14 Things To Remember When Creating ‘Explainer’ Videos

Videos are a common form of content these days, with “explainer” videos being particularly popular. While many of us like to think that it’s a piece of cake to create good video content, it’s just not that easy. Thought and planning need to go into explainer videos in order to make them most effective and to reach the right audience.

So, when you’re getting ready to plan out your next explainer video, look to this list of things to remember from 14 Forbes Agency Council experts.

Explainer Videos

1. Follow Monroe’s Sequence

Explainer videos seek to teach and motivate. Monroe’s motivated sequence provides a simple structure for the video. Open by gaining attention and reassure viewers by stating your purpose. Next, connect with the audience by identifying the need for the solution you’re about to show. Then, demonstrate the solution. Finally, close by visualizing the benefits, not the features, the solution offers. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

2. Consider Different Learning Styles

Some people prefer to learn by seeing, others by hearing and others by doing. Try to incorporate as many of these styles into your educational materials as possible. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM

3. Make Every Second Count

Remember this old presenting staple: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them again. Time is valuable and so is thoroughness. So, in your explainer, give them the steps, present the steps concisely and then give a brief recap. If need be, break your content up into an explainer series. Attention spans are limited, so make every second count. – Bernard May, National Positions

4. Focus On SEO Benefits

The first thing we consider when creating an explainer video is the consistency with the brand and using it as a value add for UX and SEO. When using explainer videos, it’s important that the video is part of your content strategy and is supporting the optimized long-form content on your page. They’re also great for generating value links and reducing bounce rates. – Alex Valencia, We Do Web Content

5. Get A Good Spokesperson

Explainer videos are a great way to demonstrate a product; however, the voice and visual presence of the spokesperson are key. We have recently transitioned from using only product managers to also using young, high-energy employees who represent the company in the best light possible. This also serves to demonstrate that our client is thinking about its next generation of professionals. – Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.

6. Stay Authentic

Authenticity is more than just what you say, it’s also the world you create. Cut through the clutter with an explainer video that brings the product or service to life in an authentic, engaging way, showing passion for what the company does. This creates an emotional, compelling connection for consumers, allowing them to envision themselves using your tool to solve their problems. – Howard Breindel, DeSantis Breindel

7. Keep The DIY Feel

I see businesses get stuck on explainer videos because they try to make them too good. Sure, you want to reflect your brand well, but if what you’re providing can solve the problem of a customer tomorrow, then make it with your laptop or phone. Consumers can understand the context of what you’re sharing. If anything, videos that feel more DIY will help humanize you and your brand. Just make it! – Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged

8. Remove The Jargon

When creating a problem solving video or a product overview video, you want it to be searchable and you want it to be easy to understand. Therefore, the words you use should be relatively simple. Keep it brief, use images, supporting text (again, simple) and include a short description tag for reference. Don’t over-complicate with industry jargon. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

9. Include Subtitles

Don’t forget subtitles. The majority of social media users do not have audio on when viewing videos, so it has been increasingly important to implement accurate and easy-to-read video captions. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack PR Marketing Group

10. Maintain Your Brand’s Voice

Explainer videos should still maintain tone and voice of the brand. Often times brands can be very operational and tactical in their approach, but should consider weaving in personality to really resonate with their consumers. Consistency across all mediums builds a stronger brand. – Lauren Shirreffs, 2Social Agency

11. Speak To The Lowest Common Denominator

Our agency refers to this service as LCD-ing it — speak to the lowest common denominator. You must assume that a fair number of viewers are starting from scratch, with no knowledge of your company or how it can benefit them. You must create the video for that group of people. The more knowledgeable consumer will still gain something and the LCD customer will feel educated and empowered to purchase. – Dustin Iannotti, artisansonfire.com

12. Keep It Simple

One of the most important things to remember about creating explainer videos and content is that people do not have a ton of time. Your video needs to be entertaining, straight-to-the-point and clear. Those videos need to explain only what is necessary and ensure that the user is able to access the most important discussions. – Jon James, Ignited Results

13. Focus On Visuals Over Sound

Visual images that have graphic reinforcement are important. Many people won’t watch a video with the sound turned on, so explainer videos have to be effective with the sound on or off. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

14. Focus On Originality

Explainer videos have long been popular, but the formats that receive the best engagement are constantly changing. The problem with inexpensive, cookie-cutter vendors is that they are always behind the curve in producing videos that are fresh and different. Do you really want the same kind of whiteboard video or animation style that everybody else is using? Your content won’t matter if you do. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

This advertising CEO uses neuroscience to sell you stuff | How I Made It

From the Los Angeles Times: August 11, 2019

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, 40, is chairwoman and chief executive of Hawthorne Direct, an 85-employee advertising agency that uses “neuromarketing” to generate a stronger and quicker response from consumers. This year, Hawthorne-Castro was the winner in the transformational leader category of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards of Greater Los Angeles. Hawthorne Direct’s clients include Apple, Nissan, Spectrum Business, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the U.S. Navy.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Rocket science
Marketers have always tried to tap into consumers’ subconscious, Hawthorne-Castro said, but her company uses neuroscience to enhance campaigns so that they are more likely to resonate with the audience and employs detailed analytics to measure what is working. “Neuroscience aims to go beyond figuring out what people want or like and dives into the underlying forces that shape consumer decision making,” Hawthorne-Castro said. For instance, she said, neuroscience explains that testimontials work by exploiting humans’ need for social validation, and products and services that help consumers avoid a bad outcome are leveraged by humans’ “pessimism bias” that helped our ancestors survive.

