Before you go public…

While doing my usual web scan of Facebook, Twitter, current events and music sites I came across a really well developed blog via Ragan. It’s called Occam’s RazR, and blogger Ike Pigott suggested in yesterday’s post that “Communicators need to remember that it’s not what you meant to say, but what was heard that matters.”

He was referring to the image above, explaining that when he drove past this billboard on an Alabama highway he thought it said “Aerosmith.” Every time he sees the sign he thinks about the band rather than an anti-meth campaign.

I was interested to find other examples of failed visual communication attempts, and in doing so I thought about four key points to keep in mind before your final product goes public.

1. Design:

  • See the above example. There is nothing more discouraging than putting months of work into a visual concept that people don’t get, especially when you thought it was your best idea to date. I’ve been taught to run a “test drive” of anything that is going to go public, including survey questions, logos, and Facebook tactics. Find out what people think before it’s too late, make improvements, and test drive again.

2. Grammar: Don’t let these be your fault. Enough said.

3. Environment

  • This is simple. And obvious. But mistakes happen! Once an advertisement or piece of collateral material is released from your control, many other factors can affect its impact and meaning. This means that you are in charge of monitoring the visual’s environment to make sure there aren’t any fatal changes or additions. Like this:

4. Location

Similar to the environment, the location of the visual is equally as threatening. The good news is that you have control of where you put the product. If the location has a threatening environment, don’t put it there. You don’t want your ad showing up next to a news story that is as off-putting as it is comedic to your audience, like this:

Advertisements

Facebook Insights. Like this.

Part of my job as marketing director at KWVA is to manage and increase the effectiveness of our social media, which are currently limited to Facebook and Twitter. (Although I hope to have a blog up and running soon.)

It has become more of a hobby than a task for me to check our weekly Facebook Insights and see what kind of responses or interactions we have garnered. That’s why I’m thrilled that Facebook continues to develop and improve Insights, as I read in this  socialmediatoday post titled “The 5 new features on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn PR pros need to understand.”

Here’s why: The Insights provide me and my department with a platform for development by illuminating areas that need improvement and numerically rewarding us for strong posts and increased interactions.

Beating the numbers week by week has become a game for me, so this week when I noticed our post quality drop from 4 to 3 stars, I started doing my research.

Luckily, I stumbled upon this post, which highlights the most beneficial of the Insights metrics. Post quality is not one of them, but demographics is. Interestingly enough, female KWVA fans are increasingly more interactive with the page than males. See?

Thanks to Facebook Insights I’m aware of our apparent outreach sexism and am able to do something about. Goal: next week’s insights display increased male interaction.

PROpenMic video: Being an art director.

As promised, here is the video I created about being an art director for our J452 site takeover of PROpenMic. Everyday we will be posting new material, so stay caught up!

Resumes. Portfolios. Business Casual?

I just finished reading this all-too-familiar post about what NOT to do if you want to get a job. It’s called 13 Ways Your Resume Can Say “I’m Unprofessional.” This particular topic is impressively over discussed, but it seems that people still aren’t getting it. I would add “don’t lie on your resume” to any list of advice. Here’s why:

Resume. A Noun meaning a brief account of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications, often submitted with an employment application.

I don’t want to offend anybody by asking this, but if you have taken the time to sit down and create a document that demonstrates your professionalism, how could you not edit it? How could you use an embarrassing or offending e-mail address as your primary method of contact?

Though these mistakes seem like obvious ways to get your foot out the door, I also understand that sometimes you don’t know how to do something right until somebody tells you. My resume may not be the pick-of-the-pile, but I’m confident that it lacks obtrusive faults. I’m not sure I can say the same about my portfolio.

Knowing that many other aspiring PR professionals share my portfolio anxiety, I wanted to go over a few tips I’ve picked up recently. Check out this post when you have some time too.

This weekend I had two extremely beneficial mock interviews with CFM and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide through the UO Journalism School’s Portland Paddle event. They advised that I include links and buttons to my social media pages on my resume, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and this blog, but definitely not Facebook.

