Tag Archives: Morningstar Communications

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A Lesson in Rebranding for Communicators of Every Career Stage

Posted in Best Practices, Laura's Posts

I had the privilege of attending the KC/IABC’s monthly breakfast this August. The topic, Rebrand for Success, is one every communicator can learn from, despite career stage.


Presented by branding expert, Clifton Alexander of REACTOR Design Studio, the presentation provided me with a better and deeper understanding of the rebranding process. Here are a few key takeaways:

 

  • Are you ready for a rebrand?
    Clifton recommends asking yourself and/or your client this question right off the bat. It’s important to understand what a brand is and what a rebrand consists of. Do you want a light brand refresh to give your organization a more modern look, or do you need to do a complete overhaul of the brand starting from scratch?

 

  • Identify and examine all aspects of the current brand by asking questions such as:
    - Is the brand consistent across all channels?
    - What is the brand personality?
    - Is it timeless/enduring?
    - How do others view the brand and organization?

 

  • Ensure a smooth brand launch.
    Rebranding does not occur overnight, and it takes time and dedication to ensure a smooth launch. Develop a launch strategy that strengthens the new or refreshed brand by remaining transparent throughout the process. Remember: be intentional with launch timing, and be sure to share the new brand with all internal audiences before revealing it to external audiences.

Have a key tip or best practice regarding rebranding or a successful rebrand story? Share it with us on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!

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Leave a comment Posted on by Laura Jung

Five Principles Put Us in Control of Our Success

Posted in Best Practices, Morningstar Communications Updates, Susan's Posts

This week, one of my favorite sites, Mashable, published a blog that bears repeating on our own blog: “What Are the Best-Kept Secrets for Career Success?

The article pulls the question from Quora, a site that enables people to ask questions and get answers from people with first-hand experience.

A reader asked: “What are the best-kept secrets of successful business people? Not only the feel-good, socially acceptable secrets, but the ‘dark-side’ secrets as well.” Dolly Singh, acting head of talent at Oculus VR provided a response.

Singh addressed the query by diving into the age-old question about luck versus preparedness. She wrote that despite your lot in life, readers can follow five basics to achieve success. By following the ‘Principles of Courtship,’ Singh noted you can succeed by equally applying the principles to success in your personal and professional undertakings.

Since it’s a rather long post, I’ve paraphrased:

1. The Principle: The Art of Pursuit (Observe, assess and calibrate)

The gist: Before you can accomplish your dreams, you must identify them and prepare. So, do your homework first!

2. The Principle: The Impact of Energy (Confidence is the closest thing to magic. Unconscious attitudes of the human mind impact all social interactions).

The gist: Your unconscious mind makes decisions based on your energy and interpretations. Unconscious signals impact others. You decide the subconscious impressions you give off. Despite the situation, choose confidence.

3. The Principle: The Wisdom of Surrender (Zero tolerance for anything that doesn’t add positive value to your life)

The gist: The article states, “In order to have the greatest impact on the world, we must guard our energy, keeping on eye on how it is spent and how it is replenished.” Be aware of red flags and do not ignore your gut feelings. Your time, energy and your emotions are some of your most important (READ: limited) resources – don’t waste them! Your relationships and commitments should lend themselves positively to your life. They should never deplete you of your positives.

4. The Principle: Drive Your Success (Challenges impact everyone; it is how you respond that matters).

The gist: Acknowledge that you lead your life, despite challenges and circumstances. Make the decision to move forward, unlocking your potential. No one else can do this for you. Relate back to the first principal: identify what it is you want, and then let nothing stop you in your pursuit!

5. The Principle: Get What You Give (Consistently create value for others and receive the most opportunities).

The gist: Look for ways to provide value and goodwill to others daily. Actions become behaviors, the foundation you create today will define your lot in life tomorrow. Be positive, honest, respectful and responsible in your personal, work and public lives.

At Morningstar Communications, by focusing on clarity, connecting with people and changing attitudes and behaviors, we help our clients look to the future by solidifying their strengths and growth strategies. What other advice do you have to drive your our own successes forward both personally and professionally? Share with us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/morningstarcommunications

SH Blog Pic 1
  Source: QuotePixel
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Leave a comment Posted on by Susan Hinds

Be visual. Be concise. Be connected.

Posted in Best Practices

The age-old sentiment, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” makes it easy to understand why Snapchat, a messaging application allowing users to share timed pictures or videos for up to 10 seconds, has become so popular.

