The mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership and Hodges Digital Strategies.
May 16, 2013 | by Lindsay Grant
It’s always nice when you can add “award-winning” in front of words like ‘agency’ and ‘campaign.’ And last night at the Virginia Public Relations Awards, put on by PRSA Richmond, we were honored to be able to add some more award-winning work to our portfolio.
Kudos to all of our PRSA friends who took home top awards this week. We may not have taken home Best in Show this year but we’re grateful to our clients who brought us these interesting and fun projects. Below are some details on our award-winning clients and work that took home a few statues last night.
- Award of Excellence
- Move Pro iPhone/iPad app
- Client: Hilldrup Moving & Storage
Hodges Digital Strategies and Hilldrup developed a user-friendly app that adhered to Hilldrup’s brand standards and could be developed within the parameters of the iOS. Based on frequent customer requests, the app was built to include helpful features like storage box inventory, shipment tracking, currency convertor, friends & family new address notifications, how-to moving articles and videos, and links to set up local utilities. With more than 2,000 downloads since launching, the app averages 208 downloads per month.
- Award of Merit
- Creative Capital: Fill in the Blank Corridor
Josh Dare thinks Interstate 95 could use a makeover – especially the part that runs through the heart of Downtown Richmond. Once he had this idea, he got to work. An OpEd in the Richmond Times-Dispatch started the conversation and from there the idea has spread. Multiple articles appeared after his initial OpEd, he received countless emails in support of the idea and a committee has been formed among some of Richmond’s elite influencers to make the corridor represent Richmond’s rich history, bright future and unique personality.
- Award of Merit
- Small Voices, Big Dreams
- Client: ChildFund International
Small Voices, Big Dreams is the ChildFund International’s annual survey that identifies the hopes, dreams and fears of children across the globe. The Hodges Partnership used the new data and was able to secure interviews and stories with Reuters, CBS Radio, USA Today, Richmond Times-Dispatch and several other outlets.
- Award of Merit
- Clear Skies Ahead 2012 Newsletter Campaign
- Client: Chesapeake Bank
Long-time client Chesapeake Bank asked The Hodges Partnership to help improve its readership metrics for its Clear Skies Ahead newsletter. By setting achievable click-through and open rate goals (25% and 11%, respectively) and a incorporating a fresh approach to content that touched on key messages and, more importantly, topics that the readership cared about, the needle began to move. Since the new changes were implemented, the Clear Skies Ahead newsletters surpassed click-through and open rate goals each month.0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
May 02, 2013 | by Megan Semmelman
As college graduations take place across the country, many eager applicants are searching for work. As someone who was in that position two years ago (in a new-to-me city with zero connections – might I add), I thought I’d pass along practices that helped me most when starting out my search.
Get ahead of a company’s needs.
Take the approach of being the person a company needs before they even know they need someone. You never know what’s happening internally at a company or how close they are to signing a new client – but if you put yourself on the radar before that need even occurs, it will be easy for an employer to think of you first and see your value.
Search for relationships, not jobs.
A job search is better when it’s a relationship search. Job seekers often make the job search all about them by stating what they need and what they are looking for. I found the most success when I made my search about the person I was meeting with – not a position.
When you’re sending a message to someone asking for a meeting, discuss why their company interests you, mention their recent accomplishments and tell them a little about yourself. This approach will set you apart, because it shows that you truly care about what the company is doing and their successes, which is one of the key rules of any human interaction. It’s simple, but people like it when you take an interest in them and what they’re doing.
Be prepared that finding a job takes time – a lot of it.
The old adage that “it’s all about who you know” rings particularly true when you’re looking for work – and getting to know everyone you should know can take a lot of time. It seems like many recent graduates don’t want to “waste anyone’s time” so choose not to take this step - but many seasoned professionals are eager to meet with newcomers to the field. Take these meetings seriously by dressing appropriately, taking notes, asking intelligent questions and doing your research.
