To Eat or Not to Eat Grandma – The Importance of the AP Stylebook and Grammar

To Eat or Not to Eat Grandma

The Importance of the AP Stylebook and Grammar

 

Why should you care about the 2016 AP Stylebook? Well, grammar, punctuation and proper spelling are important. They are the difference between eating your grandmother and having a meal with your grandmother:

 

lets eat grandma

 

They also differentiate Prince Harry as a prince of a country named Wales instead of the large, ocean-dwelling mammals. Although, whales are pretty fascinating creatures!

 

prince of wales harry whales

 

So, when in doubt, many professionals turn to the AP Stylebook as a guide. Last month, the Associated Press released the newest edition of the AP Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. This has provided guidelines for spelling, punctuation and language for writers, editors, and other professionals worldwide for more than 60 years. For example, about the same time TVs debuted in living rooms across America, journalists didn’t know whether to call them televisions or TVs. In the AP Stylebook, TV is acceptable as an abbreviation of television.

 

AP Stylebook

2016 AP Stylebook

The AP Stylebook has adapted words that have come about due to new technologies and inventions. Words like CD (an abbreviation for compact disc), cellphone (all one word, who knew?) and MP3 (not mp3, lowercase) have all been incorporated. Previously, the words “internet” and “web” were capitalized, yet it was decided for this year to no longer use initial caps.  For those of us who use the AP Stylebook as an everyday guide, I imagine they feel the same way I do:

 

 

 

AP Stylebook

 

At about 600 pages long, the new edition has 50 new and updated technology terms as well, including emoji, emoticon and metadata. I wonder if the next edition will include the newest trend Pokémon Go. Or, perhaps, they are the one percent of the population like me:

 

pokemon go

 

 

Mason jar

Original Mason jar.

Updates to the food chapter include arctic char (a type of fish) and the use of either whisky or whiskey. For all the crafters out there, “canning jar” is replacing “mason jar” to describe the glass jar used to preserve food and make crafts.  I wonder how John Landis Mason would feel about this. He was the Philadelphia tinsmith who invented and patented the screw finish glass jar in 1858, which became known as the Mason jar. Many of those jars are still around today with the date 1858 etchedalmation fire dogd into it.

 

New entries for this year include restricting the word “spree” to refer to shopping or revelry, not killing. “Crash” and “accident” are differentiated, the latter to be used only when it insinuates no fault. And there will no longer be a “two-alarm fire.” The new book states to use the number of firefighters or quantity of equipment sent to a fire instead of the number of alarms. I guess it will now be reported as, “a seven-firefighter and one Dalmatian blaze.”

 

As is the case with many things, the AP Stylebook is adapting to our ever-changing world. It’s useful to have one, collective, go-to tool that compiles all these details that is updated annually. However, for as long as the stylebook has been around, one thing has remained the same: grammar and punctuation are important.

Remember, you don’t want to eat your grandma!

 

Three Reasons for Media Training

Three Reasons for Media Training

by Bill Deeter

 

Simply put, media training helps people and companies understand the media, develop skills and confidence to be effective in interviews, and communicate concise messages with assurance, strategy and control. It seems in today’s fast-paced world, more and more clients think media training isn’t necessary. They don’t have time for it. Or they don’t want to spend the money on it.

 

Yet in order to achieve effective media coverage, spokespeople should strive to be seen and heard in the media regularly with simple, consistent messages that resonate.

Media Training

About 20 years ago, I wrote the book Working With The Press and I recently went through a copy, marking up sections that had changed since I penned the original. In this era of instant access and social media, rules and tools change constantly, and it is important that the practice of media training keeps pace.

 

Here are three reasons why good communications include media training.

 

  1. Reason One: Being Unprepared Risks Reputation and Crisis

    How many times have you seen a community leader, business exec, sports figure, entertainer, or politician say or do something that makes them, their cause, or the product they promote lose total credibility? Unfortunately when that happens all the apologizing and rationalizing can’t make up for the lost golden opportunity. They have put the reputation of their business or cause at risk. If your spokesperson is prepared, media training can save them and you from disaster and position your people, products and services in a favorable light.

  2. Reason Two: News is a Useful Business

    Making friends with the media doesn’t guarantee positive news coverage. News is news! If you have it, the media will be interested. If you don’t have it, they won’t. It is just that simple. Media has a job to do. If you accept this fact, realize they are neither friend nor enemy, and really concentrate on delivering news, you will be doing everyone a big favor. When you are able to help make the medias’ job easier, more fun, educational, or important, you will do well. Success leads to more interviews and helps build credibility. Along the way, you can become a reliable resource.

  3. Reason Three: Messages Can Get Lost

    Getting media attention and coverage is a challenge at best. Good reporters try to balance their coverage with as many newsworthy perspectives or facts as possible. Media training guarantees that when the opportunity comes, you have two or three key messages well thought out and rehearsed, including answers to even the most “difficult” questions. These messages must be very clear, concise and relevant, presented in terms the interviewer will understand. If not, your comments will inevitably end up on the cutting-room floor. When an interview has been completed, you want your message delivered accurately. The target audience should remember your message above all others.

 

Done correctly, media training takes skill and is a powerful business tool. It’s an excellent way to reach consensus on important company messaging and create third-party endorsements. It’s also a great way to create a sense of team and common purpose among participants. This all will serve a company well over time.

 

To schedule a DeeterUSA media training session, click here.

How to Create Your Own Viral Video

How to Create Your Own Viral Video

Why the Running Man Challenge is Running Up Views

 

What makes a viral video so great? Why does something like this go viral? Pay attention, Philadelphia Police Department, since Detroit Police Department called you out this week for the Running Man Challenge! And, wow, they’ve got some amazing choreography that will be tough to beat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gkbfBpcAtg

Detroit viral video

Detroit PD creating their viral video, courtesy of Fox2 Detroit.

Let’s take a step back to where it all began. One day they were just students. Next minute, they created a worldwide dance sensation. High school students Kevin Vincent and Jerry Hall of Hillside, N.J., when interviewed on Ellen about the viral dance trend they started, explained they were bored in Mrs. Graham’s finance class so, like every good student does, they decided to goof off. One started singing the ’90s hit song “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJ’s (DON’T Google it, or it will get stuck in your head – you’ve been warned!!!) while the other danced. They then videotaped themselves dancing together and soon, two University of Maryland basketball players, Jaylen Brantley and Jared Nickens, made their own video, which led NBA Rookie Justise Winslow to post a video that rocketed the dance into the newest trend. Videos started popping up from the NFL, NBA, and my favorite, local law enforcement.

 

From Scotland to New Zealand, officers around the world are stepping up to the challenge. LAPD can be seen dancing under the famous Hollywood sign and on the field of Dodger stadium, while NYPD is doing the running man with school children using the Brooklyn Bridge as a backdrop, and Detroit PD is getting down in front of the General Motors building.

 

My favorite so far is Miami Police Department, featuring a very cute officer named Nick who is trying to tape a vlog but gets interrupted by each department, including his chief, nagging him to do the challenge since they were called out by Miami Beach PD. But Nick is defiant that they are not doing it. The next scene Nick is in the elevator, doing the original running man dance move, then practicing the new running man dance move made famous by this challenge. As he’s dancing with his back turned, the elevator doors open and the entire department is watching him. There is a brief pause, then Nick exclaims, “Okay, let’s do this!” as the beat drops and he busts out of the elevator dancing through the line of his co-workers.

 

The entire department is now dancing, including an officer in a NASA-like, bulky bomb suit (who knew you could get down in one of those?)! Of course it wouldn’t be Miami if they didn’t pepper in some salsa dancing with Gloria Estefan’s “Conga.” The video quickly turns back to “My Boo” and b-boy Officer McDreamy starts to breakdance like it’s 1981! He spins around and strikes a pose that could melt the cover of Cosmo, then shakes his finger as if he’s saying, “Uh, uh, you ain’t going to call us out!” The video ends with an officer drawing yellow police tape around the dancers and in a voice as smooth as Barry White’s says, “Killed it.” Way to go, Miami!  Well, done!  You can watch their video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BusmB726_tU

Miami viral video

Miami PD Running Man Challenge

Now, here are my top 10 ideas to make an amazing viral video:

 

  1. Pick a catchy song.
    For the Running Man Challenge though, you have to use “My Boo.” But feel free to add some Philly flair, like Boyz II Men (and bring back the real running man dance move!). Remember this annoyingly catchy worldwide dance hit? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0.
  2. Be personable.
    Find a cute, personable officer to be featured (male or female). Bonus if they can breakdance … or have an infectious laugh like Chewbacca Mom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyp90txeNxM
  3. Showcase your talent!
    Include as many members of the team as you can – from foot patrol to highway to detectives to administration, captains, etc. Nick accomplishes this by walking around the Miami police department: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BusmB726_tU
  4. Feature well-known landmarks around the city.
    Who wouldn’t want to do the Running Man where Rocky ran up the stairs at the Art Museum?  Or perhaps grab a cheesesteak at Geno’s or Pat’s to get some energy to dance?  Catch Rocky’s greatest moment here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZCO40Zwt00
  5. Include animals.
    Many of these viral videos have used the bomb suit, but consider using mounted police or K-9s … everyone loves animals! Bonus points if they dance, too! Here’s a dancing horse from New Orleans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiWJ30avV6c
  6. Think outside the box (or usual camera lens). Use a drone because they are cool and give crazy cool camera angles (haven’t seen anyone do this in a challenge, either). But don’t use near animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn6eeuUw3_0
  7. Be unique!
    Include the stunt riders from Philly’s own Hero Thrill Show! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDNz3Ou-tj8
  8. Add in comedy.
    Have an officer dancing at a donut shop! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=624II3P_m1k
  9. Make it about the community
    Include kids, fireman, local businesses, sports teams, the mayor, the Phillie Phanatic, everyone you can get involved! Then they share the video, and their friends share, and well, you can see where I’m going with this. LAPD’s Running Man Challenge is a great example of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIi4KDxLiPo
  10. HAVE FUN and SMILE!
    This is your chance to showcase to the world that you can have fun, smile, and enjoy yourselves, like this artic white fox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUFh9MQAb5c

 

Hopefully this has given you some insight about the Running Man Challenge and how to create a great viral video.  And if, by chance, Nick is reading this, please call me so we can have our own running man challenge dance off!

 

Keep running, man!

Andi

 

Creating Awareness With Targeted Messaging

Awareness eBike

 Creating Awareness With Targeted Messaging

Almost four years ago, I bought my first electric bike. Last month I bought my second. As the years and seasons have rolled past, I find myself blazing around the streets of Doylestown with greater speeds, and heavier loads than I ever thought possible. I can easily carry $100 worth of groceries without strain. I’ve become an unapologetic convert.

 

The electric bike combines the distance advantages of a car with the city friendly capability of a bike – you can bypass all traffic jams and jump freely between roads, bike paths, and unpaved areas to find the most direct route, and park for free.

 

Riding my eBike makes me feel empowered. Creating no pollution or noise, I am eating gigantic hills for breakfast and flying by spandex clad riders while wearing business attire.

 

On nice days, I allow additional commute time to show courtesy in answering the flood of constant questions I get about my bike. Over the past four years, these questions have not waned, only increased. “Hey, does that bike have a motor?” “How fast does it go?” “How far does it go on a charge?” “Where did you get it?” “How long does the battery charge last?” “How much does one of those go for?”  The questions go on and on, and I’m happy to answer them.

 

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot more unapologetic eBikers flying around Doylestown.

 

This fascination in my mode of transportation has gotten “my wheels turning” if you will about Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point.”

 

Gladwell theorizes that “hits” or “fads” happen in the context of an epidemic   – when a few highly infected fans become viral infectors for a product or idea by adopting it themselves and spreading the word.