According to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegal, more than 700 million snapchats are sent daily.

As an avid Snapchatter myself, curiosity got the better of me when I was introduced to Snapchat’s newest feature “Our Story” during the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. Our Story presents Snapchatters with a curated stream of pictures and videos from users at large events. After clicking “Brazil Final Live,” I began watching several minutes of user-submitted content from the World Cup.

This new feature, which went live for all users this weekend, created an entirely unique experience. The story came from the community perspective, not the individual. Passion and excitement colored the snaps of the World Cup attendees, and no translation was needed to convey the emotion brought on by the event. The Our Story feature allowed me to supplement traditional coverage with pictures and videos from different cultural perspectives, creating a truly integrated experience.

While many traditional communication methods remain steadfast, it’s important to recognize new trends. Snapchat capitalizes on the changing landscape of communication in three ways to effectively engage users and create new content experiences:

1. Visual Communication

According to Hubspot, 80 percent of people remember what they see and do before they remember what they hear and read. Furthermore, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. With seemingly endless content, people are more inclined to interact with what is easiest to process – pictures and videos.

2. Concise Content

The information cycle today is continuous. Content becomes irrelevant at a quicker pace than it did 10 years ago. Snapchat’s 10-second limit on each message encourages users to internalize messages quickly and efficiently before they are gone. The key is to create simple, engaging and concise content – a regular practice at Morningstar Communications.

3. Connectivity

People desire constant connectivity. Whether it is informal communication, like Snapchat, or traditional media, consumers want to be involved in the communication loop every waking second.

Be visual. Be concise. Be connected. Snapchat thrives on these principles. Although not every communication effort will follow this construct, these guidelines will help you share the right information in the right way. At Morningstar Communications we strive to excel in these three areas in each piece of work we do. Whether we are writing for the web, pitching or creating blog posts, our end goal is the same: provide excellent work for each of our clients.

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Leave a comment Posted on by Paige Kauffman

Writing for the Web

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

Website redesign - alongside technology advancements - are all the rage these days. As an integrated marketing communications firm, at Morningstar Communications, we help clients hone their key messages. A website redesign includes much more than stronger look and feel. While an engaging design will catch the eye, a solid message will capture the mind. That's where we come in.

We're often brought in to website projects on both a strategic and tactical level. We help clients strategically determine what information should be conveyed on the website then narrow down to web copy creation.

As we help our clients create captivating web copy, and work on our own, we use the following tactical tips that help guide our counsel and strategy:

Use traditional headers.

Web writing - just like any other - needs to be concise. However, marketers and other businesspeople sometimes try so hard to get straight to the points that instead of using attention-grabbing headers, each web page has a one- to three-word label.

Similar to any other article or marketing piece, a website should tell a story. A headline that reads, "Morningstar Communications clarifies, connects and changes," fares much better and entices users to keep reading compared to something like, "Morningstar Communications' Strategy."

Write for scannability.

We're busy bees who prefer the "USA Today" versions, as Eric Morgenstern says. We want to know what we need to now. The average web user spends approximately 60 seconds maximum on one webpage, so it's best to lead with the most important information first.

Like we do in news writing, embrace the inverted pyramid structure by moving a conclusion summing up your article to the very top - now acting as your intro and telling your busy audience all it needs to know. Write it in a way that will encourage your readers to learn more.

Other excellent tips for readability:

  • Utilize subheads that efficiently summarize your webpage, article or blog post.
     
  • Draft bulleted lists instead of paragraphs where possible. Try not to exceed seven words per bullet point.
     
  • Write short paragraphs only containing one topic each. We recently learned from Julie Bartels Smith in our staff professional development day that it's best to keep sentences to 14 words or less.

Tell a story.

Encourage your readers to learn more, and always provide a call to action. Again, be concise. Being concise is different from being too brief and inauthentic. On the other hand, don't overload your readers with more information than they need, and don't use jargon. Embrace recipient-oriented communication and be "human" while telling your audience what it needs to hear.

And don't let the bulleted lists and shorter paragraphs limit your ability to tell a story. You can still exercise creativity and demonstrate your company's personality. 

If you embrace the above tips, your website will come together and provide value for your business in no time. What tips would you add? Leave your thoughts in the comments section or write to us on Facebook.

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

Striking the Right Work Life Balance

Posted in Best Practices, Suchitra's Posts

With technological advancements it’s possible for us to access our work from almost any place at any time. This allows many of us to bring our work home. While access to technology allows us to spend more time at home and meet our business commitments, it is still very important to draw a distinct line between work and life.

