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June 28, 2017

Wait A Second…I Can Volunteer and Get Healthy?

Reston-Oktoberfest_2011_279Oktoberfest Reston is right around the corner and the staff at Myers Public Relations is counting down the days to warm pretzels and a funky polka beat. This annual beer and food festival, hosted by Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, is a prime opportunity to connect the Northern Virginia community and celebrate traditional German culture, as well as talented dancers, musicians and food vendors.

It’s also a fun chance to volunteer and reap some surprising benefits. Not only do volunteers experience pride and satisfaction knowing that their contributions have made a project successful, but it’s actually good for your health! A study by Johns Hopkins University found that individuals who volunteer regularly have higher brain functioning than those that do not. Volunteering exposes people to new activities and experiences, which gets those synapses firing – but a happy brain isn’t the only benefit.

Other medical studies have discovered that people who volunteer their time to causes they support have lowered blood pressure, lowered mortality rates and increased positive thinking. The key to this, of course, is doing something that you enjoy, which is why we’re dusting off our beer steins and rolling up our volunteer sleeves for this Oktoberfest.

Festivals are a great way to celebrate the diverse community that makes Northern Virginia a cultural hub, but they also connect people, improve education and reinforce camaraderie. Reston’s annual celebration of music, local food and craft beer is no different. So do your body good and make some new friends this October. Say “Prost” to volunteering!

Out of the Box Marketing Campaigns – Round Three – Shaving Time and Money

We promised a few of these, so here’s another one of our favorites. We have to do it. It’s mandatory. Everyone should know this video.

This video and marketing campaign was inspired by the quintessential grandfather, the wonderful tough guy out on the prairie that he was, and how the only thing he ever needed was one blade to shave. We’re talking about this one:

Back in 2012, Dollar Shave Club released its infamous video, which has scored nearly 22 million views and it never gets old. In fact, it sent so much traffic the website that it crashed the company’s server in the first hour. What makes the razor delivery company’s video so catchy is it’s apparent disregard for advertising standards. It’s self-deprecating and arrogant at the same time. It uses the f-word and succeeds. It embraces every nuance of good comedy – slapstick, one liners and…timing.

dollar shave 2

Twelve thousand people signed up for the Dollar Shave Club service within 48 hours. The company now boasts 2 million subscribers. But profitability didn’t impact their levity, which is an inseparable part of the brand. Their print and social media ads continue to embrace comedy and challenge their competitors who make shaving seem…complicated. Dollar Shave Club is easy, funny and inexpensive.

This direct, humorous approach to sales may not work for every company, but it’s a clear winner for Dollar Shave Club.

Out of the Box Marketing Campaigns that Worked – Round 2 – Let’s get Vampy!

For all of you Truebies (True Blood fans) out there, let us send our condolences for the end of an era of sexy vampires, southern accents and lots of sweating in the bayou. #TruetotheEnd However, even though HBO’s True Blood has said farewell, the marketing campaign reigns supreme as one of the best in television.

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It was carefully crafted, designed and implemented over the seven year run of the series. Before the series premiered, HBO built intrigue through creative advertising by treating the True Blood environment as factual.  The series targeted horror bloggers before the launch of the show and sent them packages containing fake blood samples accompanied by cryptic messages and a link to a website supposedly designed to connect real life vampires.

These carefully targeted packages set the internet ablaze. But the ingenious campaign continued with well-placed missing posters, billboards for the synthetic blood consumed in the show, and even advertisements that featured pop off stakes to defend against vampires. Every piece of collateral was designed with precise branding in mind.

true blood stake

But the creative marketing didn’t end once the show got off the ground. Future advertisements featured simplistic design with fun, tongue-in-cheek tag lines. They were creative, stylish and dare we say it…whimsical. HBO even turned a fountain blood red in Romania to announce one season.

True-Blood-Romanian-Fountain-1

The universe was further immersive with an active online presence that included a blog for newly turned vampires, websites supposedly run by pro and anti-vampire organizations and early adoption of Instagram and Tumblr. They filled our world with creative hashtags like #makersday (a maker is someone who turns you into a vampire) and #waitingsucks.

