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 

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?

Selling fear: news outlets fails to report full disaster stories

The United States watched with sadness as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma grew and destroyed cities, homes and lives. Americans came together, stronger and more united than at any point in recent times, to help those affected and desperate for aid.

The damage is done and help is on the way but what now?

Donations are still needed and work has yet to be accomplished. However there is a deafening silence from major news providers on the aftermath of these hurricanes since they have landed. Headlines cited celebrities like Houston Texans star JJ Watt and actor Kevin Hart for leading valiant donation efforts, but Americans still know little of the current states of these affected cities. The round-the-clock coverage predicting near apocalyptic damage has dissipated without care for these cities’ rebuilding process.

No coverage of recovery can be found on CNN, Fox or NBC’s homepages. News of Hurricane Maria’s path through the Carribean followed about a week after Harvey and Irma. Secondary headlines cover White House drama, racism in America or continued nuclear escalation. This silence gives the impression that the news doesn’t care about these disasters they spent weeks warning the country about anymore.

Harvey and Irma have dropped from headlines, so audiences won’t hear much more news from these developments. These news outlets put reporters on live television in the middle of deadly storms but aren’t updating audiences on the communities now that the storms have passed.

This issue is certainly not new to these recent disasters. Many people still don’t know that parts of Louisiana never recovered from Hurricane Katrina, leaving broken communities and homes.

Only the directors of major news outlets can answer why coverage is only concentrated before and during disasters. With much fear and concern spread across the country, it only makes sense that the news should reveal truth and follow up on these stories. Americans want to know how these places are recovering.

News outlets’ reputations are under attack today, so the face of news should further address people’s real needs. The news business faces unique challenges and critique in its mission to deliver objective news. These outlets should combat this critique by following through with stories that affect the national community like these.

Reporting that focuses only on destruction and fear results in further distrust of mainstream news. News that people care about and agree with must respond to important human issues. Hopefully the future of news can appeal further to aspects that are important and what citizens truly care about.

Written by: Sean Daily

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

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!

 

Each Chainsmokers song sounds ‘Closer’ to the last

Why do we love to hate The Chainsmokers, or hate to love them? It’s a constant battle between the two, but we still can’t stop listening.

The Chainsmokers are an American DJ duo consisting of Drew Taggart and Alex Pall. They formed in 2012, but Pall wasn’t in the group yet. At that time, it was Taggart and another producer named Rhett Bixler.  

The Chainsmokers may not know this, but they are successful public relations professionals. PR often entails social media and press releases; however, this DJ duo uses their music equation as their own personal form of PR.

A commonly heard complaint about these artists is that all of their songs sound the same.

Here’s the catch–they do that on purpose. Let’s dive deeper.

The Chainsmokers’ first ever live performance and popularity breakthrough was with their ever-so-trendy (and ever-so-hated-on) single, #Selfie, released in 2013. #Selfie reached top hit charts internationally. The beat is catchy and words are fun to mock, think: Friday.

From this point forward, The Chainsmokers’ hits have gotten increasingly popular. The most crowd-pleasing include: Closer, Don’t Let Me Down, Something Just Like This and Paris.

Although the most popularly used beats per minute for top hits is 120 BPM, all of these tracks are within a slower range of 80-100 BPM. The Chainsmokers chose a beat that matches our resting heart rates, making the songs easy to listen to.

We sing along with the vocals effortlessly. This is because they commonly consist of a small variation of notes that are within our mid-range, or natural speaking pitch.

The lyrics are simple and to-the-point with minimal need for imagination. We don’t need to wonder what he means when he says, “Baby pull me closer in the back seat of your Rover.” The picture is crystal clear. Our brains fully grasp what is going on in the song; we learn the lyrics quickly.

Lastly, The Chainsmokers follow something called a simple verse-chorus form. The verses and choruses use the same tempo and notes. This makes the songs satisfying and pleasing to the ear. By the time the drop comes, you’ve already heard those notes- in that order. But this time, it’s just done with a synthesizer instead of vocals. Our brains love patterns, and we can hear them time and time again in The Chainsmokers’ music.

By combining a soothing beat, simple melodies that are easy to sing and a satisfying song form, The Chainsmokers have roped us in without us even realizing.

As musicians or PR professionals, it is important to take note of the tactics The Chainsmokers use to ensure their optimum success. By using their crafted equation, they are able to keep listeners tuned in.

Are The Chainsmokers musical sellouts or simply clever public relations practitioners? That’s up to you to decide.

Collaborating with other designers

As graphic designers, it seems to be common place for us to find ourselves trapped inside of our own creative bubble, ignorant to the outside creative world that surrounds us. The problem here is when we don’t allow that bubble to pop, any good design or aesthetic inside of it will be trapped forever and never have the chance to grow. It is with the collaboration of other designers that our ideas begin to take a more compelling approach.

Each designer has their own mastered skill set unique to that individual. The key to design is understanding that there are areas of your work that still have room to grow. When working with other designers, it can be helpful to begin with a simple conversation. You might discuss strengths, weaknesses, inspiration, motivation or even how your Saturday night was! Whatever it may be, open a dialogue, and become familiar.

Don’t be afraid to tell someone if you do or don’t like their work. The best criticisms often pair a pro with a con–what is working and what isn’t. It is crucial to always be open and honest with your colleague designer–nobody wants to hear filtered thoughts about their design concept. Analyze and consider their direction, and then speak up and have a conversation about it. This is where the collaboration is able to take full effect: opening a dialogue and discussing each other’s work without directly comparing one to the other.

The best lessons you’ll learn will come from your collaborative efforts and conversations with other designers. Stay confident and happy designing!

Written by Cole Euell