Bonus tip: Ask every person you meet with for one or two more people that might be good for you to meet, and your network will quickly build.
Follow up – with something meaningful.
After informational meetings, the ending remarks are often to “stay in touch” – and you shouldn’t take that lightly! When you start to build relationships, keep them going in a persistent, albeit respectful, manner. Find a way or reason to reach out at least once a month. Mention a new client of theirs, a big media hit or something else relevant to their specific industry. Just mentioning an interesting news article that you think your potential employer might find interesting will help you stand out from the crowd.
Remember the basics!
When you’re trying to stand out from other candidates, the little things are, in fact, the big things. Be punctual for a meeting or a phone call and always send a thank you note to someone who has given you their time. If you’re really trying to impress the person you met with, then send a quick email thank you note the same day of your meeting and drop a handwritten thank you note in the mail. Think ahead and have thoughtful responses to questions that may come up, such as “Why are you interested in a particular field?” (Bonus tip: In PR, the answer better be something other than the fact that you’re a ‘people person.’)0 commentsPosted in: The Hodges Partnership
April 10, 2013 | by Jon Newman
It should come as no surprise to anyone that we throw around a lot of baseball terms and phrases at The Hodges Partnership. What you may not know is that a couple of us are closet Trekkies, so on occasion the random Star Trek reference is tossed about. When that happens in a meeting about three or four of us get the meaning. Sort of like our inside version of The Big Bang Theory.
The title of this post is a reference to taking the next step into uncharted territory (or The Undiscovered Country, sorry…I’ll stop).
So it is with great personal excitement that I introduce Mike Broggie as the COO of Hodges Digital Strategies and VP, Business Development of The Hodges Partnership. This is uncharted territory since this is the first time in the history of both companies that we are dedicating a person primarily to business development.
Mike has a long history of “biz dev” success, working for a number of technology and marketing companies on the west coast. In each case, Mike’s new business approach translated to substantial growth for those companies. Some of you in Richmond may already know Mike as he’s spent the last year or so networking in town as he plans to move his family from California to Richmond later in the year.
I’m never shy about bragging on our folks. They are world class. They get results for clients. On the THP side, we stand toe-to-toe with the national media relations shops. Ditto in our writing skills and without question on content creation and social media management. We owe it to them to take THP to the next step. Mike will help us expand our network and connections, not only in Virginia, but around the country and the world.
For HDS, our partner and CEO Sonali Shetty is a brilliant technology mind. She and Mike have already refocused Hodges Digital. Our new website reflects our focus on larger and more complex Web projects for institutional and corporate clients as well as mobile apps and mobilization projects. Again, we will rely on Mike and his network to expand HDS’s geographic reach while Sonali and her team perform their digital magic.
This doesn’t mean we will forsake our hometown. In fact, as we look at our history we’ve done our best work taking entrepreneurial clients like Snagajob, Ledbury, Reginald’s Homemade, Collared Greens and countless others and help put them on the national map. We will continue to look for the “next Snagajob” to help it craft its message and shoot for the stars. In coming weeks, we’ll be promoting a Work It, Richmond special section of entrepreneurs and we’ll begin working with 804RVA and Lighthouse Labs to help new companies take their first steps.
As with any new voyage, whether it’s to new worlds in space or into a new world of business, there is that “pit in the bottom of your stomach” feeling that I’m sure Kirk or Picard felt often.
But as we have done on many occasions in 11 years and the creation of two companies, we look forward with great excitement and great anticipation.
With a final nod to Star Trek (TNG to be specific), there’s only one word that seems appropriate as we shift into warp speed.
(OK, I’m done now).1 commentPosted in: Agency Management | Hodges Digital Strategies | The Hodges Partnership
March 14, 2013 | by Lindsay Grant
We’ve all heard the quote and seen the bumper sticker, “well-behaved women rarely make history.” For the purpose of this conversation let’s tweak it to “well-behaved women rarely make more money.”
