Best Holiday Advertisements of All Time

The holidays are all about spreading good cheer to the masses. They are about delighting, entertaining, and moving others. The holidays present an invaluable opportunity for brands and marketers, not just for selling, but storytelling. The holiday season is a fitting time for companies to show people their culture, values, and principles.

Here are some brands that did it right, delivering the best holiday advertisements of all time:

This John Lewis ad just might make you tear a little. It tells the story of friendship between a boy, Sam, and his penguin friend, Monty. They play together all year, but as the weather turns cold, Monty begins to feel sad, and only Sam knows the problem. Monty the penguin is looking for love.

Hershey’s uses no words in this 1989 holiday commercial. The ad is short, sweet, and so effective. It’s also Hershey’s longest running product advertisement to date. Ogilvy & Mather succeeds with this charming, whimsical and simplistic advertisement, setting it apart from the rest.

Apple’s Emmy award-winning “Misunderstood” ad spot is about a kid who is seemingly too preoccupied with his iPhone 5S to engage with his family for the holiday. Later, however, it is revealed that he is, indeed, just misunderstood. Really nicely done, Apple.

This 1996 “Faint” advertisement by M&M has endured through the years and become a beloved holiday classic. The commercial features the meeting of two iconic “mythical” creatures. It’s cute, effective, and still elicits a chuckle after all these years.

What are your favorite holiday ads of all time? Share them here!

Crisis Communications: Steps to Prepare for and Respond to Crises


Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” It is certainly true—take Bill Cosby, for example. For decades he was “America’s Dad.” Today, he is a trending meme, his reputation in tatters due to numerous sexual assault allegations.

As President of a student-run public relations firm, I have encountered a few crises with clients in the food, law enforcement, and governmental sectors. It can be chaotic, overwhelming, and very stressful. While there is no foolproof strategy to preventing a crisis, there are some steps you can take to best prepare for and respond to crises when they arise.

Preparing for Crises:

crisis team

Anticipate Crises List out all potential situations that occur at your organization. This should be a joint effort within the company—you don’t want to miss a thing. Once you’ve identified all potential situations, have a plan for how to react should any crises arise, and be specific. Think about possible responses, best and worst case scenarios, etc.

Identify Crisis Communications Team This should be a small team made up of senior executives in the organization that are the heads of major organizational departments. The company CEO should lead the team, which should include the company’s top PR person. You might even want to retain a public relations agency that is specialized in crisis communications. It’s good to also have subject-specific experts to handle unique crises.

Designate and Train Spokespersons Spokespersons should be comfortable speaking to large groups of people, to the media, and in front of a camera. They should not be afraid to correct the media when they misreport facts. They should also understand and interact on social media. Depending on the crisis, you are likely to have different spokespersons.

Establish Notification and Monitoring Systems Know how to best reach your audiences when dealing with a crisis. How do they prefer to get their updates? Where do they communicate? Social media is often the best and fastest way, but don’t wait until a crisis to create these channels. Always be listening and monitoring what people are saying about your company—or your employees, products, or services. While the task may seem overwhelming, it’s necessary. And luckily there are tools to help, like Google Alerts. By monitoring, you have the chance to respond quickly and prevent minor situations from becoming full-blown crises. Monitoring will also help you adapt your messages and strategy during an ongoing crisis.

Identify Key Stakeholders Identify, in order of importance, your stakeholders, both internal and external, and assure they receive your messages. Johnson & Johnson decided its customers were most important to the company long before the 1982 crisis due to cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules. The company made the swift decision to pull all Tylenol bottles from shelves, despite it costing millions of dollars. The customers were more important than the investors.

Develop Holding Statements Although full messaging isn’t developed until the outbreak of the crisis, you can create statements for immediate use in advance of a crisis, such as, “Our hearts and prayers are with all of those affected, and we hope that they are well.” The team should regularly review and update these statements.

Source: Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.

Responding to Crises:

managing crisis

So you have your crisis plan and team in place, you are regularly listening and monitoring, but you begin to notice a negative trend developing. What’s next?

Set Expectations Let the public know when it can expect a response. It takes time to gather all of the facts and make sense of everything. If your organization is small, it can take even longer. Be exact, but be sure to stick to the expectation you set.

Get the Full Story What are the facts? Identify what happened, as well as what people think happened. How has the public reacted? What about the media? Which channels need immediate attention?

Be Honest and Open Don’t lie, and don’t say, “no comment.” If you are transparent and authentic, rumors will eventually go away and the situation might even blow over. Be transparent through all communication channels.

Communicate Early and Often Adapt your key messaging that you developed in your crisis plan to fit the situation. As you learn more, be the first to tell your audiences—all of them. As soon as you know, they should know, too. Otherwise, rumors will fill the silence.

Feedback Make sure your customers and other audiences know they are being heard. Reply to them directly and answer their questions in a timely manner. Although tempting, do not delete negative comments—people will think you have something to hide.

Learn From It Learn what worked and what didn’t. How could the situation have been prevented? What will you do differently next time? Go back to that crisis plan and update accordingly. It will help you majorly in the future! Related Articles:

Left Brain vs Right Brain

left brain right brain

Photo credit: Huffington Post

Introvert, extrovert, angsty teen, or drama queen? We use labels like these all the time to describe our friends and family, or people we dislike. We might not like to admit it, but the truth is, we naturally group people to fit certain labels, or personality traits. For example, we’ve all known and encountered the control freak, the ditz, the melodramatic—the list goes on.

What many people don’t know is that personality traits are often a result of dominating left-brain or right-brain hemispheres. But what do they mean?

Left Brain

Let’s break it down. Left-brain folks are extremely organized and systematic. They are goal-oriented and rarely absent-minded. Their world runs like clockwork—perfectly planned and in an orderly, linear fashion. A messy room or misplaced items? Not a chance. Left brainers are conscientious and meticulous individuals.

Math and science are a breeze, and complex problems or difficult decisions are handled with ease and expertise. Left brainers break everything down, analyze step by step, and come to a logically based conclusion. They are objective and reality based. They can well adjust in a changing environment and don’t let feelings get in the way of decision-making. Being ruled by emotion or impulses is not in a left brainers nature.

Left brainers like control and knowing. Think of the most recent team project you were part of. Who took over as group leader? Was it you? If so, you’re probably a left brainer. And yes, these were the kids who always sat at the front of the classroom.

While they aren’t risk-takers, left brainers are realistic and are fabulous planners who can be counted on to accomplish tasks. They make a great addition to marketing or public relations agencies due to their fantastic analytical skills and organization.

Fun Facts: Left-brain also indicates a preference for nonfiction, classical music, reading while upright, and dogs over cats. Has anyone come to mind yet?

Right Brain

Right brainers tend to be a little disorganized and can be unpredictable. They are impulsive and function spontaneously, and they aren’t concerned with keeping track of time or prioritizing. A day-planner? What’s that? Right brainers take life as it comes.

They are emotional and intuitive and act on feelings rather than reason. They express themselves through actions or by art and design. Right brainers are creative and visually orientated. These are your artsy friends, and they’re particularly skilled at writing fiction, playing music, and other hands-on activities.

Right brainers are more likely to focus on the “big picture” than the minute details. Can you think of a classmate or coworker who loves to spark philosophical discussions? That’s a right brainer! They have an insatiable desire to explore and understand why things are the way they are. These folks tend to be good with people and make great conversationalists.

While they can be a bit scatter-brained at times, they can be counted on to deliver fresh and innovative ideas. They refuse to be a passive observer and will jump on every opportunity to shake things up. Right brainers make fabulous additions to marketing and PR teams and agencies because of their ability to deliver that groundbreaking campaign idea, slogan, or advertisement!

Fun facts: Right brainers like rock music, fiction, noise, mysteries, multitasking, and cats over dogs.

A Tasty Example

To put it all in simpler terms, I like to use the example of a cupcake—after all, both right-brain and left-brain folks enjoy a cupcake now and then.


Photo credit:

The right brainers are the ones to dress the cupcake as if it were a work of art and make it look undeniably delectable, as if Betty Crocker baked it herself!

The left brainers, on the other hand, are the ones to insure all of the ingredients are included, in the proper order, and carried out to the to very last step…with a plan B whipped up just in case!

Well…What If I’m Somewhere In Between?

If you don’t fit neatly into one or the other, don’t worry! Many people possess traits from both sides, and they are equally wanted in the professional world. Marketing and public relations agencies not only look for those at the farthest ends of the pole, but those in the middle as well!

It’s great to have a little bit of both. It means you carry a wide range of knowledge and capabilities that any company would be lucky to have.

In addition, one isn’t better than the other. In fact, it is advantageous for a company to have both types on staff! Finding the perfect balance of left and right brainers can maximize marketing ventures to the fullest potential. Together, they make up a perfect team that achieves exceptional results.

So, are you left-brained, right-brained, or somewhere in between? Take the test and find out for sure!

Right Brain Left Brain Test

Results show that I use my brain equally! What do your results say?

Why I Got HubSpot Inbound Certified

Inbound Marketing Meme

I’m not sure what exactly piqued my interest in inbound marketing. Maybe it was HubSpot’s INBOUND 2014 conference, maybe it was HubSpot’s IPO. Whatever it was, HubSpot made inbound marketing a hot topic, at least in Boston. It certainly caught my attention, and I realized just how important and relevant it is. But what exactly is inbound marketing? This is the question I struggled to answer. And more importantly, how does one do it successfully?

These questions led me once again to HubSpot’s site, only I looked a little deeper this time. I came across HubSpot Academy and all it has to offer: certifications, webinars, examples, user groups, and more. The Inbound Certification, which is open to everyone, seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn and educate myself about inbound marketing. I earned my HubSpot Inbound Certification in one weekend.

The Inbound Certification

The certification consists of eleven courses that cover the core elements of Inbound Methodology. From the essentials of an effective inbound strategy to the fundamentals of blogging to cultivating happy customers, the classes provide a deep and clear understanding of what inbound is all about.

Each class is roughly 45 minutes long, and although this seems like lot to tackle in one weekend, HubSpot does a great job at keeping viewers entertained with amusing images, charts and graphics, along with a catchy tune that somehow didn’t get old. The courses are further broken down into chapters, and each course closes with a few key takeaways and additional resources to clear up any possible confusion. I appreciated the real-life examples provided to illustrate some of the more complex concepts.

For me, the sales and “smarketing” classes were totally foreign. I never learned past the attract and convert elements of the methodology. If this doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry. Start taking some courses, and HubSpot will clear everything up.

What I Learned

I learned a heck of a lot from the inbound classes, including some best practices for the various social media platforms, the four elements of a quality landing page, and how to best align content with the buyer’s journey. By the end, inbound marketing will make sense, I promise.

I highly recommend this certification program to every marketer, especially college students studying marketing. Inbound is the future of marketing, and sadly, university programs take far too long to catch up. Fear not, this program has got you covered.

The Exam

The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice and true or false questions that address important lessons from each course. You have 75 minutes to complete the test and three chances to pass it. If you don’t pass the first time, you will have to wait 48 hours before giving it another go. To earn your official certification, you must receive a 75% or higher on your test. The certification is then valid for 13 months from the month you received it.

Here are some tips for passing the exam:

  • Watch the classes in a quiet space where you can focus and won’t be distracted—Some lessons are more complex and will require your full attention.
  • Take notes as you learn—This will help you make sense of things, and you can refer to your notes as you take the test.
  • If something is not clear, use the additional resources provided—Take advantage of the extra resources at the end of each class to really drive home an idea or concept.
  • Thoroughly read the study guide provided—HubSpot has an awesome study guide that will prepare you for everything covered on the exam.
  • Check out this article—The 45 Inbound Marketing Terms You Should Know

Good luck and happy studying!

10 Tips for Establishing Strong Client-Agency Relationships

Excelling at client relations is an invaluable skill to have at a public relations agency. While it is a learning process, and every client is different, here are 10 sure-fire tips to help keep the client-agency relationship on the right path:

  1. Set realistic expectations. The agency should understand what challenges the client faces with regard to timing, budget, priorities and limitations. The client should also know what timing and results are possible and realistic for the agency.
  2. Get to know the client personally and professionally. It’s easy to want to get down to business instead of building the relationship with the client. When the time is right, learn a thing or two about the client without being intrusive.
  3. Add value to weekly meetings. Weekly meetings shouldn’t be a reading off of the to-do list. You should be contributing up to three new ideas every week and reporting progress made from the previous week.
  4. Call the client. Email is great and has its purpose, but you should engage with the client in other ways, too. Pick up the phone or meet face to face. Some of the best ideas are generated during these conversations.
  5. Acknowledge all client emails. Even if you don’t have the answer to a client’s question right away, always respond acknowledging you received the message and say when you’ll be able to give a proper response.
  6. However, it might not always be a two-way street. Don’t get upset if the client doesn’t respond to your calls or emails in a timely manner. Clients have a lot going on internally and spend many hours in meetings and conference calls. Cut them some slack.
  7. Build trust. Mutual trust is critical. It is important to build a solid foundation. You should set and meet deadlines and communicate with the client often. Demonstrate willingness to go the extra mile.
  8. Deliver results. If you are not delivering results for the client, the client will find someone else who can. To ensure their needs are met, check in regularly to make sure campaign efforts are in line with client priorities and expectations.
  9. Share bad news early on. It’s better to share bad news with the client sooner than later. No matter what it is, the client has the right to hear about it as soon as possible. Be upfront and then work on the solution together.
  10. Be the client. Within the agency, the account team is the client. The team is an extension of their marketing team and represents the client to the rest of the agency. Therefore, the team should always have the client’s best interests at heart.

Some additional articles I found helpful:

I’d love to see what you can add to the list!