Using empowerment to make a movement.

If a child’s struggling to read by first grade, research shows there’s nearly a ninety percent chance that they will remain that way. Literally, billions of brain cells are being formed each time you talk, read and sing to a child as neurological formations and connections create eighty percent of a child’s brain by age three. Sadly, children who are not talked, read and sang to from the moment they’re born come to kindergarten unprepared.

Unfortunately, sharing these facts doesn’t motivate everyone to take action, so Fraser Communications found an emotional way to inspire and empower parents and caregivers.

José Moreno Hernández, a former NASA astronaut, was featured in the first of an upcoming series of “How I Really Got Here” television commercials for First 5 California. Hernández comes from a family of migrant farmers who annually followed the harvest up north from Mexico through San Diego, Palm Springs and Salinas to pick crops. In fact, Hernández himself picked crops as a child.

Hernández’s mother and family knew the value of talking, reading and singing to him even at an early age and he attributes his success and happiness to their early engagement with him. Fraser uses this story of migrant farmer to NASA astronaut to empower other parents and show the impact they too can have in their children achieving their dreams.

Through focus groups, Fraser shared Hernández’s story with parents possessing a second or third grade education level. Fraser saw first-hand the value and effectiveness of bringing forth a relatable story that gave them hope and the feeling that helping their children achieve success is within the realm of possibility. They suddenly realized the impact they can have on their children’s futures. Parents who felt their language skills weren’t good enough to speak to their children or read them a book became empowered.

That’s why Fraser used the line, “Talk. Read. Sing.®, It changes everything℠,” to empower us to positively impact every child’s future. To say that parents and caregivers really can change everything, including the trajectory of their children’s lives, through simple and easy tasks like:

  • Reading packages of food when out shopping together
  • Counting cars on the road
  • Walking and describing trees and houses
  • Talking about the colors of buildings while driving
  • Singing songs to your child as an infant
  • Reading every chance you get

By finding relevant and relatable stories, we are able to inspire the confidence that anyone can do this. Psychologically, it’s very important that the message is encouraging, rewarding and empowering. And, through research, we were able to understand the challenges parents and caregivers face along with their personal hesitations.

Previously, scientists and teachers believed in a “late bloomer” or developmental lag theory that suggested learning gaps would disappear as the brain matured and that intervention wasn’t necessary. However, in light of new research this theory has been put to rest.

Today, scientists and teachers believe in the skill deficit theory that states waiting doesn’t work and that early on, children need to be taught reading and writing skills directly and intensively. In fact, waiting can actually be detrimental as the child falls further behind.

Other data correlates poor reading skills early on with negative outcomes further on in life:

Despite these statistics, this empowerment strategy taps into people’s confidence and their own self perceptions as opposed to using guilt or shame to motivate them. This strategy has helped guide our other social campaigns such as Water: The Healthiest Choice, Healthy Eating Out, and Choose Health LA Moms for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health as well as Profiles of Hope for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

How to create thought leaders by holding back your thoughts.

To create leaders, Renee Fraser, CEO of Fraser Communications, has created a Rule of Three to help mentor and grow her employees.

“When I am the leader of a group,” said Fraser, “I deliberately don’t step in at least three times in a meeting. After years of working in the industry, I find myself always having something to contribute to the conversation. However, always sharing what I know can be detrimental to growing internal leaders in a business.”

Countless others agree.

“Great leaders know when to get out of the way and let their team members take over,” said Iman Jalali, Chief of Staff at ContextMedia. “A great leader knows he or she doesn’t have all the answers but that their teams do. They trust and listen to their teams and empower them to do great work. They clear the path for success.”

With Fraser’s Rule of Three, less is more when both creating leaders and being a leader. Of course, meetings are discussed ahead of time. Ideas flow, solutions are bandied about, insights are gained. Hopefully, these are absorbed, and it’s vital to Fraser that her employees adopt and “own” insights and solutions. Here’s where the seeds of compelling communication take root.

