Market Your Brand with Instagram Stories, Reels

Why are Instagram stories and reels important to your business marketing?

Instagram is booming with 2.9 billion visits per month. If you are a business, big or small, that is a whole bunch of visibility. When you combine these stats with the fact that video is an increasingly popular form of marketing amongst consumers, you have the perfect reason to try out those Instagram stories and reels just waiting for you on your homepage.

Why video?

An Instagram story is a vertical series of pictures or videos that disappear after 24 hours unless users choose to feature it at the top of their profile as a highlight. Consumers love a clever add, but stories provide them with something even more: a moving, living picture of your company. It is entertaining, dynamic and attention grabbing. Not only that, when your consumers watch a story reel, they are spending more time with your brand than they would if they simply scrolled past your static post. Brands capitalize on this feature to share with their target audience more about their products and services as well as other information related to their industry.

How do I dive in?

There are multitudes of Instagram story tutorials on the web, and most are free. We will let you dive into those on your own, while we take this blog time to focus more on what content to include in order to have a successful story campaign. As with any marketing strategy, knowing your goals and target audience are a solid place to start before heading into the realm of content. Once you have those figured out, next comes the best part: time to get creative.

Answer and ask questions

One fun way to engage your audience on Insta is to answer their questions about your product, ask new questions, or introduce a poll or quiz. This is also a great way for you to get to know your consumers with some well thought-out market research capabilities built right into your social media. Pretty genius right? Consumers these days seek out brands that not only provide a product or service they feel excited about, but also ones that will listen. Take your customer feedback on social media seriously, even if you present it in the form of a fun quiz or poll.


Whether you are launching a new product or have an upcoming event, you can use Instagram stories to promote interest from your target audience. Talk about your new product, have an unboxing video, include a countdown feature, and give some teasers so users get excited right along with you. This, combined with static posts, is a great way to grow engagement with your company’s new projects.


Have a coworker, influencer, customer, staff member or other account take over your stories for a day. Provide some fun for users and prove that your product is hot while you are at it. By having someone else take over, you will also create new content, kind of like a breath of fresh air for your followers.

Go live!

One fun part of engaging with Instagram stories on your company’s social media page is that you can go live and offer consumers a glimpse into your brand. How to videos, tutorials, etc. can make a big splash in numbers for your follower engagement. Going live is a great way to engage customers immediately and directly in the moment. Users will be able to see your live stream as an Instagram story if they miss the chance IRL.

If you are planning to get these ideas rolling, then make sure to also follow these tips:

  • Use hashtags
  • Stay authentic to yourself and your brand
  • Stay on top of new features as they become available
  • Use Insta highlights on your main page to provide more content to customers

Sometimes, it can be difficult to try something new or foreign, but once you get the hang of incorporating Insta Stories into your social media marketing strategy you will be glad you did. They can provide a wealth of opportunities for followers to interact with your brand, stimulating awareness of your business across this thriving social media platform.

Your Target Audience is the Bullseye of Your Marketing Strategy

How do you identify your target audience? “What does my customer/client look like?” should be the first question you ask as you zero in on your bullseye target audience.

It’s the P&A “22 in 22” social media tip No. 3! Once you have determined your goals and figured out how you would like to measure your progress, it is time to reach some real people. By that, we mean to skip out on buying fake Instagram followers and focus on reaching your target audience. These are the consumers who will interact with your brand to help you reach your SMART goals.

This may sound simple, but it can be a complex thing to wade through the field of customers out there who are ready and raring to eat up all that you have to offer. This blog isn’t about how to reach your target audience either (we will save that for next time), but instead how you figure out who your target audience is. It is an important step that is often missed by companies who launch into their social media strategies with gusto, wanting to cast as wide of a net as possible.

Who am I targeting?

A target audience is a group of people defined by certain demographics and behaviors. Understanding the target audience specific to your brand can help you to focus on crafting your unique message and branding to suit this population of people. For example, if you are selling specialty equipment for the aging population, you probably don’t want to target someone who is in their 20s and just moved out of their parent’s house.

You can start figuring out your target audience by brainstorming your ideal customer, getting as specific as possible about gender, age, education, type of work, income level, where they live, whether they have children and what their aspirations are as well as what they like to do in their free time. From there, you can begin to look for your ideal customer online. Which Facebook pages do they gravitate towards? What are their social media scrolling habits? Are they more likely to engage with posts involving humor or a sale? Who do they aspire to be like or identify with?

