How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview

Here at Track5Media, we’re always hiring. We also work with plenty of recruiters and agencies who are always hiring as well. Needless to say, the interview process is a familiar one. While there is no single recipe for a perfect interview process, there are a few things that can help you conduct an effective job interview. Anytime you are hiring a new employee, the costs of making a bad hire can be huge. With this in mind, it is important that you get the decision right the first time around. In order to do this, consider the following tips when preparing to run an interview!

5 Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview

Conduct an Effective Job Interview

1. Clearly Define the Position

Of course, if you are hiring then you have some specific job responsibilities that need to be filled. However, it is important to fully assess what you need and want in your future employee. Failing to explicitly define job responsibilities, roles, and duties can create problems for both you and your job candidates before or after the hiring decision. Take the time before posting any job listings to talk with everybody relevant to the position within your company in order to gain a complete understanding of the hard and soft skills that will be useful in this role. This can help the applicant to understand the role before applying and can ensure that everyone within your organization is on the same page regarding a new hire.

2. Prepare in Advance

Too often, interviewers fall victim to the belief that only the interviewee needs to prepare. Dedicate time before the meeting to closely review the candidates’ application materials and craft informative questions based on those materials. It may not always be helpful to ask each applicant to describe their work history when that information is available on their resume. Instead, identify key positions they have held that relate to the job you are filling. Asking questions about those prior experiences will help you understand how the candidate will fit into your organization.

3. Make the Applicant Comfortable

Reducing stress in an interview situation is important to conduct an effective job interview. Given that you are in a hiring position, chances are you’ve been through a few interviews yourself. This process is naturally stressful and it can be difficult to accurately represent yourself when stressed. Be sure to communicate the format and expectations for the interview in advance so that you interviewee can feel more comfortable. After all, when the applicant is not stressed out you are more likely to get genuine answers.

4. Interview With a (Small) Team

When interviewing applicants (especially if there are a lot), bringing in two or three interviewers can ensure consistency. In making a big decision, it is important to have insight from multiple people affected by the decision. Having a couple of people involved in the interview means that you will have multiple perspectives. Different interviewers will pick up on different cues and can discuss their observations afterward. This said, avoid involving too many people in the hiring process. Unfortunately, hiring by democracy can often be too time intensive and ultimately ineffective. Choose a small group of people to help make your final decision.

5. Ask the Right Questions

In order to conduct an effective job interview, it is important to ask the right types of questions. Of course, this is closely related to preparing in advance. However, the right questions will likely allow for you to ask the candidate follow-up questions. Behavioral questions are a common type of question in interviews because they allow the candidate to tell their story. Questions like, “Tell me about a time that you initiated a project that increased efficiency…” allow the candidate to detail a personal experience that may provide insight into how they would handle the role available. If there is something about the applicant’s answer that you’d like to know more about, ask them to elaborate.

 

In short, it is not always easy to conduct an effective job interview. However, with an appropriate level of preparation and consideration, it can be. Remember that hiring someone is like making an investment. A good investment can grow over time while a bad investment only causes unnecessary expenses. Putting in a little extra work upfront can pay off in a big way down the road!

After reading our tips for running an interview, if you interested in interviewing with us you’re in luck! As mentioned above, we’re hiring! So, apply today!

Turning an Internship Into a Job

I know this might come as a surprise, but I wasn’t always the wily veteran of the Track5Media marketing team. In fact, not even two years ago, I was sweating through my undershirt as I sat down for my first internship interview here. I know, crazy right? The man behind the viral sensation Troy Thunder was actually nervous during his intern interview? Still a senior in college, I initially was just looking for something else to put on my resume while I pursued a career in journalism, but it took less than a year to realize that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Similar to me, Connor Smith also made the transition from intern to full-time employee. Turning an internship into a job isn’t easy, but it can certainly be done with some hard work, focus, and the right timing.

“After joining the Track5 team in January of 2016, I was relieved to find such a unique work environment. Getting to work on a new project alongside everyone else from day one was really cool, and I quickly learned a lot about the industry,” Smith said. “After we moved to our new location I knew being a part of this growing company was the right move. Now almost two years later, we’re still going strong and I’m glad I was able to expand my internship into a career that’s constantly evolving.”

So what happened? How did we both end up turning an internship into a job?

turning a job into a career

Here’s a picture of myself, Jenn, and Connor, who were all interns in the past.

Well, there’s no definitive answer, but I can tell you a few tips and tricks to help turn that internship into the first step towards a rewarding career. Below are just a few things to keep in mind if you want to turn your internship into a full-fledged career.

