Meet The Team: Heidi Dezayas

I’m Heidi Dezayas, and I am the newest member of the Yearick-Millea team. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for almost 11 years, which hasn’t been long enough for this Miami, FL, native to get used to the frigid winters. Despite that little tidbit, I’m so happy to call Pittsburgh my home.

Heidi Dezayas photo

Here are some fun facts about me:

  • My two favorite places are Walt Disney World in Orlando and Central Park in New York City. They’re simply magical!
  • I have a fraternal twin sister. People always ask us if we have that “special twin bond”—we do!
  • I’ve completed six half marathons since the beginning of 2013—two at Disney, two in Pittsburgh, one in New York City, and one in Maui. I’m signed up for two more this year. My goal is to run a full marathon one day.
  • “Wicked” is my favorite musical, and I’ve seen it five times.
  • When I was in college, I was a contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” It was a blast, but it really is harder than it looks! I don’t judge people when I watch game shows anymore.
  • My fiancé, Jonathan, and I will be getting married April 2015 after 10 years together. I can’t wait!

I was a member of the Pittsburgh media for more than six years before switching to marketing and public relations. It’s an exciting transition, and it doesn’t hurt that I get to work in one of the most beautiful cities around!

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things – The Strip 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.

It’s known to locals simply as “The Strip.” The small Pittsburgh neighborhood is made up of one-half square mile long road, set just near the Allegheny River and bordering the downtown area. While it’s very business-oriented on the weekdays, it turns into a shopping destination for many Pittsburghers on the weekends. The vibrant atmosphere is a great way to experience Pittsburgh’s authenticity for locals and tourists alike.

Via Google Maps

Via Google Maps

The Strip District provides quite the variety of ethnic grocers, meat/fish markets, and fresh, local produce. If you haven’t experienced the Strip District on a Saturday or Sunday, there is certainly something for everyone – at any time of the day. Here’s a quick list to occupy your time throughout the day:

Breakfast – Who doesn’t love donuts? With the unique flavor combinations at Peace, Love & Little Donuts, you’re guaranteed to find something delicious!

Lunch – Wholey’s has been in the Pittsburgh area for over 100 years. Most widely recognized for the seafood sold, make sure to check out Andy’s Sushi, fresh and made right in front of you.

Dinner – Primanti’s is probably one of the most popular Pittsburgh traditions. Everyone loves the traditional sandwiches with french fries and coleslaw.

Let us know if you have any favorites for us to discover, too!

Another Series of Words About the Oxford Comma

In his most recent blog, my colleague, Ian Faight, touts himself as an “Oxford comma kind of guy.” There’s nothing wrong with that I suppose, but if we were to divide the world neatly into the Oxford comma faithful and faithless, I’d have to consider myself an agnostic.

Why? Because like many other mysteries of the universe, I don’t believe there is a single right answer. This is demonstrated to amusing effect in the infographic below, which helpfully points out that even the PR department at the University of Oxford, the ancestral home of the Oxford comma, has abandoned use of the controversial, hinge-winged dot.

Click for image source

Click for image source

I know it’s heresy, but I think the Oxford comma can be used all of the time, some of the time, or none of the time, depending on the need for clarity and the preference of the writer.  (Did I just betray an allegiance there?)  Let us know what you think.

The Oxford Comma: Yay or Nay?

Developed by Oxford University Press, the Oxford comma comes before the conjunction at the end of a list or series. For example, “I bought bacon, eggs, (<-this little guy) and milk.”

One could argue that the sentence would be perfectly fine if the Oxford—or serial—comma was left out. Grammatically, it would still be correct. There isn’t an actual grammar rule to dictate the extra comma’s usage; it’s purely a style choice—and the style guides don’t even agree.

There are two sides to this argument. Some people think the Oxford comma is unnecessary and adds clutter that slows a reader down. Others deem it always important because it provides clarity and lets the reader know—for sure—what the relationship is between items in a list. While the serial comma may be superfluous at times in a simple list, it could save a life one day. For example:

“At dinner time, we fed the baby, the dog and the cat.”

“At dinner time, we fed the baby, the dog, and the cat.”

Without the Oxford comma, the reader could assume the baby ate a furry meal.

The image below is another example that’s been floating around the internet for a few years—albeit a touchy subject here in Pittsburgh. Are we to believe Tebow’s parents are God and Ms. Trunchbull?

blog

I’m an Oxford comma kind of guy…always have been, always will be. Long live the Oxford comma.

What say you?

Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing has become one of the most popular ways for a brand to spread its message to the public. What exactly is this trend in marketing? More and more, brands are inserting themselves, in a timely-manner, into a popular conversation or event on social media. One of the most popular examples, and perhaps the start of the real-time marketing craze, was Oreo’s tweet from the 2013 Super Bowl. Real-time marketing on social media from brands is the new norm for large consumer brands.

There are a few key steps brands need to take in order to successfully pull off a real-time marketing stunt:

Audience – Be aware of what is relevant to the brand’s audience. For some audiences, that may be the Grammy’s and for others it may be the Stanley Cup Finals. It will depend on the products or services provided by the brand. Keeping it relevant keeps it from appearing as a desperate ploy for likes, favorites or retweets.

Monitoring – Depending on the size of the brand or staff, create a team (for example, social media experts, PR professionals, designers) to constantly monitor trending topics, news, cultural events, etc.

Process – There needs to be a streamlined reactive process in place. Decide who needs to be involved in each step and what they will be responsible for handling. Remember, the window for successful real-time marketing is small, so the process needs to run smoothly.

If the guidelines are followed and it’s executed well, like the Oreo tweet, it can garner you significant exposure – Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet received 15,878 retweets and 6,494 favorites.

However, if the post is done poorly or in bad taste – like this Pearl Harbor tweet or this 9/11 tweet, it will likely earn the brand a spot on lists with titles such as “Top 5 social media fails…”

Lastly, real-time marketing can only give a brand a temporary boost in exposure– it must be followed with constantly good content that their audience cares about to stay relevant and popular.

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Schenley Park Trails

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.

One of my favorite parts of Runner’s World magazine is the “Rave Run,” a regular feature that highlights running routes framed by scenic beach, mountain, cityscape or wooded vistas.

We have lots of “rave runs” here in Pittsburgh, but I have to confess that my top choice is probably the running trails at Schenley Park in Oakland.  The best running trails typically boast gradual uphills, easy down slopes, a comfortable running surface and beautiful views.  It’s nice to see some friendly faces every once in a while, too.

You get all that and more at Schenley Park.  Running on the soft dirt is pleasing to my feet and knees, and the wide trails winding through the woods make me feel comfortably unencumbered and embraced by nature both at the same time.  There’s also plenty of company most times of the year and perhaps best of all, the park offers some of the most entrancing views of downtown Pittsburgh you’ll find anywhere in the city.  (Of course, our stunning skyline is another one of my favorite Pittsburgh things!)

With a busy schedule and a long commute, I can’t run the trail as often as I did when I lived in the city, but with Groundhog Day in our rearview mirror and the winter sunlight finally lasting longer, the trails at Schenley Park are just one more reason I am looking forward to the spring.

Do you have a favorite Pittsburgh place?  Tell us what it is in the comments …

Marketing 101: Print Ads

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

You can convey countless messages via a print ad. Whether it’s for your own business, a valuable client or maybe a non-profit entity – the print ad that you’ve created should accurately deliver your intended message to the reader. What can you do to increase your odds of success? Here are four key elements that should guide the construction of your layout to obtain maximum impact:

COPY:  Focus on the primary message for the print ad; don’t allow words to get in the way of the message; once the first draft is complete – revise it – and then revise it again. Always be on the lookout for the best method of stating what you want the reader to learn. Many times – the fewer words – the better.

IMAGERY: Be certain the photographs and images that you plan to include in the print ad actually complement and/or interact with the subject matter. You are attempting to develop and present a single thought to help sell a product – a company – or yourself. If the imagery looks as though it doesn’t belong, it probably does not, so go back to the drawing board.

COLORS:  This step is easy. As with imagery, all colors should interact pleasantly with the message, any logos – and above all – the boundaries of good taste. Remember that if the colors that appear in your ad are overpowering – it’s reasonable to assume that your message will also be “held hostage” and not be noticed by your audience.

DESIGN: If your ad was a map – you’d want to find your destination ASAP. Well, it’s the same idea when creating an ad design. Ideally, you want the reader’s eyes to immediately locate a spot on the page that carries the ad’s intent (buy, travel, eat, refinance – whatever) – and then an appropriate layout which takes the reader virtually everywhere within the page to grasp and appreciate all of the ad’s carefully-crafted content.

These four steps can make the difference between achieving results – or wasting valuable time and money.

How To: Turn Customers Into Advocates

What is a brand advocate? Simply put, a brand advocate is a customer who speaks favorably about a company, organization or product and shares their positive experiences with others through word of mouth communications. Typically, these messages take shape online in the form of thing like tweets and Facebook or blog posts and have the potential to be seen by hundreds, even thousands, of potential new customers.

