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If fonts were people…

Posted in Integrated Marketing (IMC)

Using the right font at the right time can make a big difference in how effective your communications are. There are more than 135,000 fonts listed on fonts.com and my google search resulted in 431,000,000 matches. You can even download free fonts from sites like dafont.com and urbanfonts. Two fonts that we use are Arial and Goudy Old Style. Sans serif fonts like Arial are easy to scan and therefore make great headlines. Serif fonts like Goudy Old Style are better for text. Each font has its own distinct personality. Take a moment to enjoy this video that Collegehumor created showing what fonts would be like if they were people.

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Comments Off Posted on by Shanny Morgenstern

Identifying a good internship

Posted in Admin, Best Practices

As a young college student, it is very important to fill as many summers as you can with hands-on experience. The hard thing about finding hands-on experience is that even the best agencies/corporations/companies can fail to provide real experience outside of the break room. Most students will not have the opportunity to intern more than 2-3 times in their college careers. That’s why identifying a good internship is vital to building a resume that you can be proud of when you embark on the real-world.

Things to consider when identifying a good internship:
The size of the department or agency – Smaller organizations sometimes allow you to get direct contact with senior leadership. Thus, giving you opportunities to work in a hands-on environment. However, a smaller shop can sometimes mean less people to do the grunt work.

The source that informed you about the position – If it was a professor, they probably wouldn’t steer you wrong. If it was a mass e-mail from your school, they may not have screened the posting.

What past interns have to say about the program – Check their Web site for intern testimonials or in their recruitment materials. See if you know others who have interned there. You can always check with your career center to see if they keep records of where people have applied or been. They may be able to get you in contact with someone who has interned there.

Questions to ask employers about their internship program:
1. If I were working for you today, what would I be doing?

2. After this internship, what skills will I most likely add to my resume?

3. Who would I be working with on a daily basis?

4. How is my time divided between administrative tasks and PR/advertising/communications projects? – Even the best internships have a certain percentage of administrative tasks because things have to get done. Keeping this number to 25-30% would be ideal.

5. How would you describe your current interns? – You will be able to tell how they value their interns from this question. If you don’t like the way you would be seen in their agency, you may not want to work there.

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Tips to Make the Most of Your Internship

Posted in Admin, Best Practices

Now that summer is almost over, I am close to calling it a wrap at MCC. Looking back, there are several tips that I will use in my future experiences to make the most of my position. Just because you are hired does not mean it is time to relax and only do as you are told. You can be fired just as easily as you were hired, so here are three tips I would recommend to make the most of your internship.

1. Ask A LOT of Questions- There actually is no such thing as a stupid question. Hard to believe and often easier said than done, but it is true. Asking questions will help clarify your assignment and prove to your supervisor, or whoever you are asking, that you are listening and want to get all the details right. Asking questions may also help you discover a new angle or idea to help you go above and beyond what you are required to do.

2. Take Your Time, Don’t Rush Through a Job- Taking your time does not mean going over your deadline, but it does mean taking more than 15 minutes to do an assignment you are given an hour to do. Sure, sometimes it may only take 15 minutes, but take the extra time to double check for errors or additional information. If you think you will need more time, talk to your supervisor before time is up. This way, they know that you are working hard or may need additional help.

3. Always Ask for More Work- When you finish an assignment or have met your deadlines for the day, ask around the office to see if anyone needs help. Someone will always have something for you to do, and many times they are too busy to come to you. Asking for work shows dedication and enthusiasm, something your colleagues will remember when looking for help in the future.

There are many other bits of wisdom to get the most out of your internship, but I have found these to be the most useful and fundamental of them all. Every company or agency is different and has different expectations. Once you are a part of their environment, you will be able to see what they expect of you and how you can apply these tips in your work.

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Professional Organizations Can Boost a Career

Posted in Admin, Community Leadership

After nine weeks of agency work, I am totally committed to joining a professional organization like PRSA or IABC. Our industry is filled with people participating in professional development seminars and attending luncheons through their organizations. When I go back to school, I don’t want to miss out on “real-life.” That’s where a professional organization comes into play.

When I went to my school’s Web site to find appropriate contacts for one of these organizations, I realized that our university didn’t have any chapters. Without revealing my school colors, I was appalled by their lack of public relations/communications organizations. Coming from such a prestigious journalism program, I was sure that our school would offer more programs like this.