“When you plant a seed in the ground,” said Jake Ducey, author of Into the Wind, “after you water it and such, you let it go. It grows if it supposed to. You can only do so much. Let the natural process of things unfold when your work is done. Trust is what makes life magical.”

Whether it’s magic or just the course of nature, overdoing it as a leader is an important mistake to avoid.

“In meetings, either internally or with a client,” said Fraser. “I might have the insight or the right word, but I have to hold back and watch how others might get there on their own. And when they do get there on their own, I might add what I know to solidify their position. This is an important moment for them. It empowers them.”

Fraser makes a good point as bosses that micromanage or interrupt can debilitate the most creative employee and is also one of the top three reasons employees resign.

“The costs associated with long-term micromanagement can be exorbitant,” said Dr. Collins from the College of Business and Administration at Southern Illinois University. “Symptoms such as low employee morale, high staff turnover, reduction of productivity and patient dissatisfaction can be associated with micromanagement. Ultimately, micromanagement leads to decreased growth potential in a department.”

So, how does one mitigate the risks of micromanaging employees? First, by hiring capable employees and second, by understanding the reason that, like a seed, managers need to step back and let the natural process of growth take over, while nurturing the atmosphere to let that seed grow.

“A truly effective manager sets up those around him to succeed,” said James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com. “Micromanagers, on the other hand, prevent employees from making – and taking responsibility for – their own decisions. But, it’s precisely the process of making decisions, and living with the consequences, that causes people to grow and improve.”

Whether you are the manager or the managed, the planter or the seed, the speaker or the audience, to grow people need to make their own decisions, come to their own conclusions and share their own voices. When this happens, new ideas and fresh thinking, bolstered by confidence, emerge, which any team or organization wants and needs.

When you know when not to talk, you can create thought leaders.

5 necessary skills to become a creative director.

Making the leap from student to creative director takes a lot more finesse than one may think. To help close the gap, Sergio Belletini the VP, Creative Director at Fraser Communications, shares the top five necessary skills for anyone jumping into the creative industry.

1. CONCEPTUALIZATION

Conceptualization, idea generation and strategy are the building blocks of any great campaign. You need to be able to, not only understand your concept but, be able to strategize and gather ideas. When a strategy takes into consideration brand values, pop culture, current events, and more, it evolves from a concept into a big idea that can support a larger campaign. Keep in mind that, although you may generate a conceptual idea, verbalizing and “selling it” are also necessary for it to succeed.

2. DIGITAL

We all know digital is taking over. First, digital started small, on a computer or laptop. Today, digital is unavoidable. It’s in your hand on your phone, in your commute on a billboard, and even in your car on the monitor. Learn digital and learn it well by studying how people use information and what content motivates them.

3. STORYTELLING

This is an age old practice stemming from stories being passed down from generation to generation. In today’s world, storytelling is how your brand is passed from social media, vendors, friends and more to a consumer. By developing your storytelling skills, you’re making sure creative fits into the image of a brand. Make sure your stories are not only engaging to consumers, but also true to your client’s strategic direction.

4. PROBLEM SOLVING

“Every assignment starts with a problem,” Belletini said. “From driving traffic to raising awareness, every client will come to you with a problem that needs to be solved.”

If you are able to find solutions through your creative, you’ll be an invaluable asset to any creative team. Learn strategies and methodologies to improve your problem solving skills.

5. COMMUNICATION

“You can’t just show me your portfolio,” Belletini said. “You need to be able to discuss it.”

Communication is key and, believe it or not, it’s a key skill to rise to the top in the creative industry. A designer can create images from behind the computer screen, but a creative director brings them to life in front of a client. Sergio recommends classes such as Toastmaster to develop speaking and presenting skills.

This blog post was inspired after Belletini attended an event in Los Angeles showcasing portfolios of recent graduates. Belletini has been the VP, Creative Director at Fraser Communications for the last eight years.

10 acronyms every digital advertiser should know.