 

With that in mind, DeeterUSA helps our clients:

  • Gain exposure: Knowledge comes from exposure. Having a message that reaches their target market in a relevant and timely way establishes credibility and offers value to the recipient.
  • Understand the importance of social proof: We’re more likely to buy if we see people we know — particularly if we admire and respect them — buying too. This principle is what makes User Generated Content (UGC) such an effective form of content marketing. We help our clients develop editorial strategies for social media to assist organic search (SEO) and page engagements to increase brand awareness, website traffic, and, social media community following.
  • Realize buyers look for confirmation: Once buyers have committed to making a purchase, whether out of necessity or trend, they look to the internet, social media, family members and friends for confirmation that this is a good purchase. The true value of publicity is found in the endorsement – direct or implied – of third parties.

 

While I don’t know if eBikes will become a “hit”, it’s important for us at DeeterUSA to help our customers tailor and develop messaging to move their target audiences from unawareness to awareness, to interest, to conviction, and ultimately to sale/purchase.

 

Happy Trails,

 

-Jill

What Marketing Agencies Can Learn From Craft Breweries

What Marketing Agencies Can Learn From Craft Breweries

The quality found in “craft” marketing

 

Quick quiz. When I say beer, what companies come to mind? Budweiser? Coors? Miller? Those are the answers I heard in a quick, informal poll around the office and in my neighborhood last week.

 

Second question, what’s your “favorite” beer? When I asked that question, there was a little overlap, yet several others names came up. Fat Tire, Allagash, Ommegang, and Dogfish Head were some of what I heard.

 

Final question (for now). What is the common thread with that last list of names? You got it, they’re all produced by microbreweries or considered “craft brews.”

 

Craft breweries have been popping up in staggering numbers over the last two decades. Initially, this newer entry into the beer market was thought to be a fad, yet in recent years, big time breweries have been forced to take notice.

 

This graphic does a nice job of showing the growth craft breweries have shared in recent years:

Marketing Craft Brewer lessons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(More information about Craft Brewing Business can be found here.)

 

It could be argued that craft brewing is not new. It is, rather, the original form of brewing. Case in point, Belgian monks often win “best beer in the world” contests, following secret recipes handed down from generation to generation. The monks brew on behalf of their monasteries, produce the end product in small batches, and price their beer in accordance with the premium item that it is.

 

Today’s craft brewers act in much the same way – small batches, priced as a premium item. One key difference between today’s craft brewers and the monks are the age-old recipes. Contrary to their Belgian counterparts, today’s craft brewers generally are open to experimenting, playing with flavors, and changing things up to create unique and memorable brews. Anchor Brewery in San Francisco has been producing its “Anchor Christmas Ale” each year since 1975. In those 40 years the brew masters have never used the same recipe. The beer is similar from year to year, yet something is different and unique to each year’s concoction.

 

New question. Why am I, a marketing and communications guy sharing all of this “stuff” about craft brewing? Well, in recent days, I’ve been a little troubled with a statement I’ve heard countless times over the 20 or so years I’ve been with DeeterUSA. When talking with prospective new clients we have often said that we view New York and Los Angeles-based agencies as our competition. The implication here is that we can go “toe-to-toe” with the big name agencies in public relations and advertising … the Budweisers and Millers of our industry.

 

While I do agree with that sentiment, I actually think we can take it a step further. Instead of comparing ourselves to these big agencies, I prefer making the comparative between us (and other great, modest sized agencies around the country) to the high-end, highly successful micro brewers. We are nimble in our approach to communications and are able to adjust programming to ensure that we are crafting the best recipe of tactics that strategically support our clients and their products or services offerings. We are pioneering and inventive and willing to go the extra step to make our own brand of “brew” that is truly exceptional … and we are never satisfied. We are always searching for ways to make programming better.

 

In essence, DeeterUSA is a group of “craft marketing and communications professionals.” And while I am not slamming the big agencies in New York and Los Angeles, I do firmly believe that companies looking for high quality, highly effective public relations, advertising, digital/social support, and more might be well served in looking at agencies in Austin, Texas … Portland, Oregon … or Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

 

Cheers!

 

-Drew Deeter

Measure the ROI of Social Media

Social Media ROI

 

Today, where many brands are incorporating social media into their overall marketing strategy, it’s important to figure out ways to measure this tool’s effectiveness. Social media marketing measurement has evolved over the past ten years. Things have gone from standard market research to highly targeted analytics tools. Having tools like Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, and paid measurement tools, like Radian6, makes this task a bit simpler.

 

Figuring out one’s objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before executing a social media campaign is important to creating the most effective and efficient campaign. What are your objectives? Are you trying to gain awareness, increase fans, or drive sales?  Although many companies are quick to say all of the above, there needs to be one main objective. The rest is secondary!

 

A few of the main KPIs used to measure campaign social media campaigns are:

 

  1. Increase in the number of fans and followers
  2. Insight into your brand’s demographics and location
  3. The number of “active” followers
  4. The number of “likes” and “shares”
  5. The number of comments made
  6. The number of mentions
  7. Traffic to your site data
  8. Sales conversion data

 

The best way to build towards high social media ROI is to develop your marketing goals slowly. Most do this by analyzing how the campaigns are performing and then optimizing accordingly. You cannot expect to hit social gold right away. Many campaigns take years to build in value and hit their main objectives. Being patient and understanding helps.

 

─ Jacky

Do You Speak Emoji?

Emoji

 

Can your brand use Emoji?

 

Everywhere you turn, you can find an Emoji.

These Japanese originated picture messages have expanded well outside of traditional text messages. Emoji are used in nearly half of every sentence posted on sites like Instagram, and Facebook is set to introduce them alongside the famous “like” button as a way of expressing your reaction to a post. Even Sony Pictures has plans to create an animated movie featuring these staples of social media. Some outlets have claimed that Emoji are an emerging language and a global one at that. The idea of using a smiling face, rainbow, and even a pizza slice to tell a story or launch a brand sounds odd, yet these “pictures” are allowing people to communicate when language barriers would normally apply.

 

So how are brands incorporating this new language into their marketing?

 

JCPenney promoted their back-to-school sale with an Emoji campaign called “Express Yourselfie.” Customers were asked to create personalized Emoji that resembled themselves. JCPenney suggested users customize their Emoji with accessories and hairstyles and to post their Emoji alongside selfies to share with friends as well as in the brand’s online gallery. Each user was also able to view shopping suggestions based on their personal style.
Another brand, Domino’s had a campaign combining the popularity of Emoji with a new way to order its products. Their new system allows a customer to order by Tweeting or texting the pizza Emoji or #EasyOrder.

 
As use of Emoji grows, it’s a good idea for brands to rethink how they plan to incorporate them into their branding and marketing plans. We have lots to look forward to!
─ Jacky

How to Prepare Your Business for the Facebook Dislike Button

dislike

 

 

With the development of the “Dislike” button well under way on Facebook, many PR and Marketing firms are scrambling for ways to combat the impending arrival of what is expected to be an increase in negative press. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first dropped word about the dislike button a few weeks back, there wasn’t much surrounding detail offered.              

 

 Through the following weeks, limited information has surfaced about this tool being used to cater “empathic” posts. However, at this point, no one can be entirely sure. With this in mind, it’s important to discuss within your company the ways you might feel most comfortable preparing for this current social media tidal wave that is about to sweep across the world of marketing and PR.

 

Although the buzz surrounding this revelation has stirred up some concerns, there are both positives and negatives to this budding situation. A lot of focus seems to be circling the concern that the dislike button will allow consumers to give companies negative feedback without any way to resolve the issues. This means that someone could dislike a company’s Facebook page over something irrelevant or miniscule and there is no way to right the wrong.

 

Ultimately, this is bad news for companies, considering that not just one person has access to a computer, but millions, and there may be nothing stopping them from lowering the rating of a company, with no easy way for customer representatives to swoop in and resolve any issues.

 

Fear not, because while this is an understandable concern, it remains only one problem area and believe it or not, there are positives to this as well!

 

The social media platform, and more specifically Facebook, allows for companies to be closer to their ideal consumers. For those consumers who might use the dislike button for a relevant and rational complaint, companies can now receive excellent constructive criticism on how to improve at a much quicker and more personal level. This may also allow for general feedback, no matter the degree of the complaint. In the end, this could help companies address key issues, large or small, and improve their rating on Facebook.

 

Through all of this, I’m sure there are still more questions, concerns, and/or thoughts regarding your business and its possible fate on Facebook. Here are a few tips to help you prepare and plan for the launch of the dislike button.

 

  • It’s crucial to make sure your employees are informed on the changing information regarding the dislike button so make sure that your business has a plan of action.
  •  Be prepared, and discuss with your employees how everyone might work together to address negative rating s on your page.

Remember, the dislike button is still in the works, which gives companies at least some time to gather helpful and relevant information. Make the best out of this situation by addressing it as creatively as you can.

 

Check out these links that go a bit more into detail on this issue.

 

-Katie

Subaru Nailed It!

subaruMy wife drives a Subaru Forester and is a raving fan. It has taken her through an amazing amount of “life moments” in the last decade. Both literally and figuratively there have been incredible super highways that she has driven as well as her share of rocky roads.

 

 Getting out of a bad situation with the help of an incredible support group of friends

  • Living life’s adventures with her golden retriever, chow mix, Ginny
  • Meeting and marrying one of the most intelligent, handsome, kind, AND humble men on the planet (yes, I’m referring to myself)
  • Having the most precious and beautiful baby girl in the world and watching that girl grow and blossom into an amazing young lady
  • Welcoming a handsome and adventurous son into the family and watching him develop his own personality with glimpses of a young me popping through with some of the things he does
  • Traveling west to Petersburg, Pa to care for, love, and ultimately say good-bye to an ailing mother

 

 There are dings in the body, French fries stuck between the seats, coffee stains on the carpet, claw marks in the upholstery. The car, to paraphrase the Johnny Cash song “Ragged Old Flag,” is “weather-worn, but she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in.”

 

 I’ve made it known that Amy’s “Subie” is not MY favorite car. It’s legroom is lacking and it just isn’t for me.

 

 Yet the truth be told, I know that car holds dear memories for her and I am a sap. I see those claw marks in the upholstery and can see and hear Ginny sharing her displeasure with the tollbooth attendant on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Images flash of pink-dress wearing princesses and golden suns smiling when I see broken crayons under the seats. I hear laughter and music and hands keeping the beat on the steering wheel after a great day at the beach. That’s why Subaru’s latest commercial has struck a chord with me and brought a tear to my eye. Emotion is a tricky tool to use in advertising. When done well it’s extremely effective, yet emotion (like humor) can be highly subjective. When perceived as “pandering” or false, the emotion can be counterproductive.

 

I think Subaru nailed it. Their use of imagery that I can relate to as well as subtle, yet “mood setting” music enhances the ads effectiveness for me. Take a look for yourself and let me know your thoughts: youtube.com/watch?v=UkX4aOQ_u2I

 

─ Drew

Marketing to Millennials

Millennials

Marketing To Millennials

 

What is a millennial?

 

A millennial is defined as anyone born between 1981 and 1997. Time magazine described millennials as “technology-addled narcissists.” Yet the truth of the matter is that millennials are taking over and are soon expected to surpass baby boomers in buying power. Their buying power is massive with more than $1.3 trillion in annual spend. That number continues to grow. So as marketers we need to adapt to how we message the tech-savvy generation.

 

Below are a few tips to keep in mind when messaging to millennials.

 

  1. Mobile, mobile mobile. According to entrepreneur.com, 85% of U.S. millennials own a smartphone. It is extremely important to hit these users when they are engaged and to make all marketing messages mobile-friendly.
  2. Personalization is key. Millennials want to feel like your content was created with their interest (not their wallet) in mind. Create content that educates instead of advertises, this makes them feel like they are making smart purchases.
  3. Advertise where they are most. Social advertisements are the new way to engage millennial social media users. Traditional online banner ads are mostly ignored by social media users and are only clicked on 0.2 percent of the time they are seen. Social ads are smaller and more suited for smartphones than traditional banner ads and are more preferred by Generation Y (birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s).
  4. Build your brand on social media. On a day-to-day basis, millennials rely on social media for their news and updates. Social media outlets are by far the dominant way millennials learn about things online. Search engines are ranked near the top but fall below Facebook and Twitter for brand discovery.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you generate new ideas and strategies which your brand can initiate to engage with the millennial generation.

