Tag Archives: Creativity

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One Good Thing About Music…

Posted in Creativity and Design, Hannah's Posts

As I watched “The Voice” on Monday night, I couldn’t help but notice coach after coach offer the same pieces of advice to team members. If contestants wanted to win and advance, they needed to truly connect with the audience. It has been a running theme throughout the show.

“It’s not about giving you guys a task or just singing some random song,” said CeeLo Green, award-winning artist and coach. “I would love for it to connect to you in a personal way to where you can truly sing it with that conviction.”

How do you connect with an audience? Tell a story and try to get listeners to relate. Even if they can’t relate, work to get the audience to empathize and believe what you’re telling them.

Funny how marketing communications works in the same way as music; storytelling is essential. Now I am going to intertwine the two even more, by demonstrating how music is effectively used in TV advertisements, therefore telling fascinating stories and getting key messages across.

Admit it – this commercial wouldn’t be as riveting if it weren’t for this indie song coming out of the woodwork. Yes, the power of the World Wide Web is moving, but Alex Clare’s “Too Close” is what captivated people’s attention. Internet Explorer is seen as a somewhat outdated browser as it competes with newer browsers like Safari and Firefox. By using Clare’s soulful song that includes an electronic dubstep twist, Internet Explorer becomes fresh and trendy.

It’s a good thing Microsoft reached out to Clare, as the song has become increasingly popular after Clare had been dropped from his record label. This ad campaign definitely turned out to be a win-win for all involved parties.

When I saw this commercial for the first time, I had happy chills going down my spine. I still get excited when this ad comes on TV, even seven months later.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0B5vuAYk94

I can always turn to these hamsters if I need a good laugh. Despite Kia’s great sense of humor, the song choice is phenomenal. Electronic dance music is on the rise, and consistently appearing on Top 40 music charts. I could picture myself on the dance floor in “La La Land” from this song – “In My Mind” by Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl feat. Georgi Kay (Axwell remix). From Blake Griffin to the hamsters, Kia has been doing excellent advertising over the past couple of years.

No exaggeration here – Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw this Super Bowl commercial, as it impacted me in such a profound way. I have no connection to Detroit, but I am proud to be an American, and I do love a good a cappella choir. Eminem, originally from Detroit, affected the tone of the advertisement with his rugged “Lose Yourself” beat. Both music choices are strong and empowering.

Thank you, Microsoft, Kia and Chrysler, for taking me somewhere with your ads, from goose bumps rising on my arms, to a goofy grin plastered on my face as my eyes are glued to the TV screen.

“I get asked all the time, ‘What makes a really good song?’ And the only answer is, ‘If it takes you somewhere.’” –Rob Thomas, Matchbox Twenty front man, “The Voice”

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

First Impressions

Posted in Best Practices, Creativity and Design, Hannah's Posts, Online Marketing, Social Media, Tips and Tricks

It only takes a few seconds to form an opinion about someone or something. That’s why we’re often told that we need to present ourselves in the best way we know how – we never know who we’re going to run into. The same standard applies to social media usage. It’s all about that first impression.

If we are going to be assessed based on an initial impression, then we need to work on grooming ourselves. I’m not talking about the physical attributes in a profile picture (although that’s important too). I’m referring to the Twitter handle (@username). Here are a handful of suggestions on how to choose, or modify, your Twitter handle:

1. Be easy to find.

It is frustrating when you are trying to contact someone through Twitter and his or her Twitter handle doesn’t appear right away. Then you have to scroll through numerous accounts until you’re able to land on who you want to talk to. Use your first and last name when signing up for a Twitter account. If you’re worried about privacy settings, make your account private, or simply keep things you wouldn’t want the world to know to yourself.

2. Be unique.

I use the Twitter handle “@hannzbanans” because it is unique and easy to find. One night I responded to my university’s opinion section of the newspaper via Twitter, and my tweet was featured in the paper the following day. There I was: “@hannzbanans thinks fall is the best season of the year, thanks to football.” At first I was embarrassed that my Twitter handle was there for the student body to see. Then my dad told me he thought it was feminine and unique, and there was nothing I should be ashamed of. Why would I be? It’s memorable, therefore I’m likely to receive more mentions. When friends and family members see me, they yell and joke, “Hannzbanans!” It has stuck for good.

