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#DailyDive: My go-to sources for inspiration as a visual communicator

Curiosity and ongoing learning are a key requirement at our agency.  Studies show that people who continue to learn as professionals are better problem-solvers, more creative and tend to enjoy their jobs more so that’s a bonus.  This month we are sharing what are our go-to for professional resources for each of us at APEX PR and ruckus Digital.

Being a creative, I can understand the importance behind visual communication and the effectiveness it can have on an audience. I also know how important it is for a creative to be inspired. But I don’t necessarily scroll through blogs, read magazines or anything of that sort on a regular basis, looking for inspiration. And I find that I come across my inspiration from the places that any other person can find themselves looking through. So here are some places I get inspiration from:

  • Instagram | Probably my #1 most used social media platform and the app that drains my data the most. But in all seriousness, I find that Instagram is a great resource in finding creative inspiration, if you follow the right people. The Instagram accounts I follow, outside of friends and that sort, include fashion influencers, music artists and mood boards. And because I follow these kinds of accounts, my explore page is filled with posts from accounts that offer the same kind of content. So, it’s pretty normal for me to come across visually pleasing and creative posts that I can get inspiration from.
  • YouTube| YouTube can be more than just a platform to entertain you. By just getting lost into the YouTube algorithm, I’ve come across countless videos and artists that caught my interest and eventually led me into some inspiration.
  • The Outdoors | When I say the outdoors I mean anything outside of your home or the office. Whether that be walking in the city, in nature or even your own neighbourhood. There’s a lot more to draw inspiration from outdoors that you may not be able to come across on the internet or through print publications than you think. Such as OOH advertising, storefronts, the architectural design of a building, or even just the landscape.

Trebor Palomo is a creative design intern at ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.

#DailyDive: Real estate, health, payments & business go-to sources

Curiosity and ongoing learning are key requirements at our agency. Studies show that people who continue to learn as professionals are better problem-solvers, more creative and tend to enjoy their jobs more ̶ so that’s a bonus. This month we are sharing our go-to professional resources at APEX PR and ruckus Digital.

For me, many of my go-to sources for information are related to topics that interest me on a personal level as well as professionally, as they relate to client work that I’m fortunate to be a part of in the health, payments and real estate spaces.

My top ones (in no particular order) would be as follows:

The Globe and Mail Real Estate | The weekly newsletter that comes out on the weekend always has a good recap of insights about the national real estate market.

CBC Second Opinion | While it’s on hiatus right now, the newsletter also captures what’s what when it comes to health on a national scale.

In payments today (daily) | Payments impact a number of our clients, so I find the best way to keep up on what’s happening in the payments space in Canada and internationally, is through this daily recap.

strategy + business | This resource just offers great timely research and thoughts on topics such as ‘Survival skills for the digital age,’ ‘Keep your CSR programs on track’ and ‘Crisis Preparedness as the next competitive advantage.’

Diane Bégin is a VP at APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital. Check out more of our #DailyDive and see what other APEXers are looking at for professional inspiration.

#DailyDive: Streaming podcasts and collaborating on LinkedIn

Curiosity and ongoing learning are key requirements at our agency. Studies show that people who continue to learn as professionals are better problem-solvers, more creative and tend to enjoy their jobs more ̶ so that’s a bonus. This month we are sharing our go-to professional resources at APEX PR and ruckus Digital.

When you work in social and digital media, learning is never-ending. Every day, Facebook or Google are making changes to their platforms that impact customer behaviours or programming for our clients. Keeping up can be a challenge – especially as our own attention spans decline. However, daily I’m either streaming a marketing podcast or collaborating with colleagues on LinkedIn.

Podcast addict:

As someone always on-the-go and a frequent podcast binger, I love a good podcast to learn about new trends from credible marketing experts. Consuming content through audio let’s me multitask on my commute to work or while burning calories at the gym. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Social Media Marketing Talkshow with Michael Stelzner – Leveraging interviews with platform and marketing experts this podcast focuses on new platform features (such as the TikTok self-service ads) or updates to existing platforms (like the recent LinkedIn Updates Pages and algorithm).
  • Under the Influence with Terry O’Reilly digs into the history and evolution of advertising and marketing by exploring industries and marketing tactics. Although, the podcast has been re-releasing archived episodes I just listened to the history of lawsuit advertising and it was very interesting to see how the industry evolved over time.
  • Smart Agency Masterclass – Host Jason Swenk interviews marketing agency leaders from across North America to chat through strategies they’ve undertook to grow or evolve their business. Episodes are roughly 30 mins – perfect for my commute to work!

