The Big Game: A PR Perspective

The Big Game: A PR Perspective

While The Big Game had slightly less viewers than previous years, a whopping 111.3 million people tuned in to watch the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory over the New England Patriots. We TVGers were part of that statistic, watching from our homes with our friends and family.

Many thought the game was one of the most exciting finals in recent memory. But rather than giving a play-by-play recap, we want to analyze the whole event from a public relations perspective. Here are some of our thoughts on The Big Game through the eyes of a PR pro.

The Pregame

The Big Game’s pregame coverage is considered legendary among sports pregame coverage. Designed to communicate everything one needs to know about the upcoming game to a broad and diverse audience, the pregame coverage began almost seven hours before kickoff. Segments showcasing the lead up to the finals, bios of star players, statistics, and more were all part of the broadcast.

This year, we thought the pregame coverage was excellent. It immediately brought those who aren’t big into football up to speed with everything we needed to know to enjoy the game. Examples include a piece on Tom Brady’s future after the game, superstitious stats, Nick Foles’ high school career, and more.

The Commercials

And as always, one of our favorite parts of watching The Big Game—the commercials! The cost of placing an advertisement in a commercial break is astounding—nearly $5 million for 30 seconds! Advertisers had to be absolutely confident that their ads would be well-received, to spend that kind of money.  There’s already no shortage of “best and worst” lists on the internet, so we’ll just give you an overview:

The ads this year worked to captivate audiences and get them talking about the brands.

  • Celebrities were featured prominently and humorously in the ads (Amazon’s Alexa featured Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Hopkins, Cardi B and more, Doritos/Mountain Dew with Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman, Michelob Ultra had a sneaky Chris Pratt in the background).
  • Advertisements appealed to people’s emotions (sometimes unsuccessfully, however) by featuring a strong message of peace or unity or friendship.
  • They successfully got us talking about them through their humor and unpredictability. Specifically, the Tide ads that got us wondering if the next commercial we see would be a Tide ad, and the Australia Tourism ad that got us psyched to see a new comedy film with Chris Hemsworth.

All in all, the ads performed well, and for good reasons.

The Half-Time Show

With an event as large as the Halftime Show, there’s no way the performing artist will escape without criticism—and Justin Timberlake was certainly no exception.

He performed a 14-minute ensemble of his own songs, but the biggest and most talked-about moment was when he covered the late Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” alongside a projection of the artist. This move was considered disrespectful by some.

Timberlake received about the same amount of criticism that any other artist would receive, and nothing scandalous or extremely controversial occurred. He took a risk with the Prince song, but ultimately played it safe with the show. A good strategy, in our opinion.


These days, sports games are not just games. They are massive events that require capable PR pros to ensure they run seamlessly. The communications professionals who worked all day and night to broadcast the game, tweet the plays, coordinate the halftime show, and who remained on standby all weekend in case of a crisis, deserve to be commended. Sports communications can be very stressful, especially at games as big as this. It’s not all fun and games for everyone!

Are you in need of marketing or PR specialists? The Vandiver Group has expertise in traditional PR, marketing, social media, media relations and more. Drop us a line at or call us at +1 (314) 941-5713.

To read a previous TVG Blog on advertisements, click here

Don’t “Groundhog Day” These Common PR Mistakes

Don’t “Groundhog Day” These Common PR Mistakes

By Laura Vandiver, VP of Research and Strategic Insight

We’ve all seen the now iconic 1993 Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, where Murray’s weatherman character (reporting on whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow) becomes hopelessly trapped in a time warp, forced to relive the same, awful day over and over again. On Groundhog Day. So, in the spirit of that movie, we present to you 5 common PR mistakes that you can stop repeating. Implement these changes, and you will not be forced into awkward apologies. We promise.

1) Stop sending deliverables to a client that have not been edited/proofread multiple times, by multiple people. We’ve all done it: you’ve hit “send” on an important document for a client, and then…you notice a mistake. Or worse, the client notices the mistake and let’s you know about it. Usually when this happens, it’s because you decided to proofread the document yourself. Get into a habit of having multiple staff review documents and important emails before they are sent to your client.

2) Stop sending press releases to every journalist on the planet. In our research with people who work in the media (as well as our combined years of experience in the PR business), we have found that journalists and broadcasters who receive random press releases—especially on topics they don’t cover—immediately ignore them. A good strategy is to target the correct and relevant people to send your release to, rather than sending it to hundreds of people and getting no traction for your story. Do your research!

