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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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Be True to Your Brand

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Dr. Seuss

The same goes for your company and your competitors’ companies. While you may serve similar customer needs, there can be vast differences in brand attributes. Take Ryanair and Emirates. Ryanair is Europe’s “ultra low cost carrier”; it has embraced a “no-frills, low-cost, get-you-from-A-to-B model” that makes air travel “accessible to the masses.” The airline guarantees that it has the lowest fares on flights to all of its destinations. Emirates, on the other hand, is one of the most luxurious travel brands on the planet. From its sparkling fleet of new planes, to high-quality cuisine, the latest in cabin design, and a wide range of entertainment options, Emirates strives to make the “Emirates experience” world class in every class.

The takeaway here is that you can’t be all things to all people, but once you know what you can do better than your competitors, you can polish your brand in ways that appeal to the type of employees you want to hire, customers you want to serve, and partners/investors you want to attract. (more…)

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Why Consumers Should Be Excited About IoT Right Now


I recently found myself trying to explain the Internet of Things (IoT) to my dad. This is a man who literally doesn’t understand how to use a computer, though he has admittedly become somewhat engaged with the basic functions of a smartphone (read: pictures!).

“Why the hell do I want to have an Internet on my fridge?” he asked.

It was only when, after many examples, I mentioned how an Internet-connected sprinkler system would be able to detect that it had just rained and thus wouldn’t water the lawn on its regular cycle that I caught his attention. He gazed at the brown grass outside.

“Well, that’s pretty cool.” (more…)


What Journalists Really Want from PR Professionals

While Mel Gibson’s 2000 romantic comedy “What Women Want” was a mostly forgettable film, the ability to telepathically hear what women are thinking instantly became the envy of every man in the world, myself included. As a PR professional, however, much more valuable would be to know what’s going on inside the mind of a reporter. (more…)

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Today’s “Not-So-Social” Networks


At the heart of every technological innovation is the desire to strengthen relationships between people and the hope that we can improve quality of life. However, lately I feel we have created “not-so-social” networks. The mechanics of connecting with others has changed dramatically over time, primarily due to visionary inventors, accomplished technologists, and the growing pressure to continuously do more in less time. (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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What I Learned from the Hendo Hoverboard: Sometimes, it’s OK to say “No, Thanks”


People working in PR agencies will tell you that one of the greatest things about this line of work is that you get to learn something new pretty much every day. When Sterling took on Arx Pax as a new client in early October, I did a lot of learning. Specifically, I learned how to master the delicate balancing act of sifting through dozens of media inquiries to find the right outlets for our clients’ limited media time. Media interest in a client is always exciting and PR people are programmed to act as conduits between their clients and the media. That said, I have learned that as there is a time for media engagement, there is also a time for keeping quiet and passing on opportunities (cue The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!”). Knowing when to tell the difference – aye, there’s the rub.

Managing the tsunami of media interest we generated when we launched Arx Pax’s Hendo hoverboard taught me that this decision-making process demands risk-taking, knowing my client’s big picture goals and putting their objectives first. (more…)

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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.


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Demystifying Preproduction, Part One: Harnessing Creativity to Conjure Arresting Visual Stories

Any working professional knows that each job has its highs and its lows. Well, video productions are my highs. Every time we start a new video project, our team powers through the preproduction phase, brainstorming creative ideas and nailing down logistics, all eagerly awaiting the proverbial game day: that is, production.

But, in my opinion, what makes production days so exciting is the level of hard work and forethought put into preparing during preproduction. “Preproduction” as a term is often pushed aside and excused as being a vague way of saying that you’re planning a shoot. However, here’s the not-so-secret key to a successful, high-quality video, film, or sketch: the highest production value videos are the ones with an intense amount of time and effort spent in preproduction.