Monthly Archives: October 2014

IT’S OK. GET CREATIVE.

For some companies, the purpose of Social Media and reason to use it is an ongoing debate. Is it simply an avenue to tell customers of the latest sale? Should the Twitter account simply act as the modernized version of collecting comment cards? Or can we instead, use the various Social Media feeds in tandem to do things that are far more interesting?

The fact is, if someone has ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ a company, then they want to see what that company has to say and are willing to have those posts show up in their feed. A human being is paying attention. A great way to keep their attention is to show them something creative and fun.

There is a simple theory that shapes my personal life, as well as my professional work: Any and all creative output is worth doing.

“Output” can refer to anything you want it to. It can be putting pen to paper, brush to canvas, or voice to song. It can be coming up with a fresh advertising campaign that isn’t like anything you’ve tried before. Whatever it is, the measure of success simply comes from the willingness to embrace your creativity.

A personal example for me would be practicing the guitar. I can’t play guitar well, but when I practice I select a few chords and try out a new pattern. Everything from how loud or quiet, how fast or slow, to the pattern of strumming is a creative choice and a small form of self-expression. There is no end game of learning to play at a professional level, and there doesn’t need to be. It is still worth doing.

Professionally, this theory is easily applied to Social Media. There have been a few Brickworks campaigns that aimed to be more creative and entertaining than your average blog post. One campaign involved single page web-comics that showed classic movies getting updated with a, hopefully hilarious, alternate history. The objective was to celebrate Social Media Month. Another campaign was the “Movember Mystery”, which was a mini web-series  in which a puppet detective had to solve the office party murder. There was no precedence for this experiment, and the main objective was simply to spread “Movember” awareness. In both cases, there was just a spark of creativity that we grabbed onto and ran with.

Even when dealing with a new ad campaign, it can be tempting to stick with the usual safe strategy, or rehash an idea that kind of worked before. There are some old ideas that are timeless and there is a reason why they work, but they shouldn’t be used as a crutch. All those people that are subscribed to your social feeds are just waiting to be captivated. Taking a step outside the box and getting crazy with your creative is going to be what resonates with your readers.

The point here is that there doesn’t need to be a new product to push, or a new idea to sell in order to dig into your creativity. Get people involved and have a brainstorm session. Try something new and see what sort of feedback you get. It will be worth doing.

WORKPLACE WELLNESS

Write a blog? Hmm … makes me nervous, makes my palms sweat – I should just relax, breathe, and take a moment to think. That should help clear my head … at least that’s what I tell my students while teaching a yoga class!

Taking a few minutes of your workday to relax can be very beneficial for your physical and mental health. When you feel as though there is NO way you can do a project, or look at another face (besides your own reflection in your computer) … take a moment and walk away from your desk. Take a deep breath, go to the kitchen for a snack or beverage, even take a stroll around your office or building.

When I teach a yoga class, some people rush into the studio from a busy day at work and you can cut the anxiety and stress with a knife as they whirl by. Once they sit down, and take a deep breath, there is a great sense of ease that floods over everyone. Imagine if we all relaxed this way throughout the workday?

So what can you do to stop those frustrations and keep a clear head (besides move to a deserted island)? Try to incorporate physical activity and proper eating habits into your workday. It’s not only good for yourself and your personal life, but good for your work life and productivity.

Here are a few tips:

  1. We all know the old trick – take the stairs instead of the elevator and keep those legs moving.
  2. Try fresh, healthy snack options. Dump the cookies and cakes – try veggies, nuts, fruit, etc.
  3. Pack your lunch! One of the best habits you can get into is getting in the kitchen and cooking your food. It’s the best way to control food portions, and eliminate preservatives and grease!
  4. Organizing a lunch and learn for the office? Instead of pizza and pop try healthier options like light sandwiches/wraps and salad.
  5. Water, water, water … we’ve heard it before – drink more water! Hate drinking plain, ol water? Try infusing it with fruit and herbs… strawberry and basil, cucumber and mint, melon and lime – the options are endless!
  6. Cut down on coffee. Coffee can have the reverse effect than you’re looking for: irritability, upset stomach, muscle tremors and increased heartbeat. Try stocking your cupboard or desk with herbal tea for when that warm beverage craving kicks in.
  7. Take your work events outdoor with some light activity. Team building is a great work activity – try a fun physical activity in the fresh air to bring everyone together.
  8. Exercise at lunch. Some businesses have corporate rates for local gyms. Some gyms and/or yoga studios have special daytime lunch rates to take advantage of!
  9. Perhaps the gym is too far? Organize a walking group with co-workers so you can get outside into the fresh air and provide each other with encouragement.
  10. Fresh air. When you feel yourself getting stressed – don’t sit and brew on it at your desk… walk away for a breath of fresh air … you’d be surprised how approachable you can be when you’re back 😉

With fall upon us, it’s a perfect time to evaluate your daily routine and activities. Take a moment to assess what you’d like to do in the upcoming winter, and celebrate what you’ve done and accomplished in the past year.

Getting into the groove of these things isn’t always easy. But once you do, it’s rewarding. I’m sure you’ve experienced the moment of “I don’t want to go to the gym” … then once you’re done, you say, “Wow, I’m so glad I went.” Take the transition one step at a time; you’ll begin to notice the difference it makes in yourself, your personal life, and of course – your work.

Kristen Amies, Senior Graphic Designer