LinkedIn:

I’ve become obsessed with LinkedIn. I’ve curated a strong list of professionals, old colleagues and experts who I admire that I can learn from and share my perspective with. The platform has expanded their capabilities and algorithm so I can share links, videos or full blog posts. Below are some of my go-to professionals or hashtags to follow:

  • Jed Schneiderman – After visiting our office for a presentation about EQ Works, I was impressed by Jed and how he approached data and the marketing opportunities. Jed is always sharing interesting articles and providing innovative perspectives on the industry.
  • #marketing – It’s a simple hashtag, but it helps me discover trending articles within the industry to keep myself updated on the latest news or trends that I need to be aware of.
  • Sherrilynne Starkie – As a grad of the Algonquin PR program, you learn a lot about the grads that came before you. I’ve followed Sherri online for many years throughout her PR and marketing journey and look forward to seeing her posts.

Katie Boland is an account director at APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital. Check out more of our #DailyDive and see what others are looking at for professional inspiration.

#DailyDive: My mobile go-to sources for information on the go

Curiosity and ongoing learning are key requirements at our agency. Studies show that people who continue to learn as professionals are better problem-solvers, more creative and tend to enjoy their jobs more ̶ so that’s a bonus. This month we are sharing our go-to professional resources at APEX PR and ruckus Digital.

As a content developer in the social media space, you’d almost never find me picking up a newspaper or watching the morning/evening news, however you will find me with my phone constantly in hand, scrolling, listening, viewing, and taking in the latest news – like a true millennial.

Here are my some of my favourite sources of daily info:

  • The Adweek App (iOS & Google Play) – Talk about inspiration. I kill two birds with one stone reading Adweek. I get the latest industry news, and I get to see what the best of the best brands and agencies are doing globally and getting a little inspiration for my day-to-day working life.
  • Strategy Magazine – Okay, okay, I know I said you’ll only find me collecting news on my phone, but Strategy is the one exception I’ll make. Fresh out of university, knowing I wanted to go into marketing, but not necessarily knowing an exact direction, flipping through the pages of Strategy Magazine was one of the first times I can remember feeling truly inspired to go the direction I ended up going in the industry. All these year later, Strategy Magazine still inspires me.
  • Philip DeFranco – I’ll admit, some days are so hectic that I genuinely wouldn’t know what was happening in the world unless someone tells me. However, no matter how busy the day is, I still manage to find time to scroll through Instagram at least 3 times a day. Enter Philip DeFranco, my one-stop shop for global news and a hint of celebrity gossip – thanks Phil!

Amanda Carreiro is a senior digital content manager at ruckus Digital. Check out more of #DailyDive and see what others are looking at for professional inspiration. (Incidentally, Amanda and colleagues were recently mentioned in Strategy Magazine.)

DOWNLOAD HERE: WTH should I care about visual storytelling?

Whether, paid, earned, shared or owned media, very few tactics do not involve some sort of visual.

Learn why you should care about visual storytelling in this lecture delivered by Diane Bégin at the McMaster Syracuse Master of Communications Management (MCM) 2019 residency.

The full presentation can be accessed by filling out the form below.

#FutureForward: Understand Your Target Audiences

In our #FutureForward series we ask members of our ruckus family to share their insights into what two skills they think will still be relevant in public relations, communications, marketing and digital in 30 years.

Nicole Pomeroy , senior integrated media strategist at ruckus Digital, discusses the importance of understanding your target audience as a communicator.

As PR and marketing practitioners, it’s our jobs to challenge the status quo and guide brands through the fast-changing media landscape. It’s hard to say which platforms are around for the long haul, but the importance in understanding your target audiences and knowing what motivates them will always be key.

From a simple scroll through your Instagram feed, or walk downtown, it’s blatantly obvious that we live in a world cluttered with vast amounts of luxury and household goods. From brunches filled with avocado toast and glasses of bottomless mimosas – millennials often get a bad rep for their “basic” lifestyle.

The most popular brands today among millennials are the ones that understand their daily struggles. Regardless of indulging in overpriced avocados, the reality is that millennials are often labeled the “brokest generation” with a low chance of owning a house and the demand of a post-secondary education for employment, followed by a load of serious student debt. As a result, their buying demand has shifted from material things to experiences.  

