Viewing Tips for the Total Solar Eclipse

Viewing Tips for the Total Solar Eclipse

by Andy Likes, 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.  You will 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 11:30am until the end.  Totality is expected in Chesterfield at 1:23pm 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!

https://www.facebook.com/vandivergroup

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.

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.  In 2014, 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. 

The Reality of Crisis Communications

The Reality of Crisis Communications

by Andy Likes, Senior Vice President

In light of the recent events in the media, we wanted to share this piece written last year by our crisis communications and reputation management pro, Andy Likes.

Not “If,” but “When”

Throughout my 20+ years in broadcast journalism and public relations, I’ve seen my share of crisis issues. They happen every single day. I tell my crisis communications training classes that it’s not a matter of “if” a crisis happens, but “when.” Whether you are part of a small non-profit organization or a major multi-national corporation, you are vulnerable. It could be an employee issue, a cyber-attack, lawsuit, natural disaster or any other number of things, but it’s only a matter of time before your reputation is on the line for one reason or another. The biggest issue in a crisis is time!

We have clients come to The Vandiver Group in one of three phases of a crisis; pre-event, mid-event, and post-event. The clients who come to us before a crisis happens are being proactive. They want us to help write a plan, create messages, and draft template press releases before things go bump in the night. They may or may not see a crisis on the horizon, but they know anything can happen. Other clients call us mid-crisis, or after the crisis is over, for reputation management and overall communications to mitigate the damage.

Proactive Crisis Planning

Implementing a crisis plan before a crisis occurs can save you three things: time, money, and frustration.  Planning ahead saves you time. It’s easier to write a plan and use it as your guidebook when bad things happen, rather than “wing it” and address things as they occur. Planning takes preparation and time, but it’s a fraction of the time you could spend on a crisis when you’re in the middle of it. Having a succinct, understandable plan that is easy to find can also be the key to rebuilding your reputation after the crisis is over.

Having the right messages that are timely and well-delivered helps build trust with employees, the media and the public, no matter what the issue may be. Holding information back because you don’t know everything may seem easy, but it’s not the best way to handle a crisis. Give all the information you have at the time and say you’ll be back with more when you have it. It’s like ripping off a bandage – it might hurt initially, but the quicker you respond, the quicker the crisis will be over. Ultimately you want to get from the crisis to the post-event stage, so you can rebuild your reputation as quickly as possible.  That all begins with the crisis plan and having your team ready for anything.

TVG has helped companies in all three stages of a crisis for more than 20 years. Are you ready to tackle a potential crisis? How can TVG help you? Tweet us @VandiverGroup or email info@vandivergroup.com for more information.

Surging Waters: My Community Submerged

Patty Olsen, Senior Project Manager

 

On December 29, 2015, floodwaters started moving into my Eureka community at a rate higher than any previous floods in recent history. As a resident, I was fortunate that my only flood story was spending three days at home on an “Island” with no way in or out of our subdivision as the floodwater crept around from all sides. Read more

Super Bowl 50 Ads

Jesse Selz, Graphic Designer

 

I’d be lying if I said I was big fan of football, or that I even attend Super Bowl events for the purpose of watching the game. However, there are many other coexisting elements which are persuasive enough to make me an active participant: all the food and refreshments, watching the halftime entertainment, being part of the Super Bowl social-culture, and most importantly — the commercials. Read more

The Impact of the Flood

Jesse Selz, Graphic Designer

 

If you haven’t already heard about the current devastation caused by the historic Meramec River flooding in St. Louis that occurred in the days leading up to the New Year, there are endless numbers of articles and online sources that discuss the details. However, this blog will be focused on a micro perspective of this natural disaster, and the personal impact the floodwaters has had on my family and me. Read more

The Overlooked Side of Charitable Giving

Laura Vandiver, VP of Research & Strategic Insight

 

Having worked with nonprofit organizations for a large portion of my career—both inside and as a board member—I know that it takes a wide variety of resources to keep programs and services going. And in most cases, there is never enough funding to get everything done. That’s why here at The Vandiver Group, it was so important for us to give back to our community through a day of service. We each chose an organization to donate time to on Martin Luther King Day this year. Read more

The Hidden Costs

Andy Likes, Vice President

 

You can’t pick up a paper, read a blog, get on social media or watch TV without hearing a story about Stan Kroenke moving the Rams to LA. Opinions have been swift and pointed. It seems no one wanted to see the Rams leave and it’s unclear just how many in LA are excited to see them play next season in the Coliseum. The immediate impact of the Rams leaving is obvious: for the first time in more than two decades, there will be no Sunday football in St. Louis. Read more

Resolve to Appreciate Things That Still Work in 2016

Donna Vandiver President & CEO

 

TVG’s social media posed a question last week. We asked, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” Singular, not plural. This seemed odd to me, as I expected most people would have two or three resolutions, at least. However, it turned out we were on to something. I was unable to find anyone who had made a resolution this year. Read more

How a Lack of Communication Became a Major Fumble for the Rams

Andy Likes, Vice President

 

Like it or not, Stan Kroenke, his Rams franchise and the NFL are squarely in the middle of a crisis—and it’s all due to a lack of communication. When Kroenke purchased the majority ownership of the Rams in 2010, he told the NFL, Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’m going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis, Just as I did everything that I could to bring the team to St. Louis in 1995. I believe my actions speak for themselves.” Read more

Giving Tuesday is the New Black (Friday)

Melissa Breer, Account Executive

For the past several years, Black Friday sales have been starting earlier, with many stores offering sales days before Thanksgiving and stores now opening on Thanksgiving. Read more