Thursday, July 21st, 2011
The focus of my work this past week has been on developing much of the language and copy for different aspects of the EAR Card. To me, writing is as much a creative process as anything else; it’s difficult to force the right words to come to you (I always feel like you need to be in the right frame of mind).
What I noticed from my experience this week was the difficulty in writing information you are extremely familiar with, with the intention that it will be read by a person who is entirely unfamiliar with the subject. It requires a lot of rewriting that entails shortening and simplification, while still providing an “intriguing” factor and a call to action. It can be an increasingly frustrating and long process, but with valuable results. What I can say is how valuable editors and the editing process is; this is vital to making sure that the writer is not the only person walking away understanding the material, but that a complete stranger will become as knowledgeable with the topic as the writer.
While what I have already explained is especially true for marketing and advertising (as well as the obvious – journalism and literature), in truth it can be applied to all professions (albeit in a different way). Lawyers and doctors may not write so that the general population can understand it, but they still need to explain themselves in a way that their colleagues, unfamiliar with the particular topic, can understand it.
Writing is a valuable tool; knowing how to write so that others may understand is priceless.
Friday, July 8th, 2011
1. What is the name of your organization?
Young Elected Officials Network
2. How would you describe your organization?
We are a program of People for the American Way Foundation. Going by our mission statement, we focus on young elected officials under the age of 35 from all around the country that are looking to bring the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity to their communities.
In my own words, I see YEO as a safe-haven for young elected leaders to share with each other, get policy support and receive the encouragement they need to go back to their communities to fight the good fight.
3. How many years has your organization been established?
We just had our 6th national convening and have 650 members. Our very first convening, when we were established, was in January 2005 with only 65 members.
4. Why did you choose to work for your organization?
I actually started at People for the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) itself. I was there for almost a year when I volunteered at the first Young Elected Officials (YEO) national convening. After that experience, I went to the then program director of PFAWF, Sharon Lettman, and the director of the YEO Network, Andrew Gillum, and asked what I could do to continue to volunteer for the program. I found the YEO’s to be very inspiring and I wanted to be a part of it. After a few months, I was hired. The young elected officials are extremely admirable and if I can help them, then it’s worth it.
5. Why did you use MediumFour?
For this year’s convening we wanted a new look, and we really needed something that was different than what was used to in the past because we were starting to look dated. It was a little too much “elected officials” and not enough “young”; we were forgetting the young part of Young Elected Officials. After seeing Michael’s work, I liked what he could do. While talking to him, he picked up on what we were looking for and the “freshness” we wanted to add. I knew we were trained by the same people, had the same work ethic and they [MediumFour] would get the work done well and wouldn’t stop until it was finished. We needed the image to be a mix, not catering entirely to an old-fashioned look, but also not too young looking because it is still representing elected officials. They knew how to do that, they figured it out and we couldn’t be happier with the final product.
6. In what ways has your organization changed?
The look Michael gave us for the Convening, with the use of fonts, gave us a lot of freedom to be more creative. I was able to use the elements he designed for us in other ways because they were so simple and clean. The clean, crisp look also helped energize our material and because we went with a different color scheme it was noticeable and it gave us a different liveliness. We were able to do things with our designs that we had never done before because Michael specifically changed the look for our entire conference. For the first time ever, we didn’t do the typical red, white and blue event; even the lighting for the evening reception was in purple!
7. How was MediumFour compatible with your needs?
They understood what we needed and were flexible enough to work with us because we have bizarre deadlines – fast turnarounds, last minute changes and odd requests. It’s not easy for designers to deal with people who think they are designers too, and they were patient with me. As an internal team, we brainstormed before even approaching MediumFour, coming up with color ideas, words, needs etc. Our goal was to help them and to convey our ideas so they wouldn’t start with a blank canvas. They were very patient with us and the feedback we gave them.
8. What four things stand out in your mind from working with MediumFour?
Professional, amazingly accurate on their deadlines, patient and willing to teach. Their willingness to teach was in and of itself the most valuable to me because they didn’t just design and say “take it or leave it”, they explained why they chose certain things and the decisions behind design choices. This helped me to better understand and then pitch it to the decision-makers accordingly. Personally, it was also a great learning experience for a design-geek like me.
Friday, July 8th, 2011
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been noticing the importance of partnerships. Although an agency can be filled with great talent in many (if not all) areas, it would be more detrimental to the growth of an agency to never collaborate with other sources. Whether it is to share a workload, increase cliental or receive advice it becomes necessary to work with others. It is not possible for one person to be an expert on all subjects, and it shows greater professionalism and care for clients to turn to others who may know more on a subject. The importance of partnerships, as I see it, is needed for survival.
This past week, I have been moving forward in my work with the EAR Card and gaining general experience in what it takes to successfully launch and maintain a product. In rewriting materials to be appropriate for the new target market, I had to do research in how this market is often spoken to, look at the most popular brands in this market to understand what appeals to them and what would be a successful approach. I have always valued research, and view it almost as a security blanket when having conversations, but I think it’s fun to conduct this research and put it into immediate action (I know, I’m weird – but maybe that just means I’m in the right area).
The EAR Card also gave me my biggest challenge yet – presenting to a potential partner. I’m extremely comfortable with public speaking (yes, I know that makes me even more weird) and felt confident in my knowledge of the EAR Card; what had me nervous, and made this such a challenge, was that I didn’t know what to expect. This was something new to me, exactly in the direction of where I would like to go, but new nonetheless. As I have mentioned before, what I consider to be my biggest challenges, and fear due to my perfectionist personality, is doing something I have never done before. I have to admit, in the time leading up to the meeting I was both relaxed and nervous, but mostly annoyed that I didn’t know what to expect (not exactly your typical emotions). In the end, did it go well – yes; could I have done a better job – absolutely; did I learn how to do things differently – definitely!
I see my experience in a very simple way: it’s all about learning, growing and challenging myself – all of which I feel I am thoroughly experiencing.
Friday, July 8th, 2011
This past week at MediumFour was relatively calm. I spent a great deal of time doing research on branding, specifically the strategies, implementations and final outcomes that were taken when developing new logos, identities and images for companies. I found it interesting to read the thought process designers went through when developing their work, with both sketches and verbal expression of the process. It was intriguing to peek inside the mind of a designer, and then form my own opinions about their approach and the final product they used in execution – I found some to be brilliant and inspiring, while others lacked in the ability to standout. Many of the sites I viewed, especially my favorite one, had a section for people to comment. This was especially beneficial because I was able to read the critiques other designers had – positive, and negative. As a newcomer to the field, I found it helpful to see the perspective of other designers and the recommendations they gave to improve the creations. The purpose of having spent my time doing research this past week was two-fold – to make me aware of what the trends are and designs that exist; and to help me develop a more critical eye when I view designs, logos or identities in the future, even perhaps when I work on them myself. I hope to develop the ability that the next time I come across a new logo, I don’t just stop and look at it to say “oh, how pretty”, but that I stop and begin thinking “who is this targeting, how can this be applied to other aspects of marketing, etc.”. In other words, I want to use the research I’ve done to help me grow.