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.

Incorporating my passion for food into my future

A photo of an assortment of fruit and other food on a plate with a bottled drink to accompany it

With graduation six months away, my mind is being pulled in so many different directions of where I could see myself. On one end, I see myself living the glamorous city life in San Francisco. On the other end I see myself moving across the country to North Carolina living a humble life on the lake with extended family members.

Both these situations are completely different, but I want to be immersed in something I am passionate about while utilizing the skills I learned in Tehama Group Communications.

I have been surrounded by cooking and baking my whole life. My dad has always had a passion for cooking. After his career as a golf pro ended he decided to start a catering business, Fuget About It Catering, out of our tiny suburban home kitchen.

Since then it has developed into an incredible business that spread throughout our community by word of mouth. He now has a commercial kitchen and multiple catering jobs a day to prove his success. We started working for him right away as a way to make some quick cash but it soon turned into an amazing learning experience in the kitchen. Cooking is a means to express my creativity and come up with meals using ingredients I would have not thought would be good together.

So, how do I incorporate these passions into my future?

According to an article in Economy Watch, “the food industry comprises a complex network of activities pertaining to the supply, consumption, and catering of food products and services across the world.” This includes the marketing, distribution and advertising of products. That’s where I am most interested within the food industry.

Human’s basic needs will always include food and water therefore the food industry has nothing but room for growth and a profitable future. The food industry is a trillion dollar industry with is wide variety of networks.

O’Dwyer’s released a ranking of the top food and beverage public relations firms and amongst the top three are Edelman ($116,626,00),  Hunter PR ($16,500,000) and APCO Worldwide ($16,283,000). These are just three of a list of 48 agencies that work with the food and beverage industry. These growing numbers prove to me that I can work to incorporate my passion for food with my personal professional goals.

So, what’s next?

Network, network, network! That is the number one word I hear when I do site visits and it’s the way I plan to weasel my way into employers minds. I hope to stand out within these lucrative companies by incorporating my passion for food into my application process and researching their projects that involve food in some way.

Hopefully, in ten years when I am looking through old files I read this blog and have a smile on my face. The smile will be a result of incorporating my professional goals with my passions for cooking and baking.

By: Miranda Carpenello

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.

 

A Taste of the Philippines

adoboFilipino food is probably something you’ve never heard of, let alone tried. Luckily for me, growing up as a Filipino-American, I was able to enjoy many Filipino dishes. Filipino food has traces of Spanish and Chinese food, but ultimately has its own island feel that can only be attributed to the Philippines. The Philippines are made up of more than 7,100 islands, so the ocean has a heavy influence on the cuisine, not only with the inclusion of fish and shellfish, but also ingredients such as shrimp paste. However Filipino food is not limited to seafood, but pork, chicken and beef are also common ingredients. The food of the Philippines is full of variety, but rice is the one constant ingredient and is usually served on the side. Filipinos care a lot about food, and all meals are made “family style” to be shared with others. If you visit a Filipino’s home you can be sure you will not leave hungry.

Despite Filipinos being the second largest Asian group in the United States, Filipino cuisine has not become as mainstream as Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese. However, you may have seen it on shows such as Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.

As someone that loves to cook I’ve spent a lot of time working on my Filipino dishes, specifically trying to recreate the delicious meals made by my family members. Filipino cooking is not an exact science, and everyone has their own way of preparing, cooking and eating Filipino food. It is about creativity, and finding the flavors that you love.

To have your own taste of the Philippines, here is my recipe for Adobo Baboy for you to try. Adobo Baboy is one of the most common dishes in the Philippines, made of meat stewed in garlic, vinegar, pepper and soy sauce.  Feel free to follow this relatively simple recipe to the letter, or change it up to make it your own. Most importantly, make sure you invite some friends and family to share it with!