People who are constantly on the job can be susceptible to stress and burnout and are known to be at a greater risk for health issues. Both productivity and performance levels can fall below par when an employee doesn’t plan time to relax and decompress on a regular basis.

Balance is vital to success both in and out of the workplace. Here are six ways to achieve a work/life balance that will benefit you and your employer.

Flexible work schedules

Allowing employees the flexibility to choose their arrival and departure times, without changing their expected weekly work hours helps foster a company culture that promotes happy and fulfilled employees. This not only enables them to be in charge of arranging their own schedules, but it also helps them be more dedicated to their work each day.

Limit PTO carry over into another year

Paid time off is part of the benefits package at most companies to encourage employees to do just that - take time off. Limiting the number of hours an employee can carry over to the next year will persuade them to plan vacations in a timely manner. This allows them to rejuvenate and be more productive during working hours. Companies should implement a "use by" date to encourage employees to take time off.

Lead by example

If you, as a manager, are responding to emails or calling in on meetings while you are on paid time off, this sends the message to employees that they can do the same. This affects personal choices for work and life. After all, leaders set the standards for the company.

Set up expectations specific to vacations

With employees connected to the office 24 hours a day electronically, a work/life balance is very challenging. It should be clearly specified that when an employee is ready to leave on vacation, it is okay for them to send an email announcing their vacation and that they will have limited access to emails and voicemails. Honor the employee's time off by not contacting them unless it's an emergency. Of course, it is the joint responsibility of both the employee and manager to ensure there is another person who can be a point of contact while they are out of town.

Corporate culture activities

Organizing company culture activities several times throughout the year helps build team spirit and strengthen relationships at work. Activities can be as elaborate as a BBQ party or a bowling night or as simple as a happy hour.

Expect employees to work hard, but not all the time

It's okay to expect employees to work hard, even if that includes long hours or weekends, but it's only acceptable sparingly. Employee burnout and stress are byproducts of working conditions and can have long-term consequences for a business, such as low employee retention or a negative company culture. Exercise moderation when it comes to working hours for employees. When you offer flexibility, employees will be more willing to go the extra mile when needed.
 

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Comments Off Posted on by Suchitra Kamath

Find Success by Practicing “Complementary Collaboration”

Posted in Best Practices, Laura's Posts

We’ve all heard of the infamous book titled, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” As this book, and countless others point out, men and women have differences in relation to how they think and how they communicate. These differences can be an issue on a personal relationship level, but also on a professional relationship level.


I recently read a Fast Company article that discussed the need for women and men to collaborate in the workplace in order to accomplish the highest success. As a woman in the workplace myself, this caught my attention.


The article introduces an interesting concept called, “complementary collaboration,” which is defined as, “simply recognizing, respecting, and embracing the fact that men and women bring different but often hugely complementary skills to the table that, if nurtured and developed, can be a very powerful and highly successful combination for any business.”


Interested in practicing “complementary collaboration” – assuming you don’t already – in your business? Check out these simple tips from the article:


1. Be authentic
“Women and men often feel they have to act a certain way in the workplace in order to be successful. However, a lack of sincerity can be felt a mile away and only perpetuates the problem, so it’s best to choose the authentic route and just be yourself.”


2. Embrace and play up your strengths
“Most women, irrespective of their position, bring a high level of perceptiveness and emotional IQ that’s critical for leading teams and growing a business. So, rather than worrying about the skills they don’t have, women should recognize their talents and double down on them, while men can help ensure more women are part of the mix from the onset for optimal business success.”


3. Support one another
“Try to make an effort to connect with other women in your company and industry by attending networking and skill development events, or by simply organizing your own casual meetups and be sure to involve men in some of these activities as well.”


4. Introduce and lead change
“Merely complaining about something you could absolutely play a hand in changing, or at least improving, isn’t helpful. Instead, take the bull by the horns and pave the way for change.”


I was excited to share this article with the rest of the Morningstar Communications team because we already practice “complementary collaboration,” by embracing our strengths, supporting one another, serving as leaders in our various areas of expertise, and being authentic.


Does your company practice “complementary collaboration?” Share your thoughts and comments with us on Facebook.

