Job Alert: Senior Graphic Designer September 13, 2012 No Comments

If you’re an out-of-the box strategic thinker, energetic idea generator and master of all things creative, keep reading…

Job Title: Senior Graphic Designer

Location: Fort Worth, Texas

Term of Employment: Part-time

Salary: Dependent Upon Qualifications

Position Description:

We are looking for an experienced designer with a background in both print and Web. As Sr. Graphic Designer, you will be responsible for creative development from concept, design and production. Candidate must be a seasoned creative pro with the ability to design for a range of clients and target audiences and handle projects varying in urgency, tactical execution and style.  You will be expected to bring ideas to the table as well as take concepts and ideas from others and execute them visually. Deliverables will be a blend of design of a wide range of print and digital applications including: brand identity, websites, blogs, brochures, posters, invitations, signage, flyers, postcards, proposals, reports, event invitations, e-newsletters, GIFs, emails, infographics, social media graphics, etc. You must have the ability to work independently and as part of a team and juggle multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment, with strong attention to detail.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Handle creative process from concept to completion
  • Develop a blend of print and Web deliverables for a variety of clients and target audiences
  • Manage and monitor project deadlines and workflow
  • Develop presentations in PowerPoint and Keynote and other deliverables to support business development and marketing efforts
  • Creative brainstorming and conceptualizing
  • Develop digital assets and Web graphics to support agency’s digital and social media efforts
  • Identify vendors, obtain quotes, coordinate and manage production of deliverables
  • Other design/creative responsibilities as needed for agency and clients

Qualifications:

  • Degree from an accredited college or university, with an emphasis on graphic design, advertising or related field
  • Minimum of 5 years of graphic design experience; agency experience is a plus
  • Highly proficient in Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop) is a must
  • Knowledge of HTML5/CSS is a major bonus
  • Photography and/or video skills are a plus
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office applications
  • Familiarity with a wide-range of Web and multimedia software and applications
  • Working knowledge of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
  • Candidate must be able to work off-site and travel, as well as work some evenings and weekend days

To Apply:

Please send a cover letter, resume and writing samples to Keisha Jones, Open Channels Group, 101 Summit Ave., Suite 208, Fort Worth, Texas 76102 or email officemanager@openchannelsgroup.com.

Job Alert: Senior Copywriter September 11, 2012 No Comments

We’re hiring a Senior Copywriter – could it be you?

Location: Fort Worth, Texas

Term of Employment: Full time

Salary: Dependent Upon Qualifications

Open Channels Group is a full-service public relations agency specializing in public participation, multicultural and digital communications. Within six years, we have become one of the leading agencies in the North Texas region.  PR industry authority, O’Dwyer’s recently ranked us the sixth top public relations firm in Texas. Our culture and investment in our employees has kept us at the top of our game, and has led us to be named a 2012 Vision Fort Worth 20/20 Award winner for best places to work. If you are an imaginative master of the written word, out-of-the box strategic thinker, and energetic idea generator, then Open Channels Group may be the place for you.

Position Description:

In this role, the candidate will develop website content on a variety of topics relating to the African American market for one of the agency’s multicultural clients. The candidate may also create content for the agency and/or other agency clients. The ideal senior copywriter will have the ability to provide creative ideas or concepts, as well as take an idea and give it substance, direction and content. The candidate must be a strong writer with the ability to craft clear and concise content in a short period of time. The candidate will possess strong interpersonal and communications skills and manage multiple projects in a fast-paced work environment.  The candidate must be comfortable working with autonomy and have the ability to set priorities and meet project deadlines.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Develop website content, including articles, blog posts, scripts and other content as needed
  • Craft titles and headlines that will grab readers’ attention
  • Brainstorm strategy and direction for website content
  • Ability to take assignments and direction, as well as come up with content ideas or concepts on their own
  • Conduct research to formulate content ideas and develop existing content
  • Keep up with trends relating to technology and the African American market
  • Work consistently and dependably under strict deadlines
  • Manage content calendar and work flow
  • Route content through legal and all other appropriate channels to ensure it receives necessary approvals
  • Manage quality control quality assurance process and make sure all edits are implemented
  • Support new business development and marketing efforts
  • Other copywriting responsibilities as needed for agency and other agency clients

Qualifications:

  • Four-year degree from an accredited college or university with emphasis on public relations, marketing, communications, journalism, and/or English.
  • Minimum of 5 years of copywriting experience; agency experience is a plus.
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office applications, the Internet, and social media platforms.
  • Candidate must be able to work off-site and travel, as well as work some evenings and weekend days.
  • Proficiency in AP Style is a plus.

