Public Relations Tips for College Graduates

After the excitement of graduation wears off, it seems that all you’re left with is nothing but free time. Now it’s time to get a job, right? Before you send out your resume and pick out your best interview clothes, there are a few things you need to do to make sure you are as prepared as possible for the job hunt. Let’s face it - we can all use polishing every now and then to better ourselves in an effort to land the dream job.

Clean up your social media profiles.

Your professors and parents have probably passed along this tip. You grew up during a time when social media was a part of your every day life. You are programmed to update your friends and family on daily occurrences, even if they weren’t all that important. Employers can and will search for your profiles to get a better sense of who you are. Make sure you comb through your posts and photos and take out anything that may not represent you in the best light. And don’t forget to create and update your LinkedIn profile!

Keep your Portfolio up-to-date.

As a senior, you should have a portfolio of all the work you did during your time in school. You don’t have to keep every single thing you created in the last four years; however, it’s important to use your portfolio to showcase your absolute best work. Also, keep a current copy of your resume in your portfolio as well so employers will learn about you and be able to discuss your experience during the interview.

Be as versatile as possible

As you probably already know, there are many people who are applying for the same jobs as you…with the same abilities as you. It’s never too late to learn a new skill that will set you apart from the others. This will make you more marketable and more desirable to any employer. Once you’ve landed the job, look for ways to improve as well. You never want to stop learning.

Make as many connections as you can

Networking may sound very intimidating and daunting! And, it can be hard if you’ve never done it before. It’s best to do it while you’re still in college, but there will be many chances to network after graduation as well. Joining groups related to your career is a great way to meet people. You are able to meet professionals in your field that can lead you in the right direction. Invite a professional in your field to coffee and pick their brain. Even if they can’t get you a job, they may know someone who’s looking for someone with your talents.

Research anything and everything

Many aspects of public relations focus on research. When looking at potential jobs, research everything you can about that company. That will help you create questions during your interviews. With the versatility that the public relations field has to offer, explore all of the different jobs that are possible. You could work for a firm managing social media accounts or planning events for various clients. Don’t get stuck looking for “a job,” look for your dream job.

Don’t worry if you don’t find a job right out of college. Use these tips to sharpen your profiles and portfolio. Take the time to learn and perfect your skills. Reach out to as many people as possible to make connections. Read anything and everything you can about the opportunities in your field. You never know what you may find, and it likely will take time to begin your ideal career. Good luck!

Tips for Making a Great Website

When designing a website, it is crucial to make your site appealing, memorable and of course, functional. If a user does not get a sense of satisfaction from visiting your site in the first 10 seconds, then on to the next website they go with the sound of a mouse click. Do you want to build a credible, respected website for your company? Here are some simple, yet essential elements to designing a successful website that your customers will love as much as you do.

A Website Should Have Responsive Design

This is one of the most crucial, and yet overlooked elements in website design. Every great website should have a consistent flow through its pages. This can easily be achieved with a navigation menu that appears in the same location across all pages of the site. The navigation menu should encompass differentiated pages that are important to the user such as home, about us, portfolio, contact us, etc. It is important to keep navigational menus to a minimum, not exceeding more than five menu items. Font size and style should be consistent on a page, so that all content is easy to read. All paragraphs should carry the same amount of space between lines. When designing and organizing a site, one should act as the user and make sure that it is both easy to read and easy to navigate.

Your website should include your company’s contact information. Whether it appears in the header or as a separate “Contact Us” page, make sure it is highly visible. Contact information gives your website a sense of credibility and legitimacy. If your company or business has social media pages, link them to your site. Your website is the gateway to your business, don’t let users stop there. Allow them to check out your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts with a direct link to the pages. Having these links in the footer of your website across every page is ideal because users will be able to easily access them.

Are you ready to take your business’s website to the next level? Contact Cork Tree Creative today about our web design services. Let us help you create a website that is easy to use, engaging and effective. We also offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services to get your company to the top of the list on search engines. Give us a call at 618-656-7333.

