Being Purpose Driven: The New Imperative to Reinventing Businesses Post COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted the marketplace and accelerated the move towards digitization, which is now embraced even by traditional “brick and mortar” industries.

Digital transformation is certainly the first imperative for businesses and brands to reimagine themselves for the new marketplace in this COVID-19 era. In fact, businesses, big or small (including mom and pop shops, and even street hawkers), are now transforming to embrace digital in one form or another, at a speed we have never seen before.

The second imperative would be health and safety. The health and safety agenda is now a key aspect of organisations, be it from a workplace or store-front perspective. The paradigm shift towards health and safety is now enterprise-wide and involves a much wider value chain than before. An example of this would be the growth of contact tracing apps, as well as the sale of contactless temperature gauges, medical grade rubber gloves, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, etc.

The Health & Safety imperative even calls for interior designers and even property developers to rethink and reimagine the workplace and store front – from contactless office automation to social-distanced office spaces and stores. Considering the health and safety aspect of workers and customers, the evolving trend of work from home, virtual meetings, and even corporate travel have certainly disrupted the way we think about communication and collaboration.

The third imperative, which may not be on the top of mind for most of us right now, is the purpose-driven imperative. This will be the game-changer to future-proof your organisation or brand, particularly as the impact of COVID-19 is expected to keep market conditions volatile in the short to mid-term. Within such an environment, people are looking for steady leadership and certainty. In this regard, most are still unaware or have yet to realise that profit with a purpose is set to sweep the marketplace at an accelerated pace post-COVID-19.

The disruption by COVID-19, the greatest global war since the Second World War, has awoken the marketplace. The global war against an invincible and invisible enemy has put governments and each and every one of us under tremendous pressure, hitting right at the hearts and minds of every person as we have no idea when and where it will strike.

Time to Purposefully Reform, Reinvent, Reimagine

Moving forward, consumers and stakeholders will certainly expect the marketplace to change or “reform”. There is no going back to “business as usual” prior to the pandemic. Certainly, there are already signs of increased demand for companies and brands to operate with a “soul”. A recent Investor’s Watch survey interviewing 3,750 wealthy investors across 15 countries by UBS revealed that three quarters of investors anticipate permanent lifestyle shifts, with two thirds saying the pandemic has altered how they think about their finances.

Interestingly, the survey showed, while millennial investors are most concerned about having to work longer to make up for losses, having enough money saved and losing their job in the current environment, they want to see their money make societal impact. The data also indicated that 69% are interested in sustainable investing and 60% in philanthropy due to COVID-19.

On top of that, governments are now reviving their respective economies through various stimulus packages by investing in long-term development plans for the country, including sustainable infrastructure and human capital upskilling post-COVID-19. Again, this reflects the commitment from many of us around the world to change for the better.

The disruption brought on by the COVID-19 crisis presents a new opportunity for brands and organisations to reinvent and capture the imagination of the new marketplace. Moving forward, being purpose-driven is set to be a core narrative for brands and organisations that are committed to “reform”, “reimagine” and “reinvent” themselves for the new market.

As such, organisations need to dive deeper into their purpose as an organisation or brand. The power of “why” will help organisations and brands recover from this crisis and reinvent for the future. The purpose-driven imperative, which must be sustainable in the long term, must fit the dreams of our people, while generating meaningful returns for our shareholders and – at the same time – must have a genuine and authentic commitment to our planet.

The COVID-19 crisis is indeed our greatest opportunity (and for some of us, perhaps the last chance) to reboot the way we do businesses. This may perhaps be a rude awakening but there cannot be a clearer signal to all of us to “reform” and “reimagine” our businesses. If we do not change right now, we will certainly be swept away by this disruption.

No doubts, if we put purpose right at the heart of what we do right now, supported by consistent and authentic actions, we are set to build a reputation that will help us win in the new post-COVID-19 market.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

THO

The Five Pillars of Online Reputation Management

By Toomas Kull – Cabinet Privé de Conseils, S.A.

Managing reputation for a brand or a company at the turn of this decade has been challenging for a variety of reasons:

First: Everything has become faster and global, from news to information exchange, movements, trends and issues. Many of the recent grassroots movements and major issues, such as Brexit, #MeToo and Extinction Rebellion, have been facilitated by today’s connected technologies and platforms, often catching organizations and institutions off guard. And the new generations, from Gen-Z today to Gen Alpha at the end of this decade, expect constant online interaction and engagement, not just one-way messages.

Second: There are growing expectations of transparency from politicians and governments, customers and consumers, civil society and the public, all amplified by traditional and social media. Transparency can also be thrust upon organizations as a result of data breaches, whistle-blower complaints, and employee activism, all facilitated due to the digitalization of assets and communications. The rise of misinformation and disinformation also force organizations and individuals to communicate publicly.

Third: There is a general decline in trust. Organizations and institutions used to be trusted and were taken at their word in times of crisis. To date governments, businesses, NGOs and media have become distrusted globally. The general public is sensing increasing inequity and unfairness overall.

And now we are faced with Covid-19. Many sectors have shifted their activities and communication online. Half of humanity has been in some form of confinement and started spending much more time online than ever before.

The online reputation of any brand, company or organization has become more important than ever. Here are the five fundamental principles for building and managing reputation online:

  1. Be transparent and authentic

Transparency and honesty apply to all aspects of online communication including the messaging, the messenger and the medium. The truth will always come out online. Authenticity is something that the public craves, and it is what can truly build a reputation. This requires consistent and long-term communication that is backed up by action. It’s not something that can be achieved with a single campaign.

During the recent protests against racial inequality and injustice, we saw a number of organizations criticized for appearing to jump on the bandwagon of #BlackLivesMatter. They faced a backlash because their messaging felt hollow and disingenuous, and because it did not match their real-life actions (e.g. diversity in their leadership team).

  1. Be coherent and relevant

What you communicate online should reflect your brand, products or services, or your profession and personality.

As with any good story, campaign or statement, you need to understand what matters to your audiences. To do this, you need to listen. Ensure that you have the right social listening tools in place to effectively monitor and follow conversations online.

Think of ways to adapt or tailor your content to what is topical right now. Sticking to routine messaging while the situation on the ground is changing can make you seem tone-deaf and inconsiderate.

For example, when a leading Lebanese university tweeted an article extolling the virtues of coming to Lebanon to study and live, it received a barrage of sarcastic replies in return. At this point in time, the country was mired in a deep financial crisis.

  1. Continue to build relationships

Reputation is not something you own: it is something that is bestowed upon you by others. There is a person behind every digital presence. Creating and building relationships with other people is therefore key, both online and offline. Remember, your reputation in the real-world will follow you online.

In the digital domain you can connect and interact with almost anyone, so take the time to understand which audiences are relevant to you and map out your stakeholders.

  1. Be visible and timely 

You need to be seen and heard to build a reputation and a follower base. Not only should you plan ahead for what you will announce and communicate, you also need to react quickly to new conversations while staying true to your brand, tone and messaging.

The challenge is that conversations and issues evolve rapidly online, just like today’s 24/7 news cycle. If a problem is not addressed quickly, within hours you can find yourself overwhelmed with a flurry of voices across social, digital and traditional media. In the worst-case scenario, your key stakeholders will have responded and taken action before you have.

Companies and leaders are increasingly expected to take a public stance on issues important to the public, and this pressure can come from within and outside the organization.

In the case of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and protests, some companies that initially did not feel good about making public statements were eventually forced to do so by their employees.

  1. Prepare to manage challenging issues

At some point you will be faced with a difficult issue that needs to be addressed or come under scrutiny and criticism for your actions. How you respond and communicate in these situations can define whether you keep and build your reputation or lose it altogether.

Crisis preparedness must extend not only to online crisis communications, but also to thinking about the reputational threats that can emerge online.

Think through different scenarios. While most organizations probably did not have a crippling global pandemic on their crisis scenarios list, they should have considered extended business continuity issues and the ways in which they would adapt, respond and communicate with their various stakeholders using digital and social media channels. Unfortunately, we saw many companies scrambling to figure out their communication with internal and external audiences.

Lastly, once you have your crisis communications team, processes and plans in place, make sure you test them with a crisis exercise to determine how you are likely to fare.

While there are some best-practice principles to follow, managing online reputation feels more like an art than science.

What other recommendations would you give?

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

THO

Great Ways to Volunteer During the Global Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has influenced everyone, but its impact is greater for some more than others. If you are wishing you could help those in need while still observing social distancing, then look no further. Here are some ideas on how to volunteer and make a difference during this crazy time. 

1. Make Sack Lunches to Deliver to Your Local Homeless Shelter

Next time you go grocery shopping (which is now about once a week), grab some extra supplies to make sack lunches for homeless people in need. One batch is 10 lunches that you can then drop off at a contactless location. Your local shelter will guide you on what is expected in the lunches, but typically it consists of a homemade sandwich with protein, an energy bar, fresh fruit (such as banana, apple or orange) and a sweet treat. It’s also important to include a bottle of water and a napkin. Since it’s a community based program you can check in with your local shelter for all of the details specific to your town.

2. Sew Masks

Since face coverings are now a requirement in stores many people are in need of masks. Hospitals also need additional masks for medical professionals and patients. If you have a sewing machine then this is a great way to volunteer in your community. You can order some fun fabrics online and use HEPA filters from the hardware store. Here is a link to an easy pattern and instructions: https://sarahmaker.com/how-to-sew-a-surgical-face-mask-for-hospitals-free-pattern/

And here are some fun masks we have seen for inspiration: 

3. Connect with the Elderly

There are a few different programs where you can reach out to elderly people who may be isolated during the pandemic and are suffering from loneliness. The first program allows you to make a phone callto your designated “pal” every morning to check in on them and share some friendly conversation. The second program allows you and your kids to write letters and create drawings to be given to elderly people and nursing homes. Both of these programs will make a difference and help you to volunteer from your own home! 

For more information about the phone call program click here

For more information about the letters program click here

4. Read to Kids

Vello, along with other programs, allows you to read a book with a kid over video chat. You will be helping them with their reading skills as well as providing a great pastime for both you and the child. Distance learning is a great resource for kids who need a little extra help with their reading. 

For more information click here

5. Help Record Audiobooks

Learning Ally helps to create audiobooks for people who are blind. You can volunteer to be the voice of some recordings to expand the library and help bring more access to books. During the coronavirus pandemic one of the top pastimes is reading. This program allows blind people to experience great books as well. 

For more information click here

6. Donate Items

One trendy pastime while staying at home has been organizing drawers, closets and garages. If you decide to do a clean sweep of your stuff you should consider donating unwanted items to your local thrift store or Salvation Army. Some drop-off locations currently have limited hours, but most cities have at least one drop-off point even during the pandemic. This is an easy way to give to others while giving to yourself as well. Organization and clean slate will give you peace of mind on top of knowing that your donations are making a difference. 

THO

Social Media Marketing is a Game Changer – and here’s why

The rise of social media marketing has been a game changer in a number of ways, for businesses both large-scale and small. Marketing and advertising are nothing new. Before the internet’s banner ads and pop-ups, there were still billboards. There were still magazine ads, infomercials and flyers. 

Social media becoming a daily staple for social connection, personal networking and building brands has brought forth the opportunity for marketing. Now, we are able to target ads in a way that was never before possible. 

Social media marketing has changed targeting.

Previously, you had to try to find out what magazines your target audience would read, or what areas they lived in. Now, with social media marketing as an option, we are able to meet our clients where they are at. Whether it’s a teenager who has shown interest in sporting equipment or an adult trying to buy a new couch, we are able to target down to interests, age, location, gender, marital status and more. Because Facebook has more than 220 million United States based users, and 2.3 billion users daily, we don’t necessarily have to spend time figuring out where they spend their time. Now we have the ability to describe our ideal target audience, and have the ad shown to thousands of those exact individuals. 

Knowing your audience has become more detailed.

Targeting a specific audience has become more than an age group. You don’t just need to know that adult men, or teen girls are more likely to buy your specific product. Targeting on social media can get so specific that truly targeting your audience will get you the results you want. When we are targeting a specific audience, we don’t just include their age and gender. We include whether or not these people have been married. We can target income levels, and even interests. For example, if you are a salon, you’re more likely to see a successful ROI when you’re targeting individuals who have already include topics like hair care, hair masks, fashion, or skin care. These individuals already have shown that they take interest in personal care. It’s essential to not ensure that you’re targeting individuals that your product could be for, but targeting those that will actually interact with the brand, comment, or make a purchase. 

Graphics have to be more attention-grabbing. 

The downfall of social media marketing is that so many ads are being placed in front of the consumer. It is averaged that every four “posts” on Facebook or Instagram (owned by Facebook) is actually sponsored or an ad. It is essential to not only target the right group, but to have graphics that are going to catch the attention of a consumer who has already seen, and not clicked on, many ads that day. Standing out is an essential part of the process – in other words, if your target audience sees your ad but doesn’t stop to really look at it, or read it, the ad wasn’t that effective in the first place. This fusion of quality graphic design, attention grabbing copywriting and the correct targeting is the recipe for a successful campaign. 

Overall, social media has changed the advertising and marketing game. It has created more options, and the ability to connect with the consumer on an even deeper level. 

THO

Cocktails to Drink During COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are working from home. This means that they are their own bartenders in charge of making their own cocktails at the end of the day. We pulled together some of our favorite recipes for refreshing cocktails and hope they give you some inspiration and make your day a little more fun.

The Sunshine Seeker

This refreshingly tart cocktail is the perfect way to fill up on Vitamin C, especially since we all need extra immunity right now. It can also be made into a mocktail (just leave out the vodka!)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces of vodka (or more based on your preference)
  • Half of a lime, fresh squeezed
  • One orange or grapefruit, fresh squeezed
  • Sparkling water, about 1/2 cup
  • Tajin or salt

Use the lime to slightly wet the rim and dunk the glass in either Tajin seasoning or salt. (Remember to do this step first because it’s much harder to do at the end!) Then pour one shot of vodka into the glass. Next add the juice of 1/2 lime. Cut the orange or grapefruit in half and use a citrus juicer or fork to get the fresh juice from both halves. You can use a strainer when pouring the citrus juice into the cup if you want to make it with less pulp. Finally, fill the rest of the glass up with sparkling water, usually about 1/4 -1/2 cup. Then stir and enjoy!

Aperol Spritz

This is a classic drink that makes for a great sunset beverage. Grab an Aperol spritz and head out on your patio, balcony, or front yard. This drink is on the sweeter side so it pairs nicely with salty snacks like mixed nuts, potato chips or popcorn.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces Aperol
  • 3 ounces prosecco or champagne (or more!)
  • Ice
  • Splash sparking water

While we give you specific amounts above, the Aperol spritz is all about personalization. Start by filling your wine halfway or more with ice. Then depending on how much you enjoy Aperol add 1.5 ounces (one shot glass) or more to the glass. Next you add about 1/2- 3/4 cup of the prosecco or champagne. Prosecco is more traditional and tends to be on the sweeter side, while champagne makes the drink less sweet and more dry. It also depends on how large your glass is. Finally top it off with a splash of sparking water and stir. You can garnish with an orange slice if you’d like.

Masked Margarita

Margaritas are perfect for Taco Tuesday, but during the “Stay at Home” ordinance everyday is Tuesday since they all feel the same! This is our twist on a classic margarita.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces tequila
  • 1 lime, fresh squeezed
  • 1/2 tablespoon agave syrup
  • Slice of watermelon
  • Small jalapeño
  • Ice
  • Salt or Tajin for rim

Start by rimming the glass with salt or Tajin using lime juice to make it stick. Then add a few cubes of ice. Next pour in one shot of tequila and the juice of one lime, freshly squeezed. Mix it together with 1/2 tablespoon of agave syrup, or more if you like it sweet. Then cut up one slice of watermelon and a couple of slices of a small jalapeño. Mix well and enjoy. This can be made in a shaker and then transferred to the prepped glass.

Classic Quarantini

This cocktail has been all the rage since Coronavirus started to impact us all. While this drink started out as more of a joke, it is actually quite tasty. Let us know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces vodka or gin
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 1 packet of Emergen-C
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Ice

There are two ways to make this drink. You can either use the Emergen-C to rim your drink or you can add it instead of the lemon juice. Start by filling a cocktail shaker with ice, then add in the 3 ounces of vodka or gin. Next you either add 2 ounces of lemon juice or 1 packet of Emergen-C. If you choose to use the Emergen-C in your drink, you can substitute 2 ounces of water instead of 2 tablespoons. Finally, microwave the honey with a splash of water for a few seconds to make it more easily mixed. Then shake the concoction and pour into a chilled martini glass (with Emergen-C on the rim if you didn’t use it in the drink itself.)

Let us know if you enjoyed these cocktails or have any other cocktails you’d like to share!

THO

Team Bonding While Working Remotely

Working from home during this pandemic has been an interesting adjustment for all of the people who usually report to an office everyday. At first, it’s about finding your groove and space at home to be productive, but eventually you realize that another aspect is hard to get used to: not seeing your coworkers. We usually spend more time in the presence of our work associates than we do with our families. So when asked to work from home, it’s an interesting shift for any team to stay connected and working like a well oiled machine. Here are THO’s tips for team bonding while working remotely: 

Happy Hour 

Once a week, host a zoom call with your team to catch up and chat about anything besides spreadsheets and deadlines. It’s a great way to kick off the weekend and celebrate with the cohort that helped you achieve goals all week. Whether everyone joins the call with a cocktail or mocktail in hand, it’s a great time to connect outside of work calls. If you want to take it up a notch, host a game during this happy hour through jackbox.tv. You simply have the host screen share so everyone on zoom can see the game, and then each player joins using their phone (and a room code). Some of our favorite games are Fibbage, Drawful 2, and Quiplash

Gratitude Exercises

This can be a scary and stressful time for everyone, so it’s important to focus on some positive aspects of life too. We recommend doing gratitude exercises with the whole team to help people bond as well as relieve some stress. One idea is to do a round robin during a morning call where everyone says one thing they are thankful for that day. Another idea is to make it into a game, where one person collects all of the gratitude notes (digitally of course) and then on a call together you read them out anonymously. Then the team can either guess who said what, or you can leave it anonymous. 