It’s an interesting decision-making process one goes through to determine whether or not to weigh in on a controversial subject that the country has been talking about since Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, was first introduced to us. My initial thought was “I think I can speak to that … but should I?” And yes, I can see the irony in that.
Perhaps that’s my Gen X mentalities overpowering my Gen Y side. After all, I consider myself a “cusper” with traits of both generational groups. And if I had to guess, the workplace will be very different in the coming years as the Millennials – both men and women – are promoted. This new wave was encouraged to reach for the stars, speak up and “ask why.” Truth be told, I think we've (they've) already shaken up the workplace but as of right now it’s only the Gen Xers getting book deals expressing their thoughts on women not speaking up.
Isn't that the whole problem? Women in the workplace are not speaking up and reaching for what’s rightfully theirs? Here I am with a perspective on how to break into the “Boys’ Club” and my natural ladylike teachings try to shush me. We’re all taught to mind our manners but females especially so. But, we shouldn't rely on Cotillion to guide our manners at the business table.
In light of Lean In, I've been waiting for [insert some Fortune 500 company CEO] to stand up and declare that they’re the outlier, and that women at their company are paid equally and adequately for their work. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet. Meaning that it’s our time, ladies, to stop always acting demure and reserved at the office and start going after what’s rightfully ours.
I certainly don’t want manners to be eliminated from the workplace, but it is time for women to know it’s OK to step out of your comfort zone and speak up if you think you can bring value to a situation. Over the past few days we've heard statistics like 60% of women have never asked for a raise and less than 20% negotiated their current salary. To me, a single woman, that’s frightening. Waiting for others to naturally notice our hard work and insist on paying us more isn't going to help us get ahead and earn a seat at the table – being strategically assertive will.
I have the fortune of working for a small business that does, in fact, care about what I have to say and gives me a seat at the table and subsequently does offer me a fair pay. All that aside, I still make it a practice to be strategically assertive, know and continue to prove my value, not be bull-dozed and always look for opportunities to benefit the agency because I’m young and may not be at my final professional destination (not a threat, Hodgers).
For those women who need additional tips to raise workplace confidence before entering into your next review, I’d recommend reminding yourself of your subject matter expertise, practicing those hard conversations on others (both males and females), assuring yourself that you deserve the new position and/or increased pay and even looking into some negotiating techniques (they’re out there, and they work). Whether this increase will better arrange for retirement plans, better situate you in your current place in life or allow you take the trip you dream about on the way to the office – it’s about confidence and you have to believe that you deserve more.
We’ve had countless examples of women who have changed the world and yet we’re still fighting for workplace equality for women in 2013 – fifty years after the Equal Pay for Women Act of 1963.
I guess there’s no better month to re-start this conversation than March during Women’s History Month. Now, honor those women we remember in March by sharing your go-to negotiating tips. Just think, your tip may inspire your fellow females to speak up.1 commentPosted in: The Hodges Partnership
March 06, 2013 | by Jon Newman
It’s rare that I use this space to brag about our work, but brag I must.
We just added a new case study to the front of our website. It’s the first thing most people see when coming to the site so the work and results need to literally jump out at you.
We take pride in working for all our clients, but we especially love taking small relatively unknown brands and putting them on the national radar. Our prime example of that is the work we’ve done for about ten years for Snagajob. We hoping that our work with Reginald’s will last that long as well.
Our client, Andrew Broocker, has created an exceptional line of peanut (and other nut) butter products.
Born literally out of his personal experience and story, the all-natural product line is not only healthy but tastes great.
Our staggered media relations approach focused first locally in the Richmond area and then grew to a national push with a focus on online food media and bloggers that could help move the sales needle.
That national push has resulted in coverage by SHAPE, Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Tasting Table, CHOW.com and Daily Candy. But the big “hits” came when Kathie Lee and Hoda ate the product on the Today Show and most recently when Prevention named Reginald’s as one of the top-100 cleanest products of 2013.