Adobo Baboy

2 pounds    Boneless pork spareribs, 1 inch, cubed

7 pieces    Garlic, crushed

2         Bay leaves

½ tablespoon     Peppercorn, crushed

6 tablespoon     Soy sauce

6 tablespoon     Vinegar

1 cup         Water

¼ teaspoon    Vegetable oil

  1. In a medium-sized pot heat oil over medium heat
  2. Add pork ribs and crushed garlic. Stir constantly until meat is browned.
  3. When pork ribs are browned add soy sauce, water, peppercorns and bay leaves and bring to a boil
  4. Lower heat to medium/low and simmer for 20 minutes
  5. Serve with steamed rice

by Jason Balangue, graphic designer

Stay on the Go Without Your Cup of Joe

Happy Monday! Time to wake up for that 8 a.m. class! After a long, typical, “Chico weekend” sometimes that early morning class isn’t the first thing on your to-do list. Oftentimes, the pillow takes priority. Luckily we have coffee. But what about the days you wake up late and don’t have time to brew your cup of Joe? Or you forget to bring your wallet to campus? How do we get through our day without our regularly scheduled morning coffee? Kiss the caffeine habit goodbye with some healthier alternatives to staying awake throughout the day.

coffee and fireplace
Photo credit: philmikejones

Sleep: As students, we all have random, crazy schedules that may not allow us to get the full amount of sleep our bodies require to function properly throughout the day. Sleep is extremely important. Let’s face it, after a late night of studying, we wake up looking forward to that afternoon nap. Don’t underestimate the power of the nap! About.com has some Tips for Great Naps about how to nap effectively. Our bodies go through different levels of rest throughout a nap and a night of sleep. Check out this bedtime calculator to figure out the best times to go to sleep and wake up so that your body feels refreshed instead of groggy when you wake up.

Food: Certain foods give us an extra boost of energy, while others make you crave crawling back into bed. Back away from the bed and grab an apple instead. According to Oddee.com, the natural fructose in apples slowly gets released in the body, which provides long lasting energy. Apples also contain carbohydrates to keep you moving and they are a good source of fiber. Another super food that keeps us on the move is eggs. Eggs are packed with protein and help keep us full so we don’t start getting sleepy and feeling lethargic. Throw some eggs in a pan with some chopped up veggies for an easy, energy packed start to your day. Even just the smell of breakfast food cooking will wake up your brain!

Music: Listen to upbeat music while walking to campus and in between classes. You’ll be surprised how some upbeat tunes can boost your mood and energy. Make a playlist of your favorite party songs, because we all know what it’s like to get the “that’s my jam!” feeling. If you need a little help picking out some energizing songs, spinebreakers.com has an awesome Top 10 Songs to Wake You Up in The Morning playlist already made to help you get your booty out of bed with a smile on your face.

You can tackle tomorrow without a caffeine crash. Ditch the cup of joe, bump your favorite beats, throw an apple in your school bag and take a guiltless power nap!

Taste of Chico: Local Showcase Makes for a Good Time!

The weekend of Sept. 8 my friends and I attended Taste of Chico, in downtown Chico, Calif. This event is the largest one-day food, beverage, music and fine art festival in the north valley that allows you to taste what Chico has to offer!

The Downtown Chico Business Association (DCBA), a nonprofit business organization dedicated to maintaining and enhancing downtown Chico as a vital retail and cultural center, produces Taste of Chico. All proceeds from this event help support the DCBA.

Taste of Chico is a Chico tradition and I am definitely going to make this a tradition of my own! This event is all about discovering new food and beverages that you enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised and found a few new restaurants that I will be going back to. Italian Cottage had delicious tortellini and Johnnies Restaurant and Lounge had great steak skewers that I would love to have some more of.

The food and alcohol ticket allowed me to have nine food tastes, eight alcoholic tastes and six non-alcoholic tastes. At first I thought that that would not be enough to fill me, but by the end of the day I had three food punches left and a few drinks to spare. I was stuffed! I recommend splitting a ticket with a friend next year.

