Archives for category: A lesson learned


Nothing ruins the message of a well-executed advertisement more than a simple, overlooked typo. Whether it’s last minute deadlines or miscommunication between team members, errors in advertisements constantly happen. For example, Coke makes four times fewer writing mistakes on LinkedIn posts than Pepsi. Now that brands are creating original content on social media and blog channels, proofreading matters more than ever.


Before my broternship, I never realized the extent to which ads are proofed before they are released to the public. Multiple people from both the client and agency must sign off and approve each advertisement to make sure it meets their standards. Throughout the last few weeks, I have proofed ads for misspellings, punctuation, grammar, sizing, times/dates/locations/names and overall consistency. One unnoticed mistake could have a costly impact for the agency and client. Whether it causes the brand public humiliation or mistrust between the client and agency, it is not a good situation. But good news! It’s completely avoidable by following the correct proofreading procedures that I have learned through the process:

  • Always read a printed version of the ad that you can easily edit
  • Read the text slowly out loud to hear yourself pronounce each word and letter individually
  • Read the copy backwards when looking for spelling errors
  • Double and triple check names, locations, URLs and contact information
  • Ask yourself: does it align with the brand’s standards?
  • Check for grammar, punctuation, consistent verb tense, parallelism, plural vs. singular, homonyms and pronoun/noun agreement
  • Focus your attention on something new each time you read it. First focus on layout, then headings, spelling, grammar, etc.
  • Read something between edits to help clear your head of what you expect to read versus what is actually on the page
  • Reproof every time anything is edited or reprinted
  • Ask questions and always double check yourself if you think you are right or even if you know you are right

Proofreading may seem like a simple, straightforward task, but so much more goes into the process than I ever imagined. Since advertising is the main channel of communication between brands and consumers, it’s essential to get the messages right! All in all, if you follow the tips above, brands and agencies can avoid becoming the laughing stock of the internet like the ads below.

  • First example, Mitt Romney’s attempt to be president through a digital ad for the 2012 election. I mean, doesn’t everyone know you can’t misspell the location of your dream job when applying? America would have thrown out his resume with this one.


  • This ad luckily doesn’t specify which retailer is selling Creative Kids Software. I’m just glad they’re just selling the educational software and not actually creating it.


  • Hey Stratford Hall, I think you missed one tiny, little ‘detal’ in this ad about your reliability!


Come on, you had one job! I hope these ads inspired you of what NOT to do when proofing ads or else you’ll end up as a forever-running joke on the internet. Happy proofing!

By 2018, 69 percent of total Internet traffic will be video. Every minute, 48 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube. From 2012 to 2014, mobile video views increased by 400 percent.


These facts are hard to ignore when video is taking over the world as it holds the highest CTR of all digital advertising formats. But how can brands turn these statistics into forms of engagement with current and potential customers? How can brands constantly create content to combat the Internet’s flood of video content? How do brands master the infamous viral video?

So many questions yet so little time to create interactive, high quality videos! Videos have exploded on social media because they are so engaging, especially User Generated Content. Think about GoPro (Case Study), as the brand mission is to capture the user’s most exciting and extreme moments. Hours upon hours of GoPro footage have been uploaded to YouTube to share experiences with current and potential customers of the brand. These customers directly market the brand through UGC, which builds a huge momentum of exposure for GoPro to go beyond a restricted snowboarding or surfing brand. The views of the UGC turned branded content have directly increased with the company’s sales. Brands need to learn from companies that are using their trusted and personalized UGC and earned media for advertising purposes. If brands can accomplish that feat, they will thrive in the flood of videos taking over our social channels.


Secondly, how do brands create enough content to stay current with the trends and compete with the billions of videos on the web? It’s not enough to simply be creating meaningless content, instead, brands need to be consistently creating and sharing great content. Unfortunately, there’s no quick formula to make amazing, engaging content. Brands must completely understand their own personality and how it can provide value to their potential or current customers. An audience analysis, content audit, competitive analysis and content planning are essential steps in the process to determine how the brand’s videos will positively reach the audience. All of these strategy and planning steps eventually lead to content creation that’s interactive and easily sharable. Check out these great examples of content marketing to get started!


