Making Memories at Media Events

By: Kalyn Schieffer

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to accompany two of my lovely Caster colleagues, Kelly and Pete, to a New Products event in New York City. Not only was it my first time to the big apple, but it was also my first time at a media event. I’ll admit that the idea of chatting up members of the media had me a bit nervous beforehand. In fact, the night before the event, I’m pretty sure I dreamt about being back in Public Speaking class and watching the professor make a tally mark every time I used the word “um.”

Luckily for me, none of the media I spoke with kept a running tally of my speaking errors. The nerves went away pretty quickly when I saw how easily my more experienced colleagues greeted and pitched the journalists and various members of the media that visited our booth. I picked up on a few of the main lines they used in their pitches and had them ready for when our booth got busy. Once I realized that these journalists were just people, interested in the product we had in front of us, it got much easier to have a flowing conversation.

I know that I am just a newbie at the whole media pitching deal, but looking back, here are a few things I thought about that helped me avoid stumbling through my first pitching event:

1. Avoid sounding like a robot:
I’m sure one of the reasons members of the media take time out of their day to walk around a hotel event space and navigate through the endless booths and products rather than search around the Internet is because they want

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to talk to someone about the product face to face. They can get boring facts from an online product review, so I figured I might as well insert a little personality and tell interested media how I would use the product. I found it easier to start a pitch by laying out a quick scenario rather than start spewing facts at them right away. Being myself was much easier than being a robot who knew every little fact about the product, so I tried to include personal experiences as often as I could to start a conversation.

2. Learn as you go
As it was my first time at one of these events, I made it a point to observe and therefore adapt the way I talked to people as the day went on. Seeing the way Kelly and Pete talked to people about the product was the easiest way to learn, but I also began finding ways I could improve after each pitch I did. If a few journalists in a row asked me the same question, I tried to initially include that fact in my following pitches. Of course, each pitch got easier as I figured out what phrases caught people’s interest and figured out the best way to answer questions about the product.

3. Lean on your teammates
Right off the bat, I knew that if I was ever stuck or unable to answer a question about the product, I could always turn right to my colleagues for a solution. As the day went on, I felt like the three of us were all able to get involved in each other’s pitches and would chime in if someone forgot to mention a key fact. Working together as a team made the event go smoothly and certainly helped me through my first pitching experience.

I’m glad that I got to take a stab at media pitching early into my time here at Caster and will hopefully have additional survival tips to post as I get more experience under my belt. If you have any tips for me or have ideas on how to become a trade show/media event master, feel free to comment or chat with me on twitter @CasterKalyn or @CasterComm!

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Why You Should Hire a Canine Intern

By: Kalyn Schieffer

If you’ve ever visited the Caster office or even taken a look at any of our social media profiles, you may have realized that all of us here are slightly dog obsessed. On any given day you can find at least one canine intern roaming around the office or taking a nap on the job. In the past few years, more and more companies are taking a hint from us (we like to think we started the trend) and are allowing employees to bring their dogs to work.

The recent popularity of office dogs is partially due to the results of research studies conducted on the benefits of having our canine friends around. Virginia Commonwealth University conducted a study in 2012 at a dinnerware company in North Carolina that saw at least 20 to 30 dogs a day in their offices. The study revealed that as the workday went on, stress scores went down by about 11% among workers who had brought their dog to work, while their dog-less co-workers stress levels increased 70%. The calming effect that petting your dog brings you isn’t just something you made up in your head, it’s been scientifically proven. Therapists everywhere attest to the fact that touching or petting an animal has been shown to lower the galvanic skin response, when measuring emotions such as fear, stress or anxiety. Stress on the job is inevitable, and if allowed to build up, it can cause issues with productivity and concentration. Reaching down to pet a dog when feeling stressed at work is a simpler and more effective fix than squeezing a stress ball or taking an hour long coffee break.images

Since I adopted my own dog-child, Harper, I have met so many people that I never would have sparked conversation with if our dogs hadn’t run up to each other to meet. This same kind of interaction can happen with dog owners in the workplace. At bigger companies, employees may not get the chance to connect with new additions to the team because they may have different jobs within the company or they just simply don’t know how to relate to them. When a new canine companion comes into the office, it can create opportunities for people to get to know each other when they go over to their co-workers desk to hang out with the dog. Here at Caster, we all swap dog parenting tips, which was super helpful to me during my first few weeks with Harper. The fact that most of us here have a dog, or enjoy being around them, creates a sense of camaraderie and group identity which can help us work better together. In fact, researchers from Central Michigan University found that groups worked better together and were more likely to be loyal to one another when a dog was around.

