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5 Fundamentals For A Successful Photoshoot

Every product has a story to sell, and every story has its setting to thank for being its ultimate foundation. Scouting the right location for a shoot can often be stressful, but it is definitely one of the most important features to telling a story, right up there with the storyline itself!

1. Have a clear vision.

The first thing to keep in mind when choosing a site is looking for a setting that fits your storyline. Once you have a script, you need to have a clear vision of the setting to know where to start with location scouting. You aren’t always going to come across the most aesthetically pleasing places, but your location is just a starting point. Choose a location that you are encouraged by and can draw on, with as many colors and mediums that you want/need.

2. Confirm you have permission.

Most importantly, after you have found a location that suits your vision, you want to make sure you have permission to shoot there. Whether it is a permit or another legal document to acquire access to the location, make sure you have it arranged in advance so you don’t run into any problems the day of the shoot. While it helps if you have it all planned out in your head, you may need to have it all planned out on paper… probably signed and approved.

3. Lock in your location.

Once you have been granted permission, the next step to ensure your location will work is to confirm that it will be available! Between holiday season accruing an influx of tourists and day-of events, unforeseen surprises can derail your shoot. Coordinate with your desired location to ensure that the space will be free and available on your scheduled date. By securing your spot for the date and time you need, you will have one less thing to worry about on the day of the shoot!

4. Pay attention to details.

Take notes on the details that matter before the shoot even happens. Are there power sources readily available? You may have to bring in your own outlets. Is your location too hot or too breezy? A cold temperature may be exactly what you’re looking for, but your camera battery may not be able to brave the chill. If the shoot is outside, you can expect the lighting to be inconsistent, so you may need a plan B. If you plan to be indoors where lighting is more static, you may need to bring in additional lighting to achieve your artistic vision. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to on-location shoots!

5. Take notes for next time.

If you love the location and want to use it again for another shoot in the future, take notes about the experience and anything you may need to change for future shoots. If you (unfortunately) had a bad experience with the location, you’ll want to document what you wish had gone differently. You can even write down notes about camera/audio performance in the space so that it may be taken into consideration for the next shoot. There is no such thing as TOO many notes!

Whether you’re a professional in the field of videography, or just dipping your toes in the water, checking off the steps on this list will help you to be successful in whatever type of shoot you intend on capturing. It is always a good idea to do the right research before taking on such an important project. What is your best practice when shooting on location?

Sharpen Your Savvy: How to stay on top when working for a marketing or public relations company

If it’s true that marketing agencies’ last client on the totem pole is always the agency itself, it certainly follows that a marketer’s last priority is typically also themselves. However, it is imperative for continued personal and professional growth that marketing and PR professionals invest in themselves both inside and outside of the office to advance in the future and stay sharp to handle the challenges of right now.

How exactly do you do this when the client-related things on your checklist only seem to grow by the hour? Here are a few tips on how to make investing in yourself a habit and not another overwhelming item on your agenda.

Get Out

Some of the best business opportunities, learning experiences, and in-depth conversations I’ve had have occurred during chance meetings with total strangers at bars, business events, or sitting on airplanes. After an exhausting day of work, most of us are typically ready to zone out at home with the Netflix and a glass of wine. But what if you pushed yourself for one more hour and dropped by the coding seminar you’ve been thinking about attending, or that charity event your coworker invited you to? You never know who you might meet. It could be your next client, partner, or employee. If you never expand your social circle, you’re limiting the number of opportunities, perspectives and ideas you’ll come in contact with as well.

Read Up

As a marketer, especially if you work in PR, content marketing, or social media, a large portion of your day is devoted to reading: client emails, journalists’ stories, bylined articles, Tweets, and that’s just before lunch! Reading for pleasure is a concept most marketers will laugh out loud at. However, reading is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to expand your knowledge base. To make a habit out of this, try taking the first ten minutes of your day before you even open your email and reading one relevant article while you sip on your coffee. It will help you start your day feeling in-control and you’ll be brushing up on important skills. Some of my favorite reading material comes from AdEspresso, Social Media Examiner, Adweek, Business 2 Community, and KissMetrics. Bookmark your own favorites, or subscribe to newsletters so that you always have fresh material on hand.

Have a Hobby

For many in the agency world, we could proudly wear t-shirts that say “work is my hobby.” However, according to Inc. Magazine, the most successful people are committed to developing skills and hobbies ex-officio. Right now, I’m rehabilitating an abused dog—something I had no prior knowledge about. It has required reading, networking, and creative problem solving over and over again. All skills that are directly transferable to my work environment. Whether your hobby is cooking, skiing, or building model ships, doing something that you enjoy and that requires time and effort is like exercise for your brain. If you only ever work it out in one way, it can grow sluggish. Stretch your thinking and your skills at home with a new endeavor.

