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The Importance of Brainstorming

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With all of the new technology surrounding business in today’s society, brainstorming seems to be dropping off the radar—not because it isn’t effective, but because our minds are so used to the fast-paced and tech-centered way of life we don’t always take the time to do it.

Brainstorming by definition is a group or individual creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. But what happens when you can’t think of ways to successfully brainstorm? Since we know time is precious, we have listed some practices we employ at Avalon Communications below.

Brainstorming Techniques:

  • Use a whiteboard: We know, basic right? But you would be surprised at how much it helps to see things written down clearly on a board. By organizing your thoughts on paper (or board) you can better organize them in your mind.
  • Start thinking individually, then move into a group: It is better to think of your own ideas first, write them down and then share with the group. This not only streamlines your efforts, but you can see what others are thinking- giving you a new perspective on the issue at hand. Sometimes another member may have the same idea, but with a different angle- making for a great brainstorm!
  • Put some crazy ideas out there: Sure, they may be unreasonable and unrealistic, but it may spark another member’s mind to come up with something great!
  • No Judgment: No one likes to have their ideas thrown out the window. Make brainstorms a judge-free zone so everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts.
  • Listen: Most importantly you need to listen to other’s ideas. Do not just over-rule their ideas because you think you have a better one. Work together as a team!

These are just a few ways we find to be very successful in the workplace and hope they help you come up with some great ideas! Have some brainstorming tips of your own? Comment below!

Don’t forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook! Use #Brainstorm to submit tips!

Avalon Gives Back!

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Avalon Gives Back!

 At Avalon Communications we value the importance of giving back to the community and being based in Austin gives us many opportunities to do so! This week, we chose to help out at the CARITAS Kitchen in Downtown Austin, Texas.

First, what is CARITAS?

CARITAS is a non-profit that serves over 20,000 people each year whose opportunities have been diminished by poverty and homelessness. They serve households of all sizes, many being those of refugees, veterans, women and children. They work alongside each and every one of these people to increase their stability and self-sufficiency regardless of the clients’ past experience and future goals.

How did we help?

Every week day, CARITAS staff members and volunteers help prepare and serve lunch to those in need. This Wednesday, several of us at Avalon were happy to be a part of the CARITAS kitchen! We had the help of the wonderful CARITAS staff members as well as students of the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Austin to guide us through kitchen prep, food service and clean-up for 320 people. At 9 o’ clock sharp it was all hands on deck! We helped prepare the food, learned some very interesting kitchen facts from our knowledgeable mentors and in no time, it was time for lunch. The food looked delicious (and tasted even better according to those who came through the door) and the company was delightful.

How Can YOU help?

We know after reading about our experience at CARITAS you may be wondering what you can do to help. They are always looking for volunteers and it’s easy to sign up- follow this link.

This experience not only gave us a great opportunity to help those in need, but also bond with our co-corkers as well as our city!

Want to see pictures from our day at CARITAS? Check out our Facebook Page.

Where do you like to volunteer? Share with us on Twitter!

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Public Relations, Trade Shows and Social Media Oh My!

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Social media has become so popular that now companies may see their consumer base to be synonymous with their social media platform friends, followers or fans! This makes a companies’ social media presence all the more important when it comes to live events such as concerts, festivals, fundraisers or trade shows. At Avalon Communications our clients attend many trade shows throughout the year- most recently Natural Products Expo, Engredea, Global Pet Expo and IHA!

For many consumer product companies, a trade show is a chance to get their products out there and increase brand awareness among attendees. Another important aspect of a trade show is the way attendees communicate with both each-other and the social world- something that has become increasingly important in today’s fast-paced society.

So, how exactly do you implement social media into a live event? We have listed a few key components below.