Website for Fellowship of the Sun, an anti-vampire organization in the series.

Website for Fellowship of the Sun, an anti-vampire organization in the series.

Their creative stride never waned, and even the final season’s ads were focused on the fans and establishing a total package that supported the True Blood world. It’s a marketing campaign for the ages, and in the words of True Blood’s marketers, “Goodbyes Suck.”

Check us out in a few weeks for the third installment in our series, where we’ll learn the value of a dollar.

Out of the Box Marketing Campaigns That Worked!

Here at Myers Public Relations, we love creative marketing campaigns that make audiences think, laugh and pay attention. We also like to give credit where credit is due and thus, we present the first in a series highlighting some of the most creative, thought-provoking and wild marketing campaigns that worked!

Marketing has changed exponentially in the last ten years. It’s not simply focused television advertisements or a snappy radio spot. Facebook currently has 1.19 billion monthly users and continues to grow. That’s 1.19 billion chances of your advertisement to be shared, liked and sent around the globe. No pressure, right?

Today’s featured campaign embraced out of the box thinking through challenging the status quo and having the confidence to be different. It called into question societal norms and biases, and has been effective across social media, print sources and television.

Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty 

Dove

Dove launched their Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004 and since then, the company has worked to redefine the narrow concept of beauty perpetuated by fashion magazines, the runway, Hollywood, liquor companies (the list goes on). They employed various communications techniques to open discussion and challenge stereotypes. But what has really made Dove’s advertisements so poignant is that they are based on research.

Dove discovered that 91% of women ages 50 – 64 believe that it’s time for society to change its views about women and aging. Combine this with the fact that only 2% of women globally would describe themselves as beautiful and it’s clear that we have a serious self-esteem issue.

Dove 2

This revelation led Dove to develop the Movement for Self-Esteem as part of their Campaign for Real Beauty, which provides women the opportunity to mentor the next generation and celebrate realistic beauty in order to develop body confidence and improve self-esteem. The program has reached 17 million young people in 112 countries.  And while Dove may be owned by Unilever, the same company that owns Axe (whose entire campaign is the objectification of women), there’s something to be said about bringing an issue to the forefront and having the ability to point the finger right back at yourself.

Dove has arguably turned the tide towards positive growth and meeting the emotional needs of 98% of women across the world. It brings up a valid concern, convenes discussions around the topic and speaks to an audience’s emotions. Overall, as a marketing campaign, it works!

dove 3

Check us out in a few weeks to see other campaigns that have nailed their message and branding.

Why We Do Event Marketing

event-marketing-Here at Myers PR, we didn’t go off looking to be an event planning company. But as we grew and provided more and more in-house marketing and PR offerings, we realized that one of the best ways to show off our mixed-use retail spaces was to provide a community experience that people enjoyed and associated with our client. 

A quote by Maya Angelou that we often share in the office is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And despite the chaos that is planning an event, it’s totally worth it to create an experience that people will remember, treasure, share, and hopefully return to.  Cornell psychology professor, Thomas Gilovich’s research over the past decade says that experiences bring people more happiness than possessions. Thus, our goal is to create those neural pathways of happiness and make sure they’re associated with our clients – marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing but is still highly effective for your brand.

When we start planning an event, we think through the following to create a low-stress, high-enjoyability customer experience:

  • new_seo-39-512audience-appropriate activities
  • audience-appropriate food and beverages
  • smooth event flow layout (not long lines)
  • enough event supplies (nothing makes people sadder than running out of stuff)
  • a variety of things to do, see, taste, buy, sip, and take home
  • extra surprises not advertised (keep ’em pleasantly surprised!)

It seems counter-productive – focusing so much on the attendees instead of focusing on promoting the client, but all the love and attention pays off in very happy attendees that were given a memorable gift by the brand or company you represent. Happy customers = loyal customers!

