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Employees Are Also Brand Ambassadors, Not Just the Executives

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Pinstripe has seen, all too often, the mistakes people make when posting on social media. Everyone makes mistakes. We get it. Some mistakes are minor, like the usual typos and a forgotten word or two, while others take on a whole other dimension that can cause a firestorm of negative feedback. Then, even worse, it goes viral.

For the most part, these mistakes are somewhat ridiculous. However in some circumstances, they can have negative consequences for nearly everyone connected. Unfortunately, the individual’s employer could be attached to their profile, and in turn cause customer backlash.

Employee handbooks have whole sections devoted to these issues. Plus, more companies are adopting them. So, why don’t companies turn something that’s perceived as negative into a positive? Encouraging employees to post the great things about the company can have a huge advantage in the social media race.

In the Past…

Bad things said about a company or it’s employees were talked about among family and friends and were rarely found in the papers, which only had a regional effect. However, because of technology, the word-of-mouth systems of old have taken on a whole new meaning. So has the phrase “spreads like wildfire.” Anything posted on social media has the potential to do this. There are so many social media outlets today that monitoring them in order to defend a company’s reputation has turned into a growing industry.

Education and Training

The trick isn’t monitoring, it’s educating. This goes beyond company policies on proper etiquette. Think about creating a brand ambassador program to educate and train employees on how to accentuate the company’s marketing efforts. Instead of having a neutral social media policy with do’s and do not’s, you are creating a positive force of brand ambassadors.

Below are some very basic steps to setting up your employees as brand ambassadors. The possibility of a substantial return on this investment could exceed your expectations.

Communicate the Plan

Informing employees about expectations and repercussions will let them know exactly what the company’s vision is and how social media can highlight the company in positive ways. GE’s brand ambassador plan is a great example of how a company can increase customer engagement through employee engagement.

Provide Guidelines

Your employee handbook should already have social media policies against inappropriate posts. So, they need to know what they should post. Examples are an easy way to answer questions about content before they’re asked.

Permission and Content

You’ll need to reassure them that there are no repercussions for posting positive info and pictures. A little trust will go a long way. To help them along, you can have hashtags available and URLs for quick access on a company page.

Maintaining a Positive Reputation

When employees post good things about their workplace and services, people will take notice. This is especially true when bad things happen and the company goes into crisis management mode. If an overwhelming amount of positive information is out there, then that leaves very little for negativity to thrive on. A positive reputation is easier to uphold in the social arena, and employees as brand ambassadors are a great way to achieve and maintain it.

Pinstripe Bookshelf: Creative Quest

I have never considered myself a creative person – at least in the traditional sense. I’m not a writer, designer, photographer, painter, songwriter or chef. In my career, I rely on my creative problem-solving abilities, and the “I know it when I see it” side of creativity when directing marketing projects, but I’ve always admired truly creative people. Those who create.

In my efforts to cultivate creativity, I often listen to podcasts and pick up the latest books on the subject like The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Cutmull.

I’ve found my new favorite. Questlove’s Creative Quest.

I have been a fan of Questlove for a long time. Most people know him as the leader and drummer of the hip hop band, The Roots. In addition to their role on The Tonight Show, he has written several books including a memoir, has the most encyclopedic knowledge of music, has designed products, teaches, and is apparently quite the foodie. He’s one of the people I’d invite to my celebrity dinner party.

Creative Quest is an insightful journey through the creative process and the work of being a creator. Through personal stories and those of his famous creative friends, Quest covers finding inspiration, overcoming blocks, and honing the tools to not only be more creative, but to create better work. He thoughtfully explains the value of finding great mentors and building a creative network, and perhaps most importantly for artists, how to deal with criticism which can be “destructive to the creative ego.”

The first step in creating is re-creating – making a version of something that already exists. The first time I saw The Roots play a popular song with classroom instruments on The Tonight Show (I think it was Call Me Maybe back in 2013), I thought “how fun! how creative!” and with the millions of views these videos get on YouTube, I’m sure they’ve introduced new music to a lot of new listeners by making the songs fun and approachable. My favorite is the Sesame Street theme song.

One of the book’s insights that really hit me is the notion that we don’t know how to be bored anymore. We have access to entertainment in the palm of our hands 24/7. We’ve lost the ability to be quiet with ourselves and embrace boredom, which “represents pure, undiluted time in all of its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor.” Wow. What a concept.

I was also struck by a study he references that indicated that the more rested and alert a person was, the LESS creative they were at their task. When the mind is sharp, it is less likely to be creative. Huh. And all this time I’ve been defending my eight hours a night!

