Living on court is a noisy, wonderful experience

Court Street is not just the main hot spot on Friday nights. It’s a place for people to grab a bite, shop for school supplies or for new clothes or even see a movie. On Halloween those bricks are home to the second largest block party in the nation. So with all of these leisure activities available it can be hard to remember that people live above the coveted bricks.

We all know it would be great to live above our favorite bar or restaurant, but there might be more to choosing that apartment than just proximity to night life. Students who actually live above these popular shops give a deeper looking into their reasoning to living on Court Street.

 

The perfect media tactics to boost business and encourage OU students to shop local

Disclaimer: I am not a professional. All comments come from my personal experiences and observations, and this blog is purely for academic purposes.

Need fresh ideas for reaching a broader audience? Are you interested in the digital strategies and media tactics that could help drive business and encourage Ohio University students to take a stop in your store? Here’s a look at the social media techniques used by several clothing boutiques in Athens. The best part is these strategies can also be applied to a variety of businesses including restaurants,dining, bookstores and specialization stores such as gift shops, craft stores and costume shops.

When thinking of the stores on and surrounding Court Street, there’s a variety of customers and owners. Many would believe each store takes a completely different approach to reach their target audience. Surprisingly, this is far fetched.

After extensive research and vast increments of my time being used to creep through the shops social media, I was surprised to find most of the strategies used by the local owners were extremely similar. The strategies that many stores use often seem to be working well, and unfortunately the mistakes and painful errors were frequently used across the board. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly digital promotion approaches used by many local Athens shops.

Artifacts Gallery

Artifacts Gallery is a local clothing shop located at 2 W. State Street., Athens, OH. This store uses Instagram and Facebook as their strongest social media pages. Some techniques used on the Instagram page included using a white background when taking photos of the apparel. Using a white background, or sticking with a common theme, is useful because people enjoy images that are pleasant to the eye.

Facebook is also used by keeping active with posts that do not only relate to their store and products. Using a personalized approach and occasional videos help keep interest in followers, causing them to be more engaged when looking at a media post.

Unfortunately, Artifacts Gallery could use some work on their Twitter page. Twitter is accessible and sharable, but that is not how it is used. Instead, the tweets only link to Instagram posts, and their customer interaction to assist with product feedback or other related questions. Also, the Instagram could afford to involve a few models when marketing their t-shirts and other apparel. Having a real person involved in media posts allows customers, and especially college students, to be more engaged.

The only issue that struck me hard when viewing Artifacts Gallery’s social media pages was the excessive hashtagging. Yes, I understand many people were told to use hashtags to draw in more likes and assist in SEO, but sometimes less is more. My best advice is to use hashtags appropriately and understand that quality really can mean more than quantity.

Bluetique

This trendy local shop focuses on targeting the typical college girl who wishes she was in walking distance to a mall. Bluetique is located 19 W. State Street., Athens, OH. Bluetique does an excellent job promoting their store through a strong social media presence. Their social media is a triple-threat, and maybe more. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all used constantly and appropriately to reach a variety of customers in the Athens area. Bluetique is also one of the few local shops that has started using Pinterest, which is very smart since many Ohio University women have joined on the Pinterest bandwagon when collaborating ideas.

There’s no doubt that Bluetique thought about the social media tactics they wanted to use. Overall, their pages are professional and engaging. Gabby Summers, a Bluetique employee, said students and workers are often used to pose in their clothes and accessories because it helps make the posts more personal and attracts a larger audience. All Instagram posts are similar because they use a theme and specific lighting location in the store. The owner has also invested in a wallpaper like background that looks like a wooden floor to assist in making the products stand out and keep a professional theme.

New floral two piece! We love our new arrivals! #bluetiqueathens #shopbluetique #newarrivals

A post shared by Bluetique Athens (@bluetiqueathens) on

Instagram and Twitter are also used to promote sales and positions for hire. The Bluetique Facebook page is a strong presence because they share events and other posts on their page to engage with customers. More frequent tweets would help them reach a wider audience. Videos and a cover photo with girls from Ohio University in their clothing gives the site a more personal approach, which is excellent when trying to find new customers and grow as a shop in a college town.

Although they use similar content among all platforms, especially  by reusing Instagram photos, the Bluetique social media techniques are definitely appropriate for most local business. Their techniques drive business and gain OU students as loyal customers.

