Going Viral: The “Canbassador”

When Union Wine Company shared plans to hire a “canbassador” to drive their wine tasting truck across the United States for pop-up events and music festivals serving the brand’s famous Underwood wine in a can, we recognized all the ingredients for a viral moment. We immediately drafted a pitch with a shareable subject line, crafted a strategic list of writers and editors on the forefront of topical news and assembled assets to fulfill any image or interview requests.

Within 48 hours, we secured 327 million media impressions. Notable coverage included Good Morning America, Time, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Thrillist, Food & Wine, Brit + Co, Mashable, HelloGiggles, Travel + Leisure and more than 50 other digital and broadcast outlets, leading to 1,200 applications for the job. While the position was only open for one week, the viral canbassador coverage created a lasting increase in brand awareness. Union Wine Co. saw a 3,000% increase to their website, 73.4% of which were first time visitors, as well as over 600 new Instagram followers.

Five Things We Learned at the First Potluck Conference

At Soda Pop PR we think it’s important to mix it up and get out of the office to attend industry workshops and conferences. Last week we headed to DTLA for the first Potluck Hospitality Conference, to learn more about the business of social occasions and mingle with some inspiring local and visiting creatives. In the spirit of the conference’s “Bring Something to the Table” mentality, we’d like to share a few learnings.

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1. You Get Back What you Put in: Our day kicked off with a pep talk from the infectious entrepreneur Ellen Bennett of Hedley & Bennett who got everyone on their feet with an early morning dance party before sharing her story. Ellen is the poster child for making things happen and “climbing through a window when you can’t find a door” and we always love hearing her talk about having fun in the process of working hard.

2. Do Your Homework: In a session on “Creating Brands That Connect” Lila Theodoros of Oh Babushka discussed the importance of coming to play. For example if you’re meeting with a graphic designer, come prepared with a mood board, key words, color palate, etc. to help them get to know you and your brand before starting a project.

3. Create Connections: We are such big fans of The Modern Proper, a blog dedicated to restoring the lost art of hospitality and loved having the opportunity to meet founders Natalie Mortimer and Holly Erickson. Hospitality doesn’t just describe our clients at SPPR, it describes the way we do business and like Natalie and Holly we believe in the power of creating a community. It was great to hear them talk about how vitally important it is to take time to build and maintain relationships both personally and professional. In a day when the human attention span has decreased to 8 seconds, hosting a successful event and seeing return on investment for experiential marketing is all about creating personal connections.

4. Encourage Engagement: For many brands, experiential marketing now works harder than traditional advertising strategies. We loved hearing what Lauren Sims had to say about her agency’s experience creating “photo moment” heavy activations and what really works when it comes to engagement. She has three main strategies for securing social posts from attendees: offering tools to further their own personal brand through aspirational content, product giveaways in exchange for shares and highly personalized products featuring the attendees name or photo.

5. Do Something New: Martha Stewart Weddings editor Shira Savada is tired of mason jars and bird cages and we don’t blame her! Whether you’re talking about weddings, social media or client events we can all agree that once you’ve noticed a lot of people are doing something, it’s time to move on. Trends happen because someone tapped into their own creativity to offer something personal and we can all use a little more of that!

SPPR New Year’s Goals: 2017, Let’s Do This

Everyone loves a clean slate and at SPPR we’re filling ours with a to-do list of fun projects and foodie goals for the New Year. Read on as the team breaks down our plans to eat, read and travel our way through 2017.