Turning an Internship Into a Job

Show Interest

It sounds like a no-brainer, right? If you’re interning somewhere, you’re supposed to be interested in what you’re working on. Sadly, many interns choose to go through the motions and see the experience as just another step in the never-ending journey towards a career. One of the biggest things I learned while turning an internship into a job is to always ask questions. While you might feel too timid or feel like you’re bugging your manager, they will actually welcome the interest in the company. Ask about the future of the company and where they plan to go. Showing interest in what the company is trying to accomplish shows that you want to have a helping hand in growing the company.

“Ask questions because people would rather know you’re looking for answers instead of ignoring problems,” says Smith.

Be Flexible

I truly think the biggest reason that I was able to turn my internship into a job was my willingness to be flexible. If you’re working on a marketing team (or any team for that matter) you’re going to be asked to work together and help your team members out. Whether it was writing more content for our blogs, doing some research for competitors, or even tackling a brand-new area of expertise that I knew nothing about (like SEO) I was always willing to put my best effort into it. I could keep the team working like a well-oiled machine.

Speak Up

Finally, I think the biggest thing I learned during my transition from an intern to a full-time employee was to speak up about an interest in continuing a career where you are interning. Initially, I was hired to intern during the spring, but after enjoying my time that semester, I quickly asked my manager at the time if they would be willing to keep me through the end of my schooling in the winter. Luckily, they were pleased with my work so far so I was able to remain with the company until graduation. Then, a few weeks before graduation I expressed interest in coming on as a full-time employee. After another interview, I landed the job! I think a big reason that I landed the job wasn’t just the work I produced, but the fact that I spoke up and expressed interest in remaining with the company.

That being said, if you’re looking to join an awesome team, check out our internship opportunities on our “careers” page!

Measuring Video Marketing Success on Facebook

Social media space is ever-changing and marketers are constantly looking for ways to cut through the noise and arrive to meet their audience’s needs. Although it’s sometimes difficult to find new and exciting ways to solve common problems or serve common needs, it’s becoming increasingly clear that video marketing is poised to remain the highest-converting medium. Throughout the marketing revolutions of the television, the personal computer, and now the smartphone, videos have reliably held a vibrant and effective spot in the hearts and minds of consumers.

measuring video marketing success on facebook

But why does video convert more than other media? As humans, we love the continuity of stories, the experience of joining into a shared (digital) space, and seeing other people interacting with each other. Most notably, we like interacting with products or services. We simply can’t get enough of social media because it allows us to access the fundamental human need for community in an instant.

Measuring Video Marketing Success on Facebook | Starting Points

So whether you’re just getting into video marketing or have been at it for a bit, how do you know if you’re having success in this medium? Here we’ll discuss some of the starting points for measuring video marketing success on Facebook, given some new guidelines.

1. Measure View-Through Rate

Just as websites are looking to garner healthy click-through rates, the behavior associated with videos is interpreted as a view-through rate. A bit obvious, but how can you turn that into numbers?

Up until recently, Facebook defined individual video views as someone having watched a video for at least three seconds. Now, a recent announcement has revealed the new average watch time metric video marketers will inevitably be looking toward.

measuring video marketing success on facebook

In a somewhat confusing plot twist, Facebook is now looking to count a “play” once when someone watches a video within a 30-minute session referred to as a “user session.” Essentially, even if someone rewinds the video because they’ve missed the beginning, Facebook will only count this as a single play, regardless of the fact that someone’s actual watch time may exceed the length of the video itself.

This metric is trying to shed light on the average watch time per viewer, rather than the average watch time per play. Basically, this is an attempt to factor in repeat viewers and how popular videos actually are rather than how long they’ve been played.

2. Engagement and Conversion

Now for what it’s worth, your cat could bump the computer and a Facebook video might end up playing to the end, but that doesn’t mean anything has come of that view. The other half of getting a healthy view-through rate is engagement, and ultimately, conversion of your audience after having completed your desired marketing goal. Really, this is the crux of measuring video marketing success on Facebook. 

In many cases, only around 9% of your entire audience is going to be directly exposed to your video without the synergy of organic shares, comments, tags, etc. This means that if you have around 100 followers, 9 will reliably see this content. It seems low, although that is the true incentive in creating that engagement with each video you create.

measuring video marketing success on facebook

This, of course, is not taking into account paid or boosted posts, or even campaigns that warrant a post all their own to really get the gist. Your metrics for engagement are going to consist of how many likes, comments, and shares a video received, in combination with the clicks to play, link clicks, and other clicks. Finding this data is really as simple as clicking the Publishing Tools tab at the top of your page and selecting a video in your Video Library.