Figleaf Boutique

Figleaf Boutique is a company that can be found in several college orientated towns, such as Kent, Columbus and Athens. The Athens location can be found at 57 N. Court Street., Athens, OH. Due to the larger presence this boutique has in other cities, their social media techniques are also updated and frequently used to reach OU students.

Figleaf is smart by using Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in creative ways. All their sites maintain a professional setting, and the links on Instagram photos, Pinterest pins, tweets and Facebook posts are directly to their official website. This is extremely important because it increases availability and sales. Many college students, and specifically OU students, don’t like feeling rushed if they can’t make it to the local shops during their daily hours. Having a website that is promoted daily through social media is an excellent technique which could potentially benefit all local shops.

It’s also apparent that Figleaf knows and understands their target audience which is the trendy college girl. They understand how to reach girls needing dresses and accessories for date parties and other social events through all medias. The also reach the parents of many OU girls whose parents are on the lookout for trends and sales on Facebook. Their Facebook content is slightly altered to engage a different group, which is smart since their Facebook audience has relations with their target audience.

The best advice for Figleaf Boutique is to be more interactive on Twitter with customers and keep the variety between their different media sites because it does make a huge difference.

Honey

This lingerie store is located at 13 W. Union Street, Athens, OH. Truthfully visiting the store is the best way to have any idea about their apparel and products. Honey lacks much of any social media presence. They have very few followers across the board, and they have few posts.

Honey’s Instagram has not posted since December, which is poor for almost any company in 2017. This is extremely disappointing since they are targeting OU students, who more often than not use Instagram daily. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, 90 percent of American adults aged 18 to 29 use social media. As a local shop targeting this specific group, it’s best they amp up their social media presence and begin to focus on the successful tactics available to boost business.

However, the one good thing Honey does with their social media is their use of Facebook. There are several more posts and more interaction on their Facebook page, and they even post links and articles to other sources. Outside sourcing to relatable content is a fantastic marketing tactic that many small, local businesses are afraid to test. Although this is very different than other trends among local shops in Athens, this out of ordinary social media technique would be worth a shot for other stores. Many stores and websites appreciate interaction from one another, and promoting a different store potentially brings new customers if the favor is returned.

The Other Place

The Other Place is another trendy store focusing on women’s clothing, accessories and gift items. This boutique can be found at 43 S. Court Street, Athens, OH. This college town shop engages with OU students on a variety of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The owner has recently teamed up with the Scripps’ Impressions team, which has developed a few new techniques to boost business and student interaction among social media.

The Other Place is beginning to use real OU students to model their apparel in hopes to promote a real life experience and receive more engagement from friends and family members of the girls featured in the photos and posts. Another exciting social media tactic is the startup of a WordPress site to allow blogs about trends and styles that can be created from the apparel and accessories in the store.

Show off those shoulders with one of our super cute rompers! #rompers #shoulders

A post shared by The Other Place Athens (@theotherplaceathens) on

Other social media ideas that are common and effective include using Twitter constantly and posting promotional sales and hirings on their sites. When linking, it could be more effective to link to a store site, but instead they link back to their Facebook. This technique could be useful in reaching a different group of OU students, but there’s limited interaction on the Facebook page. Limited feedback and limited posting on both Facebook and Twitter may be the cause for the lack of followers, or vice versa.

10 West Clothing Co.

The new local shop, 10 West Clothing Co. is located at 10 W. Union Street., Athens, OH, and the store is known for selling new and nearly new name brand clothes. Their store specializes in making trendy clothes affordable for the college students in Athens.

As any new store in the area would do, they post quite often in order to gain followers, likes and attention in general. They use Instagram as their best social media platform by posting photos of their clothes, information about sales and funny memes in order to give it a personal feel. Unfortunately, their photography skills could still use some assistance to stand out and be more appealing to customers.

Another bad habit constantly used on their social media pages includes linking directly to Instagram only. Their interaction with customers and the shop’s creativity spreading content is lacking. A few alterations and more variety on all platforms would make a huge difference and advance 10 W. Clothing Co.’s business and appeal to OU students.

In conclusion, local businesses shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, such as promotional events or blogs. Using OU students for modeling clothes, or holding events, engages other students, friends and family increasing publicity and social media awareness. Ohio University faculty could also be a wise partner for events and social media promotion because they carry respect and people have a tendency to shop at local places if they have heard good reviews from people they personally know.

Spreading content creatively and using all media platforms allows local business to reach their max audience and customers. Sometimes, different platforms require, or strive, from a different form of media. Balancing videos, photos and text increasing attention for OU students interested in the local stores because millennials expect businesses to be up-to-date and use social media in a multitude of ways. Also, owners should not be afraid to dip their feet in and try using more than Facebook. Learning how to tweet and pin information is very important to a successful media platform because Twitter and Pinterest are the most shareable content sites.

Finally, keeping a professional look to all platforms makes a huge difference. Photography skills matter. Good lighting, backgrounds, using models instead of mannequins and keeping a constant theme makes a huge difference. Frequent posts are most effective when they are put together and consistent. Keeping digital media in correlation with college students’ expectations allows businesses to increase sales and encourages OU students to shop at the local stores around Athens.

How Athens Police Department keeps its Bobcats under control during fest season

Springtime in Athens has rolled around again. With it comes beautiful weather, graduation, and of course fest season.

Fest weekends tend to be much more disorderly than the average weekend in Athens. As a result, the city always sees a necessary increase in police presence. With such an increase in population and risky behavior, what steps do the authorities take to keep these young adults safe?

The number of officers patrolling increases dramatically during the spring fests. Officers play a variety of distinct roles during this time of year. There are authorities patrolling on foot, horses, and some in plain clothes as undercovers.

Athens Police Department’s Mounted Patrol are the most iconic role that police employ during fest season. They never fail to get attention from students.

Mounted police begin their journey at the Athens Fairgrounds and ride their way into town toward the fest attendees. They typically travel in packs of 3 to 12 officers.

“We use the horses because it gives our police force more of a presence. We think that the presence of the horses and the view we get from being up high helps us to defuse and control situations before they can get out of hand,” said Ohio University Police Officer Bryan Newvahner. Mounted patrol officers seem to get the attention and respect of fest-goers much more effectively than officers in patrol cars, riding bikes, or on foot.

The Athens Police Department does allow for students to pet the horses, they just request that the students ask for permission before touching the animals.

A group of officers that I spoke with were all in agreement that an officer on horseback is much more effective at stopping and preventing reckless behavior in addition to maintaining order opposed to officers on foot. Mounted officers in Athens have been used since 1996 and do not seem to be going away anytime soon. They have become a staple in the spring fest image and culture.

Police reinforcements come from around the state from locations including; Columbus, Medina, Dublin, and Summit to name a few. They come from all over Ohio to support the Athens Police Department during its busy fest season. The Athens Police Department shares a mutual aid agreement where each department assists the other during busy weekends. “We need reinforcements to accommodate for the huge jump in population and risky behavior,” said Newvahner.

“We typically make around 25 to 30 arrests on any given busy fest,” said Newvahner. “We want to let students have fun but prevent them from hurting themselves or anyone else around them.” The majority of the arrests that law enforcement make are for public urination, underage drinking, or public intoxication.

Some of the fest attendees were under the impression that the police specifically targeted their party while allowing others to continue. This left me wondering, why do officers shut down certain parties and not others?

The Athens Police Department clearly wants to prevent and stop the reckless and risky behavior that comes with fest season, but why do they choose to shut down one party and allow the others to continue? To an outsider, each party just appears to have loud music and many drunk college students.

The main criteria that officers take into consideration when shutting down house parties during fests is behavior. “More often than not when we shut down a certain address it is because they have had several repeated offenses over a period of time at the same location,” said Newvahner. The repeated offenses usually happen later in the day, after students have already been drinking for an extended period of time.

Police did not always shut down street fests as early as they do now. When Ohio University was on the quarter system only a few years ago, fests would go much later into the evening.

Police began shutting down parties much earlier on the semester system because the conflict between fest-goers and law enforcement was so high. Athens Police Department found that when they prevented the fests from going so late, the encounters they had with students decreased dramatically.

As is to be expected, some students are less than enthusiastic about their parties getting shut down by the police. One tenant of a Mill Street rental property, Stephanie Anthony said, “there were parties a lot louder and crazier than ours. I don’t know why they shut us down, it’s our property.”

Each student that I spoke with seemed to have a different opinion on the police presence during the fests. Some were appreciative of the presence that they had and thought that it made them feel safer in a hectic environment.

I spoke to Mark Taylor, a sophomore studying management information systems to get his take. “I feel safer knowing that there are police all around me when so many people are drinking. They pretty much let us do what we want and only get involved if it gets too crazy, plus I love petting all the horses.”

There are also students who find that the police are too intrusive on their festing. “The number of cops just seems unnecessary, we have gotten more and more every year for the last four years and they shut down the streets earlier and earlier every year too,” said Brett Webb, a senior studying geology.

