Learning to stay authentic with your consumers during a pandemic

By Grace Gilani

As the world and everyone in it begins to adjust to this “new normal,” brands need to remember exactly who their audience is, and how they can stay true to not only themselves as a company,  but to their loyal customers. A brand that they have without a doubt worked tirelessly on to build from the beginning.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, audiences alike have seen brands stray from their key messages, oftentimes to stay up on current issues, and continue to be relevant. An example of this would be a clothing brand posting an article or a blog post about new technological advances concerning the pandemic. Not only does this brand have no business discussing this topic, but their audience also is not there to hear their opinion on technology; they’re there to hear about the latest fashions. 

“When people are presented with a reduced choice of service, previous experience comes into play and we tend to stay loyal to brands that gave us value in the past,” Alun Davies said.

During these unprecedented times, it is understandable that some companies may be struggling with how they can help or get involved. Here are some tips as to how your brand can use the right voice and messaging to keep their audiences engaged and safe through the pandemic.

1.     Create a relationship with your consumers 

I bet we can all relate to coming in contact with a robot when your intention was to talk to a live human being, and this hasn’t changed during COVID 19. Consumers want to feel like they can have a relationship with customer service, a human voice, that they relate to and be friendly with.  

By doing this, this cuts out the anxiety a customer might be feeling regarding the pandemic. More often than not, your consumers will notice that your brand values their business more than another company who simply dealt with them at their convenience.

2. Stay true to yourself and your brand 

It’s no shock that this pandemic has lasted much longer than anyone had originally anticipated, and therefore, brands will need to stick to what they know, because it’s worked so far! 

Obviously moving marketing and everything else online was stressful, however, you shouldn’t have to change what your brand represents or who it is tailored towards just to stay relevant. You want your customers to really feel like they know what your brand is about, and that through thick and thin, you will be the one thing in their life that stays consistent. 

A perfect example of straying from your core message and confusing your audience is the commercial for Progressive Insurance that was released during the beginning of the pandemic. The ad featured all the well-known Progressive characters, but the brand had strayed from their core message. If you were unaware who Flo and Jamie were, you would have no idea that they were trying to sell you car insurance. This is a perfect example because Progressive simply wanted to catch the trend before everyone else. 

My advice is, don’t change who you are just because of this “new normal.” Eventually, this time we have spent cooped up in our homes will have ended, and at the end of the day, do you want to change your marketing strategy AGAIN to fit back into the normal (post-COVID) world? 

3. Learn together with your customers

Finally, and most importantly, come together with your audience to hear what they have to say. You could think a campaign you put together was the best you’ve ever made, when some of your consumers could feel as if you missed the mark. I believe that in this predominantly digital age it is normal to get feedback, and adjust your strategy like that. You can let your audience have a say while still upholding your beliefs and values. 

Center for Entrepreneurship Case Study

Brand Guide for Center of Entrepreneurship

Services Provided:

  • Facebook Campaign for Giving Day
  • Photography
  • Brand Manual
  • Taglines and Core Messaging
  • Web Content – Feature Stories
  • Alumni Highlight Stories for Web and Facebook
  • Content Calendar for posting guide
  • Brand Intro Guide
  • SWOT Analysis

Client:

  • Chico State Center for Entrepreneurship

Date:

  • Fall 2018

Web:

Description of services:

  • What we did: The Center for Entrepreneurship was recently taken over by Dr. Colleen Robb. Essentially, the full scope of work for the center fell into her hands alone. In that regard, Dr. Robb’s needs were extremely open ended. These needs included, event planning, brand analysis, outreach and web content. The center’s social media needed to find it’s core voice so we created core messaging and tone guides in an effort to aid future social efforts by the center.
  • Our main goal this semester was to provide a comprehensive brand guide, content to use in a fundraising campaign, content for their online presence and a calendar to effectively roll out the content created. These efforts were all focused on one sole purpose, helping the center find it’s unique voice, while effectively campaigning for funding through Giving Day. Though Giving Day was delayed due to an extremely unexpected fire which numbed the community, we were able to provide the center with all the assets they would need to execute the event at a later date. Working through an iterative process, our team kept direct communication with the client at all times. This ensured cooperative communication and accurate project completion. We learned a great deal, helped more and walked away proud of the work completed.