Realistic approach
The Philadelphia native grew up in Iowa and later became a fine arts major at UCLA, showing talent for painting and photography. But it can be very hard to pay the bills with the usually uncertain income stream that comes with being an artist. “I was an artist, but I was also a realist, right? So, I thought ‘Well, I’m good, but I’m not great.’ Nor is it a really good career to go into,” she said.

Intern inspiration
An internship during her UCLA days provided a better idea for a career. It happened when she was working for music video and film director Bille Woodruff. A member of his crew made an important suggestion. “He said, ‘Have you ever thought about becoming an agent?’ I had not. Of course when I heard that, then I started reading all about it. I knew artists so well, that representing them, whether they be actors, writers or directors, was actually just a natural fit,” Hawthorne-Castro said.

Prime time
In 2001, she joined what is now known as William Morris Endeavor, remaining there through April 2007 as a television literary agent. “I represented writers, directors and producers for TV,” Hawthorne-Castro said, helping clients work on shows including “Lost,” various iterations of the “Law & Order” franchise, and “Entourage.” She was particularly fond of the latter because she had “lived that real-life story, because I had worked for Ari Emanuel as an assistant.” Emanuel, said to be the real-life inspiration for “Entourage” character Ari Gold, is now the co-chief executive of William Morris Endeavor.

Find your mentor
Some people hope to be discovered by higher-ranking employees who will advise and promote them. That’s way too iffy for Hawthorne-Castro. “You need to kind of self-select a mentor,” she said. “So, finding someone at partner level or management level, I think, is always critical: working hard, improving yourself and making their life easier so that they want to bring you up the ranks.”

Unusual step
Her next gig was with Hawthorne Direct, her father Tim’s company. It had been an infomercial pioneer when that advertising platform was wildly popular in the last century but was struggling in the digital age. She was coming in to help but wasn’t sure it made sense because it involved a substantial pay cut. “No one just stops being an agent if you’re successful, right? No one. Maybe they do so more now, but, they certainly didn’t 10, 15 years ago, unless you were kicked out.”

Working with dad
Hawthorne-Castro also wasn’t sure she would work well with the boss. “My father and I were fairly reluctant because we never thought we would work together,” she said. Hawthorne-Castro worked her way up through the company, from vice president of operations and client services to chief operating officer. She became the company’s chief executive in May 2014.

Disruptive
“I just worked harder than everyone, just set the pace that no one had ever seen. And so it was a pretty natural. No one told me to take over the company or take on these roles,” Hawthorne-Castro said. “Whatever I’m doing, whether it’s a board or organization, I just naturally kind of start kicking things over, seeing where the holes are and kind of organizing the troops.”

Know the biz
“Working your way, seeing all aspects, is really important,” Hawthorne-Castro said, especially if the task involves a sharp change in direction. “I saw from the very beginning what was good, what was working and what needed to be improved. And there’s nothing that anyone can run by me, or get past me,” she said. “It definitely kind of gives you the bulletproof way of operating, that you know all aspects of it.”

New model
In an advertising campaign for Home Advisor, Hawthorne-Castro’s company focused on the unanticipated problems that can suddenly happen around the home; “vignettes were used,” according to her company website’s case studies, “to create humorous problem/solution scenarios at multiple time lengths.” For Credit One, the idea was more psychological. Knowing that credit card customers hate giving out personal information, Hawthorne Direct “portrayed a world where everyone asks for ‘too much information,’ and then shared a more private and secure credit card experience.”

Leadership style
“I give people a lot of leeway,” Hawthorne-Castro said, “but I also expect a lot of out of them. So, there’s always going to be problems or things to improve, in anything — in life or in business — and that’s fine. So I’m always looking for how to do things better, but don’t just come with your complaints, come with your suggestion” on how things can be improved.

Personal
Hawthorne-Castro has been married to husband James Castro for 17 years. Their son Braden, 7, “aspires to be a magician at the Magic Castle” in Hollywood. When she’s not working, she loves to travel. “Traveling is really, really one of probably my biggest passions,” she said. “I don’t get to do it quite as much as I would like to, especially since my son has been born. But I think I’ve been to all the continents, except for Antarctica, and 130 countries at this point.”