3. Be professional.

This may seem exclusive in some ways from tip #2. It depends on what message you’re trying to send. For example, when I graduated from college and started applying for jobs, I wondered if I should change my Twitter handle. I wondered if it didn’t come across as clean and professional. Okay, so it isn’t “@hbabcock” or something along those lines. “@hannzbanans” was the fun, creative twist to my name I came up with. “@hbabcock,” though? Yawn. My last name doesn’t particularly stand out.

@hannzbanans” may not be the most clean-cut username in the Twittersphere, but at least potential partners know that I have an edge. I know how to cut up, yet I can be serious too, which is portrayed through the variety in my tweets.

And this should go without saying: No profanity. Hopefully you’ll want to be taken seriously, even if you are trying to be a comedian.

4. Only use numbers if you have an attachment to one.

A lot of people tag numbers onto their Twitter handles when their desired username is already taken. Numbers take away from the unique aspect of a username, and can make it harder to find the exact account they’re looking for.

I looked up several professional athletes to see whether or not they used their jersey numbers. Nope, not @kingjames, @drewbrees or @PujolsFive, just to name a few. If you insist on including a number in your username, then aim to have just two digits. Otherwise you could look like a spammer.

5. Keep it short.

Who doesn’t enjoy getting retweeted? You could miss that aspect of Twitter if you have a long username. If other users can’t retweet you without going over 140 characters, there’s a good chance hash tags could get taken out. Or even worse, your username. Then you wouldn’t get the credit you may deserve. A good rule of thumb is to keep your Twitter handle at 15 characters or less.

Pick one or two words that describe you in a nutshell. Hello, Twitter handle. Hello, new followers. First impressions are everything.

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3 Comments Posted on by Hannah Babcock

Unleash Your Inner Creative

Posted in Best Practices, Creativity and Design

This week is World Creativity and Innovation Week, and it’s the perfect reminder to step out of your comfort zone, welcome new ideas and think creatively. Too often we are so consumed with our day-to-day we forget to challenge our thinking and embrace new possibilities. Here are a few ways you can channel your creativity this week, and all year round:

Get up and move.  It’s probably no surprise cubicles can stifle creativity. If you are looking to be inspired, get up and take a walk around the office.

Embrace a new perspective. Try assessing the problem from a different point of view – i.e. your customer’s. Looking at the world through different lenses can help you gain clarity and consider new options.

Be ready for genius at any moment. Some of the best ideas come at unexpected times. Keep a notepad next to your bed. Use the voice-recording feature on your smartphone. Always be prepared to capture thoughts as they come to you.

Be passionate. Make time for hiking, painting, cooking, whatever it is that inspires you.

Accept some ideas will be better than others. Some concepts will be brilliant and others will fall short. The sooner you accept this, the more confident and successful you will be.

If you’re interested in additional tips on how to be more creative and innovative at work, check out Hallmark Business Connections’ blog.

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Comments Off Posted on by Michelle Boyd

What defines creativity?

Posted in Best Practices, Creativity and Design, Executive Insights, Sheri's Posts

During the last month or so, the subject of creativity loomed large on the radar screen of clients, colleagues and other businesspeople in my network. Conversations revolved around how to be more creative, infusing creativity into the development process, and pushing the creative envelope on campaigns. It got me thinking about what truly is creative. What does the label mean?

It turns out, creativity is in the eye of the beholder. Just check with these creative types, featured in a recent issue of Fast Company. You’ll see how subjective the idea of creativity really is, and how often creative ideas get shoved aside for the tried and true.

To be honest, I’ve never considered myself a “Big Idea” person. When it comes to thinking outside the box, I really have to push through my personal self-doubt. Which is why I especially enjoyed this blogpost about NOT thinking outside the box. Like Pallotta, I find the best fresh ideas aren’t necessarily pushing the envelope, but rather providing a new perspective while tying to the overall strategic goals we are focused on accomplishing.

