Welcome, Haley!

Haley Ruch has joined the Media Link family as a Marketing Assistant. She is currently working towards her bachelor’s degree in International Business, Marketing, Economics and French at Augustana College. Haley has been involved with numerous Augustana campus organizations:

• Advertising Development Club
• Greek Life
• Active Minds
• Entrepreneurial Center (EDGE)
• Varsity Softball team

When she’s not on the softball field, she enjoys playing guitar and travelling to foreign countries. Learn more about Haley here.


Government Contracting – Well Worth the Effort

Have you ever wondered why we have gained so many government certifications? There are several reasons:

Government Contracting
The public sector purchases goods and services, just like every other organization. In addition to making sure they get the best goods/services for the lowest price, the government is committed to supporting small disadvantaged businesses. You can consider this part of the government’s efforts to improve economic development. Prioritizing smaller businesses helps them compete against big players in the market and helps to even the playing field. It decreases market barriers, creates a catalyst for entrepreneurship and creates a more competitive and innovative marketplace.

Transparency
These certifications require a lengthy process that includes opening up to government entities, providing internal accounting, as well as the business owners’ private financial documents. The government wants to make sure only qualified individuals and businesses profit from this catalyst. At the same time, the government needs to make sure suppliers are financially responsible and able to perform the contract. Let’s not forget these goods and services are paid for by taxes, so making sure everyone benefits is vital.

We at Media Link, Inc. were just recently able to utilize our certifications to compete for a contract. The purchasing agency imposed a 30% set aside for small disadvantaged businesses. We were able to leverage our WOSB (woman-owned small business) and IL BEP (Business Enterprise Program) certifications to be eligible to apply. This entity was also eager to support veteran-owned businesses by imposing a 5% veterans’ goal. This created a unique opportunity to partner with another business and to compete for the contract together. Our partner was a small veteran-owned graphic agency that perfectly complements our services.

You can imagine how rewarding it was to get the award. Not only did this contract open us up to a new client, but finding a new partner makes both of us stronger. This contract resulted in the support of two small disadvantaged Illinois businesses. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in teaming up or just curious about the world of government contracting in general!


An Intern’s Perspective (Blake)

Before this internship, I had next to nothing in experience in the world of marketing and advertising, so I never realized how much work went into advertising for companies. When I first stepped into this internship role, it all just seemed very overwhelming between all the projects from social media to having to create proposals for every single place where we wanted to advertise. My co-workers made it very easy to figure everything out, because they all were more than willing to help out whenever I had questions.

I felt like a big part of the company, because I was able to help with projects such as creating proposals and creating advertising campaigns. Experiencing the unique challenges helped me tremendously when it comes to overcoming hurdles and advancing personally and professionally.

I know I will not forget this experience, because of how accommodating everyone was in order for me to get the most out of this time. I am extremely grateful for Natalie on taking a chance on me and for the rest of the team for helping me out whenever I needed it, even with the probably excessive questioning.


There’s A New Kid on the Block!

We first brought Gabriel on as an intern a little over a year ago where he quickly showed a penchant for humor and writing. Starting with just a few social media posts and blogs for clients, Gabriel quickly began writing full scripts for our clients’ radio and TV commercials, managing all of our clients’ social media and even drafting website text for the likes of Igor’s Bistro.

After the conclusion of his summer internship, we brought Gabriel on part-time to help out as a marketing assistant, while he finished his senior year at Augustana College here in Rock Island. He kept up his hard work, bringing on clients of his own and tackling the many tasks we threw at him with full force. As the school year began coming to a close we decided to make Gabriel a permanent member of the Media Link family. With great excitement Gabriel accepted and took the next step in his career in marketing and with Media Link.

Gabriel has already worked with a wide variety of clients, opening Media Link up to working with local musicians like Daniel Stratman. In his past, Gabriel worked as a research assistant for David Westman & Associates, LLC where his findings were published in FORUM Magazine. During his time at Augustana, he was the youngest member of a student lead committee to develop a strategic communication and business plan for the on campus Career Development Center (CORE) to help better integrate student workers and interns into projects within the Center, as well as provide them with an early platform for professional development. Gabriel also worked in the Augustana Entrepreneurial Center (EDGE Center), where he helped manage college social media accounts and assist fellow students in developing professional portfolios in the form of personal websites. Upon graduating from Augustana College, Gabriel received his Bachelor’s in Marketing, Political Science and Anthropology as well as a certificate in Non-Profit Leadership.

Gabriel also has an extensive professional music background. Working as the chief audio engineer at WAUG.fm he helped build a new recording studio and broadcast booth. Through WAUG he acted as the recording engineer for the podcast Personal Rejection Letter and has been running professional live audio for more than 7 years. Not to be left out of the action, Gabe enjoys playing guitar and bass in his own bands both in Peoria and the Quad Cities where he was a featured artist for the local music festival, Slough Fest. Whenever asked where his clear love of music comes from, he is always quick to tell stories about his father teaching him the roots and playing in bands together.

When he’s not working or playing music, you can find Gabe wrenching on his car, racing with the local SCCA Autocross group or building gaming and video editing computers with his friends.


The Unreachable Generation

You might think segmenting and defining your target audience is the most difficult step necessary to implement a successful marketing campaign, but this has changed tremendously when it comes to marketing to a younger audience. Nowadays, figuring out how to effectively reach younger generations is the new main challenge most of us face. The reason behind this is that we rely on user data to tell us who is using which platform when, where and how.

Millennials and especially Gen Xers, however, grew up in a quickly changing digital environment that made switching from one platform to the next as easy as never before. They grew up using chat rooms and social platforms like Myspace. Facebook then quickly became the new Myspace, followed by new platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Depending on their character and mood, teenagers and millennials switch between Pinterest, Tumblr and countless others. They might be using a mix of eight platforms one day and suddenly focus on their three favorites. Never has it been easier to abandon one for another thanks to smartphones and apps.

Tracking this generation is tricky, and where there is a lack of tracking, there is a lack of data. Without data, our decision-making process is impacted. Reaching this “Unreachable Generation” has become a major challenge, so we wanted to share a couple of sources we found useful:

“Forces of Change: The Unreachables,” Hearts & Science
“Reaching The ‘Unreachable’ Audience With Podcast Advertising,” Forbes
“Outside Voices: How Marketers Are Missing a Generation of ‘Unreachables’,” The Wall Street Journal


The Life of a Marketer

When people think of marketing firms they think commercials and billboards, but there is so much more beneath the surface that goes unnoticed.

To put into perspective what we do as a marketing firm starts at the top with creating our proposals for clients. Our process for constructing the best plan for our customers is rigorous. We know that this is your business. You have the final say in what is done. So, it is our job to not only give you the best options, but all the options (good and bad). From there, we will guide you to what we feel will reap maximum exposure and work with vendors to give you exactly what is needed.

That’s not all we do. After we confirm your advertisement placement; we monitor payments and work closely with our vendors to make sure your spots ran correctly. Since machines and humans aren’t perfect, it is not uncommon for TV Spots or Print Ads to be missed. When that happens, we work with stations/publications to ensure your Make Good commercials not only run, but are worth equal to or greater than the original commercial we placed.

But we don’t stop there. If you are hosting an event, we will make sure your message reaches not just people nearby, but anyone who is able to relate to your message. From posting to community calendars, to scheduling interviews with the press, we do all the back work to ensure your message is seen and heard quickly and concisely. After we get you the exposure, we will research your event, and note each reference to your event.

To ensure relativity for our clients, we also create an extensive list of online listings and the results we find about your business when researched. Many owners do not realize incorrect information about their business is on Google and can hurt their business. Our job is to go in, find those issues and contact the corresponding people to make the change.

Research isn’t the only thing we use with the internet. Social Media is one of the greatest tools ever created for marketers, but it doesn’t come without its fair share of problems. Part of our job is to post on your behalf and create specialized and personal messages to generate positive remarks and discussion about your business. Of course, there are occasional unnecessary comments on some posts, but don’t worry – we also handle your online crises management and ensure feedback posts receive a timely reply with a positive spin.

The final piece of the marketing firm puzzle is the analysis we put together for our businesses. We keep close record of all conversations, monthly reports, meetings or events and carefully decode and breakdown what happened, how well the campaign worked, and where can we make adjustments for the future.

To break it down, our job isn’t just to advertise for you. Our job is to make your message heard and drive more traffic and customers to your business. We don’t follow these steps too purely “go through the motions”, as marketers we know every step we take is necessary for the success of your business.


Diversity & Inclusion in Advertising

Diversity has been a regular topic at the Oscars, especially since there were only Caucasian acting nominees in both 2015 and 2016 – the first time since 1997. The 2018 Oscars additionally focused on the issue of gender equality and inclusion after Hollywood was hit hard by the #MeToo movement. Long story short: diversity and inclusion have become mainstream topics impacting all organizations and industries, including advertising.

Saturday Night Live just recently addressed the challenges of dealing with inclusion and PEPSI has already proven that advertisers will face distinct scrutiny about their actions.

We have assembled a couple of external, and partially controversial, sources with examples, opinions, and food for thought on diversity and inclusion in advertising. Needless to say, this selection does not reflect the opinions of the Media Link Team – it is intended to inspire, spark thoughts, and spur discussions about topics no marketing professional can avoid anymore.

Gender
“Gender equality movements in advertising are making gains,” THE DRUM
This article highlights several gender equality movements.
“Collections: Gender Equality in Advertising,” Ads of the World
This site presents ads addressing International Women’s Day.
“U.K. bans gender stereotypes in ads,” AdAge
This article highlights restrictions on gender stereotyping.
“Conservatives feel the least represented among media’s depiction of women,” Ad Age
This article highlights how political perspectives shape women’s receptivity to advertising.
“Agency exec on scarcity of LGBT people in ads: ‘People fear the bigoted minority’”, DIGIDAY
This interview focuses on the representation of LGBT people in advertising.

Race
“Different Ads, Different Ethnicities, Same Car,” New York Times
This article discusses Toyota’s take on targeting minority audiences.
“The case for diversity in advertising,” Think with Google
This article focuses on black millennials and their stance on media/advertising and Corporate Social Responsibility.
“ProPublica: Facebook advertisers can still discriminate by race,” engadget
This article highlights the legal and ethical challenges of audience segmentation and digital targeting options.
“I am the woman in the ‘racist Dove ad’. I am not a victim,” The Guardian
This opinion deals with the most recent Dove ad controversy.

Tips
“How We Encourage Diversity and Equality in Our Content Marketing,” 6Q
“5 ways marketers can take action to improve diversity,” Marketing Week
“Pepsi’s ad failure shows the importance of diversity and market research,” Marketing Week
“Watch marketing and adland’s top names urge industry to fix diversity issue,” campaign us


Internship Experience – Ny Ny Le

Before starting this marketing internship, I did not have any specific expectation, because I did not have much experience in the marketing and advertising industry. I came in the first day with an open mind and eagerness to learn as much as possible. Looking back, I am now surprised by how much I have grown, not only intellectually, but also personally after the internship.

In terms of knowledge and skills, I have been acquainted with many technical terms in the industry, especially in media buying such as avails, need rates, GRP, CPM, etc. I handled tasks that were essentially important to the company such as generating proposals, checking media buy affidavits, proposing social media copy, etc. Therefore, I feel that I am a part of the team and I have something significant to contribute to the company’s development. During the internship, I worked almost everyday with Media Link Software® (MLS), Media Link’s proprietary media buying software, and I really enjoyed it. MLS made things so much easier, because everything was put in one place. I could import avails, vendor information, generate proposals and check affidavits on one platform instead of using tons of spreadsheets.

