Client Missions Turned Personal Passions

Here at MurphyEpson world headquarters, we’re pretty passionate about walking, bicycling and busing (AKA active transportation). Just ask any one of us, really. Because making our communities safer, healthier and smiley-er is our passion.

May is Bike Month, also known as the most wonderful time of the year. (Except of course for National Walking Day, International Bike to School Day and International Walk to School Day… but I digress.) Let us “walk” you through the “why” behind our passion.

While walking and bicycling are great ways to exercise, travel to familiar places, explore new places and stay (or get) healthier, (bonus points for walking or riding to the bus stop) the biggest benefit to walkers or bicyclists is how much fun it can be.

Whether you’re enjoying quality time catching up with a friend or learning new ways to get around town, it’s fun and much less stressful than sitting in traffic. There is also a ton of medical research showing that bicycling and other forms of active transportation improve your health – physically and mentally (British Medical Journal, 2017). And anything that we can do to de-stress is an ah-ma-zing thing in our book.

Kids benefit from some exercise before school, too. That’s why programs like Safe Routes to School with its “walking school buses” and “bike trains” are so popular and effective. Kids enjoy the opportunity to get outdoors, spend time with friends and work off some of that early morning energy.

And, if you still don’t understand the reasoning behind our passion, the US Surgeon General issued a Call to Action in 2015 to encourage more Americans to get walking and incorporate active transportation into daily routines.

Now that you know the secret sauce, join us! Channel your inner Freddy Mercury and sing along,

“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike!”

The New Urban Crisis

Nick Hoffman, a member of #teamME, Recently attended a captivating lecture on the new urban crisis and the disparities that threaten our cities through the Ohio State University’s Discovery Themes Lecture Program. The guest lecturer, Richard Florida, presented a glimpse of his research and findings in his new book, titled The New Urban Crisis, followed by a post-lecture panel. Florida is currently a professor at the University of Toronto, senior editor at the Atlantic, best-selling author, and former Ohio State faculty member.

The new urban crisis interests MurphyEpson because much of our work is with cities and, like our clients, we are devoted to bringing people together to make improvements for the greater good. Keep reading to hear a recap of the event through the lens of Assistant Project Manager + Planner, Nick Hoffman.

 

The Old Urban Crisis

Florida explained that the urban crisis of the 1960’s and 70’s in the United States centered on the deindustrialization of our economy and years of expansion and flight of whites and affluent into the suburbs. The economic changes, loss of industry and people left a hole in our cities. This model has come to be known as the “hole in the donut”. The missing center within our cities led to the loss of revenue, manpower, and services; not to mention an increase in social issues like crime, violence, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and infant mortality. It has taken time for many of our successful cities to adjust and refocus their strategy; though some cities still haven’t rebounded, and many will never be what they once were.

 

The New Urban Crisis

The increase of inequality and rising housing prices are two key issues that still trouble our cities. These issues are coupled today with the gentrification of our cities, increased income segregation, and the disappearance of the middle-class and middle-class neighborhoods. The new urban crisis is also affected by the concentration of high tech development in specific areas of our cities (creating winners and loser neighborhoods), and an increase in poverty and other social issues in the suburbs. This crisis is only exacerbated, as Florida points out, as our nation has also become polarized, snapping back and forth between different philosophies and agendas every four to eight years.

 

5 Dimensions of the New Urban Crisis

Florida states that there are five key dimensions that contribute to the New Urban Crisis:

  • Growing Economic Gap between Superstar Cities and Other Cities. A small handful of cities contain a disproportionate share of the innovative industries, high tech start-ups, and talent which creates inequality.
  • Crisis of Success. While superstar cities thrive they also experience a series of set-backs which include unaffordable housing prices for blue-collar, and service workers.
  • Disappearing Middle-Class. One of the widest-felt issues of the growing inequality in cities surrounds the disappearance of the middle-class and middle-class neighborhoods. Between “1970 to 2012, families living in middle-class neighborhoods declined from 65 to 40 percent.”
  • Suburban Poverty. Today’s suburbs are much different than those in the 1960’s and 70’s; today there are more poor people in the suburbs than there are in cities – 17 million versus 13.5 million.”
  • Urbanization in the Developing World. While thousands flock to urbanized areas in developing countries, they do not enjoy the same standards of living compared to the developed world.

