Amplify Relations

Anthony Mendoza – 5 Skills Accounts People Should Always be Improving

The role of an advertising account executive (we like to call them “AEs” for short) is a moving target. You’ll get a different answer from everyone you ask. Depending on the day, your teams will think you are the “defender of art” or the “killer of creativity”, your clients will think you are the knight in shining armor or a fool, and your parents still have no idea what to tell anyone about what you do.

“But what do you actually do?” – Everyone

 

There are so many aspects to this position that a good AE should be constantly learning and working to improve the different parts of their job. I’ve come up with 5 areas that AEs should be constantly strengthening,

 

  1. People Skills

 

 “I don’t know if anyone ever told you that half the time this business comes down to:

‘I don’t like that guy.’” – Roger Sterling

Half of our job is dealing with people. Clients, bosses, team members, etc. How you speak in various settings directly reflects on how you operate as an accounts executive. Your personality will come through in a pitch meeting, and you better believe that a crap personality from an AE can overshadow creative work no matter how wonderful it is. It’s your job to support the wonderful things your team are doing by being able to clearly communicate their work to your clients. If they like you, life is much easier.

There are dozens of books to read about how to effectively communicate, lean on your older peers, ask for critiques from your team members who regularly see you communicate. It’s impossible to be perfect, but you can strive to always be growing.

 

  1. Giving Feedback

This goes hand in hand with the first point. How you communicate with your team is just as important as with your clients. Feedback is going to come from your clients. Some of it won’t be positive. Your job is to give your team feedback in a way that effectively communicates the issues while maintaining and protecting positive team morale. The best way to do that is different depending on the makeup of your team. Different people receive feedback differently.

 

3. Listening

“You were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.” – Mothers everywhere

 

Listening is the most valuable skill an AE can have. In any meeting, and as you know there are lots of them, people will ask questions, give feedback, request things, etc. It is your job to hear those things, interpret them and disseminate that information to the proper parties. Being able to pick up on those things that can regularly be shared subtlety will get you very far.

I would argue that proper note taking would fall under listening as well. Don’t count on your awesome memory to take you through. Find a system that works for you and stick to it. Being able to recall everything that happened in a meeting is key to being able to keep your team, bosses and clients all on the same page.

 

  1. Organization

Not my desk, but potentially could be.

 

This is one of the things I’m constantly working on, organization. This job requires you to multi-task. It never fails that all of your clients to want everything all at the same time. Without an organizational system that works for you, something will get missed. I’m a fan of writing lists and having a physical representation of what my day/week looks like but find whatever works for you. I had a boss that organized her tasks by length of time required to complete them. That seemed to work well for her as her day was very scheduled out with meetings so being able to quickly find a task to complete in the 15 minutes before the next meeting was important to her.

When finding the right organizational system, it’s important to take company culture into account. Sticky notes in an office with fans might not be the best idea. In past jobs, I used a whiteboard but because I’m all over the place around the office due to meetings, that system wouldn’t work well here.

 

  1. Continuous education

An AE touches most aspects of the advertising business, from sales to creative and beyond, so it is important to at least have basic knowledge of all the departments you come into contact with. You don’t need to know how to knock out a beautiful digital ad (that’s creatives job) but knowing what work goes into it allows you to properly scope the work and maintain realistic client expectations. Keep up with trends in the industry, ask your team what the emerging thing in their field is, read blogs from industry experts so you can help your team create great campaigns and potentially upsell clients to make sure they’re on the cutting edge. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask you team about their expertise but being able to give a rough overview of the process to the client is always helpful if needed.

While that’s just 5 areas for you to look at, there are plenty more. There are numerous websites and Facebook pages devoted to the industry as a whole and professional development. I enjoy Adfreak, The Dieline, and Social Media Examiner. If you are constantly growing in one of these many areas, you can’t help but become a better AE.

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MeganAnthony Mendoza – 5 Skills Accounts People Should Always be Improving
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Elizabeth Brass – Coloring Inside The Lines: A Look at Brand Guides and Your Business

As kids we are taught to stay in the lines when coloring in a coloring book to create a seamless, cohesive, beautiful picture that your mom would hang on the fridge for everyone to see. When we first started at this, none of us were experts. It took practice and patience and quite frankly some of us rebelled against staying in the lines all together just for the sheer joy of knowing we were breaking the rules. Now imagine if you went outside the lines of your brands guidelines.