3. General Production Tips

So the bottom line is this: If you’re not making videos for fun, you want to get people down the line to help your business or buy your product. But how can this happen with average view times of 10 seconds?

measuring video marketing success on facebook

  • Catch and keep attention quickly in the first 3 seconds
  • Introduce your product in a way that’s instantly understandable (even without sound!)
  • Provide easy-to-read text and captions throughout
  • Ensure that your audience knows how to complete the next steps
  • Provide the link you want to be clicked
  • Make it something people actually want to decorate their timelines with
  • Bring in emotion whenever appropriate

Really there’s no magic formula and each product or business demands its own approach. Still, getting a hold on what your viewer metrics and engagement are looking like is a great place to start in measuring video marketing success on Facebook. Additionally, doing some cheap A/B testing with different video lengths, cover images, and audio can provide insight into just what your audience wants and how they’ll continue to respond.

Conference Tips and Tricks | Digital Summits and Beyond!

As digital marketers, it can be in our nature to deal with things from the comfort of a computer screen — and yet as much as we’d like to forget, digital marketing takes as much real-life, human interactions as it does strategic marketing wizardry! With Track5Media’s marketing team preparing for the upcoming Digital Summit in Philadelphia, we thought we’d share some of our most coveted conference tips and tricks.

Whether your team is headed to an industry-related conference for the first time or you’re flying solo, there are lots of things to consider before even stepping foot in the venue. So let’s get started!

5 Major Conference Tips and Tricks

conference tips and tricks

1. Organize your Pre-Conference Plan

They’ll be dozens of sessions led by some of the top influencers from far and wide, so that means you’ll need to pregame! No, not the type involving shotgunning beers in the parking lot, I’m talking about getting your plan together ahead of time. Of all the conference tips and tricks listed here, this one might be the single most important!

If you think you’ll just “figure it out when we get there” you may be on track to throwing away hundreds of dollars and missed opportunities for networking! Believe me, you’ll want to plan out exactly just which presentations you’ll be attending, scouting out any meet-and-greets, and of course, maximizing each intermission to keep everything running smoothly. If possible, grab a map ahead of time in order to avoid walking into a speaker’s presentation halfway through — ouch!

2. Hit the Biggest Keynotes

There’s nothing worse than checking Twitter and seeing valuable industry news you missed while wasting time elsewhere. If there are any big announcements, insights, or reveals during a keynote speech you should absolutely be in that room! In a lot of cases, keynotes don’t often hold break out sessions, meaning you won’t have to worry about missing other speakers or events… as long as you mind tip #1!

In any case, these keynote presentations are the crux of any conference, helping you and your team to really engage in the conversation and find solid talking points for anyone else you may encounter during your time there. You may not have much to relate to someone, but attending the same session can really get the ball rolling!

3. Don’t limit Your Scope!

Although most conferences are unified by a central theme or industry, that doesn’t mean every session offered will apply to your day-to-day needs at work. At the same time, some of the best insights can come from seemingly unrelated topics. They say you don’t know what you don’t know, and besides being stupidly redundant, there’s truth in that.

conference tips and tricks

Even sessions that are less-relevant to your focus can be useful if they are highly strategic. You’ll find that most marketing topics are extremely interrelated, so all it takes is one unseen connection between two topics to spawn your next breakthrough campaign — who knows!

4. Have the Right Gear Ready

Most conferences are not said and done in a single day, so you’ll need to be sure you can keep your momentum going the whole time. There’s nothing more stressful than trying to enter a new contact or follow someone on social media just to have your phone die! Extra battery packs, memory cards, and other accessories can be quick fixes to an electronic pickle.

We can’t stress this next point enough: Pack enough business cards! In the event your phone dies or someone else’s kicks the bucket, having a good ol’ fashioned analog business card may just save the day when meeting new or potential clients. Maybe they’ll get flung into the trash, or maybe fall out of a folder at a perfectly serendipitous moment — either way these little pieces of cardboard are never without their use!

If you have products to display or demo, make that a high priority. No one likes to watch you fumble around with faulty internet connections or other difficulties when a potential sale is on the line. Additionally, we mostly buy products because they make things easier, so don’t be your own worst enemy when it comes to demos!

5. Follow Up However Possible

So now that you’ve had your fun, it’s time to return home and get digging through all that swag, those business cards, and your notes (you were taking notes weren’t you??). You can do all the pitching and networking you want, but if you never follow up with anyone… did it really happen?

Send whatever follow up emails you can, reminding your contacts where you met, what you discussed, and about any ways to further collaborate or connect. Conferences can be hectic, exciting, but ultimately very productive so long as you really take the time to digest the experience. If nothing else, be sure to hold a team meeting where everyone can integrate whatever valuable conference nuggets they’ve prospected!

Finally, the Track5 team is headed to the Digital Summit in Philly at the end of August. If you’re going- be sure to hit us up!

conference tips and tricks

Did you find these conference tips and tricks useful? Let us know how you’re preparing for your next big company event in the comments below!