A paragraph by EventCrazy, a search engine for fun things to do, puts it very beautifully…

“Events are the life blood of a society. They are occasions that gather people together united in a common theme, cause or celebration. …. Events can be as simple as a child’s kindergarten graduation or as dramatic as the Super Bowl. It doesn’t matter what your preference is or even if it is constantly evolving. What does matter is that you are “experiencing” something that will give you great satisfaction and a lifetime of memories. “

Think about that next time you go to a community event or plan a birthday party!

Best Wishes to Billie!

1017385_10202531777402271_1041362148_nWe want to wish Billie all the best as she moves with her husband and two sons back to Oklahoma. We hope you make so many memories with the grandparents, aunts and uncles you’ll be close to. We will miss you terribly, but you have forever left your mark on Myers PR! Here are a few memories from friends who will miss you:

 

Group photo of Myers PR TeamMarion Myers: I must be one of the luckiest (or the smartest) business owners around. We have been able to build a team of first class, talented employees who complement each other’s skills and work together like a well-oiled machine. We are also very lucky that the people who come to work at Myers PR tend to stay a long, long time. We have been extremely fortunate to have had Billie for nearly 10 years – amazing!

While I wish her and her family all the best that life can offer- in a quieter place, at a slower pace – I will miss her. I will miss her crazy energy, her ability to argue both sides of an issue (simultaneously), her happy voice that can carry to the rafters, and her stubborn adherence to “doing the right thing”.  She inspired the rest of the team with her enthusiasm. She was patient and thorough in her mentorship of newer members of the team. She grew professionally and matured personally so much in those years….. I am very proud that she chose to spend that time with us.

Good luck Billie!

IceSkating March 2011 MyersPRDavid Cavalieri : My goodness, it has been an absolute joy working alongside Billie! From the day I was hired, she has been an amazing mentor and helped me to grow in so many ways. We shared plenty of jokes (which I will surely miss!) but, we were a team hand-in-hand. Because of Billie, I have grown tremendously! It’s difficult to see her go, but I wish her, her husband, and her two boys the absolute best back in Oklahoma. Enjoy your family — you only get to live it once! 🙂 I just ask her to remember that her arm won’t be helpful with holding the mattress down on the car roof and if she’s ever in a race to know that it’s all the same oat bag!

With all the hugs in the world – David Cavalieri

Arja Sahramaa:  Oklahoma City, the winds of change are blowing your way! Billie is a whirlwind of energy and accomplishment, with the most logical mind I’ve ever experienced. She has more patience when teaching a task than anyone else I’ve ever known. She can phrase even the most awkward message in a way that the recipient becomes a new friend. Her prowess with Excel is legendary (just remembered we never got to the series of next-level tutorials). Even with all these skills and more, the absolute best thing about Billie is her heart. She sees, she listens, and she cares. She is selfless and loyal, a true friend, and one I hope I will have for the rest of my life.

Thank you for everything you are, dear Billie; bon voyage! Until we meet again.

Birthday Hat Women June15 2010Carol Nahorniak: More than 9 years ago, I had the pleasure of Billie coming into my life. The following may read more like a recommendation letter, but the point is, Billie’s lovable and admirable strengths have made her so wonderful to work with. Her intense sense of responsibility, attention to detail, accuracy, and drive are woven into her character. I’ll always have her in mind as I work – especially when it comes to the Oxford comma. And this: :). Her perfectionism and style in development of the Reston Home Tour book is a highlight of our work together – she stepped right up to volunteer her skills for that project, and went beyond expectations. She’s so remarkable in so many ways, and I’m already missing her – she’s certainly got a piece of my heart.

CarolLizBillie BofR 4 28 11Jordan Garegnani:  Cheers to you Billie! I’m happy you’re finding the space you want in life and I hope you make the BEST memories with your family. I also hope you discover all those hobbies that are trapped inside you 🙂  Thank you for all the help, guidance and general positive feelings you’ve given during my 2 years at MPR.  Thank you for always looking after people’s needs even if they didn’t’ know they had them.  You are one of the kindest, level-headed people I know and you had me at yoga. Namaste.