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Comments Off Posted on by Sheri Johnson

Wanted: Brainstorming Skills

Posted in Best Practices, Creativity and Design, Morningstar Communications Updates

I recently represented Morningstar Communications at Kansas City’s PRSA Day, which included a career fair for college students interested in public relations.  I loved how enthusiastic and driven the students were—asking question after question about what experience makes them the most attractive to employers in the PR field.

One student asked me something particularly interesting. She said, “I feel like one of my strengths is coming up with creative ideas in a group brainstorming session. Is that something that I should write on my resume or bring up in interviews?” Absolutely.

Divergent thinking, or coming up with multiple solutions to a problem or a question, is a skill that is so incredibly important today not only in the PR field, but in multiple industries.

Brainstorming sessions are where the best ideas happen. It’s amazing how different people offer different perspectives and ideas have a snowball effect. I loved a quote I recently saw in Fast Company from designer Aza Raskin, who said, “I love to take a spark of curiosity and pour fuel on it.” Brainstorming sessions are like pouring fuel on creative sparks.

At Morningstar Communications we frequently use group brainstorms to come up with new ideas for clients. Only one rule exists at our brainstorming sessions: no “fire hosing” other people’s ideas. If you make fun of an idea, you have to wear a fireman’s hat as a funny sort of punishment for “fire hosing.”  All ideas are welcome at the brainstorming table.

Below are links to a couple of interesting articles with advice for those interested in a career in PR.  Both mention the importance of creativity and curiosity, among  other important skills for new PR professionals to hone.

7 Essential Tips for PR Newbies- Petya N. Gergieva
The PR pro of today: What do employers really want?
–Arik Hanson

What skills do you think are important for employees in the PR industry?

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Comments Off Posted on by Holly Eckold

Capturing your Creativity

Posted in Best Practices, Creativity and Design

Photo credit: http://risingpyramid.org/

You know the funny YouTube videos your coworkers circulate throughout the office every now and then? Did you know that those can actually help boost your creativity? According to Time, if you are in a happy mood you are more likely to think creatively, even if that happy mood springs simply from watching a funny YouTube video.

Creativity is incredibly important in the workplace, but it’s not always easy to harness. We all have times when we feel on our game at work, and the creative juices are flowing.  We also have times when it feels like our creativity wells have been sucked dry.  Some of us are the most creative at the beginning of the work day. (I write best in the morning—post coffee of course).  Others are stellar employees post-lunch.  Is it possible to capture creativity on cue?

I was interested in finding out how to harness creativity. I researched a bunch of creativity tips and tricks, many of which suggested moving around, doodling, and listening to music. However, in the midst of all of these tips, I came across a very simple one: slow down.

Our jobs are fast paced, and it oftentimes feels like a race to the finish to keep up with all of the incoming e-mails and our massive to-do lists.  However, Steve Prentice, author of Cool Down: Getting Further by Going Slower, argues that our “addiction to immediacy” leaves little room for creativity. He challenges us to (gasp!) not look at an e-mail right as it comes into our inbox.  Instead, he encourages us to concentrate on our current task at hand with a mindset of quality and creativity.  The “get it out the door as quick as I can” mentality does not give ourselves time to brainstorm creative ideas. Prentice advises scheduling in some free time at work to allow ourselves time for imagination and new ideas.

So slow it down, turn off the electronic distractions for just a little bit, and let your mind wander to new ideas. Also, to see how creativity and success coincide, check out Fast Company’s list of the most innovative companies of 2011.

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Comments Off Posted on by Holly Eckold

Auld Lang Syne

Posted in Best Practices, Integrated Marketing (IMC), Internal Communications, Media Relations

The flipping of the calendar from 2010 to 2011 fills me with hope and promise. It’s nice to have that fresh start that comes with the beginning of a new year. While I like to focus on what’s to come, the end of the year gives us reason to look back. I’m taking this opportunity to share some of my favorite 2010 blog posts from here at Morningstar Communications. It’s pretty cool that I get to work with some really intelligent and thoughtful bloggers.

Early last year, Eric Morgenstern wrote about how Social media is here to stay. In a year when so much has happened in the social media space, it’s really interesting to see what the social media sentiment was in early 2010.