Brand guidelines, brand book, brand identity, style guide, brand standards, whatever you want to call it are much like staying in the lines of a page in a coloring book. Let’s talk about what a brand guideline is, why it is important to have one, and if your company should use one.

What is a Brand book?

A brand book is a set of guidelines that a company uses to create cohesion between platforms; such as print, web and mobile. It also creates a strong brand that should be more recognisable. They most often include rules on approved colors, typography, use of logos and logo variation, imagery, photography, stationery and how all these things can fit together.

Why is a Brand Guideline so important?

Simple – Brand consistency across all mediums. A brand guideline helps everyone working inside and outside the company stay on the same page. This creates brand consistency and can help your brand stand out among today’s growing oversaturation of media and imagery. For example, Amplify Relations’ brand colors are magenta, black and white. Below is an example of some of the ways we use our brand guidelines to help us stay consistent.

 

amplify-mockup

Now imagine if any of these colors were off or a different color was substituted.

amplify-mockup-wrong

As you can see pretty quickly, the brand’s integrity is lost.

In addition to brand consistency, a brand guideline will save your designer(s) a lot of wasted time correcting work that doesn’t have the right font, the colors are just off enough to be wrong, and using non-approved imagery.

Should Your Company Have a Brand Guideline?

Absolutely! It is always a good idea to have some sort of brand guideline. If you’re just a one man shop, it’s not as important because there is no need for communication. However, if your company plans to grow or expand to different mediums, you should have a set of guidelines for both existing and future employees (or vendors) to stay between the lines of the brand.
So although as kids we may have struggled with staying in the lines, with a detailed set of brand guidelines, there should be no reason anyone should be scribbling outside your brand’s lines.

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Amplify RelationsElizabeth Brass – Coloring Inside The Lines: A Look at Brand Guides and Your Business
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Media Mentions

Amplify Relations team members are active in our community and within our industry! Below you will some of the ideas, advice and tips given by Amplify Relations staff about their own experiences as advertising professionals.

Cornerstone on Demand –

Advice for a Lifetime: Employees Reveal Their Parents’ Best Career Tips

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College Recruiter

Why employers covet soft skills developed working in the restaurant and retail industry

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FitSmallBusiness.com

How to Use Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to Get Press For Your Small Business

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allBusiness

Are You a Time-Crunched Boss? 13 Proven Ways to Stay Connected With Your Staff

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Alli WilliamsMedia Mentions
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Alli Williams – What to Wear this Halloween: Advertising Agency Edition

Does your office get into the Halloween spirit when October rolls around? Whether you decide to throw a party, head to a haunted house, dress up for work, or just eat your weight in bite-sized candy bars, Halloween is the perfect time to celebrate all things spooky.

If you’re still stuck on what to wear on this ghostly holiday, don’t fret! Here is a complete list of costumes you can wear based on your role within an advertising agency:

Copywriter – Zombie
This is an easy one for copywriters, most the time they are already halfway to this look! Just give them 500 pages of copy to proofread and remove their caffeine; tada! You’ve got yourself a great zombie getup.

PR Director – Superhero
While PR pros wear many hats, one that they don so often is the crisis manager. Who do you turn to when your brand or your client’s brand is in crisis? There is only one true hero who can turn this unfavorable press around and ensure the brand name is not tarnished. I mean, PR professionals are everyday superheroes regularly, am I right?

Creative Director – Pirate
The Creative Director is the Captain of the art department ship. Along with his crew, the creative director works tirelessly to brave the rough waters of client art requests. While the creative director may not pillage and plunder like your average pirate, the two have one commonality: they are out-of-the-box thinkers.

Graphic Designer – A French Painter
A graphic designer is a modern day artist – in every sense of the word, so what Halloween costume is more fitting than the garb of another artist? While a graphic designer may work in media like Photoshop and Illustrator rather than paint and canvas, they still have that same imaginative eye and artistic ability that an old-school French painter has. Plus, their quirky, hipster handlebar mustache already fits with the ensemble!

Account Executive – Prisoner
As the mantra goes, “the client is always right.” The Account Executive lives by this law daily, and aims to provide the client with the best possible work for their specific goals. Where her coworkers may have a little more creative freedom, the Account Exec. will ensure that anything leaving her desk is approved by her bible – the client’s brand book.

Social Media Manager – Snapchat Filter
As the trendiest member of the marketing team, the Social Media Manager is hip to the latest crazes. Not only will the social media manager be able to use #nofilter on all her Halloween Instagram photos, she will also be among the most relevant costumes this year.

