Spring & Summer Grammar Tips

We’re a full week into May and right in between the spring and summer. Seasonal press releases, ads, blogs, etc. are being published, so here are a few spring- and summer-related grammar tips to help you while you write your content:

  • This Sunday, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day (not Mothers Day or Mothers’ Day).
  • All seasons—spring, summer, fall and winter—are lowercase. Equinox or spring equinox also are lowercase.
  • Memorial Day is a holiday, so the first letter in both words should be capitalized. If you have the day off, you might go to a barbecue (not barbeque, Bar-B-Q or BBQ).
  • Daylight saving time already has passed for the season, but when it comes again in the fall, the written style remains the same—no capitalization, no hyphens and no plurals (it’s “saving,” not “savings”).
  • Graduation season is here, so remember to use apostrophes in the general terms bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc. (no capitalization). However, the proper form is capitalized and does not have an apostrophe. For example, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science.
  • If you’re going on a vacation, you’re a traveler who is traveling (one L, not two).

What are some other good seasonal writing tips! Share them with us in the comments!

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend

The 2015 Dick’s Sporting Good Pittsburgh Marathon weekend is here!

Runners and walkers will be celebrating as they cross the race’s finish line, just two blocks from the Yearick-Millea office.

About 30,000 people are participating in the weekend’s different events—5K, kid races, and a pet walk on Saturday, May 2, and the marathon, half marathon, and marathon relay on Sunday, May 3. Race participants get to experience Pittsburgh in an amazing way—running across the city’s numerous bridges and diverse neighborhoods.

Runners take the opportunity to give it all they have and achieve their goals after months of training, while the streets will come alive with thousands of spectators and volunteers cheering on their loved ones and strangers alike. The family-friendly Eat’n Park Finish Line Festival at Point State Park also is a great way to unwind after the races.

The GNC Live Well Pittsburgh Health and Fitness Expo, held Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, is another event that everyone can enjoy. Focusing on all aspects of health and wellness for people of all ages, the expo offers Pittsburgh-themed gear and apparel for those who want to show off their Pittsburgh pride.

Are you participating in any of the marathon weekend events? Tell us in the comments!

2014 Pittsburgh Marathon

2014 Pittsburgh Marathon

Generate Ideas With These Brainstorming Techniques

Public relations, marketing and advertising professionals do quite a bit of brainstorming to generate ideas for content, campaigns, events and media pitches. Some ideas come easier than others, so here are a few tips to help you brainstorm when you get stuck (or even just as general practice):

  1. Think Like Someone Else—Put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you’re trying to come up with ideas. Whether you’re working on a project that would appeal to someone who is from a different generation than you are, or someone in a different profession, take the time to think like someone else. For example, if you’re brainstorming ideas for a media pitch, outline what you think a reporter would want to know about your client and frame your story idea/pitch around that. Or if you have a product that you need to market to a specific audience, talk to someone within that audience to get some informal thoughts.
  1. Brain Writing—Just as with writer’s block, writing freely about whatever comes to mind can help you generate ideas. Set aside 10 minutes and write down every idea you have, whether or not you like it. Take a step back and revisit your list after a few minutes. Looking at it with a fresh set of eyes might help you expand on some of the ideas.
  1. Reverse Thinking—Rather than trying to come up with solutions for your clients, thinking about potential problems could be a good way to brainstorm. For example, instead of asking, “How can I make my client’s website more user-friendly?” ask “How can I create a horrible user experience?” and make a list. Once you have your list of ways to create a bad client website, generate solutions for all the items.
  1. Group Sessions—As they say, “Two heads are better than one.” Sometimes, individual brainstorming leads to a dead end, so it’s a good idea to enlist some help from your colleagues and coworkers. Bounce ideas off of each other and don’t be afraid to vocalize your thoughts. A little bit of teamwork can take an incomplete thought and turn it into something great.

What techniques do you try when you’re brainstorming? Let us know in the comments!

How to Advertise on Twitter

We covered advertising on Facebook in an earlier blog post, but today we’ll be discussing the basics of advertising on Twitter.

There are three basic types of Twitter advertising:

  • Promoted accounts that show up in the “who to follow” section
  • Promoted tweets that show up in a user’s timeline
  • Promoted trends that are listed in the “trends” section

The most commonly used type of ad is a promoted tweet. These ads can target Twitter users based on a multitude of factors depending on what you’re looking for, including keyword targeting, interest targeting, location targeting and gender targeting.

Pricing for Twitter advertising is based on accomplishing your chosen “objectives.” Objectives can include followers, web clicks and conversions, engagement, app installs, and engagement and leads. Under the current “objectives” structure, you’re only charged for your ad when your objective has been met. For example, if your goal is to get followers, you’ll be charged for each follower you gain from your ad. You can still use the old structure that is not based on objectives; however, using the objective-based advertising method is generally the best way to get optimal results for your campaign.

