Wait, March Madness is going on now?

Just kidding. As everyone knows based on the chatter around their offices, March Madness is happening. Office pools are getting competitive, and people are looking for score updates to see which teams will destroy their brackets or take them to a win for some serious bragging rights. Take a look around your office– do you see a lot of productivity going on? Or, are everyone’s brackets too distracting? In a recent survey from one of our clients, Staples Advantage, March Madness was (not surprisingly) identified as a productivity killer by office workers and managers alike.

That’s not the only thing causing a distraction in the office right now. Spring is finally showing signs of its existence with a sunny 50+ degree day, which is yet another reason employees aren’t paying attention to their work. After the weather we’ve been having for the past few months in Boston, who can blame us for getting a little distracted?

What’s interesting is that the survey also revealed that employees and employers alike believe they are more productive today than five years ago, so there is hope. New technology and workplace trends allow us to be more productive anytime, anywhere. 

So, what can help keep productivity levels high during March Madness and Spring weather? Start by equipping your office with the right technology (including mobile technology to allow for telecommuting), ergonomic furniture, and a well-stocked break room. All of these factors help boost productivity throughout the day, as they not only allow workers to comfortably work where they want, when they want, but also encourage them to step away from their desks and refocus. If you’re looking to go outside and feel what it’s like to not be bundled up in a winter coat, take a walk and get away from your computer. In the end, you’ll come back to work recharged and ready to take on new tasks.

There are ways to be productive, even when the NCAA tournament and Spring weather are involved. It’s just a matter of making sure your office is properly equipped to encourage productivity. 

- Ilena R. 

Snapchat: 10 Seconds of Fame, or the Next Big Marketing Platform?

Within the last few years a countless number of social platforms have been released that allow users to communicate with each other in new and innovative ways. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter were originally created for user-to-user communication, but are now used as marketing tools by prominent businesses.

Businesses use social platforms to reach a broader audience, more consistently and often at a lower cost. As a result, we can expect to see businesses continue to use these platforms to market their products in the future.    

Facebook and Twitter have long been the leaders in social media marketing. But it may come as a surprise to some that Snapchat is making a strong push to be the next big thing in social media marketing. When people think of Snapchat, they typically think of goofy photos of themselves or their friends that disappear after just 10 seconds. Well now Snapchat is adding new features that allow it to be used as a more effective marketing tool.

In early October of 2013, Snapchat released an update allowing for “stories” to be created. Snapchat “stories” compile users’ snaps together to create a narrative of their experiences. These narratives last for 24 hours before they are deleted, just like regular snaps.  This update could prove beneficial for businesses that are attempting to use Snapchat as a potential tool for marketing. 

One company leading the way and integrating Snapchat into their marketing plan is 16 Handles, a self-serve yogurt chain.  One promotion from 16 Handles allowed you to receive store credit if you snapped them a picture of you eating their product.  Once the picture was sent, you would then receive an automated snap back from the 16 Handles account. To take advantage of the promotion, you would open the snap the next time you were at the store and receive a coupon   (see below) with anywhere from 16% to 100% off of that order. This is a great example of how a social app can be effective for marketing.

Other companies that have started using Snapchat are Taco Bell, Audi, Acura, Karmaloop and Grubhub. It will be exciting to see how these companies come up with different ways to use Snapchat to promote their brands. 

Since the release of Snapchat in 2011, it has become one of the most popular apps downloadable for smart phones and tablets. Snapchat is popular mainly because of how simple and fast it is to use.  Messages can be created and consumed in just the matter of seconds, which is probably why it is so addicting to many of us.  A staggering 350 million images are sent per day! With numbers like that, it should come as no surprise that companies are looking into ways to take advantage.   Who would have thought that Snapchat could turn 10 seconds into a long-term marketing platform? I for one did not, but I am looking forward to seeing where this new social tool can go. 

- Ryan M. 

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Textie Growth: The Power of the Intern

I like to think that Text100 sets itself apart because many people have grown-up here. When I say “grown-up,” I mean that we have a unique group of people in the Boston office that started out as interns, and have grown within the company and as people, myself included.

I talked to some of my fellow former interns and asked a few questions about their time at Text100 and what they think makes it special. My first question to them was “What is your favorite aspect of Text100?” 100% of them said my co-workers and the culture. I find that pretty remarkable!

Stephanie Liu, who is now an account coordinator, said, “At one of my previous internships, the fun committee always had to persuade people to grab drinks or attend office outings – definitely not a problem we have at Text100. From welcome drinks for new hires to beer o’clock every Friday, Texties are a sociable bunch.”

