Each November, the walls and doorways of LevLane’s offices start to fill up with purple paper hearts – each one representing a dollar donation made to Adoptions From the Heart during National Adoption Month by a LevLane employee. Eventually, they form a sea of purple, and represent a sizable annual donation to AFTH from the LevLane staffers who donate. This annual tradition was started and is continued each year by VP, Digital Media Director Dan Hall, who’s been with LevLane for 13 years.
1. How and when did you first become aware of or get involved with Adoptions From the Heart?
We became involved through our son Matthew. We adopted Matthew through Adoptions From The Heart in 2010. When we decided to adopt, we looked at a few difference adoption agencies. Adoptions From the Heart seemed the most welcoming…the most open. Unlike some of the other agencies we met with Adoptions From The Heart didn’t care about your religion or your sexual preference. They just want you to provide a happy, healthy homes for children…to be a family. They also stressed the importance of openness between the adoptive parents and the birthmother, which can be scary for new adoptive parents. But we quickly learned how important openness and the adoption story is to the child. We selected Adoptions From the Heart and had a flawless experience. We were very fortunate. Now we have a family.
2. What made you want to support AFTH?
After we adopted Matthew, Adoptions From the Heart sent out a request for volunteer board members. My wife suggested I apply. They helped give me the greatest gift I will ever have in my life, so volunteering was the least I could do. I applied. They accepted. I help in anyway I can.
3. What do the employee donations for Adoptions From The Heart go towards?
Donations go to the Adoptions From the Heart Birthmother Fund. The fund helps women who have had an unplanned pregnancy and are trying to make a tough choice during a difficult time in their life. Adoptions From the Heart provides free advice, counseling and financial support for these women in need.
4. Is it true that the total amount of donations made by LevLane employees each year is among the largest that AFTH receives?
They have many organizations that graciously contribute. I am proud to say that LevLane is among the top contributors for this fund drive.
5. How does it feel to be the steward for what has become such a large, annual collection effort?
I have personally benefited greatly from the work Adoptions From the Heart does, but most folks in the office have never or will never need or use their services. Yet, they come into my office in droves with their hard-earned cash in hand willing to help out. It always warms my cold, black heart.
Two-term LevLane intern offers five top tips
Six months ago, I walked into LevLane as a public relations intern with little office experience, and not a clue of what to expect. For two semesters, I sat at the front desk in LevLane’s lobby greeting clients, helping them to their meetings, and feeling my heart sink when I could not match a face to the name of the colleague that the client was in to see. The frantic feeling quickly faded and my confidence grew as I began to work and interact more with my new co-workers.
My internship at LevLane has taught me about the industry I’m pursuing, what to expect from PR life inside an advertising agency, and most importantly, what is expected from me. My activities ranged from checking in dozens of media members at a big event, to contributing to blog posts and press releases, to sitting in on client calls and brainstorming meetings.
As terrifying as my first few months may have been, I now see what a gratifying opportunity it has been to watch such a successful integrated agency operate. In my final days at LevLane, I have been asked to share my top five intern tips, so that they might benefit other interns to follow:
As an intern you’re not supposed to know what to expect, and with that will always come nerves and uncertainty. No matter how unsure you are of yourself or your surroundings, a confident smile will always be the best way to smooth over any uncertainties that you may be experiencing.
From having multiple copies of your resume available when you arrive for your interview (trust me, you never how many people you will end up interviewing with), to always having pen and paper handy in case of being called into a meeting, being ready means you have it together. A trustworthy intern is never scrambling or unorganized, and although none of us start out like this, it should be your goal to leave this way.
You have landed an internship, and you are right where you want to be – now it’s time to work. Intern work may seem mundane and unimportant, but in the grand scheme of things, intern tasks are often foundational layers for the work that comes next. Completing these tasks in an efficient and timely manner will not only prove your worth, it will improve the work and outcome for the agency. These experiences will also serve as great practice for you as a PR professional. Landing an internship alone does not prepare you for what may lie ahead, but presents you with an opportunity to immerse yourself in every task and to learn as much as possible.
Feeling like the lowest man on the totem pole will never be fun, but it’s easier if you open up to the people around you. There is nothing wrong with asking for help if you don’t understand something, and there is great reward in having the courage to respectfully add your input once you’re comfortable. Getting involved and reaching out to others is the absolute best way to break out of your comfort zone and form professional relationships – and even new friendships – along the way.