Officer Newvahner said that there are a few steps students can take to stay safe and avoid conflict with law enforcement during fest weekends. “Drinking on the sidewalk is and always has been illegal, so do not do it,” said Newvahner and a few of his colleagues.

The officers also said that respect is very important when it comes to dealing with the police. They are there to maintain order and keep students safe, they are not out to get anyone or prevent students from having a good time.

He also said, “if it is your house, try to keep it under control.” Recurring violations, such as noise, public urination, littering, and intoxication can lead to a citation and the authorities asking students to leave if they do not live there.

After interviewing representatives from both sides, students and law enforcement, there seems to be a good balance of control and freedom for the students to have fun without harming themselves or others around them.

Students and law enforcement look to have another successful fest season in spring of 2018.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a senior at OU? Here are some memories

When I graduated high school, friends and family encouraged me to have the best time at college, and live it up.  They told me college was going to be the best four years of my life.  I think it’s safe to say I had fun.

Coming to college, I honestly couldn’t tell you how scared I actually was.  I had never been away from my family or friends for that long of a period, I didn’t know what to expect.  I didn’t know how long it was going to take to make new friends and get adjusted to life away from Cincinnati, but I knew if I didn’t think about it too hard, I could make new friends pretty easily.  Luckily, I was rooming with a friend from high school and it wasn’t long before I made, arguably, the biggest and best decision in college – joining a fraternity.

Many students adapt to the new environment and figure out what their favorite places on campus are sooner rather than later…especially in Athens!

As my time at Ohio University is running out, it’s hard not to look back at my four years here on campus, and think about all of my friends that I have met.

When I look back at my time here, there are so many different memories, good and bad, that pop into my head.  There are some that make me want to stay in this little town forever, and some that make me glad I’m leaving.  I’m going to remember strolling all the way back down to west green freshman year after a night uptown and grabbing some chicken and waffle, then only eating half of it and waking up to the other half the next morning.  I remember sophomore and junior year living in my fraternity house.  Honestly, there are too many stories to even reminisce on.  But, what I will say is some of the best memories I had were sitting in a friend’s room on a Saturday or Sunday morning trying to figure out what exactly happened the night before.  Senior year was probably the most interesting year I’ve had in college.  For the first two weeks of school I had no interest in being there, I actually wanted to go home a few times.  I don’t know why I was feeling like this, but I was.  Maybe it was because deep down I knew it was my last year, but I don’t know.  But it turned out to be the best year I’ve had on campus, but it comes with a price.

Being a senior, you get asked the same two questions about 10 times per minute.  “So, are you going to miss Athens?” and, “What are your plans after graduation?” Honestly, I can’t answer the first question with a straightforward reply.  In my four years, I haven’t been away from Athens long enough to know whether I’m going to miss it, besides Christmas break and summer. But will I miss hanging out with friends every weekend? Absolutely! What I won’t miss is having the same routine every weekend, going to the same bars every Friday and Saturday night.  To me, it just gets old after a while.  I also won’t miss the politics on campus.  I was never a very political person until this year.  It’s safe to say it brought out the worst in me.  But I think I get more annoyed with the second question.  I’m in a complicated situation right now.  I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do after graduation.  Not only do I not have a job lined up, but I’m not too sure on what I even want to do exactly, but I think I have enough confidence to figure it out before the stress mode kicks in.  It’s a work in progress.  It just gets a little annoying answering the same thing over and over and over.

Obviously I know how I feel about leaving, it’s a whole mixture of different emotions, but I also think it’s interesting to see how other seniors feel, and how they are going to remember OU.

When talking to different seniors, some in Greek life and some not, there were a few different trends that I noticed, most of which I could relate to.  You could notice some of the bars the younger students would go to, as well as those of the older students.  But, along with some of the favorite bars, you also notice some of the places people liked going to as a freshman and how that differed from their senior year.

 

After talking to these seniors, you notice that OU is a special place not only for partying and going to the bars, but also meeting girlfriends and creating lifelong friendships.  It’s these memories that people will cherish forever and take with them after college.

My personal favorite is listening to the different bars people went to as freshman and how they slowly transitioned to the different bars as they got older.  Most of the people I know started off at Red Brick, but quickly transitioned to The Crystal, or “Stal”, which is the popular spot for Greek life.