Have you ever walked into a meeting and realized you just found a portal into another dimension? If you have walked into a digital media meeting then you know exactly what I am talking about. Famous for explaining acronyms with acronyms, the jargon can be more than overwhelming. To help keep you on planet earth at your next digital meeting, I compiled this list of ten most commonly used digital acronyms.

CMS – CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

content-management-system-img-01

These systems are platforms that aggregate and organize data in an easy to use way. By creating this interface, users can concentrate on creating content as opposed to website coding. WordPress, Drupal, and Tumblr are all examples of CMS interfaces.

CPA – COST PER ACTION / COST PER ACQUISITION

Advertisers pay per a specified action or acquisition such as registered users, documents downloaded, photos taken, etc. If an action such as registration is particularly difficult due to multiple forms of verification, a different CPA may be used to determine actual interest in the site. At the end of the day, this is typically the bottom line showing how many paid customers were acquired as a result of an effort.

CPC – COST PER CLICK / PPC – PAY PER CLICK

This is one of the most commonly used cost determinants in which advertisers pay per clicks on the ad.

CPP – COST PER POINT

This is a little more complicated than the previous two. With CPP, advertisers pay to make an impression on 1 percent of the total population or, in another acronym, the GRP (gross rating point). The GRP is a measure of the size of an advertising campaign but it is not a measure of the size of the audience reached.

CPM – COST PER THOUSAND

Advertisers pay to make 1,000 ad impressions on their target audience. The “M” is especially confusing because it used to stand for mille. What is mille you ask? Mille translates to thousand in Old French and Latin.

CTR – CLICK-THROUGH RATE

This is the percentage of users who clicked on (aka clicked-through) the ad.

ctr

DMA – DESIGNATED MARKET AREA

The DMA is a specified region where the population can receive the same (or similar) offerings from everything such as television, radio, newspaper and online media. Confusingly, one market area may spill into another. This means that someone on the edge of one market area might receive a message designated for another.

Time zones are an easy way to understand this concept. Although business is conducted in a specific time zone, someone can stand over the line and be in two time zones at once.

US Map of Nielsen Media Markets
Map of Nielen Designated Marketing Areas (DMA) specifically highlighting the Los Angeles DMA.

MRI – MEDIAMARK RESEARCH INC.

Do you like Excel? Do you like data? If so, this is the acronym for you! Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI) is a research organization that provides in-depth data to media planners through surveys covering over 26,000 U.S. residents. This detailed information allows media planners to analyze subsets of demographics.

ROI – RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Everyone wants a high ROI because this number not only shows the benefit received from an investment but it makes you look good to your boss. To find ROI, use the following calculation:

roi

UX – USER EXPERIENCE

UX refers to the usability of a product when considering all qualitative aspects such as ease of use or intuitiveness. UI (User Interface) is commonly used with UX but refers more to the qualitative aspects of the site asking questions such as, “Do the buttons, links, and functions work?”

The following image breaks down product, UX, UI, server and database into easy to understand cereal terminology.

product

All-in-all digital can be a confusing space to work in. It’s a constantly evolving universe with acronyms flying around everywhere. If you are new to digital media, be prepared as these ten acronyms are only the beginning of your journey into the digital dimension.

Acronym fan? Check out these resources to decode them all:

What intentional living means to successful business leaders.

On Tuesday, November 3 at the Women’s Leadership Counts event our CEO Renee Fraser, PhD moderated an inspiring panel for the Japan America Society of Southern California. As a wrap up, Renee asked each panelist to share advice for up and coming business leaders. Everyone’s advice varied slightly but they all centered on meaningfulness and “intentional living.”

