Author Archives: Amelia Vereb

The Value of Being Mad About March Madness

While I was mad about March Madness early last month, I now find myself mad because of it. Not only did my bracket die during the Sweet Sixteen, but also my team, The Ohio State Buckeyes, lost an upsetting Final Four game over the weekend, thereby ending the season in my eyes. Yet, the same could not be said for everyone. Yesterday, our very own Erin Donahue—a graduate of the University of Kentucky—represented her team in a Wildcats shirt, while the few DGC-ers lucky enough to still be in the running for the office pool fervently discussed what it would take for them to win.

In the end, Kentucky and Dejon Mullings (the DGC office pool victor) weren’t the only winners last night. Every team that made it into the tournament won something: recognition. The nation knows about schools such as Duke, UNC, Ohio State and other big names in college basketball, but what’s great about March Madness is that it gives smaller colleges the opportunity to build buzz. Especially during a time when prospective freshmen are trying to figure out where they want to go to school.

It certainly worked for my brother four years ago. Faced with several university options, he didn’t know Davidson College was the right school for him until he witnessed the way in which it built camaraderie (bussing students to games, distributing t-shirts, hosting viewing events, etc.) around March Madness as its team made it all the way to the Elite Eight. Since then, Davidson has become much more to him than just a basketball school. He’s now a fan of the entire college offering.  

March Madness is not just a measurement of basketball prowess, but also a highly valuable marketing tool. For Kentucky, it means a championship ring. For all 64 schools that were in the running, it might also be the key ingredient in attracting a freshman class that’s just as mad about the school as it is about its basketball team.

The Hunger Games Teaches Us That Timing Really Is Everything

I’ll be honest with you: I think I made my way through all three books of The Hunger Games series in less than a week. So, when the studio slowly started releasing images and interactive web sites associated with the first movie, I was in the loop and sharing the content with my friends. We were so excited about all the hype surrounding the movie that we even went to see it at midnight when it opened, and we were not disappointed—or ashamed. Maybe we should have been. (Although the most embarrassing part of the whole experience was this completely ridiculous teaser for the final movie of the Twilight Saga.)

You didn’t have to be an advertising industry expert to see how Lionsgate slowly built hysteria around The Hunger Games. The whole thing was like a scavenger hunt, giving Hunger Games fanatics the opportunity to interact with the series directly through traditional and non-traditional media, and build a connection with the movie before it even opened.

And to great success. The Hunger Games was predicted to make $90 million during its opening weekend—it raked in $155 million.

It goes without saying that the real star of The Hunger Games movie wasn’t Jennifer Lawrence or the incredibly good-looking Liam Hemsworth—it was the social marketing push, which the New York Times’ Brooks Barnes sums up nicely in this article about how the franchise generated “must-see fever.” What brands can learn from The Hunger Games is that the more subtle, phased approach builds suspense and drives interest in a product—even if the audience already knows the story. By serving products up piece-by-piece, brands make fans feel like they discovered them on their own. It is that sense of ownership that builds true loyalty, and in return, a record-breaking opening weekend.

So, when you’re working on your next campaign, think about the who, what and where—but also think about the when. Knowing the best time to reach your audience is what will get you ahead in the game.

Wisdom in the Workplace

Good advice isn’t always easy to find. But sometimes there are people you work with, at industry associations, in books, or even family that can dish out advice when you need it most and leave a lasting impression in the process. These words of wisdom can often be the driving force behind bigger business philosophies and life lessons that encourage individuals to find new ways to achieve success.

In a recent article from Business Insider, the world’s most recognizable executives shared the best career advice that they’ve received over the years. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the best advice he ever received was to say “yes” to things. Maureen Chiquet, global CEO of Chanel quoted Mickey Drexler, CEO of Gap, who said “you’ve gotta learn to listen.”

