By Ronda Williams Marketing & Administrative Coordinator’
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” -Plato
Here at (W)right On Communications we are encouraged to turn up our music and jam out as we work. When you enter our office you might hear Julie Wright “fist pumping” to some EDM as she finishes up a report or Grant Wright “deep in focus” with some smooth jazz while he draws up a proposal. Then there is Keely Smith singing to Adele or Chance Shay listening to his “brotha-from-another-mother,” the artist formerly known as Kanye West. No matter what time of the day, we’re all listening to music as we work.
One morning I was wondering if listening to music while you work increases your productivity, so I started to research and here is what I found:
It’s good for repetitive work!
“Various studies have indicated that, in general, people who listened to music while they worked on repetitive tasks performed faster and made fewer errors.”
Crew.com quoted neuroscientist and musician, Jamshed Bharucha, as saying:
“Creative domains, like music, allow humans to connect in a synchronized way, helping us develop a group identity and makes us more likely to work together – which was an immensely important advantage for keeping the human species alive.”
Not only will listening to music while you work put you in a better mood but it will increase team morale in the workplace.
Just remember that you are in control of your mood and stress levels at work. Tomorrow is a brand new day so try something new and listen to some music while you’re getting stuff done.
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We all love showing off our personalized pictures of food, travel, and fun experiences, especially during holidays. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, we’re betting you’ll be sharing some delicious eats with your sweetie or besties. To make sure your food selfie skills are perfectly polished, we’ve delved into our archives for today’s blog. Here are five pro tips from San Diego food photographer Sam Wells for producing mouth-watering and Instagram worthy photos for this Valentine’s Day xoxo.
In Hospitality Public Relations, we often rely on images to help tell our stories – a pristine white sand beach; a mojito in a mason jar; a field in bloom. With the rise of social media and the availability of high quality cameras on most smart phones, photography is often how our guests tell their vacation stories, particularly when it comes to food.
Despite having such ready access to cameras, however, most of us remain photographically challenged. A good camera phone isn’t enough to turn our latest gastronomic delight into the envy of all our friends: placement, lighting and composition are all important elements in the quest to capture delicious food memories. Sounds difficult, right? That’s when you turn to the pros.
I was recently fortunate to work with Sam Wells, a respected San Diego food photographer who shoots for publications like Carlsbad Magazine and San Diego Magazine. While I watched him work his photographic magic, it occurred to me that he must have a load of helpful hints for us “do-it-yourselfers.” Sam was more than happy to give his insights on what makes for great food photography. Follow his tips and you’ll be on your way to drool worthy food on Instagram in no time.
Food Photography Tips from Photographer Sam Wells
Tip 1: Light quality is everything.
I shoot most of my food in areas I call “transition zones” – where the light is transitioning from light to dark. Windows, open doors, and the outer edges of shaded areas all produce beautiful directional light. If there are any conflicting tungsten lights in the restaurant, try to block them to create clean light.
Tip 2: Create a strong composition.
Negative space can be a great asset to a photo. Using the “rule of thirds” always helps – just imagine there are two horizontal and vertical lines dividing up the frame into nine rectangles. Place the most interesting point of focus on any two lines or where the lines intersect, and you’ll instantly have a better-composed image. Add a few more details to fill the frame, and you’re off and running.
Tip 3: Steady your hand.
Motion blur can ruin a photo, so if you are hand-holding the camera make sure to take a few and be gentle when you push the shutter button. Make sure your camera or phone doesn’t move when you shoot the photo. I always use a tripod to ensure maximum sharpness.
Tip 4: Show some life and action.
Have a hand reaching for something. Take a bite. Make it messy. Do anything that makes the food look delicious and enticing.
Tip 5: Styling can make any dish interesting.
I always use linens and napkins to help spice things up a bit. Adding other elements allows you to create a more interesting composition by leading the eye through the image. Think of image flow – a fork placed in the lower right hand corner pointed towards the dish will lead the viewer’s eye towards the focal point.
Keep this handy for your next dining adventure and you’ll definitely have some Insta worthy food photos. Need more photo inspiration? Follow the latest in Sam’s food reel on Instagram at @swellsphoto.
