EPIC HLK SHOWDOWN: Practice Pitch Vs. Final Pitch

After two weeks of preparing, planning, and some sweat (no tears) we thought we had a campaign strategy that was gold. When it came time for us to make our first practice pitch to our mentors we walked in like:

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We went through the slides of our presentation with confidence in our ability to make it through that first round of pitching. After we were done, our mentors asked us a ton of questions and helped us by giving feedback on where the holes were within our campaign. It became extremely evident that we still had a lot of work cut out for us and only one more week to figure it out. But as the great Aaliyah once said:

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So we hit the drawing board again with brainstorming sessions, making alterations to the presentation, incorporating more research, and expanding on certain parts that definitely needed it. We discussed everything from what we should say on each slide to how we should present this information to our audience. (NOTE: If you’re curious about advice on presentation skills scroll down to Lauren House’s blog called “Improv and Public Speaking: A Beautiful Pair”.

Before we knew it, the day was here for round two: to make our final presentation. We knew we were going to need to bring the heat if we were going to do better for this second round. The last thing we wanted to be in front of the 30+ HLK employees and a visiting Ad Club was this:

To keep us on our feet, we just reminded ourselves that we knew this stuff! We’ll do great. As the cat said:

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Shortly after, the lights dimmed, people’s voices quieted, and it was time to begin. With our hearts pounding in our chests we kept it cool, we played off each other when needed, we kept the energy high, and we did not throw up mom’s spaghetti. (Thanks Eminem!) Even when the audience was asking us questions, we didn’t hesitate. We stayed focused and did what we could to answer everyone. In the end, we were met with a lot of support and encouraging words, which made us feel like:

The following week I asked each of the interns about how they felt starting from the practice pitch and leading into the final pitch. These were a few things that they shared:

Torie: “I thought we had it figured out, but as we went through the practice pitch I realized that we needed to step up our delivery. I’m glad we had this first. Had we not had this first, then our final pitch would have been our practice pitch and it wouldn’t have been as great.”

 Nijaz: “The feedback that we got from the practice pitch definitely helped a lot.”

 Kristen: “Our mentors definitely gave us insights that were helpful. I felt as if our campaign’s story was not yet 100% consistent with strategy during the practice pitch, and their feedback helped direct our line of thinking toward making the final deliverables more cohesive.”

 For the next interns, as you move through the process keep these thoughts in mind and if you need a motivational song to keep you moving here’s a little throwback you could listen to:

OMG! Let Me Tell You About These Experiences!


There’s nothing like the wisdom of Stephen Colbert who has a knack of summing up what we all are thinking. Only two weeks have passed, yet the experiences we have been a part of have been nothing like any of us could have imagined; it has been so much more, kicking off a beginning that I can only describe as educational, fun, and filled with plenty of OMG moments. We’re talking about things you just can’t get in a typical classroom environment! Here’s some OMG experiences that the other interns have shared so far:

 The Commercial Shoots

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I’m not talking about a bunch of people sitting around thinking about a cool advertising commercial that a brand can use. I’m talking about actually going to the commercial shoot itself and getting a behind-the-scenes look on how an advertising agency makes this happen. Nijaz and Kristen both had this incredible opportunity, and the things they saw changed them forever… in a good way.

They got an up-close view on commercial storyboards, the length of time it takes to make a commercial, how much it can cost to create a professional-made commercial (in case you’re wondering… it’s A LOT), and how they create some really awesome special effects, such as a “fake” storm. When asked what they learned, Nijaz chimed in saying, “It doesn’t matter what the location looks like, as long as the camera and equipment used is high quality.” He went on about how a location could look like your typical park, but if you use the right equipment, it can be turned into something fantastic. I got two words for this: movie magic!

A Lunch That Gives You Insider Information

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One of the cool things that HLK does is arrange for you to have lunch with your mentor. Awesome, right? The directions that the conversations could go in are endless, kind of like the bottomless fry option at Red Robins.

In Mikayla’s case, she managed to get some inside knowledge on what’s new within the development world over some delicious pizza. She learned things like the types of tools that the industry uses all the way to tutorials on a JavaScript module bundler called Webpack. She then went on to say, “While you may have no idea what I'm talking about, as an aspiring developer, I loved it!” She was right: I had no idea what she was talking about, but it sounded pretty epic!

 

Photoshoots Which Bring Concepts To Life

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As our little group was walking together trying not to get lost, Erica Lippitt, one of the content managers at HLK, approached us to see if we would like to watch her do a photoshoot. We all awkwardly jumped at the opportunity, not sure what we were about to witness. With just a few twists and turns down the corridors, we eventually stopped at a long, brown table with a bunch of miscellaneous items spread about.

Erica went on to explain how she was going to use her photography background to take photos of these items for one of HLK’s clients. The concept was to take some photos of a do-it-yourself activity and then place this on their client’s social media sites to bring awareness of their products in a unique way. Next thing we knew, we’re all huddled around the table as Erica used her Canon camera and brought this concept to life.

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It was fascinating to see how a content idea might get created for a client’s social media posts!

When The Animal Shelter Visits?

HLK allows employees to bring their dogs to work, so it’s not unusual to see dogs everywhere. However, what happens when HLK decides to bring an entire animal shelter to the workplace? This is something that Zac found out as he followed the sounds of barking and meowing that was coming from the main floor.

At first, he was only planning on staying for a moment with the animals just to see what was going on. Next thing he knew, he’s making friends with an elderly, mixed Collie who kept licking him all over his face and, as he put it, “was very cozy.” After his visit with his newfound friend, his spirits were rejuvenated and he was ready to tackle work once more, showing us that even playing with animals can have beneficial effects on our work!

There you have it! Four OMG experiences filled with excitement, learning and dogs. What more could you ask for from an incredible internship?

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You said it baby!

