The Arland Group is a boutique creative agency. We want to ask you an important question. Would you rather work with people who want to work with you? Or, would you rather work with people, who work for people, who make them work with you?

#TAG Blog: An Interview with Creative Director Tom Bartels

by Alyssa Stahr

21 March, 2018

Creative Director Tom Bartels is coming up on his one-year anniversary with The Arland Group, and he has more than 17 years of graphic design and marketing experience, working with organizations of all sizes, locally and nationally. I sat down with Tom to talk about his life as a creative type and his thoughts for job seekers heading down a similar career path.

When did you first know you wanted to be in the creative director/design field? Was there a particular event that sparked it, or did it come about naturally and over time?
I have always envisioned this role to be in my future since I started in the graphic design/marketing field. It’s the natural progression if you want to move up in the industry and take more of a leadership role.

Tell us about your educational background and how you chose your schooling.
I have always been interested in the arts, drawing and graphic design since I was a wee lad. I chose a technical school, Hickey College, with an accelerated graphic design program to allow me to get a job and career faster. I went back to school to take web design courses at Jefferson College a few years later.

Take me through your career. How did you become the coveted creative director of TAG?
I started off as a graphic designer, working my way up to become a senior graphic designer with various companies and agencies in the St. Louis area. The next step in the right direction of my career would be taking a creative director role. I put out feelers and had some great feedback from TAG. I love the culture and the people here, so I decided it would be the best fit for myself to join their amazing team.

For readers who don’t know, can you briefly take us through what you do as a creative director at TAG?
My responsibilities include but aren’t limited to, overseeing all creative work we produce for our many clients and stepping in to design anything print, digital or web related. Most days I have creative brainstorming sessions with my many bobbleheads and Ron Burgundy cardboard cutout. They are the real inspiration.

TAG allows you to work from home occasionally, which is also a benefit that employers are starting to adopt more regularly. Can you talk about the benefits and drawbacks for you personally regarding work from home versus the office?
The obvious perk is not having to drive 45 mins in traffic. Taking advantage of working in my PJs is always a plus, and I have lunch with my son at his school when I can. I do love being in the office to collaborate with the TAG team and bounce ideas off them.

You recently moved into the new TAG offices in Kirkwood. How do you plan on using the space creatively?
There is so much more room for activities. The conference room with the white board table is always helpful for sketching ideas. The lounge area and front porch provide a new and fun environment to escape from my office.

As a creative agency, we have a lot of moving parts coming through the doors, and you have to be “on” a lot. A: How do you stay organized and B: Where do you go for creative inspiration?
We use Basecamp to keep all our clients’ projects and communication in one place. It makes everything easy and convenient to keep track of our projects, stay organized and on top of deadlines. For creative inspiration, I will plug in the headphones and listen to music. I will also peruse, and Don’t tell my wife I’m on Pinterest.

For those wanting a job as a graphic designer, creative director, etc., what advice do you have for them during their job search?
Keep up with the grind; sharpen and hone your skills in your free time. Make yourself available by being willing to help with anything that needs to be done. That will always get noticed and help you in your career.

#TAGBlog – 2018′s Talent Acquisition Trend Predictions

by Alyssa Stahr

12 March, 2018

We may not have a crystal ball in our hands, but industries have a way of allowing us a glimpse into what the future may be. It is how we plan, how we act and how we grow.

One of TAG’s vendor partners, Phenom People, recently released its predictions for the talent acquisition industry in ebook form: ”10 Talent Acquisition Predictions for 2018,” and we at The Arland Group agree with a lot of what is planned for the next year. One of my personal interests in the ebook was at the very beginning, when Phenom People released its panelist survey predictions from 2008 regarding 2018. Predictions then included an increased focus on social networking; millennials redefining jobs by working more from home; and communication through video, email and texting instead of traditional phone calls. That was a whopping 10-year span of thoughts that came to fruition, and hopefully we’ll be right with our 2018 forecast.

Technology, Technology, Technology
Everyone I polled for this blog, along with the Phenom People report, spouted out Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality as key game-changers. Alex Brown, manager of recruitment marketing at Fiserv, said that AI and machine learning will find its place and not be used as a buzzwords or cool widgets any longer. “Some will fail; some will rise to the top. As technology makes processes more efficient, be careful not to sacrifice quality of hire for speed.”

Sharon Lynch, TAG’s senior director of media and strategy, said “AI being added to the recruiter toolkit as a way to increase efficiency in interview scheduling and even more so when it’s added to Open Web Search will be keys in 2018.” Jessy Dyson, account management team lead, agreed. “AI will become increasingly important. Keep an eye on everyone who partners with Google for Jobs. They’re seeing increased traffic and with that often comes increased opportunities and different products.”

Gina Prestifilippo, director of media and strategy, named VR as a mind-blowing tool for TA. “I’ve heard of organizations who have used VR at career fairs and stated the line for their booth was outrageous, and it was mainly because the students were using VR. It may seem odd to more conservative organizations, however, using VR to show prospective candidates your company culture, company and community events, day-in-the-life for job positions, etc. This is everything a candidate wants to know and see before committing their time and energy. What better way to show the company culture than seeing it as if you were already there.”

Non-Biased, Diverse Hiring Practices
This doesn’t just include diversity in hiring alone. It also includes more non-biased language in the form of, you guessed, it — technology. Phenom People says that technology advancements will remove bias as much as possible through non-gendered language on job postings.

Prestifilippo says that diversity recruitment marketing, while always an important aspect in TA, will now more than ever be an important investment for organizations. “What is the diversity your organization wants to achieve? Who is your audience? What is the message? What channels will reach your targeted audience? Include your employee resource groups, and show the group’s activities within the company and your community, etc. Show diversity and what you are doing to empower diversity. Give the candidate reason to find meaning in a career with your organization.”

Personalizing the Candidate Experience
Candidates are sharing their thoughts loud and clear, but one telling note is that they want better job descriptions and more personalized care throughout the entire candidate interviewing experience. Brown agrees that candidates are demanding a more personalized experience, and the top talent will go to those employers who win in this space. Lynch says that she sees more companies interested in rewriting and updating job postings with a more candidate-focused approach. “This provides candidates a better view into a company versus postings, which are a copy-paste of an internal-facing legal document.”

Another extension of the personalized experience includes SMS and social media messaging. Talent Board recently its 2017 North American Candidate Experience Research Report, and candidates said that the No. 1 most frustrating thing in applying is never hearing back from a company. This could be not only after sending in a resume, but after interviewing as well. There are more ways to communicate now than ever before, and Prestifilippo says that SMS social media messaging should be a practice that organizations are using today. “With more than 12 touchpoints a candidate views before applying to a position, you should be connecting and making yourself available to candidates at every step of the journey. Everyone is on their smart phone and everyone is on social media. Engaging with candidates on a personal level through text messaging and/or social messaging will help you build rapport and trust with your candidates.”






#TAGBlog – Receiving and Giving Feedback

by Alyssa Stahr

28 February, 2018

There are various times in life that you may be subjected to receiving formal feedback. Perhaps it started with the grade school science fair judging panel. Then it continued with your parents weighing in on how well you cleaned your room, basing your allowance rate upon the level of clothing on the floor. The college debate team came next, deciding your fate by hanging on your every word. Finally, now it’s the time of year in your professional career that you may be dreading – it’s time for your annual employee review.

Some people love feedback. They cherish the trust-building relationship that grows from a good one-on-one chat, and performance reviews give us the chance to improve, grow and flourish in our careers. For those who watch the clock tick with trepidation, you are in luck. The Arland Group has some tips on receiving feedback. And, since feedback is a two-way street, we have some tips coming on how to give proper feedback as well.

The Arland Group has devised a nine-step receiving feedback guide to prime you for success:
1. Do not get defensive.
2. Assume positive intentions.
3. Reflect and check for understanding.
4. Challenge feedback appropriately.
5. Admit and take responsibility.
6. Ask for concrete examples.
7. Upset about your feedback results? Wait until you’re not so upset about the meeting, gain clarity and then dig in further.
8. Ask others for confirmation.
9. Realize that no matter what the feedback may be, it’s not a total reflection of who you are.

As for those giving the feedback, your role is just as important, if not more so.
1. Get to the point.
2. Stick to the facts.
3. Make it about the behavior, not the person.
4. Keep it timely.
5. Be respectful and empathetic.
6. Stay calm.
7. Give specific examples.
8. Give suggestions for improvement.
9. Give feedback in person, if at all possible.
10. Pick your moment wisely.
11. Follow up.

No matter what side of the table you are on, remember that feedback is there for a reason and should hopefully be a positive experience for all parties involved.

#TAGBlog: 4 To-Dos to Start Your Morning

by Alyssa Stahr

15 February, 2018

As I was moaning and groaning this morning and apologizing to my dog for not getting a move on quick enough, I realized my morning routine is turning a bit into just that — a Groundhog Day-esque rut. I then thought to myself, is it just because it’s winter (don’t forget our ‘How to Turn Winter Blues into Productivity’ blog) or am I just not a morning person altogether?

I used to have a job with a 7 a.m. start time, and for some reason that didn’t seem as tough as it is now, with a solid hour and a half later to spare. Even if I’m able to sleep in on the weekends after letting my dog out, I feel lethargic when I arise. Is it because I’m getting older? When I have questions like these, I know where to turn — my faithful TAG Team. They always seem like a perky bunch, so I went to them to uncover what makes their mornings magical in hopes of a change.

  1. Take Time for Yourself
    Social Media Specialist Ali Ishman says to take some time for yourself in the morning. “Whether it is exercising, going over intentions or just playing with your dog while sipping on some freshly brewed coffee (a.k.a. what I like to do), taking the time to just be with yourself doing something you enjoy can really help start the day on a positive note.” Media Coordinator Amanda Carretta has children, so she shares Ali’s sentiment: “Always make sure you wake up before your kids, so you can start your day off with peace and quiet.”
  2. Work Out
    Graphic Designer Alyssa Runge is not a coffee drinker, so she likes to have a workout in the morning before she starts her day to wake her up. This led me to think perhaps I could do a total lifestyle change and be an early riser to the gym. I seem to feel tired all the time throughout the day, so this may be an experiment to break out of the rut.
  3. Count to Three
    Account Manager Kimberly Birkhead felt my pain — getting out of your nice, cozy bed in the winter. I loved her advice of the count to three rule: “What helps me jumpstart my morning (leading to productive days) is my count to three rule. Count to three and just do it — no thinking, no questions, just go.”
  4. Set Yourself Up for Success the Night Before
    Finally, I really do think that what you do the night before helps. I never eat after 7 p.m., but I have turned into a cappuccino drinker in the past couple of years. Even though my soda intake has lessened, those happy hours may be inhibiting my sleep patterns as well, making for a cranky morning.

So, my morning rut change is going to include a little bit of everything: less caffeine, counting to three, morning workouts and a quiet walk with my dog. Non-morning people unite; who is with me?





#TAGBlog – A Love Letter

by Kimberly Birkhead

15 February, 2018

If I were to write a love letter to my TAG people, this is what it would say:

To my clients:
Simply, thank you. But not so simply, thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you develop the strategies to help candidates fall in love with you each and every day. While I watch your relationships with candidates transform into meaningful careers, I can’t help but have a full heart.  Thank you for giving me the opportunities to be more and more creative with each new project that comes my way! I love being able to help you bring your ideas to life and seeing your company benefit from those ideas. And thank you for not only being a client but becoming much more than that to me!

To my TAG coworkers:
I’m not even sure where to start here, but I cannot imagine having a better workplace! This is truly a workplace where I am constantly laughing, pushing myself to do better, and growing as a person and as a professional. Every great relationship is built on a solid foundation of trust and I trust you all since none of you have stolen my lunches from the fridge (yet).

To TAG’s vendors:
You can’t change my mind that every great company has equally great vendors behind them.  With each vendor comes a unique experience and a unique tool to engage with and learn about. Each of you continue to be a pleasure to work with and you keep me constantly wanting to learn more about my industry, about the solutions you offer and your companies. Thank you for all that you’ve done for me and TAG and continue to do!

I’ve heard that love makes the world go ‘round, but love makes TAG home, too.

Much love, xx.




#TAGBlog: How to Turn Winter Blues into Productivity

by Alyssa Stahr

19 January, 2018

It’s still looking a lot like Christmas in many areas of the country, and at The Arland Group’s St. Louis, Mo.-based headquarters, we never quite know what we’re going to get weather-wise. A typical day could include a start of 50 degrees with a 40-temperature drop finished off with a good old-fashioned ice storm. Mix in the fact that the fun holidays are over with only short bouts of sunshine, and winter blues could be setting in.


Even worse, you could be afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which the Mayo Clinic says is a type of depression that could zap your energy, make you gain weight, cause you to oversleep and make you more agitated or anxious. None of these symptoms are great for productivity in the office or for your overall health and wellbeing. So, what do we do to combat the winter blues in the workplace?

Think and Portray Warm Weather Thoughts
When the crushing wind hits my face and the sun goes down at 4:30 p.m., I think about the sunset at the beach; I break out my cutest hat; and today I even wore a pinker shade of lipstick. They say, “fake it ‘til you make it,” and willing it to be warmer somedays with the power of positive thinking just might work.

Keep Moving
Nothing screams productivity like, well, being productive. Use your breaks to take a walk (yes, outside — we swear it will make you feel more alive). See a movie at the theater after work instead of on your couch. And, don’t forget your normal exercise routine. I personally love hot yoga, especially in the winter. It warms your frigid bones, gives you a good stretch from muscles that tense up in the cold and gives you a good ohmmm after a hard day at the office.

Make Your Workspace a Cheery Haven
No one says you have to wait until spring to clean out your desk (or your closets at home for that matter). Buy a perennial plant or a new set of fancy pens to cheer up your day and your workspace. Social Media Specialist Ali Ishman says her answer for a positive workspace is always music. “I live for Spotify’s #TBT playlists and have a sunshine playlist for any other day of the week.”

Take the Vacation
If all the visualization in the world just won’t do it for you, take your vacation days in the winter for that Vitamin D. Vice President of Operations and Client Success Stephanie Silvey says that she always makes time for quality time off. “My husband and I love to take long-weekend getaway trips to go skiing, snowboarding or we go to the beach. I need to have something to look forward to, so always having a quick trip planned or event coming up that allows me to unwind helps keep me productive. It doesn’t have to be an entire week off, but jetting out early on a Friday and heading somewhere new is all the recharge I need sometimes.”
















