed again until they’ve resurfaced.  But there are ways to get around this- like screen shots, or resisting the temptation to play Fruit Ninja long enough to keep  HopStop open for the duration of the ride. It is for this reason only that I give it a 9/10.

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 HopStop is an interesting application from a marketing standpoint as well because it grew entirely via word of mouth, without the push of other traditional marketing techniques.  Being that its target demographic is people in the 18-39 year old age group, the heavy social media use that is typical of this demographic was a big factor in spreading the word. Now, 37 percent of its users use the application 25 times a month or more, and 72 percent use it within 24 hours of their previous use.

HopStop is my favorite app because it provides hope for those who are directionally challenged.  It is my crutch so that I can wander around the city, aimlessly or otherwise, and never worry about how I am going to get home.  It is my own personal key to the city.   

 

http://windmillnetworking.com/2011/01/12/hopstop-social-media-case-studies/

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/05/hopstop_now_hel.php

 

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A Withered System

25 Jun

A major evolution has taken place in what we know as “stars” and “celebrities” and the star system of Hollywood.  In the older, classic Hollywood era, the stars were controlled by the studio.  It was their publicist, their agents, their managers, their doctors, lawyers, and so on.  They were under extensive contracts that just barely cleared the fine line of some enslavement laws.  But mostly, these stars were loved for their mysterious drama on screen and their highly characterized roles, not to mention their privacy.

The massive attention paid to stars and celebrities these days seems to have come about with correlation to the greater freedom they possess today.  They are not owned by the studio anymore, and are free to do and act how they please.  This ability has changed the role of the publicist into less of a promoter and more of a clean up mechanism at times, cleaning up the messes that celebrities make for themselves.  The celebrities are caught up in their fame, and so is the public that is so interested in them.  This is also related back to the term “celebrity,” and how it is now used in place of “star” for many of the famous because what qualifies someone in Hollywood as famous these days differs a lot from the old definition of quality and beauty and genuine actors.  Celebrities now are simply brands.  The one place the star system does still seem to exist, however, would be in Disney.  They are a factory for producing perfectly cut out child stars, and force them to commit to Disney in every way.  This is probably the last example of no-bodies being picked up by a studio, transformed, and released into the public under strict guidelines and terms of use.

Today, many celebrities also believe that it is within their power to enter the political world.  This has created a lot of controversy, because most people do not believe they have anything worth hearing.  It is one thing to have an opinion and support philanthropy, but it is a whole other thing to believe you are of enough knowledge and political standing to deal with the U.N.  This meshing of the political and celebrity worlds has been greatly frowned upon by people today, and even such influential media figures like Oprah have suffered in ratings for supporting things such as Obama and political campaigns.  I would have to agree with this.  Typically, politicians that are discussing major global and domestic issues have studied them and have a background in these topics.  Typically, celebrities whose fame has gone to their heads and think they are important because people write about them in magazines, don’t.  It is completely useless to hear the opinions of celebrities on political issues.  However, if they want to help the world through philanthropy or adoption, or they use their influence on the media to get the younger generations to vote, I fully support them.

Golden City

21 Jun

Only two weeks in LA and I feel like I am already a part of this golden city.  Aside from visits to the touristy places like pinks and the Hollywood Star Walk, I have to started to tweet regularly and have memorized all the Pinkberry locations.  My internship at Sunshine, Sachs & Associates is on the end of W Sunset Blvd., the true LA businessman’s locale.  I even saw Lindsay Lohan, we were having lunch at the same spot one day…so casual.  The idea that I work and play in the W Hollywood area still sometimes seems slightly like a dream, but it becomes more real as each day passes and I become more accustomed to LA life.

One thing that I appreciate about this trip is the planned activities offered.  Chances are I would never have made it to Amoeba Music or the Arc Light Cinemas, or especially to the outdoor play “The Three Truths” in downtown LA.  And where else could you go to a Target and have an amazing view of the mountains seemingly so close as you walk to your car?

Through my internship and the summer class, I feel like I really am immersed in PR, which is exactly what I came here to learn.  At Sunshine, Sachs I am currently assisting them get ready for a big event on Tuesday.  One of their clients, Microsoft, is having a panel and party to promote their search engine Bing.  I’m so excited because I’m getting a chance to really see first hand how its done and be actually be a part of it. I also get to go to the actual event where Drake is performing?! AMAZING.  I’m definitely enjoying it so far.  In class we are also working on the beginnings of PR packages to promote the actors and production students and their films.

However interesting working might be though, nothing beats the beach.  We took pictures by the huge rocks in Point Dume in Malibu, and walked the boardwalk in Santa Monica. We had lunch outside at the Mexican restaurant at the end of the pier (coincidentally the same one my dad has been to).  We were also sung to on the beach by someone who thought he sounded exactly like Johnny Cash.  To me, that seemed weird.  But by now I’ve realized that’s not even the weirdest thing that happens around here.  LA definitely takes some getting used to-the people are very different and there is so much to do, it can definitely be overwhelming but I’m definitely trying to take advantage of as much as I can and do as many things as possible while I’m here. And if I get tan while doing so, well then I’m alright with that.