Lastly, brands can conquer the viral video by simply changing their approach. Again, UGC or ‘found footage’ must be utilized to humanize branded content. For example, Android’s viral “Friends Furever” was composed entirely of UGC of unusual animals interacting with each other and was the most shared ad of 2015. Brands can now find previously existing UGC that can be molded to fit a brand’s ethos. Instead of paying an agency millions to create a commercial with expensive celebrity endorsers, brands can now choose relatable, realistic videos.

A brand that does not use video marketing is like eating a PB&J sandwich without the jelly—it just doesn’t make sense and it gets you nowhere. Our digital world is expanding and there’s not much room for growth without video content marketing. Brands can easily reach and engage with their target audience if they take advantage of UGC, create a content strategy, and just possibly, conquer the viral video

As millennials, we’re expected to be the all-knowers of the digital world. We’re on the pulse of social media, and we’re expected to keep up with the downloads and be down with the uploads. It’s pretty crazy – no wonder those Boomers would rather us do it. As tail end millennials and Gen Z-ers are becoming old enough to enter the workforce, it’s easy to see that many of us have difficulties with social etiquette.

For starters, a lot of younger folks struggle with giving away all the information they possibly can share about themselves online. (We’ve all been guilty of it one time or another.) Being comfortable with yourself is a great quality, but it’s important to keep some personal things off the web. My simple test is: Is it something your future employers or grandparents would want to know about you? If the answer is no, don’t tweet about it. I’m glad you’re having a great time on Saturday at 3:17AM, but alerting everyone online that you’re blacked out and can’t find your shirt is not the best call. That’s a story to tell where no one can screenshot it – like in person.

It always makes me laugh when people say “I post what I want, it won’t stop me from getting a job!” I’ve talked to a plethora of employers, and every one of them goes to the fabulous tool we know and love: Google. It takes 2 seconds to type in your name and find out everything about you online. If you don’t have a personal page, odds are your Twitter or Facebook will be the first thing to come up. If it’s not protected, keep it PG-13 – use the employer/grandparents test if you’re not sure. It’s only going to get worse as tech savvy people step into positions of power. No one finds online information faster than millennials with a bone to pick; imagine one as your boss.

So the lesson learned is to be responsible, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like a robot. It’s good to add some personal flair to your social media pages and show people you are a real human. Let people see that you coach basketball in your free time and you love sharing pictures of your dog. Just don’t share everything because “Revealing too much leaves you with nothing.”

Anyone who needs to clean up your social media accounts, here’s a great link:

…you know who you are.


Tips for a Great Discussion

Last week, I had the opportunity to help Jess Thompson conduct interviews with Pat Conway, the co-founder of Great Lakes Brewing Company and Bill Boor, the CEO. It was an awesome experience to see the brewery first-hand and learn how the company was founded. The brewery has picturesque red brick structures dating back to 1870 and was once located in a crime-infested area of Cleveland. After Great Lakes was founded in 1988, it became a catalyst that transformed Ohio City into the thriving area that it is today. As soon as I met Pat Conway, I could see the engaging, witty personality of the brand as he was cracking jokes throughout the entire interview.


Along the way, I learned a few client interview tips:

  • Preparation is essential: Have background knowledge of what you will be discussing or else you’ll look as clueless as Patrick Star. In all seriousness, make sure your questions are to the point, unbiased and hit your goals.
  • Follow the flow: Follow your questions, but don’t change the subject too fast if the interviewee says something interesting. Ask unscripted questions to get answers you do not expect.
  • Be personal yet professional: The conversation is much better if the interviewer (or interviewee) is not a complete robot. Have fun, but don’t go so overboard that you come off unprofessional.
  • Make eye contact: Bring a note taker (me!) to take down the detailed answers the client says while you have an authentic conversation. Take brief notes as you go through each question, and make constant eye contact with the client.
  • Follow up: Most of the time, you wont have a chance to get through every single question and that’s okay! Follow up with the client for another interview in the near future. Chances are they want to interview again to give you all the information you need to create a great campaign.