HR – Referee
Human Resources are there to keep all employees in line. Much like a referee, the HR department mediates employee relations and makes sure everything is running smoothly on a day-to-day basis; and this holiday, they even get an obnoxious whistle to keep everyone well-ordered!

Intern – Ghost
The intern is like the silent force that helps you get all your projects complete. While they don’t always get to do the most glamourous work, they help you with the nitty gritty details that are needed on any campaign. Plus, after about a semester with the company they effectively disappear (aka “ghost” you) in order to return to their normal studies.

BONUS*
Client – Angel/Devil
All of our clients come to us as perfect angels; but every once in a while, that devilish side can make an appearance.  It’s up to you and your team to make sure their angelic side comes out. A happy client makes for a happy agency.

I hope you were able to get some great costume ideas for Halloween this year. Do you have any to add to the list? Leave your ideas in the comments! Have a safe and happy Halloween.

Alli WilliamsAlli Williams – What to Wear this Halloween: Advertising Agency Edition
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Trinda Freese – The Power of Sound: How Earworms Get Stuck in Our Heads

I’ve recently taken to turning on the morning news as I get ready for work, telling myself I’m only leaving the TV on so my cat doesn’t get lonely during the day. Usually I don’t pay much attention to the background noise of the weatherman’s droning or the newscaster’s poor attempts at witty banter, forgetting all but the sound of their voices. One day I started humming an unfamiliar tune and tapped my fingers to an alien beat. It was stuck in my head all day, but I couldn’t place where I’d heard it before until I got home. The earworm that had been repeating itself in my head was none other than a jingle. Armed with 10 years of musical instruction and a single semester of Introduction to Psychology, I was able to figure out just what made this commercial stick in my brain.

Jingles and taglines are key to advertising. The measure of successful audio is the creation of an earworm that gets stuck in your head, coming back to you when you are approached with a buying decision. As different as taglines and jingles can be in use of techniques like melody and rhythm, they can be heard cross-platform and can use the other techniques of repetition and rhyme to make it memorable.

Approachability

Taglines and jingles must have a certain amount of approachability, an idea that appeals to all audiences. This humanizing of a brand allows audiences to easily connect with them, like with Sage, the college saving desert tortoise. In one of our most recent campaigns, we gave Sage a laugh all his own. This laugh has become a familiar sound in homes across the state, and is a friendly reminder about our client’s campaign.

Sage Tagline:

Rhyme

Rhymes can have more than one function. They serve as a great mnemonic device, because our brains can remember more content if the words sound alike. Rhymes can also create brand association, like this Stanley Steemer tagline and jingle, where cleaner is rhymed with Steemer, drawing the listener’s ear, and forming the conclusion that Stanley Steemer equals cleaner.

Stanley Steemer Jingle

Melody

The brain encodes different memories in different ways. A jingle is efficient at sticking in our head because we’re not just storing the words from the jingle in our minds, we’re also storing the underlying sounds. This may be the reason we can remember the tune of the jingle the first time we hear it, but not necessarily the words until we’ve been exposed a few times.

Nationwide Commercial:

Rhythm

Rhythm and melody almost belong in the same category because they generally coexist and perform the same functions, but in some cases a rhythm can exist without a melody. The jingle I hear every morning has a coexisting melody and rhythm, and a beat-box rhythm that is independent of the melody. This Kit-Kat jingle is an example of rhythm and melody coexisting, but the rhythm takes center stage, just reminding us of the familiar melody.

 

Repetition

Repetition is one of those techniques we consciously employ when trying to learn something, like a phone number or a name. Repetition helps turn our short-term memories into long-term ones. Repetition can be used in two ways. One, phrases are repeated within a jingle. Two, the jingle or tagline is heard several times.

 

Cross-Platform:

Unlike their predecessors, audio isn’t just utilized in the two traditional forms of television and radio. With new technologies the jingle and tagline can be successfully adapted for cross-platform use. The same audio I heard while getting ready this morning can also be heard via an audio streaming service on my way to work, on my lunch hour streaming video, or a pop-up ad on my phone screen while playing a game.

Taglines and jingles are just two of the numerous ways sound is used in successful advertising. They have the responsibility of inherently belonging to a brand and the unique capability to get stuck in our heads.

