Building Coffee Connections: Corporate vs. Local Business

A white background with black words the say "Tender Loving

It’s hard to imagine getting through a busy weekday morning without a cup (or two) of freshly brewed coffee. Whether it’s made at home, a chain or your local cafe of choice, coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the U.S., generating $5.18 billion annually. While this industry is booming, it hasn’t always been so successful and good public relations and marketing have had a big hand in its popularity.

When I got a job as a barista at the coffee behemoth Starbucks four years ago to support myself through college, I never imagined the impact that coffee has had on both my personal and professional lives.

Tender Loving Coffee is now my client this semester. They are a small batch specialty coffee roasting company located and served locally in Chico. It has been a huge learning experience to be able to implement my own PR strategies into both of these companies.

Starbucks didn’t become a household name solely by serving up tasty coffee and friendly service. A whole lot of PR and marketing campaigns help them stay relevant. I’ve begun to pay much closer attention to the promotional materials we are sent, the company’s social media posts and how they handle crises. (Red cup situation anyone?)

I’ve seen how the corporation takes responsibility for its actions and addresses controversy when needed. They make sure to send messages out to the company’s employees or “partners” to address major changes or problems in the company.

Tender Loving Coffee is a more intimate experience, which makes the PR pretty fun. So far, there’s been a giveaway on the TLC social channels. Winners picked up their prizes at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market, where the company sells their coffee in a mobile coffee cart. Being so connected to TLC customers and the Chico community as a whole is a very different experience in comparison to Starbucks.

With the rise of social media, many Starbucks stores have begun to create their own social media presence through Instagram. This helps to create connections with customers and give a more intimate look and feel to your local Starbucks.

I am the closest thing my store has to an in-house PR professional. After establishing the account, I’ve helped create content on the downtown Chico Starbucks Instagram. More recently, I have been documenting the store’s remodel, upcoming specials and developing a more recognizable aesthetic.

While the idea is to connect more with other Starbucks partners and the Chico community, there is a noticeable difference in posting for Tender Loving and Starbucks — even if they are both small accounts.

That’s a no brainer though, right? A small coffee company with less than 300 followers on Instagram versus posting for Starbucks, the multi-billion dollar coffee giant.

Posting on social media for a small, local coffee company is a more interactive experience. The customers are wholeheartedly supportive of TLC. They send direct messages to check on and communicate with Anna, the brains behind the roasting.

I think the idea behind having stores run their own Instagram is to make that connection with their customers like Tender Loving Coffee already has. Through maintaining their social media, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t for that warm, welcoming feeling Tender Loving gives off effortlessly.

Making connections with PR and coffee is about engagement, having empathy and being a part of a community. Implementing these has already made the downtown Starbucks Instagram and Tender Loving Coffee more successful and gives the companies their own personable identities.

How to Be An Inclusive Writer

As an aspiring public relations professional, words are a big part of my job. From press releases to Instagram posts, my words matter and they affect a lot of people. That being said, here is a resource guide for being an inclusive writer:

Race: When we, as professionals, are writing for a diverse audience, we are first representing our clients, first and ourselves, second. We must take into account that our audiences are diverse and may not have experienced the world from our vantage point. We do not want to offend our readers, plus, we have our clients’ reputation on the line with every keyboard click. Research always needs to be done when writing about race. Here are four different resources in regards to writing about race. These resources provide you the opportunity to break out of your bubble and be a more conscientious and inclusive writer.

Gender and Sexuality: Gendered language haunts the English language. We use gendered language everyday. It is ingrained in us to say, “policeman or mailman.” Sometimes, it is hard to identify gender-neutral terms for words that we say everyday without a second thought. One way to work in gender neutral terms into your everyday language is by using the singular they/them pronouns. If you are addressing someone and don’t want to assume their pronouns, a good rule of thumb is to use they/them. I have provided a resource along with other links below:

Ability/Disability: Often, means of ability are glossed over by media or negatively portrayed to emit a sense of shame. Instead you could use, “people with different abilities.” Avoiding stigmas around abilities will not only make your writing more inclusive, it can help empower people. Here are some resources to consider when writing about people with different abilities:

As professionals in a fast-paced environment, research before writing is KEY.

Being able to write in an inclusive manner can make your audience feel welcome and safe. It will create a sense of trust and transparency around your company and that can greatly improve its relationship with the public. When a marginalized community can see you took the time to include them, you raise the standards for  companies around you.