11 Experts Share Top Impacts From AR And VR

AR and VR aren’t just for tech industries anymore. This technology is branching out into other sectors, so the impact of VR and AR will be widespread. Within the agency and marketing industries, there are many ways that this tech could be and is being used. Some ideas may be further off than others, but it’s a good idea to keep up with the potential and current trends.

We’ve asked 11 experts from Forbes Agency Council to share the top impacts of VR and AR that they have seen or think they will see within the agency and marketing sectors. See what they have to say here.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

1. Impact In Selling Experiences

Marketing professionals have to be on the cutting edge of tech innovations in order to spot opportunities for their clients. AR and VR can make a big difference for businesses that sell experiences. Whether it’s a hotel, an entertainment park, a wedding venue or a university, brands can recreate the setting with VR to give a taste of the experience and save time for their customers. – Inna Semenyuk, InnavationLabs

2. Lower Cost In Sharing Product

VR has changed the way that we view reality as well as the way that we view marketing. Recently, while in a showroom in Beverly Hills, I came in contact with a hologram model of a car. One thing that is helpful about this VR application is that there is a lower cost in sharing your product with an audience. No physical production is required with VR. – Jon James, Ignited Results

3. Delivering A Sense Of Community

I believe we are seeing a shift in consumers who are desiring a community that has been placed behind vanity metrics and personas due to the nature of social media. AR and VR have the ability to deliver this type of community and it will be interesting to see how people react to the use of this media type. – Sarah Remesch, 270M

4. Showstopping Demos

VR and AR are becoming increasingly popular in trade shows as a way to attract traffic to booths and demonstration areas. When visitors see the VR and AR demonstrations, they want to be a part of it and “see” what’s happening for themselves. In health care, which is our agency’s focus, this is particularly important for medical devices and new technologies. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications

5. Transforming The Music Industry

It is only a matter of time before augmented reality takes over the music industry. We’ve seen many great examples of AR and VR transforming the music experience at live events, such as Coachella. My prediction is that music fans and artists will soon be connected through AR platforms to create a unique experience, providing an unparalleled connection between the artist and their fans. – Raffi Keuhnelian, INexxus

6. Dissolving Implicit Bias

The power of VR is that you can literally see the world from someone else’s shoes. As the world tries to break down barriers and implicit biases, VR will be used more to help people understand what it’s like to be another race, age, gender or sexual orientation. Sensitivity training via VR will hopefully open our eyes to our pre-existing biases and be more open to any minority group. – Emily Porter, Havas Formula

7. Increased Brand Engagement

Virtual reality holds incredible potential in brand engagement across the retail, commercial and entertainment sectors. It also holds promise for B2B marketers, particularly in creating engagement on the trade show circuit. We’re already seeing this with Progressive’s Lake Dash VR Experience and Samsung’s Moon for All Mankind. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

8. Increased Brand Awareness

The very nature of VR is extremely visual and immersive, which means companies will need to build their brand even more. Users will need to instantly recognize your brand because you cannot offer them an experience that is like an advertisement. The experience should be akin to a video game, which means it needs to be fun and interesting. If done right, they will associate it with your brand. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing

9. Virtual Advertising

Right now, AR and VR are used in very specific event marketing or defined spaces where you can experience a brand element or launch. Eventually, AR and VR will come into the general marketplace in the form of 3D or hologram billboards, in-car advertising with autonomous vehicles, etc. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC.

10. Heightened Experiences

Just as the internet changed everything and nothing, we predict VR and AR will do the same for marketing. The rules will still apply — know your audience and educate or entertain them to build a brand. VR and AR are starting to allow us to do that in new, immersive ways. Buyers’ interactions and experiences during their journey will be heightened and the expectations on marketers will be as well. – Patricia Rioux, Team ODEA

11. Try Before You Buy

AR and VR have been elevating the “try before you buy” e-commerce experience, helping buyers make more informed decisions. Not sure if that couch will match your decor? Point your phone and tap for a virtual taste before you schedule that delivery date. Can’t tell if those shoes are the right match? VR and AR lets you get up close and personal before you decide. – Bernard May, National Positions

14 Tips For Agencies On How To Promote Themselves

Agencies know how to market, but they often forget to do the same with their own company. It’s imperative that agencies remember to market themselves; otherwise how will they get more clients and continue to be successful? While this seems like an easy thing to, it can be difficult to set aside time for these sorts of tasks.

We’ve asked 14 Forbes Agency Council experts to share their best tips for how agencies can market and promote themselves. See their suggestions below.