While influencers (the media, paid spokespeople, etc.) are typically used to help promote a brand, the use of unpaid, “average Joe” advocates has continued to increase in recent years. Because advocates are unpaid, they are often seen as more trustworthy by their fellow consumers – In fact, brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as trustworthy by other consumers. It’s important that brands know how to not only identify these advocates, but how to mobilize them as well.

What can you do to successfully engage, and leverage, your brand advocates:

  1. Organize them: Before you can mobilize your advocates, you have to organize them. Listen to the conversations surrounding your brand online and identify those individuals who appear again and again. Reach out to those people individually to let them know you appreciate their kind words – Favorite their tweets or like their Facebook posts and engage directly.
  2. Give them a task: Once you’ve identified a group of brand advocates, you should encourage them to join your online communities. You can then ask them to provide testimonials or referrals and share unique, user-generated content in those spaces. Make being an advocate worthwhile for the audience and repurpose testimonials, photos, tweets, etc. for use on other platforms.
  3. Thank them: The best way to let brand advocates know that you appreciate them is by thanking them directly. Offering access to premium content, pre-release product sneak peeks and other perks go a long way. You can also go the traditional route by sending them hand-written, signed Thank You notes. Recognition and appreciation are important elements of building relationships with your advocates – It’s important to let them know that you do care.

Because brand advocates are not paid spokespeople or employees of your company, the content they provide adds a level of authenticity to your brand that other consumers can see. Foster relationships with your advocates by encouraging them to create and share content surrounding your brand and thanking them for their efforts. By focusing some effort on this segment of your audience, you’ll reach a wider network of potential customers with a genuine message about your brand.

 

2014 Olympics

With the 2014 Olympics in Sochi’s opening ceremony being held tomorrow morning, we decided to poll the staff here at Yearick-Millea about all things Olympic:

Which event are you looking forward to the most this year?flag

John: Ice Hockey/Downhill Skiing

Stephanie: Hockey! I’ve got my Patty Kane Team USA jersey all ready to go!

Jay: Hockey

Tessa: Hockey. I’m also interested to see some of the new snowboard/ski events.

Ian: Any and all hockey games

Lauren: Hockey

What’s your favorite event in the Olympics – winter or summer?

John: Track Events (Summer Olympics)

Stephanie: Hockey again, though I like swimming and figure skating as well.

Jay: Track & Field

Tessa: Swimming and diving are my summer favorites and hockey is my winter favorite.

Ian: Winter – Hockey

Lauren: Probably summer, actually – and swimming/gymnastics

What’s your favorite Olympic memory?

John: The 1980 U.S. Hockey Team Win over the Soviet Union

Stephanie: Zach Parise’s goal in the 2010 gold medal game to force overtime (which was soon followed by my worst Olympic memory – Canada winning)

Jay: U.S. Hockey Win Over Russia!!

Tessa: Watching Michael Phelps win 8 gold medals in 2008 – I was living in Baltimore at the time (Phelps’ hometown) and everyone was rooting for him. It was cool to see a city come together to cheer someone on for an accomplishment like that. Plus, many of those races were won by a fingertip or arm’s length which was pretty cool.

Ian: I wasn’t born yet, but the U.S. men’s hockey team winning the gold medal in 1980 is my favorite event to read and learn about.

Lauren: Men’s hockey in 2010 – Crosby scoring the game-winning goal. It was Canada, but still exciting for Crosby.

Prediction time: Number of medals the U.S. will bring home this year?

John: 34

Stephanie: 37

Jay: 13 Gold – 9 Silver – 11 Bronze (Total: 33)

Tessa: Does it really matter what the final number is as long as the U.S. wins gold in hockey?

Ian: Uh…how many events are there? No clue where to begin.

Lauren: 35

 

Let us know your answers and prediction in the comments! Go Team USA!

Social Media Case Study: Pleotint

 The Challenge
Pleotint, a window glazing company from Michigan who manufactures an adaptive window technology, called Suntuitive interlayer, wanted to launch an integrated social media campaign designed to grow their online audience, both on social media and their website, to ultimately drive new business for the company.

The Strategy
To increase Pleotint’s exposure on social media, we created a multi-platform campaign strategy, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and a blog on Pleotint’s website. The content strategy was to position Pleotint as an expert not only in windows and glazings, but also in green building and energy efficiency, to target Pleotint’s potential customer base of architects and green builders. We also utilized Facebook advertising to get the most out of our Facebook campaign and drive traffic to both the Facebook page and the website.

Pleotint's Facebook Page

Pleotint’s Facebook Page

The Results
During the 2013 campaign, from the launch on October 1 through the end of the year.

Over 1000% increase in Facebook fans
14% increase in Twitter followers
Increased web traffic