Now Hiring: Account Coordinator

Yearick-Millea is looking for a full-time account coordinator to assist the account team with a number of client and internal projects including research, social media management, web site updates, blog writing, media pitching and more.

The ideal candidate for this position will be organized, highly motivated, adaptable to change, have a keen attention to detail and will demonstrate a desire to learn more about the various aspects of account services in an agency setting beyond those listed above.

He or she will also possess the following preferred skills:

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Experience using social media in a professional setting – i.e. managing brand or company accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Experience with the WordPress platform; Web design and development skills a plus
  • Experience writing press releases, pitch emails and/or media alerts
  • Experience working with MS Office programs including Word and Excel
  • Ability to work within and keep deadlines
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Previous agency experience a plus

Interested? Submit your cover letter and resume via email to Stephanie Masood (smasood@yearick-millea.com) and Lauren Dreisbach (ldreisbach@yearick-millea.com) for consideration. No phone calls regarding this position please.

Social Media as Customer Service

Think about it – in the past year, if you’ve had a customer service issue, have you:

a. Called the company

b.  Emailed them

c. Tweeted at them or posted on their Facebook wall

Now, how you answer probably depends on the nature of the problem you had, but if you answered C, you’re probably in the majority of tech savvy people when handling small customer service problems.

While more and more companies are catching on to this trend, there are too many companies out there who aren’t addressing this shift in consumer behavior. Here’s how your company should be utilizing social media, especially Twitter, as a new line for customer service:

  • Monitor – To be able to actively address concerns about your business, the first step is seeing the conversation.  Your company is (hopefully!) already monitoring your mentions and direct messages, but are you monitoring other names for your company, keywords, hashtags, phrases, possible misspellings and shortened versions of your brand’s name that could be used to talk about you? The hours during which you need to be actively monitoringwill depend on what type of business you are, larger businesses, especially those prone to customer service issues, such as airlines, will need to dedicate far more resources to this than say, a small family-owned restaurant.
  • Engage – Don’t use canned responses when reaching out to people, be personal and empathetic. The onus is on you to initiate things, ask them for their contact information and reach out to them to fix the situation. Also, if personal information is required to address the issue, don’t forget to take the conversation out of the public view.

    via Twitter.com

    via Twitter.com

  • Follow-through – If you start to address a customer service complaint, which hopefully you do with every reasonable complaint received, see it through to the end. Your customer will be extremely frustrated if they think they are getting their issue resolved, only to be ignored.

In today’s digital world, you shouldn’t be afraid to use social media  to address customer complaints or issues– your customers are probably already sharing their experiences online and you need to have a plan in place that allows your customer service team to resolve any problems using those platforms. The benefit of successfully and rapidly solving a customer’s problem online is that you’re often rewarded with customers who will also sing your praises in the same venue.

Don’t forget, social media shouldn’t just be used to mitigate customer complaints. You can use social media to highlight good customer service experiences people share that they’ve had with you as well. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how to turn happy customers in brand advocates to learn more!

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: The Cultural District

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things will be a regular series devoted to the places, things, and people in and around the city of Pittsburgh that all of us here at Yearick-Millea love.

Click for Image Source

Click for Image Source

The area between the Convention Center and Stanwix Street in downtown Pittsburgh, otherwise known as the Cultural District, is one of our favorite things for the simple fact that it brings many of our other favorite things together – Including dining, art, shopping, music and more.

This 14 block radius is filled with more than 50 restaurants, nearly 100 retails shops, a dozen art galleries and seven world-class theaters – In one Saturday alone, you can grab brunch at Meat & Potatoes, browse the latest exhibition at Wood Street Galleries, catch an award-winning Broadway show at the Benedum Center and finish up with drinks at Bar Nine inside Nine on Nine.

This weekend, if anyone needs me, I’ll be at the Benedum catching my favorite Broadway show, Wicked – Maybe I’ll see you there? Visit www.culturaldistrict.org to start planning your Saturday!

Dashing through Grammar

To the untrained eye, hyphens, en-dashes, and em-dashes all look similar, but they are used in different situations and are not interchangeable.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

Hyphen (-): Hyphens are mostly used to join words into compound adjectives, adverbs, and nouns. For example, “The well-known performer thrilled the audience.” They also are used to indicate a word break at the end of a line, and can be used to separate number groups, such as phone numbers (412-323-9320).

En-dash (–): An en-dash is approximately the width of the letter “N” and has two main uses. One use is to replace “through” or “to” in a range of numbers, dates, times, months, or days. With the en-dash, we can write “Monday–Friday” and “9–5.” Another use is to replace the hyphen when used with open compounds, such as “New York–based attorney” or “North Carolina–South Carolina border.” ­

Em-dash (—): An em-dash is twice the size of an en-dash, or roughly the width of the letter “M.” Generally speaking, they are used in informal writing to replace colons, commas, and parentheses. For example, “I follow two sports—football and hockey.” Em-dashes also can be used to indicate an interruption or a break in thought—like this—or to attribute a quote. For example: “Omaha! Omaha! Omaha!”—Peyton Manning

One other tidbit to point out involves spaces. There is some debate about whether or not there should be spaces before and after a dash. Since the spaces are really a style choice, it’s best to consult the style guide that you use or to follow your company’s preference.

