Monday, October 31, 2011

Pin Your Online Life Together

By Melissa Baxley, Editorial Assistant

Social media is continually changing, those who are computer savvy are constantly looking for new user-friendly services to make their life easier. One new website attracting a large number of users allows people to collect and organize ideas as they discover them on the Internet. It’s called Pinterest

Pinterest enables people to organize ideas and images from the Internet into categories, or “pinboards,” and share them with other users. According to its website, “people use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.”

Picture a huge tack-board with sticky notes showing interesting websites, DIY, pictures, ideas and much more attached, or “pinned,” to it. Separate boards can be created to keep one’s items categorized and easily accessible. 

Each “pin” contains a short description and a link to its original source. Therefore, when an image on one’s pinboard catches a user’s attention, he or she can click the link and is immediately taken to the website where the content originated. 

The easiest way to create a pinboard is to install the “Pin It” bookmark. By doing this, when one is on a website and finds a picture that catches his or her eye, he or she simply clicks the Pin It bookmark. The page then turns into a bunch of boxes that show all of the pictures, and the user clicks each one he or she wants to add to his or her board. 

Pins can be shared on Facebook and Twitter, and users can register via Facebook Connect or through Twitter. This enables users to “like” or “repin” your pins. 

This is an excellent tool for planning, organizing and remembering interesting things you’ve come across on the Internet.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Netflix: Sorry We're Not Sorry

Ian Twamley, general manager of TGC, highlights the importance of timely and transparent two-way communication between an organization and its customers, especially when changing or launching a new product or service.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Simple Design 101

By Lauren Beck, Graphic Designer

When we think of Nike, we associate it with a check sign. Target -- the red bull’s-eye, and McDonald’s -- the golden arches. Despite these being well-known companies, there is something about the simplicity of the brands that make us remember them. The beauty of simple design does not only hold true when designing logos, it can be applied in a variety of visual design.

According to the attractiveness bias theory, a good-looking design will draw more attention than a poor design. The first impression of something will be an ultimate factor in whether or not the viewer reads the content presented.

The power of simplicity in print design

Take advantage of white space or negative space. This refers to the space between elements in a composition. When used correctly it can turn a layout into something more appealing to the eye. 

In this example you can see how white space is used to improve the advertisement from looking cheap and cluttered to clean and sophisticated.

Improving Web design

Simplicity holds true not only to print, but to the online world as well. When browsing online, a well-designed website makes a world of difference.  This is an example of a well-designed website vs. a poorly-designed website. 

Example one is cluttered, uses lengthy paragraphs and feels overwhelming. While example two is clean, simple, easy to navigate and straight to the point.

Why would a viewer stay on a site where they can barley find the home button? We all are constantly browsing sites on the web, so making a first impression is crucial.

By using clean, simple design it allows the users to quickly identify the purpose of the site, find what they need, and increases the chance that they find the content on the site reliable.

Key factors for creating a design of your own:

1. Know your audience.
  • People don’t read online they scan. Information online should be easily identifiable. Use design elements such as: bolding the type, adjusting the size, color and contrast.
2. Use one or two fonts max.
  • Too many fonts can make a design look cluttered and will distract the overall design.
  • Be aware of serif vs. sans serif fonts. Pairing the right fonts together can be a challenge, so here are a few examples of sans serif and serif fonts that work nicely together.
  • Keep the headings, subheads and body fonts consistent.
  • Be aware of tracking, kerning and leading.
3. Avoid colors that clash or are too bright.
  • It can be distracting, harsh on the eyes and unattractive.
  • The wrong use of colors can even make a work impossible to read.
  • Using a color-wheel can help to make successful color choices.
An example of my own design:

The purpose of this USRentalListing postcard is to advertise website services to universities. I used color, type and whitespace to attempt to create a design that was clear, simple and straight to the point. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Social Media Management

By Ashley Shaffer, Social Media Director

I bet if you threw a paper airplane in a crowded room it would hit someone who uses at least two types of social media.

Of course this is just my guess, but a recent study found that half of all Americans are using a social networking site. A report by Nielsen published last month stated that 22.5 percent of time spent online is used for social media and blogs.