Brand Manual – Kimberly Volkov (Art Director 2019)

Brand Manual - Kimberly Volkov (Art Director 2019)

Photography – Jasmine Garcia (Creative 2018)

Photography - Jasmine Garcia (Creative 2018)

Facebook Post Example – Dr. Robb via Team Recommendations

Facebook Post Example - Dr. Robb via Team Recommendations

NAMI Case Study

Flyer for Nami Event.

Services Provided:

  • Web
  • Social Media
  • Videography
  • Photography
  • Collateral
  • Strategic Planning for Spring Fundraising Event
  • Media Relations

Client:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Butte County

Date:

  • Fall 2018

Website:

Description of services:

  • What we did: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Butte County educates and advocates for the mentally ill and their families. NAMI provides regular classes, support groups and presentations to the general public in the Butte County community. TGC has worked with NAMI during the Fall 2018 semester to build visibility for mental health support in Butte County and to effectively communicate the services that NAMI provides to the community.
  • We’ve implemented a variety of projects throughout the semester to reach NAMI’s goals of communication and visibility within the Butte County community. Through photography and videography, we’ve created content for NAMI’s website and social channels to increase brand visibility. Our collateral projects have focused on providing NAMI with flyers, a brochure and a newsletter that highlight the mental health services which NAMI offers. Our media relations project provided NAMI with a media list, a contact plan and a mock-up press release to increase membership efforts. Lastly, our strategic planning for NAMI’s spring fundraising event gave NAMI the content to implement a fundraiser to raise money for their organization. Together, our talented creatives and PR staff worked to successfully build visibility and communication between NAMI and the Butte County community.

Screenshots of creative content:

Not Filling Her Shoes

Coby stands by her sister’s side, Kayla, as she gets married in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico.

Starting my journey at Chico State, I knew it would be difficult. Not only because of the curriculum or being away from home, but because I had to fill the shoes of my sister who graduated 10 years before me in the same department. Following in her footsteps, I decided to join the journalism and public relations field where she once made her mark. Taking all the same classes and internships, I became recognized by many different professors as “Kayla’s Little Sister”. This is troubling and can be discouraging at times because of how hard she worked at everything.

Having this always in the back of my head, I tried to set myself apart and make a name for myself within the field of journalism. By taking alternative courses and declaring a minor in communication design, I tried to differentiate myself from her. I am constantly compared to her, but in the end, I believe this is what made me stronger as a public relations student.

PR is so unique and different, changing every year with new technology and lessons. My sister and I are at different points in our lives and I am still learning techniques as a student. We could never be the same or be expected to produce identical work. In the long run, I am truly thankful for having her as a guide and someone to look up to throughout this experience in my life. We may all have that person who will do better in any aspect of life, but it’s important to prove to yourself that you are capable of whatever gets thrown your way and to not get discouraged.

My sister has given me tips and has shown me examples of what it takes to become a successful PR professional. I find these lessons and tid-bits extremely helpful to avoid being completely blindsided by what is to come.

By: Coby Kooyman

Picture provided by Ana & Jerome Photography

The Stages of Morning

Gold clock with black numbers and white background

Have you ever been in the middle of that amazing dream where your celebrity crush is so in love with you, and as they’re about to kiss you the toll bell rings… and rings… and rings and you slowly drift awake and you realize it’s your alarm? The celebrity crush is gone, you’re back in reality and another day of busy public relations lifestyle is ahead. Suddenly the five stages of grief and loss set in: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

Denial: “Ugh! It can’t be 7 a.m. already… can it? There’s no way it’s time to get up,” I say to myself as I hit the snooze button for the first time. Okay, okay, maybe for the third time.

Anger: After the alarm goes off for the fifth time in 20 minutes, it’s hard not to get violent with the snooze button. I envy morning people. They’ll never understand the pain and torture of waking up at 7 a.m.