#TAGBlog: A Review of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

by Sharon Lynch

12 January, 2018

A habit is considered a routine, often unconscious, behavior. Steven Covey, the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” defined a habit as “a higher level of thinking that allows humans to reach a new level of happiness and prosperity.”

A higher level of thinking starts from inside, and private victories precede public victories. If you want to have good neighbors, then be a good neighbor. If you want more freedom at work then be a more helpful employee. Here are three principles that spoke to me the most when reading this book:

Be Proactive.
Proactive people are driven by values, while reactive people are influenced by their surrounding environment, circumstances, etc. Proactive people choose how they are going to feel, regardless of their environment, and they don’t allow negativity to influence them. They demonstrate integrity, and very importantly, they develop solutions. “I can’t” becomes “I choose to” and “I must” becomes “I prefer.” “If only” becomes “I will.”

Begin with The End in Mind.
Does each part of your life and your behaviors reflect what is truly important to you? Ideally, they should. Considering, imagining and crystalizing definite goals is paramount to leading a productive and peaceful life. We actually create things twice: once in our mind and secondly “on paper” or in some physical way.

Put First Things First.
Planning and organizing our time is key. Covey shows us four quadrants in a matrix of urgent and important versus non-urgent and non-important.



The goal is to spend most time on important, non-urgent activities to achieve goals. If we spend too much time in important + urgent, we are constantly putting out fires, which leads to burnout. With proactive planning, delegating work and properly training people to do great work, an organization or group of any kind can reach its peak.

These three principles are all “Private Victories” and lay the groundwork for the remaining “Public Victory Principles.” They address our personal vision, leadership and management.

At The Arland Group, these principles have guided us. We continue to achieve great growth as we assist our clients in attracting and hiring their ideal employees. In my eight years at TAG, we have grown from eight to more than 20 employees, helped millions of applications reach recruiters and thousands of people find careers.

We build strategies from the bottom up and chart a clear course on how to get there. By way of size, we are considered a small company. But by way of our branding, social, and media strategy accomplishments, our creative solutions lead to “big” results. Clients choose us over competitors five times our size for creativity, highly effective and results-producing work plans, outstanding ROI, and white glove service, which is born from our passion for solving client problems and creating best-in-class solutions in talent acquisition.

If you are interested in reading more on Steven Covey and/or perfecting your time-management, goals and personal vision for 2018, his work can be found online and in book stores.

For more information about a transformation in your corporate talent acquisition strategy, please call TAG for 2018 trend information, including the advantages of programmatic ad campaigns, Google AdWords through our certified team of Google experts, employment branding, social content and vendor management.

Happy New Year! Cheers to an exciting path ahead of personal growth from the inside out!

#TAGBlog: A Chat with Director of Media and Strategy Gina Prestifilippo

by Alyssa Stahr

5 January, 2018

Our #TAGBlog series continues into 2018 with a look at the story of Gina Prestifilippo, The Arland Group’s director of media and strategy. Gina has gained a ton of experience in the past five years, working in full-cycle recruiting for both third party and corporate environments. Gina met our President and CEO Deb Andrychuk at a LinkedIn conference, and after Deb noticed Gina’s interest and excitement for recruitment marketing and employer branding, the ball got rolling for Gina to join the TAG Team.

Tell us the story about how you found TAG and the hiring process. What did we do right that other recruiters can learn from?

Deb and I were attending Stacy Donovan Zapar’s session at the LinkedIn conference. She inspired me to further my career development in employer branding. About six months later, she called to tell me about a position she had available and asked if I would be interested in hearing more. After a long conversation, she gave me the contact information for Stephanie (Silvey) and Jessy (Dyson). I reached out to both separately and discussed their roles within the agency, and I was able to ask open-ended questions about any concerns I may have. It gave me a real opportunity to understand how I would be contributing to the agency and how my work experience would add value to this new role. I knew right away this was an opportunity of a lifetime!

What’s the most rewarding thing about being in the talent acquisition field specifically?

I started in customer service, and knew I wanted more. When I transitioned into the talent acquisition industry, I highly enjoyed helping people find careers that suit them based on what was important to them personally. Now, to be able to help talent acquisition teams market their careers as a destination for job seekers, I’m able to reach a bigger audience and continue to help our industry grow. It’s rewarding to see our industry progress into more of a candidate’s world!

Can you take us through a typical day with TAG and what you do?

I work with clients to help enhance engagement on their recruitment marketing efforts for social media campaigns, web development needs, vendor relations, etc. On a daily basis, I network with new business opportunities to help companies expand their employer brand with our agency’s capabilities and creative services.

What’s been the biggest challenge in your job so far?

I’m lucky enough to work remote from Columbus, OH. However, the disadvantage is not being with my team in St. Louis on a daily basis. I’m an extremely social person, so missing out on getting to know everyone in the office on a personal level has been the biggest challenge for me, thus far. As I highly enjoy working out of the comfort of my own home, where my dog is my work BFF, I do look forward to seeing everyone in-person whenever I get the chance. Having a special bond with your coworkers has always been important to me. So, while I don’t see them every day, I love to shine my personality through emails, IMs and team calls!

What has been your best day at TAG?

I have a lot of ‘best’ days with TAG, I thrive on even the smallest of accomplishments! However, I do have a ‘most memorable’ day that I’d love to share! My first week with TAG, I was in St. Louis meeting the team and diving into my new position. Each night of the week, I was able to go out with a coworker and get to know each of them personally. My third day on the job, I went out to eat with Jessy, and as she was dropping me off at my hotel, I jumped out quickly so she could immediately get on the highway exit ramp. While getting out of the car, I somehow managed to slice my finger open. I knew right away that I would need stitches. Luckily, the valet attendant at my hotel rushed to my aid. After he helped carry my things to my room and attempt to bandage my wound, I told him I think it was best I go to the nearest urgent care. Fifteen miles later, I arrived by taxi to the closest urgent care that was closing 10 minutes later. Although I needed five stitches in my finger, everyone who helped me that night was so wonderful and nice. They were all very sweet to me as they knew I was only a visitor in town for the week. I truly will never forget that day! Ha! Sorry Jessy!

You work remotely, which has its pros and cons. What is your advice to both workers and companies who have a work from home policy? How do you stay self-driven since you aren’t in the traditional office every day?

I’m incredibly lucky to work from home, but would agree it does have its pros and cons. For me personally, being away from the team environment keeps me focused as I have the tendency to be quite social. Then again, I miss out on everyday conversations and/or things that happen in the office that is always fun to enjoy with coworkers.

Other than having a dog bark in the background, I appreciate listening to music when completing administrative tasks but I also enjoy the peace and quiet when trying to concentrate on creating strategy. As I am a visual person, I take a lot of notes to keep myself organized when completing personal tasks. Even though my commute is down my staircase, I still get up every morning at 6 a.m. and get ready for the work day.

If there are any companies that are weary on allowing associates to work from home, I would suggest allowing at least one day a week. It’s important for people to have a day where they feel they can escape the office to focus and accomplish work goals. Sometimes, your day could be full of meetings and/or phone calls, that find yourself working from home later that evening. If associates were able to block out one day a week just to check items off their list, I’d say it’s not only good for a person’s work performance but for their stress level as well.

What are your career goals/goals for TAG in 2018?

I am just beginning my career with The Arland Group. I have so much more to learn from my team and my mentors in the office, as well as within the industry alone, that I plan to continue educating myself and continuously improving my strategy to ultimately increase our client’s engagement with their prospective audience. Every client is different, every company’s story is different and every candidate experience is different. That is the beauty of my job and what makes every day exciting and filled with new opportunities and challenges.


Making the Magic Happen with Millennials in the Workforce

by Alyssa Stahr

22 December, 2017

Whether you’re excited to talk about millennials or view the word as a curse, the fact is that millennials are here in full force and here to stay. The Arland Group’s Vice President of Operations and Client Success, Stephanie Silvey, recently spoke at DisruptHR Talks St. Louis about the stereotypes, where they came from and how employers can win with millennials.

During her “Making the Magic Happen” speech, Silvey said that millennials are defined as the “special snowflakes” who are born between 1980 and the year 2000. They are roughly between 18 and 34 years of age, and within fewer than 10 years they are going to make up more than 75 percent of the workforce. Millennials are a defining generation in today’s workforce, and employers should note that strategies may need to change for future success.

In her research, some of the most popular stereotypes Silvey gathered regarding millennials included:

  • Time Magazine said in 2014 that millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.
  • 65 percent of Americans thought that millennials are entitled, according to the Time Magazine article, written by Joel Stein.
  • Some millennials have been given participation trophies for perfect attendance or given too many gold stars and praise when it probably wasn’t deserved.
  • With more people moving back home with their parents after college than ever before due to the burden of massive student loan debt, millennials are categorized as lazy people sleeping on their parents’ couches.

While the stereotypes don’t paint millennials in the best light, Silvey said that understanding them will help employers manage them better. She said that retirees are leaving a gaping hole in the workforce, in fact, according to an AARP poll, 48 percent of companies say they have no strategic plan for when baby boomers exit the workforce.

So, how do we manage millennials? Here are some key takeaways from Silvey:

  • They deserve more guidance and feedback when they are doing a good job and how to improve. Silvey says to forget about the six-month performance review; instead, provide consistent, daily feedback.
  • Make sure to communicate how the millennial’s role can influence the world. Additionally, encourage employees to ask a lot of questions because they really want to understand the bigger picture.
  • Sixty percent of millennials say that upward mobility growth development is extremely important to them when they are considering a new role.
  • Research shows that millennials are able to multitask at a rate that we’ve never seen before, using up to three devices a day. They bring these into meetings, and we should allow them to use their devices to take notes. Technically, millennials are able to put 20 years of tech experiences on their resume – use this to your advantage.
  • To stay competitive, employers could provide a work-life balance or flexible scheduling if the business is able to make adjustments. Gone are the days where a 60-hour workweek is the norm. Allowing employees the option to work from home one day per week or from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of a traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule may make for a more productive workforce. In fact, at The Arland Group, our work from home perk is one of our most coveted benefits.
  • A Gallup survey found that the U.S. economy lost $30.5 billion last year because of high turnover due to low millennial engagement, and research shows that external hires are paid 18-20 percent more than an internal transfer. Your job as a company is to make sure you are assessing your pay scales across your organization.

While money isn’t the No. 1 factor when millennials are considering a new job, it is important. And, since time is money, learning what makes a millennial tick could be key to your future success.



#TAGBlog 2.0 Begins With Thought Leadership

by Alyssa Stahr

30 November, 2017

The Arland Group is excited to announce the resurgence of our blog series. We’re getting a head start on 2018 by bringing to you a little TAG flavor in an effort to be closer with our readers and to provide you with an inside track on what is happening both inside our doors and our industry.

First up is a discussion on thought leadership. What exactly is a “thought leader?” At first thought (no pun intended), we look to the people who have blazed a trail in his or her respective industry to the point where people listen. Martha Stewart could be seen as a thought leader not only in the kitchen, but she has branched out to include home décor, television and media. Oprah has expanded her Harpo brand to include print publications, talk shows and acting. When Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos speak, people listen — at least I do because these thought leaders are incredibly rich. They must be doing something right.

Forbes says that a thought leader doesn’t necessarily have to be a single person. It can also be a firm that “prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.” The key takeaway here is that when this person or entity talks, it doesn’t fall on deaf ears. The entity has gained or earned the respect of its peers.

The second part of Forbes’ definition is that the thought leader profits from being a thought leader in and of itself. After all, these people or businesses don’t work for free, therefore why would they share their expertise and all they have learned for nothing? Thought leadership books, magazines, public appearances and even posts on LinkedIn all lead right back to the person’s brand. Basically, the person or company is happy to share knowledge — for a price. How did Jeff Bezos become the world’s richest person? It wasn’t by sharing his secrets or offering Amazon’s products for free.

So, can anyone who has made a buck and has something to say be a thought leader? We see the term thrown around pretty loosely these days, and while a thought leader can be any age, ethnicity, gender and come from almost any background, there needs to be some level of expertise and commitment to his or her brand. Thought Leadership Lab has simplified what it takes down to seven steps, ranging from building your influence to increasing credibility. In any event, thought leadership takes commitment, time and dedication to the respective industry in order to build trust with the masses.

We loved Forbes’ final thought on the subject: “Becoming a thought leader is about making money and making history.”







Recapping the Sweet Summer of 2016

by Chelsea Cepicky

6 December, 2016

The Arland Group’s National Honey Board team had an exciting summer full of sweet events, bees, honey and great attendees! Our team set out with a goal to help spread the education, benefits and uses of honey to a variety of groups. Below is a list of events that took place and what we did!

1.     Honey Baking Summit – June 6-8, Providence, RI

For our Honey Baking Summit, we invited 18 of the countries top bakers to Providence where we taught them technical information about honey; led them in a formal tasting with American Honey Tasting Society founder, Marina Marchese; and had Chef’s Melina Kelson and Richard Miscovich lead the group in baking demonstrations.

Attendees also had the chance to get up close and personal with the bees at Fruit Hill Apiaries, an apiary in rural Providence. Attendees went home with the skills and knowledge to incorporate honey into their bakery foods, various varietals of honey they could use to add depth to their products.

2.     Honey Baking All-Stars – June 27-20, Chicago, IL

The Honey Baking All-Stars Summit was similar to the Honey Baking Summit, except this time we invited 11 of our previous attendees from past years and had them bring their own honey formulas.

When bakers arrived in Chicago, they learned more in-depth information about honey and baked their best made with honey products. We also filmed them talking about why they love honey and use it in their products.

On the final day, we took a field trip to Sweet Beginnings, LLC., an urban apiary located in Chicago, where the bees feed on a variety of wildflowers and city plants. It was really interesting to see how bees can thrive in an urban environment. The bakers really enjoyed the opportunity to see where one of their favorite ingredients comes from.

3.     Honey Beer Summit – August 29-31, St. Louis, MO

We had 23 of the country’s best craft brewers in St. Louis for an unforgettable learning experience. Brewers attended technical sessions led by the National Honey Board, Michael Fairbrother of Moonlight Meadery and beer researcher, Hugo Patino. Attendees then toured a variety of local breweries including Urban Chestnut, Perennial Artisan Ales and Earthbound.