By Chance Shay─ Director B2B and Infrastructure Development
“Why aren’t sales through the roof? We’re the best in our industry.”
If I had a dollar for every executive that’s thought this to his or herself (or said it out loud), I’d be able to retire. They eventually come to the conclusion that it’s simply because the people who should be buying their product or service just haven’t heard about them. To a great degree, they’re right. The obvious solution to this, of course, is to tell these people about their brand and everything the company does.
That’s where they’re wrong.
The solution to attracting, closing and retaining new customers isn’t to tell people about the product or service, it’s to show that the product or service solves their problem better, faster, cheaper and with less headache than anything else out there. This is even more important for B2B brands, whose customers are naturally more discerning. In fact, 60 percent of all companies choose B2B vendors after actively trying to solve a problem and researching solutions. For B2B brands, this means the more difficult question becomes: how do we show our customers that we’re the best solution for them?
Because there are so many factors to account for- the industry, competitors, market conditions, decision makers, etc.- there is no short answer to this. Truth is that audiences are more fragmented than ever. So to help decide where to stack your chips, here are five marketing pitfalls to ditch and five fresh techniques B2B brands should incorporate into their PR and marketing strategy.
Don’t: Focus exclusively on content marketing
One dimensional marketing hasn’t been effective since salesmen walked door to door in the 60s. Don’t get me wrong, content marketing is a great way to increase the odds of your brand being discovered by those actively looking for a solution like yours. A brand just can’t put all its eggs in one basket.
Do: Utilize a comprehensive and diversified communications strategy
Ever heard of the PESO Model? It’s an acronym that represents the four types of communication channels: Paid (channels you have to pay for), Earned (like media), Shared (essentially social platforms) and Owned (channels a brand controls). It’s a model that works well for B2B brands because it provides an easy to follow framework. Content marketing falls under the Owned channel, meaning that a brand only doing content marketing is missing 75% of the communication opportunity. Even as a true PR evangelist I will tell you that it’s unrealistic to think that earned media is all you need to reach your growth goals. Competing for attention is harder than ever because of where stakeholders get information (and thus how they’re influenced) is fragmented. B2B brands need to strategically integrate all of their communication channels in order to holistically cultivate prospects and beat the competition.
Don’t: Get press coverage and let that be that.
That’s like qualifying for the New York City marathon but then not running another day before the race. Landing coverage in an outlet with a readership of 250,000 does not mean a quarter million people saw your article. It means there was an opportunity that 250,000 readers could read about your post. Don’t let the value from all the hard work that went into identifying, securing and coordinating the piece end once it’s published.
Do: Promote your press
This is where having an integrated communication plan kicks in. Anybody in sales will tell you that they make contact with prospective customers at different cycles of the sales cycle. Make their job easier by showcasing press that both differentiates and helps (soon to be) leads evaluate your product. Showcase your press on social channels, your blog, newsletters and trade show materials. You can even include it in your email signature and in presentations by (including screen shots of headlines and any awesome comments the article received).
Don’t: Only write white papers to show thought leadership
White papers and articles for peer reviewed journals require a lot of effort, but they’re great tools to showcase how talented a team a brand has. However, often times the paper is read by other smart people working in a similar fashion as the writer, not the target audience. Luckily, there are new ways to demonstrate to potential customers that a brand has a team of experts.
Do: Be a conversation starter
While white papers are great at providing information, conversations help develop relationships, build trust and can be information. If you know your audience, you know what they’re interested in, where they get information and what strikes a chord in them. Show that you know this by heading to a forum (likely LinkedIn groups) and start a conversation around topics relevant to your audience. Write a headline you think will make your audience’s eyes bulge. Pose a provocative question or offer an opinion that is against the grain. Choose a topic you know the audience will want to opine about. Remember, the goal is to first get them talking and then you can jump in with expert input. Don’t be promotional or salesy. React to and opine, not promote and push. I feel like this goes without saying but you can visit any LinkedIn group and see a number of smart people breaking this cardinal rule.
Don’t: Wait to be invited to speak
Every brand and person operates within their own bubble. Things that are a big deal in one bubble aren’t even noticeable in others. Some brands make the mistake of thinking they (or their leaders) are such a big deal that phones will be ringing with requests to present and speak. Even if a brand does get invites to share thoughts at certain events, they could be missing out on an opportunity to parlay that into additional exposure.