As professionals dedicated to the ties between company and community, you CAN do better to be more inclusive. My hope is that this resource guide can be used as a stepping stone to successful inclusive writing.

Other related writing style guides:

How to Perfect Your Instagram Brand

How to Perfect Your Instagram Brand

Instagram is an incredibly important part of maintaining a successful and modern business. I mean, look at Starbucks and their 14 million Instagram followers– that’s the same amount as Channing Tatum! Starbucks doesn’t post selfies of their six-pack so they must be doing something else right. So what exactly is it that makes a successful Instagram page and attracts followers who are genuinely interested in the products or services you are selling?

Color

First and foremost, there are 600 million monthly active Instagram users so it is important to make yours stand out on the very first click. One way to do this is by choosing a curated color palette. Take Youtuber Rachel Aust’s Instagram, for example. She sticks to four primary colors: white, black, green and light pink. This has become her brand and it is quite successful. I automatically know that it is one of her posts the second it pops up in my feed. Businesses can use this tactic by making their logo colors the primary colors in their posts.

Another way to curate your Instagram’s color palette is by sticking to a consistent filter. I personally use an app called VSCO and stick to one or two filters. Another way to do this is to use Photoshop to edit out colors that do not work with your theme. This may seem like a lot of work but having a well-thought-out Instagram will attract customers and make your business more money—which, when put in those terms, is worth a few minutes on Photoshop.

Don’t forget to keep up with the latest trends in your field for color but also try to stand out and be unique. People will remember a unique color scheme and come back looking for more.

Quality over Quantity

Alright, now that your aesthetics are on point, quality photos are a must. Even though the iPhone 7 can take better photos than some point-and-shoots, most professional businesses will use only high quality DSLR photos for their Instagram. This can include shots of models wearing a company’s clothing line, photos of the city the business is located in, inspirational quotes on top of beautiful backgrounds and more. World Market does a great job curating their Instagram because they pair high-quality photos with a consistent color scheme.

If you are lacking content for your Instagram feed, simply go outside and take photos of the city for an hour and use this shoot throughout your feed to promote variety and also personalize your business. For example, if you are trying to sell sandals, good content would include photos of the beach–the perfect place to wear your sandals.

Give Your Brand A Voice

Yes, it is great to sound professional and get right to the point, but people relate to real-life stories and humor. Caption the photos with a voice that is unique to your brand. Don’t be afraid to be hilarious or respond to comments. But, be wary of controversial issues if you do not want to lose customers or followers. A dramatic example of personalized brand voice comes from Denny’s, who makes it a point to post hilarious photos with equally compelling captions.

Plan It Out

A strong Instagram brand has variety so say hello to color-coded spreadsheets! Create your brand using an Instagram content calendar. This is a great way to make sure that you are not forgetting to make content for key social media holidays. Um, hello! Are you even a reliable Instagram business if you forget about National Donut Day? Although content calendars are great to hit key points, there are apps for more visual thinkers. For example, SneakPeek is an app that allows one to plan their Instagram feed in advance and see what works and what needs to be updated.

The Wrap Up

Of course, the most important part of an Instagram brand is staying authentic to the business and what is being sold. You are selling to humans who are not only attracted to what’s beautiful, but also to what’s real. We hope you found this helpful! Comment and let us know if you have any other tips and tricks up your sleeve for curating the perfect Instagram feed.

 

5 Tips on how to snap the best pic

In photography composition is key. Placing your subject, using certain colors, and picking the right background helps your picture look the most professional it can be. The subject of your photo is the most important part to make clear and draw the audience’s attention to. Because the subject is the reason you are taking the picture, it should clearly be in focus. Here are some tips on how to lead your audience’s eye to the subject and make your picture stand out among the rest.

Tip # 1
Leading Lines: Use lines to lead to your subject, a specific part of the frame, or a vanishing point in the background of the frame. People’s eyes naturally like to follow lines.

Tip # 2
Rule of thirds: Divide your frame into two horizontal lines and two vertical lines equally. The important elements in your picture should be placed along one of those lines instead of in the center of the picture. An off-center picture is more pleasing to the eye.

Tip # 3
Complementary colors: Every color has an opposite on the color wheel that compliments it the best and has the strongest contrast when put next to each other. Use colors that compliment each other and make the other color stand out. For example, red is the complementary color and opposite of green.