On the final day of the summit, the brewers toured an urban apiary in St. Louis, and had Jane Sueme, owner of Isabee’s Beekeeping Supplies, teach them about bees and demonstrate the process of extracting honey.

4.     Honey Editor Summit – September 22-25, Chicago, IL

For our final event of the year, the National Honey Board invited 11 magazine editors to Chicago to attend a summit based on honey products and trends. During this event, magazine editors learned how honey is made, participated in a variety of tastings and learned about products containing honey in a variety of food and beverage categories.

Attendees also had an opportunity to tour Eli’s Cheesecake. The entire group was excited to try some of their delicious cheesecakes, including the Honey Mediterranean Cheesecake.

Overall, the summer was valuable for both the attendees of our events and our team. It was a summer full of learning experiences, delicious treats, bees and new trends. We really enjoyed the variety of adventures and can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2017.

I Guess I’m a Businessman Now.

by Keith Seiz

17 January, 2014

I’m not a fan of inspiration in my business life. Sure, when I’m using the creative side of my brain, I find inspiration everywhere—books, magazines, music, early mornings and on airplanes. But in terms of the “business” side of running a creative agency, I’ve never been one to read books by Jack Welch or Malcolm Gladwell. I don’t care who moved my cheese.

I’m sure these are great authors and books, and they probably would help me, but I just can’t imagine sitting down and reading a book about business. Seems a dreadfully boring and unfulfilling way to spend my time.

But, as The Arland Group grows and the realities of that growth evolve my role from the second most important member of the creative team to the “business guy,” I am forced to think more about business and less about building brands and creating.

I’m not 100% on board with being a “businessman” yet, but I get it. I know that’s the path and what The Arland Group needs right now. So with my evolution comes my first “business” blog.

As I said in my first sentence, and before I started rambling, I’m not a fan of inspiration in my business life. My parents and upbringing taught me everything I needed to know about running a business. You have to work really hard, respect yourself and respect others. That’s it.

I’m a firm believer that hard work is the most important contributor of accomplishment. I know it’s been the most important factor to my success. I worked really hard when I cut grass for seven years during high school and college. I worked even harder at my first job out of college writing for a magazine. And I worked the hardest I ever have in building a business with two of my friends into a 16-person operation.

It’s hard to be a leader, though, by preaching hard work. I haven’t been able to develop the words or concepts to turn my ethos into a rallying cry. Thankfully, someone has done it for me. For the first time in my business career, I have found inspiration and assurance in a blog post by Dan Waldschmidt titled, “You have to do the hard things.” The simple blog post lists 19 hard things you have to do to be successful.

They are spot on. Every single one of them. I encourage you to go read the post in its entirety. Here are five that I feel I have mastered, and three that I need to work hard at.

The “hard things” I’m good at.

1. You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.

2. You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.

3. You have to give more than you get in return right away.

4. You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.

5. You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.

The “hard things” I need to improve on.

1. You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.

2. You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing if safe seems smarter.

3. You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.

Go read the entire blog. It’s brilliant in its simplicity and message. Here’s to finding more business inspiration in 2014.



Traffic Manager … WHAT??

by Kathy Black

30 December, 2013

As 2013 comes to a close The Arland Group excitedly is looking toward 2014, already in full swing of planning out projects, road trips and in-person events for the coming year. TAG has no time to slow down. We aren’t winding down—we are gearing up—and what a power-packed 2014 we have in front of us!

In true TAG fashion our company continues to change in order to be more productive and successful for our clients. 2014 already is seeing new faces, relocations and changing roles within the daily operations of the company.

I am happy to be filling a new role as traffic manager at TAG. What does that mean exactly? Traffic managers manage the schedule of work; communicate closely with the account management and creative teams; and track budget constraints of projects.

Sounds fun right? 2014 is sure to bring new challenges, opportunities for more growth and continued learning. I am looking forward to being a part of continued TAG success.

Happy 2014!

A Lasting Lesson

by Erin Canetta

13 December, 2013

Early this week I flew to St. Louis to spend a day working with some of the team. Our main goal was to talk about some of our largest projects coming up in 2014. I realized quickly that I did not bring the right notebook. I definitely needed something with a lot more writing room. Our next year already is starting off at a fast pace and it’s so exciting.

One of the many projects we discussed and are excited about working on is the beverage side of the business with The National Honey Board. We sat and researched what honey does to the fermentation process of beer, and in a very short time we realized it alters it quite a bit by increasing the alcohol content and smoothing out the bitterness. We learned about the craft beer market and how those businesses have been built. And we discussed how we help craft beer producers become more aware of the benefits of adding honey to their product.

When I got home from my trip, my daughter Grace—who is in fourth grade—asked me how going to school really helps her prepare for the business world. She was having a hard time relating what I was saying about my trip to what she does everyday at school. I asked her, “Does your teacher put your class into small groups with a goal or a task at hand and you have to work on it together?” She said, “Yes, all the time.” I told her, “That’s exactly what I did in St. Louis (I gave her the above example about The National Honey Board). I worked with the team and everyone brought something to the table and everyone was given a job to do.” I took the opportunity to tell her, “When you’re in those small groups, take them seriously and don’t let your team down. This is something you will do when you’re a businesswoman so always do the work and don’t look at as free time.” It was one of those rare moments as a parent when I looked in her face and felt I may have told her something she’d never forget.

It was so nice to sit in a room and brainstorm with the great minds of TAG this week. Everyone is excited and personally invested in doing a wonderful job for our clients this coming year. Going into the holiday season when you reflect upon what you’re thankful for—I’m thankful for the great people I get to work with everyday, the interesting and creative work we get to do and how I can share that experience my children. Happy Holidays!

When Losing Business is a Winning Move

by Keith Seiz

2 December, 2013

I lost. In my almost eight years of pitching, selling and telling people about The Arland Group, I’ve compiled a pretty solid record. Put me, or me and Deb in front of a potential new client, and most likely, we’ll win the business.

But I lost one last week. Made it to the final three of a brand redesign project for a West Coast company and failed to bring home the goods. It’s never fun to lose, but looking back, I’m really glad I didn’t win this business.

I lost because the potential client was a bit afraid that we would take the brand redesign a bit too far out of their comfort level. They were a conservative company in the financial industry, and they were looking for a “brand refresh.” I don’t believe in refreshing a brand. It’s an impossible task designed to placate timid clients, but not something that’s going to make an impact on the growth of a client’s business.

You don’t “refresh” brands. You tear them down and rebuild them. Sure, you sometimes arrive at a point that is very similar to the existing brand, but you have to burn the house down before you can build something new and improved.

There cannot be rules in a branding redesign project. Everything has to be at least considered in the first round of creative. It’s part of the process. A client has to allow you to bring them ideas that they never considered before. Even if they don’t make it past the first round of creative, it’s imperative to think about new approaches.

The last thing I want to hear when refreshing a company’s brand or logo is, “we can’t change the color” or “we really like the font.” Right there, you have already put my creative team in handcuffs and predetermined the brand based off of fear of change.

The creative process has to happen organically. If we rebrand a company, and its identity ends up being a minor, natural evolution, I will be completely satisfied with the finished product as long as the creative process is allowed to occur. As long, as someone is open to new ideas, I know the finished product will work, even if it’s not a significant change.

But when rules are put in place before a single idea is hatched, I know the project is not right for The Arland Group. We’re creative people and we have to be able to be creative in order to execute a finished product that makes an impact.

I don’t think the business I just lost would have allowed us be creative. They wanted a refresh, and we wanted a redesign. May seem similar, but there are vast differences in those words.

By losing the business, we won by not taking on a project that would have drained our creative team and stressed our client.

What a Difference a Year Makes

by Alyssa Stahr

18 October, 2013

Alyssa Stahr

In a few short weeks I will celebrate my one year anniversary with The Arland Group. In some ways I can’t believe it’s been a year, and in others, I feel like I’ve known the people that make up this company for my entire life.

A year ago I was going through the interviewing process, learning about what my role would be as content marketing manager and praying that I would be the lucky one to get the call. In fact, up until a couple of weeks ago I still had Keith’s voice mail telling me to call him back, that he had good news, saved in my phone as a reminder of the happiness that day brought. (Thanks ios 7 update for erasing all of my voice mails.)

During my short tenure we have moved into a much larger suite and watched as the new office space unfolded. Drywall went up, windows were built into walls and chalkboard paint has taken shape in our “content creation room.” By “our” I mean Emily Pirraglia, my content partner in crime, and me. Since my arrival she also has come on board, and there’s no one in this world I’d rather sit across from every day. She is just one of the many talented people I have collaborated with in my year here.

Keith asked us a couple of weeks ago what our defining moment in the year has been so far. It was really tough to choose among such a stellar list of exciting adventures. I have traveled across the country to assist in video production for the National Honey Board; I attended the Natural Products Expo West in March, meeting thousands of amazing entrepreneurs and one of my heroes, The Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan; I’ve created a ton of content for clients, ranging from social media posts to newsletters to blogging; I’ve basked in the glory of long-term projects resulting in happy clients. However, I think my defining moment is being able to look back and know that I have finally found a place where I feel at home.

I feel extremely blessed to have been asked to come on board at The Arland Group. It’s been a wonderful year and I’m really excited to see what the future holds!

Gibberish Doesn’t Fly

by Erin Canetta

6 September, 2013

The last time it was my turn to write this blog, I had absolutely nothing I wanted to say. So instead of making up gibberish just to fill a spot on our site, I did as my daughter did today when she forgot her homework last night and I flew under the radar. I’m happy, but not proud to say I pulled it off (I think).

I was reminded of that same feeling—of not necessarily knowing what to say—when a client came to me the other day to design an ad concept for them and gave me a ton of other examples of what their competitors are doing. I wondered do we really want to just say what everyone else is saying which eventually waters down to nothing? Or do we want venture into the deeply creative process and come up with an entirely unique and effective message? I’m proud to say, we at TAG, never take the first option.

I’ve realized in the last weeks that our team has a unique way of turning out a message. We talk about the project, get excited, get stressed, knock our heads together, get excited again, possibly argue, then get inspired, then excited yet again, back to the creative, wildly inspired and presto! After all of that, we definitely deliver a message and most of the time it’s a bulls-eye. To be effective in this business is to commit to the process of self-emersion and, although you feel like you got out of a dryer when you’re done, it’s a ride that we all take together and by which we grow.

I’m proud to say that I’m the first hire at TAG and I’ve seen the bumps of a growing company. In terms one of our newest clients, B/E Aerospace, can appreciate—we’ve gone from the Wright Bros. to a Boeing 777. And like the aerospace industry, we are always seeking to improve on our past success. Reflecting upon my earlier statement, I don’t think refusing to turn out gibberish is necessarily flying under the radar. It’s just a refusal to be disingenuous. And at TAG, we always deliver a genuine message.

Blogging 101: Oh My! It’s My blog!

by Kathy Black

19 July, 2013

kathy“Your blog post is due” is the sentence that haunts me and sends me into a tailspin for about five days. My approach to tackling my looming mountain goes sort of like this …

  • Breathe deeply and break out into a slight sweat
  • Come up with a thousand topics that quickly get thrown out as really terrible ideas
  • Whine and cry about how hard writing is
  • Try to pay Alyssa to do it for me
  • Put on my big girl pants and finally submit a subpar version of what at one point seemed like a great idea and now just sounds like a bad 500 word rant

This is how I look for about a week knowing the inevitable has to happen—submitting the blog post (to a real writer) when I have no idea of what I am doing.

The silver lining for me is that bloggers do exist and they love to write about blogging. There is a plethora of information on what a good blog post should contain.

  1. A great headline. That seems to be a common theme. Something that catches the reader’s eye and draws them in.
  2. An image. Humans are visual; we like pictures.
  3. Bullet points are good. Catch the reader’s attention and highlights your main points.
  4. Clear, smart, simple content. Blog posts should be short and engaging. Readers need to be able to read and move on.
  5. Call to action. Ask readers to share, share, share.

Blogging can be a daunting task for those of us who are not gifted with the art of the written word, however utilizing these five simple steps can make the impossible possible.

The Arland Group loves new ideas, and we always are looking for ways to engage with others. Share our blog, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @TheArlandGroup.



You Are the Brand

by Emily Pirraglia

14 June, 2013

Last week, Keith, Kathy and I had the opportunity to travel to Providence, R.I. for the Honey Summit and meet a few amazing, dedicated bakers. The Honey Summit was a great time for the bakers and for us—we spent many hours researching flights, hotels and working through all the details of the event, and it was a relief to see everything go as planned.

Preparing for an out-of-town event took a lot of coordination with our contacts in Providence. Their service and efforts reminded me of a valuable piece of advice: your actions represent more than just yourself. As a brand manager, many interactions—both online and offline—cross my path that echo this thought.

Lately we’ve seen a lot of ways an individual’s actions impact a brand. From the good (Abid Adar’s excellent customer service at Dunkin’ Donuts) to the terrible (NYU professor’s fat-shaming tweet), everything you say and do will ultimately be a reflection of your employer.

Our last night in Providence, we experienced first hand what it means to be a reflection of your brand. Stranded in an unfamiliar city with no taxi in site, we gave up trying to find one and started the long walk back to our hotel. Passing the Hilton, we tried one last ditch effort to arrange transportation by asking an employee* hanging out by the entrance if they had/knew of any available cabs that night.

His response? “No,” he said, “We don’t have any taxis around, but I wouldn’t mind giving you guys a ride to your hotel myself.” No mention of cash or reimbursement entered the discussion—he was just happy to provide exceptional service, even to people he knew weren’t Hilton customers.

At the end of the day, he didn’t stand to gain any personal recognition by helping us—we weren’t staying at the Hilton, we didn’t know his name and although we gave him a tip for his efforts, we could’ve just as easily accepted his kindness without providing any reimbursement. This guy just cared that we had a problem and went out of his way to address it. We never got his name, but we will remember that he was a Hilton employee, which makes a bigger, better brand impression on us than a banner ad ever could.

*Editor’s Note: we were not staying in Hilton brand hotel. This guy was probably on his break and definitely wasn’t obligated to help us in any way, which makes what he did awesome.