3) Stop being reactive, start being proactive. This is why we love strategy so much here at TVG. We love looking ahead at what’s coming, and helping our clients navigate tricky situations. How do we do that? By proactively planning for various future outcomes. Whether it’s creating a crisis plan (before the crisis) or writing multiple press releases that address different outcomes for an event, we are always thinking about how we can further the strategic business goals of our clients. Reacting to every situation in the moment is a recipe for disaster that only makes you and your clients look bad.

4) Stop using jargon. Our Senior VP, Andy Likes, is a stickler for this one! Never assume that your audience knows the obscure acronym you’ve just included in a release, a presentation, on social media, or any other number of formats. Just spell everything out. Clearly. We are communicators, so communicating in a way that is easily understood by the audience is our primary goal.

5) Stop launching campaigns with no way to measure success. One of the very first things you should ask your client when starting a new project is “What does success look like, and how will we measure it?” Without any clear measurement goals, you have no idea what the significance of the campaign was or if you’ve been successful. Having measures integrated into your PR campaign means you will know if you’ve impacted awareness, changed beliefs, or increased the use of a product over time.

Implementing these tips will go a long way at keeping your clients happy, as well as meeting your business goals. Enjoy your Groundhog Day—without the repetition!

The Vandiver Group’s Top Five PR Moments of 2017 (Part 2 of 2)

The Vandiver Group’s Best PR Moments of 2017: Part Two

By TVG Staff

In Part One of this blog series (click here to catch up if you missed it) we highlighted three “Best PR Moments of 2017” for some iconic global brands. For the final two “Best PR Moments,” we wanted to share some of TVG’s PR accomplishments from 2017!

2) Football for Friendship

Last summer, The Vandiver Group publicized the inaugural season of the Football For Friendship program in the United States.

Football For Friendship is aimed at developing youth soccer and fostering tolerance and respect toward different cultures and ethnicities among children around the world through sports.

Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals and first stop of TVG’s media tour.

TVG embarked on a media tour to showcase the American Football for Friendship youth ambassadors, who were selected to go to St. Petersburg, Russia to participate in the program. TVG took the ambassadors, two local St. Louis girls, to media events at a Cardinals baseball game, on site at the USS Battleship Missouri in Hawaii, and to various television and radio stations, both locally and on the other side of the world.

Senior Vice President Andy Likes being interviewed in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The program culminated in St. Petersburg, Russia, where TVG accompanied the youth ambassadors and provided daily coverage of their activities on traditional and social media. TVG was able to get media coverage in major broadcast, print and radio media outlets like Fox Sports Midwest, KMOV, KMOX, Major League Baseball’s website, West NewsMagazine, soccer clubs/organizations and bloggers including St. Louis FC, Scott Gallagher and St. Louis Ambush.

Our thoughts: On social media, TVG’s campaign promoting Football for Friendship was a resounding success. Our videos reached thousands of people and garnered hundreds of likes and comments, leading to one of the most successful social media programs we’ve ever launched.

1) Livestreaming the Great American Eclipse

On August 21, 2017, much of the continental United States experienced a total solar eclipse. Missouri was one of the states lucky enough to be in the path of totality, giving us a clear view of the full eclipse. But we wanted to share that experience with our friends, family and clients who aren’t in Missouri—so what could we do? Broadcast it live, of course!

Our sweet setup.

For those that don’t know, Facebook Live is a great way to instantly live stream to your friends and connections. We connected our camera to Facebook Live and pointed it at the sun. We also wrote a blog a few days in advance, detailing all of the necessary precautions one should take to view a total eclipse.

The TVG team enjoying the view.

Who would have thought that a total eclipse would be a total hit? Our live stream reached more than 17 thousand Facebook users. More than 5,000 users tuned in to view the eclipse live.

Our thoughts: This Facebook post one of the most successful social media posts in TVG history. Its success can be attributed to three factors: 1) the event itself was interesting and unique, 2) going live on Facebook is naturally attracts a lot of interested viewers, and 3) using relevant and topical hashtags, we increased the searchability of the post, and therefore the reach. But the best part was sharing the experience with our friends and fans!