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(Photo c/o Oh Happy Day)

Dyan:
To Go: Sun Valley, Idaho. My husband and I have been talking about exploring a new winter destination for our annual ski/snowboarding trip for years. Aside from the picturesque setting, abundance of runs for beginners and an outdoor ice skating rink, it also has a rich history (Hemingway was a fan, he completed For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying at Sun Valley Lodge!)
To Eat: My dream would be to plan monthly trips to different cities with the sole purpose of trying the best culinary classics and hot spots in each location.  Realistically? I’d like to hit up the Roberta’s Pizza Pop-Up before closes. I’m also looking forward to my friend Steve Samson’s new restaurant Rossoblu which is scheduled to open soon!
To Read:  Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. I’m a fan of his podcast and this book summarizes the best tools, tactics and learnings from his most notable guests. It’s over 700 pages and meant to be digested in small, manageable doses. It’s safe to say, I’ll be reading throughout the year.
To Do: I purchased a journal over the holidays with the goal of setting aside time to jot down my non-work thoughts and creative ideas. I have dozens of notebooks but they all contain work plans, meeting notes, to-dos, etc. Creative writing was a passion of mine in college (I’d die if you found any of my old journals, so “My So-Called Life”) and I’m eager to pick it back up.

Kelly:
To Go: Sedona! Since my husband recently got his pilot’s license, we plan to do a weekend getaway to this beautiful place neither of us has been to before.
To Eat: Erven in Santa Monica
To Read: I was gifted Big Little Lies, so I hope to read it before the TV series comes out
To Do: My goal is to shop my local Sunday farmer’s market more often in 2017. Shopping local is so important and in California we have an abundance of delicious, fresh food, I need to take advantage of it!

Becky:
To Go: Back to Italy; Our new client Lucini Italia has me missing the land of pasta and olive oil.
To Eat: Belcampo; I met the founder Anya Fernald at an event last year and have vowed to treat myself to an organic, highest-quality-you-can-get steak (or at least a Belcampo Burger) at some point soon.
To Read: I bought J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy a few months ago and haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I have so much love for J.K. that I’m feeling guilty for putting it off.
To Do: Refresh my living space. I’ve had the same couch since my husband and I were dating and the same dining room table my parents passed down to me after college. It’s time to make some big girl furniture purchases.

Colleen:
To Go: I am hoping to make it back to Paris this year and spend my days writing in coffee shops and haunting Shakespeare and Company.
To Eat: I know I lose all of my LA foodie cred for this, but I still haven’t been to Gjelina! Definitely need to remedy that in 2017.
To Read: One of my all-time favorite authors Joan Didion has a new book coming out (in 61 days, not that I’m counting) so that is at the top of my list. Also, Infinite Jest. I swear this is the year that I finally finish David Foster Wallace’s epic and exhaustingly long masterpiece.
To Do: In light of our recent election results, I’m committing to take a more active role in opposing injustice and supporting causes doing good work.

Deidre:
To Go: 2017 is all about the U.S.! I have some fun trips lined up, including: Nashville, Austin, Chicago, San Francisco and NYC to name a few. Fingers crossed for an opportunity to go abroad – I’ll even be happy with Mexico if I can make it happen.
To Eat: There are so many in LA I am eager to go to! Especially wanting to hit up the celebrity hot spots, like NOBU Malibu, SUR and AOC.
To Read: The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive
To Do: I really hope to attend another Ellen taping! If not, attend a late night taping like Jimmy Kimmel, learn to meal prep/ spend less money on food and get outside more!

Camryn:
To Go: New York! I’d love to visit my younger brother who’s out there for school.
To Eat: I’ve really been wanting to try Maré on Melrose. You have to use a secret entrance!
To Read: A Gentleman in Moscow, a gift I received through our SPPR holiday book exchange.
To Do: Go to a cooking class!

5 Scary Millennial Myths

“Millennial” is the watchword these days. It’s a target demographic for brands, source of confusion for baby boomers and an overall hotbed of opinions. More than half of the SPPR team falls into this carefully studied generation and in honor of Halloween, we’d like to set the record straight by debunking a few millennial myths that are so wrong, it’s scary.