Kate Mather,  who is now a senior account executive, agreed, saying, “Not only do I get to work with great people every day, but I get to feel like I’m part of a team, I’m respected and encouraged, and I feel cared for. In the corporate world, it’s easy to feel as though you’re just some ‘number.’ But at Text100, I feel as though my managers, teammates, and office coworkers care about me as a person and as an employee. Everyone is very collaborative and we do a great job of building people up rather than breaking them down.” I couldn’t agree more. Whether you’ve been at Text for six months or 10 years, you are treated with the same level respect as the next employee.

Greg Doonan, who was recently promoted from intern to the account coordinator role, made a great point:  he thinks Text100 is different because, “unlike many companies, Text100 managers make a concerted effort to respect the importance of a work/life balance. PR can be a ‘sink or swim’ industry, but everyone I’ve worked with at Text100 respects the need for personal time and will assist you if you feel overwhelmed.”

During our pow-wow, where it was hard to stop socializing (we all really like each other), we talked about the most important lessons we learned while we were interns.  Stephanie commented, “Texties appreciate hard work and dedication. During your internship, you’ll have days that are crazy busy and days that are really slow. It’s on the days when you’re twiddling your thumbs that you really have the opportunity to shine in the office by showing you’re proactive, interested in the work you do here, and willing to lend a hand.” Greg agreed and added, “There are always ways to assist.”

A testament to the Text100 way, and reflecting our company values that every Textie learns when hired is our “Kickass” awards each week. Each week there are nominations and voting – winners can be great pitch teams, account teams, or individuals who secured something great that week, and all winners get awesome gift cards, along with high-fives from the team.

And here are some words of wisdom from those of us who have interned at Text:

  • Be proactive in communicating. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because you will save time and people want to help. Offer your assistance, because there are opportunities to work with various co-workers on a number of projects and get exposure.
  • Work hard, think things through. Be detail-oriented; if you aren’t already, teach yourself to be. Also, I think questions are great – I ask a ton of them myself – but I appreciate when someone takes the time to really let directions sink in, or do some research, or search around the server, before asking how to do something or where to look.
  • Be curious. When I had slow days as an intern, I did a lot of poking around in the email directory to see which accounts people worked on and how they are staffed; I also looked at the account aliases to get a sense of which accounts the other North America offices have, and I asked people what projects they were working on. It helped me gain a better understanding of the type of work Text100 does and how I fit into the picture.
  • It’s not just an internship – it’s a way of learning the industry from the ground up and it’s why so many of our interns stay with the company and go on to have successful careers here. Not only does Text offer a great learning environment, but we invest ourselves in the growth of every single employee – including interns. When we interview intern candidates, we want to know that they’re passionate about learning and very proactive. It goes a long way in our office!

Text100 recognizes PR is not for the faint of heart, and rewards hard work, dedication and growth. If you are interested in an internship at with Text100, please contact our HR office for more information at najobs@text100.com.  

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And the Young Shall Inherit the Tweets. Or Not.

Since the business world started to take notice of the meteoric rise of the social media, there has been one trope that continues to ring out: Let the youngest in the office handle it since they’re probably the only ones who understand “that stuff.”

For a few years, maybe, it might have held some truth. Teenagers and college students were early adopters and still tend to drive a large degree of innovation. But they aren’t the only users in town. In fact, across social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn, users between 35 and 64 have been joining at a rate far surpassing their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews.

For brands trying to reach current and potential customers, this middle-aged migration to the social sphere represents greater opportunities for engagement. Older demographics have always had greater purchasing power, but now they are closing the gap in digital savvy. This means that not only are audiences you once thought turned a deaf ear to “that kids’ stuff” playing in the sandbox of online media, but they are flocking to do so in greater numbers – and with more aplomb – than ever before.

“So,” you might be saying, “what does this all mean?” It means that older audiences are not just visiting Facebook to dominate Farmville or trolling YouTube for the latest cat video. OK, so maybe they’re still looking for cat videos, but that really defies age. Now, these important audiences are using social networks to interact, build relationships and gain insight into the issues that matter to them.

You can’t pretend that social only matters to 14 year olds with a severe case of Bieber fever. It matters to everyone, even if they’re more likely to have fully-vested 401(k) than a weekly allowance. With an older audience comes the realization that it’s more about the genuine ability to have a conversation online than whether or not you fondly recall the time LaserDisc and Betamax were the future of technology or are too young to remember the three weeks Zip Drives were going to change everything

There are plenty of questions to ask when it comes to social media, and that’s where Text100 is here to help, but the first one should not be, “are we ‘young’ enough?”

