Zoom in on the syrup: Memes as online marketing strategies

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style”]T[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

he average person spends over 100 minutes on social media every day—which means a lot of articles, posts, and pictures are flashing in front of millions of eyes each day as well. BYU PR students are expected to know how to tap into that traffic when they graduate, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Memes could be the back door that allows companies to jump right into the popularity frenzy. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins originally coined the term “meme” to describe a cultural idea or trend that circulates and grows in popularity much like a successful genetic trait.

What’s So Great About Memes?

According to Scott Church, a BYU communications professor, the term “meme” refers to anything that is meant to go viral, whether it’s a phrase, a video, or a picture. Some examples of such include the Grumpy Cat macro (image with bolded text) and the Keyboard Cat video.

According to a study done by Piia Varis and Jan Blommaert from Tilburg University, people find it important to be part of a group that ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ items posted by others. Memes perfectly fit the bill because they are easy to consume, have mass appeal, are relatable to the audience, shareable, familiar, and funny.

What Elements Do Viral Memes Have?

  1. Designed for the masses.

Memes should relate to large groups of people that include the target audience. The more people a meme relates to, the more readily it will be shared. This is a balancing act between getting the meme seen by the target audience, but having enough people in the audience for it to go viral.

An example of this element was posted on a funny dog Facebook page. It appeals to dog lovers, but also appeals to anyone who dreads getting up for work on Monday mornings.

 

This meme appeals to dog lovers, but also appeals to anyone who dreads getting up for work on Monday mornings.

 

  1. Easy to consume.

Memes should have clear pictures (or video) and simple text. They should be easy to read, easy to understand, and to the point. Any meme with difficult font or confusing content will be passed over and left unshared.

 

Since the point of memes is to be shared, memes should be created in the proper format and the proper size for the platforms it will be posted to. The more places it gets posted, the more likely it is to get shared. However, keep in mind that memes may not be appropriate on every platform. If a company has a large, older audience on Facebook, memes might not be the best way to engage with them, and might actually have the opposite effect.

  1. Familiar or current.

Viral memes are often based off of recent happenings. Using current events as a base will make the meme familiar (and relatable) to those viewing it. An example of this was when the power went out during the super bowl in 2013 and Oreo posted this photo:

 

Using current events as a base will make the meme familiar (and relatable) to those viewing it.

 

  1. Funny, witty, clever, and smart.

Memes need to be funny, witty, clever and smart so they can catch enough attention to be shared. Businesses are always posting social content, and audiences are constantly being bombarded with it, so creating attention-grabbing content can help a specific brand or company get noticed, even if it’s just for a moment.

 

Another reason why memes need to be light-hearted is because overly stiff and formal online messaging can alienate the very fans marketers wish to court. It may be necessary to toss the corporate handbook to be able to create an offbeat meme that’s hard to fit into a business plan. That said, don’t get so crazy that the content isn’t somewhat in line with your brand’s identity.

Things To Watch Out For

Everything a brand says or does, even if a little silly, needs to fit with the brand’s identity. If a company has a solemn reputation, memes may not be the most effective marketing tactic.

Even if a brand can afford to be offbeat or a little silly at times, it’s wise to avoid posting viral content continuously just to be funny. Remember—it’s all in the delivery. Fail at this, and audiences will assume the company is trying too hard. Never sacrifice quality or originality for quantity.

How to Create a Viral Meme

According to businessnewsdaily.com, a basic rule of thumb is that companies who want to go viral should probably memejack to get and some immediate attention. Companies that already have lots of loyal followers are better off trying to outshine the competition with their own creative juices (as long as self-created memes have great concepts behind them).

Memejacking

Once a meme has been decided on, there are two options for actually creating it. The first is called memejacking, which is the method that a lot of companies use. It’s taking a viral meme that has already been created and tweaking it to fit the brand. If this method is decided on, there are a couple things to look out for:

  1. Understand the meme, first. If a meme’s origin and meaning isn’t clear, don’t just try it anyway! Use com to read up on it before deciding it’s the right meme to use. Using a meme incorrectly can backfire.
  2. Don’t waste time. Memes have an incredibly short lifespan, so don’t dawdle in putting a good idea into practice. Waiting too long could allow the meme’s popularity to fizzle out before it can be used.
  3. Make sure it’s appropriate. Using memes inappropriately will put a company’s reputation on the line, referring to the content and context of the meme itself, or the situation in which it’s shared. A serious audience would probably not appreciate a humorous meme.