Promote Your Agency

1. Make Yourself A Client

It’s incredibly challenging to prioritize “unpaid” work over paid work. However, it’s imperative to keep marketing yourself or there won’t be any more paid work! One of the best ways we’ve achieved this is by making ourselves a client. Schedule meetings with team members to brainstorm and don’t reschedule them. Then, schedule the work in the weekly schedule along with all other paid projects. – Chelimar Miranda, iHealthSpot

2. Be Authentic With Your Content

Successful agencies are those that build fantastic client relationships, and those can only be built when your team is authentically themselves with each interaction. When creating marketing material, give consideration to whether the tone sounds phony. If it does, that’s a good sign that it’s not representative of you. – Catherine Seeds, Ketner Group Communications

3. Self-Promote

Never skip an opportunity to self-promote. If you are presented with an opportunity to be part of a reputable blog, podcast, interview, article or news story, take it. The value of your brand is reliant on the perception of it. Positive perception is built through repeated strong performance, referral and, ultimately, visibility. Do good work and take every chance to get your name out there. – Lucas Miller, Moment Creative

4. Empower Your Employees

One of the most underutilized resources at many agencies is its employed media — the people. Give your agency the tools and encourage them to share what they love about the agency, the city/cities you operate in, their work, etc. Empower them to use social media, blogs, podcasts and industry events to organically spread the word about who you are and what you stand for. – Blair Brady, WITH/agency

5. Be Consistent

One of the problems we had early on is we weren’t consistent. It is consistency and persistence that pays off long term when promoting your agency. Make it a priority to be one of your own clients, but you have to keep sharing the message. That is where the magic happens over the long-term. – Justin Christianson, Conversion Fanatics

6. Remember You’re A Brand, Too

We sometimes are so focused on client work that we forget to take care of our own branding, but agencies are brands, too. They should have the same branding and communications standards that their clients do. Staff should understand the agency’s core value proposition, its mission, reason for being and differentiation. The same rules for consistently communicating those elements apply, as well. – Fiona Bruder, George P. Johnson (GPJ) Experience Marketing

7. Focus On In-Person Networking

When your agency becomes successful, you start relying on organic lead generation and forget to promote your agency. This comes up often at cocktail parties and social engagements when people simply ask, “What do you do?” One tip is to always have an exciting and non-salesy answer to that question. So many people are looking for quality marketing nowadays. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize

8. Show Who You Are

It’s great to showcase your work, but companies also like to get a feeling of the company’s culture as well. Use your social pages to not only promote work being done but also the team behind all of that effort. Put faces to your agency so that others can see the human side of the company and who they may be working with if they sign with you. – Rebecca Kowalewicz, Clearbridge Branding Agency

9. Promote Your Clients

The best way to promote your own company is to promote your clients. If you’re in PR or strategic communications, for example, don’t talk about how awesome you are. Talk about a major client win that your services helped achieve. Not only does it follow the axiom of “share credit, shoulder blame” that good people appreciate in all walks of life, it also demonstrates real results, not platitudes. – Brian Reisinger, Platform Communications

10. Leverage Testimonials

Use client case studies, testimonials and successes as a means of marketing yourself. As a professional services agency, the best way to build a marketing strategy is by tethering it to your clients’ achievements in smart ways. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

11. Test Ideas On Yourself First

Your internal marketing needs a team just like any other client. Agencies need to remember that they are setting their own example, and they will be their longest-running, most important client. They must be willing to test the latest and greatest strategies on themselves first and foremost. Treat your company just as you would any other paying client — with care. – Bernard May, National Positions

12. Showcase Your Culture

Besides an agency’s accolades or awards, showcasing the company culture and the strength of its employees helps give the agency a living identity. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

13. Practice What You Preach

You can make the most amazing, dynamic content for your clients, you can be the best of the best, but if you don’t practice what you preach, it can hurt you. Audiences reflect on your content as recommendations. If you produce and display strategies and tactics for your clients that you aren’t in some way using for yourself, why would they trust it? To truly resonate, you need to lead by example. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media

14. Share Case Studies

You get great results for your clients, so be sure to capture those stories — especially when supported by outcomes such as increased share of voice, shorter sales cycles and increased customers — as case studies. You can add these client success stories to you agency proposals and presentations, capture them on video during in-person meetings, post on your website and promote on social media. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications

12 Things A Business Can Do To Project Authenticity

Customers now are all about giving their business to companies they can trust and that they feel are authentic. In order to build that trust, you have to engage with your audience in a way that also builds your authenticity. While it may be tempting to look at what other companies have done, you have to make sure that you stay true to your company; otherwise you are going to ruin whatever trust you’ve built.

To help you with this important task, we’ve asked 12 experts from Forbes Agency Council to share what your business should do to project authenticity and build good relationships with consumers.