  1. Visit the Trade Show website.  Here you can see which social media platforms they use and which ones you should use for your client- FOLLOW THEIR ACCOUNTS.
  2. Hashtag, Hashtag, Hashtag! Create hashtags that use your clients name, booth number and trade show-provided hashtag (usually the name of the show) so attendees can easily search a hashtag and find your booth! Chances are the trade show tag will be trending and your client will gain even more exposure!
  3. Post Pictures. This is a two-birds-with-one-stone type of deal. Not only are you getting exposure for your client, but people LOVE pictures and are more likely to re-tweet, like or share your image (bonus if the Trade Show account shares it)!
  4. Interact with people. This is very important- at the show some attendees may tweet you back asking where your booth is, when they should stop by or even post a picture at your booth. They also expect an immediate response from the company- so be sure you are keeping up with the conversation.
  5. Content is key. If there is one rule you should keep in mind when running a social media campaign for a live event- it is what you are doing with your content. Always include the booth number and name of your client so no matter what attendees will know where you are and who you are.

These are just a few of the tactics we employ at Avalon Communications when it comes to maintaining a social media presence at trade shows- and we hope this serves as a building block to social media success!

What is your favorite platform to use at live events? Comment Below! Don’t forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

 

Time Management

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Time management is a phrase commonly used in resumes, interviews or maybe on a poster in your office- but do the people that use this phrase really understand its meaning and practice it in the workplace?

In business, time management is very important not only for your personal benefit but for your co-workers, clients and anyone else you interact with. Do you give yourself enough time to complete your tasks? Do you prioritize them based on deadlines? Do you allow room for interruptions that may occur? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, you may need to improve your time management skills.

It is understandable that some may not know where to start when it comes to time management- so we have listed a few key practices that will help below.

How to Manage Your Time Wisely

  • Prepare for interruptions: As a professional, interruptions happen- sometimes good, sometimes not so good- but you need to be ready for them. A deadline does not change just because a conflict came up and you will still be expected to finish your work.
  • Plan Ahead: If you have a reoccurring commitment like a meeting every Wednesday you should always plan around that. You know it is going to happen, so there is no excuse if you forget to fit it into your schedule.
  • Make a To-Do List: This may sound basic, but it really works! Either the night before or in the morning, write down everything you need to get done that day. By writing these down you can see exactly what you have to get done that day and it feels great to check off tasks as you go! (It helps to put a star next to the most important tasks)
  • 30 Seconds or Less: When handed a new task, ask yourself if it can be completed in 30 seconds or less. If so, go ahead and do it! If not, write it down on your To-Do list and complete it when you can.
  • Be Organized: There is no greater way to waste your time than by being unorganized. Take the time to make sure everything is easily accessible, filed correctly and in order— your life will be much easier as will your work day.

These are just a few of the strategies we employ at Avalon Communications as we know that time is precious for both our clients and the media.

How do you manage your time in the workplace? Comment below!

Don’t forget to Follow Us on Twitter and Like Us on Facebook!

 

Email Etiquette

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In business, most communication happens via email- which is why proper email etiquette should be something every company practices. An email is the starting point of communication for many professionals- and to get past the first “introduction” step of communication certain steps must be taken.

At Avalon Communications, we value our clients as well as our media contacts, and to us, email is a very important form of communication. Below are some points that we strive for in each correspondence.

Turnaround Time:  Always respond to an email in less than 24 hours. This not only shows that you are paying attention to the recipient but that you are readily available for what may come up.

Proper Greeting: Always double check who you are sending an email to, and make sure it correlates with the salutation. (There is nothing worse than calling someone the wrong name).

Grammar: As a professional, grammar is key. If you misspell a word, or worse, the recipient’s name- they may delete your email without hesitation. Always use spell-check.

Attachments: If you say in the body of your email that you have added an attachment, make sure it is attached.

Signature: Be sure that your signature includes your name, title, company name and address and company email

As you form relationships via email, you may notice that certain people format emails in certain ways, or like different types of responses; some may like you to get straight to the point (especially if they need information asap) while others may like a more conversational tone.

These are just a few tips on how to receive greater response via email as well as form greater bonds with those you are communicating with- if you have any other tips comment below- we would love to hear your thoughts!