Secret Helper 

Ok so this is similar to secret Santa, except of course it isn’t related to the holidays. During this pandemic, getting mail is one of the most exciting things that can happen in the course of a day. So why not spread that excitement with your team? Set a limit on how much people can spend (I would suggest about $20). Then assign each person randomly to be a “secret helper.” The idea here is that you are helping a team member out. That could mean sending them toilet paper and hand sanitizer, a puzzle to help with the boredom, or even some baking ingredients. This will be a fun show and tell when everyone receives their gift in the mail and then you can guess who sent it to you. 

Virtual Lunch 

One way to support local restaurants is by ordering takeout. We suggest that every once in a while each team member orders lunch from a favorite local restaurant in their neighborhood. Then you can all hop on a video chat to eat together and share about your food or day. If you do this regularly, your team will be able to help all kinds of restaurants in the area. If you want to mix this idea with our happy hour idea, try ordering desserts instead! 

Staying connected with your team takes more work now that many people are remote, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. All you need is a little creativity! Let us know your favorite way to engage in team bonding while working remotely.

THO

Media Monday: Los Angeles Times Real Estate Editor Roger Vincent

When asked how he got into journalism, Roger Vincent replied “I had a great professor who pressed me – and I didn’t know plumbing. He said, ‘You’re not going to make a living with a typewriter unless you get serious.’ So, I did.” Today, more than 25+ years later, he covers commercial real estate for the Business section of the Los Angeles Times and is one of the most respected journalists in the country. 

Born and raised in Sacramento, shortly after graduating from college, he decided to head to Los Angeles where he landed a job at the Los Angeles Business Journal as the first real estate columnist they ever had. He then became the founding editor of the California Real Estate Journal, and in 1996 he joined The Los Angeles Times. The Hoyt Organization (THO) caught up with Roger and asked him to share some insights on how the industry has changed. 

THO: How has the industry changed since you started your career? 

Roger Vincent: I’ve been in journalism since the ‘70s so the biggest change was going electronic. I started on a manual typewriter and I miss the sound of the thundering typewriters. That said, today, we’ve been overwhelmed by the changes brought on by the internet. So many things pop up online that now we’re competing with many other sources. It used to be that traditional media was the gatekeepers for news,  but today we are competing with everyone. That simply means we need to be laser-focused on providing the best news for our industry. Given the LA Times is a 150-year-old brand, it’s important that it continues to evolve to keep it going, and it is.  

THO: What was one of your most interesting interviews? 

Roger Vincent: Many years ago, I interviewed a man named Gypsy Boots who was a health food fanatic.  He rolled into the LA Times and sat at my desk, extolling the virtues of eating natural foods long before it was popular. Everyone thought he was a little nuts at the time, but history told us a different story.

THO: What is one of your more memorable stories?

Roger Vincent: I was reporting in Chico where Amtrak had just created a stop. This was big news at the time. It came in at 2:00 a.m. in the morning and I arrived just as it was disappearing in the distance. But I interviewed all the locals and wrote the story. It didn’t reflect that I wasn’t there to actually see it arrive. It’s all in how you shape the story. 

I also once went to John Cushman’s office to do an interview and noticed a telescope in the corner. It was trained on the swimming pool across the way. 

THO: What’s your pet peeve when it comes to working with PR people?

Roger Vincent: I’m no different than most journalists when I say that it’s getting a call or email from someone who hasn’t done their homework, or they don’t really know what I cover or how the Times is now covering things.  I get pitches all the time that have nothing to do with real estate. We also don’t cover promotions, but people send them anyway. Please stop. 

THO: What is your dream assignment?

Roger Vincent: This would be an assignment where I can go anywhere, but I don’t have to write about it! 

THO: What does the future hold for journalism?

Roger Vincent: The next generation of journalists will look just like I did when I started. Bright people who are eager to learn and want to report the news the old-fashioned way; while we may no longer get a paper thrown in our driveway, there is always a market for conscientious news gathering and dissemination. True journalism will never go out of style. One of the hurdles we do face is getting people used to paying for news; the news gathering process isn’t free – we need to retrain people to understand that.

For more “Media Mondays,” be sure to check out our blog!

THO

10 Tips for Video Conference Meetings from Home

This post is courtesy of Jessica Muzik at Bianchi Public Relations, one of our Public Relations Global Network partners.

With COVID-19 “stay at home, stay safe, save lives” orders now firmly in place nearly everywhere, those that are working from home are finding themselves using one of a variety of video meeting services such as Skype, Zoom, WebEx, Abobe Connect, Microsoft Teams and others to stay connected and accomplish day-to-day business activities.

Here are some helpful tips that we have found for achieving the best possible video conference meetings with your colleagues and customers:

Be sure you have a good connection – A stable, fast and reliable Internet connection is key to any successful video conference meeting. If you’ve found that your home Internet is prone to “go out,” you will want to make sure that you are sitting near your router or, better yet, use a hard wire connection. You might also consider upgrading your home service to “business class” internet service, which obviously is more costly, but may be well worth it if you’re having internet speed or bandwidth problems that can arise when multiple people are home putting unusual demand on your internet;

Select a video conference service that works best for everyone – Whether it’s Skype, Zoom or one of the many other video conference meeting services available, make sure that you have selected a service that works well for everyone. Also, you will want to make sure that you test the service before utilizing it for a actual meeting, so that you can ensure that the video and audio are working properly when you join the video conference meeting;

Familiarize yourself with the features – Take some time upfront to become acquainted with the features of the video conference service you have chosen to utilize. If you are the host, make a point to inform the other participants how to utilize the features to help ensure that the participants are able to utilize the necessary video conference features. Two must-know features are muting and unmuting the microphone and sharing screens; 

Location, location, location … and lighting – Pick a suitable location within your home that is free from distraction, quiet, professional and void of any background noise. Speaking of backgrounds, make sure the visual background is uncluttered and tidy, so that visually it does not distract people from your comments. If you are using a virtual background, such as a photo of board room that you’ve loaded into the application, make sure to use a green background, so your face doesn’t fade in and out. Also, if you’re using a laptop or notebook computer for the video conference, remember to put your cell phone on mute. Good lighting is also key. Chose a location within your home that has proper lighting, as well as minimal glare. If possible, make sure that there is good natural but diffused light on your face and avoid sitting between your camera and the window where your image could be backlit. If possible, sit at a desk or table with your face and computer screen facing the window light and your back against a wall that is not too distracting for your audience;

Level up your camera – Position your device’s camera so that it is straight on or even pointed slightly downward toward your eyes. If the camera is lower than your eyes, those that you are meeting with will get a very unflattering viewing angle of your face. Use books or a shelf – something stable – to get the camera to the right height. And make sure you frame yourself in the center of the screen;

Enhance the sound – Consider using a headset with a microphone to enhance the sound quality of your video meetings. This will improve the quality of the meeting for both you and the other participants. And make sure to enunciate clearly and inject enthusiasm, passion and energy into your voice, to make up for some of the visual cues that will be missing because of the virtual nature of the meeting. On a video conference, you have to work a little harder to get your point across;

Dress professionally – As with in-person meetings, you’ll want to dress properly and professionally, just as if the meeting were taking place face-to-face in your client’s office or conference room. Also, be sure to develop a meeting agenda and share it with your video conference participants, so that everyone can be on the same page. This will help the meeting to go as smoothly and productively as possible;

Consider the time zones – Given the globalization of nearly all industries these days, it is important to be mindful of time zones when setting meetings. So, before you send a video conference meeting invite, make sure that the day and time is convenient for all involved and that the invite offers clearly marked time zone information; 

Maintain eye contact – Try to keep good eye contact with your audience, in this case, your camera lens. Wandering eyes can be distracting and uncomfortable. Look into the lens and maintain that contact. Try to avoid fidgeting with your hands, glasses or pens. Also, watch that your body language doesn’t send signals that conflict with your words. Sit up straight or stand, keep your shoulders relaxed, gesture as you normally would and smile; and

Hold that thought – In spite of the many improvements in video technology, you may still experience a delay in the conversations. If you are experiencing this lag, try to maintain eye contact and be patient – pause for a few seconds after someone has spoken before you respond. Otherwise, you risk the frustration of talking over one another in a sort of awkward ping-pong game of fragmented sentences. While it is typically up to the host to manage the video conference meeting, try your best to pause before you speak, so you set a good example for the other participants. 

We welcome your feedback … what have we missed from this list of video conference meeting tips and tricks that you have found to be helpful and / or necessary in this new work from home landscape?

THO

3 Reasons Why Thinking Small in the Big City Could be a Good Investment

For a market with a seemingly adverse attitude towards density, even in the midst of a severe housing shortage, small-lot development can be a solution for buyers and investors. Looking around the Los Angeles metro area, it is apparent that more and more submarkets are embracing this style of redevelopment opportunities as raw land, when available, tends to be on the smaller side. Small-lot development is an often-misunderstood land-use policy that encompasses the building of multiple single-family homes on a single land parcel. 

What is a small-lot development?

A small-lot subdivision is a project with multiple free-standing single-family homes on smaller than conventionally-sized home lot. These homes are more affordable while making density more appealing. Small-lot homes may be attached or separate, with as little as 3- to 5-foot side yards between homes – per the Los Angeles city ordinance. Here are three reasons why small-lot development might be a good investment.

  1. Lower purchase price

Many small-lot developments start with the purchase of a small, older house in an area governed by the city’s small-lot subdivision ordinance. These homes can be replaced with new, efficient residences, often near L.A.’s expanding mass transit system.

  • One house turns into multiple assets

Small-lot development can replace a single house with multiple individual residences. Several small-lot projects in Los Angeles have come online recently or are in the works. A 27-unit development recently broke ground in North Hollywood. Houses are expected to start in the high $600,000 range.

Other small-lot developments in L.A. include a seven-unit project in Hancock Park with individual homes that start at $1.7 million and 10-unit project on the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake with homes that start at about $1 million.

  • Apartment/condo convenience with single-family benefits

Apartments, townhouses, and condominiums are rented and include shared walls or purchased but include costly association fees and assessments. Small lot development homes are individually owned. Straightforward maintenance agreements govern common areas, such as driveways, and don’t include (often expensive) monthly homeowners’ association fees.

Thinking Small Can Be a Big Opportunity

Small-lot development can be tricky and finding the right neighborhood with the right zoning and right market characteristics isn’t easy. However, the right small-lot subdivision can be a big opportunity for savvy market investors.

THO

What the Tariff and Trade War Means for Real Estate

It has been difficult to ignore the mention of a U.S.-China trade war in the last year and its impacts on real estate. One of the most jarring statements by the U.S. was in decision to increase on tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports in mid-2019. The products affected, which are in List 3 within Section 301 of the Trade Expansion Act (TEA) of 1962, include hundreds of metal and chemical compounds used as raw manufacturing materials as well as finished goods like floor and wall panels, furniture, and bedding. The Section 301 tariffs specifically targeting China are of particular relevance to real estate industry because they could affect the potential return on real estate investments.

Despite negotiations, it is likely we will see even more tariffs go into effect. This creates waves of uncertainty for the real-estate industry, which relies on China for a big chunk of its building materials. For example, Chinese imports to the U.S. in 2017 accounted for 42% (by value) of all electrical machinery and equipment. Similarly, iron and steel imports from China in 2017 accounted for 31% (by value) of all the goods in that product group.

China, in turn,  has fired back with tariffs of its own on $60 billion in U.S. goods. This also includes building materials like bricks, wood flooring, pipes, and tubes.

Opinions are mixed at this point. Some commercial real estate pros say the situation with China has been an issue for a while and the industry has already absorbed the impact. However, the projected 150% increase in tariffs will make it impossible for companies to avoid passing costs down to consumers. Developers and builders may be forced to buy more expensive materials domestically, if they aren’t doing so already. This will mean pricier rents and condos. As for construction costs, they could go even higher, which could reduce the size and scope of ongoing projects or curtail future projects. Since developers typically plan deals two to four years out, they have a bit of an edge in predicting any effects on their individual projects. Deals that were underwritten without accounting for higher prices are most likely to be at risk. There are many impacts of a trade war.

  • Trade Expansion Act of 1962 authorizes the president of the United States to impose tariffs on imports from other countries if the quantity or circumstances surrounding those imports threaten national security. 
  • 2%, the actual percentage of total steel the U.S. imports from China.  
  • A new deal to remove tariffs on metal from Canada and Mexico is designed to prevent Chinese steel from being shipped to the U.S. through these nations. 

THO

How Healthcare Providers Can Communicate With The Community

Healthcare providers have an opportunity today that no other provider, hospital or clinic has had in the past. Today, healthcare providers have the ability to connect with your local communities, communicate about issues impacting those around them and share knowledge in a major way. 

When we think of social media management or public relations and the industries that need it the most, we often think of major corporations. The example that often comes to mind is BP and the crisis management after the infamous oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. But it is not just billion-dollar corporations or those needing to act quick in the case of a crisis that benefit from a strong social media presence and a solid digital communications plan. Healthcare needs social media; controlling what message you put out there can shape public perception, de-stigmatize intimidating or nerve-wracking procedures and connect with your patients in a new way. When you control the conversation, you can wield knowledge as a powerful tool to connect with your community. 

You want current and potential patients to talk to you about the difficult things. 

There are countless conversations that patients may be afraid to discuss with their healthcare providers. Social media gives healthcare the opportunity to start conversations and remove shame or fear from the conversation, once and for all. This open dialogue can empower patients to ask the difficult questions. Carilion clinic designed the above campaign to open a dialogue via social media and answer questions in the comments about breast cancer. It was a personable way to answer questions, start a conversation and take away any misconceptions. 

By bringing up topics that should be on patients’ minds during annual check-ups, you remind them to ask, make an appointment or gather more information. Social media allows hospitals or clinics to directly respond to questions and concerns, educate in real-time and personalize the healthcare experience. These campaigns show clients that when they choose you, they aren’t just choosing a business or a service provider; they’re choosing an ally to stand beside them in difficult times. 

You can position yourself as more than a clinic or a healthcare provider. 

Many feel that their experiences with healthcare aren’t personable, their provider doesn’t spend enough time with them or their concerns aren’t heard. Social media campaigns can help mitigate any negative feelings and if a portion of your patients are walking away feeling unheard, it gives you the opportunity to hear that feedback and make the appropriate changes. 

You can share essential information with your community. 

Is it time to get the flu shot? Has there been a chicken pox outbreak? Even health issues that are small, such as lice, can be addressed on social media. Infographics or reminders to prioritize proactive healthcare measures can help your patients to stay on top of their health when they’re outside of the office. Fun graphics can be used to educate, alert or remind the community what is going on, and how to protect themselves. 

Healthcare services can raise awareness or reduce stigma around difficult topics. 

Many people find they are afraid to talk to their providers when they’re struggling with a substance use disorder or a mental health related concern. Utilizing social media campaigns like the ones above can take a serious topic and reduce stigma, allowing patients to feel more comfortable bringing it to the table at an appointment. Sharing information about mental health and then encouraging conversation at an appointment is another way to control the kinds of conversations you want to have. 

In its essence, healthcare is about people. Healthcare is about healing and connection. Social media gets the conversation started, the relationships formed and the loyalty solidified. Out of all industries, healthcare has incredible important work to be done online, and a strategic public relations firm and a social media campaign is a great place to start. 

THO

How to Portray Mental Illness as a Public Relations Professional

According to Mental Health First Aid, almost half of adults in the United States will develop a mental illness in their lifetime. It is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior. Biological, psychological, and environmental factors influence whether or not mental health concerns will develop. 

Up until recently, mental health was not a topic of discussion. Even though people struggled with mental health concerns, they did not want to share this with others, as they were afraid that they would be looked down upon by society. But since it has become discussed more frequently in the United States, it is important to have an open conversation about it. Raising awareness around these topics will help eliminate the misconceptions, making people feel more comfortable reaching out for help. 

There are a number of organizations that are dedicated to helping people cope with mental health concerns. Some of these organizations include Mental Health AmericaNational Institute of Mental HealthNational Alliance on Mental IllnessAmerican Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Child Mind Institute. In order to best get out a message of prioritizing health, organizations often hire a public relations firm to spread the word about what they have to offer. The public relations firm will write press releases, engage in media relations, and create social media strategies for them. Without public relations, people would not know about the services, resources, and programs that are available to them. 

Before creating a holistic communications program for an organization that helps raise awareness and point to available resources, the public relations professional must understand the industry. This will ensure that they are providing the public with accurate, up-to-date information. In order to gain a deeper understanding, they must conduct extensive research about the topic. If they don’t take the time to understand the topics before developing the program, they may include inaccurate information and contribute to the stigma. It is the public relations professional’s responsibility to share the facts so that people are aware of the resources that are out there. By providing truthful information in press releases and social media posts, they will change the it is perceived by society. 

Public relations professionals can learn about mental health by reading our blog post about mental health concerns. This will provide a basis for their research and help them understand the fundamentals of mental wellness. 

About Mental Health

Even though mental health is a very complex topic, it is important for public relations professionals to understand mental health if they are working on mental health accounts. Mental health and mental disorders are often used interchangeably, but they mean two different things. Mental health refers to “our emotional and psychological state, our social well-being and how we feel about ourselves and interact with others.” Poor mental health can lead to mental illness, but it is not certain.

As mentioned in our blog post Mental Illness and Public Relations, biological, psychological and environmental factors can influence one’s mental health. The exact cause of mental health concerns has not been discovered yet, but researchers believe that a combination of these factors contribute to poor mental health. The biological factors include abnormal functioning of the brain as well as genetics. Those who have a family member with mental illness are susceptible to mental health concerns. If they experience stress, abuse, or a traumatic event, the illness may be triggered, according to WebMD. Other biological factors, such as infections, brain defects or injury, prenatal damage, and substance abuse, also play a role. The psychological factors that contribute to poor mental health are severe psychological trauma, an important early loss, neglect, and inability to relate to other people. The environmental factors refer to a number of stressors, like death or divorce, low self-esteem, and social or cultural expectations, which can impact people who are prone to mental concerns.  