Twitter objectives

Similar to Facebook ads, promoted tweets should use clear, concise ad copy and intriguing creative. Twitter’s advertising platform will help guide you through creating your ad based on your chosen objective. Twitter ads have both the advantage and disadvantage of blending in better with a user’s timeline than an ad on a Facebook newsfeed. This can be advantageous because users may not realize it’s an ad, therefore, they will be more likely to interact with it. On the other hand, it can be a disadvantage because it is more likely to be scrolled over, as lots of tweets are.

To achieve success with a Twitter promoted tweet ad campaign, we recommend running a different mix of copy and creative to determine what works best for you and attracts customers.

Contact Yearick-Millea to learn more about how we can help with your social media strategy. 

The Ever-Evolving Marketing Industry

“Whatever happened to traditional marketing?”

If you’ve been working in marketing and advertising for more than a decade, you’ve probably asked yourself that question once or twice. The simple answer: data sophistication. Several decades ago, businesses and organizations had access to a short-list of techniques that could help them promote their businesses. However, today’s marketing industry is constantly evolving with data sophistication, and in order for clients to achieve success, individual agencies must do the same.

There was an era when advertising agencies merely matched a radio or TV station’s ratings with their demographics and then placed the ad schedule for their clients. As the industry evolved, media buying became super-categorized by market share, programming, demographics and more. With buyer profiles and habits, household incomes, and so much more, marketing professionals began to have the capability to tally quantitative and qualitative data for use in their clients’ marketing plans, strategies and campaigns.

The industry is currently experiencing the power of the internet, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which can help marketing professionals target a diverse audience for clients. We now can learn about our audience’s online searching and buying habits, as well as social and engagement trends. These outlets have opened communication channels between brands and their audiences, keeping them totally connected 24/7.

Compared to all the data and statistics available these days, marketing research back then could be considered “cut-and-dried.” And over the next decade, even our current marketing strategies and techniques may seem ancient. That could seem a little intimidating, but there’s a reason why agencies like Yearick-Millea offer services to help businesses and brands make sense of this information in order to craft a successful marketing or public relations campaign. The industry is changing by the minute, and we are responsible for changing along with it.

5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

It’s no secret that public relations, marketing, advertising and other communications professionals write a lot. Here at Yearick-Millea, we work on a variety of writing assignments for clients, whether it’s in the form of press releases, social media posts, proposals, website content, blogs or slogans.

However, a writing assignment for a client could turn into a stressful experience if writer’s block hits. Instead of panicking, follow these five tips to help your ideas flow:

  1. Write down ideas—Carry a small notepad and pen with you so you can jot down notes and ideas as they come to you throughout the day, and be as detailed as possible. If you don’t want to carry anything extra, type ideas into your phone. When you’re ready to start writing, you can reference them. You might think an idea is too good to forget, but don’t risk it.
  1. Step away or sleep on it—If you don’t have an immediate deadline for the assignment, set it aside for a little bit. Eat your lunch or take a short walk break to clear your mind, or go to bed and start fresh in the morning (don’t forget to take note of ideas you might have during this time). The concept of stepping away should not be used as an excuse to procrastinate, though. Remember you’re taking a small break to help propel you in the writing process rather than simply trying to put it off until later.
  1. Organize your thoughts/ideas—Make an outline of the thoughts and ideas you’ve managed to compile. You might find that some are more cohesive while others don’t seem to fit. Focus on those that mesh well and start to build on them. However, you shouldn’t immediately discard the ideas that aren’t blending well. They might come in handy later on in the planning process when you have a better grasp on what you’re going to write about, or they might even be something you can work off of for a future project/assignment.
  1. Write—It might seem silly to tell someone to write when they’re having trouble writing, but this step can help get you into the practice of it. Start by writing freely about whatever comes to mind. Because these words aren’t intended for a client or publication, don’t worry about a specific topic or your grammar. You can also find other writing exercises online that can help get you in a creative mindset.
  1. Unplug—When you start writing, put your phone away, shut off email notifications and close all other tabs on your computer. A good writing streak could easily be broken by a minor distraction, which could bring back that writer’s block. WordPress and other applications have “distraction-free” features that block everything but your written words from the computer screen. Take advantage of similar functions if you find that you have a hard time focusing.

 What do you do when you have writer’s block? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Downtown

The City of Pittsburgh is no stranger to receiving accolades—whether it’s being named the most livable city, one of the most affordable cities or one of the best cities for recreation.

This week, Livability’s 2015 list of the top 10 best downtowns in America revealed what we at Yearick-Millea already know—Pittsburgh is No. 1. Livability applauds Pittsburgh’s low vacancy rates, its walkable neighborhoods and its high concentration of cultural amenities, including many that have made our own favorites list:

We’re proud to work in this city! As always, continue to check back for more posts highlighting our favorite Pittsburgh things.

