Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: The Peoples Gas Holiday Market

If you still have to buy some holiday gifts for your loved ones, there’s time to head over to the Peoples Gas Holiday Market in downtownone of our favorite Pittsburgh things!

Located in Market Square, the Peoples Gas Holiday Market was inspired by the original German Christkindlmarkts. Vendors are housed in Alpine-style wooden chalets, offering ethnic and local gifts such as jewelry, ornaments, artwork, winter accessories and many more handcrafted items.

After shopping, take a break and visit Santa Claus, catch some live performances and entertainment, or grab a bite to eat from the Yule Hause presented by NOLA on the Square—featuring bratwurst, crepes, strudel, haluski and more treats. If you want to experience holiday lights, stick around for the BNY Mellon Season of Lights, a choreographed light show in Market Square that occurs every half hour after dark.

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market is open through Tuesday, Dec. 23. For more information and a complete list of vendors and performances, click here.

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Pittsburgh.

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Pittsburgh.

Social Media Trends to Explore in 2015

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 2015! Here at Yearick-Millea, we’re starting to think about trends we should be exploring for our clients in the new year. The following are a few trends we think will be important on social media in the upcoming year:

  • Instagram – If you have clients in retail, beauty or other visual industries, it’s time to make sure they’re on Instagram! Instagram continues to grow—it just surpassed Twitter in users—and it is the most popular visual social media network. Also important to remember is that unlike Pinterest, Instagram’s user base is more diverse.
  • Facebook – Unfortunately, being successful as a brand on Facebook in 2015 will mean paying more for ads and even post views. With post views continuing to drop as result of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, brands will need to be creative with their ad spend. Good content will remain a must, but it’s looking more and more like paying to play is, too.
  • Ello – Keep an eye on Ello in 2015 – the newest social network is still in beta, but it continues to grow each day. However, before you consider it for your brand, remember that Ello is meant to be the “ad-free” social network to counter Facebook. A careful strategy with a focus on conversation and engagement, not selling, will be vital to any brands trying to use Ello.
  • Customer service – Social media has been the go-to option for customers for some time now, but in 2015 expect customers to want faster response times and more personalized responses. It’s important to map out your response procedures and determine who is responsible for customer service to be prepared for this. As you know, a negative customer service experience gets more press than a positive one.
  • Analytics – Social media analytics will continue to grow and delve deeper into customer behaviors online, allowing brands to better target new customers and retain old ones.
  • E-commerce – With the development of “buy” buttons on Facebook and Twitter, social buying is something retail brands should monitor as they become available. It’s not yet known if these buttons will be popular and seen as an even easier way to purchase items or as an invasion of privacy that people will be uncomfortable with.

What are your predictions for trends in social media during 2015? Let us know in the comments!

2015

5 Grammar Tips to Keep in Mind This Holiday Season

We’re almost through the first week of December, which means holiday-related content is being published everywhere! Whether you’re writing a holiday-themed press release, article, blog post, brochure or just signing your annual cards, here are a couple of tips to help you with your holiday content:

  1. Capitalize words like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Kwanzaa, Yule, Yuletide, North Pole, Jesus, Jesus Christ and Feliz Navidad. Because a Grinch derives from the proper name of Dr. Seuss’ famous grumpy character, it also is capitalized. Though Champagne often is widely used as a generic term to describe what one drinks during a holiday celebration, the term actually refers to a specific type of sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and fermented in the bottle to create carbonation. Because of this, Champagne should be capitalized and other sparkling wines should simply be referred to as sparkling wine.
  1. The jolly guy who brings toys to children around the world is Santa Claus, not Clause, unless you’re referring to the movie, “The Santa Clause.” While we’re on the topic of movies, holiday movie and song titles should be placed inside quotes—“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Silent Night,” “White Christmas” and “Auld Lang Syne.”
  1. The eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights is spelled Hanukkah, according to AP Style. Another popular, traditional way to spell it is Chanukah.
  1. Only the first word in Nativity scene is capitalized. Unless they’re included in titles or headlines, other words/phrases that should not be capitalized include: noel, gifts, poinsettia, menorah, dreidel, mistletoe, happy holidays, season’s greetings and hallelujah.
  1. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have apostrophes. This season, the new year refers to only 2015—Dec. 31, 2014, is the eve of the upcoming new year, and Jan. 1, 2015, refers to the first day of the single year that has just begun. You can always write, “Happy New Year,” without the apostrophe. However, if you’re referring to the new year in general, don’t capitalize it: “We will discuss marketing strategies for the new year.”

Feel free to regift (one word) these pieces of advice, and share your own with us! You can also check out the AP Style’s 2014 Holiday Style Guide.

A Thanksgiving Thank You

In 1621, the Pilgrims gathered in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with members of the native Wamapanoag tribe to celebrate and give thanks for that fall’s bountiful harvest.