To Apply:

Please send a cover letter, resume and writing samples to Keisha Jones, Open Channels Group, 101 Summit Ave., Suite 208, Fort Worth, Texas 76102 or email officemanager@openchannelsgroup.com.

The Perfect (brain)Storm September 4, 2012 No Comments

By Breanna Standifer

Brainstorm. For some, this word creates a sense of excitement – they jump at the chance to flex their creative muscles and participate in the collaborative process. For others, it makes them want to crawl in a hole and hide. It can be intimidating sitting in a room of people (some with double or triple your experience), sharing your ideas, fearing they will be picked apart or deemed unfit.

According to PSYBLOG Brainstorming Unloaded, the brainstorming process is more effective when you suspend evaluation and incorporate a relaxed atmosphere that encourages quantity over quality. A brainstorming session is supposed to foster creativity and create a sense of ownership among team members. Many times people slack off, dread the scrutiny their input receives, or while waiting, forget or dismiss their ideas.On the other hand, people who participate in the creative stage are likely to be more motivated during the implementation process.

Reload your brainstorming session with a few tips:

  • Notify your team early so they have time to develop ideas before the session
  • Choose an energetic facilitator that make people feel comfortable
  • Using several timed rounds, have participants write down their ideas
  • Share thoughts after each rounds so all ideas can be collaborated and built into better ideas
  • Encourage the group to write without thinking too much, that will hinder the creative process

Who said the best ideas were discovered in a brainstorm (the locations of my best ideas will never be disclosed)? But I can definitely say a brainstorm is a great start.

What are some of your positive and negative brainstorming experiences? What tips do you recommend to reload brainstorming sessions? I’d love to hear from you, comment below or tweet me @bmstandifer.

What’s all the hype? August 27, 2012 No Comments

In case you haven’t heard, China is the fastest growing economy in the world and second largest economy behind the U.S. There are more than 1.3 billion people who call China home.  Those of us in the people business understand the magnitude of those numbers. That’s why I spent 14 days in China visiting with other business owners and communications experts, to see what all the hype was about.

A lot of what you have heard is true. There is a lot of spending power in China and companies around the world are locating businesses in China to capitalize on those dollars.   However, as an owner of an American public relations agency, I discovered the road to business success in the public relations arena in China is not easy.  Yes, there are plenty of opportunities, but along with those opportunities come significant obstacles.   Here are a few obstacles I discovered:

  1. Good talent is hard to come by.  China is a relatively new economy and many of the communications professionals in China have not existed long, so training and expertise is limited, which creates an enormous gap for foreign companies looking to find good talent.
  2. Innovation/creativity is lacking.  I found this fact to be shocking because I’ve always heard that China was on the cutting edge of new technology.  And while this true, with all the government restrictions on the media and its citizens, China has found itself behind the eight-ball on new communication technology.
  3. Competition is fierce.   Yes, relatively speaking, China is a new economy, but as much as I hate to admit it, I was not the first to hear about it.  All the top 10 global advertising and public relations agencies have opened offices in the major China markets, Beijing and Shanghai.  There are plenty of agencies to choose from.

So, yes believe the hype. That’s way Nike, IBM, Wal-Mart, Fleishman Hillard, Ogilvy and Weber Shandwick have all successfully launched offices in China.  If you asked them, they would all tell you they took the road less traveled to get there and it was a bumpy ride.  Check out a few photos from my China trip below.