If you already have followers who you feel are part of your target audience, you can send an email survey campaign to get more information about their social media preferences as well as what drives them to purchase a product. This research will go a long way in making sure you are not casting too wide of a net, just hoping to grab the right people. Instead, you will be strategically planning your social media so that you know you are.

You can sell to everyone

An important idea to keep in mind is that you are simply looking for a target audience so that you can tailor your content, messaging and other parts of your social media strategy specifically toward those who will become customers. This will streamline all that you do relative to your social media marketing strategy. It doesn’t, however, mean that you can’t sell to those outside of your target audience. In fact, anyone who wants to can (and is more than welcome) to interact with your brand, right?

Marketing bullseye

Finding your ideal target audience is vital to the success of your social media marketing campaign, no matter your brand or business. Afterall, there is no point in having a huge number of followers if none of them will end up interacting with your brand with the intention of purchasing your product or service and helping you to achieve those SMART goals you have created.

Now, get to work brainstorming about your ideal customer, and we will meet back here next time to talk about how to reach this consumer in a way that will be impactful and create movement for your business. As a shameless plug, Pickett & Associates has a proven process for drilling down to identify your target audience. For more information, feel free to contact us!

The Power of Public Relations

While the power of public relations and the role played by the traditional media has shifted considerably in the last decade, PR still remains a useful and relevant tool for strategic communications.

When “old Miss Pat” ventured into marketing and public relations in 2005, it followed years spent as a reporter, editor and publisher. I’d wanted to write since I could hold a pencil. Journalism fulfilled that passion as well as my natural inclination for general nosiness … but it was not exactly a great career for a single lady with two teenage kids.

After 20-plus years covering city council meetings and elections, writing home and garden features, profiling local, regional and national folks of note and lastly covering Hamilton County businesses, I joined a local communications firm in 2005. I shall forever be grateful to them for taking a chance on this reporter. There were a couple of us there at the time, and we (sort of) laughingly referred to ourselves as “recovering journalists.”

While I wasn’t in the know on communication strategy (yet), I did know what made a good “pitch” and news release. And thus began a career that has served me well with a modicum of success.

Fast forward to 2022. Eleven years after launching my own “PR firm,” I’m now more inclined to refer to Pickett and Associates as a “strategic communications agency.” No longer is landing a segment on a news cast or capturing some column inches in the local paper our ultimate goal. As I came to learn during my preparation for my APR credential, those are “outputs.” As victorious as they might feel, what value do they really bring to a business or organization? Today our clients are looking for measured outcomes … whether that be driving sales and leads or building brand recognition. And there are so many ways to do that now in the digital sphere – social media, websites, targeting emails, etc. – that news releases are often overlooked.

Pickett and Associates continues to utilize the PR tactics of pitching stories to media outlets and writing and sending news releases as an important part of an overall communication strategy. First off, let’s define the difference between a “pitch” and a “news release.”

Pitch vs. News Release

A “pitch” is a personalized note to a reporter/editor/producer that relates a timely, interesting, or unique idea for an article/on-air segment that includes a business or organization. There are several nuances in a successful approach (including thinking holistically about what the audience might like to see and not just about your business), but the first and most important rule of thumb is to send this information to the correct person. Sending a pitch about technology to an education reporter will most likely result in the use of the “delete” button.

A news release is a fully drafted document – typically featuring the “who, what, when, where, why & how” in the lede paragraph. In general, a news release includes the most pertinent information about something important at an organization, ideally in 400 words or less; remove the fluff and pare down. A news release should also include a contact for more information and an “about us boilerplate.”

Ideally, a link to an electronic press kit/media room that resides on your website with company photos, logo, and general background information is included in every news release. (We will explore the elements of great online media rooms later this year.) If not, providing a link to a Google Drive or Dropbox with that downloadable content makes everyone’s life easier. Reporters/editors are looking for something visual to go along with a story. Sending a photo or video link increases the chances of the news release being used. Do NOT send an attachment. Ever. Likewise, do NOT send a PDF of the news release. Please. Begging you on behalf of editors everywhere.

While a pitch may also include a news release for background information purposes, they are not interchangeable and serve different purposes.

Pitches are used specifically to get a story placed that includes your business or organization. Period. (Pro tip No. 1: It is okay to email the recipient after a few days and ask if you can provide any additional information. This gives the journalist the opportunity to respond that they received it, are considering it (or not) and ask any questions. Pro tip No. 2: Do NOT call a reporter and asked if they received your email.)

When to Use a News Release

News releases should not be sent with the expectation that they will actually generate news; they rarely do (unless you are a large company, organization, municipality or public figure). News releases work when:

  • They are sent to trade/specialty media that are more likely to pick up industry news than a general circulation media outlet.
  • They are used for optimized content on a company website providing an SEO boost.
  • They are used as part of a social media content strategy.
  • They are used as communication to organizational stakeholders.
  • They display subject matter expertise.

Popular topics for news releases include:

  • Personnel changes and promotions
  • Company milestones
  • New products and/or services
  • Sharing news of awards or other accolades
  • Addressing an issue or company crisis
  • Sharing the results of a survey or other pertinent data generated by or about an organization
  • Announcing an upcoming event

A news release is different from drafting an article or column for a media outlet (a great tactic, but a different style of writing) or writing a blog. We’ll take a deeper dive into those topics in the future. In the meantime, consider using news releases as part of your overall communication strategy in 2022. And if you need help with the strategy or tactics like news releases, shoot me an email. I’d love to chat about how P&A can support your organization!

Social Media Tip #2: Don’t Skip the Metrics

If you are following along with our social media marketing strategies series, you know why setting SMART goals is an important first step to success. Now, you need a way to ensure that your goals are working for you in numbers. That means it is time to determine which metrics you will use to gauge your progress.

Many times, companies will be so excited to begin implementing their new social media strategy that they will forget how important it is to establish a way to measure progress. Sure, that picture of your new storefront got a ton of likes and the text of the post was all at once witty and informational, but how do you know if your target audience was the ones engaged?

Every brand or business needs to measure their growth and success differently. It will depend on your goals and what you are trying to achieve, another reason that goal setting needs to be the number one task above everything else. Trying to determine your growth without knowing what you are aiming for is like buying a round trip ticket using all of your life savings to a destination you don’t even know. Where will you end up? Will it be a tropical beach (Yes, please!) or a hippo-infested delta (I’ll pass)?

A word about vanity metrics

Vanity metrics, like how many followers you have, aren’t necessarily where you want to place your focus when measuring your success. It can be tempting to see the numbers of followers and likes rise and fall and think that a gain will equate to more business on your end. Not only that, it is easy to judge other brands by the number of the followers they have on their social media account. Followers and likes are becoming a less measurable way to determine success because companies can buy followers, which dilutes the number’s importance. In the long run, followers aren’t everything, and you will need to work harder than gaining more eyeballs if you want to see results.

So, what metrics should we target?

Every social media platform has its own native analytics for you to utilize in measuring the success of marketing your brand, including campaigns and other strategies. You will need to establish/move to a business account before you are able to use associated metrics. From there, the sky is the limit, again depending on your goals and what you are trying to achieve.

  • Engagement — This category includes likes, comments, shares and clicks. You can track engagement to find out how involved your target audience is in the conversations you are starting on social media. You can answer questions relating to how much your consumers are interacting with your social account and how often. This one metric is used often, but it may not give you the whole story, which is why you should combine it with looking to other metrics for signs you are reaching your goals.
  • Awareness — This metric involves both your impressions, or how many times a post shows up in someone’s timeline, and reach, the potential unique viewers a post could have. Both impressions and reach can tell you a lot about how visible you are on the social media platform.
  • Share of Voice — Volume and sentiment are included under this category, which indicates how much of the online sphere your brand is taking part in. If you are a pizza place, for example, how many consumers are looking at your restaurant as compared to others? This metric will help you to understand how you are reaching your goals of capturing more market attention.
  • ROI — Return on investment, like in other areas of business, questions what you are getting in return for the effort and money you are putting toward your social media. This is an incredibly important metric and includes both referrals and conversions. A referral is how a user lands on your website. Was it through your #linkinbio on Instagram, for example? Or did they find you via your Facebook events page? Conversions are a fancy word for a consumer purchasing something through your website. This is the whole point of many social media strategies, to increase purchases by the target market, so these metrics should be consistently checked to ensure your continued success on any social media platform.
  • Click Through Rate (CTR) — Along with referrals and conversions comes CTR, a handy way to measure how many times someone clicks on your link versus how many conversions you receive. A high CTR would mean you have run a very effective ad.
  • Customer Care — Response rate and time are important in your brand’s overall interaction with the target market. Consumers these days are looking for great customer experience and that doesn’t end when they leave your brick-and-mortar store or your web page. Use metrics like response rate and time to check how quickly your team is replying to the consumer.

We believe it is vital that we help our clients to see the progress they are gaining thanks to the implementation of their marketing strategy. Metrics, then, are our good friends. (Hey, look at our tagline! “Strategic Approach. Measurable Results.”) Identifying the correct metrics for your brand, based on the SMART goals you have established, will help you to easily see your progress and understand how your business is growing in relation to competitors in the social media stratosphere. When it comes down to it, a smart social media strategy is your way to win 2022.

Know the Hate to Spread the Love

When was the last time you saw a well-meaning public figure cluelessly spreading a message of hate or ignorance?

Have you taken a photo at a work event and posted it on social media only to notice someone is flashing some weird hand sign? And you  later discover it is considered a symbol of white supremacy?

As public relations professionals, we find it incredibly important to have our fingers on the pulse of our our world when it comes to the ever-changing dynamic of talking about suppressed or misrepresented groups as well as “trending” symbols of hate.

Is loving your fellow human too much to ask?

Thanks to the internet and a variety of social media platforms, our world now feels smaller than ever. The need to find ways in which to co-exist has never been more important. As humans who display a dizzying myriad of personality traits, dispositions, beliefs, orientations, and abilities, we are going to have to do some really hard work to share what is feeling like a smaller and smaller planet.

“I didn’t know” is not an excuse

If you are managing communications – and particularly social media accounts  –  for your business or organization, it is profoundly important to educate yourself about the unseemly side of culture. From mildly embarrassing double entendre (like a headline reading “Debutantes Rest Between Two Big Balls” … true story) to cringe-worthy racial gaffes to the absolutely-not-funny symbols of racism. When it comes to your company/organization’s communication and reputation, being naïve just doesn’t cut it as an excuse.

Education is key. That same internet that is fraught with hate and vitriol also contains valuable information that allows individuals to educate themselves and ultimately STOP the hate.

Tools to Stop the Hate

For instance, the Anti-Defamation League has a compiled a Hate on Display™ Hate Symbols Database that literally has photos and descriptions of hundreds of symbols used by hate groups. A review of general knowledge and a note on the social media checklist to “scan crowds” will go a long way to prevent an embarrassment.

Last year, we wrote “Words Matter: Putting People First” addressing the importance of “people first language.” According to the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), “Rather than defining people primarily by their disability, people-first language conveys respect by emphasizing the fact that people with disabilities are first and foremost just that—people.” (Check out that blog for a handy infographic!)  It seems that this approach can cover many areas of difference because, at the end of the day, we are all people.

It is important to understand how to interact in ways that embrace our differences while allowing everyone to feel seen and respected. Exploring different ethnicities and cultures while initiating open, honest dialogue is key. You can find more about language and how to refer to people of varying ethnicities in a respectful and appropriate way here.

Likewise, sexuality and identity have risen to the forefront of our culture. While your beliefs may be different from someone else’s, in the words of Marlo Thomas, “We’re Free to Be You and Me.” You can find lots of ways to create a more inclusive workplace by checking out this guide.

Finding Common Ground

 “As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has- or ever will have- something inside that is unique to all time.” -Fred Rogers

In her book Braving the Wilderness, author, professor. and lecturer Brene Brown talks about changing your perspective when dealing with others who are different from yourself. She believes that many times we get caught up in this world of news stories, social media posts and the fake personas they create, when in reality, we are all just people. When we zoom in and see people who, just like us, have good days and bad, care about their loved ones and are looking for meaning in their life, rather than someone on the news we can’t find common ground with, it changes how we think about that person. We can use ideas like this when trying to be inclusive with others who have different backgrounds and experiences of life than we ourselves do.

The tricky part for some people, it seems, is holding both truths that we are all people AND we all have different experiences of life. In trying to remember that we are all similar in many ways, it is also important to understand and celebrate our differences

As PR professionals, we often find ourselves dealing with missteps and mistakes as folks navigate inclusive language. That is one level of messaging and sometimes crisis management. Going deeper, it’s difficult for most of us to comprehend the level of hate that comes with white supremacy. But it is on the increase, and as communications professionals, it’s our job to ensure it receives as little oxygen as possible to fan the flames.  We must be vigilant in creating a world in which everyone feels accepted and loved.

This Valentine’s Day, take some time to educate yourself using our links and guides above so that you can spread the love far and wide.


Social Media Tip No. 1: Get SMART

We told you we would be bringing some goods to the table in 2022, and we never back out on a promise. If you are trying to outperform your competition and grow your social media marketing strategy this year, your first step is to set some SMART goals.

Although we wish we would have been the ones to invent this amazing concept, it is simply a tried-and-true series of tactics all rolled up into a great acronym to ensure your goals will be more effective.  SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

What does this have to do with social media?

What many businesses do, when it comes to social media strategy, is start posting, hope for the best and change directions whenever they feel a nudge. Although this is a great option when you are sailing a boat, it doesn’t necessarily work in our modern-day ocean of consumers. To successfully make use of the myriad of social media platforms and all the exposure they offer, you need to set relevant and realistic marketing goals. These goals should fit seamlessly into your overarching business strategy so that your consumers are not confused about your message, no matter if they are checking their Instagram, looking directly at your website, or speaking to a customer service representative.

Let’s break it down so you can better understand how to make your SMART goals work for your business’s overall strategy.


Here is where you get honest with yourself about what you want to see happen in 2022. Do you want to increase your presence on social media by gaining a certain number of followers? Do you want to achieve more sales and would like to use social media to advertise and market your brand? Make sure you are specific so that at the end of the year you can see, without a doubt, whether you have achieved or missed these goals. Being specific will also take the guesswork out of your strategy when it comes to marketing your business.


While you are creating your specific goals you should try to make them measurable by including numbers, figures and facts. Do you want to gain followers on Instagram? Give a ballpark figure so you can measure your company’s progress as the year evolves. Would you like a certain portion of your sales to come from your website versus in-store? Write down the numbers. Are you in need of more fundraising for your non-profit? Speak to your board about a specific dollar amount that you and your volunteers or employees can aim to produce in 2022. Once you have the numbers, you will feel even more empowered to get your marketing strategy up and running.


When you are creating your goals, try to keep your feet on the ground. Setting unrealistic goals will only provide you with a dose of unnecessary failure and could possibly contribute to wasted resources. If you are hoping to grow followers for your social media accounts, for example, don’t set your sights on one million people if a more realistic number for your might be 100,000. Consider this letter of the SMART acronym to be a serious reality check.


When it comes to social media, it can feel overwhelming to think of the sheer number of consumers out there ready and waiting to discover your brand. Not only that, but the number of platforms also continues to grow and trying to keep up with all of them can create confusion and dilute your message. Instead of trying to cast the largest net you can into the metaphoric ocean, try to focus on the target audiences, platforms and messages that will be relevant to your company. Your goals should reflect your overarching marketing strategy so they have staying power when it comes to the inevitable changes your business may endure this year.


Work hard to achieve your strategical social media goals but give yourself an end date. Whether it is six months from now or the end of 2022, knowing that you have a finite amount of time can help you to work harder toward achieving the SMART goals you set for yourself. Social media is an ever-changing landscape, so it is incredibly important to take breaks between goal setting to get a handle on what is working and what is not.

SMART goals aren’t just a good template for devising social media marketing strategies, they also help you and your team to remain focused so that you are delivering a clear and concise message across all outlets. Consumers today are inundated with more information than ever. They also have more choices when it comes to spending their money or time. If you want to make an impact (and achieve those SMART goals!), you need to ensure that there is no confusion when it comes to your brand’s story, message, purpose, and overall strategy.

Instagram: What’s All the Fuss About #LinkInBio?

One of our favorite platforms to use to increase our client’s visibility to potential and current target audiences is Instagram. Not too long ago, it was just another new social media outlet.  Since partnering with Facebook, Instagram has become the 7th most visited website in the world and boasts a whopping 2.9 billion total visits per month. That is the type of exposure we just can’t let our clients pass up.

It’s a jungle out there

Surviving Instagram, just like trekking through a dense forest, comes with various tricks of the trade and almost always a bit of troubleshooting. You may have noticed, for instance, that many accounts use the term “link in bio” at the end of their post’s text. Instagram doesn’t allow links to be published directly into the text of a post, but, instead, has the user paste one (and only one) link directly into their profile. This may not matter for the personal user who is posting pictures of Friday’s get together with friends or their one-year old’s birthday party, but it matters a lot of you are a business trying to direct consumers to your website.

Most businesses will put their website address in their profile, which is helpful for customers who see something they like and want to get to a shop or site quickly. That way, they can use the hashtag #linkinbio or simply let wondering eyes know to click on the link in their profile. Our client, Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County, for instance, had their website linked in their profile so volunteers, donors and those in need could easily find their way with just one click.

Gimme more, gimme more

The problem comes, however, when you are trying to make your social content feel more robust by including industry articles, blogs, event links and more. Let’s take the same client, Meals on Wheels, who has multiple fundraising events and ticket sales throughout the year as well as newsletters, press releases and information they need to disseminate to streamline their marketing strategy and increase community engagement. How do they put all these links into their bio?

There are a many different companies out there who are vying to solve the dilemma of Instagram’s measly one-link-in-bio problem. One of the first companies was Linktree. With this handy service, you get one link to add to your Instagram account, but it leads to a page full of curated links chosen by you to round out your social media content. Our client, Meals on Wheels, can post links for tickets to multiple events, specific pages from their website for donations or volunteer applications, web addresses to press releases and even article or recipe shares. Other companies have tried, and succeeded in, creating something similar to Linktree, with the top sites being Shorby, Pallyy, and Shortstack, among others.

Use it or lose it

So, all of this to say, you should use that link in your bio to its fullest advantage. If you are wondering why this is so important, just think of it as ensuring that the many eyeballs that land on your Instagram post will have an easier way to get to your website and beyond. Consumers are all about time efficiency and ease of use these days, and if you don’t have your link right there, chances are they may not explore what you have to offer. If you don’t use your link in bio the right way, you might end up losing business.

You see, the thing is, your competition is on Instagram too. Regardless of how unique your brand is, chances are there is someone out there doing the same thing. We live in a highly virtual world where everyone is seeking exposure, so potential customers are faced with multiple options at every click or swipe. Many times, Instagram users will opt out on choosing a business that doesn’t offer an easy road to its website.

Use that link in bio to direct your customers exactly where you want them to go. Then, go one step further by creating an account with one of the many companies launching platforms to host pages containing multiple links. This way, Instagram becomes just a jumping off point for your consumers to explore all the ins and outs of your brand and business.



Strategic Social Media Marketing for Success in 2022

Strategic social media marketing means more than a weekly post to a random social media platform. And thus, actual measured success associated with social media is beyond that simplistic approach as well.  Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay. As the number of outlets grows, it is important to understand how to best use this tool for your company brand’s benefit. ‘Tis the time for some strategy.

LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter … Whatever it Takes

After 11 years of manning social media for businesses, non-profit organizations and municipalities, Pickett and Associates has seen its share of “willy-nilly-post-and-hope” social media, with little or no strategy attached. You know how it works – there’s a revelation (often prompted by the competition) that you should be doing something, and the youngest person in the office is charged with doing it. They try their best (or don’t), set up accounts and passwords, and the leave without sharing that information. Then, the task is assigned to the next person … rinse and repeat until it’s deemed “disappointing, useless and unproductive.”

This pattern throws away a prime (and simple) opportunity to reach a target audience and make a meaningful impact on the growth of your business. With a strategic approach (and measurable result!), social media is one of the best tools to reach new consumers, grow brand awareness and get your name out into the stratosphere of the internet.

Social media, when managed properly, has great results for many businesses.  Even more appealing: small businesses can use it just as efficiently as larger companies. Think of it as a level playing field where consumers are hoping to hear something personal from a brand they love or want to get to know. Online dating has become a huge new platform for testing out relationships, so just think of your social media as a great way for potential consumers to date your brand and see what they think.

Let’s Get Strategical, Strategical …

With a nod to Olivia Newton John … if you want to capture the attention of your consumer base, you will need to rely on something more strategic than a “post and hope” approach. This is where social media experts like Pickett and Associates come to the party. Along with all the other communication and marketing goodies we offer our clients, about 70 % of our work falls into the strategic content and social media realm. That translates into achieving your measurable objectives (driving a defined number or percentage of leads, increasing sales or improving donor engagement) while supporting your brand messaging and engages audiences.

So, how do we do this? We have some hot tips headed your way. Starting next month and throughout 2022, we will be sharing 20 steps to a solid social media strategy. Our first two tips coming up in February include establishing realistic social media marketing goals and understanding the metrics that determine success. You see what we did there? We have our own social media strategy, and we are looking forward to sharing with you how we have helped other companies find success measurable success.

Interning Amid a Pandemic


Insights from a Pandemic-Era Intern

After enduring nearly two years of a global pandemic, I have been very fortunate to have had three very different internship experiences. At the start of the pandemic, I worked as a Marketing and Leadership Intern at Cleveland Angels, a nonprofit that supports families and youth impacted by the foster care system. The second summer of the pandemic, I earned a position at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as their Digital Marketing intern, where I helped create engaging digital content that amassed thousands of views and interactions. Now, I am here at Pickett&Associates where I am gaining a new perspective on communication and public relations while working with clients like the City of Greenfield and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. 

I have learned so much about myself and the world around me during each of these internships, but I’m not going to lie to you. Interning during a global pandemic can be very challenging. That is why I want to

Intern Erin Mast working on behind-the-scenes social media during a performance of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

share with you what I have learned in hopes that if you are about to start a new internship (or introduce someone to an internship at your company), you can be prepared to do your best and gain as much as you can from your experience, like I did.

Take advantage of opportunities — even the unexpected ones

Before any of us knew the world was going to shut down, I had an amazing internship lined up at the Wintergreen Music Festival in Virginia. As an Arts Administration major, it was everything I was looking for in an internship. By the end of our spring semester though, everyone had been sent home and the festival, and my internship, were canceled with no reprise in sight. I was now stuck in Cleveland for the summer during a global pandemic with nothing to do – or so I thought. That is when I stumbled upon Cleveland Angels and applied to their internship program as a last resort option. After a brief interview, I was offered an internship position and quickly got to work learning everything I could about the foster care system. I can not stress how critical this internship became to my development as a nonprofit administrator and marketing professional. I learned so much in that one summer and developed a passion for helping families and youth impacted by the foster care system. At the end of the summer, the Executive Director even asked me to stay on part-time as their Social Media Manager — which I did until May of 2021. What started as a last-ditch attempt to do something during the summer became a pivotal experience to who I am today.

All of that being said, there are many internship programs that have yet to return after the world shut down. Maybe one of those internships was your dream position a few years ago, but the world is different now and I strongly encourage you to pursue new opportunities and internship positions that you might not have considered before. You never know what you will learn about yourself and where you want to go in life by saying yes to trying something new.

Organization is going to be your best friend

Many internship programs that have resumed don’t look exactly the same as they did before the pandemic. Many of them are still virtual, while some are operating in a hybrid format. While interning at The Children’s Museum, I would go in to the office once or twice a week to gather content and meet with my advisor, but much of my work and meetings were done virtually from my home. Working virtually has taught me that it is crucial to find an organization method that works for you. Whether that is an online task tracker where you can check things off as you go, or a traditional pen and paper checklist, it is really important to keep your thoughts and projects in order because you probably won’t have as many people checking in on you to make sure you are getting things done.

Make the extra effort to connect

One of the most important aspects of doing an internship is networking. It is your opportunity to quickly meet a lot of people who understand the career you are wanting to pursue and know how to help you get where you want to go. That being said, networking in a virtual work environment is hard. I have found there are a few ways to make sure you are still connecting with your new colleagues and learning as much as you can from them during your internship.

First, I suggest individually reaching out to people in the company who you are interested in learning from. More often than not, people are very willing to connect with interns and give them tips for how to succeed in their internship and career. Setting up a quick 15 minute video call is a great way to get your name and face out there and make a strong impression. I have also found that it is really important to stay connected with the people you regularly work with during your internship. This is where you need to learn how your colleagues best communicate. Do they primarily converse over email, text, or maybe an online messaging platform like Slack? By learning their preferred communication methods and patterns, you can better stay in the loop and show you are eager to learn and be a valuable part of the team.

Consider keeping a journal

A final piece of advice that was imparted upon me by one of my professors is to keep some sort of journal during your internship. This journal could be made up of handwritten entries every day, typed notes after notable events, or even quick thoughts jotted down in your phone. What matters is you have something to track your personal progress and thoughts as you advance through your internship. Internships are great for learning and refining industry-specific skills, but they are also meant to help you learn about yourself. For example, you might learn that you like working for small organizations as opposed to a large corporation you interned with during a previous semester. Or you might figure out that your preferred communication style is chatting in person with your colleagues instead of catching up through email. Writing these thoughts down as they come can serve as a very useful tool later on when you are looking for your next internship or even your first job.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect internship, especially in a post-pandemic world where businesses and organizations are still trying to overcome their own challenges and hurdles. If you can enter an internship with an open mind and strong intentions to learn though, you have a huge potential to significantly grow as a professional and as a person. Go find your next internship with confidence; there’s no limits to what you can accomplish.