Tomorrow, as we convene with family and friends to share the generous blessings bestowed on us, the staff at Yearick-Millea wishes to express its gratitude to all who have made our good fortunes possible, from our husbands, wives, and moms and dads, to our dedicated vendors and suppliers, and, of course, the extraordinarily loyal and talented friends we have the privilege of serving as clients.

We also are grateful to the countless people who will volunteer their time and labor tomorrow and throughout the year to food kitchens, shelters and other charitable activities, and to the thousands of military service members around the world who are sacrificing time with their loved ones to make sure we have the freedom to be with ours.

Together with the Pilgrims and Native Americans assembled on the shores of Massachusetts nearly 500 years ago, these individuals represent the best of an American spirit that was born a century-and-a-half before the Founding Fathers signed our country into existence.

To all of them and to all of you, we say, “Thank you.”

Do you have someone you’d like to thank or acknowledge?  If so, we’d really like to hear from you.  Please do so here.

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things—Carriage Rides

What fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh—at least that’s what they say! Now that the holidays are right around the corner, downtown Pittsburgh visitors can experience something close—horse-drawn carriage rides through the city, one of our favorite Pittsburgh things.

Beginning during the 54th annual Light-Up Night this Friday, Nov. 21, city visitors can experience downtown Pittsburgh in a mode of truly festive transportation. Free carriage rides depart from One Oxford Centre on Light-Up Night and Saturdays through Dec. 20. Visitors can pick up tickets for their ride around the block at the Fourth Avenue entrance.

Rides taking visitors through Market Square also are offered at the Fourth Avenue side of PPG Place Plaza on Light-Up Night, Black Friday and Saturdays through Dec. 20.

Whether you come into the city just to enjoy a carriage ride or you’re taking a break from shopping, you can sit back, relax and take a picturesque ride through our pretty city!

We’re ready for the holiday fun! How about you?

Four Tips to Help with Time Management & Multitasking

Professionals in the marketing industry often have multiple client projects going on simultaneously. But how do you ensure that each project is getting the attention it deserves? Many people try to multitask, and while that can help you tackle several things at once, it also can set you back if you don’t approach it correctly.

Here are a few multitasking and time management tips for your consideration:

  1. Lists—Keeping to-do and priority lists is a great way to stay organized and in-tune with what you have to work on each day. Each morning, craft a to-do list and prioritize the items on that list. You can always rearrange the order of your tasks if something more important comes along, but make sure to keep your list visible (and not under the stack of papers on your desk). Don’t forget about the best part—crossing off your tasks when you’ve completed them!
  1. Planners/Calendars—You can benefit from dedicating blocks of time to work on specific projects, such as monitoring social media from 8 to 9 a.m. and writing a press release from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Planners and calendars can help you keep track of that time, as well as other appointments, meetings or calls you have on your schedule. Whether you keep a physical or digital planner, have it handy. Digital apps, like the new Google Calendar, also can be useful. If you have trouble remembering appointments, set reminder alerts and alarms at different intervals to help you keep track of time and to ensure you’ll make your meeting.
  1. Focus—If you’re not focused, it’s going to be hard to complete anything on your list. Avoid working on more than two tasks at a time and find two things that you can easily toggle between. If you have a conference call and can pay attention while adding postage to your company’s Christmas cards, go for it, but if you’re trying to write an important case study, you might not be able to listen and write at the same time. Once you’ve finished with one of your two tasks, allow yourself to move on to another. Email is a big source of distraction. Turn off pop-up notifications and try to sift through/respond to emails every half hour or hour instead of right when they come in (unless it’s an urgent matter). You can flag important emails to remind yourself to send a response later. Similarly, limit the number of open tabs/windows on your Internet browser or computer screen. When you’re finished with a page, close it or bookmark it for later.
  1. Ask for Help—If you simply have too much on your plate, reach out to co-workers who can help you tackle some items on that extensive to-do list. Don’t expect them to complete your most time-consuming and challenging tasks, rather see if they can help you knock out some smaller projects when they have a bit of free time.

What strategies do you use when you have a lot of projects going on at once? Let us know in the comments!

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Tools of the Trade: How the New Google Calendar App Can Simplify Schedule Management

Earlier this week, Google rolled out a new Calendar app for the Android 5.0 Lollipop mobile operating system. The app acts like your very own personal assistant, which is certainly helpful in the communications industry, given that our daily calendars are regularly filled with client meetings and conference calls.

Through the app’s “Assists” smart word suggestion, which is similar to Google Search, as you begin to enter one of your contacts into your calendar, the app will suggest those contacts listed in your phone that are similar to what you’ve started to enter. If you begin to enter a location, the app will also recognize places similar to what you type. Select a specific location, and the app will follow by adding the address and phone number for you based on what is currently listed in Google. It’s just that convenient! You won’t have to switch between apps to copy and paste information, and you’re saving time by manually entering less information into your phone.