Learn and grow
Your internship will give you the opportunity to dive head first into an industry that you love, and will serve as a way for you to gain valuable experience you can’t get in a classroom. How much you absorb while you’re immersed in this world is completely up to you. Within this learning period, you have a unique opportunity to learn about yourself; take advantage of it. The experience will allow you to figure out what you like and what you don’t, who you are as a worker among others, and the truth about your shortcomings juxtaposed directly against your strengths. An internship does not just fulfill a credit requirement, or hold a place on your resume; an internship rubs your rough edges smooth, instills a new air of confidence, and helps you evolve into a professional who’s ready for anything.
By Gina Turdo, Public Relations Major, Rowan University Class of 2015
LevLane added to its pewter collection on December 2 when the agency won two 2014 PRSA Philadelphia Pepperpot Awards. The annual Pepperpot Awards recognize the Philadelphia region’s top PR campaigns/projects and tactics as determined by a panel of out-of-state judges.
This year, LevLane won for its submissions in the categories Special Events and Observances (Seven Days or More), Budget Under $15,000 and Editorial/Op-Ed Columns.
For Special Events and Observances, LevLane’s winning entry highlighted the Rydal Park Lively Fall Speaker Series created for Rydal Park continuing care retirement community. This annual October series features popular media figures talking about their long careers, giving prospective residents a chance to experience Rydal Park’s “spirited living” and consider joining the community. The series drew a high number of qualified prospects, and resulted in apartment home purchases that contributed to Rydal Park’s best sales year.
Levlane’s winning Editorial/Op-Ed entry for the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections was called Keep Building Safety in Mind and appeared during May, which is National Building Safety Month. The editorial informed Philadelphia residents about the resources available to them through the Department of Licenses and Inspections’ new online power tool, and appeared at a critical time – just before the one-year anniversary of a tragic building collapse in the city.
Awards aside, the festive evening was enjoyed by LevLane team members who work together throughout the year to achieve exceptional results for clients that resulted in these impressive wins.
As the agency for 15 U.S. markets of Massage Envy Spas in 11 states (representing almost 200 spas total), LevLane applied its social media and public relations forces to promote Massage Envy Spa’s annual “Massages for Military” Veterans Day event, which resulted in more than $200,000 dollars in donations to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) as well as hundreds of free, one-hour massage therapy and facial sessions for veterans, current military personnel and their spouses.
Massage Envy Spas in the Toledo, Ohio and Southeast Michigan regions provided free, one-hour massage therapy or facial sessions to veterans, current military personnel and their spouses who scheduled appointments for Veterans Day (November 11), while Massage Envy Spas in many other regions donated $10 for every one-hour massage or facial session provided to members and guests on that day to WWP. Additionally, Massage Envy Spa members and guests contributed to “fishbowl” in-spa donations, and many members donated one of their unused massage therapy sessions to WWP.
LevLane’s media relations and social media efforts resulted in a significant number of TV news and other media placements, prompting high numbers of Massage Envy Spa appointments made on Veterans Day, and resulting in large regional donations made to WWP.
For example, the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Northern Virginia region, with 37 spas, raised a total of $55,972 for WWP. In addition, members donated 739 of their unused, prepaid massage sessions, with a retail value of $88,673, in order to provide a free massage to a veteran or service member, for a total donation value of $144,645. The 78 Massage Envy Spas located throughout Long Island, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Northern and Central New Jersey, Westchester County, New York and Connecticut raised a total of $39,805.40, for which a check presentation was made by Eugenia Tzoannopoulos, regional developer for Massage Envy Spas, to Danny Rodriguez, warrior outreach coordinator in Wounded Warrior Project’s New York City offices (see photo).
Philadelphia is known for many things, such as its eclectic and tight-knit neighborhoods, kids splashing in Love Park’s fountain, cookouts in Fairmount Park, and, most recently, its historic curbside recycling diversion rates.
No, you didn’t read that wrong.
On November 13, Philadelphians converged on City Hall’s Dilworth Park for an outdoor celebration, media event, and information fair as the city recognized America Recycles Day. During the event, the Philadelphia Streets Department’s Recycling Office announced that 128,000 tons of recycled materials were collected through the city’s curbside recycling program, buildings, and public spaces in fiscal year 2014. That number is impressive, but even more so is that the total tonnage represents a 155 percent increase in recycling since 2008.