This event is what Chico is all about, bringing the small town community together and having a good time. I highly recommend this event to anyone and can’t wait for next year!

group of friends at Taste of Chico
Photo credit: Amanda Papapietro

The Best Burger in Town!

After a five-year stint as a vegetarian, I now can’t go more than a few weeks without a burger. There’s something so satisfying about chomping into a truly great hamburger.

If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly searching for the perfect burger. Well, the wait is over! Here is my breakdown of the top five burgers in Chico.

1. Nobby’s, Nobby Burger: The Nobby Burger is no doubt one of the best burgers I have ever had. Come hungry, because after this monstrous 1/3 pound burger you will be stuffed! Not only does Nobby’s cook your patty to order, but they are most known for their “cheese skirt.” Yes, you read that right. Nobby’s grills the burger with fried cheese, giving it this delicious, crunchy, bubbly effect. YUM. Be warned, Nobby’s is cash only so come prepared! $

2. Sierra Nevada Brewery Co., Taproom Burger: The Taproom Burger is a fan favorite. A close second to the Nobby’s Burger, Sierra Nevada’s Taproom Burger is cooked to order, accompanied with melted cheese and local veggies, then completed with Sierra Nevada sauce, aka heaven. Their sauce is definitely the icing on the cake, or the sauce on the burger, I suppose. Sierra Nevada isn’t exactly in the college student budget, so keep in mind that you will be dropping double digits on a meal here. $$

3. Madison Bear Garden, Jiffy Burger: A Chico classic most beloved by college students, The Bear is a place to grab a meal with friends after work or between classes. The Jiffy Burger is a patty topped with creamy peanut butter, thick cut bacon and melted cheese. Trying this burger for the first time takes bravery, but it’s sure to become your new usual. $

Madison Bear Garden’s Jiffy Burger with fries.
Madison Bear Garden’s Jiffy Burger with fries.

4. Burgers and Brew, Spicy Guacamole Cheeseburger: This burger is large and in charge! A half-pound patty is cooked to order, smothered in homemade spicy guacamole, jalapeno mayo and pepper jack cheese. Served with a large portion of fries or a mixed greens salad, this burger makes a great weekend meal. For a vegetarian option, I suggest the portobello burger. $$

5. The Graduate Family Restaurant and Sports Bar, Uncle Melty: The Graduate rounds out my top five, but definitely does not disappoint. This burger is a half-pound patty, cooked medium, topped with grilled onions and American cheese, served on butter-grilled sourdough bread. The Grad is a great atmosphere to catch a game with friends or play one of their many classic arcade games. $

Eat Great on a Budget

Nothing we all do is more important to our health, or more ignored in American culture, than the simple act of eating.

I understand that we are college students; we are not in any way wealthy. Eating healthy is expensive…right?

It doesn’t have to be. You can eat healthier for less than $50 a week. That’s right, you can eat better all week for less than a night out at The Bear, and have meals like this:

firstmeal
Looks good, huh? Here’s how to do it:

The List

I made the commitment to eat healthy and took a trip to the store. I was drawn to the tortilla chips, Oreos, and canned chilli that have so far been the staples of my diet, but I refrained. What I bought was almost enough to require two trips:

2 Avocados– $1.16
1 Bunch of Bananas– $1.40
1 Broccoli Crown– $.26
5 Carrots– $.46
1 Head of Lettuce– $.99
4 Apples– $2.29
1 Bunch of Asparagus– $1.44
1 Red Onion– $1.06
4 Oranges– $.89
4 Red Potatoes– $.94
3 Roma Tomatoes– $.70
1 Bag of Brown Rice – $1.16
1 Bag of Lentils– $.86
2 Cans of Tomato Sauce– $.50
1 Package of Pasta Sauce Seasoning– $1.29
1 Package Pasta (Vermicelli)– $1.79
1 Tub of Yogurt– $2.48
1 Dozen Organic Eggs– $3.48
1 Package of Chicken Breasts– $9.91
1 Package of Steaks– $9.71

Grand total: $42.76

allfood

Not bad, and it got the cat intrigued.

interestedkitty

There is a lot you can do with this list. You could grill up a few chicken breasts with some steamed veggies for dinner. Then, for breakfast the next day, you could throw in a few leftover veggies into an omelet with some salt and pepper, and use the leftover chicken in a salad.