Do: Be your own biggest cheerleader
Sometimes doing great work is enough to get noticed, but often times you have to be like Ron Burgundy and tell people to come look at how good looking you are. Use great press coverage and presenting on past panels to secure new speaking opportunities. One idea is to use an article as the center piece of a pitch to present on a similar theme or trend. This shows that you are indeed an expert and gives you credibility. If you’ve been included as an expert on a certain topic or have a published by-lined article forecasting a trend that materialized, you’re a great pick to speak about that topic at a conference or trade-show. For people whose job is to select panelists and presenters, their goal is for attendees to say, “that presenter blew me away.” Help them help you.
Don’t: Think you have “an audience”
Even if you think you have a “target audience” you’re wrong. Truth is that for most brands (with the exception of the most narrowly niche companies out there) there are many segmented audiences that make up your collective stakeholders and customers. Brands must avoid the mistake of thinking the similarities between various customers is enough to consider them one group.
Do: Segment your audience
A very savvy PR expert named Ben Veal said, “The key to successful B2B PR is accurately identifying your audience and their drivers, and then developing tailored content that is specifically designed to engage and resonate. This content needs to be released at the right time, and in the right format, to ensure that the decision-makers you are targeting are reached and understand the message.” There are a number of ways to segment your audience- by title, industry, demographics, psychographics, geography, etc. What all these characteristics speak to is the difference in how they are influenced and make purchase decisions. For example, if your customers are retailers there could be young, hip retailers with one store in Brooklyn who love what they hear through Buzzfeed and their customers’ experience is the most important thing to them and then there could be retailers who have been in business for 40 years with franchises across the southwest U.S. that read industry magazines and are focused on keeping costs down. They’re both retailers, but what their pain points are and how you show them that your product is the best solution for that pain point can be drastically different.
Any way you slice it, there are more opportunities to communicate than there is budget to do so (I’m still searching for the unicorn that is the unlimited budget). Every brand will need to get a precise understanding of their customers and make smart decision on where to focus their efforts. The good news is that by knowing these five tips brands can be more effective executing their plan no matter what shape it takes.
I started out in PR before the Internet or email. It was the era of fax machines, the Yellow Pages and 400-page media directories that you combed through to research and build your media lists. There were few shortcuts on the way to mastering your PR skills, but in some ways, all of today’s technology and automation tools might actually be shortchanging entry-level PR people and getting in the way of developing PR fundamentals.
Back in the day, once you had your list built, you then had to call each reporter until they picked up the phone and then use your verbal skills to hold their attention more than eight seconds to pitch your story. Those calls helped you develop a thick skin, fast. That real-time feedback taught you which approaches worked or didn’t.
Unfortunately, in today’s email environment, you’ll never really know what they loved or hated about your pitch. (Unless you follow @smugjourno or @DearPR to monitor Tweets from journalists losing their s*** after being addressed with the wrong name for the 10th time in one day, sent another off-topic pitch, distastefully news-jacked or sent a 120 mb attachment.)
In the pre-email era, entry-level PR pros had to work the phones but that process made us better, faster.
We had another tool beside the phone. It was called the fax machine. Part of paying your dues was standing over one feeding it hard-copy press releases with your fingers crossed, hoping to hear the modem answer. (If you don’t know what a modem sounds like, it’s kinda like a DubStep drop.) That sound let you know that your brilliant press release was transmitting.
If you were sending a fax to a busy newsroom, you could often expect repeated busy signals and multiple attempts to get your press release through. Faxes could only be sent one at a time. You could punch in several fax numbers, but they’d be delivered sequentially and not simultaneously.
Think about that, for a moment.
You, literally—and I mean literally–experienced the sensation of your pitch colliding and competing for bandwidth with other pitches. The idea that your pitch was one of hundreds being sent to an outlet or reporter was not just a concept. It was something you actually heard and saw.
Anyhow, damn. Those days could be a real grind. Some labor-intensive, inglorious work. Like walking uphill both ways to and from school. But it was just what you had to do so you did it.
So, here’s my point: While the tools may have changed, I honestly do not think that the fundamentals have.