Brandy: While it’s so hard to say goodbye I’m so happy that Billie has found a new pace of life and able to see more of her family in her home town. Billie was not only a fantastic source of information in the office but also gave wonderful life advice which I will treasure. I’ll miss you Billie!

image002Liz Bush: Oh my dear Billie! What can I say? I am going to miss the pants off you! There is a reason that no one wants to let you go (both personally and professionally) and the answer is that you are simply, wonderfully, you. There are so many words…so I’ll save the masses the time – here’s a random sample just for you:

Flip flops – only ever flip flops!

The beach

Getting to the beach (half the fun!)

Bloody Mary’s – don’t forget the Zing Zang

WTF? (diaper)

Patio Sangria

Taylor the Latte Boy

Scarves…so many more to come 😀

“I was told I can’t take anything else”

10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years

“why are you INSIDE?”

CHEESE

Whose car are we taking? (nevermind, dumb question)

“If you have to ask if you can post something…”

Crazy

Crazy (different meaning)

Crazy (another different meaning)

They will forget what you said, they will never forget how you made them feel.

Hugs  🙂

Clydes MPR staff atStPats

How PR is Like a Cross-country Road Trip

Written by Jordan Garegnani, MPR Project Manager and Digital Community Manager

Like I said, I write what I know and right now I’m on a week-long cross-country road trip (mobile hotspots are MAGIC!) and I can’t help but learn a few life lessons that are highly useful in marketing and PR. I can’t express how amazing it is to have an office that lets me get away with working remotely as I traverse across the country and then lets me write about it 🙂

Flexibility

You plan and plan – the best route, but the best tag line, event layout, rest stops or hotels. And sometimes it goes off without a hitch, but more likely than not, something will always go wrong. Your water pump breaks, a vendor doesn’t show up, you get stuck in Colby, Kansas on a night that you were supposed to be in Denver or a Facebook ad isn’t performing the way you’d like. If you’re not a naturally flexible person, you might want to go on a road trip to practice bending with whatever is thrown at you 🙂

Having reasonable expectations will help you be flexible as well – like not getting mad when your friend may or may not get her phone out fast enough to navigate and you miss going to Superman’s birthplace (cough, me, cough). But it’ll also help when only a few tenants participate in a promotion rather than the whole lot.

I always like to say, “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.” If you have a plan A, B and C when something goes wrong, the going wrong feels a little less terrible.

Prioritizing Goals

When things do go wrong, it’s usually not just one thing. For example, your AC might go out and when they’re investigating it, find your water pump also needs to be replaced or else you’ll end up stuck on the side of the road. Then once the pump is fixed, you might still have a rattle in your engine. You can’t necessarily fix everything at once.

So tally up all your options and strategize what’s the highest priority, keeping a deadline, pleasing the client, staying on budget, etc. From there you can take care of immediate needs and follow up with the lower-priority goals.

Ask for Help

We all like to think we can do things on our own as competent adults, but sometimes you have to give up the wheel or ask someone on your team to cover for you when you can’t be in the office. Chances are they really won’t mind as long as you give them a big thanks.

Roughing It

Not everything can be perfect and your best effort instead of your best work sometimes has to do in a clutch. And sometimes fast food will have to suffice for a meal instead of sitting down for dinner.

No Looking Back

Second-guessing your already-made decisions only causes more stress and anxiety. You’ve thoughtfully sorted through your choices and made the best decision with the information you had. What’s done is done and you can only drive forward so there’s no point in saying “we should have…”

Bonus: Are We There Yet?
No.  You’re never “there.” There’s always ways to be better, grow and expand, so stop asking if we’re there yet. A life, work, road trip lesson all in one.

5 Reasons A Pet-friendly Office is the Best Kind of Office

Written by Jordan Garegnani, MPR Project Manager and Online Community Manager

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Note the puppy barricade made of weighted trashcans…

I write what I know. And right now, my 1 ½ year old Frenchie, Eva, is next to me trying to figure a way out of my office cube.

While dogs in the workplace are becoming more common, I am extremely appreciative that the Myers PR office is flexible enough to accommodate me and what we have lovingly termed the “bat pig” or “gremlin.” So without further ado, here’s why my office is the best kind of office.

