Back-to-Business Basics


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back-to-businessIt’s that time of year again. Summer has flown by and it’s back-to-school for many students.

Summer is often a time for relaxation – to take things slow, enjoy the weather and maybe even sneak in a vacation.

Taking a break from work is great for your mental health. But as we enter the fall, your business and workload may start to pick up. And we want you to be ready!

So we’ve put together a few back-to-business basics to get your mind refocused as we leave summer behind and enter into another fall season!

  1. Remember Your Company’s Mission

First, take a step back and refocus. What is your company’s mission? Why did you get into the business world, a specific industry or choose to start you own business? There was an underlying motivation in those decisions. Revisit it. When you know why you do what you do and how your products/services better your customers, you can approach your business practices with the bigger picture in mind.

  1. Have a Listening Ear

You hired a team of great employees, so remember that they may be a source for great ideas, especially when it comes to productivity and efficiency in process or operations. If you’re willing to ask the questions and listen, you’ll probably find two or three great ideas you can implement.

  1. Hit The Books

Don’t discount the value of seminars, books and workshops. Learning is a lifelong process and a good business owner is a constant information seeker. We live in an age where more information is readily available than at any other time in history. The Internet is a source for content on anything you may be interested in learning more about. Take advantage of accumulating knowledge and information. You’ll start to see connections between categories and industries you never realized before, not to mention getting ahead of your competitors.

  1. Think About a Tutor

Getting an outside perspective can add value and dimension to your company. A good mentor can usually look at your business and give you a number of strategic suggestions you may not have thought of before, whether it’s re-pricing your product or service lines, repositioning or updating your brand, or adopting new processes for going after new or existing customers.

Need more help getting your business refocused? Baker Creative offers business-based services that can re-energize your company! Call us today at 614-836-3845 to get started.

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BREAKING: Is Social Media Replacing Traditional Journalism?


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news on phoneThis week, we heard devastating news from Hollywood that legendary comedian and actor Robin Williams passed away at age 63.

If you were anywhere on social media this week, most likely you saw “Robin Williams” trending on Facebook, #RIPRobin trending on Twitter or pictures of Robin on Instagram with captions such as “O Captain, my Captain. Rest in peace” (a reference to a line from Dead Poet’s Society, one of Williams’ most well-known movies).

The news of Williams’ death spread like wildfire across social media this week. In fact, I first heard about his death via Facebook.

Let’s take a step back and think about some of the most recent breaking news events. For example, how did you hear about the Hudson River plane crash? Or the announcement of the royal wedding? Or the Osama Bin Laden raid and his death?

All of these events first broke via social media.

According to, over 50% of people have learned about breaking news via social media rather than official news sources. In fact, 46% of people get their news online at least 3 times per week.

With more and more people looking online as their main news source, is social media beginning to replace traditional journalism?

While this is a debatable issue, you can definitely say that citizen journalism is on the rise. Citizen journalism is based upon public citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information. New media technology, such as social networking and media-sharing websites, in addition to the increasing prevalence of cellular phones, has made citizen journalism more accessible to people worldwide. Due to the availability of technology, citizens can often report breaking news more quickly than traditional media reporters.

While citizen journalism does provide immediacy and rapid dissemination, it can also have inaccuracy and missing facts. Additionally, traditional journalists are taught certain ethical standards to uphold when it comes to reporting. Because anyone is capable of breaking news online, sometimes journalistic integrity could be compromised.

So yes, social media is becoming a source for news. But it has not fully replaced traditional journalism. Remember, fast doesn’t always mean factual. Even if you use social media as a news source, always double-check your facts with a credible news source.

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Myth 2 – PR Is Not Dead


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prisnotdeadIs PR dead?

In today’s digital world, many companies are moving their customer relations online, often conversing via social media. A brand’s image can change in the blink of an eye, with content potentially going viral within seconds of posting.

Often, businesses seek to handle crisis relations through an online platform. For example, many companies will release statements on Twitter about how they are handling a situation.