Tip # 4
Framing: When placing your subject in a photo, proper framing can really make your subject stand out. Using structures, windows, door frames, light etc. to crop around your subject work well to guide the viewer’s eye toward the subject.

Tip # 5
Rule of Odds: Always use an odd number of subjects when working with more than one subject. This gives the picture more harmony and balance visually.

Your composition can make or break your photo,so next time you are about to snap a picture keep these compositional tips in mind. Play around with these tips and watch your photography skills grow! Happy snapping!

 

Clients that seem challenging are the most fruitful experiences

In a perfect world, every client you have would be, well–perfect. Whether you’re working a summer job, a rigorous internship for school or have been with the same company for years, there are certain clients that seem to take more out of you than your time and effort.

According to the article Coping with difficult clients – three common types written by Rachel Antman from LMV Group, the main types of difficult PR clients include the “busy bee,” “authoritarian” and “scapegoat.”

The busy bee is usually a great client, but so overwhelmed with other tasks that public relations falls to the side, creating slow turnaround and challenges getting critical information to the practitioners on time.

The authoritarian likes control, so much so that the PR professional is no longer seen as a strategic asset but an assistant, making the work less successful than it could be.

Last is the scapegoat. This client tends to take all the credit for good work, then doesn’t bat an eye when blaming the PR agency for every failure.

When working with these types of clients, it’s important to remember that all of your experiences can be fruitful when you actively look for the value in them.

I. Personal Growth

Personal growth is different for everyone—it takes going through certain situations to learn how you can become a better person. Working with a difficult client is a sure way to figure out personal areas needing improvement.

The science of neuroplasticity explains how your thinking can change your brain chemistry. Staying positive can not only help you get through the work, but also rewire your brain to help you deal with it in the future. Even though during client related conflicts it can be easy to wallow in negativity, a positive attitude will be better for the situation, the client and yourself.

Learning to take your failures as opportunities for growth is beneficial in the workplace and day-to-day life.

II. Positive Change in Work Ethic

With a poor work ethic, it can be difficult to get anything done and keep the morale of your team high. Even professionals with a typically strong work ethic can struggle under pressure when dealing with tough situations. By constantly instilling a positive work ethic in yourself, those around you will most likely notice and benefit.

When dealing with a difficult client, it can be easy to get caught up in your emotions rather than logically thinking the issues through. Separating your personal feelings from the situation can strengthen your work ethic and all the components that come with it.

Work ethic is a virtue that’s believed to enhance character and contains many different traits. Professionalism, humility, dedication, accountability and respect are a few key elements necessary for a strong work ethic. These qualities include:

Professionalism: Broad because it encompasses all other aspects of work ethic—not only how you dress but how you act.
Humility: By acknowledging everyone’s contributions, maintaining a sense of humor, always being open to learning and teaching with integrity and appreciation those around your will trust and listen to you.
Dedication: Being passionate about your profession and company, and not submitting work until it reaches perfection, those around you will notice.
Accountability: Set an example for other employees by taking responsibility for your mistakes, not making up excuses and not making the same mistakes twice.
Respect: By always treating your clients with respect—even the most difficult—it will show grace and the value of your personal and professional worth.

III. Reaching Common Ground

One of the most beneficial skills to have when working with clients is communication. Establishing control of the account in the beginning will help you understand not only what the client wants, but will give you the creative freedom you need to do the work.

“I learned you have to say what you want and what the client wants up front,” said Kasey Perez, community manager at TGC, “it won’t happen later if it doesn’t happen in the beginning.”

Taking control from the start will garner respect from the client and allow you to steer negotiations in the right direction. Sometimes, conflicting ideas between PR practitioners and their clients can get ugly and defensive. Manipulating the situation to your advantage won’t solve the issue and the real reason for some conflicts may lie below the surface.

Reaching common ground takes mutual effort between you and your client. Being able to quickly realize the conflict, take control of the situation and find a resolution that works for both parties is a skill that will be beneficial throughout your entire career.

By: Josey Lonzo

The power of networking

A selfie of Michael Beadle and myself, Tina Riccio, in front of Ubisoft SF Head Quarters.

For those of you who are still in your developing collegiate years or even those who have yet to start the job hunt, I cannot stress the importance of networking and making connections enough.

