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5 Ways to Add Thanksgiving Flavor to Your Professional Relationships


Photo credit: Cindi Albright, Flickr

The Thanksgiving holiday never fails to spark sentiment about the more important things in life: family, friendships, and food. But why can’t we include our work relationships on the list, too? Building rapport with clients, saying “thanks” to colleagues, and adding a personal touch to professional interactions are not only proper work etiquette — they’re also good for the soul.

The season of turkey trots and pumpkin pie is also the season of giving thanks, and it’s an excellent time to consider gracious ways you can reach out to your clients and coworkers to convey your appreciation. Here are a few ideas for showing gratitude to your work connections and bringing the spirit of Thanksgiving into your professional life: (more…)

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Why Corporate Culture Matters Most

Since Sterling opened its doors more than two decades ago, we’ve had lots of laughs, persevered through some difficult and scary economic cycles, evolved our service mix, attracted wonderful employees, and created many long-standing client relationships. All of that happened because we created a strong culture, worked hard, anticipated change, and added new skills to capitalize on market transitions.


Notice that I listed culture first? That’s because NOTHING is more critical than your corporate culture. It can guide you through heady times and help you survive the difficult times. While there are certainly central truths in any corporate culture, your corporate culture is something you must continually shape and nurture — it’s not something you can “set and forget.” (As we’ve seen, even legendary corporate cultures like HP’s can get lost over time if leaders focus simply on business unit performance and let the corporate culture languish.)

Your corporate culture is something you must continually shape and nurture—it’s not something you can “set and forget.”

Smarter people than I have written many articles on this topic, but from where I sit, corporate culture really boils down to three questions: (more…)

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Key Ingredients for Cooking Up an Effective Social Media Campaign


To run a successful social media campaign (say, generate over a million page views and a few-hundred-thousand social mentions), all you have to do is take one wish-fulfilling techno-toy ripped from the script of a classic science fiction film, assure folks that it’s real, then add one celebrity athlete and one astronaut. Mix all elements together, splash some video across the Twitterverse, and…Presto! Bon appetit!

While this abbreviated recipe may sound preposterous, friends of Sterling Communications will know that it pretty much encapsulates the successful campaign we launched for the Hendo Hoverboard Kickstarter last October. Our client, Arx Pax, used the Hoverboard Kickstarter as a platform for coming out of stealth mode and introducing their core technology to the masses. We leveraged social media to amplify the launch using a two-phased process: first establishing credibility, then fostering enthusiast engagement. If you aren’t familiar with this campaign, here’s a quick recap of our overall media strategy. (more…)

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How Marketers Can Make the Most Out of Video Assets


I’m at the cliff’s edge on Hawk Hill — that iconic view looking down on the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco in the background — about to roll a take of a music artist singing the chorus to his new song. The camera is ready, the talent is ready, it’s cold out, and we are ready to get the shot and move on when a state park ranger approaches. He didn’t approach to say that we had to leave, but to simply tell me that his nephew just got a camera and wants to makes movies, too. Then he asked if he could get a picture with me and the artist.

Everyone wants to be involved in making movies. And why not? It’s fun! Marketers, you can even use this to your advantage. The more people grabbing photos and videos, whether behind the scenes of a project or collaborating on an actual marketing program, the more assets you and your team have to work with — both in the short and the long run. At Sterling, we lovingly term this opportunity as “atomization.” (more…)


Why Sterling is on Instagram


“A picture is worth a thousand words.” We all know the figure of speech. But in the world in which we now live, where precious, expensive film is replaced by digital memory and cloud storage, it is easy to wonder if pictures are still that valuable.

Well, at Sterling we believe that a picture is now worth far more than just a thousand words. After all, that’s why marketing and public relations agencies have adopted video and photography to optimize reach to target audiences. Social media marketing once disrupted our text-heavy PR world with limiting messages to 140 characters on Twitter. Now, people want to receive marketing messages from a single glance at a photo.

Instagram is one such social media channel that has forever changed the way we market businesses. In fact, the picture and video sharing service has now surpassed Twitter in number of users. (more…)

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Evaluating Bloggers: What Should I Consider?

One of the surprising aspects of managing a blogger program is the sheer number of blogs out there. I could give you a number in the hundreds of millions, but by the time you’re done reading this post, it will have grown by millions.

People read billions of blog pages each month, making blogs a major forum to influence buying decisions. Hence the birth of Influencer Marketing, where marketing efforts are focused on the people who have influence over a specific target market vs. the market as a whole. Influencer marketing centers on third-party validation by those who have become trusted sources of information by their readers.

As you comb through the blogosphere looking for the right blogger to promote your product or service, here are some key elements to consider: (more…)

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Lifestyle Bloggers vs. Traditional Media


Are you thinking of adding a blogger program to your PR efforts? You may think working with lifestyle bloggers is just like working with traditional media. Well, it’s about as similar as stripes and spots. Understanding the differences between the two is key to getting the most out of your blogger campaign.

Below I share some observations about establishing and growing successful blogger campaigns and insights I’ve gained by doing work with WiFi Family (NETGEAR & AT&T) over the past year. If you’re working with lifestyle bloggers (or want to), here are some tidbits you may find useful:


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4 Social Media Monitoring Steps To Support Your Business Strategy


Social media is now recognized as a vital part of a larger business intelligence strategy, not just a component of a PR or marketing strategy. With LinkedIn predicted to widen the gap as the B2B social network, and Instagram overtaking Twitter in monthly active users, whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, harmonizing social media is important to understanding and communicating with your customers.

A substantial part of your customer base is already active on social media, and while many companies do take advantage of social media managers to atomize company messaging across their approved channels, most haven’t considered monitoring as one of the most important functions of social media. Big missed opportunity.

Social media monitoring can have an impact on your bottom line. Yes, you heard me right. A solid social media monitoring strategy will enable you to listen, discover, connect and pivot in deliberate, calculated ways. Put another way, social media monitoring will help you bring the right products and services to market faster, helping you take market share from your competitors.


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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: