My Summer at 451: An Intern’s Inside View

451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper ignites. That’s what we were told on the first day of my internship this summer at 451 Marketing. Reflecting upon the past three months, though, I realized that 451 Marketing didn’t just spark my passion for digital marketing and SEO. It fueled it.

I arrived at the office on a Friday in May to kick off my summer and now, on a Friday in August, I can’t believe it’s already over. [caption id="attachment_9940" align="aligncenter" width="493"]That's me! That's me presenting my ideas on digital trends![/caption] On my first day, my supervisors showed me around the office, introducing me to the other teams and revealing a secret snack cupboard, multiple Keurigs, conference rooms where you can write on the walls, and a space with couches and massive bean bags that I immediately wanted to swan dive into.

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The six-year-old within me was awakened. And it didn’t end there. The interns helped scoop mounds of Double Fudge Brownie and rainbow-colored ice cream at the Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl for HP Hood, a client of the agency.

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Of course, there were Pizza Fridays when everyone would sprawl out on picnic tables and couches with slices and slices of chicken ranch, eggplant parmesan, bbq chicken, meat lovers, Hawaiian and more from the North End staple Ernesto’s. My experience here was about much more than just fun though. I found mentors, I found my place working on a team, and I found my passion.  I discovered the ultimate life hack: I can work and have fun at the same time. I felt excited to come into my cubicle every day. My supervisors, SEO Account Managers Melissa Sciorra and Ryan Durling taught me the ins and outs of search engine optimization and brought me in as a valued member of the team. They gave me meaningful projects that actually impacted their clients, I was able to sit in on calls and meetings and I got to see how my work produced results. Even though I was on the SEO team, I learned about the public relations and social media aspects of marketing to boot.  All the interns got the breakdown on digital marketing through Coffee Break Academy, a workshop series led by a manager from each team. And the best part? Apple strudels, hot coffee, and chocolate filled croissants from Au Bon Pain. One of the most rewarding parts of the summer, though, was working on an intern project with ten other interns from various teams. We developed an integrated digital marketing campaign for our own client, a local non-profit seeking to accelerate the growth of small businesses. We then presented our strategy to a panel of executives and managers at 451 for feedback and then, finally, to our client. It was so exciting (and nerve-wracking!) to take what we learned from our supervisors and create our own ideas and initiatives. For all future interns out there, I’ll leave you with a few tidbits of advice:
  • Start strong, end strong. Set actionable goals for yourself at the beginning of the internship and track them throughout. At the end of the internship, reflect on your list and review it with your supervisors, you can ask for feedback on your personal development too!
  • Take initiative. Whether you’re given a project or a simple assignment, you should always go above and beyond. If you see an opportunity where an existing process or presentation can be improved, say something! Put in the extra time and you’ll learn more, gain more experience, and earn credibility.
  • Engage with everyone. Supervisors, managers, directors, fellow interns, vice presidents, founding partners, or cubicle neighbors – talk to as many people as you can. You can learn something new from every person you meet.
  • Be flexible and patient. You may not always get exactly the project or assignment you want. But, if you stick it out and prove that you’re dedicated and hard-working, good things will come your way. The little things do matter.
  • Ask, ask, ask. But, be self-sufficient too.  If you’re confused about something, ask. If you want more work, ask. If you want to try something new, ask.  If you want a recommendation, ask. If you don’t know where the bathroom is, ask. But remember, you also have Google for the simpler questions.
Whether I was conducting keyword research for my supervisors, chatting about life with an Executive Vice President, developing client-interfacing skills on our intern project, or writing a blog post on search query trends, I was always learning. Now, as I look back on my summer, I feel proud, grateful, and hungry. But not for food. 451 Marketing presented me with an amazing opportunity to delve into the world of digital marketing and now, as I enter my Junior year, I am prepared and eager to explore that world to no end.   **Written by Search Marketing intern Cambria Davies, marketing and international management majors at Boston University (Class of 2016).

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451 Summer Internship Project: An Interview with Team Interise and Team Special Olympics Massachusetts

2014-08-14_1607This summer, 451 Marketing’s 20 were divided into two teams, and given the opportunity to develop a full comprehensive marketing strategy for a local non-profit organization.