 

─ Jacky

Bruce Springsteen

 

Bruce-Springsteen-001-620x465

 

 

As I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to Mojo Nixon guest DJ on E Street Radio, the Bruce Springsteen channel on Sirius/XM. As Nixon was describing his motivation for including the songs he was playing in his mix, he explained how Springsteen’s first few albums (“Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.,” “The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle,” and “Born to Run”) did an amazing job of speaking to the people of New Jersey and New York. The songs were mini-stories about characters from that specific region and/or gave the listener a clear understanding of what it was like growing up in that area at that time. I would expand Nixon’s geography to also include people in Eastern Pennsylvania, as many of us who grew up here spent many summer days and nights “down the shore” and can easily identify with Springsteen’s lyrics from these early albums. Listening to “Spirits in the Night,” “4th of July, Asbury Park,” “Thunder Road,” or “Jungleland” definitely makes me feel like Springsteen was talking to me.

 

Interestingly, while Nixon (a North Carolinian) appreciated those early records, it was Springsteen’s fourth record, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” that made him feel a strong connection to the Boss’ lyrics. His rationale was that on “Darkness,” Bruce was no longer singing stories about where he grew up. The songs now were broader in scope and told tales of characters Springsteen met or conjured up after touring and having the opportunity to see the world outside of Asbury Park, New York, and Philly.

 

I would venture to suggest that Springsteen’s next two albums, “The River” and “Nebraska,” each expanded Springsteen’s ring of fans and popularity so that by the time “Born in the USA” was released in 1984, there were literally millions of people poised and ready to receive that album and help make it the incredible commercial success that it was. Without question, the quality of the songs on “Born in the USA” played a large part in its success, as did Springsteen’s legendary live shows and relentless touring schedule. Yet I submit that the foundation that was established by Springsteen’s earlier work was equally important to how well “Born in the USA” did on the charts and commercially.

 

Now, what hit me right between the eyes as I listened to Nixon this morning was that we “preach” the same concepts day-in and day-out at DeeterUSA as we work with our clients to develop strategic marketing and communications plans:

 

  • First and foremost, build a strong foundation with your communications activities. It may not be the most exciting and/or glamorous tactical items that you will do, yet these items are the things that will set-up your successes moving forward

 

  • Identify all of your target audiences, prioritize them, and then work “core out” to convert them to be advocates of your brand or company. Start with those closest to your company and work to influence them one at a time. More often than not, what you will find is that when you get to the outer rings of influence, the people in the inner rings will serve as cheerleaders for you – making it easier to “win over” the people in the outer rings

 

For Springsteen, his earlier albums set a strong foundation that paved the way for his critically acclaimed album “Born to Run” and his commercially huge “Born in the USA.” Further, the songs and stories shared on each of his albums became more geographically expansive with each release. In essence, he worked “core-out” lyrically, speaking first to the people in New Jersey, New York, and Eastern Pennsylvania, and then building out from there until he became the global icon that he is today.

 

DeeterUSA cannot promise your brand or company the same success that Bruce Springsteen has realized, yet our experience with core out marketing has repeatedly resulted in outcomes that exceeded both ours and our client’s expectations!

 

─ Drew

The Latest Crop of “Designers”

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I am on the board of trustees for an area university. While in conversation with the dean of academic affairs and a fellow trustee over lunch at a trustee retreat last week one of them mentioned starting a new course at the school in advertising design or something similar and it was the perfect entre for me to confide in them that I have been less than impressed with the young design graduates I have interviewed and had to work with over the past few years. The sad fact is that none of them could draw a picture freehand. I’m talking about scratching out simple “thumbnail” sketches to demonstrate they understood what I and others were talking about. What I have seen is so bad, in fact, that if you took these “art directors/designers” Mac away every one of these people would be completely helpless. What does that say about those schools who have awarded those “fine arts” degrees? Maybe they should be “find arts” because the kids I have interviewed wouldn’t know good art if it hit them. When I shared my frustration with the dean, she appeared to being shocked, yet upon reflection said that she could see where I was coming from. What makes this all so terribly sad is that this new breed of art directors/designers is completely lost without their computers and sadder still is the fact that they are limited by what their computers can do. They have long since forfeited their own creativity and ingenuity. I wonder what Da Vinci and Michelangelo would think of this. Forget about carving David out of marble “I don’t want to get any blisters and as for The Sistine Chapel, I think an off white ceiling would be just fine.”  Who wants to get a kink in their neck … painting on their back. You’ve got to be kidding me!

– Bill

It is your responsibility

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I was just writing a note to our team about a client decision to rebrand a product in the middle of that product’s national roll out. While I fully support the client’s right to make the decision to make the change (they pay the bills) and I do believe it will be in the best interest of the company involved to create a global brand, I also believe it does open up an interesting question about responsibility or accountability and authority.

 

It is my humble belief that if I expect to hold someone on staff responsible or accountable for achieving expected, required, or anticipated results, I must then arm them with the authority they need to be successful. Implied in that authority is the fact that I have enough confidence in my staff member to know that they will not abuse the authority I give them and they will use all of their professional talents to meet the goals or objectives I and/or others on my team have set and they, as the project/program manager, have agreed to.

 

All of this is pretty clear-cut for me. I believe that if I do not empower the person I have assigned the task with the authority they need to do the job at hand, I have no right to hold them responsible or accountable for the results. It amazes me to sometimes see very bright people miss this point. I do not want to be held accountable for someone else’s decisions. It is just that simple. It goes back to an earlier blog I posted about hiring artists to paint pictures and then micromanaging them to the point that the finished product is a reflection of the micromanager and not the person assigned to the task.

 

If you want a happy and heathly work force, give them the freedom to put their background and skills to best use. If they succeed, then by all means praise and thank them. If they fail, try to educate them and set them straight realizing that failure is a part of learning and growing. If they fail repeatedly on the things you have already corrected, then you need to have the courage to cut your losses and move on.  My experience has been good people can do great work with the proper encouragement and just the right amount of direction. It really is just that simple.

 

–       Bill

The Making of a Masterful Media List

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When pitching a story for a client you don’t want to throw it out into the unknown, you want to make sure it gets into the right hands at the right time. A well-thought-out media list is something that every client/company should have. Targeted lists have the greatest impact and get the maximum reach. Below are some tips to hone in on your ideal media list:

 

1. Research, research, research. Once you have narrowed down the target audience for your list, research all publications nationally or within a specific region and find the best fits. Within each of these publications there are multiple writers on staff – from these staff members find the individual reporter/writer that covers the topic you’re researching, whether it is healthcare, lifestyle, regional news, sports, or something else.

 

2. Remember to add additional outlets that you wouldn’t normally think of. Think outside the box when it comes to certain publications. You should already have TV, print, and radio on your list, but after those look into blogs that cover the topic you’re creating the list for. Also remember to look into certain social media outlets that correlate with your client/company. Some Twitter and Facebook pages garner multiple views per day. Having a Facebook or Twitter account share or like your story helps it to reach a much larger audience.

 

3. Quality over quantity. This phrase has been used before, yet it is vital when creating a media list. You need to be careful of who you’re adding onto your lists. The last thing you want to do is send a reporter/writer a story that is irrelevant to what they standardly cover. These publications receive hundreds of new press releases each day and don’t have time to read one that is not the right fit for them. It’s not to say they won’t pass your story along to the right person, yet they shouldn’t have to because you should already be sending it to the correct people. Having a targeted list may be smaller in appearance, yet will make a bigger impact in the long run.

 

4. Once created, make sure to keep the list current. Reporters/writers come and go quickly. They may have switched to another paper or changed topics they cover. Whatever the case, you need to be aware of these changes and apply them to your media lists. Certain services update these staffers automatically when they change positions, yet it doesn’t hurt to call and check to be sure you are sending your news to the right person. Every couple of months you should look at your media lists and see if changes need to be made.

 

5. You should have multiple media lists and one master list. Sometimes you will send a release for a very targeted audience, while other times you will be sending it to a much broader target audience. This is why having different lists separating areas/topics is helpful. You do not want to have to look into your master list each time to pull out specific publications. You know your clients/company and should know what micro-lists they could benefit from. You could have a “Philadelphia” media list highlighting publications only in that specific region or a “food and wine” media list that only covers those topics.

 

6. Don’t be afraid to use an online service. Creating a perfect media list can be daunting, yet there are services out there that make it easy. Companies like Meltwater, Cision, and PRnewswire enable users to search through large databases to find the best contacts. These services also incorporate press release distribution, extensive release reports for clients, and social media tracking. While they can seem pricey, they can be very efficient and can help you make your media list the best it can be.

 

At the end of the day, you want to make sure you get the most coverage for your client. Having a very fine-tuned media list will help you do just that. DeeterUSA is in the business of reporting and sometimes making news coverage happen. We try to spread the word to exactly who needs to hear it. Over time you will build relationships with reporters and editors. This will increase your visibility with the media. Be smart and take your time when creating a media list. Hopefully you will get the pickup your release – and your client – deserves.

 

– Rachel

The Customer Isn’t Always Right

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We in business have all heard the comment  ”The customer is always right.” I’m here to tell you that is not really true. The better way to think about it is that the customer paying for your product or service has the last word … right or wrong!

 

For nearly 20 years I was the “customer” or “client” and I prided myself on being open-minded, acknowledging, when and where appropriate, that I did not have the answer to every question and/or problem. I even admitted that I made mistakes. It was sometimes painful yet always necessary. My goal on making mistakes has always been to bat better than 500. When I do that, I am a winner.

 

As I have gotten a little older, I also have come to realize there are very few things in life that are completely “black or white.” When you are living your life to the fullest, business or professional, you learn very quickly that many shades of gray replace pure “black and white.”  What I have also found is that the better quality managers and business leaders have the self-confidence and maturity to readily admit that life is full of gray areas and they don’t have all the answers. And the true industry icons I know are never shy about admitting that they make mistakes.

 

What makes these people so unique in my mind is that not only are they willing to admit to their mistakes, they are equally quick to compliment those who correct them. These icons want what is best for their company and it stops right there. Being right is nice, but having a successful business is much more rewarding.

 

─ Bill

The Power of the Hashtag

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When Isis Wenger was chosen for an employee recruitment campaign for OneLogin, she had no idea that she would spark a social movement, or rather a social media movement.

 

When Wenger, a platform engineer at OneLogin, posed for the ad she received an overwhelming response of negative feedback. Many people questioned whether the ad accurately portrayed what female engineers look like, some even claimed that she was “too pretty” to be an engineer.

 

Wenger took to social media and encouraged others to share their stories about diversity issues in technology. She shared a photo of herself holding a piece of paper that said “I help build enterprise software, #ILookLikeAnEngineer.” Not long after, the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer caught fire. Over the next week, the hashtag was tweeted over 50,000 times by other women in engineering.[i]

 

Gender disparity and sexism are prevalent issues in tech, engineering, science, and math industries and have recently come into the spotlight thanks to Ellen Pao. When the junior investing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufiled & Byers, and former CEO of Reddit Inc., sued the venture capital firm for gender discrimination she made headlines.

 

Today, younger generations are taking their concerns to the web; protesting via social media. Just in the past year we’ve seen social movements concerning same-sex marriage, racial profiling, and transgender discrimination take over the web.

 

According to the Computing Research Association, the gender gap in tech-fields often begins in college. In 2011 only 12 percent of computer science and computer engineering degrees were awarded to women.[ii] Part of the solution is companies making their workplaces more inclusive and recruiting diverse candidates. Another part of the solution comes from women in the field encouraging aspiring engineers on the web, much like Wenger.

 

What do women in math and science really look like? Who are they? How many are there? While gender disparity has often been at the forefront of people’s concerns, this movement sparked by Wenger forces us all to take a deeper look. The #ILookLikeAnEngineer movement also reminds us all of the power of social media and the power in sharing one’s story.

