Friends Make the Best Coworkers

By Joanna Kulesa
As the year draws to a close, we’re thrilled to be named one of “50 Best Workplaces for Camaraderie” by Fortune Magazine. Making the list represents our second Fortune award win this year.

This week our team ranked on a list of companies across the country including Yelp, The Boston Consulting Group and Radio Flyer.

Providing a workplace where people can develop friendships and camaraderie seems natural. Not only does it make work more fun and satisfying, it also provides value by driving productivity and trust within teams.

This win reminds me of a piece I read in the New York Times earlier this fall, “Friends at Work? Not so Much.” Although the article notes that workplace friendships are a falling trend (why?), it also cites research proving the impact of office camaraderie on our happiness and professional development.

Science shows that groups of friends outperform groups of acquaintances in both decision-making and effort tasks. And when friends work together, they’re more trusting and committed to one another’s success – spending more time helping each other to get more done, says the article.

Findings like these support our own company values. And in an industry as dynamic as PR, a sense of camaraderie is integral to our success.

This award is important to us, partly because our ranking is based on employee feedback on areas such as: how comfortable people feel being themselves, how friendly, cooperative and fun our workplace is, and the strength of our teams.

As we often say, “Our people are everything.” And we believe that building a work environment where employees connect with one another and can be themselves is important – not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is way more fun and makes the most business sense!

Enough with Millennial Stereotyping, Folks!

By Joanna Kulesa
When I go to a concert or music festival, which as a lifelong music fan I do a lot, I interact with many younger people. Invariably, they are friendly and kind. They seem to genuinely enjoy talking with my husband and me, both middle-age Baby Boomers.

When I look around the office of my Silicon Valley PR agency, where more than half the employees are under 35, I see smart, hard-working, fully-engaged professionals.

Yet from what I read – amusingly summed up here — and hear in conversations with my peers at cocktail parties, millennials are some combination of spoiled, shallow, entitled, unmotivated, disloyal and narcissistic.

You grumpy old bastards can get off my lawn. The kids are alright.

Look, I’m not suggesting that all sweeping generational generalizations are BS. I have noticed some traits among millennials in the workforce that seem to stand out. They hate feeling like a cog. They need to sense that their work matters –and they trust their hearts to tell them if that’s the case, not because you said so. They crave authenticity. This LinkedIn article that recently got a lot of attention captured the millennial mindset.

The fact is, generational stereotypes, like all stereotypes, are tricky stuff.

Baby boomers, according to the American Psychological Association’s list of “defining work characteristics” by generation, are optimistic, emphasize teamwork and cooperation and are ambitious workaholics. Think of the Boomers you know. I bet that for every one who proves the stereotype there is an exception.

Boomers also were supposed to be out of touch with technology. Guess no one told that to Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Mark Cuban, Tim Berners-Lee or any of the millions of middle-age folks incessantly posting cat and dinner photos on Facebook.

Generation Xers, born between 1965 and 1981, are skeptical, self-reliant risk-takers who balance work and personal life, according to the APA. Well, that describes people I know of all ages.

Generational stereotypes remind me of the daily horoscope trick of writing words for one sign when they really could apply to any. Millennials need to feel their work has a higher purpose? Isn’t that a major Boomer trait?

We need to ask ourselves: Why do we seem to rush every 15 years or so into slapping condescending labels on a new generation? Is it just the age-old phenomenon of one generation observing differences in the next and blindly declaring them to be negatives? Is it because it all makes for a convenient hook for provocative articles?

How real are the qualities (or lack thereof) we ascribe to younger generations, and which are just the foibles of youth?

The bottom line is: It’s always wrong to pre-judge, whether an individual or an entire generation.

The whole discussion of millennials being “different” has gotten tiresome and silly. A Pew Research report in May put the number of millennials in the workforce at 53.5 million, with 52.7 million Gen Xers and 44.6 million boomers.

Millennials are now the largest group. Deal with it.

Kicking Off the KF Food & Fundraising Drive

By Shannon Campbell and Lauren Hillman

We’re proud to announce that Kulesa Faul has teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank to host our own KF Food & Fundraising Drive during the holidays! Our goal is to raise money as well as collect food in order to fight hunger in the local Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

The Second Harvest Food Bank is an amazing organization that has become one of the largest food banks in the nation, providing food to nearly a quarter of a million people each month. The Food Bank mobilizes individuals, companies, and community partners to connect people to the nutritious food they need. Second Harvest helps everyone, from the homeless to families in need.

The drive runs through now through Friday, Dec. 18. Our goal is to raise $600 and bring in 150 lbs of canned goods. There are two ways for you to get involved – you can drop by our office with canned goods, or you can visit our donation page and make a contribution there.

