B-MUSED: OUR BLOG

Writing: An Endangered Skill?

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” –Lao Tzu 

I’ve always been very fond of this quote. (That’s right, I’m a quote collector.) It’s interesting, thinking back to a year ago and my first few months at Company B – realizing things I considered challenging at the time are now easy and integral parts of my day.

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Becca interviewed Bonnie during her internship.

Becca’s Brand Breakdown

Hi! I’m Becca, Company B’s newest intern. For the last month of high school, instead of dreary homework and rigorous tests, I’ve had the pleasure of working at Company B. For my first project as an intern I chose two brands to investigate on social media. I began by trying to find the brands that were most popular among my friends on Facebook. As I narrowed down my choices, I realized that similar brands had discordant numbers.

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The New PR

Coming off a big anniversary for Company B, (6 years!) it’s only natural that a sense of nostalgia is washing over HQ. For the same reason everyone loves a good #TBT, reflecting on past successes is one of our favorite things to do; as for set backs, a necessary one.

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gift-giving

Why Your Brand Should Have a Gift Guide

Seth Godin just came out with his holiday gift guide. I trust his opinions, so I enjoyed clicking through his curated group of quirky products looking for ideas. My favorites? Brooklyn-built headphones and a Bob Dylan collection to match. I don’t have a giftee for either, but never mind, what I really loved was how well those products align with Seth’s brand. They’re insider-y and should make you feel smart and thoughtful when you give them. Like Seth.

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Promotions and Prospects – Coordinator at Company B

I did it guys, I’m in.  You can call me, “Coordinator Kim.”  Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Yes that’s right, Company B has graciously hired me as a full time employee.  I am so excited to join this team in such an important capacity and everyone has welcomed me with open arms!  The bar has been raised for my responsibilities and I have to admit that, just like when I started as an intern, I’m also very nervous.

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The Perks of Event Prep

For a while now we’ve been prepping for a big event for a Company B client.  It’s been a lot of work and running around and sometimes a little stressful as we come down to the wire this week.  But I’m happy to report on a day at HQ that was got to spend doing some seriously fun prepping –  SMOOTHIE MAKING!

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Join the Celebration

 

BOY, has it been a busy month at Company B!  And with Independence Day celebrations upon us, it’s staying busy as ever.

Let me confess that I’ve started to nerd out with all this new-found knowledge of marketing and branding.  My friends have commented on how conversations with me often lead to talk of new social media features, online marketing campaigns I’m fascinated with, the dissonance between a large Twitter following and a loyal customer base.  I can’t help it, I’m still exploring this wide world of branding.  Also, I’m inherently a nerd.

So this Fourth of July, I just want to talk real quick about my favorite campaign that our freedom as Americans has apparently inspired.

I love Target.  From the dollar section that gave me a great Father’s Day gift, (a beer flight set for $7?  I’m in.) to completely furnishing my college dorm room every single year, I’m hooked.  Target is my one-stop shop for clothing, groceries, beauty products, just about anything.  And this holiday they are offering not just great products, but great opportunities as well.

Target has teamed up with FEED, an organization that sells bags, clothes and other accessories that provides meals for impoverished peoples all over the world.  FEED USA, the partnership project with Target’s exclusive collection that came out this Tuesday not only supports a great cause, but it’s also pretty fabulous.  Org founder, former model Lauren Bush, describes the line, “I wanted it to reflect a modern Americana. It’s really fun, summery back-to-school essentials, done in a way that’s not overly designed.”  And every product has a number printed on it, signifying exactly how many meals for hungry Americans your purchase generated.

FEED Love With Love Pillows

Feed Love With Love Pillows

There’s clothing, candles and canisters, alongside bicycles, bags, button downs and bakeware, and they all have that USA flavor.  If you can’t make up your mind, Target put together a series of “Looks,” FEED outfits you can buy all in one shot.  Which is great, but as I have an obsession with home furnishings, my purchase will be either the Feed Love With Love Decorative Pillow or the Fabric Storage Bins.  Kinda also really want a tote bag…. I digress.