 

-Lydia

 

[i] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/06/technology/hashtag-aims-to-break-gender-stereotypes-in-engineering.html?ref=technology

[ii] http://archive2.cra.org/uploads/documents/resources/taulbee/CS_Degree_and_Enrollment_Trends_2010-11.pdf

Chemistry is Key to Client/Agency Success

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When selecting an agency to partner with, I always counsel those doing the search to begin with “chemistry.” The two most important factors in client/agency relationships, in my opinion, are trust and respect. These two factors dictate how well the people involved get along – what their chemistry is likely to be. While creativity, price, and service always factor into the equation, what was always most important to me when I was a “client” was being comfortable that my agency contact was able and willing to tell me what I needed to hear, even if it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear.

 

In my estimation, every creative agency offers “arms and legs.” What sets the best agencies apart from the rest is the strength of conviction that allows them to speak up and share their point of view or perspective on important topics time after time after time. This is really what smart clients are paying for.

 

No one has all the answers. Therefore, smart clients look forward to hearing a variety of opinions and viewpoints. This is critical to making the most informed decisions.

 

Surprisingly, from time to time I run into corporate marketers and managers who don’t welcome objectivity. These are people who don’t value their agency’s background or base of experience. They know what they want to do and be damned with what anyone else may think or say. More often than not, these are the people who fail. They fail as leaders, administrators, and team members. They are not good marketers. They are not good team leaders.

 

Agencies also fail, in my estimation, when they don’t have the strength of commitment to stand up for what they know is right. They have no guts. They are more concerned about making money than providing the one key service their clients need most … an honest point of view.

 

Honesty isn’t always an easy pill to deliver – especially by agencies that live hand to mouth; nor is it easy for the client whose business may be tanking to accept. That said, it is the only thing that really matters for both. I continue to be amazed by the people in business today who just don’t get it! They are often the same people who don’t think chemistry matters.

 

─ Bill

Content is King

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Content is king! But what does that mean? Let’s start by defining content marketing. According to Forbes, content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. While this sounds like a technical thing, all it really means is that brands need to focus on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content. The idea is to attract and retain your audience. Ultimately, your goal is to drive a profitable customer action. This action is usually to make the “cash registers ring.”

Why is content marketing important?

 

We live in a digital age. Information is so easily accessible via technology that people often use the Internet to find answers and solutions to their problems. This is one of the main reasons why businesses market online and why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become such a huge buzz-phrase in business. It’s important for your business to be the source of recent, relevant, and credible information, so that you are viewed as credible.

 

So to make a long answer short, content marketing is important because it helps people find you online.

 

How do I get started?

 

Getting started takes a bit of planning. You can’t just jump right into things.

 

  1. Determine your target audience. Deciding who you want to reach will inevitably help you decide how to reach them.
  2. Figure out the platform you want to use to push out your content. Is it your website, your blog, or even Facebook? Each platform is different and content needs to be tailored to each. Master one platform before employing the next. Quality over quantity is important.
  3. Decide on your end goal. Is it to increase traffic, drive sales, or help your SEO? It’s important to know your goals before coming up with content.
  4. Create a content calendar. Develop a working editorial calendar in which you can plan and track your content, and after it’s published, record results. This will help you tell a story with your content and also see what is working and what isn’t working.
  5. Optimize and learn. Make sure to report back on results of past content. Engagement is an important metric with content marketing, so try to optimize the plan towards that goal.

 

Hope this helps you have a better idea of content marketing and are ready to put your knowledge to good use!

 

─ Jacky

“Ti-i-i-ime is on my side. Yes, it is. Ti-i-i-ime is on my side. Yes, it is!”

Time-on-My-Side

At least these lyrics from Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones seem to be the thought of an increasing number of people these days … both professionally and personally. On the personal side, if a casual gathering or dinner party invite states that the party starts at 7 p.m., guests typically show up sometime around 7:30 or later. This seems a bit silly to me. If you want to go to a party and you are looking forward to seeing the people who will be gathered at the party, then it would make sense to me to maximize the time together and actually arrive when the party is set to start. Still, more times than not, being “fashionably late” is the norm. This is nothing new.

 

What is new (or at least more recent in rearing its ugly head) is the increasingly frequent examples of being late in the workplace. Late to work, late to meetings, working late at the office, working late from home … generally it seems a growing number of working professionals operate in a constant state of “late.”

 

How has the concept of “fashionably late” infiltrated the workplace?

 

Some consider it a generational difference. Some blame mobile technology. Still others say it is simply a by-product of an overall shift in how work is done today where we all work harder for less money.

 

I have a different thought, and this may hit too close to home for some. It may even offend.

 

Being late on a regular basis is NOT okay. It is rude and demonstrates little concern or respect for who you are getting together with and the value of their time.

 

Don’t tell me you lead a “busy life.” Who doesn’t? In today’s world most everyone’s life is busy, and, as such, being busy cannot be used as an excuse. Adapt! The reality is that the latecomers have a lack of respect for others and they feel their time is more important than everyone who is forced to wait for their grand entrance.

 

If you are going to an 11 a.m. meeting that is 30 minutes away on a good day and you leave your office at 10:35 a.m., you are going to be at least five minutes late. In reality, by the time you actually get to your car, drive to the meeting, get out of your car and into the meeting room, say any pleasantries (or apologies for your tardiness) and are set to actually meet, the group will likely be 10 to 15 minutes late in starting. Or, if they started without you, they will need to waste additional time bringing you up to speed.

 

Beyond being inconsiderate to those in the room, think about the wasted productivity for the company. If there are 10 people in the meeting, your thoughtlessness costs each person time. For simple math let’s say it was 10 minutes. That’s 100 collective minutes wasted. Nearly two full hours of lost productivity wasted by you! How should that time get billed? What should I put on my time sheet? Should I bill you for it?

 

A now classic and legendary trait of the late great University of North Carolina basketball coach, Dean Smith, was extreme punctuality. Here’s a quote that I embrace from his book, The Carolina Way:

 

“Our former players still talk about how serious we were about this. Players knew I used to arrive early for meetings and practices, and I expected everyone to be there and ready to go. Tardiness is the height of arrogance. In effect, you’re saying, ‘My time is more important that yours.’ Being on time is being considerate of others. We disciplined our players for being late. This went back to our philosophy of not having many rules but enforcing the ones we had. Being on time was one of them.”

 

Now, in fairness, there are indeed times when people are going to be late. Even with all of the best intentions in the world, things do happen that prevent punctuality. Yet these occurrences should be the exception and not the rule.

 

My advice. Don’t be rude and inconsiderate. Take a page from Coach Smith’s playbook and plan accordingly. If a meeting is scheduled to start at 11 a.m., be sure you plan your morning in a way that allows you to be in your seat at 10:45 a.m. That way, if something goes awry, you still have a 15-minute window to ensure that you are indeed on time. You can call me old fashioned, you may think I’m putting too much into this, and I’m happy to debate this at another time. For now, I need to submit this blog entry. It’s due at 2 p.m. and I don’t want it to be late!

 

─ Drew

HOW DO WE CONTINUE TO STAY IN BUSINESS AFTER 30 YEARS?

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Often people ask how we’ve managed to stay in business for more than 30 years. The first answer is, “Well, it hasn’t been easy.”

 

We’ve had the same challenges as other businesses over the years – recessions, gaining/losing/keeping accounts, keeping ideas fresh and exciting, staying on course, day-to-day business routine, horrific 911 and its repercussion, and, of course, staffing.

 

My husband started the business in 1985, set on competing with all NYC and LA agencies of similar intent. He set ours up as he wished those large agencies had worked with him when he was the head of PR in major U.S. family-owned and operated corporations. The intent was to work hands-on, be easily accessible, demonstrate mutual respect, all the while being kind, resourceful, creative, and mutually successful.

 

We’ve managed to stay ahead of the curve and find that to be fun and exciting. We often suggest ideas and get wide eyes and stares in return. Then, in three to five years those very same ideas pop up everywhere and all of a sudden are the latest and greatest. We already had those tactics in place with clients. That’s our job.

 

I have to say that staffing has been a challenge. It’s hard to keep people motivated, excited, and at the top of their game. There are a lot of outside challenges today with two-parent-working families, not enough hours in the day, satisfying individual wants and needs, and staying on track in the midst of constant interruptions.

 

Yet solid staffing is also an opportunity. Over the years we learned to seize the opportunity to find the very best people who fit in with our business philosophy. Our staff takes pride in having careers, not just jobs. They strive to stay on top of the news and latest trends. They work together and are extremely creative. They have respect for one another and their workplace. They enjoy being on the DeeterUSA team. And that makes each work day the best for everyone!

 

─ Linda

What About Hiring Artists?

Early in my career, one of my corporate mentors took me aside and told me, “If you hire an artist to paint your picture, don’t tell them how to paint it.” That piece of advice has hung with me for more than 40 years now, and from time to time I use it with co-workers and clients.

 

For the most part, the feedback I get is very positive. People will tell me it is sage advice and that it makes a lot of sense. Some will qualify their reaction by adding to the statement things like, “But do hold them accountable” or “Be sure you are very clear about your objectives.” And believe it or not, I understand and appreciate all of that and probably agree with 95 percent of the add-on suggestions.

 

What is very interesting, though, is that from time to time I will hear from some people who surprise me with how they are “offended” by such a statement or admit they “just don’t get it.”

 

In nearly every case, as time rolls along, those same people are the ones who I find changing game rules, repurposing objectives, and micromanaging the work at hand. They do this almost instinctively, with little concern for what has been accomplished or the outcome to be realized. Maybe they just can’t help themselves and don’t want to be reminded of what poor managers and leaders they really are. When a leader has confidence in himself/herself and the team members chosen, it’s best to let them “play the game” to the best of their ability. Have confidence. Have faith. Offer encouragement and don’t throw up barriers.

 

I stand by the statement. To be successful, surround yourself with good people, understand their strengths, assign appropriate tasks, and then get the hell out of the way and let them make you proud of what you collectively accomplish … with reasonable direction.

 

─ Bill

Job Hunting: Why the Extra Mile Matters

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Unlike older generations, millennials have a very visible and extensive social media history, documenting everything from their earliest musical recital to their college graduation. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer a glimpse into the lives of your friends and family, and allow potential employers to catch a glimpse of who you are and what you value outside the confines of your resume and cover letter. Accustomed to a very public world, younger generations, including recent college graduates who are searching for jobs, often forget to censor what they post on their profiles.

 

When Lee Hecht Harrison, a talent development consulting firm, asked hundreds of job seekers how active they are on social networking sites, 48 percent of respondents claimed that they are very active on a daily basis. What’s more important is who is looking at them. Careerbuilder.com conducted a survey and found that close to 40 percent of employers say they use social media networks to screen potential job candidates, and 34 percent of those respondents admitted that they have found content on a candidate’s profile that cost them the position.[i]

 

“There’s a lot of stuff out there that can either hurt you or help you depending on how on top of it you are,” Sarah Downey, a privacy analyst at Abine, told Fox Business. [ii] Making sure you have the basics down like  steering clear of typos and foul language, posting photos that present you in a positive light, and making sure the information you share is coherent and applicable to your industry, is important. Yet, it’s not just all about having the bases covered.

 

Potential employers aren’t only screening social media profiles to dig up dirt; they’re also using it to see how you use social media to network and engage with others. Honing your storytelling skills on social media, showing your sense of humor, and demonstrating an entrepreneurial spirit can make a big difference.

 

Job hunters are beginning to go beyond the typical resume and catching potential employers’ attention through video, whether it is via Snapchat, Twitter, or video cover letters.[iii] With a little creativity, landing that dream job could be as simple as picking up your smart phone and posting the right things.