It has also been noted that women, specifically between the ages of 19 and 29 use social media far more than men -- way to go, ladies! And to top it all off, about 43 percent of U.S. businesses use social media.

So what does this mean?

Well, if you’re a college student graduating in the near future and planning on going through the hiring process of your dream job, you may want to work on your social networks. Especially if you are in public relations, business or advertising fields, it is important to do content management for yourself.

Many of us use social media to connect with friends and family, but did you know that many companies will find you on social networking sites before they hire you.

Yep, that’s right: Your resume and cover letter aren’t enough in today’s business world. 

Some helpful tips on managing yourself on social media:
  • If you want to land a job you should consider having a presence on social media. 
  • If you have anything on your social network that your mother wouldn’t approve of, assume your future boss won’t either. 
  • Having a social media presence may not apply to all jobs; however, no matter what industry you plan to go into in the future, check your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other accounts. 
  • If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, get one! It is by far one of the best tools for networking and connecting with industries. It gets your resume out there and visible to those you wish to work for down the line. 
  • Just because you have super-locked-down privacy settings on your accounts doesn’t mean businesses can’t hack into them to get a sense of who you are. 
  • Remember to keep your social networks appropriate -- don’t bash others, don’t use foul language -- yet keep your personality visible. Companies like those who stand out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Music: Good for your ears and mind

By Becky Edwards, Account Executive

Music improves your mood and helps you get through a stressful day. It can put a smile on your face with just the first seconds of the song. Music also makes you smarter. Studies have shown that classical music stimulates both sides of the brain, increasing the listener’s learning capability and withholding of information.

My roommate once told me that she listened to a Pandora
classical music station while studying. I couldn’t have thought of anything worse to clog my brain with while trying to memorize dozens of marketing terms.

Boy was I wrong. While studying for a test and procrastinating for two hours, I logged on to Pandora and did what I thought I would never do: I put the classical station on.

My iPod is now full of this stuff.

Here are some “rules” about how this works for me.

1. No Lyrics.
I know we all like to relate our personal life to the lyrics of specific songs, but that is just distracting while trying to study. The words streaming from your headphones just get in the way of the words you’re reading and trying to memorize.

2. Repetitive & Simple.
Though some find it annoying, listening to the same or similar songs over and over again trigger your brain to remember things. I didn’t believe this either, so, I tested it out. I now associate the steps of the marketing strategy with Bach.

3. No distracting tempos.
Listening to a techno song while trying to study is nothing but distracting. Fast music makes you feel energized while slow music helps you feel calm and relaxed; which is perfect for studying. According to UNC Charlotte, Listening to a song with 60 beats per minute activates the left and right brain.

I learned more about marketing that night than I have had.

Try it
. Trust me, you’ll never try to study while blasting Lil’ Wayne again.

The Designer Manual

By Megan Greene, Graphic Designer

So you’ve hired a designer… now what? How do you communicate? Designers have different work schedules and processes than journalists, public relations reps and other professionals. Working together for a client can be a daunting task.

As a designer that has never worked with a group of writers, I had a lot to learn about communication. This meant checking my email a lot more and making sure my phone was attached to my hip at all times.

Through my experience at Tehama Group Communications, I’ve learned several strategies to help projects go more smoothly.

Tips on working together:

1. Bring some ideas to the table. Initial brainstorming is a very important step to getting a solid start to any project. It helps the designer know where to start if you have an idea of where you want to go.

2. Time management is crucial. There are always going to be last-minute edits, no matter what. Plan your deadlines so they are at least a couple of days before the actual deadline.

3. Communicate! With everyone. This keeps everyone as stress-free as possible. Keeping the lines of communication open constantly will help eliminate problems early. If the designer gets stuck, the group can help brainstorm. If the writers get stuck, designers can use their creative bone, too. Help each other out; it’s always good to have back-up when it’s needed.

In the worst-case scenario, know that sometimes it just doesn’t work out. The owner of Circle Design in Sacramento once told me that it’s OK to admit when things are going in the wrong direction. There is the rare occasion when a client and a designer just don’t connect. It is better for everyone to admit this and take an honest assessment of the creative process. A negative client-designer relationship will always be evident in the final product.