Interviews are essential to understand the history, values and goals of any client who is working with an advertising agency. From interviews, agencies obtain a better idea of the brand’s personality and learn how to reach the brand’s specific target audience. It is important to talk to upper management, and employees from different areas of the company too. As Pat Conway said some of the brewery’s most innovative ideas come from his inside staff when he least expects it. Great Lakes puts a emphasis on its employees and loves to hear new ways the brand can make an impact in the community – especially with sustainability. I am looking forward to interviewing GLBC’s staff next week to discover their personal ideas on how to make GLBC thrive.

Throughout the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to contact RTA’s partners about donating event giveaways for the 40+ events RTA is hosting this summer. Most of my communication with these partners has been over the phone, which has been much harder than I originally expected. However, the process has gone smoother as I have gained more experience in how to make these calls personal and beneficial to them.

Below are a few pointers that I have learned along the way (with pet memes inspired by the adorable kittens that visited Brokaw today courtesy of the Cleveland APL):

  1. Write a brief script
    • Have a good idea of why you are calling and what you plan to say. Awkward silence is the WORST over the phone, especially if you have not previously met the person you are calling. Writing a script will make you confident on hitting key points in the conversation. However, do not read directly off your script like a robot. Instead, make your conversation personal just by briefly discussing your notes.


  1. Call at the right time
    • Avoid calling on a Monday when people are slammed with work or a Friday when they are wrapping up their week. The best time to call is Tuesday through Thursday either early morning or late afternoon.


  1. Be Confident
    • Attitude is everything when it comes to going out of your comfort zone to call someone that you’ve never met. Your positive (or negative) attitude is easily displayed in your voice and sets the tone for the conversation. Go into each call with a positive mindset by thinking “I can do this!”


  1. Introduce yourself/explain why calling
    • You’ve got about 10 seconds to prove that you are worth talking to so be quick to introduce yourself and explain why you are calling. Prove to the person on the line that they could benefit from the conversation.


  1. Always follow up
    • Leave the call on good terms and immediately follow up through email. After calling RTA’s partners about the summer events, I send them specific details about the dates and times so they can discuss the opportunity with their marketing team. This also keeps me fresh in their mind in a written documentation of what we discussed on the call.


  1. But don’t abuse the relationship
    • Be patient and give each partner time to think over what you talked about on the phone. It may take many attempts for them to make a solid decision or even answer the phone at all. Do not bombard them with emails, phone calls and voicemails. Instead, give them time to consider their options with their team by spacing out your calls
  2. Keep track of your latest activities
    •  Avoid making the mistake of awkwardly calling a partner when you just talked an hour before. Keep track of the latest status of your call with each partner to stay organized on the latest updates.


Slowly but surely, I have experienced success in not only reaching clients, but also receiving event donations for the RTA. I am no longer intimidated by calling someone I don’t know and asking for their help. I’ve definitely made the right calls by following my helpful tips.




During the past two weeks, I have heard many acronyms used in different contexts. Each time I hear a new one, I write it down in my notebook to look up later. I never realized how many acronyms are used in the day-to-day agency life!

Below are the eight advertising acronyms I learned at Brokaw during my first two weeks:

  1. CTA
    • Call to Action: the backbone of advertising. A CTA includes words that give the audience instruction to provoke an immediate response or action. Without a CTA, advertising leaves the audience with no direct way to respond and is ineffective.


  1. RFP
    • Request for Proposal: a document created by a business to request bids from advertising agencies when extra funding is available for a project. Brokaw often receives requests from clients to join a bid for a new project opportunity. A lot more work than I thought goes into these!


  1. KPI
    • Key Performance Indicator: measures how well companies, business units, projects or individuals are performing compared to their strategic goals and objectives over time.


  1. DMA
    • Designated Market Area: geographic area in which the radio and television stations in that city account for a greater proportion of listening or viewing public than those in neighboring cites. DMAs are defined by Nielsen Media Research to identify the best markets to target.


  1. EOD
    • End of Day: often used to designate the time something must be completed. EOD is traditionally around 5 p.m. but many vary depending on the company or client needs.


  1. CTR
    • Click through rate: a ratio showing how often people who see the ad end up clicking on it, used to gauge how well keywords and ads are performing online. A high CTR indicates that users find the ads helpful and relevant.


  1. SEO
    • Search engine optimization: the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website that ensures the website appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.