Blog Writing Tips: A Writing Refresher

Let’s face it. When you are pumping out content all day every day for websites and blogs, sometimes you get off track. Sure, you’re still creating decent content, but it could probably be better. For example, did you slack a bit when researching your keyword? Or did you go back and add a little extra fluff just to hit your word count, instead of adding another paragraph based on research? As a blog writer, it is important to pause sometimes and take a little refresher course on the basics of blog writing tips to get yourself back on track. This week at Track5Media, the marketing team did just that. We took about an hour to sit down together and review basic blog writing tips and best practices for selecting SEO keywords. Although it’s stuff we’ve heard a thousand times, it always helps to hear it again and again. Here are the three biggest take-a-ways from our marketing meeting this week!

Blog Writing Tips 101

Blog writing tips Clickbait vs. Conversion

Of course, you want to write creative content that people are going to click on. Yet, the content can’t only be catchy and interesting – it also has to compel people to click further into your site and hopefully convince them to buy into your brand. For example, consumers might see an article with a title that convinces them to click on it, but if the content isn’t as interesting as the title suggests, the reader is lost. They will likely click right back out of the website, instead of remaining there and reading further. The trick is finding topics that are fascinating, targeted to your specific audience and have enough substance to convert clicks into sales. This is one of the most important blog writing tips, but often the hardest goal to reach every single time.

 

blog writing tipsKiller Keywords

Keyword research. This is the one tip that resonated with me the most. When you are picking a keyword for your blog, it is not enough to find a keyword that’s being searched often. You also have to think about who is searching for it and why? What is their end goal when they type that keyword into the search engine? Will your blog post answer their question, and most importantly, is the keyword targeting your specific audience? Sometimes we come up with great topic ideas. We find a keyword related to our topic without considering that it might be attracting many people to our page who will not convert to customers.

 

Blog writing tips

Audience Assessment

The audience. This brings us to number three of the blog writing tips we reviewed this week. The audience is really the first thing you should consider before you decide on a topic; before you select a keyword. Who are you writing for, and what are you trying to tell them? At Track5Media, we have six brands to market for. Our audience varies between all of our brands, from healthcare professionals like registered nurses and physicians to truck drivers. Our newest brand, Senior Caring, is a brand targeting elderly people and their caretakers. The goal with all of our brands is to connect the audience to a service, such as connecting them to an independent living community or a nursing home to care for them. Thinking about each individual audience, the questions they might have, and the topics they care about is key to creating great content.

How to Stay Focused at Work

You’re sitting at your desk shortly after returning from lunch. Your coffee mug from this morning sits empty beside you. There are a million tabs open on your desktop, and your list of tasks for the week is long. Yet, you can’t help but glance over to the window and look out at the blue sky and the green leaves blowing in the gentle breeze. Your mind starts to drift to how nice it is outside and what you could do after work to enjoy the warm weather. Maybe you’ll go for a walk, or possibly grab a drink with some friends at an outdoor bar. Then again, you really should do laundry and dishes, and you can’t forget to make that student loan payment that’s due today. But it’s summertime, and the living’s easy… An email notification pops up, reminding you of the task at hand. Oh yeah – you’re supposed to be writing a blog pos, and the clock is ticking. I may or may not have just described how I spent the past five minutes, but let’s face it – we could all use some tips for how to stay focused at work, especially when it’s finally starting to warm up outside.

The good news about getting side-tracked at work is – you’re not alone. Nearly 50 percent of American workers surveyed admit they work for about 15 minutes before becoming distracted, and 53 percent confess they waste about an hour or more a day because of disruptions. If you’re younger, you likely have an even shorter attention span because of your constant exposure to technology. People who are in their twenties tend to have shorter attention spans, research suggests. Men also have a harder time focusing than women.

how to stay focused at work

4 Tips for How to Stay Focused at Work

There are some easy tips you can follow that will help you to concentrate better, like making sure your basic needs are met. If you are hungry or thirsty, you’ll likely have difficulty staying focused while working. It will also help if you don’t let distractions from your life outside of work into the office. Meditate or do something before work to clear your head. This will help you to stay calm and collected during the work day. Here are some additional tips for how to stay focused at work:

1. Dump your distractions

We all get distracted by things like the ridiculous selfie your mom posted on Facebook or texting a friend about weekend plans. It’s important to identify what those distractions are so that you can eliminate them. Working offline, if possible, or putting your cell phone out of reach, are ways to make sure you stay focused on the task at hand. Taking a complete digital detox isn’t a bad idea, either.