The Arland Group Inaugural Summit Finds ‘BEOW’ Factor

by Alyssa Stahr

16 May, 2013

If someone would have told me last week that the catchphrase for The Arland Group’s first ever summit was going to be “BEOW,” I would have looked at them a little sideways. But, in fact, BEOW, which stands for Branding, Engagement, Optimization and Winning! also stands for something else—our creative team hard at work.

The two-day gathering began with some of us meeting for the first time. Arlanders are spread throughout the country, and we had team members traveling in from Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago and Indianapolis. The excitement here at St. Louis headquarters was evident, and we all were ready for two days of presentations, stimulation and collaboration.

Presentations were based around talent acquisition and how TAG specializes in different facets of this realm, be it through sales, social media or customer service. We identified who we are as a company and where we want to go in the future. As someone who works on the creative side of things, it was nice to hear what the sales people do on a regular basis and how the creative team fits into that puzzle.

My esteemed TAG team member, Emily Pirraglia, and I gave a presentation on what we provide our talent acquisition clients in terms of social media and content. In the course of preparing for our presentation, BEOW was born. We posted a photo of Grumpy Cat, and BEOW instantly became a TAG phenomenon for the ages. After all, the acronym fits perfectly with what we provide our customers and what we recommend every creative agency does with their own brand.

The thing I loved most about the two-day summit was the idea phase of the meetings. We all went in with open minds and open hearts. I really feel this is a team who cares about one another and the work we produce daily for our clients. It was great to know that no matter how silly or complicated an idea was, it was still written down and discussed. After all, the most creative minds in history haven’t necessarily been the most straight-laced bunch. World-changing ideas have come from those people.

The next summit is planned for six months out, and with a focus on the creative side of things being the next topic of choice, I can’t wait to see what we come up with!


The Arland Group Has Location, Location, Location

by Kathy Black

22 March, 2013

Taylor SwiftThe Arland Group’s main office is located on historic Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. Not only do buildings with amazing architectural design surround our office building, but we also are in a prime location when it comes to enjoying all of the nightlife that the city has to offer.

Busch Stadium, Scottrade Center, The Peabody, Edward Jones Dome and Chaifetz Arena all are within walking distance or a short car ride away from our office building, and Washington Avenue is home to some of the best restaurants the city has to offer. We frequently enjoy lunch at Lucas Park Grille, Rosalita’s Cantina, Flannery’s Pub, Imo’s Pizza and Caruso’s Deli just to name a few.

The location of our office makes enjoying a night out on the town accessible and easy. This week the lovely Taylor Swift came through St. Louis for two nights on her Red Tour. As the mom of an 11-year-old daughter (and being a fan myself) it was a must-see concert. We were able to eat some great food right up the street from my office building, get to the concert and enjoy the night all within walking distance from the TAG office. Taylor played to sold-out crowds both nights, gave a shout out to the Cardinals and brought St. Louis’ own Nelly on stage to sing a duet. It was definitely a night to remember.

Working for The Arland Group is a treat all by itself, but if you couple it with a prime location and a night of food and Taylor it makes it that much better.

Twitter’s Video Response to Conveying Short Messages: Vine

by Alyssa Stahr

6 March, 2013

Hearing something through the grapevine may finally be a good thing. Since its debut in late January, the mobile app Vine is quickly rising in popularity.
The great thing about Vine is that it’s currently free on the iPhone and iPod touch, and it can be shared on Twitter and Facebook. There is no doubt that the app will be usable on other platforms sooner than later.

The bad news is that the video sharing app has a maximum length of six seconds. This begs the same question from users that Twitter did when it launched a service only allowing for 140 characters: “What in the world can I share in only six seconds?” The answer is with a little creativity, a lot. recently came out with a list of a whopping 16 ways businesses are using Vine. Here are the top three that stood out to us:

1. Engage Your Followers in Conversation.
Engagement is everything in our business. After all, just blindly posting something without asking for feedback or engaging in dialogue has little to no purpose. Vine allows for a visual boost by not only asking a question, but giving the user video options to choose from.

2. Showcase Your Work, Products and Portfolio.
No matter if your client list is long or short, a video series showcasing what you’ve done for your clients is a really fun way to highlight your work and partnerships. And, if you have something really exciting you are about to launch, a sneak peek is a great way to get clients and readers engaged in the new product, web site, page, etc.

3. Take People Inside Your Office.
The Arland Group’s home office is in St. Louis, Mo., however we have satellite offices in different cities around the country. Giving each other and our clients a glimpse into our daily lives and our awesomely decorated desks gives us a personality behind our names. We are a fun group, after all.

Newest Team Member Joins The Arland Group

by Emily Pirraglia

1 March, 2013

Only a month ago I was rubbing elbows with babies on a daily basis. As the newest team member at The Arland Group, I can confidently say that my coworkers are now older, wiser and much more engaging.

My experience between serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA and joining TAG was a difficult time. I began my job search optimistic, excited to discover a “perfect fit” company while covering my expenses babysitting. I submitted applications, attended interviews and wrote too many thank you notes to count. Still, my efforts left me empty-handed. My enthusiasm was painfully replaced with despair by the time I heard about TAG’s account manager position.

Up until my conversation with TAG, many of my interviews had the characteristics of a blind date. Awkward, uncomfortable and loaded with judgmental stares, they were tedious acts in a drawn-out play. In each interview it was clear I was the only one in the room being vetted.

Applying to and interviewing with TAG was a refreshing change to my job search experience. Even in my initial interactions I felt respected, valued and like a potential asset. I became convinced that TAG and I were a great fit, and realized that if my enthusiasm wasn’t mutual I would have a hard time returning to the plight of the unemployed. Thankfully, it was, and my excitement about TAG and the passionate folks here has yet to wane.

I am incredibly thrilled to be a part of this team and to learn from and grow with them in this new role. The respectful interaction I received from TAG during my job search is the same intentional employee engagement we advocate for our clients. I am proud to work for a company that tailors great employment branding for others while fully embracing it in their own culture.

National Honey Board: Honey A-Game

by Erin Canetta

25 January, 2013

I’m going to piggyback off of my colleague Ryan McRyhew’s back and also write about the National Honey Board film series. The first week of January, Ryan and I got the chance to work together for the second time on a video series for the National Honey Board. We rehired the same film crew and worked again with master baker, Melina Kelson. And, we got to work for the first time with our new colleague, Alyssa Stahr, who brought an ultra positive attitude to the day even though she was battling an ear infection. She is already fitting right into the the TAGteam.

At one point in the day I realized how nice it was to work with people who come in and do what they have to do with a great attitude and determination to get every last detail right. The level of professionalism and respect shared amongst the group that day made everything move along at a smooth pace.

This all is very important because it was a long day of baking eight formulas and a lot going on behind the scenes, and Melina has to look fresh and ready with every take. She is amazing to work with and always puts her A-game forward, but we have to help her with that by keeping things comfortable and fun and our group manages to pull that off every time. Joking gets a little more frequent as the day goes on and everyone really has fun together.

Most important, this all comes through in the finished product for our client. Ryan had sent me a link to the first video for the Challah bread and it looks amazing. The video will be live soon so we’ll be sure to update everyone with a link. I remembered every bit of those sequences and it’s very rewarding to see how it all comes together because we all come together as a team. I’m looking forward to our next video shoot. It’s one of my favorite projects to be a part at TAG.

Recruiting and Mitch

by Sharon Lynch

11 January, 2013

Of all the wonderful topics and opportunities that 2013 will bring, I hope and anticipate that military recruiting will rise in importance and significance. Not only should we take extra special care of these men and women, but what they also possess for innate and priceless talents, great for our business world, be it small business, healthcare, corporate, etc. is profound. Their leadership, loyalty, dependability, ability to produce results, do whatever it takes and inspiration are key whatever their years of experience, from junior to executive roles.

I’ve had the proud pleasure of having three cousins serve in the Navy—one a Navy Seal who has completed three deployments overseas. I also have two close friends who are now a CEO of a hospital and senior VP, supply chain. If I had the chance I would personally hire all five to work with me and would implicitly trust their decisions. I may be told I had a bit of nepotism going on, but it would be worth it.

Inspired by my Navy Seal cousin’s past deployment where he was gone for Christmas 2011, I reached out this past holiday season to those overseas now in his place. I organized a cookie drive and used social media, my neighborhood community Facebook page, to post a notice that I’d be sending holiday treats to “Mitch,” a referral from my cousin. My neighbors dropped off treats and letters in droves. Last week I received a personal, hand-written note from Mitch thanking us for our special shipment: “You made a lot of soldiers, Marines, Seals, sailors and airmen very happy and very full.” I was in awe that he took the time to do this. Yet another priceless trait.

There are thousands of “Mitch’s” currently available for hire who work in accounting, finance, logistics/supply chain, inventory, IT, engineering, recruiting, health care, marketing, customer service, hospitality and in more fields that you actually might imagine, in order to keep our troops organized and cared for. As a recruiter, not only can you target this fantastic group with ads, job postings, direct mail, social and mobile media, you can meet them live at career fairs and sponsor booths. Here at The Arland Group, this is yet another area of expertise where we can provide direction and help you find your own “Mitch,” or several, to help take your company to the next level.

We wish you and yours a prosperous and joyful 2013! And special thanks and gratitude for all those who are or have served our country.

TAG: Holiday Cheer

by Deb Andrychuk

27 December, 2012

The words “holiday season” mean different things to different people. For some, it means gift giving and for others it’s deeply spiritual. For others it simply means sharing time with family and loved ones.

For me, it has always been a time to reflect on the year and to give thanks for all of the gifts bestowed upon me throughout the year. This year in particular, I have so much to be grateful for. Outside of having a family that I cherish, I work with an amazing team of folks here at The Arland Group. Yeah, yeah … I know you hear this Hallmark type sentiment all the time, but I am being FOR REAL! Our team is truly like family. And, without question, if you asked my fellow TAGers they would affectionately acknowledge that I am the slightly dysfunctional person in the group (sort of like the crazy aunt who comes to visit without the weird hair or strange clothes.) You know we sales people can be a bit quirky, right? We have the unwritten responsibility to bring life to the party (OK, drama). But, I think what’s great is that my peeps recognize that my flair for the dramatics is just part of what makes me who I am (yes, you got it—CRAZY). I enjoy making others laugh and smile. It’s an essential piece to my job and to enjoying life in general.

So, to my awesome work family, I raise my glass and I toast you! I thank you for the long hours and amazing work you produce. For every amazing piece of creative and all the inspiring content that you have come up with, I salute you! I thank you also for no complaints even when you had every right to cry, especially when I asked for the impossible and then said, “I need this ASAP!”  And, I hope that my craziness has not worn you down yet, because we have lots to do in 2013! Last, I appreciate you for accepting me, even when I’m in desperate need of a home visit from Jerry Springer or maybe Dr. Phil. I will try to curb my kookiness for the New Year.

And, as we close out a hugely successful 2012, I wish you all much peace and happiness for 2013!  Here’s to our best year ever!
Happy New Year!

My First Month at The Arland Group

by Alyssa Stahr

19 December, 2012

It’s usually a whirlwind in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas in a normal year, and this December is no exception. Since starting a new job at The Arland Group on the day before my birthday, it has been an exciting time. In having multiple social media accounts to tend to, among other projects, I am learning to prioritize and manage my time in a different way, yet in a similar way to what I have done in the past with production. The color-coded Google calendar has saved my life!

My favorite thing so far has to be writing for the National Honey Board. I love writing these trend stories, the most recent one being about candy and chocolate sales for the holidays. I am a writer and naturally inquisitive at heart, so this definitely has been a joy to do.

Moving into a new office in my short time here also has been fun. After working from home for two years, it’s nice to have an office with a window, even though there is zero time for daydreaming! I’m looking forward to seeing how this large space transforms over the next couple of months.

I also just found out that I’m going to Chicago the first week of January for a photo shoot and to tour a cheesecake bakery. I am so excited to travel north and learn some new things.

I have absolutely loved my time here so far and feel so blessed to have this job and the awesome opportunity for the future. It was the best birthday present I have ever received. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and cheers to a happy, healthy 2013.

Getting Social with The Arland Group

by Alyssa Stahr

13 December, 2012

We at The Arland Group are a creative agency that focuses strongly on social media strategy for clients. Therefore, it’s only fitting that we put some focus on our own social media, right?

The Arland Group’s Facebook page serves as our home of sharing. Whether it is sharing a client site launch or news; fun around the new office; or posting our weekly blog from one of us, Facebook is the place to go for the latest in Arland Group news.

Twitter also is growing by leaps and bounds. The Arland Group tweets multiple times a week, making sure we are up on the latest client news, as well as our friends in social media. We also are on LinkedIn and Google+, following and sharing job interview tips, blogs and job openings through these media.

Lastly, for those wanting a more visual presence, follow The Arland Group on Flickr and Instagram. Here you will get a chance to be upclose and personal with The Arland Group family … and their cute babies. And, who doesn’t love a cute baby photo?

One Year Down!

by Kathy Black

12 December, 2012

It is true. I have been at The Arland Group for one year. The actual date is 12/12/12; I even get a pretty cool anniversary date!

Things that were foreign to me a year ago are becoming a normal part of my day. That overwhelming feeling that hit me almost daily for the first 6 months has subsided and only happens once every couple of weeks now. Some days are more hectic than others and I am still learning, but this year has been pretty amazing and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

We have semi-officially moved into a bigger office across the hall; our headquarters has been relocated to St. Louis; three new members have been added to the team; and projects keep rolling in. Weeks fly by and weekends seem to move at the speed of light. July seems like it happened yesterday and yet here we are looking forward to Christmas.

Being a part of a creative, focused, successful and driven group of dedicated people is just as much fun as it sounds, and I am looking forward to a fantastic 2013!

Keith and his family love IHOP. Upon a recent visit to their local library they happened upon a silent auction where local businesses each sponsored a tree. On that tree, besides the great ornaments, were gift cards. Keith scored the gift cards and the perfect office tree, which will greet people alongside Kathy in her new office.[/caption]

Disney Disappointment

by Keith Seiz

30 October, 2012

Fresh off the heels of a wonderful, five-day excursion to Disney World with wife and child in tow, I thought I would share a few observations about the vacation and my impressions of the Walt Disney World Empire:

1. Personally, the trip was a smashing success. The Seiz Family all had a wonderful time, and like the Olympics, I assume it will become a quadrennial tradition for my soon to be family of four.

