Touring Flynn Wright

The public relations team of Flynn Wright shares their knowledge with PRSSA

By: Alexandria Cimino 

Upon entering the office of Flynn Wright in Des Moines, it became quickly apparent how creative and innovative their work environment is.  With a variety of open seating areas in the middle of the room, a ceiling of color-changing LED lights, and a spectacular view of the sculpture garden and downtown scenery across the way, the space looked like more of a contemporary hang-out than an office.

The modern atmosphere of the office made this visit memorable, but the bubbly and dynamic personalities of their public relations team made it unforgettable.  Kiersten Maertens, Andrea Breen, and Mara White began by giving us a tour of the office and explaining a little about what they do.  Flynn Wright integrates public relations, advertising, brand management, and research and thus offers a full-service approach to marketing.  Some of their best-known clients include Mediacom, Dahl’s, and Josephs Jewelers.

Flynn Wright believes that it is crucial to operate in a collaborative work environment, and prides itself on its teamwork.  With open desks and office space, along with areas for spontaneous team meetings, employees are able to easily peak over the shoulders of others and see what they’re working on.  This dynamic work environment allows ideas to be thrown around and creativity to thrive.

Once we finished touring the office, the PR team discussed more about the company’s work and what they have learned throughout their time in the industry.  Research plays a huge role at Flynn Wright, and the team explained to us how crucial strategy and planning are before execution can even be thought of.  The company works with the Des Moines Harvest Research Center, a state-of-the-art research facility that uses well-established quantitative and qualitative methods. White also explained that every person in the company is part of the pieces that build the team.  She said that their company is a true mix of what each person brings to the table, and that individual strengths get noticed and depended on.

The ladies of the PR team gave us some helpful, and humorous, advice for seeking a job or an internship in the future.  White stressed the importance of having a polished resume, and that grammatical errors were never acceptable.  She even graciously offered to look over our resumes and give feedback if we wished.

Before we left, White summed up her take on this line of work in just one sentence.

“It is important to know a little bit about a lot of things, rather than to know a lot about only one thing.”

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Touring Two Rivers Marketing

The Two Rivers Marketing Office

The Two Rivers Marketing office is a converted warehouse, providing a unique flavor to their workspace.

By: Erica Sturwold

Walking into Two Rivers Marketing I couldn’t deny my level of surprise—pleasant surprise. I had a general idea of the type of clients they represent (mainly those of industrial, manufacturing nature) but was not expecting to walk into a beautifully modernized office-warehouse, full of young 20-somethings, both male, and female, all of whom are trained to represent welding, electric and industrial equipment companies.

Even more surprising? The grassroots-tactics these young professionals were utilizing to represent and reinforce their clients’ brands.

One of our presenters, Erica Turner, a public relations associate for the company, mainly manages their Bobcat and Miller Electric clients. For these clients, Turner described how she strengthened brands by targeting thought leaders in the industry; learning, and training others on how to use the client’s products (i.e. welding equipment, construction machinery). It seems Turner also  shoots video for online content, to of course, inspire the company’s DIY audiences, and creates positive content and conversation on social media daily.

Though strongly invested in creating online content, Turner did mention something more expansive and encouraging about the marketing approaches Two Rivers is implementing, , “Social media is just one strategy of many, if you’re going to use it, it need to be goal-oriented,” she said.

This belief shows that while the company is trying out new online-promotion tactics, they recognize there are still many other marketing channels worth utilizing, such as video, direct mail, earned-media, corporate partnerships, etc.

But something Turner, and our other presenters never thought they’d be fielding, is questions from their clients’ customers on how to properly use power tools; they found it’s somewhat of a necessity when it comes to properly connecting with their audiences. Although, just as all our presenters felt, you’d never imagine a 25-year-old-blonde-girl is on the receiving end of the Bobcat Facebook page.

It appears Two Rivers is keeping up with marketing research trends. They described some of their work creating competitive analyses’ and tracking online impressions for clients, which also added an appealing dynamic to the company.

Overall, I think our chapter was, as said, pleasantly surprised by this industrial-marketing company; it is obvious they are staying up-to-date in their branding techniques and I was pleased to see it wasn’t at all an office full of men, practicing conservative advertising techniques for leaders in the Ag and construction industries; definitely not, Two Rivers is too progressive and grass-roots-savvy for that.

10 PR Tips and Tricks from Company Tour 2012

By: Regina Volk

Title Image10) Document Everything
The first thing you should do is add that you went on PRSSA’s company tour to your resume.  It shows that you are taking an initiative in your career and that you care enough about your future to research what you want to do with it!

9) Use the PRSA and PRSSA websites
PRSSA and PRSA have a ton of tips, articles, and job opportunities online. It’s a great resource and it’s at your fingertips. They give you access to this website for a reason, take advantage of it!

8) Stay connected!
You may not always have the answer, but being able to find someone who does will get you far. Staying connected to your contacts will pay off in the real world.  You never know where networking can take you.

7) Prepare for Interviews
When contacting the media, always prepare what you are going to say and know exactly who you need to talk to. Don’t waste time by calling and having them connect you to who you should be talking to – that is your job.