My colleague, Tricia Jaworski, dedicated some of her blog space to talking about the backbone of PR – media relations. She takes it to 11 by talking about national media relations and how luck and strategy plays in to each opportunity.

This post about filler words by Tyler Dustin has stuck with me since I read it. I was guilty of adding a “just” when it wasn’t necessary. Not so much anymore.

Morningstar Communications always has outstanding interns, who know their stuff. This post from Holly Eckold nailed how to tell your story to capture and connect audiences.

Employee communication has always been near and dear, so Matt Tidwell’s post talking about employee engagement and communications really drove the message home.

And of course, it never hurts to give another nod to the boss. Eric’s three-part series on macro-trends is worthy of another look. The first post is on transparency, the second is on privacy and the third is on connectivity.

There were so many other great posts in 2010 so look through our archives if you get a chance. You’ll quickly see what I already knew – I get to work with smart people who will keep on blogging in 2011. Happy New Year!

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Comments Off Posted on by Rachel Spear

Engaged employees result in greater innovation

Posted in Best Practices

A recent article from the GALLUP Management Journal, titled Creating a Culture of Innovation shared the key ingredient to an innovative and creative culture: engaged employees.

I found this article interesting since this fall, Morningstar Communications hosted an Illumination Session about engaging employees. In this article the author, Jason Krieger, states that “Engaged employees share their ideas more often, generate more ideas, and generate better ideas.”

To achieve a culture of innovations Jason recommends organizations:

  • Hire people who bring “innovation talent” to the team
  • Understand what innovation role each employee plays on his or her work team and teach managers how to use their team members most effectively
  • Know how your company compares to others in terms of innovation
  • Gain feedback from best and worst customers
  • Build an employee engagement program
  • Track and measure innovation success

Read Jason’s full article for further insights.

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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim

Go forth, brave chameleon!

Posted in Best Practices, Community Leadership

I recently had the opportunity to sit on a panel at “Wild On PRSSA Day” at the Kansas City Zoo. PRSSA is PRSA’s student organization for aspiring PR professionals. “Wild On” was a daylong conference for students to receive insight on the industry, get resume feedback and tips on marketing themselves as they launch their careers.

This was a great opportunity presented to the students and I was happy to be a part of it. I was also proud to represent Morningstar Communications to talk about “A Day in the Life of a PR Pro” from an agency prospective.

We talked about everything from maintaining a healthy work-life balance to professional organizations to the increase of social media in integrated marketing programs.

One of the recurring themes of the discussion was adaptability. The group seemed surprised to learn about the different hats we must wear and how nimble we must be as PR professionals. After listening to the other two panelists’ examples of the need to be adaptable and quick on your feet and comparing them to my own, I was a little surprised as well. Until that discussion, I never realized how much adapting I did in a given day. The more thoughtful questions they asked, the more I thought about the importance of adapting. The ability to adapt is important because it allows for excellent service. Being forced to adapt is important because it demands creativity.

It was a great group to interact with and we learned a lot from each other. I’m interested to hear how others find themselves adapting or switching direction on a daily basis. How do you react? Do you embrace it? Refuse it? What are some positive outcomes that have occurred as a result of your adaptability?

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Comments Off Posted on by Tyler Dustin

Packaged lunches brighten day, make us thankful for great clients

One of the distinct pleasures of my job is working with great clients. This summer, we began working with Tension International Automation Solutions (TIAS), a subsidiary of Tension Envelope Corporation (they have a big sign on top of their building just south of downtown, kinda like the Western Auto sign). They design and build automation systems for central fill, mail order and specialty pharmacies.
Tension Packaging

One of the key things that makes them special as a company is the scalability and flexibility their systems offer. This is especially important for pharmacies that are waiting to see how changes in healthcare are going to affect their businesses. You can check out videos that show what they do — it’s actually pretty fascinating.

One of the key things that makes them special as a client is they are simply great people to work with, and they’re super-enthusiastic about their business. Last week, they hosted us for a working lunch. We were greeted with our lunches packaged and labeled — a specialty of the packaging side of their business. Though it was an extra effort they didn’t have to do, it brightened our day and reminded us we are lucky to work with many fun people, including the folks at Tension.

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Comments Off Posted on by clara
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