Project Authenticity

1. Be Careful What You Automate

There’s a fine line to walk with automation. As a business, you have to automate some communication to keep up with the digital pace of competitors, but choose wisely. Having human moments within your funnels will counteract the feeling customers get of being ushered through a digital queue. As far as the communication that is automated, please just write like a human being. – Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged

2. Be Transparent About Progress And Issues

One of the largest shocks in the market recently has been the lack of authenticity that has been coming through for all of the companies and outlets. One thing that is really capable of making a real difference is being transparent about your company’s progress and issues. There are positive and negative ways to paint all news — the key is honesty. – Jon James, Ignited Results

3. Build Relationships With Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers, those with 5,000 to 150,000 followers, are a great way to strengthen the relationship between your brand and consumer because of their authenticity. Having influencers create their own content with their own message around your product can establish trust. That content can be posted on their social media channels and can be repurposed in your other paid, earned and owned channels. – Maria Sipka, Linqia

4. Focus On Your Customers Over Your C-Suite

Beat the press to it by delivering on your brand promise and capturing it on video for your website. Give a voice to your employees and the communities you’re involved in. How has your contribution impacted their lives? By moving the spotlight from the C-suite to the people you affect, you’ll differentiate yourself from the pack, show that you walk the walk and convey your authenticity. – Howard Breindel, DeSantis Breindel

5. Create A Brand Narrative

Have a clear vision of why your brand exists and define your mission and values. Then, create a brand narrative that is based on the essence of who your are. Once you have defined your storytelling line, find your tone of voice and share your message with a clear and consistent format. Make sure that your story has personality, so your audience will remember it and connect it to your brand. – Daniela Pavan, The Ad Store New York

6. Utilize Guided Conversations Over Scripts

Consider moving away from committee-scripted storytelling. There are better ways to communicate key insights, understanding and clear directions to customers. We sometimes use news-oriented techniques such as interviewing “customers like you” in guided conversations designed to naturally and authentically reveal common problems and solutions. This approach can be quite natural and effective. – Rick Kupchella, The Informed Engagement Network (i.e. network)

7. Interact With Customers On Social

Use social media to establish authentic relationships by being proactive and an active listener. Listen to the conversations online and provide solutions, show empathy, address concerns and use social media the way it should be used: socially. These channels give brands the opportunities to communicate their humanity and resonate with consumers and perspective customers. – Lauren Shirreffs, 2Social Agency

8. Always Represent The Company

Whatever you’re doing — if you’re on social media, walking from your car, attending a conference or in line for a coffee — you’re a manifestation of the company. Who hasn’t had a “rude server experience” that has made you write that restaurant off forever? The lesson is, always assume your actions speak for the company and make those actions reflect positively on the brand you care about. – Dustin Iannotti, artisansonfire.com

9. Get Involved With The Community

The best way for companies to establish trust with consumers is to get involved with their communities. Companies that support arts and cultural groups or have days of service show that they are a part of the places where they live and work. Giving back and helping to build stronger communities shows social responsibility and helps to earn trust. – Henry Kurkowski, One WiFi

10. Show Real Customers

Showing real-life customers who are passionate about a brand, not just paid influencers, is more authentic to a brand and will connect with the everyday audience — not just the aspirational audience. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

11. Stick To Your Brand’s Mission

Stick to your brand’s mission through thick and thin. Don’t waver or flop based on what others are doing or saying unless you truly feel that this change is in line with your brand, more so than your previous values. Don’t catch someone else’s train — drive your own, and continue to prove your worth at every opportunity. Remember, carbon copies are not authentic. – Bernard May, National Positions

12. Put Thought Into Your Content

In the professional services space, thought leadership is still the best strategy for creating trust with prospects. But, the content marketing craze has degraded the quality of thought leadership as companies prize timeliness over thoughtfulness. If you want to create trust, talk to your audience (not at them) on topics that matter to them. Timeless content beats timely content every time. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

EY announces Jessica Hawthorne-Castro of Hawthorne Advertising as Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2019 Award winner in Greater Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES,  July  9, 2019/PRNewswire/ —

EY announced on June 21st that Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, received the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2019 Award in the Transformational Leader category in Greater Los Angeles. As the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur Of The Year recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities, while also transforming our world. Hawthorne-Castro was selected by an independent panel of judges, and the award was presented at a special black-tie awards gala at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on June 20, 2019.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro EY Award
EY announces Jessica Hawthorne-Castro of Hawthorne Advertising as Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2019 Award winner in Greater Los Angeles

“It is an incredible honor to be chosen as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Winner in the Transformational Leader Category,” said Hawthorne-Castro. “It is unbelievable that Tim Hawthorne received the EY Award nearly 20 years ago in the Midwest region and the tradition continues with Hawthorne doing groundbreaking work for our amazing clients and our exceptional team members who make it all possible!”

Hawthorne’s innovative approach combines the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics to create meticulously crafted and expertly executed campaigns that deliver dramatic results for clients. Hawthorne has won hundreds of creative awards over its nearly 35 year tenure, and since 2018, Hawthorne has won over 60 awards for its creative work and company culture, and Hawthorne-Castro has won dozens of awards for her leadership abilities and marketing influence.

“These inspiring entrepreneurs represent the leadership and brilliant ideas that drive growth and innovation in Greater LA,” said Scott Porter, Co-Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year in Greater Los Angeles. “It has been especially exciting to witness L.A.’s burgeoning entrepreneurial scene over the years. We’re delighted to celebrate these incredible innovators who have done so much for our community and our economy, and we’re grateful to be a part of the journey.”