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Cody Prudhomme, a rising Junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst worked with Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA), while Grace Wu a rising Junior at Boston University worked with Interise, a non-profit dedicated to helping with the growth of small businesses. [caption id="attachment_9871" align="aligncenter" width="553"]Team Special Olympics MA on presentation day! Team Special Olympics MA on presentation day![/caption] What was your initial reaction upon being introduced to your client? G: Interise’s logo reminds me of the Incredibles! C: I was very excited to work with Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) because I have volunteered at their events several times before.   What were some of the challenges of working on a team with 9/10 other interns? G: Probably just meeting up with everyone since we work on different days and we have other intern work to complete. But I’m lucky to have really hardworking team members who are willing to stay around after work. We even take turns editing our Dropbox documents!   What were some of the challenges of working with a non-profit? C: With SOMA, it was unique to have market an organization with the intention of recruiting volunteers instead of trying to promote a product per say. Also at a smaller company I found that many employees wear multiple hats, and they do not have the time or resources to fully dedicate themselves to designing a marketing plan with the assistance of an outside firm.   Could you briefly describe your team's final results and the recommendations you made to your client? G: We completed several competitive audits and developed a strategy based on the research we had done. Our PR team put together a media list and press kit, which included a press release on Interise’s 10th year anniversary event “Thrive!” and CEO Jean Horstman’s biography. Our social media team created a four platform social strategy as well as a blogging strategy that would improve Interise’s social network and presence as a socio-economical thought leader.  And lastly, our SEO team made content suggestions that would optimize Interise’ web presence both on-page and off-page. C: We developed a complete, comprehensive content strategy for SOMA, which encouraged posting on a daily basis across all social platforms.  The acronym S.P.O.R.T. was used to diversify content topics (Supporters, Progress, Our Word, Recipes, and Training) to appeal to a wide variety of audiences.  We developed a content campaign known as “Our Word” to help place the focus of the content on the athletes through a picture based campaign that relies on quotes from the athletes themselves. We also developed full PR and SEO campaigns designed to maximize the reach of our content campaigns and SOMA as a whole.   What was the most rewarding part of working with a non-profit organization? C: Knowing that we were able to help a non-profit organization that runs with a small number of employees was extremely rewarding, but by far the most rewarding aspect for me was knowing that we helped position these hard working and dedicated athletes the credit and recognition they deserve.   What are a few tips you would give to others who are working with non profits? G: Knowing the mission and the target audience is key! Then you know how to approach a wider audience and expand your goal.
 
As the interns return to school after a summer of hard work and growth, they take with them the experience of being able to have made a large impact on two great non-profit organizations that are now positioned to spread the goals of their organizations throughout the Greater Boston area and well beyond.   Team Interise consisted of Abby Bunting, Alison Takahashi, Bryan Perley, Cambria Davies, FeiFei Ling, Grace Wu, Jackson Downing, Kayla Rodriguez, Lindsey Galvin and Raisa-Dielle Riikonen!   Team Special Olympics Massachusetts consisted of Abigail Weit, Carly Meyerson, Cody Prudhomme, Daniel Griffin, Gianni Frattoli, Ivy Hsuan-Yu Hou, Kayla Setters, Kelly Caprio, Matt O'Connor, Sara Borestsky and Wylie McKenzie!     *Compiled by Cody Prudhomme, Journalism and Economics majors at University of Massachusetts Amherst (Class of 2016).

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#IceBucketChallenge and the Power of Social Activism

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What does your Facebook news feed look like these days? If I had to make a wild guess, I’d say it’s filled with constantly streaming videos? Each of which features your friends, family and co-workers dousing themselves in various ice buckets and whimpering afterwards… am I right? Lucky guess. The most recent Facebook phenomenon is taking your virtual friends by storm, enlisting each into its chilly, wet, and ice-filled wrath. With each newly nominated person, three to five others are brought into the mix. It doesn’t take a math wizard to note that exponential growth is certainly taking place here, as hundreds of new videos are being shared every second. But in case you were wondering, the Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise money over $100 million for ALS. According to Forbes, donations have increased by 3,500% from the same time period last year. So what’s all the buzz about you ask? Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known more simply as, ALS and “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” A progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, ALS affects voluntary muscle action in the central nervous system until the victim is unable to initiate or control muscle movement whatsoever. What is worse, this progressive deterioration takes a toll on its victims ability to breath, speak and swallow, and in a number of cases, leads to death. There are several leading research institutes and organizations working towards a cure for ALS, each striving to raise awareness of its debilitating effects, and also seeking charitable donations so as to fund greater research.