 

Ohio Mayors Weigh In

Florida then facilitated a panel discussion with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, and former Youngstown Mayor and Obama administration official Jay Williams. The discussion centered on the issues Ohio cities face, and what they are doing to combat this urban crisis.

Mayor Ginther discussed how the Smart Columbus initiative is helping to tackle some of these issues and generally becoming more inclusive in decision-making. He discussed the use of new technologies in trying to make citizens’ lives better, specifically through more reliable transportation and workforce development, with a focus on ladders of opportunity for those neighborhoods in poverty. Mayor Mihalik echoed the fact that transportation is also key in smaller cities like Findlay, since 50% of the workforce commutes from outside the county. She recognizes that the industrial jobs are not coming back and development is needed to transform the business and landscape to match the hip urban areas that people today desire. Former Mayor Williams stated that cities like Youngstown need to redefine themselves. There is a physiological effect on citizens as they wait for their city to take off again like parts of Columbus and Cleveland have. Williams said the key is managing the shrinkage and applying new strategies at the neighborhood level.

Florida then discussed how we, as a society, really are dependent on each other. He asked former Mayor Williams, a recent Obama administration official, “is there any hope in Washington D.C. that we can work together?” Williams replied that “there is hope, but there isn’t a one size fits all fix. There are many different places and economical situations facing these communities but all have the same aspirations.”

Mihalik said it all starts with the mayoral ticket (having strong and knowledgeable leaders), power at the local level (compared to the state and federal level), and toning down the pollical rhetoric. Ginther also discussed a disconnect between the federal and local and state levels, and reiterated that all neighborhoods need to have an equal footing. Ginther also emphasized there is a need to invest in opportunities through private-public partnerships, affordable housing, education, transit, and focusing on children from birth to age five.

 

Overcoming the Crisis

Florida hinted at seven action items in adverting this urban crisis. These strategies include building tax reforms, investing in infrastructure, investing in affordable housing, expanding the middle class, investing in people through job training, engaging in global efforts of emerging world urban areas, and empowering communities and local leaders.

Florida’s overall solution surrounded a theme of “urbanism for all”. He urged for stronger collaboration between cities and regions, because we are connected regionally and work better together. Our country needs to take a hard look in the mirror; yes we are divided now, but both sides need to recognize that we are different. To solve this crisis, we need to set aside our political, cultural, racial, societal, and religious differences and work together.

Finally, I leave you with a quote at the beginning of Florida’s The New Urban Crisis that resonates with our work at MurphyEpson to bring everyone to the table to design urban improvements:

Cities have the capability of providing something for everyone, only because, and only when, they are created for everyone.

– Jane Jacobs, The Life and Death of Great American Cities

 Nick Hoffman is our chocolate-loving, Buckeye-cheering, Assistant Project Manager and urban planner. If you live in Columbus and like Raising Canes or Chipotle, you may have seen him standing in line.

Wednesday Weigh-In: April Fools’ Day Shenanigans & Stuff

If you can’t laugh at yourself and the silly curveballs life throws your way, you’re doing it wrong. It’s a cornerstone characteristic in marketing agency pros because every single day has its own set of unique challenges and changes. Don’t get us wrong, we are suckers for random acts of kindness (especially when it comes to helping save the puppies) but we can appreciate some April Fools’ Day humor just as much as the next prankster.

Without further ado, here are our favorite pranks, publications and foolish moments related to April Fools’ Day.

 

Leah: My husband’s birthday is on April Fools’ Day and no one believes him when he says it’s his birthday.

Missi: I love the show “The Office.” Jim always played the best pranks on Dwight. My favorite was when he put his stapler in Jell-O! Classic, but still hilarious.