No matter what—or who—is your source of inspiration, everyone has that one memorable motto that helps them get out of bed in the morning and attack the work-day. Here are few gems from the DGC team:

  • “A handshake says everything about a person – make it firm.”
  • “Never hear the first ‘no.’”
  •  “Just because we work nine-hour days doesn’t mean you have a full nine hours to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Plan for interruptions.”
  • “Asking questions does not make you stupid—it makes you inquisitive and thorough.”
  •  “Hire people who are smarter than you.”
  • “Get on the board of a powerful women’s organization.”
  • “Make sure that every time you make a mistake you know what you’ve learned and you try your best to apply the learnings next time.”
  • “The day you stop learning is the day you should quit.”

Whether you’re fine-tuning your first-impression methods or extending your education, the key to a successful career is growth. Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group said it best: “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing.”

What’s the best work advice you live by?

I Hope You Have The Timeline Of Your Life

Wednesday was another big day for Facebook. In addition to hosting its first ever Marketing Conference, which viewers could watch via live stream on the Facebook site, Facebook also launched its Timeline pages for brands. New features include an updated layout with a cover photo, the ability to edit content without having to open separate pages, and opportunities to add content that spans the course of the brand’s lifetime to date.

But how will consumers respond to this new brand page format?

Before Facebook launched brand Timeline pages, it launched personal Timeline profiles. Similar to the brand Timeline pages, users can upload cover photos, edit content in one place and add information to past years to create a more robust illustration of the entirety of their lives to date. Some people have jumped at the opportunity to update their profiles, while others have found the format to be confusing, overwhelming and miscommunicated.

“I’m not really using it,” says DGC’s Kendra Peavy. “Every now and then I take a peek, but I think more time needs to pass.”

DGC’s Erin Donahue feels similarly: “I still have no idea what Facebook Timeline really is. I don’t think it was communicated to users properly. Now one person’s page looks different from the next. I like that Facebook is evolving to meet the needs of consumers, but I wish it was easier to comprehend, and I wish there was some sort of guide for how Timeline works.”

Facebook’s mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” From the beginning, it has achieved this through constant growth, innovation and adaptability. In the grand scheme of things, Timeline is just one of many changes experienced by the Facebook community over the past eight years. So will people get used to these changes as they have in the past? Share your thoughts on Facebook Timeline for brands and people in the comments section below.

And The Oscar Goes To…The Film With The Best Twitter Following

This Sunday, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will determine the best in film from 2011. From the looks of things, it could be another “Hurt Locker” year, where a more niche film wins out over a big Hollywood production. And, if that is the case, you can be sure that Twitter and Facebook will not be silent.

Which begs the question: who really wins best picture?

We’ve seen social media achieve remarkable things over the past few years. Political uprisings in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Immediate accounts of natural disasters striking around the world. Even an impressive—although less significant—online revolt against Esperanza Spalding for beating out Justin Bieber as “Best New Artist” at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

Social media has become its own People’s Choice Awards, and when the Academy speaks on Sunday, the world will either speak with or against it.

It is with this in mind that the DGC team shares its picks for best picture of 2011—as well as its picks for what it expects will actually garner the Academy’s favor.

Want To Win:

  • The Artist – 3
  • The Help – 2
  • Hugo – 2
  • Midnight in Paris – 2
  • Moneyball – 2
  • The Descendants – 1

Expected To Win:

  • The Artist – 6
  • The Help – 3
  • The Descendants – 2
  • War Horse – 1

Maybe this one time what we want to win and what actually wins will be one and the same. With Twitter already aflutter with rationales for why each of the nine movies should win best picture, it’ll be a close race to the finish. I, for one, will be interested to see which titles are trending on Sunday night—although, I have every intention of Tweeting my own rationale for why Bridesmaids should have been taking home the gold this year.

What is your pick for best picture? Is it the same as what you expect to win? Tell us in the comments section below!

