Pitch Perfect

What Makes a Great Capabilities Pitch?

No matter the product, location, or goal of a business, prospective customers must be aware of what that business has to offer. Advertisers make that happen.  Advertising agencies are no different in their need to promote themselves effectively in order to obtain new clients. This is where a capabilities pitch comes in. A pitch is a way of letting the client know exactly what an agency has to offer. A well-crafted capabilities presentation will play a vital role in landing the job every time. So, how do agencies take the pitch from average to outstanding? It’s as simple as these four steps.

Step One: What we do.

Research. Research. Research. Research everything the potential client has ever done and learn all their strengths and weaknesses. An agency will never want to be caught off guard in a meeting. Highlight the agency strengths and align them with the job the client needs.  Know your agency’s weakness as well and don’t be afraid to admit a service that isn’t offered.

Step Two: Who we do it for.

Success is tangible.  Prove the agency’s core strengths with concrete examples.  Create a bulleted list that describes the talents and strengths of the agency.  Clients are visual.  Links, pictures, and case studies are specific examples of what may be used on a website in order to effectively communicate agency work.

Step Three: Why we’re different.

Don’t just sell yourself, listen, then sell the client.  Regardless of the talent the agency possesses, the needs of the client must be understood in order to gain their business.  Understanding the unique selling position of the client is the best way to begin the process of learning what the client needs.  An agency must know what makes their client stand out among their competitors. In order to advertise for a client, you must always keep in mind why they’re different.

Step Four: So What?

It’s the final countdown.  The last step is communicating why the client should choose your agency. This is accomplished by combining the previous three steps into one final message.  Taking special care to highlight the specific ways in which the agency is equipped to fulfill the client’s needs.

We’re going to get to work putting what we’ve learned here into practice. What about you?

How Posts Go Viral

We all remember the 2007 YouTube sensation of Charlie’s poor baby brother crying after getting his finger bitten. Since then, it seems the Internet has only gotten more infatuated with babies, puppies, ice buckets and crazy 13 year-olds on Dr. Phil.

Wouldn’t it be nice if virality could be as simple as A + B = YouTube fame? Unfortunately, a secret formula doesn’t exist to help your content go viral. The rule of thumb for viral viewership used to be that a post would be considered viral once it received over 5 million views within a 5 to 7 day span. Now, the number of views a video gets no longer constitutes virality. There are, however, a few commonalities between viral videos. Keep reading to check them out and decide for yourself what videos you’ve seen fit into each category.

1. Emotional Tug

Content has to connect. If the audience doesn’t emotionally identify with what they are watching, the post isn’t going anywhere. Posts must elicit some sort of emotional reaction from the viewer. In general, people like to share things that make them feel good. A heartwarming video that moves you to tears or makes you roll on the floor with uncontrollable laughter is much more likely to be shared by viewers. Furthermore, if a video containing certain political beliefs or social issues you identify with crosses your path, you are more inclined to share it because it reaffirms your beliefs and lets others know them too.

2. Buzz, Buzz and More Buzz

Virality goes beyond viewership. A post may be getting shared, but is it the talk of the town? The notion of buzzworthy content is evident on social media through the use of hashtags. Does it become a trending topic on Twitter? Are a bunch of your friends commenting about it on Facebook? The engagement that a video gets on the web goes beyond the screen and continues through word-of-mouth. If you’re obsessed with a video or article, you’re definitely going to want to talk to friends about it, which only increases its virality in the real world.

3. The Test of Time

Although content rarely lasts a lifetime, longevity is still a significant element of virality. Videos come and go, but every so often one seems to “stick.” Even after the video itself becomes outdated, you’re still left hoping your eyebrows are “on fleek” and you can still “cash me ousside.” While the videos themselves may not be around in five years, or even five months, their phrases become ingrained in the minds of society and continue to flow from our screens to our mouths for years to come.

How bou dat?

Cover Letter 101

Job hunting is a skill in and of itself.  Whether or not one can perform a job is almost irrelevant if they are unable to obtain the position in the first place. Writing an incredible cover letter is something that will make job seekers stand out from other applicants. This is a chance for applicants to make their skills and compatibility with a company shine. 