There are about 300 mental disorders, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM.) Healthcare professionals all over the world use this book to diagnose mental health concerns. Below are the main groups of mental disorders

  • Anxiety disorders (Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias)
  • Mood disorders (Depression, bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder)
  • Psychotic disorders (Schizophrenia)
  • Eating disorders (Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder)
  • Personality disorders (Antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder)
  • Trauma-related disorders (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Substance abuse disorders 

Even if two people have anxiety disorder, they will not have the same experience. National Alliance on Mental Illness argues that “each person will be affected in a different way because of their own unique nature and personality.” Therefore, they will not have all of the same symptoms. They may have a few symptoms in common, but they will vary in intensity and severity. Some are easier to manage than others. They may still impact daily life, but they will not cause severe distress. Other mental health concerns have such a large impact on people’s lives that hospital care is required. 

Struggling with mental health is just as serious as having a physical illness. When someone is suffering from mental health issues, they need a proper diagnosis and treatment. If they do not get the help they need, they will continue to suffer and possibly consider suicide. But people with a mental health concerns are not treated in the same way as those who have a physical illness. For example, people with depression are often asked questions like, “Have you tried not being depressed?” What people don’t realize is that people with depression do not have control over their illness and that they have physical symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, persistent feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Because people with depression are perceived to be “overly sad,” many of them resist treatment. They believe that their depression is a personal weakness that they can treat themselves, when in reality it is a serious medical illness. By providing information about depression, these organizations are changing people’s views and encouraging people with depression to get help. 

Treatment involves medications, psychotherapy, brain-stimulation, and programs. Medications are not a cure, but they do lessen the symptoms. If a person with mental illness takes medication, their other treatments will be more effective. For many people, it is recommended that they don’t just stick to one type of treatment. They should undergo different types of treatment for the best results. The most common types of medications include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mood-stabilizing medications, and antipsychotic medications. Psychotherapy refers to speaking with a mental health professional. This helps people gain a deeper understanding about their condition and how they can cope with it. Just like there are many medications, there are many different types of psychotherapy. If medication and psychotherapy don’t improve one’s symptoms, brain-stimulation treatments, like electroconvulsive therapy or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, are often used. But it is important to know the risks and benefits of a particular brain-stimulation treatment before agreeing to it. If one’s mental health gets worse, it is recommended that they check into a psychiatric hospital for treatment. This includes 24-hour inpatient care, partial or day hospitalization, or residential treatment. Because many people with mental illness have problems with substance use, they may need treatment. If they don’t get help, their mental illness will get worse. 

Before public relations professionals start working on mental health accounts, they should research the types of mental illness, their impact, and the resources that are available. This will help them achieve success for their clients. Because there is a lot of information about mental illness on the Internet, public relations professionals ensure that the websites they use are credible. Find out how mental illness is portrayed in the media [MSB3] by reading our next blog post. 

How Mental Illness is Portrayed in the Media

Many people learn about mental illness through the media. This is an issue, as the media often portrays mental illness inaccurately. Stephen Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at the University of California-Berkeley, claims, “The worst stereotypes come out in such depictions: mentally ill individuals as incompetent, dangerous, slovenly, undeserving. The portrayals serve to distance ‘them’ from the rest of ‘us.’”

To address this issue, the Associated Press began providing information about mental illness in its Style Book so journalists could discuss mental illness in a fair and accurate way. Despite this, the way mental illness is portrayed in the media is more harmful than ever, according to Dr. Otto Wahl, director of the graduate institute of professional psychology at Connecticut’s University of Hartford. 

Therefore, it is important for public relations professionals to be aware of this issue, as they have the power to change the way journalists portray mental illness. They can include factual information about mental illness in their press releases and social media posts to influence the way journalists write about mental illness. Below are some of the ways in which people with mental illness are being portrayed by the media. 

Multiple news outlets have written sensational stories about people with mental illness engaging in violent acts. For example, there was an article in which a mental health patient was depicted as threatening, aggressive, and illogical. This slanted language does not provide an accurate representation of people with mental illness, as it has been reported that people with mental illness are actually less likely to engage in violence than those without mental illness. Fictional media also portrays characters with mental illness as violent, further contributing to the mental health stigma. 

Fictional media also suggests that people with mental illness appear a certain way. For instance, television characters with mental illness often have messy hair and wrinkled clothing. This leads people to believe that people with mental illness are unable to take care of themselves. While there are quite a few homeless people that are mentally ill, “there are also a huge number of people with mental illnesses who are getting up – showering every day, going to work, etc.,” Wahl claims.

In addition to making people with mental illness look unkept, fictional media suggests that people with mental illness are silly and immature. Their condition is equated to a quirk when in reality it is a serious illness. This does not “convey the way most people with serious mental illnesses are in pain,” Wahl says. 

The way the media portrays people with mental illness is very harmful, as it makes people with mental illness feel like outcasts. It also impacts people’s perception of mental illness. For this reason, it is important for public relations professionals to be aware of these portrayals so that they don’t engage in similar practices. 

Writing About Mental Health Concerns

Not only is it important to understand mental illness and how it is portrayed by the media, but it also important to understand how to write about mental illness. Public relations professionals should not use derogatory language, such as nuts, deranged, psycho, or crazy, when talking about people with mental illness, as it contributes to the stigma. In addition, it does not make people with mental illness feel good about themselves. This terminology can negatively affect people with mental illness and worsen their symptoms. For this reason, public relations professionals should pay attention to the words they use to portray these topics.

In addition to not using derogatory language, public relations professionals should use person-first language. This means writing “a person with schizophrenia” instead of a “schizophrenic person.” By doing this, they are not defining people by their mental illness.

Public relations professionals should not write that people are “suffering from” or “battling”, as the former suggests they should be pitied and the latter suggests they are not doing everything in their power to overcome the illness. They should also include specific diagnosis names rather than using generalizations. 

By choosing their words carefully, public relations professionals have the ability to change the way mental health is perceived by society and eliminate stereotypes. This will motivate people to get the help they need. 

THO

Six Tips for Working from Home During COVID-19

For the past couple of weeks, The Hoyt Organization has been working from home in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. While it was an adjustment at first, the THO team has discovered ways to be effective and achieve success for its clients. Keep reading to learn THO’s six tips for working remotely during the coronavirus. 

1. Make lists when working from home

“One thing I have done is started making handwritten lists. Since my task list on Outlook doesn’t sync properly, I can’t use that on a second monitor. So it becomes easy to lose sight of what needs to be done. It also still feels great to cross something off!” -Bill Hess

2. Create a workspace 

“Set up a place that’s away from the couch and TV so you can concentrate and focus without the distraction of the ‘what’s going on out there’ noise. Make it a place that doesn’t use the comfy couch, which is too easy to sink into and never get up again and is not conducive to an actual work station. Make the couch and TV a reward. That way, you avoid becoming a work potato!” -Erika Snow Robinson

3. Stay in touch

“Hold daily ‘coffee chats’ at the beginning and end of the day to make sure your team is still engaged.”  

-Leeza Hoyt

One of the main things I have learned working remotely is the need to stay in touch with people on my team and have check in points or calls to discuss accounts, current pitches, deliverables and any other concerns that may come up along the way.” -Amber Hergen

“You should schedule video chats with coworkers to minimize the feeling of social isolation. Instead of only corresponding through email, you should set aside time to speak to your coworkers about projects using video conferencing tools like Slack or Zoom.” -Kate Artmann

4. Use technology to your advantage 

“Turn on your notifications for your email and Slack so that if you are in a Word document, you will know when someone messages you. Also, make sure to have all of your digital tools downloaded onto your cellphone. There is an app for everything.” -Cinnamon Thompson

5. Create pretend coworker

“You can create a fake coworker for you and your roommates or significant other to blame annoying things on to keep the peace, like, ‘Ugh Karen keeps leaving out her cereal bowls. I’m not sure what we are going to do with her.’” -Pippa O’Brien

6. Take breaks when working from home

“Set aside time for lunch, go for a walk, or clean up your space. Setting aside time for breaks will allow you to focus more on your work and take care of other household distractions later.” -Lauren Howe

Working from home can be a major transition for some, but creating these little routines or habits can be a lifesaver. What are some of your tips and tricks for successful remote work?

THO

Five Tips for Leading a Remote Team

Many of us have found ourselves thrown from our offices and daily commutes to managing working life in tandem with Shelter In Place laws. As once bustling offices move to remote work, it can be difficult to bridge the transition smoothly, keep communication up and ensure productivity does not drop. Here are a few tips for ensuring your team is as successful as possible during this time.   

  1. Talk about accessibility. 

Do all of your employees have functional laptops? Are they outfitted with the best wifi, or are they using a hotspot from their phone in a highly trafficked area? Talk about what kind of computers, if any, your employees have. Older models may run more slowly, causing delays in projects. PC to Mac differences can cause errors in translating documents and formatting. Knowing these things in advance can help everyone to understand that some errors may simply be attributed to technology problems, and to come up with solutions. It can help you to understand who may need assistance to work remotely as effectively as possible

2. Go digital for workflow management. 

There are many programs to help keep productivity up and to manage workflow. We use programs like Monday.com to keep projects organized. Programs like these are essential during remote working. This way, deadlines can be set and you can stay up to date on the progress each project is making. While you may used to have created meetings to go over tasks and deliverables, now much of this conversation can be cut down on by making sure your tasks are up-to-date online.

3. Touch base. 

Now that you’ve made sure everyone has access to the internet and has the technology necessary to complete their job, touching base via programs like Skype or Zoom can be essential. Programs like Slack can also help with quick chatting throughout the day, just like you would be able to do if you were in-office. Scheduled times to check in, especially through video, provides similar structure to the day and gives face time which is essential. Any issues or roadblocks that could not be handled over workflow programs can be handled during these calls.

4. Understand that life happens. 

If you find that your teammates have large families, young children or relatives they care for, working from home can be complicated and may require more flexibility. It can be easier to lose focus. Trust that your team is still getting in their hours – it just may be a little earlier or later than normal. Have a conversation letting employees know that to communicate if something comes up, and that they will be met with understanding and flexibility. This opens the door to communicate about potential concerns and allows the team to help one another ensure deadlines are still met. 

5. Keep it lighthearted. 

No one planned for remote working, limited social interaction and waiting in lines at grocery stores. Try to keep the tone the same as it was in the office. Sharing funny videos with one another, messaging each other jokes or checking up on how the office plants are doing are simple ways to keep things casual. Remove the focus from negativity, news updates or illness. 

While moving into uncharted territory for businesses, the most important thing your team can do is stay connected and emphasize that you truly are a team, taking on challenges together and understanding that additional roadblocks may arise due to the nature of working at home, with family, pets and/or roommates. 

THO

Three Common Social Media Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

As a PR firm, we counsel clients on social media best practices, helping them to take a fresh look at what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it’s performing.

Based on our many client interactions on the topic, here are three common social media mistakes companies make, and tips for avoiding them.

    1. Having too many channelsFacebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube. Most consider those to be the standard, “must have” social media channels.

      As we know, there are always new contenders – Snapchat, TikTok – some of which last, some of which disappear overnight. And others are important for focused audiences (Pinterest).

      But if you are not doing a good job with creating and sharing quality content on a regular basis – and you’re overwhelmed by the number of channels – what does it matter which channels you have set up?

      Solution:
      Take a commonsense approach and work with the channels that matter to your audience. If you’re a B2B company, then LinkedIn is important. If you’re a consumer brand, Instagram is a must-have.

      While it’s always a good idea to “reserve” channels under your organization’s name so no one else can take them, you don’t need to focus on them if you think you don’t have the time to do it right.

      You’re better off with one outstanding channel than five that are out of date. We all know that expression, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Don’t let that be your social media approach.

    2. Lack of content strategy
      Just as you (hopefully) reserve personal content for Facebook and professional content for LinkedIn, you should take a similar approach for your organization’s social content.Sharing the same type of content the same way on all channels may confuse – or lose – your audience.

      Solution:
      Consider the attributes of each channel: Instagram is a visual platform; Twitter works really well for events and things as they happen in real time, LinkedIn = work, etc.
      Build a distinct content strategy for each. But that’s not to say you can’t overlap on a couple of channels where it makes sense.

      For example, a B2B business may focus on LinkedIn and Twitter for its company news (media coverage, announcements, blog post links, trade shows), while they support their employer brand and recruitment by pushing out culture content on Instagram and Facebook.

      By thinking through who you need to reach with which messages, then creating content that aligns with the audiences and channels, you can build a more streamlined and effective social strategy.

    3. Not measuring engagement and impact
      Let’s say that a member of your leadership team thinks it’s important for you to post your industry’s top news on Twitter a couple of times a week. You – or someone from your team – spends time researching it, getting approvals, posting it. But to what end?It may be difficult – risky even – to tell your boss or a client that their social media strategy isn’t the best. But given the analytics available, there’s no need to tell them – just show them.

      Solution:
      The analytics available for each channel clearly show what’s resonating and what isn’t. If no one is sharing or commenting, it’s a clear indicator that a specific type of content isn’t working.

      Don’t just focus on the negative – look at what is generating engagement and use that as a guide to shape your content going forward. Be sure to think through what it is about high-performing posts that is generating interest. Is it because it contains a great photo? Is it tied to a topic everyone’s talking about? Does it connect to an event that attracts a lot of attendees?

      Defining what resonates is a critical factor in shaping a social media roadmap.

By spending some time on big picture thinking around social media, you can develop a strategy that is more engaging, meaningful, efficient and with a greater, measurable impact.

 

The original article was published on the PRGN website, here.

THO

How PR can shape the mental health conversation

Despite the fact that mental health disorders are rising in prevalence around the world and will cost the global economy 16 trillion by 2030, mental and behavioral health services are frequently stigmatized. In stark contrast, Millennials ranked mental health issues as their number one concern in this year’s annual health report by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Among the top 10 conditions ranked by adverse health impact affecting Millennials were major depression, substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, and hyperactivity.

The fact is, millions of Americans struggle with mental health issues. The National Alliance of Mental Health reports that one in five adults in America experiences mental illness in their lifetime. Currently, it is estimated that nearly 10 million Americans are living with a serious mental disorder. The most common mental disorders are anxiety disorders, major depression and bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, mental health disorders do not just impact the adult population; they also affect the health and well-being of children and adolescents. It’s reported that 20% of young people will suffer from a mental disorder that inhibits daily functioning at some point in their lives. These statistics support the real-life fact that mental and behavioral health services are needed across a wide spectrum. There is a vast and growing need for mental health professionals to provide preventative care and early and on-going treatment to people of all ages. Unfortunately, mental health symptoms are still viewed as threatening and uncomfortable. There are attitudes within most societies that view symptoms of psychopathology as threatening and a topic to avoid. These attitudes foster stigma and discrimination toward people with mental health problems. Such reactions are common when people have the courage to admit they have a mental health issue or concern. This can often lead to various forms of exclusion or discrimination within the family circle, social circles and the workplace.

The social stigma associated with mental health problems has numerous causes. People with mental illness have been treated differently, excluded and even brutalized throughout history. Often times the mistreatment stems from misguided views that people with mental health problems may be more prone to violence or are just somehow “different” but none of these beliefs are rooted in facts. The media also plays a role in perpetuating stigmatizing stereotypes of people with mental health issues. Cinematic depictions of schizophrenia are often stereotyped and characterized by misinformation about the disorder, symptoms, causes and treatment, which in turn reinforces biased beliefs and stigmatizing attitudes toward people with mental health disorders. 

All of the above sets the stage for working with a mental health client and navigating the challenges they face day to day. One of the obstacles during the course of the Pinnacle Treatment services campaign was to destigmatize the treatment of substance use disorders and people struggling with addiction while preserving the integrity of the PTC brand and elevating its visibility.

When Pinnacle Treatment Centers held its first call with THO, they had specific goals in mind, with aspirations of expanding their treatment services into several southern states and beyond. The question they had was how do we get there and can PR help?

The THO team delineated how a strategic public relations campaign would help significantly raise brand recognition, position executives and key clinicians as leaders in the field of mental and behavioral health and drive potential patients to the website. In truth, an effective PR campaign does quite a bit more. Through inserting the brand/company into the news cycle with relevant stories, commentaries and solutions, the visibility and credibility of the brand and spokesperson receive a measurable boost. The more targeted the campaign, the better the results.

First and foremost, Pinnacle Treatment Centers wanted to garner media coverage in key markets in the southern United States in order to drive the company’s ultimate goal of a nationwide expansion. One of Pinnacle’s goals was to address the growing need for accessible and affordable Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment in rural and traditionally low-income communities and to establish PTC facilities as community resources. Based on that goal, the outreach involved a multi-market strategy.

Step one was to establish optimal spokespeople for each region, to cite an example, at one facility the spokesperson was an experienced psychiatrist who was able to speak to numerous health and mental health issues already trending in the news and digital media. Naturally, topics varied, but THO successfully put Pinnacle spokespeople front and center to address the latest headlines including: the opioid epidemic in the U.S., Purdue pharmaceuticals role in the American opioid crisis, the importance of access to quality care in impoverished and rural communities, the vaping epidemic, the landmark pharma opioid settlement, Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT,) pain management, and much more.

As segments and interviews went live and articles published, they were posted on social media in an effort to maximize Pinnacle’s return on investment in the campaign. Building on the success of the public relations campaign in each market, Pinnacle would then take the next step in their expansion plan, into a new state/region where PR efforts once again would highlight clinicians, treatment modalities and evidence-based care. During the course of the campaign, a few things became paramount when working with a treatment and recovery/mental health client.

  • Language is everything- It is not what you say but how you say it. With a sensitive population in recovery, the proper verbiage is key. So, client messaging in all marketing, social media and press materials needed to align with that.
  • Us vs. I– It was incredibly important to make sure that we were functioning as one unit. The goal being to offer affordable, evidence-based care to those in need of treatment and to position Pinnacle Treatment Center facilities as community resources.
  • Listening– Always listen to clients’ expectations, goals and concerns and open a dialog whenever you think they can benefit from your expertise. Oftentimes, clients do not know what they need…they have an idea of what they want but the reason a PR firm is brought on board is so they can benefit from your expertise in the field of media.
  • Navigation, and by that, I mean understanding how to navigate your client to seeing the bigger picture rather than an immediate goal. If the larger picture is a nationwide expansion, then being able to convey the value of each step, each placement and key markets is paramount.
  • Partnership– Perhaps I’ve already touched on this in Us vs. I, but I cannot emphasize enough, how important it is to be a partner to your client. Once they feel you truly understand their bigger picture and goals you will both soar.