Help Wanted: Future Media Professionals Need Apply

Helen Gurley Brown, former Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, announced last month that she is donating $30 million to Columbia University and Stanford University in memory of her late husband, David Brown. What do two schools with two of the top ten endowments in the country need this type of money for, you ask? The David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

According to Columbia and Stanford, the institute “will encourage new media, promote innovation and prototypes, and recognize the increasingly important connection between journalism and technology.” In an industry that continues to evolve in direct correlation with the digital space, this is a huge step forward in educating future media professionals. But what if your university doesn’t have a media institute? Here are DGC’s top three tips for pursuing a career in media/communications…no matter where you go to school:

  1. Intern. You may learn some of the basic concepts behind media/communications in your Marketing 101 class, but nothing you learn in the classroom will prepare you for your first job. Try to pursue as much internship experience as possible. Not only will it give you better insight into your future career, but it will also help you determine if the field is right for you.
  2. Read the news. Half the battle of the media/communications industry is keeping up with what’s happening. If you are well-versed on current events, you’ll be setting yourself up to win.
  3. Network. The job market remains tough to navigate. Make sure you are reaching out to your contacts on a regular basis so you are not missing any opportunities. And this doesn’t just mean via email. Recruiters are finding candidates through all manner of social networks these days, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, and hiring those who show savvy and persistence online.

Are you one of those people who kick-started your career via social media? Tell us how! Are you looking for a job in the communications industry? Reach out to us in the comments section below!

Taking Your Facebook Relationships To The Next Level

DGC DiGennaro Communications Facebook Social media advice tips engage fansDavid Fincher and Aaron Sorkin may have showed the world that Facebook was created to help college students hook-up, but since then, “The Social Network” has evolved into a vehicle for interaction among its members, job recruiters, entertainment artists, academic institutions and even consumer brands.

Despite these open lines of communication, not all brands know how to effectively engage with their online audiences. Take Chapstick, for example, which late last year got itself into a “social media death spiral” after posting a weird image on Facebook and quietly removing negative comments left by viewers on its Facebook Wall. A bit passive/aggressive if you ask us.

With this in mind, the DGC team has compiled the following tips to help you and your brand avoid social media suicide:

  • Don’t forget what you stand for. Posts on your Facebook page should be consistent with your marketing, advertising, news, etc.  Make sure your Facebook strategy sets you up to achieve the same goals that you aimed to accomplish from day-one.
  • No time like the present. Facebook continues to evolve and offer new ways for users to represent themselves online. Make sure you’re using the latest tools so you put forth a page that is relevant and creative.
  • The power of Facebook compels you. Provide useful and interesting information for fans to react to and share. If you need an example, The New York Public Library’s Facebook page is the bee’s knees.
  • READ. Your fans are constantly interacting with you on Facebook, so take a look at what they have to say. The easiest way to build brand loyalty is to let them know that you are listening.
  • Keep it coming. Fans are more likely to stick with a brand’s Facebook page when the brand stays engaged—even if it’s just one post a day—so push out content on a regular basis and watch your network grow.

Do you have other tips for maintaining an active Facebook brand page? Share them in the comments section below!

I Am Public Relations (And So Can You!)

I remember a time when I absolutely hated Twitter—the idea of sharing regular meaningless updates seemed excessive and unnecessary. But then I discovered the power Twitter had to share and spread news, and from then on I was hooked. Tools like these continue to affect the way we do our jobs and shift the focus of what we do.

In its annual “State of the Media Report,” cloud-based marketing and PR software company, Vocus, identified seven things that PR professionals need to know about the shifting media landscape. Check out the list below to stay on top of your game.

  1. Serve up more than just text. In an age when pictures and video can be recorded on your phone, take advantage of technology to spice up your pitches.
  2. Traditional pitching rules apply. Just because Twitter condenses your messages to 140 characters, doesn’t mean you always have to do so. Treat reporters with the respect they deserve.
  3. Buy an iPhone and/or iPad. With everyone creating content for iPhones and iPads, it’s important to know and use the technology.
  4. Don’t pitch using social media. 80 percent of reporters prefer to be contacted via email.
  5. Do get to know reporters via social media platforms. Following reporters on Twitter is a great way to interact with them when you’re not pitching. You can also support them by posting their content once it’s published.
  6. Make it easy. Keeping your pitches short and sweet is important, but make sure you aren’t leaving any major holes for reporters to fill in. The easier you make it, the more likely you are to see a story convert.
  7. Pitch TV newsrooms between 8 and 9 a.m. Since this is before the editorial staff’s morning meeting, you are more likely to get your idea in front of them if they have it on hand heading into their discussion.

