Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When all the work is over, we play

We’re now into our fourth week here at Liggett, and I cannot honestly believe it. While the time has flown by, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much in such a short period of time. Amongst the papers cluttering behind me, there’s about two-dozen, or more, sticky notes masking what was once a cubicle wall. My space has turned more into an idea center, with sketches and to-do lists attempting to spill over into surrounding cubicles (sorry Ben!) However, although it seems like the list is never ending, the work comes so easily. With a few hours work, another task is marked off the to-do list and I move on.

As an intern, I worried at first that I wouldn’t be busy enough. Boy, was I wrong. Within the first week I had already finished my first project with about three others on my heels to begin. Each week I look forward to the next assignment and this week, I’ve learned about a few more coming up that are not only going to be fun, but also very rewarding and possible portfolio pieces.

Here at Liggett, I don’t get that intern “vibe” that many interns talk about; I feel like part of the office family. Often my mentor Wes turns to me when he is stuck on a project, and I throw in my twenty-year-old two cents and often, just the collaboration of minds solves the problem. Earlier this week, Nathaniel, a close cubicle-mate handed me a Photoshop file with about thirty or so layers, and I attempted to merge and group until it made sense, and even then, the file was HUGE. Yes, it was challenging and a little frustrating at first, however, it’s this type of work that I love.

Sometimes, the best work derives from the simple task of taking a step back from your computer and handing it over for someone else to look over. A pair of fresh eyes will see what’s been staring you right in the face- for Nathaniel it was a starburst. My addition broke his creative block, and viola, a website is made.

As Ben mentioned, we are going to the Indian’s game tomorrow. For all the work we do, it’s nice to get times like these when ‘play’ is also a factor. Now, tonight I must scramble to find something red or blue to wear. Look for us on the Social Deck tomorrow- Game starts @ 12:05 p.m.

Sasha T.
Creative Intern

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

There's No 'I' in Work

I’ve spent a lot of time the past two days assembling the newest press kit that Liggett is sending out. The press kits that I’ve seen sent out of this place are incredible. Each one is crafted to be above and beyond what any media outlet expects from an agency. As I cut the 105th metallic star out and glue it down, I think about the importance of teamwork. Without it, there is no way Liggett would be producing the great work that they have been.

I see teamwork around me everyday here. Even with the current press kits I’m assembling, I’ve had countless people come by and help me with any spare time they had. But it’s not just the tedious tasks that require teamwork.

In the past week I’ve sat in a few brainstorming meetings where we gather to discuss a client’s situation and come up with a creative solution. These meetings thrive on teamwork. The team contributes their views and ideas that spark new views and ideas in other team members. Team brainstorming is a lot of fun and it produces a lot more creativity than working on a project solo.

When Sasha, the design intern, and I are given a project, we have to work together to get it done. We are given a creative brief with some direction, then we collaborate and execute. Sure, I’m supposed to be the copywriter and she, the graphic designer, but when we get stuck, we rely on the other for help. She helps me when I’ve exhausted every synonym for entertainment and I help her when her layout has been placed every way possible.

I have a feeling without teamwork this place wouldn’t run the way it does now. And I know for sure that some of the best creative work has come from teamwork.

The intern team will be gracing the social deck at the Cleveland Indians game on Thursday. Let’s hope their teamwork will pull out a win!

Ben L.
Creative Intern

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gettin' Technical

It's no secret that the PR industry is changing with the help of the Internet God, Google. After listening in on a conference call today, I was able to learn how search engines dictate the beginning phases of PR and marketing strategies.

In today's world, most consumers don't flip through product pamphlets or speak with company representatives to gather information about a brand. Instead, they go right to the Web, where the amount of information seems infinite.

Today I learned that the key for optimizing SEO (organic search) and SEM (paid search) is to understand consumers' behaviors as they brainstorm their searches. At an "aware" level, searchers may type in general key words. As they become more familiar with products, consumers may begin to search brand names or services at the "preference" and "purchase" levels. With the help of Google Adwords and Google Advanced, companies can monitor the traffic to their sites and the amount of time visitors spend browsing.

This is the future of PR. Not only does GenY have to battle the reputation as "the entitled generation" (as Mark kindly noted), but we also have to learn how to be tech savvy. Just like websites that need to have appropriate content and tags, press releases also need to be weaved with suitable words and phrases.

Working at an agency like Liggett has made me realize that there is so much more to learn outside of the classroom. I know that the remainder of my internship will keep me on my toes when it comes to PR tech trends.

Rachelle Patsey
Brand Management Intern

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's wrong with Millennials?

Our 2010 summer intern class has been here for three weeks and we haven’t lost a single one yet! As Vicki mentioned, we’ll be supplementing the intern posts with some tips and advice. So I thought I should let you know that we’re on to you.

Older generations have been thoroughly warned about Millennials. You’ve been referred to as the “entitlement generation.” We’ve heard that you don’t like hard work, you’re easily distracted and you’re responsible for the popularity of all these vampire shows. You’ve got the “60 minutes” crowd pretty freaked out.

I recognize that every generation wonders, “What’s wrong with kids these days?” Unfortunately, I’ve found some of these criticisms ring true in some of your peers. It only takes one bad apple to saddle you with a stereotype that will ride you into your entry into the workplace. So let’s not worry about if it was MTV or your hovering “helicopter” parents that “spoiled” your generation. Let’s work on shaking the stigma.

The first thing you’ve got to do is get your work done – on time. Set an alarm on your cellular telephone. Tweet a reminder. Do whatever you need to do to adhere to the schedule you’ve been given. That’s super important to old folks.

Secondly, multitask them to bits. There are concerns that Millennials have short attention spans. I’d argue that you just consume information differently from previous generations. Walking and chewing gum is the least of your worries. You’ve got email, your cell phone, Twitter and Facebook all getting snippets of attention. When an employer sees how much more productive a multi-channel mind can be, they might ask you for tips.

Third, if you feel that someone is lumping you in with the cast of the Jersey Shore, let your actions do the talking. Complaining will be dismissed as whining and will have an adverse effect because of that whole “entitlement” thing. Go above and beyond to prove them wrong. Rely on your fresh thinking and the quality of your work to win the day. If that doesn’t work, ask them for advice. That’s an easy way to turn a critic into an ally.

Hopefully, this helps. Feel free to leave comments below.

Mark Szczepanik
Director of Brand Voice

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hello Cleveland!

I've lived in the Cleveland area my whole life, so I really care about this town! It's been so much fun working downtown and seeing the city up close on an everyday basis. It's been even more fun the past few days keeping up with Cleveland on television. Between Man vs. Food at the West Side Market, Hot Sauce Williams and Melt, plus the second episode of Hot in Cleveland last night, we've been all over!

Getting to see different sides of Cleveland is really important to me. We are such a diverse city and that's why I've so enjoyed working on my newest project for the University Settlement. University Settlement is a community center that provides social services to the residents of the Broadway/Slavic Village neighborhood in southeast Cleveland.

For the rest of this internship, I'll be working with the Settlement once a week to help create new marketing material for their website and newsletters. Yesterday, as part of my first official visit, I met with some of the Settlement's program managers and volunteers. It was wonderful to meet with people who are so invested in helping Cleveland and its residents to thrive.

It was inspiring to learn about the senior, youth and family services that the Settlement provides. There's free day camp for children, a food pantry operated by their Hunger Center, and a computer lab available for residents who need internet access - just to name a few! I can tell this project will teach me about much more than just marketing this summer. I'm so excited to do my part in helping an organization in which so many people rely.
Katie F.
Brand Management Intern

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mid-Week Muse

This week’s writing muse seems to be hiding. As I tap my pen off my desk, and reach for more coffee, I wonder why today seems the hardest so far. With so many great projects at hand, I become flustered trying to think of how to put it all down in words.

My desktop has become cluttered with .ase files and at least a dozen screen shots from fontsquirrel giving the appearance that I just cannot make up my mind; but this clutter all corresponds with my search. I’m not only looking for the right type or the right color, I’m looking for something to hit me, like an earthquake in Ohio.

Luckily for me, Liggett helps me find inspiration. My fellow interns and colleagues always lend a good laugh and great insight when I’m stuck, and for today’s writing block, pretzel M&Ms and ISO50 (thanks Nathaniel!) My mentor Wes plays music that I have never heard before and that alone can keep me going for an afternoon. Something about the constant thumping and melodic voices makes thinking easy. This past Monday, we broke up the routine completely; out of the office and in the summer sun, we strolled over to the ESPN radio station for a tour and an array of loud men in suits. It was a fun way to start the week and the whole day seemed to float by from there.

Being a designer, I get inspiration from the obvious places like GOOD and welovetypeography, but somehow every week, I get lost in the Internet’s endless feed of cat videos and “memes”. However, via these distractions, I’ll occasionally stumble upon something much more interesting. Recently, I came upon an archive of old photographs and being the darkroom lover I am, I couldn’t help but spend a while sifting through endless pages of beautiful images. There’s something about looking into the past that really gets my head working; I become a little less tense, a little more inspired, and a lot more able to move forward.

So, calling all designers/artists/readers/writers, how do you get inspired and beat the mid-week mind block?

Sasha T.

Graphic Design Intern

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Post-Father's Day Tribute

My dad has the most unusual life. He lives in Cleveland, but works in Chicago. He travels across the world to meet with clients, interview potential employees, and maintain his company's composure in the face of a global recession. His only doses of normalcy are the occasional home-cooked meals and ESPN. But despite his chaotic lifestyle, he still motivates me to succeed in the business arena. That's why I'm always looking for opportunities to impress him--that's why I'm always talking to him about Liggett.

This past weekend, I told him about my first major writing assignment at LS. I wrote the draft for a "camera-ready" article for our client that would be sent to a painter's trade magazine. The article needed to have a journalistic flair--a style that presented me with a personal challenge. I told my dad that I did some thorough research before writing the piece, which included: reading through similar articles, researching blogs that discussed my topic, and browsing the client's website to learn about their product. My dad said, "That's awesome!" And it was!

I also told him that I worked at the 7th Annual Duct Tape Festival, where I saw decorated ponies, "groovy" vans, and jaw-dropping floats made entirely out of DuckBrand duct tape. Witnessing the festival behind-the-scenes exposed me to the high level of work that goes into publicizing and organizing an event. My dad said, "This is great experience for you." And he was right!

As week three kicks off, I'm eager to work on more projects and hit the ground running. I'm glad that Liggett has given me opportunities to impress my dad, and I want him to know that I feel so fortunate to have such a positive mentor and supportive father.

Happy belated Father's Day!

Rachelle P.
Brand Mangement Intern

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jack of All Trades

Some say experience is everything. And I couldn’t agree more. This statement was reinforced today during our field trip to ESPN Radio, right down the street from the Liggett Stashower building.

Our tour of the radio studio was led by the Mark “Munch” Bishop, on-air personality for ESPN Cleveland. Before we got a sneak peek of the studio, Munch gave us a little background about ESPN and how he’s made it this far in his career.

He advised our intern group to never hesitate to learn everything. Munch is the type of guy who learned something new every step in his career. From the technical work of recording his own features, to manually editing segments, he is a “jack of all trades” when it comes to sports radio. There is no task beneath Munch that he won’t do, and as for the tasks that are above him, it won’t be long before he learns to tackle them as well.

Luckily, after only a short time, I can now say I’ve helped name a product, written some web copy, created some posters, assembled some press kits and operated a switchboard system. I’m learning the organization and process of relationship building on the client side and the art and structure of the creative process.

Everyone should strive to be the employee that wears many hats because, as Munch said, it’s hard to replace the employee who can do it all.

P.S. to all of the Cavs fans out there, Munch has estimated the odds of Lebron staying in Cleveland to be 50:50. Keep your fingers crossed.

Ben L.

Creative Intern

Friday, June 18, 2010

Progressing Nicely

New to this year's intern blog is an update from the LS Intern coordinators. Every week, those of us who manage and mentor our intern class will provide some insight into how the group is doing and what we think all interns should be doing. So to start...

As we come to the close of week two with our summer interns, I can say they are progressing nicely. I've seen a lot of enthusiasm, very little hesitancy and some great work. I'm glad all the interns are willing to jump in. That's probably the most important aspect for me. We understand we may be asking the interns to do something they've never done before, but isn't that the point? It's important for all involved - interns and agency staff - to remember this is a learning experience. We all should make the most of it.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Day in the Life

6:30am - Wake up while it's barely light out and stumble out of bed

7:45am - Leave house, drop Dad off at work

8:00am - Pick up Sasha, the graphic design intern

8:15am - Find our way through the maze that is the parking garage

8:25am - Sit down in my very own cubicle

8:30am - Prepare for a day full of surprises!

Adjusting to the schedule at Liggett has been challenging, especially since I had four weeks off from school before the job started. But it didn't take long for me to realize my lazy summer days were over. From the very start of this internship, our days have been jam-packed with training, departmental meetings and brainstorming sessions.

While we may be the lowly interns, Liggett treats us like real employees. Rachelle and I have had the opportunity to work on many exciting projects and are ready to dig into anything that's thrown at us throughout the day.

We can tell that Liggett is really invested in the intern experience, too. Each intern is assigned a mentor in their department who can answer our questions and give us advice throughout the internship. It means a lot to us to know we have someone in our corner while we try to figure out what life in the professional world is like.

Working full-time at Liggett is much more exciting than any lazy summer. Gradually I'm hopping out of bed in the morning with a little more vigor - especially when I know what projects await me!