PR still requires an awful lot of legwork to do right and over the past quarter century, I have found that there is no substitute for that hard work—particularly as you are starting out. Generating a Twitter following, mastering Facebook’s algorithm, researching blogs for your thought leadership project—it’s a different grind, but to succeed you’ve got to do the work.
The practices I learned in the early 90s as an entry-level Gen Xer gave me sound fundamentals. It was a methodical process—detailed, diligent and it kept you close to your media contacts. You worked hard to find each contact and cultivate it. You knew the value of each contact and sent your pitches out into the world with each recipient in mind.
If I wanted to target my client for a radio interview, I had to listen to that radio show. If I wanted a trade or consumer magazine to feature my client’s project, I had to read the magazine. There was no website to consult or Google to search.
You had to be dialed into your media list, totally aware of who each contact was and why the hell they’d want to do a story on your news. I think this is one of those basics that has been lost in the race to automate our work, and it is the bane of the remaining working journalists who are inundated with off-topic email pitches. It’s also the bane of PR professionals who know that it takes time to do this job right but get pressure from clients who think PR is just distributing press releases to massive lists.
What Can You Do Today for Maximum Career Growth & Success?
What would happen to your pitching skills and PR instincts if you adopted these old school practices. What if you voraciously consumed the very same media you were expected to earn coverage in? What if you approached every single media contact on your media list like a wedding guest—knowing their background, your relationship to them, whether they’d want the ribeye or the vegetarian option and who they’d want to sit with?
I tell you what. You’d be successful. You’d be a rock star.
In today’s environment of cheap, plentiful and immediate information, taking pains to research and document each entry in your media list probably makes you feel like you’re doing it wrong.
Stifle that impulse. Take the time. If you have a passion for communications and telling great stories, then focus on your fundamentals. Do what might feel like drudgery. It’s called paying your dues. We all did it. If we wanted it, then we did it.
So if that’s you, don’t miss the opportunity to shine because it looks like hard work.
Put that extra care and attention into your work. Invest extra time in your day for attending a webinar to build your knowledge. Spend a little extra time every day reading up on your industry and talking to the more experienced people on your team about what you’re learning to get their take and advice.
And for god’s sake, show up. Network with journalists, other PR professionals, peers and business leaders. Volunteer on a committee so you can practice your leadership skills outside of the office to get more confident contributing during team and client meetings.
It may sound old-timey but work hard, pay your dues, take chances with your new knowledge and you will get noticed and rise quickly. I assure you, don’t be afraid to do these things for you will have one of the most exhilarating and rewarding careers imaginable.
Out with the old. In with the new! What stale PR and marketing tactics will you shed in 2017?
I’ve got a few on my naughty list this holiday season. They’re activities that perhaps at one time were strategic but now are automatic things PR and marketing professionals are doing without really thinking. Isn’t it time to leave these three things behind?
Your Press Releases No One Reads
It’s well past time to ditch the traditional press release.
If you want media coverage, then spend your energy and budget on developing your brand’s story and pitching it to a carefully cultivated list of media targets.
Just as advertising is the price you pay for being unremarkable, press releases are what you do when you don’t have a real PR strategy.
They’re a PR crutch and are often abused by people who think press releases are public relations.
In 2017, empower your agency or PR department to generate media coverage with creative ideas and storytelling. Focus on your communications goals and then determine if press releases are really going to help you achieve them. If not, get creative and strategic with the tactics that will actually impact your communications and business goals.
While they may not generate media coverage, you can be strategic in your use of press releases. Use them to raise online visibility for your brand or key content to spur discovery through keyword analysis and search engine-optimized content, and to share exceptional visual content such as great photos, videos and graphics.
Just don’t continue putting them out as a proxy for a real PR strategy.
Your Facebook Page that No One Sees
How much time does your team spend drafting and posting content to Facebook? Now how many likes or comments does that content get you? How much traffic to your website? How much brand engagement and equity is all this effort producing?
Be honest with yourself. Is it worth it? What would happen to your business if you dumped your Facebook page? Or your Twitter account, for that matter?
If you’re doing it right, hopefully the answer would be “quite a lot.” Website visits would fall, event attendance dip and top of mind awareness would suffer.