FEED Fabric Bins.

Feed Fabric Bins

The thing that gets me is their choices of social media exposure.  FEED USA has a great video about their project and goals, including raising awareness of hunger in America.  A lovely video, I’d say.  Target’s In The Community Pinterest board has a few good pins about FEED.  But Target Corporation has a huge social media following; 14k subscribers on YouTube, 21 million likes on Facebook, 707k followers on Twitter, 43k on Instagram, and even 15k on Vine, the newest of the new!  Those are some numbers!  But none of those five platforms have made any move to seriously promote this huge campaign, which is the first thing you see on Target’s homepage.  In fact, it looks like someone was on vacation this past week, as there was a four day total hiatus of tweets from Target.

It’s been said by wiser women than myself, there is no reason to jump onto a social media platform if there’s no place for you there.  That being said, if you’ve made your way onto a site already, you better commit.  I get bombarded by coupons and campaigns all year long from brands I don’t care about and will not buy from.

This is one of my favorite brands, and this is by far my favorite partnership of theirs since I’ve become a loyal customer with spending power.  Which is why I want to send a text to my friends at Target that says, “Hey girl, can I get your Twitter password?  I’m just gonna let all your other friends know what’s going on this weekend.”

Because this is a great July Fourth party!  I’m just sad that some people aren’t gonna show.

 

 

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ATTN: GRADS! How Urban Outfitters Keeps You Engaged

Hi! My name is Talia and I am a senior in high school working at Company B for my senior internship.

This is me during my trip to Catalonia, Spain last summer!

This is me during my trip to Catalonia, Spain last summer!

Graduation is inching closer, and I cannot help but reflect on how much of my four short years were spent on a computer, attempting to balance schoolwork with social networking, and online shopping sites. I have repeatedly been told to try and avoid these “distractions” to allocate time for “what really matters.” But accessing Facebook is almost as easy as breathing air, so that is a demanding request. When I arrived at my internship, I was asked to examine social networking sites and observe the strategies some of my favorite brands were using. Suddenly, what used to be deemed an indulgent distraction became work. I was pretty psyched.

      I began researching Urban Outfitters on Facebook. I had not previously “liked” Urban Outfitters on Facebook, but I’d definitely spent a lot of time – too much time – shopping on their website. What I observed on their Facebook page was engagement with their target audience, teens. It felt like they were talking directly to me because of the chatty language like “Cut. It. Out” and “Summer tanks. Got em.” Also, 60 of my facebook friends “like” them on facebook, showing their traction among people my age

      On Urban Outfitters’ Twitter page, they had even more interaction with their followers. They insert the brand into popular culture and get their followers to do the same by asking questions like “Field Trip to NYC… can you guess why we’re there?” (answer: for the Frozen Banana stand made famous by Arrested Development) or “Favorite Seinfeld quote?” (asked on the 15th anniversary of Seinfeld). The followers of Urban Outfitters on Twitter are not only privy to information about Urban Outfitters products, but they are in the loop about some major events in pop culture.

          Urban Outfitters uses Twitter to accent some specific products. They took a photo of a specific set of colored pencils with Andy Warhol quotes on them, and captioned it “Art is what you can get away with”- Andy Warhol. This photo was posted directly to Twitter, making it easily accessible to followers. The use of Warhol’s famous quote as a caption increases the draw and value of the product. This quote is widely received because of its terseness, and because it came from Warhol himself. Andy Warhol is continentally known for his lofty visions, and because of this, he attracts a broad, artistically eager audience. Urban Outfitters uses quotes like these to represent their own philosophies. Since their fashion ranges from simple to daring (basic t-shirts to holographic platform sneakers) this quote speaks to their customers.