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Giving back is at the core of what we do and we’re thrilled to be working with such a great organization. To learn more about Second Harvest and how they’re helping our community, check out http://www.shfb.org/aboutus.

Happy Holidays!

10 Things You Might Have Missed in October 2015

By Kelly Ferguson and Katie Kerr

Many of us news junkies are all about the roundups — daily, weekly, monthly — because how great it is to have a tidy package of content that says, “out of all the information your brain has processed lately, here’s what was important and what you might have missed.” That roundup is there for you!

Here at Kulesa Faul, we do our own variation on this with a weekly culture wrap-up that we send around the agency every Friday afternoon. With contributions ranging from pop culture happenings and recipes, to scientific discoveries and funny videos, it’s a fun and lighthearted way for us all to stay relevant on what’s buzzing around the Internet.

Here are some good nuggets from our culture wrap-ups for the month of October that you might have missed:

1. Yes, sitting in your chair is killing you. Here’s what you need to do to stop it.

2. A new documentary from Alexandra Pelosi explores how the digital gold rush in San Francisco is reshaping the city into a tech paradise.

3. Gloria Steinem – writer, activist, and organizer – released a new book titled My Life on the Road, a candid account of her live as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change.

4. Get hyped for the release of the latest installment in the Star Wars saga with quirky Star Wars merch, including a Darth Vader shower head, Death Star ice cube trays, and more.

5. Why are old women so often cast as the villain in fairy tales and folklore?

6. The football hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. That’s about to change. The NFL is looking to a future where the football is connected – and undeflatable.

7. The most important thing happening in the world today is something you almost never read about – a stunning decline in poverty, illiteracy, and disease.

8. Babies do the darndest things. Here’s a short video of a baby fake crying to prank her dad while he tries to trim her fingernails.

9. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.

10. And incase you haven’t had your fill of Halloween yet – the 35 best horror movies of the decade so far.

 

 

10 Things That Drive Reporters Nuts

By Steve Eisenstadt

Being a reporter is one of the most exciting but nerve-wracking jobs in the world. With constant deadlines to meet and ever-heavier workloads and demands, reporter routinely makes Top 10 lists of the most stressful professions. (So does PR practitioner, but I digress.)

In our daily work with the media, we know that one of the best ways to make reporters happy is to avoid things that make them unhappy. Being aware of those pet peeves can go a long way toward earning reporters’ respect… and high-quality coverage.

So here, from a former business reporter who went to “the dark side,” are 10 “Dont’s” we advise our clients to steer clear of when working with reporters. In no particular order:

1. Don’t try to cram 20 points into an interview. Condense your messages to a fewer number of focused, well-honed messages, supported by facts. Otherwise, you risk overwhelming, confusing and/or frustrating the reporter and getting an unsatisfying story or no story at all.

2. Don’t speak too quickly. When you do, the reporter almost certainly will have trouble keeping up. Go slow – remember, he or she likely is typing or hand-writing notes.

3. Don’t forget to take pauses during interviews to ask if everything makes sense and if the reporter has any questions. It’s an interview, not a speech. Use a timer if it helps you remember to take a breath.

4. Don’t use clichés in interviews and press releases – e.g. “revolutionary,” “solution,” “time-to-value.” You may think these and certain other marketing buzzwords are swell, but they’re a turnoff to most reporters.

5. Don’t claim that your product has no competition. Since the world can count on one hand (with perhaps a finger or two chopped off in a Halloween pumpkin-carving accident) the number of times in the last 30 years where this is true, you just look silly and non-credible. Plus, the way reporters think, describing the competition (and your differentiators) actually can paint a market trend picture and increase your chances for good coverage.

6. Don’t put too many spokespeople on a call with a reporter. Because confusion. It almost always should be one executive.

7. Don’t go into an announcement or feature story without customer references, and the right kind of customer references (for example, a Fortune 500 company if that is what the reporter’s beat or publication demands).

8. Don’t use long-winded presentations. Those are for analysts, not reporters.

9. Don’t constantly tell a reporter “that’s a great question,” or at least do so sparingly. It can come across as obsequious and, anyway, asking great questions is the reporter’s job.

10. Don’t misjudge your audience. For example, if you’re talking to the New York Times, you shouldn’t be overly technical. Remember that a reporter at that level is thinking at all times, “How is this information interesting and relevant to my mainstream readers?”

Simply avoiding the things that drive reporters crazy can have a surprisingly direct impact on your coverage.

Three Tools to Help Shape Your Twitter Strategy

By Katie Kerr
More so than any other social media platform, Twitter is designed to inform and spread breaking news. Businesses can use Twitter to share information on services, gather real-time market intelligence, and build relationships with customers, partners, and influencers.