Health Benefits

5acc3012540d82395466d90062c8d56bYou see a sweet little furry thing coming at you and your body can’t help but be happy about it. (some more than others – also known as being “Dog Crazy”) You get a burst of endorphin, lowered blood pressure, raised levels of oxytocin (creating feelings of happiness and trust) and more. Now think about how all those things could be beneficial to you on a particularly stressful day. Also, when you see your little fur nugget being so relaxed, you tend to be relaxed.

Makes you Move
You know how you’re not supposed to sit all day? Yea, well, your dog doesn’t want to sit all day either, so now you have a very good excuse to take a few nice walks. Plus it’s a good time to see if anyone wants to go with you – bonus: bonding time with the coworkers!

Less Stress
IMG_2288With an hour commute at the end of my day, getting out of the office in time to free Eva from her crate is something that stresses me out. Getting stuck in the office late isn’t really an option. But if she’s with me, then I know she’s safe, happy and has had plenty of love and attention.

It Socializes Your Pup
While your dog should be fairly well-behaved before you bring it into a professional environment, bringing your dog into different social situations teaches them to be flexible and adapt easily. The world outside their house/crate won’t seem so scary to them and they’ll act out less in public.

Good Distractions
IMG_2289In a creative marketplace like a PR company, distractions can be helpful to the creative process – for example, coming up with this blog post! Plus other things I guess – but you should try it out for yourself if you can. There’s nothing like sitting at a conference table snuggling your pup while brainstorming marketing ideas

Now I understand, not all people are dog people – so be sure to be thoughtful of those coworkers and those who may be allergic!

 

Lastly – big shout out to David Cavalieri, our Graphic Designer and UX Manager on his 3rd anniversary at Myers PR. Congrats!!

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An Intern’s Take on Myers Public Relations

We hate goodbyes at MPR, but when they do happen, we write about it!

Guest Blog by Melanie Ford, Myers PR Intern 2012-14

It’s hard to believe that my third summer at Myers has already come and gone. When I first applied for the position fresh out of high school, I truly had no idea what to expect. I remember going home after my interview and thinking, “I really connected [with Billie and Kate], but I doubt I actually got the job.” Imagine my shock when I got an offer a few days later!

My seasonal work after that phone call has truly launched my career and proved to me that office work doesn’t have to be the stereotypical “daily grind” – unless that grind is coffee-related! The staff at Myers has invested in, encouraged and mentored me immensely with a friendly professionalism that pervades their positive work culture.

1664During my first summer at MPR before college, I expressed that I was most interested in graphic design work…and give me graphic design work, they did! Here is one of my first projects at Myers which involved creating advertisement material for a client’s fall festival.


Although I was an intern, I was treated as an equal and encouraged to ask questions, request projects, and participate in staff meetings and professional development events, such as the
Reston Chamber of Commerce’s ACE Awards Luncheon.

IMG_7710By the time I came back for my second summer at MPR, I had decided to declare public relations as my major at school. The project managers at MPR sought to give me an overview of client properties and projects. I independently travelled to, oversaw, and photographed on-site events.

I also helped with social media analytics and event planning research. My best memory from this summer was hands-down calling reindeer farmers across the nation regarding reindeer rentals for holiday events! Unfortunately, reindeer are restricted from many states for health reasons, but this was still a fun, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

reindeer

During my third summer I did extensive research reports to aid in marketing proposals, media relations, and client relations. Most of my work was independent; I was given projects and trusted to take initiative to complete them.

I remember my first day at MPR and Kate asked me to research each of our clients to familiarize myself with the type of work that we do—note: this was also the same day that one of the offices in our building gave free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to everyone in the building (best first day ever!).

(Taken by Melanie Ford)

(Taken by Melanie Ford)

The type of work that MPR does became abundantly clear as I overheard phone calls (we work in an open floor plan for optimal collaboration), sat in on conference room meetings, and engaged in office culture; the team goes above and beyond to ensure clients’ satisfaction and success.