With the ability to manage a crisis via an online platform, does that mean public relations is no longer needed? Is PR the next thing people are proclaiming as ‘dead?’

Despite claims, public relations remains essential for any company. But the face has been changing a lot in the past few years. According to Forbes, “The future is a still-being-defined conglomeration of public relations, digital strategy, media relations, marketing and what we will call ‘direct engagement,’ which includes everything from formal conferences to working sessions to webinars.” Jim Nichols, a contributor to Forbes, and his colleagues have been working hard on how to conceptualize this new trend, landing on the term Connected Communications.

The industry is changing. But the truth is that many of these changes have only impacted the syndication of a message and the different audiences it reaches. The bottom line is, when it comes to your company, the message is still king.

We live in a new world – a world of content sharing and discontinuity in our audience. Because of this, it is crucial that the messaging in advertising, media, product packaging, internal and external communications, etc. be consistent. Many corporations still have executives in marketing, media relations and packaging that rarely talk to one another, especially when it comes to coordinating and collaborating. But all of these different areas are now indeed connected, which calls for having connected communications across the company and to the public. The message must be consistent from end to end.

So is PR dead? Not really. Its face is just changing. Just like most businesses, their model evolves.

As a business owner, how do you keep your message consistent across departments and to the public? Baker Creative can help. Call us today at 614-836-3845 to get started.

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Myth 1 – Print is Not Dead


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man with newspaperPrint is dead. Public relations isn’t necessary. No one hand writes letters anymore.

These are a few claims that have been buzzing around the industry in the past few years, especially since the rise of the Internet and social media.

While these claims hold some validity, they are not an absolute. In other words, not everything is dead. It is just that the face has changed.

Let’s begin with print.

It is true that many business have migrated their marketing efforts to the web. Not only is online marketing cost effective, but also it is convenient and has the potential for large exposure. This does not negate the fact, however, that print still has some advantages over digital efforts.

  1. Credibility. Print communicates credibility. There is something about print that gives a sense of legitimacy. The amount of popups and banner ads we consume on the web can be overwhelming. Not to mention, the fear of data hacking, spam and viruses is enough to make people weary of clicking.
  2. Brand Management. Print is great for solidifying brand identity. Advertisements should have a consistent aesthetic in terms of fonts, colors and types of images to establish brand recognition.
  3. Target Marketing. While the Internet can provide great exposure and reach for advertisements, the efforts may not have a positive ROI. How do you know that your advertisements are reaching your target consumer? Print allows for placing ads in specialty magazines that effectively reach niche audiences.
  4. Tangibility. A print piece is a physical thing. Magazines and newspapers can stay in house or offices for months or years, while Internet ads can disappear into cyber space instantaneously. Additionally, remember that not everyone is a digital consumer. It is no question that most journalistic publications have migrated to an online platform. But there is still a chunk of the population that prefers to have a newspaper tangibly in their hands.

So, despite what some people may be saying, print is not dead. It is just the way print is used is changing.

As a business owner, how do you know how to leverage print in a digital-heavy marketplace? Baker Creative can help. Call us today at 614-836-3845 to get started.

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Sustainability Matters


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girlfriendsjpgExperts say maintaining personal connections is a key component of staying younger as we grow old.

Are we so busy that we are aging faster than we know? Hurrying up to get the kids ready for school, baseball & piano practice, homework and then off to bed.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.7 years. If you are reading this, chances are you are probably close, if not past, the halfway mark of your life. Kind of scary to think about, isn’t it?

Time is such a valuable commodity. Between family and work, if we often find little time for others things in life. According to the Mental Health Foundation, friendship is a crucial element in protecting our mental health. We may talk to friends in confidence about things we wouldn’t discuss with our families. Our friends can keep us grounded and can help us get things in perspective. Unfortunately, due to the busyness of life, our friendships often get neglected.