Now in its 33rd year, the Entrepreneur Of The Year program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 145 cities and more than 60 countries. EY is at the forefront of identifying game-changing business leaders and celebrating American ingenuity and is considered the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The program has honored the inspirational leadership of companies including Starbucks, Whole Foods, eBay, LinkedIn, Dollar Shave Club, LegalZoom.com and HSN.

To learn more about the Greater Los Angeles program, please visit www.ey.com/us/eoy/greaterla. Join us in congratulating this year’s winners on social media by following @EY_EOYUS and using #EOYGLA

About Hawthorne: 
Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With nearly 30 years of proven excellence, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns. Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target their consumers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize the lifetime value of a brand’s customers, and even drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. As a leading analytic and data driven, accountable brand advertising agency, Hawthorne specializes in integrated campaign solutions. The company offers a full suite of integrated solutions with creative, media, digital and mobile services. Hawthorne maintains brand integrity and metrics to efficiently and effectively optimize the results of its clients’ integrated media budgets via leading edge and proven data analytics. Hawthorne has developed successful award-winning campaigns for countless Fortune 500 brands. Please visit www.hawthornedirect.com and http://www.linkedin.com/company/hawthorne-direct for more information.

About Entrepreneur Of The Year® 
Entrepreneur Of The Year®, founded by EY, is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries. ey.com/eoy

Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored by SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In Greater Los Angeles local sponsors include Platinum sponsor: Marsh; Gold sponsor: Tangram; Silver sponsors: Ballard Spahr LLP, Boston Private Bank, and Cresa; Media sponsor: C-Suite Media; and PR sponsor: Olmstead Williams Communications

About EY 
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation is available via ey.com/privacy. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

CONTACT: Rachel Wille, 507-403-9347, rwille@sspr.com

 

Understaffed In The Summer? 13 Tips For Managing Employees’ Work When They’re On Vacation

There are bound to be periods of time, especially in the summer, when a lot of your employees are on vacation or otherwise out of the office. While this is expected, it is still something that needs to be planned ahead for to ensure that everything that needs to get done still gets done.

If you are too short-staffed, work can start to pile up, and you may need to decide to implement some new rules regarding out of office (OOO) time and the preparation leading up to it. To help you figure out what’s best for your company, we’ve asked 13 experts from Forbes Agency Council to share their advice for managing employees’ work when they’re gone.

On Vacation

1. Always Stay Organized

If you are disciplined daily and organized, you are ready to hand over files to others to manage or take on items to cover for others. At iMPR we have an OOO document organized by client, contacts, projects, and links. This document is shared with a team assigned to look after the various initiatives in motion so it does not bog down any one individual. – Ilissa Miller, IMiller Public Relations

2. Prepare Reliable Freelancers Ahead Of Time

You may find your business normally dips in the summer months, and your staff naturally wants more time off. That’s great, but you’ll still need to be prepared with coverage if work ramps up. If you don’t already have a stable and reliable group of freelancers at your disposal, then start bringing in extra help in the spring. This will help you identify keepers that you want to put on speed dial. – Kenny Eicher, The CSI Group

3. Use A Task Management Tool

Our team uses the task management program Asana every day. You can set recurring tasks for things that need to be done daily, weekly or monthly and you can create one-off tasks and organize everything under a project umbrella. When employees are on vacation, it’s easy to reassign tasks to other employees managing work while they’re out. This ensures nothing falls through the cracks. – Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

4. Be Proactive And Flexible

People can be reactionary in management, but I prefer to be proactive by creating a culture that prioritizes personal accountability. No one likes a micromanager, and we give our team members the flexibility to get their work done at home or the office and trust them to meet their deadlines. When teams have the freedom to make their own choices, they are more productive, engaged and happier. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners

5. Use Your Agency For Backup

It’s challenging to hand off long-tail programs such as thought leadership, public relations, content marketing and social media engagement to contractors, assistants or interns. Fall back on the team that you worked with to get there—your agency. They can likely provide a flexible budget for summertime coverage, and they have deep knowledge of all the moving parts to keep up the velocity. – Serenity Thompson, A23 Advisors

6. Be Transparent And Collaborate

We have a channel within which all company employees see everyone’s scheduled vacation time, including management; this helps with transparency and internal workflow distribution. This transparency allows employees to collaborate and take care of the priorities and hard deadlines before they leave for their time off and allows management to distribute the tasks evenly with achievable deadlines. – Ally Spinu, USA Link System

7. Utilize Automation

Take advantage of your own marketing automation by setting up email auto-responses and message forwarding to the appropriate team members. If you work with clients, be sure to get organized and let them know if they’ll be hearing from someone new in the interim. Prepare, plan and prosper, no matter who’s out of the office. – Bernard May, National Positions

8. Build A Team Atmosphere

Employees who have little connection to one another look at covering someone else’s work while they’re on vacation as a burden. Those who feel the camaraderie with their co-workers see it more as doing a favor for a friend. Build a team atmosphere, where we’re all in it together and everyone gets a real chance to get away, and those busy months will go much more smoothly. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications

9. Establish Regular Meetings

Vacations overlap the most during summer, but OOO coverage is relevant all year. Establish processes before the summer crunch hits. Even in the most siloed organization, one function’s work impacts the others. Staff are more apt to cover for colleagues when they see how functions intersect. Establish frequent, cross-functional status meetings and include vacation coverage on the agenda. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

10. Stagger Time Off

If there is a concern that your business may suffer if too many employees go on vacation at the same time, then stagger how many people can leave at once. Your team might be frustrated by the slight limitation, but ultimately will understand that the business also can’t be short-staffed. – Zachary Binder, Bell + Ivy

11. Use The ‘Buddy System’

Every employee in our agency has a defined “buddy on backup” when they go on vacation. The reciprocal notion of a buddy system inspires a true “you got my back, I got yours” mentality. We feel very strongly that vacation should be just that—a time to get away from all work activities. Knowing someone on your team has everything handled allows that to happen. – Danica Kombol, Everywhere Agency

12. Plan Ahead

Preplanning is key, so be sure to generate a consolidated OOO calendar for all employees, across all departments, in advance at the beginning of the summer. The project management team can then plan for resources and timelines in advance of travel and/or team members being out of the office. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

13. Coordinate And Communicate

Everyone is entitled to time off, and they deserve it! One way to ensure work doesn’t get lost or deadlines are missed is to over-communicate and coordinate coverage. Ensure colleagues know the dates, have access to files and references and clearly understand where they can help while others are out. Also, you can add dates to your calendar and invite colleagues so they have a gentle reminder. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

12 Top Strategies For Agency Execs To Support Remote Staff

Whether it’s through the occasional partnership with a freelance contractor, associates traveling for work or a company policy allowing staff to work part- or full-time from home, many agencies operate with remote staff. It’s a valuable way to maintain flexibility and manage brisk workloads, and the ability to work remotely some or all of the time is a desirable perk for many professionals.

Still, agency executives must be able to guide and monitor their staff no matter where they are, so it’s important to develop a strategy that works for your business’ unique needs. To help, we asked 12 experts from Forbes Agency Council to share their strategies for supporting remote staff.

1. Treat Everyone The Same

This working environment can be challenging for everybody for a couple of reasons. You don’t want your remote employees to feel like they are excluded, but you also don’t want your in-house staff to feel like they do more work. Treating everyone the same is key. This means discussing work-related processes in a single software, having weekly video call meetings, etc. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

2. Promote A Policy Of Teamwork

Making everyone feel a part of the team is imperative. Consider weekly status updates through video conferencing (Google Hangouts, UberConference) for project updates and team interactions. For daily communication, employ easy-access file sharing, such as Slack. Agency executives have to ensure they have a policy in place for expectations, turnaround times, confidentiality and availability. – Lauren Shirreffs, 2Social Agency

Support Remote Staff

3. Hold Weekly Meetings

Don’t forget about them! Touch base in weekly meetings, even when teams are working remotely. Even short, standing meetings where everyone is expected to contribute can keep those who are working remotely in tune with your overall goals as a company. The least supportive thing you can do is forget they exist. Think: “Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” not: “Out of sight out of mind.” – Bernard May, National Positions

4. Have Informal And Formal Check-Ins

Working remotely can be a great model, but communication is key. It is important to connect informally and formally. We use video calls to make us feel more connected. Direct managers have weekly one-on-ones with their teams. I meet with every team member about every three months to check in and see how they are doing. I also ping people regularly on Slack to check in, thank them or give accolades. – Gina Michnowicz, The Craftsman Agency, A Union+Webster Company

5. Keep Everyone In The Loop For Motivation

Communication is key. Always keep employees in the loop every step of the way with constant motivation. With motivation, employees give their best to accomplish your company’s goals. – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

6. Pick Up The Phone

Managing remote staff requires a conscious effort to foster a team environment. I found what worked best was a personal approach and picking up the phone. Tools like Slack are a must, but I found it far more effective to pick up the phone and call each member of my team as often as possible, even for small and quick questions. It made them feel like they were right down the hall and very supported. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

7. Include Everyone In Company Activities

As an owner of a fully remote agency, I know the importance of remote culture. It’s vital to include remote employees in all company activities, whether it’s internal training, project stand-ups or fun gatherings. Services like Zoom make it easy to do so via video conference. While they are not in your physical office, remote employees are still a part of your team, so treat them as such. – Brad Williams, WebDevStudios

8. Ensure Timely And In-The-Moment Communication

We deal with remote or traveling staff on a daily basis, so having the proper communication platforms or timing and cadence in place is key. Making sure people have access to IM platforms, email, and sharable documents and drives allows for streamlined communication and presentation materials. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHAWTHORNE LLC

9. Engage In Social Interests

Have a continuous social activity that breeds competition and that everyone is engaged in to fill the “small talk and getting to know each other” gaps outside of work. March Madness and fantasy sports are easy ones, and my female employees love the added benefit of rubbing it in when they end up winning every year. – Patrick Haddad, Oopgo, Inc.