I am so glad I decided to get the audio version of this book as Questlove provides thoroughly entertaining narration that had me laughing out loud in my car. I can’t remember the last audio book that I ‘highlighted’ the pages of (pausing and making notes on my phone so I could go back to those sections). One of my favorite lines was when he told a story about D’Angleo and his songwriting, saying, “If you x-rayed his creativity you would find those songs in there glowing from his bones.” What a visual!

Everyone who will listen to me has heard my recommendation of this book. If you are traditionally creative or, like me, wish you could sharpen that skill, I encourage you to download the audio and treat yourself to some tools and inspiration. With a few chuckles on the side.

After you’ve listened, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy!
Ginger

 

Corporate Photography Style – Sorting Through the Many Options

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Choosing a style for your company’s headshots is more than just planning a photo shoot. These photos should represent your brand as much as your logo, your website, and your marketing collateral do. The style of the photos should be consistent with the style and personality of your website and the rest of your design pieces. If you’re not sure what type of photography you need for your brand, consult with your marketing agency.

Indoor / Studio

This type of photography is polished, clean, and uber professional. Many law firms, construction companies and engineering firms will choose this style of photography. It works especially well with the simple yet classic website design of these type of firms.

Outside

Outdoor, on location shoots bring an element of nature or urban environment into your portraiture. These are often shot with natural light so they have a more natural, free feel. Restaurants, real estate agencies, and young startups may choose this style of photography to go with their company culture and branding. The options with outdoor shoots are endless – if you live in a city like St. Petersburg or Tampa, you have a variety of public parks and green spaces to choose from, in addition to the many beautiful murals, skyscrapers, and waterfront views! There are many options – consult with your agency to determine what will look best on your site and other marketing materials.

environmental portraits

Black & White

Black & white portraits are not as commonplace as studio portraiture or outdoor headshots, but we’ve seen some really cool websites that showcase a black & white portrait as the main headshot, and when you scroll over the photo, a funky, fun color portrait appears. This is a great way to show off the creative personality of your company and the individuals that make up your team.

Fun

Like the example above, “fun” photos can be anything from teams collaborating, portraits of each team member working on their hobby, or even colorful studio photos of each team member with a different facial expression. These would obviously not be appropriate for a law firm or doctor’s office, but many creative companies use this style of photography to showcase their creativity and unique personality.

fun photo shoot

Environmental

Environmental portraiture is similar to editorial photography. The person in the photo is a small part of a larger image that tells a story. Environmental portraiture could showcase a construction project manager on a job site – the construction manager is the focal point of the photo, but the job site and activities on the site would be in clear view rather than fading into the background. Another type of environmental photo could showcase a painter sitting in her studio surrounded by finished and current paintings, brushes, paints and her palette. The viewer’s eye moves around this photo and is delighted by all the details and this “backstage” view of the painter or construction project manager at work. Environmental portraits are beautiful and dynamic, and should create a sense of atmosphere and place. These are photos that really showcase the personality of the person and the story of their activity.

environmental portraits

When it comes to photography for your brand and marketing collateral, there are a lot of decisions to make. If you need help planning your brand’s photo shoot, send us an email and we can help you plan and execute the perfect shoot.

Preparing for Vacation: A Checklist for When You’re Away

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This is our favorite time of year. You can feel it in the air every morning when you walk outside. Pretty soon, school bus traffic will slow to a trickle after the kids are let out for summer vacation. Summertime is upon us. It’s time for a much needed vacation. Maybe a trip to the mountains this year or a cruise. You’re ready for one.

Planning for Your Absence

It’s been months since an official day off and nearly half a year since the holidays. You’ve made your reservations, coordinated pet care, shopped for the essentials. Now, it’s time to plan for your absence at work.

One of the best ways to have a great vacation is to feel reassured that everything back at the office has been taken care of, because you don’t want to be thinking about work while on vacation. You need some well-deserved rest and relaxation. That’s why we have compiled a checklist for you to follow, just to help you stay organized and ready for adventure.

Vacation Checklist

☐ Prioritize your workload. This may seem like a no brainer, but low priority projects have a way of creeping in and taking too much of your time. Plus, make sure to write it all down.

☐ Take a look ahead. Planning your return is as important as stepping away. Adjust your calendar and be strategic with your scheduling.

☐ Schedule a buffer. Try to leave a couple hours open before you leave and keep a couple open when you return.

☐ Let your colleagues know. If you give everyone notice far enough in advance, then they can adjust their calendar, too. This is even more helpful when working on teams or in committees.