2. Make a to-do list

Having a solid list of what you need to get done each day is another way for how to stay focused at work. If you’re like me, checking items off your list and knowing you got everything done within the allotted time is satisfying. Also, doing your work in smaller chunks of time and then allowing yourself little rewards between each task, like taking a quick walk, grabbing more water or eating a snack, can help you to focus better and concentrate harder.

3. Find things that help you focus

Drinking caffeine, taking short walks throughout the day, and listening to music are all ideas for ways to improve your focus at work, depending on who you are. Caffeine is definitely a personal preference, but there are many studies that reveal the benefits of walking during the workday.  When it comes to music, some people say that it’s distracting while others claim that certain types of music help them to improve their concentration.

4. Like your job

The most important tip for how to stay focused at work is to enjoy what you do and to work for a company with a positive work environment or culture. If you’re passionate about your job, you’ll have an easier time bringing your mind back from thinking about unrelated things, such as what’s for dinner. $1 empanadas on special sound way better than cooking though, right?

Digital Detox | Cleansing a Technological Life

If you’re reading this, then it’s safe to assume you’ve sifted through various digital portals in order to gain access to our amazing blog — or it was just a complete accident. Either way you’re here and that would not have been possible without an easily navigated world wide web. And yet, this ease of use can just as quickly lend itself to compulsiveness, fruitless searches down the rabbit hole, and sheer addiction! Spending so much time glued to a series of screens requires a digital detox, and I’m here to lead you on my 5 step plan for reclaiming your true analog nature…Or at least setting down your phone for a bit.

Studies by Nokia really illustrate the severity of our digital addictions, reporting that the average person checks their phone every six minutes, adding up to around 150 times a day. Add that up throughout the month and you’re basically living inside your devices. This research also showed that younger Americans send nearly 110 texts per day — perhaps out doing their actual verbal communication in some cases.

Another incredible statistic comes from the University of Maryland, where the “World Unplugged” project was founded, spanning 10 countries. This research found that college students actually experienced symptoms consistent with literal addiction when denied usage of their smartphone for 24 hours. Some ways they described their abstinence included “lonely,” “depressed,” “dead,” and even “itchy.”

It’s glaringly obvious that a digital detox is something many tech users could benefit from. Luckily, you don’t have to be a doctor to recommend treatments for staring at your cellphone for too long. So, come with me now on a journey through space-time (devoid of FaceTime).

Step 1: Plan Your Digital Detox

Amazingly, living in such a digitally connected world will have people assuming they are able (almost entitled) to reach you at any given moment. Working in a heavily digital environment, this can become problematic without proper warning, so a digital detox away message might be in order. The same goes for your personal life too! We’ve all gotten the “why are you ignoring me” or “are you dead” texts after misplacing a device or losing power. Plan ahead and make sure it’s evident that you’re taking a technological break.

Step 2: Replace Your Behavior

Old habits don’t die instantly, so finding something to replace frequent phone usage is key to making sure your digital detox is effective. If you’re like many, then reaching for your phone first thing in the morning is part of your daily rhythm — most likely because it’s your alarm clock. Instead, you may just want to put your phone on airplane mode and avoid the flood of notifications first thing in the morning. Try waking up to:

• A newspaper or book

• Making breakfast

• Turn on the radio

• Jump in the shower

• Anything else besides scrolling through a feed.

While you may not fully forgo smartphone usage, you’ll at very least want to buffer it from capitalizing on some of your first moments each day.

Step 3: Evaluate Your Habits

If you can take a day to really unplug for your digital detox, this could be a good time to really assess how devices are affecting your daily actions. Are you neglecting your health because you’re rewarding your brain with newsfeeds instead of actual nutrition or exercise? Is there something you just “wish you had time for?” Think about how much time you’re spending using a device and consider converting that into a productive activity or hobby you’ve always wanted to do.

If there is no urgent task to be found, maybe this is just a good excuse to sit and do nothing. Meditate, stretch, or take a nap. We live in a culture where being idle is automatically considered lazy, but don’t let that stop you from quieting down and entering the void for a bit. Sometimes, your subconscious mind needs permission to unfurl itself rather than being blocked up by constant information and digital stimulation.

Step 4: Plan Your Return

So now that you’ve returned from your informational pilgrimage (maybe even a literal one) you’ll probably have to link back into the matrix. With your new found sense of digital detoxification, it’s important not to fall back to old compulsive habits. Try to remember the essential things about why your phone screen is NOT the world itself and that you are in control of your notifications, rather than it being the other way around. It’s likely that you’ll need to be connected with your phone one way or another, but avoid letting it define your connection to things. Coming back to a digital life after a detox is important to put everything in perspective after the fact.