Beforehand

With any good piece of writing, research is key. Before pen is put to pad...or more realistically, fingers to keyboard, you’ll want to gain as much knowledge about the company to which you’re applying as possible. The first place to start is the company website. It may sound like a lot, but read the entire site… then maybe even read it again. You should know what the company prides itself on, its values, its strengths and possibly even its weaknesses. If possible, glean the name of the hiring manager or someone to whom you can address the cover letter. Including a specific name gives the impression that you’ve done your research and are serious about getting the job.

List all of your information in the upper left hand corner. This includes your name, address, phone number and email address as well as the contact information of the employer you’re sending the cover letter to.  

Paragraph 1

The first paragraph should be all about you. Make this information count! This is where you get to highlight things about yourself and show how you will fit into the big picture of the company. This section should be thought of as a place to show personality and talent, which are particularly useful to the hiring organization.  

Paragraph 2

Use the second paragraph to highlight specific skills and expertise in relation to the work the company is doing.This is where you really sell yourself and explain why you would make such a valuable employee to the hiring organization. Again, the research you did earlier will prove invaluable for this section.

Paragraph 3

If needed, add a third paragraph as a continuation of the second. Three shorter paragraphs are oftentimes easier to read than two lengthier ones. It can also serve as a great way to break up information.          

Lastly, wrap it up with a “call to action.” Be confident and express your request for an interview. Be sure to thank the reader for their time and conclude the letter.  

Following Up

After sending your initial email and cover letter, reaching out once more can make a big difference when it comes to getting that job. A good rule of thumb is to email the company a couple of weeks after you send out your resume and cover letter to make sure they were received. You can also make a good impression by sending a handwritten thank you note after an interview to thank the interviewer for their time. Even if you don’t get that specific job, there may be positions available in the future that you’ll be a better fit for, and leaving a good impression is always a step in the right direction.

Building Culture

Agency culture is a term often heard when employees are describing their work environment. As the creative group explains, the culture of an agency is not only dependent on the personalities of those in charge, but also the combination of values, vision and actions that exist and take place in the agency.

One of the biggest ways to create a positive culture is to embrace failure. When starting out in a student-run agency, it is easy to feel the pressure to not make any mistakes. Most people are overly cautious about sharing their ideas when they are afraid they will be shot down. By letting the staff know that mistakes are okay, leaders can keep the door open for new ideas and creativity.

Ultimately, the better an agency can foster an environment where individuals know they can make mistakes, the better creativity can thrive among teams.

Here are some things we are doing to create a positive culture in our agency:

  • Training- Before beginning the year, the leadership team takes a weekend to become familiar with Morris+Mitchell as an agency. We review agency culture and discuss how we plan to help carry it out among the rest of the staff. During the first all-staff meeting, we take the time to review agency procedures and communicate our vision, goals and culture.

  • Attire- At Morris+Mitchell, we want to create a professional environment. Student agencies can sometimes be stereotyped as being too relaxed, but we want to put forth an image that will be taken seriously. The leadership team is encouraged to dress professionally at our weekly meetings to set an example for the staff.

  • Food- Believe it or not, something as simple as providing food at a meeting can help boost interaction between staff members. At our weekly agency meetings, everyone looks forward to grabbing a snack from the bin in the conference room. Our leadership meetings are supplied with pizza and tacos. As the Parks and Rec character April Ludgate says, “Pizza is knowledge,” and we completely agree.

  • Workspace- One of our most recent changes has been the remodel of the agency. The new Morris+Mitchell space is decorated with artistic client work, modern seating, and dimmed mood lighting. A workspace that portrays the culture helps to set the mood for agency meetings as well as display who we are to visiting clients.  

  • Don- Although he’s not real (we wish), Don is Morris+Mitchell’s resident agency dog. The life-sized, plush golden retriever is always a welcoming sight in the room.