 

─ Lydia

 

[i] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/04/16/how-social-media-can-help-or-hurt-your-job-search/. Accessed on June 29, 2015

[ii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/06/03/what-your-social-media-reputation-says-to-employers/. Accessed on June 29, 2015

[iii] http://miami.cbslocal.com/2015/07/06/social-media-could-help-job-seekers-land-a-gig/

 

Managing Client Expectations

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There is no textbook I know of that tells marketers how to manage client expectations. My experience has been that it is a mix of art and science, the percentages of which are actually calculated over time, based on nothing more than “real life” experiences.

 

I spent nearly 20 years working in corporate America for some of the country’s best corporations and with some of industry’s leading marketing and communications people. What I learned from that and the next 30 years of running my own marketing communications business, is that no two clients are exactly alike. Therefore, to think you can come up with an off-the-shelf solution for managing expectations is foolhardy at best.

 

What I can tell you with some sense of confidence is that most clients I have worked with, internal or external, appreciated a good listener. That simple skill seems to open the door for sharing of information, opinions, and ideas.

 

Another important thing I have discovered with age is that the more senior the people are that you work with in an organization, the more normal they are as well. Politics and game playing is a middle management phenomena or curse. The senior people I know have little time for fighting and backstabbing.

 

The third and final point I’ll share in this post is that the best way to manage client expectations is not to tell them why or how something cannot be done. As a supplier, it is your job/our job/my job to find ways to make things, the right things, happen as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

 

It is really pretty simple when you stop and think about it. Clients expect value for money. It is up to us to deliver.

 

─ Bill

Ten Tips for Approaching a New Writing Project

writing-tipsWhether it’s naming an internal sales training program, crafting a brochure, or drafting a scientific paper, it can be daunting to tackle a new writing project, be it large or small. Here are a few tips for getting started and making the job more manageable:

 

  1. Get in the right mindset. Writing is not easy. Period. Don’t expect the right words in precisely the right order to flow effortlessly like ticker tape from your fingertips. Good writing takes time, hard work, and rewriting. The fact that writing is hard does not mean something is wrong – quite the opposite. Recognize this, and you’ll feel better already.

 

I find great comfort and wisdom in the following excerpt from a recent Facebook comment posted by the brilliant, prolific columnist and novelist Anna Quindlen: “When I speak to students the first thing I tell them is how hard I find writing. I’m afraid that in the U.S. we have bought into some false notion of natural talent; translated that means if you’re good at something, it must mean that it is easy for you. Therefore students who find writing arduous conclude that they are not writers,” says Quindlen. “I don’t know any first-rate writers who don’t feel as though it’s pushing a rock uphill. So tell your students that when they are pushing hard, they are in very good company.”

 

  1. Study up. Find out as much as you can about your subject in proportion to the scope of the task at hand. If you’re writing a piece to meet a business need for a client, read anything relevant to your topic from advertisements and packaging to press releases, websites, and competitors’ materials. Find out who can provide more details about the subject and related communication challenges, and talk to them. Ask questions until you get the needed background materials and answers, particularly about objectives the client would like to accomplish.

 

  1. Plan and outline your content. No, it doesn’t have to be a formal outline, complete with Roman numerals (although for something like a peer-reviewed journal article this level of detailed planning helps!). At least jot down the main bullet points you want to include and think through a logical flow for the story you’re telling. This thinking creates a roadmap to follow in writing your rough draft and ensures you won’t miss anything. Of course, you can adjust direction if needed as your writing progresses (see step eight).

 

  1. Create a template for your writing project. Setup a new working document in the needed format, e.g., Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Add inworking headlines, section headers, and possible subheads as placeholders to outline sections. Apply needed styles for font selection and sizes. Drop in any existing boilerplate paragraphs, relevant approved copy from other pieces, quotes or notes to give you a starting point. Whether you’re writing a press release, website copy, a sales training manual, or video script, this will give you an instant sense of accomplishment and a great start – almost painlessly! And, having this template makes it much easier to do step five.

 

  1. Use the salami solution. In other words, take the entire writing job — the whole salami — and break it into more appetizing, less overwhelming bite-sized slices. The document template you created in step four will be a great help in tackling your project in palatable sections or even paragraphs. Pick an easy slice to start. As you fill in initial copy for each section, you’ll start to feel a sense of progress and most likely have an appetite for moving ahead to the next section.

 

  1. Avoid self-editing while composing the first draft. Let the ideas flow freely. You are creating! Stopping to fix grammar and typos while you’re drafting is counterproductive. Let your ideas and main points pour out without worrying about the perfect wording yet (that’s for the editing stages later). Feel free to jump around as you’re filling in your document template with initial copy – you don’t have to write in a linear format from beginning to end. In fact, it’s often better to come back and do the headline and lead last. After you’ve written the rest of the piece, you’ll have a better idea of the main points to highlight up front. Have some fun and be willing to write that bad first draft – it’s the pathway proven by the world’s great writers for getting to better second and third drafts and finally to a terrific draft somewhere down the line. Step seven explains more about how to do this.

 

  1. Avoid mixing up writing, editing, and proofreading steps. Do one thing at a time.Most business writing projects start with learning about the topic, moving into planning what information you’ll present and how, then writing a first draft. After you have an initial draft, then put on your persnickety editor’s cape. Build in as much of a break as possible between composing and editing. It will be a much faster and more effective process than if you try to self-edit immediately after completing a draft. When you are ready to edit, break this into steps, too. Read it to yourself, either out loud or silently to listen to how it sounds and flows. Edit for accuracy. Edit for grammar. Ask yourself if you can remove words, sentences, or even paragraphs without diminishing the effects of the piece? Edit to breathe more life into your copy – are there livelier verbs you can use, can you replace passive voice with zippier active, do you repeat words or information? Eventually, when you have a final or near-final draft, then proofread. If you proofread a draft in process, you’ll end up doing it again after you add, delete, or move words around.

 

  1. If needed, bounce your approach or a section of work-in-progress off your co-workers. If you start to feel like you’re flailing around and not making progress, it could either mean you’re so close to the project that a quick check-step with a colleague will verify you’re on the right track or help you select the right lead from a couple you’re playing around with. Or it may mean that an adjustment is needed. Maybe you’re finding that the research really doesn’t support the main premise or you need to rethink the vehicle used (sometimes it happens). It’s not always obvious until you’re underway that the information you’re presenting may be more effective in a different format. Maybe it’s too thick or thin to fit in the current format.

 

  1. Just keep going. Or, as Nemo’s friend Dory, the little blue tang fish, says so eloquently in the movie Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming.” I recall a few years back facing a particularly daunting website project that seemed to continuously grow faster than the piles of laundry created by my three children. I remember reaching out to my editor looking for a lifeline. She said simply, “You’re doing great. Just keep going.” Sometimes it’s just that simple. Product by endless product page, I kept going. Eventually, yes, I reached the end of the list before another product was added. The process will work. When you’re pretty sick of it, you can probably almost touch the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel (yes, the one that’s really not another train coming!).
  1. Oh, and read. A lot. Everything from billboards to Entrepreneur and People magazine to The Grapes of Wrath to mystery novels can inspire ideas. You’ll pick up techniques and word sensitivity while relaxing. Read different things. Read samples of whatever you’re trying to write, even from different industries – you’ll spark new ideas and figure out what works well and what doesn’t. Whenever I get too busy to read, it’s a red flag to me that something nonessential needs to go. And it’s not reading. As an added bonus, I’m much happier when I have a book in process selected by me, for me, just for fun. Plus it helps with work, too – gotta like that!

 

No need to take my word for it. As novelist Stephen King wrote in his book titled On Writing:      A Memoir of the Craft, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

 

─ Ada

Product Launches

product launchMy best guess is that I have personally been involved with more than 40 product and service launches over my career. Of that number, I can count on one hand the launches that fell short of expectation. By contrast, I can also tell you that I can count on two hands the number of launches that exceeded expectation. The remaining 25 or so launches were generally considered successful by most, yet did not quite meet my expectations. That begs the question, “Why?”

 

Looking back, aside from some definite variables that exist with each launch, there are some inalienable factors that are consistent with success.

 

My list of key success factors includes:

 

  1. A well-researched product or service need and offering. There is nothing to be gained by launching a product or service that no one wants.
  2. The people closest to that product or service have to believe in it. There can be no doubters. Products and services need “champions” to advance them. If there is no champion, there is minimal success.
  3. Every product and service launch comes with some degree of risk. The question you must ask yourself and all others involved is how willing are you all to take well-reasoned, calculated risks. If your tolerance for risk is low, then expect your reward to match it.
  4. Being willing to invest time, talent, and treasure is critical to payback. That is not to suggest that throwing money at a launch is necessarily going to assure success. By the same token, there is only so much you can do if you don’t have the needed resources to compete. The issue here is one of setting realistic expectations. This is not always easy if the people you are working with (or for) lack objectivity and real world experience. Those people are seldom happy.
  5. Patience to let your strategy kick in and your plans pay out is a must. Today more than any other time in history, we want instant gratification and success. It goes with being a high tech society. Unfortunately, like a good wine, good launches take time to happen. Rushing either is a big mistake.

I hope these insights are helpful. They have been proven to my satisfaction over time. Overall, I’m reasonably happy with our success rate and even happier with the great people we have on our team.

 

─ Bill

Adopting Sales into Your Job

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While not everyone may consider themselves to be, each one of us is, on some level, a salesperson. Think about it – when you apply for a job, you are selling your skills, interests, and capabilities to a potential employer; when you write a proposal, you are selling an idea to a client. Salespeople may sometimes get a bad rap, yet we have to remember that they are the people driving revenue. You may have the greatest idea in recorded history, and you need to sell it to someone to meet with success. Whether you’re a newbie to sales or have years under your belt, it never hurts to revisit the basics.

 

  1. Know your product/service inside and out. This may seem obvious, yet you’d be surprised by those who don’t. Pull your team together and brainstorm a laundry list of questions customers could ask. Then answer them. Do you know your product as well as you think you do? Good. Then trust yourself and others will believe in you, too.

 

  1. Have a plan before you begin selling. Lay out the full structure for a script, whether you’re in person or on the phone. Leave some room for improvisation, as this script will evolve as you interact with and learn from customers.

 

  1. Set measurable, identifiable, obtainable, and specific goals. Know where you are starting and where you are going. The people paying you don’t want vague explanations or promises. They want results.

 

  1. Work harder AND smarter. This is two-fold. Once you do the hard leg-work, let your customer relationship management system work for you. You have to make the calls and build the relationships, and when you include all relevant notes in the system, you’ll be setting yourself up to look good. For example, when you take note that Karen’s a serious dog lover, she’ll appreciate when you ask about Clifford on your next call.

 

  1. Learn from your audience. Listen hard to what your current and potential customers have to say, then learn from it. After all, they’re the ones that already use or would be using your product/service and they can offer a fresh perspective. In the words of Epictetus, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Don’t assume you know everything.

 

  1. Always be genuine. Don’t try to sell binoculars to a blind man. Sell the right products to the right people – that way, everyone will win. You can sell what you believe in.

 

  1. Attitude is everything. Not everyone will respond well to your pitch. Maybe you caught them on a bad day. Could be that they aren’t really in your target audience. Keep everything in perspective, because, whatever happens, one interaction won’t make or break you. Keep your chin up and move on to the next prospect. You’ll feel great when you make the sale.

 

What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

 

–          Danielle

CHARLESTON, SC — SPEAK UP

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Okay – so this week we had another senseless shooting. In a church, no less, by a 21-year-old screwed up kid whose father gave him the gun. A kid who posted hateful messages on Facebook and no one did anything about it. Didn’t want to get involved. Didn’t care enough to speak up.

 

What is wrong with our culture? Are we so involved with ourselves that we can’t look out for the other guy? Are we so caught up in our own lives that we can’t be aware of what’s happening all around us?

 

If there ever was a “grassroots” problem, this is it. Starts in the home, with our own families. Do we have to fear speaking up and out about things that trouble us? Can we sometimes work through “difficult” discussions and work together?

 

Move on to church and work. Is it all surface-y? Always say hello and how are you, but not actually knowing how the other person is. Can we genuinely care about others and be concerned about them AND do something we are very capable of to help people and make a difference in their lives?