I wish I could say there’s a magic to this success. There’s not.
If there’s one thing I think we at THP do better than anyone (and I do mean anyone) it’s national media relations. That’s a mixture of research, packaging, writing, prompting, cajoling and even sometimes praying. But we’re extremely good at it. Period. These results speak for themselves.
So congrats to the Reginald’s team of Lindsay Grant, Cameron McPherson and Megan Semmelman (Megan is a media relations Ninja, btw) for all the great work.
And thanks and congrats to Andrew for making such a great product because without that all the praying in the world wouldn’t make our media relations efforts successful.1 commentPosted in: Media Relations | Public Relations | The Hodges Partnership
January 15, 2013 | by Julia Salatino
After reading John Reid Blackwell’s article about Millennials struggling to get their ideal job after graduating college, it got me thinking about the job hunt and wondering what students are doing correctly but more importantly, what they are doing wrong (or not doing at all) as they search.
I’m fortunate to work at a company where not only do my bosses regularly give their time to students and recent grads but encourage the rest of us to do the same. Additionally, for the last few years I was the Students Relations Chair for PRSA Richmond and in that role, met with many students to review resumes, help build cover letters, talk about marrying interests with internships and of course, try to answer the million dollar question – how do I land a job?
Here are some of the tips I give to the future members of our profession:
Don’t wait until the last minute.
If you’re graduating in May and start applying for jobs in April with the hopes of landing something by June… good luck. Applying for a job takes much more effort than sending an email or two. Consider it this way: if two people with the exact same qualifications are applying for the same job but one starts 4 months before they graduate while the other applies a month or two out, who do you think will grab the attention of the hiring manager?
Location, location, location.
Determine what cities are in your top three and start your research there. It is certainly harder to find a job in a city that you don't know but it’s absolutely NOT impossible to find a job (and a great one at that) in a city that’s new to you.
At the beginning of your job hunt, Google will be your best friend. Once you’ve decided on where you want to be, start putting that keyboard to work and compile lists of potential employers in each city. Don’t be put off by companies that don’t have listings online – this is a huge mistake. Many companies, especially small agencies (like THP), rely on recommendations from colleagues over posting a job opportunity on their website.
Cover letters, resumes and writing samples… oh my!
As you’re doing your company research, don’t neglect the items that will actually get your foot in the door and grab people’s attention. Make sure that your resume and cover letter are in tip top shape and that you have writing samples ready to provide as well. These writing samples can include articles you’ve written for student newspapers, projects you’ve completed at internships or materials you have from your PR writing course(s).
Once you’ve made your list, it’s time for the fun stuff. Unless you’re applying for a specific job, informational interviews are THE way to go. The point of the meeting is to a) introduce yourself to PR professionals thus beginning to build your network, b) get advice on other companies to look at/people to talk to and c) become a top-of-mind job candidate both for the person you’re meeting with as well as potentially their peers.
Remember a few other things when doing an informational:
- Keep in mind that the people who have agreed to speak with you are taking time out of their busy schedules so do them a courtesy and take notes.
- Be prepared to ask them a handful of questions about their company, the PR community in that city, what would help you stand out against other applicants, etc.
- Finally, don’t leave without asking for the names of three other people to reach out to. Most folks will likely give you names throughout the meeting but if they don’t, it is absolutely 100% okay to ask for this.
This is a term that will play a role throughout your PR career so best to become familiar with it now. At the very least, send a thank you email after every informational or job interview (preferably within 24 hours). If you want to make more of an impact, drop a handwritten note in the mail. Also, don’t be afraid to follow-up with people you’ve met with for informational interviews every few months; this will keep you top of mind and will also help build the relationship.
That’s it (for now) on job hunting; I’ll get off my soapbox. Good luck my future PR peers and may the force be with you.