Step 5: Set Your Boundaries

Since it’s unlikely you’ll have the ability to complete avoid digital technologies (as a professional or someone reliant on new information), it’s important to develop a sense of boundaries between you and your devices. People become addicted to the digital realm because the human need for connection is hardwired into us — and it’s much easier to achieve some sense of this with a 24-hour buffet of “interactions.” A digital detox can really help to identify how much influence you’re giving devices over your life, providing the chance to decide when it’s the right time to use a smartphone, tablet, or computer. My suggestion is this: During the most human of activities, eating, sleeping, socializing, exercising, etc. — set down the phone and focus on the moment at hand!

A digital detox can really help to identify how much influence you’re giving devices over your life, providing the chance to decide when it’s the right time to use a smartphone, tablet, or computer. My suggestion is this: During the most human of activities, eating, sleeping, socializing, exercising, etc. — set down the phone and focus on the moment at hand!

It may not be effortless, but continually reinforcing this will eventually make being “off-the-grid” feel like you’re on the right track.

Writer’s Block | 5 Ways to Coax Creativity!

So there you sit — staring at a glowing screen, a blank word document stealing the oxygen out of the room. You have just a thousand more words before the end of the day and it’s already an hour to closing time. Maybe the week got away from you or the ideas just haven’t leapt to the page as usual. Whatever the case, writer’s block is something that can be as enigmatic as it is obvious to cure!

Smashing Your Writer’s Block

Whether you’re in marketing, journalism, or you just write for fun, we all have those moments (or maybe many excruciating series of moments) when capturing the right words and ideas is as easy as holding smoke in your hands. It doesn’t help when there are a series of other assignments ready to present a similar struggle — writer’s block is never fun…Or maybe it is?

writer's block

“Creativity is a soft, winged cicada.”

Over time, you’ll have hopefully divined a way to break out of your itchy uninspiring exoskeleton and expose your fleshy creativity to the rush of writing — if that’s a viable metaphor. Nonetheless, that leads me to my first technique for eliminating writer’s block:

1. Indulge in Nonsense

Sure, you’re not going to want this to transfer into the ultimate execution of your work, but sometimes it helps to simply write the first thing that comes to mind. It may not (and will likely not) be related to the serious topic you’ve been tasked to cover, although it may unfurl your subconscious mind enough to expose your real ideas.

writer's block

Words are hard, but nonsense is simple!

Whether it’s just a matter of clearing away unwanted mental baggage or generating a false sense of accomplishment, writing nonsense is something that can be a quick solution to shifting your thoughts into the right gear. While I can see this working for the more nebulously minded of us, maybe you’re the type of person who just goes deeper into the self-doubt writer’s block produces.

2. Get Up and Move

Sometimes it just takes a bit of physical movement to redistribute the blood and really get those mental facilities up and running. If you have the ability, go for a brief walk, run, or do some light cardiovascular exercise to convince your body that things are different now and the masterpiece can ensue.

writer's block

Believe me, staring forcefully into your computer monitor until words appear is rarely the best way to produce something you’ll be happy with. You may want to just get a little sunlight and breathe deeply into the void of existence before sitting down to write your problematic piece of work. Hopefully, that’s enough to let you reach the fruit of your creativity-orchard, but if not you may need a more directed approach.

3. Find an Uncanny Influence

If you’re inspired by music, find something you’ve never heard before. Into the visual arts? Go glimpse interesting imagery just until the point where your mind’s eye is ready to see those words hitting the page! The point is this — find something to help you break out of your regular thought-patterns and stir up new ideas. Writer’s block may feel like you’re turning to stone at the bottom of the ocean, but if it never left anyone then humanity would have exhausted just about every great thought available. So far so good!

writer's block

Waste time with the Magic iPod at your own risk…

While it’s important not to waste time being a whimsical dandy just floating about, finding things you wouldn’t normally draw inspiration from can inform what you’d like to create, in addition to what you’ll want to avoid. The answers are out there, regardless of how elusive they are at this very moment. More or less, just take to mediums which aren’t your usual cup of tea and swallow them whole or smash the mug entirely — whichever is a more applicable metaphor.

4. What Would You Want to Read?

So up until this point, my advice has probably been pretty subjective — perhaps you’re looking for that actionable, completely obvious way to destroy your writer’s block the “just say it already” takeaway point. And really that’s just it! Write exactly what it is you’d like to read yourself. People can take entirely boring subjects, and through some alchemical wizardry, produce a relatively engaging piece because they’re genuinely interested in the content.

writer's block

You are your most critical audience member, and simultaneously the performer!

This can also translate to the fact that sometimes you’ll need a jump start on figuring out the exact content you’ll be writing. For this, I’d essentially recommend finding similar pieces and writing your own take on the matter, taking care not to lift anything directly. Plagiarism is still alive and well in our digital age! Think about who your ideal reader is and write for them — the worst case scenario is that you write too narrowly, but that’s fine if it gets the job done!