By the way, if you’re interested, you can still watch the entire total eclipse from beginning to end by clicking here. Skip to the 1-hour 20-minute mark to get right to the action.

What did you think of The Vandiver Group’s Top-Five PR Moments of 2017?  Email us or hit us up Facebook to let us know your thoughts.

The Vandiver Group’s Top Five PR Moments of 2017 (Part 1 of 2)

The Vandiver Group’s Best PR Moments of 2017: Part One

By TVG Staff

Since we’ve entered 2018, we thought it would be fun to list out our favorite PR moments of 2017. Some of these moments are bona fide PR crises, some of them are marketing campaigns, and some are social movements. Some had a positive effect, while others did not. There were so many, in fact, that we are not able to cover each one. So, we settled on a top-five list.

Without further ado, here is Part One of TVG’s top-five PR moments of 2017:

5) The Pepsi Commercial with Kendall Jenner

Can you solve America’s problems with a can of cold, refreshing Pepsi? Using Kendall Jenner?

Let’s go save America—with a Pepsi!

Known for reality TV and fashion runways, Ms. Jenner appeared in a Pepsi ad as a protester, marching with a cheerful, diverse crowd. The climax occurs when Kendall walks through the crowd, approaches a line of police officers and hands one a can of Pepsi. As he takes a sip and smiles, the whole crowd enthusiastically cheers.

The backlash was swift and harsh.

Pepsi pulled the ad after just one day, and released the following statement: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.”

Our thoughts: Pepsi was quick to apologize, which is good. In most cases, as soon as a crisis starts to unfold, the first thing you have to do is admit fault and get to work fixing it. While an apology is not always necessary—like if a natural disaster strikes and causes damage—a quick response and assurance that steps are being taken to fix the issue are absolutely vital.

4) United Airlines

On April 9—ironically just five short days after the Jenner Pepsi ad ran—United Airlines asked a sold-out flight from Chicago to Louisville if anyone would give up their seats to accommodate four of their employees, who were needed to cover an unstaffed flight at their destination. Three willing travelers gave up their seats, but when United randomly selected a fourth passenger to give up their seat, he refused, and was forcibly removed from the plane by airport police.

Although people are forced to give their seats up fairly often, usually they aren’t forced by police to do so.

United posted to Twitter:

The use of the word “re-accommodate” reads as if the passenger was a luggage bag. On top of that, a day later Munoz sent an email to United employees, saying that the passenger was “disruptive and belligerent” and he stands behind the crew and the decisions they made.

Fun fact, CEO Oscar Munoz was named communicator of the year a month before this incident. True story!

Our thoughts: United’s initial response missed the mark. In an age where information can be sent to half the world in seconds, United waited a whole day to respond—after the videos went viral. By the time they released a second apology, it was too late.

When one PR crisis meets another.

Their top PR executive resigned amid the stress. Although the incident didn’t appear to have much effect financially, United Airlines will continue to have their brand associated with this incident for a long time.

3) #NuggsForCarter

This next PR moment of 2017 proves that anything is possible, as long as you have a Twitter account and a dream. And, a desire for Wendy’s chicken nuggets.

Sixteen-year old Carter Wilkerson from Reno tweeted to Wendy’s, asking how many retweets it would take to get a year of free chicken nuggets. Wendy’s responded immediately—18 million. (Wendy’s is famous for its internet humor,) so this kind of joke response wasn’t unexpected. But that wasn’t going to stop Carter from getting his nuggs.

Challenge accepted.

Before Carter came around, the most popular tweet was Ellen DeGeneres’s famous tweet from the 2014 Oscars, followed by tweets from Obama and the members of One Direction. Within a month, however, Carter’s chicken nugget tweet got more retweets. Celebrities (including Ellen) got involved, retweeting Carter’s tweet and giving it global attention. Wendy’s itself started promoting Carter and urging Twitter users to retweet.

On May 9, 2017, Carter’s tweet reached 3.4 million retweets, becoming the most popular tweet of all time. Even though he didn’t reach 18 million, Wendy’s awarded Carter a year of free chicken nuggets. Wendy’s also donated $100,000 to the Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption, for which Carter has been using his newfound popularity to raise money.

That is the face of victory if we’ve ever seen it.