Are you keeping up with the evolving media scene? Feel free to share additional tips in the comments section below!

Expert Sourcing…When You Have No Skin in the Game

It doesn’t matter where you go for your news—everyone is talking about Super Bowl XLVI right now. Here at DGC, we’ve probably read just as many articles this week about game predictions and player line-ups as we have about the 2012 election—in fact, I bet if Eli Manning announced his candidacy after the game he’d probably be our next President.

But, despite what most of us might think, the world doesn’t always revolve around football (this coming from an avid Ohio State Buckeyes fan). So, if you don’t have a spot airing during the big game, or a POV on the action, here’s a selection of recent stories you may be able to capitalize on in the meantime to earn some media real estate:

  • Apple announced its best quarterly earnings to date for Q1 2012. The company brought in $46.33 billion in revenue—almost double what Apple made last year at this time. How can Apple’s competitors compete with results like this?
  • Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address scored at an eighth-grade reading level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. All three of his SOTU addresses rank among the six lowest scoring addresses ever, and are–on average–more than two grades lower than those of his 12 most recent predecessors. What does this say about Obama’s approach to reaching his constituents? Does the decreasing reading level of the SOTU reflect poorly on American society?
  • Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney continue to battle it out for the Republican nomination, with Gingrich getting defensive in response to questions about past failed marriages, and Mitt Romney fielding allegations that his tax returns detail funds not identified in his ethics forms. Do you think they’ll be able to move beyond these issues to have a real chance at the Presidency?
  • In its first year implementing its new voting system, the Academy Awards announced an odd number of movies in the running for best picture. They include: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse. Why is this relevant? Will social media play a role in this year’s awards ceremony?

If you have a strong opinion on the timely topics above and some credentials to back them up, then you have a chance to get in the news…despite the country’s current fascination with football. Leave us a comment with your thoughts below.

When Anti-Piracy Legislation Comes Knocking, We Are Left With One Question: What Would Hemingway Do?

DiGennaro Communications DGC SOPA PIPA Protests GoogleIt has been a busy week over here at DGC, and among the many interesting things that came through our email inboxes, two seemed to stick:

First, everyone on the Internet and their technologically-savvy mothers protested anti-piracy legislation proposed in 2011: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect I.P. Act (PIPA). Here’s what you need to know in case you couldn’t access your favorite sites to read up on it Wednesday.

Second, it is said that Ernest Hemingway once declared his best work to be a story that he wrote in six words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In keeping with this theme, StudentsFirst is hosting an essay contest encouraging participants to submit six-word stories explaining what it means to be a great teacher.

This got our PR brains thinking: in a generation of hybrid cars, foods and animals, why not draft a hybrid post for The Hit Board? So, we mashed everything together into one SUPER post to bring you DGC’s six-word descriptions of the anti-piracy legislation and protests:Hemingway DiGennaro Communications DGC SOPA PIPA Stop Online Piracy Act Protect IP Act

  • “Regulated Web: Internet protests, SOPA vanishes.”
  • “Do no harm to First Amendment.”
  • “Digital power—unite! Fight for access.”
  • “Stop resistance. Send the world LOVE.”
  • “SOPA: One step forward…or back?”
  • “Access for the peeps. Powers activate.”
  • “The digital access song – blackout resound.”
  • “Anti-piracy legislation: friend or foe?”
  • “Remember reading Fahrenheit 451? Shockingly relevant.”
  • “Wikipedia protests, provides first credible references.”

In the world of PR, we not only fight to make news relevant, but also share it with the world as succinctly as possible.

With this in mind, how would you describe the anti-piracy legislation and protests in six words? Tell us in the comments section below. And if containing your thoughts in six words is too daunting of a task, you can try four words—as one of our colleagues chose to do: “Too hard. I pass.”

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