Branded in 1926

Last month my family and I were honored to get together and celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. Born in 1926, she has lived through the Great Depression, WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

To help her celebrate, we held a party filled with activities honoring her birth year including a 1926 trivia game. My aunt also put 1926 goodie bags together. The goodies were items from companies or brands founded in 1926, and included signed posters from the Harlem Globetrotters, pins from the IGA and HomeTrust Bank, Mt. Olive Pickles, Q-tips, Haggar Clothing, and candies such as Godvia chocolates, Milk Duds, Slo Poke, and Squirrel Nut Zippers.

As we stood around singing “Happy Birthday”, I realized we were marking my grandma’s 90 years on earth with brands! We were celebrating their achievements right beside hers. Associating their legacy with her. In today’s culture, consumerism begins when we are born. Even before we can speak and walk we are branded. We may later on choose our own brand identities by associating ourselves with products that match our changing lifestyle, but no longer are the days where we are simply known by the name our parents give us or by what we have achieved. Our personal identity – or brand – is made up of the products we consume and a product’s brand is made up of its users’ stories.

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A few weeks later HomeTrust Bank wrote a short content piece highlighting the celebration and the gifts they sent. They shared the piece on social media along with a photo of my grandma holding the goods.

This is just one example of a company integrating a user’s story into their brand and using it to engage with customers. What are some creative ways you have seen brands engage with customers? What ways have you seen brands celebrate their anniversaries?

-Caroline Robinson

Eager to please, eager to keep: The new employee, employer relationship

As recent graduates and young professionals we are eager to please. Competing against the thousands of other resumes in circulation and the lingering notation of the difficulty of finding a job in today’s economy, we strive to shake the most hands, to land the best interviews, and to deliver the best results. However, as we worked our way through school, a subliminal but steady undertone was, and is still, happening in the job market we are now entering… baby boomers are heading out, and milennials are flooding in.

In the age of information it is no secret that younger generations are becoming more skilled, more savvy, and more talented than each previous. And as demands grow, so do expectations. If we are expected the deliver the best, we also expect to receive. A recent Gallup poll reports that 21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, more than three times the number of non-millennials. The report also notes that 60% are open to another job opportunity, signaling to employers that less and less of their staff see a future with them.

For executives to maintain recruitment and retention they need to understand culture. Employers must show they can support a millenial’s lifestyle just as much as they can support their career. As a result, employers are showcasing their office space as a direct extension of their work culture.

Cubicles are out and nap pods are in.

Millennials value an environment that offers collaboration, flexibility, and technology. The best offices are ones that can adapt to these desires. It’s increasing common to see spaces that offer open floor plans, cafes, fitness centers, game rooms, pet care, and more.

One of Caroline’s previous workspaces had a basketball court and bowling alley.

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One of the eateries inside the Red Ventures headquarters. Photo from glassdoor.com

Check out Fortune’s article on the “25 coolest offices of the 100 best companies”. What kind of amenities is your office providing? How important is your working space to your productivity, creativity, and plans to stay with your employer?

-Savannah Valade

Watch ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’ to get pumped for the 2016 presidential election

This weekend I watched Our Brand Is Crisis with Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton. The movie follows a political strategist, played by Bullock, and her quest to help the underdog candidate win the Bolivian presidential election. This movie is an entertaining watch for those in political communications or public relations, or if you want a fun way to celebrate the 2016 presidential election!

Our Brand Is Crisis, the movie, is currently on HBO Now and was inspired by a documentary also called Our Brand Is Crisis. The documentary covers the 2002 Bolivian election and the team of political consultants who helped with the reelection campaign of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada; I haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch the documentary yet, so let me know what you think if you have!

I am sharing this movie because it reminded me how important it is to vote. For the first time millennials match the baby boomer generation in numbers —meaning that each group makes up “31% of the voting-eligible population.” As one of the two largest voter-eligible groups, millennials’ voices are even more powerful than they have been in previous elections. Yet even though we may be eligible to vote, stats have shown we are less likely to show up to do it. Two years ago Savannah and I covered this and the 2014 Rock the Vote ad campaign. In the post we listed voter resources that are still relevant to this year’s election. Check the post out.

For those planning to vote or needing to register, here are important dates to keep in mind.

IMPORTANT NORTH CAROLINA ELECTORAL DATES

  • Voter Registration Deadline: October 14, 2016
  • Early Voting: October 20th – November 5, 2016
  • Election Day: November 8, 2016

If you are not in NC, the Rock the Vote website can point you to the right place. Presidential debates are also coming up and will be broadcast on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. If you do not have access to broadcast television, all major news networks will offer a free live stream along with the social platforms YouTube and Twitter.

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE DATES

  • First presidential debate: Monday, September 26, 2016
  • Vice presidential debate: Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • Second presidential debate: Sunday, October 9, 2016
  • Third presidential debate: Wednesday, October 19, 2016

So YOU tell us, why is it important for millennials to vote? Are you doing anything to celebrate the 2016 election?