While some think that they don’t have the time or don’t want to spend the money, it is really important to take pride in your profession and join organizations like PRSA, IABC, DMA, BMA, etc. For professionals, it means networking with people who may become a client, a resource or even your next employer. My professors always say that it’s a small world out there and making solid connections within the industry is key.

For students, becoming a member of a professional organization is a great resource because many programs offer events/opportunities to meet current professionals in your industry (aka opening doors). There are also great perks like discounted memberships for some benefits and access to resources, such as online libraries or mentors.

If your school is like mine and doesn’t offer these professional organizations, check out their national Web sites. Many of them allow students to join chapters that are closest to their hometowns or even the national organization. But if you’re ambitious, you could always just start your own chapter…

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Ode to my Cubicle

Posted in Admin, Best Practices
I don’t despise my cubicle as it seems most other professionals do. In fact, I am happy to declare that I love my desk. How is this possible? We do not have just any cubicles at Morningstar. We have individual workspaces in an airy office. Our cubicles have taller partitions for privacy (yet, with window-like details so we’re not claustrophobic). I’ve got a bookshelf, two file cabinets, an extra chair, and plenty of cubbyholes for all my papers. We’re very ergonomic at our office, with many of us using foot rests, larger computer screens and wrist rests. I love how I can make the space my own. There are plenty of mementos around my cube that are representative of me too, including a James Dean cutout, old birthday card, various photos, even an office plant from my second day at Morningstar (I’m celebrating two years this week!).

In honor of the cubicle’s 40th birthday, I am sharing a poem about my desk. Thanks to the June KC/IABC luncheon, I had the right poem for this special occasion.

Ode to My Cubicle

My cubicle is green.
It looks like a walk-in closet.
It smells like a new book.
It tastes like Cheetos.
It sounds like iTunes.
My cubicle feels like home.

Now, write your own poem about your cubicle and share it with us.

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Don’t Forget to Do Good Things

Posted in Best Practices

Keeping your company profitable is common sense.  You work hard and your employees work hard.  You do great work for your clients and give them excellent customer service. There are rough patches and times where everything is flowing and clicking on all cylinders.  What we must not do is forget to do good things.

Friday was our annual company retreat.  We have had eleven of these retreats.  Most involve professional development, training, food and a few hours of bonding as a team.  This year was a bit different. I decided it was time for our company to do something good.  We volunteered at  Spofford House. While researching volunteer opportunities, I came upon this organization that shelters and helps at risk children. We were given instructions on what we were allowed to say and do before we met the kids. The staff is dedicated and well educated.

It was water day at Spofford House.  We filled water balloons, tossed them with the kids, had sponge races, played basketball and other water related activities.   We had a blast. Then we brought in pizza for all the kids and staff.  We got to eat lunch with them.  What an amazing experience. We received high fives, huge smiles and even a few hugs.  We got a loud “thank you” from everyone and went on our way. What an awesome day we had. We realized how much we take for granted.

Work hard, play hard, and give back.  It is so worth it.

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Comments Off Posted on by Andy Woodward

Dark Marketing

Posted in Best Practices, Online Marketing

On the eve of the release of the much anticipated Dark Knight, I thought it would be helpful to take a look at something else that has a dark side, dark marketing. According to Jonathon Keats of Wired Magazine, dark marketing is a “discreetly sponsored online and real-world entertainment intended to reach hipster audiences that would ordinarily shun corporate shilling.”The Lost Ring

Recent dark marketing campaigns have ranged from McDonald’s creation of an alternate-reality game called The Lost Ring to Motorola paying Jay-Z to specifically mention Motorola in his music.

Camel created exclusive invite-only parties called Urban Waves and Smirnoff published hysterical Tea Partay videos on YouTube in order to promote their products, while circumventing regulations restricting advertising for their industries. Apple has been particularly successful in getting its products featured in hot television shows and movies such as The Office, Transformers and Sex and the City.

The potential for return on investment is significant. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reach these target audiences by using traditional advertising and public relations campaigns. The dark side, however, is that many of these campaigns are unethical and the possibility of them backfiring and causing long-term brand damage is very real. To avoid that possibility follow PRSA’s code of ethics, especially regarding disclosure and honesty.

If you are interested in getting more information, please check out this paper on Dark Marketing.

