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FROM THE FORTE

Perspective from Double Forte Public Relations and Marketing

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September 2015

What Would You Do If Failure Wasn’t An Option?

William Van Horne Quote

Written by Duncan Lowe

All eyes were on Joe Kowalke, our senior account manager, as he stood in front of a semi-circle of Double Forte employees. “What would you do if failure wasn’t an option?” he said, repeating the question twice to emphasize its gravity.

Every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. Double Forte ends our internal staff meeting with a Rally Cry. The format is simple. One person poses a question and each staff member has a few minutes to respond. It’s an opportunity to connect with the people we work with on a daily basis. Until recently I had no idea that Brian listens to Arabic music when he needs to focus or that Emily appeared in a Bloomingdale’s Christmas catalogue.

The majority of our Rally Cry’s are light hearted and playful – highlighting personal tastes and opinions. What’s your favorite part of fall? Favorite weekend activity? Best place to watch fireworks for July 4th? But today Joe had steered the office in a different direction. He’s a smart dude and has a knack for asking insightful questions: “What would you do if failure wasn’t an option?”

At first the room went quiet – bypassing fear is a personal subject. But one by one, people began to share their ambitions and long term goals. “I want to open and run my own winery,” said Melanie. “I want to travel and write about the different cultures I encounter.” said someone else. “I’d love to do PR for an ice cream brand.”

We discussed side projects that we wanted to bring to life and dream clients that complimented our personal lifestyles. But even though Joe had assured us that failure wasn’t an option, there were still hints of self doubt. The majority of answers ended with: But I don’t have the time. But I don’t have the resources. But I don’t have any connections at that company. Basically, we hadn’t totally accepted Joe’s premise and were still quite afraid of failing.

Suddenly it was Lee Caraher’s turn. Our CEO and fearless leader told us that she had always dreamed of running her own business. Although failure certainly was an option, she had forged ahead. “And look around you,” she continued. “Here we are. So if you know a business that you dream of working with or need to find time to write your first novel, come talk to me. We’ll work something out. We want to support your goals and ambitions in whatever way possible.” Our staff stood in contemplative silence, suddenly considering how accessible “pipe-dreams” could be. Daunting sure, but definitely possible with the support and encouragement of our colleagues and CEO.

After the meeting I thought about Lee’s declaration of support. And it began to make a lot of sense. In fact, there’s been some recent media attention about Facebook’s Co-Founder, Dustin Moskovitz, article on Medium.com in which he criticized the relentless and exhaustive work environment that’s prevalent at many top tech companies. His main criticism? That a back-breaking, stress-inducing work environment is clearly not sustainable in the long term: “Fundamentally, this is a familiar part of tech culture: at high performing companies, employees work extremely hard, to an extent that is unsustainable for most people. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Double Forte works hard. Believe me – ask any of our clients. But unlike many businesses that are set up to squeeze productivity out of people like juicing an orange, Double Forte is a place that encourages a healthy work-life balance and supports the passions and interests of its employees. As a result, its employees take pride in producing the highest quality work, allowing the business to flourish.

So when our CEO told us that Double Forte supported our aspirations and goals, we all genuinely believed her. And for the rest of the day, our staff was instilled with a feeling of invincibility. I spent my lunch break wolfing down a burrito while also jotting down notes for a potential blog post and later researched a company I’ve always wanted to pitch. And personally, I think Joe’s exercise of imagining “what you would you do if fear wasn’t an option” is extremely valuable because you never know, it may become a reality.

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Meet Duncan Lowe

  • What’s your favorite thing to do in San Francisco? It’s a tie between eating breakfast at The Bean Bag Café on Divisadero Street and surfing at Ocean Beach after work. Ideally, I accomplish both in the same day.
  • What artist/song is currently on repeat on your iPhone? I can be a music snob sometimes so I wanted to dislike the new Weekend song, “Can’t Feel My Face.” But I love it. It’s so catchy.
  • If you were stranded on an island, what is one thing you can’t live without? Music. While searching the island for coconuts and fresh water, I would need access to my Spotify playlists. Can’t live without them!

Two Guys Walk Into a Bar… and Learn Something New About SEO?

written by Duncan Lowe

Assorted Beers in a Flight Ready for Tasting

A few weeks ago I was standing at a bar on Divisadero street discussing SEO with a friend – not my typical Friday night. “SEO is dead!” he shouted. My friend had consumed a few IPA’s so I took what he said with a grain of salt. I didn’t believe that SEO would ever be irrelevant but our conversation stuck with me for most of the weekend.

On Monday morning I immediately consulted Liz O’Donnell about my friends over-zealous claim. Liz is our in house expert for SEO and all things digital and as a Boston local, is a straight-shooter. “Is SEO really dead?” I asked her. “Definitely not,” she answered. But she’d noticed a few recent articles about Google updating its page ranking metrics. She forwarded the articles my way and here’s what I discovered:

Google’s search engine exists for one reason – to connect people with information. It’s really that simple. The more effective Google is at connecting users with relevant information, the better the user-experience and ultimately the more people will trust Google as a search tool. Because self-publishing has become so prevalent, there’s a superfluous amount of information all over the web, making it increasingly more important for Google to be able to sort the good from the bad and feature the most quality results at the top of the page.

Why does Google’s search engine matter? Because in the U.S., users conduct over 12 billion web searches a month and out of those 12 billion searches, 33% of total users click on Google’s top ranked search result – meaning Google page ranking is extremely relevant when it comes to connecting people with businesses and brands.