By Dan P., our newest Text100 Intern

An e-book in three hours, and more thoughts from “Take Flight with PR”

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While it sounds impossible – and some might liken it to going around the world in three days – students at Boston University’s College of Communication took the lead from Professor Edward Boches to conceive, write, design, produce and publish a 68-page e-book in three hours.

Our eyebrows raised when we heard this at “Take Flight with PR,” an event hosted by The Council of PR firms and Boston University on October 3. We’ve written e-books for clients, but we’ve spent more than three hours, three days, even three weeks to produce content that connects people with brands. Yet, there was something formidable and exciting about Boches’ approach of “courage, collaboration, creativity” that helped his students focus on the task at hand and “fight for the project rather than for their own individual recognition.” This is so intrinsic to Text100’s values of “We are ONE TEAM.”

At the event geared to preparing students for careers in communication, Boches also nudged students in attendance to avoid getting comfortable with what they already know. He maintained that “the individuals and agencies who are failing now — or at least falling behind — are doing so because they lack the courage to leap forward and learn new technologies, platforms and ways of connecting.” Text100’s value of “We DARE” fuels our ability to help our clients create content that will help inform and influence decisions – stories and content that go beyond words and media – across platforms to help brands connect with people in a very powerful way.

This theme of embracing new challenges and committing to an ongoing learning process was also pervasive in the panel discussion that followed, during which one of our own – Ken Peters – spoke alongside four other PR pros from agencies in the Boston area to a room full of PR hopefuls. The Text factor certainly shined through as Ken explained how important it is to a company like Text100 to set high expectations for employees and encourage them to grow and learn, all the while having a dedicated and collaborative team of people there to help and evolve with them in the process.

As digitally savvy students enter the job market and build their careers, they need to be comfortable with an ongoing career evolution. We have seen this transition during our own careers at Text100 as we move from traditional PR consultants to integrated communications consultants — built on Text100’s legacy of 32 years of experience in sharing content for the world’s most important and innovative brands. It is an exciting time in our industry – the opportunities are limitless, and it’s up to us what we do with them.

- Ilena and Lisa Silver

Volunteering: Arthur W. Page Society

Last week, the Text100 Boston crew volunteered at the Arthur W. Page Society’s 30th annual conference, held at the Long Wharf Marriott hotel. The whole office volunteered in shifts over a two day period, and as a bonus, we had the opportunity to listen to the sessions at the conference. The conference brought together 170 leading communications professionals from corporations and agencies alike to network and discuss challenges and opportunities in the communications sphere. Some familiar faces included our clients as well as our CEO, Aedhmar Hynes.

Here are some of our takeaways from the event:

It was inspiring to be in the same room as some of the great minds who have helped shape our field into what it is today. The presentation from Southwest Airlines made a particular impact – the way in which they appreciate their employees and incorporate them into their messaging, as well as the accessibility of their CEO, seem to be a recipe for a company full of happy employees who understand their value. –Ilena

I listened to a psychology speaker present at the event – slightly unexpected, but he walked us through some of the ways we process information and how we can apply that knowledge to crisis communications. He gave us pointers about how to frame our messages – for example, people primarily register the first and last things they hear, and (unintentionally) stop listening after the first three points. –Steph L.

I was incredibly impressed by how interested these accomplished professionals were in learning from each other – on topics from employee communications, to collaborating with competitors and the importance of a trusted senior leadership team. Additionally, it was cool to hear how they quantify their success, since that is something we consider for our clients all the time. –Kate F.

It was incredible to witness the creative mindshare in the room, especially to sit in on the session with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s President and CEO, Patricia Harrison. To absorb the content that was discussed really put things in perspective for me from integrated communications point of view and as a result, I feel more empowered as a marketing and communications professional. –Steph K.

The level of attendees at the event was humbling – the top communications officers from some of the largest companies in the world. It was refreshing how open and honest they were about the challenges and opportunities that they face on a daily basis.  And it was incredibly encouraging to see that the way they meet those challenges and opportunities is rooted in the fundamentals of communications.  The themes of transparency, responsiveness, honesty and responsibility were repeated in session after session.  – Ken P.

—Steph L.

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The Spoils of Our Labor: Office Lunch

As in all Text100 offices, here in Boston we take pride on our work. And there is no better feeling than hard work rewarded. For being a top-performing office, Text100 treated us to an amazing end-of-summer lunch. 

We decided to have our celebratory lunch at Jacob Wirth, a Boston treasure, beer paradise and purveyor of fine German foodstuffs. 

We ate, we drank, we laughed and we celebrated a job well done. Keep up the good work, Boston!

- Kate F. 

Our Fiscal Year Kickoff Celebration

2013 was a great fiscal year for the Text100 Boston team, highlighted by a number of awesome additions to the staff, new business acquisitions, and an overall surpassing of expectations.

