Mandy Boyle

NEPA-er with Moxie. Writer. Sometimes Actor. Nerdy Girl.

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Happiness and Advertising

The Empty Billboard. Where's the Happiness In That? “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” – Donald Draper, Mad Men

Happiness. It’s elusive to many of us yet we all strive to achieve it. So what the hell does it have to do with advertising?

Well, I have no idea what it means to you, but if you ask me, advertising makes me happy. I love looking at ads and critiquing them. Sure, I don’t have the vocabulary or experience of a seasoned veteran of the industry, but I can hold my views on what’s a good ad and what sucks, and let’s face it: most of the ads out just suck.When I see an ad that breathes and lives and makes me feel, it’s not just an ad anymore – it’s art.

When I see an ad, I wouldn’t say that it reassures me that I’m “OK”. Just thinking about being described as “OK” makes me feel uncomfortable. I want to feel a little skip in my heart when I see a good ad. I don’t want to feel like I have a head cold.

What makes you happy in advertising?

For me, it’s when ads are clever, smart, and clean. Like they used to be when guys like Draper ran the world.


This morning while lounging with my box of tissues (I have some sort of cold) and a sleepy cat, I took 35 minutes out of my day to watch a film that could possibly change the entire course of the rest of my life.

“Lemonade” is all about how one single act can change the course of your future. In its case, the stories it presents are those of talented professionals who were laid off from the advertising industry. Their stories changed course the day they were given pink slips. They were challenged to do something different – to be happy.

Anyone who is aspiring to enter the industry, or who is already there, should take 35 minutes today to watch how others found that you can indeed do what you love in life. And for other students out there: don’t be discouraged. Just watch and you’ll see what I mean.

Watch “Lemonade”


"Ladybugs" © 2010 Mandy Boyle

"Ladybugs" © 2010 Mandy Boyle

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

Creative people aren’t always taken seriously. Often, in my experience, people tend to gravitate towards the safe and familiar, even though the colorful may seem much more appealing and (gasp) exciting!

Today, I encountered an example of close-minded thinking, but instead of feeling annoyed by the lack of enthusiasm over change and the death grip on tradition, I decided to learn from it.

It’s not easy to be creative, nor is it easy to let your imagination free. We get afraid to take risks. We fear losing something when we express ourselves. We approach new things timidly or at an all out sprint – and neither approach is the right way to go about it. In fact, there is no right or wrong way to open your mind. It just happens.

Take the time today to open your mind to something. Instead of spending so much time listening to your own voice, let others be heard. Pay attention to someone. Learn that person’s name. Let your fantasies run wild for once. Hell, go out for a walk before this big blizzard is supposed to come and just be. Yes, just be.  Live, if even for a moment, without restrictions. It’s the creative thing to do.

10 Blog Posts You NEED to Read Today

I love to share. Sharing is one of my favorite things about the internet, especially in the world of social media. So, to kick off my birthday (yes, I’m 22 today), I’d love to give you 10 things that I think will make your day better. These gifts are blog posts by some of the most talented, forward-thinking people out there.

  1. “Minding the Gap” on by Tara Hunt
  2. “How to Suck at Facebook” on
  3. “Does Your Writing Suffer from Purple Prose” by Sherice Jacob on
  4. “How to Use a Semicolon” on (I’m afraid of this punctuation mark.)
  5. Any of the posts on The Middle Finger Project by Ashley Ambirge. (another post coming on this soon!)
  6. “50 Content Ideas that Create Buzz” by Valeria Maltoni on
  7. “Bloggers are Not Writers” by Rebecca Thorman on
  8. “The State of Social Media Around the World 2010″ by Brian Solis on
  9. “Crisis: Dealing with Negative Comments Online” by Gini Dietrich on
  10. “Festival of Ice” by Brent Pennington on

Enjoy the day!

What is a Reporter?

Reporter / CC BY 2.0

In high school, being a reporter meant you signed up for Ms. Cave’s course. You wrote for the school newspaper and you often spent your time working on layout. You carried around pens and a little notebook for taking down quotes. Sometimes you carried a camera. Being a reporter was about spreading the news, sharing what was going on, and all the while, building a solid portfolio as a writer/photographer/videographer. My definition of being a reporter has changed much since high school.