5. Time is Your Friend!

Sometimes you can use your deadlines to leverage your creative mind! I know what you’re thinking “that’s what has gotten us here in the first place,” but maybe setting small incremental goals is just what you need to break down a larger task at hand. Give yourself an hour to get the topic or focus of your piece, another to develop the outline, and before you know it you’re adding that final punctuation mark and punching out for the day! (Side note: Time is an illusion of consciousness designed to present order in a relatively chaotic universe.)

writer's block

The most difficult part for many with writer’s block is taking that first step into the unknown — that swirling semantic tornado of uncertainty devouring the trailer parks and open prairies of your mind until inspiration is pulled from the rubble! Hopefully, this blog has been your mental vacation needed to erupt with that next great piece of content! If not, you’re on your own — but I’m glad I temporarily convinced you otherwise!

5 Marketing Lessons From the Obama Candidacy

This past Tuesday, Barack Obama delivered his last major speech of the Obama Candidacy. After 8 years of leading the nation, and despite your personal opinion of him, Obama has certainly backed up his mantra of “change.” Whether it’s the Affordable Care Act, the automotive industry bailout, or implementing same-sex marriage across the nation, the soon-to-be-former president has ushered in a variety of change. With that being said, he’s also marketed himself and the Obama candidacy unlike any president before. It’s time to take a look at what we, as marketers, we can learn from his time in office.

5 Lessons From the Obama Candidacy

Be an Unconventional Marketer

It would have been very easy for president Obama to stick to traditional media appearances. Yes, he made the State of the Union Addresses and was quick to acknowledge the variety of tragedies that plagued his 8 years in office, but it was his willingness to go with the flow and make media appearances on other outlets that truly makes him stand out.

Take the show Between Two Ferns for example. A satirical show hosted by Zach Galifianakis that often pokes fun at their guests would seem to be the last place the president would want to make an appearance. However, through this appearance, Obama was able to show a more personable side of himself, and one that was willing to poke fun at himself and others.

As a marketer, it’s important to be flexible and to be willing to take an unconventional approach to marketing. While it’s important to cover traditional media outlets, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere to attract an audience. Our industry is constantly changing, so it’s always important to keep your eye on the future to make sure your brand is doing everything it can to keep up with the changing environment. However, make sure you implement your marketing plan correctly. Some older brands that have tried to get hip with the times have failed miserably.

obama candidacy

Obama’s appearance on the show garnered millions of views

Look Toward Others For Support

The Obama candidacy didn’t just create itself; it took a variety of volunteers, sponsors, and spokespeople to market the campaign and to get the Obama train on the right track. With the help of many others, Obama created a brand that was marketed well through a variety of outlets. Marketed as a family-oriented president struck home with many while on the campaign trail and in office.

As a marketer, don’t be afraid to lean on others during your campaign. A good marketing campaign takes a variety of ideas, opinions, and jobs so be sure to surround yourself with a team that’s willing to work together to create the best possible campaign.

Use Social Media Correctly

This might be one of the biggest factors when it came to the Obama candidacy. With the rise of Twitter, Facebook, and other various forms of social media, these outlets can quickly become the demise of your campaign. Luckily, Obama was able to have his social media presence be created by a trustworthy organization called Organizing for Action. The non-profit ran the majority of his social media account and was able to paint a positive picture of the president through his tweets and posts.

We’ve already seen how our incoming president Trump uses social media, which is much different than Obama.

Make sure that your social media presence remains stellar during your own campaign. Make sure to not just acknowledge the good responses, but the bad as well. Use this as a way to not only market yourself but also show some personality behind it. Obama would often tweet photos of his family and even post about what he’s been watching on TV.

obama candidacy with Biden

Finger guns may or may not increase your marketing prowess

Make Sure Your Website Works

It seems simple enough, right? Well, unfortunately even the Obama candidacy has web issues from time to time. After Obamacare went into effect, millions of citizens flooded the site, hoping to get on an affordable healthcare plan. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of users would ultimately crash the site, leaving many customers at a standstill.

Make sure to test any websites and platforms that you’ll be using before the launch. Although none of us can predict future crashes after launch, it’s still important to go over any possible issues that could arise. Also, make sure your landing page looks good and that the site is easy to navigate.

Know How to Handle Crisis Management

As president, Obama had to deal with a crisis on an almost weekly basis. From terrorist attacks to weather emergencies, it was important that he remained composed and coordinated with the rest of his team. Any of sign of fear or confusion would be seen as a weakness, so crisis management was key.