If you have other tips to add, please leave them in the comment box. Or, if you think I’m totally off my rocker, you can leave those comments too.0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
January 08, 2013 | by Jon Newman
(Editor’s note: For those offended by the language in the headline, I truly apologize, but it reflects my true feelings on the subject. -JN)
Not the Happy New Year, let’s gear up for the long haul blog topic you expected to lead off the year, huh?
Well sorry, but sometimes you got to go with your gut and my gut is wrenching about this these days.
Before the holidays, I said goodbye to a long-time THP client and friend who is leaving his job to focus on the job of getting better as his battle against the disease reaches its next level.
Another client (and friend, you see a theme coming here) has been working through similar challenges and begins 2013 trying to jump over another hurdle in this fight.
In recent days one of Richmond marketing’s local (and national) icons wrote on his blog of his continuing fight and his wife’s recent diagnosis.
F*@k Cancer, it sucks.
Our business life is hard enough just trying to be successful for our companies and for each other. Many people succeed by drawing a line between themselves and their clients. For them, these relationships are strictly business.
I’m not one of those people. For me, my best client relationships are ones that develop over time into deep friendships. Just think of your own relationships. You try hard for clients, but you may try even harder for your friends because you don’t want to disappoint them. Friends can “call bullshit” on one another. True friends deal straight and honestly with one another.
These are the relationships I have with the clients I mentioned above. And while their continuing battles may ultimately have a negative impact on my business, because they are friends I really don’t care about that. All I want for them is to get better. The business stuff will take care of itself. It always does.
In the meantime, F*@k Cancer. I’ll be spending a lot of 2013 on figuring out ways of doing how I can do just that.1 commentPosted in: The Hodges Partnership
December 19, 2012 | by Jon Newman
This will be my last post until after the new year (we’ll get to New Year’s resolutions in a second). So from all of us to all of you here’s our THP Happy Hodgerdays eCard with tons of stuff about us, what we like during the holidays and some appropriate tunes from our friends at Spotify. Have fun, share the card, be safe during the holidays.
On the flip side you’ll be hearing a lot more from us, a variety of us. We’re putting a blog schedule together. We’ve been gratified by the feedback we’ve received to date as more Hodgers have added their voices to the blog and weighed in on the PR/social topics of the day.
Overall, we’ve been very focused on content. The content we produce for ourselves and our clients and the content our clients produce every day.
The PR and social world have morphed into one giant communications channel with less lines drawn separating the two.
Our goal for the coming year is to think less about the separate world of PR, social and digital and much more about the content we’re producing and how it can best be spread across this entire communications spectrum.
We’ve had too many conversations recently with people who are “over contenting.” This means they create specific content for each channel and think “ne’er the twain shall meet.” Well friends I’m here to tell you that nowhere in the PR rule book does it say that content specifically written for the media can’t also end up on your website. Or that great picture that you just posted to Facebook, no you shouldn’t post it on your Pinterest board.
Too many people still don’t understand that content is meant to be shared across all channels since NO ONE IS CONSUMING EVERY CHANNEL YOU ARE CREATING.
(Sorry for yelling)
You are making too much work for yourselves and more times than not you are diluting your brand and message instead of doing what you should be doing and keeping the message and imagery as tight and consistent as possible.
We are the content creators, it is our job to extract that content from the source, make it clear and consistent, and then pitch, post, produce, etc. Once you do that, don’t recreate the wheel, just tailor that content to the platform and the audience.
Isn’t that what PR people are supposed to do?
Comment please and Happy Holidays.0 commentsPosted in: The Hodges Partnership
December 11, 2012 | by Tony Scida
(Editor's note: BTW, I always refer to it as news release. The old TV guy in me. -JN)
Late last month the intersection of technology, journalism and public relations was sent into a tizzy when a number of news sites fell for a phony press release posted to PRWeb in an apparent attempt to game the stock market. While other postulate whether this is a nail in the coffin of PR, journalism, Google News or all of the above (and what’s next), I wanted to talk a bit about the document that got this whole mess started and how we think about them here at The Hodges Partnership: the press release (or news release, if you prefer).