 

 

 

Time flies when you’re having fun! August 9, 2012 No Comments

By Andrew Matt

When we’re kids, we dream of being astronauts, firefighters, actors, pro athletes, rock stars or maybe the president. As childhood whirls by and the real world gets closer, most of us begin to be more realistic and just cross our fingers that we will actually end up enjoying our career.

I can’t even begin to say how much I’ve learned in the past 10 weeks while interning here at Open Channels Group, but the most important thing I’ve learned is that I chose the right field. I could make a way-too-long-to-put-in-this-blog list of things I’ve learned this summer about succeeding in PR, but those skills wouldn’t matter if during my internship I found that PR wasn’t for me. Not only have I gained invaluable experience and sharpened skills that will serve me for the rest of career, but I’ve had the time of my life!

Sometimes a lot of us forget that work can be FUN! Business world blasphemy, I know. Work and fun co-existing? Impossible says the C-suite! It doesn’t have to be that way though, and for the sake of your own sanity if nothing else, it shouldn’t be. This radical idea is gaining its strength from my generation as our priorities continue to shift away from those of our parents.

I come from a generation often referred to as the Millennials, but some are even calling it the Lost Generation. We are coming of age during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Last year, Derek Thompson of The Atlantic said, “a crisis that started in the housing market could wind up having the most lasting negative impact on the one generation that didn’t own any homes before the bust.”

Those in my generation are struggling to find good jobs, get married, become homeowners, and start families like never before. The hallmarks of success from the generations of our parents and grandparents are unattainable for many. However, there is something that we can offer to each other, and to past and future generations: a new definition of success… happiness.

Many of us still want the high salary and the fancy house, car and quality education, but we’re willing to put those on the back burner as long as we’re HAPPY, as long as we ENJOY going to work every day even if we only come home to ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese… that we eat in our room in mom and dad’s basement.

It is because of this reality that my internship experience here at Open Channels Group has been such a blessing. I got to do work that I found enjoyable and fulfilling, while working with an amazingly-talented, helpful and fun team. And they are successful in a sense that spans generations. They have attained the traditional hallmarks of success while being happy too.

So, the next time you go to work, remember to smile! As you try to make a living, don’t forget to make a life. Some are saying that happiness will be my generation’s definition of success, but it is something we should all strive to achieve. Hopefully you are doing what you enjoy, but no matter what try to enjoy what you do. If we’re going to dedicate 40, or 50 or 60 or however many hours of our week to something, make it meaningful, no matter how challenging that may be.

Spoken like a true Millennial, I know, but seeking a career that provides some happiness and fulfillment is a goal we can all share.

I find it hard to believe that my time at Open Channels Group for the summer has come to an end. It has been an incredible experience! I’ve learned so much about how to succeed in PR while working alongside people who have shown me that success and happiness can go hand in hand. So this is a sincere thank you to everyone at OCG that taught me countless lessons about working in the industry, but most importantly, for teaching me to never stop smiling. And that’s something that money can’t buy.

Living Room Conversations August 3, 2012 No Comments

By Breanna Standifer

Home is where the heart is. It’s an environment where people feel the most at ease and open to express themselves. A successful P2 strategy takes the comfort level of stakeholders into consideration. Living Room Conversations were created with these two things in mind. This P2 tool is a perfect blend of comfort and conversation that allows communication in a more relaxed environment. It is designed to connect people with different viewpoints, cover any issues that people care about, and can be applied to address a myriad of topics.

Kenneth Gergen, American psychologist and author of “An Invitation to Social Construction” describes civil discourse or public dialogue as “the language of dispassionate objectivity” that requires respect of the other participants. It neither diminishes the other’s moral worth, nor questions their good judgment; avoids hostility or excessive persuasion; and requires modesty and an appreciation for the other’s experiences. Living Room Conversations seeks to do exactly what Gergen suggests by creating forums where civil discourse is respectful, collaborative and solution-focused.

This P2 strategy can be summarized in six simple guidelines.

  1. Be curious and open to learning
  2. Show respect and suspend judgment
  3. Look for common ground
  4. Be authentic and welcome authenticity from others
  5. Be purposeful and to the point
  6. Own and guide the conversation

It’s important to stay open and innovative in this ever-changing industry so join the discussion and lay the foundation for effective communication. Co-host a Living Room Conversation or get creative and craft P2 strategies that parallel comfortable conversations in your living room.