Here are three essential tools to help start and guide your Twitter strategy.

Keyhole
Keyhole.co provides you with real-time tracking of hashtags, keywords, and URLs. This is especially useful for tracking conversations around a conference, or major company announcement like a product launch or funding announcement. Reports are easy to digest and break down trends by demographic, region, key influencers, and more. See some example screenshots below tracking for #BackToTheFuture.

You can also purchase historical data through Keyhole to gain insight on how topics trended in the past.
top posts
topics

Twitter Analytics
Twitter has a complementary built-in analytics dashboard that can help you learn more about your audience and how tweets are resonating. The information provided can get quite granular – audience interests, audience gender, individual clicks on a hashtag within a tweet, impressions on a tweet, growth in overall Twitter followers, engagement rates, etc. Analytics are also available per an individual tweet, as you can see below.
tweet activity

Hootsuite
Hootsuite is a free social media management tool that offers everything from queuing to analytics. While there are more advanced paid plans available that offer features such as custom URLs and enhanced reporting, for a company just beginning to lay the framework for its social media strategy the free plan works just fine.

One of the most valuable features offered in Hootsuite is the ability to queue content in advance. This allows you to guarantee a steady stream of content throughout the week that is targeted to peak user hours without you needing to draft and schedule the content in real-time. As you can see in the example below, content can be scheduled far in advance, and across multiple social media platforms.
last graphic

Getting to Know Your KF Team: Becca Krumholz

Where are you from?
I grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin a small town outside Milwaukee. It’s also known as Chocolate City, USA because of the large Nestle chocolate factory located right on the edge of town. Others know it as “Tony Romo’s hometown”.

I went to college at University of Wisconsin-Madison studying strategic communication, while occasionally jumping around at Badger football games and eating anything cheese-related.

What got you interested in PR?
I became first interested in PR while watching the TV series Sex in the City. I thought Samantha’s job was so glamorous. However, I realized that’s not reality and became further interested in “real PR” after taking a PR course at UW-Madison’s Journalism School. I’m passionate about helping companies create their voice in the media and share their news with the right audience.

What’s your go-to source for news?
My go-to source for news would have to be the app, Flipboard. I’m slightly obsessed with it, as I like being able to personalize my newsfeed. It’s very user-friendly and has a stylish, yet efficient, interface. My non-work related news source would have to be BuzzFeed. A site that has news, dog pictures, relatable quizzes and an “LOL” section is my kind of site.

Favorite rainy day movie?
It depends on the season for me. But, I’d have to say my overall favorite rainy day movies are ones based in the Victorian-Era, something romantic and classic like Pride and Prejudice. I also enjoy rom-coms like Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Finish the sentence: On a Saturday afternoon, I am most likely…
Spending time outdoors, whether it’s hiking, bumming on the beach, or drinking a pint with friends at the local beer garden.

Becca is an assistant account executive at Kulesa Faul. Learn more about how she assists her teams here.

Rising Above the Noise at Tech Shows: Three Tips

By Angelique Faul

Looking down the barrel of another sold out AWS re:Invent this week in Las Vegas has me wondering: With the crazy growth of tradeshows, is it possible to rise above the noise?

Dreamforce, the big annual salesforce.com user conference, rolled through San Francisco in September, bringing with it 160,000+ attendees — a crowd so large that Salesforce needed to bring in a cruise ship in order to ensure enough lodging space for everyone. VMworld had a record attendance this year of 23,000. RSA brought in 33,000 this past spring. Oracle’s OpenWorld is expected to attract upward of 60,000, with 15 million people tuning in online. Crowds this big at tech shows are no longer an anomaly (okay, the “Dreamboat” is a bit of an anomaly). Tech shows and conferences are becoming more and more crowded, and in turn it’s becoming even harder for vendors to make an impact.

Whether it’s your very first show or you’re a seasoned conference-goer, here’s what you need to know to make the most of your conference experience.

When the free expo pass is the enemy
Conferences are not cheap. Securing a booth on the expo floor alone can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000 depending on the show. Even after this initial investment, there’s no guarantee you’ll have qualified leads visiting your booth. Shows with free expo passes in particular can create an unproductive environment with looky-loos eating up your time. My advice? Be as selective as possible when deciding which shows to attend. Smaller shows that are focused on users and technical sessions are a great investment, as are shows that tap into your verticals.

Get off the show floor
Every year during RSA, we partner up with Securosis to host the Disaster Recovery Breakfast. We rent out a restaurant nearby the venue and invite friends, clients and colleagues to take a break from the conference with drinks, food and conversations that don’t require shouting. Over the years, I’ve seen great success with my clients hosting similar offsite events such as a party or customer appreciation event during busy shows. By taking time away from the chaos of the expo floor, you’re able to create an environment that is intimate and facilitates meaningful conversation. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to sweeten the deal with a complimentary drink or free hor d’oeuvres.