  1. ONEWS
    • Oh no! Not another newsletter: the weekly newsletter Brokaw sends out to their clients and employees about current industry trends that relate back to advertising.


Acronyms are essential to understanding and staying up to date with the fast-paced environment of an advertising agency. As an intern, I am trying to learn as much as possible about the different aspects of advertising shown in these acronyms above. It is important to know these terms, ask questions if something is unfamiliar or use good old Google for a quick refresher.

My time as a ‘brotern’ was life-altering.  No, I am not going to over-hype the experience just make a better story.  It simply was.  I remember my mindset on advertising before I knew about Brokaw.  I classified all of today’s advertisers into one group, only reflecting on the bad perpetuated by ads in our nation’s past.  This isn’t to say my classes didn’t teach an appreciation modern day advertising.  Rather, my mind couldn’t move past the industry’s historical injustices.

And then I met Gregg Brokaw.  As Gregg light-heartedly told me the in’s and out’s of him and his brother’s agency, my worldview on advertising was shaken a bit.  I finally met an honest group that was only interested in doing great work and having fun.  What I loved most about how they run things at Brokaw was they never take themselves too seriously.  Their work is edgy, hilarious, and memorable.  Most importantly, they’re passionate about outwitting their competition, not outspending them.  I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to intern as a junior art director up in their creative department.

Over the course of the past ten weeks, I have gotten my feet wet in such a diverse set of work.  Just to name a few: University Hospitals, First Merit Bank, Cayman Jack, Great Lakes Brewing Co., American Greetings, RTA, and a myriad of decks for new business pitches.  I’ve gotten to search through imagery for commercials, layout print ads, and mockup product proposals.  The faith Brokaw has in their interns was astounding to me.  It takes a lot of courage and confidence in your staff to be able to treat your interns like any other employee.  Because of that trust, my admiration and passion for great advertising has grown tenfold and I can proudly say that I now have what it takes to work at an agency. Thank you Brokaw.

Today marks the end of week nine at Brokaw and I think it’s time to share a little update of all the projects (that I can remember) I’ve had my hands in for the last nine weeks:

  • Designs and animations of digital banner ads for 4 businesses
  • Learned Flash
  • Co-designing the annual AAF CLE Volleyball flyer with my other half here at Brokaw, the insanely-talented Dan
  • Redrawing some old logos for a video
  • Mocking up some awesome POS displays
  • Designs for posters and other launch materials for a well-know Cleveland brand
  • Brainstormed a lot of ideas for multiple clients needing help with names for new products and places
  • Designed a billboard
  • Began to teach myself a new coding language
  • Helped out with creating some fun visual riddles for a scavenger hunt
  • Put together a few decks for pitch meetings
  • Designed a website refresh for a new client
  • Helped develop the branding identity of a new business
  • Worked on designs for a huge annual report presentation
  • Came up with some visuals for a tv spot pitch


Basically, these last nine weeks have been a whirlwind of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, learning new things, and never having any down time at work and I am so grateful for that! Brokaw has exceeded my expectations of what an “intern” is supposed to be. I never thought that I would be doing actual client work my first day on the job. I never expected to be valued as a full member of a creative team. I never imagined to get so much knowledge and industry experience out of such a short time here while having an absolute blast.

But I did. And it rocked.

I took a leap of faith when I turned down a few full-time job offers to test out the waters at Brokaw with an internship. It was the best leap I’ve ever taken. I expected to sit in on some meetings, help out with some small designs, get coffee when needed, and learn a little about agency life, even though I didn’t really expect to like the commercial advertising world.

What I actually gained was a love for agency life. As I interviewed my coworkers, I’ve heard people who love the business and people who warned me to get out of it while I still can. But I can’t. Now that I’ve had a taste of what goes on from day-to-day in an agency, I won’t turn back. I love the constant flux of clients. I love being able to work on six different brands in one day. I love working in an atmosphere where I’m surrounded by some of the most creative, intelligent, and incredibly big-hearted people in Cleveland. These brilliant misfits have become the people I look up to most right now as a young creative.

So thank you, everyone, for teaching me, challenging me, and allowing me to grow so much in ten short weeks. I owe you one.