Maybe this is common knowledge – so why the blog post? Because Google recently updated its algorithm for ranking websites. Dubbed the “The Phantom Update” by digital experts, Google activated the update without announcing it publicly and still hasn’t released specific details about the change. However, Google made one thing clear – the updated logarithm reflects Google’s growing emphasis on quality content.

But isn’t quality content a subjective assessment? Great question but not the time to indulge in a philosophical debate. For now, we should consider the following criteria when creating content for a web site:

–         Are you producing original content? Or just repurposing what’s already out there?

–         Clean up your page! Avoid clutter and anything that detracts from the user-experience.

–         “Keep focusing on building out a better web site, aimed at your users and overall quality.” – Barry Schwartz

–         Avoid ads above the fold and popups, self-starting videos, duplicate content, thin content and poor design.

More than ever before, Google will prioritize web sites designed to give users a positive experience. Any site that continues to post thin content, or sites littered with pop-up ads and self-starting videos, will see tangible results from Google’s quality update. Search Metrics has already reported that sites like Examiner.com, Rotten Tomatoes, Answers.com and WikiHow.com have experienced lower page rankings on Google.

In my opinion it is a bit frightening to recognize that Google can quietly change its algorithm and cause tangible changes in web hierarchy and website traffic. But despite a recent logo change, Google is not undergoing a re-brand. Since Google’s first iteration in 2000, the company has prioritized quality results and stayed constant to its mission –  connecting users with relevant content. What has changed? By updating their algorithm, Google can link users with relevant results with greater efficiency and accuracy.

So, no SEO is not dead. Far from it. It’s still important to pay attention to keywords, hyperlinks and other tools for making sure that users can find your website. But is it possible that Google’s recent update signals a collective re-prioritization might be taking place online where SEO matters less and quality is king? Potentially. For now, start worrying less about how people will find your website and start investing more time creating fresh, original content. You accomplish this and Google will be your friend.

 Sources:

–         The Content Strategist

–         How Google’s Algorithms Are Making SEO Seriously Simple

–         Return of the Phantom: Google’s Phantom II Update

Throwing a Theme Party: 5 Steps to Take Your Event From Basic to Basically Fabulous

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Some people theme, some people don’t. If you want to plan a theme party but don’t know where to start, here are five steps to help you theme your way to a successful celebration. These steps are fairly simple, but require a little bit of leg work. No good theme party ever came easy, people…Sav Blog photo Pumpkin Dinner Party

  1. List it- Don’t just head to your neighborhood craft store with an idea and start grabbing silly nick knacks off the shelf. This leads to a discombobulated presentation, and even worse, a lot of money wasted. Create a list of musts (based off of hours of endless Pinterest browsing), get those first, and grab three extra items that work with the theme, but weren’t on your list (you can have a little fun with this).
  2. Craft it- Now, don’t go too crazy with this one. Simple crafts are often the cutest, and less can be more if you do it right. Bedazzling an entire mason jar is probably not the best use of your time. And if it is, we have bigger problems. Mason jars wrapped in ribbon and stuffed with flower arrangements, glitter wine bottles for centerpieces, cute chalkboard signs… These are inexpensive and easy crafts that can take your party from tacky to classy in a jiff.
  3. Browse it- Online shopping is a great way to get party supplies on sale, and if you order in bulk, shipping is often free. Convenient, less expensive, and you don’t have to get out of your sweatpants… ummm, yes please.
  4. Reuse and Repurpose- This. Is. Clutch. Reusing theme party staples can save a ton of time and money. This can be antique picture frames you use for fun signs, mason jars for a cocktail bar or as table arrangements, artificial flower arrangements to add a pop of color. Keep a storage bin with all of these reusable items and add to it as you go!
  5. Hit the thrift- Don’t be scared, it’s actually pretty fun to find bargains and unexpected party items at a quarter of the cost. Linens, fancy antique serving dishes, wine glasses, table clothes, frames…the possibilities are endless, and this is a sure way to guarantee your party is unique and your own.

So there you have it, the five steps to take your party from basic to basically fabulous. Happy theming! – Savannah McBride

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Meet Savannah

Q. What does your life say about you? A. Looking at my life, I think one quote describes the gist of it, “Stop wishing. Start doing.” I’ve never been one to wait on fulfilling my dreams and goals, or hold out on taking chances and adventures. Once I have my mind set on something, I’m focused on it (some may even call it obsessed). So far, living by this motto has done me well. I’ve earned, learned and experienced many amazing things.

Q. What has been your career highlight, so far? A. Landing a top 5 finalist spot on Good Morning America in its “5-Alarm Firefighter Contest”. It was a random, last-minute entry of a music video with a client at the time, the Las Vegas Firefighters. It was awesome to see work that I was a part of on national. Plus it was a super fun video shoot, followed by an after-party in downtown Vegas. PR life at its finest!

Q. What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco (so far)? A. My favorite thing is that there is always something different to do here. Whether it’s a festival, outdoor adventure, checking out a new restaurant/bar, sporting event, or enjoying the city culture. I don’t think you could ever get bored living in a place like this. The city life is definitely challenging at times, but the rewards of the environment are worth a million muni mishaps. 😉

Q. Favorite thing to do in San Francisco. A. My favorite thing to do is explore. I love checking out new hidden city gems, outside cities and the bar/restaurant scene. Second to that is Giants games – the bleachers, beer, friends and a ballgame. It doesn’t get much better, that is until football season starts.

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