 

Step it up to our communities, schools, state, and nation. Can we work together? Can we share our gifts and make the most of the opportunities we are given? Here we are in one of the most prosperous places in the world. Can we appreciate all we have been given and use these gifts for the good of all?  I believe the possibilities are truly endless.

 

What a pity. What a mess. What a disaster — waiting to happen AND happening all around us. We need to set aside our personal agenda and try our best to see things from both our side and the other person’s side. Find some compassion. It’s not all black and white. It doesn’t have to be one way or another. It can be mutually beneficial where everyone wins, and benefits, and grows, and smiles together.

 

Can we try to care about others as much as we care about ourselves, or do we need to continue to scratch and climb and hate and fear? Let’s look deep within our souls and decide how we can each make our world the best place possible.

 

─ Linda

 

“Very Pinteresting”

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Image-centric and search-friendly, Pinterest has bewitched the women of the world. Pinterest is an image sharing cite where users can upload, save, and manage images, also referred to as “pins.” It is essentially a discovery tool that allows users to save ideas or projects that interest them. You can plan your entire wedding, get lost in DIY projects, and obsess over drool-worthy food pictures for hours on end, pinning away until your fingers ache. Pinterest makes its users feel productive, organized, and energized simply from repeatedly sharing images of home décor, fun summertime crafts, puppies, or makeup tutorials.

 

Pinterest is not just the perfect place for women; it’s also the perfect place for business. According to Jennifer Gilhool, founder and CEO of Pink Streak Inc., women control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending.[i]  Given the facts that 80 percent of Pinterest users are women and women also make about 85 percent of purchasing decisions, Pinterest is the perfect place for any business generally geared toward that audience to grab a hold of consumers.[ii]

 

A brand’s success on Pinterest goes beyond a company sharing their own products with their followers. It’s a space where brands can also promote their personalities and values by repinning images posted by other users that add to their character. For example, the Greek yogurt gurus at Chobani have mastered the art of pinning. With more than 118,000 followers, Chobani’s Pinterest content ranges from Mother Teresa quotes to healthy, portable breakfast ideas to best at-home abs exercises, allowing the company to connect with their followers by painting a larger picture of their brand.

 

Unlike Instagram or Twitter, Pinterest users share content rather than like or comment on posts. Users search for images they can relate to or be inspired by, and then save products that they would love to own. Pinterest is a space for visual stimulation. Growth Devil, an agency dedicated to helping start-up companies succeed, suggests on their blog that Pinterest has a 50 percent higher conversation rate than any site that connects consumers with products, making it an ideal place for businesses to advertise.

 

In just a few steps, any company can set up a business account with Pinterest. This tool is designed to help companies using Pinterest for business purposes by providing them with information about their followers’ interests. It also gives companies the ability to measure their social media traffic on other platforms, like Twitter and Facebook. It’s all about seeing and being seen.

 

Four tips for businesses using Pinterest:

 

  1. Make sure your profile information is complete
  2. Keep your pins inspiring
  3. Engage with commentators
  4.  Include links back to your business’s website

─ Lydia

 

References

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2013/08/26/the-power-of-just-one-woman/. Accessed on May 23, 2015

[1] http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/17668.aspx.  Accessed on May 27, 2015

 

 

Feeling Clueless About Event Planning?

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“Well it’s like when I had this garden party for my father’s birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. ’cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin’. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier.” – Cher Horowitz, Clueless

 

Event planning and staging can be tricky. Things won’t always go your way, yet being as organized as possible is a great help!

 

For clients’ events we rely on a detailed plan of how we anticipate the day going and what it will take to succeed. The plan breaks down all tactics needed to implement, along with cost. We are completely clear about the budget and manage accordingly.

 

Successful events are not based on just the event itself. What is done pre- and-post-event can make or break the impact of each happening. Make sure events are heavily publicized beforehand with calendar listings, press releases, and media alerts. Draw as much attention to the event as possible to ensure a great turnout. Be sure to take pictures starting with set-up and ending with tear-down. Once the event is wrapped up, merchandise the success of the event while it’s still fresh in your mind. Be sure to release a photo caption to the media within a couple of days while the “news value” is at its highest. The photo caption enables all those who were unable to attend to see just how great it went. It also recaps the event’s success for your client!

 

There is only so much planning that can be done before any event. When the day comes, remember to remain calm and go with the flow. Anticipate and prepare to meet every challenge that may arise and hopefully, by the end of the day, you’ll be saying the more the merrier!

 

– Rachel

How Social Media Has Changed The News

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For many, keeping up with the news is an activity that occurs throughout the day and across different formats, devices, and technologies. With 71% of the U.S. online population on Facebook,* it is not surprising that more and more people are moving towards getting their news and information via social media outlets. Many find breaking news unfolding while on these platforms instead of directly from the news sites.  It was through Twitter that I found out that Princess Charlotte had been born and I saw on Facebook the first images of the devastation the earthquake brought to Nepal.

 

This shift has changed the way people consume media and also how they engage with it. By sharing news stories, social media users are opening up the line of discussion and involvement into the news. Expressing your opinion on a story has traditionally not been something that you could have done, especially to a potentially vast audience.

 

This increased level of engagement is quick, yet not always accurate. Media outlets are in such a rush to post the leading stories, that they don’t always have all the facts. Take the current riots and violence in Baltimore … you can’t get away from the constant social media news posts being made about it. Pictures are cluttering my Facebook feed of injuries, fires, and looting, but the details seem vague and they change depending on which source you are referencing.

 

There is no question that with the increase in social media usage, media intake is becoming more social. Media outlets not only need to push out their material online, but via social media as well. We can only imagine that as the digital landscape grows, so will the reach of a story!

 

− Jacky

 

*http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/

The Cost of Author Alterations

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A few days ago, I shared my thoughts on why I believe companies would be wise to treat their suppliers as business partners and not enemies. As I was wrapping up that blog, another one popped into my head that carries the question of the company/supplier relationship to the next level. From time to time, we find ourselves at DeeterUSA caught between clients and suppliers on the issue of author alterations. This issue is not one we struggle with on a personal level since we are selling our time for creative services and have some flexibility about what we do and don’t charge for. With out-of-pockets, however,  it is a different story and we often find ourselves as mediators settling disputes over how many edits, adjustments, or changes in a project are whose responsibility and ultimately, who needs to pay.

My rule of thumb is that every creative project is going to require one or two rounds of edits and those edits need to be factored into the supplier’s cost estimate. That said, I believe that any client who has more than the agreed-to rounds of edits needs to step up and pay for what I would consider their lack of organization and production savvy.

I am not taking sides on this issue except to say that we all share the responsibility of author alterations and that to avoid hard feelings, it is best to get who is responsible for what ironed out in the project proposal stage and not when the final bill comes in for payment.  I have found that is the best way to manage the client who is “just too busy” to pay attention and that supplier who is always the lowest bidder because he or she is constantly adding on to their bill those things their competition has planned for and included in their estimate from the beginning. Is that bait and switch? Not really! Just poor estimating and even poorer project management.

−        Bill

#ImNoAngel

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Victoria’s Secret ran an ad campaign last year promoting “The Perfect Body,” that featured predominantly white and extremely thin models. The backlash was almost immediate, as people felt this continued to promote unrealistic body images. To the contrary, Lane Bryant’s new campaign has received an overwhelmingly positive response due to their use of “real” models with a variety of demographic backgrounds and sizes.

 

Lane Bryant’s new lingerie advertising campaign is drawing a ton of great attention. The campaign features the hashtag #ImNoAngel, a blatant blow at Victoria’s Secret models, who are referred to as “Angels.” The new campaign has generated more than 7,000 Twitter mentions alone, which is no small feat! While there is minimal copy in the ads, Lane Bryant has undeniably been able to get their message across and stir some buzz with a lot of media attention. Bravo Lane Bryant!

 

−        Jacky

We’re All in This Together

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I don’t understand it when people in companies treat their suppliers like second-class citizens. Why do they think they need to do that? Don’t these people realize that those suppliers are providing needed goods and services and how those suppliers are treated may very well determine how they treat the company people (clients) in return?

 

I have always felt that those people who are providing goods and services to my company and me are really my business partners, maybe even my friends, and, as such, need to be treated with the respect they deserve. That is the same respect I would want and expect from any or all of them.

 

Come on folks, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand this. God created us as equals and if you think you are something special, there is a very good chance you are the only one who feels that way. There is also a good chance that if you are stuck on yourself, there are some people, even suppliers, who are going to delight in letting you know that you are no more special than they are. And I have to tell you that they, not you, are absolutely right.

 

Pick people more talented than you as your suppliers, treat them like you would treat a good friend, and enjoy the success that follows. It is really pretty simple.

 

− Bill

Let the Children Play!

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We watch the news every evening. It’s our business. We have more televisions in our home than we should, and it seems one is always on.

 

Last evening it was announced on the six o’clock news that a 13-year-old boy in our region shot himself in the head on the edge of his parents’ 13-acre property last Wednesday after receiving notification of having homework missing from a teacher at his Main Line prep school. He had been reported missing and hundreds of people had volunteered to search for him. He had left his cell phone and glasses behind. They found his body Sunday and when announcing this intimated that suicide could not be ruled out.

 

Earlier on the same broadcast reporters had told us about a police officer being shot in the line of duty and a father shooting two girls’ mother right in front of them.

 

My mind was racing. At first about guns and gun control. Then it jumped to people and irresponsibility for having guns at all. Then it came to all the people who had been affected by these incidents and how rotten our news is today. One bad thing after another.

 

The story about the teenager made me gasp and tears came to my eyes. Where are the days of innocence and fun? What happened to playing with friends and laughing and being silly? How and why did we begin to pressure kids to learn things earlier and grow up so fast? What makes grades so important? For what? For whom? And why?

 

If my heart is aching and I didn’t even know the boy, I can’t imagine what horror his family is going through. The teacher who sent the message must truly be regretting pushing the send key. His friends will be forever changed. The only good thing I can think of that could happen as a result of this horrific situation is that we all learn from this tragedy. Somehow we must improve communication, be willing to step up and speak out, and try to better protect children so they can be exactly that … children!

 

 −  Linda

2015 Dress In Blue Day

Our client, The Endoscopy Center at St. Mary (ECSM) kicked off National Colon Cancer Awareness month in conjunction with the Colon Cancer Alliance’s “Dress in Blue Day” on Friday, March 6. We staged the “Knockout Colon Cancer Carnival,” which took place in the St. Mary Medical Center cafeteria.

 

Patients, visitors, and colleagues enjoyed freshly popped popcorn, blue cotton candy, and blue water ice. In addition to the carnival treats, guests also enjoyed classic carnival games, including Whack-A-Mole and ring toss. Spokesperson former MLB World Series pitcher Tommy Greene signed autographs and alerted guests about the importance of screenings. ECSM distributed collateral materials including colon cancer awareness brochures from the CDC, ECSM brochures, and much more.

 

Donations for this Colon Cancer Alliance event totaled to $1,057.75. Of that total, $1,000 was donated by members of the Delaware Valley Road Runners Car Club.

 

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Blogging

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The social media guru on our staff insists that everyone write blogs. She says that will get our website viewers up and boost our company’s recognition. At first I thought I was too busy doing “real” work. Then another staff member said what I write would be helpful to others and I should do it. So I’ve made a pledge to be a better team player and give it a whirl for three months.

 

In thinking about it, I feel the blogs should have meaning. Not surface fluff that people don’t have time for today. We’re all way too busy and over-taxed just trying to get what we need to do accomplished and keeping our priorities in line. Time matters and we choose what is important to us. I can think of many people who blog, and, to be honest, I don’t read them. Mostly because I don’t really feel they have much to say that would be of interest to me.

 

That’s just like who I friend and who I don’t friend on Facebook. Who really cares what you had for dinner? Why does it matter if you burned 30,000 calories on the treadmill in just 24 hours? That said, I do love to see and hear what my friends’ children are doing, about ways we can all work together and offer help to others, be informed of situations and opportunities we are eager to know more about, and travel around the world just like Flat Stanley when my friends go on amazing expeditions! That’s on of the nice things about social media … we have lots of choices.