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1. Millennials are lazy: In addition to being an overused generalization made about our generation, this is also the most confusing. While copious articles suggest that we are lazy, it’s also been suggested that we are responsible for vacation shaming and most likely to be work martyrs. The fact is, 47% of millennials in management positions have begun working more hours in the last five years, compared with only 38% of Generation X and 28% of Baby Boomers. Millennials are also more likely to have a side hustle which means pursuing a passion that requires extra work for very little extra money. We’re a hardworking bunch at SPPR and we feel that lazy is a personality trait found in individual people, not entire generations.

2. Millennials are the Most Entitled Generation Ever: It’s true that millennials are a generation with expectations. Most millennials who graduated from college hoped to find a job they enjoyed because we were told by our parents that if we worked hard, this is what we could expect. Millennials may be less willing to do work we find uninspiring but we are also willing to take a pay cut to do work we love. We seek out meaningful work, and like our parents hope to one day achieve “The American Dream,” albeit our own redefined version of this dream.

3. Millennials Use of Social Media is a Liability: We won’t deny it, we’re embarrassingly connected on social media. This sometimes makes us annoying lunch dates and bad at being in the moment but it also makes us globally connected and willing to champion brands and companies we admire in a very public way (91% of millennials make Facebook places and foursquare check-ins public).  You may have seen the stories about career-ruining tweets and public company bashing but we have too. 59% of millennials know that complaining about work is a bad move and 70% of millennials think their reputation at work is more important than their social media reputation. The majority of us are social media savvy enough to present the best version of ourselves (and our jobs) online and we’ve learned to use our social media skills as a professional asset.

4. Millennials Only Want to Work Remotely: At SPPR, we have the ability to work remotely twice a month and company-wide more than 65% of these days go unused. This isn’t because there’s a stigma about taking them, it’s because we genuinely like seeing each other every day. It’s true that many millennials want to work remotely but a recent study found that 42% of millennials still prefer to work from offices. The root of this myth is a desire for flexibility. For some of us, that does mean the option to travel as much as we’d like, working from coworking spaces along the way. Others find that we are actually more engaged when working from the comfort of our own home. However for many of us, we want the option to occasionally seek the inspiration of a new environment by working from a coffee shop or have the option to work from home if say, the dog is sick and we don’t want to leave him alone all day. If you peel away the layers of this millennial myth, you’ll find we’re a generation who wants to be as inspired and productive as possible while we work and has been creative enough to think outside the cubical to make it happen!

5. Millennials Will Leave You to Start Their Own Company:  While our independence and free-spirited thinking does make the millennial generation more entrepreneurial, this myth overlooks one key factor. The days of working at one company for your entire career, even if you really want to, are gone. After watching our parents find themselves laid off unexpectedly due to the recession or “restructuring” we headed into our careers with more fluid expectations. We had back-up plans to go it alone. For some millennials, those back-up plans turn into a full time career thanks to a combination of good timing and serious hustle. We’re inspired to see so many awesome business owners in our ranks but not every millennial fancies themselves the next Evan Spiegel. 65% of millennials say an opportunity for personal development is the most influential factor in their current job and 52% said opportunities for career progression make an employer attractive. Which means that many millennials actually want to grow with you and that’s a serious priority for us.

The Importance of Taking Time Off

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Recently, we’ve read a few interesting pieces about “vacation shaming” in the workplace. As publicists, we understand the hesitation to travel when you have a demanding job. It’s hard to take a break from work that you’re passionate about and many people worry that they don’t have enough vacation time or that their company will not approve time off. At the same time, getting outside of your comfort zone is necessary to stay inspired which in turn makes you better at your job. Our advice? TRAVEL. NOW. DO IT! Here are 4 reasons why.

1. Good for your health: Studies show that vacations are just as important as exercise. They help cure burnout and chronic stress that’s epidemic in today’s 24-7 culture. The catch, it takes two weeks to take full advantage of these recuperative benefits. If two weeks away sounds like crazy talk, consider traveling during slow periods. Our boss lady Dyan likes to travel during Thanksgiving when things tend to slow down in the media world. It’s also the perfect time to travel to Paris and Italy if you like to avoid crowds and travel on a budget like we do.