In addition to gaining significant skills and knowledge of the marketing industry, I have also achieved personal growth after the internship. By having hands-on experiences, I get to know what I enjoy doing and what I do not like. In other words, I am more aware of myself and my passion, thus it will help me make better choices for my future career. I am also more confident in myself, not only because I’ve gained new skills, but also because I have been encouraged to ask questions, to raise my opinions about given tasks, and to recommend changes for improvement.

Everyone was so helpful and tried their best to accommodate my wish for learning new things. I know I will miss my supervisors and my colleagues who have helped me to become who I am today. I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity to have had this internship experience.


Signature Stories

Story telling has become an important element of branding a business and promoting products/services. These stories are often aligned with the firm’s mission and vision statements and therefore create the foundation for external, but also internal, communications.

The rationale for signature stories’ effectiveness over simply stating facts is simple: it’s part of our cultural DNA. People have been telling stories to entertain and educate for millenia, especially when there was no opportunity to preserve information via scriptures. Still, stories can create a connection between customers and businesses on an emotional level. They make it possible to experience facts in a subtle and less intrusive way and they truly make a company unique.

Internally, signature stories help employees to better understand corporate communications and strategies. They can create pride, loyalty, and improve productivity as a result. Making sure employment policies and business structures/strategies align with the signature story is vital. A business promoting fair trade and sustainability should make sure emplyees are treated fairly and the business complies to environmental standards.

There are many additional reasons why signature stories are beneficial. They can help with crisis communications, create multiplier effects, and more. Find additional arguments on this list of 14 reasons your brand needs a signature story.

According to David Aeker, American Marketing Association, signature stories need to be (1) Intruigung, (2) Authentic, (3) Involving, and (4) Strategic. This is certainly a challenge, so learn more about how to write excellent signature stories here.


Disney-Fox Merger

In a move that has sent shockwaves through Hollywood, 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Co. have announced a powerhouse merger worth over $52 billion in just stock value with a total value of $66 billion. Disney’s acquisition of Fox lands it access to Fox’s large network of TV and streaming assets, as well as $13.7 billion of Fox’s debt. Despite the massive price tag, Disney is confident in the direction they are moving as they expand their footprint in the digital streaming landscape. With consumers moving to streaming over traditional TV, Disney has started growing into a strong competitor for companies like Netflix. Fox Chairman, Rupert Murdoch, echoes the excitement Disney CEO Bob Iger and the companies’ respective shareholders in a NBC News interview saying, “We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox…Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry.”

So, what does this mean for the media landscape now that these two titans have joined forces? Josef Adalian and Chris Lee from Vulture.com put it very succinctly: “Hulu will probably get a lot bigger.” Prior to the merger, Hulu was controlled primarily by three stakeholders, NBC Universal, Fox and Disney. This gives Disney a controlling stake in one of Netflix’s biggest competitors and will be reinforced by Disney’s decision to pull its content from Netflix and bolster its media library while simultaneously offering subscription prices that are reported to be significantly less than their competitors. Being well known in the media landscape as forming one of the strongest brands and dynamic content, Disney does not seem to have many doubts about how this merger will position them for the future. The loss of both Disney and Fox content may prove to be a huge hit for Netflix.

We can expect Fox and ABC’s TV and cable offerings to expand in the near future too, offering marketers more direct access to local markets. Disney plans to expand ESPN Plus by adding to Fox’s cable sports networks and may even be offering a Hulu-esque sports streaming service. FX and National Geographic will also see a boost in their networks. Disney certainly is hedging their bets in the digital streaming market, however, these expansions for cable and TV broaden its international reach and maintains a hold on traditional television.

Read more about the merger and its implications here:

NBC
CNBC
Vulture
New York Times