Find Time

One of the biggest obstacles to personal growth, as echoed in the tips above, is finding time. However, there are likely pockets of your day that are going unused—and those minutes when added up at the end of the week can turn into hours of personal development. Commute via train in the morning? Grab yesterday’s paper (they’re free) from Starbucks and read an article or two on the way to work. Commute via car? Listen to NPR or a podcast instead of bad morning talk radio. Like to scroll through your phone before you get out of bed in the morning? Download an app like Duolingo and learn another language instead. Waiting for your Uber? Check the news. Waiting in line at Chipotle? Talk to one new person. These little changes can get you outside of your personal bubble, keeping your knowledge and social skills sharp.

Make Time

Besides working professional development around your normal schedule—sometimes it’s important to stop and work it into your normal schedule. Talk to your boss about what her expectations are in terms of your development, what your own goals are, and what you think is the most valuable use of your time in order to achieve those goals. If there is a webinar or meetup that happens during work hours that you find extremely beneficial, ask if you can take an hour or so to set aside work and focus exclusively on your skill development. Many companies offer compensation for continuing educational opportunities, or networking opportunities. It is an investment that will not only pay off in your career, but could immediately pay off if you meet a new client or are able to solve an existing client’s problems based on the connections and knowledge you gained.

With any of these habits, it’s important to connect them mentally to specific goals, personally and professionally. You can also choose to focus all these habits on one particular goal or area if you’re looking to see immediate progress. For instance, maybe your goal for the year is to learn Spanish, become a wake board instructor, sign one new client, or meet someone who can teach you Photoshop. If your goal is to learn Spanish, spend all the extra time you find on just that; listen to podcasts in Spanish; do your morning reading in Spanish. By setting goals, you’ll never feel guilty about giving time and effort to these things, because you know they are helping you get where you need to go.

It’s Handled: How to “Olivia Pope” Your Customer Service Inquiries on Social Media

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On Scandal, there isn’t a situation that fixer Olivia Pope can’t handle. From international relations crisis to handling her love life, she does it all with cool confidence.  So when it came to trying to break down the nuances of handling customer service, she immediately came to mind.

Following her no-nonsense attitude and skill for execution working with a variety of stakeholders are all core competencies that can be employed with customer service inquiries on social media. It is often the quickest and most efficient route to a resolution while building long-term followers. Now more than ever it is imperative for brands to have an integrated strategy to manage customer service via their social media channels.

According to the Customers 2020 report, the customer experience will be more important than any other factor to consumers by the year 2020. Having a good customer experience is already critical to a company’s success, and will only become more so. To further that point,  Accenture’s Global Consumer Pulse Survey showed that 66% of consumers around the world stopped doing business with a company in 2013 due to poorly handled customer service. To succeed in managing your customer service inquiries on social, follow these simple tips:

Always Have a Plan:

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It is important to think of your social media platforms as an integrated extension of your customer support team, and always keep your social media team informed with a plan that aligns with your internal customer support team’s best practices. Both teams should have a set of FAQ’s and best practices in place to handle all incoming issues. Having these in place will streamline processes and keep key brand messaging congruent.

Take it Offline:

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Remember to always address all public questions, complaints and concerns and then take them offline by directing a consumer to a private message or to the support team’s channels for further assistance.

Complaining vs. Trolling:

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Assessing the type of complaint is just as important as handling it. Researching where a complaint is coming from and evaluating its validity can save time and resources. If the complaint or inquiry is a legitimate concern from a consumer then answer their inquiry and continue to follow-up until the matter is resolved. Most fans who are legitimately complaining just want to feel heard. If you assess the complaint and find that it may be a person trolling your page, address the issue head on. If they continue to spam your account you may have to take extreme measures such as blocking said user. It is important to provide a place for your fans to engage with your brand rather than a breeding ground for complaints.

The Customer is Always Right…Even When They Are Wrong:

We're in this together

The old adage of the “customer is always right” is still a good reference to stick to within limits. Many times, it’s not the actual problem, but how it’s handled that leaves a lasting impression and can convert an angry customer into a lifelong brand evangelist. When you make it clear to a concerned customer that you are doing everything in your power to assist them, you will find that they are more appreciative after their issue is solved. It can often lead to them taking their gratitude back on social media to sing your brand’s praises.

Earn Their Trust:

If you want me earn me

Being able to quickly turn around an issue is another reason why consumers are turning to social media rather than the traditional customer support channels. Allowing the consumer to feel heard and offering a quick solution has become commonplace on social media. An industry standard is acknowledging the issues within 24 hours, though many brands do so sooner. This does not mean that the problem will be solved in this time frame but they will at least know that a resolution is in the process.