Additionally, I plan on making an online portfolio that enhances my print portfolio by offering a more interactive look at what I’ve done and focusing on my more “techy” skills. It’s important that we are able to demonstrate our ability to use social media, produce electronic PR products, and understand their potential in the industry.

Somebody, correct me if I’m wrong, but there is no formula for success when creating your hard copy portfolio. The best advice I’ve received is that it should reflect you, your skills, and your professional aspirations in one coherent story. Keep these three factors balanced so that your interviewer doesn’t feel like they are looking at a personal scrap book. Your professional aspirations should be highlighted by the work you’ve done and the personality you’ve put into it.

I hope that helps somebody feel more confident than I did going into my interviews last weekend. Anybody want to break down “business casual” for me?

We’re taking over PROpenMic.

This week in Kelli Matthews’ J452: Strategic Communications class we are taking over PROpenMic! My assignment for this project is to create video content that portrays the role of an art director in an organization.

I interviewed art directors Todd Cooper of the Eugene Weekly and Dan Pimental of Celeste-Daniels Advertising and Design. The video content, which will be posted here and to PROpenMic on Wednesday, focuses on Todd’s role at the Weekly. The following post will be featured along side the video, focusing on Dan’s work with Celeste-Daniels.  Here’s an early look!

________________________________________________________________

Being the Art Director

Dan Pimental:

Celeste-Daniels Advertising and Design, Art Director

Eugene, Oregon

“A true art director is just a manager who decides what art goes where, and then instructs a team to get it produced. You also need a massive amount of creative skills because you are often the main person coming up with layouts and ideas for the look of a piece.”

Being an art director, much like being anything else, requires the right skill set, tools, and knowledge, all of which are derived from having had the right background.

Web design for IFR West, a flight training company, by Dan Pimental.

Though Dan received professional training at San Francisco’s Graphic Arts Institute, he described his background saying, “I am self-taught. I learned the trade through a combination of working in various positions, trade schools, and study on my own.”

Since 1979 he has been diversifying his background with work in newspaper, magazine, and as a free lance writer/photographer, but let’s remember tip #1 from today’s video: Be Creative! Dan’s creative skills are in both film and digital photography and he has a master level knowledge of Photoshop.

He says these skills are the most vital, but also emphasizes the importance of knowing “Dreamweaver for Web work, Illustrator for vector art designs (logos), Final Cut Pro to edit videos, Peak to edit audio, and, of course, NeoOffice for writing.”

Dan created this newspaper display ad for Fresno Grand Opera's Andrea Bocelli concert. (Job perk: He got to meat Bocelli!)

Dan’s varied background matches his diverse role at Celeste-Daniels, where, he explains, “The position of ‘Art Director’ is only one of maybe ten jobs I do.” No skill is more important than another, Dan says, as “It would be impossible to lead Celeste Daniels without all of these skills.”

When wearing the Art Director mask his role is to manage  account representatives who are responsible for knowing what the client wants. Then Dan and the account rep meet and select the appropriate art for the piece.

Draft one is created when Dan meets with a graphic designer (sometimes himself), to gather the written content and images. Dan says the benefit of being the designer is,  “I eliminate lots of time with meetings, so the process moves quickly.”

His work also entails collaboration with consultants, web developers, and social media experts in order to produce the necessary materials for ad campaigns, including printed collateral material, Websites, multimedia, video, trade show displays, radio or TV ads, and billboards.

Web design for the Eugene Ballet Company by Dan Pimental.

Working with many different people to produce a coherent product can often be difficult, so we must remember tip #2: Have the right team! Dan explained, “The team knows their trade well, and once I tell them what we need, they go to work and almost always hit their mark. Getting the material from the client and learning their wishes and intentions is the hardest part of the process.”

It’s also important to have a great team because it is ultimately the art director’s job to manage it. Dan said if “you select a good team, managing is easy.” He treats his team with respect, leaves out the “phony BS”, and they know he is sincere.