5 Tips on How to Network for Your Business

Whether you are the Public Relations Director for a multi-million dollar corporation or an intern at a local marketing firm, networking remains a crucial element in advancing your career. Sure, social networking via LinkedIn and Twitter is important, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction. What is a future employer going to remember more: receiving a “favorite” on their tweet or a firm handshake greeting at a networking luncheon? A firm handshake wins every time. Landing your dream job is not only about what you know, but who you know.

Here are some networking tips that will help you nail your next networking event.

Do your homework prior to the event

Research the event. Find out what kind of professionals will be attending and then make a list of the people you wish to speak with. Brainstorm some possible questions or conversation-starters beforehand. The more prepared you feel, the more relaxed you will be. Also, remember the CEO of a big corporate agency may not be able to do as much for you as middle-level manager at a local company. There is a much greater chance that the mid-level manager would be available to meet up for lunch and discuss job opportunities with you.

Take time to explore the crowd

Networking events can be nerve-racking. This causes people to sit at the same table with people they already know. When you do this, you are missing out! You are there to make as many connections as possible. Step out of your comfort zone and try to make your way through the entire room, striking up as many good conversations as possible. People like to talk about themselves and their job, so if you are struggling to find topics, ask questions. You will thank yourself when you are leaving the event with a handful of business cards and new connections.

Dress to impress

When entering a networking event, you are entering a room full of potential employers. Your outfit should represent the kind of professional you are. Invest in a business suit and nice dress shoes. Make sure that you feel comfortable in your attire, so that you can be confident when entering the room.

Bring business cards to expand your network

There is something personable and memorable about exchanging business cards, compared to asking to enter contact information into each other’s smart phones. A business card will be seen after the event is over. Giving someone your card is a natural and easy way to suggest a follow-up conversation.

Don't let your networking efforts be in vain - follow up

This is crucial, as it makes or breaks your networking relationships. Ask to meet again over e-mail or find your new contact on LinkedIn and connect with them. Show your appreciation and thank them for taking the time to talk with you at the event. You should leave every event with at least three people to connect with afterward. Make your original conversation even more memorable by suggesting a second. It can be a request to simply chat over coffee, or ask them to review your resumé. After a physical meeting, send a handwritten thank you note or email including something you learned from them. Be sincere, because expressing your genuine interest in someone’s career can go a long way in making a person remember you in the future.

Networking is an important skill in any work field, and with all skills, it takes time and practice. It can be overwhelming; however, the more networking luncheons, panels and conferences you attend, the more natural it will become.  Don’t be afraid to throw yourself into a room full of strangers. You never know, they might just lead you on your next pathway to greater success. At Cork Tree Creative, we are always striving to become better. Let us help you do the same. Give us a call at (618) 656-7333, find us on social media or online at www.corktreecreative.com

Top Tips for Nailing a Marketing Interview

Job interviews can be a nerve-racking experience, especially if you are new to the whole process. Here are some tips to help your interview go smoothly:

Come Prepared and On-Time

This may sound like a no-brainer, but many times people underestimate the time it takes to get to a job interview. Give yourself time for driving, plus half an hour to allow for finding the office and mentally preparing yourself. Take this time to review any questions you may have, turn off your phone, and make last-minute touch-ups to your appearance.

Dress the Part

This may be your one and only chance to make a good first impression. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, but let’s be honest – this isn’t the red carpet. Keep the perfume/cologne to a minimum and avoid distracting accessories.

Bring Your Resume

We cannot stress how important this is. Many managers and business owners will automatically not hire someone if he or she doesn’t take the initiative to bring copies of his or her resume to the interview. Not only is it considerate, but also it allows for an icebreaker at the beginning of the interview. Be sure to bring multiple copies of it in case there is more than one interviewer present

Practice Confident Body Language

A lot can be said by body language alone. A firm handshake, a smile, and straight posture radiates confidence and professionalism in a way that words alone cannot convey. Avoid nervous ticks like fidgeting, toe tapping, or playing with your hair. You want to show that you are calm and confident in your work.