-Caroline Robinson

3 takeaways from the Rio Olympics for communication professionals

Last week the Olympic flame was extinguished marking the end of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. While ultimately ending without any major hiccups, the road to the games were like Rio’s cobblestoned streets – a little bumpy.

The 31st Olympiad was special as it marked the first time the games were held in South America. However, as summer 2016 approached, the host country’s economic and political turmoil took the spotlight.

As someone who enjoys watching the competitions and the incredible athletes that participate, I couldn’t help but tune into the variety of stories grabbing media headlines.

At an international event this large there are many lessons applicable to marketing communication professionals, and I would like to share a few of those lessons with you. So here are three takeaways from this year’s Summer Olympics.Rio Olympics logo.jpg

Have trained media staff or public relations plans

When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) picked Rio as a host city in 2009, I’m sure they never imagined having to confront some of the issues that arose within the regions of South America. One of those main concerns was the outbreak of the Zika virus. The expansion of the virus prompted doctors and professors from around the world to publicly recommend postponing the games. The response of the IOC (backed by health professionals) was that travel to the Olympics would not cause major spread of the virus and the decision to continue the games stood firm.

Unforeseen circumstances, like the one mentioned above, make it vital for an organization to have trained media staff and a crisis management plan. Quick responses to damaging events could prevent reputation and value loss. So if your organization hasn’t outlined an emergency media plan or designated and trained potential spokespersons now is the time to do so. Here is Bernstein’s “The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications” to get you started.

Know what you are paying for as a sponsor/advertiser

 One thing I learned about the Olympics is that there is a blackout rule for sponsors called Rule 40. This rule states that if you are not an official Olympic sponsor, but a sponsor of an athlete or coach, you can’t mention anything about that person or the Olympic games starting nine days prior to the opening ceremony and ending three days after the closing ceremony. Of course the rules are a little more extensive, but it works as a reminder that if you are looking to sponsor someone or something, make sure you know the limitations.

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Another example of this is NBC’s Olympic coverage. Viewership fell 17% below what they predicted, which meant advertisers were not going to hit the viewership numbers NBC promised. In order to make up for that NBC gave additional commercial time, or “make good” ads, to ensure agreements were made whole. There isn’t much more I can say about this other than make sure you have good media buyers and lawyers. 

Stay Social

While the IOC did impose regulations on sponsors, Olympic fans and the media were all a buzz online. My favorite moment had to be the Simone Biles and Zac Efron exchanges. Who doesn’t love when a gold medalist gets to meet her celebrity crush? SocialMedia Today has a great article analyzing the different social platforms that give insight into the breadth of social interactions during the Olympics. The main conclusion here is that if you want to reach the millennial crowd you have to be in the social sphere.

Any takeaways you have for us? Explain in a comment below!

-Caroline Robinson

 

IMC Travel Guide 2

Entering the job market as a young professional means a lot of changes. No more sleeping in during the weekdays, no more 3-hour workdays, and the absolute worst, no more summer break. The professional life may keep you busy, but it is always important to keep a work life balance, which is why we are bringing back our second IMC Travel Guide.

One way you can incorporate continued learning into your travels is by visiting places relating to your field. I recently visited Atlanta and picked out some popular but relevant attractions to experience.

World of Coca-Cola

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Evolution of the Coca-Cola bottle.

One of the most celebrated and consumed worldwide brands began in Atlanta, GA. Coca-Cola has won the hearts of many generations and continues to be an innovative marketer and pop culture icon. Their museum submerses you in the drink’s history, production, and entertainment. For someone in the marketing communication field be sure to stop by the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit, which includes advertising history and Coca-Cola artifacts, and their Pop Culture Gallery for Coca-Cola pop art.

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CNN Studio Tours – Atlanta

Want to go into news broadcasting or become a public relations specialist? This is the tour for you. The CNN Studio Tour at the Atlanta CNN Center takes you behind the scenes explaining the different aspects of broadcasting including newsgathering, videography, and programming.

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Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC)

The Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, IL is one amusement we have both added to our travel bucket list. The museum honors radio and television – vintage and present-day – and houses the National Radio Hall of Fame Gallery. Inside the museum you can see TV sets, radio memorabilia, and TV and radio studios. This is a fun stop for all ages and their ever-rotating exhibits keep content fresh. One current exhibition, Watching TV in the 1990s, commemorates the last decade of traditional television viewing. For late night TV junkies, the museum will open a Johnny Carson exhibit in January 2016.

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Have you been to the Museum of Broadcast Communications? Share with us your favorite moments and travel pictures in a comment below. Also, don’t forget to recommend your favorite communication minded travel stops.