THO

How to ensure social media success for real estate (part 3)

Wrap-up: Social Media Analysis & Tips for Continued Success

Analysis is key for any project you work on, including social media. It’s important to take note of which posts do the best so that you can create more similar content. But that doesn’t mean you should rinse and repeat either.

Analyzing What Worked Best

Most of the platforms will allow you to see analytics natively, meaning within their own platform. Beyond just figuring out which posts do the best (like a beautifully staged kitchen or courtyard vs. tile flooring or smaller details), you can figure out what kinds of listings are resonating with different demographics or any customized, targeted audiences you selected. This way, you can tailor your content to really hit home with your followers.

Tips to Success: Post Like a Pro

There are a few tips and tricks left to mention to really make your social media for real estate sing. First and foremost, it’s important to realize that it’s called “social” media, meaning there needs to be a ‘give and take.’ In order to get the most engagement on your platforms, you need to be engaging back with your followers, both on your profile and theirs. I would suggest setting aside 15 minutes or so every morning to peruse your social channels to like, comment, share, etc. content from the people that you follow.

Another tip is to use social media to your advantage even when you’re offline. This means putting your social handles on business cards, signs and even bench ads (if this type of advertising is still a requirement of your target audience). You can create your own hashtag for people to use during showings or open houses. If you have a particularly fun aspect to showing clients around (such as famous cupcakes, a drone or ring doorbell) you can highlight that for people to share on their social channels.

If you notice someone who has a really stellar social media presence and you love what they do, feel free to save or screenshot their posts for inspiration. Once you have a compilation of different posts you like, you can use them to guide you to your dream aesthetic and content. It’s important that you don’t blatantly copy people. If there’s something you absolutely love and need to post as well, you need to properly credit the person who came up with it; otherwise it could damage your reputation and relationships.

Don’t forget that you have a world of stock images at your fingertips as well. This can be useful for when you need some extra content to fill up your feed. My personal favorite is unsplash.com for free photos. They have an easy search function and allow you to download directly to your device. Because they are royalty and copyright free, you don’t have to worry about crediting the photographer or website.

Final Thoughts

All in all, social media can be a powerful tool to boost your business goals and create a significant brand presence. Many consumers today, for both residential and commercial real estate, turn to social media to vet people or businesses. You need to ensure your social media posts and aesthetics are up to par and propel your brand forward instead of dragging it down. We have spent a lot of time with real estate clients who utilize all of these tips and tricks, so feel free to reach out with any questions or if you need help setting yours up.

THO

How to Ensure Social Media Success for Real Estate (Part 2)

Solving the How & When” of posting on social media for real estate

Timing is everything

When it comes to social media for real estate, you want to tailor your post schedule to when your followers are the most active. If you have a business account (which you should!) then most platforms allow for you to check this statistic. As a general rule of thumb, people tend to check their social media at a few different points during the day: when they wake up/during breakfast, during a lunch break, right after work, and before bed. That gives you a general idea of what time to post. You can tailor it for your time zone or preferred followers. Most real estate listings have an open house on Sundays, so that may also be a good time to showcase some of your properties in a “virtual open house.”

Once you have posted to social media, you can analyze what time of day your posts get the most engagement. That can guide you for future posts.

Scheduling Posts

There are a lot of programs out there that can help you to schedule posts in advance. This is useful because you won’t have to physically post at breakfast time and again at bedtime or even on the weekends. If you schedule ahead, then you can be present at your open house while your social media does all the work for you. And if you want real-time coverage of an event then you can go live or post to your story (on Instagram or Facebook).

For Instagram, the best posting tool is Planoly because it allows you to lay out all of your photos and content before you make it live on your feed. For this particular platform the aesthetics of the entire page is crucial. Planoly allows you to see the full landscape of your Instagram in order to get it right. It will also automatically post for you if you schedule a post or story in advance.

For other platforms, mention.com or Hootsuite are great tools for planning ahead. You can put together your posts for the week ahead of time, and then watch as all of your social channels populate on their own. Another fabulous feature is that you can manage more than one account at once if you need to post on your personal page and your business page.

Here is an example of what Planoly looks like:


Social Media Marketing and Seeing Results

If you want to broaden your reach on social media you should consider spending a little money on your posts. Different platforms have various ways to get more people to like your photos or click a link. Sponsored or boosted posts take what you already have on social media and broadens the reach.  You can spend a couple dollars or a couple hundred dollars – either way it will increase the visibility and the engagement.

Targeting your audience

The best part about sponsoring or boosting posts is that you can target who you want to see the post. From age group and geographic location, to hobbies and job title, each platform allows you to be specific with who is shown the boosted posts. This can work to your advantage. For residential real estate, you can target people who work in the area of your listing and the right age group for homeowners (aka 15-year-olds won’t be peppered with housing posts). For CRE, you can target companies you think would work well in the space you are leasing or people who would be interested in investing in a multifamily complex. You can even promote events on Facebook to increase attendees at open houses or grand openings, for instance.

Advertising

Beyond just sponsoring posts, you can also run ads on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn when considering how to best utilize social media for real estate. Think of it as the real estate bus bench in the digital era. You can create an ad that you want to run on all of the platforms and simply optimize the sizing for each. This essentially means resizing the image to fit the proportions of the different platforms. Additionally, try to make your ads engaging and interesting. This is again where quality is key. You want to make sure the photos and messaging are up to par. Video can also entice people, especially with the invention of the drone. You can market certain properties with a drone tour instead of the typical video tour. It all boils down to being creative and doing things right the first time, especially since you are spending money for these ads to run on different platforms.

This is part two in a three-part series on how to ensure social media success for real estate. Keep an eye out for the third installment shortly!

THO

How to Ensure Social Media Success for Real Estate

Social media is a powerful tool for almost all industries and professionals. Since real estate is so visual, it’s the perfect subject for social media posts and campaigns. Whether you are a realtor looking to boost your listings and services or a commercial real estate broker leasing spaces in a shopping center, there is a way to make social platforms work for you.

When posting about real estate the most useful social media platforms are Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Though, Twitter can be a little complicated for businesses, so it’s best to leave that for later when you have a more advanced media strategy. Other platforms to consider are Pinterest and Tumblr. These are useful for when you have a beautifully staged listing that other people would want to “save for later.” The trick is to ensure that your branding, website, and contact information are attached to the post so if someone loves your listing they can easily reach out.

Visually Stunning Your Audience: Images & Strategy

First and foremost, the images you pick are going to drive the responses and engagement on all platforms. Social media is extremely visual, so the more aesthetic your photos and posts, the more responses, likes, saves, and eventually outreach and leads you will accumulate. Always make sure that your content is relevant to your followers.

As you may know, one of the reasons for staging a space is to help potential buyers picture themselves there. The same goes for the images you choose. You want the viewer to be enticed as well as imagine the space as their own. Also, don’t be afraid of videos! The multimedia aspect can give you an edge, as long as you have a steady hand.

Tips for residential real estate:

I’m sure you are familiar with the idea of selling a “home” instead of just a house. The more your images evoke the home aspect, the more people will want to engage. Try to capture and share the coziest corner of the space, the most surprising architectural feature, or the best room or view from the house.

Quality over quantity. While consistency is key on all platforms, you need to choose quality images that are strategic and aesthetically pleasing. You shouldn’t post just for the sake of posting. One of the best real estate Instagrams from our neighborhood is by Jillian Spokely (@southbaeagent). She brings personality, professional photos and interesting content to her social media. Spokely mixes her professional endeavors with creativity to engage her followers and make sales. Here are some of her posts for reference:

Residential real estate needs to call on the emotions of buyers more than commercial real estate, where you want to show how functional and potentially lucrative the space will be. For this reason, Pinterest can be a great choice for residential realtors who want to show off their fabulous listings. Pinterest is mostly perused by women from the ages of 20-70. Some people may “pin” your post as a dream home while others pin them to actually consider buying. While women may be the overwhelming demographic for this platform, it’s important to keep in mind that they may have male counterparts who are looking for real estate as well.

Tips for Commercial Real Estate:

While many of these tips hold true for any real estate, it’s important to think about the different audiences for CRE. Whether you are leasing offices and retail or showcasing an entire multifamily building, you need to keep in mind who you are targeting with your images.

Each category has specific needs and purposes: retailers want to see foot traffic and visibility; office space should be shown off as bright and professional; and of course, apartment complexes should appeal to the demographic of your tenants. A picture is worth a thousand words, and even though you can write in the caption, your photos should say what you want to get across.

Creativity can help CRE just as much as it helps residential. Because of this, you can keep things simple by simply choosing to show what morning coffee looks like in the office space. Take a video of the natural foot traffic passing the store front. Demonstrate what resident life looks like at the apartment. The Hoyt Organization recently curated the social media for an apartment building in Downtown Los Angeles. The Flat (@theflatapts) is the perfect example of highlighting what it’s like to be a resident, which in turn draws in new tenants.

This is part one of a three-part series on how to have social media success when promoting real estate. Check back for the next installment soon!

THO

Tips for Staying Focused at Work

After the holidays (or even a particularly fun weekend) it can be hard to get back into the swing of things at the office. Feeling sluggish or distracted the first day back at work is a common trait among weekend warriors. To stay focused, the obvious answer is a big cup of coffee, but there are many other ways to perk up. So, here are a few tips to combat any case of the Mondays and increase productivity.

To stay focused, sunshine is your friend

If you’re lucky enough to have a desk next to a window, or even your own office, it’s easy to start the morning with the shades closed or lights low. Instead, you should embrace the Vitamin D and let the sunshine wake you up for the day. While it may be uncomfortable at first, you will likely be in a better mood and less groggy for those mid-morning meetings.

Take a break

While it may seem counter-intuitive to take time away from your work, you will feel refreshed and energized if you take a couple small breaks throughout the day. It’s also important to take breaks from looking at a screen, so you are helping your eyes and brain rest during the breaks as well. A morning walk in the fresh air for 10 minutes or so can give your brain an extra boost of oxygen. In the afternoon, you can do a couple of desk exercises or walk across the office for a quick snack.

Always keep a supply of desk snacks

Low blood sugar is not your friend, especially at work. It’s important to keep some snacks on hand so you don’t fall into an energy slump or worse- become hangry. The best desk snacks are full of protein and nutrients so you stay satiated longer. I suggest nuts, granola bars, beef jerky, apple slices with peanut butter, carrots with hummus, and of course a little dark chocolate.

Start with the smaller tasks and work up to the big ones.

Sometimes if you need to get your brain back into the groove of things, it’s easier to start with the more straightforward tasks such as answering emails, cleaning your desk and returning phone calls. Then once you’re warmed up you can tackle the more difficult tasks.

Stay focused by staying hydrated.

While caffeine is your friend for perking you up, you need water to keep your mind clear and alert. Using a water bottle with a (reusable!) straw promotes water consumption because it is much more mindless to take a sip of water instead of unscrewing your lid every time.

Listen to music or podcasts.

Some workplaces/jobs may not allow for this, but if you are able to put on headphones it can be a great way to pump yourself up for the day. If you have a particular podcast that you enjoy then it can be something to look forward to each morning while you sip coffee and reply to emails.

As we move into 2020, I encourage you to try these tips to continue growing towards the best version of yourself. Staying focused and alert at work doesn’t have to be hard, you just need to implement these tips! Let us know if there’s anything else that works for you so we can share it with everyone.

THO

Mental Health Services: Do they need PR?

It wasn’t all that long ago that going to a mental health professional was considered something to keep hidden. Even the popular TV series Mad Men addressed a leading character’s mental health concern with a bit of embarrassment. Today that’s changed. With the increasing stress that life is throwing at everyone and the growing availability of mental health services.

Today it is quite common for someone to admit that they are seeing a therapist or are seeking out counseling. In fact, this actually points to society’s growing acceptance that we can – and should – take care of ourselves. After all, if we can’t take care of ourselves, how are we supposed to take care of anyone else in our life? The recognition that we all need help with the issues we are facing supports a stronger, healthier society.

Public relations is playing an essential role in strengthening this positioning. By taking the stigma out of using mental health services – and showing how this improves lives, strengthen communities and contributes to each client’s success – public relations is exactly the type of communications tools that should be used.  Not only does it help spread the word about mental health issues, it encourages those who may be standing on the side lines, needing help but not knowing where to turn, to reach out and find help.

What’s the best way to find the right public relations team to help? Here are a few things to consider:

Look for a public relations firm that has strong healthcare experience.

Healthcare is a complicated industry with many moving parts. Getting a new team up to speed can be challenging enough without having to teach them the industry as well.

Define your goal.

Do you want to raise the visibility of your mental health services in a specific community? Is expanding your client base your only interest? Is there a referral network your connected to? Every program should be custom designed to meet your goals. Clearly define your goal before you begin your search.

What type of model does your organization need?

If it’s a mental health services organization with a number of facilities is a full-service agency that can handle a national program better suited for your outreach? If it’s a smaller program with a geographically specific need, would a freelance professional better fit your needs?  Once you’ve defined your budget, you’ll be able to determine the type of public relations professional that will be able to truly perform for you.

Don’t forget social.

While in the past mental health was considered anything but social, today social platforms offer a great way to directly target those who are seeking referrals, ideas and tips on how to manage mental health issues.

THO

Happy New Year!

The new year is always cause for celebration. Most of us hit the re-start button, ready to begin anew with a new year in the making. This year, now that its 2020, the moniker itself brings cause for clear vision and renewed focus.  And each year, it all starts with the Tournament of Rose Parade. With 44 floats, 20 bands and many equestrian groups, the world begins anew. This is quickly followed by the Rose Bowl, this year a tough battle between the Oregon Ducks and the Wisconsin Badgers.

From a PR perspective, the most telling float this year was the UPS float. Leading the way with “Stories Change Our World,” the moniker sets the stage for reinforcing the importance of shaping the story. While it was designed to support the Toys for Tots Literary Program – which captured the Sweepstakes Award – it also highlights the need to use narratives to communicate, and as a public relations + social professional, this falls at the heart of what we do, so of course, it hit home.  Of course, this particular float ran into a mechanical issue and had to be pulled down the route via truck, itself an indication of how to solve a challenge yet still achieve the best results.

But for us, as a Los Angeles area based public relations + social firm, it hits close to home. As a University of Southern California graduate, I fondly remember attending the Rose Parade and the bowl game for several years as a student. Today, we count the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate as one of our clients.  Our vice president, Kent Barrett, once served as a spokesperson for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so this year held a special meaning for him.  Several others on our staff have ties to these universities as well.

All of this reinforced our tentacles which reach across the country. No doubt, as 2020 takes hold, there will be many stories to tell. We’ll be here to help craft each one. Thanks, UPS, for reinforcing the value of storytelling. Our world wouldn’t exist without it.

THO

Tips for Maintaining a Consistent Brand Online

Social media has become an essential part of building an audience for yourself or your brand. A clean and well-defined aesthetic ensures your page’s traffic and engagement are continually climbing. Using eye-catching images within a defined aesthetic can better promote your social media branding. To maintain the aesthetic of your profile, focus on one key symbol. Whether it be a specific color scheme or a certain environment, the consistency is what makes your page more interesting.

 

Stand out.

It is no surprise that there is competition when it comes to building a brand online. Countless companies are fighting for the spotlight and consumer interest online. The implementation of ads on Facebook and LinkedIn make this an even more difficult task, competing with ad budgets and campaigns.

Developing and sticking to a defined theme can help increase your audience. An aesthetic image is a great way to catch your followers’ eye. Once you’ve got their attention with a great image, they’ll want to click and learn more.

 

Define who you are.

A well curated brand social page can indicate to users that your level of professionalism and quality of product is high. The first thing you have to do is create your social media plan. Decide what content you want to share and keep it consistent. If you switch up the content on your page too often you may start to lose your followers because they’re no longer interested in what you have to say. Once you find your voice and style, run with it. Create content that you know your followers will be interested in.

Be open with your followers. If your or your brand has a goal, make it apparent on your social page. This transparency will create a trusting relationship between you and your followers. This says a lot about who you are.

 

Show your followers what your brand cares about.

Your social media page should be constantly updated to keep your image fresh. Keep your followers interested by giving them a glimpse into your company and the services you offer. If there are any changes, make sure you let your followers know. Remember to always maintain transparency.

Know your audience. It’s important that your brand’s image and social media aesthetic fit with what your audience would enjoy.

 

Tell a story.

Your followers want to see content they find interesting. Telling a compelling story through social media posts encourages your followers to “stay tuned” and watch for upcoming content. A series of posts to your page can tell a story, the captions to your photos can be written in a way story telling style, or if you’re on Instagram you can simply post content onto your pages story daily.

 

If your posts are planned in advance you can maintain an aesthetically pleasing social media page as well as tell a cohesive story on your timeline. If you plan on using Instagram to create your social presence check out our blog post “The Next ‘It’ Tool: Planoly” to get insight on a website that makes planning your social posts easy!

THO

The Meaning of PR: How it’s changing as we head into 2020

When public relations (PR) first came on the scene in the early 1900s, it was originally based on a journalism foundation simply because most companies wanted to get their name in the newspaper.  As it evolved, it became a sophisticated approach to creating the right message targeted to the right audience in the right way. This resulted in public relations becoming one of the go-to services for companies seeking to mold how their consumer viewed their brand.

Now, fast forward to today. Has the meaning of PR changed?  With the advent of technology and the wide variety of ways we communicate, it has morphed into an all-encompassing field that now crosses boundaries with digital, advertising, marketing and more.

The Expanding Public Relations Bucket

While traditionally public relations focused on editorial content, today the PR bucket holds much more than media relations. It now includes paid media (advertising), earned media (editorial coverage), shared media (social), and owned media (company newsletters, etc.). Yet, this can – and often does — fall under the PR banner. While all these tools and tactics offer PR teams a wide range of options in how they communicate their specific message, has it changed the meaning, or just the delivery of the message?