Even if a meme doesn’t go viral, using a well-known macro will greatly increase the chances of it grabbing the attention of the target audience, followers, and customers. A successful example of this is below, posted by the company Barkbox.

 

Memejacking is taking a viral meme that has already been created and tweaking it to fit the brand.

 

Creating Memes From Scratch

Remember that memes should be designed for the masses, easy to consume, shareable, familiar (or current), and funny, witty, clever, or smart. Websites like MemeGenerator.net are a great place to start. Sites like this will often put their watermark on a finished meme. Brandwatch.com gives some examples of popular things to use:

  • Animals saying human things.
  • Babies saying or doing adult things.
  • Sayings from popular television shows or movies.
  • Popular images of characters from television shows or movies.
  • Popular or classic quotes.
  • Puns or joke punch lines.
  • That moment when. . .
  • Grumpy Cat.
  • Most Interesting Man in the World.

    Companies that already have lots of loyal followers are better off trying to outshine the competition with their own creative juices.

An image posted by Denny’s is a great example of a larger company creating its own meme based off of current trends.

Written by Kyra Sutherland

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What is PR, actually?

Public relations, advertising and marketingwhats the difference?  Here are a few pointers to help you differentiate.

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style”]T[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

he public relations profession is one big mystery to most of the world.  Easily confused with marketing or advertising, it’s a field that can be difficult to explain.  If you practice public relations, most of your friends and family have probably been confused when you have tried to explain what you do.  Here are a few resources to help you answer another round of awkward questions at family gatherings this Christmas season.

Q: What do PR practitioners do, in a nutshell?

A:  According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), public relations is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  Plainly put, public relations is about using tools like writing, social media and strategy to build trust and reputation for an organization.

 

Q: Are PR professionals just professional partiers?

A:  Many people believe that practicing PR equates to being a publicist, representing a celebrity, or meeting people at swanky parties for a living—far be it from the truth.  Public relations work can often include special events productions, but every event is created with a strategy in mind.  Public relations work is not all glamorous, and though most professionals do enjoy their work, long hours spent strategizing and planning go unseen.

 

BYU public relations students met with local PR professionals at a recruiting event to learn from and network industry leaders. Though networking isn’t all that PR professionals do, it, it does play a large role in any PR job.

 

Q: Is public relations like advertising?

A:  PR is not advertising.  While the two professions have things in common, like elements of design and strategy, the main difference between public relations and advertising is that advertising is paid media, while PR is earned media.  This means that advertisers will pay to push their content forward, while PR professionals will earn their coverage in ways like writing news story pitches to journalists, creating social media posts or putting together brand videos for a client.  In fact, when you read a piece of public relations content, you may not even realize it’s been carefully crafted to persuade you to think about an idea or a brand in a certain way.  PR is discreet, while advertising is more obvious to the viewer.

 

BYU advertising students prepare a set for a Comic Con video shoot. While advertisers promote clients via paid media, PR practitioners promote clients through earned media.

 

Q:  What’s the difference between PR and marketing?

A:  While marketers aim to sell products, PR professionals sell ideas.  At the core, PR professionals are storytellers.  Public relations professionals are primarily responsible for managing brand reputation and press relations, while marketers might focus more on market research and sales goals.

 

Q:  What can you do with a career in PR?

A:  One of the best things about the field of PR is that you can do so many things with the degree.  Some graduates choose to work at PR agencies, which is probably what you think of as a traditional PR job.  However, the options are limitless.  Today, many PR graduates choose to specialize in digital marketing and social analytics and work in PR tech jobs.  Additionally, many PR graduates cross over to marketing or business, or go to law school.  A PR practitioner could be a press secretary, an event planner, or even an entrepreneur and start his or her own firm.

 

Q:  Should I major in PR?

A: If you’re passionate about writing, creativity and strategy—and you have a healthy tolerance for stress—this may be the perfect field for you.

Written by Lindsey Trendler

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Using social media to build your personal brand

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style”]E[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

mployers are stalking you, and you may not like what they see. Many hiring managers will take a look at your social media profiles after they interview you to get a snapshot of who you are. “I always look at a few social channels when hiring,” said Brandon Jeppson, Vice President of marketing at EKR. “It helps me get a better sense of who that person really is.”

If the person represented on your social media channels does not reflect the person you want employers to see, you need to step up your game on social media. Get noticed and hired by the right people by taking control of your personal brand online.