Make sure that your company and marketing team have a plan implemented in case of a crisis. Whether it’s a leaked inappropriate picture or a shocking resignation, make sure that you and your staff remain on the same page and know how to handle the situation. Disorganization can look bad on the company and can make your audience wary of trusting you

The Office Holiday Party: How to Survive and Thrive

If you’re anything like me, you’ve read the title of this post and thought, “It is really necessary to tell adults how to act at their office holiday party?” But if you’re also like me, you’ve heard the holiday party horror stories and/or have witnessed them first hand.

So, here I am writing this cliché office holiday post, and here you are reading it. Let’s just get through this so that you can share it with your coworkers. Or you can keep these tips to yourself and silently judge your coworkers while you wonder if they will still have a job the next day. The choice is yours.

Surviving the Office Holiday Party

I know that it is office party season, but that doesn’t mean that you should plan to dust off your college liver and rage. Most people find themselves the fool (or even fired) because they forget that the office party is still a business event. Beyond not getting too drunk, here are some other things you should look to avoid if you want to enjoy your office holiday party:

Don’t Imbibe in Excess

Believe me, you’re not the only one that gets excited when you hear about an open bar. That doesn’t mean you need to drink everything you can. The point of your holiday party is to have a good time with your colleagues, not get drunk. Don’t be the person that says crazy things you’ll regret the next day (or that will make your boss rethink your status as an employee).

Don’t Dress Inappropriately

The office party is not the time to break out your little black dress you wore with a sash and a tiara on your last birthday. It’s also not the time to break out the Nike slides and sweatpants that you’re going to lounge in this weekend. You’re not going to the Met Gala, but it is a business event and you should dress accordingly.

Also, be mindful when giving compliments to your coworkers. Avoid saying anything that may make a coworker feel uncomfortable. Don’t say any comments that may suggest anything sexual. And please, I am begging you; don’t use the holiday party to confess your feelings to your office crush. It’s not the time or place, especially if they don’t feel the same. That could make things awkward for everyone.

Don’t Gossip

The office holiday party is not the time to engage in gossip. It’s not the time to talk about office pain points, complain, or vent. If you’re not getting along with a particular coworker, the party is not the time to talk about it. Don’t announce that you’re quitting or that you hate your supervisor. The office holiday party is not the time nor the place for this sort of talk. What you thought was just chatting with your office buddies could very quickly turn into some serious consequences in the near future.

Refrain from talking about sensitive subjects like bonuses or the president-elect. Perhaps not everyone in the company got bonuses. And believe me, no one wants to get into a heated debate about politics or religion.

Don’t Drink and Drive

If you and your coworkers have been drinking, the last thing you want to do is drive home inebriated. You should also be careful asking a coworker to give them a ride home. You don’t want to seem overbearing or like you are being the “mom” of the office. Instead, try encouraging your coworkers to split an Uber or Lyft ride with you.

Thriving at the Office Holiday Party

With so many things you shouldn’t do at the holiday party, how are you supposed to have a good time? Don’t you worry, because there are plenty of things that you also should do at the office holiday party to ensure you survive the event. Let’s check ‘em out:

Attend the Holiday Party

Depending on the culture of your workplace, passing on an invitation to the office holiday party could hurt your reputation. You don’t need to be there all night, but at least make an appearance. Stay for like half and hour and then be on your way if you really don’t want to be there.

And if you attend, actually engage with your coworkers. You didn’t get all dressed up and come to the holiday party for some hors d’oeuvres, so don’t stand by the food all night! Talk to some people outside of your department that you typically don’t get to spend time with. Enjoy yourself.

Know the “Rules” of the Party

Don’t assume that you can invite whomever you want to the office holiday party. Make sure it is okay to bring a spouse, significant other, or friend. If you’re not sure if you get a plus one or not, ask. If you get to bring a guest, don’t bring someone that is going to act inappropriately and reflect poorly on you.

Keep Your Right Hand Free

You’re probably going to be shaking hands for at least some of the evening. Keep your drink in your left hand so you don’t have to give someone a cold, wet handshake. This means your cellphone should be in your pocket (except for when you’re taking selfies, of course). Since your right hand is free to give out the best handshakes all night, do some networking.

Find something in common with that executive or supervisor that you never talk to. It’s always a good idea to build or strengthen your business relationships, and you never know when that top-level manager might consider you for that promotion.

Snack Before the Party

Now if you’re like me, you don’t need to be told to have a snack before going somewhere! However, if you’re having a cocktail hour before any snacks or dinner is served, you’ll want something in your stomach. Plus, if dinner is late, you won’t be too hungry.

When dinner is served, make sure to socialize with everyone. The holiday season is a time to eat, drink, and be merry. Thank whoever planned and arranged your office holiday party, enjoy yourself, and follow these tips so you still have a job when you make it back into the office.

 

Cheers!