Public relations, at its heart, is all about storytelling. While today’s PR professionals are tech-savvy and trends-focused, the profession still concentrates on shaping the message, earning the trust of the audience and moving the needle on how a company is perceived in the marketplace. Yet today the line is blurring between all of the services found on a company marketing wheel. In fact, PR companies these days include full creative services such as video production, event development, brand marketing, media planning and buying, as well as content creation and influencer strategies.

With the growth of mobile, social and viral PR, the industry has gone through a radical shift. What we are seeing today is a re-calibration of offerings by agencies on both sides of the aisle. Creative agencies – typically in the advertising bucket – are using content creation, digital strategies and experiential designs while PR agencies continue to push into paid digital and advertising, as well as earned media.

The baseline of PR: The Art of Storytelling

While this “blurring of the lines” makes it harder for the consumer to determine the type of firm that they are looking for, does it change the meaning of public relations?  The art of storytelling hasn’t changed. PR is still rooted in influencing opinions and ultimately changing behavior. No matter the mode of delivery – social media, paid ads, influencer campaigns or other tactics – this is not going to change. We will always need to craft the narrative – people love a good story.

What has changed is the definition of PR in 2020. While it is still rooted in its storytelling framework, today the stories are crafted in a very different manner. They can be an immersive, interactive event for a branded hotel; the stories can be an unveiling of a product at a trade show; it may revolve around a strong thought leadership program or any one of a million ideas that create and shape a successful campaign.

As a result, some of the trends we’ll see in 2020 include:

  • A thirst for content that’s relevant and authentic. This means making sure that the company voice is true to the company values.
  • A blurring between the advertising agencies, public relations firms, marketing specialists and digital companies and more. As companies search for a solution to their needs, it is no longer a once-size-fits-all and companies will begin teaming up or even acquiring other firms that complement their strengths.
  • A shift in how some of the social media tools are being used; one prime example is Instagram. This platform is losing its organic audience as more and more companies are paying to capture their audience.
  • A move into micro-market outreach. As digital tools become more and more sophisticated, firms now have the ability to geographically target micro markets for specific messages. This will become increasingly the norm.
  • An increasing use of data to show ROI and validate the success of a campaign. While data has always been powerful, now the availability of data today shows what worked, what didn’t and even what actions were taken.
  • Technology will continue to rule (even more than before) as the primary tool for PR practitioners. This includes digital marketing automation tools. These tools create efficiency and effectiveness without having the practitioner sit at the desk to do it.

Public relations has evolved drastically, and no doubt this trend, too, will continue.  That said, while the delivery methods may have changed, the underlying definition has not.   After all, in the end, it’s truly all about the story.

THO

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Having the correct skills for a job is a crucial part of any hiring process. You have to be able to navigate numerous programs and the tech to make your job as efficient as possible. A new type of skillset that’s gaining traction in the professional realm is ensuring that employees have emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (also referred to as EI or EQ for emotional quotient) is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

While possessing the correct experience for the position is still a major factor, employers are increasingly taking into account the emotional intelligence capacity of applicants as well as their current staff, for many reasons.

Emotionally intelligent people know their limits.

A part of being emotionally intelligent, by definition, is to be aware of and control your emotions. Everyone has been in a work environment where there was a lack of self-awareness and perhaps, in some cases, a lack of control. Working with a team where even one member is easily frustrated or offended and takes out their emotions on others can drastically change the group dynamic. A team that has two or more members lacking these skills can be detrimental.

Emotionally intelligent people know their limits, and while they may still experience difficult emotions, they are aware of the limits and take time to step away. Likewise, if they begin to feel too strained or overwhelmed, they have the self-awareness to take a mental health day, or enjoy some of their vacation time. This is essential for maintaining a true work-life balance.

Emotionally intelligent people understand others’ limits.

Having the aptitude to take a step back and gain insight into someone’s intentions, evaluate any existing communicative strengths and weaknesses, and communicate effectively and honestly is a crucial part of being in a position of leadership.

Emotional intelligence requires you to behave empathetically. Empathy is rarely talked about in the context of the workplace, but it is still key. It is vital understand that you may not know the extent of their lives outside of work that may be impacting their mood, concentration abilities or overall productivity from day to day can inform a productive conversation about work quality and how to improve the situation.

Emotionally intelligence in coworkers minimizes internal stress.

The growing popularity in EI is largely due to the positive impact it has on the workplace. EI cultivates a culture of understanding, true teamwork, trust and responsibility. It eliminates internal stress and even when there are interpersonal differences, they are handled quickly and respectfully. This eliminates passive aggressive post-it notes, messages or strategically placed smiley-faces in emails. It eliminates work-place gossip. It drastically reduces the pressures that many have reported feeling from corporate leadership. This removal of stress lets employees do their work at their best.

Emotionally intelligent leaders make for a healthier workplace and happier employees.

It’s no surprise that having empathetic, self-aware coworkers and leaders in the office make for a happier workplace dynamic. Emotional intelligence is becoming seen as a skillset of its own. It’s being considered more and more valuable, as you can teach an employee how to learn programs and procedures, but it is far more difficult to teach emotional intelligence.

It’s not hard to see the many benefits of not only practicing emotional intelligence for yourself, but how powerful it can be in a workplace. We all strive to better ourselves and add value to our teams – developing your EI is a great way to start.

By Lauren Howe

THO

Blogging: Five Pieces of Advice for Success

Blogging is a great way to attract an audience to your website. Blogging is a great way to promote your business or yourself. To become a successful blogger, it’s important to ask yourself these five questions.

Has this been written about before?

Find your niche. Find a unique topic that few people are writing about. Once you find a specific topic you are passionate about, brainstorm possible extensions of the topic. A perk of writing about a unique topic is that there is plenty of room for extensive writing on related topics. For example, if you are passionate about real estate and interior design, you could feasibly write about laws or economy fluctuations that may impact real estate, up-and-coming student designers, and more. If you are a travel blogger, you can also blog about your favorite products, tips to make travel easier, or write about apps to organize your trip.

Are you passionate about blogging on this topic?

Write with passion. Writing a successful blog will come much more easily if you write about something you are passionate about. Showing that you are invested in and care about what you’re writing about will in turn interest the reader. If you’re bored – so are they.

Is the blog interesting?

Ask yourself, “Would I find this interesting if I hadn’t written it?” You can’t expect people to read your work if you don’t even find the topic interesting. When blogging, you want to build an audience that trusts and continues to come back to your content. If their first impression of your writing is that it lacks enthusiasm, relevant details and personality, then they won’t click on your website the next time an article pops up.

Why should people care about your blog?

With every blog post, it’s important to answer this question. Don’t leave it to your reader to decipher why they should care. Explain to your reader why your work will positively impact their lives. Maybe it’s making them more educated about community issues, a better home designer or a better parent. Maybe it’s giving them invaluable information about caring for their health. Let them know how to use the information you share in the way that produces peak results.

Is your blog informed?

Know your topic front, back and sideways. Stay informed with industry news to ensure your work is staying up-to-date and isn’t telling a story told by countless others. Reading your competition’s blogs can be a good way to see what works and what doesn’t, without having to go through the trial and error yourself. This is also a great way of keeping informed with what readers are interested in. The best way to improve your writing is by reading.

By Breeana Greenberg

THO

The Hoyt Organization Wins Three 2019 Prism Awards

The 55th Annual Prism Award were held recently to honor the best in public relations for public relations companies based in the Los Angeles area.  Hosted by the Public Relations Society of America’s Los Angeles chapter, hundreds of entries are submitted by agencies throughout the City. The Hoyt Organization was proud to be among the top winners, taking home three awards for campaigns that included recognition for a brand management program completed for HGA Architects & Engineers, a media relations program for Pinnacle Treatment Centers for a substance use disorder program and an award for THO’s own blog.

“Receiving awards from an organization such as PRSA validates the quality of our work,” says Leeza Hoyt, president of THO. “This type of recognition lets our clients know that our industry peers see our work as award worthy, and tells our employees that yes, we excel at developing programs that work. We are honored by this recognition and are proud to say we’ve been winning awards like these for more than 20 years.”

Named consistently by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the leading integrated communications firms in the greater Los Angeles area, THO has also been named as one of the top firms nationally by O’Dwyers, a news source that covers the public relations and communications industry.

To date, THO has won more than 100 awards for programs that encompass public relations, social media, integrated communications programs and more.

 

HOYT employees posing with the Prism Awards!
The HOYT girls posing with the Prism Award.

 

 

The HOYT girls taking pictures at the 2019 Prism Awards.

The Hoyt Organization team was thrilled to celebrate their colleagues achievements as well as take a moment to reflect on the year’s hard work and showcase their results.

 

 

THO

The Next “It” Tool: Planoly

As many of us have learned, social media is not as organic or effortless as it may first appear. There is a TON of planning that goes into all brands, companies, and of course influencers on social media. These days, Instagram is king, so that’s where most of the focus is centered. After experimenting with a slew of tools for social media planning and posting, Planoly has reigned superior – at least for Instagram account planning and management.

Planning

The reason why their program works so well is because it goes beyond just scheduling posts in advance. Planoly provides analytics and (my favorite part) aesthetic planning. Their tool for “aesthetic planning” allows you to upload photos and videos to see how they look in a particular order before actually posting them. That way you can assess the flow and look of your posts before you actually post them, ensuring a cohesive account design. Below is The Hoyt Organization Instagram plan so you can see what the format looks like:

Planoly

The calendar helps you to plan in advance, while the left column allows you to arrange the flow how you wish. This is a sneak peak of what *might* be coming up on the THO Instagram.

Analytics

Their analytics are also displayed in a user-friendly format and allow you to change timeframe which is a perk that many other services marketed as similar to Planoly do not always allow. Instagram itself does not make it easy to report analytics for clients over a period longer than a week, so using Planoly will help prove your results when they matter. It’s worth it to go premium (for only $9 per month). It unlocks more features like scheduling out Instagram story posts and allows you to go further back in time for analytics. Here is an example of the premium analytics from one of our clients:

Planoly
Planoly

From one brand manager/social media manager to another, do yourself a favor and go play around on Planoly. I promise it will make your life easier and your Instagram flow more successfully. For more tips on social media, read my blog post on Six Tips for Managing Social Media for a Business, Client or Brand.

THO

MEDIA MOMENT: Carina Wolff

Our Media Moment is Carina Wolff, a freelance writer. In charge of reporting women’s health, Fitness, healthy lifestyle and more, Carina is on a mission to report the best ways to take care of yourself, both inside and out.

Tho recently had the chance to speak with Carina about her thoughts on writing and how she became a journalist herself.

Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to become a writer.

I am a freelance health and wellness writer as well as a healthy food blogger/Instagrammer. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, but the topic of health came to me later in life. Since I was a little kid, I loved writing short stories and poetry, and I even started a class newspaper in 5th grade.

I continued on into the journalism program in high school, and then I went to NYU where I studied journalism and psychology. At that time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, but as I slowly started developing my own healthy eating and lifestyle habits as an adult, I realized I loved the subject and wanted to share my knowledge with others. I started my blog as a way to showcase my writing and the new healthy recipes I was creating. I wanted it to be more of a portfolio of my work/writing example, but it ended up evolving into it’s own successful business venture! It also helped launch my writing career. Through my blog, I got writing internships and my first freelance writing job. 


What is something you would like people to know about being a writer/journalist?

It requires a lot of reading! It helps to read a lot of other people’s work to get an idea of style and tone and to develop your own voice. As a journalist especially, it’s very important to keep up on recent research and industry news. It helps to have that background information for pitching and writing articles. Research is so important. I read a lot, whether it’s articles or books (both non-fiction and fiction), and it helps my writing voice come much more naturally to me. It also makes writing pieces easier when I have the background knowledge. 

What is your favorite piece you have written?

My favorite topic is the connection between food and mood, and I wrote my senior year thesis on the idea of using nutritional therapy for mood disorders. I spent the year writing and researching, and I think it’s still my favorite piece to this date, even though my writing style has evolved a lot since then! It’s just my favorite topic to explore, and it’s very underrated. 


As our Media Moment, What is something you’d like to share with our followers?

In addition to blogging and writing articles, I also love writing fiction. A dream of mine is to publish a young adult novel. I love coming of age stories, and I hope to write one of my own. 

THO

The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace

Everyone is born creative. As we grow older and use a little less of our imaginations, we stop nurturing our creativity. Finding the perfect outlet, especially in a job you enjoy, helps to foster inspiration. This is why embracing our imaginations causes passion to permeate any project undertaken, often resulting in exceeding expectations – and in the workplace, that’s a bonus. 

Nearly every job requires flexibility and creativity to an extent, but it is especially useful in the realm of public relations and strategic communications. Imagination and innovation are key ingredients to telling a compelling story and differentiating our clients from their competitors. 

Nowhere is imagination and innovation more important than when brainstorming. Kent Barrett, VP of the public relations firm, The Hoyt Organization, explains, “Our office has done exercises before, where nobody’s allowed to say, ‘No!’ or ‘the client won’t go for that.’ If the next person is going to speak, he or she has to actually come up with an idea that supersedes the previous idea. In other words, it’s all incredibly positive and anything goes. Ultimately, the last step of that creative process should be us asking ourselves, ‘What is realistic that we can actually get done?’ Oftentimes, you’ll find that by engaging in this free-associating process to begin with, that the final idea actually ends up being something you never would have considered to be realistic initially.” 

Using a divergent process to brainstorm, coupled with abstract problem solving often leads to the best results. There are no bad ideas in a supportive, collaborative brainstorming environment – just innovative ideas whose purposes have not yet been found, or identified – these ideas are called Nearlings.  

Using the techniques described above and coming up with “Nearlings” through vigorous brainstorming lets loose the creative forces. Lauren Howe, Associate Account Executive with The Hoyt Organization, describes the importance of moving forward with unique ideas, “Utilizing creativity for my job is really important, and I think it is in most workplaces. However, this creativity can take many forms – from finding new and exciting ways to pitch new business, redesigning your website, learning new communication styles, and more. Creativity isn’t confined to art or music or traditional avenues. If you aren’t being creative, you aren’t bringing new ideas to the table and moving things forward.” As Senior Account Executive for The Hoyt Organization Cinnamon Thompson explains, it is important to be open to non-traditional strategies which may help to secure a wider variety of media coverage. 

Everyone’s unique ideas enriches the whole office, “Just because everyone does something one way doesn’t mean that that’s the way to do it. It doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. I don’t believe one size fits all. And what each person brings to the table is unique,” says Amber Hergen Senior Account Executive for The Hoyt Organization. 

Finding outlets throughout the workday helps to nurture an imaginative mind. “I tend to consider the aesthetic of things more than the average person, and that is probably because of my interests and hobbies. I think this helps to boost my creativity elsewhere since inspiration can be drawn from so many places, people and things. Creativity is important in the workplace because it provides a foundation from which to think outside the box. It allows a bad idea to be transformed into a good idea with just a little time and attention,” says Bill Hess Account Executive with The Hoyt Organization. Nurturing your creative side is not just important for work, it also helps you look at the everyday mundane a little more positively and have more fun in your day-to-day activities. “I definitely find that my outside creative interests keep me sane. If I go too long without playing music, listening to music, creating art or participating in art-related activities, I become awfully grumpy. I know that my outside creativity definitely sure spills over into my work and I’m grateful. I will always find ways to be creative in any job that I have – monotony is not creativity’s friend and I have no use for it in my workday,” explains Erika Snow Robinson, Hoyt Organization’s Office Manager. 

In the end, creativity, imagination and inspiration are all rewarding, as it makes work a little more fun and a little less “work-ish.” “Creativity generates energy and builds a little more excitement than sitting in front of a computer day after day. It’s important to provide a bit of variety and allows for new and interesting things for people to work on as they move through their career,” says Leeza Hoyt, President of The Hoyt Organization. Using your imagination is the best part of public relations explains Pippa O’Brien, Account Coordinator for The Hoyt Organization, “I love the creative side of public relations – that’s one of the reasons why I went into it. We get to think of imaginative, compelling solutions for getting people in the media, events, social media, etc. so in a weird way PR is nurturing my own personal creativity. Attending events and pursuing digital and social media – all part of my job – help me be activate the right side of my brain and make my job something more than crunching data. The creative writing, strategic thinking, events marketing all make my job worth doing and keep me engaged.” 

 

By: Fall Intern Breeana Greenberg, Chapman University 2021

THO

What Makes a PR Firm The Best For You?

Today, PR firms fill a number of roles and functions, including media relations, corporate and marketing communications, brand awareness, creative solutions, and many more. Depending on your business, your relationship with your PR firm and the role of PR within your organization can vary considerably.

Regardless if a business is either trying to outsource the entire PR work or use a PR agency only as a support for the in-house communications team, most businesses share a similar understanding of what defines the best PR agency. Defining the criteria, however, is only one side of the story. Another task is asking the right questions and evaluating the answers to them.

Strategic communications agency ADVERUM in Vilnius, Lithuania, conducted a survey on the decision-making process among executives responsible for hiring PR agencies in September 2019. In total 82 decision makers at marketing and communication departments of international companies in Lithuania responded and shared their opinion on the most important evaluation factors when selecting and working with a PR agency. This is a summary of the key findings from the survey.

Look for Quality

Our survey reveals the most important factor for decision makers when choosing a public relations firm is the quality of services. This was identified as the major factor by 89 percent of respondents.

What defines quality?

About 81 percent of respondents trust the agency’s quality if they demonstrate:

  • an ability to meet deadlines and keep promises
  • capabilities to measure results and taking responsibility for those results (two-thirds of the respondents gave the highest score to this factor)

Finding the right agency shouldn’t feel like spinning a roulette wheel. Asking a few key questions upfront could help identify an agency that can deliver the best quality.

The key question to ask is simple:

What are the results of your recent projects?

Any struggle in answering this question in a direct manner gives a clear signal that the agency won’t take responsibility or care enough about your results. While listening to the answers, try to see if the agency’s representative talks only about immediate and tactical results they have achieved (number of publications, media outreach, etc.).

Do they talk about the change they have generated? Their impact could have caused a shift in opinion, increased sales, and more. You always want your agency to understand how their efforts contribute to your bottom line.

Look for Trust

The second most important aspect decision-makers look for when choosing a PR agency is trust. It comes mostly from recommendations or a personal “gut feeling”. This important factor was indicated by 49 percent of our respondents.

