What People Can Learn from Thanksgiving


For marketing professionals, it’s easy to take the “superficial” route for every holiday-themed blog post and make a listicle of social media blunders or share heartwarming stories of brands who give back to their customers. But, as I look out the window feeling gratitude for the rain that has finally come to drought-ridden California, I choose the road less taken. The end-of-the-year holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year (yes, even more than summertime!). And it’s not the holiday sales that have me excited; I’m talking about having a bit of time to reflect, give thanks, and create better relationships and stronger communities.

So, while you’re eating turkey and yams this Thursday (or for my fellow Filipinos, sinigang and every pork dish imaginable), I hope you take at least a bit of time to reflect on your good fortune, appreciate your loved ones, and think about approaching the whole holiday season in a more grateful, expansive way. Here are a few things that I will be reflecting on later this week:

Sometimes, the best reaction to misfortune is to celebrate what you still have.

I think the Pilgrims knew what they were doing when, after losing over 100 people on their journey to America, they brought the community together to give thanks and appreciate what they still had. Let’s face it: in a time of crisis, loss, and uncertainty, we should bring people together, provide hope when possible, and be thankful for what we still have. In the corporate world, in times of crisis there is often a tendency to paper over, deflect, or avoid discussion about the crisis at hand. I’m grateful for companies that don’t do that, companies like Johnson & Johnson and Odwalla that suffered misfortune but celebrated what they still had and made the most of it. People continue to take Tylenol and drink Odwalla juices.

We can all learn from each other, especially when the holiday spirit is strong.

Anyone who has sat through a U.S. history class has been told about the long, sad history of Native Americans and their treatment by colonists and Americans throughout the centuries. One of the highlights in early American history, however, is the First Thanksgiving, when Pilgrims invited their new neighbors to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Relations were tense, so extending a hand of friendship was necessary to achieve peaceful coexistence; but, beyond that, both parties benefitted in learning each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and cultural differences. In providing a bridge to network and communicate, the Pilgrims and Native Americans provided the other group the opportunity to learn how they can better work together.

Likewise, professionals (PR, marketing, and otherwise) can take advantage of the holiday spirit to send warm wishes to colleagues and distant acquaintances alike. Befriending actual competitors gets messy when office talk works its way into the conversation, but the holidays provide an opportunity to send a thoughtfully written card, a LinkedIn invitation with a personalized holiday greeting, or a request for a coffee date. Thanksgiving provides the perfect context for getting to know each other on a basic, human level. And, if you walk away with mutual respect for each other (or a new friend), what can be better than that?

There may be better ways of doing business you’ve not considered.

Because of Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims learned new methods of doing business and farming sustainably in the New World. (A popular trick that comes to mind is the planting of corn with buried fish heads for nutrients.) We marketing professionals are always attending trade shows, conferences, and other networking events to reap the same benefits. Okay, maybe not to learn cool gardening tricks, but you know what I mean — to grow our wealth of information, pro tips, etc. That said, anyone who has been to networking events knows how difficult it can be to get individuals to open up or to follow up with a business card exchange for coffee afterwards. This holiday season, reach out to the people you’ve been meaning to connect with and invite them for a holiday coffee. Enjoy sharing a hot cup of peppermint mocha, swapping industry stories and insights, and agreeing to connect again in January after everyone is back from holiday vacations.

I suppose this whole blog post can be summed into a single phrase: the Thanksgiving season allows us to better nurture both our personal and professional relationships in an authentic, rewarding way. I can’t wait to tell colleagues, clients, and acquaintances how much I appreciate them this season, and have enjoyed connecting with them over cookies and tea this past month. I hope you’ll seize the opportunity to do the same. What is this season for, if not for celebrating community?

Rosie Brown can be reached at rbrown@sterlingpr.com. You can also follow her at @lilmsrosieposie.

Lisa Hawes

6 Family-Focused Blogger Events for Your 2015 Marketing Calendar

Senior account executive Pouneh Lechner attended Blogger Bash in New York City this year with our client NETGEAR.

Senior account executive Pouneh Lechner attended Blogger Bash in New York City this year with our client NETGEAR.

Sadly, I’m not a mommy so until a couple of years ago, I hadn’t read many so-called “mommy blogs.” While aware that traditional corporate branding is under siege by word-of-mouth marketing, my attention used to gravitate toward B2B influencers and mainstream media. However, a year ago, Sterling began working with the WiFi Family sales team within NETGEAR that promotes mobile WiFi hotspots designed for AT&T service. Our top target for hands-on product reviews: mommy bloggers! I had to get up to speed quickly on the personalities and the events.