        Nike is another brand that I love. They are also in tune with current events in culture, and have documented their engagement in these events. On their Facebook page, there is a photo album of women running the half-marathon in Washington DC. These women are all wearing various Nike products because Nike sponsored the event. The photography is high quality, and it captures the spirit of the event as well as the beauty of the national monuments. Each photograph got many likes, and positive comments such as, “A beautiful day to shine!” On Nike Tennis’s Facebook page, they created a photo album of merchandise to look out for at the French Open. It contained photos of the athletes, and the outfits they would be wearing. Captioning these photos were the sweeping, intense, “get your head in the game” statements that Nike is most famous for, such as, “advantage is preparation. The clay is waiting.”

      Throughout all of Nike’s social media pages, they maintain this focused, tenacious spirit with the use of motivational statements. The aesthetic of all of their pages is consistent, too. It is dark with illuminated, short statements. It is important for brands to maintain a focused tone and exude it through these outlets, and Nike succeeds at doing that. Each and every follower can engage in this mutual desire to win. On Twitter, Nike trademarked #trainfree, where people can post their exercise stories and how they are improving with the addition of this hashtag. Not only does Nike purvey this competitive spirit, but they also give people incentive to put themselves to the test.

     Through this exercise, my very first at Company B, I discovered that to market successfully on social media, brands have to engage with their followers while maintaining the philosophies that got them these followers in the first place. To do this, brands need to creatively manipulate social media and have a good sense of timing. Before going into this exercise, I could not explain why Urban Outfitters and Nike had previously captivated me as a consumer. After scrolling through their individual pages on social media, I realized that their products did not sell themselves. Both Urban Outfitters and Nike tactically time their posts around relevant cultural events, and they both do it with style.

The Versatility of Being Virtual

If you’ve never worked predominantly from home, and resort to Google for help, you’ll find info on things like how to set boundaries for yourself or how to maintain your fluctuating motivation.  But what does working from home mean for the company you’re working for?

Company B's other intern, Talia, and myself at our work stations!

Company B’s other intern, Talia, and myself at our work stations!

In the case of Company B, we work mostly virtually.  Whether we are bloggers or PR consultants or clients, our main sources of communication are email, Skype, webinars and conference calls, rather than in-office meetings and water cooler interactions.

ODesk.com, a global job marketplace, posted on their blog last week about the virtual ad agency, and featured Bonnie in the piece.  I really love her quote, “Virtual brainstorms tend to flourish because everyone has to have some skin in the game.”

It’s true.  If it’s etiquette to answer an email you’re sent that asks your opinion, you tend to put more thought into your answer, and attempt to offer some insight, rather than a quick, “Looks great!”  Though I take a lot of satisfaction out of a, “Looks great!”

But I’ve always shined through personal interactions in the work place, winning people over with jokes, smiles and compliments.  When people like you, they’re more willing to help you through a project and show you the ropes.  Working virtually has forced me to not only make decisions on my own, but to throw more energy than ever into my work.  It showed – in that my first assignment needed a lot of tweaking and re-arranging and editing.  And my second got a, “Looks great!”

In the ODesk blog post, the author concludes that small, virtual ad agencies, “designed their business model to seamlessly connect with and source talent from around the globe, allowing them to work with the best people — not just the best people within commuting distance.”

I love that.  And I think that’s what Bonnie has done at Company B.  For my first big project, I worked with Staci, our media relations consultant based in Chicago.  Bonnie said she hadn’t met Staci in person and at first I thought that was odd.  For the project though, Staci and I were never out of communication – the internet is always on – and I felt that my work was team work.

This idea isn’t brand new, either.  According to globalworkplaceanalystics.com, over 3.1 million people in the US were, “telecommuting” as of October 2012.  That’s 2.5% of the American workforce.  It’s like a thing.

This is my third week as an almost-virtual worker (I head to Company B HQ once a week and work with another intern).  I’m learning about all the different hats I’ll need to be able to wear to do my job, including what it takes to be successful as a virtual worker.

So far, working virtually has proved to be a formidable challenge, establishing rules and deadlines for myself.  But the feelings of freedom and the responsibility tend to balance each other out, and I’m slowly falling into an extremely comfortable and productive routine.

I could get used to this.