If you have a question about proper usage or can’t get your software program to cooperate, leave a comment.

Dos and Don’ts of Managing Online Communities

© Can Stock Photo Inc.

© Can Stock Photo Inc.

The thing about social media is that it is designed to be social – It encourages sharing, conversation and community building between brands and customers. As a result, it’s extremely important for companies to appoint, or hire, someone to manage that community.

Like it or not, a community manager becomes the “face” of your brand online and the larger that community gets, the larger the manager’s role becomes. Their actions and responses are constantly being watched and have the potential to directly impact your brand’s online reputation in positive and negative ways. In addition to having a community manager who knows and understands your brand and your audience, it’s important to have a person on the job who is also resourceful and has the ability to juggle difference scenarios with ease.

There are some general Dos and Don’ts that you, and your community manager, need to keep in mind when facilitating engagement with your customers:

DO:

  • Monitor conversations closely – Check in on various platforms regularly and set up alerts or feeds using a platform like Tweetdeck or Sprout Social to help keep things organized.
  • Post community guidelines to set clear expectations and rules for the members of your community.
  • Respond, retweet, share and show love to audience members who reach out to you, share your content or mention your brand.
  • Show personality, humor and grace.
  • Show empathy for unhappy customers and put effort into solving their problems or helping them get in touch with the person who can.
  • Encourage audience members to reach out offline, or via email, if necessary to get more information and work toward a solution that benefits all parties.
  • Follow up with community members to ensure that their problems were, in fact, solved and to their satisfaction.
  • Thank customers regularly, not just when things go poorly.

DON’T:

  • Use sarcasm, terse language or phrases and words whose meaning could be misconstrued.
  • Be defensive, whiny or profane.
  • Delete negative or critical comments or posts that are not in violation of your posted community guidelines.
  • Ignore customer services requests, questions or other messages.
  • Make a habit of using canned, corporate messages – You should address each question, comment or concern individually. There is no “one size fits all” response.

What dos or don’ts would you add to this list? How do you approach social media and community management for your brand? Let us know on our Facebook page or tweet us your tips @YearickMillea.

Getting Involved in the Pittsburgh Professional Scene

Whether you’re an experienced professional or have just earned your degree, Pittsburgh has plenty of professional organizations that provide an opportunity to be a part of the local and and national public relations/marketing industry.

Here at Yearick-Millea, we’re involved with a couple of local organizations, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA).

  • PRSA is geared towards the ethics and emerging trends of the PR industry. The organization is actually the world’s largest and foremost organization of public relations professionals. There is an active local Pittsburgh chapter and 116 chapters on a national scale. Through PRSA-Pittsburgh, members are offered numerous educational and networking activities, including volunteer opportunities, luncheons, award programs and professional development seminars. Members also receive online access to additional national presentations and resources available on the website. PRSA boasts nearly 200 members locally and 20,000 members nationwide.
  • AMA members include a wide variety of marketing, communications and public relations professionals.  Local members gain access to networking and educational events just like PRSA, and also offer local and national discounts on travel, insurance, entertainment, business and career services. Additional webinars are free and exclusive access to a variety of online communities (AMAConnect, LinkedIn, and Facebook) and seminars are provided for members only.

If you haven’t explored any of your local professional organizations, we recommend these professional organizations to stay informed, build your resume, and gain a connection with industry professionals in Pittsburgh. These groups are right in your backyard and are an excellent resource towards developing a strong network of contacts for your career and business. We hope to see you at a future event!

The Art of the #Hashtag Part II

As marketers, we know that we need to use hashtags to get involved in online conversations with our customers about our products and services. In The Art of the #Hashtag Part I, we talked about what hashtags are and offered some advice for using them properly, but how can you implement them as part of your content strategy for a more successful online marketing campaign?

Here are three kinds of hashtags you can use to enhance and improve your online marketing:

Listening Hashtags: As we’ve discussed before, hashtags were designed to help people discover content online. Brands can use them to discover current or potential customers by establishing a list of terms relevant terms to follow and engaging in the online conversations surrounding them. By actively listening to the online audience, you can get a better sense of your customers’ needs.

Example: For our work with Breathe Pennsylvania on their social media campaign, we track a number of different keywords as hashtags so we can stay involved with our audience and the conversation surrounding chronic lung disease.

breathepa

Branded Hashtags: Brand-specific hashtags, typically your company or product name and/or tagline, are unique to you and can help define your business on social media. The use of branded hashtags can also help you keep an eye on exactly what people are saying about you online. As an added bonus, using branded hashtags is a great way to collect and vet authentic, user submitted content.

Example: Tide uses branded hashtags to promote their support of the NFL with the @TideNFL account – People can use the hashtag #OurColors to show support for their favorite NFL team resulting in some pretty cool user generated content for the brand.

ourcolors

Event Hashtags: Event hashtags, like #SharkWeek or #SuperBowl, are a great way to market to your audience in real time. While this is typically what we think of when talking about event hashtags, this type of identifier can also be used with webinars, tradeshows, in-house sales or specials. Can’t attend an industry event? Follow the event hashtag to stay up to date and track the conversation. Whether you’re using established event hashtags or creating new ones specific to your brand, it’s always important to ensure they make sense and don’t seem superfluous or confusing to your audience.