Amplify RelationsTrinda Freese – The Power of Sound: How Earworms Get Stuck in Our Heads
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Robby Schlesinger – My First Week in Review: Life Among the Amplify Relations Tribe

As I walked from my car to the steps of my new office, I felt like Jane Goodall must have before plunging into the wilds of Tanzania to live among the great apes. Granted, downtown Reno isn’t much like Tanzania, nor are my coworkers much like chimpanzees (for the most part). I just mean I felt the same sense of trepidation I imagined she felt before setting off on a new adventure, to live among a group she did not belong to.  At least the chimps didn’t expect Goodall to actually do anything. I on the other hand had been hired to do a job, and if I was going to do it right, I would have to study the behavior of this small troop, learn their ways, and blend in so that they might accept me as their own. Though my time with them has been brief up to this point, I’ve learned much from them already.


 

Day 1:

Field notes in hand, I cut my way through the foliage of the lobby (maintenance really didn’t like that), arriving to face the tribe’s sentry and gatekeeper, the one I’ve come to know as “Colby.”  There was no fear in his eyes when he saw me. To my surprise, instead of raising an alarm warning of an outsider, he instead greeted me warmly and offered me something called coffee, one of the tribe’s talismans.  He guided me through the bright passageway to the den of one of their great chieftains, she who I now know as “Megan.”

I greeted her in the customary way befitting one of her status, with a handshake and a respectful utterance of “How’s it going?” She took her seat and gestured for me to do the same, then proceeded to lay out a complex array of scrolls over her desk, something she called “new-hire paperwork.” I was astonished; they had a written language! What’s more, it seems my new role would be that of a scribe, or “copywriter,” a position Megan explained to me in detail, along with words like “PPO” and “Wellness Program” and other strange things I did not understand.

The scrolls bearing my signature, Megan led me further through the halls, arriving to another den that was to be mine, with a desk and a flat silver device with a symbol of an apple emblazoned on it surface. Their advanced technology surprises me; clearly, they have had contact with the outside world before.

Day 2:

The troop is small, numbering no more than ten. These findings will put to rest previous assumptions of the PR professional being a carnivorous selfish spin-doctor; they work together for the good of the tribe, collaborating on everything, and depend on each other for survival. Initially, I was worried about overcoming the language barrier, but I quickly learned how easy it was to understand their strange jargon, and soon I was joining in multiple instances of a ritual they call “brainstorming.”

Day 3:

No day is like the one before here; the tribe’s activities shift throughout the day, and mine with them. In the morning, I write a short story about cigars, and by late afternoon, I write a full course plan. In between, I meet with the shamans upstairs, those they call the “creative team,” discussing character archetypes, plotlines, and production budgets. Later, I gather around a great table with another subgroup in the tribe, the “PR team,” and discuss course curriculums, assessment rubrics, and one of their idols, a tortoise god they call “Sage.”

Every task is performed with a sense of urgency. I find myself constantly accepting calendar invites, splitting my time between writing in my den and attending meetings. Far from being left to work alone, I am offered help and guidance from each member in turn; they are all eager to teach me their ways.

Day 4:

Today we celebrated the tall, ancient one called “Patrick.” All week he has worn a series of the most outlandish headwear, though as a display of dominance or for punishment for incurring the wrath of those they call “the Alli’s,” I cannot say and dare not ask. We surround him at the table where they hold conference, with offerings of sweet bread adorned with many candles and three old beers found in the back of the fridge. He exhales with an impressive vigor for one as old as he and extinguishes the flames, divvying the sweets equally among all of us gathered there, but keeping the beer for himself, as is his right as an elder of the tribe.

Day 5:

I spend the morning gathering images of cats asking for cheeseburgers to be somehow “shared” the following week, before joining the tribe at their temple, a bar and grill across the street called “Brickies.” There, they invite me to join in a ceremonial cleansing of the sins, buying rounds of drinks as penance for mistakes made that week. We toast our victories, and they share with me stories of the tribe’s past. I am among warriors, I realize, and it is with great honor that they accept me into their ranks.


 

Clearly, further research is necessary to fully understand the ways of the tribe at Amplify Relations. I will continue to work among them, to study their behavior, and to contribute to the group to the best of my ability. For science. And a paycheck too, but mostly for science.

MeganRobby Schlesinger – My First Week in Review: Life Among the Amplify Relations Tribe
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Alli Williams – Make it Newsy: Finding Your Angle When Pitching News to the Media

The media is unpredictable. A hot button issue one day will likely be old news the next. With these ever changing preferences, it can be difficult to latch on to what’s trending at any given time. This is exactly what PR professionals are doing on a daily basis. In order to obtain news placements for your clients, you have to know what’s currently in the news. So how do you make a press release, pitch, or story idea “newsy”?