Swag in all sizes
Hot new consumer tech like drones, 3D printers and Apple Watches are all the rage at booths these days. However, never underestimate the power of a quality t-shirt. Invest in good material, a fun design, or a cheeky slogan — make it a shirt people would want to wear out of the house.

With the right strategy, you can rise above the noise at conferences and make some of your own. You just have to be smart and creative about it.

Great Places to Work Start with Great People

By Robin Bulanti

We’re thrilled to have been named a Best Workplace for Women this week by Fortune Magazine, ranking #17 of the top 100 best workplaces for women across the country.

This might be the first time (maybe not the last!) you’ve seen Kulesa Faul listed alongside companies like Hyatt Hotels, LL Bean and Build-a-Bear.

Speaking of building, no one sets out to build a truly great workplace to pander for awards. It’s usually in the midst of building a company and team when something special starts to happen.

Our strategy is simple:

  1. Hire great people.
  2. Do great work.
  3. Build a great business.

(Bonus: Have a great time!)

For its Great Places to Work review, Fortune only considered companies “serious about creating a great workplace and comfortable with transparency.”

The Fortune Best Workplaces for Women nod follows our #7 ranking among the Best Places to Work in the Bay Area (small companies) by the San Francisco Business Times earlier this year.

When Kulesa Faul accepted that award, there was an opportunity to say five words or less onstage. Those words were, “Our people are everything.”

Both awards helped to highlight not only what makes this a great place to work for our team, but also what we’re looking for in our next “great” employee. See our Q&A with Fortune’s editors below:

What key characteristics tell you a prospective employee will be a great fit for your company?

We hire team players with a strong work ethic, great attitude and sense of humor – willing to work hard and have fun doing it! We like people with fresh ideas and initiative, who thrive in a team environment and have a desire to learn and grow with our business. If you value integrity, excellence, passion and relationships, then we might just be looking for you.

Are there any unusual or especially rigorous steps of your hiring process that candidates should be aware of?

Our hiring process is informal and certainly not rigorous when compared to others, but each detail and step along the way is important. We will be looking at how you communicate your personal brand. Be ready to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time. Know that every one of them matters and will have a say in your candidacy.

What should interested candidates do to find out more and get started?

Take time to learn about our business. Get to know us on Glassdoor, Twitter and Facebook. Then get started at http://kulesafaul.com/

In Sickness and in Stealth – Three Rules for a Company Launch

By Robin Bulanti

Building a lasting partnership in business can feel a lot like a marriage. Chemistry matters a lot, as does commitment, respect and trust. And like any relationship, there are going to be ups and downs.

One of the most rewarding PR-client relationships starts at the very beginning. There’s nothing I love more than getting in on the ground floor with a startup in stealth, rolling up the sleeves, and helping shape the story that will launch them into the public eye.

In the last year, we’ve had the opportunity to introduce four new companies to the world: Alation, Qumulo, Snowflake Computing and ZeroStack. It’s exciting to be on the inside so early with entrepreneurs who have been quietly building a team and product, and are ready to throw back the curtains. PR can provide crucial leverage for moving a company from stealth to center stage.

Here are three “rules” we’ve found along the way help to smooth the road to a successful company launch:

Allow for ramp time.
Can one plan and execute a successful launch in two weeks? Sure, but it’s much better built over six (or more) weeks. We have accomplished a kick*ss launch in 45 days, and cut a few corners to get it done in 10 (cringe). Companies should start looking for a PR partner 30-60 days out minimum, and build PR into their launch plan early. No launch plan? Read on!

Set deadlines – and responsibilities to meet them.
There are two things that can and will delay a launch – product readiness, and the website. There are other factors, of course, but in my experience, these two trip up timing the most. Perhaps the #1 most important thing to include in that early launch plan is a go/no go date. At that point, everyone agrees: no turning back.

Define what success looks like.
A solid and lasting partnership is built upon commitment. Everyone involved must be “all in” – meeting deadlines, commitments and deliverables. Trust, honesty, and agreement on end goals up front will be key to a successful launch and ongoing relationship. Always agree on objectives up front.

While playing a part in launching a company out of stealth can be stressful, sleepless and riddled with surprises, it’s an extremely rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Over the years, our team has launched dozens of new start-ups. And when the dust had settled, we celebrated with our clients by popping some bubbly at the launch party, delivering donuts on launch morning and high fives at midnight as a website (and the company) first went “live” to the world.

In the end, a launch is so much more than a singular event – it’s building a future for the company together.