 

The Importance of Brand Awareness

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When people hear the word ‘brand’ many things may come to mind. It may be their favorite brand of shoe, or perhaps their favorite clothing brand. All of this is thanks to a thing we like to call Brand Awareness.

By definition, Brand Awareness is the extent to which a brand is recognized by potential customers, and is correctly associated with a particular product.

 

Why do brands/companies need this?

Brand Awareness is very, very important and a defining factor in any products success. If consumers recognize a product, they are more likely to purchase, as well as recommend said product to their friends- which in turn increases sales!

 

There are two types of Brand Awareness: Top of Mind and Aided.

Top of Mind awareness is the highest level of awareness. This means that when a customer is in need of a product, a brand name comes to mind. For example, Person A asks Person B what type of detergent they like; Person B automatically says they really enjoy A+ Detergent. This means that A+ Detergent has reached “Top of Mind” Awareness.

Aided awareness is when a consumer may not be able to name a brand off the top of their head, but is able to recognize one brand name when multiple are present. For example, Person A asks Person B what type of detergent they like. Person B is unsure, so Person A gives him a list of common detergents. Person B then remembers that they enjoy A+ Detergent.

 

At Avalon Communications, we work closely with each client to develop compelling and consistent communication with the consumer media in order to increase brand awareness. We do so by identifying the best target markets for each product to ensure wide spread visibility. This visibility in turn encourages Top of Mind awareness and incrementally drives sales.

 

New Year’s Resolution at Work: Be Organized!

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As 2013 comes to a close and 2014 nears, many are thinking about their New Year’s Resolutions. Some might want to spend more time with family, or lose those stubborn pounds, but what is your “Work” Resolution?

First you need to know what a Work Resolution is. A Work Resolution is similar to a regular New Year’s Resolution, but it applies to work!

Why is this important? At Avalon Communications, we believe that setting goals is important to not only encourage hard work, but create a system that in the end gives you the satisfaction of a job well done! Being that New Year’s is just around the corner, what better way to do so than with a Resolution!

There are many, many different types of Work Resolutions out there. Some include: Improve productivity, be on time more often, use time more efficiently or even improve your email response time. All of these are great ideas! If you are stuck on deciding what your Work Resolution should be, there is one idea that all Resolutions boil down to. Get Organized.

Organization is key in every aspect of life, and at work it is a MUST.

There are many ways you can go about this, but the key is to take baby steps. Here are some ideas:

  1. De-Clutter your desk.
    1. If you constantly have miscellaneous items scattered on your desk, you WILL get distracted. Make a habit by clearing your workstation every time you leave the office, this way when you come in the morning your mind won’t be overwhelmed with clutter.
  2. Clean up your email.
    1. This task is a must whether your have 1,000 emails or 100. You will be amazed by how much your productivity increases with the simple organization of emails! Not only will your response time improve, but you will be able to find emails faster (Rather than scrolling through all of them).
  3. Have a planner.
    1. Whether this is on your computer, phone or in a physical book- a planner is necessary. In any business there are sure to be a million things going on at once, and if you don’t organize them in some way one is bound to slip your mind.
  4. Sort the Files on your Desktop.
    1. If you turn on your computer in the morning only to see 200 Folders, Documents, Spreadsheets, etc. on your Desktop- you might want to organize it. Sure, you may be used to seeing all of the icons there but once it is cleaned up your brain will give a big sigh of relief.

Hopefully these tips help you start down the path to an Organized Workspace and help you reach your New Year’s “Work” Resolution!

 

The Pursuit of Happiness (at Work)

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We all know that sometimes sitting at your desk day after day may get a little repetitive, therefore making work less fun- and who wants that?! Work should be a place where ideas come to life, where you feel relaxed and confident in your progress and ultimately a place that you actually want to wake up for in the morning.

The atmosphere at Avalon Communications is the perfect balance between work and play. We get things done, but have fun while doing so. Below are some fun ways to make the workplace a happy place.