Source: https://www.roberthalf.com/creativegroup/need-work/career-resources/agency-life/10-ways-to-develop-a-positive-agency-culture-and-thrive-in-it

Our Take on Super Bowl LI Ads

With  Super Bowl right around the corner, the ads are already being released. Some brands have released their ads in full while others have released teasers. We sat down and watched as many as we could, ranking them as we went. Below are our top five.

Wix- The one for millennials

Our team thought that this commercial was targeted more towards millennials because of how relevant Wix, the free website builder, is among our age group. The commercial is fast-paced and demonstrates how quick and easy the Wix website is to use. Now more than ever, people are blogging, vlogging and showing people what they enjoy doing and what they think is interesting in their daily lives, and the commercial shows that Wix is a great way to do that through their user-friendly templates.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jIA3eFtSOM#action=share

Snickers- The one we're most anticipating

Snickers is branching out this year and doing something we’ve never seen before. Instead of pre-releasing their ad, or even giving us a prequel, they’ve decided to announce that their Super Bowl commercial will be live. We don’t know what exactly it is that they’re up to, but we can’t wait to find out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqDtSW7u48Q

Turbo Tax- The one that made us laugh

Viewers will see the universally-known character Humpty Dumpty in the new Super Bowl ad for TurboTax. The familiar figure is a source of comedy while still making the point of how easy filing taxes can be when using TurboTax. The humor is in the details: egg whites stuck to Humpty’s shell, yolk dripping out of his mouth and Humpty receiving top-notch medical care while being airlifted for his treatment. The playfulness of this ad stretches beyond generational barriers and probes into the minds of anyone looking for a simple and inexpensive way to file taxes

https://youtu.be/wgh6K1TXw28

Mr. Clean- The one that surprised us

“You gotta love a man who cleans.” For years Mr. Clean was the Jolly Green Giant of cleaning products - the face of a mess’s rescue. We’ve seen companies attempt to bring the face of their brand to life, but the efforts  have seemed mediocre at best. This year, however, Mr. Clean broke the barrier in his Super Bowl debut. The in-house Procter & Gamble ad features Mr. Clean “sexxing up” the cleaned floor as a woman sizes up the mess of her home. As his seduction continues, the ad ends with Mr. Clean turning into the woman’s husband and a tackling public display of affection.Is the ad cheesy? Of course. But we couldn’t help but be amused by the “50 Shades Darker” similarities...and for a cleaning product. We kept grinning throughout the ad and ended things in laughter - a successful debut in our book.

http://www.superbowlcommercials.co/mr-clean/

Intel- The one we keep replaying

Fitting to the name, Intel’s 360 replay ad was one we watched over and over again. Intel, known for their Michael Phelps ad from last year, makes an “epic” reappearance in the ad world with their spot starring Tom Brady. By casting one of this year's Super Bowl quarterbacks, Intel has the perfect set-up to reach football fans and a younger audience. It’s also always fun to see how new technology is incorporated and introduced to the masses. Our team liked the ad because of the exaggeration and humor used to convey a point. A football star making pancakes with his dog - who wouldn’t replay this ad?

https://youtu.be/nTw7eten1no

International Stereotypes in Advertising

Spending five months abroad taught me a lot of things, many of which were to be expected. However, I learned a few things that I wasn’t exactly seeking out- namely, not to believe everything that I’ve been told about the people in other countries. I didn’t realize just how deeply advertising affects not only what we think about certain brands or companies, but also what we think about whole groups of people. By promoting certain services or products, advertisers shape what consumers believe about their fellow humans across the pond and elsewhere- just Google what’s advertised as “American” in any other country and you’ll see what I mean. There were a whole slew of pre-conceived notions that I didn’t even know I had until they were proven wrong, such as:

  • All French people smell bad- deodorant brands have explicitly advertised that you “don’t want to smell like the French” in order to sell their products

  • All Italians eat mountains of pizza and pasta- songs, TV shows and restaurant chains are just a few of the things that characterize this nationality into a costume

  • All English people have bad teeth- from gum companies to toothpaste brands, the image that Brits have poor dental hygiene has been painted into our heads

  • All Swedish people are blonde- ok, this one is MAINLY true...but still, there are plenty of non-blonde Swedes, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they are advertised and played in the U.S.