Top Holiday Arts Events in Indy You Won’t Want to Miss

Our list of the top holiday arts events is a  bit of a gift from P&A to you! Now that we are (hopefully) winding down with work and getting ready to jingle all the way (because no one likes a half-assed jingler, according to a favorite tea towel), let’s get out there and make merry! After missing last year’s holiday traditions, we are thrilled to see the return of these events. Please, we urge you, wear your masks inside, and remember to check the venue’s website for other COVID protocols!

Yuletide with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra: Thru December 23

If there is something as wonderful as the smells of the holiday season, we would have to argue that the sounds are just as delightful. The ISO’s annual holiday extravaganza features holiday music “brought to life with Broadway-style showstoppers, the famous tap-dancing Santas, and more!” The show will once again feature the Grammy-award winning singer, Sandi Patty, and this year the ISO welcomes the addition of T.3, a trio of tenors who are competed this fall on America’s Got Talent. Tickets remain available, especially next week as families countdown to December 25. Added bonus: The “world’s largest Christmas tree,” aka the decked out downtown Circle.

An En Pointe Christmas: December 17 – 18

If the power of dance is more what gets you into the holiday spirit, we recommend attending En Pointe Indiana Ballet’s holiday show, An En Pointe Christmas. The show will feature classical ballet repertoire in the first act and once the curtains rise on the second act, be prepared to be dazzled by exciting contemporary jazz routines set to classic Christmas tunes. The show will run December 17-18 at Noblesville High School Auditorium so make sure you put this must see show in your calendar.

Newfield’s Winterlights: Thru January 2

There is something magical about gazing out a an array of Christmas lights, especially when there are a staggering 1.5 million of them. This winter season, Newfields (formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art) promises to dazzle you and your family with a walk through a winter wonderland set outside in their sprawling gardens. They also offer warm and delicious treats that will bring a smile to any set of rosy cheeks. The magic begins on November 22, so reserve your spot soon.

The Indianapolis Repertory Theatre’s A Christmas Carol: Thru December 26

Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is a story many of us know well, but to see it played live on stage is a gift all in itself. As the weather turns cold and dreary, taking to the warm and cozy seats of the theatre is the perfect way to warm the soul. An additional tip from us is if you want to experience an extra magical show, buy your tickets near the front of the theatre and you might just get to experience a white Christmas inside.

Jolly Days at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: Thru January 3

If you and your family are looking to experience the holidays in a way that is fun and interactive for children (and adults) of all ages, we suggest making a trip to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for their annual Jolly Days Winter Wonderland exhibit. Laughter and joy is guaranteed as you glide around the ice rink, where your socks will work like shiny ice skates. Or explore the Ice Castle and meet extraordinary Jolly Day characters. We’ve even heard that a certain man in red might be making an appearance to find out what the good girls and boys of Indianapolis want for Christmas this year. So head over to the Children’s Museum and make holiday memories that you will cherish forever.

Indianapolis Art Center’s Winter Art Sale

Since it is the season of giving, attending the Indianapolis Art Center’s Winter Art Sale is a great way to find a treasure that will allow you to give the gift of art to someone special in your life. It is yet to be determined if the event will be hosted in person this year or through their online marketplace, but either way we are sure you will be able to find something that speaks to the joy of the holiday season.

The Indianapolis Children’s Choir presents Comfort and Joy: December 17 – 19

What better way is there to ring in the holidays than with the angelic voices of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir? With four nights of concerts sung by the different levels of choirs, there is no bad option if you are looking for good music. The concerts will take place in the historic Second Presbyterian Church, as well as being livestreamed so you can experience the comfort and joy of music without leaving the comfort of your home.

Elf the Musical at the Carmel Civic Theatre: Thru December 24

If you have not had the chance to see the Broadway version of the beloved Christmas movie, Elf, we highly recommend you head over to the Carmel Civic Theatre this winter. The charming story has been transformed with catchy songs and cheery costumes that will make the entire family want to spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear!

There is so much to see and do during the holiday season, especially within the world of the arts. We hope this list will help you find the perfect event for you and your family and will bring holiday joy and memories to last for many years to come.