For those in the Boston area, the name Pete Frates may ring a bell. The former Boston College baseball player and team captain was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, and his beloved athletic career was put on hold all too soon. On July 31st at 7PM Pete Frates posted a video with the caption, “ I am nominating myself for the #icebucketchallenge,” and then proceeded to call upon Tom Brady, The Howard Stern Show and more. His post was inspired by a close friend, Patt Quinn, who encouraged Pete to bring this debilitating disease to the forefront and raise awareness by encouraging others to donate if they did not take part in the challenge.

Those nominated are given exactly twenty-four hours to assemble an ice bucket, select nominees, and effectively drench themselves with a chilly bucket of ice filled water. What’s most incredible about this movement is the incredibly diverse group of people taking part in this challenge. Take a look at some big name participants: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh:
Former Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek Boston Celtics Point Guard Rajon Rondo: New England Patriots Wide Receiver Julian Edelman
  Even Martha Stewart got onboard, throwing the challenge to Ellen DeGeneres, Blake Lively and Gwyneth Paltrow The now-viral ice bucket challenge has rapidly drawn participation from your average individual to world-class athletes and celebrities, while correspondingly attracting skeptics. However, according to research from the national office of the ALS Association, donations over a six day span of July 29 to August 6 have increased fourfold from the same time period in 2013. Additionally, over the three day span from August 4th to 6th, donations were up 10 times from one year ago. So for those who were doubtful, tangible impact is occurring in the form of donations. Interestingly enough, when Pete Frates began promoting this challenge, monetary donations were not part of the motivation. Lynn Aarson, Executive Director of the Massachusetts ALS Association Chapter, told BostInno on Wednesday that, "Pete's goal when he started [the challenge] after he was first diagnosed two years ago was to raise awareness of ALS.” It’s safe to say that Frates has met his goal with flying colors.  The impact has undoubtedly gone beyond merely raising awareness. Money that would never have been made available to the ALS Association in this time period is pouring in. For those who have yet to be nominated, join in once you do by either dumping a bucket of ice water over your head, or donating $100 to the cause! You have 24 hours…

**Written by Marketing intern Alison Takahashi English and Psychology majors at Boston College (Class of 2016).

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Selfies: Narcissistic or Revolutionary?

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We’ve all done it. In front of the Grand Canyon, with your two college friends, a solo shot post-workout—there really isn’t a wrong place to take a selfie. Selfies have evolved from a tourist mannerism to a normal daily activity and in doing so, have completely transformed how we interact in the world. Like most social phenomena, selfies have gradually seeped their way into all aspects of life—altering the way we interact with peers, the way we market ourselves, and even the way we view ourselves. Our lives have been totally eclipsed by this sensation of self-promotion and the result has been increasingly controversial. Images are becoming the single most important determinant in promotional articles. Articles that include images get 94% more views than those that don’t. There has been a fundamental shift to the visual side of marketing that makes social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest even more crucial to driving sales. Selfie images themselves are becoming their own independent platform with which brands can promote themselves through campaigns, competitions and hashtags. Samsung, who has seemingly made it their marketing goal to own the selfie, has been particularly successful at harnessing the power of it. David Ortiz received an outrageous amount of press for his recent selfie with President Obama.