Our thoughts: #NuggsForCarter is a prime example of a PR/marketing campaign done right—and it was started by a 16-year-old! The tweet is simple, funny wholesome. Participating is easy: just retweet. Brand awareness was naturally grown for Wendy’s. And in the end, that awareness brought aid to a charity. Couldn’t have done it better.

In Part Two of The Vandiver Group’s Top Five PR Moments of 2017, we will explore two more PR instances that we consider significant, for better or worse. Stay tuned, and let us know what you think! Email us or drop us a line on Facebook.

What in the World are We Gonna Do with 280 Characters?

Are 280 Characters Too Many?

By Heather Murdick and Andrew Woodcock

If someone asked me what I think about when someone mentions Twitter, I know what I’d say: Trump tweets, controversy over fake accounts, and 140 characters. Well, as many of you already know, one of those things has changed in the last week.

On November 7, Twitter rolled out an update fundamentally changing a core, defining aspect of the social media platform. Tweets can now contain up to 280 characters—twice as much as before. This is great news, folks… Well, probably.

The update has received some mixed reviews. Some see it as an innovation, while others see it as useless. Despite the mixed reactions, however, this update can only be good in the long run—especially for marketing messages.

The Reactions

If you follow European soccer, you may be familiar with the German soccer club Borussia Mönchengladbach. If you’re familiar with ‘Gladbach, then you must also be familiar with the fact that that’s not even the longest a name can get.

Shortly after the update, ‘Gladbach showed their appreciation for the extra real estate Twitter gave them.

Parks and Recreation actor Ben Schwartz unleashed his nerdy side with his favorite number.

Others were shocked and dumbfounded, such as the publishing company Melville House. Not knowing what else to do, they used the new 280-character limit to express their frustration.

YouTuber Phillip DeFranco didn’t even need to use 140 characters to express his feelings on the matter.

And finally, the official Twitter handle for Law & Order: SVU took advantage of the new character limit to craft the greatest tweet ever tweeted in the history of Twitter.

The Pros and Cons

While humorous, these Twitter users actually bring up some good points about the new character limit. There’s a lot of potential, but also a lot of room for potential abuse.

On one hand, the new character limit allows users to share a longer, more complete message. It gives them more breathing room to get necessary and relevant information out in one tweet. So, unless you’re writing a whole novel on Twitter, there will be less instances of breaking up your message into numbered tweets. It also gives users the opportunity to include a larger quantity and longer hashtags.

On the other hand, the previous 140-character limit forced users to keep their messages shorter and therefore more precise and information-dense. Some people fear that the longer tweets will be skipped over; since people are so used to shorter tweets, they won’t have the time or attention span to read something twice that long. Others are complaining that alternative features or upgrades would have been more important, such as an edit button.

The Future

So, what happens next? Twitter culture is slowly going to change as a result of this update. People, news outlets, sports teams, etc. are going to tweet differently moving forward. More characters means more room for creativity, relevant information, wordplay, and EMOJIS. Only time will tell what Twitter will look like 6 months, 12 months and 24 months from now. Despite the reactionary backlash, we believe that only good can come out of this update in the long run. Selfishly, this update saves us time editing copy down to 140 characters (or less with links) to fit into our tweets!

What are your thoughts?

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Bridging the Gap: Understanding Cultural Differences

The Importance of Understanding Cultural Differences

By Andrew Woodcock, TVG Account Executive

There’s a phrase in Russian that closely corresponds to one in English: “mir tyesen.”  Word for word, this phrase means “the world is tight,” but the base meaning is closer to our phrase “it’s a small world.” Modern communication technology is bringing the world closer every day.

Today, it’s just as easy to talk to a colleague in China as it is to talk to a colleague who just left the office for lunch. However, that doesn’t mean that your interactions with the Chinese colleague should be the same as with your American colleague. Culture and national identity are alive and well, and should be taken into account whenever you interact with someone from a different background than your own.

Whether you’re traveling to a different country for business or have just hired a diverse team of skilled workers around the world, you must always be prepared to encounter and overcome cultural differences and language barriers. Here are a couple of tips on how to help bridge the gap between cultures and make for a more comfortable and diverse workplace environment.

Read up on the culture you’ll be encountering

Every country in the world, old or new, has a rich and storied history. They celebrate their own holidays, cook national dishes, listen to their own styles of music and wear clothes appropriate for their culture. Take some time to Google the history, art and customs of the country you’ll be visiting. Not only will it be personally enriching, but it will also give you a way to connect with the local people. Showing off your knowledge of the local customs and history will make those around you realize you truly care about their culture, and aren’t just visiting for business and cool Instagram photos.