The Crystal bar via Pinterest

Once you start talking to a current OU student, or even an alum, about where their favorite spots Uptown are/were, you start talking about the amazing dining spots.  There are so many different spots to grab a bite to eat Uptown, sober or not sober.  Let’s just work our way down Court Street.  If you start at the very beginning right next to campus, you can grab some Chipotle on one side of the street or if you’re in a hurry, you can pick up some Wendy’s.  Then work your way down the street a little more and you’ll find Bagel Street Deli and Brenen’s, two more OU gems.  A little further down you’ll run into an OU favorite, Big Mamma’s.  I personally never got hooked, but I think this is where some people’s paychecks went every weekend.

Big Mamma’s Burritos

After you pass Big Mamma’s you’ll run into the heart of Court Street and the other favorite eateries.  You’ll find Wings Over, which for some is quite delicious drunk and sober, which is simply a win for everyone.  Once you turn the corner by The J Bar, which is known to many alumni as “The Junction”, you’ll find my two personal favorites, Souvlaki’s and O’Betty’s.  I was introduced to O’Betty’s my freshman year and immediately fell in love.  Since my freshman year, the only thing I have purchased from there is the cheesy fries.  It’s a mix of fresh, crispy fries with melted cheddar cheese and topped with shredded cheese.  It’s a little pricey but most nights that I get it I’m not too worried about it.

O’Betty’s very cheesy fries via Food Spotting.

Ryan Lysaght, senior studying communication studies, has had a very different and unique college experience than any other student.  As a senior, Lysaght has spent four years in a fraternity, and has been a student football manager for OU.  His freshman year, he pledged into Phi Gamma Delta social fraternity, and then a semester later accepted a job with Ohio University Football.

Ryan Lysaght (pictured with the whiteboard) sits with his fellow managers before a football game.

“One memory that I won’t forget from college is during spring semester of my freshman year, I started working with the football team and the first day I went in for my interview, and they put me to work right away, and now four years later I’m now going to be doing this as a career,” Lysaght said.

Its memories like this that people will be able to remember forever and speak about them when they’re older.  He also said joining the fraternity has given him so many different memories, skills, experiences and other things that he will be able to take with him and utilize after college.

He said some of his favorite experiences would probably be setting up and organizing events through the fraternity.  He described some of those experiences as learning how to fail fast as a group, but learning how to get through the adversity and figure out what went wrong and be able to turn it around and make it successful.

“Dealing with the fraternity, holding events and hosting them, creating them from scratch and learning from those experiences and figuring out how to host a successful one has been some of the best times,” he said.

When he isn’t helping organize different events for the fraternity or running through practice with the football team, he likes to hang out Uptown with friends.

Broney’s Alumni Grill via Another Food Critic

“My favorite place to eat would probably be Broney’s on Tuesday nights for loaded margaritas and quesadillas,” he said, “I’ve gone for the first 13 out of 15 weeks in the semester, and I plan on finishing the semester strong.”

As we’re counting down the days, all of the seniors are now thinking back on all of the memories we have over the last four years.  The countless of hours we have spent studying…and the countless hours we have rewarded ourselves at the bars.  We’re thinking about the all the friendships and relationships we have made that we will take with us after school.  Leaving home to go to college hasn’t been easy by any means, but it definitely has been worth it.  I wouldn’t have traded coming to Ohio University for anything.  It’s all of my friends, professors and memories that make me proud to say OU OH YEAH!

Athens Beautification Day: Maintaining Athens’ beauty since 2004

The Community Service Leadership Council (CSLC) hosted its 13th annual Athens Beautification Day on Sunday, April 9. Over 800 volunteers spent the day cleaning up various sites around Ohio University and the greater Athens area.

The goal of the event is to encourage Ohio University students to become involved with the Athens community, and to give back to where they live.

This year, Athens Beautification Day was preceded by Athens Beautification Week. CSLC partnered with Greek life and Athens-based nonprofit organizations in order to draw attention to Athens Beautification Day, and connect to a larger portion of the community. This included fundraising for the River Road Rabbit Rescue and a dunk tank event with the Chi Omega sorority.

Other environmentally-focused events are taking place in Athens throughout April to celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day, such as seed giveaways, a sustainability film series at the Athena Cinema and a march for science.

It looks like St. Patrick’s Day, Mill fest and March madness took a toll on students

It’s very rare to see Court Street empty.  Usually the times you see this occur is a Sunday morning, the day after a fest…or maybe the Sunday morning after two fests.  A lot of emotions run through the streets of Athens this time of the year.  People are hungover because fests and very sad because their March madness brackets are quickly busted.