Remember: Talk to the client about their vision, brainstorm, mock-up, revision (often multiple times), final edit and the reveal of the final product.

Want to read another perspective? Check out some of these tips from someone who has had some experiences of their own!

Friday, October 7, 2011


By Megan Grasty, Account Executive

Some might say that my involvement in a sorority won’t help me in my search for a public relations job, but I disagree.

From serving as president of Alpha Gamma Delta, to interacting with Panhellenic -- the governing board of the nationally recognized sororities on campus -- to communicating with chapters on other campuses, I have applied many of the lessons I have learned in my PR classes to my experience in my sorority.

As president I have to utilize internal and external communication skills to interact effectively with not only 100 members, but also advisers, Panhellenic and other figures on campus.

My chapter creates annual goals that we strive to meet with different strategies created by our Executive Council with budgets to follow and a calendar that acts as our timeline.

Increased community outreach and service in addition to our national philanthropy fundraiser, was a goal that was met by participating in local community events such as Bidwell Park Cleanup, volunteering at the Butte Humane Society and participating in a community walk.

Other goals include incentives for girls with high GPAs, increased sisterhood bonding activities and relations with other organizations on campus.

Conducting research to meet these goals includes reaching out to other AGD and Panhellenic chapters in order to see how they are succeeding in areas where we may need improvement.

I use reputation management to help fix the negative stereotypes associated with Greek life. Many of the overlooked positives that our Greek adviser, Jennifer Halford, points out, include the countless ways we give back to the community, the invaluable leadership and social communicating experience we obtain, and the fact that the all sorority average GPA (2.95) is higher than Chico State’s all women’s average GPA (2.89).

Social media and PR play a big role in how we portray ourselves as a chapter and as Panhellenic. Panhellenic and our chapter realize the importance of being present on Facebook, as well as the potential negative side effects to warn members about.

Ethical dilemmas often arise when dealing with sorority politics. I’ve learned that my method is similar to virtue ethics where every situation is different and actions to be taken may change depending on the person or the situation as long as actions do not become hypocritical.

If we are successful in our “PR Campaign,” our evaluation occurs during recruitment. When we have accomplished all of our goals and objectives to put our chapter in a positive light, the girls we want to join our chapter will.

So tell me again how being in a sorority hasn’t given me skill-enhancing public relations experience?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Athletes Online

By Alia Gray, Assistant Account Executive

World-class American distance runner Kara Goucher doesn’t describe the best run of her life as her bronze medal run at the 2007 World Championships, or any of her blistering personal record times. Instead, she says it was the first run after her pregnancy.

How do I know? I get the inside scoop twice a month from her blog.

As a budding public relations student, it has been drilled into my head that it’s imperative I create an online presence through several active social media accounts.

Turns out, the same is true for professional athletes, with blogs in particular. Michael Phelps  and Lance Armstrong  are just a couple elite athletes who have blogged. The instant and personal connection humanizes them and makes them more than just their athletic accomplishments. Professional athletes are real people, too!

The straight facts of training for professional athletes alone are impressive.

Every once in a while, Goucher  will include some of her times during workouts or volume of miles that she throws down on any given week, and they never fail to amaze me. It’s exciting to get an inside view into how these elite athletes train and prepare for big-stage competition -- and sometimes makes me dream a little, too.

Personal life

It’s easy enough for fans to get ahold of competition results, but actually knowing the athlete beyond these hard facts is what often solidifies a following.

For example, Goucher had a baby this past September and blogged her way through the entire pregnancy. It was amusing to hear about personal bits like her indulgences and daily ups and downs.

And when the big day finally came? She shared…with pictures.


Why do we love professional athletes in the first place? They’re amazing at what they do, sure, but what’s really impressive is that they’re amazing and they’re actual human beings. Sometimes it can be easy to view them as specimens instead of actual people.

One of the posts I found most touching Goucher included in her blog was about someone who inspired her. It’s refreshing to see that even world-class athletes can be moved by the triumphs of others.

When you realize that they’re not superhuman and have their own struggles, their accomplishments are all the more astounding.