None of this is to say that advertising is inherently harmful to people of other cultures. It helps us understand an aspect of each other in a way that is easy for our minds to grasp, and it’s a quick way for advertisers to make their points. However, it was an enlightening experience to have some of the stereotypes in my subconscious shattered, and it was interesting to note just how much advertising had affected me- even when I left the country they had been reaching me in.

My Big Break

I spent my last Spring Break at Mitchell Communications Group in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Along with six other Big Break interns from around the country, I learned all the inner workings of a full-service PR agency. Throughout the week, I sat in various sessions with representatives from each department and learned about what they do, and by the end of the week, I was able to see how all the pieces of the agency puzzle come together.

Coming into Mitchell, I thought I would learn about agency life and how it was applicable to PR, but I was shown much more than that. Big Break allowed me to dive into agency culture, learn about the industry and network with agency professionals.

One of my favorite sessions was about defining personal brand. I’ve been in classes throughout college that discuss the importance of branding yourself, but I never understood how it worked or what it really meant. Big Break helped me condense it down and think more clearly about my strengths, weaknesses, passions and goals. From there, I was able to see a common theme: drive.

Defining your personal brand is more than one word, however. It’s everything about you as an individual, from others’ perceptions of you to your work. It’s thinking of yourself as a company and representing yourself in a way that reflects the brand you want to embody. Your brand can also be portrayed in a quick power statement, an elevator pitch and even your resume and cover letters. Being immersed in Mitchell was a great way to see and understand its brand and the brand of its employees, and therefore use it as an example to continue to build my own.

There were so many great takeaways from that week, but my biggest one was confidence. I went in not knowing what to expect, but came out certain that my JMC department has prepared me well. I learned early in the week that I was the only Big Breaker with experience like Morris+Mitchell, and after spending a week in the agency, I realized how prepared I was to go out into a real agency life. Of course there will always be new things to learn, but I’m so excited to dive in and feel confident in what I’ve learned. I’m proud that a part of my personal brand will always come from being an ACU Wildcat and member of Morris+Mitchell.

When It’s So Bad It’s Good

In the words of an unnamed fictional racecar driver, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” But exactly how bad is it to be last?

I’m sure we can all think of things that are so bad, that somehow they’re good (I’m looking at you, Taco Bell.) We have a fascination with things that are bad. This is in part thanks to the Internet, which makes it super easy to make fun of things that fail.

Because of this, brands are taking notice of the “so bad it’s good” phenomenon and capitalizing on it, even sometimes intentionally “failing”, just to make a point.

A fairly recent example of this is Drake's music video for the song “Hotline Bling.” His unchoreographed, awkward-on-purpose dance moves in the video rival those of your weird uncle having just a little bit too much fun at a wedding. Almost immediately after its release, the Internet went crazy with memes and parody videos, which have since been followed with companies taking their own spin on the viral clip. Among them are the Philadelphia Police Department with a PSA about saving parking spots, Comedy Central India promoting reruns of the TV show Friends, and even a Super Bowl spot from T-Mobile, which Drake himself participated in.

So how should these artists feel about this? Should companies feel like big bullies for making fun of something that is so obviously bad?

I think not! In the end, what’s the difference between getting entertainment from a bad music video and getting entertainment from a good one? If you’ve been made into a meme, I’d say you’re probably going to be alright.

The Desire to be Creative in Advertising

My imagination has never just been in my head… it has always been active. I was the kid that would wet the bed after hearing of the bad guys my dad’s bedtime stories brought to life. As I got older, I used my active imagination to fuel my creativity in writing a short story at eight-years-old that was published in The Rising Star, a Texas state magazine for young writers. I went on to pursue music, recording Taylor Swift-inspired, angsty teenage songs when I got to high school. Coming into college, I decided to pursue a major that capitalized on my “on-set” creativity.

Unfortunately, with age, I have found my creativity harder and harder to hone in on, activate and use to my advantage. My to-do list motivates me more than the idea of finishing that last chapter of the latest thriller I’m reading (and no, I no longer wet the bed).