Any dog owner knows the guilt that comes with leaving your dog at home alone all day when they head to the office. This guilty parent syndrome may cause employees to cut their day short so they can go home and let their dog have some free time outside. However, if your canine companion is at the office with you, getting to socialize and wander freely outside of their crate at home, you don’t have to worry about running home as soon as the clock strikes five.

images (1)Of course, there are many factors to consider before making your office dog friendly. Primarily, companies must address the issue of employees who are allergic or are afraid of animals. The dogs should also be potty-trained and well-behaved before bringing them into an office setting (no one likes to have their lunch eaten by a four legged thief.) It may be best to have an employee bring their older, calm dog in first for a trial run with everyone in the office to see how it goes before officially allowing them. You can also search around for tips from other companies who have dogs in the office and read about their experiences.

If your office is dog friendly or is trying to make the transition, I’d love to chat about it! Feel free to comment here or connect with me on Twitter @CasterKalyn or @CasterComm. Check out our social media profiles for adorable pictures of our furry friends!

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What Went Down at This Years Google I/O

By: Peter Girard

Since it’s still fresh in my head and my colleague Kalyn did such a nice job recapping Apple’s WWDC, I thought I would recap Google’s I/O that went down on Wednesday. First off, it was boring…Now, I am not sure if it’s because I am not a developer or due to the fact that I’m not an Android user, but I was underwhelmed by Google’s I/O. At it’s heart, Apple’s WWDC was all about developers, and while I am not a developer, they at least held my interest. In my opinion, a lot of time was spent on some pretty lackluster features that the presenters themselves didn’t even seem that jazzed about…

Here’s what they did talk about:

The next version of Android is called ‘Android L’ and it focuses heavily upon design. They announced a pretty cool function called ‘Material’ that gives everything realistic shadowing to make it appear like certain things are floating above others. With lots of attention paid to touch, lots of animations that link action to action.

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Another cool update users can expect in “L” is ‘Personal Unlocking’ through which your smart phone will use signals like location, Bluetooth, and even voiceprint to authenticate a user. Your smartphone will use all of these signals to determine whether or not you’re in a trusted environment in which plugging in your traditional password is unnecessary. This feature was demoed on stage with a smart watch. While the presenter was wearing the watch, no need for a PIN to unlock his phone but once the smart watch was out of range, a password was requested to unlock the phone.

“L” is a contextually aware operating system. Meaning, Google wants your devices to use information to know when you’re at work, when you’re commuting, or when you’re at home with your family.

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Exciting news for the wearable crowd, Google announced AndroidWear and announced 3 new smart watches. AndroidWear allows your compatible smart watch to act as extension of your smartphone, allowing you to accept or ignore notifications pushed to your phone. Any actions made on your smart phone or smart watch are automatically pushed to the other. One quote that stuck out regarding AndroidWear was allowing you devices acting as your “key in a multiscreen world.”

Google wanted to drive a car on stage to demo AndroidAuto but that didn’t happen so they built a dummy car that was rigged up with AndroidAuto to show off what their line of connected cars will have to offer to users.

What I thought was going to be ‘AndroidHome’ ended up being AndroidTV. AndroidTV seemed clunky and didn’t demo as well as I think Google was hoping. Plus, it didn’t really seem all that interesting. Comes with the ability to control your TV through your phone which maybe didn’t come across as interesting because it’s nothing really ‘new’.

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Lots of news on the Chrome Cast front though.  They’re working hard to utilize your TV for the other 19 hours a day you’re not using it to watch, well, TV. Notable features included ability for ‘guests’ to push videos to your Chrome Cast without needing your WiFi password, and the option to mirror what you’re viewing your handheld device to the TV. Hilariously enough, they used an Apple iPhone 5S for much of the Chrome Cast demonstration…

There was nothing I caught about Nest. Not one word. The same can be said for Google Glass, which a lot of people were upset about also.

One thing the Google I/O that Apple’s WWDC didn’t have? Protesters! And yes, plural. One woman either made her way to the front or was sitting right up front when she decided make a ruckus and another gentleman interrupted the keynote to accuse Google of building robots that kill people so that spiced things up a bit.

My personal thoughts, Apple had a lot more to announce or at least did a much better job of announcing what they had. The I/O seemed to drag on and on, demos didn’t work, and they spent a lot of time talking about features or updates that they themselves didn’t seem very jazzed about. Did you catch the I/O keynote? Tell me what you thought by connecting with me via Twitter at @CasterPete

 

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