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.

 

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

Tattoos in the workplace

Tattoos or “taboos,” depending how you view them, have always been a hot topic of conversation when it comes to the workplace. Questions of their professionalism and whether they belong in the workplace are constantly circling.

I think tattoos are beneficial to the workplace for these reasons:

  •     Tackle social norms and challenge the changing industry of public relations.
  •      Address a social change that is congruent with the shift in generations.
  •      Teach people to not judge a person by their appearance.
  •      Teases people to ask questions and engage with their coworkers.
  •     Offer another perspective.
  •     Open a door to imagination and interpretation from others
  •      Shows creativity and expression.

Shaming the presence of tattoos in the workplace stifles the creativity and expression of employees in an industry that needs those qualities.

Now more than ever, public relations firms need inventive individuals in order to make an impact in the growing industry. I think ownership of tattoos demonstrates  risk taking ability, and that can translate to a positive work environment.

I have two tattoos, one of which rests on my left forearm just below my elbow bone. It consists of three evenly spaced, black lines that represent my two siblings and me. All three of us got the tattoo together but in different regions of our bodies, and mine got the most flack from our parents because my location is the most prominent of the three.

Prior to getting this tattoo, my parents felt the need to reinforce the idea of damaging my future chances at getting a job. I was conscious of the severity of my decision and that I could potentially be limiting myself of future jobs but I decided that I would never want to work for a company that stumps creativity in the workplace by not allowing tattoos. I also figured that most professional attire would cover my tattoos, but there was still risk involved.

Just like most anything else, there is a time and a place for tattoos as well. At the end of the day, companies have to protect the workplace, so not all tattoos may be acceptable depending on whether they contain vulgar or offensive content. But more importantly than vulgar tattoos, I think tattoos should be covered when meeting with a new client for the first time. With varying opinions on tattoos it is always best to err on the side of caution when you are trying to make a great first impression. No one wants to damage a relationship or lose a client because of something that could have easily been avoided.

As a send off tip, I think a good rule of thumb to follow is the saying, “In the streets dress your best but at work be comfy at your desk.” Simply, just cover up your tattoos if you could be client facing.

How to avoid overdesign




An important skill for designers besides HOW to design is to know when to STOP designing. Everyone gets caught up in their project at hand wanting to have the perfect outcome and before you know it, your design can start to look like you will be the only person to understand its purpose. Learning not to over design takes practice and communication. The happy medium of design comes with experience throughout your design career. “Less is more” rings true throughout the design world and should be a phrase that hangs over every designer’s head. Trying to incorporate too many ideas or design elements can leave you with a cluttered design that has lost its initial function. It can be easy to overdesign without even knowing you’re doing it. There are many tips and tricks of the trade to help designers become aware of overdesigning before their concepts crash and burn. Here are a few to keep in mind:

5 TIPS TO AVOID OVERDESIGN

  •  Have a plan & don’t second-guess yourself

Know exactly how much time you have to get a project done. Having a clear plan of action can help the function of your design. It can be easy to second-guess yourself, especially if it is a new project or new client you are designing for. Remember to always go back to your proposal brief and review exactly what your client is asking for. If you come to the conclusion that YES! your design is achieving what the client wants, send it off and wait for feedback.

  • Enlist a second set of eyes

Take a step back and take a break. When you have been consistently staring at a project and tirelessly working, it is nice to have someone else take a look. They might spot something you missed or give you constructive feedback. You as a designer can also be your own second set of eyes if you pull yourself out of the design process for a period of time and return to your design with a fresh mind. You will probably find yourself eliminating aspects rather than adding more.

  •  Consider each elements purpose

After taking a step back from your design it can be helpful to take some time and consider each element’s purpose. Does that color palette represent the brand? Do those lines actually break up the content? It is important to consider the purpose of each element in your design since if you can not justify its purpose it may be necessary to hit that delete button.

  • Create more than one version

Options, options, options. Whether it is a logo, web graphic or poster, more than one option can ensure a good outcome. Having multiple versions is very important when it comes to client work! It is better to see what elements work and what better way to visually notice in two designs than cramming every idea into one design. Trust me, it will not look cohesive. Your vision will come across cleaner from two versions than one cluttered one.

  • Always keep your goal in mind Know your audience and the purpose of the design.

Written by Erin Riley

Resumé Revamp

infographic about resume building

Having a strong resumé is imperative in today’s competitive job market. As you prepare to enter the working world it is important to have a professional resumé that will help you stand out among the other job candidates. The following infographic provides key resumé tips.

infographic about resume building

Written by Tara Holliday, general manager.

Pursuing Your Passion

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
– Confucius

This quote from Confucius is one of my favorite quotes because it’s not only great advice to follow, but it is also very true. In the past, I have had my fair share of jobs that I absolutely did not love and it wasn’t because I didn’t like to work, it was because I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing at those jobs. Passion is a very powerful emotion. When you’re passionate about something it gives you the motivation to do things and to do them well.

women's soccer team
Photo credit: Jen Basulto

I am a big believer in pursuing your passions because I have come to find that when you are doing something you are passionate about that is when you find your true bliss. A few years ago I was at a point in my life where I needed to decided what I wanted to do as a career. I had narrowed my choices down to two: work in the entertainment industry or work in the sports industry. I was leaning more towards the former. I knew I needed to get an internship in both industries to help with my decision and ended up landing an internship, which later turned into a job, with the University of California, Santa Barbara men’s soccer team.

It was here where I found what I was most passionate about and where I eventually found my bliss. Everyday I went into work with a spring in my step that I did not have in my previous jobs; I truly loved my job. It’s because of this experience, that I have chosen to pursue my passion of sports and make a career out of it. More than anything I am passionate about soccer and hope to one day be able to pursue my passion and work for Major League Soccer or for U.S. Soccer.

It’s not always easy to figure out what you love and what you are really passionate about to make a career out of it. The Huffington Post has a great article on how to identify and pursue your passions. The article provides a step-by-step plan on how to pinpoint what you are passionate about and ways on how to turn that passion into your career.

I found my passion, now it’s your turn to go out there and find yours.