 

Making the Band: Infinite Velocity

As Meredith Osborn mentioned during our first brainstorming session, "The team name is the hardest part.” She was not wrong! For the first few days, we were all over the map with ideas from Vicodin Withdrawal to Fusion to Creative Cosmos and many more. As we were trying to figure out what to call ourselves, we soon learned that Zac not only is a mean copywriter, but he can also strum out some epic tunes on the guitar.

Meanwhile, Kristen is able to bring the heat by adding piano to our sound, all the while pumping out some incredible strategies for our campaigns.

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Nijaz chimed in about how he can play the drums (sort of) — at the very least he says he can keep a beat with his hands, which works for us. Using those same hands he’s able to develop some truly rock-star graphics as our Art Director.

Then there’s me, Sara, who has been singing and writing song lyrics most of her life, which translates into my ability to develop some interesting content.

It didn't take long before the jokes about starting a band sponsored by HLK began rolling out. Next thing we know, Torie was stepping up to expand outside of her Account Manager position to be our band manager as well.

Maariya decided to use her skills as our Media Strategist and become our event coordinator. This way, we can find the best places to perform that will reach the most people.  

Finally, Mikayla offered to use her mad Developer skills and help us design our website... or be our groupie. We would have been happy with either choice.

Then we proceeded to take this idea a step further and define our musical category by mashing together a bunch of random genres that normally wouldn't mix.  

Without further ado, I present to you the newest HLK interns and upcoming psychedelic-country-soul band: Infinite Velocity.  

To us, Infinite Velocity isn't just a really awesome band name destined to reach the top of the music charts: it sums up our goals for the Launchpad internship as we strive to create a different type of number 1 hit. For example, while we work on our two campaign projects, we're keeping a couple of things in mind:

  1. We want to capture something that will be long-lasting (infinite) and innovative.
  2. We're going to have to work at the speed of light (velocity) since we only have three weeks per project to put everything together.

We're all extremely excited about these projects and are grateful to the HLK employees who have been and will be guiding us along the way. We're also very grateful to those who have been helping point us in the correct direction when we get lost. If you see any of us, feel free to reach out and say hi, ask for an autograph, or just hang out. We love meeting new people and are happy to be a part of the HLK team!   

A Dauntless Farewell

As our time at HLK comes to a close, I must say: it’s been a blast. Our last week proved that fact, as HLK hosted the Office Olympics during lunch break. Every day during lunch we’ve been playing Minute to Win It”-type games, such as eating a donut off a hanging string without using our hands, or sucking a cup of pudding up through a straw. Each department acts as their own country, and needless to say, it’s beens hysterical.

In this event, one partner covered his or her face in shaving cream, while the other partner tossed cheese balls at them. The team with the most cheese balls stuck to their face won. It. Was. Hilarious. But aside from all the fun, we interns learned a lot within our short time at HLK, and each team member has a bit of knowledge to share.

 

I gave each intern the prompt:

What was your favorite part about the internship/HLK? Do you have any tips for future (design, strategy, media, copy, account, research, content) interns?

Here are our responses:

Courtney (Art Director):

Being able to collaborate with a team on huge campaign projects helped me understand that I can't wait to work on more projects that are bigger than myself. It was inspiring to be able to work with brilliant team members in different positions that all functioned together in order to create something innovative. My time at HLK taught me to think big, work hard, and have fun as a team during every step of the process. From an Art Director perspective, never be afraid to reach out to different departments in creative and video production to learn new skills and expand your design thinking.  

 

Meagan R (Strategist):

My favorite part about my experience with launchpad at HLK was seeing first hand the effect that each role has in the outcome of a project. I loved collaborating with my fellow interns and learning from all of our mentors.

One suggestion I have for future strategy interns is to make sure the strategic plan is always airtight at the beginning of the project, so that everything else will run smoothly and there won't be confusion later.

 

Caroline (Media) :

My favorite part about HLK is the positive, energetic atmosphere and friendly people. I love being able to work as a team on projects for real clients and learn about all the different departments that make up the agency. A tip for the future media intern is to have your mentor walk you through targeting on Facebook and show you examples of boosted posts. This will give you a better understanding of your role for your projects.

 

Jenna (Copywriter):

Here at HLK I've learned many things. First of which is, the snacks in the glass jars change almost daily. DAILY. And they are always unique and delicious. Second, and more seriously, you have to fight for your ideas. No one will love them or understand them as much as you do. Explain them clearly. Be passionate. Adapt them to the strategy. Ideas and people are what fuel the ad world and you have to be willing to fight for innovation and new ideas. Third, the advertising industry is basically one huge team sport. There can be conflict, team spirit, pride, failure, celebration and most importantly, growth. Just remember to be curious, thoughtful and brave.

 

Meghan G (Account Manager):

My favorite part of the internship was working with the other interns to brainstorm and come up with solutions for each of our projects. It was awesome to see all the inventive ideas we came up with together.

One tip for the future Account intern would be to always have communication with all members of the team and encourage every member to work together as one strong unit. Teamwork is definitely the key to success with each project you are given during the internship.

 

George (Research/Analytics):

Is this not the coolest place to work as an intern when you literally are in control of working space/location? You have flexibility, but use it wisely. Time management of research is crucial. Stay ahead of the team, stay on your timeline, be prepared for the work that is asked, and execute as needed. Crunch time can be intense as the pressure builds. Just make sure you stay on track and you’ll be fine . Lastly, try taking a walk during lunch. This is sure to free up that hard drive space in your head.

 

Lauren-Me (Content Manager):

My favorite part about the internship/HLK is the sheer creativity opportunity. We were all privileged to be a part of this incredible atmosphere where creativity bursts from each individual I have come in contact with. This is a key factor is the brainstorming process, and allowed our team to think big.

My advice for a future Content Manager Intern would be to set up a weekly meeting with your mentor to talk about your project and the blog. You should also stalk the blog as far back as your mental capacity allows to get an idea of how it was at the beginning vs. now and get an insider’s view on HLK. Lastly, for your projects, use http://adparlor.com/ad-mockups/. It ensures mockups look professional and realistic so the client knows what you’re getting at.