I got my first taste of real reporting when I did my high school graduation project. I spent most of a school year working as a correspondent for The Back Mountain Community News, a local paper that my aunt published. The work ranged from covering little league baseball games to Kiwanis meetings, but during that time, I learned a lot about what it really meant to be a reporter. Reporters have to take something seemingly uninteresting and make it seem worthwhile. Reporters have to meet deadlines and give a true yet unbiased feel for what has happened. Reporters have to write well.

iPhone / CC BY 2.0

That time working as a correspondent helped greatly with my writing skills, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I really started to push my ability. With the help of one of my professors, I got to start freelancing – for real. For money. For bylines in a publication that wasn’t even in the same state, let alone my home town.

So what exactly is a reporter? Is it someone who writes for his or her aunt’s newspaper? Someone who gets paid to write articles? Someone who carries around a little pad and asks, “Can you tell me more about that?” Reporting is a lot of things, and right now, the definition is up for interpretation.

Let’s go to Wikipedia for one interpretation: “A reporter is a type of journalist who researches and presents information in certain types of mass media. Reporters gather their information in a variety of ways, including tips, press releases, sources (those with newsworthy information) and witnessing events. They perform research through interviews, public records, and other sources.”

Okay. So a reporter is someone who gathers information and then presents it to others. Sounds simple enough – but what about a person who sees something happen and then tweets about it, causing the message to go viral? The components are there: information and mass media.

Journalist / CC BY 2.0

Now, in Wikipedia, “journalist” is tacked on as part of the definition. Let’s examine further.

A journalist collects and disseminates information about current events, people, trends, and issues. His or her work is acknowledged as journalism.”

Okay, so there collecting of information and there’s distribution. Again, where is the production (ie writing, photography, videography)? The quality? The ethics? The definition of journalism and reporting have both become so vague that almost anyone can assume the title and/or role.

With the presence of social media, reporting has taken on an entirely new form where “civilians” (non-professionals) can report news instantly, and in many cases, faster than any news organization can.

Need breaking news? Look no further than your cell phone. In a matter of seconds, pictures, video and text can be posted on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or another website using this device.

Reporters / CC BY 2.0

Our lives demand instant gratification. We want our information and we want it fast. Cell phones and social media make it easy to deliver – but what about the accuracy? The authority and reliability? The quality? The commitment to ethics? For many people, the rules have now changed and anyone can be a reporter. After all, if it’s just about gathering information and sharing it with the masses, who couldn’t be one? You can bet that at least a few social media users have now tacked the title of “reporter” onto their profiles or at least their egos.

A perfect example of civilian reporting would be in the case of the Iranian elections. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook were flooded with “first-hand” accounts from protesters, photos of riots, and even a grisly video of a woman’s last moments of life. Professional reporters couldn’t get as close to the action, nor could they transfer information to their respective news organizations fast enough. The task of spreading the news fell to those who were actually there, and thanks to cell phone cameras and text messaging, the whole world learned of the political unrest.

But amid all of that breaking news was a vast amount of fluff that was inaccurate. There were reports which were highly exaggerated, or just plain false. Information couldn’t be trusted. Sources couldn’t be trusted. Nothing was certain – yet the world considered all of it to be news.

When did we decide that we all had a part in reporting the news? We don’t consider ourselves to be journalists, yet we participate in the same behaviors which define their positions. I feel a lot of it has to do with the online culture that has developed over the past decade. We feel that we all own the internet and as a result, we can contribute to its information architecture one brick at a time, either for our own benefit or for the benefit of others. Granted, I could go on about this view for quite awhile, but let’s get back to the original point of this post: what is a reporter?

By definition, all one needs to be a reporter is information and a way to spread it. In that case, anyone with a cell phone and a story to tell can be a reporter. In my view, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just the spread of information. The commitment to accuracy, quality, and ethics have to be there in order for me to even remotely consider information accurate. If I see it on Twitter, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt since there are almost always daily rumors of celebrity deaths, usually fueled by spammers hoping to make it to the Trending Topics list to get some clicks. The truth is that the definition really isn’t as cut and dry as it used to be. You don’t have to work for a news organization anymore. You don’t need that pen and memo pad. You don’t need a press pass. Just send your message, via Twitter or otherwise, and wait for the world to listen.

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