☐ Contact high-priority clients a week before you leave. Reach out and let them know where you’ll be and who they can get in touch with if they need anything.

☐ Prepare a return agenda. Your head will be fuzzy, but in a good way. You’ll have vacation on your brain. We’ve all been there. Plan ahead and be ready or else you’ll get overwhelmed.

☐ Let everyone know your availability. Work continues even while you’re on vacation. Taking a work-related call can be a necessary, minor disruption. Make sure your colleagues have a number to reach you and let them know days and times when you’ll be available. Also, let them know when you’ll be disconnected.

☐ Set up your Backup. Who’s covering for you while you’re gone? Make sure they are aware of your projects, how to handle emergencies, and when they should contact you.

☐ A list of tips. Providing your backup with a list of tips can save them time and reduce frustration.

☐ Put in a little extra time. Adding an hour or two a day can tie up loose ends and save you a lot of headaches after your return.

☐ Clean up. A cluttered desk will make it harder for your backup to help you. Organize your files and tidy up around your office. Don’t forget to water the plants.

☐ Archive and back up files. Make sure all of your files and emails are backed up and available.

☐ Out of office. Set up your out of office messages. Customize your auto-reply and voicemail to reflect the dates you’ll be away and your backup’s name and contact information.

☐ Brain dump. You may want to quickly type out a list of notes before you leave. This will help you get back into the swing of things when you return.

☐ Say good-bye to everyone!

Planning to Have Fun

It’s always important to work with your colleagues prior to leaving the office. You may need to delegate tasks while you’re away. Also, having an emergency plan in place is needed most when you’re out of the country, sippin’ cocktails on that cruise of a lifetime, where there’s no internet or phone service. We hope you have a great vacation!

Passion – The Road to Success

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We expect to see passion in entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers – these people are following their dreams to own their own business doing what they love most. Passion is what drives them morning, noon, and night to work hard, talk about their business often, and go out of their way to make their business successful. But what if we saw passion in employees of larger companies and even enterprise corporations?

The Brand Ambassador

We recently scheduled a series of photo shoots to begin building a media library for one of our larger clients – a Fortune 500 behemoth with locations in Tampa, throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. At each location there has been one thing that we’ve noticed – every person we’ve encountered has been incredibly helpful, knowledgeable about their company, and passionate. They not only helped us by guiding us through their processes, explaining many of the inner workings of their organization so we gain a better understanding of what images and video we need to create and informing us of shots we may have never realized we needed, but they did it with a visible pride. Their hospitality has been incredible – we expected to be greeted and then left to our own devices, but what we received from each person who assisted us was a personal tour guide and brand ambassador. We are impressed.

Passion – A Part of Company Culture

What we began to notice is that each person in this company exceeded our expectations – in essence, they were acting like business owners rather than employees by demonstrating the same passion an entrepreneur would. This is something that we have always believed in theory, but never has it been so thoroughly supported by direct empirical evidence. What it boils down to is employee empowerment. Empowering your employees instills in them the same passion for the business as the business owner, and it is a direct result of the culture that you create within your organization.

How to Instill Passion in Company Culture

There are many ways to create a culture of passion and ownership. Here are just a few:

  • Transparency. Give people visibility into the decision-making process
  • Collaboration. Provide spaces that facilitate collaboration and make sure managers are collaborative with their employees
  • Autonomy. Autonomy is an important part of ownership – make sure people have autonomy in as many aspects of their work and even their schedule as possible
  • Community. Establish a tight-knit community within your organization, bringing people together to get to know each other, make them feel at home, make sure that executives mingle often with the rest of the organization’s employees, make sure people have fun in addition to working hard
  • Training and education. Offer thorough education about the industry, organization, its history, clients, etc, and commit to updating that education frequently. Offer courses so employees have opportunities to learn more about their jobs and build upon their job skills and offer resources for further education
  • Hiring. If you keep in mind company culture during the hiring process, you will ensure to bring on employees that share a passion for your business, will thrive in your company, and take advantage of the education and training that you offer
  • Loyalty. Be loyal to your employees – they will reward you with the same

These are just a few ways to introduce people and programs that will create a culture of passion. They are easily applicable to smaller organizations, but employing them on a larger scale may prove more difficult. We know it is possible and have seen it in action, but it requires company-wide participation. It won’t be successful if everyone is not on board.

Here are a few articles that offer advice on creating a positive culture within your organization:

3 Ways I Created a Culture of Passion

8 Rules Creating Passionate Work Culture

Building a Culture of Passion and Excellence

What methods do you employ to build a company culture of ownership and passion?