When young people today choose to spend the little money, they are more interested in spending money on experiences. Finding those things bring them happiness (like the perfect avocado, or a selfie worthy exhibition), and helps to raise their social currency amongst their peers.

While targeting millennials, brands continue meeting the demand of offering experiences instead of possessions. We’re seeing brands adapting to this movement using miniconcerts, yoga classes and cafes to draw consumers through its doors. Today’s brand ROIs are seeing high engagements through branded event hashtags, user generated content on social media, and increased awareness through word of mouth from these experiences.

In addition to connecting IRL (in real-life), we’re seeing more online design trends that take on a more emotional design, connecting more intimately with the consumer.

Just as we’re seeing millennial’s view ownership differently than previous generations did, upcoming generations will continue to have different habits that will both take businesses by surprise. It’s safe to say, knowing your audiences is and will always be key.

Nicole Pomeroy is a senior integrated media strategist at ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.

#FutureForward: Tap into your inner emotions through design

In our #FutureForward series we ask members of our ruckus family to share their insights into what two skills they think will still be relevant in public relations, communications, marketing and digital in 30 years.

Vanessa Cuartas , integrated media designer at ruckus Digital, discusses the various layers of design that are directly related to emotion.

Every morning we wake up to a whole new different day, but something you may not realize that remains constant are the various emotions that we go through daily when interacting with different products. Whether it is our Starbucks app to get our coffee, our Spotify app to listen to our music, or just interacting with our computers at work, all these interactions cause an emotion.

This is why in the world of design; emotional design is something that will not be going away anytime soon – even 30 years from now it will still be relevant. Designers now more than ever have to take into consideration the emotions users may experience when interacting with their products.

“Emotional design strives to create products that elicit appropriate emotions, in order to create a positive experience for the user,” according to the Interaction Design Foundation.

In the book Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things,

Don Norman talks about the three different levels of the emotional system: the visceral, behavioural and reflective levels. These levels heavily influence design in their own way.

Visceral design taps into our immediate reactions when encountering a product, basically is it love at first sight. At this level, we are essentially looking at the product’s branding.  

Behavioural design is all about how we interact with a product, how it performs or how easy it is to learn to use. For example, this could be the pleasure to be able to find a contact on your phone or the difficulty of typing on a small screen. The behavioural level taps into the emotions you feel when accomplishing or failing to complete our goals. 

Reflective design is all about how the product makes us feel after we’ve used it, for example, or how we feel when we don’t have it. Do we feel a sense of fomo, for example?

By taking a closer look at these different levels, designers will have a better sense of what they are creating for the world and their consumers. These levels will allow them to think deeper about how their product not only looks, but how it will be used and the feeling the users will get when it has been used. 

Vanessa Cuartas is an integrated media designer at ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.

#FutureForward: Staying Curious

In our #FutureForward series we ask members of our ruckus family to share their insights into what two skills they think will still be relevant in public relations, communications, marketing and digital in 30 years.

Katie Boland , account director at APEX Public Relations/ ruckus Digital, discusses why curiosity is an advantageous skill to bring into the workplace, and how you can put it into action.

The pace of our work in communications seems to accelerate as each year goes by, so when asked what skills will be needed in our profession decades from now, a couple things came to mind.

Within the last 10 years that I’ve been practicing communications, the workplace has evolved and changed significantly from tearing down the cubicle walls, to digital tools that teams use to collaborate from the comfort of their homes if they choose to do so.

With this evolution, there are more options for communicators to make the work environment flexible and accessible for all people. Yet every opportunity, comes with its own challenges or weaknesses.

Regardless of future technology and media changes, there are skills that will still be valuable regardless of the channels, tools or applications we use. For me, the skill of curiosity has helped me stay relevant and open-minded.

Don’t let change hold you back

As a highly anxious person, there are things that I will also go back to because they’re comfortable and reliable, such as a great movie, a good meal or favourite outfit.

Ironically, within the workplace, I’m always curious about new tools and exploring new channels, tactics or opportunities. Working with brands always trying to stay relevant, there is a stigma about not becoming the next Blockbuster Video or Kodak Film (a couple brands that didn’t adapt)Their work teams could have helped these brands evolve by practicing the skill of curiosity.

How can you become more curious?