  1. Read the News

Don’t only read the news, read the articles written by reporters who you want to pitch to. You will get a sense for what kind of topics they cover, their writing style, and the kinds of things they will actually print. You can easily tailor a pitch or press release to a specific reporter or publication. The more relevant it is to the reporter, the more likely your piece will make it to print.

  1. Don’t Spam Journalists

You want your press releases to be targeted. If you are arbitrarily sending story pitches blindly to an email list, you WILL get ignored. Worse yet, any future press release you send to a journalist you spammed before may end up seeing the same fate, whether you tailored it to the publication or not.

In my toolbox: At Amplify Relations, we use the program Cision PR, which allows users to search for journalists by location, publication type, job title, and beat. This way, I can easily narrow down who I want to pitch a press release or news story too. I can even set up automatic emails with stories by specific reporters, from certain publications, or containing a set of keywords!

  1. Add Quotes

Quotes will humanize a press release, and will give more credibility to the content of your story. Plus, it’s one less source a reporter will have to seek out themselves to create their story. Offer pertinent quotes with good information and substance, and your reporter will likely publish at least fragments of your original press release.

  1. 5 W’s

Within the first paragraph, the reporter who received your press release should be able to answer the 5 W’s: Who? What? When? Where? Why? In reviewing your press release, ask yourself these 5 W’s. There’s no news angle if these questions can’t be answered.

  1. Recognize Deadlines

We all work off of deadlines, but the most important deadline to keep in mind is the journalist’s. If your release is timely, you will want to make sure to give plenty of lead time for a reporter to cover it. Don’t send something untimely or “breaking” and give no wiggle room for the reporter to fit into their print schedule. This is how your once newsy press release will become old news.

It’s important to remember that journalists scan across dozens – sometimes even hundreds – of news pitches and press releases daily. To avoid instant-deletion, realize that you need to pitch something worth reading – something newsy. Find your angle and go with it, just make sure that it’s interesting not only to you and your client, but to your client’s audience, your journalist, and your journalist’s readership.

Amplify RelationsAlli Williams – Make it Newsy: Finding Your Angle When Pitching News to the Media
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Megan Bedera: Why We’re Giving Back

Amplify Relations celebrated its birthday last month, and it got us thinking about the future. Bryan and I founded Amplify Relations in 2009 out of necessity during the worst part of the recession, and now we are a growing and thriving business that is creating jobs and generating positive economic impact.

But as we reflected on the future, we wanted to do more. Bryan and I already volunteer in the community; but it occurred to us that if only the two of us increased the hours we give, we would simply be adding a few more a year, or alternatively, we could extend the invitation to volunteer to the entire Amplify Relations team and multiply the number of volunteer hours we can give in the communities where we work. We decided to multiply, so starting in 2016, Amplify Relations will be incentivizing our employees by providing two paid days for volunteering each year with a 501c3 of their choice. Today, that equals 160 hours.

Amplify Relations has barely outgrown the title of “startup”, and we run a lean operation, but this is important to us, and it should be important to you, too. Look for the character of a company through actions, not words. You have a choice when you select a company to work with, and we firmly believe that you get better products from companies that care.

Being a good community partner is part of Amplify Relations core values, and our paid volunteering comes in addition to providing good, high-paying jobs. Since our beginning, we have paid even our lowest paid employees enough that they didn’t need nor qualify for food stamps or government assistance. Amplify Relations employees also receive paid days off for sick or vacation, paid disability to cover time off for surgery or pregnancy, health, dental and vision insurance, and now paid volunteering.

We are truly blessed, and now it’s our turn to pay it forward. Every day the Amplify Relations team works on projects for businesses, governments and political clients that have the potential to change the world, but volunteering is one small action we can take to make a difference in the biggest way, by doing work that directly impacts our communities.

Amplify RelationsMegan Bedera: Why We’re Giving Back
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Reno Advertising Agency Founders Accepted to Join Invite-Only Young Entrepreneurs Council

Reno, Nev. – Bryan and Megan Bedera, co-founders of Reno startup Amplify Relations, were welcomed into Young Entrepreneurs Council last week, an invitation-only organization of America’s top business leaders under the age of 40.

“We are honored and excited to be welcomed into such a prestigious group of the nations leading business minds,” said Bryan Bedera. “Seven years ago when we opened Amplify Relations, our goal was only to make enough money to pay the rent, and this milestone reminds us we are a position to lead our community.”

Amplify RelationsReno Advertising Agency Founders Accepted to Join Invite-Only Young Entrepreneurs Council
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