Sustainability matters for a long, healthy life. Dr. Dean Ornish, a pioneer in reversing heart disease, notes that no other factor in medicine – ”not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery – has a greater effect on how often we get sick than the healing power of love.”  Thus, having a strong social network is good for our heart and soul.

If you are used to having a jam-packed schedule, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do my friends complain about unreturned calls and emails?
  2. Do I dread to have lunch or dinner because it cuts into my productivity or family time?
  3. Am I out-of-touch with my friends?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may have been ignoring your friends to focus on work or family. Life doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation.

Sometimes being very busy is temporary. It could just be a certain stage of life you are navigating through such as going to school, having a new baby, transitioning to a new job, moving or caring for a sick family member.

Some find it harder to forge meaningful friendships after age 30. People’s priorities change. In your 20s, you and your friends go to bars and meet people. While in your 30s, you focus on your career, home life and kids.

So how can we find the time to maintain key relationships outside the family unit in a meaningful way? Here are a few ways to foster more personal connections in your life:

  • Join a class, organization or volunteer. Look for opportunities in your local community, church, professional group or volunteer with like-minded people.
  • Overcome your fear of rejection. It can happen. Some people will be receptive while others are not. Focus on the ones who seem receptive. You may run into them at the market a few times and they may become a friendly face.
  • Be open to all types of friends. An elderly neighbor may have some fun recipes, stories and advice.
  • Use social media to connect with like-minded people in your area.
  • Social media is a great tool to keep up with old friends. Skype or FaceTime can keep it more personal.
  • Send a text to let your old friend know that you are thinking of him/her and that you value his/her friendship.
  • Use social media to schedule a reunion/lunch for a month or two in advance. It will give you something to look forward to and it will heighten your mental outlook.
  • When you meet with your friends, try to put down your cell phone. Nothing says you’re not that important than taking a phone call or checking messages while your friend is sitting at the table.
  • Mentor a younger person. You may know more than you realize. Invest in your community one person at a time.

We are all looking forward to a long, happy and fulfilling life. Why not make meeting people and maintaining friendships a priority? Even if it means scheduling it a month or so in advance. By paying more attention to your friends, you will maintain valuable relationships and those lifelong friends will always be there when you need them the most.

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Find Out What Type of Leader You Are


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leaderYou’ve probably heard the saying, “Absolutely power corrupts absolutely.” Give a leader power and see how they respond to it.

Leadership is all about power and influence. Leaders use power to get things done. According to psychologist Ronald E. Riggio, there are two general types of power. The first is socialized power. Socialized power is power used to benefit others. Leaders that exercise this type of power are primarily concerned with the best interests of those they serve, not themselves.

The other form of power is called personalized power, and it is using power for personal gain. Personal power can become a problem when it dominates and gains, often at the followers’ expense.

What type of leader are you? And what type of power do you exert?

Business Insider details seven types of power that are present in the workplace:

  1. Coercive Power - where a person leads by threats and force. It is unlikely to win respect and loyalty from employees for long.
  2. Expert Power - the perception that one possesses superior skills or knowledge.
  3. Informational Power - where a person possesses needed or wanted information. This is a short-term power that doesn’t necessarily influence or build credibility.
  4. Reward Power – where a person motivates others by offering raises, promotions, and awards.
  5. Connection Power - where a person attains influence by gaining favor or simply acquaintance with a powerful person. This power is all about networking.
  6. Referent Power - the ability to convey a sense of personal acceptance or approval. People with charisma, integrity and other positive qualities hold it. It is the most valuable type of power.