When the half way point of the internship came around three weeks ago, the other broterns and I joked that “it’s all downhill from here.” But now I realize that it’s not. It’s actually the opposite. It’s time to take everything I learned and use it to find my path into the agency world, wherever that may lead me. It’s going to be a constant climb. I’ll never stop learning, growing, changing, failing, and trudging forward.

I can leave this internship and know that I’ve spent the best ten weeks of my post-grad career at the greatest agency in the world (not just according to their moms) and with the best supervisors I could have ever asked for. You’re seriously the best, Steve and Mike!

So thanks, Brokaw. Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m so excited for next years’ broterns to take on this crazy, amazing place.

Til next week,


This week’s brotern blog posts will all be related to social media
(or in my case, a lack there of).

First, I’d like to point out that the technological revolution, as a whole, has been a beautiful thing, connecting people all around the globe that, just a few decades ago, would have never had the privilege of diving into one another’s lives.  Nearly all of my family members now have a Facebook.  I mean a lot do.  All of my siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and extended family from overseas are all “friends.”
This was the spark that put all my views on social media into perspective.

Now, I already understood the negative effects on self-esteem that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. could have on a teen’s brain, within the first few months of beginning my journey through the networks, at the ripe age of twelve.  Hell, I felt them.  Seeing my classmates have fun without me, hearing my crush was dating someone else, and being sucked into careless complaining and drama about adults never gave me a real sense of relief.  But all of it seemed worth it for that sweet feeling of being “in the know” on what “everyone” was talking about.

The more and more my family hopped on the social media bandwagon, the less interest I had in it all.  After all, I saw my family all the time.  I knew they weren’t going anywhere.  What was the point of knowing everything there was to know about one another’s lives, leaving nothing new to talk about at reunions or at the dinner table?  That idea stuck with me and slowly cultivated into the driving force for me to shed the networks that ruled my life for so long.  If family is forever,
why can’t my friends be?

Deleting social media, shedding all the “friends” I barely kept in contact with, and simplifying life down to face-to-face connections and actual conversation was the best decision I have ever made.  Looking back, I wonder how much of my adolescence was wasted worrying about what others thought of me, or what I thought of myself as I dwelled on the past and compared myself to others.

Things feel lighter now.  Absolute.  Thoughts remain in my brain, pictures stay private, and my friends understand.  Everyone that genuinely cares reaches out and you learn pretty quickly who you care about.  To keep this already long blog post short, if you are in need of positivity or a greater sense of dignity, I encourage you to try a month without social media.  The first week will feel a little tough.  You might miss a few of your “friends” birthdays and your Farmville might catch fire, but boy will you get hooked on the feeling of palpable clarity that comes along with your social media sabbatical.

I’ll leave you with that.

Be well,

Before I started working at an agency, I had no idea what to expect.  I didn’t think there would be happy hour in the office, people who looked 25 but actually turn out to be 32, or two Vitamix blenders conveniently in the kitchen for smoothie making.  I also did not realize that working at an agency came with gaining a new vocabulary.

Ever since my first day at Brokaw, I’ve carried around this little brown leather journal.  I bet half the agency wonders why I carry it around, because most of the time I’m not writing anything down.  Well, one of the main reasons I carry it around is to write down all the agency lingo I hear.  I usually have no idea what these words mean, and have to later ask Kelly and Angela for an explanation, but I still write them down.  Here are the most interesting agency words I’ve heard around Brokaw:

  1. Micro video– A micro video is a short video that is 15 seconds or less. Now this word is pretty self-explanatory, but I never heard anyone say it before I heard Kelly talking about the proper length for a social video.  It’s not surprising that a micro video is appropriate for social media, considering the average person’s attention span is 8 seconds.
  2. Organic reach– Organic reach is the total of unique people who viewed a post through unpaid distribution.
  3. Geo-Targeting– Geo-targeting is targeting posts to a specific area. It allows a brand to deliver different content to particular visitors depending on their demographic.  This tool is available on Facebook and Twitter, although utilizing this tool on Twitter requires monetary compensation.

I assume when my broternship comes to an end my little brown leather journal will be filled with tons of words, notes, and probably a few doodles.

What are some agency words-to-know you’ve learned at your internship?

Until next week,