Rachel: I was quite possibly the most gullible child to walk the earth circa 1998. My two older sisters who thought they were fluent in French convinced me to go around the neighborhood and knock on our neighbors’ doors saying “Bonjour! Je m’appelle ‘chien.’” I later found out it meant “Hello, my name is ‘dog.’” #LittleSisterLife

Stephanie: Hmmmm. I think the radio DJ faking an on-air heart attack was probably the best prank I’ve listened to.

Angela: When I was twelve, I tried to prank my mother (I know, I know, bad idea). I put a rubber band around the handle of the kitchen sink’s hose and when she went to get herself a glass a water, she got a shower instead. We had a good laugh! But I’m still sleeping with one eye open. Payback must be coming soon, right?

Nick: When I was five years old I told my Dad his shoe was untied. He looked down at his shoe and it was still tied. I shouted “April Fools!”

Cam: My graduating class put alarm clocks in our lockers and set them for 12pm-2pm so that alarms would go off in our school’s hallway every 15 minutes!

Marie: The Onion always nails it!

Mindy: A couple of coworkers I used to know would routinely take turns swapping out keyboard letters when the other was away for vacation or work. I sat in between them so every so often I’d get to hear “Dammit Teresa!” or “Dammit Ron!”

Erin: My husband and I were both design majors at OU (Go Bobcats!!), and we would stay up really late in the design lab working on projects. If I would step out for a minute, he would take a screen grab of my desktop and make it my background image. I would panic, thinking my computer was broken when I couldn’t click on anything. I would turn around and he would be laughing. You’d think I’d learn, but it literally got me EVERY time.

 

May the odds be ever in your favor this April Fools’ Day.

#teamME Lends a Paw for National Puppy Day

Is there anything better than a puppy? We’re convinced the answer is a firm “no.” And if your answer is anything but a firm “no,” we would love to have a thoughtful discussion with you over coffee on your thoughts. Because we need to get in on whatever you’re thinking.

Lucky for everyone on earth, today is National Puppy Day. This means that we get to celebrate our favorite wet-nosed, clumsy little fluff balls in all their puppy-breath scented glory. It’s also a day to help save orphaned puppies across the globe which is always a cause we can get behind.

To celebrate, #teamME donated items for the Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) to show our appreciation for all they do for our furry friends. For over 130 years, CAHS has worked to combat animal cruelty, help animals in need and advocate for their safety and well-being. A few members of our team have adopted a pup from the CAHS and only return to work to praise how wonderful and knowledgeable their staff and volunteers are.

Find a way to lend a hand, a paw or your resources to your local humane society or shelter and celebrate National Puppy Day with the fur babies who matter most.

Learn more about the many ways you can donate to the CAHS here.

From the #teamME CEO: Our International Women’s Day Checklist

Happy International Women’s Day! Crank up your favorite power anthem and do a happy dance for the women who have come before you. Then, join me in celebrating the women who push boundaries, make their marks and shatter the glass ceiling.

This year’s theme, #BeBoldForChange, calls for all to work toward a more gender-inclusive world. However, unless we know tangible ways to make progress, this theme is merely a mantra. So, make it your goal this week to check off a few of the following boxes and inch our world closer to gender equality.

  • Pay it forward. So many great women mentored me. Take a half hour and mentor the young women who will follow you.
  • Ask for a pay raise. Some studies show women don’t make as much as men because they aren’t as assertive in asking for more money.
  • Take risks. Don’t wait for others to give you permission to do what you know is right for you.
  • Raise your voice. Women won the right to vote because they kept demanding it. Live up to their example and be a force for positive change.
  • Pitch a big tent. Instead of focusing on being left outside the tent, bring everyone in with you: women, men, young, old, rich, poor, a rainbow of nationalities. Pursue equality by being equitable.
  • Create your own path. Are you frustrated by the glass ceiling? Smash it and create your own business.
  • Prepare for Takeoff: Launch or fund a women-focused scholarship — especially in STEM education and careers. Here’s one of my favorites: wtsinternational.org/assets/59/22/2016_Molitoris_Application.pdf
  • Inspire others: Share one of the International Women’s Day videos on social media.