Learn the language

Languages are hard to learn. You spent years in grade school learning all the grammar and intricacies of English. Why spend more time learning a whole new language—especially when so much of the world speaks English already? Well, the fact that almost everyone can already speak English makes learning a foreign language all the more impressive. Even if you can only recite a couple key phrases, it shows that you‘re making the effort to bridge the cultural gap. Rather than your colleague reaching out to you by speaking English, the two of you are meeting in the middle as equals.

Be patient

Unfortunately, no matter how much you research a country or how well you know the language, there will always be some culture shock and confusion. “False friends” may cause confusion and frustration. These are words that sound the same in two languages, but have different or even opposite meanings (for example, if you go to Russia and ask if there are any “preservatives” in your food, you’re asking if there are any contraceptives in it). Words, actions or gestures that are not offensive to us can be very offensive to someone from another culture, and vice versa. When this happens, it is important to stay patient and be accommodating. Working through these frustrations together will lead to a smarter and stronger bond between you and your colleagues.

Keep an open mind

When I learn a new language, or study the history of a culture I’m unfamiliar with, I think of it as exploring a new world. There are so many things that make each culture unique. You have to be open to trying and learning new things in order to work smoothly with a diverse team. Always try to think about how they see things from their perspective; doing so will give you insight on their corner of the world.

All of this being said, there are so many similarities between people of all nations. We all laugh at the same physical comedy, groan when we have to clean up our pets’ messes, and cry when we lose a loved one. After all, we are all human.

Andrew Woodcock is an account executive at The Vandiver Group in St. Louis, Missouri. Follow The Vandiver Group on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.

How to Write a Press Release

Crafting a Press Release: Six Steps to Keep in Mind

By Andrew Woodcock, TVG Account Executive

The backbone to being a good PR pro is being a good writer. I’ve heard it countless times: if you don’t know how to write, you won’t be hired by a PR firm.

And it makes sense: writing is a huge part of communication in general. Hiring a bad writer in a PR agency would be like hiring a bad cook in a restaurant. That’s why many interviews at PR agencies are usually accompanied by a writing exercise. More often than not, before or after the actual interview you’ll be required to write up a mock press release.

Check out the following steps I learned early in my career to help your press release make it to the front page!

Remember: It’s news, not an ad

Before you get started writing, keep this in mind: no journalist is going to use your press release if it sounds too much like a product promotion or company ad. People are bombarded with advertisements regularly, so anything that comes across too much as a sales pitch is going to be ignored.

Start with your headline. If it sounds too much like a billboard or advertisement, it’s time to do some revisions. Keep this in mind as you write.

Get to the point quickly

It’s 2017, and people’s attention spans are getting shorter by the day. Your readers’ time and attention are precious, so it is important to get as much information into as little space as possible. Put all of your whos, whats, wheres, whens and whys in the first paragraph (or even the first sentence if you can). Write concisely and accurately, being mindful of unnecessary information and errors such as run-on sentences.

Leave the fluff for English class

I’ll admit that I struggled with this step myself when I wrote my first few press releases at my first internship. As a political science student, I was used to writing long-winded sentences filled with flowery language in order to increase the page count of my research papers. That kind of writing will get thrown in the trash in a newsroom.

Your readers are neither college professors nor William Shakespeare. Keep your press release free of fluff or jargon that the average reader would find difficult to understand. Simple and clean is the way to go.

Have your quotes come from a human, not a robot

Quotes are quite possibly the most important part of a press release; they bring emotion and a human element to the text. Unfortunately, quotes are also the easiest part of the press release to mess up, and for the exact same reason—they rarely sound like sentences a human would ever say.

Rather than using quotes to continue to provide information, create quotes that bring depth and insight to your press release.

Check your work

Your press release is written. Great!  But before you send it out, always have your work checked and double-checked by your peers so there are no typos, grammar errors or misinformation. Once everything is checked, you’re finally ready to send it out.

Get creative with the pitch

The final step is the most fun: pitching. While not directly a part of the press release, the pitch note in an email is just as important to get your release published, as all of the other steps. Think of it as an extra headline, grabbing the news desk’s attention and interest in reading what you’ve submitted.

