As much as I love being plugged into what’s happening online and around the world, sometimes you just need to get away. Tomorrow I leave for a weeklong vacation in northern Wisconsin. I will be spending a week in a cabin where this is no internet and limited cell phone service. A little scary? Yes. Incredibly peaceful? Yes.

The next time you go on vacation (and you should) try to stay unplugged.

So, I bid adieu to my blog, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Reader for eight days. I’ll miss you, but I won’t be gone long.

This is Sarah Soczka signing off.

Last night I had dinner with my Mom and Aunt who were in town for a choral conference. Since they live in Wausau, Wis. we chose to go to PF Chang’s at Mayfair Mall so they could shop afterwards. In an effort to save money I have been trying to avoid malls, so I was shocked when I walked into Bath and Body Works and found a selection of Victoria’s Secret products.

Let me clarify, they were not selling lingerie in Bath and Body. Instead, they had an entire table dedicated to Victoria’s Secret PINK beauty products.

I understand that Limited Brands (who owns both companies) has been having a hard time in this economy. Who hasn’t? But is it really necessary to start combining brands?

I have to wonder if there’s a better way to promote Victoria’s Secret’s beauty line. Bath and Body has always been a kid friendly store. Often times they carry products for young girls. Victoria’s Secret on the other hand is not. I wonder how Mom’s feel about introducing young girls to a brand that is clearly more naughty than nice. Is it ok because the Victoria’s Secret PINK line is more cute than sexy?

Instead of merging brands, I would rather Victoria’s Secret expand their beauty line. The beauty line has grown in recent years from a few perfumes and lotions to include candles, lip gloss, body wash and a range of cosmetics. Why not create a Victoria’s Secret Beauty store similar to the ALDO Accessories stores? If Victoria’s Secret wants to promote their beauty line they should work to become a true competitor in the beauty market.

Selling some of their products in Bath and Body just feels cheap. While their price points are similar, it still feels a bit like Vera Wang* trying to sell clothing at Kohl’s. It just doesn’t fit. Perhaps I’m a brand purist, but if I’m buying a Vera Wang dress I want to get it from Vera Wang. If I want to buy sexy beauty products, I want to buy them from Victoria’s Secret not her cute 12-year-old sister. It’s a fine line to walk. Too much merging and brands will start to lose their unique selling proposition. It’s hard to have a Victoria’s Secret experience in a Bath and Body Works store.

What do you think? Is Limited Brands making a smart move by cross-selling brands and products? Or are they confusing consumers with different brand promises?

Connect with me on Twitter @sarahsoczka.

*Note: The cheaper Vera Wang line at Kohl’s has been doing well.

This week there are more social media stats and I also learned about Pet Airways.

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahsoczka.

Twitter Links: July 5-11

I hope everyone had a good weekend. This past week I changed my Twitter name from @ladyhero to @sarahsoczka. If you're following me, please remember the change!

Below are links to new social network stats, a video about United Airlines and tips on how to pick up women. Enjoy and have a good week.

Follow me on Twitter via my new username. http://twitter.com/sarahsoczka

A few Saturdays ago I woke up early to take Megabus* from Milwaukee to Chicago to visit my family. I had taken Megabus before and knew to plan for delays. (A one-way ticket for $5 is worth a few traffic delays and late buses.) What I wasn’t prepared for was a complete lack of customer service.

On this particular route the bus makes two stops, one in downtown Milwaukee (where I board) and another by the Milwaukee airport. When the bus reached the airport it was clear we were going to have problems.

After speaking with Megabus, the bus driver said that Megabus had screwed up and overbooked. People with ticket numbers 1- 12 were to get off the bus. Reaction? Nobody moved. The bus driver made a half-hearted attempt to check everyone’s ticket and looked around dumbfounded.

Then he began asking for volunteers saying, “I’m sorry. Megabus really screwed up. I need four volunteers to wait for the next bus. It’s not going to be here for a long time. I wouldn’t do it.” That’s right. He actually said, “I wouldn’t do it.” At this point I started cracking jokes about the absurdity of the situation.

Another 10-15 minutes passed, and two Megabus employees gave up their seats and stood the entire trip. Meanwhile, some people were SOL. The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth, and delayed our trip by half an hour.

It’s incredible that a company of this size does not have better policies in place. Instead of trying to kick people off the bus, Megabus should have instructed the driver to apologize and immediately ask for volunteers.

To give people an incentive, those who gave up their seats should have received a free roundtrip ticket in addition to being reimbursed for that day’s trip. It would have also been nice to let the volunteers know when the next bus would arrive. If the next bus was at capacity, Megabus could have offered to pay for a ticket on the nearby Amtrak.

At the end of the day, I’m still going to use Megabus for short trips when I don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time. Normally they offer a great service for an extremely low price, but if they don’t fix their customer service issues soon they are going to start losing customers. Fast.

*Megabus is a non-stop intercity express bus company that offers fares to travelers as low as $1 via the Internet.

A lot of people have asked if I’m planning to go to grad school lately. While I applaud those who have chosen that path (and there seems to be a lot of people my age who have) there are several reasons why I feel it’s just not right for me.

                    1. It's all about the money.
                      Many people I talk to say grad school is their back-up plan in case they lose their job. Maybe I’m a cynic, but I don’t see how this is realistic. Most 20-somethings already have a hard time managing student loans, car payments, cell phone bills and let’s not forget, credit cards. Grad school is expensive. The economy is bad, and let’s face it we’re getting paid crap. Grad school doesn’t seem like a smart financial decision.

                    2. Who’s going to hire me?
                      Before you start lecturing me on all the professions that require a Master’s degree please, read further. I understand some professions require a higher degree of learning. Doctors for instance, but I’m working in the ad and PR agency world. In my world, a Master’s degree means my employer has to pay me more than someone else at the same experience level. Employers are trying to keep costs low. If it comes down to two people with the same level of experience and similar backgrounds… Sorry, but I think the bachelor’s degree gets the job.

                    3. What’s the value?
                      Again, while I applaud those with Master’s degrees, I simply fail to see the overall value. For PR professionals in the corporate or not-for-profit world a Master’s degree might be useful. For PR professionals on the agency side, I think an APR accreditation is more valuable. By now you may think I’m just lazy. That’s not true. I simply would rather work towards my APR, and be recognized by people in my industry than an educational institution. And yeah, it doesn’t hurt that an APR is much less expensive.

                    I’m sure there are many arguments that can be made on behalf of grad schools everywhere, but for me, getting a few more years experience and becoming APR accredited is of greater importance.

                    As a side note, if you really want to feel awful about the money you’ve “wasted” on college read this article from Gawker, “College: Waste of Time.”

                    Do you agree? Disagree? I’d be interested in hearing what others think on this topic, especially if you work in upper management. Which do you value more? A Master’s degree or APR? Who are you more likely to hire?

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