 

There’s no way to say it other than this: interning at Myers PR is FUN! To recognize special occasions or completion of extensive projects, the office celebrates with lunches, toasts in the conference room, ringing an “accomplishment bell,” or on occasion, a visit to the Reston Town Center Bow Tie Cinema.

IMG_1137Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some weeks where I had painstaking research projects for which I popped my headphones in and cranked out 40+ hours of work on that project alone. When the work was done though, I was thanked and encouraged profusely, which made it all worth it.

 

The work culture here is one of respect that is unparalleled by anywhere else that I have worked. The unique work ethic of our team is modeled by our founder and fearless leader, Marion Myers. According to this Game of Thrones character quiz which I posted on my Facebook profile a while ago (and the whole office ended up taking), her character is, very appropriately, Daenerys Targaryen the Mother of Dragons – nurturing, but tough as nails.

I sure am going to miss everyone, but we will see each other again!

The Black Magic of Facebook’s Organic Reach Algorithm

Guest post by Jordan Garegnani, Project Manager and Online Community Manager

facebook-edgerankNotice how your Facebook posts are being shown to fewer and fewer of your followers? Yeah, we have too.

That has to do with a few things – including the new Organic Reach Algorithm. First off, before we get too detailed, let’s define the difference between organic and paid reach.

Organic Reach: How many people see your posts for free (chronologically, and/or shared with their friends)
Paid Reach: How many people see your posts based on your paid advertising

As marketers, we like getting the most bang for our buck and aim for high organic reach in our social media endeavors – it gives the most value to our customers. That’s why we were disappointed to find out that times they are a-changin’. Paid reach is now the only way to ensure followers see important information.

Facebook, according to their blog, says there are 2 main reasons for the decline of Organic Reach.

1. More and more content is being pushed into the same amount of digital space. More people and brands are joining Facebook every day and people like 50% more brand pages this year than last. Also, with the convenience of mobile and scheduled posting, those brands are posting more content. That’s a lot of competition and viewers can’t possibly see every single post by their friends or the brands they follow. This one is just a bummer, but fair enough – it’s a big wide world out there and may the best content win!

“Even if Facebook left the news feed code as it stood right now, organic reach was already on the decline. Social@Ogilvy tracked the drop earlier this year, from 16% of followers engaging with a brand page post in 2012, to 6% in February 2014 for smaller pages and just 2% for pages with over 500,000 followers.” – Ewan Spence, Forbes

The second reason is more of a bummer – I mean it’s hard enough to reach followers as it is. (see above)

2. Facebook adjusted the reach algorithm to decide which 300 stories of around 1500 potential stories will show up in followers’ news feeds. That’s a one-in-five chance your post will be seen by any given follower.  These changes are strategized to show people content that is relevant/interesting to your followers (based on individual Facebook interactions). Their goal with this is to reduce low-quality posts and spam, so marketers, even more so now, have to put out good content just to be seen by current followers.

“Organic content still has value on Facebook, and Pages that publish great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — can still reach people in News Feed.” – Brian Boland, Facebook

TechCrunch has a good visual way of explaining the mythical Facebook algorithm.

facebook-news-feed-edgerank-algorithm

Facebook’s Conclusion: Curating the newsfeed and feed “health” is the goal. Clearly this makes sense if Facebook wants to stick around long-term. If people aren’t interested in reading what’s on their newsfeed, they won’t use Facebook and there goes another digital marketing channel. (RIP Myspace)

To air a bit of grievance, we do feel justified in this statement in TechCrunch:

“What was truly disingenuous was that Facebook told companies to buy Likes as a long-term investment, when it likely could already see or at least predict that reach to those fans would decline, devaluing the investment. It’s like telling someone to save their money in a time of rapid inflation.”  – Josh Constine, TechCrunch 

1351612838_2844_facebook2Our conclusion: Creating meaningful interactions with true “brand ambassadors” will soon be the only free way to spread your content around. Your followers just became even more valuable – they will help decide how far your content goes, improve auction price for your ads and lend your brand credibility as brand advocates.  It does seem as though Facebook is taking a stance of “for the greater good” while being unapologetic to brands on their platform. But we’ve come this far, looks like we’re along for the ride!