What’s a Modern Roundabout? 2 Comments

By Stephen Fashoro

We’re not talking traffic circles here, people. Modern roundabouts are a completely different animal, and they’re coming to a city near you. Here’s what you need to know…

Urban planners are making pedestrian-friendly amenities a staple in their designs.  One such amenity is a modern roundabout.  When you hear the word roundabout, you may immediately think “traffic circle.” Although they are both round, there is a huge difference.  Traffic circles have high-speed entries, weaving in the circle, low capacity and many high-speed crashes. Whereas roundabouts require motorists to yield on entry, eliminate weaving, keep speeds low, have a high-vehicle capacity and crashes are few and minor.

The Federal Highway Administration associates the following benefits with the use of modern roundabouts to control traffic:

  • Improved safety
  • Reduced congestion
  • Decreased pollution and fuel usage
  • Cost efficient
  • Aesthetically pleasing

According to Roundabouts USA, the first modern roundabouts in the U.S. were constructed in Nevada in 1990. Since then, more than 23 states have implemented programs to construct roundabouts. Two of OCG’s clients, the Trinity River Vision Authority and City of Fort Worth are incorporating roundabouts in upcoming projects.

How to navigate a modern roundabout?

Modern roundabouts are hard to come by in the North Texas region. With the economic benefit, safety and efficiency of this contemporary traffic feature, we know that will change over the next few years. We want you to be ready when you encounter a modern roundabout, so here’s a quick tutorial – and as a bonus, we’ve included a video below.

When you approach the entrance to a roundabout, while in your vehicle, you will slow down and merge with traffic on the circulatory roadway (the roundabout) without stopping. Each entrance into the roundabout is controlled by a yield sign and once in the roundabout, drivers move slowly with traffic around the center island at speeds of 10 to 30 mph, depending on the size of the roundabouts. When you approach the desired exit, you will use the right turn signal and make the right turn needed to leave the roundabout.

See the roundabout concept in action!

 

Beyond the Walls No Comments

By Kimberly Sims

Not so long ago, governmental agencies were often the last to adopt creative and innovative techniques to engage their audiences.  The trusty public meeting and the stagnant website were the main tools used to gather input on vital issues.  But as many municipalities look to create meaningful, inclusive and transparent ways to engage the public, they are getting out of the council chambers and creating conversations via social media and other online tools. Two cities are successfully rewriting the rules of engagement and getting it right.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price has set a new standard when it comes to getting out and meeting her constituents.  She has literally taken the traditional town hall meeting on the road. The Tour de Fort Worth series is a way for those living and working in the City to connect with the Mayor and share ideas (and burn a few calories).   This is in stark contrast to meetings held in recreation centers and council chambers that run the risk of limiting the conversation.  This marriage of community and conversation has gone a long way in helping Mayor Price build trust in all corners of the community.

According to an online survey conducted by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, four out of five law enforcement officers use social media to help solve crimes and the City of Arlington has taken this to a new level by hosting Tweet Alongs.  Tweet Alongs allow Arlington Police Department’s (APD) Twitter followers to virtually experience a day in the life of a police officer. Because of its innovative use of social media, the department was recently honored by the Center for Digital Government with its 2012 Best of Texas Award.

In a recent article in the University of Texas at Arlington’s Shorthorn, Assistant Chief of Police James Hawthorne says the Tweet Alongs are “allowing the department to increase citizen involvement in public safety and crime prevention efforts and has played (sic) an important role in helping the agency achieve its goal of reducing crime in the city.”

In addition to a Twitter account, the APD has an active Facebook profile and YouTube channel.  Citizens are able to ask questions, receive information on upcoming events and crime alerts, and learn about the department’s activities in the community through these outlets. Take a look at the infographic below to see the different ways law enforcement is using social media.

Looking beyond the four walls of traditional community outreach and engagement is a simple and cost effective way to reach your audiences, build trust and implement meaningful and sustainable change. It gives those who cannot make a meeting or are uncomfortable with speaking in group settings an opportunity to insert their voice into the conversation.

