Defining Workplace Diversity

Since the workplace began, diversity has been a controversial subject. On opposite ends of the conversation are those who strongly believe affirmative action is an answer and others who are fearful their jobs are being stolen.

What is diversity? The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as:

“The condition of having or being composed of differing elements:VARIETYEspeciallythe inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.”

It’s important to understand by this definition, diversity is more than just the color of a person’s skin. Diversity can include gender, sexual orientation, beliefs and much more.

“The concept of diversity means acceptance and respect for all individuals,” Abbie Fink, of HMA Public Relations, said in her blog titled Become A Diversity Advisor for Your Organization.

In her post, Fink recognizes the importance of including diverse audiences in imagery messages — particularly people with physical and mental abilities. “Diverse groups wield great influence and spending power,” Fink said.

However, this discussion desperately needs to continue. The bottom line is that the representation of diverse people in messages alone is simply not enough. The inclusion of people from diverse groups needs to extend into the messaging process.

Peggy Olson from Mad Men says, "I don't think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box."

Source: Mic/AMC

How do you define diversity?

Posted in Cicer Communications | Comments Off on Defining Workplace Diversity

Causes Can Trigger Major Effects

In recent years, it has become increasingly important to consumers that the businesses they support take a stance on behalf of a cause. A business stance can be set around any value from using locally sourced ingredients to supporting inclusion with the LGBTQ+ community. Consumers want their brands to be socially responsible and their money to make a difference.

According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, members of the general online public are more likely to trust businesses than their government. This may be because consumers believe that businesses are more likely to listen to their preferences than federal and state representatives.

“While companies risk alienating consumers when taking stands, they don’t necessarily do so at the expense of business,” Diana Marszalek, a reporter for the Holmes Report, wrote in Provoke18: ‘You Can Make a Difference And Still Make a Profit.’ In this article, Marszalek sums up the findings of four c-suite leaders from a panel at the #Provoke18 Global PR Summit. In short, the panel emphasized that stakeholder trust was the “the ultimate payoff” and company actions are usually driven by core values.

Still, it’s easy to assume that stances are driven not by a business’ core values but rather personal values. So where does the line exist and how do companies decide whether a stance is relevant to their business?

Answering these questions might help:

  1. What are my businesses’ core values?
  2. Does this stance align with the core values?
  3. Where do the shareholders stand?
  4. Is my business in a position to truly make a difference?
  5. Does my business have the time, money and support necessary to contribute to this cause?

Do you think these are the right questions businesses should ask?

Posted in Cicer Communications | Comments Off on Causes Can Trigger Major Effects

Why Video is Vital

In today’s world everything is online and everyone feels the need to record every funny moment of every day. What does this mean for brands? Think video, all the time.

From a Forbes article, Five Reasons Why Video Will Be Crucial For PR In 2018, online video content is how people are consuming their news.

“Digital content leaders like NowThis have built entire publications on the foundation of Facebook video storytelling. Even newer players like Cheddar have scaled rapidly using edited consumer product videos as the core of their organic growth strategies. The best media players right now understand how to take video and turn it into short, engaging news vignettes.”

We have all heard that print news is dying, fading away. Is video the new print?

From another article published almost two years ago, this article discusses the same rise of video and decline of print news. This has been an on-going rise of technology and 2018 isn’t holding back with new technology releases and creations. This gives marketers and brands more platforms to inform the public.

According to, Top 10 Reasons You Need Video in Your Content Marketing Plan, “65% of viewers watch more than ¾ of a video, which is more than we can say about text-based content. So if you have a message to get across (and why wouldn’t you if you’re creating content?), video might be the way to go.” 

Do you think video is successful in reaching consumers? Photos and info graphics? Check out this video to learn how videos can be used on multiple platforms!

Video Marketing In 2018, Maximize Video Reach On Social Media

Posted in Somiar Solutions | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Why Video is Vital

Paying for Placement: Social Media Ad Buys

Have you ever scrolled through your feed and stumbled upon an account you didn’t recognize? Then upon closer examination, you find the word “Sponsored.” This is a strategically placed advertisement. You have been targeted.

Now the effectiveness of this marketing campaign isn’t black and white. It depends on dozens of factors. Do you click on the post? Do you follow the account? Do you click on the link in the bio? Do you scroll through the website? Do you purchase anything?

Are ads always a good tool to reach a wider audience? Unfortunately, the answer to that lives in a gray zone.

While owned and shared content mixed with smart use of hashtags and geotags can generate interest and engage new audiences, paid ads are an easy way to reach more people within your target market.

However, it’s easier said than done. Every paid advertisement is strategically placed on an individual’s feeds who have shown interest in similar products already. This means the person will be more likely to engage with the content. On top of this, the ad needs to be visually engaging, straight-to-the-point and clear.

Let’s take a look at some smart paid advertisements.

It is difficult to ignore Airbnb’s sponsored posts. It’s not a coincidence that this post shows up on your feed the day after you were searching through Airbnb’s places in Mexico. This is the brand’s nice little way of reminding you to book a home. These ads are effective because they are visually appealing, simple and engaging. Plus, the price of the home is right there on the post. You can’t resist.

This New York Times ad is a great example of a good paid ad because it’s also simple, yet the font and classic colors make it visually appealing enough without being overwhelming. This ad also fits the overall brand of the NYT well because the newspaper itself isn’t flashy, so neither is this post. If the advertisement shows up on your feed, chances are you have either looked at articles online, follow other news organizations on social media or have liked pictures from stories. This means you’re more likely to click on this sponsored post.

You may not think about them much when you’re scrolling through your feed and find a sponsored post. However, lots of thought, time, planning, research and implementation have gone into the whole process of getting that one sponsored ad onto your feed. It may seem like mountains of work for one picture, but when done right– you might just click on it.

Notice sponsored messages when you scroll?

Posted in Spark Solutions | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Paying for Placement: Social Media Ad Buys

Does Taking A Political Stance Pay Off?

This fall, Nike introduced a campaign with Colin Kaepernick as its corporate face. Some may recognize Kaepernick as the professional football player who decided to take a knee on the field during the national anthem. Major controversy was and still is raised over professional athletes refusing to stand for the anthem as some see it as disrespecting the United States and their troops. Those who kneel believe this action protests police brutality and its injustice.

Colin Kaepernick

After the launch of this campaign, social media was filled with users burning their Nike apparel, showing they do not agree with Nike’s political stance and decision to publicly support Kaepernick and the movement.

Nike Cleats Burning

In this video, People Are BURNING Their Nike Products To Protest Colin Kaepernick Ad, the reporter discusses some background knowledge on the situation along with footage of civilians burning their apparel.

My question then is, was it worth it? Did Nike profit? Is it smart?

Nike says the Colin Kaepernick ‘Just Do It’ campaign is driving traffic and engagement. Nike’s stock price is up by one percent despite recent actions of the company. Of course, immediately after the release of this campaign stock prices plummeted but has greatly improved since then with more companies stepping out of the dark to show support.

“While improvement in the footwear business continues to be the focus for many investors (+10% in 1Q19), Nike’s apparel business is quietly posting impressive results,” wrote Susquehanna Financial Group in a note. Analysts there rate Nike shares positive with a $100 price target.'”

What do you think? Should companies continue to get more involved with politics?

Posted in Cicer Communications | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Does Taking A Political Stance Pay Off?

Personal PR: Relationship Science

It’s in the name – public relations specialists must be able to build relationships with the public.

As anyone old enough to read this has probably figured out, everyone is unique. Some people are are kinder than others, some are more cynical, some are more imaginative, the list goes on. But, as Psychology Today points out, there is a science behind building and keeping solid relationships. The basics sing a refrain attuned to that of PR experts. Building strong, lasting relationships require building trust, practicing patience, showing respect, and communication, communication, communication!

Image result for how to win friends and influence people 2018

Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People is famous for translating this concept into a self-help handbook. It’a all about building leadership skills, persuasion, and, at it’s very core, building relationships. At the basis of all this is just being a likable person. Here’s how Carnegie’s “six tips for making people like you” can be applied in the age of open workspaces, digital friendships and e-blasts, 84 years later:

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

two women holding phones

This means putting your phone away, making eye contact, and engaging without interrupting. We know this, but it’s worth repeating.  Keep your phone next to your plate table during a lunch meeting, refrain from texting under the conference table when someone is presenting, and stop scrolling through at your computer when your coworker is sharing an idea. All are small acts that make an enormous difference.

Digitally, your affirmative head nod to acknowledge someone’s ideas has become the “like” button on social media posts and the “sounds good, thanks” or “great, I’m on it” email response.

2. Smile.

smiling man and woman hand shaking inside room

In person, this is pretty self-explanatory, but just do it! Smile at the doorman, the woman presenting at the next meeting, your coworkers, your clients, and people on the street! You never know how that person may circle back in your life again and if you smile, maybe they will remember you as the person who brightened their day. And it’s free, so why not?

Digitally, smiling is done through the tone of your written words, through stepping away from the robotic overly-formal tones and injecting a little personality into your professionalism.

3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Image result for mindy kaling book cover

This one is simple and I’ll let Mindy Kaling sum it up:

“I don’t think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are ‘bad with names.’ No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.'”

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

woman sitting on yellow armless chair near gray laptop computer

In person, this one ties really well with tip number one, being genuinely interested in what others have to say. Anyone is worth 15 minutes of your time. Let them talk. Get to know them. Listening is the gateway drug to building trusting, lasting, healthy relationships.

Digitally, stay up-to-date with the big milestones people are accomplishing, the stories they publish, the trips they go on. Or at least brush up on what they’ve been up to before a meeting or before sending a pitch. This “listening” shows people their voice is valuable and people are paying attention.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

two people drawing on whiteboard

Take note of what people are into. Make your meetings at restaurants that appeal to their diets, are reminiscent of a recent trip they went on, or makes a great version of their favorite food. In conversation, relate to their interests when explaining a new concept to them. This helps them understand more clearly and lets them know you’re genuinely listening and caring.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

two men having conversation while walking

In person and digitally, all of the above are components of making someone feel valued. But asking someone for their opinion or assistance, giving them the floor and respecting their voice, that makes someone feel important.

Do you use these tips on a regular basis? Try them and see if they make a difference in your life.

Posted in Stratus Communications | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Personal PR: Relationship Science

Brand Humor: Highs, Lows of Sass and Sizzle

What makes you follow a brand on social media? Maybe it posts really aesthetically-pleasing photos. Maybe it features giveaways and contests. Maybe it engages you in a unique way — with a sense of humor.

While using social media for marketing purposes is highly beneficial to a company, it is also crucial to add a sense of personality to the brand. This makes the account look relatable and relaxed, which translates well on certain social channels. Brands like CharminWendy’s and Moonpie are just a few that have nailed the entertainment side of the social media realm.

When done right, adding a touch of humor can boost the amount of likes, shares and overall engagement.

Take notes from Charmin, the brand took advantage of the type of product it sells and spun it in a humorous direction when it came to creating content. In 2015, the toilet paper company started the hashtag #tweetfromtheseat. This created a funny way to engage with its followers and receive organic posts in return as people used the hashtag on their own personal accounts.

Moonpie adds a sense of humor with the perfect dash of snarky, witty comebacks that have dominated Twitter debates and overflowed the posts with likes and shares.

That simple tweet went viral and received over 200,000 likes within a few days. While Moonpie may not be as popular of a snack as in the past, its Twitter account has 258K followers and 10.9k likes thanks to the quality of the content. While not all of its posts are obvious marketing tactics, some posts include advertising elements with a sense of quirky humor that makes the content more shareable.

Another great account that has achieved success utilizing humor in its posts is Wendy’s. Wendy’s takes these kinds of posts to a new level. The restaurant really brings “the beef” and will burn other restaurants in its tweets and even its own followers. It’s a unique way to interact with audiences and even though insulting your followers doesn’t seem logical, it works surprisingly well for this brand.

Posts like this receive significant attention, including thousands of likes, shares and comments. There was a phase when Twitter users would actually ask Wendy’s to roast them with tweets like that one. It doesn’t seem like it should work but it does. This creates interaction between the user and the brand, while also generating interest and buzz in the company simultaneously.

Does this mean that incorporating humor into a post is always the best option? Definitely not. Witty comments can make a brand stand out in a crowd but not always in a good way.

Since it is best to learn from prior mistakes, learn from the major error IHOP made in a Twitter post. IHOP experienced success tweeting humorous and relatable content with sayings like “Pancakes on fleek” or “Pancakes, you look good, won’t you back that stack up.” These captions were made relevant to Twitter users by making references to pop culture and people loved it. However, IHOP eventually went too far with two tweets that stated “The butter face we all know and love” and “Flat but has a GREAT personality”. These posts instantly received backlash for being sexist and misogynistic.

IHOP  deleted the posts and issued an apology via Twitter.

When done right, a brand can really benefit from humor to create a unique online personality. This helps an organization to stand out and connect with the audience. However, when companies fail to recognize insensitive material, it can harm its reputation.

It is a fine line to tread and a dangerous one. Plus, just because a post is deleted doesn’t mean it’s forgotten.

Posted in Spark Solutions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Brand Humor: Highs, Lows of Sass and Sizzle

Free Must-Try Tools for Digital Content Creators

The digital age has quickly become a cutthroat competition, vying for the limited attention of a target audience. Marketers and media are no longer just competing with other outlets, but friends, family, and total strangers too.

Although Microsoft’s 2015 report on humans’ average attention spans quickly declining was cited in a flurry of news stories by the likes of Time Magazine and The New York Times, Global Source Research and the BBC have pressed to add an asterisk to these claims. It’s not about “average” attention spans – which is a concept that is difficult to define and means nothing – it’s about maintaining interest by choosing the best format and medium for your content.

Not to overstate the obvious, but differing audiences and differing subject matter should always be the first considerations when deciding how to push out content. If you want to share a story about the boldest looks shown at Paris fashion week to an audience just being introduced to the world of fashion, perhaps a podcast isn’t the best choice. Incorporating video and photos would make a much more effective package.

However, in this oversaturated world where ourselves and our target audiences experience a constant media barrage 24 hours a day, every day, it’s always advantageous to stay on the cutting edge of content creation.

With increasing audience engagement in mind, the Northwestern University Knight Lab brought its “community of designers, developers, students, and educators” together to experiment with design and “push journalism into new spaces.” They’ve created a suite of innovative storytelling tools that are incredibly easy to use, come with instructions, and best of all, are completely free!

Of the suite, here are three from the Knight Lab’s storytelling toolkit:

1. Soundcite

This tool allows writers to make digital text come to life with the help of audio. Using a simple copy-paste, a reader can be lifted before an audience of 10,000 adoring fans or in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest through the magic of Java Script.

Check it out in practice on WBEZ Chicago’s website with the help of some Chance the Rapper tunes.

2. Timeline

This tool that can help create easy-to-follow, interactive timelines with nothing more than an Excel or Google spreadsheet – or JSON skills if you’re a data wiz. This is great for building out a chronological narratives in a visual way.

Here is an example from Time breaking down important events in Nelson Mandela’s life.

3. StoryMap

This tool gives a whole new meaning to following a story. With StoryMap, web stories can highlight significant locations through a series of events pulling content from social media, Google Maps, Document Cloud, and more.

Here is an example from the Knight Lab following Arya from Game of Thrones’ journey.

These three tools and are great ways to enhance a website and make digital content articles more engaging, absolutely free of charge. Within the Knight Lab and beyond, new web tools, mobile apps, and plug-ins are constantly being developed and pushed out that can help create a deeper connection with target audiences. With such accessibility to this kind of enrichment, it’s important for content producers to never allow themselves to settle for what gets the job done.

If we want to capture and hold onto our target audience’s interest, it’s important we utilize the best platform to deliver our content. Sometimes, we just haven’t discovered the right tool yet.

What are your favorite creative tools for developing digestible content? Share your latest obsession or a tried and true favorite below.

Posted in Somiar Solutions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Free Must-Try Tools for Digital Content Creators

Pitfalls Push Musk Out at Tesla

In August, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted he wanted to take Tesla private and funding was secured. This single tweet resulted in a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), accusing him of securities fraud. The eventual settlement required him to step down as chairman of the board for three years and pay a $20 million fine. In addition, Tesla must add two independent directors to the board.

Musk’s punishment is a result of collapsed contexts on social media. Communication technology flattens multiple audiences into one and expands uncontrollable audiences. Users create an imaginary audience, the one they believe is reading their posts, but this does not reflect reality. Invisible audiences and the lack of spatial, social and temporal boundaries define networked publics audience dynamics on social networking sites.