Photo - Mari Miyoshi (Square)“I feel people are more successful if they, ‘have a small brain and a big heart.’ Not using too much thinking, instead using the heart to tap into what is inside, very deep inside.” – Mari Miyoshi, President, Sumitomo Realty and Development U.S.A. and Sumitomo Fudosan Hotel Villa Fontaine Co., Ltd. Japan

Photo - Yoko Narahashi (Square)“Every day we do the same things. Try to discover how every moment is different. Learn from every moment and have joy in every moment. Discover what is different even though you are doing the same thing.” – Yoko Narahashi, President, United Performer Studio

Photo - Robert Rivero (Square)“Be sure to lead your people, don’t manage them. Find out what motivates key members and help them with that. Make sure you have purity of information when you make a decision. Talk to everyone and find out how this decision will affect them. But, ultimately you make the decision. Show you care about the people so they will want to follow you.” – Robert A. Rivero, CEO, RAR Management Services LLC

Rona-Tison“In building relationships and leading your team you have to ask yourself, what makes it warm and fuzzy so you want to come back? It’s not about a thing. It’s about empathy and heart. Tap into those things that are really important because in the end it’s all about the interconnection of people.” – Rona Tison, SVP, Corporate Relations, ITO EN (North America) INC.

The esteemed host, panelists, and moderator of the second annual Women's Leadership Counts event for the Japan America Society of Southern California held at the InterContinental in Century City. (From left to right: Rona Tison, Renee Fraser PhD, Mari Miyoshi, Yoko Narahashi, Hiroko Tatebe, and Robert Rivero)
The esteemed host, panelists, and moderator of the second annual Women’s Leadership Counts event for the Japan America Society of Southern California at the InterContinental in Century City. (Left to right: Rona Tison, Renee Fraser PhD, Mari Miyoshi, Yoko Narahashi, Hiroko Tatebe, and Robert Rivero)

Easy ways to not mess up your first conference.

This is post college life, which means I still get excited about free food and conference swag as if it’s the first day of freshman year.

“Is my outfit professional enough?” I said while walking into the hotel, “Why did I bring so much stuff? Is that a breakfast burrito buffet?!”

If you’re like me, your first business conference will be a myriad of internal questions, awkward business reunions, and realizations as to why CEOs drink so much coffee. Either way, this short list will help you make the best impression for yourself and your company. After all, they sent you because you’re capable and will make a great impression. These tips are just the icing on the cake.

FOLLOW UP: Don’t forget the whole reason you went to the conference was to become more educated and make connections. Follow up with your connections after the event even if you don’t see a current opportunity. You never know where your next referral might come from.

Following up at the hotel. It is never too early!
Following up at the hotel. It’s never too early!

DETAIL ORIENTED: Remember little details about your conversations and interactions with people at the conference. When you follow up use these details to remind them who you are and how you became acquainted. This will help your email separate itself from the pile of boring sales pitches while showing how observant you are.

LOUD AND PROUD: Say your name and company every time you speak in front of a group. Every time you get up is a chance to market yourself and your company. I’m going to add that if you don’t speak loudly and clearly, what’re you really marketing? By speaking exuberantly and confidently you do one of two things – first, people can hear you and second, people pay attention to you.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Write a short elevator speech about your company and memorize it. Practice it in front of your boss and ask if they have any tweaks. Practice in front of a mirror and see if you have any tweaks. If you’re really ambitious, make an elevator speech for the different sectors your company works with. For example, as an advertiser, my speech would be much different for another advertiser versus a potential client. Lastly, make it sound natural. Nothing is worse than a fully rehearsed lifeless speech. You’re better off making friends on a personal level than spitting off something unnatural and over rehearsed.

SLEEP TIGHTS: Notice I said tights as in plural. Trust me, coffee can only do so much when you have to talk, schmooze, and engage with people for fifteen hours a day. Good sleep before and during the conference will allow you to wake up for breakfast while making it to the after party.

LESS IS MORE: Walking into my first conference I had a huge bag, which after two minutes I realized was a mistake. Take my advice; the less you carry the better. Things are heavy, the conference is long, you look like a bag lady, and you’ll usually get another bag full of stuff. Oh, and the company materials you’re carrying? Most people don’t want to see them. You’re right in front of them. Now is the time to wow them with your personality. If anything, bring a tablet or smartphone so you can show them a file or interactive website. The only thing people want to take from you is a business card and even then sometimes they take a picture.