Example: #brandchat is a weekly Twitter chat for brands and marketers to share ideas and strategies with one another. Moderated by the @brandchat account, topics vary from week to week. The use of the #brandchat hashtag simplifies following along and participating. brandchat

 

Like them or not, hashtags are a part of consumers’ everyday lives and, because of this, they are an important element of your online marketing strategy. Just remember to use them properly – Keep hashtags simple, test them out and don’t hashtag for the sake of hashtagging.

Apple of My Eye: My Favorite Holiday Ad of 2013

They’re as much a part of the holiday season as lights, tinsel and ornaments: a ceaseless barrage of ordinary and less-than-ordinary Christmas commercials that is – thankfully, but only partially – reprieved by treasured classics such as Budweiser’s bell-jangling Clydesdales or (for Pittsburghers like me) Eat ‘n Park’s plucky gold star.

While most of the recent Christmas fare was indeed forgettable, one new holiday commercial had me setting down the remote every time it came on.

commercial

Titled “Misunderstood”  and created by Apple, the spot features a teenager sullenly absorbed in his smartphone as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings swirl around him in tumults of joys.  The plot twists cleverly and movingly when, on Christmas morning, the brooding loner shatters the archetype, commandeering the television to showcase a heart-tugging family video he has quietly been composing on his iPhone all along.

Ray Werner, the creative genius behind Werner Chepelsky & Partners, a classic Pittsburgh ad agency in its own right, recently told the Pittsburgh Business Times that great advertising “hits a nerve.  It makes you laugh or suck in your breath, or feel something and lets you in on the joke without taking you by the hand like a child.”

“Misunderstood” did that for me.  While the commercial likely won’t be shown beyond last Christmas, it will remain a classic in my mind because it conveyed all the powerful emotions that Mr. Werner said good ads should, while just as eloquently reinforcing Apple’s legendary brand.

Did you see any remarkable ads this holiday season?  Did “Misunderstood” work for you, or did it reinforce the idea that many of us have become enslaved to our cell phones and tablets, even as we should be celebrating the holidays with our families? Please comment. We’d love to hear what you think…

Typography 101 – Fonts

serif vs sans ransom note

Fonts may just appear to be letters, but in the world of marketing, they are critical components that grab attention and make messaging readable and legible. While there may seem to be unlimited options, we can break them down into two categories, serif and sans serif, which are suited for certain uses.

Serif fonts have a little flair—decorative strokes at the end of the characters. Well-known examples are Times New Roman and Cambria. Sans serif fonts are those without the strokes, such as Arial and Calibri.

The unspoken rule of thumb used to be that serif fonts were for printed copy because they were viewed as being more readable. The strokes were believed to help us better identify letters and guide the horizontal flow of our eyes. However, the strokes looked fuzzy on old, low-resolution CRT TVs and computer monitors. Sans serif fonts were the go-to styles for digital formats because their simple lines were more legible onscreen.

Nowadays, LCD and LED screens are providing a high-resolution view, and font selections are mostly guided by the medium (print or digital), the sentiment you are setting (think wedding invitation vs. garage sale poster), or a company style. Generally speaking, if you’re setting large blocks of text, such as an article, a serif font would be a good choice. However, if you’re putting together brief text, captions, or a chart, a sans serif may work best.

Some designers even get crazy and use both styles on the same piece. It’s not uncommon to see an article with a heading in a sans serif font and copy in a serif. But don’t overdo it…you aren’t preparing a ransom letter.

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Pittsburgh Restaurant Week

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things will be a regular series devoted to the places, things, and people in and around the city of Pittsburgh that all of us here at Yearick-Millea love.

empty plate with forks and knifes

Click for image source

As we have previously discussed in this series, we love Pittsburgh’s restaurants – and Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is a great way to celebrate them! Pittsburgh Restaurant Week takes place twice a year, once in winter and once in summer and it features many of the most popular restaurants in the area – Usually at a discounted price, with a special menu or both.

With over 50 restaurants participating in this winter’s Restaurant Week,  January 13th-19th , the staff at Yearick-Millea thought we would help you narrow down your list with some personal  recommendations:

  • Braddock’s American Brasserie – Great for post-dinner, enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail or a glass of bourbon from their extensive collection.
  • Seviche – The smoked scallop ceviche and pan-roasted duck are delicious and are featured on Seviche’s Restaurant Week menu.
  • Sonoma Grill – Great location if you’re going to a show in the Cultural District.
  • Sharp Edge – A fun place to meet up with friends after work, they have a vast beer selection and a casual atmosphere.
  • Union Pig & Chicken – Great BBQ and a nice selection of whiskey, bourbon and rye.
  • Mercurio’s – They have great pizzas and a large selection of gelato to choose from for dessert.

Where do you recommend trying? Which restaurants are you most looking forward to try? Let us know in the comments!