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Comments Off Posted on by Laura Jung

Fresh Perspective on Professional Transitions

Posted in Best Practices, Kelsey's Posts, Morningstar Communications Updates, Tips and Tricks

Through August, the final days of summer vacation also bring another intern season to an end. A few days ago someone asked me what my favorite part about my internship was, and without hesitation, I rattled off about six or seven sentences. The truth is, I couldn’t pick my favorite part because everything was my favorite. Working with numerous account teams, my strategic communication skills grew exponentially, and I was truly integrated into the team.

Internships provide real-world education and valuable experiences, and should also be fun and enjoyable – especially if it’s in the field you plan to enter and stick with. With help from a recent U.S. News article and the knowledge I have acquired throughout my time as an intern at Morningstar Communications, I have compiled a list of three insights about joining the workforce, either as an intern or a new employee.

  1. Your resume can only get you so far:
    Landing an internship is a lot of work. As application deadlines approach, you spend hours editing and re-editing your cover letter and perfecting your resume to include skills and achievements to impress your potential employer. After learning about the company you apply for the job and cross your fingers. Sounds familiar, right?

    If called in for an interview it is especially valuable to take the time and fully prepare. Your resume might get you there but previous experience and knowledge can only get you so far. You should practice answering various potential questions about your experience and hobbies. In a recent article, Forbes outlines how both types of questions allow the interviewer to see if you fit in with their workplace culture. Talking about your skills and expertise is one thing, but if hired, you are expected to back it up by producing great work.
     
  2. Work is different from school:
    While both places evaluate your output, there are many differences between college and the real world. For example, in college you receive grades and written feedback, and in the real world you receive paychecks and verbal reviews. But there are also more significant adjustments to get used to.

    Missing a deadline and submitting a project a little late might not seem like a major deal to some college students, but at your job it can diminish your credibility and prevent the development of your career. The work you are doing as an intern directly impacts not only your colleagues and clients, but also your future. Do you want an outstanding recommendation from your supervisor for other personal and professional opportunities? Break the “lazy” college student habits you might have acquired over the years, and submit work on time and in a professional manner.
     
  3. You don’t know everything, and that’s okay:
    As an intern, you don’t have the same level of experience as your fellow associates, and that’s okay. The important thing is to remember there is room for improvement. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help. As an intern, and sometimes a new full-time employee, you aren’t expected to know everything, but you are expected to utilize your resources, research your options and provide the best possible solution. Get to know your co-workers and learn from them. Ask for feedback on your work and identify what you can do to improve.
     

Internships link to your future. Use your time wisely and learn as much as you can. Whether you are finishing up your internship, or just beginning to apply for a position, keep these three things in mind as you transition into the professional world.

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Comments Off Posted on by Kelsey Wolf

Fùtbol and Sponsorships

Posted in Best Practices, Integrated Marketing (IMC), Shanny's Posts

Fùtbol is what the rest of world calls soccer and it appears as if its popularity is starting to climb in the USA. Fueled by a combination of Brazilian-style celebrations, the success of the USA Men's team, and the power of social media, millions of people in the USA became soccer fans during the 2014 World Cup.

In his New York Times article, "Germany 1. World Cup Fever 1,000," Stuart Elliott shared some of the statistics and engagement numbers for the World Cup sponsors. Literally millions of people tweeted, posted on Facebook and watched special World Cup videos, as well as many of the games.

Visa World cup Sponsorship

Ricardo Fort, senior vice president for global sponsorship marketing for VISA said,

“We were not expecting to have the interest and engagement in the United States that we did. It was unbelievable.”According to Adweek, there were more than 55,000 twitter mentions per minute about Tim Howard during his record-breaking performance against Belgium. He added nearly half a million followers during the World Cup tournament. 

Sports marketing is particularly suited to today's digitally sophisticated and mobile audiences. By definition, fans are zealous. Fans want to share their passions with other fans and they are willing to engage in real-time.

And the best part, sports marketing is scalable - Visa, Kia and Coca Cola have the resources to sponsor big international events like the World Cup, but smaller companies can be successful as well. The Roasterie has created a coffee flavor in honor of Sporting KC. Grundfos Pumps sponsors the fountains at Royals stadium.

When you are planning sponsorships we recommend the following: 

  • Budget two to three times the cost of the sponsorship to activate it. Promote your sponsorship in all of your other communication pieces. Have company events and entertain clients at the venue. Use tie-ins with the sponsorship to make the world a better place.
     
