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.

The art of self-editing

An open notebook with an empty page with a pencil and glasses on it, there is also a magnifying glass, camera and pottos all laid on a map

If you want your editor to love you, turn in clean copy. It is as simple as that. Not only will you win over your editor and they will possibly buy you lunch, but it makes both you and your editor’s lives easier.

Think about it.

The cleaner the copy you turn in as a writer, the less changes you have to make later on. It also allows your editor to turn your copy around quicker. This means you avoid a grumpy, sleep deprived editor at your Monday morning meetings. And everyone wins when the case of the “Mon-daze” is avoided.

So, here are my five tips on how to write clean copy and earn a free lunch from your beloved editor:

  1. Take a Step Back
    After you have finished a new piece of writing, leave it for a few hours before making your first round of edits. This allows you to become unfamiliar with your piece allowing you to read it objectively.
  2. Read Your Writing Forward, Backward and Sideways
    Read your writing over and over again. You obviously can’t read your work sideways but reading it backward disrupts the narrative flow, which helps you catch mistakes you’d normally skim over. Read your writing starting with the last paragraph, working back up to the beginning.
  3. Read it Out LoudScream it if you want but just make sure to not get a noise complaint. Reading your work out loud allows you to keep your brain from automatically correcting mistakes.
  4. Have a Colleague Look it OverThe more eyes on a piece before it reaches your editor, the better. If you have people willing to read your work, take them up on it. There is a good chance that they will catch mistakes that you have been subconsciously skimming over.
  5. PENCIL TAP
    Take the tip of that writing utensil that is going out of style and tap on every single word. This helps slow your brain down so you don’t fill in the blanks when you edit your work. It makes your brain focus on each individual word rather than your brain trying to predict the rest of the sentence. If you follow these five tips, you will be enjoying your favorite pizza place or preferred coffee joint in no time. And all of it will be at the expense of a happy editor.Written by: Dylan Wakefield 

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:

The Creative Process

Things to keep in mind – Videography

Videography requires a lengthy process which involves a lot more than just picking up a camera and recording. It’s important to make time for the creative and collaborative process. The more time you spend working through and agreeing upon an objective, the less time it will take you to reach your goal and have a successful outcome. Take more time during this process to fully develop a clear concept.

The first thing you will realize when it comes to the creative process, is that it involves an extraordinary amount of patience. The pre-production process is a slow process. You have to carefully plan out where you’re going to shoot, who or what you’re going to shoot, the lighting, the audio, and many other things. These all take time to plan out and you might want to move more hastily but you have to remember that, “good things take time”.  It’s better to film your production with careful planning and have it be successful. As opposed to rushing it and having to go back and re-do things due to mess-ups or difficulties. It might be a slow process but  try to enjoy it and just know that it will pay off when it’s all said and done!

Sometimes, your client or boss may not exactly know what they want. During these times, you will have to step up and take charge. Many of the decisions made during pre-production, film creation, and post-production will be influenced by your vision and voice. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have an idea that you believe will better capture the image or deliver the message. However, you need to remember that you are trying to create their vision. So be respectful and try your best to guide them through your creative process so that you can work well together. It’s important to balance your process with what the client needs. Keep your goals in mind but also make sure that you reach your client’s goals as well.

Be confident! Get over your fear of being judged or being wrong. We all start being creative from a young age and often times, others tend to discourage us. You’ve experienced this during your time in school and even out of school. You won’t always be able to get everyone to like your idea or to agree with you. However, it’s important to be confident in yourself and your work. Confidence and a positive attitude can go a long way.

Just remember to work hard and have fun! You have the power to create a piece that not only meets your client’s needs, but that also satisfy yours.

Written by; Braulio Martin

Is the “American Dream” really a dream if it’s taken?

The past year’s election stirred up a lot of negative attention towards immigration in the United States. However, if it was not for the hard work and talent of many immigrants this country would not have half of the things it does now.

Based on an article from Business Insider, here are some examples of how immigrants have impacted America:

 

  1. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, was born in Moscow, Russia, and emigrated here when he was 6 years old. Brin has an estimated worth of $24.4 billion.
  2. Do Won Chang, co-founder and CEO of Forever 21, moved here with his wife from Korea in 1981. Before Forever 21, Do Won worked as a janitor and gas station attendant. Forever 21 is now an international, 480-store empire, that brings in around $3 billion in sales a year.
  3. Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Fulham F.C. and Flex-N-Gate, moved to the U.S. from Pakistan and worked as a dishwasher while attending the University of Illinois. Khan is the richest American of Pakistani origin and one of the richest people in the world.
  4. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors and founder of PayPal. Grew up in Pretoria, South Africa and became an American citizen in 2002. Musk has an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion.
  5. Jerry Yang, founder of Yahoo, was born in Taipei, Taiwan. He moved to America when he was 8 years old, while only knowing one word of English. Yang has an estimated net worth of $1.15 billion.

 

Millions of people come to this country with hardly anything to offer, but they work hard to achieve the “American Dream.” The people mentioned above make me proud to have such a diverse and successful country, but unfortunately not everyone sees it that way.

The DACA program has been rolled back by Trump, which has directly impacted around 1.8 million DREAMers. People under the DACA program will no longer be able to renew their licenses to work legally in the U.S., which blocks them from being successful and contributing to this country. As a nation founded and built off of immigrants, I find this a little hypocritical.