Collapsed contexts present a challenge for many famous individuals on social media. Musk’s intended audience, of simply voicing his thoughts into a void, was imaginary. His invisible audience was the SEC and led to Tesla’s stock plummeting and the loss of his position. His audience was larger than people listening, it had hard, legal ramifications.

Not keeping collapsed contexts in mind while posting on social media can lead to the need for crisis management intervention. For two brands, Tesla and Musk, that need to produce corresponding messaging, it can be difficult to field defined messaging that fits both brands, as well as audiences.

The digital age and shift to communication on social media thrusted companies into communicating with their stakeholders and audiences on digital platforms. Consumers are on social media. Brands need to communicate with them in ways that makes sense. The shift to digital communication puts new pressure on brands for consistent messaging and branding.

As social media continues to cultivate culture, it is important for companies to understand how to effectively communicate key messages on social media. Previously, communications professionals used traditional forms of communication such as television, radio, newspapers, billboards and eventually websites. But with the rise of social media, marketers have found themselves in a new realm of communication techniques to reach their audiences.

Brand managers quickly adopted Twitter, especially as it is used more actively for business. Companies tweet along with the faces of the company, most successfully the CEOs, who have the highest social status and are considered the ultimate company spokespeople. On social media, CEOs have the opportunity to influence conversations, build their own public image, as well as their companies’. But they must do so carefully and keep these widespread, unknown audiences in mind.

How should Tesla move forward? Should it introduce another star to represent the company?

Posted in Somiar Solutions | Comments Off on Pitfalls Push Musk Out at Tesla

Spooky Season is Boo-tiful for Retailers

We all know during the holiday season, stores can get crazy busy and people can be a tad more irritable. With Halloween right around the corner, what does this mean for companies or retail stores? What does that mean for consumers?

Halloween Shoppers

According to 8 BIG Halloween Trends You Need to Know to Shape and Target Your Social Media Marketing This Halloween, “the average person planned to spend $86.13 on Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations. Not bad. To put this in perspective, the average family spends $5 per person celebrating Thanksgiving Day and about $75 celebrating the Fourth of July. So, as far as spending goes, Halloween is a mid-range retail holiday.”

Keeping this information in perspective, Halloween generates a pretty big holiday audience. So how do these retailers target their audience as years progress?

8 BIG Halloween Trends You Need to Know to Shape and Target Your Social Media Marketing This Halloween reports that people spend less money on candy and trick-or-treating decreases as the years progress. Instead, more people are spending money on costumes and home decor.

“Interestingly enough, even though more people are planning to spend money on decorations than on costumes, Halloween costume expenditures make up the largest share of Halloween spending, with $3.4 billion in revenue in 2017. That’s more than one-third of total Halloween spending! And costumes aren’t even the most popular category for Halloween spending.”

Companies that sell home decor or home goods could add simple touches to their marketing material, such as a picture with a mug that says “BOO” on it. Or perhaps a rug with deeper colors often related to Halloween. For example, look at the image below.

Here are some other examples of how retailers (Target and Pottery Barn) are using this information and changing a pace with their Halloween marketing tactics.

Another takeaway from this year’s Halloween trends is the need or want from consumers regarding gender-neutral costuming. It’s 2018 and whether you identify as male, female or transgender, the desire for gender-neutral costumes is rising.

“Of the $3.4 billion spent on Halloween costumes last year, $1.17 billion of that was specifically for children’s costumes. But for the past two years, the focus for both boys and girls has been on superhero costumes, relegating the former top costume choice of a princess to second place on the list of kids’ costumes. The trend toward gender neutral costumes pushes against the idea of traditionally girl or boy costumes. And it’s not really about girls wearing costumes intended for boys. It’s more about there being more female heroes from which to choose.”

Even if you do not sell costumes … promote gender neutral costumes and ideas! This means repining or retweeting from a costume designer or retailer may boost your following as a company or retailer as well.

Do you notice these trends? Is Halloween as widely celebrated as you thought?

For more trends and ideas on Halloween marketing you can visit,

Posted in Cicer Communications | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Spooky Season is Boo-tiful for Retailers