As a snack, take a banana and an apple with you to school. When you’re ready for lunch, bust out the chicken caesar salad you made with the leftover chicken and veggies. Then for dinner, make a beef stew with potatoes, onions, carrots, and lentils and start the whole cycle over again.

It’s actually kind of fun to cook your own meals and taking the time to plan your meals will make you happier and healthier. Check out Epicurious–which has a fantastic iPad app that allows you to search by ingredient–and Gojee’s food section for solid recipe ideas.

Here’s a few tips I’ve learned:

1. Shop at FoodMaxx

FoodMaxx has a great selection of produce for cheap, and their meat is not that bad. If you’re broke like most of us, this is the place to shop.

2. Buy just what you need

You don’t need a whole flat of strawberries. While wholesale shopping might seem like a good way to save money, for a college student it could end up costing when food starts to go bad. Instead, try to plan your meals and buy just what you need for that week.

Except nuts. Always buy nuts in bulk.

3. Keep it simple

Shop for things that hit all the major food groups, but don’t get carried away. Limit what you buy to what you actually plan to eat. Sure, that sack of grapes looks good, but are you really going to eat all of them? Put them back.

4. Cook with leftovers

This goes without saying, but a lot of people forget that you can use last night’s extras in today’s meals. Throw some of that leftover chicken in some pasta and diced tomatoes to create a great dinner dish that’s done in eight minutes.

I hope this helps get you started. Look up some recipes online and go to town, I promise you won’t regret it.

How To: No Bake Energy Bites

We all have busy lives and sometimes need a quick and easy midday pick-me-up. These no-bake energy bites are a delicious and nutritious snack that is perfect for anyone who is feeling drained and needs some energy on the go. Even better, no culinary skills or experience required! I have made a step-by-step video showing how to make these energy bites so you can make them at home. I must warn you though… once you have tried this simple no-bake energy bites recipe, you will be hooked!

Here is the original recipe that I found on Pinterest.




Peanut Butter + Jam ≠ Sandwich

For anyone who knows me the least bit knows that I have a passion for the culinary arts. For many, the weekend means time to de-stress. For some this constitutes dancing, while for others it is strictly gym time. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some enjoy endless margaritas at Tres Hombres. Tres Hombres is hands-down the best place to order your marg in Chico. With fresh in-season fruit and any flavorsome combination, my weapon of choice happens to be the strawberry-mango blend.

Well now that I’ve gotten my marg spiel out of the way, back to the main point. My weekends are not just filled with happy hours, but also with creative, freshly homemade pastries. I love to bake. I may take my proclivity with baking too far at some times.

I am madly in love with the idea of mixing peanut butter with chocolate in any way, shape or form. My favorite recipe is one that results in soft and chewy oversized peanut butter cookies with blackberry jam. I did not invent this recipe, simply perfected it to my personal satisfaction.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C flour1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 C peanut butter
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C blackberry jam
  • 1/4 C sugar for rolling (not used for mixing)

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer beat butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well blended.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients until incorporated.
  5. Put the 1/4 C sugar in a bowl. Scoop dough out with an ice cream spoon; roll it in the sugar and place on greased cookie sheet.
  6. Take the end of a thin wooden spoon and create a hole in the middle of each dough ball and spoon in 1 teaspoon of jam in each hole.

*Bake for 11 minutes at 375° F.

Enjoy!

Besides my grandpa,Giada de Laurentiis and theFood Network are my go-to culinary inspiration.  So, now you all know why I’m never in the loop regarding the latest Walking Dead episode or any other “hip” shows on TV—I’m too consumed with researching the latest gluten-free or vegan recipes to accommodate any potential guests I may be hosting.