Earlier this year, the Delta Iota chapter of Sigma Kappa at Chico State, was notified by our president that a fellow Sigma Kappa sister from MIT was blocked from getting back to school due to the travel ban. After hearing about something so disheartening, I began to feel embarrassed for our country.

Niki Mossafer Rahmati is a mechanical engineering major at MIT and served as the executive vice president for the Theta Lambda chapter last year at MIT. Originally from Iran, Niki holds a multiple entry student visa so she could go to school.

She is a hardworking students who is a member of a nationally recognized organization, and yet her origin was the ONLY thing that mattered when she was blocked from getting on a Boston bound flight.

Niki’s story is just one of hundreds that go unrecognized everyday. Hopefully this country can come together and take pride in our diversity, sooner rather than later. I mean, in all reality what would this country really be without immigrants?

5 Ways to Stay Out of Trouble on Social Media

You know this scenario all too well.

You are scrolling through your camera roll on Sunday morning and find photos from last night of you with your roommates at the bars. You think you have found a photo that is totally insta-worthy. That is when you should stop, drop and ask yourself, “Is this acceptable to post on social media?” Here are some guidelines to consider.

  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your future employer to see.

You are sadly mistaken if you think employers read your application and resume and leave it at that. Social media is not a full representation of who a person is. However, when employers are sifting through hundreds of applications, it is something that puts a face and personality to your application. Make sure you take advantage of your online persona and craft it into someone that people will be pining to hire. Or, risk employers moving on to the next applicant because your online image is unprofessional and sloppy.

  • Privacy online is a myth.

You might think you are safe if you have your accounts on private, but there is always a mutual friend who can show someone of importance your posts on social media. Screenshots exist. You should assume the worst when posting something risky on social media, whether it is a photo on Instagram or a tweet.

  • Keep it neutral.

It should go without saying, but you should not post vulgar language or insensitive viewpoints on social media. You are entitled to your opinions. Just be ready to own up to the consequences for posting politically heated views or language that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear you say.

  • If you hate your job, complain to your friends in person. Don’t blast it on social media.

First of all, your current employer could see it and fire you. You might not care about it at the time, but think about how it could affect you when you are looking for a new, better job. If other employers see you complaining freely and publicly, they might not think you are the right person for their company. Who is to say you won’t start bad mouthing them once you get the job?

  • Showcase your personality.

Professional social media profiles shouldn’t lack personality. Just because you are refraining from posting unprofessional content doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share photos from your life or let your humor seep into your captions. Your social channels should leave a good first impression. Keep them clean, but make sure to make them interesting. Most importantly, make them reflect who you are and what you stand for.

Written by: Victoria Agius

Avoid Typographic Disaster – A Guide to Use Typography And Organize Presentations

 

As we all probably know now, the 2017 Academy Awards had the biggest screw-up in its 88-year history. When Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the nominee for the wrong category of award, they were just as confused as we were. They were given the Best Actress envelope when they were supposed to announce for the Best Picture. What is the cause of this disaster? ­

Typography.

On the nominating card, very small fonts are used on the award name and large bolded fonts are used on the nominee’s name. Warren could not read the it and a typographic disaster is created.

Typography is a study in process of making typefaces. Typeface is often called “font,” but this is a common misconception. A typeface is a series of fonts that make a font family. Font is just one character style that belongs to a typeface. Within the typeface, there are fonts with various weights and styles. Understanding what typeface, you are using and how to use them can enhance the attractiveness of your presentation.

I will guide you through what I have found about using typefaces in a presentation.

 

  1. Legibility

Legibility means being clear enough to read. It is an important aspect in using typography. This is most likely the first thing that you learned when you just start to write in elementary school. All alphabets have its specific written style. If we use a typeface that has too much decorative parts in a presentation (like a script typeface), it might create reading problems for your audience. Avoiding script and decorative typefaces can make your presentation look clean and easy to read for your audience.

 

  1. Using matching typefaces

Typefaces are designed to be used in various places, like paper documents, websites and presentations, but different typefaces can also work together to make your message clear in a presentation. A serif typeface like Times New Roman is normally good for smaller text but it would not work well for a title or heading because its long serif can be distractive. San serif typefaces like Helvetica are great for large texts but would look boring for smaller text. Sometimes you can mix and match serif and san serif typeface in one slide of a presentation.

 

  1. Focusing on function rather than form

When it comes to what typeface to choose, we often try to choose more complicated typefaces with unique forms. It might be interesting for a slide but most of time it only makes your audience more confused. A better way to find what typeface to use is to understand your content. For example, if you are doing a slide related to history, serif typeface can fit to the theme very well.  Try not to use typefaces that have complicated visual effects. If you really want visual effect, take a consideration of the legibility of that typeface.

 

  1. Over emphasizing

Sometimes we tend to emphasize too much on one point of a slideshow. Instead of a short phrase, people tend to write a crowded paragraph, which reduces readability of a slide. It causes people to squint their eyes and lose focus on the speaker. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t emphasize anything. Sometimes certain content requires different level of emphasis.

 

  1. Creating hierarchy

Spending time on prioritize what is important content can help you categorize your points. Then lay out what is most important from secondary important. This also helps us to figure out how many words you will have on your slide. The goal is to eliminate unnecessary words and make the presentation cleaner.

At the end of the day, your presentation has to be simple and clear. The purpose of having a demonstrative piece is to help others to understand and organize knowledge. If a slideshow confuses people, it will defeat the purpose of having a slide show altogether. 2017 Academy Awards could be a lot more successful if the card designer of the event care about typography and organization in any form of visual communication.

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