The event helped emphasize that we have to keep up the momentum and recycle smarter – on the job, on the street, and at play. Event attendees learned about recycling and waste-reduction efforts, and how the city can improve its recycling habits, from these participating organizations:
- Philadelphia Streets Department
- Philadelphia Recycling Office
- United States Environmental Protection Agency
- Mayor’s Office of Sustainability
- Keep America Beautiful
- Keep Philadelphia Beautiful
- ReCommunity Recycling
This event is LevLane’s most recent endeavor in recognizing the important contributions of the citizens of Philadelphia who are responsible for this historic milestone. Working with the Streets Department and its Recycling Office since 2007, LevLane’s latest iteration I’m Behind Recycling is a media campaign that shows the Philadelphians who are leading the charge by recycling at home.
Additionally, LevLane developed Facebook and Twitter pages for the Philadelphia’s Recycling Office to engage people in real time – to keep them up to date with the latest information and statistics, and to make answering their questions as quick and easy as possible. By sharing articles, highlighting recycling events, and sharing expert commentary, these pages help establish the city as a knowledgeable resource, leader and advocate for recycling.
Phase two of the I’m Behind Recycling campaign serves as a refresher course on what is and isn’t recyclable. We’re so eager that we’re recycling items like plastic bags, tissues, greasy pizza boxes, and light bulbs, among other things, which can hinder the recycling process, damage machinery, and put sanitation workers at risk of injury. Philadelphians are doing a great job of recycling, but the bottom line is this: we need to know the ins and the outs.
We’ve been behind recycling for a long time, and with our collective efforts and an understanding of what’s recyclable, it won’t be long before Philadelphia achieves Mayor Nutter’s goal of becoming the Greenest City in America.
Last week, we sent our Social Media Manager Erica Nardello to the Big Apple for Social Media Week NYC. In two days of SMW sessions, expert panelists from socially savvy agencies and brands discussed continuously changing social media platforms, revolutionary content strategies, and evolving analytics. Check out Erica’s key takeaways from select sessions below and, if you were in attendance at #SMWNYC, let us know what findings you found most valuable in the comments!
The Language of Social Media is Visual
The internet was built on text. From search engine algorithms and queries to website and application coding, words have defined and shaped the digital experience. But, as JWT Trends Strategist Will Palley pointed out in a session on Thursday called Reading is No Longer Fundamental: The Shift to Visual Vocabulary, “new social platforms force people to learn new languages.” Increasingly, those languages are not always (or only) verbal. With the rise of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, the language of social media is evolving from words (and even limited characters) to images. DigitasLBi SVP and North American Mobile Practice Lead Chia Chen said in The Changing Face of News Consumption, Hosted by WSJ, “The currency of social media is imagery.” As users increasingly turn to animated stickers and emoji to communicate, brands need to evolve to learn from, understand, and embrace these languages – to “listen visually,” said Palley. But how?
“We need to restore context to content,” said Curalate CEO and Co-Founder Apu Gupta. That context can come from comments, emoji, metadata, and more. While users may be pinning your brand’s products or posting photos of your signage on Instagram, it’s important to understand the users, read their posts, and know that they could be sharing the content because they love it or because they hate it. Brands have the opportunity to create that context by inviting consumers to participate in the content creation process. Rather than simply taking and repurposing user-generated content, Craig Hepburn, global head of digital & social at Nokia, recommends that brands start building relationships with (but not paying for the involvement of) key influencers. Curalate’s Gupta cited a really amazing example of work with Urban Outfitters, which leveraged user-generated content to create a digital experience based on the real style of its customers on its homepage. But the best part wasn’t the “influence” of the customers featured on UO’s website – it was their enthusiasm. “We talk so much about influencer marketing, but that’s to the detriment of loyalists,” Gupta explained. The success of the efforts to incorporate visual user-generated content depends largely on the type of brand and the type of consumer, but one thing is for sure: the visual language of social media is still in its infancy and it will only continue to grow and change.
The Evolution of Content Creation and Sharing
Propelled by changes in consumption habits and platform preferences, storytelling has changed forever. Still, there are great opportunities and challenges for community managers and content creators of all kinds, but they’ve evolved with the times and with us. “Most people have thought of stories as having a beginning, middle and end,” said Jim Roberts, executive editor and chief content officer of Mashable. “For the consumer who has time to consume it, it’s a really rewarding experience, but most people don’t have time to do that anymore.” Now, brands and media companies are being forced to tailor their content to evolving consumer preferences.
Liz Heron, emerging media editor at The Wall Street Journal, explained that content, especially content targeted to millennials, needs to be characterized by three things: presence and share-ability on social and mobile platforms, rich visuals, and emotional relevance and resonance. And really, in a sea of content that is constantly fighting for our attention and our love, that couldn’t be more accurate. Without content that tugs at the heartstrings and engages with imagery on the social and mobile channels at our fingertips, media companies and brands cannot hope to connect with modern consumers. “The pace of change that we experienced… in the ’90s was nothing compared to the pace of change in recent years,” said Roberts. Clearly social media trends are leading the way forward and show no sign of slowing down.
Erica’s recap can also be found on her blog, ‘ello.
When our PR leader Scott Tattar calls it “one of the best PR moves in recent memory,” you know it’s big.
On February 5th CVS Caremark, national drugstore leader in both overall and pharmaceutical sales, announced the cessation of their cigarette sales. The company will remove all cigarettes from their 7,600 stores nationwide starting October 1st of this year. “We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting,” said President/CEO Larry Merlo. He notes that it is “inconsistent” to sell tobacco products as a store that thrives on helping customers create and maintain healthier lifestyles.
It is predicted that their overall sales of $123 billion will only be affected by approximately $2 billion, with this number including products that go in tandem with cigarettes, such as lighters and gum.
News of CVS Caremark is being received very well on many different platforms. The company has received a huge outpour of support from businesses, organizations, and individuals alike.
The company’s official Twitter account (@CVSCaremarkFYI) has been tweeting and retweeting about the announcement since it was made, receiving nods from the likes of Bill Gates, the American Lung Association, and First Lady Michelle Obama.
President Obama even published a statement to demonstrate his support of the groundbreaking initiative.
CVS Caremark also launched a separate Twitter account two days prior to its announcement, CVS in the Community (@CVSInAction). Followers of this account can track how the company will “help people on their path to better health and support #communityhealth through charitable giving, volunteerism and partnerships in our local communities.” Undoubtedly, initiatives against smoking will frequently be highlighted on this feed.
The social responsibility shown by CVS Caremark is incredibly admirable. We hope these healthy initiatives will spread, especially in conjunction with the FDA’s plans for a new campaign specifically targeting youth tobacco use.
(This post was written by Ellie Paparone, PR intern and senior at Saint Joseph’s University.)
Facebook and Twitter as news sources. Love it or hate it, it’s the state of social media today. Everyone is sharing articles, retweeting links and circulating information (often without checking its accuracy). A recent example of this is a news article posted on DailyCurrant.com: Man Responsible for Olympic Ring Mishap Found Dead In Sochi. There has been a lot of buzz around this year’s winter Olympics; from toxic water and unfinished hotel rooms to the extermination of stray dogs around Sochi (but that’s a whole different blog post probably about crisis communication!). With all this negative media attention, yet another article that details a ridiculous action surrounding the Olympics was quick to be believed by many.
A quick look at the Daily Currant’s ‘about’ section show that they’re a satirical site with the mission to “ridicule the timid ignorance which obstructs our progress, and promote intelligence.” Websites like this and The Onion take situations that are flooding the media and put hilariously false spins on them. All too often, however, people scrolling through their social media sites are just reading headlines and sharing stories. After all, Facebook is the second most trusted online service. So starts the vicious cycle of circulating false news.
Moral of the story? Think before you share (or tweet). Is it really plausible that someone was so mad about the Olympic ring mess-up that they went out and committed murder? Probably not. Ridiculous things happen, that’s for sure, but it’s better to know the facts before you end up sharing false information. Sites like Snopes.com thankfully lend us a helping hand by getting to the bottom of many circulating rumors. Keeping up with what’s going on in the news also helps to determine what’s true and what’s false. If other outlets aren’t sharing the same story, there’s probably a reason why. It’s our hope that social media users will start reading more into their news than just the headline…though the gullibility of others offers a good chuckle.
(This post was written by London Faust, PR intern and senior at Temple University.)