When it comes to trust in your future agency, it looks like it’s a combination of rational and irrational arguments. For example, 40 percent of respondents indicated that the “chemistry” within the first meeting with the agency plays a major role in the decision-making process. The same number of marketing and communications professionals tend to trust highly their friends’ and colleagues’ recommendations of an agency.

Some companies dig into research before listing the agencies to approach, while others ask for contacts to recent clients and make calls to them. If you’re about to make those calls or listen to recommendations, don’t forget to find out what scope of work and level of responsibility was given to the agency. That is a true reflection of the trust an agency really enjoys.

Agencies tend to brag about clients who are most widely known or have the highest marketing spend, but in most cases these brands and clients are not the ones that give an agency a real chance to make a change or a real strategic impact. Before looking for a partner you can trust you better:

  • define the role of the agency and
  • look for the recommendations in a similar role or agency/client relationship

Don’t Count Blindly on the Portfolio

One of the most common mistakes clients make when choosing a PR firm is giving blind trust to a PR firm’s portfolio and experience in a certain field or industry sector. Almost 70 percent of decision-makers say they would trust an agency with experience working in a certain field of industry.

When counting on this criteria, don’t forget to check if the people who have this experience are still with the PR firm and if those people will be the ones working with you. Pay attention to the fact that long-lifetime experience in a certain field has side effects, as well. People specializing in a certain industry gain unbeatable media relations and deep industry knowledge, but they also become less creative and often are too much focused on that area. It is hard to expect them to think outside the box.

Check Their Reputation

According to our recent research, the reputation of an agency in the market takes slightly less importance than personal trust, but it is still one of the major factors for most decision-makers.

It is worth noting that reputation is mostly considered as working with well-known brands and organizations. The only question you must ask here is:

What clients and brands do you currently represent?

Don’t get flattered by the worldwide-known brands that an agency has worked with 10 years ago. Only now is what matters.

A PR agency is a people’s business. You should pay a lot of attention to the stability, principles, and well-established management of an agency. And at the same time try and discover how the agency is changing within the market: Are there enough young people working for it? Does it really understand how to talk to your target audiences the way it is needed today?

Check Their Capabilities

The communications discipline is rapidly changing, and your desired agency should follow and reflect the changes.

We asked decision-makers what kinds of services they currently expect from their PR agencies. A total of 64% of respondents said that strategic counsel and planning are the most important capabilities, followed by media relations (57%), crisis communication (54%), and social media and digital capabilities (37%).

Your ideal future PR agency will tailor their approach around multiple channels and mix earned and paid media, digital and offline tools to help you achieve broader marketing and organizational objectives.

Your right future PR firm will align PR goals with your business goals. Your right future PR firm will ask questions about your business and will understand the answers and will proactively work to integrate with your team and provide strategy and deliverables that clearly match the company’s broader vision for success. Look for that approach and attitude.

Ask who will be your most senior consultant, and how many hours per month this person will work with you. It’s not a secret that agencies go to the first client meetings with people who are the best in sales, but often it’s the first and the last time the client sees them.

Manage Expectations

If the agency has experience in your industry, make sure there are no conflicts of interest. It’s more common than you might think. And as you could imagine agencies don’t like to turn down work. So, it’s imperative that you make sure you are comfortable with their existing clientele.

At the same time, make sure you talk openly about budget. Before meeting the agency, ask if they would be interested in your current spending. It can save a lot of time for both parties at an early stage and it also helps you find out if you might become “the least important” or “Level C” type of client in the agency’s portfolio. You always want to be important. Feel free to ask how many clients the agency has that operate within the same budget range.

Lifelong Love

Selecting an agency is not an easy task. Because you’re selecting a partner who will be and should be trusted not only with your most sensitive data, but also your goals, aspirations and biggest fears. A carefully selected and trusted PR agency should become your biggest cheerleader, protector, and a loving friend.

This is probably the reason most companies tend to work with their PR firm in the long run. When asked about that, 95% of our respondents said they intend to work with the same public relations agency for as long as possible, while only 5% said they would put up the assignment for a tender every year.

By Ieva Naujalyte: Ieva Naujalyte is a Managing Partner for Adverum Communications, an independent integrated communications agency, operating successfully since 2004.

The original article can be found on the PRGN website here.

THO

Five Ways Plants Benefit the Office

Working in an office, by its nature, calls for a large part of your day to be spent sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen; plants may be able to change this. While the occasional trip to the printer, a coffee run or a bathroom break, may help, it does not alter the day’s dynamic by much. Just adding a little life and greenery to your office space can improve your entire work environment.

The air is cleaner.

Many factors contribute to air pollution in today’s world. We can find the majority of these problems outside of the workplace. However, a few pieces of daily office-use equipment exist that can increase unhealthy ozone levels in offices which are often overlooked. The number one contributors to unhealthy office air are copy machines and printers. A study shows plants help break down these chemicals, taking in the ozone through little pores called stomates. Once the plants are done “digesting” the chemicals they are broken down into less concentrated forms. This process depletes the office area of ozone. The plants will then release clean, fresh oxygen into your office space!

Stress levels lower. 

It’s no surprise that any job, especially deadline-driven office jobs, can come with some stressors. Managing priorities, deadlines, coworker relationships, and work quality is overwhelming at times. Plants help decrease the physiological and psychological stress that, on occasion, is inevitable in the workplace. Plants create a natural feeling that soothes and lowers blood pressure which in turn, helps keep you calm thereby contributing to completing work efficiently and well.

They are low maintenance.

One of the best parts about having plants in the workplace is they don’t add any extra stress to an already busy office. Indoor plants require little light and water. Once the plant is in a pot, you don’t need to move or transplant it again. Office plants do not require water every single day, so there is no reason to worry when you leave the plant in the office over the weekend. Succulents and cacti are especially known for being low-maintenance and “hard to kill”. This makes them popular office plant choices. When you return to your desk Monday morning, your plant will be happily waiting for you!

Plants create natural decor.

People love plants! Employees working in the office day-to-day, visitors and clients alike walking into the office will instantly notice and have an attraction to the space. This is a result of a connection to the outdoors and its calming effects. We can attribute our love for plants to a scientific theory called Biophilia hypothesis. Biophilia hypothesis states that people seek connections with any form of nature, in any way. It is not natural for human beings to be inside for the vast majority of hours per day – bringing nature into the space is a great way to include the opportunity to connect with nature, while getting things done.

 

Plants keep you creative and productive.

Colors affect the human mind and can often impact emotions and moods. Because of the greenery plants provide, it induces creativity and it stimulates the imagination. You insert bright colors sparking inspiration when you add a plant to the office. Creative juices flowing through the brain increase workers’ motivation and productivity.

 

It is easy to cultivate a calm and productive office space. All that you need to do is add a few plants!

 

 

By: 2019 Fall Intern, Brittany Plunkett, California State Long Beach, 2020

THO

Pet-friendly office: Straying from Office Norms can Increase Creativity

Here at Hoyt’s pet-friendly office, employees are encouraged to bring their furry friends to work. From Chief Napping officer Milo, Chief Barking Officer Stella Bean Barret, and chief treats Officer Buddy, our puppies are here to help us get the job done. Working in a dog friendly environment has its perks. Here are three benefits to animals in the workplace.

pet-friendly office

Stress Reducing

Spending time with your pets can help relieve stress by releasing Oxytocin. The release of Oxytocin can help you feel more connected with your coworkers as well. Plus, animals can act as a great buffer from stress, allowing you to handle stress much calmer with the help of our furry friends. A pet-friendly office can actually increase productivity. Spending time with your pets can not only decrease your stress, the extra love and attention your pets will get in the workplace can also decrease their cortisol.

 

 

pet-friendly office

Improves Health and Productivity

If you bring your dog in to your pet-friendly office, inevitably you will have to take the time to let your dog outside on a walk. These extra brief moments of activity can help keep the creative juices flowing throughout the day. Taking breaks to play tug-o-war or play ball with your pet can help to increase the quality of your work by allowing you to come back to your task with a fresh mindset. Plus, getting out of the office and getting some exercise and fresh air can increase your dopamine and endorphins.

 

 

 

 

pet-friendly office

Bonding with Co-Workers

A pet friendly work environment can facilitate fun and friendly interactions between co-workers and promote bonding. Spending a spare moment playing catch with your co-worker and their dog can boost workplace camaraderie. Shared values like a love of animals can quickly boost empathy and build bonds between co-workers.

 

 

 

pet-friendly office

Summer Intern Breeana Greenberg, Chapman University 2021

 

THO

Five key learnings from social media crisis

In today’s world, there’s no escaping social media – especially when it comes to crisis communications.

I can say this with authority since 99.9 percent of the crises we’ve managed in the past few years have involved one platform or another. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Yik Yak (yes, even Yik Yak, for those of you who remember 2016). Each platform presents its own challenges, of course, but the approach to managing the situation and the response more or less stays the same.

So, what do you do? How do you manage a social media crisis?

Prepare.

There’s no anti-virus software that I know of that will quickly and quietly fix a crisis. Especially one that is playing out online for all the world to see. Having a plan in place – and testing that plan – before a crisis occurs is the No. 1 step you can take right now to prepare yourself and your organization for that inevitable moment when you hear those three little words that nobody wants to hear: “It’s gone viral!” Part of that plan includes making sure that you know your channels, your passwords, and your team. More than one person on your social media team should always have access to each account, and at least one person should be able to access the accounts from a mobile device.

Your plan should also include likely scenarios and template responses – pre-approved messages that can be used in public and/or private message formats. Why is this important? Because a single tweet that goes unresponded to can kick off a digital firestorm that can take over and create a narrative of its own, leaving your organization – and your reputation – behind. In a true social media crisis, you don’t have the benefit of time to run a draft social media response up and down the ladder and through legal before posting. Do that ahead of time and save yourself from the headache that comes with waiting…and watching…a crisis snowball online.

Implement – and abide by – social media policies.

Developing guidelines and posting policies for external interaction with your social media channels sets clear expectations for acceptable/unacceptable usage of your organization’s pages. These policies will also give you a publicly stated set of rules to refer to in the event that you have to remove a particularly ugly or vicious attack on your platforms. But don’t, under any circumstances, start deleting or hiding comments – unless they violate said policies. Doing so will make the situation infinitely worse.

Listen, listen, listen.

The best way to know what’s going on before, during, and after a crisis is to listen. Monitor your own organization’s channels and that of news outlets that may be reporting on the issue. Pay special attention to trending topics and hashtags on each platform, flagging and screen capturing comments that are particularly concerning and may require priority treatment. Many times, you’ll discover new, and potentially actionable, information just by listening to the conversation.

When you do speak, speak with one voice and transmit one message.

The style and the exact words of the response may change to fit the platform, but the substance of the response should not. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of eyes just waiting and watching for inconsistencies and errors and tone-deaf or robotic remarks – anything to fan the flames and keep the controversy going. What you say online should be the same thing you said to the reporter who called a few minutes ago, and it should absolutely be the same thing you said to your employees.

Debrief. Clean up. And then start planning for the next crisis.

Once the storm has passed, it’s time to clean up. Did you promise any updates to anyone during the situation or event? If so, who needs to hear from you and when? Did your process work? What needs to be improved? Do you need to run through drills based on what your organization experienced? Should you update your policies and passwords? These are just some of the questions to ask yourself and your team before the next storm rolls through.

By Philip Hauserman: Philip Hauserman is Vice President and Director of Crisis communications at The Castle Group. 

The original article can be found on the PRGN website here.

THO

The Dress Codes: Why Athleisure Fridays are Better Than Casual Fridays

In this day and age, there are a plethora of company dress codes. Each workplace has its own vibe and standards. Some of these dress codes are ingrained in the type of work – for example, financial firms must wear business formal suits, whereas tech companies tend to do the whole T-shirt and jeans with slip-on shoes thing. And then of course, there are the companies that abide by a more professional dress code Monday – Thursday, and shift on Fridays to more “comfortable” or “relaxed” styles known as casual Friday.   

But here at The Hoyt Organization, we have Athleisure Fridays. This means instead of wearing your favorite casual outfit, co-workers are encouraged to wear elevated workout clothes. Athleisure has become popular ever since the rise of Lululemon and the trend of wearing leggings instead of real pants.

The danger of the typical casual Friday brings a certain episode of The Office to my mind. Angela doesn’t want to see Oscar’s toes, Meredith isn’t wearing any undergarments etc. HR could have a hay day. But with Athleisure there is a definitive dress code still being followed. If someone showed up in baggy grey sweatpants and an old T-shirt with holes, then that is a clear violation of Athleisure.

All in all, Athleisure is the perfect way to allow your employees to be more comfortable at work without compromising an actual dress code that people can easily follow. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a few looks to get your company started on an Athleisure journey of its own!

Women’s Athleisure Looks (dress codes approved)

   

Men’s Athleisure Looks

We would love to hear (or see photos!) of how your office handles Athleisure or casual Fridays. 

 

 

THO

“A Public Relations plan? What you should remember when creating a PR plan for your company

Most communications officers know what public relations mean, but rarely do they fully understand everything that should be covered when planning a company’s PR activities for an entire year to come. It’s not only the media, stakeholders or even social media influencers that need to be watched. It’s also about deciding how the company should be seen in the market, region and society. In the end the question is simple: what does your company stand for?

Creating and maintaining your public relations is actually one of the most important tasks in the company. It shouldn’t be dumped on the freshly hired assistant but handled with strategy and skill by a seasoned PR professional. A company cannot survive without good relations with the society it operates in, with its competitors, NGOs, political decision makers, labor unions and other relevant interest groups.

Good public relations and a positive reputation help companies in difficult situations. Only strong, durable brands survive crises.

The following checklist will help you build a solid public relations plan for your company:

  1. Don’t cut back on hours with your Situation Analysis

Always do your homework. Even if you’re an experienced company employee. Figure out what kind of impact your company wants to make next year. Which groups do you aim to persuade or charm? Are the needed actions possible in your current market situation or societal status? When economic stagnation comes knocking on your door it makes many things much more difficult. With a proper situation analysis, you can paint a clear picture of the current climate and scenery of your company’s business and its messages.

  1. Define your company purpose

Put in the words what your company aims and stands for. Make it crystal clear. Without purpose there is no sense of direction – and thus no real impact.

  1. Define the goal

No goal – no go. Always have a clear goal for your PR activities. How else would you be able to see if you have succeeded or not?

  1. Objectives split your goal into measurable units

Define KPI’s that you can use for measuring your success level and adjusting your plans and actions for the coming years.

  1. Remember to define your target audience every year

You’d be surprised how frequently both your target audience as well as target media can change.  Nowadays the target media could easily be an influencer instead of print media. Your investments in social media could be bigger than ever due to a new popular channel.

  1. Take time with the right key messages

One size does not fit all. When you’ve defined your target audience and media it’s time to compile the right key messages. Keep in mind what’s right for some, might be completely wrong for others. But this is why the digital age is so great: it enables us to use several messages in different channels and allows us to tailor messages according to the recipient.

  1. The right content in the right form

While traditional text content is not by any means outdated, we now also have other ways to convey our message to the chosen audience. Consider a video or a podcast instead of a press release. Surprising has value in itself.

  1. Don’t be stingy!

Companies invest hundreds of thousands to new products and services. When allocating money for the launch budget and PR activities it’s definitely not the time to start saving up and cutting costs. Remember, you only have one shot at a successful launch! Make sure it’s well thought out and the activities are big and visible enough. This is also the right time to utilize those well-built, good public relations that you’ve put effort into earlier.

By Paivi Holmqvist: Paivi Holmqvist is Managing Director of hasan communications a member agency of the Public Relations Global Network. 

The original article can be found on the PRGN website here.

THO

What To Do When The Media Gets It Wrong

When working with the media, it is essential to ensure the story is as accurate as possible. While the media usually strives to report the truth, in some cases, fiction is more interesting than fact. Wayne Corbett, Public Affairs Officer for the Air Force, recounted a perfect example of this from 1973. Sometimes even when you provide the correct information, the story that runs is far from the truth. This has the potential to damage you or your client’s reputation, negatively impact or misinform the public or make you lose credibility.

THE TRUE STORY

An airplane coming in from Andrews Air Force Base in Washington had two men on board. While headed to Edwards Air Force Base, just outside Los Angeles, one of the engines caught on fire. Despite best efforts of the aircrew to control the situation, about 200 miles out of Edwards, the fire got so bad that they lost control of the airplane. They crew received instruction to evacuate the aircraft once the plane flew over the desert. No civilians could be injured in this area. The aircrew parachuted to safety and a crew picked them up, taking them to Edwards Air Force Base.

THE STORY THAT THE MEDIA PUBLISHED

As this situation continued, Wayne maintained contact with the media. He let them know the story’s progression each step of the way.  “I turned on the news to see what kind of report, if any, they put together about the accident,” said Wayne. Despite having all of the correct information, when Wayne turned on the news, a different story was being told. “The lead story said, ‘unidentified flying object suspected of shooting down Edwards Air Force Base aircraft,’” said Wayne. “We let the media listen to the radio transmissions between the aircraft and Edwards Air Force Base. The media knew exactly what occurred before the aircraft went down. And they went right back to Los Angeles and made up a story of how an unidentified object shot down one of our airplanes. It’s total fabrication. It is really frustrating.” This type of situation is not all that uncommon.

THE AFTERMATH

While Wayne took the correct steps, the media chose to spin it in a different direction. Regardless of the public affairs official’s honesty throughout, in the end, the accuracy of the published story is the media’s responsibility. But they did not publish an accurate story. This meant Wayne had to get on the phone with them and let them know they did not publish an accurate story. “I got on the phone with the television station people and told them again what had happened to the aircraft.”

Sometimes, once you deliver the information, the story gets away from you. Wayne Corbett has shown us the perfect route to take if the media chooses to publicize a different angle. “If the story’s accuracy was compromised, I had to get back on the phone or sometimes I had to visit the media in person to repeat the story accurately.  The story had to be consistently truthful  and accurate day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month.  The more consistent we were, the better off we were in the long run because the public was going to trust us a lot more. Consistency was the key for a good reason:  It was practical, it was important and it worked.”