But wait a second! Time out! hold the phone! This is PR Open Mic, not Ad Open Mic! What does all of this great advice mean to aspiring PR art/creative directors?Let’s find out.

Dan says that, “Advertising is a multi-faceted trade…As an agency, we find out what the client wants to say, and who they want to say it to. From that basic info, we craft a campaign that delivers that specific message to a specific buying group.”

That doesn’t sound much different than target audiences, key messages, and PR campaigns. So, is there that big of a difference between Advertising and PR? That’s a discussion for another post.

A special thanks to Dan Pimental for his time and participation. Thank you!

My Dream Job: Food PR.

You can probably tell my from blog roll that I am really passionate about food.  I love reading about, preparing, looking at, discussing, and, of course, eating food.

Two years ago I tried to convince my parents that I should drop out of college and attend culinary school in San Francisco. They wisely advised me to stay in school.

Reluctantly, I followed their advice, but I’m still dedicated to incorporating this basic necessity into my future plans. So, how do I combine my passion with my PR education? I need to get hired at the MacKenzie Agency.

This California based communications agency “does one thing really well,” and it’s my favorite thing. They are choosy about their clients,  considerate of their reputation, and focused on results. If there is one thing that matters in PR (and everything else), it’s results.

And are they getting them? You decide. They’ve garnered media attention for their clients in such significant industry publications as Food & Wine, Sunset, and Bon Appetit, and the attention of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune.

Another stellar firm and dream employer of mine is Hunter Public Relations, a firm based out of New York, New York that represents many fields but focuses on the food, nutrition, and spirits industries. Why would I want to work for them? Because they are expert PR professionals who get to be creative and have fun.

My favorite example of their work is the “Bailey’s Shiver Truck.” Hunter PR’s goal was to get target audiences drinking Bailey’s® Irish Cream during the summertime, as it is usually thought of during the winter months and holiday season. The Hunter team created a summertime beverage, the Baileys Shiver Cocktail, and the Baileys Shiver Truck. On hot July nights in St. Louis or New York you could text “SHIVER” to 69866 and the truck would deliver ice to your party!

Hunter PR: Baileys Shiver Truck

Through my research I’ve found that if you want to do PR in the culinary industry, you don’t necessarily have to go to a big firm like Hunter or Mackenzie. This article that I found at The Nibble exemplifies the fact that restaurants and small businesses are really beginning to turn to PR as a way to expand their visibility. A public relations student like myself, or possibly like you, can approach small businesses as individual contractors and provide affordable services and fresh ideas.

“Emulating can be good, imitating is usually bad (and uninteresting).”

So says Amber Naslund in her blog post “9 Ways to Breath Life Into Your Blog.” Her tip is to “Minimize the Me Too Posts,” because if it doesn’t provide a new perspective it isn’t worth posting.

The tip really got me thinking about the way communication has evolved, specifically social media. The video below helps describe what I’m thinking. Check it out.

The residents of Scooptown realized that it’s okay to like the same flavor of ice cream as your neighbor, but it’s better to have the option of making your own. You never have to take advantage of such options and, realistically, many people won’t. Lots of people don’t understand Twitter, use Facebook,  keep a blog, or even read a blog. But many people do. Those people are ice cream makers.

Social media gives us the opportunity to build ideas through communicative collaboration. When Amber says we should “Minimize the Me Too post,” she is absolutely right. We have the capability to innovate, create, elaborate on or refute ideas with the tap of our fingers, making the flavors limitless.

At this point I must heed another of Amber’s tips, “Be Okay with Incomplete Thoughts.” There isn’t any specific point to be made by this post, but I wanted to acknowledge the incredible opportunity that social media provides. Anyone with access to the world wide web can have their voice heard. Social networking is universal, democratic, and inclusive, but the best part is that it’s unrestrictive.

That being said, there is no reason to say “me too,” because you can always say “me too,” “here’s why,” and “what’s more.”