When writing the subject line in your pitch email, for instance, you should find the happy balance between attention-grabbing and information-providing. Don’t be afraid to try something unorthodox, as long as it’s relevant and professional. I once worked a Star Wars quote into a pitch note—it tied back to my press release nicely, and it was definitely attention-grabbing.

Now that you’ve written and pitched a great release, may the press be with you!

Need help writing your next press release? The Vandiver Group can help! Call TVG at 314-991-4641 and check us out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Viewing Tips for the Total Solar Eclipse

Viewing Tips for the Total Solar Eclipse

By Andy Likes, TVG Senior Vice President

Short of living under a rock, everyone should know about this Monday’s eclipse. The St. Louis region will have a front row seat for the event, if the meteorologists are right. Here’s hoping for a mostly cloud-free view of the totality, but of course there are no guarantees.

Eye Safety

If you plan to view the eclipse Monday afternoon, you already know you need approved glasses (or risk permanent eye damage) to view the sun. Or, you could build one of those shoebox contraptions we built as kids to safely view it. If you plan to take pictures, we have a few things you will want to know.

Camera Safety

If you have a camera, video camera or smartphone, it needs to wear glasses, too. You’ll burn the lens if you take a photo or video without one. If you are looking through the viewfinder, it can also damage your eyes.

Smartphone Shooting

If you plan to use a smart phone, turn it on its side to shoot horizontally to get a larger, clearer image. You won’t have a great zoom, it might be a little grainy, but you will at least see the eclipse and capture the moment in time. You shouldn’t need the filter during the totality, but it’s awfully hard to take the filter off and put it back on, maybe just soak in the moment and catch the photos and videos online afterward.

TVG Live Broadcast

If you do not live in one of the cities that will see the eclipse in full, TVG has you covered. Our video production team will be broadcasting the eclipse live from our offices in Chesterfield, MO on TVG’s Facebook page, from the beginning to the end, so starting at 11:30 a.m. until the end. Totality is expected in Chesterfield at 1:23 p.m. CDT and should last for about 90 seconds. Feel free to like/follow our page now, and join us live beginning Monday morning.

Here’s hoping for clear skies!

TVG would love to help with your video needs. Give us a call, email us or send us a note on Facebook.  We create videos long and short.

Millennials in the Digital Space

“How Do I Reach These Kids?”: Millennials in the Digital Space

By Nathan Shryock, TVG Manager of Digital Strategy

The Millennial generation has adopted a very unique habit of forming digital communities. These communities are made up of online social groups of people that share a common interest and are often tied to a person’s identity. It’s not uncommon for one person to belong to several different communities, each representing a different facet of their personality or interests. However, that’s not to say that Millennials only interact with people online.

For example, say a group of friends go out to a bar:

  • The artsy friend is going to make an Instagram (IG) post of the interior design.
  • The foodie/drink friend will post what cocktail they’re having to a social channel like Facebook and give a blurb on how they enjoyed it.
  • The musically inclined friend will comment on the music selection or make a post about the live band that played.
  • The social friend will gather everyone together for a group picture and post about the night they shared.

Digital Communities

Each person above fully invests in their experience AND commits to sharing with their digital communities. This kind of earned publicity is invaluable, and it’s FREE. The bar in the example received the attention of thousands of people inside those four distinctly different groups, with content curated just for them, without spending a dime. It is clear that embracing these digital communities is the key to reaching that elusive generation.

Reaching Millennials

Businesses commonly make the mistake of casting too wide of a net with Millennials. By trying to advertise to everyone, you effectively reach no one. Highly-targeted marketing is easier than ever in today’s social media-filled world. By simply paying attention to trends and behaviors of specific groups, half the work is done. Tapping into the culture of the different digital communities makes you more likely to not only grab the attention of the younger generation, but prompt them to share your content and create content of their own next time they visit.

So next time you see someone on their phone, pay close attention to what they are focusing on. It may just give you the insight you need for your next marketing endeavor.

Here at TVG, digital strategy is something we’re passionate about! Call us at 314-991-4641 or visit our website at to learn how we can help you effectively reach your audience in the digital space.