2. Refuels your work: For us, this is reason enough to travel. Our jobs depend on us staying fresh and creative. Visiting cities like Paris, Florence, or Rome and truly immersing ourselves in the culture of these cities – touring the Louvre, seeing the David and St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time, spending the day learning more about The Roman Forum and Colosseum, eating gelato, pasta and drinking wine daily – inspires us and provides a jolt of creative thinking.

3. Personal Growth: There is a saying that you can be comfortable or you can grow but you cannot do both at once. Travel forces you to get out of your comfort zone and appreciate the world through other people’s eyes. When you experience other cultures, you learn new ways of doing things and deepen your empathy for the individuals you meet. Expanding your worldview through firsthand experience strengthens decision making and interpersonal skills which are an asset in any industry, as well as your personal life.

4. You’re not alone: Don’t be a “work martyr.” It can be unnerving to let coworkers and clients know you’ll be away. You may experience (or imagine) some surprise or even resentment. But setting boundaries for your time off and trusting your team members to help you while you’re gone gets easier with time. At SPPR, it helps to build vacations into our plans at least three months in advance to be extra prepared. In the end, your teams and clients will benefit from your renewed energy and perspective post-break.

Safe travels,

Team SPPR

The Secret Sauce: Five Easy Ways to Up Your Company Culture Game

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Photo Credit: New Zealand Festival

The fun perks of Silicon Valley startups have been glorified and imitated by agencies looking to attract younger talent but for small companies, the idea of a “fun company culture” can seem out of reach. If you ask anyone on the SPPR team why they work here, the culture always comes up first but it isn’t because we have a conference table that doubles as a ping pong table (Respect Ban.do). While we don’t agree that work culture is overrated we do agree that there’s more to a happy workplace than free beer and game rooms. Here are five ways to add some fizz to your company culture without a balling “perks” budget.

1.  Applaud Time Off: Work/Life Balance” is the phrase that today’s young professionals live and die by and it’s a hard one to achieve in the PR industry. Publicists are notorious for being constantly on e-mail so it may come as a surprise that at SPPR we observe summer Fridays (out of the office at 1 p.m.) and take phone-free vacations. While 32% of Americans didn’t take a single vacation day in 2015, every member of SPPR took at least two weeks off to relax and recharge.

2. Offer Flexibility: One of the advantages of small company culture is the opportunity to be treated as an individual. Allowing employees to work remotely a few days a month and accommodating schedule changes for doctors’ appointments, family/friend visits and day care pickups goes a long way in reducing stress.

3. Boost Wellness: As a company with less than 10 people, SPPR makes the most of a limited perks budget by focusing on what employees really want. Our company wellness plan provides team members with a stipend toward the fitness plan of their choice as well as healthy weekly lunches and office snacks. Not that it’s all kale and post-work hikes on the SPPR team. We do have some pretty sweet clients, not to mention a shared love of donuts.

4. Have fun together: No matter how well you work with someone, you haven’t truly bonded until you’re laughing over a cocktail. The SPPR team makes it a priority to get out of the office for some much needed team bonding at happy hours, events and yearly company retreat. There’s also the occasional in-office tasting or Instagram photo shoot. Appointing a “Social Secretary” to make sure your team gets together for a fun activity at least once a quarter is an easy way to strengthen personal bounds within a small team.

5. Be Thoughtful: The most important way that companies maintain a fun and positive company culture is with small everyday decisions to do so. At SPPR our company culture is built on the thoughtful gesture of a flower delivery to a sick team member or a favorite book that gets passed around. It is a funny YouTube video email to fight the afternoon slump and a text to a late coworker prompted by genuine concern for their safety. These are the examples that come to mind when we hear the words “company culture.” Well that, and wondering if our next office upgrade should include a cold brew coffee tap.