Bargaining: Every morning begins with the hopes that my 9 a.m. client meeting is canceled. “Please, oh please be canceled,” I pray as I roll over and check my work email. I promise to go to bed early tonight if I could just have one more hour of sleep. Nope! Meeting’s still on.

Depression: “WHY?” I say as I mentally breakdown under my covers. Ahh, it’s so warm under here. I never want to leave.

Acceptance: After the seventh time, the alarm goes off and reality sets in that the media pitches won’t write themselves and the events won’t get planned unless I get up. I finally accept my fate. I must get up and face my responsibilities. I hit the off button instead of snooze and brace myself for the cold air and bright lights. You win. I’m up.

Mornings come fast and most of the time it’s hard to get up, but a wise person once said, “Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them.” Remember that tomorrow morning when 7 a.m. comes and you start the stages of grief and loss all over again.

By: Licia Dering

Picture provided by Pixabay.com

A Quick Guide to Shooting Travel Photography

Marian Amira

 

Nevada Night Sky
Long Exposure of the Nevada night sky

People go on vacation and take pictures. It’s what you do. It’s simply what vacationers do when they travel to exotic, never before seen places. Photography is an amazing phenomenon that we take for granted in the 21st century. The way we are able to harness a memory by simply capturing a blend of light and color with a machine is truly amazing.

However, there are instances when this miracle of capturing light, falls short of our desires and expectations. Follow me on a short magic carpet ride through some tips that I have gathered in my travels around the world.

Budapest Bath House
Sunset over Budapest Bath House on Christmas Eve.

Traveling and shooting photos go hand in hand. Not only does it compliment your Hawaiian shirt and fanny pack, but it immediately pegs you as a tourist.

No. 1, accept the fact that you’re a tourist and embrace it with grace and intelligence. If someone throws you a skeptical eye, keep snapping on, but be smart and hold yourself with a certain level of discretion. You’re not going to buy the traditional garments of every nation to blend in, so you might as well avoid the headache trying enjoy documenting your experience. However there are some exceptions, which leads me to tip No. 2.

Israel Soldier
Tay Dayborg from Israel, at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem

This point segues to my next tip. It’s a simple one. Several years ago, I was on the beautiful island of Sicily, Italy taking photos around a rustic, dust filled neighborhood. On the corner were two men drinking coffee. Not thinking anything bad of the calm situation. I snapped a quick photo of one of the men who happened to be looking my way just as I took the photo. Instantly he got up and walked toward me. A bit startled, I quickly erased the photo before he arrived. When he approached me I saw he was holding out his hand, he wanted money for the photo. I explained that it was gone and that he had nothing to fear. Nonetheless, he watched me intently as I scrolled through every single photo I had on the camera. Tip No. 3, if you get caught taking a photo of someone you shouldn’t be, erase it or give the subject of the photograph what they want in order for them to be happy.

Tip No. 4, pay attention to your surroundings. Look everywhere from every angle, you never know what could be waiting for you in the distance just a few feet away you. Timing is crucial. A moment in time is lost forever if you are not actively looking for it. This goes for foreground and background as well. Understand the dynamics of your depth of field and move to the best spot within your environment. By positioning yourself at just the right place, you can truly have your picture follow speak a thousand words.

Abhi Sarkar
Abhi Sarkar from Santa Barbara, at Moab National Park.

Tip No. 5, call a friend’s name at the right moment for a dynamic candid. People look their best when they are doing something that they love or truly inspires someone. See your friend staring out over a beautiful landscape? Get your camera ready, call their name and snap the photo before they realize what just happened. I find that catching people with their guard down produces some of the most engaging photos. Often, people lost in thought seem to stare right into the camera with such intensity that I feel as though they can see my very soul. The feeling is contagious, yet hard to pull off consistently. Keep practicing, who knows what you will find within the eyes of someone you thought you knew.

Marian Amira
Marian Amira Jonjo hailing from London, England, “caught” at the Marin Headlands.

When traveling, be respectful and mindful of where you are to the best of your ability. Enjoy your privilege as a photographer; heft that clunky camera around with pride. Use this machine wisely, knowing that not everyone can have the same opportunity as you to document the beauty of life. Keep on snappin’.