Strategy Sessions

Sure, this sounds more like work than play- but they really work! Grab your co-workers, order in some lunch and simply have a conversation! Talk about your clients, their products, what you are working on now, or any questions you might have. Sitting at the same table and engaging in open conversation is a great way to brainstorm, and maybe even solve some problems! It is always nice to have a fresh perspective on ideas, and a strategy session solves just that (Plus it involves food).

Celebrate Holidays

The Holidays are always a fun time at home, so why not make them fun at work? Celebrate co-workers birthdays, have a Christmas party! This year at Avalon, we are having a Secret Santa! Having fun things like this in the office make the day a little less stressful and also show that your company really cares about you as an employee.

Make the Office Aesthetically Appealing

No one wants to work in an office that could double as a prison cell. Not only will employees be happier at an office that looks good, but they will get more work done as well! Some décor may be out of your hands- but even a simple tree at Christmas time can set a happy mood in the office.

These are just a few of the ways we like to keep it fun at Avalon, but at the end of the day it is about productivity and getting our jobs done. Keep in mind that the saying goes, “Work Hard, Play Hard” and not the other way around.

Hope you all have a FUN day at work!

Client Relationships

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Relationships in life are important. Relationships in the Public Relations industry are even MORE important.

 

Many companies may realize that clients are important, if not key, to a thriving business. What they do not realize is that maintaining a relationship with said client is crucial. Sure, you may have landed the biggest client your company has ever seen, but if they feel neglected one thing is for sure- you will not be seeing them again.

 

Like many people, the client wants to feel in the loop. They want to feel appreciated, and know that their product (which they have spent countless hours creating) is in good hands. From a company standpoint, you should want to take care of your client and make sure they feel comfortable with how you are representing their product.

 

Here is where companies might get confused about client relationships. They may not know exactly how to maintain a continuous, happy relationship with their clients. Some think that an emailing a client once a month will suffice, others may not even think a follow up email is needed.

 

At Avalon, we believe that in order to develop solid, long term client relationships the following rules must be implemented.

  1. Keep them in the loop. Whether this is by email or phone it is important that the client knows what is going on with their product at all times. Not only does constant communication open the doors for a great relationship, but it gives both you and the client greater insight for future business.
  2. Be conversational. It is important to keep conversations business appropriate, but remember that clients are people too. Simply adding a “Hope you have/had a great weekend!” can greatly alter the way you are perceived by a client.
  3. Reply in a reasonable amount of time. The client has things to do and a company to run, so their time is precious. If they email or call you, try to respond quickly. Not only does it show that you care about them, but it shows you are dedicated to their product. how to backup iphone to icloud .
  4. Be positive. Even if things are not going in the direction you hoped, or moving as quickly as anticipated- keep your head up! Always find something good in the situation and communicate that to your client. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

If you ever doubt whether or not to check in with a client, just remember-not one company will ever say, “Wow, I wish I didn’t know what was going on with my product.”

By employing the above practices, Avalon clients can rest assured that their brand is in good hands, and will always be given the care it needs.

 

 

The Evolution of Public Relations

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Many say the world is constantly changing- what used to be ‘cool’ is now out of style, what used to be ‘new technology’ is now outdated. The Public Relations industry fits this trend, and does so very rapidly. (Hence the gallons of coffee PR Pro’s ingest every day).

Gone are the days when companies didn’t have an online presence, and here are the days with multiple social platforms, mobile news and bloggers. If you need information you can find it with the swipe of your finger on any mobile device. Looking for a coffee shop? There’s an app for that. expired domains Don’t know how to get to that coffee shop? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that too. domain server

Yes, the way we communicate has evolved- but the basic principles of Public Relations will always be the same. Relationships will always matter, credibility is key, and we must always be prepared to respond quickly to whatever comes our way. THAT is the beauty of Public Relations.

 

 

 

Ready to talk about driving exposure for your brand and products? Contact us today