Best Practices for New Interns (Besides Keeping the Coffee Pot Full)

Six Best Practices for New Interns

By Andrew Woodcock, TVG Account Executive

Congratulations! You just landed an internship at the PR agency of your dreams! What’s next? Besides scheduling a trip to the store for new clothes, office supplies and cubicle decorations, you’re going to want to prepare for the culture and environment of working in PR—especially if this is your first internship.

I started my first PR internship knowing very little about PR. And I truly mean very little. In college, I studied political science and Eastern European languages. I could explain to you the rationale behind the Warsaw Pact’s decision to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968, but if you asked me to draft a pitch note for a client, I’d just stare at you blankly before opening an incognito window to Google “how to write a pitch note.”

I learned a lot during my first internship—not only about the PR industry, but also about steps an intern can take to make the most out of their time. Even if you start out knowing virtually nothing about the industry (as I did), following these steps will help you to hit the ground running on your first day:

1. Dress for the job you want

These days, it seems that the workplace is getting less strict and more relaxed about what employees are allowed to wear. For example, wearing jeans in the office five years ago was a big no-no, but now it’s not uncommon to see jeans on everyone, from assistant account executives to senior vice presidents. Still, it’s better to overdress than to underdress. If you notice that your boss or supervisor dresses more formally, then you should match how they dress. Taking the extra time in the morning to look nice shows that you care about your job and enjoy where you work.

2. Take time to meet your colleagues

You’re going to be working with these people for the next four to six months. Don’t you think you should get to know them, so that they’re more than just an email address that gives you daily assignments? During the first couple weeks at your new internship, try to schedule meetings with the people you’ll be working with so you can introduce yourself, talk about what you expect from this internship, and get to know them as a person. If they like who you are as a person, they’ll naturally want to work with you more. People you’ll really want to meet are former interns. They have been in your shoes not long ago, and can share some good advice!

3. Overcommunicate

PR is all about communication. This applies not only to communication with clients, but also communication in the office among your coworkers. Make sure that you’re replying to your emails as soon as possible, in order to let your coworkers know that you read their message. It can be as simple as an “I got your note, I’ll get on this right away.” Update them with any progress or snags you hit along the way. Hitting “reply all” is also a good practice, so as none of your colleagues are in the dark as to what you’re doing.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

A lot of interns are afraid to ask too many questions, fearing that they might be judged for seeming stupid or unprepared for a task. I can assure you that this is NOT the case! In fact, it shows your bosses that you’re thinking critically about the task, and are making sure that you want to get it done completely right. If you feel like you’ve already asked too many questions to your boss, go to a former intern. They’ve certainly done similar assignments during their time as an intern, and can point you toward the best methods and resources to get the job done.

5. Don’t be afraid to say no

This part might be the most difficult for an intern to be comfortable with. As a new intern, you’ll want to prove to everyone that you’re capable, dependable and hardworking. If a senior vice president emails you with a task to complete, it’s really difficult to say no, even if your plate is completely full for the rest of the day. Ask yourself though: is it a good idea to take on a task you know you won’t be able to complete to the best of your ability? The SVP isn’t going to be angry you’re too busy. Simply write back right away and explain you have too many urgent tasks to properly take on another. Ask other interns if they have any free time for a new task. If they do, reply to that SVP with a solution: another intern is free and is more than happy to help!

6. Make your work clear, understandable and thorough

Employers look at interns to do the tasks that can’t be done by the employers themselves. They’re counting on you to do research, write reports, talk to reporters and more because they don’t have the time or ability to do so. That means everything you do must be very thorough, covering all possible bases. Doing research for a client? Use multiple sources (and check them! No fake news!). Pitching to a journalist? Write down the whos, whats, wheres and whens (don’t forget the time zones). Don’t just rely on Google; used advanced searches on social media platforms, scour websites, or ask someone for information. You want the final product to be easily understood and digestible, so that anyone can use it to consider next steps. Don’t be afraid to make some suggestions of your own, as well!

One final piece of advice: be confident and always do your best. It’s a cliché as old as time, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important! Make the most out of this internship; who knows, you might get hired at the end and be well on your way to becoming CEO before you know it.

Andrew Woodcock is an account executive at The Vandiver Group in St. Louis, Missouri. Follow The Vandiver Group on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Messaging: A New Era of Business Communications, Part 2

Best Practices for Businesses Using Facebook Messenger

By Nate Shryock, TVG Manager of Digital Strategy

In Part 1 of this blog series, we outlined how messaging apps can be useful business tools. Today, we’ll explore some best practices for businesses who want to use Facebook Messenger to communicate with their customers.