If you can’t answer that question satisfactorily, take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and ask yourself why? Do you know what impact you want this activity to have on your business?
Now flip things around and pretend that Facebook was your only channel for reaching your audience. How would you approach it differently? Would you do more research and target better? Would you dedicate more budget to advertising? Would you study what type of content performs best?
So develop a plan in 2017 to do social media right. Or stop doing it.
Set goals for your social media activity that will support the impact you want to see for your business and then produce the content, schedule, promotion and targeting that will reach them.
The Content You Spend More Time Marketing than Your Actual Product or Service
I get the concept behind content marketing. Provide people with helpful, well-packaged information that draws them in and predisposes them to like, trust and value your business so they’ll consider doing business with you.
Do this on a massive scale and you’ll have a lead generation machine, the theory goes. With every blog post or white paper, an email has been captured so that the prospect can be continuously marketed with more friendly, helpful emails, blog posts and white papers.
That said, it’s a shit-ton of work to do this right. And if you’re the prospect, you could now have five or 10 companies trying to move you through their content marketing funnel. Your email inbox will implode!
So how much of your marketing department’s time or agency budget do you want to spend generating and marketing helpful blog posts, infographics, videos, white papers and case studies, and how much do you want to spend actually marketing your product or service to your target buyers?
I may be out of fashion here, but content marketing has to have jumped the shark a few years ago.
“With over 90% of B2B marketers cranking out ‘content,’ prospective buyers are inundated with information.”
How many buyers will be saying to themselves in 2017, “Boy, if only I could find more content?” I’m skeptical. Content is important but it is not the end in and of itself. It’s the means to an end. So in 2017 stop slaving away at the content game and make sure it’s serving your needs and not vice versa.
What tactics will you be dumping in 2017? Let us know with a comment or tweet!
Industry trends are always a great place to mine for story ideas, especially when working with travel and hospitality clients. Some trends, like Pokemon Go! getaways, are short lived. Others, such as eco-travel, tend to define a whole generation and can change the nature of the industry forever. As the year draws to a close, we can’t resist looking ahead and seeing what’s in store for 2017. While none of us claim to have a crystal ball, here are a few trends (W)right On is keeping an eye on for the new year.
Smart Technology: Mobile technology will continue to play a significant role in making travel more convenient and streamlined. Smart companies are embracing the technology and enhancing the visitor experience by putting decision making in the palm of your hand. Expect activities such as checking in to your hotel, controlling the temperature of your room and booking activities all from your phone to become the new “normal.”
Digital Detox: While technology may be making travel more convenient, there’s also a backlash to the digital overload of daily life. The response? Innovative programs and services that allow travelers to get off the grid for a while. Wellness-focused offerings such as digital detox spa retreats, as well as activities like forest bathing, which encourage visitors to completely disconnect and revel in the natural world, will give travelers the peace and rejuvenation they seek.
Hipster Holidays: Thanks to the millennial generation, more travelers are choosing to explore lesser known cities and destinations. Along with the desire to go to unique places, this group also seeks authenticity and genuine, local experiences. While not a new trend for 2017, hyper-local activities and edgier, undiscovered venues will continue to appeal to this highly influential, independent traveler.
Beer-cations: Craft beer is having a moment. For the travel industry this has meant an increase in travelers who specifically seek out destinations with a strong craft beer vibe. Taprooms, beer events and other tasting experiences are the cornerstone of the beer-cation experience. However, look for the theme to show up in unexpected ways, too. On your next vacation, don’t be surprised if you are tempted by a beer-infused spa treatment or a “beer-tail” that features a unique blend of craft beer and traditional cocktail ingredients.
Solo Travel: At a recent media event, I was surprised when not one, but two female writers admitted that they enjoyed camping alone. It turns out that this may not be as surprising as it seems. According to Lonely Planet, a recent survey of 300 travelers indicated a majority of respondents planned to take a solo holiday in the coming year. Easy access to travel planning resources and the ability to stay connected while on the road are thought to be key influences in this current travel trend. Solo travelers like that they can set their own itinerary and feel that the experience enables them to more easily meet new people and immerse themselves in the local culture and surroundings.
What travel trends have you noticed that seem to be gaining in popularity? Drop us a note and let us know!