  • Be selective in which teams or players you sponsor. Your sponsorships should strengthen your relationships with the people who matter most to your company's success. If your biggest client is a huge Mizzou fan, then it might make sense for you to sponsor them, even if you are a Jayhawk in your heart.
  • Be selective in how many sponsorships you have. You will get more return on your investment with fewer, deeper sponsorships.
  • Zusi and Besler sm
    Make sure the team or player you sponsor represents the values that your company holds. If your company emphasizes loyalty and long-term relationships, then sponsoring players like Matt Besler and Graham Zusi makes sense - both Besler and Zusi recently turned down more lucrative contracts to stay in Kansas City.

Soccer is poised to take off in a big way in the USA. Smart marketers will figure out a way to take advantage of its growing popularity.

For now, "I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!"

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Comments Off Posted on by Shanny Morgenstern

Running Teaches Us to Challenge Ourselves in All Aspects of Life

Posted in Morningstar Communications Updates, Susan's Posts, Tips and Tricks

I’ve recently taking up running. This is a big deal for me. While I enjoy other exercise, I have never enjoyed running. So, why start running now?

I am involved with a national organization called Team Red White and Blue, which focuses on enriching the lives of military veterans by engaging them with their local community one physical and social activity at a time. As a veteran’s wife, I became active in the group with my husband last year, and then I joined the leadership ranks this spring with the desire to further my involvement.

The Kansas City chapter has a lot of very active runners, so, I began to run… slowly. Now, several weeks into my zero-to-5k program with Team Red White and Blue, I’m improving – running faster, stronger and better. I’m even starting to enjoy it because I like the challenge. It is teaching me to push beyond where I thought I could go in a space I’ve always been uncomfortable. When you think about the bigger picture – isn’t that what it’s all about? Seizing opportunities to push outside of our comfort zones and challenging ourselves to grow beyond our current capacity in all aspects of our lives?

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This theme easily translates into our professional lives and professional development. With the realization that I can do something new physically, I have to acknowledge that I can also take on the challenge of doing more to advance myself professionally. I can expand my involvement with my local professional chapters, blog more regularly, attend additional after hours networking events, and/or initiate new business relationships on behalf of my agency and clients. Some of these things might be a little scary, and you might join me in feeling occasionally out of your element in some of these professional scenes, but you’ll never know if you don’t challenge yourself to push beyond that first step.

Just like running, take a look at how you can renew your own professional development and get inspired by a new route, a fresh track or a new motivation. You’ll never know how you can grow if you don’t challenge yourself.

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Comments Off Posted on by Susan Hinds

Facebook Marketing – Fail?

Posted in Hannah's Posts, Online Marketing, Social Media

A little more than a month ago, Facebook declined organic reach for company pages. While news sources disagree and firmly believe it's Facebook's ploy to encourage advertising, Facebook insists it has everything to do with increased user activity, translating to floods of content and its need to clean it up and deliver the most relevant messages to users.

Can't hate Facebook for that, right? We apply this principle to our business every day.

But if this is truly in place, and we aren't reaching the people who matter most to us and engaging as often, why should we maintain a Facebook presence at all? Why should we spend resources on a declining controlled media channel? I'll give you a few solid reasons businesses still should:

1. You can still strike a chord.

There is a method to this madness. Videos, photos and company updates resonate with a company page's fans more than links to other thought leadership pieces. Ever notice on your personal account that the articles your friends are most likely viewing are the ones that show up at the top? For instance, my closest friends are obsessed with Buzzfeed, therefore, funny stories and Top 30 lists cover my newsfeed.

Think about what your audience is up to. If there is significant buzz about something, jump into the conversation on behalf of your business. That's where you're more likely to float to the top of your followers' feeds. 

2. Facebook is one of the first places people conduct their research.

As Eric mentioned in his recent blog post, we visit an organization’s website and conduct a search before we meet in-person. Facebook and LinkedIn are typically the first two sites to appear at the top of the search page. Make positive first impressions by consistently updating these social networks. You might not appear at the top of users' newsfeeds as often as before, but you're still engaging unique visitors who could potentially invest in your business.

3. You're judged on where you do and do not participate. 

Businesses find value in a Google+ account because it helps boost SEO. While people don't engage on this platform as often as they do on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, imagine what your company's absence looks like when one of your most loyal fans logs on and can't find you. Your credibility diminishes, and depending on the person his or her allegiance might weaken.

Engage in all channels most applicable to your business. Even if they don't provide immediate business benefits, you'll uncover their value over time.

What do you think about Facebook's move? Does it make sense? If not, how should it accommodate those businesses that heavily rely on the social media platform to drive purchase behavior? Let us know on our own Facebook page.

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock
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