2. From a work perspective, the trip did not disappoint either. I didn’t look at one email or take one business call for the five days I was gone.

3. My last trip to Disney was when I was 14 years old, and honestly, nothing has changed. Sure, there are a few new attractions, but the bread and butter of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and MGM/Hollywood Studios is still the same.

4. The sameness of Walt Disneyworld disappointed me. In many aspects, the parks almost seemed irrelevant. Where was the new technology? How do they plan to continue appealing to kids growing up with technology when everything seemed so dated and old?

5. Tomorrowland should be renamed 1980sville. What’s supposed to be a vision of the future looks like August 14, 1987 in Akron, Ohio.

6. You’re really highlighting astronaut ice cream? Really? That novelty was wearing thin when I was a kid.

I understand the “Disney Charm” and to make the place look like a video game would detract from this charm. Still, a rejuvenation is needed, and a comprehensive one at that, spanning from the uniforms the employees wear to the point of sale processes to updating the cars in Tomorrowland’s Speedway so they are not insanely noisy, gas guzzling engines.

Businesses, regardless of how big or small, must always keep innovating. Disney needs to step up its innovation or face challenging times ahead.

First Honey Summit on September 26 in Chicago

by Erin Canetta

11 October, 2012

One of our biggest undertakings of 2012 has been our first Honey Summit, hosted by the National Honey Board at Kendall College in Chicago. This was a full day event of presentations, demonstrations and an afternoon workshop where all the attendees had the opportunity to bake with honey. We started planning this event back in March and it took most of the TAG team to organize. And although many hours of sleep were lost as the date approached, it was one of the most enjoyable and unifying projects we’ve had.

The day started with a very interesting Baking Industry Trends study presented by John Unrein, Editor of Bake Magazine. John’s study focused on how the consumer is changing and becoming increasingly focused on natural products.

Keith Seiz gave back-to-back presentations. The first covered the use of honey in the baking industry. This was a fun presentation allowing all the attendees to sample a wide array of honeys. As we sampled these, Keith let everyone know what the practical use of each is as well as any substitution facts. His second presentation addressed engaging customers with honey. This was a demographic study on the current health of the average person globally and how honey can impact a healthier life choice in our everyday diets.

Heather Henstock, a baking industry writer and former editor of Modern Baking Magazine, presented honey case studies. She took us through how big wholesale bakers are using honey in their products and how honey is a selling point for brands.

Kendall College treated everyone to a wonderful lunch with honey infused options of chicken and salmon while Melina Kelson, Master Baker and Instructor at Kendall, demonstrated baking with honey. This was very much a hands-on demonstration and attendees were invited up to get a close look at what Melina was doing as well as freely ask any questions.

The last presentation was given by, Baking Industry Research Consultant, David Ropa. David has worked with the National Honey Board for twenty years researching honey substitutions in baking products. He brought many samples along for everyone to sample the same product baked with sugar, stevia, honey and other sweeteners. It was interesting to sample these products together and really taste the difference. He gave substitution specifics and was able to answer a lot of technical questions for the attendees.

We moved into an afternoon workshop where everyone put on their baker’s whites and tried their hand at honey cookies, honey carrot muffins, honey mousse, honey slipper bread, morning buns, pecan sticky buns and/or honey cake. This was a fun session that allowed everyone to express them selves, socialize and share ideas. And the taste-testing was definitely the best part. Everyone was a winner and everyone walked away knowing a lot more about honey.

In the weeks since, we are still hearing nice things from the bakers who attended. We were able to create awareness for a great product that benefits our society’s health habits. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Go For It!!

by Kathy Black

21 September, 2012

Picture this…a woman on the corner of a very busy St. Louis intersection, dressed in head to toe hot pink (literally), headphones on, smiling from ear to ear and waving at passers by, all the while, dancing (I mean breaking it down) like she was on a stage with the spotlights pointed toward her. Oh Yes! That happened.

Several thoughts ran through my head upon witnessing this.
A) She is the best thing that I have ever seen.
B) What possesses a person to do such a thing? And why is she wearing head to toe hot pink?
C) I wish I could be that confident!!

As a person that is naturally very reserved and self-conscious, I would NEVER put myself out there like this woman did. But, I did see a lesson in it. People are going to think what they are going to think. Even if you are quietly going about your day, minding your own business, someone somewhere is passing some sort of judgment on you. So why do we care so much? Why do we waste so much of our time and energy worrying about/thinking about/obsessing about what others think of us?

The answer? Perception. How is going to make me look if I make this decision and who is going to disagree with me? How does it look if I take a strong stance on an issue and who am I going to offend? Who will I have to explain myself to if I make the call on a business decision and what will the fall out be? Call the woman in hot pink crazy or call her confident, the point is that someone was calling her something and she did not care! So make the decision, don’t apologize for your feelings and have enough confidence in your choices to take responsibility for them, even if the result isn’t what you (or others) expected.

So a big shout out and a huge THANK YOU to the dancing lady in hot pink for reminding me that everyone has an opinion on what you should or shouldn’t do and that sometimes you just need to stand on the corner, get Jiggy with it and Go For It!

Distracted Much?

by Deb Andrychuk

14 September, 2012

Someone shared a blog post with me recently where the author, Joe Kraus, talks about how we are creating a culture of distraction: he says we have created an environment where we have become increasingly disconnected from the people around us and unable to engage in creative long form thinking all due to overuse of technology. He laments our loss of ability to truly interact with people and develop real relationships and how we are further diminishing our ability to think creatively because we are filling our down time with texts, tweets and emails and other tech related interruptions. For example, instead of waiting in a line at the bank and spending five minutes letting our minds wander and having time for our long form creative thinking to kick in, we immediately look to our phone to stimulate us, to fill the gap while we wait. Have you ever glanced at the car next to you while stopped at a red light? Look around, and you will see everyone is head down, intently focused on their smart phones, and terrifyingly disengaged with what’s happening around them. It’s no surprise to me that there were 100,000 accidents last year involving texts according to the National Safety Council. Frankly, I am shocked the number isn’t much, much higher.

Do you get your best ideas in the shower? If you do it’s because it’s probably the only place where you haven’t implemented technology to divert you. Just think how creative and productive you would be if you weren’t getting pinged every 2 minutes on email. Or, how much more relaxed would you be? What could you accomplish if your mind was able to meander quietly a few times a day?

In addition to the negative consequences already mentioned, this unhealthy over stimulation of the brain is also causing us undue anxiety. The constant need to send that pay off signal to the brain when receiving emails and texts is comparable to the feeling we get when we are playing a slot machine. I’m sure all the hard core gamblers are thinking this could be okay, but seriously, it’s not good for you! We need to change!

My commitment to myself is that I am going to put forth extra effort to be less distracted, more present in social situations with clients, friends and especially family.
Here’s my personal plan to be more engaged, less stressed and “wired up”:

  1. Sunday will be a Tech Free Day. On Sunday’s, I will be strive to be 100% present with my family. No technology allowed at all. This will be very difficult for me as I love to “check in” on Foursquare, scan Twitter and Facebook and am constantly reading texts.
  2. During the week, especially in meetings, I am committed to not sneaking peeks at my smartphone emails, Tweets, Facebook posts, etc. and focusing solely on what everyone is saying right in front of me and being the best listener I can possibly be. Admittedly, if I am in a long meeting, I am dying to check my phone.
  3. When I need to focus on getting a project done, I will shut off my email for set periods of time. This will be a game changer for me.
  4. Despite the magnetic pull to do so, I will refuse to check my smartphone for texts/emails in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. I will at least save it for after that first cup of coffee.

So, I will let you know how this new way of living is working for me. I hope that you will give it a shot as well. I would love to hear what your experiences have been! We could all benefit from fewer distractions. It’s time to start living again…exchange words…listen to each other. Day dream. Be present. Enjoy life!!

Why It’s Important to Embrace Employee Engagement Now

by The Arland Group

28 August, 2012

This article about what companies will do differently in the digital future has a good section- embrace employee engagement. This really supports our point for why companies need to have a separate careers page on social media because it’s not only about recruiting active and passive candidates, it’s about showcasing your company’s culture and the fact that current employees actually like working there. We really try to stress this when we talk to companies and when explaining why it’s becoming more and more important to embrace the cultural shift and have a presence in social media from an employment branding standpoint.

The Real Secret to Mastering SEO

by The Arland Group

24 August, 2012

Time and time again we get asked what the secret to mastering SEO is. We find ourselves explaining that the key isn’t through clever tricks, maneuvering or figuring out some deep dark secret. It’s about reaching people. And the greatest way to do that is by providing great content and avenues for interaction on your site. This article pretty much sums up what we’ve been saying all along.

We Can’t Wait for Honey Summit 2012!

by Erin Canetta

13 August, 2012

One of the best parts of working at TAG is the variety our individual jobs offer. I can get a magazine to the printer one day and be on a plane to visit our St. Louis office the next day to discuss an upcoming summit for The National Honey Board just to come the following day and design two flyers for Safelite. I can honestly say I’m never bored here…maybe a little stir crazy… but never bored.

After discussing our upcoming summit for NHB, I could not be more excited about this project. It will be a full day of idea sharing where all the attendees and the TAG team roll up our sleeves and actually bake with honey. Of course this idea originates with our mastermind, Keith. But to be a major part of an event that brings so much back to the client is rewarding. It’s the reason we do what we do.

The event will take place in my hometown, Chicago on September 26th at Kendall College and we’ll partner again with Master Baker, Melina Kelson, whose professionalism and level of expertise is inspiring.

Out-of-the-box ideas such as this are what set us apart. To put on an event like this will surely give me an ulcer by the time it’s done because I’ll want it to be perfect. However, I know from the video series we completed for NHB, it’s guaranteed to be something we all walk away from feeling a sense of gratification and pride that we reached a high level of achievement.

Whether your interest is saving lives, selling cars, winning gold medals or marketing clients, when you’re doing something you really enjoy and you reach your goal, especially as a team, the reward is not measurable. So, now that I’ve really built this up and set myself up, this summit better come off without a hitch. I can’t wait for this event and I’m sure to write another blog reporting on its results. Stay tuned!

Olympics are for Boys

by Kathy Black

30 July, 2012

“Olympics are for boys” Crushing words heard by a father from his two year old daughter. Historically the Olympics have been for male athletes alone and women were expected to cheer the men along from the stands. It has been a long road and a major accomplishment for women to be able to compete along side their male counterparts on the largest sporting stage in the world. So for all of the little girls out there, who still have yet to realize that girls can do anything boys can do here are some Olympic Women’s Facts:

Women participated in the Olympics for the first time at the 1900 Paris Games. The only events available were lawn tennis and golf. American, Margaret Abbott, claimed the gold in golf and became the first American woman to take home a Gold medal. Many events were added as the years passed including: swimming in 1912, women’s athletics and gymnastics debuted at the1928 games, women’s shooting events were first included in 1984 and the 2000 games added weightlifting.
This year, at the 2012 London summer games, women’s boxing has been added resulting in no remaining Olympic sports that do not include events for women.

Another historic moment that comes with this year’s games, every nation that is represented at the games will have a female athlete. This is the first time in history that every competing nation will have female representation.

All of the hard work and dedication that women athletes have put forth comes down to a moment where dreams of Olympic gold either come true or are put on hold for the next 4 years when the opportunity to stand on the world’s stage of sports presents itself again.

The Arland Group wishes all of the athletes competing in the games “Good Luck” and will be cheering on “Team USA” both men and women athletes!!

Recruiting: Are You Labeling Job Seekers?

by Deb Andrychuk

13 July, 2012

I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the Nationwide Insurance Talent Acquisition conference at the end of June in Columbus, Ohio. Slotted to present the day after their keynote speaker, Eric Winegardner who is VP of Client Adoption & Strategy at Monster, all I could do was wonder if I could measure up to my friend and former co-worker who is a freaking rock star with a microphone and Powerpoint. For those of you who don’t know @ewmonster, he is a bigger than life personality and one of the most fun people I know. He’s a fascinating blend of ex-HR person, fashion policeman, recruitment industry thought leader, fashion advisor, culinary critic, recruitment trends analyst, stand-up comedian and fearless customer/jobseeker advocate all wrapped up into one uncanny resemblance to Jack Black. He is also one of the most engaging speakers in human capital that you could ever have the pleasure of spending time with and he is damn funny!

But, I have to tell you, watching Eric was a real eye opener for me. In that conference room at the Hyatt, Eric got the crowd (me included) thinking about how important it is to treat your job seekers like you would your own consumers and to focus on the sacred candidate experience. After poking fun at Nationwide’s use of Lotus notes, he next dared everyone to think about how job seekers are labeled and the lack of equity that exists in a job search by the unemployed versus the gainfully employed. With 12.7 million unemployed Americans in June 2012, the equivalent of the population of the 30 smallest states (individually), Eric shared that many of the unemployed were just victims of circumstance. How could this classification be an okay practice based on the current economic conditions and the jobs crisis across America today?

He went on to say that “Unemployed” is without a doubt the biggest stigma you can attach to a job seeker right now. It’s become so uncool to hire the unemployed that some companies have begun putting a line in their advertisements, “Unemployed need not apply.” Eric stated wryly to the group, “It’s like saying that only married people are worth dating.” Quiet filled the room as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. Had I not made a living pounding into my clients’ heads how it was imperative that we get their brand and positions in front of the elusive yet exclusive passive job seeker? Don’t we all put a premium on the passive seeker and look down our noses at the active? Haven’t we all been told “That the active seeker couldn’t possibly be talented, he’s looking for a job!?” How is it that just a few short years ago, it was perfectly très chic to search for your next venture on a job board, and now candidate hide the fact that they saw your ad there? It’s no wonder that candidates don’t apply to job postings at the same frequency that we witnessed ten or even five years ago. They are afraid they will be labeled. And, we have taught job seekers that they have to find a more cunning entrance into your company. Whether the candidate feels like they must leverage that they are a “referral” when applying, or we teach them to indicate in your ATS that they saw the job listing on a social media site or simply “other” resource. We have taught them that it is simply not okay to be an active seeker looking job posting and that they need to lie in order to get their foot in the door. Sound familiar?