I've already learned so much in the first two weeks. I can hardly wait to find out what the rest of the summer has in store for us.

Katie F.
Brand Management Intern

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Firsts

I’m feeling awesome, feeling great.

Well, hello readers! I’d like to start by saying thanks for coming and checking our blogs out - we’re going to be doing them often so make sure to check back! It is now my second week here at Liggett Stashower as a summer intern. Weirdly enough, I already feel like I’ve been here for much longer. We sat through a few meetings and introduced ourselves to anyone willing to shake our hands. We ate at a wonderful little restaurant a few feet from the Liggett Building called Bricco- excellent chicken sandwich as well as wonderful conversation. The whole staff was welcoming and right away we started in on some projects. Refreshing myself on some basic Photoshop skills, I managed to push out a few different directions and iterations for some cover art I got assigned. Next up was collaboration with Ben, another intern, for a product name. We Google searched and brainsmashed some ideas of ours together, and although I feel Ben has that area way more covered than I, it gave me a good idea of what I may have to do one day. Although “graphic design” is my area, often, the overall brand needs an identity or a re-vamp and that’s where something like this would come in.

Now that it’s the second week here, I’m starting to cluster my cubicle a little more, and I’m slowly getting a little better with some names around the office. Just like any other work place, I look forward to lunch, but here, it’s only because we have a pool table and I get to catch up on my funnies then (after reading the important stuff in the paper of course). Meeting tomorrow with a few colleagues and it will be my first chance to impress or, maybe, depress them. Either way, the work is due Friday, so I have to get it done and get it done right! More projects are flowing in now and I’m pretty excited about being able to participate.

Well, Happy Wednesday all!

Sasha T.

Graphic Design Intern

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Welcome to the Real World

The first day at an internship is nerve-racking for anyone and experiencing my first hour-long morning commute to Cleveland only added to that stress. But once I walked into Liggett's doors and was greeted at the fronk desk, some of that stress was dismissed immediately. All four interns gathered in the lobby waiting anxiously in awkward silence. In walked the internship coordinators' smiling faces and the tension dropped. Passing all of the friendly faces in the building turned my nervousness into excitement. I was ready to get started.

After going through the standard paperwork and training sessions, we were shown to our cubicles--"real people" work spaces with our names on the exterior! That was enough to make any soon-to-be professional giddy.

I was ready to dive right in. And I did.
"Have you ever named anything before?" I was asked.
And I hadn't. So I went straight to work on my first task, brainstorming names for a new product.

This is the real deal. It's nothing like the intern horror stories I've heard in the past. I have yet to go on a coffee run or do any filing (though I am totally capable and willing). I am excited to come in every day and see what I can help with next.

Looking through my quickly filling calendar of events, my fellow interns and I have some great opportunities ahead of us. We have a field trip planned almost every week for the next month or so. I can already tell this summer is going to fly by and I want to make the best of it.

Ben L.
Creative Intern

Monday, June 14, 2010

Watch Out: I’m a Grown-Up!

Life comes at you fast--and what a better way to prepare for it than to intern at Liggett Stashower! After only one week, I've successfully battled rush hour traffic while being pleasantly entertained by 96.5 KISS FM's phone taps. As I walk through the doors of Liggett and take the elevator to avoid the three flights of stairs, I can't help but smile as I enter my very own cubicle (complete with computer, hi-tech phone, locker and name label!).

The brand management department is already exposing me to the changing tide of the PR and advertising industries. During training, I learned how to create a media database using CisionPoint. This tool allows PR professionals to find media contacts that best suit the needs of their clients. Katie (the other brand management intern) and I will use CisionPoint, as well as other research options, for our "blogger outreach" project. The goal for our project is to create a blogger directory that addresses specific topics for the home and building industries. Since more and more customers are turning to bloggers for advice on purchasing decisions, our database should help LS's clients find an appropriate blogger that can promote their products.

Experiencing Liggett is also experiencing Cleveland. Our intern class will have the privilege to explore other areas of the communication industry in C-Town including: The Plain Dealer, ESPN Radio, WKYC, Oliver Printing, and Progressive Field's Tribe Social Deck! We will also have an "intern crawl" where we will meet the interns of other PR and advertising companies in Cleveland, visit their home front, and eat lunch together at one of Cleveland's fantastic restaurants. (Catch up later to find out more about these activities!)

So far, I've learned that running on six hours of sleep and TV dinners isn't so bad! The "real world" may have its bumps, but spending my time at Liggett has been wonderful. I can't wait to see what they have in store for me this week.

Rachelle P.
Brand Management Intern