THO

Intern Advice for Rocking an Internship

Today, July 25th is national intern day. Through my summer internship at the Hoyt Organization, I’ve gained new skills through new experiences. Interning in such a positive work environment as allowed me to grow so much. In celebration of National Intern day, I’m sharing five key pieces of advice that I have learned throughout my internship so you can  gain the most from yours.

Absorb as much as you can

This summer I’ve learned so much about the industry I’m excited to go into. I’ve learned it’s important to come into an internship with an open mind and try to absorb as much as I can. Every experience is a learning experience, from growing comfortable answering the phones to handling your first media list.

Carry a positive attitude

When you become a positive energy source in the office you become a little more essential to office morale. Whether or not you can meld with other personalities and build positive relationships during your internship can be a huge factor in deciding your future at the company you are interning at. The relationships built in the office are key to having a positive experience during your internship. Plus, your positive attitude can be a great morale booster in the office.

Don’t make excuses

When you make mistakes (yes, you will make mistakes), don’t make excuses. Don’t pass the blame. Accept your mistake and take it as a learning experience. Ask your mentors to explain how you could do better. This will show your employer that you are humble and mature. This will show how you hold yourself responsible for your own actions.

Be confident

This internship was my first ever experience working. It was daunting at first but one thing I learned was the aphorism “Fake it ’till you make it” certainly holds true. Like many other women, I’ve found that it’s too easy to talk down your own abilities which can prevent you from being chosen for projects. This self sabotage can even hold you back from movement in the company.  Showing others that you are confident in yourself and your abilities helps to positively change how you and your work performance are seen.

Make an impression

I’ve learned through this internship that working with a smile and responding to requests with “happy to help” has shown how excited I am to be here. Offer your help to ease other’s workload whenever you can. This will help demonstrate that you are a team player. Above all, make an impression, hopefully a good one.

Summer Intern Breeana Greenberg, Chapman University 2021

THO

Five Best Apps to Assist Your Media Management

Communicating to a larger audience requires strong organizational skills and seamless time management. This holds true whether you’re doing media outreach/media management, trying to manage social media, or boost attendance for an event. Since part of being a successful communicator is being aware of and knowing how to correctly use the available tools, it is essential to remain up-to-date on programs that can help things run smoothly. Reaching your target audience in a timely manner is important because it provides the most value to your client. Whether you are new to media management and are unsure of the available tools or are a seasoned pro who is looking for new programs, we have complied a list of the top five programs changing the social media management game.

1. LNK.BIO

Lnk.bio is a website that can make managing an Instagram account a breeze. It allows you to include a link in the bio section of your account, simplifying staying current on news, events, and products. The program makes it quick and easy to promote projects or events, or even apply for a job you’re offering.

2. BeLive.tv

BeLive.tv helps take FacebookLive streams to the next level, allowing you to go Live in three styles: solo, interview and talk show. The solo option allows you speak to your audience as well as include viewers commentary on the screen. The interview option allows two individuals to merge both Live streams into one. The talk show option allows up to four guests to share a LiveStream. This tool is great for promoting events, interviewing a thought leader or event attendees or allowing room for more individuals in a conversation because of the varying features.

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a program that allows you to schedule social media posts and analyze performance with ease. Through Hootsuite, you can reply to messages and comments on any social media platform from one place. 

4. Buffer

Buffer is an app that simplifies managing your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn accounts by allowing you to schedule and post content from one centralized location. From the Buffer app, you can schedule and post content onto all social media accounts. Additionally, it analyzes how well your posts’ performance so you can improve your content.

5. Later.com

Later.com is an organizational platform that allows you to draft and schedule out posts ahead of time on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Due to the programs time-saving prioritzation, you can work in advance and ensure you never miss a post date. Later.com makes it easy to see what the post would look like on your timeline, because of the easy-to-use preview tool.

Certainly, many other programs can be used for media outreach. Because of the unique features on these cutting-edge apps, in contrast, the above can be a game changer for a driven communicator. Minimizing the number of programs you use can maximize your productivity and success.

Summer Intern Breeana Greenberg, Chapman University 2021

THO

Media Moment: Jessie Dowd

Our Media Moment is Jessie Dowd, editor in chief of design:retail, a leading print and digital magazine for retail designers. Tasked with providing timely and on-trend content as well as expert insights from around the world, Jessie has a front row seat for what is up-and-coming in the world of this multi-trillion-dollar industry.

THO recently got the chance to speak with Jessie about how she found herself working at design:retail and what a day in the life entails.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your path to design:retail.

 

I have a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from The University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. After school, I interned at a consumer magazine publishing house in Atlanta before moving to B2B and joining design:retail (which was known as DDI magazine at the time), where I’ve been for 13 years now. I started as associate editor, and progressed through various roles (managing editor, senior editor and executive editor). This resulted in eventually becoming editor in chief in 2019.

What trend have you seen in the retail industry that you’re most excited about?

I think it’s really exciting to see how once-online-only brands are realizing that a physical retail presence is an essential touch-point in growing their brands and overall success. Another exciting trend in retail is the concept of checkout-free stores (like the Amazon Go concept). The ways in which technology can aid the physical retail experience are just beginning to be explored.

What is your best piece of advice for PR professionals reaching out to design:retail or journalists in general?

Keep it brief! We get a lot of pitches. A concise email that clearly outlines a project with a brief description of pertinent info makes it easier for editors to filter relevant pitches quickly. We also love to see images (without having to request them). A link to a Dropbox where we can instantly see photos—and download if we choose to do so—is really convenient. And OMG please don’t call me. Maybe it’s just the Millennial in me, but I much prefer email—it’s faster and more efficient.

How do you come up with new story ideas?

I get ideas for new stories from everywhere, including news sites online, pitches from design firms and retailers, press releases and from industry contacts and writers.

Take a look at the design:retail website here!

THO

Ten Ways to Promote Workplace Health and Wellness

Health and wellness is key for employees to be happy and productive. Sitting at a desk all day can be draining and is not usually conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Our team tested out some of these small changes and we were able to improve the overall health and wellness in our office. We encourage you to try some of these tips out! 

#1 Invest in Standing Desks

It’s hard to sit in one place all day without getting restless or bored. The standing desk is a healthy solution to this problem because it allows employees to stretch their legs and stay productive. You can even hold competitions to see who can use their standing desk the most. It is a surefire way to get your office moving.

#2 Supply Healthy Snacks

Tempting treats at the office are one of the main reasons why people gain weight at work. There always seems to be a birthday, holiday or anniversary that is celebrated with cake or donuts. Instead of cutting out the celebrations, opt for more nutritious snacks. There are all kinds of meal delivery services these days, including healthy snack boxes that can be delivered right to the office. If that’s not in your budget, head to Costco and grab some healthy items. These could be trail mix, pretzels, popcorn or hummus or veggies.

Another alternative is to pick one party day a month. You can celebrate all the birthdays with a big cake or pot luck. If that’s not your style, maybe switch the Ben and Jerry’s out with Halo Top’s low calorie ice cream. Hint: it comes in over 25 delicious flavors! 

#3 Try 5-10 Minutes of Mediation at the Beginning of Staff Meetings 

Sometimes the best thing you can do to make your staff more productive is to actually give them a few minutes away from their work. There are all sorts of meditations and gratitude exercises that you can implement to help your team relax and refocus. The Hoyt Organization recently invited a meditation expert to our meeting to help us learn how to meditate, and boy was it a big hit! 

#4 Place the Printer or Coffee Maker at the Far End of the Office

The farther away, the longer the walks to go grab a cup of Joe or a printed report. These little walks not only give your team more chances to move their bodies, but they also provide a mini break from staring at the computer screen. People may groan about the less convenient placement, but over time their new habit will become a welcome break. It’s an unexpected yet effective way to boost office health and wellness. 

#5 Encourage Desk Plants 

Bringing a little nature inside the office can help your team to enjoy their work space more and can even help them to relax. Some of the best plants for office use are succulents which require little to no watering. If there are a lot of allergies going around, you can decorate your desk with a nice arrangement of plastic flowers to add a pop of color without all the pollen. 

#6 Offer a Discount Code to a Workout Class or Nearby Gym 

Finding time to workout can be hard with a full-time job. By providing a discount coupon or code for nearby classes or gyms, your team is encouraged to be active. You can make it a team building exercise and go all together, or you can simply support local businesses by choosing a gym in the area where employees can stay fit before or after work. Some companies even start workout clubs (like running or walking buddies) or some employees use their lunch break to hit up a class like Soul Cycle. 

#7 Encourage Water Intake With Fun Water Bottles and Flavors

The Hoyt Organization recently purchased personalized water bottles for the whole office. They came with straws, which are known to promote water consumption. We added everyone’s name so the bottles don’t get confused in meetings or on the drying rack. Additionally, providing lemons or cucumbers for people to flavor their water is a great way to get them to hydrate!

office water bottles with straw for health and wellness

#8 Two Words: Office Dogs

If your building will allow it, you should consider making your office dog friendly. The presence of dogs can reduce stress. It doesn’t need to be everyday, but maybe on Friday’s people have the option to bring their furry friend into the office. You can set a size limit so there aren’t a bunch of great Dane’s leaving large “presents” all over the carpet. It’s also important to do a trial run with the dogs to make sure they get along (Cue rotating schedule of office dogs). Another option is to have the ASPCA or another pet adoption agency bring some dogs to play with so your staff can relieve stress and potentially meet a new best friend. 

office dog Stella helping health and wellness    office dog milo contributes to health and wellness

#9 Boost Morale With Office Swag 

Take a page from the “fun office” like Google and Facebook! You can get branded swag for your staff to feel like a valued member of a team. Or instead spend that money on an item the whole office can enjoy like a ping-pong table, a treadmill desk (first come, first walk) or even a sparkling water machine to make hydration even more fun. 

#10 Start a Health and Wellness Program 

Turn healthy choices into a friendly competition. Tracking co-worker’s steps, exercise and water intake can boost competitiveness, motivating employees to be more health-conscious. Be sure to have a tempting prize for the winner, such as an extra vacation day or fit bit.

office health and wellness plan idea

Office health and wellness does not have to be hard. It just takes a little time, effort and creativity. Let us know if you have any suggestions or if you try any of these tips!

THO

Why Online Activism has the Power to Change the Way We Do Business

Online activism is a very potent tool for change. It gives activists who would otherwise go unnoticed an immediate and global audience to hear their side of a story. We’ve seen how activists can garner a groundswell of support. This support can overrule the ‘terms and conditions’ of business. It can even put world leaders in their place.

It is an instantaneous way for like-minded people to band together in one place. They can come together regardless of where they are. Companies who believe the way they do business will remain unaffected by the power of online activists should take heed from the lesson that one of South Africa’s biggest insurance brands have learned over the past year.

Local insurer Momentum Life had to rethink its life insurance policies. They had to do this specifically in relation to deaths as a result of violent crime. This was the aftermath of initially rejecting a claim. They rejected it due to a lack of disclosure of a pre-existing health condition at the time of signing up for the policy. Underestimating the power of social media is a hard lesson to learn. The internet is the biggest activist. It can hit hard when things go wrong. It is a lesson to not ignore your audience. Even if you think you’re right, acknowledge their concerns.

Companies are increasingly exposed to online activism thanks in part to the rise of socially-conscious consumerism. It has the power to affect real change either for or against businesses.

Businesses who haven’t invested in placing on record their reputation for being ethical and transparent will be particularly exposed in times of crisis.

Online activists vs. online saboteurs

It is important to distinguish between the online activist versus the online saboteur. A big responsibility rests on the shoulders of activists to ensure that they can stand by their point of view. This is especially true when it is tested. However well-intentioned, it can lead to unwarranted damage to brands.

When conversations ignite society’s emotions about a particular issue – whether it is for or against a cause – there are many “keyboard warriors” who jump on the bandwagon without really interrogating the merits of the issue at hand.

Online activism can be very unpredictable and can start a potentially open-ended conversation to which activists can return to again and again.

This raises one important issue for businesses and an important opportunity. This is to be much more in tune with the conversations that their audiences are having. It is to be sensitive to their causes. It is inevitable that mistakes will be made, but the key is to get ahead of the problem before being taken to task.

It’s critical that companies are proactive when problems do arise to explain, apologize, repair the damage and rebuild trust on the premise that a problem will not reoccur. Business must be able to answer the question ‘what is the worst thing that could happen to our company on social media today, and are we ready to deal with it?’

The online world has enabled society to become a conscience for businesses. It is a conscience that is ever vigilant and fearless in its pursuit of what it believes is just.

By Lynn Erasmus: Lynn Erasmus is Managing Director of Cape Town-based strategic communications, marketing and public relations consultancy HWB Communications Pty Ltd. a member agency of the Public Relations Global Network. 

The original article can be found on the PRGN website here.

THO

Four Pieces of Advice from an Air Force Public Affairs Officer

In light of today’s Fourth of July holiday, we are proud to showcase Wayne Corbett, a Public Affairs Officer in the Air Force for 21 years. Corbett graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1963 with a degree in Journalism and from the University of Georgia with a master’s in Journalism. Corbett served with the Air Force for 30 years, ending in 1993, and then helped create a civilian museum in Savannah Georgia.

 

What is a piece of advice you have for somebody who is new to the industry? 

You need to do your homework before you go to work for an organization. make sure after you get hired or even before you start, that you get as smart as you can about the company or the organization that you’re representing. When I first went into went into Air Force public affairs, I had nine years of doing other jobs in the Air Force. When I switched over to public affairs, I felt like I would be behind the curve. The absolute opposite was true. Those nine years of doing other things in the Air Force, were absolutely vital. So, my first piece of advice is if you want to work for a company, make sure you get as smart about that company or organization as you possibly can. Learning about an organization is a continuing effort. Know your product, know your company, know your organization inside out.

 

How do you feel about the increase in the number of people getting their news from social media?

On one hand, it might be appealing because of the speed of things. We have more available to us now because of the internet. It’s nice to have that kind of speed and that kind of technical equipment. It helps us get the job done.

On the other hand, we still need to make sure we’re getting it right. Don’t just get the news first, get it right. The media is big on having the story first rather than making sure the story is the most correct. How many outlets are saying “you heard it here correct?” I’d love to hear more outlets focusing on that rather than the speed.

 

How do you feel about the phrase “Spin” in PR and public affairs? 

I hear that word used a lot and I get concerned that the general public is getting it in their minds. People are growing accustomed to assuming that the news is to be trifled with and tampered with. It’s disturbing to me that is makes people think that public relations and news can be artificial or unreal.

 

What is your biggest take away from your public affairs experience? 

Public relations is not for the faint of heart. You have to stand your ground with the external audience and sometimes you have to stand your ground with your own bosses to make sure you’re doing what’s right and proper.

THO

Public Relations Firms Specializing in Real Estate

Working in the public relations industry presents numerous exciting angles. In an ever-changing and ever-expanding industry, it is essential to know the news and trends. This holds especially true in your clients’ industries. This is no exception for public relations firms specializing in real estate.

The following is five reasons why public relations firms specializing in real estate are the only option for your real estate business.

You don’t want a public relations firm to guess their way to success.

Communicating strategically for a business specializing in real estate is not something that you can figure out as you go. You know this, your business knows this, and PR firms with proven experience in real estate know this. The industry is far too complex and too quickly changing to get quality through guess work. PR firms specializing in real estate know that the nuances of the industry can make it difficult to jump into. For example, an agency that focuses on public relations for consumer and lifestyle brands may not have an easy time transferring their knowledge to the real estate sector.

Experience means they already know what’s going on in your world.

As a real estate public relations firm, we have the ability to work in this industry with confidence and proven success. The Hoyt Organization is already monitoring real estate trends. We also are a PR firm representing healthcare, and a public relations firm representing behavioral health. We are a PR firm representing consumer/lifestyle, and a PR firm representing finance. While we are able to be multi-faceted, it is important for businesses seeking public relations firms to find an agency with in-house, proven real estate experience.

You don’t just want content – you want quality content distributed over the right channels at the right time.

Real estate PR firms know the best outlets and reporters to connect with to cover the exciting things happening in your business and the projects you are working on. A large aspect of PR is writing. This could be a press release, or ghost-writing a byline for a principal at a firm. While it’s not necessary to be an expert in everything, real estate and architecture are fields you have to have a solid understanding of before you start writing for high level principals or executives.

They know what you need.

You may be new to the world of public relations. When starting out, you might not fully understand what the impact is. It can be tricky to understand the capacity of public relations work and how it can benefit you if you are otherwise unfamiliar. Unless the agency you’re working with truly knows real estate, they won’t be able to perform at their best. If they’re not well-versed, you won’t see the best results. Finding an agency that specializes in your world will cut back on hours spent trying to understand it, saving you money and increasing the quality of your work in the long run.

It’s a partnership.

Working with an agency that truly understands your industry is invaluable due to the experience brought to the table. Your business is not just hiring them to do your public relations. You’re partnering with them to grow your business, communicate strategically and to bring new ideas to the table. You want any PR campaign to be a turning point for the company.

At the end of the day, you want someone who can be an asset to your business. Find someone who has proven experience with your industry, and can show you their successes.

THO

PTSD Awareness Day

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder is a term most Americans have, for better or worse, become more familiar with in recent years. Today, June 27, is PTSD Awareness Day. The psychological condition, usually spoken in reference to veterans, hardly only applies the veteran population. Anyone who has survived or is a witness to a traumatic event may be at risk for developing PTSD. Read ahead to learn more about the disorder in honor of PTSD Awareness Day, its history and how to manage it.

The Disorder

PTSD is very common, with over 3 million cases in the United States each year. Since PTSD is common, PTSD awareness can drastically improve the stigma surrounding the diagnosis. This condition is due to being a witness to a terrifying event. Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event brings it on. This includes scenarios outside of military combat and situations such as physical or sexual assault, a car accident, an animal attack, a severe injury, armed robbery, and more. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety and panic attacks. Any of these symptoms can cause significant difficulties in going about daily life. They are most debilitating in social or work situations. Personal relationships may also suffer as a result.

Symptoms

There are four types of PTSD symptoms. The four are intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reaction.