Do your part. Pull your weight. Get it done.

 

And keep this quote top of mind:

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

— Unknown

 

Deemed the “fearless leader” of #teamME, Marie has a way of translating technical jargon into language we can all understand. Also, she rocked colored pantsuits far before they were trendy. Click here to read more from Marie and her business approach and #teamME philosophy.

How-to Communicate with a Graphic Designer for Top Notch Results

Hiring a graphic designer to help with your brand’s marketing needs can be a daunting task to someone who struggles with articulating creative concepts. You may have ideas swirling around in your head but find it difficult to deliver it in a way a designer can understand (and vice versa). Over the span of 15 years, I’ve learned that building a relationship with a client from day one and keeping the communication as precise as possible will result in both parties being happy with the results. Some preparation ahead of time will not only help the designer see your marketing needs more clearly, but it will also help with the bottom line.

Define the Project

Before the meeting, knowing what materials you’ll need is key. Are the pieces digital or in print? Is it a logo, a brochure or a website? Do you already have a brand established? Are you looking for a re-brand or a refresh? (Here’s how to know the difference.) In any case, bringing examples or documents that support your vision can help the designer bring forth a product you’ll love.

Fill Us In

At the first meeting, give an overview of what your company is about. Key messaging or a mission statement is also a helpful way to direct a designer’s understanding of the business. Be as specific as possible, including who your target audience is. Discuss some ideas about what the project is or a rough idea of what you would like it to be. Be open to a brainstorming session that will allow for creativity to flow. To avoid any confusion later, it’s a great idea to discuss all the logistics of the project from start to finish. This would include concepts, drafts, editing, deadlines and production.

Get the Ball Rolling

If you need inspiration, here are a few ideas that clients have brought to our meetings to open up the conversation:

  1. Pinterest board for inspiration
  2. Website pages you admire
  3. Key words or phrases of the look or feel you’re going for
  4. Paint swatches from a hardware store of color palettes you enjoy
  5. Sketches on paper/napkins
  6. Logos from other companies and why you like them
  7. Documents with your company’s messaging and mission
  8. Photos of your company’s office and environment

 

Next time you are meeting with a graphic designer, hopefully these tips and advice will open a creative portal that will make it an easier experience for you and the design team. For more on working with creatives, check out our write-up on 3 Tips for Working with Creatives.

 

Random Acts of Kindness Aren’t Just for Your BFF Anymore

The holidays are over, motivation from New Year’s Resolutions has expired and all of our anticipation is focused on a beach vacation; which is all the more reason to slow down and take some time to make those around you feel special.

Enter: Random Acts of Kindness Week.

We challenged #teamME to do something nice for someone in their lives; whether it’s in the office, at home, at the gym, in line at the coffee shop, you name it. Some bought flowers for the office to enjoy, and others brought enough snacks to keep us well-fed for weeks. Marie, our fearless leader and CEO, was the proud recipient of a sleep mask for the beauty rest she deserves, Jeanna, account manager here at #teamME, received flower seeds to get her green thumb moving and our trendy social media strategist, Angela, was gifted a tiny, crocheted cactus so she finally has a plant she loves so much, without the worry of killing it. (Hey, we all can’t be great at everything.)

“RAKs” are so beneficial in building, not just personal relationships (who doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of kindness?), but also business/consumer relations; so much so that companies have increasingly adopted RAKs into their marketing strategies and public relations efforts. A few of my favorites include:

  • Panera Bread’s program, “Panera Cares,” a pay-what-you-can café at certain locations
  • AirB&B giving 100,000 costumers $10 to do a “unique act of kindness” for their #OneLessStranger campaign
  • Marks & Spencer making it snow on Christmas in Southern England where they rarely see snow
  • McDonalds starting its “Pay with Lovin” campaign which allowed random costumers across America to pay in acts of kindness, like a call to Mom

Random Acts of Kindness campaigns famously generate a lot of attention and profit for brands. Millennials are especially more concerned with what a brand stands for. Brands like TOMS, Love Your Melon and Warby Parker — all are booming in business due to their charitable efforts. Just like we want to keep the friend around who actively makes us feel appreciated, audiences want to keep the brand around that either makes them feel appreciated or makes them feel like they’re doing something good.

This might not work with every brand, business or campaign goal, but trying to incorporate more kindness is the type of marketing the world needs more of.

 


Cam Householder is a Sophomore at The Ohio State University majoring in Strategic Communications and Pre-Business. Cam has interned for #teamME for a year and never ceases to be a light in the office. (And she has some of the most beautiful calligraphy skills this side of the Mississippi.)

Dating is Pretty Much the Same as Finding the Right Workplace for You & Here’s Why

As college seniors prepare to turn their tassels and venture out into the wild, wild workplace, we wanted to shed a little light on the job search process, highlighting how dating is pretty much the same thing as finding the right professional environment. Because even though you may not have shined your pumps and polished your tie clip for an in-person interview, you’ve probably gone on a date that ended in either googly eyes or a pint of ice cream consumed on your kitchen floor (Speaking from a friend, of course.)

 

Here’s how you can boost your chance of finding a workplace you’ll love.

 

1. Is What You Hear What You Get?

Let’s face it … things get twisted through the grapevine. Even though your friends may think they’ve found your love match, it doesn’t always mean the chemistry is present. Similarly, it’s easy to get caught up in what you’ve heard about that big, flashy agency in the heart of downtown. It may seem like glitz and glam on Instagram. And your friend may love every second of it. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the best fit for you and what your priorities are.

On the contrary, if a workplace wasn’t the best fit for your mentor or friend, don’t count it out just yet. Ask for an informational interview, grab a cup of coffee and get a firsthand account from someone you aren’t directly connected to.

 

2. Do the Sparks Fly or Fizzle?

Whether it be a restaurant or a workplace, stay in tune with how you feel from the moment you walk in the room. Does the environment energize you? Comfort you? Confuse you? Are you greeted by a smiling face? Or no one at all?

None of these answers are better or worse than another; it just depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. Just as you’ve thought about the non-negotiables in someone you would like to be with, it’s important to think about your must-haves in the place you will spend most your time.

 

3. What Exactly Are Your Intentions Here?

If you don’t see your future aligning with your current crush’s, you probably won’t waste much time pursuing him or her. Along the same lines, if you don’t see room for growth at a prospective workplace, it may not be for you. Although it can be difficult to resist the first company who takes an interest in your skillset, keep in mind that it must always be a mutually beneficial relationship. You are interviewing an employer equally as much as they are interviewing you.

 

Not every workplace you fall in love with will work out flawlessly, but if you follow your heart and never settle for less than the perfect fit, you’ll have a pretty great shot at a match. Now start asking for informational interviews and perfecting your resume. Your glass slipper (or loafer or sneaker) awaits.

Meet Our Cbus Loving, Craft Coffee Brewing Account Manager, Mindy!

Welcome to #teamME! Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve spent most of my life in Columbus, but also some time living in Cincinnati and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. There’s just no other city I love more, and in fact, I’m kind of an extra passionate nerd for this place!

I started my marketing and PR career at a civil engineering and architecture firm then went on to work in a similar role at the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. After that, I ventured into the world of travel and tourism, working for Experience Columbus, which is the convention and visitor’s bureau for greater Columbus.

I’m lucky to be married to my wonderful husband Ryan for nearly four years and I’m a proud fur mama to two spoiled house cats – Lexi and Chase.

 

OK, now it’s time for some rapid fire.

If you could have a cup of coffee with anyone, who would it be? Luke Fickell (I think he’s dreamy)

What’s your spirit animal? My own cat, Lexi

What was your first email address? (Don’t be shy.) mindae04@aol.com (my high school nickname was mindaaaaay and yes, I’m old enough to have been an avid aol user)

What was your first job? Dishing out soft serve ice cream at the Dairy Cream in New Albany

What’s the next country you want to travel to? It’s cliché, but France is high up on my list

If you were a Crayola crayon, what would your name be? Strawberry Red

Where did you go to college? It’s complicated! I spent four years at Miami University (Go Redhawks!), finished my undergrad at THE Ohio State University and then recently received an MBA from Ohio Dominican University.