Being a leader puts you in a position of influence. So how do you keep from letting that power go to your head? Here are four tips to avoid the CEO power-trip:

  1. Be a Man/Woman of Character. As a leader, you will inevitably face competing demands from time to time. The ability to manage these demands with integrity, honesty and selflessness becomes crucial in times like these. Being willing to sacrifice your success, your fortune and even your life takes courage and character.
  1. Stay Attentive. A good leader needs to be accurately informed. Be sure you have all the available facts before deciding anything. Thinking through the potential consequences of your decisions often prevents problems from occurring down the road.
  1. Stay Connected. Having the ability to develop meaningful relationships with others is the most important quality a leader can possess. You gain power through relationships. Developing relationships with key people will expand your sphere of influence, your access to resources and your capacity to make things happen.
  1. Serve Others. One of the greatest attributes of a good leader is your willingness to serve others. This service, however, should come from the heart and be genuine. Putting others’ needs and desires before your own is reflected in the attitude and actions of a good leader.

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The Value of Brand Awareness in Employee Roles


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employee rolesYour phone is ringing. Your email inbox is flooding. You are running from meeting to meeting.

Sometimes we get so caught up in day-to-day work, that we lose sight of our company’s mission and vision.

Every day your company communicates something to your target consumer, whether or not it is on the forefront of your mind. And the messages your company sends, communicates your brand.

The important thing to note is that everyone in your company represents it. Every single employee communicates the company brand.

“But I’m just the IT guy. I sit at a computer all day and troubleshoot emails. I don’t have anything to do with developing the business strategy and brand. So it doesn’t really matter how I portray myself or how I speak about the company.”

Sadly, this may be on the minds of many of your employees. Some members of your team may not realize that how they perform and portray themselves can have a tremendous affect on your business.

  1. What your employees SAY matters

How your employees feel about your company can easily translate into comments about the business. If a team member has low job satisfaction, chances are they will communicate that to someone. Soon a negative connotation may be associated with your brand.

Making sure your employees are aware of the company brand is crucial. The brand voice should be carried through everything they say. Even though they may not be senior management, keeping a collective brand voice across the company is essential if your business is to be successful.

  1. What your employees DO matters

Every action your employee does communicates your brand. For example, if your company is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote sustainability, your employees should probably not be seen throwing away plastic bottles in the regular trash. If your employees aren’t embodying your brand, then how can any of your target consumers get behind your mission?

All employees should be aware of the company brand – they represent it every day. Communicate to your employees how their role is in line with the company brand and marry the two together. Every company role counts to make a business successful.

Need help with communicating and instilling brand awareness to your employees? Baker Creative is an expert in HR and talent management. Let us help your company reach its full potential. Call us today at (614)836-3845.


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4th of July: How Our Forefathers Were the Original Entrepreneurs


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usa flagParades. Barbeques. Sparklers. Fireworks. Patriotism. These are the quintessential ingredients that represent the celebration of Independence Day. It’s that time of year again to celebrate America’s birthday and everything this country stands for.

As I began getting into the holiday spirit, I couldn’t help but reflect on this nation – mainly what our forefathers must have been thinking back in 1776.

As I started to ponder, I realized that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and every other important figure present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence were not only the founding fathers of our country, but the original American entrepreneurs.

Our forefathers started their own business in the form of a country. Signed on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence announced that the 13 American colonies (then at war with Britain) regarded themselves as newly independent states and no longer under British rule.

As a newly formed country, our forefathers needed to develop a business plan and lay the foundation for what they hoped would be a great nation. What transpired was the United States Constitution.

The Constitution begins, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The beginning of the Constitution clearly states the mission and vision of the United States – to be a country that establishes justice, ensures tranquility, provides defense, promotes welfare and secures liberty. Establishing a mission and vision for your business is crucial if it is to succeed. And our founding fathers did just that.

What is amazing to realize is that this country is celebrating 238 years of “being in business.” While some amendments have been made to the Constitution, the United States has held true to the vision of the nation our forefathers hoped for.

In addition to developing a business plan, a company also looks for ways to brand itself. One way businesses elevate their brand is by creating a logo. It can be said that there are different logos for the United States, including the American flag and the bald eagle. And of course, America’s branded colors are red, white and blue.