Here, at Chico State the J&PR students are fortunate to be taught by a roster of widely connected professors that diligently work to lead us to an abundance of post-collegiate career opportunities. It is because of this amazing support system of professors that Chico State’s J&PR program has such successful and interactive alumni.

As a young student, I remember rolling my eyes when a professor said to us, “Networking will be the key to your success.” I thought to myself, “Shouldn’t my skills be good enough to get me a job alone?”

Today, as a graduating senior, networking has been a major factor in my success. The greatest example of this is my PR Internship with Ubisoft, the largest grossing video game company in the world today.

One autumn day Michael Beadle, The PR Director of Ubisoft San Francisco and a Chico State J&PR alumni, gave a quick presentation on the types of PR campaigns Ubisoft often runs and I couldn’t have been more mesmerized. I spoke with him after class to ask him more questions and proceeded to connect with him on social media months after his presentation.

After a few tweets back and forth we ended up direct messaging to talk about PR fails and successes. Later, I felt bold enough to send Beadle my resume and that exact moment was when networking got my foot in the door.

Beadle is the Ubisoft Director of PR for the U.S., Canada and South America. It’s safe to say he’s a big deal and that it meant a lot that he forwarded my resume to HR. I couldn’t be more thankful to him for being so open to interacting with me and supporting me. After a rigorous interview process, I was honored to become a Ubisoft PR Intern during the summer months of 2016.

I learned things about PR I had never heard of before. For example, how to efficiently and effectively create coverage reports, media bios and how to teach other how to work with Cision and plan Ubisoft’s long-term analytics strategy.

I also had the chance to write a few press releases which received coverage from journalistic industry leaders IGN and Gamespot. Finally, I got the chance to help run the Pre-Gamescom event held at the Ubisoft SF HQ working the floor and interacting with game industry journalists.

Examples of coverage from industry leaders:

 

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The greatest takeaway from working in a corporate PR office was the extreme importance of always turning in polished work. In college, it is easy to get caught up in the craziness of balancing a million things and at times students turn in unperfected work for one class just to receive some credit instead of none. This is the greatest contrasting difference between the collegiate and business worlds.

When working in the business world you must always turn in completely polished work. If you are running late on a deadline, communicate that to your supervisor and always be sure to turn in your absolute greatest work. Because, to be frank, if you work is subpar so are you.

For my current internship with Tehama Group Communications, I am an Account Executive and I expect polished work from my team. Though TGC is a student-managed agency, our clients buy our work and time and thus they always deserve the highest quality of work possible.

So, if you are interested in joining TGC in the future, know that we hold our standards equally as high as Ubisoft and other corporate PR companies and agencies. Be prepared to run your work through edits and critiques multiple times. Our high quality of work and client relations is what makes TGC a prestigious organization that exponentially better prepares graduates for their post-collegiate careers.

Written  by Tina Riccio

Tips for building a successful personal brand

As college students, many of us are unfamiliar with the concept of personal branding.

However as graduation approaches and the job hunt begins, it becomes clear that having an established personal brand is crucial in differentiating yourself from the competition. It is a combination of who you are as a person and who you are professionally.

  • Are you someone that would fit into that company’s corporate culture?
  • Are you a pleasant and well-rounded person to work with?

Your personal brand can be worth just as much as skills and experience on a resume.

Be true to who you are.

The first step of establishing a personal brand is knowing yourself. Embracing your quirks and differences is key because each of us has the ability to bring something new to the table. Think about all the aspects that make up your personality. What are your passions or hobbies? Stay true to yourself and hold yourself with confidence. This can make all the difference when networking and interviewing for jobs.

Know your values and beliefs.

Whether it’s having a strong work ethic or believing that everyone’s ideas deserve to be heard, know what your core values and beliefs are and stick to them. Your morals are an essential part of your personal brand because they affect decisions you make, both in and out of the workplace.

It’s not just who you are in a professional setting.

Personal branding includes your appearance and behavior in the office and out on the town. Believe it or not, the way you carry yourself outside of work impacts your personal brand, so it is important to always represent yourself in a classy way. This also includes posts and pictures on social media accounts. Before you post, think about if your future employer saw your Facebook or Instagram pictures. How do you want to portray yourself?

Show your personality and sense of humor on social media.