We certainly produce our share of press releases around here, usually in close collaboration with our clients, and they have their uses, including securing approval from corporate legal departments, satisfying federal regulations and highlighting basic facts about a company or campaign. In fact, we create enough press releases that we put a press release pun on our doorbell sign. But, at least for the way we practice PR, the news release is not usually the center of our media relations strategy.
Media relations, stated as simply as possible, is about:
- Helping journalists understand what our clients do, so they can decide whether to write about them
- Helping our clients hone their message or generate newsworthy content that supports their business goals
In some cases, a press release may be the right tactic to achieve those goals, but more often it requires a pitch targeted to specific journalists. If all goes well, we help the journalist do their job and help our clients get their message out to the world. And of course, as important as media relations remains, it is only one tactic in a company’s public relations and social media programs.0 commentsPosted in: Media Relations | Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
December 06, 2012 | by Cameron McPherson
(Editor's note: Cam is one of The Hodges Partnership's media relations superstars. Much of his recent work has been focused on international media for clients like ChildFund International. This post is a result of his recent success.) -JN
One of the neatest things about technology advances is how it lets news organizations connect with sources and experts more quickly. With Skype, Google+ and other video calling tools, news networks like CNN and MSNBC can get an expert on the air in a matter of minutes.
A video interview via Skype or Google+ is much like a traditional studio interview. There are some extra things to keep in mind though. When we’re coordinating Skype interviews for clients, here are some of the tips we share:
Do not look at your screen: You will look weird. Instead, look at your computer’s camera, so it appears to viewers that you are looking at them. Put a bright sticker or another marker to draw your eyes to the camera.
Know your talking points: Just because you’re behind a computer and not in the studio, does not mean you can cheat by including notes on your monitor. This is broadcast television – the big leagues! If your eyes are reading from the screen, it will look awkward to viewers.
Turn off notifications: Remember how I told you to look at the camera? Turn off email and other desktop notifications that may pop up and distract you during your interview. Also, silence cell phones to avoid unwanted background noise.
Create a backdrop: This sounds like common sense, but if you’re doing an interview from your office, be sure to clean up. It’s also an opportunity to include organization signage in the background. If you have a poster or sign with the organization’s logo, put it behind you.
Practice: Don’t wait until you’re live on CNN to see how you look on the video feed. Practice with a friend or coworker to make sure you and your surroundings look top notch. Test lighting to make sure it’s not too dark or bright. It’s also a chance to practice looking at the camera, something that may not feel “natural.”
Wardrobe: The safest color to wear for television interviews is blue. In general, do not wear white, black, red or patterns, and avoid colors that blend into the background.
Headphones: Ideally, you’ll be able to hear the anchor without the use of headphones, but have them around just in case. Use a pair of discreet, white or black headphones, if needed.
Reduce background noise: Turn the television off. Not only will it create background noise, but the short delay can distract interviewees. Additionally, be aware of other outside sounds that could interfere. Closing your office door is always a good idea.
A Professional Skype username: While it’s unlikely your username will be displayed on the screen, the producer will need to connect with you beforehand. Nothing takes away from an expert’s credibility like “BarbieGirl99.” I suggest a username with your full name and organization.
Keep IT on standby: This is technology you’re dealing with – it will break when you need it most! Make sure you have someone around who can fix any issues that pop up.
Producers will often call and do a sound check before broadcast to make sure the connection is solid. Feel free to ask any questions or concerns you may have at this time. But, remember: you’re an expert and you’re going to do great!
Do you have any tips for the perfect Skype interview? Please share in the comments below.0 commentsPosted in: Media Relations | Public Relations | Social Media | The Hodges Partnership