*All photos taken by Trevor Raven Foster, All rights reserved*

Written by Trevor Foster, Videographer/Photographer

The Harmony of Music and Social Media

In the current day and age, social media is a frequently used method of self advertising and personal branding. In the music industry this is especially significant. Whether you want to be a performer, manager or music journalist, increasing your popularity through social media is a vital strategy.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are successful and common social media platforms. However, when it comes to the music industry, audio streaming applications should also be used to the musician and their team’s advantage.

Giving listeners the opportunity to stream music on multiple platforms allows for an increase in audience. Both of these platforms have their unique attributes.

Here’s how to keep your social media game rocking on the ones and twos.

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  1. Spotify currently has more than 100 million monthly active users, 30 million of those are paying subscribers. Spotify allows streaming for free, however there are a few minor setbacks. Every few songs the music will be interrupted by an advertisement, and when used on a mobile device, you can only shuffle playlists or albums and cannot choose specific songs.

For the more avid users, Spotify premium is available for $9.99, $4.99 for college students, in the US. By joining premium, customers are guaranteed higher audio quality, uninterrupted playback and the option to download tracks for offline listening.

Spotify’s most appealing characteristic is the plethora of listeners. When artists put their music on Spotify they are immensely increasing chances of reaching new listeners.

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  1. Even though most SoundCloud users do not register, there are still 40 million registered users on the site. The website reaches 200 million unique listeners around the globe through the Web, mobile devices and social-media sites.

Similar to Spotify, SoundCloud’s most appealing characteristic is their massive audience. However, SoundCloud is more beneficial for electronic dance music. When searching on SoundCloud for music that isn’t electronic, you are likely to come across remixes rather than the original song.

So get your music out there, and maybe we can stop listening to “Closer” by The Chainsmokers every 10 minutes.

Written by Julie Cogert, Lead Editor

#SafteyFirst

fema's twitter page

“Chico PD has alerted campus to be on the lookout for a male who may be approaching campus with a gun. Please call 911 if you see this person we will send further information as available. Thank you.”

Thousands of Chico State students received that exact message on Sept. 7, 2016. These types of emergency situations happen all the time, but until it occurs in your personal life, you will never be sure how to deal with it. At Chico State, many students did what they normally do, they picked up their phones and hopped on social media.

Social media is one of the biggest pieces of our daily lives, we reach for our phones and computers in any and all situations. As a global society we face crisis on a daily basis.

Our ability to connect with a greater network of people has changed the way we handle these situations, we are not only able to quickly alert a mass amount of people, we can get live updates as the situation unfolds, and even check in to let our loved ones know we are safe. Take a look at how social media has changed the way that we handle a large scale crisis.

Facebook:

On Oct. 15, 2014 Facebook released its Safety Check tool, it was inspired by people turning to Facebook in times of global and domestic crisis to check on their friends and loved ones.

The tool well asses if you are in an area of risk when something like an earthquake, tsunami or a shooting occurs.  Safety Check was activated for the first time in the USA, soon after the Orlando Night Club shooting occurred June, 2016. Residents of the area, or even those who had indicated that they were in the Orlando area could check in to let their friends and family know that they were safe.

Safety Check can also pick up local crisis, for example a shooting occurred in Chicago on July 28th of this year, because so many people posted about the incident Facebook created a local Safety Check so that residents of the smaller area could check in with each other.

fsfd phone

PC: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2014/10/introducing-safety-check/

Twitter:

Twitter has become one of the fastest news sources in the world. In the 2011 earthquake in Virginia, Tweets that an earthquake occurred reached New York City before the aftershocks did.  Twitter literally moved and reported faster than an earthquake.

Keeping in line with the quickness of reporting is the Moments feature where users are able to stay up to date with the continuous stream of news. Moments compiles news and content relating to the event into one place.

In addition to Moments, Twitter has become a tool that allows people like scientists, insurance companies, etc., to track the severity of the damage that a natural disaster has caused. Twitter has been able to help with this in a cheaper and more effective way than even some FEMA models. 