Now a few weeks later after the conference, I’ve had time to reflect and I’m really glad that Eric spoke first…it made me realize that I had something to learn and it didn’t really matter what I was going to look like or sound like the next day. It was about me being there to hear his message and it really touched me. I absolutely feel some shame and responsibility for adding fuel to the fire all these year and being part of the problem when it comes to labeling job seekers. I want to own up to my mistake. So, here I am sharing with all of you (there are like 12 people who read this blog, right?) Hear me people, “I was WRONG!” Further, I pledge that I will be open to promoting all jobseekers to Arland and client openings, regardless of how they come into the funnel.

I beg all of you who influence or make hiring decisions to offer everyone a fair and equitable chance at employment. Make your choices based on what’s right: Who is most qualified for the job? Everyone deserves the chance at the American Dream. Give them their chance, okay?

Wisdom Comes With Age, Hopefully

by Kathy Black

25 May, 2012

In the St. Louis office, part of the decor and charm is the Inspiration Wall. The concept is rather simple, find something that inspires you and hang it on the wall. Our wall consists of magazine articles, photos and some of the branding and advertising projects that The Arland Group has been responsible for. Most of what hangs on our Inspiration Wall is compliments of Keith. Megan and I need to step up our game.

My inspiration, that has yet to make it to the wall, is actually a quote from my grandfather. He said to me last July 25th, “You hear a billion words a day and they all run together and most of them don’t mean anything.” I sat there and took it all in. He was just talking out loud really, as if I wasn’t even in the room. He and I sat there together with no one else in the house, as he ate the McDonald’s that I had just brought for him and it dawned on me that there sat a man that has lived a lifetime spanning from the Great Depression to Facebook, Twitter and texting. And he was right, so many words, so little meaning just like that, the wisdom of a grandfather was being shared with me and he didn’t even realize it, but I did.

Understanding the truth in that statement comes only with time and age. Learning that the person that is always doing the talking isn’t the person that knows the most is a life lesson, that if learned early, can save us from a lot of frustration. Those people will at times grab attention, because they usually demand it, and try to keep the focus on themselves by making noise. Being quiet, composed and poised are traits that are harder to come by. Most people want to associate with those that actually mean what they say and say what they mean.

Without even realizing it, we adopt this principal every day at The Arland Group. It’s one of the reasons that I genuinely enjoy being part of this team. Wasting words and telling people what they want to hear isn’t who we are. We’re a company that produces quality work and being proud of how we conduct business will always be at the center of what we do. It’s nice to know that my addition to the Inspiration Wall will serve as a great reminder of this.

No Candy Bars for Bad Behavior

by Deb Andrychuk

16 April, 2012

Last night I ran to the drugstore to pick up some allergy meds. While perusing over the different brands of antihistamines and in my own little world, I was abruptly shoved back to reality by the shrill screams of a little boy sitting in a cart about 3 feet away. He was shouting emphatically to his obviously drained mother “No, mommy, YOU shut up! I not gonna be quiet!!” He then began grabbing whatever items were within arm’s length, hurling the medicines like missiles down aisle 8. The Sudafed went whizzing by first (see-ya!) Then the Mucinex went sailing over mommy’s head, and the store brands were chucked next. I ran for cover and headed for the front of the store to pay and avoid being knocked out by NyQuil.

Now, here’s where it gets really interesting. Mom brings the little guy up to the check-out counter and begins showing him all of the “yummy candies” he can choose from. I immediately get my hackles up and think, “WHAT?! Are you kidding me?” Not that I thought little Hitler should be beaten or ostracized in public, but in no way did I think he should be rewarded. Then, it occurred to me that this is what happens every day in the business world, especially in sales. Sales people who behave badly are constantly given accolades, put on pedestals and promoted. WTH?

Practically every week I witness bad behavior from certain sales people in our industry and it baffles me. It is so bad that I sometimes cannot even sleep at night because it blows my mind that my clients, who are wonderful people, would do business with anyone who would behave so inappropriately. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the sales people who lie and manufacture stories about the competition to win a deal or make their clients feel stupid for doing business with someone other than them. I am referring to those arrogant sales people who truly believe that every customer owes them a call back, even though they are one in 50 calls or emails a day. And, when they don’t get what they want, they go over their client’s head. Get real! If clients did nothing but return calls/emails, no work would ever get done! And, I especially love the sales person who shows up uninvited and unannounced, demanding to be seen because “they have something important they need to discuss.” Um, wow…I thought it was about the customer? Now trust me, I think that partnership is a two-way street and that customers have a level of responsibility and commitment to the vendor/sales person, but this is still uncalled for any way you look at it. Do you agree? I would rather lose than lie and I would certainly never treat my clients with disrespect. I honestly feel you can be successful AND act like a decent human being. When did being a good person become so unfashionable?

Okay, done ranting…but parents, please don’t reward Johnny with a Snickers the next time he has a nuclear meltdown in Walmart, okay? You are setting him up for failure later in life in allowing him to think that it’s all about him or that it’s good to be bad. And, customers please don’t tolerate rude and pig-headed behavior from your vendors. Buying from rude people only serves to send the wrong message to the seller that it’s okay to crap on you. It’s not okay…

Stepping Into a New Role

by Kathy Black

27 March, 2012

I am proud to be the newest member of the Arland team. What started out as a message on Facebook to an old high school friend, has proven to be an exciting new role to fill. As I stepped into the St. Louis office three months ago, I had no idea exactly what I was walking into but I knew that I was up to the challenge.

For the past 15 years of my life, I have been a mother. That role started for me at the very young age of 19. Maybe not the proudest moment in my life, being a teenage mom, but definitely one of the most fulfilling roles that I get to continue to experience on a daily basis. A major part of my adult life consisted of being a stay-at-home mom to 3 of the most wonderful kids any parent could ask for. Some may think that a stay-at-home mom has it made, nothing to really do and nowhere to have to be on a daily basis. It may seem like heaven to most, but being a stay-at-home mom is an endless job.  It’s definitely a role that is never filled, never ends and doesn’t just remain in the confines of an eight-hour workday. There are no hour lunches, paid vacations or sick days, however the benefits that come with the role, while often times go unnoticed by others, include many moments that can never be replaced. To the mom that fills that role those moments are priceless.

I have filled several different roles in my life, all of them expecting certain things from me. I have been an aide at my local library and a Paraprofessional at the High School in my community. I am currently a cheerleading coach and have gone from stay-at-home mom to working mom. Some roles I have filled successfully, others not so much.  But, all of the positions that I have filled have led me to The Arland Group.  I have not filled a single job position previously that could have prepared me for the one that I hold now. However, having managed a household, schedules of 3 busy kids, navigated the halls of a high school and at times managed 40 plus cheerleaders by myself has prepared me to think on my feet and to be ready for anything.

As I feel my way through filling my new role at The Arland Group, I have found that advertising is not as easy as it looks. Websites and website design take a lot of man hours, employment branding is just as important as the brand itself, writing is an art and deadlines are stressful. The Arland Group encompasses many different roles as a company and I am very happy to be filling all of the roles that are given to me.


by Keith Seiz

2 March, 2012

I’m writing this blog from 31,000 feet in the air. It’s late, I’m tired and I’m questioning whether or not I’m going to get a second gin and tonic before landing in St. Louis.

I’m also wondering if my mom is going to have to wait long for me to arrive. Yes, my mom still occasionally picks me up from the airport. I know I’m 34, run a successful agency and said agency would have no problem footing the bill for long-term airport parking. But, it’s good seeing mom, and the $144 I save in parking fees can go to keeping our overhead low and rates reasonable.

I’m flying home from Spokane, Washington. Most business trips I take are in and out. I see the airport, the rental car, the client and my hotel room. This trip, however, I have an outstanding traveling partner in our creative director and my friend, Jonathan. So instead of airport, meeting, hotel, airport, we extended the trip a couple days and headed into the isolation of Northern Idaho to be creative.

We did everything we could to remove ourselves from the business of our business.

We talked a lot, laughed a lot, argued a bit, had a few cocktails and even went skiing. Most importantly, we were creative without forcing it. No set times to dedicate to a specific project.  No squeezing in an hour of design work between conference calls.

We just lived life outside of The Arland Group while talking on and off about four major branding projects we are working on and the type of creative we would need to make them amazing.

And you know what, we killed it. We’re talking award winning ideas.

The lesson: isolate yourself from your business to produce exceptional work. It doesn’t matter if you toil in the creative field like we do or crunch numbers for an accounting firm. Get away. Shut your door. Turn off your computer and cell phone. If you can, don’t go into work and go somewhere else instead where no one can reach you.

Pick up a pencil and a pad of paper, think and start working. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish.

An Adaptable Lesson

by Erin Canetta

9 February, 2012

Being a mom of two daughters, I’m constantly wondering how I can improve my mothering skills so as to achieve putting two strong, confident and kind women into the world. Always keeping an ear open for mothering tips, I heard one of the most poignant pieces of advice when I was listening to an interview with Maya Angelou.

She was talking about being a young mom who was always in a hurry giving her kids one piece of direction or another. She realized she was so concerned with what they were doing that she lost her focus on them. She came up with the idea of making sure every time one of her children entered the room—first thing in the morning or coming home from school or some other place—to stop what she was doing, look them in eye, smile, call them by their name and tell them she was happy to see them. Before, long she noticed this small change was having a profoundly positive affect on their self-esteem. Ms. Angelou came to the simple but very important realization that what everyone wants most is to be acknowledged.

So of course, I implemented this approach immediately and I do have to say it’s not only had a positive effect on my children’s overall behavior but in their reaction towards me. They too have started to tell me they’re happy to see me every time I enter the room for the first time—even my 2 yr old.  And they’ve started saying it their dad and grandma, the woman behind the deli counter, teachers, etc. And the response back to them has been extraordinarily positive. What a valuable lesson for them as future mothers, wives, business women, and just people in the world to readily and easily acknowledge another’s presence with an inferred worth.

I contemplated this lesson a little further to figure out if it applied beyond my approach to my children and personal relationships. I started to ask myself, what do my clients want most from their agency? They want to be acknowledged and valued. What do they want most for their product or service? They want it to be acknowledged for its uniqueness in the market and welcomed into the hands of their customer.

It hit me, that this is exactly why our small agency is growing so quickly. Collectively, we are very good at acknowledging the value and worth that our clients hold in their markets. We have never met or talked to a client who wasn’t excited about what they do. So we come back to our offices and talk and we get excited. We’ve acknowledged them and they know it. With that established, we understand our direction on every account with clarity. It’s amazing that we were doing this without realizing it but that’s what makes us a solid team. We’ve learned this lesson together and we execute it everyday.

My Glass Isn’t Just Half Full, It’s Broken

by Deb Andrychuk

3 February, 2012

Years ago, I had a prospect that I had been pursuing for several months, with zero success.  I couldn’t sell them a thing. I had used all of my awesome sales training (Selling to VITO, Spin Selling, Give ‘Em the Pickle and more) to no avail. The client had expressed their pains, and I had listened attentively and then diligently worked alongside of them to fashion a solution that they agreed would solve their problems and certainly make their lives easier.  The stumbling block was neither my contact nor his boss would take the risk and pull the trigger.  Why? Because, in their eyes, change meant running the risk of making a huge mistake in front of peers or senior executives.  Their fear of failure paralyzed and wedded them forever to their existing solution which was an admitted failure.

After disclosing in a tense pipeline review that another month would pass without this account closing, my manager sat me down.  He had disappointment in his eyes and said these words I will never forget:  ”It’s time you change up your approach- you’re growing stale.  You need to get serious and break some glass or you will never get your customers to break it!”  I was super frustrated and confused (break the glass?  What in the world was he talking about?!)  I wondered if my manager could tell that I wanted to throw everything in my cubicle including him.  Then being sensitive to criticism, I felt my neck grow hot, embarrassed and shocked that someone actually thought my approach had gotten old.  I mean, seriously, who the heck was he talking to?  I had been told by clients that I was like an entire cheer squad, or a cute puppy with a severe case of ADD, but never had I been called stale.  It took me a long time to get over that horrible moment in my cube…Looking back now; I understand what he was trying to do.  He was giving me the big shove I needed to take a different approach and ruffle some feathers to get my point across.

Today, I speak to talent acquisition leaders daily and some of them are managing recruiting programs that are seriously flat lining. Sadly, some are incorporating recruiting methodologies and processes that were used 10-15 years ago and they are genuinely disturbed and saddened that the old “post and pray” isn’t effective anymore.  Unfortunately, this is what happens when no one questions “the method behind your madness” or no one cares to challenge the status quo or when HR can’t get support from the rest of the business and they are relegated to being just a huge cost center.  And, let’s face it, recruiting is not an easy gig right now and there is certainly no silver bullet.  It is much easier to just sit back and keep riding the same old recruiting train.  We can kick back and make stops here and there to lay blame:  job boards don’t work, social media is unsafe and unproven, we lack resources or budget, or our website sucks, the economy blows, my recruiters are lazy, and the list goes on and on and on…

Personally, I made a vow to myself at the beginning of the year to find ways to start chipping away at the legacy glassware that has become the accepted and the norm.  I am pushing myself to have frank, honest and sometimes uncomfortable discussions with my clients and hope that they don’t get their feelings hurt or throw me out of their offices.  The questions aren’t that crazy, but you never know when you are knocking someone’s baby.  ”Do you know who you are and why anyone would want to work for you?”, “Do you believe that your (fill in the blank with-process/job postings/ careersite/ branding) is effective?” or “Why do your current employees stay/leave?” Oh, and by the way, if you do know the answers to these questions, then why in the heck aren’t you sharing your story and/or fixing the issues?   It might be a little uncomfortable, but not asking would be a disservice to our clients.  I am going to help who I can that will listen and divert my attention from those that continue to don their 1999 recruiting earmuffs.  I know that I might emerge at the end of 2012 with a few cuts and bruises, but I’m sticking to the plan because I can’t let myself or my customers get stale.

Final thought:  I don’t recommend going in Rambo style and shattering everything in sight, but my mantra is “Take out your velvet hammer and start tapping, kids!”  Life is better when the glass is half full and a bit broken.

Magazines Don’t Have To Die

by Erin Canetta

13 December, 2011

Mobile devices have completely altered publishing. We’ve heard about the chains like Borders going under and we’ve seen magazines shrinking and disappearing and this has all happened in a very small span of time. When I started in the magazine business 14 years ago, we were still sending film to our printer to be scanned and made digital for us. It took six people to design, write and produce our largest publication but it was a beast at 100+ pages per issue. Today, that same magazine averages 44 pages and only has three people on staff not including sales reps. Many big b2b publishing companies are turning into ghost towns and those who are left know their days are numbered. In the last 3 years, I’ve known of 47 different b2b titles that have shuttered their doors.