So naturally when we kicked off the 2014 FY earlier this week, we had to celebrate the achievements of the previous year with an emphasis on something the office loves more than anything else – food.

We held an office-wide pot luck that did not disappoint. The staff contributed a diverse array of offerings, including lobster macaroni and cheese, Swedish meatballs, Pad Thai, crepes with Nutella, and much more. My personal favorites (it’s almost unfair because everything was delicious!) were the charcuterie tray full of delicious meats and cheeses, as well as the tortilla chips and queso dip. So yummy and addicting!

While we all nibbled on quality food (i.e. stuffed our faces with deliciousness), we certainly did not lose sight of the true purpose of our meeting – to usher in a new year at Text100. The Boston team was fortunate enough to have Rowan Benecke, regional director of North America, in the office to celebrate with us and share his insights and thoughts on the past year and the bright future of our company.

Ken and Lisa did a tremendous job of communicating the successes of the previous year, during which Text100 flourished at the global, regional, and local levels. We also learned about Text100’s plan for the coming year and how we can expand on the great work that this company has done for decades. The future looks promising.

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the kickoff was when Lisa was presented with the global TextFactor award for people development. I cannot imagine a more deserving recipient of this honor than Lisa.

The new fiscal year is upon us, and we all expect great things for the future. For now, let us toast an outstanding year and a memorable occasion shared with some of the best people around.

-   Greg

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Text100 Summer Outing: Duck Tours, Giant Ice Cream Sundaes, and Bowling, Oh My!

Last week, the Text100 Boston team took the city by storm with our annual Summer Outing. One of the many (really awesome) perks of working at Text100 is the Summer Outing. For one day in the summer, the office shuts down so we can take a break and have some fun as an office. Each year the activity varies, we’ve taken cooking classes, had a tour of Fenway Park, and took a wine tour of the historic South End over the years.

For this year’s outing, we saw the sights and sounds of our beloved city with a Boston Duck Tour. For those who have never been on a Boston Duck Tour, you get to ride in a DUKW (which is a replica of the amphibious vehicles used in WWII) which takes you around the historic sites of Boston and Cambridge as well as into the Charles River, (love that dirty water!) where you get the chance to drive the boat yourself. A few Texties got that chance (Michele, Martha and Kate F.) and we all had fun seeing who was able to steer the DUKW the best.

Food is also a main highlight for Text100 Summer Outings and we had a yummy lunch at Cafeteria on Newbury St. We got to nosh on lobster rolls, fancy mac-n-cheese, and summer-y drinks. Since no Summer Outing is complete without dessert, a few of us decided to indulge in the “Ultimate Cafeteria Sundae”. It’s a good thing we decided to split it because it literally could feed our entire office! We then capped off the day with some bowling at Kings where we got to show off our mad skills.  

With a successful and fun Summer Outing complete, I already can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year. Check out some of photos from our Summer Outing below!

- Steph K.

- Pumped for our Boston Duck Tour

- Michele achieving her lifelong dream to drive a Duck Boat

 

- Ilena and Lisa in awe of the size of Cafeteria’s ultimate sundae

- Our private bowling lane at Kings

Learnings from Earnings: Achieving Success for Clients on Financial Results

In PR, we work with clients on a variety of projects. Product announcements, partnerships, CSR efforts, thought leadership - we handle it all. And although we give equal attention and effort to each project, working with our clients on their quarterly financial earnings announcements has a special place in the hearts of the Boston Text100office. Below are some of our key takeaways around preparing for and executing media outreach for our clients’ earnings announcements.

Results Aren’t Everything

Sure, the numbers matter. Exceeding quarterly guidance is good, raising yearly forecast is even better, and double digit year over year growth makes analysts, investors and reporters rub their hands together in excitement. But you may not always have good numbers (and even when you do), earnings are one of the best opportunities to tell your clients’ larger story. How is the company innovating, what trends are they seeing in the market, and what do their numbers say about the industry as a whole? Earnings are a reflection of the broader financial ecosystem, and media will want to know more than just a percentage; perspective is where the value lies for our audience.

Know Your Executives

When booking executive’s time for media briefings each quarter, make sure you know your stuff. Not every executive is a fit for every beat, so be sure to consider particular areas of expertise, and work to maintain existing, positive relationships between executives and reporters.

Embrace Your Executive’s Availability

Sometimes it’s tough to get time for your executives to meet with reporters. It’s a rare treat to eavesdrop on your CEO chatting with analysts and reporters about the state of the industry and the direction of the company. Harness those conversations, and use them to tease out and develop story lines you can leverage for proactive media outreach.

- Marina G. & Kate F.