I find that I mesh better with my team at Morris+Mitchell by being the administrator, the planner and the task master. I am confident in my ability to get things done and get them done well; but when it comes to taglines, slogans and the creative process of advertising, I hide. I shiver. I fear. I’m not sure when I began to shy away from the innovative process, but it has become crippling to put myself out there.

What I tend to forget is that everyone is creative. That term tends to exclusively describe artists, designers and copywriters, but in advertising everyone on board has a creative spirit in their heart. It’s why they’re in the business that creates something out of nothing.

“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person,” says author Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic. To be creative means to have a good imagination, original ideas or produce artistic work. It doesn’t require having “Creative Director” on your resume. It may mean you’re good at working on teams that reach a seemingly impossible end goal, strategizing your day with your planner and to-do list, rebranding a company from the ground up or simply brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Being creative is an innate gift in every single human, desiring to be manifested from the inside out. I may pursue a career as an account coordinator/manager/director, but that won’t stop me from playing with the "creatives." I hope it doesn’t stop you, either.

AN Ad/PR major finds her niche

Written by junior Kaitlyn Grothues

I had no clue what I wanted to major in as a freshman at ACU. I had no direction whatsoever and didn’t know what I was good at, so I spent a year taking basic university-required classes rather than learning about what I would be doing for the rest of my life. Eventually, I took Media Issues, which was the first of many classes I would end up taking in the Journalism and Mass Communication department at ACU. This class led me to fall in love with the world of advertising and public relations. I realized that there was so much I could do with Ad/PR and I loved every direction I could go with this major. I didn’t know that I could make a career out of things I already love, such as social media and event planning. Now, rather than feeling lost regarding what I want to do in the future, I have too many ideas, which is a great problem to have. That’s what I really love about Ad/PR; I’m learning about many different aspects of mass communication that will allow me to go in whichever direction I please. The things we do and learn in this major are beneficial in so many different areas of the real world. Additionally, the experience of working for a real Ad/PR agency like Morris+Mitchell really gave me a glimpse into what a potential career in the industry would be like. I can’t wait to see what my future in Ad/PR holds.

Don't Sit Out

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has been steadily growing over the past six years. Recent data shows the social media juggernaut has now recruited more than 400 million users, including 30 percent of all internet users. Instagram’s large follower base means brands, companies and organizations alike need to be active and engaging on Instagram.

With so many organizations vying for attention on Instagram, a lot of pressure has been created for brands to be “the best.” Any update or change to Instagram has to be seen as an opportunity–even if the update isn’t always popular among users.

Instagram’s newest update gives users the ability to zoom in on their friends’ posts, similar to the zoom feature in the iPhone camera and photos apps. Brands are already utilizing the new feature as a way to engage with current followers while gaining new ones, ultimately leading to a larger consumer base and greater brand recognition. Utilizing the ability to zoom empowers brands with yet another social media tactic to engage their followers.

Primark, a European-based company known for its discount clothing, is one example of a brand quickly jumping on board with the new zoom feature. For example, the post below highlights 25 of the company’s products. Allowing followers to zoom in on photos, Primark can showcase more than two dozen products in the same image, knowing followers can zoom in on any particular item.

The increased growth and accessibility of Instagram means brands need to stay active and consistent to get ahead. Instagram is a great way to promote ads while building name recognition at a reasonably low cost.

One of the challenges of advertising is the need to constantly stay current and consider what social media features are evolving. Sitting out = missing out, so get in the game.

http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/these-11-brands-are-already-using-instagram-s-new-zoom-feature-173253

celebrating client uniqueness

Here at Morris+Mitchell, creative thinking and dreaming are big keys. We celebrate being unique and recognize that in order to best represent our services and satisfy our clients, we must identify and amplify the characteristics that define each company or brand that we work with. With this in mind, we look forward to getting to know our clients on a deeper, more human level.

"The work of an advertising agency is warmly and immediately human. It deals with human needs, wants, dreams and hopes. Its 'product' cannot be turned out on an assembly line.”
 -Leo Burnett American Advertising Executive Founder of Leo Burnett Company, Inc.