That said, our client, Convenience Store Decisions—a b2b magazine—has had an absolutely incredible year. This is a magazine that a large publishing company ran into the ground and walked away from. A young publishing company, Harbor Communications, bought the title and completely turned it around. What did they do right? Everything. They refused to print an issue less than 68 pages even if they only had 15 ad pages to start, they didn’t skimp on paper or ink quality, they gathered an incredibly potent sales and publishing force, stood behind their talented editorial staff and hired a group of designers who have been with them all the way to help put their magazine at the top of its game—if we do say so ourselves.  They have never sold their industry or themselves short. Everything about them says quality. But they have also redesigned their website, developed a mobile application, created conferences and basically done everything they can to cater to their industry while moving in the direction that technology is taking them.  They haven’t given up on the paper product nor should they. Rather, their paper, web and mobile products along with their in-person events all work in conjunction with one another to support the CSD brand.

So what is the take-away here? If there a service or product that is needed by a particular market, no matter what changes come along, there is no reason that service or product can’t be successful as long as customer’s needs—rather than the presentation to the investors—are always the priority. Sometimes you have to take it on the chin awhile to get something off the ground but once it takes off, hard work and proper money and resource management should keep it going.

Magazines don’t have to die off but they are changing. Many of the same industries exist and benefit from ideas shared. But many publishers have given up readjusting their approach. I think a lot of the reason is big publishing companies have lost site of the markets they service. They don’t make the effort to entrench themselves in the market. I’ve worked with amazing publishers and weak publishers and the difference is that great publishers are their magazine(s).  They foster and raise their magazines and care for their growth and well-being past the ego of the title. They support and direct their team while tirelessly reaching out to the industry. I hope more entrepreneurial publishers buy run down titles and turn them around. The industry needs you whoever you are.  And we’d love to work with you!

House Advantage Swings to Google

by Keith Seiz

7 December, 2011

When we started The Arland Group six years ago, social media was not even on the list of services we provided. Facebook was for college students and Twitter wasn’t even an idea yet.

Today, social media is not only one of the most exciting segments of our business, it’s also the fastest growing. We now employ people just to develop mountains of content for our clients’ social networks.

To date, most of our efforts have focused on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But there is a new player in town in the form of Google+. I’m a cynic when it comes to new social media networks, mainly because I think the big three are innovative and continually push for improvements on their platforms. It’s hard to be the new kid on the block when everyone loves hanging around with the older, cooler kid.

I have a Google+ account, but I don’t get it. I think the user interface is clumsy, the concept is contrived and not too many of my friends and colleagues have embraced it, so I feel pretty isolated when on the platform. Despite what I perceive to be its shortcomings though, Google+ has an immense house advantage: the algorithm.

The mysterious mathematical equation Google uses to determine the results of search engines is the holy grail of digital marketing. As an agency, we strive to make sure our clients are on that front page of search results when their clients look for them. Getting on the front page requires an immense amount of work, of which I won’t go into detail here (you can call me though!).

On a recent Google search of  “The Arland Group,” we were shocked to see our Google+ page was the third result posted! It was above our Facebook and Twitter pages, despite the fact that we only have five posts on Google+ and hundreds on Facebook and Twitter. Despite building a solid brand on Facebook and Twitter, Google played its house advantage and tilted the algorithm to Google+.

Kudos to them. If you have an advantage, you capitalize on it. They have singlehandedly forced our agency to start launching Google+ accounts for all of our clients. We’re not sure it’s the best way for them to promote their brand, but with a world of information driven by Google, it’s imperative that our customers are present and accounted for on Google+.

Recognizing Subtle Significance

by Erin Canetta

29 November, 2011

As the year winds down I realize I’m really going to miss 2011. It was a good year for no one big reason but rather for realization of so many special reasons. I don’t know if it’s age or wisdom or what but this year more than ever I’ve found joy in the subtle significance of life.

My baby girl Vivienne, with her bounds of energy, has made me realize that 10 minutes of quiet while staring out the window with a cup of tea is magic. Now with my 7-year-old approaching chin height I’ve realized she’s growing up very fast and I need to really value our enlightening conversations on the way to school.  The realization that I get to wake up everyday and work in an environment that is always supportive, encouraging and challenging is extremely fulfilling.

I was looking though our colleague, Jonathan’s, photographs from India that he’s been posting on facebook and he captures that subtlety of the moment in the faces and places he photographed. Living in fast-paced world we are often living in the moment that is ahead of us rather than living in the guaranteed moment we’re standing in. Jonathan picked out many of those “now moments” that most people miss and few would think to capture with a camera.

I think we approach our clients and their products the same way at TAG. On every phone call, conference call and meeting and at every level we are fully present and absorbing our client’s reality and the significance their product offers. We ingest and digest it so we can pick out the seed or seeds that make their product invaluable to their potential customer. Something worth investing in is rarely made up of one big bang but rather consists of many subtle yet important layers that fit into a person’s day to make their job or life easier or more enriched. And it’s the subtle significance at TAG that we focus on, blow up and make real. Once something is made real, its significance becomes intuitive.

So no major big bang in 2011 for me but many, many real moments have made this year worth remembering.

Sweet Success!

by Sharon Lynch

10 November, 2011

A couple months ago I wrote of a project I was taking on outside of work, a bit creative, a bit of project management and a possibly big challenge for a “capable baker”, but no Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart here. I had decided with some pro-active planning and attention to detail, that I just might be able to produce from scratch, not only a birthday cake (for a 4-yr old), but a Treasure Chest Birthday Cake that came not only with a recipe but a video!

It was served up last weekend . . . and people actually recognized it! It indeed was a Treasure Chest with jewels, gold coins, gold nuggets and a whole bunch of loot. The birthday boy stuck his finger in it (conservative approach) while the little brother stuck his whole face in it to get at the jewels (adventurous approach). I guess that spells success. Have to thank my wonderful job for allowing me to keep my saw sharpened and skills of planning, attention to detail and project management well-honed, they come in very handy in my personal life as well.

Some Things are NOT Better Together

by The Arland Group

26 October, 2011

When I present our social media solution to companies, a common question that I get asked is,  “Why do I need a separate Facebook and Twitter careers page for our company, can’t we just incorporate this onto the corporate pages we’ve established?”  The answer is no.

First of all, I like the St. Louis Cardinals page on Facebook. Does that mean I want to work at Busch Stadium? No, it doesn’t. (Although, if it meant free World Series tix, maybe.) People don’t necessarily become fans of a company on Facebook or follow them on Twitter because they want to work there. A corporate Facebook page is and should be geared toward consumers. Consumers often like to use this as an avenue to voice their praise of a company, but unfortunately, when you take the good, you get the ugly as well. Consumers LOVE to voice their negative opinions and experiences on these pages, which brings me to my next point. Are negative comments about your company the content you want your potential candidates to see?

You’d be surprised, but we rarely see negativity on career Facebook and Twitter pages. When we do, it’s more about not hearing back after an interview or resume submittal rather than unfounded accusations from disgruntled employees. These types of comments are actually a great opportunity to show responsiveness to the person posting and this responsiveness is seen as something positive to other job seekers. Win-win, right?  Also, by keeping your employment brand social media pages separate, you can really focus on providing content that will interest your current employees and potential candidates.  You can show people what it’s really like to work for your company through posts about work culture, highlighting individual employees for their achievements and showcasing the variety of career paths you have to offer.

Still not convinced? I could give you several other reasons on why you need to keep your corporate and employment brands separate on social media, but here’s the bottom line:  Social media is here to stay and the recruitment aspect of it is rapidly growing.  Pretty soon, traditional recruitment avenues will become irrelevant and it’s important to stay at the forefront of these developments. By establishing your employment brand on social media, you’re keeping yourself on top of the recruitment game.

When the DIY model does not work

by Keith Seiz

13 October, 2011

I’ve always been proud to say I’ve started something. In my first career as the editor of a trade publication, I was most proud of the fact that I started a successful conference. In the last six years of many successes at The Arland Group, I am most proud of the fact that we took the chance in the first place. We started something. And we did it in a Do It Yourself (DIY) fashion.

The DIY model has paid huge dividends for our creative firm throughout its existence. In the beginning, doing it ourselves allowed us to streamline costs and develop our own models and processes for running an agency that were based on logic, not what other agencies were doing or alleged “best practices.”

Today, the DIY model brings us closer to clients. Despite our growth, we still insist on eliminating the gap between our creative team and our customers. How? By foregoing the traditional account executive model and insisting that all TAG Teamers are creative and versed in account management and sales. Taking this approach, we have built a great team of all-arounders in a DIY model.

But the DIY model is not always the best approach. We recently opened an office in St. Louis on Washington Ave. (recently named one of the top 10 streets in America!), and instead of moving into a space that was move-in ready, we leased a space that we could make our own. But instead of hiring professionals to transform the space into what we wanted, we decided to follow the DIY model.

Terrible decision. Balancing the daily workload of running a successful, growing agency is difficult enough, but combined with painting walls, installing new floors and buying furniture, it’s a burden I wish upon no one.

In the end, our office will be outstanding and it will be something I’m very proud of. But right now, as we slowly make our sparse accommodations a home away from home, I wish this once, I would have taken a different approach than the DIY model.

We’ll continue to post pics as the office becomes more complete and stay tuned for more info on our Open House!

Strategizing Makes Success a Piece of Cake

by Sharon Lynch

15 September, 2011

Here at The Arland Group, we pride ourselves on applying successes from one area to another, sharing ideas from consumer marketing to recruitment marketing, vice versa, and on over to business-to-business. Similarly, I like to borrow work strategies that can extend to my personal life. For one, pro-active planning, creativity, detailed project management and research are just some of the things we do here to ensure success and I’m hoping to carry that forward to a large undertaking at home . . . I am already thinking ahead to my son’s 4-yr birthday party and it’s 2 months away – I just can’t help it. I enjoy planning and love being pro-active, so that makes for a great fit when planning client strategies . . . I am hoping this will also help me make a Treasure Chest Birthday Cake – not your average 3-step box cake or store-bought cake (one step: pickup). It has so many steps it needs a VIDEO to go with the recipe! Yikes!

So as a first step to my “planning and strategy” while I’m considering this I decide to draw on my business world acumen. Network. Use social media. I post the idea on Facebook only to get an immediate reply from someone who actually already made the cake! (How’s that for personal research?) And she got huge applause for it. Well then, I guess I’m “in”: decision made. And I will use my business strategies: project management, pro-active planning, and prioritizing to get this done. I will enjoy every step of it as I do working with my customers and just as I experience the success of a Target Mail with a very creative message and high open rate, I will love to see the happy face of my 4-yr-old and his friends.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

by The Arland Group

30 August, 2011

Let’s face it, we live in a world where success is measured in tweets per second, likes per post, and daily page views. This can seem intimidating and sometimes incredibly frustrating when orchestrating a social media campaign. I find that very often at the core of these frustrations is impatience and a lack of understanding of how to really build a successful network.

When The Arland Group launches a social media campaign, we try to really stress that social media is a slow build process that yields huge results. It’s something that needs to grow, requires a strategy and constant evaluation. Makes sense right? The concept is easy to swallow, but as I stated earlier we live in a fast paced world that craves quick results.

To put it in perspective, let me give you an example of another area where the quick results approach doesn’t work. The weight loss industry capitalizes on this concept only to leave consumers searching for another quick fix in the end. Consumers are on this cycle, even though they know weight loss is achieved by simply cutting calories and increasing activity. The problem is that lasting results take time and patience and it’s hard to have to wait for the end result.

Now, I’m not trying to say losing weight and social media are one in the same, but I am stressing that it’s often easy to focus on seeing big results too soon and lose sight of your real goal. That’s why it’s important to remember that we’re here to give you the tools for success and implement a social media plan that will, in time, allow you to reap lasting rewards!

Living On Deadline

by Erin Canetta

25 April, 2011

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a insane to have chosen a career of perpetual deadline. Every time it’s the same—a magazine’s ad sales close and then the baton is handed to me and from there it’s a mad dash to the printer.

Every story taunts me to create something amazing in record speed. I get myself good and nervous about all the work that has to happen in a short period of time.  Then find a moment’s pause and start to read the stories, waiting for something to jump out of the text and trigger an idea. And you know what, it always does.

Fortunately for me, I work with an incredible group of editors and their words inspire my creativity. Their words become visual in my head and I become their interpreter. It’s an intricate relationship between editor and designer. They do their research, conduct their interviews and write something they hope someone takes the time to read AND it’s my job to make sure most people do.

When that bond takes place something interesting happens—the advertisers start to respond. They want to be in a story that is compelling, and most of all, something their customers want to read. NOW editorial, sales and design are all working together in complete harmony and we have created something that benefits an industry and makes an impact.

It’s this relationship that I remind myself of when I’m on deadline and want to pull my hair out. To be a part of something where everyone has their chance at a center-stage, yet we all work together, is extremely fulfilling. But the ultimate reward is to hold that completed piece in your hands and know you had a major roll in making it happen. Not everyone can say they have a rewarding job but I can. Even if it drives me to the brink of insanity sometimes, I’d rather live on deadline than never again create another magazine.

Business Tips from the Dogs

by Deb Andrychuk

3 March, 2011

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that outside of my husband and kids, my dogs are the loves of my life.  I didn’t have a dog until I was an adult so I had to be taught how to interact with them.   In thinking about my relationship with my pooches, I realize that so much of what I do with them can be applied to my everyday dealings at Arland.  So, here are my top business tips as learned from my Malte-poo, Rocco, and my Shi-a-poo, Arnie.

Start with a firm handshake. If you are meeting a new dog for the first time, carefully let him sniff you first then gently but firmly shake his paw.  This same rule applies in the business world (minus the sniffing part.)  For maximum impact, look your prospect squarely in the eyes and give him a nice and tightly gripped shake.  Please remember that no one, and I mean no one,  enjoys  a sticky or sweaty palm or worse yet,  a limp-wristed hand shake, so keep your hands clean & dry and practice your grasp with your spouse or friend.