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Comments Off Posted on by Shanny Morgenstern

Leaving Corporate to Love Agency Life

Posted in Admin

Morningstar Communications’ robust internship program introduces agency life in a great way. After completing an internship program with a major Midwest corporation, I was a little unsure about how much I would enjoy agency life. But I have to say, the past eight weeks have proven how great agency life is. There are three things that are very different about these two entities. At agencies, the work is very diverse, people are a lot more laid back and they have to keep better track of their time.

1. Diverse Products
In a corporation, generally the product and purpose are always the same every day of every week of every year. At an oranges corporation, the end-in-mind is always to sell more oranges. However, working for an agency allows you to think about selling oranges, peaches and pears all in the same day!

2. Laid Back
My corporate internship was fun, but Morningstar defines fun a completely different way. Agency meetings are filled with jokes. Work days are broken up with an occasional dance party. We even take time every month to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries at “Birthday Fun.” This time always consists of a good game of Taboo or word search. When people return from a long trip or celebrate a milestone (like expecting a new baby), they hang streamers and posters in their cubes.

The best part for me was probably the change in dress. Going from wearing business professional every day with heels and suits to jeans and a cute top has been amazing. I don’t have to go by the dry cleaners every week, because everything I wear can be washed and dried.

3. Time Management
The last major difference is the time factor. Since our time must translate into client initiatives, we have to keep track of everything we do rounding in 15-minute increments. During my corporate experience, I never had to keep track of anything. It wasn’t necessary for me to report the exact time I spent on a project. So, I just worked until I was done. Here, we have to track the minutes. It is the hardest thing for me to learn, because I have to make a conscious effort to write down start and stop times.

The language is completely different in that sense too. A project isn’t just for the orange corporation. It is for a job number that represents that project. So the conversation goes something like this, “Hey, Mel could you spend .25 time on this for ORG-801. Thanks!” Meaning, “Could you spend 15 minutes on a project for the Orange Corporation’s media relations program?” It has definitely been an adjustment.

I couldn’t be happier to be in this fast-paced and fun environment this summer. The unfortunate reality is that my internship is coming to a close. It is my hope that other interns out there will see the benefits to being able to work on multiple clients, have fun while you do it and learn how to manage their time. They are definitely two different worlds but most likely at some point in your career you will work for both.  MB

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Leveraging Google Analytics

Posted in Admin, Online Marketing

I’ve been doing some work with Google analytics lately and realized the benefits go beyond knowing how many hits a Web site gets regularly.  By analyzing which pages throughout the site are getting more visits, exits and bounces, I can see how site design and content play a role in the Web site’s success.

We are working on revising a Web site for a particular client and have found the analytics reports invaluable to the process.  One page on the site has a 100 percent bounce rate (which is devastatingly high), so we knew immediately it needed to be completely re-done.  That page is actually driving traffic away from the site.

It’s amazing how numbers and statistics have wormed their way into my word-oriented career, but they speak loudly.  Knowing how to effectively turn those numbers into strategic communication is definitely a skill to hone.

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Research: the beginning of every good media relations plan

Posted in Admin, Best Practices

VocusPR is one of the many tools I have been exposed to at Morningstar. When we were introduced, I was immediately blown away by the database’s existence. I always assumed that there was something like it, but I really didn’t imagine something as robust and user-friendly as it is. Its powerful search engine has allowed me to find multiple media outlets that cover subjects as minute as “adhesives” or “sanitation” within the same database that pinpoints “marketing” and “news” media outlets. Vocus enables our team to cater to local and national markets/outlets to meet our clients’ needs.

I always knew that communications professionals took the time to learn about publications before they “pitched” them, but I didn’t really understand the importance of research prior to the pitch. The past couple of weeks have been dedicated to research. And in this time, I have come to understand the importance and depth of research that takes place. Creating media lists and editorial calendars that target clients’ audiences is very important and pays off in the end with quantifiable results.

Being the PR nerd that I am, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Finding new publications and pinpointing their relevance for our clients is really interesting and actually fun. A lot of times, it takes creative thinking to find publications that target the right audience and cover the right subjects. After a long day of research, I feel like I have learned a lot, discovered hidden treasures and ultimately helped the client and our team take one step towards a more targeted media relations plan.

By highly targeting relevant publications in the research phase, we respect journalists’ valuable time by only pitching them stories that are relevant to their publications and beats. Additionally, we capture audiences and outlets that are most effective for our clients. Without prior research, we couldn’t do any of this.

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