 

My blogs are going to follow topics and areas of concern to me. I’ll try to stay in my area of expertise, however I know that at times I’ll write about current events that I feel we should speak up about. People who know me know I’m about working together and putting the good of the whole above individual interests. Most likely that stance will creep into some of my writing too. Will any one read my blogs? We’ll see. Perhaps writing will be a good catharsis and a way for me to slow down a bit. Watch for my blogs every week.

 

−  Linda

A PR Miss for Brian Williams

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By now we have all heard how NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended for six months after he apologized for “misremembering” a military incident while reporting overseas several years ago. The reason it upsets viewers so much is that we expect news anchors to be credible and provide the facts, not stretch the truth. We don’t know if Williams’ career will bounce back from this blunder, yet we do know that there were several PR misses that could have helped him reestablish his credibility.

 

Timing is really important and why it took Williams and NBC so long to comment on this story is a question mark and mistake. After “the incident” the Internet went crazy and no one could escape the story, yet it still took Williams more than four days to publicly respond on air. While Williams has a Twitter account, he has not used it to make mention of the “the incident” once. He could have used the power of social media to apologize to his fans in a timely, humanized, and personalized way. Instead he chose to go on air, which for many came off cold and forced.

 

Marvin Williams states that ‎”There is no better test of a man’s integrity than his behavior when he is wrong.”  Brian Williams did not own his mistakes and made excuses of “misremembering” the events in Iraq. No one is perfect and there is a charm in knowing celebrities have flaws. Williams missed out on a great opportunity to admit his mistake and imperfections and now the Internet will not let him forget. #BrianWilliamsMisremembers is trending all over social media and Internet, as viewers are getting a big laugh at his expense and questioning his personal “news” coverage.

 

In the end many celebs bounce back from WAY worse scandals, yet the lesson is to try look as down to earth as possible while going down. Brian Williams failed this time around.

 

Jacky

Jerry Maguire or Bill Deeter?

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I was flipping channels the other day and I stumbled across a favorite movie of mine, “Jerry Maguire.” I was lucky and landed on the channel right at the start of the movie as Tom Cruise’s portrayal of the title character was narrating the set-up of the whole storyline. Cruise says: “I couldn’t escape one simple thought: I hated myself. No, no, no, here’s what it was: I hated my place in the world. I had so much to say and no one to listen. And then it happened.

 

It was the oddest, most unexpected thing. I began writing what they call a mission statement. Not a memo, a mission statement. You know, a suggestion for the future of our company.”

 

Cruise’s character, a hot shot sports agent for a big agency was feeling troubled after realizing that he was fixated on huge dollar contracts for his clients, his company, and ultimately himself. Through this, he had lost touch with “the simple pleasures of (his) job.” He no longer appreciated “the way a stadium sounds when one of (his) players performs well on the field.”

 

Through this catharsis, he understood that “with so many clients, (he and his colleagues) had forgotten what was important.”

 

That’s when Maguire stays up through the night to write the mission statement. In the film, Cruise continues the narration:

 

“I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and I’m not even a writer. I was remembering even the words of the original sports agent, my mentor, the late great Dickie Fox who said: ‘The key to this business is personal relationships.’

 

Suddenly, it was all pretty clear. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. More attention. Caring for them, caring for ourselves and the games, too. Just starting our lives, really.”

 

As I watched this opening scene, which I’ve seen literally a dozen times, I had my own break through. There is a Jerry Maguire-like character walking the floors at DeeterUSA … my father, Bill Deeter.

 

2015 marks our firm’s 30th year, and during the 15 years I’ve been on the team I’ve heard my dad on numerous occasions talk with prospective clients, existing clients, suppliers, new hires, and just about anyone else who will listen about why and how he started the firm. Some of the founding principles of DeeterUSA?

 

  • No more than 10 active accounts at any one time (Jerry Maguire’s “fewer clients”)
  • Everybody works on every account (Maguire’s “more attention”)
  • We work hard at DeeterUSA, yet try to keep our time in the office reasonable (Maguire’s “Caring for ourselves”)

 

All in all, these may seem like a simple ideas, yet when you package it up and tie a nice bow around these and several other principles my dad embraced to start DeeterUSA, there is a unique philosophy at our firm that has proven successful for our team and our clients for three full decades.

 

-Drew

Is All Press Good Press?

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You may be familiar with an old marketing expression “there is no such thing as bad press.” This is especially true if no one has ever heard of you, right? Alan Sorensen, an economics professor at Stanford, looked at book reviews featured in The New York Times and determined that even when reviews were negative, previously unknown authors saw a one-third bump in sales. While big brands can be impacted negatively by bad press, smaller unknowns tend to get a nice little boost.

 

Take the show Shark Tank. It doesn’t take getting a deal on the show to make it big. Shark Tank experts say that, in many cases, the value of getting airtime on the show outweighs the benefits of taking a deal with one of the Sharks.  This is true even if the Sharks don’t like the product.

 

While a short-lived boost in sales may seem like a good repercussion to bad press, we live in the digital world, where things live on forever. Years after a company has corrected the situation, the bad news  can still pops up on the search engines and continue to tarnish a company’s reputation.

 

Although Brendan Behan said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary,” the best strategy is to get good press for doing good things and for having a unique story to tell.

 

−Jacky

Integrating Instagram into your PR Strategy

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Instagram is an online mobile service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of social networking platforms.  According to research published by the GlobalWebIndex, Instagram is the fastest growing social media site worldwide.

 

Although some brand managers wonder how the photo-sharing app can help build their brands, many businesses across industries are finding marketing success on Instagram. Brands can use Instagram to build brand awareness, reinforce customer relationships, and create associations.

 

Before jumping straight into the platform, here are a few tips to up your Instragram game.

 

  1. Create unique content that other users will want to engage.
  2. Keep your text short and let the photo do most of the talking.
  3. Post daily to keep your brand top of mind and relevant.
  4. Use hashtags to reach new people who may be searching a hashtag related to your brand.
  5. Leverage your fans’ content. The ability to source high quality user generated content (UGC) from the Instagram community is one of the major benefits.
  6. Lastly, connect with other Instagrammers to network your brand.

 

−Jacky

 

#DeeterUSA

Peace Valley Park

peace valley

 

Just a short drive north of Doylestown you will find Peace Valley Park, part of the Bucks County Park System. This pastoral park, with tranquil Lake Galena as its centerpiece, encompasses 1500 acres of picnicking, hiking, cycling, jogging, boating, fishing, and relaxing opportunities. At the north end of the park is a Nature Preserve where you may spot a blue heron or another exotic species of bird. Ride your bike on miles of paved trails, or perhaps rent a canoe to paddle the calm waters. Sit in a secluded spot and fish or wander a trail where you have only the wildlife to observe. All this is located in the rolling hills and farmland of New Britain Township, a quick ten-minute ride from the DeeterUSA office.

Behind The Hashtag

Behind the HashtagYou may have heard that businesses are using branded hashtags within their advertising and social media campaigns. You see them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and even Facebook. But what exactly does that mean? More importantly, what is a hashtag?

 

Let’s start at the beginning. What is a hashtag?

Simply put, a hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the hash character, #.  A hashtag allows the grouping of similarly tagged posts, and also allows a search to return all messages that contain it. Hashtags make it easier for people to find and follow discussions about brands, events, and promotions.

 

Why are brands using hashtags?

It is a great way to introduce your brand to people and get involved in the conversation. Hashtags can amplify a brand’s reach, build a community of followers, improve SEO, and help build content.

 

How do brands develop a hashtag?

Come up with a unique hashtag that fits with your particular brand or campaign. Use your hashtag wherever possible: press releases, blog posts, social media posts, on your website, and at events. Get moving and introduce the hashtag into your marketing strategy!

 

−Jacky

 

#DeeterUSA

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

holiday blog post picture

 

‘Tis the season to be jolly – and that means retailers decking their aisles and online storefronts with Christmas-related offerings to appease shoppers filled with holiday cheer. It may not seem like rocket science, yet an amazing amount of research has been conducted to validate that Americans are, by and large, a melting pot of sale-happy consumers who feed on the rush of scoring a great deal. I mean, who can refuse a $99 32” flat-screen TV with Wi-Fi built in?

 

Many companies bank on (pun intended) the Christmas season to “make” their year. And, as a way to hedge those bets, corporate America continues to push for new ways to expand the season.

 

One can go to almost any big box store post Labor Day and find colorful lights, holiday home décor, and Santa lawn inflatables mixed right in with the back-to-school closeouts and Halloween costumes. This is certainly not a new phenomenon, yet in 2014 the commercialization of Christmas seems to have climbed to unprecedented levels. Forget about Black Friday being held solely on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year it didn’t even start on “Turkey Day.” It’s now “Black Friday week” and runs a full seven to 10 days for some retailers. The only reason Black Friday specials end is to make room for “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” This year I even saw a few “Green Tuesday” sales for those who missed any of the previously offered discounts.

 

Consumers are conditioned to believe these are the best times to buy and that prices cannot get any lower until, ultimately, they do during the “12 Days ‘Til Christmas” holiday countdown sales.

 

But what about the “true meaning of Christmas?”

 

My wife and I are volunteer elementary aged Sunday school teachers. Among other things, the current curriculum suggests that we ask the children why we give gifts on Christmas. We’ve now posed this question to kids of varying ages during the last four weeks. I’ve been surprised by the answers, and not because we’ve heard anything crazy. On the contrary, it’s because the children seem to get it. We’ve heard responses such as “to let the people we love know we care,” or “to remind us of the gifts of the wise men,” or “because giving to others makes us feel good,” or “so we can help others.”

 

I’m reminded of Linus in the closing scene of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – and urge others as they dive into the various holiday sales and race down the aisles to get their hands on a “doorbuster” deal – remember WHY they’re fighting the crowds.

 

Finally, for those who think they’re late to the game in getting the best deals around, fear not. Inevitably, there will be the post-Christmas sales … New Year’s sales … followed by sales for President’s Day, the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, the start of spring, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day … and by then, it will be time for the Christmas sales again!

 

-Drew

Internal and External Communications

ripples

We at DeeterUSA have always subscribed to a “core out” management philosophy. It is like dropping a pebble in a pond. When you do that, you create rings. We see each of those rings as an important “target audience” we need to reach. The closer to the center, the smaller the ring, and as you move outward, the rings get bigger and bigger.

 

So for us, our employees are the closest to our center. They need to be communicated with first and most frequently if we hope that they both receive and understand our messages – whether they are rules and regulations or theories and philosophies. For us at DeeterUSA we see employees as family members and ambassadors. They can only do their best if we provide good direction and counsel.

 

And so it goes. From employees we move to suppliers and business partners. From those two groups, we move to other groups with customers and potential customers, as well as the general public somewhere on our continuum.

 

Interestingly, the way we counsel our clients on marketing their goods and services mirrors our pebble in the pond model. The challenge is to prioritize each target audience and enlist them as ambassadors who can help you reach and impact the next target on the list.

 

The bottom line is that both internal and external communications are keys to success in any marketplace today. That said, we have found that working from your core is the fastest, most economical way to meet and/or exceed your business objectives. The best cheerleaders your company has are standing all around you.

 

−Bill

#DeeterUSA

How PR has Changed

blog post

As an industry, public relations is constantly evolving. Since the birth of social media, traditional media outlets such as television, radio, newspapers have seen a decline in readership. It’s important to be able to reach your audience in their daily activity, which means incorporating digital PR into your strategy. Digital PR brings brands online and creates a valuable relationship with your target by integrating traditional PR with content marketing, social media, and search.

 

What does Digital PR exactly add to traditional PR?