End the Interview on a High Note

Ask questions. This shows you’ve researched the company and put time and thought towards the interview. It may be a simple step, but will leave your potential employer with something to think about after the interview is over. Remember to thank your interviewer for their time when the interview has concluded, and follow up a few days later with a thank you email. (If you really want to stand out, consider mailing a thank you card.) This gesture is not only polite, but keeps you on the forefront of your employer’s mind.

Be Yourself!

Above all else, be yourself. Sure - talent, capability, and proficiency is a big part of landing a job, but so is personality. You’re awesome, so sell yourself to your future employers, or in public relations terminology, “market” yourself. Marketing clients is something Cork Tree Creative is an expert at. In fact, we have recently been awarded Best Marketing Firm and Best PR Firm by St. Louis Small Business Monthly. Visit us at https://www.corktreecreative.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

How To Start a Company Blog

You already know the Benefits of Blogging for Business, but you may still be wondering: how the heck do I get started?! Blogging can be a step out of your comfort zone, but will likely payoff well for your business. Read on for some questions to ask yourself before you begin writing.

Determine Goals for Blog


Are you hoping this fresh content will garner new customers? Are you striving to better connect with your current customers? Do you want to showcase a certain section of your business? The goal of your blog will dictate the type of content you write and the audience you target. It is important to narrow down your specific objective before diving deeper into the blogging process. If the content you publish does not reach your goal, you will be dissatisfied with the results. Keep this goal in mind each time you write a new blog post.

Set a Schedule


Typically, company blogs start out strong during their first month when employees have a ton of ideas and are knee deep in gumption. You may end up with five or six blogs during the first few weeks and think it will be easy to maintain this pace.

But then a week goes by without new content, and that week can quickly turn into two or three months before you realize your blog has been seriously neglected. When your blog goes live for the first time, be realistic about how often your company can update it. Writing just once a month can still be beneficial for your business if the content is strong and unique. Of course, you can always strive for more, but it is better to have consistent, quality content than spotty, substandard content.

Consider setting a schedule such as posting one the first week of every month. Most web builders have the capability to schedule future blogs, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to post after writing. You can simply add them into the queue for the next month.

Establish Ground Rules


Most likely, you have set protocol for handling nearly every aspect of your business; and blogging is no exception. Having clear instructions keeps everyone on the same page and ensures consistency time and time again. Consider setting an average word count, deciding on off-limit topics, and choosing a writing style to follow - such as AP style.

Determine Who Will Write the Blog


Perhaps the most difficult part of blogging for companies is deciding who will write. You can assign writing to one single employee or create a team of a few qualified writers. If you are struggling to find employees who are willing to take on the task, consider offering an external incentive for creating content. Other companies utilize a rotation system. This way the responsibility of blogging is shared equally among office members. But, this can result in dissatisfactory content from employees who don’t have as much writing experience.

Blogs can greatly benefit your business. However, they can also be quite a burden or get lost among the many other tasks you and your employees have on your plate. That’s where we come in. At Cork Tree Creative, our experienced team members will maintain your blog with monthly, bimonthly or even weekly content that is unique and specific to your business. Give us a call at (618) 656-7333 to start seeing the results of blogging without the stress of writing.

7 Pro Tips for Maintaining a Blog

Blogs are a great way to put out information relating to your business and to engage with your audience. Not only that, but publishing regular content can drive traffic to your website and improve your social media presence. While there are many benefits to blogging, perhaps where most businesses tend to fall short is with blog maintenance or failure to come up with new content.

We get it, it’s not always easy to write blog posts, but there’s no need to fret! At Cork Tree Creative, we have a lot of experience keeping up company blogs, so we have a few tips for how to beat writer’s block and craft successful content.

Always Keep Your Goals in Mind

Are you writing to attract new customers, inspire donations or streamline change? Regardless of your purpose, you need to make sure the content you’re putting out directly aligns with your organization and its goals. Unlike personal blogs, which have a little more freedom when it comes to the topic, avoid talking about things not directly related to your business, or if you do, do so strategically.