 

Whoever is next on this journey, please know you were chosen for a reason and that you’re going to do great. Everyone at HLK is encouraging and thoughtful, so there is no need to fret. My favorite quote a mentor said to us on our first day was “when I get stressed out, I always remind myself that in the agency world, it isn’t brain surgery and no one is going to die.” Any time I was overwhelmed, I just reminded myself of this, and *phew* no one died.

With that, Dauntless bids you adieu. Be curious. Be thoughtful. Be brave.

--Lauren

 

Improv and Public Speaking- A Beautiful Pair

Your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on your sweater already, mom’s spaghetti, you’re nervous but on the surface you look calm and ready

-Eminem

The intern anthem before a presentation right? Not anymore! Essentially, this internship is one giant group project -- except it’s the kind where you can’t pick your partners. Luckily, HLK did a fantastic job, and we’re all working together like a well-oiled machine. Over the course of the session , we give four presentations: two practice pitches, in front of eight (or so) mentors, and two final pitches in front of approximately 25 HLK employees. Needless to say, this was a bit intimidating at first.  

However, we realized that a little practice , and an embrace of the mantra “they’re just people, too” we could totally handle it. At the end of the day, you’re presenting your own ideas that you worked tirelessly to perfect, so there’s no need to be nervous.

Last week, we got to spend a lunch doing something an average internship would never do. We did improv with a HLK employee who has mastered the art. Similar to Whose Line Is It Anyway, (if you didn’t watch this in the early ‘00s you have some serious catching up to do) 

we played some simple games to get used to improvisation. He explained that improv can actually help a lot with public speaking and group work, because it’s all about feeding off each other and going with the flow. At first, we looked like awkward goofballs. But with encouragement and a positive attitude, we morphed into slightly less awkward goofs (and learned some lessons along the way).

Some of his tips:

  • For brainstorms: say yes. Go along with an idea, and build off of it. No one in improv just stops the flow and goes “Eh no that’s all wrong.” The same should go for brainstorming. To further ideas, say the boldest thought on your mind and your team can help take that and tweak it by saying “yes, but what about this…” in order to expand the thought.

  • For presentations: body language is key. Sometimes you need a little backup during presentations. Avoid the awkwardness by practicing simple changes in body language, so your team members know you need some help. And hey, eye contact goes a long way.

    • Also, exude confidence!  Retire the words “like” and “uh,” because you know this stuff! Ever heard of “fake it til’ you make it?” It works. If you just act like you’ve got it going on, you’ll probably be a poised speaker.


Those are just a few tips that we learned from a great day doing improv. Hopefully we’ll use these to present a fantastic final pitch Thursday! Who knew we’d be playing improv games and getting Jimmy Johns catered in on a random lunch break...again guys, internship goals.

Interns Go Hard

If you saw us walking down the street, you would absolutely do a double take. Not only would our beauty overwhelm you, but also, we would confuse you. Six drop-dead gorgeous women and one glorious George. George is a species all his own. We love him, and yet, we do not fully understand him. We are still studying his quirks. Don’t fret; when we have some solid evidentiary support we’ll send out a mass email.

Agency life, we’ve discovered, is work hard, play harder. We embraced this outlook last week by going to sushi. ALL YOU CAN EAT SUSHI. In theory this is an excellent idea and we, hungry Americans, salute the inventor. But let me tell you, when you’re one plate of salad and eight gyoza from the hot bar down and have two rolls coming, all-you-can-eat sushi starts to get a little daunting. Our George, having little to no sushi experience, ordered a few too many rolls and way too much sashimi. In fairness, he asked me to look over his order, but I can’t take on that kind of responsibility I don’t know his life! Very long and painful story short, George showed us he is a fighter, a real determined pup. He finished every bit of sushi and  swore off eating for three days. After a grueling stuff-your-face lunch, a few dress shirt buttons popped off and we all waddled back to our home away from home.

HLK, our six-week home, is awesome, but here a couple things you need to know while you’re playing hard here.

1)    When you go out for all you can eat sushi, ask Janice for a key card to get back in the building. Or don’t. I don’t run your life. However, if you’d like to avoid standing outside the building like a little pack of doofuses, ask Janice for the key card.

2)    Speaking of Janice, she is quite the office sweetheart. I don’t want to say she’s the sweetest woman here, but…I’ll let you infer.

3)    All you can eat sushi is always a good idea. Just don’t pull a George.

4)     Bring your dog. Dogs make everyone happy. And happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’—wait sorry, six girls in one room does strange things to a person. #LegallyBringYourDog

5)    Wait for a hot second after your first pitch. Chances are someone will bring you beer to celebrate. Embrace every second. Work hard, play harder, and enjoy the ride.

A Midway Check-In

I think I might be having a mid-program crisis. It’s like I blinked my eyes and

we’re over halfway through our internship. That’s insane, because it feels like we just started! Since time is slipping away, I want to offer a recap of our Dauntless adventure so far.

First, I would like to point out how awesome our schedule is. The internship is 25 hours per week, so we work full days Monday-Thursday. That’s right. An extraordinary internship with only a four-day work week. Each day differs depending on how we need to get our work done. Maybe you need a change of scenery after a particularly intensive brain-wracking session, so you work from home for a few hours. Maybe you’re on a roll whipping out designs, so you stay late. Maybe you want to work through lunch so you can meet with your mentor after, your brain teeming with fresh ideas. You’ve been given the gift of flexibility: use it, don’t abuse it. It’s all about keeping focused and working diligently.

Last Thursday, we pitched some great ideas about our first client project. HLK is pretty liberating when it comes to kicking off the training wheels and letting us be creative and think big.

We came into this internship thinking:

But now, we’re confident! We all have our own facet of each project that is ours to master. This involves: strategy, media buying, research into our target audience, creative work, copywriting, and an account manager to keep us all in check. Each person has to work hand and hand with different team members, keeping constant communication.

Up next, we’ll team up to work on client project numero dos. This client may be more difficult than our first, as we don’t know as much about them, but this intern train isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

With that, I want to close this with an unrepentantly cheesy thought. Some haters and losers may say “magic doesn’t exist.” But whenever you create something from scratch, that’s pretty magical.  

 

 

Terms of the Trade

We’re two weeks in now and still learning something new each day. As a 20-year-old college kid who isn’t fluent in agency lingo yet, a lot of my aha moments have centered on terminology. For those readers who are just becoming familiar with the agency life, I have a few simple definitions for you. If you already know this stuff, have mercy on me and don’t judge, okay? This is a judgement-free zone, people. Here are three key terms to know before you walk in the door (or pretend you know as soon as you cross the threshold):

1. Impressions.

I don’t mean making a good impression, or the dental impression mold they use at the orthodontist when you have jacked up teeth. I’m talking about media impressions. This was a term that I hadn’t used in my everyday vocabulary until HLK. Impressions refer to “the point in which an ad is viewed once by a visitor, or displayed once on a web page.” This just means there’s a chance someone could see the ad. Whether this is subconscious or intentional, part of media buying’s realm includes impressions.

2. KPI

Blahg an acronym you’ll never remember, right?

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KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. A KPI is “a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use KPIs to evaluate their success at reaching targets.” Read: KPIs are something you want to meet and exceed.

 

 

3. Deliverables

They are “a project management term for the quantifiable goods or services that will be provided upon the completion of a project.” So for our little intern team, this means things like certain social media posts, banner advertisements, recommendations for ad placement and media spends, etc. Fairly self-explanatory, but good to define anyway.

So there you have it! Three simple agency terms that you should familiarize yourself with before you start walking around like you own the place. Even then, confidence is key -- but stay humble whydont’cha. Best of luck!

 

Meet Dauntless

The time has come for a little something different in Launchpad. If you’re familiar with the Launchpad program or with this blog (or if you’re about to get your stalk on), you will notice a sort of “outer space” theme when it comes to past team names. Since coming up with a name was our first task as a team, we referenced past names and were stumped. We were desperate to come up with something clever but original that tied outer space and HLK together. Eventually we asked the natural question, “Hey, so do we need to stick with the space theme...or…?” Our advisor laughed and told us not to worry. She wasn’t sure why it has always been space related.

So, we are Dauntless. Dauntless is an under-appreciated adjective that might seem foreign if you have never heard of the Divergent series. It means “to show fearlessness and determination.” Some synonyms include: brave, courageous, and spirited. Maybe you’re thinking, “Hmm, that is quite a bold word to describe a group of interns who are still getting to know each other,” but isn’t that what this experience is all about? HLK aligns everything they do with their core values: Be Curious, Be Thoughtful, and especially, Be Brave. So, our game plan is to utilize those values in everything we do. We hope to combine our diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives to create something incredible over the next six weeks.

If you see us around, feel free to reach out and say hi! Statistically, you’ll probably run into one of us girls; this session has six gals and one guy, George. Contrary to first impressions , we are indeed talkative and outgoing. Our first few days were spent trying to soak in all that is HLK and wrap our minds around what exactly each of our jobs entails. After multiple orientation-type meetings and a few pep talks, we’re all pretty pumped to get going on our projects. Without further ado...meet Dauntless!

Dear Future Intern

This is for that intern who is lying awake the night before their first day at HLK terrified for what’s ahead. So basically all of you. Since it is my last day here at HLK and I have learned so much about the in’s and out’s of the building these past six weeks, I’d love to share my knowledge with the future Launchpad Interns.

You may be nervous, but that’s probably not you shaking. Big diesels, a strong wind, and traffic from the highway all cause the south side of the building to be in a pretty constant state of tremors. So if you are sitting in your chair and you feel like you are literally shaking, you are. But it’s not because you are so nervous you body is going into fight or flight mode, so relax and enjoy the vibrations that will soon become almost comforting at times.

Say hi. To everyone. All the time. HLK holds some of the warmest, kindest people I have ever met. So don’t hide away in a room somewhere and never talk to them. Say good morning to Janice because she is an angel. Say hi to people when you run into them in the kitchen which is like the watering hole of HLK. I recommend working out in the booths the first couple weeks at least. You will always run into new people to meet! This internship is about learning about agency life, yes, but it is also a great place to make connections that will last long past your six weeks here.

Do work. If you have nothing to do, find something to do. HLK does not make the interns work 40 hours a week, we work 25, which means that you have to take advantage of the opportunities here to learn as much as you can. Spend your 25 hours a week working on your client and your campaign project but then stay late and ask if you can sit in on meetings. Make yourself known in the workplace.

Make them remember you. Even if it’s for riding the bike. You are only here for six weeks, which means that you have to make a good impression decently quickly. If you have graduated, you are hoping to get a job at the end of this, so treat it as a verrrrryyy long interview process. If you haven’t graduated, you want them to be able to remember you in a year (or two) when you will definitely be coming back here to get a job. Because who wouldn’t want to be a true HLKer?

Be curious. Be thoughtful. Be brave. Those aren’t just silly tagline that HLK uses, they are something that you need to try to implement into your work on a daily basis (and honestly your life too). You are only here for a short period of time, so dive in, take chances and have fun.

I hope this helps out a little with your first day (first week) nerves. Read through the rest of the blog for other tips such as what to wear on your first day at HLK. Take a deep breath because you can do this. Trust me if us adstronauts can handle this, so you can you.

Good luck,
Current Intern

HLK: Secretly a Five-Star Resort?

Sometimes you just need a getaway. You’re craving a vacation from the stack of stress piling up on your desk. Your morning routine consists of finding a new beach picture for your desktop background and checking Carnival Cruise prices religiously. If the Piña Colada in your coffee cup isn’t enough of an indication, you’re in need of some serious R&R. But there’s one problem: it’s only mid-June and you’ve already wasted a year’s-worth of PTO building Ikea furniture and binge-watching LOST for the 11th time.

Keep your head up, Sailor. I’m here to help. You can enjoy all of the perks of an exotic getaway, right here within the walls of the HLK office building. So, grab your sunglasses, but maybe leave your Speedo at home, because we’re going to give you the “Ultimate HLK Staycation.”

Welcome, welcome! We’re so excited to have you here at the marvelous HLK resort. Let’s take the elevator up to the Mezzanine to begin the tour.

First Stop: The Mezzanine

Look at that Skyline! Start your day with a rooftop “Sun Salutation” on the Mezzanine. Watch the sunrise over the Mississippi to the tune of I-44 rush hour traffic. Breathe in the blend of aromas wafting from the Purina and Tums buildings. If your favorite episode of Friends was, “The One with the Soap Opera Party” you’re in luck; if you squint your eyes (really really tight), it almost feels like the Mezzanine is the swank rooftop party of your sitcom fantasies.

Next Stop: The Third Floor “Lounge”

Here we are. Long luxurious couches, a fireplace, and a spectacular view of the parking lot: this is the posh nightclub you always wished you could get into. Think “Night at the Roxbury” except all of the club-goers are just Appistry programmers eating chicken salad and the bar only has Pepsi and OJ. This also a perfect place to get work done (or a nap with some heavy-duty earplugs and an eye mask).

Third stop: State-of-the-Art Basketball Court

Basketball season is over and you don’t know what to do with yourself. You’ve been replaying Kyrie’s Game 7 last-minute 3-point jumper in your head for weeks. You’ve been practicing your shot throwing away Taco Bell wrappers into the trash can, but your colleagues aren’t very happy with the amount of Diablo sauce on the floor. Your form is trash. But we can fix that. Look no further than the Third-Floor Basketball Court. Get some “real-life” basketball experience on this hardwood court. Set screens with actual desktop screens, shoot free’s from a masking tape line, practice your 360 spin move around a color copier…this kind of equipment could make Steph Curry jealous.

Fourth-Stop: 5 Star Restaurant

Speaking of the Chef, our fourth stop is the gourmet kitchen on the second floor. Filled with cozy booths, mood lighting, and TWO fully stocked fridges (unless it’s Friday night and Janice emptied them out…); this kitchen is everything your growling tummy could ask for. Treat yourself to your coworker’s pasta salad and a coffee, munch on some leftover Rally’s (that would be mine), or microwave some week-old tilapia if you’re not looking to make any friends in your office pod. If you’re in a hurry, shove your hands in the “jar of fun” and if you’re lucky you’ll get a fruit roll-up. Be sure to make a reservation because tables fill up quickly.

Fifth Stop: Sauna & Gym

The final stop of our tour is deep within the subterranean levels of the resort. Ignore the signs that say “Media Room,” I don’t know what that’s all about. This is our sauna. But sometimes it’s our freezer. This room has a mind of its own. Don’t even try changing the temperature, this room will either have you sweating or shivering and there’s no in-between. You’ll also experience some much-needed “off-the-grid” quiet time because you’ll never get any Wi-Fi or cell service. If the basketball court and sauna didn’t have you sweating, we have a gym next door where you can tone your muscles, but seeing as the only physical labor in your job description is carrying your laptop to meetings and running away from your problems…you should be fine without the exercise.

Well, that about does it for our tour! Turn your dreams into reality and enjoy a wonderful vacation at the marvelous HLK resort!

What Actually Gets Used in the Real World

You know that age old saying “I’ll never use this in the real world?” Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but you actually use more of it than the you thought. In the ad world, you can have clients who operate in any industry, and you will become a near expert on everything about that company. So, knowing how a seed becomes a plant or where that one city is on a map suddenly becomes handy. Oh, and those acronyms you either learned or made up in your head to pass that one class in your major? You might not want to get rid of those yet. So, here are five things I thought I would never use in the real world, but used in the short six weeks as an intern.

 

A.U.D.I.E.N.C.E. -

Somewhere in the early days of journalism school, a professor will tell you that this acronym will help you narrow down and build an audience. And you probably sat there thinking “Why would I remember this long acronym. I’m never going to use this.” Week 2 into the internship and I found myself googling the acronym for building a target audience, because not only did I not remember what the letters stood for, but also what the letters were in general. This one acronym makes it a lot easier to think beyond just demographics and psychographics of an audience to really put yourself into their shoes, which, trust me, helps a lot when you’re struggling for that big idea.

The 5 Why’s -

I had a management professor who spent a good three hours lecturing on the 5 why’s and how it helps one problem solve. Admittedly, I may have scrolled through countless social media apps on my phone while it lay hidden behind a notebook, but that topic would soon become a reoccurring theme. A month later, my mass media research professor started asking why to nearly every student answer in class (Yes, it drove us all nuts). And here I am as an intern doing that same exact thing.

In particular, the 5 why’s is a method to discover the actual problem and not the surface level one. Let’s say the problem is that Coffee Shop A doesn’t have enough sales, so they ask you to create a campaign that will increase sales. Start off by asking why sales are low and then ask why after every answer; the end result is the actual problem.

STP -

Segment. Target. Position. Although I remembered this acronym, I do also remember sitting in class wondering if real world people sat down and did this or just went through the motions of it. Week 4 and I’m sitting at my computer typing STP into a google doc. If you have a new product or a new campaign objective compared to what the client has done in the past, this really helps you figure out what makes them so great, because you obviously know why the client is amazing, but their target audience may not.

Math -

If you majored in journalism, I guarantee you thought you would never use math. Wrong, but don’t worry. It’s not the really hard calculus stuff, but basic math and those annoying worded math problems suddenly become real. All you really need to know is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (That’s a lot, I know). The catch is that sometimes you have to use all of that just to get one number, and if you are like me, you haven’t done that in two or three years.

Even worse: time sheets. You will have to figure out how to add up hours, and for some of us it is really difficult adding hours when numbers are on a scale of ten and hours go up to twelve. If you have no idea what I tried to explain there, then consider yourself lucky, because you don’t suffer from this problem. Hint: google time calculator to help you.

SWOT Analysis -

I cannot tell you how many SWOT analyses I have done in my life, but college will not be the end. It’s not just an exercise to get you thinking like the advertiser and not the consumer; it’s a process that helps build a campaign. Shortly after receiving our first creative brief, we found ourselves repeating and bickering with one another because we all knew the same thing but no one had written it down. So SWOT analysis went up on the very helpful whiteboard in the Launchpad room.

On a side note, during our first client pitch, the client told us how refreshing it was to see a SWOT analysis as he hadn’t seen one in years. Either it normally gets excluded from the presentation or simply goes unused, but either way it is very helpful and we interns recommend it.

 

I mainly showed you guys just the things that come from your major courses here, but in reality you never know what client you’ll have in the future. So, try to remember the random facts in that bio class you took as a gen ed freshman year or maybe keep that notebook from the one history course you almost always fell asleep in, because it might just be handy somewhere down the line.  


 

The Ins and Outs of a Creative Brief

Advertising agencies work on projects for clients, and with every project comes the creative brief.  While creative briefs may not be the most flashy or exciting part of every project, they are still very important. The time, thought and effort that goes into one is vital, as the creative brief is the road map for the project, and without a clear brief, the project can go haywire real fast.

I’m not going to tell you what to put in a creative brief because every agency has its own version.  In reality, all briefs have one main goal in common: clearly communicate the who, what, when, where and why of the project.  The tricky part is figuring out how to best communicate the project on paper to the team.  Here are three major things to consider when writing a creative brief.

1. Communicate the Single Main Idea

The single main idea is the most important element of the creative brief. It is the core message the audience should take away from the project. The main idea should correlate with the overall assignment, as it dictates the project’s direction.  Determining the single main idea is harder than it sounds. Many people confuse the main idea with the tactic, like saying, “Brand needs to create a mobile app to gain customer’s attention.” Instead the main idea should be something like, “Brand is the best in the industry and will improve customer’s problems. 

2. Don't worry about length

In school every teacher was adamant about creative briefs being concise and direct. This also meant any creative brief could not be more than a page or two long. This simply isn’t reasonable or realistic. As long as the content is detailed and straight forward, it does not matter how long the brief is.  It’s also better to insure everything is clearly laid out, not matter the length, to make sure the team doesn’t come back with more questions than you can answer.


3. Wording is Everything

When writing a creative brief it is important to be strategic and choose your words wisely.  A single word choice can lead one team member to interpret something one way, while someone else interprets it entirely differently.  This can lead to confusion for anything from direction and creative to implementation and timing.  Even something as simple as saying, “Include digital in the campaign,” can be confusing. Does that mean digital media, digital photography, digital advertising? This list and questions can go on and on!

The creative brief may not be the most exciting part of any advertising project, but it is still important. A poor creative brief can ruin an entire project, while a little time and thought can clearly layout the roadmap for an overall great project.

 

The Advertising Squabble of the Century: Creative v. Content

When I got the call that I had received the opportunity to be a content intern for HLK, I was ecstatic. Then I came back down to reality and realized I was in a little (lot) over my head. I had no idea what being a “content manager” entailed.

What I realized is that not a lot of people understand it either. Unless you are in creative or content and have been for a decent amount of time, there is a good chance you have no idea what the boundaries of those positions are.

So maybe right now you are saying to yourself, “What is this girl talking about? It’s totally obvious what the difference between these two jobs are.” To you I say, congrats! Seriously, you rock! But, this isn’t for you. This is for those individuals, quite like myself, who will wait until week 4 to really figure out what their job title entails. (I don’t recommend this, by the way.)

Speaking as the content intern, I can vouch for the awkward “This is mine,” “No, it’s mine,” squabble. Okay, so it doesn’t go exactly like that. We are adults after all. But there is tension and confusion on what items fall under what job description. I am going (to attempt) to help you out a little.

I am sure many of you have heard the phrase: Content is King. That’s awesome. Content may be king, but you aren’t. You need to learn what content means and where your “kingdom” lies and then live there.

Content tells, copy sells. Your job as content is to inform, explain or entertain the reader. The creative team is going to go out and sell this product/idea/experience to consumers. Your job comes after that. Where are they going to land after they see the banner ads/Facebook ads/billboards? That’s your content kingdom.

You are there to connect with the readers/consumers and get them thinking. You want to leave them with a satisfying feeling after they interact with your content. You are attracting them, not interrupting them.

My favorite way to think of it is as a push and pull relationship.

Creative is the push. They are the advertising kings. They are reaching out to the consumer and putting the product in their sights. They are the advertisements and the billboards you see.

Content is the pull. You are the owned and earned media. Consumers see an advertisement and then want to know more. You give them more. You are there for the consumer.

When you get your first client, after all the research is complete, make a list of the responsibilities you believe that you are in charge of and then show them to your mentor. Trust me, getting too far down one path and then realizing you are in the wrong kingdom is not fun, at all.  

Final takeaways:

-       Be confident in yourself

-       Ask questions

-       Know what your responsibilities are

-       Do your own research if other people’s explanations don’t work for you

-       Be courteous of each other (ahem I’m talking to you content and creative people). The line is blurry, work together to define it.

-       Most important: Be patient. Things sometimes take four weeks to really click…

 

Here are some additional links! If you are still a little confused, don’t worry. Find the analogy that works for you.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141106190653-112791243-content-marketing-vs-creative-marketing

http://www.smartinsights.com/?attachment_id=72589

A PC Girl in a Mac World

MacvsPC1.jpg

I like to think I am pretty tech-savvy. I regularly use different programs, take classes to become proficient in them and even play with the new ones in my spare time. I did these things, all the while, using a PC. At Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, we are highly encouraged to use a PC for its Excel functions. I admired the Mac's sleek, slim design while comfortably using my PC.

Alas, change. On our first day at HLK, we were each given a MacBook for work. Macs have a longstanding history and strong credibility in the creative world. Not surprisingly, the office is filled with Mac desktops and laptops. 

I actually found my Mac to be user-friendly, in spite of a few hiccups. For example, it took me longer than I care to admit to learn how to right click. Similarly, I realized that the keyboard commands are different. After a little hunt-and-peck, I found the proper keys.

Then, I encountered Keynote. 

This is Apple's version of PowerPoint. I always test different options to create the most visually appealing presentation, but the tweaks I knew hot ot make in PowerPoint were now in different places. Much like my newfound prowess with right clicking and commands, I eventually conquered Keynote. I even like it a little.

While change can sometimes be uncomfortable, it can also be exciting.

I would like to think I am tech-savvy, but I know this for sure: we welcome change here at HLK. We continuously learn as technology evolves. We strategize to reach a variety of markets with different needs. We create new solutions for clients. 

During your time here as an intern at HLK, you may encounter a learning curve in your tech skills or knowledge of the advertising world. Remember that you have mentors, teammates and an office of encouraging people who have been in your shoes. 

Be curious, and maybe not so loyal to your PC. Turns out, Macs are pretty cool, too. 

Meet the Adstronauts

The Interns are here! The Interns are here!

In case you haven't met us yet, we are the ones who are dressed a little too nice and traveling in packs around the office. Feel free to poke your head in our sauna, I mean room, and say hi! We don't bite. Well, except Kyle. We are working on that. Oh and on a side note, if you see us wandering aimlessly around your floor and think we might be lost, we are. Please help.

You can call us interns, minions or whatever you like really. We refer to ourselves as the Adstronauts. You may be thinking that's too punny. It's not. We could have been the Unidentified Flying Interns (my personal favorite).

Without further ado, I am honored to present the Launchpad Interns for this session. We are taking one small step for ads and one giant leap for adkind. (Told you we like puns).

Up, Up, and Away

You met Ad Infinitum six weeks ago, but now those six weeks have past and we must unfortunately part ways. Those six weeks were jam packed with people to meet and things to learn. We quickly became integrated into the HLK culture which is not only made up of talented individuals, but also occasionally their friendly dogs. Despite our first day anxiety in which every one of us wore our best “business professional” attire, we learned you don’t in fact have to dress up for work every day. Shorts and flip flops will suffice. And most importantly, we learned that celebrating after a presentation with chocolate martinis at 11:30am is also very ok. In fact, it’s applauded.

Of course we learned much more than how to dress for the job and that chocolate martinis are quite amazing. We were given a taste of the type of work HLK achieves on a daily basis. Since the eight of us represented the different departments of the agency, in many ways we were functioning as a microcosm of the company. At the beginning we were admittedly a somewhat dysfunctional tiny eight person company, struggling to fully understand our position within the internship, much less the company as a whole. But we very quickly became another HLKer and eventually made sense of our responsibilities, creating two campaigns of which we were all extremely proud.

They say time flies when you’re having fun. But I say, time flies when you’re having fun AND you only have six weeks to figure out how an advertising agency works, what your role entails, how your job functions within an advertising campaign, and how to execute a project. When you have only six weeks, your motivation is that much greater and the reward that much sweeter. As our group name suggests, we know no limit when it comes to pushing ourselves and doing the best that we can. With the help of our mentors and the supportive and welcoming HLK community we all walked away from the experience with a broader perspective. We learned that success is not only an individual feat but a collaborative effort that requires HLKs three guiding principles: Be Brave. Be Thoughtful. Be Curious.

Keeping in mind the infinite nature of our group name Ad Infinitum, I can think of no better use of a Mean Girls reference to represent our journey and the lessons that we learned:  “The limit does not exist.”

Dear Future Content Intern

Dear Future Content Intern,

    Now that the Launchpad internship is drawing to a close, I can officially say I kind of know what I’m doing. It took a little bit of trial and error to get the hang of it. So let me save you the trouble and share my seasoned expertise with you.

    You are not simply creating social media content for projects assigned to you, but you are also responsible for the Launchpad Blog. You assign, write, edit, and manage the content for the blog. More importantly you must understand and write according to the voice of the blog. This was probably the most difficult part for me, not simply because I had to find it myself, but because I also had to also communicate that to my fellow interns. To help explain, I’ve attached past blog posts that illustrate each point I’m making.

  1. Be imaginative - As interns of a full-service digital agency, our primary objective is to be imaginative in everything we do. And that includes our work for the blog. Take ordinary office topics and reimagine them in a way that hasn’t been done before. Maybe you found a conversation with your mentor particularly inspiring and want to share. Or maybe taking  selfies in different locations in the office seemed like a great idea and you wanted to write about it. Find your inspiration. Be creative. And write to your heart’s content. 

  2. Cater to the audience - We aren’t writing for the folks that run Fortune 500 companies. We are writing for ourselves and for our peers. I bet that as you were scrambling to get ready the night before your first day on the job, you were scrolling through the Launchpad blog. Remember yourself then and think about what you would have wanted to read. Would you want to read about the last dip in the stock market or why playing volleyball with your co-workers is awesome? Yea, I thought so.

  3. Be casual and conversational - Since we are targeting our peers, we need to write as if we were talking to them. This rule not only applies to your writing style, but also the format through which you want to tell your story. This is where your personal brand can come to life. Save the “thou” and “whilst” for another time and express yourself through memes and GIFs if it feels right. You already got the position, so let there’s no need to continue to impress with formalities. Instead dazzle with your unique perspective. 

  4. Tell a story - Perhaps the most difficult part of the blog is remembering to engage the audience through storytelling. You need to reign in your creativity and construct it, not only imaginatively, but also coherently. Tell your story from beginning to end, always asking why? Within an agency there are so many stories to tell, whether that’s the transition from intern life to agency life, the first week of Launchpad to the last week, or the concepting process from brainstorming ideas to giving the presentation. Find your story, ask yourself why you are interested in writing it, and WRITE.

  5. Tie it back to HLK - While this may be the most obvious, it still needs to be said. This blog celebrates your creativity, but there must be some connection back to HLK. You can’t simply write about your last Chipotle burrito because it tasted good. Maybe you discovered that a Chipotle burrito is really a metaphor for the diverse talent in the office (the Creative team is the guac that’s bursting with flavor while Account Management is the tortilla keeping everything together). Whatever you decide to write about, make sure it somehow reflects the culture at HLK as well as your personal experience and the lessons learned. 

    You are a reflection of the agency and are given an opportunity to have direct contact with others to express your personal experience as an intern of HLK. This is your chance to teach, tell a story, and exercise your creative abilities in anyway you choose.

May the creative force be with you.

Sincerely,

Current Content Intern

 

Let's Talk About Coffee

As an out of town intern, there's tons of ways to explore the city whether that's through their speciality shops, markets, and parks or variety of bars. But I spent most of my time trying all the different coffee shops St. Louis has to offer. Since I came to St. Louis to do work, I often brought my work to the coffee shops when I needed a break from the office (or that one time when the AC broke and the office felt like a hot yoga studio…) I discovered that each of the different coffee shops catered to a different step in the creative process.

 

Kayak’s Coffee - Brainstorming

Located near Wash U’s campus and Forest Park, Kayak’s Coffee is rustic and homey, inviting customers to relax and unwind. Perfect for daydreaming and getting lost in thought, I found myself cozying up in the corner of the cafe brainstorming ideas for our campaigns. Between the aroma of freshly ground coffee, the inviting nature of the cabin interior, and the refreshing bite of the ginger tea I tried, my brain became a fountain of ideas.

 

Park Avenue Coffee - Creative

But every fountain of ideas must have a filter. And for that, I found myself digging into work at Park Avenue Coffee. Tucked away near Lafayette Square, this cozy coffee shop is the perfect spot for small gatherings or some peaceful time alone. Not only am I a huge fan of their iced coffees, but they are also home to the Food Network featured Gooey Butter Cake. A little sugar rush might be exactly what you need to get those creative juices flowing.

 

Blueprint Coffee - Execution

When it’s time to execute on those crazy good ideas, there’s no better place to go than a cafe that serves coffee in science beakers. Located on the Loop, Blueprint Coffee is just a step away from lots of other shops and restaurants. The cafes interior, which celebrates minimalistic design and lots of natural light, encourages the young professional or student or HLK intern to focus on the task at hand with a piping hot cup of science coffee.

 

Goshen Coffee - Crunch Time

Just a parking lot away from HLK, Goshen Coffee is the perfect place to get out of the office, by barely leaving the office. And when it’s crunch time, a parking lot length walk may be all you have time for. Don’t be deceived by their small setup next to 4 Hands Brewing Co., the staff is highly knowledgeable about the coffee they brew, giving you that caffeine fix to push through those final creative meetings or into the wee hours of the night.

 

The HLK Kitchen - Final Touches

It’s presentation day. Everyone is scrambling to implement last minute changes into the powerpoint, to straighten their ties, and to take a quick breath before presenting weeks worth of work. One last cup of coffee might be just what you need. Luckily HLK’s very own kitchen is always stocked with coffee, accompanied by an assortment of creamers, hot chocolate packets, and endless jars of goodies to satisfy your sweet tooth. It may not be fancy, but it does the job.


The Secret to Winning a Spot at HLK

The secret to getting a great internship is that there is no secret. Lots of time must to be spent researching a company and revising your application materials. Luckily, there are just a few things that you need to focus your time on to maximize your efficiency and walk into an interview prepared.

Attend the Career Fairs:  “Career fairs are the first step in the recruiting process. If you’re interested in working at HLK, this is one of the best ways to have face to face time with recruiters and get your foot in the door. It also gives us the opportunity to connect with students who show that they are interested in the industry and demonstrate a passion for learning,” says Meredith Osborn, HR director at HLK.  It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the sea of booths and employers at career fairs. Contact your career center to get a list of which companies are attending and do your research.  Make sure to do your homework before approaching any recruiter; this is your chance to make a great first impression.

Be Versatile: The ability to adapt and evolve your skills on a consistent basis is key to being a team member at HLK.  Meredith says, “We look for reliability,  ambition, trainability, social skills, time-management and self-management. We look for students that can gain these experiences in and outside of class. For example, handling school and a consistent involvement in extracurricular activities demonstrates your time management, which is highly valuable in an agency.”

Perfect your Resume and Portfolio:  Since HLK receives hundreds of applications and recruiters talk to numerous students, the best way to stand out is with a resume and portfolio representative of you. “While grades are important, leadership capabilities and involvement in extracurriculars make a candidate particularly noteworthy,”  says Meredith.  “In terms of portfolios, those applicants that take the time to build their own site with their own personality are the ones that really stand out.”

Prepare for your interview: HLK looks for applicants that not only perform well on paper, but also in person. Meredith values candidates who are capable of making insightful conclusions as well as demonstrating a curiosity about the company itself.

1.     Research: “Show me that you’ve done your research; do some background history and look at our case studies. Be able to make connections between your portfolio and HLK’s digital work.”

2.     Questions: “Ask questions about the agency, but don’t be afraid to also ask about the specifics about the job. I appreciate when applicants are transparent about what they don’t know and are capable of showing me how they are willing to learn these things.”

3.     Body Language: “Body language, such as direct eye-contact, nodding, and leaning in, all tell me that a person is a great communicator and would do well when working with clients and establishing relationships.”

Be Persistent: HLK looks for candidates that are able to effectively network and create relationships. While you may feel like you are being annoying, Meredith values applicants who demonstrate their interest by reaching out directly to her. “Don’t wait for us to come to you. Taking this extra step shows us that you are interested and determined.”

Be HLK: Finally, HLK values a person whose work ethic and values align with those of the company. Above all, we look for fit with our core values: Be Brave, Be Curious, Be Thoughtful.”

While the task of applying to internships may seem daunting, remember that everything you need, you already have. It’s simply a matter of organizing your materials, understanding and communicating your talents, and presenting your passions in line with the mission of HLK.