1. Stand for something

A good personal brand starts with a solid foundation. Pick a cause, any cause. It doesn’t have to be organized one, or even well-known. You can stand up for happiness, class, art, religion, or science. Choose something you want to embody, and let the rest of your content follow suit. Your foundational principles will shine through to people looking at your social profiles and will be influential in shaping their perceptions of you.

2. Embrace the real you

A common misconception is that to be successful on social media, you should appear to be perfect. People want to see the real you. A hiring manager isn’t going to your Facebook feed to be wowed by your flawless selfies, they’re there to get a glimpse of your reality. Be authentic and relatable, and people will want you on their team.

“Credentials and skills are important, but in the end, you’re working with people,” said Jeppson. “Social media, including LinkedIn, can help me figure out if they’re going to be a good fit for my team”.

 3. Find your audience

Once you find the content that resonates with you, find out who cares to listen. Use platforms like Buzzsumo to monitor what’s trending with your audience, then use that content to fuel your posts. Remember, you’re not building a personal brand for yourself, but for others to be influenced and inspired by you.

 4. Stay consistent

Having a consistent look and feel to your personal brand will create a sense of trust and validity. “You can damage an otherwise impeccable reputation if one of your profiles shows up with content or images that don’t represent you well,” said Sujan Patel, Co-founder of Web Profits and a contributing author to Forbes. This advice is especially helpful on an Instagram account, where a consistent look and feel (including a color scheme) is pleasing to the eye.

 5. Mix up your content

Don’t settle for only one type of engagement with your audience, even if you know it works. Mixing up what you post keeps things interesting for your followers and helps employers see the many facets of your personality. “When hiring, I try to gather as much data as I can about a person,” said BYU student and E-WeddingBands operations manager David Baird. “I want to know what their personality is like and how they handle themselves in all types of situations.”

6. Embrace your work

Your social media pages shouldn’t be a place to consistently gloat about your achievements. They can, however, be a place to occasionally post content you create, like blog posts or videos. Sprinkling your personal brand with original work helps employers quickly assess your skill sets.

 7. Google yourself

Try putting your name into a search engine. How do you feel about the results? Are you ashamed and embarrassed, or happy and proud?  Monitoring your online presence is essential to maintaining a personal brand. If there’s something you don’t like on your social pages, it’s easy to delete. If you’re worried about how you’re portrayed on other pages, try reaching out to the person posting and explain you don’t want to be portrayed in that way.

Just like a business would, you should be aware of where you show up online, who is talking about you and what is being said.

Social media matters when interviewing for jobs. Skills and credentials aside, employers want to make sure you’re a good fit for their team.

“Elevating your personal brand might seem like it involves a huge time investment. But, small steps in the right direction can go a long way” said Kat Boogaard, writer for The Muse and contributing author for Inc.

Rest assured that employers are looking at your social media because you’re already interesting. Make sure you paint the right picture of who you are and who you want the world to see.

Written by Shannon Baird

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

How to capture the perfect Christmas season

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style”]F[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

rom sparkling lights to hot cocoa by the fire, the picture-perfect Christmas is what many people are longing for. Having a picture-perfect Christmas season is one thing, capturing it is a whole other ball game. You want to preserve those memories but the twinkling lights turn into blurry blobs and your cozy cocoa by the fire picture turns into a washed-out mess. Sound familiar?

Well, this is your year. Not only to have picture-perfect plans, but to be able to share perfect pictures with those you love. Here are the top four picture taking tips that will make all the herald angels sing about your Christmas photos.

1. Lose the Flash
This may be the number one way to ruin your cozy pictures this season. Using a flash, inside or outside adds a cold, washed out look to pictures. You may be thinking, “yeah but what if it’s dark and we can’t see anyone’s faces in the picture?” Well there’s a couple of solutions to that. First, find someone else that has a smart phone, have them stand behind you and shine their flashlight on whatever subject you’re shooting. This may take some trial and error but adding a cell phone back light is a great way to add a softer glow to a photo.

2. Capture Candids
Now this may seem like a contradiction. Don’t perfect pictures need to have perfect smiles and perfect placement? The answer is NO. Candid photos of kids with messy hair opening presents or sneaking a picture of Grandma and Grandpa holding hands while enjoying the grandkids will mean much more than any perfectly symmetrical, posed photo. Be ready to take a lot of pictures to capture the perfect candids, you never know when your Instagram moments will pop up. Look for the magic opportunities to capture the pure, spontaneous joy of the holidays.