Respond promptly

Facebook publicly displays your company’s response speed on your homepage. It is important to gain the “Very responsive to messages” badge, which is achieved by having a response rate of 90% and a response time of 15 minutes within the last seven days. Slow response times often lead to escalated social posting by an individual with complaints.

Shoot for 100% response rate

More than ever, people simply want to be heard. By acknowledging every post, your customers feel like a larger part of your community. While 24/7 monitoring is not always possible, Facebook offers tools to help ensure that people have access to help outside of business hours. Away messages, pre-written replies and chat-bots provide customers with an immediate response and let them know that their concern is heard and will be addressed.

Use first names

The power of messaging for business comes from the human element. Using a person’s first name is an easy way to build a rapport and establish a connection. If you are responding to a comment, use the @tag of their first name (ex: @Nate). In addition, have moderators sign off with their first names as well.

Know when to take a public comment private

One of the biggest challenges of social for businesses is how to handle negative comments. Facebook offers the ability to initiate a private conversation with any commenter, and will display a public message saying that they’ve responded to the commenter in private.

Keep an updated list of your best customers

While difficult to manage, showing special attention to your most loyal customers will surprise and delight them—making them customers for life. Something as simple as sending a happy birthday message with a coupon or discount goes a long way to creating a positive relationship.


Just like you wouldn’t want to leave a customer waiting in your store, you don’t want to leave them waiting on social. Messenger apps offer a quick and effective way to add the human element back into the digital business world. When used correctly, can build long-lasting and mutually-beneficial relationships with your customers.

Need help using messaging apps for your business?  Not sure how to create a strong digital strategy? TVG can help! Call us at 314.991.4641 or visit our website at for more information.

Messaging Applications: A New Era of Business Communications (Part 1)

Messaging Applications: A New Era of Business Communications (Part 1)

By Nate Shryock, TVG Manager of Digital Strategy

We’ve all had experiences with people who spend too much time on their phone. Family dinners, dates, Friday night outings… it is no secret that people are often preoccupied with their digital lives. As individuals, this is often extremely frustrating, but as a business this presents new opportunities.

Recently, messaging apps have had a meteoric rise in popularity. Take Snapchat for example. In 2013, Snapchat peaked at 5 million daily active users, and in three years increased to 100 million daily active users. By the next year, the “Big 4 Messaging Apps” (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber) combined had the same number of monthly users as the “Big 4 Social Networks” (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram). In September 2016, Business Insider reported that messaging apps had taken over Social Networking apps in monthly active users.

Messaging apps are no longer just for personal communication, either. A Nielson study, commissioned by Facebook IQ in March of 2016, found that “over the next two years, 50% of people surveyed expect to use messaging apps more for communicating one-on-one” and 67% expect to use messaging apps more to communicate with businesses. Messaging also appeals across all generations. When asked whether they prefer messaging over a phone call or email, 65% of Millennials, 65% of Gen Xers, and 63% of Baby Boomers all preferred messaging.

So, what does this all mean for businesses? To answer this, we’ll explore how Facebook Messenger can work in a business setting.

Social Listening

It is important to listen to what your community is saying on social. Facebook offers a messenger inbox that allows you to monitor not only your direct messages, but comments and reviews on both Facebook and Instagram. A survey conducted by The Social Habit in 2016 states that “among respondents to The Social Habit who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. Further, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes,” making Messenger a vital part of the customer service strategy.

The inbox also allows you to respond to public comments and gives users the option to mark comments as “Done” or “Follow up” or they can assign them to another team member.

The Human Touch

According to David Marcus, Vice President of Messaging Products at Facebook, Facebook sees the use of Messenger by businesses as an avenue to add the human element back into web commerce. David states, “for so long, doing business was always conversational. Web (e-commerce) is truly an anomaly. It feels good to have a more human relationship when you’re buying things.”

In Part 2 of this blog series, we’ll focus on some best practices for businesses using Facebook Messenger.

What do you think? Do messaging apps create a sense of human interaction when purchasing products online? Comment or Tweet us @VandiverGroup and let us know how you use messaging apps to connect with customers. Need a social media strategy? Our social media team would love to help build a strategy for you.