10. Use Intelligent Video Conferencing

We always make sure that remote employees feel connected to their teams at headquarters. We are big on team meals and encourage employees to join in when we have lunch together. We’ve just purchased an intelligent video conferencing tool that makes it seem as though our remote employees are right there in the room with us! Having the ability to “see” them has been great for morale all around. – Catherine Seeds, Ketner Group Communications

11. Stress The Core Mission

We all have to rely on other people to deliver what’s been promised to clients. We need experts with the judgment skills to know when to forge ahead completely alone and when to involve others. The more they understand the core mission, the better equipped they are to make those judgment calls. Leaders need to over-communicate on the mission and then let people do what they do best. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

12. Share Daily Agendas

We went entirely virtual two years ago and we love it!  After 14 years, it was a big change, but it has opened new opportunities. We prepared for going virtual by encouraging team members to work from home one to three days per week for almost a year in advance of closing the office. Our most important new practice is that each team member sends a short “agenda” email to the entire staff each day. – Craig Klein, SalesNexus.com

Manage Smarter 74: How to Reach the C-Suite Sooner

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO and owner of Hawthorne Advertising. an award-winning technology-based advertising agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand campaigns.

Link to Episode

 

In this episode, Audrey, Lee and Jessica discuss:

  • How she rose from the mail room of a talent agency to the C-Suite
  • The #1 mistake managers make regarding goal setting and planning
  • Advice to young professional women aspiring to be in the C-Suite
  • Why taking initiative can unlock the keys to career success
  • Hot trends in advertising and marketing

“Your company is your employee. We’re moving towards data, analytics and automation but still it’s the people behind all those programs. The employees and culture are the most important thing to any company.

– Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Eight Agency Pros Predict Upcoming Uses Of Virtual Reality In Marketing

When virtual reality (VR) technology first came on the scene, it was expensive and usually limited to niche uses like gaming. Since then, VR has exploded on the scene across multiple industries and has multiple applications.

Are marketing and advertising next? According to experts in the industry—yes! Below, eight members of Forbes Agency Council share some of the things that they predict VR will bring to advertising and marketing.

1. Added Traffic At Events

We’ve seen VR bring real value when it comes to driving event traffic. At events, VR can quickly tell your brand’s story in an engaging, immersive way. For products that are too large to bring to a trade show, VR allows users to experience them firsthand. You can also use a VR experience of a given location to entice the user to go experience it in reality. – Sarah Mannone, Trekk

2. Tangible Brand Stories

The opportunity for VR is making the brand experience, traditionally communicated in words and visuals, tangible for the consumer. It reminds me of childhood cartoons when the character would step into the TV and become part of whatever he or she was watching. Advertising can build awareness and pique interest, but VR can make a story come alive and be deeply personal because it’s uniquely experienced. – Edward Hoffman, Padilla

3. Promotion Launches

Virtual reality is effective for on-site experiential marketing, which can typically promote a launch of a large new initiative (new car, movie, TV show or branding initiative). Users can personally interact with the promotion or brand via “mixed reality” or 4D virtual reality, becoming more ingrained in the initial experience and leading to strong media impressions. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

4. A Perfect Partnership With Augmented Reality

VR and AR tech combined will make the most impact in 2019. The futures of these technologies are tied together. While VR will continue to grow in the content marketing sector, both technologies need each other to have a full impact in the ad industry. AR has the virtual element without leaving the real world—consumers would need to have that experience for a successful VR/AR campaign. – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

5. Emotional Consumer Responses

VR will allow us to immerse our market in experiences like never before. This will allow us to communicate with consumers on an emotional level through the environments and circumstances we create. VR is the ultimate tool for visual and experiential brand communication, as we can place our target markets directly into the message we want to create in order to drive an emotional response. – Michael Smith, iTribe Social Inc.

6. Expanded Previews For Automotive And Travel Customers

Virtual reality technology is tailor-made for industries like auto and travel, where the sale is often based on an expected experience versus consumption. Expanding the trial or preview experience from the limits of a showroom or an actual flight can prove to be compelling and generate a new segment of customers outside of a geographic range. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

7. ‘Impossible’ Experiences

While the original fuel for VR (at least in the media) was heavy on the gaming side, VR has been seeing a ton of movement in “experiences.” It can make the “impossible” possible: skiing in Aspen, visiting the Andes or even walking on the moon. Or imagine if before taking a cruise you could experience it in VR first. I can see travel and entertainment having huge commercial opportunities for VR. – Bernard May, National Positions

8. Glimpses Of The Future

While VR is becoming more commonplace in advertising, we still see real value in the experiential space. VR allows brands to elevate an in-person experience, allowing consumers to engage with current and even futuristic products. For example, automotive manufacturers can share their concept cars via VR, allowing consumers to fully experience the vehicle without the need to develop a physical car. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing