Adventures in PR Land

Archive for May 2011

It’s a new year and many students are gearing up for graduation and anticipating their start in the real world. However, because of the recession, some may wonder, “What would the future hold for these graduates?” And why should seasoned career professionals care? Well, we all remember that we were once rookies and how we hungered for success during those entry-level years. No one becomes successful in an isolated bubble. Many senior employees invest their time and bestow knowledge on others because they received the same treatment when starting out. There are good perks in it for the mentor as well. A mentor can be the link between the company and new talent. A mentor’s network can be expanded by linking up with other mentors. If there is no mentorship program at the company, one can set a precedent for others to get involved. This can display the mentor’s willingness to go the extra mile, and create a positive image for the company at the same time. When mentors share their expertise, they are forced to evaluate their own skills as a byproduct of the relationship. Since the mentee may be more tuned to new technology and current industry theories, there can be an exchange of ideas.

According to the Los Angeles Times, many people who graduate during a recession won’t find an entry-level position which hinders their earnings potential and career choices decades later. To get started, professionals can contact their local college career centers or academic departments to offer their time. There is also a need for people in the industry to give classroom presentations and become the “face of the company”.  Also, the company may want to establish a mentorship program. This can create a direct link to new talent and make it easier for other employees to get involved. No matter what route one chooses, a professional’s guidance will make a great impact on a young person’s life. Eventually, the mentee will become a mentor and the cycle will continue to everyone’s benefit.


As recent college graduates enter the workforce, well established employees remain in the company, and older workers delay retirement, having multiple generations work together is crucial. According to an AARP report, Managing a Multigenerational Workforce, “For the first time in modern history, workplace demographics now span four generations.” Those groups are: the WWII Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennial Generation. With their different values and sometimes competing interest, management may wonder how to effectively meet the needs of multigenerational employees. Having an open dialog can help dispel age-related myths. Also, management can focus on each age group’s strengths rather than stereotypes. A company should form intergenerational teams to work on projects. This method can bring multiple perspectives, information, and experience to create a better project.

Let us understand who these different groups are. The WWII Generation, born between 1925-1945, tends to value hard work, personal sacrifice, and hierarchy. Growing up during the Great Depression and WWII, these workers also have a strong sense of community and family. These sentiments translate to company loyalty. However, they may have some difficulty adapting to technology. The Baby Boomers, born between 1946-1964, make up the largest percentage of the workforce. Optimistic and ready to create change, these workers also had a strong work ethic when entering the workforce; they wanted to carve out a new work identity by devoting themselves to their careers while changing the rules in the process. However, they still hold traditionalist views that may conflict with the more informal work values of Gen X and Gen Y. Generation X, born between 1965-1980, are advancing and becoming more influential in companies. Their independence, tendency to ask questions, and risk taking can be great assets to an organization. However, Gen X’ers may be hesitant to commit to one company and was the first generation to insist on a greater work/life balance. Millennials (or Gen Y), born between 1980-2000, are beginning to enter and change the workforce. Their comfort with technology, which earned them the title “digital natives”, has become their main strength. Despite the challenges of establishing themselves amidst a recession and limited entry-level work, these workers remain optimistic that their time will come. They prefer more informal and egalitarian work environments, which may cause tension with their older supervisors.

Overall, management should remember that employees want to contribute and be acknowledged for their contributions. By identifying each generation’s assets and using those strengths to counteract another generation’s weaknesses, the organization can optimize its greatest advantage…. a multigenerational team.

In the age of instant feedback and a constant need for companies to stay “cutting edge”, it is no surprise that recent logo changes have been met with criticism.  Recent changes to Starbucks and the GAP have stirred a debate about how consumers connect to a brand and its logo.

Starbucks has recently changed its logo by removing the “Starbucks Coffee” text with stars and enlarging the “Starbucks Siren” green mermaid image. According to Yahoo!, the company’s evolution beyond its coffee selection is the major reason for the logo change. Since Starbucks also offers food, pastries, and other beverages, the company wants to reflect this expansion in its logo. Also Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, says “There is some symmetry to be able to do this [Starbucks redesign]. This new evolution does two things… it embraces and respects our heritage and at the same time, evolves us to a point where it’s more suitable for the future.”

While we wait and see if the new Starbucks logo will stay, the Gap logo change backlash still remains in recent memory. After a week of passionate outcry from Facebook (and other forums), the company decided to switch back to its original logo.

What these two examples show is the importance of brand identity and consumer sentiment. With companies looking to Facebook and other social media forums to gauge public opinion, a logo change will not be met with silence. So, in what situations could a change in image be appropriate? According to one article “It’s almost never a good idea to change a company’s logo”, there are three main reasons for a company to re-design the logo:

  • First, if the company’s reputation is damaged, then a logo change may be a good idea.
  • Next, if the logo is too hard to reproduce then changing it is necessary. For instance, Apple was forced to make this change when printing the rainbow colors became too difficult, so a solid black or silver apple icon was used.
  • Finally, when the focus and purpose of the company changes completely, it makes sense to change the logo. For example, Nokia had to change its image when it transformed from a paper mill to a technology company.

Overall, a logo change can be jarring to consumers if they have developed an emotional or mental attachment to it. However, changes may be necessary in several cases and people tend to adapt anyway. No matter what reason, remember that re-designing a logo can jeopardize the brand identity it helped create; therefore plan carefully and do it only for the right reasons.

Everyone has strengths that cannot be measured in a one-size-fits-all standard.  Some workers are great writers, others are excellent mathematicians, and a few have great customer relations skills. Companies can use the multiple intelligences theory and modify instructions for greater productivity.

Created by Howard Gardner, developmental psychologist and Harvard professor, the multiple intelligences theory suggests that people have several types of skills and using only the IQ test to measure intelligence is limiting. People use several combinations of “intelligences” to help them better absorb and process information.

Spatial people like to solve problems and interact with the world visually. Linguistic people love words and languages and excel at written and verbal tasks – blogs, social media, internet forums, newsletters, or emails are great communications tools for them. Logical people are great at logical and numeric tasks. Solving problems and investigating are their strong suits. An Interpersonal person can also be labeled a “people person”.  They understand others’ needs and emotions; this allows them to provide excellent customer service and be persuasive.

Author Marcia L. Conner, wrote a book detailing how people can use their innate abilities to learn better and faster.  She then gives examples of how learning styles can influence one’s career.

“…an energetic residential Realtor, loves her job most when she’s walking around houses, running her hands over the walls, or touching the upholstery of a couch. Although she learns a little from her clients when they set up their appointment on the phone, she knows she will understand them better when they walk around a home together.”

Although this is an educational theory, managers can use this information to design more engaging presentations, enrich workshops/ seminars, and develop their staff’s cognitive abilities. Moreover, if workers understand their own learning styles, they can modify how they execute plans and maximize results.

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May 2011
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Sabrina Roberts