“Mommy blogger” is too narrow a definition to encompass the broad variety of people who review products on personal blogs, and it has a condescending ring. Yes, many are indeed parents and grandparents who blog as a hobby, but many are also sophisticated entrepreneurs who offer vendor sponsorship opportunities through an extensive network of partners. As my colleague noted in her post last month, you’ll meet ex-Fortune 500 executives turned fashion bloggers, stay-at-home moms turned tech evangelists, and spouses or siblings that use their blogging activities to promote a family business.

For all the gnashing of teeth of how technology and social media are ruining “true” social relationships, face-to-face events — conventions, really — are increasingly popular in the blogging world. Bloggers and brands want to connect with each other for sponsorships, advertisements, giveaways, and product reviews, and nothing beats an in-person meeting to boost trust on both sides. Moreover, these events provide bloggers who may be stay-at-home workers an opportunity to network with their peers and share lessons learned about growing their social businesses.

Through our work with NETGEAR WiFi Family, we’ve had the pleasure of attending a number of events scattered across the US. Below is a snapshot description of a half-dozen of these events:


Sarah K

Brevity is the Key to Successful Communication

Dug from Up says "squirrel"

In this day and age, capturing and holding someone’s attention is a tough business.

We have hundreds of things demanding our attention at any given moment: emails, texts, snapchats, a coworker’s birthday, a significant other wondering what’s for dinner – you get the picture. (If you spaced out during that long list, you’re not alone. I actually checked Reddit about four times while writing it).

A funny thing happens when you exercise brevity: people don’t mind listening to you. Well thought-out, brief communication shows that you respect and value others’ time.

CEOs and journalists have particularly harried schedules, so capturing and holding their interest is no small feat. Here are six tips to help you do just that:



Want the Perfect Story? Work with Freelancers

The journalistic community and the PR community have always experienced a fractious relationship. A while back, I blogged about how there is a 4:1 PR person to journalist ratio and shared tips to insert yourself in a news cycle by proactive pitching or drafting contributed content. While pitching purposefully and crafting your own content are effective ways to get published in certain outlets, making friends with freelancers is a great way to turn a pitch from “concept to story” in short order.



A Reflection on Brand Marketing and the 2014 World Cup 

I was in Brazil for the first two weeks of the World Cup and was lucky enough to be among the over 154,000 American ticket holders, the largest contingent of traveling supporters outside of the host nation. It’s estimated that over 40 million Americans streamed the games, up 44% from the 2010 World Cup. With such a large audience, it’s only natural that some brand marketing lessons should emerge, right?

As all good communicators know, reputation is forged by all stakeholders in the brand or organization, and soccer teams are no different. The players, management, and fans are brand representatives, on and off the field. Every player, fan, coach, manager, government, and organizing body contributes to — or detracts from — the team’s reputation with their words and actions.



Live Tweeting at Conferences

texting at conference

The warm summer weather ushers in a flurry of high tech conferences and events, ranging from the consumer-focused Apple Worldwide Developers Conference and E3 to enterprise-focused events like GigaOm Structure and Fortune Brainstorm Tech. Thousands of people attend these events, with many more following the news from home. Leveraging Twitter enables conference attendees to share/discuss the experience with other attendees as well as their followers. For those who are new to live-tweeting at events, here are a few pointers to get you started:



How to Be Heard When There Are More PR Pros Than Journalists

Reporters and editors are being laid off, publications are closing, and journalists are crossing over into PR. That’s the world we live in today.

It’s been reported that PR professionals currently outnumber journalists four to one, a gap twice as wide as it was in 1980. With this enormous gap between PR pros and journalists, it’s even harder for PR pros to get the story out.

That said, even though there are fewer and fewer journalists, there are still ways to ensure your story gets out there.



My Journey to Sterling

Unlike my coworkers, I didn’t gracefully land into PR. Instead, I stumbled and landed (on my face) into the world of public relations.

sex-and-the-city-kim-cattrallAfter deciding that law school wasn’t for me, a friend suggested that public relations might be an industry that would make me happy. The only thing I knew about the industry was what I learned on Sex and the City (á la Samantha Jones) and thought that her life rocked, so why not give it a try. I had two things working for me in entering a new field: I was (1)willing to work for free and (2)put in long hours.

Six months later, I landed an entry-level position at a glitzy agency. It was fast-paced, aggressive, and in a fancy location, but I felt like a tiny cog in a very big wheel.

I was lucky to find Sterling, an integrated communications firm. What drew me in was Sterling’s commitment to its employees. There are ample opportunities to expand upon your skill set. Sterling empowers its employees and allows them to take ownership of their career trajectory. I’m excited to join the team and add to Sterling’s value!

Sarah Fraser can be reached at sfraser@sterlingpr.comFollow Sarah on Twitter @sarahafraser.