Check out the client highlights section in this month’s Ink It Orange to see how we are helping our clients give voice to their stakeholders through public engagement strategies.

 

 

 

AP Style Words That Give Me a Headache July 31, 2012 1 Comment

By Stephen Fashoro

For public relations professionals, broadcasters and journalists, the AP Stylebook is considered the go-to manual for checking grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. As a writer, I’m often challenged when words are changed yearly to reflect AP Style. For example, one of the biggest changes that I can recall being discussed on Twitter, newsrooms and the OCG office was the change of the word website. Is it Web site or website? The AP Style guide officially refers to it as one word, not capitalized – website. And don’t forget, Web by itself is capitalized.

Below are some AP Style rules that give me a headache.

  • tweet – This word refers to when you send out a message on Twitter. Twitter is capitalized since it’s a proper noun, but “tweet” is lowercased.
  • Internet – The AP Style guide says Internet should always be capitalized.  If used in later references, you can refer to it as the Net. Pretty tricky.
  • best-seller  –  When I look at this word, it seems like it should be one word, “bestseller” – but the AP Stylebook says otherwise.
  • page view – I have always thought  page view should be one word, “pageview” – but the AP Style guide lists it as two words.
  • click-through – This spelling of the word makes sense to me, but I have seen it online as click-thru, which is not AP Style.
  • voice mail – Just looking at it, you would think it would be one word, “voicemail” – but the AP Stylebook separates the term.
  • “care” words – The AP Style guide has child care, hair care, skin care, health care etc., as two words. I am sure most of us have seen these words used as one word on TV and marketing materials. I won’t lie; sometimes I get tempted to make them one word.
  • Q-and-A  – This AP Style version of the word has always looked weird to me and I hope I am not the only person that feels that way. I have always thought it should be “Q&A” because that is how it is commonly used and written.

Comment below to let me know your thoughts about these AP Style words and share any other AP Style entries that give you a headache. I’d love to hear from you, tweet me at @stephenfashoro.

We’re looking for flipping sweet candidates for our fall internship! July 20, 2012 No Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a recent grad or top-notch college senior looking for an awesome internship for the fall? You’re in luck! We’re looking for talented candidates to apply for our fall PR internship. If that’s you (or someone you know), please keep reading to find out more and how to apply.

Open Channels Group is a full-service public relations agency specializing in public participation, digital and multicultural communications.  Our team values collaborative partnerships with our clients to help them connect with the diverse communities and customers they serve.  This one-year, paid internship is ideal for a highly motivated recent graduate looking to gain practical experience in the field of study related to public relations, communications, marketing, or journalism.

Duties:

Open Channels Group is looking for an intern to work with staff on a variety of client projects beginning in the fall. The candidate must be able to work at least 30 hours per week, and handle the following tasks:

  • Draft basic public relations materials including news releases, media alerts, fact sheets, client meeting summaries, status reports, and other materials as directed.
  • Carry out special and media event planning activities and arrangements as outlined by staff.
  • Provide digital and social media support.
  • Attend and participate in client and staff meetings as directed.
  • Develop and update media lists and other databases.
  • Perform basic news monitoring and assist in preparing coverage reports.
  • Assist in research for presentations and new business pursuits.
  • Participate in brainstorming and strategy sessions.
  • Perform administrative duties and functions as assigned.
  • Succeed in a fast-paced small office environment.

Qualifications:

The candidate should be a recent graduate (or top-notch college senior) with a degree focus in public relations, communications, marketing or journalism. Excellent writing and verbal communications skills are a must. The candidate should be a self-starter willing to learn and work on several projects at once. Results-oriented with willingness to take responsibility and initiative. Must have the ability to show good judgment and to effectively respond and problem solve.

To Apply:

Please email a cover letter, resume and writing samples to Keisha Jones at officemanager@openchannelsgroup.com or send to 101 Summit Ave., Suite 208, Fort Worth, Texas 76102.

For more information about Open Channels Group, please visit www.openchannelsgroup.com.

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