 

3. Try HDR Mode
Some of the most beautiful holiday pictures you can take are of bright Christmas lights twinkling in the night. Using a flash makes the lights disappear and sometimes using a back light ruins the feel. Your phone has a secret weapon you probably don’t even know about. Turning on your HDR (High Dynamic Range) setting allows your phone to take multiple photos at different exposures and then puts them all together to get the most balanced light/shadows. Check out these two photos- the one on the right is with HDR, the one on the left is without. What a difference! These places were equally lit- so it’s time to bust out the HDR and capture all the twinkle lights.

non HDR mode
HRD mode

 

4. Get on the Grid
The rule of thirds is a simple rule that makes a huge difference in photos. The goal is to get the center of your subject on one of the intersections of a 3X3 grid. (see photo below) Centering the focus on one of the grid intersections gives your photos great balance and makes them more esthetically pleasing. For those of you with the iPhone 7 or above- using the rule of thirds with your portrait effect will send your photos right over the top! To turn the grid on your camera, check out your phone’s camera settings and get on the grid!

These simple tips/tricks will bring your holiday photos to the top of everyone’s favorite list this year. Creating your picture-perfect Christmas can now be accompanied by perfect pictures to preserve those memories for generations to come.

Written by Sarah Matheson

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

150 years of the best holiday campaigns

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style”]T[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

he most wonderful time of the year is here. Lights twinkle at every street corner, fresh snow starts to blanket the ground, and the spirit of giving warms the hearts of all. But perhaps the most obvious sign that this joyous season is here, is the start of holiday marketing campaigns.

For over a century, companies have kept the public guessing what creative tricks they will pull out of their sleeves during the month of December. The advertisements, the jingles, the iconic characters, have all helped trademark the magic this time of the year brings.

Here is a list of the nine most iconic and beloved holiday marketing campaigns over the last 150 years.

 1874: Macy’s holiday window display

The grand Macy’s department store in New York City was the first brand to create a major holiday window display. The boom of the industrial revolution made glass in rich supply, allowing R.H Macy to bring to life his vision of creating an elaborate storefront to fascinate his customers.

In 1874, Macy’s debuted its first window display, featuring collections of hand-painted, porcelain dolls from around the world, as well as scenes from the novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

To this day, people from all over the world visit the department store in New York, to witness the beautiful artistry captured behind the glass of Macy’s windows.

 1924: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

in 1924, Macy’s expanded to cover an entire city block in New York City. The newly acquired 1 million square feet of retail space was enough reason to celebrate, and thus the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was born. Macy’s employees scattered the streets in bright costumes, as floats and animals borrowed from central park zoo entertained an audience of over 250,000 people.

For many, the annual parade marks the start of the holiday season. Still to this day, the elaborate production draws extensive national attention, making Macy’s a brand name that is strongly connected with the holidays.

 1931: Coca-Cola’s father of Christmas

Years ago, the image of Santa Clause as a jolly, grandfather-like figure, did not exist. Every artist had a different interpretation of the holiday icon, until Coke created an image that would stick for years to come.

In 1931, Coca-Cola hired artist Haddon Sundblom, to create an image of Santa the company could use in its Christmas advertisements. Sundblom developed the character America knows and loves today, conveniently wearing the same classic red that is associated with Coca-Cola.

1939: Montgomery Ward’s Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

Each year, the department store Montgomery Ward created Christmas coloring books for children as promotional items. In 1939, the company hired copywriter Robert L. May, with the task of creating its annual book.

Montgomery Ward’s Christmas coloring book in 1939, introducing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the first time. 2.4 million copies of the book were sold that season.

In his youth, May was bullied for being small in size and extremely shy. These past experiences inspired the writer to create Rudolph, a misfit reindeer that was mocked for his shiny red nose.

During the 1939 Christmas season, May’s coloring book sold over 2.4 million copies. To this day, the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of the most popular holiday children’s stories.

1955: Norad’s tracking Santa’s journey

In 1955, a local newspaper ran a Sears advertisement that invited kids to call Santa Clause. However, a problem arose when the newspaper accidentally changed a single digit in Santa’s phone number, leading all the children to call the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) center.

Each year, members of NORAD and dozens of volunteers, take phone calls from children about Santa’s location on Christmas Eve.

To avoid acting like scrooges on Christmas, the military leaders at NORAD gave a few men the special assignment to answer all Santa related calls.

From that night on, NORAD became an integral part of Christmas Eve, as the command center started to “track” Santa’s journey across the globe. Children continue to use NORAD’s tracking website each year to see how close Santa is to their house.

 1989: Hershey’s holiday bells

The iconic advertisement personifying Hershey kisses as bells has run every December since 1989. However, what most people don’t know is that the beloved commercial was not supposed to exist.

Hershey’s creative team had already decided to go in a different direction when an employee came up with a simpler idea he thought would be better. Without financial support, the employee ran with his own advertising concept.

After showing his boss the finished product, Hershey scrapped its more elaborate animation and released the now famous Hershey Holiday Bells commercial.

1993: Coca-Cola’s sledding polar bears

Coca-Cola’s signature polar bears made their sledding debt during the 1993 holiday season with a commercial titled, “Northern Lights.”

Coca-Cola debuted its iconic polar bears for the first time with a holiday advertisement titled, “Northern Lights.” The creator of the commercial was Ken Stewart.

The creator of the commercial, Ken Stewart, chose to feature polar bears because they reminded him of his late Labrador retriever. Coca-Cola used the most advanced computer graphics at the time to bring Stewarts vision onto the screen for the holidays.

 1997: Starbuck’s red holiday cups

In 1977, Starbucks released its first holiday cup. A festive red cup adorned with seasonal designs made for a beverage holder every customer wanted to drink out of.

Starbuck’s holiday cup campaign is still going strong today, as the cup serves as a perfect complement to the company’s seasonal drinks, such as peppermint mocha and gingerbread latte.

 2007: Macy’s Believe campaign

In 2007, Macy’s launched its first “Believe” campaign, calling all believers in Santa Clause to put their faith to good use. For every letter written to Santa and sent through a Macy’s department store, the company would donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Over the course of nine years, the campaign has raised $15 million for the charity.

Written by Brittain Steiner

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What the end of net neutrality means for communicators

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style”]w[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]hether it is Charlie biting a finger or the President making a late-night tweet, the internet gives anybody a chance to make their voice heard. From mom-and-pop shops to multi-national corporations, the internet makes it easy and free to communicate with consumers.

But with a new proposal by the Federal Communications Commission to rollback net neutrality regulations, those personal blogs and small businesses might have a harder time getting their voices heard on the internet. The new FCC proposal cuts out Obama-era net neutrality rules that made internet service providers give equal access of all internet content to consumers.

A lack of net neutrality regulations would allow internet service providers—like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T—to block or slow-down web content. For example, for streaming services that use heavy bandwidth like Netflix and YouTube, ISPs could charge a premium to those companies and to consumers in order to access those sites.

Some communications professionals fear that this change could negatively impact internet advertisers and marketers. For instance, if advertisers don’t pay ISPs, web ads could be slowed down to the point where a consumer won’t even see the ad by the time they leave the page.

“It’s going to fundamentally change the way (marketers) can approach digital media,” said Josh Lowcock, EVP Chief Digital Officer at UMWorldwide. “It could affect everything from advertising prices and viewability standards to innovation and competition.”

Others are less concerned about the immediate impact of the net neutrality changes. The FCC proposal won’t be voted on until Dec. 14 and, though likely to pass, the changes won’t go into effect for a few months and potential lawsuits against the FCC might slow the effects even more.

“This won’t kill journalism, advertising or public relations,” said professor Ed Carter, director of Brigham Young University’s School of Communications. “Content will continue to flow for the most part and we won’t see wholesale changes immediately.”

Still, while large content providers like Amazon or Hulu will be able to pay the increased costs, the same might not be the case for small businesses. Though the internet previously provided free access to content, marketers might have to accept the reality this free access might now come with a price tag from ISPs.

An AT&T store at sunrise located in Orem, Utah. Like Verizon, the internet service provider AT&T is a key player in the FCC’s latest proposal against net neutrality.

However, because consumers already have to wade through so much online content, some argue that cutting through the clutter is a bigger problem for small business than net neutrality. Carter suggests that the saturation of voices will likely be the biggest problem small business marketers face, with or without net neutrality.

“So many people are wading through content with varying levels of quality, trying to find the truth,” said Carter. “If content creators can make things that are truthful and useful for consumers, then their messages will make it to consumers.”

Whatever the consequences of the FCC’s proposal, consumers and content creators are making their voices heard before the final vote. Protests have been set up on Dec. 7 in Salt Lake City at various Verizon stores. The website Battle for the Net also gives users access to emails of U.S. Congress members, who could stop the FCC vote.

So, while the internet’s future might be less certain with the potential end of net neutrality, what is certain is that people probably won’t be seeing Charlies bitten finger or the President’s tweets go away anytime soon.

Written by Trevor Hawkins

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The secret to finding a job in marketing (it’s more obvious than you think)

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style”]F[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

inding a job in marketing can be a tiring and perplexing pursuit. A job candidate may spend years racking up an impressive resume and ultimately slip through the cracks. While there is no sure-fire cure for this dilemma, job-hunting marketers may want to rethink their reliance on traditional approaches and consider viewing the chase from a marketing standpoint. Specifically, they should focus on marketing themselves to employers as proven professionals who are prepared to bring real value to a department or team. Consider the experiences of several individuals who witnessed the power of this approach firsthand.

Nina’s Story

In 2010, Nina Mufleh wrapped up a successful 10-year marketing communications career in the Middle East to seek her fortune in the mecca of tech: San Francisco. After working with Fortune 500 companies and even the Queen of Jordan herself, Mufleh was ready for a change in scenery. She chronicled this transition in an editorial for the Harvard Business Review.

“I knew it would be a challenge to restart my career in a new market … [but] as a few months turned into a year and I saw no signs of progress, I reached a point of panic.”

Mufleh had spent countless hours researching potential employers, drafting tailor-made resumes and building her network on and offline. After all of that, she hadn’t had a single interview. “How could a career that ranged from working with royalty to Fortune 500 brands and startups not pique the curiosity of any hiring managers?” Mufleh wrote.

After a year of toiling in the hiring machine, Mufleh finally adjusted her strategy. “Instead of thinking as a job applicant, I had to think of myself as a product and identify ways to create demand around hiring me.” Mufleh decided to refocus her efforts to demonstrate that she could provide real value to an organization. She set her sights on Airbnb, conducted extensive market research and compiled a report on the potential for the company’s expansion into the Middle East.

Marketing professional Nina Mufleh seized the attention of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and demonstrated the value of her marketing prowess all with one tweet. The stunt led to numerous interviews and offers as Mufleh wrapped up a fruitless year of job-hunting.

Mufleh published her report in a tweet and tagged Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and other executives. According to her, “Within hours of releasing the report, a recruiter from Airbnb reached out to me to schedule an interview. Within a few days, I had interviews with many of the area’s top tech companies.”

 Oscar and Kristina’s Story

Months away from graduating Miami Ad School, aspiring art directors Oscar Gierup and Kristina Samsonova were looking to line up jobs with big-name advertising agencies. Since neither were interested in becoming part of a giant stack of identical-looking applications, they decided to use what they had learned about advertising to take matters into their own hands.

“Reaching the right people using the agency emails feels nearly impossible,” said Gierup. “But with the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity coming up, we saw our chance to get seen.”

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is the largest advertising conference in the world, with tens of thousands of registrants—most of them advertising professionals and many of them from prestigious agencies. The conference takes place every June in Cannes, France.

Since the two couldn’t afford the trip to France, they found another way to get the attention of top-tier advertisers, while also demonstrating the value they could bring to an agency. “… We created a series of sponsored Facebook ads to get our portfolios in front of some of the industry’s biggest names. The ads were geo-targeted to run in Cannes, so only people in the area were able to see them. We also filtered it to specifically target people working in advertising or related fields,” Gierup said in a joint report about the campaign.

Advertising students Oscar Gierup and Kristina Samsonova sidestepped the narrow road to a top-agency job through a series of Facebook ads geo-targeted to advertising professionals attending a major conference in France. The campaign led to 2,000 unique portfolio views and cost a total of $120.

As a result, Gierup and Samsonova only spent $120 and received more than 2,000 unique portfolio views—all of them presumably by potential employers. Additionally, their advertising escapade received coverage in major industry publications, including Adweek, complete with links to their portfolios. Shortly after the campaign, each student accepted an offer with an agency in Europe.

Stop applying. Start thinking.

It’s easy for a hiring manager to overlook a resume, cover letter or application that may blend in with numerous similar-looking submissions. It’s far more difficult to ignore an applicant who sidesteps protocol and provides bona fide proof of his or her value. It’s time marketers embraced this approach and started applying their industry skills to the job hunt.

Written by Cody Humphreys.