6) Keep it Personal
When you have to interview people for media exposure and you’re forced to do so over the phone, make sure to talk to them as if you truly KNOW them. They need to feel comfortable when you talk to them. Don’t let it get awkward.

5) Have a Goal
Set measureable objectives, it’s the best way to see your results. You’ll never be able to see what you’ve accomplished if you aren’t working towards a specific goal.  You’re company will want to see the return on what they pay you to do.

4) Research, Research, Research!
Research is the foundation of public relations. Every good PR agency uses research-based strategies for their clients. Get familiar with the logistics of surveys and focus groups. It will never be a waste of time.

3) Social Media is not always Key
Don’t use social media for a client if it doesn’t make sense. If your clients’ audience is not a tech savvy audience, then it wouldn’t make sense to use Facebook and Twitter. Always keep the audience in mind.

2) Follow the Swiss Army Knife Rule
In the past, it was enough to find one skill and be the best at it. This isn’t true anymore. Be like a Swiss Army Knife, have multiple skills that can be implemented in all forms of public relations.

1) Content is King
What you put out there matters. This applies to everything from blog writing, website content, to social media. The key to successful social media is strong content. Fine tune your writing skills. Make sure you have writing samples available when you start applying for jobs!

Company Tour 2012

PRSSA Members at Two Rivers MarketingBy: Kristie Chipera

Walking through show rooms, tasting some of the food featured in Better Homes and Gardens, touring agencies and sitting down with advertising and public relations professionals is an experience not granted to many preparing to enter into this industry.  However, the opportunity to do so was granted to the University of Iowa’s PRSSA members and was just one of the many advantages students from the organization were able to experience this past semester.

Sixteen PRSSA members seized the chance on November 9 and traveled to Des Moines to visit five of the top public relations agencies in the area.  These agencies included Innova Ideas and Services, Two Rivers Marketing, Flynn Wright, Hanser and Associates Public Relations, and The Meredith Corporation.

“You are all lucky to visit so many agencies.  I had no clue what an agency was when I started as an intern,” said Jessica Moffitt, account service representative at Two Rivers Marketing.

With bagels in hand, the day started out at Innova Ideas and Services.  The agency, whose portfolio includes the Fight Like a Girl brand, also specializes in crisis communication and issues management.

“Whether you’re in PR or marketing, you can no longer talk at your audience.  You have to talk with them,” said Nicole Torstenson, director of strategic marketing and public relations at Innova Ideas and Services.

PRSSA members saw a presentation that tackled topics such as the ways Innova stays ahead of the game by preparing for a number of possible scenarios that their clients may encounter. Each situation is assigned a detailed strategy outlining the best response for crisis communication. The presentation was followed by a tour of the agency’s modern space before heading off to the next company.

Two Rivers Marketing makes its home in a 32,000 square foot industrial style building, originally constructed in 1935 as a General Motors parts warehouse.  Many of their clients are largely industrial based and unlike many other agencies, Two Rivers Marketing has a space that offers a symbolic connection to their clients, such as John Deere and Vermeer.

Their workspaces group staff by the clients they work with, separating pods by distance, rather than walls.  The employees truly do immerse themselves into their clients’ businesses and their products.  They know the importance of being knowledgeable of their clients and are aware that while maintaining their clients’ social media accounts, they must become experts in the company and its products, as well as the industry.

PRSSA members learned just how dedicated the employees are to their clients, going as far as learning the trades first-hand by taking classes and even learning how to operate their clients’ machinery.

PRSSA stopped next at an agency whose large glass paneling overlooks Des Moines’ Sculpture Park.

Flynn Wright is a small agency.   Its size allows their employees, who all bring something different to the table, to grow individually while relying on each other’s strengths to move the company forward.  With clients, ranging from Dunkin Donuts to Mediacom, one of the agency’s primary objectives is to research the best ways to reach a client’s customers.

After a tour and overview of the modern and colorful agency, students were left with a bit of reassuring advice before heading to the next company.

“Don’t feel like you need to have all the answers,” said Mara White, director of public relations.

Members in the Flynn Wright boardroomFlynn Wright may qualify as a small agency, but across the city, Hanser and Associates took the prize for the smallest company of the day.  The family-run firm may have just six employees, but it is Iowa’s leading public relations firm and has taken the “Best” or “Runner-up” awards as “Best Public Relations Firm” in Central Iowa for 11 years standing.

They handle between six to 12 clients at a time and concentrates largely on healthcare and financial services, although Megabus is one of their largest clients.

Back across town at the last tour of the day, PRSSA members were able to get a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Meredith Corporation.  It is the leading media and marketing company serving American Women whose publications include Ladies’ Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens.

The tour included walking through halls covered with a timeline of the many magazines of Meredith Corporation, stepping into their model kitchen, peering into showrooms, and even sampling food baked and photographed for a magazine spread.  Students were in awe, not only of Meredith’s large building, but the vast number of props and sets within the facility to be used throughout the year for different photo shoots.

The experience was one not to be forgotten.  “Company Tour let me see how the integrated marketing industry truly works. Listening to speakers at chapter meetings can only get you so far. Sometimes, you have to go to where the action is to get the big picture,” said PRSSA member, Regina Volk.  It was a lot to take in for one day, but the madness was absolutely worth it.