BE THE REALEST: I cannot tell you how many times I had someone walk up to me or vice versa and they had no clue that they were talking to me. I listen to people so I quickly pick up on who they are. Other people, after I dropped multiple hints, still hadn’t the slightest clue. Remember people and when you see them acknowledge them. After all, the business community is smaller than you think and you will see them again.

I met Rose in the lobby of my hotel and ended up sitting at the same table for the gala dinner. She looked different dressed up but it was still Rose!
I met Rose in the lobby of my hotel and ended up sitting at the same table for the gala dinner. She looked different dressed up but, it was still Rose!

STAY FLY: The conference I went to had a gala at the end and a lot of people were unprepared, including me. Luckily, in an absurd amount of clothing a friend left in my car, I found something. Others weren’t so fortunate. A man at the conference drove to a nearby mall to grab a white shirt and tie to dress up for the gala – not how I want to spend our only two-hour break! So, prepare for the worst and bring one outfit to look your best.

Testing my selfie stick in my pulled together outfit. Luckily the conference was in California!
Testing my selfie stick in my pulled together outfit. Luckily the conference was in California!

MAKE IT RAIN: Bring cash to tip the valet, server, etc. Nothing is worse than nailing the elevator speech, getting the business card and then walking out to grab your car from the valet only to look like a total snob or that your company isn’t paying you enough. We all know that first impressions are everything so, make sure little things such as tipping the valet don’t tip the scales the wrong way.

The Bacara in Goleta was much fancier than expected.
The Bacara in Goleta was much fancier than expected.

WAX ON, WAX OFF: This goes a little with the valet along with the chance someone at the conference asks you to carpool. My co-worker wouldn’t get into my car because of the aforementioned closet however, if someone at the conference asked for a ride I would have been mortified. Make sure your car is clean enough for a tagalong. And if not, you better have your Uber up and running!

TEST THAT SELFIE: We got selfie sticks at our conference and my co-workers didn’t work! Luckily we tested the swag and he got another one – now we have a bunch of selfies.

Bruce and Will decided to join in and test the selfie stick. #selfienation
Bruce and Will decided to join in and test the selfie stick. #selfienation

All in all conferences are a great way to make new friends in the business world. You should be fine as long as you have fun while bringing your business cards and some cash.

Marketing to millennials: the golden age group.

Millennials (born approximately 1980-2000) have single handedly changed the landscape of the marketing and advertising industries. Seen as the golden age group for advertisers, they are highly valued customers. Through well-placed ads, this generation can easily become a lifelong customer, and with the average life expectancy at an all-time high of 71.5 years, who wouldn’t want that? If you agree, you aren’t the only one.

Multiple companies have hired Fraser Communications to actively study millennials as consumers. If millennials are the golden egg, digital is the goose from which they were laid. Aimlessly walking with handheld devices monopolizing their gaze, this generation spends at least four hours per weekday browsing online through a mobile device.

This spike in technology use has placed the expectation on premiere companies to stay ahead of the latest trends. Advertisers using traditional modes of delivery have to get more creative to reach millennials. Only the most engaging/interactive ads will attract millennials undivided attention and even then you are relying on social media to help proliferate your message. So, why not skip the big ad spend and feed the digital goose that is laying your golden millennial eggs? This is exactly why digital has exploded.

By 2019, U.S. advertisers are expected to spend $103 billion on digital advertising, over passing TV by $17.2 billion. Many companies are unleashing their own apps in an effort to reach these tech-savvy consumers where they are, including the option to share their behavior via social media platforms. The innovation of blogs, vlogs and the expansion of YouTube has been a game changer for self-marketing and advertising. Powerhouse brands and startups are also taking advantage of free marketing by hiring and employing social media experts and managers, whose sole job is to create fun, lively content to further engage millennials.

This is both an exciting and challenging time for marketers. The industry is changing daily, forcing marketers to not only stay informed, but to stay ahead. In a world where being late to the party and failing to take advantage of the newest technologies could cost you big, many may feel overwhelmed. However, if you see the glass as half full, this is an opportunity to embrace the endless possibilities that exist to not just sell to, but engage with millennials.