-Caroline Robinson

 

Reaching your resolutions

It’s almost three months into the new year and while many of us made New Year’s resolutions, not all of us have stuck with them or even begun working toward them. That is why this week Com Minded is going to help you accomplish those resolutions. Whether geared toward your personal or professional life, these quick tips will keep you on track to reach your objective.

  1. Remind yourself you have a New Year’s resolution

Too many of us make a resolution on New Year’s Eve/Day and then forget we ever made one. One key to conquering your New Year’s goals is reminding yourself you actually made one. Life can be busy and goals can get pushed aside, so put sticky notes on your mirror or set monthly reminders in your phone or planner. A reminder every now and then will keep your goal fresh in your mind so you can then work to accomplish it

  1. Figure out how to succeed at your resolution

The hardest part is getting started! Your goal may seem intangible, but if you sit yourself down and write out how you plan to accomplish the resolution, the impossible will turn possible.

Caroline:

One of my resolutions is to learn new skills – while a pretty general statement, one way I started is by writing down the skills I would like to learn. These include learning SEO and becoming an expert in programs like Illustrator and Excel. My next step was to find resources that would help me learn/improve these skills and now all I have to do is sit down to review the resources to say I have accomplished my resolution.

Savannah:

For myself, I know that it can be daunting to think of a large or long-term goal just looming overhead or in the background. Often times just the anxiety of what has to be accomplished can be debilitating to your progress. To combat this, I make small daily goals. This not only reminds me of the larger one I have in place, but forces me to make strides towards it constantly. Besides, is there anything more satisfying than crossing something off a list?

  1. Reward yourself

Some resolutions may be self-rewarding like goals that involve traveling more or being more adventurous, but others like learning new skills or even living a healthier lifestyle can test you.

Remember to reward yourself for those harder goals, whether it is through small treats like a mani-pedi or bigger rewards like tickets to a concert or a getaway weekend with friends. It might take some self-discipline, but if you only allow yourself to indulge in rewards if your goals are met, then it will give you another reason to accomplish the resolutions you have made.

So cheers to no more excuses! Let us know how you accomplish your New Year’s resolutions. What are some ways you reward yourself for working toward those goals?

– Caroline Robinson

Touchdown for Team Barbie

The countdown is on to Super Bowl Sunday, and as North Carolina natives, Caroline and I both couldn’t be more excited or anxious to watch our Panthers play. After the season we’ve had this year, we know a good play when we see one, and this week we noticed one happening off the field. After fumbling for two years, it seems that Mattel has finally landed a touchdown.

After over fifty years of producing the iconic, but recently heavily criticized, buxom blonde Barbie doll, Mattel realized that one size doesn’t fit all – and now you can choose from 33 different options. After a two-year initiative, the new 2016 Barbies will include seven skin tones, 18 eye colors, 18 hairstyles, and three new body types – tall, petite, and curvy.

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“We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand,” said Mattel senior vice president Evelyn Mazzocco.

A change that was needed both for the company and consumer. For years now Barbie has been criticized for her unrealistic body proportions and negative influential effects on young girls. The phrase “Barbie Effect” was even coined to discuss the body image pressures young girls experienced after viewing or playing with unrealistically thin dolls or images.

As the public perception of Barbie weakened so did company sales. It was reported in October that the Barbie sales had globally fallen 14 percent; the dolls eighth quarter of double-digit drops, meaning an overall decrease in sales since 2012.

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In 2014 Frozen took the number one spot on the National Retail Federations Top Toys list for the holiday season. Barbie had held that position consecutively for the past 11 years. (Although she did push her way to the top again for the 2015 list.)

Mattel had long refused to change Barbie, even with studies claiming the toy had an effect on the way girls viewed themselves and criticism on the doll’s diversity, but as the overall company saw a 2 ½ year sales slump there was obvious need for change.

In the past year the company has gained new leadership under Christopher Sinclair, a former PepsiCo Inc. executive, and he has worked to turn the company around “by overhauling management, reigniting the company’s creative department, and seeking partnerships with tech companies”. In 2015 the company worked to diversify the Barbie line by releasing the traditional Barbie in a variety of skin tones and hairstyles, as well as creating a Barbie that can participate in “conversational play”.

These efforts seem to be making strides with buyers as for the first time in more than two years Mattel announced a 1% increase in Barbie sales during the fourth quarter, a growth that exceeded Wall Street expectations. With the release of a new body-diverse line in addition to a now ethnically diverse line, Barbie might be on her way to reversing her previously conceived negative status quo.

Armed with the hashtag campaign “#TheDollEvolves”, Mattel’s marketing campaign is heavily promoting the new representation. Unlike previous attempts from Mattel, such as the Barbie “friends” series which introduced just slight variations in ultimately the same tall, thin archtype, Mattel wants people to know that these new dolls aren’t just friends, sidekicks, sisters, they ARE Barbie, too.

While the dolls won’t be launched in stores until March 1st, they are available for preorder now.

– Savannah Valade & Caroline Robinson