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While he was accused of taking the picture as part of his promotional deal with Samsung and received a lot of criticism for it, the exposure it brought to Samsung and their Galaxy Note 3 device was well worth the debate. Controversial press is still press; and it can have positive results if handled correctly. Ellen DeGeneres, another sponsor of Samsung, went viral with her Oscars selfie, which was subsequently retweeted over 3 million times, a twitter record and brought the company over $1 billion dollars worth of attention. Both instances were met with extreme popularity and resulted in unbelievable exposure. As the selfie makes its way up the ranks of trending social behaviors, it simultaneously tests the waters of modern PR tactics. Cancer Research UK hitched on to the trending #NoMakeUpSelfies and transformed the trend into a fundraising campaign. no make up While the Facebook page has accumulated thousands of selfies and the campaign has been successful in terms of participation, it has also gained a lot of criticism for encouraging narcissism and creating hype around something that shouldn’t be that profound (women without makeup). Regardless, the campaign raised over 2 million dollars in just 48 hours and since then has latched onto various other campaigns to become an even larger sensation. Similarly, the theme for the 10th Anniversary Celebration of BlogHer Conferences that took place in San Jose last week was #selfiebration. For ten weeks prior to the event, an online selfie contest was held as bloggers responded to hashtags and prompts with pictures of themselves. The idea was to demonstrate how blogging is an extension of oneself, and that the true power of blogging comes from understanding and revealing your true self. Blogging today, like PR, is about transparency and creating an identity around a product or a brand so that it transforms into something more real and therefore valued. On the BlogHer event website they describe the selfie as “a new way of sharing, a new way of telling stories, a new way to be a part of media, a new way to connect with brands, a new way to disrupt the old ways—[it] is bigger than we can even fully see and understand right now, because it is happening every day, with us in smack-dab in the middle.” Through this contest, BlogHer was able to garner hundreds of participants while simultaneously generating enormous buzz for their upcoming anniversary event. As the selfie takes on new roles in the marketing world, controversy around it has become increasingly tense. The growing political, social and behavioral power it has on the public is changing the environment of marketing. Selfies are becoming an important and influential way to endorse yourself, and bond with the public over something simple and universal. If PR firms can harness the influence that a selfie has over the public and use it in a way to build brand awareness, it can be a huge asset. In the case of Cara Delevinge, a famous model who took a selfie video on the catwalk of Giles Deacon’s runway last February, she was able to give 2% of the twitter activity during London Fashion Week to Giles Deacon himself, not to mention the additional 4 million followers on her Instagram that watched the videos. In terms of the President of the United States and his participation in the selfie phenomenon – people seem less enthralled. In his case, the selfie takes on a petty and conceited nature, one that the public and press aren’t impressed by. Selfies live in a specific and spontaneous environment, and it is up to you to determine the right moment. They are a whole new beast to tame in the world of social media and public relations, but when used appropriately, they can break open a whole new level of exposure and brand awareness with minimal resources. All you need is yourself.   **Written by Abby Bunting, International Relations major at Brown University (Class of 2015).

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7 Ways Big Brands Successfully Drive Sales with Content

The number one goal of content marketing is to create and distribute valuable, relevant and consistent content that will attract and acquire a clearly defined audience. The purpose is not merely to get consumers’ attention, but to drive profitable customer action. Read the seven reasons why these companies and more have successfully succeeded in driving sales via content marketing.   Craft headlines that are sure to make headway It seems that people cannot go anywhere without their smart phones, tablets, or laptops. Each of which is constantly connecting with the worldwide web, leaving every image, article, video and social media platform right at your fingertips. With so much to choose from, it becomes that much more imperative to make sure your article stands out and rises above the rest. Your best bet is to:
  • Put a Number on It
  • Use Rhyming & Alliteration
  • Opt for How To’s, Complete Guides, What No One Tells You About…, Tips, etc.
  • Pathos: Surprise, amaze, incredible, heart-breaking, life-changing
Prime Example: Buzzfeed

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Buzzfeed does an incredible job of incorporating the above-mentioned tactics into their headline strategy, guaranteeing user attention. People generally like the idea that there is a limit or expectation to how much information they will take in from an article, which explains the desirability of using numbers. Rhyming and alliteration make for fluid statements, while personal stories, testimonials, and struggles are an extremely relatable way to connect with your audience and gain valuable engagement. Last but not least, by emphasizing how inclusive, innovative, and far-reaching your information is, the more interested readers will be.   Remember: Not just any-old image will do Everyone’s heard the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but it’s certainly possible that the quote isn’t entirely accurate. Maybe you can only come up with 148 words to describe an image of this morning’s coffee stain on your new shirt, but the point is that high-quality, relevant images can do the work so you don’t have to use 148 words, or ‘a thousand’ for those who are optimistic. With this in mind, attach an image that you believe sends the most effective, intuitive message to your audience, one that is large so that it’s hard to miss and clear so that they can’t miss the point. Prime Example: We Are Not Martha (Shout-Out to our Director of Social Media Susie Anderson!)