We have all heard that it is necessary to have an active social media presence when applying for jobs. To make your profile stand out against other post-grads, show your unique personality wherever you can. Have a witty and creative bio summary on LinkedIn. Post thoughtful and relevant information regularly on Twitter. Show that you are engaged in the industry that you wish to be hired in. But remember to always make sure the content you post is appropriate and tasteful.

Have a solid elevator pitch.

Whether you’re attending a career fair or a job interview, you need to be able to sum up who you are and why you’re worth hiring in a minute or less. You may need to practice your elevator pitch to make sure you get your main points across. This will be the first impression you give to potential employers, so it is paramount that you sell your personality and skill set as much as possible.

Screen shot 2015-04-02 at 3.30.16 PMPhoto credit : Daryl Scott

by Diana Gallagher, assistant account executive

Confidence is key – How to be a confident leader

When it comes to the professional world, confidence is key. Successful people will tell you to have a confident handshake, a confident gaze and to dress like a confident business person.

If you do all these things right, you will come off as a confident person. But if your confidence is a façade, it can only last so long.

In my six weeks of being an account executive at Tehama Group Communications, I’ve learned you must have inner confidence before outer confidence can flourish. “Fake it ‘til you make it” doesn’t actually work when you are trying to lead a team of people who count on you to call the shots.

I have always thought of myself to be a self-assertive. Yet when I began my internship at TGC, I found that I was doubting and second-guessing myself. The time came for me to be a leader and suddenly that confidence was gone.

My confidence had never really been put to the test before. A firm handshake and a great business outfit got me through the door, but the rest was up to me to prove my self-assertiveness. From the first week of my internship to now, I’ve learned a lot about how to maintain my self-confidence, even when I’m feeling doubtful.

Screenshot 2015-03-05 12.23.26Image courtesy of leadersinhighheals.com

Get organized and take charge.

You cannot be a confident leader if you do not properly plan. When it comes to conducting a meeting, make sure to create an agenda and know what you will say once the meeting begins. Keep control of the conversation. There will be some off-topic comments, but keep control of the tasks that need to be covered so the meeting stays on track.

Connect with your team.

No one wants to take direction from someone who seems disinterested in the people around them. Connect with the people you are working with and establish a relationship in the first stages of a project. Not only will they see you as less of a tyrant just rattling out order but they will be more inclined to churn out their best work every time they’re tasked with something.

Create a power mantra.

I recently started taking yoga classes and made my mantra, “You are confident, strong and centered.” It sounds cheesy, but convincing yourself of your own abilities can have a hugely positive effect on your psyche. Even if you’re not into the mantra idea, yoga classes may help clear your mind, which can also help you steer clear of being an overbearing leader.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

It is good to remember that your confidence can always be improved simply by asking for guidance. Confident people are not invincible, and can still make mistakes.Asking for help is what led me to become more confident in my capabilities as a leader. It reassured me that being a leader is a learning process, that takes time and experience.

by Jane Eveland, Account Executive

Sealing the Deal: Interview Tips For College Grads

Job interviews can be nerve-racking, especially for college grads who may not have as much experience interviewing as other candidates.

As the graduation date comes closer, now is the time students should prepare for interviews and learn to stand out from the rest. Below is a list of interview tips to impress an employer and get your dream job.

 1. Practice, practice, practice!

It is important to practice with friends, family, your professors, etc. Going over standard interview questions with people you trust will help you feel more comfortable when the real interview comes.

The Chico College Career Center offers mock interviews to help college students with suggestions and critiques.

2. Have your resume memorized.

A lot of times, companies will ask you questions based directly from your resume. If you have listed “assisted in media pitching,” be prepared to explain exactly what media pitching you did for that company. This Huffington Post article offers some other great resume advice.

3. Be aware of your body language.

Make sure you give a solid handshake, make good eye contact and sit up straight. Having good body language will show your enthusiasm for the job at hand and portray your positivity.

Menshaking
Photo credit: Victor1558, creative commons, original photo

4. Bring questions.

Research the company beforehand and come up with some quality questions about the company. Coming prepared with questions shows the employer your determination and strong work ethic.

5. Say thank you.

Make sure to get the contact information from the interviewer and send a follow-up thank you email or letter. Hand written cards make more of an impact and show you put time and effort into thanking them for their time.

With these tips you will be prepared and confident to impress the interviewer, show them why you are the best candidate for the job and seal the deal.