  1. Ask more questions. There are no dumb questions, just missed opportunities. Even if you’re the most senior person in the room, you should always be challenging and ensuring you’re clear on the direction or answers.
  2. Try something new. Seek out new knowledge or experiences on a regular basis. Whether it’s reading a new book, podcast or networking to meet new people. Keep your curious funnel full.
  3. Take a different perspective. Be a devil’s advocate and seek out new and diverse perspectives. Looking at a problem or opportunity from a different angle can help you see things in a new way.

Katie Boland is an account director at APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.

#FutureForward: Enjoy boredom & tone down the crazy

In our #FutureForward series we ask members of our ruckus family to share their insights into what two skills they think will still be relevant in public relations, communications, marketing and digital in 30 years.

Diane Bégin , VP of integrated communications at APEX Public Relations/ ruckus Digital, discusses how boredom can be a blessing for a creative mind and why it might be time to cut down on distractions in the workplace.

The pace of our work in communications seems to accelerate as each year goes by, so when asked what skills will be needed in our profession decades from now, a couple things came to mind.

Both skills revolve around minimizing the ‘so busy’ badge of honour some proclaim – by learning to integrate boredom in your life and toning down the crazy around you.

Add boredom to your skillset

One of the greatest skills I’ve come to admire in my career is when people know how to disconnect, be bored and do nothing.

Surprisingly very few people seem to be able to, instead filling their time with Netflix, meditation, a book or going online to consume more content – anything else than being bored.

The thing is the less time you take to disconnect and do nothing, the less creative capacity you have. And, working in a creative field like communications, that becomes a career-limiting move.

A recent New York Times article said the Dutch call doing nothing ‘niksen.’ 

Niksen makes us “more creative, better at problem-solving, [and] better at coming up with creative ideas.” It also helps you refuel your lost energy.

The challenge however in our culture is finding the time to be bored. It’s something you have to proactively fit in (and the New York Times article offers five tips to help you with just that).

Surround yourself with anti-crazy

There seems to be no shortage of new distractions to add to our daily work lives – including adding productivity tools like Slack or Basecamp, which some say add to the noise rather than helping it.

Ironically one of my favourite recent reads was written by the founders of Basecamp – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – appropriately titled It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work.

Basecamp is an example of a small business with an international success story. Through their journey its founders learned to navigate away from the ‘crazy’ of a start-up lifestyle by bucking the expected.

While not everyone aspires to be the founder of a tech start-up, the book itself offers all kinds of tips that anyone can act on like knowing that three people is actually the sweet spot for efficiently running group projects and not creating dreadlines (i.e. unrealistic deadlines not fixed to anything realistic nor purpose driven) to help you win at work.

Diane Bégin is the VP of integrated communications at APEX Public Relations/ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.

#FutureForward: Once upon a time, good storytelling never went away

In our #FutureForward series we ask members of our ruckus family to share their insights into what two skills they think will still be relevant in public relations, communications, marketing and digital in 30 years.

Amanda Carreiro, community manager at ruckus Digital, discusses why story telling will be a powerful and crucial tool 30 years from now, regardless of what shape of form it comes in.

Things in the digital world seem to change at warp speed, so it’s no surprise that even as social media professionals we’re still constantly learning and adapting to the tools we use daily.

It’s nearly impossible to predict what the social media marketing landscape will look like in 5 years, let alone in 30 years. Who’s to say if the big 5 social media platforms we use today, will still be relevant? But there’s one thing that will never go away, and that’s the ability to story tell.

Long before technology, there was word of mouth stories and cave drawings; after that came books, then radio, then television – all media with the same message told in different ways. Good stories have always found a platform to exist, and when social media began to take over the way we consume content, storytellers adapted to that platform as well.

The stories we tell now may have a character limit, or a video time limit, but that hasn’t stopped brands from telling stories that resonate with consumers. In the last 5 years, we’ve seen brands and users alike find a way to tell vibrant stories in 10-second videos.

Good brand story telling comes in many forms. At its truest form, it’s the ability to take a brand’s essence and communicate it to a desired audience – whether that be physically or digitally.

Without a good story, brand messaging gets lost in the social feed without much impact – but a good brand story transcends the pixels on our screens and into our physical lives. It becomes the thing we think about, talk about, and (ideally) buy.

So, while the way we consume content may look completely unrecognizable 30 years from now, one thing will never change – we’ll still need to be good storytellers.

Amanda Carreiro is the community manager at ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.