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How to Advertise on Facebook

Advertising on Facebook is now an essential part of a brand’s strategy to get their message out on the social media platform, due to the way Facebook’s algorithm has impacted organic reach (the number of people who see unpaid brand content). If you aren’t already using Facebook advertising for your brand or business, you may be wondering where to get started.

Here at Yearick-Millea, we have a few recommendations for brands that we help to effectively advertise on Facebook:

• We generally recommend using two types of ads—a page likes ad and web traffic ad—but that essentially depends on what your business goals are. For example, if you are an e-commerce site, your goals could be tied to pushing a specific product instead of general website traffic.

• Use eye-catching creative and interesting, informative copy to encourage people to click on the ad – your ad only has a brief period of time to grab the attention of your targeted audience.

• Monitor ads and make necessary changes to images, copy or target audience if the ad is not performing well enough. However, let ads run for at least a month before making hasty changes. Also, keep in mind that your ad performance will depend on your ad budget – Don’t expect to double your audience size with a small budget.

Facebook ads are a relatively cheap way for companies to advertise online compared to other services such as Google Adwords. A budget of $200-$300 a month for a smaller business can provide a decent return for the chosen business goals.

Contact Yearick-Millea to learn more about how we can help with your social media strategy. 

Understanding the Difference: B2B vs. B2C

As we begin a new year, we’re incorporating many new yearly public relations plans for our clients. Those plans vary from client to client, especially depending upon whether the client is considered business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). Today we focus on the differences between the two and how that impacts marketing and public relations efforts.

 

B2B

B2B marketing involves the sale of a company’s product or service to another company. Typically, the marketing techniques of a B2B plan focus on relationship-building based on logic with the goal of developing prospects into customers.

Plans focus on the features of the product or service to educate the target audience. This can often include many different steps, involving in-depth marketing materials. For example, in an attempt to reach out to a target customer’s sales representatives, we may incorporate a photo gallery that showcases the product that our client is selling. Through that gallery, the target audience is able to view samples of a product and learn more about how that product can be implemented for their own use.

B2C

B2C marketing involves the sale of a product or service to the end customer. While the marketing techniques of a B2C plan focus on relationship-building, too, the plans are often based more on emotion with the goal of developing a shopper into a loyal buyer.

Consumers don’t necessarily have to always spend a lot of time to understand the benefits of a product or service, so they expect those benefits to be presented in a clear and direct manner. Rather than a photo gallery that showcases just the product that our client is selling, we might suggest implementing more techniques through social media, which is a great way to connect and continue to build a relationship with the target consumer. For example, a Pinterest board is a great resource to connect with a target audience while sharing valuable product information and driving traffic to the website and other social networks. A client can share a variety of visually-friendly information such as infographics, videos, articles, and possibly even coupons and contests, with its target audience.

As you can see, B2B and B2C marketing techniques are certainly based on the same principles, they are just executed in different ways.

Four Ways Public Relations & Social Media Should Work Together

It’s no secret that public relations and social media are (or should be) a crucial part of a company or brand’s strategy for success. Though both areas are different, they share the common goal of positively communicating on behalf of a company or brand, and both are becoming more and more intertwined.

Here are a couple of ways that they can work hand in hand:

  • Public relations professionals work hard to pitch ideas and content to media outlets on behalf of their clients. If pitches are successful and clients/products are featured in a news article, magazine, TV spot or blog post, share those successes on social media. Not only do you maximize exposure to that content, but it’s a way to make a connection with the media outlet that published it.
  • If your client has an online newsroom, share links to distributed press releases on their social media profiles. If you want to take it a bit further, repurpose the content in the press release. For example, if you distribute photo caption sheets, take some of those stellar images and post them on Pinterest while linking back to the release.
  • If your client is hosting an event, chances are that you’re distributing press releases, fliers and calendar postings to alert the masses. Consider creating an event on Facebook and inviting fans. You can gauge how many people are interested based on the RSVPs, and it’ll give your client, as the host, an opportunity to engage with the audience and answer any questions people might have. If your client is gearing up to attend an important industry event—like a trade show or expo— your press release might announce their attendance, but this is a great opportunity to make the announcement on LinkedIn or encourage them to join an existing event/thread on social media to make connections before they even get there.
  • Great engagement on social media profiles can lead to amazing public relations opportunities. Having a real conversation with someone and creating a relationship is what public relations is all about. These days, reporters and other media outlets can generate an entire story based on the conversations and communication they see on social media sites. Don’t be afraid to issue statements on your profile, and don’t be surprised if a media outlet highlights it in an article.

How else do you use public relations and social media together? Feel free to share in the comments section!