But a business is much more than just a logo. A brand represents a company’s essence – the soul of the company. Our forefathers knew in 1776 what America was to stand for – which was (and still remains) freedom.

America is a country that celebrates democracy, independence and equality. This country’s people work hard to fulfill their dreams. America truly is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

So this 4th of July, amidst your barbeques and fireworks, take a little time to thank our forefathers for being our original entrepreneurs and creating a country that is so wonderful to live in.


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Business Roadmap: The Value of Strategic Planning


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strategic planningHave you taken any roadtrips lately? Think about how you prepared for the few hours you were about to spend in the car. Chances are you probably got out your smartphone or GPS. You plugged in your starting point and plugged in your destination. And voila! You had the best and most direct route of how to get to your destination.

Creating a strategic plan for your business is just like taking a roadtrip. As a business leader, you must first ask yourself three questions:

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where do you want to be?
  3. How do you get there?

The tricky part lies in the third question. Unfortunately, there is no “Siri” to tell you exactly how to get from point A to point B in a business plan.

This is why strategic planning is imperative to your business. You may have an idea of where you want to go, but without a roadmap, you are likely to veer off course or get lost. Although some detours can be fun and you may discover new things, detours are costly (think about all the gas you’ve wasted) and add hours onto your trip. The last thing you want for your business is to spend more money and time on something that could have been more effective had you developed a strategic plan.

Many companies invest a significant amount of time and effort in a formal, annual strategic planning process. The main purpose of the discussions is to challenge your current strategy by testing assumptions about the market, ensuring that all strategic choices are being considered, exploring potential opportunities and risks and conducting an honest assessment of your business’s strengths and weaknesses.

There are 3 key details of annual planning meetings that should be addressed in order to facilitate a productive planning process:

  1. Know who should attend the meeting

Real conversations take place in groups of three to 10 people; they simply do not happen in large groups for both logistical and political reasons. First, when a large group comes together for a discussion, you run the risk of developing “groupthink.” Coined in 1972 by social psychologist Irving Janis, groupthink occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to deterioration. People may feel inclined to resist giving their opinion for fear that they will be the odd person out. Discussions may thus lack different viewpoints, which is critical for taking an honest look at your business.

Additionally, once a group grows in size, it is difficult to ensure that everyone can participate meaningfully and hierarchical forces are more likely to come into play. People may feel inhibited during discussions and come away feeling that the meeting was more of a monologue than a real dialogue about critical business issues.

In reality, there are only two essential participants in a business strategy review: the CEO and the business-unit head. Everyone else is discretionary and should be included only if he or she is truly a decision maker. The number of decision makers varies from company to company but typically includes the CFO, the head of corporate HR, one or two senior corporate executives and two to three senior members of the business-unit team. People may fight to be included in these meetings, but you can set up other forums keep them informed and get their buy-in.

  1. Know where the meeting should be held

Strategic planning could take a day, a week or several weeks, depending upon your business. Choosing a location that will be focused and productive is critical. If your planning will only take a day, a large conference room is sufficient. However, make sure you take breaks throughout the day to ensure that your team does not feel trapped. A sense of entrapment could inhibit brainstorming and creativity.

If your planning is likely to take at least a week, consider relocating to a different part of town or traveling to a different city. Creating a type of retreat for your strategic planning team may not only boost morale, but also boost creativity. A change of scenery can facilitate fresh ideas that may not have been inspired by sitting in a conference room for days on end.

  1. Know what kind of preparation is necessary

Preparation is the key to making a strategy discussion pay off. A document detailing the strategy tasks should be sent out at least a week before the meeting, allowing participants the time they’ll need to study it. Participants will come ready, with prepared minds to ask questions and debate the issues.

Strategic planning can be challenging, but ultimately rewarding. If you invest the time and preparation needed to make your annual meeting successful and productive, you’ll have the best and most efficient route to cruise to your next business venture.

Baker Creative can help your company with strategic planning. Call us today at (614) 836-3845 to get started.

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