 

  1. Massive reach. Digital PR opens the PR industry up to a much wider audience, as there are more than 254 million Internet users in the U.S. alone.
  2. Social media allows brands to broadcast information in real time. Get your message out as quickly as you can hit send.
  3. Enjoy a dialogue, not a monologue. Social media is about engaging users to provide feedback.
  4. Become an online newsroom. Journalists and bloggers have embraced digital PR with open arms. Your information essentially becomes an online repository that needs to be searchable and easy to navigate.

 

Digital PR should be used to complement traditional PR and should not be used alone. Each channel should have its own purpose and strategy. Be creative in how you tell your story and embrace the change!

 

−Jacky

Crisis Management

Crisis Mgt. Blog PhotoUnfortunately, crisis management is no longer a topic corporate managers can just talk about. It requires action. There are just too many things that can happen to corporations today for managers to sweep the idea of preparation under the rug. In fact, for all those who read this blog, I am going to tell you that it is not a question of if you’ll face a business crisis. The only question is when you will face a business crisis. Business crises come in all shapes and sizes. For planning purposes, we at DeeterUSA see them falling into three categories. They are “simple situations” that are easily managed and often do not require a lot of staff involvement. These seldom have lasting impact and costs are negligible. Then there are “issues.” Issues tend to require more thought and action and they can impact sales and profits if not managed effectively.

 

Finally, we look at an issue that escalates into a life and death situation as the “ultimate crisis.”

 

Nothing you do as a corporate manager is more important than protecting the lives of your employees, suppliers, and customers. Everything else that you deal with in managing a crisis is secondary to life itself.

 

No two crises are ever the same. There are no hard and fast rules for managing a crisis. Simple situations, issues, and crises all start with one or more problems to be managed. How you manage these problems will determine how long they last and how much they cost you.

 

If you are smart, you will form a crisis management team.  You will establish appropriate crisis guidelines.  And you will periodically run mock crises to be sure that when it counts most, you will be prepared.

 

– Bill

St. Mary Partners in Pink

partnerspinkOn Monday, November 17, after a day of work, members of St. Mary Medical Center, DeeterUSA, and the surrounding community joined in with Partners in Pink to raise funds for the breast center at St. Mary. There were raffles that included sports paraphernalia, movie tickets, even turkeys given away just in time for Thanksgiving! There was also live entertainment by Sycamore Tree-O featuring our very own Drew Deeter!  The Green Parrot donated a portion of drink and dinner checks for those who mentioned St.Mary or breast. The restaurant staff wore Susan G. Komen ties to show their support. Thank you Green Parrot for hosting the event and showing your great support!

−Lauren

Plan to Not Budget

pigbankinsides

 

 

Any client who starts a creative conversation with his or her agency by saying how much or how little funding they have to work with, is ddamn fool. Planning – really effective planning – needs to be driven by objectives and audience. It should not have any prerequisites or disclaimers included. Your marketing team should be free (early in the process) to give your needs and problems their best thinking, dollars notwithstanding. If you are lucky, you may find that cost will not be an issue. On the other hand, if it is an issue, there are things you can do collectively to minimize the pain. For example, look at extending your timeframe, consider what can be done both in and outside the company, and finally, look at all the tactics in the plan and which ones must be done versus which ones could be deferred – at least until you start to see a return on your investment.

 

-Bill

What About Creativity?!

lightbulbs

I have been in new business presentations where the senior person on the other side of the table has cleared his or her throat and asked if the people in our company are creative. That is a tough question to answer objectively. My best stab at it has been, and I suspect will continue to be, “I don’t know.” What I do know after 45+ years in marketing and communication is that I have worked with a lot of very bright people who, when you get them in a room with other very bright people, seem to develop some exciting, fun, powerful, and effective ideas that translate well into creative business executions. Repeatedly, I see where the group product always trumps what any individual can do. So while I cannot say I am creative, I can say I’ve been a part of or a contributor to many creative processes and it has been a whole lot of fun. More often than not, we have exceeded our objectives.

 

-Bill

Destination: Doylestown

 

 

 

 

fonthillinside

In 1745, while traveling on horseback from Philadelphia to Easton, you probably would have stopped at William Doyle’s tavern for a pint of ale and a hearty meal. Since it was almost a two-day journey, you might have spent the night. Today, at this very same spot, you can get grande latte with an extra shot. Yes, it’s a Starbucks, but still recognizable should Mr. Doyle stop by. Much has changed in the town that bears Doyle’s name. It’s now only 45 minutes to Easton and 90 minutes to New York via horsepower. In the center of Bucks County and serving as the county seat, Doylestown has attractions for all ages of visitor. Historic sites, interesting architecture, boutique shops, and a myriad of fine restaurants to satisfy every palate – Doylestown is a destination and a great place to live and work.

 

One of my favorite places is Fonthill.  Also known as Fonthill Castle, it was the home of the American archeologist, anthropologist, scholar, and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Built between 1908 and 1912 and employing his architectural designs, it is one of the first poured reinforced concrete structures in America, featuring 44 rooms, more than 200 windows, 18 fireplaces, and 10 bathrooms. The home was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It contains much built-in furniture and is embellished with decorative tiles that Mercer designed and made in the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works – another interesting concrete structure on the property. The castle is filled with an extensive collection of ceramics embedded in the concrete, as well as other artifacts from his world travels.

 

I had the unique opportunity to tour Fonthill with Mercer’s late longtime housekeeper, Laura Swain,before it became a historic site. His will granted her life-time rights to live in the castle until her death. Very few visitors, other than Mercer’s invited guests, received a tour such as mine. You are invited to visit DeeterUSA in Doylestown, and we’ll take the time to give you a tour of Fonthill!

 

– Shelby

 

 

fonthilloutside

Crisis Preparedness

 

 

 

Businessmen in rain

 

Let’s hope none of us ever has to face a corporate crisis. Unfortunately, chances are that most of us probably will at some point. Given that possibility, it is much better to be prepared than not. Step away from your day-to-day routine for a moment and objectively think about what could happen to your business and the people in it. Now list all the possibilities and ask yourself, “If any of these things happen, how are we going to manage?” My best guess is that it will start with forming a crisis management team, preparing some guidelines for that group to work with, and then actually staging a few mock crisis scenarios for your team to work through. No two crises are ever the same, yet taking time to consider and work with a lot of the possibilities puts you and your company way ahead of those who were convinced their company would never find itself in a crisis.

 

-Bill

 

Routine Or Not Routine

travelI’ve been traveling more with my job over the last three years. This is not a complaint. In fact, I love to travel. And, with the increased travel, I have become more savvy about HOW I travel, which has certainly helped me avoid transforming what has always been something I look forward to into a tedious chore. For me, what it all comes down to is finding balance. When does “routine” make sense, and when should it be avoided like the plague?

 

It’s been said that the worst part about travel is actually getting there. This can certainly be true, so this is where I employ routine. Driving to the airport I typically take the same route. I try to park in the same area, fly the same airline, rent my car from the same rental agency, and even stay in the same hotel in familiar destination cities. Doing these things helps. You’re building reward points, know how to easily find the rental car drop off spot, and know you’re staying in comfort. After a while, you start to meet people and if you treat them right, they’ll do the same for you. It’s nice knowing that the guy making your omelette at the hotel breakfast buffet is going to put a little extra care into preparing your eggs!

 

Generally, I try to use routine to help make the mundane parts of the travel experience a little easier to digest, and that’s where it stops. There is one more tip on the routine side that I’ll save until the end, yet the rest of my spare time when I need to make decisions on what to do, I try like heck to get out and experience the city where I am. Here are a handful of tips that have worked for me in keeping the excitement of travel alive:

 

• Visit trip advisor, Yelp, or other travel sites and do some research before you leave your house. Find out what the city is known for, identify the top tourist attractions and things to do in town, or find the restaurants that suit your taste buds. Then make a list of what looks to be the best to you.

 

• Ask the people you’re going to meet what THEY recommend and see how that jives with your research. Ask the people who work at your hotel for their thoughts, too. Nothing beats local knowledge, so use these thoughts to help hone your list.

 

• Don’t be shy about including pop culture on your list. On a recent trip to San Diego, my co-workers and I made a much needed stop at the home they used for MTV’s “Real World San Diego” show and it was a highlight of the trip.

 

• If you love music, download the “Bands in Town” app or check the marquee at some of the local hot spots and consider an evening of good live music. On my first trip to San Antonio, I made a point of driving up into the Texas Hill Country to visit Luckenbach, Texas. It was a pilgrimage of sorts, based on years of being absorbed by the music of Jerry Jeff Walker as well as Waylon, Willie, and the boys.

 

• Do what you need to do for work first (that IS why you’re in the town you’re in) … but then get out and go tackle your list!

 

• Try not to go to the same restaurants over and over … unless it is out of this world good … and try to avoid restaurants that you can go to “back home.” I’ve probably spent 30 nights in San Antonio over the past three years and have probably eaten at 25 different dinner spots, and I’ll keep looking for 25 more … and not one could I go to back in Pennsylvania.

 

Last, but certainly not least, the final tip I offer on the “routine” side is to call home first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. In addition to my loving and supportive wife, I’ve got two beautiful children at home who are currently six and two. Hearing them each morning brightens my day and kicks things off right. Likewise, wishing them a good night helps me rest more easily in my comfy yet lonely king-sized hotel bed. Only two more nights until I get to see them all again.

 

-Drew

 

My wait time is how long??

hold

Just got off the phone with an airline. Who doesn’t hate being put on hold and perhaps getting a message that your wait time is 17 minutes? We’re all busy, so this doesn’t make for a positive start to the day, unless you use that time to nap or meditate (and I don’t think my boss would appreciate either one of those options).

 

I am happy to report that I work in an office where all calls during the business day are answered by a real person in real time. Callers seem to appreciate that – I know I would!

 

–Shelby

The Importance of Planning – Don’t Be Thing Driven

thing

Over the years, the DeeterUSA team has worked with clients to make some very snappy brochures. We know how to create an advertisement … print, radio, television … check, check, check. We provide solid and effective recommendations on where to run said ads to maximize impact and minimize expense. Our events staging capabilities are first rate, as are our social media, website development, and graphic identity skills.

 

Facing a crisis, we can help. Got a big interview scheduled on “World News Now?” We can work with you to develop your key messages and offer media training tips to help you feel more comfortable in the interview situation.

 

I make these claims not to pound the collective DeeterUSA chest, nor in an effort to drum up more social media work. To the contrary. In fact, the point should be made here and now that we don’t see ourselves as “web guys” or “press release writers” (no offense to web guys and press release writers).

 

To us, on their own these are all THINGS. No question that when used together in an effective and comprehensive marketing and communications plan they are very important things, yet they are things. And if I could offer one piece of advice to anyone who finds themselves talking to themselves about their business saying “we need a brochure,” it would be DON’T BE THING DRIVEN.

 

At DeeterUSA we view ourselves as analytical thinkers and creative problem solvers. We work with our clients to provide a fresh perspective and help develop a collective vision for where the client ultimately wants to take their business.

 

We are information gatherers. We are question askers. And perhaps most importantly, we are listeners. It has often been said that we think of our clients as a tube of toothpaste, yet instead of toothpaste they are filled with knowledge and we try to squeeze as much of this knowledge out of the tube as we can to help develop a very clear understanding of our clients’ wants, needs, and motivations.

 

We then use the information we gather to develop a comprehensive marketing and communications plan that contains our best recommendations to help move our clients’ business from where they are to where they want to be. The plan is made up of very specific and well-thought-out tactics – often a combination of all of the kinds of THINGS listed above and more.

 

NOW, with all contained here being understood, please know that if you give us a call asking for our help in creating a brochure, we aren’t going to hang up the phone or chastise you for coming to us requesting a dreaded THING. We welcome your call and get excited about new and fresh opportunities. That said, don’t be surprised if the conversation shifts from one purely about a brochure to one that digs in a little deeper about what you are really hoping to accomplish. You may start feeling like that informational tube of toothpaste, yet we think you’ll find that this type of conversation is helpful and it will pay tremendous dividends as you move from being THING driven to being more analytical and strategic in how you go to market.