 

Phew. What a doozy. Catch your breath and tell us what you do at MurphyEpson.
I work with a lot of our public-sector clients, coordinating outreach and engagement. I’m also part of the business development and sales team.

 

What do you do outside of work?
My more recent obsession is CrossFit. I absolutely love not just the fitness, but the fantastic community of people! Sipping craft coffee and local beer is high up on the list too. And, I’m a huge fan of binging on some Netflix. My go-to is rewatching episodes of Parks and Rec.

 

MurphyEpson has cultivated quite the culture of philanthropy. What’s your favorite way to give back to the community? Volunteering time and talent with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. They work tirelessly every day to feed our hungry neighbors and deserve an extra set of hands that can help deliver on that mission.

 

You’ve got one day in Columbus. What do you do?
I’d start the day with a craft coffee concoction from Mission Coffee. Then, I’d go to COSI for a show in the planetarium or see what’s playing on the 3D IMAX screen. Afterward, I’d hop on a Columbus Historical Society bus tour of the city or take in a Landmarks Foundation walking arts and history tour. In the evening, I’d either have dinner at Strongwater followed by drinks at Land Grant Brewing, or mosey over to German Village for Dinner at Harvest Pizza and drinks at Curio next door.

 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to an agency newcomer?
I’m one myself as I’ve spent most of my career on the client side of marketing, so share your advice with me @mindyjustis on Twitter!

 

Give us a note you’d like to end on. Don’t wish for it. Work for it.

 

Awesome! To learn more about Mindy, connect with her on LinkedIn!

To Rebrand or to Refresh?

That is the question. Now, let’s talk about the difference between the two.

A refreshed brand should remain a visual connection to the original brand, but dive deeper into the audience, voice, and products. The reason behind a refresh shouldn’t be to keep up with current design trends. It’s more than updating colors and shapes within a logo. It should elevate the brand, while holding true to that brand’s core identity and character. A refresh is appropriate when you want to retain the brand’s values, but open up opportunities to other aspects of business or outreach.

  • Google is great example of a brand refresh. In 2015, Google revamped their brand, giving it a modern look that spoke to its evolving audience. The 1999 serif font was old looking, disproportionate and something that no longer represented such a cutting edge and exciting brand. The Google logo has always been clean, friendly, and approachable. They wanted to retain those characteristics, by keeping the tilt in their “e” and multi-colored quirkiness. However, they needed to bring the mark into the 20th century. The new round, sans serif letterforms show movement and evolution, something that’s at the core of Google’s brand.

 

A rebrand is a more drastic change. It’s a halt in the current brand, a complete redesign of what the brand stands for and how it is represented. You will lose any brand equity and loyalty that you currently have, with the hopes of creating a better, stronger brand. A surprising factor to some, is that you can keep the logo, and still redefine the entire brand with messaging, imagery, and delivery. I will add that it requires a bigger budget and a longer timeline. It is the right decision though when your brand is no longer able to survive as it is.

  • Apple is an example of a successful rebrand that didn’t drastically modify its logo. In the early 1990’s Apple was suffering from low sales, low customer interest, and tons of competition. It didn’t stand out in the market place, because the brand itself didn’t stand for anything unique. When Steve Jobs took back over the company in 1997, he focused on a minimalistic and modern approach, and a series of marketing campaigns that focused on user experience instead of products or purchases. At the time, technology was typically a man’s interest and fashion was women’s. But he combined the two by creating beautiful and imaginative products, packaging, and advertising. Apple was able to create a diverse customer base and show the world that it was not just a computer company, but a product innovator.

 

 

So now you might be thinking, I need a rebrand or refresh too. You don’t have to be Google or Apple to make a large impact on your audience. Think broader about your brand and how it affects your public appearance, outreach, or profitability.

Here at MurphyEpson, helping clients think through this process and identify the best route to elevate their brand is our expertise. Contact us to start the conversation and bring your brand into the new year.

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