Schedule Content in Advance

Maintaining a blog is always easier when you know what you plan to write ahead of time. Setting up a regular posting schedule as well as thinking through potential topics will save you from the hassle and headache of trying to crank out content later. Whether you’re tackling the job of writing on your own or have a team or department, schedule meetings or solicit ideas from colleagues and managers to get new perspectives and insights you might not have considered before.

Speaking of Content…Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box 

Coming up with new content doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, even if you feel like you’ve exhausted every possible topic, there are still ways in which you can be creative.

Share Stories

Stories are a great way to connect with your audience members on a more personal level. While you definitely don’t want to overshare, the more personable you can be, the more likely you are to develop a relationship with your readers. This makes them see the actual people of your organization, rather than just the company.

Make the Unfamiliar Familiar

Depending on your industry, you’ve more than likely written a blog (or two…or three) on your products and services. While you might have a great inside perspective, it might be more beneficial for you to consider your audience and what they know. What might they want to know? Avoid using jargon and technical speak and instead find new ways to explain foreign concepts. These don’t have to be long, drawn-out posts either. Start small with a specific word, phrase, or product, and find ways to make your reader’s more familiar with it. You might be surprised by what you come up with.

Dive Deep

Tying into the story suggestion, you want to make sure you’re reaching readers on a personal level without oversharing. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t dig a little deeper. Start with the why behind your company and go from there. The deeper you can go into your organization and what they do, the more it will resonate with your audience.

Conduct Office Interviews

Stuck for content? Consider being a journalist for the day. Find someone in your office and conduct an informal interview (with their permission, of course). Learn more about their past experiences and why they decided to work for your company. If you have access, sit down and chat with the founder or owner to learn the business’s origin story. If you can’t do a “traditional” interview, try following an employee for “a day in the life” piece.

Creating and maintaining a blog doesn’t have to be a chore. By creating a blog strategy and utilizing your content, you can make your blog work for you. Need a helping hand? Contact our team at Cork Tree Creative and let us help you kickstart your company blog today! We offer Search Engine Optimization services where our writing team drafts keyword-loaded content to help your company’s website rank at the top of search engines’ results lists for relevant searches.

Increasing Traffic with Digital Advertising

If you have a smartphone or use social media, you’ve probably seen digital ads pop up online that seemed remarkably coincidental to websites you’ve visited. You may have gone to a store or a restaurant and soon thereafter started seeing ads online related to that location. You may even have questioned it. “How did that happen? How did they know?” A savvy business owner may have asked, “how can I do that for my business?”

The answer is simple: digital advertising

It’s not sorcery or some shadowy conspiracy to spy on you. It’s smart, focused digital advertising, and it’s not just for major corporations. Digital ads fit into the marketing budgets of many small businesses and can be tailored to exactly what you’re looking for. Furthermore, in our increasingly “on demand” culture, this type of advertising can be essential to bringing you more customers.

What are the benefits of digital advertising versus traditional type of display ads?

In your budget

As previously stated, you can make a digital advertising campaign work for your bottom line. Take a look at your advertising budget and see what you’re currently spending on print ads or billboards. While those methods are still valuable, you could launch a more focused campaign to your exact target audience.

Speedy delivery

Unlike other forms of advertising, digital advertising can be easy to plan, design, and implement. The turnaround is rather quick, so you can have targeted digital ads in front of your consumers in no time.

Flexibility

Need to make changes to your digital advertising campaign after it’s launched? That can be a difficult task if you’re talking about signs or print ads, but digital ads don’t have many of those hurdles. You’ll find it’s much easier to make tweaks to your ads even after they’ve started running.

Targeted audience

One of the most exciting things about digital ads is who they reach. You’re not just putting up a sign and hope people see it, remember it, and make a purchase from it. Depending on how you want to set up your campaign, you can reach specific people in specific areas. The audience may be smaller, but it’s more likely to drive customers to your business.

Useful data

Best of all, the nature of digital ads make it very easy to track who is seeing your ads and who is  becoming a customer.  Like the campaign itself, the data it generates is focused and meaningful. This allows you to know how your ads are performing.

And that’s really just scratching the surface of the power of digital advertising. Whether you’re a start up or you’ve been in business for decades, the team at Cork Tree can walk you through the specifics of digital ads. We will tailor a campaign to your particular vision.

Contact us today to talk about how we can help increase your online traffic with digital ads!

What Are the Benefits of a Blog?

More often than not, business owners question the importance of blogging and if it is really essential for their business’s success. “Do people really read blogs anymore?” “Is it really worth my time?” “What do I even write about?” These are questions we are frequently asked by our clients when discussing the start of a blog for their business. Running a business encompasses a multitude of responsibilities, and a majority of business owners simply do not have the time or skills to regularly write high quality content for a blog. That’s where Cork Tree Creative can help! Before ruling out a blog for your business’s website, read a few of the endless marketing benefits of blogging:

•    Blogs drive traffic to your website.  Generally, websites are not frequently updated once they are “live”. When an “About Us” or “Services” section has been written and created on a website, it usually remains untouched for years. A blog is a simple way to continuously add updated, relevant content to your business’s website. Why is this important? Because every time you post a blog to your website, it shows Google and other search engines that your site is active and that new content is surfacing. Fresh content is essential to beating out your competitors in Google or Bing’s results pages. When writing a blog, you should take the time to list out the keywords, topics and categories that your business can be identified with. Use these specific keywords and expressions when writing your blogs to increase your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

•    Blogs improve your social media presence. Are you constantly searching for new and original content for your social media pages? Look no further, as your blogs can be repurposed for your business’s Facebook posts! Once you post a blog to your site, you can share it across all of your social media pages such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Your social media followers can then comment, like, and share your blogs on their pages, exposing your business to an entirely new audience.

•    Blogs create relationships with your customers. Writing a blog is a simple, yet effective way to develop positive relationships with your customers. Use your business’s blog as an opportunity to directly connect with your consumers. Post relevant, reliable content, so that your readers can view your business as trustworthy and informative.  For example, if your business is a pet shop, post a blog that teaches your readers how to properly house train their new puppy. If you are a realtor, write a blog on preparing your home to sell. Consumers like to be informed and to learn, and they appreciate when businesses take the time to teach them.

As you can see, a well-written blog can go a long way in your business’s marketing efforts. Are you interested in blogging for your business, but feel that you do not have the time or resources to do so? No worries, we can help! Our team of talented copy editors and creative writers can produce blog posts specific to your business and industry. Not only do we write to match your business’s personal brand and style, we also include SEO-friendly keywords to get your business at the top of Google’s search results. Has this blog convinced you to blog? We hope so! Give us a call today at 618-656-7333.

Top 3 Tips for When Creating Business Card

In today’s digitally driven society, stepping out from behind your computer screen and meeting with someone face-to-face can leave a lasting impression. How can you ensure that this first impression is a positive one and that is lasts? It’s simple: through a well-designed business card! Think of your business card as a springboard to new connections and business opportunities. Following these design tips will allow you to have a business card that stands out from the rest. It will help you and your brand be remembered in a positive way.

Keep It Simple

When it comes to your business card, less is more. Avoid cramming your card with bright, flashy colors and shapes and designs. These can be both overwhelming and distracting. Think of your business card as a blank canvas that should be kept clean, containing simple, modern designs and only the most important text. Only include things like your name, professional title and contact information with website address. When choosing your card’s color scheme, a neutral color paired with tasteful accent colors will be sure to draw one’s attention.

Make Sure It Is Organized

Keeping the business card organized is a key factor in having people contact you. Having your company’s logo on one side of the card along with your name and professional title, and then your services, address and contact information on the other side is a simple, appealing design that is very easy to follow. Also, a current trend is to include a QR code on the back of your business card that directly links to your company’s website.

Care About The Cardstock 

Don’t overlook what type of cardstock you’re printing on. It is important to stick to your budget, but spending a little extra for a higher quality card stock, such as glossy or matte, can go a long way in your card’s quality. When choosing the cardstock for your card, you should also consider the thickness of the card and if you want it to be textured. Remember a business card is a representation of your business that is literally in someone else’s hands. Invest in a quality card that not only looks professional, but feels professional too. At Cork Tree Creative, we receive a lot of positive feedback on the thickness of our business cards. It is always a natural conversation starter. Never underestimate the power of a well-designed card. 

Don’t let your business card be tossed to the side. By following each design tip above, you will have a card that is both memorable and professional and sure to land you a follow up call or email!  Do you need help designing your company’s business card? No problem! Our team of graphic design pros can design a custom, quality business card that accurately represents you as a professional. Contact us today at 618-656-7333 for all of your marketing and graphic design needs.

No matter how well managed your business is or how great your product is, your company will not prosper without customers. Clients decide which companies succeed and which ones fail. Without their business there can be no business at all. And while there are a lot of ways to treat your clients wrong, there are just as many ways to treat them right. We asked a few of our team members here at Cork Tree Creative how they created quality client relationships. Read on for the advice they shared!

Client Communication is Key

Communication is the most important part of any relationship, and client relationships are no different. Account Executive Jaci Rothe strives for constant communication with her clients. She does so by keeping them updated on anything pertaining to their account and doing so promptly.

“If I haven't heard from my clients in a while, I always reach out to them and check in because I never want them to question my work ethic or my intentions,” Jaci said. “Also, I always send them updates and share successes with them to back up the work I am doing.”

Jaci’s idea of communication goes beyond just quick responses to emails and phone calls. Clients want to know that what they are paying for is working. If a client's AdWords campaign received a record amount of conversions for the month or their cost per click decreases, she lets them know. After Jaci sends out a press release for a client, she takes the extra time to gather all the news clippings of the article to share with the client. Those small, detail-oriented gestures create great relationships and show clients she truly cares about their business.

Deliver as Promised

Honesty is always the best policy, especially when working with clients. Co-owner and public relations director Laura Reed says honesty has been the most important quality to creating great client relationships throughout her years in the marketing world.

“At Cork Tree, we don't over promise,” Laura said. “We do what we say we are going to do, and if something doesn't work out the way we expected, we own it and make a suggestion on how to best remedy the situation."

Never promise something that you don’t have the capability or intention of doing. Be considerate of your clients’ time and the money they are spending on your services by staying truthful with them about the timeline and quality of their projects.

Keep it Real with Respect

Respect is a two way street; when you give it, you will usually receive it in return. And it is far easier to respect someone when you know them as both a person and a professional. Graphic designer Carmen Sledge maintains great relationships with her clients by being both real and respectful. She thinks the best thing about Cork Tree Creative is his coworkers’ ability to add originality and personality to their work while remaining professional.

Never Stop Improving

When clients hire a company’s services, they trust that company is an expert in their field. To the newest member of our team, website builder Jessi Conoyer, being an expert means keeping up with the latest changes in web design and digital marketing. It also means staying on top of the trends in her field and continuing to learn even after leaving the office for the day. In doing so, she helps build those great relationships with her 

Not only does Jessi learn what is happening in her field, but she also learns about what is happening in her clients'. She and the rest of the Cork Tree Creative team take the time to get to know each client’s business before beginning a marketing project for them. This ensures their work is accurate and exceeds the standards set in a client’s field.

“When you genuinely love your job, it shows,” Jessi said. “Clients come to us because of the effort we put in and the quality we put out. Once they know how much we geek out over our jobs, we become their go-to for all things creative.”

But don’t just take our word for it; read our testimonials to get a client’s perspective on what it’s like to work with Cork Tree Creative. Then give us a call at (618) 656-7333 or visit our office to speak with one of our trusted account executives and kick-start your success today.

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