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With great recipes and a funny personality, We Are Not Martha would be a successful blog, pictures or not. However, it is the inclusion of her high-resolution photos, most of which are drool-worthy or hunger-inspiring, that takes her blog and it’s recipes to another level. Since people respond tend to respond more emotionally to images than a string of words, her decadent photos of all that she makes takes you step-by-step through the cooking process, and certainly builds up excitement for what is to come!   Don’t let users get lazy, call them to action! Too often businesses are able to bring users to check out their websites, only to have them leave moments later. Why is this? The reason is that many companies fail to recognize the significance of using Call-to-Actions, which is an attempt to generate an immediate response from the audience. Rather than idling the website aimlessly, why not give users something to think about? Maybe they should download your eBooks, or try a free month-long trial of your product? By asking something of your audience, you can generate more leads and product participation, each of which will force users to scrutinize your good or service further. Prime Example: Netflix

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Netflix integrates call to actions, like the one above: “Watch TV shows & movies anytime, anywhere.” Simple and to the point, the slogan emphasizes how flexible the application is, while also mentioning that the site has essentially all that one would look for in terms of video entertainment. At $7.99 a month, the service seems like a bargain, and the intuitive “Start Your Free Month,” tab is too. Always empower those who power you Our guiding principle is to make people love your brand, but what exactly does that entail? This is not an instance where you hire someone to give out free hugs and high-fives to every customer accrued. Instead, the aim is to invigorate your audience by convincing them that they can be a better version of themselves if your brand was part of their life. Prime Example: Apple

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  Understand that user sharing really is caring When something of interest is found on the Internet, that interest usually doesn't stop there. What used to spread through word of mouth and written letters can now spread simply and rapidly through hyperlink. The easier you make it to share, the more likely people will do just that. Prime Example: YouTube

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YouTube is an excellent example of a company that has made its content accessible to virtually anyone anywhere with one of the larger selections of social media platforms that I’ve seen. It extends sharing options beyond the standard 3-4 platforms (usually some combination of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Email) to offer 13 opportunities including reddit, StumbleUpon and even foreign social networks like Russia's Odnoklassniki and Europe's VK. Given that YouTube's most viewed video of all time (Psy's "Gangnam Style") has surpassed the 2 billion views mark, I would say it's working.

  Optimize and leverage product-related topics There are variety of general topics that interest people, whether it’s the NFL Superbowl, the FIFA World Cup, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the 4th of July or music festivals. Though each may be an event or a holiday, there are a number of connotations and associations that develop whether it’s consciously or not. As an example, the Fourth of July not only represents the fourth day of the month of July, but rather it brews up images of hot dogs and burgers, fireworks and no work, as well as red, white and blue. Companies that understand how their target audience thinks, knows how to make the most of associations such as these by capitalizing on an event or concept that will further the initiative of their product. Prime Example: Free People

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Free People, a popular women’s fashion clothing company, has its own blog in which many of the posts include images of models wearing their clothing. In this way, it becomes difficult for the user to separate an article on music festivals from the Free People clothing the model is sporting in the included image. Therefore, associate yourself!   Recycle content by relating the past to the present Sometimes we forgot that things from the past can still be useful in the present. Despite a blog post or advertisement being days or months or even years old, they continue to represent an interest or demonstrated expertise on a given topic that was once, and can still be, of interest to your target audience. More often than not, two topics can be intertwined such that your most recent focus could incorporate a previous one. For instance, a food blog may have a recipe for red velvet cake with a hyperlink to a cream cheese frosting recipe that had been posted well beforehand. In much the same way, company blogs or website articles can be linked to previous blog posts or online articles so that the single present piece being shared has many embedded hyperlinks that will direct users to further pieces. By doing so, your company not only appears to have a better understanding of a broader range of topics, but it also indicates that you’ve thought of all the possibilities and more. Prime Example: WikiHow

sevenWikiHow has become a premier destination for those trying to learn how to do everything from bake the perfect homemade apple pie to the many who would like to learn a thing or two about being happy (shown in the photo above). You can see that the number one step to “being happy” is to “be optimistic.” For those on the above page who also think they could use some insight into being optimistic, they can click on the phrase so that they’ll be directed to a similarly structured how to guide. In this way, WikiHow knows which topics will be of interest to users based on their intended searches. By hyperlinking topics to an entirely different, but related topic, the site ensures that even more engagement will occur.

  Someone somewhere said that you should learn from the best, and in today’s times, the best being corporate giants like Apple, Netflix, YouTube, to name a few. Written by Marketing intern Alison Takahashi English and Psychology majors at Boston College (Class of 2016).

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