Emergency Preparedness:

Emergency Personnel have taken notice of the effect and convenience of social media during a crisis and have began to include it in their emergency preparedness plans.

Using Facebook to update which roads are closed during snow storms, warning people to stay away from certain areas in the event of an active shooter situation or getting any type of information out quickly and effectively to a large number of people. Social media has become a crucial tool on the belt of those we look to in times of emergency.

fema's twitter page

Though we joke about social media taking over our lives slowly, there is the argument that in a lot of ways it can make our lives better. These tools and features are just a few of the many ways social media has become an integral part of our lives, and simply serve as a helpful aid to a future of emergency and disaster management.

Written by Cheyenne Cameron-Pruitt, General Manager

PR and Marketing in Chico

Social High Rise Logo

When thinking about public relations and marketing, most people relate these types of businesses to big cities such as San Francisco, Seattle or New York. When in reality, public relations and marketing firms exist in smaller towns all across the US, in cities such as Chico as well. Many graduating seniors will be looking for jobs in this field all over the US, forgetting that there are places of employment right here in town.

The world is packed with public relations and marketing opportunities for graduating seniors, here are a few available in Chico for those who don’t want to leave:

Social High Rise LogoSocial High Rise is a local marketing and public relations firm that focusses on restaurant social media management. They take on all aspects of social media for these restaurants including Yelp, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Trip Advisor and Linkedin. With a generally young staff, Social High Rise stays up to date with current social trends to ensure the clients’ needs are met.

half-a-bubble-out

With the quirky name locked down, Half a BubbleOut has been providing public relations and marketing services to the Chico area since they opened shop in their guest bedroom back in 2002. Founded by Michael Redman and his wife Kathryn, Half a Bubble Out focuses on business consulting, web design, internet marketing, traditional marketing and advertising. They refer to themselves as a one stop shop for your small business needs.

Burghardt + Dore Logo

Burghardt+Dore is an award winning marketing, advertising and design firm who impacts multiple brands throughout California. Based in Chico and with over 40 years of combined experience, Burghardt+Dore is a key player in the resort niche of the business. Some of their clients include The Downtown Chico Business Association, Visit Napa Valley and the Seascape Beach Resort.

Some students fall in love with Chico and never want to leave after graduation, others can’t wait to move away. If you’re one of those graduating seniors who loves Chico and can’t imagine leaving, take a look at these companies and see if they would be a good match for you!

Written by Nick Bragg, Public Relations Director Assistant

Choose New News Views

As PR professionals, journalists and citizens of a nation with a free press – it is vital to consume news on a regular basis. It is a common habit to read only one or two publications that you, as a reader, are comfortable with. But, a variety of news topics and viewpoints will help you build a rounded view of what’s going on in the world.

The internet is flooded with options for news content, so here are a few places to get you started:

Industry Specific

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Entrepreneur

If you are an individual interested in starting a business, this news site is one to check out. Entrepreneur Magazine offers insight and advice and is valuable for budding and established entrepreneurs.

 Alternative Press

Alternative Press is a publication that has been reporting on music news, concerts and everything in between for 30 years – so, its name and quality Alternative_Press_logo.pngare well established. Their online version has sections such as APTV (video-based news) and Audio (stream newly released singles and the AP Podcast).

Niche Commentary

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Bitch Media

Bitch Media is a nonprofit feminist online publication that’s purpose is to provide a commentary on mainstream news and popular culture. It is not bound by language or content restrictions – so approach it with that in mind.

 

The Root

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Commentary to the mainstream message, again, is key. The Root is an online publication that provides opinion, culture and news from and for African-American influencers. It also doesn’t follow the boxed-in news rules.

Quick Fix

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The Skimm

Hey, we’re all busy. All the sources listed above may be interesting but are too much to visit regularly. An email newsletter could be the answer for your general news needs. The Skimm is a fresh-voiced brief report on the major stories of the week that comes directly to your email. And, if you have an iPhone, there’s an app for that.

Written by Britney Witherspoon, Public Relations Director