In everyday life, we also spend a lot of time booking our events online these days – dinner and hotel reservations, concert tickets, flights, etc. – and we receive email confirmations for those bookings. The app connects to your Gmail account, and keeps tabs on the things that you purchase so that when you receive an email confirmation, the details of the event will automatically become events in your calendar. What’s even more helpful is that if you receive an email notification regarding something like a flight delay, your calendar app will notify you through a push notification on your phone and update the details that you had previously included in the app.

With the “Schedule View,” you’ll be able to scroll through your entire schedule, which includes photos and maps of the places you’re going. Whether you’re using this for work or for home, it should prove to simplify your schedule.

Check out the tutorial of the new app to see how it works. Google plans to release another version of the app for iOS users at a later date.

Formatting the Press Release: Titles

When you send a press release or media alert, the ultimate goal is for publications to pick up the information and distribute it to their audiences. The information is critical to the message you want to convey, and so is its presentation.  In this series, we discuss tips to help you appropriately format press releases for publication. Your media contacts will appreciate it!

Titles come in all different forms—headlines, job titles, group names—so it can be confusing to get them all straight. Here are some quick rules to remember when you’re writing titles in a press release:

Capitalization 

All principal words in a title—whether it be for a book, article, movie, website, seminar name, etc.—should be capitalized. Prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters also are capitalized. For example: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Remember that certain titles should be placed within quotation marks, while others should be italicized. 

Headlines

Capitalize only the first word, proper nouns and proper abbreviations. Bold headlines in press releases (don’t underline or italicize them). For example: New PRSA stylebook offers writing tips

Job Titles

There are different rules regarding the capitalization of job titles depending on when they are mentioned.

  • Capitalize a title before a name if there is no comma in between: Director of City Planning Beth Vaughn
  • Lowercase if there is a comma in between the name and title: New York’s director of city planning, Beth Vaughn
  • Lowercase after a name: Beth Vaughn, director of city planning, New York
  • Job titles that include functions should be lowercase unless the function is a branded product: Beth Vaughn, director, city planning, New York
  • Lowercase if it’s not paired with a name: New York’s director of city planning will review the plans.

For more information, check out the Public Relations Society of America’s style guide at www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/GuidelinesLogos/PRSAStyleGuide.pdf or the Associated Press Stylebook’s website at www.apstylebook.com. Keep reading our blog for more grammar and writing tips!

Why a video for your business is important

Why produce a video? That’s a question that’s been asked by/within companies for a long time. “Give me one good reason why I should spend the money to make a video of my business…” remains a frequently-heard CEO challenge.

Well, there’s more than one reason! A quality video is one of the best marketing tools that a business can have when competing with other companies for clients or projects. A well-produced video can be used as:

  • An introduction to your company designed to attract potential new clients
  • A reintroduction for absentee clients who need a reason to become active clients again
  • A stronger, more memorable impression of your company and its services
  • Company collateral when prospecting for new business

Truthfully, some of the reasons for not making a corporate video in the past—high cost, slow turnover and viewing restrictions— were quite valid, but today’s digital age has radically changed many of the standard steps involved with making a corporate video. High quality videos can be shot on many devices and edited (with voice-over) on a laptop, and former month-long projects have been reduced to several days.

Long gone are the days of VHS tapes/players—videos now can be watched on the internet, PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets, making it easier to present and distribute your content.

We’ll explore the type of content that should be included in company videos in a future blog post. In the meantime, contact us if you want to learn more about creating a video for your business/organization!


(c) Can Stock Photo

Confused about using ‘affect’ and ‘effect?’

Affect and effect look and sound almost the same, but that doesn’t mean they can be used interchangeably. Unfortunately, they are two of the most commonly misused words, but figuring out which one to use is easier than you may think.

Simply put, affect is almost always used as a verb, and effect as a noun. Affect means to influence someone or something, or to produce a result, whereas effect is the result of a cause or action.

  • Apollos Hester’s post-game interview had an inspirational effect on me. How did it affect you?

Affect also can mean to act in a way that’s not typical, and effect can mean a private possession. For example:

  •  Normally energetic and supportive, Coach Tomlin affected an air of disappointment on the sideline.
  •  Packing up personal effects is always the hard part of moving.

Before we close this blog out, let’s address why I said affect and effect are almost always used as a verb and noun, respectively. Sometimes it’s the other way around. When used as a verb, effect means to bring about or to accomplish.

  • Coach Franklin hopes the upcoming bye week effects improvement in the Nittany Lions’ offense.

Likewise, affect can be used as a noun—although rarely—meaning an emotional state or implying a mood someone is experiencing.

  • After the Steelers lost to the Browns, I sat on my couch in an emotionless affect.

Would you like us to explore other grammar questions? Let us know in the comments.