Treats are a great reward. My dogs Rocco and Arnie are incredibly affectionate and I used to believe this was because they adored me and I was the center of their universe.  Now I know that their devotion is really based upon their love of cheese and chicken treats.  My dogs learned quickly that good behavior = yummy treats.    I think the same thinking applies to rewarding your customer’s behavior.  If you have a customer who has given you repeat business, referred you to a colleague or endorsed your work, return the favor!  It’s also nice to send a thank you card, take them to lunch or dinner occasionally or buy them some treats when visiting (cupcakes are always a hit!)  Everyone loves to feel special!

Walk your dog. Dogs are very much like children in that they crave routine.  They feel secure and loved and behave best when they are routinely walked, groomed, fed, etc.  Customers are looking for their partners to consistently take care of them.  It needs to be habitual that you regularly check in on your contacts preferably by person or by phone.  Make sure that you are proactively delivering reports or any other assets promptly.

Clean up messes ASAP! I am sure you have seen the clever but crude bumper sticker proclaiming that “Sh*t Happens!”  What I have learned is that when a puppy goes, you need to be on the scene immediately to do damage control, especially if it was on your neighbor’s front yard or driveway.  As long as you are timely and do a good job, your neighbor will be pleased but, whatever you do, don’t pretend like your doggie didn’t do the duty.  Own up to the poopie!  So many customers have told me that it’s not the flub-up that turned them off from a prior vendor; it was clearly the lack of skills or desire to clean up the disaster.

Guide your dog.  Okay, ever see an out of control dog, pulling his bewildered pet owner in one direction while the owner strained in the opposite direction on the leash?  Sometimes, as vendors, we think that our ideas are the only ideas, getting hung up on who is in charge.  When helping clients make choices, leave the choker chain at home.  Strangling them into a choice is hardly the way to build your partnership.  Further, if you are constantly trying to be the “alpha” dog, you are going to turn off your clients.  Customers want someone to take care of them who is confident, knowledgeable & able to make solid recommendations without being overbearing.

Don’t take in more dogs than you can handle. I have a friend who is constantly rescuing dogs that have not gotten the care they deserve.  Unfortunately, if she takes in too many dogs, her home becomes a disaster area and no dog gets the attention they need.  In the business world, you should strive to provide world class service.  This means monitoring your work load and being wise enough to know when to add head count to provide additional support.  Everyone should work hard, but not kill themselves on a daily basis to meet objectives.

Dogs need affection. If I ignore my pups, they quickly become despondent and then begin to seek out affection elsewhere, mainly from my husband or kids.  In the business world, when you don’t cuddle your clients, guess what happens?  They lose interest and can easily be wooed away by your competition.   Love your customers all the time and they will pay you back ten-fold.  Go the extra mile without being asked, be a good listener and give your customers the attention they deserve.

So, there you have it! Words to live by in our dog- eat- dog world!

Why We Hired a Content Marketing Manager

by Keith Seiz

22 February, 2011

It’s been a busy start to the year for The Arland Group. In January, we launched websites for industry leaders Nationwide Insurance and PSAV. In February, we welcomed our newest employee, Megan Gattung, as content marketing manager.

In six years, our firm’s growth has only been outpaced by the services we offer. When Jason, Jonathan and I started in 2005, content marketing wasn’t on our list of services. Nor was social media or video production. We were a creative house, and we did creative things on websites and print advertising campaigns.

Content was important, but content was viewed as a piece of a creative project, not the entirety. Content was words that fit on a website or brochure. Content’s sole purpose was to make an immediate connection. There was no content strategy beyond the immediate impact that the words would create when they were read.

Not anymore. Content is major player at The Arland Group, and an area we plan on dominating for years to come. Content is now offered throughout our services, from social media to webisodes to white papers to blogging and micro-blogging. Content is words, videos, books, articles, white papers, ideas, music and any other form of expression we generate on behalf of our clients for the sole purpose of making a connection with their audience. Content is a tool we use to promote our clients to their audience. Content is just like advertising, marketing or public relations. And, it is just as effective.

With Megan on board as content marketing manager, we will be able to expand our content services to all industries we serve, including consumer. B2B and employment branding. It is our job to get our client’s messages to the intended audience in the most effective way. Our content capabilities serve as the perfect complement to our creative capacities to accomplish this goal.

Happy Designers Produce Amazing Work – Thank you PSAV : )

by Jonathan Galbreath

13 January, 2011

There are 100s, 1,000s … 10s of thousands of amazing designers in the United States alone. How many are relevant? How many are practical? How many do you trust?

You’ve been through several agencies and there hasn’t been a good fit, yet. You’ve saved the last 50k of your VC money to find and hire the most talented agency on the planet.

We’ll be honest with whoever knocks on our door. You can hire The Arland Group because we are reliable, intelligent and trustworthy. But, if our work isn’t beautiful … really, what’s the point. We encourage all of our prospective clients to “shop the look”. We DO produce amazing results for our clients because we are very talented folks, but most importantly because OUR CLIENTS TRUST US.

You fancy yourself as a great designer, photographer, social media guru? You just might be. But, you’ve knocked on our door and you’ve put your trust in The Arland Group. Now, let go and enjoy the experience.

Our design team doesn’t always focus on being “Out of the Box”: We’d rather “change what the box looks like”.

Take for instance one of our favorite clients: PSAV

When PSAV contracted us to imagine their employment branding and recruitment website … we were ecstatic.

PSAV needed a simple tagline that expressed a fast-paced, demanding, exciting lifestyle that is a PSAV associate. “You’re On.” not only harks back to “showtime”, it says “you’re the (wo)man”. You are in control. You are in the drivers seat. You contol your success.

BOLD is what our design team had in the back of their minds when conceptualizing PSAV’s career website. PSAV’ers are techy and fast paced – they embrace the latest in social networking and technology, thus Real-time Twitter feeds. To our best knowledge, no other recruitment website has taken this approach. We also built microsites to better target segments of PSAV’s employment initiatives: Another first in the industry.

Of yeah … and it doesn’t end there …

Kudos to all at PSAV for “changing what the box looks like”!

I Answer to Many

by Deb Andrychuk

29 June, 2010

I Answer to Many
One of the hallmarks of the Talent Acquisition Group at The Arland Group is that we work as an extension of our clients’ recruiting teams. One day I might be writing job descriptions, the next could involve identifying key trends in source of hires or assisting with the implementation of a multi-faceted social media campaign, and in between I could be researching CRM’s or wrapping up the sale of a career site. Much of our company’s success depends on the interaction between Arland and the client or “partner.” And, because of the nature of the projects on hand, I “report” to a specific project lead at each company and I become part of that partner’s team. My contact varies on each assignment. I work with recruiters, HRIS leaders, marketing folks, recruiting admins, managers, directors and VP’s of recruiting and human resources; vendor managers, procurement, retail operations and legal teams. Because of the different levels of interaction, I think of my role as a game: adjusting my style, my personality, my skills and knowledge to fit into a particular company’s recruiting structure and process. If I don’t adapt, I don’t succeed. Success is eminent though if I work effectively with each new “boss” and deliver strategic solutions that fulfill needs, budget and timeline.

By the way, if you are known for hating every boss you work for, you shouldn’t work in recruitment marketing sales. I technically have about 45 leaders in my life, all and I answer to each one as if he or she is the President of The Arland Group. My friends ask me, “How annoying is that, reporting to so many people?” I don’t have to think long before responding, “Yeah, sometimes it’s not so fun and can be overwhelming, but I love what I do!” I am still in awe that after 2 years on the job I still get excited when starting my work day. I consider myself pretty lucky as many people I know can’t stand what they do for a living. For me I find satisfaction in that every day at Arland is different. Every day I learn something new. Every day I get to make an impact on our partners’ recruiting missions, saving them time or money or improving their brand equity. And, I enjoy the challenge that comes with juggling multiple projects. Trust me! There is never a dull moment in my life! This is a very good thing for someone like me who has adult ADD. Most of all, I love the relationships that develop along the way. So many of my clients become good friends and there is wonderful sense of camaraderie- who could ask for more? I’m happy to say that I answer to many chiefs and dig every minute of it!

Stop the Deletions

by Deb Andrychuk

10 June, 2010

I was talking to my boss earlier in the week and he was reviewing my prospective new business report. Discouraged by the lack of new appointments, he sighed and mumbled something sarcastic like, “I could get 10 meetings a week when I was in your shoes.” At first I felt embarrassed and somewhat defensive and then it occurred to me that he was right. 10 years ago, HR or talent acquisition wasn’t the cold calling target they are today, and get this: HR would not only take your calls, but they would dutifully listen to your entire voicemail, sometimes taking notes and writing down your contact information and then actually return your phone calls, regardless of whether they were interested in working with you or not. Amazed by the thoughts of this Happy Land where caller and client are evenly paired? Well, it doesn’t exist today, so time to wake up and face the new reality. Remember that before the advent of job boards, job aggregators, applicant tracking systems; CRM’s and social media solutions, vendor to client ratios were not so wildly disproportionate as they are now. And even though current HR behavior may seem downright rude or insensitive at times, it’s obvious that these poor souls are drowning in the sea of incessant calls received from sales people hawking their wares on a daily basis. So, it makes sense that as a vendor, if you can’t find a way to stand out amongst the gazillion people leaving a message with a given prospect, you run the risk of getting deleted before you can even begin to share your value proposition. So, how do you prevent your prospect from hitting “*D” on their phone and sending you into vendor purgatory?

Here is a day in the life at Arland: I will be diligently looking for fresh opportunities to network and make new business calls, when without fail, I get the call. It’s someone in my industry- the recruitment advertising world, calling to complain about the injustices bestowed upon them by HR Directors, VP’s and recruiters alike. To hear Mr. Yukkity-yuk talk, you would believe that the HR community owed him something for his poorly constructed elevator speeches and equally dismal deliveries of said messages. UGH! It’s during these moments I wish I could just slap a giant pause button and say to my newly muted friend, “If you think about all of the technology that has been developed over the course of the last decade, you’re CUH-RAZY if you haven’t noticed that your prospect is now the target for an unprecedented number of vendor calls and emails, and the quantity of these marketing calls continue to escalate every day! “

So, how do you deliver your message to your target audience without getting discarded before you have stated your purpose? Mike Grennier who heads up talent acquisition in North America for Wal-Mart might have the answer. He recently tweeted, “Dear Vendors: Voice mails longer than 30 seconds will NOT be returned. Think twitter-length. Thank you.” Hhhmm might seem a little harsh, but seriously, maybe Mr. Grennier is on to something here. Maybe we should all take his advice…if your message is longer than a typical Facebook status update or is more than 140 characters, trash it and start again. Besides condensing your message, I think we should all think about emailing our clients first. If you were in your prospect’s shoes, wouldn’t you rather have the option to answer an email at your convenience versus feeling obligated to return a voicemail? And, I think we vendors should all receive harsh jolts of electricity every time we leave messages with trite sayings like “saves you time, money and will increase your ROI.” We can do better than that, can’t we? I for one am going to apply what I know about social media to the development of my new and improved voicemails. I pledge to keep it concise, keep it real and honest, provide true value to the recipient and I will be polite. Above all, I will strive to keep it memorable and unique. I remember a top sales person at a previous employer of mine who used to tell mini-jokes on voicemail when he couldn’t get in touch with a decision maker. He would say something like, “Wow, sorry to hear about your broken arm” to someone who he had never met before. He would then chuckle and continue with, “I’m assuming it’s broken because you won’t call me back!” Believe it or not, this unusual approach worked more times than not, probably because it was unique and he used humor to his advantage. This sales person was smart enough to realize that no one really cared about his credentials, his product differentiators, or the slick article written about his company in Fortune Magazine last month. But he knew if he could make a personal connection with his prospect he might have a shot at getting a meeting and a potential sale.
So, in true Twitter fashion, I leave you with this final thought: Dear Vendor, craft a unique message that is concise, useful, engaging and honest. Email first, call second.
PS Call me in a week and I will let you know this works for me, that is, if I don’t delete your message first…

What is a Black Hole?

by Sharon Lynch

1 June, 2010

What is a black hole? Some may say it’s a “region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape. …” or some may say “that’s where my sales rep went after the contract was signed.”

At The Arland Group (TAG), our Talent Acquisition group guarantees that the media partners included in your recruitment media plan will not disappear into a black hole but rather, become stars and shine their knowledge even more brightly after the sale. To this point, we recently setup three media partners to appear at our customer Ministry Health Care within six weeks of the 2010 Media Plan contract being signed.

We firmly believe in helping our customers truly get the very most for their investment. At The Arland Group, our “account management actions” meant that we invited three vendors who are key partners in the 2010 Media Recruitment Plan to cover best practices, competitive benchmarking, time-saving tips, etc.  Monster, Simply Hired and Healthecareers came to our customer’s headquarters in Milwaukee where they had 15 people, primarily recruiters/end users who came eager to listen, learn and brainstorm about how they can best utilize specific products to fill their job openings.  Each media partner brings a distinct strength to the media plan, and in this group setting, by pulling the entire recruitment team together, also allowed for our customer to pro-actively at the onset of the contract term, establish their own internal best practices.

Mike Schmidt, Director of Recruitment at Ministry Health Care, said his recruiters considered this Vendor Summit as “one of the best meetings we’ve ever had.” With the introduction of many new tools available outside of the traditional job postings and resume search, having direct contact between media partners and end users/recruiters is invaluable to help them best use new products.

This post-sale support and “product on-boarding” are even more critical as new products are introduced with the advent of Web 2.0 and trends developing around social media. Monster’s Media Specialist, Dennis Stevens, said having the entire recruiting team assembled to discuss new products now in their mix will help ensure that one of Monster’s unique and most successful products, Career Ad Network, will garner the best possible results.

Healthecareer’s strategy involves developing partnerships with industry-specific associations to help drive job seekers to their site so they had Jennifer Badding, Senior Manager, Association and Partner Development, in attendance to speak directly with the Ministry recruiting team about associations that were meaningful to them and their specific job openings.

Meanwhile, Simply Hired in the job search engine space, will help Ministry reach job seekers in new places and help them connect with seekers who are searching solely by location and industry/job title.

Now that a baseline has been established, and expectations established externally with media partners and internally among recruiters, Quarterly Reviews will be more significant and informative. It also makes a contract more than a contract; it turns a piece of paper into a true partnership. If you’d like to learn more about how to keep your media sales reps out of the black holes and keep them as stars, you can reach me directly at .