  1. Intrusive memories, often known as flashbacks. These are reoccurring and unwanted distressing memories of traumatic event. This could include nightmares or stress when reminded of something relating to the memory.
  2. Avoidance of places, activities or people which remind you of the trauma.
  3. Negative change in thinking and mood, such as hopelessness, numbness, detachment, difficulty maintaining close relationships and memory problems.
  4. Changes in physical and emotional reactions, including feeling easily scared, self-destructive behavior, always being on guard, and trouble with sleep and concentration.

All demographics are at risk to develop PTSD. Specific factors can make an individual predisposed to PTSD after trauma, such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, lack of a strong support system and a familial history of mental illness are all risk factors. PTSD can also manifest anxiety, depression, substance abuse, isolation, self-harm, and even suicide if the individual does not receive treatment.

The History of PTSD

PTSD is not new. It has been around for a long time. The history of the outlook on and treatment of this condition has deep military roots. Thousands of veterans were simply put in insane asylums during WWI. There were advances made in treatment options after World War I, largely due to the overwhelming number of veterans who returned traumatized. Doctors observed and developed several diagnoses to classify intense feeling of fear, hopelessness and psychiatric impairment.

During that time in our history, the condition was euphemistically referred to as “shell shock.” The name was derived from the belief that the shocks of artillery explosions were damaging nerves. Combat-related trauma being at fault was not even under consideration. When World War II came, veterans returning home with trauma got a  “combat exhaustion” or “combat fatigue” diagnosis. It wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the psychiatric community began a more comprehensive discussion of PTSD. Finally, in 1980 the third edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published with PTSD as a new diagnosis.

Managing PTSD

Make note that professional help may be neccesary if you or a loved one are experiencing PTSD. PTSD Awareness is essential since mental health requires support from the community. This is especially true in cases where PTSD has produced additional psychiatric issues. These problems can include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts and attempts. There are a number of ways to manage PTSD without medications in some cases.

1.) Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is proven to reduce depression and boost self-perception. Multiple methods of mindfulness mediation are applicable, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, meditation-relaxation, and mantrum repetition practice. Each option varies and applies on a case-by-case basis.

 

2.) Exercise

Many struggling with PTSD report that engaging in enjoyable physical activities increases performance in every-day situations. Exercise is also proven to reduce stress levels and cope with symptoms.

 

3.) Art

This form of therapy is gaining popularity in recent years. This is for good reason. People who have experience with trauma receive instruction to to externalize their emotions and learn to cope through a variety of art mediums, such as painting or sculpture, led by a specialist. Art is a way for people to process.

 

4.) Pets

Adopting a pet can help people cope with trauma is another popular method. These pets are often have training to specifically recognize and prevent triggering PTSD symptoms. Spending as little as one week with these dogs can improve PTSD symptoms by 82%. That is a big improvement. Many veterans choose a pet for this reason.

 

5.) Journalling

Expressive writing is shown to improve both the physical and psychological health for people with a number of physical and mental health conditions. Psychologically, writing helps people cope with PTSD symptoms, such as anxiety and anger. The effects are seen physically in lower body tension and focus restoration. Physical effects can be very hard to manage. These effects are frustrating.

Final Tips & Advice

Looking into treatment methods when an individual is experiencing PTSD is essential. It is important. A psychiatric professional will also inform you of your options. Often, those suffering are hesitant to find professional help. Never suggest professional help in an argument or a flashback episode. A great beginner’s resource is the website ptsdalliance.com which lists psychiatric professionals and support groups nearby.

THO

The Five Proven Benefits of Meditation in the Workplace

Meditating offers an abundance of benefits. It can be especially helpful in a workplace setting. Mindfulness and meditation help to bring your attention inwards. Through focusing on the present and noting any thoughts mediation can help you understand yourself better.

Our agency recently had the privilege of inviting in a meditation expert to lead our teams in a series of exercises. Focusing on health and wellness in the workplace has been proven to increase employee happiness and decrease employee burnout. Due to these benefits, bringing a meditation expert into the workplace was a great way to unwind with coworkers. We were able to relax in a setting that we would otherwise not have the opportunity to. Many people may have developed an interest in it, but haven’t had a chance to try it yet or don’t know where to start. This was the perfect opportunity to try it. It provided a fresh perspective on the importance of unwinding in your daily lives. Here are a few more benefits that meditating can have.

Meditating can lower stress

Learning to manage stress properly can trigger a domino effect of positive outcomes. Decreasing your daily stress is shown to lower blood pressure. Lower blood pressure is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. These practices can teach you to stay focused on the present, both during meditation and in your day-to-day life. Staying present minimizes stress. It helps to keep you from worrying about the past or future.

Meditation can boost Productivity

Meditating can help boost energy levels for several reasons. Too much stress is proven to minimize productivity. Meditation decreases the stress hormone, cortisol, removing an energy drain. Meditation can help with insomnia by giving you the tools to help you clear your mind of stressors and tomorrow’s worries. By helping you get a better night’s sleep, you’ll have more energy throughout the next day.

Meditative practices increase Quality of Work

Meditating can increase your quality of work. As a communicator, it is important to re-center yourself to ensure you are focusing on what’s really important. Meditation can help you keep calm when distractions and deadlines come. It can help you focus on what you and your clients need. It improves your ability to work under stress through heightened focus and attention. By focusing attention, meditation helps keep you from careless work or sloppy multitasking. By giving your thoughts attention, meditation gives you the skills to refocus. This is important. It can decrease the amount of time your mind is wandering. Repetitive meditation practice may even promote divergent thinking which may help boost your creativity.

Meditation has shown an improved mood

Through increased self-awareness, compassion for others and yourself, and improved communication, meditation can improve your mood. By decreasing irritability, meditation can therefore increase happiness. Focusing on the present is powerful. Meditation allows you to become more level-headed and less reactive to negative feedback. The practice may even reduce job strain and burnout. This has lasting positive impacts. It makes this practice a major asset to the workplace.

Meditating has proven positive long-term effects

Long-term effects of meditation can be seen through daily practice. It may begin with stress relief but by practicing, you can become more aware of others and yourself.  In fact, meditating may change the way you engage with the world. You may become calmer and more level headed, because of committing to regular practice.

Summer Intern Breeana Greenberg, Chapman University 2021

THO

Media Moment: Jessica Isaac

Jessica Isaac is a writer for Apartment Therapy as well as a a freelance professional photographer.

You can see Jessica Isaac and her work on her website here and on Instagram here.

What led to your interest in writing? What led to your interest in photography?

I’ve always loved the slow, introspective nature of writing. Though, I tend to veer on the side of introverted, so writing is the perfect way for me to express what’s inside my head without the dark cloud of social anxiety getting in the way. In a similar manner, I gravitate toward architectural and still life photography for the same reason. While I love to look at candid photography, it’s my tendency to want to have more control and intention with the images I produce. Shooting interiors (which is what I specialize in) allows me to be slow and intentional to create a final image that is more aspirational than photo-journalistic. Writing about and photographing home interiors is the perfect subject for me, as the beauty of a home’s design feels very intimate and self-reflective.

What is something that you would like people to know about freelance writing?

Having a voice is probably more important than technical perfection. Being trained in school to write in perfect MLA format can really creep up on you and stifle your style. Especially in the digital world, capturing a reader’s attention is crucial, and copy editing oversights can be continually adjusted over time (obviously you should always copy edit your own work to help ensure this doesn’t need to happen, because grammatical errors will also creep up on your over time…in the comments section). Also, if you have a quick turnaround (more than likely), try not to overthink it. If it’s not your best creative work, you probably don’t have enough time to make it your best creative work, so practice getting good at knowing when it’s to stop, turn it in, and get it off your plate.What’s your favorite piece you’ve written? Why?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. I really like writing pieces like Design (& Life!) Lessons from a Forever Renter because I get to commiserate with and (hopefully) inspire a community who wants to take control of their own homes, whether they own them it or not. Since I am trained in the interior design world, I see a lot of images and articles that make us all feel like our own lives will never be adequate. Apartment Therapy is such a great forum for celebrating diversity in home design.

Are there any trends or changes you’ve noticed in the architecture/interior design sectors?

It changes so fast, if I say anything specific, it will probably be out of style already! The broadest shift right now is away from bright white-washed walls and stark minimalism, towards warmth and color.

What’s something people might not know about you?

A lot! I don’t display much of my personal life on the internet. So, I guess the fact that my home never feels finished. I see so many beautiful homes on the regular that my inspiration is never-ending!

 

Thanks, Jessica Isaac for taking the time to participate in our Media Moment. If you are interested in being on our media moment section, please reach out to lhowe@hoytorg.com.

THO

Media Moment: William Speros, online editor

William Speros is the online editor for Hospitality Design, Contract, and Design:Retail. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

What led to your interest in journalism?

I’ve always aspired to be a storyteller. I was also curious about so much of the world and wanted to better comprehend its scope. At some point in high school I realized people were the best way to accomplish this. That led to photography courses and the school newspaper. I went on to pound the pavement for years in New York as a beat reporter and cover topics ranging from rumors of electioneering to workplace efficiency to Bronx-born musicians and artists. I’m lucky that I get to still talk to such a colorful spectrum of people as an editor, and see through so many different eyes.

It was and remains deeply rewarding to gain a person’s trust in order to help us all make sense of the world. There are not many other jobs that come to mind in which honesty and openness are an imperative. I’ve always worked hard not to embody the ambulance chaser archetype. The poet Tommy Pico once referred to poets as “stewards of language”. I like to think of reporters and editors perhaps as stewards of truth.

What is something that you would like people to know about what you do?

Design is one of those beats that infiltrates all facets of my life because built environments inform how we engage with the world. Moreover, the evolution of public spaces illustrates our social and political urgencies. Writing about design is a really valuable experience for me because it contextualizes where we are and where we may go. At the end of the day, design is about finding solutions and it provides a unique (and less stressful) perspective on current affairs.

What’s your favorite piece you’ve written as an editor? Why?

I hesitate to identify as a sneakerhead. But Nike sneakers are certainly favored by my disposable income. Nike makes innovation appear so seamless. From how it brands itself, to how we buy Jordans. When the opportunity arose to get a first-look at its Fifth Avenue flagship last year, I felt as though I was getting a glimpse behind the curtain. It was magical to experience a space that lived and breathed. I cannot recall many other spaces that felt alive to me. Not only does the Nike House of Innovation 000 outshine every other retail space on Fifth Avenue, but in my opinion, it sets a precedent for what elevated shopping looks like.

Are there any changes you’ve noticed in the architecture/interior design sectors?

The emphasis on sustainability has unsurprisingly become far more urgent. It has also illuminated many other areas of need. This includes access to clean drinking water, and increased accessibility for the physically disabled, that thoughtful design can support. Something as simple as the use of locally sourced or sustainable materials not only protects the planet, but also heightens our own appreciation of these spaces. I have to say, designers convey a lot of optimism and their ability to perceive the physicals dimensions of a better world quells my cynicism.

What’s something people might not know about you as an editor?

I am pretty open about what kinds of media I consume, but most people probably don’t know that I have a soft spot for trashy reality TV. My latest indulgence has been Naked & Afraid and I think this may be the summer I dive into Love Island. We are all entitled to a healthy dose of escapism.

THO

Public Relations Global Network Bi-Annual Meeting

Succession and acquisition strategies, digital solutions and services, growth in the Asia-Pacific region and reaching and involving Generation Z among larger opportunities discussed by global PR professionals at the public relations global network ‘s bi-annual meeting.

The Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) held its bi-annual meeting. The meeting took place in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, between May 16-18, 2019. The group’s leadership teams discuss best practices and sought new ways to collaborate and develop business partnerships globally. These meetings help inform the group’s direction as a result of each member’s input.

The three-day event includes sessions and presentations on leadership succession and agency acquisition strategies. This enhances individual agency performance, growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region and digital solutions and services spearheading change in public relations.

Members present had a chance to enjoy insights from René C.W. Bounder, “Brain Agent” and counselor to the world’s top-ranking companies. In his keynote speech he shared his recipes to the best approaches to reach and involve Generation Z and Millennials. Bounder points to new avenues of public relations and communications in a digital age. Because so much is digital this was an essential portion.

The Amersfoort meeting’s attendance includes members from 41 agencies. PRGN members chose to elect Aaron Blank, CEO and president of Seattle-based The Fearey Group as its 27th president. Because of his experience he made a fantastic candidate. Current members also selected two new agency members. Due to this selection, the global communications group now is comprised of 50 independent, owner-operated communications and public relations firms.

PRGN was founded in 1992 by a group of visionary public relations leaders. PRGN is now one of the largest international networks of independent public relations and communications agencies. It has more than $85 million in revenues. Members amount to approximately 1,000 professionals globally.

PRGN partners meet twice a year to share knowledge and develop global business. Since they change locations each time, the next meeting will be held in Puerto Varas, Chile. This is on schedule during Oct. 24-26, 2019. PRGN’s agency members are independent, local, owner-operated public relations, digital marketing and communications firms that share expertise and resources, while providing broad-based comprehensive communications strategies to clients worldwide.

Companies or organizations with interest in the services of PRGN’s local agency network can reach out. Visit www.prgn.com or contact PRGN’s executive director, Gábor Jelinek at gabor.jelinek@prgn.com.

Independent agencies with interest in joining the network can visit the member recruitment section of the PRGN website for more information. You can also email PRGN Membership Chair David Wills at david.wills@mediaprofile.com. Willis is senior vice president of Media Profile

About Public Relations Global Network (PRGN)

Clients across six continents depend on the combination of resources of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN). They rely on PRGN to deliver targeted public relations and marketing campaigns in regions around the world. It is possible due to the global presence. With revenues of more than $85 million (US), PRGN is one of the world’s largest international public relations networks. PRGN harnesses the resources of 50 independent public relations firms and approximately 1,000 communications professionals to connect international companies and organizations with individual and culturally diverse markets globally. Visit PRGN online at https://www.prgn.com, on Twitter at @PRGN and on Instagram at @publicrelationsglobalnetwork.

The original article is on the PRGN website here. Please share and attribute to the original PRGN article.

THO

PRGN Adds Offices in Finland and New York, Elects Aaron Blank as President

Group elects new president and adds two new member agencies from Helsinki (Finland) and New York (USA) during bi-annual meeting; Succession and acquisition strategies, digital solutions and services, growth in the Asia-Pacific region and reaching and involving generation Z among larger opportunities discussed by global PR professionals, PRGN.

Amersfoort, Netherlands (May 23, 2019) – The Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) announced today the slate of new officers for one of the top five largest networks of independent PR and communications agencies. The appointments were announced during PRGN’s recent bi-annual meeting in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. The three-day event, where the group’s leadership teams discuss best practices and find new ways to collaborate and develop business partnerships globally, included sessions and presentations on succession and acquisition strategies, agency performance, growth in the Asia-Pacific region, digital solutions and services and reaching and involving Generation Z.

At the Amersfoort meeting, attended by members from 31 countries, PRGN members elected Aaron Blank, CEO and president of Seattle-based The Fearey Group as its 27th president to lead the worldwide network of 50 independently owned firms for the next 12 months. C.L. Conroy, president and CEO of The Conroy Martinez Group, assumes the role of immediate past president and chair of the Advisory Board. Other officers named include: President-elect Robert Bauer, managing partner of accelent communications (formerly asoluto communications), a leading PR agency in Vienna, Austria, Amanda Hill, principal and CEO of Dallas-based Three Box Strategic Communications who will serve as Treasurer and Andy See Teong Leng, principal partner and managing director of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based Perspective Strategies who will serve as Secretary.

Aaron Blank, president/CEO of Seattle-based The Fearey Group, president of PRGN. Right

“With 50 offices on six continents, PRGN is as strong as ever,” said Blank. “The back-half of 2019 is going to be profound for PR business throughout the globe. I am truly excited that we can offer communications services to clients in practically every corner of the world.”

PRGN ADDS TWO MEMBERS IN EUROPE AND U.S.

At its spring meeting, the global agency network also selected two new agency members and now is comprised of 50 independent, owner operated communications and public relations firms.

New York-based Southard Communications was selected to represent the group. Established 25 years ago, Southard Communications identifies itself as a strategic marketing and communications partner focused on helping clients build business in a cost-effective and meaningful manner. Southard Communications was founded by Bill Southard, a communications professional with more than 35 years of experience, who has counseled some of the U.S.’s leading Fortune 500 firms.

Left to right: C.L.  Conroy, president & CEO of The Conroy Martinez Group; Päivi Holmquist, managing director of hasan communications; Bill Southard, founder, chief executive officer of Southard Communications and David Wills, senior vice president of Media Profile.

Also joining the members of PRGN agencies is hasan communications, a communications and public relations agency based in Helsinki, Finland. Led by Managing Director Päivi Holmquist, the agency helps organizations to grow their visibility and brand awareness supporting them with innovative thinking, carefully targeted communications, engaging storytelling and effective marketing.

Founded in 1990 by a group of visionary public relations leaders, PRGN is one of the world’s largest international networks of independent public relations and communications agencies with more than $85 million in revenues and approximately 1,000 professionals throughout the globe.

PRGN partners meet twice a year to share knowledge and develop global business. The next meeting will be held in Puerto Varas, Chile from Oct. 24-26, 2019. Agency members are independent, local, owner-operated public relations, digital marketing and communications firms that share expertise and resources, while providing broad-based comprehensive communications strategies to clients worldwide. Companies or organizations interested in the services of PRGN’s local agency network can visit www.prgn.com or contact PRGN’s executive director Gábor Jelinek at gabor.jelinek@prgn.com for more information.

Members of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) recently convened in Amersfoort, Netherlands

Independent agencies interested in joining the network can visit the member recruitment section of the PRGN website for more information or email its membership chair, David Wills, senior vice president, Media Profile at david.wills@mediaprofile.com.

About Public Relations Global Network (PRGN)

Clients across six continents depend on the combined resources of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) to deliver targeted public relations and marketing campaigns in regions around the world. With revenues of more than $85 million (US), PRGN is one of the world’s largest international public relations networks. PRGN harnesses the resources of 50 independent public relations firms and approximately 1,000 communications professionals to connect international companies and organizations with individual and culturally diverse markets globally. Visit PRGN online at https://www.prgn.com/, on twitter at @PRGN and on Instagram at @publicrelationsglobalnetwork.

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THO

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